That Time I Shot A Booger At My Dental Hygenist

Lucy's First Dentist Visit

I’m kind of getting annoyed at the internet. Sometimes it’s just too much. Too much information. Too many pictures of perfectly decorated houses and well-coiffed women. Too many ways to make quinoa [don’t get me wrong, I love quinoa]. Why so serious, internet?

So here’s my contribution to making the internet take itself less seriously. To adding real things. To not spending all my time telling everybody how awesome I am.

I made a mistake this week. I always schedule my dentist appointment on President’s Day so Chuck can stay home with the kids. I think my appointment was made on the date of President’s Day last year. This year, unfortunately, that fell on a plain ‘ole Thursday when school was most definitely in session. Adding to the can’t-catch-a-break-ness of the sitch was the fact that the appointment was too close to Landon’s school start time for me to drop the gang off anywhere.

So the four of us went to my dentist appointment. A 30-, 5-, 3-, and 1-year-old. Together. But it’s okay, guys. My dental hygenist is super great. I’ve been going to her since I moved here. Nearly a decade! The appointments are [usually] so relaxing, like you’re just chatting with a friend.

So my tag-alongs made it less relaxing than usual. But not bad. Snacks and iPads can right a lot of wrongs, amiright!?

Since I led with the punch line, I’ll get to it.

My DH is telling me this terrible story.

She was camping with her family and decided one morning to take a 3-wheeler out to explore. She came upon a turtle and stopped to pick it up. Her grandkids were back at the camp and she knew they’d love to see it. So she put the turtle on her lap and started driving back. She hit a bump and looked down to check on the turtle. Unfortunately, when she looked down she missed the second bump. She flew backwards off the vehicle, with the vehicle landing on top of her [I told you this was a terrible story!]. She passed out, obvs.

She listed out her extensive injuries including breaking her clavicle and needing staples to put skin back in the right places. She told me she missed six weeks when one of her gashes got infected. I’m laying there with my mouth open thinking, “Oh my gosh, this is so terrible!”

And then she said, “But don’t worry: the turtle was okay. He was wearing his helmet.”

And with my mouth stuffed with instruments aplenty, my nose betrayed me.

I mean, she didn’t mean that as such a punch line, right?! Why is that so funny!? The turtle was wearing his helmet… Ooof.

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Entryway Key Storage

My New Year’s Resolution this year was to stopped being bugged by stuff. I never make resolutions but I felt pretty strongly about this. As a stay-at-home mom, you spend so.many.hours staring at the same set of walls. Especially in the winter. Especially when you have babies that have to be home to nap. And [I think] like most everyone, there are tons of little things around the house that annoy me. So 2015 is the year I’m going to try to either stop obsessing over things I can’t change and deal with them. Like laundry. JK. Sort of JK. Or I’m going to try to come up with ways to fix the things that do bug me. I feel like this is doable. This is achievable. I can wear work out clothes while doing this without actually having to work out. This is good.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I spruced up the playroom we have.

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It has been gleefully de-bugged.

This week I set my sights on the key hooks that hang just next to our door.

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This was actually one of the first things we bought for our house. It seemed a necessity. But there were a couple things that made my eye twitch. It just looked messy all the time. And it was a shelf right next to the door. So when my sweet children accidentally shut the door too hard it would rain tchotchkes like manna. The shelf wasn’t really our style anymore.

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The dilemma came in the project of the timing. I just started one of these No Spend Month challenges a few days ago. I think it’s a really neat way to kind of reset our budget for the upcoming year and find a good base. But I didn’t want to sway from the challenge. So I went to the basement to see what I could find.

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I bought this shadow box at the thrift store a while back because it was a veritable blank slate of possibilities. I used a tinted stain we already owned to give it that rich blue color and drew the design on with an oil-based paint marker. I searched etsy for inspiration for the phrase.

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The arch print is from my glory college days where I had both the time and money to develop my own black and white prints. It’s a scene from the College of William & Mary. The clipboard up top originally came from the dollar store but had been hanging out in the basement for a while. I found a map of the University of Missouri campus online and changed the colors to match the room.

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The shadow box is attached the wall on a hinge I found on my husband’s tool bench. I re-used the hooks from the shelf under the shadow box so they’re still in the same place but hidden. It’s like magic. Housewife magic.

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I bought a wire basket to stash shoes by the door and cleared away a lot of coat bulk from the hooks we have.

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Coupled with the gallery wall updating I did a couple weeks ago, it feels like a new room! Baby likes.

