April 25, 2017

Alex's 2nd Birthday Party & Easter Recap

Alex turned T-W-O on Easter Sunday and had an egg-cellent weekend celebration! Our schedule was jam-packed on Saturday, starting with an egg hunt at church, followed by Audrey's soccer game, and ending with a party at the park with Alex's closest friends.

My parents drove up on Saturday morning to celebrate our Littlest Lady's big day with her, and got conjured into going to an egg hunt. The little ones found eggs and got their faces painted, and the big ones got to enjoy some donuts & juice. Of course, this made for precious memories and loads of fun.

After Audrey's soccer game, we came back to open presents and do some quick party prep work while the girls napped. Alex's birthday wishes came true when she got a Belle doll (that she calls Beast) and a toy vacuum! Nothing makes this little girl's heart happier than pretending to vacuum. (And if I fail at everything else as a parent, at least I've created a girl who appreciates clean floors!🤣)

Alex is an outdoor-loving babe with an April birthday, so it was only fitting to have her party at a park! It was also super easy to plan because there isn't much that can trump acres of green grass and amazing playground equipment.

We celebrated with pizza, cupcakes, & ice cream, and ended the party with a piñata. This was our family's first piñata busting experience and it definitely won't be our last. The kids had an absolute blast with it and it was so fun to watch!

Although we partied hard on Saturday, we still managed to get a good night's sleep and enjoy the Easter service at church. The girls enjoyed getting dressed in their Easter best, learning new songs at church, and getting to take home palm leaves and scream "Hosanna!"

We didn't have lunch plans because someone didn't have a home-cooked Easter meal planned. Not naming any names....moi...oops. So we ate at Texas Roadhouse and had the best time. The girls love the peanuts, rolls, and honey butter, and Robert & I love the fact that we can somewhat eat in peace. And Audrey was the best big sister and told the server that it was Alex's birthday and she wanted to sit in the saddle, so Alex yee-hawed it up!!

We had such a blast celebrating our sweet girl and our risen Savior! Thanks to everyone that called, texted, or came out to celebrate Alex on her special day and weekend!!

April 7, 2017

Spring Cleaning Essentials

I don't know about you, but I'm so ready for Spring! Our family enjoys spending time outdoors, so we appreciate the extra sunlight, green grass, & warmer temps. And as strange as it may sound, I also enjoy the annual ritual of spring cleaning.

I absolutely love how fresh, clean, and sparkly our home looks & smells after a good deep cleaning. And when I'm wrist deep in dirt & grime, I always wonder why I don't deep clean more often. I thought it was the time commitment that I'm afraid of. But our home is on the smaller side and only takes about 20 minutes to vacuum + 20 to dust + 15 for bathrooms + 30 to mop, etc. So I soon realized that I err on the side of lazy—no time issues here.

Now I have a new cleaning motto which is: Frequent quality cleaning = less hassle in the long run.

Even though I'm cleaning more frequently, I don't have to deep clean as often and my house stays healthy and fresh! Here's the weekly cleaning schedule I follow:

Monday - Laundry
Tuesday - Vacuum & Dust (w/ Swiffer wand)
Wednesday - Bathrooms
Thursday - Kitchen
Friday - Vacuum & Dust (w/ wood spray)
Saturday & Sunday - No chores! (The benefits of having a small home!)

Now that I'm cleaning more frequently, I want to make sure the products I use are high quality, fresh smelling, and natural. My favorite brands are Mrs. Meyer's and Method cleaning products.

I buy the large bottles of Mrs. Meyer's Multi-Surface Concentrate and use on my kitchen & bathroom countertops. My favorite scents are Lavender and Lemon Verbena. I dilute the concentrate as directed on the bottle and pour into a reusable spray bottle. I'm teaching Audrey how to clean & do chores and this is a product I'm comfortable giving her to spray and use.

