Tuesday, February 14, 2017

What I Wish for You- An Open Letter to My Children

Dear Payton and Riley,

In the last 1,023 days of my life I have been fully immersed in motherhood. Although I can not say I have escaped the feelings of being overwhelmed, fatigued, scared and lonely; I can say I have also felt love, happiness, and a greater sense of purpose for my own life. I am not super mom. I do try super hard.

During these 1,000+ days, I don't think more than a few minutes have gone by without my mind thinking of you in some shape and form. I suppose that's what happens when a person becomes a parent, but it is still a fact that awes me. Today, I wanted to clear the air on some thoughts I have had on what I wish for you.


May you always have a warm, loving heart. I won't be surprised if you seek positions that require care giving in some form. You spend most of your time teaching, loving, and caring for your family, toys, and animals. God has called you to foster relationships and love others. Don't let that get away from you in life.

You are more like your mother than you may ever be willing to admit so, in many ways, I feel like I understand you so well. You love to please others and have a wide range of emotions that can rotate a full 180 degrees at the drop of a hat. Remember, you are important, too, and feelings will come and go.

As I watch you growing ever so quickly, I am always amazed at your zest for life. You have big dreams and want to do it all. Chase your dreams my sweet girl. Even failure will teach you great lessons.


My sweet baby boy. Oh how your personality is starting to present itself these days. You are so easy going and willing to do whatever we ask of you, but in your own way and timing. For instance, you will go outside with us when we ask but you can take your time getting any goal accomplished. Almost daily you choose to walk with me to the mailbox to get the mail. You have yet to actually make it once to the mail box with me. You are so intrigued by everything around you and find satisfaction in whatever is right there. May you always take life slowly and look at everything on your path.

You have such a sense of humor and love to laugh. When life gets hard, which it will, my wish for you is that you can always find an angle to each scenario that makes you laugh. This will help you get through the challenges.
May you spread your wings and fly my child! You can always come back home. I promise to leave the light on.

To the both of you-

You love each other so much right now. May you never lose sight of that love. There will be disagreements and you will sometimes do something the other one doesn't agree with. Remember, you will always have each other and some day you may only have each other.
So, mend the wounds, hug it out, and always try to find some common ground between you both. You will never regret taking the time to foster this relationship you have together. "You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them." -Desmond Tutu

I wish for you love, peace, and happiness as you go through this beautiful life. Thank you for being a part of our little family.



Sunday, February 12, 2017

Valentine's Baking with My Little Valentines

I love the concept of Valentine's day but, as a couple, we don't really partake in the holiday as many others do. We don't typically do flower, gifts, or a fancy dinner. Instead, we focus on doing acts of kindness for each other and encourage our children to do the same. Payton did make cards for family and friends and she plans to do a special party for the occasion. That will probably be low key and supplies will be whatever we have around (balloons, construction paper, etc).

We do love to bake though and thought we should do some festive treats for this holiday. Payton really wanted to decorate a cake so we made heart cakes. We made the cakes together one day and then frosted them the next. I have found breaking up the activities helps me keep my sanity and keeps the kids from completely losing steam by the end. Its a win-win. They had a blast baking, creating, and then eating!

After baking the cakes, I gave the kids a few colored frosting choices, a variety of sprinkles, and a few cookie cutters and let them go! We ended up with some cute cakes that taste delicious. I love watching how both kids have continued to increase their art skills as we continue doing projects that allow them to be so creative.

I found this heart cake pan (similar pan here) at our local library:
We try to utilize our library for anything and everything that we can. Many libraries carry much more than just books, so I encourage you to look into what your local library has available if you don't already know.
The cakes turned out perfectly and this was an easy to do activity with the kids. Now, we will sit back and enjoy our cakes for the next couple of days!

What do you do for Valentine's day typically?

Friday, February 10, 2017

Keeping Your Toddler Busy- Inside Activities

While we're still enduring the middle of winter, I thought I would give some ideas on what activities we are engaging in to keep the kids entertained. I love quick, easy activities that don't take a lot of time to set up and require supplies that I typically have on hand. It's an extra bonus for me if a 2 minute set-up activity keeps my kids entertained for a long period of time, like 30-60 minutes.

