the best deal you could possibly get on shoes

Guess what! You won't believe it, but I beat every thrift store price I've ever seen at Kohl's a few days ago!

I was so thrilled to find these adorable striped flip-flops in the junior section:

The price?



I signed up for Kohl's rewards program a long time ago, and every few months they send me $10 to spend. The weird thing is that I don't earn the points or anything- they just randomly send me $10 for free! I love that! :) Most of the time, I end up spending a few dollars on top of the free money, but this time, they were $9.99 so I had a penny left over. :D

Free striped flip-flops for signing up for a reward program? Why yes, I'll gladly trade you my personal info for free shoes. hahaha! :P

Do you know of any other stores that give you free money like that? 
I want to sign up! :)

Flip-flops: yes or no?
Big fat yes here. :) I love those things. Though I do have to slip them off to drive every time I get in the car.

p.s. This is not sponsored by Kohl's in any way. I just like free stuff and I hope you get $10 for free too. :D

need to cut grapes in half? this is a game changer!

Oh my goodness- this is a homemaking hack that's brand new to me!

How did I miss this? Amazing! I owe this guy a big thank you! {and I will make chicken salad now!}

mom hack: how we solved the toothpaste battle at our house

Here's how we solved the endless nighttime toothpaste battle among the children:

Four tubes of toothpaste = 1 per kid. And not one of those tubes belong to anyone. They have to share all of them. :)

It's been working!

In the past, either someone wouldn't share, someone wouldn't be patient, or the "kid" toothpaste was lost somewhere {where could it go? under the sink? in the dryer? stranger things have been found there!}. 

They say pick your battles, and so far I'd say buying toothpaste in bulk and using them all at the same time was a battle won. ;)

How do you do the toothpaste thing with multiple kids?

Any ideas on how to get kids to brush longer? 
I try to tell them to sing the ABC's 3x, and then they start singing out loud and spit toothpaste everywhere and laugh like it's the most hilarious thing ever. :P

what we've been up to for the last few days

A new, unwanted first happened this week: the first stomach bug in our family in over a year, and little Zane's first one ever.  :(

Apparently there's an evil bug going around that lasts for several days. :( Zaner mostly had stomach cramps instead of other symptoms, so I felt especially bad for him being so little and in such pain. It would come and go, and some days were randomly worse than others! Thankfully, he is finally getting better since yesterday.

So far it seems to be only affecting the littles- no one else in our family has gotten it. {praying that Lord-willing, we won't!}. 

It's so hard to see my babies get sick. I was thinking about it as I held him for all of those hours... what about all the children around the world who get sick and have no one to hold them and stroke their silky little heads? :(

I felt so thankful that my little Zane has a mama, and it made me ache and pray for all the little ones who were alone and felt like he did. 

And then I thought of all the mamas who have littles with chronic illnesses, and my heart hurt for them. Imagining having a baby in pain constantly, and not being able to do anything for them... oh, I need to pray for these mamas way more often. What an incredibly hard thing. And you know there are so many hurting families under this trial right now.

Even in sickness, and hours of holding babies on the sofa- there is so much to be thankful for- the blessing of health every day, the blessing of medicine and the medical help that's readily available, the blessing of a God who hears and calms our fears, for milk, pedialyte, and fresh water for the baby, for His gracious timing that we weren't all sick at the same time...

Maybe someday I will no longer be surprised by the fact that there is always so much to praise Him for. :) And hopefully by that day I will also remember that there is always someone to pray for at the same time...

Do you know of anyone we can pray for with a chronic illness today? Or any illness?

our summer so far: food, fun, and uninhibited goodness :D

Our summer has been full and delightful so far. :D I'm really enjoying the freedom of not doing school! :) {Am I even allowed to say that as a homeschooling mom? hahaha! I am so thankful for this break! :P}

We have had lots of unexpected fun, like stumbling on a splash park and going for it, fully dressed... :D

I've gotten to relax with this guy a bit more: 
The kiddos have been tagging along wherever we go, but at home they've been building forts and playing legos for hours. 

