Chanukah 2016

With 2016 officially in the books, I knew I needed to get my Chanukah 2016 post up!  If for no other reason, because I love looking back on old blog posts from special occasions.  I know blogging has not been consistent these days, that’s a whole different issue, but really it’s for good reasons. I’ve been enjoying life, out of routine, and blogging simply has not been a priority.  I thought I’d try to catch up on life in a few different posts as to not do one huge photo dump of the last month.  So today, Chanukah 2016!  While I have many more pictures from Chanukah, these are specifically the menorah photos, since nothing says Chaunkah like a brightly lit menorah and smiling faces!

William will be three in April, so this is the first Chaunkah he started to understand how it worked.  After the first snow in St. Louis, before Chanukah began, I took him outside to show him the snow in the morning.  “It’s Chanukah?” he asked.  It’s funny how people always associate Christmas with snow, but my little Jewish boy equated Chanukah with snow.  Then, when the snow melted, still before Chanukah began, he questioned, “How will we have Chanukah if there’s no snow?”  The associations he makes and questions he asks continue to amaze me.

William celebrated Chanukah at his school where they played games, ate snacks, and made their own menorahs.

The first night of Chanukah may have been celebrated in the morning because both William and I were too excited to wait for the evening.  We lit the menorah first thing after breakfast and I gave William his first gift.

William is really into playing games right now, so I gave him a new game (Pop Up Pirate), and it provided a lot of entertainment for the day.  His imagination is running wild these days.  We played the game, but then he took the pirate and the barrel and turned it into a ship.  Then, we drew pictures of our own pirate ship and he made the game pirate hop in.

The second night of Chanukah was a big family get together at my cousins’ house.  They host a beautiful Chanukah dinner every year with my mom’s side of the family.  The cousins play, the adults visit, and many menorahs are lit.

My parents had our immediate family over for Chanukah.  I say it over and over again, but it’s still true.  William is so close with his cousins Jacob, Audrey, and Jackson.  I hope that bond is always there.  Yaya and Pops sure instilled love in our family!

linking up with healthy diva 

And now the kids picture:

The following night, William and I went over to Stephanie’s house.  Audrey was so kind in letting William help her with her menorah.  She was cracking up when he went out of order in putting in the candles.  She so gently held his hand while they lit the candles together.

Another night, just William and I spent Chanukah with my mom.  I love our big family, but some quality one on one time is definitely nice, too.

At William’s school, they made menorahs and wrapped them up as gifts which was sweet.

It’s funny because even prior to seeing it, I helped William make handprint menorahs for a Chanukah card for his great-grandparents.  I’m pretty sure there is a handprint craft for every single holiday out there.

The last night of Chanukah fell on New Year’s Eve.  We, of course, spent it with Jacob and Audrey.  Bright lights and a glittery gold background!

I love that Chanukah traditions are beginning with William, and he is starting to appreciate the importance of the holiday.  With our hearts full, Chanukah 2016 (and all of 2016 actually) is officially over!  We have many memories to look back on and celebrate.

How were your holidays?

highlights from the week

Well, hello there!  Last week I blogged all five days and this week just two.  I never mean for that to happen, but sometimes life just gets in the way.  And to be completely honest, I’ve felt pretty blah this week.  I’m all good during the day as I’m super busy, and then by the time I get William in bed and I actually have time to blog, I’ve been incredibly exhausted this week.  I’ve been in bed between eight and nine most nights.  I’m not sure what’s been going on; nothing out of the ordinary is going on, but the daily grind of work and taking care of things seemed to catch up to me this week.  I’m hoping this weekend will rejuvenate me and I’ll be in a better mood next week.  I’m over this funk!  So let’s turn to a positive note and look at some highlights from the week.

We’ve been having a wonderful Chanukah!  We’ve had a few different family Chanukah celebrations already, and have two more this weekend.  William loves lighting the candles each night.  He’s so funny because he knows how to blow out birthday candles, but now I have to tell him that we don’t blow out Chanukah candles; we just look with our eyes.  He did get a play wooden menorah with removable candles and flames for Chanukah from Jason and Jackson that he’s been LOVING!  William got all dressed up for the first night of Chanukah:

dec15 cute

I love him in button downs – such a little boy!

