Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas Friends. 


May you enjoy a relaxing, fun holiday with your closest family and friends. 


And may the Peace and Joy of the season last all year long.  


Happy Birthday Jesus!  



Challenge Wednesday #13

Here is Tracey with our regular Wednesday challenge...errr, well, guess it isn't really a challenge this week.  Take it away lady! 

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Back again with another Challenge Wednesday.  Actually, Interview Wednesday.  Last week, Jen asked me this question:

"What are your top three tips for enjoying Christmas, but in a simple, natural or relaxed way?"

Well, for starters, fun is my middle name.  Hee hee.  Seriously, simple, natural, and relaxed is a sort of mantra around here.  It's the reason I Control the Chaos...so our family can enjoy each other and live life.

Despite the mantra, it is easy to get sucked into the stress of the holidays and forget the celebration part.  I hope Jen doesn't mind, but I included four tips instead of three.  Just call me Ms. Over-Achiever.  Yeah, right.

1.  Plan ahead.  We shop for gifts all year round.  This benefits us in a couple ways:  we save money by buying something unique when we aren't under pressure, and we never feel the holiday stress of finishing our shopping at the last minute.

2.  Protect time.  It's precious, and we all know it.  We block days even if we don't have specific plans.  They are for recovery, and it keeps us sane and our kids well rested.  It's easier to do when we are living abroad, but even when we lived in the States we made a visiting schedule and stuck to it.

3. Do double duty.   We home make the gifts for friends, so we use the time it takes to make them as quality family time.  We get everyone involved to some extent, turn on the Christmas music, and make some magic.  Most of our gifts are consumables (read: yummy treats), so we always make a little extra for us.  It is a great way to enjoy each other's company while still finishing up last minute gifts to take to parties.

4. Focus, focus, focus.  Christmas gets bogged down with gifts and visiting people and shopping and and and and and...but our family celebrates the birth of Christ.  We always participate in Operation Christmas Child, because we believe it is important for our children to understand how blessed we are.  Presents don't sit under the tree for weeks taunting the children, and we are highly involved in our church community.  This is about as simple as it gets, folks.  A birthday bash and a celebration of restoration to our Creator.

I hope you and yours have a simple, natural, and relaxed Christmas this year and always.  

And now, Jen, a little birdie told me you tried your hand at a homemade gift this year.  Next week, please tell us what you made, how it went, and how much awesome fun you had giving a gift you made with your own hands.
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Oooh, can't wait to fill you guys in on the gift  I made.  BUT, someone who reads this blog MAY be the recipient, so not a peep until after Christmas!  


It's the little things: a brain. or maybe its bread?

From 'the big picture' yesterday, to the little things today.

Linking up with Lindsay, and making sure to make note of the little moments that I am so grateful for.

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Earlier this week, I dropped J#4 off with her grammy, and J#3 and I had a mother/son date.  That doesn't happen very often.  Or, since J#4 was born, EVER.

So we headed to downtown St. Paul with Lori and her son Tony, a few of our very good friends.   Lori and I were so excited when we started having kids, because our boys ended up being being just one year apart in age {J#3 is younger}. We couldn't wait for play dates.

And then I up and moved on her.

But we DO visit.  So, on this visit, we decided to take the boys to the Children's Museum.  I am guessing I'll have a huge 'ole post about the day, but here are a few of my favorite "little things":
Play in motion. 

They almost make you think they are working together, don't they?  Hehe. 

A brain.  

Or bread?  

I'll let you decide.  Ha.  Haha. 

Oh.  And guess what?  Lori's daughter?  She's only about three months older than J#4.  

Can't wait for our shopping dates.

Although, I am sure our husbands can wait.  Don't ya think? 

Aisle to Aloha


The Big Picture

The other day I was talking with my brother on the phone.  He was talking about all of the excitement in his life--home remodeling, new appliances, kids in sports and more.

And I said, "Well, nothing new here.  Life is pretty boring."

His reply:  "Boring?  You live in Scotland.  Your husband is in the middle of traveling between three different countries."

"Huh," I said.  "Guess you are right.  I don't seem to look at it that way."

"Yeah, you need to look at the big picture."

The big picture.

Huh.  That's a concept.  Perhaps I need to stop getting all caught up in the day to day stuff and remember to live in the moment and look at the big picture.

Now: spending time with family and friends.
In a few weeks: discovering Scotland.

And when I look at the big picture?  I need to be thankful.  Very, very thankful.

That brother of mine?  He's a smart guy.

And a fun Godfather too.

The Fontenot Four


Challenge Wednesday #12: I answer a fitness question?!


You better go check it out at Tracey's blog, because I find it to hard to believe that I could answer a fitness question.

But it's true.  Hehe.

Happy Wednesday!


Have you ever?

