Book Ideas for Kids!

I want to start this post by saying there are so many good books out there! But because there are so many I feel like it can be  overwhelming to know which ones to get! So, I simply want you to think of this post as you and me sitting down over coffee, sharing some fun books we have come across! 🙂 Please feel free to leave some of your favorites in the comments below for everyone else to see!

(Just click on the title of the book and it will take you to the product link)

  1. Press Here. This is a fun interactive book that grandma introduced us to! If you haven’t seen it you should take a look  🙂 

2. Here we Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth. This is a book we recently got that talks about how vast the universe is! Its a good and fun little introduction to the solar system, etc.

3. O’Shae the Octopus. This is a sweet book about an octopus who has two extra arms. He discovers “that although it can be hard for others to accept his differences, embracing what sets him a part can truly make him sensational”. 

4. The Big Book of Bugs. I love books that are loaded with lots of fun pictures and learning! This is one of those books  🙂

5. This is How We Do it: One day in the lives of seven kids around the world.  The title explains this book! A book about 7 kids in different parts of the world and what a day in their life looks like. When we went through this book my oldest was so interested that some people live in huts and eat such different foods! I want to start opening my kids eyes to the diversity there is in our world!

6. Cars and Trucks and Things That Go. Our favorite part about this book is finding Gold Bug on every page! He’s a sneaky little guy that can be hard, but fun, to find!

If you have a wee little one  🙂  Things That Go- Flip-a-Flap Book might be a good option!

7. The watermelon Seed. My sister got us into this book! My kids think this crocodile with a wild imagination is hilarious!

8. This Moose Belongs to Me. This is just a fun little book book about a boy and a moose! And the cover is so cute I use it as decoration in the boys room 😉

9. The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings us Back to the Garden. This is such a good book on how all the stories of the Bible create an overarching message about God’s wonderful plan to redeem his rebellious people! “In The Biggest Story, Kevin DeYoung—a best-selling author and father of six—leads kids and parents alike on an exciting journey through the Bible, connecting the dots from the garden of Eden to Christ’s death on the cross to the new heaven and new earth.” It was even a good review and summary for me!

The Biggest Story ABC. This is a version for younger ones!

10. The Fox Wish. A sweet story of a little girl that shares her jump rope, to make the fox’s wish come true.

11. Nature Anatomy. A book full of fun ways to learn about nature! Sometimes I’ll open to a page and have the kids draw images from it!

Farm Anatomy. We don’t have the next two books but they are by the same author and look fun!

Food Anatomy

 

12. The 50 States. Its obvious what this book is about..but I just love books that are jam packed with fun learning opportunities!

It also has The 50 States Activity book that goes along with it. We don’t have it but its on my list!

13. Stars. A cute book about stars!

14.The Garden the Curtain and the Cross. This beautifully illustrated hardback book takes children on a journey from the garden of Eden to God’s prefect new creation!

15. Jayde the Jay Bird. “Come fly away with Jayde and see what happens when she finally gets the courage to sing loud enough for the whole forest to hear.”

 

16. Atlas of Animal Adventures. This book is all about animals!!

I’ve only looked through the Atlas of Animal Adventures Atlas of Adventures looks fun too!

I hope this gave you some ideas if you’re stuck in a book rut!!  😉

xoxo,

Danielle

 

Advent: Preparing our hearts for Christmas

I did a little research on advent and it can begin anywhere from November 27-Dec 3, as the season of advent is 4 weeks from Christmas. It can be observed with various rituals and traditions. I don’t believe, however, you have to follow a certain ritual, or exact date to celebrate Advent. For me it is simply a time to prepare my heart as Christmas approaches…as we get ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus!

ad•vent ⁄ ‘ad,vent / – the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.

I also want to instill this in my children. That Christmas is not just about gifts, trees, and lights…but about the birth of our Savior! That IS Christmas!!  So, I want to share with you some advent cards I am reading and the advent devotions we are doing with the kids this December! There are many great ones out there, but this is what we landed on for this year  😉

1. The Wonder of the Greatest Gift– By Ann Voskamp. My mom gifted this Advent set to us this year and the kids were so excited (I actually was surprised how excited they were) !

