Monday, December 31, 2012

Top 5 of 2012

Adios, 2012! 
You've been good to our family. 
You turned out way better than 2011. 
But the odds were stacked against you with this whole deployment departure. You never had a chance at, "Best Year Ever"! 
And now, 2013 is overshadowing the end of your reign with the Homecoming. 
My only small concession is to highlight our 
Best of 2012. 

#5 Hiking
We explored some new trails this year. These are our local favorites: Lake Oneill, Griffith Observatory, Cabrillo National Park, and Wood Canyon Trails.

#4 Dating My Husband
This year we began dating again after a 13 year break. Yes, I'm embarrassed to share that. Anniversaries and Marine Corps birthdays were about the only cause to get a sitter in the past. Something changed this year for the better.

#3 Disneyland
This may be the only time Disney is not number one. We bought 3-day passes this year and it was worth every penny. We celebrated my birthday, we took my sister, and once again as a family before my husband deployed.

#2 Christmas in Iowa

#1 Family Vacation to Gulf Coast
Everyone in our family agrees. Our trip to the Gulf Coast was the best thing about 2012. It was our least planned and least ambitious family vacation ever. Love how that works out!

Thanks for everything!


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Gratitude Journal

Happy Sunday! I hope you all have blue skies and a warm sun shining on you today!
There is something about being back in sunny California that refreshes my soul. We had a great trip to Iowa and enjoyed our time with family. However, we were in a constant state of FREEZING and bundled from head to foot with no reprieve from the cold.

I am thankful for the sun, the clear skies, and warmer temperatures of home. I think Christmas should only be celebrated in warm climates from here forward.

I am thankful we had a safe trip. The distance from our home to our family is long. Accidents, flat tires, or engine troubles can happen anytime. I am very grateful we made it from here to there to here with no major issues.

I am thankful we made the trip. The time away was enough to refresh all of us. My mind is  renewed and I have energy to start the new year on a positive note. 

I am thankful my mother-in-law returned to California with us. She is now visiting family and friends in the area. It's good for her to getaway.

I am thankful I was able to to spend some extra time with my sister. I can't think of a previous visit when we've been together as much. We shopped, wrapped presents, made holiday goodies, and chatted. I think there may have been a little dancing in grandma's kitchen too. I also got to meet her crazy puppy, Mini.

I am thankful for breakfast with my (step)mom. My grandma watched the kids so I could have some alone time. It's so nice to have uninterrupted adult conversation with a parent.

I am thankful for all my family who set aside time to visit with us in Iowa. Family and extended family are so important to me and my husband. We try very hard to instill the same values in our children. I am glad our families continue to put in the effort to see us. Thank you!

I am thankful for my friends. The military lifestyle does not make it easy to keep friends (close by). It's one of my biggest frustrations. I feel I am constantly making friends because I am constantly saying goodbye to friends. This holiday I was reminded of the quality of friends I have. Although many states or continents separate us, we still exchanged holiday greetings and updates. Thank you!

This list could go on. I feel blessed beyond what I deserve. I am thankful for God's blessings and grace. 


Monday, December 24, 2012

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Gratitude Journal

Hello friends! Another Sunday rolls around and I find myself unprepared for hosting a link up. I apologize to those who follow & participate. Shall we make a deal? No Sunday Gratitude Link Up until the new year. I will be entertaining an out of town guest next weekend and I know blogging will be a distant thought.

I have missed journaling this week. I couldn't let another Sunday pass without a gratitude post. So much has happened since my last gratitude post and while traveling I left my journal at home. I am ready to release some positivity.

I am so so thankful for my children. Good days, long days...bring it on! Every day is worth it!

I am so thankful for life. 

I am thankful for the blessings in my life. 

I am thankful to have the opportunity to be reminded when I take it all for granted.

I am thankful we are celebrating the holiday with family. My kids are enjoying their time with family. There is snow on the ground. They couldn't be more satisfied with their Christmas.

I am thankful for meals shared with loved ones this week.

I am thankful for family gathering around grandma's table. One of my favorite places to be.

