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Wednesday, December 2, 2020

It Wasn't What I Had In Mind, Thanksgiving 2020

Thanksgiving wasn't what I thought it was going to be this year, but isn't that true for all of 2020? πŸ˜†Still, in my head, I had this vision of how we were going to celebrate, who we were going to celebrate with, and where, but, to make a long story short, things didn't work out. So, I had a choice: feel left out and be miserable the whole day OR make new plans and make the most of it.

After checking in with the Hubster we decided to host Thanksgiving at our home and invited three couples that we knew didn't have anyone else to celebrate the holiday with. We had a ridiculously huge feast, great company, fun, and WAY too much pie! Thanksgiving plans that started out as a bummer, turned into something even better.

Our guests included some of our dearest and longest friends on Maui who have invited us to their holiday get-togethers in the past. We invited some neighbors from down the road who hold a very special place in our hearts, as well as new neighbors that just moved into the house above us.

Looking back over the day, I realized that I never had any sense of trying to make a "Pinterest perfect" Thanksgiving. Normally I would've been Instagramming every plate of food, pie, recipe, centerpiece, and turkey feather, but filling up my phone with pictures for social media never crossed my mind. I attribute this to the 40-day fast I recently took from social media. The weight of comparison and documenting my every move with pictures and posts completely left me and I soaked up this Thanksgiving day with fresh eyes and appreciation.

And you know what? I didn't spend a dime! Jake and I have been trying to spend less these days, and so I had already budgeted our Thanksgiving food into my last grocery shopping
trip. Our 10lb turkey managed to feed us all, and our guests brought lots of sides to share. So I didn't need to buy anything else. Combine that with my freedom from social media and the need to buy that special dish or decoration or napkin set or scented candle or whatever just because so-and-so Instagrammed her beautiful table arrangement and made me jealous, and I was golden! The boys and I made handprint turkey place cards and Toby and I made centerpieces out of glass vases, silk autumn leaves, corn kernels, and pinecones that we had gathered from the forest. The table may not have been "Instagram-able," but it was memorable!

It was all such a good reminder that it isn't about what the table looks like. It's not about having the biggest turkey or having the most Pinterest-worthy setup. It's about being present, having fun, thinking of others, and getting creative with what you already have.

As we head into a month of parties, dinners, and celebrations I hope I, and you, remember what it's really about. The greatest gift of all, the gift of a Son and eternal life! And while I know my kiddos are getting lots of gifts from all those who love them dearly, I hope to use this weird year to really slow down and talk about the only gift that matters this season through advent and purposeful conversation.

How was your Thanksgiving? Who did you get to celebrate with? What was your favorite dish?

Filled with Hope,

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Savoring The Simplicity Of Childhood

Years ago when I used to babysit a lot—pre kiddos of my own—I used to buy them costumes after Halloween as their Christmas presents. I have always been frugal, even when I didn't have to be, and buying costumes at post-Halloween prices was a great way to get something the kids would love at a fraction of the price.

These days I do this for my own kiddos, though I don't hold out on them until Christmas ;-) I hit up our local Wal-Mart a few days after Halloween and snagged some sweet Batman, Superman, Spiderman, and Owlette costumes for $2.50-$5 each. They have already provided hours of entertainment, joy, and fun! Oh, and the cuteness factor is 😍😍😍

In addition, they've really been getting into Avengers movies, watching Spider-Man do backflips, stunt shows, and Jackie Chan. This has inspired them to take their costumed selves out onto the trampoline and do flips and tricks, and it's adorable.

Since my nose hasn't been plastered in my phone as much lately, it's these kinds of things that I'm learning to appreciate more. These are magical moments that won't last forever. Weeks ago I may have missed out on them, brushed them aside, or been too distracted to appreciate, but these are the moments I want ingrained in my memories:

  • The giggles
  • The dialogue they create
  • How they insist upon calling each other by whatever character name they are currently pretending to be (even if they're pretending to be the same character!)
  • The way Toby strikes a "superhero landing" pose every time he does a somersault
  • Teddy calling himself "spiderweb" because he can never remember to say "Spider-Man," but then he'll pull off his mask and say, "Just kidding. It's me, Teddy!"

