Sliding Into Summer

After nearly 3 months in the hospital, Evan is finally home!!! While we continue to work on recovery with outpatient rehabilitation 4 days a week, we are making sure to leave some free time for some summer fun. As we are still observing social distancing, (and public pools are closed anyway) we have to bring the fun to us at home. This is definitely going to be a different and much more challenging summer, but I’m determined to still create fun memories for the kids and provide lots of stimulation for Evan to help facilitate his recovery progress. The other day we had record high temperatures, so we set up our slip n slide and had a fun afternoon enjoying the sunshine.

Slip N Slide Essentials

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Young Warrior

Young Warrior

March 3rd was just a normal day. Evan and I ran errands, picked Cole up from school, had dinner together, and were getting ready to go to Taekwondo. And in an instant our lives were changed forever. Evan started screaming in pain holding his head and became very weak & nauseous. I immediately knew it was a neurological emergency and I threw both kids in the car and raced towards the emergency room. Cole and I were screaming and crying begging Evan to hold on as he lost consciousness. When we arrived at the ER I told them that Evan was having a stroke. The ER doctor told me that it was “highly unlikely” but proceeded to take him for a CT scan which confirmed my hunch. He had a large bleed on his brain & I truly thought we were going to have to say goodbye right there in the ER. But moments later, in walked Dr Jutzy (one of Evans Pediatric Neurosurgeons) who smiled at me and said, “I think we can do something here.” Evan was rushed to emergency surgery to place a drain in his head, and Dr Jutzy’s words gave me the glimmer of hope I needed to endure what was to come.

E4336D0B-20D9-46D0-BE03-45D1E439434BMarch 5th – 2 days after his brain injury

For over 3 weeks after, Evan faced a battle that most people will be lucky enough to never experience. Evan was diagnosed with an AVM, a rare congenital blood vessel abnormality on the brain. People can actually have these their entire lives, and may or may not ever cause a problem. In Evan’s case, he developed an aneurysm which ruptured and bled. It was a constant battle in those weeks to try to stabilize him and treat the aneurysm. Not only did an attempted angiogram to try to treat the aneurysm fail, he suffered respiratory distress from a mucous plug and a code blue was called. He had to have an emergency bronchoscopy to save his life again. He then developed severe vasospasms in the vessels in his brain which caused additional strokes, and had to have a second emergency angiogram to attempt to open the vessels. This was followed by trips to CT every other day, and as he was so unstable he went with a team of 2 RTs, 2 RNs & occasionally a doctor, to continue to evaluate the vasospasms to make sure they weren’t returning. To treat the strokes, he was intentionally fluid overloaded to perfuse the brain as much as possible – which also caused horrible swelling making him completely unrecognizable. The pressure in his head was so high he continued to need to be put in a deeper and deeper coma with the aid of barbiturates and paralytics. There were a lot of long nights with 4-5 nurses and a doctor in his room fighting to stabilize him while all I could do was sit there and shake. There was talk of not being able to extubate him and potentially needing a tracheotomy. I tried so hard to hang onto hope, but it was obvious the situation was incredibly dire and we were going to need a miracle.

And by the grace of God, we began to witness a miracle unfold. On March 28th we crossed our fingers and extubated him. He started breathing and opening his eyes. Over the following week, his breathing remained labored, but he continued to wake up more and more. He eventually started following commands, smiling at us, and moving his extremities. And our biggest miracle was yet to come.

909E815C-C23C-4E72-A758-F1BE73E296CAApril 11th – our last day in PICU just prior to transferring to the Pediatric unit

On April 16th, a 3rd angiogram was performed in another attempt to embolize the aneurysm in Evan’s brain. Once an aneurysm has bled, it has a very high risk of bleeding again and every single day it felt like we were sitting on a ticking time bomb. When Evan went back to surgery, I kissed him goodbye and said a prayer for peace and surrender – trusting that God would see us through. The mood had been somber with Evan’s doctors that morning. After the last failed attempt, we all knew that there was a high probability that it could fail again.