My little Audrey was just a doll that night, too!  It’s hard to believe she was just two and a half years old when William was born. She has always taken care of him, even at that young age.  Now she’s four going on seventeen.

aud chaunkah15

linking up with Katie & Heather

Audrey is probably much like her momma Stephanie was as a little one – crazy smart and super sassy!  And she still is… 😉

steph 1215

…in addition to being kind, creative, selfless, determined, strong, and dependable.  I got her an awesome shirt for Chaunkah – it’s from Dimvaloo and reads, “I’m not bossy. I’m the boss.”  It’s perfect!

We all went to my parents’ to celebrate Chanukah one evening this week.  Yaya was playing dreidel with all the kiddos.

dreidel 2015

Saying the blessings and lighting the menorah is an important part of Chanukah.  Last year, William was just eight months old, so he’s really learning a lot this year and taking it all in.


William turned 20 months yesterday.  He’s growing every day.  Literally, I’m sure of it.  He loves sitting at the “big kid” table at my parents’ house.  He climbs right up on the chair and patiently waits for dinner.  Jackson, Jacob, and Audrey all show him good manners and he follows right along.

eating at bigboy table

Even though the evenings of this week felt a little rough, I’m always grateful to be William’s momma.  He puts a smile on my face every morning he wakes up, every afternoon I pick him up from school, and every evening I kiss him good night.

dreamer dec15

I’m looking forward to this weekend.  We have Chanukah plans, a birthday party, some errands to run, and lots of time to chill and play.  I’m hoping to get in a workout, relax, do a little baking, and meal prep for the following week.  Maybe even some shopping and a pedicure, too! 🙂

Tell me something happy!  With all that’s going on in the world right now, we NEED to focus on the positives!

William’s First Chanukah 2014

We want to wish everyone who celebrates a very Merry Christmas today!  Since we obviously don’t celebrate, I thought we’d recap William’s first Chanukah 2014 since it just ended a couple of days ago.

first chaunkah

We had lots of family time which is the best part of any holiday.

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William even got to spend some time with Uncle Justin and Aunt Dana who were in town from Arizona.  William intently explored Justin’s face.

justin dec14

I like how they both have the hair flip thing going on. 🙂

We had lots of playdates with our buddies!  William and Wolf:

wolf dec14

And William with his twin buddies, Asher and Sam:

asher sam

We celebrated the last night of Chanukah with our good friends. It was a beautiful way to end William’s first Chanukah!

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Happy holidays to all! xo

‘Twas a marvelous weekend!

‘Twas a marvelous weekend!  Thought it’s hard not to have marvelous weekends when they’re filled with smiles and giggles from this cute little baby:

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I mean, seriously.  His cuteness is too much!  And see those two little teethies on the bottom?  Well, his top tooth finally broke through, also!  Growing boy.

On Thursday, my brother Justin and his wife Dana came to town.  We had a Chanukah celebration at my parents’ house (hence, the no blog post on Friday since we were there on the later side and I had work the following day). Family time is the best.

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Missing Mom in the picture as she’s the one who took it!

Friday was my last day at work before winter break.  Teachers are just as excited (if not more) than the kiddos to have some time off.  We jumped for joy!  Literally.

school jumping

We were all cracking up during this mini photo shoot. I love jumping pictures!  But sometimes it’s hard to get that perfect shot, so we literally jumped a million times in a row.  Can I call that a workout? My heart rate was certainly elevated. haha

My parents took my family out to 801 Chophouse for dinner on Friday night.  It’s definitely the best steakhouse I’ve been to in St. Louis.  Everything from the oyster rockefeller appetizers to the filet entrees to the carrot cake desserts were unbelievably good!  The company, obviously, was the best.

family 801chophouse

We were surrounded by photos of cows which we got a good laugh out of.  Moo.

