Lately // 1.9.18

After a refreshing few days at the coast with Grayson over New Years, I came back with a long list of things to do to begin preparing our little 800 square foot home for a second baby. There’s so much to do, and I feel like the clock is ticking before I’m too big and uncomfortable to be able to get it all done. It’s hard to believe I’m already in the 22nd week – we only have about 18 weeks before we get to meet our daughter! I’m somewhere between scared-to-death and so-excited-I-can-hardly-stand-it.

Like many of you, I get on a lets-clean-everything-out kick every year around this time… something about starting a fresh, new year just gives me that little push I need to go through closets, organize drawers, and part with things that can be donated or thrown away. I’ve been working specifically in the nursery, trying to rearrange it in a way that will allow us to have both the crib and a toddler bed, which I think Landon will be moving into soon (thanks to his newfound climbing skills… eeeek!).

I’m sure Harper will sleep in our room in either the rock n’ play or the pack n’ play for the first five or six months, like Landon did, but there are still preparations and changes that have to be made to the nursery before she is born. Because the closets in our bedrooms are so small, Grayson uses the closet in the nursery as his own, while the one in our bedroom is mine. Landon has never really had any clothes that had to be hung, but Harper will undoubtably have all kinds of pretty dresses – meaning I have had to get a little creative about finding a place to hang those.

About a year ago, my friend, Carol gave me a vintage canning cabinet that immediately found a home in my kitchen. I had admired it in her home for years and when she decided to get rid of it, she offered it to me first (love her). It reminds me of my great grandmother’s canning cabinet, and up until now I have used it very practically (as opposed to as for-display-only) to store plates, cake plates, glasses, and all kinds of things in my little kitchen. After giving much thought to what we could do about needing a place to hang Harper’s clothes, I decided to convert the canning cabinet into a wardrobe, and although it’s not finished yet, I can’t wait to show ya’ll how it turns out! This week, I got it cleaned out (which required me to clean out every cabinet in my kitchen, purge, and make room for the items that had been stored in the canning cabinet in the cabinets…. whew!) and moved into the nursery. It needs some touching up and new handles and Grayson will have to take out the shelves and put in a rod to hang the clothes, but my little project is coming right along! I will share before and after photos when it’s complete!


Grayson started his new job as an Instructional Technology Facilitator at Charlotte Christian School on January 2nd and he is loving it. Everyone has been so kind and welcoming and he’s finding his niche, while learning and growing so much. I think a part of him will always miss the classroom, but I can tell that he’s so thankful to be in an environment where Christ is the focus of every aspect of the day and faith is freely talked about and cultivated. I am so proud of him for taking such a huge leap of faith and constantly chasing his dreams and putting the best interest of our growing family first.


Landon is growing like a weed, jibber-jabbering all the time, and saying so many new words every day. He amazes me with words I didn’t even know he knew, but then I realize that since I literally talk to him all day every day, he picks up more than I realize! We will be at a restaurant and a family with a little baby will come in and sit down at the booth beside us, and he’ll say, “oooh! baby!” and then point to my growing belly, or he’ll see the moon in the night sky and he’ll point to it and say, “moon!” or he’ll notice an airplane in the sky and say, “airplane!” and then when it’s disappeared from sight, say, “airplane all gone!” He loves to play with his horses, trucks, and balls. He adores our dog, Kai Kai. He eats everything and is getting so big, and is still a great sleeper (lets all pray that Harper will be too!). Sometimes I look at him and my heart just hurts because I see a little boy in place of the tiny baby that I brought home. He was so teeny tiny and now he’s practically going off to college! Ok, I need to stop because these pregnancy emotions are no joke (just ask Gray… I’ve cried over Publix commercials).


Just wanting to keep ya’ll in the loop about what’s been going on lately! I have a feeling these next few months are going to be a whirlwind, so I’m all the more thankful for God’s grace, pursuit of my heart in every season, and unconditional love. We serve an awesome God, don’t we friends?!

Happy Tuesday!

