Summer Family Living

Happy Monday Friends! Hope everyone had a great weekend celebrating all the fathers in our lives!

I'm sitting down to write this and my thoughts are million different directions because I have so many ideas and suggestions on all this...but I always want to stress that I don't believe my way is the right way for everyone. Every family's life spins so differently around jobs, where you physically live, what phase of life you are in with ages of kids and so on.  This post is summer living suggestions based on our family hobbies and just a list to help ignite ideas if you are in a rut!

I love LOVE LOVE family. I love family time the most in the whole world. (I mean, don't get me wrong sometimes I need a minute or 30 to myself too ;-) I also love all the fun activities that are exclusive to warmer weather days that we can do as family. Tom and I like to stay active an enjoy life that is at our fingertips but we do try to be mindful to not be cruise directors of our children's lives. I think there is a VERY valuable lesson to be taught and fostered in down time and alone time. Not having something "special" going on every single day of life. But when we do schedule to do fun things I really do LOVE to put time and thought into it. I really personally enjoy details and planning fun events for us.

Dining outside. I super duper love this one. The whole family enjoys this. The kids love to just come and go while eating and playing, leaving Tom and I time to have a relaxing dinner. I love the different types of meals that usually coincide with eating outside. Some of my favorites are: taco cups (various recipes avail on Pinterest), my habana corn + something off the grill, or just a sweet treat like homemade ice-cream (recipe to come!) Janae LOVES planning dinners outside with me. That girl is a party planner to the max so she is always right there working her tail off to make it special with me. She is the official table wiper, setting everyones place. She LOVES when we add a vase of flowers. I'm serious she is a total details girl right along with me. So for that reason, I also love the added quality time she and I have when we put together a dinner plan (usually during Jay's nap!)

Fishing. Kids love fishing! Make sure hubby gets a license first and go along for support staff and go spend some time talking and fishing. Even if they just sit and look at all the goodies in the tackle box or stay busy throwing rocks into the lake...they love it. I remember as a kid loving to look at Dad's tackle box and now I see my kids playing with the lures and getting so excited to that bobber go under. Its really good quality time, people. Show your kids some nature. Watching their eyes light up when you get a catch is priceless! 

Speaking of nature. Hiking. I wrote about it in my last post but find a park with wooded trials and let the kids explore. If you are feeling really Pinterest-y and super mom-ish, then search for a hiking scavenger hunt and print it out to take along. They eat this stuff up. The walking is good for everyone and again, it's perfect setting for the best little family conversations and teaching moments.

Outdoor movie night! Ok this one SEEMS more extravagant but when I break it down I think you will see its not as bad as you might think. An outdoor projector can be bought for as little as around $100 but much more depending on what you are looking for.  If you need or want a screen is really up to you. I've heard of people using a giant drop cloth or white sheet instead of an actual screen. Or even a garage door or side of house if yours is a light color. If you decide to buy a screen you may end up with a a few hundred dollar investment...which sounds steep. BUT..if you are an average family of 4 how much money do you spend each time you go to the movie theater?? Tickets, snacks, etc ...you are likely spending 50-75 dollars a pop! And then how many times do you go per summer/year? I feel like I see many people going once every month or two on social media...So think of unqiue and fun experiece you can give your kids by telling yourself and them that this summer we skip the theaters and use the money towards this set up that we can use over and over and over again. Then throw in the adult usage as well...We have even used ours to screen our Colts games and other fun events with neighbors or friends!
I usually make a fun treat from popcorn to fruit pizza.... throw some blankets in the yard and let the kids have a late night of fun! Watching a movie, staying up way beyond bedtime, catching lightning bugs, maybe throw in a few sparklers ;-) ...They LOVE this...and I usually get a super late morning of sleeping in from them the next day which is kind of nice too ;-)

Water works day is always a hit. We live right by our pool club but sometimes the kids have more fun hanging around here with a slip n slide, popsicles, sprinkler, water balloons, and super soaker water guns. I LOVE not even having to leave our yard to have such a fun day. These types water balloons (there are tons of different kinds Amazon) are where its at y'all! They are so fun. A few weeks back all the neighbor kids spent like 2 full hours playing with water balloons. Easy backyard fun! We just keep stocked up on the balloons and popsicles so we can spur of the moment have afternoons of water fun!

Summer for us is the time to get up and get moving! Put the screens away. Turn the TV off. Thats what rainy days and winter are for!

And finally a few ideas for those solo Mama days at home --a few easy activities when you litterally just "can't even" anymore. (And you don't have to be a craft leader during it which is even better.)

