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Weekending

Happy (groan) Monday, friends!

This weekend was part jam-packed and part miserable.

Saturday was Harper’s birthday party. We had invited our families to come over for cake and ice cream. I decorated the house on her actual birthday and thankfully left everything up. Scott worked until 1 while I cleaned the house and got things ready. Chloe had been saying that her ear was hurting some the past couple of days, but nothing terrible. By Saturday, her ear was really tender. As soon as Scott got home, I took her to urgent care to make sure it wasn’t an ear infection. Thankfully it’s just swimmer’s ear. I got home and family started arriving.

I didn’t get a single picture because my hands were full of baby nephew! My younger sister came down to see my mom, and was able to be here for the party with her whole family. My older sister had a house full of teenage girls for my niece’s party and was unable to come. Don’t worry. She filled a card full of confetti for Harper’s birthday, so we still have some remnants of that. She was here in spirit. 😉 I think that Harper had a blast with her cousins and sisters.

By the time everyone left, I was completely sucked of all energy.

I’ve been sick for over a month, and by last week I was struggling to breathe. My allergies turned respiratory infection. The PA said “Usually people come in after one day, not one month!” Thursday I was put on an antibiotic and strong cough medicine, but it wasn’t helping my lung/chest pain and shallow breathing. I couldn’t get through more than a few words without taking a breath. I am so thankful for my husband and his willingness to tell me to go lay down while he cleaned up, got dinner, and got the girls ready for bed.

Sunday morning, I once again went to urgent care. My lungs were hurting, I was really struggling to breathe, and I was coughing more than before. I wanted to make sure I didn’t have pneumonia. My lungs still sound bad, so I was given a strong breathing treatment that made me shake so bad. The nurse had me walk the halls with her while wearing a pulse ox monitor. My oxygen saturation dropped while walking, so she said she MAY transfer me to the ER to check for a blood clot in my lung if the chest x-ray was clear. (cue mini heart attack) My x-ray was clear, so she had me walk with her once again. This time, my oxygen stayed up, so she said a clot wasn’t very likely. I am on a strong dose of prednisone and have to use an inhalor 3 times a day plus finishing the antibiotic and taking cough meds when needed.

I went back home and crawled right back in bed because I was already exhausted. But, I had a date to keep. Early last month, maybe even in May, my niece called me and asked if I wanted to go see a production of High School Musical with her in July. If you don’t know, I’m a ridiculous HSM fan. It came out my senior year of high school. I did show choir. It was just the best. I got out of bed long enough to go to the show with her. There was no way I was missing that.

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She had a slumber party the night before, and looks more tired than her “old” aunt. haha! It was a really good show, and we laughed and talked about her starting junior high soon. I can’t believe that she is so grown up now. She is seriously an incredible young woman, and I love spending time with her.

I spent the rest of the day in bed, and thankfully am feeling slightly better this morning. My mom is having back surgery on Wednesday, and I HAVE to get better fast so that I can help her any way that she needs. Please pray that I kick this and regain strength and energy fast. Pray that my mom’s surgery goes well and FINALLY removes her pain. She’s been suffering for a LONG time and is ready to get back to living.

There is so much happening this week. Ready, set, go!

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Family Friendly Things to do in Central Illinois

Family Friendly Central Illinois

If you find yourself in Central Illinois wondering what there is to do aside from look at corn and soybean fields, look no further. There are some hidden gems sprinkled throughout the area. There are many state parks perfect for hiking and exploring. They are all pretty kid friendly since the land is so flat!

I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite places to visit; some are just on our list to see.

History

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Lincoln Home National Historic Site

New Salem

Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

Illinois State Capitol

 

Water

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Indoor Aquatic Center

Knights Action Park

Anderson Park and Aquatic Center

Clinton Lake

Lake Shelbyville

 

Farm Life

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Okaw Valley Orchard

Monticello Railway Museum

Prairie’s Edge Farm

 

Animal Fun

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Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch

Miller Park Zoo

Scovill Zoo

Henson Robinson Zoo

 

Eat

LaGondola Spaghetti House
Krekel’s
Monical’s Pizza

 

I’ll be sure to update as we explore and discover more fun.

