Toys | Our favorites + Mommy Style Monday

August 29, 2016
As a mom, I feel like I'm stuck in the middle of one of those big ball pits they used to have at McDonalds, but instead of balls, it's toys. If you're a mom, I'm sure you can relate.

Why my kiddos need so many toys, I don't know, and how we keep accumulating toys when I regularly go through and throw out or giveaway the ones we don't use anymore, is a total mystery. In fact, poor Alexa didn't even get any real toys for her birthday because we are practically swimming in them (she got a book and some homemade sock puppets instead #momoftheyear).

Anyway, when it comes to toys and interests, I feel like my kids have A MILLION! And they go through phases, although there are a few that hold true like coloring, painting, playing pretend with beanie babies, and the doll house that was mine when I was a kid. But the best toys are the ones that mom and dad have an interest in playing with, too, because when it comes to play time, most kid's favorite toys are their parents.

So here are a few of our favorite toys to play with together:

DUPLO LEGOS | MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS - we like to create farms, make towns, towers, sort colors, etc. and who doesn't want to be a part of a band?

MARBLE RUNNER - seriously. so fun.

BOOKS - my kids love a good story and this 5 minute star wars story book is definitely one that I don't mind reading often!

PAINTING | ART - we like to paint with water colors, or just color with crayons. it's especially fun when we draw pictures for other people!

BLOCK TRAIN - Barrett loves sucking on all the different shape, color, and size blocks and it's fun for the older girls to switch up the blocks and wheel it around, too!


ACTION FIGURES | BEANIE BABIES - i love listening to their imaginations and different voices as they play with + speak for their little characters and be honest... you still have your beanie babies, don't you?

One thing that CAN NOT be denied is how much fun it is to watch your kids play and to have a good time, but that "good time" part doesn't always apply, as was apparent this weekend at Chelsea's first soccer game.

This pic seriously CRACKS ME UP! You never know how your kiddo's going to react to a new situation! It wasn't too long ago that this reaction to the game that Andrew and I both love more than any other would have got me down, but that's a post for another day. Let's just say, my expectations aren't set to "perfect" anymore, and that's been good for me and my daughter.

As for the "Mommy Style" part of this post, I'd say the best style you can sport when playing with your kids is your bright-eyed smile (or goofy face), because kids don't care what you're wearing. All they care about is that you're present and that you're making time for them exclusively. They grow so quickly, and someday, they're not going to want to play with Legos or marble runners anymore. Don't look at playtime as an inconvenience or an interruption of the projects you want to get done. Appreciate those moments and make them happen. I know I'm going to try harder to do that this week, and I invite you to join in with me!

I do have to say that these overalls are def one of my staple pieces and perfect for playtime with all those pockets! I'm a fan.

Now before you get all choked up and teary-eyed and rush to your kid's room to demand that they play with you RIGHT NOW, stop by these other lovely mama's blogs and see what they have to say about their kiddos and toys!

And if you want to join in on the collaboration next time, be sure to stop by Kiana or Madeline's blogs to signup! It's really fun. You should do it.

Good luck this week! Hopefully it's full of fun and quality time with your family because put those two things together, and you've got Heaven.

Finished! | Barrett's Nursery Reveal

August 27, 2016

It's finished and I LOVE it! This room is, without a doubt, the favorite in our house.

I put in a lot of time, effort, and love into this room's completion, but not a lot of cash! Most everything (seriously) was DIY'd in one way or another to help me save money and make it look exactly the way I wanted.

This nursery has become a serene refuge for me and Barrett. Coming in to feed him in the early morning when I'm still a little groggy is almost a treat now! Almost... ;)

I walk in here and I feel like I walk through an invisible veil that brushes all of my troubles off of my shoulders as I walk through. It's so peaceful.

N U R S E R Y  D E T A I L S :
Paint Color | Valspar-Gray Repose
"Little Cub" Wooden Bear Cutout | Desert Twig
Twin Falls Temple Print | Alexa Z Design
Maternity and Newborn photography | Mariasha Rowland Photography
Frames | updated from thrift store
Pillowcase | Sue
Crib Sheet | DIY
Little Bear artwork | Amy Hamilton
"The Mountains are Calling" Print | Print Post
Forest Bear print |Sue
BEAR with Arrows print |Sue
Black and White Photo of Barrett | Sue
Lamp | Target
Changing Pad Cover | DIY
Clock | Walmart
Circle Mirror | DIY
Circle greenery | Hobby Lobby
Curtains | DIY

*All items marked "DIY" mean a tutorial is coming!*

I couldn't pick a favorite piece in this room. Maybe the "Little Cub" wooden bear cutout from Desert Twig that started the whole reformation, or maybe the Little Cub artwork by Amy Hamilton. But those curtains were definitely a labor of love and that circle mirror was SO simple but is perfect for the space.

