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Yesterday’s weather was B-E-A-utiful! My family spent an EXQUISITE morning outside full of sledding, snowball fights, fort building and more!!!

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It was the perfect way to kick off this week.  A week we, as a family, are spending electronic free!  Yes, that’s right, no electronics at all!  I know, it seems almost impossible in this day and age, but we’re doing it.  Our kids were so desperate for electronics yesterday that they were making snow or ice cell phones, kindles, and tv’s…haha:-)

My husband and I have done this in the past but due to how often we were seeing our little brood glued to their Leapster Explorers, DSi’s, Playsation’s, Kindle’s, phones, television, you name it, we decided to make it a family affair.  For one week this family will be free of all electronics except our cell phones, but only for phone calls (we dont’ have a land line)…we aren’t even texting…gasp! (And for you literal people who think as my husband and a few of my close friends do, this only includes gaming/media type devices, we will still have electricity.  I had to throw that in their for a few of my friends…yes, I know how you think;-))

We are going to spend this week the old fashioned way…playing board games or cards with each other, reading books, playing outdoors, etc.  It was really fun to see our kids spending time with each other in a different way than usual.  Instead of playing a game on the Playstation together they played board games or four corners or used their imaginations as they played charades!  I normally have to force them to do this.   I’m really looking forward to what other ways we’ll spend this week together!

My family tried to take my camera away from me, to which I gave a great big, “NO WAY!”  Yes, I know it’s basically an electronic but it doesn’t count.  Too many EXQUISITE moments could be lost in this week where my kids are forced to play with each other or actually use their imaginations!

Also, I’m kind of breaking the “no electronics” rule right now by being on here.   Yes, sadly I will be gone for a week:-(  I wont even be on for WIWW, nor doing my “Exquisite Moments Of The Day” on FB.  But I’ll be back next Monday and I’ll fill you in on my favorite EXQUISITE moments from this week!  Until then…

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I love photography!  LOVE IT!  It’s a field I’ve considered going into since I was in high school and think maybe someday I’ll  become a professional but for now I just take pictures of my family!  I wanted to share my daughter’s 3rd year pictures I took last week, then thought I should share all of my kids most recent birthday pictures.  These aren’t pictures of their parties they are the pictures commemorating them turning another year older!  

Each year in their pictures I try to capture who they are, what things they are currently into and what they enjoy. I let them have a say in their outfit, though I also help to make sure it’s something I’d like them photographed in, and I let them help choose what props they might like to use in their pictures.  I want their birthday pictures to truly capture who they are!

It was really hard to do but I narrowed it down to just 5 of each of them!  

Gabrielle, my artistic 10 year old who loves reading, animal prints and having fun!

(She actually turns 11 in March so I’m going to have to do these again soon. Though I’ll probably wait ’til spring.)

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My sweet, girly, Miranda who loves to dress up, sing and dance, just turned 8 in November!

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My reptilian, amphibian loving little 5 year old being him silly self!  Pierce had to make sure his frog was in some photos too!

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The baby of our family, Elizabeth, was the most recent to be photographed!  She and her best friend, Bear-Bear, whom she received the day of her birth, just celebrated there 3rd birthday!

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This is what makes my life EXQUISITE, these four little cuties and, of course, my hubby!

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I feel so very blessed to have this family and a great camera (and it’s tripod friend) to capture life’s EXQUISITE moments!!!

P1200009My goal is to have a monthly post, that shows off some of that months favorite pictures!  I’m even thinking of creating a photography inlinkz party, so that some of you can show off your love of photography and share your EXQUISITE moments too!  I just have to figure out how to set up inlinkz…

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In this post I mentioned that this is the first year I’ve decorated for Valentine’s Day, but that isn’t entirely true.  I have done a bit of Valentine’s decorating for a tradition that’s now eleven years in the running…

When our youngest daughter was born, we found it wasn’t exactly easy going out on a romantic date on Valentine’s night.  So our first Valentine’s Day as parents I set to work making a nice dinner for the two of us to enjoy in our home and set the table for a candle light dinner.  From that day on it has been a family tradition to stay at home and have a fancy, candle lit Valentine’s dinner!

