Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Fun Teacher Gifts

School started this week for us! Could I get a virtual high five for surviving a summer with 3 young ones under the age of 5?  I send one out to all of you who are also in the same boat....a sometimes very rocky and unpredictable boat. ;) From what I can remember of it (funny how those past 3 months can turn into such a blur) we went to the park a lot. I even earned myself a blister on one of my hands from all of the jogging I did with Elyse! I've never been a great runner, so this was pretty big for me. I hope to keep it up for the next couple of months while we still have the good weather....I love what a great energy booster exercise is! Anyway- with school back in session, I like putting on my creative hat to think up some fun, thoughtful, easy, and inexpensive teacher gifts. Below are some shots of what I came up with (also click here for one done in years past).....


Teacher stamps and burlap sack, Target (placemats shown in background are also from Target!)
Rainbow Color Box stamp pad, Michaels
Chalkboard clothespin sign, Michaels
Giftcard to Apple Spice Cafe

Favorite quotes from Benjamin's teacher ~ "Kindergarten requires patience. Lots and lots of patience." and "I believe in teaching above the child's level as children will rise to the occasion!"

Almond Joy candy bar and the saying "Grant is so "JOY"ful for Preschool!"
Chalkboard clothespin sign, Michaels


Monday, August 17, 2015

Have to Share This


Found my daughter's shoes left out on our front stoop and I had to take a picture of them. Thoughts going through my head were..."Oh, I love how cute and little her feet are" and "I hope she never outgrows these!" Normally I'm fine with our children growing up....I know I've been there for every step of the way! But- that day these feelings caught me and took hold. Maybe because she's our youngest? Maybe because this is the first time we've had a 2 year old without another child on the way? I remind myself that I'm happy. We're blessed with 3 wonderful children. And how I GET TO spend my days raising them while learning more and more about them and myself.

Today I came across this article from this blog and I couldn't believe how much it instantly spoke to me....right to my heart. Tears flowed....still flowing in fact. ;) I want to write to the author and let her know that she put to words EXACTLY what I've been experiencing over the past 6 years as a mama. So true and so touching. Finding good-for-the-soul articles like these are what keep me in the blogosphere.

Last month when we were at my extended family reunion, the cousins of the youngest generation (the one I'm in) were asked to stand up and introduce themselves. When my turn came, I stumbled a bit which normally isn't like me! I'm normally very planned and together....but at this moment I was distracted and caught of guard...probably tired too. I think I said something like...."I'm a mom of 3 children age 5 and under---who I'm sure you've all seen running around here somewhere! My husband and I have been married for almost 8 years and we live in Logan, Utah." I later was kinda hard on myself about it...thinking why didn't I mention that I write?! Why didn't I at least list the names of my 3 children, why didn't I share what my husband does? These are all things that we've worked very hard at and are important, so why didn't I represent our family better? I know, kinda dramatic but I guess I was having one of those moments that made me think about how I may have been perceived on the outside was differently than how I feel about myself on the inside. After reading the above linked article, I no longer regret how I chose to describe myself because I too think being a mother is my best quality!

"When someone asks me to describe myself, I first say, "I am the mother of two boys," and that is no mistake. It's not because of regret or a confused response that I don't put myself first. It is my immediate response because it is my best quality -- not because it defines me. I am many other things. It's my best quality because what I continue to endure as a mother makes me feel strong. Every time I let go, every time I allow them to be who they are and go easier on myself, I feel amazing. It takes a warrior to love someone this much, and not completely lose your mind in the process.

If you are a mother, a soon-to-be mother, or a woman with the unstoppable desire to become a mother, prepare yourself for a lifetime of anguish and heartache. Prepare for disappointments, regrets, and feelings of helplessness at times. Prepare to be forced into reflection and constant change. Prepare to be the strength and the rock, and to love someone so much it causes pain. Prepare to be painfully astonished at how complete you feel because of it. That tiny human you created unknowingly forces you to become the best version of yourself. 

