Tuesday, June 30, 2015

I might just have to have a 4th.

I'm going to have to get pregnant a 4th time. Simply because of the burst of energy that this second trimester has brought me and how happy this had made my house. What does this mean? All I ever want to do is clean clean clean and organize organize organize. And once I get an idea in my head, then there is no way around it. My poor husband has a mile long honey do list as well of things that I want done around the house from re-painting the kitchen cabinets to painting trim, crown molding, fixing deck, and so forth. I am just about through organizing every closet and drawer in my entire house. I have a million and one ideas and projects running throug my head that sometimes I forget there are absolutely not enough hours in the day, and also I shouldn't be working quite as hard. But seriously, I'm loving stepping foot in a cleaner more organized home.

Two weddings to shoot. In July. Back to back weekends. I am so excited/nervous all at the same time, and so thrilled about the opportunity in gaining more experience in this photography outlet of mine.

Speaking of organized, part of the reason that I have been able to get so organized is because I have gone through and donated half of the stuff that used to exist in our closets and drawers. For anyone looking to donate their stuff, please please check out your local churches, as well as the wheeler mission where you can drop off your goods at a little barn area they have located in various locations. I stopped donating to Goodwill many many years ago because the thought of someone making a profit off of stuff that I just want someone to have for free bothered me greatly. This way, whether it's used or not, at least I know that no one has to fork out any money for it.

Potty training question/ advice needed. G man has been #1 trained for about 4 months now with no problem and that includes no bed wetting at night, but we cannot for the life of us get him to go #2 in the toilet. He has has maybe 4 successful trips and I think even those were more accidental than anything else. We never had this problem with our first {it only took a couple weeks to figure out #2}, so this is a whole new ballpark for us. Update, I think we are going on the uphill. A little bribery for new Thomas trains seems to have done the trick. We shall see...

Sleeping album.
I decided that I'm going to put an album together of the kids sleeping since I have so many pictures of them in the funniest positions. I am seriously obsessed with making photo albums.

Kings Island is amazing. We went for a day trip and spent 9 hours at the park, and it seriously exceeded our expectations for the kids. Now, the two of us had been to this park a handful of times each when we were young, but of course only hung out in the roller coaster area, so we had no idea what to expect out of the kid section. Andrew actually was worried about not having enough to do for the little ones,and let me just say that is far from the case. We could have spent 2 days at the park and no one would have been bored. We will definitely be going back next year.

Little Passports.
I signed E up for this monthly geography box where they send you an initial "welcome suitcase" with a passport, a large map, and some fun goodies, and then every month after that they send you a new country to learn about. We received our first country and I am just in love with this concept. She got a little postcard with a rare animal on it {and info about it} from Brazil, a stamp to put in her passport, a souvenir from that country {an Amethyst rock}, and some crosswords to work on. Here is the thing, I am so glad we signed up just because she is obsessed with her suitcase and passport, and it also gave me some insight on how I want to approach geography in the homeschooling department, but I definitely don't think they send enough for the money that you are spending, so I probably will just be doing my own thing and deliving a new country every couple weeks, making my own stamps, having her color the flag for each country, and making a little info paper on each one that we can start putting in a binder.

Sadness= the news that Jennifer and Ben are getting a divorce. I really thought that couple was going to make it. Sad to think about the family breaking apart.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Up to 50% off Melissa & Doug Learning + FREE SHIPPING

I just couldn't pass up this deal of up to 50% off Melissa & Doug on Zulily {sign up is FREE}, because seriously FREE SHIPPING gets me every time. Especially since a lot of these items will be added to our learning set at home. My favorite hands down is the calendar and daily chore chart. Magnetic, fun, and colorful for the kids. There are an assortment of puzzles and other learning activities for the little ones!



Thursday, June 25, 2015

Favorite Summer Toddler Toys to keep them BUSY BUSY BUSY!

