Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top 13 of 2013

It is always fun to look back and reflect on the year on New Year's Eve, as well as make goals for the future.  I have been blogging for two years now and can't believe the amount of connections and friendships I have made along this journey.  I thought a great way to look back over the year would be to see what my top 13 blog posts from this year were.  So without further ado, here they are:

  1. Farming - A Family Tradition
  2. So God Made A Farmer
  3. Developing Your Pinterest Potential
  4. LP's 2nd Birthday Train Party
  5. Breakfast Battle Celebrates National Food Check-Out Week
  6. A Double Dose of Food
  7. What's Your 50?
  8. Taking an Inside Look at Animal Agriculture
  9. 2013 Family Fall Fun Bucket List
  10. Moving Up Monday
  11. Only in Iowa...
  12. Mommy Monday - Nuby Mommy Review: Fun Drinking Cups
  13. Wordless Wednesday: Don't Worry - Be Happy!

I love how this group of posts really show all the aspects of my blog.  It has been a great year and I can't wait for 2014.  Happy New Year and be sure to check out my blog tomorrow for my New Year Goals!

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Best Christmas Present of All for My Military Family

We have been busy celebrating Christmas since Christmas Eve.  If you include the Christmas Eve dinner we had with my confirmation mentee and our own Christmas Day morning celebration of just the four of us, we have had seven Christmas get togethers.  This holiday season has made us feel very blessed and we felt very fortunate to have my youngest sister home from her deployment for Christmas.

My sister during her deployment ceremony in November
(She is third from the right.)
In mid-November, my youngest sister was deployed on a peace keeping mission in Kosovo with her Aviation Support Army National Guard Battalion.  When they deployed in November they traveled to Texas for some pre-deployment training before heading overseas.  Luckily for us they won't officially be traveling to Kosovo until after the New Year and that one of the casinos in Iowa donated a bus to pick up all of the soldiers to bring them home for a few days for Christmas.  It really meant a lot to all of us to have her home for a few days because we won't see her now until November 2014.  The group is suppose to be home in time to spend Thanksgiving in Iowa.

This isn't the first deployment for my sister and most likely not the last.  Each deployment is unique and hard in its own way.  While in Kosovo we are hoping and planning on her having better access to internet so we are able to video chat.  This is a big deal to me and my family as LP and MP continue to grow.  My sister will not receive any leave during this deployment, so that is another reason why we all will want to be able to not just email back and worth, but hopefully set up video chats.  I know deployments of today are probably easier than deployments before the days of Internet access, but they still are hard on families at home and soldiers that are stationed away.  So as we all continue to celebrate the holidays, remember our nation's soldier and their families.

The best Christmas present of all - my sister home from deployment
My sister and I the night before she had to go back

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - LP's First Time Bowling

 The best part of bowling with a 2 year old - 
is that you get to use the bumpers too!

LP had a lot of fun bowling for the first time
over the weekend
Gotta get those hands ready and aired-out
He loved watching every minute of it
(I'm afraid I don't have a picture of LP actually bowling because I was always helping him bowl.  Next time I'll have to have My Farmer take a photo or have him help LP get his bowling ball and the ball ramp situated.)

I love making memories with my family!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

1 Week Til Christmas - Holiday To Do List

The Christmas Countdown continues as we approach one week til Christmas!  I am happy to report that I have all my Christmas shopping done and have everything ready to go for our Christmas cards and letters (I just need to assemble them to).  My to do list each week seems to have a lot of carry-over from the previous weeks, but I'm just happy that I started planning and thinking about some of these things early, otherwise I'd really feel overwhelmed now.  Here's my to do list for this week:

