Friday Favorites: Year End Review...

Friday, December 30, 2016

It's Friday and the end of 2016!  We are in full-on winter break mode around here...lots of jammies, daytime jammies...err...leggings and way too many cookies.  Did I mention I have to wear a swimsuit for our cruise in January? Oh dear!  I rounded up a few favorites to end the year so sit back and relax!


Here are my most popular blog posts from this year...










We had a delightful Christmas, I pray you did too!  Here's the recap...





Remember this post where I shared my favorite gifts of 2016...

Well my family and bestie delivered.  I am so excited I got a new copper french press (7), Yeti cup (2), marble and wood cutting board (10) and both Scott and I got shoes (11) :)!   This blogging is fruitful, I kid I kid!

Have you seen those favorite things parties?  You know where everyone brings their one favorite thing and normally has a limit of $10.  If I were to bring my favorite thing, it would be #9!  I love JR Watkins lemon dish and hand soap! It's my little indulgence!





And last but not least, we had a few down days between Christmas celebrations and I had a NEED to get my house back to normal. I can deal with the clutter after Christmas for about 2 days and then everything needs to find its home. I felt so much better once I got it all cleaned up.  Anyone else like me?  I love Christmas, I decorate early but when the festivities are over and the troops have left, it's time to cleanup and organize!  My kids happily helped by playing with all their new treasures!



Wishing you the Happiest of New Years my friends
Keep on keeping on!
Erin


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Christmas Recap...

Wednesday, December 28, 2016
Christmas 2016 has come and gone and what a blessed, fun and memorable time we had.  We are so thankful for the birth of our Savior and being able to celebrate with family and friends!  Merry Christmas to each of you too!  Today I am recapping all the fun we had from start to finish, so buckle up there's lots of photos to share...

We started Christmas off with a "Christmas Eve Before You Leave" service with Nana and Papa since we wouldn't see them until after Christmas (those festivities are about to kick off actually ;).  We enjoyed going to their church in town and seeing a live nativity acted out ending with one of my favorite Christmas traditions singing Silent Night by candlelight.



Then Solon's last day of school was Thurday and I am one of 5 homeroom moms ;) so I left the girls with Nana and headed to help with the party.  The kids made these darling puzzle piece ornaments.



After school, we picked up the girls and Daddy and headed out for Mexican - Feliz Navidad!!!!  My kids LOVE Mexican food...they eat their weight in queso and refried beans!



Say cheese....err...I mean queso!

The next morning we woke up to the biggest, puffiest snowflakes and a fresh blanket of wet snow.


So we got to work getting ready for my family to come to town!  They both flew in from Seattle and Pittsburgh and met at the lake house the night before and then drove down!  We couldn't wait so we stayed busy...


We set the table and whipped up some yummy cookies!



Then while Lucy napped we went out and shoveled and built a snowman!


Then we waited as patiently as we could at the window and then jumped up and down like crazy people upon their arrival :)


That night my mom gave us our matching pajamas and we headed out to get coffee and cocoa before driving around to look at Christmas lights and sing Christmas carols in the car.  It was a highlight of the entire Christmas season.  Some asked how we convinced the guys - there were 3 pint sized people who were so excited, they couldn't say no ;)!



The next morning was Christmas Eve and we let the kids exchange their gifts they bought for each other in the morning and then spent the day playing games like table tennis on the dining room table (similar item here).



We got dressed up and headed to church then we came home and had our traditional appetizer spread - everything from buffalo chicken dip to swiss fondue.



Then we opened presents and read the Nativity Story and Twas The Night Before Christmas before setting out 8 carrots, a couple cookies and a mug of milk.  Solon event penned a note for Santa. 



After the kids were tucked in, we played this game.  We laughed SOOOOOO hard.  I cannot tell you the last time I laughed that hard.  So fun!!!!


Then before we knew it, Lucy was our 6:30am wake-up call!  We posed for our traditional stair photo before dashing down to see if Santa came!  And he delivered....


He brought the kids just what they asked him for - a barn and farm equipment for Solon, An American Girl Dalmatian for Vera, and a chair of her very own for Lucy!  They also got a few surprises they enjoyed :)!


We spend the next 2 days in comfy clothes doing this...


...and a little make-up!


...and a little more of that!


My dad's parents drove over for lunch on Christmas Day and we all enjoyed being together.


We spent the rest of our time together playing LOTS of games everything from Operation, to Uno, to Spot It!, to Catan Seafarer's Edition and the card game Hand and Foot.


We finished my family's visit with a trip to see the movie, SING!




It was Lucy's first movie and she did great 95% of the time!  Gotta love those recliner loveseat chairs!

We had a great Christmas and are so thankful our family made the trip to see us!  So many great memories made and traditions continued.  Now off to soak up the last few days of winter break and celebrate with Scott's side of the family!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

5 Post-Christmas Organization Tips

Monday, December 26, 2016


How is Christmas over already? AH!  Now that it is, it's time to start thinking about how we can get organized so we are already for next year's "most wonderful time of year."  You will thank yourself if you do these simple fixes now!


1.  Fix it Before You Put it Away

If you want to finish up a craft, laminate an activity or fix a broken ornament -- DO IT NOW!  I always think I will remember or have time next year and that's never the case.  

We use the Jesus Storybook Bible and this year there was the most darling advent to go with it.  I laminated it and placed it on a little metal ring.  



2.  Christmas Cards & Update Addresses

I love them and hate to just toss them at the end of the season SO we punch a hole in the corner and tuck them onto a little metal ring like these.  My kids love to flip through the cards throughout the year.  We place our card on top and we have about 4 years worth of photo cards!




