joy pockets.

Just a few pockets of joy that have popped up in my days.
I got this idea from one of my sisters to use an empty toilet paper roll to make a heart stamp.  We both know how Anna Ruth feels about getting paint on her hands so this was perfect for her.  A way to enjoy the paint without getting messy. Even though in the picture she's sticking her hands right in it, afterwards she immediately started saying "uh-oh" and wanted it cleaned off. That's my girl! :)

One day we decided to make Rice Krispy treats, which are Brett's favorite.  Anna Ruth usually doesn't have much of a sweet tooth but she sure did with the mini marshmallows.  Later that evening I cut two bars, one for Anna and one for Brett.  I handed them both to her with directions to go give Dada's his.  I secretly followed her and watched as she marched right into the room and continued to hold on as tightly as she could to both bars. :) I had to pry one from her hands to get her to share, lol.
Another idea taken from my sisters. Sweet bear toast.  Just a little breakfast fun.
A happy stack of books! We read so much during the day.  Anna is even filling in the blanks in some of her books now-like in Curious George books I'll say "The man with the yellow____" and she'll say "HAT!" 
Silly time with Anna Ruth also brings me great joy.  She is repeating everything we say now!  
Anna grabbed this bag off the door leading to the garage, waved and said "bye" and took off. :) She knows the routine I guess! She makes me laugh and laugh. I never know what she'll come up with next!
I got a perm.  Sounds so 80's doesn't it? It gave my hair a bit of a curly wave while I continue to grow it out.  I really like it! It's the perfect amount of low-maintenance :).


Just some sweet bath time with Anna Ruth :).
I adore her lashes.  Long and fluttery.

Foodie. {Food, Part 2}

Ahhh food.... :) If you missed my embarrassing confessional of food post, you can find it here. Surprisingly a large number of people responded to that post....(in person or otherwise).  Evidently I'm not as alone in struggling/learning to be free from emotional/stress eating as I thought! Let's face it-having two babies under two is stressful a lot of the times.  I can't imagine what I would look like if I turned to food every single time something got stressful. It wouldn't be pretty folks! 
 I do hope that you know how much I love and enjoy food!  I mean, God created such wonderful colors, textures, and tastes to nourish us, but also for us to enjoy!  Think of how many feasts/parties there are in the bible...I doubt they were sitting around chomping raw celery. :) 
So, on my health(ier) journey there are several favorites I want to share...
such as hot tea, and great recipes!

 Seriously, one of my favorite things to do (when I get the time!) is to sit with a nice cup of hot tea and browse the collection of beautiful cookbooks I have.....or read a good foodie magazine. 
{What's your favorite foodie mag.?}
 Another favorite-buying produce when it's on sale at Aldi's! I price match at Wal-Mart, and this week bought avocados for 19 cents! What joy in a bowl :).  These are one of my top favorite foods.  I like them plain, as dip, or as a topping on tostadas, tacos, etc.  I'm going to try to freeze some of these and I'll let you know how it goes.

Have you had the Laughing Cow cheese wedges?  My mom-in-law brought some over after Betsy was born and I was quickly hooked.  I love to have a wedge (isn't that a funny word, lol) with some Great Value brand triscuits (which only have 3 ingredients or so).  A wholesome, filling snack. And so delicious! 
{Of course, all journey's require a detour or two.  This week I'm also excited to make some Rice Krispy treats.  A favorite around here-Brett will be pleased} 

What's your favorite wholesome, delicious food lately?

What are little girls made of?

Sugar and spice........
this one's "spice" a lot.  I walked in our room to find this one day. And just for the record-that's a "Hello, Kitty" sticker that somehow made its way onto her bottom.
sweet Betsy! A rare moment of her actually laying down captured :).  Betsy Grace loves to be held.  All. The. Time.  I keep telling Brett I've read so many posts/articles from older moms that say "enjoy this time, hold them while you can." While I do enjoy holding her, I look forward to the times when she's a little more settled and can interact with us more without needing to be in the Ergo or in my arms.   What can I say-she just loves to cuddle her mama! :)
One day I decided to be brave mama.  I took the girls to Barnes and Noble by myself-Betsy in the Ergo, Anna Ruth holding my hand. I was so, so proud of how it went!  (Proud of Anna Ruth) I explained to her that she needed to hold my hand inside the store of books and obey me or we'd need to go back home.  She grabbed my hand and let me all the way to the train table :).  We go there often enough she knows her way around I guess!  She also cleaned up the lego table for fun and I picked out this Eric Carle coloring/painting book for her.  She didn't really get the painting concept, but has enjoyed coloring the pages out of it!
We even made some new friends while we were there!  This is a spot I almost always see mama's and babies.  I've discovered if I'm friendly-so are they!
One afternoon I was finishing up some chores while Anna Ruth was playing independently.  I was very amused to find she had lined all of her toys up carefully on the fireplace rock.  LOL.  Another afternoon we were playing blocks and there were several plastic blocks mixed with the wood ones.  As we were cleaning up she carefully sorted the plastic blocks out and put them in their correct container in her room.  This girl loves a good organization session! :)

It is so fun to watch both my girls' unique personalities unfold. 

