Adventure time with Mr. Fox

Weekend adventure time with Mr. Fox. Mr. Fox is a good behavior tool used in my son’s kindergarten class. And, as some of you know, my son is really having a hard time accepting this new life as a big time school boy. 90% of the time he just can’t stand thinking about school or talking about school. He can be quite the grump. But last Wednesday he came home telling me one of the kids in class told him “that I juss always bees quiet so maybe Mr. Fox will come home with me”. It was the most tender moment I’ve had with him about school since it started. Low and behold, Friday after school he gets off the bus gleaming from ear to ear. I was thinking, finally this kid had a good day. Then when he came inside he pulled Mr. Fox from his backpack and was too excited for words. So let us share with you our Adventure time with Mr. Fox.

1 Adventures with Mr. Fox

First things first, Mr. Fox got to take a bus ride with Brooks. We had a pretty busy schedule, but it was no problem, Mr. Fox didn’t have any objections to running our errands with us. Brooks on the other hand, was a little concerned about Mr. Fox’s safety and cleanliness. I eased his worries and let him know we’d take extra special care of Mr. Fox while he was with us. Off to our adventures we went.

2 Adventures with Mr. Fox

We started our Friday out by heading to Famous footwear, Beau and Braden both needed new running shoes for cross country. While the older boys delicately picked out the perfect sneaks for maximum running capabilities, Brooks and Bennett enjoyed a bit of hide and seek. More like, hide and hang half way out of the empty shelves, but it was still fun.

3 Adventures with Mr. Fox

Next up on the to-dos was Target. Brooks, although a giant for his age, is the youngest and suffers from a severe case of entitlement. I guess we have all just catered too him this long, and if he didn’t get the answer he wanted the first four times, he had another two attempts to get his way. This method has worked well for him. Thus, you see the boy can no longer walk, he wants to ride in the basket. And for the sake of just getting in and out of the store, I boost this kid as high as my t-rex arms allow and literally have to coach him into the cart. Even though the cart was his idea. It is insane. But sometimes I need to just keep the peace. Target didn’t have what I was looking for so this trip was short lived. But we didn’t leave empty handed, the boys each picked out some gum. And the world was saved.

4 Adventures with Mr. Fox

Saturday morning Brooks and Mr. Fox woke up early and we headed out to Coolidge to watch the older boys run in their cross country race. Maybe Mr. Fox spread some good luck to Brady, or maybe it was his new kicks, but Brady beat Beau for the first time in a race! It was exciting. Or maybe Brady won because he had a bribe planted in his head from the boss. Something along the lines of “if you beat Beau in a race, I’ll buy you anything you want from QT… Anything”…

5 Adventures with Mr. Fox

After the cross country meet, Mr. Fox joined us in the celebration of my 33rd birthday. Mr. Fox was happy to be in the picture, but Mr. Brooks, well not so much.

Birthday image Adventures with Mr. Fox

Sunday was a pretty uneventful day. Brooks and Mr. Fox played outside, jumped on the trampoline, played connect four, and minecraft. By the days end, Mr. Fox took a sunset ride in the wagon along the backyard sidewalk courtesy of Braden and Bennett.

6 Adventures with Mr. Fox

I’d say Mr. Fox had a pretty good weekend. I am really hoping that these small adventures are something Brooks will hold on to when he’s feeling down about school and the tiny pressures of a 5 year old in kindergarten. I also hope that he will remember these little moments fondly as an adult. I treasure the times I get to watch my children simply enjoying being little, using their imagination, and not thinking twice about the worlds opinion around them.

Boxed wholesale review

So I am already getting questions about my photo on social media. Boxed Wholesale…. what’s that?? I am here to answer your questions, give you some details and a boxed wholesale review. (This is my first order mind you.)

I found Boxed Wholesale through social media, it was a little Facebook ad. It was catchy enough to get my attention so I deliberately clicked on it to see what it was all about. (I say deliberately because I suffer from compulsive thumb disorder. That’s when your thumbs decide when to open an add shortly after your mind decided to X it out.) I thought, alright this seems like a pretty good deal for some of the things I frequent my local Walmart for. I am not a Walmart hater like many I know. I honestly do about 90% of all my grocery and home goods shopping there. I always feel like I am saving money when I go there. Saving money is important to me. Because, well… you know, we have a family of seven. I don’t shop much at Costco or Sam’s club anymore either, its just not close. Convenience is also important to me to. So now that we got the key points out of the way, savings and convienience, let’s talk about why I went with Boxed Wholesale. FREE SHIPPING! Just so you know, there is a minimum order amount required for free shipping (but your first order always ships for free). But for me, this isn’t a problem. Just imagine how much we have to spend to feed this big ole family. Yea, the grocery bill ain’t pretty folks. Before I just jumped on this boxed wagon I actually compared prices with Walmart online. And I was going to be saving. So, saving money, saving time, and I don’t even have to put on real people pants to  shop. Hello dream come true! I didn’t order a ton of stuff because I had done my shopping the Friday before I placed my order.

