House Tour: Kitchen

I’ve had two intense posts in a row…mental health and self care.

So let’s have some fun and take a peek into the heart of our home…the kitchen!

I’ll link as many sources as I can at the bottom of this post.

And I always share the before at the end too…but let’s chat about why we designed the kitchen this way!

Our {okay mine…Alex was very good and saying “sounds awesome”} main vision for a kitchen was a huge island. We entertain A LOT and I knew we needed a large place for food and food prep.

I’m also a stay at home mom, so having a huge island for us to do playdough and crafts at was super important to me!

We didn’t use a designer in the house, but the three cabinet companies we looked at wanted the sink to be in the island. And I didn’t want that at all.

Remember…we didn’t build this house, so we were dealing with a layout that wasn’t idea. We had a door and a huge window to contend with, so we landed on a corner sink.

And I was so stressed about it being too tight around the sink. But I was SUPER pregnant…so of course I was worried about it. We’ve actually loved the corner sink!

I always had a vision of this huge statement wall with an entire wall of tile and open shelves. I didn’t even consider using cabinets there…which is actually funny to me.

Pro tip…subway tile is super inexpensive! And we had Lowe’s do it because making subway tile level in a 100 year old home was tough! It took the guy an entire wall because it was something crazy like 1000 square feet of subway tile all together.

We want to wrap the range hood with white painted wood too someday, but it’s kind of complicated so that’s put off for now!

Any of the wood details you see around the house were done by Alex!

I love being able to style these shelves different ways throughout the year!

All of the cool old books we used on the shelves were actually the previous owners. They had boxes and boxes of cool old books that they left behind and we’ve used them a ton!

Side note…this dressing is my favorite! Poppyseed…so so good!

We have SO many cabinets between the kitchen and living/dining room so we’re not hurting for storage.

But true life…we’ve moved the coffee maker THREE times. Finding the perfect coffee spot proved to be difficult!

These little hanging rods from Ikea {linked the end} are super helpful in holding cutting boards that I mainly use for cheese boards and pizzas.

It’s just a bonus that they’re pretty!

The beverage fridge was a fun addition! They aren’t that expensive and add such a fun detail! And make drinks for parties so easy!

And I know you’ll ask, Austen doesn’t really get in there often because we talk about how this fridge is for when we have guests over.

He only really drinks water, but when we have people over he gets to enjoy a juice!

Hudson however is obsessed and is in it constantly and we at any given time have three to four drinks around the house.

And are you ready for the before?

Can you even believe it?

And here we are after demo! We really wanted to integrate the brick wall into our design but it was going to be so cold because it was an exterior wall and we just couldn’t figure out a way to make it work. Plus…I really wanted that high tile wall.

Here are all of our sources. Let me know if I missed something in comments! I’ll be happy to add our exact link or find something similar for you!

Wall Color: Chantily Lace by Benjamin Moore Color Matched at Lowes

Trim Color: Chantilly Lace by Benjamin Moore Color Matched at Lowes

Cabinets: US Cabinet Depot sold by M&T Services. Kitchen is shaker in color Cinder.

Wood Stain Color: Minwax in Provincial

Faucet: Lowe’s

Sink Light: Joss and Main

Island Lights

Beverage Fridge: Target

Coffee Maker

Counters: Mont Quartz Rhapsody

Cutting Board Rods: Ikea

Cutting Board Rods: Ikea

Placemats: Ikea

Wooden Pedestal Tray: Ikea {Similar}

Clear Jars: Target

Take a peek inside our Master Bathroom and Master Bedroom too!

Let’s Talk About Self Care

I’ve been processing self care a lot lately.

We live in this world where everyone is saying “treat yo self”…all the time.

And I think a lot of us think it will make us feel better.

And it might…at the moment.

But the treat yo self life is all about momentary fixes.

Putting a band aid on a broken bone.

Never really working on the deep down issues.

I think there is absolutely a time and place for treating yourself.

A mani and pedi, a new dress, a night out, but let’s not pretend that those quick fixes are going to help us truly feel better long term.

Let’s open up the discussion on what will truly help with the long term.

This all pairs so well with my mental health post!

I’m not saying everyone needs to be doing therapy, but we need to be figuring out what will TRULY make us feel amazing.

I’ve learned a LOT since having kids about what fills me up. What recharges me. What to do when I feel anxiety or overwhelmed. The things that bring me back to neutral.

These may not be your things…but find what will truly energize you.

Here are a few of the things I do for true and deep down self care.

Gratitude

You guys…I think gratitude and perspective may be the number one thing that snaps me out of a funk. Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed, if I stop to think about my blessings…I immediately put myself in my place.

Negativity is toxic and there should be very few places for it in your life.

The other day Austen had a ROUGH dentist appointment, and I got home and felt so defeated, and then I was like you know what…I’m not walking my child through cancer…we can do this!

