Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pinterest Inspired Play

Just like everyone else I find myself getting overwhelmed by all the decorating, food, house and style inspiration pictures on Pinterest. I sort of have to force myself to lie low every once in a while because I feel like I will never have the "perfect Pinterest life" with the amazing house, designer clothes, perfect Paleo meals on the table every night, and so on. BUT, I have really been inspired by some of the homeschooling and toddler play ideas there lately!!

My favorite pins almost always come from Playful Learning. I think they post a great variety of activities and a lot of them are sensory things that I am very into with Landon right now.
I saw this pin where you make your own indoor ball pit with a cheap inflatable pool and plastic slide and thought that would be right up our alley. We already had a slide we keep in the Living Room (I know..) so I ordered a pool for $8 from Amazon. Plastic balls are expensive so I waited and kept an eye on Amazon to see if I could find a price drop.
Then one day I was in Goodwill looking for a piece of furniture for a project and found a set of 150 balls almost new in the bag! For $4! So we now have a ball pit in our Living Room we are loving for getting our energy out. Other balls and balloons have been added - it has been a big hit!!
Recently I also saw a pin on mirror play on one of the homeschool boards I follow. I loved the idea of using a simple mirror (who doesn't have one at home) to create a new experience with blocks or toys. Kids can learn a sense of symmetry by organizing materials onto a mirror. What a cool concept! We already had a set of plastic shapes I had gotten last year at a garage sale (tip: look for garage sale ads that say "homeschool" or "teacher" for awesome learning supplies!!), similar here. I was amazed how long Landon played at the mirror! He even got different vehicles out and built a tunnel for them with the pieces entirely on his own. :)
One of my "go to" activities when we are bored at home is to do some kind of sensory play with sand outside. I buy sea shells from the Dollar Tree and bury them, or I hide coins for Landon to dig up and then put in his piggy bank. He also likes to just pour sand from one container to another. I saw on Pinterest several ideas using rice, noodles and corn instead of sand -- which is more "inside friendly" because it they can be vacuumed up! I made a rice tub for Landon's diggers and it has been a huge hit! I think this might be a good thing I can pull out when I'm nursing the new baby to buy some time??

Thank goodness for Pinterst! If you want to see all of my Pinterest boards, click here:)

Monday, October 14, 2013


Daily blogging fell off the bandwagon last week but we are back! Let's try this again shall we? :)

Some random thoughts:

- I am obsessed with the company Sevenly! The mission from their website:
In January of 2011, two young Entrepreneurs Dale Partridge and Aaron Chavez got together with the mission of leading a generation toward generosity. With a belief that people mattered, they began a journey to change the world. On June 13th 2011, Sevenly was born. By creating weekly cause campaigns where customers could purchase products that gave $7 to a weekly charity, Sevenly successfully unlocked not only a way to crowd-fund for causes, but to drive massive social awareness as well.
I bought this sweatshirt and I want to get a few more things too (maybe Christmas gifts??) :)

- I have been watching this YouTube makeup tutorial and re-creating it at least a couple times a week. LOVE.

- I decided I'm going to make Landon a Queen's Guard for Halloween and I will be pregnant Kate Middleton (I know.. I am really reaching here! Hah!) and Joe will be Prince William. I got this sweatshirt for Landon which is what gave me the idea. :)
-This recipe, which I found on Pinterest, has made it into our weekly rotation over the past two months. So good!
-Last Sunday in church our preacher announced that we had a 7-year old girl in the congregation who had memorized the entire Sermon on the Mount (over two chapters of the Bible). He had been preaching on it for 30 weeks and had challenged members to try to memorize some or all of it. He asked the girl to come forward and recite it for us and it was the most moving thing to watch that I embarrassingly cried when she finished.  

That's all friends! Happy Monday! :)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Joe's 30th - Branson Trip

Last weekend we celebrated Joe's 30th birthday in Branson with our friends Nate, Becca and their son Jackson. Jackson is Landon's best friend - they are only two months apart in age. Landon and I used to see Becca and Jackson almost every single day when we lived in Wichita. We have missed them so much since we moved.