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Harborlight Guest House

Two years ago, my Mama gave us a gift certificate to bedandbreakfast.com and we finally used it this weekend. We didn’t get an opportunity to go before Landon was born, and then after he was born I was nursing and we just never found a few days to get away. We realized last week that Grayson’s Spring Break isn’t until the end of March, and by then I’ll be much too far along to travel very far in a car as I’ll be approaching the end of this pregnancy. After Harper is born, it will be the same as after Landon was born, and another year would have passed that we would not have used our gift certificate. So, this trip was kind of like a now-or-never thing. Sometimes, spur of the moment decisions end up being the most fun!

I had never been away from Landon for three full nights before, and Lordy mercy did I miss my boy… but I wouldn’t have traded these few days alone with Grayson for anything. It was the most fun!

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Bedandbreakfast.com has tons of great B&B’s to choose from, and we knew we wanted to go somewhere near the beach. We go to Morehead City with some friends every summer and love the area, so we were happy to find a B&B called Harborlight Guest House nearby in Cape Carteret. When you already have at least a little knowledge about the area, restaurants, and shops, I think you get more out of your trip. Not to mention, knowing our way around (for the most part) makes it easier.

We left early Friday morning and made it to our favorite little drive in for lunch. El’s Drive In in Morehead City has been in business since 1959 and they’re famous for their shrimp burger and super burger. It’s delicious!

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We had no idea what to expect when we checked into our B&B because the website has not been fully updated since the new owners took over, but we were so pleasantly surprised. When we pulled up, we were captivated by the beauty of the property. The B&B sits on a peninsula with great views all the way around of the Bogue Inlet. The owner, Perry, came out to meet us and was so warm and welcoming. He and his wife, Dana, have just recently purchased the Harborlight Guest House and are only a few years older than Grayson and I. Come to find out, we share the same alma mater (Go App State!) and they were both just as sweet as could be. He gave us a tour, helped us carry our bags, and showed us to our room, all the while giving great recommendations for local restaurants.

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Our room, the Swann Suite (named after the nearby town of Swansboro), was darling and so clean and cozy. The bathroom had a beautiful claw foot tub (which, you better believe I took advantage of) and as beautiful of a view as our room did. The sunrises and sunsets were breathtaking and we felt like we had the best seat in the house.

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Breakfast was phenomenal and served in-suite in two courses. First, a breakfast appetizer was served with juice and coffee (which just happened to be some of the best coffee we had ever tasted) and then the rest of the meal. The first day, we feasted on poached pears with raspberry jam, an egg quiche, bacon, and sweet potato muffins, and the next day we had mushrooms stuffed with sausage and cream cheese, fruit, sausage links, and the fluffiest pancakes. It was far better than anything we expected and the housekeeping and kitchen staff were so sweet.

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We didn’t really make any plans for how to spend our time, which was a refreshing change. We just went with the flow, Grayson fished, I napped and read and wrote and soaked in the clawfoot tub until my heart was content. We ate good food, spent some time in Beaufort, watched funny movies, and woke up without any alarms. It was so restful and peaceful.

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We found a new favorite restaurant- the Icehouse in Swansboro. It’s right on the water in the cutest historic waterfront district and our food was so delicious that we went back there the next night! Their crab tostadas were heavenly and we loved the shrimp and grits and grouper with garlic mashed potatoes. I love eating on the water, too. The service was fantastic, the food was amazing, and the view was so beautiful!

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We were sad to leave on Sunday morning after breakfast, but I could hardly wait to have my boy back in my arms. It’s about a five hour drive home from Cape Carteret, so I’m glad we didn’t wait any longer in my pregnancy to make the trip. We are so thankful to have been given such a wonderful gift, a trip that we’ll remember forever.

2017

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I’m going to keep this short and sweet, but I love seeing everyone’s yearly recaps so I wanted to share a little about our year. 2017 was full and sweet. We faced some of our biggest challenges, and also some of our life’s sweetest memories.

Watching our sweet boy grow this year has been so much fun. He has brought us so much joy and being his Mama and Daddy is the greatest honor. I still can’t believe he’s ours. I pulled a favorite picture of him from every month this year (which was hard to pick just one!) and look how big he is! I wish I could freeze time. My boy, my whole world.

