Thoughts On A Mini-Van

Last year, almost to the day, my husband and I got our mini-van.  We knew our life as a family of four was coming to an end, and we needed more space in a vehicle.  We thought about getting an SUV, but settled on the mini-van for now.  I wanted the automatic sliding doors, that was the deal breaker.  So here we are a year later and here are my thoughts.

1.  I still love the automatic sliding doors.  For school carpool they are perfect.

2.  It has stayed really neat and clean throughout the year.  It took me awhile to sort of set it up how I wanted, but I will say, that while I can store a lot in there, it doesn't feel messy or cluttered.  {Tip for keeping it clean:  DON'T ALLOW FOOD!  I know this is hard, but it makes such a difference.  It is my number one van rule, and while I break it some for long drives, if I do let them eat, it is something easier contained and not sticky, crumby or melty.}

3.  Select your stroller wisely.  I am guessing if you are cruising in a van AND reading my blog, you are a mom, probably with young kids.  I had a baby trend jogger and it took up SO much space in our trunk, we ended up buying the City Mini Baby Jogger because of how small it folds up (among other reasons)

4.  Completely clean out seasonally.  Why keep things in here you know you won't need for months.  When changing the items, it is also a good time to deep clean the seats and floors.

5.  While I do like some of the features of my van, it's still a van, no one drives one to look cool.  The space is nice, so I know I need that, but I think a nice big huge SUV will do next time (hear that hun?)   

6.  The travel potty = lifesaver.  You don't have one, or know what I'm talking about, get one!  They are not only great for travel, but also for playgrounds that don't have restrooms (or nasty ones), and the baseball fields that the restrooms are across 3 fields and you don't wanna miss your kids at bat.  (yes that happens every time.)

Head over to my YouTube Channel to check out the way I organize the inside of my van.

School Uniforms - Week One

School uniforms are a growing trend, not only among private schools, but also starting to make appearances in public schools as well.  My son's school was selected out of our division to be the first to transfer to uniforms, a pilot program to see how it goes.  

How I Feel About This??

Not that it really matters at this point, decisions have been made and it is what it is, there is no point in complaining about it.  In a lot of ways I understand using uniforms to make the school environment more conducive to learning.   On the other hand, kids are kids, let them be kids.  

As you can see, I really don't have a strong stance on this.  I can afford regular clothes just as easily as uniforms.  It really isn't going to impact our life that much.

My dilemma has been where to start, what pieces to buy, which to skip, how to change things up, what brands are best.  Which is where this series originated.  

How Have I Told My Kids?

So far only Matthew will be affected by this.  Also he doesn't have much to compare to.  Last year was kindergarten.  So he has only had 1 year in our elementary school.  We are still 1 month out from school starting, so we are trying to soak in summer.  I have told him that he will be wearing uniforms, but not gone into much detail.  I am more of a less is more kind of mom when it comes to conversations.  In the end he just has to understand that sometimes we have to do things we don't want to, and get over it. 

I feel once Lilly and even JD start school (who knows if this lasts that long, or we even live here) it would be easier starting it off from the beginning, not knowing any different.  There really wouldn't be any conversation to have, other than this is what we do as school.

Tips for Telling Your Kids:
1. Bring it up casually, of course the older they are, the bigger of an opinion about it they will have.  
2.  No Matter how you as a the parent feel about it, don't let that show.  If you portray a negative attitude, your kids will play off that too.  
3.  Have your kids come up with some positive aspects of the situation, you just telling them isn't going to do much, but them figuring some out will be better.
4.  If all else fails, go with the "Well these are the rules, and sometimes we have to do things we don't want.  End. Of. Story.

I was hoping to have found some information online about introducing the idea to the kids, and tips on what to buy, where to buy.... funny how all I came up with was debates and information on how great or awful of a concept it is.

So that's where I'm at, since I couldn't find much help online, I thought I would share my experience.  

SO.....over the next few weeks I am going to share what I feel is going to work for us.  
                                                    Week 2: Where To Buy
                                                    Week 3: Starting a Uniform Wardrobe
                                                    Week 4: Final Thoughts and Tips

Also PLEASE if you have any advice or tips please email me or comment!  I would love to hear from y'all!

