{home & garden} house update!! finally!

You know when you buy a “fixer upper” and you get all the paper work signed and then you walk into the new house and the first thought in your head is…

“OMG what have we done!?”

Thankfully, that’s not the thought I have on our current remodel, but it is the thought I have on this blog.  I can’t believe this past year has taken me on such a hamster wheel of craziness, that the blog is in such disarray.  Things are so out of date, it’s beyond sad. I would love to say that I’ll get it all spruced up in a jiffy, but that’s not going to happen either.

But if we can look past the confusion, I am going to try and get more updates out for you on the house. I’ve had lots of requests for what state the house is in. (Myself included!)

We’ve definitely had our share of set backs, more than any other project we’ve worked on. In this case, it took almost 5 months before we could start working on anything. BUT after 6 more months of A LOT of hard work by my sweet husband, we are now 11 months later, finally getting to the point that everyone wants to know the updates.

We finished drywall and mud last week, and today they started working on the window casings.  We need to get the wood floor installed before they hang any doors or do anything fun like PAINT.  But it’s all coming! Stay tuned….

We’re at the point of all hands on deck for sure!

A Great Room shot. This is the room you enter into from Front Door. It is basically the addition we did to the current home. Not thrilled about the new fireplace rules, since it means no more wood burning fireplace, but I think we’ll still be able to make it look inviting.  That open area to the right is the open kitchen.  Really excited to see this finished, mostly because these two rooms are where we will be 99% of the time.  The skylights MAKE the space!

I like to use closet spaces for beds, and in turn build new closets. I don’t know why, but this always makes bedrooms feel better and more spacious to me.  These are the new closets in Piper’s room. The section in the middle is for a new dresser that should make the the whole closet unit appear as a built-in. Cross your fingers.

This is looking into the New Master Bedroom. It used to be the Living Room in the original house. The light to the left is coming from doors to a side yard.

This little cutie pie is Piper.  She’s 3 years old. Can you tell?  She found an open bag of dry wall mud powder. The girls used it to pretend they were playing in the snow. Good times.

This is the new front porch. The trellis went up last week and really changed the whole from of the house. Love it.

We debated over different materials to use on the chimney exterior, but in the end, we went with my love of white houses. It was the last expensive material route to take and I thankfully really like the ship-lap painted white.  We’ll see how it goes.

And these little monkeys…they are just sooooo excited to move back into their house.  Soon little ones, soon!

**For more updates: Remodel Update #1,

{home & garden} guest room reveal ~ tiny oranges

So here we go with the third and final room reveal for Jennifer from Tiny Oranges.  If you’ve missed the last couple, here you go…

Check out her 3 year old little girl’s big girl green room

And her 6 year old little girl’s girlie pink palace

Both rooms were such fun to pull together and we think fit the girls personalities and wishes perfectly.

Of course it all started with picking out the perfect mattress for Jen’s girls...oh the fun of dominos!!

The final room we did was turning their home’s current 3 year old little nursery, into the new Guest Room. Jen and her husband choose to focus the majority of their budget in the 2 girls rooms, but we still needed to updated the Guest Room with little changes. Their guests aren’t that frequent, and are typically family. So we chose to keep the focus on that.

Having the bed look out at the beautiful backyard made if feel more resort like in the room. We added chevron panels from Urban Outfitters to the windows, along with Ikea sheers and hardware. On either side of the window we used our favorite Ikea bookshelves.

Ready for this, $40 each!

I’ve seen them on Pinterest sprayed out gold and yellow too. So fun!  We shopped around Jen’s house a bit to help accessorize with coffee table books and shells.  In addition, I tore open some older framed floral prints they had, and asked Jen to print black and white photos of family that would be staying in the room, replacing the prints.

I also re-used the shell prints they had, by replacing the matte inside the frame for an updated look.  Then we used an existing child’s book rack as a magazine shelf next to the bed for guests.

We took 2 red bedside tables from the orginal Guest Room and spray painted them black, adding two Ikea lamps for $19/each.  Jen found a white headboard on Wayfair for $99…wow!  (Not gonna lie, I’ve used this headboard 3 times since this room, for new clients.) Bargain!!

Throw in some Ikea white bedding, with some cute yellow and gray sheets from Target. It’s getting cuter… And what do you do when you can’t find a bedskirt you like? Buy a coordinating sheet the same size as the bed and have a bedskirt made (if you don’t sew…which I do not.)

All in all I think the room turned out really cozy and refreshing for guests to stay in.

