Thursday, May 31, 2012

{family} A Sister or a Mister?

Yesterday was the big ultrasound day.  So we're proud (and a little surprised!) to announce:

We are thrilled!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

{link list} 5.30.12 Edition

I love link lists. There's nothing better than word of mouth, so when a blogger recommends a recipe, a new shop or a great read, I am all about it! Here are a few things I've come across this week...

1. Summer temps are here and that means Popsicles in this house!  These fruity ice pops look delicious.  I need to order these ice pop molds ASAP!

2. Imagine if you were forced into isolation during menstruation. No school, no access to hygiene for days. It's seems so hard to imagine, but unfortunately, this is real life for many women around the globe.  Enter Days for Girls International, whose idea was simple: get washable feminine hygiene kits into the hands of women who would otherwise go without.  DFG is a really neat organization and takes in all sorts of donations.  Be sure to check out their Facebook page too!

3. Looks like shoes are turning out to be a weekly topic!  Check out this very informative article about Comfy Mom-Friendly Shoes.  I think I need a pair of TOMS and (someday when I'm rich) Frye boots. 

4. On my to-try list this week: Chewy Chocolate PB Cookies and Peach Crunch Cake.  Oh yum.

5. Prepare to awe and wow your kids: make gigantic bubbles using sticks and cotton string!  I know my boys would love this!

6. During a late night of insomnia-induced web browsing, I stumbled upon Gap Kids and oh my word, do they have some cute little dresses for baby girls.  I love this one and this one and this one too.  Today is the big ultrasound day, so I don't have long to wait to see if these will be in my shopping cart! 

7. Drowning in your attempts at becoming a super-mom?  Be sure to read this "Real Chat" post from Anna.  Everything she said was so honest and true.  Definitely a must read, mammas!

8. Etsy find of the week: clothing by Sue BradburyThis tank dress is super cute and I think I could pull off this maxi dress even pregnant.  And this hoodie sweatshirt?  So comfy!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

{home} Getting Ready to Sell: Progress on the Dining Room

Today I'm starting a new series on the Big White Farmhouse: Getting Your House Ready to Sell!  
As much as we adore our sweet little home, the time has come to get it ready to put on the market.  One of the big changes I've been referring to lately is that my husband got a new job.  An awesomely great job that he deserves.  But like every awesome thing, it doesn't come without challenges.  And one of those challenges is moving in this horribly awful housing market.  Perfect timing, right?

With Baby #4 in utero until October, we have decided to wait until the end of 2012/beginning of 2013 to put the house on the market.  So that gives me 6ish months to whip this house into selling shape!  

Now let me be the first to tell you that I have absolutely no qualifications when it comes to house selling and I don't really know what I'm talking about.  But I do look at a lot of pretty homes in magazines and on Pinterest and I do love to research, so I'm hoping we can all learn together!  

So today: the dining room.  Before I painted last weekend, this is what it looked like:

A whole lotta red.  My husband loved it, I tolerated it.  But we all know Rule #1 in the Home Selling Handbook is "paint neutral colors" so the red had to go.  I used YOLO Colorhouse Paint in Stone .02 that I ordered through Amazon.  A couple hours later, and we had this: 

HUGE difference.  The room instantly felt taller and larger.  But I'm not done yet!  Check out what's left on my to-do list:

I'll be back soon with updates!  Until then, what about you?  Have any tips for staging a dining room? 

P.S. Don't mind the fact that one of my sweet innocent children broke one of the drawers off my antique dresser/sideboard.  Jury's still out whether I can fix it.
P.P.S. That sweet innocent child is hiding under the table.  Can you see him?

Monday, May 28, 2012

{family} A Little BWF Summer Camp

Summer is here.  We've been finished with PreK for a few weeks now and one thing is definitely clear: my kids do not do well without some structure!  Without a daily routine, there's been more bickering, more "I'm Bored" whining, and just a general lack of peace.  At this pace, I'd be a mad woman by August!