Last week I was mourning the loss of so many of our usual holiday activities—Sugar Cane Train rides, Da Maui Sleigh rides, the Christmas tree lighting ceremony at The Grand Wailea, watching Santa arrive on the beach—but you know what? To Toby and Teddy, at this stage of their lives, the littlest things are plenty magical, special, and fun. They are having a bast with their imaginations and so many other things, that it's okay not to have those other activities. We can still go look at Christmas lights and decorate and have parties with groups of close friends, and that's all we need.

I hope this Christmas is one for the books, not because we survived 2020 and it was weird, but because we took the time to soak in all the small, magical stuff—the simple joys of hot cocoa, popcorn, a Christmas movie, making crafts for gifts, decorating cookies, reading Christmas books, and following the star each day as it makes its way over the manger, guiding the wise men to Emanuel, God with us.

Filled with Hope,

Monday, November 23, 2020

Friendsgiving and Mini Pie Chacuterie Recipe Round Up

I've been a member of MOPS (Mothers of Pre Schoolers) for five years now since Toby was just 3 months old. It has been such a blessing to have other mamas to do life with. I'm so thankful for my friends who invited me to join because I thought it was for moms of kiddos that were in preschool as in 3-to-4-year-olds haha 

Generally, we meet twice a month during the school year. We have a speaker who shares on things like motherhood, marriage, friendship, and spiritual growth, discussion time, fellowship, and—pre-COVID—a wonderful potluck! We also get together for monthly playdates and a "mom's night out." This past weekend was my favorite moms night out event: Friendsgiving!

Not long after having kids, a mom will realize that mealtimes will never be the same. Whether it's balancing an infant on one arm while eating with the other, or learning the fine art of cooking THEIR food first so yours is—hopefully—still hot when you actually get around to eating it. Chances are that by the time you sit down they'll be ready for seconds and you'll have to get back up anyway. And that's not counting all the messes you'll have to deal with.

Bottom line: sit-down meals kinda go out the window.

So, that's why I love Friendsgiving with MOPS. We get to eat a meal in peace, enjoying uninterrupted conversations over still-hot plates of food. It's kind of magical.

This year I got the idea to make a pie charcuterie board after seeing one on Pinterest. Of course, I later realized the one I saw had used those 50 cent pies for Walmart on theirs, while I had painstakingly made all of mine completely from scratch - but it was worth it of course.

Here's a roundup of the recipes I used!

Easy Pie Crust - I quadrupled this recipe to make enough dough for all three types of pies I made.

Mini Pumpkin Pies - I used a snowflake cookie cutter to make these pies even cuter. I also discovered that I had to cook them 8-10 minutes longer than the recipe called for. I just kept checking every 2-3 minutes until a knife inserted came out clean.

Mini Apple Pies - These came together quickly! The only trouble I had was moving the lattice onto the pies, so enlisted the help of a spatula which made it much easier.

Reese's Pie - I messaged my mom for this recipe from an old cookbook she has. It's been a family favorite holiday pie for most of my life!

Reese's Pie

1 baked pie shell
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 large box chocolate pudding, made according to directions.
Cool Whip

Mix peanut butter and powdered sugar. Put 3/4 of the mixture into the pie shell. Pour prepared pudding on top. Sprinkle the remaining peanut butter mixture over the pudding. Then top with Cool Whip. Cool and serve.

For the mini pies, I cut out 20 (because that was more than enough for what I needed) three-inch circles of dough and pressed them into greased muffin pans, making sure the dough reached the top of the pan. Pierce the dough several times with a fork. Bake at 350 for 15-17 minutes or until cooked through. You can use the flat side of a spoon to press the pie shells down on the bottom and sides as they may puff up while baking. Allow to cool completely before sprinkling a little of the peanut butter mixture into the bottom, spreading prepared pudding on top, sprinkling more of the peanut butter mixture on, and topping off with Cool Whip. I did have leftover filling, even with making 20 mini pies, so I just put them in cups and the boys were happy to have a special snack.

With Thanksgiving this week I'd love to hear your favorite dish or family recipe!! Another must-have at our gatherings is sweet potato casserole (not the marshmallow kind) I also brought that to Friendgiving and returned with a completely empty dish! Let me know if you want that family recipe! 

Filled with Hope,

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Our Favorite Keiki Beach

Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles
The boys and I managed three trips to our favorite keiki (Hawaiian word for child) beach this week: the Kelepolepo Fishpond. It's our favorite because there's a beautiful man-made rock wall that keeps out the bigger waves, and on calm days at low tide, it's almost as calm as a swimming pool. We also spot a lot of honu (Hawaiian word for turtle). This past Thursday we counted 17, which was the most I'd ever counted there at one time.

