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Milestones // Liam's 4 Year Pictures

I am just a little bit behind in taking Liam's 4 year pictures.
I always seem to be late,
mainly because I want outdoor pictures and it is still too cold to do those in March.

We went to several locations and he sported his fedora and strummed his guitar.
This is a good representation of who he is right now.
He plays his guitar all the time and almost always has a hat and tie on.

All of these pictures were shot with my Canon 5D (not the Mark version)
and edited using a free online source. 
I hope to get a new computer some day so I can have better editing software,
but for now... I stick with the free options.






Baby Necessities Round-Up

I did a month of reviews on She {hearts} It showcasing the best options for all those baby necessities!
I searched and found the best selection on the market and shared with all the She {hearts} It readers. 
Make sure you head over and check them out!

The best video monitor... Levana.
The best diaper bag... Ju*Ju*Be.
The best convertible car seat... Diono.
The best infant car seat... Britax BOB B-Safe.

If you are in baby-mode... these are must haves for your little one!

Summer Snacks


Sometimes I get stuck in snack ruts.
I feel the kids the same stuff,
and we all get bored.
I thought I would share a few snack ideas for this summer,
and you could share your ideas in the comments.

The good news...
summer is such a great time to enjoy fresh fruit as snacks.
There is a lot that is in season, and that makes it more cost effective and tasty!
Watermelon, strawberries, peaches, blueberries, etc.


A few of our summer faves are:

Strawberries and granola
My kids can down an entire carton of strawberries in nothing flat.
Then, they tend to be hungry before the next mealtime.
That is where the granola comes in to play.
It helps satisfy them with good nutrients, and it tides them over until it's time to eat.
I chop the strawberries and let them juice up for about 10 minutes.
Then, I mix in some granola and let that sit for 3-5 minutes to soften up in the strawberry juice.
The kids love this snack and they eat it up like candy.

Frozen Bananas
Bananas are a cheap fruit.
It is one of those that you don't have to buy organic,
so that saves you money and makes for a cheap treat.
In the winter, I don't freeze these.
The kids always complain of being cold afterwards, 
so it is saved for a summer snack.

Slice bananas and place on parchment paper on a cookie sheet 
(make sure the cookie sheet fits in your freezer).
Let age appropriate kids use toothpicks to stab the bananas and eat.
I usually let them thaw a little for younger kiddos.

Frozen Fruit Ice Cream
You can use whatever fruit you want for this treat-
prepackaged frozen fruit, fresh bananas, peaches, strawberries, etc.

My kids love this ice cream,
and it is so healthy for them!
I chop up some fruit, place in a ziploc, and freeze.
If you have fruit that is looking a little sad, this is a great way to use it up!
Pull it out about 5 minutes before you want to use it.

Place fruit in a food processor (or blender).
Add a TBSP, or two, of milk.
Add a drizzle of honey for sweetness.
Add vanilla if you wish.
Process the ingredients (or blend them) until smooth and creamy.
Serve it up!

Britax BOB B-Safe Car Seat // Review

I did a review on one of the best car seats on the market.  
Be sure to check out She {hearts} It to see what I had to say!


I will do a round-up of my four "must-haves" for this baby on Friday.
They are big money items that are worth every penny if you spend your money on the right one!
Check back to see what they are on Friday!!!

***

Wednesday, I will be sharing a few of our favorite summer treats/snacks that are easy and healthy!
And, here is a cute picture... just because!


Pinterest Love

I am not a huge Pinterest surfer, but when I get the itch... I go crazy.
 Lately, there has been so much goodness on Pinterest. 
Here are a few of my fave pins from the last few weeks.

In Baby-ville~ 
I love the momma and baby shot.  I totally nibble on my babes like this all the time.
Baby sleeping... come on- love!
This maternity shot is perfection!


Living and Loving Pins~
I am obsessed with white and simplicity.  Love this bedroom.
The rug and antlers... yep.

Hair~
Brown Waves

You can follow me on Pinterest, if you want.
Have a lovely weekend!!

Baby #4 // Maternity Pictures

I was super excited to have my friend, Stiches by Sarah, take my maternity photos this go 'round.
She recently started up her own photography business and was in need of a pregnant model-
hello... I look pretty pregnant, if you ask me!

