Monday, March 31, 2014

If you came over for drinks this week...

If you came over for drinks, you'd first notice when you walked in that we painted our playroom. We put bookshelves up, and we started adding little details to the room to be better organized and make more sense. I'd probably show you the two walls that need my attention the most and pitch you all my grand ideas. But in reality, we both know that it will most likely be a couple months before these projects come to real life. And then another two before I get around to sending you pictures.

We'd sit on the couch and I'd have my cup of hazelenut coffee and you'd have your choice of beverage. I'd have to warn you though, we only have water and coffee in our home. That our Bud light lime.

In the middle of our conversation, we would be distracted by the police sirens that indicate yet another person has been pulled over for running a stop sign. We'd talk about which one was fair and which one was not. And then it would remind me of the road rage video that everyone has probably seen by now. After watching it, I'd tell you that there are too many crazies out there, and they were both lucky that no one got hurt. But that's just the mom in me talking. 

Moving on to more serious topics, I'd want to talk to you first about the autism rate rising. By now, everyone has seen the new numbers released by the CDC and it's not something that one can simply ignore. I'd tell you that I don't believe there is one cause of autism and that similar to cancer, there can be many {thousands} of triggers out there. But to lump them into major categories, I would definitely suggest that the environment, toxins, and our diets play a major role in the rise in prevalence. Regardless, we would both agree that more research and more attention to this topic needs to be done right away.

And then I'd tell you that lately I've sat around and thought a lot about other children. Lonely children. Children without loving homes, warm homes, and empty bellies. I'd tell you that I cry for those children often and that I pray about those children. I'd tell you that although the topic of having another baby has come up in our home more often than ever before, what's truly in my heart is giving a child a home and a family that may not have one already. I'd tell you that it would have already happened if it were not for the financial aspect of adopting a child. That right now our goal is to pay off as many bills and that hopefully in a couple years be in place where this can be made possible.

I know I need to lighten up the conversation a little, so naturally, I'd do what I know best....

Show you pictures.

I'd show you this one that gives me goo goo ga ga eyes when I look at it.
Kid's feet in baby nikes is just too much.

And this one:
A baby watching snow fall {for the millionth time} at the end of March. A crime.

And lastly this one:
My obsession with teaching and making teaching fun and exciting for the kids.

I have so many ideas running through my head and it's crazy how much I love to find new things to teach the kiddos.

I'd ask you if you thought I was a nerd for looking forward to the day I get to teach the kids about the Presidents, and the different countries, and math.... MATH! I love algebra and could do math problems as a hobby.

At this point, you'd probably laugh at me and tell me that it's time for a drink. And that we need to go outside and get some fresh air.

After a lot of serious topics, and some cute pictures, it was more than time to go clear our heads.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Deals, Deals, Deals

Groopdealz has a lot of cute stuff this morning. The pillows below are by far my favorite deal find. I'll add the others here in a little bit after the kids go down for a nap!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Disney Pirate Fairy Teaches Our Children

This winter has been a long one. Long, is putting it lightly.  I have no doubt that if I could see each and every person that is reading right now and if I were to take a poll----I would guess that every one of you would raise your hand if I were to ask who was ready for warmer temperatures, to leave the house without five layers on, and to actually be able to get the kids out of the stir crazy inside that many of us have felt trapped in. If you live in Florida, you certainly do not count.

While you continue to dream about the beach and the beaming sun, let us talk about something that is very important, critical I should say, in surviving the treacherous indoors for 12 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Keeping busy.

Keeping busy and coming up with new ideas.
Put a sheet over your head and run around the house pretending you are a ghost.

Or make things out an egg carton.

That sort of busy.

Toys? You might as well forget it. You're going to have to put your thinking cap on and get to work.

Thankfully there are people like myself who have spent an awful amount of time indoors during the past 3 months and have stared at things like an egg carton and thought to myself:

"What in the world can I do with this."
Make a scavenger hunt. Make it fun. Make it a time for communication. Make it a learning experience. Oh man the ideas were just swimming in my head and I could barely keep up.

Although this project was ultimately for my youngest for the learning aspect, I definitely wanted to have my oldest involved as much as possible and therefore she was part of the painting, the decorating, and then the most fun part of all---finding all the different characters from Disney's The Pirate Fairy movie.

Never had I imagined the excitement that would come out of that little girl's mouth.

Andrew and I were giggling every time she found a new character and then she made us hide them over and over and over again. Eventually she hid them herself and then went to find them. Tricky girl.

But best part of all this? Is the fact that she enjoyed putting this project together and then doing it. As well as the joy of knowing that I can use this for later activities with Graham in learning his ABC's, his numbers, shapes, colors, sight words, and more. Just attach these little learning things to the fairies and you have yourself an endless list of opportunities to teach your little ones.

