Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Keep Little Hands Organized and Busy



I love 31 bags...all of them...I haven't met one I didn't like!  So, I was super happy when I found a new "justification" for purchasing yet another piece.  I took the "Timeless Beauty Bag" and turned it into a traveling craft station for my three year old daughter.  She spends three hours a week watching her brothers at Tae Kwon Do.  My purse and bags are always overflowing with her crafts and anything to keep her entertained and busy.  I decided to call it her Busy Bag".  It turned out so cute and the best part is, it is so functional.  Take a look!


This is the front of the bag when it is closed.

The inside of the bag has so much room.  I was able to fit paper, crayons, several sticker sheets, a small note pad, map pencils, and lacing cards with laces.  

This pocket just kept expanding.  I was so surprised at how much stuff it held.

I love how the pencil tips are protected by a plastic flap.  Also, I still have one empty pocket.  When we went to Tae Kwon Do yesterday, I filled the empty pocket with some tiny princesses that she loves to play with.


All three of my kids love to play with the lacing cards, even my 8 (almost 9) year old.


Everything is pack away and organized.

I plan to switch out crafts to keep her from getting bored.  She loves the bag and also enjoys carrying it all my herself! :)

This gets an A++!  I think I need to buy another one... :)














Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Back To School Party at Ma's!!!

Last Friday, my mom held a party for the kids in honor of going back to school.  She planned and planned and planned for the grand event. :)  On the agenda, school-inspired crafts, sack lunches, "homework helper" goodie bags, and a surprise field trip.  I was told to drop the kids off at her house around 10:30am and she would bring them home at 2:30pm.  That's right....you guessed it, I was not invited!!! :)  I had four hours of "me time".  Woohoo, now that is a reason to celebrate going back to school! :)

The kids received an invitation the week before.  My oldest son read the invitation aloud to the younger two.  As expected, everyone got really excited and wanted the party to begin that very moment.

Invitation
Each child received their own invitation written in their favorite colors.

Homework Helper Goodie Bags
Mom's yummy apple shaped sugar cookies.

This was my favorite part.  The large bag in front was loaded with food, snacks, and fun items for the kids' lunch boxes.

Each child has a place set at the table.  It included apple sugar cookies ("You're One Smart Cookie"), fancy pencils ("You Are Sharp"), easels with name and grade, a globe, and a small container of M&M's.

Foam pencil boxes and bookmarks to decorate 

Working hard on their crafts


Eating sack lunches on the patio.  A field trip to McDonalds (for ice cream) followed lunch.

Such a great way to end the summer and head back to school!  Thank you Ma!!!

Elizabeth

Monday, August 26, 2013

Our First Day, God's Plan, and Clear Across Town

Ahhh, the first day of school....

Scratch that, OH MY WORD, THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!!!!  How can this be, how did it get here so fast?!

Today, my oldest son begins 3rd grade and our youngest son begins Kindergarten.  Wow!  I cannot believe the summer is over.  Both boys are starting the year at a new school, located clear across town.  Why?  This question should be complicated but it is actually quite easy to answer.

Why? It was God's plan.

It has become quite clear to my husband and I that God has been placing just the right people in our path.

It began four years ago when we met a volunteer at church.  She was our youngest son's teacher in the nursery.  Little did we know (at the time) that she would be one of our biggest influences in sending our sons to a tiny elementary (clear across town).

It continued two years ago when my oldest son joined Cub Scouts.  His Pack Master would lead us to a wonderful woman who just happens to be the principal at our new school (clear across town).  Her grandson is also in our Cub Scout den.

A few months ago, we really began to entertain the idea of going to this new school (clear across town).  We prayed and prayed and prayed.  We had our Life Group, family members, friends, neighbors and anyone who would listen praying about our decision.  Then we noticed a few more connections.  My husband knew the school nurse from high school athletics.  The school librarian is a long time customer of my husband's family owned business.  The assistant principal has two sons (now Eagle Scouts) who were Cub Scouts under our Pack Master many years ago.  It seemed there was one connection after another.

