First Day of School Jitters

Whelp, here’s the obligatory “First Day of School” post.  As if you didn’t see enough of my kiddos on Instagram and Facebook this week!  The past few weeks have been a blur of busyness, school shopping, and sibling nit-picking.  Pretty typical for the end of summer in most houses, I’d like to think.

But now, the school year has officially started, and all three are in new classes and new schools.

Jayna and Millie started 2nd and Kindergarten at a brand new school up the street.  It was a little dicey whether it would open on time, but we had Meet the Teacher on Sunday afternoon and the kids were ready to roll on Monday morning.First Day of School 2016They hyped up the new school opening with a balloon arch, a “photo op” backdrop, and their own hashtag!  The girls were more than happy to pose with their best friends while we waited for the doors to open for the first day of school.Rockstars on the First Day of SchoolI was a little nervous about Millie’s transition to “Big School,” especially since it was a completely new environment {she had at least visited Jayna’s old school a few times}.  And the school itself was only about 80% done by the first day of school…safe for kids, but not as inviting as an established building with cubbies and colorful bulletin boards.  But I know it will get there, and I’m just happy the school opened on time!!The First Day of School (and Kindergarten!)Millie’s teacher, Ms. Miller, is a veteran teacher, and happens to be married to one of the developers of the new development where the new school is located.  So she’s familiar with the plan for the new community, and felt like she was meant to find a home in the new school too.  She seemed truly excited for the school year, and I found it endearing that she still gets choked up meeting her new little ones even after teaching for 20-some years!First Day of School and 2nd gradeAgain, it might be just because the school barely opened in time, but Jayna is in a Big Kid classroom this year.  No carpet squares.  No colorful calendar for Circle Time.  Real desks instead of tables.  Jayna’s teacher, Ms. Cushman, transferred over from our old school, but we don’t know anyone that had her….so it’s a blank slate!  Jayna is thrilled to have a neighborhood friend in class with her, and can’t wait for Reading and Writing time {surprise, surprise….}.First Day of School in the Two Year Old ClassLincoln had his Meet the Teacher on Monday, after his big sisters went to school.  My little guy had no problems acclimating, making fast friends with another handsome blondie, and mastering the peg puzzles that were out on the floor.  He was ecstatic about the dress-up clothes, which should please Dave because there were waaaaaay more Firefighter/Doctor/Superhero outfits than Princesses!  And I am thrilled that his teachers, Ms. Lianne and Ms. Christy, are friends of mine from when Jayna was a baby at CDC too!I took the traditional “before school” picture, that I have taken with all the kids each each they start CDC.  And I managed to dig up the girls’ pictures from their first day of the 2-year old class.  It’s fun to see them when they are all the same age!It's always reassuring to get a mid-day pic of a smiling kid on the First Day of School! #teacherwinI have to say, as a parent with a Little at school for the first time, it was so reassuring to get a {SMILING!!!} picture in the middle of the day.  Linc barely kissed me goodbye at drop-off before he ran over to join friends.  And when I picked him up, he didn’t want to leave!  He even told me in the car that he was going to “take a nap and THEN go to ‘cool again!”.  Needless to say, I think they ALL are going to have a fantastic school year!

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Weekend Wedding in Atlanta

Last month, we went to one of Dave’s cousins’ wedding in Atlanta.  We had a blast….and took ALOT of pictures.  I’ve been editing every night trying to get this post out to you!  Dave comes from a HUGE family, most of whom live in the Atlanta area.  So when his cousin Abby got married, we packed up our clown car and headed west.

We don’t get to see everyone very often, but Dave has a bunch of cousins that are our age, and then all of our kids, who are about the same age as well.  It’s amazing how kids who haven’t seen each other in years {or ever!} can pick up immediately and become best friends…at least for the weekend!The girl cousins pose before the wedding in Atlanta!We started the weekend hanging out with the family at one of the Aunt’s houses.  The girls hung out with the bride and played piano, the bigger ones played board games in the basement, and the boys rough and tumbled all over the house!  And the adults talked…and talked…and talked…

Friday, we had kind of a free day as half of the cousins went to bridal luncheons and hair appointments.  So, naturally, we went to the mall.  And immediately spent way too much money on the first thing that we saw….trampolines.  We harnessed the girls up and video-taped their every jump for the next 10 minutes.  Millie enjoyed jumping all over the place, and *ahem,* trying to flip. Jayna caught on to the flipping right away, and I got dizzy just watching her!

