Sunday, August 24, 2014

Beach Family Reunion 2014

A picture I happened to get of some random kids playing down the beach.
I love how it turned out. 

Every year we go to the beach for a reunion with my husbands extended family. It was the perfect end to our summer break.

Traveling this year was different in many ways for us as a family. I didn't need to pack the big items like, the playpen, high chairs, baby gate or even sippy cups. Although, diapers and wipes were still on the list.

Our kids slept better and played better and even handled the new environment better. It just felt like we had moved up a notch when it came to the ease of traveling.

Our view from the 4th floor. 

Another view off to the left.

We got creative this year. While the two oldest girls slept on the hide-a-bed in the living room, the three littles slept in the extra bedroom. How do you fit three kids on a queen size bed you might ask? Well, this worked wonders!

Every year I intend to bring the guard rail for the bed and every year I manage to forget, and survive with out it. 
They each had their own blanket from home because I knew if they shared a big blanket there would be a lot of pulling and fussing. I put the extra bed pillows on the floor, just in case. :) We wore them out so much on the beach and with all of the fun after dinner that they slept great! Both nights! This was the best vacation sleep we have ever had. :) 

Another fun view in the morning. We had perfect weather. I loved the fog. 

Captain at the play ground! 


The girls loved the tire swing. They thought it was so neat that there was a spot for each of them. :) 

This sweet boy of mine used to be terrified of the sand. He wouldn't set one foot on it. However this year he had such a wonderful time playing on the beach. 

My youngest daughter literally ran in circles on the beach. She was so excited.  She made sand angels and yelled "cannon ball!" and threw herself into the sand. I am amazed that there was no crying from sand in their eyes, especially since I watched them rub their face with their hands covered in it. (I always pack a water bottle just in case we need to rinse out eyes or their mouth. )
The kids all played so well in the sand on this trip. We brought some fun toys and trucks and we spent the longest time on the beach with no meltdowns. Just fun quiet play. Their papa buried them in sand, the boys made holes and hills for their trucks and my husband made his annual sand castle (with the kids helping of course).

A picture of a seagull, just because. 

The weather was so crazy, sunny then foggy, then a little sun, next a little fog. 

My little guy was SO happy to play with his trucks. He sat in the same spot surrounded by his toys for most of the afternoon. :) 

One of my favorites...watching the waves. 

Such a sweet picture of my husband and oldest daughter. 

This was a fun picture of most of our group. The fog had rolled in.

Overall, we had such a good time. It was fun to catch up with our relatives and end the summer on a high note. Now I should get back to all of that laundry. So. Much. Laundry.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Back To School: Closet Organization

We have been in our new house for over a year now and I finally have order in the closets!

With school just two weeks away, and my husband going back to work next week, I have been on this cleaning rampage all over the house. (So watch for more pictures to come!)

We don't have dressers for the kids, I am not a big fan anyway. I have always wanted to utilize the space at the bottom of the closet for more storage/clothes. Since I hang their shirts (and dresses for the girls) it makes sense to me to have the bottoms, well, at the bottom.

I bought five of these cube storage units for each of the kids and with free shipping they arrived at my door step. Fast forward a few weeks later when I had time and energy got tired of tripping over the boxes and wa-la!

I have two boys who share a room. They each have their own 6-cube storage unit for their clothes. They had enough width in their closet for me to lay them on their side.

I sorted through all of their shirts and put them together by type (long sleeve, short sleeve, jacket, tank top, undershirt, sweater, etc...) I know full well they won't stay like this, but it is a nice way to start the school year.  Plus it let me do inventory of what they had.

 Right now I have summer and winter clothes together, I never got around to pulling winter clothes out and since summer is coming to and end I am just going to leave them, until maybe late October.

This next picture is the view of the whole closet (both sides). 
I love how clean their closet is and even more- that most of their clothes are reachable!  No dressers means more room to play. :) I plan to put clear tubs above on the top rack of the closet for those clothes that are two small for Jabar and yet still too big for Robert. Then all of their clothes will stay in their closet and not make their way into the garage for storage. 

Here is a look into the closet in the girls room (bad pic with sun shining in). I haven't finished sorting through their clothes and putting them away but I wanted to show you that you can stand these upright if you need to.

Each girl has a cube for: skirts, shorts, leggings, jeans, and two cubes for pajamas.

I have three daughters who share this room and thankfully, the closet is bigger than the boys room. I have the 6-cube units upright so I can fit all three. So each girl has a spot for their dresses and tops to hang above and for their bottoms below.

