kids

At The Nest

There’s nothing like the joy of a toy-filled Christmas… to make me reassess our home organization- specifically the kids bedrooms. Oh, the inspirational clutter of packaging, Lego pieces and Barbie clothes. Although to be fair, I’ve been contemplating a plan to take down the nursery for a while. We are fortunate to live in a home that provides 5 bedrooms upstairs, which gives each of our kids their own room. Except, one of the rooms is significantly smaller than the others. When my grandparents built this home, they had six children in mind. Their oldest son was given the smallest room, but the trade off was that he didn’t have to share. The only daughter in the family was given her own room, and the other two bedrooms were shared by two boys each. When we first bought this home, my desire was to turn that smaller room into an upstairs laundry area (dreamy sigh). However, when baby number four arrived, it was the perfect solution for the nursery. Now that he had outgrown the crib, it was time for another transformation. Originally I thought of one of those cute raised beds, which offers more floor space or a little area for a desk. Then in a stroke of brilliance (possibly overstated) it came to me… the youngest two boys could share a room and I could turn the smaller room into their own personal play area!

It worked out well considering my youngest son received a wooden train table for Christmas, that wouldn’t have conveniently fit in his room with a twin sized bed. (And I really didn’t want it in my living room). I must admit, that my motives might have also been a little selfish- in that I was hopeful the two boys might be more apt to sleep through the night in their own room if they weren’t alone. I think that’s actually why my second-youngest son was so keen on the suggestion. Well that, and the promise of a play room.

I wanted their playroom to reflect their bedroom somewhat, so I kept the blue and white theme with the curtains and toy box. The boys’ bedroom was easy to complete, we just had to steal their sister’s bed frame; which originally was part of a bunk bed set that she split with her brother. As luck would have it, Pottery Barn Kids still carried the striped quilt to match the other. (Well actually to make it a perfect match I need to wash it a couple more times.)

Thankfully, I still had my old bed frame in the basement. And I finally made my first Wayfair purchase! I ordered a made in the USA pillow top mattress, shipped to my front door for free! (Which sure beats trying to slide one over the top of my kids heads in the minivan. Hurray!)

I think the best part of this whole undertaking was the car load of items we were able to drop off at Goodwill, and the broken toys, odds, and ends we kicked to the curb. Sayonara!

(And if you’re wondering, the “Sadie’s Nest” pillows were a thoughtful Christmas gift to me from my parents created at collage.com)

Loving Lately 👚

Loving lately: Clothes Recycling
I love getting rid of stuff. Decluttering is like the best part of organization; which I think is directly related to my good mental health. 


I’m a part of this very well orchestrated system of clothes recycling. In a group of friends of mine, I have the oldest son and my sister has the oldest daughter. It all kind of branches out and braids back in from there. 


I pass the outgrown clothes of my oldest son to my sister’s son and likewise she passes her daughter’s clothing to my daughter. Then when her son outgrows the attire, they get passed back to my third child, my second son. After that, it starts to get fun because when my second son gets too big for his wardrobe, it is passed to my sister’s sister-in-law, Annie’s oldest son. 


When he’s finished they get pass back to my back fourth baby and final son. Anything that is worth passing, which always seems like a lot because things are always being added, gets moved to my sister’s other sister-in-law, Erica’s baby boy. I also pass anything from my daughter to Erica’s oldest child and daughter. 

She passes those close back to Annie who has a baby girl. And I’ll admit I feel very good about our system, because everything gets good use. For those of you keeping track, that is a total of 10 boys and girls. 


The kids have clothes. It’s a blessing. It’s also a big head ache. My basement is like a storage unit. I could probably use a better labeling system. But the best part of my organizational day is when I pass my only daughter’s or my last son’s clothing on- because I know they’re never coming back. What Annie and Erica do with the clothing after that, I don’t care. Good riddance! And sure there might be a day when I’m’s stricken with grief for times gone past about my kids who are all grown up and don’t fit into those baby clothes anymore. 

But today’s not that day. Today is the day I pass on totes or large plastic bags or even a little grocery bags with stuff that I don’t have to see again or at least isn’t taking up space in a drawer for a child who can no longer wear it.
(Healthy sigh of relief)

And thank you to my brother-in-law, Ryan, for many of these adorable pictures of all the clothed children.

Entertaining the Kids: Pumpkin Fun!

It’s pumpkin time! Woohoo! I am not a pumpkin carver. Boo, hiss, say what you will. It is no secret that I’m not a craft lover. Thankfully I have creative people in my life who enhance the creativity in my children. For example my mother, who found this activity on Pinterest. Hurray for grandmas! As it is, I have young children not ready for carving themselves. So this is a perfect option, even for last minute too.

