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 multiple times throughout the same 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"



Thursday, May 7, 2015

Taking Notice....




to the allure of Instagram (yes, i know i'm soooo behind the times!) and finding it a funny and clever way to capture and share moments of life. Maybe, just maybe I'll join?

of the new royal baby adorned in ALL WHITE. Complete perfection in my book. Nice to know we're not the only parents on the planet who prefer waiting to find out the baby's gender too! Also loved Kate's happy yellow floral dress. ;)

of my boys wanting more and more to play with their friends....when did Bart and I suddenly become so uncool? This is why when my oldest still asks for me to put him to bed, I do so ever so willingly!

of how smart and ready to go our little Miss Elyse is! She is not quite 2 but already talking in full sentences, picking out her own clothes (she has been struck by the color pink!), and cleaning up after herself and around the house with her mama. I love how us girls know how to get things done!

of my need for a change of scenery. Last Saturday I went down to Salt Lake City ALL BY MYSELF and the drive through Sardine Canyon was like therapy for me. I simply gazed into the green mountains and the blue sky while taking in the curvature of the road and things that I had been dwelling on slowly started to disappear....

of the various ways I can fit in working out into my days and how great it is for me to view this as a NECESSITY!

of how much time I spend loading and unloading the dishwasher OR buying and unloading groceries and I think I could've written a novel with all that time! I don't like to complain, but I think we all could highly benefit from an invention that could wash, dry, and put away dishes and keep food stocked in people's home (just the basics like bread, milk, fruit, and veggies). I know I should be grateful that we have a dishwasher and a kitchen full of food but I'm just not one for so much repetition, you know?

to how wonderfully scrumptious these chocolates are (should be available at any grocery store for around $4 a bag). They're my new MUST HAVE. MUST SHARE.


Ok, that's it for this random Thursday. Hope you're all enjoying M-A-Y! 




Thursday, April 30, 2015

Latest Loves of Spring

I'm always so happy to welcome Spring! My Mother, husband, and I all share May b-days, flowers are in bloom, and the weather is just right.  Here's a quick collection of some of my other favorite things right now...enjoy!



Who doesn't like an adorable pair of Saltwater Sandals? I couldn't wait to buy Elyse her first pair this spring so I went online to Zappos, but just the other day I also discovered that Bella Me boutique (here in Logan next door to Cache Valley Pediatric Dentistry) now carries them too in both little girl and big girl sizes!




From Me To You
I've shared my stamp obsession before (it's right up there with pens and ribbon) and thought this latest stamp + sticker combo is the absolute cutest!!! Since I find the USPS store doesn't always have all of the collections in stock, I like to buy online (only $1 in shipping). 



The best toothbrush for me! I've been on hunt for a toothbrush that meets all of my necessary criteria: soft bristles, not too big of a brush head, and for the handle to have good angle ability and hold. Well, here it is folks ~ Colgate Wave ZigZag ~ super fun name too, right?


Not claiming this Michale Angelo's Eggplant Parmesan frozen meal to be the healthiest- but if you're in need of something very tasty and easy, this is worth a try especially considering how tricky Eggplant Parmesan is to make (for me anyway....).  FYI: the serving size of this little box is actually quite large, so what I usually do is boil up a quick pot of spaghetti noodles and then split the eggplant dish in half so that I can eat half of it again the next day with my remaining side of noodles....so yum.





Last Saturday my husband was out with his buddies golfing for the day so I found a sitter for Elyse and took the boys to see the movie HOME. I'm usually not one for those animated alien movies, but thought this one was pretty cute and silly leaving us all with the giggles (must watch clip here!).  Plus, being the Big Bang Theory fan that I am, I enjoyed Jim Parsons (Sheldon) voicing O's part. Cool song is Dancing In the Dark by Rihanna. Other songs we've been enjoying....Geronimo by Sheppard and Stolen Dance by Milky Chance.


Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!


