Thursday, June 27, 2013

Give and take (new house pics)

 So you may have noticed my blogging time these days is LIMITED to say the least.  Summer is all about survival, right moms?  And this summer feels especially that way for me.  We are about two months away from having the house finished and ready to move in and every day that is pretty much all I've been doing.  I go up to the new house first thing in the morning.  Take a break at lunch.  And head back up until Kole's therapy at 3:30.  Sometimes I have the kids with me.  Sometimes I get a sitter.  Sometimes Kenny works from home while Kole naps.  Sometimes I don't know where my kids are.  Do I have kids?  I can't remember.  My brain is clogged with too many things to recollect.  :)  Actually the kids are having a ball and love being at the new house.  They are getting so excited to move because of a certain little surprise that came in the mail last week...

Testing out the new trampoline!  This is hands down the best money we've spent so far.  Looking forward to the hours of entertainment it will provide!

Our new neighbors on one side just moved in and our new neighbors on the other side are in the framing stage.  We lucked out big time with our neighbors.  Nicest people!  We love them all!  The kids have been having a blast on the new trampoline.  This isn't its final destination of course (and the kids weren't allowed to jump high and w/o adults right there until it's a bit safer!).  I especially bonded with one of my neighbors last week when I learned she doesn't love to cook.  We stay up late emailing each other pics from and she mentioned one night that she needs to learn to cook in her new kitchen - that she'll feel bad just serving up plain pasta and cheese quesadillas.  I laughed out loud and responded that we had plain pasta for lunch and quesadillas (cheese tortillas my kids call them) for dinner that day!  Too funny.  Clearly we are kindred spirits.  Kindred spirits who need to take a cooking class at some point.  :)

Anyway!  Back to the trampoline.  They just dropped it in the hole in the ground today!  
It will have grass all around it.  A much safer landing pad.

Kenny and I have been having a bit of a discussion this week.  And by discussion I mean disagreement.  :)  These are the stairs leading up to the house.  Inside the house I kept everything straight - straight lines and edges - no arches or curves.  But the yard I wanted curvy - winding paths, etc.  I love the way these stairs turned out.  They are curvy and free flowing just like I pictured them.  

 I chose a light grey flagstone to go on the stairs and the porches.  I thought this material would be used for the whole stairs.

 But Monday I pulled up and they were starting to put the stone we used on the house in the front of the steps.  I wasn't so sure about that.  It looks too busy to me.  I was going to have them stop and change it to the flagstone but Kenny wasn't on the same page.  He loves the stone on the steps.  And so does every other person whose opinion we've asked.

So I lost that battle!  And I'm ok with it.  This process has definitely been a give and take and really my husband hasn't had an opinion about much.  So I told him I'm happy to give him the stone steps - and anything else he wants for the yard.  Just don't mess with my kitchen.  :)

We are 2-3 weeks away from grass and flowers and I can't wait!  I know it will make such a huge difference.  Everything is so neutral right now.  I'm ready for some pops of color!

I'm also so excited to start sharing inside pics now that the cabinets are in!  I just have to wait a bit because things are so messy at the house right now.  And everyone working on the house keeps covering floors and counters and cabinets to do tile work.  I've told the crew that they are making it awfully hard for me to take pictures of everything.  I know it's a real concern for them.  :)

This weeks' homework has been moldings, shutters, hardware, paint, lighting, and wrapping up backsplashes.  I have also been starting to think about bedding for my girls' rooms.  That has of course inspired a total room design plan.  Ellie presented me with this yesterday:

I love the "working desk" in the corner for her to draw.  
Totally doing that at some point.  

I'm also sort of ok with the color scheme:  

Purple wall.  Hot pink bed.  Turquoise rug.  
I can work with that.  

Then she informed me she also wants panda wall paper.  And not just hot pink bedding, but it needs to be hot pink My Little Pony bedding.  

Clearly there will have to be some give and take in this space too.  


Monday, June 24, 2013

Last Day of School

Hello friends!  I missed you all last week!  Quick snapshot of the kids' last day of school.  It was a good day.  Fun and emotional for me.  My girls will go to a new school next year and while I'm excited for new friends and a new beginning, it's also hard to say goodbye to a school we have loved so much. Kenny keeps telling me the girls will be fine switching schools.  It's so close to our old one and they make friends so easily.  I remind him it's not them I'm worried about.  :)  I will miss seeing so many faces I'm used to seeing each day.

