Current Favorite Children’s Books

Current Favorite Children’s Books

We love books. You will never see me walk out of a thrift store without a stack of children’s books. My kids love to sit in their room and go through all their books. So today we picked out some of our favorites that we read over and over and over again.
My 5 year old son’s current favorites:
1. The Mine-O-Saur by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen
2. There’s a Wocket in my Pocket by Dr. Seuss
3. The Little Train that Could by Watty Piper
4. Little Toot by Hardie Gramatky
5. Just Like Dad by Mercer Meyer (Little Critter Collection)
6. Sammy the Seal by Syd Hoff
7. Just Lost by Mercer Meyer (Little Critter Collection)
8. Peter Pan the Big Golden Book Collection
My 3 year old daughter’s current favorites:
1. Cinderella the Big Golden Book Collection
2. Peter Pan the Big Golden Book Collection
3. What Does Cow Say? by Joan Holub
4. Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman
5. The Gink by Tish Rabe
Our family favorite:
 The Monster at the End of this Book.
I used to only sit down and read books to my kids right before bed, but some nights I was just so tired that I felt I was rushing through books instead of enjoying the one-on-one time with my kids. So I made it a goal to have reading time in the mornings after breakfast, as well as right before bed. This new time has worked out so well for us!

Black and White TV Gallery Wall

Black and White TV Gallery Wall

A black and white gallery wall has been on my to-do list for a few years now and I can finally cross it off. My master bedroom was the lucky candidate since I had a huge blank wall around my TV. Attempting a gallery wall can seem frustrating and hard but I really enjoy the process.

Here is my process:

I start out by collecting all the frames I have around the house. I lay them out on the ground and put together some kind of arrangement. This first arrangement doesn’t have to be perfect because I end up changing it 1,000 times. I just arrange something.

Next, I cut the exact shapes of my frames out of brown paper and put them on the wall in the arrangement. I use painter’s tape to be safe on the wall. To make sure I remember which cutouts go to which frames, I label the cutouts.
Then, I wait a few days. In that time, I switch around the cutouts or decide if I need more frames. Once I found the perfect layout, I hang the frames.
I work from the middle first. The toothpaste method works great for me. Put a small dot of toothpaste on the back of the frame where the nail should go and place your frame on the wall exactly where you want it to go. I leave the brown paper up so the toothpaste stays on the paper and I nail right through the paper. Once the nail is in, I rip out the paper and it is perfect.
Last step is to add photos. This is my favorite part. The process was fun and I love looking at the pictures everyday.

The numbers in the frame is our wedding date. I found free number images online and printing them in black and white. Using a spray photo glue, I attached them to poster board and placed them in the frame.

I added a little chalkboard to one side. I bought a canvas at a thrift store and painted a few coats of chalkboard paint over the entire canvas.

10 Minutes to a Stronger Family

Bedtime is my favorite time of day. I look forward to bedtime on those days where I have lost all control and my kids have stopped listening. I look forward to bedtime because my kids will be asleep and I can have some quiet time. I look forward to bedtime so I can talk to my husband, have a snack, and catch up on TV shows. I love bedtime for so many reasons but, to be honest, my favorite part of bedtime aren’t any of those reasons.

I love the routine of our bedtime. Not the routine of putting on pajamas, cleaning up, or brushing teeth, but what happens after all of those. Once the kids are all ready for bed we all kneel down and say a family prayer together. My oldest son always insists on having his little brother sit on his lap and my daughter always sits on my lap. Then they usually fight over who gets to say the prayer, which is a good fight to have. We always end up saying 2 prayers so nobody feels left out. Then we give everyone hugs and kisses before heading upstairs for bed. The hugs usually turn into wrestling matches with lots of laughing. After that they usually grab the football and start chasing each other around the house laughing. Then we finally stop all the fun and head upstairs to read books. My daughter always yells down the stairs “I love you Dad” and giggles uncontrollably. Then lastly, my oldest son tells my youngest son “Goodnight Asher Bologna Sandwich” because he thinks it is hilarious.

This happens EVERY night. The exact same thing EVERY night. It doesn’t matter if we had a good day or a bad day, we still do it. It doesn’t matter if the kids weren’t listening all day and sat in too many time outs or if they were mad at me for not letting them have dessert because they didn’t finish their dinner, we still do the routine. We all come together at the end of the day and pray and laugh together.

Our routine only lasts about 10 minutes but those 10 minutes make our family stronger. I cherish those 10 minutes of smiles every night. Best part of my day.

