Christmas 2016

Just like that, it’s all over.


All the prepping, all the shopping, list making, menu creating, etc. The stress. It’s done.



We had an incredible weekend, while I’m sad it’s over, there were tons of memories made and everyone was happy. In the end, that’s really all that matters.


Saturday, we woke up, finished up a few things and then headed over to my Mom’s house with the rest of my brothers, their families and part of our extended family. We had the most delicious Mexican food feast, the only thing I managed to get a picture of was the fajitas…and that was because I was cooking them and wouldn’t let anyone dig in until I got a picture. Then a gift exchange, watched The Santa Clause and then went home.


Once we got home, we set up for Santa snacks, put the kids to bed and then watched one of my all time favorite Christmas movies, It’s a Wonderful Life.



Sunday morning we opened up our gifts at home, then went to Church.



and then after Church, we went back to my Mom’s house for more presents and lunch.


Santa came!

14 year old: UA Curry Shoes (don’t ask what they are, but after a few google searches, I got the right pair.)

11 year old: Tumbling mats

8 year old: RC truck and robot

2 year old: Itty Bitty American Girl




Our last stop on the Christmas express was to my husband’s parents house for dinner. We met up with his oldest brother and family here visiting from SC.



All I wanted was one nice family picture. Emma did not. They all decided to be like her…


Many, many tries later, I got one.


And then it was finally time to go home and go to bed, where everyone slept straight through till morning!

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Grief and The Holidays

It’s a day I will never forget; April 13, 2010. It was a Tuesday and like every other Tuesday for the previous 2 years it was also Papa day. A day where at the time my two youngest children and I would meet my Dad at the library, go to lunch and then go to my parent’s house so the baby could nap, I could rest and my Dad and Karlie (my then 5 year old) would hang out, watch TV or pretty much whatever Karlie wanted to do. I called him that morning to make sure we were still on and he said he had some errands to run and he would meet me at the library. That was the last time I ever talked to him. That afternoon, my world came crashing down on me. I felt every ounce of air escape my body in an unimaginable gasp/scream as two detectives sat in my parent’s living room with me and my brother telling us that our Dad had been killed instantly in a head on collision that morning. Less than 20 minutes after I talked to him.

The days, months, years that followed are nothing but a blur. I barely knew my name. I barely functioned, barely held on. I couldn’t make plans for more than a couple of hours into the future because I had no idea what would or could happen. Getting into a car with someone else driving sent me into a state of panic.

It wasn’t until the 3rd anniversary of his death when the all consuming pain went away and I finally moved into the final stage of grief- acceptance. Six years (seriously, how has it been 6 years already?!) later, I can finally remember him instead of what happened to him.

Most of the year, I am fine.  But Christmas is tough every year. If there was anyone who loved the Christmas season, it was my Dad. He was the first to set up the tree, the lights, the decorations, bust out the CD’s and loved everything there was to love about Christmas. I hear songs on the radio now and I can picture him singing them as loud and proud as he could- no matter how he sounded!

Being at my Mom’s house this week, seeing the pictures on the wall, remembering the Christmases from my childhood are bringing up so many emotions, but for the first time in 6 years, I can smile. I smile remembering how much he loved his family, his grandchildren, the presents, the laughter, the craziness of it all. I smile knowing how much he loved it all and loved all of us and it helps. It helps me remember this what life is all about. Family. Grief is something that never truly goes away, we just learn to cope with it. We never “get over someone’s death.” We learn to accept a new normal.

Even though the Christmas rush leaves me a bit frazzled, I’m taking the time tonight to remember my Dad. Listening to some of his favorite Christmas songs and I may even sing a few loudly just for him.

Christmas Bark

I teach the 12-13 year old Sunday School class at our Church and today I wanted to do something fun for them. I planned some treats, a Christmas movie and time for them to decompress and relax and hang out a little bit. Since 4 out of the 6 kids are boys, it’s like feeding time at the zoo, they are ALWAYS hungry and always asking for treats. Today, they won.


This was made in less than 5 minutes, put into the freezer for an hour and then broken up into pieces. I purposefully left some of the pieces bigger for those hungry hungry boys and this whole dish was empty before we left the Church building.


Christmas Bark

1 Almond Bark Bar – I used vanilla flavored, but there is a milk chocolate bar as well.

1 package Christmas Oreos

1 package Peppermint M&M’s

Parchment Paper to line your dish

Break the bark into squares, spread out on parchment paper in a microwaveable dish and heat in 1:00 increments until all of the chocolate has melted. **This step took just over 3:00 **.

Spread evenly in the dish, crumble oreos into melted chocolate, stir to make it sure it’s all evenly distributed

Top with M&M’s

Chill in freezer – I let it sit for an hour. It was probably done before that, but I was also making dinner at the same time, so I kind of forgot about it.

And that’s it! So easy and SOOO good! I am making another batch to pass out to coaches and dance teachers this week.

Let me know if you try it!