Friday, August 7, 2020

Friday Favorites (Despite a Hard Week)

Happy Friday!  This week has been a l-o-n-g one over here.

I had surgery on Monday.  It was supposed to be a fairly simple procedure.  I woke up thinking all went well only to find out things were more complex than expected, the surgery didn't happen as planned and I was being referred to a specialist.  I was SO sad to find this out.  I was really anxious to have it done and behind me after over a year of keeping an eye on things.  I am hoping the specialist I see comes up with a fabulous game plan for me, but right now, I'm a little nervous about all of it. 

I am very thankful that I didn't have a bad reaction to anesthesia this time (remember how sick I was for hours after I had my C-section!?!) and I felt sore, but no nausea post surgery.  That was a huge blessing!  Now we're on to working with a specialist and scheduling another surgery.  I get to meet with him this afternoon.  I'm optimistic that he's the best and will know how to help me. 

I'd really appreciate your prayers for me and my family during this process.  I know many of you are moms or busy ladies who understand that it's really hard to be out of commission when so many people are depending on you.  I also have one black and blue arm from an IV gone wrong and two blood shot eyes.  I look like I've been through the wringer.  I'm a literal picture of the chaos of 2020 - ha!

I would have never dreamed 2020 would involve me having 3 surgeries.  I'm a healthy lady and had never had surgery before this year.  I hope one major take away from this year is how important it is to take care of myself.  I'm learning to advocate for myself, schedule regular well checks and make sure my health is top priority to ensure I'm able to take care of my family.

Like many of you, 2020 has been one full of challenges for our family. 

I would have never believed it if you would have told me that life would involve the words quarantine, social distancing, school shut downs, wearing masks and so much isolation due to Covid.  I'm still getting over Fletcher being attacked by a dog and dealing with scars (his) and emotional scars (the rest of the family).  I never would have guessed I would have to have a csection or have health issues to deal with that required surgery.  And who knew back to school decisions would be so stressful?  I think we have a solid game plan for Olive and Fletcher to return to school, but nothing feels easy right now.

Leo is BY FAR the biggest blessing of 2020, but honestly, I could have done without the rest of the trials.  I realize that life has been hard for everyone so I just want to send you a virtual hug today and to ensure you that you aren't the only one struggling this year.  Anyone else feeling this way about the year?  I'm hoping to push fast forward to the remaining months, find highlights along the way and focus on the positives.

I'm praying for God's protection and guidance as we navigate the days ahead.  I am also listening to Rend Collective's Song Counting Every Blessing on repeat.

I am counting every blessing, counting every blessing.
Letting go and trusting when I cannot see.
I am counting every blessing, counting every blessing.
Surely every season you are good to me.

Speaking of blessings and positives, let's see what the highs were from this week despite some major lows.

Ready for surgery on Monday.  Kevin has been working from home for months, but I appreciate him rearranging his schedule time and time again for me to make it to various dr appointments.  Can't wait to put all of this behind us. 

A care basket from a friend was such a thoughtful surprise.  Something for the kids, for me and for the whole family. 

These 3 cuties.  They're so sweet together and I'm really thankful for them.  They've learned how to give gentle hugs, learned to do some more things for themselves and have been perfectly happy with all of our low key days at home.

My parents came up to stay with the kids while I had surgery.  The kids loved having them here and my mom texted me this picture after they left.  It's pretty accurate - Leo constantly surrounded by the big kids.

Olive requests pumpkin chocolate chip cookies year round.  I made her wish come true this week and we enjoyed some pumpkin cookies.  Here's the link to The Best Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Thanks for listening to me ramble today.  And thanks for be here.  Wish I could give all of you a big squeeze today and say better days are ahead for all of us!! 

I've got an appointment with a specialist this afternoon and I'm praying he'll be confident in my treatment plan, case and surgery going forward.  I have no clue what that means for scheduling, blogging and real life.  So I'll be back to blogging whenever I can and would appreciate prayers in the meantime for a speedy recover.  Lots of love to you!

Linking up with Momfessionals

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Making Hello Fresh Work for a Family

We've been enjoying Hello Fresh meal deliveries for a couple of years now. 

