Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Five Favorites: Tips for Simple Hosting

Hi there! I'm sharing five ways on how I keep hosting simple and fun (for me) on those days that you just need to keep hosting easy!

First up, my apron! After reading this post from Like Mother, Like Daughter, I decided to be more intentional about sporting this lovely apron my husband got for me way back when. 

The lovely Leila shared about how there's something transforming about wearing an apron. After the first few times I wore it while in the kitchen, I fell in love and was kicking myself for not wearing it all times prior! I feel so domestically successful while wearing it, even if my domesticity ends up not being a success.

Non-successes don't affect me because I was wearing my apron. And, that to me is winning! My little visual representation of success is always a good way to start off a hosting day. 
It also keeps me clean, which is a major win! Honestly, there's probably a whole post I could write about apron-wins. But, for now, clean-mama is unicorn-mama. Especially while doing the dishes, cooking, baking, or cleaning! No sopping-wet-stain-filled shirts or jeans or leggings or sweaters because I'm wearing my trusty apron.

I love it!

You may be asking why the apron helps keep hosting simple? Well, I don't have to change after I finish up setting everything out! After getting all the foods on your serving table (and/or cooking all the foods!), company is normally arriving and the last thing I ever want to do is leave because I have to change my food-ridden, sopping wet, stinky clothes! Aprons keep hosting a little easier and keep me a little more present.

Next up, simple salad, fruit, and veggies. These fillers are awesome and perfect and easy-peasy for keeping hosting simple. I always set out one salad (During hectic seasons, I buy the pre-made ones.). Carrots and tomatoes or broccoli and cauliflower with some ranch dressing is also always a must.

These are all fillers that I normally have in our fridge and are easy to set out. The fruit is also something I normally have on hand and also so easy to set out. I love all of these because they fill bellies, are easy on our budget, and takes a good 10 minutes to put out - tops!
During really hectic times, you gotta do what you gotta do. This last hosting round, with my back issues and having two young ones running around, the main course needed to be as easy as possible. Thank you, pizza for $5/box! This is always an easy main course, but if you'd rather keep it homemade, crockpot meals go a long way and are also easy to make and serve.

Also, no matter what I'm serving as a main course, I always make chicken nuggets for the kids. You can never go wrong with nuggets or any sort of frozen kiddie to-do. Pop it in the oven 15-20 minutes before guests are to arrive and you have a little something for any and all kids.
Onto dessert! I always include a dessert because it's fun for me. I love to bake. So, in turn, baking isn't much of a chore to me since I delight in it so much. I normally make two things: one dessert that is mostly or all dairy free for anyone with food allergies and something without food restrictions.

But, the alternative to baking if it's not your thing, is while you're picking up your pizza or other main meal of pick-up-choice, swing buy and pick up some cookies from  your nearby bakery. Cookies are as simple as you can get and always a hit!

Last favorite way to keep hosting simple is easy clean-up! Always be sure to use dishes that can fit in your dishwasher. Anything else that you are using, make sure they can be thrown away: paper plates, plastic silverware, and napkins.

Also, we normally keep the drink options simple. If you come to our home you are more than likely to be greeted with a nice ice-filled cup o' water. We're kind of lame like that, but it's easy clean-up (you don't have to worry about kids spilling it anywhere. Because, water.) and it makes serving your guests efficient and easy to upkeep. Also, water is just good for everyone so we're really doing our guests a favor, right? Haha, I'm sure some of our guests would beg to differ, but I appreciate them obliging us and our typically limited drink option.

There you have it friends! These are my five favorite hosting hacks that keep our busy weeks or seasons much more manageable.

How do you keep hosting simple? Certain recipes? Certain foods? I'd love to hear about them!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Out of the Mouths of Littles: Googi-oggers and Lee-lee

These boys they are a growing and I'm trying to capture their sweetness as much as possible. Here's what they were saying a few months ago, because that's how long this post has been on draft-mode (Fail!). Better late than never!

Hopefully I'll have more of their silliness to share in the coming weeks. The things that come out of these kids mouth is just gold and I really want to remember!!!


Mama: I want you to know love and serve Jesus.
Bigfoot: I saw Jesus all mow-ning mama.
Mama: Oh yah, what'd he say or do?
Bigfoot: He was singing alleluia like this (raises arms)
Mama: Oh yah?
Bigfoot: Yah. And he was playing the guitar!

During prayer.
Bigfoot: I'm thank-you fa faaaileee!!!
Translation: I'm thankful for family!!!
Every night. Since this time he's been adding all sorts of things. Friends, family, outside, time with daddy, dinosaurs in da house...

