Thursday, March 31, 2016

March Moments

March was full of so many moments that made me smile!

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Words aren't really necessary. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves!

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Brothers
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Dylan and Liam
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Bowling
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Liam
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Liam
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Trampoline
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Lexie and Lily
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I absolutely love how much my kids adore each other.  There are definitely many of those not so perfect moments, but the love they have for each other is incredible.  I pray that they remain this close when they are adults!

March was so good to us! 

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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

What's Up Wednesday

I don't know about you, but returning to a regular schedule after Spring Break was ROUGH!

Waking up early and juggling school and therapy and cleaning the house and homework and packing lunches and running errands...UGH!  I want to go back to the more relaxed Spring Break schedule. I just may have drifted off tonight while watching a movie, and again while relaxing in a hot bath.  OOPS.

It's the last Wednesday of the month (hard to believe), so it's time to link up for What's Up Wednesday!

http://thelarsonlingo.blogspot.com/

{WHAT WE'RE EATING THIS WEEK}

Monday: Ice cream from Dairy Queen! Oh yes, we did! The kids requested it for the last day of Spring Break!

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Tuesday: Easter Dinner (again). Ham, Sweet Potato Casserole, Green Bean Casserole and cornbread. There was dessert, too, but we ate so much food that dessert went back into the fridge!

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Wednesday: Grilled Pork Chops, Seasoned Potato Wedges and Baby Butter Beans.

Thursday:  Crispy Cheddar Chicken (RECIPE), Homemade Macaroni and Cheese and Sweet Corn.

Friday: Dinner at my parent's house!  Easy night for me!

Saturday: Grant and I are going out to dinner for my birthday! I'm thinking Olive Garden...because Chicken Parm and Black Tie Mousse Cake!!!

Sunday: Sunday is always an easy meal day.  Probably pizza or Rotisserie Chicken with a side dish.

{WHAT I'M REMINISCING ABOUT}

Our last summer vacation with our kids. (I still haven't finished recapping our trip...HA!)  It was just 7 months ago, but they seemed so much younger then than they do now. We're getting ready to plan our beach trip for THIS summer and I can't help but think how grown up they are going to be. It breaks my heart to think about how when we return, my first baby will be heading to his final year of elementary school, Lexie will be going into 4th grade, Lily will be starting kindergarten, and my BABY will be starting preschool. Hold me!  (Ummmm....time for number five? Kidding. Just kidding.)

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{WHAT I'M LOVING}

*The longer days. (Let's not change the clocks back, okay?)

*Warmer weather!

*My new boyfriend jeans.

*Bolthouse Farms Strawberry Banana Smoothies.

*Easter clearance candy.  There. I said it. Now excuse me while I eat another Reese's Egg!

*Liam's new stroller!  We've had it a month now and it's by far, my favorite!

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{WHAT WE'VE BEEN UP TO}

I guess a better question is what HAVEN'T we been up to? We've officially hit another busy season in our lives. I truly don't even want to think about everything on my schedule over the next few months.  Recently, though, we really enjoyed celebrating the Easter season with our family and friends!

Egg hunt
Easter Party

{WHAT I'M DREADING}

The next school year.  Not only is it bittersweet, because my kids are growing up too fast, but we will have 4 kids in 4 different schools. Plus, I've been told that 6th grade is even crazier than 5th (NOOOOOOO). Lily will need to be picked up every day and Liam will need to be driven to and from preschool. I'm just going to move into my SUV!

{WHAT I'M WORKING ON}

*My blog posts for Thursday and Friday.

*Editing pictures from Lily's preschool Easter party.

*THIS campaign. Plus an Influenster VoxBox, a Bzzcampaign, and an awesome upcoming review/giveaway.

*Redecorating my sun porch and organizing the basement and attic.

*Plans for the girls' bedroom. The extra mattress arrived today and the bunk bed is on the way!

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*A really fun backyard play space for Liam.  It isn't going to cost much at all and he will love it! Many of the ideas come from my Backyard Pinterest Board!



{WHAT I'M EXCITED ABOUT}

Going out on a dinner date with my husband on Saturday for my birthday!  Birthdays aren't a big deal for me anymore, but eating dinner without interruption (AKA kids) IS a big deal! Also, I heard a rumor that I might be getting a new laptop and a pair of Converse! ;)

{WHAT I'M WATCHING/READING}

WATCHING: Grant and I binge-watched the latest season of House of Cards on Netflix.  SO good!  Now we're just anxiously awaiting the season finale of The Walking Dead.  A major character is DEFINITELY going to die! I just really hope it isn't who my husband thinks is going to die. (Also? Why do I even watch this show?  It makes me unbelievably anxious and I close my eyes through all the violent scenes!)

