Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Northern Fall.

You guys.



I just can't get over the COLOR up here.  It is absolutely incredible, and if you follow my instagram, (whit_neenee) you'll see a steady stream of colorful fall photos blowing up your feed almost daily.  I just can not get over it!  I have nearly worn out my camera shutter trying to capture the beauty that surrounds us, but even the photos don't do it justice.  

My parents came for a visit last week (blog posts coming soon!) and it just so happened to fall during the "peak week" for the leaves.  I was SO happy they were able to experience it with me!  It was nothing short of picture perfect.  There is nothing quite like a fall up north.  Absolutely amazing, and I'm soaking it all in as much as I can.

Here are some of my favorite shots! (It may seem like a lot, but it's nothing in comparison to how many I have taken.) Ha!



(This is our YARD!)

(Just driving down the roads are quite an experience!)


















(At the beach!)









So pretty.  God's handiwork is something to be admired!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Comfort Zone.

I knew when we moved here that I was going to be pushed out of my comfort zone more than I might be comfortable with.  I mean, picking up and moving across the United States is in and of itself a comfort zone stretcher.  I had never set foot in this town the day I moved here, so literally everything I laid eyes on was new.  New scenery, new roads, new stores, new faces, new churches, new restaurants, new home ... new, new, new!

My friends back home told me before I left they would be praying for new friends for me.  I told them, "I'll just be there for a year.  I can totally see myself not getting to know anyone because it's too hard and takes a lot of time."  They encouraged me not to do that.  I told them okay, but deep down thought I would be perfectly content with just holing up in my townhouse and being a hermit for a good 12 months.

Did I feel that is what God wanted for me?  Absolutely not.  He intends and desires for us to have relationships, regardless of how long you dwell in a city.  But, it seemed easier to not try.  Less stressful.  And I would be planted smack dab in the middle of my comfort zone ... the coziest place to be!

Then when we came here I realized just how alone we were.  The only faces in the entire town that I knew, belonged to my family.  It was hard.  And lonelier than I expected.  I missed the play dates, I missed the adult conversation, but I think even more than all that, I missed watching my kids play with their friends.  I knew they missed it, and that hurt my heart.

As you all know, God has been in every single detail of this transition.  From our house selling the day before we moved, getting the only townhouse with a yard, providing a great opportunity for my husband, and unexpected bonuses like being 3 miles from Presque Isle!  He has just gone above and beyond in making this move peaceful.  I knew deep in my heart that He would provide people for us - comradery and friendship.  And wouldn't you know, He is doing just that. 

Over the past month or so, and even over this past week, I have met some great people who I have so much in common with and have reached out to me.  Through this, Levi has made several fun friends, and has clicked with each of them so well!  It has taken some guts and swallowing my nerves to get out there and actually do things with these ladies, but I couldn't ignore the prodding on my heart to go.  Just go.  And I am so happy I did!

Taking the first step out of your comfort zone is always the hardest step to take.  But once you take that first step, you just keep walking.  And you encounter blessings you never expected to see.

I don't want to look back on this year with regrets.  I'm doing my best to be brave, take chances, and come out of this year with friendships that though they may only last a season face to face, will walk with me in eternity.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

5 Year Old Stuff.

A lot has happened with little Levi in the past couple of months, so I thought I would document a bit of it.  He is growing into such an amazing little boy - sweet, smart, compassionate, funny, adventurous, brave, kind.  We are just so proud of him and how he has dealt with this move like such a little champ.  He has been so brave to try new things and jump in full force.  How I admire that little boy.

We started another year of homeschool in August and he is just blossoming and learning every day.  I love the opportunity I have of being his teacher again this year.  It is such a blessing having this experience with him, learning and growing right along with him as we dive into Kindergarten!  I truly treasure these moments!