She helped me by taking my pics,
and I helped her by modeling her new line of maternity dresses.
It was a win-win!
After four pregnancies, you begin to run out of ideas for maternity pictures.
I was in need of a little "Sarah" inspiration.

The day was super windy, so my hair was a bit unruly,
but it really made the dresses look beautiful and flowy!
If you are in the Kansas City area, give 
Dandelions & Dumptrucks Photography a call!







Motherhood Mondays // Baby Heart Prep


Oh, my momma's heart is doing a lot of soul searching and heart prep as we
physically prepare for our little girl to join our family.
I have been day dreaming about the first moments with her and how sweet they will be.
I dream about having her little downy head snuggled in the crook of my neck. 
There is so much to soak up when you have a new baby.

With all that excitement comes the realization that things, the flow, in our home will be changing.
I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little bit anxious about it all.
It is part of my "structured" personality- the inability to flex when life demands it.
The transition that takes place when you add a new life into the home also leaves some uncertainty.

How will my baby (at the time) transition into being the big girl?
Will she feel slided?
Will I be able to juggle it all while unconscionably sleep deprived?
Will the baby nurse well and sleep well?
How will the big kids handle the lack of attention that comes with a demanding newborn?

These are all questions that, I know, will work themselves out.
It isn't that I expect life to tick-tock away just like it always has.
I realize there is change,
but the unknowns that come with those first few weeks- months- 
keep me a little on edge.

Bedroom changes. Extra, little clothes to wash. New bath towels. Tiny diapers mixed in with big diapers.
I think about what's to come and can barely contain my excitement.
It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience, every time you bring a baby into the world.
Wow. How amazing is it all when you really sit back and reflect?

InstaFriday

When things go a little quiet here on the blog, you can still find me on Instagram.
Here is a little IG update!

I opened up a new package of markers for the summer.
Ours were all dried out from the school year and the kids love to color, 
so new markers made an appearance.
A few of them, obviously, were scented.
Liam really enjoyed sniffing them.
He had no idea his nose was all colored. :)


 The big kids went to VBS at my parent's church last week.
Ella wore her unicorn headband every day.
She loves My Little Pony right now and that is all she wants to play with.
Headband from this shop.


As if you needed any more updates... here is a big belly that has 3 more weeks to cook.


I did a review on She {hearts} It for Levana video monitors.
How did I make it through three babes without one of these?
I love this monitor!
Laminators & Levana... productive combination!

Have a great weekend!
I will be doing a little garage saling and a lot of baby/house prep!
If you want to make sure not to miss anything... follow me on Instagram.
When the baby arrives, that is where I will be posting most of my updates!
 

Baby Bump // 36 Week Update


Well, here we are.  One week closer to meeting our little lady.
I have resorted to elastic-only waistbands and my husband's athletic shorts.
 If I hear someone telling me how cute I am-
you can be sure it is a Sunday, 
because that is the only day that I am dressed half-way presentable.

I have my moments where 3/4 weeks seems like an eternity,
but then there are times that it seems like it is so close.
I am trying to soak up every minute and not wish it away.
I spend my quiet time imagining what she looks like and how she will be-
hopefully a good sleeper. :)

We have Guinnyth moved in with Ella and I have been 
beginning preparations for the baby's arrival.
After a day of pushing my body too far,
I was up from 1-3 with contractions.
I knew it was false labor, but it was still quite painful.
As I was laying on the couch,
I thought, "I might want to get my hospital bag packed."
So, packing, little-by-little, is what I have been doing.
I know this is my fourth pregnancy,
but I still forget what to pack.

I have continued walking, just slower and not as far.
I have so much to do at home,
and I can't afford to use all my energy on a walk.
 
This is the last "official" baby bump photo.
The next picture will be at the hospital before I go in for delivery.
It's been a sweet journey...

Motherhood Mondays // Child's Play

 




I have written about how I love slow and simple living.
I enjoy days that aren't filled with tons of noise and busyness.
I have had some reader interest in what toys we love the most at our house.
To be honest, Mark and I are kind of anti-electronics.