They're delicious, challenge me to try new cooking techniques in the kitchen and are fun for this foodie.  They are definitely more work and make bigger messes than my go to recipes, but I love the variety they add to our meals.  They are a really fun splurge meal for us.  They're cheaper than getting take out or going out to dinner and getting a babysitter.  It's a fun service that my husband and I both love.

Our kids are growing and eating bigger meals every month.  We have always ordered the 2 person meals from Hello Fresh and can't quite justify the price of the 4 person dinner options.

I'm here to give you some tips and trick for stretching the 2 person meals to work for a larger family.  All of the meals I am showing you worked well for 2 adults and 2 kids under the age of 8.

Meal #1 Mexican Pork Street Tacos
These were delicious.  I rarely cook with ground pork and we loved these.  The lime crema was so good, too.  Be careful on the fresh jalapenos - they burned my hands taking out the seeds.  I love any recipe that calls for pickling onions or peppers.  It's a technique that we both love and one that I hope to incorporate in my day to day recipes.

There are 3 tacos per person.  It's easy to share or to add chips and salsa.  Our kids opted not to share this one so I made them some frozen Taquitos instead.  We all shared chips and salsa and had similar things for dinner.

Meal #2 // Balsamic Fig Chicken
This was delicious.  We loved all the flavors and ingredients.

Tip: Add lots of veggies as sides to beef up you meal.  Also, the kids love to help wash, chop and season veggies for roasting.

Tip: Add a fun bread as a side.  These Brazi Bites from Sams are a favorite as well as a loaf of homemade sourdough bread.

Trick: We usually divide the meat into thirds - one third for each adult and then the kids split the other third.

Meal #3 // Brown Sugar Bourbon Steak
We really enjoyed this meal.  The pan sauce and cut of steak was really delicious.

Tip: To simplify and multiply this recipe, I opted to roast the potatoes with the brussles sprouts and add broccoli.  That way I was cooking all the veggies the same way giving me less dishes to mess with. 

Have you tried a meal delivery service for your family??  Would these tricks work for you?

Monday, August 3, 2020

Best Gift Wrap for $1

Do you shop at Dollar Tree?? 

I would say I go to my local store every 1-2 months.  My trips increase when we enter birthday season (my kids have March, April & May birthdays) or when the holidays come around.  I'm always surprised at the things I can find there.

My favorite finds are thank you notes, greeting cards, party supplies, holiday fun, fairy garden supplies, candy and wrapping paper.

Today I'm going to focus on wrapping paper.

You might be surprised at the adorable $1 options!!

I picked up these darling wrapping paper rolls for Olive's birthday.  Aren't they so cute?!?  I've used Dollar Tree wrapping paper for table runners and in place of a table cloth at events as well as using the paper to wrap gifts.  It's great and so affordable.  The paper is on the thin side so if you need really thick, durable paper, I would not recommend this. 

For my own kids, I love to buy these curly ribbon bow clusters and reuse them.  They're either $1 each or two for $1.  The kids do not notice that I reuse bows just enjoy the fun topper on their gifts.

Recently Dollar Tree added these guide lines to the back of their paper to make cutting the paper super simple.  It's a fun feature that used to only be reserved for higher end paper.

I asked my sister to join in the fun for this post.  She found some really sweet panda wrapping paper recently.  The pandas have glittery features and it looks like really fancy paper. 

Isn't it so cute!?!  Along with her cute girls ready to go to a birthday party.

Have you purchased Dollar Tree wrapping paper before?

Friday, July 31, 2020

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday!!  I hope you've had a wonderful week.  It's hard for me to believe it's August tomorrow.  June and July really flew by for our family.  I guess nice weather, sunshine, travel and fun times will make your days fly by. 

July was a good month.  The highs (below) out weighed the lows (Topher needed an emergency vet visit, lots of doctor appointments and uncertainties about the coming school year).

I'm thankful for these happy moments to add up to lots of favorites this month.

Have you entered my bloggy birthday giveaway yet!?!  Head to the bottom of this post to make sure and enter to win a $20 gift card to my favorite shop.

