…about Disney, christmas 2015 + a long overdue update on life.

in this {doozy!} of a post, you’ll find the following:

  • sharing our holiday – Christmas 2015
  • all about L: hockey skates, a few giggly Lionel-isms + a recent development that has me feeling all sorts of reminiscent
  • all about Q: a birthday trip to Disney + our babe’s one-year photos
  • all about us: buying in to Dave Ramsey {pun intended!} + the big nine
  • an investment that’s given me peace of mind about all of the photos that i take
  • a book that i’m enjoying + reading in a new way this year
  • a project that i do every year for each boy that brings me so much joy

let’s get started!

Christmas 2015

we were so blessed this Christmas to have two growing littles to share in our joy of Christ’s birth.

evidence: our boys reading the Christmas story with me.



new traditions this holiday season included:

1) the arrival {and Christmas Eve departure} of Clive the Elf {on the Shelf}, named and much-loved by L; he delighted in seeing where she ended up each morning {though she didn’t like to move every day…ahem};

2) a Christmas Eve Eve {aka December 23} gift-opening session for the Mama and the Daddy of the house;

3) a Christmas Eve morning gift-opening session with just our little family of 4;



and 4) a Christmas Eve sleepover with Grandma Patty, Grandpa Joe and Uncle Brian at our house, complete with Christmas jammies.



we also got this ADORABLE photo of all 5 Gillis cousins in their Christmas garb; i dare your heart not to melt:


and, like the years before {2013, 2014}, here’s what our boys hauled in for gifts from Mama and Daddy this year:

Lionel, age 3.5:

want: Blaze + the Monster Machines Monster Dome Playset; need: Melissa + Doug Umbrella; wear: Seattle Mariners baseball hat; read: Ninja Turtles boxed set

Quincy, age 1:

want: Hape Scoot-Around Ride-on Bike; need: Minnetonka Moccasins {NOTE: size up – these were way too small!}; wear: St. Louis Cardinals baseball hat; read: The Going to Bed Book + 1, 2, At the Zoo

all about L

our biggest boy this year was elated to receive his very own pair of hockey skates {“blue, size 8,” per request in his letter to Santa Claus}.


he couldn’t wait to try them out on ice, so our family went to the local ice rink a few days after Christmas to take L for a spin around the ice.


at first, he was {adorably} discouraged, because “the ice was slippery, Mama,” but he slowly got the hang of it.


in a call back to my younger days as a figure-skating-obsessed kiddo who wanted to be Kristi Yamaguchi when i grew up, Mama tried to help him “march” on the ice to help him to grow comfortable with ice skating. it seemed to work well, even though he would much rather skate around the ice like this instead:


it was a wonderful time, though, and he frequently asks when we can go back to “his ice” to skate again.

a few memorable Lionel-isms as of late:

  • “Holy boy!” {i frequently utter “holy moly!” and “oh boy!” so this mash-up is quite adorable}
  • “Cuz my bed is just a little bit too bigger than your bed, Mommy.”
  • “When i grow bigger like this *moves his hands up in the air* i take a shower like Daddy. Lionel doesn’t like showers, but i take a shower like Daddy when i eat chicken nuggets and grow big like Daddy.”

finally…guess who has made a valiant return to our biggest’s heart?

welcome back, Gus the monkey.


our L grew quite attached to sweet Gus in his early years, but Gus has since fallen out of favor. while meltdowns would once ensue if Gus wasn’t in Lionel’s arms when he went, well, anywhere, Gus’s latest job has been to sit idly on L’s bed, like some stuffed animals eventually do.

but last night, when L and i were saying our prayers and thanking God for our family, for football players and hockey men and touchdowns {?!}, and for our teachers and friends, L dropped in Gus’s name and insisted on snuggling his green stuffed monkey as he slept.

and this morning, L insisted that Gus wanted to watch our boy go potty, wanted to share his pancakes {but that Gus didn’t need to be cleaned up, unlike my syrup-covered son}, and needed to go to school with Lionel.

i have to say, the return of Gus the monkey has this Mama feeling all sorts of nostalgic. i thought that he had moved beyond his love for pretend friends, in favor of his real friends at school, but just when i think that i have a grasp on who my boy is growing up to be, he surprises me. i just love being his Mama.

