I may never be the type of mom that knows how to get stains out of clothes, but I am the kind of mom that throws our stained items in a bin + throws a random “tie dye party” with the kids in the back yard every now & then.
Knowing what to use to get stains out doesn’t make you a better mother. You don’t have to be Pinterest perfect to be a good mom. Life is not one size fits all. Live outside the box & find the solution that works best for you. You are already enough ♡ & so am I.
Happy Mothers Day to all the mama’s out there! I hope that today was wonderful for you.
I started Mothers Day weekend off at my parents house. My dad made a French toast, fresh fruit, and potatoes breakfast for my mom & I on Saturday.
After breakfast, my mom & I went to our favorite local flower farmer annual plant sale. I am so happy about my picks. We got them planted today (Sunday) and I cannot wait to see them grow! I swear her flowers just take root so much better than anything I’ve gotten anywhere else around town!
After the plant sale, Niko & I took the kids out to the annual Chili Cook Off & Dessert Auction at church. I REALLY enjoyed the vegetarian chili. My mother in law told me that she would ask the woman who made it for the recipe for me.
The dessert auction was fun. I couldn’t believe how much some of these families paid for these homemade desserts! One cake went for over $1000! It was to raise money for the Youth Mission Trip. (My father in law let us know today that the entire trip is paid in full thanks to the auction!) Next year I really want to enter a dessert or two into the auction. I wonder how much mine would go for?! 🤔
My father in law made & entered a “Strawberry Fields Forever” strawberry shortcake filled with real strawberries 🍓 and topped with a homemade strawberry glaze. He bid on & won that for us all to share. It was SO yummy! My mother in law bid on chocolate chip cookies for us to share. We also ended up bringing home a red velvet & cream cheese frosting cake.
We bought plain white photo frames. I wrote Happy Mothers Day in the center & the girls signed all of their names and colored with Sharpies. After they were finished, we printed out photos of Moses & the girls and put them inside of the frames.
Mia & I had gone to Trader Joe’s the afternoon beforehand to buy several bouquets of flower arrangements. I took the arrangements apart and I laid all of the flowers on the table for the girls to make new bouquets for the Babas (Ukrainian word for grandma 👵🏼) except for the roses (since they had thorns) which I split 3 ways evenly.
They ended up turning out really cute! I thought this was a super fun way for the girls to be involved. I loved doing this with Mia at Findlay Market last year and really wanted to be able to make it possible for all of the girls to create real bouquets together to gift to their Babas for Mothers Day and thought this would be the easiest and less stressful way to accomplish that.
We assembled all of our gifts together and packed them up for each Baba.
I wish I would have gotten a picture of all of the completed bouquets. They were really pretty. Both my mom & Ali were really impressed with the girls work. I really hope that we made them feel special today.
Mia & Ella each made me a few things. Mia made me a cupcake 🧁 at The Mad Potter & a really cute card. Ella made me a mushroom 🍄 at The Mad Potter, a clay bowl in art class, a bouquet of paper flowers each listing different reasons why she loves me, & a box of “coupons” for me to cash in for various things like hugs, a walk around the block, or helping me out around the house.
We went to church, then out to lunch with my husband’s parents, sister, & her two children: Noah & Milana.
The cousin crew! Ella, Sasha & Moses, Athena, Mia & Milana, Noah. I can’t believe how big they are all getting.
One of my favorite gifts I received (from Kaden) was my Ukrainian mosaic butterfly 🦋 to add to my garden.
Of course I have my Ukrainian flag flying proudly. Then I added the sunflowers for the bad-ass Ukrainian woman who was giving out sunflower seeds to the occupiers so when they die sunflowers will grow. I moved the blue & yellow flower over to this space to go along with the Ukrainian tribute to my people.
I love love love the way that it looks! The butterfly really pulls it together. I got my new plants into the ground and I can’t wait to watch them grow through the season.
Well, after this busy weekend, I’m so exhausted I can barely keep my eyes open to finish writing this so I’m going to call it a night. 5 am will be here in the blink of an eye.
As Teacher Appreciation Week comes to an end I just wanted to share with you our small DIY gifts the girls made for their teachers.
Ella made a clipboard for her teacher, Mr. Vample. Mia made a clipboard for her teacher Mrs. Mcgahan.