Thinking of adding another little life to our family in 2018 is overwhelming but so exciting. It will inevitably be a year of growth and change and we’ll be clinging to His promises as a fresh, new year unfolds.

 

Peanut Butter Fudge

Growing up, making homemade fudge with my grandma, who our whole family lovingly called Baba, was always a sweet, special time. Every Christmas, we’d have a day devoted to “makin’ candy” and she’d have all the ingredients laid out, the pans buttered, and her apron on.

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She was the best cook in the world, and as mischievous and playful as they come. My memories with her as a little girl are treasures that I’m so grateful for. And what I wouldn’t give for my little girl to be able to have those same memories with her. We all miss her every day!

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Now, my Mama and I continue the “candy makin'” tradition every year at Christmas in her honor. This year, Landon sopped the spoon and couldn’t stop saying “mmmmm!” Do you ever have days that you wish you could just freeze in your memory forever? That’s what this day was like for me. What a treasure!

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Once you’ve had this fudge, it’s honestly hard to eat any other kind. This really is the best recipe… and I might be just a littttle biased. It’s not grainy or dry like some fudge recipes are, and the flavor is perfect – not too peanut buttery (if there is such a thing), not too much vanilla, and it makes a ton – so there’s plenty to give to your friends and neighbors!

It’s so easy and fun to make!

Ingredients:

  • One jar of marshmallow fluff
  • One bag of peanut butter chips
  • Two sticks of real butter
  • 5 cups of sugar
  • One can of cream
  • One teaspoon of vanilla
  • A little bit of butter to grease your pan with

Instructions:

  • First, go ahead and butter grease your pan. It should be a big, deep baking pan.
  • Put marshmallow cream and peanut butter chips in a large bowl.
  • In a pot on the stove on medium heat, begin stirring together 5 cups of sugar, can of cream, and both sticks of butter. You must stir continuously.
  • When this mixture comes to a boil, continue stirring and boil for 7 minutes.
  • After the 7 minutes of stirring while boiling, pour into bowl over marshmallow fluff and peanut butter chips, add teaspoon of vanilla, and stir until well mixed. Everything should be well dissolved and creamy.
  • Then, quickly pour into greased pan (it begins to harden quickly) and allow to sit overnight.
  • The next morning, your fudge will be ready to cut!

The Billy Graham Library at Christmas

We went to the Billy Graham Library one night this week and I shared some video clips of our time there on my insta story. I was so surprised to have several people message me asking where we were, all very interested but never having been. My family has been going to the Billy Graham Library for years, ever since it first opened in 2007. It’s a special place to go at any time of year, but Christmastime is my favorite!

The atmosphere is so peaceful and there’s so much to see, including Billy Graham’s childhood home, which was built in 1927 and moved onto the property. The Gospel is presented beautifully and it’s a great place to go spend a few hours or a whole day! There’s even a cute little cafe there, and my Mama loves their chicken salad sandwiches. At Christmas, there is a live nativity and lights and the biggest, most beautiful tree in the lobby. It’s such a pretty place, and you can truly feel the Lord’s presence.

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You can read more about the Library here and find directions and more details about hours, parking, and admission (which is free) here.

Salt Dough Christmas Ornaments

My cousin, Kristen and I are six months apart and our little boys are also six months apart. It was so much fun growing up together and now watching our boys together is so special! Briggs is such a sweetheart and I can only imagine all the fun he and Landon will have as they get older… and all the trouble they’ll get in together!

We finally got around to making handmade Christmas ornaments this year and it was so easy and fun, I want to share the recipe! There are tons of different recipes and instructions for salt dough ornaments on Pinterest, and we were really happy with the way these turned out!

You may notice that the holes are at the wrong end of some of our ornaments… and we really don’t have any excuse except #blonde and #pregnancybrain – and also, keeping toddlers out of trouble while trying to make happy Christmas memories! Hahaha honestly, I think it makes me love them even more!