Have you ever checked out Bloglovin?

My google reader has gotten a bit out of hand, but I do check through it for: the blogs I consider must read, interesting titles, or posts specific to whatever topic is closest to my heart at that moment.

But the must reads?  The blogs I have to read as soon as there is a new post? I thought I would try to use Bloglovin to keep track of them.

And then I found out that you could "claim" your blog on Bloglovin.  So, that's what I'm doing {and the reason that I happen to be writing this post}.  Follow my blog with Bloglovin

SO, back to the blogs that I just HAVE to read.  You know the ones, right?  The ones like Meg's, and Kelle's and Edie's.

Have you ever wondered how that happens?  How those specific blogs become "the" blog to read?  I do.

I have to think it has something to do with their mad writing skills and awesome photos.

Seeing as how it is 11 p.m. on Friday night, I am guessing that this post is probably a fail in the "mad writing skills" department, but maybe this photo can earn me a point or two in the "awesome photos" category?

And just for the cuteness factor {even with the low resolution}, maybe this photo could garner a few more points?
Have you ever seen such a cute 10 month old girl?  Oh, I'm sure you have.  But I sure haven't.

Okay...well...maybe her brother....about 23 months ago.

{Insert extreme sarcasm here} But I'm not bias or anything.


Challenge Wednesday #11: Question's cont'd!

It's Wednesday.  Again.  Funny how it comes around every week, isn't it?

But, I've got it easy this week.  Here's Tracey with our Wednesday challenge, which is a question {since we decided to take it easy on the "challenges" during the holiday season}.  Smart, right?

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Last week, Jen asked me this question:

What is the one thing about entering this blog world that has surprised you the most? 

And this week, I get to hop on over and answer it.  The answer to this question is simple, because I am still surprised and amazed by it every day.

When I first started writing Control the Chaos, I wrote it as a way to keep track of the ideas in my head and a place to put into action the life changes I wanted to make.  My family has always been on board, but I have been the driving force on this adventure.

I never once thought that people would be interested in my own story. On how I got here, to this place in my life where I am writing about simple, intentional living, and about all the things that entails.  

Fitness, family, food.  Fun.

It goes on.  Of course, I am happy that people like what I have to say about these topics, but I'm shocked that they are just as interested in my journey to get here.  I still struggle with that sometimes.  I tend to keep my blog somewhat impersonal; I have only recently begun putting up photos of my family or talking about our lives.

What I am learning is that people enjoy stories.  We always have, and likely always will.  It's how we understand those around us, and it's often how we define ourselves.  I too gravitate towards blogs that tell me a story, even as I'm searching for the best recipe to make my own deodorant or granola bars.

It's in our nature, and keeps this blog world going.

Thanks for the thought provoking question, Jen.  Next week, I'd like to know

what was the hardest part of your 5k training and how did you keep motivated to continue in spite of it?

I have a few fitness readers, and I'd love for you to share your thoughts on starting and sticking to a new fitness routine.

Tune in next week at Control the Chaos to read Jen's answer.
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Eeek!  Guess I won't have it so easy next week!


Tuesday Top 10: Home Sweet Home

No worries.  This is NOT another post about the many homes we have lived in.

When I say "home" in this post...it is a bit more general, as in "Minnesota".  Where I have lived 30 of my 33 years of life {Funny, I almost typed 32 of my 35 years.  How can I age myself so easily, when I keep thinking that I am still 32?}

We {meaning J#2-J#4} are here in Minnesota for an extended visit.  Even though we have only missed one winter here, I may have forgotten how cold it gets.  And I may have said to J#1 that we could just head back to Scotland with him when he left...but I was totally kidding.

I do that sometimes. And how could I even say that?  We are so unbelievably blessed and lucky to have this opportunity.  I need to be thanking God {oh, and J#1 too, I guess} every day for the chance to get all of this quality time with family and friends.

I need to count our blessings.  Which are unlimited.  But, since this is just a blog post..and it is Tuesday...

Here are the top 10 things about being home in Minnesota {in no particular order}.

#1.  Snow?
Yup.  Snow.  Just went out and got some snow pants and boots for J#3 yesterday.  And can I just say...$24.99 for boots? For a 2 year old?  Geez.

#2. Favorite restaurants...with friends, of course.
I wish I could get to the point where I was gusty enough to take photos inside of places.  You should see the inside of this place.  When I am there, I feel like I have been picked up and placed in New York City. Dreamy.  And the big, fluffy snowflakes falling? Definitely added to the beauty of the evening.

#3.  Movies...also with friends.

Breaking Dawn, Part 1.  Sigh.  I know they had to end it somewhere, so there could be a part 2, but...well.  I don't know.  Don't know where else I would have wanted them to end it.  But, I guess maybe I just didn't want it to end.  {wink}

#4.  Christmas cookies with who? Friends.
Ooops.  I might have started eating one.  Pretty sure it was broken.  {wink}.  Oh!  And do you see my mustard, ketchup & relish cookie?

