Monday, December 30, 2013

Issues and the New year

Hi there.

Merry (belated) Christmas! We enjoyed a nice time visiting my family in WI and despite all of us coming down with a 24 hour bug, we had a great time. It’s been nice to be home though getting things back in order and of course playing with all of our new things.

Elizabeth is *obsessed* with her new baby doll and stroller that we gave her. She learned the word baby in about 5 seconds flat and now spends her days getting frustrated over the buckle on the stroller and yelling “baby”. It’s hilarious and equally maddening to say the least.

First things first…something is going on with the blog. SO if you normally come to the blog via things are looking crazy so you’ll have to bear with me while I fix the glitch. You can find the whole site at the old address:

And now back to the holidays and the fact that 2014 is just a day away.

Life with a toddler means that we will be hunkered down at home tomorrow night but hopefully I’ll get my act together and make some delicious meal for us. I already have New Year’s Day brunch planned out so we shall see.

But one thing I do have planned out for 2014 is my word of the year. Last year on a whim I decided to join Layla at The Lettered Cottage in choosing a word of 2013. I chose “Grace”. If anything this word has been on my heart, in my mind, on my lips all throughout the year. Not only do I feel like I’ve learned not only to receive and give grace but accept it as well.

A couple of months ago I began thinking of a word I wanted to focus on for 2014. The one that kept coming to mind was “Prudent”. I’m not hoping to transform myself into the 21st century version of the word but instead the Biblical attribute. I need to grow in prudence; becoming a forward thinker, being wise about what’s to come, and using discernment and forethought. I’ve always been more spontaneous and impulsive and though that’s great for a million reasons there are some things that would be improved upon if I used some more prudence.

PROVERBS 13:16 “In everything the prudent acts with knowledge, but a fool flaunts his folly.”

Going into the year, I never thought choosing a word to work through, focus on, or grasp would be as beneficial as it was. I found that having one thing, in my Bible reading, my studies, my mothering, etc. to think through or focus on was such a blessing. The word GRACE is atop a shelf in my office/craft room and it’s been right where my eyes focus. I’m not about to change the word to PRUDE for 2014 but I will be trying to find other ways to focus my attention on growing in wisdom and discernment.

Join me?

Friday, December 20, 2013

Merry Christmas!

This year Christmas has looked and felt a little different. Piles of cabinet doors, finishing touches, pulling in our purse strings and a thousand little decisions have vied for our attention. And unfortunately our attention at times has not been solely focused on the birth of Jesus.

While our stockings were hung to commemorate St. Nicholas, our advent felt tree was up, and our stacks of Christmas books were out and read over and over again, sometimes our heart is just a bit amiss.

This time of year has felt a lot like we’ve been going through the motions because in some ways we have. Family struggles, the busyness of the season, and trying to finish our house have seemingly gotten in the way of celebrating the way we think we ought to. But just knowing that  carols have been sung and we’ve talked and talked and talked about the baby Jesus due to our many nativity sets around the house gives me grace to know that at least the story has been heard even if in small snippets throughout the day.

Somehow I always think the Christmas season will look for us like something straight of Pinterest with advent readings every night and some fantastic Christmas craft each day and our hearts always in the right place. And then I’m reminded as I have been throughout this year as a whole that the vision I have in mind is not always the vision that takes place.

And I give myself grace.

Because happily ever after and a perfectly executed Christmas and advent season isn’t what we’re after and neither is it, I imagine, what God wants for us either. Because right now, throughout advent and this season, I’m seeing grace anew, and that’s one thing that’s only possible because of the advent season we’re walking through right now. Without the birth of Jesus, grace wouldn’t have come.

Praying the grace of Jesus will find you this Christmas and you will know, as angels sing victoriously in the heavens, that Jesus is the Lord.

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Brogle Family-BW-0018(1)

photo by Leah Fontaine

Thursday, December 5, 2013

On St. Nicholas

Growing up their was one occasion in December that we as kids anticipated almost as much as Christmas Day. And that was the eve when St. Nicholas came! On December 5th, at our house, St. Nicholas “would come” and we would receive treats and toys in our stockings.

