first day of summer and 52 Smiles #12

Today was again, just totally awesome. My friend, Adriane, and I met up to do our 12th 52 Smiles project which means we’ve been meeting weekly for 3 months! I love that! We’re a fourth of the way through the year and going strong! So today we decided to do a project that copied one of my favorite bloggers (check this out HERE!) and the kids had a BLAST!

Today was all about making people smile! SO simple! On the way to meet Adriane the kids and I prayed for all the people that might find our little ducks… that if they are having a bad day or had an argument with someone or were sad or hurting that they’d see our ducks and smile. Part of what I love most about 52 Smiles is that it’s allowed us to pray for so many strangers and I think that’s a neat concept to teach the kids!

You might also notice one extra kid in our small clan! We got to bring Bailey’s BFF, Kate, along today!

Although we’ve had lots of rain we couldn’t find all that many puddles walking through downtown Webster! So some of the puddles were barely a puddle but the kids still had such a great time! Running here and there, searching for puddles, fighting over who got to put their duck in… and while we walked all through town we noticed LOTS of trash! So the kids become equally as obsessed about picking up trash!

I’m becoming more and more proud of our kids as we do these projects.

Kate. One of my favorite kids on the planet.

After we’d exhausted all the puddles in Webster we headed to Powder Valley to go for a walk and find puddles there! This photo totally cracks me up! The sun was bright, KIND OF, but it was mainly a bunch of tired+hungry+crabby kids! HA! This photo is just hysterical!

We ended up keeping our Kate around to play and I love these quick shots of her and Bails…

To end our afternoon, before the HUGE storms came through, we painted rocks from the driveway. I will show you the “after” photo of this project soon because it ended up being this awesome art piece we’re going to use as decoration for Bailey’s birthday party!

All in all this was a perfect day!


SO many thoughts and emotions floating around me today! Overwhelming though is the feeling of contentment. I am feeling so secure lately that God has us walking in His perfect plan. That we are in the right place at the right time.

As I dropped off Bailey for her last day of Kindergarten I couldn’t get past all the parents waving and calling to each other. To the moms chatting and consoling one another as it’s hard to watch your little people grow up. When I took Parker in for her last day in the Yellow Room and was SO excited to be a Blue Room parent again! Talking with my best friend outside HER school about our kids and life and well, everything as kids+parents walked by. As I was able to be a tiny help to my parents today after they’ve been such a help to me my entire life. As a sweet college student helped me with the kids this afternoon, a girl I babysat when she was my own kid’s ages. As we met the Allen’s up at a favorite Kirkwood restaurant for dinner and ate on the beautiful patio where we had our rehearsal dinner. As we walked across the street to the custard station for ice cream. As I left to go on my run/walk and saw a friend from church sitting outside her house so asked if she wanted to come with me which led to an almost four mile walk/jog because the conversation just kept going so we just kept walking.

We live in a town where people are friendly, trustworthy and kind. I’m so happy to be raising our kids here. In a place where I love and trust my kid’s teachers. Where I see friends all day. A place where my family is surrounded by people that love us and whom we love. God is blessing us in so many amazing and undeserving ways. And although the path we’re on isn’t exactly easy (living with family), I just trust that God won’t lead us astray. He’s led us down such an incredible path I have to trust Him even when we feel a bit lost.

And those lost days come frequently as I feel a bit out of control with our financial situation, but NOT today. Today was just plain awesome. It was as if God shielded my eyes and heart from the hard stuff and just showed me all the awesome.

I literally can’t say enough about Bailey’s teacher. When we walked in her room last August Bailey instantly fell in love with her sweet smile and straight hair! HA! But since then, we’ve fallen in love with her heart. Early on Bails came home and told me that she had a kind heart and MAN was she right. I feel so blessed to be able to call Carrie an actual friend as we passed the teacher/parent relationship a while ago!

