52:9

I’m thankful for….

daytime dates 

Andy and I try our best to make time for each other and enjoy some space away from the kids. Even if it’s something simple like drinks and a movie. A few hours away from whining and crying. Spilled snacks and a messy house. Some peace and quiet or actual adult conversation. With Andy’s crazy work schedule this winter we have barely played in the snow, and have had two pairs of brand new snow shoes just calling our names.

My sister in law was sweet enough to  agree to wrangle the chiclets for an afternoon and we headed to the mountains for fresh air and a lunch date.

The sunshine decided it didn’t want to come out but the views didn’t disappoint.

The higher we climbed, the crisper the air got and the truck got smaller and smaller.

We made it up as far as we decided was best and set up lunch and enjoyed beer as it was intended to be drank.

We soaked in the peace and quiet and enjoyed the simplicity of each other’s company. Once our buns were cold enough we made the trek back down.

We made it home to our favorite little ones and paid our babysitter with a steak dinner. I mean you can never go wrong with a good slab of beef.

Nights we wear fancy threads and hit the town are always a time well spent. Days like this though, when we can disconnect from life and just reset together, are just what we all need sometimes.

52:10

I’m thankful for…..

how easily she makes friends 

I took Hayden last weekend to an ice skating show that my friend was working at. We ate popcorn and enjoyed the show, and while we waited my for my friend to come over, Hayden found a tiny friend.

She was sweet enough to introduce her mama and her baby, Reid Philip, to her new companion and they spent the rest of our time at the rink playing with stuffed animals and sharing snacks.

Her kind and friendly moments like this make me feel like just maybe, I’m doing something right. At least for today.

52:8

I’m thankful for…

a boy in his crib

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It’s been a looooooong road getting this little guy to adjust to sleeping in his crib. Just getting him to actually sleep at all. More sleepless nights than I can count or remember and many days of endless tears on all parties, have gotten us to where we are.

Most nights he goes down without a fight and will only wake up twice to nurse. Perhaps he’s finally discovered it’s just more comfortable when you can stretch out. Or maybe he got tired of listening to Hayden yell in her sleep all night. All I know is that this mama is finally getting some shut eye and so is this handsome boy.

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52:6

I’m thankful for….

the smallest of cousins

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These two adorable little people were born 2 weeks apart. I can’t even begin to tell you how convenient it is to have had a baby at the same time as your friend/family. The obvious reason like they always have on hand clothes, diapers, wipes, etc when you run out. So handy. But it makes such a big difference that you have someone close to you that is experiencing the same things. Sleepless nights, fussy babies, and tiny meltdowns that you aren’t sure what to do with. It helps that you have a supporter that understands completely, because they are in the same spot. The very best part? These guys get to grow up together. They now are aware of each and smile and giggle at one another. It is the sweetest and most hilarious thing to watch. I’m so excited to watch them grow and learn together and become the best of friends.

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52:5

I’m thankful for..

sunshine in the shower

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Yep. That is totally a picture from my shower.  It’s days like this that really make me appreciate such simple things. Like the fact that when I managed to take a shower, it was right when the sun was shining through my window filling the shower with it’s golden bliss. It just happened to be while Reid quietly cooed and giggled in his swing on the floor next to the tub. Hayden stacked rows and rows of toilet paper, proudly making a castle. The perfect song came on my Pandora station. And in that moment, I stood under the hot water, soaking in the sunshine and serenity and imagined I was actually on a tropical island underneath a waterfall. It’s a big stretch I know, but I get to be thankful for whatever I want, that’s how this works.

Inevitably that moment comes to a screeching halt when I’m overcome with an unpleasant smell and a request from the toddler to assist her in wiping a certain body part. Oh, lucky me.  And that cute content tiny person is now not so content. One last bask in that sun and it’s back to reality…

52:3

I’m thankful for…..

tiny siblings

Hayden was pretty skeptical of Reid at first. It was an adjustment for sure, for all of us. But she soon found her soft spot for him. She quickly became his sweet big sister.

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She cuddles and snuggles him. Sings him softly to sleep. Original Hayden songs. “Goooo to sleep, in your eyes. Gooo to sleep, in your eyes.”

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Teaches him which little piggies went to market. Turns out, it’s not always the little one.

IMG_5493 Entertains him with dance parties while I shower and get ready for the day.

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Shares her race car skills with him.

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She gently tucks him in next to her and explains the story behind Tinkerbell. “Uh, so it’s not the Pirate Fairies, Reid. But that’s alright, this movie is fine too.”

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We still have to work on not yelling in his face, and doing our best to not dance directly on him. He’s a trooper and still gives her smiles all day, even when she steals his blanket from under him.

