Tuesday, September 30, 2008

dirty faces

Today's Works for Me Wednesday over at Rocks in My Dryer is the kitchen edition. It took me quite awhile to think about exactly what I wanted to share. I then realized that I think my kitchen could be a lot more functional and organized (surprising, I know!) I've had fun already looking through some of the tips and tricks others have shared and will be sure to add to my getting-longer-everyday list of things to do around here!

So, to join in, I thought I would share a simple, but useful tip I use in my kitchen with my grubby little babies after meal times. I got this idea from a friend of mine (thanks, Tash!) and considered it pure genius, but yet so simple! I keep a stack of baby washcloths in my kitchen towel and washcloth drawer. Most of these are just the cheapy kinds of washcloths or ones that need to be retired from bath tub time. I grab one of these after meal time to wipe down hands and faces of the little ones without wasting gobs of paper towels and avoiding the use of a dirty dishrag (ew!). I usually rinse it out, hang it up, and reuse it again for another meal that same day. At the end of the day, I throw it in the wash and start over with a fresh one in the morning!

This works for me (and my kiddos). What works for you in the kitchen? Check out more ideas here.

Monday, September 29, 2008

tackling the hiding spot

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

The last few weeks I have been quite distracted with "fun things" and have neglected the way my house looks. Now, I'm usually pretty good at making it look presentable and deceiving ones eyes (I've got me some nooks and crannies), so I'm going to be fessing up and admitting my hideaway spot. Every night before bed (OK, most nights before bed) my husband and I straighten up the living room area and put away toys (by put away, I mean toss in the play room) and I clean the kitchen right down to putting the dishes in the dishwasher. I have to do it no matter how late it is, so that the next morning the first thing I see when I walk into the kitchen to "fix" breakfast is cleanliness. It's a good way to start my day off on a good note.

See, that's all well and good, but I have this habit. A habit of piles (anyone relate?). I shift things around a lot from one pile to the next until it finally finds its home. Most times, when I need to hide a pile altogether it goes into the bedroom. The ONE room in the house that my guests are not allowed! Why? Because...here's my honesty - it's usually a mess! Seriously. My husband hates it, and I hate it, but sadly enough it just happens. So, for today's Tackle it Tuesday hosted by 5 Minutes for Mom, I finally did it...I tackled the heaping mound of stuff that cluttered the corner desk that we just transferred into our bedroom (the one desk we vowed we wouldn't use as a place to pile things). During the kids' naps, I forced (yes, forced) myself to stay in the room until I got it done. Not only did I tackle the corner desk, but I also cleared off our dresser...again (trust me this time it was worse!), cleaned off the bathroom sink area, changed the bed sheets, sorted laundry, and filed papers. Wow! I was stuck in there for an hour and a half (the longest my son has napped in weeks), so obviously it was meant to be for me to get this done. Now, I just wish my piles of laundry weren't still sitting there. On my FIRST load, our washing machine went hay-wire and is not all out of whack and the hubby will be calling the serviceman in the morning. Oh well, at least I attempted it, right?

ugh..so embarrassing!

ahhh...much better

What did you tackle today? For more Tuesday Tacklers, head on over to 5 Minutes for Mom.

our birthday boy

We celebrated Austin's 1st birthday over the weekend with a monkey-themed party with close friends and family. Unfortunately, Austin had been fighting off a bug at the beginning of the week and was still feeling a little bit crummy on Saturday (despite being checked out at the doctor on Friday as "just fine"). We think he may be going through some teething issues, along with a little bit of separation anxiety. To say the least, he wasn't exactly the life of the party, but we celebrated and loved on him anyway. It was HIS special day and there's nothing I could do about his lack of cooperation and chipperness (and for those who know how I like for things to be perfect, know that having kids is streeetttchhinng me all the time with my perfectionist tendencies). We were so blessed by the thoughtfulness of the gifts, cards, and love that our friends and family gave our son. He is blessed to have so many caring people in his life!

happy birthday little man!

we discovered he didn't care much for chocolate...interesting

it was such a beautiful day, we opened gifts outside

one of the few times he was loving the party!

Austin's actual birthday breakfast
a trip to the park to do one of his favorite things...
that boy loves to swing!

brother and sister - how sweet

later that night, we tried again with the cupcake, but it was still a "no go"
Our sweet boy, thank you for blessing us with the beauty of who you are. We love you today more than ever...it just keeps growing.

going bananas!

We celebrated our son's 1st birthday this last weekend with a monkey-themed party, which turned into more like a banana bonanza! I had a lot of fun preparing for his special day and trying to think of just the right touches to make his day extra special...not like he would notice, but it's fun for me to do! My favorite part of decorating for a party is primarily the food table and having fun food that goes with the theme. I also enjoy putting together just the right party favor for our guests as a "thanks for coming"! I learned my lesson from my daughter's ladybug-themed birthday party in April and made sure to take a lot of pictures of the table decorations and favors this time around. (I'm still feeling bummed that I only got a picture of the cupcakes.) I didn't do much other decorating since I'm trying to get better at "making it simple" and saving a few bucks in the process (shhh... don't tell our son that he didn't get a birthday present from his parents on his 1st birthday!) I even avoided the last minute rush to the party store for a matching tablecloth and balloons. I ended up saying to myself, it's not worth it (and for me, that's a great feat!) It turned out to be a gorgeous day, so we got to do a lot outside. And, despite Austin feeling a little crummy and acting a little crabby, it was still a great get together with some close friends and family to help celebrate our little monkey's 1st birthday.

this was on the front door for people to see as they entered the party
(Austin is going to be a monkey for Halloween)

homemade birthday banner
(not the best of pictures, but it fell down before I could take another one...
and I wasn't about to hang it back up just for a picture!)