One-on-One Time

One-on-One Time

My normal Saturday morning run was a little different this week. My husband told my 3 year old daughter she could accompany me. At first, I wasn’t very excited about his offer because I knew she would slow me down and she is impossible to get out the door. Why is getting shoes and socks on so hard for little kids? 

Needless to say, my patience was wearing a little thin by the time we got out the door.  But as soon as we started running, she turned around and looked at me with her big hazel eyes and mouth wide open smile I immediately felt bad for losing my patience with her 2 minutes ago. I let her lead the way which took us around the pond and some fun trails. She loved it and I loved it. We laughed, sang songs and I gave her piggy back rides up the hills. 

Missing my normal long Saturday run didn’t really matter anymore and I realized what was more important this morning. Sometimes we just need to forget our normal routines and spend more one-on-one time with the people we love. I’m grateful my husband volunteered me or else I wouldn’t have had this special moment with my beautiful little girl. Best Saturday morning run ever.

DIY: Wall Desk Tutorial

DIY: Wall Desk Tutorial

Today I am sharing a tutorial for the wall desk in my son’s bedroom. The materials for this project cost under $20! We used a 13 inch Melamine board. They can be found in the shelving aisle at your home improvement store in a variety of sizes. Have your store cut the board to your exact length.

The desk is attached to the wall on one side and to a wood filing cabinet on the other side. We screwed a small wood board (the same size as the melamine board) to the wood filing cabinet and to the wall. The melamine board should rest on these boards. 

For extra support, we installed a large L-bracket in the middle of the desk. Make sure you screw this into a stud. For a longer desk, I would recommend installing 2 L-brackets.

 Easy and inexpensive! 

DIY: Sponge Letter Artwork Tutorial

DIY: Sponge Letter Artwork Tutorial

I love easy, fast and inexpensive artwork and this project definitely qualifies! So, let’s begin.
You will need:1. Craft Paint2. Sponge letters3. Styrofoam Plate4. Card stock Paper

Step 1:Pour the paint onto the plate. Dip your sponge letters into the paint and press it against the plate a few times so the sponge is damp (not dripping) with paint.

Step 2:Start pressing your sponge letters onto the card stock paper. Work from the middle of the words so they will be centered on the paper.

Step 3:Let it dry. Place in a frame and you are done!

The full post on this gallery wall and details can be found HERE.

Boys Room Wall Desk and Gallery Wall

Boys Room Wall Desk and Gallery Wall

What I love most about my home is how personal it is. Before I started decorating my son’s room, he made a list of all the things he wanted in his room. I tried to follow his list as best as I could, except for the giant photo of Darth Vader he desperately wanted. He shares a room with his 1-year old brother so I needed it happy and fun, and not scary. Sorry Darth Vader. 

Since this room is fairly small, we built a wall desk to open it up. This gives his little brother room to play on the floor with his toys, and keeps my older son’s toys up high so little hands don’t wreck them.

We built the desk onto a wood filing cabinet for extra toy storage. This is the perfect height for our 5-year old son. He doesn’t like to sit and play with his toys, he is always standing so this is perfect for him. And when he gets older we can add a chair and make it a desk. You can find the tutorial for the wall desk HERE.

For this small DIY project, I used string, thumbtacks, and miniature clothespins. I decoupaged the clothespins with colorful paper. What I love about this is that we can switch out these alphabet flashcards for art projects down the road. 

One rule I have when decorating my kid’s room is that everything must be kid-friendly and can be played with. Instead of buying a traditional bookend, I used his toy dinosaur. The dinosaur gets played with on a daily basis but now it serves a purpose too. Which brings up one of my favorite tips: shop your house before buying anything new.

We filled these shelves with toys we already had. My son loves to make pyramids with blocks, he is currently practicing his numbers to 100, loves this blue car because the doors and hood open, and is obsessed with Star Wars. So we filled these shelves with his favorite things.

To fill the frames in his gallery wall, my son chose the pictures and quotes himself. Everything on his wall is special to him, which makes him so proud of his room. He loves to be in his room because it makes him happy and that is the whole point of decorating. 

The tutorial for the “Boys Rule” art can be found HERE.

Check out The DIY Showoff to see this post in their DIY Link Party!

Motherhood Spotlight: Stephanie Ellersick

Hi! My name is Stephanie and I’m writing from sunny Arizona! I have an identical twin sister and we’ve known Heather since High School, but we especially loved watching her as a cheerleader at BYU. I’m honored to do a guest post for her! 
I’m married to a handsome, curly-haired husband named Ryan and we have two darling kids, Jack & Julia. I love sweet treats and listening to Coldplay! And, two of my favorite things to do in my spare time are graphic design for my etsy shop, Juji Loo Prints, and painting furniture!

