Monday, September 9, 2019

39 Things I've Learned About Myself

Yesterday, I turned 39! I thought it would be fun to share 39 things I have learned about myself over the years!

1. I'm an early riser.

2. I prefer the beach to the mountains (but I love the mountains too)!

3. I love having a big family.

4. I'm very goal oriented. I love to set a goal, plan how I'm going to reach it, and go after it!

5. I'm not a naturally organized person, but once I get a system or plan in place for a certain area, I can stay organized.

6. I work well under pressure.

7. Chris is my favorite person, and I love spending time with him.

8. I love to laugh. I love to be around people who make me laugh.

9. When I feel stressed, I like quiet.

10. Reading God's Word not only draws me closer to Him, but takes the focus off me and places it on Him, lessening anxiety and worry in my life.

11. I feel the best when I eat clean.

12. If I could go back and pick a college major today, I would pick something completely different.

13. My life as mom, has brought me more joy than I ever knew was possible. It's a hard job, but also rewarding.

14. I have more time than I think I do, I've been finding this by staying off my phone.

15. Being creative brings me joy.

16. I love to read, but would pick doing something with my hands/being creative to fill my free time nine times out of ten.

17. I like to mow the grass. Random. I don't mind it at all. Maybe it's the instant gratification of the nice neat rows of a manicured lawn as you go up and down each row. Now that I have boys that are old enough to help with this chore, I make sure I allow them enough mowing time 😂.

18. Chipolte is one of my favorite places to eat.

19. I love a classic, tailored style of clothing.

20. I love to learn new things.

21. I love to run. I found this completely on my own. I would take off from my house with my walkman back in junior high and high school. I never come home from a run disappointed that I went. I love to run long distances. Short races don't do it for me, half marathon (13.1 miles) is where it's at (about to run my 12th in October). I would love to run at least one full marathon, maybe before I turn 40!

22. When something is bothering me, I tend to hold it in. Chris has to often pull it out of me.

23. My favorite quick snack is hummus. Thankfully, two of my boys love it too!

24. I love all the seasons. There is something amazing about experiencing 4 seasons. You never get tired of any one season.

25. Jesus has to be the one I turn to.

26. I'm destined to be surrounded by boys. I have two brothers (who are both great by the way), and always wanted a sister. I now have five boys! We got a puppy last Christmas, and I was sure we would pick a girl dog, but picked a male goldendoodle puppy. See always surround by boys 💙💙💙💙💙💙💙!

27. I don't like change. The older I get, the more I see that change is hard for me.

28. I love Hallmark movies ❤️.

29. I would pick a pedicure over a manicure any day. They last longer.

30. I don't like waste. If the boys get an apple out to eat, I hate finding an apple with one bite out of it.

31. I'm old school in many ways. I still love to write with pen and paper. I have a paper planner. In a day and age where most people text. I still enjoy a good phone call with a friend, especially if we need to catch up on life.

32. I love photography.

33. I don't like conflict. I avoid it at all cost.

34. I prefer deep cleaning to surface cleaning (weird, I know).

35. I enjoy a good game of badminton or whiffle ball in the backyard.

36. I love a good deal!

37. I run on spark water! I haven't had soda pop in almost 2 years!

38. I don't like my calendar to be jam packed with activity. I like to have margin built in. I love nights at home. A slow weekend is my favorite!

39.  Growing old hasn't been as hard as I thought it would be. 10 years ago, I thought I was the perfect age, 29. Old enough people start to take you seriously, but still young. I'm 39 and I don't feel a day older than I did back then. The difference however comes that I feel more comfortable in my skin. I'm not as worried about what other people think of me. I want to look at each new year as a blessing!

I'm praying year 39 will be as great as the last 38. Here's to another great year of growth, happiness, and growing closer to Christ as I serve Him.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Five Things Friday-September 6

It's Friday! Yay! This week was a short and quick one. I hope you enjoyed an extra day off from your regular schedule.  Let's jump right into five things from me on this Friday.