#5. Having a baking assistant.
...And a nice BIG kitchen to bake in for a change.  But having the baking assistant (a.k.a.  my mom) was awesome.  Good company, she washed dishes and measured out the ingredients.  I almost felt like I could be on a cooking show.

#6.  Fun cousin moments.
J#3 went on to try and put his cousin B "to bed" several times.  Complete with a good night kiss.  Unfortunately, I was either too slow...or too quick, to get the money shot of the actual good night kiss.  And we may have tried to stage it quite a few times.  Guess I better get a quicker trigger finger!

#7.  Caribou Coffee.
Nuff said.

#8.  Living in a hotel.
Sort of seems like an oxymoron, right?  Being "home" but in a hotel?  But, it works pretty well for us, and provides routine for the kids.  Plus: no cleaning, full breakfast provided and a pool.  Need I say more?

#9.  Getting to see my niece E show off her mad gymnastic skills.

#10.  J#3 helping Grandma decorate her Christmas tree.  Priceless.

Linking up this week with:

Nicole @ Miss Mommy {who, when I win the lottery, I will by flying to Canada}

Amanda @ Oh Amanda

Top Ten {Tuesday}


So...which hairstyle???

First of all...have you ever lost your mojo?  Your blogging mojo...your mommy mojo...your work mojo...any kind of mojo?  I did. But good news...  It's back.  Must have been that Caribou Coffee I had this morning.  {wink}  On a complete side note, I can't believe I have been in Minnesota for 12 full days, and I just had my first Caribou Coffee today!

But anyways....on to the real reason for this post.

Do you remember back in October, when I asked for your thoughts on a new hairstyle?  You don't?? Well then click here.

If you don't want to use an extra click though,  in short, there were 10 different choices, and most of the comments liked #1:

This is actually a fellow blogger over at Sunshine Blossoms.  {You should probably check her out. She's got a fun blog.}

I took all the options to my stylist, and then just sort of let her do with it as she wanted.  I mean, that is her specialty, right?

And I went from this:

to this:

So...what do you think???

I'll tell you what I think.  I seriously need to get better at taking photos of myself in the mirror.  {wink}

Oh, and FYI. Mojo return did NOT occur with the haircut.

Just in case you were wondering.  Which...I bet you weren't.

Happy Monday peeps!


Bucket List Update: Participate in an organized sporting event? Check!

I have to admit something.  This item on my bucket list?  I was sure that it would be something that would happen YEARS from now {sort of like the African safari}.

Then I remembered the Couch to 5K program and wrote about it on Facebook, asking if anyone had done it before.  People had, and loved it, so I decided to take the plunge {and then waited a few months to actually start it}.

And I urged my friend Sonja to work it along with me, so we could encourage each other.  We caught up in person this past summer and decided, "Hey! Lets run a 5K on Thanksgiving!"
pre-race {that would be why I don't look exhausted}

Because that would be good enough incentive to go through the Couch to 5K program, right?  

Well, enter a move from the Netherlands to Scotland and a husband who traveled quite a bit and I ended up cramming the last four weeks of the program into two.  But I finished it.  

And have begun to enjoy running.  
next time we are totally wearing turkeys on our head.  or something.  there was a pilgrim couple too--adorable. 
the starting line.  see that building that says "st. louis" on the side of it? that is the office I worked in right before we
moved.  I got a kick out of that being where the starting point was.  loved it, actually.  

So, we didn't run the whole thing.  I am chalking that up to:  a. being about 36 hours off a plane from Amsterdam {and 16 hours of travel}, jetlag and children with jetlag {i.e. getting up at 4 AM}, and the start of a cold. 

Enough about the excuses though.  I am going to keep training, and the next time we do this?  Running the whole thing. 

But, we did do a few things that make me very proud:  finished running, didn't finish last {seriously, there was probably 1/2 mile of walkers/runners behind us}, finished under 1 hour, and had an AWESOME time just talking and getting to know each other again.  
Post run {/walk}.

And no matter what anyone says?  

Facebook rocks.   

So there.  

Oh, and if you are curious about couch to 5K?  Click here to check out a great website that describes it.  And there are apps galore for your iPod, iPhone, etc. 

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How about you?  Has Facebook made anything surprising possible for you?  Have you done the Couch to 5K program?  How did you like it? 


Challenge Wednesday #10: Question time

Hey friends!  So, with the busyness of the holidays upon us, Tracey and I decided to take it "easy" on the challenges.  So, instead...we are going to use the next several Wednesday's to interview each other.  We jumped right into challenges, but thought it would be great for you all to learn more about us.  And not just the easy stuff, like our hair color {although that might be a hard question for me to answer} and favorite colors, but questions that will hopefully help you to really get to know us. 

