Homemade Playdough

Little Miss and I decided we needed to make some playdough so we pulled out the recipe my mom used when we were growing up and got to work. Although this recipe does not have anything harmful in it, it doesn’t taste good either so I wouldn’t consider it edible. I do love the texture of this recipe though which is why I always go back to it.

The best part about this recipe is how easy it is. Dump all the ingredients into a saucepan, heat while stirring until it form a clump and then you simply roll it on the counter and knead it a bit and then you’re ready to play as soon as it cools. (maybe 3-5 minutes, tops) SO easy and so fun that the kids get to say they MADE their playdough, they love it!

We had so much fun rolling, cutting, forming, shaping, and then…building a snowman. Zoey was very captivated by how I made one…

So glad I had the camera ready to capture her reaction when I turned it around to show her…

She thought it was the silliest thing. Typical Arizona girl I guess. Then she decided to make her own and it’s just the cutest little thing ever. She did a good job and then took the “coal”, nose, arms and eyes off of mine to add to hers.

Zoey’s cute little doughman

If it’s a cold, chilly day and you want something to do with your child that takes very little effort but is so much fun, this is a great choice! Stores nicely in a gallon bag too so it entertains longer than just one sitting.

C & A Room

Ok, you are going to have to just forgive the poor quality pictures but until I hire a photographer to get decent pics you’re stuck with phone pics and with windows that always get crazy light, this is the best I have for now.

Also, Andi’s bedding does not match the room but when your daughter’s face lights up with excitement when she finds a space unicorn comforter you let go over your desire to have a perfectly decorated room so that she can have what she loves. This is me trying to convince myself I did the right thing 😉

We decided to go with a very light neutral color on the walls and the girls landed on Calm by Benjamin Moore (OC-22). We wanted a splash of color somewhere in the room and I convinced the girls to go against the norm and paint the shiplap wall a color. They chose Woodlawn Blue by Benjamin Moore (HC-147). I really do need to a get better pictures one day so ya’ll can see how beautiful these colors are they chose. Reminder, you can go to Home Depot and give them the name of a Benjamin Moore color and they can look up the formula, no need to have a sample on hand for them to color match. {high five to that technology!}

Now lets move on to the most important part of this post, the cost and reviews of what we did in their room. This corner of the room is by far the highlight of the space. A few months ago we decided to pull the books out of the play room and divide them amongst the kids’ rooms and so I knew that in each of their rooms we needed to include a place to at the very least store books, better yet, have a little reading nook if room permitted. Luckily in the girls room we could do both. And since they have bunk beds which makes it hard to just lay in bed and hang out, which is their favorite after school activity, we wanted to make sure there was comfy seating for both, especially Andi when she doesn’t want to have to climb up in her bed. I got the shelves and the swing on Amazon. The shelves came in a set of 2 as shown and the swing comes with just the swing so you need to account for the fact that you have to hang it yourself. We decided to go with chainlink and carabiners hanging from the anchors we put in the ceiling. All of the items were bought at Home Depot for around $24. (That brings the total of the swing to about $75) Both products have been awesome so far, no complaints. The shelves aren’t super deep but most chapter books do fit on their and the kids books they have in there (for reading to Taylor) we just lay against the wall so they look like they are being displayed which I like the look of so, they work for us.

Andi asked for “a golden light” for her birthday. She wanted a light next to the bed so she can read at night, I just love that kid! Anyway, guess where I found these gold sconces? You got it! AMAZON! I didn’t want a permanent fixture so these work perfectly for us. They are definitely bright enough and I think the quality is great for the price. The girls are loving being able to read in bed with the room light off and then just shut off their sconce when it’s time to go to bed. They feel so grown up. 🙂

Each girl has a small shelf next to their bed to hold just a couple items, just enough space to feel like they have a shelf that is their own for items of their own choice, but not big enough to turn into a clutter collector. The shelves I loved came in a 3 pack and they are all different sizes. Andi has the biggest because she is top bunk and doesn’t have anywhere else to store anything. Cambryn has the middle size since she can set a water bottle or book on the floor if needed and the smallest shelf is being used elsewhere in our house. This works for their room since they have bunkbeds and you can’t see the shelves next to each other. You would never know they had different sizes unless I pointed it out to you, which I did not due to the girls and I’m pretty sure they have no idea. Classic mom move.