  • Go Christmas Grocery Shopping (This last week I bought non-perishable items and now this week I'll do my final grocery shopping run getting everything I need for all of our Christmas get togethers.  It is my hope and goal that I won't have to step foot in the grocery store next week!)
  • Deliver Goodie Plates (Last night My Farmer asked me if I had any goodie plates ready to go to deliver to one of our farm landlords that he was seeing, and all I could tell him was that I had the plates but not enough goodies!  So I guess this means I better get on top of my baking and have enough variety to put some together!  We love giving Christmas goodie plates to our landlords, neighbors, and those that have helped us throughout the year.)
  • Clean the House (Last call to decorate and clean the house for the holidays!  It is good to do a nice clean sweep of your home as family and friends visit.  And if you are traveling a lot for Christmas it is always nice to come home to a clean house.  I personally need to clean our home badly!  I'm afraid that you currently have to watch where you step in our living room and I still have Christmas decor I want to put up.  If I don't get this done by the weekend then I guess it won't get done.)
  • Thaw Christmas Cookies and Treats (You've been freezing Christmas goodies haven't you?  Well, if you haven't, start baking, and if you have, this weekend be sure to take them out of the freezer and start letting them thaw so they are ready to be shared and ate.)
  • Wrap Presents (This is something that I still need to finish.  I have my wrapping paper out and my presents organized, I just need a couple afternoon nap times to get them done.)
What is on your to-do list for this final week before Christmas?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Creating Traditions Through Christmas Photos

Yesterday I shared our Christmas Photos of the past.  Ever since My Farmer and I got married, we have taken a self-timer photo, in the same spot on our farm, after the first snowfall of December, every year.  It has become one of our Christmas traditions and this year is no different, except that we are now living on our new farm and needed to find a new spot to take our photo.  And I do have to say, I am very proud of My Farmer, he chose the spot for our photo.

Now before the big reveal, I thought I'd share some bloopers beforehand.  And actually we took photos on two different days this year (the first time that has ever had to happen) because after looking at the first day's photos more closely once we warmed up from the -1 temperature outside, I decided that there wasn't even one decent one we could use.  So we went out a couple days later when in had warmed up to 4 degrees outside...  I hope you enjoy!

If only my eyes were open and
if MP wasn't looking straight down...
Hey Bailey, the camera is over here...
Hey Dad, no one is smiling because of your smile and
Bailey, cut that out, we're taking a photo...
And here is our Christmas photo for 2013.  The best photo of a baby girl who doesn't understand to look at an unmanned camera, of a toddler boy who doesn't like to smile for photos when he is cold, of a Dad who makes funny faces to try to make his kids smile, of a Mom who seems to have a hard time opening her eyes, and of a dog who'd rather be hunting than being on a sit stay for a photo:

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!
It might not be perfect, or the best photo we've taken, but hey, it is too cold for a third photo shoot...

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Throwback Thursday - Christmas Photos of the Past

Ever since My Farmer and I got married, we have taken a self-timer photo, in the same spot on our farm, after the first snowfall of December, every year.  I thought I'd share with you our Christmas photos of the past and hope you check in tomorrow to see our 2013 Christmas photo.

Do you have any Christmas Photo traditions?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Supporting Our Local Tree Farms

We are so lucky to have two great family tree farms
 in less than 10 miles of our farm!

Family photo next to our Christmas Tree
from Meyer Family Trees of rural Hampton, Iowa

Wreath Making Class
at Carlson Tree Farm of rural Coulter, Iowa

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

2 Weeks Til Christmas Eve - Holiday To Do List

Can you believe that there are only 2 weeks til Christmas Eve?!?  Are you ready?  Well, I do have to admit that I have fallen behind from my to do list I set for myself last week but plan on catching up this week (fingers crossed)!  So this week's list is a combination of what I didn't get done last week and what I was planning on concentrating on this week:

