Mabel's Labels

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While we're still soaking up and soaking in the sweetness of Summer for just a few more weeks, I am starting to think ahead and get us organized for the new school year! My oldest officially starts kindergarten this year (cue the tears!) She is over the moon excited and I am so happy seeing her excitement! One of my favorite ways to get organized is with school supplies! This year we're using Mabels Labels to get each of the children's backpacks, water bottles, jackets, and more ready to take with us on Bible Study days, field trips, and more. 

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While we spend our days learning and playing at home there are a few outings we take each week where it's important that the children have backpacks, water bottles, etc. One of those being our Thursday morning Bible Study. Each of the children (even sweet baby Rutledge) have a class they attend while I'm off in my own small group before a larger lecture. It's one of the sweetest parts of our week!

The study we attend is full of families with small children! They require each family to clearly label all their belongs- which is very reasonably necessary! Over the years I've tried different labels that just didn't stick. Last year I resorted to sharpie on all the things. I worked but didn't look as lovely as you could imagine. 

This year we're set! Mabel's Labels has the perfect solution with personalized, adorable labels that are both durable and informative! They're washing machine and dishwasher safe! 

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As if I wasn't already sold on the personalized name stickers the custom shoe stickers sent me to the moon! I absolutely LOVE how cute these are but even better I LOVE that my cute crew can finally put their shoes on the right feet! Haha! Anyone else have this struggle?! 

Bonus: When Sadie goes to class and takes her shoes and sweater off (must be a 3 year old thing?) her teachers will know who they belong to!

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So while you're stocking up on supplies and gearing up for the new year be sure to check out Mabels Label's! They have everything from iron-on clothes labels to bag tags and everything in between! AND their shipping is free in the US!

I love them so much I want to give you a chance to try them out too! This week I'm giving one happy mama a personalized set of Mabels Label's sent straight to her mailbox! Check out my instagram to find out more! 

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Happy Labeling! 

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All About Apples

Back to School SPECIAL 25% OFF!!

A month packed full of apple fun! 50+ pages of literacy to numeracy to STEM and everything in between! You’ll explore apples inside and out with your little! Perfect for preschool, kindergarten prep, and kindergarten too! One fun filled, inspiring activity everyday. Not too much to overwhelm you and just enough to make the time together something really special. Minimal to no prep required on most activities. Includes a suggested book list and bonus printables + a FREE art print! Read More about this unit on the blog!

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Little Ones in the Word

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Teaching my littles is something I'm clearly passionate about. We have the best time playing and learning in our home. From finger painting letters to review their sounds to counting jumps in hopscotch to introduce number sense and everything in between. I believe education is invaluable and so very important but above any academic skill is something so much bigger, so much more important, and of eternal value. 

Teaching my littles about Jesus, who loves them the very most, is my greatest joy. I'm no super mama and I fail every single day but I take heart in knowing He doesn't call us to perfection but to faithfulness. Today I wanted to share with you a couple of resources I've been using lately.

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Deuteronomy 6:7-9 "You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."

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The first thing is something really special our church created for children called a "Word and Witness Journal." It's divided into 4 seasonal sections with passages throughout the Bible. Each passage has activities and though provoking questions. After reading the passage for the week we talk through what we read and what that means about God. She's not old enough to journal but I love when she gets her little pencil out and scribbles her "journal entries."

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Another tool we use is the verse cards from Daily Grace Company. Macie Jane got these from her grandparents for her birthday and we have loved how sweet they are! We just used a rolled up piece of painters tape to hang them all through out the house. So many precious promises and reminders to see, read, and repeat throughout the day. 

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Of course we have always loved our Jesus Storybook Bible and last month my best friend introduced me to Hero Tales. I absolutely love this collection of true life stories. It's the abridged biographies of Christian heroes along with a pairing of vignettes from their lives. I love how each section ends with thought provoking questions and a passage of scripture to think on as it relates to the story. My children are still so small that it serves best as a read aloud but will be a great independent read as they age. 

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Ok, and the last thing I'm sharing today is one I'm so excited about! As important as it is to read and teach my children truth I want them to walk in it as well. Practically speaking we're using the cutest cards called, Tiny Tells as a means to encourage others. Christi over at Tiny Tells has developed a whole line of miniature cards perfect for handing out, tucking into, or attaching to gifts, lunchboxes or mailboxes.  

Our Favorite Do-A-Dot Activities + an everyone-wins-GIVEAWAY!

