Saturday, March 31, 2012

a few changes for april and swapping buttons

As you can see, things look a little bit different around here. As you get to know me better, you will discover I am never content to "leave well enough alone" for very long. I thrive on changing it up so thank you for bearing with me!

With the blog's new look, I'd also like to invite all my fellow bloggers to consider swapping buttons/ad space with me. For now, all spots on my blog will be free as I just want to get to know you all better and grow my little blog. I've added a "sponsor" tab at the top right hand corner of the blog (it's also below). If you're interested in swapping buttons or putting your button on my blog, please check it out and let me know what you'd like to do. Right now there are 6 medium spots open and as many button swaps as I can get. :)

Also, remember that with the medium spot, you get a shared feature post! So, please send me your information if you're interested!

Cannot wait to get to know you better! :)








Friday, March 30, 2012

highlights: my kids make me smile

even when we've had rough days or weeks like this one, with sickies and grumpy spirits, at the end of the day, my kiddos always make me smile. I'll confess, there are times when its so crazy and the older two are arguing and Lucas is crying, that running away sounds mighty tempting! But, even in those moments, I cannot imagine life without my  crazy kids. And they are crazy! I'm just so incredibly thankful for their lives and how they are shaping and molding mine as I try so hard to do that to theirs.

My kids have spunk. They have attitude and have the most contagious laughter. I love them. Even in the ugly moments when I cannot believe I'm witnessing the behavior coming out of their little bodies, I'm so crazy about them. Without fail, if I'm having a bad day or feeling lonely, when I think about them, immediately I have a smile on my face. I think they are pretty incredible (even when they decide to pee on the rug in their room right after taking a bath!!)

They are mine (mine and hubby's of course) and I'm so thankful that God lent them to us for this time. My life is richer and fuller because they are in it.

And when the house is quiet and I'm by myself, these three pictures, stuck in my head, bring a huge smile to my face.

My silly silly girl. I love it when you wrinkle up your nose like that. We'd just had a really rough moment right before this, but we both were laughing by the time I took this picture. I love you sweetie! I love your spirit and independence, even though they are both culprits when we butt heads. You're such a strong little lady with such a sweet heart. I'm so incredibly thankful for your life! You're my best girl!

oh my Nico Rico...you are irresistible! Even when I need to be stern with you, my heart is inwardly melting. Your eyes hold such spark and mischief and you always have something hilarious to share. Yesterday, you were silly and invited mami to be silly with you. Thank you buddy for putting a smile on my face! I'm so grateful that you keep life exciting and always have a hug for me when you know I need one! As we often say to each other "You're the best Nico in the whole wide world!"


And my Little Lucas. I'm having so much fun getting to know you as more and more each day, we learn more about who you are. You are pure silly too! You love to make silly noises and wait in eager expectation for us to turn, look at you and smile or giggle with you. You are starting to imitate sounds we make and that is just pure adorable! You have such a curiosity for the world around you and want to be right in the mix of playtime with your brother and sister. Your whole face lights up when one of the people you love comes into view and being with you brings such a peace to my heart, especially on hectic, crazy days. I couldn't imagine life without you and your sweet little hugs.

My heart is full of gratitude. More and more these days, as I am constantly reminded of how fleeting life is and how quickly it passes us by, I want to take these little moments and store them up in my heart. 

I hope I never take them for granted. 


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Thursday, March 29, 2012

breast milk is amazing!

I'm constantly amazed at the way God created this world and put everything in it that we need! I'm also amazed in the same way how he did that for our bodies as well. 


I'm blown away when I stop and think about all the things the breast milk does besides nourish a growing baby! I was reminded of how grateful I am for breast milk again this week. I noticed early Monday that Lucas just didn't seem to have the appetite he normally does and by late afternoon, I could see why. He felt hot and when I checked his temp, he had a fever. He's had a fever since, on and off, higher then lower, but he most definitely hasn't been himself, hasn't wanted to eat, has slept a lot longer than normal and overall has just not felt well this week. 


