Thursday, April 17, 2014

a day in a sonnet james dress...

i was so excited when i was asked to share a little bit about our day with the new dress company sonnet james.  i teamed up with three of my favorite girls, shelby, ginger and erica to showcase different dresses and different activities.

i tried to think of something great to share, some unique, fun activity, but the more i thought about it, the more i wanted to share a bit of our simple life.  it's a little less glamorous, but it's my favorite part of the day, and the part of my life i'll want to remember twenty years down the road.

the bulk of our family time together each day happens in the kitchen.  actually, come to think of it lately, it's the only place we're all at together.  it's not the most beautiful room in our house, (right now, it's the least decorated after finishing construction and painting!) but it's our home, and it's the place we gather as a family.  as 4pm rolls around we start gathering in the kitchen.  in comes piles of stuffed animals and the basket filled with treasures from the day.  shoes are kicked off, hair bows are thrown on the counter and real life settles in.  the girls are getting hungry, matthew's at school studying and i'm seeing the finish line of our day.  the girls usually do some sort of "homework" or art project at our kitchen table while i throw something together for dinner.  we usually keep an eye on the window waiting for matthew to get home.

dinner isn't always the most fanciest, in fact twice this week already it's been breakfast for dinner.  it's one of my favorite meals to cook, and one that i know the girls will eat.  as soon as summer rolls around our fridge is packed with berries.  we go through a flat of strawberries faster than is probably healthy.  in fact, yesterday i found a pile of strawberry tops hidden in maddie's school bag.  a big thing for me with cooking is finding meals that are simple to make (i am by no means a great cook) and that the girls can help out with.  a berry salad sprinkled with white chocolate chips and shelled pistachios makes for a perfect dessert to any meal.  the girls love mixing up their own bowl, adding in the perfect ratio of berries to chocolate chips- maddie almost always has to get cut off from them.

the girls most favorite chore to do are the dishes.  and while it's more of a mess, i love seeing them work together at the sink, passing dishes back and forth and sharing towels.  before long they're both completely soaked, along with the front of my cabinets.  they soap them up, rinse them off, dry them and lay them out on the counter to be put away.  as soon as they're in bed the dishes are usually put in the dishwasher:)  i want to always be able to find ways for everyone to get involved in the kitchen, whether it's chores, or cooking or just hanging out, i love that it can be a gathering place.

so much has happened in our little kitchen.  we've lived here since we were married, almost six years.  matthew has poured himself at least 4,000 bowls of cereal (literally.  he eats at least two bowls, usually a healthy 4, a day!) and leaned against the counter while he ate it.  it's where i nervously gave gracie her first bath, with my mom and matthew helping.  we've gathered friends and family in the kitchen for parties and dinners.  first bites of food we're given on the counters.  it's where i scorched a pot of rice so bad as a newlywed that we set off our entire row of town homes smoke detectors.  we sat in the kitchen and made plans for our life after matthew was injured and couldn't play basketball anymore.  we've had the bulk of our arguments in that kitchen, followed by apologies and commitments to be more thoughtful.  i love the time that matthew and i spend together in the kitchen.  it's often late at night while he's having his last bowl of cereal.  we stay up too late talking or joking or lamenting about our day.  and even though it's the typical day to day conversation of a married couple with kids, there are usually a few minutes where we can joke and laugh and feel like there is still a bit of flirting and romance:)  it's where gracie hangs her most prized pieces of artwork on the fridge.  she leaves notes up on the fridge for us, it's a constant reminder of their sweet little spirits and that these are days that will quickly pass.  it's rarely ever all the way cleaned, and it's a known fact that those floors stay spotless for mere minutes after being mopped, but it's something i've grown to be comfortable with.  we've had moments to celebrate and moments of heartbreak, and when you add up all these moments, our kitchen has seen every highlight of our married life.  it's easily the most joyful place in my life.

