life | Must Haves | parenting

5 Must Have Spring Outdoor Toys!

By on April 12, 2017

  Hello Spring! I love this time of year. It hasn’t hit that sweltering heat that Florida gets in the Summer so we really try to get outside as much as possible. 

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you purchase an item from one of the links you click on from my site I will receive a small portion of that sale. This in no way affects you. 

 
Some of my favorite items for Spring (and Summer for those who haven’t gotten a break from the cold yet) usually have to do with being outside. We spent majority of our time in the pool or running around the neighborhood till dinner time when I was a child. Since times have changed we really can’t expect our kids to be outside alone for hours on end. Here are some fun must haves to make hanging with your kids outside a little easier and a whole lot of fun.

Water Balloons. Yep, I said it, water balloons are so much fun. I love getting into this with the kids. Last Summer my best friend introduced me to these easy to fill water balloons and we have been hooked ever since. Just make sure to clean up the balloon debri afterwards. We told the kids prior to playing that if they wanted to play they had to clean up the water balloon pieces and they were good with it. We made that into a game of who could clean up the fastest, whatever works, right? Follow it up with a popsicle and it makes for the perfect cool off activity. 
 

 
Bubble Machine. Just turn it on and they will run around chasing bubbles till you are ready for them to stop. I bought this one because it had great reviews and I must say I am impressed with it. Even I was mesmerized by the amount of bubbles that come out at a time. We had this Gazillion Bubble Hurricane Machine one awhile back and it works great, similar style to the other one but the piece that holds the bubble liquid comes off to make it easier to refill, which is nice, but made is easily breakable. Both work great though. If you get the second one just make sure you have kids old enough to not take it off and accidentally break it.
 
Slip N’ Slide. One of my favorite activities from childhood. If you want a good old fashion one you can get it here but now they have so many fun ones you really can’t go wrong with any option you pick. This one might looks super fun. Kids love being able to slide down these slippery slides that you might actually get a little time to sit back and relax. 
 

 
Sidewalk Chalk. This is the one thing that is a staple in our house year round. The minute I am running low I go buy more. My kids are obsessed and I love that it is a creative outlet as well. The girls got these awesome Walkie Chalk “Stand Up” Sidewalk Chalk Holders for their birthdays and they love them. We also love these sidewalk holders to make them a bit less messy. 
 
Sidewalk Chalk Paint. So this one is a favorite but not something we take out often. I love this because the kids have so much fun with it but it is messy. This is a good one to take out when you are doing something with water right after. Have them play with this in their bathing suits as well. It’s definitely a must have though because it is so fun. 
 
And I highly suggest becoming an Amazon Prime (try if for 30 days free!) Member. We have it and ordering all of these items is super easy and inexpensive. Free 2 day shipping isn’t bad either! 
What are some of your Spring or Summer must haves for playing outdoors? We love getting new ideas. 

 
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Ashlyn | Birthday | everly | life

The Girls Unicorn & Donut Birthday

By on April 6, 2017

Better late than never right? We did a joint party again for the girls this year. Originally I thought I wouldn’t get around to doing one because things had been so crazy but Ashlyn kept talking about having a birthday party so I threw one together last minute. I called my best friend Kat and told her to come help me (because I don’t do parties without her) and she was more than happy to help with the festivities. I planned it during her girls Spring Break and St. Patrick’s Day. So perfect! 

 
I wanted to do an early party because that is when my kids are at their best. This also made food easier and more difficult because it wasn’t really breakfast or lunch time. We decided on donuts, muffins, cupcakes, confetti popcorn and fruit. Drinks we easy since we had water and juice. 
  
 Since we have a large front yard on a cul de sac we put everything out front for the kids. 
I wanted to have a bunch of activities for them to do so I knew for sure we would have our Little Tikes bounce house out (seriously best purchase we ever made when Ace was a toddler). I also bought a bunch of crayons from Amazon, this bubble machine, sidewalk chalk and a big unicorn coloring poster. 
  
