Monday, August 26, 2013

Caroline's First Purchase

There is a back story here that must be shared: Adam and I got Caroline a baby doll for her 2nd Christmas. She was 19 months old and really into babies. We bought her the standard Target Circo baby doll. It is perfect. It doesn't "DO" anything - doesn't magically eat stuff, doesn't go potty. It's just a baby doll and it's the perfect squishiness. Well, Caroline could care less about it. 

Adam and I did the same thing for Lucy at Lucy's 2nd Christmas. She was 17 months old. The Circo baby's dress had been updated, but it was still the same doll. Lucy loved her baby....and so did Caroline. The baby was named "Flower baby" by the girls. Lucy calls her "Flowler baby". Oh the fights. Oh. The. Fights. Every time I turned around Caroline had Lucy's "Flowler baby". I kept telling Caroline that she had a doll exactly like that with a different dress, but this did not satisfy her.

Finally, in the beginning of July it dawned on me that we could just by another baby doll exactly like Lucy's - with the same dress. The next time a fight popped up (the next day), I told Caroline she was welcome to buy a flower baby with her own money. And she jumped all over it!

So the following Sunday, we poured out her piggy bank.


We counted.

And we put it all in her purse.

Of course we got to Target and they have now updated the Circo baby's clothing AGAIN. I braced myself for a meltdown. But Caroline found one that had a dress with a flower pattern - it was a different flower pattern, but she was happy. 

And here we have a happy Little Mommy!

Problem Solved! NOT! Within 5 minutes of arriving home, Lucy was distraught that SHE didn't have a flower dress baby like Caroline. **Sigh** Lesson learned: From here on out, always buy 2 of every toy and make sure they are the exact same!

Side Note: Caroline's new flower dress baby is African American. I'm not quite sure when she noticed. For several weeks, I wasn't sure if she even knew. Then one day she and Lucy both took their respective flower dress babies in the car. Caroline began to sing a song. Somewhere in the words was 

"Our skin is different colooooooors, but we are the same. Yeah we are the saaaaaammme!!!"

Love her <3 nbsp="">

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Summer Purge

I'm so sad to see this summer go. It feels like the shortest summer of my life. It didn't help that it rained so much.

It felt like our summer ended two weeks ago when Miss Sarah went back to school. Aunt Alice had lots of summer plans so we asked Miss Sarah to watch the girls this summer. I couldn't possibly have better childcare than Aunt Alice and Miss Sarah - it just doesn't exist. My girls are loved, played with, and taught. Caroline asked me a little while ago why I never have anyone bad babysit them. (Goofy kid is a little melodramatic and would love to identify with Cinderella or Rapunzel on a personal level.) I responded that I would make sure she never had anyone bad babysit her.

Anyway, back to our summer...Miss Sarah came over to OUR house to play. That meant we didn't all have to be out the door by 8 every morning. AND it meant I got to come straight home everyday. On day one of our summer schedule, I got home from work and realized I had an extra 1.5-2 hrs in my day! That's a lot of time. I told Adam that night, that I was not going to waste it. And the very next day, I instigated SUMMER PURGE!

Just a little background: We live in a 3 bedroom house and every bedroom is occupied as a person's room. This means we have no "extra" room. We have no room in which to store office supplies, art supplies, gift wrapping paper/bags/bows, sewing supplies, holiday decor, any extra decor, crafty stuff, luggage, etc. You get the picture. These items have to go either in a closet (with all the stuff that already goes in a closet) or in our living rooms. I love this and I hate this. I hate it for all the obvious reasons. But I love it because it forces me to be intentional about every space in our house. That being said, a purge is needed pretty often to make sure I'm being intentional and that we are actually using the stuff we have.

