Back from the Beach & into the Blog

Hello, lovelies. I’ve missed you and am excited to be back on the blog.

I had a fantastic trip with the family (many weeks ago) and had to jump right back into the real world the moment we got home. School, soccer and work all came calling…at once.

Coming to this space and writing on the blog gives me a lot of joy. So, I’m happy to carve out this moment to sit in front of the computer – and not for a work assignment!

As we dive back in, I thought I’d share a few things we’ve been up to in the Andersen house these past few weeks:

{ONE} Creating fresh starts

My twin girls are in middle school this year, which completely blows my mind. Top that off with my son starting 9th grade, and I plunge into denial. They’re still babies, right?! Just a little taller and several shoe sizes bigger than me. >>

{Um…he’s not even standing on anything – other than his own two feet!}

In my effort to slow time, I decided to spend more of it focused on my kids…getting ready for new schools, different experiences and deeper friendships.

For my girls, it also meant getting ready for a locker. (Another “first” for the books.) As you can imagine, we had a blast cruising the aisles of Hob Lob looking for everything and anything to glue to magnets.

Here are a few of our favorite projects >>

Project 1: We decorated a round mirror with folds of ribbon. Upper left shows the finished product. Upper right shows the supplies: mirror, ribbon, magnets (not pictured are glue gun and felt). Lower left shows how I looped and glued the ribbon. Lower right shows the back. I used felt to soften the edges of the ribbon.

Project 2: We found small aluminum letters and just glued magnets to the back. A super simple way to personalize a locker!

Project 3: Another easy one. We found these darling metal flowers in the jewelry section of Hob Lob and just hot-glued small magnets to the backs. We went back for more of these little pretties.

Project 4: This is a small craft supply tin with a clear lid. We took a magnet sheet (available at Hob Lob) and cut it to fit the entire bottom of the container. Then the girls filled them with mints so they can freshen their breath between classes!

Project 5: We found these clothespins already decorated, but we decided we could also make more using washi tape. Then we glued magnet strips to the back to make them locker ready!

This magnet (and the one below) were purchased “as is”. We found them on our way back from the beach. There was this darling pecan farm that also had a gift shop and deli. We stopped for treats and couldn’t pass these up.

Aren’t these great messages to greet the girls every time they open their lockers?

Yes they are!!

{TWO} Spreading kindness through rocks

Speaking of rocking, kindness rocks are still on my agenda of life. The girls and I recently made a new batch and plan to keep making more this fall. Yay!

I painted all of the rocks a base color (using acrylic paint) and the girls decorated with designs and messages (using fine tip paint pens). I loved how this one turned out.

Avery had fun turning a few of them into critters.

Clara worked on this one. I love her twin popsicles.

PS. I love that this trend continues to grow across the country. I hope you’ll give it a try, if you haven’t already!

{THREE} Making not-to-do lists

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I was inspired by my Day Designer to create a list of things NOT to do. How liberating is that?

We’re encouraged to fill this list with things we would be better off eliminating from our daily routine. Things that have turned to habits that prevent us from accomplishing our to-dos and deplete our time and energy and affect our happiness and success. Not-to-do lists help us be more productive because…

“What you don’t do determines what you can do.”

For example, my not-to-do list includes:

  • Check email before coffee in the morning
  • Sit for longer than 30 min at a time (this is a thing, y’all!)
  • Focus on my mistakes

What would yours include?

{FOUR} Chillin’ with my furry babies

Even through all of the busyness, I still make time to hang out with our pets. It’s so amazing how calming they are.

Rosie is our resident chubby bunny. We’ve had her for about five years now.

Leo is our two-yr-old mini Goldendoodle who looks like a forever puppy, because he’s a mini. He’s full of kisses – and energy!

{FIVE} Decorating for fall

Today is the first official day of fall! While I haven’t gone into full pumpkin mode just yet, I’ve started the transition into fall around the house.

Like on the front door. I pulled out my chalkboard sign, which is the perfect way to handle in-between seasons. The style doesn’t have to change, just update your message! >>

I’m excited to have some time next week to decorate the inside of the house – and maybe even get it smelling like the season.

I’m a fan of this cranberry woods candle because it’s not too sweet. I’m taking suggestions for a new fall fragrance this year. What’s your favorite?!

