Sasha & I made Syrniki this morning for breakfast! Syrniki are Ukrainian pancakes made from Farmers Cheese. I didn’t have time to pick up real Farmers Cheese, so I used cottage cheese as a substitute. Next time I make these, I’m going to stop in at Marina’s European Food Market and pick up some real Slavic Farmers Cheese.
In case you don’t know us personally, I am Ukrainian & my husband is from Russia. I was lucky enough to grow up learning some of the Ukrainian/Eastern European culture from my dad & his family (his sister, Mary, & her polish husband, Vince, both who are sadly no longer with us.) I loved going to their family parties! Learning the traditions, hearing the language… I loved their accents. I’d ask them to speak to me in Ukrainian, and in Ukrainian they would say, “why should I speak it if you can’t understand it?” I just thought that was the coolest thing ever. I learned a few words growing up, but never the language.
Ever since I was little, I knew I wanted to marry an Eastern European man. I gave all of my children a Ukrainian (or Russian) middle name to honor our heritage: Kaden Yuri (after my dad) 💙, Ella Aleksandriya 💗, Mia Nataliya (after Niko’s birth mother) 💗, Sasha Katiya 💗, Athena Mariyah (after my dad’s sister & my mom, both Mary… *side note: it isn’t supposed to have an “h” at the end. I’m still mad at myself for agreeing to putting that) 💗, & Moses Kolya (after Niko) 💙.
Since the invasion, I have decided to go “full Ukrainian.” I’ve taught myself how to read & write their alphabet confidently. I can now speak Ukrainian at an elementary level. I am teaching my children as I learn so we can be fluent at home. My husband has tried teaching me Russian over the years (which is very similar to Ukrainian), and I’ve tried Rosetta Stone in the past so it wasn’t totally unfamiliar to me, but this time it just clicked- almost like it was unlocked from my DNA bank. I finally would be able to not only understand what they were saying to me, but respond too. I’m so proud of myself.
In addition to all of that, I am learning how to cook Ukrainian foods so that I will be able to pass recipes down to my children to continue embracing our culture for generations to come.
Today we made Syrniki & it turned out REALLY yummy so I decided to share it here.
Gather your ingredients.
2 16oz containers cottage cheese (farmers cheese if possible)
1 cup flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
I have a large family & wanted to make sure that I had extra to send to my parents to try. If you have a small family; cut this in half, or make & use for breakfast prep/freezer breakfast meal for later.
Sasha hard at work mixing everything together in a big bowl.
Meanwhile, pour some oil of your choice on a skillet on the stove and let it heat up.
Wash your hands again. Leave them a little wet, but not dripping. Grab a smallish size amount of cheese mixture and form into a patty & place on stove. Wet hands again & repeat one by one. You’ll want to fry them until they are golden brown. DO NOT move them until you see the crust forming on the bottom & the top looks flat like pancake batter, no longer like cottage cheese (the cottage cheese will slop all over the pan if you flip too soon). Flipping is more difficult than with American pancakes.
Once both sides are golden brown, transfer to a place &…
I served these with peaches. I had planned on making cream to go with them as well, but got too overwhelmed with the flipping that I decided peaches were enough. Next time I will definitely make the cream ahead of time because it would be a very nice treat to go with them.
Now that I made them and know what to expect, I will feel more confident making them from here on out. I am excited to try them with various toppings, especially other fruits & jams. They are more savory than sweet, so the fruits bring a natural sweetness to them. They are really, really good though- the kids even said they were delicious!
We went with Grandma Colleen to lunch today at Panera (I had a pick 2: Mediterranian Veggie Sandwich + Strawberry Poppyseed Salad without chicken… SO yum! The girls both had mac & cheese + strawberry yogurt) then took Sasha + Athena to get their hairs cut for summer!
We wanted to break the girls up by the big & little so it wouldn’t be as overwhelming for anyone which was a really good idea.
They look so cute & behaved so well today. I was so proud of them!!
I can’t believe it was Moses’ birthday yesterday!! A whole year has passed since he was born. He’s my best friend. My little dude. My Mosie Wosie. We have a special connection that no one else can understand, but I’ll try to explain it to you ❤
This photo was taken the day before he was born. I was so excited to meet my baby. We waited until birth to find out the gender.
Towards the end of the day I began feeling extremely nervous. More nervous than with any of my others babies births. A different nervous, like something was wrong. Maybe it was the fact that I didn’t know the gender, or maybe it was because I was using a different doctor & hospital this time because of financial reasons. Whatever it was, my intuition is strong.
I woke up still nervous as can be. A total anxious wreck. More nervous than excited. My father in law asked if I was normally this nervous. I said, “no. Not at all.” We headed to the hospital.