We've even enjoyed shopping for groceries {at Costco, anyway!}:

One day we got to see a real fire truck:

And we taught the kids how uncomfortable it is to sit in the back seat of a police car {a very important lesson, no?}:

I subbed two early morning fitness classes, and had the chance to have Starbucks outside before 7 a.m.!! :D 

Happy, happy, happy things. :)

We also spent last week seeing a parade of local homes for fun. One of the houses had this amazing rocking chair that was soo comfy:

Rob and I went on a date on Saturday and watched the sun set over a grape vineyard. Oh, if earth can be this gorgeous, what will heaven be like?

We could have called our date night heavenly all around. :) We ate nearly all of this!

So worth it. :) Our little tag-along even had a late night snack {it was empty ;)}:

On Sunday we had fun spending time with two of my very favorite dads:

And because my husband loves ice cream, that amazing Jersey cream turned into this sugar-free ice cream amazingness:

I used lots of Truvia and real vanilla and it tasted like Haagen Daz. OH my. I'll need a week of working out to counteract those two days of goodness. :) But they were worth it. :)

And just like that, we were back to another fun summer week. :) Hey, even if it flies by, I'll take it.

The other day I started thinking about what we need to order for homeschooling next year and my brain suddenly went on strike and completely refused to entertain any such ideas. It's much too soon. ;)

What was your favorite moment last week?
The vineyard with my man. :)

Have you ever had Jersey cow milk?
It's at least 10x better than regular dairy cow milk.

If you had to choose between fudge brownie, homemade ice cream, cheesecake, or strawberry shortcake, which one would you choose?
Clearly, you know my answer. I chose them all! :P But really, as far as favorites go it might be a close call between the brownie and the shortcake. Cake usually wins over chocolate, but brownies win over whipped cream...? cake is to brownies as ice cream is to cheesecake... :P

$25 later: I can't believe this before and after!

I mentioned earlier this week that we had an exciting DIY project going on at our house last weekend, so I wanted to share a little before and after today!! :D {reveals are my favorites!}

This reveal is not staged or clean or even finished, so don't look too closely. :P Maybe someday I will reorganize the shelves and put all the furniture back in for a full before and after with all the details. {the family closet system details are here!}

But for now we're focusing just on the floor! :) This pantry/laundry room of our very old house appears to be the original back porch when it was first built in 1895 {by wealthy furniture store owners!}. In the 1930's, another family remodeled the house to add more porch in the front, and I guess they enclosed the back too at some point. {Thus the sloped floor and the shutters inside}. This room also appears to have been the family kitchen too at some time. I love how much history it all has! :)

I've been itching to paint a floor for a while now, so when Rob said hey, let's paint the back floor, I was more than excited. :D It was looking very sad!! It was definitely my least favorite floor because it always looked dirty no matter how clean it was.

Here's proof: 

We used regular Valspar porch and floor paint. {It took about 8 hours to dry to the touch for each coat so we had to evacuate for most of the weekend to let it dry!}. He used a foam roller to roll it out on the floor.

The difference two coats later was incredible: {!!} White it was!! :D

I might be a little bit giddy. ;)

I may regret going with white floors at some point, but we're still in the honey moon stage right now, and I'm completely in love. 

It's so clean. So white. So new.

Who knew $25 worth of paint could change everything? :)

10 yummy new foods we're trying this month

We made another trip to our new home-away-from-home Costco last weekend. :) We came home much poorer thanks to their brilliant ploy of offering delicious, interesting healthy food in bulk. Oh Costco, why do you do this to me? My children may not get braces, but they will know what good food tastes like. ;)

Here's what we found:

1. Steakhouse fingerling potatoes. I have no idea what on earth got into me, but these purple potatoes called my name after finding a recipe for purple mashed potatoes in my new Forest Feast cookbook! {I haven't tried them yet! so I'm excited.}

2. Bark thins: pure EVIL in snack form. Why, oh why did I buy these? Did I not realize they would taste magical? They must be spraying some kind of happy gas at you as you enter the Costco door. If you ever want to sabotage your diet plan, these will more than do the trick. ;)

3. Dried berry/cherry fruit. Now I can't claim full responsibility for this purchase. While I did buy three bags of a few figs to stock up, Rob spotted these next to them and said "get those!" 

