Soaking Up The End Of Summer

Well…it’s official. The end of summer is here. For me, Labor Day really is the official end of summer and the beginning of fall. This has been such a weird and difficult time in our lives. While we had some fun moments, much of this summer was spent hunkering down at home trying to avoid exposure to Covid, and spending hours upon hours working on Evan’s rehabilitation and recovery. It’s been hard, but the one thing that has gotten me through has been gratitude. Gratitude is key for surviving hard times and it’s something I have had to work extra hard on every day these past five months. There’s days where I struggle and feel a sense of despair, but I swear God finds a way to remind me of my blessings in those moments. I will hear a story of a family who has gone through the loss of a child or spouse, or Evan will do something new as he continues to improve – and I reflect on the realization that our outcome could have been much worse and Evan is continuing to get better daily. These times have also required me to dig deep for faith…faith that Evan is going to recover. Faith that our family and loved ones will stay healthy during this pandemic. Faith that one day life will return to a happier place. One thing I tell myself over and over is “this is just one chapter of our lives. Yes it has been hard, but we don’t know how the story ends. I can choose fear and worry, or I can choose to rest in God’s grace and firmly believe that we will have a happy ending to our story.”

One thing we did this summer to create a little escape for ourselves was to spruce up our patio area and make it into something special. A place we felt we could go and just connect as a family and not focus on Evan’s recovery, Covid, and all the other stresses and worries. We could just go live in the moment and enjoy some lighter times. Good music, good food, and good movies outside under the stars. It has been our little escape, and I’m hoping we can continue to spend as much time out there as possible as long as the weather cooperates.

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Sofa & Table Set

Pillows (here & here)

Blanket (HomeGoods – similar)

Ottoman & Table Set

Black Lanterns (old – similar)

Bud Vases

Rug (HomeGoods – similar)

Bistro Lights

Silver Lanterns (old – similar)

Outdoor Candles (here & here)

Dining Table

Dining Chairs

Dining Table Lanterns

Screen

Projector

Distance Learning Adventures

Distance Learning Adventures

Cole’s Tee (J Crew Factory – similar) | Shorts

School started here in Boise a few weeks ago, and due to high community Covid spread, classes are currently being held online. Kids may be able to return to the classroom eventually (with rotating days and masks required), but for the foreseeable future we are 100% online. Due to Evan’s brain injury and long road to recovery we will be holding him back a year and doing an extra year of preschool. He may go back to in person preschool later this year should it become safer, but my plan for the time being is to work on a bit of homeschool in addition to his busy rehab schedule. Times are certainly tough these days, with so many hard decisions for parents! If you are like me and will be homeschooling or overseeing distance learning this fall…then this post is for you. I wanted to share a few tips that have helped us find a routine and some supplies to make the best at home learning environment possible.

Create a designated space for learning

I think this is one of the most important keys for successful at home learning. It’s hard enough at it is for kids to try to focus on a computer screen, so having them trying to learn in a high traffic, loud part of the house will be even more difficult for them. We’ve set Cole up with a desk in our office and can keep the door closed while he’s in class. The room is also very well lit with big windows which I think is also important! Wherever you can find a quiet, well lit place in your home – this is a great place to make your child’s learning spot. Their bedroom, a spare room, office, or even a nook in a quiet area of the home can all work great. For Evan’s homeschool preschool, we’ve set up a folding table in the dining room that is perfect for withstanding paint and messy crafts.

ColeHomeschoolDesk2020-1Desk | Similar Chair | Chromebook

Schedule your day like a typical school day

Although we are at home, it is important to me that Cole treats the day like he would any other school day. We get up at our usual time and have breakfast, get dressed, brush teeth, comb his hair, and make sure he’s logged in on time. I don’t want him rolling out of bed last minute and showing up in pajamas because I feel that getting into that typical routine will help him be more productive with learning. Evan’s preschool day is significantly shorter, but we still get dressed and ready for school, and start and end our school time at the same time every day.

