Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Looking Back at 2013

It's hard to believe that another year has come and gone.

Our family just one year ago

So much has happened in 2013.  Some things I will always remember and some things I hope to forget. It's been a year of smiles, new starts, laughter, and lots of illness. Through it all, I have had my family by my side, each step of the way. Good or bad, easy or tough, it's life and I'm so thankful I'm living it with my precious family.

Join me on a trip back through the past year...

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Our Christmas

Our Christmas week has been one of the most relaxed that I can remember.  Andy was out of town the week before Christmas so we have just been enjoying spending time together.  We've spent many hours in our pajamas, watching Christmas movies, baking Christmas cookies, and relaxing by the fire.

Oh, this kid.

We spent Christmas Eve with my in-laws for our traditional celebration. It was crazy to see how much the girls had grown from last year.  They did amazing at church and their excitement about everything was so much fun to witness.

Once we got home, we set out Santa's cookies, read The Night Before Christmas, and said our goodbyes to Lana the Elf.

Christmas morning came fairly early and the girls dove into their gifts. We had breakfast and sang "Happy Birthday" to Jesus at the top of our lungs.

Each Christmas seems to get better and better. These sweet girls love Christmas and they blow me away with their love for Jesus and the reason we celebrate on this special day.  I am so blessed to have these two precious babies to celebrate each day with.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Mmm, Mmm Monday- Chicken Noodle Soup

Our family has definitely needed it's fair share of chicken soup this year. We've battled one illness after the other and it's only December! I make this soup often because it's comforting and delicious. It has become our favorite meal, along with a loaf of crusty bread. I hope that your family enjoys it too!

Chicken Noodle Soup
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. butter
1 small white onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup flour
8 cups chicken broth
3 cups cooked shredded chicken breast
2 cups uncooked egg noodles
1 tsp. salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

Heat oil 1 Tbsp. of butter of medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven. Saute the onion, carrots, and celery until slightly softened, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook for one more minute.  Add the remaining Tbsp. of butter and let it melt. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables. Stir and cook for a minute.  Slowly stir in the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for  10-15 minutes.

Add the chicken, seasonings, and noodles and stir to combine. Cook until the noodles are al dente, about 10 minutes.  Season with additional salt and other seasonings if needed (I used low sodium broth, so I needed to add a lot more salt).  Serve with warm bread and enjoy!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

What a wonderful Thanksgiving we had! I can't remember a more relaxing holiday, which is exactly the way we wanted it!
The girls slept in and we spent the morning watching the parade and just spending time together. We had a delicious dinner and the girls loved everything. They were so excited about dinner and especially the pie. They each had special things that they made at school to wear for dinner and they looked so cute!

I am so thankful for my sweet husband and these two precious girls. I love them so much and I am so blessed to be their mom.  I hope you had a great Thanksgiving with the special people in your life!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Mmm, Mmm Monday: Mediterranean Pork Chops

In August I spent a Sunday afternoon preparing a bunch of freezer meals for the upcoming busy school year.  It's been great for those days when both Andy and I have things going on and won't get home until late and when I just don't feel like preparing a crockpot meal the night before or in the morning before work.

One of the recipes we tried were these Mediterranean Pork Chops.  I found this recipe from Aimee's website. I found many recipes on her site, and they were all great. These were a great change from the usual pork chops we make. They have great flavor and are super easy. The best part is that this recipe made two meals. I froze them in Ziploc bags and when we were ready to use them, I put them in the refrigerator the night before and popped them in the crockpot the next morning, partially frozen.

Mediterranean Pork Chops
adapted from Six Cents
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups chick broth
4 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp poultry seasoning
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil
6-8 thick cut pork chops
Directions:  Split all ingredients into two bags.  Add a little salt to each bag, to taste.  Cook on low for 8 hours.

Easy peasy!

Here's how I put them into the freezer. Everything was assembled right in the bags. I just squish everything around to mix it up. No clean up!

These are great with salad, rice, pasta, whatever! We've had them several times now and they've definitely become a new favorite. I hope you give them a try!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Pumpkin Carving

I LOVE Halloween. Next to Christmas, it's my favorite holiday. It's just so much fun and it makes me feel like such a kid.  I was really excited about this year because the girls were going to carve pumpkins instead of paint them.

The girls grew their own pumpkins at their Mimi and Papa's house and they were very excited about that.  They had perfect pumpkins to carve!

Emma dove right into the cleaning and once she got over the initial sliminess, she never looked back.  Sophia wouldn't hear of using her hands and stuck to using the scoop.  Emma drew out her own design and was SO serious about it. It was so cute to watch her.  I drew out Sophia's design, which was scary per her request.  Andy and I did the carving and I think they came out great!

Boo at the Zoo

Last night we took the girls to Boo at the Zoo which is one of my favorite Halloween events in our town.  I had originally decided that the girls were going to be bees this year, but I was quickly vetoed. Emma decided that she wanted to be Supergirl and since Sophia wants to do whatever Emma does, she went as Batgirl. Their costumes are super cute (ha) and when I found some superhero t-shirts for Andy and I, our family costume was complete.

The girls had a great time, as always. We kept commenting on how quickly the candy trail went this year, with both girls being all business. They got lots of candy and treats and now they can't wait for Halloween.

Doing The Twist. ;)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

That Time We Got the Plague

This has been the craziest, most exhausting week. We were looking forward to a long, relaxing Labor Day weekend, but our immune systems had other plans.

