Holidays & Special Events

Jameson’s Second Birthday

Our baby boy is TWO!!! It’s been a week and a half now and I still can’t really believe it. But two is so much fun already. Two is running everywhere, scrapes on his knees, chatting about everything, giving biiiiig hugs (“I cold, Mommy. I need hug.”), wrestling with Daddy, and facing his fears. Two is the best. ๐Ÿ™‚

We had such a fun day celebrating Jameson and I wanted to share a bit about it here. His birthday fell on a Tuesday this year so Alex took the day off and we spent it all together. I put up a few fun decorations to surprise Jameson in the morning (which he went nuts for) and we let him open one gift from us before we headed out for some fun. It was a Spider-Man action figure (his current obsession) and you better believe it came with us on all our adventures that day. ๐Ÿ˜‰

We decided a few weeks ago to go to the aquarium for his birthday, since he’d never been and we thought he might like it. It turned out to be the perfect choice! He looooved looking at all the animals (especially the Nemo and Dory fishies, and the turtles) and had a blast playing in the aquarium’s little play area. Plus it was a weekday morning so it wasn’t crowded at all and a good way to get out of the heat since it’s still basically summer in Arizona.

After the aquarium we went to the Rainforest Cafe for some lunch and this turned out to be the worst decision ever hahah. We thought Jameson would think the animals were super cool (at first he did) but every 15 minutes or so the entire restaurant gets dark and simulates a loud thunderstorm with all the animatronics going crazy. Plus we were seated right in front of the gorillas which were by far the scariest ones in the whole place (I didn’t even like them haha). So Jameson ended up eating his lunch on my lap and hiding his face every time the animals made noise. We ate as fast as we could and blew out of there but we felt terrible for scaring him on his birthday! Poor buddy!

We got home for Jameson’s nap and then it was party time! We didn’t plan a whole big thing this year, partly because we knew it would be a lot for Jameson and partly because I’m having a baby next month and was not in any mood to plan, decorate, entertain, and clean up for a party like we did last year. But Jameson didn’t seem to mind and honestly had a blast anyway! We celebrated with family at my in-laws house and spent the evening doing all of Jameson’s favorite things…swimming, eating Pirate’s Booty, having pizza, opening tons of awesome gifts, and of course enjoying cupcakes!

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My favorite part was singing “Happy Birthday” to him (which was actually my favorite part on his first birthday, too). This year he totally knew what was coming and was sooo excited when he saw his cupcake with the candle on it! We’d been practicing for weeks with me singing to him and then him waiting until the song was over to blow out a pretend candle. So as soon as we started singing on his birthday his whole face completely lit up and I just knew he was thinking, “This is it. This is what I’ve been waiting for.” And he did such a great job! He waited until the song was over and blew out that candle with such confidence and excitement. It was adorable! ๐Ÿ™‚

Happy happy second birthday, Nugget!!! We love you so. โค

Holidays & Special Events, Out & About

Family Pictures // March 2017

Last month my grandma came for a visit from Pennsylvania. She comes out every couple of years and this year my parents wanted to do something extra special. So they hired a photographer friend (Erin Tandler of Graced by Light Photography) for a family session. And what a beautiful job she did!

We went out to Lost Dutchman State Park right around sunset; it was pure magic! The scenery was gorgeous, the weather was lovely, and the light was just perfect. Today I wanted to share some of my favorites from the shoot. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Mom & her girls

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“Have you seen a program called ‘Naked and Afraid?'” – Grandma as this picture was taken

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Four generations of girls.

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Muth family inside joke hahaha.

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Holidays & Special Events, Recipes

A sweet treat for your valentineย 


Valentine’s Day is over and gone, but these little treats can be made all year long! (If you end an argument with a rhyme, it’s convincing all the time. I learned that from “How I Met Your Mother.”)