Saturday was filled with errands, laundry, baking, playing, and down time before heading to my best friend’s parents’ for a Chanukah party… which I took literally ZERO pictures!  William was a wild man and wanted to roll around and crawl all over the floor, so we were busy.  I did, however, manage to get in several bites of latkes and brisket – delicious!

While I was getting dressed for the party, I put William in the bassinet that I still have by my bed.  I never leave him in it unattended since he’s getting much more mobile and I don’t want to take the chance of him falling out, so I literally keep my eyes on him the whole time.  Well, when he started peeking over the edge, I got closer to make sure he was safe… and take out my phone to snap a picture because it was so funny.  But then, this happened:

baby pushup yoga

I was like, woaaaaah baby!  Doesn’t it look like he’s either trying to do some baby yoga or baby push-ups?  Baby FitFluential right there!

We had brunch on Sunday at my parents’ house with my siblings, grandparents, and some cousins.  Nobody went hungry as my parents, like always, had quite the spread!


The food pictured was just the appetizers.  A whole new spread came out for brunch!  I’m telling you, my parents host the best meals!  We’re so fortunate to have our grandparents in our lives and live so close to be able to see them often.

That picture of Justin holding Audrey (smiling) is hilarious.  Audrey, for some reason, just doesn’t like Justin.  We think it’s because she doesn’t see him often, but last time he was in town, she literally cried when he looked at her.  (You better believe this had us in stitches!)  Justin works so hard to win Audrey over, and finally, after much bribery of cookies and promises to play outside, she caved and let him not only pick her up, but also smile for a picture!  Progress, people!

You never have to ask her to smile twice when she’s with baby William:

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Those cousins.  Growing up as the best of friends. (Missing Jackson!)

My mom always outdoes herself with events like these.  She learned it from her mother, my Mama. Stephanie and I have a lot to live up to!  Strong women play a prominent role in our family!

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I’ll say it again: family time is just the best.  We spent the whole day over there.  Our bellies and hearts were so full.  The day reminded me once again just how grateful I am for my marvelous family.  It takes a village to raise a baby, and they’re definitely a village!  William is a lucky little man!

8months smile

How was your weekend?

Linking up with Healthy Diva for Marvelous in my Monday and Her Heartland Soul for Weekend Snapshots – check ’em out!

Best Dressed Home Sweepstakes

*Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Kmart.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Growing up, my mom always decorated our house for the holidays.  I remember helping her put on the window decals of Jewish stars, menorahs, and dreidels.  She set out festive afghans and took out every menorah our family owned, which grew throughout the years, as did our dreidel collection.  Old family photos from previous Chanukahs were shown, and each of the eight nights our family came together to light the candles, say the blessings, play dreidel, open gifts, read books, and enjoy each other’s company.

1985 chanukah

my first chanukah

Truthfully, I’m not a decorator.  At all.  I don’t have an eye for it nor is it something I enjoy.  Besides a themed dish towel or two, you will never find a decoration in our home for any holiday.  However, when Kmart approached me asking to share their Best Dressed Home Sweepstakes and offered to give me a gift card to purchase holiday decorations, I was actually excited. I thought this could start my own collection of holiday decorations.

Off to the store I went in search of Chanukah or winter decorations.  I knew they wouldn’t be as plentiful as Christmas items, but I figured I could find a few things to adorn my house.  To be honest, the store was primarily Christmas-only decorations.  They were many pretty items, but as a Jew who doesn’t celebrate Christmas, they weren’t going to work for me.  The cases of ornaments did catch my eye, though, and I began thinking I could put them in a large bowl or vase.  I didn’t purchase them at the store since I wanted to see what else was available online. Online had a much larger selection and I picked out a few items. Now keep in mind what I told you: I’m not a decorator.  I figured I’d start small and just set out a few items this year and grow my collection (and decorating skills) from there.  Though my little Chanukah table is simple, I think it’s still pretty.

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(For the record, I do have a “real” menorah that we light each night, but it’s covered in wax and didn’t look as nice in the picture.)

