Giveaway: Freshly Picked Moccasins

Are these baby moccasins not the cutest things ever? They have been featured in Parenting Magazine, IN TOUCH, US weekly and People.com just to name a few! 
Both my girls have a pair and let me start by telling you that they are just as wonderful as they look! 

What I love about them:
They are well designed
Easy for my toddler to put on herself
Stay on my baby's feet without falling off!
Can be dressed up or worn causal 
They come in so many fun colors
So soft and comfortable 
100% genuine leather
durable- they do scuff on the bottoms, but what shoes don't? 

Are you convinced your child needs a pair?!

Enter to win a pair of your color/size of choice. Visit Freshly Picked to view all the beautiful colors!
Good luck! A winner will be announced Friday, July 4th by 12pm. 


Summer BORED Acronym- Read a book.

I love this BORED acronym. I will be addressing each of these items, over the next few days... sorry, not in order though. Today- R- read a book!

We love books at our home. I taught preschool and so was fortunate enough to have a lot of books donated to me as well as purchased a lot of books along the way, so my girls have a nice library full of classics and fun, random books. They have a book shelf full of books as well as both of them have a basket of books in their rooms and we have a basket of books in our front room as well. We visit the library frequently and love checking out new books. Books can get expensive, so join your local library and check them out. Also, check with your library, but I know mine does a book sale every year where they sell old library books to make room for some new ones. We have got a lot of nice books for .25- $1.00 that way. Also, check yard sales!

I have a toddler and a preschooler at home. We read books daily before naps and before bedtime. It is part of our routine that both girls enjoy. My 3 year old is loving reading Disney Princess books right now and my 16 month old loves any book with animals, especially doggies. Do you have a reading routine? What are some of your children's favorites? I will have to share some our favorites, but will save that for another post.

I have several friends with elementary school age children, who find summer kind of difficult having their children home all day and trying to entertain them.  Reading should be part of their every day. If they are bored have them refer to the BORED acronym. Here are some links to reading logs, reading programs to check out. Make reading time part of their every day and make it fun!

Check with your local library for a summer reading program as well. My 3 year old is so excited to complete her reading chart so she can bring it back to the library for a free book and a ticket to a local museum. Book stores also have story times that can be fun during the summer. I know our local Barns and Noble has a cute pajama time story night, which we will be attending as well as a 5 Little Monkeys Storytime/craft.

For daily reading at home take a look at some of the links for some ideas to make reading something they look forward to and enjoy.

For older kids that can write or even children that can draw, create a reading journal to write book reviews. Follow this link to find the "READ" letters to download as well as a reading and a downloadable rating system.

Reading chart for little ones. Follow the link for free download.  Includes June, July and August. 

Check out these fun photo bookmarks. 

NoTimeForFlashcards.com (check out the link) has 25 great books ideas with family outings. I know we will be checking out and doing some of these activities this summer.

Summer Reading Bucket List

Check out Barns and Noble's Summer Reading Program. Your children can earn a free book. 

Pottery Barn Kids also has a weekly story time as well as a summer reading program where they can earn a free book. If you have one near you, check it out! Follow the link to find a store near you for events as well as the summer reading challenge book list.

For the extra ambitious, could you make me one of these too?! Click here for a tutorial for a fun reading teepee. Now, who wouldn't want to relax and read in a teepee?


30 Day Mom Challenge

It's not the beginning of the month, but 30 days is 30 days whenever you start it, right? How many things have you said, you'll start "tomorrow" or start on "Monday"? I'm deciding to start this challenge today! This will be at the top of my "to-do". Heaven knows my ever growing list hasn't been touched with a teething baby at home, but if I get anything done I know that loving my children is the most important. 


The Gift Givers Guide

Father's Day is just a few short days away! I have posted a few DIY gift ideas,  but for those that are not "do it yourselfers" or are needing some more ideas, check these out! There is sure to be something to appease any father. Love the bacon scented soap. I think my hubby would get a kick out of it!
Check out the infographic below and follow this link for more info on each gift!