Before surgery, I had a terrible feeling. During prep, I had to have my spinal done twice because the first one wasn’t done correctly. This time I felt a “pop” that I’ve never felt before in any previous c-section. I remember hoping I wasn’t paralyzed when this was all over.
During the surgery, everything seemed to be going fine. They let me know I would feel pressure, and my husband said “it’s a boy!” The look on his face was all worth the wait. That was one of my favorite memories of seeing Niko.
They didn’t let me hold him right away. That was weird. It didn’t hit me that something was wrong yet. I asked to hold him. Niko handed him to me and took this photo of us. I began feeling really weak. I was pouring sweat. I told Niko he needed to hold him. I began feeling scared. This didn’t feel right. I asked Niko to hold my hand. I felt like I maybe wasn’t going to make it through this time.
I was told the doctor sliced my bladder and another team was on their way for a bladder surgery. I don’t remember much else until we got back to the room. My brain isn’t ready to remember yet.
The doctor told us we were not allowed to have any more babies because my uterus & bladder are now fused together. I was told I would need to wear a catheter for at least 2.5 weeks, possibly indefinitely- just depends on how well my body heals.
After an extremely traumatic birth experience, we made it through- alive & together. He was perfect.
Because of the birth trauma, nursing was difficult for us in the beginning. Everyone around me was trying to push me to give in to the formula, but I dug in my heels. There was NO was I was going to sacrifice nursing my baby.
My husband had to be home with the girls, so I was alone most of the day + night in the hospital- that was really hard for me. Like really hard. I held a grudge about that for a long time and every now and then those hurt feelings still pop up.
My mom came as often as she could to try to keep me in good spirits and fed. Normally I love me some good hospital cuisine room service, but I’d rate this cafeteria 1 star at best.
While I was alone in my room, my emotions hit me. I was in total shock over what happened. I felt betrayed being left alone, especially so quickly, after what happened. I felt grief and loss over the fact I was told I couldn’t carry anymore children, that was not our plan at all and that decision was taken from me. I felt anger for that. I felt worried that my sadness would affect my bonding with my son. I felt guilty for being upset. I was unsure of what the outcome of this injury would be. I was worried about what our financial situation would look like since Niko had to take off work to be our primary caregiver. I was a total mess of emotions
I was stuck inside a shitty hospital, with a shitty view, and had no idea what the future was about to bring so I cried. And while I was crying a nurse walked in. She did she said nothing. She did her business then left. Then returned with a piece of paper, maybe it was a packet, and told me she needed me to fill it out. It was scale to find out if I had post-partum depression.
I didn’t have post partum depression. I had birth trauma, natural emotions, and was totally out of control of my own body & health. I had a life changing situation occur
Once we came home, I began feeling better. I don’t do so well in hospitals. Never have. Usually I’m up walking around as soon as I return to my room and beg the doctors to let me leave until the minute my discharge papers are in my hand.
I was pretty immobile with the catheter. When I laid down, all of the urine pooled until I stood up. I’d have to stand at the top of the stairs while my husband walked the bag down it to get it to fully drain. Turns out, it was put in incorrectly and wasn’t properly draining. I learned this while checking to see if my bladder healed. They strapped me to this metal table horizontally, but they had to turn the table up vertically to get it to drain at all. I’m lucky I didn’t get a serious infection.
For the first several months after I was still moving much slower than normal, but I was loving every second of getting to know Moses. We have been inseparable since his birth.
He is a total Mama’s Boy & I couldn’t be happier about it. Since he’s our baby, I try to appreciate the moments more. I try to not complain when he needs more of me than I have to give. I will carry him as long as he’ll let me. I will nurse him as long as he wants. He’s my baby & I won’t rush these precious last moments.
He’s my second chance at being a boy mom. I messed up my first time so badly & was “robbed” of my boy mom experience by my relapse after his c-section. I missed so many important parts of his life while I struggled to get sober. I so desperately wanted a second chance.
I got my second chance & this time I won’t mess it up. I was convinced for so long that God wasn’t going to let me have another chance with a son as “punishment” for not taking better care of my first. I was given another chance in exchange for my ability to have anymore children. He was well worth it.
[*Just to clarify- I do not see my girls as a punishment at all. I love them each to death, they are amazing & have taught me so much about sisterhood both at home and the broader sense of the word. They are each a piece of me and a necessary part of my life lessons, some I’m learning now & others I’ll continue to learn along the way.]
He has the sweetest heart & knows just how to melt yours. He’s a total cuddle bug. He loves music & dancing to it. He’s picky about food, but when he really likes something he makes it know with a loud “mmm” and a smack on the highchair. He’s shy around new friends, but once he opens up he has such a fun personality. We can’t go anywhere without someone stopping to comment on how beautiful of a boy he is. On two totally separate occasions, an elderly woman has walked up to him just to tell him he makes the world a better place. That can’t be coincidence.
He still nurses regularly throughout the day and at least once at night. He’s in 2T clothing already and around 25 pounds.
