Monday, December 19, 2011

grateful.

take delight in the lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.  {psalm 37:4}

now that our time in texas is coming to an end, i have had many emotions fill my heart over the past few weeks.  although i have tried to transition our blog into a lifestyle blog, it is first and foremost my outlet for expression, and i want to document this milestone in our lives for myself, for my family...and for any of you who may need to hear what the Lord has put on my heart. 

as i sit here with tears streaming down my face, it is absolutely amazing to me that the Lord has looked upon me with favor and blessed me beyond anything i could ever deserve, simply because He loves me.  although our life is extremely far from perfect, the truest and deepest desires of my heart have been heard and the Lord has answered my prayers...

i have a faithful and loving husband, a man who is a servant for the Lord and who never waivers in his faith and his provision for his family.  he is absolutely the hardest worker i have ever known and he loves his wife and his daughter (and new little nugget that's on the way) with every ounce of his soul.  the Lord has used my husband as a vessel to bless my life (and others) beyond measure.  he is loyal, he is truthful, and he is a man of integrity.  he is my counter-part, my best friend, and my sanity.

i have a beautiful, healthy, happy daughter who is a ray of sunshine and the light of my life.  watching her grow and knowing the love we have for her overwhelms me when i compare that to how Christ loves us.  she has done absolutely nothing to cause me to love her; i love her simply because she is MINE.  and we are His. 

it is no secret that for quite some time i have longed, with a depth that is hard to describe, to return home to oklahoma.  oklahoma is in me and her simplicity and warmth pulse strong through my veins.  i am thankful the Lord gave me a loving family and a simple up bringing in a small town where knowing the little pleasures in life never was over-looked and i am thankful we will be able to raise our children in the same manner.

the Lord has blessed us by providing work for bryce that he loves, excels in, and a company that is like family.  I actually am hesitant to use the word company because Reeder General is much more than that:  they are our texas family.  they have given bryce the freedom to exercise his God-given talents and with that has come great success for all of us.  the company is growing at a mind-boggling pace and we are returning home, neither of which would be without blessings from above.  i am thankful bryce works for a company that is honorable and trustworthy - because in their line of work the lines can be all too easily blurred.  i am thankful that bryce is surrounded by Godly men who challenge him, hold him accountable, but more importantly, support him and stand by him through his professional and personal lives. 

so as we pack up and head north, the one thing that rings in my ears is "gratefulness."  i am grateful the Lord loves me despite my many, many flaws.  i am grateful for a husband who challenges me, loves me and works his hardest to give his family the world.  i am grateful for brice, for the funny, ornery little girl she is, and for her little brother or sister who will soon be joining our crazy life.  i am grateful for our extended family, for our friends who are family, and for the many ways they bless our lives.   

the truest and deepest desires of my heart are not to live in a big fancy house or to drive a brand new car.  no, the real desires of my heart are to delight myself in the Lord and watch the growing of my family; to spend as much time as possible with the ones i love and drink in every drop of life while i am here on this earth...and i am grateful, above all, that the Lord knows these things before i do. 



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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

adventures in renting.

okay, so for most of you who read our blog on a regular basis or are friends on fb, you know we are FINALLY returning home to OKLAHOMA!!!  be still my beating heart:)  what a relief that we got out of here giving birth to only one texan!  JOKE PEOPLE.  please don't send me hate mail.  i come from good, hearty stock of oklahoma sooners, so it runs deep.  AND some of my best friends in the entire world are texans...  :)

bryce is starting an oklahoma office for his company and we are moving up there so he can run the office and projects on-site, not 200 miles away.  anyway, that's beside the point of this post...and i know you don't want me to ramble on about how proud i am of him and how i have THE BEST husband on the face of the planet, and that is not up for discussion:) 

since it's been quite some time since either of us have been "renters"  i've decided i'm going to dedicate a good majority of the upcoming posts to the renter, or what i consider someone who needs temporary and non-damaging decor.  my biggest struggle with a rent house is very rarely do you find a property manager that will let you have free-reign to decorate, so my goal is to make this little house that isn't ours feel like it's ours, especially since baby number two will be calling this place home:) 

if you rent or have any design dilemmas, send 'em my way and we'll see what we can come up with together!!  i've already got a THOUSAND ideas running through my mind and trust me, we are NOT those people who have unlimited funds!  we are a one income family and decorating the is the very last thing that gets any monetary love around here.  so on that note, think inexpensive (NOT CHEAP.  i hate the word cheap.  blah.) and out of the box.  some of my ideas are going to use traditional items in non-traditional ways, and you can bet your bottom dollar i'll be churning up dust at all the local thrift stores.  so, if you see me bottom's up in a dumpster, don't judge.  one of my FAVORITE pieces in our entire house was a 1930's antique hutch we pulled out of the dumpster from our storage facility.  boo yah.   

