Friday, June 23, 2017

The Best Parts

We've had a busy week full of fun things at our house!  We kicked off the good times with Father's Day, had friends over, took a quick road trip and enjoyed all things summery this week.  

Here are the best parts:

// 1 //
One of my summer projects was to learn how to braid my own hair.  Thanks to several youtube videos and practice my skills are improving.  

// 2 //
Speaking of skills that are improving... Fletcher's climbing skills are a little too good.  I found him hanging out on the couch this week and he's the master of figuring out how to get where he wants.  I found him standing on top of our picnic table and spend my days saving him from himself.

// 3 //
Once the kids were in bed Kevin headed to McDonalds to grab us sundaes.  It was a yummy treat.  It was nice to enjoy it and catch up on our days.

// 4 //
I whipped up a batch of this chunky salsa and we've been enjoying it all week.  We've dipped chips in it, put it on tacos and made Mexican pizzas with it.  It's delicious and SO COLORFUL!

// 5 //
These two love helping me in the kitchen and they especially love the taste testing part.  We made some chocolate chip cookies for our neighbors this week and they loved eating some dough.  I posted a cute video on instagram of them baking with me (@polkadottyplace)

// 6 //
We ate Kevin's favorite foods, did his favorite things and enjoyed a fun time with him for Father's Day.  He requested watching the US Open and relax on Sunday and that is just what we did.  Fletcher thought it was super interesting.  He kept pointing and saying What's that???  

// 7 //
Kevin taught Olive how to catch lightning bugs this week and she's obsessed.  Our backyard is FULL of lighting bugs for about 20 minutes at dusk so it's the perfect summer night game.  She's gotten really good at it :)

 // 8 //
Justine from Full Hands Full Heart and I have been bloggy friends for a couple of years now.  She's darling, has the best Wal-Mart and Aldi shopping tips and she keeps things real being a mom to five cute kiddos.  We planned a meet up in her town, had to reschedule a time or two and finally got to meet up this week!!  It was so much fun!!  Her kids are darling and my kids had the best time playing with them.  This splash park was so neat.  It made me wish we had one in our city.  

We are having the best summer!!!

Hope you had a great week :)

Linking up with

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Stars and Stripes

The 4th of July is less than 2 week away and I'm so excited!  I love decorating for it - you can head over to instagram to see some of my red, white and blue decor @polkadottyplace - and I love preparing festive food for the holiday.  I thought I'd share some of my favorite foods for years past along with a link to my pinterest board full of ideas for the 4th.

Are you hosting or going to a fun party on the 4th?  I think we'll have a low key day with our family and do some little fireworks.  My kids are still too little to stay up for fireworks so we'll have to save that to look forward to in a few years.  I'm still hoping to do a patriotic craft with my kids, but I haven't gotten around to it yet.

Prepare for some delicious RED, WHITE & BLUE foods:

We had mini apple pies one year to celebrate the 4th and they were so cute!  Everyone loved getting their own pie.  You can find the details here.

Monster cookies are a huge favorite at my house and they're so easy to make for any holiday.  Just switch up your m&m colors and they're the perfect treat to take to a gathering.  You can find the recipe here.

I'm not a huge fan of scones, but these were delicious.  I loved the berry flavor and the berry icing.  I'd definitely love to make these again soon.  You can find the recipe here.

Dip all the things in white chocolate, add some sprinkles and you're set!

Fruit is so delicious this time of year so even if you don't want to spend a lot of time baking, you can still make some a festive fruit salad.  I just used mini cookie cutters to make my fruit salad.

A friend told me that she made this recipe twice this month and it was a huge hit everywhere she went!  You can find the recipe here.

Add sprinkles to your favorite cake!  Pick up some patriotic Funfetti in the stores for an easy dessert option.

It's always fun to do crafty projects with kids for the holidays.  Last year we painted some fireworks using bundles of straws and then did a hand & foot print flag.  I love decorating my house with their art each year.  Here's a little throwback picture of the kids from last year :)

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Daniel Tiger is an Excellent Teacher

My daughter has LOVED Daniel Tiger since she was a baby.  She adores his show, his songs and his lessons.  I have never felt bad for letting her watch his shows.  She has watched him almost every day since she was little.  I know some people are anti TV or really strict with their TV watching.  I feel like there is a time and place for PBS, cartoons or TV for kids.  I grew up watching and loving Mr. Roger's Neighborhood so it's fun to see that show get a revamp to be Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood.

Daniel Tiger teaches such great lessons with catchy songs to go along with them.  The cartoon is not annoying, the characters are relateable and I'll be sad when the day comes that Olive outgrows Daniel.  We rounded up her favorite Daniel toys above and most are from Target.  They've all been really well loved.

She imitates Daniel Tiger, sings his songs and has now begun to apply his songs to her real life situations.  That transfer of learning is amazing!  She takes to heart the lessons that she sees on TV and is better off for them.  I loved the article that I read recently about the kids who watch Daniel Tiger learn a variety of social skills that are great for a developing child.  Fascinating read promoting Daniel Tiger.

Here are the catchy tunes I've caught Olive singing when Daniel Tiger is no where to be seen:

1. You've got to try new things 'cause they might taste good.
This one comes up at meal time

2. Try try try try it again
She uses this one a lot when she's trying to build or making things.

3. Grown ups come back
We talk about this one when she's getting dropped off somewhere.

4. Thank you for everything you do
She sings things as her thank you regularly.

5. It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood.
As we're walking through our neighborhood she'll sing thing.

