Valentines Day Fun

Well hello February. I’ve found several awesome ideas for Valentines. Maybe it’s because this is the last year of elementary school for my youngest but I am feeling super nostalgic. I really want to soak up this last bit of parties. This is a holiday that I try and make extra special. I don’t typically do the store bought cards but instead I find something fun via the web (hello Pinterest). There are so many fabulous ideas – some food related, some not. I also found some fun decor. Read on for my favorite 5 treats to share and decorations that inspire.

Creations by Kara is offering up laughs with this fun Valentine.

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Catch my Party created these ‘smart’ Valentines.

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My Name is Snickerdoodle came up with this Kool idea.

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It’s Always Autumn used Starbursts in her Valentines. This one is on my ‘make’ list for sure.

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These sweet heart magnets over at The Connections We Share are a sweet, non foodie treat.

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Now moving on to my 5 fave decor ideas.

I am loving this little tree of hearts over at Simply + Kierste.

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If you follow me then you know that I am a HUGE fan of printables. I love this one at The Cake Blog.

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DIY Beautify created this sweet heart pallet board.

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Lux and Lace shared this neutral burlap LOVE pennant.

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This heart shaped wreath over at Bower Power Blog is unique. I love how they used grey yarn instead of pink, red or white which are so traditional in Valentines decor.

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I hope you enjoyed some of my favorite Valentines finds. If you’d like to see all of the LOVEly things I’ve pinned for this super sweet holiday, click here and you can visit my Valentines Pinterest Board. I hope your February is sweet.

Summer Fun

I decided to do a little searching for some creative summer fun ideas. Ya’ll know where I went first, right? Yep to my Summer Board over at Pinterest. My boys are getting big. One is 11 {going on 13} and the other is 9. They are all about being social. They would be happy just playing XBox and swimming all summer long with their friends. I should mention that we don’t have a pool. Thank goodness for amazing neighbors who fill this void. In my little Pinterest ‘hunt’ I found some stuff that just screams summer. Freebies, party ideas, bucket lists …

I love this idea of hosting a Sidewalk Chalk Festival over at My Kids Eat Off the Floor {formally June Bug Parties}. What a great idea to entertain the kiddos while the adults mingle and perhaps have some cocktails? 😉

invitationSew Home Grown created this fun printable. Wouldn’t it look great framed on a mantel with some fun summer accessories?

summerprintableI am a sucker for all things chalkboard related so this sign from Scrapping with Liz jumped out at me instantly. It’s a bucket list created on a chalkboard. Swoon.

swl_bucketlist_digitalscrapbook3Its a Lovely Life shares some sweet popsicle recipes. I think these are on my bucket list for tomorrow.

PopsiclesI’ve always wanted to host an outside movie night for the kids and their friends. Prairie Hive shared their version of a movie night complete with cute decor.

UnknownDo you have any fun and fabulous Summer plans? I’d love to hear them. Creative, fun, different .. feel free to share. Happy Summer friends!

 

 

 

Kindness Matters

Yes, once again it’s been awhile. I’ve given up on being consistent and will post as I find little windows of time. I’m working full time for the next 6 weeks so that means I won’t be on the old blog much but I had some stuff that was on my mind as of late and thought I’d throw it out there. I truly love writing and finding fabulous things to share with my readers but time really does get away from me.

This is a little hodge podge but all really comes back to one thing, how we treat one another. Today I heard a morning radio show promoting an anti bullying campaign. I was in my car, on my way to work and I was completely sucked in. The conversations between the DJ’s and listeners calling in were eye opening. There are various opinions about who teaches children about being kind. It ultimately starts at home but one of the opinions is that schools should be more accountable and on top of students that bully. OK, so this is a tough one and it actually was a conversation that I had both on Facebook and also with the principal at my kids school a couple of weeks back after a few kids called my son ‘gay’. I expressed my irritation at this name on Facebook. Of course it sparked a huge conversation both on and off of Facebook (why I love Facebook, it can be a great place to ‘put it out there’). Several people suggested that I discuss it with the principal to which she (being my Facebook friend) spoke up and said that she makes it a point to discuss at monthly assemblies that bullying is not OK and will not be tolerated. I was able to catch up with her at school a couple of weeks later and we had a deeper discussion about it. In her eyes (and mine as well), being kind is not hard and something as simple as a compliment could make a persons day.

