Breakfast at the North Pole


North Pole Breakfast

What a time we had at our North Pole breakfast! Saturday morning we welcomed a long line of jammied children to celebrate the season with us at our very own North Pole. It even looked like the Santa’s land out the window as heavy fog sat low over the water and large pieces of ice floated against the rocky shore.

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We served plates of ‘Santa hat’ mini pancakes, ‘snow ball’ donut holes, lefse from Mrs Claus (a must for this Scandinavian family), and egg casseroles made from ‘North Pole chickens, of course.’

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We served hot chocolate with giant marshmallows…

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and an assortment of coffees and teas for the grown ups.

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We also had ‘reindeer food’ with Cheerios, mini marshmallows, red & green M&M’s, golden raisins, and pretzel sticks.

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Oh, and we had little foam reindeer noses so kids could be their very own Rudolph!

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Along with their reindeer noses, the kids shook a jingle bell on a string, which of course sounded just like Santa’s sleigh!

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The party began with all the little ones gathered around the coffee table to color North Pole pictures and decorate foam ornaments.

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In all, I think we had about 20 kids under the age of 5 1/2 and a dozen parents. It was a very festive morning!

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Sammy baby absolutely loves parties!

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After coloring and breakfast, we gathered in the living room for a story. We talked about Santa and the fun at Christmas, and then we talked about why we celebrate Christmas at all. The kids were very excited to shout out, “It’s Jesus’ birthday!” And with that, we read The Newborn King, a beautiful book I found a couple years ago that tells the Christmas story right out of the book of Luke. After the story, we passed out the jingle bells and reindeer noses and got busy making reindeer food!

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The older kids loved the photo booth.


So did the grown ups!

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It was such a fun morning. Even though Pete had just finished an overnight shift in the ER, he was bright-eyed for the party. We just might have to make this an annual event! (Though after next year, we’ll need to continue it in Kenya!)

Merry Christmas


I’m excited to announce that we have a winner from our giveaway of Ann Voskamp’s book Unwrapping the Greatest Gift! Hilliary H will be receiving a copy of the gorgeous book, a perfect way to prepare for Christmas through the Advent season. Thank you to everyone who participated. Our one year ‘blogiversary’ is just a few weeks away, so make sure you are around for a big giveaway at the first of the year! Congratulations, Hillary!


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Party resources:
in case you’re interested in having your own Christmas/North Pole party!

little red & gold Christmas ornaments
red glittery candles
paper coffee cups with lids
foam ornaments & stickers

Hobby Lobby:
jingle bells
red & white bakers twine
Santa mug

Sam’s Club:
mini pancakes

foam clown noses
The Newborn King (though I can now only find the board book)

Happy Christmas printable party package
Home Is Wherever I’m With You


Let's be friends blog hop


GIVEAWAY: Unwrapping the Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp (CLOSED)

Advent Book 2

We’re in the midst of Advent season, and in our house, that equals a couple things. First, Ella has a little chocolate advent calendar that she opens every morning. It’s supposed to serve as a countdown to Christmas, with a wee piece of chocolate behind every paper flap, but I made the mistake of showing it to her before Advent actually began, meaning we are a few days ahead. I think today she opened number 15. We may have a problem when we get to the last piece of chocolate and it’s not yet Christmas.

Second, I like to take time with the kids to do some kind of Advent reading every night. That’s the good Lutheran girl in me, I suppose. Last year we found simple readings on Pinterest. Then, last month, I saw someone post a photo of Ann Voskamp’s book Unwrapping the Greatest Gift on Instagram and decided to order it for our family. We’ve been loving it! It’s a beautifully illustrated, hardcover book with scripture, a story, and family questions and activity ideas for each day of Advent.