The one thing that hasn't changed is the fact that he happily nursed. And since he really wasn't getting any other nourishment or liquids, I was so thankful that he had no problem nursing and getting what he needed from that. 


Makes me so thankful that God created everything that we need to provide for our babies. 
Did you know that breast milk contains strong antibodies and antitoxins?


did you know that breast milk will also
*get rid of pink eye
*clear up a stuffy nose
*help with earaches
*sooth insect bites and stings




“If a multinational company developed a product that was a nutritionally balanced and delicious food, a wonder drug that both prevented and treated disease, cost almost nothing to produce and could be delivered in quantities controlled by the consumers’ needs, the very announcement of their find would send their shares rocketing to the top of the stock market. The scientists who developed the product would win prizes and the wealth and influence of everyone involved would increase dramatically. Women have been producing such a miraculous substance, breastmilk, since the beginning of human existence…”

– Gabrielle Palmer, in The Politics of Breastfeeding, London: Pandora Press, 1988, page 1. 
“Breastfeeding is a natural “safety net” against the worst effects of poverty. If the child survives the first month of life (the most dangerous period of childhood) then for the next four months or so, exclusive breastfeeding goes a long way toward canceling out the health difference between being born into poverty and being born into affluence …. It is almost as if breastfeeding takes the infant out of poverty for those first few months in order to give the child a fairer start in life and compensate for the injustice of the world into which it was born.”
–James P. Grant, former Executive Director, UNICEF 
with my first two kiddos, I wanted to breastfeed until at least a year. I nursed Sophia for 8 months and then pumped for another 3. Nico weaned at 13 months. Now that I'm home full time, I honestly see Lucas wanting to nurse for much longer, which to my surprise, I'm totally fine with. I never thought I'd be one of those moms that breastfed way past 12 months, but I'm finding that I'm ok with it and will continue to be thankful for the amazing benefits breast milk provides! 
Are you a breastfeeding mama? If so, what's your favorite part? What's the part you find most difficult?
If you are struggling with breastfeeding, I would recommend checking out kellymom.com


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

"Loving the Little Years" Book Review

As a mother of three little ones, there are times when I feel overwhelmed by the very task of my day-to-day chores, let alone, teaching, training and playing with my children. About 2 weeks ago, I was feeling particularly down. I was frustrated, discouraged and just near tears almost every time I stopped to think about life. I really did not like myself or my outlook on life and I especially didn't like my short temper with my kiddos.
Thankfully on one particularly tough evening, I was catching up on some of the blogs I follow and Keeper of the Home mentioned on Facebook that she was so thankful for this book called, "Loving the Little Years" I looked it up on amazon, saw that I could buy it on Kindle and didn't hesitate.



When I read this:
"I didn't write this book because mothering little ones is easy for me. I wrote it because it isn't. I know that this is a hard job, because I am right here in the middle of it. I know you need encouragement because I do too." 

I knew it was something I needed to buy and read, quickly! 

This book has been so incredibly encouraging to me. Rachel Jankovic did a wonderful job writing this book! With 5 children, I was confident she too had experienced that "overwhelmed" feeling.

And just pages into the book, I knew it was going to change the way I mother, forever.
I think my favorite phrase in this book is this:

"It is no abstract thing—the state of your heart is the state of your home. You cannot harbor resentment secretly toward your children and expect their hearts to be submissive and tender. You cannot be greedy with your time and expect them to share their toys. And perhaps most importantly, you cannot resist your opportunities to be corrected by God and expect them to receive correction from you."


Jankovic, Rachel; Wilson, Nancy (2010-11-23). Loving the Little Years (Kindle Locations 58-61). Canon Press. Kindle Edition.

This book is extremely easy to read and I finished it quickly! It was definitely food for my soul and encouragement for my heart as I had been laboring without joy.  

