per·fect

per·fect

having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.

Years ago, when my husband and I were in the midst of some marital turmoil, he confided in a friend that one of our biggest problems was that I was too “perfect”.  The way he said it was insulting rather than a compliment.  When I asked him what exactly that was supposed to mean he said “You’re good at everything and it’s annoying”.  There’s something about that statement that has resounded with me since.  It wasn’t the first time someone had given me a “compliment” like that.  In joking I’ve heard, “you’re the perfect mother”, “you’re the mother I wish I was”, “you’re so good at everything”, “you and Dave are so cute, you’re like the perfect couple”, “you put my project to shame”  Funny, these statements were meant to be compliments, but to me, they magnify all that is imperfect about me.  I think a lot of us feel this pressure partially from society, primarily from ourselves, to be perfect.  I didn’t realize my quest for perfectionism was so annoying but I know I often feel exhausted by it.  I recently posted this photo on my personal instagram & fb pages:

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Sure it was all supposed to be fun and games but it rings incredibly true.  We slap on a cool filter and display the best of us.  We rarely post the “real” us.  We talk about and post the good but not the bad and the ugly.  Sometimes I’m a rockin’ wife, mom, daughter, sister, and friend but never am I close to perfect.  In fact, more times than not, I’m completely drowning here!  I know I’m not alone here and I think we should all start being a little more real with one another about it.  I don’t want to dwell on my imperfections or shortcomings but I certainly don’t want to portray a “perfect” life.  Maybe if we all started being a little more real with each other, we may be able to let go of some of the pressures that plague us daily.  This week, I shaved one leg and not the other, was late to church, got into a fight with my husband, yelled at my kids, missed the memo about 1st grade awards and didn’t show up, fed my kids absolute junk food at least 3 out of 7 days, and almost forgot to pick them up from school.  Nobody’s lunches were cut into cute shapes, the grocery store was out of organic 2% so I bought regular, and I didn’t work out once.  I did however plan a camping themed family night complete with a tent in the playroom, an obstacle course, and driveway s’mores which I posted the crap out of.  Betcha didn’t see a single photo of all the things I totally screwed up though did you?  My point?  I’m not perfect, you’re not perfect, we will never be perfect.  The good news is, we don’t have to be perfect, just real and kind to one another.  Lighten up y’all, go easy on yourselves, were all in this together!

Sheriff Callie Party

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I know I’m a little behind on sharing A’s December birthday party but I figured while I’m on a roll, I may as well back track!  She requested a Sheriff Callie party and I’m typically pretty opposed to character parties but I thought I could probably run with a cowgirl theme so I agreed.  Of course our first step was to snap some photos for her invitations.  I stumbled upon the cutest little flea market outside of town that looked like a mini old west town from the outside so we loaded up and took advantage of the scenery.

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I designed a quick and colorful invitation in photoshop and sent it off to my print company.  The above photo was the back and the front was this:

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We used our trusty ole tablecloth trick to transform our garage into the ole west.  We picked a blue color to look like sky and my mother had the idea to use cotton to make clouds.  The result was pretty adorable!  I knew early on that I wanted to make an old west town out of appliance boxes for the party so I called me local Lowe’s and asked them to save me a few refrigerator and washer/dryer boxes.  They called within days saying they had a few and we went to work cutting and painting them.  We made a bank, Ella’s saloon, Uncle Bun’s store, and of course the Sheriff’s station and jail.  I had my husband cut a walkway between a refrigerator box and a dryer box so that we could connect them.  That way when the Sheriff had to throw someone in jail, they had to go through the station door.  We used a box cutter to make the bars and tin foil to give them a metallic look.

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We took pictures of her stuffed animals and added them to wanted posters in photoshop then printed them in sepia tone and taped them inside the sheriff’s station and the outside door.  I used scrapbook paper that looked like old distressed wood from Hobby Lobby for the bank and sheriff’s station doors.  We bought fake money at dollar tree for the kids to play with in the bank, plastic cups and pitcher (also from dollar tree) for the saloon, and brought out some play kitchen foods and shopping bags for the general store.  It’s amazing how much fun kids can have in cardboard boxes!

