11/29/13

friday deals + fabkids.

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Happy Friday Friends! We've been listening to Christmas music all day long, our house is clean, we've had plenty of playtime with friends and family and life is good. In fact, I'm even feeling a bit in the "Black Friday" mood. I never, ever (ever) shop on black friday. Maybe it's all those years of working retail in high school and on college breaks. I even went back to retail (management) when I couldn't find a job after college. Those long work hours and the craziness of the mall put a bad taste in my mouth.

This year though, I'm feeling in the spirit. I'm ready to shop and I'm ready to wrap!

FabKids is offering some great deals. For Black Friday, all outerwear is under $30, girls dresses start at 14.95 and boys tees at $9.95! You can take advantage of these deals here.

*FabKids is a sponsor of Yellow Finch. Outfits c/o FabKids

11/27/13

reflecting and redirecting.

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Last night I had a moment where I became caught up in the whirlwind of the holidays. I found myself stressing over my to-do list, becoming anxious over my house chores and pondering how I would accomplish all the dishes and desserts I desired to make. While I probably should have gone downstairs to switch out laundry, I decided to go to bed. A good decision.

It is so easy to loose track during the holidays. To become consumed in the not so important aspects that tend to linger around. To cave into materialism, to shy away from real meanings. To bring unwanted and unnecessary stress into your home.

I am guilty of it every year, I just hope I caught myself early enough this year that I can get back on track.

We woke up to a snow day today! Shrills of laughter and high pitched squeaks bounced around our room as the kids jumped for joy (after Jonas panicked because he thought we overslept and were late for school.)It felt good to have a lazy day. We started it off right, with coffee and breakfast of course! But after that morning routine, the kids and I gathered in the kitchen and got to work. As a Thanksgiving tradition, we made side dishes for those who are not as fortunate in our community. For those families who need a helping hand, because at one point in our lives we all need a helping hand. I want my children to understand the importance of reaching out to others, to picking someone up when they are down, to offering a hand or a hug or even just time.

I try to teach my children to live simply, to value life, family and friends.
To give back to their community. To me, this is the meaning behind Thanksgiving. Yes, we gather and we give thanks, but it is also about kindness, love and patience. It is about leading from the heart and offering open hands to anyone who needs them.

I hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving.
I hope you find time to embrace your kindness
to sit with family or friends
to give thanks
to savor the good food
to laugh a little
and enjoy life.

*Jessica's vest c/o Pop Out Clothing, for more photos you can visit Babiekins Blog

11/25/13

47/52

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Jonas: Curious and eager while in the kitchen.
Joshua: Bundled up and cold.
Jessica: In deep conversation over an afternoon picnic.

Thank you Jodi for hosting this series.

11/24/13

sunday stills. photo 47

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A single photo once a week.
To capture my emotions, to sum up the days.
To collect my thoughts and hold them in my hands.

Every Sunday, one photo.

On this Sunday: If you turn your head, these two may just help themselves to the ice cream bin in the restaurant kitchen. Smart little kids.

Part of our sunday tradition is taking a family trip to the restaurant. While Jon makes his rounds and catches up on work, the kids and I run free and wild. An old empty restaurant is the ideal location for hide and seek or a game of tag. This sunday we made up a new one "chase the turkey" which turned into a chaotic round of running.

But this chaos brings me happiness.

When I turned me head for a second, the boys quickly grabbed a bowl and dipped their hands into the ice cream bin. I can't say no when they hand me a mound of vanilla ice cream and ask for milkshakes. I know the work it takes to scoop that frozen goodness. I know how hard they worked. I know their determination.

So we sipped our chocolate milkshakes topped with a towering mass of whipped cream while snow briskly lingered in the air outside.

11/21/13

mother daughter days.

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wed

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jessbenders

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With the boys in school all day I have special time set aside just for mother daughter days with Jessica. I know that next year she will start a preschool program so I am determined to embrace every moment I have with her. We have our library time, music time, play time, book time and even snuggle in bed fall asleep together time.

We also set aside one day a week for lunch dates. Sometimes they are days when we pack up and head to visit Jon at the restaurant and other days we hit some local lunch spots. And of course, we always stop for hot cocoas before we pick the boys up from school!

Jess is wearing a FabKids dress and leggings.
You can check out more of their fall and holiday trends, for boys and girls, at Fabkids.com
This dress quickly became a favorite, but she had a little stubborn spell and didn't want to take off her coat. I'll make sure to share it it another post. Thank you for supporting FabKids who helped make this post possible.

