New Family Pictures!

New Family Pictures!

My good friend, Kristina loves to take pictures. She swears she’s still learning but I swear she does a great job :) What do you think??

Of course, she did have to work around my kids silly faces…


Love my kiddos!!


And my hubby, of course :)


I liked our clothes colors with the yellow and white striped covering. Just fun.


And by the lake.


Individual shots:







Julianna (of course the curtsy was her idea)









The trio together. Love that they are sisters who really love each other!


My handsome boys:


I love taking family photos. My kids, not so much. They try to humor me a little bit though and end up being good sports. But I was told by the photographer that she took quite a few shots were at least one of my kids was making a funny or weird face. Doesn’t surprise me.

At least they’re cute!

Thanks Kristina for some great family photos :)

Back to Life, Back to Reality… Back to School!


Summer always feels like that alternate reality where there’s no school, we take vacations and everyone gets to stay up late every night. Well, except Kirk since work gets no summers off – that’s a hard one for a work-at-home dad to explain to the kids!!

But now summer is behind us and school has started once again.

It is hard (read, impossible!) for me to believe that I now have a high schooler. The fact that my daughter is old enough to be in high school just floors me. Thankfully since the kids attend such a small school our entrance into high school is a gentle one. Not that her school work will be but she’s also not competing with hundreds or thousands of kids and we’re all okay with that.

Here they are at our yearly front-of-the-door picture before heading out to school. Kaitlyn is heading into 9th grade, Caleb 5th grade and Julianna, Rachel and Alyssa 2nd grade. I tell you the triplets do NOT seem old enough to be going into a higher elementary class.


Everyone’s excited to ride the bus. Oh wait, that’s just our van and we take it every day…


And then in their classrooms (or at least at their lockers)

High School here she comes! Now her grades really count.


Caleb in his last year in elementary school. Tomorrow I’ll be posting about his entering Middle School. Well, not really but it will feel like it!


And all together in second grade:

Julianna – ready as ever to grow up. Look at her, she’s wishing she was the one in high school! Her quote at the end of the day “2nd grade was awesome!”


Rachel is ready to learn.


And then Alyssa. Ready to tackle the year ahead.


This is the first year the girls have ever had a combined class. They will be the 3rd graders this year so hopefully they will be learning a little extra :)

I’m hoping to have more time to catch up on blogging and other things in the house now that the kids are back in school. Of course, I think I say that every year and then things get crazy and before I know it the year is over. I’m praying this year I get to enjoy it with them as they learn.

Cute Comes in Triplicate!! (and on Swings…)




This year my girls helped make their Easter outfits. In sewing class, we began work on our skirts a few weeks ago and we got them done just in time for Easter Sunday. Alyssa isn’t taking lessons yet but Julianna and Rachel are and they are getting the hang of it. It’s pretty cute to see a 7-year-old run a sewing machine and I’ve just been thrilled with the idea that I can now sit down and sew something without freaking out.

It’s kind of a big deal :)

Well, to me anyway.

And since it’s Spring and we were outside taking pictures anyway and the girls were all dressed up and adorable it seemed like the perfect time to take their annual swing pictures!

Julianna Mabel: my girly girl and born leader. She loves to act older than she is. Right now she thinks if she wears clothes that say size 10 or shoes that are too big that she will somehow grow faster. She takes to most sports quickly and easily though I have yet to enroll her in any official sports activity – she just seems to enjoy all things physical. Doesn’t mean she’s not doing well academically though – she’s doing quite well and remains at the top of her class. She’s an overall sweet and loveable little girl!

April 2007 (5 months old)


April 2008 (17 months old)


April 2009 (29 months old)


April 2010 (3 years, 5 months old)


April 2011 (4 years, 5 months old)


April 2012 – I believe this was actually taken in May so she was 5 1/2 year old


April 2013 (6 years, 5 months old)


April 2014 – and today (7 years, 5 months old)


In the skirt she helped sew:


Rachel Gabrielle: Still my little artist, Rachel has also become a great reader and a sweet little girl. She’s shy though talkative to those who know her. She is also enjoying sewing but art is still her first love and she takes every opportunity to create a card or picture or other design for me or her dad or anyone else in need of a little bit cheering up. She loves being around her family and is always super cuddly – I love getting hugs from my little baby girl!