So I came up with a plan.  The rules were:
1. It had to be easy to implement with very little prior planning.
2. I had to use books and supplies we already extra spending. (Exception: weekend "field trips" with Daddy)

Without further ado, our Summer Camp Schedule!  I included my whole plan (with links!) in the hope that it may help a fellow Mamma survive the summer with little ones too.

BIRDS: June 4-8
Book: Counting is for the Birds
Craft: Cheerios Bird Feeders
Craft: Birds Nests
Activity: Angry Birds coloring pages
Activity: Make our own version of Angry Birds with blocks and balls
Field Trip: Lowes for birdseed and a new feeder

ART: June 11-15
Craft: paint rocks
Craft: Introduce a new medium to work with (clay?)
Craft: Decorate an artist's smock with fabric paint
Activity: sidewalk chalk
Activity: Hold an art exhibit at the end of the week with all of their creations/paintings/drawings

TRAINS: June 18-22
Book: Freight Train
Craft: Toilet Paper Tube Train
Craft: Printable Paintable Train
Activity: Set up train tracks around the living room
Field Trip: Ride the train at the mall

FISH/WATER: June 25-29
Book: Swimmy
Craft: Mosaic Fish
Craft: Paper Aquarium
Activity: Math review with Goldfish Counting Mats
Field trip: Picnic lunch at the beach

OUR TOWN: July 2-6
Books: Little People: Welcome to Our Town and What do People do All Day?
Craft: Build a town out of boxes (paint or cover with paper)
Craft: Draw a map of our neighborhood
Activity: Go for a walk and do a Neighborhood Scavenger Hunt
Field trip: Visit our favorite places: library, bakery, etc.
Field trip: Find a park we've never visited before

ZOO ANIMALS: July 9-13
Books: TBD...we have a ton of animal books scattered around the house
Snack: animal crackers
Craft: Macaroni Lion
Craft: Paper Plate Elephant
Craft: Monkey Masks
Movie: Curious George
Field Trip: Visit the zoo

AIRPLANES: July 16-20
Book: The Little Airplane
Craft: Toilet Paper Tube Airplane
Craft: Popsicle Stick Airplane Scene
Activity: Make paper airplanes and have a flying contest

Friday, May 25, 2012

{gift guide} Need a Little Sunshine?

Have a friend who's going through a rough patch?  Send a little sunshine her way!  Here are a few happy and yellow-inspired gift ideas:

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

{link list} 5.23.12 Edition

I love link lists. There's nothing better than word of mouth, so when a blogger recommends a recipe, a new shop or a great read, I am all about it! Here are a few things I've come across this week...

1. I recently saw a couple of stools similar to these at Marshalls.  Oh my word, were they so cool.  Industrial, yet sorta old-school vintage?  Right up my alley!  I'm hoping I have a place for them in my next house.

2. Who can I send this awesome gift to?  With a little creativity, anything (within reason) can go in the balloons.  I'm thinking little notes, quarters, stickers, and small toys.  And that's just for kiddos.  I'm sure there are many Mammas who need balloon popping as a stress-reliever! 

3. Per Grace's suggestion, I found these awesome Saltwater Sandals.  The price point is much better than my previous choice and I hear the quality is superb.  So excited to order once my size is back in stock! 

4. I liked this list of "Easy Ways to Surprise and Delight Your Children".  Sometimes I get in a parenting rut, and these are great ideas to step up my game.  It's the little things they'll always remember anyway, right? 

5. Imagine there was a short video series that drew on the values of "working hard, being kind, helping each other, being creative, problem solving and staying positive even when frustrating things happen".  Well there is!  It's called Olive Us and the first episode is so sweet. Be sure to watch Ben Blair (aka Dad)'s video on the aim of the project.  I love that his hope is to show healthy family relationships...what a pro-life and pro-family message!

6. I'll be avoiding a bathing suit like the plague this year, but the new swimwear at Shabby Apple has me envisioning my soon-to-be slim bod (HAH) next summer.  Hard to choose, but I think this one and this one are my favorites. 