The uncle (Hawaiian term for any older man, especially if you don't know their name) that has been rebuilding the wall this year said that because this site is now better protected it attracts more honu to rest on the wall. He also built a shelf next to the wall, that sits just under the water, that makes an attractive nesting spot for the honu.

Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles
The honu we see here are Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles, which are the largest hard-shelled turtle in the world. They are native to Hawaii and are considered endangered. You are required by local and federal law to not go closer than 10 feet to them. Thankfully our boys have gotten used to this and they're pretty respectful of the turtle's space. So, if you ever come visit our beautiful island, please don't be that tourist who takes a photo sitting right next to one.

We love meeting friends at this beach and hanging out. A group of us moms with young kiddos started a group text so we can share when we are going and plan meet-ups.

It's fun to finally be at this stage with the boys where I can bring my chair and actually "sittervise" (supervising from a sitting position πŸ˜‚), and visit with friends. It's the one thing that feels close to normal in this crazy world.

Kalepolepo Fishpond Wall
There are 14 honu in this photo! Can you spot any?

Kalepolepo Fishpond Kihei Maui
I thought being off of social media would leave me feeling isolated, but in the last few weeks, as I've kissed Facebook and Instagram goodbye for a spell, I've become more intentional about socializing face-to-face. Social media often gives us a false sense of socialization, making us feel like we're connected to people and relating to others, but the truth is it's just a poor counterfeit of the real deal. You can never replace in-person conversations where you can read body language, facial expressions, and enjoy conversations that go deeper than a meme.

Anyway, we've had a blast spending quality time with our friends at the Fishpond. It's been said that if you're lucky enough to live on an island, you're lucky enough. But I think we are awful blessed too!

Filled with Hope,

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Invitation To Create Playdough Turkeys

About a year ago I came across an idea on Pinterest called "Invitation to Create."

Basically what you do is gather a bunch of art supplies and put them in a container. Then give it to your kiddos along with an idea of what they are going to create. After that, you just sit back and allow them the freedom to run with it and make it their own. Whatever their little minds and hands decide to do is what they do. This is also called "open-ended crafting." We've created monsters, leaf people, easter eggs, and more!

This week we did a two-part "Invitation to Create," and the boys loved it so much that I thought I would share it with you.


First I made playdough, a double batch:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 tbsp cream of tartar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp oil

Mix the dry ingredients together in a pot. Add water and oil. Cook over medium/low heat until the dough looks dry, making sure to stir it constantly and flipping it over at the end. Let it rest until cool enough to handle.

I separated the playdough into six balls, dropped some food coloring into each ball, and let the boys do the work of mixing in the color. We added scents to the balls, too—ie. cinnamon to our red and nutmeg to our orange.

Don't walk away for 5 minutes because you'll come back to find the dough smooshed all over the porch tiles 😫

Anyway, that was day one. We bagged up our dough, placed it in ziplock bags, and stored it in the fridge.


A couple days later I put together a tray of feathers, beads, pipe cleaners, corn kernels, and googly eyes. The Invitation to Create involved using these fun accessories to turn our balls of playdough into turkeys. Toby and Teddy made a whole flock!

One of my favorite things about this craft is that we took apart our creations when we were done—we put all the accessories away to save for another day and stored the playdough back in the fridge. This meant that we didn't have a whole family of turkeys to find a shelf for. Whew! I think any mom of young kiddos can appreciate not accumulating more trinkets, no matter how adorable they are. We took pictures of our creations and put everything away.

The boys love playdough, so I plan to do more activities like this in the coming months.

Since saying goodbye to social media a few weeks ago, it's been such a delight to be more present with the boys. I find myself cherishing these moments a bit more, relishing in their little smiles and their little hands and the little funny things they say and do.

Some funny things Toby says that I want to remember is, "lawning the grass," which is his term for mowing the grass, and "winching the wipers," aka spraying windshield washer fluid on the car.

Last night at bedtime Teddy wanted to do high-fives with Daddy—you know the traditional "Up high... down low... TOO SLOW!" But instead, he said, "Up high... down low... never mind!" πŸ˜‚ Teddy has also recently learned Jingle Bells and I catch him singing it throughout the day in the cutest little voice 😍

And yes, you may have noticed our Christmas tree in the background of some of the photos because we are already decorated for Christmas, but I'll save that story for another post! When does your family put up the Christmas tree?

