Saturday, November 8, 2014


I wish I could start this post by saying that I make it my daily mission to begin each day with an attitude of gratitude.
It is something I wish I did. No something I am starting to do. (or at least trying to do).

Thankfully (like what I did hereJ) it is November the month to give thanks. How could I not remember this month? All you have to do is open some social media site and you will be reminded… Because someone, somewhere is yelling at you through some sort of device what they are thankful today.
Some of my favorites this far:
  •   Today I am thankful for “adult” beverage
  •  I am thankful for holidays that don’t force me to reflect on being thankful
  •  I really like reading what your thankful for… Said no one ever
  • I am thankful that spiders don’t fly
  • Every Thanksgiving I am thankful for stretchy pants
  • Black Friday: Because only in America do people trample on and other for sales just one day after reflecting what they are thankful for
Names have been left out to protect the funny thankful people
THANK YOU for the giggles.

Thanksgiving seems to be the middle child of holidays. 
Halloween is glitzy, fun and filled with sugar. Christmas is magical, cozy, and emotional and everyone looks forward to seeing it come. In fact I know a few of you who skip straight from Halloween decorations to Christmas Decorations.
Part of me cannot blame you. Are there even Thanksgiving decorations? I guess they are more like Fall decorations. 

My front porch is still sporting the un-carved and painted pumpkins and I am calling this Thanksgiving decorations.

That tree in the background is an added porch accessory and yes it will be decorated for Christmas!
The kids hang out on the porch often but they are not out all the time. Just in case you drive by expecting to see them!

The magic of Christmas is so contagious that most people say “we need to keep the spirit of Christmas in our hearts all year long”… 
That sounds great but what about Thanksgiving?

I think we need to keep the spirit of being Thankful in our hearts all year long!

I my opinion we as a community (for the record this includes me) needs to spend more time than ever (outside of November) recognizing what we are grateful for.

After all our life is constantly filled with reminders via commercials that tell us we are not thin enough, rich enough, happy enough, successful enough, and we need more STUFF to be enough.
If you are like me I have had enough with that non-sense.

If we focus on what we are lacking we run the danger of being ungrateful for what we have and this is an extraordinary defeating way to live.

Lately there have been some hard realities to face.
  • Work is busier than ever. Kids are busier than ever. Balancing the both on a good day is just hard and on a bad day it seems impossible.
  •  There are floors to be swept, vacuumed and mopped. Windows to be washed. Laundry to be cleaned, folded and put away. Dishes in the sink with a full clean dishwasher begging to be put away. Sheets to be changed (okay you get it and yes the list could go on and on and on and on and on….) All of this work for my home. Yet am I really enjoying it?
  • My beautiful daughter needs to be potty trained… Am I really enjoying these moments with her? Pottery training when you think about it can be hilarious
  •  Mason is no longer a little boy but somehow has transformed into a full blown kid! He has “big kid” responsibilities like homework and chores. Am I really enjoying watching him bloom? Or am I so rushed that I am missing the important things?

Am I truly giving thanks in the month of thankfulness??? I can tell you absolutely NOT. I have not started out on a good foot with November.

This is an area I need WORK on.  So here is my desperate college try.

If you live in America you have hundred, thousand, NO – Millions of things to be thankful for. So many things you probably haven’t even noticed.
Here is my abbreviated list (you are welcome. I am sparing you a daily post on social media that I would have more than likely forgotten to share 50% of the time):
  •  I am thankful for the LARGE utility bills. It means that I have water to bathe and a warm house!
  •  I am thankful for the car the needs an oil change because it means I don’t have to walk miles and miles to get what I need.
  •  I am thankful for the PILES of laundry to do. It means my family and I have clothes to wear
  • All those dishes calling my name. I am thankful for them. It means we did not go hungry.
  • I am thankful for sheets on beds that need to be changed. It means we not only own one bed but multiple beds.
  • You know the one parking space all the way in the BACK of the parking lot? I am thankful for it because it means I don’t have to park in a handicapped space. I can walk!
  • I am thankful for my garage that desperately needs to be cleaned out, because it means I am BLESSED WITH PLENTY
  •  I am thankful for a list of things to do because it means I have people who love me and invite me to events
  •  I am thankful for dogs who need to be walked. It only means my house is filled with pet love (which is after all unconditional) not to mention I have two security guards who constantly protect my home.
  •  I am thankful for Christmas cards that need to be sent. They could as easily be funeral announcements.
  • I am thankful for Christmas shopping that needs to be done. It means that I am not alone
  • I am thankful for the government I like to complain about. I am thankful for America because I don’t go to be in fear of going to prison or being shot just by disagreeing with my countries leadership.
  •  I am thankful for my FREEDOM and the amazing men and women who put their lives on the line to protect it!
  •  I am thankful that I have doubts and confusion about my future and my purpose. Others have had their lives cut to short before they ever had a future.
  •  I am THANKFUL for all of you who bless me by reading this silly blog with the greatest gift you can give. Your time! It is the more precious commodity we have and I haven’t met one person who had enough or didn't want more of it.