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Straw for poking hole
  • Ribbon for hanging
  • Paint for decorating

Instructions:

  • Mix together ingredients, kneading into a thick dough.
  • Sprinkle flour onto surface and rolling pin so dough doesn’t stick.
  • Roll out dough, just like you would sugar cookie dough.
  • Press baby’s hand or foot into dough, cut out around it, and use a straw to poke a hole for hanging.
  • Bake on lined baking sheet for 3 hours at 200 degrees.
  • Once cool, paint and allow to dry and attach ribbon for hanging.

IT’S A GIRL!

Landon is getting a SISTER and Grayson and I couldn’t be more thrilled! I dared to utter that I had a feeling it was a girl a few times during my first trimester, but was not 100% sure. All I had to go by was how I felt, which just seemed different than how I felt when I was pregnant with Landon. With Landon, I experienced no nausea whatsoever, but this time around, I did struggle through a few weeks of queasiness (although not nearly as bad as some friends of mine have). I never actually got sick, but was noticeably more sensitive to smells and sometimes felt very nauseas at random times throughout the day.

At the end of my first trimester, I chose to have the genetic testing that checks for markers indicating chromosome abnormalities pointing to Downs Syndrome and Spina Bifida. I realize this is very controversial and I totally understand why some women feel that there is no need for this testing, especially considering that I am 100% pro-life, no matter what. But, I wanted to do the testing, just to give myself peace of mind (and I did so with Landon, as well). I didn’t think that gender results would come back with this testing, but… it did!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but I love the way Jesus works! The week of Halloween brought about a terrible stomach virus to my little family. It started with Landon, then I got sick, and then Gray and my Mama, too. We struggled through it, but it wasn’t pretty and as soon as I felt well enough, I threw the windows open and began cloroxing like a crazy person. Grayson caught the bug on a Sunday night and was up every hour that night sick as could be. The next morning, he was still in bad shape, so he got a substitute teacher and decided to take a half day to rest (which he never, ever does, so ya know it had to be bad). And that’s when the phone rang…

The doctor called to share the results of my genetic testing and had good news! Everything looked normal and our baby was healthy! I was so thankful and relieved, and glad once again that I had chosen to do the testing. Then, she asked me if I wanted to know the gender! I couldn’t believe it! The gender? At 13 weeks? Ahhhh! I put the phone on speaker just in time for Grayson and me to hear it together.

“It’s a baby girl!”

I lost it, ya’ll. All the tears. They came out of nowhere and didn’t stop. I couldn’t believe it. When I go to the doctor, I mentally prepare myself for days ahead of time. I wasn’t even expecting to hear the results of genetic testing for two more days, and I definitely wasn’t expecting to find out the gender! If Gray hadn’t been sick and at home that morning, we would never have been able to hear that news together! I’m telling ya, my God is a God who cares about the little details, and that makes me love Him even more.

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We chose a name for our little girl, should God ever entrust us with such a gift, a long time ago, before we even got married. We knew that we would want to name her after someone who means the world to us, someone who is a role model to us both, someone who loves the Lord with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength, and who we love dearly. Tony Harper. The man who has faithfully served our church for 40 years, a man who fought for our country, a man who is completely sold out to Jesus and loves his family like Christ loves the church… He has the biggest heart, loves people with an selflessness that is unmatched, and has more integrity than anyone I know. He not only married Grayson and me, but also filled a role that no one else could have. He walked me down the aisle. He’s loved me like a Daddy should have, and was not only there when I was born, but also when my son was born 23 years later. He and his precious wife, Karen, have been so influential in our lives and we are so honored to give our daughter their namesake. Tony is a rock, a tree planted by streams of water, and his humbleness and faithfulness will be his legacy forever.

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Nothing I could say about him would do justice to the amount of love in my heart, but with all that being said, we are honored to name our little girl Harper Gray Bedenbaugh.

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Photo by M.Lanier Photography

Elk River Evergreens: A new favorite tradition

Every year for my entire life, the weekend after Thanksgiving, we’d tromp through my uncle Bill’s tree patch to find the perfect Christmas tree. We’d chop it down, he’d bale it for us, and we’d go home and listen to Christmas music, Mama would make a big pot of soup, and we’d decorate our tree. Those are some of my most cherished Christmas memories.