Anywho! I brought these mini heart-shaped pies to a ladies Valentine’s event for my church and the girls all flipped for them! They were gone almost right away. I had to make another batch later that week so I’d have more to share with my family. Wrap them up in a cute little bag, tie it with a string, and you’ve got the perfect Valentine’s gift!

With a sweet jam center, golden flaky crust, and the cutest little heart shape, these babies are sure to make all your friends and family smile. Or, you know, make you smile as you eat an entire batch on your own. (I definitely didn’t do that. Or did I…….)

The best part is… they’re so super easy to make!!! I am no baker extraordinaire but I pulled these off, no problem. I promise you can too! (And let me know if you do, I would love to hear how much you love them too! Look at that, more rhyming.)

Mini Heart Pies

Prep time: 15 minutes

Bake time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  1. One box of pie crusts (or homemade if you’re fancy. I’m not.)
  2. Your favorite jam. (I used the Bonne Maman Strawberry Preserve for one batch and the Bonne Maman Peach/Mango Preserve for the other batch.)
  3. Egg wash & a sprinkle of sugar
  4. Heart shaped cookie cutter

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Roll out your dough and cut out the hearts. (One pie crust yielded 10 total mini pies for me.)
  3. Place a small amount of jam in the center of half of the hearts.
  4. Gently brush a little bit of the egg wash (1 egg beaten with a little water) around the edges of the jam. This will help the two crusts seal together.
  5. Use the remaining hearts as the top crust. Place each one directly on top of the jam hearts and crimp the edges with a fork.
  6. Brush more of the egg wash on top of each mini pie. Add a sprinkle of sugar on top.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Enjoy! ๐Ÿ˜Šโค๐Ÿ“

** Credit for the idea goes to Kristen Mittler (@oldjoy on Instagram) who shared a similar treat on her profile.**

Aaaand this post wouldn’t be complete without a few personal photos from our Valentine’s Day!

Hope you all had a lovely love day! xo.

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Holidays & Special Events, Life with Jameson

The best Christmas.


I LOVE the holiday season. Some years are better than others, but this one really blew every other year that I can remember out of the water. For real, this has been my favorite Christmas.

A lot of different things played into it to make it extra wonderful… the fact that Jameson was old enough to open his own gifts and get excited about them. Spending the morning reading the Christmas story from our Bibles on my parents’ bed like always. Having a delicious dinner with my parents and Alex’s parents all together. Christmas being on a Sunday which let us celebrate with our church family at night. Getting blessed out the wazoo with such generosity from friends and family. Going to see Alex’s brother and our sister-in-law up in Prescott the Friday before Christmas. Spending Christmas Eve with my grandma and tons more family.


It was all so so good. But I think my very favorite part was when I gave my parents their gift. A few months ago I decided to get all my parents’ home videos digitized as their present for Christmas. They had been sitting in the garage for over twelve years (since we moved to Arizona) and even longer before that at our house in New York. The video camera that was used to record them broke a loooong time ago, so we hadn’t been able to see any of our memories for closer to fifteen years, probably over twenty years for some of the oldest videos.

So when my parents went out of town for a few days last month, I stole all the tapes and sent them off to Legacy Box to be converted into DVDs. They JUST made it back in time (two days before Christmas) and I was so so SO happy with the results. All of our childhood memories were right there in front of me, videos I had never seen before and videos I had forgotten all about. Hoursย of footage from all our best moments and tons of ordinary moments too (which actually turned out to be my favorites). Videos of me and my sister playing together in our backyard with our old family dogs. Videos of each of our newborn days. Videos of our birthdays and school plays and tap recitals and baton performances and snow days. Videos of inside jokes we quote all the time but haven’t been able to see in years. It was all there.

Needless to say, I cried like a baby watching it all through. And I was literally giddy with excitement to give it to my parents on Christmas morning.

It was the last present under the tree and I handed it to my dad while my youngest sister recorded on my phone. His reaction was the best thing ever and I’m so glad we caught it on video! He and my mom were absolutely shocked and thrilled. Oh it just made me so very happy!