It all started on Sunday morning when Sophia woke up in the middle of the night, crying. This rarely happens, but we chalked it up to teeth, calmed her down, and put her back to sleep. She woke up early the next morning and cried that her tummy hurt.  Again, I didn't think too much of it because she tells me that when she has to...you know.

We were sitting on the couch watching a cartoon when she screamed bloody murder and made me jump out of my skin.  I barely had to time to ask what was wrong when she threw up. Everywhere. I grabbed her and ran for the bathroom, but she made sure to...ahem...make her mark twice more on the way.  I yelled for Andy and we calmed her down and cleaned her up.  We hoped it wasn't anything serious, but it was.

We fed her a very bland breakfast and she wasn't able to keep that down either. We kept the girls separated for the rest of the day and Sophia didn't get sick for the rest of the day. We were hopeful that it was a quick bug and that it would pass quickly.

Our hopes were dashed on Monday evening, when both Andy and I felt unsettled and didn't eat much for dinner.  Emma complained that her stomach felt "full" and I just knew what was coming.

I went to bed early, but couldn't sleep and around midnight, it hit. Both Andy and I were battling for spots in the bathroom. I'll spare you the gross details, but let's just say it was horrific. Literally horrific. Emma woke up crying and I had to dash from comforting her to the bathroom. I was dizzy, nauseous, and achy all over.  I couldn't take care of Emma and I had to completely leave it to Andy, who, thankfully, was able to function.  On top of the illness, we had a major thunderstorm that kept Emma up instead of allowing her to sleep for a few precious minutes.

The morning was a blur. Andy and I tried to sleep when we could, alternating sleep and bathroom trips with caring for the girls.

Since then, we've slowly, slowly been trying to recover.  We thought we were in the clear with both girls on Tuesday night, but both girls had a relapse. Wednesday was sickness free, but everyone is still so weak and not ready to go back to real life. We are surviving on chicken noodle soup, toast, and crackers, but just barely.

We've received lots of well wishes and they've been such bright spots in our gloomy days. We've had two "porch" visits that we were so thankful for. Andy's parents dropped off some supplies and my sister and Kimi dropped off a care package. The girls were thrilled with both deliveries and each was like a visit from the Red Cross. 

Even though the girls appear to be feeling better, I've decided to take another day off tomorrow to give them more time to recover, rest, and make sure this illness has passed. They're having a tough time doing anything active for very long.  Truthfully, I need the extra day too.

I have the utmost respect and awe for families that deal with illness every day. I'm thankful to have two healthy girls that will recover and be back to their old selves soon. This week has been very tough but our family has become even closer as we work through this together. I couldn't ask for three other people to be stuck in a house with for four days.  Next time though, I'd like to stick with other methods of bonding. ;)  Continue to pray for our family as we heal and recover!

Monday, August 12, 2013

The First Day of School

Well, the girls had their first day of school today and it was a big success! Andy takes the girls to school so he sent me an update on how their morning went. I was so nervous about how it was going to go, but I was busy all morning and didn't have much time to think about it.

Both girls went straight into class, introduced themselves to their teachers and there were no tears. Yay! When I picked the girls up, they were both happy and excited to tell me about the fun they'd had at school. I can't even tell you how relieved I am that they enjoyed their day.

This picture cracks me up (for many reasons)! Sophia's sign says:
  • She's 2 years old
  • She loves Rosie, blue & pink, and pickles
  • When I grow up I want to eat food.  Ha!

  • 4 years old
  • Loves football, green & blue, and spaghetti
  • When I grow up I want to be a firefighter

 Here are both of my big girls on their first day. I'm dying over how big Sophia's backpack is. What a cutie!!!
Funny note: Andy didn't realize that Sophia wasn't wearing shoes until they were getting into the car. Mornings can be hectic. ;)

Mommy and Daddy are so happy that you love your teachers and new friends. We hope that you always love school as much as you do now. We are so proud of both of you and we love you very much!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Back to School

It's a very big week at the Stegner house. Not only am I going back to school, but the girls will both be in full-time Pre-K this year! I'm excited for them, but VERY nervous.  Emma loves her school and is thrilled to go five days a week now. Sophia, on the other hand, doesn't like change and is pretty much a homebody.  I know that she will also learn to love school but it just may take some getting used to. 

We've been prepping the girls for weeks now, talking about the big changes that would be happening, talking about their new schedule, praying for their teachers, etc. Today we spent the day together and having fun.  Emma has been begging to go to the mall, so to the mall we went. We didn't buy a single thing...Emma just wanted to ride the escalators and go to the Disney Store. :)

After naps, the girls and I read The Kissing Hand. This is my absolute favorite back-to-school book and I never make it through the book without crying. The girls and I loaded up each other's hands with kisses to get us ready for our first day of school.

After our story, we made our own cookie kissing hands. I used a hand shaped cutter for most of the cookies but each girl got to make their own special cookie by tracing their hand in the cookie dough. Each hand was topped with a kiss to make it complete. 

The girls loved making their kissing hands and loved eating them even more. I told the girls that now they have a little love in their hands and tummies. ;)
Sophia with her special cookie.
Emma with her special cookie.

I'm so excited for them, and for me, as we all begin a new school year. I pray that they will love their teachers.  I pray that their teachers will love them. I pray that I can remember my own sweet girls when I might lose my patience with one of my students and react how I hope their teachers react. I pray that we can all have a happy, safe, and wonderful year at school!