Friday, April 24, 2015

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: Grant's 4th B-day Party!

Earlier this year, we came across this book entitled The Backyardigans Secret Spy Agents. It was such a hit with my secret spy boys that I thought of the idea to base Grant's 4th b-day around it. The party was super fun, and as always- I really enjoyed putting it all together. Some parents like to make things for their children, such as blankets or clothing....I do parties for mine! :)

INVITATIONS: I forgot to take a pic of them, but I just hand printed them on these blank white puzzles, then broke them apart and put them in envelopes for the children to put together. They were definitely costly to mail, but thankfully we were able to hand-deliver most of them. 

Suspicious looking footprints led the way to our backyard gate where guests were greeted with this:

Homemade signs read: SPIES ONLY BEYOND THIS POINT and MISSION: GRANT'S 4TH BIRTHDAY PARTY!. Yellow tape read: INVESTIGATION IN PROGRESS.

Used more of the yellow tape and red crepe paper across our backyard patio posts. Balloons in yellow, black as well as penguin spy ones from the movie Madagascar were added to each post as well.

I always try to have some type of ice breaker in place for the guests to do while we wait for everyone to arrive. For Christmas my sister gifted us this I SPY game, which fit perfectly with our theme and held the attention of 4 year olds quite well. Mini magnifying glasses were found here for kids to use during their search, as well as double as table centerpieces.

Loved this fun tablecloth (note that the top layer is clear, so as suggested by Oriental Trading Co, I backed it with another tablecloth in solid yellow).

Activity here was for all of the secret agent spies to make their own name badges. I pre-printed the guests names on plain white paper, cut them out, then had the children stamp their thumbprint on it with this inkless stamp pad (figured it could be kinda messy to have kids running around with ink on their fingers!) Second basket contained black gloves for all of the spies to wear when handling the precious diamonds (which was an idea that came from the previously mentioned spy book).


Here's a shot of the cool laser beams Bart created on the fly just about 20 minutes before the party....I just gave him some red string and the garden stakes and told him to think Catherine Zeta Jones in the movie Entrapment. ;) Our secret spies had to carefully step through each laser beam so that they could return the diamonds to the Museum.


Here's a shot of the party table inside. I was beyond thrilled when Lees told me they had the secret agent Madagascar penguins as a cake topper! Also glad I listened to my Mom when she suggested I just order a cake....on busy days like this, it's important to know which things to outsource. ;)

Snack bags and table covering (which is drop paper from Lowes btw) were stamped with this cool TOP SECRET stamp which has also come in handy for the thank you cards. Spy Snack Sacks contained the following:

Pretzel Shields (pretzels), Spy Sticks (carrots), Red Laser Beam Jello (strawberry jellos), Secret Punch (Fruit punch juice packs) and Chocolate Mystery Cake for dessert!

After snacks and cake were served, the secret agents had one last mission to complete...to find their Secret Spy Bags (aka goody bags). I came up with 4 clues (since Grant was turning 4) that I placed ahead of time around our backyard.

At the end, each spy went home with a precious jewel ring pop (yes, even boys like these!), TOP SECRET pencil and notepad.


. Thank you to all of you who joined us as secret agent spies as we celebrated Grant turning 4..........
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!


Thursday, April 9, 2015

Finally...

....a new headboard for us! Last month Downeast Outfitters HOME was having an additional 10% off all of their headboards and I knew instantly that this Houston style in Natural tweed fabric (which is upholstered all the way down the floor btw) was exactly what I'd been hunting for all these years. Perfect height, perfect quality, perfect shape. Read all about our previous headboard purchase gone wrong 3 years ago here.....


Lamp shades in tan ticking fabric from Pottery Barn (purchased back in 2011) silver lamp bases from Lowes
Bedding ~ Nautica comforter. Shams, bolster pillow, and quilt Betthany bedding by Pottery Barn (purchased back in 2011) 

Finally discovered an easy way for me to work-out and I owe all of my thanks to The Gym Box via Amazon. It's kinda funny to watch the expressions on my kids faces while I'm doing the videos....they either read: "Is she actually doing this?" or "We better get out of the way!"


