07 February 2016

Good Morning!

I recently heard someone older and wiser talking about obedience and behavior, he said "we shouldn't be so concerned about what our kids are not hearing us say, we should be concerned about what they are hearing us say." They really are little sponges! Little Levi is always watching his big sister too. This was the morning after Georgiana's cheer performance. They came and snuggled in our bed before I had to head out to church. I love these little cuddle bugs!!
 Levi thinking, what's sister doing?
 Oh, we're showing our hands! (she wanted to show her purple and gold nail polish from the night before).
 Laying them down like this, I got it!
 What's this? Oh, pointing to our lip like so. (Georgiana was wiggling her loose tooth).
Be careful little eyes what you see. So true, right now and always. 
While at Costco today, Kelly took Levi to the bathroom and when they came out, Levi announced for the entire store to hear, "I went potty standing up!!" Followed by an equally excited announcement, "And so did daddy!" 
The young employee putting her purse into her locker near us, just about folded in half laughing. Levi's chest was puffed up and he was grinning from ear to ear. I'm pretty sure she knew she was sharing in a very proud moment. Way to go buddy!! He wants to be just like daddy.
These last few weeks, the 'S' in my prayer time (see the post a few back about TACOS prayer), has been Lord please help me to be a godly example to Georgiana and Levi. I have many Lakeside Bible Camp memories of singing, "It is the cry of my heart to follow You, it is the cry of my heart to be close to You, it is the cry of my heart to follow all of the days of my life. Teach me Your holy ways oh Lord, so I can walk in Your truth. Teach me Your holy ways oh Lord and make me wholly devoted to You..." It really is the cry of my heart. I am SO tempted to search my heart and dwell on my mistakes and my shortcomings, this old camp song reminds me to keep my eyes off myself and fix my eyes on Christ. It makes me want to seek God with all my heart. What does that look like? Well, that could be answered in many different ways. One way I am trying to actively work seeking Him, is being in the Word more, which means reading my Bible more. Not just a fluffy idea of wouldn't that be great to do that... But, a plan, a goal. I'll blog more about how that goes after this week. With these cuties sleeping fairly consistently, it's time for me to do what I've been daydreaming about for years. The time has come to set an alarm and rise and shine before my early birds arrive. It's been years since my Bible/prayer time has been a "quiet time," it's been a where/when can I squeeze it in time. 
Speaking of time, it is well past my bedtime.
Jeremiah 29:13
"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."

Just calling it out!

Oh, first world snafus. When I posted the screenshot of the Instagram thrifter I went back and forth with her hashtag, #louboutin.  (I should have trusted my gut!) I even googled it to make sure I was spelling it correctly. I was a little weirded out that the signature LV bags were the same maker as the infamous red bottom shoe, and that the fashion thrifter would have a typo, I thought it was a trendy thingy. Well, shocker, they are not the same, at all! I shouldn't trust my typing or googling at the end of a busy two weeks, haha! What did I google!?!  I just did a search in my phone and sure enough http://us.christianlouboutin.com/us_en/ came right on up. Maybe I should have used Bing, it's powered by people and people know their shoes. So, good thing I never claimed to be a fashionista, I think I'll stick with flipping furniture. Who knows what I would either buy for an inflated price or pass up because I had no clue!
Now I know I was hearing the 'b' pronounced correctly in the shoe name, I thought maybe it was a ritzy accent!

06 February 2016

Weekends & Such

We've put in a busy couple of weekends, 3 birthday parties, cheerleading at a basketball game, I had the pleasure of emceeing a Women of Faith event at our church, our first Supper Club dinner, church & Sunday school, dance, dinner out and as a result, a very messy house.
Tomorrow we finish the weekends off with a little Super Bowl watching and some much needed grocery shopping and housecleaning. 
The back to back busy weekends, kicked off with a little shopping. I enjoy blogging about deals, because I was born and raised to be a bargain shopper. I am a go to the back of the store, find your J.Crew twill pants on clearance kind of girl. But, there is one store that I enjoy just as it is. Sure, I love to celebrate it's anniversary, I do not ignore it's outlet, but at the end of the day I just enjoy shopping it without an extreme bargain hunting mentality. I like to take it all in. 
Nordstrom is a very happy place.
So pretty and the quality, sigh.
I've never regretted a denim investment made possible by the help of the very attentive, but not too pushy, sales staff. The same is true for shoes, I still wear leather boots purchased in high school! Some items are just worth the investment. 
Like furniture. I am clearly always up for a bargain, but when the budget allows, I think a splurge adds a touch of class and rounds out other 'character' finds. 
Kelly snapped a couple photos while we shopped with our little guy. 
I'm thinking I should have bought this hat, and it was on sale!
Shopping day with the Smith boys! 
We don't get to the mall much, but when we do, nothing excites this boy more than the escalator!!
And yes, he insists on wearing his coat and hood at all times.

