Friday, November 23, 2012

5x7 Folded Card

Picture In Landscape Christmas Card
Turn your favorite photos into personalized Christmas cards.
View the entire collection of cards.

5x7 Folded Card

Picture In Landscape Christmas Card
Find unique and modern Christmas cards at Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.

Monday, November 19, 2012

A FREE TREAT!

We all know I'm slightly obsessed with

pictures of my children...

and anything that's a timesaver...

and free things...

and my iPhone...

just.a.little.bitty.bit.


Well, guess what!


I have a deal for you that combines ALL.OF.THOSE.THINGS.

Seriously.  

It's from Shutterfly...but there's a new kid on their street!  

I got excited jumpy-heart-syndrome when I read about the new brand Shutterfly is marketing: TREAT.  Oh hello, a brand that sound like sugar; now I'm really in!

Here it is: TREAT is Shutterfly’s exciting new greeting card brand that makes it easy for people to create and send one-of-a-kind greeting cards. TREAT cards are perfect for holidays, birthdays, congrats, thank yous and every occasion in between. It’s crazy fun. It’s super easy. And it’s totally personal.  

And for two days, it's totally FREE.

Yep.  FREE.

SO, whether you want to send a birthday card from your smartphone or Christmas greetings with those cute pics of your kids right from your laptop, TREAT lets you create a one-of-a-kind card that's sure to knock your mom's socks off.  (especially if you've ever forgotten her birthday...not that I've done that or anything.) You pick the perfect card from their exciting assortment and personalize it.  TREAT prints it and mails it for you!  Sweet!

Here are the official details:


Monday, November 19 and Tuesday November 20
Treat Two Day Free Card Campaign 2012

Just visit Treat here: http://www.treat.com/  

Check out with the code:  TREATBLOGR

Seriously.  Do it.
It's free.
It's fun.
They put it in the mail FOR YOU.  (because we all forget sometimes, right?)

You're going to love it!

Promise.

Now go make someone's day!


This post was sponsored by the awesome folks over at Shutterfly/Treat.  ALL opinions expressed are completely mine.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Perfect Sick-Day Project

Last Monday, we got that dreaded phone call from the school nurse, 
"I have Cloe here in my office.  She's not feeling so great..."

Thankfully, it was a super quick bug which she slept off with a nice four hour nap.
(and thankfully nothing too embarrassing happened at school when this sickness came on!)

This left us with the WHOLE NEXT DAY of togetherness while she waited out the 24-hour return period.
Seriously, who doesn't love having an extra pair of excited, helpful hands around the house!

Because the housework went so much faster with her around, we decided to pull out a canvas, sheets of pretty scrapbook paper, some glue and a random assortment of little embellishments.

She went to town!  
Cutting, placing, gluing. 
When all the paper was in place just exactly how she wanted it, we covered the canvas with a few layers of mod-podge.  I think she'll have no problem catching on to my love for the shiny polish!

When that had dried, she added fun little buttons and flowers.

 It turned out so cute!

She even had a show-and-share time the day she went back to school, so all of her friends got to see her cute masterpiece!

The boys can't wait for their turn at a sick day! ;)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

He said he wouldn't eat it...but he did!

Normally, I oblige and cook meals that I know my husband will like.   
It's one small way I can show him that I love him!
(When's he gone for a dinner, watch out!  The kids always know when daddy's gone because the food gets a little crazy!  I pushed them over the edge the other night with a little "Chicken of the Sea" and some peas stirred into our mac and cheese!  I know...it IS weird but so good!)

I called him one day to see if Broccoli Cheddar Wild Rice Soup would be okay for dinner.
He hesitantly said he'd give it a try, but I shouldn't be offended if he didn't like it because it had never been a favorite.  No worries...I was pretty sure he'd like this!  
(Plus, I had to use up that stinking ginormous bag of broccoli florets from Costco!)

I used parts of several different recipes to come up with this recipe--it seems pretty forgiving if you want to leave out an ingredient or step here or there based on preference.  

The recipe is given as we liked it...or should I say HE LIKED IT!
Yes, it was one of those "should I alert extended family members?" sort of moments!
The key is to keep most of the vegetables in a crisp-steamed state.  Perfect!

Try it!  Even your picky ones might like it!


Broccoli Cheddar Wild Rice Soup

1 cup wild rice
6 heaping cups broccoli, stems and florets (you could use less)
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/2 in. pieces
2 T. flour
3 T. butter
1/2 tsp. dried tarragon
6 c. chicken stock or chicken broth
1 cup whole milk
6 oz. Cheddar cheese, grated

In a saucepan, cook rice according to directions.  
While rice is cooking, melt butter in a large pot.  Add onions, stems of broccoli, and garlic.  Cook until onion is tender.  Add flour and cook for an additional 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Stir in chicken broth, 2 cups broccoli florets, 1/2 of red pepper, and tarragon.  Simmer until vegetables are soft.  Use a handheld blender and pulse just until soup begins to thicken.  Add milk and cheese.  Stir until cheese is melted.  Add the rest of the broccoli and red pepper.  Stir in the rice.  Cook just until heated thoroughly (longer if you want your vegetables softer).  Serve with Soup Crackers from Trader Joes for an extra special treat!  Delicious!  