This year is no different from any other year, besides that we celebrated Valentine’s Day a day early.  My daughter has jazz dance tonight so we wouldn’t have time to fit in a nice meal, thus we opted to have our dinner a night early.  Which means…I spent yesterday baking, cooking and decorating.

I set my table with a runner I made from an old antique quilt and, like every year, I put a beautiful bouquet of Valentine’s flowers right in the center!  My kids always get to choose a rose from our bouquet after dinner, to keep in their room in a small vase.
P1240004On the table runner, is also a few candle sticks in red, at the base of the vase is one of my chunky feux pearl necklaces set about with pink christmas balls, one of my girls pink flower hair clips and my burlap “love” hearts.  Feux red rose petals are scattered randomly on top of the runner.

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Close up of the bouquet and arrangement at it’s base.

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This was my first attempt at tissue paper pom poms and I’ll admit there is definitely room for improvement, but my kids loved them!

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Every family member, from the tall to the small, gets to use our nice dinner wear, complete with a wine glass of their own.  Usually my youngest three kiddos use plastic kids plates and cups, but on this special night they get to use our nice dinner wear.

P1240009I had to get an evening shot right before we ate so you could get a better feel of the ambiance.  Candle light dinner’s really are beautiful!  I really need to do this more frequently than once a year.

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Not only do we set the table with our finest but we take the opportunity to dress up also.  Yes, we’re just in our home but it’s fun to dress up even for an evening in.   Here’s my youngest girlie and I just before dinner…

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All my kiddos waiting patiently as I capture this exquisite moment.

I love that when I told my kids to go pick out the clothes they want to dress up in for our dinner my son came down stairs dressed as the hulk!!!  He even had the mask on but of course had to take it off to eat:-)  So here is the Hulk and three pretty princesses!

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Our main course was a penne pasta bake and garlic bread.  I made a basic garlic bread with mozzarella on it for my kids and my husband and I had this artichoke bread, minus the artichokes. I’m not an artichoke fan.  It was so good and I will definitely make it again.

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Desert was a recipe I found on Pinterest called Raspberry Whip.  However, because raspberries were quite expensive and strawberries were on sale we replaced the raspberries with strawberries.  It was very, very, good!  And I’m looking forward to having some of the leftovers tomorrow:-)

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My kids always enjoy getting to use the little wine glasses, filled with sparkling white grape juice.  My youngest daughter enjoyed toasting and I taught her how to hook arms and drink.  She got quite a kick out of this!

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I also wanted to share this sweet little Valentine our middle daughter gave to us during dinner.  I LOVE that girl so much!

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You see, we have celebrated Valentine’s Day every year, and I do decorate somewhat, but normally it’s only my dinning room table for the one special day of Valentine’s!

So that was last night’s festivities, but I certainly don’t want the actual Valentine’s Day to go by with no festivites. My middle daughter and son will have class parties today, but my oldest daughter is a big middle schooler now and there are no Valentine’s parties when your a big kid…bummer.  And my youngest daughter isn’t in school yet so she has nothing going on to celebrate Valentine’s Day either.

 That’s why I made them all these cute little rolo dynamite sticks that say “You’re The Bomb!”.   I found this idea on Pinterest.

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 I put the dynamite rolos in the little Valentine’s Bin that Elizabeth made for them and they found them when enjoying their breakfast of red heart shaped pancakes, with strawberries, cool whip and chocolate syrup!

Normally my kids help make their lunches but sometimes I like to do something special for them so give them a day off and make it for them.   Today they have a special Valentine lunch of…

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…heart shaped PB&J’s, strawberry fruit roll-ups, strawberry yogurt, a chocolate peanut butter M&M cookie and a CapriSun that has a little Valentine note on it that reads, “Valentine, You Are My Sunshine!!!”  They have no idea what’s in their lunch boxes and I’m hoping they will be delightfully surprised when they open it today!

