Monday, August 29, 2016

Countdown School Days Chain

We have 8 days of school under our belt, and I cannot tell you how many times I have already been asked, "How many more days of school until summer?" What? Oh no, I told Cooper that we can't think about that yet. So, then he started asking how many days until Christmas. So funny! I decided to make him a fun, interactive way for him to see for himself! I knew I wanted to breakdown the months into different colors so that he could visually see how many days are left in that month. I grabbed some fun stickers to decorate the chains so he could look and know which month is which. So, I picked out my color scheme and got to work. There are only a few days left in August, so I combined it with September.

November-burnt orange/yellow

 I measured out 1.25" and was able to get 9 strips across each 12x12 piece of yardstick.

After seeing my long stripes, I decided to cut them in half. I didn't want the chain to be super long and snake around the entire room. By cutting them in half each piece of chain is smaller, making for a more compact finished chain (what I'm going don't want it to look like they have a million days of school until Christmas ;-).

The next step is to get out your school calendar or planner (I made sure to sync my planner with the school calendar so I had all the days off recorded. You don't want to put more chains on than you need. I then quickly, wrote a date on each strip. You don't want to be stuck counting how many days are left if you child forgets to remove a few chains here or there, this will help you know at a quick glance which days should still remain or they can happily remove.

I also recorded any fun dates on the chain too (birthdays, holiday, class parties, etc). This will help teach calendar skills as well. Cooper won't need to ask me when his class Halloween party is, he knows it's labeled with the giant pumpkin sticker.

...and last day before Thanksgiving break is labeled with the giant Turkey sticker!

The chain all finished. I was amazed that it didn't look as long as I thought it might, Yay!

75 school days until Christmas break! We can do this!

We hung the chain in Cooper's room (making sure little hands cannot get ahold of it)  and today he proudly ripped off his first chain before school. He's already asked me if I will make him another chain to countdown the rest of the year when this chain is all gone! Yay, I made my first graders day!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Reversible Fall/Christmas Porch Decor

It's time for some fall and winter crafting! I'm on the Women's Ministry Team at my church and we are having a fall craft night coming up on September 19. Becca, a fellow Pastor's wife, and part of the Women's Ministry Team, came up with our fall craft. A reversible Fall/Christmas porch wood display. I thought it was brilliant, two crafts in one night on the same board! Easy storage, and as soon as fall is in the books you simply turn your board around, and change the fun embellishment, and voila you have your Christmas porch display ready to go. 

We got together the other day to each make one to display at our sign up table (and to make sure we thought through the process and had a list of everything we would need and approximate time to complete the boards, etc). We were two brave momma's and did this "crafter-morning" with three kids 3 and under, under foot ;-). So, it probably took us longer to finish as we had to get lunch for the littles, get them bubbles, take them to the bathroom, handle tantrums, etc (all those mommy duties).

When I arrived Becca had already painted one coat of white paint on our first side.

I decided to spell NOEL on my first side, and Becca did JOY. We traced the letters and started painting. What's so fun is you can personalize your board and do whatever you want on either side. You could do Welcome and have it out year round, there are so many options.

The paint dried pretty fast, I did a fast 3 coats on my letters. We used a hair dryer to complete the drying process so we could flip the board and paint the back orange for the fall side (1 coat of paint was all that was needed).  We then took a break for lunch, to give the orange side time to dry.

After lunch, we traced the letters FALL and got to work painting them white. I cut out the word happy out of vinyl, later at home on my Silhouette Portrait machine. Becca hand painted happy and y'all on her board (good job hand lettering Becca, I didn't trust myself)!

Now, bring on Fall! I can picture some pretty mums setting by these fun "Happy Fall" and "Happy Fall Y'all" signs.

The finished Noel and Joy sides. I added a Burlap bow, pine pick, and holly berries. I also want to add some brown jingle bells too.

All in all it took us a little over 3 hours. We still need to spray our boards with a protectant, to help them stand up to the elements. You should have seen our kids by the time we were done! They were wet, sticky, and a hot mess. It was a warm day, and we crafted outside. There was plenty of fun to keep them busy...bubbles, chalk paint to paint with on the driveway, but their patience had run out (and it was nap time). They were troopers, and this is proof that it is possible to finish a project with kids present! So that's a wrap. A double the fun craft, that will knock out two porch decorations in one! It can't get much better than that!

