Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Happy 11th Birthday, Olive!

Happy Birthday, Olive!

Olive turns 11 today and I'm in disbelief.  It seems like just yesterday that we were about to have our first baby while we were living in Salt Lake City, Utah.  

She was the easiest baby and traveled like a dream.  She lived in Utah, Arkansas, Mississippi and two cities in Indiana.  We traveled a ton when she was little and she road in the car like a pro.  She was my best sidekick as we were constantly adjusting to new cities, new friends and new routines.  

We're so proud of her!

5th grade had highs and lows.  Thankfully, more highs than lows.  She had the best teacher, was in class with some great friends, learned a ton and her confidence really grew.  She ended the year being accepted into honors math for 6th grade and getting the teacher that she really wanted.  Big things are ahead for this smart girl.

Current favorites:
- smoothies & salty snacks
- going to the mall
- online shopping
- making lists
- making plans with her friends
- cats & kittens
- penguins
- Stitch & movie nights
- snow cones
- & all the things that preteens do!

We celebrated her with family and friends and can't wait to have a fun day with her today!

11 is going to be a really great year.  I just know it!

A throwback to our 2013 Utah days:

We love you, Olive!

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

The Easiest Meatballs

I made some homemade meatballs for a birthday dinner over the weekend and they were delicious!  

They came together really quickly and reheated perfectly.  You just need 6 ingredients!


2lbs Ground Beef

1 small yellow onion chopped very small

2 t minced garlic

2 T Worchestershire sauce

2t Your favorite seasoning (Kinder The Blend salt/pepper/garlic) or salt/pepper

Mix everything in a big bowl until well combined.  Grab a small baking scoop and scoop out the meatballs to make sure they are the same size.  Cook them on the stove top draining off the grease as they cook.  I just poured it into a bowl and kept cooking the meatballs.  Flip about half way through and let them get a good brown on them.  

They were delicious with spaghetti with red sauce and alfredo sauce.  

They were delicious enough that I'm making them twice in one week!

They'd be perfect for pasta night, delivering dinner to a friend or making in batches to keep in your freezer.


Friday, May 24, 2024

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday, Friends!  It's been a busy week with all of the end of the school year festivities plus lots of adulting with meetings and appointments.  The kids have their last day of school today and we're excited for Summer!

Did you catch my blog posts this week?

Preteen Parenting Shopping Tips - #2 is my best teen tip ever

Full Sun Flowers - come see all my full sun favorites!

Our Creek

Now onto the highlights of our week:

1. Kevin's Grandma Sharon turned 86 this past week!  We took her out to dinner and I baked her a birthday bundt cake.  We ate at our favorite pizza spot Turonis and had a great evening.  These 9x9 foil pans with lids are still my favorite Sams find.  They are perfect for delivering food in a cute way.  We're lucky to have such a wonderful Grandma/Great Grandma!  She's smart, interesting and interested in us, tech savvy (reads my blog!!) and we always enjoy our time together.

2. Mom saved the day.  Last week Leo got a new car at Target and then lost it on the way home from Target.  It was tragic.  Unbeknownst to me, he was driving this tiny monster truck along his open window ledge in the van.  We were zooming along a busy road and he screamed MY CAR!  He burst into tears and told me through sobs that he dropped his car and wasn't able to catch it.  He was devastated.  He cried the whole way home.  Huge tears.  He kept saying... I loved my new car.  I didn't mean to lose it.  I tried to catch it, but I wasn't quick enough.  Can we go back and get it?  Will someone find it for me?  Please go save it from getting run over.  Etc. etc.  It was REALLY sad.  I did contemplate trying to go back and find it, but like i said it was a busy road and a tiny car.  He talked about it for days.  Instead I did what anyone with a heart would do, I hopped on Amazon and ordered him a new one.  Then I surprised him by hiding it in the mailbox a couple of days later.  He gets our mail every day so he was THRILLED that someone found his car and returned it to him.  Wink. Wink.  Mom win :)

3. Grocery Pick Up.  A mom's dream come true.  It's my favorite drive up service ever.  I am so thankful for Walmart and Sams pick up.  I also love Meijer and Target, but use Walmart the most.  There's nothing better than ordering groceries in our pjs and pulling up to get everything you need for the week.