On Saturday, we spent the morning napping and swimming…my perfect vacation!  And it was a good thing we rested up, because the reception turned out to be quite the party.

The reception was held in this old converted train depot…huge chandeliers, exposed brick, and the wood bathroom stall doors were even gorgeous!Our weekend away for the wedding in Atlanta! Cousins, dancing and a Photo Booth of course!And the groom’s cake was so cool, featuring a Georgia Tech stadium complete with a real jumbo-tron!The traditional cake, and the groom's "cake" for the wedding in Atlanta....a Georgia Tech stadium with truffles as spectators and an iPad Jumbo-tron!But the highlight of the wedding in Atlanta was the Photo Booth.  I just can’t.  The kids were so stinkin’ adorable in that booth!  And it was set up in a way that I was able to sneak behind the camera and get some priceless shots!Our weekend away for the wedding in Atlanta! Cousins, dancing and a Photo Booth of course!These three were immediately pros…especially when it came to silly faces.  I guess all 4ish year-old kids are naturals when it comes to silly faces.Our weekend away for the wedding in Atlanta! Cousins, dancing and a Photo Booth of course!Little Lincoln {in his adorable bow-tie!} spend the evening with a full dance card….all the ladies wanted to boogie with him, but his favorite was “Princess” Abby!Our weekend away for the wedding in Atlanta! Lil' Man has a crush on the bride! Everyone had a blast dancing the night away!  We can’t wait to hang out with the whole family again soon!

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How to Drive this Mama Crazy

Having three kids, a husband, a dog and a house has changed me.  For the better, I’d like to believe.  I mean, compared to when I was a single 20-something living alone, I cook more, am more responsible, and way more frugal.  However, I feel like my anxiety levels have been amped since having children.  I’m not quite a hot mess {yet}, but there are little things now that stress me out…and often push me over the edge.10 Ways to Make Mama Crazy #quirky #OCD #anxiety #humor #parentingHere are my top ten things that give me a slight twitch.

1.  The dog barking.  And she does so….a lot.  I mean, a mouse farts in Cleveland and my dog is going crazy.

2.  Cracked doors.  A door is meant to be open or shut…there is no in-between.  And I simply cannot sleep if the bathroom door is open at all.

3.  Things on the floor.   Shoes, clothes, toys.  Pick them up for crying out loud….because 9 times out of 10 I am carrying something or someone, and can’t see the crap that you’ve left on the floor until I step on it.  {Darn you, Legos!}

4.  A messy playroom.  I’m not sure why this room stresses me out so much.  Maybe its the level of clutter, or the reminder of all of the materialist plastic “stuff” we own {that is mostly unplayed with or broken}…but I. Just. Can’t.

5.  Tapping.  Whether it be my toddler banging on the table, my handy hubby hammering in the garage, rain dripping through the gutters, or the guy in church whose right foot is tap dancing through the service….just stop.

6. Dishes.  My husband is a “Soaker.”  Every dish needs to soak, regardless of what was in it.  Including water glasses, cereal bowls and stray spoons.  They constantly live in the sink or on the counter just next to the sink.  And somehow they can’t make it that extra foot into the dishwasher. “Let them soak til morning…I’ll get them then!” he says…Nope.  The idea of four dishes cluttering my kitchen overnight is inexcusable.  I lose sleep over this.

7.  Agressive Drivers.  For some reason, I am constantly getting cut off or flicked off.  Maybe I’m a terrible driver {don’t you DARE ask Dave…}, but every time another driver gets mad at me, I take it extremely personally.  I will stew over the reason I got the finger for the rest of my ride home…I mean, what did I do????

8.  Wrinkles in bed.  And I’m not talking about mine…. The sheets moving around each night, shifting so that there are large wrinkles in the fitted sheet…it’s just not right.  I know he loves me, because I make Dave re-fit the sheet every night so it’s on nice and tight.  And on laundry day, when they smell good and fit oh-so-tightly on the bed? A little slice of Heaven.