Gifts for Guys for Father's Day by GreatClubs.com
Brought to you by: GreatClubs.com


DIY Themed Father's Day Ideas

To the new dad! 

Follow this link to a free printable!

For the dad with a sweet tooth. 

To the dad who loves golf.

Aren't these cupcakes adorable? 

Dad is “T”-rrific!  Let him know just how much. Create this fun golf tee jar out of an old Ragu’ sauce jar and fill it with golf tees that have little messages written on the sides of each tee. Ideas from http://www.kmckaydesigns.com/projects/fathers-day-projects/

Father's Day for the Fisherman

Tackle box full of treats!

Find the free printable for What A Catch here !

For the football loving dad.

Cutest Onesie. Tutorial here.

Love The Dating Divas. Check out their football themed date idea

Recipe here.

Father's Day for the Superhero!
This is a Father's Day we did for my husband last year. Check out my previous blog post all about it! 

Happy Father's Day to the tie-riffic dad!

This is from my husband's first Father's Day. No tutorials or anything, but just a few ideas.

Follow this link for more details. 


Beyond Toddlers: Summer Fun Ideas for the Older Ones

I would have loved this activity as a kid! 

Button Frames- Would be fun for them to decorate frame and put a fun summer memory photo inside it.

How cute are these Origami Bookmarks?

A lemonade stand is a must!  Follow this link for a tutorial on how to make this easy stand. 

Making friendship bracelets was one of my favorite activities growing up and some of my fondest memories. Check out this easy tutorial for a classic.


All Star Mom: Candi- " I used to feel guilty for having a clean home"

Meet Candi! She is a mom of 2 boys, a beautiful wife, a twin, a dental hygienist and a great friend. If I had to nominate someone for Mother of the Year, it would be her! She is so uplifting and inspiring. She is constantly trying to improve herself and better her home and family. She gives several resources that help make her life easier, which several of the programs she uses I can attest to, as I use several of them myself.

I Used to Feel Guilty For Having a Clean Home

This is me and my first born son. I smile when I look at this photo because I had no idea the journey that would take place. 

I sat down looking across the table at a therapist wearing a bright yellow cardigan, a crisp navy-blue button down shirt, perfectly curled hair and a bubble necklace with coordinating ballet flats.  I nervously smiled as I told her a little about myself and explained that I wasn’t sure if I needed to be seeing a counselor or a life coach.

Then I blurted out “I feel guilty for having a clean house!!” (The look she gave me confirmed that I indeed was in the right place!)

I started talking about the guilt I felt as a mother, not for what I was doing, but for what I wasn’t doing.  If I cleaned my house then I felt guilty for not giving attention to my kids, if I was reading a book I felt guilty for not serving my neighbors and I went on&on&on…  She blurted out “that sounds exhausting!” I assured her it really was!

Most of all I felt guilty that I didn’t feel present and I feared I was going to miss my children’s childhoods…I would hear moms make comments like “forget the dishes and burn the to-do list- don’t pass up making a memory with your child”.   And “your children are small once, you’ll regret doing anything but cherishing your time with them.” 

So I would do just that, leave the dishes…only to spend twice as long later scrubbing dried food off pans.  I would rip up my to-do list-only to have an overwhelming feeling looming over me that I was forgetting something (and inevitable crisis when I actually did forget something important!)

Every time I would put my hands in the sudsy water to do dishes I would have a wave of panic wash over me…..What memory am I missing?! , I’m a horrible mom I would comment to myself.  I would begrudgingly leave the dishes and sit by my two year old, who was happily playing trains by himself, not really wanting me to join in.  I would try to join in and be completely present but couldn’t shake the distractions and turmoil swirling around me.  I would get to the point where I couldn’t stand it any longer and I would clean& clean& clean (and feel like a horrible mom the whole time).

After one cleaning spirt a well meaning friend commented on how clean my home was. She went on to say that she used to have a clean house like mine, but decided it was more important to spend time with her kids. 

 I wondered how she was able to do that and why I couldn’t.   On one hand I felt self-conscious if my home was clean and on theother self-conscious if it wasn’t.