After reading this on Wikipedia, it makes sense why so many did this in WI. Given our German heritage and protestant background it’s no wonder. We also hide a pickle ornament on our Christmas tree…do any others do this? Friends of ours recently had a German exchange student and unfortunately this is an entirely made up American thing. No German ties whatsoever.

Last year I wrote about our thoughts on Santa, and while they remain the same this year, Alex and I would both love to continue the tradition of St. Nicholas. And no, their will be no thought that St. Nicholas really came, it will be more of a purposeful and fun learning opportunity of who the real St. Nicholas was and how he gave gifts to the poor. Hopefully as Elizabeth grows this will also allow for a great opportunity to give as well.

After polling Facebook I came away with these great books to help our learning of St. Nicholas to grow. I haven't’ read any of them yet but look forward to searching them out and reading through them.

1. The Secret of St. Nicholas

2. The Legend of St. Nicholas

3. Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend

So join us tonight in hanging your stockings and teaching your kids about the real origin of Santa Claus:) He originated through the story of St. Nicholas, the saint who took gifts and set them in the shoes of children.

Great post on The Art of Simple on St. Nick and why and how to celebrate. Hits all my sentiments on the head:)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Favorite things for a snowy winter

It’s been a long time since I’ve written about some of my favorites and as someone who has grown up in the snowy Midwest I thought it may be fun to make a list of my favorites for surviving the winter. I’ll be honest that after 8 years of nannying and now having our own little one, my favorites tend to be pretty practical. When it is blustering cold out and snow is everywhere, usefulness and practicality trump trendiness and fashion, although I hope these are not too utilitarian.

Ever since we’ve been married (just over 7 years) I’ve been working to transform my closet from one of very inexpensive, only last a season or two things to items that can last quite a bit longer. For me that means buying quality brands, made of quality materials, and usually means I spend a bit more. Though as one who can rarely pay full price, most items are scooped up at the end of season for a steal. I often, for bigger purchases, think of the cost per wear and the perfect illustrations would be designer jeans (my favorite pair just got a hole in the knee after 8 years) and a great wool coat (lasting many, many years.) Both items are investments but I like things that still look new after a few years and wear well. Although my favorite places to buy designer denim are EBay and Nu Look Consignment in Mpls.

Winter Coats:

This is one area where I’ve really morphed from wannabe fashionista into I have four winter coats all for different purposes. Might sound excessive and really it probably is but they all have a purpose and they’ve all lasted seemingly forever. I have a ski coat, a down sweater (which might be my favorite), a long down coat, and a wool coat. If I had to get rid of any of them it would be a toss up between my ski coat and the wool one. Surprise you?

I’ve just realized that there are a few criteria that really matter and here they are in order of preference:

1. Warmth factor  2. Easy to clean/wipe/wear with kids   3. Somewhat fashionable

#2 has easily become something that has risen from the bottom to the top. Wrangling a toddler with messy boots or snowy coats or just wrangling them in and of itself with everything else like groceries, etc. I want what I am wearing to withstand the abuse and still keep me warm.

It follows along with the reasons I still carry a diaper bag. I want my nice coats and purses to stay nice. That’s what it has come down to. I want to be able to go out with girlfriends or my husband and not have dried snot on my nice coat or spilled milk in my purse. Because inevitably no matter how hard I try otherwise those two things will eventually happen. If I pay a premium for a nice thing I’ll try my hardest to keep it that way. I’m enough of a klutz to ruin it myself. I

So I’ve surrendered to motherhood and if I look like a mom, good. I waited a long time.

As far as boots…I’m still deciding. I want something that is easy to get on, is waterproof, still looks somewhat fashionable but more importantly keeps my feet warm and dry. These are the two top contenders from REI. By the way, REI is amazing. Did you know that you can return things a year later? That is so handy when you buy kids winter clothing at the end of the year and need to buy multiple sizes because you don’t know what will fit. AMAZING!!