July Favorites:

I purchased this dress from Walmart - it's the Time & Tru line.  It comes in about 6 different colors and it's just $13.88!!  It's so cute and comfy.  It is definitely a favorite dress for Summer.  My sister and I would highly recommend it - I convinced her she needed to give it a try!  We each have it in a couple of different colors.  It's out of stock online so check your local Walmart.

My sister and her crew came to visit this week.  The kids had a blast playing and crafting.  The sisters had fun catching up.

I picked up THE cutest shirts for Fletcher for back to school.  He's heading off to PreK in September.  Can you guess where I found them???  Wal-Mart!!  They were just under $6 each and the mixed patterns/colors are so cute.  He loves them.

Crayola came out with some really great crayons.  This Colors of the world set is such a fun addition to any art set.  My kids are really excited to have so many different skin colors to use when they're doing art.  I found these at Walmart in the school supply section.

Cute bibs are my favorite.  Leo is drooling a lot and needing a bib most of the time.  He's also sprouted eyebrows, eye lashes and more hair this week!  Looks like he might have brown hair like the rest of us (minus Fletcher).

We did some of our favorites this week - movie night, snuggles, lots of pjs and popcorn.  2020 has been a crazy year, but I hope images like this one are the ones that always stay with me.  3 kids loving all this extra time together.

Movie night:

First thing in the morning.  The big kids wake up first and cannot wait for Leo to join them.  It's the sweetest thing.

We surprised Kevin and made him brownies.  They're his favorite.

Have you ever tried these Brazi Bites from Sams!?!?  They're SO GOOD!  I love to make a few to go along with salads, dinner or for lunch.  The adults love them at our house and the kids don't.  That makes them the perfect treat :)

We've been getting back to one of our favorite things - Family walks!  The big kids fight over who can push Leo's stroller so we have to take turns.

Our favorite way to spend a hot day is at the pool!  They really love the pool for about 2 hours at a time.  It's the perfect amount and then we head home to take it easy.

I walked into the family room to see this adorable scene this week.  Olive said that Leo needed a back rub so she was taking him to the spa.  I can't get over how big he's looking!

Leo has been eager to sit up, but can't do that on his own yet.  We got out this jumpy toy and it's definitely his favorite.  It's so sweet to watch him play in it.

My Limelight Hydrangeas and Butterfly Bushes are my favorite!  They both look so pretty right now.  We've also been excited to see the butterflies arriving.

My blog turned 9 this month - have you entered my giveaway yet??  The prize really is perfect for anyone.  A winner will be chosen on Sunday.  Enter the giveaway here!

Linking up with Momfessionals

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

9th Bloggy Birthday // Giveaway!!!

9 years.

That's how long I've been showing up to write blog posts each week.

All of our highs and lows from the last 9 years are here.  Polka-Dotty Place been the best digital scrapbook, milestone marker and creative outlet for me.  I've loved every year of blogging.  After all these years, I still look forward to showing up here to share my stories.  I always promised myself that I'd quit blogging if it wasn't fun.  Good news!  I still love it and have some fun things in store for you!

The very best part of blogging for me is all of the friends I've made.

Some readers have become the sweetest friends.  We exchange texts, Christmas cards, read each other's blogs and stay connected.  Some of you started reading when I was a teacher living in Utah with only cats for kids.  Some of you joined along as our family started growing.  Maybe we were living in Arkansas or Mississippi when you started reading?

Regardless of when you started, THANK YOU for showing up here to read my blog.  I am so appreciative of the friends and family who read my blog each week.  It makes my day when someone says...

I loved this recipe you shared and made it for my family this week.

Your tips really helped me.

Thank you for that fun idea to do with my kids.

I could really relate to your post today.

You guys are the best!!

As a thank you for reading my blog, I'm partnering up with my favorite earring lady Amber from ADV Designs this week!  She's offering all of you a discount code WHITNEY20 for 20% off your order.  She added some of her new designs to my latest order for me to help promote them. 

She has some really fabulous new earring styles in her shop right now.  You know that I LOVE LOVE LOVE her leather earrings.  They're the lightest, cutest statement earring out there.  They are so affordable. Stock up now and get some for teacher gifts when school starts.  She's got a pattern and style for every woman.  Trust me.

