Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

From a cow...
 a princess ballerina and Batman.
And I must comment on the joy that is having small children. I let them pick out their own costumes from Target and they insisted on a dinosaur and horse costume... so $60 later I gave in. After getting home and getting the tags off Max decided he wanted to be Batman (a borrowed costume from a friend) and Soph wanted to wear her ballerina stuff. Although, maybe it is a tradition. Last year Soph insisted on a last minute costume change as well...

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Max's room

One of my other spray paint projects a few weeks ago was spray painting a cheapo headboard and footboard I found on Craigslist for $10. It was beat up but solid wood. And, since my sweet 5 year old had been living with just a mattress and box spring on the floor (classy, right?) I felt like he needed a "real" bed!

Here are the pieces before...
I ended up just using the headboard for now. We don't have the parts to attach the footboard and I think I might just like the headboard. It is small (the mattress set is really tall) but I think for the price it works great. Since we are thinking of having the boys share a room down the road and getting bunk beds I didn't want to invest much money into this bed.

I think Max's room is looking pretty cute!
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Thursday, October 27, 2011

5 ways I cut our grocery bill while eating better!

Recently we really tried to tighten the purse strings and really stick to our, excuse my language.... {budget}. I decided I wanted to try to save some money on groceries. But, I knew that extreme couponing was just not for me. I love to use coupons for household products but I really feel like for the most part when it comes to food most of the coupons are for processed foods that my family just doesn't need. Here are the top 5 things I did that helped me cut our grocery budget almost in half!

  1. When I make our meal plan I try to make sure all of my ingredients will be used. For instance, if I know I will have a lot of leftover chicken I will plan a second meal around the leftovers.
  2. When grocery shopping I always go to Aldi first! I am able to pay next to nothing for a lot of our staple items. Bonus: their milk is hormone free and they now sell Greek Yogurt!
  3. I make almost everything I can from scratch. I don't buy pre-made spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, etc. Whenever possible I make it from scratch! I have even started making almost all of our breads and am able to make super healthy versions for a fraction of the cost!
  4. I keep meals simple. Usually a main dish and a side dish. Ina Garten... you know, the Barefoot Contessa said that this is the way she prefers to make meals and although it has been hard for me to get used to and I still find myself trying to sneak in one more side... you know, for color! But, in reality, we are getting plenty to eat and meals are simpler to prepare!
  5. I eat leftovers. I used to refuse to eat leftovers. But, then I realized it was time to put on my big girl panties and eat the food we had and be glad to have it! Now I actually enjoy eating leftovers and especially love when I can take them and create something totally different for lunch! Like last night's leftover bread became today's grilled cheese at lunch.
I do a few other things but those are the main CHANGES I made to save money on groceries! And the pay off has been great! We are eating healthier and yummier meals (yay for knowing what is IN your food!) and it has been nice on the wallet. What is your favorite way to save money on groceries?

Playing Hard

We have been playing hard around here lately! Pinterest has totally been inspiring me to get a little more creative with my kiddos and planning fun activities for us to do together. Some of my mommy friends are awesome about doing stuff like this all the time! But, it has never been my strong suit. However, I have really been enjoying all of the fun things we have been doing lately! I took a picture of a few of our favorites lately!

1. Playing animals in flour
2. Making pipe cleaner rings that Jack likes to put around other objects
3. Playing animals in corn
4. Drawing letters in flowers
5. Decorating construction paper pumpkins

P.S. Who knew pipe cleaners could provide so many different activities and hours of entertainment???

Happy playing friends!!
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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Letters to my peeps

I haven't done the Sunday Letter thing in awhile so I thought it would be good to do a little update on what all of my favorite peeps are up to these days.
 Dear Max,

I must say, I am so glad you turned 5! I really like 5! You really are turning a corner as far as behavior. It is so nice to be able to say that most days with you really are a joy.

Last week I had a parent teacher conference with your teacher and she said that you were one of the smartest students she has ever had. She said she can see you becoming the next Steve Jobs. She went on about how intelligent AND creative you are. I beamed with pride as I heard someone else confirming what we already know about you... that God has created you to do big things for Him.

