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We’ve had Abreham home for almost six months now.

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As you’d expect, we’ve gone through highs and lows, and have had a dark shadow looming over our house at times, too.

Mostly though, it’s been a 14 year old boy learning to trust.

But how do you trust when you’ve been let down so many times? How do you put your life in a family’s hands whom you barely know and have a completely different way of doing things, when you’ve been on your own since a small child?

Today was a big day of trust for us, as Abreham finally agreed to get his teeth worked on. More than a decade without a toothbrush will do a lot of damage and the black in his molars isn’t chocolate, like he’s tried to convince us.

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A few weeks ago Abreham went to the doctor for some immunizations that his school nurse said must be done before he came back to school. Ben took him and because they went so late in the day, the doctor was running behind…really behind.

Ben said he could see Abreham, almost minute by minute, going more and more into his shell as they waited.

Ezekiel has told us before how many shots he’d get while he was in Ethiopia. “For everything”, he’d shared. “Headaches, stomach aches, whatever.” We know our sweet African boys are not strangers to being pierced by a needle and sit in the waiting room with dread and a nervous stomach every time.

Sadly on this day, by the time the nurse came back with a tray full of immunizations, he was done.

“No.” He said to the nurse sternly. “No shots.”

After much coaxing and convincing, they left…puncture free. And Abreham was in a very, VERY bad mood. He wouldn’t eat dinner that evening, nor would he speak to us. He simply put himself to bed early, knowing he was not allowed to go to school the next day…or any day, until he went back for his immunizations.

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That next day I woke him up at 6:30am, just as I do every morning. While sitting on the edge of his bed, I whispered that he needed to get up and take a shower.

“No wake up, mom. I no school today. No shots, remember?”

“Ah yes, my love. I remember. BUT no school does not mean a day to sleep and play. No drawing or Ethiopian YouTube videos, no playing outside or going for a run. Today, if you do not go to school and work, you will work at home. I have many jobs for you and have a workbook waiting downstairs for after breakfast.”

Oh shoot. He realized we were serious about this shot thing. The look on his face was priceless.

Upon coming downstairs after his shower and making his bed, he began making himself some scrambled eggs. “You want some, mom? How many eggs?” I love when he makes me breakfast, and honestly these days he does it most mornings.

As we ate together in the kitchen, me fixing us both some coffee, he looked me in the eye and apologized for the day before.

“I’m sorry no shots, mom. I’m sorry to dad.”

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We talked about it as we munched on our steaming breakfast and as he shared with me his fears, I reminded him how Ben and I want the best for him.

“We don’t do things to hurt you. We do everything we can to keep you safe and healthy. To make life good. Not easy. But good. Daddy and I want to protect you…but sometimes we will ask you to do things that are new. Things that make you nervous and maybe even scared. But we will never ask you to do something bad. We only want good for you.”

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He looked at me, searching my eyes, as if he was trying to learn how to trust us…but didn’t know if he could. Or should.

I could almost see the wheels turning in his brain as he thought back on things Ben and I have done or required of him. Perhaps even thinking back on his life in Ethiopia, learning there that to trust was to be hurt.

I put my hand over his and again looked him straight into his eyes. “Dad and I will NEVER do anything to hurt you. We love you so much. We want the best for you. You can trust us. I promise, you can trust me.”

A smile slowly spread across his face and he asked that I call Ben to tell him he was ready to go back. After taking the rest of the Crazies to school, we set off for the doctor once again. And he did it. Blood was drawn and a half-dozen needles were shoved {as carefully as possible} into his arm.

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“I am strrrong, mom.” He said, in his beautiful Ethiopian accent, rolling his r’s. “I am brave. And I am ready for the dentist.”

So that brings us to today. Our sweet dentist, who we adore, walked him through everything and told him step-by-step what he was doing {all the while, keeping the needles out of his line of sight}.

Many fillings and the extraction of one very infected tooth and we were on our way home.

“I am happy, mom. My teeth no hurt. You are good, mom.”

Such a far-cry from this past fall when we’d tried this two other times. Even Valium couldn’t calm down his freaking out those times. It was bad. I can’t even explain how awful those trips were. Think worse-case scenario and you might get it.

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Abreham’s grandmother had told him that in America, our medicine is witchcraft. It’s voodoo. “No wonder he’s having a hard time trusting us!” Ben and I said to each other as a friend translated his fears, after one of the horrific times we tried the dentist this fall.

Trust. It’s huge. Especially for a child who’s been hurt time and time again.

But we’re getting there. He even hugged me today, saying thank you.

Hugs from him are like gold. They’re so very infrequent and incredibly cherished.

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“I like that doctor. Good man, mom. Good doctor. No hurt.”

