There is so much to be grateful for in 2012.  When I look at back at this year in the future, I hope I am remembering the days and experiences that I've represented with my 12 favorite photos.
Our little lady turned one all the way back on February 1.  Her golden birthday.  

Then her big brother turned three about a month later.  He continues to be a major ham in front of the camera...not that I'm complaining in the least. And it was his big year to start nursery school. 

We repeatedly took advantage of the warmer days that involved sun.  
Because in the fall, winter and spring months here in Scotland they can be few and far between.

  This photo is of J#4 tentatively taking steps outside in March...by the end of the year she was running and taking the slide on her own. 

I think my absolute favorite part of 2012 was watching these two develop a sister/brother relationship.  Their random hugs and cuddles are probably the best thing I've seen in my life.  This was the first one where they got together on their own; I was lucky enough to capture it. 

Then came visitors and travel.  

First up, one of my best friends and her husband came for a stay. 

Then came my Mom...

Who also joined us up in Inverness and at Loch Ness (where this picture was taken)

In July we had the opportunity to take a cruise and visit Sweden, Denmark, Estonia and Russia.  Amazing.  Too many photos to choose from.  So... 
The kiddos had to share a bed.  'Nuff said.  

Then just a few weeks later, my brother and his family came to Scotland to see us. 
We all got to make some priceless memories during their visit. 

September was a month for hiking and continued to verify that in fact, 
Scotland does have some beautiful terrains. 

And then we ended out the year with a trip back to Minnesota for Thanksgiving... 
where J#4 got her first manicure.  

And last, a trip to Rome for Christmas. 

Huh.  I'm grateful to have the chance to look back at this year this way.  When you are in the 'thick of it' --with sick kids, a dirty house or cloudy skys--its hard to remember all the highlights, but there have been quite a few.  

I hope you all have a happy new year's eve.  Ours will be quiet, but enjoyable.  

And tomorrow?  My plans and thoughts on 2013.  Here's to making it the best year yet!

# # 



In light of the tragic events that occurred on Friday, its hard for me to think of anything to share.  I've been a bit paralyzed the last few days--by both the events in Conneticut and just plain real life--but one thing remains.


"Patience with others is love, patience with self is hope, and patience with God is faith."                                                                                                                    ~Adel Bestavros

And with that, I want to share link to a photo and words of mine about hope that a fellow blogger is sharing today.  Click on over to Nasreen's blog for her 3rd day of her 12 days of Christmas: Snapshots of Hope.


Vulnerability vs. Complaining?

Just last Thursday I wrote this about 'trying'.  And then this weekend happened.

And that whole idea went in the rubbish bin.
"I have missed out on a lot of freedom because of my fear of rejection.  We may call it "people pleasing," but it is entirely self-serving because it is really all about keeping myself comfortable. Boiled down, it could be more accurately called, "me pleasing".  (Emily Freeman, Grace for the Good Girl Chapter 8)
And I was going to write a little bitty blog post about not having blogging 'mojo' right now, so I'd be taking a break.  But that isn't true. That'd be me fearing what ya'll would think about what I am writing here today.

So this is what is happening...

* *
I've been reading and hearing a lot recently about being vulnerable.  About taking off masks.

I haven't finished Emily Freeman's Grace for the Good Girl: Letting go of the Try-Hard Life yet, and for some reason, I'm not attacking it {even though I LOVE it}.  Probably because I feel like I could have written it.  Seriously. I've highlighted about half of what I've read already.  And I'm guessing that means there is going to be something very revealing for me, possibly life changing, that I'm going to read.  And that makes me just a bit nervous.

And then there was this video by Brene Brown that a very good friend shared with me.

Got me right at the core. It's about 20 minutes long, but definitely worth a watch; and you can be quite sure the next book I read {which I hear is also life changing} will be her Daring Greatly

* *

So I keep finding distractions from finishing Grace for the Good Girl.  And honestly, right now?  It's easy.  Stay tuned for just a sec.

This is where I raise the question:  When does showing your vulnerability and taking off the masks of being a good girl or being 'fine' just change into plain 'ole complaining and whining?  

