Jackson's Maternity Session


It's so strange to think these are our last moments as a family of four.  Kevin and I always said we wanted three children but to ask us after two.  After I had Madi I needed a break because being a working mom is a lot of work!  Although I always felt busy and overwhelmed our family never quite felt complete; God was still tugging at our hearts.  Kevin was ready long before I was but finally last Summer I got on board with trying for another baby.  We were perfectly okay with three girls and definitely were not having a third just to try and get a boy.  I figured there was no chance and the odds were too high for another girl.  All these months later I still haven't fully absorbed the idea of having a boy.  To say we are excited is just an understatement. 

We are so excited and feeling blessed to complete our family any day now.  I wanted to capture this milestone with a maternity session and Little Lion Photography Co did a beautiful job of preserving this moment.



Friday Favorites 9/21

I've got some catchin' up to do and share our adventures from the past two months.  We tried squeezing in some last minute fun at the end of Summer with play dates.  We've had birthday parties, activities at school and a family wedding amongst all the normal "stuff".

Zoo Play Date:








Mommy Daughter Date



Last weekend I was feeling like I needed a break and was going to take some me time but then at the last minute I decided what was really needed was a Mommy-Daughter Date.  I figured it was probably our last opportunity for just a girls day and it was just what the girls needed before baby brother arrives.

We went to Build A Bear where the girls each made a bear and then together they made a teddy bear for little brother for when he arrives.  Emily named her bear Bella and Madi couldn't come up with one so Emily spits out Diamond or Crystal.  I asked if she aspired to be a stripper?!?!  Then thankfully Madi came up with Emma.  They named Jackson's bear Brownie.

After the bear building fun we went to BJ's for lunch and the girls were spoiled with pizza and a pizookie.  It was the perfect day and just what we needed.

Front Porch Refresh

When we moved into our new home five years ago I started making deco mesh wreaths for every holiday and my mom made me pillows for our bench.  Each holiday I would change out the decor.  After five years I was completely tired of the deco mesh wreaths and the pillows were worn and faded.  I decided I wanted to keep the front porch simple and not change it for every holiday.   It's funny that when we moved in I wanted Chevron everything and now I'm over that and in love with Buffalo Check.  My mom made the pillows and I grabbed the runner rug from Amazon.  I'm in love with the layered rug look and added a fun coir door mat from Danielle at Girl and Her Guys.  The boxwood topiaries from Hobby Lobby I added to either side of the door.  I had the boxwood wreaths already and just made new buffalo check bows.  I'm super excited about the new look of our front porch!


Girl's Room Refresh

As I was starting to think about designing baby boy's nursery I decided that I wanted to revamp the girls room as well so they felt special.  Honestly when we put the girls together I never quite finished their room so this was the perfect time to do so.  

My best friend Gina of Family, Food and Furniture helped me immensely with the room and worked on three major projects.  Gina is super talented at building and restoring furniture and the first project was a long picture shelf.  Gina constructed, painted and hung the shelf and I added the frames and pictures.  Next she made three cork boards for the girls to display their work.  The girls were always working on masterpieces and paper was accumulating or I was throwing their works of art away.  Now that we have the cork boards I'm able to hang the pieces they want to save.  Gina used baseboard to construct the frames around the cork board and I just loved how they turned out.  Her last project is by far my favorite.  But likely Gina and Kevin's least favorite because it was a lot of work for them!  I found an old, beat up dresser that Gina restored and Kevin worked a crazy amount of hours putting on new drawer slides.  The piece turned out gorgeous and just completes the room.



Contractions: To Be Concerned or Not?!?!



All of my pregnancies I've experienced pre-term labor and even had to be put on medication to slow down contractions.  I've also had gestational diabetes with all three babies which is considered a high risk third trimester.  Because of that I've had to have NST's to monitor the baby and my contractions.  There's so much unknown with pregnancy and contractions just happen to be one of those areas.  Are they Braxton Hicks or something more serious?  Even though this is my third time around and I should be an expert by now contractions still had me guessing.  That was until I found Bloomlife, which is a hands-free, cord-free, clinically validated wearable contraction monitor.  It's such an easy and comfortable system that gives me such peace of mind.  

