Little Summer Cuts

Motherhood, Uncategorized

We went with Grandma Colleen to lunch today at Panera (I had a pick 2: Mediterranian Veggie Sandwich + Strawberry Poppyseed Salad without chicken… SO yum! The girls both had mac & cheese + strawberry yogurt) then took Sasha + Athena to get their hairs cut for summer!

We wanted to break the girls up by the big & little so it wouldn’t be as overwhelming for anyone which was a really good idea.

Before

During

After

They look so cute & behaved so well today. I was so proud of them!!

Back to mom life.

Until next time ♡ Mama Morozov

A Year With Moses

Motherhood, Uncategorized

I can’t believe it was Moses’ birthday yesterday!! A whole year has passed since he was born. He’s my best friend. My little dude. My Mosie Wosie. We have a special connection that no one else can understand, but I’ll try to explain it to you ❤

This photo was taken the day before he was born.  I was so excited to meet my baby. We waited until birth to find out the gender.

Towards the end of the day I began feeling extremely nervous. More nervous than with any of my others babies births. A different nervous, like something was wrong. Maybe it was the fact that I didn’t know the gender, or maybe it was because I was using a different doctor & hospital this time because of financial reasons. Whatever it was, my intuition is strong.

I woke up still nervous as can be. A total anxious wreck. More nervous than excited. My father in law asked if I was normally this nervous. I said, “no. Not at all.” We headed to the hospital.

Before surgery, I had a terrible feeling. During prep, I had to have my spinal done twice because the first one wasn’t done correctly. This time I felt a “pop” that I’ve never felt before in any previous c-section. I remember hoping I wasn’t paralyzed when this was all over. 

During the surgery, everything seemed to be going fine. They let me know I would feel pressure, and my husband said “it’s a boy!” The look on his face was all worth the wait. That was one of my favorite memories of seeing Niko.

They didn’t let me hold him right away. That was weird. It didn’t hit me that something was wrong yet. I asked to hold him. Niko handed him to me and took this photo of us. I began feeling really weak. I was pouring sweat. I told Niko he needed to hold him. I began feeling scared. This didn’t feel right. I asked Niko to hold my hand. I felt like I maybe wasn’t going to make it through this time.

I was told the doctor sliced my bladder and another team was on their way for a bladder surgery. I don’t remember much else until we got back to the room. My brain isn’t ready to remember yet.

The doctor told us we were not allowed to have any more babies because my uterus & bladder are now fused together. I was told I would need to wear a catheter for at least 2.5 weeks, possibly indefinitely- just depends on how well my body heals.

After an extremely traumatic birth experience, we made it through- alive & together. He was perfect.

Because of the birth trauma, nursing was difficult for us in the beginning. Everyone around me was trying to push me to give in to the formula, but I dug in my heels. There was NO was I was going to sacrifice nursing my baby.

My husband had to be home with the girls, so I was alone most of the day + night in the hospital- that was really hard for me. Like really hard. I held a grudge about that for a long time and every now and then those hurt feelings still pop up.

My mom came as often as she could to try to keep me in good spirits and fed. Normally I love me some good hospital cuisine room service, but I’d rate this cafeteria 1 star at best.

While I was alone in my room, my emotions hit me. I was in total shock over what happened. I felt betrayed being left alone, especially so quickly, after what happened. I felt grief and loss over the fact I was told I couldn’t carry anymore children, that was not our plan at all and that decision was taken from me. I felt anger for that. I felt worried that my sadness would affect my bonding with my son. I felt guilty for being upset. I was unsure of what the outcome of this injury would be. I was worried about what our financial situation would look like since Niko had to take off work to be our primary caregiver. I was a total mess of emotions

I was stuck inside a shitty hospital, with a shitty view, and had no idea what the future was about to bring so I cried. And while I was crying a nurse walked in. She did she said nothing. She did her business then left. Then returned with a piece of paper, maybe it was a packet, and told me she needed me to fill it out. It was scale to find out if I had post-partum depression.