Friday, November 2, 2012

Soup Season is here!

There's just something about a cold, rainy day that demands soup!
Of course, I'm happy to oblige.  
Soups are awesome for cramming in tons of vegetables. 
Kale is our newest kick.  
I have no idea why, but the other night I was craving kale and popcorn.  
Not together.  
Just a nice healthy serving of each.  
W.e.i.r.d.

A few years ago, my friend Liz made an awesome copycat version of Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana.  I think her recipe might have actually beat the restaurant version!  
It was so delicious, I've never forgotten it!

This is my crack at Zuppa Toscana.  
We had to make a few changes based on what was already in the refrigerator and the fact that I have a 15 month old who scarfs down cooked carrots like nobody's business.
So here you...stay warm and eat soup!


Zuppa Toscana

  • 1 lb ground pork sausage  (Italian sausage would work too if you like spicier foods)
  • 1½ tsp crushed red peppers (I left this out for the kids)
  • 1 large diced white onion
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 10 cups chicken broth (or 10 cups water + 5 bouillon cubes)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 large potatoes
  • 3 large carrots
  • 1/2 bag of chopped fresh kale (or 4+ cups)
  1. Brown the sausage, bacon, and crushed red pepper in a large pot. Drain excess fat, crumble bacon, and chill while other ingredients are prepared.
  2. In the same pan, sauté onions and garlic over medium heat until the onions are soft.
  3. Add chicken broth to the pot and heat until it starts to boil.
  4. Add the sliced potatoes and carrots and cook until soft, about 30 minutes.
  5. Add the milk and cook until thoroughly heated.
  6. Stir in the sausage, bacon and the kale, heat and serve!


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Our Halloween has been pretty mild here today!  Two boys under the weather gave me a reason to stay home and catch up on the crazy that life has been for the last week!  
In Iowa, we have a way of doing things ahead of schedule.  Our Harvest Parties at school were last Friday, we carved pumpkins on Sunday night, and Trick-or-Treating was last night!  We are all costumed, partied, and candied out!
Here's a look at the fun!
I love getting to be the party planner for Cloe and McClain's classes!
Cloe's class had fun with a Fear Factor Theme!  There were seven crazy stunts for the kids...thankfully no one puked!  They really got into chanting:  FEAR IS NOT A FACTOR FOR ME!   Great kids!

 The kids drew their own designs on the pumpkins, Cody carved them, and I roasted the seeds!  

Pretty cute jack o'lanterns here!

 It was a beautiful night for some Trick-or-Treats!
We had fun walking around to our neighbors' houses, telling funny jokes, and scoring scads of candy!  We love our neighborhood!  (the little old lady giving our hot chocolate...she's our total favorite!)
Our little Sumo Batman needed his own picture!
He stayed nice and toasty in his snowsuit stuffed into a costume!

Hope you all had a Happy Halloween, too!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Christmas is Coming! {GIVEAWAY!!!}

{{{Giveaway is Closed--Congratulations to comment #10 Ellen at Svennes Punkin Patch!}}}


Do you know what is two months and ten days away?

CHRISTMAS

So, do you know what needs to be going in my mailbox in two months?

CHRISTMAS CARDS

My mom always taught me, "If you don't send them, you won't get them!"

Since I LOVE getting surprises in my mailbox--especially at Christmas--of fun pictures and fancy cards from friends and family, we send them!

Can you guess where our favorite place is to get our Christmas cards made?

Yep, SHUTTERFLY!

We're pretty loyal Shutterfly fans around here.

Shutterfly is the best at coming up with new collections of cards that feature everything from traditional colors and embellishments to merry and bright colors that take on a modern snazzy feel.  They always have something that we love!  They also have crazy awesome Special Offers!

Here are a few cards in the running for the Crigger Christmas Card:

 The kids pick this one!

 The Pinterest browsing part of me picks this one!

And this one would win the most brownie points with the Grandmas!

Decisions, decisions, decisions!


What Christmas card will you be picking?

Check out Shutterfly's Christmas Cards and let me know your favorite design!

...and for sharing in the fun and excitement of Christmas cards, I'll pick one comment to win $50 to spend at Shutterfly!  Pretty awesome, yes?

Leave your comment by October 29, 2012!