Over time, he or she is the protector of your life, the healer of your wounds, and the reason you feel completely safe. Our greatest victories in life come from those for whom we've worked the hardest. And that is why I will always be a mother first.

Because it tells the world I am a warrior."

I know how powerful life can be while staying present- not looking behind or ahead. Life has so many wonderful moments waiting to be discovered and I choose to do so with joy in my heart and satisfaction in my soul.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Colorado Adventure

We just got back from a 5-day adventure through the Colorado Rockies. It was our first big road trip with all 3 kiddos and even though our van is now a complete disaster (I'm soooo procrastinating on cleaning it! :O)- I'd say we all did pretty good and have my parents to thank for keeping us sane. ;)

When we took the kids out to NY a few years ago for my brother's wedding, I learned that less planning is usually better....just concentrate on maintaining the basics (such as keeping every one fed, changed, rested, and happy) and the rest will fall into place and that's pretty much how things went for us on this trip too.

 I am a huge fan of art museums. Ever since I can remember I've always been drawn to them and the Denver Art Museum (shown below) did not disappoint...even if we were one day early for the Monet exhibit :(.
LOVE LOVE LOVE these quotes currently featured at the museum.....

"What I need most are flowers, always and always."  

and

"I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers." 

- Claude Monet 

Now that we have children, I love seeing them discover art and this museum had many hands-on activities for children (and adults!) to paint, draw, and create things.


My thoughts on the city of Denver: It's BIG. WAAAAY bigger than I thought it would be! It also has a lot of excellent museums and a ton of restaurants (although this one in Vail was our fave!), reminding me a lot of Chicago. The second museum that we made it to was The History of Colorado Museum which is also fantastic for children....who doesn't love an entire floor of TOYS?! (their current exhibit). Places we wanted to go to but didn't have the time were The Money Museum (our boys are currently obsessed with coins right now) and The Aquaruim- which is also a restaurant!  

We also had a wonderful time visiting with family (this trip was also a family reunion on my mom's side) and meeting extended family members of mine from all around the U.S.


Funny happenings along the way:
  • Getting as far as Ogden (1 hr away south of Logan) before boys were already in need of a potty break.
  • Grant painting himself with chocolate....this guy is resourceful!
  • Stopping at a Subway sandwich shop for lunch in Price, UT, only to hear Benjamin's disappointment when it wasn't a REAL subway (as in an underground train).
  • Elyse stuffing pretzel sticks into her water bottle....guessing she liked watching them expand? We're still not sure....
  • Diapers doubling as paper towels (they're actually MORE absorbent!) in a pinch (aka water spilling throughout our vehicle).
  • Hearing the infamous question of "Are We There Yet?" 1 million times (no joke).
  • The city of Denver turning into Gotham City at night from the view of our hotel room window and all of the children planning their attack on The Joker....(click here to see where the Joker was hiding out)
  • Finally getting the road warrior (aka Bart) to stop driving and let us stay the night in Laramie, WY and my Dad coming up with the motto of ....."The Adventure Continues...."
  • Benjamin repeatedly calling Wyoming- Wynomie....don't know why but this is still hilarious to us....guess this is what hours in a car will do to you.
  • When we randomly pulled over for yet another kid potty break, my Dad joked that it was so Bart could check out another mountain he hadn't seen yet (my husband is obsessed with the West, even though I kept reminding me that we live in it!).



Hope you all have a fun 24th of July this weekend here in UTAH....I still will probably be recovering our van from the traveling aftermath and trying to catch up with laundry! I guess family trips are equal parts work + fun. ;)




Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Complexities


I love this above cartoon by Cathy Thorne. While joyous and satisfying- parenting is round the clock hard work! Instead of me going on a rant of what a typical day-in-the-life here is like, I'll just say that I can very much relate with the above image as I try to do the BEST job that I can- challenges and all.

