Thursday, May 31, 2012

Graduation Certificate

I can't believe that Ava finished another year of preschool.  Only one more year and then she'll be in Kindergarten!  I took the above picture of her on the morning of her last day of school.  When she got home from school, I surprised her with a little graduation ceremony and this Graduation Certificate:

She loved it!  You can download an Excel copy of this file here to make your own Graduation Certificate.  I found a big ink pad at Hobby Lobby.  They come in lots of colors, including black.  The ink is washable, but it takes a few washes for all the ink to come off.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Baby Gender Reveal!

It's a GIRL!!!

There is a lot of estrogen in my house already and now we're preparing for MORE!

Love my girls!  And they are so lucky to have such a great dad!

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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Barnes & Noble FREE Book Offer For Kids!

Welcome back from the long weekend!  I was checking my email from the weekend and saw this great offer.  Barnes & Noble is offering an incentive for kids to read throughout the summer.   Read any 8 books and get a FREE book from Barnes & Noble!  Here's what you have to do:

1.  Read any 8 book and record them in the Reading Journal.
2.  Bring the completed Reading Journal to your local B&N store.
3.  Choose a FREE BOOK from the selection on the Reading Journal list at the store.

Click here for more info.

Don't you just love free stuff!  Thanks B&N!

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Adventures in Fruit Picking

We have been cherry picking, blueberry picking, apple picking, pumpkin picking and now....STRAWBERRY PICKING at Thies Farm!  It's hard to say which is the most fun, but the girls and I practically had the whole strawberry field to ourselves today which was incredible!  Sidney ran up and down the rows of strawberries while Ava and I scoured the field for the best strawberries.

Can you find Sidney?

 The sun was so bright!

 We couldn't even wait to get home and eat!

Pick Your Own is a great website to find farms in your area.  It's not the prettiest website but it has the information you need.  You can find out the harvest schedule and it also has tips and recipes!  If you want to pick strawberries you should go soon - I'm not sure how much longer they'll be around to pick.

Trip down memory lane....
Cherry Picking with Ava in Traverse City, MI (2009)

Blueberry Picking with Ava in Freeland, MI (2009)

Apple Picking with Ava in Wisconsin (2009)

Pumpkin Picking with Ava and Sidney (not pictured) in Illinois (2010)

Pumpkin picking with Ava and Sidney in Missouri (2011)

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Gazillion Bubbles

I don't know about your kids but my kids love bubbles.  So when we had one of our first nice summer days I brought out our Bubble Bucket.  For some reason, we all had a hard time blowing bubbles from the bubble bucket.  

Sidney was more interested in eating the bubbles. Ew!

It quickly went from no fun to near-tears frustrating.  That's when I broke out the big guns - our Gazillion Bubbles machine. 
 This thing literally puts out a gazillion bubbles.  The girls had so much fun running around and popping bubbles.  Here are some of my favorite pictures.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Dollar Crafts: Bird Houses

We have so many animals visiting our back yard from birds and squirrels to bunnies and deer.  I tried planting some basil in my yard and it didn't even last a day!  Rather than be upset, I decided we'd try to make the yard a nice place for the little critters to play.

I found these bird houses at Joanne's.  The little one (that you can barely see) was just a dollar and I used a 40% off coupon on the big one so I was just over $3.  I bought the Yard and Garden paint at Hobby Lobby on sale as well.

 Sidney mostly wanted to play around in the paint.  Not as much made it on the bird house.

Ava covered her whole bird house from top to bottom.

The girls were pretty proud of their bird houses.

Tim helped Ava hang the bird houses in the back yard where we can see them from the windows.  

I think all of our Dollar Craft projects have been painting projects.  Now I'm on the hunt for a non-painting Dollar Craft project.  Let me know if you have any good ideas!

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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Meatless Monday: Arugula Ricotta Mozzarella Pizza

My family loves pizza so I'm always looking for healthy pizza recipes.   I found this recipe in my Parenting magazine.  Giada De Laurentiis makes this pizza for her daughter, Jade.  Tim and I loved it so much we didn't share any with Ava!  Next time I'll have to remember to make more.


1/2 cup part-skim ricotta
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup shredded smoked mozzarella (I had part skim mozzarella on hand so I used that instead)
1 packed cup (1 ounce) arugula
6 - 6 inch round pita pockets or flat bread
2 plum tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 tablespoon olive oil

1.  Preheat oven to 475°. Line a baking sheet with tin foil.
2.  In food processor, blend ricotta, garlic, salt, and pepper until smooth. Add mozzarella and arugula. Pulse to combine.