I didn’t have post partum depression. I had birth trauma, natural emotions, and was totally out of control of my own body & health. I had a life changing situation occur

Once we came home, I began feeling better. I don’t do so well in hospitals. Never have. Usually I’m up walking around as soon as I return to my room and beg the doctors to let me leave until the minute my discharge papers are in my hand.

I was pretty immobile with the catheter. When I laid down, all of the urine pooled until I stood up. I’d have to stand at the top of the stairs while my husband walked the bag down it to get it to fully drain. Turns out, it was put in incorrectly and wasn’t properly draining. I learned this while checking to see if my bladder healed. They strapped me to this metal table horizontally, but they had to turn the table up vertically to get it to drain at all. I’m lucky I didn’t get a serious infection.

For the first several months after I was still moving much slower than normal, but I was loving every second of getting to know Moses. We have been inseparable since his birth.

He is a total Mama’s Boy & I couldn’t be happier about it. Since he’s our baby, I try to appreciate the moments more. I try to not complain when he needs more of me than I have to give. I will carry him as long as he’ll let me. I will nurse him as long as he wants. He’s my baby & I won’t rush these precious last moments.

He’s my second chance at being a boy mom. I messed up my first time so badly & was “robbed” of my boy mom experience by my relapse after his c-section. I missed so many important parts of his life while I struggled to get sober. I so desperately wanted a second chance.

I got my second chance & this time I won’t mess it up. I was convinced for so long that God wasn’t going to let me have another chance with a son as “punishment” for not taking better care of my first. I was given another chance in exchange for my ability to have anymore children. He was well worth it.

[*Just to clarify- I do not see my girls as a punishment at all. I love them each to death, they are amazing & have taught me so much about sisterhood both at home and the broader sense of the word. They are each a piece of me and a necessary part of my life lessons, some I’m learning now & others I’ll continue to learn along the way.]

He has the sweetest heart & knows just how to melt yours. He’s a total cuddle bug. He loves music & dancing to it. He’s picky about food, but when he really likes something he makes it know with a loud “mmm” and a smack on the highchair. He’s shy around new friends, but once he opens up he has such a fun personality. We can’t go anywhere without someone stopping to comment on how beautiful of a boy he is. On two totally separate occasions, an elderly woman has walked up to him just to tell him he makes the world a better place. That can’t be coincidence.

He still nurses regularly throughout the day and at least once at night. He’s in 2T clothing already and around 25 pounds.

He has 8 teeth. 4 on top, 4 on the bottom. He’s cruising along, but not yet walking on his own. He’s starting to say a few words. He now says “stop” when his sisters are bothering him too hard. It comes out more as “op,” but it’s clear he knows what he means. He also now says “up” when he wants to be held.

We had a really nice simple birthday celebration for him last night We ordered Larosa’s Pizza and shared cake & ice cream. He “opened” his presents and played. His real celebration will be this weekend.

I am so very grateful for Moses and this past year. He has brought us so much joy, gratitude, and so much love. He has so much love just flowing from his tiny little body. His aura is absolutely hypnotizing.

I am excited to see who he becomes as he grows. I will continue to take these moments all in and not take any of them for granted. Before I know it, these days will be a distant memory that I miss terribly, no matter how hard it gets sometimes.

We love you so much Mosie ❤ You truly do make the world a better place because of you.

Until next time ♡ Mama Morozov

What’s Been Going on at Mama Morozov’s Home

home, Motherhood, Uncategorized

Happy Monday!! It started out a sort of overcast morning over here on this day so I’m catching up on housework. I have a sort of “unwritten rule” that dreary/overcast days are for housework and sunny days are for yardwork because I don’t want to miss any time with the sun.

We had a really great Sunday Family Day yesterday. The sun was shining, the kids were playing. We skipped church since the kids have some yucky cold symptoms going on and just hung out at home together.

My gardens have come along so much this week! There’s still tons to be done though! I’d like to get mulch down this week before the crazy amount of weeds return!

I filled my basket planter with these adorable trailing white flowers that will hang down under my Ukrainian flag. I’m really excited to see how far they grow!

