What’s Up Wednesday: 11/22/17

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I thought it would be fun to jump in on What’s Up Wednesday!  I love Mix & Match Mama’s blog, and have wanted to start doing these posts for a little while.

Here are the questions:

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1. What we’re eating this week…

Nothing else matters except the Thanksgiving dinner we will be having tomorrow!  Since moving down to NC, we have gone back to New York every year for Thanksgiving, but since we are making a big trip next month (more on that in a sec), we decided to stay put this time.  We are really going to miss my family, but some friends invited us over to their house so that will still be fun!  We will be contributing roasted brussels sprouts (which I’m obsessed with recently – along with everyone else!), cauliflower, and pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting.  My sister always makes these bars, and you know that Paula Deen doesn’t mess around with desserts!  If only I had my mom’s corn pudding…oh, and my sister’s sweet potato casserole with its sugary, nutty, candied topping…mmmmmm

2. What I’m reminiscing about…

At Henry’s pre-k Thanksgiving Feast, I ran into Charlie’s old preschool teacher, and we talked about the days when Charlie was Henry’s age and Henry was just a baby!!

And so we don’t leave Sienna out – here she was (at Charlie’s age!)

Aaaaah, I love them so much now, but it still breaks my heart a little seeing them so much younger!

3.  What I’m loving…

Speaking of Henry’s preschool, I really love it!  Here’s a pic from his Thanksgiving Feast.  On a side note, his teacher commented on how funny it was that the girl’s in the class all said they were thankful for their families, or specific family members.  The boys were all thankful for Lego, trains, or pokemon.  Hahaha!

It’s a Christian school, so they teach from that perspective, the staff is amazing, and his teacher does an incredible amount of fun crafts and activities with them!  He comes home talking about their science experiments and carrying a backpack full of projects.  It lets me off the hook from doing all of those things with him at home too!  🙂  Although Henry described a really fun sounding experiment when they made popcorn “dance” and he told me what they mixed in a jar (I checked online first that he was right, so I didn’t end up blowing up my kitchen), and it was a lot of fun!

4. What We’ve Been Up To…

This past weekend we took out our Christmas decorations and Sienna and I had a lot of fun figuring out where everything should go, since this is our first Christmas in this house!  Maybe I’ll take some pics and put them up after we’ve bought our tree.

5. What I’m Dreading…

6. What I’m Working On…

7. What I’m Excited About…

Ok, these are all the same thing!!! I am really excited about, actively working on, but sort of dreading…CHRISTMAS SHOPPING!  I really love giving gifts and seeing people light up when they receive a present that they enjoy.  What I’m NOT a fan of is going through our kids’ wish lists and paring down things that I think really aren’t great gifts (As an example, half of Charlie’s list is Pokemon things, but he has liked pokemon for about five seconds and I think he may move on to something else pretty quickly and so don’t want him to receive things he will value for only a short amount of time), and then delegating to all the family members who should buy what (because our family thoughtfully asks what to get for them).  I’m sorry if I sound like a grinch!

One thing I am excited about is that I am trying to get most of my Christmas shopping done early this year.  To be honest, I am usually still wrapping gifts on Christmas Eve!  Yes, I’m one of those.  I watched a video recently though about having a stress free Christmas by Kaley at The Merry Little Christmas Project, and one of her biggest tips about enjoying December and all of the fun Christmas family time is to have all of your shopping done and wrapped by December 1st.  I’ll let you know whether that actually happens!  One tricky thing about our shopping is that David’s family is all in England, and now all of my family is in New York, so the long distance gift giving complicates things a bit.  But I’m mostly excited about picking out fun gifts for everyone!