This is an amazing display of God's hand, timing, love, and plan.  It dawned on me when we were leaving the school after Meet the Teacher, this is God's protective bubble that he has put into place just for our family.  Over the past four years, He has positioned just the right people in our path to help us transition and have a fresh start at a new school (clear across town).  I picture it like moving chess pieces around on a board.  It is absolutely amazing and mind-boggling all at the same time.  I am sure we will have some struggles as we transition, however, God has positioned just the right people at just the right time.  I must say the feeling is a bit overwhelming but it is also very peaceful.

I keep mentioning that the school is located clear across town because never in a million years would we have considered this tiny school.  Until a year ago, I wasn't even sure where it was located.  The school population is half the size of the schools in our neighborhood.  It is small in number but it feels so warm and large at heart.  It was hand picked for our kids by God, even if it is clear across town.  :)

I thought I would end with a few pictures from our morning.  It was raining outside so we had to take the pictures in the house.

Kindergarten!!!

Those dimples get him out of so much trouble!!!

He was so excited about his Angry Birds backpack.

Letting little sister in the picture.  Notice her clothing choices this morning....  :)

3rd Grade!!!

Played it safe and went with camo. :)

We were laughing at how big his backpack looks from the side.  He was definitely loaded down.

Could he look any older???

This is a pretty good picture for all three kids at 7am!

Much more accurate!

:)

After us girls got back home, it was time for homeschooling with Mommy.



Elizabeth























Thursday, August 22, 2013

Our Tradition for Baby Pictures



Not too long before our oldest son was born, my grandmother, "Grammy",  gave us a Texas A&M metal bucket.  My husband, his brother, and their father all graduated from Texas A&M so you know the Aggie Spirit is thick in our house. :)  My mom and I took it to a photo shoot when my son was almost 3 months old.  It was really hard to get him to sit up straight in the bucket.  If you look closely you can see a black sheet in the background.  That is actually my hand under the black sheet, holding him up.

"Our Oldest"
He really wasn't crazy about the idea but he decided to tolerate it.
(I scanned the pictures from the originals I keep framed.  Sorry, the scan quality is not great.)

When our youngest son was born, my mom and I dragged the bucket out and took it to his photo shoot.  He was more than happy to sit in the bucket without being held up.  Honestly, I think he was quite comfortable in it. :)

"Our Youngest Son"
See how happy he is, sitting up in the bucket! :) 
Those blue eyes still get me.

Well by now it was considered a tradition. :)  When our daughter was born...you know the story.  Except there was a moment of panic when I couldn't find the white blanket that had been used with the boys.  I think that is actually a towel shoved in the bucket.  Oh well...

"Our Daughter"
She was a bit older than the boys when we had the picture taken.  She cooperated but had a complete melt down when we took pictures in a different outfit.  I remember sweating and being way over heated  as I wrestled her into a new outfit. :)  You know, moms will do just about anything for a good picture!

These pictures are some of my most treasured keepsakes.  I keep them displayed in our entry way.  The kids are much older now (8, 5, 3) but these pictures will always be on display.  We will keep the bucket in the event they want it for their own children.  Unless, they go to the University of Texas... then they probably won't want it. :)  But then again, grandmas can be very convincing....

Elizabeth






Wednesday, August 21, 2013

White Chocolate Chip Cocoa Cookies


The kids have been asking me for cookies...okay, confession, I have been wanting some cookies. :)  But they never object and I never have to talk them into a batch of cookies.  So on Saturday, I decided to whip up a batch using ingredients I already had in the pantry.  Typically, I make chocolate chip or monster cookies (view recipe here) but I didn't have the ingredients for either one of those.  I did have white chocolate chips.  My mom always made a cookie that was chocolate with white chocolate chips.  As a kid, I aways referred to them as opposite cookies.  I didn't have the recipe on hand and she was out of town, so I improvised.  I must say they came out really good and I decided the recipe was worthy of being shared.