(This was not a Pinterest idea, it was all my own!  I was creative before Pinterest and still can be:-))

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With That I wish you a…

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I’ve been wanting to do this craft with my youngest daughter since I saw it on Pinterest. So simple but so cute! Plus kids just love any craft involving paint!

With her sister and brother making Valentine boxes for school…

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She has been wanting to make one also. So I thought why not turn the Pinterest art into one?! Thus this was pinspired (photo tutorial to follow:-))…

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1. Protect your child’s workspace if you don’t want any paint splatters on the surface being used. I taped down an unused trash bag.
2. Gather assorted paints, something to pour them on to (I used an ice cream container lid.), enough toilet paper cardboard for each color paint (be sure to shape them into hearts) and paper (we used card stock). Pour all the paints onto your lid and place a TP cardboard in each paint color.
3. Allow your child to be creative and have fun as they stamp away!
4. My daughter also used some clear glittery and pink puff paint that I had on hand. She loved squeezing this onto the paper!
5. When your little Picaso is done allow them to dry completely.
6. When they are thoroughly dry fold the card stock in half.
7. Let your child help you punch holes along the side of their folded artwork.
8. Teach them how to sew as they string yarn through the holes! Be sure to tie off each end. Also make sure you leave enough extra yarn on each side to tie it to the back of a chair, as we did, or wherever your child’s lite heart desires:-)
9. Your preschoolers bin is ready for some Valentine’s treats and some love notes from Dad, mom and siblings! Feel free to embellish with a big bow like we did, or whatever else you can think of.

My 3 year old truly had a blast as we worked on this together. She enjoyed the stamping part so much that each member of our family has a Valentine’s bin tied to the back of our dinning room chairs! I’m going to encourage our kids to leave little notes for each other, that say why they love them. I also plan on doing this and am excited for when they discover the notes I’ve already left in their bins!

*My apologies to you who viewed this post right after it was posted.  It’s my first job posting to my blog from iphone and there were a few hiccups to work out.  Hopefully it wont happen again:-)  

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We celebrated my baby girls 3rd birthday almost a month ago now!  It was a fun night and she was thrilled with her party…

From the balloons…

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To her duck cake and bubbly cupcakes!

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She loved the little rubber duck candles so much that she’s still playing with them!

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I used blue punch and put vanilla ice cream in it so that it would fizz up to look like bubbles.  The rubber ducky added to it makes the punch look like a bubble bath!

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My oldest daughter drew this giant duck for a game of…

Pin the bill on the duck!  I used dollar bills and the child whose bill was closest to the duck bill got to keep their dollar!

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The last game we played was one that provided lots of laughter, “Get The Bubbles In The Tub”!  I placed a large bowl full of cotton balls on a chair at one end of our living room and at the other end was an old wash basin.  The object of this game was to apply a liberal amount of vaseline to the kids’ noses and they had to get a cotton ball, which was to play the part of the bubbles, to stick on their nose then run with their cotton ball bubbles across the room and shake the bubble (cotton ball) into the wash basin.  No hands were allowed to be used only their vaselined nose could hold the bubble in place and only shaking could get it loose.  The child who got the most bubbles in the tub one a prize!

The birthday girl was so funny as she stood bent over on her tippy toes, wiggling her little head around trying to get a bubble on her little nose.

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She’s running her bubble to the tub…

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…and shaking it loose!

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If they happened to be lucky enough to get more than one bubble to stick on their nose then that worked in their favor!

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Love this one of my nephew!

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Here you can see my daughter’s bubble as it’s falling off to the right of her little head.  They really had to shake their heads around to get those bubble in the tub, it was so funny!

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We had a really “ducky” party!

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Happy 3rd Birthday, Elizabeth!