April 2007 (5 months old)


April 2008 (17 months old)


April 2009 (29 months old)


April 2010 (3 years, 5 months old)


April 2011 (4 years, 5 months old)


April 2012 – I believe this was actually taken in May so she was 5 1/2 year old


April 2013 (6 years, 5 months old)


April 2014 – and today (7 years, 5 months old)


In the skirt she helped sew:


Alyssa Elaine: my vibrant and full-of-life “baby” girl. As the youngest of the trio and the family she lives up to her title as the baby of the family. She still loves to play with toys and I find her often sitting quietly, in her own world playing with her Pet Shops or Polly Pockets or other small toy set she has. Reading has come harder for her but she’s learning and always retaining more information than I expect. Alyssa is still the loudest and she still loves hanging out with the boys but she’d never want to spend a night without her sisters!

April 2007 (5 months old)


April 2008 (17 months old)


April 2009 (29 months old)


April 2010 (3 years, 5 months old)


April 2011 (4 years, 5 months old)


April 2012 – I believe this was actually taken in May so she was 5 1/2 year old


April 2013 (6 years, 5 months old)


April 2014 – and today (7 years, 5 months old)


In the skirt I sewed! (She found it interesting to watch and I think she’ll learn someday but not quite yet)


What a change right?! It’s amazing to see how much they’ve changed and how quickly by little babies have grown up. In fact, those first pictures were taken on days I took the girls out to the swings just to keep my sanity and keep the girls happy while they were awake!! Now they can go outside on their own and swing till their hearts content.

All three girls on the swings – they find it amusing that in the right order their first initials spell “JAR”…


The girls have been a joy to raise and I look forward to many more years with them – because, after all, 7 is still little right?!

February and March Updates: A Pop of Color


I have not meant to go this long without blogging but life has gotten so busy that I haven’t had a whole lot of time to sit down and blog about it.

Life getting in the way of blogging, go figure!

Doesn’t mean I haven’t been hard at work on my New Year’s Resolution. It’s the opposite in fact, I have spent a lot of my time over the past two months learning how to sew and making plans for my house. But we got hit with quite a few snow days this winter (in case, you didn’t already know that…). Add to that sick days and me being called in to sub numerous times means many hours not spent working on the house.

Oh well, we’re getting there.

In February we reupholstered my kitchen/dining room chairs. A few years ago, my dad had graciously recovered them but in the years since the fabric he used began to shred and was in desperate need of replacing:


Yikes! How did we sit on those for so long??!!

After a little bit of this:


And a LOT of this (I mean a lot – we stapled these things like crazy :) )


We came out with this:


I know you love the orange!

It’s okay if you don’t – I promise it goes along with the bigger theme of colors which you can see in my awesome new pillow. While the chairs were my February project, the pillows were done in March so see, a little progress each month and I may actually get somewhere by the end of the year!

First set:


Second set:


Right now they’re in my living room on my brown couch – can’t say these go that well there but hopefully soon they will reside in my made-over family room – that project begins next week in April!

Thanks to my friend Krysta at Studio Solaris for the embroidery as well as for teaching me how to make pillows. I am by no means an expert but thanks to her awesome teaching I was able to complete 3 of these 6 pillows myself and feel confident enough to make some more which is a good thing since every single one of my daughters asked where her pillow was with her name/initials on it. Guess I know what to get them for their birthdays!!

Keep checking in – many more house projects and exciting new things coming soon.

Our Favorite Meals List Updated


Almost two years I ago I posted our family’s favorite meals. Since then we have added quite a few and taken away some so I thought I would take the time to do it again. Especially since in January I got most of our meals off of one site and we found some great additions to our meal rotation.