Bigfoot: I love your heart, mama.(talking about my necklace! lol)
Mama: Thank you, baby.

Bigfoot: Mama, that's a gweaattt I-Dee-uhhh! (Anytime I suggest to do something to his liking.)
Mama: Mama, that's a great idea!

Mama: Bigfoot, mind [Insert whatever request, small chore, I have for him at the moment.]
Bigfoot: (on his good days while in good toddler humor) Sure, mama, I can dooo dat!

If I wear a different necklace that doesn't have a heart/sacred heart on it.
Bigfoot: Ohhh noo...Mama! Where's your heart??

Bigfoot: Mama, Where are my googi-oggers?
Translation: Mama, where are my binoculars?

Linus: Eh.
Linus: Ehhh.
Linus: Eh!!!
Translation: It means everything under the sun in the spoken language. (English, Spanish, and Italian included).

Linus has been saying a few more words lately though and it's been pretty sweet.
Linus: Da.dee. Da..deeeE!

Linus: Pah..pahhh. Pah...pahhh.
Translation: Papa!

Linus: Uh, tou, teeeee, oh, eh. 
Translation: One, two, three, four, five.

Linus: Uuuu.
Translation: Up.
Linus: Dooowww.
Translation: Down.

Linus: Haa dawww! Haaa Dawwwww! Deee dawwwww!!!
Translation: Hot dog, hot dog, hot diggity dog! Always while dancing. Always.

Linus: Aaapoooh.
Translation: Apple (priorities)

Linus: Leee....leee!
Translation: Lily (our pup)

Linus: Staaaaaaaa!!!
Translation: STOPPPPPP!!!!! (Wonder where that one came from?)

If you are ever in need of Ogre translation lessons, just give me a call. I am fairly well versed in the world and language of Ogre, thanks to me sweet grunting Linus.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Priesthood Sunday Toddler Craft

Because I got close to zero sleep last night, I'm sharing what the boys wore yesterday for Sunday Mass and a sweet little craft they made for our priests.

The 21-month old has to be cutting those two-year molars. I really don't know what else could be going on right now, but what I do know is that. I. want. sleepy. sleep. sleep. and my blanket. and my pillooowwwwsssszzzzzzzzzzzz......

That aside and their behavior aside the boys were pretty cute in their Sunday best.
Gosh, these boys are adorable (haha, I know I'm biased)! Don't you just want to hug them, though? I do! Thankfully I get to! Everyday! Woot! Woot!
Oh, and in case you missed it, I wrote about how these feet are growing way to fast for my mama-heart. Both of them have sized up, giving me both, yearning for them to stay as they are and baby-fever!

Also, yesterday was Priesthood Sunday! Yay! We certainly are grateful for our priests and were able to craft a card for the three of them over the weekend. The boys loved tearing paper and using the glue stick and I loved being able to share a little love with our wonderful priests.

Priesthood Sunday Toddler Craft
What you'll need:
 Mama's, draw something on the card for your littles to fill.
 Let your toddlers tear an assortment of colored paper and let them have some glue-stick fun.
 And, Voila!

I pray our priests enjoyed their cards from the boys and our whole family.
They were made with lots of love, prayers, and fun.

So, even though Mass behavior was sub-par, they couldn't wait to give their cards to their priests. It was really sweet.

Cute outfits, sub-par Mass behavior, and toddler card gifts for Priesthood Sunday, I'll chalk it up to a winning Sunday. ;) Thanks be to God and His abundant graces!

Pray you're feeling much more rested on this Monday filled with really awesome play weather (or at least in Texas!)! Did y'all do anything fun for Priesthood Sunday? I'd love to know!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Embrace the Ordinary: These are the Moments

I know everyone says it, but these boys are growing! Fast! Moment by moment, smile by smile. tantrum by tantrum, hug by hug, and inch by inch.

Everyday they are learning and growing, growing and learning. On and on they go with time. It's amazing. Wonderful. Beautiful. Crazy. Good. And, lots of other things.

Some days I'm great at embracing every bit of them. Other days I'm not. Some days I'm good at leading them; other days all I have on my mind is my next break. Some days I can hold them through every cry, talk them down fromoments tantrum, and snuggle them to laughter after almost every fall. Other days, I'm ready for daddy to step in from work (Is that possible?).

I went to the Hand and Heart Bazaar at our church today. I love going to these little things that bring out all the little local shops for a number of reasons. Reason numero uno is that there are always so many amazing gift potentials for Christmas! Whether it be for me (Terrible, I know!) or for family.

But, reason numero dos is because of the women there. They meet you and greet you. Talk to you and are usually wanting to know you. It's kind of wonderful. 

