Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Destin 2013

We enjoyed a week of rest and relaxation (as much as possible when traveling and vacationing with 4 children!) last week in Destin, Florida.  The kids love the "squeaky" white sandy beach, and I'm a pretty big fan, too.  It was great to spend time with family, especially aunts, uncles, siblings, and cousins that don't live nearby.

Hang ten!

Looking for seashells.

Bathing beauty.

Grandpa treated us to a Pirate cruise on Tuesday and Clare and Jude had a blast!  

Jude wanted to keep his mustache for the whole week.  

He is the sweetest and most laid-back baby I've ever had!

Just the 6 of us!

Michael was a trooper in the car.  I'd have 100 babies if they all traveled as well as he did!  And now I'm somehow back to the reality that is Laundry even though our house had a washer/dryer...  
All worth it, though!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

{Guest Post} Making the Most of Your Family Vacation

I'm happy to introduce Kendra Thornton to you today.  She is a full-time mother of 3 and the former Director of Communications for Orbitz.  Her work gave her the opportunity to travel a great deal and since we are in the season of summer vacations, today she is sharing some tips on traveling with kids.

Making the Most of Your Family Vacation

Going on a family vacation can bring everyone closer together. As you spend quality time with your spouse and children, stories can be told, fun can be had, and relationships can be strengthened. However, if you're unprepared, your family vacation can miss out on some of the fun and happy times you should be having. The key to having a successful vacation is being prepared, and here are some tips to make yours a success.

1. Packing

There is nothing worse than arriving at your destination and realizing you forgot a much need item. Lucky for us, there are new apps like Packing Pro that can help in creating lists and ease the packing experience. Also, bringing snacks and drinks for the kids is a must, whether traveling by plane or by car. This way, if your children get grumpy, you'll have something to keep them at bay.

2. Pick the Right Hotel for You

Make sure you do extensive research on a number of hotels. Find out how family friendly they are, what amenities they offer, and how accommodating their rooms will be. Also, be sure to check out their staff. Customers are very good informants, so read up on their reviews. I used Gogobot to read a number of reviews on Orlando hotels, and was able to find a great hotel that provided my family with a free continental breakfast. Gathering all this information will make your hotel-booking dilemma much easier.

3. Make it a Surprise

If there's ever a time to keep a secret, it's now. Keep your kids excited and eager for the family vacation by periodically giving them hints about where you are going, but without actually revealing the destination. Just remember, if you are going to do this there has got to be a big “wow” in store for them—a trip to Uncle Jack’s might leave them underwhelmed.

4. Make Traveling Enjoyable

For you and your children, the journey to the destination can be nerve-wracking. It can also be fun, stress-free and unforgettable. The key is to use your imagination. Try to be creative with the games you play, like singing funny songs, telling jokes and sharing appropriate, unexpected secrets. Nothing is wrong with improvising throughout the journey. If you have little ones, also use the travel time to let them get some rest before you reach your destination. You may want to invest in car window shades to help your children sleep during the drive.

5. Fun for the Whole Family

A family vacation supposed to be enjoyable for everybody. Make sure you keep your kid’s interests in mind as well as your own, as this will go a long way in making the trip enjoyable for everyone. Whether this means going to the hotel’s pool, exploring the landscape and the wildlife, or booking a guided tour or sightseeing adventure, remember to have the interests of the entire family in mind.

I hope these tips will be useful for planning your next family vacation! Remember to have fun, and safe travels!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Living with a Bookworm

This summer we have been heading to the library on Mondays and stocking up with new books for the week. That means Clare can be found with a book in her hands the rest of the day. And then every morning after she eats breakfast. And always at night reading in bed. And many times in between. She brings books in the car, will read at the pool, and buddies up with Jude on the couch to read to him. We were so proud of the progress she made in 1st grade, graduating onto chapter books and her proficiency continues to improve right along with her love of books. It's a joy to watch her enthralled in a new book, soaking up every word and eagerly turning each page. I hope her love of reading only continues to deepen!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Thought for the Day...

This was in a mailing I recently received from MOPS...love this verse.  
A good reminder to put it all to prayer!

