Friday, May 17, 2019

The Best Parts

Happy Friday!  This week flew by for me.  The weather was great, we got a good mix of stuff done around the house and got to have fun with friends.  It makes me excited for Summer.  Olive's class got to introduce the weather on the nightly news.  It was so cute to see her and her friends on the news!

Now on to the best parts of the week.

Chocolate Dipped Cookies!
I tried making these for the first time and I'm hooked.  I want to dip all cookies in chocolate now.  I made these Butterfinger Cookies for a going away party and everyone loved them.  I think I'll try to dip chocolate chip cookies next.

Olive requested a Fairy Garden birthday party this year.  We've had a lot of fun making fairy, gnome and flower plans.  She has loved planning all the party details.  Now let's pray for great weather after school on Monday so our garden party can be outside :)

Popsicle Update: We are obsessed with a really cheap Summery treat.  These Juicy Juice popsicles from The Dollar Tree are SO GOOD.  They're the perfect petite size and they're 10 for $1.  I have lost track of the amount of boxes I've purchased to stash away for Summer.  Stock up if you see them!  We tried the Italian Ices, too.  They were pretty good, but really sweet.  My kids couldn't finish them. 

Policeman on duty 24/7.

These two are ready for summer and squirt guns.

I FINALLY got new glasses!!  It feels like making an appointment for myself requires a lot of work these days.  I have to find childcare for Fletcher, schedule the appointment and then sometimes go back for a follow up.  I had a friend watch Fletcher for my eye exam.  Updated both my contact and glasses prescriptions and then picked out frames.  That's always a little challenging for me because I have a large head.  I tried on tons and found some that I love.  Then I went back with the kids to pick them up.  Glad that's taken care of for a few years now.  I also made some other appointments to cross off my yearly to do list since Kevin's Summer schedule is a little more flexible.

We went to a really fun SPACE themed birthday party for a friend.  My friend comes up with the cutest stuff - themed food, themed activities, great favors and fun.  The kids had a blast - ha!

I got all of my annuals planted in pots this week and I bought some ferns!  My Mom told me that Menards has the best prices on ferns and she was right.  $9.99 for giant Boston Ferns.  I'm hoping they love living on my deck this summer :)

We've been playing outside a ton!  We met up with some friends and went on a walk one day after school.  It was cute to see this crew on the move through the neighborhood.

Olive's 6th birthday is coming up soon!  We've got a friend party next week and family parties next weekend.  It's going to be so much fun celebrating her.

Hope you have a great weekend!

It's time to link up with my favorite blogging buddies for High Five for Friday.  Join us with a few different blog posts and be sure to look around to find some new blog friends

Becky @  By BMG Blog
Della @ Della Devoted
Tif @ Bright on a Budget
Whitney P @ Come Home for Comfort

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Birthday Wish List When You're 6

Olive has been counting down the days until her birthday for weeks.  May 29th is quickly approaching and I'm still a little in denial that she's turning six.  Time sure flies!!

I wanted to share her birthday wish list with you in case you've got a six year old at your house, a niece or a nephew to shop for or maybe a sweet friend you'd like to surprise.

We tried something new this year where we went strolling through the toy aisles at Meijer and snapped pictures of things that Olive wanted for her birthday.  She realized that she wasn't going to get everything on the list, but this would give us a good list to work with.  We are also lucky to have family and friends who ask for gift suggestions when birthdays roll around.  I'd highly recommend going that route if you are able to ask for a wish list of a couple gift options.

(My current favorite picture of Olive.  Snapped it yesterday to document her lovely flower crown :)

1. Olive loves all tiny toys - Hatchimals, Shopkins, Calico Critters, etc.  She plays with them so much.  She loves collecting them and the surprise of opening up the Hatchimal eggs to see what is inside.

2. Barbie Pets & Barbie Unicorns
More tiny things with the tiny Barbie pets. Kevin's Grandma is surprising Olive with the unicorn styling head after she's been admiring it in store for weeks.

3. Games
We love playing games together.  We got Olive Operation and HedBandz.  I think they'll be a lot of fun to play as a family.  Rock Em Sock Em caught her eye at the store.

4. Accessories - earrings, umbrella of her own and necklaces

5. Art Supplies
She loves this art set so much that I'll probably buy a second one for her.  It's an amazing price for a HUGE set of art supplies. 

6. A few things that she doesn't know she wants, but I know she'd love:

Kid safe knives so she could help with more chopping in the kitchen.

A Kindle Fire - anyone else have kids that have one?  Which version?  What's your favorite things to do with them?

New streamers for her bike.

Mercy Watson book series has been recommended to me by a couple different people.

She's going to just love any gifts that she gets for her birthday!!  This is such a fun age to shop for because there are tons of cute things for under $20.

Did I forget anything?  Is there anything else you can think of to recommend for a 6 year old girl?

*Affiliate links included.  If you purchase from the links, PDP will earn a small commission.  Thank you for supporting my blog!