-Just give them a giant bucket of water. And then just keep refilling it. This one usually can drag out for a very long time which is perfection if all you want to do is sit down with a magazine or drink your morning coffee in peace. If old enough like my kids ages encourage them to water all the flowers.

-Just move normal activities outside. Bring a couple books to read or paper & stickers. I think just the change in environment makes it feel so much more exciting to them.

- On rainy days, back out the vehicles of your garage and shut the door. Let them ride bikes in there or even give them a leaf blower with the door half open and let them "clean the garage."

- Car wash! Literally let them wash your car. Or even just give them rags and bucket of water and tell them to wash their bikes or power wheels car.

I know my ideas don't fit everyones lives but I love to share what we love. We spend many days being "regular"...just trying to get through just like everyone else. I'd venture to say most days are not "photo worthy" in our daily life...But I feel strongly that I can use the creativity, interests, & talents God gave me to benefit and shape the our family lifestyle. So I do.

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Things around here are in full swim Summer mode. We love it, of course. We love to be outside playing and getting wet! We are so tired already from the warmer temps and extra activity but there is no time to be tired when we are having so much fun, right?

Jay likes to swim with Dad the most. Because Jay is a daredevil and Tom will take him to the deep end.  Even though he has a life jacket on and its really no different than the shallow end, I think he just knows its like "super cool" to go to the deep end.

Janae spends every second jumping in over and over again and diving for her rings!

We love the pool but honestly half the time they enjoy just doing sprinkler and water balloons in our own yard just as much! So we use our evenings for that kind of fun and get the lawn and landscape watered all at the same time!

Jay was napping one day and Janae was dying to go swimming so this is what she came up with! BAAAHAHHA

First Day of Pre-K and Graduation Ceremony evening before the last day! I mean look at her legs! She grew a TON this last year in height. She is of course still a total peanut otherwise ;-)

Her very last day! I can't believe she is such a big girl now.

Naps have been key to happy moods with the summer heat and heavy physical activity outdoors. I was so nervous Jay was going to give up his nap a few months back but I think napping is here to stay through the summer. He hasn't been fighting it nearly as much. Thank goodness because this Mama needs a BREAK too!!!!!!! 

One day this boy will take up more than one cushion on my couch. He is such a little boy with such big energy. 

Last day of school called for dual (ok triple nap time if you include Dixie) naps to recharge for summer!

Just because he is so cute and I love sleeping babies. (He turns 3 in like 3 weeks so he isn't exactly a baby anymore but my kids are always going to be my babies)

After a ton of spring rain we FINALLY made it to the zoo which the kids always LOVE.

We all went to my 21 week appointment and ultrasound a few weeks ago and then we had breakfast at the same place as when we went to Janae's ultrasound! Bub's Cafe is seriously delicious and it was fun to go back to the place from when we were just beginning our family. 

Projects projects projects! I may or may not be nesting like a freaking crazy woman. I've got to do list a mile long and of course it all seems "super important" in my nesting brain. So Home Depot and Lowe's and our local hardware store have been regular errands over the last month or so. I'm so lucky that Tom just puts up with my hyper nesting mode. I think he is going to deserve a really relaxing Father's Day weekend.

We have gone hiking a handful of times now as family (only once this spring though) but its such a fun adventure and great way to spend time together and get active. The kids completely wore me out on this one though. I wanted to be done after one big trail and they begged us to do another trail. I literally was the last to the car and was so exhausted the whole rest of the day. We have it on the docket to do later this week or weekend and I'm making a rule that we only do one trail this time. This chicken can't keep up!

Have I mentioned that Jay is obsessed with his Dad? lol He loves to match him and help him pick out his clothes every single day. Its so cute to see how much he thinks the world of Tom. They were just looking so cute together one night after dinner and I had to snap a pic of it!

Janae went to her first little dance camp. It was fairy themed and so adorable. She had the best time so we signed up for another one next month that is a Frozen theme. 

Sparklers and s'mores have been heavily requested lately. We love to get our baths all done and then end the last hour with sparklers, a fire if its a cooler evening, or something low key on the patio when the temps have dropped a little! We busted out the outdoor movie screen once already and hope to later this week for Zootopia. The kids especially love that because they get to stay up late since it doesn't get dark until 9!

Myself and the kids met up with a friend and her kids for Strawberry picking! It was our first time! The kids, of course, loved it and enjoyed snacking as they went ;-) I think they ended up picking like 3 pounds!

While Janae was at dance camp one day I took my little dude to a local fire museum for a Mama & Son date. There were 4 trucks they can climb in and explore plus tons of other fire fighter related items like the hoses and helmets etc. Jay was ate up! I just smiled and watched as he and a couple friends we invited climbed around on the trucks for a solid hour! 