He has 8 teeth. 4 on top, 4 on the bottom. He’s cruising along, but not yet walking on his own. He’s starting to say a few words. He now says “stop” when his sisters are bothering him too hard. It comes out more as “op,” but it’s clear he knows what he means. He also now says “up” when he wants to be held.
We had a really nice simple birthday celebration for him last night We ordered Larosa’s Pizza and shared cake & ice cream. He “opened” his presents and played. His real celebration will be this weekend.
I am so very grateful for Moses and this past year. He has brought us so much joy, gratitude, and so much love. He has so much love just flowing from his tiny little body. His aura is absolutely hypnotizing.
I am excited to see who he becomes as he grows. I will continue to take these moments all in and not take any of them for granted. Before I know it, these days will be a distant memory that I miss terribly, no matter how hard it gets sometimes.
We love you so much Mosie ❤ You truly do make the world a better place because of you.
Happy Monday!! It started out a sort of overcast morning over here on this day so I’m catching up on housework. I have a sort of “unwritten rule” that dreary/overcast days are for housework and sunny days are for yardwork because I don’t want to miss any time with the sun.
We had a really great Sunday Family Day yesterday. The sun was shining, the kids were playing. We skipped church since the kids have some yucky cold symptoms going on and just hung out at home together.
My gardens have come along so much this week! There’s still tons to be done though! I’d like to get mulch down this week before the crazy amount of weeds return!
I filled my basket planter with these adorable trailing white flowers that will hang down under my Ukrainian flag. I’m really excited to see how far they grow!
I weeded & mulched this small garden bed this week. I used 2 bags and will still need to add at least one more bag here. This space was very low down compared to the grass around it and since it had probably never been mulched before I really want to get a good few layers on so the weeds don’t come back as heavy next year.
We brought our grill back out and bought a few needed grill tools for it.
Niko made hot dogs, vegetarian hot dogs, and the most delicious corn on the cob. I heated up the vegetarian baked beans & brought out watermelon, chips, and potato salad.
I planted this clematis in this planter. I’m so excited for the vines to take on a life of its own on this along the tower’s shapes. It’s going to be so beautiful especially when it has more purple flowers growing up it.
My ranunculus flowers are blooming and they are SO beautiful! One day I will have a much larger container filled with these beauties, but I’m SO happy with my start.
It has been so hot out lately & summer break is coming up so I decided it would be fun to get this inflatable pool for the kids to use this summer. It’s a lot of fun and the kids had a blast playing in it all day long.
Anyone have any tips on how to keep an inflatable pool clean all season? They always seem to get so gross after the first use.
I spoke with my neighbor last night and she gave me the compliment that my back yard is very pleasant to look at. That made me really happy. My hard work is making a difference for not only my own family but for my neighbors as well!!
It is my goal that while we are living in this home in Deer Park, someone nominates us for a Beautification Award. Her compliment made me really hopeful that could actually come true one day! I’ll just have to keep beautifying it for now.
Happy Monday! I know I’m the odd man out here, but I LOVE Mondays! Especially if the weather is as beautiful as it was today.
Monday is the start of a brand new week. A fresh slate. Getting back to my 4:30-5 am routine that I honestly enjoy. I’ve recently given myself permission to sleep in on the weekends which really helps restore my soul more than I knew I needed.
Anyway, not everyone shares my enthusiasm for Mondays. So I wanted to share my very favorite Vegetable Pot Pie recipe with you in case you need a super mindless (& meatless) meal to make.
You will need:
1 box of store-bought pie crust (2 included), thawed to room-temp
2 (10.5 oz) cans of Cream of Potato Soup
3 bags of Frozen Mixed Vegetables, heated
1/2 cup milk
Salt, pepper, & thyme to your liking
First, preheat your oven to 375°
In a large bowl mix together 2 10.5 oz cans of Cream of Potato soup, 3 bags of Frozen Mixed Vegetables (I heat before adding to mixture), a half cup of milk, salt & pepper to your liking, throw some thyme in that bowl, and mix it all up.
Put 1 thawed-out, store-bought pie crust in your pie pan (you’re welcome to make your own if you want, but we’re going for mindless over here). Slowly scoop in your mixture until it’s all in there nice.
Place your second pie crust right on top and squish it around gently until it looks pretty. Add a fun design or letter (I like to do M for our last name) if you want, or just a slit works too. Beat an egg, brush it on top and pop that in the oven for 45 minutes.
When it comes out, let it cool for a few minutes. Cut into slices, dish it out, & enjoy.
There ya go! A super, duper easy and affordable weeknight meal that is both kid & meat-eating husband approved. You can add cheese or other spices if you want as well. It’s also a meal that is easy enough for older children to learn how to make on their own!
