Monday, December 30, 2013

{Easy} Homemade Guacamole

Confession: I'm a Mexican food addict. If I were dying and could only eat one last meal, it'd be Mexican food. If I were stranded on a dessert island and could only eat one type of food for the rest of my life, I'd choose Mexican food. It is my vice, and I am unashamed to declare it.

One of my favorite Mexican appetizers is guacamole. I cannot turn down a good avocado, and mixing avocado together with fresh spices and tomatoes basically is just a little piece of heaven in my book. About a year ago I found a guacamole recipe that I really liked (found here), and have tweaked it a bit to fit our family's palate. I've recently perfected my recipe, and am here today to share it with you just in the nick of New Years Eve and Superbowl party time.
homemade guacamole
Homemade Guacamole 
6 ripe avocados
1/2 large purple onion, diced
1/2 bushel cilantro, finely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
5 roma tomatoes, diced
2 teaspoons freshly ground sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 Tablespoons lime juice
1 Tablespoon mayonnaise

Place halved, seeded and peeled avocados in a large bowl. With a fork, mash the avocados till you reach desired texture (we like ours chunky, so I do this sparingly, especially if the avocados are pretty ripe). Add the next 5 ingredients and stir with a fork until ingredients are well blended. Add remaining seasonings and mix well. Refrigerate for several hours (ideally 3-4, which allows all of the seasonings to set in well) before serving. This pairs really well with my salsa recipe! Perfect for your next fiesta!

***This post is linked on the following link-ups:
Lamberts Lately Create It Thursday
Mommy Club Link-Up

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Ice Skating with Friends.

Yesterday we had a laundry list of errands to run, and then were planning on going for a family walk on one of the local trails. But all that changed when our good friends called and asked if we wanted to meet up with them at our local outdoor ice skating rink. We quickly changed directions and headed their way. I was a bit nervous about how the outing would go; the last time we had attempted regular skating it was an epic disaster, and Brayden was already a bit timid about the idea.
Brayden did really well this time. Connor only lasted a few minutes, but I guess that's to be expected given his age and it being his first time on the ice.
so grateful for my dear friend, Katie. She was the lone adult on the ice for most of the skate session.
Brayden doesn't know it yet, but I have arranged his marriage to Paige ;) I had gone to get my camera out of the van, and when I came back, these two were skating around the rink holding hands. She's about the only girl that I would allow to do this... Are they not the cutest?!
Brayden, Paige & Avery. These three have grown up together since they were babies.
Cooper and Connor: the two wildmen of the day.

Of course, as our luck would have it, Brayden stomped in a ginormous mud puddle on the way out of the park, and Connor and Tyler were both crying. Our life is never dull. :) So grateful we were able to catch a break in the cold of winter to enjoy the ice with friends!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas 2013 Recap

This year we spent Christmas with Drew's side of the family and had everyone come to us. I'm glad to report we had no catastrophe's like Thanksgiving, which was a welcome change for everyone involved ;)

Christmas Eve we went to our church's kid-friendly Christmas Eve service. They really go all out for the kids, giving them glow sticks (in lieu of candles), and let them jump on the chairs and run in the aisles. Unfortunately for us, we always seem to have one child imploding, even with all of the fun. Connor was literally 2cm away from pulling the fire alarm (can you imagine the chaos of 1500 adults and children in a fire drill on Christmas Eve?!), and then when he realized he wasn't going to "his church", he threw an epic tantrum. Thus, this is the only picture I got of any us at the service:
A merry #fellowshipchristmas to you from bah humbug Connor  ;-)
Clearly Christmas started on the right foot for our middle child....

The boys were VERY excited before bed on Christmas Eve, so trying to get them into bed and then to stay in bed was quite the feat.
in their matching Christmas jammies before bed on Christmas Eve

We wrapped all packages and presents on Christmas Eve, set up the Bible and went to bed...
I love love LOVE the Jesus Storybook Bible, and love how they penned the Christmas Story:
"Mountains would have bowed down. Seas would have roared. Trees would have clapped their hands. But the earth held its breath. As silent as snow falling, he came in. And when no one was looking, in the darkness, he came." 
So grateful for HIS gift to us!
We always read the Christmas story before we open any presents. Drew's mom was a true champ, getting up in the wee hours of the morning so she could join us for all of the festivities.