Filled with Hope,

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Don't Be Scared Of Halloween

Teddy has recently gotten hooked on the YouTube show Steve and Maggie (Jake and I find it completely obnoxious, but there could be worse things he wants to watch I suppose.) There are several Halloween specials that Teddy just adores; in fact, it's kinda funny how he is so enthralled with Halloween and yet Toby loves all things Christmas. Anyway, Teddy sings, in the cutest little voice, "don't be scared of Halloween, when witches and ghosts come out to play..." And, folks, lemme tell ya, it's adorable 😍

Halloween looked different for us this year with there being so many restrictions due to the pandemic. Our church normally hosts a Trunk or Treat event, and we have participated every year we've lived here, but they made the hard decision to not have it due to regulations here on Maui. Thankfully some friends invited us to a Halloween party and the boys had a blast—donut eating contest, pinata smashing, ziplines, and way too much candy! 

Originally our family was planning to coordinate Halloween costumes, but when I went to the store to get a few things for our Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf outfits—Teddy was going to be the wolf πŸ˜‚—the boys weren't having it. Teddy didn't want to be a wolf or a pig, so I asked him what he would like to be. He found a fireman's hat and declared "FIREMAN SAM!" After much debate, Toby decided to be the same thing. Sigh. Ok, fine. I'd rather them have fun with it then force them into something they don't want to do.

So that left me and Jake. We haven't really done many "couple costumes," but I settled on a magician and his rabbit. 

It was a fantastic night, lots of laughs, so many friends, and something that felt truly normal. Now we are into November and Christmas lists are on my mind, Christmas cards have been ordered, and we are working on decorating the house πŸ˜†

Many of the traditions we have made around the holidays in years past will not be happening this year, so I'd love to hear some of your favorite traditions that you have done that we could still do. Please share them below! One of our favorite traditions is a walk through a neighborhood to admire the Christmas lights while chowing down on—don't judge us—McDonald's. 

Filled with Hope,

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Reverse Trick-or-Treating

Pumpkin Whoopi Recipe
Everything is weird. That could be the real theme of 2020 πŸ˜†

As the holidays approach, I've been wondering how many of our usual traditions won't happen because events and activities will be cancelled or modified. I'm trying to stay two steps ahead by coming up with different things we can do this year, and "reverse trick-or-treating" was one of the first ones we tried out.

First, we made pumpkin whoopie pies. As you can see in the photo, Toby likes to help (long enough to lay claim to a mixing spoon for licking 😏). Here's the recipe we followed, and would definitely make again!

Fall Inspired Whoopi Pies

  •  3 
    all-purpose flour
  •  2 
  • Pumpkin Whoopi Pie Recipe
    baking powder
  •  1 
    baking soda
  •  1 
  •  2 1/2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
  •  1 
    granulated sugar
  •  1 
    dark brown sugar
  •  1 
    canola or vegetable oil
  •  3 
    chilled pumpkin puree
    (canned pumpkin)
  •  2 
  •  1 
    vanilla extract


  •  3 
    powdered sugar
  •  8 
    cream cheese
    (at room temperature)
  •  1/2 cup 
    unsalted butter, at room temperature
  •  3 
    maple syrup
  •  1 
    vanilla extract


  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  2. 2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger and nutmeg. Set aside.
  3. 3. In a separate bowl, whisk the granulated sugar, the dark brown sugar, and the oil together. Add the pumpkin puree and whisk to combine thoroughly. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until combined.
  4. 4. Sprinkle flour mixture over pumpkin mixture and whisk until completely combined and no flour streaks remain.
  5. 5. Use a small cookie scoop or a large spoon to drop a rounded, heaping tablespoon of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart.
  6. 6. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cookie comes out clean. The cookies should be firm when touched. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool completely on a cooling rack.
  7. 7. To make the filling, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth with no visible lumps, about 3 minutes. Add the cream cheese and beat until smooth and combined, about 2 minutes. Add the powdered sugar a little at a time, then add the maple syrup and vanilla and beat until smooth.
  8. 8. To assemble the whoopie pies: Turn half of the cooled cookies upside down. Pipe or spoon the filling (about a tablespoon) onto that half. Place another cookie, flat side down, on top of the filling. Press down slightly so that the filling spread to the edges of the cookie. Repeat until all the cookies are used. Put the whoopie pies in the refrigerator for an hour to firm before serving.
  9. Pumpkin Whoopi Pie Recipe
After they were good and solid the boys donned their costumes and delivered a few to some neighbors. This might have to become a new tradition, as not only was it fun, but it was a good way to bless friends and spread some smiles.