READING: Currently nothing. I just finished a book, but I haven't decided on another one yet. Any great suggestions?

{WHAT I'M LISTENING TO}

Lately, Christina Perri. Jar of Hearts and A Thousand Years are my favorite songs!



Hallelujah is my favorite song. I love so many versions. Recently, I was sent the link to this cover, and it's definitely a bit different, but I like it!



{WHAT I'M WEARING}

Boyfriend jeans (comfiest jeans EVER), flats, and 3/4 length sleeved shirts almost every day! And a toddler on my hip.  Always.

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 {WHAT I'M DOING THIS WEEKEND}

On Friday night, I'm going to my parent's house for dinner. Saturday is my birthday. Nothing exciting is planned other than going out to dinner with Grant.  On Sunday, I have to take Lily to a (chilly outdoor) birthday party then do our grocery shopping for the week.

{WHAT I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO NEXT MONTH}

 Birthdays, birthday parties, field trips with my kids, and warmer weather!

{WHAT ELSE IS NEW}

I'm starting to exercise regularly again. I REALLY let it slide over winter, and I can definitely notice a difference in my mood. I'm not doing it to lose weight. I'm just a happier person when I work out!

That's life lately in a nutshell!  It's hard to believe that March is nearly over.  This year is already passing by way too quickly!

What are you looking forward to in April?


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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Tips and Tricks to Rock Life With Kids

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Parenting four kids is a wild and crazy adventure!

I'm always looking for ways to make life a little bit easier for me! When things run smoothly, I don't feel like I'm going to lose my mind.  And with four little humans running circles around me, that can happen VERY quickly!

Raising kids is a constantly evolving process. What worked yesterday may not work next week. Kids move quickly from one stage to the next, so as parents, we have to adapt our methods. My methods changed so much over the years!

I absolutely love reading posts about parenting/mom life tips and tricks, so I figured I would share a few of my favorite tips and tricks that make my life just a bit easier!

Tips and Tricks to Rock Life with Kids

{ON THE GO} 

I always joke that I should just move into my SUV.  The older my kids get, the more time I spend in the car! I refer to it as the Mom Taxi.  My husband likes to tease me about all the stuff I keep in my car and in my purse, but the truth is, I need to be prepared for anything and everything!

* The absolute necessities for my car are: wet wipes, kleenex, hand sanitizer, lollipops, an umbrella and a huge tote.  If you have kids, you pretty much need the first 4 items.  Life can be messy and snotty and germ-ridden with kids. I'm always restocking those items to keep within reach in my SUV. I keep an extra umbrella under the passenger seat, just in case. If I keep it in my house, I will almost definitely forget it! As for the tote, I buy the extra large ones for 99 cents at TJ Maxx and keep one in the front seat and several in the cargo space. They are perfect for gathering up all those items and shopping bags that need to make it from the car to the house. (Is it just me or do items multiply while you're out and about?)

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* My purse is fully stocked at all times. These are a few of my must haves that I keep in my arsenal to keep my kids occupied during appointments/errands: A Play Pack ($1), glow in the dark silly putty (not messy AT ALL plus it bounces like a ball and glows in the dark), fruit snacks and lollipops.

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 *Invest in a few sippy cup straps. They're SO worth it.  I attach Liam's cup to the stroller, car seat and high chairs because he likes to throw his cups!

*We go to the library every week, so we have a specific library bag to hold the books.  I hate fumbling for my library card when we check out books, so I slipped our card into a clear luggage tag and attached it to the strap of the library bag. They can scan the card right through the tag. It's seriously one of my favorite tricks!

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{CLEANING}

UGH, cleaning.  I hate it, but it's necessary to keep up with the messes kids cause!

*Multitask!  Clean the bathroom while your child takes a bath. You're in there to watch them, but you can also check something off your To Do List. Plus, the steam from the bath makes the mirrors really easy to clean!

*Speaking of that bath, put the kids to "work." Do you have sticky or dirty toys? Toss those toys and a few sponges into the tub (obviously no battery-operated toys) and have the kids give the toys a bath.  Believe it or not, they think it's fun!

*Put double layers of sheets on your kids' beds. Layer them in this order: waterproof mattress pad, sheet, waterproof mattress pad, sheet. If there's some sort of accident in the middle of the night, all you have to do is strip off the top sheet and mattress pad and another layer is ready to go!