If you have a favorite place that is not on this list, will you let me know? We’d love to explore more!

 

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Happy Birthday Harper

It is hard to believe that it has already been four years since this sweet girl was placed on my chest for the first time. She is our rainbow. The light that came from a lot of darkness and heartbreak.

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A birthday interview with the 4 year old

1. What is your favorite color?   blue, pink, and purple
2. What is your favorite toy?   hmm.. Skye
3. What is your favorite fruit?   hm marshmallows
4. What is your favorite tv show or movie?   hm I love the ninja one
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch?   hm macaroni
6. What is your favorite game?   Harper
7. What is your favorite snack?   how about.. I do love yummy popcorn
8. What is your favorite animal?   a bunny hoppity
9. What is your favorite song?   a ninja song
10. What is your favorite book?   um ninja book
11. Who is your best friend?   hm Mommy and Daddy I love mommy and daddy
12. What is your favorite cereal?   um hm night night cereal
13. What is your favorite thing to do outside?   um go in the pool and sim (swim)
14. What is your favorite drink?   water
15. What is your favorite holiday?   ugh i don’t know
16. What do you like to take to bed with you at night?   my cute little skye
17. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?   don’t know
18. What do you want for dinner on your birthday?   hm my cake
19. What do you want to be when you grow up?   hm go sleep
20. What makes you feel happy?   hugging a star

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Harper is obsessed with ninjas and frequently asks “do you want to see my ninja moves?” She loves all things Paw Patrol and is obsessed with her baby cousin. She specializes in sneaking things out of the fridge and making crazy messes, all while being so adorable that it’s hard to be mad at her. She jumps and dances around so much that it’s hard to get a picture of her these days.

She gives the best hugs and kisses, and is still a mama’s girl. She doesn’t talk to many people. Her hair has gotten really curly, but those curls often get smooshed by her glasses. She would spend all day in the water if she could.

Harper Michelle, you are the sweetest little nugget and I couldn’t imagine our family without you in it. Happy 4th Birthday!! Now, stop growing up.

 

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Ice Cream Safari Save

We had a full weekend here. Saturday morning, my older sister and I did a “fun run/walk” that was to raise money for the St. Jude team of runners in our area. I had to shop and re-stock after having a pretty bare kitchen. We ate leftovers before we went to Michigan, and ate sandwiches for lunch every day. haha!

Sunday, there was an ice cream event at the zoo. We planned to go. We decided to pack a picnic lunch and just go to the zoo straight after church. When we got to church, I started getting a shooting pain through my neck. Every time I would sing, I’d feel all of the congestion in my sinuses vibrate, which is just miserable and weird.

We headed to the zoo after church. We decided to eat our picnic lunch outside of the zoo so the kids would eat. False. They still were too distracted. We went in the zoo, and things fell apart almost instantly.

All of us have had allergy issues, not just me. I’m not sure if things have progressed from just allergies to sinus infections, or if the exhaustion finally caught up with everyone. It was disastrous. Everyone was grouchy. Harper got really upset about us walking away without putting sprinkles on her ice cream. (None of us knew she wanted them, but we should have.) She was crying so hard and I could hear the sound in her voice.. croup was trying to weasel its way into her body. Really, I think she has asthma, but our doctor in Michigan has STILL yet to send her records. The doctor here won’t see her without them. Mama bear is about to roar.

We only made it to two of the ice cream stations and didn’t see many animals. We still had train tickets from months ago that the girls have looked forward to using. We decided to end on a good note, ride the train, and then bounce. I’m glad we ended that way instead of dragging screaming children out of the zoo.

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Everyone walked away with smiles on their faces. We stayed home since everyone felt so miserable. I spent a little time cleaning up the school room while the kids relaxed and Scott worked on a project.