Serving at City Union Mission on Labor Day. We took the boys down to City Union Mission and served lunch. It's great to live to bless, and good to help instill that from an early age in our kids. It's important to get outside of the four walls of your home and get your kids serving those in need. It helps them develop compassion and kindness toward others.  I'll be honest a couple of my kids weren't too pleased at the thought of giving up part of their day off school. But, I think they would all tell you that they enjoyed serving and I was proud of each one of them for jumping in serve. If you are looking for a way to serve as a family, give City Union Mission a call!

A Very Brady Renovation. I could not be more excited for this new HGTV show. HGTV is renovating the Brady house. You know the one, the front of the house they always showed from the outside, but it wasn't really the actually inside. Well, HGTV bought the home and is turning it into the actual Brady house, down to the very last detail. The actors who played the Brady kids are each helping renovate a different room in the house on each episode. I LOVE this concept! I told Chris the other day that I grew up watching all the reruns of this show and could not love it more. I would be surprised if I haven't seen every episode. We decided we need to start watching The Brady Bunch with the boys, it is such a good, clean show. First episode airs Monday, September 9 at 8:00 pm central time.

Birthday Weekend! My birthday is Sunday! I've always been a birthday person. My birthday falls on a very busy Sunday this year, so it might feel a bit different. None the less, I'm thankful for the blessing of another year of life. I used to not enjoy turning another year older, until I finally realized age is just a number. I feel just as good, if not better, at almost 39 as I did at 29, so just live every day to the fullest. Take good care of yourself, eat well and exercise, and then age really is just a number. There is something great about the mid to upper 30's, you start to feel comfortable in your own skin. A natural confidence begins to exude from you, because you've lived life and have some wisdom. I'm coming at you with open arms 39, it's going to be a great year, I just know it!

Loaded Bacon Burger Bowl-Paleo Running Momma does it again! Chris and I are on a little Whole 30 reset, no big deal, we eat clean a lot of the time, so it's not a very drastic change. However, over the summer, with vacation, and the boys home, and all the fun summer treats, a few old habits slipped back in. September is the perfect time for a little reset! I've said it before, Paleo Running Momma is one of my go to Whole 30 recipe sources and all my kids ate their entire dinner when I made this meal this week. So, I had to share it with you, find it HERE. Healthy and kid approved! Make it this weekend!


Grout Cleaning Solution. I've received feedback that several of you tried the trick I shared a few weeks ago about my dishwasher revelation. I'm so glad that it is working for so many of you! Well, I'm back to share a new cleaning solution I discovered this week. I have some light colored grout in my bathroom. I've tried a few different products to clean the grout and have not had any success. I came across the simplest cleaning recipe for grout the other day, 1 part vinegar to 1 part water. I had nothing to lose so I mixed it up, not really thinking it would work, it seemed too easy 😂. I applied it to the grout, let it soak for a few minutes, and then used a scrub brush, and I was amazed at the finished product. I could actually see the difference as I was scrubbing. It doesn't smell the best while you are cleaning (hello, vinegar), but for clean grout I can take one for the team!

In case you missed it this week:

Do you have any life hack or cleaning tips and tricks to share? I would love to hear yours in the comments section. Have a wonderful Friday and enjoy your weekend!

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Lunch Box Ideas for Kids-Part 2

Today, I'm back with part two of lunch box ideas for kids. It's imperative to keep things exciting in the lunch box if you want your child to finish their lunch everyday! My goal for my kids lunch is to help them properly refuel their body, so they are can better concentrate and focus on their studies, setting them up for success in the classroom. It's really important to me to find foods to add to their lunch that are somewhat healthy and they enjoy. The best way I've found to do this is to keep a running list of items that my kids like, anytime I try something different and it's a success, I add it to the list. This gives me a great list to refer to when I'm creating my grocery list and it sets me up for a successful school year. Here are five more ideas I've been sending in my boys lunch that have been winners!

1. Bagel with cream cheese. Strawberries and yogurt.

 2. Ham and Cheese Wrap, applesauce, carrots, and animal crackers. I spread ranch dressing on a tortilla and added a layer of ham and cheese. You could modify the meat and toppings to create new wrap ideas to keep things exciting. These animal crackers from Aldi are the best, they have such a great lemony favor.