Linking up with, KellyMegan, and Lindsay Trendy Tot Tuesday

52 Weeks Of Blogging With A Purpose : If I Could Turn Back Time

 Today I am once again linking up with Becky, for 52 weeks of blogging with a purpose, I love this series, the topics are great!  Anyway, this weeks topic is "If I Could Turn Back Time (And Do Something Over)".

 At first I wasn't going to participate this week.  Looking back and wanting to change isn't really my thing.  Anyone's life could be so different based on 1 decision.  DO I sometimes think how different things would be if we had gotten married, saved up a ton of money, bought our dream house, then had kids.... yea, I do.  But I wouldn't trade our life, our kids, or situation for anything....a bigger nicer house, and a stocked up bank account would be nice though!

So Anyway, yea, what were we talking about?!?  Turning back time and changing things.  I wouldn't change anything major, or drastic.  But I would capture my life differently.  

I love my blog, I have a record written out since March 2007.  That is a long time.  My first few years of blogging my platform was different.  It was a live journal, documenting the first months of marriage, the weeks leading up to the arrival of our son, living in a new place.  I love looking back and just reading for hours.  I have millions of photos.  I have scrapbooks, photo albums, them stored on disks, online, on computers.  One thing I wish I had.  Video.  I wish we would have recorded moments, to watch back when our kids are older.  Sit around on a rainy day and laugh for hours.
The irony of this entire thing.... Videography is part of my husband's job.  Working at our college tv station is actually how we met.  We have access to the best camera's available.  Yet, we have ZERO minutes of our life on tape.  

I wish we would have taped more, but then I guess there is always someone behind the camera, not living in that moment, but instead recording I guess it has it's trade offs. 
If I could Turn Back Time {And Do Something Over}
If I could Turn Back Time {And Do Something Over}

Looking at the few short clips of things I do have make me want to start recording more....because they grow so quick and sometimes pictures don't even capture their cuteness enough.

Confession : My Camera LIES!

SO here's the thing, I love taking photos.  I love using them in blog posts, but my camera lies.  The photos I take are of what I want people to see.  Real Life = A mess, most of the time.  Before I take photos of a project, child or activity, I take a look around, make sure there isn't a mess, whether it be on my living room floors, or kids faces.  

 Today  I am here to prove my point: 

{This is my dining room at 2pm, hours after lunch, and yep that is still all the lunch dishes on the table, capped off with a sippy cup and crumbs on the floor}

{One of the reasons the dishes are on the dining room table, because this is my kitchen sink.  #HomemakerFail}

{I do love organization and planning on paper, but this month, it hasn't gone too well.  There is NOTHING filled on for 3 weeks out of the month....and no we haven't done nothing all month long, maybe next month.}

{Above that would be my coat closet, the left photo, that would be today, and the right was just weeks ago when I did a blog post update with my new changes....HA}

{This was my "get through" pile during nap time, and 2 hours later still sitting there.... untouched.}

Lastly, I have stepped on more damn baby puffs today than I'd like to admit, it actually makes me contemplate getting a dog, just to go around cleaning up the food left on the I don't have to....

Life isn't perfect, my house is Definitely NOT perfect, my kids aren't perfect, and most of all I am not perfect.  Not. Even. Close.

The only perfect thing in my life, my husband ;)

Kid Bedroom Organization

Having 2 children share a room, no matter how big the room, or how young the kids, can get messy. Really any kid room is a very tricky thing to organize. You want the room to be clean and neat, but also functional for the child, it is their room after all. Here are some things I do to make my kids rooms, organized, but also kid friendly.

I say you can never have enough bins or containers.  I love these / these from JJ Cole Collections, and these from Target.  Everything has a "home" and even my 4 and 6 year old know where everything belongs.

I know this isn't an option for everyone, but if you have another room for playing, I would consider doing that.  Of course I have some space to play, and the kids are allowed to play in their rooms as they please, but I do limit the amount of toys upstairs.


These systems really work for us.  I still need to finish the file bins (labeling them and tabbing each grade) and will share more detail about them later.   Also the under the bed storage bins are great for anything really.  I use them for keepsakes, but they can be used for clothing, blankets....the list goes on.  I actually have some of these under my bed, one for wrapping paper/gift products the other for Christmas tags/tissue paper/ribbon.

