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

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

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

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.

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ HAVE A BIKE PARADE ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ

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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!)

 

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ WATER FUN ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ

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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!

 

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ HOT DOG BAR ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ

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

 

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ MAKE PATRIOTIC SHIRTS ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ

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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

 

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ BUCKETS OF FUN ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ

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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

 

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ WATCH A PATRIOTIC MOVIE OUTSIDE ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ

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

 

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ FIREWORKS ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ

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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!

Best Of Memorial Day Sales

MemorialDaySalesOne | Two |ย Three | Four | Five | Six | Seven | Eight | Nine |ย Ten

One | This eyelet top is SO good and only $12. Ordered

Two | I need new pool towels and this one is so chic and under $5

Three | I have and love this vacuum! This is a great deal at $100 off.

Four | Such a chic little wear with anything bodysuit. And only $8. Ordered.

Five | These darling sandals are sitting in my cart. 40% off

Six | A great deal on Tory Burch sandals, and this bright colorway is so fun for summer

Seven | I’ve been looking for some new planters and I like these simple ones

Eight | A great deal on a classic sneaker! Can be worn with anything from jeans, to shorts, to sundresses. Ordered

Nine | I would love to upgrade the dresser in the boys’ room. This one looks so much more expensive than it is.

Ten | We don’t have much of a yard, but would still love to plant a little garden on our patio. I’ve been looking for a raised bed like this.

Happy Memorial Day! Thankful today and everyday for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms we all enjoy today.

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Memorial Day At Home

This Memorial Day we had planned on heading out for a week long vacation to Mexico. But obviously with Evan still recovering and dealing with Covid, we won’t be heading anywhere anytime soon. And honestly, after 3 months in the hospital…I am SO thankful to be coming home and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Quarantine at home honestly sounds pretty heavenly about now! And there’s nothing I want to do more than have a relaxing little backyard BBQ and spend the day enjoying having our family all together again. Today I’m sharing some fun finds and ideas for having your own backyard Memorial Day BBQ.

Grill | This grill isn’t just cute, it also has great reviews

Grill Tools | This is a great deal for a very complete grill tool kit

Hot Dog Bar | We had a hot dog bar for Cole’s 9th birthday and it was a huge hit, plus it is super simple to put together.

Melamine Plates | These are so pretty, I think I’m going to have to order these. The white and blue adds a little patriotic feel, but they could be used all summer long.img_4771

Drink Bin | I’ve had this this $8 galvanized bin for a long time, and still love it.img_4774

Serving Platter | I love serving things outside on galvanized trays as well and this one is only $8

Popsicles | Making your own popsicles is a fun way to kick off summer with the kids

Garden Lantern | Such a cute little lantern to spruce up your outdoor table

Picnic Blanket | I love the carrying handle on this classic picnic blanketimg_4768

Slip n Slide | We may not be able to go to the public pool, but this is just as fun

Cornhole Game | This is such a classic backyard BBQ game and my kids always have fun playing
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Quarantine Favorites

Being in the hospital for nearly 3 months has been a special kind of quarantine experience. The hospital only allows one parent to visit at a time, and you have to have daily screening/temperature checks, as well as wear a mask anytime you leave your room. It has definitely been very isolating and tough, so I’ve tried to bring as many comforts from home as I can to get Evan and I through!

Cozy Loungewear Set

This set is so soft, cozy, and affordable! You could definitely sleep in it, but it looks pulled together enough to wear out. I’ve been wearing mine here in the hospital a ton!

Top | Joggers

Comfortable Yet Stylish Joggers

I love these so much I bought 3 colors. They are fitted but still super comfortable and soft.

Joggers

Skims Bra

I wanted a few basic bralettes that would be soft and comfortable. I ordered this in 2 colors and I’ve been loving them so far.

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Slippers

I wanted a pair of slippers I could toss after our few months in the hospital. These look like Uggs but at a tiny fraction of the price.

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Pillow Spray

This spray helps us get a good night’s sleep (which is no easy feat in the hospital!), plus it makes our room smell so nice

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Kiehl’s Ultimate Strength Hand Salve

With the constant hand washing these days, a good hand cream is in order. One of my friends gave this to me and I absolutely love it.