In our house, Santa brings the gifts for the stockings, and then mom and dad give all the other gifts. The boys were super excited about new movies in their stockings:
as well as light up light sabre tooth brushes:

And this is where I admit to you that I was not very good at taking pictures Christmas morning. Our point and shoot camera maxxed out on the memory card before opening gifts, and since we were crammed in the kitchen due to the tree being in there this year, it just didn't bode well for good picture taking.
the boys got Pottery Barn Kids beach towels. I had my eye on these earlier this year, and when they clearanced them out, I snatched them up for the boys, and then had them monogrammed at a local boutique.
Connor got a Spiderman camping chair. (basically every gift Connor got had a Spiderman theme to it-- it's his fave right now, and so glad it worked out that way).

So the Christmas story of the year goes to Brayden. A few days before Christmas, I took Brayden to the doctor. Our doc was showing Brayden a really cool nerf gun and mentioned to B that he should ask for one from Santa for Christmas. So all this time with me racking my brain on what to get B, and 4 days before the big day, he finally gets it set in his mind that he wants a neon green (his favorite color) Nerf disc gun just like Dr. D. Problem: mom did not have time to go to the store in search for said gun, and assumed that the presents we had already gotten would be sufficient to appease any disc gun wants.

I assumed incorrectly. Literal tears on Christmas morning when he realized that the disc gun was not under the tree. To make matters worse, B's "big" gift was a Captain America transformer that ended up being a piece of junk that was broken before it even was able to be played with. I. felt. TERRIBLE. So Christmas afternoon we headed to Walmart (because I assumed it would be open) to get said disc gun. WALMART WAS CLOSED. Cue round #2 of tears. At this point I feel pretty crappy as a parent (see also: the darts I had gotten for the Nerf guns that they already owned didn't work, so I was in a double gutter. Cue feelings of inadequacy as a boy mom. Who knew Nerf darts were so complicated?!). I promised B that we'd go the day after Christmas, once Drew got off work. Fast forward to December 26th. We walk into the toy section, and turn onto the Nerf aisle. At this point the sinking feeling I had the day before returns, because apparently, unbeknownst to be, Christmas is to Nerf guns and Nerf ammo, what tornadoes and snow storms are to the bread supply. Every Nerf dart and disc that Walmart sells was completely sold out. Bless Brayden's little heart, this was the third heartbreak moment. I felt epically terrible for him. I promised him that we'd get it as soon as Walmart restocked their shelves. As we have been waiting I have researched all of the Nerf info. If you need info on Nerf, I am your girl. I have since learned that n-strike original guns can use the n-strike elite darts. I have also learned that the Nerf vortex guns (the one that Brayden wanted), is old technology that has been replaced with more fancy vortex disc guns (and different colors!). I found an online retailer who has the gun Brayden wants, so we'll have a remedy for all of this soon. THANK GOODNESS.

Carrying on....
Ty was in quite the funky mood on Christmas day, so he didn't participate that much. He did open up a few gifts, and this was one of his faves.

we kept with tradition and made a "Happy Birthday Jesus" cake. After we made it, Brayden told me that we couldn't eat it. When I questioned why, he said "mom, we can't eat that cake! It's for Jesus. We have to save it till we get to Heaven so we can eat it with him!" Oh, faith like a child.

After the cake was iced, we forgot to pick it up on the counter, which is never a good thing when you have a resident three year old (this is a video, which you may have to click HERE to view if you are reading this in a reader or on email)

Connor has been BEGGING for a scooter. It was one of his "big" gifts this year, and he was SO SO SO excited. I was thankful Christmas was relatively warm, so the boys headed out to scoot around together.
at one point while we were outside, I looked up to find the boys sitting down together. I walked over to ask them what they were doing and Brayden said "well, we were a little tired. So we're taking a break." They sat there for atleast 10 minutes just talking and holding their scooters. I just love that they are best buddies.