I was recently talking to a co-worker of my husband’s and he asked me if I liked being home all day with my kids. The way he said it made me feel like being a stay at home mom was something to be embarrassed about, although I don’t think he meant it that way. My own insecurities about my purpose as a mom began to nag me when he asked that poignant question. I don’t earn a significant amount of money for my family, I don’t hold a prestigious title by the world’s standards, and my days are extremely monotonous. However, I responded to him that I love being a stay at home mom…and, I meant it (most of the time)! My own ups and downs in my life as a mom have helped me realize that motherhood should be both endured and enjoyed, depending on the day.
ENDURINGI have struggled with infertility since June 2013. My oldest two children came so easily to me. They’re only 18 months apart and the challenges of a close age gap were real and are still etched into my memory! But, as they began to be more independent, I could feel the pull on my heart to try for one more baby. June 2013 brought the 2nd miscarriage of my life (I experienced one other before my son was born). We had just moved to Arizona and my mom had gone back home so I was left to deal with it on my own. But, wonderful women from my church stepped in and helped me through that time. 

I was cleared to get pregnant soon after. We got pregnant again just a few months later in October 2013. After seeing a heartbeat at the first appointment, I again began to bleed and knew that I was losing that pregnancy. It required a d&c and I was devastated! I couldn’t believe that I had just experienced 2 miscarriages in a row! I didn’t know very many women who had gone through that and so I felt alone and confused. I frequently asked, “why me?”. But, my husband said something after we prayed together one night that struck a chord with me. The thought that came to him was that while I was enduring the trial of infertility, I could also use that extra time to bond with Jack & Julia. I felt renewed purpose in being their mom and focusing on the present. 

As 2014 ensued, I found myself still saddened at each negative pregnancy test, but my focus had shifted. Instead of using all of my time and energy to think about getting pregnant, I tried to look for ways to be a more cheerful mom to the kids that I did have. I quickly learned that after I had grieved the losses (or at least let the hormonal roller coaster subside), I was capable of being a happy and involved mom! 

August 2014 approached with another positive pregnancy test. I began to bleed shortly after and felt extremely numb to the fact that I would likely lose another pregnancy. I didn’t know this was possible. A week after being tested and finding rising hcg levels, I felt sharp, shooting pain on my left side and knew that something was wrong. The next day, my doctor took me into surgery where she found an ectopic pregnancy that she had to remove. It seems contradictory to say, but in a moment of such sadness in my life, I have never felt so much love from my family and friends. 

Those seasons of my life had happy moments, but some days were truly a test of endurance. It is now April 2015 and my two years of trying for a baby have yielded me nothing as far as a cute, little human goes. But, I look back and realize how much my ups and downs have helped me see what a blessing motherhood is. It is truly a gift from God!

ENJOYINGOne of my favorite children’s songs is called “My Mother Dear”. The lyrics are:  
Like sunshine in the morning that wakens day from night,
Like flowers in the springtime so colorful and bright,
Like happy songs of bluebirds that fill the air with cheer,
A person bright and lovely is my mother dear.
I am just a normal mom, but like my favorite children’s song, I want my children to consider me bright & lovely. I don’t do crafts very often with my kids, I don’t jump in the pool and throw them around, and I don’t usually push them on the swings. I’ve learned that we all have different skills and talents with our children. So, rather than focus on what everyone else is doing, I like to enjoy my own unique mother-children bonding moments.

One small thing my kids really enjoy, that makes me feel like a successful mom, is to turn on music and twirl them around the living room. It only ever lasts 5 minutes, but they love it and so do I! But, if twirling your kids around the living room isn’t your thing, find your own memory making moment! Another quirky thing that I do with my kids is to watch cooking shows like Barefoot Contessa. They love watching as much as I do! Then, when I get a sweet tooth and want to make a batch of cookies, I will lay all of the ingredients out on the counter and pretend we are on a cooking show. Let’s be honest, I use this as a cover to bond with my kids, but I really just like to pretend I’m on a cooking show! 😉 

I’ve noticed that my kids don’t really care what the activity is as long as I look like I’m having fun. Since observing that, I’ve come to the conclusion that enjoying motherhood isn’t about what you do, it’s how you do it. My goal is to “do” motherhood a little bit brighter and a little lovelier! 
Enjoy this printable from my shop to print and give to your mother for Mother’s Day or display in your own home!