Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Books Worth Reading in 2016

I fell in love with quite a few fictional characters in 2015. They kept me up at night, made me laugh and made me cry. These are a few books you should definitely read this year! (* indicates my favorites)

If you like your books with a hint of history, read these...

*The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

*Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain

*11/22/63 by Stephen King

If you like books with a quirky leading male protagonist, read these...

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

If you like your books with a dash of whimsy, read these...

*Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

*Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

If you like books that cause you to stay up way past your bedtime, read these...

*What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

Confess by Colleen Hoover

If you like books that speak to your heart & soul, read this...

For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards by Jen Hatmaker

Next up on my to-read list for 2016...
The Lake House by Kate Morton
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Are you on Goodreads?
Find me here!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Messy {Thoughts on handing over control}

Lately Aiden wants to do everything by himself. Part of me loves this and is so proud and the other (bigger) part of me is having a hard time handing over control to my toddler, especially when it means that meal time is always messy.

I was all about my 14 month old picking up his food with his hands and feeding himself. I oohed and ahhhed and clapped for him. All of the sudden though, he wanted to take control of the spoon. I knew handing over the spoon meant a huge mess for me, but he wouldn't give up. So I reluctantly handed over the spoon, found a plate to shield myself from the mashed potatoes that would surely be flung my direction and peeked over to see what he would do.

I watched his little tiny fingers grasp the spoon with delight and plunge it in to the mashed potatoes. The spoon was his, he now had "control." And then I had a revelation.

This must be how God feels.

God graciously allows us to take the spoon from Him even when we have no idea what we are doing with it. Then we do things OUR way and make a mess of things. But He doesn't leave us in our mess.

He loves us despite our mess.

So when Aiden wants to feed himself, I will do my best to guide his hand and to teach him how he should do it. I will be patient when my floor is covered in bananas and sweet potatoes and when bath time is required because he has syrup in his hair. When he makes a mess, I will be there to clean it up.

And as time goes on and he has watched me and practiced, he will eventually learn how to make a little less of a mess. This is what we should be doing too. Reading the Bible and learning from God's example how to live so that the messes we are bound to make can be a little easier to clean up.

I know that no matter how much of a mess Aiden makes with his food (or his life) I will still love him and want the best for him. And that my friends, is only a tiny smidgen of what God feels about us, His kids. Your mess is never too big for Him.

Monday, January 18, 2016

{Baby Approved} Healthy Smash Cake

healthy smash cake
As Aiden's first birthday approached I decided to look into making my own smash cake for him. Since he hadn't had a lot of sugar I didn't want him to be on sugar overload so I found a recipe for a somewhat "healthy" smash cake and it was surprisingly delicious! We ate the leftovers for breakfast for oh 3 days after his party so I promise, it's yummy. The recipe for the cake and icing are below...

Banana Smash Cake
5 ripe bananas
1/2 cup homemade applesauce
3 Tablespoons Coconut Oil (melted)
3 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 cups Whole Wheat Flour
3/4 cups Oat Flour (grind rolled oats in blender)
1 Tsp. Cinnamon

1.) Mash the bananas in in a medium bowl
2.) In a separate large bowl, mix the flours, baking soda and cinnamon together
3.) Add the mashed bananas, applesauce, coconut oil and vanilla to the flour mixture. Mix until just incorporated.
4.) Coat your pans with oil (I used two 8 inch round cake pans)
5.) Spread the batter into the bottom of the pans
6.) Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes (or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center)
7.) Cool the cakes before frosting

Cream cheese icing
1 cup (8 oz.) cream cheese
1/2 cup (4 oz.) no sugar added apple juice concentrate
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1.) Soften the cream cheese
2.) Whisk the cream cheese with the apple juice concentrate and vanilla extract until creamy. (It will take a little while for the cream cheese to get creamy, don't give up when it looks super runny, I promise it will thicken up. Just keep whisking, just keep whisking...

Once the cake is cooled, frost it and refrigerate until it is ready to be devoured! I made this cake the night before Aiden's party and it set up well and tasted great the next day!
first birthday cake
Inspirational Number Tee from The Blue Envelope

Friday, January 15, 2016

That time my baby rode a horse

Christmas day we went out to my Aunt & Uncle's farm for lunch and Aiden got a surprise. He got to ride a horse and it was the cutest thing I have ever seen, which is why the next bazillion pictures are all of my baby on a horse...Giddy up.
Aren't his boots just the cutest little things?
And as if riding a horse wasn't enough fun for one day, then Aiden got his own "hay ride." This kid is living the dream I tell ya. And I just love that he is wearing his Christmas suspenders in these pictures.
An abundance of cats, a real horsey ride and his own hayride? Well, I think Aiden now wants to live on the farm! I love that he will grow up being able to visit a family farm just like his mama did!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Baby See, Baby Do

Aiden is now 14 months old. This age is definitely an adventure. Aiden studies everything so intently and wants to to everything we are doing. Aiden see, Aiden do. He sees me with a comb and immediately he wants to brush his hair. He sees me blow my nose and he wants a tissue to try it too. He has seen us put his shoes and socks on so now he wants to "help." Most recently he has developed a love for brushing his teeth. He now requests to brush his teeth every time we walk into the bathroom or he sees his toothbrush. "Br, Br, Br..." That means it's time to brush.