**If you are in the Lee's Summit/Greenwood area and would like to join us to make this craft on September 19th at the Fellowship Greenwood Event Center at 6:30pm, please leave a comment on this post or email me at, or call the church office to reserve your seat at 816-984-8300. The deadline to sign up is Wednesday, September 14th. The cost of the craft is $20 and includes all materials to make a double side porch display, and all the yummy snacks you can imagine. Becca shared the menu with me the other day and my mouth was watering!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Five Things Friday

It's Friday, my favorite day of the week! We have a busy weekend ahead, but who can complain when you get to run from place to place with family? Here's five things from this week.

one. Scooters. My favorite place to get coffee is Scooter's. Unfortunately, since we moved to the MO side, I don't get one very often, it's just far enough away that you have to make a special trip if you want one (that's probably a good thing)! So, last Friday, I was out with my hubby and two littlest boys and we drove to Scooter's after making a few hospital visits together. It was my first Scooter's since moving to MO two years ago.  Scooter's I've missed you and yes, you are still the best! My favorite drink, the white mocha blender! It's so smooth, and the best I have found anywhere! So, I'm hoping that the owner will see my hubby's tweet and open a location near me, pretty please? #ScootersIsTheBest #WeNeedScootersInLee'sSummit

two. My sweet Jack. This guy is pure sugar most of the time. So sweet! He tells me at least five times a day, "Mommy, you're gorgeous." How's that for a self esteem boost? It makes me smile each and every time he tells me. I love that boy. Every now and then he will say that to me when he's in trouble, I think he knows it will smooth things over. He's a smart one. Plus look at that cute face, it's hard to stay upset at this guy very long. Most of the time, he says it out of the blue, I'm one lucky Momma for sure!

three. Summit Waves. My boys school had a Back to School Bash at Summit Waves; a really fun water parks, with two huge covered slides, lazy river, large diving area, pool, and kid zone. The boys had not been there yet, and were excited to go. The cooler temperatures that day did not keep the kids out of the water. They had a blast. It was neat to watch them interact with classmates and have a good time. I ended up just taking Max and Cooper, and it was fun to spend time with just the older boys, and watch them do all their tricks. It was nice to get to talk to their teachers, and get to know them better too. The PTA and staff at the school do a great job in planning activities that the kids and their families will enjoy.

four. Chesapeake Shores. Has anyone else caught an episode of this new show yet? I've watched the pilot and episode 1 and I'm really liking it. I think it could be my new show.
It airs on Sundays at 8:00 pm Central time on the Hallmark Channel, check it out.

five. Weather. Someone in my neighborhood snapped this picture of the severe weather unfolding Wednesday night. I was in the basement with the fam, so I had no idea that this was what it looked like outside. Yikes! Our TV and internet service went down, so I could not get any updates, but heard the tornado sirens go off, so we headed to the basement. I'm so glad that nothing transpired, and that heavy rain and strong winds were the extent of the storm. We had a sweet moment in the basement where 3 of the 4 boys were on Chris' lap (they were scared and felt safe in their Daddy's arms), Cooper was very nervous about the weather and Chris led us in prayer. It calmed him down, I hope my sweet boys will always turn to God when they feel scared.

Happy Weekend!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Mission Organization...Kitchen Office Supply Drawer

I have several organization projects floating around in my head. I decided to tackle the smallest and easiest project first. The kitchen junk drawer. Six months ago, I started by cleaning out the entire drawer and going through the contents. It had the most random things in it, and of course I could never find what I needed, when I needed it (I don't have a picture of what it looked like before my first organizational attempt). Out came old expired coupons, receipts, string, small kids fishing kit (I don't know why that was in there), buttons, keys, pens, toys, and much more. I organized the drawer with an old desk drawer organizer that I had since college. It worked for a few days, but it was very shallow, so it could not hold very many of any supply before it would spill into the neighboring compartments. It got worse when the boys brought all their school supplies home and dumped extra supplies in the drawer.   Here is a picture before I began my second organizational attempt.

My first step was to make a list of what I wanted in my new organization system.  
A dedicated spot for:
  • -scissors and hole punch
  • -pencils and pens (sharpies will be kept in a higher cabinet until my little boys are older...let's just say there was a sharpie incident on my new ottoman a few months ago and I'm still recovering).
  • -tape and washi tape (which is always missing when I need it)
  • -paper clips
  • -rubber bands
  • -stapler and staple refills
  • -ruler
  • -sticky notes
My second step was to measure my drawer. I did a little browsing online and checked a few places that I had heard might have some organizational solutions (Dollar Tree, Target and Home Goods). I struck out at these stores so I headed to The Container Store. They have the answer to any organizational challenge that exists. I pulled in and was so excited to walk the aisles, that is until I remembered I had 3 out of 4 boys in the back seat. Never mind, this was going to be a fast trip ;-).