We've already implemented some of her suggestions, including comparing a girl's feelings to a beautiful spirited horse and the girl to the rider. We need to learn how to equip the rider of the horse so that they can handle their emotions. Sophia has really resonated with that and we've had an easier time dealing with all those feelings little and big girls deal with :) 

I'm so incredibly grateful for this book! I'm so thankful that God directed me to find this book. I know I'll be reading it more than once! And I would encourage you to grab a copy for yourself if  you're feeling defeated in the trenches or just need a bit of encouragement along the way! 



Tuesday, March 27, 2012

recipe of the week: real macaroni and cheese

This is definitely not something Lucas and I can eat, but it's the real deal!
My Sophia-Girl loves loves loves macaroni and cheese and would eat it almost every day if she could! :)
A couple of years ago, I vowed to never  buy boxed mac n cheese again. The ingredient list on that box frightens me and I no longer wanted my kiddos to have it, even if it was organic. So I came up with my own recipe, and I have to say, it's pretty tasty and the kiddos love it! :)


What you'll need:


1 bag (16 oz) organic whole wheat pasta
grass fed beef hot dogs (optional)
3 tablespoons butter (grass fed is ideal)
1 to 1 1/2  tablespoon white whole wheat flour (depending on desired thickness)
1-2 cup to 3/4 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup white cheddar cheese

Once your pasta is ready and drained, melt butter is sauce pan and add flour. Once that is mixed, slowly pour in your milk until desired consistency is reached (not too thick and not too runny). Add cheese and hot dogs if using and season as desired. Once cheese is melted, pour over pasta, stir and eat!

I've also put it in a dish, covered with more cheese and baked for 10-15 min until the cheese is melted and browning a bit on the top.

I normally think of "mac n cheese" as a kid's meal, but we all enjoy it when it's made from scratch! :)

Enjoy!



This post has been linked to Fat Tuesday

Monday, March 26, 2012

"Pinning" Easter

Cannot believe Easter is in two weeks! Spring is in the air and I'm loving it!

This week I'm linking up with Courtney & Kimberly for another week of pinning and decided an Easter theme would be great to get me thinking about what I want to do this year with the kiddos.

So here we go:

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

What are you planning for Easter this year?


Saturday, March 24, 2012

highlights: celebrating our 10 year anniversary

Yesterday we celebrated 10 years of marriage.
We had such a fun day. Hubby took the day off and then in the evening we went to the most amazing restaurant! It was way fancier than where we'd normally go and it was so fun!

Here are a few of our memories!


My beautiful flowers!

ready for our date out!
Live music

One of the many beautiful chandeliers 

I had the most amazing salad!

My handsome hubby enjoyed some paella

Our gorgeous view of NYC
view outside of the restaurant


And then...because we were celebrating 10 years and feeling young and carefree, we took some self-portraits. This was by far, my favorite part of the evening! 



Happy Anniversary mi Amor! So thankful for you!! 

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Booty Buns Giveaway Event!!!


I'm so excited to be participating in this giveaway!! Please be sure to click to expand so you can see the Rafflecopter entry form. Good luck! 

Booty Buns Giveaway Event
Welcome to the Go Green ♥ Give Charity Cloth Diaper Giveaway Event sponsored by Booty Buns Cloth Diapers! Over 175 blogs have teamed up to present this amazing cloth diaper giveaway hosted by Daily Mothering.
Here's your chance to win an entire stash of one-size cloth diapers!
 

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(these true one-size cloth diapers fit 3-45 lbs!)
20 matching flannel/terry cloth wipes
40 microfiber inserts
20 cotton flannel liners
Booty Buns Cloth Diaper Giveaway
(picture does not show inserts or liners also included)

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This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada.
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Friday, March 23, 2012

the story of "us" Our Wedding Day!