Like our sweet Abreham who is learning to trust that his mom and dad love him and want the absolute best for him, how much more does our Heavenly Father love us and want the best for us?

Even if at times it’s scary and things hurt a little. Coming out on the other side, with trust in one arm and becoming better for the sake of experiences in the other, we know we are loved.

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2014-01-08_1646

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 Maybe I’ve been living in the dark ages, but have you heard of this magazine?!

It’s like Martha Stewart + Real Simple + Bible Study. It’s fantastic.

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 My best friend gushed about it a few months ago but I forgot about it until my mom gave me one for Christmas.

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Recipes and design tips…

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…and Bible Verses surrounded by beautiful photography.

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And most importantly, learning more about God’s Word and Missions throughout the world. People changing lives, impacting the Kingdom.

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Hope I brought a little more Faith + Beauty to your mailbox!

Life: Beautiful? Yes it is.

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Wow, we’ve had quite a year over here at the Anderson house.

From continuing to remodel our house and growing our blog, to bringing home 2 more kids from Ethiopia…. it’s been a busy one!

Here are some of the most ‘liked’ posts of the past year:

. . . . . . . .

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Why I Dress Up

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Meeting Abreham

. . . . . . . .

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Introducing Baby Elsabet

. . . . . . . .

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{surprisingly amazing} Gluten Free Quinoa Chocolate Cake

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Elsabet sleeping

Now That They’re Home

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God Must be Laughing

. . . . . . . .

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Salad in a Jar

. . . . . . . .

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A Week Home – Lots of Firsts

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Ezekiel – 2 Years Home

. . . . . . . .

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Studio Tour – Organization Tips with Lissy

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Happy New Year! May your 2014 be a blessed one!

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This morning Imani and I got to work on Jesus’ Birthday Cake.

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Four layer red velvet cake with crushed candy canes {yum!}.

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Every year I put something different on top. Sometimes sparklers, sometimes ribbon bunting, this year I thought I’d make my own printable banner.

{I printed mine onto cardstock}

printable banner

If you’d like to print your own, click here!

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Oh how I love decorating our Christmas table!

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Who says paper plates can’t be used for a fancy dinner? Silver chargers beneath add shine, depth and make them seem more substantial.

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After our candlelight church service, we came home for dinner.

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The past few years we’ve done fondue.

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They get so serious about it!

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Sweet Imani wanted to wear her Christmas apron over her dress so she didn’t get it dirty.

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How I love that little face!

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After dinner, we popped open the musical crackers I had placed next to each plate.

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Inside were crowns and pieces of a xylophone, each with a different tone.

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We each got to play Conductor, playing {well…”playing”} our Christmas carols together.

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After dinner, the kids opened the package holding their new jammies and the World Vision catalog.

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{after much deliberation, they decided upon gifting a family with a sheep}

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Abreham asked that we have Ethiopian food for Christmas Day’s dinner so he’ll be cooking most of the day tomorrow.

And after dinner is over, our Birthday Party with Jesus will begin!

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The cake is all ready!

{and so are we!!}

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We’re still waiting on our Christmas cards to arrive {how does paying for 2 day shipping turn into several weeks??}

Sigh. Oh well. I sure do love our card though!

Print

. . Merry Christmas!!! . .

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Ok first of all…full disclosure:

I got this from one of the blogs I follow {Going Home To Roost}. I thought it was so good that I wanted to share it with you!

one of the joys of christmas (for me, anyways) is wrapping gifts with pretty paper and lots of bows. as soon as christmas morning is over though, this turns into one giant heap of trash! here’s some information and several tips to help us all reduce the environmental damage of this paper intensive holiday.

did you know?

- gift wrap was founded by hallmark in 1917. it’s now a $2.6 billion industry each year!
- about half of the 85 million tons of paper products americans consume every year goes toward packaging, wrapping and decorating goods.
- wrapping paper and shopping bags alone account for about 4 million tons of trash annually in the u.s. alone.
- if every american family wrapped just three presents in reused materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.

tip: try to start by purchasing wrapping paper made from recycled materials. you can also skip the paper all together and reuse items from around the house. use fabric scraps, newspaper, maps, vintage sewing patterns, reusable shopping bags and more!

many centers and cities can recycle wrapping paper with no problem. call your local recycling center (or check their website) to see if they’re able to recycle it in your town. if your paper can’t be recycled (especially if it has glitter or metallic paper in it), consider reusing it! above is a little collection of ways to reuse wrapping paper that i gathered from this article. i especially love the idea of shredding it for use in gifts next year!

photo by brittni mehlhoff

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P.S. Bonnie also has a monthly membership full of inspiration {ideas, printables, recipes, illustrator tips, etc}. Click here to learn more!

{she also has options in gifting it!}

gift the roost tribe!

Merry {almost} Christmas!