Today, the kids are taking it easy and lounging on the couch.

I’m scoping out Amazon Prime Day deals, and will be sharing them over on my facebook deals page. I’d love to have you join and let me know what you are on the lookout for.

 

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Faithful in Every Moment

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We spent the weekend and early part of the week in Michigan, if that wasn’t obvious from my last post. No, we aren’t moving back. Scott’s former boss invited him up to preach like he did last year during the pastor’s vacation, and he happily and excitedly said yes. We’ve been looking forward to it since we found out that we were going. That church and those people were so good to us. They are some of our dearest friends. Really, they are family.

This trip was so good for us. Our family has been through a lot over the past several years. It was really good to get away and recharge, even if it was only a couple of days.

We spent most of Saturday in the car traveling. We took the girls to a park to play and get their energy out after eating dinner. Sunday, we excitedly got ready for church and spent the day being overwhelmed with love. I already shared about Monday in Port Huron, and Tuesday was another travel day. We did a pit stop at the camp ground where Pastor and his wife were vacationing and spent a few hours with them. We love them dearly.

Getting to step back into the ministry role and being reminded of how much we LOVE doing ministry was so good. That– full time ministry– is our end goal. So many people act shocked when we say we aren’t staying where we are. I mean, if the Lord opened a door here, then we’d follow His leading. But, full time ministry is the end goal.

We know that we are where God wants us right now for this time. But, we also are incredibly unsettled because we know it’s not permanent. It’s a very confusing place to be. It’s a place that you truly can’t understand without living it yourself. I have always said that my responsibility as a mother is to make everywhere we are a home for our girls. In ministry, moves happen frequently, and nothing ever feels truly settled. I want our home to be the landing place where we and the kids feel safe and comfortable. I’m not sure how successful I’ve been at that. The girls do talk about missing the places we used to live… other than our tiny apartment. No one has missed that. haha!

I guess that is part of what I love about homeschooling. Even if we move in the middle of the year, their school is the same. Nothing about that changes for them. It’s the one thing that can be a constant. (There is so much more that I love about homeschooling, but that’s just a perk.)

Something that has surprised Scott and I the most is how much we actually miss living in Michigan. Maybe it’s that all of our babies were born there. Maybe it’s that we have spent most of our adult lives there. Maybe it’s the fond memories. Or, maybe is just that it’s SUCH  a beautiful state. I don’t know. But, if God opened a door to go back there (hopefully in a much safer area) we’d be thrilled. I am always up for a new adventure though. I love exploring new places, and that’s the fun side of moving. Packing is the pits, but discovering new places and making new friends is such an adventure.

I have no clue where I’m going with this. I’ve just had so many thoughts flowing through my brain this week. I’m grateful to be near family. I love them a ton. But, I am also restless for what God has next. I’m working on just being present in the exact moment that God has me in. I’m here for a reason, and God will open the next door when it’s time. I need to focus on what He wants from me TODAY. I want to be faithful in every moment.

 

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I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
    out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
    making my steps secure.
 He put a new song in my mouth,
    a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
    and put their trust in the Lord.
Psalm 40:1-3 (ESV)

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Port Huron, Michigan

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In our 7+ years of living in Michigan, Port Huron is my favorite place that we got to explore. The water is so beautiful and blue. You can see right down to the bottom. Just across the water is Canada. In fact, the Blue Water Bridge to/from Canada was over us when I took this picture.

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The girls always call Lake Huron the ocean, which cracks me up. It’s bluer than the Atlantic Ocean, and it’s unsalted. It quite literally takes my breath away every time we pull up to the water and I catch a glimpse. I could sit and stare at it all day.

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We sat and took it all in for a while before we headed to grab lunch. Our favorite place to go is the Raven Cafe. They have SUCH delicious food, and it’s in such a cool building. We used to go when we lived in Michigan, and have returned every time we visit the area. It’s that good. The people are that awesome.

