Dear 2014,

Every year I write a letter on December 31st.  
To read the other yearly letters, click HERE.
Dear 2014,
You have been a good year.
When this year first started I was VERY nervous for it.
You see, at the end of 2013, we found out my dad had a tumor on his brain and he would be needing brain surgery at Stanford in February. 
Then, on January 2nd my sister Rebecca had her 20 week ultrasound with Baby #2 and during the ultrasound the doctor couldn't see part of the baby's brain.
She would need to have an MRI at Stanford to see how severe it was.
Needless to say, the beginning of 2014 was extremely stressful.
But, it all had a good outcome, my dad's surgery was successful and when my sister went to Stanford to have the MRI, the part of the brain that was missing was there....it truly was a miracle.

2014 has been a year of being stretched, a year of growth, a year of ups and downs. 
A year of learning to trust God more and a year that I am even more thankful for having good health.

A year that holds a lot of wonderful memories.
Let's take a look back!

 I got a new blog design at the beginning of January.
I wanted a simple, clean, organized look.
With a navigation bar that has quick links. 
My favorite feature is the Recipe Box!
 My highlight in January was Kate's 7th Birthday Party. It was so much fun!
See the Party {HERE}

 February was a very emotional month.
We had my sister's 30th birthday dinner & party.
 Her birthday was just a few days before my dad's surgery so we were all on edge.
{Read the party post HERE}

My dad had his 12 hour brain surgery at Stanford & was able to come home 3 days later.
{Read more about my dad's surgery HERE}

 Then, on Valentines Day my childhood soccer coach & mentor lost his 3 year battle with cancer & his funeral was at the end of the month. Needless to say, I was very glad when February was over.

March was mellow. Thankfully.
March is always fun because of March Madness & St. Patty's Day.
 Our leprachaun left the girls a treasure map again:

I also started 40 Bags in 40 Days for the 3rd year in a row. 
I posted my Top 10 tips for doing 40 Bags in 40 Days {HERE}
If you want to clean out your closets/house at the beginning of the New Year, those tips would come in handy!

Kate started her Softball Season!
April was another good month.
We celebrated Easter & had Spring Break.
During Spring Break I started binge watching Breaking Bad and I finished in within a month. Ha!
I took the kids to see the Easter Bunny and Luke didn't disappoint :)
I threw my sister a Cookie & Milk Baby Shower
See more Shower photos {HERE}

May was a very busy month full of celebrations!
 My sister had her miracle baby girl, Olivia Louise on May 15th.
Kevin turned the big 3-9 and we had a Cupcakes & Cornhole Birthday party with our neighbors for him.
I turned 35 on May 30th and on the 31st went wine tasting in Napa in a limo with my sisters & some of my best girl friends.
{See the post HERE}

June means it's the end of the school year!!!
The start of Summer!!!
Lots of swimming in our backyard!
We also started Swim Team Meets. That was an experience!

 I also started playing on an indoor soccer team. I hadn't played in over 8 years since before I was pregnant with Kate. It has been SO fun to get back on the field. 
We also watched a lot of World Cup Soccer in June!
July was awesome. Simply awesome. 
4th of July Party is always a highlight:
See the rest of the 4th of July post {HERE}

Tahoe Trip #1

In July, I also earned a free weekend trip to Napa with Rodan + Fields:
See the rest of the Napa post {HERE}

Tahoe Trip #2....we all hiked down to Emerald Bay. So beautiful.
August is always bittersweet....it's the last few weeks of summer, Luke's birthday, our anniversary & then school starts at the end of the month.
In August, our garden was going crazy!!! Love homegrown veggies!
Luke turned 2...I threw him a "Choo Choo Luke is Two" Party.
See the whole party post {HERE}

We started a little home re-model right after Luke's birthday, re-doing our fireplace area in our house:
 Kevin & I celebrated our 12th Wedding Anniversary the day before school started.
And, just like that, we had a Kindergartener and a 2nd Grader!
September was another great month. Jammed pack full of Fun!
Both girls played soccer this Fall, so our weekends were full of soccer games!
Claire turned 6 and I threw her a Mermaid Swim Party:
 See the rest of her party {HERE}

 A few days after Claire's birthday I headed off to Atlanta for the Rodan + Fields 2014 Convention. 
I earned a free trip to this convention and it did not disappoint.
The view from my awesome hotel room:
 Read about the rest of my trip to Atlanta {HERE}

At the end of September, another highlight was when Kevin & I went to the Colorado vs. Cal Football game. 
 Then, Kevin surprised me with a night away after the game at the Claremont Resort in Berkeley! So fun.
October is usually my favorite month, but this year, in 2014 it was over 90 degrees the first 2 weeks of October. Ugh. It was awful. I am not a fan of weather like that in the Fall, but we made lemonade out of lemons and headed to Tahoe for a long weekend in the middle of October to beat the heat.

More about Lake Tahoe in the Fall {HERE}

Also, in October our San Francisco Giants went to the World Series again!
Kevin and I went to Game 3 of the series...so much fun!!!!
Giants ended up winning the World Series! Love it!

