Six years old today

My Addison turned 6 today!  
She loves to pose.
Wonder why?  :)
We have been celebrating for a week now.  
Last weekend we took all of her friends to Build-A-Bear.  
My girls were excited to say the least.  

The girls chose their bears and then stuffed their bears.  
They washed their bears.

And dressed and accessorized their bears.
Then they paraded around the store with their bears.
And their smurfs.  
(Ellie decided to buck the trend.)
One happy birthday girl.
She must have turned and whispered to me over five times that 
“this is the best birthday ever!”

I almost bought this bear for myself.  
Birthday girl and her dad who is such a softie when it comes to his daughters.
Mr. budget who saw 11 darling Kindergarteners accessorizing their bears with huge grins on their faces and said “forget the budget and let everybody get what they want.”  (Addie – you have got your dad wrapped!  Any pointers you can send my way would be much appreciated.)  
The partying didn’t stop there. 
We have been traveling and celebrating for lots of reasons.
And busy with end of school year stuff.
And knee deep in house decisions.
Appliances, cabinets, and fixtures.
Oh my.
Lots going on that I will blog about when I have time to catch my breath.  
And I’m itching to organize something.
It has been a while.
Still need to write my sweet six year old’s birthday letter.  
But for now I just want to say that I love my spunky little Addison so much.
Every night when we tuck Addison in bed we follow the same routine.  It started several years ago with her daddy and now Addison won’t go to sleep until Kenny and I have both given her our “goodnight kiss.”
 I kiss her, she wipes the kisses off, and I say “hey!  you wiped off my kisses!” 
 Then we laugh.  And I kiss her again.  And she kisses me back.
And then we hug and I whisper in her ear “you make me melt.”
Addison – you make us melt every single day.  
Happy Birthday beautiful girl!

Q & A

I hope everyone had a great weekend!  I thought I’d kick the week off with a Q & A post so here we go!  

What are your thoughts on babysitting and how do you manage it?  (i.e. how often do you use one, where did you find her, how much do they charge, do you have things you check about them first, how do you know the kids are happy with them, do they manage three kids ok, is it better to have someone older or do younger babysitters work ok too, etc.)

Whew!  Now THAT was a question!  :)  A really good question.  Babysitters are an absolute necessity in my opinion (unless you are lucky enough to live by grandparents who take over that duty!).    
We don’t have a set amount of time that we use babysitters.  On average, at least once during the weekend so Kenny and I can go on a date.  Date nights are a huge priority for us.  Especially since baby #3 came along.  It’s the only time we can actually talk without interruptions!  Regular evenings after kids are in bed don’t count – we are both plopped in front of the TV with our laptops completely exhausted from the day.  Kenny makes sarcastic comments about whatever show we’re watching and I roll my eyes at him and blog the night away.  We need our weekend date night to hold hands, focus on each other, and feel like a couple again.  Other than that we get a babysitter whenever we need one.  Lately because of the new house stuff – a lot!  Right now we are averaging 2-3 times a week that we need a sitter.  If it’s just for an hour or two after school, I have used girls age 12 and up.  For an evening when kids need to be put to bed, I always get a sitter at least 15 years old.  I just feel better about someone a little older at night time.  I’m lucky because I know so many darling babysitters in my ward (church group).  I know their families – I’m friends with most of their moms and know those moms are close by if there is an emergency.  I have a list of about eight  girls I can call who I know and trust and who my girls LOVE. My girls are at the age where getting a babysitter is like Christmas.  Seriously.  They get SO excited for a “teenager” to come over and do nothing but play with them.  Kole always cries when I leave, but is over it two minutes later (I always ask!).  All three of my kids handle sitters well because we use them a lot.  Obviously I talk to my girls about their sitters (did you like her?  what did you do?) – if there was ever a time they didn’t like someone or I didn’t feel good about someone I wouldn’t call them again, but that hasn’t happened yet.  I usually hear – “when can we call HER again!?”  As far as what we pay our sitters – we pay a generous hourly rate for two reasons: 1 – we live in an area where everything costs more and 2 – I want my babysitters to know that I value them and I want them to WANT to babysit for me.  :)  I think it’s best to ask other moms in your area this question because fees vary so much depending on where you live.  My Utah friends pay a lot less than I do, but San Diego is an expensive place to live which unfortunately means everything costs more (including babysitting).