Never did I know this role as a mother would require so much patience, understanding, and preparedness from me EVERY DAY, but I do see how it's possible for me to navigate our family of 5 people (5 very different people I might add) through the complexities of every day life and still come out alright. My secret? Lots of forgiveness and early bedtimes (easier said than done, I know! :O).

Today I am reminding myself that I am capable. Like everyone, I make mistakes and that's okay. I know that most of the times I keep a positive attitude, am tuned into what brings me joy (as well as what I need to cut out), and consider myself very present in the lives of people who matter to me.

While questions about myself have arose in my head after having children, my children have also brought out a perseverance and dedication in myself that I never knew existed. I am propelled to keep going because I know that right now there's nothing more important than raising these 3 young souls....and a trying mama too.



Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Let's Have Our Cake and Eat it Two!

They say with each child the time flies by faster and I say I'd have to agree. Our youngest turned 2 last week and we're still trying our best to keep up with how fast she's changing, growing, and learning!

Here's some pics from her simple & sweet cupcake themed b-day gathering. Thank you to all of you who joined us in the celebration!

 Logan has a really cute cupcake shop called Temptation Cupcake. It was the perfect place to have her birthday gathering at because simple and easy was exactly what I had in mind for our busy and sweet 2 year old little girl. ;)

Here's a close up of the Mary Engelbreit party decor that I already had on hand....found at Michaels Craft store.

Love the beautiful selection they always have....they're of course delicious too!


Here's a close-up of the party invites that I made. I simply used these circle cards from Paper Source for the cake part, then trimmed them to fit some ribbed cardboard that I shaped for the cup part, along with these square envelopes, and voila- a DIY cupcake card!

 Party gifts carried the cupcake theme with mini gift bags that had a Build Your Own Cupcake sticker book (so that the kids could decorate their own cupcake) and a little cupcake bubble necklace all found online from Amazon.

Friday, June 12, 2015

CHANGES


After processing the cost of new carpet ($$$!!!) in our basement, I decided to dig deep in my designer file cabinet (which is actually my brain) to try and come up with a better solution. A solution that would be more budget friendly while still providing us with all the look and comfort of beautiful carpet (don't act like you don't sometimes stop at Home Depot or Lowes and pet the carpet samples....it's okay, that's what they're there for). Sooooooo, we're thinking of possibly installing FLOR carpet tiles ourselves in our basement. A place that we like to hang out and watch tv in, play ping pong in, and learn in. They so far seem to fit the bill with what we're looking for....playful, cool, and perhaps best of all, easy to fix simply by replacing a square if when they get damaged. You can also order them as a rug!  I'll be sure to keep y'all posted on what we decide.

I recently began incorporating fish back into my diet (just 1-2x per week). It's been 15 years since I've had fish (aside from a daily fish oil supplement) but so far so good, make that really good. The need for this came on once I started working out more....it's like my body was officially telling me: EAT SOMETHING OTHER CARBS! And I listened. Favorite fish product right now are these Wild Alaskan Salmon patties from Sams Club which I like to cut up and put over a mixed green salad with Zesty Italian dressing....yum. yum. I still have no interest in any red meat, chicken, or turkey and still consider myself a vegetarian. A vegetarian who is doing what I can to stay healthy and take less from animals (this includes avoiding products that unethically treat animals) and our earth's resources. I'm glad this awareness is present in our children too.

Bought our sons some Nerf guns. My husband and I (okay, me) have been on the fence about them for some time, but after a long while (like a year) of them repeatedly asking, school getting out across our neighborhood, and the two of them looking older lately (okay, I just threw in that last one) we gave in and so far they've been listening and behaving well with them, but I would like my "I told you so" to be on the record if someone gets hurt! :O

Hearing the word literally so frequently lately has been driving me a bit nutty....reading this article let me know that I'm not alone. Since when did someone decide that it's possible for definitions of words to change?

LOVE this clip (you really should watch it....it's hilarious!!!) that my friend Sam shared from comedian Michael McIntyre about the changes that occur once one becomes a parent. My husband and I both were quoting lines of it at dinner the other night....while sighing and saying "So, so true, so, so true."


