A Peek Into Our Week (Family Pictures & Blogging Goals)

posted by Andrea | 11/11/2019

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dekker family pictures

November 11, 2019…

Thinking back to exactly 8 years ago, I remember desperately wanting to go into labor today. I was already overdue… and since it was my first baby, I was completely oblivious to how much easier babies are INSIDE versus OUTSIDE!

I just wanted to be DONE being pregnant and meet our little girl. Plus, I really wanted the super sweet 11-11-11- birth date! πŸ™‚

Of course, Nora held out for 11 more days and graced us with her presence on 11-22-11 (still a pretty cool date in my opinion!) 

newborn photo

Now, 8 years later, we’re excitedly planning birthday festivities for her upcoming big day — which will involve going to the movie theater for the first time ever to watch Frozen 2 (it comes out on her birthday) with her “birthday twin” friend from school and the friend’s mom. 

Yup, she’s excited! 

I’ll share more about her birthday in a couple of weeks, but since so many of you have asked, I thought I should mention that we ARE planning to give her an American Girl Doll. We haven’t purchased anything yet (new or used) as we’re going to let her choose which one she wants versus trying to surprise her with an actual doll on her birthday.

We already have the matching PJ set ready and waiting! πŸ™‚

matching PJs

Nora loves dolls, playing outside, doing crafts, hanging out with friends, reading, and coming up with various games and activities for her younger siblings to participate in.

She is full of energy, she is extremely competitive, and she loves to be the best (gee — I have no idea where she gets these traits from) 

climbing at the park

reading books

fairy houses

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As for the other kids…

Simon is obsessed with words — constantly trying to sound out words and asking me “what does that spell” or “how do you spell ______” ALL. DAY. LONG! 

For the little boy who took almost 3 years to say anything at all, he sure is making up for lost time now. Our house feels SO quiet on the days he’s gone to Kindergarten! 

He loves drawing, coloring, and painting… and he’s in the process of making a “football book” by coloring, drawing, or tracing all different football team logos, mascots, etc. 

He has 2 “jerseys” that he wears every single day they are clean — which usually results in wearing them to school multiple days each week. 

Simon is still one of the most conscientious children I’ve ever met — ALWAYS worried about making things fair for everyone and keeping the peace among others.

He has a wild stubborn streak that he often shows at home (it’s infuriating how stubborn he can be). But for the most part, he is still one of the kindest, sweetest boys I know — we’ll see what his teacher says at conferences in a few weeks!

disguise a turkey

school projects

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James is still as sweet as ever — almost always smiling and finding something to laugh about.

He hasn’t been interested in going outside much these past few weeks. He prefers to stay inside and build with Kid K’NEX and LEGOs or play various games — his current favorites are Trouble, UNO, Sequence Dice, and Candy Land.

James is our math-lover just like Dad… he’s always asking about numbers and doing random addition problems in his head (which he then feels the need to share with everyone around him)!

He continually professes his devotion to “Michigan State” while Simon stands strong as a “U of M” fan — neither one has any idea what they are really talking about, but it’s fun to listen to them talk about their “teams” and favorite colors being green/white or maize/blue!  

playing with K'NEX

playing with K'NEX

lunch at Cluvers

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And last but not least — Miss Clara…

A couple of weeks ago, I realized that I never made Clara’s 2-year old photo book! Seriously! 

In my defense, I always wait to make the individual children’s photobook until after their birthday, then I whip it out in one afternoon (their books are small and quick). So, I’ll work on it sometime this weekend, and then I’ll save it to print with Nora’s new book during the Black Friday sales — Blurb usually has a 45% off coupon then! 

Other than that, life with Clara is pretty good. She talks all the time, she’s learning her colors and shapes, she constantly asks to play with “gak“, and she LOVES singing… and candy!

She’s been slightly under the weather for the last week or so — coughing and snotty, which apparently provided the opportunity for our normally non-napping little girl to snuggle up with mom for a 45-minute snooze last week! 

snuggles with mom

getting so big

playplace at the mall

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Our family pictures…

My family had extended family pictures scheduled a couple of weeks ago… so we got a few of just our family as well.

We didn’t do any individual kids pictures or lots of different poses, but having a few updated family pictures is always nice (especially when it’s time to update my digital photo books!)

Clara was not her normal smiley self — but everyone else did just fine and we got 2 halfway decent shots (I have very low expectations for family pictures with 4 young children) so I’m happy. 

dekker family picture

dekker family pictures

dekker family pictures

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At Home: 

No big news or updates from home — we had a few trees cut down, we have a bazillion leaves to take care of, and we got our first snowfall!