we've had PLENTY of practice in rejuvenating a house and please forgive the HORRIBLE quality of those photos.  this was way-back-when before i had the mad iPhone photo taking skillzzzzzzz.  i've also recently realized there are no pictures of brice's nursery, so i'll try to do a post on that in the next few days (or at least post some pictures).  keep in mind that with the exception of laying the carpet/tile, retexturing our 20 foot ceilings that we scraped the popcorn off of and doing the masonry work for the fireplace we did ALL OF THIS OURSELVES.  new trim, new doors, new hardware, new wood floors, cedar plank mantle...all of it.  and yes i was tired.  so even though i don't have a degree in interior design, i do like to think i have a design-oriented brain and a husband who can build ANYTHING.  :)

okie dokie, here's where we're headed: 

say hello to our new home in edmond!

also, this may be one of the last posts (although it's hardly a post, it's more of a preview) for a while.  between packing, Christmas and moving, the blog will more than likely be neglected.  poor blog, always gets the short end of the stick... 



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Monday, December 12, 2011

hot chocolate cookies.

yes, you read that correctly:  HOT.  CHOCOLATE.  COOKIES.  and yes, it's hot chocolate because we're in the south y'all!  this recipe is amazing and i'm so thankful to pip and ebby for sharing their discovery from the rachel ray mag.

last week, our friends cole and katie had the second annual chili cookoff.  which we will not be discussing the outcome seeing as how the hubs labored and slaved away over what would be a potentially amazing chili, just to let it BURN.  ugh.  i knew i wanted to take something sweet because usually the boys make chili that is so stinkin' spicy it will melt your face off...anyway, i got on pinterest searching for something unique.  i didn't find a recipe that i loved, but i saw a lot of hot chocolate ideas, which got me to thinking, so i searched pinterest for "hot chocolate cookies" and found a yummy recipe.

Now I am not intimidated to try an involved recipe, but when I started reading through it, I knew it was going to be a little more work than I prefer.  Of course my favorite recipes are the dump, stir and bake kind, but this does not fall into that category. 

here is the original recipe, and my "real-life-i-have-a-13-month-old-tugging-at-my-leg-and-hubs-is-at-work-so-i-have-no-reinforcements" adjustments are in italics.  i mean feel free to go through the extra leg-work if you prefer, but anytime i can cut down on prep, i do it.  first of all, take note that this dough needs to be REFRIGERATED FOR AT LEAST AN HOUR and requires your eggs to be room temperature, so make sure you give yourself adequate time.  i'd say from start to finish you're looking at about a two hour time frame.  alright, here we go...

1.  In a medium saucepan, melt together:
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 12 oz. chopped semisweet chocolate (bars)
    • chopping semisweet bars?  puh-lease.  use ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate chips.  it all gets melted together anyway. 
  • Stir frequently over medium heat until smooth. Let cool for 15 minutes.

2.  In a medium bowl, whisk together:
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

3.  Using an electric mixer, beat together:
  • 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Beat on low speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Mix in the cooled chocolate mixture just until blended. Add the flour mixture in 2 batches, mixing on low speed until just combined. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour.
    • cover your dough so it doesn't get that yucky, crusty film on it.  eww. 

4.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. F.
  • Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
    • DO NOT USE WAX PAPER.  what's the difference?  wax paper is coated in, well, wax.  it melts and affects the flavor of your food.  btw, if you've never used parchment paper, i'm going to go ahead and say you're welcome:)  totally non-stick and easiest clean up ever
  • Using a tablespoon, scoop the dough and roll between your palms to form 1-inch balls. Arrange about 16 balls 2 inches apart on each cookie sheet, flattening slightly.
  • Bake until the tops of the cookies crack, about 12 minutes.
    • i only baked mine for 10 minutes.  just watch for the cracking.

