"By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge it's rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." Proverbs 24:3-4

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Thanksgiving Traditions

Family Traditions...

Do you have any?

"Traditions create memories. 
Traditions help impart our life values to our children.
Traditions help give children a sense of identity.
Traditions help to create a sense of belonging.
Traditions offer a sense of security." 
~Alison Lee

What beautiful thoughts!!!

Let's never underestimate the power of simple family traditions!

They are gifts of comfort we can give to our families!

If you happen to be young and newly married, perhaps you're thinking, "Do we have any traditions that are cultivating these emotions?"

Don't worry! You probably do! (And by the way, they will strengthen and get richer as the years go on! *smile)

The best family traditions are the ones that you just sort of settle into. You will bring a little from your background, and your spouse will bring a little from his... and over time they will meld together to make your family culture ~ Your family traditions.

We have a few Thanksgiving traditions in our family...



We've made homemade monkey bread every Thanksgiving morning since our oldest was a toddler.

The kids love to roll and dip the dough...


While it's baking, we make sausage and eggs, then sit down to a perfect Thanksgiving morning!


Yes, it'll be a wonderful Thanksgiving! I just know it!

"I will enter His gates with Thanksgiving in my heart. I will enter His courts with praise!" Psalm 100:4

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

It is calm and mild out here at our farmhouse...


And once we're dressed and the sweet potatoes have baked, we load up our family car and drive over to Grandma and Grandpa's, where the turkey and the cousins are calling our name!

"Over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house we go....."

~ We are SO blessed! ~


(This isn't even all of us. There were other family members that joined us that are not pictured here. We kind of had to take pictures in shifts.)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

"At the heart of every Family Tradition is a meaningful experience."


The kids played so well together! They danced and laughed... and even performed a piano recital for us! Hopefully it'll be the start of a brand new tradition!

:) :)


"There's a happy feeling nothing in the world can buy. When they pass around the coffee and the pumpkin pie...."


"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever." Psalm 136:1

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

On the morning after thanksgiving, we drive to the most wonderful tree farm to find and cut the perfect Christmas tree.

Have you ever done this?

Oh, you should! It is the most wonderful way to find a tree!

Make sure to bundle up!


I would rather be here doing this than in Black Friday traffic and lines!!!

Right behind my head is our tree!


"Family traditions counter alienation. They help us define who we are; they provide something steady, reliable and safe in a confusing world." ~Susan Lieberman


We actually brought home two trees! (Which I plan to show you in an upcoming post!) After hunting them down and loading them up, we were ready for a hot chocolate break...


To top it all off, we got to say "hello" to Comet and Cupid before heading home...


What a lovely day!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

While old traditions are comforting and reassuring, it's sometimes fun to create new traditions, too!

A sweet friend of mine came up with the idea to go see The Nutcracker ballet on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

What a wonderful idea it was!

My daughter Nola has been in ballet since she was three, so she came along, too!

Here we are all dressed up to go...


"It's not about DOING MORE... It's about making choices, fostering creativity, and building family connection." ~Jean Van't Hul


An extra, special treat was finding out that Nola's ballet instructor was performing in it!

We sure had fun looking for her on stage and watching her dance!

We were even able to find her after the show to tell her, "Well done!"...


And to give her this mini rose bush with a hug...


(By the way, as a side note, the pink stuffed fox that you've been seeing in these pictures is Nola's pet, Joey. She's convinced she's real and takes very good care of her! And I make no attempt to try to convince her otherwise! I believe in letting children have their innocence and imagination for as long as possible!)

;)

Nola told me while we were watching the show, that she felt inspired to get back to dance class!
Of course, if you know me and my history with dance, this is music to my ears!!!

I could tell she was thoroughly enthralled for the entire 2-hour long show!

"You are the books you read, the shows you watch, the music you listen to, the people you spend time with, the conversations you engage in. Chose wisely what you feed your mind." ~David Wolfe 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

As I sit here typing on this Sunday night, I realize our wonderful, extra-long, holiday weekend is coming to a close....

Our hearts and tummies are full...

On our minds, still fresh, are the memories made...

And our home is beginning to look a lot like...


Well.... I'll save that for next time, friends.

(*wink)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

xo,

~ Courtney ~







Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Nola Josette

Well, friends -

We've made it through another year of November birthdays at our house!

~ Whew! ~

Now it's onward and upward to the holidays!

I told you in my last post that two of our children have birthdays this month. 

My Roman turned 8 on November 10th, and Nola turned 6 on November 22nd.

