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Playhouse Project // The Exterior + Construction

May 21, 2018

It’s here! The LONG overdue and awaited playhouse post! We have the cutest little playhouse in our backyard, and I can say that without bragging because this whole thing was my mom’s brain child and baby, so I can take very little credit for the whole thing aside for helping with a little painting.

I’m going to do the best to recap the entire experience and process. It’s been nearly two summers since the playhouse was built and we are already getting so much use out of it, both last summer and this spring as the girls are at such fun ages to enjoy the play space in the backyard.

Since I wasn’t the one planning or constructing the playhouse, I’ll do my best to share about the experience but if you have questions, please don’t hesitate to post them below and I’ll get an answer for you. We were also really heavily inspired by the blog Lay Baby Lay and their backyard playhouse, so if you’re looking for more specific details you can check out their website as well!

It was important to us to make sure the playhouse was on a foundation that could be moved, because while we do see ourselves living in this house for a long time, we may eventually move and this special playhouse is certainly coming with us. I joke about making the playhouse my office someday, but in all seriousness after our kids are grown, the possibilities for this little playhouse are endless. While it doesn’t have air conditioning or heat, it does have electricity so anything is possible. 😉

We positioned the playhouse in the back corner of our yard and I LOVE looking out our kitchen window and seeing this beautiful little playhouse out there. When our patio project is done (more on that soon!) I imagine we will use the playhouse even more.

The deck is made of ipe wood, which is a hard, very long lasting wood. We painted the playhouse Benjamin Moore Ballet White on the outside and the trim is Benjamin Moore White Dove. We used the same on the interior of the playhouse. I’ll do a more complete post on the interior of the playhouse soon, but in terms of construction we put a loft inside the house that is used for reading and maybe even sleepovers down the road with a removable ladder. When Ainsley was smaller we removed the ladder so she wouldn’t climb unsupervised.

So that’s it! If you have questions, post them below and I’ll do my best to answer them or find the person who can!


 

Family

Collins’s Honey-Themed First Birthday

May 18, 2018

Last weekend we celebrated Collins’s first birthday and Mother’s Day all in a two day span. It was SO fun yet bittersweet to reflect on the last year and how quickly it’s flown by. I mean, wasn’t she just a newborn in the hospital? Really, this has been THE fastest year of my life and I don’t even want to think about the fact that my baby is no longer really a baby but is quickly approaching toddlerhood.

While I’m not typically one to rock my babies to sleep, it was a gift to be able to rock Collins to sleep on her last night of her first year of life, and the cuddles she has been giving out lately at bed time are the best of the best. Even though she is growing up, she seems more cuddly and loving than ever before, which is making it a little easier on this momma’s heart to see my baby grow.

So, on to the party, before I start to cry….

Since Collins is such a honey, we decided to celebrate with a honey-themed first birthday. And while it may seem like a lot of work, I kept things super simple this time around and went for maximum cute impact and minimal fuss. I decorated without much more than what we had around the house, including a letter board to convey the theme, and some artificial flowers and succulents that we use as regular decor.

For food, since it was a late morning party, I kept things simple with Bit O Honey candies, Honecomb cereal, cupcakes, cake adorned with honey bees, savory toasts with goat cheese and thyme drizzled wit honey and coffee as well as yellow cans of sparkling water in a bucket of ice. It took practically no time to put together and looked pretty cute, too!

Family

You Make Me Better

May 7, 2018

This weekend I was talking with a friend about motherhood – the joys and challenges of adding a second child into the mix specifically – and I said something to her that sort of just tumbled out.

“Motherhood makes me the best version of myself.”

As I sat with those words in the days that followed, the words stuck with me. I also felt there was room for a little disclaimer, and Voxed my friend to clarify what I really meant when I said that. Let me explain: I believe wholeheartedly that motherhood DOES make me the best version of myself, but only because it reveals in me the worst parts of myself, too.

Over the last three years motherhood has given me a giant mirror, reflecting my weaknesses, shortcomings, need for grace and refinement, and areas where I have tremendous room for growth. Over the last three years I’ve learned that I’m impatient, selfish, prone to inconsistency, sometimes lazy, short-sighted, a seeker of immediate gratification, and many more things. And I don’t say that to put myself down, but to say that I think it’s the inherent nature of becoming a mother that makes you so keenly aware of the areas you need to grow when you’re giving so much of your time, energy and affection to those around you.

And because I have that mirror looking me straight in the face every day, I’ve been exposed to areas of potential growth that I didn’t know existed before having kids. I’m not always the best version of myself in motherhood, but slowly, surely, I’m being forced to grow and change into the best version of me a little bit every single day.

On a practical note: I recently listened to a podcast that talked about being an “angry mommy” and what you can do to work through those times when you just feel so frustrated, angry and frazzled. They suggested identifying your triggers that cause you to feel frazzled and upset so you can be proactive about setting yourself up for success.

