Morning Routine

As much as I loathe school starting back up because I once again have to set an alarm in the morning, it also brings much needed routine into our lives. Of course, it also keeps us from having as much fun, but I would rather my kids learn to read and write and stuff than have fun all the time ;) Anyway, one thing I have learned along the way is that a solid morning routine is worth its weight in gold. The kids know what to expect and everything gets done.

My biggest, biggest, biggest tip is that I get up and completely ready before the kids get up. For me personally, being ready starts my day off on the right foot. And not trying to juggle getting the kids ready at the same time as myself is also huge. Sure, sometimes a kid will wake up while I am still getting ready, but they can entertain themselves until I am done...or, if it's Callum, I've been known to just let him play in the shower while I am taking one, to entertain him. Once I'm ready, this is how the morning goes.

7am - Wake Connor. He gets himself dressed and comes down for breakfast. I make him breakfast as well as make the kids lunches, put them in their backpacks and set their backpacks and shoes on the bench by our front door.

7:20am - Wake Isla. I get her dressed purely so she won't wear something crazy to school. Not to mention the fact that most of what she would pick out wouldn't work for the dress code (insert eye rolls here).

7:45am - If Callum isn't already awake, I go wake him. On days he is already awake, he sits at the table with whoever is there and eats breakfast. But, after Isla is fully ready, I go get Callum dressed for the day.

8am - Five minutes before we are supposed to leave the house, I tell the kids to put their shoes on and grab their backpacks. This always takes longer than the 30 seconds that it should, especially since their shoes are sitting out for them! Either way, that's why I allow for 5 minutes. It keeps things more peaceful.

8:05am - We head out the door for school. Now that both kids are at the same school, we walk every day.

In general, our mornings go quite smooth. Somehow, even with all that, I usually manage to get a load of dishes started in the dishwasher, make some coffee and feed myself breakfast.

Honestly, I think the biggest things for us having a smooth morning are me already being ready, thus not rushing around at the same time as them, as well as keeping any decisions the kids make to a minimum. I almost always don't give them a choice for breakfast, just make something. And anything that I think will be a decision for them, we discuss the night before to get it out of the way.

On a side note, I remember thinking a few years ago a fellow mama was crazy for setting her alarm early to be up and ready before her kids. I valued sleep over everything and couldn't understand. Apparently I have changed and now value my personal hygiene a bit more!

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Summer Slow Cooker Recipes

I can't be the only person who looses all motivation for cooking once the outside temperature rises above 95 can I? I mean, who wants to heat their house up while the air conditioner is trying to cool it off? Not to mention standing over the hot, hot heat sweating while making dinner. Nope, not me. The thing is, I can only stand so much barbecuing before I get bored. All the food pretty much feels the same to me from a barbecue. There just isn't enough variety. So, I dusted off my old slow cooker and gave her a go. Don't you think that she was too dusty. After all, she gets used all winter long. I love me some soups and hearty meals in the winter. So her and I work together almost every day in the winter. But not so much in the summer. Anyway, I ended up making the most incredible meal and decided I needed to keep going for the forecast calls for days over 100 for a very long time yet. So, here's some inspiration for both you and I...though most these meals I've tried in the past and just forgotten about.

* broccoli beef - have you ever tried it over ramen noodles instead of rice? Yum!

* salsa verde chicken - hello tacos!

* balsamic roast beef - sure it's hearty, but it's good!

* spaghetti squash & meatballs - don't tell anyone, but I use premade meatballs, making this literally the easiest meal ever. And you feel healthy eating it because it's spaghetti squash! 

* apple bacon stuffed pork chops - I left out the walnuts, as I'm not a fan

* cilantro lime chicken tacos - because can one have too many taco nights in their life?!

* pulled pork - this is a healthy one, free of sugar. Pulled pork can literally be served any way you like - as a sandwich, as a taco, in a "lettuce boat", making it bread free. Anyway you like it, I love it topped with Frank's RedHot sauce.

And just in case you are looking for a refreshing side dish to change up those barbecue dinners a bit, this cucumber dill salad is amazing. 

If you have any healthy(ish) crock pot recipes you love, send them my way. I need to combat all my ice cream and otter pop eating ways with supposedly healthy dinners to make myself feel better ;)

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Little Moments Not to be Forgotten

// aftermath of breakfast //
// lightsaber wars //
// water //
// Callum & dad //
// Isla's first henna //
// happy boy outdoors //
// pool jump //
// sleepy boy //

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To Sum It Up

You know when you just need a weekend where you get stuff done? That's what we need AND what we are doing this weekend. After going, going, going for weeks, it's time to hunker down and check some things off our to do list.