This set has a devotional book for everyday along with an advent calendar door to open. Inside the doors are ornaments to hang on the big paper tree pop-up! My the end of advent the tree will be decorated with pictures that all tell a story..the greatest story of all!

2. The Jesus Story Book Bible. This is a great Bible for kids!  The description reads, “The Moonbeam Award Gold Medal Winner in the religion category, The Jesus Storybook Bible tells the Story beneath all the stories in the Bible. At the center of the Story is a baby, the child upon whom everything will depend. Every story whispers his name. From Noah to Moses to the great King David—every story points to him. He is like the missing piece in a puzzle—the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together. From the Old Testament through the New Testament, as the Story unfolds, children will pick up the clues and piece together the puzzle. A Bible like no other, The Jesus Storybook Bible invites children to join in the greatest of all adventures, to discover for themselves that Jesus is at the center of God’s great story of salvation—and at the center of their Story too.”

This year on instagram I happened to stumble across Crew & Co. They have created advent cards that go along with the storybook Bible! I was so excited. The cards have a verse with an illustration on them and the title of what Bible story to read!

3. Christmas Advent Calendar Cards. These are beautiful scripture advent cards by ColeyCreated! If you’ve been following along with me you will have already seen them  🙂  I’m also sharing them on my insta stories everyday so we can read and reflect on them together!

I hope these have given you some ideas, either for this year or next  🙂  As always, thanks for reading!!

xoxo,

 Danielle

Kids Holiday gift guide


If you’re like me, you don’t want your kids to accumulate a lot of “junky” toys that they’ll probably be over in a few days anyways. It just create more clutter in our homes…and we don’t need more clutter! And maybe you are already stressing out a little bit thinking about all the things they will get for Christmas??! Or is it just me?

I’ve put together a gift guide of items that encourage imagination, promote learning and creativity, and help burn energy!

So here you go, starting with outdoor activities moving indoors (Some of the beginning items are a little more expensive, but keep scrolling and they’ll lower in price if you’re not looking for bigger gifts!) ;-):

  1. iBert Front Safe-T-Seat front facing. This bike seat is so much fun for the littles…a front facing view! Our little guy loves this and it makes family bike rides a blast! I have gotten so many questions and comments as we are out riding around!
  2. Micro Mini Scooter. Another item our kids have used for countless hours (I mean COUNTLESS!) is the Micro Mini Scooter! It rides so smoothly and has 3 wheels to keep the kids safe! Its by far the best scooter we have come across! If your child is younger (under 2 or 3) you can buy a little seat that switches out for the handle bar! Click here for seat! If your child is 5-12 years, the Micro Maxi is the next step up. Our oldest has this. 
  3. Trapeze Bar. We have a trapeze bar hanging from a tree in our front yard and it is always popular with my kids and any friends that come around! I didn’t really want it at first because I thought it looked kind of tacky but, its definitely worth all the fun the kids have on it!
  4. Spin Out Bike. This bike is super fun for kids 5+! Mommy has tried it before and let me tell you…its spins fast! A little boys’ dream (or girls, but we know boys like fast!). 🙂  Our oldest got it for his birthday last year and he couldn’t reach the pedals very well so daddy rigged up some wooden blocks for the pedal. He loves it!
  5. Bubble Machine. My mom puts this in her back yard and all the grandkids love it! Its like a bubble dream come true and keeps the kids entertained 🙂 
  6. Kidkraft Vintage Kitchen White. This is a litter bigger item but as you can see from my instagram feed, we love our little white kitchen! I also added it because this is the best price I have seen it! 
  7. Easy Playhouse Cardboard. I realize this is basically a glorified cardboard box, but its a little more fun, especially if you need a gift idea! 🙂 Its fun for the kids to decorate and then once it starts falling apart…toss it. I love the idea of this! 
  8. Insect Lore Butterfly Growing Kit. This is a fun yet educational gift! We did this a few months ago and all had fun watching the process of caterpillars turning into butterflies. I will warn you that it doesn’t have the actual caterpillars, instead the kit comes with a voucher to purchase them, which is $8. So if you want to cover the cost you can just include $8  🙂 