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Here is my take, it starts at home. Unfortunately some children are not taught the basics of  kindness and compassion. In which case the place where they spend most of their time could step it up a little. One suggestion was classes on anti bullying. We spend so much time teaching our kids science, math and history but so much of what they learn are lost along the way. I for one don’t recall the answers to many of the things that are on my kids tests and homework but do I know how to treat people? Yes. If I could send my children into the world with any skill what would it be? Not the ability to master chemistry but the ability to be kind and compassionate. The ability to connect with others. To be a friend. To make others feel special. To make others feel loved. To build relationships.

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So many thought provoking quotes come to mind,

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak but there echoes are truly endless” – Mother Teresa
“Your wealth or status doesn’t make you. Your kindness and character do” – Venkat Desireddy
“My religion is very simple. Kindness is my religion” – Dalai Lama
“Compassion is a verb” – Thich Nhat Hanh
“You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” – The Help
” If you can’t be kind, be quiet” – Unknown

On last nights Academy Awards, Frozen won for Best Original Song. Cause yeah, “Let it Go” has become the anthem for people everywhere, mostly woman it seems! In case you live in a  bubble (in my house it’s sung loudly over and over and over by my boys and myself), here is the official video for Let it Go. The writers, Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, gave a great acceptance speech but my favorite was the part dedicated to their daughters, “Never let fear or shame keep you from celebrating the unique people that you are.” What a powerful thing to say to your children. Let them be who they are. Let them own their uniqueness. So much of our society is busy keeping of with the Joneses (not the Kardashians). Trying to fit molds. Competing with one another. For what? Be you. Own who you are. All of you. The good, the bad and the ugly. Don’t try and be someone else.

We live in a day and age (I sound so old — I’m pushing 40 you know!) but seriously. Things have changed in a major way. Our kids don’t just use names to hurt one another but they also have other tools at our disposable. Things like technology and social media. So that means we have a bigger audience. Which is terrifying. My child was called gay and let it roll right off of him. Thankfully he has a strong sense of who he is and knows that so many people say things just to get under each others skin. THANK GOODNESS my child deals with things like he does. I hope he always does. So many kids don’t. They take it to heart, they hurt, they don’t know how  to cope. Sadly you hear of kids changing schools because of bullying, teenagers committing suicide. All for what? A lack of kindness and empathy? Something has to change.

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Spread kindness and love. It is contagious. I promise. Oh, and have a lovely day!

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Little Pieces of July

Something funny about me? I was born in July. However, I do not love summer. I love Fall. So why was I born in the summer? Why did I get married in the summer? Interesting uh? Well I can tell you this, since becoming a mama — I enjoy summer more. I feel like I am transported back to being a kid and feeling the freedoms of summer. When I was a kid, I was a lot more heat tolerant. Now a perfect summer day for me is 85 degrees. Yeah, that hot spell we had over the 4th of July? I was pretty much in a permanent bad mood all week. I tried to fake happy but I was melting on the inside and out. Yearning for a breeze, some fresh air that wasn’t coming out of an air conditioning vent and barely keeping the house tolerable. I won’t go on and on about how Fall is my favorite season. You can read all about that here and here. Before I get all lost in a season that hasn’t even arrived yet, let’s visit July. July was full of fun for our family. Day trips, birthdays, ice cream, July 4th, visits with family — it was an action packed month full of fun memories.

July 1 Collage

 

Some of my favorite parts of July 2013: Day trip to Silver Lake, Planning July 4th with my dear friend Stacie, celebrating my friend Kelly’s birthday {FYI: when the band doesn’t show, use a juke box to have a dance party and singalong}, kayaking with my family, Boeger Winery Sunset Sipping {Hangtown Cooler please!}, doing a little bedroom makeover for my littlest}, kids being creative with Legos, a day trip with my boys which included a hike, some lake time{and crawdad catching} and ice cream at Camp Richardson, back to school shopping, birthday creating and last but not least, celebrating Mason’s birthday on July 26th and wrapping the month up with my birthday which entailed a day trip to Sand Harbor.

I’d say by the looks of things, July was pretty awesome for us! Hope ya’all are enjoying the dog days of summer.

Parenting, My View from 10 Years in the field

My sis in law has made me an auntie to a super cute little guy. He turned 1 on March 10th and I have provided her ‘mommy advice’ since day one.  I don’t claim to be an expert by any means but I’ve been around the mommy block. Twice. Plus I have lots of mommy friends. I hear lots of stories, tips and insight. I take it all in. Because you never know what tricks other mommy’s have that could be the magic cure for your parenting er, situation.

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I love this sweet picture of my cute lil nephew.