The box of 30 shatterproof ornaments I got was just a little over five dollars.  Clearly I don’t buy ornaments on the regular, but I thought that was a great value.  I want to get a package of blue, too.  I also ordered an Interfaith Decorations Deluxe Hanukkah Tree Topper, but it hasn’t arrived yet.  I might have missed the “tree topper” part when ordering because I thought it just looked like a pretty Jewish star decoration! #newbiedecorator

hanukkah topper

Doesn’t have to go on a tree; it’ll look nice on a table, I’m sure!

Kmart and Sears recently conducted a survey and found that:

  • 1 in 4 Americans will begin to deck the halls one month before the holiday.
  • 41% of Americans defined their signature design as “classic,” followed by “colorful” (37%) and “vintage” (12%).
  • More than half (58%) of participants felt the most essential decoration for the holidays was the Christmas tree
  • Nearly 25% of Americans choose decorating as their favorite holiday activity, with listening to Christmas music and shopping as other favorites.

My thoughts?  I definitely don’t decorate a month before; I’m the biggest procrastinor all the time.  I just set up my little Chanukah table this week.  Chanukah started this week.. My signature design?  Hmm, I suppose I am “vintage wannabe.”  Obviously the Christmas tree is not the most essential decoration for me.  For me, it’s the menorah.  My favorite holiday activity is definitely spending time with the family!

tbt chaunkah

big family celebrations during the holidays are the best!

To celebrate the uniqueness of this holiday tradition, Sears and Kmart are launching the Best Dressed Home Sweepstakes to capture how you and others across the US are decorating.

  • Between 11/17-12/26, visit answer the poll questions and upload a photo of your home decked out for the holidays for a chance to win Shop Your Way points.
  • 60 people will instantly win $50 in Shop Your Way points—you can enter daily!
  • 1 grand prize winner will win 1 million Shop Your Way points.

It really is super easy to enter and most of you probably take pictures of your holiday decorations anyway!

Since it’s Thursday, let’s take a look at a couple more Throwback Thursday Chanukah pictures.  (I LOVE looking at old photos!)

1997 chanukah

gotta love those awkward years! 😉

Some cuter tbt Chanukah pictures:

1989 chanukah

I think this was 1989.  We were celebrating Chanukah at my grandparents’ house, and their bar area is still set up the same way!  Gotta love my dad’s ‘stache, my mom’s tennis outfit, Justin and I are both in overalls, Stephanie looks exactly like her son Jacob, and Jason, the oldest of us all, is too cool for pictures.  Do you see a slight William resemblance in Justin?  When William was a tiny baby, I always said that I thought he looked like Justin a little bit; I think this picture shows that.  I think it’s the cheeks, eyes, and eyebrows.

And one last one:

1992 chanukah

I think this was around 1992.  Everyone always got to light their own menorah (holding a candle with fire was a big deal when you were a kid!).  I love how Jason, Stephanie, and my dad all have the same shaped glasses.  I love that I’m wearing a robe because, still to do this day, I live in robes.  And I love that Justin is making a wolf sign with his fingers?  Why?  No one knows.

Do you decorate your home for the holidays?  What are some of your family’s holiday traditions?  Happy Chanukah to those that celebrate!

Mamma Chia GIVEAWAY {closed}

Happy Chanukah to all my friends who celebrate!  William saw the candles on the menorah being lit for the very first time last night.  All his firsts are so special.

first chaunkah

So much cuteness.  Always. And so many chins. Hehe, I love everything about that baby!

Now we’ll talk food.  Let’s do a little WIAW action today since it’s been awhile since that’s happened.  Big thanks to Jenn at Peas and Crayons for hosting, as always.  We’ll conclude the post with a Mamma Chia GIVEAWAY – it’s awesome, you just wait and see!

Breakfast: Cinnamon French Toast

french toast

never make french toast; I’m much more of a pancake girl.  For some reason, yesterday, I had a hankering for french toast, and it really takes no time to prepare at all.  Mornings are always rushed for me, but I always make sure I eat a substantial breakfast before my day at work.  I have to.  Breastfeeding + working = a hungry beast.  The combination of the cinnamon french toast, fresh blackberries, dollop of whipped cream, and syrup totally hit the spot.

