Sunday, June 29, 2014

Summer Reading Challenge

I fell in love with reading at a young age and would definitely classify myself as a bookworm. Even when life is overwhelmingly busy I always find a way to dive into a good piece of literature. Whether it is a fictitious escape, biography, sappy romance, historical text or murder mystery it is important for me to carve time out of the week to read. Consequently, there was no question that from the time they were born I would share my passion for reading with both of my kiddos. I have read at least one book to Addie and Mason every night before bedtime. I have no doubt that this has encouraged their imaginations and their own affections for books. This summer, we're kicking it up a notch and I've challenged Addie to read 100 books before we go back to school!

The rules are simple. First, bedtime stories do not count. Second, since Addison cannot actually read yet (though she does recognize certain words) she has to summarize the book orally and with a picture. To keep track of the books she reads we created an ice cream cone chart. I printed a picture of an ice cream cone found using a basic web image search and cut out scoops from some colored scrap paper I had.

A grown up writes down the title and book's author while Addie gives a quick recap of the story. I've really enjoyed watching her artistic creations. She is so thoughtful about choosing the one thing she wants to draw to represent the book. For now, her ice cream cone is hanging up in the cabin in New Hampshire since that is where she will be spending most of her summer but I'm thinking we might have to start a second cone here at home so this one doesn't topple over!

I have to give credit to my own mama for this idea! When I was in first or second grade she did something similar for me. I remember she cut out 100 hearts and hung a giant poster board up in our kitchen. I spent the summer reading books outside on my swing set or on my balcony and writing the titles and author's names down on the multi-colored hearts. I loved seeing the poster board fill up! I was such a nerd! (Who's kidding...I still am!) 

As soon as she gets to 100 books I'm thinking we need to celebrate with a special trip to our favorite ice cream shoppe! How do you encourage your little ones to read? You could easily modify this for any age. Elementary aged kiddos could write the title and author's name themselves. Older kids could write 3-5 sentences summarizing what they read. Teacher friends could adapt this for their classroom too! I can't wait to see what you come up with!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Ice Cream Sundae Bar

Do you all remember the hot chocolate bar I featured over the holidays (you can read it here)? It was the perfect little set up for the corner nook of our kitchen. Well, now that the weather is sunny and warm I've found a new way to make use of this space. . .an ice cream sundae bar! 

Using leftover toppings from Addison's Frozen Birthday Party, some cute bowls I picked up at HomeGoods last summer, and the wooden spoons I received in this month's Happy Mommy Box, I simply swapped out mugs, hot cocoa, straws and napkins for a more summer ready treat! 

Our family favorite toppings include:

rainbow sprinkles

candy pearls


pink mini sprinkles



chocolate syrup

I played around with the set up a little bit until finally deciding on the one below with the flowers and bananas. I figured it couldn't hurt to add a little something healthy to the mix! You can create the same look! All you need is a tray, a few bowls, spoons, and some coordinating containers (glass or plastic) for all of your toppings.

What is your favorite summer treat? There is a bowl of cookies & cream ice cream calling my name right now! (And, for the record. . .calories from ice cream don't count!)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Life Lately

The school year has finally wound down and even though I am working through the summer (don't worry, there is plenty of vacation built in there as well!) life has definitely seen a change of pace lately. My parents fly back stateside each year and steal the kiddos away giving the hubby and I a much appreciated break and some quality time with each other. This will be Mason's first real memory of time up in the White Mountains but Addie Mae has been counting down the days for her trip north! She couldn't wait to pack her bags to spend some time with her Oma!

So how does one spend a week without any little ones around? First on the agenda was running errands and grocery shopping all. by. myself. Something about being able to read food labels and study the chemicals in shampoo was so rewarding. Hubby and I had a really nice date night planned together too but then he had to go and throw out his back. Poor guy has been laid up in bed for three days straight. 

