9.24.2016

Sunny Saturday: Fall

Mother Nature is a bit confused.  The first day of fall was on Thursday and it averaged 80 degrees all week.  I am a fall-lover, so this 80 degree stuff is not my favorite.  It's supposed to cool down next week, so I am looking forward to boots and warm drinks and cozy blankets.  

It was a MOPS week this week, which always means we were a bit busier than our normal.  We also (yay!!!) had our 20 week ultrasound yesterday, so stay tuned for some news later today from our gender reveal shin-dig with our family.  

Today I am sharing some of my favorite ways to fall-ify (is that a word?) my home.  I do not keep a lot of seasonal decor stored in bins at my house, so I mostly pull from nature and consumable items from the store.  

Here is what made my week a bit sunnier...


My in-laws have the cutest row of dwarf apple trees in their vineyard.  This year the apples have been big and beautiful and juicy.  We love taking the kids out there to pick and bringing back a basket full of beauties to set on the counter.  Plus, Luke studied the letter A a few weeks back, so it was a perfect connection.  P.S. I have high hopes to make this French apple tart recipe sometime soon.


Kevin has been busy cleaning things up around our place.  I think he has used a chain saw more in the last month than he has his entire life.  He cut branches off our super tall sycamore tree and cut me some pretty wood disks for decorating.  They were kind of a pain to sand and clean, but they were well worth the effort.  Thanks, babe!

It seems almost impossible to get out of Target without buying something that is not on my list, which is why I try and limit my trips.  This week I found a pretty candle on clearance (that actually smelled good) and I just couldn't pass it up.  It's in a pretty blue and yellow ceramic wide mouthed jar. I love to change up my candles and soaps to embrace each change of season.  I am going to be burning this thing all weekend long. 

Fall is the time for big, hearty, unbutton your pants breakfasts.  This week I made two egg casseroles and they made our home smell like colder weather is coming.  I have a go-to recipe I use almost every time and it never disappoints.  It's thick and filling and feeds a crowd.  Try it, you won't regret it.

The last way I make my home a little bit more fall-ish is to bring the outside in...picking up acorns and setting them in a small bowl or cutting a few branches and placing them in a vase.  I love collecting things from nature and always have a few eager helpers in tow.  A little tip: There are pinecones covering the ground right now.  If you want some for decorating this winter, go on a hunt for them now!

I hope you have a Sunny Saturday wherever you may be today...and we just can't wait to announce to all our family and friends if a boy or girl is going to join our family in February!  Stay tuned!  



9.20.2016

Starting the Journey of Homeschooling

Homeschooling.

It is on my mind and heart most days.  Do I pursue it?  Do I take the road less traveled and do what (I think) my heart is telling me to do?  Will people scoff at me and our family's choices?  Will my kids be labeled 'anti-social' because they don't go to public school?  Will my kids thrive in a homeschool environment?  All of these questions run through my mind on a daily basis.

About a month ago, I took the plunge and decided to try homeschooling this year with my Luke.  He is three and a half and turns four in November.  If there is any year when there is no pressure, it's this year.  I will probably still send him to part time preschool next year, but I wanted to see how this homeschooling thing would go with him.


After lots of research and asking friends and acquaintances who homeschool what curriculum they use, I settled on Sonlight.  It's a Christian based curriculum that isn't too terribly strict and encompasses some concepts I don't feel confident teaching without a curriculum.  The curriculum uses lots of books, which I love, and utilizes hands on learning activities with lots of nursery rhymes and Bible stories.  I feel like most of our 'school' time is reading and that's exactly what I want it to be.

The Sonlight preschool curriculum does not teach letters and numbers, so I am supplementing with This Reading Momma's resources I found online.  There are a million opinions out there about letter of the week, but I am doing that, as well as incorporating ABC books and the entire alphabet on a weekly basis.


We are two weeks into this thing and I can honestly say I am not super overwhelmed.  Luke and I spend about an hour a day on it and I really love the time I set aside to really engage with him and his learning.  I'm pretty sure I have learned more about him than he has learned from me!  We still have time to go to the city for a playdate or run errands.  The only days I struggled to get it all in were MOPS days two weeks ago.  I think I have decided we won't do school on those days and just catch up later.  That is probably one of the biggest perks about homeschooling...the flexibility.  Because we live where we live, homeschooling makes even more sense for our family.  We aren't in the car bunches to travel to and from school and we have the flexibility to be where we want to be when we want to be there.

