Friday, January 30, 2015

Random Ramblings

Happy Friday!!! I'm so happy today is Friday and I'm super excited about the weekend ahead.  What's not to love about Friday?!?!  Today I have a lot of random ramblings for y'all.  Just a little of this, a little of that, and a lot of what's been going on with my life lately!

I got my Boo-Boo a new pair of shoes last week and according to him, they were the fastest shoes he's ever owned.  He then told me that I also had fast shoes and that we could be on the fast team together.  How sweet...I just love my little guy.

For Christmas I asked my Mother-in-law for an ice cream maker. I've always thought it would be fun to have one and she gave us THIS wooden bucket 4 quart one.  I bought all of the ingredients and we attempted our first batch after church a a few weeks ago.  Needless to say the results were amazing and there is something about that homemade ice cream that brought me back to my childhood. My mom used to always make it and I so vividly remember summers on the porch eating it when I was little.  I'm excited to try some new recipes and different flavors, although the vanilla was pretty darn good.  My kids ate it up and said it was WAY better than ice cream from the store!

Jen and I met at Chick-fil-a last Thursday for lunch and to let the boys play on the playground.  Then we decided to pop in Old Navy real quick to check out their compression leggings for running/working out.  Jen blogged about them last week HERE and ever since I've been wanting to try them.  Well, just as we were looking at them I turned around and saw this:

I was cracking up and had to snap a quick picture.  It doesn't matter where we are...these two little boys turn anywhere into a playground or a game a of hide-and-seek.  After this Jen and I quickly grabbed a pair of THESE compression leggings and made a mad dash for the checkout line before the boys caused any real damage in the store.

Later that day my family left for a little weekend getaway and while on our long drive I was checking out Facebook and came across this graphic.  It made my heart stop and was the perfect reminder to savor every single day with little ones.

We made the rounds in FL over the weekend on our trip, but ended up in Orlando visiting some of our wonderful friends there.

Kathy and I taught together many years ago and had an instant bond.  We've stayed super close and our families always get together at least twice a year!

This year when we visited them we joined in with some of their friends to go to Monster Jam...the Monster Truck show.  Oh my goodness! It was so much fun and I enjoyed even more than I thought I would.  I really didn't know what to expect, but it was loud, exciting and very entertaining.

The girls loved it, but Hudson had the most fun of all.  He officially declared it the best night ever!!!

 We got home on Sunday evening and were very excited to see our puppy, Walker. He was obviously happy to see us, too and was happy sticking close by our sides the rest of the night.

I hope every has a wonderful Friday and an awesome weekend ahead!!!  
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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Easy Valentine's Day Treat

Valentine's Day is still a few weeks away, but with multiple parties coming up and hosting Valentine's Day dinner club, I wanted to pre-bake a few treats to see which ones worked. This little Rice Krispies treat was so easy I thought I would share it with you guys. It literally took about five minutes tops.

Supplies you will need: 
- Rice Krispies Treats: I used pre-packaged ones for this project, but if you would like to make them yourself here is the recipe.
- Meltable chocolate: I used the bright pink Wilton Candy Melts. I was also going to use the white, but decided at the last minute to just use pink.
- Sprinkles: I used these, but also saw some fun heart shaped ones in the same colors that would be adorable.
- Cake pop or lollipop sticks: I was so excited to find these little heart cake pop sticks

For this project I cut the cake pop straws in half, and then simply pushed them into the bottom of the Rice Krispies Treat. 

After I assembled all of my treats, I then scooped some of my chocolate melts into a bowl. The package instructs to use the whole bag and to heat in the microwave for 30 seconds at 50% power. I like to start off with a small bit so that I don't end up with a lot of leftover chocolate. 

This was longest part of the project, and it took a whopping whole minute. I told you EASY!

Once the chocolate was melted, I simply dipped the end of the Rice Krispies Treat into the warm chocolate. 

Next I added sprinkles, and then placed on parchment paper to cool. 

The cooling process only took a few minutes and then they were ready to eat. Yum!

As an after thought, I realized I could have used a heart shaped cookie cutter to add another level of cuteness to the treat. Definitely something to keep in mind for next time.

Do you have any favorite easy go-to treats for Valentine's Day? We would love to hear!

Happy "Baking"!

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

American Girl Doll Organization

Hi Friends!  Today's post is all for girl moms.  We're going to be talking about everything American Girl Doll.  One recurring theme you'll see throughout this post is that just because your daughter has an American Girl Doll (or two or three) does not mean all of the "stuff" has to come from American Girl.  There are lots of places that I have found clothes and accessories that work perfect for the dolls!  

My girls both have several American Girl Dolls and absolutely love playing with them.  They love dressing them up, setting a scene and role playing with them and all of the cute little outfits and accessories.  The problem with all of those cute clothes, shoes and tiny accessories is finding a way to keep it all organized.  