Kat and her oldest daughter made the cupcakes. I bought little unicorns from Target’s dollar spot. They worked out perfect as little toppers.  I also got the favors from there too. They had wood unicorn and robot painting kits. Seriously, I love Target’s dollar spot. I also got unicorn stamps and sunglasses for the girls there. 
I picked out these dresses in purple and aqua for the girls to wear for the party. Then she put on this dress and then Everly decided it wasn’t happening so she wear some random pair of shorts and t-shirt. I finally got her to agree to put her dress on for cake pictures and she put a Mickey zip up on over it. Such a stinker. I also realized I didn’t get any great pictures of the girls together but I did at school for Everly’s actual birthday so you get what you get, right? 

Everly’s Dress

Cart

!
This picture cracks me up. They were waiting for us to sing to them and were like hurry up!

Bubble Machine / Ashlyn’s Dress

Bounce House

 


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everly | life

My letter to 3 year old Everly!

By on March 26, 2017

Happy Birthday my little Gertie Trudie! We love you so so much. 
 

Outfit

You are our spunky, goofy, raspy voiced sweet pea. 
You are the girl who makes everyone laugh by making goofy faces and being super silly and cute. You have no shame. You finally love the water, thank God! You are obsessed with “baby shorts” which are just shorts but for some reason you like anything to do with babies. You are hardcore in love with babies and baby dolls and being a mommy. You often carry around two dolls or stuffed animals on your hips. It reminds me of the good old (crazy) days when I was carrying around you and your sister all the time. 
  
You absolutely love school. Your teacher Miss Monique is probably one of your most favorite people. You also gravitate to guys, always have. I think because you are such a spunky, crazy girl you love the energy guys put out. You are very similar to Ace and you two are very wild together and will wrestle. 
  
My favorite thing you say is “I love you so much!” it’s not just I love you but you always add that last part. It’s precious. You also say “I swear to God!” Which you really shouldn’t but it’s funny and you know it. Your goal in life is to make people laugh. 
 
You are also my helper and cleaner upper. You take after your Dad a lot in this way. You take after me with your tantrums and dramatics. Very similar to me as a little girl, whoops. 
  
You are very quick and athletic still. You pick things up quickly and are very physical. You love running around, riding bikes and playing outside. 
 
You color inside the lines which I find so cool for a child under 3. You were never taught or told to do this by us you just did it. 
 
You are also so generous. You don’t mind sharing (unless it’s one of your babies) and often will bend to Ashlyn because she is much more stubborn than you. Your best friend is your sister. I didn’t realize how connected you two really were till I saw another child try to come play with you two and you two just had this way with one another that no one else really got till a set of twins came along and for some reason the 4 of you worked. It was super cool to see. 
  
My sweet girl you have grown into such a magnificent person. Whenever I look at you I think of the song “Here Comes the Sun” because your smile is so bright and beautiful. Your eyes shine. You just have this way about you that can make anyone smile. I love you so much my little Gert Gert. 
 Love, 
Mommy
 
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life

When Schools Take the Day Off & Everyone is Sick

By on February 20, 2017

Happy Monday, everyone! We are all home because it is Presidents’ Day and there is no school. Well, the girls could have gone to school since their preschool does daycare on holidays and teacher work days. I was going to bring the girls but Ashlyn woke up with a fever and completely miserable so I figured it was pointless to bring Everly to school when she could just stay home and play with Ace. 

 
The past week all of my kids have gotten sick so I am sure it is just a matter of time before I get it. First it was Everly on Monday. She woke me up at 5am throwing up on me. Super fun. Then Ashlyn had a fever on Thursday but seemed fine later in the day. Ace had a fever on Friday and after getting medicine before bed he woke up all refreshed and ready for his lacrosse games on Saturday. He played both games and when we got home still seemed good. Well by 3 he was fading fast. He was hot and miserable. 
Sunday Ace was laying around and sleeping all day. His fever had spiked so he just felt super icky. I was glad today was a no school day in case he needed an extra day to rest. He seems good today but Ashlyn came in my bed this morning and was burning up. Poor girl just wanted to be held and lay around. 
I hate seeing my children sick. I think as parents we just want to take it away and make them smile. It sucks seeing them weak and not eating and sleeping.  
I really wanted to do something fun with Ace today since the girls were supposed to be in school but it looks like we will be hanging at home. No biggie. I think we can find something fun to do for the non sickies. 
Anyone else home with their children today? What are you all up to?
 
 
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Ashlyn | life

Dance, Girl!