I have two boys – they are polar opposites. The things they have in common:

  1. Same parents
  2. Daddy’s chin dimple
  3. Stubbornness
  4. The love of being in the water
  5. Sugar

I’m pretty certain that is it. They do not look alike. One is white blonde and fair and the other is dark blond and tans in two seconds. They have the most different personalities and likes. One likes to try new things and is quite the explorer, the other swears by carbs and meat and Legos and his iTouch. Seriously. Night and day is happening in my house.

 BrothersAren’t they cute?

What I’ve learned:

  • No two children are the same.
  • Parenting styles are different. That is OK.
  • It’s OK to ask for help. We are all human and parenting is a hard job. Period.
  • Be consistent. {The hardest thing but it really is worth the results!}
  • Love them.
  • Follow your gut.
  • Holding babies too much won’t spoil them. Plus it goes by fast. Enjoy those snuggles before they are are so big that carrying them kills your back. Trust me.
  • A good night of sleep makes all the difference in a good day or a bad day. Sleep train but use whatever method works for YOUR family.
  • No two parenting books are the same. Take what you can from them but they are not the Bible.
  • All babies start out with their own personalities. You will see that your parenting style will need to be tweaked with each child. My oldest requires me to be more firm and constant while my youngest is more sensitive so less firm works just fine.
  • Be honest. When they ask questions, give them answers. Again, they all process different so use words they will understand. Never shut down their curiosity. Communication is a door you will always want to leave open.
  • Give them freedom but also set limits. Tricky uh?
  • Love them even when they are naughty.
  • Teach them forgiveness.
  • Show them that even though people are different, we all deserve to be treated with love and respect.
  • Hug and kiss them every time you say goodbye and every night before bed.

I know the list can go on and on but these are some of my best bits and pieces. What parenting advice do you have to share? I’d love to hear it.

 

Mommy Nostalgia

First off, I have been feeling so nostalgic {ie — boo hoo} as of late. Another school year has wrapped up and that means that my babies are another year older. While I cherish what this age brings — freedom, independence and just new experiences, I miss the other ages and stages. Friends are telling me that it’s the elementary years and that junior high and high school are so different that becoming attached to teachers is not the norm. There is something about my son’s second grade teacher that just makes me sappy. My oldest had her and now my youngest. Both boys have named her as their favorite teacher and they have had several amazing teachers so this says a lot.

When I helped with Mason’s party the day before the last day of school, it was a constant tug at my heart. The kids playing field games {I was in charge of limbo but due to my ‘too tight jeans’ I thought it best I not attempt to limbo. I would have quite possibly traumatized the kids for life!} They had this sweet energy about them. Cheering each other on, giving high fives, being highly competitive — it was just fun! While the kids went to lunch the parents set up the sundae table. Well, most kids went to lunch. Mine was stuck to me like glue! Throughout the games, and ice cream set up, eating ice cream and then after. He was a bit of a mess. Not in tears but on the verge of when I was about to leave. So the teacher suggested I just check him out early so he could be with me. Well this mama had plans for that last hour of freedom {don’t judge ..} so I pulled him from school. We proceeded to run some errands and he was just my little buddy for that time. It was sweet and sentimental. He is my little boy. My love. And this is all going SO FAST!

 

boyartEtsy – Lacey Fields

The last day of school went something like this: me crying in the car on the way to school, me hugging boys on last day of school, me telling oldest child to have a great last day of 4th grade and letting him run to class solo {cause he likes to do that — I am only cool when I am at my car, not near the classroom}, saying hello to mama friends behind my sunglasses and attempting to not start the waterfall of tears, a few mamas ask how I’m doing and they can hear the warble in my voice and the tears start inching down my face, me walking into the 2nd grade classroom for the last time, I.can’t.keep.it.together!!! Major tears and the teacher is hugging me. One hug, two hugs, three hugs. I’m a mess, the kids are looking at me like I am crazy. Yes, I am THAT mom. At least that day I was. No worries, I own my ‘mess of emotions’. As I walked out of the classroom I held in the flood that was about to overcome me. I pulled myself together and walked away. A few moms wondered why second grade made me this way. I think it really is the teacher! That and I also feel like 3rd graders are more like ‘big kids’. Sigh. It flies by. Nothing makes time fly by like being a parent. I swear to this.

I use the word bittersweet often. The moments are sweet but the bitter creeps in cause those moments won’t happen again. I don’t know that I want to think of any part of these moments as bitter. Perhaps that takes away from the beauty of it all?

Anyway, I could go on and on and on … about how I feel and how nostalgia creeps in daily but I thought I’d leave you with this fabulous article that I stumbled upon last week. It showed up at just the right time for me.