And I’m sure some of you have been curious what the last creative Teacher Appreciation gift was… I finally gave it to her today!

I sent in small 4×4 squares of paper and black pens a while ago and asked each kid to draw a picture of Mrs. Sachtleben. Then I had my dad cut me a board so I could glue all the papers to it… and rest was just a random mess of playing with paint+stamps+ribbon!

All I did was glue them down but then because my cutting wasn’t perfect I used paint to kind of hide the imperfections by painting the grid. Then I took a cue from the board I made her and used the “be you” theme by stamping all over it.

It was simple and maybe not my best work but if you read this awesome post by my friend Sara HERE… she said it exactly right! Although I did cave and do gift cards this year, it’s just not my love language. Good or bad, I love people by taking my time and making something for them that’s personal and from the heart.

Photo just before leaving for school! I love this! Bailey was up late last night making this code-card for her teacher. It says “thank you for teaching us” which is where I got the idea for the tag on Carrie’s gift. She came up with that all by herself and LOVES making these codes (Chris taught her how to do it and she makes them ALL the time!). I thought it was so sweet!

Parker and her teacher (her other teacher wasn’t at school yet)… she cracks me up b/c she gets embarrassed SO easily! HA!

These are my favorite shots of the day! Having my best friend love my kids is the absolute best feeling in the entire world!

Such a good day. And tomorrow, Gray’s last day of PDO and the girl’s first day of summer looks to be just as awesome!

Welcome summer! We have such high hopes for you!

hide and go seek.

One of the best things i ever made my kids is this little animal matching game (I’m sure I’ve shared it here before but don’t feel like going back to check, sorry!) and today I found it at the Allen’s house (where so much of our stuff still resides) so I brought it “home”. Parker found it while I was gone and asked Grandma to play with her. When the girls were really little I would give them some animals, lay the cards out and ask them to match the animals to the cards (the cards are photos I took of these tiny plastic animals and laminated). As they got bigger I would hide the animals around the house and they would race around trying to find them while matching them to the right cards which were also hidden around the house.

So today my mom took the game outside and played with Grayson and Parker on the deck while I picked up Bails. I love that they still play with this simple little game I made them when Bailey was one year old. I love that my mom invented yet another way to play this game. I love all parts of this tiny piece of our today.

Celebrating summer birthdays at school!

Today was Bailey’s summer birthday celebration in her class and I was supposed to send in a treat. I hate baking and with three newborn sessions this week I am slammed with work so I needed something easy. Like store bought easy! Luckily, a quick chat with our sweet babysitter/little sister/friend, Kelsey, I had the idea to get fresh donuts. Done and done.

So this morning I left early and ran out to get 3 dozen Krispie Kremes for her class which made it the easiest treat to take in!

Except of course I was up until midnight quickly throwing together donut toppers to make them cute+fit in with her “rainbow peace sign party” theme!

All I did was make lots of little peace signs in Illustrator, printed them out, cut them out (the most time consuming part!), used my heart paper punch to cut out lots of hearts, glued two hearts together with a toothpick inbetween and then glued on the peace sign. Super simple just a bunch of little steps that took me a while!

But the part that was worth it? Seeing how excited Bails was this morning to pass them out to her friends (and a ton of other teachers/administrators at her school!). She loved them and all she can talk about is her party coming up in, oh, two months! HA! To keep her excited I think we’re going to do one little project a week to get ready for the party! And it will hopefully help keep me sane the week of the party!

Chris and I were talking tonight about love languages and I think mine is time+gift giving (if those are even choices… I need to read the book!). I love staying up late and crafting for someone else. I love the look on someone’s face when they love what I made them. It makes all the time so so worth it. I just hope, when my kids look back someday, they understand I did all of these little projects simply because I love them.

The birthday crafting has begun!

I worked Sat and Sun night on Gray’s hand crafted invites and LOVE them!