8. What I’m Watching/Reading…

Last month, my book club read, “The Dry” by Jane Harper and I loved it!  I listened to the audiobook version, which was so fun because it takes place in Australia.  It also really slowed down the speed at which I consumed the storyline – I’m sure if I read the book myself I would have sped through because the plot is intense and compelling, but the slower pace of the audiobook forced me to pay attention to every detail.  I also listened to “The Bookshop on the Corner” by Jenny Colgan, and that was a super sweet, fun, romantic, love letter to book nerds!  Plus, it takes place in England and Scotland, which makes for some really fun accents when listening.  I also read, “Lost Lake” by Sarah Addison Allen and “Number the Stars” by Lois Lowry (to screen for Sienna).  I’ll write more details about all of these in my next book review.

I haven’t been watching much TV – I’ve been on a big reading kick instead!

9. What I’m Listening To…

The audiobooks mentioned above and Christmas music!

10. What I’m Wearing…

I’m not the person to ask for fashion advice, so I’m not answering from that perspective!  It’s been nice though to wear more layers – I like button downs with cocoon cardigans or loose, long sleeved shirts with the same sweaters on top.  Honestly, I have a somewhat small wardrobe and tend to wear the same things on repeat!  Recently I have been pairing these old forever 21 dark maroon pants with this navy sleeveless top from target and this mustard cocoon cardigan from target.

It’s comfortable, and I feel like you’re allowed to mix these jewel tones together in the fall.  But I don’t really know anything about fashion, so I could be totally wrong.  🙂

11. What I’m Doing This Weekend…

Hopefully we will be getting our Christmas tree!  We always go out and eat pizza, then pick out a tree (the kids wear their Santa hats).  And everyone helps bring it inside and get it set up and decorated.  Here we are last year:

12. What I’m Looking Forward to Next Month…

We are going to ENGLAND!! We have not been there for Christmas since Sienna was five months old, so we are all so excited to be going during the holiday season.  We never get to share Christmas with David’s family in person, so we are ready for lots of great memories!  David’s brother and his wife also have their first baby due mid-December, and we cannot wait to meet her!

BONUS – Elf on the Shelf Ideas

So.  Call me Scrooge, but I don’t want to pay $30 for an elf on the shelf, even though Charlie and Henry have both asked for one.  Last year, Charlie wanted one so badly that he asked if I could print out a picture of one on the computer.  He colored it in, then asked me to “laminate” it with packing tape.  Then he started hiding it around the house for everyone to find.  I thought it was a win, win because A) I didn’t have to buy a real elf, and B) Charlie was able to be creative.  At least that’s what I’m telling myself, because it makes me feel better about depriving my kids.  🙂  Here’s the elf Charlie made, hiding in our tree last year:

A couple of weeks ago, Charlie saw a really cute little elf ornament at Target for $2 and secretly asked if we could get that to use as an elf to surprise Henry.  I thought that was really sweet of him and it was priced just right, so we will be introducing that little elf to our family this year!  Our elf is not very creative or mischievous though…so he will not be rigging up complex ziplines or spilling flour everywhere.  I have a feeling that he is very, very good at hiding though!  😉

 

I hope you have a fantastic Thanksgiving!!

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2017: January – March

Here are some more photos to try and catch up with what we’ve been up to so far this year:

January – My Sister’s Baby Shower

Sienna and I flew to New York for the weekend to celebrate my sister’s baby shower!  She was expecting twin boys (who are now four months old and so cute!!)  The theme was “Twinkle Twinkle Little Stars.”  It was nice and simple, and my mom did most of the decorations herself!

I copied this sign from something I found on pinterest using a simple chalkboard and chalk marker my Mom bought at Michael’s.  My sister now has it in the boys’ nursery.

My Mom assembled these little mason jar decorations with fake votives and made the little gift bags using personalized stickers she ordered from etsy (they are filled with gold wrapped Rolos and star chocolates).

She also ordered this cake from a local bakery – but was disappointed that they made a slight error in the writing! (Although, to be fair, they probably thought it would be a mistake to write, “twinkle twinkle little starS”)!

The beautiful Mom-to-be!

Posing in the airport, pretending we stopped in the city!

With our mocha and hot chocolate.  🙂

Somebody turned 7!!

We had a little fun in the snow.