So we postponed our wedding. Thankfully all parties involved were so accommodating and didn't charge us fees for the change in date. We decided that if he had an appointment in February, the safest thing would be to assume that he'd make it for a March wedding. I was leading a missions trip to Peru the 2nd week of March and we thought it would be easy to have him just come back with me.

Jose arrived in the US on March 11th, 2002, just two weeks before our March 23rd wedding. In hindsight, we were probably crazy to have him only be here 2 weeks before we got married, but at that point, I think we just wanted to be together.

March 23 was a beautiful spring day. I remember waking up with butterflies in my stomach. This was the day! We'd finally made it! It was definitely mixed emotions as not having his family with us was so disappointing. Thankfully some missionary friends from Peru who were also like family to Jose filled in as "family" for the day.



After everything that had happened in the past 7 years, we were so happy to finally be together and united! It was fitting that my dad, who married us, spoke on Philippians 1:6:

"Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus"

10 years ago today I married my best friend and love of my life. I had no way of knowing what our future would hold, and despite the lowest lows and the highest highs, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat! I'm so thankful for this journey we've been on together for the past 17 years and so thankful for the amazing blessings God has given us in the form of three beautiful children. I'm so excited to see what God has in store for us in the coming years. 

I love you Jose Antonio! Happy Anniversary! 



If you missed the beginning of this story, you can check it out here:




Thursday, March 22, 2012

the story of "us" countdown to our 10 year anniversary Part 7

When we said good bye at the end of the summer, 2001 and I headed back to college and the states with my parents, we had every intention of having a wedding in Peru the following year. Jose told me before I left that he felt it very important for him to visit me in the US to get a feel for my life there and understand that side of me. I agreed that it would be a great idea before we got married so we started planning for a Christmas trip. I was so excited about the idea of having him with me for Christmas in the states and hoped for snow and all the other fun things I could show him.

Plans continued that way until September 11th hit. His interview for his visa was 2 weeks later and was denied. That whole month was such a hard month anyway and knowing he wouldn't be with me for Christmas was so devastating. We had no idea how else we could get him to the states and still felt that need to have him experience life here before we tied the knot.

A of couple days later, my parents called me and asked me to listen to what they had to say with an open mind.  Normally when someone says that, I have a hard time keeping an open mind, but surprisingly did really well that day. The went on to tell me that they had been thinking that the best way to get Jose to the US was to apply for a fiance visa and that obviously also meant that we would get married in the US. My heart said no but I promised to keep an open mind about it and talk to Jose. I prayed like crazy before calling him that God would show us if this was what we were supposed to do. I was confused and hoped that talking to Jose would give me some clarity.

I was surprised at how well Jose took the suggestion. Granted neither of us wanted to not have the wedding in Peru as that is home, but some how, we were both open to the idea. We both decided to pray about it separately and talk the next day. When we talked, we agreed that it looked like this was God's next step for us, as hard as it was to imagine not doing it in Peru. When Jose had talked to his mom, without much hesitation she told him to just go. I think that's something we both needed to hear to feel like we could do this.

So, all of a sudden, my wedding planning drastically changed. We had been doing all the planning in Peru and now, needed to figure out something for stateside. We decided to get married in just four short months as I would graduate in December and fiance visas usually took 4 months to process.

We decided on January 26, 2002.

I'm not a naive person, but I fully expected Jose to be there for Christmas and when December passed without Jose hearing anything from the American Embassy, we both really started to get nervous.  At the beginning of December, when we started getting invitations ready to send out, I remember really asking God if I was taking things into my own hands by assuming he would be with me in January to have a wedding. But, I felt such a peace about sending out the invites, so we did.