My uncle Bill was a special man. Unapologetically himself. You’d really have to have known him to know what I mean, but lets just say he was one of a kind and I loved him very much. He was one of the first people we told that we were pregnant with Landon, and we snapped this picture right after we told him the news. What I wouldn’t give for our kids to have the same sweet memories with him that I have!

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My uncle Bill died two years ago, and we knew after his death, picking out our Christmas tree would never be the same. It really was, in some ways, the end of an era.

So, Landon’s first Christmas was our first year having to find our tree elsewhere. I was sad and wanted so badly to find a new tradition to treasure with my baby. We scrambled around at the last minute and finally chose a little tree lot where we were able to get a pretty tree and snap a few pictures to remember Landon’s first tree-picking experience. It was fine, but I wasn’t really satisfied with it. I wanted something more. Something special. Something we’d all look forward to year after year.

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This year, we set out to find a Christmas tree and I vaguely remembered seeing a friend of mine post a picture at a tree farm nearby on Instagram. I couldn’t remember if she had said the exact location, so I went back and found her post, and sure enough, it said “Elk River Evergreens.” We made our way down to Elk Park, which is only about 15 minutes from my grandparent’s house in Banner Elk, with no idea what to expect. We had high hopes, and I am so glad to say that our experience there far exceeded our expectations!

Come to find out, her family actually owns this tree farm and let me just say that you could feel the love, happiness, and excitement buzzing around the entire property. There were a ton of people there – hundreds even- and everything was so well organized. There were workers there helping guide the cars as you parked, and then once you got out, a worker met you and asked your name and where you’re from, which they wrote on a tag and gave you to attach to the tree once you’d picked it out. There were thousands of beautiful trees to choose from, a hay ride that took you up the hill, and they gave you a card with the prices listed and clear instructions for what to do once you’d found your tree.

We had the most fun looking through the trees, just letting Landon run and play and explore. This year, everything is so fascinating for him. It’s like he’s seeing everything for the first time and I wish I could just bottle up the wonder and awe in his eyes. It’s magical.

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The farm has tons of cute photo ops, super friendly workers, and a cute cafe complete with checkers on every table where you can get hot chocolate, apple cider, and popcorn. They even had little bags of animal crackers for the kiddos, all completely free of charge.

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There is also a gift shop where you can purchase beautiful, unique ornaments and Christmas decor. They sell wreaths there, too, and you have a chance to look at everything and get a snack while they bale your tree and take it to your car for you.

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For some families, finding a new place to get a Christmas tree would be no big deal, but for mine it was truly an answer to prayers. I don’t like change and really value traditions, so after my uncle Bill’s death, this new tradition to begin with our growing family is something I just can’t stop talking about! It’s been several weeks and I’m still telling everyone about it!

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I know this post is a little late, because by December 6th most people already have their trees up, but I just had to share what a great experience my family had at Elk River Evergreens in Elk Park, NC. If you haven’t got a tree yet, you still have time! Their last day of the season is this coming Sunday, December 10th and I promise, it’s worth the drive! We are already looking forward to going back next year! To see their facebook page, click here!

An Honest Review: My experience with WalMart Grocery Pick-up

Friends have been telling me to try the WalMart grocery pick-up service for years and although I’ve meant to give it a shot, I never got around to it until this week. I don’t know what took me so long, but let me just tell ya… I’m never looking back. I am happy to report that with being well into my second trimester and having an 18 month old who is only content in a grocery cart for so long, this service is a GAME CHANGER!

My friend, Lindsey said that it would change my life and I know that sounds dramatic, but until you do it and see for yourself, you really couldn’t understand. It’s amazing and SO EASY!