6. Close your eyes and think of something happy.
She says things when she's scared and the other day she told me she thinks of me when she closes her eyes because I'm her something happy :)  Made my day!

7. Stop and listen to stay safe
We were waiting for our walk signal when we were downtown one day and she sings me this tune.

8. If you have to go potty stop and go right away
She still sings this regularly when she has to go to the bathroom.

9. When you're sick rest is best
Anytime someone is sick

10. Take care of you makes me happy, too
Anytime she's helping take care of me or her little brother

11. When you get hurt find a grown up to help you feel better
She sings things anytime she gets hurt

12. There are so many feelings for you to feel.
This comes up anytime big feelings come up.

(And she sings all of these tunes in the right situations!!)

It really is amazing how many things she's learned from Daniel Tiger's show.  The lessons Daniel and friends teach really stick with the kids.  We have lots of conversations after the shows processing the information together.  I really love their episodes on adding a new baby to the family, sharing, potty training, getting sick, school, taking turns, making friends, etc.  The episodes are super relatable for preschoolers and they are packed with good information.  We've been watching the school episodes and talking about going to school in the Fall.

Do your kids watch Daniel Tiger?

Olive's current favorite shows:
Daniel Tiger
Paw Patrol
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
Little Einsteins

What do your kids love to watch??

It's time to link up with my favorite Tuesday Talk ladies.
Be sure to join us with your best post of the week.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Marriage Matters

Happy Monday, friends!  Hope you had a great Father's Day weekend celebrating those special guys in your life.  We did lots of fun things for Kevin and were excited to celebrate him.  I thought I'd share some of the ways we've been working on our marriage to let each other know they're important, they are a priority and time together is special.  It's takes effort on both of our parts to make these little things happen, but seeing your spouse feel loved, appreciated and special makes it all worth it.

I saw this idea from another blogger and knew I had to copy it.  They make time for a sweet treat together after their kids to go bed.  We don't do this every night, but I've been trying to do it several times a week.  I will bake something, pick up something at the store or we'll have a little ice cream together.  We catch up on each other's days, talk about the highs and lows of our days and just enjoy a little bit of peace and quiet.  My Meijer store has the yummiest prepared desserts and they come in packages of 1-2 slices.  So I picked up this brownie cheesecake on markdown to surprise Kevin with one day.  He loved it and appreciated that I'd planned something fun for him.  

I love potted plants and planting our landscaping.  Kevin loves the way it looks, but knows it's a lot of work to make it happen.  So for Mother's Day we went to Lowes a couple of times to pick out flowers, soil, etc to do some planting.  The kids helped and now we've got the prettiest pots on our porch, deck and our landscaping is coming together nicely.

I planned a surprise date night from start to finish when Kevin's semester was over.  I did it all in secret and then texted him an invitation the afternoon of.  He was SO SURPRISED!  I never do things like this so it was a great reminder of how much he appreciates things like this.  We dressed up a bit, left the kids with our favorite babysitter and headed to a fancy restaurant for dinner.  We took our time, enjoyed all the courses of food - drinks, apps, salads, bread and shared the main course.  It was so much fun :)  It did feel slightly strange to be at a nice restaurant, eating quietly and not having to share or worry about the kids making a mess.

The food was AMAZING - lemon, blueberry acai mule, crab cake, bread, feta salad, steak and sides.  I think this place might end up being our go to fancy date night spot!

We headed to a local spot to split some fro-yo.  It was delicious and I think we'll bring the kids with us next time.

Kevin isn't super crafty, but he knows that I appreciate a good craft.  So every year for Mother's Day he helps the kids stamp their hands in my card.  It's so sweet and I just love it.  I also know how hard it is to stamp hands so I avoid doing it with little kids :)

A few other things we've been doing together:

The kids are happy to ride in the stroller as long as we have snacks so it gives us an opportunity to catch up on our days.

The kids play and we grab a drink to sip while they are busy.

Kevin loves to grill.  He's good at it and knows that it makes dinner so much easier for me if he does the main course.  We had these delicious grilled chicken tacos recently and they were so good!  Teamwork on dinner really does make everything go faster.

Kevin stopped at the store and picked up some surprise treats for us to enjoy one night after the kids went to bed.  We'd planned to watch a movie so he figured popcorn would be a perfect treat.  Never mind the fact that the Jiffy Pop was a flop and it all burned to a crisp.  Sometimes things don't go as planned, but I really appreciated his thoughtfulness.  So we ended up eating ice cream instead.  Worked out just fine and we still had a great time. 

What fun things have you been doing with your spouse lately??

Friday, June 16, 2017

One Year Studio Pics

We had Fletcher's one year pictures taken shortly after he turned one, but I realized I never shared them on the blog.  He was so smiley and sweet for his pictures.  Olive wanted to join in the fun so it was nice to get a few sibling pictures.  I thought I'd share my favorites with you today.  I'm hoping to frame a picture of both Olive and Fletcher at one year old.

We are getting family pictures taken this Fall and I'm looking forward to those.  I love getting professional pictures taken and am excited to get some canvas prints made to hang in our house.  How often do you do pictures with your kids or your whole family?  I'm always curious how people do pictures with their family.

 My favorite:

 My other favorite:

Olive insisted on doing a few pictures with the Spring props in the studio :)

Olive's 1 year old photo shoot in Arkansas

Professional pictures are definitely an investment, take time to plan out and schedule and are a lot of work to pull off.  However, they are always worth it.  I never regret having them taken even if they seem a little chaotic in the moment.