7. Summer is right around the corner and for many, that means the kids are home full-time.  If you're on the lookout for activities to do when the weather is blazing, look into Smart Bottom Kids.  Darcy has craft kits all ready to planning or running to the craft store necessary!  I have my eye on the Fish Aquarium and the Window Stars for the boys.

8. Refreshing drink ideas on my must-try list: Roasted Peach Lemonade, Orange Push-Up Smoothie, and Raspberry Lemonade Slushie

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

{read along} Mitten Strings for God: Breathing and Healing

I don't have many additional things to say about these two short chapters, but wanted to include a couple of passages because I thought they were great food for thought.

Breathing: "Over the years I have tried all sorts of solutions to the inevitable sibling battles, including forced separations, time-outs, hugs and kisses, and, at times, shouting at the top of my lungs.  Breathing together works best.  Now, before I will listen to either side of the story, before the argument escalates further, before I take any action at all to settle a dispute, we breathe together.  I kneel down and take one child in each arm.  We look into one another's faces, we breathe long and slow and deep, we count to ten or twenty.  In the process, we always seem to find in our hearts a scrap of forbearance, a shred of forgiveness--and that is the beginning of the road back to harmony." -page 97

Healing: "...sometimes our children are really asking for more from us than a perfunctory response, and that is when we must minister not only to the skinned knee, but to an inner need as well.  It does no good to advise a weeping child that the pain will go away on its own.  We are mothers, after all, and it is our job to do something.  And so I created the 'hurt basket,' a treasure chest of magical lotions, potions and healing aids.  The wicker basket, stored high on a bathroom shelf, invokes a ritual--it means that time will be taken to ease a pain, that I care, that I will do my best to bring comfort.  The contents of the basket change with the season: soothing throat lozenges in winter, an 'itch eraser' for summer's mosquito bites.  But in general we are not without peppermint foot lotion, arnica gel, witch hazel, calamine lotion...and last, but not least, a truly impressive array of Band-Aids...To an adult, a Band-Aid may be nothing but a sticky plastic strip; but to a child it is a badge of honor, imbued with magical healing properties.  Be grateful and stock up." --page 101 (emphasis mine)

Monday, May 21, 2012

{chit chat} Miscellany on a Monday

1. This weekend was busy, busy.  The weather was beautiful, so we decided to cram in as much as we possibly could.  A trip to Lowes to pick out new hardwood floors.  Lots of yardwork and playing outside.  Errands and bedtime adventures to get ice cream.  I even painted my dining room!  It was full and fun.     

2. Nine more days until we find out if a Mister or a Sister will be joining the fam.  We are all excited to finally call this baby by name.  And indulge me while I rant a bit: I am getting a little tired of all of the random comments from people telling me they are hoping "I get my girl" or "I know you'll be disappointed if it's not a girl".  I always just smile, but I find it a little heartbreaking that no one acts like they'd be excited if it was another boy (which let's be honest, is quite possible with my previous track record).  Boy #4 is just as exciting and as much of a miracle as Boy #1.  Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one who feels that way.   

3. I am so bad about making a menu every week, but I really am trying!  After a quick peek in the fridge and pantry, these are recipes I came up with (thank you, Pinterest board!)

Breakfast for Dinner Tuesday: Bacon, Egg and Cheese Ring
Thursday: leftovers
Friday: Crock Pot Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps (and probably pizza for the kids)
Saturday: Soccer and Family Day!

miscellany monday at
lowercase letters

Friday, May 18, 2012

{deals} My First Order with OKL

You know how much I window shop at One Kings Lane, right?  I probably check the site at least once a week, always finding something I love.  So when OKL contacted me with a store credit to try out the shopping experience, I couldn't say yes fast enough!  

Making a decision was hard.  So hard.  I finally decided on a white ceramic jar.  Check out the pictures to see:

Isn't the packaging great?  Loved the simple kraft paper with the Thank You sticker.

