Thursday, December 29, 2011

Funny Moment

I just had to share this quick, funny moment that happened tonight. I gave Jaden a Quaker granola bar, and on the wrapper was a picture of Nick Jonas.

Jaden asked, "Mommy, if I eat this, will it make me blind?"

I replied, "Um, no honey. Why would you think that?"

He handed me the wrapper and said, "Look at his eyes.  It looks like he is blind!"  :)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Magic of Christmas

This whole month we have been talking to our children about the real meaning of Christmas, how it is better to give than to receive, how we are to be thankful for everything we have, how we need to keep our focus on Jesus...and it went well. Except my kids really want to believe in Santa Claus.  They are both at an age where they ask a lot of questions and come to us for the answers.  We still feel new to the whole Kid-Santa "thing", never knowing quite how to respond.

We have told them that Santa Claus was a real person a long time ago (Saint Nicholas), but he's in heaven now and so we just pretend that Santa comes into our homes and brings us gifts.  We have told them that Santa is a man in a costume. We have told them that mommy and daddy put presents out in the night.  But these kids, they want to believe in Santa Claus.

So, when Micah asked for a really expensive Star Wars toy for Christmas and I said we couldn't get it this year, he replied, "Santa can get it, mom. He can get anything."  Hmmmmm.... not sure what to do with that.  When I told Micah he was only getting 3 presents, because that's how many Jesus got, he replied, "No, mom. Santa gets me 3, and you get me 3."  No pressure.

As the day came closer, their belief in Santa seemed to grow, too.   They talked about him every day.  Jaden wanted to walk by him at the mall, but wouldn't let me get close to him.  Jaden started to ask me questions, too, and I found myself waffling - backtracking, if you will.  "Mommy, how will Santa get into our house since we don't have a chimney?"  I heard myself say, "Well, he's magic, so he just comes in through the back door and doesn't even have to open it."  Um, what did I just say?!

Their excitement was building as Christmas Eve approached.  We tried to avoid the topic of Santa, but the boys kept wanting to talk about him!  On Christmas Eve, we put the boys to bed around 8pm.  Jaden got out of bed every 5 minutes- I kept seeing his shadow on the wall - and he whispered, "I'm waiting for Santa!"  At 10:30pm, as I was watching television, I jumped out of my skin as I saw something moving under the piano bench. It was Jaden, trying to fall asleep under the piano so he could catch a glimpse of the man in the red suit.

At that moment, I totally caved.  I went and got the milk and cookies and put them on the piano bench. Then I went and typed up a letter to each boy, on the computer using homemade "Santa Letterhead", about how they had both been good boys but needed to remember that Jesus was the reason for the season.  Martin took bites out of the cookies and we went to bed.

In the morning, Jaden could not contain his excitement. At 7am we heard him running through the house yelling, "Santa came! Santa came!"  We opened presents and then I read the letters.  Jaden asked, "How did he know those things?!"  He held up a half-bitten cookie and asked if he could eat it.  Micah said, "Eww! Those have Santa's germs on them!"

Even though the kids recognized the wrapping paper, and all the gifts said "From, Dad and Mom", they still want to believe.  And I have to admit, it is a lot of fun.  As long as they know the true reason for Christmas, which they do, we decided to embrace their joy and passion for Santa this year.  It may have been last minute, but we came around :)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Last Minute Christmas Recipes

This year we had 9 Christmas get-togethers to attend, and in the end I will have made a total of 12 dishes - Yikes!  I've been searching for new and different (but easy) recipes to make this year and thought I'd pass on a few.  Hope this helps if you're looking for some last minute recipe ideas!

Appetizer -

Red/Green Tortilla Chips with Cranberry Lime Salsa
This recipe was easy and fast to make, and met with rave reviews.  

One of my favorites; serve it up warm in a bread bowl - so yummy!

Main Dish-


I bought a smoked ham from Costco this year and it was really good. Definitely a good substitute for HoneyBaked Ham since that will run you about $80+, and Costco's was about $22.

I also purchased chicken tamales from Costco and they were really good.  Another good main dish if you don't want to slave over the stove for hours.  They are not homemade but do taste like it!

Side Dish-

Easy and people love it!


WOW. I have made these twice and had a lot of people ask for the recipe.  If you are in a rush and want to simplify this recipe, instead of making the first layer (brownies) from scratch, you could buy a mix of dark chocolate brownies and that would work too. Then make the second and third layers from the recipe.

This recipe has been on my blog before, but this one is always a winner!  A great substitute for pumpkin pie.

If you need more recipes, you can visit my past blog post on Christmas recipes here, or follow my recipe board on Pinterest. Thanks for stopping by and Happy Cooking!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


I made myself a Christmas gift today. It cost $2.

I purchased a photo frame pendant from Joann's and, instead of a photo, I wanted to put a word inside. Recently I was given a huge box of old sheet music, so I searched for just the right word to put inside of the frame.  The word I chose was "Sing."

Today I did not feel like singing. It was one of those Mom Days.  You know... "Mommmyyyyyyy!!!" attached to lots of crying and whining.

There are blogs out there that make you feel like a failure as a mother, because they portray life as perfect and fine and dandy, and you wonder what in the world you are doing wrong.  I really hope this blog doesn't make you feel that way. I have always tried to be honest about things, how hard being a mom is, how my boys drive me nuts sometimes, and how there are days I just want to stay in bed with the covers over my head.  Today was that day.

