Friday, May 29, 2015

Consistent Date Nights

My husband and I have not always been great about having a consistent date night. It can be really hard depending on what season of life you are in. However, I am starting to see more and more just how important it is to be consistent with it, no matter what season or place in life you are at! 
"Consistent" is going to look different for everyone. Maybe you have a standing date with your babysitter every Wednesday night. Possibly you do every other week or a few times a month, or maybe the last Friday of the month is your night. Pick what feels comfortable to you and schedule it in! For us, it is every other Thursday. My in-laws take the girls and we have date night. Sometimes we go out to dinner or to a movie, other times we just go on a long walk and get uninterrupted talk time which everyone with toddlers knows is priceless (!), and sometimes we do stuff around the house together, like yard work or hanging doors--you know, fun stuff like that ;) It's not always glamorous, but for us, it's the time spent together that is important. 
When we had babies, we didn't get out for dates nearly as frequently. I was nursing, pregnant, or both for about 3 1/2 years straight and it just felt like too much work to get out for a date when I had to work around a baby who wouldn't take a bottle for anything, extreme pregnancy nausea, and all of that. Looking back now, I wish we would have made the time for each other. The baby would have been fine without nursing for the 3 hours that we were gone. The fresh air might have made me feel a little better, or at least I could have indulged some dessert cravings. It would have been really good for us in that crazy season of life, and in the future, we definitely plan to make it a priority as we add more little ones and keep our standing twice monthly date nights. 
While family dates or dates in the home after the kids go to bed can be really great, and they are amazing options, I do really think it is important to get some time together without the kids to nurture your marriage. The most important earthly relationship you have! Some practical ways to do this would be: 
  • decide how often you want to set a consistent date night. Maybe you want to shoot for once a month and if you get some bonus, unplanned dates in there, then great! 
  • find someone who can babysit consistently. You can definitely do it with multiple people, but if you are hesitant about leaving the kids, having one person who knows them and their routine well helps a lot! 
  • put it on the calendar and don't break the "appointment". Even if you are tired. Even if you had a rough week. Even if your sitter cancels (find someone else!). Hopefully the date will refresh both of you, and it doesn't have to take a long time. Go out for an hour and a half and then come back refreshed and ready for the week ahead! 
Do you get a consistent date night with your spouse? Why or why not? 
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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

DIY Children's Reading Corner

I have always loved little reading corners and nooks. I always made sure that I had them in my classrooms when I was teaching. Who doesn't want to curl up with a good book?! 
In our old playroom, we had this perfect little spot where the roof of the house slanted down. Before we re-did the room, it was filled with built in shelves, but we took them out, put a covered crib mattress and tons of pillows in and made it into a reading nook and I loved it so much! 
In this house, I knew I wanted to do a reading corner in our playroom because my girls had loved the nook so much. This unintentionally became an Ikea reading corner along the way as we collected things! We didn't mean to but we had just randomly picked things up there over the years that worked! 
So here it is! Our bright and cozy children's reading corner! 
I had seen this on Pinterest which inspired me to do the curtains in the corner.
 But let me tell you--it is a Pinterest FAIL! A curved shower rod WILL NOT WORK in a corner! It needs to go against parallel walls because of the way it is curved. I have no idea what they did in this room to make it work. My handy hubby said he could craft something up as we returned the shower rod to the store, so we picked up some PVC pipe and a hook. At home, we cut and spray painted the PVC pipe, and my husband cut 2 blocks out of a 2x4 to hang them on. He used a hole saw to make holes the size of the pipe in the blocks, then drilled the blocks into the wall, and put the pipe in either side. Now it looked perfect, but once we hung the curtains, it drooped a bit, so he got the hook, and hung it upside down from the ceiling and that helps hold up the center of the pipe! It was really quick and easy and it hasn't even budged since last summer or fall when we made it! 

I love this little area because if you let the curtains hang it can be a private little area, or even could be used for plays or puppet shows in a few years! 