This is her and I on the morning of her birthday:
(You may have noticed in the title, her name is Nola Josette. Isn't that beautiful?! A beautiful name for a beautiful girl!)


She is a joy to me!!!

I really wanted to give her a special birthday!

I've mentioned to you before that I like to use my blog to record family stories and events, so today's post is about my Nola!

We began the day with presents!


Her brother's made cards for her: 


Nola really loves pink, so instead of our standard green smoothies that I tend to make a lot for breakfast, I made pink smoothies in honor of her.

(Healthy living tip: Smoothies are very easy and very healthy and kids think they are yummy! So if you're looking for a quick and healthy breakfast idea, pull out your blender and make a smoothie! This pink one was made with a banana, a good quality probiotic yogurt, frozen berries, and ice.)

Nola is still adorable in her pajamas and bed-head:


After breakfast we got ready to head out for the day.

I told you in my last post that I let my children take the day off of school and choose what they want to do for their birthdays. This year Nola chose to go to a nice cafe for a brunch and cake, and then over to the mall for some shopping/girl time.

Her grandma's, aunt, and cousins joined us!

Also upon her request, was to have her hair french braided by one of her grandma's (who Nola has decided is the best french braider in our family).

This was the result. She was thrilled!


Our time at the cafe included chocolate cake:
(The waitress was so sweet to accommodate us by bringing it out with a lit, pink candle!)


More presents to open:


And a surprise visit from dad!
(He didn't tell us he was going to be stopping in. Nola was wonderfully surprised! He even brought her a flower... It was bigger than her head!)


When our time at the cafe was through, we headed over to the mall. Nola had some birthday money to spend, so we all just basically followed her around and let her pick out toys and treats. This was actually a very special thing because my kids are used to me dragging them all over the mall according to my agenda! Haha... So, she was all smiles and giggles when we'd leave a store and say, "Ok Nola, where are we going next?"

(Nola with her little cousin, Cece, showing off their new "Best Friends" bracelets:)


In case you are wondering, my boys were with us, too. I told them ahead of time that this was a day for Nola and that I expected them to quietly tag along and not cause problems. They did great! It's good for kids to learn that sometimes it's not about them! So don't ever feel bad to run errands, meet friends for lunch, etc... and expect your kids to be along for the ride! It will teach them patience, cooperation, and that the world does not revolve around them! 

After a few hours at the mall, Nola was ready to head home so that she could play with all her new toys.

That evening we had her birthday dinner.

She chose cheese pizza and pink lemonade.

I did my best to make it special...


I set the table with pink kisses, flowers, and framed pictures from when she was a baby...


In this picture you can see the window sill behind the table is lined with birthday cards. This is one of our traditions. I line up the birthday cards so that during dinner I can point to them and say to the birthday boy or girl, "Look at all these cards! Look at how loved you are!!!"


When Nola turned one, I wrote her a short letter in the back of her baby book. It's always fun for me to pull out the children's baby books on their birthdays. 

(Me and Nola on the night she was born:)


The letter I wrote came after a series of pictures from her first birthday party.

(Me and Nola on her first birthday:)


I'll share it with you...

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"I think you enjoyed your first party, Nola. I really enjoyed putting it together for you. You are such a delight to me! I have really loved this first year with you in my life. You are so much fun! Some prayers I have prayed over you this past year include: 
~ That the Lord will grant you repentance at a young age, and you will come to know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior.
~ That you will love Him and serve Him all the days of your life.
~ That I can be a good mama for you and have the wisdom to raise you how God wants you to be raised.
~ That the Lord will always protect you and keep you safe.
~ That the Lord will give you a heart that wants to obey and do what's right.
~ That the Lord will raise up a Godly man to be your husband someday, and that he will be a man who chases after God and seeks His ways.
I promise to pray for you for the rest of my life, Nola. I thank God for giving you to me. I consider you a precious gift. 
I love you!
~ Mama"

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 


Girlfriends, don't fall out of the habit of praying for your children! It's a powerful tool that we have and God is faithful to hear the prayers of His people!

But back to the night of Nola's birthday... When bedtime came, daddy doted on her...

He loves her so much!


(This is dad and Nola on the night she was born:)


What a difference a short six years makes!

It's been a lot of fun for me to watch Micah interact with Nola! His heart melts over her and I've noticed he has really softened since she was born! I just love it! 

Nola is so blessed!


And I'm so blessed by having her in my life, as well as YOU, my readers!

Thank you for reading today!

Hopefully you're all set for Thanksgiving tomorrow! I wish you the happiest Thanksgiving, friends!

We have so much to be thankful for!

