Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Tuesday's Top Ten Plus Ten [Favorite Meals]

I'm going to share my families favorite meals, not just mine. To have more than one person like a meal says a lot about that meal. These 10 meals are a go-to when I meal plan (which is quite extensive - here is an example of how I plan meals for 4 weeks with a once a month shopping trip).

Melany, I'm sure has many tasty meals on her list that will inspire you as well. Her mom is a wonderful cook (MUCH better than myself). You will regret skipping her list, I can promise you that.
 1. Shepard's Pie - This meal is so easy and so incredibly yummy that we eat it at the end of our 4 weeks every month. The ingredients are easy to store and you can throw in about anything.

What we put in it:
1 pound of ground beef
1 garlic clove
1/2 small/med. onion
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 cans green beans
5-6 medium potatoes
cheddar cheese

How we prepare it:
Thoroughly cook your ground beef with garlic and onion (salt & pepper to taste). Once cooked, add diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Transfer mixture into an oven safe 13x9 pan. Layer meat/tomato sauce with green beans, then mashed potatoes. Top with cheddar cheese. Put in oven at 350 for 8-10 minutes (or until cheese is melted).

I've had friends add bar-b-que or Worcestershire sauce to the meat/tomato mixture and that adds a bit of yummy flavor as well. I've also seen it with corn instead of green beans... the options here are limitless!

2. Pizza - I need to expound on this one. We buy the cheese pizza's from the deli section at Wal-Mart and fill it with our own yummy ingredients. This is an every Sunday evening tradition in our house. They're giant and decently priced. Our favorite combination is a can of artichoke hearts, tomato, and chicken OR hamburger, onion and mushrooms (our 2 year old daughter LOVES mushrooms). We've added green pepper to both of those combo's and like that addition as well. Limitless options make it difficult to get tired of this meal every week. Also, we typically top it with extra cheese.

3. Taco Salad - Tortilla chips, black beans, taco flavored ground beef, lettuce, tomato, avocado, onion, sour cream, salsa, cheddar cheese... oh my word... listing all that made my mouth water.

4. Chicken Broccoli Alfredo is actually a personal favorite that my husband eats because he knows I like it so much. My two year old daughter LOVES broccoli and noodles, so this is a meal she enjoys almost as much as myself. Plus I always remember Megan, my roomie and BFF from college. We enjoyed making this meal together many times over the course of our friendship, it's a shared favorite.

5. Kielbasa sausage, Zataran's red beans and rice, with corn bread is a favorite meal thanks to Lori, Melany's mom. It's so easy and my family loves Cajun. Especially Bean who can't get enough of the sausage. We recently came across this variation, which we also fell in love with and will definitely become one of our favorite meals: Kielbasa, Pepper, Onion and Potato Hash
How yummy does that look?
The following meals are a few of my most recent favs. Not sure if it's because I'm prego or because these comfort foods go well with the winter season or if it's because I actually do enjoy them. I'm a good judge of nothing while pregnant...

6. Beef Stroganoff - Last time we had it we nabbed some sirloin steak instead of the cube steak and it was fantastic. I cooked it in the crockpot on low for 5-6 hours with a can of golden mushroom soup, a can of mushrooms, 1 chopped onion, 1 tbsp of Worcestershire, and 1 can of beef broth. About a half hour before serving I threw in 4 oz of cream cheese and a 1/2 cup of sour cream. Served over egg noodles with a vegetable and it equals one heck of a yummy meal.

7. Chicken Noodle Soup over mashed potatoes (Melany and her family refer to this one as Starch-a-Palooza which is way more fun than my boring name.) is a wonderful comfort meal (include a fresh piece of bread) especially on those cold snowy days and most especially on a family sick day. An interesting tid-bit of information for this meal in particular is that the University of Nebraska conducted a scientific study where "They concluded that chicken soup with a variety of veggies may contain substances that function as an anti-inflammatory mechanism and potentially ease the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections, including congestion, stuffy nose, cough, and sore throat." (source and another source just for good measure) Those findings simply add one more reason to keep it as one of my favorites!

While I'm on a soup kick...

8. This recipe for Chicken and Dumplings (YUM.) And it's so easy (I'm all about easy). Side note: I took this recipe to a soup potluck at church and it did not last long. I didn't even get to take the scrapings off the side of the crockpot home, I imagine someone licked it clean.

