Backyard Dreaming

Summer is coming! Tomorrow is supposed to be another nearly 80 degree day, so my mind is not on the current sweater weather.

In Michigan, we had a picnic table on our back deck. We used to eat meals out there as often as possible. We would take art supplies outside and do projects. We just loved being outside. But, there wasn’t a fence and we lived off of a parking lot. I used to get nervous with three really little ones running wherever they wanted, so I tried to keep them on the deck as often as possible.

Now, we have a fenced in back yard with a small patio. It’s really wonderful. We have been giving it some TLC since we moved in. The yard is L-shaped with part of the “back” yard being on the side. We have our swing set, slide, and playhouse over here.

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The yard area behind the house has a patio and a small tree. (this photo only shows a portion of the yard.)

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There were weeds or some crazy plants that were (and still are) overgrown. It literally was vines and sticks from top to bottom all along that fence line. Every time we are out there, we start cutting more down and piling it up until we can actually burn it here. It’s very dry and we have a LOT of grass fires in our area.

The picnic table in Michigan was not ours. It was just stored on the deck there and we were able to use it. I started looking on our local B/S/T pages and found this table.

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I was able to get it for only $20. It needs a paint refreshing, but I can’t wait to have a spot to sit outside again. I am thinking of painting it teal. I’ve always loved teal and turquoise, but feel like they are getting too trendy now. I like being a black sheep. Teal would go well with the red brick and red siding and red everything on the house. haha!

My mom had the idea to have Scott build some benches to go with it until we find some patio chairs. We have a sliding glass door attached to the patio, so we will just carry our dining chairs in and out until we get that sorted out.

I really want to make our back yard a haven for our family. I also want to do some container gardening back there. I have wanted to garden for YEARS. I feel like container gardening will be a good start for me to learn the ropes. Too much dreaming, perhaps.

So, tell me- teal? I love golden yellows also, but am afraid with all of the red it will look like the golden arches back there. Should I just freshen it up with new white paint?

Bathtime Favorites

 

Bath time was always one of my favorite times with my kids. They loved to play in the tub. Actually, they still love it. Chloe will stay in the bath the longest just playing away.

There are so many bath toys that it is overwhelming. The problem is that many of these have little holes that allow water to get inside. Then, you know what happens. Mold. Mold everywhere. It’s gross and frustrating. So, I am going to share my favorite bath toys (and other supplies) that have been loved by toddlers-6 year olds.

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Munchkin Bath Caddy: This is so handy to STORE all of the toys. It sits across the tub, so the water drips out and down the drain. When there are two kids in the tub at once, I put it in the center as a dividing line so that no one hogs the tub. Usually, they like to take a bath alone.

Boon Creatures: These are super fun. They are interchangeable, so your little ones can create different sea creatures.

Boon Stacking boats: Boats in the tub. Enough said.

Boon Pipes: I do not actually own these, so I cannot speak about how well they work. Boon quality is amazing, so I have no doubts. I definitely want to get them for my kids. They look so fun. The water bugs and fishing pole look fun also!

Shae Moisture baby wash: This is my favorite baby wash. A friend recommended it to me and I LOVE it. It smells so good, and is super clean (no harmful ingredients). If you have big kids, their shampoo and conditioner are great as well. I use the baby wash for Harper and as a body wash for the big girls. The big girls use the shampoo and conditioner.

Tubby Todd lotion: I have every cream/lotion that they make. Addi and Harper have eczema, and this is the only thing that has helped keep it away. I have their dream cream, all over ointment, and lotion. It’s all great and smells amazing. As long as I stay on top of it, I only need the lotion daily and use the others to spot treat if it flares. The weather changes typically cause a flare.

Whale Rinser: Rinsing hair.. I hate it. With three girls, I rinse a lot of hair! This whale has been a life saver for the past several years. It forms to your child’s forehead, so there is less chance of getting soapy water in their eyes. I say less chance because my kids always move as soon as I start dumping water.

Bath Mat: I like the stability that this mat offers. The dots are raised a little bit, and help stop your child from slipping even more than a regular bath mat.

 

Do you have anything that you would add to this list? Have you tried anything from this list? I’d love to hear your opinions!

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This post contains affiliate links, but was not sponsored in any way.

