July 27, 2017

Making A Family Yearbook

I have always loved taking pictures, and before we had kids I would spend hours upon hour's scrapbooking. For me, scrapbooking brought the pictures to life and took me back to the time they were taken. Since having kids scrapbooking hasn't happened. I have made a serious effort twice and each time I get started, it get's put to the side and never picked up again. With pictures mounting on my phone and computer, I needed to get serious and make some albums that we could enjoy. I started asking friends and family what they did with their pictures, and most of them had the same problem as me. They take so many pictures, aren't quite sure what to do with them, so they sit on a hard drive. My next solution was to search Pinterest. And low and behold I found so many different ideas. After searching, reading and searching some more I decided to make a family yearbook.
I decided to go with the yearbook because:
 It brought our pictures to life, a lot like a scrapbook, but without all the time and supplies needed.

They are so easy to make.

You can include so much more from your year without the clutter. For example; art work, screen shots of text messages or Facebook posts, birthday cards, report cards or school assignments, school programs or invitations, vacation mementos and much more.

I could easily customize it and document stats about the boys, letters I write to them on their birthdays, a day in the life, excerpts from my blog, and anything else I want to remember.

All the pictures and book are backed up on their site and can be reordered at any time. I really love this because I want each one of our kids to have a copy.  

 Once I figured out what I wanted to do, the real issue emerged. Where do I even begin?! Since my scrapbooking attempts failed, I had thousands of pictures dating back to 2013, when Kona was born. I was so overwhelmed and once again did nothing. I knew what I wanted, knew how I wanted the books to look, but didn't know where to start. I knew I had to do one year at a time and not even think about the other years. Once I looked at each year individually and not the enormity of the whole project, I was able to take a deep breath and get started.

How I got started:
I decided to start with 2016 and work my way backwards through the years. I decided to do it this way so all the memories were fresh in my mind. I knew this was super important because I didn't want to get discouraged with starting in 2013 and quit.  

I made a list of all the special events, key holidays, and anything else I didn't want forget.

I gathered up all the SD cards, phones, and social media that had pictures.  

I texted our family and friends asking them to send me pictures I knew they had taken.

I made a yearly folder on my desk top with monthly folders inside.

I copied all the pictures, I wanted to go in the book, into the monthly folder.
I tried to be very selective here and not add every picture I had. 
Once I had all the pictures in the folders, I went back through and double checked I had all the special events I wrote down. I'm so glad I did this because there were a few I was missing.

Sorting all the pictures didn't take as long as I expected, which was a total relief because this was the part I was dreading. Once I got going I actually loved sorting them. It was so fun looking back through the year and seeing all the fun we had.
When all the pictures were sorted it was time to put the yearbook together! There are many different companies you can go with to make your book, but I went with Shutterfly. The reason I went with them was because of their discount codes. I got our $200 book down to less than $30! Their website was easy to use and I LOVE the way our book turned out. They had a bunch of different themes, page layouts, backgrounds and embellishments.  

Making The Book:
The first thing I did was pick a theme. Once I had a theme picked, I uploaded January's pictures. Shutterfly has an auto fill option, but I decided to manually lay out the pictures. I chose to do it this way, so groupings of pictures stayed together, and were the only pictures on that page. For example, Kai's monthly pictures, holidays, birthdays and such.

I made sure the "hide photos" button was on so pictures would hide as I used them. That way I wouldn't miss one and feel overwhelmed with trying to keep it all straight.

I began making the book by laying out all the pictures and then went back through and added embellishments and captions.

Once I had one month done, I would upload the next month and start laying out those pictures.

When I had the whole book done I picked a picture for the cover and for the first page. I also wrote a few notes about our year and the love I have for our family.
After the book was done I must have checked it over 4 times to make sure I didn't miss anything. I was so nervous to hit the purchase button! Once I did, I was so excited and couldn't wait for it to get here. Less than 2 weeks later I pulled up to my house and there was a orange box sitting on my step, with a book inside I will cherish forever.
The boys absolutely love looking through this book and talking about all the pictures. It's so fun to walk down memory lane with them. Kona gets such a kick out of all the funny pictures and the silly things he had done. I can't wait to show their girlfriends and wives one day! :)  
I'm so happy I finally made this a priority and to be honest it was nearly as bad as I was expecting. If you are thinking about making a family yearbook, but feel overwhelmed and don't know where to start, by biggest piece of advice is to start small. Give yourself a timeline, work on it a little bit every day and make it a priority. You will be so happy you did it! I'm kicking myself for putting this off as long as I did, but now that one is done I can't wait to make the rest.