I love decorating cupcakes to go with the party theme!

a unique perspective of the food table
party food included: banana chips, banana split Oreos (I know!),
homemade monkey mix (aka Chex Mix), homemade monkey munch (aka YUMMY!),
chocolate covered frozen banana bits, along with banana runts and banana Laffy Taffy

I feel sorry for the guests who did not care for bananas, but I just had to do it!

party favor for toddlers included a monkey face plate and snack cup, monkey tattoos, monkey finger puppet, monkey pencils, banana Laffy Taffy, and monkey lollipop
party favors for babies included a monkey face plate and snack cup (with Gerber banana puffs), monkey finger puppet, and Gerber banana shaped-flavored cookies
I also sent each family home with some homemade banana bread

Now that the party is over, I'm getting back to rifling through the piles of paper that are beginning to consume me! Plus, I have so many other fun things I would like to share. My creative juices don't ever stop, but I feel like there's never enough time!

a chance to win!

For those who didn't know I also blog a little bit over here at HB Creative Design (my creative outlet). My newest creative endeavor has been designing photo cards. This week I'm participating in my first giveaway over at The Tip Spot, a fun little blog that offers tips from everyday fun, how to get veggies into your and your children's diet, and storage solutions. They are doing a giveaway this week to help promote their site, so go on over and enter to win one of three prizes and I'm one of them! So exciting! And don't forget to spread the word!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

one year...in a blink of an eye

One year ago today, we welcomed our sweet baby boy into this world and into our family. What a blessing it was to hold him in our arms on that very special day for the first time of many. I remember feeling so overwhelmed and so blessed that there was this sweet baby boy that was given to us by God for us to take care of for the rest of his life. I love every day that we have with him and all of the new things that shows he is growing up...although a little too quickly, I might add.

Happy Birthday my sweet Austin boy.

September 28, 2007

September 28, 2008

Many pictures to come of his fun birthday weekend!

Friday, September 26, 2008

calling all card lovers

You know how there is a special day set aside for just about everything? Well, for all of us card makers, World Card Making Day is on Saturday, October 4th. I didn't know this day existed until I was checking out one of my favorite inspirational craft blogs, Little Birdie Secrets. In honor of this fun, crafty day they will be holding a virtual card swap at their site on Saturday, October 4th. All you have to do is make ONE card, take a picture of it, and send it to littlebirdiesecrets@gmail.com by Wednesday, October 1st. For complete details, check it out here.

Here are some of my favorite cards that I have made in the past. I can't wait to come up with something new and fun for the card swap. You can be as simple (like me) or as detailed as you want. Join in the fun and see what you can create!

our "little" pumpkin

2 years ago for Halloween we dressed Mikayla up as a pumpkin...

Mikayla - 6 months

Today, she found the costume and decided to try it on...

Mikayla - 2 1/2 years

Happy pumpkin season everyone!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

leaving a legacy

There are 4 very important people in my life. Of course, I have many others who I have been blessed by in my life, but today is all about these special four...my grandparents. For the last 30 years, I have been lucky to live in the same town (or neighboring town) with my grandparents. Two amazing couples who have so much love for each other, for others, and most importantly for God. They have been an essential part of me growing up and I have many fond memories of the times we have been able to spend together. These four inspirations of how to live a life for God and for others are leaving a legacy very few can accomplish. Those who know them, will not hesitate to agree.

Today, my Grandpa Ankeny lies in a hospital bed recovering from a stroke early this morning. I can't help but hold tightly to the memories we've had and only pray and hope that there will be many more to come.

Mikayla & Austin with Grandpa & Grandma Ankeny

Mikayla & Austin with Grandpa & Grandma Johnson

What a gift I've been given...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

let the pictures do the talking

Just a couple more pictures to show from our beach trip last week (the last ones, I promise!) and in honor of Wordless Wednesday, I'll keep it short and simple and let the pictures do the talking.

Fun times with family and friends!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

homemade apple fries

Have you heard of the new apple fries over at Burger King? On a recent trip for a splurge, I decided to give them a try for Mikayla instead of french fries to go with her 4-piece chicken nuggets. I talked them up quite a bit on our way through the drive up and she was so excited about them! However, I was quite surprised that they were $1.50 (yikes!) and that they were in a plastic bag shoved into a french fry pod. What was I expecting? (Although, I do admit they actually looked like french fries.) They came with a side of caramel sauce, but I chose not to tell Mikayla that. No need for a sugar high! Since that day every time we drive by a Burger King, she shouts out "apple fries"!

