Sunday, November 22, 2015

Joel is 3 months!

Look at this sweet little fellow who was 3 months old yesterday!  That's 1/4 of the year!
Baby Joel is becoming more and more alert and loves to watch his big brothers play and be silly.
And clearly knows how to work the lip!
He loves to play in his little baby gym and chat with his animal friends.
He's growing like a little weed-- currently wearing size 6 months clothes, and we had to change the adjustments/rise on his cloth diapers and also change the height of his straps in his car seat this month.
He has been sleeping well, and loves to snuggle with Momma and is exclusively fed on Momma's milk.  (No turkey this year!)
Our sweet little love bug is such a chill little man and an incredible blessing to our family.  We LOVE watching the little man grow!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Operation Christmas Child

Our kids are so incredibly blessed.  God provides for all of our needs and He also has blessed us with a little extra to cover our wants, and at Christmas time we are able to spoil our babies just a little bit.  It doesn't happen all year, but we do get to splurge for christmas and birthdays.  It hasn't always been like that, and Daniel and I are incredibly grateful, and we pray that our kids learn an attitude of gratitude, and I want them to know that giving is far greater than receiving.  

They got a little taste of this at Halloween with trick or treaters.  We walked a lap around our neighborhood trick or treating ourselves and then headed home to hand out to trick or treaters.... Leeland sat on the stairs at the front door watching the door like a hawk for trick or treaters to come.  He and Hayden would bounce around and get all sorts of excited before shouting, "There are people coming, get the candy ready!" as they filled their hands with candies to load up the trick or treater's bags.  It was so wonderful to see their smiling faces on both ends of the spectrum when they were receiving the candy and also handing it out.  

Christmas however can sometimes be a little bit more of a battle when it comes to learning about gratitude.  Christmas tends to come with an "expectation" of receiving gifts.... and with so much of our family local and so much of our family taking great joy in spoiling our babies just like we do, they end up getting gifts every night for nearly a week as we travel to each house for celebrations.  Don't get me wrong, these are friends and family that we adore and love so much, and we are blessed to have them, and are so grateful that they love on our babies so much, but we just don't want the kids to get the wrong idea.  We want them to know that Christmas is about so much more.  First about the greatest gift the world ever received, Jesus, and also that there can be so much joy in giving to others!

One of the ways that we can teach them about giving is through Operation Christmas Child.  Being able to visually see a shoebox and fill it with items for a child somewhere far off who doesn't have.  We picked up the shoeboxes from church early in November, and as I folded them together that night, Leeland said, "That's such a small box!"  Yes.  Yes, son, it is.  It is such a small box and for a child somewhere out in the world, this is probably going to be their ONLY gift at Christmas.  I want our boys to know how blessed they are, and I want them to know how important it is to help others when we are capable, and I want them to do it all with the love of Jesus!

"Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God." 

-Robert Pierce

Daddy Kroh decided to stretch us this year.  I love his faith and his giving heart-- he's always been such a great leader to our family when it comes to giving.  In years past when we have participated with OCC, we have done 1 box as a family.  This year as we headed out of church, Daddy Kroh said we needed to get 3 boxes.  

One box for each of our children to fill.  We decided to let them pick what child they would give the box to. (OCC lets you pick boy or girl and then an age range.)  And then once they picked that, we headed out to the store to help them find good stuff to fill their boxes up with.  Here's what we ended up with....

Boxes for 3 boys!  We opted to pay for the shipping online and print our labels from there so that they have tracking on them.  With our own personal tracking number, we will get an email of where the boxes ended up.  We did this with one box a couple years ago and it went to Haiti!  I'm excited to hear where these land and now that Leeland has a better understanding of geography, be able to show him on a map where they go.  
Inside the boxes was tough-- you can only fit so much in a shoebox and being a Mom, I'm so torn between practical and fun giving so we did our best to have a mix of both.