Be sure to check out these Fun Shutterfly Social Channels, too!
•             Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/shutterfly
•             Twitter: http://twitter.com/Shutterfly
•             Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/shutterfly/
•             Instagram: Shutterfly
•             Google +: https://plus.google.com/+shutterfly
•             Blog: http://blog.shutterfly.com/

***This post was sponsored by Shutterfly but all opinions expressed are entirely my own!***


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Our Little Celebrity!

Look whose picture made the newspaper!


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Humor me..

It's not really a secret:  I love pictures of my children!

When we go on vacation, I snap away like crazy trying to preserve the fun memories being made.

This summer, we went to a conference in Pennsylvania and passed this awesome tanker each time we went to and from our hotel.

The kids loved it and begged to stop and take pictures.
(see why I love these kids so much!?!)

Our attempts for the perfect military tanker picture were futile, but the outtakes are hilarious!

Let's try and get a nice group photo sitting in front of the tanker...
Okay...everyone look here...
...or not...
Let's try for close up!
Bright sun will always get ya!
Close...come on Maddox!
Oops, losing two of them now.
Bright sun again...
Their enthusiasm for pictures is fading!

How about switching to individual pictures?
That bright sun really gets him!

Trying hard!

When all else fails, just get the sister, right?




Love the giggles they get when they look at these pictures!
Better memories than if they would have turned out perfect, I think!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Just keep swimming...

This summer, Cody and I were watching a comedian one night as he described what it's like to have four kids.  He said, "It's like you're drowning and someone hands you a baby."

This resonated with me so much, I literally had tears in my eyes...tears from laughing and tears from crying.  "This guy really gets it!" I thought. 

Just a few months earlier, those had been my words through tears on the phone to Cody, "I just really feel like I'm drowning all.the.time.  Having four kids is killing me."  I was so overwhelmed.   

It certainly doesn't take four kids to feel like you're drowning.  As life situations pile up, those emotions and feelings of helplessness can leave one feeling like they're drowning in a heartbeat. 

I knew I needed help.  I knew I needed encouragement.  I knew I needed accountability.

Thankfully, my husband and some very sweet friends helped me through that "drowning" time of my life.  You see, I had to realize something:  I couldn't do it all.  Simple, right?  But I liked to do it all.  It was a fun challenge before.  My friends were doing it all...or so it felt.

Cody really helped me prioritize and balance things in our lives so that I could function.  He reminded me where true strength and wisdom could be found.  And we made it...head above water the whole time!

Today, I joined in with 25 of my most favorite moms from Moms Up a Creek for the Hello Mornings Challenge.  

One year ago, the thought of doing this challenge would have paralyzed me.  Get up early before the kids?  Exercise?  Read my Bible?  Pray?  Prioritize my day?  No thanks. I think I'll claim every last minute of sleep and squeeze those things in during my day...because that always happens...never.
But all of those things happened this morning.  And it worked.

Here are just a few tips I thought of as I looked back on how I went from "drowning" to "swimming" in a year:

1.  Never be too proud to ask for advice from your husband.  Yes, God did seem to gift women in multitasking, BUT that does not mean we are to feel superior or proud in it.  Ask your husband if he has any time-saving, practical tips.  Ask him what he would like your priorities to be...be willing to change them for him and let go of something you might be holding on to selfishly. 

2.  Look for ways to adapt things to your priorities.  The Hello Mornings Challenge provided a Bible Study to go along with the challenge.  However, I'm already trying to read through the Bible in a year.  Practically, I knew I could not do both things and do either one well.  I chose to save their Bible Study for another time and focus on my Bible reading.

3.  Don't be afraid to "kill two birds with one stone".  I love my iPhone.  (I think anyone who's ever met me probably knows this already.)  My Bible reading plan is on my YouVersion Bible app.  (By the way, they have several awesome reading plans for the whole Bible, the Gospels, Proverbs, etc.--check it out!)  My exercise plan is on my RunKeeper App.  (Don't be fooled, I'm only walking, People.)  When I walked out my front door this morning, I hit start on RunKeeper and play on my Bible.  Hello?  Exercising and listening to Scripture?  It was perfect!
This should also just say, "Don't be afraid".  I can be such a fearful person.  Should I walk alone?  You never know...kidnappers might want to nab this sleepy mom of four early in the morning... Don't be afraid.  Having a phone isn't like having a gun...but it's communication.  Keep it on you.

4.  Plan ahead.  I guess this one should have been earlier on my list...but I didn't plan ahead. Haha.  Last night, I laid out everything I would need this morning so I could sneak out quietly.  In case the kids woke early, they had clothes laid out and cereal in their bowls.  A bottle was ready in the refrigerator.  Everyone knew...mom is going to be out for a few minutes in the morning; you will survive until she returns.

God has taken me from cries of drowning to confidently participating in an early morning challenge!