Here is what you need and what to do:

What you Need

1. Egg carton
2. Paint {or you can use markers}
3. Paintbrushes {or if you use markers}
4. Glue {or hot glue gun for quicker drying time---I'm a little inpatient, so I do the glue gun}
5. Stickers to decorate with numbers/ABC's/ shapes {Or you can draw them on with markers}
6. Craft Sticks
7. Tape
8. Scissors

What you Do

1. Paint your egg carton different colors for each egg.
2. Paint the outside white.
3. Decorate as you please---ABC's on the outside, and numbers on each "egg"
4. Print off your scavenger hunt figures
5. Print off the checklist for the child to have as a guide
6. Hide them in good places and most importantly, have fun!

So indoors, crazy weather, and the winter that never ends, guess what.... you have not conquered us. We are making fun every which way we can, and teaching our children at the same time!

If you'd like to print off this exact scavenger hunt, click on the link below, don't forget to keep your egg carton, and get to painting!

Your child will be thanking you.

That and it will give you a break from having to run around the house with a sheet over your that for next winter.

And because your kids will have even more fun with this if they know the characters, be sure to grab the all new movie The Pirate Fairy coming out April 1. Own it on Blu-ray and Digital HD. You can purchase here and visit the Facebook page to find out more.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

One Egg Carton that gives DOZENS of Learning Opportunities for all Ages

I could sit here and talk your head off about how so many ideas have been just swimming in my head with this project that I did with my oldest over the weekend, but instead, I will just show you.

No matter how old your child is, there are endless opportunities to make this fun as well as a learning opportunity. To engage with them, and to teach them right at home with a simple project such as an egg carton.

At the end you will find links to print out different scavenger hunts to have with kids based on what your child may be learning! For my youngest we will be working on the colors, ABC's, numbers and shapes. For my older one, we will do sight words, space fun, the United States, and more. Be sure to HAVE FUN!


1. One egg carton
2. Paint {or markers to color}, or Construction paper to tape throughout { a little more tricky }.
3. Scissors
4. Tape
5. 12 craft sticks
6. Stickers to decorate {or can color with markers}


1. Flip the egg carton and cut small slits at the top of each egg slot.
2. Paint the bottom outside section white {for stickers and decorating later}. You can also use white construction paper.
3. Paint each section a different color {or color with markers}.
4. Decorate with stickers as you'd like.
5. Label each egg section with a number 1-12.
6. Print your cards and scavenger hunt guide {links below}, cut out, and tape to craft sticks.
7. Hide and have fun!


1. Have a scavenger hunt. Print 12 cards per theme {animals, colors, shapes, etc}, and print a separate sheet for them to look at while they hunt for their items. Have them then find the items and if age appropriate they can look at the numbers and match which stick goes where. Mark off their items as they go and cheer them on!

2. After doing a scavenger hunt, you can continue using the sticks on later days to talk about what they mean and to match them to the sheet and the number that the item is coordinated with.

3. Use the outside of the carton to educate! Decorate it in a way that is pleasing to their eye and teaches them something that they may be learning {ABC's, numbers, etc}.  


1. Farm animals
2. Shapes
3. Colors
4. Zoo animals
5. ABCs
7. Transportation
8. Solar System
9. Sight Words 
10. Seasons/Weather
11. States 



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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What going to the doctor will teach you

I never would have thought that going for a routine physical would somehow equate into a blog post. These days, nothing should surprise me anymore though.

This will be jumbled in a way because the thought process is all over the place. This is not supposed to be a blog post with a beginning, middle, and end. It's just going to be your traditional blog post---the just because kind. The kind that I will most likely write in 10 minutes while the kids nap and then never read again---for years down the road or until someone points out that everything about this post is grammatically incorrect.

Where was I.


Ah yes, the girl that lectures  everyone about going to their physical every year has now missed her last two. To be fair though, I have seen a doctor plenty of times in the past couple years {during pregnancy and having Graham}, so I used that as my "physical."

But, I still stand behind the importance of seeing the family doctor at least once a year and getting your routine blood drawn.

So here we are. My husband, my children, and I. Yes, you are probably thinking why in the world we brought our children, but my other option would be to wait in the car with them while Andrew went and then to have him wait in the car while I went. That sounds absolutely long and unnecessary.

Plus, the secret to getting in {and out} quickly is having children with you. Everyone wants you to get on your way.

And it worked, we got in within 5 minutes, we got checked out, and all was good. Well, except when we saw the nurse.

In that room, G-man happened to knock down this corner bookshelf that held pamphlet---and by knock down, I mean kind of pull and I kind of happened to catch it in time but definitely did not catch the flying pamphlets and papers that went everywhere.