I weeded & mulched this small garden bed this week. I used 2 bags and will still need to add at least one more bag here. This space was very low down compared to the grass around it and since it had probably never been mulched before I really want to get a good few layers on so the weeds don’t come back as heavy next year.

We brought our grill back out and bought a few needed grill tools for it.

Niko made hot dogs, vegetarian hot dogs, and the most delicious corn on the cob. I heated up the vegetarian baked beans & brought out watermelon, chips, and potato salad.

I planted this clematis in this planter. I’m so excited for the vines to take on a life of its own on this along the tower’s shapes. It’s going to be so beautiful especially when it has more purple flowers growing up it.

My ranunculus flowers are blooming and they are SO beautiful! One day I will have a much larger container filled with these beauties, but I’m SO happy with my start.

It has been so hot out lately & summer break is coming up so I decided it would be fun to get this inflatable pool for the kids to use this summer. It’s a lot of fun and the kids had a blast playing in it all day long.

Anyone have any tips on how to keep an inflatable pool clean all season? They always seem to get so gross after the first use.

I spoke with my neighbor last night and she gave me the compliment that my back yard is very pleasant to look at. That made me really happy. My hard work is making a difference for not only my own family but for my neighbors as well!!

It is my goal that while we are living in this home in Deer Park, someone nominates us for a Beautification Award. Her compliment made me really hopeful that could actually come true one day! I’ll just have to keep beautifying it for now.

Until next time ♡ Mama Morozov

Mother’s Day 2022

Crafts & DIY, Motherhood, Uncategorized

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.

Gifts

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.

Noah, Ella, Luda, Mia, Ali, Niko & Moses, me, Athena, Kevin, Milana, Sasha

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.

What was the best part of Mothers Day for you?

Until next time ♡ Mama Morozov

Ukrainian Pysanky 🇺🇦🥚🐣

Crafts & DIY, Motherhood, Uncategorized

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.

My dad & I on his birthday last year (April 2021) after celebrating with authentic Ukrainian cuisine including pierogies & borscht.

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

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.

Easter Celebration

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.

Happy Easter y’all.

One Room Challenge | Main Bathroom

home, Uncategorized

This bathroom makeover has been on my to do list for a long time! I took a hiatus from working on any big projects around the house. Having our last three babies back to back took a pretty big toll on me physically and mentally.

After Moses was born, we had planned on moving and began the house-hunting process. Eventually, we landed on holding on this home while finishing up paying it off before we move, in order to gain a higher down-payment in the end. With Deer Park being an “up & coming neighborhood,” our home has already risen in value quite a bit from it’s purchase price & will only continue to rise as both our neighborhood & home continue to improve. Once we knew we were staying put, I really started getting to work on making our home work better for us and our growing kids. This room really got me excited to start getting our home together again, one space at a time.

Before:

I’ll start out by saying: I couldn’t stand this room. While I like all colors, Blue is my least favorite. It does not bring me any joy, unless it’s teal. I love teal.

The bathroom is a heavy traffic, very used room by not only our family, but usually by any visitors we have also, so I really wanted it to be a room I enjoyed being in. Mission ACCOMPLISHED!!!! I’m now obsessed with it!

Looking back at these pictures made me remember how much I couldn’t stand this room. I always felt so angry every time I was in this room, which was a major problem considering I spend a significant portion of my life in this room.

The Process

First step: paint! I used Rock Garden by Sherwin Williams. It is SO beautiful. It’s even better than I imagined it would be.

I took these photos as soon as I finished the second coat, while it was still drying. I was already so in love with it!

I painted the trim this time so that the color goes all the way to the ceiling. This made the room feel a lot taller, which tricks us into feeling like it is a larger room than it is.

When it was dry the next morning, I loved it even more! It really is the perfect color!

Next, I switched out the plastic outlet covers for gold ones. I also found gold cabinet pulls + knobs for both the sink vanity and this cabinet as well and ordered those off Etsy.