You rent Bloomlife weekly and can start as early as you like.  Once it arrives you charge the device and then snap it into the patch.  You stick the patch three fingers below your belly button and then start up the app.  It's suggested to wear for one hour at night right before bed.  You need to be still when you wear the device so I usually put it on, sit on the couch or my bed to watch tv and work on my computer.  The app shows you real time activity of uterine activity.  You can learn how many contractions you are having, how long they last and how close together they are.  I especially love that I can take the data back to my OB so he can know exactly what's going on in between my appointments and NST's.

I give Bloomlife an A+ rating and highly recommend it for anyone who is pregnant.  You don't have to guess if your contractions are real or not and it also helps when it comes time for real labor and helping you to decide when its time to go to the hospital.



I have yet another reason for you to try Bloomlife now... get 10% off your weekly rental with CODE AF10.

Something else I'm needing during my third trimester is clothing that fits my growing body!  As you can imagine my clothing options are becoming more and more limited.  However, I just snagged this top from PinkBlush and it's perfect for my belly yet still flattering.  It's light-weight, cute and comfortable.  I picked it out with the intention of being able to wear it after pregnancy as well so it would last me way longer.   For your reference I"m wearing a Woman's Small (not maternity because PinkBlush tends to run on the bigger side).






This is a sponsored post.  All opinions expressed are honest and my own.  Thank you for supporting the companies and brands that have received my stamp of approval.

Girl's Craft Night- AR Workshop



Can you think of a better way to spend a night than with girlfriends and DIY projects (don't forget a little wine was involved too)?  I was so excited when I learned that AR Workshop was coming to Fresno and all that it had to offer.  Recently the Fresno Fab Females headed over for a craft night and I fell in love immediately.  The space and atmosphere were so cute; I could take one of everything home with me.  Plus the two owners are the sweetest and cutest cousins which is just the icing on the cake.

Ahead of time everyone signs up online for a class and picks their project.  I was pleasantly surprised that each person in a group could pick a different project so everyone gets exactly what they want.  I picked out a growth chart board for Jackson's nursery.  When you arrive your space is all set up for you and two instructors were on hand to walk us through every step.  I was so impressed with how everything was ran and how great the class was.  At the end of the night every project looked professional and it was fool proof.  I could go back weekly to work on a new project.  I've had so many people ask me about AR Workshop and I'm planning to head back very soon with more friends.  I'm also super excited to share Jackson's growth chart in his nursery with you; stay tuned.

Back To School Traditions & Ideas


1. Back to School Shopping
2. Reading Books about School
3. BTS Photos
4. Filling out Back to School Sign
5. First Day of School Breakfast
6. School Drop Off with Mommy and Daddy
7. Teacher Gifts
8. Making School Lunches

Back to School Breakfast

Back to School Breakfast


Since Emily has started school I try to do a little extra special breakfast on the first day of school.  This year I made it a little extra special just because.  It was a Back to School theme and pretty simple to put together.  I grabbed a few items from the dollar store and found the rest on Pinterest.

Laundry Day Made Simple


1. Laundry Baskets in Every Room
2. Pick a Laundry Day
3. Get Kids Involved
4. Wash in Loads but all Family Items Together
5. Keep Hangers in Laundry Room
6. Set a Timer
7. Fold Laundry and Watch Your Favorite Show




1. Laundry Baskets in Every Room

I think every member of the family or at least every bedroom needs a laundry basket.  Kevin and I have two where we separate nice clothes from pj's, under garments, etc.  The girls share a basket and Jackson already has one in his room.  This way there are no excuses for laundry on the floor or all over the place.  Everyone has a convenient spot to put their dirty clothes.  I find the BEST stuff from Thirty-One Gifts and there was no exception when I was looking for laundry baskets.  For years I've used mesh baskets that I had to replace constantly because they ripped apart and were so cheaply made.  The quality of these is amazing and they are very sturdy.  You can find different size options to fit your space perfectly.  For our room we have one tall and skinny and one short and long one because we need two baskets that fit into a strange spot in our closet.  You know you are old when laundry baskets excite you but I am not kidding in the least when I say that these laundry baskets seriously make me happy! 

2. Pick a Laundry Day

Nobody enjoys doing laundry and dragging it out only makes it worse.  I like to try my best to get it all done in one day so it's one less annoying thing to do.  It's not every week that I complete laundry start to finish all in one day but that's my goal.  At a minimum I try REALLY hard to get everything washed and dried in one day.  My laundry day is Friday because its the day my cleaning lady comes and sheets and towels have to happen that day anyway.