N U R S E R Y  P H O T O G R A P H Y  C/O  K C  F I L M  A N D  P H O T O

Regardless of which piece is my favorite, I feel that they all come together to make this room exactly how I envisioned it. A HUGE thank you to Desert Twig for inspiring this nursery makeover with her "Little Cub" Wooden Bear Cutout, and to a very loving and supportive husband who never stops believing in me and encouraging me to be creative! Barrett now has a room where he can feel safe and *hopefully* retain that sense of wonder I see every time I look into his eyes. I love you my Little Cub!


Why I stopped apologizing to strangers for my toddler

August 22, 2016
Photos taken and post originally written July 16, 2016

It may be hard to believe ;) but when this girl was two, it was rough, friends. Really rough. It's easy to look back and laugh at now, but at the time, it was not. funny. I mean, add a new, de-throning sibling to all the emotional turmoil of being a two-year-old and you've got a mess. I felt like I was constantly apologizing to other moms for my daughter hitting theirs, taking their toys, giving them mean looks, ignoring them, and whatever else she was doing.

The worst was when she started biting. There was one time that I was worried that Alexa's finger would never work right again after Chelsea had bit it. It was that bad.

What was worse - well, more like equally bad - was the time she bit her cousin. They were playing and there was some kind of disagreement over toys and Chelsea bit her sweet little cousin hard enough to draw blood. I was horrified, embarrassed, lost, devastated, even ashamed of myself as a parent. I thought I had ruined my child somehow and that she would grow up to be a bully and never have any friends.

And my sister-in-law would have been totally justified in having a few words for me, or at least an increase in distance between us. But you know what? She didn't do any of that. You know what she did instead? She comforted me. And it wasn't even the type of comfort that was like "Oh, Susan. I'm so sorry that happened! It's rough having a two-year-old!" It was the type of comfort that made it clear that she had forgiven me and my daughter even before the event happened. She said to me something I will never forget. She said, "It's a hazard of being a toddler!"

I. Was. Shocked.

I shouldn't have been because Brooke is a total saint, but I thought for sure her Mama Bear was gonna come out. Well, it must have been hibernating in the cave because it never came. And mind you! This wasn't her fourth or fifth child that Chelsea bit, this was her very first.

It finally became clear to me at that moment that my daughter was just a two-year-old trying to make sense of her crazy life. She wasn't a monster or a bad kid. She was just a toddler, and situations like these are a hazard of being a toddler.

Now I'm not saying that we should just let our kids run rampant, biting whoever they see on the street (and you probably should apologize to the other parent if your kid has hurt theirs), but I don't think we need to go apologizing to the strangers in the store or on the street for every inconvenience and every nicety our toddlers forget. Our responsibility as parents isn't to be ashamed of them, to have a look of disapproval plastered to our faces as a default, interrupted on occasion by a sigh of exasperation for yet another inconvenience. Our responsibility is to teach them what is right and what is wrong. They don't come hard-wired with that intelligence. They do come with amazing potential and room to learn and grow, if those closest to them show them the way.

Being a parent is super hard. SUPER hard. A lot of people who aren't parents don't get that and some people who were parents but haven't been for YEARS forget that. They might look at  you disapprovingly, they might judge you, they might turn their noses up at you, they might even say something to you, but you know what I say?

Nothing. Because what I would like to say to them would be totally inappropriate.

So I'm done apologizing to you when my kid yells in the grocery store. I'm done apologizing to you when my kid turns from yelling to having a total meltdown on the floor. I'm done apologizing to you for behavior that comes from being a toddler. If an apology needs to be made, it will be made to the person that has been the direct victim of the "crime" and it will be delivered by the perpetrator. I don't want my daughter to grow up thinking that her mother is ashamed of her and talks behind her back. I do want her to grow up knowing that she is accountable for her actions and that it's important to make up for the things she does wrong.

My daughter, though, at times can be difficult, trying, extremely energetic (like, all the time), particular, and passionate is also beautiful, thoughtful, giving, kind, and still learning. And if you have a problem with it, I apologize that it's been so long since you've had an amazing little girl like her in your life.