*Put a used wax melt at the bottom of your garbage can. It still has enough scent to keep the garbage can smelling fresh!  Also, keep newspaper next to your garbage bags. Each time you change the bag, place a layer of newspaper in the bottom of the bag to absorb spills!

*Hang a bottle of stain remover on each hamper. That way you can treat stains before they get tossed into the hamper!

*If you have a big family, buy different socks for each person.  I once made the mistake of buying my husband and my oldest son the same brand of socks and matching them up was a nightmare! They looked exactly the same, but were slightly different sizes!

{ORGANIZING}

Is it even possible to always be completely organized?  I try so hard, but I'm always thinking up more ways to make things run smoother!

*Have separate bags for places you go the most. Keep them fully stocked with items you will need on that outing and keep them in location where you can grab whatever bag you will need easily! We have separate bags for the library, the park, eating out, and the pool/beach. I keep all the bags on storage hooks in our garage so I can grab exactly what I need on our way out the door. I also keep a cooler full of snacks on top of the fridge near our garage door. 

*If you have a shared iPad or tablet, create separate folders for your kids.  We have rules regarding electronics and we place time limits on them.  On our iPad, I have a folder for Lily, a folder for Liam, a folder for miscellaneous games, and a folder for learning games and apps.  Lily may only access the games in her folder or in the learning apps folder.  If I catch her in any other folder (and I do check on her) she will lose her iPad time for the day. Liam doesn't use the iPad yet, but the same rules will apply to him when the time comes.

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*Keep a basket of play-appropriate shoes near your back door.  My kids used to always yell for me to get their shoes when it was time to play outside OR end up going out in their school shoes.  This trick easily solved the problem!  We have the basket just outside our back door on our screened in porch.  It works perfectly, because they can take off their shoes before they even come back into the house and the basket keeps everything organized and clean!

{MEAL TIME}

Cooking and planning meals can be so time consuming when you have kids.  I am always looking for tips to make this job a bit easier for me!

*Make a large batch of pancakes over the weekend and freeze them.  Throughout the week, you can heat them up in the microwave for a quick breakfast!  Bonus points for making tiny pancakes so you don't have to cut them up for your kids!

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*Invest in a hot dog cutter and an apple slicer.  I didn't buy these items until a few years ago and they were a game changer!!!

*If you have school-aged kids, create a lunchbox packing station.  Everything is in one place and it makes that dreaded job so much easier!

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*Got a picky eater? Muffin Tin Meals are the way to go!

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{SAFETY}

As a mom, I do worry a lot. I realize just how quickly things can happen.  When Dylan was a lot younger, he almost got hit by a car.  From that point on, we really drilled in safety precautions with our kids, and it worked!  I'm even more strict with it now that we have Liam.  He is truly fearless and he loves to run off and wander. I do keep a close eye on my kids at all times, but things can happen in seconds, so I like to be prepared.

*Whenever we go somewhere crowded, I take a picture of my kids with my cell phone.  That way I know EXACTLY what they are wearing and I have a current picture if needed.

*We have a "touch the car door" rule for our younger kids.  One hand must be touching our car door at all times when we are in a parking lot.  I try to load/unload the kids in a safe order.  When I unload, Liam comes out first and I hold him while I get Lily out of the car.  When it's time to get back in the car, Lily gets in first, I shut her door, strap Liam in, then go around to finish strapping Lily into her seat. I always put them in the car before unloading my cart!

{FOR MOM}

Mom ALWAYS comes last.  That's definitely the case for me, but over the years, I realized just how important it is to take care of myself, too!

*One of the most inexpensive items that has so many uses is vaseline!  It's my favorite lip balm, plus I can use it on dry skin patches, rub it on my fingernails to make them shiny, use it under my eyes instead of an eye cream, and it works great to remove smeared eye makeup!

*If you haven't discovered it yet, the Target Dollar Spot is mom's best friend.  REALLY. You can find anything there.  From small gifts to stocking stuffers to Easter Egg fillers to seasonal decorations to educational items and toys to items to organize every aspect of your life, it's there!  My most popular post (and pin) is a busy book made from items from the Target Dollar Spot.  I have so much fun shopping in the Target Dollar Spot!

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*Keep a set of weights in the room you are in the most.  When you have a minute or two to spare, do a quick round of weights or toning exercises.  This works during commercial breaks for your favorite shows, too!

These are just a few of my favorite tips and tricks for life with kids!  I'm constantly learning new tricks or adapting my old ones. What works for my family may not work for yours and vice versa, but I think it's fun for moms to learn from each other!

What are a few of YOUR favorite tips and tricks? 

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Linking up with Our Pretty Little Girls for Tuesday Talk.