I hope you have a fantastic fall weekend. Excited to see you back next week.

Blessings,

-Kate

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Friday Wrap: Sunny Summer Fun, So Far

{shop this darling print here!}

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted family pics and shared a little about what we’ve been up to (other than painting kindness rocks…my girls and I are super into this right now, btw!!)

With 4th of July literally around the corner of this weekend, I had a flash of realization that we’re already at the halfway mark of summer. Dang, sisters. That happened fast.

We haven’t had our big beach trip just yet, but we’ve made the most of our days so far. A few highlights >>

{ONE} Serious Soccer & Wolfpack Wednesdays

My son and his soccer team placed first in the the state of Arkansas for his age group, which means they qualified for regionals in North Carolina last week. They practiced such long hours and played their hearts out. In the end, they didn’t advance to finals, but we were so proud of their accomplishments.

I love this picture my husband took of the team before their first game of the tournament. #praybeforeplay

Evan and his teammates were excited for opening ceremonies. Each player received nice shirts and lots of soccer swag before the “show.”

Between soccer practices, Evan and his friends made time for driveway hoops.

We extended an open invitation every Wednesday night for the boys to come over and play basketball. We just fill the outdoor fridge with Gatorade and let them do their thing. Their team is called the Wolfpack, so “Wolfpack Wednesdays” kinda stuck. I think this tradition will, too.

{TWO} Puppy Playtime

Our mini goldendoodle, Leo, recently turned two years old!! We had a puppy birthday party for him that included his “cousin” Frito. His hat and treats all came from Three Dog Bakery. That place is the cutest.

In other puppy news…we’ve been dog sitting for a friend of ours over the past two weeks. The dog’s name is Rocky, and we’ve had fun coming up with all kinds of nicknames for this sweet boy…Rocky Road, Rocky Balboa, Rocky Mountain High, etc.

As you can tell from this picture, Leo kinda likes having Rocky around. He puts his paw on his back when we watch TV. Srsly the best. He’s gonna be sad when his friend has to go back home.

Here’s a glamour shot of our little friend. Haha!

{THREE} Lots of Swim Time

My family called me “fish” growing up because I swam so much. It’s no exaggeration to say that every day in the summer I was either in a pool splashing around, beside a pool catching some rays, or watching over a pool as a lifeguard as I got older. I loved (and still love) the water.

It’s super cute to see my girls following in my wet footsteps. They had their first swim meet of the season a few weeks ago and these Ducks rocked it.

Swimming isn’t just about competition. We love to close down our neighborhood pool each night with friends! Summer memories right there.

{FOUR} Cheerin’ & Chillin’ 

My girls decided to try some new things this summer, too. So…

Clara just started a cheer and tumbling class. Totally out of the blue for her, since she’s never taken any sort of gymnastics. She barely knew how to do a cartwheel when she started. One week later, she’s doing backbends and attempting back handsprings. I love her adventurous spirit.

While Clara was flipping around, Avery decided to chill at home and do other things, like swing in the hammock, watch hummingbirds (yes, a hummingbird perched and drank from the feeder while Avery talked to it!!), and read her book club book. A little quiet time away from her twin is perfectly acceptable.

She plans to start tennis in the near future. So more on that later!

Speaking of book club books…a mom in our neighborhood started a cool group for girls entering 6th grade next year. She picked The Giver as their first book, and they’ve all been reading and discussing the book once a week.

This picture was from their first meeting at Freddy’s. The frozen custard afterward definitely sealed the deal. The girls were hooked – and have been reading more this summer than any other that I can remember!

{FIVE} 70’s Style Bowling & Outdoor Concerts

The kids shouldn’t have all of the summer fun, right?! Brandon had a hilarious 70s-style bowling party with his work friends a few weeks ago. They were celebrating a co-worker’s birthday…in Big Lebowski fashion.

Brandon is in the middle with his Star Wars tee tucked into those sexy polyester, baby-blue trousers.


Aaand I managed to squeeze in a girls night out! (Mama’s get to party, too.)

We went to the Elle King concert at the Walmart AMP, which is a beautiful outdoor amphitheater here in Northwest Arkansas.