After our scooter fun we headed inside before naptime to sing Happy Birthday to Jesus.

All in all, it was a good Christmas. I feel like these Christmases over the next few years will be so precious; the kids are in the stage of really eating up all of the traditions and meanings and make things so much more fun. So grateful that God has given me these three precious babies and an awesome husband to celebrate life with. We are blessed!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Dear Drew....10 Years of Marriage.

dating pictures_1
Drew and Lindsey, circa Christmas 2001

Dear Drew-

10 years ago I became your Mrs.
wedding pic1
photo credit Tammy Belin Photography

Of all of the things I’ve done in my life, marrying you is the one thing I am most certain I got right.

You complete me in ways I never knew I needed completion. You rub off the raw edges and together, we have become a pretty good team.

You asked the other night if I could believe we’ve been married ten years. I can’t. Time has a way of getting away from us, and it most definitely has when it comes to our marriage. In many respects I feel like we just got married, yet our relationship clearly tells me otherwise, as we have the battle scars to prove it.

We’ve been through a lot over these past ten years. Things that I never even dreamed we’d go through. Statistics show that couples who experience some of the things we’ve experienced grow apart. That they’re likelihood of not lasting sky rockets. I’m so glad we’ve defied those statistics. That we’ve held hands and ran through the minefields and clung to each other during some of our darkest hours.

They say that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I’d say this has definitely been the case for us.

Some say that love is a feeling. I’m not quite sure I agree. You and I both know that there have been times that we may have loved each other, but we definitely didn’t like each other. I know you know this, but I probably don’t say it enough-- Even in those dark moments, I still choose you. I will always choose YOU. Not because it’s the easy thing to do, because if I’ve learned anything about marriage in the past 10 years, it’s that marriage isn’t easy. No, it’s not easy, but choosing you is the right thing to do, the thing I promised to do, and the thing that I am most determined to see to the end. Come hell our high water, you must know, above all else, that you have my heart.

Thank you for being a strong enough man to say when you are weak. For being willing to work on things, even when they’re not easy. For being a great dad and role model to our three boys. If there was ever a man I want my boys to be, it’s you.

I love you so much, and anxiously anticipate what the next 10, 20 and 30 years bring us on this incredible journey-


To my readers:

I contemplated how to write this post. In the end, I decided a letter form would work best for me, as this is, afterall, a journal of our family’s journey. What I want you to know, is that behind the letter, is a real marriage. I don’t want you to think that it’s all fun and roses in our house. We still fight. We still argue. But we also love. Over the past 8 months, Drew and I have attended what I call “preventative marriage counseling.” I always laugh when I say this to people; living in a reactive society, people automatically assume that because we’re in counseling, we are on the verge of calling this quits. But quite the opposite is true. Over the past 3 years we have seen plenty of marriages, both old and new, struggling to make it. We realized that if we did not make a conscious effort to work on our marriage with intention, that we were leaving our marriage vulnerable for attack. These past 8 months have been transformational for us, as we took down our walls and defenses and learned (and re-learned in some instances) how to work together as a team instead of two individuals. It was hard. And if you asked us, even now, I am sure both of us would say we’re still learning. Marriage is such an intricate dance. I have learned that I have to be OK with having my toes stepped on. That I can’t give up and become impatient just because Drew makes a mistake. He’s learning just like me, and it takes an incredible amount of grace to make the marriage move fluidly. So that’s where we’re at. GRACE. For ourselves and each other. Because we are determined to not just have a good marriage, but a GREAT one. If there is one thing I could admonish any married couple, old or young, it’s to go to counseling. It will seem vulnerable. And it will, at times, be uncomfortable. But it is SO SO good and is the single best thing we have ever done for our marriage.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Tyler Paul {7 Months}.

I literally feel like I just typed Tyler's 6 month post 2 days ago. Time flies. Especially with all of the chaos and activities we've had over the past several weeks.
This boy has been on a developmental roll lately. He is absolutely the most precious thing ever, and aside from the witching hour that has seemed to haunt all of my children (Tyler not excluded), he is an absolute joy.