3. Get Kids Involved

My kids know that they have to use their laundry baskets and I also have them help me sort laundry and carry it to the laundry room.  When clothes are dry they take them out and put them in the laundry basket for me to fold.

4. Wash in Loads but all Family Items Together

I was nice clothes in cold all together for our whole family.  A load of hot- pj's, undies, socks.  A load of towels.  A load of sheets.  A load of whites in bleach.  So I separate the loads but kids and adults all go in one load.

5. Keep Hangers in Laundry Room

For your items that need to be put on hangers have hangers in the laundry room so you're not doing twice the work.  An item of clothing goes straight from the dryer and onto a hanger.  Then I just take the load back to our rooms and hang.

6. Set a Timer

If I don't set a timer a load might sit in the wash forever!  Same goes for the dryer and this just drags out the process.  Set a timer that way you can expedite the whole process.

7. Fold Laundry and Watch Your Favorite Show

I don't get much time to sit down and watch TV but I don't feel as guilty if I'm killing two birds with one stone.  I take my laundry basket of clean clothes and plop down in front of the tv and start folding away.  I divide into piles based on what room it will go to.


Thirty-One Gifts


This is a sponsored post.  All opinions expressed are honest and my own.  Thank you for supporting the brands and companies that have received my stamp of approval.



Back to School Shopping 2018


At the end of Summer we always look for new outfit, backpack, lunch pail and supplies for school.  The girls adorable backpacks are from Viv & Lou which offers the cutest products that all can be personalized for free.  The quality is outstanding, the options are endless and everything is very affordable in my opinion.  My favorite part is the personalization is included!  

Emily wears uniforms so clothes shopping is such a breeze.  I've included below great uniform options from retailers you already shop at; plus the sales are great!  Madi's first day of school outfit is a navy and white gingham romper from a local boutique.  I just love it and was even happier she loved it.  Last year was quite the power struggle picking out a new outfit whereas this year was a breeze.  Some of my other purchases for non-uniform wearers are below.  I picked out comfortable, affordable but cute options.  I don't like to spend a lot on school clothes because they get worn very quickly.  Plus you don't have to sacrifice style for price in my opinion.





The girls lunch pails are also from Viv & Lou and Emily is using the travel snack stack from Re-Play which hooks perfectly to a lunch box or backpack.


Back to School-Packing Lunches

This post is sponsored by Nature's Bakery but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.


Summer is always the time of year that flies by the fastest.  I can't believe we're already preparing for Back to School.  The kids are ready for some structure, routine and getting out of the house but I'm not exactly sure I'm ready for early mornings, packing lunches, homework and all that goes with the school grind.  Does anyone else struggle with packing lunches?  I do really well for awhile and then I feel like it gets to be the same thing over and over.   It's extra hard because everything has to be kept cold and my daughter's preschool doesn't allow nut products so that takes difficulty through the roof!  I've sat down and brainstormed ideas to make Back to School and packing lunches a bit easier.  I wanted to share some ideas with you in hopes that it takes the guess work out.  I also suggest making lunches the night before and have it all ready in the lunch pail in the fridge.

When packing lunches for my girls I try at least one protein and two sides.  Here is my full list of proteins and sides:


Protein
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Hard Boiled Egg
  • Tortilla Roll Up
  • Sandwich
  • Uncrustable
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Protein Muffin
  • Salami & Cheese
  • Hummus

Sides
I wanted to point out Nature's Bakery Fig Bars as they are a new find for us.  I'm always on the hunt for nutritious yet quick and convenient snacks for my kiddos.  Sometimes that can be an oxymoron so when I find something that hits both categories it feels like a huge win.  These are wholesome snacks that are made with real fruit and real grains.  They are non-GMO, dairy-free, vegan, soy-free, nut-free and made with no high-fructose corn syrup.  Those last two items are a huge deal for us since one school doesn't allow nut products and Emily is Fructose Intolerant.

Getting back into the swing of things for school can be utterly crazy and finding ways to make life and the transition easier are really important to me.  Anything that makes packing lunches easier I'm all for.  This is something I don't have to make or think about but just toss in without sacrificing the health of my little ones.  Not only are these healthy but my girls think they are delicious so I know these will get eaten even though they are away from mom when eating their lunches.