(The guy in the photo is the husband of my friend, Jen. He was veeery brave to hang with us that night. Haha!)

Elle King has such a soulful, powerful voice. I went to the concert only knowing two of her songs and left loving many more.

That’s a wrap for now!

We’re heading to Indian Hollow this weekend for some fireworks and family time. We head to the beach at the end of July, so we’ll keep doing all of the above until that time. And I’ll keep on postin’.

XOXO,

Kate

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Milestones & Sweet Memories of Feeding My Kids

My precious view at dinner. <3

It’s another year of milestones for all three of my children. My twin girls are graduating up to middle school, and my oldest son will be in ninth grade. Can he really be entering high school?

Some days it feels like forever since I was cradling them in my arms or pushing them in a stroller that barely fit through grocery store aisles. The fog from all of the sleepless nights and pure busyness of having three babies under the age of three hovers low over my memories and grows dense. Other days, like today, I look across the table and remember clear.

We sit together enjoying a nice dinner, celebrating accomplishments of the school year, and I can remember them as babies. I remember the mornings so early. They would call out from their cribs like little roosters, waking the house, fuzzy heads peaking through wooden slats, wanting to be fed.

I also remember the quiet afternoons and evenings spent one-on-one holding each of them. Even though they had siblings waiting their turn, I tried to sit in stillness enjoying our time and moment to bond. I’d let their hand curl around my finger, while I smoothed out their hair and hummed the tune “You Are My Sunshine.”

Thinking back, feeding was one of the most intimate experiences I had with my children. At first, I didn’t give much thought to how I’d feed them. My mother nursed me – and all four of my siblings – so I just figured it was a good thing to do.

I started off nursing my first child for about four months. As a working mom, trying to keep up with pumping between conference calls and deadlines was a bit tricky for me. My body was exhausted, my milk was reducing, and I eventually switched my son over to formula. I remember feeling a little sad and even a bit guilty about it all. Had I given up too soon…too easily? But it ended up being the best decision for our family.

When I weaned my son from nursing, I also weaned myself from trying to be supermom. I let myself off the hook and recognized how incredible and capable my husband was (and still is today). I created room for him to step in, feed our son, and bond like no other moment in time. Even though he had been helping warm up bottles of breast milk, the process of mixing and making bottles with formula was different. We were on the same side of making milk. And my husband and I bonded as parents – through feeding our child together.

When our twins came along, my husband and I didn’t specifically talk about how we’d feed them. Initially, we were in too much shock and excitement at the news of twins to think about such details. We were already 20 weeks along when we found out! When we eventually brought the girls home, we were in survival/autopilot mode most of the time.

We did whatever felt natural, and thanks to a little experience from having our son, a few things actually did feel natural. I nursed the girls as soon as I could – and at the same time. I held them on each side, surrounded and supported by pillows. So many pillows. I had a C-section this time, so it was hard to lift the girls. My husband would bring the babies up to my chest and I’d balance and hold them like little footballs under each arm. It was an amazing sight that would bring tears to my eyes each time I fed them. How was my body doing all of this?! I always seemed to have enough milk to satisfy their growing tummies. No matter how tired I was, the milk would be there.

After about three months of nursing the girls, and two episodes of mastitis, I made the decision to switch to formula. It wasn’t an easy choice. It was also fairly expensive – everything times two and all – but it was one that helped me get some physical strength and much-needed rest. I was also reminded of how good it felt to let my husband step in and help us. He bonded more with the girls, while he and I bonded deeper still, through yet another crazy parenting experience.

I think the way my husband and I fed our kids at birth reveals a lot about how we feel about and feed them today. We realize each day holds new chapters and milestones. And we view each moment at the table as chance to bond and a time to savor. No matter what was warmed up in a bottle back then or on a plate today, it was and always will be served with our deepest love.

Many blessings as you nourish your own sweet ones,

Kate

P.S. I was inspired to share our story because of the Honest.com blog and some of these beautiful feeding stories. Enjoy reading them for yourself and thinking back to your own personal stories. Is there something helpful – a tip or new perspective – that you can share?

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Friday Wrap: Happy Moments

Hello, my friends! I was a little quiet on the blog last week because I was busy celebrating with my sweet family. We had graduations, baptisms, birthdays and even a surprise visit from my sister who lives in Nebraska!! My goodness, my heart was bursting with happiness.