Make sure you have all of the school supplies on your school’s list

Cole’s school year has begun with all the assignments the kids would have done even if they had been in person. Some of the assignments are paper assignments we have to pick up at the school and complete at home – and these have required colored pencils, notebooks, and pencils. Even if you’re online, be prepared with all of the supplies your school had on your school supply list.

ColeHomeschoolDesk2020-4Cole’s Tee | Shorts

Be prepared to help with technology struggles

Cole is frequently coming out of the office and asking me to help him figure out something the teacher has asked him to do on the computer. And I often hear kids telling the teacher they can’t figure out what to do and she asks them to get a parent to help. Yes – we parents often don’t know how to do it either and it’s frustrating at times…but being prepared and available to help out will make your child’s school day a bit easier.

Get organized

Although a designated desk for your child isn’t required (any table space can work!), it has certainly made things a lot easier for Cole. His desk was super inexpensive (under $50!) and is really small (it could fit almost anywhere!), but it has a few drawers and shelves that help him keep his schoolwork and supplies organized. I hung a few clipboards on the wall above his desk so he can hang up papers he needs to keep track of and be able to quickly access like completed homework and password lists. A whiteboard has also been helpful for writing reminders or for jotting down quick notes. And a small desk clock is a must for helping him keep track of recess breaks.

ColeHomeschoolDesk2020-2Similar Clipboards | Similar Whiteboard | Clock | Similar Pencil Holder

Make the best of it

This hasn’t been easy. It’s far from ideal. But it’s an opportunity to teach your kids to weather the storms of life and make the best of tough times. Cole has had an incredibly tough year with his little brother being so sick and now missing his school, friends, and extra curricular activities. But I just keep reminding him that this too shall pass and things won’t be this way forever. And we are all in this together. Cole wants to go into computer software or engineering as an adult, so I also remind him that this year of online learning will be helpful for him one day and give him a bit of an early start to working with computers. Attitude really is everything and if you can look for something positive to focus on, it will make a big difference in tackling this whole new experience! We’ve also tried to keep the fun traditions intact like the first day of school pictures…and we’ve also added some fun things like having some of the kids’ favorite foods for lunch outside and playing laser tag during recess.

img_6817Cole’s Tee

My Picks From The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

My Picks From The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

( Coats:  Left | Center | Right )

I debated if I wanted to blog about the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale this year or not. Last year I felt the sale was not very well run as I received multiple incorrect orders, had tons of cancellations, and even had some of my orders shipped to the wrong people. And when I previewed the sale a few weeks back, I was a bit disappointed in the offerings this year as many of the same items from last year were included again this year. But a few days ago a friend of mine reached out sharing some of her picks from the sale and asking me what I was going to buy…and it was kind of a fun reprieve to talk about shopping instead of so many other hardships we’ve both been personally facing, as well as the stress of the global pandemic. The sale has been a tradition for me for so many years, so this weekend I took another look and ended up adding a number of things to my wishlist. This year I’m definitely gravitating towards athleisure and lots of cozy sweaters.

NordstromSale2020-1NordstromSale2020-2One | Two | ThreeFour | Five | Six | SevenEightNine | Ten | ElevenTwelve | Thirteen | FourteenFifteenSixteen | Seventeen | EighteenNineteen | Twenty | Twenty One | Twenty TwoTwenty Three | Twenty FourTwenty Five

One | I was eyeing this sweater awhile back but never pulled the trigger, so I added it to my wishlist when I saw it in the sale. I’m really drawn to this rust color for fall, and I always love a good chunky sweater.

Two | This sweatshirt and matching palazzo pants are a dark horse surprise for me. This is exactly what I want to live in all winter long.

Three | A cheery little athleisure tank to wear for the rest of summer

Four | Every year I think about buying these, and every year I pass because I already have a few pairs of faux leather leggings. This is the year that I’m thinking I definitely need to buy them as slightly dressed up leggings will make me feel more fancy at home.

Five | So different than anything I own, and I’m really wanting to try these out

Six | Perfect for the rest of summer

Seven | I love the color and button detail on this AllSaints sweater

Eight | I have 3 pairs of these pajamas, and I think I’ll buy another set this year. They come in several fun color options this year too.

