Lets Play a Game

Today on my blog we’re going to play a game. It is called: “This is what it would say if I had made a 2014 Christmas card/letter.” Ready? DSC_4018 COPYFrom left to right: Bella (11), Ethan, (6), Anthony (age unknown), Jennifer (18?), and Natalie (9)

We hope all our friends and family had a very merry Christmas holiday. This year our family has enjoyed the opportunity to see all of our extended family during our summer trip and a holiday family reunion. With this being the final school year all 3 of our children will be in the same school it seems change is upon us. We feel blessed everyday to be their parents and are enjoying the growing up years. We wish all our friends and family and very happy 2015.


The Craikers

Christmas Thoughts

Christmas is just one week away. This year’s Christmas will be the busiest one to date with 32 family members flying in, a full blown family reunion, and loads of fun with little rest. So in the days leading up to the fun and the crazy I have tried to take a few moments to reflect on the season and why we celebrate it.

I was really touched by this video and wanted to share it. If you haven’t watched it take a minute.

For me the part of the video that “got me” was the end when the angels appear. Ever since I was a little girl I have wondered what it might have been like to be an angel welcoming the birth of Christ. It was powerful to see and experience the multitude of angels appearing and praising. I think I have watched it 5 times now and each time when the angels first appear I get a lump and my throat and a tear in my eye.

I am thankful to know that Christ did come. I am grateful for this season both to reflect and refocus ourselves towards Christ.

Merry Christmas!

Thanksgiving Tradition

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Each year on the night before Thanksgiving our family takes our annual trip to the Bass Pro Shop to visit Santa. I have always thought of Thanksgiving as the kick off to the holiday season so while some talk of skipping over Thanksgiving I think it all just goes together. Plus, we discovered years ago if you get your visit with the “Big Guy” in pre-Thanksgiving the lines are nearly non-existent. It really is a little parenting genius mixed with family fun.

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And Bass Pro is a great place to go because they charge you nothing and are happy to let you take your own pics. (Even if for some reason this year the lighting seemed weird. The warm in the front and cold in the back.) Plus they have other games and toys out for the kids to play with as much as they want. This is totally my plug for Bass Pro at Christmas time.

My favorite thing this year is when Ethan asked Santa for a dog for Christmas Santa wisely said, “I think you had better think of something else just in case.” Thanks Santa. ;)

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A Little Gratitude

Last night 6 young women at church, 1 other young women leader and I had a discussion about gratitude and journaling. We discussed the story in Luke about the 10 Lepers and the one who returned to thank Christ. We discussed what it meant to have a grateful heart and how it wasn’t that Christ wanted the praise of the other 9 but rather he wanted other 9 to experience a grateful heart. That saying “thank you” maybe of benefit more to our own heart than to the person that we are saying it too. It really can change our lives if we live with a grateful heart. Then we discussed how journaling plays into that. How by journaling we take the time to think and evaluate ourselves and our lives that we may not otherwise do if we weren’t journaling. We discussed how it makes us more self-aware and helps us become better people because we’re more likely to be thinking about our actions and the effects of them. It was a great little discussion. I left with much to think about, and hopefully maybe they did too.

So today I thought I’d work off last night’s theme and share a few things I am grateful for this week along with sharing the rest of what we did last night. So first, two pictures of what we did last night.


We first made these gratitude journals so they could spend some time in the next few weeks thinking about what they’re grateful for and recording it. They’re made out of 3 paper bags laced together with twine. You don’t have to cut the bags or anything and then you use the openings of the bags like pockets. This could work for things like camp or a trip too b/c you could use those pockets for tickets or handouts, etc. We slid pieces of paper in them with ribbons attached like a tab so they could list out the things they are grateful for. Then on the paper bag parts they can draw and print quotes or scriptures about gratitude on them. It was fun and everyone went home with a really cute journal. (Here is the link to the instructions I used in making the journals:HERE )


Then just for fun we put together these cute turkey cookies. They’re super easy and so cute. The girls loved them.

Lastly here is a list of the 5 things I am grateful for this week:

1. The Beehive Class. These girls are so much fun. I spend a lot of time planning and preparing to be with them and they make all that time so worth it and so rewarding. I love them. They teach me, make me laugh and love me back. Its a great blessing for me to be able to serve them and to learn the gospel of Jesus Christ with them.