Helpful tip: use the cooking time for homework or chores. Try to get as much of your to-do list crossed off before the timer goes off. The more you can get accomplished before dinner, the less you’ll be left with at the end of the night.
What is your favorite mindless meal 🍽 to make on the weeknights?
I began my basement project a few years ago before I became pregnant with Athena. I had big plans in mind, but a seriously rough pregnancy left me to abandon this project until a later time, then another pregnancy + baby pushed it back even longer. The time has finally come to finish what I started!
Since this is such a BIG project, I am going to be splitting this up into 2 parts: 1. The kids area, this post, & 2. The “adult” area (laundry, entertainment/electronics area, & tool/cellar).
In the Imaginative Play area we have a grocery store/deli, doctor/wellness center, a mini roll top desk to play school, as well as the kids toy storage.
There is a chalkboard wall with a bulletin board on top for both school & “daily specials” at the deli.
This little stand is so cute and can be used for many Imaginative Play purposes. It is currently being used as a deli + coffee shop. They have their Melissa & Doug Sandwich Shop + their wooden utensils on top, and their Melissa & Doug coffee maker set on bottom.
I am a huge lover & collector of reusable bags. I buy new ones constantly! Having miniature size ones for the grocery shop makes my heart SO happy!
Their little roll top desk with the miniature globe is SO cute. They love to play school with it.
Under the stairs is their “parking garage” for rideable things like scooters and ride-on cars. I do plan to change this space in the near future though.
Having so many little kids, it has been really nice to be able to have a space for them to play and be kids and not worry about them making messes. That alone has helped me SO much as an overly-stimulated and stressed out Mama. Kids need to be kids, and this is their home too. They need a place they are able to express themselves freely and I hope that this space is able to be that place for them.
The first time I went to rehab, I went to Timberline Knolls in Lemont, Illinois. It had the most beautiful art studio with tables stained in paint and clay residue, colors and Empowering messages everywhere, and so many supplies.
Ever since then it has been a dream of mine to have my own art studio, but never really saw it as super realistic.
I recently spoke with a friend, who, ironically, I met at Timberline Knolls. I’ve always envied her life. She’s built her own little plot of homestead paradise in the middle of no where and spends her time homesteading and crafting and doing things her, her husband, and children love to do. That is literally my dream life.
Anyway, she made me realize that life is what you make it. I need to stop waiting for better, for more space, for my children to get a little bigger. I need to stop waiting, and start building my happy place now with what I have. So I began building an “art studio.”
First, I set our old dining room table up in the soon to be art studio, then added this Trofast Storage Unit from IKEA for art supply storage. I used this rolling cart that I already had to organize more supplies like paintbrushes, glue, washi tapes, etc.
I added this paper sorter from Michael’s to color code their construction paper. Not only does color-coding items look beautiful, it helps cut down on mess because the kids can visibly see what they are working with instead of fumbling around for what they need.
I repurposed produce bins to color code their crayons in the middle of the table. It looks super cute and it helps teach my kiddos to put their supplies back where they belong.
Color coding is an easy way to help teach toddlers how to organize + learn their colors at the same time.
I began hanging these colorful banners to make it look fun and inspire creativity.
I also began picking up a few functional decor pieces that I was very excited to use in this space.
Next, we removed the old, random, oddly-placed cabinet. We found out why said cabinet was randomly & oddly placed. There was a MASSIVE crack/wall damage hiding behind it. We got cement filler, patched the damage and waited 24 hours.
After the 24 hour wait, we began hanging the pegboard. I had purchased + planned to hang 4, but I ended up deciding 3 was plenty to start. I bought a few accessories with the pegboard, but wanted to wait to go crazy with accessory shopping until I had a clear idea of how I was planning to arrange it to go back and purchase more.
My dad & his friend updated the electricity + added lights above the table & outlets in the middle to be able to use electronic tools. I cannot wait to add things like pottery wheels in the future now that I have this outlet.
Using my Cricut, I added labels to the bins so that we are easily able to find the items that we need.
We moved the desk over here so they could play “Art Teacher.”
I am absolutely obsessed with it and the way that it turned out. I now have my very own art studio, filled with colors and paint stains and all kinds of materials for us to choose from. I am so in love with it and still in such awe every time I walk downstairs and think how is this mine?!
Baby + Soft Play Area
It’s a lot of work to try to keep babies & toddlers entertained for a long time, especially on days we are stuck inside.
This fun little climber tent was a birthday gift to Sasha. One side has a climbing wall, the other has a window.
The Nugget was a MUST for this area. We are OBSESSED with our Nugget. I got The Very Hungry Caterpiller print because it’s one of our favorite books & the print was just beautiful. It is SO soft and comfy too!
I have a lot of Primary colors in the baby area. I added lots of cushions, padding, & floor mats to encourage crawling + be able to roll around freely. The Lego storage blocks hold other toys so that we are able to rotate the toys that are out for open play.
