Easter 2016

As we drove to mass this morning, Baylor and Auggs each told us what Easter meant. They talked about how Jesus died because He loves us so much. How He opened the gates of Heaven and then how He rose from the dead. It was so sweet to hear them speak about our faith so perfectly.

After yet another amazing brunch at my mom’s, we headed over to her friend and neighbor’s house. Joyce offered up her yard for an egg hunt. It was like being in a secret garden!

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Spring has Sprung

Ever since we moved last summer, I’ve been dying to have a garden again. Our lettuce table didn’t make the move (I’m still not sure why. And I’m still waiting on my replacement…ahem, PETER) so I have been without home grown veggies for too many months.

Now, finally after many weeks of building, stucco, planning, redoing, planting and fertilizing – the garden is growing! And it looks amazing. Every time I catch a glimpse of this space, it makes me so happy.

While this is not the true true before, it’s enough of a before for this post. Imagine no stucco and very 1970’s ugly brown cement block…

My helper was not excited for the camera. He was ready to work. And by work, I mean move dirt from one side to the other.

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Aaaaannnddd the after!!

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There are four new roses – three gifts from my mom – she hand picked not only the color but the scent. I’m so excited for the blooms. One is a Pope John Paul II white rose and the one at the nursery was amazing.

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See that little pod under the bloom? It’s a Praying Mantis pod. I’m hoping they hatch and keep the aphids away…we’ll see if it works.

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I’m a little obsessed with the obelisk. If you need one, I got these at A Rustic Garden. Good prices and fast shipping. They are making a happy home for two kinds of grape tomatoes including Sweet 100’s – my favorites. There’s also Swiss Chard and mixed greens lettuce coming up. IMG_9207

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I honestly forget how much I love Orange Blossoms. Every year, the first sniff of their scent reminds me – and it’s the most welcome memory. We will have Arizona Sweet and Valencia oranges this Thanksgiving. There’s also a small Meyer Lemon in the raised beds that will provide some shade in the summer.

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One of the lone survivors of our backyard re-landscaping was this Pomegranate tree. It was a bit neglected, but after a good trim and lots of fertilizer, it’s full of blooms. And hopefully lots of fruit too.

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Organized Living: Catch It All

Any time I flip through a magazine or catalog, I always sigh when I see neatly organized “catch all” or mud rooms. I love the idea of having a place to house all the stuff needed for activities, school and life.

This is our finished catch all and I love it. It makes clean up easy (ok, slightly easier) because everyone can put their bags, gear and or reminders in one space. Plus there’s not back packs and soccer balls every where. Or at least in theory.

This bench is an antique that has been in our house since I was little. It sort of floats around rooms, but it always works. The mirrors and the baskets are Target. And the shelf is courtesy of Peter and his amazing carpentry skills.

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I love the baskets. They make storage so pretty. And yes, having a crap basket is totally necessary.

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One organized living solution that keeps my sanity is to have a bag for each activity. Swim, dance, soccer, softball – all of them get a bag. Then at the end of each game or practice, all the crap goes back into the bag. That way there’s at least a fighting chance of finding soccer balls and TWO shin guards.

And that orange bag? Is a life saver! It has pockets surrounding the inside and the wide opening means everything is easily accessable. It’s called The Game Day Tote from Simply Steph’s Monograms on Etsy. Tell her I sent you when you order yours.

Need ideas for your mud room? Head on over to Pinterest and get ready to lose a few hours. All you need is a little space and some imagination – now get organized!

Rockin’ and Rollin’ 2016

When you live near the Rock and Roll Marathon route, you can either try to get around the marathon, run it, or find away to enjoy it! We chose the last option and joined our friends, the B Family, for their annual water station. They are literally on the route so they are blocked in – which is a great excuse to hand out water and turn it into a party.

We rode our bikes over to their house and realized that this was a well oiled machine. Tables with cups and a system for filling and then refilling the water jugs was in place. Not to mention a great spread of breakfast and bloody marys for the volunteers. It wasn’t long until the first few runners came by, then the big waves came. It was so neat seeing the various kinds of runners – everyone was working hard. The sweetest thing was that so many runners not only slowed down, but some stopped to take the water from the kids and thank them for being there to cheer and hydrate. It was so cute to see the excitement on the kids faces.

Cutest helpers ever

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The waiting

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Someone has to drink the champs and bloodies

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Working hard!

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Towards the end, the kids handed out little candies too. It was a very sought after position

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Congratulations to everyone that ran! And thank you to all the runners who took time to say thank you, you made a lot of little kids very happy!

Lazy Gurl Curl

For years I have been trying to perfect “the wave” “the uncurled, curl” “the beach wave”. You know what I mean. That I just left the beach and my hair looks a-mazing! kind of curl.