 After our shopping, purse returning, watch sizing outing, we took the advice of many a Southern blogger and found our way to Chick-fil-A. I hadn't been to a Chick-fil-A since I was a student at Emmaus Bible College visiting my friend Ashley's hometown. I remember sitting in the mall and not understanding at all what the hype was. I was addicted to Culver's, but as a poor college student I didn't really jump on the chicken sandwich bandwagon when I knew I could get one at McDonald's for $1.00!
Well, fast forward a million years later and I prefer CFA hands down over the value meal option. From the atmosphere to the condiments, way better. It is like an In & Out of chicken. 
And it has a cute little play area too!

Our little cheerleader getting ready for the game.
I painted her nails purple and gold and she was happy to demonstrate her cheer moves!
Leading up to the game, anytime she would talk about cheering, she would follow it up with...
"But, my mom can't come."
Dagger in my heart. The date of the game was only announced at the clinic and I had already committed to emceeing our church women's event. I reminded her of how much fun I had while I watched her practice for 3 hours, and she smiled and said "it's fine!" Followed by listing everyone who would be there to cheer her on while she cheered, thus proving she would be fine. Oh Georgie girl, if you only knew how badly I wanted to see you perform. 
She assures me I will have future opportunities. She appears to hold no grudges against me. She is a practical girl, however my absence is still recorded in her kindergarten writing journal. 
Yep, forever documented.
Georgiana and her bff Grace.
So much cuteness.
Now, onto my latest bargain.
Love me some Dollar Tree finds. Obviously the Dollar Tree does not have any sort of peaceful shopping atmosphere like the store I lead with, not at all. But, it is very peaceful on the wallet. If you get creative enough, you may just be shocked at what you find!

