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Have you watched the Polar Express yet this year? It’s one of our absolute favorites.

Since it’s been so ridiculously cold {and snowy} these past few mornings, I thought it’d be fun for the kids to wake up to a hot, steaming cup of cocoa as they pad around in their jammies getting ready for school.

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It was unreal. UNREAL how good it was! Rich, creamy, and ridiculously good.

insanely decadent

{I’m sure there were about a million calories in each cup, but so completely worth it!!}

snowflake marshmallows

I added snowflake marshmallows from William Sonoma and let them melt a little {I see they’re sold out online. these also would be fantastic}, though I sure would love to try making some homemade ones soon.

Anyone have a good marshmallow recipe?? Do share!

polar express hot chocolate

Calories per serving: ummmm....probably about a million. But oh-so-worth

polar express hot chocolate

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups of heavy cream
  • 1 can of sweetened condensed milk (14 oz)
  • 2 cups of bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 6 cups of milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. In a large pot over low heat, combine all of the above ingredients.
  2. Stir regularly for 30-40 minutes until chocolate is fully melted and incorporated with other ingredients.
  3. If you’re making this for a party, you could add all of the above ingredients to a crockpot a few hours before guests arrive {just provide a ladle and mugs and let them serve themselves!}.

Notes

I initially tried this in the crockpot and had it cook overnight. Did NOT work. Could have been our high altitude here in Denver, I'm not sure {the boiling point is a lot lower here. so perhaps even low was too hot for that many hours?}.

Anyway, if you do use your crockpot for this recipe, only do it a few hours prior as recipe suggests!

{originally found on honeyandfitz.com}

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yum!!!

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Today is a big day for us.

Three years ago today, we got a phone call from our adoption agency, letting us know that the US Embassy was ready to meet with us so we could bring Imani home!!

{she was oh-so-sick and malnourished}

Our meeting was to be on Monday so we needed to fly out Saturday morning to make it in time {and that meant buying last-minute tickets to Africa on the busiest traveling weekend of the year. awesome}.

My sweet friend Brandi, who’s a Major in the Air Force sent out an email to all her commercial pilot friends {and anyone she could think of to help us get a flight so last minute that didn’t cost about a years salary. not really. but the fares were ridiculous!}.

God was looking out for us and provided Buddy Passes, but because of poor weather, engine issues, and flight cancellations, we were taken all over the US before finally flying to Dubai and on to Ethiopia.

I may have even raced, elbows out, off the plane blocking another gentleman who was also trying to run to the counter first, knowing there were only two seats on the one and only flight left to Chicago, which was the only one that would be able to get us to Dubai in time to catch our Ethiopia Air flight. Not my finest moment.

But I won.

Ben & I HAD to make that flight!!!

We barely made it in time for our appointment with the Embassy. {{phew!}} Talk about nerve wracking!!!

And she was ours to bring home.

{imani’s gotcha video}

What an emotional week that was. God is so good.

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Imani, we love you. You are amazing and goofy and sweet and spicy. We are so blessed to be your mommy & daddy!

You are our sweet angel.

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{or according to you, our “princes ballerina angel”}

We love you.

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christmas cards

I was online the other day looking around at Christmas cards. Oh goodness, where to start…there are so many cute ones!

I ended up on Etsy, thinking perhaps I just wanted to print some myself when I came across this card:

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Oh be still my heart, this girl has turned Africa into Joy. And there’s a heart over Ethiopia.

I need to know her. {and I need this card customized!!}

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As I scrolled through all the different cards in her shop, I fell deeper and deeper in love, knowing not only are these cards gorgeous, but Ashley has designed them specifically in hopes to use the money in helping bring their 2nd child home from Ethiopia.

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{I love all the African influence}

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Have you decided on you’re Christmas cards yet? These are just my favorites, Ashley has so many more options in her shop.

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The cards are completely customizable, whether it’s color, text or something else you’re seeing in your mind’s eye.

After she sends you the approved proof, you can have it printed at Costco, Shutterfly, or even your own home. Crazy easy.

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And truly, wouldn’t you love to know that you’ve helped a family bring this little boy, Solomon “N” into their home?! Just because you ordered a card through her?

{and maybe even spread the word about their fundraiser??}

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My heart aches knowing how hard the wait is! Such a precious family.

{excited to now know you, Ashley!!}

Rippke family

And can you believe their daughter is also named Elsa? So fun.

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Ashley also makes lots of other beautiful designs including name graphics and adoption or birth announcements.

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Would you like to know more about their story?

Check out their blog, Lifted From the Water {such an incredible name. taken from Exodus 2:10 – “The child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. And she named him Moses, and said, “Because I drew him out of the water.” }.

And definitely head over to her Etsy shop, by the same name: Lifted From the Water.

. . . . . . . .

Would you scroll down ’till you see the little Facebook icon?

Lets Share this link and get the word out about this sweet family & their adoption fundraiser! Lets help get Solomon home!!

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crockpot chicken noodle soup

Our weather here in Denver has finally {fiiiiiiinally} gotten cold.

