Monday, August 14, 2017

Best loved. (kid stuff)

With a 3 and 1.5 year old, I'm by no means an expert at kid gear. But we've found a handful of things lately that we just really love, so I thought I'd share them. Plus, I got lots of questions when I posted my new diaper bag on instagram last weekend- so I'm linking that below :)

Diaper backpack (in Grey-2 option). I've been wanting a backpack for several months and a few weeks ago I finally found one I love/could afford. After lots (too much, probably!) of research and reading reviews on Amazon, I bought this baby AND. I. LOVE. IT. Justin's been laughing at me since it arrived because I talk about it a lot. I ordered the 'Grey-2' option, which is different than the others because while it is a backpack, the main compartment has a smaller zipper flap that doesn't zip from side to side (which would make stuff fall out!). It stands on its own no matter how full it is, has a fun pocket just for wipes, and also has an accessible pocket on the back for convenience. Bonus: Justin doesn't feel silly carrying it around, and it was inexpensive! Only $36.99. I found a small stitching defect a few days into using it and (even though it doesn't impact the function or anything) I contacted the Amazon seller and they're sending me a brand new one! If you're in the market for a good diaper backpack that doesn't break the bank, I totally recommend this one. (It's made by a brand I've never heard of, but I read TONS of reviews and it is highly rated and compares well to others in higher price points.)

Aldi snacks. Ok, so these aren't kid specific and you can find snacks anywhere. But I find that most products are the same quality at Aldi as bigger grocery chains, but for a fraction of the price. I'm loving the applesauce/fruit blend pouches and freeze dried fruits righter now. My kids are snackers and we try to have healthier options- especially when we're on the go. I like that these are organic, inexpensive, and tasty! My boys LOVE freeze dried apples and since they're so inexpensive, we usually go through a bag or two each day. Add to that the cinnamon apple straws and veggie chips, and our pantry is stocked for the week!

Beach/bath towels. I have mentioned these a dozen times before, but I honestly love them. Just added a couple more to my cart to stock up on for the boys! We use them at the pool, but also daily for baths at home. They hold up incredibly well, are thick, and the boys love the cozy hood!

Divided plates. I fully embrace kid-friendly, colorful dishes and these are hands down my favorite. They seem to hold up better than our other Ikea and Target kid plates. They're made from recycled milk jugs and you can find them at Wal-mart. Bonus- they're microwaveable! I like that they are small enough to fit on our highchair trays and big enough to have three separate compartments. The same company makes flatware and cups, too!

Laurie Bernker Band. Ok, let me preface by saying these music videos are cheesy. Aren't all kid songs? But my boys love love love them, especially the Dinosaur and Goldfish songs. We dance to them daily!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Weekly Top 5 | v.2

  Happy Friday! All of the schools around us have started back up again and this week seemed like a treat with all of our favorite parks and museums less crowded. A perk of not having school-aged kiddos! We went to the zoo, splash pad, and children's museum and each was crowd-free and perfect for letting Tyler out of the stroller to explore (read:be wild) more than usual.

  I have been saying this for the last month, it seems, but I really want to get some smaller house projects tackled this weekend. Tiny things that have been on my list for month like staining some wood for our chalkboard frame, painting some thrifted chairs, etc. Crossing my fingers I actually make it happen! Other than that, we're also going on a date night and heading to a new church with some friends for fun.

Here's some weekend reading for you:

1. Slow cooker pulled pork. Some changes at work mean that Justin is home for supper more often, so we buckled down on meal planning this week. This is a new family favorite!

2. Perpetual meal list. Speaking of buckling down on meal planning, this worksheet is my new bff. I'm forever drawing blanks when thinking of meals to make so this is helping me have a cheat sheet to use. (I'm keeping it in my Home Base Binder)

3. Young house love. My new favorite podcast! This one is short and lighthearted and always leaves me motivated to tackle something big or small around our house. I especially like that it feels as if you're just sitting down for a quick, funny chat with friends.

4. Half marathon training/fitness blender. I'm a few weeks into my half marathon training and these are the two things keeping me on track. This was the best/most realistic training schedule I found. It has a great mix of short/easy runs and cross training. I actually don't love doing living room workout videos, but in a pinch these short (FREE!) workout videos are great. There are a ton to choose from and they are super straightforward and I can play my own background music. 

5. Back to school photo. I don't have any kids heading back to school, but this is HILARIOUS.

Happy weekending!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Caleb-isms. v.|1

  I'm kicking myself for only just now doing this, but I created a note on my phone that I update with the hilarious things Caleb says. It. Is. The. Best. I've only being doing it for a few weeks, but I love all the things I've already recorded. If you have a toddler, you need to do this! I like the idea of writing things down in a cute baby book or whatever, but having them on my phone is so much more practical. Then, if I want to transfer them over into a real memory book one day, I still can. In the meantime, I'm not missing them when they happen. Yay for iPhones!  (Actually, I use the 'notes' on my phone for organizing lots of things!)