A lot of these recipes come from The Pioneer Woman - over the summer last year I scoured her website for new recipes we could try (sensing a theme in my cooking?!) and found some great ones. I will say there were quite a few we didn’t like but I’m glad we tried so many because we found some new favorites. Our more recent additions come from Mommy’s Fabulous Finds and her list of 23 Crockpot Recipes.

Chicken Recipes

Angel Chicken

After Work Chicken Noodle Soup (I had homemade dumplings to this and it is so good!)

BBQ Cranberry Chicken (in the Crock Pot)

Bowtie Chicken Alfredo (Photo by Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman)


Chicken Broccoli Alfredo

Chicken N Peppers Pasta Skillet

Chicken Pinwheel Pot Pie

Chicken Quesadillas (or any other quesadilla)

Chicken Taco Bake

Chicken Spaghetti (probably our favorite of all time – photo by Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman)


Grilled Chicken Bacon Sliders

Sesame Chicken (Slow Cooker)

- I serve that with Simple Sesame Noodles - goes great together!

Slow Cooker Black Bean & Salsa Chicken

Southwestern Chicken Chili

Tanise’s Chicken Casserole with Ritz & Rice (do NOT make this unless you are really feeding a crowd – it makes a ton!!)

White Bean Chicken Chili

Beef Recipes

Beef & Potato Nacho Casserole

Beef Stroganoff (in the Crock Pot)

Burgers N Fries Pot Pie

Easy Pleasing Meatloaf

Fried Round Steak

Hamburger Soup (photo by Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman – this is SOOOO good!)


Mini Meatloaves (probably the 2nd favorite meal in the house especially when I had homemade mashed potatoes!)

Sour Cream Noodle Bake (photo by Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman)


Slow Cooker Chili

Sweet & Sour Meatballs (in the Crock Pot)

Tater Tot Casserole

Updated Shepherd’s Pie (or any other Shepherd’s Pie – I always made extra mashed potatoes when we have mini meatloaves and use the rest for Shepherd’s Pie)

Wahoo! Chili with Beans (this is a Tastefully Simple recipe)

Other Meat Recipes

Apple BBQ Pork Tenderloin (really, really good!)

Crock Pot Sausage & Peppers

New Look Scalloped Potatoes and Ham

Perfect Potato Soup (photo by Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman)


Pork Carnitas (in the Crock Pot)

Teriyaki Pork Chops (in the Crock Pot)

Pasta/Italian Recipes

Baked Ziti

Bowtie Lasagna

Creamy Baked Ziti

Easy Beef Lasagna

Easy Calzones

Pasta Skillet Dinner

Pepperoni Pizza Burger (photo by Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman)


Ravioli Lasagna Recipe

Sausage Spaghetti Spirals Recipe

Spaghetti Casserole


Beef & Bean Burritos (photo by Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman)


Beef & Bean Taco Casserole

Layered Enchilada Bake (a grown-up favorite!)

Mini Taco Bowls

Nacho Chicken (in the Crock Pot)

Pineapple Chicken Burritos (in the Crock Pot and surprisingly very good!)

This is by no means an exhaustive list and I’m always looking for new recipes that our family will enjoy. I couldn’t find a good link for: Chicken Parmesan or Sausage Hoagies but we make those quite often along with spaghetti and tacos – though I usually reserve those for when I’m not home so Kirk doesn’t have to cover a complicated meal by himself.

I hope this list gives you a few ideas when it comes to your next weekly or monthly meal planning. Let me know if there’s a website full of recipes you love or if you have a favorite one to share! Also, let me know if any of the links above don’t work :)

Saving Money in February: Learning to Sew


This is more of a long-term plan than just the month of February and seeing the way 2 of my 7-year-olds are taking to it I have high hopes of savings lots of money on…

- clothes
– household items (curtains, room décor)
– and maybe even their wedding dresses

Okay, that may be thinking a little too far ahead – right now they’re just learning to sew in a straight line but with their small amount of new found knowledge they are already trying to skip ahead to sew purses, pillow cases and pot holders!

Thanks to my good friend Krysta at Studio Solaris we are all beginning to learn how to sew!


Though to be perfectly honest – I’m doing a lot less of the sewing and practicing than Julianna and Rachel! In fact, I now have to fight them to even get a second on a machine.