Graham Crackers, Tortilla Roll-Up with Ham and Cheese, Grapes and Trail Mix with Cheese.

Cottage Cheese, Zucchini Muffins, Fruit and Hard Boiled Egg.

Greek Yogurt topped with Honey & Blueberries, Carrots and Hard Boiled Egg.
Ham & Cheese Sandwich, Apples and Trail Mix with Cheese.





Friday Favorites 7/27

Swim lessons, play dates, Summer activities at home, slumber parties and preparing for baby boy have been on the agenda lately.  Don't mind the craziness of work but that's so not fun to share so I'll keep it to the former, lol!


Santa Cruz Vacation Guide

Santa Cruz Vacation Guide


We've had an annual girls trip to Santa Cruz that we've been doing since Emily was 8 months old.  We always go to the beach and the Boardwalk but we've always struggled with where to stay.  We've tried places in Santa Cruz and Capitola and have never been really happy.  Last year we ended up staying in Monterey and driving over to the Boardwalk.  Since the Santa Cruz area was majorly lacking in hotels I was so excited to hear that a Hyatt was being built in town.  It wasn't open last Summer during our vacation but I knew exactly where to stay this year.

We just returned from our girls vacay and not only did we have a great time but we absolutely loved the Hyatt Place Santa Cruz.  The hotel is well appointed; modern and sleek.  The amenities were phenomenal including a complimentary breakfast, bar, snack shack, business center, gym and pool and jacuzzi spa.  The breakfast was extensive and delicious.  We loved taking advantage of it both mornings and not having to load up in the car to find a breakfast spot.  We also took advantage of the snack bar for treats for the pool.  Speaking of the pool, we splashed around both days.  The girls loved playing in the pool and spa and they had great lounge areas around the pool for my mom and I.  The fitness center was ample size and I was able to get workouts in both mornings.

Great amenities are one thing but the rooms need to excite as well and the rooms at Hyatt Place Santa Cruz did not disappoint.  The rooms were very spacious with two queen beds, sitting area with sofa sleeper, desk, mini fridge and large dresser and armoire.  The room was just perfect for all of us.  My mom and I got our own beds and the girls slept on the pull out couch.  The bathroom was equally nice but the counter space was lacking a little bit.

Santa Cruz Vacation Guide- Hyatt Place Santa Cruz

Summer Activities & Toys

Summer is my absolute favorite time of the year but this Summer has proved to be super challenging because my girls are used to being in school.  From a very young age they have been the type that has to know what's on the agenda, where they are going and who they are seeing.  Sitting at home is never an option for them.  So I find them stir crazy and driving me crazy all too often.  I shared a  Summer schedule with you in the past but I also wanted to share some activities for the play time that we have in that schedule.

1. Independent Play with Toys
2. Bingo
3. Dot Paint
4. Marshmallow Toothpick Challenge
5. Tie Dye
6. Board Games
7. Scavenger Hunts

1. Playing with Toys

There are times when I'm working at home and the girls need to play independently so I can get things accomplished.  The girls just received new Sunny Day toys which is from Nick Jr's latest preschool series.  Sunny is a hairstylist and has the help of best friends Rox, Blair and puppy Doodle.  My girls were in love with the Sunny Day Glam Vanity where they could place their dolls and curl, cut or style their hair.  They also loved switching off wearing the accessory apron.  All the toys were vibrant and fun and captured their attention.  Thank you Mattel for sending these to my girls!

A tip I have for toys is rotate them in and out so they stay fresh for your kids.

Mattel- Sunny Day Toys-Summer Activities & Toys
 

Taco Casserole



Ingredients:
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 can refried beans
  • 1 jar of salsa
  • 1 package taco seasoning
  • 2 cups broken tortilla chips
  • 1 medium bell pepper, sauteed
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese
  • 1 small can sliced olives

Directions:

Brown ground beef and drain.  Mix in refried beans, salsa, taco seasoning and heat to boiling, stirring occasionally.  In an ungreased casserole dish place beef mixture, top with bell peppers, cheese and olives.

Bake uncovered 20-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.  Top with tortilla chips and more cheese if desired and bake for 3-5 minutes.