Then a miracle happened when I learned the concept of Practices vs. Principals, it just clicked! My guilt was lifted, I felt free..I realized that I had been so consumed with the practice of how other moms were being present with their families that I had lost focus of the actual principal I was shooting for.

I once heard “in motherhood we are all in the same ocean but different boats” No two mothers lives are the same and there are a million different practices to be a mom that is mindful and present with her family.

I decided to do what worked for my unique personality, family and circumstances and not what worked for another mom.

I found that I work best by having trusty systems and routines that allow me to maintain life and not feel like I have to do everything at once.

Here are the practices that work for me to reach the principal of being present (and the beautiful thing is something totally different might work better for you).   

I use the Mind Organization for Moms program to bring order to my paperwork and to file all of my ideas.  I cannot explain the freedom that my brain has knowing that no ideas or tasks will get lost but instead moved forward when its convenient for me.  Imagine not having anything on your brain!!! It's awesome!! http://powerofmoms.com/previous-store/m-o-m/

*I’ve involved my whole family in this simple cleaning schedule. I find freedom in quickly spending time each morning and evening. We tweaked it a bit (I do a load of laundry most days and sometimes do the daily chores on Saturdays) but we always do the morning and evening chores. My home is tidy and it isn't a big deal to maintain.

*My husband and I use the YNAB budgeting system for our finances. 

*I have menu plan now with theme days and 7-10 recipes in a binder for each day (Mon.=Healthy, Tue.=Mexican, Wed= Breakfast, Thurs=Comfort, Fri=Pizza, Sat= Grill and Sun=Crockpot).  I remember the principal behind family meals is gathering and connecting. I do like having well balanced meals but the consistently connecting is what's the most important 

*I spend a ½ hour each evening rotating between different areas that need attention. My counselor really stressed that I can't do everything at the same time. I found instead of using my discretionary time each evening on social media that rotating between important items gives me a whole lot more balance.  (Mon= Finances,  Tues=Parenting, Wed=My career, Thur=Menu, Fri= DATE, Sat=Reading, Sun=Planning  the week.)

*I ground my self each day with connecting with my Heavenly Father through prayer and scripture study and exercising. Mike and I also spend time each evening praying, studying scriptures together and talking. We watch a 10 minute parenting class from Amy Mcreedy and spend 30 seconds checking in on our finances http://www.positiveparentingsolutions.com

*My husband and I were inspired by this blog to calendar out our entire year to make sure essential things took place in our lives. And I found this awesome planner.

I found that not having to worry about forgetting something important, how much money we had, what we were going to have for dinner, if we had any clean dishes/ laundry, my career or key relationships made a huge difference.  The idea of “keeping up” instead of feeling like I had to “catch up” works for me.  

A few days ago I set up a shoelace and cheerios for my toddler to string.  The activity didn’t go as planned.  As I began showing my little boy how to string cheerios he began eating them as fast as I could string.  My immediate reaction was to make him stop and string the shoelace properly, but I paused and quietly whispered “choose the principal over the practice”.  The principle behind me sitting down with him was to feel close  and strengthen our relationship.   I didn’t allow myself to get caught with the actual practice of stringing cheerios.  I spent 10 minutes stringing while he giggled and ate and I felt peaceful, clear, focused and best of all present. 


Toddler Summer Fun Ideas

Fruit kabobs- Cut up your child's favorite fruits and have them put them on toothpicks or even wooden kabob skewers, for mini fruit kabobs. Grapes, orange pieces, kiwi, watermelon, cantaloupe... children always seem to eat the food they contribute to better! Such a yummy, fresh snack! 

Have a "Car Wash". What kid doesn't love to play in water? Bubbles are always an added bonus!

Painting with water- such a simple activity that is sure to keep your little one busy and cool

Ice Chalk | half cornstarch, half water, plenty of food coloring, pour it into ice cube trays, and freeze

Sun Catchers- Supplies: tissue paper, contact paper, scissors, hold punch and string.
Have children cut or tear tissue paper and stick to contact paper, cut out a shape, hold punch and hang in a window and watch the sun shine through it!