9D409D1D-D2C3-4950-AB88-DB6D841713F8An image of the AVM

After waiting about 4 hours while Evan was back in surgery, our interventional radiologist Dr Bell came to the waiting room and told me he had some news. Not only did they successfully embolize the aneurysm, they got the AVM too. This wasn’t even something we had thought was going to be possible and had just hoped the aneurysm would be stabilized. We had been planning to pursue radiation treatments in the coming months to treat the AVM and there was no discussion of embolization even being an option. Covid be damned because I hugged Dr Bell as hard as I could and sobbed happy tears – and I hear there was a whole lot of high fiving and cheers happening in the angio suite too!!! We are so thankful to Evan’s incredibly skilled doctors (Dr Bell, Dr Perl, Dr Cherny, Dr Zouros, and Dr Jutzy) who didn’t give up on this incredible challenge. And so grateful to God for making a way. We witnessed a true miracle that day.

img_3243After his angiogram on April 16th. “This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalms 118:24

I’ve always known how special Evan is…and in this very trying time he has touched the hearts of so many. We had a string of surgical staff coming to the recovery room after Evan’s angiogram, who had heard Evan’s story and had been waiting weeks for this day with their fingers crossed for us. People we had never met were congratulating us & just giddy with excitement. After his procedure we were sent back to PICU for observation, and all of our PICU family was just as excited as we were! They said they had been calling down the whole time trying to get updates. His anesthesiologist began to tear up and told me that she’s been following us very close since she first met us in the ER the night of Evan’s emergency surgery, because her own 3 year old nephew was lost in a horrible tragedy about the same time we were admitted. Seeing Evan hang on and continue to get better had brought her some joy in this time of her own personal grief. I still think of her often, and I pray for comfort and peace for her and her family.

E9F3531A-DE3F-4365-9DD5-C12E3E991468April 21st – Evan’s first day of inpatient rehab

We are currently at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City undergoing inpatient rehab. Evan has a long, challenging road ahead. He is having to relearn everything – from speaking, to eating, to walking. He has to rebuild his strength completely as even just sitting up independently is a challenge for him. Despite the difficult days here, Evan continues to make huge strides every day. He works his body and mind to the point of complete exhaustion, all with a smile on his face. Every day I am more and more in awe of his incredible strength and resilience. Evan’s name in Welsh means “God has been gracious” and in Celtic it means “young warrior.” Our young warrior is fighting hard and God is watching over him every step of the way.

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Working so hard to regain strength! April 30th

During this time of great uncertainty in the world, we have seen that God still performs miracles. We are witnessing one unfold and I’m so incredibly grateful. God also sends his helpers, and boy…were we blessed with the presence of true angels. People who were strangers to us 2 months ago, are now our family. I can’t express the love and gratitude we have for the heroes at St Lukes Children’s Hospital in Boise. Not only did they expertly care for Evan saving his life over and over, they loved him like their own. They cried with us on the bad days and cheered with us on the good days. They surrounded Evan and stood in prayer at his bedside with us. They were just as giddy as we were seeing him make such huge improvements, and as one of his RT’s said, “he’s our miracle boy.” To his neurosurgeons, ICU doctors, rehab doctors, RNs, PTs, OTs, STs, RTs, CNAs, chaplains, child life specialists, social workers…you are all heroes. We’ve had the added aspect of facing a global pandemic during our time in the hospital, and the courage and sacrifice of our healthcare workers continuing to carry on despite their personal risk and fears is truly heroism. Thank you all and we love and appreciate you more than we can ever say.

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Saying goodbye to a few of the incredible PICU doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists that saved Evan’s life before leaving for rehab

We all think that something like this will never happen. But life can be inherently cruel and unfair, and I now fully realize how fragile it is. Tomorrow is never promised and your life can be shattered in an instant. Don’t take any moments for granted. Hug and kiss your kids constantly. Don’t wait until tomorrow to spend time with them. Let them sleep with you, play with them, find joy in every day. All the little things you are annoyed with or bothered by day to day…realize that those moments are actually a blessing. Most problems in life really are trivial. When you are sitting in an ICU praying for your child to live, you truly realize that what you thought were tough days, are in fact a gift. Embrace them. And no matter what trials you may be faced with…don’t lose hope. Your miracle may be just around the corner.

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“He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted” Job 5:9 

Valentines Gifts For The Kids

Valentine’s Day around our house is typically a family affair where we do a gift exchange for everyone in the family and share a fun dinner together. We typically keep gifts minimal, but I do like gifting my boys each a small basket filled with things like bath bombs, small toys/games, books, and candies. Today I wanted to share a few fun ideas for Valentine’s gifts for the littles!