3. Cheese (or chicken and cheese) quesadilla. I made the quesadilla on my stove top. It only took a few minutes. You can wrap the quesadillas in foil after you cut to keep it warm longer. Sour cream and salsa for dipping. Chips and salsa.  I keep my box of go-gurts in the freezer, add it to the lunchbox and it's the perfect temperature by lunch time.

4. Pasta (spaghetti with sauce or fettuccini alfredo), applesauce, breadstick, and dessert (optional). Don't forget to utilize leftovers! Pasta is the perfect meal when you have leftovers, to reheat and enjoy again. Simply warm your thermos by boiling water and placing in the thermos for at least five minutes to get the thermos hot. Dump water out and place re-heated pasta inside.

5. Ham, strawberries and blueberries, yogurt, and mini banana chocolate chip muffins. These banana chocolate chip muffins are a huge hit with my kids. If I don't want them to disappear quickly, make them when no one is around! You can also make a double batch and put some in the freezer to use at another time.

For five more lunch box ideas check out, Lunch Box Ideas for Kids-Part 1. What other lunch ideas do you have to keep kids lunch box selections fresh and exciting?

Grocery List:

cream cheese
animal crackers
ranch dressing
shredded cheese
tortilla chips
sour cream (optional)
chocolate chips
any snack/dessert items

various fruit:
ripe bananas (for muffins)

Friday, August 30, 2019

Five Things Friday-August 30

Happy Friday! This Friday is extra exciting with Labor Day on Monday, and a three day weekend coming our way! I hope you have some fun and exciting things in store. Tonight kicks off high school  football at my son's school and we are headed to the game. The cooler temps has me a little excited for all things fall, and that includes football. Here's five things from me on this Friday!

100 Days Lunch Check List-On Monday, I shared 5 lunch box ideas for kids, you can check that out HERE, if you missed it (and come back next Monday, I'll be sharing 5 more new lunch box ideas). Earlier this week, one of my favorite accounts to follow on instagram, 100 Days to Real Food, posted this awesome School Lunch Chart for Kids. There are tons of great lunch ideas and she gave the idea of laminating this printout and having your kids use a dry erase marker to check items they would enjoy having in their lunch for the week. This allows you to easily transfer their lunch wishes to a shopping list. She has the printable available for free on her website. I love that this great idea includes your kids in the lunch process, creating a more probable outcome that they will eat their lunch, since they helped select the items for the week.


Kansas City Marathon-I'm excited to be running in the Kansas City Marathon again this year, in October. This will be my seventh time to run this race. It's my favorite race in Kansas City. There is nothing like running downtown, I love the sights and the challenge (it's a very hilly race course). School has thrown off my training schedule, so I've had to set my alarm even earlier, but this is the payoff. Gorgeous sunrises. Someone pulled over to the side of the road and put their hazard lights on while I was taking this. Not sure what was going on, hopefully they were going to check on my well being, and it was all on the up and up, but they sped off when I started to run again. I had my guard dog Wally with me, so I wasn't too concerned, but it's a good reminder to always be vigilant and aware of your surroundings.

Beef Tips-Healthy Little Peach is my go to place to get Whole 30 recipes. Everything I have ever made from Mac's website is amazing. This Beef Tips recipe is a hit with my entire family, and that is a hard feat with five little boys with distinct palates. Be sure to add the ingredients to your grocery list and make it soon! You will thank me.

 photo cred: Healthy Little Peach

Wedding File Box. I was looking for a book in my basement and ran across my wedding box. This is how you planned a wedding back in 2005, before Pinterest. I bought this box at Target right after Chris and I got engaged, it was specifically for wedding planning. It was so fun to look through all that was inside. Wedding magazine were all the rage and I'm so happy I saved these from when I was planning my wedding. It was fun to see the receipts from the wedding to see what a tux cost back in 2005, compared to today. Does anyone even announce their engagement in the newspaper anymore? I remember reading that section every Sunday. It was so fun to step back in time this week. 
Anyone else plan their wedding before Pinterest?