Ingredients:
1 stick  (1/2 cup) margarine, softened
1 stick (1/2 cup ) butter, softened
2 eggs
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup cocoa (you may want more depending on taste)
2 1/4 cups flour
1 package white chocolate chips

I am sure I am breaking all the rules when I say this but....dump everything into a stand mixer.  That's right, you heard me. )  After I cream the butter and sugar, I dump everything (except the white chocolate chips) in at once and then start the mixer on low.  I know you should really mix all of your dry ingredients and then all of wet ingredients and then slowly incorporate everything together.  BUT, I was having a major cookie craving - there wasn't any time to follow rules!  

If it makes you feel better, by all means, do it the correct way. :)

Scoop dough onto baking sheets.  Bake in 375 degree oven for 9-11 minutes.



Now, go grab a glass of ice cold milk, a cookie or two, or three, or.... and cozy up on the couch!

Enjoy!
Elizabeth





Saturday, August 17, 2013

Adorable K-Cup Storage



Earlier this summer, I posted about our DIY coffee bar.  It was a project that my husband and I put together.  We had kind of joked about having a coffee bar and now we have one!  We have enjoyed it so much.  I thought I would give a small update on our little coffee bar.  In the original post (view here), I had muffins in a small cake stand.  While they were extremely cute in their little home, they were also eaten as soon as the picture was taken. :)  We have since decided to use the cake stand to store our K-Cups.  It doesn't hold very many (I think about 8 cups), but it is so stink'in cute!  Take a look. :)


Not to sound like a complete nerd, but functional, cute, and organized makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. :)  Yes, I did just admit that!




I think the K-Cups actually look cuter than the muffins did.



Ahhhh, my coffee bar equals my happy place!

Elizabeth











Thursday, August 15, 2013

Medical ID Sports Band for Kids




My oldest son has worn a medical ID bracelet for the last six years.  Due to his Congenital Heart Disease, we require him to wear his bracelet the majority of the time (especially if he is not with us).  I have used the same company (Medical ID Store) year after year.  I have had many moms notice the bracelet and ask where we purchased it.  Here are the reasons I love this company:

  1. Their costumer service is great.  I have had to call before and I always get a super nice person to work with.
  2. I have always received our new bracelet within one week of placing the order.  This is super helpful when one goes missing...
  3. They have a HUGE selection of sports bands and bracelets for kids to pick from.  We have used a couple different styles and I have been happy with each one.  
  4. We have never had a misprint with the engraving.
  5. The bracelets are reasonably priced and they run specials throughout the year.
  6. Depending on the style of plate, you can fit quite a bit of information on the band.
  7. They are great for any type of medical issue, allergies, or any other crucial information.
My son actually prefers the sports bands over a bracelet.  The bands are very comfortable and easily adjustable.  Plus when they get wet they dry as good as new.

This is a close-up view of the plate.  As you can see, you can fit up to four lines of information on the front.  On the back of the plate, there is room for 4 emergency phone numbers.

This picture shows the clasp.  We have never had a clasp break or crack.

The best part...he loves wearing it.  I have never had to fight him about wearing his medical ID.  Once a year we sit down and pick out a new bracelet.  He always enjoys looking through all of the options and "creating" his band.


Elizabeth











Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Awesome School Lunch Containers



With school looming around the corner, it is time to test out some of our new supplies.  I love new backpacks, school supplies, and lunch boxes.  But sometimes, those new items aren't as functional as they are cute.  So, we must have a "dress rehearsal" before the first day.  Today, we are trying a new lunch container.  My great friend, Audra (A Cup of Daisies), recommended a lunch container by Sistema.  She said it was the perfect size to fit in a lunch box and it kept her sons' lunches from getting squished inside their bags.  I don't know about you, but I cannot handle a squished sandwich! :)  I knew if it met her expectations it would meet mine.  I was really impressed with the price, each container was approx. $5.  I purchased three containers (two for the boys and one for my daughter).  My daughter is not school aged, however, she will love having her lunch in a container like her brothers.  Plus, I can make her lunch the night before when I make the other lunches (another wonderful suggestion from my friend).  We plan to visit the boys for lunch so this will give her a reason to carry her lunch box (which she snuck it into the shopping cart when we were shopping for school supplies).  :)

Let's check out this snazzy little container. :)

It has three compartments (one for a sandwich and two for small sides).