 

Why I’m (Finally) Done with Nostalgia

By Katrina Kenison

I’ve sometimes wondered if I’ll spend the rest of my life missing my sons as the little boys they used to be.

Though it’s been years since I reminded anyone to look both ways, the sight of a mom crossing the street hand in hand with a little guy with sleep-tufted hair and rolled up jeans can still fill my eyes with tears.

Arriving at an elementary school to give a talk one morning not long ago, watching parents bending low to kiss their children good-bye, observing the sea of bobbing back-packs, the bright art on the walls, the exuberance of six-year-olds beginning their day, I was so overcome with emotion that I had to slip back out to my car for a few minutes to compose myself.

Still, standing up at the podium in that room full of young mothers, I wasn’t quite sure I could trust my voice.

“Do you know,” I wanted to say to them, “how quickly this will all be over? Do you realize how sweet and rich your lives are right now? How fleeting?”

Of course, this is what older people have been saying to younger ones since time began. And no one wants to hear it.

Busy, distracted, wondering how to transport the kids from point A to point B and pick up some food for dinner and get the homework done without too much of a fuss, an over-stretched, over-tired parent isn’t worrying about the end of childhood so much as how to survive the hours between 3:00 and bedtime.

I know that. I’ve been that mom, too.

But my sons are 23 and 20 now. It’s been a while since I had two boys living at home full time. And what I’m most aware of, looking back, is not how endlessly long those days could be, but how quickly the years flew by.

At times my nostalgia for our family life as it used to be -– for our own imperfect, cherished, irretrievable past –- is nearly overwhelming.

The life my husband and children and I had together, cast in the golden light of memory, seems unbearably precious; what lies ahead, darker and lonelier and less certain.

Adjusting to my new empty-nest reality, after over two decades of 24/7 mothering, has been a slow, bittersweet process.

Even as my days fill with new joys and occupations, I live in the shadow of that darker, lonelier future. With both sons grown and gone, I wonder if any as-yet-unwritten life chapter could ever feel quite as right, quite as challenging and fulfilling, as those years of intense, day-in-day-out togetherness.

It is such a raw, relentless business, motherhood.

How many times have I been brought to my knees by the sheer intimacy of tears and blood and poop, fevers and sweats and strange skin rashes, sibling battles and wild nightmares and crazy, irrational fears?

And then, within the same hour sometimes, I’d be lifted right up again, exalted and turned inside out by wild laughter or a whoop of glee, a whispered confession, a cuddle, an imponderable question, a kiss delivered to an elbow or a knee (why there?), some random joke without a punch-line that made us all giggle anyway.

When all that ended, when first one son and then the other had the audacity to grow up and leave, I was pretty sure our family life would never again be quite as good.

Last weekend, both boys were home. We didn’t have much of an agenda –- watching some basketball on TV, a couple of family dinners. The guys did laundry. I made chicken potpie from scratch.

On Sunday, between basketball games and my marathon in the kitchen, my husband, the boys and I took the dog for a walk, our favorite loop through the woods.

Gracie trotted ahead, glancing back every few steps as if she couldn’t quite believe her good fortune. For a border collie, heaven is having your entire herd in the same place at the same time: ideally, outdoors and sticking close together.

I knew how she felt. I was happy, too.

In fact, as we tramped along the path it suddenly occurred to me, for the very first time, that I wouldn’t turn the clock back now even if I could. Not for one hour, not for one day, or for one year or ten. Not for anything.

It hit me with the power of epiphany: this sudden, unexpected end to the nostalgic longing I’ve carried like a bruise on my heart for so long that I’ve nearly forgotten what true ease in the here and now feels like.

Who we are, what we are, where we are at this moment is different from what was, absolutely. But it is in no way less than.

And the surprising thing is: I wouldn’t trade our beautiful, complicated, ever shifting and fleeting present for any simpler golden-hued yesterday.

Instead, I’m struck with wonder at who we are right now: four still-growing human beings, each of us irrevocably, mysteriously connected. Each of us finding our own way in the world.

And at the same time, each of us gratefully returning to this hallowed place called home: this piece of earth, this house, this dinner table, this history, this tangled web of us-ness.

26 Random Acts of Kindness

Last Friday was a horrific day for a small little town called Newtown, Connecticut. It shook all of us. I still can not even fathom the grief these parents are feeling. Their children and family members killed in a senseless violent crime. I think all of us are just not able to wrap our heads around any of it. I don’t want to get on a soap box about mental illness, stricter gun laws and how much the media focuses on the killer. All of that has been swimming around in my head and I wish there was a solution to stop this kind of hurt from ever happening to another person EVER AGAIN. But, because we can only go forward  – I wanted to share this with all of you and see if you can spread some kindness? I saw a quote the other day while driving on the freeway, it said, “Kindness is contagious, catch it”.  It’s been on repeat in my head. If we could all practice kindness perhaps the world will breathe a little easier.