4. Coconut? Dried, candied coconut? I was weak. And hungry. Oh my goodness. And I've haven't had plums in ages. They are so good. And 5. Madras Lentils sound so very interesting. I can't handle legumes very often, but Rob's been eating super well, so I thought these would make a great quick lunch addition for him when we're in a bind. I'll let you know how they taste.

6. Promised land cream.  Again, I took one for the team on this one too. We have always loved Promised Land products, so when I saw the cream... you know what happened. :) 

I've already used it in my coffee and in this creamy mexican soup I made up today:

It was SO good. I am not exaggerating when I say I think it's the best soup I've ever made!! {no recipe, sorry! I'm going to try to make it again for you! coming soon, I hope!} I also have a little Father's Day surprise in mind for the rest of the cream. :)

7-9. Tuscan olive oil, pan patty squash, and fresh garlic paste. I really must be on a try new things kick this week. :) I made veggies last night and Rob said they were the best sautéed vegetables he's ever had! The pan patty squash tasted like regular yellow squash, but it was all so good mixed together with a little salt! :)

I'm quickly becoming a believer in buying better food when you can. I'm sure it goes without saying, but Tuscan olive oil is way better than regular store brand and garlic paste is way better than dried powder. And I've always loved garlic powder, so that's saying a lot. Either I must be really hungry these days, or there really is a difference in taste and quality of certain foods. :P

10. Whataburger condiments. What is this world coming to?? How is this possible? These where supposed to be a Father's Day gift but I couldn't resist giving them early. They came from a local grocery store {as did the garlic paste and fresh veggies.}. If you haven't had Whataburger ketchup, it needs to be on your bucket list. :)

And now you know why we're not going to buy groceries again for the rest of the month. We may have to eat olive oil, garlic paste, ketchup and dried fruit for dinner for the last two weeks of June, but hey- that's okay. :)

What foods have you recently tried for the first time? Any winners? 
I'll write them down for July!

What fun things could I do with those dried berries? Any ideas? 
Do you think they would rehydrate for muffins?

Whataburger: love it or not so much?
I don't even like hamburgers and I love Whataburger. It's totally the Chick-fil-a of hamburgers and fries in Texas.

this week's goals + the ultimate multitasking

Oh, you won't believe this, but my little Zaner slept for 10 hours in his crib one night last week!! Were you praying? Because I think the Lord heard you! We had a challenging week, so the sleep was much needed. :)

Summer is so much different at our house. Even with the schedule in place, the kids didn't know what to do with themselves in play time. And this week is VBS, and the oldest three are thrilled to be gone all morning. :) So we're still finding our groove. And then over the weekend we did a major DIY project which I will tell you about soon! But the goals really helped me stay focused and productive with all my extra free time, so I'm back at 'em again. :D

I did everything last week but sell the 2 items, and paint the laundry cabinets {Rob said he would spray them for me and you know I don't mind that!}. Instead of painting those cabinets, while Rob was working on the special project, I took the car to the $5 wash. ;) I washed the car and gave the baby a nap, all while putting my makeup on at the same time. {!} It was a win for mommy multi-tasking!

I was so proud. :)

Here are this week's 
DRLB goals:

:: do ::
follow our new summer schedule {afternoons}
teach/exercise 5-6 hours
sell 2 items online
clean the upstairs
sort out closet excess to sell armoire
do 1 fun craft project
make father's day gifts :)
take children to VBS daily, library and swimming
remove veneer and paint radio cabinet
forgo bread {processed carbs have been giving me headaches- SAD}

:: read ::
finish Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child^ {this has been so good. I didn't realize until I read this that the baby really needed to take longer naps}
You Are Loved: Embracing the Everlasting Love God has for You^ by Good Morning Girls/ Angela Perritt + Sally Clarkson- Week 2 Bible reading 
daily readings-  Psalm,  Gospel, epistle

:: learn ::
Psalm 103:13-14
As a father shows compassion to his children,
    so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame;
    he remembers that we are dust.