What you need:

plastic/cloth or newspaper

pumpkins

glue stick

crayons

hair dryer

Oh, and that secret ingredient: enthusiasm!

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Place the plastic or cloth on your workspace. This doesn’t have to be fancy. It could be a garbage bag on your kitchen table. Place the pumpkins in go position (on top of your prepared workspace). Tip: Use room temperature pumpkins

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Unwrap and break the crayons in half. My kids liked this part best.

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Use the glue stick around the top of the pumpkin stem to get a sticky surface for the crayons. Place the crayons around in your own artistic color pattern. And hey, if you want to use a pumpkin with a nicer fuller stem than ours, that’s your prerogative.

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When crayons are set, bust out that hairdryer and blow! This could get messy (hence the table cover).

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You’ll naturally find that you need to adjust the hairdryer angle to work the drips, mostly from directly above facing down. We also found that working one section at a time seemed easier than letting the wax harden again as you try to go around.

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Have fun! Then admire your work Picasso!

Lollipop Sugar Cookies

Kids love sugar cookies… Adults love sugar cookies… And I have no idea why, but let me just tell you that if you put them on a stick and call them “lollipop” cookies it increases the awesome factor by 100%. Because everyone loves Lollipop Sugar Cookies! They holler “Look at me, I’m so fun! I taste like candy!” As far as great baking projects to do with the kids go, these are at the top. Just put out the toppings and let their imaginations soar! It really doesn’t get much easier. (And you can even refrigerate the dough ahead of time until you’re ready to let the amusement begin! Bonus!)

As organic as possible:

1 1/4 cups Sugar

1/2 cup Vegetable Shortening

1/2 cup Butter

2 eggs

1/4 light Corn Syrup

2 tsp Vanilla

3 cups Flour

1/2 tsp Salt

1 tsp Baking Powder

1/2 tsp Baking Soda

24-26 Popsicle Sticks

Variety of Toppings (Sprinkles, colored Sugars, nonpareils, miniature candies, etc.)

 

Cream the sugar, shortening and butter in a large bowl by mixer or hand until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, continuing to mix, followed by vanilla and corn syrup. Mixture should be light and creamy.

In a separate bowl combine the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Stir together with a whisk until incorporated. Add to creamy egg mixture about a third at a time, mixing until all is combined.

Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to a couple days. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375°. Roll the dough into 1 1/2 – 2 inch balls. Place a popsicle stick into the center and place on a baking sheet. With the palm of your hand press to slightly flatten the dough (about an inch high), to create a surface to decorate. Top the lollipop sugar cookies however you’d like! (Decorations may need a gentle pat to stay on.) Then bake for 8 1/2 – 10 minutes. Carefully remove from the oven and allow to sit about 2 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. When completely cool serve your Lollipop Sugar Cookies and watch the kid come out in all!

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Loving Lately ❤️

Loving Lately: Healthy Kids

This week has been rather difficult. And as another installment of my Thursday “Loving Lately” was approaching I was struggling to find something to write about. It’s not that I don’t love short cuts to appetizers, special things that only come this time of year or finding great deals on some of my favorite things. It’s just that I don’t have time to be normal when I’m nursing my 4 kids with high fevers, some throwing up, and a couple with the crazy rashes that go along with “Hand Foot and Mouth” back to health. Then I had a Pollyanna moment. (Sometimes you have to force those.) There is nothing like having a sick child (or all four) to make me appreciate how blessed I am to have healthy kids.

I could go on about this forever, because I am a mom. And like most moms, when you have a child with a high fever all you can think about is getting them through it. And I don’t take for granted that I am so blessed to know that they will get through it. I am truly thankful. We’ve had a particularly difficult time with our youngest, Noah. (click here for more info.) We spent a lot of time at doctors offices and a little time in Children’s Hospital in Detroit. It was particularly scary when we discovered he had an alarmingly low count of a particular antibody, the one that helps your immune system fight off infection. The relief was so great it is hard to express when they ruled out the most serious (and often life-threatening) illnesses. And even though I was relieved, there was a part of me that was that was struck for all of the kids in the rooms around us and their parents who may not get the same news.

Our diagnosis was positive, but we weren’t out of the woods so to speak. He still needed a lot of attention. We’ve come such a long way that it’s hard to believe it wasn’t that long ago when things were really bad. So today I am loving that although my kids have rashes and mouth sores, they are past their fevers and the rashes will fade; because they are healthy and I am very blessed.