Here’s what my first order of biznasss looked like.

Total $88.39 Savings $93.44
Total $88.39 Savings $93.44

Maybe some of you are thinking, that really doesn’t look like a lot of stuff for $89 bucks. Well these are giants. Definitely more like Costco sized stuff here. Take a good look at that double Nutella, go ahead, nod and smile. Its HUGE!

Back to the Boxed Wholesale details. I placed my order Sunday 8/30/15. The standard delivery is two business days. My order arrived today. So they met their quota. My shipment came via FedEx. (GASP!) If there is anything different they could be doing, it would be shipping UPS. This box was really heavy, I kind of wish I would have weighed it. I can’t say that I am impressed with the packaging. There was a big puncture in the top of the box and the side was splitting open. But I won’t hold that against them, like I said this was a pretty heavy box. I blame FedEx.

First Boxed shipment

The big reveal. I love getting shipments. I don’t even care what it is. Once you’re an adult and really start adulting, having fun just isn’t what is used to be.

unboxing first boxed shipment

So there you have it folks. Boxed Wholesale be sure you check them out. I know I will be ordering again.

boxed wholesale

If you have questions about the order process, please leave them in the comments! I would also love to hear your boxed wholesale stories!

I personally invite you to try Boxed Wholesale. Using this code A7DKI you will get a $15 credit just for signing up!

It's simple, accidents happen.

It’s such a sad thing, when a mom accidentally leaves her child in a car. (It’s a much worse thing, when she does it on purpose. And those stories are two very very different stories.) Not long ago a local mother left her four month old baby in a shopping cart at her local grocery store. She shares her side of the story. I remember when the article hit my facebook news feed and I saw all these woman, some whom I know personally making statements like, “If you can’t remember to get your baby, you shouldn’t even be a mother” and “what kind of mother just leaves her baby”. Wow, just wow. It’s simple, accidents happen. And sometimes accidents lead to tragedies. I am not denying that this awful truth can be avoided by just not always being in a hurry, but let’s talk straight talk. No one should say another mother is not worthy, based on an accident. After watching her tell her side of the story, I believe this was a case of mommy brain, an accident. This was not neglect.

So now I would like to share a story of my own. I have accidentally left my child in the car, in a hot garage. It was shortly after I had my third child. I went to the grocery store with all three children because they were ages 4, 2, & newborn. As any mother knows, shopping with littles is hard, it’s distracting, and it’s exhausting. At that time shopping wasn’t very local for me. I lived about 25 minutes way from the closest grocery store. Everyone was in car seats, and there was little room left for groceries once they were purchased. I wasn’t a stay at home mother either, so my afternoon looked like this… get off work, pick up kids from day care, go to the store, come home and start dinner. Not long after I got home from the store, I immediately started unloading kids, and unloading groceries. My mind was fixated on dinner and I was in a hurry. I started making dinner and when it was nearly done my husband was coming home from work. When he got in, he kissed me hello and greeted the children. Then he asked “where’s the baby?”. For a second I was puzzled, mind you, being a mother of three was still new to me at the time. My husband noticed the groceries and ran out to the car. He was in the car, in the hot garage. He had been in there for probably close to 45 minutes, maybe more. It’s been so long since it happened. My husband wasn’t very happy with me, and I understood why. But he forgave me once I broke down with guilt. It was an accident. Accidents do happen. Now having said that, if this would have happened at a public place, I would have been hauled off to the police station, and then questioned by CPS. I am not proud of this, I am sharing this because I believe I am a good mother. One that deserves every bit of joy that my children bring to me. I deserve to be a mother, but I am not perfect. And neither is any mother out there.

So to those of you mothers that are quick to jump up and judge when you read an article, let me just ask you… Did you win mother of the year this year? Were you mommy brain free this year? Did you successfully complete a year accident free and not let anyone down in your family? I ask this in the harshest way, because I know the answers are no. None of us do, and we don’t need to go beating each other up about it online. It’s easy to pass judgement quickly, but your words hurt. It doesn’t just hurt the mother that is being publically shamed, it hurts the mothers out there like me, that have made these mistakes. It hurts because we love our children just as much as you love yours.

End rant.

Kid friendly tuna rolls

So I’m over here all, “This year, I’m upping the school lunch game.” and I’ve got the kids all on board. But let me first state that having tons of kids has a few advantages, like slavery, child labor and any other hard work intensive purposes that come up. In my case, they help me prep fun kid friendly foods ahead of time, and the older kids pack their own lunches. A few of my boys love tuna. Personally, I hate it, and may or may not gag repeatedly when working with it. That being said, let’s get started with this kid friendly tuna rolls recipe.