We still need to add some pieces to the room. A large mirror and some cute framed pics of them together over the years are going to make their debut sometimes soon but for now, we’re happy with how it’s coming together. I love walking in their room and seeing them in their swing together giggling over their most recent inside joke or deep into their reading. It makes my mama heart happy. I love seeing how excited they are to show off their room to friends and hold their “sibling meetings” in there. It’s been a successful room makeover.

While we were busy at work in their bedroom they made this cute entrance to their room. I love seeing their creativity and them develop a love of decorating like their parents


Fun fact: these lanterns are from our wedding THIRTEEN years ago! How cool is that to have them now in the room of our oldest two?! The kids love to have sibling sleepovers in the girls’ room and stay up talking with just these lanterns on and I love to sneak a peek on them all in there making memories under those lights. We did not picture this is what life would be like 13 years later and that we would still have those lights and be putting them to use but man are we SO grateful for where life has taken us. It just makes my heart melt thinking about it.

Craft Room of My DREAMS!

It has begun!  Operation craft room makeover has officially started and it ismessy. Carpets are up, glue is slowly but surely coming off with the help of paint thinner and our muscles and we are getting one step closer to the room of my dreams.  

Are you ready to picture this with me?  Black and white stripe floors, large table in the middle of the room with storage in it.  The perfect place for the kids and I to do crafts together while making memories that will last a lifetime.  A closet that is so beautifully organized that it will make your heart skip a beat when you look at it (ok, I may have a problem when it comes to obsessive organizing), some artwork that represents my two homes, beach and desert, pegboard with more organization and some greenery, and of course a couch for friends and family to sit and visit with those of us creating at the table.

One of the inspiration pictures I have had my eye on for a long time now.

Do you see it?  I can’t wait to make it come to life and share it.  

What’s for dinner tonight?!

Every time my kids walk through the door I swear the first thing out of their mouth is, “What’s for dinner?” I can’t count how many times my immediate thought is, “Crap, I have to pick again?” I really do like cooking but for some reason I hate choosing what to cook. Weird? Just me? I don’t know, but in case you are the same way and you are dreading having to figure out what to cook, let alone something that everyone will eat, let me give you a suggestion:

If you have these ingredients on hand then you are in luck because I have a super easy, super yummy recipe to share with you from Dinner Then Dessert. Is there anything better than contemplating what to make for dinner, AGAIN, and then seeing someone post about what they are making for dinner and you get excited because you realize you have the ingredients for that too and now you don’t have to decide?! I hope that is happening for you RIGHT NOW. I pretty much always keep these ingredients on hand because there are so many recipes I can make with them but this is definitely one of our favorite. This Cheesy Taco Pasta is delicious and easy enough for my 11 year old to make it by herself which is always a bonus.

Here is to knowing what’s for dinner! {insert high five} What are your favorite “go to” meals?

2 Things That Are Helping Me Get Through Nursing

First and foremost I want to say there should be NO JUDGEMENT on how parents choose to feed their baby.  Nursing, pumping, formulait doesn’t matter we are ALL doing our best and have our kids best interest in mind.  Like a hilarious meme I once saw said”they all end up eating Cheerios off the floor of the car anyway”. : ) 

With that being said, this post is geared to those who are trying to make breastfeeding work and are struggling because mama, I get it!  I have struggled to breastfeed each of my six kids some only lasted 4 months, others 12 months.  This go around is by far the easiest and that’s because of two factors.