I love our time in the afternoons when we do learning activities together. You catch on so quickly and you truly love learning. I remember I used to think that doing learning activities with kiddos was silly and that kids should just play... but then I learned that for little kids, learning IS play! We have so much fun together and I love the one on one time.
 Dear Sophie,

I think you are about as girly as they come. You love all things pink and princesses. You pretty much live in your ballet outfit these days. You have even talked us into letting you sleep in it. And I must say, you are pretty precious coming downstairs in the morning in your ballet outfit and a super hero cape!

You love to call people on the phone and you love to have conversations. I love listening to you tell your grandma and Grandma June story after story. You remind me so much of myself.... sorry!

I was telling a fellow ballet mom yesterday that you are as disagreeable as you are agreeable. You feel very strongly about things one way or another. So, when you are happy you are really happy. But, when you are mad... it is not so pretty! Ha!
Dear Jack,

What can I say? You are growing up way too fast! You are walking and even running. You jibber jabber and sing. You have 6 teeth now. Overall, you are a very happy little man.

You love your daddy a lot which has been an adjustment for me. At this age your brother and sister were all about mom. Don't get me wrong, you LOVE your momma! But, if Daddy is around you tend to gravitate towards him.

It is cute because your favorite toys are balls and cars. Daddy and I aren't sure if those are the toys you really love or just that those are the toys your older brother leaves for you to play with! Either way! It is pretty sweet to watch you crouching down zooming cars across the room or trying to find someone to play catch with!
Dear Nick,

I have loved watching you grow as a husband and dad over the past year. It is amazing because you were a good husband and dad before. But, God is totally transforming you and I love that He gave me a front row seat! I can see that you truly enjoy being with our kiddos and that is so priceless to me. I don't feel like you are doing things out of obligation, but out of a true desire to be with our kiddos.

Thank you for always supporting me and being there to listen. I appreciate your encouragement in all areas of my life. And an EXTRA big thank you for taking two days off of work last week for some awesome family time! I feel like it was one of those weekends that I will never forget!

And in other news... I am SO excited for our date night this Friday! I can't wait to just spend some time with you! I love you so much!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Women Living Well Blog Bash

Hi! If you are coming here from the Women Living Well Blog Hop, WELCOME! This is my blog where I blog about life with the Little R's (my affectionate name for my children... our last name starts with "R")

I love Jesus, my husband, my kiddos, decorating, cooking, coffee, and laughing with good friends. I love to write about all of those things here. Feel free to take a look around and come back any time!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Green Smoothies

One of my most dearest friends, Heidi (who REALLY should start a blog! She is always making super, yummy and healthy recipes) mentioned she had started making green smoothies and totally inspired me to get "back on the wagon". And she shared that her green smoothies go beyond spinach and that she also uses kale, arugala, and baby romaine.

I noticed I had a big container of spinach but could tell that it would be bad within a few days. Then I remembered how you can puree and freeze your veggies for homemade baby food and decided to apply the logic to smoothies!

In this picture I filled by blender up with Kale, added about 1/2 cup of water and pureed it all up.

Then I poured the puree into ice cube trays until frozen. The below pictures are of my spinach puree.

Once they were frozen I popped them out and put them in a freezer bag. Now it will be super easy to throw then into smoothies without worrying about my greens going bad. And I could even mix greens in the smoothies.

My kiddos love green smoothies, or dinosaur smoothies as we call them a lot of the time. This is such a great way to get those awesome leafy greens into their tummies! This is especially great to do as we are going into cold and flu season!