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A Real “People Play Here” Sunroom Playroom

I’m afraid Pinterest sometimes leaves people feeling a bit disullioned about what playrooms actually look like. I pinned this one this week. It’s incredible, right!? And it’s in a basement. And I bet that house has things like closets to hide all the other stuff. Bummer. I always look at pictures like that and try to figure out where the kids play. Where are the toys, people!? How is that plant going to survive in a basement!? Answer all my questions!

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I’m here to introduce you to a little playroom that’s trying real hard. It comes from humble beginnings.

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When we only had one kid, we had it set up like a sitting room. I must say, it was adorable. Still in the newlywed-ish stage, we’d sit back there and read books next to a cozy fire. I kid you not.

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Speaking of kids. With three kids in a small house, we’ve lost the luxury of having less-used spaces. It needed some attention and a renewed sense of purpose.

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We started here. We don’t use this fireplace anymore. It still works, but it’s not a very efficient means of heating anything. When you open the flue all the warm air in the back of our house seems to race to the sky. And also, kids.

After four days and three coats of paint, the fireplace has experienced quite the little makeover!

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We added a bunch of foam insulation into the fireplace and used a nailgun to add on the wood, which is from a pine tree we took down in the fall. #myhusbandisalumberjack

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The mantle got some love with a Charley Harper print and one by my sweet little guy.

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My husband actually designed that mantle using reclaimed wood wood scraps like the light box that used to hang in his sister’s kitchen.

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I made that pom pom garland one morning when the baby wanted to see what 5:45 was like. I must say, it was a weirdly satisfying project. Also, I took these pictures with my phone. And you can tell. Not sorry.

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I keep showing you pictures of this side of the room because it’s the cute side. We are, as previously mentioned, a house with a storage problem. That moose on the floor is a sleeping bag we found at a garage sale. It used to be a boy but the antlers kept poking the kids in the eye. This is real life.

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And we’ve got lots to store. I used to keep the board games and play dough things and art things and all the things in the basement and when the kids wanted something I would run down and grab it. But now the baby naps in the basement [It’s a walk out! It’s finished-ish! Relax!]. And nobody wakes baby for a crayon. So it all came upstairs. Which has actually kept it way more organized because instead of having a pile of stuff to take downstairs I just put it away.

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We brought the kitchen in from Lucy’s room because the boys play with it all the time and it was stressing her out that they would come in her room while the Barbies were vacationing away from the Dream House. Her playscape is an elaborate set up.

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And some shelves. Functional shelves. And new blinds after the neighbor two doors down asked me about some new furniture we got. Insert nervous laugh emoticons. As many as you can. We painted the top of that bench (that holds more boaard games) with chalkboard paint. To cover up all the marker strokes that missed paper.

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I also replaced a couple things that were taking up floor space. This retractable clothesline replaced an accordion style one.

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And adding a paper roll to the top of a cabinet saved the easel space.

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One last look at the beautiful thing that took all the sacred post-bedtime relax time.

Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps

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I’m still not totally sure if I should indeed be sharing recipes with the internet, but I’ll forge on. After all, the internet is full of unqualified people giving unsolicited advice, amiright!? [And really, this is baaaaarely a recipe.]

I made these lettuce wraps last week after I saw this super infograph telling me romaine was super great for me. I like super great things.

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To make these I chopped up a large apple (peel on – ain’t nobody got time for that), half a cucumber, ribboned some spinach, equal parts greek yogurt and mayo – like 1/4 cup each, a cup of cooked chicken (rotisserie saves time!), and the usual suspects of salt, pepper, and paprika. It would’ve been yummy with some egg (but the kid is allergic) and some poppy seeds (but I’m fresh out).

Also. This mayo. You. Are. Welcome.

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We served it on our romaine leaves and everybody rejoiced. Even the kids. I had them at chicken. Calling it a lettuce taco probably didn’t hurt.

I love reminding myself that chicken salad doesn’t have to be the traditional grapes and eggs team that I’m used to.

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Christmas List 2014

Does anyone else love to know what other people are getting their kiddos for Christmas? It’s like the equivalent of the “What’s in your fridge?” amusement. I thought I’d share our gift break down for this year. As always, we stick to three gifts (If it was good enough for Jesus…) We’ll start with the baby:

Cohen will turn one just a couple weeks before Christmas. He loves music, shaking/throwing things, and cause/effect toys. Because he’s the youngest of three, I’ve seen with the others how some “baby” toys are discarded quickly. One of the keys to a good gift for the youngest kiddo is something interesting enough for his older sibs to play with him. With that in mind, we bought him this set of Citiblocs.