So for a more personal entry, here are a few highlights from my short time away. >>

{ONE} All of us – sitting still!

I honestly can’t remember the last picture I took with all three of my kiddos. Maybe last summer when we went to Mount Rushmore?!

I don’t even think we got one on the first day of school this year. Evan had to leave so early, and the girls were still rolling out of bed. Story of our life.

Anyway, this picture took place on Mother’s Day. Everyone was chillin’ on the porch while Brandon was grilling his family-famous chicken. I announced that I wanted one more gift…a picture with my too-grown-up-to-be-called-babies-but-I-still-do, babies!!

They were kind to oblige, and we all snuggled in to capture this moment. (Can you believe my 14yo son is taller than me – even when sitting?)

This lovely scene was followed by this moment below…with our furry toddler, Leo. (Clara’s face still make me laugh. He had just licked her entire left cheek.)

{TWO} Graduations and inductions

Avery & Clara are officially out of elementary school. It really happened. They’re off to middle school next year, and while I’m a little sad about them growing up so fast, there’s some joy mixed in because I can see what lovely girls they’re becoming.

I’m also a tad proud (okay, gushing with pride) as they received a President’s Education Award during their “graduation” ceremony at school. It represents not only their hard work in school, but also their upstanding character. It’s so affirming to have others see the potential in your child, too. While they’re not necessarily straight-A students, they have so much greatness to offer.

Evan had his moment to shine this week, as well. He was inducted into the Junior National Honor Society. And yes, he’s my kid. Haha. I’m super proud of him and all of the effort he puts into school and pretty much anything he’s involved in.

As a typical teen, he didn’t want any pictures with his award or anywhere near his school. When we took him to his favorite restaurant for dessert after the ceremony, I was able to sneak this cute pic with his sisters.

In addition to all of the excitement with my kids, one of my nieces graduated from high school!! Maggie is such a beautiful and extremely creative and talented girl. I can’t wait to see where life takes her. We had a lovely day (filled with lots of family) celebrating her accomplishments.

{THREE} Birthday for Papa

We celebrated another birthday for my darling dad (Papa Joe). His birthday happens around Mother’s Day each year, and he’s so kind to let my mom take center stage. We didn’t totally let him off the hook, though. We showered him with love – and some special “Papa-corn” from Hill City Popcorn. 🙂

I’m bummed I didn’t get a picture of him. We were too busy giving hugs, I guess. Here’s a sweet picture of him from another time, though.

{FOUR} Soccer wins

Evan’s soccer team has been on a roll this year. They either won or tied all of their games, and they competed in the state championships last weekend…and won! This means they advance to regionals in North Carolina toward the end of June. Yay, Comets!!!

This will be the first time Evan has qualified for regionals, so it’s a big deal for him. We’re all so excited – and trying not to embarrass him with the happy tears. #sorrynotsorry

Evan is the first player on the right (next to his coach).

{FIVE} Peonies that lasted, and lasted

Fresh flowers are the path to this mama’s heart and soul, and my family knows me well. They brought home a fresh bouquet (including peonies!!) from my favorite shop on Mother’s Day, and they lasted for nearly two weeks. I literally just tossed them out, y’all. That’s why I’m still talking about them!!

Right when these beauties got home I took a picture (because it lasts longer) and now I can share them with you. Enjoy! Feel free to download it, share it or just soak in the prettiness. 🙂

That’s a wrap. Thanks for letting me share a few family memories. Here’s to a lovely weekend ahead for everyone!

Blessings,

Kate

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Good Friday Wrap

{This beautiful print was found here.}

Every year on Good Friday, I try to pause for a moment of deep gratitude. If you’re Christian, like I am, we sit in amazement of the greatest gift given to humanity. It’s ours to have and hold in praise…knowing that Sunday is coming.

So in a moment of quiet, I started by looking back on this past week. While it wasn’t perfect, there were plenty of events and things to be thankful for. Here are a few that rose to the top. >

{ONE} Evan’s big day

My sweet Evan not only turned 14 this week (what?!), but also won a regional tournament with his soccer team. I’m so incredibly proud of him and his loving spirit. Most days, that is. Haha.

