Friday, April 28, 2017

Friday. (weekly round-up)

  Hi, Friday! I really do love the weekends, especially when they're pretty wide open and free of plans. I have a few things I want to get away and work on (did you see my goals for May?) and it's just always easier to break away from the house/kids over the weekend. I'm also thinking of sending Caleb and Justin out on a date because that kid has been painfully attached to me lately. It would be so good for him to have a fun adventure without me. Plus it would give me some one-on-one time with Tyler! If you have more than one kid, do you do intentional dates with each parent? As the boys get a bit older I am already seeing how that could be great to implement on a somewhat consistent basis!

   Enough rambling- here's what I'm loving around the internets this week (and two free things for you because evidently I'm into free things this week!):

// I made these churro cupcakes for our Mexican themed cooking club this week and the were pretty good. The best part? They involved a box mix which meant they felt homemade, but with half the work!

// Did you know that this coming Tuesday (May 2nd) is Teacher Appreciation day? I didn't realize until today! If you need a last minute gift, I'm pretty sure everyone loves a good gift card (and I can send you a super cute printable to toss in a fun card!) Even if you don't need a gift next week, its the perfect time to start thinking of end-of-the-year gift ideas- these are some of my favorites under $40.

// I think I've mentioned this before, but it you want something short but really fun/interesting to listen to when you're in the car, this is my current favorite podcast! I would start with the Patagonia episode.

// My 1SE app reminded me to shoot videos the correct way on my phone and sent a link to this hilarious youtube video about it.

// I just ordered my first week of Hello Fresh and my excitement is borderline embarrassing. Have you tried it? Justin is a picky eater but I found some meals he's going to love! (ps. get your first week basically for free with this coupon)

// I'm probably really, really late to this but a friend told me about GrooveBooks this week and I'M HOOKED. For $3/month you simply upload up to 100 photos from your phone to the easy app and they send you a photo book EVERY SINGLE MONTH. I love that the photos come in book form but  are also perforated so you can easily take some out to scrapbook, frame or share. I like this idea for myself to help me consistently get photos off my phone. But it also makes a great Mother's Day/grandparent gift idea to help them get monthly photos for a really, really affordable price. (I got my first book for free because my friend gave me a code. If you want a free one just use code RUSH1984 after you download the app) Ps. If you want a bit higher quality photo printing/gift option, mPix is my most favorite!!

// I was one a big reading kick for a few months and unintentionally took a break for April. Now I'm having the hardest time picking up a book again, so I think I'm going to ease back in with the last in this series (super light, fast reads!).

// When I was working on my goals earlier this week, I kept thinking of this quote. So good.

Happy weekending!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Goals. (May)

 Once upon a time I used to make (and blog about) monthly goals. Then I had two kids under two and nope. Keeping everyone alive and happy and loving Jesus seemed like enough for a good stretch! I mentioned it here, but it seems as if we're entering a sweet spot with the boys. Both are at an age where we can interact so much more with them and truly do things together (less baby naps!). With this new phase and just the warmer weather, I'm feeling all sorts of motivated to get back into real goal setting. Let's do this! (No? Just me? Blogging is weird because you're basically just having a conversation with yourself 😊)

  I set some broader goals in January (here) and they've been going really well! Each one lines up with my word for the year (steady) and I think I want to continue that theme with these smaller, monthly goals. Essentially, I've been working for the past year or so at just developing healthier habits overall and I want to use these goals to keep building on them. I like consistency, so I'm going to try sticking with three areas each month; self, family, community.

(Here is my counselor tip if you're setting goals for yourself! Research (lots and lots and lots of it) has shown the the most successful goals are one that are measurable, attainable, positive, and specific. Basically, be realistic with yourself and have a way to measure progress and make your goal positive (not something like lose weight or have less clutter- change it to

Here's what I'll be working on in May:

Run/Walk with the boys 3x/week. It's nicer out in the mornings and my boys are early risers, so its about time we get back in the groove of our morning walks. I have a bigger goal of running a 10k this year, so this little one will help me reach that. Bonus: I took a tip from Val and have started using this time to pray through my prayer journal and guys, its a game changer. Try it!

Summer bucket list and a day date. Two things that should be easy to cross off! I made a summer bucket list last year and it was great to work through. I want to do the same with Justin and the boys this year! For a date this month, I want to do something during the day because when we go out in the evenings we are both just so tired. Hoping I can get creative with this one and Caleb gets over his painfully sad "I need my mommy" phase for the sitter/anyone not me!