I am thankful America has responded positively to Sandy Hook. Thank you for showing your kindness and goodness to others. The #26actsofkindness has touched my heart. You prove there is good in the world.

I am thankful for Christmas, the ultimate gift given.

I look forward to the next few days of Christmas celebrations with family. 
I wish you a wonderful Christmas!


Friday, December 21, 2012

Twas The Week Before Christmas

This week we are celebrating Christmas with our family. The kids are having a blast with the snow, the pets, and our extended family.
It’s a nice needed break for all of us.

My youngest has become fast friends with grandpa’s dog. It’s so cute to watch the dog follow him around.

What is it about an Auntie and the hair?
I try in vain to get a braid in my daughter’s hair. The answer is always ‘no’.
When the aunt suggests a braid, the answer is ‘yes’.

What is it about grandmas and their attention to detail?
Beautifully decorated trees and stockings hung by the chimney chairs with care.
I can barely pull it together enough to hang some bulbs on the tree.
Grandmas set the bar high!

This post would not be complete if I did not talk about snow. We got our White Christmas. A blizzard blew through Wednesday & Thursday. My kids love every icy, snow covered minute!
I am not a fan.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Snow Break!

It would not be an acceptable road trip without a little snow break in Arizona. These are California kids. Snow is still a novelty. Once we hit the mountains in Arizona, we take a tree lined exit and let the kids tromp around in the snow. They LOVE it!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Mommy Moments Link Up

Hello everyone! I am in the midst of cross country travel. Over the river and through the woods. To grandmother's house we go! Traveling with three kids and a dog is filled with lots of Mommy Moments! I'm about ready to rest my weary head, so let me introduce you to this week's Mommy Moments host, Megan.

Hey guys! It's Megan , The Mrs, here and I'm so excited to help Faith out by hosting the link up for a little while. Her little bundle is almost here! How exciting is that? How many of us can remember back to that waiting period before our first little one arrived! Some of us waited, waited, waited, and others were caught by surprise, but each story is glorious and wonderful!

I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know some of you as you have linked up your weekly stories. Last week we all loved this great post from Proverbs and Pacifiers! She's full term! How exciting! She asked about how we named our babies! My husband has always wanted a little girl named Madison, so there was no options there. I loved it, and thought it was beautiful. We had a hard time choosing her middle name, Lyric. RJ is very musical and plays several instruments. He also loves to sing - so Lyric seemed appropriate. Go share how you decided on your baby's name :)

Proverbs and Pacifiers

Let's get this party started!
To link up, just...

1. Follow Host: The Mrs
and our guest host for the week is

2. Link up your post!
Post can include anything related to mommy-hood, children, homemaking, pregnancy etc. If you aren't a mom yet, feel free to link up your preparation for motherhood, your journey as you try to conceive, or even a post that would be encouraging to the other moms in the party!

3. Add the Mommy Moments button to your post or blog so everyone knows where you are linking up!

The Life Of Faith

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4. Explore some of the other posts in the link-up and say hello to some new blog friends! 

5. Tweet or Share the link up on Facebook so we can all make even more friends!

Now, let's all go show some love and encouragement to Faith as she prepares to bring her sweet one into this world! 

Let Megan or myself know if you want to be involved in co-hosting :)


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Tagged! Christmas Style!

Thank you Nichole, from JustSomeJane, for tagging me in this fun Christmas Q & A.

1. What makes Christmas such a special holiday for you and your family?
Christmas is a religious holiday for my family. I love the celebrations and presents. But Itry not to focus on those things above Jesus' birth.

Were you told the truth about Santa Claus by your parents of did you find out another way? you plan on lying to your kids (if you have them or plan on having them)?
I remember vividly when I found the truth about Santa. I may still be a little bitter about it. I was five and my older brother had tried in earnest to convince me Santa wasn't real. I would not hear of it. One day at Grandma's house, my brother took me up to her bedroom and showed me some Cabbage Patch toys hidden under the bed. He told me "wait and see. Those toys will be under the tree".  Sure enough, Christmas morning came and the toys were under the tree. *sigh* Gotta love an older sibling!

My brother and I the summer after "the incident".