9. Beef Stew (My sister has this Beer Beef Stew recipe that she needs to share. I had it once and I can't stop thinking about it.)

10. Chili is also a family favorite (sorry my prego brain got a little side tracked over this food topic). We love it over baked potatoes, sour cream and cheddar cheese with cinnamon rolls. Recently my genius husband wanted to try sweet potatoes and I am SO SO SO glad we did. There's something about that sweet and spicy flavor mix that made us want to add it to our favs list...

I think we need to do this list again come summer time because my favorite meals list is heavy on the "warm and comfortable" side. We're publishing this on a warm 70+ degree January day, which is abnormal for where we live, but soup is still a favorite during this time of year; even on a strangely warm day like today....

Enjoy today's list! I hope it gives you some fresh ideas for your next meal planning endeavor. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Tuesday's Top Ten Plus Ten [Closet Favs]

Melany and I have written quite a bit about our favorite seasonal clothing this year (including costumes):
After today's topic we don't have another post on wardrobes, fashion, outfits, clothing or anything of the like scheduled. If you've been reading our fashion and wardrobe favorites you might already know our closet favs. 
Still, check out our lists and see if you're spot on...
  1. Every girl needs a little black dress and I love mine! I have yet to actually wear it out because I doubt I could zip it up over my ever expanding baby bump, but I am super excited for the occasion for which to feel elegant. Check out how cute it is: I FINALLY Found MY Little Black Dress!
  2. Most of the items (like the above dress) were consignment store finds. I rarely buy anything that's not on clearance or second hand. The following vintage shoes are no exception. It's amazing the things you can find, that quickly become closet favs... 

  3. My black skinny jeans are a definite closet fav. They're comfortable and go great with boots for fall and winter outfits or rolled up come spring...
  4. Scarves. I have so many that I can't pick just one. I have a favorite come fall and a couple favorites around Christmas and one or two that are "must-haves" come spring. 
  5. Button ups. I'm a big fan of layering and button ups are perfect with a t-shirt, sweater, cardigan or all of the above. Here are a few of my personal favs... 
    Denim, brown lace button up, light pink (silky & comfy), plaid with lace... 
  6. Speaking of layering, cardigans are also a favorite. Here's a few I wear quite often: 
    I love pulling outfits like this off, which is easy with a few of my closet favs already mentioned...

  7. I do not wear much jewelry but these earrings are a few of my go-to's... 
    My grandma gave me both earrings pictured (I wear them often)...
    I can't pick a favorite out of this bunch.
  8. Flats are a closet fav and these are a pair I like a lot. Purchased for a whole $8 at ThredUp

  9. Boots. Cowboy boots, tall black boots, healed boots... I love them all. I have zero boot bias.
  10. Since we're on the subject of shoes (which are a closet fav) I also love flip flops during the summer months. 
When it's time to dress up I tend to pick at least one of these favorite items in an outfit, but on an average day I resort to sweat pants, t-shirt and hoody, with warm socks and my worn-out slippers. It's the closet fav of every stay-at-home mom, right? Hey, don't judge my mommy garb! For this particular season of life I'll trade my mommy garb for all my closet favs if it means being home with my babies for their first few years of life. The opportunities to wear these closet favs are few and far between, but I'm okay with that. My career can wait. My "going out" days are put on hold. It's well worth the time spent with this little girl who shares my liking for these shoes in particular...

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Tuesday's Top Ten [Free E-Books Worth Reading]

The best kept "secret" for all Kindle users (through the app and device alike) is that the classics are free! I've definitely taken advantage and have thoroughly enjoyed many free books, in fact when I visit this link, I add many more titles to my ever growing "want-to-read" list. I have read a few free books not worth sharing, but this list is worth checking out... 

1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is one of the best love stories ever written. It's full of humor, conflict, and all the elements that make a story great.

2. Mom Enough is available through the website Desiring God. There's multiple downloading options if you follow the link provided. I haven't finished this book, but just by the first few chapters, I can tell you it is most definitely worth reading. It cuts to the heart of the idiocracy of mommy wars and I can't wait to talk about it here.

3. What's the Difference: Manhood and Womanhood Defined According to the Bible by John Piper is a condensed version of Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, edited by Wayne Grudem and John Piper. I am also excited about reviewing this book here because it has clarified the distinct differences between a man and a woman according to how God created us - using Scripture. It's beautiful.

4. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte is another one of the great classic love stories with an unexpected twist making it worth downloading.