Plan Playdate with a Purpose. I'm hoping to host a bunch of moms and kiddos this summer to help our kiddos learn about serving others and I need to firm up all the details this month if its going to really happen! (If you're in the Indy area and want to join us this summer for a fun toddler service project, email me!!) 

and one more because I just decided I should really include more of a 'housekeeping' goal each month...

Organize file cabinet. Pretty straightforward. I need to label all of our file folders and move everything from our command center in the kitchen into the folders! Super exciting.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

$20 sandbox.

 I posted a picture of my kiddos playing in our little sandbox last week and immediately had a dozen messages with questions about it. I am absolutely not the first person to think of this, but it's too good of a life hack to not share!

  While we lived in the limbo of moving/not moving/moving last summer, I felt ANTSY. The backyard at our old house wasn't awesome for a toddler and I didn't feel great about letting Caleb play in it. I also didn't want to spend money on a solution or find ways for it work for us because I knew/hoped we'd be moving soon. Enter the budget sandbox!

  I actually stumbled on the idea of a DIY water table and set out to make one. While shopping for a plastic container to serve as the table, I decided to buy two so that I could fill one with water and other with sand- then swap them out whenever we wanted. I built a frame to hold the boxes- but it was super jank and it didn't make the move with us.

Look at those chunky legs and that baby face!!
  This truly is one of the boys' favorite outdoor toys, only tied with the playset the previous homeowners left behind. I usually keep it in the garage most often and pull it out to the driveway in the evenings while we kill time waiting for Justin to get home from work. Tyler is old enough this year to play and he loves it too! I moved it to the backyard last week and its been fun to see how long it truly does hold their attention.

  Funny enough, my parents actually gifted Caleb this real full-scale sandbox for his birthday last year, but we never got around to putting it together with the late summer move. I finally did this weekend and the boys LOVE it. (if you're in the market for a nice sandbox, I recommend this one! Affordable as bigger grandparent gift, crazy easy to put together and just the right size) We've already logged a few hours in it and filled two diapers with sand (tyler). Even with the new, big sandbox- we'll keep our little one around! Like I said, its perfect for storing in the garage and pulling out when we're waiting for Justin, doing yardwork, etc.

  Anyways, you don't care about any of that. Want to make your own budget sandbox? If you have $20 and time to run to Walmart, this 'project' is for you. (you can't see, but I'm using air quotes and laughing as I type that because this is the least project-y project you could ever do. Ready?

  First, buy a storage container. Next, buy some play sand. Finally, pour the sand into said container. You're done! 😂 But seriously, if you want the exact details of ours (its big enough for two kiddos to easily play but still small enough to store and move around easily):

-I used this exact container. It's $9.59 at Target but I'm almost positive I bought it for cheaper at Wal-mart. The size is great and having a lid is key! We actually left it outside most of winter and the sand stayed dry and the container is still in perfect shape.

- I believe I bought 3-4 bags of play sand from Wal-mart. They're $2.78/bag which is incredibly affordable. A note about sand: Justin found SUPER cheap ($1.99/bag) sand at Menards and we used that to fill our bigger, permanent outdoor sandbox. Even still, I would recommend the slightly more expensive play sand I linked above because it's nicer. A bit more clean, no big rocks, and better for a box you want to keep and use indoors/driveways/on patios. The cheaper sand is just that, cheaper. Its perfect for a sandbox that will be rained on and survive the winter, but probably not for a nicer box that will have a lid and doesn't literally sit on the ground with grass and bugs.

- The boys have somehow accumulated a ton of sand toys over time (mostly as little gifts from grandparents!) but I also randomly found a fun sand/water funnel/wheel at Nordstrom Rack last summer. Super random, I know. (here's the exact one) The dollar store, Target's dollar spot, and amazon are other great places for inexpensive sand toys. Last year Caleb loved simply hiding rocks, pinecones, and sticks in the sandbox and then digging for them, so don't overthink the toys! (I like this little set from Amazon a lot)

Monday, April 24, 2017

Easter. (2017)

  Ten years ago, I would have guaranteed you that I would be living in another state (likely along the coast) or another country altogether by 2017. Oh how my ten-year-ago self would be surprised by my life now. Though I do still really have dreams of moving closer to the water one day! Instead, I'm still here in my home state and really only 45 minutes from my hometown. Even more, I'm only a little over a mile from one of my sisters and just across town for the other. Not at all what I would have predicted, but a really sweet surprise in life.