Talked for a long while about setting up a little school in our home but finally did it this week! I will try to share pics sometime. Basically we just moved our Pottery Barn mini kids table and chairs into our guest room/my craft closet room and hung up some fun learning visuals and a wipe board. Bring on summer school with Mrs. Mom as their teacher!

Decided I finally need to cut back on my carb intake. My in-laws gifted us this cool gadget, so hopefully I trick myself and others that vegetables are pasta.

New bedtime routine here! We all used to procrastinate and postpone bedtime. But after my last post, I really did decide I want to be the ones who put our handsome little men to bed. The kids and I have been going to the library for years now, but just recently got into the habit of picking up chapter books to read together (found in the Juvenile Fiction area) and the boys and I now so look forward to this time together every night with all 3 of us scrunched in one of their twin beds. Sorry Bart, I know you loved doing this too, but it's nice for Elyse to have some one-on-one time with her Daddy since I still get to put her down for her naps!


Ok, I am heading back upstairs now....unidentifiable bumps and thumps are occurring and Bart is staying late after work tonight for a meeting so I better do my best with managing our time and keeping us occupied in the right kind of ways for the rest of the day! :O


 p.s. hope you all had a fun EASTER! If you live in Utah, you know how perfect the weather turned out to be on that EXACT day of Easter Sunday. Thurs. and Fri. before...chilly. Monday after, rainy! LOVE all of the epic fun we shared with all of my family as we hunted for eggs, raced with eggs, decorated eggs and had wars with our eggs! Church that day was lovely too followed by family photos taken out in front of our home and Easter brunch on our backyard patio. Oh how I love SPRING and spending good quality time with family....thanks again Aunt Konnie and family for traveling out here!


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

That Moment.

Perpetual boyhood: illustration for Peter Pan by Kathleen Atkins. Illustration: Courtesy of Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity

Watched the movie Finding Neverland the other day (currently on Netflix) and connected with it so much. It's right up there with my favorite children's story...Wynken, Blynken & Nod. I can't predict when certain people, things, sayings will grab me, but when they do it's like they strongly take hold of my soul....quickly sending to me tears. Good tears though. Like when you feel it so much it hurts and feels good at the exact same time.

Favorite quote of the movie...."Little boys should never be sent to be bed because when they do, they're always a day older when they wake up." There are so many bedtimes when both my husband and I are rushing through the motions...they're tired, we're tired...it feels like so much extra work at the end of a long day! But really, bedtime is a magic time...stories are shared, cuddles are had, connections are made. These reasons are reasons enough for me to get into my pj's sooner and just give in to the day!


Other special moments....

Bart brushing our daughter's hair in the middle of the night (after showering due to bouts of her throwing up :O) and telling her she's going to be okay...it just doesn't get any sweeter (she's fine now btw). 

Kids running around (some clothed, some not) in our backyard to the AC/DC song THUNDERSTRUCK...I'm convinced one hasn't lived until they've really let loose to this song.

Benjamin making a chart for Elyse illustrating all of her recent milestones like her...Jumping with both feet! and....Doing the splits!

Grant following suit and drawing a picture of Elyse getting his shoes for him. ;)

Elyse joining us in our bed in the middle of the nights and always instantly falling right back to sleep in between the two of us.

Realizing Elyse will probably be our last...had this moment back while in labor with her but wasn't sure when I'd be ready to share it. In a way, I'm glad that I know this. Other times I get nostalgic about the wonders of pregnancy, exciting joy of welcoming a new being into this world, choosing their name, and changing the dynamics of our family in such cool new ways.... I also know we don't always get to be the decider of these things just the feeler, but right now we feel like we're complete!