They also made a clipboard for our “bus mom,” Mrs. Mace, because she is just the sweetest and has helped our girls (and many other kiddos) get safely to & from the bus stop each day which we certainly appreciate.
We bought each clipboard at the Dollar Tree for $1.25 each, and the rest of the materials we had at home already.
Getting teacher gifts doesn’t have to be pricey. It doesn’t have to out-do any of the other parents. You don’t have to break your budget. It isn’t a competition to be the “favorite” student, or parent. Your kid can color on a rock, or put nature together to form a portrait of their teacher. They can color a card. Kids are so creative- the possibilities are endless if you let them take the lead.
Your child just showing their teacher they care and appreciate them enough to take the time out of their busy play to make them a small gift is ENOUGH. Gifts are meant to be from the heart & that’s exactly where a homemade gift comes from ❤.
In our family, we celebrate the Earth every day, but for national Earth Day (& month) we are going to make sure to celebrate a little extra!
We wore our flower headbands to be extra festive on Earth Day on April 22.
Not Our Trash, but it IS Our Earth
One of our very favorite outdoor family activities is plogging: picking up litter while jogging. Since my kids are pretty little, we mostly just walk briskly rather than jog, but it’s still exercise for our bodies and it’s still cleaning up our Earth.
We tied a trash bag to our stroller. The park is on the other side of the train, so all of the trash collected at this point was from our walk from our home to the park alone.
I want my children to know that it’s up to them to change the world. They cannot wait for someone else to do it for them. It is our duty to leave the Earth a better place than we found it.
By the end of our walk, we had filled our entire bag.
We ended up going back out the next morning with Niko + the older girls as well. We walked back to the park, a different way, and picked up more litter. When we got there, there was actually a Community Park Clean Up going on which was really cool! They were handing out free gloves and trash bags for people to volunteer to clean up the park. I was unaware that our park offered that, but I love it!
We made “Dirt cake” which we decided to rename “Dirt Dessert” instead since it wasn’t exactly a cake.
It was really yummy and everyone gobbled it up! This is definitely a dessert that I will be remaking with different themes throughout the year!
We talked about the Earth & why worms are good for it. In case you didn’t know, worms are decomposers!
Drive Less, Walk More
This month our weather has really started warming up, so we have began walking to the bus stop to pick up Ella & Mia and then walking home. We bring a trash bag with us each time we walk.
Mia drew a face on a piece of cardboard we cut from a box. Then we poked lots of holes where we wanted her hair to be.
We walked around the beautiful flower garden at Ault Park looking for flowers to use as our hair. We tried to use only flowers that had already fallen, or weeds that we thought they wouldn’t mind us picking for them.
Even though the playground distracted the kids & we didn’t end up filling all of our holes, I still think that it turned out really cute.
5 Easy Ways You Can Be More Eco Friendly!
1. Stop using plastic bags. Instead, opt for reusable insulated tote bags & mesh produce bags. It makes carrying groceries in from the car WAY easier too!
2. Use a refillable cleaning solution (like Thieves Household Cleaner). Thieves is non-toxic, plant-based, & can replace literally EVERY single cleaning product you currently own. (You can order Thieves HERE).
3. Shop at a second-hand store first before buying new. Chances are, a second-hand store will have what you are looking for at only a fraction of the price.
4. Utilize your local library. Libraries go WAY beyond just books. There are so many activities and classes that they offer, as well as information on local resources. It is a great place to bring children as well (just kindly remind them to use their inside voices.)
5. Use what you have before buying more. This goes for food, hygiene or household products, decor items, anything & everything. It helps cut down on waste & clutter as well.
🌍 I hope you had a good Earth Month. What did you do to celebrate the Earth this month?
I can’t believe tomorrow it will be May! Mothers Day is coming up as well as Moses FIRST BIRTHDAY!! How the heck has it already been a year?? Then after that it will be SUMMER BREAK ☀️! So many exciting things coming up! Don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss out on any of it!
Ella came home from school last Friday with a new school project: Economics Market.
All of her classmates will be opening their own “shops” at their desk where they will be selling a paper item that they make. They will be decorating the shops, telling a bit of information about the shop/what is being sold. Ella will be selling Pysanky, otherwise known as Ukrainian Easter Eggs.