5. The Complete Guide To Clinical Aromatherapy and Essential Oils of The Physical Body: Essential Oils for Beginners by Elizabeth Ashley is a helpful resource to keep on hand if you use essential oils.

The next five are books I have not read but are on my want-to-read list for sure:

6.  The Story of Awkward by R.K. Ryals made the list just because of it's description. I'm intrigued: 
If you are looking for a happy book about beautiful people, this is the wrong story. If you are looking for a narrative without emotion, without regrets, and without mistakes, this is definitely the wrong story. This is by no means an uncomplicated tale about uncomplicated people. It is by no means sweet or light. 
This story is ugly. This story is complicated. This story is emotional. This story is tragic. 
In short, this story is about being awkward.
Peregrine Storke is an artist with an odd sketchbook full of pictures she’s drawn since she was a child. It is a book full of strange sketches and awkward characters, for there is no better way to hide from bullying and life than to create a world of your own. With a stroke of her pencil, she has given life to a spectacled princess, a freckle-nosed king, a candy loving troll, a two-horned unicorn, and a graceless fairy. 
At nineteen, Peregrine leaves her home, her sketchbook, and awkwardness behind. But what happens when something goes wrong in the world of Awkward? Trapped inside of her complex realm with the bully she thought to leave behind, Peregrine discovers there is nothing worse than falling for your own villain. 
7. Beauty and the Beast by Jenni James made the list because I'm totally into the TV series Once Upon a Time and this sounds like it's worth a look...

8. Dark Genesis by A.D. Koboah peeked my curiosity considering my interest in slavery. 

Classics such as these made my list because I grew up watching the movies time and time again. At one point and time in my childhood I read each of them, but it's been so long I can't wait to revisit each book.

9. Pollyanna by Eleanor Hodgman was such an optimistic little girl and when tragic events come her way only one threatens to derail her outlook on life. It's one I need to reread as an adult because the grateful attitude is one I need to embrace daily.

10. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott because it's hard not to fall in love with all four of the sisters. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

"The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak [Quotable Quotes]

This book wormed its way into my heart, it took a bit, but the author's writing was so beautiful that I knew I would regret putting it down. I am so thankful I pushed through the first few chapters because it made my top ten list. 

Mark Zusak's style of descriptive writing was so uniquely beautiful that I had quotes galore, just because of the picture he painted with his words. Starting with a Jewish section of town that broke my heart...

Markus Zusak

“It was a place nobody wanted to stay and look at, but almost everyone did. Shaped like a long, broken arm, the road contained several houses with lacerated windows and bruised walls. The Star of David was painted on their doors. Those houses were almost like lepers. At the very least, they were infected sores on the injured German terrain." (p. 51)

His comparisons to a broken arm, lepers, infected sores gave such tremendous insight into how the Jews were seen and treated in Germany during WWII. My little blurb on this particular quote gives it zero justice, but I can't seem to put the significance of this statement -considering the Jewish laws dealing with lepers and infected sores- so I doubt I'll be able to give due credit for any of the other quotes either...

“For now, Rudy and Liesel made their way onto Himmel Street in the rain. He was the crazy one who had painted himself black and defeated the world. She was the book thief without the words. Trust me, though, the words were on their way, and when they arrived, Liesel would hold them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out like the rain.” (p. 80)

And when you read her words you'll need to wring out a box of tissues. The next quotes were simply wonderful, with no description needed of me...

“...one opportunity leads directly to another, just as risk leads to more risk, life to more life, and death to more death.” (p. 83)

"[Mama's] voice was surprisingly calm and caring. As you can imagine, this worried the girl a great deal. She'd have preferred to hear them arguing. Whispering adults hardly inspired confidence." (p. 95)

Okay. Did anyone else literally laugh out loud after reading the first few sentences of the next quote? Please tell me I'm not alone...

“Many jocular comments followed, as did another onslaught of "heil Hitlering." You know, it actually makes me wonder if anyone ever lost an eye or injured a hand or wrist with all of that. You'd only need to be facing the wrong way at the wrong time or stand marginally too close to another person. Perhaps people did get injured. Personally, I can only tell you that no one died from it, or at least, not physically. There was, of course, the matter of forty million people I picked up by the time the whole thing was finished, but that's getting all metaphoric.” (p. 111-112)

I can imagine someone losing an eye from an enthusiastic "heel Hitler" but his last two sentences of that quote stopped my laughing instantly. 

