Friday, April 29, 2016

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday, my friends! 

This was one of those weeks where I kept thinking, "Is it over yet?!?"  Life is so busy (and expensive) right now and I'm starting to feel very overwhelmed.  I just keep reminding myself to stay positive and focus on all the good stuff! And there's plenty of that!

{ONE}

Spring weather, afternoon walks with my kids, cute dresses with pockets, and an adorable little boy who likes to sign "EAT" all the time.

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{DRESS - TJ Maxx  // SHIRT // BANDANA BIB

{TWO}

Delicious dinners, thanks to Pinterest!

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{Recipe inspiration HERE: I tweaked it a bit.} 


{THREE}


An upcoming shop feature that I'm very excited about.  If you have a little one, check out Hemming Birds Boutique! I love their Snap Bibs!

 


{FOUR}


Chaperoning my 5th grader's field trip! I had my hands full with six boys, but I'm so glad I got to spend the day with him. It served as a reminder that he is rapidly growing up and away from us and that I need to embrace all those moments, as frustrating as they may be at times! (Cue tears.)
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{FIVE}


An interesting discovery. It's never good when you get a text from your husband that says, "Just wait until you see what we found in the yard!" And when I got home, Lexie ran over with a handful of...

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Grant accidentally ruined the nest while moving things to mow, and scattered these newborns all over the yard.  He and the kids collected them so they didn't get hurt or cold and waited for me to get home.  The girls were so excited and begged us to let them keep the babies, but we decided that we needed to attempt to rebuild the nest. The girls are animal lovers like me, so they were bummed and worried about those little babies. Dylan did see a rodent run under the playhouse after we put the babies back under it, so hopefully it was the mom and she took care of them!


{SIX}


This sweet little girl had Kindergarten assessment today. I overheard her telling her life story (and then some) to the teacher during the assessment, so I have no doubt she's going to be perfectly fine in Kindergarten, despite being so young!  

But still. Kindergarten!  My heart can't take it!

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What are you loving this week? What's do you have planned for the weekend?
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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Our "Outdoor" Playroom & Creative Play Ideas

One of my biggest goals for 2016 was to make every room in our home functional!

I couldn't wait to tackle was our sun porch. We have a large sun room that sits off of our kitchen, and it leads into our backyard.  Up until two weeks ago, that room was wasted space.  We rarely used it, so it quickly became an area for outdoor toy storage and messy sensory play. We only passed through it to get to our backyard.

Liam wanted to go out there all the time, but it just wasn't very comfortable.  There wasn't enough sitting room and the floor was cold cement.  After weeks of dealing with my toddler tornado creating a path of destruction through our home, I knew I had to do something! I decided I was going to turn that space into an "outdoor" play area that was fit for ALL of my kids!

I emptied out the entire sun room so I could start from scratch. I found other places to store most of what was in that room, and put aside the outdoor items that needed to stay in that room. Before I brought anything back into the sun room, I put down indoor/outdoor carpeting that resembled grass.

This wasn't a "traditional" playroom, so I had to figure out what elements I wanted to include in that room. I knew I wanted the sun room to have comfortable seating, functional storage for all those small outdoor play items, a place to sit and eat (or enjoy hot tea), and play ideas that would interest kids of all ages.  I ended up going with a few key ideas: Sit, Create, Read, Explore, Build and Play.

For under $50, I created a space that all four of my kids are using for hours each day!  It was exactly what I was hoping for!

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Here's what I came up with:

{A CHALKBOARD DOOR} 

I thought Grant was going to kill me for this one, but after he saw it, he suggested painting an entire wall with the paint!  It was a spur of the moment decision.  I went down to the basement to grab some laundry, spotted the can of chalkboard spray paint, and had an "AHA!" moment.  And that's how I found myself spray painting our storm door at 1 AM!

I placed a $1 pail from the Target Dollar Spot on a hook next to the door and filled it with glow in the dark chalk.  It was a hit!

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{RELAX & READ}

I wanted the sitting area for the little kids to have a beach-like feel. I set up two plastic chairs, a wooden crate for a table, filled a large sand pail with books, and sat out our favorite sand and water toy!

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{A SPOT FOR MOM} 

Our new play space was so inviting, that I wanted to hang out, too!  An extra large Adirondack Chair and a table for my laptop and coffee mug was exactly what I needed!