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OneTwo | Three | Four | FiveSixSeven | EightNineTen | ElevenTwelve | Thirteen | FourteenFifteen | SixteenSeventeen | EighteenNineteen | Twenty | Twenty OneTwenty Two

One :: For the kiddo that’s too cool for something sappy

Two :: I’m pretty sure every kid loves slime and this glitter kit looks really fun

Three :: Every girl I know loves making bracelets

Four :: This non-toxic nail polish set is perfect for little piggies

Five :: I love this sweet little hooded towel

Six :: Evan got this watch for Christmas and he loves it

Seven :: A special way to tell your kiddo all the ways you love them

Eight :: Dylan’s candy bar has the cutest candy for special occasions

Nine :: This organic cotton onesie is perfect for your littlest valentine

Ten :: This smart phone controlled paper airplane kit is a super fun way to deliver a valentine

Eleven :: A mommy and me set of trendy heart shaped sunglasses would be so fun

Twelve :: Perfect chocolate treat for the gamer

Thirteen :: My boys are getting whoopie cushions in their valentines baskets, which I know they will get a kick out of

Fourteen :: My kiddos love kinetic sand, and this is a really cute set

Fifteen :: When I picked Evan up from preschool the other day his teacher was reading this to the class, and Ev was loving it so much he kept scooting closer and closer. Such a cute book!

Sixteen :: This rose scented thinking putty is great for helping kids relax and focus

Seventeen :: The heart shaped pocket is a sweet touch on this tee

Eighteen :: Perfect for the crafty kid

Nineteen :: Every lego lover needs this in their collection

Twenty :: Literally the sweetest little shoes

Twenty One :: Channel his inner cupid with this fun bow and arrow set

Twenty Two :: Your little one can love on their very own rescue pet

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Evan’s Minecraft 5th Birthday Party

This past week (January 20, 2020 to be exact!) my sweet little Evan turned five. FIVE. I still can’t really believe it. He still feels like my little baby and part of me really can’t handle it. But it is so fun seeing the little person he is becoming and I love his big personality and his very strong opinions. And this very strong willed kiddo really wanted a Minecraft themed birthday to celebrate this year…and what the birthday boy wants the birthday boy gets!

We had his birthday party at a local trampoline park and celebrated with a few of his favorite friends from school, along with some family friends. It was such a special day and so much fun was had by all. The kids especially loved the Minecraft themed candy bar, and they each got to fill up a little bag to take home with them as well.

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Party Supply Sources

Lunch Plates

Dessert Plates

Lunch Napkins

Beverage Napkins

Minecraft Birthday Banner

Minecraft Birthday Backdrop

Minecraft Party Favors and Axe Glow Wand

Party Bags (I drew the creeper image on with a sharpie!)

Cake Topper

Party Hats (similar)

Galvanized Tray

Candy Bar: Iron, Diamonds, Coal, Gold, Watermelon, Fish

Food Labels via Printabelle

Cake by Albertsons Bakery

This little guy is so many things…sweet and sassy, feisty and funny, imaginative, creative, and sensitive. Everything he does is BIG – yes he has a big temper, but the he also loves with such intensity and it completely melts me. He really is just something special and having him in our lives is such a blessing. Love you my little man!

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Self Care For Busy Moms

For week 3 of my wellness series, I wanted to talk about something that I feel is so important for all moms – that we don’t focus on enough! While we are always busy taking care of everyone else, we often let our own self care go by the wayside. But just like we are told on an airplane – in order to help anyone else you really need to put your own oxygen mask on first. Today I wanted to discuss some tips for making sure you are prioritizing your own well being and giving yourself the care you need.

Make time for exercise

When I had my first son, I quickly realized that finding time to work out was a challenge. If I waited for my husband to get home from work, I was often too tired to go to the gym that late, and early morning workouts after being up with a baby felt impossible. I realized that finding exercise that I could incorporate into my schedule and include my baby made things a whole lot easier! I bought a jogging stroller and began going for runs during his nap time (he slept while I ran), and I also started doing mommy and me swim classes and yoga classes. Now that my kids are a bit older, we can do family bike rides, kick a soccer ball around together, or take a family walk or hike. With a little flexibility it is possible to find a way to make regular exercise happen.

