Tuesday, March 25, 2014


She is here…all around me. 
My grandma passed away a little over 3 years ago. Unexpectedly…suddenly. Punching me in the stomach, taking my breath away. 
She sends signs when I least expect them. I find hearts in funny places - her way of reminding me that she is watching. She sees me. She sees my kids.
As I'm waking in the morning & still clearing the fog from my head. 
When I decide to take a walk on a bright, clear day. Leaves all around me, but one catching my eye & forcing my heart to pound out of my chest. 

This past weekend, as I was watching my kids play on our new pad of concrete, watching them while they teased each other & giggled in the sunshine…and for some reason I glanced over to the wood pile right beside me. And there it is…a heart placed perfectly on a stump. I can almost feel her hand upon my arm…her heart bursting with love while she watches my two children play. 
And now Grandpa is beside her. Exactly where they always wanted to be. Together. And with Jesus. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Feb. 2013

February flew by for us- we celebrated Valentine's Day together as a family of four and I just have to share a couple of cute pictures I got of my smallest little Valentine. 

We also welcomed a sweet baby cousin into the family last week - Caleb & Mallory had a sweet baby girl named Lexie Faith Swartzentruber. We are so in LOVE already!! I can't wait to watch all the cousins growing up together - they have so much fun together!

We even had time to squeeze in some sledding at Gabe's mom & dads. I couldn't get Max to come inside - he could have kept sledding all night long! But Callie on the other hand, did not enjoy it and cried her eyes out. I was really surprised because she usually loves the outdoors…but I guess she isn't fond of the cold!

AunaRay loved it and talked Papa Bob into taking her down the hill!

Today we are home on ANOTHER snow day - winter doesn't seem to want to end this year!! Max isn't feeling well, so we have laid around most of the day and just relaxed. I love it now, but I know I will be regretting all these days off when the weather is gorgeous & I'm stuck inside! O well - I am just trying to enjoy every moment with my two little ones:)!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Our 2013 Swartzentruber Family Photo Book

I've been stressing for awhile about how to keep all my photos organized and accessible for my family to look back through from years passed. I take hundreds of photos a year - and the thought of printing them all out, writing on the back of each one, and putting them in photo albums just OVERWHELMS me! I did it for years, but have been slacking off…so I tried something new this month! I'm so excited to share this with you because I promise it will make your life easier!!  

As I take photos, I usually download them off my computer and put them in folders on my computer labeled with the month and year. As 2013 came to a close, I decided I was going to do something different with my pictures from the whole year. So in January, I spent two evenings on Blurb.com - making a book of photos. I chose the 12 x 12 book - and then went thru my photos from each month of the year, choosing photos to include. The book has a cover page for each month, and then it is just photos. I didn't put any captions or text because it would have taken several more days:) But that is totally up to you! I wanted my book to be mainly a book of pictures (like a photo album) for my family to look back at for years to come! 

The book was extremely easy to make…but does take time. Like I said, I spent two entire evenings on the computer putting it together (but that is less time it would have taken to scrapbook or label & put pictures in albums). The book arrived quickly & and the quality is out of this world!! The size is amazing - the photos are so big & colorful!! It is a nice, thick hardcover book - which I plan to put on my coffee table for anyone who wants to take a peek! Here are a few photos of the book - but the pictures don't even do it justice. You have to order one - I promise it is worth the time and money!!!

 Here is the cover of the book - on the spine I put "Swartzentruber Photos 2013."
This is an example of a month cover page.

 Here are some of the beautiful photos in the book. 

Here is the size difference between my photo book compared to my blog book (where I print out all my blog posts and photos. 
 Here is a quick look into one of my blog books - I have three now:) I can't wait for my kiddos to appreciate these books (once they get older:)!!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

His message...

Can you hear it? His message to the shepherds is His message to us today. “You will find a baby lying in a manger. You will find my love where you least expect it. You will find me in the mud, in the muck, in the dirt. And in the mess of your sin and the hurt of this life, I will find you.” - Katie Davis

This Christmas - no matter how imperfect you feel,
no matter how chaotic the day was with family,
or how much sin is weighing you down…
may his LOVE envelope you wherever you are.

P.S.  (If you haven't read Katie's book "Kisses From Katie," you have to check it out! I have a copy if anyone wants to borrow it - such an inspiring story about a young girl who literally leaves her "normal" life behind for what she feels like God is calling her to. So many AMAZING insights and interpretations from a brave young woman with an incredible heart!)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Cookie Decorating Fun and a Little Early Christmas Celebration

We had our 8th annual cookie decorating party at my cousin Chasity's house. It's so fun to look back through the photos and see how much the kids have grown…and what new one's have been added:) Chas is such an amazing host - and has all the cookies and decorations ready to go when we get there! Each child gets about 6 sugar cookies or so to decorate however they want!

We also had a chance to get a few self-timer photos of our family while we had all the snow a few weeks ago! I LOVED being snowed in with my kiddos - so much fun and lots of memories made!! We even made our first-ever batch of snow ice cream:)

Last night, we had a early Christmas celebration at my mom and dad's. My mom always goes above and beyond when it comes to the meal - we had salad, filet mignon, twice baked potatoes, green beans, homemade mac-n-cheese, rolls with homemade cinnamon butter, and cherry delight for dessert. I literally couldn't move after eating:) Then we took some family photos and traded gifts. I love how thoughtful everyone was with their gifts…I am so blessed with an amazing family. We had such a joy-filled evening!

One celebration down…three to go:)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Gift guide 2013

Since I've been stuck at home for close to 72 hours now (don't let me fool you, I've enjoyed every second), I've spent my time decorating, watching Christmas movies with the kids, and wrapping all the gifts I have purchased. I usually go a little overboard with the presents…I just can't help it! I find so much joy in picking out the "perfect" gift for everyone…I spend hours and hours researching different gifts and comparing prices. I probably enjoy the whole process a little too much:)

I do 90% of my shopping online. With a full time job and two small children, it is VERY rare for me to have a free day to go shopping. So for the last few years, I have found it easier to save things that I find throughout the year online at Pinterest.com or Etsy.com. Then when it is time to begin Christmas shopping, I already have a good head-start!  

Of course I don't want to give anyone any clues to what I purchased for them this year - but I thought I would do 3 categories: gifts for women (mom, sister, sis-in-law), gifts for men (husband, dad, brother-in-law), and the kiddos! Here is a quick gift guide for Christmas 2013, just click on the photo description to follow the link:

And now for the kids…

Just a few fun ideas - I would love to know some of yours:) I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Fall Leaves & an 8th Bday Celebration!

It's been very busy around here...but we have snuck in a few moments of peacefulness here and there. The leaves this Fall have been so gorgeous and I can't help but notice the vibrant colors around our home. We took a little walk last weekend (although Max wasn't along because he was at his dad's)...and I'm so glad I grabbed my camera and snapped lots of photos along the way!

I caught Daddy and his girl enjoying apples from the apple tree and having a long conversation - these two have such an amazing connection...you can feel the love pass between them!

We also got to celebrate Max's 8th birthday with a football themed party and 8 of his closest friends! His parties have always been so easy...as long as I have food for the boys to eat and lots of drinks to keep them hydrated, they want to play outside and just do their own thing! They played basketball, flashlight tag, and football. I think they all had a great time...but you know boys, I couldn't get much out of them! Mr. Maxwell was on cloud nine...after everyone left that evening he was so exhausted and even asked to go to bed! That never happens!!

Happy Birthday, my sweet little man! 
I can't even imagine that Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner. I've started shopping and have Christmas lists for everyone...this is such a joy-filled time of year!