MOMS (Ministry of Motherhood)-I'm on the leadership team of our MOMS group at church. We met last night for another planning meeting before our fall kickoff. Now that I'm getting into a school routine, I'm so excited that my twice a month recharge will be starting soon. There's nothing like dropping your sweet children off, with loving caregivers, and heading into a two hour break full of fellowship, food, and fun. We have some fun things planned this year. Our theme for the year is "Encourage and Build Up," from 1 Thessalonians 5:11. What meeting ideas or speaker ideas do you have for us, we are always looking for some fresh, fun, new ideas!

Enjoy your long weekend, I would love to hear how you are going to spend your weekend!

Monday, August 26, 2019

5 Lunch Box Ideas for Kids-Part 1

Finding good, healthy food options to pack in your child's lunch can seem like a tough task. Last year I got stuck in a lunch rut, and found myself packing a sandwich and chips for my boys everyday. I started to notice when the lunchbox would come home at the end of the day, the sandwich was still in the lunchbox and had not been touched. I knew I needed to come up with a better plan for this year. A few weeks before school started, I sat down with my boys and began listing off a bunch of lunch ideas. They would give me a yes or no, and I wrote everything down so I could refer back to it later. This school year, I have been changing it up, and so far my boys are loving it. Their lunch boxes are coming home empty and I'm happy to know that they are getting the nourishment to fuel their bodies to allow them to focus on their learning at school. I also want to note, these meals can be packed ahead of time for kids who are home with you all day. Then, all you have to do at lunch time it grab them from the refrigerator and lunch is served! Here are a few of the ideas I've been sending with the boys.

1. Mini pizzas - Bake on grands biscuits, spread a little spaghetti sauce and cheese and other desired toppings (pepperoni, hamburger, canadian bacon, etc). After they came out of the oven, I wrapped the individual pizza in foil before placing it in their lunch box. My son proudly told me that it was still warm at lunch! Fruit and fruit dip (made with plain yogurt and maple syrup), and cucumbers.

2. Make your own lunchable. I used crackers, pepperoni, and cheese. You could also use deli ham or turkey meat to change it up. A mini orange (peeled for my youngest school age son), and scooby snacks (like graham crackers) with a dollop of icing to dip them in! 

3. Salad. This one make my heart happy. My two elementary age sons specifically asked for this lunch. They love salad. I packed the dressing on the side to add later. Strawberries, and hummus and Naan bread. They have had this meal a couple times already.

4. Peanut Butter, Strawberry Jelly, and Banana Roll Up- I was pleasantly surprised at how delicious this was, and super easy to make. Add a side of fruit, and and some goldfish or other snack and you are set.

5. Mac and Cheese-For this lunch I used a thermos to keep the mac and cheese as warm as possible. Bring water to boiling in a small sauce pan and then pour into empty thermos. Put the lid on and let set for at least 5 minutes and then dump the water out, and dry with a paper towel. Then place warm mac and cheese inside. My son loved this lunch and he happily reported after school, that his mac and cheese was still warm at lunch! Add some fruit and a snack and you are set. These scooby snacks (graham crackers) with the addition of some milk chocolate and white chococlate chips was the perfect way to finish off lunch!

Five more non sandwich lunch ideas are coming to the blog next Monday! Check back for more inspiration. What other fun lunch box ideas do you have to keep kids excited about lunch?

Grocery List (some of these ingredients you will already have on hand):
cheese (pre cut or to cut into slices)
box of Scooby Snacks or graham crackers
shredded cheese
salad dressing
Naan bread (or you could use crackers you already purchased for the homemade lunchable)
gold fish
peanut butter
mac and cheese
chocolate chips

various fruit:

Friday, August 23, 2019

Five Things Friday-August 23

Does this feel like the longest week in history to anyone else? Maybe it's just me because of number one below, or the first full week of school could also have something to do with it! Getting into a new routine is hard. Let's jump right in to Five Things Friday, friends.