The sandwich compartment has an attached lid which I think is a great idea.  It really keeps the bread from getting squished. The side compartments are big and roomy. 

Sandwich compartment with the lid closed

Everything folds up nice and neat.  My sons have average size lunch boxes.  This container leaves enough room in the lunch box for a drink, napkins, and one more small snack.

***  My kids are going through a "jam sandwich" phase.  That is all they want for lunch, bread and grape jam.  Is it the healthiest? No.  Am I concerned that others will judge the food in these pictures?  Not really. :)  I am not going to make a pretend lunch filled with the healthiest and cleanest food just to make my pictures beautiful.  I have to use what I know works...jam sandwiches.  My kids are normal and they eat normal food. :)  I am not saying that other kids don't eat those amazing and beautiful lunches (in the pictures) BUT my kids DO NOT.  They like...you guessed it, jam sandwiches.  

Just keepin it real, folks!  (I mean that in the most loving way, of course) :)

Here's to many happy lunches and un-squished bread!

Elizabeth

* The containers were purchased at our local grocery store (HEB), however, I looked online and you can also purchase them through Amazon.





Monday, August 12, 2013

Back to School Prep

Well, school starts two weeks from today.  Ugh, it makes my heart hurt.  I am going to miss my boys so much.  Our oldest will be starting 3rd grade and our youngest son will start kindergarten.  I will still have one kiddo at home to keep me company.  I have a sneaky feeling she will be glued to my hip and talk my ear off without having two brothers around.

Since school is about to start, we need to get back into our routine.  That means normal bedtime, waking up early and getting really strict with our High Fives.  We started this morning.  The kids got to hear my wonderful voice at 7am!!!  We will stick with that time for this week and then go to 6:30am next week.  Ugh....  I have to say, they did a pretty good job.  The High Fives have made such a huge difference.  The kids love it and everything gets done so much faster.

So... school clothes and supplies are bought, the kids' command center is organized and ready to go (view here), everyone is registered, and I am very emotional. :)  All that is left is Meet the Teacher and label supplies.  Looks like we are ready....sniff, sniff, sniff.  What day does summer start???

Elizabeth


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Back to School Organization

Please take a moment to hop over to the Organize It! Link Party - September.  This is an amazing way to get great ideas from the top organizing blogs.



Every year, my kitchen counter gets covered in papers, permission slips, newsletter, etc.  This year is going to be different! :)  My oldest son will be starting third grade and my youngest son will start kindergarten.  We are going to stay organized!!!

I found three great baskets at Target.  I hung two baskets on the wall (one for each child) and placed the largest basket on the floor for backpacks and lunch boxes.  I also added a clipboard for my oldest son.  He loves to plan and look at calendars (he gets that from me).  I figured he would really enjoy having his own calendar to note important dates.

Overall, I am very happy with the space.  Hopefully it will help keep the clutter off my kitchen counter. :)

Everything is located pretty high on the wall.  The folders are not for the kids, they are for me - my organization! :)


I love that my label maker has a school bus border.  The boys thought it was funny how long each bus had to be to contain the specific titles.


My daughter (3 years old) wanted to include her backpack, even though she will be staying home with me.  :)


As you can see, our oldest son has already started crossing off each day.  He has also added that on the 12th, Bubble Guppies will be brand new on NickJr.  :)


I love this Bible verse.  It is from Colossians 3:23.



Here's to an organized school year!!!

Elizabeth
I wonder what this wall will look like by May???