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

6 Tips for Growing Gorgeous Annuals in Pots

As many of you know, I have not always had a green thumb.  I used to kill any plant I got (probably from over watering them) and have had to practice over the years to get better and better at gardening.  Gardening is one of my favorite hobbies now and it's taken probably 5 years to get to the point where I can confidently walk into a garden center and know what to pick out.  I have some fun gardening posts planned for you in the coming weeks.

Every year that I was working on my gardening skills it got a little easier.  Start small with just a flower pot or two and add to your collection once you feel confident caring for them.  My Mother in Law is a great gardener and she's taught me a ton over the years.  I've also gotten better at asking family, friends or gardeners at my local garden centers for help or tips for growing certain plants.

Every year on Mother's Day we head to the store and pick out loads of annuals to plant in my pots.  Each year I add a couple of new pots to my collection and we plant them together as a family.  My kids are loving to garden and enjoy helping me care for our flowers.  This year we planted 25 pots of all shapes and sizes.

Today we are going to talk about ANNUALS - flowers that you have to plant every year.  They don't come back from year to year like perennials do.

Tips for Growing Annuals:
1. Use Miracle Grow Potting Mix.
It's such good stuff to help your flowers GROW.

2. Don't put too many plants in one pot.
It is tempting to fill up the pot with lots of little plants, but each plant will grow and fill up the pot.

3. Pay close attention to their sun/shade needs and select plants according to the sun/shade in the location where you want the pot to live.

4. Water them when they look dry or are a little wilted. 
Most plants don't need water every day.

5. Figure out what kind of pots you like and buy similar ones each year for your collection.  
I love terra cotta pots and green pots so the majority of the pots I buy fit in those categories.  It helps build a really great, eclectic collection.

6. Shop around to find flowers you LOVE.
I picked up flowers at Lowes, Meijer, Aldi and Menards this year.  I also love getting them from Rural King, Farmer's Markets and Local Garden Centers.  Choose all different colors and you'll be happy with your pots.  There are so many shades of pinks, purples and more.  Pick flowers you really enjoy and you'll be happy with your pots.

I'm excited to show you what I picked out this year.  I think I'm done buying annuals and will focus my attention on buying perennials for the rest of the season.  I just love adding perennials to my yard each year since they come back bigger and better every year.  It's such a fun investment in your home to build your gardens up each year.

Polka-Dotty Garden 2019

I tried some new flowers - Red Bicolor Verbena is the name of the hot pink and purple flowers in the corner.   I found those coral double Begonias at Aldi for just $9.99!  I also got some red New Guinea Impatiens that like the sun.

My Meijer has a fun garden center.  I got my very favorite sweet potato vines to add to my pots (neon green vine that grows so pretty!).

Aren't these begonias so pretty?!?  Their tag says Hiemalis Begonia, but I've always called them double begonias.

My Mom tipped me off to a great price on ferns.  Menards has giant Boston Ferns for just $9.99.  One will fill up your whole shopping cart.  I picked up 2 ferns, 2 fern stands for $12.99 each and then they're doing a special for 11% back on your entire purchase this week.  I have never tried to grow outdoor ferns, but I'm hoping I can keep them happy and healthy on my deck.

Must having potting mix.

Here are all my baby pots:
Vinca, vining petunias, sweet potato vine and Celosia is the prettiest fuzzy magenta flower.

Begonias on the table and our new bird bath in the background!  I found it at Menards for just $12.99.  It's plastic and perfectly kid friendly.  I'm hoping our birds learn to love it.  I put it right outside our playroom window seat because I think the kids will love watching the birds play in it.

Impatiens, Petunias, Verbina and Dianthus.

Solid color Verbena and Geraniums.  My mom always planted those when we were growing up so they remind me of her.

Begonias and Impatiens.

 Sweet Potato Vine, Begonias and New Guinea Impatiens.  They all love the sun.

We have a tricky growing spot in our backyard by our garage.  I wanted to plant pots on each side of the garage door, but ran into a problem - can you see it??

One side gets FULL sun and the other side gets SHADE.  So I had to come up with a solution that would work for both sides and grow to look similar.

Sunpatiens on the left.

Impatiens on the right.  

Sunpatiens love the sun.  Impatiens love the shade!  I picked out the exact same color in each flower so that they'll grow and look very similar.  Hooray!

I love to garden with these cuties!  It's taken some practice, but they're actually pretty good helpers now.  They try really hard not to pick flowers that are in pots (because we work hard to grow them) and they like to help water our flowers every few days.

Do you have any gardening questions for me??  Any tricky areas that give you trouble?  Need some plant suggestions for your pots?  Just tell me if you've got a shady spot or a sunny spot and I've got TONS of favorites to recommend.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Fun Career Milestone

We are just now wrapping up several days of fun graduation festivities at ISU.