Our Favorite Do-A-Dot Activities + an everyone-wins-GIVEAWAY!

Our favorite Do - A - Dot Marker activities plus a GIVEAWAY for everyone! :) Read on to find out how you can get your own personalized dot marker activity pages! GIVEAWAY runs Tuesday, July 17 - Friday, July 20, 2018 at midnight EST

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Birthday Partying

This weekend my baby turned 2. I could hardly believe we were sending out invitations to celebrate! We've evolved a fair amount since starting the birthday party planning gig with Macie Jane's first birthday. It was basically a wedding reception for a baby who will never remember it- but I will ;) 

The Pinterest loving soul inside of me can hardly stand it. An occasion to design, cut out, inflate, and arrange decorations sounds like a dream! If I'm being honest the party planning is 75% for me and 25% for them. Sure, I choose a theme I know they'll enjoy but do they care about the cupcake toppers I carefully cut out or the balloon arrangement I order? ...probably not. 

After the first few years my sweet (and always supportive) husband suggested approaching birthdays a little differently. Instead of going over the top (as I'm inclined to do) maybe we could alternate big party one year, low key party the next. It's actually turned out to be a really good thing. Starting out I had 3, 3 and under. One birthday falls the week before Christmas and another comes just 6 weeks after the new year. Suffice it to say my brain was on overload. Giving myself freedom to do the basics and enjoy the day for what it is has been a game changer. Birthdays are very special in our family but I'm learning that doesn't have to mean months of planning and a financial investment. We can have just as sweet a time with a sweet cake, simple decorations, and being surrounded by everyone we love.

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Rutledge had a shark themed pool party because what better place to celebrate on a hot Summer day? I ordered a large, inflatable shark  for the pool and it was a hit. My sweet, little fella loved splashing and growling at that thing and all the little girls (all his cousins are girls in addition to his two sisters) loved it too! I ordered a round cake from  our local Publix which I absolutely loved! If you don't know what I'm talking about consider chatting with the bakery for your next celebration. I went in person to talk with the cake decorator. She was so gracious and willing to create exactly what I was looking for! The cake was not only delicious and adorable but super affordable too! win-win-win! I picked up a couple table covers and party accessories from Walmart and had a dozen or so balloons inflated. I couldn't forget the iconic number balloon from Hobby Lobby and the decorations were set! It was a sweet evening celebrating our big guy around the pool with family. 

It wasn't the social event of the season but Rutledge was so loved and fully enjoyed the celebration! And because I wasn't wrapped up in everything being "perfect" I think I really enjoyed it more too. Maybe this party was more like 100% for both of us?

Great Picture Books About Transportation

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Typically when we start a unit I'll grab a Gail Gibbons book along the same lines of what we are studying? She's a great non-fiction storybook author. Her books are perfect for curious little eyes to explore pages full of information even before they are ready to read. This one is no exception covering every form of transportation from cars to cruise liners. 

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Freight Train by Donald Crews is a good one for younger preschoolers with few words but colorful pictures. It names the various cars on a train and uses fun imagery to show the speed of a train racing down different tracks. Short and sweet! 

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Red Light, Green Light by Anastasia Suen is another great preschool book! Full color pages with lots of action and describing words. Seeing play different forms of transportation zoom around different scenes is so much fun! From traffic to trolleys and choppers this adorable book is definitely a great one for the lover of everything that goes! 

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If your littles are like mine you know that it's not just the forms of transportation that captivates them its their sounds too! Zoom Zoom by Robert Burleigh is a perfect solution to meeting both those desires! His rhythmic and rhyming story tells of a city full of sound! From sun up to sun down and everything in between this cute book is a thrilling ride! 

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Y is for Yacht. The letter we are studying during this unit is the letter Y which inspired reading this book. It is one of those awesome, interactive preschool books. Your little will love reading all about the many different kinds of boats (there are SO many! ) This board book format has pages that open up into huge pages with giant illustrations of ferries, and sailboats, and tugboats and more! Great for the nautical loving little in your life! 

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The pigeon, need I say more? We love this silly, sometimes emotional, little fella! Mo Willems has a fantastic sense of you humor and littles pick up on the silliness right away! This one will have you in stitches. Bless that pigeon's heart, all he wants to do is DRIVE THAT BUS!!! (Also, the pigeon is part of a larger series of books all of which are adorably funny! Definite favorites around here.)