For me what works is more bins.  Lillian's clothes we hand down to a niece, so as soon as I realize they are to small I throw them in the bin that is in the bottom of there closet, and once the bin is full I pack up the clothes for my sister-in-law.  Matthew's clothes we are saving for JD so once his bin is full we pack them up for our attic.  JD's clothes automatically get packed up for my sister-in-law also.  Clothes can get really overwhelming if they start piling up!

Be sure to check out my Youtube channel for a video walking you though my kids rooms in more detail. 

Also Check out these post for more info on their rooms!  
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Learning To Let Go : Just A Little

Being a mom, I think you learn just as much along the way as you are trying to teach your children.  These lessons come at different times, in the most ordinary moments.  This summer I have learned it sometimes is better to let go.

Let me explain.

This summer Matthew is doing summer baseball.  It's 3 nights a week.  The nice part is, my husband isn't really that busy with work during the summer, so he has not only been able to take him to practice, but also help coach.

It's great, they headed off to baseball in the evenings, I stay home with JD and Lilly, get housework done, get the housework finished for the day.

Why oh why do I end up looking at the clock the entire time, waiting for them to walk through the door to hear about his practice?  I can't stand to be out of any part of his life.  Obsessive much?  I have gotten SOOO much better with him going off to school, and actually have little to no anxiety with Lilly going to preschool in the fall.  I just wish I was there, to see him practice.  I guess I could head out to practice to watch anyway, but with the heat we have been having, mixed with a 6 month old getting hot and sticky in a stroller, I probably wouldn't get to watch much anyway.

It feel like a lot of situations kids face, how they react to it, is based on how the parents react.  I want my kids to be independent, self-sufficient  people.  I want them to want to do things on their own, and not to be forced to.  I want them to know how to behave, even when I am not around. Therefor I need to show them through my actions, that it is fine to be on there own.  To have times without me.

I guess I just don't want to miss a moment, even now, almost 6 years with Matthew here, I want to be there for everything, and that just isn't realistic.  It isn't possible.

This is a great experience my husband and son get to have, both sharing their love for a sport that they both really enjoy.  A time for them to be together without me there bossing them around.

So, I just need to learn to let go......just a little.

A Simple Sunday

Yesterday we had the perfect day.  Sometimes I forget how the simplest things, can make for the perfect day.

Our day started off with all three kids behaving through Mass, if that isn't a sign of a good day to come, I don't know what is.

We got home from church, changed into our suits and headed to the spray playground for the day.

This playground is one of my favorites, but it's a bit of a drive from our house, so we don't go too often.  It has a sprayground area, playground, sand area, picnic tables, tennis/basketball courts, and the bonus, bathrooms AND it's in the SHADE! 

Also look at JD actually participating in the playing and eating, where did my baby go?!?!?! 

It was the perfect summer weekend, and if your local check out Hayes Park in Arlington, It's so fun!

Sami's Shenanigans

5 On Friday

Today I am linking up with Darci, Natasha, Christina, and April for 5 on Friday!  I am so happy it's finally Friday.  Now if it would only bring some rain with it to cool things off during this terrible heat wave, I would be a happy girl.

{1} Yesterday I made a Target trip for some yogurt for the kids and of course came home with things that were not on my list (why does this happen every time?!?)  Anyway, The dollar section did it again, they have switched to classroom/back to school mode and I found some cute things for the playroom and some more workbooks to get us through summer, at $1 each, you can't beat it!  My new favorite pens are the steadtler fine point pens, and I FINALLY found a small pack that has 2 shades of purple.  Add in a Cherry Coke, and I call that a successful trip.

{2}  Yesterday was library day, our library is so nice, and a newer toy they have is a puppet show cute are my boys, Matthew putting on a show for his baby brother.

{3} Like I said it has been horribly hot out this week, which called for ice cream before lunch.  This is also currently my favorite outfit on Lilly. 