Touch base regularly with friends

One thing that isn’t talked about enough, is how isolating motherhood can be. We can all easily get trapped in our own little bubble of family life, but it is really important to reach out for support and adult conversation. It can be hard to find time to talk on the phone, so mom friends and I will often connect by text and just share funny things or vent when needed. It makes it easier to keep in touch over text when you are juggling kids. And try to get out once in awhile too! Even a weekly coffee date/play date with the kids really can be that little break we all need.

Prioritize sleep

When my kids go to bed, I often feel really tired and ready to go to bed myself. But I love this little bit of time to myself so I often stay up way too late – and then of course pay for it the next day. (I think so many moms can relate to this struggle!) Getting adequate sleep is so crucial, and I think it’s important to set a structured bedtime for yourself and make it a priority to get the sleep you need.

Treat yourself to something new

I think it is so easy for moms to stop doing things for themselves and everything becomes about the kids. I know moms who say they haven’t bought themselves anything new in years! Motherhood is often a thankless job, and it’s important to reward yourself from time to time for a job well done. If you find it hard to go shopping for yourself, consider joining a subscription service for something you love (I personally love my Fab Fit Fun subscription!) so that you are forced to get a little treat every now and then. Even just buying yourself a pretty bouquet at the market or treating yourself to that latte at the coffee shop, can really brighten your day! And you deserve it!

Nourish your body

You know how you get busy preparing meals for the kids, and then you end up eating their leftover Mac and cheese when you realize hours later you haven’t fed yourself?! Yep. We’ve all been there. Make sure you are finding time to sit and eat meals (standing in the pantry shoving a few goldfish in your mouth doesn’t count) that are healthy. Have some easy staples on hand – things like overnight oats, egg/veggie casseroles, soups, whole grain bread with lunch meat, Greek yogurts – are all nutritious and can be whipped up into a quick meal in minutes.

Pamper yourself

It can be really easy to stop going to the hair salon or getting your nails done, but having this bit of time for yourself is so important! Even if you feel you absolutely can’t get away to the salon for a few hours, make it a habit to spend 20 minutes a day taking a relaxing bath or developing a nightly skincare routine.

Learn something new

I didn’t realize how much I would feel a loss of my personal identity after I had my first son. Overnight I became a stay at home mom and all of my career ambitions and personal goals really took a backseat. I really started to feel that I needed something for me…and so I took up a few hobbies that I still do to this day! One was running, and while I don’t do as many races as I once did, I still enjoy regularly running 3-4 days a week. And I always had an interest in photography, and finally bought a camera and took some classes. Photography is something I absolutely love and is a huge creative outlet for me.

Ask for help

Nobody, I repeat nobody, can do it all. We all need help from time to time and it truly takes a village. While I have never had a nanny or had any help with the kids from family, I did come to realize that I needed some help. Years ago we hired a housekeeper who comes once a week to help out and I can’t tell you how helpful this is for me. While it’s just a few hours of help for me each week, it really helps me stay on top of the housework the rest of the week and frees up hours of cleaning time so we can enjoy time as a family instead. Whether you hire some help or simply ask your partner, friends, or family for some help from time to time – make sure you get the help you need.

Avoid the comparison trap

With the rise of social media, I feel that this one has become even tricker. Also there is so much societal pressure on women to be able to do it all, and it can be so hard to be constantly seeing images of perfect appearing women appearing to be perfect mothers, wives, employees, etc. The truth is – we are only seeing the highlight reel of anyone else’s life. Even if you feel that everyone else seems to have it all figured out, I can promise you that everyone is struggling with something. I have a very difficult relationship with my family and have now been estranged from them for several years, and it is hard to constantly see women sharing their supportive relationships with their mothers and the grandparent relationships their kids have with their parents. I even admit to feeling envious of my own friends sometimes when their mothers are so involved and jumping to babysit and doting on their grandkids. I have found a few things that help me when I’m really struggling with this and really hurting. One is to practice gratitude. I know that I have SO much to be grateful for and while I may not have been blessed with loving and supportive parents, I am incredibly blessed to have built my own loving and supportive family. And the other thing that really helps – is to unplug when I have to. If I’m seeing something on social media that is a sensitive spot for me – it’s easy to unfollow. I especially avoid social media a lot around Mother’s Day as it’s a very bittersweet day for me. If something (or someone) is making you feel bad – it’s okay to disconnect.

