Friday, May 29, 2020

She's 7: Birthday Favorites!

Happy 7th Birthday Olive!!

It seems like just yesterday we were living in Salt Lake City, I was teaching and we couldn't wait to welcome you into the world.  You were the easiest, sweetest baby.  You've always been the best traveler, eater, helper and you have always known exactly what you want.  You're smart, funny, sassy and dresses are still your favorite.

You are our favorite girl.  We love you tons!  You always SHINE BRIGHT.

7 Favorites About Our Birthday Girl:

1. You love to help.  You look for new jobs to do, new things to try and are eager to take on new responsibilities.  You keep your brothers safe and are the best responsible girl. 

2. You love to learn.  You've really missed going to school these last few months.  You are reading a ton independently and you have even taken over doing story time.  You love to read.  You're always learning new things.  This year you've been working on learning how to dribble, play basketball, climb trees, make your own bed, set the table, etc.

3. Your current favorites - pink, dresses, Crocs, art, crunchy veggies, salty crackers, playing outside, climbing trees, Bun-Bun the bunny, playgrounds, unicorns, movie night, riding your bike, gardening, LOL dolls, Barbies and craft kits.

4. You are always up for an adventure.  You love to travel, visit new places and you say that you'd love to live at the ocean.  We love traveling with you!

5. I love hanging out with you.  You're getting so good at basketball.  It is so fun shooting hoops with you.  You're so brave, silly and I can't believe how fast you're growing up.  Love you!  -Daddy

6. You're so sweet and gentle with me.  You love to hold me, snuggle me and are always helping put in my paci.  You are a great big sis. -Leo

7. I love to climb with you!  I really like sleeping with you in our big kid room. - Fletcher

If you have a 5-8 year old girl, here are some gift ideas for her.

These are Olive's favorite things:

*Affiliate links.  Thanks for supporting Polka-Dotty Place!

Linking up with Momfessionals Friday Favorites

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Olive's Family Birthday

We decided that this past weekend would be a good time to visit our extended families.  We hadn't seen the majority of them since Fletcher's birthday party back in early March.  We washed hands more and everyone was more aware of germs than usual.

Many things are opening back up with caution in Indiana and people are getting out and about more.  We are all being careful with being out in public and are really only hanging out with family.  We did not plan a friend party for Olive because it felt a little too soon to do so.  We were eager to celebrate Olive turning 7 with family as well as introduce the family to Leo.

I shared all the party planning details of Olive's birthday yesterday.  Today's post will be a family heavy post.  I'm sure it's not that exciting to most of you, but it's special to us.  There's nothing better than sharing your kid's milestones with the people you love most.

We did a dinner party with Kevin's family on Saturday night.  His mom grilled delicious burgers for us and helped me host as always.  I didn't manage to get pictures of everyone.  Turns out it's hard to host a party, care for three little people and snap all the pictures.

We were really proud of Fletcher.  He was so happy for Olive.  He was happy to hand her gifts, was excited to see her get things she loves and was a great brother for her whole birthday weekend.  Sometimes it's hard when the other kids are getting extra attention and he just was happy to be along for the ride.

Jordan cousins!

Leo loved meeting all of his Great Grandparents.  He's got 4 of them!!

His 2nd set of Great Grandparents.  He was sweet and snuggly with everyone.  They all ohhh and ahhhhed over him.

On Sunday we had a lunch party with my family.  My mom helped me with all the hot food and helped me host as always.  These cute cousins were so excited to see each other!  Here's their first picture as a group of TEN!!  They really have the best time playing together.  For a few months out of the year, this bottom row of girls are the same age.  Right now they're all 7!!

My favorite party hostess helper :).  Look at her cute Happy Birthday sign.  My parents worked together to make this block alphabet set.  She changes the message seasonally or for special occasions. 

Lots of hand washing, baby admiring and snuggling going on here.  Leo is lucky to be the cute caboose of the family.

Look at all these smiles meeting Leo!

This was the first year that Olive could fluently read her cards and the messages (with a little help on the cursive!)  It was so cute to see her doing this part by herself.  When did she get so big!?!