Remembering the day I made the decision to stay home with our children for as long as I am needed, and feeling the complete freedom and support to do so.



Go away to Neverland and you won't regret it...it's a beautiful place once you surrender to the imagination, love, and curiosity of children.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

It All Counts



Giving myself points today for making it to the gym this morning, AND squeezing in some time to unload where we're at in this blog post, AND coming up with the idea to get a babysitter for this evening so that Bart and I can spend some time together (sadly our Valentines day plans were cancelled last month so we're making up for it!).

Why points you ask?

Well, around 4 p.m. yesterday I was getting close to the end of my rope on the child raising front so after my husband came home from work, we came up with this new tool to use in our parenting toolbox. Btw- it involves waaaay less drama than time outs and has so far been very effective for our two competitive young boys.

Here's what you do: Get a wipe board/chalkboard/paper + pencil and write your child(ren)'s name on it with 5 points (written like tally marks) under their name. Explain that every day they are given 5 points, but one point is taken away every time a Family Rule is not followed (I made us a Family Rule Chart about 2 yrs ago that I still keep posted up...it lists things like listen the first time, no whining, hitting, or yelling, ask to go outside or in garage, and be nice to your siblings). Doing thoughtful things for their siblings or going above and beyond with something can also earn points. At the end of the day as they're getting tucked into bed and ready to do their show + tell (we always have them do show + tell before stories- they each love having sole attention!), we'll ask them how many points they have left. Bragging rights are HUGE in our house so this is all it took for them to care about it and try their best to follow our Family Rules every day. We'll take it!

Notes on our children:

Benjamin had his kindergarten evaluation this week. Just recently he's become very vocal about how he is sooooo ready for kindergarten and has even tried to have me take him there in the mornings when I tell him it's a preschool day. It feels very special to be experiencing the first of our children to start school (even though we still have 6 more months) and I was so glad I was the one got to take him into his new school for the first time. I could tell he was taking it all just as I did whay back when....asking which desk would be his desk, staring at all the fun things on the walls, asking where the playground is for recess, etc. LOVE that he's at this stage and so eager to keep on learning! He was also sure to share with his teacher and the teacher aides how he has a racing bike and likes to skateboard. That's our Benjamin!

Earlier this week Grant began a Tumbling class on his own. He's actually been taking since Jan. but with his brudder (aka brother). End of last month, Benjamin had officially grown out of it so I told Grant he'd be in his own class now but since these two are so close, I could tell this news was making Grant a bit sad. Benjamin quickly took on the older bro. role and told him he'd stay in his class with him, but I told him we didn't pay for him to be in it this month so Benjamin ran into his room, dumped out all his change in his piggy bank and filled his gym pants pockets up with all his money declaring that he would pay for him to be back in Grant's class! Super sweet of him, but I instead just explained to Grant that we'd all stay today and watch him. ;) It didn't take Grant long to get right in with his new class and the best part was when it was his turn to snake his body through the hula hoop he instead.....jumped through it head first complete with a double somersault at the end! Benjamin, Elyse, and I couldn't help but cheer. That's our Grant!

Elyse is like our little bird. I thought of this similarity one morning when the birds were out singing and she jumped up from eating her breakfast to point outside at them in the trees. Whenever we read books, she likes to point out all the birds while saying "Caw! Caw!" She's also still as light as a feather but always certain which direction she wants to go.....some days it's all about finding out what's in the kitchen cupboards, other days it's chasing after big bro's, other days it's holding her be-be's (baby dolls). Pretty much every day she likes to draw + color! She's also started pointing out letters and sings her very own version of the ABC's. Such a smart and bright young lady with a smile for everyone she sees. That's our Elyse!