Walking to school with grandma.  

My mom seriously saved me coming the last week of school.  It was still a circus, but so much more manageable with her here.  Thanks again mom!  I know the week wore you out.  Please rest up and come back again.  Soon.  Like next week.  You think I'm kidding, don't you.  Well I'm not.  :)  I still have plenty of Diet Cokes in the fridge!    

El's class kept their backpack in the hall all year.  Love the portraits of them.  

My girls had such good teachers this year.  Seriously amazing teachers.  The kind you never forget. 

 I became so close with both of them and can never repay them for all they did for my girls this year.  I cried saying good-bye.  Not just a sniffle, but a full on cry.  Wish I could say that was a first for me.

 Loved helping with Ad's Hawaiian class party.  My darling friend put the party together and did an amazing job.

All the moms went in on group gifts for the teachers but I still wanted to get them a little something to say thanks and enjoy the summer!

Towel, People Style Watch, sunscreen.  Beach/pool necessities!  
A quick and easy summer gift that is always a hit.  

After the girls' parties it was time for my little man's preschool performance.  When I walked in the room he was so excited to see me that he ran to sit on my lap and wouldn't go back to his chair to sing.  :)  I finally got him back with the class and then he put on quite a show.  This boy makes me so happy.  I get such a kick out of him.

Hello ladies.  So sorry.  Mom says I'm taken.  

Dinner with El's group of friends and all of the moms.

 And the party just kept on going when we got home.  Sidewalk chalk...


 and Ad performed a "happy last day of school dance" to officially end the year and kick off summer.  

In her pink plastic pearls of course.  :)  

Good-bye 2012-2013 school year!  You will be hard to beat.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Down Time

We are so enjoying our first week of summer.  Hard to tell?  Movie party.  3:00 in the afternoon.  In our pj's.  With only the essentials: blankets - pillows - fishy crackers.  Because what's a mid-day movie party without fishy crackers?  Aside from lounging we've also been doing a lot of reading.  And hanging at the park and the beach.  It's a rough life.  :)  I'm taking a few days off of blogging too.  Much to busy with all the lounging to whip up a post.  Wouldn't want to wear myself out.  ;)

Really - after such a busy last month it feels wonderful to have some down time with my kids.  Just what the doctor ordered.  Down time.  And fishy crackers.


Enjoy your week everyone and I'll be back soon!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day!

To my husband on Father's Day:

When they cry, you comfort them.  When they laugh, you laugh with them. When they complain, you remind them of all they have.  When they fall, you pick them up.  When they ask questions, you teach them.  When they take life too seriously, you tease them and remind them not to.  When they get discouraged, you lift them up.  When they work hard, you praise them.  When they hug you, you melt.  When they came into this world, you instantly became the perfect father for each one of them.  You are their hero and you are mine.

Happy Father's Day babe.

And a very happy Father's Day to the other two heros in my life...

 {My Dad}

{Kenny's Dad}

Two AMAZING dads and grandpas.  
And two of the best sports I've ever met.


Happy Father's Day to all the wonderful dads out there who work hard each day making a difference in a child's life.  You are treasured!  

Friday, June 14, 2013

We made it.

We survived!  By proof of my used to be 1st grader's shoes (yes - that's scotch tape you see dangling from the tattered velcro) school is officially out for the summer!  I'm sure at some point when I have the energy I will post all about the past week's festivities.  Or maybe not.  Maybe I will subconsciously block it all from my mind forever and pretend it didn't happen.  Either way, at this point I only know one thing.  We are sleeping in tomorrow.  And I'm not packing lunches.  And the girls' hair will not be done.  And neither will mine.  And we may or may not get out of our pajamas (just knowing we have the option makes me all tingly inside).  And that was more than one thing, wasn't it.  That was a lot of things that when combined together all equal one word - SUMMER TIME!  That was more than one word, wasn't it.

I'm feeling a letter coming on...