Ella is Ukrainian- we all are. Her grandfather, my dad, is a Ukrainian immigrant. Needless to say, even though we are living in America, I feel the deepest connection to this war currently happening in Ukraine.
I’ve always been extremely proud to be Ukrainian, but the amount of pride and gratitude I have for my heritage now is immeasurable. I grew up being taught that Ukrainians are strong people; the strongest in the world. I had no idea that I would ever have to witness the magnitude of their strength in my lifetime.
I know that we are very lucky to be living in America, yet I feel the strongest yearning to be there. If my dad never came to America, this war would be our lives right now and that is a scary thought. Yet I still for some reason feel as if that is where I belong.
That isn’t possible at this time, however, so for now I’ll just continue to embrace the culture at home with my family, even more so now. We’ll become fluent in the language and carry the traditions. One day, when it is safe for my small children, we will travel there. Today, we will make pysanky.
Pysanky is the word for Ukrainian Easter Eggs. Pysanky are believed to hold great power for peace & love in the world. They were originally used in Spring ceremonies to thank the glorious sun for warming the Earth after the cold, hard Winter.
The designs and symbols that are decorated on pysanky have significant meanings- usually a wish of good fortune for the person you are gifting your pysanky to. On Easter Sunday, you would gift your pysanky and kiss the recipient on each cheek for good luck.
There is an old Ukrainian folk tale that Evil (a vicious monster) is chained to a cliff. Each year his helpers go around the world and report back to him the number of pysanky that have been decorated.
If only a few eggs are made, his chains loosen and evil flows throughout the world. However if many eggs are made, his chains tighten; allowing love to conquer evil.
With all of the evil going on in the world, we are going to need a LOT of eggs.
Setting Up Shop
First, we found pysanky coloring pages on Pinterest then printed them out. Ella colored each egg and then wrote a wish for each egg on the back of them.
Next, we colored the pages for her shop and we cut them out and assembled them.
“At Ella’s Ukrainian Eggs, you can find Ukrainian Easter Eggs which are believed to hold great power for love in the world. Each egg has a special wish for you. Ella made these to support her Grandpa from Ukraine.”
“If you love ❤️ Ukraine, you should get one of these Ukrainian Easter Eggs. Plus they’re great for Easter and it is to be believed that these Eggs hold great power for love ❤ in the world 🌍.”
Her shop turned out SO cute! I’m very excited to hear how her project and “shopping” day goes. I am also excited to hear what the other children made for their shops. I really loved doing this project together with Ella. I loved that we were able to incorporate our heritage and culture to make it more meaningful to share with her friends at school.
My dad’s birthday coincided with Easter this year (the day after) so we went over to my parents home to celebrate both Easter and his birthday with an Easter Feast from the Wodka Bar. They offered a special, limited Easter menu which was perfect.
The pierogies & kolachi were SOOO yummy! I cannot wait to try more food from there from the regular menu! I also am going to learn how to make delicious kolachi at home so I can eat it alllll the time!
Mia also made a pysanky for each of us. I loved mine so much!
Overall, this was a lovely Easter weekend and my heart feels very full & blessed. We got to spend time with both sides of our family. We did an Easter egg hunt for the kids and they received nice spring time gifts. We had lovely food that I didn’t have to prepare or clean up. We truly are so blessed in this life on Earth.
I began my basement project a few years ago before I became pregnant with Athena. I had big plans in mind, but a seriously rough pregnancy left me to abandon this project until a later time, then another pregnancy + baby pushed it back even longer. The time has finally come to finish what I started!
Since this is such a BIG project, I am going to be splitting this up into 2 parts: 1. The kids area, this post, & 2. The “adult” area (laundry, entertainment/electronics area, & tool/cellar).
In the Imaginative Play area we have a grocery store/deli, doctor/wellness center, a mini roll top desk to play school, as well as the kids toy storage.
There is a chalkboard wall with a bulletin board on top for both school & “daily specials” at the deli.
This little stand is so cute and can be used for many Imaginative Play purposes. It is currently being used as a deli + coffee shop. They have their Melissa & Doug Sandwich Shop + their wooden utensils on top, and their Melissa & Doug coffee maker set on bottom.
I am a huge lover & collector of reusable bags. I buy new ones constantly! Having miniature size ones for the grocery shop makes my heart SO happy!
Their little roll top desk with the miniature globe is SO cute. They love to play school with it.