We had going away parties, cook outs, graduation, receptions as a family and Kevin had lots of extra work.  It's an exciting time of year in academia.

This year felt extra special because Kevin hit a fun career milestone:
He graduated his first PhD student!

If you've been around for a while, you know that Kevin has had a hard year at work. 

It's been really challenging on all of us and I shared that with you guys back in October.  I'm happy to report that things have improved, but it hasn't been easy.  Kevin has had to work through a lot of challenging stuff and I'm so proud of him for coming out of all of it with a smile on his face.  God is good!  Work isn't perfect now.  We've just grown and learned a lot along the way.  We don't have answers for all our questions, but we know that God will take care of us like he always has.

It was a JOY to cheer him on in his profession especially when I know it's been a major challenge for him to hit this milestone.  He's been working toward this for our entire married life of almost 15 years with graduate school, internships, fellowships, jobs, interviews and now working towards tenure.  We are so proud of him and it was fun to see his dreams coming true (even if the process of getting to those dreams looks differently than we imagined it would).

Kev & the kids.  They sat through the graduation ceremony with me and some of Kevin students.  We had a good time snacking on candy, playing quiet games in our seats and clapping for the graduates.

The kids were really good.  Although we did have a slight mishap. 

Fletcher was standing on the seat of his chair before the ceremony visiting with Kevin's students and his foot slipped down into the crack as his chair folded up.  Poor guy was STUCK.  I figured I'd just lift him up, but I couldn't get his foot out.  Thankfully, Kevin's students were with us and could help.  One lifted Fletcher up by the armpits and I laid on the floor to wiggle off his shoe.  Poor Fletch was crying and we finally got his foot out after lots of wiggling.  His foot was all red and bruised the next day.  Never a dull moment in parent life.

The Psychology Dept went first!  We are so proud of Kevin.

Then the moment the kids were waiting all evening for... Erin!!  Their favorite babysitter Erin was back in town to graduate.  She's been away on internship this year and they've missed her so much.  Actually we have all missed her.  She's the one who gave us her fish when she moved.  The kids picked out a fun gift for her and it was great to catch up.

ISU blue treats were enjoyed by everyone.
We were happy to see sunshine and blue skies after all this dreary weather we've been having.
Happy Graduation Day, Sycamores!

Monday, May 13, 2019

Mother's Day 2019

I hope you had a fabulous Mother's Day weekend celebrating your favorite moms, women and friends in your life.  We had a CHILLY Mother's Day (High of 50) so we had to make some changes to our plans.  My weekend was filled with regular mom duties (baths, chores, groceries, appointments, birthday parties, etc) and lots of things that made me feel special.

Our favorite local grocery store hosted a fun cake decorating event on Saturday.  They invited kids to come in and decorate a cake for their moms.  Both kids worked on the cake together and were SO PROUD of their final sprinkled creation.  It was fun to have them make me dessert for a change. 

Sunday morning was full of regular mom moments... middle of the night wake ups, runny noses, medicine, making breakfast, dishes, laundry, breaking up fights and toys.  Nothing special, just a regular day in the life.

We wore our favorite colors and headed off to church.  It was cold and rainy so we had to change up our plans for the rest of the day.

 Mexican at our favorite spot for lunch.  Win for all!

 Lunch was so good that Olive licked her plate!  I felt like doing the same, but restrained myself.

The girls.

The boys.  And Fletcher is currently a character for pictures - finger pointing, making faces and tongue out.  

We headed to Lowes in the misty rain, got out our jackets and shopped for flowers.  This is the third year we've done this on Mother's Day and I look forward to it every year.

We picked out some tried and true favorites and a couple new things.  We had big plans to work in the yard, plant flowers and get things ready for Spring.  But it was cloudy, cold, and rainy so we'll plant them this week.

We stopped by a local furniture store to check out bunk beds and kitchen tables.  Both are on our wish list to purchase at some point.  The kids loved seeing their options and trying out the beds.  We took measurements and came home to think about our options.

I got some really sweet Mother's Day cards - they were all pretty florals - people know me well!

Kevin started this tradition when Olive was a baby - he'd paint and stamp her hand print in my Mother's Day card and he's continued it every year since.  I just love seeing their hand prints every year.  It's also funny to me that their hand prints are about the same size.

 Olive is getting big enough to write me her own message :)

Kevin surprised me with a darling picnic basket for four.  It's so sweet - all the plates, utensils, cups and check napkins with an insulated container in the bottom.  I just love it and can't wait to use it.

And of course have to give a shout out to my own Mom...

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!! 💗 Thank you for being a Pinterest Mom long before your time. 💗 Thank you for teaching me to love to cook for my family and friends. 💗 Thank you for being a stay at home mom & a working mom. 💗 Thank you for hosting so many parties that it just came natural to me when I grew up. 💗 Thank you for taking so many pictures, making holidays and birthdays so special and for going out of your way to make us all feel special and loved. You’re the best Mom and Mimi