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Wood toys are almost always a win, but the fact that this will extend the play of the wood blocks we already own certainly helps. Better still for the music-loving babe, they rattle and come in a bucket.

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This chomp and count dino is a pretty obvious choice for the young toddler set this holiday. I mean you get to feed him. He sings songs and has a wheel you turn. AND he has a string so you can pull him along.

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We have a bunch of the different Green Toys vehicles. They are a great size and have held up to some rough play. Cohen’s going to love pushing this tractor around, especially since it has a bucket in the back for hauling “stuff”.

Landon’s next! He’s three-and-a-half. It’s the first time we’ve given him gifts since he was diagnosed with autism. Which you might think changes things, but I think what makes this holiday the most different from previous ones is the fact that he knows what he likes this year and asked for some things specifically. One thing he was adamant about was that he would like some bridges to go along with his wooden train tracks. Thanks to Mimi and Aunt K, he’s got two bridges coming his way.

If you’re the mama of a preschool-aged boy, you probably have a few monster trucks laying around. Landon is a proprioceptive-seeker, so he loves the feel of the big rubber tires. I found this set over the summer on super clearance, so I’m glad the wait is almost over to see how much he loves it.

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After more than a few mom recommendations and an extended play session at the children’s museum, I knew Magformers needed to be on this year’s Christmas list. Unfortunately, they are super expensive. I jumped at a deal I saw a couple months ago and am so excited these are wrapped under the tree!

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Because they’re so expensive, it does seem like the kind of toy we’ll have to build onto with time, but I hope the 30 piece set is enough to get him excited about playing with them!

This last toy goes against pretty much every toy rule I have: it’s big, it only does one thing, it’s pieces are fixed and non-customizable, it’s plastic. But, he’s going to LOVE it. And sometimes (sometimes) that’s worth breaking all the rules for.

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Lastly, Lucy. She’s turning five in a couple weeks. And she knows exactly what she wants. Oh boy…

We bought her a toy kitchen for her first Christmas and I must say that was the best investment. (This is the kitchen that has stood the test of time. And kids.)

She asked for some food this year so we got this wedding cake and ice cream set. I know that’s technically two things, but by shopping early I found them for a steal and could fit both into the budget.

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Lovies and stuffed friends are adored around here so I know this Cinderella pillow is going to be a hit. Since she saw a commercial for Disney World that featured Cinderella’s castle, she’s become a favorite princess. I mean she’s no Elsa, but pretty high up there. ;)

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Lastly, she asked for a calendar. The passage of time is so interesting to her and she wants to know what we’re doing every day so I thought this would be perfect. There’s one for older kids that has a month view so we could always upgrade to that one later.

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Budget-wise, starting early definitely helped keep us on track. We started out with a budget of $50 per kid. Cohen came in $10 under budget, Landon was exactly on budget, and Lucy was $6 under budget. I used the extra money to add some books to their stockings!

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So many stockings!

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Parenting 101 As Learned From The Wild West

Lucy and I have been reading through the Magic Tree House series while Landon is at school. It started innocently enough: we found the first book in the series at the thrift store and I started reading to her while she was having a snack one day.

I was immediately impressed with how long she would sit and listen to me read. She asked for more and I obliged. Even better- our library has most of the series available as e-books.

We recently finished “Ghost Town at Sundown”; the tenth book in the series.

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After I finished reading it to her, I could not get this one part out of my head. The book is set in the Wild West and like most of the series, one of the main characters, Jack, does a little research to help them as they’re visiting an unfamiliar place and time. For this book, he has a list from a cowboy about how to treat a horse. They’re hoping to settle some wild mustangs. According to the notes Jack took, “Horse Rules” are as follow:

-Soft Hand

-Firm Voice

-Sunny Attitude

-Praise

-Reward

That’s exactly like parenting!

Learning to parent Landon through his special needs has really stretched us this year. Autism builds patience through routines that can’t be broken. It is a mirror as your kiddo tries to show correct emotions by mimicking yours (which is why spanking doesn’t really work for us). It spurs compassion when you step outside on the first very cold day of the year and watch your kiddo twirl their hands in wonder, trying to catch the cold air that feels like it’s pressing on their exposed skin. Your heart explodes when they learn or do things for themselves.

I can honestly say this has been the hardest year for us, which made this reminder all the more sweet. Parenting might be messy, but it can be broken down simply.