He insisted on wearing the hat backwards. hahahah

And, we just ended an amazing weekend spent back home. We did *all the things* Like, seriously, I can't even believe how many different things we did but it was SO FUN. From paddle boat on a lake for Jay & Tom while Janae and I went to try on flower girl dresses, to our friend's Son's 1st birthday party, to tractor and rustler rides, visiting Tom's parents, and fireworks and catching lightning bugs. We did it all. Everything.

This week and next we are trying to just relax and enjoy a bit of a slower pace before July picks up. July is gonna be BUSY but so so so FUN.
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Jumping In

We hear it all the time.. and sometimes its easy to see or hear and sometimes its not. But God is everywhere and a part of every single fiber of our lives. I told you all back when we announced our 3rd pregnancy that it was a decision that we never had a firm answer to until literally at the same time we both felt it placed on our hearts to expand our family. It truly wasn't any sort of real discussion that ended in the in the answer "yes"...it was the overwhelming feeling that we both had on our own  that it was meant for our family. Fast forward over the first 5-6 months of this year and I can confidently say that right now in our lives God is telling us to "jump in"...  From deciding to expand our family this year, to other very important parts of our life, but also many family life and motherhood things that individually aren't all that big of deal. I had mentally been writing this post in my head for a while now because I think we all like to hear testimonies from people about how God works in their life or even just a heartwarming story that reminds you that if you are asking for answers or direction that maybe you aren't listening or looking for them in the right spot.

Maybe just over a month ago(??) we were driving back from Target and I know EXACTLY where we were when God literally spoke to us through our children. Why do I feel so confident that it was a message we were supposed to hear?? Because it wasn't just me that interpreted it that way...it was Tom too. And it just completely applied to a few things that had been weighing on our hearts. It was a dreary day among MANY around that time and the kids were bumming hard because we had planned to go to zoo but couldn't due to rain. (Somehow we broke the cardinal rule by telling our kids we were going to go to zoo ahead of time. Please...if you are reading this and have just a baby or no children yet, please at least take away the knowledge of NEVER telling a child you are doing something until you are literally buckling them in to go.)  I responded to yet ANOTHER question about that days' weather saying "yeah...it is kind of a yucky day..." and without a moment of hesitation Janae (who previously had been completely mad about all the recent rain) goes "but rainy days make puddles which are so fun to jump in!" I swear to you, Tom and I just locked eyes on each other immediatly and knew that was a different message we were supposed to hear. When a 5 year old delivers a life message to you that you needed reminded of, its a pretty special moment...again like I said above it really applied to many different things in our lives. Tom and I actually didn't even say a word to each other about that moment until I feel like the next day or later that night and have since talked about a few times. But if you could have heard the remainder of the car ride home...seriously the giggles and serious talk about how cool puddles are from the kids, that alone was one of those breaths of fresh air during what had been a challenging couple of weeks at home with the kids for me. But the bigger message was heard loud and clear too. Since that day the whole rain discussion seems to have not ended which is rather funny. (Kids REALLY latch on to things and will discuss them until your ears bleed, right?!! lol)  I can't actually even believe how much we have discussed why rain is a good thing to help our world grow - gardens, trees, flowers...yada yada yada. But can you even think of anything more true in life? It really is the rainy days that grow us and our lives. It's the course correction ...unless we fight it. Which I've been known to do. Admittedly, I'm a control freak and a worrier. I forget to let go and acknowledge that I'm not the one who is supposed to have this under control.

None of this is earth shattering information. We all "know" this...but when we aren't paying enough attention, or when we grow arrogant, God uses something or someone (like our children) to deliver a message we weren't listening to or confident in otherwise. I think on that day we needed the nudge we got from that innocent comment made in the car. Being someone who gets stuck in her own head with her own to do list and is a compulsive planner we have had a really joyful last few weeks since learning from our kids.


The way Jay just runs and belly flops into the pool and just seriously laughs his face off each time.

The way both my children try new things with very little fear. (or none, if its Jay)

The way Janae can speak on stage at her Pre-K graduation with confidence....and has no reservations about moving on to the next phase in her life. 

The way they plunge into life is seriously inspiring. 

I have no real news flash for you today...just felt like sharing something simple and joyful in our life right now that felt like something much bigger.
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Inspired By...