9.  Hair.  In oh-so-many ways.  It drives me nuts when I have a stray one stuck to the back of my arm…tickling and teasing me until I look crazy swinging and batting at my batwings trying to find it.  And the little stray ones that stick out of various places on my face my eyebrows.  I just have to get them. Right. Now.  {Even if it makes us late for church!}  And don’t even get me started on my daughters’ hair.  I don’t know how they don’t walk into walls or fall down manholes….it is always in their faces.

10.  Odd numbers.  The thermostat must be set to 70 or 72….never 71.  I may make an exception for the 5’s.  And I hate it when bloggers make “Top” lists that aren’t 5, 10 or 15.  I mean, who ever hear of “Top Nine Ways To Drive This Mama Crazy?”

Soooo…now you know all my quirks {or at least the ones I’m comfortable sharing….}.

Still wanna be friends? {If you do, please be sure to “like” me on all your social media channels….those pesky little “like” numbers are what bring home the bacon!  And leave me a comment with one of your quirks….I know I’m not alone out there…

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Sunday Scripture: Love Matters

I have no words to express my emotions about the tragic events over the past couple of weeks.  My heart is broken for all the lives lost, for the families, and for us as a country.  We are all God’s children, and all a broken people.Sunday Scripture: Love MattersAnd with all of the animosity and controversy over the different #matters movements…I think we are losing focus over what God wants.  Love thy neighbor.  Treat them as yourself.  Love your God and love His children.  All of them.  Period.Sunday Scripture: Love Matters#LoveMatters

Have a blessed week!

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{The images in today’s Sunday Scripture were found here and here on Pinterest.  The original images were not able to be found on the actual websites.}

Back on the Weightloss Bandwagon

With our Vegas trip looming, I’ve buckled down and climbed back on the bandwagon of eating healthier and toning up.  I hadn’t realized that I had fallen off…but when I think back to the past couple of months, I realize that I’ve had more “cheat” days than “good” days thanks to happy hours, birthday parties, dinners out, etc.

So with a month to go before our trip, I started going to the gym {either the YMCA or bootcamp} at least 4 days a week, or at least working out in the house.  When I went to the Y, I did my treadmill routine and then either took a class or used the equipment for a half hour.  When I workout at home, I have been doing this quick workout {takes about 15 minutes}.  Add a toddler to the mix, and not only are you adding weight, but also agility {don’t land on him!}.  He also helps my form as he likes to sit on me during sit-ups and under me during planks!

Quick 15 minute at home whole-body workout #exercise #workout #weightloss #cardio

I’ve also gone back to eating my egg white omelets each morning.  It’s amazing what a difference they make.  I’d been eating about 400 calories worth of cereal, fruit and coffee {creamer/sugar} for breakfast each morning.  Again not really thinking anything of it, since it’s not like it was french toast or anything.  But when I switched over to a high protein 100 calorie meal and stopped adding sugar {still gotta have that creamer though….}….I was able to cut out 275 calories out of my diet by 8am each morning.

I’m feeling much better in general, and will definitely feel great for Vegas!

Want to read more about my weightloss?  Read this post on how I lost 30 lbs in 15 weeks.  Or, this post for tracking your weightloss {with free printables}.  Or even this post on my no-fail arm workout.

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Down on the Farm

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve already met Noodle and Gelato, our foster bunnies.  If you’ve followed me for over a year, you know we had foster chicks last year.  You should really follow me on Instagram…What started out as a couple of curious foster bunnies exploring our playroom, turned into a summer adventure of farm experiences!What started out as a couple of curious foster bunnies exploring our playroom, turned into a summer adventure of farm experiences!Anyway, this year, we opted for baby bunnies, and our friend Mr. Paul happens to have a hobby farm up the road from us.  He helps out with the animals at Bee City, our favorite local petting zoo, and has quite the menagerie of his own.  So when he offered to let us borrow some of the baby bunnies from his farm, we jumped on the chance to visit the rest of the animals too!What started out as a couple of curious foster bunnies exploring our playroom, turned into a summer adventure of farm experiences!And we’ve been back almost weekly ever since!  Another year or so and I’m gonna just start sending the kids to work on the farm for the summer!  Some of the things we’ve learned during our visits:

