Our Family: Lifestyle

I had a momma I met through Vincents class come over and do some lifestyle pictures of me and the boys inside the house! I have always wanted just some real laid back photos of me and the boys in our element and I love how they turned out!!! There are a ton of Sammer and I since it was close to his big ONE year birthday!!! I am obsessed with them!!!  
Jennifer Ann diaper cover! Seriously best personalized baby purchases ever! 
She made his baby leggings and blanket! 

Gift Giving Darr Style

I get asked a lot how we handle the holidays and gift giving with having 4 children. "It must be so expensive for birthdays and holidays" people comment all the time. I have to say it is not at all. The reason it isn't is because we choose to take these gift giving holidays and make them just holidays. Birthdays and Christmas shouldn't automatically mean gifts galore. I know that they are special days and should be celebrated and they still are celebrated just not in the "traditional" sense. We celebrate each holiday with each other, spending quality time together.

I remember back to when I was a teenager and we got to open one gift at my dads on Christmas Eve BUT there was a catch, we had to wait until we got home from my grandparents annual Christmas Eve party. Guess who wanted the party to get over with just so I could go home and see what my parents bought for ME. I would selfishly rather have been at home opening presents than spending time with my amazing family. I would kill to have those Christmas Eve nights back at my grandparents, to spend quality time with them and tell that that I loved them and adored them but my Christmas focus was never on family, it was on the gifts I would get.

This is so common for mostly everyone growing up. You are showered with gifts from a young age and then automatically begin expecting these things at every holiday. I even remember my uncle would give us gifts at Easter. Easter? Obviously I did not complain because I love me some gifts but somewhere in the years of gift giving and spoiling it all got lost for me. I looked forward to my birthdays to be given things that I thought I needed. Things that I wanted and that I deserved.

It wasn't until the past few years that Jordan and I had had enough of the holiday chaos. We started a few years back not accepting birthday gifts for the boys parties but rather donations to be given to a charity. Our boys had their huge birthday bash this summer and it was awesome. Bounce house and food galore, the boys spent time with their favorite people and family. Never once did they stop to ask for gifts or wonder when they would get something. On their real birthdays we celebrate as a family and make a meal of their choice and dessert. Nothing fancy at all, just good ole family time and I honestly love it.

Christmas is run pretty similar. Last year we gave them each one gift of their choice. It went awesome. They were each so EXCITED for their gift!!! Now getting grandparents on board will never happen and I am okay with that but I do ask for educational gifts but honestly you should see the boys open their gifts at Grandparents houses. They are just ripping them open and barely paying attention to anything they got. It made me pretty sad last year watching them do it. Instead of being excited about the gift they had just opened they just wanted another and another.

My boys will never go without. They will always have a roof over their heads, warm clothes and full bellies. They have everything they need and more. I just want them to not use holidays and birthdays as "ME ME ME" holidays.  

I even asked Vincent what he wanted for Christmas he said "juice boxes" for every day of the year. Alright bro? We still have yet to order the boys gifts yet. We are legit out of ideas. I think we are doing sleeping bags. Super fun right?? haha! It's funny because Vincent overheard us talking about it and came up and said "I heard you said I am getting a sleeping bag....that is AWESOME!" 

Once they are older and can fully tell us what they want it will get easier. We will do one gift each and then maybe one bigger family gift. Obviously this little method might not work for every family but we are loving it our second year in. So to everyone who has asked that is our method to the gift giving madness. Simplifying things down makes for much happier and smoother holidays. 

Happy Tuesday!! xoxo

Hybrid Update....

I meant to post this last week and then clearly life got in the way! I finally finished my hybrid of PiYo and 21 Day Fix. I did a 4 week schedule and I LOVED IT!!! So here are my results and also some thoughts. I was uber emotional this week because Sam turned the big ONE and it's just been a heart wrenching year. I made another video that I posted on FB that I will try to download for my blog too. I have so many things I want to share it's just always the sitting down and sharing them that gets in the way!! haha...
Anyways a recap is that I lost 5lbs and got back to where I was this summer. Which is huge because its winter and usually I am piling cookies and fudge down my throat haha! So I am feeling great heading into 2015 for ONCE. Usually I am feeling like crud and it's just a nice place to be for once!! So there you have it! If you want to try the Hybrid Planner do it! It's AWESOME and there are so many programs that you can use and it makes a personalized schedule to your wants! Happy Monday!!! 

Finding Yourself and Happiness.

Man this past year I have found myself digging deeper than I ever have into really understanding who I am as a person. It may be the fact that I just had to hit rock bottom and be rocked to the core to really ground myself and find out what makes me...ME.

Growing up in high school I always attached happiness to someone else or something. I always had a boyfriend and our relationship defined me. It gave me purpose. I would attach happiness to what I would get under the Christmas Tree. Boy if my dad buys me this watch I will be so happy and anything bad in my life will disappear when I wear it. This followed into my adult life and I still have to stay in check with it. When we found out 4 years ago that we had to relocate I attached myself to a house. A beautiful huge house with an amazing kitchen and that was going to make me the happiest person ever. I would have no issues with life if we got that house. All would be a fairytale. It happened again when we bought our last car and looking back I am such an idiot but at the time I thought having a Land Rover would bring me complete and utter happiness. Attaching ourselves to things or someone else to make us happy is a VERY slippery slope. Its completely delusional.