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To the typical family travel is not the most fun part of vacation, aparently that's not the story for these bunnies. They take 12 different modes of transportation to arrive at their destination- home. Your little is sure to love the adventurous traveling these bunnies do and the fun pictures accompanying them. 

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Last, but not least Delievery was a sweet book to read and comes perfect right after our valentine celebrations last week! "Aaron Meshon's playful, tender and almost wordless story, a grandmother sends love to the moon and back to get a very special delivery to a very special boy!" This book was written with so much love and you can certainly feel it! 

Unit 10: Valentines Recap

 February is one of my favorite times of year! We LOVE celebrating love day! It was a no brainer that we'd include the holiday in our learning! We read some real great valentine books and had a blast incorporating all our learning goals with valentine fun! 

February is one of my favorite times of year! We LOVE celebrating love day! It was a no brainer that we'd include the holiday in our learning! We read some real great valentine books and had a blast incorporating all our learning goals with valentine fun! 

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Here are a few of the titles we read. You can be sure to find a book by Gail Gibbons in almost every unit we've studied. She's one of our favorite non-fiction picture book authors! Are you a Gail Gibbons fan too? The Day It Rained Hearts by Felicia Bond was another favorite but I think our most favorite was Valentine Express by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace (not pictured.) It's a precious story of an adorable duo creating and delivering the most thoughtful valentines. 

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At this point in the preschool school year we're working on identifying number words. Macie Jane isn't sounding them out to read them but rather memorizing what they look like and "reading" them that way. We used our number cards in the unit along this activity to reinforce this skill. 

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Our following directions activity really had me laughing. Oh my, what an adventure it is juggling both girls with two very different personalities and trying to complete this activity. Sadie, who is 3, had an entirely different outcome than Macie Jane (just turned 5.) It was a perfect example of those exposure type activities I talk about. Macie Jane followed every direction and Sadie.... well... Sadie had an adventure of her own. I will say she did try to follow some of the directions before scribbling over the front and back of the page. :) 

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Any activity involving a toss able cube is a win in our books. Both girls loved this activity although it was geared a bit more for Macie Jane's age range. Sadie used it to practice number recognition and Macie Jane used it to practice transferring, counting, and left to right progression. This is another one of those great activities that seems small but packs so many skills in! 

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Ok, now, y'all know there is NO question here. When preschool includes candy we are SOLD! This activity was perfect for both girls. Sorting and counting for Sadie and those skills along with comparing amounts for Macie Jane. We all had a great time and good sugar rush after this activity!

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One of our more messy activities was the Valentine invitation to play. I provided the girls with materials and invited them to make and create however their hearts desired. We went through several rolls of washing tape, lots of stamps (some on paper some on skin), and made many memorable valentines. Invitations to play typically capture the girls attention for a good amount of time and are great opportunities for them to develop creativity and imagination. There was no end product in mind just independent, open-ended play with age appropriate materials. 

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STEM activities are beginning to rival the girls love for crafts. The fizzy hearts activity had them mesmerized. I didn't shy away from talking technical with them. We talked about acids and bases and identified which vinegar and baking soda were. We made guesses about what would happen when the two combined and didn't waste anytime exploring the experiment. The classic fizzy explosion experiment never gets old. We had a great time and they thought it was just the most awesome experiment! (Can you see the heart in MJ's pan?)

Want to grab the valentine unit to use with our littles? Click the link below or join us for our newest unit available on my resource page! We'd love to play and learn with you! 

Great Gifts for Christmas - Two Year Olds

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Last week I started a series of post on gifts for our little loves. It's the most wonderful time of year again and to help make this holiday season just a little easier for you I've collected ideas on great gifts for babies up through preschool age. So many of the gifts I shared last week would suit well for a younger two year old as well. In this post I'm sharing just 6 ideas for toys that help develop creativity, spark imagination, and are just plain fun for the terrific two year old in your life! 