At the end of October we headed down to my Grammy's to celebrate her 103rd birthday!!!! 
You can read all about Grammy's 103rd Birthday {HERE}

Halloween wrapped up our October and we had our annual Halloween Party with friends.
Our kids were Frozen for Halloween.
You can read more about our Halloween {HERE}

Marked 1 year of being a rep for Rodan + Fields. It has been such a blast & I such a blessing to us this past year and it has allowed me to go on some all expense paid trips! 
If you are interested in learning more about being a rep, I would love to chat with you.
Send me an email:

One major thing that happened in November is that Luke started climbing out of his crib. I had to get him a crib tent to keep him safe inside his crib!
Read the crib tent post {HERE}

I am ashamed to admit this, but probably the biggest highlight of November was that I started watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix (I had never seen the series before) and I finished the entire series before the month was over. What a great series!! I want to watch them all over again!
The big highlight of November is always Thanksgiving! And, this year we were really thankful that  the day before Thanksgiving our remodel was finally done....3 months after we started it!

Christmas time.
So many highlights.
 Highlights from December were the Christmas parties we went to and hosting both sides of our family for Christmas Dinner. 
It was a wonderful December and after a crazy 4 days of Christmas, we headed back to Tahoe to relax, play in the snow and Ring in the New Year!

Also, in 2014 I added 32 new recipes & 5 new free printables to the blog!
You can check those out in the Recipe Box tab and the Free Printables tab.

 2014, you have been good to us.
Thanks for all the fun memories.
I am thankful to God for the ways he worked in our family this year and for the ways that He will continue to work in us and through us.
Happy New Year, friends.
Thanks for reading my blog this year.
I appreciate all of you!
May your 2015 be filled with joy & hope no matter your circumstances!


4 Days of Christmas

Christmas for our family starts on December 23rd....Christmas Eve Eve.
Every year on the 23rd the girls and I bake cookies all day.
We made Monster M&M Cookies {HERE}, Candy Cane Kisses {HERE},  Fudge {HERE} & Ritzies.
How to make Ritzies:
 Make peanut butter sandwiches with Ritz crackers (I use Skippy Natural Creamy peanut butter)
Dip the sandwiches in melting chocolate & then add sprinkles.
Allow to cool, then enjoy!
Then the 5 of us go to dinner and then we go look at Christmas lights in our town.
One of the homes in our town has a light/music show. It is awesome. In front of their house they have containers to collect canned foods for the Food Bank.
We also have a Griswold house in our town. Every year it gets better and better!
The owners were in the driveway hanging out when we got there, so I made sure to tell him Thank you for always doing amazing decorations.
 Their electric bill is in the thousands each December. Yikes.
 Day 2 of Christmas for our family is Christmas Eve. We go to the afternoon Christmas Eve service at our church. Here is the annual Christmas Eve pic on our porch:
After church we head to my parents for our traditional Christmas Eve Dinner...Lasagna.
I grew up opening all my Christmas presents on Christmas Eve (and then Santa would come Christmas morning with 1 big present and stocking stuffers)

It was pure craziness at my parents with 5 little kids wanting to open presents. We got my dad a Quad Copter. He loves things like that.

Then we headed back home to put the kids to bed & it was Santa time!
The girls left Santa some cookies and a beer....Celebration because it has snow on the label. Ha!
Kate also made Santa a rainbow loom bracelet :)
Kevin set up his old train set for Luke as a surprise since Luke loves trains.
I didn't take many pics in the morning because it's pure craziness!
Last year was a lego Christmas for the girls....this year it was all about American Girl!
After presents we headed back to my parents.
It's all about Jimmy's 3 meat breakfast & my mom's amazing eggs. YUM.

The boys played with their new race car track & we watched A Christmas Story.
Then we headed back to our house to get ready for having everyone over to our house for Christmas Dinner.
One of the perks of having both sides of our family local is that we get to see them all on Christmas.
I love that my family gets along with Kevin's family and that we can celebrate holidays all together. I know this is rare & I don't take it for granted!
It was so fun having everyone at our house, but it definately wasn't a relaxing day since we had to clean up our house and prep food! 
Everything was delicious. My menu was on THIS post. I will for sure be using this menu again next time I host Christmas.

The next morning on the 26th, we headed to Kevin's parents house for Larson Family Christmas.
Our 4th and final day of Christmas!
The only way to battle the exhaustion of 4 straight days of Christmas is by double fisting....coffee in one hand, Gin Fizzes in the other. (And being comfortable by spending the day in my blardigan!)
It was a fun day hanging out with the Larson clan, eating good food and playing a family favorite...Cribbage!
On the 27th I took down Christmas & pack it all away.
Yes, I am one of those people who takes down Christmas right after it's over.
Every year, we put up Christmas the day after Thanksgiving and pack it up the day after Christmas.
 And. I am so sad about it. I love, love, love this time of year, but pack it all away because when it's over, its' over. I can't bear to look at all the decorations anymore knowing that Christmas is over.  And, plus....I am OCD...I need it all cleaned up :)
So, there you have it...our Christmas 2014. So thankful for another wonderful holiday with family.
Hope you had a wonderful Christmas also....is your tree still up or did you take it down?

And......this Friday, January 2nd we are having our Pin-Spired link up! We took a break for December, but we are back for January!
Link up your Pinterest Inspired outfits with me, Shay & Sheaffer!
(This Friday it will just be myself & Sheaffer because Shay is in China bringing home their new daughter Ashby!) 

Can't wait to see what you wore!


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