He’s a teen after all, and we’re not exempt from the roller coaster of emotions from those changing hormones. Since he’s my oldest, we’re learning through this together. He promised to always talk, and I promised to always listen. I love him to pieces – and love being his mama.

{TWO} Kittens on the porch

While April the giraffe is still pregnant and taking center stage in the media, we had a little birth story of our own. And right on our back porch.

We woke early one morning to find a mama and her FIVE kittens on our outdoor couch! Thank heavens my dog (and my niece’s dog, Frito, whom we were watching at the time) didn’t snatch them up before I made the discovery.

The mama cat got scared and scampered away leaving her babies behind. After securing the dogs inside, I put the kittens in a box with old blankets and moved them out of harms way to the side of the house.

Throughout the day the mama came back to get each one. She took quite a bit of time between each rescue, which worried me for a bit. In fact, one of them was left in the box when we went to bed, but she was rescued by the morning.

While I felt unsure about how things would turn out, I was thankful for the experience of meeting those kittens and caring for them in that short time.

{THREE} Seeds for the bees

I have been super excited to receive this free little gift in the mail. While I could have easily picked up a packet of wildflower seeds from the garden store, I like being part of the official #bringbackthebees effort that Veseys and Cheerios are supporting.

Bees are incredibly important to our food supply. NBC News reported that last year, the U.S. lost a mind-boggling 44 percent of its honeybee colonies. Crazy.

It’s also good to know we can help. Planting bee-friendly flowers, reducing or eliminating our use of pesticides and supporting local beekeepers with buying their honey are three super easy things we can do right now. So happy planting – and eating!!

{FOUR} Puppy faux-hawks

We had one day this week where all three of my kiddos were home sick. Some crazy virus was going around. Anyway, as we were homebound, drinking lots of water and resting, there came a time when we needed some comic relief.

Enter Leo.

Our mini goldendoodle is good for all kinds of laughter in our house. His playful tricks and constant kisses keep us smiling. And this week my daughter, Avery, found a new hilarious activity…puppy updos.

As Leo snuggled next to her on the couch, she would give him a new “do” and then take a picture. (We thought the faux-hawk was his best look.) He didn’t seem to mind. In fact, I think he liked having his hair played with. He’s such a good little puppy.

{FIVE} Easter centerpiece

Anything that involves flowers makes my heart happy. So as you can imagine, making this Easter table centerpiece was pure joy for me. I decided to go with garden plants this year instead of flowers. That way I can plant them directly into my garden after Easter.

This project was so easy, too. It literally took me five minutes to assemble. I’ll have the full DIY with pics tomorrow, so be sure to come back.

I hope your Friday is good and blessed,

Kate

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5 Ways to Mind Your Money

With school back in session, soccer gearing up, and holidays right around the corner, I like to do some budget planning this time of year.

If I’m being honest here, “like” might be an overstatement. I’m not really a numbers person and spreadsheets make my eyes cross. But I realize setting a budget is important, so I try to think of it this way…

money quote

During this planning mode, I’ve come across some helpful tips and resources. I thought I’d share my top five – in case you’re a little like me and love any help you can get 😉

I realize this might not sound super exciting, so feel free to crack open a bottle of Chardonnay-nay or whip up one of these fancy mimosa mocktails to make this more like a party.

Ready?

{ONE} Make a Plan

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You can order a new Day Designer here.

You might be thinking, “Well, of course I need a plan.” But I didn’t always take this idea to heart – until recently. I decided to sit down with Brandon (my hubs), and and write down all of the things we need, items we’d love and experiences we want to have. Then we assigned costs to each line item and had some serious discussion and brainstorming around how we could make it happen.

This step alone was huge.

We’ve always talked about wanting to send our kids to college, make updates to the house, and travel to Hawaii. Now we have a better sense of what it would take, and we can keep our eyes on the prize.

Drilling down to a monthly view of our finances is also helpful for us. At the beginning of each month we write down our estimated expenses and income. Then we check in at least once a month to see if we’re on track. I tuck receipts into my Day Designer so when it’s time to review they’re all organized in one spot.

PS. If you need a new planner to get you through this upcoming busy season, the Day Designer is really awesome.