I like to buy the kraft wrapping paper. I love the sturdiness and the look. I was thinking of maybe going with a gift bag look for a baby shower I attended on Thursday, but then I saw the canvas-y storage bins and thought I would think a little out of the box. Plus, I do love the look of a wrapped gift, I feel like wrapped gifts are hard to come by these days. It's all tissues and bags (which I too use quite frequently), but when I have the time and the materials, I like to kick it a little old school and get out the tape.
Levi was equally shocked by the outcome!
(no, he is not posed. Levi would not pose for anyone, ha!)
The confidence I am seeing in this boy is warming my mommy heart like no other.
Look at his precious face!!
There's a bargain shopper and then there is a, well a...
A crazy lady who picks up what Georgiana would describe as truly stinky weird stuff off the side of the road. Yes, I admit it, you know when you see the cardboard FREE sign on the side of the road leaning against some depressed looking piece of furniture and you think to yourself who in the world would ever touch that, let alone put it in their car and take it home!?!  Well, as long as it is not made out of fabric, it is very likely me. 
I couldn't pass up 3 wooden windsor chairs!
Levi said, "I don't like dirty trash."
Me: "What dirty trash buddy?"
Levi: "The chairs."
Building character right? Or maybe just providing material for future counseling sessions.
In a recent post, I said I couldn't quite handle thrift store clothes shopping, I've heard too many first hand germy stories. Well, Kelly's cousin is quite successfully shopping and flipping items from some thrift stores in LA, making me rethink my bias.
Although, I feel pretty confident I would not find the #louisvuitton's like this LA thrifter found!
There is an entire community of thrift shoppers linked with eBay stores, it's impressive I tell you.
I already posted this on instagram & fb, but I just cannot get over my blue eyed boy. If there was a shell, he's coming out of it and boy oh boy do I love it!
This morning I got to snuggle sweet precious Ginny (my friend Jessica's adorable baby girl). She was holding my hand, oh my word I loved every second. 
PS - that's my Target clearance sweater with a Nordstrom scarf and a tiny Nordstrom Rack purse (it's a new parenting season carrying around this itty bitty thing), a little bit of this and a little bit of that!
This pretty much sums up how we felt at the end of today.
But, then we all woke up for a cupcake!
Cupcake favors. Love it. We tossed this idea around for Levi's 3rd birthday but went a different route. Now that I've seen it and tasted it, I just may have to duplicate it!
Oh, and a random picture of the Smith boys out to Gyoza as Levi would say. He says, "Let's go see Andy(the cashier and smiling face of our favorite Teriyaki shop) at Gyoza!" He gets really excited when we eat inside. While the boys dined inside, Georgiana and I ate McDonald's in the dance studio lobby between her classes. Did I mention it's been a busy week and I need to do a Costco run??
Yes, I had a McChicken no mayo (because I cannot even handle the smell of plain mayonnaise, it gives me the heeby jeebies). Kelly said, "I can get you a Big Mac, I know you like those." My pride can only take so much. Can't you just picture me, sitting next to a dance mom watching her ballerina daughter prep for class stretching her leg up to the ceiling while I am shoving my face with 3 layers of gluten, 2 mystery patties, lettuce sprinkling down and sauce smeared across my face. With the most embarrassing part being the fact that I would enjoy every bite! With all the clean eaters around me, us dirty eaters feel a little self conscious sometimes. The chicken sandwich was all I could handle, and I standby my thoughts on the Chick-fil-A. Somehow CFA feels like a more sophisticated fast food option.
The owner of the studio walked right past me while I was sneaking Georgiana's fries down my gullet. I jokingly said, "please don't judge."
She laughed and told me how at another studio she worked at, she enforced a no fast food rule. Then she had kids. Now, we just call it life.
Last blog item in the titled 'such' category.
My friend Kevin is coming up to Seattle for a comedy show, I guarantee you will laugh SOOO hard. Laughing is super healthy for you, it's like clean eating for your soul.

03 February 2016

My New Obsession and some Walmarche Finds

My in-laws bought me a pressure cooker for Christmas and it is the namesake of the title. This appliance is my new kitchen obsession!!
People, chicken tortilla soup was cooked to perfection in 12 minutes!! That includes the 4 minute warm up to the pressurization. So 8 minutes of cook time, and a couple minutes for cool down. So, seriously less than 15 minutes. I added zucchini, it was delish. I am pretty convinced you can add almost any vegetable to this soup and it will taste great.
Tonight, I made teriyaki chicken (for the second time in a week) in 10 minutes on the poultry setting (plus the warm up time). I used boneless skinless chicken breasts that were still partially frozen. I poured my favorite teriyaki sauce all over it, added about one cup of water and pressed start. The crazy thing about this pressure cooker is when I cut into the super moist chicken, the marinade appears to be almost all the way through the chicken, like it was marinating for days, which I love. There are roughly a million health benefits to cooking with a pressure cooker. Vegetables retain way more nutrients compared to other forms of cooking, here is a blog with a lot more nutrient oriented details, LINK.
So, I am hooked and am excited to pin some recipes and get creative. The time saving element of this machine is close to priceless to me.
Moving on, Levi and I wandered around Walmart a bit. I have some Crate & Barrel gift cards that are burning a hole in my pocket, I planned on buying some more Aspen dishes, but I've also been eyeing the small footed dessert bowls. As crazy as this may sound, I wanted to see what Walmart had. Walmart can be a surprising place to find some little gems. Walmart does have a dessert trifle dish, only $1.97, Crate & Barrel's is $2.95. Not too much of a price difference, C&B has an obvious high quality, but I think overall, it is just a decision on silhouette. I may be that crazy lady who brings a Walmart footed bowl in my purse to compare to at C&B... And, since we are on the topic of footed bowls, I have to share these soup bowls, love them. I am thinking rather than completing my Aspen bowl set, I may just go miss-matchy and finish it off with the footed ones instead. I feel like if they are all white I can swing it. First world dilemmas I know.
I realize Pioneer Woman has been selling and selling out for sometime, but I just had to snap a few pics of things that popped out to me. The glassware, love me some character.
These mason jar lids, a set of four for under $3. They were out of coordinating reusable straws. Can you tell I am already dreaming of dining alfresco? Once mid January hits, I am basically ready for Spring flowers and straight on till Summer. But, I live in the PNW...
While Levi and I were antiquing (unsuccessfully) the other day, I saw one overpriced glass jar after the next. Granted, these are not antiques, but the same look can be achieved at a much lower price point. I pretty much only buy my glass jars here.
And now, for what I feel like is the creme de la creme of my most recent Walmart finds.
Moscow Mule Mugs. $6.22.
Now, if you know me well, you may be laughing to yourself a bit, wondering why I am so excited about Moscow Mule mugs?? True, I am not much of a Moscow Mule girl myself, but couldn't I put my cranberry juice and sparkling water in one of these little beauties?? I follow @jennycookies on instagram, and she had a few posts throughout the holidays with similar mugs and I just fell in love. Of course the quality would be different, but as a novelty mug, I think I would at least try the Walmart version. The ones she posted about are here, they are actually copper and quite eye-catching, but I just think this is an item that not directly next to each other you may not really notice the difference. I could be wrong, but for an $18 difference per mug, it's worth contemplating. 