Don’t wear “cute” clothes.  Or shoes that can’t be hosed off.  There is poop everywhere, so crocs or rain boots are best!What started out as a couple of curious foster bunnies exploring our playroom, turned into a summer adventure of farm experiences!Chickens love to be fed, but do not like to be caught.  Lincoln has no fear and continues to try to pick them up….they’ve learned to run away from him, but just can’t resist him when he’s got the feed tin!What started out as a couple of curious foster bunnies exploring our playroom, turned into a summer adventure of farm experiences!Although they are stinky, chickens can be beautiful!  And there is just nothing like fresh eggs for breakfast.What started out as a couple of curious foster bunnies exploring our playroom, turned into a summer adventure of farm experiences!The chicks and bunnies have helped the kiddos learn responsibility and gentleness.  I loved watching them interact with the animals, both at our house as well as down on the farm.  I’m just amazed at how comfortable they all are around 200 pound pigs and flocks of hungry chickens.  Nothing phases them!  And although we’ve returned the bunnies {who turned out to be escape artists who preferred to live in the dollhouse rather than their crate}, we’ve become regular fixtures on the farm!

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The Ballet Recital

Believe it or not, this blog started out as a teeny little website primarily to share pictures of my brand new baby, Jayna.  It was easier to post on a website than email pictures to our extended family, so it worked well.  And now, thanks to your shares and word of mouth, I have over 1,000 “fans” on Facebook and have about 20,000 visits to my blog each month.  These numbers help sponsors find me, so I can make a little money, try some new products {and report back to you}, and have allowed me to contribute to over 15 different publications and blogging networks.  Every time you visit my website, you are helping to support my family…thank you!

But, today, I’m going back to the basics to brag on my Middle Little a bit.  She has been taking ballet and tap since January with some friends from the neighborhood and from school.  And now, in her spare time, she plies and leaps and twirls in front of any reflective surface!

Can you see Millie?  She is second from the right.

Her recital was a typical 2 hour dance company recital…a showcase for all the different classes, plus a few solo acts form the older ballerinas.  The little ones were so cute and terrible at the same time…always a couple of tots who were on the money with their routine; a few who just stood there and cried; and then the majority, who were a few beats behind with their moves…or just doing their own thing altogether.A little stage makeup and a tutu makes for a sassy ballerina at the ballet recital!Apparently mascara and a little bit of lip gloss cures any hint of stage fright….in fact, it adds an element of sass! {as if she needed any more!}Mama her her little ballerina after the ballet recital.Jayna sang along with the lyrical music, while Lincoln was mesmerized by the pretty ballerinas everywhere…he literally watched {and often imitated!} the entire performance!  It was a long show, but they both did great.She was so happy that SueSue was able to come to her ballet recital!She was so happy that MomMom was able to come to her ballet recital!And luckily, both grandmas were there to corral the Littles in the few moments of boredom.  And Millie was just thrilled to have a whole entourage accompanying her to the show!Silly ballerinas shine after their ballet recital!And after her few minutes of delicate dancing in her elegant costume….she was right back to her silly self!

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Sunday Scripture: Marriage

Happy Sunday!  We are enjoying some family time this weekend in Atlanta at a cousin’s wedding.  It’s been awhile since we’ve been to a wedding, but I just love them….brings me back to my wedding planning days.  And listening to the newlyweds repeating their vows just reminds me how much I love my husband, and our little life together.

And it just so happens that our church’s memory verse for the sermon series is Ecclesiastes 4:9…which literally ties into today’s Sunday Scripture:

“Two people are better than one.  They can help each other in everything they do…And a rope made out of three cords isn’t easily broken.” -Ecclesiastes 4:9, 12b NIRVSunday Scripture: Marriage, Ecclesiastes 4:9, 12b #faith #SundayScripture #BibleVerses #marriage #weddingscripture

I found this Unity Braid Shadow box from BCPlaxidermy on Etsy, and thought it would be a great image for this week’s Sunday Scripture.  I’d love to have this in my house….it’s a great reminder of the strength of a God-centered marriage.  Check out the link above to see more details about it.

Have a blessed week!