{4}  Ok, so I have been noticing JD looking more and more like his big brother, I I had to pull out an old (if 5ish years is considered old) photo to compare.... Matthew on the left and JD on the right..... Can we all agree that they are pretty much identical, and if JD grows up looking like his big bro that would be fine by me, I have a pretty handsome almost 6 year old if you ask me!

{5}Speaking of my awesome 6 year old.  He is really into the show Wipeout right now.  TBS happens to run reruns of it during the little kids nap time, and he thinks it is hilarious.  Now though he is starting to create wipeout zones in our playroom.  It is really cute, and can keep both kids occupied for hours, but also a bit scary!  The obstacle courses throughout my playroom remind me that sometimes just playing at home is just as fun for them as going on a big fancy play date.

Baby Food Storage - Tips and Tricks

Since Joshua turned 6 months old, we started him on solids, which he LOVES!  I do homemade purees, mixed with a bit of baby led weaning, and add in some store bought packaged stuff for when we are out of town or my hubby is in charge of a meal.

So organizing all of this "stuff" has taken me a bit of time.  My first "baby station" is the cabenit seen below.  Joshua is formula feeding, I keep all of his bottle needs here.  Formula, room temperature water (which we refill the jugs from our filtered fridge water) snack puffs, and yogurt melts. pouch style pre-made baby food (I use Gerber Organic), containers of baby foods, I stack these with veggies on top and fruit underneath.  Also I keep bowls that are specifically for Joshua's baby food in here as well, so they don't get mixed up with other kid bowls used for crackers, cereal, ice cream.

Another "baby station" is in my freezer.  I have a side by side LG fridge/freezer so there isn't a ton of space.  I have 1 dedicated shelf to frozen purees.  I use a gallon size Ziplock bag, 1 each for fruits and vegetables,  Inside I put a quart size bag that contains the cubes of food.  I label the quart size bag with the contents and the date (I write small so I can cross it off, wash the bag. and reuse.  The other half of this shelf is used for my freezing molds.  I found these at Bed Bath and Beyond, and I think it is the perfect way to portion out the purees.

If you are interested in how I organize my other kids kitchen items check out my YouTube channel for a video walking you through my kitchen organization. 

Midweek Concessions - Baby Food Talk

Today I am linking up with the always funny Elizabeth for some midweek confessions!!

Today I am focusing my confessions on a new found love of my 6 month old.... baby food!! 
JD loves food more than any of my other children.  Pretty much anything we have put into his mouth he has LOVED!  There are some Mommy moments I have had though, where I know some crazy mama would be judging if she saw....

1.  I make all my baby food.  This is no real confession.  The reason why may be though.  I would love to write that I make his food because I know it is the best for him, no sugars, no salt....yada yada yada.... um no.  (Those are all great reasons, but not my main reason for doing it)  I think deep down I make his baby food out of guilt.  Long story short here, I had a very traumatic experience trying to breastfeed my (now) 6 year old when he was born, that I didn't even attempt with Lilly or Joshua.   Yep, bottle day one without even giving it a chance. (that could be a entire post on it's own) Anyway, I think I feel like I am somehow making it better by making his baby food, and it is something that I can do without completely driving myself into tears and horrible thoughts of jumping out windows (yes it was that bad!)

2.   I also am taking more of a Baby Led Weaning approach this time around.  The kid loves tomatoes, asparagus, avocado, and while that is great and all I would be lying if I said he hasn't given me a heart attack while gagging (that just sounds better than choking) on his food.  

{Disclaimer: my son is not choking, gagging is totally normal, it just still makes me nervous. He has a tooth, and is actually learning to chew really well already, so please no crazy lady eyes judging me, k Thanks!~}

3.  My son is already almost 19lbs....he is 6 months.  Matthew wasn't 19lbs until like his 1st birthday....smh

4.  Some of the food I puree is just nasty, it makes me want to vomit.  Like pureed green beans....yuck!

5.  Lastly, my six month old decided today while I was wearing him, that he should taste my raspberry lemonade sherbet / vanilla twist cone (btw, best ice cream ever!)  I didn't even notice at first, but then he would scream anytime I took a lick, so I gave him a few finger tastes of it.... after his next bottle he totally spit up raspberry lemonade sherbet / vanilla twist ice cream on me....#momoftheyear 

What To Do Today?