9. Alpha-bots. These are fun, but a sneaky way to learn for little ones! The kids have to transform the letters into robots. Great for hand-eye coordination, problem solving, and imagination!10. Boogie Board writing tablet. My mom bought this for our oldest (who is 5 years old) and he thinks its so fun and cool! Even our two year old likes to use it. They can practice writing or drawing and erase it with the click of a button. Its a good way to keep kids entertained in a waiting room or in the car!Another option is the Boogie Board Scribble ‘n Play,11. Train Set in Wooden Case. This wooden case folds up into a little briefcase and all the trains go inside. When you’re ready to play, it opens into a fun little train track!  It’s a good toy for younger siblings to take along if they have to wait for older siblings at a sports practice, music practice, etc! I even take it to Starbucks for the kids to play with while mama sips her coffee 😉 12. Magnetic Blocks. These blocks are a good staple toy! They fit nicely in a little storage container and it keeps the kids entertained, all while enhancing creativity! 13. Car Mat. Grandma bought us a similar rug a few years ago and we still play with it! I don’t have it out, as we don’t have a lot of room, but I roll it up and store it in their closet. I think because they don’t see it every day its a fun activity when I do bring it out! 

Another option is this Black and White Canvas street map

13. Go Robot Mouse Activity Set. This is one item we don’t have YET, but its on the list to get the kids for Christmas! It was recommended by my friend who teaches Kindergarten, and I would trust her recommendation. Kids have to build their maze and then use the coding cards to create a step-by-step path for the programmable mouse! They have to problem solve and use critical thinking, but its in a fun way!

14. Omaker Portable Bluetooth Speaker. Ok, this item is PER request of my oldest Levi, lol. He was asking what I was doing while making this gift guide and I told him I was sharing some fun things we like with our friends. He said…tell them about DANCE PARTIES!! So I figured I’d share the speaker we use. 😉 Its a pretty reasonable for a bluetooth speaker! Its even waterproof and we take our dance parties out in the pool (I will say we haven’t gotten it wet, so I don’t know HOW water proof it is). Also, if you really want to spice up your dance party, like us, you need THIS

Thank you so much for reading my gift guide, I hope it was helpful! Please let me know if you have any questions.

xoxo,

Danielle

 

******BONUS******* Gift idea for HIM:

OK, guys can be hard to buy for (or maybe the man in your life is like mine and has a lot of hobbies and he knows exactly what he wants and just orders it himself 🙂 ). This is a super fun way for them (or you!) to kill insects, especially flies! lol My husband bought this for his brothers, dad and brother in law last Christmas because he likes his so much!

Bug-a-Salt Gun. Seriously, check it out.

 

 

«There are affiliate links in this post with amazon but I hope you know I would only share things I truly like! »

Keeper of the calendar

For various reasons the past few weeks have seemed extra busy. I constantly just feel like I’m a step behind and can’t quite catch up. Whenever I feel this way I like to pause for a minute and make sure I’m saying “no” to the things I can be. My time on earth is too short and sweet to let busyness invade my life and rob me of special moments and joy!

I need down time to recharge and feel refreshed. Time to be still and  focus my thoughts. When the days go flying by and we are here and there, I feel overwhelmed, behind, frustrated and worn down. My kids are still little so they are dependent on momma for a lot of things. I have to be conscious of not wearing myself too thin. I have found that I like 2-3 days during the week with no set plans. I’ll go out with the kids to do errands or fun things, but we go at our own pace. When my weeks become too full I feel like I’m just herding my little pack around, always rushing everyone around leaving me feeling like a scatter brained drill sargent. Its hard for me to stay up on laundry, housework, our garden, and my quiet time. When the busyness creeps in I feel like I miss out on special little moments with my kids, and those moments can be so important! I am to nurture my children, and nurturing calls for those teachable and lovable moments.

As I reflect on the busyness of the past few weeks, and the upcoming weeks, I realize there’s not much I can do about it. There always seems to be seasons where the calendar is full and there is really no way around it. So what do I need to do during this time? I need to adjust for this season based on how I know I function. I need to make sure I squeeze in a few minutes of down time daily. I need to be conscious of saying “no” to all the things I can. If there happens to be a free day, I need to work at keeping it that way. I need to aim at having a good attitude if the laundry is piled higher than normal and the house isn’t as clean as I want. Its a busy season and something has to give! I also need to make sure this season doesn’t go on for too long and our family doesn’t reach burnout!