While we are talking cards, my other tip is that at Christmas is I update all my addresses in my computer that way I have a complete list of addresses.  Some years if I am in a time crunch I can print them off since its in an address template.  I have also used the list for baby announcements, etc.  It seems people move and I add to my list annually so that way I know exactly where to start next year and how many cards to order (I order a few extra and I still ran out this year).



3.  Label Your Totes 

When I pack away my Christmas gear, I label what's inside and each year I re-label if need be.  You would be surprised when you need something random in the middle of year and the last thing you want to do is dig through every box or you want to make sure your kids don't find certain things ;)!  



My husband built these custom shelves in our back room to perfectly fit our rubbermaid totes.  I love that everything is in plastic so heaven forbid there's a heavy rain and our basement has water, everything is safe!  We also hang our wreaths in front of the totes on nails!




My trusty assistant - my label maker.  Seriously organizers you get it, that skip in your step when you think of your laminator and label maker.  **Organizing nerd alert!  I actually asked for this for Christmas one year and Santa delivered :).

Last thing if you didn't use it this year, most likely you won't next year.  Place any unused items in a separate labeled tote so that you can donate or consign at the beginning of the Christmas season next year.  Most places will not take Christmas items now so it pays to be organized and ready!



5.  Redecorate 

Now, last but not least my house can look sparse almost bare when all the Christmas decor goes bye bye so I keep a few little items out all winter long!  I love the metallic touches and a sled by the front door with my pottery snowman.  Around our parts, its a long time until we come out of hibernation.  It's fun to mix your decor up and reimagine areas of your home when you put your normal decor back out. 





Before you go...

In case you need a little indoor excitement between cleaning up and organizing, you can always have SNOW much fun with snowballs this winter break.  Check out this post with all sorts of fun snowball games to play. 




As sad as it is to leave Christmas behind for the year, it is refreshing to organize, purge and prepare for the upcoming year and if we do it right now, we will be so thankful next Christmas :).




PS When I was a little girl, I always left a little something something in my stocking to find next Christmas, maybe I should do that for my kids - they would love it :)!!!!!



Until next time, keep on keeping on with an intentional, joyful, faith-filled life.  #tribekoko

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The Best Gift Devotion Series | Jesus

Sunday, December 25, 2016



The Best Gift this Christmas came into a world that had no room for Him.  Not much has changed in 2000 years.  There is still no room for Jesus in the inn.  


Will you make room for Him in your heart this Christmas?


If you would like to know how I came to my saving faith in the Lord, read here.


Jesus is the reason for the season and the very best gift of all.





Until next time, keep on keeping on with an intentional, joyful, faith-filled life.  #tribekoko

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The Best Gift Devotion Series | The Magi

Saturday, December 24, 2016



Today is our final day studying the people of the Nativity Story, each responded well to the best gift of all -- Jesus.

Magi.

Let's read Matthew 2:1-12.

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod,Magi[a] from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.’[b]
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

The Magi recognized the gift, sought Him and brought Him their most valuable gifts.

At this point in the story, Jesus is a young toddler (possibly 1-2 years old).  The Magi, wise-men, traveled a long distance to find their Messiah and followed a star.  They visited Herod to find out where He was.  When they found him, they fell to their knees in grateful worship and presented them their finest gifts.  Gold for the king, Frankincense for his deity, and Myrrh to signify death.

The Magi sought Jesus.  So often we expect Jesus to come to us, answer our prayers, do what we want.  The Magi give us a good picture of how we should approach our Messiah, with grateful praise and adoration, bringing him our best gifts.  What gifts can we provide?

What are your gifts? Your time. Your talent. Your money.  What are you withholding from Jesus? The Magi gave their very best.

Let's be like the Magi this Christmas and seek Him and bring Him our very best.



Until next time, keep on keeping on with an intentional, joyful, faith-filled life.  #tribekoko


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Friday Favorites...

Friday, December 23, 2016


As a new-ish blogger (I blogged for family and friends for 6 years), I have been eating up whatever knowledge I can get.  This podcast is awesome and free.  I have listened to all 20+ episodes as I shuttle kids to and fro.  Episode 26 I left a voicemail, you can hear my voice about 3 minutes in ;).  You should head to iTunes and download...they are super informational loaded with lots of tips!






This year I made a real effort to wrap as many presents up.  It's so much fun unwrapping that way.  I ran out of wrapping paper twice.  I bought most of it at TJ Maxx this year and I have a deep deep love for polka dots :).







My sweet firstborn daughter and I went to the Nutcracker last Sunday afternoon and had the best time. We purchased a little Nutcracker ornament (which brother promptly dropped and beheaded when we got home, ironic?).  He is fixed and on the tree.  I have always dreamed of taking my daughters to the ballet.  She got a little antsy toward the end but her dance teacher was in it and m&m's helped too :)!






We had our small group Christmas party at our house last weekend.  A friend made Jesus a birthday cake and we all sang.  We kept it simple with everyone bringing appetizers and a silly gift for the gift exchange.  One of the guys in our group is deployed so we are shipping him all the gifts!  I know he can't wait for a selfie button and how to teach basketball dvd :) but it should make him smile.







My mom makes THE best ugly Christmas sweaters.  I am sorry to say - there is no contest.  She was actually featured with Al Roker on the Today Show a few years back. She now has 3 unique animal head sweaters.  This is the original.  Scott wore it to a company party 3 years ago and won the grand prize!  It has been shipped across the county to be worn by family and friends alike.  My mom is so creative!


My sister sporting Rudolph...


This is the mastermind, my Momma, with her latest Christmas Vacation inspired sweater complete with working Clark Griswold lights and Aunt Bethany hat!



Merry Christmas to you and your family!  May it be filled with treasured time and thoughts of our Savior's birth.  If you need a reminder, start here.



May you have the best Christmas my friends
Keep on keeping on!
Erin

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