2. My mom. I put my mom on a plane Tuesday. She’d been here for just less than a week. We got to go away together and experience sunsets like this:

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It was fun to be in a beautiful place, but really more fun just to hang out with her. I only see her 1-2 times a year. This year it will actually be 3 and I am grateful for that. Plus, she helped me prepare everything for the young women activity and more. Its fun to create with her. I’m not a crafty person on my own but with her I am and its fun.

3. My husband. When mom came I left for 3 days. Not only did he handle everything at home but I came home to a spotless house, happy children and a husband who missed me. I think it is nice to be missed.

4. Florida. I love this place. I can’t say enough good about it. Sure there are some crazy things too but this place has my heart. I’m so glad life led me here.

5. My children. Each are different which keeps things lively in our house. They make me laugh (and cry), smile and keep me from ever being bored. They are the reasons I do most of anything I do. They are both my motivation and my inspiration.

6. Okay…its a bonus one. My friends.  And I don’t want to be mushy or drawn out but lets just say I see my friends as a true blessing from God. Every one of you.

So now I need to go fill my gratitude journal so I can show it to the Beehive Class at church on Sunday.

What are you grateful for?

One Cool Nana

Yesterday at 4:30 PM me and 3 very sad kids drove away from the airport. We had just left Nana there to go back to Texas after 6 days of being with us. Other than the first year and a half of Bella’s life we have not lived near Nana. However, since then (a total of about 9.5 years) she has made every effort to visit often and be a very important presence in our children’s lives. And her visits are so fun because she is such a cool Nana, and here are the pictures to prove it.


Most of these pictures are from phone cameras. Like above. Who is cooler than a Nana that gets on and surfs with you?


Or the Nana who brings crazy eyes for everyone, including herself?


And she didn’t even forget the mustaches. See, she’s cool.


One thing that is cool about Nana is she always spends weeks before her visits on pinterest planning fun and seasonal things to do with the kids. My children are literally entertained from the moment she arrives until the moment she leaves. And THAT is cool in my book.


She won major cool points in Ethan’s book with these Minecraft paper projects.


And she brought so much washi tape the kids covered pumpkins with them.

So what can I do to repay her for her coolness? Well, the best I can do is take some fun pictures of the kids for her. So here they are….someday I hope to be as cool to my grandkids as she is.

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And really, the kids don’t have to be sad long….Grandma comes next week.

(And she is cool in her own ways too!)

4 Years There + 1 Year Here = 5 Florida Years

Five years ago this week the 5 of us arrived in the sunshine state. To me this is an important anniversary. It is the anniversary of us finding our place.

I wrote about it on my 3rd Florida anniversary HERE.

A year ago this week we changed homes. We moved all of 3 miles, except because of protected wetlands and the fact that you have to drive around them rather than in a straight line it feels more like 15.

For Anthony and I that move was positive. Closer to Anthony’s Orlando hearing location, closer to all shopping, and closer to church. For the kids it was a little more rough. Their everyday changed dramatically as they changed schools. I remember well the night before the school change happened and my heart was breaking as Bella cried herself to sleep.

Change is hard.

Now here we are, 1 year later, in a new school year. We have maintained friendships from our previous school and the kids have made so many new friends in their new school. They have acclimated and really flourished there. Thankfully the tears of that night are long gone and they now love their new school as much as their old.

Change is hard. Moving here was hard. But it in both cases there seems to be so much positive.

Happy Anniversary Florida! Here’s to many more beautiful years of memories. I love you.

A Family First


Last Thursday night we had a family first. Our first football game. None of the kids had ever been and they were so excited.

Uncle Rob had come in town with his son Jackman just for the game. Wednesday we got to go out to their hotel and play at the awesome pools and Thursday night was the big game. It was like having a weekend in the middle of the week.



This picture (above) cracks me up. Jackman and I were taking a selfie but our team was currently not doing so hot. Look at the lady over Jackman’s shoulder. LOL. Luckily things didn’t stay that way.


BYU came back and got ahead. The kids had so much fun cheering. Ethan is still doing the chants 5 days later!



In the end we lost in OT. It was a late night but SOOOOOO much fun. As we were leaving the stands we saw the BYU mascot, Cosmo, and grabbed a quick picture for memories. It really was a great night and I think the kids will always remember it. Thanks Uncle Rob!

If I Could Go Back

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Last night as Anthony and I were going to bed we did our usual check on each of the kids. Their rooms are on our way to ours so one at a time we peek in, see what sort of weird way they’re sleeping, cover them up with their blanket and say a final good night. As we were doing this I asked him, “If you could go back in time to when they were younger would you?”