I put my First Aid box back (which I LOVE by the way, even more so now with the nice color contrast) and shopped my home for this basket to store toilet paper in. It fit perfectly! I had Niko hang a this planter in the corner with a faux plant. I found a similar little plant stand to place my small diffuser in.

I found this beautiful indoor plant at Kroger. It was the only one, and also in the only unbreakable pot which is important in the event that one of my kids or cats happen to knock it off the windowsill. It is also on the list of the best plants for the bathroom! I took it as a sign that it was meant just for me! The girls added a couple of their bath toys which I thought looked cool next to it.

Our previous bath toy storage was not working out for us so I picked up this across the tub toy holder from Target.

As soon as my pulls + knobs arrived, Sasha & Daddy put them on for me. I love them so much!

I am going to have so much fun finding + collecting different hand towels for this room.

I swapped out the old small silver faucet for this beautiful gold one to pull together all the gold accessories. It matches perfectly with the pulls on the cabinet above the toilet.

Once I got it swapped out, I realized that it was too tall (this is why measuring is important 🤦🏼‍♀️) and I couldn’t open the medicine cabinet behind the mirror anymore. The cabinet is vintage, original to the house (minus the black paint) and built into the inside of the wall. At first I was devastated and thought it was a total failure, but then Niko pointed out that we could move the hinges on the cabinet door so that we could raise the door enough to open it. That worked out great!! I’m absolutely in love with it.

Right before I started this bathroom project, the kids broke the door and it split halfway and was dragging against the floor tile, scuffing it up, so we just decided to take it down. It immediately made the bathroom SO much bigger. I’m talking double in size. We decided to keep the door off.

After a few weeks with it off, we decided that we need *some* privacy since the neighbors could see directly in our bathroom through our dining room window. We hung this hula girl bead curtain that we ordered from Etsy so we could get the privacy we need, without sacrificing space. She dances when you walk through the beads.

Eventually I plan to have “pocket doors” installed, because the next owners may not be aa fond of bead curtains as we are 😂. Having no door made me realize how crucial it is to not lose such a significant amount of space though. “Pocket doors” are the PERFECT solution for that. There will be actual, solid-door privacy, without compromising any space. I would also like to have the floor re-tiled with a beautiful black & white tile one day, but for now I’m considering this a finished project.

The bead curtain looks even better from the inside! You can see the details so well.

I also really love the new towel rack! I got that from Target for “free” using my Target Circle credits!

After finishing this bathroom makeover and hanging the bead curtain, I’ve officially decided that this tiny, dingy hallway in front of the bathroom is going to be my next indoor project. The rooms branching off from it are all finished and looking SO nice, but this hallway really takes away from the full potential. Plus small projects always lead to big impacts!

I hope you enjoyed my bathroom makeover! Make sure to subscribe so you do not miss out on future projects! I have a few REALLY fun ones in the works that you definitely won’t want to miss!

Christmas 2021

home, Motherhood, Uncategorized

I’m a little late getting this post up, but I’ve been working around the clock making Christmas happen while taking care of a whole house of sick kiddos. After a week back at school, I’m finally finding my motivation again.

I used to be Team Halloween all the way growing up, but after having so many kids, I have to say: I think that Christmas may officially be my favorite holiday.

I love turning my home into a magical wintery Wonderland for the kids. I now dream of adding more and more to my collection over the years until my entire home is transformed for the holiday. I even considered getting rid of my other holiday decor (yes, even Halloween 😱) just to make more room for more Christmas decor storage! Maybe I’ll just go the Nightmare Before Christmas route and just live half way between the pumpkin door tree and Christmas tree door tree and be forever happy.

Decor

When you first pull up, this bow is the first thing you see on our lamp-post.

I wrapped a cute red, green, and “snow” garland that I found at Walmart around the railing then added this adorable woodsy-vibe bell from Hobby Lobby to the bottom.

On our porch, I added our “Charlie Brown” Christmas tree for the kids to decorate. I hung mini stockings on a plant stand and put the light-up “Santa Stop Here” sign from Hobby Lobby on top for some height so that people driving/walking by could see it.