lindsey orton came over to capture it for us.  and i'll say that she made it look much more glamorous that it seems:)  and in honor of being totally genuine, i'll tell you that i did fix my hair and make up before she came over.  and i picked up my counters.  it's not usually that clean or put together, but for the sake of pictures, you know:)

and now, a little bit about the dress!  i'm wearing the marni dress in gray, you can find it here.  i wanted to wear the dress all day long to see how i liked it.  i wore it to school drop off and rushed back home to tackle my to do list while everyone was out of the house.  i folded laundry, sent a few emails, picked up the toy room and did the dishes.  i made it back for school pick up and then took the girls for a few errands.  two grocery store trips (who remembers everything the first time?!), visiting with neighbors, chasing lucy as she chased the girls on their scooters and back home to tidy up.  i gave the girls baths, got them ready for bed and even laid down with them for story time (and nearly fell asleep!) all in the dress.  i was so impressed with the quality of the fabric, especially that it didn't stretch out.  it was so comfortable all day, with getting in and out of the car, up and down the stairs and playing on the floor with the girls.  for this particular style, i like something around my waist- either a belt, sweater, or even a jacket over it.  i even made sure to wash it to see how the fabric held up- it didn't ball up and still looks great!  i'm a huge fan of the dress, especially how versatile it is.  thanks so much to sonnet james!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

maddie mae turns 3!

our sweet maddie girl,

how in the world are you already 3?!  it seems like today creeped up on us, and to be honest, i'm not quite ready for you to be a big 3 year old.  you're officially not a baby!  i'm still getting used to that, but i am so excited for all the amazing things in store for you this year!

it's been a big year for you!  from exploring nashville, to starting preschool, your first dance class, a california christmas, making friends to learning as many new songs as possible, you've been a busy girl!  we've loved the nights you've snuck downstairs after bedtime for some extra time with mom and dad.  listening to you chatter about your friends at school and sing your favorite songs is so cute we can't send you back to bed.  i think you know that too, and you do anything you can to stay up just a little later.  i can't count how many times throughout the day i see you look at me with your big smile, and no matter what i'm doing, or how i'm feeling, that smile kind of makes everything right in our world.  and guess what, your dad cannot get upset with you.  it doesn't matter what you do, he starts laughing as soon as you start talking and all is quickly, very quickly forgiven.

those who know you, maddie, cannot help but love and adore you.  you have a special way with people, and i think you always will.  whether it's the way your eyes light up, or the way you love to tease, or that big smile, it seems like people just want to squeeze you.  i hope you always know the effect you can have on people, you have the possibility to bring a lot of positivity to peoples lives, and that will be such a blessing for you.  i've received notes home from school almost weekly from your different teachers telling me how much they enjoy you.  i am so proud of what a sweet girl you are (even if you only like vidia, the mean fairy:)!

gracie has been your constant companion the last year.  you have become more than just sisters, but also best friends.  you're first words in the morning are always, "where's gracie?!" and your last moments before going to sleep are spent giggling and talking with her (while mom and dad yell for you two to go to sleep!) about your day.  i hope it will be that way for a long, long time.  i'm so grateful that gracie will have you right by her side, i think you'll be a great support for her, as well as the world's best giggle partner.  we will always encourage your relationship with each other and feel so lucky to be a part of it.

you have been our "easy peasy" girl, happy to go with the flow and up for whatever we throw at you.  every night as daddy and i are climbing into bed we talk about you and gracie.  we love talking about you.  almost daily daddy talks about how much joy you've brought to our lives.  i couldn't agree more!  the spirit you bring into our home is unlike anything else.  it leaves us feeling so blessed to have you!  

Thursday, April 10, 2014

fairy fun with studio 5...

our day of fairy fun is by far one of my most favorite things i've done with my girls.  if you've been reading my blog, you know how much my girls adore all things fairy.  i will admit, i love their fascination with them.  they are sweet, innocent and definitely age appropriate.  while we're fans of all the princess movies, i appreciate that the fairy stories generally don't include a romance theme.  along with that, i love when we can encourage the girls to use their imaginations.  it opens up their creativity and teaches them how to think outside the box.  a laundry basket, couch cushions, a blanket suddenly become a boat, a house or a secret fort, perfect for having an adventure.  matthew and i joke that the girls are often times playing more with simple stuff around the house instead of their toys.  it has helped them to play together for hours and saved us from plenty of "mom!  we're bored!"

the other benefit of encouraging them using their imaginations is hearing their stories.  when we tuck them into bed, it's usually accompanied with a bedtime story.  i like to make up stories that always include a "gracie and maddie".  the girls will listen to the first 30 seconds of my story before one of them sits up and interjects, "wait!  let's have them be fairies!".  a few more sentences into my story i'm corrected, "let's have it instead be about them protecting the pixie dust!  and there is a mean alligator who wants to get it!"  before long they're telling the story themselves, complete with detailed images of two brave heroines.

i'm a firm believer in celebrating this small window of our lives where we have little kids who love to make believe, dream and find joy in the simple things.