Get in the habit of thinking gratitude first…even in the hardest of situations.

Sometimes it’s not easy, and I’ve had to train myself to think that way! But getting into that practice will fill you up.

Get Moving

I do not like to work out.

Never have…and probably never will.

But I work out six if not seven days a week.

Those endorphins are worth every second of it.

Legally Blond was not wrong. Exercise give you endorphins…endorphins make you happy…and happy people don’t kill their husbands.

Any legally blond fans out there?

It’s the second thing I do when I’m feel anxiety creep in. I do an online workout, get outside for a walk, turn on music and dance with my boys…I just move.

If you’re like me and hate working out…find something active that you do enjoy doing.

A dance class, a hike, yoga, crossfit, something active with a friend.

And if you hate the idea of it…STILL DO IT.

Because scientist do not lie…exercise is good for our body.

Do the hard things…the hard things are typically worth it.

Meditation

I’m not a yogi, and I’m actually still learning how to meditate, but The Calm App has been INCREDIBLY helpful in my self care routine.

They have a free trial, but I do the year subscription. They have guided meditation, sleep stories, and even meditations and sleep stories designed for kids that I’ve been doing with Austen once a week.

Some days, I’m able to sit for the entire meditation…others I’m all over the place, but dang it I’m determined to learn to stop and get quiet when I’m feeling overwhelmed or anxious.

And most importantly…I want to teach my boys that this is a tool to help them calm and simply be.

I also just bought Simply Sadie Jane’s Mindful meditations for kids and women and have just dipped my toe into them, but I’m excited to jump in!

Then there absolutely is a time and place for treating yourself!

I love a good pedicure, a breakfast alone {which I never thought I would say but that’s what children will do to you}, a new outfit, a new pair of earrings {who is surprised by that}, going out for drinks with friends, a fun date night, a night in a hotel alone {again…kids changed this extrovert a bit}, getting creative {I honestly love printing off adult coloring sheets and coloring my heart out like a five year old}.

I’d love to know what you do for self care! Give me some ideas!

And open up the discussion! Do you agree with me? Is this a totally new way of thinking? Be respectful, but if you disagree…challenge me on it!

Pictures by Tasha Pinelo

Let’s Talk Mental Health

This is going to be a long one friends…but I’ve answered your Instastory questions below, so if you’re not a reader..scroll down and check out the Q&A!

May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

So let’s talk mental health.

Why am I passionate about it?

Well it’s a huge part of my story to a life of love.

My dad is bipolar, so mental health has been staring me in the face for my entire life.

My dad and his mental health is a whole other story for another day.

Let’s talk my mental health.

Because of the trauma of having a father with serious mental health issues, I’ve been super aware of the benefits of proper mental health care…and the ramifications of ignoring your mental health.

But I didn’t start seeking counseling until after Alex and I got married.

And to be honest…it was primarily for the respect and honor of my husband.

It was HARD for him to hear me discuss my past.

It was HARD for him to hear me discuss the pain.

He listened and respected me for so long…but finally..my sweet quiet husband said…

I think this needs to be heard by a professional…because I don’t know how to help you process all of this.

It was a wake up call…there are professionals out there who have studied and paid a lot of money to learn how to help people process their feelings.

My husband is an IT Admin…not a professional therapist.

So I went to a therapist recommended to me, and it was cathartic.

Having someone to stop me and say…”wait…process that more.”

Having a professional validate me and my feelings.

Having someone stop me and say…”that was not okay”

Having someone be honest…and call me out if my feelings were inappropriate.  

But honestly…as amazing as that therapist was…she wasn’t the right fit.

So I stopped going for a while.

Because here’s the honest truth…finding a therapist might take some time.

It might take a few tries to find a good fit for you!

And then I had Austen

And I quickly realize that I had unpacked my FEELINGS…but not the RESULTS of those feelings.

I had anger and frustration and my actions were not ones that I wanted Austen to learn.

I didn’t truly figure out how to handle and deal with the ramifications of my childhood.

I will never forget one specific day when I was trying to get my workout in and Austen was FUSSY! So fussy!

I got him out of his crib and got him some toys to play with on the floor so I could get my last 10 minutes in.

And he cried…SUPER mad I had put him down.

And I kid you not guys…I screamed as loud as I could, threw my weights down AND STOMPED MY FEET.

Like a toddler.

So I called Alex and told him “when Austen throws his first tantrum and he throws his toy and screams and stops his feet…you’ll know he learned that from HIS MOTHER.”

Right then I knew that had to change.

So guess who found Lelia a therpist.

MY HUSBAND.

I’m so thankful he did…and I want to tell you I scoured the internet for days and found the perfect one.

Nope…Alex found my therapist…in our network…and she just happened to be a behavioral therapist.