The garland on the plant hanger matches the garland going up the railing. I bought those two large bows at Dollar Tree a few years ago and they are still going strong. I filled the hanging baskets with ornaments, & hung giant, sparkley snowflakes from Walmart.

I switched out the Fall mums for these holiday arrangements.

Then I added just a small string of lights to really finish it off.

I bought these stockings for our family back in 2018. In 2019, I was able to add “A” to our collection for Athena. This year, this pattern was discontinued from Target. I was able to hunt down one more “M” for Moses on Mercari which was a total sign from the Christmas Gods- last baby, last M available in this print to complete our family of stockings.

I am sitting here just in awe. I can’t believe how beautiful it looks so far and it’s only my first night decorating the tree. I am so full of gratitude- to be able to turn our home into a magical winter Wonderland for the kids, for my husband who works his butt off so I can make it happen, for overall good health and a happy, loving family. I really have so many blessings to be so thankful for that I need to slow down and appreciate in the moment. That is my wish/goal for myself this Holiday season: slow down, live hygge with my family, and really appreciate all that I already have.

Sasha, Moses, and I took a trip out to find some new Christmas decorations. We picked out a lot of new ornaments together. We decided to go with a “Mrs. Clause” theme which I now plan to use for the rest of my Christmases.

Mia picked out this beautiful tree skirt that “reminds her of snow.” In person, it shimmers for miles; the picture does it no justice.

I found this adorable mini wreath in the Target “dollar” spot to put under my Aria diffuser. It made it look so fun & festive, especially with the tree trunk cake stand it is on.

Of course we have our Christmas Spirit essential oil by Young Living going all season long!

I hung this “Letters to Santa” mailbox for the kids to write their letters to Santa to send off to the North Pole.

The kids love to countdown the days to Christmas with this fun countdown calendar we found at Target a few years ago.

I kept the kids Christmas baking outfits at the table for an extra Christmassy feel.

I found this cute floral display at Kroger that went along really well with the rest of my decor. It reminded me of the Wicked Witch of the West’s sister.

I didn’t do a whole lot to the bathroom but I did add a few small pieces for fun.

Activities

The kids went to get their photo taken with Santa. They got to pick out a cute frame to make to put their photo in.

I loved this mail box so much when we met Santa, I had to get a picture of it.

Ella, Mia, & I went to a Reggae Christmas show with my parents and Kaden.

It was a really fun night, except I got my first parking ticket which made me cry. I haven’t gotten in any trouble at all in almost 10 years now which is something I have been really, really proud of and I felt like I was a total failure.

We took the kids to The Christmas Ranch for the second year in a row. Last year we only were able to drive thru, but this year we walked around and rode the train. It is such a cool place! It was an absolutely freezing night though, and hope that next year we will be able to pick a night that is a little warmer so we are more comfortable walking around the village.

We went out for a night at Kings Island Winter Fest. We had a blast and enjoyed lots of hot chocolate! I always love seeing the park all lit up in Christmas lights & decor. The older kids got to walk around and ride some big coasters while the younger kids stayed in Planet Snoopy riding the kiddie rides and making Christmas crafts!

We found this cute scavenger hunt on Pinterest that we walked around our neighborhood as a family to cross the items off our list. I loved that the older kids were able to read the list, while the younger kids were still able to participate using the photos.

Treats

Snowmen Cake Pops ⛄

We made a “Copycat Starbucks cake pop recipe” that we found on Pinterest for the cake pops, but instead of pink chocolate, we kept it white and tried our best to draw snowmen on each one. They tasted pretty similar to the real Starbucks cake pops, but it was very time consuming and turned out looking more like a distant cousin of a penguin than a snowman, but the kids had fun so 🤷🏼‍♀️

The girls Christmas Baking Outfits came from Ikea a few winters ago.