Easy Tuna Rolls Ingredients

2 – 12 oz tuna in can
1/3 c. mayo (not pictured)
1/4 c. pickle relish
2 hard boiled eggs
2 tsps. of wasabi sauce
seaweed sheets
1 1/2 c. of cooked sushi rice

Step 1: Start by cooking your sushi rice per package directions. Sushi rice cooks a little differently than regular rice. Combine 1 1/2 cups of sushi rice into a sauce pan with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Then remove from heat and let cool.

Combine all Tuna rolls ingredients

Step 2: Combine drained tuna, mayo, relish, egg yolks, and wasabi sauce. Leave the whites out and set aside. If you find that your mixture is still too dry add a small amount of mayo.

add chopped egg whites

Step 3: Chop your egg whites and add to mixture.

Spread sushi rice on seaweed

Step 4: Place a sheet of seaweed on a bamboo mat. (If you don’t have a bamboo mat, I would suggest using a placemat that is somewhat firm. Then use parchment or wax paper over the top of that.) Spread sushi rice on top of your seaweed. Your seaweed should be shiny side down. Leave about an inch at the end, because when you start to roll it the rice spreads out a bit.

Step 5: Add a thin layer of your tuna mixture to the center of your rice.

Use bamboo mat to roll sushi

Step 6: Place seaweed close to the end of your bamboo sheet and begin to roll. I hope the pictures help.

Step 7: Slice your tuna rolls to your desired thickness! And tada! Easy as pie.

Slice rolls

Serve your rolls with wasabi sauce and some pickled ginger. Want to know what is really great these days? The fact that you can find these ingredients in your regular supermarket! I used to always have to drive to my closest Asian market for things like seaweed and specialty rice’s. And that was a 45 minute drive.

My intention wasn’t to serve this delicacy for dinner, it was for my kids to take in their lunches. So to spice things up a bit and make it a little more fun, I found these googly eyes and mustaches in the baking section at the store.

kid friendly toppings

Here is a sample of our cool bento box lunches! I hope to share a few other quick and easy plan ahead school lunches.

Tuna Roll bento box

***If anyone is interested in a seaweed-free/tuna-free version please let me know. My daughter made some that way and I’m sure she’d be happy to share the recipe with you non-seafoodies like her and I.

Back to school


Well here is the obligatory back to school picture post! I can’t believe it, this is the year that all the ducklings are all in school. My baby Brooks is no longer a baby, he’s a big boy kindergartener! It is bittersweet. (Long sad sigh) …. (Cue dance music and begin to party!!)


So here’s this years line up: Caitlyn 9th grade, Beau 7th Grade, Braden 6th grade.


Bennett 3rd grade, and Brooks kindergarten.


It’s not just a new school year, it’s an entirely new school. So of course we all had our concerns. New school (literally just built), new system, new friends, new uniforms, new bus, new new new… I will admit it, I was on the brink of a melt down pretty much everyday the week leading up to the first day. But I will get into that in a bit. Let’s first admire how cute my kids are.

I want to give a big shout out to my husband for emailing the transportation department and arranging to have a bus stop right in front of our house! Whooo hooo! Since it was the first day of school, just the older kids took the bus. I drove Brooks to school because I wanted to walk him in. Getting to the school was pure insanity. There is quite a bit of construction going on at and around the school. So it took me nearly 45 minutes to get into the parking lot. I sat at the stop light waiting to turn left for over 20 minutes. But I don’t regret it because Brooks needed me. And I’m so grateful to be able to be there for events like this. He gets pretty nervous about new things.



He was so nervous when we walked into his classroom, I had a hard time getting him to let go of my hand. We found his seat, put his back pack and lunch away, and then I walked him to the area where his class was quietly sitting while his teacher read a story. (We obviously were late.) As I sat him down I let him know I was leaving, that’s when he almost lost it. He looked up at me with teary eyes and asked “But wait, are you leaving”. I had to say yes and leave him there. It was so sad. I almost cried.  I was so worried about him all day long. And this isn’t just a case of him being the baby of the family. He really has a hard time adjusting to new things, he comes by it naturally.

The first day of school the kids missed the bus home, I let them know this morning that if they weren’t all together, then don’t get on the bus. And I’m glad I did. Bennett found Brooks at the end of the day crying. I think he was probably thinking in his little mind that he was on his own. The three older kids waited in the bus line and couldn’t find the younger two, so Caitlyn took charge. She told her other brothers to stay put and walked over to the elementary campus to find the littles. It was hot and dusty from all the construction. About the time she found them, the bus was leaving. I have to imagine a lot of elementary school kids missed the bus. It was pretty hectic.