{TWO} Check – and Double Check – Rates

credit cards

You know that credit card transfer or store credit card you opened a few months ago because it had 0% interest or gave you extra coupons? If you haven’t already paid those off, and the promotional window is over, you could be paying significant interest – like up to 25%. Not cool, man.

It’s also smart to double check the rates on your home and car loans – since rates are still really low. It might be time to refinance. We just checked on our home loan and realized we could be saving a significant amount of money.

{THREE} Shop Wisely

Have you met my new friend Ebates?! I like using Ebates for my online shopping because you get cash back (like in the form of a check) sent to you just for shopping at places you already shop.

For example, I scored 30% off at Old Navy (because they were having a sale), and also got 6% back in cash because I clicked through to Old Navy from the Ebates website. It’s seriously that simple.

I even used it for booking our hotel in South Dakota and got 10% back. That was some good cash.

If you don’t want to spend tons of money on brand name clothes for you and your family…geez, I sound like an ad for TJ Maxx or something. But seriously, if you want beautiful things like a Coach shoulder bag or a Michael Kors dress, ThredUp is a great place to shop.

They claim to offer up to 90% off the original price. And some of the items are new – with tags. Sold!

Now for groceries…

When it comes to groceries, I’m not a coupon clipper. I like to make shopping as painless as possible. So I started using the Walmart Grocery Pickup.

Y’all. It is so amazing.

I sit and plan my meals, make a quick list and then jump online to order each item. I type what I need in the search bar and up pops my choices. (Once you’ve done this a few times, it saves all of your “favorites”, so it’s even faster to re-order and checkout.) Then I pick a time to go get my things and it’s all fresh and ready to roll.

The biggest benefit – other than saving me gobs of time – is that online shopping keeps me from impulse buying. #moneysaver

The site also shows you “cost per” ounce, roll, etc. so it’s super easy to comparison shop. I love not having to do more math.

{FOUR} Eat at Home

Now that we have our groceries picked up…

These Turkey Taco Lettuce Wraps are super easy – and delish.

Yum. Eating at home is not only better for your waistline, but also your wallet. I  know it’s not possible to eat at home for every meal, but it’s good to take a look at your ratio. Does it skew more toward your family kitchen than the family diner down the road?

I did a quick check and was a little surprised by how much we’d “just swing through” places for a meal, snack or drink here and there. It all adds up. In lots of places. (Which is why we had the Whole30 discussion last week.)

Meal planners are a must in my life. Here are a couple I found that are super helpful >>

I like planning my meals a week at at time. And I leave room for eating out on nights like Mondays when everyone has soccer practice (clear across town from each other) and no one is home until 8pm.

{FIVE} Include the Kids

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Boy, do they love stuffed animal shopping! <3

This final note is something Brandon and I recently figured out. Now that our kids are tweens and teens, they’re old enough to learn about managing money.

We give them a line item in our budget, which means we set aside a little money for them each month to choose how to use.

They get to experience the true cost of things as they head to the cash register, and they get practice making decisions. Do we go for an ice cream treat after dinner or save up for more stuffed animals?

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Something else we’re doing is setting a fun family goal. Do we want to go back to Disney or experience a cruise?

Once we have it figured out, we’ll let the kids help “pay” for it by putting any of their loose change in a basket in the kitchen. {We’ve actually had a change basket above our refrigerator for awhile, so we have a head start!)

This won’t pay for the entire trip, of course, but the kids will feel like they’re helping – and that they’re an important part of the family when it comes to making money decisions.

I hope at least some of these ideas were helpful to hear. What are other ways you and your family stay on track with your finances?

-Kate

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Friday Wrap: Spring Break Here We Come!

Today’s edition of Friday Wrap is dedicated to the next 9 glorious days of Spring Break!!

Here are the five things I’m most looking forward to on our little family adventure to the beach – in no particular order. It’s all good.

{ONE} Eating as much shrimp as my heart desires.

I’m a little obsessed with shrimp. So the thought of spending this much time near the source of this beautiful and delicious culinary treat is nearly enough to make me cry. I plan to eat shrimp for every meal, and I don’t even care if it turns my skin shades of pink. Get in my belly.