Melted Snowmen Cookies ⛄

These were definitely more my speed when it comes to bakery item decorating. I found the idea on Pinterest, but used my go-to cookie + frosting recipe. They were a great beginner cookie design- very simple and literally impossible to mess up since the melted look is what we wanted. They ended up being really cute!

Reindeer Cake Pops 🦌

Sasha & Athena were excited to get these adorable reindeer cake pops from Starbucks on a morning coffee run with mom.

Veggie Santa 🎅

I found this idea on Pinterest. It was so cute and only took minutes to put together.

Christmas Tree Cheese bread 🎄

This was another Pinterest idea that was so simple to make and tasted amazing! I offered both pesto and marinara to dip.

Dessert Spread

I set up a dessert buffet for the kids. It consisted of a cookie tray, marshmallows, fruit, and a Christmas Cookie “Dunkaroo-style” dip. It was supposed to have pound cake bites as well, but since the kiddos were sick my Christmas party was a bust and I decided to save that for New Years since there was already plenty of treats.

I set out sprinkles for the kids to decorate the whip cream on their hot chocolate, but again… sick kids meant we didn’t get to do the hot cocoa bar either ☹.

Hot Cocoa Bombs

I got these Hot Cocoa Bombs from Hyde Park Baker. They were a white chocolate shell filled with cocoa powder and mini marshmallows. When you poured the boiling water on them, they exploded. The kids thought it was really fun and yummy!

Advent Calendar

We LOVE our Trader Joe’s Advent Calendars. They have become one of our favorite Christmas traditions over the years. Papa George (the Candy Man) always brings them for us in the beginning of the winter season which really marks off the holiday for us as soon as he arrives with the big Trader Joe’s bag filled with them.

Elf on the Shelf

Some families go all out with their Elf on the Shelf ideas, but I take a more “done is better than perfect” approach to it. I enjoy watching the kids search for Elf in the morning, that’s all. We don’t tell our kids he is spying on them or that he judges their behavior in lieu of Santa or Jesus…. it’s just a fun hide and seek game for us.

I only documented my favorite times that Elf showed up, most nights were pretty lame to be honest. It was fun though.

Elf reading a baby Christmas book with his mug of Hot Cocoa by the Christmas Tree ☕❄ 🎄
On our first snow of the season, Elf brought us in some donut “snowballs” for breakfast ☃️
I thought this would be hilarious in the morning when the kids found him popping out of the toilet paper 🧻

The kids favorite one was when Elfie “pooped” chocolate chips in a jar. I wish I had gotten a photo of that one.

Gifts

Teacher Gifts 👩🏼‍🏫

This was the gift tag which I thought turned out SO cute!

We got each teacher a holiday cookie from 3 Sweet Girls Bakery for the “C is for cookies”. Ella’s teacher got a cute little elf & Mia’s teacher got a sweet little snowman. We also got each teacher a Starbucks gift card for the “C is for caffeine,” then put it together in a small Christmas gift bag.

I had planned to get a photo of the teachers cookies, but only took one of the one I got to treat myself after the kiddos went to bed. They were all super cute though!

As a family, this has by far been our best Christmas yet. We were so blessed to be able to give the girls *almost* everything they asked for (why is my 8 year old asking for a phone anyway?! 🙄😂).

I have really been working on being more thoughtful with my gift giving and I loved seeing each of their faces really light up with each gift.

Gift giving really has an entire different experience for both the giver and receiver when you really take the time to think about what that person wants or needs rather than just picking whatever to cross it off the list. It makes it feel so much more special and meaningful.

This was the only photo I got of any of the kids on Christmas. Maybe next year we’ll be a “matching pajama” type of family 😂.

We even had a surprise sack that Santa left our family filled with a little gift for each of us. We thought that was so thoughtful and that kids were so surprised! They loved that Santa stopped at their sign!

Overall, this Christmas has been absolutely magical. It wasn’t everything I had planned for since the kiddos ended up sick, but it was still just as magical. I already have SO many ideas for next Christmas, but also very excited about all that 2022 has in store for us!