The jar is white and ceramic.  I love the unique design on the lid...isn't it interesting?  It reminded me of a stained glass window.  This jar is very versatile and I can already see it being used in a number of ways: in the living room as a catch-all for keys, on my dresser for jewelry, purely as decoration on a stack of books...
Right now, I thought it was safest (away from my children - it is ceramic afterall!) in my bathroom to hold makeup.  Roomy enough to hold all of my essentials! 

So now I can definitively say that One Kings Lane is a great site, start to finish!  If you're interested, be sure to sign up!

**I was awarded a store credit to try out OKL, but the experience and opinions are all my own!**

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

{link list} 5.16.12 Edition

I love link lists. There's nothing better than word of mouth, so when a blogger recommends a recipe, a new shop or a great read, I am all about it! Here are a few things I've come across this week...

1. We've finished PreK, but the boys still ask to "do school" on nearly a daily basis.  I'm thinking of incorporating a special craft time 2-3x a week to hold them over until the fall.  This activity using Harry the Dirty Dog looks really fun.  Playing in dirt and then eating bone-shaped cookies?  They'd be all about that!    

2. After a very thorough cleaning out of my closet, I realized I am in dire need of new sandals.  I like these, but my cheapo self cringes at the price. 

3. I am still plugging away in my current book, but am already looking to my next choice.  Right now it's between Ellis Island: A Novel and Angel Sister.  Have you read either one?

4. I'm always looking for creative gifts for kids.  This DIY Detective Kit would definitely be a hit with the boys in this house!  I like that the kit could totally work for girls too, though.  Did you ever read Cam Jansen growing up?

5. Oh, if only I had the time to do this beautiful embroidery!  If you've read this blog for even a short amount of time, you know how much I admire Mother Teresa.  Maybe I'll get the itch to start it this summer.

6. New recipes on my to-try list: Cheddar Baked Chicken and Mexican Chicken Soup.

7. It was providence that I was watching this video on Young House Love's blog last night.  Mark has been complaining about needing a haircut for a week now, but hates shelling out the money.  When he turned to me and said, "Hey! You should try to cut mine!", I was skeptical (read: terrified I was going to really mess up).  But I followed the directions and verdict: he loves it!   

8. Quote of the week: "To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich; to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart; to study hard; to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common - this is my symphony." -William Henry Channing

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

{recording life} Project Life: Week Nineteen

Back again with another week of Project Life!  This week, I found I had hardly taken my camera out and had very little photos to work with.  Definitely a challenge, but I was pleasantly surprised that I still had enough stories to fill the slots.  So much to tell in this little home of ours!  (Please forgive the pictures.  We've had rainy weather, so no natural lighting this week.)

Left side.  I used a few pictures taken with my phone to correspond with little notes I wrote to each of the boys.  In the notes, I kept it real: I talked about the good and the struggles.  I think we'll all look back on them and laugh someday.  Also included a quote that I found hastily written down on scratch paper.  I thought PL was a better way to keep it: "You are raising tomorrow's men. Make warriors not wimps."

Right side.  One new feature that I really liked was including recipe cards for a meal we loved (the chicken and zucchini chips mentioned here).  I used two of these printable cards, which I loved since I could type right on the cards before printing.  Then I added tabs and slipped them in the pocket. So easy.   

Be sure to check out The Mom Creative for even more PL ideas! 

Monday, May 14, 2012

{i want to remember} - 5/14/12

Memories from Mother's Day 2012:

I WANT TO REMEMBER... waking up to two excited big boys bounding in my room.  They were full of hugs and proudly announced that they had cleaned their room all on their own.  And then I had the early morning privilege of witnessing a full. out. brawl.  Some things never change, not even for Mother's Day.

I WANT TO REMEMBER... my breakfast: breakfast burritos.  My husband is a master cook, I tell you.  They were delicious.