My strategy during Summer Purge was to focus on one room/closet a week and to only do 30 minutes to 1 hour a day. Also, my kids are 2 and 4 and they play very nicely together, but they are only 2 and 4. I can't expect them to do that everyday. So I planned on this only working 3 days a week. Sure enough, that's about how often it worked. This also gave me the freedom to just quit on days the kids were extra clingy and just say "Well, I'll work on it tomorrow." I'll admit a couple of times Type-A-Get-This-Thing-Done-Ashley came out at the kids when they were calling for me, but about the 3rd time I heard my voice yelling I remembered that they are 2 and 4 and they need their mommy to play with them =)

So here is what got done with some pictures!

1. Master Bedroom/Master Bathroom including 2 closets. This resulted in about 3 bags of trash and 6 bags to Goodwill! Together, all of this took 4 weeks.

Hey! There's the floor of my closet!!

Just some of my bags!

2. Two Hall closets took another week. I only have a picture of one. The other is a coat closet and didn't look a whole lot different after I was done.


3. The guest bathroom and linen closet took another week.

4. The kitchen took 3 weeks. As a part of the kitchen, I cleaned out the refrigerator, freezer, pantry and the laundry room!







5. And finally, this past week I did the attic and the girls' toys. I haven't done their clothes yet because I'll have to do that when the seasons change.


All in all, I have taken 3 car loads to Goodwill and I've thrown away about half that amount. It seriously feels amazing to have this done. I mean - I'm blogging about it =P

Friday, August 23, 2013

Getting ready for a beach condo

I was so proud of myself for getting my little family ready for the beach. This was our first time staying in a condo just the four of us. In previous years, we have mooched off of our family (in a very loving way), but they weren't going to the beach this year so we took a deep breath and went for it. 

Suddenly there was a ton more to pack - food, linens, kitchen stuff, etc - and my car didn't get any bigger. The last several times we had been to the beach my car was packed to the max. So how was this going to work? With a LOT of careful planning/thinking and advice from my Mom-in law, we made it happen. 

My goal was to only bring what we would use. And we did use everything. Most times we go to the beach, I take excess just in case, but we didn't have the luxury to take excess. So here are things we did to make it a successful, fun trip.

1) Some paper products are necessary. Our condo had dishes so I wasn't worried about paper plates and utensils, but we wanted to eat almost all of our meals in the condo so we needed to be able to store leftovers and clean up.
  • Ziploc bags in sandwich, quart and gallon sizes - good for snacks to take to the beach, and storage of items.
  • Aluminum Foil - good to cover leftovers in a casserole dish 
  • 5 trash bags - used for trash and for dirty/wet laundry
  • 2 paper towel rolls, Clorox wipes - OK so it's not the most eco-friendly, but I didn't want to bring dish towels and dish cloths. 
  • and a few TP rolls 



2) There were several things that we were going to need a little bit of, but I didn't have room to pack the whole box/bottle. So I measured out only what we needed, put it in a baggy and labeled it - this was Mom's advice. I also put on the label the purpose of the item. For example: "Sugar: 1 Cup Bread".

3) This picture also shows the laundry and dish detergent tablets. We don't use tablets on a regular basis at home because I'm cheap, but I went out and bought one box of tablets of dish and laundry detergent so that I could easily just take a couple of tablets of each. We seriously needed every inch of that car we could get!

4) I planned all of our meals in detail. Since there is only 4 of us, I only had to cook twice. My clan eats leftovers pretty well and that is a must because you don't want to have to throw out a lot of food when you leave. This is how they went:

Saturday - Out to dinner with Beam extended family
Sunday - Chicken and Rice Casserole
Monday - Cheeseburger Pie
Tuesday - Order a pizza
Wednesday - Leftovers
Thursday - Nice seafood dinner out
Friday - Leftovers

Since I knew exactly what we were eating, I knew all of the ingredients. I planned to do most of my grocery shopping at the beach when we arrived (less to pack in the car), but I didn't want to buy things that we wouldn't completely use because then I would have to bring that grocery item back. So I packed things like spices and baking products. Don't forget the salt and pepper!