Levi has been begging us since before we moved to do Karate.  I promised him then that we would get him in a program as soon as we got settled.  He told everyone he talked to for two months, "I'm about to be signed up for karate," so we realized it was time to make it happen!  We found a great Tae Kwon Do school and he's been at it for several weeks now.  He goes on Tuesday and Thursdays and it's one of the highlights of his week.  He loves it and is a total natural! And every time he puts on his uniform I die from cuteness overload.


The true highlight of his every week is the thing that is nearest and dearest to his heart  - AWANA!  He is in Sparks this year and we are so so so thankful our church here has this program so he can continue on with it this year.  He loves it so much and has a wonderful time every week - always bouncing out of the church with the biggest smile on his face and a hundred stories to tell.  I can't sing the praises of this program enough.  I know he is learning Truth that he is hiding in his heart forever.


We got hooked up with a little homeschooling group in town, comprised of several ladies from the church we are attending and some other moms from other churches, too.  I was thrilled that we were invited so Levi could connect with some other homeschooling friends (and me with their moms!).  We went on our first field trip a couple weeks ago to a farm for a day of fall fun.  It was a blast!  There were around 20 of us, moms and little siblings included, and we spent the entire morning playing on a farm and finished up with a picnic lunch.  :)


Aside from these big new things for Levi, he continues to be the very best big brother a child could have.  Levi's patience and kind heart inspire me each and every day.  I'm blessed to be his mommy.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Long Month.

It's been a long September.

Husby's work load has picked up for the season which means he hasn't been home as much. (I know that's why we are here, but it's still a drag. And tiring as it's just me and the boys.)  On top of that, we keep cycling through the same little virus and at least one of has been sick all month.  My turn came around twice.  (Mommy can't deny kisses from her littles!)  My parents were in Israel for two weeks, and my weeks creep by if I can't talk to them.  Homesickness and physical sickness isn't the best combo for me, I have come to realize.  On top of these things, September just really never has been my favorite.  It's that strange little month wedged between the warm summer and the crisp fall, and the days just flounder around - trying to find their place.  September is my weird month.  I'm happy to see it go.

Not to be a downer.  Just being honest.  It was a hard month.


And then this weekend, like a breath of fresh air, God gave us the perfect two days.  He has a way of giving us exactly what we need exactly when we need it. And OH how I needed it!

Husby didn't have one obligation so he was all ours.  The weather was nothing short of incredible and we set out to relish every second of it.  We spent our entire Saturday on Presque Isle and soaked up what will probably be one of our last times there in our swim suits until Spring.

(Who am I kidding?  I was in jeans, a shirt, and wrapped in a towel.  Swim suit.  Pssssh!)


We flew kites, hunted for treasure with our metal detector, the boys swam (in the cold water!), we built sand castles, we watched the majestic USS Niagara voyage across the waters, we ran and laughed and connected.  We soaked up the sun, and relished the breeze in our hair.  We breathed in.  We breathed out.  It was beautiful.  Healing.


(If that's not a Baywatch Baby, I don't know what is.)


I came home feeling more refreshed and rejuvenated than I had all month, whispering thanks to God for making it all happen.  I'm completely amazed at how therapeutic Lake Erie is for me.  As much fun and silliness that takes place while we're there, I always leave with such perspective.  My mind "resets" out there among the waves.


God is teaching me so much during our time here.  Total dependence on Him.  Husby, the boys and I are creating bonds tighter than ever with one another.  We are being stretched, shaped and molded as He refines us, teaches us, blesses us.

Hard things.  Good things.


This past summer in Erie was one I will always look back on with such love as it brought an abundance of special times and precious memories.  Now, I'm looking forward to fall.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Recipe: Baked Lemon Thyme Chicken

As those of you that follow me on Instagram know, I'm doing the Advocare 24 Day Challenge, and I've been posting some of my meals on there.  I did a lot of research before starting this and was grateful for any recipe or food idea that I saw, so maybe this will help some of you.