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As our guests arrived, we got them all fitted in bandanas, cowboy hats, and deputy badges. We got the foam hats in black and brown at dollar tree and the bandanas at Hobby Lobby.  Because they were so large and the majority of our guests were under 5, we cut each bandana into 4th’s.  This was cost efficient and they fit much better on little ones.  The deputy badges came from Hobby Lobby as well.  We also gave each guest a little drawstring canvas bag from oriental trading to keep their gold nuggets in from the panning for gold station.

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Because our party was in the afternoon, we served sweet snacks rather than an actual meal.  We choose flavored popcorns from a local gourmet popcorn shop and put them in little cow print favor bags from Hobby Lobby.  We also made s’more pops by putting large marshmallows on a skewer, dipping them in melting chocolates, and then covering in sprinkles.  These were a huge hit as were the chocolate coins. I raided our American Girl collection and thought this Our Generation horse stable was the perfect addition to our table.  We used it to hang onto our snacks.  12322645_1229405073752640_166357767555459773_o

I found those awesome fabric garlands on clearance at Michael’s for around $3 each and knew I couldn’t pass them up.  We found the tissue fans at Dollar Tree for an extra pop of color.

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Kids colored Sheriff Callie sheets and “roasted” their marshmallows over the “fire”.  I found that adorable inflatable campfire at oriental trading and it was a big hit!  I printed the coloring sheets directly from the disney jr. website.

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My niece, nephew, and girls tried out the panning for gold station before the party started.  For quality assurance purposes of course.  To make this, we purchased a small bag of decorative rocks from Dollar Tree and spray painted them gold.  We then took a large long plastic bin and filled it with sand purchased from Home Depot and sprinkled the “golden nuggets” all around burying them in the sand.  We added water to the top and added some shovels and other sand toys we already had.  We used foil pie tins which we hammered holes into the bottom so the kids could scoop and sift.  Whatever nuggets they found, they got to take home in their little pouches.  There was a steady flow of children here the whole party.  HUGE hit even with the older kids!

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Another huge hit was the Photo Booth area.  To make this, I just took an image of a wanted poster I found online (I’ll link it if I can find it again) and enlarged it in photoshop. I then printed it off in quarter sections.  We cut it out, burned the edges with a lighter to give it an aged look and then glued it to a piece of cardboard that was left over from our cardboard box town renovations.  We used a box cutter to cut out the center and thumb tacks to secure the edges and look like fancy nails.  We used a long thick piece of leftover cardboard to create a stand and then placed it in a small bucket filled with sand and rocks to steady it.    The kids had fun with this but honestly, I think the adults had more fun with it!  haha

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Unfortunately, in my haste, I forgot to photograph the other 2 activity stations we had but they were inexpensive and simple and kept the kids busy the whole party long.  We took a stick horse from our playroom and stuck it in the yard by digging a small hole for the stick.  We set out hula hoops we already had and let kids try their hand at “lassoing” the horse.  It was sort of like a ring toss on a bigger scale.  We also had buckets which I had decorated with pictures of boots I had printed and colored.  We purchased plush snakes from the dollar tree and kids had to try and toss the snake in the boot.  We called it the “there’s a snake in my boot” game.  Because we’re witty like that!  ;)

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The Sheriff and all her little pals had a great time and those darn boxes stayed in our garage for a month because we couldn’t bring ourselves to toss them!  lol

Birthday Carnival Fun

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Gosh, I’ve been pretty bad about updating here lately.  What can I say?  I’ve been a busy beaver for sure!  The holiday’s had me swamped and then it was birthday parties and traveling and out of town guests galore!  Last weekend, we hosted T’s 7th birthday party here at home.  Even though I never managed to get A’s Sheriff Callie party blogged (I better do that today too!), I thought I would go ahead and get the details for the Carnival party blogged while they were still fresh on my mind.

We decided about 3 months ago that we would be going with a Carnival theme and took to pinterest immediately to begin planning.  A few weeks before the party, I took her out in some colorful clown garb to snap a few photos for her invitations.  They’re pretty goofy but they’re probably my favorite pictures ever of her because they really let her silly personality shine!  Here are a few of my favorites!

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I normally have really cute double sided photo invitations printed from my print company but, unfortunately, I procrastinated a bit and ran out of time.  Instead, I had them printed 2 to a page at my local office depot.  They had them printed and cut down to size for me within an hour and they were on their way to the post office that afternoon!