My husband is out of town.  Both of my kids are sick.  One of them, at least yesterday, was the puking kind.  We don't have a car here so if I had to figure out how to go to the doctor {which since I'm pretty sure they both just have a good 'ole cold/flu combo I won't} it would probably have to be by taxi, because I haven't really made any friends close enough here that I feel like I could call to drive us.  Maybe they could watch one of the kids while I took the other to the doctor.  BUT the kids are sick-and all of my friends have kids, so I can't really ask them to watch my sick kids and risk getting their kids sick.  And then when one is puking?  The other is in the bathroom and needs my help.

And I just wish my mom, or my mother- or father-in-law or brother and sister-in-law where here to help "relieve" me.

And wah, wah, wah....I think you get the idea.   And I could go on, and on, and on. Trust me on that one.

 * *

So I guess I need to keep reading these books.   Maybe at some point they will tell me how to be vulnerable without complaining?

* *

Or how to just let myself be vulnerable without feeling like I'm a doofus.

Because I live in Scotland.  And my husband just has to travel now and then {not be away for months, years or a lifetime}.  And about 350 days a year {my son DOES go to school...sicknesses come in the house} I have two of the healthiest, cutest, smartest kids in the world. 

Why the heck should I even get to be vulnerable {not 'fine'}?  Why do I get to complain?  I shouldn't be allowed.

* *

Okay, so I'm thinking the definitions of vulnerable vs. complaining are fundamentally different.  But when I think of putting myself out there?  It isn't the positive stuff I'm afraid of putting out there; I feel pretty comfortable with doing that.

It's the deep down feelings...the sadness, the frustrations, the anxiety, the feelings of inadequacy...that's what makes me vulnerable.  And that's when I come to the question of where being vulnerable ends and complaining begins.


And now I've decided its okay to not be devouring Emily's book, because I'm joining in over at Wild & Precious for an online book club of sorts, and this week the link up is about chapters 9 & 10, and I'm on chapter 11.  Perfect timing. 
And on Thursday, I'll be joining over at Royal Daughter Designs for Desire to Inspire.  Although I'm not sure how inspiring this post  is.  But, its not a 'fluff' post, that's for sure. 


You gotta get up and try, try, try

I have a love/hate relationship with the online world.

On the one hand--its a great way to share our life.  It's a great way to stay in touch with people.

And then on the other hand? It causes comparison.  It causes me to be consumed by things (which aren't living) or people that aren't living in my house.

It's also a place of inspiration and a source of support.  And for me, its an excuse, a tool for procrastination.

See what I'm saying about the double edged sword that is the interwebs?
"Stop blaming people, circumstances, the devil or even God for things that go wrong, & start being the person God intended you to be!" -Joyce Meyer
I got that reminder above in my facebook feed yesterday.


See what I mean? 

* *

I'm in a 'weird' place right now.  At least my mind is... Surely it has something to do with being away from 'home' during the holiday season, Scotland's short days, and all kinds of other things.  And I really want this little corner of the web to be a happy place.  A helpful place. 

So this is what I'm gonna do.  Here on the blog...and in life.  I'm going get up and try, try, try.  

I've gotta get up and try to live in the moment, and try to be attentive to my daily life and try to live healthily. Daily.  Hourly.

I've gotta be that person that God intended me to be.  

Its about soldiering on.  Because eventually I get into a sunnier, lighter and easier part of life, and look back on this time with fondness.

Seriously.  That's what has always happened to me. 

I know.  I'm an odd duck.

* * 

I'm trying something new this week and linking up with Kat at Mama's Losin' it!  She provides writing prompts on Tuesdays, and hosts a link-up on Thursdays.  The prompt I worked off today was "Take a line from a song you love and turn it into the title of your next blog post. Let the content follow."  The song?  P!nk's Try.  


being thankful for this

I have so much on my mind, I don't even know where to start.

There are memories of our trip back to Minnesota that I want to share.
There are thoughts on family and friends that are like family that I want to share.
There are thoughts on happiness and gratefulness that I want to share.
There are thoughts on living in the moment that I want to share.
There are thoughts about focusing on the most important things in life that I want to share.
There are thoughts on the holiday season that I want to share. 
There are always thoughts and successes dealing with living healthy that I want to share.