They asked to watch the videos right away so we popped one in and all our memories came to life as if no time had passed at all. I’m still blown away by the care and thoughtfulness my parents used as they filmed our lives. Each clip was so obviously done with intention and with the knowledge that our childhood days would be fleeting. You can hear my dad saying multiple times in the videos, “We’ll watch this in twenty years and laugh!” Or “Maybe someday God will bless youย with a baby and then you’ll know how I feel right now.” They knew time would slip by so quickly, and it did.

So this next year I’m making it a point to record more everyday moments with Jameson. Not just ten second clips for ย Snapchat or a quick video of something cute he’s doing for Facebook. I want videos of our life just as it was and just for our family, because if I learned anything this Christmas it’s that the time God gives us with our children is so precious. Not every moment is “extraordinary,” but those aren’t always our best moments or memories anyway.


I hope your holiday season has been oh so very merry!

Love, the Iwanski’s

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DIY, Holidays & Special Events

Halloween 2016

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Wow, okay. This post is super late. It’s November and I’m blogging about Halloween. Stuff came up, things got busy, I was needed for a top secret mission. But I really do like documenting all the major holidays for future me to look back on, so here I am…blogging about Halloween in November. Hope you don’t mind.

Halloween isn’t really a big thing for us. Never really has been, especially for me (I’d actually never even trick-or-treated until this year). But something about dressing a baby in an adorable costume is just too fun to pass up! So we made it a thing this year.

It was a Monday, our day for playgroup, so all the mamas decided to bring the kids in costume for a little photo shoot. Oh it was so cute! These are some of my favorites. โค

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Alex and I chose a monkey costume for Jameson this year just because he knows what sound a monkey makes (“ah ah!” he says) and we knew it would be hilarious to see him walking around trying to sound like a monkey all day. It was. ๐Ÿ™‚ I wanted to dress up with Alex as something along the monkey-theme, but we didn’t want to spend any money because…what a waste. So we ended up just pulling stuff out of our closet and borrowing a couple of hats from Alex’s parents and dressing up as safari explorers.

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All in all, our family costumes ended up being very ambiguous haha. Jameson’s costume was kind of poorly made so the headpiece made him look like a bear rather than a monkey, and Alex and I kind of looked like zoo keepers instead of explorers. But whatever, it all kind of worked anyway.

Our friends from church hosted a dinner and trick-or-treating party that evening and a bunch of people ended up going. We all ate together, walked the kids around the neighborhood to get some candy (I still feel like this tradition is super weird and awkward), and then sat around the fire and passed out more candy/ate that candy. As I said, this was my first year ever going trick-or-treating. But we actually didn’t even get candy because I think it’s weird for adults to have their babies collect candy when everyone know that the baby isn’t going to be the one eating that candy lol. I just felt shady about the whole thing. I think it’s fine when you have older kids too, but I would feel like a total fraud walking up to a stranger and being like, “This is my baby. Yeah uhh…he says he wants your candy.” So we mostly just went to walk around with our friends who have older kids.

We had a great time anyway. ๐Ÿ™‚ Even though we don’t really “celebrate” Halloween, it’s still a great excuse to get together with friends and eat a bunch of sweets. So I approve.

By the way, here’s my sister and her adorable family as Mike Wazowski, Sulley, and Boo. All hand-made!

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Hope you all had a fun and safe Halloween too!