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Meanwhile, we begin gathering supplies and prizes for the games and sketching ideas for setup in chalk in the garage and driveway.  Haha  We decided that since A. I would be returning from camp with my oldest the night before the party and B. The party was in the afternoon that we would not serve a full lunch menu but instead opted for snacks and sweets.  While I was at camp, I enlisted my hubby and mama to transform our garage into a big top canopy by using plastic tablecloths.  We’ve used this method for many parties and it always works so well.  Gives us an ample party space while still being whimsical and colorful.  You almost forget you’re in a garage.  Thankfully, weather for both my girl’s winter birthdays has been absolutely perfect!

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I wish I had taken a better picture of the garage because it looked super cute but you get the gist here.  We served popcorn, cotton candy, cake, and ice cream.  I got the cute little carnival napkins at Hobby Lobby, as well as the little cotton candy stand, and the marque looking signs.   Most of the other table decor came from the dollar spot at Target!  We found the colorful popcorn containers there as well as the felt birthday banner and letters, and the cute little red cake stand.  Because I didn’t have a lot of extra time or energy for cake decorating, I picked a super simple design and I’m pretty pleased with the way it turned out.  I rolled the bottom tier in sprinkles and for the top tier, I designed cute little ticket strips with her name and birthday in photoshop and then took it down to my local Wal Mart bakery for them to print on an edible image.  It was quick and easy and the image only cost about $7!  I got the little pennant banner, cupcake flags, and glitter 7 at hobby lobby too.  I bought bags of cotton candy from our local Golden Corral for $1.25 each and just divided them into small portions and put them on lollipop sticks.  They made for a cute display and kids weren’t consuming giant portions of sugar so it was a double win!

We had 5 game stations so each kid was given 5 tickets when they arrived (I got these at dollar tree!) so they each got to try each game once.  Because we had extra time and more prizes once each kid had a turn, we allowed them another set of tickets if they wanted to continue playing which most did. We also hired an amazing local face painter.  She was a huge hit with the kiddos!  Our carnival games were simple and inexpensive as were our prizes.  Most were purchased at the dollar tree with the exception of the pet fish soap which I made myself.

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The balloon pop station was the biggest hit I think.  To assemble it, we used squares of cork board purchased at hobby lobby attached to a piece of plywood we had laying around.  We used thumb tacks to attach the balloons and darts with plastic tips for the kids to throw.  If they popped a balloon the selected a prize (bubbles or play dough) and if they missed they got a piece of candy.  They each got 3 tries per ticket.  We got the dart balloons on amazon and the darts 3 to a pk for $1.97 at Wal Mart.  We blew all the balloons up prior to the party and placed them in trash bags.  We just did a little at a time and within a couple of weeks had them all blown up!  :)

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For the fish bowl game we used small clear plastic cups from walmart filled with water.  We dropped a plastic fish toy in several of the cups and kids had to toss ping pong balls into the cups.  They got 3 tries per ticket and if they got it in a cup with a fish, they got to take home a pet fishy bath soap.  I made these easily by purchasing a large block of clear glycerine soap from Michael’s with a 50% off coupon.  It totaled about $10 and I still have a ton left for a future craft!  I purchased the vinyl goldfish on Amazon.  They were so simple to make and the kids had a blast helping me.  We cut the soap into smaller pieces and placed them in a microwave safe bowl.  We melted them in the microwave and then poured the liquid into small plastic treat bags sitting in mugs.  We then moved the bags to a bowl of ice water where we used a skewer to push fish toys down into the soap as it hardened.  If you choose to add scent to your soap, mix it in with the bowl.

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For the ring toss, we had the painstaking job of drinking beer to empty those bottles!  I gave my husband that job weeks in advance thinking they would be done waaaaay ahead of time but the week before party time, we only had 2 bottles sitting on the counter!  Luckily, we attended a Super Bowl party the weekend before and managed to collect enough!  lol  I spray painted the bottles and caps and found those super cute carnival soda labels at Hobby Lobby.  The kids each got 3 rings (which were harder to find than I imagined).

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For the lucky ducky game we purchased 50 rubber duckies and this inflatable pool from Amazon and glued washers to the bottom of each duck.  We painted about 12 with nail polish first.  The kids got 3 tries to pick a duck with a colored washer on the bottom to win a prize.  They got a piece of candy if they didn’t pick a winning ducky.