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I know, I know, I know…I’ve been gone for way too long.  I told you all I’d be back last Wednesday before I took a little break for Christmas and here it is the following Monday and I’m finally posting.  I posted on Facebook that the reason for my prolonged absence is because my back went out on me last Monday, but I know not all of you follow me on Facebook so I apologize to those of you who’ve been wondering where some new posts are.

Christmas break was super nice and really laid back.  Really laid back.  So much so that I have no outfit posts in my arsenal at the moment.  I spent all of Christmas vacation in pajamas when at home and my comfy clothes when at family and friends.  As much as I love getting dressed up and ready each day it was kind of nice to have 11 days of laziness.  In my defense I did still do my hair and makeup when I was going out or had people over, so I wasn’t completely lazy.

Christmas festivities were spectacular.  I always love my kids excitement when they come down the stairs Christmas morning and see our beautifully lit tree surrounded by presents.

The awe and excitement on their faces is priceless!  They loved every gift they received and settled down for some play time as soon as the gifts were all opened…

One gift we wont be enjoying until the 19th of this month when we go to a Monster Jam Rally In Minneapolis, MN!!!  We’re super excited, especially my son because his favorite truck, Grave Digger, will be there!

Yes, Christmas break was exquisite and a much needed week of rest and relaxation, which could be confused with laziness:-)

Unfortunately, as I mentioned my back went out on on New Years Eve and I’ve spent the last week laying in bed with my youngest daughter as my snuggle buddy and nurse.  It was getting a bit better and I’d hoped that I’d be able to get at least one outfit post for you but it got worse again Sat. night because, admittedly, I tried to get too much done on Saturday.  So I’m back  on ice and in bed hoping my back is better very soon because I have my youngest daughter’s birthday party on Saturday.

Yes, it’s true my baby has a party coming up!  She actually turned 3 yesterday and we celebrated it in a small simple way with just the six of us at home watching her open her gifts and blow out her candles and snuggling on the couch watching Frosty The Snowman a couple of times.  It’s her favorite movie right now and since it was her birthday she called the shots all day!

With a relaxing Christmas and a lot of time lying around because of my back I found myself liking the feeling of not being pressured to blog.  Not having to worry about, “Oh my gosh I have to get pictures today because I don’t have an outfit for Tuesday’s WIW post” or “I need to find a recipe or fun thing to blog about.”  I discovered that I spend so much time worrying about if I have something to blog about on Life Exquisite that I’ve let some of life’s exquisite moments pass me by or haven’t enjoyed them to their full exquisiteness.

A while back I wrote a post about Priorities and how I so often let things that I think are a priority take precedence over things that should be my priorities.  Christmas break taught me that my blog has become one of those things that has taken priority over things that it shouldn’t.  There are times when my daughter wants me to play a game and I tell her, “In a few minutes.  Mommy needs to finish this blog post.”  Those few minutes can be anywhere from 3 to 63 minutes or , sadly maybe even more.  I could have enjoyed some really special moments with her.  After all she’s three now.  I only have her at home with me for a couple more years.  I have to enjoy this while it lasts.

I keep saying I’ll be able to do more when things slow down, once Christmas is over, or once Elizabeth’s party is over, but the truth is life doesn’t really slow down.  Christmas may be over but something else always take its place.  For instance my son starts wrestling tonight, which adds to our already busy schedule and my days are going to be really busy working on a quilt I started during Christmas vacation for my three-year-olds bedroom.  Here’s a little sneak peek…

(While laying on my back I’ve been working on appliqueing this branch on.  It’s a lot slower going when laying down then when I can sit to work on it.  Eventually it will look something like this.)