  • Christmas Present Shopping (I am almost all the way done.  I just need to pick up a couple gift cards when I'm in town this week and order a few more items online and then I'll be done.  I really do hope and plan on finishing this week!  Review your present lists this week and make sure you've got everyone covered.)
  • Wrap Christmas Presents (So many times I am rushed to wrap all of our gifts the day before or even the day of a family get together, so this year my goal is to start now.  Anything to do to decrease my stress and busyness during this time of year!)
  • Decorate for Christmas (We didn't get this done last week so my plan is to do this sometime this week.  We got our tree last weekend but haven't decorated it yet.  All of my Christmas boxes are currently being stored in the garage because all of the electrical work isn't done in our house and I'm trying to have the basement as accessible as possible for when the electricians come back.  So... I need to "man-up" and venture into our garage and find my Christmas decorations AND the electricians need to come back and finish our house!)
  • Christmas Letter/Card/Photo (I feel behind in this area from last week.  Both our letter and card are not ready to be mailed and we took a photo but I'd like to take another stab at it - hopefully my family will bare with me at another photo shoot!  One area I did work in was our Christmas card recipient list; I think I got all the new addresses I needed to change for family and friends that moved.  I still hope to get this all in the mail by the end of the week or start of next week.)
  • Christmas Baking (This is something that should be on your to-do list every week.  Make, bake, enjoy some and then freeze some!  I've ran across some new recipes I want to try, along with making my standby Christmas goodies.)
  • Plan Christmas Meals (This week my goal is to finalize the Christmas menu for get togethers at our house, as well as what I need to bring to other family gatherings and start buying the non-perishable items needed.)
Whoo!  Looks like I've got plenty to do but I just know I'd rather be working on this now in steps, rather than right before Christmas.  Have you started planning your Christmas meal?  What is on your menu?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Christmas Countdown To Do List

It is officially the Christmas Holiday Season!  I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and that you have started getting into the Christmas Spirit!  Last week I talked about how my Mom, sisters and I go Black Friday shopping every year and this year was no different.  We stayed away from the big crowds and went shopping during the "off hours" this year and still got all of our door busters!  I was wanting and planning on not shopping at all on Thanksgiving Day but by 9pm when the kids were asleep I figured why not check to see what was left at Wal-Mart, K-Mart and Target, and then that led us onto Kohl's, JCPenney, and the rest of the mall.  Thank goodness the mall was opened because that gave us something to do until the stores that were closed on Thanksgiving (which I think is great for stores to do) opened on Friday morning.  Black Friday seems to get earlier and earlier every year but I know retailers get so many more customers by opening earlier.  It is sad, but true.  Like I said, we've been Black Friday shopping for the last decade and it is unbelievable how many more people Black Friday (or Thanksgiving Day) shop now, then when the earliest a store would open was 5am.

But enough about Black Friday, it is time to share my To-Do list for this week.  My goal by doing a few things each week is that I'll have a low stress Christmas and Holiday Season when it comes time to actually celebrate with family and friends.

  • Shop (If you don't like crowds or waiting in line I hope you took advantage of some Cyber Monday deals!  I am planning on doing some more shopping this week and maybe even finishing!  If you are still looking for ideas (which I personally like to get finalized and done the week of Thanksgiving) check out some of these ideas.)
  • Christmas Tree (If you haven't gotten your Christmas tree yet (which we haven't... the plan is to after we visit Santa later this week) then get your tree, or if you do have your tree, crank up the Christmas tunes, chill the egg nog and decorate your tree.  My plan is to get all of this done at the end of the week!)
  • Christmas Letter (If you write a Christmas letter start writing and get it printed this week.  I'm planning on getting this done mid-week this week and then hopefully getting them printed by the end of the week.)
  • Christmas Cards (Be sure the select your Christmas cards if you haven't already (I always get ours in early November when Hallmark has a buy one get one free special).  If you are creating a card online be sure to choose your design and order your cards this week.)
  • Christmas Photo (If you haven't selected a photo yet, you better take one fast.  We are actually planning on waiting for the next snow fall to take ours so we have a fresh layer of snow on the ground - it is one of our family traditions.)
  • Christmas Card Recipient List (Review and finalize your Christmas card list.)
  • Christmas Baking (Start making all of your favorite Christmas sweets and then freezing some of each batch back that way you will have a variety to choose from to make cookie platters close to Christmas.  We have sadly already finished our first batch of Peanut Butter Balls today :(  I better make some more!)
What do you have on your to-do list this week?  Do you send out the traditional Christmas card and letter or do you send them online?