 

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First up is the Fisher Price Medical Kit. Pretend and Role play begins around 2 years old. This adorable set is perfect to take real life experience and pair it with fun. Everyone visits the doctor for their well check ups. Sometimes those visits come with a negative stigma. Why not help encourage the heart of your little with a medical bag of fun? Our Sadie had a number of doctor/specialist visits early in her life and continues to today. One way we helped alleviate her fears was to play check up at home. From checking her sister's temperature to listening to little brother's heartbeat the doctor kit was a big hit. (We even brought it with us on a check up once to help ease her nervousness!) In addition it, "helps little ones develop healthy habits and sharing skills while giving imagination a big boost." Whether your little loves the doctors office or not this 7 piece set is sure to be a whole lot of fun! Cost: a little over $12

Fisher Price Medical Kit

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This one needs little explanation. What two year old doesn't love a little messy fun!? Paint that you can do with your hands- why not? This kit comes with three tubes of washable color (red, yellow, and blue) and 10 sheets of large sized paper specifically designed to work with finger paint. Read: paint doesn't seep through! :) Washability is always a big factor when I choose paint for the children to play with here as I imagine it is for you. I'm happy to report we have never had a problem washing out any of Crayola's washable paints. It's easily removed from fingers, nail beds, clothes, workspaces, etc. Cost: $9

In addition to this set, I highly recommend IKEA's roll of white paper if you happen to live near one you can hop over to. 

Crayola My First Finger Paints

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Mega Bloks are probably one of the very best ways to support developing creativity and make for perfect open ended play. Dream up, build, or take apart any creation you can think of! Little developing fingers and hands get great practice with hand-eye coordination using Mega Bloks. This is another toy to grow with your child. He/she will enjoy it for years to come as their maturity and creativity grows. For less than $15 you get 80 large sized, easily to build with blocks. The packaging is durable for reusability too! Hello after Christmas organization! Mega bloks are all interchangeable within the brand so should you decide to get more they will all work together! Cost: $14.92

Classic Mega Bloks

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Board books are really perfect for any age but I especially love them for two year olds because they can survive the crib. :) Around 2 we start leaving a board book or two in bed with our children to look through and enjoy should they wake early or as they are preparing to nap. Board books stand up to the test of little fingers tearing, toss, or banging on them. They also play a role in developing that love for reading and learning we all desire for in our children.  [I have, however, lost a few to the washing machine R.I.P. so you definitely want to grab them out of the crib sheet before tossing it into the machine and save yourself the disappointment.] Cost: $7-$15

Little Blue Truck Board Book

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This one I have to say has been a HUGE hit in our house! Even for Rutledge (1) and Macie Jane (4) but especially  Sadie (2). There are plenty of times where she pretends the pot is for coffee and she enjoys her morning "coffee" (AKA an empty cup) with me. The cake comes in 4 pieces for practicing stacking. The teapot has three different levels of play and sings 7 different songs. But most importantly for Mom and Dad- it has an off switch and volume control. One of the kids' favorite feature is it's real pouring sounds when they tilt the teapot! A great gift for the tea party animal in your life. Cost: $20

Fisher Price Laugh and Learn

Smart Stages Tea Set

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I saved my very most favorite for last! You really can't go wrong with anything from Melissa & Doug, but this one takes the cake in our family this year! It's 6 pieces of pretend play- from sweeping to dusting or moping your little is sure to have fun while "helping" around the house. Again, role/pretend play begins at this stage of development and how many times do we hear our little loves ask, "I help?" Wouldn't it be great to say "Yes!" I also love how this toy is made of durable wood and comes with it's own storage rack for easy access and clean up. :) The price really isn't too bad either considering the type of sturdy construction this toy is made with. Cost: $25

Melissa & Doug Let's Play House

There you have it! My favorite toys for two year olds! What does your two year old love? Anything I missed? Sharing is caring- let me know your thoughts! :) 

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Freedom for the Preschooler's Mama

Freedom for the Preschooler's Mama

These first years at home together are for enjoying- whether you stay home or work or work from home- enjoy this season. If doing educational activities or crafts is enjoyable then do it! I've got lots of ideas I'd love to share with you ;) ...but if it's not then let yourself off the hook. You are teaching more than you realize. When you read a book to your child, talk with your child, color with sidewalk chalk together you are making little investments. All those activities and zillions more come together to create a schema from which your little will put together ideas throughout her/his educational career. 

The big idea I want to get across is FREEDOM. I'll plan out the year, give you directions, suggestions, and materials and you enjoy investing in your little. Don't stress about curriculums and assessments- have fun and let me lead the way for you! 

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Ten Red Apples: Apple Counting Book

This morning we reread our story Ten Red Apples by Pat Hutchinson. Reading research shows that reading and rereading texts helps improve a child's development as a reader. During this week we will read and reread our theme story each day. 