11/20/13

messy mudrooms + fabkids.

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When you walk through our door and into our mudroom you most likely will stumble upon piles of shoes, backpacks and coats. I set out multiple baskets (the shoe one, the hat one, the soccer ball one) but all this "stuff" just seems to end up on the floor. In the summertime you will often see a blade or two of grass, in the autumn a few leaves that made their way indoors and in the winter tiny piles of melted snow.

As a parent, I have learned there are some battles you fight and some you let go.

There are moments when I complain and plea about the mess in the mudroom but there are also moments when I smile to myself. At the end of the day or that hectic moment right after school I find myself in this space, alone, and I can't help but laugh to myself. I can't help but think this messy mudroom is the perfect representation of our life. Shoes tossed about, backpacks filled with papers and special projects, hats and gloves to keep us warm, soccer balls and shin guards to keep us active and water bottles to fuel our on-the-go lifestyle.

As I look around this mess, I see those blades of grass or autumn leaves, and rather than get angry I have learned to appreciate. I am grateful for this mess because this mess is my life. Those backpacks and projects are creations made by my children, that sports equipment makes me proud of how hard my boys work, and those shoes, hats and gloves show that I am able to provide for and protect my children.

I have learned to enjoy the little messes in life because sometimes those messes define us; they are a part of who we are and we will always have them in our lives.

josh

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*This post is sponsored by FabKids

I have been working with FabKids on a monthly basis and it has been a fun treat. We are thrilled with each outfit and look forward to sharing them with you here. One of my personal attractions to these pieces, besides how cute and trendy they are, is the fact that you can mix and match each piece. They are well crafted, versatile and affordable.

FabKids is JustFab's newest fashion club, started by a team of parents including mom and actress Christina Applegate. FabKids is a convenient way for busy parents to shop. It's an outfit club -- so parents get monthly selections of super affordable, high-quality fashions personalized for their kids.

Check out more of their fall and holiday trends, for boys and girls, at Fabkids.com


11/19/13

discovering nature.

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mushrooms

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One of the best ways for us to discover nature is to turn to the wilderness, to call upon our instincts and take it outdoors, to walk and hike and explore the world around us. It is so easy to want and wish to travel, to visit the mountains or the vast oceans. But sometimes, all you need to do is open your eyes and look around. You'll be surprised what you find within reach and what is nestled in your own little town or neighborhood.

I know our area very well yet there are so many spots secretly tucked away that we have yet to visit. A few weeks ago we took the kids on a short hike to a park just ten miles down the road. Who would have thought we would discover a world of trails, an animal hospital hidden in the woods, clear waters speckled with lily pads, wild mushrooms (non-edible), fallen leaves and more. The easiest entertainment for our children is right here in front of us. We all have access to this amazing resource. Nature is one powerful tool that I love experiencing again and again.

What inspires you about nature? What touches your heart and makes a mark on your mind?

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(Nothing but) Flowers by Talking Heads on Grooveshark
*I hate to state the obvious, but since I posted a few pictures of mushrooms I feel I should. Never touch, pick or eat a wild mushroom without knowing what they are. While there are some tasty treats out there that we like to hunt (morels, chanterelle) there are also many poisonous varieties. Make sure to talk to your kids and educate them on the safety of nature.

11/18/13

46/52

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Jonas: Exploring the wide open woods.
Joshua: The happiest and silliest child around.
Jessica: Collecting small treasures.

Thank you Jodi for hosting this series.

sunday stills. photo 46

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A single photo once a week.
To capture my emotions, to sum up the days.
To collect my thoughts and hold them in my hands.

Every Sunday, one photo.

On this Sunday: Cool autumn days, a small girl and her big dog.

The leaves have almost all fallen, our trees are empty and bare, and the ground is covered in a confetti of rich golden tones. When I look around our yard or the park where we play I see beauty. I see the colors of nature, so rich and full, like a freshly painted canvas that is quickly admired by all observers.

Like these tones of nature, our weekend was rich and full. We embraced every single moment and lived each hour to the fullest. We "seized the day" because we understand there are not many of these cool November days left. In fact, I can see December right around the corner. Peering through a sheer curtain, anxious to make her presence. And I am equally anxious to greet her with open arms.