Please let me know if you have any questions or if I can help in any way!

July 25, 2017

Sidewalk Chalk Paint

I love doing crafts with my kids in the summer. There is so much more room for creativity and experimenting. Plus, it keeps them entertained, which is always a win in my book! I've been seeing sidewalk chalk paint on Pinterest for the longest time and decided to try it out. So, on Friday, before it got to hot, the boys and I headed out to paint the driveway. We had the best time and the boys absolutely LOVED IT! This little craft is so easy to do and will keep kids of all ages entertained. I think Kai actually loved it more than Kona, but only because he couldn't believe I was letting him paint whatever his heart desired!

 Here's what you will need:
Food Coloring
 Cupcake Pan Or Small Cups

Kona helped me make the paint, which he thought was the coolest thing ever. We put about a tablespoon of cornstarch in each cup, added a little over a tablespoon full of water, and mixed it up until all the cornstarch dissolved and it became the consistency of paint. We then added our food coloring and mixed it in. I read to add equal parts water and cornstarch, but I found that it needed a little more water. I started with a tablespoon, mixed it up, and then added more.
 After we got all the colors mixed up I gave the boys their paint brushes and let them go crazy. We painted ladybugs, lightening bugs, dragons breathing fire, rainbows, flowers, suckers, Kona practiced his letters and Kai tried painting his legs every time he thought I wasn't looking. :)
The colors were so vibrant and beautiful when they dried. It was such a fun morning watching our driveway turn into a masterpiece. I can't wait to do it again this fall and turn our driveway into a pumpkin patch!

Happy Tuesday!

July 21, 2017

Summer Bucket List Update

Happy Friday! We are so excited the weekend is here. We don't have much planned for the weekend, except soaking up as much family time as we can. Low key family weekends are the best! We have had such a busy and fun week around here trying to beat the heat. We met our cousins at the zoo, met friends at the splash park, went to story time at our local book store, played what feels like 100 hours of baseball and made sun pancakes for breakfast.
With a little over a month left, until Kona starts preschool, I thought it was the perfect time to update our summer bucket list. This summer has been full of many firsts and unforgettable moments, I can't wait to see what else is in store!

1. Go To A Concert In The Park.
2. Have A Water Balloon Fight.
3. Celebrate Kona's 4th Birthday And My 30th!
Our sweet boy turned 4 a few weeks ago and I seriously can't believe it! We celebrated with a dinosaur themed party and had the best time!  
4. Camp In The Back Yard.
5. Go To A Baseball Game.
6. Go Fishing.
7. Make Ice Cream Sandwiches.
8. Watch A Movie At The Drive In Theater.
A few weeks ago, we took Kona to see Cars 3 at the drive in and he was in awe. My cousin came over to watch Kai (since the movie started so late) and we had the best time. Watching his eyes light up, as we sat under the stars eating pizza, is a night I will never forget.
9. Make Sno Cones.
10. Go To The Splash Pad.
The boys had such a fun morning running, splashing, and chasing me with cups full of water!
11. Take Donuts and Coffee To The Park.
Kai couldn't eat his donut fast enough. Can you tell by the look on his face?!
12. Go To The Farmers Market.
13. Get A Treat From The Ice Cream Truck. 
I don't know if this one is going to happen this year, and I'm a little bummed about it! Running after the ice cream truck brings back so many memories of my childhood. My Great Grandparents would watch my cousins and I in the summer, and we would run down the street to get some ice cream, with my Great Grandpa running behind us. I cherish those memories and hope to make these same memories with the boys. Hopefully a ice cream truck will come by soon!
14. Make A Pizza On The Grill.
15. Jump In The Rain Puddles.
16. Take Kai On His First Fair Ride!
17. Watch Hot Air Balloons Fly Over The City.
18. Build A Sand Castle.
19. Try A New S'more Recipe.
20. Run Through The Sprinklers.
Running through the sprinklers, quickly turned in to playing golf in the sprinklers!
21. Sip Margaritas And Watch The Sun Set.
22. Watch Fireworks.
We had the best 4th of July, and Kona now thinks fireworks should happen every day. Me too buddy, me too :) Both boys sat through the fireworks show with big eyes and Kai kept yelling "boom, boom!" It was our best 4th of July yet, and I can't wait for next year!

23. Definitely last but not least, I want to enjoy every single crazy, messy and beautiful moment this summer has to offer!