Other than that, we’re just keeping up with all the daily stuff… which some days feels like a lot and other days feels extremely manageable.

fall farmhouse

playing in the leaves

snowy farmhouse

On The Business Front…

I feel like I’m on the “edge” of so much potential growth in my business… I’m just not sure how to capitalize on it.

Some of the things I’ve been working on over the past 2-3 months are:

I quit all but 1 of my Virtual Assistant jobs to allow more time to focus on my own work. 

I dabbled in video blogging for about 2 months, making a few videos and then stalling a bit on this project. Dave and I have plans for trying video blogs again after the New Year. 

I’ve been learning as much as I can about Search Engine Optimization, keyword research, and headline analysis. My brain is now full of mind-numbing facts about things I really don’t care about… but the facts are stuck in there now and I must put them to use! 

I’m working to create a whole bunch of new editable printables (replacing the ones on my blog that are almost 10 years old!)

I’m trying really hard to like social media. So far, I still don’t love it, but I’m committed to giving it a good effort for a while yet.

I’m in the process of setting up an email newsletter (if it doesn’t kill me first!)

I’ve taken a couple of online courses explaining the ins and outs of writing and marketing eBooks, and I have topics for a few eBooks in mind — with the goal of publishing them all in 2020 (lofty… maybe!)

I won’t lie, right now it all just feels like a TON of work without all that many tangible results, but I’m pressing on in an effort to grow my blog.

Years ago, I promised myself that if I was still blogging when my youngest child turned 2, I would “step it up a notch” and push myself to do more with my business. 

So… my youngest is 2, and we’re entering into a brand new decade. After roughly 7 years of just “coasting along”, it feels like it’s the right time to get to work if I want to stick to blogging for the long-haul! 

Part of me feels weighed down by the extra work, but I know there are times in life when extra busyness is essential to growth… so I’m hoping this is just a season of busyness that will “open some doors” for me SOON! 

Dave has been nothing but encouraging, helpful, and supportive — always listening and offering advice or suggestions when asked. I honestly don’t think I could do it without him! 

NOTE: if you have any tips or suggestions of things you like to see change on the blog, please let me know! 

dave and andrea

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Our Menu: 

No books or TV for me these past few weeks — but I have still been cooking and baking quite a bit!

SUNDAY: 

Breakfast = cinnamon rolls, eggs, bacon, fruit

Lunch = Leftovers

Dinner = potluck at church

MONDAY: 

Breakfast = hearty whole-grain oat pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausage, fruit

Dinner = Taco Pie (an updated version of this oldie-but-goodie recipe), refried beans, guacamole, chips and salsa

TUESDAY:

Breakfast = hearty whole-grain oat pancakes, fried eggs, bacon, fruit

Dinner = I had leftovers, the kids had macaroni and hot dogs (Dave was gone)

WEDNESDAY:

Breakfast = oatmeal, fruit, donuts (Dave didn’t have to get to school as early so he picked up donuts for the kids)

Dinner = spaghetti squash casserole, roasted cauliflower, green beans, homemade bread, fresh fruit, applesauce

THURSDAY:

Breakfast = sourdough starter pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausage, fruit

Dinner = hearty egg casserole, toast, fresh fruit

FRIDAY:

Breakfast = sourdough starter pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon, fruit

Dinner = beef stew, baked carrots, roasted veggies, homemade bread, applesauce, fresh fruit

SATURDAY:

Breakfast = Baked French toast, fried eggs, bacon, fruit

Lunch = Grilled cheese, fruit, raw veggies

Dinner = Chili, cornbread, salad, fruit

delicious pancake breakfast

That’s all for me this week! 

I hope you are enjoying Autumn and getting organized for the upcoming holiday season. Our family will most likely keep our holiday festivities fairly low-key again this year. I’ll be sure to share them on the blog eventually! πŸ™‚

Have a good week! 

silly halloween costumes

playing in the leaves

NOTE: Clara’s glasses are “fake” — just for fun! 

