He Is The Gift.

Here we are the second week into December. It's so hard to believe! I love this beautiful season and have been enjoying the traditions our family has established together over the years. Before I get into some holiday posts I've lined up I wanted to share with you this lovely video. If you're feeling a little down, lonely or questioning the hustle and bustle this time of year can bring, I promise it will uplift you. If you're feeling like you want to connect a little more to our Savior, it will do that too. How thankful I am for the greatest gift that was given to us all!

p.s. If you look closely, you can see a snippet from my How To Wrap A Gift video tutorial at around second :20. It was a fun day when I received that email!

Simple Halloween Decor

Out of all of the major holidays celebrated in the United States Halloween is at the bottom of my list. I love fall and pumpkins. I love cooler weather and hot cider but I cannot wrap my head around dressing up with the express purpose to scare the ever living out of people, especially children. We try to keep things pretty tame in our home. No scary costumes or decor for us. In fact, it's been years since I've actually decorated for Halloween.

I don't want to sound like I don't like having a good time, beacuse I do! I love how excited my children get choosing their costumes. I love watching them gleefully skip and run from house to house hoping to snag a favorite candy bar. I just don't like being creeped out. In an effort to celebrate this holiday that my children enjoy I picked up these darling little mice and bat silhouettes from the craft store for 70% off. Yesterday, while Henry napped Oliver and I set to work getting this house of ours a little more festive.

Oliver loved choosing just the right locations for the mice and bats and I loved seeing Henry's reaction when he finally woke up. Would you believe that he is completely freaked out? Every time he walks past the planked wall or passes a little mouse on the stairs he says "scawrrry!" It's hilarious and a little sad too. Thankfully, after many reassurances from Ryan and I he's beginning to warm up to our temporary house guests.

Disney Halloween Costumes

A couple of weeks ago our family attended a Disney themed Halloween party. The idea was for every guest to come dressed as a different Disney character. It was a lot of fun putting together the kids' costumes. With all that has been happening with our flood it was nice to be distracted from making house related decisions (like choosing appliances) and focus on something a little more creative. 

Pia's costume was easy. Being from Germany, she's never actually heard of any of the Disney characters but was willing to dress up as Merida anyway. We borrowed her dress, snagged the bow and arrow from Target and sprayed a little orange in her curly hair.

Easton had an easy time deciding who to be. We all love the movie Up and thought this would be a fun costume to pull together. He wore his church clothes and added the suspenders from his Trek outfit. I searched thrift stores for a walker but wasn't able to find one so I bought the one here from Wal-Mart for $15 (we added the tennis balls). Easton made his glasses from black pipe cleaners. I know it's hard to see in this pic but I also made a grape soda pop badge. A bunch of balloons and white hair spray pulled it all together.

Abby's tan skin made Pocahontas an easy choice for her costume. We cut up an old shepherd's costume, put her hair in braids and called it good. Abby made the necklace from a long piece of teal ribbon. It was super cute.

Oh, Owen. This boy has always loved dressing up. He wore my cave woman costume from when Easton was a baby and added a wig we already owned. He begged and begged for me to paint some chest hair on him and I finally relented. He loved getting into character. Obviously.

Audrey's Snow White costume was actually her Christmas gift from last year. I put a little mascara and red lipstick on her (which made her whole life) and added a pretty ribbon to her hair.

Oliver pulled this knight costume from our Halloween box and was as happy as can be. I bought him some black sweats and that was it.

Ryan and I took the couple costume route. He was the headless horseman and I was the pumpkin head. The kids kept saying how gross his neck was but he didn't scare anyone so that was good.

Henry refused an individual picture. The woody costume was worn by Easton 12 years ago! Can you believe that?!

We all had a great time at the party. It's nice to have everything ready for Halloween night as opposed to the last minute scrambling I usually do. Have your kids decided what they want to be this year?

p.s. I added some links in this post from some very old posts. It was fun looking back. My babies have gotten so big!

Things Have Been...

Crazy. There's just no way around it, friends. Things around here have been nuts. A little over six weeks ago we discovered that during some simple renovations we made to the White House this summer, a finish nail made its way into a pipe. Sadly, the leak was going on for about two months before any trace of it appeared on the outside of the walls. When we did discover it, (imagine water pouring through the cracks in the basement door jams), we were horrified at the extent of the damage. Half of our newly finished living room floor was ruined. All of the dining room floor needed replaced. The kitchen floor was ruined along with 1/4 of the cabinetry. All of the carpet, built in bookcases and more sheetrock than I care to remember in the basement needed replaced.

When weighing our options, we decided that since nearly 1/4 of the kitchen cabinets needed replaced as well as the entire floor we might as well move forward with our plans for a full kitchen renovation. We were hoping to tackle this project within the next year or two but the flood sent it to the top of the list. It felt so wasteful to have things patched up only to rip them out in the near future.

Thankfully, Ryan is amazing and with the help of friends and family things are beginning to come together. So far, he's removed the wall between the kitchen and dining room, ripped down the false ceiling in the kitchen, removed all the cabinets and flooring, installed new lighting, re-installed the wood flooring in the living room, kitchen and dining room. The basement is back to normal too. The sheetrock has been fixed, the walls freshly painted along with trim and doors and new carpet. Whew!

We're keeping our fingers crossed that kitchen cabinets will be installed before halloween. It's been an adventure living without a kitchen. We have a fridge and a microwave but have been using a lot of the camp stove, crock pot, and electric skillet. Friends and family have also blessed us with meals which has been so wonderful. I don't think I can adequately express how much I miss having a functioning kitchen. It's fall and by golly, I LOVE to bake.

Along with all of this I've been struggling a bit with my health. Having a disaster of a home, a hernia surgery and kidney stones simultaneously felt like salt in a very open wound. One day while feeling a little sorry for myself I read this quote from Richard G. Scott "Challenges often come in multiple doses applied simultaneously. When those trials are not consequences of your disobedience, they're evidence that the Lord feels you are prepared to grow more." Reading this brought peace to my soul. Really, it's a blessing to have challenges because that is how we are able to become who our Father in Heaven knows we can become. Everyday I wake up feeling a little better and have seen so much goodness from those around me that have so willingly served our family. I've been taught and humbled and for that I am very thankful.

Back to School Feast 2014.

The children begin school on Tuesday so it was time to hold our annual back to school feast. This is an evening we all look forward to and it was fun having the opportunity to share it with Pia. After everyone was seated (and quiet, which can be a feat) I pinned a little chalkboard tag to each of their shirts that had the number of the grade they will be entering this year written on with chalk. A little badge, if you will.

Oliver was so worried I was going to poke him with the safety pin.

Before we ate we also unveiled our new family theme for the year. Ryan and I think and pray about what we feel our children need before choosing our theme and this year, the inspiration came from this Mormon Message. Our children are each beginning a new stage. Oliver's in Kindergarten, Audrey's in first grade and will be gone all day, Owen is going into fourth grade without his two best buds, Abby is beginning seventh grade, Easton will be a freshman in high school (!!!) and Pia is not only starting out the year at a new school but in a completely foreign country. We wanted them all to know that our Heavenly Father is always there and they can pray to Him whenever they feel they need to. We want them to keep praying, when they're in need but also when they're feeling thankful. There are so many reasons to pray and we hope that this theme will help them strengthen the lines of communication between them and their Father in Heaven.

My plan is to get our theme printed up and framed so we see it often.

Do you celebrate the new school year with a back to school feast too? If so, I would love to hear about it.