DIY Chalkboard

So I have to laugh as I'm writing this post...because I'll just go ahead and let you know that my dear husband totally didn't "get" this craft.  That's funny, right? Lol.  He is so accepting of my ideas, but the first thing he asked about this one was "but how are you supposed to use the colored pencils?  Why are they up there?"  My very logical answer? Because it's cute and colorful.  :)
I'm down to a final area in the house I want to decorate/improve....(for now at least) and that's where this project is going.  I started with this plain piece of wood left over from another craft, and some colored pencils.  
I painted the wood the happiest green....
and then laid out the colored pencils a few different ways to see what I liked.  I saw this idea in a magazine (I'm a magazine idea hoarder) to glue colored pencils on a board.  Easy, inexpensive, colorful.  After laying the pencils out a few different ways I just didn't love what I saw.  
Then I got the idea to use chalkboard paint on the piece as well.  
Now I liked it :)  I glued the pencils onto the board.......
and saw cute and colorful.  Maybe I should leave Brett some love notes on the chalkboard so he'll see cute and colorful when he looks at this too. :) 

Jello play!

"Jello, my name is Anna Ruth.."
Just kidding. :) 
A good friend of mine from playgroup gave me the idea to let Anna Ruth play with jello.  She said her son really liked it!  One morning Anna helped me pour and stir the ingredients together and then I told her she could play with it after nap. She was such a big helper putting the bowl in the refrigerator (a new fave. task of hers-putting things in the fridge!)
I gave her a few utensils to use with the jello......just out of curiosity mainly to see what she would do. (you never know what this little girl will come up with!) She played some, but mostly wanted to use the utensils to shovel the jello into her mouth.  :) She doesn't usually like sweets very much so I was tickled at her response.  She liked it so much we had to be "all done" before too long so she didn't get a tummy ache.  I'm thinking we'll do jello play again.  

{DIY} Photo Collage Wreath

Hi everyone!  As many of you know, I love to display photos in my home.  There is just something about seeing familiar faces and joyful memories hung as reminders of the rosiest times in life.  It brings me instant cheer, plus my oldest daughter really loves looking at the pictures too!  

I recently printed out my most favorite photos from the last six months or so.  I obviously had a lot!  I was trying to figure out a way to display them in my house when I noticed this large quilting hoop I had lying around.  Seeing as I don't quilt and wasn't going to use the hoop for the craft I had in mind, I decided to put two and two together and create a photo wreath! I love how it turned out and the joy it brings.

I tried four or five different glues/ideas to try to get the photos to stay on the quilting hoop and finally found success with this method!  I simply hot-glued thin floral wire onto the back of each photo and then wrapped the wire around the hoop.  *I made sure to glue the wire in the appropriate place on the photo so it would look like the arrangement I had previously laid out on the hoop.
 To make the "JOY" letters I printed out the letters in Microsoft Word and then cut around each letter.  I added some cute scrapbook paper to the back of the letters as well to make them stand out even more.

We have a lot of natural light in our home and don't have curtains hung because we don't want our lovely country view to be blocked.  The windows were looking a bit plain though, so I decided to hang the photo wreath right in the middle of them.  What a cheery spot! 

I hope you'll try your own photo wreath!  You could even pick out a smaller embroidery/quilt hoop and do this on a smaller scale. This would also make a great handmade gift. :) 

Love and dishes.

Guess who got a visit from Granna and Poppa one day? 
Anna Ruth and I have been trying our best to include Betsy Grace in our normal routine. This day we played in Anna's kitchen for a long, long time.  Betsy Grace decided she wanted to help "cook" by holding onto the fake onion slice. :)

Our sweet girls and I! Sometimes I catch myself looking at them thinking....wait a minute, when did I get old enough to be responsible for two little people? 

Betsy is a lot like her mama, and dad too in some ways.  She's slow and steady. Smiley. Likes to ease into things... :) 

These pictures mean the world to me.  Anna Ruth has just seemed so grown up lately.  She has an eagerness to help and I've been trying to let her as often as it's possible.  She's shown a great interest in the dish-washer for a long time and I remembered Jana (my twin sis) saying she lets her youngest one help with the silverware.  So I used her idea and let Anna put the silverware away.  Oh, it was piled all sorts of ways.  
But it was in the drawer, and most importantly-Anna Ruth was so, so proud to have helped.  We even called Brett to celebrate the accomplishment! :)

*What do you let your little ones help with?*

Well, this is embarrassing {Food, part 1}

Oh dear, there are butterflies with today's post, I'm not gonna lie!  I have written, re-written, deleted, and ignored this post in my mind for days.  So, I've decided to be gutsy and use all my gumption to just go ahead and write.  Today's subject is a very touchy one-food.
Quite a few months ago I bought the book Made to Crave: Satisfying your deepest desire with God, not food.  It sat on my shelf and I kept telling myself I'd read it after I'd had Betsy Grace.  Looking forward to weekends or evenings or mid-afternoons for the purpose of the yummy food that would be included made me want to improve this area of my life and be free from such a hindrance!  

