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.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

I Struggle...

I loved the prompt from Momfessionals this week called I Struggle... I am looking forward to reading all of the things that people write about.  I'm sure there are plenty of silly things along with serious things that people are struggling with.  I think it's a good reminder that everyone struggles with something.  So here are the things I'm currently struggling with:

I struggle with going to bed before 1am every single day.  I just get so much done from 10pm-1am that it's hard to stop and go to bed.  Then every morning around 7:30am I am wishing I would have gone to bed a little earlier.  Is it silly that I am proud of myself for getting in bed closet to midnight??

I struggle with 4 year old bedtime.  Fletcher goes to bed EASILY at about 8:15pm every night.  Olive takes an HOUR+ to go to bed lately.  It's like a three ring circus to get her to stay in bed with potty, drinks, stories, etc.  I know she's tired and we've seriously tried all the combinations/routines without any great success.  I;m sure it's just a phase, but go to sleep already sweet girl!

I struggle with wanting a new screen protector on my phone, but not wanting to spend $40 to get one.

I struggle with making new friends.  We've moved SO MUCH in the past 5 years that it's hard to make and keep good friends.  4 states in 5 years will do that to you.  I try really hard to make plans, schedule things and plan outings with friends, but sometimes I just want to stay home and hang out with zero pressure to be friendly/outgoing.  Honestly, we have made some really sweet friends in our city so that motivates me to keep working on it, but it is definitely something that I work on every single day.  I gave my phone number to a mom at swimming lessons last week because we had a really nice time talking.  I had to give myself a serious pep talk to do it, but I'm hoping it'll be a fun friend to get to know.  Anyone else have this problem??

I struggle with night time snacking!  I've been doing so good drinking TONS of water, eating healthy all day long, but when the sun goes down I get so munchy!  I've just had to STOP buying my favorite candy or sweet treats to ensure that I don't stuff my face at night.

I struggle with frizzy hair.  I've be working on finding a good summer/humidity proof routine and hoping it'll get me through the hot months.  I've also been working on learning to braid my own hair so here's to hoping for some cute, non frizzy hair this summer.

I struggle with finding a church home.  We are back at our church search in our city and we've found a church that we think is pretty promising.  We've gone a few weekends in a row and enjoyed it.  However, both kids are struggling with their kid classes.  Fletcher loses his mind at the sight of the nursery which isn't all that surprising since he basically does the same thing when I leave the room anytime.  Olive loves her class, is learning a ton, but she struggles with being on her own surrounded by kids and adults she doesn't know.  I don't really blame her, but I'm hoping that we can push through to get both kids to the point where they enjoy going to their own classes at church.  Sunday mornings aren't easy right now.

I struggle with growing my nails.  My hair grows super fast, but my nails are always short.

I struggle with taking tons of pictures and then they all just sit in computer files.  I don't have a great printing routine and tend to just print on an as needed basis.  I've been meaning to print some chat books, have been meaning to delete pictures that I don't want to save forever from my computer, etc.  At least I've always been good about blogging the special moments of our life since 2011.

I struggle with hanging anything on the wall straight.  I don't like to measure, don't have a great eye to eyeball things and usually end up knocking 6 holes in the wall to get something right.  So I've been leaving all the hanging of things up to my husband lately.

I struggle to finish books that don't catch my attention right away.  For example:

I loved the idea of the book Creative Calm in the Center of Crazy by Nicole Johnson.  It seems like everyone would benefit from more calming in their days.  I was disappointed in the slow start to the book.  I struggled to relate to Part one of the book where Johnson was detailing her story without giving many details and it was very slow to wade through.  Part two was more interesting and applicable giving ideas for actually creating calm in your own life.  Part three was definitely the best part of the book!  I really enjoyed it and wished there would have been much more written on the boundaries, keys and calm sections.  These pages were filled with interested research, quotes and tons of helpful application to real life.  I loved her thoughts on boundaries with technology, getting your entire family on board with creating calm and setting yourself up for a life filled with being in the moment, gratitude and calm.  I'd recommend this book, but be sure to tell the reader that the best content is at the end of the book.
*I was gifted this book from Booklook in exchange for my honest review of it.

What are you struggling with these days?
Can you relate to any of mine??

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Wal-Mart Haul

Wal-Mart has some really great stuff right now.  Tons of plants, summer staples, birthday party supplies, home decor and more.  There are so many cute things and the prices are great.  I thought I'd share a Wal-Mart haul with you today.  I know that not everyone is a big fan of Wal-Mart so I hope you can get excited about the things I'm showing you.  You may be surprised at the cute things they're carrying these days.

I went to snap this picture and Olive said - I'll hold his hand :) #bffs

These little watering cans are perfect for kids!  They are easy to tote around when they are full of water.  They also have a small spout so the water comes out slowly and they're $2.49 each!  Best $5 I've spent in a while.  The kids have loved helping water our flowers and I anticipate them turning into the cutest little gardeners this summer.  Olive has finally gotten to the age where she knows we don't pick flowers from our flower pots.  Fletcher (aka Flower Destroyer) is still working on that skill.  He'll shout NO while picking the flower with a giant smile on his face.  We've still got some work to do.

I found the most gorgeous assortment of perennials this past weekend.  I also learned that I needed some help learning how to spell perennial.  haha  Anyways, I was on a mission to only plant perennials in my flower beds for now.  It just feels like a great investment in our home knowing they'll be there year after year.  These were all really good size 2.5 quart planters and I'm super optimistic that I can help them thrive in our yard.  My assortment ranged anywhere from $3/plant to $7.  A down side to buying flowers at a place like Wal-Mart is that the employees are not very helpful or knowledgeable about plans in my experience.  You're pretty much flying solo and on your own to read the labels.  I'm okay with that if it means I'm getting a great deal on plants.  Plus, I like picking out my own stuff.

I have been on the hunt for oval frames for several months.  They're harder to find that I imagined so when I saw these at Wal-Mart I had to have them.  Can you believe that they're only $4 each!!  I have a project in the works to do some silhouettes of the kids in them.  Stay tuned.

I like a lot of the kitchen line from The Pioneer Woman at Wal-Mart.  There are tons of cute things and only a few things that aren't really my style.  I picked up a new PW kitchen rug recently.  They're regularly around $20 and this one was on clearance for $12.  So be sure to keep an eye out for Pioneer Woman stuff in the clearance section!  The colors are really pretty and the quality seems great.  I'm hard on kitchen rugs with all the cooking I do so I like to find great deals on them since they don't last forever.

I purchased this set of two metal stools several months ago and I use them all the time!  Reservation Seating Stool 2 Pack for $45.  They're really affordable and I love that they come in a set.  I went with the blue color to give our Better Homes & Gardens kid table some extra seating options when we have friends over.  They're sturdy enough for kids or adults, I love the handle to grab them with and are perfect stools for the bathroom, kitchen or your kid table.

Tell me what you've found at Wal-Mart lately!!

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Be sure to join us with a current post.