We are really enjoying homeschool so far. We are still figuring out what works for us and what doesn’t, but the nice thing is we are allowed to adjust our days for what works best for our family.
Ella really enjoys insects a lot. She found a dead bumblebee and was asking lots of questions about them & inspecting it.
I scored this awesome poster that really adds to our Living Education Atmosphere.
Typically we just do school on the weekdays, but honestly education never ends & sometimes events are limited to the weekends. This Sunday, we went to the Ukrainian Festival & watched Ukrainian dancing, listened to Ukrainian music, planned on eating (pierogies sold out FAST & only meat options were left), & shopped for some items. I signed up to join the Ukrainian Women’s League of America.
We were supposed to see Shakespeare in the Park this Saturday, but we were rained out. We still had our picnic at the park, checked out the nature center (sad to learn it is still mostly shut down since covid with no plans to re-open at this time, and played on the outdoor playground.
Ella found a cicada which made her very happy. Cicadas are her favorite insect.
We went to the library for Family Storytime. It’s mostly geared toward the three younger kids, but the older kids still enjoy it too. They mostly go for the tech time after crafting & to pick out new books though. I enjoy picking up new cookbooks to try new recipes.
For math one day we made a “Hungry Adding Robot” that Mia picked from a math book we picked out at the library this week. We love our library trips. The kids had a lot of fun picking out projects for us to do over the course of this “term.” We also had a lot of fun making this.
I really love that we are able to do the activities together as a family, but the big girls still have their own individual work to do too.
For science one day we made Nature Journals to collect various nature the girls find. Each “journal” has 4 paper bags to fill with things they find interesting on our nature walks. We can use our Nature Anatomy books to identify new nature we haven’t seen before.
Today we took a field trip to Highfield Discovery Garden. The story in the garden today was Dragons Love Tacos & they got to pick Taco Topping Veggies from the garden. They got tomatoes, peppers, and radishes. They remembered that radishes were mentioned last week in The Tail of Peter Rabbit.
They played on the tree house playground & in the garden, spent time exploring in the nature center, picked a book each in the little library, and put on a puppet show. We also packed a picnic lunch to share in the garden Cafe. Moses really liked watching the trains go around the tree house tracks.
Overall we had a really good week. We completed all our group & individual work we had planned. Time to make dinner & get ready for Ella’s first volleyball game!
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.
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.
They look so cute & behaved so well today. I was so proud of them!!
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.
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.
Happy Monday! I know I’m the odd man out here, but I LOVE Mondays! Especially if the weather is as beautiful as it was today.
Monday is the start of a brand new week. A fresh slate. Getting back to my 4:30-5 am routine that I honestly enjoy. I’ve recently given myself permission to sleep in on the weekends which really helps restore my soul more than I knew I needed.
Anyway, not everyone shares my enthusiasm for Mondays. So I wanted to share my very favorite Vegetable Pot Pie recipe with you in case you need a super mindless (& meatless) meal to make.
You will need:
1 box of store-bought pie crust (2 included), thawed to room-temp
2 (10.5 oz) cans of Cream of Potato Soup
3 bags of Frozen Mixed Vegetables, heated
1/2 cup milk
Salt, pepper, & thyme to your liking
First, preheat your oven to 375°
In a large bowl mix together 2 10.5 oz cans of Cream of Potato soup, 3 bags of Frozen Mixed Vegetables (I heat before adding to mixture), a half cup of milk, salt & pepper to your liking, throw some thyme in that bowl, and mix it all up.
Put 1 thawed-out, store-bought pie crust in your pie pan (you’re welcome to make your own if you want, but we’re going for mindless over here). Slowly scoop in your mixture until it’s all in there nice.
Place your second pie crust right on top and squish it around gently until it looks pretty. Add a fun design or letter (I like to do M for our last name) if you want, or just a slit works too. Beat an egg, brush it on top and pop that in the oven for 45 minutes.
When it comes out, let it cool for a few minutes. Cut into slices, dish it out, & enjoy.
There ya go! A super, duper easy and affordable weeknight meal that is both kid & meat-eating husband approved. You can add cheese or other spices if you want as well. It’s also a meal that is easy enough for older children to learn how to make on their own!
Helpful tip: use the cooking time for homework or chores. Try to get as much of your to-do list crossed off before the timer goes off. The more you can get accomplished before dinner, the less you’ll be left with at the end of the night.
What is your favorite mindless meal 🍽 to make on the weeknights?
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
The kids favorite one was when Elfie “pooped” chocolate chips in a jar. I wish I had gotten a photo of that one.
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!
When Ella was a baby, we went through ALL of the brands of baby wipes available on the market. No matter what brand we tried, her “diaper rashes” got worse and worse. Huggies were by far the most harmful brand to her skin.
We eventually learned that diaper rashes are NOT normal, and are in fact chemical burns caused by the wipes. So I began making my own baby wipes, which completely stopped the rashes. The only time new rashes appeared were when she went to family members houses that still used store-bought wipes.
I have been making my own baby wipes ever since for all of my babies born after her, and have since switched to cloth diapering after learning how dangerous disposable diapers are for babies health as well.
Making your own wipes is inexpensive, easy to do, and SAFE for your babies.