I am the youngest of my siblings and there is 8 and 10 years difference between my brother, sister and I. It’s a whole new experience to see the love between my children. Hayden is protective and loving of her baby. That’s right, her baby. She’s sure to correct you if you say otherwise. And Reid smiles and coos at her every move. From the day we brought him home, he’s been smitten with her. She can yell in his face, steal his toys, roll over him, smash him on the bed, and he just smiles and is content. It’s a bond I love and cherish and can only hope it only grows from here.

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52:2

I’m thankful for…

sweet, loving aunts

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My children have amazing women in their lives that entertain them, spoil them and love them wholeheartedly. And those women are their aunts.

Cookies taste better and books are funnier with their aunts. The toys are cooler and the giggles are louder when they are with their aunts.

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Games are more exciting and they run just a little harder when they spend time with their aunts.

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Snuggles are just a little sweeter and adventures end up being that much cooler when they are taken with their aunts.

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april They’ve changed countless diapers and dealt with toddler tantrums. Special boxes get sent to them with goodies galore. When this tired mama falls asleep in the recliner, they feed your toddler, finish the dishes and tuck the kids into bed.
I’m blessed to call these ladies my sisters and my best friends. And I’m even luckier that my children have these ladies to learn from, look up to and have the best of times with.

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52:10

We did a bit of spring cleaning around here. By spring cleaning I mean that I was running out of drawer space and empty hangers, so decided we needed to do some purging. Andy was skeptical at first so I made it easy. I pulled out the clothing in his closet that in the last 3 years I’ve NEVER seen him wear and he got to take a vote. If it was yes to keeping it, I made him try it on. Which is what I have to do. It’s a harsh reality. What I’ve learned is that 10 times out of 10 I don’t ever fit back into it. I tell myself I’ve just gained more muscle, I’m getting stronger people, not gaining weight over the years.

Anyway, we did some much needed closet cleaning and instead of just making a quick pit stop at the local thrift store, I looked into a nearby donation center.

Frontline Mission

I also went through our cupboards and filled a few grocery bags for a food donation as well. That giant box of Maple Sugar oatmeal has been staring me down for quite some time, it might as well go to use rather than just taking up space. Make room for that delicious sugary Peaches & Cream kind.

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(don’t worry, this wasn’t the whole selection)

It’s easy to take meals and clothing for granted. We sometimes get caught up that we need to have that new cute summer dress, even though there are 6 similar ones hanging in the closet. I am the queen of not eating leftovers and they inevitably just grow into a creature and have to be thrown away. I really admire the people who can live completely simple. Happiness with just necessities. I won’t lie. I love shoes, and $5 iced coffees. I have a major weakness for bargains because, of course, I have a real need for that ink and stamp kit. It’s only $7.99!

Frontline Mission helps with all needs. Hot meals are available three days a week. They have a food pantry that distributes groceries every Friday morning. They also have a great program called Frontline Closet that has donated clothing for men, woman and children available, along with small household items.

So perhaps the next time you do some cleaning for yourself, you can look for a local donation center and give back to those that need a little help right now. As their website states, hunger doesn’t take a holiday.

52:8

Fate. It’s a funny thing. It can seem rather dramatic to feel like something was destined to happen. Sometimes, there is no other way to describe it though. I experienced this today. My agenda was pretty open. Get some housework done, work on the yard a bit, read some more of a fantastic book my sister sent me and meet up with a friend later for dinner. Perfect day to throw in a little something special for a friend.

I had someone in mind this morning. She recently got a new job, and is putting in her notice tomorrow morning. The office she is leaving has been a stressful environment and while I knew that she would feel relief to tell them she was leaving, there would be a bit of anxiety involved. A little pick me up before was in order. I had a few beauty supplies on hand, one being a dry shampoo ironically named Fresh Start. Hilarious. Some tea, and chocolates. What else starts a day out right? Mini muffins. Mini muffins in my opinion could probably prevent wars. I mean who doesn’t feel loved when they receive a basket of homemade mini muffins/? The answer is no one.

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 Here is where fate comes into play. I planned on trying to do a sneak drop on my way to dinner, her house was on the way. Not two blocks from her house, I passed her in traffic. Perfect! Now I won’t have to be so sneaky and she’ll return home to goodies on her doorstep. After my drop, I stopped to get fuel. Traffic was busy on the main street so I took a side alley when leaving. Who do I see when I pull back out but my muffin destined friend! She was out on a sunny stroll with a friend. I chuckled as I pulled away. What are the odds I’d run into her twice in a row?

I enjoyed a delicious home cooked meal with my friend while Hayden played outside with her kids until the sun went down. Practically anyway. Our days are pretty long this time of year. Hayden and I packed up and headed home.