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39 comments

  1. Carol

    11/12/2019

    As always, it’s once again a joy to read about you and your family! My husband and I are Empty Nesters (for MANY years now!!), but I still love reading about your young family.
    You are amazing….doing all that you do!
    Thank you for all the tips, pictures, recipes, for being great examples of Christian parents…..and so much more!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Carol! πŸ™‚

    [Reply]

  2. Morgan

    11/12/2019

    Hi Andrea! Long time reader here. I would love to see you more on IG stories- more day in the life stuff- i love watching bloggers do things like grocery hauls/DIYs on stories. I would also love to hear more about your faith and how you incorporate that into your life!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I’ve posted IG stories the last 2 nights! you’ll have to follow me to make sure you see them!

    [Reply]

  3. Heather

    11/12/2019

    I love your blog and have been a long time reader!
    You have probably mentioned it in the past, but when do you start putting out your Christmas decorations?
    Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Heather!
    I usually don’t put Christmas stuff up until after Thanksgiving (and after Nora’s birthday)!

    [Reply]

  4. Kerri

    11/12/2019

    I saw you usually have sausage.or bacon for breakfast. Do you pre-cook this or just cook fresh every morning? And how to contain the mess?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yes! I pre-cook several pounds at a time and then freeze in smaller bags. I reheat them in the cast iron pan and it doesn’t make a mess at all when reheating. The initial cooking process is somewhat greasy, but I just clean it up once and then I’m done for a couple of weeks! πŸ™‚

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  5. Tracie@SomewhatAwry.com

    11/12/2019

    I have loved your blog for many years, I can’t wait to see what else you create and share with us! Would you mind to share which online courses you have taken and liked? There are so, SO many it’s overwhelming to know which ones are worth my time.

    Yum! We love taco pie at our house too, but yours looks slightly different. Can’t wait to try yours!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much Tracie!
    I think I make my “taco pie” different every single time! Last week, we had it with chicken and it was delicious!

    [Reply]

  6. Linda

    11/11/2019

    I enjoy that your blog is old school really all the videos the bloggers are posting drive me crazy, I never watch them . Maybe I just prefer to read over watching something , not sure what it is . Also instagram really invades ones privacy if you are not careful and/or portrays unrealistic lifestyles . I understand it’s all the latest social media craze and to make money in this business you do have to keep with the times , but in five years it will be something else. It’s always going to be evolving and changing , and demanding more time and more personal things to be shared .i understand totally about not really liking social media . I now choose to only follow a few blogs , no friends on FB, no instagram, no twitter ect . Stopped many of the emails I was subscribed to , it has all been very freeing ! It can become overwhelming at times .

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Linda. In all honesty, I don’t really like video blogs either πŸ™‚
    HOWEVER, the facts show that we are in the vast minority here with as many as 80% of people preferring video over text.

    My plan is to do BOTH — video and text + images. It shouldn’t take too much extra time once I have my process down.
    And yes, I totally understand what you are saying about social media and email marketing. I feel the same way and it’s one of the reasons I’ve stayed away from it for so long.

    [Reply]

    Lana Reply:

    I also do not care for video blogs. Much prefer reading a blog at my convenience. Perhaps this is why, I only read this blog. πŸ™‚

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    oh good — well don’t worry about my text blogs going away. They are here to STAY, even if I do add a video link to a few of them!

    [Reply]

  7. Michelle

    11/11/2019

    Just curious…..what dish did you take to church for potluck?

    I’m always looking for new ideas.

    Thanks in advance.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I usually take this layered lettuce salad or this broccoli bacon salad (with cauliflower).

    Both salads transport VERY well and can easily be made in advance. In my opinion, they actually taste better when made the day ahead!

    [Reply]

  8. JoDi

    11/11/2019

    I can’t believe Nora is almost 8, and Miss Clara is all little kid now – no more baby! I bet that 45 minute nap with your last little one was a treat!

    I would love to see more photos of you and Dave as kids at similar ages as your children. When I look at your kids, they all look SO much like you, but I bet they resemble Dave as a kid too!

    I’m excited to see what you do with the blog in the coming year! I know whatever you try will turn out amazing!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    no more baby — that’s for sure!
    Honestly, our kids all favor me MUCH more than Dave — I joke with him about it regularly πŸ™‚

    [Reply]

  9. Alicia

    11/11/2019

    Happy birthday Nora! I love your family update posts! My 2nd son just turned 8 as well. I started following you right after he was born and I remember feeling a connection because you were about to have a baby too! πŸ™‚ I also feel like we’re friends! πŸ™‚ I’ve learned SO much from your blog over the years and always feel so encouraged. Honestly one of the things I love about your blog is that you keep it more ‘old school”, but I understand the need/desire to grow ! I’ll echo what others have said and say I’d love to see you more on IG! It’s the only social media I even semi-follow, so it’d be fun to see you over there !