Now, don’t worry, I’m not leaving the blogging world.  Because Life Exquisite is one of my “me times”.  It’s something I enjoy doing and I’ve put so many things on the back burner for “some day” and I don’t want to do that with my blog.  However, it’s just not going to be quite like I want it to be.  I loved the type of stories I wrote in the beginning and honestly I’d love to do more outfit posts, but I’m not going to stress myself out trying to make sure I have at least three blog posts every week.  I will still keep up, as much as possible but if I haven’t had a chance to take pictures or just don’t find a time to blog without taking time away from my family when they need me, I’m not going to stress about it.  You might see a few more Polyvore posts or you might just have a outfitless Tuesday or Thursday.   I’m going to try to be better about posting Exquisite Moments Of The Day on LE’s Facebook page.  Try…that means it wont happen every day but I’ll do my best to live up to the caption in my blogs header “Capturing life one exquisite moment at a time!” more regularly.  But I know that if I’m truly going to capture life’s exquisite moments that I need to be less worried about blogging about them and really capture them in my heart and store them away for memories.

I often find myself comparing myself to these homeschooling moms who, not only homeschool their 4 kids, but also have time to sew up tons of cute things for their Etsy shops and can still blog pretty much everyday.  I get disappointed in myself that I can’t seem to be as awesome as they are but when I mentioned this to a friend she said, “You know they aren’t doing everything you do either.  They might do school and make Etsy things, but maybe they aren’t playing games, reading books or  other things with their kids, that you do.  Maybe their house isn’t as clean as yours.”  My friend made me feel so much better by helping me to see that we’re all given 24 hours a day and we can only fit so much into each day.  People have different priorities.  For some people it’s creating things and blogging every day.  For me it’s spending time with my family in the most exquisite way possible.

It may be that the most exquisite thing of the day is snuggling up on the couch and reading a book  with my kids in between folding loads of laundry or crashing in bed in exhaustion but enjoying an episode of Elementary with my husband.  Sure it doesn’t sound like much but that’s still time with my family and even those little moments can be pretty exquisite.

With that I have to leave you because my sweet baby girl is just waking up and I can’t believe she’s slept this late as it is!

**Please excuse any typos I didn’t have time to spell check or proofread.

 

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(Sweater (similar & similar), Under shirt, Jeans, Ring & Earrings – Maurices, Shoes (Old, so old, in fact, I can’t recall if they were from JCPenny’s or Younkers), Necklace – Gift)

I was all set to head out of the house in a casual outfit, the plum basic tee under the sweater (not the sweater), the jeans and a pair of boots, when my two-year old brought me these shoes and said, “Wear dees,”  As she set them in front of my feet I thought, they’re a little dressy for what I’m wearing.  But she persuaded me with her next comment, “Pretty!”  “They are beautiful,” I told her, and slid them on over my Minnie Mouse socks.  (Yes, I’m wearing socks with these sparkly heels, it was too cold not to.  How’s that for fashionable?! :-))

Of course the shoes, that I wore to prom my freshman year (I told you above they were old!  I just can’t part with their sparkly-ness.  Like my two year old said, they’re pretty!) made me feel I needed to dress up the rest of my wardrobe so I donned my sweater, that has silver knitted throughout it, and added some sparkle on top of my plum nail polish.

Considering I received compliments on my outfit while out celebrating my friends b-day, my two-year old knew the perfect shoes to make the perfect outfit for the day!

This isn’t the only lesson she taught me yesterday, she taught me not to take my photo session too seriously.   I always try to look as good as possible in my pictures and have them look as professional as possible.  You have no idea how many pictures I have to wean through because one of my four little off spring is in the background, foreground or sometimes even on the ground.   Yesterday while trying to get these pictures she knew that her Mom actually prefers silly, adorable pictures with her kids so she decided to slide in…  

Note how she inches closer and closer in the pictures to follow…

She came to stand beside me but since I feel my blog needs my outfit posts to be childless I stepped away and became oh so professional (Because that’s me, I’m all about professionalism, sarcasm)…

Professional me ignoring that she’s inching closer with her saltine cracker in hand…

Trying not to laugh as she inches closer…

And she got me!!!  And I’m so glad she did!  

Life’s too short not to let my little ones interrupt my blog photo shoots!  And these pictures are always my favorite and usually make their baby books or get framed because of the laughter, love and joy that accompanied the moment.

Sorry for the long outfit post it was too cute not too share!

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