I posted this picture the other night and several of you requested the recipe, so here it is!  I took it from another girl who posted on a 24DC site, and we really enjoyed it.  I served with brown rice and broccoli.  The boys ate it up!


Baked Lemon Thyme Chicken

1-2 Tbsp olive oil
5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 C. chicken broth (I used a bit more)
Zest from 1 lemon
Juice from 1 lemon
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used 4)
Salt & pepper
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 lemon cut into 4 wedges

- Oven 400 degrees.
- Heat olive oil in a skillet and add the minced garlic and cook - stirring constantly - for 1 minute (don't burn the garlic).  Add the broth, zest, juice, and herbs to the pan.  Pour the olive oil/garlic into the baking dish. Season both sides of chicken with S&P and place in the dish along with the lemon wedges and fresh thyme sprigs.
-Bake 30-40 minutes, until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear.
- Drizzle the pan sauce on top of the chicken and serve.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Real Life: The Fridge.

When we were getting our house ready to sell, our realtor came over for the initial meeting.  She loved the house, complimented how I decorate/style, and said she didn't see any need to change anything - to keep it like we had it.

Oh, except for one thing.

Take the art work and magnets off the fridge.


I had neatly arranged the front of the fridge before she came, but she wanted everything gone.  The precious little painted hand prints of my youngest?  Gone.  The endearing house drawn by my eldest?  Ditch it.  The family photo that is sure to get an "awwww" from house lookers?  You may as well BURN IT!

Okay, she didn't exactly say that, but she implied it.

So, I did what she said and cleared off the fridge.  It was weird walking into the kitchen and not seeing traces of my children hanging around (well, except for their actual paw prints everywhere).  I didn't like it.  I'm a mom and a mom's fridge is the one spot in the house to proudly display her children's masterpieces.

Can I get an AMEN?

So, you guys.  I was happy to get to Erie and not have to worry about people trying to buy my house and not because of my crowded fridge.  ;)

Um, but I miss MY fridge.  Our townhouse came with one and it's not my favorite.  But, it was nice not to have to haul ours.

Here she is in all her glory:  The Mom Fridge.


I have to weed it when it gets too overflowing, but the little sentiments of family I see each time I pass it makes me happy.  Love notes from Husby, school projects from my Levi, fingerpaint prints by my baby, notes from family who have mailed us things... my fridge may look cluttered and messy, but it's bursting with love!

And cookie dough.

Definitely bursting with cookie dough.


What's your fridge look like - simple & clean or chaos & full?

Monday, September 15, 2014

A Sweet Crisp Day.

Husby planned a super fun outing for us last weekend!  We journeyed deep into the Pennsylvanian countryside and visited the most charming apple orchard I've ever seen.  It was straight out of a Hallmark movie.  Picturesque in every way!


The boys hit the ground running.  There's just something about a little boy, a farm, fresh air, and wide open spaces that make them go crazy - running, jumping, climbing, laughing.  They had the best time!


There was a gift shop and bakery that smelled like nothing you've ever smelled before.  Apple EVERYTHING!  Unfortunately, the crowds malled that day and by the time we got there they were out of most of their baked goods, but we still managed to leave with several goodies, like a homemade apple cake mix, apple butter, half pecks of apples, and several frozen apple turnovers to enjoy later.


There were farm animals roaming around and a large orchard we strolled through.  I told Husby that I need to contact Hallmark and have them make a movie there ASAP.  It was perfect!  I also told him to buy me a farm and a big white house with an American flag hanging from the large and inviting front porch.  It's high time I embrace my inner farm girl.




I'm pretty sure the boys' favorite part was tree climbin'.  They could have stayed all day and just climbed trees.  Note: when we move, find a house with big trees!


Farm life is where it's at!

Especially when there's an apple bakery on the premises. :)


Husby planned a beautiful day!  Oh, and it didn't hurt that we hit up the most amazing outlet mall afterwards.  ;)

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