3.  Place the pita pockets on the tin foil and drizzle with olive oil.  

4.  Spread ricotta mixture on top, leaving a slight border. Top with tomatoes and drizzle with oil.

5.  Bake 10 - 12 minutes, until the crust is golden and the ricotta mixture starts to brown.

This recipe made exactly 6 small pizzas.  I made 4 the first night and refrigerated the leftover ricotta mixture.  I made the last 2 the next day and it was good, but not as good as the first night.  It didn't have as much flavor the second day.  But I was not complaining!

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Bump Watch

I love to document things.  I have 17+ page Microsoft Word documents for each of my girls that documents all of their milestones and funny things that they do and say.  I have an Excel spreadsheet that tracks every medical appointment for my family.  I have baby books for each of my girls.  I made many Shutterfly photo books documenting my pregnancies and the first years of Ava's and Sidney's lives.  I just started doing Birthday Interviews with the girls.   I don't trust my memory so I love to document all of the important things in my life.  

Another thing I have documented is my pregnancy bump.  Every week starting at week 13, I shower and do my hair and put on make up (a big effort) so that Tim can take a picture of my rapidly growing baby bump.  I can remember when I was pregnant with Ava and I was so excited for my bump to grow.  I wanted it to be HUGE and it didn't seem to happen very quickly.  For example, here is a picture of me at 16 week pregnant with Ava.  I look like I had a big lunch:

 And here is me 16 weeks pregnant with baby #3:

Notice the giant bump that I have now?!?!?!  My mom tries to make me feel better by telling me that "I'm like a balloon that has been blown up twice before.  It's much easier to blow up a third time when it's been stretched out twice before."  The balloon analogy makes me feel better for about 5 minutes, but I can't help but wonder how this balloon will ever shrink back to its normal size!  

Regardless of how I feel about my bump, I am super excited about this tiny baby!  I can just picture my little family of five - me, Tim and our 3 least that's what I'm picturing.  We won't actually find out if the baby is a girl or boy for a couple more weeks.  Ava just told me that the new baby's name is going to be Andrew so maybe she knows something I don't know...One thing I do know is that this baby loves veggie omelettes, caffeinated (gasp!) lattes and Oreos.  You do what ya gotta do, right ladies?

What are some of the memories that you document for your family?

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Cake Batter Cookies

I had my 15 week weigh-in at the OB office.  I don't have a scale at my house so I have no way of knowing how good or, more likely, how bad I did.  I was confident that I had gained AT LEAST 5 pounds.  I sure looks like I did.  Much to my surprise (and partly due to the fact that I had a morning appointment - don't we all weigh less in the morning!) I only gained TWO POUNDS!!!!!  I think that calls for some celebratory treats!

I found this recipe for Cake Batter Cookies on a blog.  They looked so fun that I had to try them.  I was especially happy at how few ingredients these cookies require - I love easy recipes!


1 box vanilla cake mix, 18.25 oz
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup colored sprinkles

1.  Preheat oven to 350°. 

2.  In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix and baking powder.  I used a whisk to do this.

3.  In a small bowl, mix together the eggs, oil and vanilla. 

4.  Add the egg mixture to the cake mixture and stir to combine.  Then stir in the sprinkles. 

5.  Drop by spoonfuls onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet or silpat.

6.  Bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes on cookie sheet before transferring to cooling rack. They will be very soft at first.   Cool and enjoy!

These would be fun for a kids party or a baby shower. You could also use red, white and blue sprinkles and make them for Memorial Day, 4th of July or Labor Day!

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Ellen's Mother's Day Show

I love Ellen.  Love.  Love.  Love.  She does so many good things for women and kids.  Did you watch her Mother's Day show?  She gave away so many amazing gifts - those were some lucky moms in the audience!  Here are some of my favorites.

4moms Origami Stroller
If you have not seen this stroller you have to watch the video.  It opens and closes with the touch of a button!  It's self-charging and you can even charge your cell phone.  The only downside I could see is that there is not a lot of storage space in the basket.  I think I could look past that ;)

4moms mamaRoo
I wish they made this in adult size.

These sunglasses offer 100% protection from UVA and UVB rays.

Tiny Toms
These shoes are so comfy and cute AND with every pair purchased, TOMS will give a pair of new shoes to a child in need.  One for One.

iRobot Scooba
The Scooba will wash your floors for you without putting dirty water back on your floors.  It can be used on hard floor surfaces, including tile, linoleum, vinyl, marble, slate, stone and sealed hardwood.  I hate to clean.  I need one.

What are your favorite, must-have baby products?  I'm curious now that I'm in the market again!

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