Watch Winner & Some Ideas for Summer Fun

Since the big kids got to pick the winner, Olivia would like to announce that the winner is...Cyndi!!! Congratulations! Her entry came in just last night, but it was a big hit with Jack & EJ!

If you have a farmer's market let Jack &/or EJ pick out a fruit or veggie that looks really good and then let them pick a recipe in which to use their pick. They could then help you prepare it & then explain to Matt what they did to make it (or something like that). While Olivia won't get to participate in this tradition until she gets older she'll get to reap the benefits of the yummy food her brother & sister make.

Jack cannot wait to try this and is referring to it as our Top Chef Challenge. Definitely up their alley, right?

Other finalists were Emily's window clings, Sarah's cat visits and Sherri's kite flying at the lake, but you can check out everyone's awesome ideas here. Thanks for jump starting my planning you guys! I'm definitely using quite a few of these ideas in our new summer format (more on that coming very soon). In the meantime, here are some other links to inspire YOUR summer planning!

Idea Roundup Posts from the blog world:
50 Summer Crafts for Kids
Fun Summer Ideas List
Outdoor Summer Fun List
Summer Reading Programs for Kids
Summer Crafts from the girls at eighteen25
The 2010 Summer List

Local Summer Ideas:
Kids Rule Marcus $2.75 Kid Movies
River Flicks at Pere Marquette Park
Super Reader at MPL
Kids Bowl Free
Kidz Days at The Marcus Center
Tosa Farmers Market

Before the summer fun starts

...make sure you take a moment to focus on summer safety!!!

Read about a new sunscreen study here and search this database to find out how your family's current sunscreens are rated.

{image via EWG}

Talk to your kids about AVA's Rule

{image via tsj photography}

If you're heading to fairs, festivals, or other large gatherings, consider an ID bracelet for your child in case you become separated. Great options for velcro bracelets, one-time use wristband sheets and watch-type bracelets.

{image via Vital IDs}

Make sure you have a first aid kit ready to go. Make your own using this tutorial or pick up the Red Cross Family Kit to know you'll be ready for anything! Check out this podcast from Whole Foods on Natural First Aid for Summer too.

And finally, check out this Tip Sheet on all kinds of summer safety issues from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

{image via DCF}

Dream Big

I bought these prints {from the dreamy giraffe etsy shop} awhile back to frame for the girls' room (when they move in together and both have big girl beds). I think they are so cute and love having these reminders in their room each day! I hope that I encourage all my children, but especially my girls, to dream big and to know that anything is possible for them.

I love that Matt is showing our children to follow your dreams right now! In addition to everything he is and does, Matt went back to school this Spring. He was already the hardest-working man I know and an awesome Daddy, and now he's added super student on top of that too! He puts everything he has into his classes, won't let me talk him into skipping (not even ONE class...come on man, everybody is doing it!), and shares things he's learning with the kids too. Matt had a business communications class this semester and would talk to the kids about the form of communication they were focusing on each week. You should see their eyes light up when they "help Daddy" with his school stuff. What an amazing example Matt is to our kids...his work ethic, his focus, his drive and his commitment are incredible. And if I wasn't proud enough already? He got straight A's!!! Way to go Matt!

{Matt and his two favorite girls in the world}

The {big, huge, overwhelming, scary} house to do list

I have some big plans for our house this summer, but it will be A LOT of work! I'm thinking posting this list will help me be organized and hopefully keep me working too!


-finish painting walls gray (project stopped 2 years ago when I found out I was pregnant...oops!)
-frame Jack's Taste of Home photos together
-find (or make) quote or word art for space above photo frame
{long term} find someone to help us redesign the kitchen space

Dining Room

-new rug for under table (preferably cute & durable)
-possible new (junker) table that will hold up to the kids a little better & look a bit cuter
-table centerpiece decor


-new shower curtain
-possibly repainting mirror trim/wall shelving from cream to a COLOR!
-new towels
{long term} complete remodel

-sort & weed through toys
-organize keeper toys in new bookcases
-put everything back in the playroom
-new wall frames up with kids' art in them?
{long term} paint trim white (window trim is holding me back...anyone have a trick to make that easier?)