For a while I just kept everything in a plastic tub, but that quickly got out of hand so I took a step back and figured out what would work best.  Instead of keeping the American Girl stuff in our playroom we set up little corner in each of their rooms with a wardrobe and any of the bigger toys that go along with them (bathtub, horses, scooters, camper, table/chairs, etc.).  

We used to have just one wardrobe, but it was crammed full and we couldn't fit anything else in it, so for Christmas they got another one.  Now they each have one in their rooms and while they do share all of the clothes/shoes, it helps for them to each have more space.  

The wardrobe we have is from Target and I love it because there is a place to hang clothes, a little drawer for accessories and separate shelves for shoes.  This wardrobe comes with about 4-5 hangers, but I found they did not work to hang up the clothes very well so I bought the real American Girl hangers (HERE) and they fit perfectly. 

For all of the extras that go along with the dolls, I use an over the door shoe organizer like THIS.  These things are seriously great for organizing all kinds of things.  I have this one hanging on the linen closet door upstairs that is in between both girls rooms.  This way they can both easily access it.

In it we organized each of the pockets with a stuff, socks and tights, camping equipment (yes, you read that right...American Girl Doll camping equipment, complete with little mini smores) and tea party things.  

I have found that having all of the stuff organized in this way helps the girls easily find what they are looking for and play with things more than they would if all these little pieces were all mixed up together in a larger storage container.  Most of their accessories came from Target.  Their Our Generation dolls look very similar to American Girl dolls and the clothes, shoes, and other extras work perfectly for them both.  We also have the horses, jeep and camper from Target.  Basically, everything there will be a FRACTION of the price you would pay at American Girl.

The dolls need somewhere to sleep, right?!?  Each of my girls received this Melissa and Doug doll bed for Christmas a few years ago and it has maybe been the one thing they have used most.  They love changing their dolls into their PJ's and putting them to bed.  Like all Melissa and Doug toys, it is a great quality and as you can see from the picture it is big enough for a doll sleepover, too!  ;-)

One last question I get a lot is about American Girl clothes.  My girls do have some that are from American Girl, but the majority of ours came from a less expensive source.  Target has a whole aisle dedicated to their dolls, clothes, and accessories.  At Kohl's I've found matching girl and doll sets for outfits and for pajamas. My absolute favorite brand for girl and doll matching clothes is Ann Loren.

This was at Blondie's American Girl Birthday Party last year!

Sometimes this brand will pop up on Zulily, but they also have a lot of it available on Amazon HERE. You have to purchase the doll and girl sets separately, but they are so cute with ruffles and amazing little details.  I absolutely love the quality and would definitely recommend this brand!

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Super Cute Birthday Weekend

It's official...Cute is four! And wow, did we celebrate in style! Our little four year old is so spoiled loved, that he had not one, but TWO birthday parties! 

Each year we try to do a family party and a friend party. The friend party is usually just a blur of little boy running around at warp speed, so we try to do something separate for family so they can interact with the kids on their own. 

Usually we do the family party at our house, but this year we changed it up a bit. Originally we were going to surprise him with Chuck E Cheese, but shockingly none of the family members seemed to excited about it. 

After doing some brainstorming, The Hubs and I realized everyone might have fun at Andretti's, which is a local indoor race track with tons of games, simulators, zip lines and ropes course. Once we confirmed that Cute would be able to race in a car we made the arrangements, and boy were we glad we did. It was so. much. fun!!!

Cute was off the moment we got there and busied himself playing every game possible. And they truly have every game known to man. 

Even crazy games, like this one...

Wrap your mind around that for a moment. 

I still don't know what to think.

Then it was time to race! I am not sure who was more excited...the men or Cute. I give Uncle T's girlfriend H a ton of credit for joining in. That was a whole ton of excited testosterone that was about to be allowed to drive a race kart 35mph, and I wasn't about to touch that opportunity with a ten foot pole. 

Cute and The Hubs giving me the thumbs up. (He's so tiny!!! Tear.)

Then, as if the day couldn't get any better, who walks in the race area but Homer the Brave and a few Braves players. 

Again, I am not sure who was more excited...the men or Cute. 

The Braves Caravan is making its way around the South and there was an event scheduled at Andretti's for that day. We had no clue and all the players were so nice giving Cute hi-fives and taking a few pictures. Cute declared it the best birthday ever. 

After all the racing was finished we headed over to the in facility restaurant for some lunch and some of the infamous birthday cake. Nope not Spiderman. Star Wars. All that party planning and months of telling me he wanted a "Spiderman cake and nothing else on it" to choose something completely different. And buddy was not about to be redirected. I did the only thing a slightly OCD mama, who has a penchant for things to be matching at all times, could do and ordered two cakes. The cake he chose for his family party, and a Spiderman cake to match his theme for the friend party. 