We decided to book a 2 bedroom villa at the Marriott Willow Ridge Lodge when they were running a 40% off sale and split the cost for three nights. It was a total retreat and we felt like we were at a fancy resort!! It was so nice to be able to do that for Joe's birthday, which was Sunday!
The husbands played golf one day while we girls (and little boys) shopped at the outlets and the rest of the time we ate and played and visited Silver Dollar City. The weather was chilly and perfect :)
This is Landon's favorite ride at SDC - we always ride the frogs first thing when we get to the park! Hah!
We had such a fun time. On the way home we stopped in Conway, Arkansas which is about 40 minutes from our house at Arkansas Pineapple Whip. This has become an obsession of ours since we moved here. It's a little ice cream truck that makes pineapple floats almost exactly like the Dole Whip at Disney. What more could you ask for on your 30th birthday??? :)

Monday, October 7, 2013

My Fall Mantel

Since we are in a rental house for the year while Joe is in his fellowship I decided to scale back on our Fall decor and just do a nice mantel and some other small touches in the house. I love buying Halloween and Fall things but I didn't get anything new this year because I don't want to have to move it in June! :) So here is my "shop what I already had" Fall mantel. :)

I had an antique window that used to be in our bathroom and I put an old twig wreath in front of it. If there's any one piece of advice I've picked up over the years that really makes a mantel look great, it is: layering. I also had a weathered mini tree I got an an antique store in Wichita. I had used it on an end table to hold mini Easter eggs last Spring. Next to it I have an antique brass candlestick set I got at Goodwill for less than $1. I added an old leafy swag under the window and two white pumpkins from Hobby Lobby. And I love a Fall mantle with some black crows; I use them every single year. :)

I'm so glad Fall is here!!

Friday, October 4, 2013


I realize that this post will not be interesting to anyone but me but I want to document some of the quirky and fun things Landon is doing these days at 2 years old. I feel like I've totally dropped off the bandwagon of doing updates on my little sidekick so here's to me getting started again! :)

Things He Says:
-If you ask Landon where Daddy works he says "hop-i-down" for "hospital". I pray he never actually says it correctly because it is so cute. I remind Joe to pronounce it "the Landon way" so he keeps saying it like that. Hah! :)
-He calls us Mama and Daddy about 50% of the time and "Babe" the rest. That's pretty much all Joe and I call each other so it makes sense that he picked that up. There are times from another room I will hear him yell "Babe..!!" calling for me.
-He can count to 10 easily but then starts counting by 2's after that. I have no idea where he picked this up, but it goes like this: "one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, twelve, fourteen, sixteen" and so on!
-His little manners are really starting to come out (and it's something we really work on). His little "sorry" is adorable. He will often trip and say "Oop, sorry!" to himself - hah! Or if I accidentally bump him or scratch him he will say "Sorry! Ok, Mama!".
-He always uses the term "tweet, tweet" for "bird". If you ask him to say the word Bird, he will respond "tweet, tweet".

-Favorites: oatmeal, fruit of all kind, peanut and butter sandwiches (called "butter jelly"), cheese, yogurt "wu-gurt".
-We don't give him juice but they serve it in the nursery at church so he always tells us "yellow juice!" when we pick him up.
-He thinks granola bars are candy bars and fig newtons are cookies. We are sneaky! ;-)
-He drinks 2% "nok" milk.

-He still carries around and is generally obsessed with his lovey, "Blue".
-He is very ticklish!!! Quite possibly the most ticklish person I've ever met! :)
-He loves to "help" by carrying the keys and unlocking the car door, carrying groceries, helping me off the couch (ha ha!), cooking, carrying the mail inside, etc. I love letting him help!
-He's becoming more interested in t.v. so we let him pick a PBS show or two to watch every day. He almost always picks Bob the Builder. Which I kind of like because Bob actually does a lot of cool DIY projects! :)
-He loves doing crafts so we usually do one each day.