3. Real tree or fake tree?

I love a fake tree. No mess. However, we have managed to have a real tree for the last five years. Maybe I subconsciously like the real tree more? 

4. Do you open presents on Christmas morning, Christmas Eve or both?
We open presents on both. My husband's family gifts on Christmas Eve because it's their tradition. My families' gifts on Christmas Day.

5. What is your favorite Christmas movie to watch? Favorite Christmas song to sing or listen to? ( I know…technically two questions)

I love to watch Elf. It always makes me laugh. Any version of "Baby, It's Cold Outside" will get me dancing and singing. It's my favorite holiday song.



Leave you answer in the comment section below.


Friday, December 14, 2012

Christmas Spirit {in pictures}

This week's pictures document the Christmas celebrations from this last weekend. Saturday was super busy with two Christmas parties. Our church hosts a monthly military breakfast, December's event was Christmas themed. I posted a picture of the winning gingerbread creation: the Nativity. Over achievers! I included a picture of our entry: a helicopter. Yes, a helicopter, not a "race thing" as other competitors were calling it.

Our second party was for all the families of deployed Marines. The party was a BIG production and my kids had a blast. Temporary tattoos, balloon creations, inflatable games, and crafts occupied their time. We had a nice meal and the kids were given gifts. My son declared Saturday 'the best day ever'! 

This week we made chocolate covered pretzels for our neighbors. My plan was to bake cookies but I did not have time. Pretzel treats are quick, easy, and well received. For our teachers, we did simple Santa bowls with treats. The entire gift cost $5-6. I took time to write a personalized 'thank you' note for each teacher. I feel we have hit the teacher jackpot this year. I want them all to know it!

What would be a week in December without the elf? He continues to bring joy through mischief to our home. This elf creates daily messes for me to clean up. I'm guessing Santa runs a pretty tight ship at the North Pole and elf is just blowing off some pent up energy. Poor Buddy!

Elf and Daddy Doll were protecting the Christmas tree.

Snow Fort!

You get four days of elf on the shelf here and seven on Instagram. I think you should join me. I'm @semperfifam. This week, I'm posting vacation pictures. I can't wait to share but you must follow. My profile will be private until the new year. Just a reminder, Adventures of a Semper Fi Family now has a Facebook Page. LIKE us HERE.

Happy Friday!


Wednesday, December 12, 2012


I've decided to mark the occasion of 12.12.12 with a Facebook Page. 
Nothing special, just a way to mark the date with a little blog growth.
I hope you will come join me by 'Like'-ing the page.

You can find it HERE.


What is Wrong With My Daughter???

Recently, I overheard my daughter telling the neighborhood girls it was ok to marry your cousin.

My response: "Um, no you can't! Please stop telling your friends that".

(You can read the unedited version HERE.)

After convincing Ky, it is socially unacceptable to marry ANY of your cousins, we began tackling other serious pre-teen issues. For example, what socks to wear?  Not a decision to be taken lightly!

Which brings us to our dinner table last night. Lighthearted dinner conversation about having babies. *sigh* Hubby is always MIA when these take place. Luckily, my daughter spear headed the conversation trying to convince us siblings can procreate. TOGETHER. 

What is wrong with my child?!? And who tells her this stuff?!? 

She says she is learning it in school. Apparently, incest is all the rage in Europe. Incestuous practice ensures people don't get diseases (apparently).

What you've never heard of this??? 


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Gratitude Journal & Link Up #8

Gratitude has been at the forefront of my mind this week. In addition to journaling, our women's group took the time to share our own blessings this week. Much like this link up, it was personal and thought provoking. When others began sharing, I found myself saying "Oh yeah, me too!" I love the effects of gratitude journaling. It really does the heart good. 

Please link up below if you would like to join our community of bloggers posting gratitude this week. 

It was a busy weekend in a good way. Yesterday we had Christmas parties at church and my husband's work. I am grateful for the busy-ness.  I am grateful for the kid focused activities. They need special moments. I am grateful to have spent time with other wives from my husband's work. I really didn't know them prior to yesterday and they were a great bunch of gals. We entered the gingerbread competition and had a blast trying to construct a helicopter out of graham crackers. I am grateful for our church. I have never felt a more perfect fit. I am grateful to know God and have Him during this deployment. It's a completely different experience.