So what are you thankful for?

I challenge you to write out a list as long as you can. Share it or keep it. After all it is way more for yourself than anyone else.

If you live in America you have hundred, thousand, NO – Millions of things to be thankful for. So many things you probably haven’t even noticed. I didn't until I took the time to smell my off colored roses.

Grateful people are happy people.

Mason's is grateful for: "My fireman bed, my snugly PJ's, my Toys AND I like my whole family"

Yes this is un-edited!

When asked what Kendall is Thankful for her response: "That I sick and I sissy". Not bad for her first round. To be clear she is not sick.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Beef Chunk Chili

It is officially fall in the Pacific NW!!!!

A morning walk with the one and only Mason Garka!

The weather has cooled. Football has started. The crockpot has been dusted off.
With each day that passes I get older and my aging pains increase (NO JOKE).
This is the primary reason we eat a Paleo diet. 
Some of the food we test is okay. Some good. Others GREAT.

This crockpot recipe is a win for both my husband and I as well as our kids!
It falls into the GREAT category!

Beef Chunk Chili

2 tsp coconut oil
2.5 lbs beef chunk (stew meat). Cut into cubes. (We cut them into healthy size chunks)
2 red bell peppers. cubed.
1 onion. chopped.
28 oz chopped tomatoes.
1.5 cups beef broth
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 cloves minced garlic 
1 bay leaf
2.5 tbsp chili powder
3 tsp sea salt
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (use less if serving to kids)
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (use less if serving to kids / more if you enjoy spice)
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate


  • Place the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium / high heat; add the meat and brown on all sided (5-10ish minutes)
  • Drain 1/2 of the fat from the meat. Place the remain fat anf the meat into your crockpot.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients (except for the chocolate) and cook for 6 hours on low.
  • A few minutes before you are ready to serve; stir in the chocolate
  • Serve and eat it all... Well you will. It is THAT good! (Trust me. Kid tested - mother approved)

Prep time is about 10 minutes (browning the meat, chopping the veggies and measuring the spices) and as long as you have the seasoning it will cost you less than $15 and will serve a house full. 
Last night we fed four kids and three adults with left overs for today!
I would say that fits in most families budgets for dinner.


Monday, November 3, 2014


So I was asked a question the other day that caught me off guard...
Do you celebrate Halloween?

Umm.. I have never had to answer that. 
I guess I should have saw it coming (maybe)? My kids did just start attending a Christian School that does not recognize this "holiday".

Unable to answer this question seamlessly when asked I thought I would re-address here.

Do we celebrate Halloween???

I don't celebrate evil. Or darkness. Or Witches, Ghosts and Goblins.
But I DO CELEBRATE KIDS. And Princesses. And Fairies. And Ninja's. And Doctors. And Candy. And Neighbors. And Community.

If we are the LIGHT in the world why would we hide in our homes on this "dark day"?!?! What point are we proving by doing this?
Besides what other day of the year does your entire neighborhood show up on your door???
So I say welcome them and give them the best candy!

If you don't agree with me... that is okay. We still BOTH belong to Christ!

This year on Halloween we went candy collecting and visited with some special people!!!

 This was prior to Kendall getting into her costume for the night... I think Ry nailed it when she introduced her as a "runner"!

 These faces. Pure joy. How could we not Celebrate Kids on this day... Besides if you knock on my door any other day of the year they will more than likely be dressed similar (we dress up a lot).
 Kendall DOC McStuffins at your service!

Visiting with Great Grandpa

So bummed I did not take more pictures but we also interrupted Horsey G'ma card party, Visited with Grammie and Papa (My parents), spent time with Nana (my Mom) and ended the night at Grandma and Papas (Greg parents).
Like I mentioned earlier. We CELEBRATED community. 

What a fun night. 
Lastly. As a Mom I am THANKFUL for the great pumpkin who takes (most) of their hard earned candy away and leaves a toy!
(sugar and my kids don't get along)

I leave you with this sweet picture. 
Dressed up and ready to do a little gymnastics!