Today was the first day both girls went to gymnastics! We had a blast- Izzy is a natural and loves the whole thing and Ellie is a perfectionist and gets frustrated when she cant do everything perfectly! Izzy still has to do "mommy and me" class, so I get to do gymnastics too...while fully pregnant! Such a fun day- every stage of motherhood is so much fun- but to see them in classes learning new things and seeing how their personalities unfold in different situations is a blast! Every time we do something new or are put in a new situation, I see new "teachable moments" and learn how the Lord wants me to help shape their hearts to be more like His. It is in these situations when I can start teaching them humility, patience, love for others, grace and confidence in the person God has made them to be. I feel so passionately that we have to invest in every moment at this age, moms! We are only given 5 years where we are the primary influence in our children's life (unless you homeschool) until we hand them over to school for 40+ hours a week and trust them to teach our children the core issues of the heart. It is a serious job, not for the weak, to pour into our kids and give them a firm foundation for life at this very young age! I dont want to miss a single opportunity- not even in gymnastics class- to do just that- build the foundation! Here are some gymnastics pics- have a great rest of the week! 


In Honor of the VP!

So, in honor of Vice President Cheney's book coming out today, here is our Christmas pic from 2003 with the Cheney's! Dave and I are pumped to read his book- every time I encountered him during my time in DC I was a big fan. (I was fortunate to do a few Make-A-Wish visits with him and he was so great!) Very few people have his institutional knowledge or experience- Love him or hate him, the book is bound to be a good read, definitely no B.S.! Here is a link to his new book.


Back to School!

In the spirit of back-to-school I wanted to re-post this article I did from my aunt, who is a preschool director and a wealth of knowledge. Enjoy!

Words of Advice from a Preschool Director

Today is a guest blog from my Aunt, she has worked with preschoolers her whole life (my grandmother owned a preschool which she eventually took over and is currently the Director for an awesome preschool in Wichita, KS). She always has the best advice so I wanted to share her with you! I am working on a back-to-school Q&A with her as well! Thanks Aunt C! 

Early childhood education is more important today than ever before. The days of preschool being about playing with your friends, graham crackers and milk, listening to a story and rest time on your rug have rapidly evolved into  a time of developing skills such as writing, math, pre-reading, language, and self-help.  There is so much to teach these little ones to prepare them for their future academics, but also for their social and emotional futures as well.
In order to make a child’s preschool experience the best, it is important for the parents and preschool staff to have great communication. Get to know your child’s teacher. Attend orientation sessions and Parent / Teacher conferences. If you have any questions or problems, go to them, not your neighbor.
The most important advice I can give is to enjoy your child’s preschool years.  Share their excitement of learning with them. Listen to them sing that song they just learned for the fourteenth time.  Talk with them about seeing a caterpillar turning into a cocoon. The most informative time with you preschooler is on the way to school and when you pick them up.  They have so many things to share with you and need your undivided attention.  So put down that phone, turn off your Blackberry, don’t start the DVD player and have a great conversation about their world away from you and what they are excited about!
The Top 5 Frequently Asked Questions:  (Oh there are so many more!!!!!)
  1. My child is three years old and will start preschool in the fall.  What do I need to do to prepare my child for school? It is so important that your child has the developmental skills need to start their education. Make sure your child has had opportunities to be away from you and developed an independence of their own. They must be potty trained and be able to handle their own personal needs. Read to them. Develop listening skills by giving one simple instruction to follow without repeating it. Make sure they know their full name and parents’ name.
  2. I know my child will cry when I leave.  Can I stay with him in class for the first week? No. Your child may kick and scream when you try to leave, but please do not linger.  Let the teacher handle the situation. Your child needs to have the assurance that you will come back so establish that before you get to school. Tell them goodbye and that you will be back when they are finished with school. 99.9% of the time the crying is over and they are busy with an activity before you have left the parking lot.
  3. My child’s preschool has so many rules and policies. What if I do not want to follow them?  As with every organization rules and policies are developed to protect you and your child while they are at school.  There are reasons for each policy and procedure and when they are not followed it can breach the safety and learning environment for everyone involved.  If you are not comfortable with the rules, speak with the Director or Teacher to understand why they are in place.  If you still have a problem, it is better to find another school with different policies that you can follow.
  4. If my child is sick, how do I know when to keep them home and when they can go back? Check your child every day before they come to school.  Are they complaining about not feeling well or did not eat their normal breakfast? Did they not sleep well or are acting fussy about normal activities?  Then they might be coming down with something.  If they are running a fever (of any kind), vomiting, coughing, runny noses (especially the green, yucky stuff), have a rash, sore throat, or watery eyes, they need to stay at home. You need to check on your school’s policy for returning to class. Most policies state that they must be free of symptoms for 24 hours before returning.
  5. What is the best thing I can do to help my child and their teacher during the school year. READ ALL COMMUNICATIONS THAT COME HOME!  The teacher will send you information by notes and /or newsletters.  Please take the time to read them.  Check your child’s school bag every day to see if there are notes or messages for you.  One of the saddest thing for a teacher is to see a child disappointed because the parents did not read the note that went home and the child came without or unprepared for that day’s activities. Ex: The teacher sent out three notes about pajama day and what the child was to bring.  Unfortunately, Mom did not read the notes carefully and the child wore his pajamas on the wrong day and was very upset.