As wives and/or mothers it is our job to set boundaries and protect busyness from invading. We are the keeper of the calendar.

I realize everyone is different, some thrive with being on the go, where others like myself may need a little more down time. I encourage you to take a step back though and assess where you are and where you want to be. Figure out ways you can adjust. What do you need and what does your family need?  Are you burnt out? Do you need to be saying “no” more? Time is valuable and life is short. Let’s make sure we are being good keepers of the calendar and stewards of our time!

 

Capsule Closet- The Result

Now that the closet is purged, its time to start filling in the gaps by adding basic pieces.

It is important to key in on your own style and what works for you!

So, what makes you feel comfortable? I personally don’t like tight or restrictive tops, rather more flowy basic shirts that allow me to feel comfortable when I’m doing my “mom job”. And when I wear heels, I feel like an alien from mars and will probably end up with a broken leg so…definitely no to heels or wedges for me. I mean, I will if it’s an important event… like I’m meeting the president or something. Maybe you like wearing heels to the store and it makes you feel like you can conquer the world! By all means, wear those heals! I will admire you. Just figure out what works for you 🙂

Now, let’s talk color palette for a moment. I don’t think this should be complicated. I didn’t even plan mine, it just happened! Pick your favorite shirts from your closet and see what majority rules. There may be 3-4 colors that seem to stand out. Maybe they are bright, or more neutral like mine, but just stick with your colors so outfits will match. If that doesn’t work, start pining outfits you like on Pinterest and try to figure out what your favorites are! Below are a few palettes I like with similar colors in my closet:

Now I’m going to take you through my closet to show you what I have and how many I have to give you an idea. But remember, just figure out what works for you!

«s h i r t s»

For tops I tend to go plain, with a little flair. Like an oversized baggy  pocket, a high-low (longer in back), or your good ol’ v-neck. Its just what I gravitate to and makes me feel comfortable! Plus, they go with a lot. So how many do I have? About 12 spring/summer shirts and tanks hanging in my capsule section. I also have my comfy, around the house shirts…which I will talk about another time.

The picture below is a more realistic view of what my shirt section looks like. I did, however, leave some long sleeve shirts in the mix since we haven’t quite reached summer yet.

So, does my shirt section surprise you? Did you think you could only have 5? Maybe I’m not a strict capsule follower in the capsule world, but this works for me right now! I’m sure I’ll be tweaking it even more. I’d also like to add that I kept a few more in the mix because I still have young kiddos that get me dirty. So if one gray top gets dirty, I’ll just grab another gray top! Another reason why its nice when the color scheme stays similar. One winter day I was wearing black skinny jeans and a chambray top and both were spilled on…so I went to my closet and put on the exact same outfit! I love not thinking about what I’m going to wear. There’s too many other things to think about!

«s h o r t s»

These are my shorts for the capsule. I do have a few others from the past, just in case. (See, its hard to let go!!) We live in the middle of sunny california, so we reach many over 100 degree days. H O T.  The green and pink shorts fit well and were on the longer side for short shorts so…I bought two colors. The top jean shorts I made from an old pair of flair jeans. Reuse and recycle  😉 I think this will be a good base for summer (those times I’m not splashing in the pool with the kids)…and the colors go with a lot!

«f a n c y»

As I was purging my closet I realized all my skirts were super outdated. And honestly, I don’t really know what skirts are in style now, so I decided to stick with dresses. For churches, weddings, or…if I meet the president of course. When I got rid of my 100+ pieces of clothes, I found a few dresses I had forgotten about! Another reason to keep the closet clean.

«S h o e s»

 

These sandals are my staple. Thank you Marshalls. I mean, its these 85% of the time and other than that its my rainbow sandals or my workout shoes. I do have high heels stored under the bed (for when I meet el presidente). I think its good to have 2 capsule shoes for the season, but I just have one for now. Guess I better go shopping 🙂

I will say, while the weather is cooler in spring, I will still where one of my two staple winter shoes…these Lucky brand lace up booties. They go with everything! Thank you Marshalls, again.