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Healthy Habits To Start The New Year For The Whole Family

For week two of my wellness series, I wanted to talk about some wellness goals that are great for the whole family to take part in, many of which are personal goals I have with my own family this year! It’s never too early to start teaching healthy habits to the kids, plus you have some built in accountability partners when you are all doing these things together.

Drink more water

I am probably the worst offender in my entire family with not drinking enough water. Drinking sparkling water really helps me increase my intake, and I also want to get a good water bottle to take on the go with me.

Practice better sleep hygiene (and get plenty of sleep)

We often watch TV right up until the time we go to bed, and I’m guilty of reading on my phone once I get to bed. I know these things absolutely affect my sleep, and I think it also makes it a bit harder for the kids to fall asleep after watching TV. I would really love to get in the habit of turning off the TV and reading as a family for awhile before tucking in for the night! I tend to be a bit of a night owl as well and really savor my alone time when everyone else goes to bed, but it’s not the best habit as it drastically cuts down my sleep time. I want to start setting a firm 11:00 pm bedtime for myself to make sure I’m getting enough sleep.

Stick with a clean diet during the week

I’ve found that eating clean is easy…as long as I prepare with having plenty of healthy options on hand. And the even bigger key for me is not allowing myself to get hungry. I often get busy and forget to eat, and find myself reaching for junk around 2:00 in the afternoon because I’m starving at that point. Having a structured plan and regular mealtimes makes sticking with healthy choices so much easier. I also really limit the kid’s sugar consumption during the week.

Get active

Winter can be a bit of a struggle for me to find motivation to run when it’s cold out, and I admittedly haven’t been consistent the last few months. Our winter hasn’t even been too brutal so I really don’t have much of an excuse! But even if I don’t feel like running, taking the kids sledding or skiing is great exercise and something the whole family can do together.

Read more

This ties back in to my sleep goals above, but I also want to start reading more in my (limited) free time. I used to read constantly before having kids, and it can be hard to find the time. But even if I can just find a little time after the kids go to bed, or waiting at their Taekwondo classes, I want to make this more of a priority for myself.

Practice and teach gratitude

“It is not joy that makes us grateful, it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” This is one of my absolute favorite quotes and a mantra I try to live my life by. Every day when I pick my kids up from school, I ask them about the good things that happened at school that day. And when they have a bad day, we talk about the lessons we can learn from it to make us better people in the long run. Every day there is something to be grateful for (even if it is just getting through an awful day!), and trying to focus on the good things in our lives makes for a whole lot more happiness.

Try new things

I grew up in an extremely small town and was quite sheltered growing up, so it is really important to me to expose my kids to lots of different things. I really try to be pretty open minded to trying new things and having new experiences. Even something as simple as trying a new restaurant, community event, or taking a trip somewhere – there is always something new to be learned and experienced.

Eat dinner together

I think this is such an important habit to have, and something I really want to be better about. We have extra curricular activities almost nightly, so I often feed the kids right after school, and then my husband and I eat later. I would like to try to get in the habit of all sitting down together on nights that it’s feasible to do so.

Have device free time

We do have a rule that the kids aren’t allowed devices Monday – Thursday, and I’m thinking this would be a really great rule for myself as well. Every weeknight after the kids get home, I want to start putting my phone away and just be fully present and focused on the family. It’s so easy to get caught up with texting friends, checking notifications and email, and scrolling social media. But I think it would also be a good example to set for my kids to follow the same rule I have for them, and also important to be more focused when I’m with them.

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Make 2020 Your Most Organized Year Yet

Happy 2020!!! The very best thing about the new year is that feeling of starting fresh and setting new goals. And to get off on the right track I thought I would do a weekly wellness series for the month of January! Today I’m kicking off the series with talking about my personal organization tips that have been hugely helpful for me, as well as improvements I would like to make myself this year.

MEAL PLAN

Meal planning is probably the number area where I would like to make improvements this year. I tend not to plan meals beyond a few days at a time, so I’m constantly running back to the grocery store for more ingredients every few days. One thing I did invest in a few years ago was an instant pot, and if you don’t have one – get one. If you are like me and have a hard time planning meals ahead of time (and starting a meal at 8 am in the crockpot seems impossible) the instant pot is life changing. I want to keep my meal planning goal attainable for myself – so my goal for 2020 is to at least meal plan for Monday-Thursday each week. Just having those 4 days planned on Sunday would make for a much smoother running week!