As I sit here this morning, already feeling the sting of the heat wave we are having this week, hearing the big kids make a gigantic mess play downstairs, and wrestle with the baby who is grabbing the laptop screen, I can't seem to decide what to do with our day.  I know it will start off with breakfast, a workout, getting ready.....but then what?  I can't seem to decide on something.

It makes me think.

I grew up in a very small town.  There weren't hundreds of parks, pools, play areas.  To be honest there was nothing like that....but yet we always had something to do.  Our summer days lasted a lifetime.  From the the sun rising to setting we spent our days outside, just playing.

We are so lucky to live in an area where there is so much to do.  How I am ever at a lose for ideas, I have no clue. Yesterday we cooled off at the splash pad, this weekend we took the kids to the playground.  I could take advantage of the $1 movies our local theater has, we could pack a lunch and head to the lake for a walk and picnic, there is always the pool, library, park......yet I sit here. 

Maybe it's the fact that packing up 3 kids is a lot of work, it is going to be unbearably hot this week, I am tired. 

The only thing holding me back from just making it a day at home, is that summer is short, the isles of stores are already reminding me that back to school is lurking just weeks away.  I will have plenty of mornings in the fall to catch up on laundry, cleaning, organizing....ok to be honest more like rest, blogging, DVR.  

Today we are off to ....... ugh I still have to decide. 

JD - 6 Month Update

I CANNOT believe we are already at 6 Months.  Why oh why does time have to go so quickly!  This has been a big month baby boy.  You not only are half way through your first year, this month you also went to the beach for the fist time, got your hair trimmed by Mommy, goodbye Mohawk!   And just recently started solid foods.  Let my tell you, the food thing, you LOVE it.  You have tried carrots, sweet potato, squash, pear, apple, and banana..... all made by Mommy, and all devoured by you.  I really love making baby food, and am excited to continue and make more.

You can also see by the photos that you are now sitting on your own as well!  Your brother and sister really enjoy being able to play with you while you are sitting more at their level.

Another big step is that your first little tooth came through!  It was actually the day you turned 6 months!  There was minimal "teething" symptoms, just that morning while you insisted on sticking my finger in your mouth, I felt it.

 As far as stats, we were at the doctor yesterday and my not so little guy is growing great.  He is now 18lbs 12oz and 28in long!  His length is in the 92%...... so there are no worries there!

It is so fun to continue to see you grow and change.  We are all so in love with you, big guy!

What's In My Diaper Bag

I have now been my new Diaper Bag for 6 months. So I thought today I would do a review and a What's In My Diaper Bag. For a more in depth look, head over to My YouTube Channel and check out my latest video! 

A few weeks before JD was born, I finally after months of searching decided on a bag.  I went with the Petunia Pickle Bottom diaper bag.  The style is the Sashay Satchel.  I got a simple black bag.  

I love how sleek and un diaper bag like it looks.  I got my bag at Nordstrom, but have seen them so many places online. 

I also purchased the stroller clips (which you can see hanging on the side in the photo above)  I keep them on the bag, because it is too hard to keep them attached to the stroller and clip them in every time. 

Here is everything that was in my bag.  I usually pack pretty light, with just the necessities.  I usually throw in a sun hat as well, but for some reason it was missing.  Also missing from this pic are my car keys. 

The bag also comes with a wipes case and diaper changing pad.  I don't use these items with the bag, but did save them to use when we travel.  I use disposable changing pads when I need to change in public, and I use travel size wipes.  

Today I am linking up with Trendy Tot Tuesday!  

Although this isn't my typical post for Trendy Tot, I decided that a good, stylish diaper bag is a necessity for any mom!  

JD's First 4th of July

This year like every other, we headed into our main part of town for food and fireworks to celebrate the 4th of July.  There are a TON of people there, it is very hot, lots of sitting and waiting, LOTS of traffic......

BUT, seeing the kids smiles, it is all so worth it.  JD was awake for the fireworks, but didn't really pay attention to them at all.  He didn't scream though, so it's a win in my book!

This weekend we also celebrate JD's half birthday! 
 6 Months. 
 And such a joy everyday!