One of the common themes among moms that I keep hearing about is that come summertime kids start complaining about being bored. While mine are still too little to get "bored," I am bound and determined to make sure that they have the ability to entertain themselves and discover the world around them through their creative minds. I love the idea of summer vacations, camps, vacation bible studies, amusement park trips, pool dates, mornings spent at the splash pad, and anything else that falls in those categories of being out and about and enjoying the sunshine, I also understand that there is no possible way to plan an activity for the kids every day of summer. And to be honest with you, I am a total homebody at heart and love just lounging and developing memories at home. But while I think the creative mind is the most important thing that a child possesses, I also think it's important to help stimulate their pretend play and give them access to things {toys, products, whatever you want to call it} that will help keep them busy and entertained. Let's be honest here, it helps a mama get a load of laundry and dishes washed in the meantime. And if she's really lucky, a really delicious dinner cooked.

So I have compiled a list of favorite "toys" and products that we own that really bring out the creativity in our children in between all the summer activities that have bombarded our calendars.

1. Play kitchen We gifted this to E when she was 2 and it has been a fan favorite among the two. The amount of things that they "cook" and the meals that they "prepare" for us is just so interesting. They always bring us a platter or bowl of goodies and say "eat this." And we do. Without question. And they tell us how good our manners are, and how nice it is that we try a little bit of everything. It's funny because you can see yourself in them when they are talking while they play and how they interact when it comes to meal time.

2. Lalaloopsy Baking Oven . I love spending time in the kitchen with my kids. I try to let them help cook any opportunity that I can get, and it's amazing how much they pick up and "understand" when it comes to the art of cooking. While I enjoy them in the kitchen, there are certainly moments where having them help is not exactly ideal. So this is where I am able to whip out the oven, put it in the kitchen next to me, and let them mimic and have at it. We have only had this toy for a brief amount of time, but it's beyond what I expected it to be. Now, when I am actually done cooking dinner and I am able to supervise, then the kids can get to work to making dessert. Guys, it actually bakes cookies! Real dessert. It comes fully assembled and all you have to do is plug it in. It comes with: 1 Strawberry cake mix, 1 Sugar cookie mix, 1 pink frosting mix, and 1 pack of heart confetti sprinkles! Not to mention the assortment of fun utensils to use.

This is also a great learning opportunity for our kids. We talk about time, measurements, and the process of baking. You can see through their eyes their little brains working away from all the powerful information they are taking it.

3. Blow up pool and fishing toys. Even just cups and spoons will do. Seriously, when a pregnant mama has two toddlers at home, and all they want to do is go outside but you just can't get the energy to go anywhere, then this is the next best thing. And the best part is that there is no deep end or crazy running, or even "adult swim." I get to sit in my chair next to them, and just enjoy the giggles and sunshine. Little pool toys that we love: water rings, buckets, spoons/measuring cups, fishes and nets to "fish," water guns, etc.

4. Little Tikes Cozy Coupe Sandbox When I think of sand, I think of sand castles, and building, and creating, and my imagination runs wild thinking of all the things that a little one can create. It's a great sensory activity, and it really can keep little ones occupied for long periods of time. We have an assortment of shovels and buckets and molds that our "castles" always turn out quite interesting. This sand box can hold up to 350 pounds of sand, and it comes with some fun stickers for the kids to decorate. There are also two built in seats and cup holders so the kids can get cozy AND feel refreshed at the same time. My favorite part, of course, would be the lid because I can simply cover up the mess and not have to think about it until another time. That and it keeps all the neighborhood cats away. It's also very secure and you don't have to worry about the wind taking it away on a stormy day or night. And to be honest with you, you don't even have to spend a ton of money on sand toys, or any at all. Just using random size plastic cups, spoons, and stuff around the house is even more exciting than buying something from the store.

5. Little Tikes Push & Ride Racer Hands down, a must if you have some wood floors, tile, or anything else that a kid can ride on inside the house. These kids of mine have races every day, and although their little legs are NOT so little anymore and barely fit, they somehow still make it work. We bought our first little car when Elli was 1 year old, and it's last us this long. I am certain we will have a third car ride lover when she comes of age too. I cannot even imagine what that will look like with 3 in the house going full speed around my legs. Bruised legs.

6.Water balloons, bubbles, and kites. We have frequent water balloon fights and that activity next gets old! They also have biodegradable ones, so there is a bonus there. Not going to lie, my fingers often hurt after blowing up so many. And bubbles and kites, because common... how can one not be outside and experience those things!

7. Slip n slide I mean do I even need to explain this one? It was our first year trying one out with the kids {thanks to the sister of mine}, and it's seriously addicting. I'm looking forward to doing my own moves next year when I'm not pregnant.