Luke asks to do school and it is so sweet to see his little mind soaking up everything.  He is one of those kids who doesn't show what he knows often, so I am hoping this will bring him out of his shell a bit.

The biggest challenge at this point is my darling Lily.  She always wants to be involved and doing what we are doing, so I include her as much as possible. Sometimes problems arise when she wants to do something else and causes a bit of commotion when Luke and I aren't completely paying attention to her.  I know it will get better with time and soon enough she will get bored with us and move on to playing with her babies and books.


This homeschooling journey could be short lived or last for awhile, but either way I am happy to be following my heart and beginning nonetheless.  If nothing else, Luke and I will grow closer through it all.


9.17.2016

Sunny Saturday

Home.  All weekend long.  Praise the great big God almighty.  

It has been a long and busy week and our little family is ready for some downtime at home.  Besides church on Sunday, we have plans to stay on the Trail, watch a little football, do a few outside chores, and make some fall-ish meals.  

I have to say I am just a teensy bit excited about the idea of a fall Saturday with nothing on the calendar.  Part of me wants to make all the pumpkin rolls, homemade bread, and soups that I can find ingredients for and part of me wants to eat leftovers and watch football in my pajamas all day.  I'm sure it will be a balance of both.

Today I'm sharing some things that made my busy week a little bit sunnier.


Last weekend we noticed our pumpkin patch was looking a little, um, brown.  We went back there and realized most of our pumpkins were ready to be picked. They are only about a month early, but I guess that's what happens with an extra hot June.  We have pumpkins sitting all over our house and it really makes the place feel like fall.

Shutterfly had a freebie on prints last week and I took the opportunity to print a bunch of 4x4s for the kids' birthday parties as well as some to hang around the house.  I love placing them in little bowls or dishes or propping them up on ledges or shelves.  I also pinned a bunch up on our little wine cork board in the kitchen.  Their square goodness just make me so happy.

Our church, Christ Community, just started a study on the book of Genesis.  We are one week in and I am loving walking through the first moments of time.  We are participating in an inductive Bible study, which helps me to really get past surface level and dig deep into scripture.  I am looking forward to learning more and more as this study progresses.

I couldn't get a good picture of it this week, but have you ever tried clipping branches to put in a vase?  I hadn't done it much, but I tried it this week and I absolutely love it.  I clipped a few branches with pretty leaves and placed them in a big, white, round vase up on a shelf.  I loaded it with twiggy, green branches and it looks so earthy and so fall.  A bonus is that it saves me a bit of cash that I would normally spend on fresh flowers.  Win win.


It is not pictured this week, but something that made my week sunnier was women and moms being real.  I had Cooking Club this week with my girls as well as some good conversations with friends about hard things.  I am in awe of the women around me being open and honest and real about their joys and their struggles, their hard days and their good ones, their passions and their heartaches.  This week I was lucky enough to engage with women I look up to and admire and identify with and that make me a better wife and mom.  If you're a woman or a mom, I challenge you to be completely honest and real with a friend this coming week.  The power of vulnerability and honesty really have no limits when it comes to friendship.  It's so so good, friends.

I hope you have a Sunny Saturday wherever you may be today!


9.10.2016

Treasures from Magnolia Market

If you have been following my blog lately, you already know I had a girl's weekend in Waco, Texas home to Fixer Upper's Chip and Joanna Gaines.  We visited Magnolia Market and took in the beautiful grounds and did a little shopping.  I picked up a few things I will surely be loving long after the trip is a distant memory.


First up, this yummy smelling candle.  There were many options, but I chose this one because of the pretty blue stamp on the front.  It is the 'summer' scent and even though fall is almost here, I know I will be burning this one often.

There were three different options for mugs at the Market.  I liked all of them, but this was probably my favorite and the most practical option.  I will be sipping peppermint hot chocolate (pregnancy craving) out of this thing all winter long.

In my last post about our trip, I mentioned the garden area.  It truly is immaculate and there is just something magical about the teepee with vines growing up it all around the miniature mushroom stools inside for kids.  They had lots of air plants for sale and I picked this pretty one up along with a small tin watering can to place it in.  My air plant collection is growing.