My weight was/is fine, but I wondered if there was a new normal I hadn't experienced yet with food.  I'd hear other women constantly attack themselves for their weight, always thinking they needed to be skinnier even if they were already a normal weight.  I heard repeated apologies in group gatherings for having a special treat, claims that there would be workouts later to make up for it. I saw pin upon pin on Pinterest of gals without an ounce of fat on their bodies being saved for people I thought were beautiful, lean, and fit already.  I had hard days and wanted to help it with a snack.  (see why this is embarrassing?) I didn't know what a normal BMI and weight was for someone my height until a couple years ago.  I had a very distorted view and wanted a change. 
This is where my words get tricky.  Because if I'm being totally honest I'd have to say I really love food!  I believe that God made food for us to enjoy.....I just don't think it needs to be a constant battle/guilt trip/emotional high/comfort, etc.  So, for me personally I had to find what my "healthy" was.
Please don't compare yourself to my version of healthy.  I am praying about, and figuring out what works for my body type, lifestyle, budget, my confidence and happiness.  It is such a personal thing I encourage you to seek your own journey! 
Here are a few questions/guidelines I've figured out for myself after reading the first few chapters of Made to Crave, which gave me much to think about.

*During the day when I want something to eat (even if it's a healthy food) I stop and ask myself if I'm really hungry, or is it just a distraction or the taste I'm wanting.  Also, I ask myself if I've had enough water to drink.  Sometimes I'll have a glass of water and wait a few minutes to see if I still feel hungry.....which leads to the next step.

*I eat every time I'm hungry.  Every. single. time.  I don't get (and never will) people denying themselves food when they're hungry. As a nursing mama, this means I eat 3 meals a day, plus anywhere from 3-4 snacks a day as well!  

*I don't count calories.  I eat until I can honestly say I'm full.  I do check the saturated fat and sugar on most foods.  If I've finished a meal and am still hungry-I eat seconds.  

*I drink a lot of water!  And diet coke and coffee too (not good), but still- a lot of water :)

*I try to keep such a nice variety of healthy things in the house I have much to choose from when I am hungry.  For example, at night-cinamon sugar almonds and frozen blueberries are a new favorite for dessert instead of something else sweet.

*and last-I treat myself.  :)  Except for now-it's not  for emotional reasons.  There's no guilt that follows!  I save treats for special occasions, or once or twice a week. Sometimes more.  (sweets are usually my treat! Or a sugary chai tea drink, or good hot chocolate)

Whew-the butterflies have multiplied by the end of this post.  But, my purpose for writing is to hopefully help other gals see that there is a way to enjoy great food, be confident, and not always feel like you're not enough in this area.  I love how God made me look and like it even more now that I'm learning to treat my body with kindness. :) 

{More posts coming soon with the foods I've liked (and not liked), and tips/suggestions!}

Anna's "Activities"

Raise your hand if you get just as excited (or more!) as your kids when they get a new toy. 
You too? I've said on the blog before that I love(d) teaching and so something I still enjoy is coming up with new activities and ideas for Anna Ruth (and Betsy someday!) Of course coming up with toddler ideas isn't the same as planning fourth-grade curriculum :), but I am finding it is just as exciting (or more so!) to watch Anna Ruth enjoy something it was to watch my fourth-grade students.  It's a totally different excitement when it's your own child. 

I want to make sure though that Anna is getting new things to think about..and a lot of the times her favorite "toys" is really an activity I've saved on Pinterest or came up with somewhere else.  Or even just something around the house I've let her play putting dry pasta, paper napkins, and plates in the play kitchen.  She knows the word "activity" means we will get out something special and extra-fun.  And that it's often kept in our china cabinet...she'll go running to this cabinet when I say the word!  
For this activity I filled an oatmeal container with fuzzy, colorful balls and then cut out small holes in the plastic lid.  Anna loved shoving the balls into the container through the holes in the lid.  She also thought I wrapped the container in heart paper/washi tape just for her to unwrap and rip off like a present.  :) 
This was another idea she really liked.  I covered a {handmade} chalkboard with chalk, and then let her dip a small paintbrush in water to draw on it.  She enthusiastically played with this for a while, then dumped the tiny bit of water on herself and proceeded to clean up the floor with a towel, another one of her favorite things to do! 
What fun things have you tried that have been a success (or not) lately?

The rosy in my real life!

Hello friends! I'm here for another edition of "rosy in my real life!"  I tried to number these and do one for every week o...