For me, those triggers are things like a dirty/messy house, including dirty floors and dishes in the sink, as well as a lack of quiet time and when I’m doing too many things at once. I’ve been working on letting some of the other things that bother me fall by the wayside, but a clean and tidy home, moments of quiet in the morning before my kiddos wake up, a bath after the kids are in bed, and trying to avoid multi-tasking (aka being totally present wherever I am) are keys that help keep the anger and frustration at bay.

While I have a LONG way to go and grow as a mother, I’m working day by day to become the best wife and mom I can be, and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to grow through this journey.

Family, Fashion

Spring Skincare Favorites

April 23, 2018

The weather is slowly transitioning to spring around these parts, which means I’ve been switching up my skincare and makeup routine a bit as the temperatures change. Sometimes (most of the time?) what works for your skin in the winter months needs tweaking as the summer comes around, so it’s important to continue to evaluate what is and what is not working for your skin as the seasons change. Additionally, since I have a lot of mommas who read this blog, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that postpartum skin can require constant re-evaluation. Other milestones outside of having the baby (such as weight loss, weaning, sleep regressions and lack of sleep for mom, hormonal shifts, etc.) can mean that a product which once worked for your skin no longer does the trick like it used to. Hint hint: That’s what I’m here for!

  1. Nourishing Cream Exfoliator 
    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I think that a lot of skincare issues come back to inadequate exfoliation and inadequate (or incorrect) moisturizing. My skin tends to be on the drier side, and in order for my skincare products to penetrate the skin it’s important to exfoliate the top layer of dead skin cells. I use the Nourishing Cream Exfoliator a couple times per week, especially in the summer when sweat and sunscreen tend to be a part of everyday life.
  2. Countermatch Pure Calm Cleansing Milk 
    This is a new product to my routine (and a new product this month to BC’s line-up) and, in my opinion, a total must-have item if you struggle with dry and/or sensitive skin. The milk-based cleanser adds moisture and hydration to the skin while dissolving away grease, grime and makeup.
  3. Countermatch Adaptive Moisture Lotion
    This has been my go-to moisturizer since it launched over a year ago. It adapts to your skin’s unique hydration needs and is great for dry skin. Note: Countermatch is not great for those with acne-prone skin.
  4. No. 3 Balancing Face Oil 
    Sometimes in the warmer months I can get away without using a face oil, but I LOVE these face oils more than any other product in my skincare routine. The face oils are so great for adding hydration to the skin, improving overall appearance, and combating specific skin issues such as breakouts, unevenness, dry skin and more. I use the balancing oil to keep breakouts at bay and keep my skin hydrated without feeling greasy.
  5. No. 1 Brightening Face Mask
    I use a face mask a couple times per week – more often in the summer when my skin is exposed to the sun – to treat specific skin issues. For me, brightness and evenness in my skin tone is a primary concern that I use this mask to treat.
  6. Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer (No. 2)
    Sun protection + moisturizer + a product that evens out skin tone without feeling like you’re wearing makeup? Check! I wear Dew Skin at least four or five days out of the week, even more so in the warmer months when I’m out in the sun. It contains SPF 20 from non-nano zinc oxide and covers just enough to make me feel and look put together.

In the picture above, I’m only wearing the following makeup because my skin is glowing and my new routine is working well right now:

  1. Volumizing Mascara
    It’s hard to say whether Volumizing Mascara or Lengthening Mascara is my favorite. I rotate the two and sometimes even layer the two for both lengthening and volumizing impact. I really love both and use them interchangeably, so it’s really a matter of preference more than performance.
  2. Brow Pencil in Medium 
    Beautycounter’s Brow Pencil is one of the handful of makeup products I can’t live without. I have brows that need a little filling in from years of over-plucking so I use the pencil, along with the brush on the other end which is great for blending, for a natural yet put-together look.
  3. Whisper/Tawny Blush Duo 
    This duo is my favorite of all three color duo options for it’s natural look that bridges the gap between blush and bronzer. It’s versatile for many seasons, including springtime!
Family

How To // Days at Home

April 19, 2018

This winter has been a LONG one in the Midwest. We just yesterday got five inches of snow and were stuck inside most of the day because of snow. In April. And we haven’t enjoyed many days that have been spring-like at all over the last couple months so we have had to get creative about our time inside and at home. I had a few questions come in via Instagram about how we manage our days at home together, so I thought I would give you a peek at what we do on a typical day.

A few things to note: We do not live anywhere near most fun things to do with kids. We are an hour away from Target, from the Children’s Museum, from indoor activities of most kind, etc. So we don’t have a lot to do outside of our house, play dates with friends, etc. I work for a handful of hours most mornings, but Wednesdays are Ainsley and mommy mornings when we go to music class and leave Collins with the babysitter for a portion of the morning. I should also add that Ainsley is pretty stellar at independent play, so I try to engage in specific activities occasionally but she does a lot of playing on her own as well.

“Typical” Day // 
5:00 AM: I wake up and get going for the day. I’m a softie and Collins still gets an early morning bottle, so I don’t usually wake up to an alarm, but to Collins anywhere between 4:30 and 5 am. I feed her a bottle, then put her back down and get started with my day. I usually throw in a load of laundry, make coffee in my Aeropress, make Joe’s lunch, and sit down to read my Bible (usually through a reading plan on my She Reads Truth App), and get out my laptop to answer emails, IG messages, FB messages, etc.