So many girls.  So much excitement over tiny toys!  Especially the rare ones :)

We had the best birthday weekend!  I loved her sweet LOL dress and all the LOL doll decorations.  She said the party came together just like she imagined.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

LOL Party + My Party Hacks

Olive turns 7 this week and we've been looking forward to celebrating her all month long.  We opted to skip a friend party this year due to all the COVID-19 restrictions and just focus on doing small parties with our family.  She knew exactly what she wanted - an LOL doll themed party.  I picked up party supplies, made all of her favorite foods and we celebrated with family.  It was wonderful!

If you've been around here for very long, you know that I love throwing parties.  I look forward to celebrating all the things.  I wanted to put a different spin on my party post this year.  I thought I'd share some behind the scenes party hacks with you.  These are all things I've learned over the years that make party planning easier for me.

Watch for 10 of these *** throughout the post to read my party hacks.

Let's party!!  (I'll put links at the end of the post to anything I can.)

***Be sure to ask someone to snap pictures for you if you're busy trying to host.  I always ask my sister to take pictures during my parties because I know she'll get good shots and she'll tell me things like - turn the candle around the other way so that the 7 will be the right way for the camera.

***Pick three different patterns/colors for your napkins.  It'll add interest and fun layers to your table.
***Pick one item to inspire your party colors.  I picked the LOL doll tablecloth from Wal-Mart and selected colors, patterns and designs to go with it.
***Shop around to find an eclectic mix of party supplies instead of buying every item in a set.  I got the napkins from Walmart and Meijer.  Straws from Kroger and Dollar Tree.  LOL doll cupcake pics from Amazon, plates from Meijer and tablecloth from Walmart.  Mix and match!

Olive opted out of the traditional birthday cupcake and requested sugar cookies instead.  I made those, chocolate dipped Oreos and added in a classic chocolate chip cookie since that's always a crowd pleaser.  People seem to enjoy a little dessert buffet.

***Plan the menu around the birthday girl's favorite foods.  Oreos are life!

*** Melt 3 squares of white chocolate almond bark in the microwave until smooth.  Dip half of Oreo in almond bark.  Lay it on wax paper to dry and add sprinkles immediately.  Let dry for a couple of hours.  The kids loved these and they were so easy!

*** Fresh flowers seem to be in short supply at my local grocery stores.  I only found tiny bouquets of $10 tulips.  It would have taken 3 or 4 bouquets to fill a vase.  I did not want to spend that kind of money on party flowers.  I opted to buy this $9.99 beautiful flowering plant instead.  It was huge and so pretty on the drink table.  Bonus: I will repot it and enjoy adding it to my indoor plant collection.

 Hearts, stars and #7 shaped sugar cookies for the birthday girl!

 Chocolate chip cookies.  I added rainbow sprinkles to go with the theme.

***Sundae sprinkles are perfect for any dessert.  They're bigger, brighter and cheaper than the sprinkles you find in the baking aisle.  These are found in the same section as the sundae toppings.  These rainbow sprinkles are from Meijer.

We tried something new for favors this year and it was so fun!

Olive has 9 cousins on my side of the family so we planned this for them.  We added all of her favorites plus things we thought the kids would love.

1. Hand decorated bags for all the  kids
2. LOL Pez dispensers
3. Pez refills
4. Airheads
5. 3 Musketeers
4. Pink Starburst
5. Lip gloss/chapstick
6. Silly straws
7. Reese's
8. Waterproof Vinyl Stickers

*** Let the birthday girl go through the line first.  Then shuffle the bags and call the kids up one at a time to load up their bags.  We talked through quantities - one Pez dispenser per person, a couple of candies per person, etc.  It worked really well and all the kids enjoyed picking out their own flavors and favors.

 The LOL doll table cloths were so cute!  I put one on the adult table, one on the island and did a plain pink one for the kid's table.

Here are my Amazon affiliate links:
Thanks so much for shopping my links and supporting Polka-Dotty Place!!