5.  Meanwhile, cut 7.5 ounces of semisweet chocolate (bars) into 1-inch squares.  
  • Snip 8 marshmallows in half crosswise and stick 1 square of chocolate onto each of the cut sides.
    • again, what's with all the chopping??!  let's show that little gift of the chocolate chip some love!  take your marshmallow, sticky side down and smash it into the chocolate chips or a dark chocolate hershey's kiss, point side down.  it'll work.  i promise...i've used both.  the hershey's kiss is better because it gets way down in the cookie for the ooey-gooey center, but if you don't have any, the chips will be fine.  i'm sure a dark chocolate hershey's square would work too.
    • i also like the jumbo marshmallows better than the medium sized ones because there's more roasted marshmallowey goodness in every bite.  cut each gargantuan mallow into fourths and use that. 

6.  Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and gently press a marshmallow half, chocolate side down, into each cookie. Bake until the marshmallows are just softened, about 4 minutes. Transfer the pans to racks to cool for 5 minutes. 
  • i set my timer for 3 minutes and then busted out the ol' broiler.  DO NOT WALK AWAY FROM THE COOKIES ONCE THE BROILER IS GOING.  watch for the browning of the marshmallows and get those puppies out because they will go from roasted deliciousness to burnt QUICK.  i like the look of the toasted marshmallows and the flavor, but you can do what you prefer.  if you choose not to use the broiler, let 'em go for the full 5 minutes.
  • i also slid the parchment off the pans onto the racks helping with the cooling process.   

7.  Grate 5 ounces of semisweet chocolate over the hot cookies. Using a spatula, transfer the cookies to the racks and let cool. Repeat the process with the remaining dough, marshmallows and chocolate. Bake each batch on a clean sheet of parchment paper.
  • i didn't measure out 5 ounces because i don't have a food scale and to be honest, i don't care.  i just grated my ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate baking bar onto the top of the warm cookie until i thought it was pretty enough.  you could also use a peeler to make small chocolate curls.
  • and i also didn't use a clean sheet of parchment paper each time.  more work, and all i could think about was devouring every single one of these cookies:) 

So, there you have it.  I hope that my little adjustments will help save y'all some time because this cookie is DE-LISH and there's no reason to be intimidated by it.  i'm 99% sure it's my new go-to holiday cookie.  but let's be honest, i'm sure i'll be making it a lot more than just at Christmas:) 

oh and side note:  if you're like me, there is NOTHING better than a warm cookie out of the oven, so even after they cool off pop those bad boys in the microwave for 5-10 seconds.  you can relive the glory all over again...and again...and again:) 

{photo credit pip and ebby.}
the iphone photos turned out pretty ugly, and i just wasn't in the mood to drag out the ol' dslr. 


merry Christmas y'all.  as always, don't forget to love on your families! 


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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

AAAAH.  CHRISTMAS.  my absolute favorite time of the year!!!  i am such a giddy little kid when Christmastime rolls around, much to my husband's annoyment:)

most of the decorations are up and the tyler christmas tradition candles are burning away, filling our house with the smell of the holidays and i absolutely LOVE it.  cue the santa-enduced butterflies and sugar cookie coma...

anyway, here is love bug "helping" with the lights.  i made a BIG mistake by letting her get her grubby little paws all over the lights and ornaments for the sake of pictures because now i can't keep her out of it.  oh well, i think the pictures are worth it and i hope y'all do too:)

here are the stats for the photos in case you're interested:  canon 50 mm lens, 1/80, f/1.8, iso 1600




















merry Christmas y'all!!!  don't forget to take time to ENJOY your family and make memories:)

xo.


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Monday, December 5, 2011

here we go...again.

believe it or not, i actually kept a secret.  well, kind of...

a long time ago, the hubs and i decided a few things:  we want four kids.  we want them to be close together and we want to be done as close to 30 as possible...so, here we go, again:)

i, unlike those other women who get to live in ignorant bliss for a few extra weeks after conceiving, know within two weeks that i am indeed pregnant.  with brice, i was two hours late...yes, you heard me:  TWO HOURS...

anyway, after b, i had also informed my husband that it would be a cold day in you-know-where before i was pregnant in texas in the summer again.  so i gave him two options:  this august or next august and there was no compromising.  as if it's really up to us anyway...we know the Lord will give us children when he pleases to do so:) 

back in august, we went up to visit our best friends amanda and garin.  (for those of you who don't know, amanda is my female counter part.  i think the reason she is my best friend in the history of ever is because she is the girl version of my husband...seriously.)  anyway, we went on a walk and of course, babies came up.  so, i told her i was late and that i knew i was pregnant.  now i hadn't taken a test at this moment, but i knew it.  like i said:  i pretty much know the second it happens...  i didn't want to take a test because we were going home to fort gibson for the weekend and i knew i couldn't keep my fat trap shut and i didn't want to tell bryce the same way i did last time... 

