January Milestones

Like so many of you, we’ve been taking a closer look at life – how we’re spending time, how things are changing, and what we’re hoping to accomplish in 2014.

Outside, today’s good ol’ Minnesota blizzard conditions are the perfect backdrop for reflection.

So, on this wintery day, I thought I’d share some of the milestones – some big and some not-so-big – that we’ve noticed this month.


Our first big change has been color.

We switched from brown to a taupe/gray called “Backdrop” (Sherwin Williams).

It was a little strange to go to a lighter color after the stronger browns I’ve had for so long.

Here’s the beginning of it on the stairs…

January Milestones New Paint on Stairs 6ftmama.com

And here is the front room tied in with the same color – Backdrop (in between coats). 

The nice thing about the front room is that I only add the color to the inside of the frames.

That way, it gives the illusion of color, without having to paint the entire two-story walls.

January Milestones New Paint Front Room 6ftmama.com

I’m not going to kid you – grays are tough. They can feel cold – and who needs that when it’s already subzero outside.

In general, I gravitate to warm worn colors – so this was a big change for me.

I’ll share some after-photos later this week. I’m used to it now – but it took a few weeks for me to get on board.

Pulverized Peppermint

After Christmas, I nearly threw our broken candy canes away – and then I remembered to chop them in the processor for hot chocolate/baking toppings.

This was a fun little task for the kids and it’s been nice to have for sprinkling on ice cream.

January Milestones Chopped Peppermint 6f

Enough Kids to Play Cards

Here’s something I thought I wouldn’t see for a few more years – John and PJ strategizing over a game of Spades.

During the Polar Vortex, we taught the kids to play cards. We played cards for hours.

I love playing cards – so I. am. in heaven.

I often tease the kids that I had four of them so that I would have enough people to play games with (I always thought one could sit out.) 🙂

january milestones card playing 6ftmama.com

Girls love Gophers

A miracle has slowly occurred in our house and it didn’t hit me until I saw this photo… Emma likes watching sports with us.

I don’t think she’d watch it on her own – but all of a sudden she’s interested in watching basketball. I like having her with us (instead of in her room) – to help cheer on the Gophers!

Here she is hoping we make our free throws…

January Milestones Emma Gophers 6ftmama.com

Fantastic Fajita Fix

Baking Fajita mixings was all over Pinterest in December. I was tickled to get these foil roasters on clearance at Coborns for just 25 cents each after Christmas.

To tame down the pre-flavored chicken (and add extra moisture), I add some chicken stock and creamed corn.  

This is about the easiest weekday meal and Phil loves a beer with fajitas after a long day at work. Almost makes me think of summertime – almost.

January Milestones Fajitas 6ftmama.com

A New Odyssey

As I mentioned in a previous post, we said goodbye to our Quest and bought a Honda Odyssey.

I really thought I was done with mini-vans – but I quickly realized it was the only viable option for our large and tall family.

The third row has 7 extra inches of room and Sonny can get in and out of the van easily.

I love my Odyssey.

And, Sonny likes being able to give me a little nuzzle over the center console.

January milestones honda odyssey 6ftmama.com

School Days

Over the past few years, I’ve noticed that January can be really challenging for the kids.

Some years I swore that the curriculum got crazy hard after Christmas break. Then I’d inevitably spend February trying to help the kids get back on track. 

But, this January has been different. 

They’re growing up.

John, at 8, is finally starting to buckle down and he’s getting things done on his own.

I’ve even had a few nights where I only had to sign planners.

January Milestones john homework 6ftmama.com

Raising Giants

Sometime after Thanksgiving, PJ must have grown again because as Jess was heading back to school, we noticed PJ had passed her up.

Here’s the photo we took just moments after realizing the big moment… 

January milestones 1 pj taller than jess 6ftmama.com

As always – Sonny gets in on all the action.

Here’s hoping you get a chance to stop and take note of all the milestones in your life.

Still growing...

Jennifer Ebeling
Jennifer Ebeling is a proud Minnesotan and U of MN alumni. Gooooooo Gophers! Each week, Jennifer produces and hosts Still Growing - a gardening podcast dedicated to helping you and your garden grow. The show is an in-depth interview format. Guests featured on the show share a passion for gardening and include authors, bloggers, professional gardeners, etc. Listeners and guests of the show can join the Still Growing community on Facebook. It's a place to ask questions, share garden stories, interact with great guests featured on the show, and continue to grow and learn. Jennifer and her husband Philip have four children, a big golden lab named Sonny, and live in lovely Maple Grove, Minnesota. P.S. When she's not teaching her four kids a new card game - or teaching them how to drive a car - Jennifer loves inspiring individuals and groups to maximize and personalize their home & garden.
Jennifer Ebeling
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  1. Kelly McKenzie on January 20, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    First off – love the colours. Both the bold and the new. So wonderful to freshen things up.
    I can’t thank you enough for the brilliant advice on the peppermint. For some reason we could only find bags of weensy candycanes here this past December. My daughter used handfuls for her peppermint bark but we are left with twice as many as she used. I was going to pitch them but I will crush ’em up as you did. Yes! Here’s to a minty, wonderful, repainted 2014!

  2. Linda Watson on January 20, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    Love that new color, although, have to admit, I love the old one too. I share your concern over your cars that “fit,” but for a completely different reason – I’m only 5′, can pull myself up to 5’1″ on a good day, but those days seem to happen less often as I get older. Oh, well.

  3. Ruth Packard on January 20, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    It is so nice to catch up on your family and home happenings!

    My poor family has to endure my creamy white color in almost every room. This Miami girl needs bright in our long, gray days of Washington weather. But I love seeing color in other homes!

    Would stay and chat…but I’m off to explore your site!

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