Friday, May 22, 2020

Amazon Favorites

Happy Fri-YAY!!  I took a couple of days off because life got busy!  Hope you've had a great week.  Things are slowly starting to open up in Indiana and we've got some fun plans to see family this weekend.

Like many of you, I'm buying things on Amazon to save me trips to stores.  It's wonderful to find what you need online and have it show up at your door.

Here are my very random mix of Amazon favorites from the past few months.

1. Dutch Oven
I've always wanted a dutch oven for soups, stews and so much more.  I love the idea that you can cook on the stove top with it or put it in the oven.  Olive's been requesting that I learn how to make crusty bread.  Every single recipe I found said the best breads were baked in dutch ovens.  This one arrived in white this week.  I can't wait to learn how to use it!!

2. Climbing Dome
My kids are climbers.  I've been wanting to get them a climbing dome for about 6 months.  I waited.  Corona Virus hit.  Shelter at home orders were issued and the prices of them sky rocketed (like many backyard toys did).  When I first started looking they were $188.  A month ago the price went up to in the $400s with delivery expected for July.  I kept checking the prices.  A week or so ago the price dropped back down to under $200.  I ordered one right away as a Summer splurge for our backyard.  The kids are so excited.  We're hoping to get it built this coming week.  It has great reviews.  And remember - the price fluctuates a lot so keep an eye on it if you're interested in buying one.

3. Baby's 1st Year Calendar
With each child, I've kept a calendar of their milestones for the first year.  I love adding the stickers - first smile, first trip - along with documenting things like first time they rolled over, met family members or laughed.  It's a sweet way to document all those little things that are easy to forget.  This one just arrived for Leo.  It would be great for any new mom!

4. Vinyl Stickers
Have you seen these cute stickers that are everywhere?  They're perfect for water bottles, laptops, Yetis, coolers, lunch boxes and more.  This set is really kid friendly and fun.  I ordered it to add to the favor bags for Olive's cousin birthday party.

5. The 30-Day Productivity Plan
My husband ordered this book for himself and it caught my eye.  I'd put myself in the category of super productive every day.  I love lists.  I love getting stuff done and setting goals.  He would tell you that he struggles more with focus, list making and staying on task hence the purchase of this book.  Well I ended up reading it and really enjoying it.  It's very smart, doable and breaks down everything really well into 30 days.  I think it would help ANYONE become more productive.

6. Thermos Funtainer Water Bottles
These are our #1 favorite water bottle for the kids.  They have held up so well.  You can buy replacement straw pieces which we've done several times.  They don't leak, sweat and they keep ice icy all day.  I got some new ones for summer and am contemplating buying the larger 16 oz size once the weather gets hot and the kids need more water.

7. Favorite Games
We try to play games together several times a week.  We all enjoy these games.  Dream cakes is a fun game where you strategically build cakes to earn points.  Disney Eye Found It is a fun game of things to spot from movie scenes.  Tenzi is such a fun dice game.  You roll all different combinations of dice and race to get the requirements first.  It's fun and quick.  All of these games are good for ages 4 and up.

8. Remote Control Car for Kids
Fletcher got this for a gift a couple years ago.  He loved it so much!  I've gifted it to so many little boys.  I just ordered a new one for a little friend's birthday coming up next month.  It's super affordable.  I try to always include batteries with it so the kids can play with it right away.  It really is intuitive and kid friendly unlike many remote control cars.

*All of these links are my affiliate links.  That means I make a small commission when you click through these links and make a purchase.  Thanks so much for supporting Polka-Dotty Place!

Hope you have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!

Linking up with Momfessionals

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Self Care 2020: Healthy Meal Inspiration

This year has turned out to be the weirdest year. 

Nothing like any of us would have ever predicted - right!?!

For most of us, life feels stressful in new ways, jobs are different, kids are home from school, you're doing school at home, it's hard to find a gym to work out at, our regular exercise routines are being impacted by being home much more than usual, grocery shopping is stressful with items being in stock, limiting trips to the store and shopping in a mask. 

That's a lot of challenges to overcome in the name of self care.