Dear Summer, 

        While you certainly have your drawbacks and are by no means perfect, this year especially you have been calling my name.  I usually crave a schedule, but frankly this year  - I am over ours.  I have been looking forward to you for so many reasons.  Less driving, more time with my kids home playing together (and fighting together, but that's another thing I'm subconsciously blocking from my mind and pretending won't happen), less alarm clock, more popsicles, less messes and piles, more purging and packing, less homework, more creative play, less activities, more sunscreen, less rushing, more relaxing.  You are also special to me this particular year because you are our last summer together in this home.  The first home Kenny and I have owned together.  The place I brought all of our babies home to.  You will also hopefully be (fingers crossed) the first piece of many happy summers to come in our new home.  So yes.  I am extremely excited about you this year summer.  Thanks for finally arriving.  There were so many times I didn't think you ever would.

Your friend (at least in the beginning),


**The girls and I usually brainstorm together to come up with a fun Summer to-do list.  I didn't do one this year because it would simply say: BUILD, PACK, MOVE.  :)  But here is our 2011 list if you are already a couple of weeks into summer and have completely used up all of your good summer activities and you are about to go out of your mind CRAZY with the kids home all day.  (Been there.  Done that.  Bought the t-shirt.)  And there is no doubt in my mind it's on the horizon for us again this year too.  Just one more thing I'm subconsciously blocking from my mind and pretending won't happen.  

Happy Summer friends!!


p.s.  Scotch tape DOES NOT hold shoes together.  Just thought you all deserved to know the truth.

Monday, June 10, 2013

A must read!

Hi everyone!  HAD to share this with you.  A blog post written by Jen Hatmaker titled "Worst End of School Year Mom Ever."  Have any of you read this?  Oh my word.  It is HILARIOUS!  My mom stumbled on it today on-line and we were cracking up!  It completely describes how moms are feeling this time of year with end of year parties, projects, teacher gifts, etc. etc. and etc.  Her post went viral and she has received so much attention from it that they asked her to be on the Today Show.

Worst End of School Mom Ever

Jen on the Today Show

Read it!  If you are a mom to school age kids you will relate on so many levels!  My personal favorites are the "auditory reading" and her thoughts on the conversation with her husband (sounds like something straight out of my house), and the line "children should not be allowed to learn to read until they are already good at it."  Seriously!  I'm laughing out loud right now just thinking about it!

Thanks Jen - for making us all smile in the midst of the torture that is the last few weeks of school.

And the first week of summer.


Sunday, June 9, 2013

Recent pics

Popping in to share a few recent pics!  I am SO behind.  So so behind on documenting our day to day.  This week (when I have time to post) will be a lot of catching up on some of our latest - even if it's not the greatest.  :)  

Not so long ago I shared a picture of Kole "painting the wall" with water and said it was such a great toddler activity.  Turns out it's not just for toddlers.  :)  I peeked out my kitchen window last week to find this scene.  Looks like El isn't painting, but scrubbing the wall down instead?  Whatever works!  And keeps them entertained long enough for me to cook dinner.  (BTW - so happy to hear that some of you tried this activity and it was a success.  YEA!  I'll have to think of more outside activities my kids like.  We have had to get pretty creative over the last nine years with our with our small back yard!)  

Since home cooked dinners are hit and miss around here this is my latest trick to ease some of my guilt and make sure the kids are eating enough fruit/veggies.  I have this veggie tray (bought it for 5 bucks at the grocery store) sitting out on the table each day after school when the kids come home.  They always come home STARVING and start immediately raiding the pantry.  The new rule is that this platter of food has to be eaten before anything else (most of it anyway).  The cool thing is that they are usually full by the time it's gone and then I can hold them off until dinner.  I change the fruits and vegetables out each day and sometimes there are leftovers so I'm not constantly restocking everything.  I also give them long tooth picks to eat with because for some reason that just makes it more fun.  Except when they start having sword fights.  Then as Kole would say "we are all done toothpicks!"  Yup buddy.  We are.  :)

 Speaking of my little buddy... apple doesn't fall too far.  

I was adjusting a camera lens last week and snapped the next two pics randomly.  Then when I went through my photos that night I had to laugh at what I caught on camera.  This is Ad trying to make Ellie fancy... 