Happy Monday!

Friday, July 19, 2013

7 Quickies

Linking up with Jen at Conversion Diary today!

We "celebrated" Cow Appreciate Day last Friday with the good people at Chick-fil-a and with some good friends.  I crossed both "lunch" and "field trip" off my list in one swoop.

Don't let her fool you, she really was happy to play in the playground.  

Thanks for being a good mom and taking pictures, Jessica!

Certain children and I have seen waaaay too much of the pool restroom this summer.  Almost to the point that I wish I was dealing with swim diapers and not public pool bathrooms with recently potty-trained offspring.  Over-sharing but had to say it.  

I recently found Ann Marie's blog and have been motivated by her "Summer Simplify" series.  I made a trip to the Dollar Store and stocked up on some organizing bins/containers and purged my linen closets. Colorful and organized.  And about 396 packages of floss lighter!

Michael had his 4 month check-up this week and weighed in at 20 lbs., 6 oz.  This confirms his win as my biggest baby ever, and that my biceps are ginormous.  (Or just that he's heavy to carry in his pumpkin seat!)

I made homemade chex mix this week.  My parents' neighbor who I babysat for used to make chex mix.  She would start a batch of it and then head out and ask you to rotate it around and turn the oven off for her.  She was one of the kindest and thoughtful people I have ever known and the smell of chex mix baking always makes me think of Amy!  (Jude thinks I've been holding out on him since I have only fed him the store bought bag of chex mix up to this point in his life!)

Don't you love it when everyone plays so nicely together??!?!?!  I surely do!

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Five Fav's

Linkin' up with Hallie today for another round of 5 Favorites.  Because it's my favorite.

I've bought Clare bathing suits from Old Navy and Target before and then get summer clothes out a year later to find the elastic in those suits shot.  Or they are stretched out to the point that they are unwearable.  Not so much with Land's End suits.  The quality of their suits is amazing.  Clare and I just got new suits on their summer clearance.  The suit I got her was only $10.50 and I know she will be able to wear it next year, too, and then pass it down to Ellen to wear as well.

2. Baby oil for shaving legs.


I took the advice from the Internet that shaving with baby oil would leave your legs feeling extra smooth and moisturized.  And the Internet was right!  Turns out it helps your razor last longer, too.  

3. Coloring pages.
I've found several websites with coloring pages on them and this one has been Clare's favorite by far.  
I have been keeping crayons and markers out and she has been enjoying coloring her printed coloring pages when we are homebound with a napping baby.  

I've shared before how a mix of Dawn dish soap and white vinegar is an amazing cleaner.  I'm having a new love for it (if that's even possible) after putting the concoction in a dish wand and leaving it in the shower.  It makes a quick shower cleaning that much easier and convenient. 


This has become one of our favorite summer dinners.  Very easy but tasty weekday dinner.  And the dressing is so so good!


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Things He Says...

(We love our Best Guy.  I cringe that he loves his summer mohawk...)

As he is getting his nails cut: 
"I wish my fingernails were long so I could turn off the light from my bed."

A few minutes after lunch: 
"I can feel my food going into my esophagus now."  
(Ed. note:  Confirmed over-exposure to "The Magic School Bus Inside the Human Body."

When told to come out of the rain because it's starting to thunder and lightening and it's not safe:
"Because I've been a really good son?"

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

10 on 10

Linking up tonight with Rebekah for "Ten on Ten"...10 pictures from 10 different hours of our day.

8 AM - Still life of morning coffee and hydrangeas.  
(Would you believe that everyone slept in past 7 o'clock?!  I have a morning rain to thank for that!)   