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{PICNICKING} 

I really wanted to give my kids a spot where they could eat "outside." I brought up a moveable kitchen island that holds two stools from the basement, and put it to good use!

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{CREATE} 

Our Arts & Crafts Table in our basement still gets used often, but a few of my kids are afraid to go down there alone! I wanted to give them another place where they could create (without fear of being alone).

That kitchen island doubles as an art space!  When they want to eat, we just store the paper in the drawers and place everything else in the compartment where the stools are stored.

I used two more pails from the Target Dollar Spot to hold markers and colored pencils, and used another sand bucket to hold Playdoh.  My girls were thrilled!

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Arts and Crafts Table

{BUILD}

What kid doesn't love blocks?!? (Or bubbles!)

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{A SECRET HIDEOUT} 

Everybody needs an escape from the chaos of everyday life.  A popup tent is the perfect solution!

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{SENSORY PLAY}

It's no secret that I love sensory play for my kids.  Although we do a lot of messy sensory play, I like to have cleaner options, too! 

Try a baby pool filled with balls instead of a traditional ball pit (bonus points for aiming a toy slide into the pool) and a water table filled with pingpong balls and a pool noodle cut into slices!

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{TOYS}

This one is obvious!  What's a playroom without fun toys to play with?!? (The bus is from 2005, but the sand and water playset is current. We fill ours with aquarium gravel and water!) I also left the Cozy Coupe in the sun room so Liam can zoom around!

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{OUTDOOR ITEMS}

Functional storage for outdoor toys was a must!  Our old method of tossing everything into one giant storage tote just wasn't working.  This storage option needed to be Liam proof, too. 

I ended up going with stackable plastic crates ($2.99 each at Target). Liam can't empty them out, but all the outdoor toys are neatly organized. I added a pop-up hamper and a basket for all the balls that Liam IS allowed to get into!

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Our sun room leads to the backyard, so we keep a basket of outdoor play shoes near the back door.  That way there are always acceptable play shoes within easy reach!

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{AN AREA FOR MESSY PLAY}

I intentionally left a small section of the sun room without carpet. Although the carpet can get wet, it's the perfect spot for messy play/water play and also a great spot for creating masterpieces with chalk!

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I am so happy I created this space for my kids (and me)! I'm sure it will be a work in progress, considering there are already a few more ideas that I jotted down to make the space even more fun!

All four of my kids are using the playroom every single day, and the toddler tornado is distracted.  They love to play and relax in the sun room and *I* love my clean house! It's a win-win for all of us!

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 What are your favorite creative playroom/play ideas?

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Step Away & Live in the Now

Most days, I'm on the go from the moment I wake up until the moment my last kid is tucked in at night.  Then I just keep going until the wee hours of the morning. After a few hours of sleep, I get up and repeat!

Even if I had the time, it is so hard for me to just sit still, relax, and shut off my mind. I just can't justify doing that.  I can always come up with about a thousand other things I should be doing!

This fast-paced blog world isn't much different. It's so easy to feel like you are falling behind. Did I talk to enough people on Twitter today?  Did I share enough content on Facebook? Did I engage with enough people on Instagram? Did I read enough blogs? Did I produce a pin-worthy blog post? Did I pin enough content? Did I reply to comments and emails?  Did I spend enough time promoting my own posts? It really is like a job most days. And if you're not careful, blog life WILL consume you!

What I've learned over the years is that sometimes it's very healthy to step away for a day or two (or a few) and just say, ENOUGH!

In addition to raising four kids, maintaining a blog, and coordinating the schedules for my kids last week, I had two big volunteer projects to work on. I love blogging and I love my volunteer work, but by the end of the week, I was completely spent.  All I wanted to do was forget about everything but spending time with my family, but the weekend busyness took over. And I was CRANKY. Before I knew it, it was Monday.

That crankiness continued into this morning. Mondays are always incredibly busy, but this week, Liam didn't have his usual OT session or speech session. I had big plans to work on blog projects, but by 10:30 AM, I gave up.  I shut my laptop, hid my cell phone, and decided to enjoy the sunny, 80 degree day with my kids!

