2012: The Year in Review

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As I sat at home last night with the family watching the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, I could not help but think that this was not how New Year’s Eve was supposed to be.  The boys were not supposed to have the flu.  Summer was not supposed to have yet more ear and tonsil issues.  We were not supposed to be possibly planning yet another surgery for another little.

However, then I remembered that, of course, it was exactly how it was supposed to be. Having sick littles has allowed us to all sit together in the living room by the fireplace watching movies and football for the past four days.  We have stayed in our pajamas, rested, relaxed, and just slowed down to really enjoy each other.  The past few months have been crazy and busy mixed with more crazy and busy.  So, yes, the past four days have been great.  Of course, I wish that the littles were not sick, but, unfortunately, they are.  And, since they are, we will just go with it.  We rang in the New Year together, as a family, in our living room watching more movies, eating Oreos and ice cream, and dreaming of a healthy, happy, peaceful 2013.

I also had a chance to look back on what the past year brought our way.

January 2012 brought a New Year, a special wedding anniversary that included a yummy Cajun Creamy Chicken Pasta, and nerf wars.

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February 2012 gave us the Super Bowl, proud Momma moments, a snow day (of sorts), an interesting Valentine’s Day, Egg Stuffed Potatoes, and my baby girl losing her first tooth.

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March 2012 started with celebrating a special birthday for a little boy who woke up sick on his birthday, an action-packed Spring break, which included visiting the dinosaur tracks, and a little bit of happiness that included our favorite chocolate cupcakes.

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April 2012 began with a field trip with my youngest boy, the world’s best angel food cake, a beautiful Easter, and a birthday party for a little princess who turned 5.

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May 2012 brought us Cinco de Mayo, which is one of our favorite events to celebrate, teacher appreciation week, Mother’s Day, the creation of the ultimate Summer Fun List, and Memorial Day.

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June 2012 started with a bang as we celebrated the last day of school, a family outing to Mt. Bonnell, our first annual shrimp boil, Father’s Day, and a very special catch.

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July 2012 began with a family trip to Enchanted Rock, Independence Day, which included a yummy cobbler and some cute littles, one of my favorite recipe creations, Harry Potter and Butterbeer, Sean’s birthday, which included chocolate cake, a special birthday for a 4th baby, and a family outing to a magical little swimming hole.

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August 2012 began with our annual family reunion, followed by a special annual watermelon trip to Nonna and Gran’s house, Kinder Camp for a little girl who was so excited to begin a new chapter in her book of life, a rainbow inspired back to school celebration, and the 1st day of school.

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September 2012 blasted off with a special Grandparent’s Day lunch, a birthday party for my youngest boy, and a reading champion,

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October 2012 began with a bucket list that included some amazing muffins, a 39th birthday, the cutest pumpkins in the patch, pumpkin carving with Papa, and an interesting Halloween.

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November 2012 proved that kindness transcends words, family field trips to support one of our own are so special,  pumpkin spice lattes rock, there is nothing quite like a thankful heart, and putting up the Christmas tree is like taking a trip down memory lane.

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December 2012 held family Christmas celebrations, a trip home for the holidays, a birthday celebration for Jesus, a letter from Santa that included new words for 2013, a magical Christmas, and a happy New Year’s Eve.

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Happy New Year – Recipe: Greek Chicken

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As I sit and reflect on 2011, I am filled with utter peace, contentment, and pure joy.  I love my family.  It defines who I am as a person.  I often wonder who I was before I became a wife and a mom because I know that this is the person who I was always meant to be.  And, I am so thankful for that.

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So, while I like to look forward and not back, I also think that it is always good to think about the things that I could do differently, better, more, and/or less next year.

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1.  Continue this journey of sharing my sweet Ethan’s, my family’s, story.  If we are able to touch lives, give hope, spread joy, then the time that I put into this journal is so worth it.

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2.  I want to say “just a minute” less.  I know that we, as moms, cannot always drop what we are doing and run meet every “I need more water” need.  But, I also know that my time to serve these sweet children of mine is short.  And, I do not want to be the “in just a minute” mom.

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3.  Achieve balance.  It is something that we all want in our lives.  I want to make sure that I know when to say “yes” and when to say “no” so that my days are filled doing what I love to do the most – being a wife and a mom.

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4.  After almost 9 years of parenting, I have discovered that having a schedule has its benefits.  I have never wanted to be the mom who was bound to a schedule because I want there to be a great deal of flexibility in our lives.  However, I have decided that having a schedule, at least of the big things, will help me make sure that nothing is over-looked…and it will hopefully prevent those nights of laying in bed wondering, “did I do enough today, did I make a difference, was I fully present in the moments?”.