My 2020 forms of self care:
Real food, Drinking lots of water, Rest and Alone time. 

I make the effort to grocery shop and make lists that include lots of colorful, healthy foods.  I'm training myself to think of food as fuel to motivate myself to make real meals for me.  I do a lot of the ingredients in batches to save time each day.  I rest when I can - sleep in, nap and head to bed whenever the baby sleeps.  Alone time looks like Kevin taking the big kids out to play while I'm inside doing my own thing while the baby sleeps.  Technically my alone time is always with the baby, but he's still sleeping a lot so I'm counting it as alone time :)  I've yet to be cleared for exercise after having Leo so I'm just taking little walks and going on little bike rides here and there.  I plan to walk and bike for longer lengths of time when I can.

Today I'm going to share some simple recipes that are delicious and are a great way to incorporate colorful meals into your days.  I try to meal plan one salad per day.  Some days it's lunch and some days it's for dinner.

1. Berry Crunch Salad
Mixed greens
red onion
parmesan cheese
Homemade lemon vinaigrette * Recipe is saved in my Salads story highlight

I threw this salad together with all the last bits of stuff in my fridge.  I wasn't sure the cucumbers would be good with the berries, but they were a yummy addition.

2. Sweet Potato Hash
Roasted sweet potatoes (I do these in a big batch and then have them ready to eat for several days)
2 fried eggs
2-3 slices of  bacon *I love the big pkgs of precooked bacon from Sams that just needs to heat for 1 minute or so.  Saves so much time!
a little shredded cheese

3. Veggie Packed Salad
Mixed Greens
hard boiled eggs
sweet peppers
red onion
shredded cheese
Honey mustard Vinaigrette from Primal Kitchen *pricey but DELICIOUS

3. Nothing But Berries Salad
Mixed Greens
All the berries
parmesan cheese
Lite Raspberry Vinaigrette from Kraft

I've been on a breakfast sandwich kick lately for breakfast, brunch or lunch.  They're super filling, delicious and really don't take long to make.  #5 is my favorite, but #4 is faster since you just toast it and don't have anything to bake.

4. English Muffin Sandwich
English muffin
raspberry jam
2 slices of bacon
2 fried eggs

5. Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuit 
Frozen biscuits - delicious and you can just bake a couple
2 slices of bacon
2 fried eggs
slice of sharp cheddar cheese

*Sometimes I double the bacon, egg and cheese needed so I can eat one sandwich right away and then the following day just pull the bacon, egg and cheese combo out of the fridge, microwave them and add them to the biscuit.  Saves time and it tastes great.

What things are you doing to take care of yourself right now?
Would you enjoy any of these recipes?

Monday, May 18, 2020

Surprise Sibling Photo Shoot at Home

Remember last week when I said that I really wanted sibling pictures with Leo's newborn pictures, but since we had to cancel his official newborn shoot they'd have to wait??

Well, instead of feeling sad about missed picture opportunities with a new baby, I took matters into my own hands.

I requested a sibling photo shoot for my Mother's Day gift.

I selected outfits for the kids weeks ago - blue was the theme for our new baby boy.  I asked the kids to dress up and give me their best attitudes for a little photo shoot just for Mom.  They were pretty cooperative and sweet.  Kevin snapped some pictures of me with the kids and then I took the rest.

The pictures turned out even better than I could have hoped for a DIY photo shoot.

They are exactly what I wanted - a lifestyle photo shoot of the kids at home.

I love seeing the big kids with a baby and the way they both interact with him differently.  Olive is so sweet and gentle.  Fletcher gives Leo very loving big brother headlocks.  Ha!  I love the bare feet, missing teeth, real smiles and all from the comfort of our home.  I can't wait to get these pictures printed and hung up in our house.

We are a Jellycat loving family!  Olive's bunny has been everywhere with her for the last 7 years.  She loves her dearly.  She asked for a picture of just her and Bun Bun in their matching dresses.  Fletcher has a puppy.  Leo has as giraffe.  I'm hoping the boys always love their Jellycat animals as much as Olive.

So thankful for these three kids!