Last but not least we had a bean bag toss.  I didn’t get any pictures of this but it was pretty simple.  We used a lawn game set we already had from Academy and set it out side by side that way 2 kids could play at once.  Each got 3 bean bags.

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After a stop at the face painting booth, our guest were ready to have their picture taken in the ring of fire.  I had my oldest and a friend make this using a hula hoop we found at the dollar tree and red, yellow, and orange tissue paper.  Made for a cute photo prop!

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Overall, I think a great time was had by all.  Even this ole top hat wearing Ring Master!  Thanks to everyone who came to make our girl’s day extra special!

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A very shopkins Christmas

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It’s happened.  I tried to fight it for a long time but I’ve finally succumbed to it.  The shopkins craze has hit our house.  For about a year now, T has asked me for shopkins every time we leave the house.  If you don’t know what shopkins are, they are tiny gumball machine prize sized collectibles which unfortunately do not have the gumball machine price tag.  They most often come in “blind baskets” so you have no idea what you’re getting.  It’s a surprise!  All my nieces in the 6-8 year age range love them and thus my 6 (almost 7) year old has jumped on the bandwagon.   This year when making Christmas wish lists, that’s all T said she wanted.  Seriously.  Anywho, if we’re going to do this shopkins thing, we’re going to do it right.  She’s my little collector so I knew I wanted to find a way to display her shopkins so that she could easily reach them to play with but see what she has at all times.  This year, we’re doing Christmas a little differently and we have gift categories to be checked off.  1 category is “made by mom”.  So for T’s gift, I decided I wanted to make a shopkins display.  I purused Pinterest for ideas but couldn’t decide then yesterday, while strolling Michael’s, I hatched a design plan!  Thought I would share it here in case you’ve got a shopkins crazed collector too!

What you’ll need:

-An acrylic box frame (any size you choose) I went big with a 16×20 

-foam core or sturdy cardboard

-box cutter

-wrapping paper

-hot glue gun

  
You can use your frame as a template and a straight edge to cut your shelves out of foam or cardboard.  I wanted 8 shelves on my display and each shelf needs to be doubled up.  So total, I cut 16 strips.  Leave them a little longer than necessary (about half an inch.  You can trim with scissors later.  

  
After cutting them, I grabbed a glue stick and began sticking them together in pairs.

  
Next, I cut 8 strips of wrapping paper to wrap around each shelf.  I had this fabulous glitter paper that worked perfectly because it won’t scratch easily, it was thicker than my others, and it seamlessly matched up when I wrapped it around without being noticeable.  You’ll want to use something similar or solid color for best match up.  You could even use printed contact paper!  I used my glue stick to secure it to each “shelf”.

  
Next, you’ll need to find a box or a book that will match your desired thickness.  I wanted her to be able to store those little baskets and bags on it too so I found a box that was the perfect width in the closet and used that as a guide.  I then used hot glue all along the back and sides of the “shelf” to secure it to the frame.  

  
Moving the box up with each shelf kept them perfectly spaced and I used a small level to double check my work.

  
I plan to cover the outside trim in ribbon that way I can hang it on her wall as well but I haven’t picked that out yet.  Next, stick your shelves with shopkins and you’re ready to go! 

 This week, Michael’s has a 50% off coupon so I used that for the frame which brought it down to about $7.50!  They also are now carrying shopkins in the store so we used to coupon again to score a 12pk set half off!  
Hope this is helpful Mamas!  I know I’m going to have a pretty happy girl come Christmas morning.  😃

Grab your health by the horns!