DIY, Holidays & Special Events

Jameson’s First Birthday Party

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Two Saturdays ago we celebrated the Jimmiest Jam turning ONE with some of our wonderful friends and family! I’ve actually been trying to write this post for several days now, but my site has been acting up and it’s been taking forever to get it all finished. But I think we’re good now. ๐Ÿ˜‰

We decided a few months back to host the party here at our new house, something we’ve never been able to do because we were renting tiny apartments for the first couple years of our marriage. I was kind of nervous, but mostly just so excited to plan everything and decorate and welcome everyone into our home. We went with a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse theme because that show (and Mickey Mouse in general) are two of Jameson’s most favorite things. I scoured Pinterest for weeks finding inspiration, pinning decor ideas, and planning out the menu. I ended up making a lot of the decorations myself (saved us some mula) and the rest I bought here and there at Party City, Target, and Walmart in the weeks leading up to the parry. Then the night before, I basically just told Alex to stay out of my way so I could put my OCD to good use and get everything decorated the way I wanted it to be, ha! (Okay he helped blow up some balloons. And cleaned up the yard too.)

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We had everyone over on Saturday, September 10th (two days before Jameson’s actual birthday). I think about 30 people were able to come! We wanted to invite more but our house is only so big haha. It ended up being perfect, though! The whole party went so smoothly. Jameson had taken two good naps earlier that day so he was in a fantastic mood (hallelujah!) and did really well even with so many people crowding his space and passing him all around (surprising to me because he tends to get overwhelmed with large groups of people). I think he liked seeing so many of his friends all in one place. ๐Ÿ™‚

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We all just mingled and chatted, had some dinner (pizza because that’s something Jameson actually likes haha), and then it was time for cake! I’d been stressing about how the song would go because, like I said, Jameson isย not one for large crowds or a bunch of people staring at him (especially when they’re loud). But he loved it. ๐Ÿ™‚ It might’ve had something to do with the fact that I’d been following him around the house for weeks singing “Happy Birthday” really loudly at him haha. I was trying to get him prepared, okay?! So when everyone started singing to him he was kind of like “What are you all doing” but then he was like “Oh cool, I know this song. Carry on.”

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“Why are you all being so loud?”
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The first nibble.
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“Oh that’s good.”

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Cake for everyone else.

After we got that whole mess cleaned up (I actually ended up sticking Jameson in the bath to rinse all the frosting off ha!) we opened some presents. Jameson wasn’t super into it (I think he ripped off one itty bit of wrapping paper from one gift), so I ended up opening most everything and then showing it to him. He was so excited to see all the new toys! Everyone was so generous and he got some really cool stuff that he’s been playing with every day since. img_4462img_4486-2img_4517img_4539-3

I think my favorite memory from the party was when everyone sang “Happy Birthday” to my baby. Somehow I knew in that moment that I’d remember it forever, that it would always be so special to me. Our first baby, his first birthday, his first year of life in the world. I never want to forget it.

I also loved watching him eat that cupcake. ๐Ÿ˜‰

We hope you had a wonderful first birthday, Nugget! โค You are our greatest blessing. We had SO much fun celebrating you!

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Holidays & Special Events

Madelyn’s first birthday party

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Happy first birthday to my tiny, perfect niece! I’m still in a little bit of denial that she’s already one. When you’re a kid, time feels like it draaags on for everything…you have to wait so long before you’re old enough to stay home alone, to get your license, to live in your own place. But then suddenly you’re an adult and time moves by faster and faster with every passing year. This past year completely zoomed by! It feels like I was just meeting Madelyn at the hospital yesterday, just getting to hold her little 5 pound self for the first time. But here we are, June 22nd and a whole year has gone by. She is even more beautiful and fun and wonderful than I ever could have imagined, but she’s my sister’s daughter so I guess that shouldn’t be a surprise.

This past weekend was Madelyn’s first birthday party. It was ducky-themed of course (some kids have a favorite stuffed animal or a blanket or a doll…Madelyn has her rubber duck haha) and it was held at my in-laws’ gorgeous house. The party itself was pretty small (mostly family) but it was packed with so much love and so much fun! I took most of the pictures to document the day (with some taken by Madelyn’s grandma Denise) and I wanted to share some of my favorites with you today. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Photo by Denise Sotebeer
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Photo by Denise Sotebeer
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Photo by Denise Sotebeer
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Photo by Denise Sotebeer
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Photo by Denise Sotebeer
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Photo by Denise Sotebeer
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Photo by Denise Sotebeer

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Photo by Denise Sotebeer
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Photo by Denise Sotebeer
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Photo by Denise Sotebeer

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Happy first birthday, sweet Madelyn Grace! Thank you for all the joy and light you bring us. We love you!