The Potty Update!

Well, we are on day 4 of the potty training process (We used THIS "method")- Day 1 was exciting, she was excited about the new "activity", day 2 was a nightmare- peeing everywhere, Day 3 was great- only 1 accident but no pooping. So we are hoping that it will get easier every day and we can move forward. The plan says "3 days" which is probably true for them to get the idea and I have heard works when the child is really ready, but lets face it- it is an ongoing process! As I said before- I believe it is the absolute worst process- I have about thrown in the towel 100 times. After doing this twice, if I had to give advice to another mom who is going to potty train for the 1st time, this is what I would say:
1) if possible, wait until they are really ready- Ellie was ready and a LOT easier. I think 3 is the perfect age, just my personal opinion- however when kids are ready earlier that is awesome. It just seems like those who wait until 3 have an easier time. Probably because the child watches their siblings, friends or cousins without diapers and want to be "big" like them. (That being said, I always "love" my friends who have 2 year olds that potty train themselves and never look back- so happy for you!!! :)
2) be patient and stick it out once you start- at some point you are going to have to go through the "pain"
3) the 3 Day potty training method says- no diapers or pull ups ever again- throw them away. I am not that brave- I use pull-ups for naps, bed time and long outings (or outings where the potty isnt convenient- i.e. the park) I just put panties on and then the pull up over it- so they can still feel the yucky wet feeling. When I put them on before bed I call them "nighttime panties" avoiding the word diaper at all costs. And I never lay her down as if changing a diaper, I pull them on like panties. Once they wake up dry, I stop using them immediately.
4) set your child up for success, stop serving drinks (other than sips of water) after 7pm. I actually try to stop drinks after dinner- other than sips of water. They feel better when they are successful at staying dry, so set them up for success.
5) if you are planning on potty training, have someone else with you if at all possible. Your husband, mom, friend, sister- anyone who can give you support during the process. It helps when you think you might give up to be reassured, someone else "praising" is great- it is just better with support!
6) keep an emergency kit with you when you go out in the beginning- extra clothing and panties, towels, water bottles, wipes, trash bags or grocery bags. I actually just keep this in my car at all time, it all comes in handy at any given time.
7) I have purchased the fancy potty gear both times, my girls are both most successful on the actual potty, just as is. No pretty seat cover, they like the singing potty to play with, but not actually go on. In fact, Izz went on the "singing chair" once and it startled her so we turned off the singing. Those are mainly great for outings- peace of mind.
8) If you must leave the house, I keep a little potty seat in the back of my car- you never know when there is an emergency- and if you go in a restaurant, put a piece of toilet paper over the sensor on automatic toilets- it never fails that thing will flush mid "potty" and scare the "peepee" out of the child.
9) Finally, find a plan you like and stick to it. They are bound to catch on if you are consistent!