So Hello Mornings!

What's your best tip for staying afloat in motherhood?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Back to School...already!

This week, the kids went back to school.
Our summer seemed to go by crazy fast!
(There might be some back-dated posts appearing so we don't forget all the fun we had along the way! 1 camping trip, 2 weeks at church camp, 1 week at a conference, 1 week of vacation, a quick trip to say good-bye, swimming lessons, family swim days, reading summer school...phew!)

Our week started with Back-to-School Night!
 Of course, we couldn't go to meet our teachers empty-handed.
This cup says, "I'm thirsty for knowledge in fourth (or first) grade!"
Our teachers are all so nice!
I think we got the best ones!

 Then we had to take the annual front step pictures!
Together
 and individual
and because we got to the school so early, there was time for one on the bench in the garden.

Thankfully, the tears were fewer this year.
(mine were, at least...one boy still loves his mama quite.a.bit!)

Maddox and I took right off for our favorite coffee shop.
(Which is closing tomorrow!  Boo!)
We shared a delicious Sputnik!
(honey-almond-cinnamon latte...no one can duplicate it's awesomeness!)
Then we did a little Bible reading with our favorite people!

I was so looking forward to the one-on-one time to play with Maddox during the rest of the school day.  However, he decided to crash and slept for 4 1/2 hours!  Talk about salt in my lonely wounds! 

We were ready and waiting when the bell rang to snatch up the three amigos and treat them to a little Orange Leaf!
Our favorite!

I'm so proud of these three BIG kids!  
They are growing up so quickly!
It's fun to see them grow and learn and develop!
The boys took their favorite books for show and tell on the first day.
They chose "The Jesus Storybook Bible" and the "ESV Kids Study Bible" because they wanted to make sure their classmates knew about "the most powerful and loving guy that ever lived: Jesus!"
Cloe was met with "new" friends in her class...girls whose "circle" she hasn't always been accepted into in the past.
I was SO nervous for her, but she came home with glowing reports on building friendships with the girls and being thankful for renewing old friendships at recess.
I know...I'm a mom who's bragging.
But seriously, these three kids are showing me answers to prayer every.single.day.

So, here we go.
School Year 2012-2013!
Phew!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Father's Day

Next up in our summer fun:  Father's Day!

We are pretty blessed in our family!
I love that our children have a super loving and caring daddy

and

two grandpas who love and spoil them like crazy!


(It doesn't look like Maddox has either one wrapped around his little finger, does it?)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Long Live Summer!

It's NO secret, our family LOVES summer!

Vacation!
Swimming!
Special treats!

To capture all the fun memories, I will be taking a bazillion pictures!  

Which brings us to this special message from my favorite picture people:

Shutterfly’s Long Live Summer Photo Contest on Facebook launched on Monday July 9, and it runs until August 12. 


By entering, you could win a trip for four to The Bahamas and a professional photo shoot so you’ll remember your vacation forever.  All you need to do is upload your favorite photo and caption based on the theme of the week.  Get a gift from Shutterfly just for entering! You can enter at any point during the 5-week sweepstakes period.

PHOTO THEMES
•       Week 1(7/9): Americana
•       Week 2 (7/16): Great Outdoors
•       Week 3 (7/23): Water Fun
•       Week 4 (7/30): Sports & Activities
•       Week 5 (8/6): Parties & Celebrations

PRIZES
       Instant win prizes just for submitting a photo!
       Weekly prizes (contestants can enter one time/week)
       Weekly featured photos: up to 5 weekly entries will be selected from the gallery and featured on the Facebook fan page and awarded a $500 gift card on Shutterfly and a copy of the new Lonely Planet travel photography book.
       Grand prize: trip for 4 to Bahamas, 4 nights, family photo shoot

       Shutterfly Sweepstakes - Official Rules




Head on over to Shutterfly's Facebook page and enter to win! 
Be sure and let me know if you win!



Thursday, July 12, 2012

Bug Zone!

 Next up in June:  a HUGE week of Vacation Bible School!
The BUG ZONE!
Our kids love all the fun and excitement that goes with VBS!
 Bug shirt day--we had the whole life cycle of a caterpillar going on!
(Thank you, hot glue gun!)
 The kids had a goal to raise money for the Friendship Baptist Center.
With each $100 raised, a pastor promised to eat a cricket.
(No worries, these were dried, bacon and cheese flavored crickets!)

 The kids blew everyone out of the water and raised over $1,000 for this great center that helps impoverished people right in the heart of our city!
Of course, that meant more people needed to eat crickets!
It was not-so-tasty, but oh-so-worth-it!


Not to be left out of the excitement...although he did catch a great two-hour nap everyday at VBS!

Five super speedy, fun-filled mornings...
'til next year, VBS!