  1. I started following a support group on Instagram and I got so much information {and support} from them which was a huge help.  @pump_momma_pump gives tips on relieving clogged ducts, increasing your milk supply, what you can do with oversupply, how to deal with high lipase milk, and more.  All though it focuses a lot on pumping, they are very encouraging of all women, no matter how you choose to feed your babypumping, nursing or formula.  
  2. I learned about Power Pumping and it was LIFE CHANGING.  So anytime I noticed a dip in my supply (which is pretty often for me.  My supply fluctuates a lot depending on diet, exercise, water intake all of that.  I feel like I’m pretty sensitive to each of those areas and it doesn’t take much to notice a decrease in my supply.  Also, baby girl started sleeping through the night {yay!} but it effected my supply as well)  So in the past if I noticed a decrease I would try to just feed more often and for some that works great, but I never had much success with it.  This time I’ve done Power Pumping and within less than a week of doing it ONCE a day I would notice a difference.  So, here’s how it works: Pump for 20 minutes, rest for 10 minutes, pump for 10 minutes, rest for 10 minutes, pump for 10 minutes.  As you see, it’s an hour spent once a day but that’s all you need to signal your body that it’s not producing enough and needs to step up it’s game.  After our most recent vacation I noticed I was getting a little less than usual when I was pumping (which explained why the baby kept wanting to nurse SO MUCH) but honestly haven’t had a hour each day to spare so I increased my water intake and then pumped my usual amount, waited 10 minutes and pumped again for 10 more minutes (so a total of 40 minutes probably) and I noticed an increase within 48 hours.  So with 2 “power pumps”, increase in water and nursing baby still I increased it faster than usual.  Keep in mind baby girl is 5 months now so my supply is a little more established, I would definitely stick to a full hour of Power Pumping if you have a newborn and are trying to increase your supply and for sure do it for at least a week.  

I just thought I would do a post for any women out there really wanting to make nursing work but struggling.  Hopefully this will help.  And go follow @pump_momma_pump for sure!  If you have tried everything and it’s still not working that is O.K. too!  You love your baby and your baby knows it, not from whether you nurse her/him or not but by the love they feel radiating from you each time you hold her/him and THAT is what matters.  

Look who started getting the hang of holding her bottle!

If you know someone who may benefit from these tips please share, we can all use more support and encouragement from one another. 

xoxo, 

Jenny

3 Important Steps to Take When Disciplining to Maintain Peace in the Home

I’m certainly not an expert in parenting.  Nor do I have a degree in Psychology, Childhood Development or anything of the sorts, but like many parents, I have read countless book, articles and blogs to get ideas on everything from disciplining to throwing a party for your kids.  So, although not an expert, I have tried A LOT of different approaches over the years and have learned what does and doesn’t work.  The biggest thing I have learned is disciplining is HARD and it is constantly changing depending on the age, situation and child.  I’ve also learned that there are 3 things that help no matter what your style of discipline is. These 3 steps also help us to maintain peace in the home rather than creating those feelings of tension that often followed discipline in the past for us.

Funny yet sad fact about this picture, we aren’t actually disciplining in this picture. We’re comforting Parker who just found out he was getting ANOTHER sister 🙂 What can I say, I don’t think to snap pictures when disciplining so this picture will have to do
  1. Get down at their level.  When I kneel, sit or squat down at their level (or pull them up on a counter to be at my level) having that eye to eye contact helps them not feel like I am talking down to them (literally and figuratively). At the same time it helps them see how serious I am about what I’m talking about but in a way that doesn’t make them fear me : )  With that being said, another pro is it also helps me make a point to teach them and explain why I don’t want them, or do want them, to do certain things rather than just yelling at them to cut it out “because I said so”.  (although sometimes they seriously just need to knock it off because we said so, am I right?) Taking the time to get down at their level gives you those couple seconds of pause to take a breath and handle things just a bit calmer. For some of our kids we have to keep it short and sweet and for others, it’s more effective to take our time explaining.  Often times we give them the consequence first and then get down on their level to have a chat following the consequence (go to your room to calm down and I will be up there in a bit) but that depends on the situation.  Sometimes a conversation is needed before they even receive the consequence. 
  2. Give them a hug after.  Everyone has different approaches on discipline.  Time out, writing sentences, electronics taken away, lecture, yelling, whispering.whatever your approach is, EVERYONE can give a hug after and what a difference it makes.  Whether you use words to express this or not, it lets them know (or confirms) that although you may be disappointed in the decision they just made, you still love them and are here for them while they work on improving.  Obviously saying this along with the hug is most effective.
  3. This one isn’t so much what you do when you discipline them but in between disciplining themsay sorry when you mess up.  When they see that you say sorry to them after losing your temper with them, or that you apologize for being late picking them up, it helps them learn that it is ok to admit fault, learn from it and move on.  Your example teaches them more than your words ever will.  You might be surprised how quickly they say sorry and admit their error next time they mess up.  My husband and I are both big believers on this one and it has made a HUGE difference. (we do this A LOT because we mess up often)  We feel better after those conversations with our kids and I really am impressed with the number of times they have come and apologized to us for having attitude with us BEFORE we have had to talk to them about it. “Sorry mom for acting like that, I realize I was being ungrateful and rude”.  Which we always follow up with “Thank you for recognizing that and apologizing.”  We don’t say “That’s ok” because it’s not, but we will give them respect & gratitude for the courage and maturity they just showed by apologizing on their own.  Our 6 year old & 8 year old sometimes do this on their own but we see it most from our 9 & 11 year old so consistency is definitely key, that example eventually starts to sink in and they reciprocate it.
Post discipline hugs after she got in trouble (at Disneyland of all places!) for being mean to her sibling