You can see how well that went over.  

And here is our spring mantel in its latest state.  El did a report on Wood Ducks last week and let me tell you - we all know more about Wood Ducks than we ever cared to.  :)  She loves animals and got really into this little project.  We were proud of her work so the Wood Duck poster is displayed on the mantel.  With Addison's clay fish.  At least they are keeping things aqua and working with my color scheme.  :)

 Peppa Pig.  It's such a part of our day to day that I had to share this photo from the weekend.  

And we have a visitor this week sharing in the Peppa Pig love.  When the going gets tough, the tough call grandma!  :)  This next week is so busy for me that I knew I would need some reinforcement!  I sent out an SOS to my cute mom and she hopped on a plane.  LOVE her so much.  She is saving me this week.  Now someone will be home to do therapy each day with Kole and take care of him (full time job) while I tackle all of the girls' last week of school parties/activities/projects.  And deal with the new house stuff I need to take care of right now like pick out paint colors for the whole interior.  And start packing our current house to get ready for a move.  My to-do list has its own to-do list this week.  It's an exciting time around here.  :)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Teacher Gift (re-run)

I'm giving myself a major pat on the back for making it through this week.  Anyone else feel the same?  To reward myself tonight I'm going to go to bed before 1:00 am.  Which is something that hasn't happened for a while.  But to do this means I can't post the pictures I wanted to share today.  If only I didn't need to sleep!  Do you ever think about that?  How much you could get done if you didn't need to sleep?  I think about it all the time.  Mostly late at night when I should be sleeping.  :)  I'm rambling now because I'm tired.  Anyway!  Since I've been thinking about teacher gifts this week (how I'm going to come up with an extra hour to pull something together this year) I thought I'd share a past post on a gift idea I came up with for Addison's teachers a couple of years ago.  And I know most of you have either seen this post or you are already out of school and don't need teacher gift ideas.  But I am sharing it anyway because the pictures of my little cookie watcher are some of my favorites.  And well...  because quite frankly I don't trust myself to post when I'm this tired.  :)

{Teacher Gift - Originally Written June 2011}

WHERE has this week gone!?  First week of summer has definitely been a busy one.  Summer actually hasn't happened yet for my Addison.  This is her last week of pre-school and this weekend is her little graduation ceremony.  

For Ellie's teacher, I kept things simple and just did my standard gift card (always to either Nordstroms or Target - the two places I'd want a gift card to!) along with a personal card from me and one from Ellie.  But with Addison, we went a different route because she has SO many teachers who have had an influence on her during the last two years.  

First, Addison made cookies.  I hate to bake so I just turned it all over to her.  

 Kidding!  Kidding.  Kind of.  She did help a lot.  And yes, she's wearing a Halloween outfit.  In June.  Because that's the way we roll around here.  And once Addison is on outfit number 6 of the day - you just stop caring.  Ya know?

Kole was our official "cookie watcher."  He took his job pretty seriously pulling himself up to his post every few minutes to make sure the cookies were progressing to his satisfaction.   

Since Kole had everything under control in the kitchen, Addison and I got to work on our cards. 

Addison drew a picture of her with each teacher.  She is the one on the right with the curly hair.  :)  

I pulled up the shoe collage I made for Addison's birthday letter, added a little journaling in Photoshop and had it developed as a 4x6 pic.  Quick and easy.  

Last week I found some cute plates on clearance at Target and snagged about 15 of them.  They were perfect to hold our oatmeal cookies.  Which thanks to Kole, were cooked to perfection.

Then I just used some scrapbook ribbon and plastic wrap I had on hand to tie everything together.

A quick and easy gift with a personal touch.  My favorite kind.

We gave them to her teachers today and I couldn't help tearing up.  So did several of her teachers.  I am so sad to say good-bye to this second family of mine.  