But without all the, like, work.

Somehow last year, I finally made it work. And honestly, it was sheer laziness. It was summer, it was 115* and I was trying to do something with my wig. After I let it down, I realized that it had curled kind of…cute. With a little perfecting on my twisting and clipping, I had the perfect recipe for The Lazy Gurl Curl.

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Not too shabby, right? And not one curling iron used.

Here’s the how to:

  1. Use a shampoo and conditioner that are moisturizing. I love Wen, but Pantene will do in a pinch.
  2. Dry your hair as normal, round brushing the roots for volume.
  3. Put a small amount of leave in conditioner in the ends – I like the Wen leave in or even a detangling spray will work. Anything that adds a little moisture and some conditioner back in.
  4. Twist hair and then into a loose bun, right where your scull and spine meet (better known as your occipital ridge for all the yogis). Secure with a claw clip. This is the tricky part because it can leave a kink in your hair so be careful to clip it at the bottom of the bun.
  5. Leave in place for about an hour. Remove the clip, shake out curls, a little hairspray – voila! Curls without the heat.

Hanging Memories

When we were first married, we had the skinniest, fake Christmas tree. It was this sad little thing, but it was in the budget. I added big strands of garland to it to beef it up and disguise the fact that we didn’t have many ornaments.

See what I mean? (And yes, that is snow outside! Kind of miss that. For like a second.)

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Every year since, I have bought an ornament with the year on it and popped our Christmas card picture into it. It’s so fun decorating the tree  and pulling out those sweet memories. The little faces, furry faces and younger faces  – all of them holding a little story of what life was like when they were created.

I’ve got the process down to a science now – as soon as I upload our Christmas card picture, I have one printed on ShutterFly in wallet size. Then I order the yearly ornament from Pottery Barn. I love the simplicity of the frame and how they are just a little different each year.

I think the part I love the most is when Auggie walks around the tree and exclaims “There’s me! There’s you, Baylor! There’s all of us!!”. It’s perfect.

And now that we have legit school pictures, I think we might need to start a new tradition with those…

So the Christmas tree this year is a bit better than that first tree…we had a very Griswold moment picking it out, getting it home and then getting it to stay upright. I still have sap on my hands.

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The one that started it all

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And finally the newest addition

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Firehouse Fun

Our family was treated to a personal tour of a Mesa Fire Department Firehouse this weekend – and it was amazing! Mike, a friend and college of Peter’s, invited us over when he heard that Auggie was having a firefighter themed birthday. I think Auggie was equal parts excited and nervous.

Mike rolled out the red carpet showing us all around the firehouse, introducing us to the other firefighters and giving us the inside scoop on how it all functions. We then got to go check out the truck, including a quick ride around to the back of the station (headsets and all!) where the kids took turns with the fire hose.

Mike also showed us how much gear he has to put on – and in under 2 minutes. Holy moly, it’s a lot. I can’t imagine walking around with 45 pounds of hot, heavy gear on…let alone fight a fire!

Look at those smiles

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Here’s the thing, we were only one of two tours going on. If you think your kiddo would love to visit the fire house, give your local station a call. They will let you know the best days and times – they seem to really enjoy educating people – and kids- on how the fire station works and fire safety. In fact, when Mike was in his full gear, mask and all, he made a point of talking to each person in each of the tours. It was a good lesson for all the kids that that is what firefighters look like in an emergency and not to be afraid of them. It was a fun an educational way to spend a Sunday morning!

Organized Living: The Play Room

I was so excited when we moved to the new house and decided to keep our kiddos in the same room and use the second room as a play room. I liked that they would have a bedroom that was for sleeping, reading and resting – and a play room that could be a total disaster that I could shut the door on.

But alas, I can’t just shut the door. My hatred for all things cluttered, disorganized and messy, drives me to rally the kids into cleaning up the room daily. I can’t stand the clutter, the craziness! I think everyone in our house is all too familiar with my screeching demand for help to clean up.

I do have a rule that if I have to help clean up, I throw things away. The panic that arises when one of the kids sees me put something in my pocket as it’s destined for the trash, usually spurs them into working faster…but not better. So I added some details to the play room that will hopefully help them be able to keep their toys organized and make clean up easier.

I used these hanging storage racks from Target. They make cubes that fit in the drawers too that looked really nice, but I went with transparent bins with lids instead. I could only picture every bin being pulled out to discover what was inside…They work great because lots of different things fit in the spaces.

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Next I took a picture of what was in each bin. I printed them in 3×5 size and wrote the name of the items inside for Baylor. She is amazing at memorizing words when she sees the definition in pictures.

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I also used the labels inside of the fabric bins in the playroom.