The next quote was taken from a book burning that I thought were beautiful...

“The orange flames waved at the crowd as paper and print dissolved inside them. Burning words were torn from their sentences. ” (p. 112)

How true (but I don't think it applies to eleven-year-olds alone): “Eleven-year-old paranoia was powerful. Eleven-year-old relief was euphoric.” (p. 132)

This description of Max, a Jew, hiding in the basement, fearing every noise, every movement was moving... “Everything was so desperately noisy in the dark when he was alone. Each time he moved, there was the sound of a crease. He felt like a man in a paper suit.” (p. 140)

Liesel and her best friend Rudy did their fair share of name calling. "Saumensch" means girl pig and "Saukerl" is male pig. This particular quote made me giggle (lots): “He was waving. "Saukerl," she laughed, and as she held up her hand, she knew completely that he was simultaneously calling her a Saumensch. I think that's as close to love as eleven-year-olds can get.” (p.144)

Remember that as you read this quote, the narrator of this book is death: “They say that war is death's best friend, but I must offer you a different point of view on that one. To me, war is like the new boss who expects the impossible. He stands over your shoulder repeating one thin, incessantly: 'Get it done, get it done.' So you work harder. You get the job done. The boss, however, does not thank you. He asks for more.” (p. 309)

I took the next quote out of Max's book describing Hitler:
“The young man wandered around for quite some time, thinking, planning, and figuring out exactly how to make the world his. Then one day, out of nowhere, it struck him - the perfect plan. He'd seen a mother walking with her child. At one point, she admonished the small boy, until finally, he began to cry. Within a few minutes, she spoke softly to him, after which he was soothed and even smiled. 

The young man rushed to the woman and embraced her. "Words!" He grinned.


But there was no reply. He was already gone.

Yes, the Fuhrer decided that he would rule the world with words.” (The Word Shaker, p. 445)

Mark Zusah hit the nail on the head with that one. Hitler used words to turn a nation against a group of people. He used words to intimidate, to hurt, to kill, to ruin... Imagine if we all viewed words with such intensity? But with the opposite intention. To love, to respect, to honor, to cherish, to nourish...

Aaaaaaand let's do a 180 with a quote from death that'll make ya laugh...

“For some reason, dying men always ask questions they know the answer to. Perhaps it's so they can die being right.” (p.469)

... and another that'll make you cry...

“For a long time, she sat and saw.

She had seen her brother die with one eye open, on still in a dream. She had said goodbye to her mother and imagined her lonely wait for a train back home to oblivion. A woman of wire had laid herself down, her scream traveling the street, till it fell sideways like a rolling coin starved of momentum. A young man was hung by a rope made of Stalingrad snow. She had watched a bomber pilot die in a metal case. She had seen a Jewish man who had twice given her the most beautiful pages of her life marched to a concentration camp. And at the center of all of it, she saw the Fuhrer shouting his words and passing them around.

Those images were the world, and it stewed in her as she sat with the lovely books and their manicured titles. It brewed in her as she eyed the pages full to the brims of their bellies with paragraphs and words.” (p. 520-521)

I loved that quote because it was the perfect summation of Liesel's life. The next quote was taken from a section of the story where her reaction to pain and heartache left me in a state of reflection...

"She tore a page from the book and ripped it in half. 

Then a chapter.

Soon, there was nothing but scraps of words littered between her legs and all around her. The words. Why did they have to exist? Without them, there wouldn't be any of this. Without words, the Fuhrer was nothing. There would be no limping prisoners, no need for consolation or worldly tricks to make us feel better. 

What good were the words?" (p. 521)

In my own experience, words have been the most effective tool to change my life. I have hated words and I have loved words. Perhaps it was that reoccurring theme that helped me form a love towards the words in this book and events such as this, when Ilsa gave Liesel an empty journal to fill with her very own words...

“As it turned out, Ilsa Hermann not only gave Liesel Meminger a book that day. She also gave her a reason to spend time in the basement, her favorite place, first with Papa, then Max. She gave her a reason to write her own words, to see that words had also brought her to life.
"Don't punish yourself", she heard her say again, but there would be punishment and pain, and there would be happiness, too. That was writing.” (p.524-525)

What a beautiful comparison and an extremely sad part of the book described here... “Papa sat with me tonight. He brought the accordion down and sat close to where Max used to sit. I often look at his fingers and face when he plays. the accordion breathes. There are lines on his cheeks. They look drawn on, and for some reason, when I see them, I want to cry. It is not for any sadness or pride. I just like the way they move and change. Sometimes I think my papa is an accordion. When he looks at me and smiles and breathes, I hear the notes.” (p.527)

I loved the narrator, even though the narrator was death. Markus brought death to life with words such as this: “I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn't already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race - that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant.