I use Method Daily Clean wood spray on our dining room table and all of our wooden furniture. I love the almond scent and it does such a good job of cleaning and keeping our wood streak and fingerprint free.

Finally, the Caldera Countertop Spray in Sea Salt Neroli is a HUGE splurge but the smell is amazing. I've had so many people comment on how great our house smells. And it wasn't because I was burning a candle or diffusing essential oils—it was the countertop cleaner. Can you believe it?!?!

One of the best parts about Grove Collaborative is that you can set up recurring orders. (I would compare it to Amazon Subscribe & Save.) It's perfect for busy moms because you can fill your cart with products and schedule them to be shipped out at future dates. I never have to worry about running out of cleaning products or having to take the whole crew into the store just for countertop cleaner. You can also change the ship dates (which I do a lot) so your products won't ship until you actually need them. Also, the prices are some of the lowest I've seen, which is always a huge plus for us!

To welcome and celebrate Spring, Grove Collaborative is giving new customers a FREE bottle of Mrs. Meyer's hand soap and $10 credit toward any purchase. Visit Grove Collaborative to take advantage of this special offer and stock up on my favorite spring cleaning supplies.

What are your favorite spring cleaning rituals and products to use? I'd love to get some tips!

This post was in partnership with Grove Collaborative, thank you for supporting the brands that support our blog!

March 31, 2017

Monthly Musings - March

It's a wee bit scary how quickly March has come and gone. I feel like time flies by faster and faster the older I get. I guess it's a good thing I blog—so I can look back when I'm old & senile to see what the younger me was about. Anyways, here are my thoughts on March....

Loving: The girls. Getting to stay at home with my girls (even on sassy attitude days) is one of the BIGGEST blessings ever. I love watching the girls grow & mature. They are such incredible little ladies!!

Reading: Missouri Life Insurance study guides. I read, read, and read some more, and I'm happy to report that I passed my exam and in the process of becoming a licensed producer!

I've also been reading Sun Stand Still by Steven Furtick. It's a book I highly recommend.

Listening to: a station called Brain Food on Spotify and Steven Furtick's 'I Can Handle It'

Eating: Good food!! Ever since we toured America's Test Kitchen last October, I've been obsessed with trying their recipes. I've made some really good things over the course of this month, with my favorite being Make-Ahead Chicken Pot Pie.

Wearing: Jeans & t-shirts. Shorts. Coats & winter hats. March weather has been insane.

Watching: I am now a huge fan of the highly acclaimed show, This Is Us. I just started watching the first season on Hulu and I. am. hooked.

Buying: Nothing—just paying off lots and lots of medical bills.

Wishing for: A bill break. Adulting is so overrated. Especially when all you want for Christmas is medical debt to be gone. 😝

Working on: Getting my Life Insurance license for the state of Missouri. I passed by exam and now have to wait on background checks and state approval. Then I'll be able to start helping friends!

I'm also working toward my first LipSense order (https://seneweb.senegence.com/us/contact/shop-now/  Distributor ID: 271902). Due to popularity, a lot of products have been out of stock so I haven't been able to get the colors I want. But I'll be placing my first order soon so let me know what you're interested in.

What are you loving right now?

March 17, 2017

Art Adventure & Donut Day

All the schools in our area have been on Spring Break this week, including Audrey's preschool. We weren't going anywhere and I didn't make any big plans. I figured we would enjoy the down time and make up some fun on the fly.

I hoped we would have good weather so we could spend our week outside. But we had summer weather in winter, and winter weather as we get closer to spring. Go figure.

We shifted gears and stayed indoors and that got old REALLY quick. We were all going a little stir crazy so I decided to take the girls to play in the Family Art Lab at our local art museum.

The Springfield Art Museum offers FREE admission and has a very nice Family Art Lab. The Art Lab has Magnatiles, puzzles, books, a dress-up corner, and lots of fun foam blocks and toys to tincker with. Best of all, it's someplace that we don't visit that often, so the girls were super excited!