My spring go-to crop leggings and booties

«A c c e s s o r i e s»

This is my capsule necklace. It is simple and goes with everything. I think I paid $3 for it at Forever 21! I do have more necklaces hanging in my closet, but honestly, a lot were gifts and I don’t want to get rid of them! I decided because they don’t take up much room, I’ll let myself keep them;) But when I’m in a rush and need a necklace, this is “the one”.

«C a r d i g a n s»

I usually don’t need a sweater with the kind of summers we have, but I like to keep my lighter cardigans out. For those few cool summer nights or when buildings crank up the A.C! I ended up with 6 because a few are very light and 3/4 sleeves and a few are long sleeve and a little heavier.

«Mix & Match»

Here are a few examples of outfits I can make with my capsule clothes!

So….what about the non-capsule items? This would include comfy clothes, work out clothes, and pajamas. I have downsized a lot in all of these areas and try to keep it simple. I decided to go all black bottoms for work out clothes and buy tops that match black. I chose about 5 or 6 of my favorite comfy shirts to keep around. I mean, comfy clothes ARE my staple;) There are no rules, but just be mindful with everything you keep!

In summary, chose quality over quantity. Be strategic when you make a purchase and be sure it will match with what you have. If you put a new item in your closet, look carefully through what is already in there and see if an item or two can be removed.

If we can do this with our wardrobe we are one step closer to simplifying life.

And a simple life gives us more time with things that really matter. I think we are all about that, right?! Thanks for reading my little capsule series! If you missed the first and second post, click them to read!

 

Below I did a little shopping for you with (similar) items in my wardrobe..just click on the photo and it will take you to the link where you can purchase them!

Muffins & Motherhood musings

 Children really help teach patience. They help you learn what things in life are really important and what things can wait, they teach you how to give up your own interests for the sake of others (your family), and…did I say patience?! I’ve had to scale back in life recently to deal with attitudes. For some reason we are in a season where on some mornings, by 8:30 am, I’ve dealt with more attitudes and meltdowns than I should have all day. I was getting so burnt out and frustrated. Then I realized I just needed to scale back on life. I needed to allow myself to be more available to my children to deal with the attitudes on hand.
I haven’t been scheduling play dates or planning a lot of extra things, I haven’t been as focused on Instagram or planning what to post next, I haven’t been on my phone as much… and when I do have down time, I try to fill myself up. I’m in the Word, listening to relaxing music, working out, and staying on top of the house so I’m not stressed about that. And you know, its helped so much. Just letting go of things and focusing my attention on my children. The ridiculous meltdowns and tantrums aren’t as stressful and I’m able to collect myself and face them head on, with more patience. Well, sometimes I want to walk head on into the wall and repeatedly bang my head on it…but, not as often as before. (May I add, I still lose my patience, daily.) Its so easy to get too busy and forget that we are raising little sinners who needs to be taught, disciplined, loved, and reminded of things over and over again…and again..and then one more time. But thats our job, our calling. So, sometimes things in life need to wait, and we need to put all our energy and effort into the most important things…our littles!
So, speaking of trying to fill myself up, I decided to bake on this rainy afternoon while the kids were napping. I turned up the tunes and got to whisking! Here’s what I whipped up…they were pretty tasty!
I used a recipe from Pinterest, and my own modifications are in parentheses.

Maple- Sweetened Banana Muffins

INGREDIENTS
  • ⅓ cup melted coconut oil or (extra-virgin olive oil, because my coconut oil was expired 😯 )
  • ½ cup maple syrup or honey (I used honey)
  • 2 eggs, preferably at room temperature
  • 1 cup packed mashed ripe bananas (about 3 bananas)
  • ¼ cup milk of choice
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling on top
  • 1¾ cups whole wheat flour (I did 1 cup whole wheat and 3/4 cup almond flour)
  • ⅓ cup old-fashioned oats, plus more for sprinkling on top
  • 1 teaspoon turbinado (raw) sugar or other granulated sugar, for sprinkling on top
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (165 degrees Celsius). If necessary, grease 11 cups of your muffin tin with butter or non-stick cooking spray (my pan is non-stick and didn’t require any grease).
  2. In a large bowl, beat the coconut oil and maple syrup or honey together with a whisk. Add eggs and beat well. Mix in the mashed bananas and milk, followed by the baking soda, vanilla extract, salt and cinnamon.
  3. Add the flour and oats to the bowl and mix with a large spoon, just until combined. If you’d like to add any additional mix-ins, like nuts, chocolate or dried fruit, fold them in now.
  4. Divide the batter evenly between the 11 muffin cups, filling each cup about two-thirds full. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with a small amount of oats (about 1 tablespoon), followed by a light sprinkling of sugar (about 1 teaspoon). Bake muffins for 23 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.
  5. Place the muffin tin on a cooling rack to cool. You might need to run a butter knife along the outer edge of the muffins to loosen them from the pan. Enjoy muffins as is or with a spread of nut butter or regular butter.