Vegan Stuffed Pepper Soup | ONE POT | Easy + Affordable

Recipes, Uncategorized

My sweet Mia recently decided that she is going vegetarian! My husband recently told me that he is going pescatarian! Hooray! We are taking another giant step closer to being a completely meat-free home!

My mom also recently told me about these “Blue Zone People” who eat very little meat and live to be over 100 years old. I’m not a fad-diet person, or a diet person at all if we’re being honest, but if it involves no meat, I’m a supporter!

However, all three share a lack of enthusiasm when it comes to “fake meat,” or meat alternatives. I, for one, LOVE ❤ “fake meat,” but that is probably for the first time in my life, I can eat something that resembles meat without being afraid of eating it. We aren’t supposed to put dead things inside living things 🤷🏼‍♀️.

[ ❇ FUN FACT: I did not eat meat growing up due to a very debilitating phobia of vomit (better known as emetophobia), but did not classify myself as vegetarian because my diet consisted of strictly noodles, butter, and cheese until I met my husband. So basically, I was a carb-ivore. 😂]

I became determined to find recipes that make “fake meat” more appetizing to keep them from losing their interest in going meat-free and provide a variety of healthy AND large-family affordable meatless meals, using mostly ingredients we keep regularly stocked in our pantry. Using what you already have is the MOST eco-friendly thing you can do.

Let’s Get Cooking 

◾ Fresh Ingredients:

  • 1 Yellow onion
  • 1 Green pepper
  • 1 Yellow pepper
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 LB. “Meatless Grind”

◾ Pantry Ingredients:

  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 Carton vegetable broth
  • 3 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1 TSP dried oregano
  • 2 TSP dried basil
  • 1 TSP garlic powder
  • 1/2 TSP black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 Cup brown rice

◾ Instructions:

  1. Get Prepared – Begin heating 3 TBSP olive oil over medium heat in your Dutch Oven pan (I prefer Lodge brand) + chop all veggies.
  2. Dump in your peppers & onions, after a few minutes add the tomatoes, cooking for another minute or so.
  3. Scoot your veggies over against the sides and add your meatless grind into the center & cover. Stir grind, cover. Stir grind, cover. Eventually you will mix all of the meatless grind in with the veggies as it cooks.
  4. Add your 3 TBSP tomato paste, stir. Add 1 carton of vegetable broth, stir. Add 1 TSP oregano, 2 TSP basil, 1 TSP garlic powder, 1/2 TSP black pepper, + salt to taste, stir.
  5. Bring the temp down to low, cover + let simmer for 20 minutes.
  6. Add 1 Cup brown rice. Cover + cook until rice is finished.
  7. Serve, paired with a crusty bread. We chose French Baguette.

Enjoy 😘

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Have a beautiful day 🥰

Top 5 Mom Must Have Items From a Mom of 5

Motherhood

It’s been awhile!

My oldest baby just turned TEN years old on July 31st. I cannot believe that I have already been a mom for a whole decade! It really does fly by! He will be an adult before I know it!

Over the last ten years, I’ve learned a lot of tips and tricks especially when it comes to mega motherhood!!!! I wanted to share my FIVE favorite items that have gotten me through the last ten years & mega motherhood a lot more smoothly.

1 • Itzy Ritzy Purse

New moms, this one is for you. I have some eye opening news for you. You have too much stuff.

When I had my son, I had this giant diaper bag that was heavier than he was stuffed to the brim with all of the things that the baby books told me I needed with adorable little travel size everything, safety kit with every size bandaid imaginable, bubbles, chalk, lipgloss, a small grooming set, tampons, pads, vomit bags, kroger bags, lysol, advil, bibs, toilet seat covers, grocery cart covers, multiple outfit changes, a blanket, winter gear, books, toys, activity packs, snacks, etc. I was ready for anything.

As I added kids, this bag became the bag of car essentials that I stopped bringing in because it was so heavy and so stuffed, it was just added stress. Plus, I hardly ever actually needed anything from it. I began carrying a smaller bag of the essentials while also carrying a purse.