Nine | These Patagonia sweaters are a workhorse piece that are so versatile. From wearing as a fall jacket, to a layering piece during the winter, this is a piece I’m sure to get a lot of use out of.

Ten | This is pretty pricey for a wool sweater, but the color and cut are perfection

Eleven | Really loving everything about this cashmere sweater from the color, to the rib detail, to the oversize cut. I can see this paired with skinny jeans and sneakers.

Twelve | This is a great price for a classic cashmere sweater. This one looks identical to the Vince cashmere sweater I purchased in the sale last year that I paid four times more for. It comes in 6 different colors as well.

Thirteen | I can see this cashmere tunic worn with everything this fall and winter. A great basic workhorse piece. It comes in several color options too. It’s still pricey, but a very good price for Nordstrom cashmere.

Fourteen | I really like the oversize cozy look of this sweater. This one is already selling fast, so I don’t expect it to last long, but it’s still well stocked in this pretty cinnamon color.

Fifteen | I’ve been really drawn to light wash jeans lately and these are probably my favorite jeans in the sale

Sixteen | This under $100 teddy coat would be perfect for throwing over my sweats for grocery runs

Seventeen | I stock up on this lotion every year for the whole family to use

Eighteen | While I’m loving the lighter washed, distressed jeans I listed above, these are definitely more practical for me. Just the perfect mid-wash color jean.

Nineteen | Another sweater I think is pretty pricey as it’s wool, but it is perfect v-neck slouchy goodness. Also comes in a pretty blue color.

Twenty | This is one of my favorite leave in conditioners, and I love that it comes with an oil too

Twenty One | I like the light color of this cutting board. It would make a lovely gift as well for the holiday season.

Twenty Two | This is one of my favorite brands for booties, and I especially love this cognac color (they come in 5 colors)

Twenty Three | I love the color combo of these Nikes

Twenty Four | I foresee a lot more time at home in the coming months, and you can never have enough cozy blankets

Twenty Five | This is my favorite brand of lip color, and this set is a great value

 

And a few picks for my boys…

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Celebrate National Ice Cream Day By Making It With Your Kids

Celebrate National Ice Cream Day By Making It With Your Kids

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Did you know that this Sunday is National Ice Cream Day?! What better way to celebrate than by making this simple version of homemade ice cream and having a little ice cream party with your kids.

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 2 sandwich ziplock bags
  • 1 gallon ziplock bag
  • 3 cups crushed ice
  • 1/3 cup ice cream salt
  • Toppings of your choice
Directions

Put first 3 ingredients in one of the small ziplock bags and tightly seal. Then double bag that inside the 2nd small bag (this is to ensure none of the salt gets in – you don’t want salty ice cream!). I also recommend using high quality ziplock bags.

Put the ice and rock salt in the large gallon size bag, then add the smaller filled bags. Seal the large bag.

Squeeze (or shake!) the large bag for 10-15 minutes until ice cream is thickened. You will want to wear gloves or pot holder mittens for this!

Remove small bag, unseal, and serve!

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Here’s a few other really fun tools and ice cream accessories if you want to get even fancier with making homemade ice cream…

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One | This is just like Coldstone where you can mix things into your ice cream

Two | This mini size ice cream maker is perfect for kids and small portions – and won’t take up much cupboard space

Three | This ice cream making attachment goes right on your stand mixer

Four | If you make large portions, you’ll need a tub like this to store it

Five | A glass ice cream bowl makes you feel a bit more fancy

Six | I love the idea of making homemade ice cream sandwiches

Seven | A sleek looking ice cream maker

Eight | Such a fun topping mix

Nine | A good scoop is a must

Ten | This ice cream cone cake pan would be so fun

Eleven | Perfect for a kids ice cream party

Twelve | This little bowl is so neat – you can roll up your ice cream or cut it into shapes

Fashionable Face Mask Finds

Masks are definitely here to stay for the time being, and I’m happy to see that there are some stylish options out there! I have to admit – I don’t hate wearing them because I’m not a fan of forced chatting when I run into people when I’m out and about (now I get to be incognito!), plus I don’t need to worry about make up at all when I go out since I’m covered up anyway. And I kinda love the idea of making them a fashion accessory which makes them a little more fun to wear too! Today I’m sharing some really fashionable mask finds that I’ve rounded up.