Out of 4 girls 2 enthusiastically agreed to learn to sew, 1 said “yea, I guess so” and the other said she would rather play with Krysta’s son, Chip. I bet you can guess who is who!


First, we learn to cut fabric (fortunately I have LOTS of practice fabric thanks to Kirk’s grandma who will be thrilled to know I am finally using it :) )

Check out Rachel’s serious expression – she is going to measure this right:


Aaah, there’s a real smile from Kaitlyn! Maybe I’m not forcing her after all…


The girls first time using an iron – they seemed pretty excited about that too.


Then it was on to the machines. I’ve had two sewing machines for ages thanks to Kirk’s mom who passed away ten years ago and left them to me. I can only imagine how happy she would have been to see her granddaughters sewing so eagerly on her machines. Unfortunately she passed away before the girls were even born and they never knew her but even still they are being blessed by her!

Julianna on “her” machine – one I can only guess the age of but I do know it’s at least older than me…


Rachel on my “newer” and more mobile machine (the older one is so heavy there’s no lugging that one back and forth to class!)


Kaitlyn got to work on Krysta’s machine and once she got started she was a good sport about trying it though she was not amongst the girls super eager to keep sewing when we got home. Maybe once we move on to re-decorating her room she’ll have more fun with it!


I am excited for them and looking forward to learning more! Stay tuned for some major home changes. Not exactly DIY since I have Krysta to help. More like a complete beginner and a seasoned expert and I’m not exactly sure what that’s called!! I do have some home dec/painting experience but in the sewing department I’m completely new.

But learning to do it myself is the first step to saving money on these projects in the future :)

January Updates: Bathrooms!


From what I hear, by this point in the year most people have given up on their New Year’s Resolutions which is why I only made one this year :) And thus far it’s been going pretty well.

Okay, I confess, this month has been super easy – we already had our half-bath remodel on the schedule and since we weren’t doing it but rather having someone do it meant that it was sure to get done!!

And I love the results. We are so happy to have safe bathrooms once again without fear of falling through the floor or mold. While we did get new and nicer bathrooms out of the deal this wasn’t a cosmetic remodel – it was a necessary one both for our safety as well as looking towards putting our house on the market. After all, no one wants to buy a house if the ceiling may fall on them!!

Sadly, I am TERRIBLE at taking before pictures. I have no idea what is wrong with me!! You’d think I would think of that.

This is all the pictures we took of the kids bathroom before it was redone – the bathroom used to have cute frogs everywhere that a friend painted for us about 10 years ago. I really liked the frogs and didn’t anticipate having to paint over them but the way the bathroom got disassembled we didn’t have much choice. So use your imagination – we had an ugly oak cabinet sink – it was functional but seriously ugly.


The after pictures are obviously a little better and now instead of frogs we have birds :) These aren’t permanent though – if we ever decide to sell the house they can be easily removed and the bathroom is quite neutral (makes me sad but I hear buyers like neutral):


From frogs:


To birds:



Sadly I didn’t do any better getting before pictures of the half-bath even though I told myself I would!!

The mostly before pictures (obviously it used to have a toilet and sink):


A pretty old set that ended up on our front lawn for a while – I’m sure the neighbors appreciated it…


Making progress:




Finally it’s done and has some COLOR!! Okay, if buyers can’t handle a little color in the bathroom then that’s just sad because I love it :)


And then we added a little bit of decoration – again this is a wall sticker so it can be easily removed and the bathroom quickly repainted if absolutely necessary. Why in the world does everyone hate color??


Those were our December/January projects. Both rooms still need a few accessories but otherwise they are complete and it is a huge relief. In February I am very excited to begin a long-time dream of mine to learn how to sew curtains and other home accessories. Last year I had a New Year’s resolution to learn something new and it didn’t happen but this year I have a new good friend and some great motivation to get it done (meaning I’ve bought the fabric so I HAVE to do the curtains now!!). Looking forward to chronicling my learning adventure! Be sure and stop by again soon :)