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I’ve struggled with my weight since I had my oldest daughter almost 11 years ago. As a teenager, I developed a pretty unhealthy lifestyle but since I wore little kids jeans and had a much more active metabolism, I didn’t realize how I was setting up adult Lori for failure. For instance, weighing in at all of 101 lbs my senior year in high school and wearing a size 12/14 gap kids jeans, I ate a vending machine honey bun for breakfast pretty much daily. I would often skip lunch all together or stuff my face with tortillas and queso at rosas. I didn’t workout and had given up all athletic extra curricular activities. 3 kids later and my weight has yo-yoed up and down for years. My closet is filled with things are that either way too big or way too small from skinny times and fat times. Obviously the weight I had put on was devastating to my self image but I hadn’t realized how the choices I was making were affecting my health. I tried just about every weight loss product on the market and had minimal results. My eating habits were not terribly dreadful and I was pretty active so I was incredibly frustrated with how much trouble I was having getting the weight off. A little over a year ago I found myself in a doctor’s office. I had literally felt like I had the flu for several months. I stopped working out because I had absolutely no energy. I could sleep all day if you would let me. My body felt achy and I was constantly suffering from headaches. My weight was fluctuating even more than usual and sometimes I had no appetite at all. I felt weak and drained constantly despite the fact that I was drinking 1-3 cups of coffee in the morning, 1-3 red bulls in the afternoon/evening, in addition to a well known health and wellness company’s energy drink at least once a day! As I was describing to my doctor how I was feeling she became concerned. Initially, she suspected that it may be more of an emotional issue due to the fact that I was adjusting to life in a new town and some stresses in my personal life but decided to run a few blood tests anyway. I’m not sure specifically what she was testing for but I know that we couldn’t pin point what exactly was wrong aside from the fact that my white blood cell count was low. We couldn’t pin point a culprit but she suspected it might have something to do with recurring sinus infections I was suffering due to severe allergies. She prescribed an allergy medication, some sort of oral steroid, and a nasal spray and said we would re-analyze the situation in a month. My first week or so I did feel a bit better so was relieved to not feel like death for the first time in a while. However, by the month’s end, I was back to feeling like I had been hit by a train. I was trying to hit the gym daily and truck through my aches and exhaustion hoping it would help but I ended up feeling even more terrible. My blood work that month again revealed a low white blood cell count. Over the next year, I had my blood drawn monthly and had numerous tests for everything from my thyroid to cancer. We could not find an answer for my mystery ailment. I cried because I was so desperate to feel normal again. I wanted energy to do fun things with my kids again and it was so frustrating not having answers. I was pretty convinced I was dying but wasn’t sure from what. During this time, I was seeing 2 different friends post about 2 different things that sparked my interest on social media. 1 friend was posting about Whole 30 and another about It Works products. I messaged 1 friend first about her Whole 30 journey and her health results with it. She said after reading the book It Starts With Food she began a lifestyle change that had improved her health in many ways from allergies to anxiety! I was curious so I read the book too and was shocked by how much food (even seemingly healthy food) can negatively impact our physical and mental health. Because a Whole 30 diet meant completely cutting out a whole lot of everything, I decided to ease into it with a Whole 7 instead. For 7 days I 100% followed the Whole 30 way. Guess what? After only 7 days, I DID feel better! Although I still have never completed and entire whole 30 program, I do stick to the lifestyle 75%-80% of the time. I try to stick to it more often but I also know for me, completely eliminating things and overly restricting myself, sets me up for failure. Sometimes, I try and make healthier versions of cheat foods or as Whole30 says SWYPO (sex with your pants on) meals. lol But here’s the deal, eating “clean” isn’t always common sense. Our food has evolved over the years so do your research folks. Funny thing is, my body now knows when I’ve filled it with junk. After a particularly long stint of clean eating with no cheats, my husband came home craving Rosas. I went along with it and everything tasted incredible going down but within about 30 minutes, I found myself face first in the toilet projectile vomiting. It wasn’t food poisoning, my body just literally rejected the junk. My kids say they notice the feeling of awful nastiness after eating a junk meal too. We hate feeling too full and sluggish after something greasy. I’ve talked my husband into making some healthier choices when he’s home but deep down, he will always be a pizza, burgers, and beer guy! lol Baby steps!

During this time of self enlightenment and research, I was approached by a friend about It Works products, I had seen he and his wife post about them and was really curious to try a few things. Somehow, he convinced me to sign up to be a distributor myself. Mainly because I got a discount on products and they were offering a great incentive for new distributors. I never intended to sell it, but figured I didn’t have anything to lose. When my greens and other products arrived I was really excited to try some stuff out. I haven’t yet found a product I hate but by far my favorite product is the greens. I mix them once a day with half orange juice and half water and have since stopped drinking coffee and red bull. Yep, you heard me, I no longer drink those things AT ALL. Which is amazing considering that I was a complete junky as I mentioned before. I now have the energy to get a brief workout in daily even with our busy schedules. Aside from the small amount of juice I use with my greens daily, I drink nothing but water unless I find myself out on the occasional girls night or date night where I do allow myself alcohol. Want to know the best part though? My blood work has been completely normal for several months now and I don’t feel like I have a chronic flu anymore! Cheery on top? I’ve now made some money and earned lots of my It Works products for FREE just for being a distributor and helping my friends and family improve their health!