8. Matchbox cars + Track.  I can honestly say that this is not just for boys. My daughter will play for hours with these cars and so will my son, and it's some of the best play that I have seen. Any cars will do, and any track will do {you can even make your own with duct tape around the house and a permanent marker} and all you will hear is vroom vroom, zoom, and "watch out car!" It's the best.

9. Grow'n Up Heracles Seesaw, Multi Not just an ordinary see-saw, but the most amazing thing ever gifted to us by my in-laws. Can be used indoors or out {we used a lot indoors during the cold winter months}, and even allows the kids to spin around. Seriously the sturdiest thing I would have ever hoped for, and by far the best laughter from my two.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Father's Day to our favorite DAD

Father's day here, and all I keep thinking about is how lucky my children and I are. I don't say it enough, I don't give the proper praise, and I definitely don't scream it out loud to the world, but once in a while it's important to acknowledge that we have ourselves a really special guy. Not because he's perfect or that he stays calm in every situation out there or that he knows all the right things to say and do at all the right times, but because he has such a big heart for his family. It's hard to describe who Andrew is as a father, but I just know that he is one that wants to be his very best for his children and for that I am ever so thankful. It's that desire in the heart and the passion to want to fight for them, for us, as a family.
And so, I thought about what I wanted to write this Father's day to him. What I wanted to say, or how I wanted to say it. I know there won't be enough words, and I won't say it the way I feel it, but I know that Andrew and our children will understand. I hope that they grow up seeing the heart of this man that I know so well.
So kids, let me tell you about your dad.
He loved you before mama ever did. I know that may sound odd, but it's the truth. I formed bonds with you kids as you grew {very quickly, rest assured}. I knew I loved you, but I wasn't in love with you the way that I am now---the way that I was 1 month in. The way he was right away. The way he looked at you only reminded me of one other time that I had ever seen Andrew look at someone that way, and that was with me. Nothing could ever describe how I felt in those moments when you babies were born and your papa fell in love with you. He waited so long to touch you, to see what you looked like, and to whisper I love you, and in those moments they were just as tender and intimate as I had ever imagined.
He wants nothing but the best for you kids--Life, health, happiness. Elli, he worried about your little cone-head as soon as you came out, and Graham he couldn't stop checking on you and comforting you the minute we found out you broke your shoulder blade coming out. And he has continued to be the little worrier of the family--Are they okay, is that scab healing okay, how are they feeling,  is that temperature worrisome, checking on you babies at all hours of the day when at work, and constantly thinking of you when he is at home. He hates to see you in pain or suffering, and so when the slightest thing goes awry, he is on it to comfort you.
He does all the mama stuff that
He gets on the ground and plays with you. When it comes between mama and papa, you kids will pick papa over mama any day to play on the ground---whether it be cars, puzzles, or blocks. Papa just has so much more enthusiasm and excitement in being a "big kid" and mama sticks to the stories and cuddles. He enjoys all the time that we spend with you kids. He actually enjoys all the festivals, family traditions, beach trips, vacations, and park dates that we take you guys on and wants to be so much a part of your childhood. I have always told him that life isn't about being drowned in work and making money, but if there is a way to find that happy balance and be able to not miss out on your kids' lives, then that's where I want us to be. I am so thankful that he feels the very same way.

Elli, you will forever be his baby girl and he will do anything for you because I am certain that you will always be loved the ultimate most {don't tell the others that}. Graham, you will forever be his little guy, the brother he never had, and his best friend growing up. And baby P, you may not be here, but I am also certain that being the "baby" in the family that you are going to have a very very special place in your papa's heart.
Nothing, and I mean nothing, means more to me in this world than knowing that your papa loves you guys so deeply.
Happy Father's Day my love. So happy God chose you to be my baby daddy.


Thursday, June 11, 2015

We all know how to raise a child, but do we know how to raise an adult?

I received a free copy of How To Raise An Adult, and all opinions stated are that of my own.

Do you remember being pregnant--all the reading you did, all the research, all the preparation, and your overall thinking that you are going to have a good handle on this parenting gig. Maybe you are currently pregnant-- reading article after article, book after book, one method versus another, and have already formed an idea of where you will fall in parenthood. Or should I say, land.

