Tractors

My boys, but particularly Rhett, love Tractors. It seems to be just part of the male DNA to like large, metal outdoor equipment. When we see any kind of tractor, excavator, backhoe, etc, the boys both yell it out and try and get me to pull over so they can stare at it for awhile. In the Spring, we went to visit my Uncle who has a small farm and the boys got to get turns riding his tractor. It was a day in Heaven for them. Rhett at one point sat in the loader and said “Scoop dump Rhett?” So B lifted him up (safely) in the loader. It’s been a few months but I was looking back through pictures and it made me so happy to remember how giggly and excited they were to spend time on a tractor. DSC_6867DSC_6903

My Uncles farm is one part funky décor/ “lawn ornaments” that are pieces of his life that have been strewn about around the property but look super cool and one part man-cave turned farm. He’s got old metal signs from his parents old general store from the 50’s, Citrus signs from the Orange groves my aunt ran, cool leather horse saddles, Native American gifts from his friends in the nearby tribe, and some really neat animals running around like an albino peacock and mane-coon cat. I think every time I’ve been there there have been different animals. including pigs, parrots, chickens, cows, donkeys, horses, possums, cats, dog, bats, owls, alligators, and more. Lately he’s been putting out feed for whatever wants to come see him and around 8 o’clock every night there’s basically a free animal show of raccoons, possums, deer, cats, dogs, peacocks, bats, and just about any other Florida animal you can think of, including late night visits from a coyote (no, thanks). DSC_7206

My Uncle has done about 50 different jobs in his life time (including being in the Army, a tugboat captain, semi-truck driver, farmer, mechanic, painter. Basically if you can name it, he’s either done it professionally or as a hobby)  and can tell some pretty good stories so I consider it an honor when I can sit on his porch swing (which I broke while I was there. Time to lose the baby-weight) and chat with him for awhile. The boys were more interested in the tractor than visiting, so I was glad B could come and drive them around while I visited.DSC_6932DSC_6949DSC_6967DSC_7047DSC_6999DSC_7011DSC_7289DSC_7284

Being on a farm in the middle-of-nowhere always reminds me how much I want to live out in the country. We bought our house where we did because it’s so close to family and is in such a good school district (The year I graduated from High School they were name the #4 public school in the whole country) but both of us feel so pulled towards the farm life and living in the country. Deep down I think that’s where we would be happiest and I often wonder if we should step out on that limb and just go for it. I guess only time will tell, but if I want my dream of having a miniature donkey to come true we’re going to have to move to at least a bigger piece of land where we are. Goodness knows my life wouldn’t be complete without a miniature donkey in it, plus, my husband looks great on a tractor 😉DSC_7277

Chores Your Toddler Can Help Out On

This post was sponsored by P&G as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central. I received complimentary products to facilitate my review. PandG (6)pin

I’m sure I’m probably late to the game, but lately I’ve been getting Sawyer and Rhett more involved in doing chores. We’ve always had them help with cleaning up toys and cleaning up after themselves, but we’ve been trying to teach them that if we are working on something, they should be right there along with us helping. We don’t want them just to play or watch while others get everything done, plus having kids help out around the house gives them a really good sense of responsibility and it gets them excited about it while they are still young and impressionable haha

Sometimes it’s definitely easier and faster to do things myself, but it really is worth it to have them help out. I know someday I’ll have three little boys who can do all the cleaning while I sit back and do a crossword 😉 Here are some of the chores that they help with regularly:

Dishes- Their favorite chore is probably helping load the dishwasher. I haven’t gone far enough to letting them load the actual dishes, but I do let them put in cups and plastic plates. We use Cascade Complete Action Pacs so I don’t have to have them pre-rinse them. Once the dishwasher is full, I let whoever helped me put in the Cascade tab and press the button to start the dishwasher. (Note- I always keep these on a high shelf though; they look like candy so are dangerous for leaving out where children can get them). PandG (1)

Laundry- I let the boys get all the clothes out of the dryer and put them in a hamper and once they are folded, Sawyer takes each pile that goes in his dresser to the right drawer and then we hang up his clothes together. If there are dirty clothes are the floor in his room, he has to help tidy up by putting them in his hamper. When I was a kid, we had really small laundry hampers so we could carry them down the stairs by ourself and bring the clean laundry back up, but Sawyer’s hamper is a little big so we haven’t started that yet.

Windows- My favorite chore as a kid was doing the windows. My Mom always made a list of all the chores that had to be done, and we each took turns picking one and then went around again until the list was all taken. I always went for the windows on the first round. Now, my boys will follow me through the house, I spray the window cleaner and then they clean the windows with paper towels. Sometimes they aren’t the best about using one or two, so I buy Bounty Advanced in bulk at Costco so we don’t run out. Bounty Advanced is strong and durable so it holds up to anything my boys can put it up against. PandG (5)PandG (11)DSC_7073

P.S.- I got this vintage paper towel holder at a yard sale right after we got married, I love it!