We added a little library against this wall with the baby/younger children’s books.
I added these fun flower lights above this area. It’s somehow both a fun vibe and a calming one in one.
Well, that’s where I’m at in this stage of my basement makeover! I hope you got some inspiration for your own basement/family/play room.
I still have many plans to come in the future and just like with every space, it is forever evolving. Make sure to check back for part two to see how I did the “adult” areas!
When I had a really bad mental breakdown in 2018, I did the (now-trending) Swedish Death Clean. Basically, you do an extreme declutter so that in the event of your death your loved ones aren’t left with the burden of doing it for you. I cleared out about 75% of ALL our belongings and I felt AMAZING. I haven’t missed a single thing since doing it, I developed new values and ways of looking at life, and was reminded once again that material items are absolutely worthless at the end of your life and just create chaos around you while you still have the chance to live it.
Anyway, while I went with an entire neutral/minimalist approach to my entire home, I wanted my girls room to be full of bright colors and happiness. The room I could fill the walls with their favorite things and cool treasures we find along the way, create art, inspire play, provide a safe and comfortable space, and make them happy. I didn’t want to take the colors out of their world.
Fitting 4 girls into one room has certainly been a process. It didn’t happen overnight. It happened piece by piece, over years of time. I am finally seeing the big picture come together. It’s going to be a room that continues to evolve over time, but I’m really in love with how it is at this moment in time & the girls are as well.
Welcome, come on in!
Double bunk beds are a MUST to fit all of the girls. The older girls (Ella & Mia) are on the top, while the younger girls (Sasha & Athena) are on the bottom bunks. Both bottom bunks touch the ground so we don’t have to worry about toddlers rolling out of their beds.
Ella & Sasha’s bunks have stairs. I added rainbow decals going up their stairs. I also really love the vintage 60s curtains that I found for their room.
Their bunk has 3 small shelves in the stairs. I am still trying to figure out what to do in that space.
Ella is on top & Sasha is on the bottom.
Ella has this cute shelf to keep her things. I thought it was the absolute perfect one because it matched with their other furniture and has a space for her books & controllers.
I LOVE these lights on Ella’s bed, but when they got the rainbow light for Christmas they had to choose one or the other for the outlet. I put them aside for now until I can figure out another solution.
My mom got all of the girls each their own blanket with their name on it. Ella’s blanket says “Be-You-Tiful Ella” and she has a fun color E pillow also. I love adding personalization where I can without being over the top.
Sasha’s blanket has a cute little unicorn with her name & other little doodles.
In between their beds they have their TV. In order to earn their remotes, they have to have their chores finished first.
Sasha got this rug for Christmas to play with her hot wheels and wooden vehicles. They love driving their cars all around the town making up stories and being different characters for each place.
Mia & Athena’s bed has a ladder instead of stairs. Mia is on top, Athena is on the bottom.
Mia has her own shelf like Ella’s to keep her things. Her blanket is all of her favorite colors with her name in different fonts.
Athena’s blanket is SO beautiful. It is flowers and her name in a pretty pink font.
This bunk has 4 drawers. The top is Sasha + Athena undies & socks. The bottom 3 are Sasha’s shirts, pants, and pajamas. It also has 3 shelves which I added cute cube baskets that have Athena’s shirts, pants, and pajamas.
A lot of girls equals a lot of shoes! I’ve actually had this since I was a kid at my parents house and now I passed it down to my own girls. One of the slots broke so I turned it into a boot slot instead.
Above their shoes is a space for them to hang up their artwork. We are not a family that keeps every piece of art or else our entire home would be overflowing with mountains of crafts. This gives them a space to hang their favorites for a bit, then change them out when they have a new favorite.
I painted their closet door the colors of the rainbow and added this “Choose Kindness” sign. I love their peace sign light above it.
I love how their crayon piggy bank looks next to the rainbow painted closet.
I have the inside of their closet divided by this shoe hanger. Ella & Mia both get 3 slots. Mia’s dresses & jackets are on the left, Ella’s dresses & jackets are on the right.
On the shelves I keep Ella & Mia’s sports cases. I got them each a suitcase to both store & roll their sports gear themselves so that I am not stuck carting everything around myself while also wearing a baby and carrying my own items. Whatever sport is currently being played gets their case on the lower shelf while the off season sport case goes up top. It helps to keep all of their gear together in one place and away from the toddlers who love to get into all their big sisters things.
On the bottom is another shoe rack with boots & rainboots.
I added these adorable mirror butterflies that I found at the thrift store up their wall on this small space.
The girls hang their bows on this adorable unicorn bow holder. I really fell in love with bows during cheer season and want to begin collecting bows for the girls. I got some holiday related ones this year that I put into the holiday bin until that season is upon us again.
