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blessings

Family Fall Extravaganza: 2016

We celebrated our 2nd Family Fall Extravaganza the last weekend in October 2016.  We are in the states this year, so we made the most of the “fall-ish” things to do!

If you haven’t read Family Fall Extravaganza from last year, our family started a fall tradition to spend a weekend doing “fall-ish” things.  (1) Because that’s my favorite season and it means a lot to me. (2) We have a family we can start traditions with. (3) I LOVE FALL!!!!

We had a short weekend because My Love was gone Friday and we had meetings Sunday, but we made the most of it!!

Without further ado, here was our itinerary for the weekend.

Second Family Fall Extravaganza

Collecting Colored Leaves

Last year, we cut out leaves because the leave don’t change colors in Africa.  But this year we only had to go to our back yard and collect many colored leaves.  Friday evening, My love was still out of town so we had the kids’ Nonna come over and help us start our celebrations.

Pumpkin Coloring Pages
Colored some pumpkins with Nonna.

Thank-FALL Gifts

One of the blessings we’ve enjoyed greatly being state-side is family and friends.  I wanted to make a point to show them our thankfulness before we got into the busy holiday season, where gifts often feel obligatory. So we decided to make Hot Chocolate Mixes and Cinnamon Rolls to give to our families and close friends.

Thank-FALL Labels

I made up some tags and printed and cut them out to put on the jars and pans.  (Click and print the labels here!) Only later did I find out I didn’t have any cute string to attach the labels…so I used tape 🙂 So fancy..HA!

Hot Chocolate Mix

My mom has a great Hot Chocolate Mix recipe she’s used for years.  So I got that from her and made a double batch of it.

HOT CHOCOLATE MIX

5 1/3 c. Dry powdered milk

2/3 c. powdered sugar

3/4 c. coffee creamer

1 lb. (4 1/2 c.) cocoa mix (I used Nestle)

1/4 tsp. salt

**Add 2 heaping spoonfuls to 8oz hot water & enjoy!

Isn't she so cute?!
Isn’t she so cute?!

I had Honey-Bear and Bub help me out.

Making Hot Choc

They each did a full recipe. I wrote the instructions of the back of the tags that I had printed.

Cinnamon Rolls

We HAD to do these again!! I made The Pioneer Women’s Cinnamon Rolls.  They are SO amazing! We made two 9×13 pans for our family then filled nine small foil pans to give out.

The Cinnamon Rolls
Whom ever said, “It’s what’s on the inside that counts,” was totally talking about these rolls!

I started the dough on Friday night then cooked them all Saturday morning.

Making icing with Honey-Bear
Making the icing with Honey-Bear.

I think they will FOREVER be a part of our Fall Traditions! SO good and SO worth the time.

Corn Maze/Farm Fun

My Love really wanted to go to a corn maze this year because we are in the states.  So we did some looking around and found one near us that had that and more.

Corn Maze

They had a whole farm of hayrides, pumpkin patch, tire swings, slides, farm animals, a big bouncy inflatable, and more!!  So we hit the road Saturday morning and spent the whole day out there.  It was a BLAST!

Family selfie
Family Selfie
Family selfie take 2
Take two

We almost needed more time to play, but when it hit 3pm the kids were so tired and slept all the drive home. 🙂 yay!

Yummy Dinner

A meat I crave often is Little Smokies and they can’t be found in Africa…yet! So I decided to make that the main course of our Yummy Dinner.  I added mashed sweet potatoes, which are a favorite of Honey-Bear’s.  Then we had peas and potato salad already in the kitchen so it worked out. I added some classy, candle light which the kids enjoyed and finished their plates just to blow them out. Ha–what ever works!

Yummy Dinner

I didn’t realize till I filled my plate that this Yummy Dinner was also Fall colored themed! We had the  green, yellow, red/brown and orange all in one meal–perfect!

Fall Movies

I didn’t do any looking around this year for movies, so we did the same from last year.

Curious George--A Halloween Boo Fest

“Curious George: A Halloween Boo Fest” was on Netflix this year.