  This stage is lots of fun (I say that about every stage, right?). I love being able to have full conversations with Caleb and being surprised by the hilarious things he picks up on and repeats back to us! Here are some of my favorites from the last week-

one night after being put to bed and drinking some water, he called me back into his room. Mommy! There's water in there? (pointing to his belly) Jesus in there? He's swimming! Jesus is swimming in my belly! (we can't quite get him to understand the difference between his heart and stomach)

while riding in the car and Tyler has been screaming 'MAMA' for no real reason. Ty-wer! Don't cry! Mommy's right there. She's right there. Don't cry! Mom, tell Ty-wer to stop crying.

waking up the morning after we had a fire and roasted marshmallows the night before. Oh no! Sun, you go down! Time for a fire and roast marshmallows! Go away sun!

driving to church on an overcast morning. We don't have much time! The storm is coming! Daddy, drive so much faster!

after taking a potty break and not needing to poop. My booty doesn't work today. We try again tomorrow, right mommy?

Monday, August 7, 2017

Reading Through The Bible.


I know I've talked about this (here, here, and here), but I've been reading through the Bible in a year. I love it and am sort of a walking advertisement to all of my friends about it. I explain more about why I think its so great and important and bears lots of fruit in this post. But today I just wanted to check in!

  I'm 219 days into my reading plan this year. I chose the free chronological plan on the Bible iPhone app (I like it because it builds in a grace day each week!). This is my first time reading chronologically, and I do love it and how I get a better narrative of the story woven through the entire Bible. Here are my biggest takeaways so far this year:

Being able to use my phone is a good thing. Sometimes, I can become hung up on the importance of holding my physical Bible. It always just seems better to me and it somehow seems less genuine to read the Bible on my phone and I know that's silly. I've really tried to let go of that this time around and to embrace reading on my phone if I need to. For example, I didn't take my big Bible on vacation with us and instead used the Bible app on my phone!

Doing it with a friends is awesome. My friend Meg is also doing the same plan and, while we aren't formally doing it together, it has been nice to have accountability. Sometimes we'll chat about where we are of if we're a bit behind or what a big takeaway from a recent reading is. I can't really put into words how encouraging it is to just know you're in it together!

Small seeds planted in faith can increase abundantly. I've shared this quote a dozen times, but I never feel its more applicable than with consistently reading through the Bible. Lots of days feel monotonous or just odd (hi, Leviticus!), but in the whole, it adds up to so much! It's easy to see how roots and wisdom have grown for me in the last 7 months!

Reading chronologically has been great for identifying and understanding the whole story that the Bible tells- instead of only single books of Bible I'm able to connect the dots and really start to understand how it is all one seamless story. Even more, I'm noticing how a few years of reading through the Bible means that Scripture really is starting to take deeper and deeper roots in my heart and mind.

This one might come as a surprise. While I love making a commitment to reading through the Bible, I have decided not to do it again next year. I know, I'm the biggest advocate for doing this (and doing it more than once!). But my biggest takeaway the past 8 months is that I want to be able to sit more in one passage or book of Scripture. So in January I'll be using this journal and the concepts laid out in this book. I want to pick a few portions of Scripture and study deeper and I'm super excited to start in a few months. Until then, I'll keep trucking through the Bible chronologically.

All in all, I know that I'll never have it all figured out or know all there is to know when it comes to my faith. If anything, the more I learn and study, the more I realize I don't know! But the daily habit of sitting down and being with Jesus and studying the Bible is quite literally life changing. The best place to start is to just start!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Good List. v.|1

  This is it! The first ever Good List! I'm so excited for this new blog series. If you know me or having been following my blog for any amount of time, you know that I love good things. By this, I mean things that do good, are good, inspire good. (Keep reading to see how you can win yourself a free goodie from this month's list!)

  This week, I'm sharing my favorite 5 things from Noonday's Fall line. Do I even need to tell you why they make the good list? In fact, Noonday Collection is the first thing that ever made me stop and think and really start to value socially conscious companies. I discovered it in 2012 through Tara and Paige and fell in love immediately. The mission, the partnerships with artisans, the conversations it initiates, the families it supports- all of it is rooted in good and I just believe in it. (So much so that I became an Ambassador!)

  Every piece from Noonday does good- it employs artisans around the world in vulnerable communities and helps them rise from poverty or simply earn a dignified living (read more about it all here). Noonday inspires good by giving money regularly to help support adoptions! We work with 4431 artisans around the globe- helping to provide full-time sustainable employment and healthy working conditions! Over 1621 adoptions have been funded in part by Noonday! That's SO MUCH GOOD STUFF. And it all happens because of people like you opening your homes for good. And from wearing cool jewelry and saying 'you know what? I've got a few bucks and I'm going to go spend it on Noonday!

  So, without further adieu, here are my 5 favorite good things from the Fall line!

Birds of a Feather earrings (Haiti) These earrings are everything. That sounds dramatic, I know. But seriously. Lightweight, super unique and beautiful, go with everything, make a statement (but not too much!), are inexpensive ($32!), and they're made in Haiti. The country has always had a special place in my heart and I find myself extra loving everything from our artisans there!

