I have always loved the preparation and anticipation of the Christmas season. Heck, I love the season so much I got married four days before Christmas.

As a little girl I remember getting cardboard advent calendars each year.  I would anxiously await each day when I could open a window to reveal a picture that was part of a nativity scene.  

Creating an advent calendar was something I wanted to do with my children but had not implemented fully.  I didn't want to give little toys I would eventually throw away and I didn't want to give them candy each day.  I knew each December flew by in a frazzled haze and I wanted our family to focus on Jesus' birth, serving others, and spending quality time as a family. 

Last year, thanks to the inspiration of  Jenni and Denise , and the world wide web, I was able to come up with an advent calendar filled with activities, craft projects, and outings as well as bible verses.  I think last year my children had a good grasp of the true meaning of Christmas.  They appreciated each other more, they felt more empathetic for those in need, and they were more grateful and not just for their gifts but for the REAL gift of Christmas, Jesus.

This year I am doing things just a little bit differently.  I did not match bible verses to activities as closely as I did last year.  Sometimes the activities were a bit of a stretch to fit, some activities I scratched, and some outings were only available on certain days so our calendar needed to be set by the dates available.  

I will be posting each day our bible verse and what we did for the day whether it is an activity, craft, or outing.  We started our Advent story on Sunday, which was the first day of Advent.  This year we are reading Bartholomew's Passage and my kids are mesmerized with story.  I love how at the end of each days' reading the author incorporates a real life application.  

Ready, set, go... advent here we come!!

Do you celebrate advent?  


Giving Thanks

Our Thanksgiving Day was wonderfully quiet and relaxing.  
 We spent the morning rolling {and sneaking a few pieces} of lefse.   Our neighbors have a college student, Liz, staying with them for part of this semester.  Liz loves lefse as much as we do and wanted to come and help roll it out.  Since rolling is my least favorite job I was glad to pass on the rolling pin.  We rolled about 50 rounds it was all gone after breakfast Friday morning. 
 I just love this picture of Mauryn... the look on her face is priceless.
 After rolling the lefse, we headed next door for Thanksgiving dinner.  We had a table full of food, a warm house, and great company.  We are so blessed and have many reasons to be thankful.
  I am not a fan of pumpkin pie... eww!I love all things pumpkin flavored - bars, bread, cookies, and muffins.  When I saw this recipe for a pumpkin cream pie I knew I had to try it.  It was so yummy but with that much cream and half and half how could it not be good.

How was your Thanksgiving?  Did you try some new food this year??



First "Snow"

The weather reports were for a large winter storm.  There were travel warnings and weather alerts all over the news.  I was expecting to wake up on Tuesday to inches of snow.  Instead we woke up to a skiff of snow.  It started out being slush early in the morning but by daybreak it had turned to ice.  This wasn't the type of "snow" where you could build a snowman, shovel, or create snow angels but it was white and on the ground so my little ones couldn't wait to get outside.

Mauryn post taste of snow {eww!  but i know i did it as a kid too}

 Landon loves to shovel and bless his little heart he wanted to shovel the driveway but he wasn't making any progress since our driveway was ice not snow.  

 The skiff of white made it seem like Christmas so I put on the Christmas music and set up trees in the kids' rooms.  I am holding off on the rest of the decorating and getting our real tree {love the smell} until after Thanksgiving but I couldn't help getting a little bit of a jump start.

Do you decorate before Thanksgiving or do you wait??



The weather has turned quite chilly which means that the kids are spending more time inside playing games, doing projects, building things, and creating stories.

I love to see their imaginations flow and hear about the worlds they create.   As much as I love to see them playing, the OCD side of me feels a little stressed when I see my entry way filled with blankets, pillows, dolls, and other toys.  I am learning to take a deep breath and let them play and create their little worlds.  

One of their favorite things to play is going to grandma's house.  They turn our entryway bench into the car, load up the babies, and pretend to drive to grandma's house.
You can not travel without your babies and pets safely in their carseat and a stroller is necessary for taking your baby on her daily walks.