Since he didn't start getting teeth until he turned one, I hadn't had to get him a toothbrush so when the time came to get one I had no idea what kind to buy. Thankfully I received Nuby's 4 Stage Baby Oral Care System just in time. It comes with 4 different stages of brushes perfectly designed to help your baby with each stage of oral development. We are currently using the Stage 3 brush, which is made of silicone and acts as both a teether and tooth brush for my teething baby. It is easy for Aiden to hold himself and is great on his gums and new teeth. I add a little of Tom's Toddler toothpaste and Aiden will brush and brush and brush.

Now if only we could get him to figure out the difference between what he uses to brush his hair and his teeth. This sometimes causes an issue. Haha.

When did you start brushing your baby's teeth? 

*I was given this product for free in exchange for a review, but all opinions are my own.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Another overdue Christmas post (sorry not sorry)

After our quiet Christmas morning at home we headed to my parents house where in true Hobbit fashion, we ate second breakfast, opened stockings and then more presents! One of my very favorite gifts was an illustrated version of the first Harry Potter book! Gah!
Then we went out to my Aunt and Uncle's farm for lunch and Aiden got spoiled with more presents and he got to ride on a horse! More on that later because let's face it, I took enough pictures of Aiden on that horse to fill an entire post.
Then it was off to Drew's  Mom's house for Christmas round 4. We ate a delicious Christmas dinner then opened presents in our matching jammies and tried our best not to fall asleep face first in our dessert. I can't get over how amazing Aiden did all day (sans naps). He is quiet the party animal.
We are so blessed to have had such a full Christmas day. A day full of sweet family, full of good food, full of thoughtful gifts, full of love.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Take me back to Christmas Morning

I can't let another day go by without beginning the recap of our Christmas! Just pretend it's still December, oh and still 2015. We had such a wonderful Christmas day, extremely busy, but wonderful.

I like for Aiden, Drew and I to have our morning at home just us. It's such a sweet way to start the day. We read the story of Jesus birth snuggled in bed together, cooked a big breakfast including the best french toast ever, let Aiden "open" his stocking and then it was time for presents. Just wait until you see what we got Aiden. Let's just say it's the gift that keeps on giving.

Here's a look at our Christmas morning, just the three of us...
Thomas the Train Powerwheel for the WIN!!!
After we managed to get Aiden away from Thomas for five seconds, it was nap time then off to my parent's house...

Saturday, January 2, 2016

My word to live by for 2016

2015 was a year filled with many tragic events in our world and I found myself becoming fearful. I found myself worrying about all the "what if's".

After I read about Amanda Blackburn, I feared someone breaking in to my house, I feared being without Aiden and him being without me.

After the tragic death of one of my friend's husband, I began to fear losing my own husband. When he wouldn't answer my calls, fear would creep in.

With all the terrorist attacks, small fears began to grow in my mind when we were out in public places. What if someone came into the movie theater we were in like I've read about in the news? I found myself seeking out exits and wanting to go to the shooting range with my husband.

I had nights where I couldn't fall asleep because of the knot growing in my stomach due to fear. And then I was reminded that this is not how God wants any of us to live our lives. God does not want us to live in fear.

There is so much we can fear in this life. The list of "what if's" could go on for days. Fear can paralyze you, can cause you to miss out on the future God has for you. But we do not have to live in fear.

"We need to learn to accept the reality of His love for us, so that our fears do not control us." 
-Joyce Meyer

If we choose to trust God and His perfect love for us, we have nothing to fear because perfect love casts out fear. We are His beloved children and He has good plans for us. Does that mean tragedy can't strike? No. Does that mean that there won't be trials? No. What it does mean is that we have a good father who loves us and will take care of us. We have a father who has prepared a place for us even beyond the edges of this Earth. He is here to grieve with us because He has walked in our shoes. He has felt pain and loss and He cares about us.

So this year I want to have more courage. 

 I want to be a brave mother and entrust a sense of adventure and zest for life in my son. I want to do what I know in my heart is best for my son and not let doubt or fear creep in and tell me I'm doing this whole mom thing wrong.

I want to be a brave wife and encourage my husband to go out and take hold of his dreams. I want to embrace every second we have together and go out on more dates just the two of us.

I want to be a brave woman. Someone who can walk out of the house without make up on and not worry what others think of me.

I want to have courage with the words I say to my friends and family, especially those who don't have a relationship with Jesus.

I don't want to be afraid to try new things for fear of failure or not measuring up.

I don't want to worry about the things that are beyond my control. Like cars breaking down, appliances breaking, basements flooding or the money it takes to fix those things. 

I am the daughter of a King and He will take care of me. I just need to choose to walk with Him and  choose to have courage.

Do you have a word for 2016?
What do you hope to do differently this year?

My word for 2015 was DWELL
My word for 2014 was HOPE
My word for 2013 was THANKFUL