A little over a year ago I was hit hard with hormones and fell into a horrible anxiety ridden hell. I couldn't eat. I couldn't sleep and all I did was cry. No one could fix this for me. No matter what my amazing husband did he could not change the way I felt. The house we lived in could not take away the pain. My magic car could not fix this hurt and emotional chaos that surrounded me. No one could fix this and it was just me. I was at the worst point ever and I still to this day get very emotional and weird about it. It almost brings me to tears every time I think back to it.

Hitting rock bottom and having nothing or no one be able to fix me was very very raw. Jordan could hug me and tell me he loved me and so could my amazing family and friends and they did. I could feel their love but they could not fix me. I had to muster up the strength that I had to find me again. I can honestly say for once in my life I am completely in love with myself. I am not perfect and I am completely okay with that. I can laugh at my problems and not get caught up in things that would once bother me. I am completely at one with myself and who I am.

I have chosen to surround myself with things that make me happy. Things that push me to grow and to learn. People who encourage me to see outside the box. I have chosen to let go of things that held me down and did not add to me. I have chosen to fall in love with God and trust in His being. I have let go of anger and the past. I have learned that I am strong and can do so many things and to not let the little voice of doubt stop me. I learned that if I do not love myself that I cannot fully love others.

I have become more in love with my family and our life by really noticing that our relationships are what define us not the things that we own and the house that we live in. I feel so silly that I once allowed others to be in control of my happiness and that I allowed silly tangible items take such a huge power over what I viewed as happiness. I am grateful for the crap storm of hell that I went through and glad that I can finally see clearly.

There is really no rhyme or reason or special formula to this! You do not have to have a drop to you to your knees moment of pain to open your eyes to this. Think about how silly it sounds that we put OUR happiness in someone elses hands? Or we put our happiness on a car or a home or a new purse? That just sounds crazy right? But it happens. It happens when we aren't even realizing it. I still have to check myself back into reality when I start day dreaming about why this or that will make me happy. When you go to bed tonight remind yourself that you are in control of your happiness. You choose who and what is in your life. I know that I would not want Jordan's happiness or my childrens happiness being solely in my hands. How terrifying is that to think about having that much control over someone else. Especially someone that you love. So choose happiness. Chose to surround yourself with things that add to your life and your purpose.

Just some random night thoughts I had to get off my chest. xo

Turkey Day Recap!

Thanjsgiving was awesome!! I just love holidays because you are surrounded by family and eating good food. The world is completely perfect during the holidays! Having all my loved ones under one roof is just so heart warming. I wish we could do it every single day.
 The boys played and ran around like crazy animals all weekend!
 Work it....Work it
 Sleeping babes. Sweet Nicholas.
 Stalking Leah and her boyfriend Dan!

 Jordan read a long declaration before dinner. Whatever makes him happy haha!
 Sam is so chubby he tried swiping everyones food!!
 We also celebrated a special 1 year old. Sir Nicholas!!! Such a stud muffin!!
Just a small peek into the weekend festivities! 
I hope you all had an amazing Thanksgiving!! 

Do you wanna build a SNOWMAN?? ((homemade snow))

I have been meaning to try this since I pinned it last year but like many of my pinterest boards the activities go on my boards and stay there. I decided to do this once since Vincent and Luke have become a tad obsessed with finding their Elf (Sylvania). Last year I could get away with the elf staying in the same spot for days at a time but Vincent is fully on my case and checks on the elf at least 5 times a day. So I clearly had to up my Elf on The Shelf game over here.
It was so SIMPLE. You need two things!!
Baking Soda 
Conditioner (Suave is great) 
You just mix 3 cups of baking soda with 1/2 cup of conditioner. I grabbed coconut and the house smells awesome. I feel like we are at a Caribbean Resort but then I snap back to the reality that we are in Ohio and it's cold. Ahh
 I just poured it in a bin and mixed with a spoon. I added a little more conditioner because it wasn't packing very nice into balls. You can store this in a ziploc and reuse by just adding more conditioner!
 It seriously feels pretty cool! 
I am semi considering filling up a baby pool with tons of this stuff and never touching real snow again??? haha Just joking but this is a great indoor activity that doesn't involve freezing your buns off and children crying that they are cold! Its a win win!!

Enjoy!! xoxo

Mommy/Sammer only weekend!

This past weekend the big boys went with Daddy and Grandpa on their annual hunting trip! It was Jude's first year to attend and his first flight with Gpa!!!

The boys had a blast. Sadly they saw NO deer and came home empty handed and hungry! haha! Meanwhile. Sam and I had an entire weekend to ourselves. I got so much cleaning and organizing done around here and we could come and go as we pleased. It was pretty darn awesome!! I also finally got Sam alone for some pictures with my real camera. I usually use my cell phone for daily pictures but he thought it would be an awesome idea to toss that in the toilet and sadly my phone did not survive!! But alas I got some cute pics of my ALMOST one year old stud muffin!!
Not sure who is MORE guilty with Sam throwing my cell in toilet and Verner pooping in toyroom.
 His smile seriously just lights me up!
 Hands and Feet are my favorite baby feature. Especially the indents from his chub on his hands. I die.
 Mr Big stuff!!
So all in all it was a great weekend! I felt fully recharged and ready to conquer the world!! I am already looking forward to next years trip and another Mommy/Sam weekend! 

Now to post the pictures from Thanksgiving! It was such an amazing day!