I wish I could credit the books, blogs and articles I have read these tips from but it’s been so long since reading them I have no idea.  I will say, these are things we have implemented for years and have found a lot of success with. 

4 Daily Tasks to Keep a Tidier Home

Let me start by saying I DO NOT have a clean house at all times.  There is not a single room in our house that looks like a room from a magazine at all times.  We have 6 young kids who live in this house with us.  Key word LIVE, so I’m not expecting the house to be perfectly cleaned but with that being said, the clutter can get OUT OF HAND so fast if we don’t stay on top of it so here are 4 things I try to do every day to keep the house tidy-ish. 

  1. We have a tub that we keep in the family room that collects the items that need to go upstairs but we’re too lazy to take up there right away.  Then, twice a day I have the kids take it upstairs, put everything away {WHERE IT BELONGS} and bring it back down empty. We found our cute tub at Walmart for $5 in their seasonal section.
  2. We have set “clean up times”.  They coincide with our meals to keep it easy to remember for the kids.  So, right before lunch they do a clean and right before dinner.  “Clean up time” means clearing the floors, emptying the bucket, toys being put in appropriate buckets, blankets folded and put away etc.  The lunch clean up I’m more relaxed about and they often leave out what they are currently playing with and wanting to go back to after lunch.  Dinner clean up though is more thorough, they have to have everything put away and they are pretty good at it because they know they have their nightly chores after dinner and it goes faster if the house is already picked up at least.
  3. Have a designated place for items like mail, purses/backpacks, shoes, kids art, etc.  These tend to be the items that clutter up a space fast so the sooner you can deal with them the better off you are. For us, mail immediately gets sorted and bills go on my husband’s desk upstairs, “mom mail” (invitations, magazines, letters etc) goes on my night stand for me to go through at night and everything else goes into recycling.  Purse & diaper bag get hung up in the closet under the stairs, backpacks have a place in the craft room (for now, mudroom coming soon), shoes go next to the stairs but only ONE pair of flip flops per person for quick access, all other shoes are {supposed} to be taken up to closets and kid art goes on their clip board that is also hanging in the craft room/my office. 
  4. Wipe down your counters often.  There is something about a clean counter that makes you feel like your house is cleaner than it actually is. For real though, we try to be good about wiping down our counters after each meal.  When it doesn’t get done and the regular “clean up times” don’t happen and the house is just feeling DESTROYED, I will start with wiping down the counters and immediately I feel like it’s getting under control.  Am I the only one that feels this way?  I also feel like the dishes being done are right up there with this.  Ok, maybe I should change number 4 to just be “clean your kitchen”.  If my kitchen is clean I don’t mind the rest of the mess as much.  Life feels overall more manageable with a clean kitchen. Try it, maybe it works for you too. 

So what are your tips to keep a tidier house? Shoot me an email or comment below and I may get in contact with you to post it for another viewpoint!