Under the stairs is their “parking garage” for rideable things like scooters and ride-on cars. I do plan to change this space in the near future though.
Having so many little kids, it has been really nice to be able to have a space for them to play and be kids and not worry about them making messes. That alone has helped me SO much as an overly-stimulated and stressed out Mama. Kids need to be kids, and this is their home too. They need a place they are able to express themselves freely and I hope that this space is able to be that place for them.
The first time I went to rehab, I went to Timberline Knolls in Lemont, Illinois. It had the most beautiful art studio with tables stained in paint and clay residue, colors and Empowering messages everywhere, and so many supplies.
Ever since then it has been a dream of mine to have my own art studio, but never really saw it as super realistic.
I recently spoke with a friend, who, ironically, I met at Timberline Knolls. I’ve always envied her life. She’s built her own little plot of homestead paradise in the middle of no where and spends her time homesteading and crafting and doing things her, her husband, and children love to do. That is literally my dream life.
Anyway, she made me realize that life is what you make it. I need to stop waiting for better, for more space, for my children to get a little bigger. I need to stop waiting, and start building my happy place now with what I have. So I began building an “art studio.”
First, I set our old dining room table up in the soon to be art studio, then added this Trofast Storage Unit from IKEA for art supply storage. I used this rolling cart that I already had to organize more supplies like paintbrushes, glue, washi tapes, etc.
I added this paper sorter from Michael’s to color code their construction paper. Not only does color-coding items look beautiful, it helps cut down on mess because the kids can visibly see what they are working with instead of fumbling around for what they need.
I repurposed produce bins to color code their crayons in the middle of the table. It looks super cute and it helps teach my kiddos to put their supplies back where they belong.
Color coding is an easy way to help teach toddlers how to organize + learn their colors at the same time.
I began hanging these colorful banners to make it look fun and inspire creativity.
I also began picking up a few functional decor pieces that I was very excited to use in this space.
Next, we removed the old, random, oddly-placed cabinet. We found out why said cabinet was randomly & oddly placed. There was a MASSIVE crack/wall damage hiding behind it. We got cement filler, patched the damage and waited 24 hours.
After the 24 hour wait, we began hanging the pegboard. I had purchased + planned to hang 4, but I ended up deciding 3 was plenty to start. I bought a few accessories with the pegboard, but wanted to wait to go crazy with accessory shopping until I had a clear idea of how I was planning to arrange it to go back and purchase more.
My dad & his friend updated the electricity + added lights above the table & outlets in the middle to be able to use electronic tools. I cannot wait to add things like pottery wheels in the future now that I have this outlet.
Using my Cricut, I added labels to the bins so that we are easily able to find the items that we need.
We moved the desk over here so they could play “Art Teacher.”
I am absolutely obsessed with it and the way that it turned out. I now have my very own art studio, filled with colors and paint stains and all kinds of materials for us to choose from. I am so in love with it and still in such awe every time I walk downstairs and think how is this mine?!
Baby + Soft Play Area
It’s a lot of work to try to keep babies & toddlers entertained for a long time, especially on days we are stuck inside.
This fun little climber tent was a birthday gift to Sasha. One side has a climbing wall, the other has a window.
The Nugget was a MUST for this area. We are OBSESSED with our Nugget. I got The Very Hungry Caterpiller print because it’s one of our favorite books & the print was just beautiful. It is SO soft and comfy too!
I have a lot of Primary colors in the baby area. I added lots of cushions, padding, & floor mats to encourage crawling + be able to roll around freely. The Lego storage blocks hold other toys so that we are able to rotate the toys that are out for open play.
We added a little library against this wall with the baby/younger children’s books.
I added these fun flower lights above this area. It’s somehow both a fun vibe and a calming one in one.
Well, that’s where I’m at in this stage of my basement makeover! I hope you got some inspiration for your own basement/family/play room.
I still have many plans to come in the future and just like with every space, it is forever evolving. Make sure to check back for part two to see how I did the “adult” areas!
Ella has now been a first-grader for 100 days (although with all of the remote learning we dealt with, it sure feels much longer than that) and to celebrate she decided to make a t-shirt with 100 gemstones in the shape of an “E” for Ella.
We used a youth pink craft shirt that we already had in our art supplies cabinet and purchased a large bag of gemstones from Michael’s.