  Living close to my family has its perks and it seems as if those are only highlighted now that we all have kids of our own (six, going on seven, cousins!). Those cousins love love love each other and it is fun to see them developing little friendships and memories. We try to spend lots of time together in normal life, but holidays are always an extra fun excuse to get together. Easter was no exception this year! (We missed my oldest sister and her kiddos, but we were able to see her for lunch this week so Caleb was excited to have her all to himself!!)

  Highlights from Easter this year (so I can add to the boys' Project Life books!): Tyler being old enough to join the egg hunt, Caleb's solid love for his Uncle Adam, my mom's yummy spread, Caleb's new microphone, continuing the 'cousins on the couch' photo, every kid playing with the big cat toy instead of the bagillion toys in the playroom, Leo's sweet attachment to the first thing he found in his Easter basket, Mia's domination of the egg hunt, and just seeing everyone together 😊

hashtag REAL LIFE

Friday, April 21, 2017

Friday. (a weekly round-up)

We are the classiest family in our neighborhood, hands down. 
  Hey hey, Friday! This week seems to have flown by. We've basically been living outside since the rain has held off all week and I'll be a bit sad when we have to head back in the next few days to avoid the cold/wet weather. But I have big plans to clean out my van because it is SO SO DIRTY INSIDE. That statement deserved all caps because I really can't convey how awful the situation is in any other way. Perhaps I'll take it to one of those full-service places that detail cars? It seems like it could be necessary. How did I get on the topic of my gross van situation? The weekend. I don't know what you're up to, but I hope it involves fun and rest and some people you love lots! Here are some of my favorites from around the internets this week:

// Love this independent story about Noonday's very first artisans.

// My kids are really obsessed with these hip hop toddler songs after my sister showed them to us.

// Made one of my all time favorite (and least sophisticated) desserts a few weeks ago and am wracking my brain for an excuse to have it again soon.

// This is just really, really hilarious.

// I stumbled on this blog a few weeks ago while working on content for my part-time job. The cute couple behind it have created the most lovely home! I want to pin everything because her style is exactly what I have in my head for our house.

// Mother's Day is only three weeks away! Here are some of my favorite gift ideas this year.

Happy weekending!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


(sign from Target)

  Four years ago, I was still reeling from our miscarriage and coming up on a year of trying to conceive again. It was a weird time- I felt a bit aimless in lots of ways (at work, building our family, finding community around us, etc). I stumbled on this quote by Henri Nouwen: 

"Still, nothing happens automatically in the spiritual life. Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day. It is a choice based on the knowledge that we belong to God and have found in God our refuge and our safety and that nothing, not even death, can take God away from us."

  And for four years, this quote and the idea that joy is a choice has stuck with me. I'm prone to clinging to quotes or ideas or simply things that encourage when I find myself in harder seasons, but forgetting them later. That hasn't been the case with this. It is safe to say that choosing joy has become a habit for me. 

  And I really do mean a habit. Joy does not come easily (Nouwen acknowledges that!), but after time it is easy to see how essential it is to having a sweet life and relationship with Jesus. Also being ok with the tension of choosing joy and being sad. Choosing joy and being confused. Choosing joy and being angry. Some days it feels more natural than others- the sun is literally shining, my kids are being sweet, and I'm confident in all of my relationships. Either way, I've learned that joy is, in fact, a choice. Maybe even a spiritual discipline? I'm not theologian, but I would argue it is. 

  Here are some of the ways I literally practice the discipline of choosing joy:

thankful journal// hands down, this is the most effective way that I cultivate joy. Taking time every day to write down 3 things I am thankful for is a game changer. And in all honesty, I lost my prayer journal a few months ago and haven't replaced it yet. So before falling asleep every night, I simply take mental note of my thankfuls and give God thanks instead! Try this for one month straight and you'll be amazed how your heart/attitude/outlook changes. 

creating an intentional home// Obviously we're all aware of the minimalist trend and the gagillion options for cute prints/signs to hang around your home. I'm a fan! Clutter is clutter. I purposefully have some plants around my house- they make me smile and truly make me happy to water, prune, and watch grow. I also hang our favorite photos (weddings, family vacations, snuggly newborns, dating days, etc) and words that remind me where my hope lies. What makes you smile or reminds you that joy is a choice? Put more of those things around your home! Tape reminders on your bathroom mirror or next to where you do dishes- whatever works.