-sell futon
-clean unused things out
-reorganize layout of desks
-create jack's desk space
-create kids' reading area
-new organization system for my craft/office stuff

Stairs/Upstairs Hallway

-paint beige walls light yellow
-frame kids' outfits in shadow boxes
-spray paint big scroll frames
-create silhouettes of the kids for the big frames
-one more frame for each kid - either felt initials, hand prints, or ?

{long term} new carpeting downstairs & on stairs

Living Room

-sell all our old furniture & tv
-buy out IKEA & hope they deliver quickly
-spend some time on etsy finding the perfect pillows for the new couches
-spend some time on etsy finding fun decorations/accents & wall print stuff
-move cable tv connnection (this one is matt's job)
-find baskets/boxes for living room storage
-figure out wall art & layout with the new room layout

Writing that all out is both overwhelming and exciting! I can't wait to get started though! Now to decide where to start...

P.S. Anyone have opinions/advice on selling items (craigslist, ebay, rummage sale)?

Market Produce Bag

Today is our first last day of school for 2010! I can't believe I'm saying this, but EJ is finishing her first "semester" today!!! Yikes! So of course she and I wanted to send some gifts to thank her wonderful teachers. When I found this crochet pattern for a produce bag, I knew it was the perfect fit, especially because our community's brand new farmers market opens in a few short weeks!

I purchased this organic cotton at Michael's (who knew right?) and EJ picked awesome colors!

And then I got to work crocheting! These are pretty quick...each bag took about a day (mixed in with the usual daily stuff I do of course), so probably (for a beginner like me) about a 6 hour project for each...I just wish I didn't choose to make 5 bags in 5 days! When I finished, we stuffed each bag with clementines and a thank you note!

I'd pat myself on the back for a job well-done, but I have a feeling (after my hand returns to normal) that I will be making one more of these (perhaps in a slightly smaller size) for a little girl I know to take to the farmers market herself!

T-ball Tuesday

This post is all about bragging about Jack! Sorry...has to be's mother's right, right? Seriously though, when a person loves something as much as Jack loves baseball, it really shows. And Jack puts everything he can into each game. I mean this kid runs like he's on fire from base to base (and they can only take one base at a time...although there are outs). Anyway, Matt was at the last two games so I took advantage of the extra set of hands (to manage the girls) and took some pics to share with you guys!

Oh, did I tell you he got #13? Really his only choices were 13, 14 & 15 (and 15 was taken before we got there) because he needed the bigger t-shirt size. Guess I should start talking up the double digits now as I'm sure his growth spurts will continue!

See I told you...on fire!

I swear he pays better attention than this. This was between innings.

On deck...

Playing "pitcher"...defensive position

Love this pic! Oh and I'd love to say he had a rally helmet going, but after this pic Matt told him to turn it around and he had no clue he had put it on backwards!

I had to include this photo...I love that you can see how hard Jack is throwing to first AND how hard that girl is running! These kids really love this game!!! Also, I loved that girl...she had a pink batting helmet, pink bat and pink glove...t-ball with attitude!

Summer is coming!

The temps are warming up around here and I am already thinking every way! School is coming to a close (this week for EJ actually) and even though I have been in flip flops for months, I am really starting to think about summer clothes & accessories. I think you can have more fun with bright colors and not feel so stuck with what you buy because summer stuff is much more affordable!

Anyway...I saw a watch on a blog and decided I had to have it as a gift for my friend Tracie. Perfect fun summer watch for her! But the person who posted it bought it at an airport and the pic she put up didn't allow me to see the brand name. I shot her an email asking for more info, but of course in the meantime, got antsy & started searching for other options. I ended up finding 5 I liked and then couldn't decide which I liked more. It was one of those times where I had a clear favorite but couldn't decide for sure because I had stared at them for too long! Ugh! So I sent an email to Nellie & Matt to help me pick and they agreed with my choice too (of course Matt's response came in after the watch was at our house...he's a little busy these days), so I ordered it!

The next morning I received a response from my email (to the blogger who posted the original watch) with the brand name...and a link to where I could purchase it! Well, guess who decided she just had to have that one for herself?

{yes, I know this doesn't exactly show the watch, but look at that face!}

Nope, not EJ (she's just likes to be my model)...ME of course!