So, if you are feeling stuck inside and need some fresh ideas for your toddlers, here are some things we have been up to with a 3 1/2 year old and an 18 month old:

 1. The Cheerio Game
This is seriously what we call this activity and my 3 1/2 year old requests it frequently. I pull out cheerios, pour some into a small bowl for both kids, make a few play-doh balls, and then stick an uncooked spaghetti noodle into the play-doh ball. Payton spends tons of time putting cheerios onto the spaghetti noodle. She also will put them onto a pipe cleaner to make necklaces and bracelets. My 18 month old eats his cereal while watching her with awe. It won't be long before he actively participates.
2. The Pipe Cleaner Game
Another regularly requested game at our house. We pull out a strainer and some pipe cleaners for this activity. The kids work on putting both ends of the pipe cleaner into the holes of the strainer. Another great activity for hand-eye coordination and normally gives me enough time to do a quick chore, like empty the dishwasher.

 3. Do the Dishes
Toddlers are great because chores are so fun to them. Roll with this! Both my kids love to help with the dishes. I get that this can get messy quickly and most of the time I have to go back through and clean the dishes myself before putting the dishwasher, but the kids really enjoy working on this skill. And, hey, someday this will be their chore, right? Practicing never hurt anyone!

I would say, though, prepare to change their clothes after this activity. I also have them help with cleaning up any water that splashes to the floor or on the counters. They are great at helping me clean up from this activity and my fear of messes doesn't stop me from letting them do the dishes when they ask.
4. Watercolor
So for this one, we actually had to buy some supplies. We bought this watercolor set and love it. It's washable and we have had no issues with staining. I have a big washable blanket that goes under the high chair (similar to this item) and I just throw that on the table. Both of my kids have painting tops they use to avoid staining, just in case it could happen.

My 3 1/2 year old will paint for hours if I let her and give her an endless supply of paper to use. The 18 month old typically only makes it about 10 minutes, but it definitely seems to wear him out as I find he takes a great nap on the days we paint.
5. Bake Together
I know that most of us probably already do this, but I tend to forget how entertaining this can be for children. If you have a really quiet morning at home, sometimes the best thing to do is to find a new, quick, and easy recipe to try. I've been making copycat Larabars and breakfast granola bars most of this week with the kids. It's helped us to find new recipes we like, ones we don't care for, and work with the kids on their counting, measuring, and pouring skills.

In preparation for Valentine's day, the kids really wanted to make a cake so we are working on that today. Time in the kitchen can be a lot of fun for kids if you can find (safe) ways to utilize them.

I hope you have found a few ideas that inspire you when you have some free time with your little one(s). Tell me, what are some activities you do at home? I would love to hear from you!

This post contains sponsored links from Amazon.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Our Weekend Full of Firsts

We are totally taking today easy because this weekend was a whirlwind for us. It was just our family, no company, but we decided to take full advantage with doing some new things.

When we got our mail on Friday, there was a package for our kids from their aunt, uncle, and cousin. They got some early valentines day gifts and loved modeling their new clothes.

My husband took our daughter to her first banquet & benefit. We were unsure of letting her go since it would go way past her bedtime, but decided to go ahead. Instead of taking the whole family when we knew Riley would struggle with staying up so late, Payton got to enjoy some daddy time.
She had a lot of fun and saw a few of her friends there. They called it a night before the event ended as Payton got very tired and a bit busy. Payton is already planning her next date with daddy.

Riley had no problem saying goodbye to his daddy and sister as this meant that he got to spend his evening with me, just me. I made hot dogs and macaroni & cheese because we almost never get that meal and so it's a favored special occasion meal. We read some stories and played together. It really wore Riley out as he wanted to go to bed right after we ate dinner. I finally gave in and put him to bed about 6:45PM, which is still a bit before his typical bedtime. Having mommy to yourself can be exhausting!

On Sunday, we took the kids on their first fishing trip. Payton was so excited! She got a fishing pole last year and spent most of the summer and winter practicing casting and reeling in. She is pictured below with her first catch, a feather! That made her day.
 What girl doesn't make sure to have her tutu and jewelry on for a special fishing trip? Payton definitely keeps us entertained! She didn't catch any fish but had a good time trying. We also saw the ducks and let the kids play at the park for awhile. Riley spent most of the fishing trip bundled up, with this expression on his face:
We kick started Monday morning with Payton waking us up that was going to get sick. She did get sick a few times but has been fine since. In any case, both kids have been taking it easy as we get caught up around the house. 

