Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Kensi's first Christmas was much more than we could have imagined! We started our family traditions by going to 5pm mass at our church. We knew we needed to arrive early, but 25 minutes early was too late. Our church was jammed packed with people standing and sitting in the hallways! Regardless of all the people it was awesome to see so many celebrating Christ's birth. 

We then picked up some coffee at the one and only Starbucks that was open past 5pm on Christmas Eve and hit the neighborhoods to check out the beautiful lights.

Once we got home, we ordered a little take out, found Santa's Elves left Kensi new penguin jams and settled into the couch until Little Miss fell asleep so Santa could come and visit.

Mike was so excited for Kensi's first Christmas that he was up at 5:30am....a little early for me! I literally had to drag Kensington out of bed at 6:30, once she was up she was nothing but smiles!

Santa left her some very fun toys and lots and lots of teethers in her stocking to help with soon to be arriving teeth and some bath toys.

After we did our own gift opening we headed to Mike's parents to dine on biscuits & gravy and cinnamon rolls....yum! 
For the afternoon and evening we came back home to celebrate with my family. The kids did a gift exchange and the adults did a White Elephant.
By 9pm we were absolutely exhausted! Even though Kensi had 3 great naps during the day, she could barely keep her little eyes open. It was truly a Christmas we will always remember. 

Monday, December 24, 2012


Today is our FAVORITE day of the year! Christmas Eve to us is so unbelievably magical....we enjoy today more than Christmas Day itself.
Today we have our Christmas music blasting, baking goodies, going to Christmas Eve mass, then grabbing our hot cocoa & cruising through the neighborhoods to adore all the beautiful light displays. To top is off, it's been snowing here in Omaha off and on today, now it can't get better than that!
 We've been busy this past week and trying to spend every second we can with our little family. 
We hope you have a very joyous holiday and a very Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 22, 2012


The first snowstorm of the season is alway very exciting for us! When we lived on our own we would totally do a snow dance in hopes of a snow day. We loved being snowed in (with electricity), we have a full out camp out in our living room filled with movies, snacks and tons and tons of blankets and pillows!
This past Wednesday we had our first snowstorm and definitely had a snowday on Thursday. We spent our night baking shortbread dipped in chocolate and watched Arthur Christmas on the iPad (we lost power around 10pm). Thursday was filled with lots of snow shoveling as we couldn't get out of our driveway at all. 

Once we lost power....Kensi's first snowstorm :)

Our Winter Wonderland we woke up to Thursday morning.

If you follow us on Instagram (@rmbraden09) you saw a few of the photos I took of Kensi during our snow day. She modeled her little owl hat and then became super crabby---but still oh so cute!

Friday, December 21, 2012


Age: 6 Months

Weight: 15 lbs 15 oz
Height: 26.5 inches long
Firsts: Plane Ride, Pigtail (although sometimes it make her look like a unicorn!)
Events: 1st Thanksgiving, California Trip
Travel: Oxnard, California
Foods: Rice & Oatmeal cereal. Loves squash, green beans, avocado & cauliflower! HATES applesauce.
Favorite Toys: Crinkle book, sensory bottles & singing snowman.
Favorite Thing to Do: Chew on paper or anything that's not a 'toy'.
Sitting Up: YES!
Rolling Over: Yes, from back to tummy and now tummy to back.
Crawling: SO CLOSE! She's up on all fours and rocking.
Walking: Nope
Smiling: Yes and more laughing, giggling.
Talking: She loves to imitate our sounds. Constantly saying 'mmmmm', fake laughing and coughing to get attention.
If talking, what words: No
Sleeping Through the Night: Not anymore---She wants to eat ALL THE TIME!

Kensington was SO wiggly while I took her photo, I was nearly crying from laughing so hard once I looked back at some of the shots I got. I honestly couldn't decide which picture to use, too many were just too cute and hilarious!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


When I wrote the Praying post a couple days ago, it was so hard to come up with even a few words to express the pain we felt even hundreds of miles away. I don't know anyone personally involved in the tragedy, but the heaviness on my heart and my husband's has kept us up at night thinking about all those lost, their families and the community.

My dad came across this beautiful poem sent to him via email yesterday. I know this poem has traveled everywhere and I can only hope it brings others as much peace as it did me. 

One of our favorite lines in this poem written by Cameo Smith is "Let My power and presence re-enter this land!" We pray that our government leaders will be courageous and step up to help put God back in our schools, government and communities.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


AHHH.....So unbelievably esatic for Kensi's Christmas room!!! I went with "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" theme-ish sorta thing with red, green and pink.

We found this adorable felt striped garland at Paper Source (another favorite store!) while we were visiting California.

 Her book nook was updated with all Christmas books.

I was also excited to add the Elf on the Shelf to her room. Of course our little elf doesn't move because Kensi does not understand the story, but it does add another whimsical touch to her room.


As I was roaming through the aisles of Michael's I literally stumbled upon wide glitter craft tape...that's removable! I went to town taping up the matting on her frames and replaced her prints with copied pages from the book, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and a couple I created myself in photoshop.