LESSON LEARNED NUMBER ONE. It didn't bother me one bit. Strange, what lesson was learned here then? Well, the fact that I didn't get embarrassed, I didn't get upset, and I was aware of the fact that these sort of things happen. Becky, mom of one, would have gotten red in the face from embarrassment. Now, obviously I apologized to the nurse and picked everything up and put it back gently, but I was okay with things not going as planned. That felt good I have to say.

Then we saw the doctor.

Let me first tell you about my doctor.

When I first met him 5 years ago, he was in his early 40's, healthy, happy, and full of life. So I thought. Last year, he had a cane, in which he informed my husband that he had MS. This year... he was in a wheelchair. The room was accommodated to his needs with a lowered patient table and things easily accessible to him. I had to be aware of the way to turn in order to make him assessing me easier, and I couldn't help but look past what was wrong, and see what was right.

He seemed happy, and still so full of life.

Here is a man who continues to do what he loves to do, come to work, and put a smile on my face. And say nice things about my children. And acknowledge them and tell them that mama had a princess in her ears and papa had monkeys in his. 

LESSON LEARNED NUMBER TWO. Appreciate life. Man, I would have never thought that going to a routine physical would open my eyes to something more. I see this on a daily basis where I work, but this reminder touched me in a different way. That no matter what we may be struggling with today, what our complaints may be, that there is always a more positive way at looking at things.

We finished the visit cracking a few more jokes with the doctor that told me my husband insists that I snore, we tackled two kids while trying to then get our blood drawn, and then we rushed out of there ready to eat our lives away.

I cheated though before my visit and snuck in a few bites of the kid's food. It's the nurse in me.We're really bad at following our own orders.


Do as you are told.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Lately... in a confessional type way

I confess, I dressed up to go on a mama daughter date. Wedges, cute green coat, chevron hat, accessories throughout, and new shirt. Any excuse to feel cleaned up, I'll take it. Even if it's not for the husband.

I confess, I don't tell my children that they are eating yogurt when they think they are eating "ice cream." Not that that would change their mind... have you seen the toppings at this orange leaf place? Might as well call it ice cream. 

I confess, I was all over the FREE 8X8 book from Shutterfly. It ends TUESDAY, enter code: storytime at checkout.

I confess, no one in this household is a Frozen fan. Actually there are only 2 members that have seen it, Elliana and my husband. They saw it in the theater when it came out, and were never thrilled about it when they came home. In fact, I never put it together until after the fact that my daughter's fear of snow and ice all started coincidentally after that movie. And when it came out and the whole entire world was raving about it, I asked her if she wanted to watch it again in which she replied "No mommy, I don't like that movie." Enough said.

I confess, I couldn't help but laugh when I read yet another one of those typical I hate the holiday hype posts on huffington post. ANOTHER ONE. Do we know how many there have been in the past couple of years? TOO MANY. When are people going to realize that 1. The "hype" isn't going away anytime soon. 2. Times change and there is nothing wrong with that--move along with the change and quit complaining about it. and most importantly 3. You don't have to do it if you don't want to, and it's a matter of what you make out of the holiday. It's really becoming an eye roller to see people continue to whine about what other families are doing with their children for the holidays.

I confess, those last two confessionals were entirely too long and I am sorry for that. Rants, I know, overkill.

I confess, I like the idea that my 14 month old feeds himself with a spoon and fork. It means that I can actually have a couple minutes {long minutes since he's slow at it} to wash dishes, or sit and relax. Unfortunately, it also means I have a big mess to clean up afterwards. But? Totally worth it.

I confess, I have had baby fever. Quite a bit. No worries, then I look at my two very needy {in a good way} children, and they fill that void very quickly. No babies here anytime soon.

I confess, American Idol is not doing it anymore. I expected to have a few favorites, and I cannot even pick one that I think should win this competition. Maybe it is time for this show to come to a final end.

I confess, I bought tight flowery bright neon pants from Target. I mean.... really, they are quite obnoxious. Good news is that they are yoga pants/sleep pants/pants you don't wear out in public. But I just needed some spring in my life.

I confess, I let the kids destroy my kitchen, walls, floor, and all with shaving cream "paint." It sounded like a great idea... until I had to be the one to clean it up. And them.

I confess, I am into a crafting phase. And I really really like it.

I confess....

I'm not a fan of Mondays and so far two Mondays in a row I have made it a confessional day. And? I have no reason besides being lazy for that.

Happy 4 more days to go. Until the weekend. 