01 February 2016

Throwback to TACOS Tuesday & Dice Cocoa

Kelly had to work last Tuesday evening, which meant in addition to heading to volunteer in Georgiana's classroom with me, Levi also had to head to ballet. He is such a trooper and judge as you may, he gets to pick good boy rewards throughout his errand running. Not too surprisingly, Tuesday morning he wanted to earn a Legendary Doughnut. One ginormous Tinker Bell sugary sweetness please. Thankfully he eats it in stages, 1/3 at the doughnut shop while we awkwardly watch the one employee and only other person in the entire establishment make doughnuts, 1/3 after lunch and sometimes I can get away tossing the other 1/3 away. Levi always chooses to sit at the bar with the window looking into the baking area. He loves watching the employee decorate the doughnuts or even fold boxes, I would not work there just because of the zoo like feeling of the window, well that and the fact that I was not born with too much self discipline in the sugar department. Poor little guy, apple did not fall far. Don't worry, not all his prizes are sweets, we get creative with the sticker charts.
After a sugar filled day, it was off to dance. Thankfully, Tuesdays are our short dance days, so it wasn't too torturous on the little guy. When it was time to go, Levi started talking about how hungry he was. Let me preface this by saying, not too long ago Georgiana overheard me say something to Kelly about someone being angry and she said "what does angry mean again?" Before I could answer, she said "oh yea, that's how our family gets when we are hungry!" I'm pretty sure you will find my face or a familiar one in the urban dictionary next to hangry. So, now I had a sugar crashed, errand exhausted hangry 3 year old. Good times. My simple tortellini dinner I had planned in my head was beginning to feel like Mission Impossible. So, why not have a Taco night? I mean, it is Tuesday after all. When I pulled into Taco Time, I laughed because there was a sandwich board that read "Taco Tuesday, crisp beef tacos buy one get one free." The deal lover in me was delighted, and my babies who are made of 1/2 Taco Time and 1/2 organic broccoli (that I ate after gorging on Taco Time while I was pregnant because I felt guilty for the said T.T.), were purely delighted.
They both requested Taco Time water, it's just so much more fun to drink out of a paper cup and straw than a glass one at home! Georgiana was looking at the lid on her cup and said 
"which one says  dice?" 
Me: "diet?" 
G: "yes, diet, like diet cocoa!"
We don't drink many carbonated beverages in our house, ha ha.
In addition to loving a good taco Tuesday, Kelly and I were recently taught a very useful TACOS acronym for praying. Many years ago we were both taught the ACTS (adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication) acronym at Lakeside Bible Camp. I had somewhat fallen out of habit of using that tool and hadn't really taught it to my little ones. Our church is doing a Sunday school series on discipleship/mentorship, we have learned new tools for discipling and to use in our own daily lives, but it has also caused us to realize how much we were really taught at summer camp. The class has reminded us of a lot of lessons we learned at camp, but ones we just weren't actively applying to our lives. My brain isn't thinking very eloquently this evening, but if you think this is a plug for Lakeside Bible Camp on Whidbey Island, it absolutely is. Kelly and I cannot speak more highly about our time at camp. We still have amazing friendships from fellow campers/tcl-ers/staffers/LBC goers. TCL (Training in Christian Living), was where we learned about scripture memory, having God's Word written on our hearts. Where we learned about fellowship, being with other believers, iron sharpening iron. Where we learned about Bible study, digging deep in God's Word. Where we learned about prayer, communicating with God daily, the list could go on and on. I pray that our little ones will have the same opportunities we had, I also hope they don't mind if their mommy happens to be cooking up at camp their entire TCL, I can't quite imagine being away from them for so many weeks!
Anyway, now that I have sang LBC's praises, back to the TACOS acronym.