I am looking forward to the winter to see what stories and worlds my little ones create ... mess and all.



Teenagers intimidated me.  

Really, they did. I felt old and out of touch.  What did a homeschooling mom of three know about their lives?

So two years ago when Lance asked me if I would help him teach Generation Change {the teen version of Financial Peace University} on Sunday nights I said NO!  This would be way out of my comfort zone and I was definitely more comfortable in the nursery area then the teen center.

Lance was persistent in asking me to help him teach the class and host the group in our home instead of at that church.  I agreed I would be there and make snacks but this was not my area of ministry.  I would support him but I didn't want to talk or lead.  The teen gathered at our house on Sunday nights for about 8 weeks that spring. The course went really well and I grew more comfortable around the teenagers. I didn't feel as old and out of touch.

When our Sunday nights ended, I was surprised at how much I missed having the teens in our house.  So when fall came and our youth pastor asked us if we would host a small group at our house we immediately said yes.

My kids love, adore, and look up to the teens.  The teens love and adore our kids right back. 

When we finish our bible study, we spend time eating {there always needs to be food when there are teenagers around :o)},  playing games such as 4 square in the driveway,

or playing just dance on the wii {ignore the cackling laugh and attempt at singing},

and we spend time talking and building relationships.

When the end of summer came we said good bye to a few of our teens who were heading off to college out of town/state.  We had a small group of kids going to school or working in town so we are able to continue our group on Sunday nights.  I feel blessed that we get to continue our time and relationships with these amazing young people.  We eat dinner together each Sunday night and this year we are studying the book the Jesus Creed .   It is an incredible book and we are all learning and growing so much.

I am thankful that Lance gave me a nudge to get out of my comfort zone and work with the teens.  I have learned that we are really not all that different. Even though I am old enough to be most of their mothers {gasp!}, we all have hurts, struggles, insecurities, praises and we can learn, support, and encourage each other.  I know I  have been blessed and challenged by my relationships with them.  


Morgan's 1st Concert

Right around Christmas time last year, I saw online that Owl City was coming to Boise for a concert.  I knew Morgan was a fan of their music and after noticing that the concert tickets were actually affordable {like $25/ticket affordable} I decided it would be fun to take her.

I was as excited about the concert as Morgan not for the band but because of the location.  There is a concert hall in downtown Boise called the Knitting Factory that is supposed to be a fun venue but I had never been there.

Morgan and I traveled down to Boise with her friends Hannah and Carly as well as Hannah's mom late in the afternoon the evening of the concert.  The line to get into the show was about two blocks long when we got there.  We had learned a little secret about The Knitting Factory.  If you eat at The Knitting Factory before the concert you get admitted into the concert early.  When we arrived to eat, in the very tiny dining area, we received a stamp for our early entry.  It was definitely worth arriving early. The food was really good, even though the girls could hardly eat they were so excited.

When the time arrived to open the doors we were allowed into the concert hall before they opened the doors to the public.  The girls had front row seats, well not really seats since we had to stand but they were right in the front.  By the time Owl City came onto perform, after waiting through three opening acts,  the girls were tired.  We ended up staying for about half their show and then headed home.  They had a great time and the venue lived up to its reputation.  The entire time I was there though I kept thinking, I am too old for this concert stuff.  It was fun and Morgan loved every little minute of it.  I am sure there will be more concerts in our future!

Fall Pictures

During our fall break, I took the kids out one morning to get some pictures on our greenbelt hoping to get a picture for our Christmas card.  We spent about two hours walking, enjoying the fall day, feeding the ducks, petting the goat, and trying to get Mauryn to smile and participate in pictures.  Man, photographers have a tough job!