Perhaps you're not a parent at all, and maybe not planning on being one, but you know exactly the kind of parent out there that you like or dislike. You see them around you, you run into them at the grocery store, and you have formed opinions about this parent or that parent based upon observation. We know what's wrong with this world, and we know what these parents should be doing. At least we know what we would do if we were them.

But do we?

No matter where we are in the circle of parenting, we all seem to have an opinion on it. I know I was one of those people. One of those first time pregnant/first time moms that just knew I was going to do it all right. I wasn't going to mess up. I was going to do all things by the book. My children would never throw a fit in the middle aisle of the grocery store. They would learn how to sit still, respect me at all times, and be nothing but a joy every day of their life. I would never raise my voice. I would never look at my cell phone. I would utilize all the tools available to me to succeed. And by golly, I was going to tell you my success story every step of the way.

And I was wrong. I didn't know it all. I don't know it all. And I don't have it all right.

Some of us are scared. Some are confident. Some have been doing this for a long time. Some just a few months. Regardless, we are all mothers and fathers who just want to do what is best for our children. And no matter what we think we know, or how much we think we have learned, there is always a new idea or way of looking at something. I know for me, knowledge is power. Although I hate reading articles on parenting that are one sided or overly opinionated, I do love to read a good book that passes on useful information to being a better parent. Because at the end of the day, we all have room to grow.

That is why I was excited to start reading How to Raise an Adult, by Julie Lythcott-Haims. The title alone grasped my attention as I was curious where the author was heading with it. Typically we want to know how to raise a child, but she asks the deeper and more important question and that is, how do we raise an adult? A self-sufficient, independent, confident adult. But this journey doesn't begin in adulthood, it begins now. From the moment your child was even thought of, conceived, and loved, we, as parents, have to start thinking about how our actions and decisions will impact their future. Often times we are concerned about the now and pleasing them in that present moment in time, but we seldom think about how those decisions could hinder them as an adult.

The author reeled me in right then and there.  "Humans need some degree of weathering in order to survive the larger challenges life will throw our way. Without experiencing the rougher spots of life, our kids become exquisite, like orchids, yet are incapable, sometimes terribly incapable, of thriving in the real world on their own. Why did parenting change from preparing our kids for life to protecting them from life, which means they are not prepared to live life on their own."

Isn't it true though? Are we not so focused on making sure that every cabinet is locked, every sharp corner is covered, every knee and elbow and head is safe, and that our eyes and ears are always on the lookout everywhere we go, that sometimes we forget the bigger picture. A picture we seem to push in the back of our minds, but one that is oh so very important. That we won't be able to protect our children from all the physical and emotional harm of the world. That one day {a day way sooner than we expect} our children will have to go out on their own and make decisions on their own. They will have to navigate through life, and they will have to know how to do so by themselves. We think by preventing pain or fear that somehow we are helping our children. But are we not as a result doing harm?

Julie dives deep into this major shift in parenting--where parents are more involved than ever before, and where children are most effected by this change in their future as adults. The author went on to share a true story of an adult male, named Tyler in the book, who was a very prominent lawyer that graduated from Harvard and Stanford and grew up in a family with two very involved parents that seldom let him veer off the road that they had drawn out for him. Although he grew up to be successful, he was anything but that deep down inside. Something great that he said to the author: "You feel you have security that you should be grateful for. Someone is literally laying out the path for you. You think it's a good thing. You think you're lucky. But then you see people who are truly independent, truly passionate about what they do, and you realize you don't know yourself at all."


Here is an example of a person that looks successful on the outside and has it all together, but yet he is the complete opposite of that on the inside. And when I read his story, and heard the pain through his message, I immediately thought about what I would want more for my children. Do I want them to be successful in their careers, or do I want them to feel secure and happiness in what they do? Without hesitation, I would choose happiness right away. I think most parents would say the same thing. The question is whether they, we, understand what happiness means to our children and what are we doing that hinders that happiness.

Reading through this book has made me think deeper about our own parenting style and how there are areas where we can make changes. Andrew and I have talked extensively about our children's futures, and How to Raise an Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims, will most definitely play into those conversations as we move forward in life. While we want to protect our children while they are little, we also don't want to shelter them from the reality of the world. That is why it is important for our children to make decisions on their own. To be there, as parents to answer questions, offer support, and share our own personal experiences, but not to actually do it for them. Not to think for them. Not to act for them. Not to make major life decisions for them. There is a lot to be said about freedom, and you grow tremendously as a person when you know that freedom is yours.