5) My girls love a good party mix. I love it too because it's one snack with a lot of variety. So the day before we left, we made a big batch of our favorite party mix:

Half a box of Cheerios
A whole canister of raisins
A whole jar of Honey Roasted Peanuts
A bag of goldfish
3/4 bag of M&Ms
1 stick of melted butter

Throw all the ingredients together and MIX!

6) Improvising will be necessary. We took some Lemonade Crystal Light packages, but the condo did not have a pitcher. However, we did find an extra coffee carafe. So we googled how many "cups of coffee" were in a half gallon pitcher and Viola! we made lemonade.

7) I planned to have some special treats for us food-wise at the beach - things that we don't keep in our fridge on an everyday basis. Most of these things were bought at the grocery store when we arrived, but a couple of them were homemade so I took the ingredients with us. My point is, that you should plan to do special things, so don't forget to pack them! These special items made two nights of leftovers seem like no big deal. Some of our special treats were: Pimento Cheese, Chicken Salad, Pizza Dip, a loaf of Italian Bread, Amish Friendship bread, Cookies, and Juice boxes.

8) Our largest item to pack was our wagon. It sure made the packing interesting, but it was oh-so-helpful to have! It toted all of our beach stuff back and forth to the beach everyday and in the evenings it toted our girls. I don't know that a wagon is always the most practical - an infant can't sit in it, a 5 year old is too big for it - but it worked perfect for us this year. And I'm so glad that it could serve those 2 purposes.



I am no expert - and do not expect anyone to use this as a go-to list of some sort. I was just proud that my planning panned out. Sometimes when you plan so meticulously you don't bring anything fun because you want to be frugal (about money or space). I felt like I found a happy medium on this trip. We didn't have an extra inch of space in my small car, I packed super careful, but I made a point to pack things that would matter. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Angels

Lucy was sick last night - in the middle of the night. Caroline woke up at her normal 6 am. She and I tip-toed to the kitchen while Lucy continued to sleep. I told Caroline about how Lucy had been sick in the night and how the two of them would have to stay home all day. Caroline's eyes were so curious while I was talking. She then asked,

"Mommy, when Lucy was sick in the middle of the night did she cry so loud so you knew to go get her or did the angels tell you she was sick?"

{Be still my heart. These are precious moments.}

I told her Lucy didn't scream. It was an angel. We call it "light sleep" or "mother's intuition". Let's give credit where it is due. Thank you Lord for waking me up when my babies need me!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

How to make the Dora cake

Ever wonder how those cake decorators get a perfect image in the middle of a large cake? Me too! Now I know how easy it is. 

Step 1: Find a printable and size it to the exact size you want the image to be on the cake. I got super lucky. Nickelodeon makes a free printable of Dora. That's right - FREE! And they make them for several other Nickelodeon characters. If you are finding your own printable - note that the printable will appear on the cake as a mirror image of what you find so make sure you are ok with that. It is fine for most images.

Step 2: Tape the printable to some wax or parchment paper. 

Step 3: Trace the printable on the other side of the wax paper with Decorating Icing gel. Hopefully your printable is in color so you can get an idea of what color you want to trace it in.

Step 4: (the most stressful step) Carefully lay the gel side of the wax paper onto your already iced cake. Lightly pat the wax paper so that the gel will stick to the cake. Then slowly peel the wax paper off the cake.


Step 5: Fill in the outline with some color!

Finished product - you can see my printable in the top right corner.

I was pleased with Lucy's Dora cake. The colors were a little darker than I wanted, but other than that I thought it was really cute.

Cow Appreciation Day 2013

I can't believe we got free entrees including at Chickfila for these simple "costumes". Two of Daddy's white t-shirts with few black construction paper spots that Mommy cut out on the fly and taped to the shirts. We love Chickfila! Oh and the girls took off the shirts as soon as we sat down in a booth - oh well.





Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Beach Photo Shoot

I loved doing a little photo shoot with my girls at the beach. I know I'm biased, but I think they are gorgeous girls! These are my favorites. Not all of them will be frame-worthy. Some are just silly. But here they are...unedited...my girls =)