The second day of school was just as hectic for me as the first. This time Brooks rode the bus. Bennett walked him to the gym where are the kindergarteners and first graders meet. About an hour after school had started I got a call from the school nurse. Bennett was in the office experiencing  severe chest pain. He wanted to be picked up from school. This isn’t something that has happened before, so I was pretty concerned. But as a mother, my instinct told me something else was probably going on. My first thought was, “oh no, he probably got picked on“. He’s my sweet, kind, and sensitive kid. When I got to the school, I could see that he had been in tears for some time. He explained his chest was still hurting. I asked him some routine mom questions to see what was going on. Well, he was having an anxiety attack. It was heart breaking. He said when he walked to his class line after he had taken Brooks to the gym door, he saw Brooks run out crying, panicking and looking for him. He didn’t know what to do, so he went to class. He couldn’t get over it. He felt saddened and guilty. We talked about what he could do in the future; talk to a teacher, or ask if he can offer reassurance to Brooks. I was already on my way home with him and I saw in my rear view mirror that he was getting teary eyed again. I asked him if we should go back to the school to check on Brooks. That way Bennett could see that Brooks is ok. He said he wanted to do that. I also felt that if he did see him, he’d feel good enough to finish the day. When we got Brooks out of class, he was so happy to see us. We walked Brooks back to class, and Brooks started to cry, then Bennett started to cry, then I almost started to cry. It was rough, for all of us. Man, motherhood can be so hard sometimes! But I hugged them both and reminded them that school is fun. It was hard to walk away. My shy boys need school. I am glad that Bennett was able to gain his composure and resume his school day.

And happy to report everyone made it home on the bus the rest of the week.

Alright, Let’s talk about the real back to school madness.

School supply list. It’s out of control. Each year the lists seem to grow, teachers have their particular ways of managing and organizing. I spent about $300 on school supplies for my kids this year. And we do as much recycling as possible. I am seriously at my wits end with these outrageous lists. I would like to think I had a pretty good education, and having discussed this same topic with friends, we all agree that this list of items is not actually making our kids smarter. Let me just give you an idea of what was requested this year. For my oldest two children, one middle school and one high school, we needed 4 different color spiral notebooks. Red, Blue, Yellow, and Green. And they each needed four of them… That’s 32 entirely new notebooks, for only two kids.

So I want you to take a close look at this pile of chaos. Those are old notebooks, composition books, binders and folders. Many of them still in usable condition. Some of them not, BUT with paper to spare. Along with the requests of certain color note books are requests for certain color folders, with certain types dividers and so on. I mean really, is this helping my children learn? Or is this helping the teachers keep their sanity? I realize teachers do a tremendous amount of work with our kids, but there is a lesson being taught in all this organization. And it’s not a good one. The lesson is waste. Many of the notebooks I went through from last school year have but one or two sentence’s per page, then the notebook itself is about 1/3-3/4 full. I am appalled. Why is it that we are not teaching our children to organize their thoughts and notes without being so wasteful? What is the problem with simply drawing a line across the bottom of yesterdays notes and starting todays notes below? Why can’t we just take a sharpie marker and write MATH on a notebook and use it all year long. Do the children really need four Math notebooks in the color red? Is that making them smarter?? I do not believe it is. These are OCD requests. I get it, I have my fair share of OCD, but this is not right. Riddle me this: some schools have little blue trash cans specific to recycling, yet the bigger waste is in everyday note taking…. I DON’T UNDERSTAND IT?! Do any of you remember just taking one notebook and a few pencils to school? Do you remember being able to pick out one or two cool folders? How about Lisa Frank or trapper keepers?

Another major problem with all these supplies is the weight! I swear, we are creating back and neck problems for our future generations. My kids often complain about how heavy their bags are. I feel so bad for them, because there isn’t anything I can do to help them.

I would really love to hear your opinions on this waste, and ways we can bring this to the attention of the school systems. This supply topic, as miniscule as it may seem, truly weighs heavy on my heart. I have elected to do better about teaching my children to not be wasteful. I have started to un-spiral these left over notebooks and tear off the messy ends. I am saving the good paper and piling them into “college ruled” and “wide ruled”. So the next time they ask for a pack of either, I will be sending it to school in a previously used and newly washed zip lock bag. And folks, this isn’t just about affordability, its about mother earth. We can’t just continue to live like a bunch of takers now can we…


Now, to get off my soap box. Here is a picture of the kindergarten aftermath. He fell right to sleep in the car after the first day of school when I had to go pick them up. Poor sweet Gus.