4. Asaparagus.  I tried roasting asparagus this week and it was so good!   Just drizzle with olive oil, favorite seasoning mix and roast until tender.  YUM!

5. King Leo.  It makes me happy to see Leo enjoying slow mornings at home.  Soon enough he'll need to rush to get ready to head to school, but not right now.  Enjoy the shows, kitty snuggles and lounging as much as possible.

6. Book Lovers.  SO GOOD!

7. Stay weird.  Pearl loves to perch like this and it cracks me up.  She is nosey, but from a distance.

8. Olive got promoted to middle school youth group!  She had a blast at their color run kick off with her friends.

9. Disney Week!  Fletcher's teacher planned a fun Disney week for the last week of school.  We got some cute tshirts for him.  Mickey day and Star Wars day were favorites.

10. Field Day!  The kids had rescheduled field days this week.  The weather was PERFECT.  Kevin went to Fletcher's field day and I went to Olive's.  The played the cutest games and it was really fun to see them playing with their friends.  It's our favorite to see them having a great time at school!

11. Bundt cakes are my favorite!  I've been on a bundt cake making kick.  This one was fun because everyone got to pick their favorite icing flavor - vanilla, chocolate or twist - on their piece of cake.  Isn't it pretty??

12. Growing!  We have blueberries for the first time!!  Kevin planted these bushes last year.  He was so excited to see real blueberries growing this year.  And my flower seeds are sprouting!

I hope you had a great week and have fun plans for your weekend!

I'll see you back here on Tuesday :)

Linking up with Momfessionals

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Our Creek

The kids have been very busy working in our creek this year.


The boys have cleared a whole new trail.  

Olive is keeping close tabs on all the bird nests and the honeysuckle.  

Leo has mastered using gardening tools for trimming.

Fletcher hunts for the coolest rocks.

It's their favorite spot to play.

Our backyard play set arrived on a giant pallet.  As soon as the kids saw it, they knew it would make the perfect bridge for our creek.  Once we got the playset built, they talked me into helping them find the perfect spot for their new bridge.  We all put on gloves and used our muscles to move it across the yard.  We scoped out all the spots the bridge could go and settled on this one.  It is secure and they are really careful when crossing it.  The kids are so proud to be able to have a working bridge.  Maybe one day we'll have fun neighbors build a house on the other side of the creek!

They spend a ton of time working in the creek.  That means they're trimming things up.  Making stick piles for bonfires.  Keeping a close eye on all of the wild blackberries and finding treasures that wash away from the farm nearby.

This mama robin was really fun to watch.  She had three babies to take care of this Spring.

Fletcher and I worked hard to cut out this construction barrier that goes the length of our property.  It was a dirty, sweaty job, but we were able to remove tons of it.  The boys have their own set of shovels and tools for the creek.  Leo can now trim blackberry bushes like a pro.  He trims them and picks the trimmings up with his tool avoiding all the sharp stickers.  Smart guys!

Fletcher loves to rescue animals and makes sure to bury any creatures that don't make it.  He set up this whole grave for a baby bird that didn't make it.  Flowers and all.

Fletcher also discovered this pretty rose bush when he was cutting a new trail.  It was so pretty filled with whilte blooms this Spring.

We always love to see what pretty flowers pop up at the creek.

We see all kinds of critters - bunnies, snakes, turtles, birds, frogs and the ocassional bald eagle overhead when we're playing outside.  The creek is their favorite part of our yard and hopefully a place that will hold some of their favorite childhood memories.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Full Sun Flowers

My yard is FULL SUN with almost zero shade.

I have found some full sun favorites to share with you in case our yards are similar.  

Look at this pretty assortment of lantana, lavendar, superbells double redstone petunias, golden butterfly daisies, dianthis and more.  I rarely buy specific flower colors and try hard to plant the rainbow.