And welcomed two sweet baby boys from afar! H:And L:

And poor Charlie broke his arm in a soccer game…which meant he missed almost the whole season!  🙁

We also did some house hunting, and ended up buying a home!  🙂  Woohoo!  That’s enough for one post, I think!

 

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Well, hello there

I’ve spent months telling myself I would start blogging again soon, but I am nothing if not a supremely talented procrastinator.  So many months later, I am finally logging in and playing a little catch up.  To be fair, a LOT has happened in the past half a year.  We went to New York as a family for Thanksgiving, Sienna and I flew back in January for my sister’s baby shower, we bought a house and moved, my sister had her beautiful twin boys, we hosted my in-laws and went to Savannah with them, and I flew up to New York to visit my sister’s family and love on my newest nephews!!  Then all five of us drove back up to New York to see family, and we hosted my husband’s teenage cousin from England for a couple of weeks!  Those are a few of the biggest events that jump out to me, so we have been keeping ourselves quite busy.  I am excited to get back into a more regular routine with sharing what is going on with our family and also talking about some of the wonderful books I’ve been reading! #imanerd  So without further ado, here’s a little photocentric walk down memory lane.

Our Thanksgiving Trip to New York

While there, we visited our NY house for the last time, as it had just sold after being a rental for a few years.  That was a very bittersweet experience.  It is the place we brought all of our children home from the hospital to.  We lived there for seven and a half years, and it will always be where our family began.  There were some tears, but it was a great chance to say goodbye to our first home.  I’m so thankful that we were able to do this!

We got to see some dear friends that we used to live around the corner from!

After we came home, it was time to get ready for Christmas! We started with our annual pizza and Christmas tree night.

We also took a trip to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville.  It is so beautiful at Christmastime!

They even had visits with Santa in the Antler Village section of the estate!

Sienna was really oohing and aahing over the dollhouse village on display, which I was happy about because I had been working on assembling a little gift that my parents, sister, and brother-in-law had bought her for Christmas…

(Which, by the way, still isn’t entirely finished!!) It took so many hours, though, that I am having a nice, long break.  Maybe it will be completely done by next Christmas. 😉

I will continue some updates in the next post – working my way into 2017!!

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The Best Sweet Potatoes Ever

The Best Sweet Potatoes Ever

Our family loves Mexican food.  We LOVE it – it is one style of food that we can all agree on!  Tacos, nachos, burritos, quesadillas, rice and beans…it’s all good.

Sweet potatoes are another story.  To me, they are always “meh.”  My husband isn’t the biggest fan.  And sure, my kids all devoured sweet potatoes when they were babies and it was pureed, but for some reason when they started eating solid food my older two never wanted to eat sweet potatoes again.  Not even in french fry form (what?!  I know, right?  I thought kids liked anything that was fried and could be dipped in ketchup).

Then this recipe walked into my life and everything changed.  It marries the unpopular (in my house) sweet potato with the delicious flavors of Mexican food and voila!  We have a winner, ladies and gentlemen!  I have my friend Brandie to thank for passing it along to me.  All five of us enjoy this dinner, and so sweet potatoes are in our regular dinner rotation.  I’m sure that these would come out tasting amazing if you followed the recipe exactly, but I changed a few things: I added ground turkey (my husband thinks a meatless meal doesn’t really count as dinner), and I don’t serve it stuffed back in the potato skins.  Instead, I wrap the mixture up in a tortilla with shredded cheddar (for the kids) and my husband and I eat it straight out of a bowl with cheese and avocado.  It’s also great as a dip for hearty tortilla chips!  I highly recommend the Trader Joe’s quinoa and black bean infused tortilla chips (pictured above).  Add some baby carrots or salad on the side, and you have a super healthy meal packed with flavor.  Did you know sweet potatoes are high in fiber and full of calcium, potassium, and vitamins A & C?  So if your kids (or husband) are convinced they don’t like sweet potatoes, try this recipe and see if you can change their minds.  🙂

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