A few things to note about Tyler at 7 months

:: 7 month highlights::
  • He's a big boy! At his 6 month checkup he weighed a little over 20 pounds and was 27 inches long. 
  • wearing size 4 diapers
  • wearing 12 month, 12-18 month and even some 18 month clothes, depending on brand. 
  • not crawling, but will get up on all fours and rock back and forth. He gets so proud of himself. 
  • He's not allowed the fact that he can't crawl hold him back, and he is scooting, rolling and pushing to where he needs to go. For all intensive purposes, he's mobile. 
  • His favorite activity is the jumperoo. The kid could jump for hours. 
  • He adores his big brothers, and thinks they're better than sliced bread.
  • He eats all types of foods now, and is eating 3 solid meals a day. Thanksgiving was a real treat, as he got to get bites from everyone's plates. He had Mexican food this past weekend and I wish you could have seen his face. It lit up and he looked at me as though I hung the moon. The boy can down some Mexican food. Good thing, because he needs to keep up with the rest of his Mexican food lovin' family ;)
  • no teeth. And none in site that I can tell. 
  • He says his own little version of "hi" and also says Dada. 
  • He has started waving (it's more like an all out arm flail, but it's a wave nonetheless).
  • loves to give kisses.
  • I've started weaning him to bottles/formula. I still nurse once or twice a day, and then he gets bottles for the other feedings (4 feedings altogether). This has been a big relief for me. I've never been a mom who LOVES nursing like some people do, and find that I am much more relaxed when I can just bottle feed my babies. And if I'm honest, I made it a lot longer nursing Tyler than I thought I would, given the fact that we have a crazy busy schedule and I have 3 kids. I'm more than pleased that we made it almost 7 months exclusively on breastmilk. 

Baby Tyler-

I often sing to you and your brothers about how you are my sunshines. And you really are. Even on those long, hard grueling days that motherhood often throws my way, you have a way of making me smile, even if it means I get to hold you a little longer at night and listen to your soft little snore. You are so precious and I am constantly amazed at how perfectly you fit into and complete our family. I am so blessed to be your mommy and so thankful for the past 7 months that God has allowed us to have you. We love you Tyler Paul! 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

2013 Christmas Card.

(I'm linking up with Faith for her Christmas Card Carosel-- you can view more cards by visiting her blog!)

This year I outsourced the Christmas card production. 3 kids and I was waving the white flag to designing our own. Plus, Zazzle ran an awesome Groupon deal that I couldn't pass up. I love  how the card turned out, especially our family pictures (thanks to Bethany Blair Photography!). Also, I was hoping that all of the cards I sent out would get there before I posted this; but thanks to someone stealing the few remaining cards I hadn't mailed out (I'm sure they were sorely disappointed to only find pictures of our family on the insides of those unmailed envelopes).
christmas card

christmas card-back

We hope that your family has the Merriest of Christmases, and is able to find joy in remembering the TRUE meaning of Christmas-- that God sent his son, Jesus, as the greatest gift for all mankind.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Santa, Elves & Mexican Food | Weekend in Review.

We've had a laid back weekend. The weather has been rather depressing (although nothing compared to being snowed in last week!), and by the end of the day on Saturday, all 3 of my boys were back with sky high cabin fever. Lord have mercy... this winter seems to be on track to be a long one.

Friday we ventured out of the house despite the dreary rainy conditions and braved the roads to go and visit Santa. I'll be honest. I find the Santa pictures with kids crying both hilarious and endearing. Neither of my other boys have really given me a run for my money when it comes to crying with Santa. We've had close calls, but nothing that really says "I HATE THIS MAN AND NEED TO LEAVE THE PREMISES NOOOOWWW." I blame that on their uber social personalities. I was crossing my fingers that Ty would be freaked just a little, but after a short stare fest with the jolly old man, Ty looked over at the camera and smiled.
santa 2013 001
Yep. They nailed it.
(Clickable links for the previous years Santa pictures: 2012  2011  2010 2009)