Phenoxyethanol – harmful to children’s health including adverse effects to the central and peripheral nervous system, skin irritation, lung irritation, toxic to kidneys and liver,
Benzyl Alcohol – causes irritations and rashes and inflammation on the skin of young children including: irritation, severe itching, reddening of skin, loss of sensation, eye irritations, vision problems, pain, peeling skin, heat burn.
Formaldehyde – carcinogenic to humans. Causes cancer and contact dermatitis including blisters, scales, thickening of skin, leathery skin, asthma, respiratory problems, eye, nose, and throat irritations, conjunctival irritation, allergies, low blood pressure, headaches, irregular breathing, abnormalities of heart rhythm, unconsciousness, restlessness, loss of red blood cells.
Polypropylene – can cause dizziness, drowsiness, low blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, lung disease.
Viscose – Derived from wood pulp, the process to make viscose involves many harsh chemicals. Those chemicals cause coronary heart failure, birth defects, skin conditions, and cancer. Viscose is highly pollutable to our planet and has a devastating impact on forests, people, and animals.
Polyester – Polyester is absolutely detrimental to our environment. More than 70 million barrels of oil are used to make polyester each year. It is the biggest source of microplastic pollution in the oceans. Each time you wash polyester, up to 1900 fibres are washed off back into our water systems and oceans. It takes up to 200 ywars to biodegrade- that is more than 2 lifetimes. The production of polyester uses very harsh chemicals including carcinogens. Carcinogens generate skin problems and lung and heart cancer. Polyester causes chronic and severe respiratory infections. Causes rashes, itching, redness, eczema, and dermatitis. Causes allergies, chemical sensitivity, and other serious health problems. Lowers sperm count in men. Toxic to babies immune systems. Not breathable material.
Petrochemicals – Ethylene Oxide, 1,4-Dioxane, Polysorbate 20, Bis-PEG/PPG-16/16 PEG/PPG-16/16 Dimethicone, Potassium Laureth Phosphate, PEG-75 Lanolin, Ceteareth-20. These cause cancer, birth defects, headaches, respiratory irritation, and both female and male reproductive harm. They cause leukemia, lung cancer, nose, throat, and sinus cancer, blood and lymphatic cancer. Affect development of children including brain development, learning and behavioral problems. Using while pregnant will affect both you and your unborn baby.
Phthalates – usually found under the name “fragrance,” “perfume,” or “perfum.” This causes allergies, hormone disruptions, infertility, dermatitis, and respiratory distress. Causes damage to liver, kidneys, lungs, and reproductive system. Lowers sperm count and quality and lowers testosterone levels. Has a lasting impact on neurodevelopment including lower IQ, problems with attention and hyperactivity as well as poor social communication, depression, and aggression. Changes hormone levels, alters development of genitals. Causes breast cancer, obesity, thyroid problems, asthma, and metabolic issues.
These are just a few of the chemicals that are found in store-bought baby wipes including the brands you have put your trust into. As you can see, these are NOT safe for anyone, especially babies, yet they are marketed for mothers to use on their babies. The FDA is a scam, and should NEVER be trusted. Always do your own research before using anything, especially on the tiny humans you are responsible to take care of and keep safe.
Note: The “natural” wipes do not mean they are safe. There are few rules, regulations, or guidelines when it comes to a “natural” product. “Natural” does not make a product vegan, organic, non-toxic, cruelty or chemical free. Remember, crude oil is natural.
Water wipes would SEEM safe, but they contain grapefruit seed extract which may contain harmful contaminants meant to act as preservatives. Grapefruit seed extract is a general lable to hide: Benzetheonium Chloride, Methylparaben, and Triclosan. Water without a broad-spectrum preservation system cannot prevent the growth of mold and bacteria which can cause seriously infections. No cleansing agents, means that when babies poop it does not properly disinfect babies genitals. The poop residue left behind can cause skin irritation and leaves bacteria behind which can cause urinary tract infections, meningitis, septicaemia, and purulent conjunctivitis. Meningitis and septicaemia have been known to cause death in infants.
The ONLY way to know that the wipes that you are using on your baby are safe is to make them yourself. It sounds hard, but it is not at all!
How to Make Baby Wipes (Step by Step)
● Start by putting your dry wipes into your wipes container. You can also make reusable cloth ones which is a better option for our environmental waste and I hope to get to that point, however I currently use disposable wipes.
● Measure 2 cups of warm to hot water.
● Add 2 Tablespoons of Organic Coconut Oil.
● Add 1 Tablespoon of a non-toxic soap such as Young Living’s KidScents like I use, or Dr. Bronners Castile soap.
● Add 5 drops of Young Living’s Lavender Essential Oil (or any of their Seedling oils specifically for babies). Do NOT, I repeat DO NOT, use grocery store essential oils including those purchased on Amazon, Target, or Walmart- they are NOT pure and NOT safe to use especially on an infant or child.
Young Living is the ONLY essential oil company in the WORLD that has a Seed to Seal promise and conducts intensive testing to ensure that they are 100% safe to use.
● Mix together using your tablespoon to make sure you get all of the residue from the coconut oil and soap and don’t waste any.
● Pour mixture evenly over wipes container and leave upright for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, flip container over to sit for another 20 minutes. This spreads the mixture to absorb evenly.
It looks soapy when first poured, but it soaks into the wipes as it disperses over the setting time.
It is as easy as that! Takes a minute to mix up and pour, and a total of 40 minutes to settle. I suggest making them during nap times, or at night once baby has fallen asleep so you don’t find yourself needing wipes before they have set.