Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentines Day 2015

I  think that Valentines is an over-commercialized holiday…  I don't want jewelry, flowers or a romantic dinner.  I do however think it is a perfect excuse to celebrate love and be with the ones you adore!  #anyexcuseforaparty.

When my babies were little I read the book Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin.  I love, love, loved it!  My favorite line that sums up the book is "I wanted to make my home happier by appreciating how much happiness was already there."

One of the things she chose to do in her journey for a happier home was to celebrate minor holidays by having a festive breakfast.  Because I already enjoyed celebrating, I decided to make this a Valentines tradition in our family.  After the kids go to bed, I decorate the kitchen so when they wake up it is a surprise.  I don't spend a lot of time or money and just do the kitchen.  Then I will have a Valentines breakfast for them!

I found the breakfast idea from Pinterest.  (Of course!)  Free printables from the blog Love the Day.

Briellen, Sidney and Luke

Ivy and Mitchell

Ivy and Daddy
Because Valentines Day was on a Saturday, I served a heart-y lunch.

Sidney and Brie inherited my love of decorating and pulled all of the decorations out of the kitchen and decorated the living room.  They decided that they needed to have a Valentines Party for their friends.

 So we had to make treats.  Back to Pinterest for Valentines Rice Krispy Treats!  Ivy ALWAYS helps me in the kitchen because she gets to snitch as she helps.

And of course cupcakes must be made...
Another Helper...

We went to our favorite noodle house Pho Binh for dinner because I was done being creative!  {And I had champagne in the cul-de-sac with my girls and didn't feel like cooking!}

It's ironic that Stephen and I would have our biggest fight in 10 years on Valentines day, but that's how it happened.  {hence no pics of us.}  Marriage is hard work… It isn't all butterflies in your tummy and sweet romantic kisses.  It is saying I'm sorry when your pride tells you he needs to say it first.  It is saying and meaning "I forgive you" when you want to hold on to the hurt.  Marriage isn't always pretty, but I've learned that God uses these moments to bring you closer to each other and Him.

In Happier at Home, she also talks about creating a "Shrine" of her family with pictures that recall happy memories.  She felt like the picture frames that she had in her normal decor were being walked by without notice.  So she created Holiday photo galleries for Halloween and Valentines Day.  I copied her for Valentines day and I have to say I love seeing these pictures up… love seeing how the babies have grown and changed.  I will definitely do this for other holidays as well.
8 Months, Our Engagement Pic,  4 Years

Hope your Valentines Day was filled with lots of love and laughter.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Forty and Fabulous (Exclamation Point)

Do you remember this episode of Sex and the City??  Carrie was on the front of the New Yorker and the headline was "Single and Fabulous?"  She thought the article was going to be about how fabulous her life was as in "Single and Fabulous!"  The question mark changes the whole meaning…

This is how I felt coming up to my 40th birthday!  Was I forty and fabulous with a question mark or exclamation point?  I have never been concerned about my age.  I have embraced each stage of my life and never looked back with regret or wishful thinking.  So it was very odd to not want to turn forty.  Frankly, it put me in a serious funk.

I had a wonderful childhood,  an amazing college experience and a successful career.  I have lived on my own and traveled the world.  I am healthy…  I have a terrific husband… I have five healthy miracle babies… why was I so upset??  What did I have to be unhappy about??

I am not sure exactly how the funk ended, but my big day came and just like that I just moved to acceptance.  It is what it is.  I have so much to be thankful for and I will focus on that!  

My Girls
Misty, Amy, Kimber, Me, Brie

My college roomie, Brie, lives in northern California and I don't get to see her enough!  She was visiting her family in Dallas over the holidays and had to drive her Grandpa home to Austin before she flew back.  The ONLY day we could see her was (lucky for me) my birthday!!  So we drove to Austin (with my sister Amy and her hubby) and had a big slumber party with our other college roomies!!  (203C, baby!)  Honestly, I think spending this one night with my oldest and best-est friends helped me with my funk.  Being with them is so good for my soul.

Misty had just moved into her new house and had discovered a box of college pictures.  My favorite part of the entire night was looking at all of the pictures together.  Some were seriously hilarious!

Looking at Old Pictures

Outside Looking In

Misty's husband Bill had been saving a couple of really old bottles of wine for a special occasion…   Happy 40th to me!!

The evenings agenda:  Dinner and Drinks at The W

Stephen and Damon
In the Uber Car

{If you haven't used the app Uber for car service, you must try!!}


And when I got back from Austin, this was waiting for me in my front yard…

It is so silly, but I can't tell you how happy this one little sign made me.  I think maybe because I am rarely surprised anymore…  I was wondering who could have done this and Stephen said "Are you kidding?  This screams Neal Hare."  And he was right!  My two Neal Hares (dad and brother) drove to cypress at 6 in the morning to leave a huge plywood sign with fence posts welcoming me into my new chapter of life.  It touched me more than you can imagine.