Friday night I realized that I had an expiring coupon for a local yogurt place. So I took Brayden on a little yogurt date. I let him pick everything. He picked candy cane/chocolate swirl yogurt, fruit loops, gummies, candy corn & a bit of hot fudge. I'm thinking he may be part Elf, as he covered all 4 elf food groups rather well.
I love laughing with him.On a date with this cutie. I think he may be part elf, because he had candy cane yogurt, candy and candy corn toppings and hot fudge, which is as close to syrup as you can get. Covered all 4 elf food groups in one cup (plus fruit loops, because one can ne
Unfortunately Brayden woke up with an upset stomach on Saturday morning, so all of our previously made plans went out the window. I was sad that my big guy was sick, but I relished in the fact that Brayden is now of the age that when he's sick he'll actually take advantage of the down time, and sit on the couch and just watch TV. We snuggled for most of the morning watching Netflix shows. This confirms my thoughts that 4.5/5 years of age is one of my favorite phases with kids, second only to the newborn phase. Thankfully Brayden was better rather quickly, and so far, no one else has come down with anything... fingers crossed it stays that way.

Sunday we headed to church, along with what seemed like the rest of Northwest Arkansas. People were lining the walls of our church it was so crowded... not a single empty seat in the building. Such a good problem to have, and I am so grateful to attend a church that has overcrowding issues, as inconvenient as they sometimes can be. We ran into some of our friends after the service, and I had the capacity of mind to ask them to snap a picture of our family. Not very often are all 5 of us are smiling AND looking at the camera simultaneously.
Of course, chaos quickly ensued 2 seconds after this was snapped-- Tyler peed out his diaper and the two big boys tried to make a made dash away from us. Life is never boring with three kids :)

This evening Drew, on a whim, suggested that we go eat Mexican food. If you have children, then you know that this is similar to playing Russian roulette when you have kids. They're either all really good, or all really bad. And if they're bad, it can be epically bad. Thankfully all 3 boys did so well, and Tyler decided he'd try some Mexican food and was about the happiest baby I'd ever seen. Apparently my love for Mexican food during pregnancy has paid off; all 3 of my boys get gleefully happy whenever we eat chips, salsa and fajitas. Also, it should be noted that once Tyler can actually eat more "real" food, we'll have to order THREE orders of fajitas. My boys can split almost an entire order of adult fajitas by themselves. Lord have mercy on us when they're teenagers.

We've got a busy week ahead with Christmas parties, a certain someone turning SEVEN MONTHS OLD, and Drew and I celebrating our 10 year anniversary :) We're also going to be celebrating the fact that our temperatures will be back in the 60s this week, before another snow storm hits our area next weekend. Hope y'all have a fabulous week!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

All Aboard the Polar Express!

On the third day of cabin fever my true love gave to me....
Cabin fever has made us crazy. Braving the roads in the swagger wagon
a car ride to the Christmas train!

We've been on a local Christmas train for the past 3 years (you can see our past rides HERE and HERE). My boys have been super excited about going this year, but with all of the winter snow and doom, we weren't even sure we'd make it. I'm so thankful I'm married to someone who is confident and capable of driving on horrible roads.

My boys were SO excited, but the excitement kind of wore off when we had to wait for what felt like an eternity. The train was running behind schedule, so everyone was off schedule. I'm so thankful that Tyler is a somewhat flexible baby. Bless his heart he was exhausted but was such a trooper.
they usually have the trains set up outside for the kids to see, plus a lot of other little features, but because of the cold, most of it was canceled. They did still have two model trains set up, which both of my big boys loved.
how cute is he all bundled up?!
I'm sorry, when did grow up?!?!
all of the kiddos, ready to go!
my friend, Katie, and her family went with us again this year. She is one of my besties. Also, I just realized that I have worn a red shirt every year we've gone on the train... so there's that.
Santa was on the train, as always. He asked Connor what he wanted for Christmas. His lone reply was that he wanted a new baloon, since the one he had gotten at the beginning of the train ride had popped.
sweet trooper of a baby
this probably goes down as most awkward family photo, but it is better than nothing. Love having this little tradition with our boys, and so grateful that we were still able to go even though the weather was not the greatest.

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