As the weeks passed and Jose still hadn't heard anything, a few people suggested I contact a lawyer to see what he would suggest I do to find out what stage his visa was at. The lawyer I contacted suggested I call my congressman and senator who can sometimes be helpful in these matters and pull some strings to speed up the process. They were so incredibly helpful and encouraging and even 3 days before our wedding date, I was sure I would still have my January 26th wedding. Then one of the senator's aides called me (while at work) and told me they had finally tracked down my fiance visa petition. With the anthrax scare in the Fall of 2001, the US Embassy in Peru had taken all the mail from the US and sealed it in a room until they could make sure it was safe to open. My petition was in there and there was no way that he would make it to our wedding. He was able to tell me that he should be getting an appointment in February.

With uncontrollable sobs, I just left my office. I didn't tell anyone where I was going, but I had to leave.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

the story of "us" countdown to our 10 year anniversary part 6

I crammed four years of college into three and a half. I was determined to get done as soon as possible so that I could marry my man.
Besides that first full year we were apart, I visited each summer and Christmas which made our time a part much more doable. That first reunion after my freshman year of college was especially sweet. When you haven't seen someone for an entire year, and yet feel like you've continued to grow in love for that person, there's still that terrifying feeling that maybe everything has changed and they won't at all be in the same place or want the same things any more. I remember feeling so nervous before I went back that summer. The anticipation would make my stomach flip in excitement and the nerves would have it in knots! What was most amazing was that we were both in the same place. We'd both grown so much that year apart, but somehow managed to stay just as close and want the same things just as much. It was beautiful and our summer together was so sweet and special. Knowing that we were working towards marriage made everything that much sweeter and there weren't very many days that we let slip by without seeing each other. Hours and hours were shared, talking about what had happened while we were apart and what we both dreamed about and longed for as a couple, pursuing the calling that God had in our lives.


 The next few years were similar. Cramming as much as we could into weeks or months to make up for the rest of the year when we wouldn't see each other. There were ups and downs. Times when being apart were much harder than others, but somehow, by the grace of God (and only that!) we made it through.

The summer between my junior and senior year of college I went to Peru again, but this time, helped my parents pack up as it was time for them to come back to the states for home ministries or what some call furlough. The plan was to go back in another year and at that time, Jose and I would get married and then join my parents in starting a new church and ministry.

This was also the summer that our engagement went from unofficially official to completely official. Jose had actually already given me my ring and we were well into planning, but in Peru, a traditional engagement involves both families coming together for an evening. The man has his parents come with him and with their support and backing, asks the woman's parents for her hand in marriage. It was important to both of us to do just that!

It was a special night of sharing together with his parents. He brought me beautiful red roses and placed his grandmother's ring on my finger. It was a night filled with joy and celebration and once again, we felt God's hand in our lives and upon our hearts.

If you missed the beginning of this story, you can find it all here


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"Pinning" 10 year Anniversary & Vow Renewal

Yay me!! I won last week! :)

You can check out all my pins from last week here

*********************************************************************************

This week, since we celebrate 10 years of wedded bliss on Friday and because this year we really want to renew our vows, I'm pinning beach wedding ideas! Our wedding was pretty formal, but if I could do it all over again, I would definitely choose the beach wedding with way more celebration and a little less formality. That's much more who we are these days!

So here are some things I really love!






1, 2, 3, 4, 5


1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8


If you could do your wedding over again, would it be exactly the same or different?

Linking up with Kimberly and Courtney for "Pinning"

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sneak Peek: $500+ Cloth Diaper Giveaway Starts Saturday!

Booty Buns Cloth Diaper Giveaway
Would you like to win a LIFETIME SUPPLY of cloth diapers?!
The Go Green ♥ Give Charity Cloth Diaper Giveaway Event sponsored by Booty Buns Cloth Diapers starts this Saturday, March 24th! Over 175 blogs are coming together to present this fantastic fluffy giveaway hosted by Daily Mothering. Mark your calendar because you don't want to miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to win an entire stash of one-size cloth diapers!

ONE WINNER will receive a gigantic cloth diaper prize pack valued at $546! And, the winner will get to select their choice of diaper colors!