I'm also trying a little seed experiement.  Maybe becoming a seed collector?  It started last year where I'd harvest seeds (after googling how to harvest flower seeds) and let them dry out.  I've been storing them since last Summer.  I collected Pink Vinca, Lantana in various colors and french marigolds.  I'm really hoping my seed experiement works!  I planted some wildflowers and alyssum, too.

I planted them in several different pots.  Some pots were all seeds and some pots got plants with a few seeds.  I'll keep you posted on what sprouts.

My flower loving friend Kristen from Texas sent me some zinnia seeds!  It was the sweetest surprise and I'm hoping they thrive in the Midwest like hers do in Texas.  I have reached a new level of adulting where sharing flower seeds is exciting!  My rock heart collection from Fletcher looks nice with my flower pots.

I'm also collecting transplanted flowers for my yard.  Both of Kevin's grandma's offered me some perennials and I really hope they love my yard.  Imagine our landscaping has a layer of fresh mulch because it will before the weekend.

I planted my front planters with lavender, green filler and lots of seeds.  Let's see what sprouts!

I think I'm done planting flowers or close to done and then we'll start on the vegetable garden next!  I bought way less flowers and planted way more seeds this year.  A little risky, but I loved saving money and am excited to see how my seeds do.

What did you plant at your house this year??

Monday, May 20, 2024

Preteen Parenting: Shopping Tips

I have learned a few tips about shopping for older kids this year.

My old strategies weren't working.  

I used to collect things way in advance and save them for birthdays and holidays when the kids were little.  I could better anticipate what they would be interested in and not have to worry about return windows and trends changing.  I've noticed my preteen wanting to have return options and their wish lists changing all the time.  That means I need to save my shopping until just a few weeks before holidays.

Here's how I am approaching shopping for my older kids now:

1. Wait to buy things until a couple weeks before their birthdays.  

I leave the tags on everything.  That way if they don't like an item, it is easy to return and no stress if something doesn't work out.

2. Don't take teen attitude personal.  

Sometimes I work hard to gather tons of swim suit options or jeans options and then end up returning them all.  Or we try on tons of things in store and walk away with nothing.  I try to just enjoy the process and the quality time together.  The rejected clothes aren't a rejection of you.  It is just them trying to find their own personal style.

3. Shop for clothes at stores that have easy return options for me.  

I ask the kids to put things in the cart that catch their eye at places like Old Navy and then we browse the cart together.  We talk through their selections, read reviews, confirm sizes and then I can easily return things if they aren't what we hoped.  We avoid shopping at stores that require a mail in return other than Amazon.  This is a great options for stores you are familiar with since you know how their sizes and clothing runs.  Also, encourage them (especially girls) if they see a friend wearing something that they love, ask them where they got it.  It's been fun to check out new stores and new trends.

4. Ask your child to give you birthday wish lists to share with family and friends.  

My big kids have learned the art of making an Amazon wish list.  It's been so helpful!  They are always adding and editing it so I have ideas to share with family when they ask.  I also ask the kids often - are you still into fossils?  Squishmallows?  Stitch?  To gauge their interest.

5. Have honest conversations about items.  

If you splurge and get your teens something, make sure they love it and will use it.  We have had honest conversations about nice tennis shoes because we wanted to make sure they were enjoyed and didn't sit in a box.  Olive said she loved the idea of them, but probably wouldn't wear them a ton.  So we returned them and no feelings were hurt.

Now tell me your best shopping tips for teens! 

Friday, May 17, 2024

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday, friends!  I hope it's been a good week for you.  We were busy!

Did you catch my blog posts this week?

Northern Lights in Our Backyard - the coolest surprise!

Mother's Day Highlights

Exercise with Mom

Now onto my favorite moments of the week:

1. Emily Henry Books!

I picked up Happy Place on a whim - darling cover and Emily Henry is so popular - and I loved it!  The friendships, the romance, the themes and the adventures.  And who doesn't love a book that leaves you feeling HAPPY!?  I loved it so much that I promptly ordered two more Emily Henry books.  I'm reading Book Lovers now and People We Meet on Vacation next.  They all have amazing reviews.