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In all seriousness, Covid-19 is very concerning as it can be so dangerous – even to individuals that don’t seem high risk. A young, healthy nurse practitioner just passed away from it here in the Boise area just a few days after being diagnosed. Our family is taking every precaution we can as it would be devastating for Evan, and my husband also has some underlying health issues which could make it more dangerous for him as well. Please mask up to protect yourself and others, continue to socially distance, and practice good hand hygiene! We can do this!

Grilled Brie With Berries

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While summer is in full swing, we are trying to make the most of our quarantine at home with lots of time spent on the patio. And of course that includes lots of grilling and enjoying meals outside. Today I wanted to share a simple summer appetizer that can be whipped up in minutes!

Grilled Brie With Berries

Ingredients
  • Cedar plank
  • 1 – 8 oz wheel of Brie cheese
  • 1 cup mixed berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • Optional: Crackers, grilled baguette slices
Directions

Soak cedar plank in water per package directions (most are around 30 minutes)

Heat grill on medium-high heat

Place cedar plank on the grill and char for about 5 minutes

Flip cedar plank to place Brie on the charred side of plank. Pile berries on top of Brie (some berries will fall down onto the cedar plank). Drizzle honey over the berries. Reduce heat to medium, close the lid, and grill 8-10 minutes. (You want the cheese soft but you will want to take it off the grill before it starts oozing)

Remove Brie from cedar plank and serve on cutting board or platter along with crackers or grilled baguette slices.

Cedar Plank | Similar Cutting Board | Similar Monogram Cheese Spreader | Towel

Recent Buys…

Today I wanted to share a round up of a few recent purchases that I’m really loving! (Please excuse the wrinkles – I literally tried most of these on right after getting them.)

Blouse

I actually got this top awhile back, but wanted to include it because it’s on major sale (and comes in a few other colors too).

Similar Tee | Skirt | Sneakers | Bag

I’ve been really loving the leopard midi skirt trend but a satin version isn’t super practical for “mom life.” This version is much more wearable for everyday, and with sneakers it’s perfect for errands.

Dress | Belt (old – similar) | Similar Shoes

I bought this dress last year in purple and really loved it, so when I saw it was available again this year in white I snapped it up! Just a great simple white dress.

Dress | Similar Sandals

This dress is literally a throw on and go dress. Its knit so there’s no wrinkles and it has pockets.

Dress | Similar Sandals

All of the reviews said this dress ran really large so I sized down. It’s a bit snug in the bust, so I kinda wish I had gone with my normal size – but as the rest of the dress is voluminous (and I can see why people say it fits large) I think I’ll keep this size. It’s such a great color – and as you can see I’m really loving the tie waist shirt dress silhouette.

Dress | Similar Sandals

SO. COMFORTABLE. This dress feels like pajamas but it fits so cute.

Top (sold out – similar) | Jeans | Similar Sandals

Puffy sleeves! I love a good puffy sleeve top and this one will go with pretty much anything. These jeans aren’t new, but I just ordered a 2nd identical pair in the Amazon sale because I love them so much and wear them constantly.

Earrings

I remember seeing these around the holidays and missed out on them. I just found them again for this steal of a deal and I think they will be great with sweaters this fall and winter.

Adult Masks | Kids Masks

These are a super affordable 5 pack and the colors are fun

Joggers | Shorts | Space Tee | Stripe Tee

Despite Evan’s long hospitalization, he’s had a major growth spurt and nothing fits him! I wanted to get him a few new summer options and create a little capsule wardrobe to get us through the next few months.

Blue Tee | Orange Shorts | Stripe Tee | Sneakers

Little boys Veja’s…so stinking cute.