using words// A couple years ago I saw a group of older ladies encouraging each other well. They had been friends for decades and each took time to affirm one another. They stopped what they were doing (whatever it was) and just said true things they noticed or appreciated about the other. How life giving! After that, I've worked to make sending notes of encouragement/thankfulness in the mail, texts, or engaging in conversations with friends/family a habit. Instead of just thinking to myself "So-and-so is great at such-and-such" or "Gosh, I'm glad so-and-so is one of my closest friends", I've started to actually tell them. For instance, my friend Kate has a knack for listening really well and making you feel heard and loved so I try to tell her how much I value that. My mom is forever doing really thoughtful things for myself and my kiddos (like watching our boys for a week while we went on a trip!) and I try to tell her that I really, truly appreciate it. My friend Meg has this great way of working Christ into all of our conversations in the sweetest ways, so I try to let her know how important that is to me. 

physical touch// Hugs are my favorite and they make hard things slightly less hard/isolating/heavy and great things even better/more fun. 

giving gifts// Paying for the person behind me at Starbucks (someone did this for me yesterday!), making cookies and leaving them in a friend's mailbox, or just buying something at Target because it reminded me of someone and gifting it to them- really simple things that probably bless another person, but also bring me joy and point me back to Jesus.

  All that to say, I'm still working on this. I want to be 80 and still choosing joy. I also want to teach my kids about it- how it doesn't come easily but is so worth working on. Joy is one of God's sweetest, most generous gifts to us! How do you do it? What are some practical ways you work this out?

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Mother's Day ideas.

  Have any idea what you're gifting the moms in your life this Mother's Day? It's such a fun chance to bless any mom you know. Your mom, a mom friend, your sister who is a mom, or just a woman in your life who has loved you well. I put together some fun Noonday Collection bundles at a discount for everyone who wants to gift accessories this Mother's Day, but also wanted to round up some of my other favorite gifts to give! Scroll to the bottom of the post to see the Noonday deals 😊

Noonday Collection// Want to gift a curated set of accessories that have been handmade by and support other mother's around the globe at the very same time? I'm offering lots of fun ones at a discount! You can find them all at the bottom of this post- be sure to shoot me an email (katie DOT n DOT to get your order in before the May 1st shipping cut off.

prayer journal// I tell everyone about these pretty and functional journals. An amazing gift for any mom or girlfriend in your life

jones market print// On a budget? These little prints are adorable! Just pop on in a simple frame, pair with some yummy chocolates, and you have the sweetest gift for sisters, moms, friends, etc. 

flowers// I'm a sucker for fresh blooms. Potted plants, bud vases, or even delivered bouquets just make everyone smile! I especially love to use Bouqs when I'm sending flowers- they're affordable but also just really, really pretty flowers. 

write a note// I've literally never heard of someone disliking a handwritten note. Write a sweet note to the moms in your life this year! 

photo book// I've started a little tradition of gifting Justin an accordion mini every Father's day and I love that they are compact and uniform. They don't take up much space and they are great to collect over the years. Photo printing sites have a gagillion options these days for compiling photos into big, small, hard or soft cover, predesigned or even custom books. They are also pretty inexpensive! Photo books are an especially great idea for grandparents!

handmade art// Just about every mom/grandma loves handmade art from their kiddos and a simple google search will give you lots of ideas!

custom art// This is one of my favorites on the list! How cute is that heart photo collage? Bonus: it's really well done. (and others sites, I'm sure!) have a ton of ideas for creating professional quality gifts with a personal touch. They'll even mat/frame it for you!

pampering/girls dinner// Head to the spa, a movie, or just a fun local Mother's Day brunch. Most cities put on special events just for this occasion and they are (in my experience!) always worth the price to be served and pampered and celebrate!

cooking class// We booked a cooking class for my mom's 60th birthday this past December and it was so much fun. As in, I can't stop talking about it. If you're in the Indy area, I love this place. Most major cities have similar options and they are hands down one of the most fun things I've ever done with my mom and sisters! Not into cooking? You could try a Board & Brush class!

(Interested in a Mother's Day bundle? Email me to snag one today!)