DIY Sun Screen

DIY Sun Screen ingredients

So before we get started here, let me just tell you, sun screen is so expensive these days. And living in Arizona, it has become a daily necessity for my family. I didn’t decide to make my own sun screen out of frugalness alone. I really do enjoy using all natural products, and my kids do to. They love seeing what goes into what and why its better for our bodies, and yada yada yada. When I sought out this new DIY adventure, I did my research. The biggest question was, what is SPF really? All I knew was that the higher the label, the harder that crap is to rub into my kids skin. And most of my kids, a lot like my self, go fifty shades of aborigine in the first weeks of summer. So my right arm gets freakishly stronger in those weeks just trying to keep that sun screen from looking like war paint on their dark chocolaty skin. The struggle is real folks. But to be honest, we don’t use a really high spf. We ride around 30 most of the time, because we like to live life on the edge.

So here is the mystery of SPF unfolded for you. You’re welcome.
Sun Protection Factor
Answer: SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and refers to the theoretical amount of time you can stay in the sun without getting sunburned. For example, an SPF of 15 would allow you to stay in the sun 15 times longer than you could without protection.

So here are some things I found out while getting to know the ins and outs of homemade sun screen. The higher the SPF, the longer you can feel safe hanging out in the blazing sun. And, many oils have a natural amount of SPF, and zinc oxide is the key ingredient. I would say most of you know that when you use those easy spray bottles, not only should you wear a gas mask, they seem to wash off rather quickly in the pool. And my friends, we do as best as we can to live in the water in the hotter months. It’s the only way to survive. With DIY sunscreen you need something that can make the oils stay on your body, that’s where the bees wax comes in. It acts as a waterproof. The amount of bees wax you use needs to be pretty close to this recipe, too much will make it to hard to rub onto your skin. So if you over do it, you better have the patience of Mother Theresa.

I bought my zinc oxide from Essential Depot. And I’ve taken the liberty of listing the natural SPF for the oils that I used next to the quantity below. There is a site called Living pretty, Naturally, You can see some additional oils that are great for sun screen.

(I used what I already had on hand. I can’t even remember when or why I bought zinc oxide, but I was glad to finally put it to use.)

•1/2 cup coconut oil SPF 2-8
•1/4 cup jojoba oil SPF 4
•2 tbsp-1/4 cup beeswax* (depending on how thick you want it) SPF 15
•1-2 tbsp shea butter* SPF 6
•1 tsp vitamin E oil
•2 tbsp zinc oxide powder SPF 10 per tsp

Shea butter and bees wax

I used a white bees wax and grated it down with a cheese grater. I don’t recommend that method, I would suggest if you are going to attempt this, go buy the bees wax pellets. But like I said earlier, I was working on the fly.

zinc oxide

So lets talk about this zinc oxide funny business. Just so you know, Zinc oxide is a natural mineral which provides the safest and most effective protection against UV rays. Unlike chemical sunscreens, zinc forms a physical barrier on the skin, reflecting the sun’s rays rather than absorbing them. Zinc Oxide is the best performing ingredient for blocking both UVA and UVB rays. I stole that from the world wide web.

combine diy sun screen ingredients and melt

To get started, combine all your oils, shea, and bees wax. You are going to melt them down so either use a double boiler or microwave.

double boiler

This is my makeshift double boiler.

fully melted base

Once your oils, shea, and bees wax are fully melted remove from heat and let sit for about five minutes just to cool down.

add zinc oxide

Add in your two teaspoons of zinc oxide.

combine zinc oxide for spf

Since there is roughly 10 SPF per tsp, if you wanted a stronger sun screen, you can add an additional 1/2-1 tsp. But I have found that this recipe does really well for my husband, who’s nickname was “sunburn central” in high school.

make sure zinc oxcide is completely disolved

crush up any last clumps

Make sure you get the little clumps crushed up.

still until the consistency changes to a lotion

From there you just continue to stir until it is the consistency of lotion. It may firm up based on temperature. When you apply your DIY sun screen, put a small amount on the palm of your hand and rub your hands together. The heat from your hands will melt the oils down for the quickest application.

complete diy sunscreen spf 30-40

I am totally in love with this sun screen, and have had great results! Its smells great, feels great, repels that water for hours of fun.

Where I Stand

So it looks like there is a new sheriff in Town, Share Six. This is going to be replacing the previous photography group I was in called Project Ten. New group, new fresh ideas, I’m on board. This months theme was “Where I stand”, the title alone had my wheels spinning in so many different directions. If you know me personally, you know I have strong views on many matters. But aren’t always comfortable talking about them with people. Because, quite frankly, people get offended too easily these days. Having deep meaningful conversations happen few and far in between. Only because topics turn into debates, rather just listening to where someone else is coming from.

But don’t worry, I’m not going to really talk about debatable things. I’m just going to share with you Where I Stand in my parenting role. And how far I’ve come in accepting my place in my home. The struggle is real.

I never wanted to be a stay at home mommy. I can’t even recall thinking about motherhood and a family of my own at all growing up. I didn’t think about my dream wedding, prince charming, or the little house on the hill with a white picket fence. I thought about going to college, and having an awesome job that paid the big bucks. I thought of ways I would conquer the world. Be great at something, write a book, and eventually land on the couch of Oprah answering all her inquisitive questions on how I became such a great success. Add the dreamy full house music as you start to drift off and imagine it. Now snap out of it.