Green Smoothie (makes 2)
3-4 spinach cubes
1/3-1/2 C. Greek Yogurt (I had the vanilla bean kind on hand)
1 banana
2-3 Tbs. ground flax seeds
1/2 C. frozen strawberries
1/2 C. frozen peaches
1/3 C. water

Pink Smoothie (makes 2)
3-4 kale cubes
1/2 C. Greek yogurt
1 banana
1/2 C. frozen raspberries
splash of lime juice
1/3 C. water

The best part about making smoothies is that you can use whatever is available, you can easily use frozen ingredients, and you can experiment and have lots of variety!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Saturday Morning Ramblings

I am not sure when this happened, but not too long ago I became a "morning person". I wake up early almost every morning and I love it! Usually by 6. I love having time to get my quiet time in before I have to start being Mommy! I know a lot of people say they do better reading their Bible at night and I used to be one of those people too. But, I would really encourage you to get into it first thing in the morning, even if it is just a verse or two and you do the rest at night. I feel like it works just like tithing and when I give God the first part of my day the rest of my day always goes so much better... even if it is just my attitude that is better!

We have really enjoyed having Nick off the past few days. Like, REALLY enjoyed it. I am actually a little sad that it is already Saturday and the weekend will be over before we know it.

In the past few months Max has really started asking more questions about God which has been awesome. At first it was just a facination with the devil which made us a little nervous (ha, not really, but it was kind of funny). But, now it is like he is really starting to put things together. Last night Nick asked if I would read the Bible story for the kiddos. As I was reading Max was being a real... I don't know... 5 year old I guess. He didn't want to hear the story I chose and he spent the whole time sighing and laying his head down and covering his eyes... basically being really dramatic. I feel like normally I would have said something but for some reason I didn't. When we were done I asked if anyone wanted to pray for us and Max volunteered. He immediately said, "Dear God, Please forgive me for being angry. I know that you forgive us for every bad thing we do..." It was so amazing to see him recognize his own sin and turn around and repent on his own. It was one of those moments where I felt like I know as a mom I mess up a hundered times a day but God's grace really does cover us even in parenting.

I think today will be pretty low key around our house. Yesterday and the day before were pretty activity filled which has been great but I think today we might just hang out. We will go to Saturday night service this evening and then my sister and brother-in-law are coming over for dinner which should be a great time. We love it that they have started coming to our church!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Breathe in, breathe out

Is pretty much what I have been saying to myself lately. We are so busy around here and as it turns out, Katie and busy are not best friends anymore. The sad thing is that we used to be. I used to love having my days filled to the brim. And even when I just had one child I loved for our days to be filled up with lots of activities. But, I have changed over the years and have gotten to where I do not like being busy. I don't like rushing.

The bummer of it is that I love pretty much every single thing that we are busy with. But, when all put together my weeks just fly by without me feeling like I have adequate time to get stuff done. On Mondays I watch my neighbors little girl, Tuesdays are preschool, ballet, and small group, Wednesdays are Friend2Friend, Thursdays are preschool, and Fridays are our only day without a preplanned activity. And then you throw in all of the extra appointments and fun stuff that comes in and our weeks our just jam packed.

I think the reason I don't enjoy the business anymore is that my priorities have really shifted. Where I used to have my social life as my #1 priority (and I don't mean social life in a bad way! God created us to be in relationships with people and spending time with others and loving them is a great use of our time). But, now with having three kiddos my priority is my family and home. And with a bigger family and home I need a lot more time to take care of my priorities.

The problem is, that I can't see anything that can be cut out. Although I am considering not doing Friend2Friend next year and pick it back up again next fall when we don't have preschool twice a week. I guess I just need to learn to manage the stress and deal with the business better. Any tips???

On a very happy note the hubs took Thursday and Friday off so we will have a 4 day weekend to spend having quality family time so I am excited about that! Maybe that will be the refreshment I need to get through the rest of the "semester". Ha, does anyone else still live their adult, post-college lives in semesters?