I have a question for you – do you keep any of your kids’ clothes?  I know you are a master organizer, and through posts, it sounds like you send a lot to your niece, but everything?  

“Master organizer” eh?  I don’t know about that but I’m certainly not going to stop you from calling me one.  ;)  Ok – kids clothes.  Man!  I’ve said this before.  Kids’ clothes are the HARDEST thing for me to get rid of!  Seriously!  I do so well with everything else – including a lot of their school work, but the clothes get me every time!  I always think … “oh I have to keep this!  It’s the shirt Addison wore for her first day of pre-school, or those were the pajamas El slept in every night at age 3, Kole came home from the hospital in this one.  I can’t possibly get rid of it…”  I’m a sucker for the memories that come with their little outfits!

So here’s what I’ve been doing with kids’ clothes.  Every season I go through my kids’ closets.  (I actually have this on my current to-do list right now for the summer.)

Anything I just can’t part with, I don’t.  :)  I keep the clothes in boxes that are currently in a storage shed we are renting.  Once we’re in our new house I’ll find a place for these clothes.  I’m sure I’ll go though them a time or two again and get rid of a few more things.  This is the box of what I’ve saved so far.  Addie’s first boots that she didn’t take off for six months, the cupcake pajamas both girls lived in for years, first ballet shoes, hospital hats, etc.  It’s not the cutest outfits I keep – it’s the ones that take me so quickly back to a special time or moment.  After I round up some to take to the storage shed box, I take the clothes that are too small for Ellie and put them in Addie’s closet.  A lot of clothes that are too small for Addison go to this cutie:

Yes!  I still send a lot to my niece (isn’t she a doll).  :)  She is one year younger than Addison so size wise it works out great.  I also have some friends with daughters younger than mine who I give clothes to from time to time.  And I take a lot of stuff to Goodwill.  I swear I’m there at least once a month!  I have to admit though that right now I have three HUGE bags in my garage full of too small kids’ clothes.  A lot of them are too small for my niece now because I’ve waited so long to get them to her.  I need to figure out what to do with them.  Some people have suggested selling them on eBay?  The clothes are all nice and in great shape (mostly from Gap and Gymboree) but I don’t know if it’s worth the time to try to sell them?  I’d love to hear what some of you do with kids’ clothes!

Erin, what do you do with all of the doll clothes and accessories and shoes??

When you have little girls this kind of stuff can take over your house!  I used to have one drawer that held doll clothes, shoes, and accessories —

but with new dolls came new stuff the girls had to keep so this drawer is now for doll clothes only.  And it doesn’t look nearly this neat.  All the doll clothes get taken out and stuffed back in on a daily basis as dolls attend a variety of social events and functions.  :)  As long as the clothes end up in the drawer at the end of the day, I’m ok with the messy drawer.  As far as doll shoes and accessories go…

Remember when I re-did Ellie’s closet?  All of that little girl stuff that is so small and gets all over the place was driving me crazy!  So I bought some clear plastic bins, organized all of their small toys, slapped some labels on them, and called it done!

One shelf holds small dolls, doll shoes, doll accessories (all of that random – what in the world do I do with all of this?), and one bin just for polly pockets and their clothes.   This system has worked beautifully!  We all know where to put things away and where to find things.  And since I’m feeling a bit witty tonight I’ll add that I no longer “sweat the small stuff.”  :)  (Yeah… probably more tired than witty after all…)

What do you do with all of your kids’ little creations and notes and such?  I have boxes and boxes of it all, and more keeps adding to the collection.  Do you take photos of some and then toss them out?   