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I think there are two ways you can organize the playroom – or any other kid space in your house: with or without your kids. Today’s project was done without them home. It allowed me to clean out some things and save my sanity by being able to quickly sort toys and have them actually stay where I put them. I take a trash bag and a “give away” bag in with me and as I clean, I sort. If you are worried about them noticing that something is missing, hide the bag in the closet for a few days. Or if you’re like me, you blame their disappearance on moving.

If you are feeling brave and want to clean up clean out with your kids, talk about what the goal of the process is before you start. When Baylor was little, we talked a lot about how not all kids have toys like she does. We talked about how it was important to care for those less fortunate and one of the ways we can do that is by donating some of our toys. We never ask them to give away anything they really love, but we do ask them to consider whether or not they think that toy could make a child who has no toys, happy. I’m always surprised by both kid’s willingness to part with dolls, toys and games in the name of helping someone else. I always let them deliver the bag to the donation site too to complete the process.

Good luck and happy organizing!

Spooktackular Crafts

While looking for ideas for Auggie’s birthday party on Pinterest, I randomly came across the cutest Halloween craft. I’m a sucker for hand and footprint art. But I tend to leave those to the kid’s schools because paint on feet and hands gives me anxiety.

Despite my apprehension,  I was feeling ambitious so I took the picture of the craft and the kids to Michael’s to get our supplies. The kids were surprisingly good and happy to help gather up what we needed. They (generally) cooperated when it came to putting their hands and feet in the right place and they (sort of) listened when I told them not to touch the wet canvases. Overall? A win! And the end product came out pretty cute!

When we were getting ready to paint their feet, I asked Baylor how they do it at school – did they dip their hands into the paint or did the teachers brush it on? She concluded that most of the teachers would brush it on. Auggie then chimed in with “Mommy? Mommy? At mine school, when we are painting….they no let me put my hands in the paint.” I couldn’t stop laughing. He wanted so badly to contribute to the conversation.

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So their high arches and “sleepy” toes made for some funny prints, but I think they’re pretty cute! Want to give it a go? Here’s what you’ll need:

1 8oz bottle of multi-surface acrylic paint in Black and Orange

1 2oz bottle of multi-surface acrylic paint in Green and White

1 Spool of festive ribbon

Paint pens in Black and Orange. (I couldn’t find orange so I just used paint. It’s doable, but it takes a lot longer)

3 8×10 canvases

Glitter paint for decorating

Sponge brushes

Small paint brushes

Paper plates and news paper

Towels and small tub of soapy water

Start by painting the background on the three canvases. This is a great place to let the kids help. Ours took two coats with about 20 minutes of drying in between. Let dry overnight.

When you’re ready to do the hand and foot prints, on clean feet / hands, use a sponge brush to coat the whole bottom of the foot. You will need to use more paint than you think – really coat it. Then standing, have your kiddo put their foot on the canvas and hold still while you push down on each toe and the edges of the foot. Be careful not to let the foot slide around. When each foot or hand is done, dunk it in the soapy water (Baylor told me this little detail of school crafting AFTER we were done…). Let all hand and foot prints dry over night.

Start decorating! Add in wording, spider webs, glitter – whatever you want!  Hot glue the ribbon to the back, tie it in a bow and voila! Instant holiday memories. Have fun!

October Babies

Just like June in our house, October is crazy! Not only is our social calendar packed, we get to celebrate Peter and Auggie’s birthdays. And because they are back to back (literally) it’s a little nutty trying to get it all in.

We celebrated Peter being older than me (we’re the same age for about 4 months a year) again with his favorite Funfetti cake and dinner out. We sat at Steak 44, studied the menu and strategized on who would order what so that we would get the full spectrum of the steak house’s offerings. Shrimp cocktail, ribeye steak, onion strings, creamed spinach, crab legs and chocolate chip bread pudding were all absolutely delicious! A birthday celebration to remember.

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We planned a Fireman themed party for Auggie the following day to celebrate this guy – the big 3!

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The kiddos got to cover their fire helmets with stickers. Then they raced outside to an emergency – chalk flames that they got to put out with squirt guns. It was a huge hit! The remnants of the chalk flames are going to require a little more elbow grease to get off though. Peter pointed out AFTER I had drawn all over the wall –  “maybe you should have tested it to make sure it will come off”. Yes, that would have been smart. Now we’ll just pick a paint color faster…IMG_8961

And what good party doesn’t have a fire truck pinata?? And when the little guys can’t get it open, you bring in the softball team.

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The struggle to blow out the candles is real, my friends.

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I love this picture. He was absolutely perfect for the party. Honestly, a parent couldn’t ask for more – he was happy, excited, friendly – he was having an amazing time! But hold him back from his ice cream cake? Sh*t gets real, real quick.

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Happy birthday my October men. I can’t wait to celebrate 100 more with each of you!