Sweeping- Last year I bought Sawyer a little kid-size hand broom set and he loves going through the kitchen and dining room sweeping. I’m not sure if he is actually sweeping or just moving around dirt, but it keeps him busy for awhile and he’ll get it someday.

Cleaning Scuffs- A new thing I’ve been letting them do is clean the walls with Magic Erasers. It’s a great chore they can do without needing any real supervision. I just get it a little wet and tell them to go around the house on a hunt for scuffs or dirt on the walls and door trim. They are safe on most surfaces and the boys love running around the house “hunting” for them. Sawyer thinks it’s fun and Rhett does anything Sawyer does, so it’s perfect! I know scuffs are one of those not-so-important chores, but it’s the details that matter! The boxes of Magic Erasers that they sell at Costco have both the wall kind and the tub/tile kind so they can even help out in the bathroom and the size is perfect for their little hands. PandG (4)PandG (3)

Wiping down the wood surfaces- When I need something just to keep them busy, I’ll give each boy a wet sponge and ask them to go wipe down the kitchen table, chairs, and stools. If they get bored, I give them a bowl of soapy water to redip their sponge in and it keeps them busy for quite awhile, and gets the table clean! I have noticed though that unless I’m also cleaning something, they will stop working. My cross-word plan isn’t quite complete yet!

I’m sure I’m probably forgetting some, and maybe I’ll make a list of the outdoor little jobs they help with too, but those are the chores that they regularly help with, and I love having them follow behind me helping. You can get all of the products I mentioned at Costco, and in bulk sizes so you never run out! 20160607_120732DSC_7048
Oh and while you’re there, don’t forget to grab the Charmin, for cleaning up after you know what! It’s got the widest paper so you don’t need to use a ton!PandG (15)

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Summer Swimming

This post was sponsored by SwimWays as part of an Ambassador Program for Influence Central. I received products to facilitate my review.

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We’ve been going to the lake and the pool almost everyday lately, so I thought I’d update my post about teaching the boys to swim.

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Ford is loving the pool! Not only does he loves to float around in his SwimWays Baby Spring Float, but we play Ring Around the Rosie and go under and he loves it! He’ll even let us glide him under the water to each other. I love having his float with us because he can play in it and it’s really secure where even my wiggly boy doesn’t even come close to falling out of it. When it’s time for us to leave the pool, he always leans over my shoulder and tries to reach back for the pool. I love having kids who love the water so much!Swimways (2)Swimways (6)

Rhett can swim independently in his life jacket and isn’t afraid of the water at all. He does like swimming without his life jacket but he hasn’t quite gotten the hang of kicking his legs yet, although he is more than happy to jump in to you and sink. He does do “supermans” from the stairs to me and likes to try to swim. His wild-child personality basically translates itself in the pool to him not listening to anything I say and proceeding to jump in constantly. We definitely need to get this one swimming well, or at least good enough to get to the side by himself since he gets so crazy in the pool! Last time we went swimming, I was throwing him in as high as I could go and he loved it!

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Sawyer has been AWESOME this year in the water. I always say that I wish our kids could just stay little and not grow up, but seeing him learn to swim and have so much fun with bigger kid things gives me hope that I won’t melt into tears everyday as these boys grow up. He got the hang of swimming really quickly, and even though he’s still having trouble treading water and getting his head up to take breaths, he can easily jump off the diving board and swim to me about six feet away with no problem and swim around the shallow end. I don’t even bring a life jacket for him at the pool anymore although if it was a public pool I might take one, just because there are so many kids around and I don’t want to risk something happening. Nothing is better than parental supervision, but thank goodness for floats being able to help when we need it, plus he loves being able to go anywhere and do anything. At the lake he does wear his life jacket all the time since it’s much deeper and we’re on the boat most of the time. At the pool, we’ve been working on flipping over and floating when he gets tired and on trying to get that head up so he can swim farther distances. I want to make sure that my kids can swim not only because it’s fun, but also because it’s so important to equip them with those safety skills.Swimways (4)

We’ve been going to the pool as much as possible lately, especially in this high 90’s weather, and we try to get to the lake as much as possible too! We’ve been taking our Swim Ways Baby Spring Float back and forth with us but my friend whose pool we swim at bought one too, so now we’ve got one each place to use! The next time we head down to Florida, we’ll take it with us too. It flattens down flat into this really easy to take with little pack that doesn’t really take up any space, so it’s really convenient for having at the hotel pool! Even the canopy packs up flat into the little carrier, and thank goodness for the canopy because Ford is by far our palest child, and so I worry that he’s going to get sun burned easily. Knock on wood, but not one of our kids have gotten a sunburn yet, and with the amount of time we spend in the outside (basically, everyday, as much as possible), it’s not always easy to keep them sunscreened and get them in the shade sometimes, so having a shade on his float was so important to me!
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You can buy your own SwimWays Baby Spring Float at Toys “R” Us online or in-stores.