All 3 boxes have the same contents with only 1 modification for the one box we chose to be for a younger child.  Our boys are on a Star Wars kick so we couldn't get out of the store without having something Star Wars in there, and we happened to find some really cute tin lunch boxes that were Star Wars in the Target dollar spot.  The boys went nuts for them.  (And we may have grabbed 2 more to hide away for them for Christmas.)  Anyway, the one box for the smallest child has wooden blocks in the tin, and the other two boxes have match box cars in the tin.  The rest of the contents are plastic cup, bowl and eating utensils, wash cloth, Ivory soap, toothbrush and toothpaste, bell maracas, Coloring packs with crayons and stickers, notepads with pencils and eraser and sharpener and of course the lunch box style tins that the child can store whatever they'd like in.  

Before closing them up I added in one of our family photo Christmas cards.  (Yes, I've already printed our Christmas cards!)  I wrote our address on the back of the envelope in hopes that we might hear from one of the families and then I had Leeland write on the front of the envelope.  He wrote, "Merry Christmas. Jesus loves you."  We loaded everything up into the boxes and then had to secure the lids down with rubber bands because they were pretty full.   
And then we dropped them off at church!  Oh how I pray that our boys understand how great it is to give!  I pray so hard that they grow up to love God and to love people, and I am so thankful for Operation Christmas Child and that it can be just one small way to love on others but also a tool to talk to our kids about giving and about sharing the love of Jesus to others.  

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Fall Fun!

"Gonna go wild wild wild Kratts, Gonna go wild wild Kratts, Gonna go wild wild wild..."

I wouldn't say that we emphasize Halloween at all.  In fact, my favorite holiday is Christmas and we go ALL out for December/Christmas, but for whatever reason the boys have grown to love Halloween, and they talk all year long about what they'll dress up as.  It's innocent fun, they enjoy choosing their costumes (within reason) and getting candy and treats that they get to eat (also within reason).  

So the talks of Halloween began in early Summer.  There was lots of watching Halloween Curious George, and lots of debate about what they will dress up as.  My goal each year is to get the boys on the same page and do costumes that go together.  I have no doubt that I won't always be able to do that, but for now, they can be somewhat coerced.  Examples, we've been minions, and last year they were Charlie Brown and Snoopy.  

So when the chats first started, the boys were going in opposite directions-- there were talks about being Lego Movie characters, which was pretty hilarious when we decided that baby Joel could be the piece of resistance.  And there was talk about family costumes of Star Wars characters.  And then in August the boys finally settled on being the Wild Kratt brothers and were SUPER excited about it.  I set out to Pinterest for ideas and inspiration but because I have a newborn, we had to keep simple.  AND knowing how much the boys love the Wild Kratts, I also wanted the costume to last a little while because I imagined them wearing it every single day..... and they have worn it every single day.  
Purchased black and white fleece to sew the vests at Hobby Lobby, got their green and blue long sleeve shirts from The Children's Place, printed the creature power discs from and had them laminated at Staples and added velcro to them, and got some black knit gloves at Target.  It was a multi-day project working while the baby was sleeping and in between our school work with children watching over my shoulder and asking literally every 5 seconds when they would be completed.  But the look on their faces once they were completed was SO perfect!  And subsequently watching them run circles all over the house leaping off of furniture "activating" and "deactivating" over and over was pretty priceless.  

For our 4th year, we headed out on Saturday to the orchard to see "The Great Pumpkin."  I say it every year, but I'll say it again and again-- it truly is one of my favorite family traditions.  I really love that while we have things we did growing up, and we have things that are families still expect at the Holidays, we've also gotten to where we are creating our very own family traditions.  Things that the boys will talk about when they are older and have their own families.  (Unless of course Leeland is speaking truth when he says that when he grows up, he wants to be nothing and doesn't want to get married and wants to stay with us forever.  Oy vey!) This one just happens to be one of my favorite traditions.  What can I say?  I'm a "Peanuts" lover!  We rode on a hay ride, devoured s'mores and watched the Charlie Brown movie on projector screen outdoors under the stars by the light of the moon.

Glow necklaces from the Target $1 spot were a hit too!
Then on Sunday we devoured my recipe of Pumpkin Patch Pasta, I made pumpkin lactation cookies and we carved our pumpkins.  Daddy Kroh had mandatory work on Saturday night and sadly had to miss the orchard festivities, so we were so happy to have him home to help and enjoy carving pumpkins with us on Sunday.
We've got Emmet and Wild Style from the Lego movie and a classic one tooth Jack-O-Lantern.  A Fall fun filled weekend! Now we wait and look forward to trick or treating and the great Pumpkin's return. ;)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Joel is 2 months!