Tracey got to start.  So, here we go... {and who knew this could even be MORE of a challenge than some of our other ones?}

Jen, what is the #1 priority for you to succeed in living an intentional life and why? 

Click on over to Tracey's blog, Control the Chaos to see my answer.

Come on.  Do it.  You know you want to.  :-) 


Tuesday Top 10: I am...

Nicole over at Miss Mommy took a little different spin on the Tuesday Top 10 this week.  And I love it.  So I am copying her...although she sort of asked us to.  ;-) So, I don't feel guilty. 

I am _____ right now:

I am - content.  I love being in Minnesota and seeing scenes like this: 

J#4 with her cousin E, after  my niece and nephews' band concert last night.  just love it.

I wonder - what the next two years will bring.

I see - my two little babies growing up WAY to fast. 

J#4, with NO practice at home, has taken to climbing stairs...everywhere!

I want - some new clothes.  I know...shallow.  But true.  ;-) 

I pretend - that I know what I want in life.  When really? I have NO idea. 

I worry - That I am not a good enough mom.

I cry - because I broke the glass screen on my iPhone.  

I hope - that I can REALLY make 2012 my year of "becoming healthy"

I dream - of a day when I have it "all together"

I feel - hopeful.  {Most of the time.}

Linking up with Miss Mommy, check her out! 


Bucket List Update: Write a book? Check!

So...I am pulling myself away from The Hunger Games to give you a bucket list update.  You're welcome.  {wink}

I have been sucked into the series, and am just starting the third book.  Have you read these books?  Awesome, I tell you.  Simply awesome.

There is a movie coming out next year.  The trailer gets me even more excited about the books, and now I have real life people that I can imagine as the characters.

So tell me,  does it happen to you?  Do you get sucked into characters to a point where you can't pull yourself away from the book?

Maybe someday it will be my book that pulls you in, and won't let you move on with your day until you finish it.  Cause, peeps?  Its true!  I wrote a book.
Looks like my "winner's certificate" doesn't have my name on it, but I really did write more than 50,000 words.  It is about 140 pages (8 1/2 x 11 paper).

A brief synopsis:  Betsy is at a crossroads in life. She feels like something has to happen in her fourteen year old marriage, or they are headed for disaster. Little did they know, they were headed for disaster, but in more of literal sense than she was expecting.

So, now on to proofreading, checking dates and such, and essentially just making the book a whole bunch better.  Then...who knows?  

Maybe someday I'll be helping producers and casting directors find just the right actor to play Betsy.   

A girl can dream, right? 


Where am I today?

Well, in Minnesota for an extended visit.  Enjoying trips to Target, the best pizza that I have missed so much, and being with family and friends.

Oh, and I have so much to tell you about.  TWO, count 'em--TWO, things that I have been able to check off of my bucket list in the last week.  Here is a hint to one of them...

But that's not the point of this post.  You're going to have to wait to hear more about those things.  Oh, and plus!  Remember this post, where I asked you how I should get my hair styled???

Well,  "I got my hair did" last Wednesday, so I'll show you the results!

So stay tuned this week...but for now, I am guest posting over at Miss Mommy.  She is the wonderful Canadian who is now living in Australia.  Australia?!??!  Lucky woman.  Plus, she has two adorable little girls and is a talented and honest writer.  Love her.  So stop over.

THERE IS EVEN A GIVEAWAY!!  My VERY first.  So please check it out.  Who wouldn't want a giftcard to Etsy?

Alright friends, enjoy your Saturday!  We'll talk more soon, 'kay?

And if you are new, visiting me from Miss Mommy?  Welcome, glad to have you!! Please take a look around, and say hello.  I'd love to say hello at your bloggie homes too!


I'm a dreamer...

Hello everyone!

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your friends and family.  I sure did...plus, I was able to check something off of my bucket list!  But more on that soon...

First, today I am guest posting at Heather Boersma's site.  Talking about my big dream to be a writer.  Have I been successful?  More on that soon too.

So stop over at Heather's place to see what I have to say!



J#4's birth day

J#3 turns 2

amsterdam, and the keukenhof

Source: etsy.com via Jenny on Pinterest

Easter, family photo success

playing with photo booth


nephew #1.  godson. 
nephew #2 and niece

friends.  old and new.  forever.


and even more family.


"sweets" standing & smiling.
I hope you all enjoy relaxing and a few fun days with those who you care about the most and make you happy. Be it just your honey, or a huge extended family...either way, I hope you appreciate their presence.

I am spending the day doing a 5K {my first!}, and having probably TWO huge meals with all the fixens'.

Lucky I'm starting the day with run, right?  {wink}
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