And as far as the rest of our family goes in surviving the Midwest winters…Elizabeth and Alex have down sweaters. Alex’s is from Eddie Bauer (usually their coats go 50% off) and E’s is from REI, the REI brand. I’m hoping they made a version this year because I would snatch it up in an instant for next year. Best part about the down sweaters are they are incredibly warm. You wouldn’t think so given their size and how light they are but seriously warm. And they compact well so car seat straps can still get really tight.


winter essentials


Top Row: 1. Kids Down Sweater 2. Merrell Nikita Boot  3. J.Crew Wool Coat

Middle Row: 1. Eddie Bauer Down Coat 2. Upcycled Sweater Mittens

Bottom Row: 1. Eddie Bauer Down Sweater 2. Sorel Tofino Boot 3. Patagonia Down Sweater


As far as buying, sales get incredible right after the holidays. I’ve scooped up all the coats above at least 50% off which is incredible pricing for the quality. I’m hoping to hold out on boots until I find a fantastic deal but I might cave considering we just got a slew of sloppy wet snow. And as far as gloves are concerned…I love upcycled sweater mittens. They keep my hands toasty warm and wool is amazing at keeping water out. I’m on the hunt for a pair for Elizabeth. I bought mine at a local craft fair but they are available all over Etsy or you could make your own:)

And somehow I forgot, but warm socks are a must. Our drawers are full of Smartwool and REI brand wool socks but this year I learned of a new winner: DARN TOUGH. They have a lifetime guarantee. LIFETIME GUARANTEE. We rarely get holes in our wool socks but they can occur. That is amazing.

What are your families favorite things for surviving the winter?

Monday, December 2, 2013


Today I sat down at my computer at 1pm and it felt as though my whole body exhaled. With the baby down for a nap and so many things on the list, just exhaling and starting at the top seemed to help get things in order.

We’ve been on the go for the past week like so many with Thanksgiving and then my birthday last week. It’s been a bit of a whirlwind.

Times like this always tend to set me a bit on edge. I like a slower pace and having things in order and being able to accomplish most of my list each day and when we are gone and get back I begin to feel like a fish swimming upstream.

Not to say our time away wasn’t worth it, it definitely was. We spent the weekend of the 23rd back in my hometown with my family for my 33rd birthday. I have loved my 30’s. By far my favorite decade. We spent my actual birthday cheering the Packers to a tie with the Vikings at Lambeau field in the freezing cold and it was so. much. fun. And getting to spend the evening with family and blowing out candles with my sister at my side was so worth it. We couldn’t remember the last time people sang for us and we spent our birthdays together (I was born on her 8th birthday).

And upon returning on Monday, we started off the week a day later than normal only to have another gathering upon us. Thanksgiving was spent at Alex’s brother Jeff’s land just south of the Cities. Being without cell service may have been the best part alongside being outdoors, eating amazing food, and being with family.

And somehow we managed to emerge without buying anything during Black Friday, well unless you count groceries because somehow the fridge was empty and needed to be filled on the busiest day of the year:/ But my favorite find of the week was a new vacuum cleaner. I’ve definitely become that person that asks for household items for birthdays and Christmas. An iron is also on my list if anyone was wondering:) I’ll jot the vacuum as my best household deal ever found. 64% off.

And now we’re trying to catch up just in time to almost miss advent. It always amazes me that no matter how much I prepare in advance or try to get things under control I somehow come up just a bit short. And then I’m frantically trying to catch up. The fact that our house is still in disarray may be adding to my frenzy. But I’m realizing as the days go by that none of the little things I think matter really do.

It’ll be okay if we don’t do everything on the list or if everything doesn’t get decorated or put away. I just keep reminding myself of all the things we DO have so I don’t get swept up in what isn’t yet accomplished or finished.

But let’s just be honest…some days remembering this is easier than others.

Happy belated Thanksgiving and beginning of advent:)