In fact, it’s gotten REALLY cold.

chicken noodle soup

So yesterday morning when I saw it was only 13 degrees outside {and snowy}, I decided it was the perfect day for a bowl of chicken noodle soup…in the crockpot {aka the best invention ever}.

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I was going off a photo I’d saved from awhile back. Not sure where it was from, but there was no recipe. Bummer.

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So I improvised, crossed my fingers, and made my own.

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Thankfully, it ended up incredible. I think Abreham had 3 big bowls.

Simple. Quick prep. Delicious.

 

crockpot chicken noodle soup

crockpot chicken noodle soup

Ingredients

  • 5 chicken breasts {I used frozen and tossed 'em in after I made breakfast in the morning}
  • 3 containers of chicken stock {more or less depending on your crockpot size}
  • 1 package of fresh thyme, rosemary, & sage
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cups sliced carrots
  • 2 cups sliced celery
  • 1 package noodles {I used egg noodles}
  • salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Cut carrots, celery, and onion and place into crockpot along with the rest of the ingredients, minus the noodles.
  2. Cook on Low for 6-8 hours.
  3. Approximately 1 hour before serving, shred chicken and add noodles.
  4. Remove the big branches of herbs, serve and enjoy!
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…perfect for a cold day.

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You’ve all seen our dining room and how I have it decorated for fall when I posted my Falling for Fall Home Tour. It’s pretty for every day, but those of you who know me, know that one of my favorite things in the world is to throw a party.

Well, really decorating for the party is the part I love. The rest is often stressful.

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Anyway, I have NO idea what I’m going to do in switching it up for Thanksgiving Day. We don’t have family in town, so we just invite friends over who also don’t have family in town. Often we invite folks from the military or others “orphan” acquaintances. We hate for someone to not have somewhere to go on this special holiday. We just kinda like to love on people. And God knows we love orphans, haha.

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Perhaps some of you were still trying to figure it out, too. So I thought perhaps I’d share some of my Pinterest faves with you!

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{free printable . source}

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I’m not one to skip over Thanksgiving and jump right into Christmas but if you’re like me, you’re already getting started on Christmas shopping so you can hope to be {close to} done before all the insanity and long lines begin.

Plus, our World Vision catalog came in the mail this week.

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Do you remember my post last year on How We Do Christmas?

It’s different than most families and Ben and I feel very strongly about keeping the focus on Christ, rather than all the gifts.

So…{in addition to stockings} we do four per kid. That’s it. And they’re very specific.

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One thing that I really love about doing it this way is that Ben and I are forced to put a ton of thought into each child, and each gift.

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I can’t just see something while in Target and think, “Oh Ezekiel would probably like that!” Because is that what he wants above anything else? Am I totally and completely sure that’s what he’d want for his “Want”?

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It helps us pay more attention to their likes, their interests, and who these little guys are at this stage in life.

And away from all the excess.

world vision catalog

Another of our Christmas traditions circles around giving to others. One way the kids get excited about this is through the World Vision catalog that I mentioned receiving this week.

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Every page is filled with the possibility of enriching a family’s life in a third world country.

You have the opportunity to purchase animals, fruit trees, honeybees, or even fishing lessons that will not only better an individual, but will likely change an entire community.

We’ve done this for a few years {we also do it every birthday} and generally, our children decide on a goat because Ezekiel had one when he lived in Ethiopia. He often tells us how important that little animal’s milk was for them…both for he and his sister, as well as using it as an additional source of  income for his widowed mother.

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Our children obviously love the idea of giving an animal or soccer balls for a school…but there are other opportunities that grip my heart even further.

Care for widows and orphans, safety for a formerly exploited child, or building a ger for a family who lives in 50 degree BELOW zero temperatures {in Mongolia}. It’s so easy to forget all the need around us – both here in our own backyard, as well as abroad.

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We hope our kids understand what Christmas is truly about, as well as seeing how much they can do for others…even before they’re grown.

Because if you can change the children, you can change the world.

. . want to read even more of our Christmas traditions? {click here} . .

/// UPDATE! ///

This year we’ve revised the four gift rule. Rather than “Something you Need” what about “Something you DO!” Make a memory together instead!!! {FREE printable gift tags} click here.

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I love Pandora. I love it for so many reasons but one of them being I’m introduced to new {to me} artists all the time.

Lindsey Stirling

One that I’ve found recently is Lindsey Stirling, a crazy cute mid-20′s violinist who’s a hip hop violinist.

A whaaat? I know, right? Love it.

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As an American violinist, classically trained dancer, performance artist, and composer, in 2010 she was was a quarter-finalist on America’s Got Talent season five, and is aaallllllll over YouTube with her fun and vibrant music videos.

{In fact, ”Crystallize” finished as the eighth-most most watched video of 2012…this is the song that Pandora kept playing on my favorite station and first introduced me to her. I just want to close my eyes as I listen to it. You?}

She’s amazingly talented and opening the eyes and ears to a younger generation to fall in love with the violin {which I’ve always adored}.

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When I was Googling around about her, I found this video of her playing in Kenya {and introducing a tribe to the violin for the first time}.

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Check it out!