By on January 23, 2017

Friday after school I took Ashlyn for a trial dance class at our local My Gym. I was so excited to get her all dressed up in a tutu and ballet slippers and see her little moves. She has always loved music and dance so I thought this was a no brainer. 


Since Everly isn’t 3 yet she wasn’t old enough to do the trial class with Ashlyn so I figured it was the perfect time to have some one on one time as well. 
Once we got in the car Ashlyn said “Where’s my sister?” I thought it was so sweet and funny that she didn’t say Everly but my sister. I actually asked her to repeat herself because I didn’t think that was what she said. Love their sweet little bond. 
We got to My Gym a bit early so the dance teachers played with her. It was a good way for her to warm up to the place. 
Once dance started she seemed to really enjoy herself. They did simple positions and dance moves then had a play and water break. After that it was back to simple dancing. Ashlyn actually wanted to leave at one point because I think she got a bit bored but then went back to the class. 


I didn’t really feel like it was the dance class we were looking for but I did think it was a good class for children who are more energetic and need that break in between. Ashlyn is my much calmer child and I think she was kind of over it after that. 
When we left I asked Ashlyn if she liked dance class and she said “that’s not dance class”. I was like well, there you go. In the car, though, she did ask to go to dance class again so obviously she is confused. 
I am going to see if I can try out some more places around here. I really loved Ace’s old dance studio but it’s not close by so there is no way that would work for us right now. 
Did any of your little ones take dance? If so what was their favorite dance class? What other classes would be good for a more mellow child? 

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life

Friday Favorites

By on January 20, 2017

It’s Friday and it couldn’t have come soon enough for me this week! This week was a short week of work and the week prior I only was at work one day since I went on a workshop at the Marine Corps Recruiting Center so I came back to work with a full work load. I am hardcore ready for this weekend.

This weekend I am really hoping for some time to get things done around the house but also do fun things with the kids this weekend. We will obviously be attending the Sesame Street: K is for Kindness event which I am super excited about. My kids are going to just love it. 
As for what I am loving right now I saw another blogger post these and am in seriuos need of them, copper straws! Ashlyn bites all of my straws and either brakes them or they have bite marks on them. These would definitely stand the test of time. 
With Valentine’s day coming out there are a bunch of cute valentine’s ideas on Pinterest but these have got to be the cutest one. Also if anyone needs cute ones that you don’t have to make Target has a bunch of them in the dollar spot section. They also have a lot of cute decor right now as well. 
When I was at the store they also had the cutest romper. I want to get it for the girls but haven’t really put them in rompers since they became potty trained. Would this be too much of a pain? I think Everly would probably be fine since she is very quick with getting changed but Ashlyn might have accidents. Anyone have any experience with rompers after potty training? Leave a comment and let me know what you think.
I am just in the beginning process of planning the girls join birthday party. Last year we did tutu theme since it was two of them turning two, cute right? This year I want to do unicorns and donuts. The party will start at 10 and go till noon so I figured that is the perfect time to have donuts. Anyway I am loving all the unicorn ideas on Pinterest (I may be slightly obsessed). I guess unicorn party ideas are popular right now because Target and Land of Nod had some cute party supplies. I really love these plates and goodie bags
That’s about it for now but I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!!
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life | The Story of Our Girls

The Story of Our Girls: Traveling to California

By on January 19, 2017

If you are just reading The Story of Our Girls you might want to go HERE to catch up.