But for now?  I'm just going to be thankful that I have this spot to share all those things.

And spend some time collecting my thoughts.
Stick around... I feel a flood of blog posts coming on. 

Source: pinterest.com via Jenny on Pinterest

* * * 

Linking up with Lovely Little Whimsy, the Fontenot Four and Black Tag Diaries for Thankful Thursday. AND Top of the Page for November Thanksliving.


so about these Liebster Awards part 3

Finally, eleven more questions to answer.   Who am I kidding? I'm sure most of you are out shopping your little bums off... but for those of you just hanging out, enjoy!

Just a reminder:  Monday was 11 facts, Wednesday was the 1st set of questions and now one more set from Marci at Life with Joys. 

* *

1.  What is your favorite holiday tradition?  Eek.  I don't think I have one?  It would be more the tradition of foods.  For instance, the awesome cheese spread my mother-in-law makes, the stuffing that my brother (now) makes that is my Mom's recipe, green been casserole at Thanksgiving.  {no wonder I have weight issues, huh?}

2.  Do you prefer heels or flip flops? flip flops.  Oh wow, flip flops.

3.  What is your love language? You know...I really need to read that book.  Once I do, I'll get back to you.  {wink}
4.  Who inspires you to be a better person? My daughter.

5.  What is the craziest thing in your closet? I think there are some tiles in there for the bathroom.  That's sort of weird, huh?

6.  What is your goofiest habit? This one had me stumped...I actually asked my husband.  He said, "too bad you don't still tap the top of soda cans".  I still do, I think-it's a subconcious thing-but I just don't have as much soda any more!

7.  What is your favorite dessert? Dairy Queen Ice Cream Cake, but of course.

8.  Do you prefer coffee or tea? Coffee in the a.m., tea in the p.m.

9.  If you could buy anything for yourself, what would it be? A really nice new larger purse/diaper bag/camera bag combination.

10.  What is your favorite color? Orange. or green.

11.  Describe your favorite outfit? Jeans, always a comfortable pair of jeans & a cozy sweater...those two things would be involved.

Whew...that was fun.  So.  Any other burning questions you have for me?  Ask away in the comments. 


so about those Liebster Awards Part 2

Monday I talked about these Liebster Awards, and told you eleven random facts about me.

Now, I get to answer some fun questions from Amanda at Hooked from Hello.

1. Do you believe in a higher power? Yes, I do.  I believe in God. 
2. What is your favorite pick-me-up song when you are sad? Lately its been "Raise Your Glass" or "Try" by P!nk

3. Favorite form of exercise? Jillian Michael's Ripped in 30; it's like an energy pill for me.

4. Dream vacation destination? Hawaii

5. What age did you have your first kiss? 14.

6. If you won the lottery tomorrow, what would you buy first? A plane & pilot so I can go back and forth between here and the States as much as I want.  Although I'd probably want to fly commercial, so maybe just an unlimited # of airline tickets--first class.

7. What is your favorite animal? There is something I really like about elephants.  And bears.  The cuddly, stuffed kind...of course.

8. What is your favorite book?  Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

9. Favorite subject in high school? Journalism.  Might be because I love writing even way back then...might be because that is where I met my now husband.  {smile}

10. If money were no object, what career would you choose? Youth Group leader

11. Favorite holiday? Christmas, closely followed by Thanksgiving

Guess what? I'll be back on Friday with 11 MORE questions.  Fun times, right?  {wink}


so about these Liebster Awards...

Over the last several weeks I've gotten nominated for a few Liebster Awards. Its an award for bloggers who have less than 200 readers, but should have more.  Thank you to Amanda from Hooked from Hello and Marci from Life with Joys for the nominations! 

What it means?  I get to answer some fun questions & tell you random facts about me so you can all learn more about me.  Fun, fun, fun!  I'm going to break it up...just to continue the fun.  Ha.  Haha.