God even broke down the Bible for us, “Jesus replied, ‘Love The Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” (Matt 22:38-9)

My goal for the week is to remember those uncomplicated horse rules.

Lucy Lately

I put this picture up on Instagram today and it reminded me that I haven’t done one of these in a while. This kid makes me laugh SO much. All the time. She likes to ask what I love about her and it’s so hard to choose just a few things. But- her spirit and sense of humor are definitely at the top of the list. She brings joy everywhere she goes.

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And then she said, “Mom. Did you vote for Jesus for King?”

“I’m making something that’s too incredible. It’s going to knock your eyes off.”

Me: “Don’t tell, it’s a secret.”
Lu: ” [whispering] Okay. I’m going to put it into a secret closed area.” [zips her lips]

“Mom. I need Cohen to watch the show I’m putting on, not be engaged in it.”

Lu: “Let’s have a contest to see who can put their shoes on the fastest.”
[I win.]
“Well. The rules say you have to be four to win.”

Lucy: “Mom. Smell my breath!”
[from across the room.]
Me: “Peeee yoo. Stinky.”
Lucy: “Are you sure?”
Me: “Mmhmm.”
Lucy: “That’s weird ’cause I just brushed last night. I think all the toothpaste escaped!”

[Making her a sunbutter and jelly sandwich.]
“Mom. May I have the honor of putting the two pieces of bread together?”

Lu: “Hm. That’s weird.”
Me: “What’s weird?”
Lu: “My wish didn’t come true.”
Me: “What did you wish for?”
Lu: “I wished I would become a fairy. Maybe it just takes a long time for wishes to come true.”

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He’s been super fussy so she prayed, “Jesus, please help Cohen get teeth.” This morning his two bottom teeth popped through! So we start talking about answered prayers and she says, “I can’t believe God hears my prayers! I’m asking for a baby sister next. Sorry Cohen!”

“Is it so weird that in Jesus’s day they wore flip flops!?”

“I am a queen! And I oppose my own policies!”

“There’s a bug in the car. But I don’t know if I’m dreaming it.”

Cheerleaders: “Defense push ‘em back, sack that quarterback!”
Lu: “Did they just say Jesus?”

Lu: “So did you ever hear of the cow that had a hundred chickens?”
Me: “No?”
Lu: “That’s because it didn’t happen! Bahahahahaha.”

“Oh, Mom. You look so pretty when your hair falls in your face… Oh and now you’re back to normal.”

Lu: “Anyone heard that a mountain grows? Anyone heard that leaves fall?”
Chuck: “Have you ever heard about the kid who ate all their vegetables?”
Lu: “That sounds terrible.”

Shopping isn’t really my thing. I’m a kid.

[Chuck adjusting the radio]
Lu: “Dad, can you turn it to my jam?”

“Dear Jesus. Please help me to never grow up and have babies so I don’t have to have shots and get hurt.”

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Giveaway Winner and A Big Thanks to Jax Games

I’d never really thought before about the plight some families face concerning those hours between the end of school for their kids and the end of work for the parents. Growing up, my mom was always one of the first cars in the pick-up line. She was reliable and dependable. I remember in middle school, begging her to be a little late so I could stand on the curb with my friends while they waited on their rides. I never thought about the kids who carried their own house key. The kids who gained such responsibility early.

When we moved to Missouri, we moved to an area much different from the swamps of Florida where I grew up. One afternoon when Lucy was just a toddler, we changed up our routine and went to the library after nap-time instead of before. When we got there, the library was PACKED. It was no longer a quiet library, but it was very obviously an oasis for many.

So when Jax Games, sponsor of the recent giveaway I hosted, offered to send me a few more games to check out I was thrilled! I’ve already mentioned our love of board games. And then the delivery came and I can’t fully express the shock I experienced by their generosity! We have so many new games to try and I can’t wait to share our fun with our friends [We are in the midst of planning a family game night party! How great does that sound!?]. But, I immediately knew that some of the games were destined for a greater purpose.

After the events in Ferguson, I was invited to a Facebook group called “Parents for Peace”. The group’s greatest intention was to encourage and nurture the children of our community, profoundly impacted by the summer’s events. One of the biggest ways the group served the kids was to organize activities at the Ferguson Library for the kids to enjoy while the start of school was postponed.

Realizing that the library is such a safe haven, I immediately knew some the games would find a great home there. I was so honored to be able to contribute to that. [Let’s just say feeding a family of five on a teacher’s salary doesn’t leave a lot of room for random giving.]