Super simple so I didn’t do a play-by-play…

I took the only photo of him I have with his hair cut, turned it b/w and while in Photoshop I just made one page with lots of heads on it. Printed eight heads on simple copy paper on our office printer b/c I wanted a kind of magazine/grainy look to the image. Then I took scrapbook paper I had laying around and cut 6inch squares for the background. I used other paper for the hat and magazine cut-outs for the letters. The “3″ I had to print on the printer again b/c I couldn’t find any number threes big enough. All the cutting and gluing is what took FOREVER (probably 6 hours total but I was watching tv so it would have gone a little faster I guess but I would have gone insane without it on!) but for FREE it was worth it!

Here is the back:

I glued another 6 inch square to the back and added more paper. SO SIMPLE! I could have easily printed out the words but I wanted them to really look handmade so I just wrote the info.

This morning i showed C and he goes, “those look great just don’t spend a ton of printing!” which made me laugh because I hand crafted eight of these and never considered just making one and copying it! HA! Would have saved me a few hours work but love that they are each handmade!

And after I finished I realized how much I LOVE cutting paper. Seriously. If I could get paid to cut paper it’d be a dream! And it reminded me of my very first cut paper invite I ever sent out… vintage 2003!

HA! Isn’t that awesome? I still love it! There were like a million heats for the background and then besides our heads, everything is cut from a magazine. Look how young and thin we are! Oh and the diamond on my finger is actually a fake diamond/sequin thing glued on! Oh, and it was supposed to say, “A Kirkwood wedding! Oh such bliss! Come celebrate the engagement of Jodie and Chris!” but his mom really wanted his full name to be on there (seven years later she still isn’t used to hearing me say Chris (instead of Christopher) BUT she’s slipped a few times herself which always makes me giggle!) and as much as I tried, NOTHING rhymes with either of our names so I made it up! :) Everyone thought it was hysterical and I love it. It’s on my cork board at work to remind me of where it all started!

Anyway. I love cutting paper. And I love planning birthday parties. And the plans are starting to come together. And maybe I’ll be able to update as I go instead of waiting an entire year again to share!

Birthday party ideas.

I’ve been popping around on Pinterest and Etsy and just the world wide web for ideas for one little man’s third birthday party and one little girl’s sixth birthday party, both happening in the next few weeks. And as I was cruising around I realized, a year later, that I never shared Bailey’s RED birthday party from last year! So tonight I thought I would! Even though I have thoughts on my relationship with the Lord on my mind I want to share, thoughts on parenting recently and final thoughts about Teacher Appreciation Day. SO even though I have all of these current things on my mind tonight I thought instead I would take a giant step back and share something from almost a year ago!

Bailey requested a RED party and if you want to go back, look HERE to see the invites we made because I still love them! This year, I think, she’s decided on a peace sign party so I’m already brain storming ideas for these invites! How can I do “peace sign” without being corny/hippie/80′s? We’ll see!

I will also mention that these images make me miss our old house so much! I had a love affair with the back porch, the front porch and (almost) everything in between. Anyway.

For the curtains I just took a lot of red/white gingham fabric and cut long strips with pinking shears. I had already hung the clothes line and used the clothespins on our last curtains so I just changed them up for the party. Super simple no-sew curtains! The other clothes line with “celebrate” on it usually held their summer art work (it was great for drying painted projects) but used it for that simple message on party day. We had a few kid-sized tables covered in red/white polka dot fabric with a simple centerpiece…

These were a super last minute addition and all I did was cut two circles, decorate them with the paper “5″ (on both sides) and glue them around a plastic red knife stuck in an orange juice glass with sand in it. I think I did this minutes before the party started when I realized I had forgotten to decorate the tables!

This was also a last minute addition as I had borrowed this cut drink-thing from my mother-in-law but didn’t look inside until just before the party where I noticed rust spots. Knowing it wasn’t going to be able to hold the lemonade I’d made I still wanted to do something with it b/c it’s so cute! So I ran outside and cut some branches off a bush!