So in between nursing him back to health I decided to begin a whole-house purge. What does that entail? Every drawer, cabinet, closet, nook and cranny is fair game. The first floor is done and it feels great. I was able to get rid of, donate, lend or throw away tons of stuff that was just taking up space and adding chaos to our lives. I have probably two solid days to accomplish the same goal on the second floor before I move on to the basement and attic next week. A good clean slate is just what this working mama needs at the end of a school year. Looking forward to eliminating all of the clutter over the summer so I can spend less time picking things up every day and more time doing what matters most, with my little loves. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Frozen Birthday Party |Part II|

Hi friends! I am back today sharing a few more details and snapshots from Addie's Frozen birthday party a few weekends ago. I had so much fun putting this all together, especially with my mini-me by my side helping. Now, if only party planning could pay the bills!

We couldn't leave Olaf out of the decor. A small pot of raw carrots was just the touch, along with this free printable banner I found online. Guests pretended to use their magic wands to make snow using Instasnow. What a hit!

Using PicMonkey I created a few labels for the buffet table and attached them using Washi tape. A Frozen themed birthday isn't complete without ice cream! And on a hot sunny day it was the perfect treat for the birthday girl and her friends.

What was your favorite birthday party growing up? How do you celebrate your special day now? 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Frozen Birthday Party |Part 1|

I am really excited to finally start sharing pictures and details from Addie's Frozen birthday party last week. My sweet girl has been obsessing over the hit film for months now. I'm not going to lie, I am a big fan too! We had so much fun pulling all of the decorations together for her big day. I am so happy with how it all turned out and even happier about the fact that I spent hardly any money at all. Most of the stuff we either had or picked up on clearance from Target the day after Christmas!

We pulled Mason's sleigh out of the basement and dolled it up with some ornaments and pillows and used it as the display for the Frozen inspired magic ribbon wands. The kiddos had a blast running around pretending to freeze things with them!

The main display, however, was my absolute favorite! Addie helped me arrange the favors, decorations, framed photos from her Frozen picture shoot, and of course the cake! I made a new tissue paper garland (tutorial here) to add a little glam!

We used some fake snow, mason jars, Magi-clips, and mini trees from my late grandmother's Christmas village collection to create a little scene from the movie. 

I topped it all off with favor boxes that I wrapped with twine and accentuated with small coordinating ornaments. Finally, the ceramic figurines that were used last year to decorate for the holidays were the perfect touch! Love it when things I've bought in the past can have multiple uses! 

This is just the tip of the iceberg (pun intended)! I'll be back later this week to highlight and share more details from her big day.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

10 Questions

It feels a little awkward to write about myself but with so many new followers lately (thanks, friends!) I thought I'd solicit my hubby's help in a little update about me! So, without further ado, 10 questions asked by my hubby!

What is your favorite place that you've been to?

Vacationed? Or lived?

Lived, that is probably more interesting.

Definitely Holland. It is where I was born and where I lived the longest growing up (12 years). It is such a beautiful country and some of my most favorite childhood memories are of growing up there. 

What is the hardest part about being a working mom?

Coming home at the end of a long day, physically and mentally exhausted. I have zero down time in between work and daycare pick up so it can be tough trying to switch into happy mommy mode. There are days I just want to come home, plop on the couch, and order take out. My little loves deserve my undivided attention though, so when we get home my focus is 100% on them. About once a month, or so, I break down in tears and feel guilty for being a working mom but I love my job and I love that both you and I can provide for our family. 

What is your favorite thing to do with the kiddos?

If we are all together I'd have to say that snuggling under a comfy blanket and reading books is a favorite. When I have one on one time with my girl I absolutely love anything that involves a craft. With my little man it has to be a tie between playing cars (his car sounds are the absolute cutest) and rocking out on his doggy guitar!

Describe your perfect weekend.

Oh that's easy! The perfect weekend includes sleeping in, bacon, and lots of family time. Those are the essentials. I guess some alone time maybe getting a pedicure or crafting something up would be nice too. A trip to Target sans that would be epic! Did I mention bacon? 

If you could go back and meet with the builder all over again, what is one thing you would do differently with our house?

Just one thing?

Just one.

That's tough. Hmmm. Maybe make the laundry room an office instead. Asked for wider garage doors. I wished we had known doing a bonus room off the back was an option, though I'm not sure how that would have fit into our budget so I guess I would have made your closet smaller and mine bigger :)  

If you weren't an assistant principal, what would you be?

Party planner. Or professional organizer. Or maybe own my own venue, like a big old barn, for parties and events. "The Barn" has a nice ring to it, doesn't it? 