Some things this week:

This is a good reminder that everything we see on social media isn't "real". I was particularly laughing about the picnic scenario.

I hardly ever buy myself new clothes (I am a thrift store girl myself), but couldn't pass up this dress. I mean, stripes AND pockets! Now to wait for it to arrive.

I don't really feel that the 90's was that long ago and that much has changed, but I still found this funny.

I want this pillow for our couch. Maybe as a subliminal message for the whole family.

Another reminder that as parents we need to be diligent about what our kids are doing on phones/electronics. And as a side note, I'm proud of this guy for sharing his story even though he knew people would attack him for "being a bad parent".

After a very stressful hour of my life (first world problems, I know), I managed to score us tickets to the museum of ice cream in San Francisco and am over the moon excited about to wait until our date in October!

Enjoy your weekend!

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Back to School Oil Recipes & Giveaway!!!

When I started using essential oils a couple years ago, I knew they were cool and I knew they were useful, but I wasn't sure how to use them. My husband wasn't on board with me "using them like an expensive candle" (i.e. diffusing them to make the house smell good) and it really does take time to naturally incorporate them into your life. But once they are there, I wonder how I would live without them, just the same as one would wonder how they would live without cold medicine when they have a cold. #justsayin 

Though I do diffuse oils in our house from time to time, it is generally always for a purpose, like a sickness or something. I also ingest oils and use them daily in homemade products like facial serum, hand soap and in our laundry. One of the ways I use oils on my kids is with roller bottle recipes. Roller bottle recipes are really essential oils that are mixed together and diluted with a carrier oil and can be directly applied to the skin. Many people like to put them on feet because they go directly into your system from there, but we aren't big sock people in our house, so we go for putting them on the spine. The following are two recipes that I particularly enjoy using during the school year with my kids. 

The immunity roller recipe is just as it sounds. It's meant to guard you from sickness. When I know there is a lot of sickness going around, I will use it on the kids two to three times a day - in the morning, after school and evening. 

The sleepy time roller recipe is one I like using on my kids. I generally try to put it on them at least half an hour before bedtime. I don't know if it necessarily helps with sleep, as my kids sleep through the night anyway, but I do feel like it helps calm them before bed. If you use Young Living essential oils, I also like making a roller bottle of peace and calm diluted to put on the kids. I do enjoy switching up what I use for sleep on my kids so they don't build up a tolerance for it. 

The kind people over at Got Oil Supplies have offered to give one reader a dozen roller bottles so you can make some essential oil recipes of your own! Entry is pretty simple. Just leave a comment on this post saying your favorite color of roller bottle that Got Oil Supplies carries - amber, blue, clear or purple...they even have different lid color options! I'm a purple fan myself! Then fill out your information in the rafflecopter below. It's that simple. The giveaway runs through Monday, August 28th. 

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Toddlers, man

The other day I was talking to a friend that has a kid just a couple days younger than Callum. We were discussing how full on toddlers are. How toddlers made babies seem like such a breeze. And it's so true. I know Callum started walking later than most, but it seemed like when he started walking, his little cheeky attitude came out too. Not to mention that the kid loves to climb. There is no table he won't scale. Like this scene above? He took advantage of me being distracted and climbed up on the table to finish Isla's snack. If anything, I mean anything, is on the dining room table, he will climb up there. And sometimes he will go up even if nothing is up there...just to crawl over to the other side. He gets on the table in the playroom and throws down anything within reach. Anything the kids left on the table, anything on the book ledge near by. Nothing is safe. The hysterical part is, when he gets caught and isn't done with his destruction, he puts his hands behind his back so you can't pick him up. It's quite ingenious and funny at the same time. 

Then there is his favorite form of communication, yelling. Or is it screeching?! Though I should admit, he is getting much better at actually answering yes or no to questions. And, will actually take your hand and drag you to whatever he wants. Usually this is popsicles. Popsicles day and night. And when I say no to a popsicle at 7am, he is none to pleased. His obsession with popsicles and the freezer made me remember that we had to put a lock on our last freezer when we had toddlers around. This one is much harder to open, so I am kind of hoping that by the time he gets the strength to open it, he will also have the self control to not help himself to whatever he wants 24 hours a day. 

Even with how busy he keeps me. Even when I wonder what he is trashing when I am over cleaning up his last mess. I become mush when he grabs my hand or lays his head on my shoulder. When he starts doing his adorable little toddler dancing. Or even when he just smiles at me. Maybe toddlers aren't so bad after long as I'm not on a plane with one! 