Advent Book 4

We would love to share this book with you! You can enter to win your own copy of Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas by Ann Voskamp by completing the steps in the form below. Start by leaving a comment about what your favorite family activity is during the Christmas season and then clicking in the giveaway box that you left a comment. (You might find the comment section up near the title of this post, depending on how you opened this page.) The giveaway will be open until Sunday night at midnight and I’ll announce the winner on Monday. That way I can mail the book out in time to read a few of the last sections before Christmas. This book will be a beautiful addition to your family Christmas traditions!

Disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way to talk about or giveaway this book. The opinions in this post are entirely my own.


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The End of Wishing

There are so many things I want in life. I don’t mean material things. I mean I want experiences and growth and big, exciting adventures. Sometimes I find myself wishing these things would just happen instead of finding a way to actually pursue them. They just seem like so much work or like they’re way too big for my singular being. The biggest thing, though, is that I’ve found myself continuing to wish, rather than taking action, because I’m afraid of making the changes I know are necessary to make those wishes reality.


Nana explains the tradition of the wish bone at Thanksgiving

Yesterday, I woke at 3:30am, my stomach in knots, knowing that I had to take action. Like it was time to stop wishing and actually move forward on something. I tried to ignore the frenzy of thoughts running through my head, but at 4am, I gave in. I grabbed my computer and started writing. I felt like God was giving me the playbook on how to move ahead on a wish I had been mulling over since the end of summer.  It was something that was a bit scary to me, so I hadn’t pursued it or really even told anyone about it. Silly me thought I could tuck it under the rug and it would go away. I really should know better by now. I’ve tried to do this so many times in the past, and God just brings it right back in front of me, but in an even more ‘now you really have to pay attention’ sort of way than if I had gone after it from the beginning. After I wrote it all out, my mind calmed enough to allow me to go back to sleep for a couple hours. And then came time to tell Pete.


Ella & her auntie take a break from their game to make a wish

“Pete, I have to read something I wrote last night. Like at 4am. I’m pretty sure God is telling us something.” There, I said it, but at the same time, I was hoping to keep it to myself so I could avoid actually pursuing this thing. Of course he was super interested and wanted to hear about it right away. That’s when I started shaking. I felt a mix of crazy excitement from knowing we’re going to do something huge and being really afraid of all the unknown parts of what this could mean for our family. I was incredibly thankful I had written everything down in the night, because otherwise I would have backed out, saying it wasn’t really a big deal. I would have minimized it. Instead, I sat next to him on the couch and read it word for word.

I would love to share the 4am writing with you, and you probably want to know what it was, but we’re still working through it, so I’m going to save the details for just a little longer. I’ll tell you though, that we spent nearly the entire day yesterday working through it all. Pete had the day off and Ella was home sick, so we tucked the kids in for naps and a little iPad time while Pete and I ironed out all that we could. We took lots of breathing breaks that, yes, involved plenty of “Jesus, come right now and show us how to do this” prayers. By dinner last night, I had a headache from thinking so hard, so we ordered pizza, turned off all the lights, and all cuddled on the couch to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas. And then, we all fell into bed.

This morning, I’m still feeling a few knots in my stomach. I’m nervous. But God certainly didn’t say that following his plans would be easy. Last night before I fell asleep, I read an advent reading from She Read’s Truth (do you know about this?! details below) and was reminded, “[Jesus] is our Bread from Heaven, the Bread of Life we are told to hunger solely after – the only thing we need, every day.” We are reminded of that in John 6:41 and 48. So today I’m leaning on that promise, working through the knots in my stomach, and still very excited about our family’s next step.


Ella’s sweet focus as she wished


I mentioned She Reads Truth, which is a really fantastic resource for women seeking Jesus through daily devotions and Bible reading plans. I use the app on my phone nearly every day. You can read the devotions on their website for free or download the app and pay a couple dollars a plan. They also have the devotional plans available in gorgeous print version that can be ordered on their website. Their Instagram feed is also quite encouraging.

Disclaimer: I haven’t been given anything at all to talk about She Reads Truth. I’m just that in love with what they have to offer!


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