I love decorating with reindeer! Mike and I have had these two Rodney stuffed animals for years. The one on the right was Mike's when he was little and it means a lot to be able to use it for Kensi now.

I swapped out her sheets for a festive red, that can also be used to carry into February for Valentines....always stretching our dollar as much as possible.

Don't worry, I didn't get rid of her cute poms, again just switched it up for winter with some handmade paper snowflakes!

Sunday, December 16, 2012


Our hearts are so very heavy with the horrific tragedy that took place in Connecticut this past Friday. We are praying for all the families hurting and praying to God to help us forgive. 
Please be thankful wherever you are for your children, hold them tighter, enjoy their presence and show them all the unconditional love you can. 

Friday, December 14, 2012


We get so excited for Christmas in our house, especially for Christmas books! I do really miss teaching especially during the holidays because we would decorate our classrooms and our shelves would be FULL of some of the best books for kidlits! It was such an awesome feeling. At my old preschool we would have a Snuggle Up and Read day, full of books read by parents as 'guest readers', pajamas and cocoa....such a cozy day....something I'd love to do with Kensi as she gets older.

Sometimes when we need a little time out of the house, we will venture to Barnes & Noble bookstore. I have always gone straight to the children's book corner and I love having Kensi now to take with me so I don't look like a creeper! I can spend hours upon hours in the children's section reading book after book.
If you've even been to the children's book corner in any book store, it can be very overwhelming because there are just so many books and you can never know what book is really good until you read through it....or you could ask a book lover, like me!
I've shared many book lists for you and I'm super excited to share some of our favorite Christmas books! I know the 25 Days of Books is very popular this year, and I actually have a couple friends who are doing that with their kids. It's a great idea to introduce new books especially for the Christmas season. We chose not to do that this year, because we wanted to do it when Kensi could understand and appreciate such a fun tradition. And it's not something we would do every year (maybe some would) because after three years, there's no way we would be able to read 75 Christmas books, unless we decided to wrap up old books and toss in a couple new ones here and there.

Okay, now I'm starting to ramble! Here are some of our favorite Christmas books for kidlits, not winter books, Christmas books!
Let me just say again, yes we adore Duck & Goose! The illustrations are so stinkin' cute you could seriously just eat them up! 
We also threw in some of our favorite books about the real reason for the season. 
You'll see me recommend Olive again for Valentine's Day in a month or so....I originally bought this with the CD and had my preschoolers start the CD and take turns being the 'page turner'....they L.O.V.E.D Olive to DEATH! 
All books written by Laura Numeroff are a win-win. You cannot go wrong with her because she is such a talented author. 
Lastly, I stumbled on The Gingerbread Pirates in a fellow classroom two years ago....this book is not only holy cow creatively cute, but it's perfect for little boys!

1. Olive, the Other Reindeer by J. otto Seibold
2. If You Take a Mouse to the Movies by Laura Numeroff
3. The Gingerbread Pirates by Kristin Kladstrup
4. Duck & Goose: It's Time for Christmas by Tad Hills
5. You Are My Miracle by Maryann Cusimano Love
6. What is Christmas? by Michelle Medlock Adams

And some others great Christmas books....

7. Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous Christmas by Jane O'Connor
8. Home for Christmas by Jan Brett
9. Snowmen at Christmas by Caralyn Buehner
10. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
11. A Pirate's Night Before Christmas by Phillip Yates
12. Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson
13. Olivia Helps with Christmas by Ian Falconer
14. The Night Before Christmas by Rachel Isadora
15. Christmas Lights by Marion Dane Bauer

Thursday, December 13, 2012


My little baby is growing so fast! About a month ago or so we let her sit in the shopping cart like a 'big girl', I was so excited for her, but at the same time my heart broke. She's definitely not a teeny tiny baby anymore.

Needless to say, she loved sitting in the cart, but I was a little grossed out thinking about the germs crawling around on the cart. I am one that thinks exposure to germs is good and necessary to an extent, but when Kensi wants to suck on the handle of the cart - that's where I draw the line!
I started hunting for a washable cart cover and found a 3-in-1 Cart & High Chair Cover by Itzy Ritzy.
The covers can come in adorable prints, and yes instead of buying one that's more neutral, I totally went girly! (Actually bought the one in the picture above, called Fresh Bloom). It fits really nicely on all the carts we've tried, even the new Target seats that are a little deeper than normal, along with the double seat carts at Costco. I have yet to try it on a high chair, but that will only be a matter of time!
I also love that it has 3 fabric loops to hook on toys, rings or even binkys (she seems to love throwing those all over the place), along with a pocket in the back to hold smaller items. Of course when I hook toys on it, Kensi is always more interested in the excess strap that holds her in because it's extra long, but since it's our very own strap that I get to wash whenever I want, I don't mind that she chews on it.
The only problem that we currently have, which will change soon, is that Kensi is still wobbly when she sits up and often leans to one side of the cart. The strap only goes under her arms and I've seen other cart covers that have the straps go over the shoulders...but here's the she grows, how much is she going to fight me and whine about having the straps like that? Most kidlits don't like it. So in the mean time, I shove an extra blanket next to her and call it good!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


It's never quite Christmas without some delicious smells filling the air. Of course baking with totally do that for you, but if you're not a baker or just happen to not be baking one day, try this simple stove top simmer.
When I was little my mama would frequently brew this stovetop concoction during the fall and winter months...yes not just up until Christmas....all winter long!