I made the appointment..went…and in that first appointment she gave me a HUGE light bulb moment.

She said…in those moments of anger, could you stop what you’re doing, get Austen in a safe space and then continue with what you’re doing?

Freaking simple. Are you kidding me?

Stop…nurse my child to make him settled and happy and THEN do my workout?

You guys…it changed it all.

She has helped me to have dozens of light bulb moments that have changed my life.

Then in December, our insurance changed and she wasn’t in our network.

So here we go again…I have to start all over finding another therapist and unload all of my baggage again and start from ground zero.

I tried to find a new therapist and nothing felt right.

So I texted her and asked if she would be willing to just accept $100 out of pocket once a month.

And she said absolutely!

Would she have done that for anyone? I don’t know…but we had built a relationship. She saw the fruit of her hard work…so maybe she’s making a little less than she would through insurance. But I think she saw the benefit in accepting a little less to continue on a journey with someone.

I’m so so thankful for that!

{Also…right this very second I’m stopping writing this blog post to text her and thank her for doing just that…I’m trying to be more intentional in following those little nudges that tell me to call or text someone…do the same friends! }

Text sent…okay…let’s continue!

Here’s what I want you to hear!

  1. Your spouse is not and should not be your therapist. Even if they are a trained professional.

Seek counsel from someone other than friends and family.

2. IT IS NOT WEAK TO SEE A THERAPIST.

3. Do not wait until “the shit hits the fan” to see a counselor.

DO NOT DO IT.

Alex and I have done therapy in our happiest of times…because sometimes it’s helpful to have someone else help us process our feelings.

Especially for men who have a hard time verbalizing emotions.

4. Do not force your husband to do therapy.

You go first. Model that behavior and show them the positive fruits of your investment.

5. Don’t stop because your therapist isn’t the right fit for you…keep on keeping on until you find someone you’re comfortable with!

Okay…let’s answer those questions!

These are questions that were asked on Instastories…if you have more…DM me on Instagram or comment below and I will answer any and all questions!

How did you find your therapist?

Alex actually found my current therapist on Physcology Today. He sent me a few profiles that looked interesting and I just called one. And she was THE one. Follow your gut friends!

Why do you do behavioral therapy and what’s the difference between than and typical therapy?

So it was 100% by accident that I found a behavioral therapist, but I’m so thankful I did! If I get to the point where I need medication, I will seek counsel, but for now, having my therapist help me to recognize a behavior I don’t like and working with me to figure out a new behavior is exactly what I need.

How much does it cost?

A lot of insurance companies will cover four or five sessions. Our old insurance has an HSA so some was covered by the insurance and the other came out of our HSA. This new insurance didn’t cover her, and I wanted to stick with her so I just asked if she would accept $100 a session once a month and she agreed. It’s just a part of our monthly budget and it’s investment I feel like I’m making in my future AND my children’s future because I’m teaching and modeling what I’m learning.

Where do I start?

First step is find out if and what your insurance covers! Most insurance companies have a website where you find a doctor in your network. So that’s the first step. Search the website and then call a few and ask some questions. Then make an appointment and be open and listen.

What happens during a therapy session?

I think your first session is really just a get to know you and what’s on your heart. Let your therapist lead! Take a deep breath and let the conversation happen. If you’re nervous…let them know! If you’re feeling anxious…let them know. Talk to them and be open for what they have to say!

What type of marriage counseling have you done?

Just to protect my sweet quiet husband…I don’t think we’re quite ready to share that yet. But If you’re seeking marriage counseling…do the exact same thing as I said for what to start!

Let me know if you have any other questions! I’d love to answer them!

Picture by the talented Tasha Pinelo

Not Today Satan Mug

Our Favorite Kid Board Games

Wendels love us some board games…Austen especially!

At any given moment, we usually have two to three board games out.

But let’s just be honest…it took a while for him to figure out this whole board game thing.

Teaching a new board game is pretty hilarious, but the more games we learn, the quicker he picks them up!

Because he loves board games so much, we’ve collected quite a few, so I’ll link a bunch of our favorites!

{Also…real life picture…see that sideways spider up there…yup…found that behind the bush in the yard from HALLOWEEN…seven months ago. So it got stuffed in the cabinet}

I do have a few tips for teaching kiddos board games!

One: Simplify Them

You don’t have to play the game exactly as it’s designed…simplify the game in the beginning!

Even games like connect four…they don’t need to connect four people! Just let them make patterns with the colors, fill up the columns with the same color, work on fine motor skills when they’re 12-18 months.

Two: Take it One Rule At A Time

When it comes to games with cards and spinners, let them learn one simple rule at a time. Like with Chutes and Ladders…ignore the chutes and ladders part. Just get them to understand the spinning and moving spaces part. That takes a while to grasp!