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

July 19, 2017

12 Ways To Support A Grieving Friend

It was two days after Thanksgiving when I received the worst phone call of my life. My Mom was in ICU and not expected to live. That day is seared in my brain, and without a moments notice, I'm taken back to the day my journey with grief began, and life took on a whole new meaning. Losing someone you love is life changing. It alters not only you, but everything you have ever known and believed in.

Before my Mom passed away I thought I had a very good idea of what grief was, what it did to the body and the different stages. I studied human services in college, took bereavement classes and did a internship with a pastor at a nursing home and the director of a funeral home. I knew a great deal about grief, but when it happened to me, all of my education went right out the window. I learned there is so much more to grief than what can be read in a book.

Grief is individual. It affects everybody differently. Yet, one thing is true across the board, everybody needs support. It can be hard to know how to help a friend who is grieving. You may wonder what is the right thing to do. You don't want to say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing, or make your friend upset. But the reality is, your friend needs you more than ever right now. They need you to say or do something, anything. They need your love and support during this time even if they seem to be doing okay. The love and kindness you showed them during the hardest days of their life, will never be forgotten.


1. Bring Them Food.
Bringing food is such a wonderful way to support your friend. While my Mom was in the hospital, I was there around the clock. Having food brought to J.D. and Kona was such a blessing and one thing we didn't have to worry about. If you are going to bring your friend food here a few things to consider.
Bring food several weeks after the funeral.
Sometimes there can be such a large amount of food, it can be overwhelming and much of it goes to waste.
Bring breakfast or snacks instead of dinner.
If your friend has little kids snacks are extremely helpful. One of my friends brought oranges, carrots, hummus and chips, along with a freezer meal. It was wonderful having something healthy to give Kona in the afternoons.
Put together a food schedule.
So many people want to bring food it can be overwhelming. Answering all of the text messages, phone calls and trying to schedule it all can often times be too much. Having one person schedule it all is amazing. It relieves so much stress and is truly a life savor.
Bring a freezer meal.
A freezer meal is such a great option. Your friend can pop it in the oven or crockpot whenever they are ready. It reduces the amount of waste and helps your friend on the days grief washes over them.

2. Let Them Talk.
Sometimes, the most obvious way to support your friend is the best. Talk to them even if you don't know what to say. Saying something is a million times better than saying nothing at all. Give your friend a safe space to talk about whatever is on their minds. If they want to cry, give them a shoulder to cry on. If they want to tell stories, share any you may have. Ask them how they are doing and ask them often. It is hard for me to just start talking about my feelings, but if a friend asks me, I will always talk.

3. Send Cards.
Flowers are beautiful and always lift spirits, but they don't last. Cards can be held onto forever and looked at when your friend needs uplifting messages the most. One idea, is to send a card every month during the first year. Your friend will cherish these cards and you never know, they might receive one on a day they needed it the most.

4. Put Together A Care Package.
A box or tea, coffee, bath salts, essential oils, slippers, book or a journal can go so far. Remind your friend to take some time for themselves and how caring for themselves is so important during this time.

5. Anticipate What They Need.
Whatever you do, please don't say, "Call me if you need anything." Your friend needs so much right now, but they won't call. It's not because they don't believe you or think you won't help. It's because identifying the need, remembering who said they would help and picking up the phone to call is beyond their capacity right now. So many people want to help and would do anything, but leave it up to the griever to make the decisions. Instead, tell your friend what you will do for them and when you will do it. One of my best friends would call and say "I'm going to pick up Kona tomorrow so you and J.D. can be at the hospital together." Another friend went grocery shopping for me. Another brought me food and coffee while in the hospital. If it wasn't for them telling me what they were going to do, I wouldn't have asked.

6. Be The Middle Man.
One of my best friends at work would send out emails, updating everyone on how my Mom was doing, how I was doing, and when funeral services would be. She arranged a gift card donation to help us cover the costs of being out of work for so long. She answered the questions I was too weak and drained to. Being the middle man helps your friend to focus on their loved one and the hard decisions they are having to make.

7. Talk About Their Loved One.
Don't be scared to talk about your friends loved one. If there is one thing I loved doing after my Mom passed away, it was talking about her. Talking about her smile, laugh, kindness and genuine love for life always brought a smile to my face. I didn't want my Mom's memory to start fading or for people to forget about her. I couldn't get enough of the stories and memories people had of her. Hearing her name and how she impacted peoples lives was therapeutic. If you have memories, pictures or videos of your friends loved one, share them. Talk about what you remember even if it seems so small. Because to your friend, that memory is anything but small.