First up?  11 random facts about me.
  1. I was a cheerleader for our boy's swim team my junior year of high school. 
  2. I'm allergic to the cold {and yes, I'm from Minnesota and plan on moving back there}.
  3. I hate tweezing my eyebrows. They end up looking awful between waxes. 
  4. I was in my 20s before they were ever waxed. 
  5. I collect memorabilia from Hard Rock Cafes. 
  6. We've been known to plan trips based on where there were Hard Rock Cafes. 
  7. My new favorite meal at the Hard Rock Cafe? Fajitas.  Quickly becoming my favorite meal at most restaurants. 
  8. I am finding it extremely difficult to list 11 random facts. 
  9. My biggest pet peeve is the sound of other people whistling. 
  10. Up until about 4th grade,  I wanted to be a lawyer. 
  11. I can't keep a plant alive.  Lucky they don't check on that before they let you take your baby home.  {wink}

Coming soon to a blog near you {well, specifically, this one} the 11 questions Amanda asked get answered!


catching up

It's amazing what two days of being 'off' can do to girl.

'Off' meaning having such a bad head cold it too all of my energy to keep my kids clothed and fed.  Beyond that?  Nada.

I think I may be doing laundry straight thru until December.  {wink}

But, even being under the weather, I was spending a few minutes a whole bunch of time being thankful.

Especially for things like... home grocery delivery.

Neighbor boys and friends for J#3; keeps him busy and there is so much more fun energy in the house.

This would be me capturing my shadow, because it meant it was sunny. Not for long (see the clouds behind the hill?), but still. It was sunny.  That's exciting around these parts.

NFL Season Pass.  Sigh.  Helps make it feel a bit more like a normal Sunday, when we get to watch our favorite football team {the Vikes, obviously}.

It was Guy Fawkes day here in the UK last Monday.  The other words for the day?  Fireworks day and Bonfire day.  We got to see some fireworks from our family room.  Very cool.  Even better was that we were skyping with Grandma, so she got to see them too!

This is my healthy girl.  Loves fruit, veggies, eggs, cheese.  She's definitely teaching me a thing or two about healthy eating.

Num. This is the best taco seasoning ever.  Its from the Netherlands.  Yeah, I know...that doesn't sound right, does it?  But thankful that my husband still gets to travel back there for work now and then so he can pick some up for me. 

How about you?  What have you been thankful for lately?

It's not too late, you could still join us on instagram with #thankfulliving.  And link up here, I'll come find you!


a day in our life

I'm pretty excited today.

It's Wednesday, after all.

What, you don't get excited for Wednesdays?

I have to say it was kind of nice to go to bed last night knowing there was no way there could be a result in the presidential race at that point in the day (seeing as how it was still evening on the East Coast), and then getting to wake up and know that a winner had been decided and we can all move on with our lives. 

Thanksgiving...turkey...stuffing...here we come.  Numnumnum.

Oh!  And the main reason I'm excited?  I'm a guest over at Ashley's blog today.  She is the Domestic Wannabe {and has one of the most adorable daughters in the world}.

So if you want to find out what a day in our life is like?  Head over there and check it out.

A teaser?  It doesn't always include sweets...

AND if you here from Ashley's?  Hello!!!! HI!!!  Here are a few posts that I wrote last fall that really tell my story.  Although, its a never ending story, for now.  So you should stick around to see what happens.  {wink}

Getting to know me:  
Alright folks, there you have it.  Oh, and two more posts to show you a few of my favorite people:

Okay.  Now I'm done.


I mean it.

Have a good day.


hello Monday

Hello Monday.

Hello sun streaming in the kitchen window.
Hello clean, streamlined kitchen.  I'm in a 'minimalistic' mood.  Just in time to go through belongings to take bake to the States for our visit and annual donation to goodwill.  Watch out clothes, bags and shoes...nobody is safe!

Hello to a return to my healthy ways {I sort of took a week off.  Not good.  Not good at all.}
Hello stop light of a food bowl.

Hello nummy scrambled eggs for breakfast.

Hello to starting a new habit...daily multi-vitamins. 

Hello to my new plan for November {this is an iphone wallpaper, feel free to grab it if you'd like}. 

Hello to a continuation of #thankfulliving...
Our weekly trip to Costco.  {Thankful for the costco, thankful for our "team".}

Their laughs.  Always thankful for their laughs. 