 Even if it is just for a couple of years until my little "cookie watcher" is ready for pre-school.  Good thing that isn't for a while though - this little one is needed in the kitchen.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A word on cleaning (re-run)

Hi everyone!  I have been getting several questions lately again about my cleaning routine - and how I plan to keep the new house clean since it's a bigger house than my current one.  Don't really have a plan for that yet.  :)  But I'm sure once we move in I will settle into a routine and I will definitely share it with you when I do!  In the mean time I thought I'd share a post I wrote a few years ago about my cleaning routine.  This has changed a bit since my kids are older and we are now busier in the afternoon/evenings than we were when the kids were younger.  But most of the tips I shared and my favorite cleaning supplies haven't changed so I thought I'd post this again in case it is helpful to any of you.  Would love to hear any tips you have on staying on top of housework as well!


I have been getting a lot of e-mails lately from readers. First of all let me just say that they are all so sweet! They have been the nicest e-mails that totally brighten my day. Several similar questions keep popping up about cleaning -- "How do you keep your house so clean?" and "What is your schedule/routine for cleaning and laundry?"

So! Thought I'd answer you all at once. :) First of all, my house is NOT always perfectly clean. If I've given you this impression, I'm truly sorry because just like a lot of you, I have children. And we all know that when you have children, messes are never ending. I have two girls whose goal in life is to drag out as many toys as possible and then have a party with them.

I also have a baby who like all babies, creates as much laundry, spills, spit ups, dirty diapers and messes as is humanly possible.

My house gets trashed on a daily basis and is by no means perfectly clean all the time. Just wanna throw that out there and keep things real.

That being said, I feel like I do a pretty good job of staying on top of my house work and I'm more than happy to share my secrets.

Secret #1) My personality. I have always been a clean freak. When I was a little girl my sister would beg me to play dodge ball with her, but I was too busy organizing my room and re-arranging the furniture. As teenagers, she would stay up late listening to music. I would stay up late scrubbing our bathroom and organizing our hair accessories.

I really like things to be clean and orderly. And while I don't like to admit this to my husband, I actually enjoy cleaning. I love to turn on music and get lost in housework. Very therapeutic to just clean and let my mind wander. I feel the most content and happy when my house is clean and because of this, I clean a lot. A LOT a lot. My close friends who ask me how I keep my house so clean always get the same answer from me -- I'm always cleaning!

Secret #2) I have to admit that I DO have a little help. I have hired house cleaners who come every other week and "deep clean" my house. They do in about two hours what would take me four days. Kenny's not a fan of our cleaners (not them personally, but the idea of them). It drives him crazy that I spend the whole day before the cleaners come cleaning our house to get it ready for the cleaners! But before they can mop, dust, and scrub, I have to get everything picked up and put away. Plus I love to have all of my laundry done before they come so that for one peaceful day every other week I can feel like everything is "caught up."

Am I grateful that I am able to afford some help with housework? Extremely.

Does having help make it easier to stay on top of things? For sure. I only have to deep clean every other week and if I can't get to something, I know that the next week it will be done.

Does having help make it so my house is always clean and I don't have to do much? I wish! But no.

Secret #3) I have a daily cleaning routine. I'm going to share my routine, but I recognize that this won't work for a lot of you. It's unique to my situation at the time with small children and a husband who works late a lot of nights. I'm sure once my kids are older, my routine will change. I do believe though that what you do and when you do it doesn't matter. What matters is that a daily routine is in place so that your house never reaches the point of being completely out of control and overwhelming.

During the morning/early afternoon I don't clean a lot - other than picking up messes we make from breakfast and snacks. I'm busy shuttling and entertaining my kids, exercising and running errands. If I am home and have some time, I work off of my to-do list in my binder. By 3 or 4 in the afternoon I like to have all of my kids home. In fact, this year my girls are taking gymnastics and swimming lessons on Saturday mornings so that during the week we have our evenings free. The time change we just had is my all time favorite! I love it when it gets dark earlier because it makes it easier for us to be home in the afternoons. After Ellie gets home from school I give my girls some time to relax and play and then around 4:00 we have a snack and do homework and DEAR time. Then it's straight upstairs for a bath. This is when my cleaning starts.