8. Remember Special Dates.
Birthdates, death dates, anniversaries, Mother's Day and Father's Day can be extremely hard days. These days are filled with so much anxiety, heart break and reminders. Let your friend know that you are there for them and that you haven't forgotten these important dates. My Mom's birthdate, death date and Mother's day are the hardest days of the year for me. I have so much anxiety the day before, I want to crawl out of my skin. The memories come flooding back and the pain becomes intense and raw again. My friends have showered me with love on those days and have carried me through. Some different ways they have supported me on these days are with coffee, donuts, my favorite treats, flowers, plants and cards.

9. Stick With Them Past The Funeral.
In the days following my Mom's death and funeral I was in total shock. I was completely numb and my brain hadn't processed what had happened. It wasn't until a few weeks after the funeral, that grief really started setting in. By this time, when I needed support the most, many people had gone back to their lives. If your friend has lost a loved one they still need you weeks, months and years after the funeral. Keep showing up for them time and time again even if they seem to be "okay". I will never forget those who stood by me, cried with me, and ask about how I was doing long after the funeral.

10. Offer To Attend Support Groups With Them.
Going to support groups was the best thing I did for myself after my Mom passed away. My Dad, Grandma and I would go every Tuesday and then out to dinner. I'm so grateful I had my family to go with, because at first, I was so intimidated. I was scared to talk about my feelings, about crying too much, not crying enough, and not grieving the way I thought I should be. I had already been through so much I didn't want to relive what happened. A little over two years later, and I'm so thankful I went to these support groups. I leaned so much, cried my eyes out, felt heard, supported and loved. I will never forget the people in our support group. They will forever hold a special place in my heart and I think about them often. If your friend doesn't want to attend support groups or doesn't have anyone to go with, I urge you to offer to go with them. Let your friend know that they are not in this journey alone and that you will be there for them no matter what.

11. Pray For Them.
Praying for your friend and their family is one of the smallest, but most powerful things you can do. Praying for love, encouragement, guidance and peace can greatly impact your friends life.

12. Love Them Fearlessly.
Above everything else, give your friend all the love you can. Be there. Show up for them. Say something. Stand beside them when their world is dark. When they have so much pain, they feel like they are going to break. When the whole in their heart is so big, it fells like it's going to swallow them whole. Be willing to stand with them, without flinching or turning away, while they endure some of the darkest days of their life. Recognize the stages of grief and know that they will never "get over" the loss in their life. It will be with them forever, as will the love you gave to them.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13:7 


You can read more about my journey with grief here.


July 13, 2017

Birthday Traditions Kids Will Treasure

When I was growing up, my Mom always made my birthday so special. I remember waking up to the house being decorated, my favorite breakfast in the oven and her singing me Happy Birthday. The day would end with my favorite food for dinner and all my family coming over for cake and ice cream. My cousins and I would run around the house playing and always eat way too much sugar. I looked forward to my birthday all year long, and when it finally came I never wanted it to end because of the way she made me feel. She had a way of making me feel like my birthday was the only one in the world. When I think of my Mom, these are the days I think about. I think about all the love she gave me and how she made her little girls birthday some of the best days of her life. The overflowing amount of love she gave me on those days, is what I carry with me now and what I strive to give my boys.
One. Decorate their bedroom door.
This was the first year I decorated Kona's door and he was so surprised when he woke up. I had streamers left over from his party, that I hung from the door frame and taped a 4 I got from Target. The boys ran through the streamers for days and had the best time! Some other fun ideas would be to fill their bedroom floor with balloons, tape balloons all over their door, or tape streams from side to side on the trim of the door so they have to break through!

Two. Make a special breakfast.
Kona requested dinosaur pancakes for breakfast this year, so dinosaur pancakes it was. Kona got a stegosaurs and Kai got a volcano, because this mama didn't know how to make a T-rex. :)

Three. Do something they have never done before.
Last year we took Kona to his first movie in the theater and had the best time! When I was pregnant with Kona, it was announced that Finding Dory would come out a few weeks before his birthday, and we decided then it would be his first movie. It make the day so special and one I will never forget!

Four. Measure how tall they are.
J.D. make a growth chart before Kona turned one, and we love seeing how much the boys have grown from year to year. Kona also loves looking at it and talking about how little he use to be.

Five. Write down all their favorite things.
I found this free birthday book printable when Kona turned one, and love filling it out every year. It's so fun to go back and look at the answers from past year's. I know we will cherish these little interviews forever!