I found the paper lanterns online and decided to add the butterflies. Some I cut by hand and some I used a paper punch. I just used book binding glue to stick them on there! We ended up leaving these up for a few weeks until mold started to grow on them from the moisture!

I think my mom made the cupcakes for me and I just piped icing on them (I put store bought cake icing in a ziplock bag, cut the corner and squeeze it on in a spiral) and stuck in a little butterfly. I thought they turned out cute!

I forgot to mention that Kim took a lot of these images for me! It pays to have a partner! HA!

For the front of our house I used fabric and just staple gunned it to the porch ceiling. Luckily we had other red accents anyway so it fit in really well! This was another morning-of addition! I was insane that morning obviously!

Bailey’s shirt is from HERE!

More lanterns on the front porch.

For the most part the kids just ran and played, but we also did one craft that was a huge hit! I bought little square canvases, mixed glitter in mod podge, bought cheap sponge brushes, cut tons of butterflies out of scrapbook paper I had on hand and let the kids go to town. Mod Podge is great b/c the more they slather on the better! They couldn’t screw up! And I actually went over them all one more time after everyone left. The only issue was that they were too wet to send home so we did a delivery day later which the kids loved! I wish I had an after photo because we actually still have these packed away somewhere… they hung in the girls room!

For the treat bags I used more of the fabric, cut six inch wide strips about 18 inches long and just used fabric glue on the sides folding them in half long-ways. They won’t hold forever but for the day they were great. We had red swedish fish candy and bubbles inside.

I covered the bubbles in paper and tied on a little thank you note. Super simple! We kept the bags simple because who needs a ton of candy or crap from a party?

It was such a great party! The details were all really simple and fairly inexpensive. We had just the one craft, lots of play time, cup cakes and gifts. Easy.

That’s how I want this year to be too!

We’re doing a big family and good friend party for Grayson in June and I do want it to have sweet details but I can’t decide what! Gray wants a “big car” as a gift but doesn’t understand what I’m talking about when I ask about the party! So I’m going to have to make something up I think. Bailey’s is in early July and she thinks she wants a peace sign party so I’ve started looking for ideas but I’ll have to make her nail down an idea soon. I love planning parties and working on the details! I can’t believe it took me so long to share these!

Happy Mother’s Day!

I kind of thanked all the awesome women in my life HERE (Ang… I will teach you how to embed a link! HA!) but let’s just say I DO NOT deserve my friends! Today I especially don’t deserve Angie after reading THIS post she surprised me with!

Anyway, my Mother’s Day didn’t go as planned but somehow ended up better than ever. Funny how God works that out for you!

I taught Children’s Chapel for the first time, had a great lunch with the Allen clan, only had ONE soda, bought a swim suit that I don’t hate (to cover a body I do), had fun shopping with my girls, got LOTS of photos edited and off my TO DO list, caught up on some shows, did laundry, wrestled with my kids, received some incredibly thoughtful gifts (Bailey worked for DAYS with my mom on a pot holder just for me for our new house! LOVE!), and the list goes on.

I also convinced all three kids to take a photo with me by allowing THEM to be the photographers!

Parker took this one:

and Bailey took these…

The best part of my day was realizing that although I NEEDED some alone time to edit and catch up on work (which I enjoy so it was enjoyable!) I ended up finding so many little moments and some bigger to just be with the kids. The older they get the more I actually WANT to be with them! I used to wait so anxiously for Chris to get home at night just to get a break and now, when I have the opportunity to get a big break, I chose to do things with the kids! Like play Legos, go swim suit shopping with the girls, read books and cuddle. Today I found myself hugging my kids a little more often and sneaking in kisses b/c I KNOW how darn blessed I am to have three awesome kids. My proudest moment each week is walking up to communion and all receiving the bread and wine. Something about that moment makes my heart swell with love for our family. And that feeling stayed with me all day. I thank God for that.