Chris in Panama on a Mission Trip. I'm so thankful that he got to go. Our team partnered with the International Mission Board (imb) missionaries to learn techniques to reach unreached people groups. It was a great trip with many gospel conversations, and at least 10 coming to Christ! Having him gone at the beginning of school was a little intense. I was dealing with back-to-school things by myself, with his support from 3,500 miles away, but it was challenging at times. I'm so thankful to have him home and to hear all about the week.

This is how big avocados are supposed to be! Seriously, why are all the avocados here in the US so small?
Chesapeake Shores. I'm so excited for the return of Chesapeake Shores this Sunday, on the Hallmark Channel. The setting of this show is absolutely stunning, I would love to go vacation in this beautiful destination (which is on Vancouver Island's Qualicum Beach and neighboring town of Parksville, British Columbia). Chesapeake Shores is a multi-generational family drama following main character, Abby O'Brien as she adjusts to life back in her hometown of Chesapeake Shores. The O'Brien family consists of five siblings, so there are always multiple storylines going on in each episode. If you haven't checked this show out, set your DVR or tune in Sunday at 7:00 pm central time! You will be hooked in no time. 

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sprinkles. The little boys and I made a new cookie recipe while the big boys were at school this week. They love helping me in the kitchen and are very good at it! These cookies were a hit and the boys were so excited for an extra special after school treat. Check out the recipe here. Just a side note, if you like softer cookies bake these for a few minutes less than the recipe calls for. My kids and I are a huge fans of soft cookies so I always shorten every cookie recipe by a few minutes!

Johnson Farms Mums. Mum Season opens today at Johnson Farms! You know what that means, right? Fall is right around the corner. It doesn't feel like it yet to me, but I like that we are starting to see small signs that fall is on the way. I have been getting Johnson Farms Mums for four years now and they are the biggest, prettiest mums for the price around (3 gallon garden mums are $11.99 each or 3/$32.99). I can't wait to go pick out my mums for this year. If you are in the Kansas City area, you need to head to Johnson Farms and while you are there take your picture at their new Mum Selfie Station for a chance to win a dozen pumpkin donuts, #yesplease.

Dishwasher Revelations. I love Five Things Friday because I get to talk about five random things. I've been frustrated with my dishwasher lately. Several dishes come out dirty and I have to wash them again, and sometimes by hand. So, I did some research, or should I say Facebook happened to have a random article in my feed about "8 Things You Are Doing Wrong With Your Dishwasher." It was a little worrisome that Facebook seemed to know I was having this problem, but anyway, my interest was peaked. I learned in the article that dishwasher detergent powder is better than the pods for getting your dishes clean, and it's cheaper! I picked some up at the store on my next trip, and I've seen a significant improvement in my dishwashers cleaning ability. If you too have been having this issue, try the more cost effective solution of dishwashing powder. Just solving all of life's problems over here!

In case you missed it this week:

Happy Friday! We have a fun weekend ahead with a wedding of two friends Chris and I thought would make a great couple, even before we knew they were dating, so do we get credit for this union? Other than that, rest and enjoy my family is what is on the docket. What are you excited for this weekend?

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

How to Keep Kids Entertained, Without a Screen, On-the-Go

Keeping kids entertained without a screen can feel like an Olympic sport. We've all been there, stuck in a waiting room for an appointment, and your child who has been ready to leave from the moment you walked in the door, is about to lose their cool. How do you keep them entertained? I've rummaged through my purse before, hoping there was something that would magically keep their imaginations engaged, and voices down, until I could hear the best sound in the world, the nurse calling my name. I once tried to use a first aid kit to keep my youngest one busy, it's all I had at the time. I was so proud of my creativity, I had him using the plastic tweezers to pick up leaves and acorns on the ground, until he started to go near a dog at the home of friends we were visiting. Then the tweezers had to go away! Or, how about this one? You are at your older child's sports practice, younger kids in tow, how do you keep them entertained and happy? After 2.6 seconds of screaming, I usually give in, handing over my phone, hanging my head in defeat. We can't have a scene, you know! There has got to be a better way. 