T - Thanksgiving
A - Adoration (Praising God)
C - Confession (telling God our sins and asking forgiveness, He forgives Every.Single.Time.)
O - Others (praying for others just like it sounds)
S - Self

Super similar to ACTS, but I enjoy the order of Others and then Self, it seems to make a noticeable impact on the supplication (God please, God please...) portion of my prayer time. Less about me and more about others.

Here are some tidbits I've been gleaning from the class and trying to apply on the home front. 
When praying keep it super simple. No need to overwhelm my tiny ones with wordy prayers that may intimidate them from praying. 
Part of our bedtime routine is praying as a family, what it often became was "Lord, please help us to have sweet dreams..." 
Now, we do this:
Kelly or I lead it and Georgiana follows. Levi will let us know who he would like us to pray for, but he otherwise likes to be a silent participant. If I am leading I say:
"T is for Thanksgiving, God, I thank you for..." I try to pick one thing, not all lengthy and intimidating.
Then Georgiana says, "God, thank you for..."
We go through each letter, in kid talk I explained that 'A' is something you love about God and you want to tell Him. Her prayers of adoration bring tears to my eyes. "God, I adore You because you are so loving and forgiving to us, I adore You because You created the whole earth..." Faith like a child.
C - this can be difficult, if Georgiana is having trouble thinking of something, I tell her she can say something like, "God, please show me the sin in my life so I can learn to be more like you." 
We do a little 'O' and again I usually just ask her to pick one friend or family member to pray for. Sometimes we pray for the neighbor's dog, you know, deep stuff. 
Then 'S' and then I briefly close us in prayer. 
The other night she led the prayer for the first time, with "T is for Thankful..."
We are slowly transitioning to not having to call the prayer out like a cheer with the give me a 'T', and as mechanical as it may sound, it is incredibly heartfelt. It might feel awkward at first, but whether you are a child or an adult learning to pray, it is a super helpful tool. Prayer is simply talking to God. There is a lot more going on behind the scenes with the Holy Spirit interceding and all sorts of fancy theological things, but at the end of the day it is just talking to Him, our Creator and Heavenly Father, communicating. Pretty awesome and undeservedly accessible. TACOS or ACTS are not magic recipes, they are just guides to help keep your focus, my prayers can very easily fall into the God please, God please, God please, and I completely forget about confession or saying thank you. Talking to God is not part of a religious checklist, it is part of a living relationship. If all I ever said to the people that I love was "will you please do A,B,C,D,E..." it wouldn't be a very healthy relationship. It also wouldn't be very healthy if all I was doing was talking. So, we are called to be still, this might be the quietness of our hearts or it might literally be a time to be still and know that He is God. It is also most definitely a time to listen, to read a giant true story, a letter He wrote just for us. The Bible. When trying to sort out decisions, I so often say, "this time I would just really like God to send me a letter, just write down exactly what He wants me to do." I know in my brain that He speaks through His Word, the Bible, but sometimes I am so out of habit of diving into His word, that my heart discounts it. I think, how will the Bible direct me/us on what school to send Georgiana to? How will it help me sort out job options? I box it up and dismiss God's Word and ignore key components. It is SO not just an amazing Book. It is active, living, sharper than a two edged sword. It is real and He, the Creator of the entire universe, the Great I AM, speaks to us through it. I can't explain it, but by golly it's the real deal. Open it up, it doesn't come back void.

27 January 2016

Two Thumbs Up Cookies!