I am....
  • planning out our summer (loving that since Grant will soon be 4 he can now take classes + camps together with Benjamin)
  • picking out paint colors to re-paint our family room (last room to remove wallpaper in...hallelujah!)
  • looking forward to Easter
  • creating G's super fun 4th b-day party 
  • enjoying the smells of spring
  • being present in all the days I have to spend with our kids and feeling so thankful that I can take part in so much with them. Although constantly busy, I know it all counts. I feel this in my heart and soul.



Monday, February 16, 2015

Proudly presenting....MY VERY OWN Craft Room!!!!

Creating a space to properly store all of my craft/stationery/gift wrapping supplies has been a long time coming....from Rubbermaid containers stored under the bed (townhome #1), to double use of the linen closet in the laundry room (townhome #2), to a large cardboard box in the storage room (our current home), NONE of these places provided me with the organization and ease in accessibility like this new space does. Hallelujah, space for just ME at last!!!

I now present to you our downstairs guest room walk-in closet.....MY CRAFT ROOM!

As you enter, you may notice a large CONGRATULATIONS banner hung on the inside wall...this beautiful banner was made for me by my sister for my first Baby Shower but also served as a way for me congratulate myself for finding the time to organize every envelope, roll of ribbon, pen, hole punch, heck even paper clips from binder clips (I warn you now....my obsession with organizing may be contagious).

My goal for this space was to have a place for all of my stationery, gift wrapping supplies, and crafts. Since I access many of these items quite frequently (and while often in a hurry!) I know I needed everything to be very accessible and easy to maintain. Thanks to this awesome black IKEA closet organizer, I was able to divide up our colored paper by each individual color and really make good use out of space storage vertically.

To the left of this space, the previous owners created this handy little table, the perfect area for me to grab a pen and write in a card, or lay out something for a gift. It also cleared enough space for us to slide our two-drawer filing cabinet underneath it!

Thanks to this awesome blog tip (p.s. I know many have ditched blogs and gone straight to Instagramming, but I still love visiting blogs for great home tips!) I purchased this behind the door organizer which I think truly makes all the difference in this small space. Instead of me not being able to see how many rolls of Zots I have, or getting all of my rolls of ribbon tangled, I now have a space efficient and organized way to see all my crafting goods and get to them in a jiffy!

I was worried about this shelf system being wobbly (I didn't even need to use the hardware it came with to attach it to the door), or it not allowing the door to close properly, but none of those things are an issue, plus I like how you can customize the shelf height to whatever you need it to fit and for those of you with kids, it works well to put smaller items up on higher shelves out of a child's reach. 


Mason jars are fairly inexpensive and a great way to organize little or random bits of things. Since they're glass, it works perfect to be able to see what's inside of each jar too.


Since these mini rolls of ribbon are smaller than the grates in the shelf, I placed a metal tin underneath them to keep them from slipping through.

Love how I can just unroll a roll of ribbon and snip off how much I need without even removing the roll from the shelf.


I'm such a fan of being able to see my wrapping paper! Before I had them in a long Rubbermaid containers and it was deceiving for me to see how much was actually left on each roll, as well as what rolls were in what container. This simple black bin (aka garbage can) was only $4.95 at Lowes and I like how its rectangular shape allows it to discretely slide right behind the door.


Placed larger boxes of things like tissue paper, and party supplies up on the very top shelf.

Thanks to this blog, I was given the idea to organize gift bags on hangers- brilliant! Such a good use of space in a closet too where we already had the clothes rack installed. 

 

Used the ivory closet organizer on the left (Velcros right onto clothes rack like the black one does on the right) to house gift wrapping supplies and stationery boxed sets. The clear storage drawers below now contain plain cards, envelopes, stickers, and printed cards. The brown storage container to the right houses other various craft supplies that we don't use as much along with these awesome craft trays that I HIGHLY recommend from Michaels. I pull them out every time now when I need to gather up supplies for something.



 And last, here's a full shot of the guest room. In case you couldn't tell, this craft room (aka doorway to Heaven) is located behind the door to the left with the black mirror on it. 

Love how easily everything just tucks away!