Three: Let Them Win…but Model How To Lose

It’s important for us to model to our kids how to lose a game well. When/if they win, say “man…you were so good at that game…awesome job! Maybe I’ll win next time!”

If you want them to learn to lose gracefully…lose gracefully!

Here are a few of our favorite games!

Marvel Matching: In the beginning, we would lay them all face up and just match them that way. It wasn’t until age 3.5 that we played the game for real.

Sequence for Kids: This is such a fun game that is a variation of the classic Sequence Alex’s grandparent’s love. Everyone has a colored token and you pick cards that match to an animal, you’re supposed to try to get four-five animals in a row. We honestly just play it like match but not that Austen is 4 he’s understanding the idea of strategy and getting them in a row.

Seek A Boo: You can play with game a million different ways and make it easier or harder as you go! I shared this last Christmas and I’m pretty sure y’all bought out every Target in the Cincinnati area! It’s such a good game for ALL ages!

Hi Ho Cherry-O: Such a classic kids game but I think honestly half of the game is just organizing the fruits into their trees. Austen used to do this for a solid 30 minutes just for fun.

Chutes and Ladders: Okay Austen is legit amazing at this game and beats us every time! I think he has the spinner rigged.

Guess Who: You guys…this game is SO hilarious with kids! Austen always asks us questions that go exactly with the person HE has. But he loves it so much! It’s one of our favorites for sure!

Hungry Hungry Hippo: Just an honest excuse to get some aggression out, but Hudson loves chasing after those tiny balls.

Connect Four: We bought this for Austen but Hudson actually plays with it the most! He actually goes to the game closet and picks it out to play all the time! It is so good for fine motor skills and he’s even understanding the idea of color organization which makes my OCD mama heart proud.

Zingo: This is a MUST buy! We actually bought this and left it in Florida so I just bought us a new one, but it’s like Bingo with with this amazing gadget that picks the objects. Please promise me you’ll buy it for your child!

Go Fish: My mom actually just bought this game for Austen and he is LOVING it. Totally forgot about Go Fish! But teaching him to hold the cards is HILARIOUS so I need to buy a pair of these!

Fishing Game: Why is this game so fun? We bought a ton of these cheap simple games to keep at Austen’s parent’s condo in Florida and we had so much fun with it! Hudson just dumped them fish out and put them back in again…but if it holds their attention…I don’t care what they do with it!

And then here are a few games that are on my radar to purchase and look like fun!

Animal Jenga: That’s not what it’s called on Amazon…but that’s pretty much what it is! Jenga but you have to pull out the animal that you draw. But you could totally just use them as blocks to stack like animals! So cute!

Super Hero Chutes and Ladders: Dang it super hero themed things…take all of our money!

Don’t shy away friends…teach the board games…play them…and get ready to be beat because Austen truly wins 9/10 times.

You guys…I finally figured out affiliate links! Please don’t feel obligated to buy through my links but it does mean a lot for my growing blog! Thanks for all of the love encouragement!

Dress / Shoes / Earrings

Incredible Pictures by Tasha Pinelo

Our “Love On People” Stand

As I mentioned in our very first blog post on Wendels Love, our first and last family mission statement tenants are “Wendel’s Love”

We pray that we can teach our boys to instinctively act in love.

Weather that be protecting a friend or helping someone do a project and giving a hug to someone in need.

The ONLY way to teach that, is for us to model that.

So we do…whenever we possibly can!

One of the simplest ways we’ve done that is through this “lemonade” stand Alex made for us.

I’ll give all of the details for how he made this is ONE day…but the actual stand is not the important part to us.

Yes…it’s cute and pretty…but the idea behind it is what is important to our family.

This lemonade stand has provided water to delivery truck drivers. Snacks for the mail workers when they were working crazy hours when the government shut down. Provided lemonade when the millionth Amazon driver delivers my random household good.

These crates have provided extra drinks…so my boys can fill in the empty spots and hand out waters to people who are walking by.

We almost didn’t do this snack stand because I worried it looked like we were being showy…and then I got a nudge during my quiet time.

God speaking some serious truth into me…

No one else knows your intentions….only you do. And people’s possibly negative opinions of you say more about them than they do about you.

I was letting fear of people’s negative opinions get in the way of our family blessing people.

Freaking fear…you have NO PLACE IN THE WENDEL HOUSE.

We actually did this around Christmas time and just kept filling it up…because the workers truly appreciated it. We were blessing them with simple things from Aldi.

And we will continue. On the last day of school…we will have free popsicles. On the fourth of July…we will have free waters. In the summer…we will provide free lemonade and sweet treats and whatever else we thing of. One random nice summer right…we might do free hot dogs.

I want our kids to freely give love and help whenever possible.

Because that’s what Wendels do…Wendels LOVE.

