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    Home & DIY

    The Baby’s Room

    There is one room in our house now that I feel is “done”.

    This is our third baby and it is the first time I have gotten to decorate a room solely to be used as a nursery. With our first baby, almost six years ago, we were poor college students, me having just graduated and Brian finishing his last year. We lived in a two bedroom apartment and the “nursery” consisted of a crib being set up in the corner of our “office”. Yet, it was special because it was our first baby. We were making it work and we were making it.

    With our second baby, we lived in a different two bedroom apartment. For the first few months, he slept in our room and then moved in with our oldest. I loved their room because it was sweet to see them share it. I think it provided the foundation for the bond they have now. I also loved the simple decor I was able to set up, now both Brian and I in graduate school (were we gluttons for punishment or what?).

    With our third baby, we live in a house with enough space for her to have her own room. It’s hard to explain, but I felt like I knew her personality before she was born. I knew she would be gentle and delicate, content and simple. I don’t know if she will stay that way throughout her life, but as a baby she is. I wanted her room to reflect that. Here are a few of my favorite aspects of the room:

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    This small gallery is my favorite. It literally took me months to fill the frames. One part, “now I have three kids” and one part, I wanted to find the perfect things to put in the frames. The two pictures of Emma herself are special because they are from her blessing day. I love the one of her little hand and the tiny bracelet, also worn by her older sister on her blessing day. The prints are free printables and I was selective in the words and images because I wanted them to be important words that would lift her up and strengthen her and images that remind her of who she is (a Texan, obviously). Print from here.

    A closer look at some of the details. This set of books is unique and special because it was my mom’s, then I read them, and now I can read them with my girls.
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    Books always make a simple and meaningful decor.

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    This storage unit has made it’s way around our house in different rooms. Right now, it’s place is here.dscn2983

    Simplicity is what I was going for, so on this wall is just the crib and this simple garland from Target that cost a few dollars.
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    That’s it. It’s simple and gentle. There is no clutter and it feels peaceful. I’m slowly working through the other rooms in the house. And let’s not look in the closet in this room yet, shall we? It’s still a storage area.

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    Learning

    Making the Most of that One Library Book

    As is a common theme right now, kindergarten has opened up a whole new world of experiences for us this year. Waking up early, making new friends, begging to buy lunch, and checking out your very own book from the library!

    My daughter was very excited to check out her very own book, choose a bookmark and take care of it all week. She told us all about how they had a lesson about how to care for library books (we’ve had a few mishaps with library books in the past, so this was probably very good information). Now, when children have free reign over their choices at the library, the selections can be…interesting. We are only two weeks into this whole library book excitement, but I am hoping to find a way to use these books for extra learning and growth. Because, it’s a fact that you will read that library book every day for the seven days it is in your possession!dscn2979

    I actually loved this book that my daughter chose last week at the library. So many important life lessons can be taken from this book!

    Here are a few suggestions on how to use your weekly library choices. These work for more than just kindergarten, parents should be reading with their children as they grow!-

    • READ the book! Every night we are supposed to “study” a book for ten minutes, according to my daughter. Pretty sure it is just “read” for ten minutes, but she likes the word study. First and foremost, read, read, read!
    • Ask questions. Simple questions like: Who are the characters? What happened in the story? What was the problem in the story? How was the problem fixed? Include some critical thinking questions like, How would you solve the problem? What would you do in that situation? How do you feel about what happened? Any question you can think of to help your child think about what they are reading will be beneficial for them.
    • Apply it to their life. This may not work perfectly for every book you read. Last week, my daughter chose a book about a polar bear who ate ice cream, so that one was just…interesting. But, this current book is perfect for this! Kindness, bravery, courage, love, are all topics we could discuss from this book! Children are likely to remember lessons they learn even better when they are linked to a story they read or experience they had, so try as much as you can to connect what they are reading to their own life.
    • Encourage retelling and imaginary play. “Playing kindergarten” has been a big deal around our house the past month. And now that library books are being checked out, they are for sure making an appearance. Not only is this a fun activity, it is also great for little developing minds and readers! In this instance, my daughter (who isn’t reading whole books yet) was able to retell the story in her own words while pretending to teach her class of kindergartners. This is wonderful for comprehension and creativity.
    • READ again– You can never read too much. Even as your children grow older, read aloud to them. It will make a difference for them as readers and provide ways for you to connect with your child. It’s the best!