That's it. Hope you all have a fun weekend. We're going to do some Farmer Marketing and I've got plans to catch a movie + frozen yogurt with my girlfriends. Gotta love those relax and do whatever kind of summer weekends!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

To try...


Kids first time BOWLING!
Taking on a better perspective around here and giving myself big boosts of "YOU CAN DO THIS!" attitude because even with the monsoon of rain we've been having and less of a schedule for my kids, I'm choosing to enjoy our days- whatever they're filled with! This blog has given me a lot of good mothering and yougogirl! things to think about too.

These fun ideas for Kid Science Activities (we tried the Marshmellow Launcher one, it was easy and fun...plus, my boys flip for anything that includes the word "Launch." The kits are amazing too-soooo worth the $!)

This book (haven't read it yet, just heard it was a goodie)

This fake tanner (sworn by fave by Carrie Underwood)

English muffins over bagels (again says Carrie Underwood)

Planting my first flowers. In the ground. As bulbs. This is big for me folks! End of March I picked up a bag of Dahlias from Sams Club and planted them about a month ago....so exciting to see them already popping up!

Saving $. I'm so not good at this but have a goal. After having some water leak into our basement (we've since found a solution of attaching on a extender to our back drain pipe), we NEED new carpet in our family room and I know Home Depot always runs a free install special around Thanksgiving/Early Dec. So, we are saving for that now. As much fun as it is to buy all the other decorating home stuff I heard this rule...."Work from the bottom up" and that we shall do. Maybe by 2017 we'll actually have a sectional down there too. No joke. Until then, my little olive green love seat from my single days and some bean bags for the kids will have to do!


Hope you all had a great Memorial Day weekend. Bart took an extra day off and it was soooo nice to have so much quality family time for 4 whole days!!! Looking forward to more of that feeling this summer.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Our Learning Room

After creating that ever-so-convenient yet perfectly hidden away crafting area for myself in our guest bedroom, the incessant organizer/room changer/teacher wannabe in me came up with this additional use for our space....Welcome to Our Learning Room! 

As you can probably tell, it is still housing a full sized double bed off to the side, but until Elyse is ready for it to be moved up to her room and we get a sectional + fold-out bed for our downstairs family room, it's staying put. Around that time is also when we should be ready to transfer our old dining set down here in the bed's place, so then we'll really have adequate table space and seating to provide all 3 children with a quiet and distraction-free study area in addition to my crafting space.

Pretty much everything in this space we already had...Pottery Barn Kids table and chairs came down from our dining room, desk and desk chair came down from Benjamin's bedroom (Walmart special!), and the easel, wicker rolling cart, and nightstand were already in here just not being used, or used for other things.


Once I saw the space forming into a mini school, I knew we just HAD to have a wipe board. I picked this up at Walmart...I think it was only $20-25. The lesson I was working on when I took the above photo was about shapes. Did you know you can just type in pretty much whatever subject your kids are interested in with the word WORKSHEET after it, and ta da free and printable worksheets appear? I just love the Internet. ;) Another popular lesson/theme for us was the Solar System (I just stuck the above shown planets on with some really awesome stick-on Scotch products...they work so well and worth the extra $!).



Other activities we do in here are learning to tell time, flashcards of the alphabet, shapes, and numbers, phonograms, rhyming, and Brain Teasers. We also have a lot of those wipe down work books, coloring books, learn-to-read books, and various kid friendly craft supplies (thanks to my adjoining craft closet!) at the ready. 

To help teach geography, I found these cool giant sticker posters of the world and the U.S. from Amazon (they truly are amazing, no residue left on walls, peel on and peel off easy to readjust if you don't get it straight the first time, or if your child decides to roll themselves up in it....no joke). One of my favorite additions was these hooks shown above for the kids backpacks! We don't have any space upstairs to serve as a mud room/dump zone, so I'm hoping having this room designated for their school stuff helps detour a lot of the clutter that always seemed to build up upstairs.