Approximately 8 years ago Tom and I walked into Goodwill and found this solid oak large coffee table. It was $20 if I remember correctly. The table was such good quality and the style of it caught my eye. Even Tom was drawn to it. We immediately bought it with the plan to paint it creamy white and distress it. I REALLY believe this was not even a mega popular trend yet at this point in time. At least I didn't know a single person who liked the look of oversized turned legs on furniture or white distressed look yet.  This was when DARK woods and clean lines and bold accent walls were booming. I really truly feel like this piece was the defining moment I realized my personal style. Fast forward like 5 years not only did my style grow and start to take over in everything I had been buying and even inspired our choice in our second home, (choosing an outdated home with a great floor plan that we could mold easier to our style than many new builds) but also was when I randomly turned on HGTV to probably either the first or second Fixer Upper episode and was in awe and shock. I recognized Joanna. I had been reading her blog occasionally for year or so!  I LOVED everything. I was so inspired by their style and unique niche industry. I was SO EXCITED to see her on TV.  Their dynamic as husband and wife - a power couple who work together was inspiring. I felt like they were actually creating a quality show while doing beautiful quality work. I just connected from day one. I remember mentioning this show to a few people and no one really knew what show I was talking about. No matter what though, Tom and I have been original fans from day one. So while I don't always love all her design choices I have picked up a few tricks from her and thought I'd share my top 5 favorite tips I have picked up from Joanna Gains. (And I'm not going to say shiplap because we all already know about that phenomenon! Admittedly, we did base our idea to plank our island and basement wall from her!...and Tom and I do own her #shiplap tee because we are mega fans like that!) 

1. Book accents. Turning your books backwards for display. So I like to style with books like she does and I had TONS of books to use but I didn't like all the colors of the books spines. (I should also throw in that the first thing I do when I get a book is throw the dust cover away. I HATE dust covers. gross.) But during an episode a year or so ago I saw her styling the books backwards and actually exposing the edges of pages. BRILLIANT! Shows off that beautiful neutral color and the variation of each books pages adds such beautiful texture! I've used this solution in multiple areas of my house. I LOVE the look of this and it provides easy storage for books that we either want to keep or ones we just aren't ready to let go of yet!

2. Her use of greenery. I think I always picked up a sense of warmth and comfort from spaces that included some greenery or natural living elements but I don't think until I saw her abundant use of greens that it clicked that having plant life in the home is what was conveying that warmth to me. I have tried to add real greens to as many places in my house that is kid proof and has enough natural light and I've supplemented with faux greens in many other places. Green is actually one of my favorite decorating colors too so adding the natural greens to my otherwise mainly neutral palette provides a really nice pop of color too. And I think thats key when whites and creams are your style...those light shades feel very sterile if you don't find ways to bring in warmth and diffuse the all the layers of neutrals. 

3. Her love for vintage and antiques SO speaks to my heart. I've written about this a few times before but if you are new you should know that my home is filled with vintage pieces that are very near and dear to my heart and speak loudly about who were are. I love filling a home with meaningful pieces and not filling home with all new random stuff that says nothing about you at all. It takes no effort and a lot of money to go to Pottery Barn and Target and buy ALL new stuff and just fill a home with it and it certainly doesn't reflect anything about you either. **I am NOT hating on those stores and I buy PLENTY of things from many mainstream decor stores too but I'm just stressing the concept of using old with new and putting thought into what you want your home to be filled with ;-) I also just love the sense of comfort aged pieces add to home. Again, it takes away that sparkly, shiny, "don't touch anything" feeling I get from some design styles.

4. Natural lighter woods & mixing different wood tones-- Again, like I mentioned earlier, before everyone started having this obsession with Joanna Gaines I think we were still in the dark on dark on dark wood trend. Which can look really nice in the right home, btw. But I think she has been a huge inspiration to the design world in bringing back lighter woods, white furniture, and mixing tones of woods. I have always had a major crush on white kitchens and I really think she has led the rise in popularity in that. But the most important thing is how she mixes light, medium, and darker woods with white. I have drawn inspiration from her a lot in my own home. I have a light wood kitchen which I always thought we would one day paint (maybe still down the road?? Who knows.) but I feel like I have picked up enough pointers and found enough ways to mix in the whites I love that now I actually really love my kitchen, light cabinets and all! Where as I think previously I would have been much more scared to mix woods as much as I have. 

5. Finally, & probably the BEST thing learned from Joanna Gains is more of a testament to who she and Chip are as people. They are such a great example to LAUGH! To enjoy simplicity. To keep God and family at the forefront in all parts of life. I like that I can turn on Fixer Upper when my kids are awake and not worry about what they will see. (I have actually seen BOTH my kids sit and watch an entire episode on multiple occasions too!)
 I've seen this image quite a few times to the point of where I'm a little sick of it..BUT it really is true and is exactly my point...so I'll leave you with this:

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