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A Garden Story: Part 2

The first days of summer vacation are here and we are up to our ears in greenery.  We have been working hard in our luscious garden along with Rita from Rita’s Roots, and it’s completely flourishing.  We have already reached the end of our first spring harvest.  And let me tell you, our 12 tiny little lettuce plants have produces beautiful salads for us about three times a week.  We have more lettuce than we know what to do with….giving it away to neighbors and friends weekly!  And just think…the bunnies have eaten half of it!A Garden Story: Part Two.....okra and tomatoes and cukes, oh my!Next to bloom is tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and okra…and we’ll be planting some sweet potatoes this week.  We have three different kinds of Basil {sweet, cinnamon, and lemon}…with the purple being the prettiest!A Garden Story: Part Two.....okra and tomatoes and cukes, oh my!And see those big leaves in the left hand corner?  They are broccoli plants!  We’ve gotten some huge heads so far, and have found a few yummy and fast recipes for baked broccoli, that I’ll share with you soon.A Garden Story: Part Two.....okra and tomatoes and cukes, oh my! We’ve also added some cutting flowers in the corner, and marigolds to keep the bugs away from the tomatoes.  We are a little “arugula-ed” out, so the bunnies have been helping to keep those massive plants producing.  And way back in the right hand corner, our carrots are starting to sprout!I love how they created this small garden at the end of their backyard....shows ways to use every inch of space including planters boxes, vines and trellis.

Stay tuned for the next installment of our Garden Story!

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10 Ways to Tell if Your Neighborhood is Really a Village

 “It takes a village to raise a child.”

-African Proverb

It’s one of the most well-known quotes in the world.  The basic meaning is that child upbringing is a communal effort.  Everyone in the extended family, as well as in the wider physical community; is involved in the raising of the children, the tending of the land, and the overall health of the village.

Do you live in a “village?”  Many of us live in neighborhoods, but can we consider them our “village”?"It takes a village...." Everyone has good neighbors, but do you consider yours a village?Here are 10 ways to tell if the people in your neighborhood are really your village.

  1. They are the unofficial neighborhood watch.  They post on Facebook if there is a loose dog or a creepy truck hanging around.  They call and confirm with you when they see a random dude in a nondescript uniform walking around in the backyard.  They are keeping the whole village safe.
  2. They are your kids’ home away from home.  Your kids feel safe talking to and being around them.  You feel comfortable with your kids spending significant time in their homes.  Often they have similar rules to yours, and so you feel good about your kids being raised there for a couple of hours every day.
  3. Everyone’s alley, sidewalk, driveway and yard is fair game.  Because of #1 and #2, you know that someone always has eyes on the kids, and will have band aides or a bathroom available at any given moment.  And at the very least, they are willing to yell “CAR!!!!” as the children scramble to to sides of the alley, out of the way.
  4. They are your social life too!  Porch gatherings, block parties, game nights, pool days.  It’s nice to have other grown-ups to talk to…  We have even gone on vacation with some of our neighbors!!
  5. They take care of your “stuff.”  They bring you meals when you have a baby, mow your lawn when your hubby is out of town, chase after the trash that blew out of your overflowing trashcan, bring in your mail and water your garden when you are on vacation, and let your dog out when you are stuck in traffic.
  6. They are a portable grocery store.  Need a cup of sugar?  Next door.  Two aspirin?  Three doors down.  Three scoops of dog food?  Behind you.  An extra carseat for the day?  Across the street.  No sweat.
  7. They support you and your kids financially.  They are willing to take one for the team and buy 6 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies and 12 rolls of wrapping paper.  Not to mention, they will come to every.  single.  one.  of your Arbonne/Thirty-One Bags/Pampered Chef parties so you can get the free hostess gifts.  Provide mimosas and you’ll double the crowd!
  8. They yell at your kids.  They care about the well-being of your children enough to know when they need to be corrected.  And the relationship they have with you allows them to feel comfortable doing it.  And you are fine with it! {see #2}
  9. They don’t judge you.  They have seen you, your family, and your home, at your best and worst.  And they still love you.
  10. They trust you with their needs too.  You are more than willing to carpool, be an emergency contact or even an occasional babysitter, and you are happy to do #1-#7 for them too!  But just like them, you also are a shoulder to cry on and an ear to vent to.  After all, the health of the village is dependent on the health of the adults in it.

I am so very lucky to live and raise my kids in a fabulous village…how about you?

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Fearlessly Creative Mammas