9 AM - Reading in silence thanks to the NASCAR noise-cancelling headphones.  
(I promise our house is not that loud.) 

10 AM - Free summer movie (Chimpanzee) at the theater.  Baby likes the big screen!

1 PM - Nursing in the passenger seat while parked at Sam's Club.  The exciting life I lead.

2 PM - Nap on the couch after returning from Sam's.  

3 PM - Gak attack.  

4 PM - All smiles!  Just because.  

 5 PM - Jude underwater!  
(Thankfully he's not wearing his scuba goggles AND wingies AND swim shirt this year.)  

7 PM - Bedtime stories.  

8 PM - Dusk.

Good Night!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Lofty Loft

When we bought our house almost 4 years ago, our "wish list" included an upstairs family room/loft/bonus room.  We were lucky to find a house with that desired extra space and use this area more than we ever thought we would.  Fast forward to me shopping at Joann's several months ago and finding fabric that would tie our red couches (looking back we should have gone with something a bit more, ahem, neutral) in with the gold walls.  (Our loft has a cathedral ceiling...that of course extends over the stairs = a lot of tedious painting involved that we are not interested in doing at the moment...)   

Anyway, I bought fabric several months ago (then had a baby and took a break from any house projects!) and finally finished making curtains over the weekend.  

Sadly, this is the only "before" picture I have.  The curtains the previous owners left behind were a bit too floral for me.  And they had cherries on them.   

4 year-old Clare 10 days after we moved in.

And here are the curtains I made!

I made them the same way I made the ones in the girls' room and lined them with a cheap-o white sheet on clearance at Walmart.  I'm quite pleased with them if I do say so myself!  (Ryan was pretty impressed because I may have a history of making curtains that don't quite fit a window as well as they should...but not the case here!)

 We also switched this shelf out of the girls' room to make room for Ellen's new dresser.  Jude told me he likes having books on a shelf in the loft because it's like we have a library.  We're sophisticated like that.

And my favorite picture of big sister Clare holding newborn baby Jude.  (I'll be honest, distance was a necessity as there's some dusting that needs to be done around here...)  

Loft curtain mission complete!

Monday, July 8, 2013

4 Months!

Where is the time going??  Can't believe sweet Michael turned 4 months old yesterday...although I'm pretty sure I said the same thing when he turned 3, 2, and 1 months...

Hobbies:  Big smiles.  All the time.  Any time.  Also starting to babble more and more.  

Means of Transportation: Scoots backwards on his back by pushing his heels into the floor.  Gains speed when angry.

Recent Accomplishments: Rolled over from front to back TWICE.  (Although I missed it both times because I was treating Princess Ellen to an evening bowl of Fruit Loops.)    

Loves: To hold toy rings.

Wears: Size 3-6-9 month.

Sleeps: 3 naps a day.  And nice big 6 hour stretches at night.  I've hit the jackpot the 4th time around!

PS - Jude at 4 months after his first haircut!  (Just so happens they are sporting the same stripes.)  Michael must not have inherited the thick-hair gene...  

And don't forget to enter the current Firmoo giveaway here!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Who Wore It Best?

Outfit size 9 months.

Jude at 15 months


Michael at 3 months

(Linking up with Dwija.)  

Don't forget to enter my giveaway here.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Let Freedom Ring!

HAPPY 4th!

Flag canvas painted by Clare and Jude.  

Painted canvas idea c/o Ann Marie.  

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


Sometime in the '90's I was gifted with "Nickelodeon gak" for Christmas from my grandma.  Now gak is back!  (Don't watch that video too many times or you'll be singing about "gak gak gak" all day.)  Anyway, earlier in the week there was a steady rain most of the day and we were homebound since Michael was napping.  To keep kids occupied we made "gak."  

To make your own, you need:

1 cup of glue
3/4 cup cold water
liquid food coloring
1/2 cup hot water
1 teaspoon borax

In one bowl mix together the glue, cold water, and food coloring.  (We chose yellow.)
In another bowl mix together the hot water and borax until the borax is dissolved.
Next, pour the glue mixture into the borax mixture.  
Stir together as best you can and then pour out any  excess water.  

Then squish, stretch, and comment that you feel like you are playing with a squashed Spongebob, or mixing up eggs.  

Our gak kept Clare and Jude busy for about an hour.  Then Jude played with it more later.  And then asked to play with it again the next day.  

 Ellen, on the other hand, wouldn't even touch it!  
(As you can see...she's staying as far away from it as possible!!) 

1990's rainy day fun!

Recipe found here.