I seriously feel like my boys don't want to have fun. Ever.  Both of them hate doing fun things, and I'm not kidding.  Go to a theme park?  Chances are, they'll cry about it.  Go to a birthday party?  They will definitely moan about it and then not participate at all.  Go to a park?  No thanks!  Go to a fun store with mommy?  Yeah, right!  Do a craft?  Oh please!  What are we doing wrong here?  I feel like they came out of the womb with a "just leave me alone" sign strapped to their heads.

After school is just the best part of the day. Micah comes home, and the boys begin getting all of their pent up anger out for the entire day.  They chase each other around the house, one screaming and the other crying.  Someone inevitably runs into a wall and gets hurt, and then tries to hit the other one for making him run into that wall.  For 2 hours I am basically trying to calm them down.  After about 18 time-outs, they usually end up sitting on their bed until dinner time.  Fun times, people!

Tonight there were tears about the bath not being long enough, about what pajamas to wear, about the fact we were only reading 2 books instead of 3, about wanting more food to eat, and on and on.

What in the world does this have to do with my necklace, you ask?

For one thing, I think we mothers need to do nice things for ourselves once in awhile. Even if they only cost $2.

Secondly, we need something that will always remind us to have perspective.  Yes, today was a bad day.  I should still find something I can sing about.  I know that tomorrow after school will likely have challenges.  How can I find something to sing about in that time?  I'm not trying to be unrealistic - I'm just trying to not kill myself sometimes.  (Not really, don't freak out).  And that necklace?  Well, today I kept grabbing it with my hand and just holding it.  Jesus is the real one who calms me down, but that necklace somehow helped me to stay focused today.

In every moment, I need to find something that I can sing about - even if it is just, "Help me, Lord Jesus!"

Saturday, December 10, 2011

{Pinterest} You Know You're a Pinner If....

Pinterest.  Beautiful, fun, addictive - it's a like a video game for women.  Only now men are catching on too.  If you're not sure what Pinterest is, it is a giant bulletin board of all of your favorite things from the web in one place.  Yet it's more than that - it's the "best of the best" from the web: recipes, decorating ideas, crafts, fun ideas for kids, quotes, and hundreds of more good things.  You can create your own boards of things you're interested in, and then "pin" photos to your boards. This way everything you like is in one place, on one site, and categorized well.

There are so many fun things to do on Pinterest that it can start taking over your life - in a good way, of course.  Here is my Top 10 list (in David Letterman-style) of things you probably do if you're on Pinterest.

You Know You're a Pinner If....

1.  You have 5 sweaters missing arms because you've decided to make boot leg warmers!

2.  You have hot glue scars all over your hands, but tell everyone they are from Pinterest and wear them proudly!


3.  You are on some kind of 30 Day Fitness Plan.
4.  You are looking cuter than usual lately!

5.  Suddenly you're the best cook on the block!
6.  You have bags under your eyes and repeat in your sleep, "Just. One. More. Pin!"

7. You check Pinterest before Google!
(I just had to post this one - too funny) :)

8.  You have pallets lying around "just for fun."

9.  You have at least 2 projects in your house made out of burlap.

10. 30 days ago you had never sewed, and now you're Martha Stewart.

What would you add to the list?  ;)  If you are not on Pinterest and would like an invite, leave a comment with your email and I'll be sure to send you an invite. Sometimes that is faster than requesting to join yourself.  If you'd like to follow me on Pinterest, you can do so here.  Thanks for visiting, and "Happy Pinning!"

(Here's a prettier version if you want to "Pin It"!)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

New Adventures

It's been awhile since I've been over here at The Wonder Years, and I miss it!  I have a few blog posts in the works so please don't give up and keep checking in!  :)

As many of you know, I decided to end my photography business this summer.  After 6 years, I just felt it was time for a change.  When photo shoots start giving you high blood pressure and make you have nightmares, you know you need to take a break.  I still greatly enjoy editing, but the photo shoots just became un-enjoyable after so long.

As I've been praying about what to do next, I picked up a small side job as an Event Coordinator for a small insurance company. It's only 4-8 hours every other month, so it is not much, but still fun.  For a few hours I get to put my business-attire and pretend I'm an executive. Sort of.

Anyway, what is really exciting me is that I've started taking writing more seriously and have been working on a book for the past 6 months. I don't want to reveal the title just yet, but it is a book for stay-at-home moms.  Speaking has also been a passion of mine, and I've been praying for more opportunities to speak at local churches and women's groups.  A few months ago I launched, which is my promotional (ministry) website for speaking and writing.  My blog over there is focused on women in ministry, so if you are passionate about that, please hop on over!   I have to admit, it is humbling (and a bit embarrassing) to have a website named after myself and try to promote it.  Yet in this digital world, I'm realizing people don't take you very seriously if you don't have these things in place.

I'm also very excited to be attending (and working at) the Re:Write Conference, which will be held in San Diego from March 2-4, 2012.  If you are an aspiring writer, you need to attend this conference. Even if you are "just" a blogger, like me, this will give you great tips on how to expand your audience and sharpen your writing skills. The normal cost of the conference (without lodging) is $595, but right now Money Saving Mom is offering a huge discount and you can register for only $199.

That's the latest from my neck of the woods!  Thanks for checking in. Please feel free to visit my new website at and become a follower there too. I greatly appreciate it!!