After hanging out in the Art Lab for a while, the girls started asking for snacks. (Oh the life of a toddler!) Unbeknownst to the girls, I had planned on taking them to Hurt's Donuts.

Hurt's Donuts is a donut lovers heaven. They have a HUGE selection of donuts—regular and gourmet. Audrey always asks for the gumball donut. We get the pink frosted donut with sprinkles for Alex. And I always opt for the salted caramel chocolate donut.

If you were a fly on the wall, you would've seen how comical our crew was. Audrey is a very neat donut eater. She dropped very few crumbs and her hands and face stayed glaze-free. But Alex—oh my—I could've used an entire case of wipes trying to get her clean.

Even though our Spring Break date got messy, I'm so thankful that I get to do life with these little girls! They bring me so much joy—mess and all.

March 14, 2017

Going All In

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word conservative is defined as: tending or disposed to maintain existing views, conditions, or institutions; marked by moderation or caution; marked by or relating to traditional norms of taste, elegance, style, or manners. I am the very definition of conservative. I don't like taking risks. I always play it safe. I never make a move unless I'm 99.999% sure that I'll succeed. And to top it off, I'm very indecisive.

I grew up in an uber conservative home with very indecisive parents. My parents never did anything foolish and they expected me to follow suit. Nobody ever made decisions, and if we did, it took years and years before deciding.

There's nothing wrong with being conservative and wanting to be sure of your choices. And I think it's best to make wise choices rather than foolish ones. But I recently read a book by Mark Batterson entitled All In, that forced me to reconsider the way I've been my living life.

All In was one of those books that I could not put down. I took so many notes and wanted to share some of my favorite take-aways.

"King Saul played life not to lose. Jonathan played to win. That's the difference between fear and faith. If you let fear dictate your decisions, you will live defensively, reactively, cautiously. Living by faith is playing offense with your life. It's the difference between holding out on God and going all out for God."

(Referring to the parable of the talents....) "The man who buried his bag of gold wasn't willing to gamble on God. He didn't ante up. And that's the point of this parable: faith is pushing all of your chips to the middle of the table. It's all or nothing."

"In the Hebrew language, there is no distinction between knowing and doing. Knowing is doing and doing is knowing. In other words, if you aren't doing it, then you don't really know it. It's time to go ALL IN."

"Faith is the willingness to look foolish."

"You cannot be the hands and feet of Jesus if you're sitting on your butt."

"You ARE the church. Your workplace is your mission field. Your job is your sermon. Your colleagues are your congregation."

"2,000 years ago, Jesus said GO. We've been given a green light to go for it. But don't let seeking the will of God be the cop-out that keeps you from going all out."

"Going all out for God always starts with one step of faith. It's often the longest, hardest, and scariest step. But when we make a move that is motivated by God's glory, it moves the hand and heart of God."

Since finishing this book, I feel like God has really been working on my heart. He's been challenging me in ways that I'm not comfortable with. He's called me to step out in faith. He's taught me that faithfulness is not holding down the fort—it's storming the gates of hell and taking back enemy territory that belongs to God. To stop pointing out problems with the world and become part of the solution by CHANGING it.  

Stepping out in obedience is scary. I don't want to look foolish. I have a fear of the unknown and don't want my family to experience setbacks because of my choices. But I've reached the moment when enough is enough. I've realized that my job is to be obedient to Him no matter what. To reject the status quo. To go ALL IN.

"If we wait until we're ready, we'll be waiting the rest of our lives.
We'll never have the human or financial resources to do 
what God has called us to do.
And if we do, our dream is too small."

Please keep our family in your prayers, as we're praying for some BIG things. God-sized things that only He can manifest. It's bigger than us. Bigger than our financial resources. Bigger than what we have the power to do. But we're ready to make our mark. We're ready to change history. And we're ready to do it for the glory of His name.

Soli deo gloria

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