Low and behold, who do we pass again on the drive home?! You guessed it. Miss Muffin herself. It was at this point I smiled and realized that my gesture turned out to be bigger than just me. A greater force was at work, and this act of kindness was truly meant to be for her today. I got a very sweet text from her on my return home, and we had a good laugh at our many encounters over the course of the afternoon.

Want my mini muffin recipe? I know you do. They’re even sort of healthy, so you won’t feel so guilty when you eat 37 of them in one sitting. I squashed two recipes together to come up with this one ultimate showdown.

Banana Zucchini Muffins- Mini Style

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup honey

1 tbsp. ground flax seed

2 eggs

1 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 bread flour (you can use all purpose, bread flour makes for a softer result)

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp vanilla

4 tbsp. buttermilk

2-3 ripe bananas, mashed

1/2 cup shredded zucchini

handful of baby carrots, shredded (will be about 1/8 cup)

To your softened butter, add the sugar, honey, flax seed, bananas, zucchini and carrot. If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can make your own. Simply measure out what you need for the recipe with whatever milk you have on hand. Fat free, 2 %, whole, it’s all good, though a higher fat content will make for a better result. Now simply add a squirt or two of lemon juice and let it sit for a few minutes before adding to your recipe. I rarely buy buttermilk so I use this easy trick a lot. Mix your dry ingredients together and slowly mix in with your wet combination. Since my buttermilk had been sitting while I prepared the rest, now is when I threw it into my mixture.

Have your oven preheated to 325 degrees and scoop your batter into a greased mini muffin pan, unless using liners. You could probably have figured that out on your own though. Bake for approx. 13-14 minutes. They won’t be golden brown, and if you eat them right out of the pan, they will seem undercooked. This is what you want! They will continue to cook while resting and the banana in the batter will cool. Which will result in a delicious moist muffin bite.

Now here comes the hard part, keep them for yourself or treat your friends and family? I’ll let you figure that one out.

52:7

The Earth!

April is host to Earth Day. Coming up real quick on the 22nd. I had one last gift card from my set of three and decided I wanted to look into donating the funds towards Earth conservation. Let’s be real for a second. We can all do better. There are a few of us out there who are like uber awesome at being green. Collecting rain water, growing all their food and livestock, sewing all their clothing out of ferns, making homemade chemical free deodorant out of soil, and baking pinecone cookies on a rock in the afternoon sun. Ok, a few of those might be made up. But some people really are extreme and it’s spectacular and more power to them. What can I be better about? Not being so picky and eating leftovers instead of throwing away so much uneaten food. Getting off my lazy rear and turning off that light I left on in my closet. Turning the water off when I brush my teeth. I am the worst at this and I have no idea why. Probably because I don’t brush my teeth long enough. Whatever, don’t judge me.

Want to do more, or need some ideas? Check out this site. You can make pledges and learn ways to help your community take action in earth conservation.

A Billion Acts of Green

Want to do more? Like help save endangered Leatherback Turtles?

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Travel to the Himalayas and study the pollination patterns of bees and butterflies to better understand climate changes?

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Perhaps your more of a rainforest person. You could travel to Borneo and help scientists make strides in restoring one of the world’s most diverse ecosystems.

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Your in luck my friends because you TOTALLY CAN!

Enter Earthwatch Institute. You can go almost anywhere in the world on an expedition. How cool is that?!?

A certain someone I know wants to be a marine biologist. She basically can be, part time. For $2775 she can go to the Bahamas for 10 days, accommodations included, and literally swim with sea turtles. Your “job” is to snorkel with the turtles and observe where they choose to make their habitat, especially in their juvenile years. We know where they choose to make their habitat but not why. If we can research and pin point the reasons they choose certain areas to live as young, we can then protect those areas, better preserving a future for these cute little fellas. SIGN ME UP!

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Until the day I can enjoy researching tropical waters or observing caterpillars in Costa Rica, I’ll do what I can. Like making a donation.

I chose to make a one time donation, but you have the option to make a monthly donation if you wish. Even as small as $5 a month. I’m pretty sure I lose at least $5 a month in the bottom of my purse. Just that small amount will plant 120 mangroves a year, regenerating a vital coastal ecosystem in Kenya. ( A mangrove is a tree by the way, in case you were wondering.)

You don’t need to make a donation to make a difference. Trying planting a little garden this year. I swear mint is like the most abundant herb you can grow, and all your friends will love you because you’ll make them mojitos all the time. Recycling is pretty easy too. Keep all your toilet and paper towel rolls and you can Pinterest the shiz out of ideas of repurposing them. Jelly jars can be washed up and the labels scrubbed off and you have glasses for your little people to drink out of. Lights can easily be turned off promptly and small appliances unplugged when not in use. Carpooling is a quick fix and who doesn’t enjoy extra company?

Let your imaginations run wild and be on the lookout for ways you can help keep our planet green.