I love my little man. I can't imagine living without such an adorable, sweet and funny sidekick with me. :)

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Top Five Dollar Tree Finds

If you love a deal like I do then maybe you already know how awesome the Dollar Tree is. But I get the feeling a lot of people think the store is full of complete junk and I'm here to dispel that myth! :) I go to the Dollar Tree 3-4 times a month and I'll be honest - I usually don't have a "list" of things I'm looking for. But I always find something I can use! These are the top five "categories" of things I can always count on for a good deal!

(1) Holiday Stuff
The holiday stuff goes fast but you can score some awesome deals in this section! I always buy thing I can use for crafts at home or for DIY seasonal decorating. A few weeks ago I found a solid satin-type cape (DIY tutorial coming soon on how to personalize it) for Halloween costumes. These are around $30 on Etsy, so $1 is a steal! We have also been obsessed with window clings in our house. They are so fun for toddlers to stick on windows and move around every day. The ones at Hobby Lobby are smaller and start at $2.99!

(2) Cleaning Supplies
I always get my bleach here (almost 1/2 price from Walmart!) and also their version of the Mr. Clean Magic Erasers are fantastic! One box of two erasers lasts me a month and they are $3-5 at the big box stores.
(3) Pregnancy Tests
Now, go with me here. I'm going to tell you, they are the same exact test you get at Wal-Mart or Target except you don't urinate on the stick itself - you urinate in a cup and use a little syringe they give you to drop your pee on the stick. It is not bad and they are just as sensitive as the other tests and $7-15 cheaper! In fact, it was a Dollar Tree pregnancy test that picked up my pregnancy with Landon at 9 days past ovulation, earlier than a First Response did. :)
(4) Homeschool Supplies
Joe and I are considering homeschooling Landon. Until we decide to proceed formally or enroll him in regular school, I am trying to do some easy curriculum at home. I always get great teaching supplies at the Dollar Tree! They not only have classroom decorating and organizing items but also workbooks, art supplies, stickers (you can buy a book of 400 for $1!!), posters, the list goes on.
(5) Office Supplies
In the same thread as homeschool supplies, I always get our office supplies from Dollar Tree too. Some of the things I keep stocked on that are cheaper than anywhere else are: bubble wrap for packing mail or moving, sticky notes, packing tape, notepads and Sharpies (do you know how expensive Sharpies are at Target?!). I even found this 2014 monthly planner there last week! It's nice quality with thick pages and a faux-leather bound cover. To be honest, I will still probably use my Erin Condren Life Planner but I can keep this in the Kitchen for meal-planning because I don't like keeping that in my personal planner!

So there you have it! Don't avoid the Dollar Tree because you think the stuff inside is junk. There are some great deals to be had! :)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Wedding Registry: What We're Still Using 7 Years Later..

I had the idea to write a post about what wedding gifts we received 7 years ago that we're still using when we were using our electric griddle for breakfast recently. The electric griddle we did not register for but use all.the.time. Ahem. ;-) Now that we're old married folk, I think it's really fun to think about the things we still use and the things we just had to have on our registry that we never use. Some of them are probably still packed in boxes because we've moved at least four times since then.
 So let's take a step back to 2006 and have a look...
We were both 22 years old and had never lived together so to say we had no clue what we needed to "make house" would be an understatement! :) Thankfully, some of the older and wiser guests at our wedding clearly had a better idea of what we needed than we did! I thought this list might be helpful when I'm thinking about what to buy for upcoming weddings or if you are soon to be married maybe this will help you while trying to strategize your own registry list. And if you're already married I would love to hear what things you're using and what things you aren't!!

First of all, a couple things we did not register for that we use all the time!