I have one more breakfast to feature since both of these are so different than my typical egg sandwich that I’ve been eating for months now.

Breakfast: Cottage cheese, yogurt, Power O’s, & blackberries

breakfast bowl

This breakfast bowl packed quite a protein punch and tasted great, too!  It contained cottage cheese, strawberry yogurt, fresh blackberries, and Love Grown Foods Chocolate Power O’s.  Power O’s are made with navy beans, garbanzo beans, and lentils, but you’d never know.  They’re definitely the healthiest breakfast cereal around and come in four great flavors (chocolate, strawberry, honey, and original).

I have no lunch picture to show because I pack it in a tupperware container and haven’t had time to take a better looking picture of my lunches for this week. Last week, I felt like I had no time to grocery shop or food prep, so I ate PB&J’s all week which really didn’t work for me.  They kept me full for like thirty minutes and the rest of the day I was literally starving.  So over the weekend, I made it a priority to do some food prep, and baked a huge pan of chicken.  I throw together simple salads of spinach, pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, chicken, and this new fig balsamic dressing I just bought at Whole Foods Market.  Like I said, it’s very simple, but keeps me full much longer than a PB&J.

Dinner: Latkes, salad, & salmon


My parents watched William yesterday, so we stayed the evening to light the Chanukah candles and for dinner which was faaaaantastic because my mom made latkes!  Perfect first night of Chanukah dinner!

Alright, now for this awesome Mamma Chia giveaway:  Mamma Chia recently sent me their new Clean Energy Beverages to try. One word: LOVE!  I’m always a huge fan of Mamma Chia products, and these drinks definitely did not disappoint.  They’re different than their vitality chia drinks because they contain caffeine (hence, the “energy” part in their name).  They come in four great flavors: Grape Power, Cherry Charge, Blackberry Blast, and Raspberry Razz.


Mamma Chia’s Clean Energy Drink is the first energy drink of it’s kind.  Made with refreshing organic fruit juices and lightly sweetened with only 14 grams of organic cane sugar, one bottle of Mamma Chia Clean Energy (10 oz.) delivers:

  • More than an entire day’s worth of Omega-3s (2500 mg)
  • 25 percent of one’s daily fiber (6 grams)
  • 4 grams of complete protein
  • 90 mg of natural caffeine (about as much in an 8 oz. cup of coffee)
  • Twice the antioxidants of a cup of green tea
  • Calcium, powerful antioxidants and valuable minerals
  • 120 calories

I decided to try it for the first time over the weekend.  My niece Audrey had slept over, we stayed up late baking cookies with way too many sprinkles, William was up several times throughout the night, and they were both up bright and early in the morning.  I definitely needed a little kick to get the day going.  I’m a fan of these energy drinks.  Actually, they’re probably the only “energy drinks” that I do like.  They’re not too sweet and have the right amount of natural caffeine in it for me.  Since I’m breastfeeding, I limit my caffeine intake.  I will have a cup of coffee maybe once a week.  This beverage has the same amount of caffeine as one cup of coffee, but waaaay more benefits.  Omega-3s, fiber, protein, antioxidants, and calcium all in one drink?  Plus, tons of great flavor.  Oh yes!


Mamma Chia is graciously giving away a one week supply of Clean Energy beverages, a one week supply of Chia Squeezes, and a Mamma Chia Camelbak water bottle.  To enter this giveaway,  tell me which flavor of the Mamma Chia Clean Energy Beverage you’d most like to try.  For additional, optional entries:

  • On Twitter, follow Itz Linz and Mamma Chia and tweet the following, “I want to win a week’s supply of @MammaChia’s NEW organic Clean Energy Drink from @ItzLinz! #SeedYourSoul”
  • Follow Itz Linz and Mamma Chia on Instagram.

Be sure to leave a separate comment for each additional entry.  This giveaway will be open until Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014 at 8:00 pm CST.  The winner will be randomly selected and announced on Wednesday, December 24th. CLOSED!

Congrats to #20 Leslie Bley! Please email me your shipping info!