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Holidays & Special Events, Life with Jameson

Jameson’s first Easter

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Cousins!

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Waving to the world!

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday! We sure did. We had brunch in the morning with Alex’s parents, attended our church’s special Easter service in the afternoon, and then ended the day at my parents’ house for a delicious dinner! I hope you all got to spend time with your loved ones, I hope you got to eat lots of yummy food, and I especially hope you were reminded of the incredible beauty of this particular holiday.

I actually have begun to really dislike calling it “Easter.” To me, it takes something valuable away from such an important holiday. When I say “Easter” I feel like I’ve just totally bypassed the whole purpose of why we even have this holiday to begin with. It’s not just a spring celebration. It’s not about magical bunnies or egg hunts or candy. It’s the day we reflect and rejoice over the fact that the Mighty God of the universe came as a man to earth and gave His life to cover the debt of our sins that we could never pay. It’s the day we remember that He rose again and is reigning in Heaven right now! His perfect sacrifice is why we celebrate, it’s why we can have peace with Jesus, it’s everything. This holiday represents everything. That’s why I much prefer to call it Resurrection Sunday, to give the true meaning back to the holiday.

Not to say that I don’t think the bunnies and egg hunts and candy can’t have a place in the celebration. That kind of thing can make it so much fun for little ones! I just also really want to make sure that my babies know why Resurrection Sunday is so important. I want them to be excited about Jesus most of all!

I’ll leave you all with one of my favorite hymns, perfect for every day but especially this time of year.

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow

Because He lives, all fear is gone

Because I know He holds the future

And life is worth the living just because He lives.

Holidays & Special Events, Life with Jameson

A Very Merry Christmas

This post is a wee bit on the late side (whoops!) but I still want to share a little about Jameson’s first Christmas before we head into the new year. We’re really so blessed to have our immediate families (mine and Alex’s) within 20 minutes of our apartment and extra blessed that our families actually get along! In fact, my parents used to double date with Alex’s parents before the two of us even met. It makes the holidays so much easier and so much less stressful when everyone genuinely likes each other and would actually prefer to gather together rather than be apart. Alex and I never really have to split our time or choose between Jameson’s two sets of grandparents and for that I am very thankful.

Christmas for the first time with Jameson was so much fun. Really all these “firsts” with Jameson are so much fun! I absolutely love getting to incorporate my son into our family traditions and imagining how someday he’ll tell his future wife and kids about his favorite memories. We went over to my parents’ house early Christmas morning in our pj’s and spent the morning following one of my family’s favorite Christmas traditions…we all grab some coffee and blankets and our Bibles and pile into my parents’ big bed to read about the birth of Jesus from Matthew 2 and Luke 1 & 2. Each of us reads a couple of verses, we talk about it for a few minutes, and then we go around the room and take turns praying aloud. My parents started doing this with me and my sisters when we were young as a way to help us center our hearts on the reason we celebrate Christmas in the first place before we all rush out to the presents, and since then it’s become one of my favorite things we do as a family.

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Afterwards we all headed to get some breakfast and then snuggled up around the tree on blankets to open up the gifts. As expected, the babies were super psyched about the wrapping paper and only mildly interested in their new toys haha.