And now because I know you’re curious about how Wendel made this in one day. The crates are from Michaels, and them it’s just a few boards from Lowe’s. We stained them quickly with our favorite stain in Provincial {which is the same stain we’ve used on the floors in our house} and sprayed a board with chalk board paint. Boom.

Now granted…Mr Wendel is super handy…but this could ABSOLULY be a weekend job! And there are 100 million tutorials on Pinterest. I’m not trying to be a DIY blog…but there are so many who do them well!

Do you and your family have rhythms for loving on the people around you?

I’d love to hear you inspirations and ideas!

Pictures by The Amazing Tasha Pinelo

House Tour: Master Bedroom

Today is day two of our home tour! Last month we shared our master bathroom, and this month we’re spilling all of the beans on the master bedroom!

Remember, all details and links will be at the bottom of this post!

We wanted our room to be cozy relaxing. But I wanted to make sure to add lots of texture to the room where ever I could!

We just recently added this grid detail..and dang was it hard! We found out, as we were starting, that our ceiling is slanted. Now…this is a 100 year old home. It’s not level at all. But the two sides of the ceiling are 1.5 inches different. Which is HUGE. So we knew we couldn’t go all the way to the ceiling with the grid detail. So we went as high as we felt comfortable, and I think I’ll add some art of some sort above. Any ideas?

We actually bought these pillows in our first year of marriage from Etsy and were SUPER surprised when the package came from Africa. It was so amazing to support a women artist in flipping Africa! We love these pillows! I don’t know if they make these pillows again, but I liked their shop below!

I really love setting up little staged side tables, but Alex will have nothing to do with it UNLESS it’s functional. So this brown box actually holds charging cords.

I was listening to Young House Love Has A Podcast and they were talking about the book Joyful {which is now on my book list} but they were talking about how the decorative things you bring into your house should bring you joy. When I saw this beetle at Target I legit lit up. It was so random and hilarious but I knew I needed it. Austen and Hudson love it and I smile every time I see it.

A huge object of questions on Instagram is about our wardrobes…which are from Ikea! I looked up our before pictures of this space, that there was a tiny closet in this room! Scroll down to see those pictures. You can read in the master bathroom post about why we have these instead of an actual closet and how we use them…but here are some detail shots of how we organize them!

My hats hang on the side…I need to swap out my summer hats…and I think I want to add some hooks for hats on Alex’s side as well.

I have SUPER minimized my closet and I could probably eliminate 10 more hanging items from this closet. Actually since this shoot I’ve totally KonMari’d the drawers.

These ikea containers help contain my socks, and underwear, and swimsuits.

And Alex just stapled some window screen {found at Lowes} onto the inside door so I can hang my earrings up.

I used to have like 50 necklaces, but I just went through them and only picked my very favorite to wear! They’re just hanging on 3M hooks.

And then I just bought one of these jewelry dividers to store my rings and earring that can’t be hung up. They used to just be in a bowl, but this is much more functional.

We just added a desk to our room and I’m LOVING it. It’s so nice to have a specific spot to journal, or blog or shop online!

The desk is from Target and the chair is borrowed from our dining table haha but I’m looking for a really cool bright colored upholstered chair! I’ll find it someday!

I’d also love to add some really cool artwork to that wall to the left of my desk! I’m thinking some beautiful watercolor.

Again…we really like our decore to be functional, so this beautiful container on my desk holds by bracelets.

We have a fireplace in our master! We’re so fancy. We actually didn’t think it would be functioning…but we sold an actual kidney {not really but pretty much} and got a gas line ran and put an insert in.

This beautiful mantel is original to the house, but Alex did all of the tile work and the wood detail on the fireplace!

I really need to find something cool to put on the mantel. I’m not great at decorating mantels…I usually just add candles. Anyone have amazing inspiration for me?

This beautiful brass fireplace surround is a whole story…it’s original but we took it off to tile and because Alex isn’t professional we didn’t make sure to fit the surround in BEFORE we tiled. We figured it would fit right back on…nope.

So we need to have someone come and fix that…all of that to say…things aren’t perfectly perfect around the house. There are still things and flaws to fix but that’s okay! No one’s house is perfect and totally finished. No one.

Our bedroom really is such a calm place. It wasn’t when we first moved in. This room evolved over time. We slowly added things and tweek’d it until we got it to where it is now. And we still have little details we want to add or change. That’s what makes things fun to me. Changing out art, adding wood details, handing accessories. I love the process of making a house a home.

And before…we all love to see befores…here you go!

Can you even believe this is the same room? I totally forgot about that strange ceiling and the radiators! We removed all of them and did new HVAC.

I also forgot that we added the door into the bathroom! So many changes I totally forget about!

This original chandler is actually in our entry way now. We had it restored and rewired and it was just too stunning to be hidden upstairs so we installed it in the entry. And with all of the chandelier’s crystals and our beveled glass front door…it’s pretty magical!

