Colorful, Kid-Friendly Cups

We're all off the sippy cup! Sort of. George still takes his morning and pre-nap milk with one, but otherwise he drinks from a regular cup.

So, I've been in real need of some kid-friendly cups.

I wanted some smaller, sturdy, colorful, plastic ones, and I ended up with these from Amazon. I highly recommend.

I love the colors.

The best part is I color code them.

Laurie - pink
Stephen - blue
George - green

I leave them out all day and rinse them out periodically. These cups have made my life just a wee bit simpler. It's easy for the kids to keep up with their color, and it cuts back on dish washing. Perfect solution for a multi-kid family!

P.S. Any suggestions for what I should do with my huge wall space in the kitchen?

French Braids

I'm loving fixing Laurie's hair these days. It's long and she's finally letting me brush it without saying it hurts.

The other night, after her bath, I tried French braids. I think this is a great little summer hairstyle. Perfect for keeping it off her neck and out of her face at the pool. I had forgotten how to French braid, but turns out it's like riding a bike.

Check out this simple How to French Braid Your Hair Step by Step Instructions.



Well, hello there. May is/was CRAZY. The calendar was full, and my head was spinning with so many details about end of year school year schedules and celebrations. And then there was business as usual at home - laundry, meals, etc.

I'm glad the "storm" is over, and summer has officially begun!

We have few plans since I'm nearing what Michael Scott calls "the terminal stages of her pregnancy."

Almost 28 weeks!

Our agenda - Bible school, swimming, reading, visiting grandparents, crafting, playing with friends and eating Popsicles. Oh, and potty training. Can't forget that. Knowing we had another child to potty train, we installed these toilet seats when we moved into our new house. I shudder to think about the plastic, portable toddler potties.

(side note: Stephen cannot take a picture for love or money right now. Six year old boy problems, I guess. This was from muffins with mom. Best he could do. Promise he wasn't miserable.)

I'm excited about this summer because my kids are in great stages. They are really turning a corner. Their attention spans are getting longer and their imaginations are on fire these days.

They can play and play and play.

Mostly, they are content to stay at home and be in their own little "worlds." Stephen and Laurie will often retreat to their rooms for half hours at a time and pour over maps (Stephen) or play candy store or cupcake shop (Laurie).

George is winning most days with a 3 hour nap. He's gotta get his beauty sleep.

We've had a big project in progress for the past couple of months, re-building our backyard. When we moved in, there was a pool, which Stephen filled in right away. This spring, we (and by we I mean Stephen) have finally gotten around to putting down five dump truck loads of dirt and sod.

It's not done, but what we've got is beautiful!

Next project, the baby's room. We have a small office/closet off the master bedroom that will work perfectly as a nursery.

I'm mostly using what I have to decorate, artwork and an extra crib I'm borrowing from my sister. I ordered a changing table, and now I need to come up with an idea for window treatments.

We don't know if we're having a boy or a girl. We love the surprise! And with 6 years of parenting under our belt, we are humbled enough to not even take a guess. We have no clue. But when we do know, I'm hoping I can get my cousin to make a quilt like one of these.

On Stephen's last day of kindergarten we celebrated with a Little Ceaser's $5 hot and ready. Can I get an AMEN?

He had a fantastic school year. We love his school. It far exceeds what I could ever dream up for my children's education. They have this quote on the website -

"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire."- William Butler Yeats

I love that.

Three cheers for summer!


Organizing and Printing Photos: Tips and Tricks

As most of you know, a big goal of mine is to sort, print, and organize my photos from the past 6 years. Like the majority of us, I have been paralyzed by digital photography. We all have overwhelmingly too many photos, not even counting the ones on our phones!

I'm proud to say I'm caught up through 2012. So yay! My plan is to sort through and digitally organize through 2013 by this Friday. I'm halfway there.

As I've gotten knee deep into the project I have made some mistakes, learned some lessons, and picked up some tips. And since so many of you have asked questions and been inspired to print your photos too, I'd like elaborate on my first post and share a few tips I've learned along the way.

I was first inspired by Soule Mama's method. She uses 12 X 12 binders with inserts that hold six 
4 X 6 photos per page. Twelve photos total, if you count front and back.

I like the big binder because it is practical for housing tons and tons of photos.

I've settled on these We R Memory Keepers three ring binders in navy blue and these photo sleeves.

Another feature I like of Soule Mama's method is ordering prints with a thin, white border. It frames each photo and really makes it pop. I love the look. Most printing companies offer this option.

As for printing, I've gone with Snapfish and have stayed loyal. The price is right, they run great sales, and so far I've been impressed with the quality. I still occasionally order prints or enlarged photos from Costco because they have a one hour service. But for photo album purposes, I use Snapfish.

Done is better than perfect. I think that's the best approach. Otherwise, a project like this can become so tedious that you quit before you start.

A picture paints a thousand words. I don't fool with captions or writing dates and names of people on the back of photos. When I first posted about organizing my photos, several readers suggested that I write on the back of photos to keep a record of when, who, and what the photo is about. Others sent me links of resources that allow for fun ways to caption your photos. For me, it's too much. We are talking thousands of photos. Adding one more step could take me out of this project for good. I don't caption or write on the back of any photos. Remember, done is better than perfect.

Less is more. If I have a series of photos, for example, 10 fabulous photos of my son playing in the park, I've learned to print a sampling of about 2-4 photos. It's plenty! The fewer in the series, the more precious to look at. Also, variety on the page makes for more interesting photo books. Truly.

It's okay if my photos get (a little) out of chronological order. Occasionally, when ordering a large order, Christmas gets filed before summer or that random photo my friend e-mailed me from the pumpkin patch ends up near February. My advice is just be glad the photo exists at all! Don't become obsessive over perfect chronological order.

Do a lot at one time. To get the ball rolling, it was really helpful to take a retreat type approach to sorting, ordering prints, and putting them in their binders. I spent a large amount of time over spring break launching this project. Getting a big portion of it done in the beginning inspired me and excited me and made me realize that it's worth all the trouble.

Do a little at a time. Since coming home from spring break, I order and organize photos in smaller batches. Now that I have inspired myself, the little at a time method works. But I do have a definite "catch up" goal, and that is August 1st, before the baby is due.

Enough of the iPhone photos. Rarely do I treasure a phone photo. I have an iPhone 4s and the photo quality (while great for a phone) is overall poor and grainy. It does not hold a candle to my DSLR photos. This project has discouraged me from taking SO MANY phone photos. If my kids start doing something cute in the yard, it's worth running inside and grabbing my fancy camera.

Be careful when ordering sleeve protectors. I have ordered the wrong size photo sleeve protectors more than once. I have also noticed that the sleeves can vary in size by 1/2 inch (even the same brand). My suggestion is to order several of them and put them all in the binder before you start inserting your photos to make sure the sleeves are the same size.

Each binder can comfortably hold 50 sleeves that hold 12 photos a piece. That's 600 photos per binder!

The expense. Buying the binders, the sleeves, and the prints adds up quickly in costs. I've had to pace myself. Watching the sales on Snapfish has been a big saver. I never order prints at full price. I think the cost issue will improve once I completely catch up. I will only have to buy one or two binders a year. Three hundred photographs a year (give or take) is the average amount of photos I'm printing. It's more than enough.

Get in the picture, mama! I love the photos of me with my kids, especially as time passes by and there is a little distance between the immediate self-criticism I have about my appearance and the time I have the printed photo in my hand. When looking at the photos of myself, I usually think about how happy I was that day or how grateful I am for my family.....or even how hard that time was, but that God was faithful through it all! So get in the pictures, mamas! You won't regret it.
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