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We spent the morning at my parents’ house just hanging out and trying out the toys and then we said goodbye to my mom, who had a flight to Pennsylvania that afternoon for my Grandma’s 80th birthday (which was the following day). But before she left, she and my dad gave my little sister Christina the BEST Christmas surprise… her first trip to Disneyland! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Alex and I left a little early to spend some time with his parents before everyone else got there and we got wayyy spoiled with gifts from them. Besides the gifts they gave to just Alex and me (including a brand new Keurig coffee maker that we’ve been love love loving), Jameson got a buttload of adorable new outfits, an awesome walker/play center that will be great when he’s a little bigger, and this super cool toddler bike that converts from having a handle that the parents can push to being a regular tricycle for when he’s independent. I can’t wait to watch him play with it!

Later on Steph and Colby came with Madelyn and Christina, and my dad came by after dropping my mom at the airport. We had a delicious roast and a ham for dinner with lots of yummy food on the side and some pie for dessert. Mmm so good! I only took a few pictures from the Iwanski’s house, but here are my favorites…

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It was such a wonderful Christmas and even though I know Jameson won’t remember it down the road, I always will. I’m so thankful that my Savior came into the world and died so that I can live. I’m thankful for the family we got to spend the day celebrating with and for the memories that we made.

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And, now that Jameson has been having a rough time sleeping at night all of the sudden, I’m also thankful for that Keurig coffee maker haha. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and that you have a wonderful New Year!

xoxo J.

Holidays & Special Events, Life with Jameson

Jameson’s First Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Weekend has come and gone already! I hope you all got to spend time with the people you love most, and I really hope you got to eat lots of yummy food. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I sure did! And I’ve been eating leftovers ever since (pie for breakfast four days in a row? don’t mind if I do!). We had the best weekend with our families and made so many wonderful memories. I’ve always loved the holiday season most of all but this year is extra special because we get to start our own little family traditions and make it fun and magical for our baby. Some of my favorite times as a kid were spent with my family… naming the Thanksgiving turkey, going around the table and saying what we’re most thankful for each year, picking out our Christmas tree, decorating together, and spending Christmas morning snuggled in the big bed taking turns reading about Jesus’ birth from our Bibles. I hope Alex and I can take bits of tradition from each of our childhoods and mix them with some of our own ideas to make the holidays something really special for our kids. It’s fun being the parents! ๐Ÿ™‚

This Thanksgiving was filled with so many great memories. The day before Thanksgiving, Jameson and I went over to my parents’ house for a bit in the afternoon. We blasted Christmas music and my dad and sister kept Jameson entertained while my mom and I did some cooking/baking in the kitchen (my apple pie turned out delicious, if I do say so myself). The next morning Alex played in our church’s 2nd Annual Thanksgiving Day Flag Football game at a park nearby. Jameson and I came with him to watch/cheer him on/not really pay attention and talk to our friends instead. We had so much fun! Alex made a few touchdowns and Jameson was so proud of his daddy/didn’t notice at all and snoozed through the whole game. Good times. ๐Ÿ™‚

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That afternoon we hung out at home watching Harry Potter haha. Random, but we’ve been making our way slowly through the movies (I’ve been reading the books for the first time so each time I finish one, we watch the movie together since I’ve never seen those either). Maybe that will become one of our weird family Thanksgiving traditions? Anyway, after Harry Potter we packed up our crap (babies have a lot of crap…add in some heavy Thanksgiving dishes and our dog Charlie and we looked like a couple of pack mules) and headed to Alex’s parents’ house where my own parents were waiting for us with my sisters, brother-in-law, and niece. There were so many yummy appetizers and the main dinner was so good! (we named the turkey “Jacques,” by the way). Once again, Jameson slept through most of it, but everyone had fun taking turns holding him and my niece Madelyn whenever they were awake.

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We have been so blessed by our Savior in so many ways. I’m not always as thankful as I know I should be, but I pray that God continues to teach me to be grateful and content and to stop taking my blessings for granted. We’re not guaranteed anything in this life but I’ve still been given so much to be thankful for, not just this time of year but every minute of every day. Thank you Jesus for showing me your love in so many beautiful ways!

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Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours. ๐Ÿ™‚