While making lunch the other day, I thought of an idea. Why not make my own homemade apple fries? The biggest reluctancy was that I didn't want to go to all the trouble of actually cutting the apple up by hand. Then I remembered that I oftentimes make homemade hashbrowns using my Pampered Chef Ultimate Slice & Grate. Perfect. I peeled the apple, sliced them, and served them up for lunch. Not only was Mikayla surprised and happy, but I liked them, too. It felt like I was actually eating french fries. I kind of thought the apple even tasted better than a cut up or sliced one. Also, it was a hit with Austin! They were so easy for him to eat. I think I will be making apple fries quite a bit around this house.

This is what works for me! To find out other tips and tricks check out Works for Me Wednesday over at Rocks in My Dryer.

Christmas time coming soon

Well, actually there is 93 days left.

You're probably thinking....are you serious??

I know, I know.

I truly don't want time to fade away from now to then...

But I really do want the coming Christmas season to be a fun and stress-free one this year and I would like to actually accomplish and do all of the fun things that I have always wanted to do during this busy time of year. So, in my attempt to get myself organized and thinking ahead, (although I realize it's early, but it's never too early to be organized, right?), I have hooked up with the 100 Days to Christmas challenge where daily they will give you a challenge to get yourself more prepared for the holiday season. For more details, go see for yourself!

Monday, September 22, 2008

more fun at the beach...a family walk

Yep, you guessed it...more beach pictures!! I promise, I'll be wrapping these up soon.

On Tuesday afternoon after nap time (or, I should say after Austin's nap...Mikayla decided naps weren't for her during our 2 day stay). We went for a walk with just the four of us. Mikayla had been talking about the beach so much and despite the lousy weather on Tuesday, we attempted another trip to see the sand and the waves. Our "quick trip" to the beach earlier that day had been full of cold faces and rising water, so we had to cut it short.

There is just something special about spending some time together as a family. The short time we had at the beach gave us the chance to slow down and enjoy being together without adding all of the busy-ness of our day to day lives into it. I loved taking a walk together in the surroundings of the ocean scenery. Mikayla is at the age of curiosity and everything seems to intrigue her, so her walk was at a leisurely pace and in no hurry at all, which of course, reminded us to slow down and take it all in, as well. Just the sound of the waves lit up her face with excitement. I sometimes don't cherish this joy enough in these days of her sweet innocence. Austin enjoyed being carried around by daddy and taking in the sights as well. Ryan and I even held hands at a few points in our walk. Sadly enough, I don't remember the last time we did that. We even took along a kite with us and attempted its flight. What fun it was to be a kid again!

I was very thankful for these 2 days of rest and relaxation...not only for myself and the good times we had with the Moore family, but just with the little times we spent with the four of us. Even the car ride to and from the beach was a memory that was made. These are the moments that make up a family. It reminded me that we need to have more of these...and we don't have to go to the beach to do it.

Austin is always up for a ride on daddy's back

posing for a quick beach shot

this girl loves the sand!

Austin...not so much

kite flying and carefree days
our camera was propped on a rock, so Austin had no idea where to look!

This post is part of Family Moment Monday over at Motherhood for Dummies. To see how other families spend their time together, check it out here.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

what's for lunch?

Hmmm... Good question.

Well, thanks to Sycamore Stirrings, lunch around here has been a lot more fun! The author of this creative blog (seriously, there are so many great blogs out there I have been inspired by!) hosts Muffin Tin Mondays and the minute I came across this idea, I just had to join in. I often feel like it is a chore for Mikayla to actually sit down and eat, so I thought this idea might give her a little more incentive to do that. Of course, I had to use my flower muffin pan that I was given for my birthday to make things just a little more cute. This is such a fun and unique way to feed your child a meal. I don't do it every week or it would lose its sparkle, but I try to do it on Mondays in honor of Muffin Tin Mondays (although, honestly, I've only done it twice so far, but I plan on doing it every week). I read another blog recently that even adds another dimension of fun by covering up one of the holes with some paper and in that one is the child's dessert. If they eat the rest, they get to unveil the surprise. Love it! I haven't tried that yet, but you bet I will be soon! Seriously, who would have thought that I would have this much fun serving a meal...definitely not me.

Clockwise: Macaroni & Cheese, baby carrots, Mac & Cheese, strawberries, grapes, and cucumbers)

And, since we're talking about food...I might as well share with you a family favorite recipe in honor of Menu Plan Monday-Family Favorites Edition hosted by The Organizing Junkie. Since I haven't gotten my act together to participate in the official Menu Plan Monday (dinner planned every day of the week?!), I thought I would take a baby step and at least have one thing on the menu that I can share with everyone...something our family knows and loves. When Austin was born, a friend of ours brought us dinner and this delicious dish turned into a favorite of ours from the first bite. Since Monday night is swim lessons night, which always makes dinner a rush, we will be sitting down to enjoy our beloved Taco Stuffed Pasta Shells on Tuesday night. If you're in the mood to check out more Family Favorite recipes head on over here. Trust me, you will find quite a few!

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