What one piece of advice do you wish someone had given you before getting married?

Do not let your husband wash your favorite pair of jeans. He will shrink them. And when you get so upset you cry he won't understand what the big deal is. Then, to help him understand, you'll have to disclose just how much those jeans cost you. And then you'll be in trouble! 

What is your greatest strength?

I am really good at eating chocolate. And shopping. 

What is the most beautiful thing you've ever seen?

Obviously, my babies! It was love at first sight when each of them were born. But, I've also had the privilege of travelling all over the world. Cinque Terre (Italy) remains one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. 

Addie recently proclaimed her love for Jimmie Johnson, who is your favorite race car driver?

Do I have to pick Nascar?


Then I'm going with Sebastian Vettel. Though, any of those guys behind the wheel of an F1 car are pretty hot!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

14 Days

I am 14 days into my 100 days of no shopping (more about that here). That is t w o  w h o l e  w e e k s! There is still quite a ways to go but I am patting myself on the back because I have resisted the temptation to go to Target, order a new Erin Condren planner and splurge on new flip flops. But just because I've subjected myself to this cruel and unusual punishment does not mean that you can't shop and treat yourself to a little something now and then. Here are some of my summer picks for 2014:

1. I love a cute graphic tee for the summertime. Pre-shopping ban Michaela would have figured it was a steal for less than $15! Banned Michaela, however, realizes she has about 10 graphic tees already buried deep in her dresser drawer that she hasn't worn since last summer.

2. I feel like hedgehogs are the new owls in the designosphere. Perfect little accessory or great gift to bring your host at the next neighborhood shindig. Hurry, it is on sale for less than $5!

3. One month ago I would have ordered a pair of these in every single color. These would make even the ugliest feet (mine) look cute all summer long!

4. I first set eyes on this beauty last week during a work meeting. Bold navy & white stripes scream summertime. But, my favorite part? When you open it up to dig your keys outs it reads "HELLO GORGEOUS" along the lining. I. Need. This. It doesn't count if my hubby buys it for me, right? We do have an anniversary coming up (hint hint hubster!). It even comes with this must-have coordinating wallet!

What have you splurged on lately? Are you thrifty when it comes to shopping and manage your money well? Or, do you have somewhat frivolous spending habits like me?

Friday, June 6, 2014

This Girl

This girl. My girl. In just two more days my sweet little peanut is turning 4 years young! It is ironic that she wanted a Frozen themed birthday party this year. . .all I want to do is freeze time with my little loves. I told her the other day that I wanted to shrink her back to being a baby.

"Mommy! You can't do that!"

"Why not?"

"Because I have to grow up to be a big girl so I can be a mommy just like you!" 

This girl. She amazes me everyday. She is smart, and kind, and loving and goofy and creative and thoughtful and daring all at the same time. She is her daddy's girl and her mama's world. 

This girl. She is mine. All mine. 

Read about This Guy

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Crazy Town

roll into town, step off the bus
shake off the where you came from dust
grab your guitar, walk down the street
sign says nashville, tennessee

but I have found it's a crazy town, full of neon dreams
everybody plays, everybody sings
hollywood with a touch of twang
to be a star you gotta bang, bang, bang

bend those strings till the hank comes out
make all the drunk girls scream and shout
we love it, we hate it, we're all just trying to make it
in this crazy town

pay your dues and you play for free
and you pray for a honky tonk destiny
you cut your teeth in the smokey bars
and live off the tips from a pickle jar 
'til you find a cool new sound and you smile
when the record man shoots you down

it's a crazy town, full of neon dreams
everybody plays, everybody sings
hollywood with a touch of twang
to be a star you gotta bang, bang, bang

bend those strings till the hank comes out
make all the drunk girls scream and shout
we love it, we hate it, we're all just trying to make it
in this crazy town

one year they repossess your truck
and the next you make a couple million bucks

it's a crazy town, full of neon dreams
everybody plays, everybody sings
hollywood with a touch of twang
to be a star you gotta. . .

bend those strings till the hank comes out
make all the drunk girls scream and shout
we love it, we hate it, we're all just trying to make it
we love it, we hate it, we all make here to make it
in this crazy town, it's a crazy town.

P.S. more songs on my soundtrack of life here