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for the love of polka dot

Whether you’re needing a little gift for someone or something for yourself, these are some of my absolute favorites!

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I use this washi tape on everything from the envelopes for our Christmas cards to hanging up a photo when I can’t find a thumbtack.

The glassine sacks have also been used for tons of things, including wrapping teachers gifts {fold over the top and use a sticker or washi tape to hold closed!}.

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These paper straws are displayed {with more in red stripe} in an old jar in our kitchen.

The gold plate is a gift for a friend, though one in my office sure would be lovely.

The paper placemats are crazy cute. I’m starting to think about Elsabet‘s 1st birthday…perhaps I’ll use them for that! {inside are both a scrolly design as well as the polka dot}

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I bought several of these fun boxes at Homegoods.

I loved using it when wrapping a gift for one of the Angel Tree kids we’ve gotten gifts for {kinda wanting to keep the other!} this Christmas.

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And who doesn’t love a little polka dot confetti?!

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 . . are you as crazy about polka dot as I am?? . .

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gluten free stuffing

Our family isn’t 100% gluten free, by any means. But when I have the choice between one or the other, I often choose to go the GF route.

So, when I found this amazing recipe with some of our favorite veggies, I had to try it! It’s SO worth the extra time!!

. . here’s another favorite brussels sprouts recipe . .

gluten free stuffing with brussels sprouts, butternut squash, and apples

{heat oven to 400 degrees}

Toss the butternut squash, brussels sprouts, apples, and shallots in 2 Tablespoons oil and season well with salt and pepper. Roast until vegetables are very tender {I like my brussels sprouts a bit singed & blackened along the edges}. Remove from oven.

{reduce oven to 350 degrees}

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Heat one Tablespoon of oil in a large pot. Sautee the onion and celery for 5-8 minutes, until translucent.

Add the bread cubes with the veggies in the oil and allow them to get golden brown. Add a dash of salt and pepper.

gluten free stuffing with brussels sprouts, butternut squash, and apples

Add the roasted vegetables, vegetable broth, cranberries, pecans, and seasonings.

gluten free stuffing with brussels sprouts, butternut squash, and apples

Stir the mix till the broth has almost entirely absorbed in the toasted bread.

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gluten free stuffing with brussels sprouts, butternut squash, and apples

Transfer to a baking sheet and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.

Stuffing with brussels sprouts, butternut squash, & apples {gluten free}

Stuffing with brussels sprouts, butternut squash, & apples {gluten free}

Ingredients

  • 1 pound butternut squash, cubed
  • 1 pound brussels sprouts, halved
  • 1 medium gala apple, cut into a 1/2 inch dice
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided into 2 tbsp and 1 tbsp
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 10 slices bread of choice: crusty sourdough, dry cornbread, whole grain, or your favorite gluten free bread {which is what we used}. Prior to preparing the recipe, leave bread out for a day to become slightly dry, then cut into cubes.
  • 1 1/2 cup vegetable broth (plus extra as needed)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup pecans or walnuts
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Toss the squash, brussels sprouts, apples, and shallots in 2 tbsp oil and season well with salt and pepper.
  3. Roast till vegetables are very tender {I like my brussels sprouts a bit singed & blackened along the edges} and remove from oven.
  4. Reduce oven heat to 350.
  5. Heat other tbsp oil in a large pot.
  6. Sauté the onion and celery till translucent {about 5-8 min}.
  7. Add the bread cubes and allow them to get golden brown with the veggies in the oil.
  8. Add a dash of salt and pepper.
  9. Add the roasted vegetables, vegetable broth, cranberries, pecans, and seasonings.
  10. Stir the mix till the broth has almost entirely absorbed in the toasted bread.
  11. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.
  12. Serve hot. Enjoy!!
  13. {recipe originally found on www.food52.com}
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http://hugsandpunches.com/stuffing-brussels-sprouts-butternut-squash-apples-gluten-free/

gluten free stuffing with brussels sprouts, butternut squash, and apples

You’ll never do Stove Top again! xo

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Earlier this week I showed how we decorated our master bedroom for winter. So cozy!

Today, I thought I’d give a little tour of the rest of the house.

Enjoy!

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. . entry & living room . .

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tree

{our tree is full of ornaments from our wedding}

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{the little girl in the photo-on the right-is my grandmother. So precious}

. . family room . .

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This is what a big family looks like. good thing we have a big, loooong mantle!

{here’s the diy for our fireplace 1, 2 , 3}

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. . kitchen . .

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{want to see a before photo? before renovation!}

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. . dining room . .

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I found this plaid fabric at Goodwill the other day. It’s the perfect size for a table cloth. Gosh I sure love Goodwill. It’s ridiculous how much stuff I have around the house from there.

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. . anton & laith’s room . .