On Bringing Up Girls

I have been listening to “anthem” songs with my daughters.

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Photo by Meredith Michelle Photography

Songs about finding their worth in Jesus. Finding their beauty in who they are, not what they look like. Songs about being true to who they are. (We love music; singing and dancing obnoxiously) Girl Power songs, I guess. [None of that “The Future is Female” junk.. if the future is female then the human race will cease to exist, just in case you don’t know biology.]

It’s a message that I have needed also. I have never had self-confidence. I’ve never been good at finding my self-worth. I don’t want my daughters to grow up with a mentality that they are not enough.

Someone told Chloe that she looked better without her glasses. She said she didn’t want to wear them anymore. Gosh. Already? She is six for heaven’s sake. My heart broke for her, so we had a long conversation about it. Her uncle told her that one day someone would make fun of her for wearing glasses so she is scared that people will make fun of her for wearing glasses. GLASSES, people. A complete necessity for her– for all three of my daughters.

I tell all of my girls how special they are. I tell them how they are fearfully and wonderfully made; that they are beautiful. That they need to worry more about what their heart is like than what people think of how they look. I want them to know they are strong and capable of anything that they work hard for.

Being a girl was hard enough when I was younger. Now, it’s so much worse. Women of all ages are being bombarded with messages about what beauty is. Hair extensions, eyelash extensions and eyebrow tattoos?! I mean, come on!!! HOW can we teach our girls that inner beauty is more important than outer when we are constantly doing things to alter our appearance? Sex is what sells, apparently. It makes me sick to see the age of these young models posing practically naked. It makes me sick that people are entertained by books and movies about abuse. It makes me sick that this is NORMAL now.

I struggle with fear of the world my daughters will grow up in; the world my niece and nephews will grow up in. It’s so ugly and it’s just getting worse. I am trying to raise them up to a be light in all of the darkness. I want them to not give in to the world’s standards. God’s standard is all that matters.

I feel like I am just babbling on and on. I just have reached a point where I can’t stand all of these thoughts swirling in my head anymore, so I need to put them out there. We need to continue praying for this generation.

 

Any seasoned girl moms have any great Biblical resources for tackling these issues? Obviously the Bible is #1.

Friday Favorites

 

Happy Friday!!!! I thought this day would never come. It has been a L-O-N-G week on the struggle bus. Here are some of my favorite things this week:

This gold sharpie wall! What?! It’s incredible.

These earrings! I love classic pieces with a unique twist.

I think I want some jogger pants. *GASP* If you know me, you know that i don’t wear leggings unless I am miserably sick or one of my kids has been sick. Something about joggers looks really wonderful to me..

I love these sister bloggers (Merrick, Janssen, and Landen). They do a “raiding my sister’s closet” post occasionally, and it makes me so happy. Being one of three girls, it really makes me miss my sisters.

Someone please buy these shoes for me! My mom used to get so upset with me for standing on the backs of my shoes. These are MADE to do that?! What?!?!?!? Life changing.

I hope you have a fantastic weekend, friends! 

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Flowers, Brooms, and Illness

It is past 1:30 in the morning. I haven’t slept a wink. Harper has been getting sick. I took her to the doctor yesterday because she has been limping for a couple of days. It just keeps getting worse. Basically, there isn’t anything they can do because she is not acting like she is in pain and everything is moving the way it should. It’s just a “call if it gets worse or continues” situation, which frustrates me to no end.

We have had so much sickness in our house that I haven’t been to youth group for weeks.

Update: she woke up while I was typing. She stayed awake until almost 5:30 getting sick and then fell asleep on me. My poor girl.

February is ALWAYS a month full of sickness for our family. I don’t know what it is. I am just praying that my TWO oil diffusers with Armor are going to keep the germs from spreading to my other children; or Scott/myself.

Moving on.

How was your Valentine’s Day?


Scott surprised me with a beautiful bouquet of colorful flowers and hand-made cards from him and the girls. I loved it. I also had a ginormous broom and dustpan! (Seriously, I REALLY wanted this, so my day was made.) Scott got pale pink roses for the girls and some and. We made them cards. It was lovely.

Chloe had dance class, so after she was done I walked with her to a local specialty chocolate shop. She picked out a piece for her sisters and I picked for Scott and I. She always misses out on our downtown adventures when she is in dance class, so I think she really enjoyed getting to do that.