Our little munchkin is officially 2 months old now and it seems like so much has changed in 1 month.  The little fellow is SO alert and has started interacting with us.  He's growing out of that sleepy newborn phase and he'll chat and smile and laugh and coo.  It drives Leeland crazy because when we say that Joel is talking, Leeland doesn't like that "he can't understand what Joel is saying."  Of course, while we won't understand what he is saying for several more months, we can certainly tell that he is one very happy baby and we are so thankful for that.

I'm beginning to get used to this whole mom of 3 thing, and (knock on wood) but I'm also beginning to get more sleep and that has been ultra wonderful.

Little man's next pediatrician appointment isn't for another week, so these are "unofficial" home stats, but according to our scale and our best measuring, 2 month old little Joel weighs 16 pounds (oh my!) and is 22.5-23 inches long.  (Honestly, measuring a kicking baby ain't easy so we'll see what the doc says next week on how I did. Ha!) At 2 months old, he wears a size 2 diaper (when we use disposables) and is already wearing 3-6 month clothes.

We are enjoying these precious moments with the little man and looking forward to lots of "first Holidays" coming soon for him.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Crockpot Family Favorites

In the recent months I have seen lots of posts asking for crockpot recipes from friends.  Like LOADS of them!  Maybe it's just a busy season, maybe everyone else is procreating and expanding their families and lacking time to cook too.... Either way, I thought that I would share some of our family favorites to help out some other Mommas, because I have grown to LOVE my crock pot.

Crock Pot Mississippi Pot Roast
Don't judge me, but if loving this is wrong, I don't want to be right!  Serve it up over mashed potatoes because it is so rich and amazing!

Crockpot Pumpkin Chili
You had to know I'd get a pumpkin recipe in here.  To keep it child friendly, I sub the sausage as 1 pound of sweet sausage and 1 pound of hot, and I only use 1/2 of a can of chiles. 

Crock Pot Spaghetti
My one critique is to make sure you stir it about half way through so your noodles don't clump together.  But it's awesome that noodles and all go right in the crock pot all at once!

Crock Pot Cilantro Lime Chicken
When I was prepping freezer meals while pregnant with Joel in preparation for easy meals post-birth, I made 2 bags of these to pop in the freezer.  Super easy, and never imagined that all of us would love them so much!  I cook it and pair it with rice, and optional salsa or guac and call it a burrito bowl.
(Link contains other ideas too)

Crock Pot Pork/BBQ
In the crock throw in a pork roast, a roughly chopped onion and a bottle of beer.  Cook on low for the day and then shred with 2 forks.  Pair with your favorite BBQ sauce. 

Crock Pot Lemon Garlic Chicken
This one is a new discovery, but it went over very well.  I'm not a fan of rosemary so I subbed that with fresh thyme and it was lovely!  (Make sure you buy a chicken that fits in your crock though! Haha!)

Crock Pot Chicken Tater Tot Casserole
This one doesn't get made often because I know it isn't the best for us.... but everyone likes it, and I do appreciate the occasional dinner with NO complaints from anyone.  I typically add in some veggies to make myself feel a little better.  Just layer in some mixed frozen veggies amongst the layers of other ingredients.

Crock Pot Chicken Noodle Soup
It says the wine is "optional"-- don't skip it!  Do it.  The wine really adds to the bland flavor of stock.

Crock Pot Black Bean Chicken Chili
Into the crock pot, toss 2 cans drained black beans, 1 can drained corn, 2 cans of diced tomatoes with chilis, taco seasoning, 4 chicken breast.  Cook on low for the day and then shred the chicken at the end and toss it back in.  Serve with your favorite chili toppings whether it's cheese, sour cream, corn bread, tortilla chips, avocados... whatever you like!

Crock Pot Enchiladas
Seriously, you can put anything in the crock pot!

Those are few favorites to get your started!  Seriously though, you can cook ANYTHING in a crock pot.  I've also done greek yogurt, applesauce and desserts in the crock pot.  It's definitely an underrated appliance, so go forth and give your crock pot some love my friends!