Here’s more of the boys’ room.

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Every year the kids ask for trees in their rooms.

So this year I searched all over town for the best priced ones. Surprisingly, Walmart is where I ended up. Anton and Laith got a “camping” tree with lots of animals and other outdoor themed ornaments.

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. . ezekiel & abreham’s room . .

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 This is the first time I’ve shown Ezekiel and Abreham’s room. I’ve been so stuck what to do with it since Imani & Ezekiel switched rooms last summer to accommodate two beds {for when Abreham came home}.

It’s still a bit of a work in progress, but I’m liking it more and more.

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The bunting is left over from our photo shoot a few months ago {1st photos as a family of 8}!

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 It was fun watching Abreham and Ezekiel trim their tree together. Good bonding, I hope!

They both love lots of color {E’s favorite color is pink!} so I brought in tons of bright hues for their Christmas tree.

. . imani’s room . .

Here’s more of Imani’s room.

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Merry {almost} Christmas! I can’t believe how soon it’ll be here!

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I absolutely and completely love Colorado in the winter. I love the season, I love the crisp temperatures, and most of all, I love the 300 days of sun and the way the newly fallen snow sparkles in it’s light.

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Our wedding was nearly 8 years ago and even then, the sparkle of snow was the source of inspiration for the entire wedding.

Ice blue, silver, snowy white, and anything sparkly or adorned with snowflakes.

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I think that’s why I smile every time I walk through our door.

Oh what an incredible day that was.

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All over the room, there are reminders of that day.

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Including this mirrored glass ornament. It’s seen better days, but just like our Christmas tree is filled with them now, this orb helped decorate the isle I walked down.

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Ok, enough about our wedding.

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These fun snowflakes {small & medium} are from Paper Source, one of my all-time favorites stores.

I simply tied them with thread, grabbed the stapler from my desk, and stapled the thread to the ceiling. Easy to put up, easy to get down and put away for next year.

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I draped two beautiful garlands above our headboard that I had purchased from the Pottery Barn Outlet years ago, adding two sizes of ball ornaments to it {clumping more in the center to create more interest}.

{here’s the tutorial for the glittered JOY above our bed}

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Facing our bed is our book page wall which houses our dresser and such.

Turning a painting backward, I found the perfect backdrop for a too-small mirror {I love the structure of the stretched canvas} and added items with lots of texture.

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I love birch trees {another throwback to our wedding} and have a drawer full of birch candles, grabbing them whenever I feel a space needs a little bit of the outdoors. They equal instant coziness.

I also love books {as you all WELL know} and silver that has tarnished a bit, giving it more character.

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This fantastic tree is from Ikea, the black clay pot from Target {clearanced after summer ended}.

This cardboard A from the craft store has worked it’s way around the entire house, currently ending up here cozied up to a large wooden spool of white velvet ribbon {from Home Goods} and plush grey wool yarn.

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The striped linen is actually a dishcloth from Ikea, the tray and candlesticks from Goodwill.

I placed two sticks of garland head-to-foot, securing them in the middle with sparkly silver washi tape.

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I love these faux antler shelves we found at West Elm about three years ago.

Right now they have a paper mâché deer head, which would be such a fun addition if you’re wanting to add white antlers to your space, too!

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I wish I’d taken this photo two days ago. Those trees outside were covered in fluffy white snow and ice.

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Every room needs a reading chair, even if ours doesn’t get used too often because our bed is so darn cozy. My sweet mom gave me the hand knitted sweater pillow, the other pillow was made my me.

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Nothing gets done these days without little ones underfoot. She tore apart one of my books from the bookcase as I tried capturing all these photos. Good thing she’s so cute.

Who can be mad at that face??

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Ben and I have been mapping out what to get the Crazies {aka our kids} for Christmas and decided we needed to change things up a little.

{as you know, for several years we’ve done the Four Gift Rule, I’ve also talked about it here}

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We decided that rather than giving them all “Something you Need”, we’d love make a memory with each of them and take them on a special date.

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We do our best to have one-on-one time with each of the kids at least once a month {Anton always wants to go to a restaurant with tablecloths. “One you have to be polite at,” he says}.

But having six kids, it’s sometimes hard…and I know they all crave individual time with us.

{we crave it, too!}

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And I’m so excited about it!

the revised four gift rule

{click here to download gift tags}

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Because Abreham is our budding artist and wants to see some galleries, we’ll take him downtown to the Art Walk.

Ezekiel, our sports fanatic will be thrilled to attend a Denver Outlaws {lacrosse} game.

Anton will be getting his eardrums blown out at the Monster Truck Rally.

Imani & Laith both get to be enchanted by Disney on Ice.

Baby Elsabet…well, next year she’ll get this one.

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what do you thinkIs it something you might do, too??

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