:: be ::
serious about sleeping:  this one isn't a character quality necessarily, but I want to focus on resting more myself. I would like to try to take a few naps and see if my body starts to recharge. The night the baby slept was so good, and now that we don't have to do school I can take naps again!! hallelujah. :) I also want to move my bedtime up 30 minutes to an hour earlier. Since the kids go to bed around 9:45, I shoot for 11:00- 11:30 normally, but this week I'm trying to hit 10:30- 10:45. I'm excited.

What are your goals this week?

What time do you go to bed during the week?

Any fun ideas for Father's Day crafts for kids? :)

^= Amazon affiliate links: should you purchase a book through an Amazon link in this post, I get a small percentage! :D yay!

i can't believe these came from the dollar store

I so love $1 items.
I took the kids to the Dollar Tree the other day on an errand, and I was shocked to find these sunglasses for $1 in the checkout line!

They were definitely a little cheaper in quality than my usual Target ones; they had much lighter plastic and hinges, but the lighter weight didn't bother me once they were on! Plus, I'm terrible at caring for sunglasses so I was thrilled to get them for just $1. {I normally get out of the car and drop them on the ground, or step on them in the floor board... it's a good thing I don't wear real glasses, right? ha!}. 

I usually have to pay $5-$15 per pair every summer so I was super happy to find cute oversized shades that cover my face for way less! They are perfect for the swimming pool. :)

Watch them go and last 10x longer than my expensive pairs, too. Hey, if they last a month I'll be ahead of the game! :P

Are you hard on glasses too? :P Any tips for clumsy people like me to not lose them? :)

What's your favorite dollar store find?

Ray-ban people- are higher quality glasses less prone to scratch? Does better quality make them last longer to you? I break mine at the hinges too, so I'm curious if I'm just throwing away money every summer by buying cheaper ones? I wonder which would win- quality or quantity? {At the dollar store price I guess I could buy 100 pairs for the same as one Ray-ban pair, but the 100 would have no resale value...hmmmmm...}

seeing big boys in babies, blue eyes, and money well spent

Do you ever look at your baby and wonder what they'll look like when they get bigger? I feel like I can kind of see Zane as a big boy here:

How is my baby 9.5 months old? Crazy town. That's almost a year. {!?!?!}

Also? My baby girl is almost 5 and riding without training wheels as of this weekend:

It's a little sad, I won't lie. All of my children keep growing up. :( Good thing I have a hard-working DIY painter man to console me with flowers:

That giant magnolia he pulled down lasted two days! :) And the orchid was my Mother's Day present. So far I haven't killed it, though I do have to water it precisely with one ice cube per week. {Which reminds me I need to water it since last week...urgh.}

the bird ring was from Holly Lane Designs. I still love it. :D

And the children are loving summer Lego time. I think we can officially toss all of the rest of their toys because Legos are the best pieces of overpriced plastic out there. And they are completely worth every penny. :)

Another thing worth paying extra for? Running into Braum's for basics instead of Walmart. I bought bread, chips, and very expensive half and half but I was so happy not to have to go in the store with the littles at 8:30 at night. That was a win. :)

And you probably already know this about me, but zucchini "pasta" = another huge win in my book. :) {I love it in this Raw Italian Casserole!}

You can't beat it sautéed in olive oil and topped with a little avocado!

And I think this book^ is going to help me ease back into vegetarian eating again. It's adorable {as is the Forest Feast blog!} I can't wait to leave meat behind once the baby is done nursing. It might be weird, but I loved being vegan most of the time.

In the meantime though, I will happily maintain my diet of protein and dairy to keep these baby rolls:

:D I can't stop with the baby pictures, I'm sorry. Those blue eyes kill me.

That was the look he gave me when I told him no crayons. 

We're in trouble, aren't we? ;) 

How has your week been so far?

Are you/ have you ever been vegetarian or vegan? 

Eyes: blue, green, hazel, or brown in your family? 
Rob's are green, mine are blue,  and so are all 5 of my kiddos. They all come out blue and stay that way! :) I wonder if they'll turn colors as they age?

^= amazon affiliate link