The day itself was actually pretty chaotic, and I was so relieved to make a nice dinner for my family and just settle down for the night. Once the kids were in bed, Scott and I watched our traditional Valentine’s Day movie.

Did you do anything special for V-Day?

Please do hold Harper in your prayers. She is still feeling miserable and limping worse today than she had been. 

To My Valentine

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Sometimes we get so caught up in the day to day that we forget to really see each other. We are drowning in laundry, dishes, meals, errands, schedules.. you name it.. Last night, I stopped and really looked at you and my heart skipped a beat. You still take my breath away after all of these years. I can’t believe that God has given you to me.

We have spent the past (almost) fourteen years together. We have seen each other through the hard years of high school. The even harder years of college. We had a beautiful wedding. We have brought three beautiful girls into the world. We have mourned the loss of a child that we never got to meet. We have been through the loss of jobs; wondering how we will ever be able to afford the groceries we need to feed our family or make ends meet. We have been on trips to many beautiful states. We have celebrated together. We have cried together. We have fought together. We have eaten a lot of ice cream together.

You have supported me through it all. You have been a shoulder to cry on when hard diagnosis came, when difficult news came, and when life just got too hard. You pull me out of darkness that I let myself get sucked into. You don’t ever give up on me. You make me laugh. You remind me that life isn’t always fair, but God is always good. You dream beside me. You take care of me.

I am so deeply and incredibly thankful for you. I am blessed and honored to be your wife.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

 

Glimpses of Summer

We had warm weather show up this weekend. It was so glorious!!! I ended up forgetting my phone (which is my camera) for most of it, so I don’t have many pictures. Being unplugged was really refreshing though.

The mornings were cool and still called for long sleeves, but it would warm up by the afternoon (or earlier). Harper is LOVING her new puppy. She says “Awwwwwww, Rocci” and stares at him while he sleeps.

We took a couple of long walks on Friday. The first was just around our neighborhood and to the Casey’s for cappuccino and cookies. Chloe rode her scooter. She stresses me out a bit because she still doesn’t steer very well, so she goes towards the center of the road. Hopefully that stops soon. Our second walk, we ditched the scooter and instead let the big girls trade off on who walked Rocci and who rode in the wagon with Harper. We walked over to one of the many parks in town. The girls had a blast climbing and playing. All of the other kids and parents on the playground loved petting the puppy. Socializing our awkward homeschooled pup.

Kidding.

Saturday morning we played outside. It warmed up REALLY quickly, so we ended up digging out summer clothes. I think it got up to 85 degrees. It was magnificent!! Scott and I worked on cleaning up the yard some more. Those stupid leaves are everywhere!!! There are a lot of overgrown weeds that have turned woody. They are grown all through the fence. We had trimmed them down a few weeks ago, so Scott was trying to clean up that mess while I raked the leaves.

After lunch, we loaded our zoo up and went to walk a really pretty part of the path here. Harper insisted on walking. Chloe and Addi once again took turns holding the leash. Harper walked probably a mile and a half. She was pretty pooped by the end of it. We all were.

I was able to go to the grocery store alone on Sunday, which was really fantastic. I bought our groceries for the next two weeks, and it feels REALLY good to see a fully stocked fridge/freezer/pantry again. It’s been a while. haha!

It felt so good to get out in the sunshine. Especially after I have been confined to the house with my own sickness and sick kids. I think it was healing, because Harper’s fever finally went away and I stopped having to blow my nose every 2 seconds. The sinus pressure is still there, which is super annoying, but I feel tons better. It’s time to regain control of the house. (Though my husband stepped up and took care of a lot while I felt so miserable.)

It was such a wonderful and refreshing weekend. The past several weeks have had full weekends that have left us feeling exhausted. It was nice to just do family for the weekend.

 

Growing our Family

..by four paws..  Hey, it could have been so much worse.. Like puppy paws with all of our feet or something..

 



This sweet boy was brought home from the shelter today. We are technically fostering him right now, but I am feeling 100% sure that we will finalize his adoption on Tuesday after he gets neutered. Our SPCA does a Foster2Adopt program, and that is what he is currently in.