6:30 AM: There are always deviations from this, but Ainsley typically wakes around 6:30 and Collins is usually up around the same time or a bit later. We have recently cut out all TV from Ainsley’s day, but she has a hard time waking up in the morning so I let her play 20-30 minutes of games on her iPad while she has some milk on the couch and Collins has her bottle.

7:00 AM: The girls have breakfast. They pretty much eat the same thing these days, usually toast with PB, Kodiak Cakes pancakes, fruit, yogurt, eggs, etc. The whole process probably takes about a half an hour. We also try to read a devotional and/or books while I have a captive audience.

7:30 AM: It’s “activate the troops” time as I call it! We get breakfast dishes cleaned up and in the dishwasher, I fold a load of laundry (sometimes), the girls get changed and into their clothes for the day, I make all the beds and get their rooms all tidied up for the day. It sounds crazy to some people that I tidy up rooms before we play but I like to start the day with a clean, organized house as our blank slate. I also get ready sometime in this window of time. Once the house is picked up and we are ready, we use any remaining time for free play while everyone is fresh and happy.

8:30-NOON: I get to work (at home) while our babysitter takes care of the girls at the house. Sometimes I get out of the house to work, but I have an office downstairs so most of the time I work from home because of the convenience and being close to

NOON – 1:30 PM: Smoothie date! I had gotten SO frustrated by the hour from noon until 1 that something had to change. I would get done with work, both girls were getting close to needing a nap and wouldn’t eat their lunches well, wanted to be fed right away, and usually I was left with a giant mess at nap time from the meal and chaos. So we switched things up!

Now my “smoothie sisters” have a smoothie packed with good food as their lunch and it’s so much easier for everyone. They love smoothies, and I usually have a smoothie for lunch, too, so we only get one appliance and a few cups dirty. Their smoothie usually has a half scoop of protein and greens powder or collagen peptides, whole milk, banana, some type of frozen pink fruit (cherries, strawberries, raspberries – the girls like their smoothies to be pink!), a large scoop of peanut butter and some ice. I feel good about what they are eating and they eat it without protest. Huge win!

Once lunch is cleaned up it’s usually survival mode until nap time. They get cleaned up, we play trains, Twosies (Ainsley’s favorite!), Shopkins or some other type of figurine that is the toy of the moment, do a couple puzzles, read a few more books, etc. Whatever keeps them happy until nap time is the name of the game..

1:30 – 3:00 PM: Nap time! The girls usually go down around 1:30 and sleep for some amount of time. It’s really hard to say how long Collins will nap for on any given afternoon. I can always count on about 45 minutes and sometimes up to 2 hours. Ainsley usually naps for about an hour and a half. While the girls nap, I pick up the house, get my workout in, take a quick shower and wrap up any work that needs to be done. I also try to prep anything that needs to be done for that night’s dinner. Most of this work is done while listening to some sort of personal development, health or faith-focused podcast.

3:00 -5:30 PM: These are the hardest times of the day for everyone, aren’t they? By this time the girls are dying to be out of the house but with winter and being cooped up it’s been hard. It’s usually the best time for a change of scenery – meaning instead of playing upstairs with our toys we play downstairs with the toys we have in the basement (a play kitchen, lots of play food, a tent where we read books, some different activity books, colors, stickers, etc. a pop-up plastic ball pit and pop up tunnel from Ikea, etc.) We tend to get out and go to the library, run any errands that need to be run, go to the bakery, play at the park when it’s nice enough, go on a walk (again, weather permitting), or play in the heated garage with scooters and the swing my husband hung from our Garage rafters.

At least a couple times per week we usually do some sort of post-nap baking project, such as baking cookies or cupcakes. When I’m really feeling like an over-achieving mom, we wrap up the baked goods and bring them to friends, neighbors, family members, etc. as a way to model kindness to Ainsley and show her the value of caring for others well. Let’s be clear, with a baby in tow the only way I actually get this baking done is by strapping Collins in the Ergo or putting her in the high chair with lots of snacks, but that’s life, right?

Ainsley also gets to play another 30 minutes on her iPad sometime during this time frame, usually around 5 when I prep dinner and get the house picked up before Joe comes home.

Other favorite indoor activities: Kwik Sticks Paint Markers, Do a Dot Markers, Usborne Sticker and Activity Books, Play Doh, Magnatiles, Imagination Magnets, large Legos, wooden train track set, doctor kit, crayons and coloring books, modeling clay and more!

5:30 PM: We typically eat dinner sometime around this time, or a bit after. Dinnertime is always a little hectic and a lot messy, but we try our best to sit down to a good family dinner every night. I’m still waiting for it to become a place of peaceful connection, but I have a feeling I’ll be waiting a LONG time for that to be the case. Ha! But we sit down, we eat food at the table together, and we talk about our days, dang it! 😉