The book shelves are the famous Ikea spice racks spray painted. I just used whatever colors I had on hand, spray painted all the parts, let them dry and then put them together and my husband hung them. $16 for 4 of them beats the price on any book shelf I have seen, and way cuter! 

Pillows are just a mish mash of ones I had at the old house that we had collected for the playroom over the year, and covers I made. 

The curtains are Ikea Murgrona panels. I had picked them up intending to use them for the playroom closet and loved how bright and colorful they were...not to mention affordable! 

It's the perfect cozy spot to curl up with a book! 

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

God In A Box

I am guilty of putting God into a box.
My mind and comprehension limits what He is capable of.
I know I am not the only one. So many of us (possibly all of us?) are guilty of this very thing.
We can't fathom certain things. We don't want to set ourselves up for disappointment. We don't have big enough faith. So we put Him in a box in our limited understanding of who He is and what He can do (spoiler alert: anything).
I want to stop. I want to trust more, obey more and believe more. Jesus rose from the dead, people. If that isn't the impossible becoming possible, then I really don't know what is.
Read more @ Project: On Purpose
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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Summer Water Table Activities

I am really excited to be sharing this post today as a part of Keri's new eBook launch! Be sure to check out the other awesome summer activity posts at the end of this post! 

We love our water table! It is great for if you don't want to fill up an entire pool (although sometimes my kids climb in the water table as if its a pool...), or when it isn't quite warm enough to run through those sprinklers. It is a lot more portable and so versatile! The best thing is that you don't need to have an actual water table. You can really do these activities with any kind of bucket or basin! When the girls were little, I would just find the biggest mixing bowl I had and fill it up with water for them to splash in and they had a blast with it. 
This spring and summer, I know we will spend a lot of time with the water table. We do every year, and we actually already have spent quite a few days playing in it the last month or two. Here are some of our favorite things to do with the water table: 

  • Squirt in some dish soap and fill it up for lots of bubbles and soapy water!
  • Car/toy wash! This works especially well when its soapy. Kids think it is hilarious to wash their cars and trucks and trains and balls and whatever plastic toys you want them to wash. Cheap entertainment, folks! 
  • Put food coloring in the water and watch it change. Experiment with how many drops it takes to get the color you want or mixing 2 colors together to make a new one. 
  • Fill up your water table with sand and make a temporary sand box. Get the kiddos some scoops and cups and rakes to dig and create. Hide toy bugs or dinosaurs or anything else for them to find as they dig! 
  • Make your water table into a seasonal sensory box. In the summer, put different varieties of flowers in the table, or make an under the sea sensory bin in the table--put sand on the upper portion and fill the rest with shells, sea weed, plastic sea animals, etc. 
  • Let them make a garden in it! Put down potting soil and let them plant flowers or vegetables and tend to it. Real or fake! 

One of my favorite things about the water table is that it touches so many areas of kiddos development. 
Fine Motor: scooping, pouring, making shapes in sand, etc.
Gross Motor: handling the hose and aiming it, climbing in or out of the table with supervision, helping dump the table out when you are done and more. 
Sensory: the water table touches all of the senses. Engage them and talk about how the water feels (wet, cold, warm, etc.). What does it sound like when you splash it? What about the water from the hose? How does the water smell? Does it smell different when it has bubbles than without bubbles? What does it look like? What color is the table? What color is the water? Is there anything in it? Maybe no tasting unless it is very clean water ;) 
Social and emotional: If your child has a sibling or playmate, the water table is a great place to talk about taking turns. It is a great learning opportunity for learning how to play kindly. Teaching them that maybe the other person doesn't want to be splashed. Things like that. 
Numbers, letters, colors, shapes, etc.: You can incorporate all of these things into water play depending on the age of your child. Talk about what letters you see on the side, or what letter a certain toy in the table starts with. Ask them to count and see how long it takes to fill up the table, or to dump it out. Have them count how many things are in the table. Talk about the shapes of the items or the shapes of the table. Don't drill them, just let it flow naturally! 
Do you have a water table? What else do you do with it? 
Be sure to check out these other awesome summer ideas! 