 
After announcing we were having two babies, one by adoption and one through pregnancy we had a lot to get done. Ashlyn was due in less than a month. We still had to complete our home study which is a very in depth process, book our flights, hotels and car for the trip, find someone to watch Ace for an undetermined amount of time and tie up any loose ends here. To say it was overwhelming was an understatement. 
As the month went on we met with our social worker who was absolutely amazing. She made us feel so comfortable and encouraged. I was very nervous by this home visit because she would be the person determine if we were fit to adopt our baby. I remember the night before making sure our house was super clean, every single fire alarm worked and running to the store to find a fire extinguisher because we had no clue where ours was. 
The home visit ended up feeling like we were talking to a friend. She asked us questions about our families, childhoods, school life, friends, how we met and our relationship. She also asked about our parenting style with Ace and how we discipline him. She really loved Ace which was awesome. Overall she said she thought we were good to go. She just had to finish her report and would rush it since Ashlyn was due very soon. 
Branden’s Mom came down to stay with Ace. I remember the night before our flight I was so overwhelmed. I was worried about my friend who was going to make the biggest decision of her life, I was worried about leaving Ace for so long and I was just scared to take this huge step. It’s something I can’t explain. I remember there was an issue with our friends doctor, who treated her horribly and we didn’t know if we should change our plans and come later. I felt helpless, she felt helpless. We decided to still go and hopefully at her next appointment with a new doctor in that practice we would get answers.
We flew to California and got there I believe around 9 something in the morning. We met up with my friend and we both got to see each other with our big bellies for the first time. We had lunch and hung out for a bit looking at family pictures and talking some more. Later in the day Branden and I checked into our hotel and passed out super early. The time change killed us. 
A couple days into our trip out there I went to her doctor appointment with her. Her new doctor was amazing. He said he understood the situation and decided if she hadn’t gone into labor by her due date he would have them set up an induction date, something the other doctor wouldn’t even consider at all. He said he didn’t think we would make it to induction so that made us all feel better. We headed out and waited for our baby. The next day our other friend flew in and that was the best, all of us together. Poor Branden had to be the odd man out. 
The next two days were weird, I wanted to give my friend space and be with our other friend. I also was feeling very stressed about being away from Ace. I wish I could have enjoyed my time in California before Ashlyn’s birth because we did have a good amount of time we could have been doing more. We did drive out to a pier and see the ocean there but I felt like I was in this anxious state because I didn’t know when Ashlyn would come, I felt super out of control. 
The Thursday before Ashlyn’s birth Branden took me out to a pier and we walked around it was nice to just get out and walk around in the fresh air and do something fun. After the pier though I got extremely emotional and started crying. I missed Ace, who ended up getting sick, I felt so guilty. I even told Branden maybe I should fly back to be with him and take a last minute flight when my friend went into labor. The idea of being there another weekend (induction date was that Monday) without her being born and Ace being home really upset me. I didn’t even sleep that night.
At about 5AM the next morning I get a call from my friend saying her water broke! I literally jumped out of bed and was rushing to get ready despite my friend saying not to feel like I needed to rush because she would need to get checked in and everything. Yeah, I didn’t really listen and was all over the place getting ready. Branden got up and got ready. I remember walking to the elevator and looking at him with a huge smile saying “we are about to have a baby girl!” 

It was one of the most exciting and terrifying moments of my life…
 
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life

New Year’s Resolutions!

By on December 30, 2016

Can you believe 2016 is almost over? This year truly flew by. I can’t believe Ace is halfway through his first year of elementary school and the girls are half way through their first year of preschool. It has been nice seeing them grow and learn so much these past few months. 

With the new year right around the corner I want to make resolutions that matter. Not ones that are the typical lose 10lbs, go to the gym for a week and forget about it after that. 
After my parents passed away 4 years ago I decided I wasn’t going to let the little things bother me. I wasn’t going to allow minor annoyances get the better of me. I have done pretty well with that. I hate when people complain about things that are truly minor in the grand scheme of things. A car cut you off? Great, move on, you can’t change that person but you can change your reaction to it. 
That being said I want to continue to better myself and help my children continue to be positive little people. I was talking to Branden one day about bringing PB&J sandwiches to the homeless. I am not sure where to go exactly but we do see some off the main highway near our new house. It breaks my heart. I know many homeless people are mentally ill or have fallen on hard times and majority of the time it is out of their control. I sometimes give them a dollar if I have one but I want my children to also appreciate their lives and be people who want to help others. I don’t want them to just ignore the problems of the world.
I have noticed over the past 2 years how sensitive Ace is to others’ feelings. He has a very compassionate heart and I want to make sure I encourage that kindness in him. I also love this about him because it reminds me a lot of my Mom. She felt others pain and hurt so strongly that she always wanted to help others. I have that too and sometimes I think it can be a bit of a blessing and a curse. I want to teach Ace that it is ok to feel for others and empathize with them and help them. I want him to know boundaries with it too. My Mom gave a lot and sometimes I think it was too much for her own good. She wanted to help those who needed to help themselves first.
With all that being said my New Year’s Resolution is for myself and children to give back and help. This world seems to be going through a very scary time and I want my children to be the good in it. I don’t want them to be jaded by all that bad that is happening. I want them to know that they can make a difference. So here is hoping I can help these precious little people give back to those less fortunate than them. 