Then I found this hands free crossbody Itzy Ritzy purse which is absolutely needed as a mom with young children. The back section is your purse, the front section is your diaper bag. You can now combine everything into one small, adorable bag.

In the diaper bag section, there is a pocket for your wipes and a small changing mat that is included. There is also room to hold diapers and a pacifier. That is literally all you need on a daily basis for outings. All of the extra stuff is just over-stimulating you and making it feel stressful to leave with kids when it doesn’t have to be.

In my purse section, I keep my wallet and a few small items. It keeps me from cluttering up my purse and it only takes a few seconds to clean out. Keep the essentials with you, and leave the rest at home (or at least in a secondary bag in the car if it makes you more comfortable). You don’t need it.

I clip my keys onto the outside so they are easy to grab and I don’t have to fumble around for them with children in a parking lot.

When you have multiple kids, you cannot be weighed down with things that you may need one day. You need your arms and eyes free at all times. This Itzy Ritzy cross body bag allows you to fashionably have everything that you need.

2 • Sit and Stand Stroller

I have tried several double strollers and this Sit and Stand Stroller by Baby Trend is by far my favorite.

It is lightweight enough that I can carry it to and from the car by myself which means that getting it in and out of your vehicle is not a struggle. It also folds up well so that it will be able to fit into any vehicle.

I place my toddler in the front seat, and my baby in her car seat in the back portion so that we are facing each other, but it is very versatile for moving children around and allowing older children to ride as well. Each side has a handle bar on it where I have my older girls hold onto while we are out so that they are all safely in one place in front of me.

3 • Cloth Diapers

I highly recommend cloth diapers. In fact, so much that I wrote an entire article about them! If you are planning on having more than one child, these are a MUST!

Cloth diapers grow with baby from newborn to potty training which saves you from buying a LOT of diapers, especially since you can then reuse them with future babies, or even save for your grand babies.

Cloth diapers saved us during this 2020 pandemic! When all of the stores ran out of diapers, we had our trusty cloth diapers already! We never had to worry once that we would run out. I highly recommend buying at least one pack of cloth diapers to have in the off chance that there is another emergency since the world saw how fast and unexpectedly that can and will happen. Being prepared is key to motherhood. It would be a great gift for a new mother at a baby shower as well! 😉

4 • Built-in Potty Seat

We live in a very tiny starter home with four young ladies. It was originally a very tiny one-bathroom home until we added a second one on the upstairs floor to create a master suite. A tiny bathroom with a crowd full of tiny ladies runs out of room really quick, leaving us very little space to have a separate potty chair.

We installed a built-in potty seat onto our toilet so that we could still have a potty seat, but not lose any necessary space or add clutter to our floors which is vital when you have crawling tots!

5 • Bumbo

This portable seat called a Bumbo is so important! It is easy to carry with you so you are able to bring it from room to room or on-the-go.

● You can keep a supported-sitter with you while doing your housework.

● You can bring it to older siblings sporting events.

● You can bring it with you on a picnic, or to a restaurant so your baby doesn’t need to sit in a dirty high chair that is covered in germs (I have worked in enough restaurants to know how unclean restaurants are in general 🤢). You can add-on this Bumbo Play Tray to turn it into a portable highchair anywhere!

● You can bring it with you while traveling for hotels that may not have high chair recommendations. Make sure to add on the Bumbo Play Tray!

● With the Bumbo Play Tray, you can create a minimal mess space for your baby to engage in messy play such as finger-painting or shaving cream play.

There are so many uses for the Bumbo! You cannot go wrong with getting one of these! It minimizes messes and is extremely easy to clean. I have had the same Bumbo for the last 10 years, it has made it through 5 kids, and is still in the excellent condition! It is definitely built to last and worth every penny!

Ella holding Vera, Mia, & Sasha
Athena (Thea)
Kaden

I hope that these tips helped you for yourself or with finding a baby shower gift idea! Best wishes to the new mama-to-be! The best start to motherhood is being prepared not for one stage for one child, but for all stages for all children. 😘 Have a beautiful rest of your day.

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