I know that as a parent I am constantly battling my kids. It’s things like them constantly wanting material things or fighting as siblings do. I am always trying to remind them to be kind and that they are so fortunate to have so many basics that others are lacking. I don’t feel that I spoil my children but a sense of entitlement comes from somewhere. I want to change that. I think this 26 Acts of Kindness will help plant some seeds of kindness. One of my oldest and dearest friends shared this idea with me and now I am passing it along to all of you {thanks Jenn — love you!!}

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Can you do 26 Random Acts of Kindness in memory of the 26 lives lost? Go here or here for some ideas. I’ve also read quite a few different opinions that there are only 26 acts and not 28. I feel that it is a personal and individual choice as to whether you honor the shooter and his mom, who are also both dead. A few people had suggested donating towards mental health services. Again, how you decide to proceed is a very personal choice.

As quickly as this can become a political & religious discussion, lets step away from that and do what we can to honor the sweet souls lost that day. Many of whom were the same age as my baby. Earlier this week I was able to be in the classroom helping to run his Christmas Party. Never have I felt so blessed to be in that classroom surrounded by sweet, smiling faces, an amazing teacher and adoring parents. What a gift.

Can you practice 26 Random Acts of Kindness? I bet you can 🙂 I know we will be starting tomorrow.

Kids Christmas Party

Wow — December slow it down! Between going back to work and just the normal holiday hustle and bustle, my blog is getting neglected. I’m missing it!! So hello friends — I hope everyone is enjoy the season and slowing down to make some amazing memories. We have watched a lot of holiday movies this week. I love the snuggle time.

By the way, where do people come from this time of year? It seems every road, parking lot and store is packed full of people. Then come January the world feels a lot quieter. It’s crazy! Six weeks of crazy I tell ya!

I love the kids parties at school. When the new school year rolls around and the sign ups come out I am all over it. This year I was able to sign up to run the Christmas party for my youngest and Valentine’s for my oldest. Christmas is around the corner so I have created a Pinterest Board to help compile fabulous crafty ideas. Some are arts and crafts and others are cute food ideas. Some of you might be planning holiday parties as well so I wanted to share some of my fun finds with you! I should mention that the other person helping me run this pretty much said she didn’t have ideas and would love to hear mine. Um ok!! 😉 I can handle that! Here are a few fab crafty ideas that I am hoping to do this season — either in the classroom or out. Also, my son is in second grade so I am gearing it towards that age group.

 

  1. I love this Christmas cheese platter. It’s filled with tomatoes and cheese with pretzels as the stem. Of course you could serve more pretzels on the side.
  2. Of course snack time wouldn’t be complete without these sweet sandwiches.
  3. This idea for Grinch Floats using green {guessing lime} sherbet and sprite is so fun!! I can’t find the original source though — if you know of it, please do share. I’d like to give the credit where it belongs.
  4. These reindeer munchies are giving me the munchies!!
  5. Kids love cupcakes and these wreath cupcakes also have candy. Yum!
  6. I love this chocolate donut reindeer. They are simple yet so cute!

 

I love crafts. I think it is super sweet to make them nostalgic so little projects that involves handprints melt my heart. Kids grow so fast .

  1. These cute reindeer handprints are on the top of my to do list..
  2. If you have some scraps of fabric {I do!}, just add cinnamon sticks and you have these cute lil’ trees. Plus they will smell yummy!
  3. Another great craft using up old fabric or even some ribbon are these snowman clothespins. You could add a magnet to the back to make it easy to display {and hold stuff like letters from Santa or Christmas Lists!}
  4. I love these beautiful swirled paint ornaments. I happened to pick up some glass bulbs at a great price at Michaels last week. Just in case it’s a project we decide to do.
  5. For something pretty easy and with very little supplies needed, how about a pom pom pinecone? All of a sudden you’ve created a mini tree
  6. Reindeer Food is a must in our house. I adore these sweet little tags to go along with them. Hint: These also make fun gifts for the neighborhood kiddies!

If you are on Pinterest, pop on over and check out my Kids Christmas Party board. I have a whole bunch of other goodies on there that I didn’t share in this post.

Do you have any must do crafts for the season? How about must eat treats? I’d love to hear about them 🙂