I’m so thankful for the opportunity that Jen and her family gave us to work on their home.  The most gratifying part of a project, is seeing a family happy in their home. Thank you Tiny Oranges Family!!

To see more of this reveal, along with before and after shots, hop on over to Tiny Oranges today: “Gray and Yellow Guest Room Design”

Sources ~ Guest Room:

  • Headboard: Wayfair
  • Sheets: Target
  • Duvet & 2 shams: Ikea, ALVINE STRA
  • Personalized Pillow Sham: West Elm, Striped Sham with Monogram
  • Bedskirt: Target sheet, customized
  • Window Treatments: Chevron Panels, Urban outfitters. Sheers, Ikea, VIVAN
  • Bookcases: Ikea, VITTSJO
  • Area Rug: Ikea, TARNBY
  • Bedside Tables: Existing, spray painted
  • Bedside Lamps: Ikea, ARSTID
  • Round Mirror: Ikea, SONGE

To Die for Thankgiving Dinner ~ Easy Prep!

I first, posted this 2 years ago, and I’m asked about our Thanksgiving line up all the time.  It’s not the healthiest meal, but it sure is tasty!! My rationalization is that if I get a workout in sometime in the morning (Running around the house like a chicken with her head cut off definitely counts!), then eating this meal is A-OK!  Seriously, this is your meal line up!!


Thanksgiving. Wow. That day is just a gift. A great big gift of Yummy, yummy, yummy food.

Oh and the family, laughter, and football games are pretty cool too!!  This year Thanksgiving fell the Thursday after the site relaunch. So the site went live again Monday, the girls all came down with massive colds that night, and 12 people + kids were coming to our house on Thursday. Hmmmm…mission impossible??

Thankfully I had thought about it a bit.

First, I like to host things at our house. It’s selfish, but I know our house and I know the boundries for my Littles and the visiting Littles when they are here.  So subsequently, I’m more relaxed because I’m not chasing them out of trouble at someone else’s house.

Second, with almost every major holiday, EVERYONE is happy to help in someway, especially if the party doesn’t have to be at their house. So delegate! My parents were assigned the Turkey/Gravy/Cranberry Sauce, my Mother-in-Law the pies, my Sister-in-Law the wine, my Brother-in-Law the appetizer. So that just left Side Dishes for me.

Third, with a little bit of prep work, you can actually enjoy the day too, rather than work yourself to the bone.

Now to be honest, I very often prep ahead for meals, meaning chopping, dicing, etc. But I have never made all the side dishes (especially for Thanksgiving) the day before. So I was going on a wing and a prayer. (But after this the result of this year, I will be doing this for the REST OF MY LIFE! I truly enjoyed Thursday and the food all turned out better than I could have imagined!)

Monday night ~ I printed all the recipes I was making, clipped them with a binder clip to keep them all together, and wrote out the shopping lists.

Tuesday ~ I did all the grocery shopping. The super fresh-I-could-have-eaten-the-entire-bag-dinner-rolls went straight into the freezer. That night I baked a super easy pan of Jiffy cornbread for the stuffing.  While it was baking I chopped, diced, & prepped anything I would need to assemble the dishes the next day, and popped everything into ziplocks. Then left both breads for the stuffing out to start drying.

Wednesday ~ I made arrangements for Addie to go an extra day to Daycare, so I would only have 2 Littles while I assembled everything.  When Piper went down for her nap at 9:00AM, Hayden played with her puzzle and Mama got busy.

Cheese mama!! (Sorry, she see’s a camera and can’t help herself…)

The tastiest Broccoli Casserole, Hay approved too.

The puzzle wasn’t exciting anymore, so I let her wash the dishes.

You’re freaking out right now aren’t you?? (Hee, hee.) Polycarbonate (Plastic) Wine Glasses folks. Plastic. And I love em. A gift from my Genius Sister-in-Law. Perfect around the pool…or just to have when you have crazy Littles running around your house…

Anyway, with this going on behind Hay, I was happy to have her busy at the sink. She in fact washed dishes for about 45  minutes. Does it really matter what they are doing as long as they are safe and occupied??

Love the look of the stuffing coming together. I kid you not, it was THE BEST Sourdough Cornbread Sausage stuffing I have ever eaten in my life. And everyone at the table will tell you the same thing. Make this and make it soon! Thank you Picky Palate for coming into my life!