These seasoned, beautiful women that are sharing their gifts and talents helped me get perspective today. Often times their littles are teenagers or older. Ever once in awhile some of their youngests are in elementary, but even that shares a perspective that tugs at my heartstrings. 

My babies won't keep. This sweetness that I wish I could just bottle up for another day isn't bottle-up-able. 

Or isn't it?

I'm thankful for this little space that our new day and age has allowed me. It gives me a little time capsule that I will have forever (I think... Please internet don't go lose yourself!). For now, this space online is the keeper of my little mama heart moments.

Heart moments that look like this:

Here's my oldest and the little way he purses his lips when he's trying to get something done.
 Or the determined hands that can get fiesty in .0002 seconds (Pretty sure he chunked both pieces right after I snapped this.)
 The moments of togetherness.
Or like this moment where Bigfoot was reading to Linus.
The discovery of the fun of saying Cheese! and play time outside.
His thoughtfulness and ability to be still (most of the time).
The way this one can shine when he's happy and has such an ability to be silly.
 The smiles. There really are a lot.
Oh, and these feet. His nickname isn't Bigfoot for nothing! The boy had huge feet out of my womb. But something happened when he fit into these running shoes that were at least two sizes too big just a few months ago. 
My heartstrings felt a tug that was tugged even more from some really wonderful women at the bazaar.

These feet wearing these shoes are evidence of the moments for my mama-heart tonight. Like I said, so many share in passing about how time passes so quickly and how they grow up in a blink of an eye. The women and mothers I met today during that tidbit of alone time shared these sentiments in such a way that just oozed love and all things good.

Everything they shared and all who have shared throughout my three years of motherhood is so true. I mean look at those little big feet!??

The truth that these moments are the moments is hard to embrace. Especially on hard days. But hard days or not, I know it's true. My heart really knows it's true. And, I just pray for the grace to mother daily in a way that embraces this extraordinary gift as fully as I possibly can.

Motherhood can be such a whirlwind filled with ups and downs that knock our perspective around like crazy! What times or moments bring this reality to the forefront for you?

Linking-up with the wonderful Gina who started this beautiful link-up that also helps me get perspective on all the goodness that I have in my life.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Gifts that Sustain: Part 2

Continuing with some photo-fun of our weekend away.

To recap, every year we take a small trip with our friends from bible study. It's a great time, every time, for the kids and the adults. It's like a big family sleepover that I will say yes to again and again. Seeing the boys get to play with their friends and make new memories with each other is wonderful. And, getting the chance to parent alongside friends who are in the thick of parenthood is affirming, encouraging, supportive, and nourishing for our young parenting hearts.

Onto our fun. There was a loft above the gameroom that was perfect for the elementary aged kids, equipped with chalkboard, dolls, building blocks, bean bags, and a television for movie time.
 Meanwhile in the game room, these boys loved all of it: the pool table because of the Big sticks, the drum set (Oh, the drum set! So awesome!), piano, fuzzball, air hockey, and a stand-alone arcade with all the old goodies!
Every time I lost my husband, I just had to come here to find him sitting in front of this bad boy. The boys seemed to enjoy it too.
Air-hockey. I didn't get to challenge my husband on this one. Wish I would have made time for that because playing games like this with him is fun. But, I'm glad the little ones got to enjoy it!
Oh, and remember that kiddie-playhouse that was outside fully equipped with electricity and a functioning AC? This is that little loft it had inside. How cute is this??
Amazing little dream world filled with friends, your sibling, and little-sized everything!
Haha, okay, this next shot had me cracking up so much! My husband was playing with a little toy propeller. The kids were loving how high he was twirling it! Meanwhile, out of no-where, a little butterfly landed on his butt

ot only did it land on his bum, it lingered! And lingered. And lingered!

Then he shewed it off only for it to come back to the same spot! The exact same spot! I went to grab a shot but in between landings one of our friends called out,

What are you?? A flower??!

And, I could not. stop. laughing! My husband. The walking flower. And, the location of where this beautiful little butterfly is just what killed me. This is far from flower land if you ask me. Love you, babe!
Check out this next shot. It's one of my favorites. All the kids scattering. The big trees. The sun. So much toy-propeller-fun!
The boys were loving the fun with the toy propeller. They would just run around crouching over, laughing hysterically, wondering if the propeller would land on them. It was hilarious.
I can't say enough how much I love these little trips and how grateful I am that we get to share these awesome times with our boys. 
So many good memories are made. The boys are still talking about all the fun. Or, at least my talking Bigfoot is. Linus is still mostly grunting, but I think if he weren't, he'd also be talking about it.