2. Amazon Favorites
I had a tiny blush crisis this week.  Have you ever gone to reorder a favorite beauty item and it's GONE??  My favorite Tarte blush/highlighter combo is out of stock everywhere so I went to my instagram friends for help.  A good friend told me I had to try the ELF Glow Blush Beauty Wand cream blush in Pinke Me Up.  I had never tried a cream blush before so I was excited.  It's so lovely!  Look at this pretty glow.  I can't recommend this blush enough.  Blush crisis averted.

I picked up this PRETTYGARDEN Women's Summer 2 Piece Outfit on a whim and it's DARLING.  So good that I have already ordered it in black and red.  I'm debating which color to order next. 

The quality of the set is so nice.  The fabric feels expensive and you'd easily pay $40 for each piece.  This set is around $40 for the top AND bottom.  You could easily mix and match sets or wear each item on its own.  The pants are really flattering, have pockets and look so professional and put together.  It runs true to size so grab your normal size. 10/10 must have outfit for the Summer.  I promise!  You'll love it.  I'm thinking of ordering the olive green set or the mustard yellow set next.  All of the colors are SO pretty and many of them are on sale right now.

Adoyi Gold hoop set.  I got this pack of 7 different gold hoops for Mother's Day and I am SO impressed.  The quality is great and they look so high end.  I've worn them all week with zero complaints.  They are light, easy to wear and so pretty.  This set is perfection - every gold hoop style and size you could ever want and the price is shocking!!  Another Summer MUST HAVE!

3. Teacher gifts.  I grabbed some cute Summer zipper pouches for our teachers, added in some bakery cookies and a handwritten note.  I had the kids make their teachers these darling note paper gift bags and I love the way they turned out.  Just precious!

4. The Northern Lights.  I'm still not over this cool night sky.

5. Summer flowers!  I'm eager to plant my flowers, but it has been too rainy this week.  Hopefully these pretty blooms will get potted this weekend.

6. Makenzie-Childs vibes.  I found this darling checked vase at Marshalls this week and couldn't wait to use it. Kevin surprised me with Mother's Day flowers that matched perfectly without even knowing about my new vase.  I love it so much!

7. Backyard Lemonade.  My kids love lemonade as much as I do so I love serving some afternoon lemonade to them.

8. Dig N Roll.  Remember this cute indoor play place?  Leo and I went with some friends this week and it was EMPTY.  Going during the day when school is in session is so nice.

9. New plants!  I got some new plants this week for free!  My new motto is - if someone is offering free plants, I say YES!

10. Jordan Bakery Box.  I had some yummy orders this week!

11. Rescue Fletcher.  He saved a nest full of baby birds when crazy rains knocked them to the ground.  He's also keep an eye on some bunnies, saved us from a snake and is on the lookout for a turtle to save.  Poor Fletcher fell hard on his arm yesterday so we are still icing it and hope he gets back to animal rescuing soon.  

12. Blooming landscape!  It makes me so happy to see our landscaping thriving and not looking so new.

13. Double braids.  Olive requested that I learn how to do this for her this week.  I'm pretty pleased with the results!  She's got the prettiest hair.

14. King Leo.  No one loves a recliner more than him.

15. Crumbl Cookies.  Kevin took the big kids out to grab some cookies for dessert one night.  They picked out a yummy mix.  They were sad that there weren't more iced cookie options, but we devoured this assortment.  If you go to Crumbl - make sure you are earning rewards.  They add up fast!

16. Now that Leo is 4, running errands is fun and mostly easy.  Old Navy made his day this week with this fire safety set up.

17. Lunch dates make me smile!  We squeezed in one more lunch date before Summer with our favorite person - Jacque - at our favorite spot - Jason's Deli.

18. School!  The kids have packed in field trips, fun runs, fundraisers, dress up days and foam parties during their last few weeks of school.  We've got one more busy week before Summer break.

Have a wonderful weekend!  See you back here on Monday!

Linking up with Momfessionals