Probably one of my favorite purchases of the trip was this Waco t-shirt.  I'm really not a go-on-a-trip-buy-a-t-shirt-kind-of-person, but I love the simplicity of this tee and it doesn't hurt that Joanna has worn it on the show a few times.  In this stage of life, t-shirts are pretty much all I wear on the top half of my body, so having a cute one that will stretch with this growing belly makes me happy.

My last purchase isn't pictured.  It's a large white sign with the words 'it's just the nearness of you' scribbled across it.  It sums up how I think about my Kevin and I'm excited to hang it in our bedroom.  

Today I am switching gears and we are hosting our annual Iowa/Iowa State game day baby shower.  We are in the stage of life where there is always a friend pregnant, so we celebrate every year with a baby shower on game day.  My sweet friends started it the year I was pregnant with Luke and the tradition lives on.  

I hope you have a Sunny Saturday wherever you may be today and...GO HAWKEYES!


9.07.2016

Road Trip to THE Silos

You Fixer Upper lovers out there know all about Waco, Texas...the Silos, Magnolia Farms, Chip and Jo.  All of it.  

This past weekend some friends and I loaded up a car with as little as we possibly could, so we had enough room for our lovely purchases, and headed south to Texas.  These girlfriends of mine are the real deal.  They don't really watch Fixer Upper and two of them had never even heard of it.  They just blindly said yes to this road trip and lovingly accompanied me all the way to the Silos.

Our trip started early Friday morning as we drove down our gravel road, giddy from the chance to have uninterrupted girl time.  13 hours later, we arrived in Waco...just about three hours more than we had anticipated.  Traffic was awful and I'm pretty sure we hit every possibly rush hour in every large city on the way down.  Luckily, we had each other and plenty of things to talk about.  We met another friend who flew in at a cute steakhouse called 135 Prime that served the best bruschetta with escargot.  We laughed until we cried, found out Chip and Jo frequent the place and then headed to our VRBO.

Guys, I was pinching myself when I found this VRBO.  It is a Fixer Upper house completed in Season 3.  It's episode 9, and if you remember right, Max Lucado is in the episode.  His daughter and her husband were the ones on the show. This house is perfectly done top to bottom and I wish my pictures could do it justice.  As we arrived at the house and explored every nook and cranny, I got nervous I wasn't going to be able to sleep because I was so excited.  I guess I needn't have worried about that, because we stayed up half the night chatting and then collapsed for a few hours of sleep before we were up again getting ready to check out the Silos.




If there is any advice I can give to those of you going to Waco, it's go early. We pulled in at 8:30 and were some of the first people on the property.  We grabbed breakfast at the new bakery and had time to relax and enjoy the scenery on the patio.  The pig biscuits are heavenly and I could eat one everyday. Around 8:45 a line started to form at the warehouse doors, so I headed over to stand with the rest of the excited customers.


The warehouse is beautiful and has so many fun and unique decorative items as well as Magnolia Farms shirts and keepsakes.  Jo has her paint and rugs for sale as well.  I'm pretty sure there were like one thousand people working and every single one of them was as sweet as pie.  They didn't rush when we checked out and were so kind to tell us things to do around Waco. 



We couldn't leave without checking out the garden area.  It is so well done and I'm still not sure how they keep it so immaculate.  It might be the one thousand employees they have working happily around the place. 



Around 10:30, we had seen everything I wanted to see and we headed to do some more shopping within walking distance of the Silos.  The crowds were getting bigger as we left and I was so happy we made it there early.

After shopping, we waited in line for cupcakes to take back to our house from the bakery.  They were worth the wait.  The cake and frosting ratio is on point and I couldn't say a bad thing about them. 


The rest of the afternoon was spent at a Mexican restaurant and then our amazing little house.  We opted to stay in for dinner and my friend, Amber, made an incredible meat and cheese platter.  Our bellies hurt from all the food we had enjoyed throughout the day.  We watched football, chatted, and even watched Season 3 Episode 9 from Fixer Upper, because one of the girls had never seen the show.  It was fun to be in the house watching the episode.  The couple who owns the house even stopped by to say hello and were the sweetest pair.



The night ended with a few 80s movies and we all went to bed earlier than the night before.  We left Waco a little after dawn with hopes our journey wouldn't be as long as the way down.  We made it in 11 1/2 hours, with one minor hiccup along with way.  