And don't forget to check out Keri's e-book featuring great ideas for a thriving summer with your kids!

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Day In The Life

I love doing Day in the Life posts and try to do them about once or twice a year just so that I can look back and see what we were up to at each stage of my kids lives. Things change so quickly and it is easy to forget! I did them pretty regularly on my old blog and love looking back and seeing what our days were like and how they have changed in just a few years! The last time I did one was in December, and you can read it here if you'd like. 
Monday, May 18, 2015
8:00: I wake up on my own (almost never happens) and realize that my husband is also still in bed and kids aren't awake yet. Close my eyes and fall back asleep. 
Around 8:30 (I think): one kiddo wakes up and the other is still sleeping. She has breakfast and watches a show on the computer while daddy and I slowwwwly wake up. Mondays are hard.
9:00: Finally up and at 'em. Girls are still finishing up breakfast (they eat slow in the mornings) at the table.
9:20: I get myself breakfast (4 eggs, with salt & pepper--keeping it simple today) and eat. 
9:35: Wrap things up in the kitchen and go have the girls start getting ready. We pick out their clothes and they get dressed, then we finish up in the bathroom with brushing teeth, fixing their hair, etc. The girls go out to play in the living room while I get ready to go. I just quickly throw in a braid, a little bit of makeup and am good to go. 
9:55ish: Get some packages ready to be mailed for family birthdays coming up!
10:05: We finally have shoes on and are out the door to run errands. We head to the FedEx store to package and mail gifts, to the bank and then to Aldi for groceries. 
11:55: We get home and start unloading groceries. I have the best little helpers who do the fridge while I do the pantry! 

12:05: Groceries are put away and I start getting lunch fixed for the girls. 
12:15: I get the girls at the table and eating, throw my lunch together quickly and eat with them. I'm having a little southwestern "salad" of black beans, corn, left over rotisserie chicken, avocado and salsa and a handful of grapes on the side. 
12:30: I'm done with lunch and start working on the tornado that hit my kitchen this weekend while the girls finish up and eventually head to the living room to play. We were busy a lot of this weekend and normally dishes are not something I let myself get behind on because a full sink and dishes on the counter but that's what happened and I am paying for it now! The girls are pretending to be a pizza lady and mail lady and keep bringing me "pizza" and "mail" while I'm cleaning up. 
12:55: Done with the kitchen and I head to the couch where the girls are reading books. I read them a book and we head to the bathroom for potty breaks, then into their bedroom and they get tucked in, prayers and songs. 
1:05: Girls are in bed and I head back out to the couch for my quiet time.
1:25: I start getting some work done on the computer. Checking and answering emails, work for the moms fitness group I lead, Project: On Purpose stuff and start writing this post. I actually set a timer for 30 minutes so I don't get side tracked and it goes really fast. 
1:55: Re set the timer for 10 more minutes so I can make some headway on this post. 
2:05: Shut the computer and get the living room picked up and other random chores around the house. 
2:30: Thinking that someone will wake up any minute, I don't want to get started on anything so I sit down to finish a book I'm almost through with. 
3:00: Still no one is up and I am just finishing up my book.
3:10: I usually eat a snack with them when they wake up but apparently they are sleepy heads today and I am hungry, so I eat sweet potato chips. 
3:20: I read some messages and look through instagram on my phone. 
3:40: STILL not awake (not complaining one bit) so I get back on the computer to dump the pictures I've taken already today and put them in this post. Keep writing this post and finish up some other work on the computer.

4:00: They finally emerge! I was going to wake them up around 4 if they weren't up anyway, otherwise bedtime would be rough. I get them a snack and one of them is still pretty groggy and wants to watch a show so I agree to one episode of Daniel Tiger.

4:10: I go do a little dinner prep while they are watching their show. 