Their baskets for socks and undies will sit in front of their cubes. Since they are tall they won't fit on top. However, if we ever divide the girls up and get rid of our play room then I would be able to lay them down and give more space.

I love how these turned out! It was a great way to maximize the space and without doing a  major overhaul on the closet design. Most closets come with just the one rack on top and I wasn't interested in putting a lot of time and money into adding more. I simply, let my husband put these together, :) and I filled them with clothes. 

If you didn't want to sort the clothes as I did and had empty cubes you could put baskets in a few and keep the socks inside. 

More Ideas:

*Find which size of cube organizer will work for you. There are smaller sizes with just four cubes or I have seen larger sizes with 9. 

*If you don't want bunch more clothes together in one box then you could have room to put socks and other items in a cubby. 

*Instead of baskets on top you could lay more clothes out or line up all of their shoes. 

Overall, this was pretty simple to put together and I feel like I am getting use out of all of the space! I am super happy with this project! 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

2014 Cascade Awards Ceremony

A few months ago I was chosen to be one of three finalists, in the unpublished memoir category, for my book, What Led Me To You.

Last night I attended the banquet for the 2014 Cascade Writing Contest hosted at the Oregon Christian Writers conference.

Even though, I did not receive the award for my category, I really enjoyed getting to get to this point.  I met some amazing people and had a wonderful night out with my husband.

Here are some of the fun pictures!

Waiting for the event to start. :) 

All of the 2014 Cascade Contest Finalists,
both published and unpublished. 

A closer look

On stage getting my certificate with the other unpublished finalists.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Thomas The Train Birthday Party!

All aboard!

Robert LOVES trains.

Our little boy was turning three-years-old so we celebrated his birthday at a train park.

I had so much fun putting this together!

Each of the kids got a bandanna, a hat, and a train whistle to take home.
We had lots of finger foods in train cars that went all the way around the table. 

We got our little guy this thomas the train set as his gift
and used it as our table decor for the party. 

Animal Cookies, gluten free of course!

These little loaf containers were perfect for holding the food
and wrapping up with tin foil afterward to take home.
I cut out little black wheels for the sides and that was it! 

Black olives were perfect for coal! 

Just a simple sign I made for decorations. 

I brought some of our many train tracks from home and put the cupcakes
on them with one of our  toy trains leading the way.
TIP: Put the cupcake liners on the tracks
before you leave for your party so you know you have enough room. 

It was hot and my cupcakes got a little messy. 

Choo Choo! 
Here we go! We all had a great time going around the park.
There was just one other party going on that day so no lines for the trains. After they left, we got the park to ourselves and had as many rides as we wanted. Super fun!

One of the trains that took us around the park! 

Our view as we rode the train

Happy Birthday to you...

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Simple Truth- from my five-year-old

Today I was driving my two oldest daughters home from swimming lessons when I heard such simple words of truth, from my sweet daughter.

Our typical drive home involves a winding road next to a cliff with little to no railing. There is a small water fall on one side and beautiful shade from the tall trees. For the most part, I find it to be a refreshing view after passing through worn down houses and industrial buildings.

However, the cliff is intimidating and I usually ignore the fact that it is there, keeping my eyes on the road. Sometimes, I even cautiously hug the middle of the lane and slow my speed.

I really hate that cliff, but I would like to think that I never vocalize my fear. *guilty snicker* (hand over face)

Okay, maybe I have, once or twice when my husband was driving, and I sat in the passenger

You would think I would find a different way home but I am all about efficiency. :) Since we have therapies just past it, along with a quick shot to the highway, it has become a typical route.

While we have driven up and down the hill hundreds of times this last year, it has become the focus of conversation these last few weeks. Maybe it was because I was driving my husband's truck instead of our big suburban as we finish our two weeks of swimming lessons, which gave the girls a closer look out their windows in the backseat.

This afternoon, Laura, my seven-year-old daughter, looked out her window and started squealing about the possibility of driving down the cliff, "Oh no, what if we drove off of the cliff?" "What if our truck tumbled over and over?" I think she was trying to be over dramatic but still, I wanted to remind her that we would not drive off the cliff.

Before I could re-assure her, my five-year-old daughter, Mia, jumped in and said, "Just hang onto Jesus and you will be fine!"

I had no words. She said it better than I could have. Much better.

As expected, we made it up the hill just fine, as we do just about every day.

I couldn't get those words out of my head. "Just hang onto Jesus and you will be fine." She said it with such confidence and simplicity. There was no need to worry or fret.