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5.  Become less afraid of failure.  There are still so many things that I want to learn about in regards to this wonderful blogging journey.  I want to take better pictures, learn more about graphic design, and achieve my definition of writing success.  I want to make sure that I am always learning new things but that I am also careful not to compare my blog, myself to others.  As I always tell my littles, “You are special because you are you.”

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6.  Try new things, learn new things.  When I am cooking, I love to try new things.  Sometimes that means experimenting with my own creations, and sometimes that means trying one of the zillion recipes that I have on Pinterest.  There are so many amazing self-taught chefs, bloggers, and moms out there that I do not have to always create my own recipes, and I think that is great because it allows me to focus more on #3 above, realizing that I do not have to do it all…because being a wife and being a mom is what is important to me and to my family.

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In the spirit of trying new things, I created an entire Greek menu during the holidays, and it was delicious.  I will be sharing the recipes throughout the week so that you can create your own Greek feast, too.  Let’s start with these Chicken Gyros by Annie’s Eats.  This was my first trip to Annie’s blog, but, wow, it certainly will not be my last.  It is amazing, and she has so many wonderful recipes to share.  This chicken is truly amazing.  I will share the Tzatziki and Pita Bread recipes Tuesday and Wednesday.  By Thursday, you can create your own delicious Chicken Gyros.

Greek Chicken

Greek Chicken

This wonderful Greek Chicken recipe was created by Annie at Annie's Eats.

Ingredients

4 cloves garlic, smashed

Juice of 1 lemon

2 tsp. red wine vinegar

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

2 heaping tbsp. plain yogurt

1 tbsp. dried oregano

Salt and pepper

1 1/4 lbs. chicken pieces (I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts)

2 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions

  1. Combine the garlic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, yogurt, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste in a medium bowl.
  2. Whisk together until mixed well.
  3. Add the chicken pieces to the bowl and mix well to coat.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour.
  5. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to a cooking pan, and heat over medium heat.
  6. Add the chicken, and place the lid on the pan.
  7. Cook on one side for 10 minutes, and then flip to the other side for 10 minutes. Make sure that you keep an eye on it. You want to make sure that it is cooked through but still juicy.
  8. Once the chicken is completely cooked through, transfer to a plate and let rest for 5 minutes.
  9. Cut into strips.
http://cookingformykids.com/2012/01/02/happy-new-year-recipe-greek-chicken/

I shared this recipe at Frugal Antics, A Southern Fairytale, Make-Ahead Meals, Beyer Beware, and Mrs. Happy Homemaker.

New Year’s Eve Appetizers – Recipe: Creamy Queso

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As you have probably noticed, I have not been blogging much this week.  Our days have been filled with organizing, cleaning, catching up, preparing for 2012, and playing.  I set a goal to get everything done by tomorrow afternoon so that we can shut down to have total family time from Friday evening through Monday night.  We have great plans to eat good food, watch movies, play games, watch football, and have fun.

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I wanted to share some of the yummy appetizers that we plan to eat on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.  And, if everything goes according to plan, I might even have a cute, fun New Year’s dessert to share with you tomorrow or Saturday.

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These yummy Burgundy Mushrooms will be making another appearance this weekend.  Yes, they really are that good.

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This Pico de Gallo is quite delicious, too.  And, my sweet husband loves it, so I like to make it for him.

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Jalapeno Poppers are perfect for a yummy appetizer or a little extra topping for sliders or fajitas.

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This Jalapeno Popper Dip is another option.  Serve it with bread or crackers for a yummy, very satisfying snack.

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And, this Creamy Queso will definitely make an appearance on our table this weekend.  It is great with some chips, salsa, and pico de gallo. It is made with Velveeta, which I know is not always a favorite due to that fact that it is “fake” cheese.  But, the addition of the cream cheese makes it creamy and truly delicious.

Creamy Queso

Creamy Queso

Ingredients

16 ounces Velveeta

8 ounces cream cheese

1/4 cup whipping cream

1/4 - 1/2 cup pico de gallo

Instructions

  1. Cut the Velveeta into chunks and place it in a microwave-safe dish.
  2. Add the cream cheese.
  3. Microwave for 1 minute.
  4. Add the whipping cream, and microwave for another 2 minutes.
  5. Remove from microwave and stir.
  6. Add more cream or milk if the consistency is too thick.
  7. Microwave 1 more minute.
  8. Add the pico de gallo, and microwave for another minute.
  9. Serve with additional pico de gallo, salsa, and chips.
http://cookingformykids.com/2011/12/29/new-years-eve-appetizers-recipe-creamy-queso/

Enjoy!

I shared this post at Tidy Mom.