4:20: Their show is over so we play a bit in the living room. I read them a few books and we cuddle on the couch. 

4:45: I head back into the kitchen to make dinner and they pick back up on their mail and pizza lady game. I should have gotten a picture of this--they took these blue reusable grocery bags and put one handle around their neck and the bag hanging down their front so it looked like a mail bag. It was pretty funny! 

5:00: Daddy is home! Yay! 

5:10ish: We sit down to eat dinner. We are having pasta (spaghetti squash for me, brown rice quinoa pasta for them) with meat sauce, bread and Caesar salad. 

5:40: We are done with dinner. I clean up the pots and pans and the family plays. 

6:15: We get bundled up and ready to head to hubby's softball game. We were going to play at the park for a bit first but it is pretty chilly so we just sit in the car for a few minutes and then head over to the diamond. 

7:00: My dear friend Megan suggests we get hot chocolate because it is soooo cold out! We are all bundled up in coats, hats for the girls and blankets. 

7:20: We get back to the game with hot chocolate and I meant to take pictures but I am too busy snuggling under a blanket and trying to keep warm! 

8:15: Game is over and we head back to the cars to warm up! 

8:30: Home! Get the girls ready for bed. Potty, brush teeth, pajamas and clean faces and hands. We all pile into our bed under the big comforter to try to get warm. We have recently started a new routine of getting in our bed for a little bit before bedtime to wind down. We get in, talk about whatever they want to talk about, then they each get to pick a short song to sing (one always picks you are my sunshine and the other always picks skinamarink), then one "Jesus" song (tonight it was My Lighthouse by Rend Collective) for me to sing. Then we each take turns praying and I love hearing their sweet little prayers and what is important to them. One of them tonight prayed something to the effect of "Thank you for taking all of our sins away and thank you for yummy hot chocolate at the softball game" ha! It has really helped for them to wind down this way.

9:00: Finally in bed! (They normally are in bed between 8 and 8:30 but the game ran late).

9:05: I am on the couch in pajamas getting ready to finish this post. Hubby makes me a snack and after this I am planning to get back in bed and maybe watch a show because I am still really cold! Hopefully I will be asleep by 10:30 or 11! 
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Monday, May 18, 2015

stuff & things

Just a fun and random post about life right now. Nothing too deep for me today :) 

making: plans for summer! 
cooking: The Pioneer Woman's hamburger soup was for dinner-delish! 

drinking: A decaf white chocolate mocha 
reading: I'm finishing up Instant Mom by Nia Vardalos. An interesting (sometimes a little crude) account of adoption through the foster system.
wanting: To be about 6 months in the future. But not wanting time to move at the same time.
looking: probably like a 14 year old. I am out in public with a french braid, sweats and no make up. Don't mind me! I'm hidden in the corner at Starbucks anyway! 

playing: with my kiddos, all day every day.

wasting: precious alone time getting distracted on Facebook! 
wishing: I could look into the future. So much is up in the air right now and I am not good at not knowing! 
enjoying: the few hours of alone time I am getting! I don't get out often, haha
waiting: on adoption stuff. Always. 
liking: Planning lately. I feel like I need to plan everything out because I have been so unorganized lately! 
wondering: about our birth mom. Is she pregnant yet? Is she almost due? Does she know she is placing the baby? How is her heart? 
loving: Spring! I feel like the older my kids get the more I appreciate nice weather after being cooped up with 2 little ones all winter! 

hoping: For a good night's sleep! For everyone! 
marveling: at God's handiwork. In the form of my children. I never grow tired of thinking about what amazing and incredible creatures they really are! 

needing: to use the rest room. TMI. I just finished my coffee but don't want to leave all my stuff sitting. 
smelling: Coffee. Obviously. 
wearing: Sweats. I'm fancy. Ok, they are like yoga pants and a cute zip up hoodie, so it's not too terrible. It's a rainy and gloomy day and comfort won out! 
noticing: That from these answers, the same few things are on my mind and heart! 
knowing: God's plan is better than my own. No matter how often I have to remind myself! 
thinking: about my family. I miss them whenever I'm not with them and I always wonder what cute things my girls do when I'm not around. 