Pajamas For Hot Summer Nights

Pajamas (sold out – similar here & here) | Slippers

With not a ton going on these days, I’ve been upping my pajama and loungewear game. As the days have gotten hotter, it’s nice having some warm weather pajamas that still look cute enough that I can drink my coffee in them out on the patio in the mornings! Today I’ve rounded up some cute options for hot summer nights.

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One | I have the pants version of these, and the fabric is so incredibly soft and comfortable

Two | These have over 2,000 reviews and are super affordable

Three | These satin pjs are so pretty

Four | Tons of rave reviews and only $22

Five | This little romper is on sale, and this is such a fun and different option

Six | If you don’t want to get shorts, you could try these capris

Seven | This lemon print set screams summer

Eight | These are just so classic

Nine | A nightshirt is another fun option

Ten | These flamingo print pjs are so sweet

Eleven | Mint green is so fresh feeling

Twelve | This jersey set looks incredibly comfortable

Scenes From The 4th…

How was everybody’s 4th of July?! Ours was very low key as we are continuing to quarantine at home as much as possible, but it was still a nice day spent together as a family. The weather was actually not as hot as it typically is here in July, so we were able to spend much of the day outside. We had a patriotic pancake brunch, and for dinner I put together an all-American hot dog bar! Today I wanted to share a few snapshots of our holiday…

img_5865img_5870July42020-1July42020-6July42020-7Table | Chairs | Similar Runner | Placemats | Plates | Plastic Tumblers | VaseJuly42020-2July42020-3July42020-4July42020-5Galvanized Tray | Similar Galvanized Flag Tray | Stars & Stripes Dip Bowls | Galvanized Utensil Caddy

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Ideas For A Fun 4th Of July At Home

Ideas For A Fun 4th Of July At Home

My Romper (old – similar and also love this similar blue option!) | Sandals | Bag | Sunglasses | Boys flag tank

Like many places, Covid cases are rapidly accelerating here in Boise and new restrictions have been reimplemented banning groups larger than 50 people. Which of course means no annual parade or fireworks. While we will miss these fun traditions this year, I’m all in favor of prioritizing keeping our family safe and healthy! That said, I still want to make sure we have fun celebrating the holiday even if we will be quarantining at home. Today I’m putting together a list of some activities you can do at home with your kids to celebrate the 4th of July this year.

🇺🇸 HAVE A BIKE PARADE 🇺🇸

BikeDecorations

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While we may not be able to attend an actual parade, we can still have our own! I thought it would be fun to have the kids decorate their bikes and ride around the neighborhood…and even invite other neighborhood kids to join in (safely socially distanced of course!)

 

🇺🇸 WATER FUN 🇺🇸

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With no local pools open, we will opt for some water fun at home! We were gifted a huge inflatable pool when Evan got home from the hospital, which we are planning to fill up for the holiday. We can also get our water guns and water balloons out for even more fun!

 

🇺🇸 HOT DOG BAR 🇺🇸

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An all-American hot dog bar is the perfect easy and patriotic meal for the 4th of July

 

🇺🇸 MAKE PATRIOTIC SHIRTS 🇺🇸

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There are so many fun ways you could create a patriotic shirt – from painting your own design, to tie dye, to bedazzling…this is sure to be a fun activity

 

🇺🇸 BUCKETS OF FUN 🇺🇸

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Putting together a bucket of activities and treats to keep the kids busy all day is sure to make the day a bit more special. Sidewalk chalk, bubbles, sunglasses, glow sticks, tattoos, cracker jacks, and pop rocks would all be fun options

 

🇺🇸 WATCH A PATRIOTIC MOVIE OUTSIDE 🇺🇸

MovieOne | Two | Three | Four | FiveSix

Set up a projector and screen, and watch something patriotic. My pick would be Hamilton on Disney+ which is coming out on July 3rd!

 

🇺🇸 FIREWORKS 🇺🇸

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While we may not get to see the big show this year, we will still be able to have a few small fireworks at home. My kids especially love pop its – which are super fun and safe for the little ones. You could also do some non firework festive options like silly string or confetti poppers!