{here's a better look}

But guess what? This version was SUPER affordable! So...I got 3 of them! One for me, one for Nellie (she always responds to my crazy email surveys & I love her for it), and one for one of you!!!

So, how can you win? Remember our 55 days of summer from last year? Well, as I said, we have just a few weeks before school is over & we start the summer fun! I'm reworking how we manage our summer projects this year (an already tight schedule is forcing my hand) and we have a list of favorites from last summer that we would love to repeat, but we would love some fresh ideas too! So, leave a comment with a new project idea, field trip, adventure or link to something cool you've seen...anything you think we might enjoy.

Time to start thinking and get commenting my friends! Jack & EJ are choosing the winner next Monday...their favorite idea wins!

{I will be keeping the identities of those who enter a secret from the kids...only the links & ideas will be shared. If a boy wins, I will sub a suitable gift card & let the kids pick a second winner for the watch}

Color Advice

A little question for your afternoon: If you were looking at using this color palette in your home...

what would you use as an accent color (used in small things like vases or baskets, etc)?

Milk Carton Favor Boxes

These would have been adorable at Olivia's birthday party!!

Did I mention that they are a free printable too? It just gets better and better, huh? Click here for all the details!

PS There is also a cute report card styled recipe card printable too...could make a really fun gift all packaged together with some freshly baked chocolate chip cookies! Teacher gift anyone?

some things i've been thinking

I just returned from a fabulous warm weather getaway. You'd think that would be why the trip was great, but truly it was the best because I went with two friends who I can honestly do absolutely nothing with and still have an awesome time! (well, I'm not gonna lie, chips & guacamole at every meal sure doesn't hurt either) Still these two women are super cool chicks and we had a great time together!

While I was gone I really was "off" tv most of the time (ignoring the movie marathon we had one afternoon...3 movies + 2 meals of room service = good time), but I did indulge in a little AM viewing the last two days. And of course, what did I end up watching...ER reruns! Matt used to tell me I was the last person still watching ER, but oh how I loved it. I (of course) got sucked in right away! Still love it!!

I read my new Molly Ringwald book on the flight home (well, really I read my kindle download as my signed copy is not getting opened) and I highly recommend it. It's an easy read (reads like a magazine article) and covers a lot of topics in a fun way, but still has a lot of heart. I really enjoyed her writing's shows a lot of her while still giving advice good for everyone. Next up to read (if I can ever get through the laundry) is my new book about the brat pack that I got for Mother's Day from T...I can't wait to start it (it was too heavy to lug to the beach).

Jack is running our other reading list and despite not having enough time for uninterrupted reading (between matt's school schedule & tball it has been tough), we have already read Henry Huggins & Henry and Beezus. Next up is Henry and Ribsy and then Beezus and Ramona (we're reading them in order per jack's instructions). We've got to get moving because I just read that on July 23rd Ramona and Beezus is coming out as a MOVIE!!! We're a little excited in this house!!! And I just have to mention that these books were published in the 1950s, but read like they were written yesterday (except for how much things cost)...awesome books!!

Lastly, the end of school is rapidly approaching!!! We were talking yesterday about teacher's gifts and I'm wondering if you guys have any cute crafty ideas for teachers (both genders, various ages)? Will you share them? Comment with ideas PLEASE!

P.S. Stay tuned...I have a giveaway coming very soon!

Geocaching gets some press!

I feel like geocaching is suddenly ALL OVER the blog world (at least my reader is full of posts about this family activity). In the past month, I have seen posts here, here, here, and here! And everyone really seems to be liking it a lot!

I will admit, I found geocaching through a blog myself! I read this and thought...she has a new baby just like me. Why can't I do this too? I sent the link to Matt & before you know it...we were a geocaching family too!

I chronicled our first adventure here and since then we've done a lot more searching & finding (so much that I've stopped posting on it, but did for a bit which you can read here). And guess what? The kids STILL love it! It's an awesome excuse to take a walk, a great way to have a goal & work towards something together as a family and just nice to be outside (because here we get very few warm months). Olivia and I are looking forward to joining the hunts again (we took the winter off while Matt & the bigs kept searching from time to time) and I really encourage you to check it out too. If a city mouse like me can like it, I think you might too!