Six. Let them pick what's for dinner.
This was my favorite when I was little and I would always pick spaghetti. :) Whatever it may be, your kids will love picking dinner, and you won't have to fight with them to eat. A total win-win!

Seven. Sing Happy Birthday & have a special treat.
Kona loved the cake from his dinosaur birthday party, so I wanted to make him another one, only on a much smaller scale. In years past we have had snow cones, ice cream sandwiches, donuts and cupcakes. Just enough for a candle, a birthday wish and some singing!

Eight. End the night with sparklers.
With Kona's birthday around the 4th of July, what better way to end the day than with fireworks! We made sure to buy an extra box for Kai's birthday this year!
I love celebrating my boys birthday's, and pray that when they look back on their birthdays, they will know how truly loved they are.

July 10, 2017

At Home Date Night Ideas

Real date nights don't happen that often around here. With J.D.'s crazy work schedule, it can be hard to set aside time to go out on a date. So, we had to get creative, and come up with at home date night ideas for when the kids go to bed! All of these dates are so fun and I always look forward to when J.D. comes home early from work, we put the kids to bed, and go "out on a date." So put those kids to bed early tonight and have a date night!

One. Order take out, light a few candles & pop open a bottle of wine. This is our go-to date night idea, because if you have small children, you know dinner time can be a circus. Everybody needs something, forks are being dropped on the floor, milk is almost always being spilled, and just when J.D. and I get to sit down our food is cold & the kids say they are done. Eating dinner while it's hot, enjoying a glass of wine and having an adult conversation is easily one of our favorite things to do.

Two. Lay out some blankets and watch the stars. J.D. and I have also been known to grab the baby monitor and climb on top of the roof! There is something so romantic about watching the stars and making a wish on the shooting ones.

Three. Conversation starters. Sometimes it feels like all J.D. and I talk about are the kids, work & what's going on currently in our lives. We don't talk about our dreams, hopes & fears as much as we should. A while back I started looking online and found some amazing conversation starters. When J.D. is gone a lot for work or when life gets super hectic, we will bring these out to reconnect, and remember there is more to talk about than the kids!

Four. Sit on the patio, turn on some music & watch the sun set.

Five. Eat popcorn & play card games. J.D. and I both grew up playing card games and love playing together. It brings back so many wonderful childhood memories and I love making these memories with J.D. too. This is a perfect date night idea for winter, when you literally can't go anywhere!

Six. Have a picnic in the living room and watch a movie. This one is super fun and you can be as creative as you want with your picnic. You could have fondue, wine or beer tasting, or theme the evening with food and a movie from a different country!  

J.D. and I have been together for 12 years, and while so many things have changed, one thing remains the same. We love each other like crazy. These date night ideas might not be super fancy, or cost us much money, but they help up to reconnect, laugh, and make our marriage a priority.
What are your favorite at home date night ideas?

July 4, 2017

Happy Fourth Of July

 From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
Martin Luther King Jr.

Happy 4th of July! We wish everyone a wonderful and festive day! 


July 3, 2017

Sunday Fun + The Best Margaritas

Happy Monday! I hope you had a wonderful weekend! J.D. had to work on Saturday but was home yesterday, which can only mean one thing, Sunday Funday! Since J.D. guides his schedule changes from week to week and he works a lot of weekends. So when he is home, especially for 4th of July weekend, we tend to throw our hands in the air and have some fun. Kona has been wanting to have a water balloon fight, so after running errands, lunch, naps, and playing in the pool that's just what we did!

After our water balloon fight, where everyone ganged up on me I might add, I got busy making the boys rocked hot dogs. When I saw this idea I knew the boys would love it, and I love it too, because they always tend to eat better when their food is fun!

And 4th of July weekend isn't complete without a drink or two on the patio, while watching fireworks. Margaritas always feel so summery to me, especially when they are made with fresh watermelon. These margaritas are the easiest to make, with only 4 ingredients. I have always been intimidated by making margaritas, but once I found out how simple it could be, I was hooked. We have mixed this recipe up with different fruit and always love them.

For two margaritas you'll need:
8 oz. watermelon juice
4-5 oz. lime juice (we like ours extra tangy!)
4 oz. tequila

One. In a large blender blend up your watermelon and ice until you have the consistency you like.
Two. Juice the limes using a small hand juicer.
Three. Add tequila & lime juice to the watermelon and mix.
Four. Pour margaritas into glasses and garnish with slices of watermelon.
Five. Enjoy!

I hope everyone has a great day and the best 4th of July!