And then I got to spend the rest of the weekend celebrating with my nearest and dearest… My family…   My everything.

Saturday night we had dinner at The Shack.  It is the funkiest hamburger joint with the most eclectic menu and a HUGE play area for the kids.

Amy, Me, Neal, Bibi and Marg
These girls….  My BFF sisters.
 Amy and Sooze

Silliest Goose Ever

Papa and Sidney

Nain and Sooze

Our Cousins Lisa and Dustin
We normally eat outside, but it was freezing so we squished inside.

Sunday lunch was at my parents house in Katy.  Those of you who know me well, know that I have an obsession with peppermint ice cream.  Well, my mom made me a peppermint ice cream/chocolate rice krispy cake and it was AMAZING!  Seriously people, I couldn't stop eating it!

She had helpers...
Sidney and Ivy
 She got the recipe from a mailer forever ago and kept it.  Here it is…

Here is her version...

I was so excited!!  It was like I was a kid again.

I am so loved and have so many to love.  I wouldn't change a thing.
Forty… Bring it!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

2015 Goals

I was brainstorming on everything that I wanted to change or get done this year!  I started to feel like I did when I walked into the H&M in Vegas… TOO MUCH!  I was overwhelmed and almost scrapped the whole idea of goal setting.  But I decided to pare down and split the task in two - My goals and goals for family.   I chose to start with me and I felt instantly better the minute I did this.  (Probably because I am a procrastinator and being able to push off something until later made me feel like the old me! Ha!)  Honestly,  I don't truly believe in New Years resolutions, so if I get to our family goals in May, that's ok…  As long as they get done!

I wrote everything down on a piece of paper and then picked the things that I REALLY wanted to get done.  Here is what I came up with…

HEALTH:  Exercise Regularly and Eat More Real Food

FAITH: Quiet Time

MONEY: Make and STICK! to Budget

HOME: Declutter Projects

EXTRA:Stop Wasting Time

I am the most sporadic exerciser there is…  One minute I am religious about it and then one tiny thing will get me off schedule and then it will be weeks before I get back in my routine.   Or I will choose something like running, that I detest and then will look for the tiny excuse not to go.  And as much as I wish it were, exercising every day just isn't for me…  So this year I am going to try to walk 4 times a week…. NO MATTER WHAT!

Last year I became obsessed with  I really like her approach of eliminating processed food.   I think that everything is okay in moderation, but choose the healthier alternative when I can.

The changes I've already made in the name of real food:
- Instead of Splenda and French Vanilla Creamer, I use real maple syrup and milk in my coffee.
- I quit my Diet Dr. Pepper addiction and added a Pellegrino addiction.  (I used to hate sparkling water, but last September I stopped drinking wine for the month and this was my savior!  Just add lime!)
- No more store bought Ranch dressing or Taco seasoning etc.
- I started buying my bread and tortillas through  They deliver it from a local bakery.

This year I want to try to eat at least 2 fruits and/or Veggies at each meal.  Dinner will be easy because as is Hare tradition, we have a green salad with most dinners.  Breakfast shouldn't be too bad because a handful of berries or smoothie will do the trick.  But my staple hummus and cracker lunch, if lunch happens at all, needs to be tweaked.

{Note 1:  I haven't braved getting the kids totally off of processed foods…  Note 2:  I MUST stop snitching their junk food!  Note 3:  I took the above salad pic before I took off the cucumbers.  Detest them.}

Does this count as two veggies??

My faith is everything to me!  During the chaos of having babies and raising kids,  I have not devoted enough time to growing spiritually...  Spending time reading my Bible, reading books that inspire me to be better,  carving out time to pray and truly being quiet so I can focus of what kind of woman/wife/mother I want to be and that God wants me to be.

Even though my mornings start at 6 and are cray-zay, I want to wake up earlier and have this quiet time before I start my day.  I am going to start with 15 minutes and then work my way back from there.  I have read a million articles that say the one thing in common in crazy successful people is that they all wake up early…. We shall see.

I am a spender and Stephen is not a spender… REALLY not a spender.  The only way we can live harmoniously is to have a budget.  (Ugh!  I can't even stand that word!)  When a budget is in place, I know exactly how much money I get to spend and Stephen knows exactly how much he gets to save.  Last year, we let the budget fall to the wayside because it was a good year.  And surprisingly, it wasn't as glorious as I would have thought.  Its amazing how overspending can cause anxiety!  This year is gonna be a titch rough, so the budget has to be back.