Ok- I am done with the "potty talk". I am SO glad I only have to do this one more time!


The Time Has Come!

Today is Day 1 of what I consider to be the worst toddler training activity there is...Potty Training! I like the 3 Day potty training method http://www.3daypottytraining.com, it is hard core but as with any other "training activity" I feel like the more consistent and determined you are at the start the more lax you can be later! Izzy shows NO signs of readiness, but this method says the only sign she needs is the ability to communicate (not necessarily with words)- we have no problems there! I really want to get this done before school starts and before baby Milly comes in December- so this is the best time for us- otherwise I would put it off forever. Of course, we have been planning this for weeks and it never works out how you want it to. Both girls have been sick and are on the tail end of sinus infections, Dave fell at the lake and fractured some ribs, so he cant move or help much, I woke up feeling like I am getting sick- but what better time to be locked in the house running to the potty! We started the day by setting up the potty in the bathroom, getting the "special treats" displayed by the potty, Izzy went to her room and took off her diaper and threw it away, picked out a new pair of panties and we have been shoving liquid down her ever since. I just need to say that, I love diapers- unlike my potty-trained daughter, she doesn't have to go in public restrooms touching everything, she doesn't need to go on airplanes- (usually the minute the fasten seat belt sign is turned on), I dont have to monitor fluid intake after 7pm, she sleeps 12 hours a night (my other daughter did this before she needed to wake up early to potty) and so on. For those of you who haven't potty trained before, let me just say- it isn't pretty and it isn't necessarily easier with the 2nd child! You are virtually following your child around asking them "are your panties dry" and cleaning up "accidents" all day! And let me not forget...laundry, laundry, laundry!! So this is day 1- we are 2 hours in and we have gone through 3 pairs of panties and no successful potty trips...yet. But I have faith that we will make it happen...by Wednesday! I will keep you posted on our progress- as I am sure you are dying to know! :) Prayers are welcome, I believe the Lord even cares about our potty training (and a mother's sanity)! So here's to pretty panties and saving money on diapers- at least for 3 months! 


No Bake Cookies!

The girls and I did some cooking yesterday and I wanted to share one of our favorite (super simple) cookie recipes with you- I am sure most everyone has a no-bake cookie recipe and might have this one, but just in case, here it is! This is a good one for you gluten-free eaters!

On the stove top:
1/2 cup Margarine (put this in 1st and melt all the way)
1/2 cup milk
2 cups sugar (I only put 1/2 cup in and it is plenty sweet)
1/3 cup cocoa
*Stir and Boil for 1 minute
*Take off heat and add 1/2 cup Peanut Butter (I add 3/4 cup NATURAL peanut butter), 3 cups oatmeal, 1t vanilla. Stir together and spoon balls on cookie sheet, refrigerate until cool and solid.

There you go!



A friend of mine sent me a message and asked me to do a post on all of my favorite things at Trader Joes, so it is with great pleasure that I write this! I love when people ask me for my opinion (!!!) so feel free to let me know if you ever want me to research anything!

For most of you west-coasters, this will not be that exciting. For my Kansas City people- lets rejoice together that Trader Joe's has finally come to our city! When we moved to KC 3 years ago there was a major void in my heart...one that only the TJ could fill! I would go to Scottsdale 2 or 3 times a year and come back with my suitcase stuffed with my TJ essentials..and I do mean essentials! So, here is my list of favorite items- I love almost everything there so you cant go wrong with their return policy- if you try it and don't like it...take it back!