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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Bobby Flay Acacia Bowls and Bread Dip Recipe

This post is sponsored by Kohl's. No monetary compensation was received, and all opinions are honest and my own. Two products were received for review and mentioned below.
Bowl is HUGE! The salad in there was "dinner" salad for TWO. Could probably serve 6 large dinner salads in that bowl.
Bobby Flay Acacia Salad Serving Bowl
Bobby Flay Acacia Bread Bowl
Holds a standard baguette {not cut to show the length}

Growing up, I was around a lot of dinner parties that my parents threw quite frequently with some of our family and friends. My mom would start cooking two days prior and she had more than 20 dishes made out with not only the finest taste, but exquisite presentation. We would sit at the table for 4-6 hours eating, enjoying ourselves, and talking. Well, as a teenager, I didn't do a whole lot of talking. I did eat though. That I was good at. But looking back, I never appreciated the value of sitting down with the people you love most and enjoying yourself over a long gourmet meal.

I got another taste of this tradition when I went to France with two of my best friends our senior year of high school to visit a foreign exchange student that had gone to school with us. There, it was common to eat dinner for 2-3 hours and to go through many {5-6} courses throughout the meal. They really took pride in the food that they made, and somehow it always, never fails, tasted better because of the conversations that we had and the company that we were with.

And again, presentation.

After graduating college, becoming a wife, and soon after becoming a mother, I realized that I too wanted to learn how to set a beautiful colorful table, and to please people through their bellies. Although I am nowhere close, I have definitely been making baby steps and learning a lot from those that are much wiser than I am---for instance my mother and mother-in-law. Little tricks and ideas here and there, and of course pinterest has helped along the way.

I also had the opportunity to add two beautiful pieces by Bobby Flay { Bobby Flay Acacia Salad Serving Bowl and Bobby Flay Acacia Bread Bowl  } to my dinner collection. Well, to my collection in general. The salad serving bowl is perfect for making large salads and could serve 6 large salads nicely. The bread bowl fits a standard size baguette and the length is the best feature which takes away the idea of having to pass the bread basket around for people to get their slice. It reaches everyone. Quality is definitely not lacking, and I see it being in my home for 20+ years down the road. Lastly, the pictures speak for themselves, but the rich acacia wood is just beautiful to look at and really adds that higher quality to the presentation.

Presentation, taste, and good company is key.

So is finding new delicious recipes, and I have a really good one for you. An oil to dip your bread in that will leave all your guests wanting to take some home with them.

Original recipe from


1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sun-dried tomato paste
1/8 teaspoon dried basil
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/8 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1 pinch salt (optional)


1 Pour olive oil in a bowl and add sun dried tomato paste.
2 Pour basil, thyme, and rosemary into the palm of your hand and then crush the spices by rolling them in between your thumb and pointer finger. Add to the oil mixture.
3 Add the garlic and pepper (and salt if you are using it).
4 Using a fork, stir/mix the spices into the oil.
5 Allow to sit at room temp for about 4 hours for the flavors to start to blend if you have time. Otherwise, go ahead and serve it right away.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Our Favorite Toddler Books

As I was reading books to Graham the other day, and Elliana sat doing some of her ABC tracing at the table beside us, I couldn't help but remember how these books have been around since Elliana was little, how I read {and still read} these same books to her, and how they have helped be a major part of our children's learning.

I've always believed in the power of books, and I am so happy that my kids love books just as much as I do. It's a part of our every day and we read around 10 books during the day and at least 5 at night.  So I decided to show a list of our favorite books {out of hundreds} and those that both kids have enjoyed and those that I find to be most stimulating for their little brains.

I will list them from shortest to longest. The longer ones are obviously more ideal for the older toddler {starting at 2}, but the shorter ones are ideal for both the little ones {12 months+} as well as the older ones. Elliana still enjoys all of the books that we read to Graham, and usually chimes in from memorization.

All of these books are $10 or under, and most of them are on sale for $4-6. 

1. Moo Baa La La La

2. First 100 Words

3. A Cuddle For Little Duck

4. Polar Bear, Polar Bear What Do You Hear? sound book

5. Ten Tiny Tickles (Classic Board Books)

6. Little Blue Truck Board Book

7.  Little Blue Truck Leads the Way board book

8.  Goodnight Moon

9. F is for Farm (Touch and Feel (Priddy Books))

10. I Love You Through And Through

11. How Do I Love You?

12. You Are My I Love You: board book

13.  Z is for Zoo (Touch and Feel (Priddy Books))

14. The Very Hungry Caterpillar

15.  Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site

16. LeapFrog LeapReader Learn to Read, Volume 1 (works with Tag)

17. One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish (I Can Read It All by Myself)

18. The Cat in the Hat (Beginner Books(R))

19.  Green Eggs and Ham

20. Put Me in the Zoo (I can read it all by myself' Beginner Books)

21. Go, Dog. Go! (I Can Read It All By Myself Beginner Books)

We are always looking to add to our collection, so if you have some classic ultimate favorite books to read to your little ones, feel free to share in the comments below!

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