Making Moments Count

Having pictures has always been something that’s important to me. As I was watching “Bringing Up Bates” the other day, I saw Erin and Chad taking a cute little family picture in the snow and got to thinking about how we keep our memories. I have a lot of memories from when I was a child. Some that I know I remember and some that I think I remember simply because I’ve seen the pictures so many times and heard the stories or seen the home videos. I loved watching home videos as a kid. 2016-06-03 08.42.20 12016-05-31 09.44.38 1

So here’s my beef- I’m tired of people complaining about other’s selfies. I love selfies. If you look at my blog, instagram, or facebook, you’ll see that I don’t even have that many posted, but I do take them, because for most of us, if we don’t take it, who will? I know some bloggers seem to have an invisible professional photographer who follows them around and catches all these cute moments of them of their kids but most of us don’t have that luxury. For some of us, if we don’t take the selfie, then there won’t be pictures of us with our kids, or pictures of us having fun in our 20’s or whatever it is. I know looking back at photos from years gone by that there isn’t a single one that I wish hadn’t been taken ( I mean, sure, sometimes I wish it had been taken from a better angle or that the camera made you lose twenty pounds haha) but I’m so glad they’re there. The point is, we have to capture those moments that count. Even the little moments become so special when we can look back on them.

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When Sawyer was a baby, he had colic for 9 months. Being a photographer, I couldn’t wait to take pictures of my adorable little baby and then I ended up hardly taking any because he was just always crying. The few that I took I thought I looked so bad in at the time and now, four years later, I cherish those pictures, even though most of them are just grainy cell phone pics, because they are the only ones I have and they captured my little guys cute babyhood as best I could.

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Little moments- a Mommy/Son date, trips to Home Depot, the casual backyard playing, those end up being my favorite pictures years down the road because they really capture the essence of who our family is. Watching “Bringing Up Bates” I see so moments that they did such a great job of making special and capturing like shopping for Michaella’s wedding dress, working with their Dad, or their cute family playing in the snow.

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You’ll never capture those moments forever if you don’t break out the cell phone. Here’s one I took the other day of Ford sleeping on me, and now it’s one of my favorite pictures. Sleeping baby

To see the next “Bringing Up Bates” family moments captured, tune in to UPtv Thursday night at 8 p.m. ET for the newest episode. I’ll be watching along as they make more family memories!

This post is brought to you by UP, but thoughts and opinions are my own.

Father’s Day

Alright, I keep trying to hold off on sharing what we got B for Father’s Day, but I’m so excited to share what the boys and I made him.

My husband gives up so much so that he can serve our country. I know how much it means to him if he’s willing to sacrifice time with our boys. They are his whole world. For Father’s Day, I wanted to give him something  personal that he can take with him when he is away from us. When he’s gone he doesn’t always have a phone or computer so I wanted to make something special for him that he can take with him. One day I borrowed his Army uniform from his closet and took the boys out to snap some adorable pictures of them in his uniform. I had been wanting to get some professional pictures of them in his uniform but I knew I could do it myself if I prepared enough. I tried to get a good one of each boy and of all three together. It isn’t perfect but it’s them!

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You can’t tell me that’s not the cutest thing you’ve ever seen!

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B is the best Dad. He’s so involved and I know he misses me when he’s gone, but I think he misses those boys even more. They grow and change so fast. I went to Snapfish and looked for something he can easily pack and take with him when he’s away so he can always have these pictures and his boys with him. I decided to make him a blanket with their pictures on it.onefixed

Snapfish had all kinds of Embellishments templates and phrases that it made it really easy to make something really cute. When it came, I was so impressed with how well made it was and it’s big! I wanted to make sure to get something that he could sleep under when he’s staying in the barracks and even though this is their smallest size, it’s plenty big enough for a grown man (at least I think it is haha). I also wanted to get him something he can put up in his room or hotel when he’s gone for a long time. I took one of my favorite pictures of the boys with their Dad and ordered it on an aluminum print. I figured that’d be strong enough to withstand plane trips and thrown bags. I added a poem on top letting him know we’ll be with him anywhere he is, no matter what, we’re always supporting him.DSC_7808

Since B and I are the worst at surprising each other, I wrapped it right away so he wouldn’t find it. The boys helped me find it and then I let them decorate the outside. I taped off the word “Dad” and let them go to town coloring it. Make sure if you do this, that you use washi tape so it will peel off easily in the end!DSC_7834DSC_7850

Once they were done going to town, I peeled off the tape and wa-la! Personalized wrapping paper made by the boys themselves. DSC_7855

Personalized gifts are a great way to reward the Dads in your life for the amazing things they do. Dads today are fun and deserve gifts are inspirational as they are! Check out Snapfish’s whole collection here, and you can enter below to win one of 35 $50 gift cards to their website so you can make the perfect gift or something special to keep for yourself!

 

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I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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