Today we made an apple shaped counting book to correspond with our story. I made a printable for this activity for you to use if you want to too! Supplies you will need are: apple shapes cut out and stapled with 10 blank pages inside, red paint, clothes pin, and pom pom. You'll pinch the pom pom between the clothes pin to make an apple dot stamp. 

We started with one apple dot on the first page and each page we stamped one more apple dot counting up to ten on the last page. (I helped a little more as we got closer to 10. It's hard for those little hands to stamp that many dots on small pages)

As the stamping progresses it does get a little more difficult to differentiate the apples from one another so adding a few little details does help. After her book was made and dried we went through it counting the apples. Each page I would have her touch each stamped apple dot as she counted. She loved the book and was so proud of her creation!

The skills we practiced today were: concepts of print, literacy, numeracy, one-to-one correspondence. 

Ten Red Apples: Homemade Applesauce

One of my most favorite places to teach my littles is in our kitchen. This morning after we read our story Ten Red Apples by Pat Hutchinson we counted out 10 red apples on the kitchen counter and placed each one through our apple peeler/corer/slicer.

We followed Pioneer Woman's super simple homemade applesauce recipe. All you'll need is a bunch of apples, apple juice, a lemon, brown sugar, and cinnamon. 

Before I turned the burner on I put the pot on the stove and MJ climbed up on a chair beside me. She counted the handfuls of apples as she dumped them in. Then she felt so big pouring the apple juice into the pot as well. 

 

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I turned the burner on medium heat and 20 minutes later not only did our home smell deliciously wonderful but the apples were ready to be blended up. The applesauce turned out perfect and was baby bug approved!

The skills we practiced today were: concepts of print, literacy, numeracy, measuring, life skills, kitchen safety

Hello September

And just like that August 2016 is in the books. What sweet month! Looking ahead September promises to be just as much if not even more exciting! Don't you just love the beginning of a new month? The fresh start to anything is always exciting. I love making new goals, new plans, and starting afresh with ideas that maybe waned in the previous month. 

I put together a simple little calendar to keep track of our family activities, appointments, etc. I thought maybe you might enjoy it too. I put the free printable on my resource page or you can click on the picture get the download. Enjoy!

Summer Recap

Wow, y'all, it's been quite the Summer and I mean that in the most exciting, wonderful, challenging, exhausting, filled with gratitude way! Where to begin?

Really, it feels a lot like a blur. We began the Summer eagerly expecting our precious Rutledge. Since our first two babies came early I was so sure that, of course, my third would be early too. 

Back in May at 37 weeks I got pretty sick. I was dehydrated and started having contractions 2 minutes apart. I spent a day in the OB triage getting fluids, anti nausea medicine, and pain medicine. When I left my contractions were 5 minutes apart but I wasn't progressing so I got to go home. Sure enough after resting over night the contractions stopped and life was back to normal. Weeks 38 and 39 came and I found myself more pregnant than I'd ever been before. Little man was comfy inside and not going anywhere. We spent our days expectantly waiting but fully enjoying where we were. I soaked in every minute with my girls knowing this season was so close to an end. We went shopping, visited the zoo, went out on dinner dates, and basically had a ball. At long last my perfect baby boy was born at 40 weeks and 2 days. He is the most precious baby and I can't say enough how kind the Lord was to give us the most wonderful birth experience (I'll blog about that another day.)

Needless to say the month of July disappeared like a vapor. There wasn't a whole lot of sleeping but there was a whole lot of love. We did brave the road to spend the week at the beach with our family. Countless evenings were spent sipping popsicles and swimming in the pool. Way too much Daniel Tiger was streamed (unless it was de-Netflixed- SAD day!) but we read lots of books too. I'm almost embarrassed how many days were spent in our PJ's, except that I'm not, because when you have three 3 and under you just do what you have to do.

August resembled July except my baby did something neither of my girls ever did at this age: He would sleep through the night a few nights each week! Whaaaa?! A 6, 7, 8 week old baby giving 5-6 hour stretches of sleep is incredible and direct answer to a specific prayer! I began to feel relatively normal and ready to take baby steps into the land of the living. We had playdates and friends visit our home. We even got to go back to our sweet church for the first time since before he was born. And an undeniable itch to get back to blogging. So, here I am- a hot mess chasing two adorable toddlers, snuggling my practically perfect infant, and thinking I can start writing again. I've missed y'all and can't wait to catch up with the sweet community here in the blogging world! I hope you've had the most exciting, wonderful, challenging, [not] exhausting, and filled with gratitude Summer too! 

with love,