1. Non-glass/non-fancy cups for drinking.. yes, by all means register for nice glasses but please don't be like us and not think about the fact that 99% of the time you will not be entertaining guests. You will be laying on the couch in your yoga pants, drinking a coke and eating Cheese-It's straight from the box. Oh wait. Is that just us? No seriously though, we received a set of nice Tupperware brand large cups that we use every single day. They wash well, they hold a ton of fluid and they stack nicely in the cabinet. And they are still a heck of a lot nicer than the bar-b-que joint souvenir cups we could be using. The exact ones we have aren't available anymore but they're similar to these :)
2. An electic griddle. I don't even think I knew this existed before we got married but I'm so glad someone at our wedding had the wherewithal to gift this to us! As newlyweds our weekend routine would be to sleep in on the weekends and get up and make a big breakfast. You need this griddle if you'll ever do that. We can do sausage, bacon, pancakes, toast, etc etc all right from one pan! I've even used it to host a baby shower where I did a Grilled Cheese Bar! See!??
This isn't the exact one we have, but I think they're all about created equal and they're an awesome affordable gift for a wedding!!
3. We did register for nice Lenox silverware (yay us for doing something right! Hah!), and since silverware is something you will use every single day, I think a couple should go high end on this one. But please take a word of advice; register for at least two sets! We only got one set which was perfectly fine for the first five years of marriage or so.. then we started hosting small family events, our friends started having bridal and baby showers, we had a baby and we just started using a lot more silverware than we had ever before. And you know what? Our design had been forever discontinued. We still haven't been able to find a second set.
4. I am so glad we received the nice salt shaker and pepper mill set we registered for! We use it daily too, like the cups. I hadn't done much meal cooking before we got married but I am so glad to have a nice set that looks classic sitting near the stove and a pepper mill is a necessity if you're going to be doing any type of intensive cooking! Ours wasn't expensive ($20) but it's so much nicer than the pre-filled shakers at the grocery store.
5. I still have and cherish all of the personalized gifts we received at our wedding. The one example that immediately comes to mind is an elderly friend of the family that hand knitted us pot holders and kitchen towels and made me an apron. I still use them a lot! They are personalized to our taste and since they're not things that get grimy with food regularly they have lasted us years and years. They are similar to these from Etsy.
6. Finally, we registered for two types of cookware for our wedding and received both: stainless steel and non-stick. The high end stainless steel pots and pans we received have been used so much that I can't imagine our home without them. And they show no wear whatsoever! Our Teflon pans, on the other hand, have long since been replaced because they have gotten scratched and dinged along the way. If I had to do it over again, I'd still register for a very nice set of stainless steel equipment but I'd get cheap non-stick pans, knowing they don't have the longevity of stainless anyway.
7. I am so glad we got a neutral colored Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer! We have used it so much in the last 7 years! They are a kitchen necessity in my mind because they can do so much! Plus, you have the added benefit of being able to add attachments over the years to make it fit your changing family/entertaining needs.

Now can we talk about the things we registered for and don't use anymore?

1. Bedding! We registered for colorful bedding that was adorable and perfectly suited our tastes! Our tastes in 2006. Those bedding sets have been replaced several times because we (1) upgraded our queen bed to a king sized, (2) moved to a home where they didn't coordinate well anymore, (3) our tastes evolved.
If I could do it all over again: I'd register for a nice plain white down comforter that I could use duvet covers over as our tastes changed.

2. Towels: We registered (again) for a colorful set that we happily received and used... for a couple years. Then we decided to upgrade our set so we had a full set of towels in our guest room. Then we upgraded again because I decided (finally) it was smart to have all white towels so they could be bleached and kept looking cleaner over the years.
If I could do it all over again: I'd register for a small set of white towels knowing my tastes would change but that I could add to as we needed more over time.

3. Fancy drinking glasses/wine glasses: ours have been infrequently used. We didn't register for enough to manage a full dinner party and we never use the fancy stuff when we're at home by ourselves. They are definitely shoved to the back of the cabinet right now.
If I could do it all over again: I'd register for one simple, large set of affordable glasses that I could pull out for entertaining.

4. Electronics: It should go without saying that these things have all been upgraded over time. We did have a slim kitchen radio we used for years, until we moved over to an iPad with a stand a few years ago. But the camera, alarm clock, etc have all been sold or donated in just 7 years time.
If I could do it all over again: I'd register for one or two affordable items I really wanted right away knowing they'd be replaced in a short period of time!

Now I want to know from you -- what things are you still using from your wedding registry? What were your most used gifts? Please link in the comments if you do a blog post yourself - I'd love to read it!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

September Wrap Up!