Why am I telling you all of this? Because, I want YOU to feel better too. This journey for me no longer became a weight loss mission, it became a health mission. Sure I’ve lost a little weight along the way but that’s just a bonus for the way I feel. Take your health and the health of your family into your own hands. Read the book, do the research, find a plan that works for you but make yourself very aware of the foods and drinks that you’re putting into your body and into the bodies of your children! Buy organic, eat fresh not processed, drink some water, eat clean, be active, take your vitamins, and feel better! I would love to share some meal ideas and tips with you sometime when I’ve got a second but in the meantime, do your homework. Till we meet again! ❤

Getcha some It Works Greens right here!

P.S: I eat lots of Whole30 approved meals but I sometimes I take meal ideas from beach body’s 21 day fix and sometimes a few paleo goodies too. Check pinterest for ideas for keeping clean eating fresh and delicious!

Reading nook fun

Our oldest daughter is severely dyslexic.  She’s struggled with reading for years and finally as she nears the end of 4th grade, she seems to be reading on level and actually enjoying books rather than dreading reading time.  I wanted to really nurture her newfound love of reading as well as that of her little sisters so I decided we needed a designated reading area.  I initially planned on a cute little teepee or something in the corner of the playroom with pillows and blankets (hint: hobby lobby is now carrying super cute teepees for $100 and you can use a coupon!) but our playroom looks over our living room and kitchen so it isn’t always the quietest of places.  Then it hit me!  The “secret” closet under the stairs.  The door is in the laundry room and it’s pretty quiet with the exception of the lull of the washer/dryer when it’s on.  We were using it as storage for our cleaning supplies and some boxes of Christmas decorations.  The girls and I got started on clearing it out and moving the boxes up to the attic.  We are so pleased with the way it turned out and it’s been used daily since.  Aside from the little book rack and a new rug, it cost me next to nothing as we used items we already had around the house.  

The only rules are to be quiet and have fun.  Everyone has to pick a quiet activity while in there, doesn’t necessarily have to be reading.  

   
 

The reading lounge seating is actually an old ottoman top that no longer matches my living room.  It’s padded so pretty comfy to sit on and the back is a rolled piece of foam for a bed we had laying around.  I had an extra set of queen size sheets that I used to cover  both items and I used a little duct tape to secure them to the bottom without having to actually cut or sew anything.  They’ve held up great so far!  We had the battery operated lanterns and pennant banner leftover from a party and I got the rug from garden ridge on clearance for under $20.  The cloth book rack is from Walmart.com.  It arrived in days and was inexpensive.  I used chalk pens to doodle a Dr. Suess quote on a chalkboard we already had and hung it for decor.  

  

I wanted some color on the walls but didn’t want to commit to paint so I was ecstatic to find the little circle decals on clearance for $4 at target.  

  
We filled the area with quiet activities like magnets and magnet boards, (an oil drip pan from the auto part store and cookie sheets from dollar tree), I-spy bottles we made a few years ago, and books.

  
We got the idea from Pinterest of course and the girls love them!  Super easy and fun project.  They’re made using voss water bottles, rice, and little trinkets from around the house.  We took photos of the items before putting them in the rice, printed them out, laminated, and numbered them and the bottles as a key.  They use dry erase markers to mark off the items as they find them.  

  
The girls aren’t allowed to have electronic devices upstairs because I like to be able to monitor anything with internet capability so we created an “iStation” with all our iPads, iPods, and innotabs.  We added headphones so that game and electronic stories didn’t disturb others enjoying the quiet space.  We had such a fun time creating this reading nook together and the girls love having a secret quiet hideaway to unwind and enjoy a good story.  Can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner!  