I hope you’re able to make them and sit down with some coffee for a little “recharge” time! Thanks for reading, friends!

xoxo

Danielle

A moms tutorial on how to paint a dresser

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Hi friends! When my best friend saw that I refinished this dresser she said she would like to paint a piece of furniture she has, but would have no clue where to start. So, I’m going to tell you how I did it (with kids!) in case it helps a few of you out, including my bestie.  🙂

My neighbor inherited a lot of antiques a few months ago and she gifted this cute little dresser to me. I had it sitting in my kids room for months, trying to figure out how I could use it in there. I decided to bring it out in the living room and immediately found the perfect spot for it! So, time to start sanding and painting!

Here’s the supplies I used:

  • 220 grit sandpaper (150grit would work well too)
  • Electric hand sander (not necessary, just faster!)
  • Quart of Kilz 2 latex primer
  • Quart of Shermin Williams, Mindful Gray latex paint.
  • Small foam roller (If you are doing a smaller piece of furnisher, a foam roller isn’t necessary. My roller was old and not working right so I ended up using a bigger paint brush for most of it)
  • 1.5 inch angled paint brush
  • 3 little helpers  🙂
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Before

Here’s the steps I took:

First, I sanded it with the 220 grit sandpaper. I did this while the kids were playing outside and I was on the phone. Multi tasking, a mom’s way of life, right?! I at least lightly covered every little nook and cranny.

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When I was finished sanding I decided I should probably pull out the little electric hand sander to go over the large surfaces. I did this when I got off the phone because… that sander is loud! When prepping for latex paint you want to make sure all the “shine” on the surface is gone. Its not necessary to sand it down completely to the bare wood, but it is important to remove that first layers so the primer and paint stick!DSC_0779

Once I was finished sanding, I set the little dresser on a table outside so I could paint on the primer with my one year old around. I set up some cars and trucks and asked the older ones to play with him (benefits of having big helpers!) I used Kilz 2 primer, which is a good primer to use, and we happened to have some in our paint cupboard. Yah! Of course, when I pulled the primer and paint brushes out the big kids wanted to help so I let them do the back of the dresser! Its fun to involve the kids… WHEN possible!
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I wanted to get the first coat of primer on in the morning so I could put the second coat on at nap time. We went over to my moms house later that morning and I was able to sneak away to the paint store to get the paint I wanted…kidless! I got Sherwin Williams, “Mindful Gray”. I actually thought it was going to be darker but, isn’t that always the story with paint? I also bought a nicer angled brush to get good coverage on all those nooks and crannies I had just sanded!
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Once the kids were all asleep at nap time I brought the dresser into the house. It was too hot to paint outside and I didn’t want the paint to dry too quickly. Ok, plus I wanted to stay in the cool house with my music and coffee  🙂

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Later in the evening I set up the dresser on our patio table and was able to paint the first coat of gray while my family was playing in the backyard. Thankfully it is small because it went pretty quickly!

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This dresser is really old with lots of dings and a few cracks! I could have used some wood filler to fill in the crack on top but I opted not to 🙂 You can’t really see it when there are things on top!

First coat.

I let the first coat set up over night and was able to paint the second coat at nap time the next day! I didn’t want to paint the final coat while the kids were awake because that would been probable interruptions. I wanted to have good, even coverage on that last coat! I let it dry over night before bringing it in for use!