Service Ideas for you and your Toddler | Yellow Quakies

August 19, 2016
the honey bear on the table has absolutely nothing to do with this post.
This post has been compensated by Yellow Quakies. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

A few weeks ago, Chelsea had kinda a rough day at church. It's true! She has those days, believe-it-or-not. ;) I was sitting in the third hour of my church meetings (Relief Society) and I heard wailing out in the hall. Of course, I recognized it as my daughter's, so I went out there to take care of things. Chelsea was sitting on her teacher's lap, her arms restrained, screaming her head off. I mean, this was wailing and gnashing-of-teeth-level, guys.

Turned out that Chelsea lost it because she really wanted to sit by her little friend in class, but her teacher (who had been suffering from a migraine all weekend, poor woman!) had said no because they were disrupting the class, and that was just totally unacceptable to Chelsea that day!

As you can imagine, I was feeling pretty bad for the teacher, and I felt like if I didn't do something, this experience would turn Chelsea against her teacher and put a HUGE strain on the relationship to the point where we'd have these kind of meltdowns weekly. So I decided that Chelsea and I would do something about it!

photo c/o Chelsea's teacher who still doesn't know it was us! shhhhhhh...

We heart-attacked her! Well, it wasn't totally a heart-attack because Chelsea wanted stars and flowers, and suns, too. The funny looking little man was my idea :)

Chelsea and I had such a great time drawing the shapes, cutting them out, and writing nice things on them, then sneaking up to their house to tape them to the house, and Chelsea ESPECIALLY loved ringing the doorbell and running away as fast as we could! We walked home, piggy-back, with huge smiles on our faces and warmth in our hearts.

I decided that I wanted to experience that warmth with Chelsea more often and so, have made it a Sunday tradition! I call it "Service Sunday!"

The hardest part of Service Sunday is coming up with the service activity. Luckily, I know a number of fabulous moms (you fabulous moms in my FB mom support group!) and @servetogether who helped me out! So here are a couple of ideas that I came up with myself, + some from my mom friends!

Heart-Attack someone's door

Bake cookies for someone

Color a picture for someone
Write a letter to someone - we have a couple of cousins on missions we love to write to!
Make a "Just Because" card for someone (click for printable front and inside - print front, then flip paper over to print the inside)

my printer wasn't working for some reason, but i wasn't going to let THAT stop us!

Go visit a nursing home
Go to a food pantry
Take flowers to someone
Take sandwiches to the homeless, or just sit and talk a while
Have a FREE lemonade stand!

So often it's not how you serve, but who you serve. Try doing some of these projects for your local police department! Those guys have been catching A LOT of flack recently.

I'll definitely put some activities on repeat, but I also don't want it to get old.

This necklace from Yellow Quakies will forever be a reminder for me and my kids (especially Chelsea) that when we give service, our hearts are full.

Good luck this week, friends! Go find someone to serve, and make sure to stop by Yellow Quakies - @yellowquakies - to say hello and see what else she has available! I am currently crushing on her Custom Couple pieces!

P.S. Chelsea was WONDERFUL in class the next week!

Best friends and Rattlesnakes!

August 16, 2016

With all these back-to-school posts on social media, I'm really feeling the end of summer coming on and the urgency to get everything on my summer checklist checked off! One thing I have not done NEARLY enough of is hiking. So I grabbed my bestie and we went to Fernwood for a quick hike!

The most exciting part of the hike was definitely our encounter with the rattlesnake!!! I had my camera out and just so happened to capture the moment our party met with grumpy guy! I just thought I was getting a good shot with the trees and the trail tunnel it made, buuuuuuut...

I was more worried about getting Alexa (who I picked up) and Barrett safely past the snake than seeing what he looked like. All I needed was to hear the rattle to know that he meant business! *shivers*

We didn't have any more encounters after that and a few bikers rode past us going the opposite direction (towards the snake) who I think scared the snake away so we didn't see him on our way back (thank goodness!)

We only went as far as the creek where the kids took off their shoes and socks to wade in the water a bit, then it was back down to the cars for snacks and a group pic! Yay for tripods!

Best friends are precious and our friendship is almost 3 years old! Time really does fly! Love you VanWagoner Family!!!

would you believe me if I told you we only took one shot of us all together? not bad for the first and only try, right?

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