I'll be back soon...

xo,

~ Courtney ~





Monday, November 14, 2016

Roman Micah

Oh, friends!

It has been too long. I have missed you!

I have been a busy bee ~ reading stories to my children, Christmas shopping, baking pies and cookies, kissing boo-boo's, enjoying the beautiful autumn weather, and feathering our "nest" to make it a warm and safe haven for my loved ones. 

My beloved blogging activities, unfortunately, took a back seat while I was buzzing around with all of that. ~ *sad face ~

BUT! I am back to share with you about my oldest son, Roman. 

November is an extremely special month in our home, because two of our children have birthdays this month! Which is another reason for my blogging absence. I love making my children feel cherished and honored on their birthdays!


Eight years ago I was only 25, and getting ready to have my very first baby!

Here I am with my mother, and Roman is safe in my tummy:


A few weeks after this photo was taken, my Roman Micah was born:


Looking at my face in this picture reminds me of how relieved I felt that he was finally here! I won't bore you with unnecessary details, but I'll just say... My water broke (why do they call it that?) at about 5am on Sunday morning, November 9. Being the complete novice that I was, I went to church that morning! (Stupid! Stupid! Haha...) And after a long and rough 2 days, (again, sparing you the *ahem details) he was born at 7:20 Monday night, November 10th.


The whole thing was traumatic and wonderful all at the same time!


When I brought him home, I dove head-first into my new "job" and wanted nothing else but to be the best mother that I could be for him.

I was overwhelmed by the HUGE responsibility but also the deep love that I felt!



My heart was bursting with a strong desire for him to seek, love, and obey God all the days of his life. And I felt like it was my job to instill that in him! So, when he was an infant, I composed a list of 10 prayers that I prayed over his head regularly when he was a baby. 

While preparing for this post I managed to find the original list!
(You guys! I typed it out onto colorful paper! Plus I used a fancy font! I am shaking my head over here! Haha... Sheesh! The things you do with your firstborn... *eye roll...)

Anyway, I'll share it with you!
Here it is:


At night, when I would tuck him into bed, I would literally hold this list in my hands, stand over his crib, and read (pray!) them aloud.


"For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their prayers..." 1 Peter 3:12

God heard me and was faithful. When Roman was five years old he came to me, unprompted, and told me he wanted to ask Jesus into his heart. We sat and talked about his sin, and repentance, and God's forgiveness. I hesitated leading him in the Sinner's Prayer because I feared he was too young. But then the Lord reminded me of what Jesus said in Matthew...

"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Matthew 19:14

Roman asked Jesus into his heart that day!

Over the past few years I have been truly blessed by watching him grow in the Lord.

"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in truth." 3 John 1:4

Now he is 8! And his birthday was really special...


On my children's birthdays, we take the day off of school and responsibilities. They get to plan our activities and choose what they want as their birthday dinner.

Roman wanted a day to play with his cousins:



It was an eventful day! ;)


When we arrived home, I got straight to work on his birthday dinner. His menu was specific. He wanted homemade cheeseburgers with pickles and bacon. I also caramelized slices of onion. (Our house smelled fantastic! Haha) Also on the menu was fresh fruit, candy, and cranberry juice. 


I did my best to accommodate his menu request, and to capture the moment he came to dinner. His face is a little blurry because he was in motion, but I love that his excited expression can still be seen!


I sure hope that when my children are grown, that they can recall their childhood home as being a place of happiness and love!

This is our job, mama's! There's no better way to spend a life!

When dinner was over, there were presents...


and cake...


(Cake in our pajamas!!! What could be better than that?!) 

And at the end of the night I was one exhausted mama!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I sure do enjoy having a blog to record special family stories and events. And I love that I get to share it all with you!

Please consider leaving a comment! I love hearing from you!

Take care, friends!

xo,

~ Courtney ~




Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Some Random Happenings Around The Farmhouse (And A Recipe)

I thought I'd share some random things that go on around here...

The weather lately has been beautiful, and as long as it's still above 30 degrees, the kids and I get out there!!!

This is our daily "Nature Walk" and it is delightful!

(The boys like to run on ahead.)


We know these trails by heart...

It is home sweet home! 


Off in the distance we can spot this darling, old, country church. 

It's just a stone's throw down the road from us.

It no longer holds services but is now a wedding chapel, and they ring the bells at every wedding.

When we hear the church bells ring, we stop what we're doing, call for one another, and rush to step out onto the porch so that we can hear it better.

It is our family tradition.

It's very exciting because we all know, when we hear the bells, that someone's getting married!!!


"Going to the chapel and we're...
Going to get ma~a~a~rried..."