We cuddled on the couch, fingers dipped in popcorn bowls, and watched the first Christmas movie of the season. We gave in to the wintery scents of vanilla and cookie dough and baked our own chocolate chip cookies. We raked the leaves into tall towers and watched them dance in skies as we jumped with full force. We made up games and played our favorites, like family tag and monkey in the middle. We spent time with good friends visiting from California. We ate way too much food and lazily laid around until our bellies felt better.

How was your weekend? What did the wind roll your way?

11/15/13

hello weekend.

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The weekend is here and we are jumping for joy! I have a list a mile long that I want to accomplish this weekend and still somehow have time for movie night and dinner with friends. I'm looking forward to cleaning the house, lighting a fire if the air is cool enough, baking pumpkin bread and sipping on hot cocoas. What does your weekend entail? A list of to-dos or a time to relax?

I'm almost done with this book and am looking forwarding to starting this one.

The excitement of Christmas is in the air and the kids have started their lists. These items may not be on the list, but I sure would like to add them for the kids. One, two, three and four.

I am in love with this t-shirt for Jess.

These shoes are so good. I also love these boots, these starry shoes and these red ones.

Speaking of shoes, I may need to jump on the bandwagon and splurge on these (gray or black)with these socks/liners please. I love my current rain boots but they are circe 2002 and have had their day.

While in Friday Harbor the kids fell in love with these coloring books, but we had already picked out souvenirs. Maybe they will make their way to a stocking this Christmas ;)

Lastly, just a few things I am enjoying on Pinterest these days.
I adore this look.
This bag, these shoes. My style to a T.
This sweater is lovely. I live in sweaters all winter long.
And a good quote to walk away with for the weekend.

If you follow me on Pinterst, you may have noticed my pins are shedding a hint as to what we are working on in the house. The bathroom, kid's rooms, the upstairs hallway. Tis' the season to clean and rearrange. I love turning to Pinterst for inspiration.

You can follow me here and you can also follow me on Instagram here.

Happy Weekend!

11/14/13

taking your own advice.

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These days life has been very full. And I'm not talking the touching the rim of the glass kind of full, I'm talking the glass is overflowing on the floor kind of full. But you know what? I don't feel the least bit stressed. The holidays are fast approaching and I'm actually excited, really excited. Thanksgiving hasn't even arrived yet and I'm ready to hang the wreaths and garland, a first for me. I've always been a firm believer in keeping pace with the current holiday. The old me would say "what, you can't think of Christmas until the day after Thanksgiving," but the new me shouts "hang it up, bring it on, make your list, send the cards!"

And that's exactly what I'm doing. I may even start baking holiday cookies this weekend!

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Could it be that I am actually following my own advice? Am I learning to let go of the little things and enjoy each moment to the fullest?

Last week I crawled in bed with Jess to snuggle, read books and tuck her tightly away for her afternoon nap. I wasn't even tired but I thought to myself I'll shut my eyes, just for five minutes, and enjoy this time with my daughter. Two hours later we both awoke with plenty of smiles and soft giggles. It was the highlight of my week.

I have finally learned that time really does go by that fast. That our children grow daily and one day their youth will be gone. I have finally learned that the laundry will forever live in mountainous piles, that dinner doesn't have to be made from scratch nightly, that the toys scattered throughout our home actually add character and that blogging and other social media can wait.

My children cannot.

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As a parent I am constantly evaluating myself and my role in our household. I evaluate how I spend time with my children, how I talk to them, discipline them, teach them, feed them and so forth. I criticize, I worry, I analyze and I re-evaluate over and over. Parenting is the largest and most profound task I have taken on in life and I most certainly want to get it right; I want to be successful.

But what is success when it comes to parenting?

Is it having the children tucked safely in bed, their bellies full and their hearts happy? Is it raising a family who thrives on love and giving? Is success measured by what we feed our children or what information we teach to their little brains?

What if the success to parenting starts with the actual parent. The person behind the teaching, the feeding, the cleaning and the tucking in. I came across this quote and it made a mark on my mind. It took me back to analyzing and evaluating, but this time around I wasn't evaluating myself as a parent. I was evaluating myself as a person, as an adult.

"Character isn't something you teach your kids. It's something you show them. Not in some epic moment of your life, but in the sum of your daily actions. Want a good kid? Be a good adult."
-Kelly Combs, ChattyKelly

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jess

*I snapped these photos a few weeks ago and am finally sharing them. Just a random afternoon out with my three favorite little people.