bookmarking: Spoonacular. I just heard about it today and it sounds really interesting. I may try meal planning with it for a few weeks and see how that goes. 
opening: A new tab to check some emails.
feeling: Happy. I feel like I am finally getting out of a funk that I was in. A lot of stuff is up in the air with our life right now and things are starting to settle down some and it is nice 
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Friday, May 15, 2015

Capsule Wardrobe Dreaming

Years ago (pre-kids) I did the 30x30 closet remix. I had so many clothes (I literally had an entire room that we turned into a closet in my old house. It was ridiculous) that didn't get worn and I hadn't gone through them in years. I always felt like I had nothing to wear, even though I literally had a room full. So I decided to do that and I really liked how it made me get creative with putting outfits together. 
Here we are today, and I have been wanting to do something similar again. After having kids, it is crucial for me to find clothes that flatter my post kiddo figure and while I have had some success with doing that, I still have a lot of clothes that honestly just don't look good anymore. And guess what? I never wear them
I keep hearing about capsule wardrobes and I have been really interested in putting one together for this summer. Basically, a capsule wardrobe is where you pick a certain number of items (I have read 37 is a good number, but you can use whatever you want), and focus on clothes that fit you well, are versatile and will work for an entire season. Then you are supposed to clear out your closet with everything except what you've chosen to get you through the next 3 months! Mix and match your items to come up with lots of different outfit combos. Sounds super fun, right?! 
In our current home, we don't have a lot of space. We certainly don't have an extra room for clothes in this house, in fact, we don't even have a walk in closet. It's just a standard, regular sized closet. It isn't big and it doesn't hold that many clothes. Unless of course you jam pack them all in, which is what I have done. I have been wanting to do a closet makeover pretty much since we moved in, and I am hoping to get that done in the next few months. I know that even when we change things around to go from the builder grade closet to actually creating it to hold what we need, it will still function best with less in it.  So that's what I am hoping to do! I need to get down to the nitty gritty and actually get rid of items, store seasonal stuff away and go through and figure out what actually fits and looks good right now. Not what I hope does in the future or what did in the past, but what does right now. I am hoping that within the next month I will be able to do that, purchase a few more key pieces and come up with a capsule for summer! 
Here are some of the integral pieces I am thinking of for my summer capsule: 
I have an almost identical pair from last year (I think mine are a little bit lighter), but here is a similar style from Old Navy. At least 1 pair of colored shorts is a must for me! 
These simple tan sandals from Walmart are so versatile and would go with so much! Super affordable, too!
A maxi dress is a must for me in every season, and although I have quite a few maxis, I am starting to change my tune about the style of them. Most of the ones I have are strapless and strapless just isn't great with little ones. They grab onto things and pull. I also don't feel comfortable going strapless in a lot of settings so in the winter and fall it is fine because I just put a jacket or cardigan over it. Anyway, long story short I really adore the style of this one with the thicker strap. I tried this on at Kohl's a few weeks ago in another color and I think I am going to get it. 
How cute is this suit?! I got a new swimsuit last year so I probably won't get one this year since I doubt I really need 2 right now but I saw this at Kohl's when I was there also and it is just adorable!
A good pair of capris is always a must for the summer! 
I have this shirt in a different pattern from last season (see here). I love the Lauren Conrad line at Kohl's. I love this top because it is flowy and feminine and it hangs just right on me. 
I love soft jersey tops and I love tops with ruffling on them because they hide mom tums. So this top would be ideal! 
Obviously that is just a limited selection since I would need more than that, but those are some things I have been eyeing. I am excited to go through my closet soon and figure something out. 
Have you ever done a capsule wardrobe? What were your essential items in it? 
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