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I was going to paint the knobs black but decided to leave them in their original state…because I can always go back and change them:)

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I was going to paint the knobs black but decided to leave them in their original state...because I can always go back and change them:)

The dressers new home

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I hope this gave you some helpful hints on how to paint a dresser, and if you have kids…how it can be done with kids!  😉  Do you have any furniture that could use some painting?!

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The “non-pinterest” birthday celebration

 

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I’m just going to do a quick recap of Levi’s 4th birthday. Read here if you missed the post about our firstborn, Levi!

We talked before hand about what he wanted and let him plan out the day! He woke up to 4 super hero’s looking at his morning spot on the couch. Thankfully he slept, because the day before he wasn’t sure if he would be able to since “he was so excited it was going to be his birthday!”  😉

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A few days before his birthday I was at the store with all the kids and that was my chance to grab a few things for his big day. I brought a re-usable shopping bag so I could hide things in the bag when he wasn’t looking. I got a pack of super hero masks, balloons, streamers, and super hero plates. I’m not really into the “character” thing, but it was fast, easy and I knew HE would love it, and thats what matters, right?!

After the rest of the crew woke up we had eggs and fruit….

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…before we headed off to the donut shop for a special treat. He wanted to eat in the car though so “he didn’t have to unbuckle, buckle, unbuckle…”. So we had a donut and milk picnic in the car.

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We then headed off to the store for him to pick out his birthday present. As most kids, he loves the times he is able to pick something out when we go to the store (usually for $1), so we knew he would love being able to pick out a bigger toy! And…he loved it. He was so excited and had a sweet attitude about it 🙂 I don’t want our kids to have a “give me” attitude and expect all these big great things for their birthdays and holidays, but it sure is fun to see their face light up when they get a new toy! There’s a balance in everything.
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This was his choice. I think it was a good one. IMG_2742IMG_2739

Then we came home and swam with some neighborhood friends. He didn’t want a lot of people over, but it was fun to have a few friends over to swim with us! IMG_2758

After swimming we had a picnic lunch in the shade of the tree. IMG_2763

The kids were worn out from playing with friends in the sun so they got a treat and watched part of a movie before nap time!

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After naps we went to Nonna & Vovo’s house (my parents) for a BBQ, per his request. His dinner choice was steak 🙂 We swam, had dinner, and enjoyed an ice cream cookie cake! I guess I was enjoying the evening too much to take more pictures!

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There was nothing fancy about this day. In fact, as his birthday approached I felt a little guilty that I wasn’t having a big party, inspired by all these pinterest ideas. I was worried the day wouldn’t be special. Instead of a pinterest perfect party I bought some cheap decorations last minute and put them up at 10pm the night before. I got a few snacks that he likes and I didn’t even have a gift prepared for him (but that was on purpose)! To my surprise, it was the best birthday we’ve had for one of our kids!!! I loved that I was able to be present with him and enjoy HIM. We had a great time as a family, he felt special, and I wasn’t stressed. It was a win-win and a very special day with our big 4 year old.

Disclaimer: I am not against big parties! I have a few friends that always throw an amazing “Pinterest Party” and I’m always in awe of how great it looks. I will probably have a <smaller> party at the end of next month for our youngest who is turning 1! What we did for Levi was perfect for what he wanted and how busy we are right now. Special doesn’t have to be big 🙂

What do you like to do for birthdays?! Would love to hear your ideas!

 

My Summer 5

 

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I’ve been reading about people setting “Summer Goals” and it seemed a little overwhelming to do that. Well honestly, I’m afraid I’ll end up feeling like a failure at the end if I don’t accomplish them! So I decided to just write out 5 things…that doesn’t seem too daunting! Its nothing crazy, but I think its good to set goals for ourselves, because time goes by so quickly. Setting goals can help us consciously make the time to do things that are important to us or things that will help better ourselves. I’ve written out goals before in how I want to be as a mother, or how to encourage my family & friends, etc., but its been a while so I think its time to set some new ones in all areas of my life!

Here are my “Summer 5”:

  1. Read Having a Martha Home the Mary Way (Which also involves a cleaning schedule to help simplifying and declutter your home)
  2. Take a family trip to the beach
  3. Invite a family over once a week for a BBQ and swimming (read about hospitality!)
  4. Overnight trip with my hubby
  5. Lots of Berry picking with the kiddos!