Anyway, happy Wednesday all!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

World Bird Sanctuary Fieldtrip with friends

 Yesterday we got the chance to go with my friend Jenn and her kiddos to the World Bird Sanctuary. I had never been before but thought it might be a good time! We will be going again for sure. The price... {free}... was perfect and it was just a great place to take kiddos. We all actually learned quite a bit about birds and had fun while doing it!
 And they didn't just have birds. There were snakes, a rabbit, a bat, and some other bugs and lizards and such.
 Here is Max with his buddy Ben. We talk about Ben a LOT at our house. I am very thankful that Max has such a sweet friend.
 Sophie-Girl really liked the birds too! Soph is a pretty happy child and tends to have fun wherever we go and the bird sanctuary was no exception!
 All the kiddos loved taking turns pretending to be bald eagles. They also tried to pose for a photo with the statue. But, sitting still for long when you are having that much fun just doesn't work!
 I thought this was a great picture of Jenn with her boys (and baby girl in her tummy!)
 My kiddos were LESS cooperative with the mommy photo shoot. As you can see, Max was "real pleased" to be sitting still taking a picture when there are birds to look at!
 Oh, how I love my littlest man. In reality he was reaching to be let out of the stroller. But, it looks like he is giving snuggles to his Mommy so that is how I will choose to remember the moment! Ha!
And the cutest little birds we saw on the whole trip were in this cage. They even let us take these birds home with us... let us, made us.... who can remember the details?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I heart spray paint

Just wanted to pop in and show one of my completed spray paint projects from last week. We had this cheapo piece of furniture we bought when we were first married and living in our town home and had like, no storage! The doors of it broke  off in our most recent move so it had been sitting in the garage. I was looking for a piece of furniture to put in our laundry room to hold shoes and such and since I was working on a small budget I knew I needed to use something I already had. Enter the old shelf! With a little spray paint, some new knobs, a tension rod, and a fabric drop cloth from the hardware store this is our newest piece of furniture! Here is the before and after!
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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Sweet Saturday

I have mentioned before that around here we pretty much live for the weekends. We love having Nick all to ourselves. We decided to take full advantage of our Daddy Time and spend some time at Cuivre River State Park today. And of course I took the opportunity to try to snatch a few pics for the 'ol Christmas card.

I don't know that I will ever get over Max's gigantic eyes. He just gets more handsome every day. And don't even try to convince me that I am the mom of a 5 year old... I won't believe you for a second because I am positive this guy was just born!

And of course a Christmas photo shoot wouldn't be complete without Jesse. Do you remember last year? I didn't even suggest Jesse come along... it just happened. That girl LOVES Jesse.

And of course Jack loved being outside. He is pure perfection rolled up into one adorably chunky one year old package!

We even managed to grab a family shot using the self timer. Too bad I look AWFUL!! Thank goodness I have an adorable family to make up for it!

Daddy and the kiddos checking out some kind of little lizard. Gotta love nature!

And I rediscovered that it is a physical impossibility to get a good picture of three kids all at the same time!

I am okay with that though. Kids this cute don't have to all be looking at the camera at the same time, right?

And you gotta love live action shots of the princess being chased by a wild T-Rex.

Yep. Saturdays are awesome. And the best part is, it isn't over yet! We are heading out here in a few to meet up with my sister and brother-in-law for Saturday night service at church and then we are headed out to my parents for a family dinner. Love it!

Happy Saturday everyone!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Before and after

 Do you notice the "very dramatic" before and after?

I am a spray painting fool today! I will post all of my fun projects later this week!

What I am reading this week...

I had fun making my little reading list last week so I thought I would share what I am reading this week! And obviously, I read A LOT of books at once. When I sit down to read I usually have at least two books with me. What can I say, I love reading but I have a short attention span! And, thanks to the wonderful library I can read as many books as I want! Yay for free things!

So, on tap for this week:

As you can tell I don't read much fiction outside of super easy to read Christian fiction these days! I love good books (I mean, Hello! English major over here!) but my time is a little limited right now and if I have time to read fiction I want to make sure it is going to be uplifting in this little season of my life!

So, what are you reading?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fresh Start

I know a lot of people think of the New Year or even spring as a fresh start, but for me, fall has always signified a fresh start. Maybe it comes from years of being in school and the start of a new school year, but something about fall just seems to remind me that God says that he makes all things new. I love the start of new activities, getting into a routine, and I even love to rearrange my home and spruce things up in the fall!

The above pictures are a few of the areas of my home that have recently been "made new". And I love that while I have been busy sprucing up my home, God has been busy sprucing up my heart!