I am so disappointed I haven't blogged for the entire month of September but let me tell you - I had a FUN whirlwind month! In one month I was in five states, which for someone who usually only ventures out of the house to go to the kid's museum or Wal-Mart, that is a big deal! :)

{Do you have a comfy seat? Nice cold drink? Because this post is long! :)}

Since Joe is on the heart team and busybusybusy right now I decided I would try to drive the 7 hours north to visit my parents for a few weeks at the beginning of the month. I was so nervous about the drive. I told Joe he may have to send a helicopter to come get us along Highway 65 because Landon wasn't cooperating. But (as it usually works in parenting - it's the things you stress over that turn out to be no-big-deal and the stuff you don't see coming that rock your world!) he did great! We stopped halfway in Branson at Silver Dollar City for a few hours and the drive was super easy after I had thoroughly worn him out ;-). And the homemade kettle corn didn't hurt anything.

We finally made it to my parent's house! The next morning we got up and went to a 5th birthday party - it was for the daughter of my best friend from high school. She had it at a gymnastics/tumbling studio and the kids had such a fun time playing. This picture just melts my heart - Landon loves to watch the older kids and do what they're doing.
We got to spend a lot of time with my sister and her kids while we visited. These cousins love each other so much - and again Landon loves having older kids to play with!!
One night my sister and I went to one of those BYOB painting classes in Kansas City. I am NO artist (my sister is the artsy fartsy one in our family!!!) but it was fun to relax and do something just the two of us. My mom hung my painting in one of her hallways although I wouldn't blame her a bit if she took it down once I left! Hah!
I also had a chance to order the glider for the new nursery. I am very particular about gliders and rocking chairs in general because I know I'll be spending a lot of time there nursing. I got the same style I have in Landon's room from the same furniture store we ordered his from, but in a pretty dark turquoise fabric (middle of picture).
We also just spent a lot of time doing farm things.. Landon is in heaven riding tractors with Papa, working in the garden (picture below), feeding the cows and running wild! I want him to grow up doing those things and have that slow-paced upbringing I did. :)
Speaking of farm, one day we went and spent the day and night with Joe's parents. We got to go to Deanna Rose Farmstead - if you are ever in Kansas City it is so neat and f-r-e-e. My favorite thing was bottle feeding the baby goats. Squeal!!!
One day I drove around to look at a few lots of land that are for sale around the city. Our ultimate goal is to buy some land within 30 minutes of the hospital Joe has taken a job at, and live the "country" life near the city. I hope it pans out but we will probably rent to begin with once we move in June.
After nearly two weeks we headed on back to Arkansas, but I decided to take the "scenic" route and go through Kansas and visit Wichita for a couple days on my way home. We stayed with our friends Becca and Nate, and Landon's best friend, Jackson. It was like a 24/7 playdate!
We were so excited to finally go home and see Daddy! We came home through Oklahoma and Landon did great in the car! He is a road trip pro: we had done four states in a little over two weeks, just the two of us!!
 The day after we came home I had my OB appointment! Bumpity bump bump! :)
Then, that afternoon I went to the airport and headed for Chicago! I didn't even unpack my road trip suitcase first! Hah! I met my two best friends from residency, Katie and Trish, there and we had three glorious days in the Windy City!!
One of the most fun things we did besides stay up late and talk and laugh for hours was visit the restaurant RPM - the one owned by Guiliana and Bill Rancic! It was so neat!! I had the best spaghetti and meatballs of my life and also there was a chocolate ball dessert involved that was filled with gelato. I dream of it every single night.
Joe and Landon had "boy time" for three days which was such a treat for Joe because he had the time off from work and he had just gone two weeks without his sidekick. I don't think he enjoyed it one bit ;-) ;-) based on the pictures he sent me.

What a fun month we had! Now that we're all caught up I am going to make a bold goal for October. Daily weekday blogging!! Maybe I will finally get around to showing you our Arkansas house and fall decorations! Maybe I will post some more about pregnancy and how the nursery is coming along? And I have some other ideas floating around in my head too. I hope you'll come back and join me! :)


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