this activity can be adjusted for anyones schedule/ages/budget/location/etc.  it can be a simple picnic, just the fairy hunt (or any other theme), or even just making the jars.  whatever works best for your family!

you can view the segment here!

and i can't thank lindsey orton enough for coming along on our picnic and snapping pictures.  i knew i would need pictures for studio 5, and having her come along allowed me to just enjoy the day with the girls.  she is always so great to work with, not to mention my girls couldn't love her more!

the picnic
we started off our day with a picnic in an orchard.  spring is one of my favorite times of the year, especially in utah.  we threw out a blanket and sat in the sun.  i kept the food super simple (i'm all about simple when it comes to food).  fairies love everything mini, so we kept all the food small- peanut butter and honey sandwiches cut into small triangles, a berry salad with white chocolate chips, and cupcakes for after.  and if you didn't know, fairies only drink pink juice, so we couldn't leave that out!

ribbon chandelier
part of the craft tutorial i did for studio 5 are the ribbon chandeliers.  they are the easiest craft to put together, and bring such a great pop of color to any party.  i picked up wooden embroidery hoops at hobby lobby along with an assortment of ribbon in all different widths, patterns and colors.  a pair of scissors and a stapler, and you're all set.  for my hoops i cut a bunch of pieces in 1 yard in length.  i folded a two inch piece of ribbon over the hoop and stapled the ribbon.  once i had the ribbon all the way around the hoop i hung it up (i hung mine of hangers on our shower rod) and cut the ribbon ends so they weren't all the same.  it was as easy as that.  the trickiest part is probably picking out all the ribbon!

you can really think out of the box with these.  you can get several different sized embroidery hoops and cut the ribbons any length, whatever fits your space the best.  for a bridal shower or wedding they'd be beautiful with cream and white ribbons with pieces of lace.  you could add in the colors of the wedding too.  made for parties, hung about a dining room table for a holiday or even hung in the corner of a bedroom (i'm thinking of doing these for the girls room).

the fairy treasure hunt
before the girls sat down at the picnic, i took an assortment of fairy treasures and hid them around the orchard.  i picked up an assortment of items from michael's craft store (more info down below)  that would fit into our fairy jars.

we sat and read our favorite fairy book, how to find flower fairies, and talked about all the places we could look for fairies.  it really is one of my favorite books- the girls love spying the fairies tucked behind tree branches or rocks.  it's one of those books that help the girls tell the story.

after reading the book the girls gathered up their baskets, magnifying glasses and nets and got searching.  they loved finding the treasures around and were certain a real fairy had left them behind for them.  the icing on the cake was the mini bottle of pixie dust they found.  they used it later for the finishing touch on their fairy jars.

fairy homes in a jar
these little jars are my favorite craft i've ever made.  along with being simple, they were fun, easy and something that could be recreated with tons of different themes.  i was worried the girls would need tons of help putting them together, but soon after setting everything out, they got right to work and finished them nearly without any help (maddie needed some help getting everything pushed in hard enough).  i loved how unique they could each make their jars.  maddie had a pink and purple theme.  gracie chose lots of flowers and butterflies.

glue lids

fairy treasures
i found almost everything i needed at michael's.  it was so fun to pick everything out!  a little goes a long way with these jars, you hardly need anything to fill a regular sized mason jar up.  i found quite a few items in the miniature aisle (all the things to make a doll house).
- meri meri fairies (this whole collection is beautiful! i picked up mine from a local party store, zurchers, along with a great garland ($8!) that is currently hung in my girls room!)
- corsage pins
- mini mushrooms
- flowers
- succulents
- moss
- rocks
- buttons
- ribbon
- mini animals
- rhinestones
- butterflies
- mini birdhouse
- ribbon spools
- cocktail toothpicks
- lots and lots of glitter!

make it your own...i think these jars would be great for a party craft or favor, centerpiece for a birthday party or garden themed shower, a safari themed party or afternoon adventure.  you can collect rocks, twigs, flowers, even bugs from a family hike or walk.  a small mason jar and you've got a fun jar to put on a shelf (or take for show and tell at school, gracie loves to show them off!).  as we're getting ready for our cruise, i'm planning on bringing along some ziplock bags to hold the girls findings (rocks, sand, seashells, etc.) and as soon as we get home we'll put it all together for a keepsake of our vacation (also a great thank you gift for my parents!) that they can put on their dresser in their room.  the reason i love these jars is because they're a visual reminder for the girls.  seeing it each day creates a great topic of conversation (mom! remember when we...).