I am grateful for the generosity of the party planners and volunteers yesterday.   I would guess they had a long list of things to do. Thankfully, they put it aside for a few hours to ensure my kids could be pampered with temporary tattoos and glittery paper crafts. You never know what 3 hours of your time means to someone else.  

I am grateful for life. Do you ever feel that way? It really is a gift to live another day. If you have lost someone special, then you know it in a very real way. 

I am grateful for my health. I am grateful for my families' health. I journal this a lot. It's the ultimate blessing!

I am grateful for December. The month of Christmas. As much as we get preoccupied with gifts and pretty decorations, we cannot deny the reason we celebrate. Jesus. Not comfortable with the five letter word. Then think of the ultimate gift as LOVE. Try not to lose sight, especially the closer we get to the 25th.

I am grateful this holiday will be spent with family. My mood has lifted considerably knowing this.

I am grateful I finished my laundry last night. If you do laundry for more than one person, then you know it's something to be grateful for. I will enjoy all 6 hours of being laundry-free! 

*Pictures to come. Computer and phone not getting along*


Friday, December 7, 2012

InstaFriday: Around the house

Are you familiar with Instagram? It's a social media outlet similar to 
Facebook & Twitter. 
The focus is pictures. It's short, sweet, and to the point. 
I use Instagram to post some of the everyday happenings at home.
If you would like to follow, my user name is semperfifam.
Next week, I will be temporarily making my account private. 
Which means you have to follow to view my pictures. 
This week I've been documenting Elf on the Shelf's mischief around the house.
The kids weren't too keen on his arrival but have warmed to his antics.
He is setting the tone for a joyous holiday season. 
As always, my kids take center stage. Can you tell who our family clown is? 

There really is no explanation needed 
for the above picture.
Love it!


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Teacher Gift {Pinterest Style}

Posts seem to be few and far between these past two weeks. I apologize. I've been busy with the kids, life, and preparing for Christmas. However, I understand how blog reading fits into a daily schedule and not having new posts messes with the system. Oh, that doesn't happen to you?!? Um, me neither!

Today I'm cleaning and purging all the stuff just sitting collecting dust. My mom is coming to visit next week and my mother in law soon after. The pressure! I already have one de-merit from the MIL because I don't have cable. Who am I kidding I have at least 20 prior offenses. Regardless, my husband's mother is a self-proclaimed reality television junkie. Without cable, I am hugging the line of "good" daughter-in-law behavior.

Christmas shopping is becoming an epic fail. I desperately wanted to have shopping completed this week. There is no chance of it. I'm now concentrating on teacher's gifts. Here is my go-to teacher gift this year.


Here is my go-to gift for the neighbors.


That is all my friends. I will see you Friday when I post my phone pictures from the week. 
Follow me on Instagram @semperfifam to see my #capturingdecember Photo-A-Day and other fun! 
I will be making my Instagram photos private next week. 
So you must be a follower to see them.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Sunday Gratitude Link Up #7

Thank you for stopping by and linking up! Sunday Gratitude Link up is all about taking time out of your busy week and reflecting on your blessings. There is always something to be thankful for! 

The guidelines are simple:
  • Make it easy for the readers. Link up your post URL not your blog URL.
  • Link a post that expresses gratitude or thankfulness. 
  • Visit other gratitude bloggers and encourage them.
  •  Link back to this blog to help spread the word.
I am thankful for all who linked up last Sunday. Kelsey, from Keeping up with Kelsey, has warmed my heart with her weekly Thankful Thursday posts. I love to read the long lists of gratitude. Stop by and say hello!

I have had a week filled with all kinds of craziness. The only thing I can do is smile at the extremes of what has been happening. 

I AM GRATEFUL...'s December.
...we have a Christmas tree.
...the kids agreed on the tree without a standoff. Very grateful!
...we got the tree home without it falling off the car.
...we got it in the house without any major injuries.
...the tree has not fallen over after being set up.
... I am 100% capable of doing these things by myself. But I still miss him!