Liam and I went to the store to buy unhealthy prepared food (I'm keeping it real here), we picked Lily up from school, and we headed to the local park for a picnic! I left my phone in the car, snapped a few pictures of my kids, then chased them around until they slowed down. (If I'm going to be honest, it was until *I* slowed down.  Where do they get their energy and can I have some?!?)

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After a few hours in the hot sun, Lily and Liam were tired! We gathered up our stuff and headed back home. My horrible mood was magically cured, Liam quickly fell asleep in the car, and Lily fell asleep right after we got home. 

With two kids sleeping, I could accomplish SO much.  Only...I didn't.  For once, I allowed myself to just sit down and enjoy the silence.

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The silence was short-lived, because soon, Dylan and Lexie arrived home from school!  And once again, I pushed everything I had to do aside, and just spent time with them in the backyard until Grant got home from work! (And my goodness, does our swingset need stained, or what? Let me just add that project to our mile-long To Do list!)

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Liam Splash Pad
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Liam Hopscotch
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After dinner and Family Movie Night, I dropped off Lily and Liam off for a sleepover (I'm going on a field trip with Dylan tomorrow), then came home and spent the night hanging out with my husband. No chores (outside of the norm), no blog work, no commitments.  And tonight, when I returned to my computer, I was actually looking forward to going through pictures and writing!

I never allow myself time to relax, and the stress of blogging and volunteer work and maintaining all these schedules can really get to me. Taking time for ME today and just spending time with my family was so refreshing! It was EXACTLY what I needed to do, and it's exactly what I need to do more often!

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How do you make time for yourself and how do you banish the guilt when you do?

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Friday, April 22, 2016

Hello, Friday!

Happy Friday and a very happy (rainy) Earth Day!!!

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Even though it's raining, I am so happy it's Friday. I am so ready for the weekend! I stayed up working until 2 AM, so my Friday Favorites are going up late today. But hey, better late than never!!!


{Ulta Lip Gloss}

My best friend knows me so well. A makeup bag filled with Ulta Lip Gloss was the perfect gift for me!

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{Favorite April Picture}

My favorite picture so far this month is the one below!  The girls were arguing, so I pulled out the "STOP FIGHTING" shirt.  (You can read more HERE.) The expressions on their faces are the BEST!

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{Activities for Kids}

I've been pinning a lot to my Activities for Kids Board for a summer project.  I'll be sharing that project next month! 


{Popatu Dress}

Lily found the cutest dress during a recent Costco shopping trip!  It was so cute that a second one just might have jumped into the cart! 

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(Dress-Popatu

{Fun On The Go}

I get so many fun items from the Target Dollar Spot.  These roll up chalkboard mats were a recent find!  I don't think they have them anymore, but I did spot some on Amazon. I keep them in our "On The Go Bag" in our car!

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{Summer Weather}

The weather has been AMAZING in Pittsburgh. It really does feel like summer!!! 

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Dylan
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{Morning Favorites}

I mentioned last week that I am NOT a morning person.  The only way to get through it is with cute mugs and strong hot tea! Tazo Awake English Breakfast is my favorite. I found this adorable travel mug at TJ Maxx. They always have the best mug collection! 

Somebody just posted a meme in a Facebook group that I belong to that says "Maybe she's born with it...maybe it's caffeine." Oh.  It's most certainly caffeine.

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{Childhood Dreams}

 This week, Lily decided she wants to be a fairy.  Or Elsa.  Or a YouTuber.  I decided that she's destined to be on stage someday. One of our kids has to continue where Grant and I left off!

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{Favorite Snaps}

I take a LOT of pictures. Maybe someday, when I actually have extra time, I'll actually turn it into a side job.  (Extra time?  What's that?)  My favorite shot from the week is a picture of my 11 year old.  He's in full tween angst mode.  He goes from being the sweetest boy ever to rolling his eyes at me and my heart can't take it.  I was trying to sneak a picture of him, since he hates to be on camera these days, and he glanced up at me and flashed me his sweet smile.  And there he was.  A glimpse of that sweet little boy that I remember so well.

Tween life. ❤  I adore this kid, but I'm not going to lie...11 is an incredibly frustrating age! I love when I catch glimpses of my sweet boy inside all that tween angst!

AND now that I'm crying, I'm going to step away and get to work on 10 loads of laundry (I wish I was kidding).  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! 

What do you have planned for the weekend?


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