If you don’t already have an account with walmart.com, setting that up is the first step. I have had an account with them for a long time because I take advantage of the “Savings Catcher” feature. If you don’t know what “Savings Catcher” is, it’s a price match program through walmart.com where you simply scan the bottom of your receipt and they price match the items you purchased with all of their competitors and give you the difference back on a WalMart gift card. I let mine add up until I have about $50 before redeeming it, and it is so nice! It’s like couponing without having to do any work!

So after you’ve made your account on walmart.com, you just log in and select the “Free Grocery Pickup” option. After choosing your store and time slot (you choose a one hour window in which you can pick up your items), you begin adding items to your cart and then finalize your order. It’s so easy.

I had chosen the window of 1-2pm to pick up my groceries and didn’t really know what to expect when I pulled into the parking lot. I honestly didn’t even know where to go, but I was pleasantly surprised with how quick and painless the whole thing was. I just followed the bright orange sign that said “Pick Up” to the designated parking spots on the side of the store. The number to call upon arrival was posted on the sign and I just told them I was there to pick up my groceries. Within 30 seconds, an employee was at my car window and all I had to do was sign off on their ipad for my items. They loaded all of my bags into my backseat for me and I was amazed at the quality and speed of service.

It was so nice not to have to get Landon out of his carseat, find a buggy, walk all over the store while simultaneously entertaining him and trying to mark items off a list, checkout and then load all my groceries into the car and get him back into his carseat. All of that was eliminated with a few clicks and a phone call. Amazing. Welcome to 2017, Katie. 

I know I’m a little late in the game hopping on the grocery pick up wagon, but I just had to share an honest review of my experience with ya’ll because I am so happy to have found such an easy way to shop. I know I will only grow to appreciate this more as my due date approaches, and even more so once we add a newborn into the mix! I think this way of shopping helps you spend less money because you only buy what you need, as opposed to getting distracted or making impulse purchases in-store, and it also forces you to plan ahead and do a little more meal-prep, which is a win-win in my book.

Side note: You can search for a $10 off your first pick up code online! I used “WOWFRESH” and got $10 off ($50 or more).

Now… if only Aldi would join the free grocery pick up club!

Have ya’ll tried grocery pick up before? I’d love to hear about your favorite services that make #momlife easier!

 

Favorite TV Shows

If you know me, you know I’m no huge fan of TV. Growing up, we didn’t have cable and I spent my time climbing the big tree in our front yard, playing Barbies, and helping my Mama bake cookies. Now that I have my own home, we also have chosen to opt out of cable television and much prefer playing outside, cooking together, and watching movies.

But with all that being said, there are three TV shows (that we watch via Netflix or Firestick) that Grayson and I enjoy watching together.

Parenthood: 

Parenthood is about the four Braverman children who are now grown and have children of their own. It shows their family go through everything you can think of and the love, forgiveness, and overcoming hardships that holds everything together. By the end of the sixth season, you’ll feel like you’re part of the Braverman family.

This is the best of the best. All six seasons are amazing. I was so sad for the show to end, I could hardly stand it. Grayson and I watched this on Netflix and stayed up many nights until 2 and 3am just because we couldn’t stop watching! So good!

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This Is Us:

This Is Us is the story of the Pearson family, which is made complete by adoption. The show is emotional, funny, and is so easy to connect to – on so many different levels. The show is currently only in it’s second season, but has truly taken the nation by storm and has quickly become a favorite in our home. Mandy Moore plays the role of the mother so well, and every actor/actress is very well chosen for the part they play. I’ve never seen a show utilize the art of flashbacks so well, and it adds so much depth to the story. I cry every week!

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Riverdale:

Riverdale is a mysterious spin off of the Archie Comics, which were most popular in the 1940s-50s. The show is a murder mystery, a love triangle, and real cliff-hanger… and if you’re a chicken like me, you’ll jump more than once each and every episode. The show is set in modern times, but there are many aspects of the small town life that parallel the comics that inspired the drama. This show is also only in it’s second season, but has a strong cast and is easy to get addicted to.

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So, if you’re looking for a new TV series to binge watch over the holidays, these are my suggestions. I tried to describe them as best as I could without giving anything away! What are your favorites? Share them in the comments!

Hope ya’ll have a great week!