Another DIY project was started on the house and I plan to post pictures when it is done. We extended the size of our storage room in order to eliminate a very tiny closet. Monte put up the new wall and framed in the spot for a new door. Who knows when this will be done, but I will share when it is!

I hope you had a great weekend and your Monday is going well!

Friday, February 3, 2017

DIY and this week

It's Friday! Yay! In so many ways, this has been a long week. This was probably the first week in months that our household was (for the most part) healthy. Payton has also kept us quite entertained with her ever increasing language skills. She has decided when she uses the restroom she will need "piracy" at all times. Let's all take turns laughing as we give  her the privacy she deserves.

We decided to start a DIY project last weekend and it was a quick project that was 2 years in the making. Our house layout is a mostly closed floor plan and we have been working very hard to make it more of an open layout in the main living areas. We decided to put a look through from our kitchen to our living room. 
We ended with this:
We are loving this change and it already feels like it has been here forever. The kids love to put their toys on the shelf and play peek-a-boo with each other. In the end, we have no idea why we procrastinated this project. It was less than 6 hours of labor and makes a huge difference in our house. Now, the kids aren't getting away with as much as they used to while I am cooking and cleaning the kitchen.

For the rest of the week, we floated through life. The weather here was gorgeous at the beginning of the week, hitting the high 40s and letting us get outside. It was the breath of fresh air we needed before being stuck inside again.
We started Friday with a fresh layer of snow. The kids convinced me to get outside at 7:45AM to play. I guess they were ready since they kick started their morning at 6AM. I was still slow moving. It was fun to be out in the fresh snow basking in the quiet beautiful, white layers until a little someone had a potty accident because she couldn't get inside fast enough. Take the good with the bad. And drink coffee.

I let the kids do a little watercolor painting. This is always a well received activity. Payton is growing by leaps and bounds in the coloring department. She is now much more focused on putting certain colors in specific spots. Time goes so fast. Wasn't it yesterday she was just flinging the colors wherever they ended up?

The house is quiet now as I type this with my youngest napping and my oldest enjoying some quiet time on her own. Mom life is so full of beautiful moments and also so full of very hard moments. I never know if I am doing what's right or serving God the way he intended. I question so much some days. Yet, other days, I can take a deep breath and know I'm right where I belong, because, the real truth is, this is exactly where I'm meant to be. If you need me, I'll be counting eggs with my preschool aged daughter and kissing away the millionth boo boo my son has gotten.

Keep on keeping on! Happy Friday! Tell me, what are you up to this weekend?

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Random Facts about Me

As I sat down today to type this post I thought giving some random facts about myself might make for an interesting read. Here is what I can come up with:

1. I avoid going to the grocery store.

I would guess that I only go to the grocery store about 12 times per year. I know I have had a few years that would be much less than that. How do I do that? I plan ahead for almost all meals (or else we'd eat out a lot), purchase most of my fruits and vegetables through bountiful baskets, buy my chicken through co-ops, do freezer meals, and we buy our beef through a family member each year.

Recently, I have started occasionally using the grocery pick up services offered by some stores (like Hyvee). We don't live in the same town the Hyvee is in but if I am already headed that direction I place an online order and pick it up. This helps me stick to my grocery list and I never have to actually set foot in the store.

2. I love to read.

It gets harder to find time to read with children, but I do try to make this a priority. The current book I am working my way through is When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. So far, it is so, so good.

I have a long list on my phone of books that I am recommended to read. I am slowly making my way through that list and adding to it as I go.

3. My husband and I have been together for a good chunk of my life.

I have dated my husband since high school. We will celebrate 8 years of marriage and 14 years since our first date in February. Wow! That's a lot of time and quite the commitment. It isn't always easy that's for sure. Add in several houses, 2 towns, 2 dogs, 2 kids, 4 college degrees, and several outside farm animals later and I couldn't have asked for a better life.

4. No opportunity to learn is turned down.

I love to learn and have a tendency to go full throttle when I am engaged in something new. I am currently very interested in minimalism and have been learning about this concept every where that I can. In no way do I think I could be a minimalist but, as someone who borders more on the hoarder side of the spectrum, I think there are some valuable tools and lifestyle choices I need to adopt. Immediately.