Are you thinking of ways to celebrate the upcoming holidays differently? I'd love to hear your ideas, so leave a comment below!

Filled with Hope,

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Redeeming The Time

It's been a week without social media, and, honestly, the longer I go the more I wonder if I'll ever go back. Sure, sometimes I wonder what people are up to or if I'm missing out on something, and sometimes I miss being able to share with friends and family what the boys are up to, BUT I don't miss the noise, the time wasted scrolling, the frustration it can evoke, the comparison, the jealousy, the "highlight reel" of people's lives.

At the beginning of every year I pick a word that represents some area of self-improvement I want to focus on. I can't remember what I picked this year—and I suppose if I was on social media I could scroll back and find it—so instead I'll pick a word based on what I think God wants me to focus on right now: redeem. Specifically, redeeming the way I use my time.

It started in March after attending a local If: Gathering, a national women's conference. I felt God tugging at my heart to wake up earlier to spend time in my Bible and prayer, prioritizing Him before anything else in my day.

Then in September, I felt like I needed to redeem my afternoon time, that downtime during the boys' naps when I'd fall asleep or scroll my feed for two hours or watch shows—nothing wrong with any of that, by the way, but I knew for me I could be using my time better.

Around this same time a friend was looking for part-time help at her t-shirt shop, which just so happened to fill that afternoon time. And so, naptime redeemed! Instead of wasting away 2-3 hours of my afternoon, I get to spend 4 hours helping friends, visiting with customers, being active, and earning some extra money that I hope to squirrel away for an epic 10-year anniversary trip (I've got another year and a half to save for it ;-) ).

Finally, at our local MOPS meeting at the beginning of October, we touched upon the theme of: Decide To Rise. During the discussion, the Lord convicted me to delete from my phone a silly game called Township—my competitive side had lead me to waste way more hours than I should have in that game and it was time for it to go. Goodbye my little town!

And BINGO! More time redeemed!

That was the chain of events that lead me toward this idea of stepping away from social media. And as hard as it was to cut the cord, it's surprisingly been so rewarding and much easier than I thought it would be. My desire to be more present with my kids has happened naturally. You know what they say: phone down, eyes up!

Speaking of the boys, we are headed to the beach with friends before a much-needed rain comes for a few days, so I'll sign off for now and touch base soon.

Oh, and I'm working on family Halloween costumes. Do you dress as a family theme or every member for themselves? Any ideas for family themes you've done or seen? Or, if it's not a secret, what are your kiddos dressing up as this year? Share in the comments, please!

Filled with Hope,

Friday, October 23, 2020

The Most Beautiful Pumpkin Patch

If any year has made it challenging to keep up with traditions this would be the one! Whether it's parties, holidays, parades, theme parks, trips, annual activities, or something else, most of them have been canceled, closed, postponed, or been so needlessly hampered by regulations that they're just not fun anymore.

It was the same for our annual trip to the pumpkin patch, the most beautiful pumpkin patch in the world if you ask me ;-) It's one of the few things Toby has done every year of his life. The boys love it and they talk about it for weeks afterward.

But this year I almost didn't take them. New regulations, masks required for adults in the hot sun, time limits, and no corn maze, it almost didn't seem worth it. Thankfully both of our boys are still under five and are not required to wear a mask so for them it wasn't quite as bad. So I put my own annoyance aside and decided to take them. They had a blast! Though they were disappointed there was no corn maze, they had no issue turning the sunflower patch into one of their own. Sort of. LOL!

So here's my photo dump, all the photos I would normally share on stories or my feed :-)

What are some of your favorite fall traditions? Here on Maui, this pumpkin patch is mine, but when we are in New England I love getting my dad's side of the family together for an afternoon of apple cider making :-)

PS. The more days that go by on my social media fast the less I think about it. I find myself enjoying the moments for myself instead of trying to capture them to share with the world. Learning to store up these moments as treasures in my heart and mind.

Filled with Hope,