Well life didn’t happen that way. And that’s not a bad thing, it has just been a hard thing. So here’s where I currently stand. I left a great job making great money in 2011 to stay home with my five kids. I wasn’t happy in my overall career and felt like there was no “top” for me. The main reason was that I had a family. I just couldn’t move forward in my job with out traveling more, putting in more hours, and sacrificing activities for my kids in order have personal gain. It was the toughest decision I think I have ever had to make. I am not great (in my eyes) at being a domestic mom. I get mad, I get frustrated, I bark at my kids and even my husband when I get overwhelmed. I won’t pretend it was easier to manage adults than children but I will say its 100% different. And I didn’t know how to do it. I’m still learning that part. I often feel defeat because I’m not winning awards doing the laundry or cooking a delicious and healthy meal. I sometimes drown myself in feeling lonely because I hate that so many others seem to be loving this stay at home mommy life. I don’t hate them, I just do not relate. At least at work I had a sense of community. When our personal values were different, it didn’t matter we could relate to the job. Commonalities seem to be very important in the mommy world, or so I have come to find. I kick myself for not getting out there more and meeting other moms to combat that lonely feeling. I don’t because of all the mommy drama out there. There is plenty of it; from what we feed our kids, to how we raise them, to what school project we helped with (thanks to pinterest). I’m not that mom. Some of you may think “whatever crafty Martha wanna be” but let me explain. I don’t put my kids before everything. Don’t misunderstand me, I love my kids, and I would give my life for them in a heart beat. I just don’t do as much as the next mom. I don’t proof their homework, I don’t put their laundry in their drawers for them, I don’t make their breakfast or pack their lunches, I don’t volunteer to be at the school, and I certainly don’t enjoy curriculum nights. And mom’s out there getting it done and loving it, that’s awesome. You are truly a rockstar. I’m here to let all those other moms lurking in the shadows not volunteering to hang out with a class of 30 kids at the zoo in the blazing heat know that it’s ok, there’s another mom who will gladly step in. Do your thing, whatever that thing is. For me it’s working. If you see me doing a craft, it’s probably something I intend on selling. I tried to be that other mom, and it’s just not me. I tried to make cake pops for my sons class one year for a party, then the other kids wanted them as well. The next thing I knew I was making over 100 cake pops, something I had never done before, for a bunch of kids who would have been fine with a stick of gum instead. I wasn’t really making the cake pops for the kids, I was making them so all the other moms could see how cute they were.  Who was I trying to kid. I’m no baker. And if I am, its for my family. I have nothing to prove to the next mom.

I want to be a solid provider. It’s hard for me now to have an income. Having an income is very fulfilling to me. It makes me happy. Being a happy parent is also important.  I am still raising my kids, but just not the way I thought I should have been doing it. And that was a misconception of mine. I have a right to determine my style of parenting. It has been said “wow, you run a boot camp” and I often laugh it off. I don’t run a boot camp. I just stick to my word. I am firm about my rules. If I expect my child to do something, it better get done. There isn’t a lot of warning in my house when it comes to a consequence. They have, for the most part, come to know there are consequences to every action. And attitude is everything. Sounds like a scary house I know, but it really isn’t. We are a home filled with laughter, fart sounds, and funny memories. Just like the next house. I teach my kids to be independent, to be able to care from themselves at an appropriate age. (Mainly for my own sake, but also the value of the lesson for them.) An example, I teach my kids a few basic cooking skills right about the ripe old age of five. But I’m talking basic stuff, like toast, a sandwich, basic use of a kitchen knife, then as they are comfortable they move onto other things, and they usually tell me what they want to learn. I would say most of my kids could scramble an egg by the time they were six. Once I knew, they could make their own breakfast I stopped making it for them. Sure I occasionally get up and do it, but that is rare. More often than not they are making the occasion breakfast for me. My kids eat like Kings and Queens every morning. Eggs, bacon, toast, pan cakes, home made donuts, waffles, and oatmeal just to name a few. And they all task each other with an item and share in their feast. That’s just one example of how I feel I am empowering my kids. They do sometimes ask that I cook something for them and I agree.

I am just now finding my groove, accepting the fact that it’s ok to choose something for myself before putting that extra time into my kids school project or class party. My sanity is their sanity. I spend a lot of time with my kids. “Me time”  isn’t just important to me, its necessary for me. It’s fine to admit that staying home wasn’t my first choice. It’s ok that I am a dreamer. I hope that my kids grow up remembering how hard I worked to make that extra money that allows me to be home so I could get them where they need to be. I hope that they will recognize I wanted to give them life skills like gardening, raising animals, creating something, time management, and generosity. They know school matters, but I usually let the school handle it (if I need to step in then I do).