I WANT TO REMEMBER... making it through the majority of Mass with very well-behaved children.  I was feeling proud and even a little braggy, until J wasn't allowed to color in M's coloring book and had a full. out. tantrum right there in the pew.  Hello walk of shame to the back of the church.

I WANT TO REMEMBER... meeting my mom, dad and siblings at the restaurant for a yummy Italian lunch.  I will never forget the look of pure joy on M's face as he enjoyed his spaghetti and meatballs.  Apparently that is a rare delicacy in our home and he couldn't get enough. 

I WANT TO REMEMBER... a wonderful gift: a childless afternoon, browsing through the antique stores downtown with my mom.  It was amazing and relaxing.  And it ended with icecream.  Does it get better than that?

I WANT TO REMEMBER... how much I love this vocation - the good, the bad and the ugly.  I am so, so blessed.   

Friday, May 11, 2012

{reminder} How to Care for Introverts

As a pretty introverted person myself and the mother of one just like me, I thought this was pretty spot-on.  Have a great weekend, friends!

P.S. Need a little perspective this morning?  Be sure to read this.  A-MEN.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

{link list} 5.10.12 Edition

I love link lists.  There's nothing better than word of mouth, so when a blogger recommends a recipe, a new shop or a great read, I am all about it!  Here are a few things I've come across this week...

1. Inspired by Laura and her amazingly faithful weekly menus, I joined the party and have been making my own again!  Biggest hit last week was Melt in your Mouth Chicken and Cheesy Baked Zucchini "Chips" good, my husband requested it again!

2. I got goosebumps and tears in my eyes when I watched this amazing video on Kristen's blogThe Mercy House is such an amazing organization.  Be sure to check out their shop...I have my eye on this necklace.  

3. How awesome is this idea?  I love that she used instagram photos, but I think the concept could work in a number of ways.  I'm envisioning either cutting regular 4x6" photos into squares or even a collage of the boys' artwork. 

4. This skirt is so cute and the price is right.  I'm wondering how long I'd be able to squeeze my almost-20-weeks-pregnant body in it before I start to look ridiculous.

5. Quote of the week (found on Sarah's blog): "It is very important that children learn from their fathers and mothers how to love one another-not in school, not from the teacher, but from you.  It is very important that you share with your children the joy of that smile.  There will be misunderstandings; every family has its cross, its suffering.  Always be the first to forgive with a smile.  Be cheerful, be happy." - Mother Teresa 

6. My boys are fascinated by birds...well, scratch that...we all are fascinated!  I love the idea of a designated basket near our feeder filled with guide books and binoculars.  A great way for all of us to learn! 

7. Do you read The Nester?  She is in Tanzania right now for Compassion International and this post stopped me in my tracks.  Too often I only invite people in my home after a litany of apologies and excuses for its imperfections.  What a humbling much to learn from the poorest of the poor.

8. On a recent browse through etsy, I found a new shop: Karol's Handmade Soap.  With scents like Pearberry, Lavender Oatmeal, and Blackberry Clove, I'm hoping to order soon!  Be sure to check out her solid Lotion Bar in Pink Sugar too!

If you make a link list of your own, please share in the comments so we can check it out!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

{family} Around Here...

We are in full soccer mode.  M has loved his first season so far and has learned so much.  He's quite a natural!  Can't believe he only has three weeks left.  We'll definitely be looking into playing during the fall.

I don't know what it is about this tray, but my boys think it is the best thing ever!  We had an afternoon movie/snack date and this is the concoction I came up with. (A mix of everything I could find in our fridge and pantry!)

I lugged this playslide upstairs from the basement and it's been great to have a little something different to play with in the living room.  J is loving the slide!  As for the big boys, they've created so many forts and castles, I've lost count.

Speaking of the living room, I can finally say that painting has been crossed off my list!  So glad that's done.  Now I'm on the search for pillow replacements for the couch.  I'm thinking something like this or this.  When I get another burst of energy, I have another can waiting to be used to paint over the red in my dining room.  Now that should be fun...