I was so happy to hug and kiss and snuggle my babies when we got home.  Three days away was oh so good for me, but I missed their sweet faces.  We picked tomatoes and took the girls around the farm before bedtime.  

Labor Day was spent at the Quarry.  Paige took off in the morning to get home to her family and my friend, Anne, left late afternoon on Monday, so we were able to spend some extra time with her.

It was a trip I will not soon forget.  The Silos were great, but the time with my girlfriends was even better.  That time is priceless and I will always be grateful to them for making this journey with me. 


My final thought is that if you are a fan of Fixer Upper, the Silos are truly better than you can imagine.  It's beautiful and well done and just a teensy bit magical. 



9.03.2016

Road Trippin' to Waco

When you read this, I will be in Waco, Texas with some of my best girlfriends at THE Silos.  If you are a fan of Fixer Upper, you know exactly what I'm talking about and you are jealous. I am still pinching myself that I get to go...AND we are staying in a house renovated by Chip and Joanna.  It just doesn't get much better.

Anyways, you will be hearing ALL about it next week.  This past week I purposely kept our days slow and easy breezy.  Being gone for four days and leaving Kevin at home with the kids that long requires some preparation. Speaking of, do I have the best husband or what?  He is taking one for the team and staying home all weekend with our babes, so I can go and have some girl time.  I just love him.  


Today I'm sharing some of the items I'm taking on my road trip to Waco, Texas. It's a whopping 10 hour drive, so snacks and entertainment will surely be required.  I hope you have a Sunny Saturday wherever you may be today...and GO HAWKEYES!



I picked up these sunglasses at Von Maur a week ago and am loving their shape and the detail on the sides.  I never buy super nice sunglasses, as Kevin and I don't have a good track record with the things.  It is supposed to be sunny and 90 in Waco, so I have a feeling I'm going to be wearing these all weekend long.

Who doesn't love pretzels?  I might have bought a large box of 48 individual packages of pretzels at Sam's last week.  Yes, I said 48.  Oops.  I was a teensy bit excited and hungry.  I have been munching on them all week and there is still plenty for the trip.


Eligible.  I don't know much about this book, but a guest on Jamie Ivey's podcast (which I love) recommended it, so I'm going to try it out.  You might notice I bought the large print version?!  There will be no squinting to see the print from this girl.  I wanted a fun, easy, fiction read.  It is supposed to be a modern day retelling of Pride and Prejudice.  I will let you know what I think, I'm excited to get started.


I don't think it's possible to have a road trip without M&Ms.  Another hungry Sam's purchase.  I told my friend that if I can make it to the trip without opening them, I will be winning at life.  #iamnotwinning


This last one is not pictured because my dear friend is packing it in her suitcase.  A selfie stick!  I have never used one, but I am sure we will be pulling that thing out often.  Four girls together without kids means lots and lots of pictures...and laughs and stories and the best times.

I hope you have a Sunny Saturday wherever you may be today!






8.30.2016

Summer in Review

As summer comes to a close, I thought I would share what in the world our family did with the past three months.  Since I was in my first trimester with Baby #3, our poor children didn't get 110% of mom everyday.  My body was just in rest-take-it-easy-get-through-the-day mode.  I'm sure I will make up for it this fall.  Vala's Pumpkin Patch anyone?

Here is our summer in review:

We planted a pumpkin patch as well as tomatoes and carrots.  The pumpkin patch is a little out of control at this point.


We ate lots of yummy strawberries from the garden.



We spent lots and lots of evenings going on adventures.  There were lots of tractor rides, lots of toads, lots of time spent on the swings, and lots of nights without clothes.





We had many opportunities to get together with friends that live close and friends that live not so close.






The four of us drove out to Denver to see the mountains (and the Big Boy train).



We read lots of books.



We experienced a few different kinds of parades: the ones on country roads and the ones on city roads.



Luke is a big boy...he is potty trained!


We celebrated David and Katie's birthdays with a party and a trip on the Boone train.



Kevin and I were able to get out for a few dates.  We love grandparents!


We picked and froze lots of sweet corn.  (But not as much as Grandpa Gary would have liked.)


We made it to the Iowa State Fair with these goofballs.  


Grandpa Gary and Grandma Diane put in a new driveway and we got in on the fun.


We spent all summer dreaming about our new babe that will join our family in February.  We can't wait!


Now, bring on the fall!



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