And I totally forgot there was a tiny closet on this wall. So glad we got rid of that so this wall could be all bed and we could add that cool grid detail!


Here are all of our sources. Let me know if I missed something in comments! I’ll be happy to add our exact link or find something similar for you!

Wall Color: Secreto by Benjamin Moore Color Matched at Lowes

Trim Color: Chantilly Lace by Benjamin Moore Color Matched at Lowes

Bed: Amazon

Bedding Set: Target

Sheets: Target

Desk: Target

Closet System: Ikea

The PAX Ikea system is super customizable so you’ll just have to measure your space and figure out what is the right formation. We used the GRIMO door. You buy the frames and then the doors and all of the indoor accessories separate. We used them at our old house as well and love them.

Drawer containers: Ikea

Earring Tray: Amazon

Lamps: Target

Bug: Target Opalhouse Line Old

Desk Books: Homebody and Cut Flower Garden

Bug Container: Target Opalhouse Line Old

All pictures by the incredibly talented Tasha Pinelo

{Setting Your Car Up For Summer}

This was a crazy asked for post! I did instastories last summer showing you the inside of my car and dang…y’all were passionate about this topic!

You’re just my people.

So here we are…all of the details of what we keep in our car to help us stay prepared for summer fun!

We have a mini van…which I didn’t even realize people had a hang up about until recently.

But we freaking love our van! We tote lots of kids around, so it’s important for us to have the space even, though we only have two kids.

We always keep the left side of our third row down to fit our double stroller unless we need all of the seats. Then we just shift things but everything does actually fit in the trunk!

Yes…people ask me all the time…I do totally use my double stroller even though Austen is almost four. He gets tired leaving the zoo or a park and I don’t want to have to carry him. So we always bring the double with us.

In the space on the right hand side is where we keep all of our goodies.

Two main bins.

One for essentials…and one for toys, which I’ll talk about in a second.

In the essentials box we keep the following: snacks {usually granola bars and raisins because they hold up well in the heat}, sunscreen, a first aid kit {with neosporin, bandaids, and a bug bite stick}, my makeup kit { with pony tail holders, bobby pins, lip gloss, an eyebrow pencil because I’ve officially become my mother, and small brunch}, extra swim trucks/ shirts {I buy cheap ones from Walmart just in case we randomly hit a splash pad after being out or I forget mine}, swim diapers/regular diapers, wipes, and plastic bags for wet/gross clothes.

Next thing is my cooler/lunch box. I got this at Target last year, but this pineapple one…I’m obsessed! I saw the same version of mine in store, but I can’t find them online! I love this one because it’s a backpack so I can wear it or Austen can wear it and it’s just the right size to hold lunches for our little family. The last thing I want to be doing is lugging a huge cooler around with me.

In my lunch cooler I keep our lunches, the boys waters, and a protein shake for me to have if I need it.

We’re still using the Camelbak water bottles but I’m not loyal to that brand so we may try out a new one this summer! If you have a kids water bottle you love, let me know! I think we might try these next!

You guys I bought four different types of lunchboxes and this is what won for our family.

Here’s why these won: they hold more food than most of the lunchboxes and our boys eat a good amount, they are less expensive than most brands, they can be put through the dishwasher, and they weren’t too big for my cooler. I don’t really need them to stay cold for the entire day…just a few hours. And I loved the larger compartments.

Next up is this chair! If you have a young toddler…THIS IS A MUST HAVE! It’s like a tiny soccer chair that has a tray. I love it for keeping Hudson put to eat and not wondering around. But last summer he was sitting up and that way he could sit on his own and I could eat my lunch. I love it so much that we bought another one and keep it in the house for eating on the front porch!

These are two things everyone forgets: a big picnic blanket and at least one, if not two, towels in our car! The towels are amazing to wipe down dewy slides in the morning or help when I forget a towel for the pool. I always underestimate how many towels we will need at a splash pad! And I can’t even believe how often I pull out this blanket at parks!

We typically have Austen’s scooter in the car. We just grab it before we leave to go to parks. Not necessary, but I’ll usually text friends to see if they’re bringing scooters. The micro mini is our favorite, but we also love the Radio Flyer. And please y’all…make your kids use helmets!

And then ALWAYS a basket of balls/toys. I used to keep them in a bag, but this basket is going to work out so much better! Just trust me! It’s easier to throw things into an open basket than a bag and it stays more organized in the car. But I have a few balls of different sizes, trucks, a few pails and shovels, and bubbles.

Now for my few tips for the inside of the car!

Snack bag. But wait…you have snacks in that essentials box. I have this right by my side in the car so I can dish our snacks as I’m driving. The car on the way home from things is when my boys start to melt down because they’re hot, tired, and usually…hungry. Plus, sometimes we don’t plan to be out all morning and I don’t bring lunch and they’re starving. These snacks will hold us over. Granola bars, pretzels, applesauce squeezes, raisins, oranges, things that won’t melt in the car!