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Connor & Isla's Shared Room

Our house actually has four bedrooms, but one of those rooms is downstairs and for right now works great as a playroom, so everyone is upstairs together. When we first moved in, I put Connor in the larger room, assuming him and Callum would eventually share a bedroom. I was so excited with how both Connor and Isla's bedrooms turned out, though I never shared Isla's on the blog. But, after Callum sleeping horribly bunked up with Ian and I, I got a wild hair and while the kids were at school one day, moved Isla in with Connor. The transition with the two of them sharing a room actually went quite well. Me settling on how I wanted the room to be, not so much. 

This is actually the FOURTH way the kids beds have been arranged since sharing a room. But, I like this way the best so far and it's working really well. They are opposite of each other. Isla can see into the hall, which really helps her at night. And, this allows for both of them to sort of have their own little spot. 

Most of the stuff in their room has been repurposed from other parts of our house. I tend to rearrange things in our house a lot. For instance, the quilt on Connor's bed used to be on his bed a while ago and made a comeback with me wanting to simplify their room a bit...which that quilt is a Pottery Barn Kids one that I scored for $5 one time. Yep, totally bragging about that one. And the bookshelf above Isla's bed used to be a shelf in Connor's nursery way back in the day...then was in Isla's room for a while. And the night stand was originally for Isla's nursery, then went into Connor's room, then went away and is now back. I could go on and on, but you get the picture. 

^^ My apologies for the bed being slightly off center. I promise I will fix it!

^^ The little hobbit door goes to our attic. We don't actually have anything in there. I have big plans of us one day pushing that wall back several feet and making this room much bigger. Who needs an attic anyway when you also have a storage basement and a full attic over your back house?! Our house has crazy amounts of (mostly unused) storage.

^^ My parents actually bought these lockers. But I saw them and wanted them. The kids were super excited about them too.

Believe it or not, I actually took a lot out of the kids rooms in the last rearrange. Even though most of their toys are in the playroom, they each still had a bin of toys in here that I took out. It helps keep things cleaner. But even with just books, stuffed animals and pokemon cards (don't get me started on the pokemon cards!), they can do a lot of damage quickly.

I am really happy with how it turned out. And they seem to be too...and that's what really matters. This makes me think I probably should do an updated living room post at some point too, given that I have rearranged in there a couple times since moving in too...seriously, rearranging is kind of my hobby.

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The First Day of School

I can kind of hardly believe it's been three years since my kids were last at the same school and had the same start date. But, now that Isla is in elementary school, they will be together again for the next several years. Yesterday was the beginning of the school year, second grade for Connor and kindergarten for Isla. 

For the third year in a row, Connor chose to wear a school shirt the first day of school. He wasn't nervous about the first day of school. He was excited to see some friends he hadn't seen all summer. After I got Isla from kindergarten, Connor's class was going to lunch just as we were walking by, so we yelled at him and waved. He waved back, so isn't too cool for his mom and sister yet...that's a good thing.  

^^ In full disclosure, when I asked Connor what he wanted to be when he grew up, he said "I don't know". I told him to just pick something and flight attendant is what he came up with...actually, he said "the person that gives you drinks on an airplane".

Isla seemed unfazed about starting kindergarten. Then again, she watched Connor go through it with the exact same teachers. But, the morning of school, she said she was nervous that there wouldn't be enough craft time. 

^^ These were Isla's top three choices as she said she wanted to be "a lot of things" so I told her to give me her top three. 

The first morning of school, the parents line the main hall and all the kids walk through for high fives. Ian went in the hall and I stayed outside with Callum. Connor walked through, but Isla didn't want to. We met Ian and Connor on the other side and walked Connor to his classroom, then watched him run off to the playground before walking Isla to her playground/classroom. After we watched Isla play for a bit, we left.

^^ On our way out, we waved at Connor going in his classroom for the first time. His class is right beside a side fence. 

It was a good day. One that apparently tired the kids out and helped all three of them fall asleep easy last night. 

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The Beginning of Ballet: Year Three

My idea of how I would like Isla to pose for first day of ballet photos:

And her idea:

I honesty have not idea where these sassy poses come from. Trust me when I say I am not taking duck face selfies all day ;) Are they just ingrained in girls?! But this next one was her natural way to pose and she looks adorable. 

It's funny how the longer a kid does something, the less fanfare that goes along with it. Maybe it's just everyone being used to it and knowing what to expect? Or already having the gear on hand? I just remember it being such a big deal when Isla started ballet...and it was (and still is) overflowing with cuteness. Isla began her third year of ballet this past week. This time, the class is longer and tap is added in as well. Isla enjoyed her first class back. She doesn't have any of the girls from her class last year with her, but does have two girls from her first year back with her, so there were a couple familiar faces. And Callum, he is going to have to get used to the routine of ballet again because all he wanted to do was run away from me and play in the drinking fountain...oh and throw every toy I brought for him to play with. 