This unit from Ikea is EVERYTHING. As you can see, their closet is extremely small. This unit is completely build-able piece by piece. You can work it so many ways to be able to suit your own needs at a very affordable price.
The top left corner is Sasha + Athena’s dresses and jackets. The left drawers are Mia’s shirts, pants, & pajamas. The top right corner is Mia + Ella’s sweatshirts and 3 baskets filled with their headbands, scrunchies, and various accessories like sunglasses. The top right side drawer is Ella + Mia’s undies & socks, the three lower are Ella’s shirts, pants, & pajamas. The roll-out drawer are Athena’s shoes/boots.
I added 4 matching baskets from Target on top. 1st: Sasha + Athena’s sweatshirts. 2nd: Swimsuits. 3rd: Holiday outfits/accessories. 4th: Purses
I love this little corner of their room. My first car was a VW Bug and my dream vehicle is a VW Bus. They are definite musts in a Hippie themed room.
I added a fake Eucalyptus plant in the back that I will sometimes add a few drops of Eucalyptus oil to the jar to add a natural scent to it.
Their Snowy the Owl diffuser is another MUST. It is kid-friendly, easy to use, changes colors, and has a sound machine.
I added a 3 cube shelf in the corner which I’m not crazy about, but it’s working for now. I added 3 baskets to it to store daily hats, winter hats, and other various accessories.
On top of the cube shelf is Ella’s jewelry box that she got for Christmas. It really looks cute in that space, although I will be changing this corner out soon enough because like I said, this is an ever-evolving room.
I hope you enjoyed my girls hippie room and found some inspiration for your own shared girls room! I will make sure to update with any new changes so don’t forget to subscribe!! 🙂
I’m a little late getting this post up, but I’ve been working around the clock making Christmas happen while taking care of a whole house of sick kiddos. After a week back at school, I’m finally finding my motivation again.
I used to be Team Halloween all the way growing up, but after having so many kids, I have to say: I think that Christmas may officially be my favorite holiday.
I love turning my home into a magical wintery Wonderland for the kids. I now dream of adding more and more to my collection over the years until my entire home is transformed for the holiday. I even considered getting rid of my other holiday decor (yes, even Halloween 😱) just to make more room for more Christmas decor storage! Maybe I’ll just go the Nightmare Before Christmas route and just live half way between the pumpkin door tree and Christmas tree door tree and be forever happy.
When you first pull up, this bow is the first thing you see on our lamp-post.
I wrapped a cute red, green, and “snow” garland that I found at Walmart around the railing then added this adorable woodsy-vibe bell from Hobby Lobby to the bottom.
On our porch, I added our “Charlie Brown” Christmas tree for the kids to decorate. I hung mini stockings on a plant stand and put the light-up “Santa Stop Here” sign from Hobby Lobby on top for some height so that people driving/walking by could see it.
The garland on the plant hanger matches the garland going up the railing. I bought those two large bows at Dollar Tree a few years ago and they are still going strong. I filled the hanging baskets with ornaments, & hung giant, sparkley snowflakes from Walmart.
I switched out the Fall mums for these holiday arrangements.
Then I added just a small string of lights to really finish it off.
I bought these stockings for our family back in 2018. In 2019, I was able to add “A” to our collection for Athena. This year, this pattern was discontinued from Target. I was able to hunt down one more “M” for Moses on Mercari which was a total sign from the Christmas Gods- last baby, last M available in this print to complete our family of stockings.
I am sitting here just in awe. I can’t believe how beautiful it looks so far and it’s only my first night decorating the tree. I am so full of gratitude- to be able to turn our home into a magical winter Wonderland for the kids, for my husband who works his butt off so I can make it happen, for overall good health and a happy, loving family. I really have so many blessings to be so thankful for that I need to slow down and appreciate in the moment. That is my wish/goal for myself this Holiday season: slow down, live hygge with my family, and really appreciate all that I already have.
Sasha, Moses, and I took a trip out to find some new Christmas decorations. We picked out a lot of new ornaments together. We decided to go with a “Mrs. Clause” theme which I now plan to use for the rest of my Christmases.
Mia picked out this beautiful tree skirt that “reminds her of snow.” In person, it shimmers for miles; the picture does it no justice.
I found this adorable mini wreath in the Target “dollar” spot to put under my Aria diffuser. It made it look so fun & festive, especially with the tree trunk cake stand it is on.
I hung this “Letters to Santa” mailbox for the kids to write their letters to Santa to send off to the North Pole.
The kids love to countdown the days to Christmas with this fun countdown calendar we found at Target a few years ago.
I kept the kids Christmas baking outfits at the table for an extra Christmassy feel.
I found this cute floral display at Kroger that went along really well with the rest of my decor. It reminded me of the Wicked Witch of the West’s sister.
I didn’t do a whole lot to the bathroom but I did add a few small pieces for fun.