Rose gold Druzy studs (India) Classy and timeless- these are a jewelry box staple. Our artisan partners in India are earning dignified wages in a country marked by the painful caste system- I love the story Noonday is helping them tell!

Soar necklace (Vietnam) So pretty and perfect for Fall. Its made of Mother of Pearl, which makes it just plain pretty! And there's a fun little tassel on the clasp! Even better? Noonday's sales provide full-time employment for 180 families. Purchasing this necklace (and other pieces made by our Vietnamese artisan partners) literally creates income for nearly 200 families on the other side of the globe!

Haitian leather tassel (Haiti) One of my personal favorites from the Fall line! Maybe that's silly? But I love that it's a little bold (electric blue!) and still classy (leather). I keep it on my Rustic Leather Tote (my current diaper bag) and it just pops it up a notch! And again, I love everything from our Haitian artisan partners- there stories are amazing and everything they make is๐Ÿ‘Œ

Wildflower clutch (Peru) Ok, so this is exactly a brand new item. But I've been eying and finally bought it for myself. IT'S AMAZING. I get compliments on it every time I've used it, its super well made and durable, and its simply gorgeous. I basically look for any occasion to swap out my diaper bag for a girls' night out to be able to use it. And its handmade in Peru!

  There you have it- v.|1 of The Good List. Everything on the list is good- they are all helping to support vulnerable communities around the globe and, when you buy them, they initiate good conversations! I cannot even count up the number of times someone has commented on my necklace or purse and I've been able to share with them the idea of shopping with a purpose and being mindful of how we personally can help change the world. Noonday Collection is a company that is doing good stuff, selling good stuff, and inspire all of us to do good too!

  And, as a fun extra- I'll be giving away something from each volume of The Good List. Sign up here to receive The Good List Newsletter and you're automatically entered!

  Check back next month for the next volume of The Good List! It won't always (or even often!) be a list of products to buy, so don't worry. We'll talk about lots of other good things, people, habits, and more. I promise you'll love it. And if you have an idea for The Good List- let me know!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Our new(ish) house.

  We've officially been in our new house for a year, so it seemed like a good time to finally do a tour. I realize I talk about our house a lot (too much?) but have never done a full tour. So today's the day! Before that, let's do a check-in on where we are a year after moving in...

   We still love this home. (We're pretty open-handed about it and know that it is just a house, I feel as if I should lead with that before I dive in to our favorite things about it!) I could gush on and on with all the reasons we love it so much, but here are the highlights:
  • Our new neighborhood is super friendly! We are working about being more intentional with neighbors and love actually getting to know the people that live on our street and next door.
  • We have great space for hosting and inviting others over- a finished basement for kids (and toys!), a separate dining room, and lots of sleeping space.
  • The big backyard might rival the basement for our favorite place to hang out!
  • All of the bright, natural light through the entire first floor.
  • Our neighborhood pool! Not technically part of our house, but dang, we love having access to a pool one block away.
  It really has been such a blessing to be in this house. We prayed intentionally for lots of things like chances for hospitality, fun for our kids, investing in our neighborhood, etc- and we've truly seen each of those things happen or grow since we've moved in. But enough of the emotional stuff! Let's talk about the actual house. 

  One of the best parts of this house is that the previous owners did a handful of great cosmetic upgrades. They repainted the entire house (in colors we like!), added trim work, and changed out lots of light fixtures (adding recessed lighting!). Those things have made a huge difference and we've hardly done any other projects since we've moved in. Here is what we've tackled in the last year:
  • finished the basement (which also included finding/treating mold and repairing an exterior wall)
  • painted upstairs bathroom
  • painted Tyler's room
  • painted guest room
 Such a small list! I have a much bigger running list of smaller projects in my head that I want to do over the next few years. Most are pretty simple, but a couple require some tools I don't have or just a bigger budget than we have right now. Overall, its just really fun to love this space and know that we might be here for years. We aren't in a big hurry to tackle projects and want to save money for them over time. Add to that my tendency to just be extremely slow with decorating and making house decisions and, you know, we're just in no hurry :)

  Without further adieu, here is a not-so-quick tour of our house! Stay tuned for a quick update soon, since I forgot to include Caleb's room and the basement. And gold star to anyone who actually watches the entire thing!

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Good List.

 This new blog series has been a long time coming. I've always loved lists and, in the past few years, I've come to really really love good things. Things that do good, encourage good, and are just good for us. One of my favorite things to do is to share things I'm loving with my friends. So it only makes sense that I add all of those together to make The Good List!

  The Good List is a monthly list of good things. Businesses making a difference around the world, products that are good for our hearts, ideas that are good for our families and communities, or just good habits that are good for our health. Guys, the possibilities are endless and I love them all! Aren't we all on the hunt to fill our lives with good the best things? I want to help you by sharing every month some of good things I've discovered!

  So, stay tuned for v.|1 of The Good List this Thursday and come back the first Thursday of each month to follow along and (hopefully!) find some good things to add into your life. I promise you'll love it!

Ps. Want to have The Good List newsletter sent to your inbox every month? Sign up here!