This amazing prize pack will include:

20 Booty Buns One-Size Cloth Diapers (these true one-size cloth diapers fit 3-45 lbs!) 20 matching flannel/terry cloth wipes 40 microfiber inserts 20 cotton flannel liners
Booty Buns Cloth Diaper Giveaway
(picture does not show inserts or liners also included)
This giveaway will be open to U.S. and Canada.

Come back March 24-31 for your chance to win it all!

 

the story of "us" a countdown to our 10 yr anniversary part 5

Just before we left Peru and I graduated from high school, I got an unsettled feeling in my heart. Kind of an "I'm taking my life more into my own hands than I should, rather than trusting God" feeling. I quickly dismissed it because I rationalized that I hadn't done anything that past year without praying about and feeling like God was blessing it. On the flight to the states, I remember turbulence. Turbulence outside the airplane but also turbulence in my heart as I wondered if my staying with Jose was my will or God's. I remember a Spanish song coming to mind "Paz en la Tormenta" which is "peace in the storm" and feeling renewed peace and thinking my unrest must be just because I was leaving everything I held dear.

But, the feeling didn't go away. It popped up again and again and each time it did, it got louder. I continued to ignore it, fully confident that I was doing what I thought was best and that Jose and I were meant to be together and that surely God had already blessed that.

So, that fall evening, when he unofficially asked me to marry him, I didn't even hesitate. Of course I was going to marry him. There was no doubt in my mind. But my joy was cut short as I dealt with the continual unrest in my soul. And I continued to fight that unrest. I didn't share it with anyone, I just kept it covered up, and emailed and called Jose more and more when those feelings surfaced. I wasn't going to give in and I certainly wasn't going to break up with him.

After Christmas, to start the new semester, my Christian college had "Spiritual Emphasis Week." They brought in a special speaker and we had mandatory services for the week instead of chapel just 3 times per week. At that point, as my feelings of unrest grew each day, I would go back and forth between ignoring them and just deciding that God did want me to break up with Jose and that I should just do it. I would work up the courage to talk to him about it and then back down...I really didn't want to do that.

"Spiritual Emphasis Week" was centered around Abraham and God asking him to give up what he loved best. It was like God had set that one up perfectly for me. I truly fought what it felt like God was saying to me the first couple of nights, but there comes a point, where the unrest in one's soul becomes so uncomfortable and makes it even difficult to breathe and I quickly found myself in that place. Finally, in a torrent of tears, hunched over in the fetal position, drained and exhausted from fighting, I surrendered. I told God I'd call Jose the next day and tell him that things between us were over. It was such an awful feeling, giving up control like that, especially because at this point, I very much wanted to be part of Jose's life and had no interest in letting him go.

But, as I did let go, an interesting and most beautiful thing happened. God first off, flooded my heart with peace and then in my mind, it was like I saw my relationship with Jose going away and God taking it, putting it on that "silver platter" and handing it right back to me. God had wanted my heart. He had wanted to be first. He had wanted to be the one orchestrating our futures, not me and my desires. Pure joy filled me and such an incredible feeling of joy. I was so thankful and excited!

My parents left the next month (February) to go back to Peru. It was almost harder to see them go back and know I wasn't able to than it was to leave Peru in the first place. Not only were they going to see Jose and be back in my beloved Peru, but I also wouldn't have family around anymore. It was such a lonely time, but not depressed lonely like before. My renewed relationship with God was flourishing and I was just so excited to learn more from him so that when I did see Jose again, it would be just an amazing, joyful reunion.

You can find the beginning of this story here: Part 1 , Part 2, Part 3, Part 4



Friday, March 16, 2012

highlights


We've had a beautiful week, weather-wise! After a little bit of pleading, we pulled the sand box out again.




I found a great deal on windbreakers at The Children's Place this week. I think they look so cute in their jackets! :)


I hope you've had a good week. What was your highlight?


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