The kids went to get their photo taken with Santa. They got to pick out a cute frame to make to put their photo in.
I loved this mail box so much when we met Santa, I had to get a picture of it.
Ella, Mia, & I went to a Reggae Christmas show with my parents and Kaden.
It was a really fun night, except I got my first parking ticket which made me cry. I haven’t gotten in any trouble at all in almost 10 years now which is something I have been really, really proud of and I felt like I was a total failure.
We took the kids to The Christmas Ranch for the second year in a row. Last year we only were able to drive thru, but this year we walked around and rode the train. It is such a cool place! It was an absolutely freezing night though, and hope that next year we will be able to pick a night that is a little warmer so we are more comfortable walking around the village.
We went out for a night at Kings Island Winter Fest. We had a blast and enjoyed lots of hot chocolate! I always love seeing the park all lit up in Christmas lights & decor. The older kids got to walk around and ride some big coasters while the younger kids stayed in Planet Snoopy riding the kiddie rides and making Christmas crafts!
We found this cute scavenger hunt on Pinterest that we walked around our neighborhood as a family to cross the items off our list. I loved that the older kids were able to read the list, while the younger kids were still able to participate using the photos.
Snowmen Cake Pops ⛄
We made a “Copycat Starbucks cake pop recipe” that we found on Pinterest for the cake pops, but instead of pink chocolate, we kept it white and tried our best to draw snowmen on each one. They tasted pretty similar to the real Starbucks cake pops, but it was very time consuming and turned out looking more like a distant cousin of a penguin than a snowman, but the kids had fun so 🤷🏼♀️
The girls Christmas Baking Outfits came from Ikea a few winters ago.
Melted Snowmen Cookies ⛄
These were definitely more my speed when it comes to bakery item decorating. I found the idea on Pinterest, but used my go-to cookie + frosting recipe. They were a great beginner cookie design- very simple and literally impossible to mess up since the melted look is what we wanted. They ended up being really cute!
Reindeer Cake Pops 🦌
Sasha & Athena were excited to get these adorable reindeer cake pops from Starbucks on a morning coffee run with mom.
Veggie Santa 🎅
I found this idea on Pinterest. It was so cute and only took minutes to put together.
Christmas Tree Cheese bread 🎄
This was another Pinterest idea that was so simple to make and tasted amazing! I offered both pesto and marinara to dip.
I set up a dessert buffet for the kids. It consisted of a cookie tray, marshmallows, fruit, and a Christmas Cookie “Dunkaroo-style” dip. It was supposed to have pound cake bites as well, but since the kiddos were sick my Christmas party was a bust and I decided to save that for New Years since there was already plenty of treats.
I set out sprinkles for the kids to decorate the whip cream on their hot chocolate, but again… sick kids meant we didn’t get to do the hot cocoa bar either ☹.
Hot Cocoa Bombs
I got these Hot Cocoa Bombs from Hyde Park Baker. They were a white chocolate shell filled with cocoa powder and mini marshmallows. When you poured the boiling water on them, they exploded. The kids thought it was really fun and yummy!
We LOVE our Trader Joe’s Advent Calendars. They have become one of our favorite Christmas traditions over the years. Papa George (the Candy Man) always brings them for us in the beginning of the winter season which really marks off the holiday for us as soon as he arrives with the big Trader Joe’s bag filled with them.
Elf on the Shelf
Some families go all out with their Elf on the Shelf ideas, but I take a more “done is better than perfect” approach to it. I enjoy watching the kids search for Elf in the morning, that’s all. We don’t tell our kids he is spying on them or that he judges their behavior in lieu of Santa or Jesus…. it’s just a fun hide and seek game for us.
I only documented my favorite times that Elf showed up, most nights were pretty lame to be honest. It was fun though.
The kids favorite one was when Elfie “pooped” chocolate chips in a jar. I wish I had gotten a photo of that one.
Teacher Gifts 👩🏼🏫
This was the gift tag which I thought turned out SO cute!
We got each teacher a holiday cookie from 3 Sweet Girls Bakery for the “C is for cookies”. Ella’s teacher got a cute little elf & Mia’s teacher got a sweet little snowman. We also got each teacher a Starbucks gift card for the “C is for caffeine,” then put it together in a small Christmas gift bag.
I had planned to get a photo of the teachers cookies, but only took one of the one I got to treat myself after the kiddos went to bed. They were all super cute though!
As a family, this has by far been our best Christmas yet. We were so blessed to be able to give the girls *almost* everything they asked for (why is my 8 year old asking for a phone anyway?! 🙄😂).
I have really been working on being more thoughtful with my gift giving and I loved seeing each of their faces really light up with each gift.
Gift giving really has an entire different experience for both the giver and receiver when you really take the time to think about what that person wants or needs rather than just picking whatever to cross it off the list. It makes it feel so much more special and meaningful.