I located the drawer organizer aisle and took a look at their selection. I debated between the clear acrylic or the white plastic, but I was really looking forward to lining my drawer in a pretty pattern and the acrylic option would allow the print to be seen more visibly than the plastic option. Here's a fun and useful thing I found at The Container Store. They have a pull out surface that has a mat with rulers down the sides, so you can play around with placement and make sure the containers will fit in your drawer. Genius! So easy, and it made picking out my containers while wrangling three boys so much easier!

I used a coupon, paid, and loaded the boys up (after dumping/cleaning Jack's carseat out that contained his entire Cherry Limeade, that he took the lid off of and bumped while trying to get in the van, in The Container Store parking lot...just keeping it real)!

I then lined the drawer with  Duck Brand Deco Adhesive Laminate Shelf Liner, in Blue Herringbone.  I love to open this drawer now, it is so bright, clean, and fun. Every time I open it, it puts a smile on my face. Most importantly, I can find what I am looking for and everything has a designated place. Now, on to my next organizational challenge...stay tuned.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Five Things Friday

Woohoo, Friday is here! I'm so excited to have a couple days off from the new school routine. I have a feeling that is why my school district starts on a Wednesday, you get a break after just 3 days #thankful! Here's five things from me today.

one. I finally made it to the DMV! It's only taken me two years to get my Missouri license. This is a huge weight off my shoulders, my Kansas license was going to expire next month. Now that the two big boys are back in school it is so much easier to get out and do little errands like this (without having to hear the complaining that they don't want to go. Seriously boys, do you think I want to go either)?
I walked in and took a number (15, and they were only on 3...yikes, good thing I brought snacks for the little guys). I was getting settled in for the long wait when a nice women stood up from across the room and said, "Anyone here for Drivers' Licenses?" I went to her desk, and she began to help me immediately, I didn't have to wait after all. I was in complete shock and about to break into a happy dance. I'm now 100% a Missouri girl! Now, I need to find a fun MO shirt to show my home state pride ;-)
two. The boys started school on Wednesday. 1st and 4th grade, how did this happen? We met their teachers the other night, and they are both great. Cooper's teacher even graduated from K-State,   which is where I graduated from too! It's hard to find fellow Wildcats here in Missouri. I think we will get along just fine! I'm so proud of my boys, and I miss them when they're at school all day. I'm praying they both have an amazing year.

three. 33 days until Fall! I love fall. The colors on the trees, the smells (pumpkin spice), and crispness to the air all get me excited for the season to come. It is also perfect running weather. I'm getting excited for brisk cool runs with the beautiful changing leaves. Here's to hoping I can find a road like this to run down this fall #swoon!

I was at Michael's last week and picked up some crafting supplies on clearance, I'm excited to do a fall DIY decor project for my home. Stay tuned, I'll be posting the finished product in the weeks to come.

four. Packing Lunches. I'm not looking forward to getting back in the swing of packing lunches every morning, but I'm trying to plan ahead this year. I have been pinning lots of great lunch ideas on pinterest, and the other day I sat down with my boys and went through them. They gave me feedback on which things sounded good, which ones they would definitely not eat, and what they wanted to see in their lunch. I purchased each of them a 10 oz. thermos to send warm and cold things in for their lunches this year, and a set of these plastic bento boxes.
I'm excited that these reusable containers will cut down my use of plastic sandwich baggies. This was Cooper's First Day of School lunch, and I was so excited when he brought it home almost empty. This was a big improvement from last school year (when sometimes the whole lunch came home untouched). My new dilemma is they want different things in their lunch (who has time to fix multiple lunches that are not the same)? Help!

five. Max came home yesterday and told us he wants to join the running club at school. Be still this running mama's heart! I see some mom/son races in our future. He ran a 5k back in May with Chris and actually finished first in his age division and 6th overall. I think I need to take some lessons from him.