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much Alicia! I appreciate your LONG time readership πŸ™‚
    And my plan is to be on IG more! I just posted my first “Story” last night — and a video earlier in the day! Baby steps!

    [Reply]

  10. Karen

    11/11/2019

    Loved all the beautiful pictures.

    Could you tell me what baby doll that is that Nora has? I’m in Christmas shopping mode. Thank you!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I honestly don’t know what brand the doll is — it was a gift a couple of years ago and doesn’t have any logo or brand on it. Sorry!

    [Reply]

  11. Katie

    11/11/2019

    My Kindergartner is the same! “Mommy, what does D-I-S-N-E-Y spell? D like Dog!” and tries to sound out everything! It’s amazing to see their brains at work putting all of the pieces together!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I know — only 2 months into the year and he’s legitimately reading and writing words!

    [Reply]

  12. Anna

    11/11/2019

    What are the best sales for Blurb? I have two books ready to go but I’m new to Blurb after years of using MyPublisher. I always waited until MP offered free extra pages because my year books are anywhere from 60-100 pages.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Hey Anna, The “best” Blurb deal I ever got was 50% for Black Friday… but that was only 1 time that I remember.
    Usually a “good deal” is 35% of 40% off.

    [Reply]

  13. Chris

    11/11/2019

    My son also loved to draw sports pictures when he was little (and hunting and fishing). He’s also really good at math. πŸ™‚ it’s fun to read about your kids.

    [Reply]

  14. Cindy

    11/11/2019

    For your desire to grow the blog…. please look into getting more active on Instagram, especially Instagram stories! I would love to see those glimpses into your days, following along & learning how to clean, maintain, cook, care for everything (including kids, etc). I saw a quote the other day that said, β€œthose who are doing to make the most $ from Instagram are the ones who aren’t doing it yet” (from suzy_school, I think?) Anyway, I for one would love to see you active there, more than any other place.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    YES! I’ve been reading and reading and reading all about Instagram. SO many cool things — none of which I have any idea how to do yet! I’ll hopefully increase my presence on Instagram A LOT over the next year!

    [Reply]

  15. JJ

    11/11/2019

    Super excited for you!!! I LOVED your video blog you guys did and am looking forward to more!!! Thank you for all of the time and energy you put into this blog–priceless!!!

    And your pics–perfect!!!

    Selfishly, I’d love to see a Favorite Things Friday instead of once a month. ☺️

    Also, I think it would be fun to have people send in pics of an area that need organized and you share your ideas, they organize, and you post the before and after pics. You always inspire!!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks πŸ™‚ We’ll hopefully be doing more video!
    probably not a Favorite Things every Friday (I don’t know if I could consistently come up with that many favorites!)
    I love the idea of having people send in pictures… it would be super cool if it actually worked! However, in my experience helping clients to get more organized, it is not super likely that the recipient of my information would actually follow through on the organizing process πŸ˜‰

    [Reply]

  16. Emily

    11/11/2019

    Would you be able to share your baked French toast recipe? I have been looking for a good one! Thank you!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Hey Emily!
    Here’s our family’s favorite recipe for the french toast casserole — sorry I forgot to link to it in the post!
    https://andreadekker.com/overnight-french-toast/

    [Reply]

    Emily Reply:

    This is awesome, Andrea! No worries – Thank you so much! I know I can always count on your yummy recipes. Can’t wait to try it! Have a great rest of your week. πŸ™‚

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Glad to help!

    [Reply]

  17. Paulette

    11/11/2019

    Your Peek Into Our Week posts…what can I say? The pictures and antics of the children just bless my heart and make me laugh out loud! You inspire and motivate me. When I talk about you, Dave and your children, my husband thinks I’m friends with you until I explain you’re the girl from Michigan with the blog. Well, I do consider you a friend!

    [Reply]

    Karen Reply:

    It seems like your children are a good combination of you and Dave. I too always refer back to you like we’re best friends, lol. I’ve been reading since the beginning and I love to keep up with you and your family. I would love to see a YouTube channel but I understand that’s a heck of a lot of extra work on top of your blog. I love when you make videos! It brings your words to life so to speak.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Karen πŸ™‚
    I would LOOOOOOVE to do more with YouTube — that’s my goal for the next year, but it IS a lot of time and effort, so I’m not positive it will happen πŸ™‚

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Paulette πŸ™‚

    [Reply]