If you haven't gotten a chance to read this book yet, I highly recommend it. Read it, gift it, and bookmark it for the future. Lots of knowledge and a great takeaway message for parents and guardians of all types.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Nutri Ninja Auto-IQ blender : Get the quality you've been waiting for with some super tasty smoothies too.

 This is sponsored post where I was given a product to test in exchange for my honest opinion. All things stated are that of my own thoughts and experiences.

You know what I discovered early on in motherhood— smoothies. The homemade kind. You know what I never knew could taste so good— vegetable smoothies. You know what I'm amazed by— the fact that I can get my servings of vegetables and fruit into my family by simply blending a few ingredients in my Nutri Ninja and drinking it straight out of a cup. Or straw. Or freeze it into a popsicle. I can even make soup! Soup!

And you know what is even more awesome than the taste—my children drink them too. After all, this was the reason behind my most recent Google search term: force vegetables down my child's throat any way possible.

Okay, maybe that wasn't my search term. But "vegetable fruit smoothie," and "help a mama out" was. Smoothies has been the craze over social media and motherhood it seems. And although it's something that I had been playing around for years, I could never actually find the love and passion for it the way that I had hoped. There's a reason for that. It was all about the blender, and at that time, I wasn't using the right one. And now, ever since the Nutri Ninja graced us with its presence, I've taken making smoothies to a whole new level.

Features and Design

Auto-IQ technology. I wasn't sure what to think about this when I first read about the feature, but I quickly learned that it was probably my most favorite part of the blender altogether. Actually, to be honest, I thought the blender was initially broken when I first turned it on and pressed start because it kept stopping and starting back up. When in truth, it was just smarter than its owner. Me.

Efficient. One thing that really irritated me with my old blender is that the ice and other ingredients like skin of apples, celery, etc, would take forever to be completed crushed and blended through. That problem is eliminated with the Nutri Ninja.

Extract Hidden Nutrition. When it comes to making smoothies, the main reason for it is for the nutrition so of course I wanted a blender that would provide me with the ultimate amount from my fruits and vegetables.

Suctions to the counter. Why doesn't every company think of these brilliant features? No more messes created from knocking over your blender or filling it too much that it knocks over on its own. The suction cups on the bottom have a nice strong seal on my counter that I literally have to put some muscle into pulling it off once I am ready to clean and put it away. Plus, I have my own personal ninja living in my home that likes to walk by and throw things down or throw cars at various locations in the house. Essentially a disaster waiting to happen.


Right now, you can buy the Nutri-Ninja Nutrient & Vitamin Extractor & The Total Crushing Blender for $199+ free shipping and handling. That's a savings of $185 for a blender that just can't be beat. It's one of those items in your home that is worth spending the extra money to get the quality that one is looking for. Otherwise, you'll wind up like I did where I just gave up on my blender and let dust build up on it for years.

My Favorite Recipe

Nutri-Ninja also has a variety of recipes to try. I found one using ingredients I would have never thought to put together called the Antioxidant Refresher, and it is as tasty as it looks friends.



1/8 cup chopped red cabbage
1/2 celery stalk, cut in half
1/2 green apple, unpeeled, halved
1/2 cup blueberries
1/3 cup watermelon, 1-inch chunks
1/2 cup ice


Container: Regular 24-ounce Cup

  1. Place all of the ingredients into the Regular 24-ounce Nutri Ninja® Cup in the order listed, starting with red cabbage.
  2. Turn unit ON and select "Nutri Ninja® Auto-iQTM ULTRA BLEND".
- See more at: http://www.ninjakitchen.com/recipes/search/0/all/100413/antioxidant-refresher#sthash.TLj2kfJn.dpuf
Moral of the Story

After experiencing a cheap blender for years, and then now the Nutri Ninja for the past month, I can confidentially say friends that spending the extra money on quality will give you a better result and success in the end. And you'll be a much happier person knowing that you are getting all the fruits and vegetables you need. And if you have kids, then your kids will secretly love you too. For them, it's a treat.

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