Winter Stovetop Aroma
2 Cinnamon Sticks
1/2 Teaspoon Nutmeg
1/4 to 1/2 an Orange (sliced-amount will depend on the size of your saucepan)
1/4 to 1/2 an Apple (sliced-amount will depend on the size of your saucepan)
Enough water to fill pot 1/2 way.

Put everything into the saucepan or a small CrockPot and fill 1/2 way with water. Keep temperature on low. Keep an eye on the water level so nothing burns. 

Happy Smelling!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Yesterday we were busy busy busy making those crazy good smelling Cinnamon Ornaments for our trees. We made mini stars for Kensi's tree and larger reindeer (9 to be exact!), trees & gingerbread men for our family tree.

While these suckers were baking, the smell literally woke my dad from his nap. Our oven still smells like cinnamon, but I'm not complaining ;) 
The recipe is ridiculously easy, but I do have a few helpful tips for anyone wanting to make them.

1) You need a lot of cinnamon, don't use Penzy's for this....too expensive for these. We bought the store brand from Target, although the picture below only shows one bottle of cinnamon, I bought two and still needed a little more.
2) If you have any allergies or have sensitive skin, wear some gloves. Mixing with your hands is a must and the cinnamon (3 cups worth) can begin irritating your skin if you're super sensitive.
3) This is a 2 day project. The ornaments need to bake for about 1-1/2 hours then need to sit to finish drying out overnight.

I looked at a few different recipes, including the ones on Pinterest, but I doubled my ingredients and added a few extra spices.

This recipe has already been doubled and makes about ----- cookie ornaments.

Cinnamon Ornaments
2 cups Applesauce (plain)
3 cups Cinnamon
1/2 Tablespoon Nutmeg
1/2 Tablespoon Ground Cloves
1/2 Tablespoon All Spice

In a large bowl mix applesauce and cinnamon together. You will need to eventually use your hands. 
(Be aware cinnamon powder will fluff up EVERYWHERE!)
Add the Nutmeg, Ground Cloves & All Spice. You may need to add a little more applesauce in order to thoroughly mix everything together. Make sure there are no wet spots in your dough. 
Dust your work space & rolling pin with cinnamon and roll out your dough to 1/4 inch thick and use any shaped cookie cutters. Use a straw or a skewer to pierce a hole in the top of ornament (this is where the ribbon will go to hang it). Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 200 degrees F for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
(If you make little tiny ornaments check them after 45 minutes so they don't crack).
Remove from oven, place ornaments on a cooling rack and leave them overnight.
Now comes the fun part!
Get out your glitter and glue and start decorating the ornaments however you like, just don't forget to add a ribbon or kitchen twine so they can hang.

These are perfect for kids to make as gifts for Grandparents or a great finishing touch for a gift of homemade goodies. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012


As soon as we got back from California, we HAD to pick out our tree. We get a real tree every year, if you haven't done this before let next Christmas be your first. It's so much fun making a day of it, driving to the tree farm/store and picking that year's family Christmas tree. Some years we've been totally ripped off and other years we barely make it home with the tree still tied down to our car....but that's the fun of it!
This year, Kensi got a real mini tree just for her room! You can see it slightly in the back seat.

When I was little my dad, two of my brothers and I would hunt for our tree every year. We have high ceilings so we'd always get a tree around 15-ish feet (no joke!). We would drive all over the area from tree farm to tree farm looking for "the family Christmas tree." It was something we looked forward to every year. So when Mike and I got married, we decided we had to do the same thing!
We have so much fun getting ready for the Christmas season. Christmas music and dancing are a must while we decorate, along with coffee or hot cocoa!
These two were so cute. Mike was dancing with Kensington to Christmas music and she recently started giving kisses and slapped one right on his lips!

Kensi made sure to help with decorating.

We have red and white lights on our tree along with bulbs, felt snowflakes and some very personal ornaments that are very dear to us. 
Whenever we go on a trip we always pick up an ornament from the city to put on our tree. 
We have a snowman made from seashells that came from Seal Beach, CA.
A glass palm tree decorated with Christmas lights from Sarasota, FL.
Glass blown ice skates from when we skated at the Rockefeller Center in New York City.
And there are a few others too.

Kensi LOVES the tree and I've waited forever to see the reflection of twinkle lights in our child's was seriously one of the most breath taking things I have ever seen. 
I was also able to show Kensi her very first snow fall! It didn't stick, but she was mesmerized by it!

To finish....a picture of our adorable little Mistletoe herself!
Did I mention I am obsessed with hats and tights on babies...cutest ever!

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