None of those things, however, came out of my mouth.

All I was able to do was turn to Liesel Meminger and tell her the only truth I truly know. I said it to the book thief and I say it now to you.

I am haunted by humans.” (p. 550)

Be sure to check out my review.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Tuesday's Top Ten [The Best of 2014]

Last week I shared my 14 Most Popular Posts of 2014, but this time I'm sharing my personal favorites of the year. It was extremely hard narrowing it down to 10! I spent quite of bit of time debating between 16 different posts.... (these are in no particular order)....

1. How Sanctification is Like Kneading Bread is a comparison that I'll never forget. It comes to mind often when various trials and tribulations come my way and it forces me to ask a very important question, How is God using this to draw me closer to Him?

2. Top Ten Book Quotes is a favorite because I am a huge fan of quotes. I can't help marking up my favorite lines in a book.

3. The Visual That Helped Me Understand the Power of the Cross was a form of worship for me. Writing helps me focus my thoughts and organize the cobwebs. Once I was able to draw this visual, break it down, write about it and share it with you, I was in absolute awe at the work of Jesus Christ.

4. Mommy Garb made this list because it makes me giggle.

5. BecKyle, Bean & Baby is another favorite and has been a popular post this year. This post details our huge leap of faith, the feeling of anxiousness that we're experiencing, but more importantly the pure joy we feel as we plan for another addition to our family. And while experiencing these various emotions, we are once again in a place of praise because this story is simply one more reminder that God is sovereign!

6. #1 Marriage Ruiner for Women was written as I was planning for BecKyle's 5 year wedding anniversary. It was a perfect reminder of a truth learned from our premarital counseling that I thought was more than fitting to share.

7. Reasons My 1-Year-Old Is Crying is hilariously irritating that too many mom's can relate to. I could keep adding to this list but it'd now be renamed, Reasons My 2-Year-Old Is Crying.

8. The 40 Day Challenge energized, encouraged, motivated, and refreshed me on so many levels. Each day forced me to focus my mind on God, which improved my relationship with my husband and even my daughter. It.is.a.challenge. and I challenge any woman seeking to draw closer to God and her husband to take it on.

9. Top Ten Favorite Book Characters is a favorite because it reminded me of characters I fell in love with just like they were old friends.

10. The "Secret" to Their Hope inspired me and absolutely amazed me. I couldn't help but write about this particular Voice of the Martyrs story.

This will be a top ten every year, until next time then!

Monday, January 5, 2015

"The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak [Book Review]

The Book ThiefThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It took many pages to get "into" this book. Markus Zusak's style of writing, however, kept me intrigued. His writing is genius and after recognizing this from the first few pages, where I realized the narrator was death, I didn't want to put it down. I will be forever grateful I kept reading because those first few chapters I struggled to read and understand were all made clear the farther along I read. So much so that when I finished the last few chapters, I went back and reread the beginning. I highly recommend you do the same, especially the chapter titled, "The Flag". I have no doubt that if you take this book on with the same reverence as I did to the author's brilliance, you will, like myself, grow to love the book and the characters in it. I liked it so much, in fact, that it took days to write this review. I simply had no words.

How could I give words to the book thief's grief (the book thief = Liesel)? I can't even begin to tell you how much I actually liked her cantankerous "mama" or how much I loved her "papa" or enjoyed seeing the relationship unfold with Frau Holtzapfel or the mayors wife. How could I describe the impact Max's Standover Man or his story of The Word Shaker had on me? How could I even talk about Max without tears? In fact, how could I talk about any one of Liesel's loved ones without tears? Especially Rudy. No, especially papa. Zusak brilliantly gives life to German citizens living their life in the heart of Nazi Germany. Such life, that I don't have the words to describe how much I liked this heartbreaking book. Before this book I felt disdain for German citizens who simply stood by and watched the Holocaust, but now, thanks to Zusak, I don't have words because I know, that despite this book being fictional, it isn't far from the truth.

Thank you Markus Zusak.