Hello #thankfulliving link-up that's still open {will be for all of November}. 

I know I'm finding that I realize I have so much to be grateful for when I see other folks #thankfulliving items and think to myself, 'oh, me too!  me too!'

Instagram, your blog, facebook, twitter.  Where ever you are being thankful--link up so we can all be grateful together.  We use the #thankfulliving hashtag on instagram {i'm jenlives}

Linking up with Lisa Leonard today for 'hello Mondays'.


it's the little things

It's the little things that I capture with Instagram 
{and some big things too, but mostly little}...
like the perfect cup of hot chocolate... 

 grabbing a moment in time with a boy that is growing up too fast...

and his little sister too... 

the little things like peace in the car

and excitedly watching for the next trick or treater
...and the sun.  Oh, the glorious sun.  #thankfulliving

It's the little things that
will someday be the big things.  

The happy memories. 

The moments in time.  

Speaking of time... 
The countdown continues.
Minnesota...here we come. 
Well, only for 10 days.  But that'll do.

 * *

Linking up with:

* *
and here's my little link-up again too.  Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, your blog.  Where ever you please.  Its time for #thankfulliving.  Link up here so we can all be thankful together. 


#thankfulliving begins! {a link-up}

November!  Yay!

Today,  I'm sooo grateful {and excited} to just see November start.
More than I could probably relay in a blog post.

Lots to look forward to the next few months, including, of course, Thanksgiving and Christmas.  A few of my favorite holidays.

I can't wait to see what you are thankful for this month!  Below is the linky tool.

Remember the idea of this movement {for lack of a better word} is to just share what you are thankful for--big or small--each day of November.

And just so we can all find each other, I've got this link-up so you can share your instagram feed or blog address {or Twitter or Facebook profile} where you'll be documenting all you have to be thankful for.  {easy, right?}

If you are linking up your instagram feed, just head on over to Followgram or Webstagram or Gramfeed {or any Instagram web following site} sign in to your account &amp use your profile url.  Can't wait to find you on there. 

If you have a blog, then just go ahead and put your blog address in there! 

And if you have only Twitter and Facebook and want to take part; feel free to share your profile pages for those too!

Now...go do some #thankfulliving!

* * *
I'm linking up this week for Thankful Thursday with Carina at Lovely Little Whimsy and Sarah over at The Fontenot Four and Julia at Black Tag Diaries


change of scenery

I'm excited for our #thanfulliving project to start tomorrow, how about you?
And I am so excited about it, I'm going to start early.  At least here on the blog.

This last weekend we headed up to Inverness for a weekend away.  It was sort of a one year in Scotland over/one year to go until we move back to MN/2 years overseas done kind of celebration.

We stayed at a hotel that we'd been at before that we knew we would like.  So grateful for having a sort of home away from home.  Great for a simple change of scenery, you know?

I've been reading a lot the last few days.  A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller and then this book, Love Does by Bob Goff.  Its going to take me a bit of time to fully digest what I've been learning, and I'm looking forward to sharing some of the key points with you.

But the main point of A Million Miles in a Thousand Years is that we each have the power to make our own stories better; and to live a life that will make a good story. 

Our trip to Inverness wasn't packed with sight seeing; we'd been there before.  But we did check out a new spot, Fort George.  Um.  It wasn't completely exciting.  But the kids left with new {foam} swords, so I think they'll have good memories of it.
 Its evidently one of the most strongly fortified military bases in all of Europe.  It sure had a lot of stone walls, so that I can understand.

J#4 had a new experience.  We skipped the stroller AND the backpack carrier, so she was a walker.
And the bridges got her. 

Back in his day, the bridges 'got' her brother too.  
But now? The brother is learning how to do the 'big brother' thing, and I'm grateful that he is pretty darn good at it.

After we conquered the bridges, we conquered the cafe. 

Meaning that everyone else there finished their lunches and left us alone in the cafe.  So nice of them, right?

So it wasn't an exciting visit. But it was a relaxed, fun visit.  And relaxed & fun is a story I'm happy to write.

And then on our drive home I got to appreciate the colors.  Lovely oranges, reds and greens intermixed among the Highlands.

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