{side note:  I cringe every time I see someone post on FaceBook how wonderful it is to fill up their cars for so cheap.   Most of Stephen's customers are in the Oil and Gas business, so low oil prices are not a good thing around here!}

Last year we converted our guest bedroom into an office.  We live in a small house and we felt we needed to utilize every square inch.  Stephen was working from the dining room table when he was home and our desk was crammed upstairs in the playroom.  It was a much needed move even though I resisted it at first.   I pretty much have it decorated, but I just threw everything in the closet.  Plus there is a corner upstairs that is still piled with paper work.  {Goodness knows what is up there!} So Project #1- Organize Office Closet

For years we have been over run by toys.  This year I've noticed that the kids don't play with their toys as much.  It makes me so SO sad!  I am not ready for this.  But they A) just don't have the time and B) would rather play electronics.   I did a test over Thanksgiving and put 25% of their toys in boxes in the garage.  My plan was when they asked for a certain toy, to give it back and then donate the rest.  Well, they never asked, so after Christmas I donated it all!    When they finally did realize that things were gone and I told them I donated them, there was a minor melt down.  I promised I wouldn't do it again without their knowing it, so this time around they will have to be involved.  It will slow down the process, but I think they will learn lessons in having excess and giving to those who have less.  So project #2 - convert playroom to media room.

I am sure that this is the case in many of your homes, but our Master bedroom is the landing pad for any and all things that don't have a home.  We dump EVERYTHING in there.  This is the room that is supposed to be our haven and refuge in the chaos of our lives.   It's supposed to be peaceful and inviting… Exactly the opposite of what it is now.  So project #3 - Declutter and Decorate Master

The last goal I have is to stop wasting time.  Some days when the kids would get home from school, I would wonder where the time went and why didn't I get anything accomplished.  I have 7 hours alone, people!!!  As I kept a mental time chart of my day, I noticed that a LOT of time is sucked by my Charm King addiction. (This replaced my Candy Crush, when I couldn't pass level two hundred and something.)   I explained it away in that I only play for 5 lives at at time,  but when I added up how much time I was playing, it was ridiculous!  (embarrassing to admit, but true!)  I went through withdrawals when I first erased, but am actually happy that it is gone!

During the month of January as I thought about what I wanted to accomplish this year, I kept coming back to this:  be content.  I noticed that last year I spent too much time focusing on what others had that I didn't.    This year, I am going to purposefully focus on being grateful for my husband and family and the happy little home that we are building.   I am going to choose to find joy in the little things in my life instead of waiting for big things to bring happiness.  And I will not compare myself to others.

Friday, January 2, 2015

New Years Eve

Happy New Year with My Love

In our early 20's, going out in the city was the ONLY way to bring in the New Year...  Crazy late nights and sleeping the entire next day.  As we got a bit older and wiser, we would go out to eat at a fun happening restaurant and then come home to bring in the New Year.  And then along came kids and going out for anything screeched to a halt.  First of all, all we cared about was sleep.  Second, it wastn't so easy to get a sitter on NYE.  And lastly, with all the drunks out on the road, it wasn't worth the risk to be out and about.  The last couple of years we started our kid friendly New Years Eve parties.  We rotate houses with our besties The Farleys and The Wagners.  And honestly, staying home with everyone is a blast… 

Ivy and Me

Sidney and Me

Mitchell, Eli and Luke

The Girls
Briellen, Sidney, Brynne, Ivy

They Farleys
Damon and Amy

The Wagners
Susan and RJ

The Howells… and photobomber

And Speaking of Photobomber… We had the same one NYE 2014

The Girls
My Brother in law Damon is the MASTER cocktail mixer.  He always has a new cocktail for every event.  This night he brought wassail with a bourbon or whiskey something.  I am a vodka girl, so this held no appeal until the end of the night when RJ made us watch the countdown outside in 20 degree weather.  {I was miserable at first, but was so glad that he made us because we saw some amazing fireworks!  Like huge professional type fireworks… in the burbs… craziness!}

So last Valentines day we had Cherub's Cup Cocktails, which were AMAZING.  I was jonesing for one so I brought all of the stuff to make one forgetting how labor intensive they were.  Enter my master mixologist… He took over and voila…. cocktails!  Check out the recipe here… YUM!

After dinner we did fireworks and sparklers.  Despite the cold, we had so much fun.

Mitchell and Aiden "cheers-ing" their Sparklers.

My Luke
Am so glad I've passed my love of Sparklers on...

The Crew

My kids were starting to get a little sicky and I wanted to make sure they got a good nights rest  so we took them home and put them to bed instead of spending the night per tradition.  Our sweet Nonna came to watch them so we could go back to the party.

But before they left,  a happy New Years toast!  
These kids.

It makes my heart so happy that these little bitties have each other and my prayer is they will forever stay as close as they are now!  It also makes my heart so happy that I have such amazing friends and incredible husband to share my life with!