Memories…

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pho·to·jour·nal·ism
ˌfōdōˈjərnəˌlizəm/
noun
the art or practice of communicating news by photographs

Okay, okay so photos of my kids and our life may not exactly be “news” but they do tell a story. I’m sure my friends on social media get sick and tired of me flooding their news feed with a bazillion photos of my kids, especially in the last few months. What can I say? My kids are cute and they’re always doing cute things. I’m proud of them, sue me! Sorry, not sorry. lol Imagine all the photos I take and DON’T post! There was a time not so long ago that I didn’t take my camera anywhere. It’s big, bulky, and heavy so if I was going to snap a photo, I relied on my trusty iPhone camera to capture the moment. Fine in a pinch for a quick snapshot but the problem with iPhone photos is that they are great for Instagram and other social media sites for quick posting but in reality, they are grainy and poor quality. Really how often do you print your iPhone photos? When my mother in law passed in August and we were searching for photos for the slideshow for her services, I didn’t have a single photo of her with my kids that wasn’t a grainy cell phone photo. I can’t get that time back. I will never have those moments back. Why didn’t I take more photos? Why didn’t I capture the way she liked to play baseball in the yard with the family or the way she liked to fish on the river? Why didn’t I capture her smile when she would throw her head back, slap her knee, and laugh? Or the way the kids would light up when she read Jingle to them at Christmas time. I would give anything to go back and have my camera to capture the little things. Looking through those old grainy cell phone photos made me realize the importance of carrying around that big bulky thing for 2 reasons.
1. Life is short. Those you love won’t be around forever and all you’ll be left with are those memories, those photos.
2. Kids, they aren’t kids forever. I recently made a comment to my Dad about how I couldn’t believe my baby girl was 3 already and he said, “how do you think I feel? My baby is 30 and has her own babies!” Woah. Really? It goes by that quickly? Yikes!

I’m going to blink one day and my babies will have babies of their own. There’s so much I want to remember about their childhood. Like what T looked like leading her horse to pasture by herself for the first time at her riding lesson last summer or the longhorn balloon hat she picked when we went to he Fort Worth Stockyards over spring break.
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or the pouty face A makes when she’s overly tired and not getting her way or the pure joy on her face when she’s at the park swinging or sliding.
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I want to remember forever P’s love for animals and how she just has a way with them or what she looked like sitting on the bench at soccer taking a break and waiting for coach to call her back in. Always with her shoe untied! lol
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So how do you know what to include in your photos? Ummm… well, EVERYTHING that means anything to put it simply. Or not so simply. Remember, there aren’t any rules to memory catching. Your subjects don’t always have to be posed, smiling, looking at you, or even facing forward for that matter! Some of my favorite photos are of the back of my children’s heads. Like this one of P & A fishing together last summer.
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Get up close and personal! Zoom in, catch the details even if you don’t get any faces in the shots. Last summer after my Mama in law’s funeral, we all spent a week at the family ranch together. The kids loved playing down in the meadow and by the creek skipping rocks and catching roly polys. They spent the week with dirty fingernails having the time of their lives with tiny bugs in their tiny hands.
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Pay attention to your surroundings. Over Spring Break, the girls and I hit up the zoo. While there, we rode the train to the wild west area. Normally, I would just snap a photo while I sat across the train from them but then I wouldn’t remember what the train looked like or what it was called. For this shot, I choose to snap the photo before I boarded the train while the other passengers were still loading. This way, I’ll always remember our ride on the yellow rose express. Because at one point, my grandkids will be flipping through a photo album and ask “Grandma, where were you? Why are you on a train? What color was it? What was it called?” Because that’s just the sort of thing kids ask. lol
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My final tip to you is to pay attention to your angle. I snapped these tonight at P’s soccer game while A was playing on one of the smaller goals behind the field. The one on the left was shot with me standing like normal over her and looking down. You see the grass and that she’s sort of swinging from something but you’re not real sure what it is or where she is. It doesn’t tell a story. For the one on the right all I did was squat down till I was at her level. You can tell just by glancing at it that it was taken at soccer fields and that she is more than likely swinging from a goal post.
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Remember these things when recording memories of your cuties even if all you have handy is your trusty iPhone. A well executed iPhone photo is better than no photo at all.

My absolute final tip to you is don’t always hide out behind the camera. Jump in front too! Have someone take a photo of you with your kids. Take a selfie, heck, photobomb them! You’re not getting any younger either people! I may need to take my own advice a little more here. I don’t know about you, but I love looking a photos of my mom and my grandmother from when she was younger. Checking out her goofy glasses or seeing the shifting fashion trends. So get out there and get in those frames mamas!

Happy snapping! ❤