After many discouraging times out and about I found the old saying to be true, "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail." So, you want to keep your child entertained while out and about, without having to hand them a screen? You need a magic bag of tricks. Think of it as your Mary Poppins bag.

I put together an activity bag before we headed out on vacation this summer. We had an almost 14 hour drive ahead of us, and with five boys in the car, I knew the recipe for a successful road trip was going to be hard to come by if I was not prepared. I tried to come up with things that were age appropriate and peak their interests. It was not going to be a one size fits all approach, with my five boys. Think of things that each of your children would enjoy. Browse the aisles of the dollar store, or the Target dollar spot for fun ideas to change out through the year. It's best to keep things on a frequent rotation so they never know what you are going to pull out (just like Mary Poppins)!

These license plate stickers (from Michaels) are fun to use to play the license plate game while driving. It could be for just one long car trip, or an ongoing game to see how long it takes you to find all 50 states. My son had a special page in his travel journal that he would add a new sticker each time we found a new state. It was fun to yell out, each time someone would see a state we hadn't found before.

Explorers tin-Great to use when at a practice waiting on an older sibling. Have kids try to find things in nature to add to their tin.

Coloring books


Crayon/Colored Pencil/Marker Holders-rolls up for unplugged, on-the-go fun. Easy, elastic closure, for little ones who don't know how to tie. These are a great way to keep crayons, colored pencils, and markers from rolling around in your purse or bag. Many fun designs are available in my Etsy Shop, Kate Williams Designs.

Activity/Busy bags-I found these binder pencil pouches on Amazon. They are hard to find, expect during back-to-school time. So, stock up during back-to-school or order online. I tried to think of fun activities that would keep my younger kids occupied. The animals were the biggest hit. I had a pouch for mini Mr. Potato Head, cars, legos (this was a hit with my elementary school kids), and little character toys. What I love about these bags is the endless possibilities you can come up with. You can change out the contents frequently to avoid boredom.

 I also packed some magnetic tiles. My kids love to play with these at home, so I knew they would be a hit away from home too. I placed some in a gallon size zip lock and they have saved me on a few occasions!

Find a tote bag and place all of your on-the-go activities inside. Keep it in the trunk of your car and then you never have to worry about being unprepared for down time in the car pick up line at school, long drives, or other times you need a quick idea to keep your child entertained while away from home. Simply grab a few things out of the bag on your way into an appointment, meal at a restaurant, or activity, and you are set!

Kites from the Dollar Store! You never know when it will be the perfect kite flying weather! At $1.00 each, these kites are a great addition to the bag. Flying kites at the park has kept my kids entertained for a long period of time in the past, and with all the running involved it's a great way for kids to burn energy and get exercise.

This Coop Football is a huge hit at our house. My husband and boys love tossing a ball around when we are hanging out. Having one in the bag comes in handy, so no matter where you are, you are prepared for a fun game of catch. This one is also water proof, great for a game at the pool, lake, or ocean!

Sidewalk chalk-It has saved me several times. It worked great at the ball fields keeping my youngest boys entertained while we watched my oldest son's game.

Various card games work great for something new and different to keep kids busy while on-the-go. My boys used a deck of cards to play war, in the car, on our long road trip home! It kept them busy for quite awhile, which made us parents very happy!

Books-always keep rotating new titles in and out of the bag to keep kids attention wihle away from home.

Flash Cards/Clock-Flash cards are the perfect way to work on school math facts, sight words, etc. Maybe keep a small treat bag, in the tote, to reward a job well done. The clock is perfect to practice telling time. You can have your child tell you the time on the clock, or give them a time and have them put the hands of the clock in the right position!



Water Wow Book-These books are great for keeping kids entertained on the go. You fill the pen with water and the pictures on the page change color when wet. After the page dries, you can paint it again. My kids were fighting over who got to use it next. Time to add a few more to my collection!

Now, run, go find a bag and fill it up, and set yourself up for success! Remember to keep changing the contents frequently to keep kids entertained while out and about. Mary Poppins would be so proud!

What ideas do you have to add to the bag? I would love to hear your ideas.