Ok.  The short answer is this:  some stuff I save for my kids’ albums, some stuff I save to display, some stuff I save for me.  If you want a more detailed answer, I’m going to direct you to three posts that will show you exactly what I do with everything.  :)

Project Life Organization Update
What I do with kids’ school work
Hutch Organization (where I keep my keepsakes)

If one of your children makes you a really special mother’s day card or something, do you include that in their album or do you keep that in a keepsake box for yourself?  

Similar question to the one above.  If it is something that my kids have made for me, I keep it in my “Erin’s Keepsakes from the kids” box.  Kenny and I each have our own.  (See my hutch organization post I mentioned above).

If it is something that I want to keep for me AND I want my girls to have it in their albums, I usually take a picture of it for their books, and I keep the original.  Here’s an example:

This note Ellie wrote me on the left (which is an all time favorite that I blogged about here) I actually took out of her album and put into my keepsake box.  If you look at the bottom right of her book, I took a picture of it for her to keep.  I wanted this story in her book, but had to keep the original for myself.  :)

If one of your children has a special event like a birthday party, a baptism, etc. do you put a few photos of that event in all of the siblings albums too, to show the different things that happened that year?  Or do you stick strictly to that child’s own events in their album?

Another great album question!  Let’s say I’m developing Ellie’s 6th birthday photos.  I develop a bunch for Ellie (usually a two page layout in her book with my favorite pics from the event – hoping from now on to limit this to a one side layout).  Addison will get one maybe two pics from the party.  Probably one of her and Ellie on El’s b-day and then a general pic of all the party guests or something.  For Kole’s book I would include one picture – maybe Ellie blowing out candles or something and write in his album “Ellie turns 6!”  So yes – I do try to document important sibling events in each album but the child experiencing the event gets several pictures while the other children get one maybe two.  This is one of the many reasons I like to do separate albums for each child (even though it is a major time commitment!).  I like the focus of their albums to be about their childhood, but this of course also includes what is happening with siblings.

I have been following your blog for several months and love it!  My question is what is your workout and diet plan?  —  I agree with the last person, a workout post would be great.  How do you stay in such good shape?  —  An idea for your new Q & A section, could you share your workout routine with us??!  

So many questions about exercise this time around!  (And thanks for the sweet comments that went with them!)  My exercise routine changes with the wind.  Seriously!  I have to constantly adapt to the current schedule/situation with my kids.  Only one thing remains certain:  I always exercise!  It’s great to look good, but it’s even better to feel good.  I feel so much better when I exercise and I’m a big believer that something is better than nothing.  When I started therapy with Kole in our mornings it ended my walks/runs with friends.  So this is what I currently do:  I pack lunches and lay out clothes the night before, kids are up at 6:30 and I get them all dressed and fed and me in my workout clothes.  Around 7:40 Kenny heads out to take the girls to school and Kole and I head out on our walk/run.  Therapy starts at 9:00 (they come to my house) and I need a little time to pick up the house and wipe the sweat off of my face before the therapists come so I have 45 min – 1 hour to exercise.  (This only works if I have everything ready the night before so we are ready to walk out the door with the girls.)  I put Kole in the jogger and we’re off!  I walk the first half of our route (usually mentioning and pointing to everything along the way “see the dog Kole!  woof woof!  say dog!) and then the second half I jog.   I say to Kole “ready, set, and he says GO!”  His first word he learned in therapy.  :)  So workout routine isn’t anything too special.  Just a walk/run with my boy in the jogging stroller.  Here is my diet plan (if you can really call it that):  I maintain my weight by eating a lot of the same things.  Usually Bran Chex for breakfast (because it’s fast and easy and I like them), and my turkey sandwich, baked lays and strawberries for lunch…

I don’t eat all of the strawberries at once.  :)  Anyone who knows me knows that I love a good turkey sandwich!  Sometimes I mix it up and eat my salad in a tortilla for lunch:

Dinner is always different – usually a Lean Cuisine because of convenience, working late husband, and hatred of cooking, but if I do cook something else I just control my portions.  Always popcorn for a snack.  Of course I snack during the day.  Sometimes healthy, sometimes not so healthy.  I just always exercise and I always pay attention to what I’m eating.  If I’ve had a cookie earlier in the day, that was my treat and I try to eat better the rest of the day.  Exercise is key because I always eat better if I’ve exercised.