This was the only photo I got of any of the kids on Christmas. Maybe next year we’ll be a “matching pajama” type of family 😂.
We even had a surprise sack that Santa left our family filled with a little gift for each of us. We thought that was so thoughtful and that kids were so surprised! They loved that Santa stopped at their sign!
Overall, this Christmas has been absolutely magical. It wasn’t everything I had planned for since the kiddos ended up sick, but it was still just as magical. I already have SO many ideas for next Christmas, but also very excited about all that 2022 has in store for us!
Although our Cheer Season *officially* ended the last weekend of October, we had our Lil Cats Award Ceremony tonight to wrap up this year’s season!
Mia LOVED cheer! It is exactly where she belongs. She just has the most beautiful spirit. She is just so happy to be alive and looks for the good in every situation. Everywhere she goes, she carries a big smile on her face and strives to be a good role model for both her siblings at home and other students at school. Cheer really is the perfect sport for her.
Mia looked so cute in her practice uniform. Practice was on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursdays. She had a practice uniform and a practice bow.
Her real uniform was even cuter, however we found out quickly at the first game that Mia’s uniform was a bit too small for her. Luckily, we were able to switch out her uniform for a larger size before the next game.
Her uniform bow was glittery Deer Park colors and had her name. In the warmer months, the uniform was sleeveless. In the colder months, she wore a long sleeve crop top and black leggings underneath. In October, we switched to Pink pom-poms and socks to show our support for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
I even wore my own Cheer “uniform” to every one of Mia’s games, although I did alternate between jeans & black leggings depending on my mood (and if we’re being honest, what was clean 🤪).
She looked so cute in action down on the field.
Mia and the other Lil Cat Cheerleaders got to be in the Homecoming Parade. The younger cheerleaders rode on the trailer throwing out candy while the older cheerleaders walked behind performing cheers.
Our football team made it to the Super Bowl this year! We lost our first game to Clermont North Eastern, then went completely undefeated until the Superbowl where we unfortunately lost to CNE again. It was such a great season and it felt really good leaving each game winners!
Our Lil Cats did a Trunk or Treat in the parking lot at the High School. Since Mia was Hermione Granger for Halloween, we decided to go with a Harry Potter trunk theme.
Don’t mind the dirty trunk 😂 #RealMomLife
For end of season gifts for Mia’s coaches, we got each of them a super cute initial mug from Target, along with a $10 gift card to Starbucks.
Mia decorated each bag for her coaches and we found these adorable “Thanks a Latte” cards at Target that she wrote a special message inside and signed. We found the “Have a cup of Cheer” printables in Deer Park colors, and tied them to each mug to pull it all together.
Mia showing off her Cheer Trophy!
This was such a great season and we cannot wait until next year! I would love to get her into Tumbling or Gymnastics in the off seasons to keep her motivation and interest going. I really think if she sticks with it, she could go really far in Cheer.
It’s time to hang up the poms until next Fall. Up next: Winter Roller Derby!
Wow, it’s been awhile since I have updated my blog! Between a new baby, two toddlers, school, cheer, and overall life- I haven’t had much time to put here. I do want to be more intentional about updating as the moments are passing me by so quickly. It’s true what they say: the days are long, but the years are short.
Anyway, I was happy to have a normal Halloween again. The kids had a blast. Sasha was just in awe. It was really her first Halloween that she actually understood the concept.
I didn’t do as much this year as I had hoped to do, but it’s been a busy last few months and trying to do activities with a baby isn’t always the easiest. We had a nice Halloween though as a family and the kids were happy and thats what really matters.
I did a bit more decorating around the house and on the porch, but I never got around to take any photos.
I also decluttered all of the older decor that I chose not to use this year.
Trick or Treats
We made this delicious Halloween Trail Mix
Honey Nut Cheerios
Caramel Popcorn with Peanuts
Flipz White Chocolate Pretzels
Candy (baking) eyeballs
Honey Bourbon Roasted Cashews
Chex Mix Peanut Butter Muddy Buddies
White Chocolate Chips
These Candy Corn Bagels were super cute and easy to make using room temperature cream cheese and organic food coloring.
These Ghost Cookies were delicious and turned out adorable. Definitely a great beginner cookie-decorator cookie to start with.
Banana Ghosts were a super quick breakfast that was easy for before school. I dipped Bananas in Vanilla Bean Noosa then covered with coconut shreds and added two chocolate chips for eyes.
Shaw Farms Pumpkin Patch
Kings Island Halloween Haunt
Lil Cats Trunk or Treat
That was our Halloween this year! We made it almost the entire two hours of trick or treating and the kids made out like bandits with the candy.
We all had a really great year and I am so thankful to have a regular Halloween back with my kids where the only masks were part of the costumes and kids gathered in groups of friends for a night of fun, being kids as they should.