Look at some of her fabulous earrings and bracelets.  There's everything from animal print, to dainty bead earrings to bold color bracelets.  I love it all!

In addition to the discount code, I'm doing a bloggy birthday GIVEAWAY!

I'm giving away at $20 gift card to ADV Design's etsy shop!!  The winner will be emailed the gift card.

Comment below telling me
1. the blog posts you enjoy reading most and
2. earn a bonus entry for telling me some posts you'd like to see in the future.

A winner will be chosen Sunday, August 2nd and notified by email.  Make sure to leave your email in your comment so I can notify you :)

Good luck!!

*************Giveaway Closed!  Congrats, Jamie!

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

10 Road Trip Tips for Summer 2020

Many of you still have a few weeks of Summer left before school starts and I wanted to encourage you that taking road trip during these crazy times is still very doable.  I promise!  Read on to see how we stayed healthy while traveling back in June.

Last month we went on a fun adventure.  We drove from Indiana to Southern Florida.  It was 18ish hours each way and we really enjoyed it.  Seriously, we all had a good time.  We modified things to make it work with covid and I wanted to share all about it.  Some of these things we'd do normally and some are new things we tried this year - like #1, 3, 5 and 7.   I am hoping it'll encourage you to go on adventure with your family :)

1. Drive at Night
We put the kids in their pjs and headed out.  Kevin slept during the afternoon and then drove all night.  This was a huge help because Fletcher gets really car sick and we got a huge chunk of the drive done from 8pm-8am.  I took over driving for a few hours.  This really limited the stops we had to make and we'd do it again in a heart beat.  This was our first time trying it and it couldn't have gone better.

2. Take Longer Pit Stops
We'd stop to feed the baby, get out and stretch our legs, get gas, etc.  We only went into gas stations to use the restroom and packed most of our meals and snacks.  We cleaned out the trash at each stop, made sure everyone got fresh air and took our time.

3. Snacky Meals for the Win.
This charcuterie board plate was a big hit.  I chopped fruits and veggies before our trip so they were easy to grab on the go.  I bought salami, pepperoni, salty crackers/chips and presliced cheeses.  I kept it all in a little cooler.

We'd get gas, eat in the car, use the restroom and get back on the road.

All of our stops included baby snuggles, quickly nursing and eating on the go.

4. Surprise Your Kids with a Surprise.
We let our kids go into gas stations to use the restroom and then we surprised them by letting them pick out a souvenir.  My husband or I did all of the touching of merchandise to keep the kids to a hands free shopping experience.  They were thrilled and such good little travelers.  I had fun things for them in the car - candy, activities, a new DVD to watch, etc.  But there is something special about getting to choose a souvenir of your own.

5. Car Sick Bags
If you're driving through the mountains or have anyone that gets car sick, these are a must have.  You can read all about them in this post (6 Amazon Summer Favorites).  My car will always be stocked with these.  They make car sickness mess free and really easy to deal with.

 6. Grown Up Essentials
Coffee, trail mix, candy and a Spotify playlist or two.  A beautiful sunset doesn't hurt either.

7. Drive Thru Meals
When we did eat out, we'd swing through a drive through.  Freddy's was my favorite, but any drive through will do.

8. Bring Along the Baby Gear
A major perk of traveling with a baby by car is that you can pack your favorite baby gear.  Our Boppy seat, play mat and bassinet were essentials.

9. Grocery Pick Up or One Designated Shopper
We opted to shop at the closest grocery store and have my husband do all the shopping once we arrived at our destination.  We were able to eat healthier and have lots of meals at the condo.  Grocery pick up would have been nice, but it wasn't easily accessible.

10. Relax and Be Flexible.
Our stops took longer than we would have liked (even without going into stores and restaurants).  But the fresh air, snuggles and smiles were all worth busting the schedule.  I even hopped into the second row seat for some of the trip so I could sit by the boys.  Leo was thrilled.  And so was Kevin since it meant happy kids and less stops :)

Where would you love to road trip to in the remaining weeks of Summer??