Here's a view of the last wall. Benjamin made these alphabet letters last year at his preschool and I just love 'em! They are the perfect size and with their bright colors and creative visuals (each letter has something on it that starts with the letter it's representing), making them a fun way to remember the ABC's and refer to when writing. The Book Table (our local teacher supply store) is where I picked up the number line (adding or subtracting into negative numbers never made sense to me without a number line), days of the week, and months in the year posters.

So glad my children have been enjoying this space as much as I have and HALLELUJAH to keeping the rest of our house less cluttered from all the random crayons, colored pencils, glue sticks, art projects...you name it! I'm all about establishing proper designated zones within a home so that it serves the people who live in it in the most functional and efficient way.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

HypnoBirthing is BACK!


I can't contain my excitement! I just learned that Logan Regional Hospital has brought back their HypnoBirthing Class for expectant parents. For those of you unfamiliar with HypnoBirthing click here or read below for a brief summary. The HypnoBirthing website {recently re-done!} also offers a lot of info such as where classes are being held, what the classes entail, and birth stories from others. Both the book and cd are also available here in case you're not able to attend the class, but I highly recommend the class!

Bart and I attended this class back when we were expecting our first child in 2009 and the whole vibe from the teacher and the rest of the expectant parents in our class was so positive, empowering, and memorable for us. We even wanted to take it again when we were expecting our other children, but for whatever reason it was no longer being offered. But, now it is and the class is just about to begin....dates are: May 19th - June 16th.

SO for those of you who live in Cache Valley and are expecting, or for those of you who even know someone who is expecting, this class offers VALUABLE information and tips on how to stay calm, confident, and connected with your baby and husband during labor. I really can't say enough good things about it other than I'm so glad I had this knowledge to empower myself and my husband through the 3 amazing births we were so lucky to experience.

Hypnobirthing ® The Mongan Method.
This class is designed to teach mothers and their birth companion’s techniques for achieving a safe and satisfying birth experience through relaxation, guided imagery, visualization, and special breathing. Classes will allow women to explore their fears, develop realistic expectations about the birthing process, and instill confidence in their ability to use hypnosis as a technique to minimize or eliminate pain during childbirth. This five-week class meets once a week in the evenings for two and a half hours per session. It is recommended for pregnancies between 15 and 32 weeks.

This program is affiliated with the HypnoBirthing® Institute and is taught by trained and certified HypnoBirthing® Practitioners.

$120 includes expectant mother and partner, the book, HypnoBirthing®, A Celebration of Life and a practice CD.






Date & Time
Tue May 19, 2015 - 6:30 PM
Location
Logan Regional Hospital
Women's and Newborn Center
Main Level classroom #8
Just South of the Gift Shop in the New Women's Center
Logan Regional Hospital
1400 N 500 E
Logan, Ut  84341
Fee
$175 per Couple
Pre-registration is required.  Payment due at time of registration.  No refund will be given if you cancel with less than 48 hours prior to class.  We reserve the right to cancel classes due to low enrollment.        
Contact
Lactation and Prenatal Services
(435)716-2560
Sponsor
Lactation and Prenatal Services
(435)716-2560

Friday, May 8, 2015

Moms We Are



As Mothers we....

try to manage it all
have lost our cool and later felt terrible about it
wish we could be like some other mom in some other way
spend too much money at Kohl's....seriously, every time I leave this place I always ask myself "Why did I even walk in here? It's not like we actually needed any of this!"
care deeply about how our children feel and how we and others impact their lives
believe our children can do anything!
love a good snack
forget...sometimes the same thing multiple times throughout the day
have our bad days
have our Supermom days!
long for a nice long shower/bath in peace and quiet
are blessed beyond belief 
raise children in the best way we can with hopes that they will become the best that they can


Good work Moms to all that we do!

p.s. click here for a cute and quick article about "You and Me Time"