    It’s always a surprise to see what library book comes home each week. What will this week’s treasure be?

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    Parenting

    Back to School and the Fear of Missing Out

    A few weeks ago, our family entered a new phase of life. Our oldest started kindergarten! This day was met with much anticipation, excitement with a little apprehension mixed in. Of course, I was sad to see one of my best little friends, sidekick, and helper go for a whole day, but I knew it would be good for her! She loves being social, loves learning, and is fiercely independent.

    On the first day of school, after a fun report of all the exciting things that happen that day, her first question to me was, “So, what did you guys do today?” After I told her, with a look of disappointment, she said, “Without me?” That tugged on my heartstrings just a bit because it was true. A lot things would now be done “without her”. Grocery shopping, trips to the park, storytime at the library, regular playdates with friends, going to the gym childcare (because to my children, that is one of the most fun places to go), and the list goes on. That was a hard pill for me, and now her, to swallow.

    After I reassured her that we missed her and we would still be doing things with her, I started thinking of ways I could help cure, or at least lessen, her kindergarten FOMO, because, it’s a real thing.

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    Here are five things I am trying, or am planning to try!

    1- Include them in the errands, even if they aren’t there! Last week, my younger two and I headed to Michael’s for a few things. I let my two year old choose a sticker book. One, because it was fun and two, because it gave me five more minutes of shopping time! On my way to check out, I passed some Halloween princess stickers for $1 each. I picked out two (Frozen and an all-inclusive princess pack, lest any be left out) for my oldest, and that was that. When I gave them to her that afternoon, she was so thrilled!

    2- Finish most of your work before they come home Whatever your setup is, try to accomplish most of your own tasks before they come home or before you are all back together. Now that my oldest is in school, I usually have a 1-2 hour block of time where my youngest two are napping. I try to finish as much of my work, my home responsibilities, and other odds and ends, before she gets home. That way, I can give her as much of the attention as I can without my mind wandering to the other things I wanted to get done.  Easier said than done, I know, but so helpful.

    3- Save some of the errands for when you are with them– Even though I still have two little ones, it is considerably easier to run errands with two, than it is with three, no matter the ages. However, when you have a child who loves to go places (ahem, my oldest), one way I try to help her feel included in our day-to-day life now that she is gone for a majority of the time, is save some of the errands for when we are all back together. Costco (free samples!), Target (toy section!), and the car wash (colored soap!) are all go to places for us.

    4-Keep going on adventures!– One of my favorite things to do as a mom is take my kids on adventures to cool places- a new park, the museum, the zoo, you name it. School gets out at 2:45 here. That leaves plenty of time for adventures! Instead of heading home, hit the pool or try out a new park, or head to a museum or the zoo if it’s close.

    5-Be there for them– When all is said and done, the best thing I have found is to just be there for them. Since this is my first experience with having a child gone all day at school, sometimes they just need an extra snuggle, to read a story, or to just sit by them while they play for them to know you are there, you care and haven’t forgotten about them while they are gone at school. It’s a big change for them and your love and support is what they really need!

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    Motherhood

    Signs

    Motherhood is hard. Parenting is hard. Life is hard. There are ups and downs in any area of life, right? Recently, I went through a patch of motherhood that I felt was so much teaching, learning, stretching and growing that it was sometimes exhausting. I’m sure just as much for my children as it was for me. I have to remind myself that we are all in this together. I genuinely believe that kids want to be good, choose good, and do good. But they have to have direction, support, and love, even if it’s hard.

    One particular day, I was just trying to keep my patience, correct with love and teach with kindness, and inside I felt like I was doing a terrible job. I set up my oldest with some markers and paper to color for a few minutes of quiet time. Instead of going to start the laundry, or fix dinner, I sat down for a few minutes to color with her. Sometimes it’s just the proximity that builds the connection.

    I started doodling on a paper, writing her name and then decorating with words that reminded me of her. Reminiscent of my middle school and high school days where this was the fun thing to do for your friends. After awhile, she asked me what I was doing. I showed her and read her all the words I was writing. Loving. Kind. Brave. Beautiful. The more I read, the brighter her eyes got. I wrote “Love, Mom” at the top and told her it was for her. She gave me a big hug and said, “I’m going to hang this over my bed so I can always remember these things!”