Have a fantastic weekend!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

How Parenting is Like the Olympics

I love the Olympics. Everything about it is so awe inspiring. I love watching the competition and hearing the life stories of the various athletes. I love how it makes me feel proud to be an American, and that it brings the whole world together. A few nights ago, as I was watching some track and field, I couldn't help but think that parenting and the Olympics have many similarities.

one. Sometimes the conditions are not ideal. We have all been hearing the reports out of Rio that athletes might be swimming and sailing through raw sewage, industrial runoff, trash, and algal blooms that are in the bay. The Zika Virus has kept some athletes from even making the trip to compete in Rio. The diving pool turned a deep shade of green due to overly aggressive algae growth. Well, in parenting there are some less than ideal situations we have all found ourselves in at one time or another. Situations such as cleaning "raw sewage" out of the bathtub, cleaning up accidents during potty training, cleaning up vomit from every little crevice in the car seat, finding moldy plates or cups in your child's room, and disposing of sippy cups that have been missing a few days and now emit a foul smell of rotten milk. Take out all these conditions, and parenting, and the Olympics would be a lot more glamorous.

two. Sometimes all eyes are on us. Obviously, the entire world is watching these world class athletes compete in their sport. As parents we can also find "all eyes on us." Just the other day, my three year old had a massive meltdown right after arriving at the pool. All eyes were on me as I began to handle the situation. I tried having said child sit out on the pool chair for three minutes to calm down. It did not work. He screamed louder, was trying to run away and jump in the pool. My first parenting strategy was not working.  So, I made the decision that I needed to take him home and wait until he calmed down, talk about/discipline him for his behavior, and then assess if we could go back to the pool. He continued his fit until we got home. He finally realized that I meant business and that he was going to lose out. After a teaching moment, and some time away from the pool, we then returned. When I first walked in I had felt embarrassed that everyone had witnessed my son's meltdown. A parent walked by me and commented that her son had been behaving the same way all week. Her comment felt like she was offering a parenting fist bump (an "I get you"). We've all been there and have had to handle things while others watch on (if you're shaking your head no, just wait). Just like Olympic athletes we have to do the best we can, with what we've got.  We'll be thrown into situations or circumstances, but it's nice to have others cheering us on from the sidelines (please encourage rather than criticize).

three. Endurance. These athletes have been training since they were very young. All for this moment. They have sacrificed much to get where they are. Many have talked about missing out on childhood, prom, and other activities because instead they were at the gym, pool, or track training. These athletes work for years for their chance to make the Olympic team, in hopes of showing the world that they are the best. This takes dedication, love for their sport, mental focus, and a lot of energy and determination.

As parents we are in this thing for 18 plus years, not knowing how it's all going to turn out. There are sleepless nights (lots of caffeine), sacrifices, and days we want to pull our hair out. But we keep going! Some days we wonder if we are doing anything right at all, but in the end we give it everything we've got, because we love these little humans that are entrusted to our care. Lord willing, in 18 plus years, when we get to see the fruits of our labor as parents we will like what we see, and feel that we have been victorious. Just like Olympic training, parenting takes dedication, love for our "sport," mental focus, a LOT of energy, determination, and prayer.

four. Pride. I love watching the medal ceremony and seeing the athletes who after all their hard work and dedication, receive their reward.  As the national anthem begins to play some are overcome with emotion. As I watch my kids day to day, I too feel this sense of pride, and I am amazed at what I get to be apart of. Raising this little person to be the best person he/she can be. Whether, I'm watching them accomplish things they have worked hard for; riding their bike without training wheels, a good grade on a spelling test, or a great hit at a ball game. Or watching their character develop and seeing them treat a peer with compassion, encourage and help their siblings, or include someone that was left out. I am overcome with emotion, that all the hard work and dedication are paying off! All these small moments contribute to the amazing journey of parenthood. The rough bumps in the road, make the victory that much sweeter!

five. Quitting is not an option. The other night I watched as the favorite runner in her heat, slipped and fell at the end of her race (the track was still wet from the rain that day). She didn't quit and give up, she jumped back up and finished the race, coming in last place in her heat. Or runners Abbey D'Agostino (USA) and Nikki Hamblin (New Zealand) who collided during the 5,000 meter event. 
Hamblin says, "I went down, and I was like, 'What's happening? Why am I on the ground?'" "Then suddenly, there's this hand on my shoulder [and D'Agostina saying], 'Get up, get up, we have to finish this.' And I'm like, 'Yup, yup, you're right. This is the Olympic Games. We have to finish this.' "I'm so grateful for Abbey for doing that for me. That girl is the Olympic spirit right there."

Quitting is not an option. Some days giving up feels like the easy thing to do, there may be pain and conflict.  But we fight, and we press on, because parenting and raising kids is a high calling. We have to finish this! We have to be there and champion one another on in this parenting endeavor. There is no time for judgement and criticism from the sidelines. We are better together. Who can you "put your hand on their shoulder" and encourage today?