Thanks for enjoying this little trip with us through these photos! I love that I can share them here and pray that any and all families with littles gather some family friends and get yourself a little trip nearby booked! Cost of places and food spread among many families really can be worked out if you find the right place and plan ahead enough!

This time together is nourishing and I promise you won't regret a second of it!

Have you ever taken a trip with a number of friends who also have littles? What was your favorite part?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Gifts that Sustain: Part 1

Like I mentioned earlier this week, we went away this past weekend with our Family Bible Study group and had such a wonderful time. This place was perfect for families and just loads of fun!

I'll let the pictures do the talking with a few little tidbits of commentary from me throughout:

To start, the entry way was beautiful! Lined with beautiful trees and light. And, it was only the start.
The beautiful road led to this incredible lodge home on acres of goodness. The lodge was filled with everything under the sun that a group of families could ever want to enjoy!
The owners were so particular to not only the beauty on the outside but the beauty on the inside too! They wete was so attentive to details filling the lodge with Fall leaves and colors, pumpkins, and so many awesome antiques.
The play room was amazing! My boys immediately went to the drum set. Prior to this trip, my boys would grab anything drum-stick like and would drum their little boy hearts away. 

The drums were one of the biggest hits for our kiddos. They were there every chance they could steal, drumming and pounding away.

 Outside there was so. much. space. for all the kids to run free. Run, explore, play, and so much more!
 Tetherball!!! Be still my games of childhood heart!
 And a see-saw!!! A see-saw! Can you believe it! Heaven I tell you. The boys were in Heaven.
 Of course the cattle were fun for the kids. All the toddlers were moo-ing away.
 Oh! And, this pond! Filled with fish, a paddle-boat, two kayaks, and a boat. This was amazing and so kid friendly!
 Tire swings!! There were three but we really only needed one! This one red tire swing was the biggest hit.
 A play set.
 This photo below is one of my favorites. I love the light, trees, and angle.
 And, this one. Photos of Linus not throwing a fit on this trip are gold.
 These brothers loved the tire-swing and I loved seeing them on it together. Enjoying and making memories that build their sibling relationship. It was all kinds of wonderful.
 Do you see this fun??
 Oh and the inside of the lodge! Like I said, gorgeous!
 Drumming. Drumming. And, drumming some more.
 I love this other photo too. I was trying to use my camera as much as possible to practice capturing what my heart sees. This one was a heart-capture.
 As was the one below.
 Oh and this beautiful, precious girl. Friends, this sweet girl is the sweetest! She is incredibly adorable, filled with so much awesomeness and loved by some amazing parents, siblings, and their friends. Nothing compares to the beauty of this little sweet one.
 Haha, and to contrast, this was our little Linus a good majority of the morning on Saturday. Poor little guy is cutting some molars and just having such a hard time. Being able to distract him with all the goodness was helpful, but he gave us a run for our money a few times. See that look in Dada's face? Haha, I do. And, I felt it with him.
 Yay, heart capture! The boys had so much fun having their daddy all to themselves.
 Ohmagoodness! This place had a mini-play house for all the littles. It had an AC as well as electricity! What??! Kids were all in Heaven. There was a pretty neat little loft in it too.
Daddy grabbed a photo of me and the boys. Their faces are pretty accurate to the weekend (Poor little Linus!). 
But, this last photo captures how much fun these two truly had! So much fun, so much love, so much goodness!
I can't even begin to tell you how blessed we are with the friends that brought us to this place. So many smiles and laughs were had. Solidarity among the women and guy time for all the dads. The kids had a blast with each other and I just love seeing them together. Growing and laughing, exploring and enjoying each other.

As much as this time at the ranch was such a gift for us that shared so much beauty and family fun, the friends we went there with are the gifts that make any trip so worth it! We could go anywhere with this little group and feel the same gift of nourishment and love. Their friendships are the gifts that are so good and sustaining during the ups and downs of parenthood (Because, let's be honest, there are major ups and downs with this gig called parenting!).

Love y'all so much and the ones who couldn't make it, you were missed!!!

I'll be sharing photos from our second day tomorrow. I tried to capture as much as I could! So, be excited!

Have you ever taken a trip with family friends? As a group? With all the kiddos?

The cost divided between us all made this trip so affordable! Especially once you divide food responsibilities and if you are able to pick a fairly local location!

Excited to share more photos tomorrow!

Linking-up with Cari for Theme Thursday because I really tried to do a good jerb with these photos; with Like Mother Like Daughter, because there was so much pretty, happy, funny, and real all weekend long!

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