Just be warned the rest of this post is very picture heavy :o)

walking the greenbelt
trying to get a jumping picture, just like the jones family {seriously my kids said, let's do a jumping picture like the jones family}
my big girl
my handsome boy
the baby
i was hoping for some shots of the kids with leaves on the ground but since our fall came a little later we really didn't have much for leaves on the ground until november.  you can tell morgan was just thrilled with the idea of throwing leaves in the air
landon was all over being able to throw leaves

this picture cracks me up... i told the kids to look up, meaning to look up at me and they looked up at the sky except for mauryn and it is probably the best picture i got of her all day

here are some of my favorites from the day, one of these will make the christmas card:


Flag Football

Every Sunday afternoon last fall Lance and Landon would head down to the neighbors to play a game of tackle football. Landon loved it and looked forward to it each week.

This fall we signed him up for flag football.  At first he was a little disappointed he wouldn't get to wear a helmet or pads, but once he got his mouth guard he was all good.

Landon loved playing football and looked forward to each practice and game.  He was great about cheering on his teammates and being an encourager.  He definitely took his "job" on the field seriously.

 Landon's team was made up of mostly first graders, so they were fairly young and inexperienced, but they were quick to learn and had a great season.  They ended up taking second place in the league.

The fall gave us so many beautiful Saturdays for watching the games.  It was great to sit outside without having to be bundled up for each game.  The girls were Landon's biggest cheerleaders watching each game and rooting for their brother and his team.  Sometimes it pays off to be the cute little sister of one of the team members because then the treat mom feels bad for you when you don't get a snack and gives you a big treat.

I had to include some video with highlights from Landon's first season playing football.  He was pretty much the littlest guy out there but held his own with the big guys.
Untitled from Kristen Cheney on Vimeo.


Almost Wordless Wednesday:Sleepy Girl

After a week full of birthdays and parties, the little one crashed. This is pretty much how I felt by Saturday night. The arm and the legs on the table just crack me up.

I couldn't resist a close up of those cute little toes and the arm over the face... sigh.


Tie Dye Party

Each year it becomes a little more difficult to come up with a theme for Morgan's parties. This year after a little research Morgan decided on a tie dye party. It seemed appropriate to go out with a big themed party since this is the last year Morgan will have a big friend party at home. {after this year, we will celebrate doing something special with just a few friends.}


The invitations were very simple. I found some tie dyed paper that we cut into the shape of a t-shirt. Morgan glue the t-shirts onto multi colored paper. On the back we included all the party information. They were just the type of invitation I like cute and easy.

I recycled the banner from Mauryn's party earlier this week. I turned the banner over and used tie dye letters to match Morgan's party.
Morgan and I tie dyed some paper earlier this week to use for the garland hanging over the table. It was super easy and Morgan loved making the paper. I used both food coloring and food gels to do the paper and the food gels definitely gave brighter color to the paper. It was fun to experiment and see how they would turn out.
I made some pom poms to hang from the light fixture.
The table decorations were fun and easy. I threw on some confetti and shredded paper around three glasses filled with multi colored candy.

The cake:
Morgan and I went back and forth on what she wanted for her cake. When I found this cake, she was sold. The cake was easy to make and by adding the buttermilk the cake was super moist. I frosted the cake white and then used the Wilton cans of spray mist for the cake. The mist ran quite a bit so that was frustrating but in the end they grew on me. Morgan loved them so that is all that mattered.

Due to the number of girls invited to the party, I didn't want everyone tie dying at the same time. I set up three different stations in the garage where the girls could rotate as they finished an activity. I had a station where they could bead a bracelet with tie dyed/brightly colored beads, colored clay to make tie dye t-shirt magnets, and then tie dyed t-shirts.
The magnets turned out really cute and were a hit with the girls. I think it was even more of a hit than the tie dye shirts!
Morgan working on her t-shirt.
Morgan and her finished t-shirt
The Birthday Girl:
This was such a fun party and really pretty easy. The girls were old enough that they didn't need much help on the stations. It was definitely not as stressful as I had imagined having the girls working with the dye for their t-shirts.

Happy Birthday Morgan!