He was beyond excited and told everyone about his "big bad birthday cake". Even Homer.  

Sunday, we did a quick flip and it was time for the Super Hero party. Not one to miss out on a chance to wear theme wear, I had super hero t-shirts ready for the whole family. Carrie Beth loaned me her hubby's Captain America shirt from Halloween, Little Cute wore her brother's shirt from when he was younger, complete with cape, and Cute and I donned the same shirts (Superman and Batman)we wore to the Marvel Universe Live show last month. 

The now super infamous Spiderman cake made its way to the party (finally), and we were ready to celebrate four with a bang, boom, and pow!

We hosted the party at a local gym. The kids have a blast and can run, jump, and bounce their little hearts out. I love seeing them run around like crazy. It is fun fun chaos! Not to mention the added bonus of that fun chaos not happening at my house. 

I didn't take too many pictures because I was trying to keep up with my two crazy Cutes. I did manage a photo or two of Little Cute since she was the more stationary of the two. Girl was not about to give up the trampoline. 

Cute had a blast with all his friends, and kept telling me later it was his best birthday ever. The weekend was a blast and we are so thankful we have so many special people in our lives who love and celebrate our son just as much as we do. 

Now I'm off to wrap my mind around the fact my little baby is growing up. Sniff sniff. I plan on distracting my self tonight with my DVR'd Bachelor and some more of that left over Star Wars birthday cake. Crazy and carbs are always good for lifting one's spirits.

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Schoolwork Organization

A few years ago when I was in my major Pinterest obsession and pinning things like crazy I came across an idea for organizing your kid's school work.  I knew it would work perfect for what I was trying to accomplish in the way of organization.  I tried to find the original pin, but couldn't, so today I'm just sharing what I did.  

I purchased plastic file crates at Wal-Mart and used paint pens to add my kiddos' names and added a little ribbon to make it look cute. 

Inside I used hanging file folders and labeled them from Pre-School - 12th grade.  For preschool I combined the 2 and 3 year old years, then I have one folder for Pre-K, K, 1st, 2nd, etc. 

In each of these folders I keep a few special things from each each school year.  A few pieces of artwork, some writing samples, any certificates or awards the kids might have received, a school picture and any other special pieces of work they might bring home.  I also keep their report cards from each year in the folders, too.

There is just no way I could keep everything they bring home without ending up on an episode of Hoarders, but this way I have a sampling from each year and it is neat and organized in a way I can find things if I want to go back and look at them.  It's fun to look back at this stuff now so I can only imagine how fun it will be when they are in high school and go back to look at their Kindergarten work and drawings.

I keep these crates on the top shelf of one of our hall closets so they are out of the way, but easy to get to if I want to add or need find something.  

Some readers who have been with us from the beginning will remember that I wrote about our playroom artwork gallery wall.  You can take a look at that post HERE.  I have really enjoyed having the artwork displayed and it adds a fun, bright feel to the playroom.  Every few months I'll add a couple more things and eventually I'll probably fill up that big wall!

Another quick and easy organization tip I want to share are these little memory boxes.  I have one for each of my kids and I keep these in the top of their closets.  Really any small box would work for this, but I used photo storage boxes.

In these boxes I keep small things that have special meaning to the kids and to me.  Here you can see  some of Little Mama's special things.

There are copies of each of her custom birthday invitations (Jen always designs them for me!), tickets from her first Braves game, embroidered handkerchiefs that my grandmother gave her,  lift ticket badges from her first time skiing, birthday cards from her grandparents that I know she will cherish one day, etc.  It's great to have one little place to put odds and ends like this that I want to keep for her.

I have one more place that the kids get to keep things of their own that they feel is special or important to them - their Keep Boxes.  Little Mama would totally end up on an episode of Hoarders if I didn't step in every now and then.  That girl loves her "stuff" and has a hard time parting with it. It doesn't matter if it is Chick-fil-a toys, prizes from Chuck E Cheese, or party favor treats...she wants to keep it all.  In an effort to organize, I got her a flat, but large plastic tub that slides and stores easily under her bed.  She nick-named this her "keep box" and the name stuck.  In it she can "keep" anything that will fit in the tub.  However, when it gets full, nothing else can go in it until she cleans out and gets rid of something.  Most everything in there is total junk, but she loves it so I let her keep it!  These keep boxes have really helped their rooms stay less cluttered and helps them to know where  things are when they go to look for it.  Blondie has a keep box, too and every so often they'll go through the stuff, realize they don't want it anymore and give it to Boo-Boo. Ha!  He's usually thrilled and thinks he has totally scored the jackpot to be given some of the girls' special things.

I'm always looking for new ways to organize and simplify our life, while holding onto things that have special meaning or memories for us.  I hope some of these tips will help you and I'd love to hear if you have any other tips or tricks you could share with me!

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