And for the most unnecessary but my favorite thing and what is keeping our car clean these days…these tiny little cup colder sized trash cans. Come on guys….can you handle? Again…unnecessary…a bag would do. But HOW FREAKING CUTE? Pro tip…empty them when you get gas…boom!

I also got a new diaper bag this year…and it’s from Walmart! The camo is sold out online, but check in store! I heard so many bloggers talking about it so I needed to check it out. It lives up to the hype. We have our original black diaper backpack still, but we keep it stocked in Alex’s car for when he takes the boys in his car.

Who wants to know what I keep in my diaper bag? Or is that boring?

I usually get things put back together every other day. Make sure I restock things, make sure to get new towels, etc. But having a prepared car helps so much when you’re out and about with kids!

Let me know if you have any other suggestions or questions!

Beautiful photos by Tasha Pinelo

Easter Basket Inspiration

{Because I know a lot of y’all don’t have the time to read a blog post…I’ll cut to the chase and here’s my Amazon Easter List…but we did some things from Target too so keep reading for those links}

Y’all know I love a holiday…and am I the only one that gets a unique feeling about each holiday?

Easter brings the feeling of deep breaths and fresh air.

As I type that…it sounds cheesy…but it’s true.

However, I always get so excited to breath new fresh air into our home during spring and prepare for the celebration of Easter!

We don’t really buy lots of toys throughout the year. More about my thoughts on that later, so I always use holidays as an opportunity to fill in some gaps in our toys.

Easter tends to be preparing for outside and pool play.

New swim suits, new chalk, new bubbles, swim shoes, sunglasses etc.

This year we also bought a new bubble machine because ours got kicked last year. Like literally kicked by another child. But this is our favorite bubble machine.

And then of course we add a little candy in there! We like the Bunny Dum Dums and Kinder eggs for Austen because he adores building the little toys.

We invested in good Easter baskets two years ago from Pottery Barn and we’ll use them until they’re 30. And yes…I will still fill Easter baskets when they are 30…okay? We did the large size and the navy gingham.

For Hudson we got a few more Wubanubs {because we lost a few of them while on vacation }, some palm grasp crayons, and chalk holders {because he loves chalk but eats it without the holders} all of which are linked in my Easter list!

Austen’s is Avengers themed and 90% of it came from the Dollar Store. They have an amazing selection of Disney things for kids!

We also got Austen have these Avenger swim trunks from Target coming in the mail {they have them in store but were out of his size.} We also bought these tiny Avenger figures and we’ll put those in Easter eggs for our hunt on Easter morning. We actually already have the figurines but we lost his two favorites in Florida so he will actually lose his mind when he sees Captain America and Iron Man and I can not wait!

Are these bears not the cutest things ever? Alex’s mom and aunt got these for all of the kids last year, and the boys still adore them! They’re from Personal Creations!

As far as egg stuffers go, we’ve got a wide variety of ages we do egg hunts for. We obviously have Austen {4} and Hudson {1.5} and we’ll do an inside egg hunt on Easter morning. And then we host my family Easter morning and we have six nieces and nephews that range in age from 21-8 and then Austen and Hudson so we do a mixture of candy and money for them. This year we also were doing an Easter egg hunt with our moms group, for Austen’s class, and for an Easter brunch with my mom tribe.

We’re not lacking in Easter egg hunts this year!

For the moms club egg hunt I got egg stampers, for Austen’s class class egg hunt we did Tootsie eggs and bunny crayons from Dollar Tree, and for our mom tribe egg hunt we did these tiny finger flash lights. And then for our cousin egg hunt we’ll do money, some candy and some of these eraser puzzles. You can find these erasers in the Target party aisle as well.

A lot of you have asked about our favorite Easter books as well, so I linked a lot of them in my Amazon Easter List. We also love all of the Usbourne “That’s Not My” books so we have the bunny and chick ones.

We might be doing a little Usbourne giveaway soon…so be on the lookout for that!

And that’s about it! Don’t forget to print off some of our favorite Easter printable activities from this post!

Happy shopping friends!

Pictures by the amazing Tasha Pinelo

Toddler Easter Activities

Being a stay at home mom to two under four, I’m constantly searching for way to keep them entertained without using the TV.

Because I was a teacher before staying home with Austen, I obviously gravitate towards educational activities…and y’all 90% of them come from free printables from Pinterest!

So I figured I would make things super easy and link everything up for you!

Enjoy, and make sure to tag me if you use any of these activities!

Love seeing what you’re doing with your kiddos!

This printable has a variety of worksheets using charting and math skills, so you can use this for older children as well!

I had Austen organize his jelly beans above and then line them up so he could see the different lengths. I added the colors so Austen could easily identify, but he’s actually starting to make connections to the beginning letter and the color, so that’s exciting to watch!