I’m thinking next summer I’ll have the kids give their input 🙂 At the end of August I’ll let you know how these goals went. Do you set goals for yourself? I’d love to hear your thoughts about it! Also, any ideas or suggestions on summer goals?!

P.S. We WILL be swimming every day, if not twice a day. Thats a given 😉

Seasons of life

SeasonsEcclesiastes 3:1 “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”

Seasons of Life

I want to take a minute to address the different seasons of life we go through. I just got off the phone to my sister friend (sister in law who is my friend 🙂 ) and we were talking about how its sometimes hard to see other people go through good seasons of life. Not because you aren’t happy or excited for them, but because you are in a hard season and feel like you can barely do the basics…and then you feel like you aren’t good enough.

I am currently coming out of a season where I felt like I could barely keep the family alive. After our second child was born I was in the most difficult season I’ve ever been in. There were days my fussy baby and toddler (they are 15months apart) would both be crying and I would just stand there…a wave of emotions would flood over me… and I would just cry. I felt like I couldn’t handle it. I vividly remember doing this in the middle of my living room like it was yesterday. Between working nightshift as a nurse (I had to go back when my baby was 6 weeks), a super fussy baby, post baby hormones, a busy toddler, NO sleep…I just lost it. I would say it was mild post partum depression. Hormones are a crazy thing. My husband and I weren’t in sync together, we weren’t horrible, but we were in pure survival mode.  He would pull nightshift with the little ones, while I was at work, and then he’d drop them off at my parents in the morning and work his 8-5 job. It’s all actually a blur really. We don’t have many memories of our sweet Emi girl because of that.

When I became pregnant with our third, I was able to stop working. This took a huge stress off my shoulders. I was on the down low because of the pregnancy and had circulation issues that were painful, but the fact that I didn’t have to stress about not sleeping due to work, or pulling 12 hours shifts, was huge. And let me just shout out to my nurse friends who are mommy’s…you are rockstars. Its a demanding job, but even more so when you have little ones at home that also need so much from you! As the time came closer to deliver Will I was a little nervous. I didn’t want to have the same feelings I had after Emersyn. I didn’t want to feel like hiding in a closet for days and not taking care of anyone, or laying the fussy baby down and just walking away because she wouldn’t stop crying, or wanting to yell because the littles wouldn’t go down for a nap. I didn’t like those feelings. I decided I needed to be a proactive and increase my quiet time. I knew I would need God’s strength more than ever and wanted to be in a stronger place before number 3 was born. I prayed that I would feel joy when Will was born, and not feel like it was a burden to take care of my children.

I think because of life circumstances, where I was mentally, and God being gracious….I felt that joy. When Will was born my mommy heart was absolutely overflowing and the joy & love I felt for my kids was full. Don’t get me wrong, there are days that are hard, but nothing like in my dark season. I am so thankful that things were different.

Since Will was born I’ve started gardening and blogging. They have been such fun outlets and hobbies. Although I have 3 little ones at home, the oldest isn’t even in school yet, so our life is pretty simple. We don’t have to rush here and there, or even try to fit in homework. So, I realize I have a little more flexibility to fit these things in.  But I want those of you who are in hard seasons to know…you are doing amazing. If you feel like the daily grind is overwhelming and that you aren’t doing enough…you are. I am in a good season right now, and I am thankful. But I have been in that season where I thought I’d never feel freedom and that I was failing because I couldn’t even do the basics. If you are in a hard season, please don’t be afraid to ask for help! It takes a village friends! I called my friend sobbing once because I just couldn’t deal with things when I had my 2 kids. I was tired and too overwhelmed. She was here an hour and a half later with her 2 kids and sent me out the door. I think I drove down the street, sat in my car, listened to music and read a book. It takes a village. Did I say that? My mom is also always around and is super supportive, and I realize not everyone has that, so I feel blessed.

Please don’t think you always have to have things put together. You don’t. We are imperfect people in an imperfect world. If you are in a hard season and feel discouraged, know that you aren’t alone. God tells us in His Word that there will be trying seasons in our life… and those seasons refine us. So rely on Him and use your village.

You can also contact me if you need someone to talk to! xo