First she counted out 100 of the gemstones that she wanted to use. I helped her draw a big block-letter “E” and she arranged the gemstones how she wanted them placed.
Once she got all of the gemstones placed, she used Gorilla Glue Crafting Glue to securely attach each one.
She was so proud of the outcome and was very excited to wear it to school today. She had gym, so she wore another shirt underneath so that she was able to take her gemstone shirt off so it didn’t get ruined during gym class and be able to put it back on afterwards.
We had fun making this shirt and it was very simple for a child of her age to be able to do mostly by herself.
I wonder if she will return home from school with her gemstones still in tact? 🤔😆
One of my very favorite hobbies is planning, especially for events. I dream of the day we find our forever home with plenty of space to host many elaborate parties for the rest of our lives.
Throwing Mia a “socially distanced” birthday party was my first event since covid-19 began, and I was ecstatic to be party planning again! I was a bit further behind on time than I had hoped, but overall my first “socially disanced” party was a success.
I’m excited to take you along to join us for an afternoon tea!
I had so much fun making these invitations and I was really impressed with how they turned out.
I found a free teacup template online, printed it out and lightly traced onto white card stock. After that, I bordered it with pink and added a pink heart to each teacup.
I typed up the wording and cut out each one to be able to fit inside the hearts. Unfortunately, by the time I realized that it looks best if you cut along the individual letters, I was already on my last one 🤦🏼♀️ but now I know for the future! I wanted the letters to pop, so I used drafting dots to attempt to create that effect.
I made a hole behind the cup and two holes above the cup to be able to tie in a string for the teabag and a bow. I attached the string from a white & gold foiled Christmas string I already had and attached the teabag to the string using a stapler to give it a realistic look. I asked my friend to tie a perfect bow for me because she makes beautiful ones and mine are downright sloppy 😂.
I then bordered the pink with a brown to match the guest’s teabag and hide the strings behind the pink card stock and tie it all together.
The waffle fruit bowls were a big hit! I bought 1 box of 12 small waffle cone bowls and an already prepared fruit salad and divided it between the 12 waffle cone bowls. We also had a cream cheese fruit dip to be used as a sauce to drizzle on top of each bowl, or to dip your fruit skewer in.
I would have preferred to buy my flowers from my friend, Celeste, the owner & artist of Village General; but due to lack of time, I purchased two small, half-price, day-old bouquets and blended them together to create the look I was going for.
I found some Celestial Caffine-Free Fruit Tea Sampler to serve the children. I thought that fruit flavored tea would go over well with the children, and there were multiple really yummy options for them to choose from! Even my pickiest of all found a flavor he enjoyed!
I had tried desperately to find some colorful macaroons, but had no luck tracking any down. I decided to substitute my original plan with meringues instead and that worked out just fine.
I made the pressed flower sugar cookies that turned out very cute! The other two cookies were purchased: Frosted Sugar Cookies in pink & of course, Verona cookies because you can’t have tea without those!
The bottom layer was simply a few boxes of powdered donuts, nothing too fancy. I would have liked to get the mini powdered donuts, but one package of them cost as much as 4 packages of the large ones, so I decided to go with those for budget purposes.
My mom found very cute little tea party plates that really pulled the theme together and came in several different patterns to match the various colors. They have an entire tea party set as well, that would make it even more adorable!
More food that was unfortunately not photographed was:
Chicken Salad Crossant Sandwiches
Fairy Bread Sandwiches
Ham & Cheese Sandwiches
I found these plain white tea cups at the thrift store for 50 cents each. Each kid was given their own tea cup to decorate with sharpie to take home with them.
When decorating your own mugs or teacups with sharpies, it is important to bake them in the oven at 250°F for at least 2 hours so that the sharpie does not wash off.
I had planned to incorporate the tea cups into a game of having the children race with full tea cups of water to the fence and back while spilling the least amount of water, but tea went into the cups before I was able to get that far 🤦🏼♀️.
We also found many fun dress up ensembles at the thrift. The girls had a blast dressing up in boas, hats, and beads galore.
It was a really lovely day and I am very pleased with the turn out.
I cannot wait to begin planning for Thea’s FIRST birthday coming up in October (which if you know me, know that it is my FAVORITE month)! & Ella’s birthday in November!
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