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    After that, I started dinner and she went on coloring. A little while later, she grabbed the tape and ran into my room. I walked in later and found this:

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    A sign that meant the world to me. Sometimes something small is all you need.

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    Home & DIY

    Staying Connected Across The Miles: Family Photo Map for less than $2

    Raise your hand if you have family living all over the country…or the world? Most people do! We are lucky to have close relationships with our extended families and we try to get together at least once a year.

    I’m a sucker for school supplies and picked up a United States map in the dollar section a couple of years ago and promptly forgot about it after it got lost in my craft drawers.

    A few months ago, I was digging around and discovered it again. It happened to be around the time I was reconfiguring our playroom. The map immediately added some unique (and educational!) decor, but I wanted to add more.

    One day my oldest and I were talking about where each of our extended families live and I had an idea to put small photos of each family in the state in which they live.

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    This project is so simple, quick and inexpensive! All you need is a US (or world!) map and small photos of any family members you want to include. I laminated mine so they would be more durable, but that isn’t necessary. After you print and cut the photos, add them to appropriate location.

    So many discussions could come out of this project! Where does your family live? Who lives where? How many states/countries away is that? What do you know about where they live? Lots of options! Enjoy this fun, inexpensive way to connect your family despite the long distances!

     

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    Home & DIY

    DIY Silhouette Canvases

    I did this DIY project a couple of summers ago, but it remains one of my favorite spots in my home! An alternative to a family photo, it provides a unique focal point for an open wall. Check back soon to see how I added my third baby into the mix!

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    You’ll need an 8×10 canvas for each silhouette, a side profile photo of each indivdiual, a black permanent marker and black craft paint.

    First, trim each photo so only the side profile remains. Center the photo on your canvas and trace it with the permanent marker. Paint within the tracing until there is an even coat of black paint (2-3 coats for me). Allow the silhouette to dry (if you can! I couldn’t wait to get mine on the wall!

    I love that these canvases are so light! I can use easy to remove wall mounts so I don’t even have to nail into the wall. This project could extend to so much more than just individual profiles; states, homes, landscapes, get creative!

    Have fun!

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    Celebrations

    Simple Celebrations: Preschool Graduation

    I love making little moments special. I am trying to be better about making it happen. In the past, what has gotten me is expectations. Someone once told me, a lot of misunderstandings come because of unmet (or misunderstood) expectations. For me, I usually set the bar too high. I start with grand plans and then get overwhelmed and so I just don’t do anything. It’s super effective. I am trying to start with lower expectations. A few planned things and if I have time, energy, money, to expand then great! If not, I am not disappointed. Celebrations, parties and similar events often get me this way. Then I end up feeling sad and guilty because I really didn’t end up doing anything because I overwhelmed myself. So we are starting with baby steps here!

    My oldest just finished preschool last week. She went to a class that was a bit unconventional and goes year round. Therefore, there was no preschool graduation. My daughter probably wouldn’t have noticed if I didn’t do anything. But I wanted to. And she was so thrilled. And it was so worth it.

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    It was beyond simple and that is the point of this post! Little celebrations do not have to be complicated, expensive or time consuming! I bought the tassel garland at Target for $2-$3 and made the graduation hat out of poster board and a tassel I cut off the garland and hot glued on top. So easy and yet, my little graduate declared it, “the best day ever!”

    Need to make a graduation hat for your own little one? Follow these simple steps:

    -Choose the size of your hat, it’ll be a square. Mine ended up being about 12.5″ on each side.

    -Measure your little one’s head. Cut a strip of paper to match the circumference of their head (or measure their two-year-old brother’s head, because it’s about the same size!) The strip should be about 2-3 inches tall. Tape or glue the strip into a circle.

    -Hot glue the band onto the square.

    -Hot glue a tassel of your choice to the center of your hat so that it will drape to one size.

    Celebrate your little one’s accomplishment! It will make their day to have their very own hat! To complete the celebration we had macaroni and cheese and raspberry lemonade (with special straws) for dinner. That was it! With my daughter’s excitement, you would have thought it was the grandest party they had ever attended.

    Success!

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