Levi and I decided it was a baking kind of day, a few years back my friend Christy gave me a recipe for cake mix cookies. Georgiana loves the lemon cake cookies and over Christmas instead of chocolate crinkles, I made double chocolate ones. The recipe is so easy, I really should have it memorized, but my brain didn't save it and I couldn't find the original recipe in my recipe box, so to the internet I went. I just used a (link HERE) Betty Crocker recipe. I chose to put powdered sugar on the cookies after baking them, not before. I also ended up baking most of mine at 350 degrees. At 375 the tops were getting a little brown, I am not sure if this is just a part of getting used to baking in a gas oven, or if this would be true for all ovens. 
I also don't remember having to use so much butter before, so I'm thinking I need to go back to the original recipe. (Update: Christy said this is the original recipe, I must have chosen to forget the butter, but that's why they are so good!)
Still, Levi gave this one two thumbs up!
 Wait a second, something is not right here.
Pretty close to two thumbs up.
 Okay, he's got it. This takes some serious concentration.
 Maybe if I just close my eyes and not focus on my thumbs this will be easier!
Super quick and easy recipe, quick enough to hold my baking buddy's attention.
 Some frosting for those who want a little extra sugar and because I already had it in my pantry. Word on the street is, this 80's child staple is hard to find. Even the container says "Back by popular demand!" I found it at Fred Meyer. 
 Levi's favorite part.
 I do enjoy fresh baked cookies on a cake plate. My favorite scentsy scent is sugar cookie, I can enjoy the fresh baked smell without the fresh baked mess (although, I will say this mess is minimal in comparison to the truly homemade varieties).
 Because, he melts me. 
This is a great recipe to use when you are baking with kiddos, Levi was totally impressed that sprinkles were hiding inside! 

26 January 2016

The Little Smiths

This is not a glamour shot of Levi's room. He was borrowing a pair of sister's sheets, which he thought was hilarious, and completely fighting me on his nap. He is definitely phasing out of naps, but there are some days when the whole family benefits from a well rested boy. This particular day, he was almost deliriously tired. The one arm over his head was a firm giveaway that "I'm not tired momma," was actually code for "I need some serious rest momma!"
About 15 minutes later...
 He insists on wearing pajamas at nap time and you guessed it, napping in mommy and daddy's bed. It's the guaranteed recipe for some solid sleep.
Now, if Georgiana accidentally squeezes in a nap, I have to plan on a late night. This girl has not needed a nap since she was 2 1/2 years old on the money and if she gets one, she will be up until midnight, or 10pm, which basically feels like midnight in our house. Thankfully on weekends, we can afford to have the schedule a little off and opt for some late night reading in her bed. She is still hooked on Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew! "One more chapter momma, you just have to!!"
 In addition to chapter books, she also grew up overnight and became a high school cheerleader.
 Well, not quite, but close.
She and her best friend (her words, and I love it) Grace, went to a cheer clinic this past weekend and had a blast! Grace's mom (Kari) and I stayed and watched and it was simply adorable. The high school girls did an outstanding job with the little ones.
 Oh, you know just finding a selfie on my phone, did they crack my passcode??
 One night off schedule, we can typically handle that.
But two nights equals two tiny ones giggling and crawling all over me at 10pm and then waking up at 6:00am. You say to yourself, 8 hours, that's great! No, not great when you are a wee one. That's a good 2 1/2-3 hours short of great. 
At least they are cute :)
 This is not exactly in theme with the title, but I am a big big fan of this piece. I find myself buying more produce just to fill it up, this picture was a few days after I stocked it up. Yet, I am drawing a blank at what else I could put in/on it?
 I was thinking maybe some plants in the Spring, or seasonal decor or...
If you are looking at it and have an idea, please comment below, all ideas welcome!
Speaking of houseplants. The kiddos herbs are doing great, we used the basil and Italian parsley in our dinner Sunday night. We only lost our cilantro and Georgiana proudly replaced it with a bean she started growing at school. This has me excited about gardening this year!! I should say trying to garden this year!!
 Levi's been working on his two thumbs up and Georgiana has been a LEGO machine. 
 Both are quite impressive if I do say so myself.
And, that smirk on Mr. Levi next to his Price Is Right engineer sister.
Love them.
Thanks blog, journal-ish-ing is healthy for my brain.