So Olympic Parent, disappointed that you don't have a gold medal to show for your efforts? I think you do. Just look into the eyes of your precious child and see the love they have for you, their parent, who has trained hard, endured, and persevered to be the parent they need. So keep up the good work, keep your eye on the end goal, you're going to get there!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Tastes of Summer: Delicious Sides on the Grill

We have done a lot of grilling the last few months. My hubby, Chris, came up with this delicious vegetable medley at the beginning of summer. He used things picked from our garden, and some other ingredients I already had on hand. It always amazes me that he can just whip something up from ingredients just laying around the kitchen (my recipe book and I are connected at the hip ;-). We have made this dish many times since. It has became one of our go-to summer sides. My favorite thing about is so easy! Give it a try at your next grilling session.

Grilled Vegetable Medley

  • white new potatoes
  • zucchini
  • yellow squash
  • onion
  • butter (between 1/4 c.- 1/2 c. of butter...depends on how health conscious you are;-)
  • salt
  • pepper

 Chop the zucchini, yellow squash, and onion.

 Spray some cooking spray on a large piece of foil. Add your chopped veggies to the foil.

Chop your butter into small pieces and spread over your vegetable mixture. Salt and pepper before closing up the foil into a packet. Place on the grill and let cook for 15-20 minutes, until vegetables are soft.

This second side is a sweet twist on corn on the cob. Your kids are sure to eat their veggies without complaint!

Sweet Corn on the Cob

  • Corn on the Cob
  • Butter (1/4 cup)
  • Sugar (less than 1 tablespoon)

Melt the butter in a microwave safe dish. Pour over the corn. Sprinkle sugar over the corn and melted butter. Fold up the foil to make a closed packet and place on the grill. Cook for 15-20 minutes. You can open foil and turn corn after 5-7 minutes so the corn cooks evenly.

Enjoy your delicious sides paired with any main dish you like. I love these sides with a grilled hamburger, a delicious pork chop with peach lime topping, or a delicious steak. You really can't go wrong adding this side to any main course!

What are your favorite summer side dishes?

Thursday, August 11, 2016

[Video] Preserving Family Memories with the Project Life App

Preserving family memories is one of my passions. I love the thought of documenting our life knowing that my boys can look back at our memories from their childhood and our life as a family. That for me is priceless. I started out as a traditional scrapbooker (paper, printed photos, embellishments, etc), but as time passed I had less time to devote to documenting memories; and honestly my tastes changed (I wanted a cleaner more streamlined look to my memory keeping). I began using Digital Project Life and LOVED it! I used this process until the App came out. The Project Life App was a game changer for me. What used to take me 20-30 minutes to make a page, I could finish in 3 minutes or less. Amazing! The app is so user friendly. I love to tell everyone I know about this awesome system! I am completely up to date in documenting our 2016 family yearbook, which is the first time ever for me! I cannot wait until December 31st, I will be able to print and have my 2016 family yearbook in my hands ASAP. 

Here is a quick video I made to give you a fast overview of the app.

I am using the Project 52 2016 edition (in the Project Life App) to document this year. I love everything about it; the colors, designs, and I know you will too.

I document each week Monday-Sunday (that way the weekend is kept together). Each Monday, I open up my app and pull up a new layout and open the new week card (example:  Week 31 and the type the dates August 1-7, 2016). Now as the week unfolds, I will slide pictures from my phone (or ones taken with my camera) into the layout for the week. All with the touch of a button.  I usually like to choose about 5 pictures per page, 1 4x6 title card, 1 3x4 filler card, and 1 3x4 Journaling Card.  You can type any memories on the journaling card that you want to remember about your week or you can use Siri and speak the memories and they will be transferred onto the card (so incredibly simple).

One thing that I didn't show you in the video is you can easily move the pictures and cards around in your layout, by touching the card or picture and holding down for a second and then move it and drop it in a different box. It's so fast and easy to rearrange your pictures to get your page looking just right!

After I have completed a layout I will export it to my computer for safe keeping (and I also upload to my photo book through Blurb). I keep adding layouts to my book throughout the year, and then when the year is done, I can print my book (they run nice sales frequently, so I wait for a good coupon code before printing).

You can also print your pages through the app, or through Persnickety Prints, and then slip them into page protectors in an album. I'll talk more about printing your pages into a book or as individual sheets in another post soon.

Are you ready to start preserving your family memories today?

  • You can download the Project Life App HERE
  • You can purchase the Project Life Physical products HERE
  • You can purchase the Project Life Digital products HERE (for those with access to Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Photoshop Elements).

If you have any questions, leave me a comment below, I would love to answer it for you. What is your favorite way to preserve your family memories?