when we got back from our weekend vaca, i figured it was time to take the test to confirm that i was right.  just like last time, positive within seconds.  whew.  okay.  here we go. 

so, i decided i wanted to tell him in a better way and here's what i came up with:


i made b this onesie to tell daddy she's going to be a big sister!
(september 12, 2011)


and, here's his reaction to seeing her new outfit:
i was trying to upload the video directly to the blog, but i don't know how to do that, so for now just bear with me until i figure it out:) 

we kept our secret (well, relatively seeing as how i got busted by a ton of people, mostly for not having an adult beverage at social events...) until brice's birthday party on november the 12th.  my sweet, sweet husband made the most beautiful gift for our baby for her birthday:  a video montage of all the clips i had sent him of her over the first year and we shared that with our family.  at the very end of the movie, we told our entire family brice is going to be a big sister! 

our due date is may 13th, but this baby better come early because my best friend ashley is getting married on the 19th, so that could put a serious kink in my social calendar:)  plus, she's marrying a guy that we absolutely LOVE so even if i'm tottering around like a beached whale, WE WILL BE THERE!


bt2 at 10 weeks 5 days

so, there ya' have it.  our family of three days are nearing an end and we can't wait for this new little nugget to join our party!!  sure hope he or she will enjoy it as much as we do:)



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Friday, December 2, 2011

for my one year old.

oh my sweet brice, how this year has flown by.  you are without a doubt the greatest adventure your father and i have ever embarked on...

your life to date has been documented and shared with so many people and although one day you will probably hate me for it, when you grow up to have your own family, you will understand why i do it.  a good majority of our family and friends do not live near us, but the real reason is life goes so quickly that if i don't document it, i will forget; and i NEVER want to forget every itty, bitty moment i have with you. 

from day one, we learned that you are a GIFT from God, never to be taken for granted, and we know that you do not belong to us:  we are to protect you and mold you in the ways of the Lord for as long as He chooses.  watching you lay in the NICU was by far the most difficult thing i have ever had to endure.  i wanted so badly to pick you up and take you home, to take away your pain and to protect you from every little thing that could bring you harm.  although i still want to do that, i know that it's impossible to do so and that i must trust the Lord because i know that all things work together for good for those who love God (romans 8:28). 

once we got you home, it was very apparent that a baby truly changes everything...and for the better.  you were such an easy baby and with the exception of not sleeping through the night until you were almost six months old, you made the transition into parenthood a breeze for us.  you have always communicated very well and we knew if you were crying it was because you were ready to eat or because you needed a fresh diaper. 

you grew SO quickly that looking back it makes me sick to my stomach.  although i am biased, i have always thought you were developmentally advanced:) 

here's a quick run down of your first year stats:
  • you were eight pounds, five ounces and 20 1/2 inches long.  super chunk!
  • three months:  rolled over
  • four months:  first teeth, scooting
  • five months: sleeping through the night, sitting up on your own
  • six months:  crawling, pulling up on everything
  • seven months: feeding yourself
  • eight months:  playing "chase" and standing on your own
  • nine months:  walking with help, wave bye bye
  • ten months:  walking on your own
  • eleven months:  you can {consistently} sign finish, milk and more, climb up on the couch and into the bathtub (which is scary!).
  • one year:  you weigh 25.6 pounds, are 31 1/4" tall and have a huge head at 19".  you wear size 24 month/2T clothes and a size five shoe.  you are on the cusp of being able to open doors...but i hope it's a while before you really figure that out!  you have 14 teeth and that includes two molars.  you can say mama, daddy, boose da (moose dog), biya (diva), "see" when you want to touch something (especially your books), stay, easy (what you call gramsie's dog captain) and da (dog).  you blow kisses in the most hilarious way that sounds more like an indian pow wow song than a pucker/lip smack.  you love to pop around the corners and try to scare us, the way we do you and bathtime is still your favorite thing:)

you have the sweetest personality with a dash of attitude and are in every single way IN-DE-PEN-DENT.  i hate that you got mommy's temper, but luckily you don't let yours show very often - yet, that is.  you are so inquisitive and into EVERYTHING and although i do get exhausted from picking up after you and trying to keep you from harm, i love to watch you learn and figure things out.  you are such a daddy's girl and you run to meet him when he gets home from work every day.  watching the two of you is truly one of my greatest joys in this life. 