(Remember that song? Haha...)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

The weather has actually been so warm lately, that my rose bushes were still blooming! Even in late October!

So, I did what any sane person in my position would do...

;)

I made sure my kitchen window sill was dressed with fresh blooms!


(Pink in the kitchen is such a treat!)

I've also been making sure the atmosphere feels fall-ish.

I pulled out my lighted branches the other day, and put together this arrangement for my mantle:


Branches, (whether they're lighted or not) pine sprigs, berry sprigs, dried hydrangea's, and turkey feathers make a great fall arrangement! 

While we're talking about arrangements... My front porch mums died, so re-doing my planters was in order.

My daughters came with me on the four-wheeler to look for branches and collect the trimmings.

(You can see the elements for my planters in the back! :)


When we got back to the house, I laid the baby down for her nap. The big kids rode their bikes around, and I took advantage of a warm afternoon to freshen up my planters.

This is what they looked like when I was finished. (And after I swept about a thousand dead bugs off the porch... *eye roll...)


I like how they turned out!


Since the planters sit in front of windows, it's important to me that the arrangement looks good from inside the house, too! 


(This is the view walking up to the front of the house from the kitchen.)



My days are low-key, yet meaningful... 

Homeschool, baby care, laundry, meals, etc...

The perfect life for me!

When I was a teenager, all of my friends were talking about future career goals and about the colleges they dreamed of going to. I never desired any of that! All I wanted was a home that I could enjoy. My friends thought I was nuts, but I didn't care! I didn't understand why they all wanted to be held hostages to student loans, burdensome studying, and ultimately a boss and an office.
I wanted to be free!!!

God has been faithful and good to me, and has given me the life I've always wanted.

"Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4 

I've never spent a minute of my life regretting my decision!

My days are not spent in traffic, hurrying about...

"Busyness produces barrenness." ~ Maryann Loveing 

...but at home, 


"playing house" and enjoying my life.


Just the kind of life our grandmothers had.

:) :)

"I love the nostalgic myself. I hope we never lose some of the things of the past." ~ Walt Disney

This doesn't mean that I sometimes don't get overwhelmed or discouraged. In fact, one area of my homemaking that I often feel uninspired about is our dinner menu.

I feel like I make the same dinners over and over again. And there's always at least one child who tells me that what I've made looks gross and would rather go to bed hungry than eat my cooking! 

Sigh....

Sometimes I'll turn to Google images (a tool our grandmothers' never had) to get inspired about cooking. The other day I did this and found an image of a skillet chicken dinner that looked appealing. It had tomatoes, basil, and shredded cheese.

I decided to give it a try!

I hope you're ok with the fact that I don't have measurements. I am very much a "dump" cook and almost never use them. I snapped pictures as I went, though, so that I could show you!

Since this was the first time I tried this, there were things I wished I had done differently. I will mention those as I go...

I assembled a few ingredients together to get started...

A small amount of minced garlic, about a teaspoon of basil flakes, and a half of a stick of butter...


Then I rinsed and sliced in half, two cartons of cherry tomatoes...


 I set all of this aside and got out a package of chicken tenders. (If you're new to cooking, it's important to get all of your prep work done first before moving on to the hot stuff.) I was feeling "farmhouse-y" so I decided to use my cast iron skillet.

:) :)

The chicken, along with salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil, went in to sear...


After I flipped them I added my tomatoes, garlic, basil, and butter...



It was at this point that I realized two things: First, I had used way too many tomatoes! (*eye roll...) And, I wished I had used fresh basil instead of dried basil. (Sheesh! What is wrong with me?!)

I pressed on however, and if I make this again, (which I think that I will) I will make those adjustments!

Anyway, I let this cook for a few minutes while stirring every so often, then adding parmesan cheese...


I cut each chicken tender in half to make sure that it was done, then I scooped out a bite to sample it.

Remember to taste what you've made first, before serving it to your family!



I decided that it was good, and the chicken was done, but I felt like the meal was missing something...

I transferred it to a Corning Ware dish, (and added more cheese)...


then made the last-minute decision to boil some egg noodles to go with it...


It was the right decision!


Leftover in the bottom of the skillet was the garlic/butter drippings from cooking the chicken, and that paired nicely as a sauce over the noodles.


Dinner was a hit! Everyone liked it! There were no leftovers!

Yes, I will make this again!

It's good to branch out and try new things! Because you never know when you'll hit upon something that you can add to your rotation of go-to meals!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

I hope you enjoyed today's post about random things!

Remember to leave a comment! You all mean so much to me!

xo,

~ Courtney ~