all about Q

while many people say that the second child is neglected a bit in comparison to the first, at least our sweet Q can say that his brother didn’t get to spend his first birthday at the most magical place on Earth – DISNEY WORLD.


in short {because our trip to Disney is deserving of its own post…hint, hint Jord}, we had a wonderful time in Florida. the boys were absolute gems from the moment that our plane left Sioux Falls, and their excitement made Jord and i feel like kids again. in other words, we can’t wait to go back.

a few photos, because you just can’t beat little boys in Mickey hats:



{Q’s adorable Mickey outfit from here}



when we returned from Disney, our sweet boys were sick for weeks {as i mentioned in this post}. but, after they returned to health, we scheduled a photo session with our favorite photographer, Kara of Creative Kindling, to snap one-year photos of this big guy:


we feel so grateful that Kara’s witnessed all of our most major life events, from our engagement and wedding to our kiddos joining our circus. in other words, we absolutely treasure these photos.





all about us

i mentioned this on Instagram last week:

Jordan and I started Financial Peace University last night + I can already tell that it will be life-changing and life-giving. We’ve had a budget since we were married, but we want to dropkick some student loans and save and spend more wisely, so it’s time to try something new.

we finished up our first week of homework over the weekend, and this adventure for us continues to be life-giving. it’s going to be hard, hard work the next few years of our lives as we try to dropkick our student loan debt and be more intelligent with our finances, but we are so excited to have a plan to guide our efforts, and to be taking this journey alongside other couples from our church. plus, Nancy + Will Ray are definitely helping me to catch a glimpse of what will be the fruits of our labor; i encourage you to follow along with them if you are either considering or currently enrolled in FPU, or even just want to be smarter about your money! Em for Marvelous is also a huge resource for this math-and-money-challenged girl; check her out!

in other news, on Wednesday, Jord and i will pause to mark nine years of life together. yes, it was just nine years ago on January 27, 2007, that i gave Jord permission to date me. and even though our lives have changed so, so much, and even though our lives probably look nothing like what we had planned when we first decided to do life together, i wouldn’t trade this life with him for anything. he’s who i will turn to, when we’re 80 years old, and say, “remember that?” he’s who i’ll share my greatest adventures in life with, and who i’ve had by my side for all of our adventures thus far. i’m so, so blessed to have a man like him.

iCloud storage

you guys, i used to wake up in the middle of the night in a sweat…all about my pictures – the ones of our wedding, the ones of our boys in their earliest days of life. i’d have nightmare after nightmare that the hard drive on our iMac would crash, and that our pictures would be irretrievable.

enter: iCloud storage.

in December, i took the plunge. for $0.99 per month, i’ve backed up all of my photos {and there are THOUSANDS, guys} to iCloud storage, and all of a sudden, i have peace of mind. in other words: it’s worth it, friends. you’re welcome.

what {and how!} i’m reading this year

Jord gifted me a subscription to Audible for Christmas this year, and i started listening to my first book last night. i’m currently “reading” When Breath Becomes Air by Dr. Paul Kalanithi, and it’s exquisite, guys. this man’s story is such a tragedy, yet he writes about it so eloquently and with such beauty that i literally caught myself forgetting to breathe as i listened to his words. i can’t wait to read more tonight. and if you haven’t already, read this – you MUST.

my favorite project for our boys

and lastly {if you’re still reading this, then you deserve an award or something for navigating the most rambling blog post ever}, i wanted to share a project that’s dear to my heart.

inspired by John and Sherry, each year, i create a photo yearbook for each of our sons. in these books i place photos and snippets of our family-related blog posts here. i use Blurb to create these photo books for my boys, and i’ve been so impressed with the ease of their desktop client, BookWright {formerly BookSmart}, and the quality of the books. Jord also used Blurb to create a book of my wedding blog as a birthday gift for me, and it’s one of my most treasured gifts. this isn’t a sponsored post or anything – i just wanted to share my love for Blurb with all of you!

and with that, i’m signing off for today – goodness knows that this post is long enough as it stands! but before i go, a short glimpse at what’s to come in this space:

  • reveal: our upstairs bathroom – phase I makeover!
  • reveal: a DIY “fireplace” in our upstairs living room!

{photos from Q’s one-year session above by Creative Kindling}

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Hi! I’m Sara.

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