How often do we stress over our own fears? The unknown? The trials we face in life? How often do we look for answers in so many places before we give our worry to God?

Even as I write this, I am very much aware that I have been spending weeks stressing over a handful of things, which have taken my focus and my energy.  I have been trying to find solutions on my own,  when I could simply hand it all over to Jesus.

What a gift that is.

Like my daughter, sitting in in the backseat, we often have little to no control which can cause anxiety to take up space in our hearts. We forget that we can simply hang on to Jesus, and trust that we will be fine. It is so hard to do and I am so thankful for the reminder.

My heart melts when I hear my kids reminding each other to seek God first and I feel convicted for not doing this with my own worries.

So, while I practice living those words, I would encourage you to also think about them as you get through your week. :)

"Just hang onto Jesus...and you will be fine."

Monday, July 14, 2014

School Work File Folders!!

I have been storing awards, important papers and art work in all of the wrong places; the top of the fridge, junk drawers, cupboards, and even in the garage.  

Today, after months of this project sitting half done, I finally finished all of the tubs for each of my kids. I wrote signs with their names on the outside of the box and each kid and color coordinated as best as I could! :) 

Two Pink, Purple, Blue and Green.
 I am always a little bummed when I can't find 5 different colors! :) 

I bought several boxes of assorted colors and pulled all the yellows together, blues together, etc...

I have been storing awards, important papers and art work in all of the wrong places; the top of the fridge, junk drawers, cupboards, and even in the garage.

Today, after months of this project sitting half done, I finally finished all of the tubs for each of my kids. I wrote signs with their names on the outside of the box and each kid and color coordinated as best as I could! :)

Now, each of my children have their own box to keep all of those precious pieces of paper, photos and drawings. I made tabs for each school year, including pre-school and added a file for church and misc. items.

I am now free of guilt about how I was storing all of those items, with no risk of damaging, or (deep breath) losing those wonderful pieces I love so much.


Wait for a holiday sale. 
With a handful of kids this project can be costly.  I bought these around Christmas time, with free shipping and they appeared on my doorstep. My favorite kind of shopping!

Think Outside The Box *pun intended :)
Use this box for more than school work. I ran out of folders but I intend to get a few more for each box. In addition for the school work, church projects and even a Misc. folder, I want to add one for sports (photos, awards, DVD's even fit great if you put them in a zip lock bag.

Start Now!
You will only get more behind. I have a daughter entering second grade in the fall, along with a kindergartener and the three other kids have been bringing home art work from preschool. No matter how long you have waited it is better to start now and organize from here on out. You can always go back and catch up when you have a quiet weekend at home.

Large Pieces:
I have a sweet friend who suggested getting a large portfolio to keep their large pieces of art work, science fair projects and anything else they worked so hard on. :)

Say No to Hoarding!
You do not have to keep every little piece of work. Yes, it is hard to physically place those papers in the garbage but I would suggest keeping samples of each subject from different times of the year. I am amazed at how Laura's hand writing improved or how her pictures changed as the year went on. I kept a few of those math homework packets she spent those late nights working on, and a few sheets of drills but mostly, I held onto the stories she wrote and pictures she drew. Papers with her imagination and memories she shared from the "weekend news" projects. :)

I hope this encourages you to keep those little treasures for your child.

I would love to hear ideas you have!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A New Look For Summer!

After almost 2 years of not changing my hair I was eager for change!

But summer vacation is here and with a last minute appointment, cause that is how I roll, I made my way to a wonderful salon with the intent of only getting a cut.  I left with a cut AND some highlights and feel very refreshed!

BEFORE: Wow, that was long! And all natural.
I  think I was 12 the last time I had my own hair color. :) 
Growing up I colored my hair every color and had a new hair style just about every month. With life stealing my attention I had let my hair grow out more than I realized.

AFTER: Over 8 1/2 inches cut off! And two shades of highlights. 
AFTER: Playing around with my new look! Loving my curls.
This is a darker picture but the highlights are awesome! 

BEFORE: Crazy how long it was from this picture taken a month before. 
I have to also admit that after I disaster hair cut a few years ago I was a little gun shy. I had gone in for a new look and somehow, even though I asked for long bangs down to my cheek bone, I ended up with bangs so short that they hardly laid flat. Through tears I yelled for her to stop cutting and had to go to another salon to help fix the mess. I had to cut more bangs further back to hide the short hair. Maybe I lost my nerve after that.

Absolutely loving my new hair!

Yay for curls!