Immediately after I put my girls in the tub I start a load of laundry. Then while they play in the water and the clothes are washing I attack one room at a time (upstairs). One room at a time is key! It's easy to go to put something away in another room and get side tracked. I don't lose my focus. I keep working on the same room until that room is totally picked up and clean. Then I move on to the next room. I work fast! I bustle around putting everything in its place, checking on the kids and switching out and folding the laundry. In the bathrooms I put items away and wipe off counters and mirrors. Because I do this every evening, bathrooms stay looking nice. I usually have time to get one load of laundry washed, dried, folded and put away during this time and another load going that I finish up later that night while Kenny is reading to the girls. Again, because I do a load or two every night, I don't get too behind on laundry. A lot of nights a load is left in the dryer and that is what I start with the next night. I always run the dryer for 5 minutes again the following night to get wrinkles out and to have warm clothes to fold. :)

I wash the girls' hair and get them out of the tub half way through my cleaning frenzy and then I put them to work!

Secret #4) My girls help. I've found that assigning them specific responsibilities is key - pick up the crayons in the playroom - put the barbies back in their bin - pull your pajamas out of the pile of laundry and put them away.

(Addison - age 3 - folding laundry in her bride dress)I can't say "clean your room" and expect anything to get done, but if I give them a specific task they do a lot better. Yes, in the beginning this was way more work than help, but because I involve them with the cleaning every evening they are actually starting to become better cleaners. My timer and quarters are great motivation on those nights that they aren't feelin' it. Some nights we play music (Gwen Stephani is a favorite for cleaning - lately Christmas music) and some nights we play "freeze" where the girls clean until I say freeze and then they freeze for a minute and then start cleaning again. I know. Sounds so silly, but any way I can make cleaning into a game helps to get my girls moving.

(Just a few weeks ago - scrubbing the dining room chairs while mom mops the kitchen floor. In dress ups of course. My girls clean best when they look fancy. :)After the upstairs is done, we all move downstairs and I make the kids dinner. While they are eating I pick up the living room/kitchen area. I would love to sit down together as a family to eat, but most nights Kenny isn't home early enough to eat with us and aside from cleaning the downstairs I am also taking care of Kole (feeding and holding him) while the girls eat. That's just our reality right now! Then Kenny gets home around 7:00 and I put Kole to bed and finish laundry while he reads to the girls and puts them in bed.

So I basically clean my whole house from 5-7 every evening.

My goal is to be sitting on my couch with kids in bed and everything clean by 7:30 - 8:00 PM. If nothing interferes with my afternoon at home, I manage to pull it off. Kenny and I eat a later dinner together and our popcorn is always popping by 8:00. :) Then it's time to watch our shows and hang out together while I blog. My little treat at the end of a long day.

A few of my favorite cleaning supplies:
1 - Resolve Carpet cleaner. Best carpet cleaner EVER. I love this for any little spills or spit ups on the carpet. Spray a little, wait a little, wipe a little. Magic. I am a freak about clean carpets and this stuff has been my best friend since having children.

2 - Cascade Complete for the dishwasher. Costs just a few dollars more than regular Cascade, but I see a big difference in the way it cleans my dishes.

3 - I so love Pledge! Always makes my tables so shiny and clean. Plus I just love the smell! Whenever I use it Kenny comes home and says "It smells good! You've been cleaning." I always think - actually I've just been Pledging. :)

4 - Plain old Ammonia for mopping my tile floors and Comet for bathroom sinks and counters. Boring and unoriginal, but after trying all kinds of new products I always come back to the basics. They get the job done!

5 - Weiman Granite and Stainless Steel wipes. My FAVORITE. They are five bucks each at Target and I LOVE them. I wipe down my stainless steel appliances with a wipe every day. Takes two seconds and they shine like new. I use the granite wipes once a week on my granite counter tops and they really make my counters shine.
Those are the supplies that I use over and over again!

Tips that have helped me to stay on top of house work:

-Make a place for everything. Don't let flat surfaces or that spare bedroom become a catch all for any and everything. Find a home for things and while you're cleaning put them there. (same as my tips on staying organized)
-Attack one room at a time and don't stop until that room is finished. Then move on to the next room.
-Create a daily routine (whatever works with your schedule) so that you are staying on top of the housework and not letting it get out of control.
-Involve your kids as much as you can. Teach them how to clean and make them responsible for cleaning up their own messes.

(Ellie - vacuuming with mommy - age two)

Hope that answers questions! Gotta go. I'm quite sure there is something in this house waiting to be scrubbed. :)