i know that you won't stay little for long, so please understand that when the day comes that you grow tired of mommy trying to hold you or kiss you that i will always see the sweet, little baby that has forever changed me.  you have brought a deeper and truer understanding of what love is.  you have brought a clarity to my life that has shown me what it really is all about: the love of family and living for the Lord.  i promise that every breath of my life will be spent striving to make our family better and stronger, and although i will at times fail miserably, my love for you, your father, future siblings and faith in our Savior will never waiver.  i can promise you that mommy and daddy will ALWAYS be together and will ALWAYS be here for you.  we are your safe place and although there will be times that the growing pains will be difficult, we will always do what we believe is best for you because we love you more than life itself.

my prayer for you is that you will come to know the Lord and love him with all of your being, knowing that a relationship with the Lord brings freedom and joy that nothing else in this life can ever give you.  i pray you keep your sweet, fun-loving spirit that brings a smile to everyone's face.  you are beautiful and perfect and i hope you never forget that. 

i am so excited to watch you grow and become a beautiful God-fearing and serving woman, but I beg you, please don't do it too quickly.

i love you so much my little stinky winkers. 





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Thursday, December 1, 2011

celebrating baby b.

the week following b's first birthday, we spent in oklahoma.  bryce was able to take a few days off work so he could go hunting and we could actually stay and enjoy spending time with family and friends...which never happens!  on november the 12th, we had brice's BIG party in fort gibson at my uncle kent and aunt jackie's house.  their property is gorgeous and they have the perfect layout for big family gatherings!

we were so blessed to be surrounded by our friends and family.  it's a very rare occasion that all of the people we love are in the same place, so that made b's party even sweeter:)

thanks to my addiction to pinterest, i was able to find TONS of ideas for the decor for her party.  i knew since we were having it at jackie's that i wanted to embrace the country/outdoors and also throw a vintage girly twist into it.  luckily, it just so happens that since they've moved into their new house, jackie and kent didn't have room for their GORGEOUS antique dining room set, so we set that puppy up and went to town.  greatness:) 

after everything was said and done and thanks to A LOT of work,  the tally for the decorations was right at $30.  the best thing was that i had a gift card so i think i spent about $10 total, and that was for the fabric bunting.  awesome?  absolutely.  :)

here's a quick recap of the party.  if you want to see all the photos, you can find them on facebook!

marshmallow pops for party favors, sewn streamers, fabric bunting
and the birthday banner thanks to the cricut and my friend leslie!

one foot tall "1" that the hubs made.  there was also a five foot
tall one, but for some reason i totally forgot to take pictures of it!
best thing was they were both made from scrap so they cost about $5
total to make!  woo hoo!  i'm thinking we'll do this every year:)


year of b banner, smash cake and the beautiful walnut cake stand
my hubby made.  he is too good:)


pink ombre cake..that was DELICIOUS. 




brice's birthday crown made by our wonderful family friend, ginger gilbreath.
she sells these, so if you're interested, email me and i'll get you her contact info. 




brice, daddy and mommy

sweet baby.


she was totally freaked out by the singing and all the birthday shenanigans!

i asked janie to put extra buttercream on the cake so she could get extra messy,
but she didn't want anything to do with the cake.  she kept signing finished instead of
eating the cake...figures!


my sweet family. 


one of her three bites of cake...how boring!  :)

we all had a wonderful time at the party and are so thankful for our friends and family who ventured out to celebrate our sweet girl with us.  we are blessed beyond measure and thank God everyday for you who enrich our lives with love and laughter. 



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happy FIRST birthday to my little nugget!

it doesn't seem possible that the first year with our sweet little girl has come and gone.  i swear it was JUST yesterday i was shoving a pregnancy test in bryce's face to tell him we were going to have a baby...

on brice's first birthday, we were in oklahoma to visit our families.  daddy, mommy and b went out to lunch in tulsa before we headed over to celebrate our new niece that will be here in february!  we were so excited to get to share in two pretty big events that day, seeing as how my cousin matt and his wife tara live in virginia and we don't see them nearly enough!  after the shower, we had a small family party at my aunt julie's.  pizza, cake and a few of the people we love the most. 

the marshamallow fondant balls were the perfect size for her little mouth.
she kept pulling them off and popping them in her mouth.


happy first birthday sweet girl.  mommy and daddy love you more than
you will ever know.  thank you for the best year of our lives.




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