It made my top ten list and I'm 110% sure that no amount of "reviewing" on this book could fully detail the impact Markus Zusak's words, descriptions and stories had on my heart. I found it inspiring. I found it unforgettable.

View all my reviews

Stay tuned for my favorite quotes from this incredible book!

I'm still debating on whether or not I want to watch the movie. Books are always better. Because there's just something about words...

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Spilling the Beans [December 2014 Edition]

I asked Bean what she wanted for lunch and she told me, "Mac-n-cheese and turkey. Make it hot."

This is how she dresses up to go to a friends house.
She pulled out her love bug costume (tutu, wings and antennas), leis, clip on earrings and a necklace or two from her dress up suitcase and then asked me to, "Take my picture mommy!" How could I resist? 
That same day she wore multiple crazy outfits. 
Dress up is a favorite activity.
Library day is also a favorite...

She got super sick one night this month and broke my heart when she sat up to throw up for the umpteenth time, started crying, "Mommy I scared." Might as well rip my heart out and stomp on it. Poor thing.

On a funnier note she discovered her nipples. One day while getting dressed she pointed to one and asked daddy, "Look. What's that?"
Daddy: "It's a nipple."
Brielle: "It's a ball."
Daddy: (laughing) "It's called a nipple."
Brielle: "It's a ball nipple."
Now as she's getting dressed she tells me, "Look! Mommy! Nipple! It's ball!" or "I have a nipple!" (as she points it out to me...)

Polkadots are "cocoa dots".

Candy Cane's are "candy cans".

She sings "Ring around the rosy" as "rin a rin rosy".

Abi gagged one day at lunch and Brielle, after her night of throwing up in a bucket exclaimed, "Whoa! Need a bucket Abi?"

Cabela's is "bella's".

She's beginning to form more complex sentences. I first noticed it when she told me, "I don't want to pick up cause I tired."

My favorite pictures this month of Bean and her cousin Abi cuddling.

She's officially in a big girl bed! She was SO excited to sleep in it that when it was finally time to go to bed, she wanted mommy and daddy "OUT." It was the first time she's been so quick to say, "Night night! Wuv you!"

Bean received a magnetic dress up doll set for Christmas and spends hours dressing and redressing these dolls she refers to as her "sisters". They're heavy wooden dolls, but she insists on sleeping with them! I even had to explain why it was a bad idea to take them to the bath with her....

Since February she's been calling her pacifier "coy" (not entirely sure where that came from) but these days she also refers to it as her "facifier".

We were watching Cinderella and we get to the part where her step sisters tear her dress apart.... as Cinderella is crying Brielle exclaimed, "She needs a daddy!" Yes, every little girl needs a daddy like Kyle.

Aunt Sydnie is "Symie" and Uncle Travis is "Ravis".

Briella Bean was enamored with Symie's prom dress so Symie got it out so Brielle could see it, which lead to her trying it on, which lead to Bean wanting a bow, which lead to Symie letting her wear the necklace she wore with it as well, which lead to Bean crying about not having earrings to wear... which lead to dancing... to Wagon Wheel (of course). She was so excited about "wearing" it that she described it to us, "Symie, I have a dress and a bra!"

We hysterically giggled as she pulled something weird out of her mouth and said, "I have a gross!" Now whenever there's something gross on her fingers or in her mouth that's what she tells me.

Dressing her is becoming increasingly difficult. She insists on wearing a dress, tights, and her sprinkle shoes. Every day.

We've been asking Brielle, "What's your sister's name?" and her reply is always "Doctor!" Now when we ask she acts annoyed. I'm sure she's thinking, I've already told you! I don't know what she's going to think when she meets her sister and learns her name is not Doctor....

Thursday, January 1, 2015

BecKyle 2014 Year in Review

  • Briella Bean was 16 months old and I'm beyond thankful I wrote posts like that. I've already forgotten most of what was written there. 

  • Our Briella Bean decided that the song Wagon Wheel by Darius Rucker was her absolute favorite. She'd wiggle her butt and say, "Dis?" (In other words, she was asking me to put on Wagon Wheel so she could dance.) To this day it's still her favorite; we have a dance party almost every day. 
  • We began preparing for our trip to the Bahamas later this month and on into March...

  • Briella Bean turned 18 months old!
  • We had a fantastic trip visiting my sister and her husband on the island of Abaco, Bahamas. It was definitely a highlight of the year, especially since we got to meet our newest niece Abigail. We can't wait to go back someday! 