Additional posts I’ve written about exercise and healthy eating:

My #1 priority
Healthy Eating
Kicking it in gear
Workout music  

I hope those answers helped some of you!  I didn’t have time for all of your questions, so I’ll do another Q & A post soon.  If you have any of your own answers to these questions that might be helpful to others or a question for me please feel free to comment!

Have a great week!  Love that it’s a short one.  :)

It all started with a shelf (home decor re-cap)

About a year ago I made an executive decision.  I decided I didn’t like my house as much as I once did.  (That’s about as executive as things get with me.)  Styles had changed and I was itching for a change myself, but we were house hunting at the time and I didn’t know how much longer we would live in this house.  I kept putting off changing my decor thinking that I would just wait, but my home wasn’t making me as happy as it once was.  And being a stay at home mom = being home a lot.  I quickly learned not to underestimate how important it is to love your home.  Your home should make you happier than anywhere else.  Not because it’s the fanciest, most expensive place around, but because it’s a reflection of you and the people you love.  It’s an escape from the rest of the world.  The one place you should feel the most “you.”  So I decided I didn’t care if we were in this house two more years or two more days.  I wanted to love my home again.

It all started with a shelf.  

One weekend I took the first step by re-painting a wall and my shelf.  
I can’t even tell you how invigorating that felt!  
It was a fun project and I was so in love with my new wall!  

Even though it looked completely out of place and didn’t match anything else in my house.
There was a chance that any day we would be putting our house up for sale.  
Kenny thought I was crazy.  My realtor thought I was crazy.  I knew I was crazy. 
 I just didn’t care.  :)
Slowly I started making small changes to coordinate with my new wall.
Not wanting to spend a fortune, I just updated things with small purchases.  
A dish towel here…a new vase there.  

 I also used my leftover wall paint to paint other things in kitchen that were previously red.  

Magnet board in October.  
Anthro apron was a fun addition.  Even though I never use it, it sure looks cute.  :)

And my magnet board today.  Aren’t the typewriter magnets fun!?  I picked those up at the last Queen Bee Market.  And I love that picture of my girls on the beach in Maui.  Summer time.  :)

The next big change I made was re-decorating my hutch.
I took everything off of it and sat with it completely empty for months.
It felt good to have a clean slate.   

It’s simple because simple is appealing to me at the moment.   

Our birthday spotlight was a fun addition.  No cost since I just painted an old frame and used mini clothespins I already had on hand.  (Clearly I got my money’s worth out of that can of aqua paint!)

Swapping out a few dishes in my clear shelves helped pull together all of the colors in my kitchen.  

And the mantel has gone from red and black…
to the blue/yellow/white combo as well. 
It was fun to add some happy decor to my kitchen table once Kole completed his “I have to be climbing on top of the kitchen table every 10 minutes” phase.  
It was also fun to switch out ribbon and paint my black frames yellow taking them from drab…
to fab.  (Or at least from dark to light.)  :)

Summer decor isn’t complete without lemons.  

So I added lots of them.  :)  

Kenny made me a happy wife when he bought me this Pottery Barn lamp after I had been eyeing it for months.  I also added some fun summer lanterns from Z Gallerie.  Eventually I want to move the lanterns to the kitchen and replace the clock.  One thing at a time…
And my latest update: adding the magazine organizer from Ballards.  
Something that looks as beautiful as it functions.  My favorite kind of decor!  
My last decorating project that I am currently working on:

Above my kitchen cupboards.  This space is SO hard for me to decorate.  It’s a tall space so I have to have big, tall decor.  Plus I have a hard time keeping it from looking too clutter-y.  I hate too clutter-y.  In my next kitchen that we are currently designing there will NOT be a big open space like this above the cupboards.  
So far all I have are these plates I bought at Z Gallerie.    