This is my youngest son Brooks, he is the one that has had the joy of having me home the most. He will start school in the fall. He is the one that hears me say, “ok we will play that as soon as I am done working”.

Dang Quesodilla

He is quite a character. He is five and hasn’t yet mastered making a quesadilla. But he can make a piece of toast, and a PB&J sandwich. He loves getting a “mocha” from starbucks, which is a kids milk with a splash of vanilla, he prefers no ice, that way he can mix the whip cream once he drinks most of the milk. He loves to go to QT and has just recently discovered that there are more than the two where we live. It was a pretty monumental Ah Ha moment for him.

Playing Monopoly

He is good about finding something to do while I get my editing done, or I’m working on a new post, or I’m sewing something. He loves board games, although he doesn’t really play them. He mainly goes through the motions with the dice and enjoys it just the same.

Playing with his Wild Cards

He is a lover of learning. He is kindergarten ready! He knows his ABC’s, counts to 100 repeatedly throughout the day. Loves to tell me he loves me, and loves to give me snuggles. This is how I know whatever parenting style I’ve chosen, its working out ok.

If you like this awesome set of wild cards you can find them on Etsy Here by Taylor Town Design. She is a local artist I found on instagram. And I just love her creative set of alphabet cards!

Lavender Love Maternity Session.

As promised, the images from the beautiful maternity session that inspired my DIY Flower Crown. This lavender love maternity session was a vision I had when thinking of my dear friends maternity session. When she found out she was pregnant she began to plan her maternity and newborn session together. And called me to help her share her new adventure with all her loved ones.

We have been friends for a long time. We met long ago when we both became mothers far sooner than planned. Immediately we became friends and we often supported each other in young single motherhood. We actually met volunteering at a youth center for young mothers, giving support and advice to other young mothers. (I’ll save those stories for another day.)

She has recently found Mr. Right, who is not just her Prince Charming, but truly her Mr. Right. She is now newly married and starting motherhood all over again, after all these years. I knew the moment she enlisted me to be the one to document this journey, I needed to make it extra special. I had visions of glamour, rich colors, femininity, and elegance. You can find the tutorial of this beautiful DIY Flower Crown HERE

So please enjoy these images of my dear friend ready to start in New Motherhood… again. She is so lovely that I just. Can’t. Even.

Once her sweet baby girl arrives, I will share the end of my creative inspirations and craftiness.

Flower Crown Maternity Session

Purple Flower Crown and Purple maternity dress

Handmade Maternity dress and Flower Crown

DIY Flower Crown

The first thing you are going to need to do is get yourself some materials. I purchased everything you see here at JoAnn’s fabric store. I have an upcoming maternity session and had a vision for dark rich colors. Deep purples and blues. And a beautiful flower crown. The mommy to be is going to have a girl so I wanted to keep the session feminine and of course glamorous. (I also made a matching dress, but you can see that after the photos are finished.) Mommy to be has me booked for the newborn session and I will be using the same color scheme for that little miss when she arrives.

DIY FLower Crown Materials

What you’ll need for this DIY Flower Crown:
1. Flowers – I used fake flowers because I am making a matching baby mini crown or tie back.
2. Some wire
3. Wire cutters – I used 4.6m wire
4. Scissors
5. Floral tape

I started by cutting the wire about 20″ in length. I came up with that using a very scientific method. I took one end of the wire, and wrapped it around my head in the shape of a crown. Then I clipped it in a very calculating manner.

I shaped the wire into a crown and pressed it against the table to flatten it out. Then I cut my flowers from their stems. For the larger flowers I cut off the entire stem. For the smaller ones I left a little room for taping.

Flower Crown Layout

Then I created a layout for the crown. Once I decided on my flowers placement, I began wiring them starting on one side.

Taping on flower arrangement

Since the little flowers had some slack to work with they were really easy to attach to the wire. And I must say, I’m not a big fan of the floral tape. Does a great job, it’s just my super grip strength that kept snapping it. Grrrr.

The larger flowers posed a different challenge. I wanted them to be somewhat flimsy so they can be moved after being placed on a head. So I decided I was going to string them on. And it worked! I used denim thread because it’s sturdier than all purpose thread. I would recommend that or embroidery thread. Then I tied the larger flowers in place and taped the thread to help stabilize the flower but still have some wiggle room.

Finishing the crowns ends.

Once I got all my flowers placed it I knew I needed to finish the ends. Obviously having that exposed cut wire is a bit of a concern and I knew I needed to keep my client crown-stab-free. After getting this far without any accidents,  I was feeling pretty strong about my crown game. I tied a knot onto the wire and positioned it up a few centimeters. I wrapped the tape around the end of the wire to make it softer. Then wrapped the tape up over the knot and then back down again to be sure the twine didn’t just pop off. And SUCCESS!