{if video doesn’t display correctly, click here
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Do you ever feel like God is trying to tell you something? Like REALLY tell you, but you keep ignoring it hoping it goes away {but it’s God so of course it never does}?

That’s me lately. A few weeks ago in Bible Study we were learning about “False Selves.” Do you know what that is?

You know, like…

peggy perfectionist

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Before I go any further, I have to kind of laugh because my mom’s name is Peggy and she is one {and not so surprisingly, so am I}. And mom, I totally didn’t make up the Peggy Perfectionist thing. I promise it was listed in my workbook!

Lets go back to the False Self part for a minute in case you still don’t totally get what that is. Basically, it’s an illusion of who you think you are. Or who you think you should be.

It’s “a mask, a collage even, or how we desire to be seen and responded to in our lives. Simply put, the false self is a lie about our real personhood, an image we dedicate ourselves to grooming for public display… One problem with recognizing the illusion of the false self is that if feels real.” {1}

I was still mulling over this when my folks came to visit a week or two later. I don’t remember how it came up, but my mom showed me a book she’s been reading and using as her Bible study.

{I quoted her recently in my post weary, worn, & remaining.}

confessions of a raging perfectionist

{confessions of a raging perfectionist}

As soon as my sweet mom showed it to me, I knew I desperately needed it {yes, I judged it by it’s cover}.

To be quite honest, I didn’t know anything else about the book other than the title. I didn’t know Amanda was married, or a mom, or an ADOPTIVE mom, either.

I didn’t know that so much of it would hit straight at my heart, nor did I realize that every page would end up looking a little like this…

confessions of a raging perfectionist

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I don’t even know where to start on all I’ve learned. All I’ve been convicted of.

One of the biggest though was wanting to be known.

I love this part…

I want to be known

Ohmygosh, seriously? YES! So me!

confessions of a raging perfectionist

And so my next page looked like this.

Ok God, you’re totally using this Amanda girl to speak to me. Keep it coming, it’s starting to hurt seeing myself through Your eyes…but lets do this.

On and on, through the chapters of planning, pride, relationships, and happiness, God has continued to peel me like an onion. Reveling more and more of what’s inside {eyes watering all the way}.

Through this raw, real, and honestly written book, the Lord is pouring in His love and His wisdom. He has actually helped me see some things He’s been asking me to do for awhile. A looooong while, I just have chosen to ignore it.

Amongst other things, I’m learning that part of me being a perfectionist is the desire to control the chaos around me. With 6 kids, there is DEFINITELY a lot of that. But somehow I need to find a healthy balance between perfection for the sake of looking perfect…and being put together enough to keep away the chaos that will otherwise consume me. Does that make sense?

Lord, help me figure out how to balance it.

So what about you? Are you needing a wakeup call? Is the Lord asking YOU to look deep within to rid yourself of the “False You” that is lurking inside?

Super excited to see where He’ll take me in all this.

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the false self

In scripture we know the False Self by other names: sinful self, old self, natural man. The False Self is the result of our propensity toward making bad choices. {3}

Want to learn more?

. Colossions 3:5-7 . Galatians 5:16-26 . Romans 8:1-17 . Ephesians 5:1-20 .

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{1} Hougen, Transformed into Fire, 62-63

{2} Jenkins, Confessions of a Raging Perfectionist, 25

{3} Buschart, Vine Vision & Voice, Who Am I – Lesson 2

sources

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There are so many fun accessories in Imani’s room.  Sorry to say though that it’s mostly just things I’ve acquired through the years. That Big Ben clock for example, was on my desk in my first apartment. And lets just say that was a looooong time ago.

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The yellow frames were simply inexpensive poster frames from Hobby Lobby. I not only spray painted them yellow, but the entire backing as well, since my vintage inspired paper was not a typical size.

| frames . . hobby lobby | vintage inspired posters . . paper source 1, 2 |

acessories

| apothocary jar . . walmart | faux plant & planter . . ikea {couldn’t find plant online} |

The runner is from Target, a few summers back. Almost everything else atop the dresser is from Goodwill and antique stores.

blocks

| flower . . diy tutorial here |

knobs

| dresser . . ikea | flower drawer pulls . . anthropology {similar} |

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| chevron ores . . Homegoods | paper lanterns . . z gallerie {no longer online. these are similar} | poufs . . prost to the host |

pillows

| bed . . ikea {we painted it yellow} | pillows . . target |

blanket

| chevron throw . . homegoods |

bookcase

| book shelf . . homegoods |

drapes

| polkadot sheers . . amazon | yellow curtains . . target |

canvas

| gold circle stickers . . office depot | map . . paper source |

wall paint

| wall paint color . . elephant pink |

“If you’re not getting a lot of sunlight, you need to create warmth. Pink is what you want. It’s beautiful and flattering to any skin tone. But even if you go through every single paint book, there’s not a pink you can use, because they all look like bubble gum on the walls. So here’s the lowdown: Buy Elephant Pink and White, mix them half and half, and you’re set. It’s the perfectly balanced pale pink.” -William Diamond, House Beautiful

{we did cut it with some white but it was maybe 1/8 not 1/2}

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questions

 

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