What is your New Years Resolution?
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Holdays | life

Christmas Eve Recap

By on December 28, 2016

First I am happy to announce the winner of the Blue Frog Apparel $100 Gift Card giveaway, Jamie B! 
Check your email for more information.

It is winter break and it has been wonderful. I am seriously loving this time off. We had a really nice Christmas with family and now the kids have been playing with all their new toys and we have been busy getting the house in order. We still have so much to do since the move so I really needed this break. 


It was kind of a cluster having the last day of work being the 23rd since we were having a party on Christmas Eve. I left work super early to go to the girls’ Christmas party then had a hair appointment. I spent the rest of the night getting the house ready for the party.


Christmas Eve was actually a really fun day. Since we had done most of the cleaning and decorating done prior to that day I was able to really enjoy doing things with the kids. We did some baking, since I am not a great baker we went with the bagged stuff, I’m super classy like that. I used this recipe to make some Sugar Cookie M&M bars. We also made some chocolate chip cookies. It was really fun watching the kids get excited about helping. They are seriously so sweet. 
I also made ziti like my Mom always did for her Christmas Eve parties. I actually got really sad while making it. I just kept thinking about how much she would have loved helping me get ready for the party and if I needed her to help she would have been right there. This year was the first year where it hit me hard on Christmas Eve that my parents were gone. The past 4 years since they passed away have been so crazy and now things have really calmed down enough to make me see the void in a lot of what we do. I try to use that to make these moments more meaningful but it can still be really hard. Ever since they died I have tried to look at how good things are for me despite losing them 9 days apart 4 years ago. I know that there are so many little things in life that aren’t worth getting upset about or complaining about because in the end they don’t matter. What matters are these precious moments with my kids and my husband. The moments with the people who matter most. I just always want holidays to be meaningful to my kids and memorable like they were for me when my parents were here. I always remember helping my Mom get ready for our Christmas Eve party and she would be cooking like crazy and going overboard. She would stress herself out so much but in the end everything turned out perfect. So all this to say that a simple moment of making ziti really brought me back to my parents and for whatever reason those moments make me feel like they are with me. 

So after getting my ziti prepared for later and the kitchen cleaned up I got the kids bathed and I got ready. Ashlyn wanted to wear make up like mommy which I thought was so cute so I put a little eye shadow and lip stick on her. After her and Everly go to play in their room they come back in with lotion all over their faces. Little stinkers said they were putting more make up on. At least I could just rub it in. 


Once it hit 5:30 we were all ready for our guests to arrive. My cousins from Ohio came with their adorably bald toddler Carter. I love seeing her because she reminds me of Everly with her bald little head. His parents, my Aunt Lillie and Uncle Dave, came too. Then the rest of the family came in. It was so nice seeing all the little cousins together. Ace was excited to see his cousin Colton who moved away last year. They are only about 6 months apart so they love when they get to play together. They were inseparable all night. 
Most of the night Ashlyn wasn’t feeling well (which is why she doesn’t have a shirt on, I wasn’t fighting that battle). She laid on the couch watching a movie and was very tired. I felt so bad for her. After my niece Valentina came over all the girls decided it was time to throw tantrums. That was super fun. We had reindeer food from the girls Christmas party at school so I got all the kids to go outside to throw that in the grass. It was a nice distraction for the moment but then the whining began so I had the kids decorate ugly sweater cookies from Trader Joes. They were pretty ugly and no one ate them but after that the night went much better. The kids opened presents and played the rest of the night.  I love having family over for holidays so it was definitely a success.

After everyone left Branden and I got to work on putting the presents under the tree. It was a fun Christmas to buy for because they are each really into their own things. Everly is obsessed with baby dolls, Ashlyn loves Barbies and Ace is into Lego Dimensions. We also got Ace a bike and scooter since he outgrew his old bike. Ashlyn got a doll house and Everly a wooden baby carriage which she decided to carry all around the house. 
Overall Christmas Eve was a really nice night. I will recap Christmas day later since this post is a lot longer than I expected. 
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