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CALENDAR (SYSTEM FOR REMINDERS/LISTS)

I do keep my personal digital calendar up to date, but one thing I keep talking about doing (and still haven’t) is having a central monthly calendar hung up somewhere where everyone in the family can write on it and add activities. I also want to have an area next to the calendar where I can make notes and task reminders as things pop in my head. As any mom knows, when you have a million things to keep track of, you end up forgetting if you don’t write it down right that minute.

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DECLUTTER AND GIVE EVERYTHING A SPACE

When we moved last year we got rid of a ton of stuff. I did a full closet purge for the boys and myself and we donated tons of clothing and toys. I also set a goal for myself last year to overhaul my pantry and closets and make them organized spaces (you can see my pantry here). I’ve been planning on organizing my bathroom cupboards and closets for several months and still haven’t gotten around to it – so that’s at the top of my list this month. I also want to better organize my refrigerator with storage bins as well. Giving every single item in your home a space where it belongs, makes for a super organized and tidy home.

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PRACTICE MINIMALISM

Once you’ve purged, the key is not to refill your spaces with stuff! I’ve heard some people have a rule of one thing in, one thing out to keep a handle on items not getting out of control. I think being more mindful of what you buy is also hugely important. I am someone who is so easily tempted by a good deal, that sometimes I don’t take time to stop and ask myself if I really have a need or space for that item. Being more mindful and asking myself how practical and useful an item will really be for me, is great for keeping a clutter free home.

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STASH BACKUP ITEMS (NECESSITIES + GIFTS/SCHOOL SUPPLIES/CRAFTS)

Any parent knows that when you have kids – there are ALWAYS last minute things that come up. I can’t tell you how many last minute birthday party invites we’ve received, or times the teacher asks for something random for a craft or school project (last year a teacher needed a disposable tablecloth the next day!). I have a bin that I keep stored in a closet for just these emergencies. I keep leftover birthday party decorating supplies, wrapping paper/gift bags, birthday cards, a child’s gift or two (I’ve shared my boy and girl go-to’s below!), and craft supplies all stored in this bin. Also I have learned to keep a few necessities for the house tucked away (like paper towels, toilet paper, toothpaste, medications) for those times when you run out unexpectedly.

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STICK WITH A ROUTINE

This is something our family is pretty strict with during the week, and I can’t tell you how helpful it is for us. We have a very consistent after school and before school routine each day and it truly keeps us on track and helps us be prepared and on time every day. When the kids get home, backpacks and lunch boxes are immediately emptied. Shoes taken off and coats are hung up by the door so they are ready to go the next day. I clean out lunch boxes and start prepping them for the next day and Cole usually completes any home work right away, and then it goes back in his bag. We typically have a very early dinner (which means I need to be prepared & cook early!), and then we head out to extracurriculars. After extracurriculars we typically have baths and then the kids have free time until bedtime (which is consistently 8-8:30 pm). I always lay clothes out the night before, so our morning routine is super quick. We also use Amazon Alexa to set daily timers to keep us on schedule which is super helpful!

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HAVE THE KIDS CHIP IN

It is so important for kids to carry their own weight and help be responsible for their own things. My kids are old enough for simple tasks which they are responsible for, like putting their own laundry in the hamper and putting their own dishes in the dishwasher. They also need to clean up after themselves as they play, and for my older 9 year old – he helps out with cleaning up after the cat and needs to be responsible for putting his gizmo watch at the charging station after school, do his homework, and make sure it’s put back in his bag. Even if everyone just chips in a little and helps with their own items – it makes the whole household much more organized.

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STAY ON TOP OF HOUSEHOLD TASKS

This is one of my number one tip for keeping a tidy, organized home. Did you know that making your bed everyday is linked to general happiness?! I always start my day with making the beds and it really starts my day off on a positive note. And as the day goes on, it is ultimately so much easier to stay on top of small chores rather than trying to play catch up. It can be tempting to procrastinate and say you’ll do the laundry or the dishes tomorrow – but what typically happens is you just get behind and the mess piles up, and eventually it is overwhelming and takes forever to tidy everything. I make sure my sink is empty and dishes washed every night before I go to bed. I also try to do laundry almost every day, so I only have one small daily load to wash and fold and put away. (I really kick myself when I let the clean laundry pile up for days and it takes me hours to fold and put away!).  I also almost always tidy up every single night if there is anything left lying out. There is nothing better than the feeling of going to bed at night with everything done and starting each day fresh with a tidy home.