They look a bit small for the space.  I need to bring in other colors and figure out what I’m doing here.  I’ll probably get it figured out and looking exactly how I want it just in time to move into our next house.  :) 
When I look back at all of these pictures I’m pretty happy about the transformation of my house over the past year.  I have loved experimenting with different looks and have fun plans for the decor in my next house.  (Like not going quite as overboard with aqua!) 
Slowly, by completing one project at a time, my current home has become a place that makes me smile again.  

And lucky for me, the rest of my family feels the same.  HOORAY!

p.s.  Since this is a wrap up of all things home decor, below are some links of past decor-related posts.  Aside from the space I’m working on in the kitchen, I’m not changing anything else.  Saving all of my decorating ideas and efforts for the new house!  I love that I took pictures of each room so that after we move we will always remember our time here.  I brought all three of my babies home to this house and it will always hold such a special place in my heart.  
And speaking of my sweet little ones, I will be back to blogging after Memorial Day.  Looking forward to a fun holiday weekend with my family. 
Wishing you a wonderful weekend with the ones you love as well!

Dear Phillip

You rock!!  You were my pick from day one and I am so happy you didn’t make me look like an idiot in front of all of my blog friends.  When you won I cried.  Not because you didn’t make me look like an idiot in front of my blog friends (although that was a bonus).  I cried because I am SO happy for you.  Love your voice.  Love your style.  Love the way you pull that cat like face and move your feet around when you sing.  Love the way you headed to your sweet family so soon after you won.  Love that I am validated.  Patiently waiting for your first CD.


a fan.

p.s.  Did I mention that you rock!?

p.p.s.  Back to regular posting soon.  :)

Makes me happy

My girls have been busy.  Busy drawing, writing, and creating.   
All of their creations make me so happy. 

Ellie has been losing teeth right and left.  She is getting to where as soon as a tooth gets loose she just yanks it out.  Cracks me up!  She wants the tooth fairy to visit so badly.  Not for the money.   Mostly just because she loves the tooth fairy so much.  Ellie draws her perfectly.  I envision the tooth fairy  looking just like Ellie’s drawings with long hair and beautiful wings.  Did you know that the tooth fairy’s name is Liliana?  Ours is anyway.  :)  Such a fairy-like name, don’t you think?  Her handwriting isn’t very consistent.  And it’s kind of similar to mine, in a non-consistent sort of way.  Wonder if she knows that.  I’ll have to point it out to her sometime.  
“Dear Tooth Fairy, I knocked my tooth out myself.  Love, Ellie.”
My favorite.  :)

Of course if Ellie is leaving notes for the “toofere” so is Addison.  She is counting the days until she loses her first tooth.  I hope it’s a ways away.  I love her baby teeth smile so much.

Last weekend Ellie sat down at the table, pulled out the crayons and in half an hour presented us with this book all about butterflies…

I think I need a close up of those bedazzled eggs.
Simply stunning.  
That is one looooonng tongue on that butterfly on the right.  

And my favorite page:  “Hawks are enemies.  They eat butterflies and think they are a tasty snack.”  
“Yikes” is right.  Check out the hawk’s angry eyebrows.  He means business.  
Kenny, Addison and I were all fighting over who gets to keep the butterfly book so Ellie has promised us more coming soon.  Next up – “All About Puppies.”  Can’t wait for that one.  
Wonder if I can snag an autographed copy?

Addison made this page on a school computer today.  It made me smile when I took it out of her backpack.  Yes.  Those are definitely the many feelings and faces of my Addie.  She especially nailed the “angry” face.  That one was a regular pretty early on…

(December 2008 – age 21/2)  
There once was a girl
who had a little curl
right in the middle of her forehead…
(December 2010 – age 4)
You better not cry, you better not pout…
Clearly we were still working on the not pouting part.
Although I still give my Addison props for knowing how to look fancy while pouting.  
Nothing better to me than a house full of my girls’ creations.  
They crack me up and make me smile every. single. day.