1. TJ's A Midsummer Night's Cream Moisturizing Cream- Extra Dry Formula, Unscented (body lotion)- best lotion ever!
2. TJ's Vitamin E Oil- as previously mentioned I squirt a dot of this in my hand with a squirt of lotion- rub it together and apply
3. JoJoba Oil- any brand they have- if am having a dry skin day I put this on (read my thoughts here)
4. Make-Up Remover Towelettes with Oats (Comodynes Convenient Cosmetics)- these are great to travel with- I prefer Lancome eye make-up remover for home- (nothing better), but for travel these are great!
5. TJ's Enrich Moisturizing Face Lotion (SPF 15)- this is great as a back up and my husband loves it because it is light and fragrance free- and inexpensive!

1. Natural Peanut Butter- this is one of the few places I can find a jar of unsalted crunchy peanut butter. I think it is REALLY important to get natural peanut butter, they add so much salt and sugar to the other stuff. They also have sunflower butter (good for school lunches where PB isn't allowed)
2. Dips: Olive Tapenade, Torta (the one in KC just has gorgonzola torta, but they assure me the Sun-dried Tomato Pesto one is coming- that one is my fav), hummus (all are good, original awesome), edamame hummus
3. Sparkling Lemonade and Pink Lemonade- beautiful bottles and fun for parties
4. TJ's Greek Yogurt- my kids love the blueberry, honey and pomegranate- they have great yogurt and Kefir
5. Nuts- all are great, I love that they offer unsalted nuts
6. No-Salt Peanut Butter Pretzels- all of their chips and crackers are good
7. Dont even get me started on all of the chocolate yummies they have stashed around the store above the frozen food- Chocolate Cherries, Chocolate Espresso Beans, cookies...you name it- all good!
8. Frozen Pizzas- all good
9. Whole Grain Pita Bite crackers: I like to set these out on a tray and serve them with different dips on them- I will put hummus or tzatziki and cucumber on some, bruschetta on some (I recently added bacon with the bruschetta to make a BLT style cracker), brie cheese & green apple on some, torta, tapenade- you get the idea.
10. Brie Cheese Log- this is really easy to cut up and add a slice of green apple with crackers- maybe drizzle honey- whatever you want- super easy and yummy!
11. Probiotic Yogurt smoothies (they come in a case of 4)
12. Carrot/Apple Crushers, Apple/Banana Crushers, Apple Crushers- Izzy loves these!
13. Dried Fruit Strips- all are good, the organic ones (apple/strawberry, wildberry, etc..) just have 1 strip the larger strips have two- awesome for purse stashing- I pull these out at all times in a pinch- instead of snacks they get 100% fruit.
14. All of the frozen fish and appetizers are great- really all of the frozen food is great! The frozen Blueberry scones are AMAZING. I also love the frozen steel cut oatmeal- you just pop the frozen oatmeal in the micro and it is great!
15. Baked goods- their raisin bread is great. They have the BEST zucchini bread in Scottsdale but don't have it in KC yet.

I could go on and on- if you have any favorites, feel free to comment below this and share! Our KS location doesn't have wine, but the one in KC, MO does and it is worth it to check it out.
Happy Shopping!

NEW Additions:
1. Cranberry Walnut Braid- (bread section) I am not the biggies cranberry or walnut person- but this is the best bread ever! Perfect for a party or just to have for yourself, although if you get it for yourself prepare for the jeans to be a bit snug because you will eat it all!
2. Bruschetta in the jar- Trader Jo's brand- it is the most delicious Bruschetta I have had!
3. Chopped Veggies- next to the veggies in the refrigerated section- they have a little bowl of every veggie possible all chopped up- it is amazing for salad's, soups, pasta, pizza...you name it- so quick and easy when you don't have time for a ton of chopping.
4. Frozen Mini Tacos- I like the chicken best and the frozen veggie quesadillas- easy in the microwave!

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