We don't let the kids have very much screen time, whether it's tv or iPad.
Our kids don't have leapsters or their own electronics.
I do allow the kids to use educational apps during school twice a week.
It is enough that they are familiar with how things work, but not enough that they 
become addicted and beg to play all the time.

We have tried allowing more liberal use of electronics, 
and all that happens is arguing about who's turn it is and 
begging unceasingly for more time with the device-
not worth it in my book.

My kids do a lot of pretend play-
mommy and daddy, tiger family, farmer, pirates, etc.
After naptime/rest time,
I have toys laid out for the kids to play with for 30 minutes.
They play as they eat their snack and then we put them away and move on to something else.

My kids play with blocks, puzzles, magnets, lacing beads, 
pattern blocks, bean bucket, coloring/decorating wooden trucks and birdhouses, etc.
Ella loves to draw and color, so she often chooses to do that instead.
I try to make sure that it is an activity that allows creativity and exploration.
The kids love this and are so used to it, 
there is no begging for the TV or iPad.

It is important that our kids know how to use technology,
but if it disturbs our day and the flow of our family,
it's no longer worth it.
There will be a time for a good deal of technology,
but for now... we stick with toys that don't beep and make lots of noise.

What toys do your kids love to play with?
What is your family philosophy about electronics?

Living on One Income


When Mark and I got married it was decided upon that I would stay home with the kiddos until they were in school. Little did we know, I would be home a lot longer since we would be homeschooling them.

Even though it is a decision we embrace, there are implications for doing so.
Living on one income- with four kids- and with the cost of living creeping up higher and higher, it has been crucial for us to budget and work within our means.

We were so blessed to come out of college with very little debt. What little debt we had we paid off within our first year of marriage. Our cars were always paid for with cash and we saved to be able to put as much down on our first home as possible. This was possible when we had no kids and were both working at good paying jobs. We saved and lived on a cash budget for quite some time.

After a few years, we moved back to our hometown and settled into a home we built on his family's land. We love it here and enjoy the three acres we get to make our own. For a few years, we got to enjoy living a little "looser" with our money and not being as tight with our spending.

Now that we are in our thirties, with our fourth babe on the way, we are beginning to buckle down again. We have a strict cash budget in place and are working hard to pay off our current home. Even though it was nice to live with flexible boundaries for a few years, it is also nice to tighten up and meet goals- like paying off a car, school loans, or a home.

Both Mark and I are competitive by nature, so we almost see budgeting as a challenge. For us, every penny counts. We budget every receipt and payment we make. This method helps us to shave off expenses where we can and it also helps us to see if we are living within our means.
Sticking to a budget, and living on one income, may seem restrictive. But, it doesn't have to mean that life has to be boring. It just means that we (or you) have to get creative with how we spend and what we do to have fun!

What are some ways you and your family enjoy time together without breaking the bank?
 ***

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The Happenings

Summer has officially begun for us. 
We finished up school for the year and have been soaking up every minute of the last week.
Ella and Liam did so great this year and it has me hopeful about next year.
 I have been printing and organizing work for summer school.
It is going to be laid back and easy, but hopefully, will help us keep our skills sharpened.

We have had VBS in the mornings, scarfed lunch down, rested for a few hours, and then headed outside.
The sprinkler has been going full force since our temps have been in the 80s.  
It is such a nice change from the long winter we had this year.
The big kids love the sprinkler, but Guinnyth still isn't so sure about the spraying water.
She gets close and then one of the kids gets excited and shoves her into the water, 
which doesn't help her timidity toward it.

My belly is growing.
We will be 35 weeks tomorrow and I am so excited to get to finally count down.
I am still walking 5 days a week (this week I only did 4, but I still consider that good),
and the babe is still stretching me.
I always try to have a good attitude when pregnant, but I get to this point and begin losing my patience.
I am trying very hard to enjoy every movement, hiccup, and jab since this will be my last time
experiencing being pregnant.
Images of the labor and delivery are beginning to creep into my head daily,
and I have to push them aside so I don't get nervous about what's to come.
I am just so excited to meet her and see her sweet face.
It's almost more than I can take.