Add final touches

Then I admired my craftsmanship. I may have even worn it for awhile in pride.

Complete DIY Flower Crown

The Simple Farm – Totes McGoats

If you are in the market to find something cool to do during Spring Break, then take a morning trip this Friday to The Simple Farm! I posted about their caramels that we enjoyed during our Febuary workshop. But after reading her blog and following Lylah Ledner on Instagram, I just knew I needed to make the trip to check out her awesome goat farm. So we did just that last Friday. On Fridays the farm is open for caramel pick up, as well as fresh farm market. They have fresh eggs, produce, caramels, chocolates from Bee Hive Chocolates, and local raw honey. That’s just a glimpse of all the goodies she has!

Cute hand painted signs give directions to this Urban Farm.
Cute hand painted signs give directions to this Urban Farm.

Right as we parked, I knew I was smitten for this Urban Farm. Tucked away off what seemed like a normal street. Parking lined with rail road ties. Cute painted signs made from recycled pallets. When I think of Scottsdale, I admit, farming isn’t the first thing that crosses my mind. To be honest, I think of snooty, fashion forward wealthy people. All wearing their lulu lemon workout clothes (at any given time of the day) carrying a fresh poured coffee from this weeks newest trendiest coffee shop that probably cost them $10. I know I know, my “judgy” is showing. So when I pulled into the parking lot and walked back to this Urban Farm I was blown away. I’m not sure how many acres the farm is, but it was well laid out. There were garden beds every where, Vines, planting boxes and potting plants that seemed endless in sight. There were garden and farm staff quietly working on the plants. As you follow the signs back you come to a small covered area with tables to sit and enjoy some Mama’s Cold Brew coffee and creamer. A local momtreprenuer who has come to be quite infamous with in the greater phoenix areas. There is a cute little barn filled with fresh produce, herbs, caramels, tea spices, fresh eggs, and countless other things I can’t even remember.

Enjoy a cup of Mama's Cold Brew while you are thinking of how you will cook your farm fresh produce.
Enjoy a cup of Mama’s Cold Brew while you are thinking of how you will cook your farm fresh produce.

I forgot to take a picture of my coffee, I was too busy guzzling it down. I chose Mama’s cold brews vanilla creamer and my husband went with the Irish creamer. But the coffee is perfectly fine black, filled with rich flavors like cinnamon and nutmeg. I typically drink my coffee black but wanted to taste the homemade creamers.

I had been chatting via email with Lylah the week earlier to let her know I’d be stopping by, and to respectfully inquire about photography. Its important to me, especially since I travel in a larger pack than many, I ask about taking pictures when we go places. Some places don’t allow it. It preserves the spaces, and I respect that. You would be surprised at how many people (including photographers) don’t ask, and abuse places that do not have a policy. That can cause one of two things: a fee, or no “photography allowed”. So upon arrival she came up to the shop and was outside chatting with a friend of mine who plans to have some professional photography done on her farm. See her rules for photography HERE. And she said to her, “oh there is a photographer coming by today” and then my friend said, “yea she’s in there”! And then there I was admiring all her goodies, trying to decide what all I wanted to buy. Lylah came in and introductions where made. We got to talking about cameras and asked if I’d mind taking a picture of one of the goats. Ummmm, a chance to see the baby goats…. SIGN ME UP! I agreed and we headed back toward the house on the farm, I curiously sprayed my shoes with something labled “hoof spray” upon her request. And headed into the goats living quarters. They were such well mannered goats. A little nosy, wondering who this stranger was in their pen and what my business was. Then came the babies, soooooo cute! Once we got back there she noticed (who doesn’t) I came with a rather large group of kids. It just happened to be feeding time, and asked if some of them would like to help bottle feed the babies. DOUBLE YES! I went and got some of the older kids I knew would want to. Doowon (15 our Korean Exchange student), Beau (12), Braden (10), and Bennett (8). Caitlyn (14) stayed behind because she didn’t want to crowd the babies, and well Brooks (5) is just a little young and uninterested. He probably would have done fine, but I didn’t want to risk managing him around the baby goats.

Mama Goats Milk

Some babies took right to the bottles, and some weren’t as interested in feeding. They were more interested in sniffing us.

Feeding time for the baby goats

My kids love animals, all animals. And I have always wanted to raise some farm animals. But as of now, my HOA doesn’t see things my way.

Cherry is the only girl born out of 11 babies in the last month.
Cherry is the only girl born out of 11 babies in the last month.

Meet Cherry, the one and only baby girl. The reason our farm adventure turned into an amazing day out during our spring break. Because she needed a picture. Isn’t she the cutest?

Totes McGoats

Here are some of the Goats who received a lot less attention but are cute none the less. They are simply “Totes McGoats”.