Loving Lately ❤️

Loving Lately #1: Back to School Hairdo’s and Clothes

How cute are all of these back-to-school pictures on Facebook? All those sweet little faces headed off to face the challenges of the day, fill their heads with letters and numbers, and socialize with their peers! (I saw a few pretty cute homeschoolers out there too!) Isaiah has had surfer dude or skater dude hair for a long while. So when he decided to go short like “Captain America hair,” it was such a fun change. I haven’t seen him with hair that short since he was a toddler! Momma loves her boy!

  
Loving Lately #2: Little Spoons

If you know anything about me, you have an idea that I am a kitchen ware and utensil fanatic. I’m crazy about the stuff. And there must be a lot of us out there because it’s everywhere! (Has anyone gotten anything from Pioneer Woman’s new line? …I’m just waiting for an excuse, like in celebration of the next pay day?) Anyway I saw these spoons at Homegoods the other day. And they say cocktail spoons, which is all fine and dandy, but how cute are they going to be when I serve them with aside a latte?  (Note to self learn how to make a real latte.)

A Blur in Review

If time flies when your having fun, then this was the funnest summer ever!

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And don’t get me wrong, I’m excited about Fall; the baking, the color changes, the sweater weather…

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But I’m not ready to put the pool cover on!

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And even though we’ve done the school shopping, I’m not ready to send my baby to fourth grade!

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I am extremely happy to share that my infant’s skin condition has improved immensely. Thank you to all of the eczema supporters out there!

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Weddings, birthdays, graduation parties, horseback riding lessons, vacations, holidays, swimming, BBQ-ing, boating, beaching we did it all! Summer living… see you next year!

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Entertaining the Kids with English Chocolate Crisps

By now we have established that I am a stay at home mom of four. So it fair to presume that most of my entertaining is for my children. Keeping them active in the kitchen is important to me. (Okay, to be completely honest sometimes I want them away from the kitchen). But mostly I want to teach them about food and preparing it. I want them to see ingredients and learn where they come from. I often talk to them about eating organic and try to explain (age appropriate) reasons why. For convenience sake we do buy packaged food (I don’t know the first thing about making chocolate), but we try to make good choices.

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The Barefoot Contessa cookbook, Make It Ahead, has a great recipe to try with your children. There is no baking involved (only melting some chocolate on the stove top, done by mom). There are only for ingredients: milk chocolate, bittersweet chocolate (I used semi-sweet, pictured), cornflakes and cranberries, and the whole process is basically stirring and dropping spoonfuls of the mix onto paper. Perfect for my two and four year old!

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They like being a part of the creating process and they l-o-v-e taking ownership of the final product! Such an accomplishment! Since there were no eggs involved, eating the batter was an option… and that’s always a good reward along the way.

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The result was quality time with mom, happy kids and fun treats to eat. I encourage you to spend some time with the kids in your life, “it’s the best investment you’ll ever make!”

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It’s also a rule of mine to try a recipe as it is written for the first time, before I tweak it. And these cookies were delicious. But I think next time we will make them a little more kid-friendly and fun (and subsequently less healthy) by substituting the cranberries with mini-marshmallows!

Peter Rabbit Tea Party

“Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality.”

Beatrix Potter

My mother had been planning a Beatrix Potter tea party for her grandchildren for a while,

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long before we knew of Prince George’s first birthday.

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The walkway was lined with little reminders of which way to go.

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There were snacks awaiting the little guests; like strawberries fallen in a little oreo dirt and white chocolate bunnies.

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Costume jewelry to adorn the ladies.

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Characters from the story made special appearances everywhere.

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Along with other special touches.

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Including frogs in the pond.

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Lavender hung with care…

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Just like the story book. (Mom’s art work, a gift to her grand-daughter from years ago)

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Mr. McGregor’s garden was a must. (No need to turn up the grass, just lay a tarp topped with dirt and cabbage leaves!)

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Careful Peter!

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It was a bounty for little rabbits.

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The setting was absolutely lovely, nestled under a shade tree.

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Vivid florals strung in the air added ambiance.

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Photo ops are some of my favorite party options… They make great gifts to send out with your “thank you’s”!

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Refreshments included rabbit and flower shaped sandwiches. (And wrapped chocolates that get eaten first)

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Chocolate milk served in a Beatrix Potter china set.

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The ladies and gents quite enjoyed themselves.

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Every children’s party needs activities! First it was a hunt for Jemima Puddle Duck’s lost eggs.

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Which made for a riveting egg toss! (Note: make sure the eggs are hard boiled!)

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Are both of her feet behind the hat?

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Reading Bench…

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Story Time!

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And a butterfly hunt! (No butterflies were hurt, in our catch and release.)

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Who’s ready for some cake?

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Now let’s burn off some sugar with a sack race!

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What a special day! Thank you Granny!