His answer was an immediate, “Yes.” Then he followed with something like, “I wouldn’t go back to stay but just to remember and experience it again for a little bit.”

I totally agree with him, so this got me thinking – what ages would I like to revisit?

#1: Infancy. I would love to go back to when each of my children were first born and spend a good few hours just snuggling them, remembering them as an infant, feeling their soft skin, hearing their coo’s, and even their cry again. How beautiful it would be to experience that all over again just for a few hours.

#2: 18 months. The world is still so new to them at 18 months and I’d love to experience a few hours of wonder with them again at that age. I’d love to hold their chubby little hands again, to remember just how they sounded when they spoke, and to get some hugs and kisses from my toddlers again.

#3: 3 or 4. I can’t decide which. There are so many quirky little things each of my kids did at these ages that they’ve completely grown out of and I’d love to hear and see it all again. Ethan had made up words he used regularly like they had meaning, Natalie changed clothes constantly and Bella had a phrase she used all the time that to this day Anthony and I still say and crack up about. I miss those kids.

All this being said we are currently at a pretty great time as parents. Our children are old enough to be self-sufficient but young enough to still want us around. They’re smart and caring individuals who are getting more and more opportunities because of their ages and while that means a busier life for me it means excitement for them. Life is pretty great where we are but there are times I long to re-experience the days of our past just one more time.

Dear Anthony,


I just came across this picture of us on our 10 year wedding anniversary cruise.

We must do this again. It has been almost 3 years (2 years 9 months to be exact).

Lets not let another 10 go by before we run away again.






9 Years Ago Today – Part 3

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September 25, 2005 – 9 years ago today. 12:45 am – I woke up to a very weird sensation. I realized I was wetting the bed. And I rolled over and went back to sleep.


I know. Weird. Gross.

Hey, when you are that pregnant you are tired.

I came to a few minutes later and I was still wetting the bed. This time I sat up. Anthony was apparently not asleep enough to ignore me and asked, “What’s wrong?” To which I reply very confused. “I’m wetting the bed.”

“Are you sure?” He said skeptically, “Is your water breaking?”

“No. I’m wetting the bed…and I can’t stop?”

I know this sounds weird, and it was. It was a strange moment for me. With Bella doctors had broken my water and this time around I had a planned c-section. This was not supposed to be happening, it wasn’t on my radar so I was sure it wasn’t what was going on.

Finally Anthony convinced me that my water was broken, or breaking. Phone calls were made. We hadn’t even gone to the hospital yet for a tour, that was going to be after our next appointment. We actually had to get directions to the hospital from my parents when we dropped Bella off because we’d only lived there a few months and never had reason to go.

On the way to the hospital I remember saying, “This is going to be a tiny baby. I am 4 weeks early.” Based on the size of my belly I am not sure why I thought this, but it seemed right knowing that my first was 8lbs 9oz at 39 weeks that this one at 36 would be around 6lbs.

When we arrived the nurse was readying me and asking me questions that would determine how quickly we went to c-section. One question. Did you eat dinner? Ummm…yes I did. How heavy was it? Ummm…lasagna, salad, bread and dessert (maybe 2). What time was that? Around 7pm. “Well then we need to delay surgery for a good long while if we can.”

7 hours. I labored 7 hours and they wouldn’t allow me pain medicine because it needed to be fresh for surgery. At one point the nurse came in and said, you’re not going to make it to your surgery time we need to call the doctor. Then she returned and said “We’re just going to give you this medicine to stop your contractions so you can wait because of your dinner.” I was not happy, and the medicine made me feel horrible.

Finally it was time. Being the weekend the doctor who performed the surgery wasn’t my doctor so she shook my hand to introduce herself just minutes before she sliced me open. Then when she did and Natalie was born the first thing the doctor said was, “Are you sure of her due date? She’s a big baby!”

8lbs 1oz born at 36 weeks. Yes, I was certain of my due date and she had a few premie problems to prove it. Born on a night of record breaking early deliveries because of hurricane Rita’s storm system having made its all the way to Oklahoma dropping the barometric pressure dramatically. One nurse suggested we name her Rita. But no, she was my Natalie Celeste. Based on her arrival we joked she was impatient and spunky, a child who would do things on her own terms.

How right we were.

Happy birthday my Natalie Celeste, you are one in a million and I am so glad you are mine.

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