Lotion

Book

There’s nothing like a good book to pass the time. I found the Elizabeth Holmes documentary so fascinating that I decided to read the book too. It’s incredibly well written and a total page turner.

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Hair Treatment

My hair isn’t getting much love these days, and who knows when I’ll be able to make it to the salon again. In the meantime, this 8 second treatment is a nice (and quick!) conditioning treatment.

img_4714.jpgHair Treatment

Le Creuset Dutch Oven

Okay I haven’t actually used this one yet being in the hospital, but my family gifted me this Dutch oven for Mother’s Day which has been on my wishlist for ages. And Le Creuset just happens to be having a sale which literally NEVER happens. I can’t wait to go home and cook all of our quarantine meals in this.

Dutch Oven

Camera

I’ve been documenting Evan’s recovery journey in photos and I also plan to spend a lot more time practicing photography when I get home. It’s such a fun hobby for me, and I think having a hobby during this stressful time is so important.

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Minecraft Set

Evan is loving all things cheery and cozy, and he is obsessed with Minecraft. One of his therapists gifted him this cozy blanket and the Easter bunny brought him the fun matching pillow!

 

Blanket | Pillow

Kids Sweatpants

This 3 pack of joggers is a steal and Evan’s therapists are always commenting on how soft they are (and they all wanted to know where to get them for their own kids!).

Joggers

Monkey Noodles

Evan was given a few of these at the hospital and he loves them. They are a great little fidget toy.

Monkey Noodles

Suspicion Game

Cole got this board game in his Easter basket, and we got to play it together a few times before Evan and I left for Utah. Board games can be hit or miss with Cole, but he really loves this one (and itโ€™s even pretty fun for grownups!).

0EA48CD4-820F-41F9-9E13-59CD82C57B4BSuspicion

Disney+

When Evan isn’t in therapy, there isn’t a whole lot to do since most of the hospital activities are closed up right now due to Covid. So we’ve been on a movie marathon and are making our way through the whole Disney catalogue!

Disney+

Recent Buys I’m Loving

Today I wanted to do a quick round up of my favorite buys from the past month! First up is the Nespresso Espresso machine that my husband and I decided would be our Christmas gift to each other. I love being able to make lattes at home, and this one is so simple to use! HIGHLY recommend this one if you are in the market for an espresso maker.

img_1710Espresso Maker

I finally caved in to the hype and bought an air fryer! This one has so many rave reviews on Amazon I figured I couldn’t go wrong. It seems like a superfluous kitchen gadget, but it truly has been such an amazing investment! It cooks things so quickly and the cleanup is minimal which makes it great for busy weeknights. I’ve been using it a ton and it makes the best salmon and chicken.

img_1065Air Fryer

Please pardon my messy fridge, but adding these bins has been a big improvement. We always seem to lose things at the back of the fridge, and bins allow us to easily pull things out and take better inventory of what exactly we have.

img_1714Organizing Bins

At the beginning of the year I had mentioned that one of my goals for the new year was to do a better job of meal planning. I’m still struggling with this one, but this handy little meal planner/grocery list magnet is helping me improve in this area.

img_1063Meal Planner Magnet

Our back door is the congregation place for all of our shoes, and while we have a mud bench area with some shoe storage, it doesn’t give us nearly enough space. I added this shoe rack to hang on the back of our laundry room door (which is right next to our back door) and has been doing an amazing job of keeping our doorway clutter free.

img_0662Shoe Rack

I recently snagged this cropped Vince cashmere sweater on sale, and I loooove the silhouette and color. Vince just makes the best sweaters, and I’m always so excited to find a great one on sale. I’m also loving these new jeans which are the AG Isabelle style – they have the high rise that I love, with a slightly updated straight leg.

img_1721Sweater | Jeans | Booties | Bag

I’ve been eyeing this cute little sweater for awhile, and finally grabbed it. It’s a really cute, wear with anything top with a fun sleeve detail. These are another pair of AG Isabelle jeans that I snapped up on major sale at Shopbop.

img_1720Sweater | Jeans | Booties | Bag

Anyone else watch Newlyweds back in the day?! When I heard this book was coming out I knew I had to read it and bought it the day it was released (and finished it within a few days). It was a fun blast from the past with lots of 2000s nostalgia and Jessica’s honesty about some horrible things she has overcome is really inspiring!

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