5. Our household is very frugal

We work hard to keep our cost of living as low as we possibly can. You can read more about what we do to save money here. To stay motivated, we talk about our goals frequently, use a budget, and follow several frugal blogs.

6. It takes me less than 30 minutes to get ready for my day

If we have no where to be, I most likely will stay in pajama/work out clothes all day. However, if I do have to go somewhere, my hair and makeup is done in less than 30 minutes. This is quite the change from before children. I can actually get myself and my 2 kids ready and out the door within 45 minutes when I have to, sometimes 30 mins if I move really, really fast.

7. I love coffee and I despise this fact.

For most of my life I was not a coffee drinker. Add in 1 baby and I became hooked very quickly. I love coffee but am not proud of that. It's not the coffee that is the problem but the extra stuff I love to add to it (hello, creamer). If I could change one thing about myself, it would probably be this, yet I seem to lack the motivation and energy to do so just yet.

8. I want my kids to know the quiet life.

This was a large part of why we jumped on the chance to move into the country. I grew up with my time completely scheduled (more like over scheduled) and was involved in every extracurricular I could be in. Sure, I loved all of that but challenges came for me as an adult. Suddenly I had an open schedule and had no idea what to do with my time or how to be alone. It was a good learning lesson but we would like to raise our children in a bit more slower paced life. There is something to be said about someone that knows how to sit in the quiet and be alone with themselves.

9. I have a masters degree in counseling.

I went to school to become a counselor. I enjoyed working on this career, but having children sidelined this for me. For now.

I still find this degree helpful as I interned at a children's behavioral clinic and learned many techniques that I implement with my children daily.

10. Ireland is on my bucket list.

Traveling is one of my favorite things to do! As with many things, traveling was pushed to the side when we had children. Some day though, we will pick up the pace with traveling again. When we do, Ireland is definitely on my dream list. Of all the places I have traveled before (a good chunk of the United States and many different locations in Mexico), home is my favorite places of them all.

There you have it. Some random facts I can think of off the top of my head. I would love to hear some details about you and your life! So give it to me, what are some facts about you? I don't care how random they are!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Winter Ice Storm

Earlier this week we prepared for our first ice storm of the year. We never know if we will lose electricity or not so we plan larger meals that are easy to eat (leftover roast, hard boiled eggs, supplies for sandwiches, oatmeal on hand, etc) just in case. Before the storm came though we decided to take the kids to the park despite the chilly temperatures.

Payton had been begging to go to the park for about a month since we hadn't been there since October (before the cold weather came). My mom made the kids some blanket coats for Christmas and they are working great for traveling. You just throw the hood on them after you buckle them in. They are also the perfect addition for the kids when in the stroller. If Riley was cold, he would have let us know as he has a very low tolerance for being cold. He didn't make a peep the whole walk. Payton also started sleeping with her blanket coat at night because she loves it so much! You could purchase this similar Car Poncho from Amazon or look at pinterest for ideas of how to make one yourself.

It started to rain at our house that evening. The next day, we woke up to an ice covered wonderland. It was beautiful. My husband's work was cancelled for the day due to hazardous road conditions and I was relieved we could all enjoy it without risking our lives by driving around in it. I don't think my pictures nearly do the landscape justice but these are some shots I got of the storm:
Seriously, so pretty. I love the white, cold, and silence that being outside brings after a winter storm. Nature has so much to say when you take the time to listen. I'm always reminded of this during these times as I heard the trees crackle and pop from all the ice on them and the ice patches give a little as you glide across.

Back indoors, we had a pajama party with our Holiday Family Matching Pajama set and Payton wanted a few family pictures to remember the occasion.

She loves using a selfie stick. We spent the rest of our time baking, playing cars and restaurant, and reading our book collection over and over again.

After several days of being cooped up in the house, we were very excited to return to our regular schedule midweek. This was Payton's first week back at gymnastics and she was so excited to have her new gymnastics leotard on. With the cold weather, it was time for a Long Sleeved Leotard. She had a blast at class and has spent all of today teaching us gymnastics.

Yay for Friday! What are your weekend plans? My mom is coming to visit us and the kids have been bouncing off the walls in anticipation for her arrival!

I hope you all have a great weekend!

This post contains sponsored links from Amazon.

This post has been linked up with the following link up sites: Teaching What is goodModern mom blog, and Epic Mommy Adventures

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