He is so sweet and playful. He is 3 1/2 months old, so all puppy. We’ve been down the puppy road before, so we know the drill. Thankfully, he sleep SO much better than our first pup did. She was fresh from her Mama and would cry all night. Nothing soothed her. This guy was in the shelter, in a foster home, and brought back to the shelter. He was just happy to have a comfy bed to sleep on.

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The girls are absolutely smitten with him. They want to help feed him and give him water. I love seeing it.

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Harper is the only one who will sit still long enough for me to take a picture.

His name was Rascal at the shelter, but we didn’t really want to keep it that way. Harper and I have been sick, so we missed church last night. Once Scott came home from youth group, we talked names. We ultimately decided on Rocci (pronounced Rocky). Rocci was his grandmother’s maiden name, and we always thought it would be neat to incorporate into a boys name if we ever had that chance. When Scott asked his mom about it, she was really excited. She would have turned one hundred last week, so it seems like a nice tribute to her.

We have been wanting to add a dog to our family for quite some time now. I should probably say that I have been wanting to. haha! We wanted to go with an older dog because the energy/chewing/potty training would be over with. BUT, we have three young kids and need a guarantee that the dog will be good with kids. When he showed up at the shelter, I jumped. I don’t want to buy from a breeder. I did that with Daisy, and she died two years later from a genetic type of kidney failure.

Rocci is settling into our family nicely. We are thrilled to have added him into the chaos; so thrilled that he gets a whole post dedicated to him with terribly lit photos. haha!

Gluten Free/Vegan Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Who doesn’t love chocolate chip cookies?! I love them. I also love oatmeal raisin cookies. Just kidding. I hate raisins. I love oatmeal, however, so I decided to marry the two and see how it went. YUM!

Here is the recipe:

2 1/2 C All Purpose GF flour (I used this brand– this recipe is adapted from the back of the package)
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
16 TBSP Vegan Butter (I used earth balance sticks)
1/2 C white sugar
1 C packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla (make sure its GF)
2 flax eggs (I use this brand– 1 TBSP flax + 3 TBSP water= 1 egg)
2 cups GF/DF chocolate chips (This is the only brand I have found.)
1 cup GF oats

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. While your oven preheats, cream your butter, sugars, and vanilla. Once creamy, beat in your flax eggs. Slowly add in your dry ingredients (except for chocolate chips and oatmeal). Once this is incorporated well, add in your chocolate chips and oats. Mix until everything is completely incorporated.

Drop your cookies 1 TBSP at a time (Get one of these and you will not regret it!). Bake for approx. 12 minutes until the edges start to brown.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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This cookies could definitely be made without the oats if you are not an oatmeal fan, I just really like the texture. You can also use regular butter and 2 eggs, but they obviously would not be vegan.

I already am eating way too many of these cookies, and all three of my girls are big fans! Let me know if you make these!

I love incorporating baking into our homeschool day. Our kitchen gets extra messy with three little bakers, but I wouldn’t trade that for the world.

My brother-in-law lives in another country. He said that the women there do not let their children cook with them because it is too messy. I was a little shocked by that, because I grew up helping my mom in the kitchen, but I am finding that it is more common.

How is it in your house? Do you prefer to do it all yourself? Do you have a crazy messy kitchen?

Valentine’s for Him

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I never know what to buy Scott for Valentine’s Day. I usually get his favorite chocolate and cook his favorite meal at home. We never really went out for the holiday even before having kids.

 Silicone Wedding Band– these seem to be a man-favorite. If you work a job where you can’t wear a typical metal wedding band, these are great. Scott has one that he wears when necessary, and really likes it.

Best Husband mug– Personalized mugs are so fun!

Earbud holder– Ladies, you know how tangled your earbuds get in your purse. Imagine them being in your pocket all day while you walk around. Yikes.

Domino Cube– These brain teasers are always a favorite; sometimes a favorite to hate. Either way, they work well on a desk to help give your man’s brain a little break at work.

Chocolate– I think it’s a myth that women like chocolate more than men; at least in our relationship. If your man doesn’t like chocolate- insert favorite dessert or candy here.

Bacon Bandaids– ok, I’m really stretching here. They are pretty funny though.

 

Man, that was hard. Do you have anything better? Help me out!!