{TWO} Finally reading my next book club book.

My fabulous book club (that mostly drinks wine and sometimes reads books) selected Cuckoo’s Calling. It’s by J.K. Rowling, but written under her new pen name of Robert Galbraith. That brings up lots of discussion for another time. Anyway, the book is our next read. It’s “due” the first week of April, so I need to get crackin’ on my literary consumption. Although, you have no idea how happy I am at the thought of camping out in a beach chair with a good book in hand – and maybe a drink in the other. Bring it.

{THREE} Stopping at random attractions.

We actually do this sort of thing when we can. At times Brandon has to grin and bear it, though, as the kids and I run up to things like life-sized peanuts, cement dinosaurs and Thunderbirds to take pictures. You gotta stop every now and then and make memories along the way. Maybe we’ll catch Stan the Muffler Man or The World’s Largest Office Chair on this adventure? #cheese

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{FOUR} Quality time with my people.

Need I say more? I love my little family, and I can’t wait to put the phone down already and just sit among these amazing humans. <3

family road trip

{Avery is tucked in the back with Mr. Fluffers}

{FIVE} Soaking up these views.

Just a single picture of the beach makes me feel relaxed (and maybe a little hungry for shrimp.) This was a picture taken on our last trip to Seaside. We’ll be close to the same spot, so I’m hoping for a sequel that’s just as good or better than the original. We’ve never been in the spring, so I assume it will be cooler with a splash of rain here and there. I really don’t mind, though. Just look at reasons number 1-4.

seaside florida

Have a wonderful week and I’ll see you after Easter, which is next weekend already! That happened fast.

XOXO

-Kate

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The Diary of a Real Housewife

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Five Highlights from 2015

As we ring in the new year, open our fresh planners, and start pushing ahead with new goals and aspirations, I decided to take a quick minute to reflect on what a blessing this year has been.

Of course it wasn’t all blissful, as I lost a friend, experienced ups and downs with work, and searched for ways to balance life with three tweens. But between the tears, questions, and touches of sass, there were some pretty special moments. In fact, here are five pretty incredible things about this past year.

{ONE} Getting our puppy, Leo

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This bundle of Goldendoodle fur became an Andersen this fall. Leo Heath Andersen is his official name. His special talents include walking upright on his back legs – like a person – and finding all of our favorite socks to use as chew toys. He really is a doll, and we’ve loved getting to know him and adjusting our lives to include his sweet self.

rosie at the office

We think Rosie the Rabbit feels the same way. They don’t snuggle like something you’d see on a Hallmark card, but they’re co-habitating fairly well. Rosie loves it when Leo takes a nap. That means she gets to roam the house and help with the blog. #coffeebreak

{TWO} Visiting Oregon for our 15th wedding anniversary

K and B beach

Arborbrook Vineyard

Brandon and I officially made it to 15 years of marriage. Not that I questioned the milestone, I just can’t believe it has already been that long – and that we were able to sneak away for a long weekend together to celebrate. The stars aligned, so we hit the friendly skies and headed straight for the Oregon coast to enjoy some much-needed adult time, incredible food, and gorgeous scenery. It was such a treat and perfect way to celebrate with my best friend.

{THREE} Taking a fun summer road trip

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This summer, we packed up the truckster and hit the road for a two-week, Griswold-style family vacation. The adventure started by heading straight north to Minnesota for the Clark family reunion. (My maiden name is Clark, and this fun bunch of people are from my dad’s side of the family.) We only get together every three years, so it’s always a wild time catching up, and meeting babies and newlywed spouses. A lot can happen in three years, you know!

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emma and paul

After the reunion we ventured down to Nebraska for my niece’s wedding. It truly was a picture-perfect wedding, and we were honored to be able to share in their joy.

{FOUR} Watching my kids continue to grow into beautiful little people.

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Life with tweens can be interesting – and entertaining. Somehow Brandon and I managed to get some really great kids with equally as sweet friends. I’ve heard the teenage years get more complicated, so I’m enjoying this phase as long as I can.

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Evan completed his first 5K this year, as well as a full season of cross country. This translates into a growing boy who eats like there’s no tomorrow. Seriously. That boy can eat. When he stands still long enough for me to get a good look at him, I’m amazed at the young man he’s becoming. He’s officially taller than I am, but still says he loves me when I drop him off for school. He can officially stop growing, now.