  • I began my 40 Day Challenge, which was a mile marker in my relationship with Christ. I designed it to refocus my mind on Him instead of the things of this world and after its completion I realized this isn't just a one time deal. I may have to do this yearly. 
  • Briella Bean told me she loved me for the first time. Definitely a highlight! "Ahhhhh ouuuu!" 

  • We purchased a new-to-us camera and put it to practice on a weekend my mom came out for a visit. I think I captured some pretty adorable shots. 
  • Ladies in our church got together and planned a High Tea event that stands out in my memory as a wonderful time of planning, preparation, and partying. Can't wait for next year!
  • One of my favorite phrases we tried to get Bean to say over and over and over again was "I no know know!" (I don't know!) 

  • We enjoyed a family reunion of sorts. My siblings and I got together for the first time in years. It was Unruh-ly to say the least...


  • I suffered through the first trimester blues. Morning sickness? Ha. How about evening sickness. Oh, and motion sickness. Eggs? Yuck. Watermelon? Every time I ate it, I threw it up. Cilantro? Used to be so yummy. I was one tired, sick momma this month and on through the beginning of October. That consumed my life, so I did nothing else but grow a baby!  

  • We celebrated Briella Bean's 2nd birthday!
  • We decided to try a one night camping experience at a lake not too far from home. It was fun. We didn't get a lot of sleep thanks to puppies who like to cuddle too much and a 2 year old who loves to jump on the bed like a little monkey, as a result we decided that one night is plenty for the stage of life we're in right now! 

  • We traveled to Minnesota for a friends wedding. We killed two birds with one stone and visited my sister and her in-laws. It was a wonderfully long, much needed weekend. It was at this wedding that my daughter revealed just how much she adores dancing. She stole the bride's thunder as she danced the night away. (I think it was because the DJ played her song Wagon Wheel near the beginning, which got her off and running.)
  • We visited the same pumpkin patch as last year and recreated this picture: 
    Fall 2013

    Fall 2014

  • Brielle thoroughly enjoyed her first trick or treating experience. She went door to door saying, "Trick or feet!" We thought it too cute to correct. She picked her costume... 
    Isn't she a cute little monkey? Mommy and daddy dressed up too... as Mayhem and Flo. 
  • We made a BIG announcement!

  • November
    • I published the first of many posts about our Brielle called, "Spilling the Beans".
    • I turned a whole 30 years old.
    • We found out that Kyle has another girl in his life! 
    • We traveled to see my family for Thanksgiving. It was a busy few days that I spent sick. Big bummer, but it helped me realize how absolutely thankful I am for my husband and my family.
    • Mandy and David moved in with us for a month before finding a place of their own. They came to our church to learn how to rightly handle God's Word through the process of discipleship. Who knows what God has in store for their lives but I have a feeling that because of their faithfulness in following where they believe God is leading them, they will be used in great and mighty ways for HIS glory. I'm so excited to see the growth in them these next couple of years! They have an incredible testimony to share (and yes, I'll be sharing their incredible story).

    • We went on a wonderful hike in the middle of December. It was so much fun to picnic and walk around in God's beauty - even in the dead of December it was beautiful! 

    • We traveled to Kyle's parents house for Christmas where Bean watched Cinderella for the first time. Her comment to Cinderella's crying after her step sisters ripped her dress melted our hearts, "She needs a daddy!" Yes, every little girl needs a daddy like Kyle. Speaking of Kyle, it was his turn (along with Briella Bean) to spend the holiday sick. Another bummer. Thankfully, they didn't spend every day feeling as awful as they did Christmas day. Memories were still made, like Bean playing in her Aunt "Symie's" prom dress. I can't tell you how many times they danced to Wagon Wheel by Darius Rucker.

      Such a dreamy expression!

    Our 2014 family yearbook:
      Photo books are the perfect gift for any occasion.

      How do I even begin to put words to how blessed I feel? I'm looking through the yearbook realizing that it isn't about the car we drive (haha, partly because it's an old 90's Buick), or our tiny home, or the clothes in my tiny closet, or my career, but it is about the loved one's pictured over and over again. My husband and my children and my family and my friends will forever and always be my focus because they are who God has given me - blessing my socks off. 100 years from now those things I listed won't really matter, but the memories made behind each picture captured with the people pictured are what matters; starting with my life as BecKyle as we strive to keep Christ at the center of it.