This is an all too common occurrence in our home.  M and D love to play with Playmobil and are actually quite good about picking up, but J.  Oh J.  His new trick is taking their bins, dumping the contents all around the room, and then running away before getting caught.  I've got my hands full with that one!

I'm selling a few of our school books from this year on ebay to start preparing for Kindergarten in the fall!  If you're in need of Five in a Row books, let me know and I'll send you the link to the auctions!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

{family} Glucose Test Day: Prayers Appreciated!

Friends, I'm asking for prayers this morning!  Last week, I failed my 1 hour glucose test, so I am back in the lab this morning to tackle the 3 hour.  I had gestational diabetes with J and this test is the worst.  I am nervous and anxious and hoping I don't throw up (if you've taken the test before, you know what I mean!).  If you could, would you pray for me today?

Image Source

Monday, May 7, 2012

{read along} Mitten Strings for God: Surrender

You can find the rest of my thoughts on Mitten Strings chapters here.

Surrender.  I think as mothers, we first learn this in labor.  Maybe you've written out a clearly defined birth plan: soft music in the background, possibly an epidural (which of course you'll decide if and when you want it), and immediate nursing after birth.  You are steadfast in your choices.  But then labor comes, quick and in a hurry.  Maybe it's so fast and furious, there's just no time for that calming music, no time for the epidural.  Maybe the baby's heartbeat decreases at an alarming rate and before you know it, you're up in the OR in the middle of an emergency C-section.  
It's at that moment that you learn surrender.  You learn that the health of that baby is so much more important than any plan you could create.  You learn what it means to let go and let God.

"Sometimes our children's needs do not coincide neatly with our own beliefs.  And therein lies a challenge.  Do I try to control every aspect of our family environment, or do I allow others to help shape it too?  Do I always enforce the rules, or do I sometimes step aside and trust my children to find their own way?  Surrendering is always an act of faith, and letting go is never easy." - page 88

How are you learning surrender in your vocation as a mother? 

Friday, May 4, 2012

{chit chat} Mother's Day Roundup

Mother's Day is just a little over a week away, can you believe it?  Our plans are still a mystery to me, but there have been lots of whispering and planning going on between the boys and their Daddy.  I hate being out of the loop!  
A few Mother's Day finds, courtesy of the WWW:

1. The hand/footprint flower is a perfect gift for the Grandmas in your life.
2. Anna at In Honor of Design created two awesome 5x7" prints that can also double as postcards.  So darling.
3. Smitten Blog Designs is offering a free printable, perfect for Mother's Day brunch. 
4. This keyring craft looks super fast and easy!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

{recording life} Life with a Three-Year-Old

Life is interesting with three-year-olds, at least in this house.  Despite being attached to me 24/7 as a baby, Mr. D is not really cuddly or physically affectionate .  He's quite reserved, but never wavers when he's got something on his mind.  He has a great imagination and loves "guys", Legos and puzzles.  He is stubborn and frequently questions authority, often resulting in a lot of time spent in time-out.  We are in a constant battle of push and pull, he and I.  

So last weekend, when we were all a little under the weather, you can imagine my surprise when my sweet boy climbed into my lap.  Curled his body next to mine and quickly fell asleep.  He didn't feel well and the only comfort he wanted was Mamma.  I sat in that chair, rubbing his back and thanking God for this treasure of mine.  He may sometimes be difficult, but he also challenges me to be a better mother.  And for that, I will always be grateful.         

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

{gift guide} For the Life List-er

Bucket List Journal - Travel Stickers (similar) - Manila Pockets (similar)

I've been meaning to share this gift idea for months now!  My cousin Stephanie is a Life List-er like myself, so when I found this awesome journal on etsy, I knew it had to be hers!  I included a few extras to help in the documentation of her list: fun travel stickers and small manila pockets to hold ticket stubs and other memorabilia.  A simple yet really fun gift!
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