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There is art everywhere.. I love the whole vibe of the place. They have the best grilled reuben. Their chai tea chiller is so good. So, so good.

Once we devoured lunch, we headed to the beach. One thing that you NEED to know about Port Huron beaches is that most of them are rocky. Water shoes are needed if you want to be able to move comfortably. I wore my Tevas in the water without problems. Scott ended up putting on socks to dull the pain. It seriously is SO painful if you aren’t prepared. ha!

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Since the beach sits close to where the river begins, you get to see tons of huge barges coming and going.

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This particular beach sits next to the Fort Gratiot lighthouse. We have yet to go up in it since we never remember that you have to wear close toed shoes. Who wears those to the beach?

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We moved up the coast a little bit and found a tiny slice of beach that was practically empty. It is a public beach sandwiched between two sections of private beach. It’s not as rocky, and the water didn’t have the same current as the bigger beach.

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Soak that in. The clear water. The beautiful rocks beneath. The blue.. so much blue. Every time we go, I fall more and more in love. I have seen three of the five great lakes, and Lake Huron is my favorite so far.

I hope that if you are ever in Michigan, you can visit Port Huron. If you do, you must stop in at the Raven Cafe! Also, find this house and if it’s ever for sale let me know!

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I will share more about our trip another day. For now, you can soak in the ten million pictures of this beautiful city with me.

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Friday Favorites

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1. CSA- This week was a gooooood week! There’s so much squash. I am hoping that it will still be good when we get home from our trip this weekend. I love that we get the chance to try some different vegetables that I wouldn’t typically buy at the grocery store. There’s nothing like fresh from the farm veggies!

2. PRIME DAY!! July 16th is Amazon Prime Day!! While the rest of the blogging world is pumped about the Nordstrom Sale, I’m psyched for Prime day.  If you haven’t joined my deals & steals group on Facebook, jump over there and do so. Take the poll and let me know what kind of deals you want me to hunt down for you.

3. I snagged this cookbook when it was on sale, and I am SO GLAD I did. Danielle said that out of all of her cookbooks, this is the one she would recommend most if you had to pick one. I’m so excited to have foods that I can eat for every holiday. These recipes will be used year round. The price has gone up a little since I got it, but it’s still on sale if you want to grab it, too.

4. I made these muffins and put them in the freezer. I pull one out for breakfast, or whenever I feel like it. You can throw it in the microwave to heat up or just let it thaw.

5. The second season of Anne with an E is FINALLY on Netflix today. I loved the first season and have been (im)patiently waiting for the next one for over a year. I’m so excited to watch. Have you watched it?

6. This kitchen. All the heart eyes. (I really love Holly’s Instagram account.)

 

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! I am trying to get everything packed for my family and our trip to Michigan. I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by it all, even though I started my list WEEKS ago. I also have to pack all of our dog’s stuff so he can party with my Dad while we are gone. I hate coming home to a messy house, so I’m also cleaning all the things. Send coffee.

 

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Red, White, & Blue

Happy “every parent is dog tired” day. Anyone else’s neighbors shooting off fireworks until way too late?

Tuesday morning, I saw that the recreation department was doing a fun event for kids at a park down the street. It was 20 minutes until it started, so I rushed the girls to get dressed and we power walked there. They got to decorate t-shirts, do a craft, and decorate cookies– all for free! So rad! I shared it with my sister, and she came also! Hooray for cousin/sister time!

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We had our big celebration on Tuesday night. Our town has always had “Blue Ribbon Days” on July 3rd. Last year, we had just moved to down a week before. I wasn’t prepared for anything. My mom and sister brought fun things for the girls to have while we were there, and I was so grateful. This year, I bought red, white, and blue glowsticks in advance and packed loads of water and snacks.

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Someone was scooping free ice cream, so of course we hit that table up. (shout out to my wipeable Gathre mat for allowing me to not stress about sticky situations)

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The fireworks were a huge hit. Harper got up halfway through and started dancing and singing a fireworks song. There was a lot of squealing from our group. I love getting to go to this event with my family. It was a favorite memory from my childhood, and it’s really special to share it with my own children.