In case you care, some ballet adorableness of Isla over the years - her first little course with friends, the beginning of the year - fall 2015 (when she also had an idea how she wanted her photo to be), recital 2016, the beginning of the year - fall 2016 and recital 2017

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To Sum it Up

^^ Every time Callum wears this shirt, someone thinks he is a girl...yesterday it was a mom at ballet.

We get to find out the kids teachers today, they start school on Monday. Ian and I have a date planned for this weekend are are going to take a trip to Ikea for some little decor items for the house...and I am sure a house plant or two will come home with us at the same time. Other than that, it's a chill weekend before the school schedule once again begins. 

Some things this week:

A guy in our neighborhood that has three kids and is in his 30's died this week and it hit close to home. A day later, I saw this article and found it to be a good one about what I would want my kids to know if I died young. 

I really, really, really want to score tickets to the Museum of Ice Cream when it is in San Francisco in September. 

I am wanting to add more family photos to our house and this is my inspiration for one wall. 

Speaking of that, where do you get your photo books? I usually use shutterfly, but am thinking of trying out this deal

I knew I wasn't crazy for watching the same shows over and over! It's Friends and How I Met Your Mother for me. How about for you?

That's all I've got. Go forth and have a great weekend!

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Our Backyard Progress

We met with a concrete guy about our backyard in April to get a quote. We liked the quote, but they were so backlogged that they didn't start until the very end of June. So, the timing of this project wasn't exactly the best, happening in the height of summer. But now that our backyard is usable again, it was totally worth it. We are redoing our backyard "ourselves"...basically had someone rip it out and put in the concrete we wanted, but still have a bunch more we are doing on our own. 

Here is what we started with:

The placement of the pool isn't the best, being right by the house, but we are working with what we have ;) The week before the concrete people came to start, I decided I wanted to add concrete squares in the back to go around our seating/dining area that will eventually be covered. We designed our backyard ourselves and tore out most the plants because we wanted something we will realistically maintain. You can't tell from this picture, but the entire back of the backyard had a grey concrete slab that housed a pool house, which was torn down before we bought the house. Also, there was a electrical box for the pool light sticking up about 6 inches out of the ground between the two chairs on the far end of the pool. I only mention this because getting rid of it became a pain in the butt...but a pain I am oh-so-glad we dealt with. 


^^ We went out and spray painted our plan the night before work began. You should know I am horrible at painting straight lines, so it was a good thing these guys were professionals and made it look great in the end. 

^^ I was literally peeing my pants when they were jackhammering right next to the pool. I kept thinking of all that could go wrong and what a disaster it would be. Alas, all was good. 

^^ Our backyard got stuck in this state for a couple weeks. That annoying pool light box (which you can see sticking out of the dirt straight behind the pool light) I mentioned earlier caused quite the snafu. Our pool still had the original light and electrical wire, so the electrician recommended replacing that and also updating the way it was hooked up to the house (new code rules these days). But we discovered that standard pool lights come with a 30 foot wire and we needed 60 feet. So, we had to wait to order it. Then we had to partially drain the pool to install it. Blah, blah, blah. But, we not no longer have a tripping hazard (and eye sore) sticking out of the ground, so that's good. 

Finished concrete:

^^ Since I failed to mention this earlier, over on the right of this picture is our back house. Before having the concrete poured, we installed a french door, allowing much more natural light in the back house and also making a larger step into the back house when the concrete was poured. 

^^ The rectangle slab in the back of the yard will eventually have some sort of structure over it, but that is a year or two down the road. It will also have a table for us to eat at. The dirt spot on the left will eventually have (fake) grass on it to play on. 

Here are some things we still have left to do:

* Clean out and level the planters
* Paint the fence. We are thinking some sort of grey...our favorite color, haha!
* Run a drip system for plants and electrical system for uplighting in the planters. 
* Plant drought tolerant and low maintenance plants in the planters every couple feet. 
* Fill in the planters and in between the square concrete with rock. 
* Build a fence (think a half fence) around the grass area. 
* Put in fake grass in the grass area.

Father down the road, we would like to build a structure over the eating area that would also have electricity in it...we loved our outdoor fans at our last house! We would also like to string outdoor lights across the backyard. Also, we would like to add several inches of horizontal wood to the top of our fence, giving us more privacy and making it feel a little more modern. But this is where we are for today. 

The progress of the backyard already makes me smile so much. It isn't overgrown anymore. All the concrete matches. Oh, and we widended the steps going into our house and it makes me smile every time I open the door that there is no longer a drop off right there on the side. It's the little things, right?!

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