Jelly Bean Math Source

Austen is finally getting into tracing. It took him to awhile to get the attention span to complete activities like this! I’m actually working on a post on how we worked on Austen’s attention span! Coming in a few weeks!

I recommend letting a young child use a marker or get some of these wide grip pencils. Children don’t develop the muscles to hold a typical pencil until they are around the age of 6, so having these wide grip pencils aids in building those muscles!

Easter Word Tracing Source

These are a few links to printables that we used a ton this year, but I just didn’t snap a picture when we used them! You know we love dotting so that had to be included! We’ve started using dot stickers as well with the dotting worksheets!

Easter Number Trace Source

Easter Dotting Source

And while these aren’t worksheets, we have LOVED making lunches and snacks in these egg cartons! Austen loves them so much, and this year he got really into making them for Hudson which has been so sweet! I also bought these this year to switch it up a bit! 

On Friday I have our Easter post! All of the details on our Easter baskets and what we are stuffing in our Easter eggs for the FOUR different Easter egg hunts we have this year! In the mean time, here’s my Amazon Easter list for you with some of our favorite things!

House Tour: Master Bathroom

It’s finally time…we’re so excited to share the first room on our home tour…the master bathroom.

We bought and rehabbed our home in the summer/fall of 2017 and it was quite the journey!

You can read all about the journey to getting our house here.

The master bedroom is by far my favorite room in our house.

It’s everyone’s favorite…so let’s do this!

All sources will be linked at the end of the post…so scroll down for paint colors and links. If I missed something…let me know in the comments and I can try to link it or something similar!

Pre-rehab, this room was a bedroom. We {and by we I mean our contractors} had to do a lot of work to get all of the plumbing to work up here.

Scroll down for a few pre and during rehab photos!

We went through about a million layouts for the bathroom. Mainly trying to figure out how to have a large shower and my dream tub AND a nice big walk in closet.

It was just not working out. So we chose to make a smaller closet, and use Ikea cabinets in our bedroom that you’ll see once you scroll down.

I love the symmetry we have with the shower and closet being the same size and shape.

It’s funny because I always dreamed of having a place to sit and do my makeup, so we designed the cabinetry for that purpose….and I never sit to do my makeup.

So we’re hoping to get a cabinet to fill that space that has just drawers for more storage.

The shower is so dreamy! And the acoustics are perfect for shower singing…just saying.

We do regret not getting a double faucet and I wish we had put a larger nook for our shower things. But other than that we LOVE it!

This tub is my dream, and some days it’s like the carrot to the end of my day…just waiting until I can melt into a hot bath!

Any other crazies out there who love their bath like crazy hot?

Alex built me this amazing shelf so I can rest my iPad and shampoo and all that jazz…and even a spot for my glass of wine!

The majority of our clothes are in our Ikea cabinetry in our master room.

Scroll down to see a peek, but I’ll be sharing more of those in our master bedroom reveal.

But this closet is where I keep a lot of my shoes, all of my coats, etc.

We were blessed with 10 ft ceilings, so to use that space we have a SUPER high rod where we hang things we don’t need all the time {Alex’s suits, and dress shirts, my off season items}

Alex actually installed all of our closets using the Closet Maid system from Home Depot.

You can customize things easily, so we were able to make each closet how we like it!

We have this whole column of square bins to hold our hats, belts, purses, etc.

And then there’s my boot rod. We did this at our old house and people were always amazed by it. I probably saw it on Pinterest, but it works amazingly! I just use hooks meant for skirts and hang those beauties up!

We don’t have a coat closet downstairs, so this is where we hold the majority of our coats and jackets.

This is a peek at our Ikea system we use in our master room.

I’ll be sharing all of those details in April!

People are always amazed by how I hang my hats…just cheap hooks from Amazon friends!

There she is friends. She’s like a sparkly jewel and we love her!

Here are all of our sources. Let me know if I missed something in comments! I’ll be happy to add our exact link or find something similar for you!

Paint Color: Secreto by Benjamin Moore Color Matched at Lowes

Trim Color: Chantilly Lace by Benjamin Moore Color Matched at Lowes

Bathtub: Signature Hardware

Bathtub Faucet: Signature Hardware {Similar}

Tub Shelf: DIY by Mr. Wendel

Curtains: Ikea

Curtain Rods: Ikea

Fake Greenery in Tub Shelf: Ikea

Apothecary Jar: Home Goods

Rug: Target {Similar}

Mirrors: Ikea

Picture Frames: Target

Vanity Lights: Wayfair

Chandelier: Wayfair

Shower Door: Dickies Glass {Local}

All Tile: Tile Shop

Toilet: Lowes

All of the beautiful pictures above by Tasha Pinelo

Non professional pictures below of renovation process by a very pregnant Lelia

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