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Are you even a girl mom if you don’t have matching holiday nails?

 

Confession time: I slept nearly half of the fourth away. I have been battling what I think are allergies straight from Satan himself… or a sinus infection? I spend most of the nights coughing and barely sleeping. On Tuesday night, I took a lot of benadryl. I woke up at 3 AM coughing again and took some more benadryl. I didn’t join the land of the living until almost 11 AM… I’m sure I coughed all night again and didn’t get rest, but I felt like I was in a coma.  I’m good with not remembering the misery. I’m praying our trip to Michigan will give me some relief.

Scott was the grill master for our Fourth of July lunch and dinner. He made kebabs for lunch. Yum. Grilled pork chops and peaches were on he menu for dinner! He loves to grill, and I love that the house doesn’t heat up. We had gluten free patriotic cupcakes for dessert.

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They aren’t Pinterest worthy, but the girls loved them and they taste great– which is really all that matters. We had a pretty calm day and played on the slip n slide until our neighbor came out yelling and dropping f-bombs every three seconds while trying to build a table.  We hustled the girls inside pretty quickly.

Now, we are moving on to the rest of “birthday season” for us. Harper turns four in a few weeks, and I cannot deal. She wants another Paw Patrol party, so I’d better get busy.

 

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holiday, kids, recipes

Fourth of July Fun

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I love the 4th of July. I love dressing in red, white, and blue. I love doing fun crafts and themed food! I love holidays, and have passed my love on to my daughters. Addi has been planning cupcakes for what feels like months! Here is a round up of some fun things you can do or make for the 4th of July with little time to prepare!

 

Recipes

The easiest desserts are the classic bomb pops! They are so good, easy, and fun.

Festive Red, White, & Blue Bark

Firecracker Jello Snacks

Fourth of July punch

Tie-Dyed cake

Firecracker Popcorn

Berry Trifle

Cheese and Fruit Platter

 

Crafts

Patriotic Pom Pom Garland

Patriotic Ribbon Wand

Parade Wands

Slime

Paper Lanterns

Fairy Crowns

Patriotic Necklaces

 

Decorations

Painted Yard Stars

Painted Burlap Banner

Photo backdrop

Pool Noodle Firecrackers

 

Fun

scavenger hunt

Bingo

Bean Bag Toss

Squirt Gun Races

Tin Can Toss

 

 

Our local fireworks show is tonight, and we can’t wait. I hope that everyone has a SAFE and happy fourth of July. Remember that our freedom was never free.

 

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5 Toddler Must-Haves

 

toddler must haves

 

sound machine // We use one at home and every time we travel. It helps them feel more comfortable to have something familiar. Bonus: if they have older siblings, it drowns out their noise.

Munchkin Miracle cup // Stainless steel doesn’t break and keeps their drinks cold for hours. This cup doesn’t spill unless dropped juuust right. Even then, it’s much less than with any other cup– maybe a small splatter.

stroller // Toddlers have found their independence. But, you will reach a point where you’re about to lose your mind. You will want to put them in a stroller and bribe them with a snack to stay there. Snack trays and cupholders are a must, which is why I don’t own an umbrella stroller. haha! This stroller is my absolute favorite, and I’ve used an embarrassing amount.

Indestructibles books // These are so good for keeping toddlers entertained at restaurants, doctors appointments, and in the car. The pages can’t be torn, and if they spill food all over the book, you can throw it in the wash.

High chair // The boon flair was my favorite high chair when Harper was a toddler. I actually regret selling it because she gets down from the table SO. MUCH. (Check out the “open boxes” for a really great deal.) Save your sanity and get a high chair that can last for a long time.

 

 

To sum it up– you need products that will help trap your toddler, and entertainment that they can’t destroy. Tell me what else you would add to this list! I always love hearing what other parents love!

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