P.S. There is some talk in this house about starting a travel bug. If that happens, I'll be sure to let you know so you can search it out for us, okay?

Swagger Wagon

This cracked me up so much I had to share. Sadly, it just doesn't make my stupid minivan any cooler! :-(

Love and adoption

Our Little Tongginator

I'm semi-new to the Our Little Tongginator blog, but have already gleaned so much information from it. A lot has been about adoption, both sides of the coin and every opinion out there, but a lot is about parenting, and being open, and emptying your cup so you can truly hear and absorb what others have to say. I am loving all I am learning!

A recent post Love and Adoption has truly gotten me thinking, and I've revisited it quite a few times. I think it is well worth sharing...if you are an adoptive parent, it's a must read. If you are not an adoptive parent, I still urge you to read it. It is very well-written & easy to read and I think will educate you too!

Teacher Appreciation Book

Remember Jack's book? I posted when it was a blank canvas, but thought I'd share how it came out after all Jack's hard work.

{apparently Jack pays attention and she mentioned in March how much she loves shamrock shakes}

{this is their pumpkin patch field trip}

{a montage of all their field trips: pumpkin patch, play, library visit & health center where they talked about teeth apparently}

Ribbon Rings

I found this tutorial for ribbon rings awhile back and finally perfected my own version for Mother's Day gifts (after a couple fails with hot glue, etc). For these I used a 1/8" width ribbon (which is smaller than the tutorial and led to me changing things up a bit so I stopped burning my fingers with hot glue!) and cut 3 lengths of ribbon about 20-24" long.

I hand-sewed the three ribbons together at one end with a coordinating embroidery thread and safety pinned it to the couch (or my pant leg depending on where I was working). Then I braided the ribbons semi-tightly and hand-sewed the other end closed.

After that I rolled the ribbon up in a coil (to get it to bend the way I wanted it to), then unrolled it and coiled it again, this time gluing it as I went with craft glue. I let the glue dry overnight before adding the "ring."

The ring was just a loop of thin elastic I cut to fit my own finger. I hand-sewed the elastic into a loop and then used craft glue to attach it to the ribbon coil. The elastic soaked up a lot of glue so I used quite a bit of glue for this step. Again, I let dry overnight.

And here is the finished ring (and I beg you not to judge the aging & dry hands or the fingernails...I take care of my toenails & that's about it!)...big & funky, but I think fun too?

These are my favorite colors right now...dreaming of summer perhaps?

Photo Bookmark

Most years for Mother's Day we do a photo bookmark of some sort for the Grandmas and Godmothers in our lives. I'm honestly not sure what we did when Jack was little, but the past two years we have had some very small girls on our hands making fancy artwork an impossibility. So in 2008, the kids did a thumbprint caterpillar on one side and I printed photos on the other. Last year we did a more square shape with fingerprint daisies by each kid on one side & a photo/note from Jack on the other.

I really like to do the bookmarks for a couple reasons. One is that I like to give bookstore gift cards and this is a fun way to do that. Another is it's a nice little keepsake...a current photo of the kids, maybe a thumbprint...right there in whatever you happen to be reading. And finally, as long as we're making the bookmarks, I have the kids make one for me too!

This year I truly had no idea what direction to go, but my new love of crochet got me started. I saw this awesome & detailed crochet flower tutorial and thought it looked really cute AND easy enough for me to tackle. Sure enough they were really easy (and quick actually), so I made up a bunch and attached them as an embellishment to the bookmarks I had cut. I used craft glue around the inner circle of the flower only. I let them dry flat for a few hours and the glue held tight. For the Godmothers, I attached a photo of their specific Godchild below the flower and for the Grandmothers I did the photo booth strip on the back (as shown above).

I wasn't sure what to have the kids do, so I gave EJ one of her bookmarks and asked her to draw a picture on it. And that's when EJ saved the day and told me she was going to draw the flower stem and leaves (a little above her ability level, but an awesome idea nonetheless)! So Jack took over drawing the flower stems and I think they came out really cute!

I like the fact that the flower "petals" are loose and can even be tucked over the edge of the book pages. Oh, and I should mention that I used a size J crochet hook and my flower came out to 2.25" in diameter (the bookmark was 3" wide X 7" tall).