I hope you find some of these tips and tools helpful! Here’s to an organized 2020!

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Christmas Movie Night With A Hot Cocoa Bar

img_9682img_9686Mini Tree | Beverage Dispenser (Target, old – similar options here, here, here) | Cake Stand | Tiered Serving Dish (this is also such a cute option) | Mini Wreath (Target – similar) | Small Mason Jars | Measuring Spoons | Chocolate Spoons img_9684img_9729img_9724img_9683img_9737facetune_13-12-2019-21-24-42My Pajamas | Boys Pajamas (Gap, sold out – similar)

This past weekend we all snuggled in for an evening of hot cocoa and Christmas movies. Putting together a simple little cocoa bar and wearing matching pajamas makes a family movie night feel a bit more festive! I’m also planning on having the cocoa bar all set up and ready to go on Christmas morning as well. Here’s everything you need for a simple cocoa bar, as well as our very favorite family Christmas movies…

Hot Cocoa Toppings:

Chocolate Chips

Mini Marshmallows

Festive Marshmallows

Crushed Andes Mints

Sprinkles

Candy Canes

Whipped Cream

Chocolate Dipped Stirring Spoon

Our Favorite Family Christmas Movies:

Elf

Home Alone

Home Alone 2

The Polar Express

A Christmas Story

The Grinch

The Christmas Chronicles

The Star

A Charlie Brown Christmas

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A Fun Indoor Play Idea For Winter Break

A Fun Indoor Play Idea For Winter Break

My kids absolutely love camping. They have the time of their lives when we go and they constantly talk about being so excited for summer to go camping again. A few weeks back on a day home from school, Evan started complaining about being bored and wanted to do something “special.” He found our camping lantern and was playing with it – and I had the idea to turn our living room into a campsite for the day! I set up his teepee with his nap mat, all of his stuffed animal friends, some dishes and cookware, and his lantern with flashlights – and he had the absolute best time playing camping! We even had a special camping dinner (hot dogs of course!). And when evening rolled around I also got out my s’mores maker and a star projector to make it feel like we were out under the stars. I turned on the fire so he could have a real campfire too. This turned into days of fun and will be a great way to keep my kiddos entertained during cold winter days!

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This would also make a really fun Christmas gift! Here is everything you need to create a fun indoor campsite…

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Teepee – This is a really great price for a classic striped teepee

Nap mat – This comes in a lot of print options, and would also be great for on the go with littles who still nap!

Lantern – Looks just like the grown-up version

Star projector – Having a room full of stars makes it feel almost like the real thing

Camp Accessory Set – This set has everything including a pretend campfire

Smores maker – We use our s’mores maker fairly often, and is fun for playdates or just a special treat

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Our Favorite Family Christmas Pajamas

img_8836My Pajamas | My Beanie | Boy’s Pajamas

One of our favorite family Christmas traditions is matching family pajamas! Every Christmas Eve before we go to bed, we all gather under the tree to open one present – which of course we all know is our matching Christmas pajamas. We wear them to bed, and then we all match in the morning while we open presents. It is something our entire family looks forward to every year!

In addition to our special Christmas Eve set, I typically do a few more matching sets for the boys – one for photos with Santa, and another under the tree to open Christmas Day. Sometimes I can’t help myself and we even end up with one more set for the family to coordinate leading up to Christmas (what can I say…we love pjs!). That said – clearly we aren’t the only ones because I have found that family pajamas frequently start selling out in November, so I definitely recommend snagging them sooner rather than later. Here’s a peek at some of the pajamas we’ve worn over the years…as well as some others that I’m loving this season!

Plaid Pajamas

My Pajama Bottoms | My Pajama Top | Beanie | Slippers | Boys Pajama Bottoms | Boys Pajama Tops

Plaid Pajamas (Burts Bees – print no longer available. Here are Stripe or Fairisle options)

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetPlaid Family Pajamas (No longer available – similar)

Striped Pajamas

img_8870Pajamas (This Season’s Print)

 

And a few more this season that I’m loving…

White Tartan PJsTree Print PJs | Red Fairisle PJsHoliday Car PJsRed Plaid PJsChristmas Light PJsSignature