Amazon--You've Got Mail

And, “You’ve Got Mail”.  We rented it from Itunes to play on our AppleTV.  But My Love said we could buy it if it going to be a yearly tradition! Yay!

Halloween

This isn’t a part of our Traditions, but since our Extravaganza weekend and Halloween were the same time I thought I’d add in our Family Halloween Picture.  Really, I just wanted to show it off!! 🙂

My kids LOVE Zootopia and Bub was SO excited to be Nick!  Honey-Bear liked the idea but once in costume, would not wear the ears. And look at our Little Brother!! So cute!!!!

Zootopia Halloween
We were the cast of Zootopia–Chief Bogo, Assistant Mayer Bellwether, Nick Wilde, Judy Hopps, and Baby Toot-toot.

 


It was a great weekend of fun and tradition making!  We enjoyed being able to do more “fall-ish” things this year! We are grateful for our family and friends and the blessings we have!

I wonder what we’ll find next year?!

Count Your Blessings

 

Before we left for Africa, I read Ann Voskamp’s “One Thousand Gifts.” It was a gift from a friend, and a good book to remember to be thankful for everything. Through easy and hard seasons being thankful keeps your spirits up and keeps your attitude from becoming bitter, grumpy & all about-self.

About two weeks into our Homestay, I started my own thankful list. I only got to 18 before I forgot about it 🙂 ha. But it was a good thankfulness check for my heart to stay positive about the things I did have and not get down and negative about the things I didn’t have.
*I’ll explain some of them for you so you can understand it all.

Oct-Dec 2014

Counting Our Blessings

  • No prego nose! God’s perfect timing. (We were supposed to move to Africa when I was still pregnant with Honey-Bear, but the dates go pushed back. Thankfully we didn’t, because the new smells of sewage, dead animals, live animals, etc. were a bit overwhelming.)
  • “B-I-B-L-E” (Bub just learned that song and was going around singing it and singing it. He even taught our host family how to sing it—though they didn’t know English.)
  • Lillian’s smiles!
  • Our Lamb’s sacrifice—after watching cow video. (Our family slaughtered a cow as a part of a big holiday. Watching that cow die made me so thankful for our Lamb’s sacrifice.)
  • Peanut Butter!!
  • Eggs!! Thank God! (Bub was not eating well the first 3 weeks of our Homestay. One evening our Host mom made eggs and Bub gobbled them down! What relief! He started eating after that.)
  • $ leaving home (As we left our goodbye party, many people gave us money on our way out.)
  • A friend’s call on Friday 03/10/14 (We do DD/MM/YY in Africa).
  • Our babysitter—Mia! She’s GREAT!
  • Homestay chosen—3x. (After arriving, we learned our first Homestay was given to another family. The second wanted to charge us more money, so the company said no. Then we were placed with a third family, which work out so well.)
  • Internet Stick (they sell Internet on UBS sticks. We were given one. It was SO nice to be able to connect with family and friends back home.)
  • Pinterest to connect w/ friends & ideas for here, like holidays. (I’m always reminded of someone when I see something on Pinterest, so its nice to just sent it and share it with friends.)
  • Hair conditioner (No, I didn’t have any for a month or two. I almost cried when I used it the first time…being able to run my fingers through my hair without tangles. It enhanced the Bucked-Shower experiences immensely.)
  • Crap-less toots 🙂 (We all had about a 3-4 day stent of bad diarrhea…self explanatory.)
  • New friends! (We met an expat family down the street from us. CRAZY world…my dad and her dad were college roommates!! WHAT!?!?!?! Needless to say, we became good friends!)
  • A & L—friends from Ireland
  • Big cup of coffee. (In any café here, you ask for a big coffee and all they give you is a shot glass size with double the espresso. Over Thanksgiving My Love had his first REAL big cup of coffee.)

My Love's BIG coffee

  • Shower!! (Also over Thanksgiving, we traveled to Work City & got to shower in a real shower!!! Wow—talk about refreshment. We apologized if the water bill was high next month.)

It’s funny to me now to look back and laugh at the ‘simple blessings’ we had at the beginning. What joy it is to remember where we came from and the journey we’ve been on!  Let Bing Crosby remind you to, “Count your blessings instead of sheep.”