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So before they were even allowed to open a game, we talked to the kids about giving some of the games to the library and why we thought it was important. We drove over and dropped them off. I think some of the games finding a home there is totally fitting with the company’s motto, “What a difference a game makes!”.

Board games bridge gaps and encourage community. So, thanks to Jax Games and thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway. Using a random number generator, the winner is Christina a.k.a. “Momma Loves Cookin'”. I’ll be in touch with you to get your info to pass along.

How Tall Am I? // Family Game Night [And A Giveaway!]

My husband and I put board games on our wedding registry. We took Boggle on our honeymoon [nerd alert :)]. We are big, big fans of board games. When we had kids, I just sort of assumed that as soon as they hit preschool age we’d be elbow-deep in Candy Land and Don’t Break The Ice. But wouldn’t you know it, my kids don’t like Candy Land. I figured we would just need to wait for them to get a little older and try again, but Landon’s occupational therapist said she thought board games would be a great way to get him used to having longer social interactions. So I went on the lookout for a board game that everyone in the family would like AND would hold the attention of my three-year-old autistic son. No big deal. ;)

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[She’s celebrating a Sequence Letters victory a bit prematurely. Hehe.]

We already owned a game called Sequence Letters that we played during our “school” time with Lucy and she really enjoyed it. It’s a little much for Landon since he doesn’t know any letters yet, so I started looking at other games the company made to see if any looked appealing.

“How Tall Am I?” stood out because our kids [most kids] love to measure things. Any sort of thing. All the time.

How Tall Am I? // Pre-school Aged Family Game Night

The premise of the game is super easy and the included pieces are super cute. There’s a die to roll and it tells you which part of the body you get to pick that turn. You can mix and match the cardboard pieces to make some pretty silly characters.

How Tall Am I? // Pre-school Aged Family Game Night

We played this after dinner one night [don’t mind the piles of real life in the background]. Landon made a police clown ballerina. Recently diagnosed with autism, it’s hard to keep him engaged during group play. He’d much rather play trains in his room. To help him not get frustrated and fixated on the pieces lining up and staying perfectly together, I put down a little piece of drawer liner.

How Tall Am I? // Pre-school Aged Family Game Night

Once everyone gets all the pieces needed and their characters assembled, you can measure to see who made the tallest form. When it’s just me and Lucy we also mix up the rules to try to get the shortest, or even a specific height.

How Tall Am I? // Pre-school Aged Family Game Night

We did some guessing on how tall our characters would measure in her science notebook and she drew out the figure and the ruler. We even got to talk about different standards of measure since the ruler has inches on one side and centimeters on the other.

How Tall Am I? // Pre-school Aged Family Game Night

I can’t recommend this game enough. Anything that can engage two preschoolers without any fighting is a winner. Each round takes somewhere around five minutes for the four of us to play so it’s quick enough that no one feels like they’re waiting “forever” for their turn to come around again. I bought ours off amazon, but liked the game [and the company] so much I decided to ask them to sponsor a giveaway so that one of you could have your own “How Tall Am I?”! And they said yes!

To enter the giveaway, share this post via your favorite social media outlet . Then come back here and leave a comment telling me where you shared it and your email. If you share it two places, leave two comments. I’ll leave the giveaway open for a week and then use a random number generator to pick a winner!

How Tall Am I? // Preschool-Aged Family Game Night

Disclaimer: I purchased this game on my own and loved it so much I decided to ask the company, JAX games, if they’d like to give one away. The opinions on the game are all mine.

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Family Pictures 2014

When you have three kids ages four and under, some times family pictures means running out into a field before the sun sets and taking a hundred or so pictures in 13 minutes until your son poops his pants, thus concluding the photo shoot.

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Some times there’s not one picture of everyone looking and your sweet husband photoshops them together for you.

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With her prince.

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Just before he squeezed his brother’s hurt finger. You can guess how that went. #thirdkidproblems

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Her sweet smile.

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How she wanted to smile.

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My love.

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Who needed convincing that our pose did not look like a prom picture.

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Hubba hubba.

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Stud baby.

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For real.

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Blue eyes.

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Heart explosion.

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Double heart explosion.

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And just for good measure, how about some outtakes?

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[should have known. ;)]

Thanks Mimi, for the pictures. For capturing beautiful moments in our crazy, messy, beautiful lives.

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For comparisons, sake: 2012 family photos.

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