I hope you all had a wonderful day too!

Teacher Appreciation Day Two.

I have LOTS to do tonight but wanted to get this up tonight since some people might still be scrambling to get a simple gift done this week! Out of all the gifts this was maybe not the easiest (tomorrow’s is!) but it was one of the cheapest… NOT that Bailey’s teacher deserves cheap gifts… but since I had to pay for the CLASS gifts myself I couldn’t go all out every single day! WHY did I have to pay for them all? Totally a story for another time or for if I ever have a private blog! HA!


Super simple. Same jellybean jar as I did for Parker’s teachers and then just some hot glue, new pencils and an old jar. (I think this is the original blog that had the idea but sometimes following Pinterest is confusing so whether or not this is right, it still looks like a super cute blog! HERE!)

Yesterday morning Parker had a homeopath appointment at 8am, we had to buy the flowers, drop off the gift at Edgar and I had to get the girls (who stayed home sick) back homeĀ  to meet Kim for our senior session by 9:15am so I was RUSHED! But we made it even though my flower arranging was pretty bad and if Bailey was any older she would have been mortified as I got down on the ground in front of her school to snap that shot! HA!

Tomorrow’s gift takes NO creativity but I can’t wait to show you the final gift for Friday!

The start of Teacher Appreciation Week!

This year, as the first year I’m a grade school mom, I was put in charge of Teacher Appreciation Week. I am also working on the preschool Kids Carnival this weekend. I also have three photo shoots, two client meetings, two kid doctor appointments, one high school soccer game I have to go to, one kindergarten soccer game, Mother’s Day gifts I have to finish and so many photo galleries due I feel like I’m drowning in edits. Add to that Bailey and Parker both home from school early today and all day tomorrow because they are STILL FREAKING SICK and I am stressed beyond measure. Literally, when i look at this weeks calendar I start breathing faster. Ugh.


In the midst of the insanity I had to pause and show you how proud I am I actually have accomplished a few things! Because if I don’t take a photo or blog it it’s like it never happened! HA!

For Bailey’s teacher I was supposed to come up with four of the five days of gifts. So this was number one:

I got the idea from Pinterest (my newest addiction)… the original is from Tumblr and I can’t go any further so whoever made this originally THANK YOU! All I did was recreate it in Photoshop but changed it a bit with the addition of the “criss cross applesauce” line and the two lines at the bottom…

I thought it would be more personal if I added her name. So I did.

I printed it at our pro-lab as a 10×20 standout mount (MPIX has the same mounting I think!) so it would be ready to hang for her.

All of our wrapping paper is packed away somewhere so I used a few pieces of Fresh Art tissue paper (sorry Kim!) and tied some ribbons on.

I kept the wrapping simple and just wrote the first line of the print on the little note card… which I’ll do on all the gifts to keep a cohesiveness. Really it’s just because I’m that damn anal.

Bailey was GIDDY getting to carry it in the car and take it into school! So cute! And even though she came home today with a fever I’ll take her up to school tomorrow morning to deliver day two! Those pics to come tomorrow!

For Parker’s teachers I just did one gift for today because it’s not as big of a deal at preschool (the teachers didn’t even know about it actually!) so it was a simple gift but Parker, like Bailey, was super excited to take it inside!

SUPER simple but we hope they know they are given with love!

Yesterday it was funny because as I was putting the finishing touches on the weeks worth of gifts Chris came in and asked what I was doing. As I explained it to him he looked at me and said, “And what are you doing for your FAVORITE teacher?” HA! I honestly hadn’t thought of him! Isn’t that terrible?

So in the midst of a crazy morning I stopped, got C some lunch and ran it by school. Letting him know, via a note on the sandwich wrapper, that he was the MOST appreciated teacher in our lives!

I can’t wait to show you the other things I’ve put together and hope you’re thanking all the teachers in your lives this week!