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The girls entered 4th grade this year and played soccer for “coach dad.” They’re super active and are starting to show an interest in swimming. So there’s hope for a few more fish in our family. These two are total peas in a pod and are always up to something creative – and stuffed-animal related. For instance, I recently found them duct-taping stuffed animals to the fan blades in their room giving free “carnival” rides. They figured out how to get up there from the top bunk bed. It’s never a dull moment with my twinsies – and I wouldn’t trade a second of my life.

{FIVE} Celebrating my first blogiversary

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I was so surprised by this sweet gesture. I might have teared up a bit. In hindsight, I probably should have showered before I had this picture taken.

I was so surprised by this sweet gesture. I might have teared up a bit. In hindsight, I probably should have showered before I had this picture taken.

This blog has been one of the most rewarding creative endeavors. I have loved meeting other bloggers, sharing my experiences, and having a space where I can feel truly comfortable with my writing – typos and all! 🙂 I’ve definitely learned quite a few things in this first year, and I’m beyond excited for the adventure ahead.

Thank you for being here with me. Here’s to an incredible new year for all of us!

-Kate

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Fun Friday Wrap

We’ve had such a fun-filled week (including last weekend). I thought I’d share some of the joy in my “Five on Friday” list. Here we go:

{ONE} Fayetteville Ale Trail

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Look at our fun, crazy friends. We’re blessed to have found this crew.

B and I had a BLAST touring several local craft breweries with our friends last weekend. Northwest Arkansas is a flourishing area for this type of thing. (There’s even this cool documentary about it.) And we’re the lucky ones who get to benefit from all of the creativity and delicious brews. My favorite of the day was T-Rex from Fossil Cove. It’s really good. And I sampled a lot of beer that day. Hiccup. A couple of the places offered tours, so it was also highly educational. Wink!

{TWO} Repurposed Muffin Tin

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Okay, so I’m still on the topic of the beer tour, but I had to share this smart idea. You know I’m a sucker for repurposed anything. Well, I now have a new use for muffin tins!

Let me back up the bus. Whenever you order a flight, which is basically several little shots of beer, it’s usually served in small glasses nestled inside of a wooden tray. When we were at Saddlebock Brewery, they served their glasses in muffin tins. They used dry erase markers to label each of the beer samples. It may have been the beer, but I thought this was pure genius. There you have it!

{THREE} An All-American Performance
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My sweet girls had a 4th grade performance last week that featured all American-themed songs. Clara is pictured on the left, and it’s a bit blurry because I was trying to work around the dude in front of me in the oversized cowboy hat. Seriously, people. Oh, and yes, that’s a giant pig in the background. I’m still not sure why there were farm animals, but they were very funny.

Avery, pictured on the right, was a flag twirler. You can tell from her expression that she was in her element. It was a wonderful moment for us, and for my parents who were able to join us, to celebrate our patriotism. It was much needed. Thank you, my twinsies!

{FOUR} Recovering Puppy

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Our little Leo was neutered last week, so he has been recovering the past few days. The Cone of Shame comes off on Sunday, so I’m sure he’ll be back to his jumpy, puppy self once that happens. In the meantime, while he has been napping at my feet, look who came out of her room to play “office” with me…

rosie at the office

It’s Rosie the rabbit! She loved sitting in my lap while I worked. This picture cracked me up because it looks like she’s drinking a latte, and maybe posting a few blackmail pictures of Leo wearing his cone.

{FIVE} Thoughtful Anniversary Gift

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As many of you know, B and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary a tad early when we took our trip to Oregon. Our official date is over Thanksgiving weekend. So in honor of our anniversary month, we’ve been spacing out special surprises for each other. One of them was opening this incredibly thoughtful gift from my parents.

It’s a brass door knocker they received as a wedding gift in 1958! They decided to share it with us on this special milestone. I love this so much. I hope I remember to hang on to gifts like this for my kids one day.

Here’s to more adventures ahead – for all of us, my friends!

Be sure to check out all of the blogging goodness on Five on Friday and Oh, Hey Friday!

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-Kate

 

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