About this time the Sweet Potatoes were ready to mash. Hay thought she should be prepared…

And that she should say “Cheeeeeeese!” again. What? You would think she was the daughter of a blogger or something, sheesh.

Sweet Potatoes done. Have you seen these pewter dishes from Match? I have the Toscana Pewter Pyrex Casserole Dishes. They were wedding gifts (and I mean GIFTS!) and are AWESOME.  You can cook whatever you want in the glass Pyrex dishes, then drop them in the Pewter when you’re ready to serve. (A SERIOUS wish list splurge item, but I love em! So I gotta share em with ya!)

In the hour Piper slept, I made the Broccoli Casserole & the Sweet Potatoe Casserole, Sourdough Cornbread Sausage Stuffing, and the Mashed Potatoes. The Tupperware was for my sister to take to her in-laws, simply the extra from doubling all the recipes.

Then with Piper on the floor at my feet and Hayden entertaing her, I finished the last of the deliciousness. Again a Picky Palate treat, Cheesy Bacon & Green Bean Casserole Pot Pie ~ sooo scrumptious! While the kids ate lunch, I cleaned up the kitchen.

Later that night, my sister brought containers to transport and bake the extra sides at her in laws. I wrote instructions on the tops of each and added accompaning toppings to labled Ziplocks (love me a Ziplock bag & and Sharpie!)

I was certainly tired when I went to bed that night, but knowing the bulk of the work was done, was HEAVEN to my brain!

Now, you’re probably wondering about the main star of the day. Well, as luck would have it, I have a dad that is skilled with the Grill. I found a fabulous sounding Turkey recipe  on Twitter and Dad took over that responsibility (LORD LOVE HIM!). Let me tell you, thay Turkey did not disappoint! WOW! It was a Maple Brined Smoked Grilled Turkey. I will forever be a fan!

This was a late addition. I thought I should have one healthy alternative and my Genuis Sister-in-Law raved about this Green Bean Salad from the Flat Belly Family Cookbook. I did prep the veggies on Tuesday night as well, then threw it together in about 15 minutes the day of. Nice little refreshing salad. I’ll post the recipe later this weekend.

While the Turkey was on the grill, I pulled all the side dishes out of the fridge, (about 3 hours before I planned to bake them). I also pulled the Puff Pastry from the freezer to defrost for the Green Bean Casserole, and the dinner rolls to defrost. All the side dishes baked at 350 degrees for roughly the same time. I topped them with their respective toppings and 30 minutes later we were enjoying a meal to die for! Don’t forget to pop the rolls in the oven for about 10 minutes to get toasty too. Have them waiting to go on a cookie sheet.

Broccoli Casserole & Sweet Potatoe Casserole

Yum Mashed Potatoes! Can you say butter?

Oh Man.

I will be seeing this Turkey in my dreams for years to come.

The side of my kitchen counter served as a buffet for everyone to help themselves.

Then head to the table.

Seriously yummy.

See these glasses? Remember them. You’re about to hear a whole lotta a goodness about them…

And if you eat all that I’ve told you above, you will most likely have a Thanksgiving Food Hangover that apparently requires sunglasses…

Or at least that’s what 2 of my Littles told me.

Our Thanksgiving Feast that would be AMAZING for Christmas too:

Maple Brined Smoked Grilled Turkey

Broccoli Casserole & Sweet Potatoe Casserole

Sourdough Cornbread Sausage Stuffing

Cheesy Bacon & Green Bean Casserole Pot Pie

Mashed Potatoes

Green Bean & Pumpkin Seed Salad

Fresh Bakery Dinner Rolls

Cranberry Sauce


{home & garden} tiny oranges design reveal #2

So a few weeks ago I shared these BEFORE shots from 3 of the bedrooms of the fabulous {Tiny Oranges} home headquarters.  Then last week we shared the first of the room reveals for her 3 year old little girl.

This week it’s all about the Pink Palace as Jen’s 6 year old daughter has re-named her room.  Check out Jen’s post today for lots of before and after shots. As well as what Jen’s wishes for her daughter’s room were.

We had some similar requirements with toy storage, space for imaginary play, photos of friends and family, a love for dry erase board art, lots of headband storage, a MASSIVE Barbie dream house, and a love affair with pink.  Jen’s daughter loves the girlie things in life so we knew that was the direction this room would take.

Jen and her husband both also really wanted a bed with storage for their daughter.  They had been seriously considering a bed with under bed storage either with drawers, or cubbies & baskets, and were willing to make more of an investment for the long term. But one of the responsibilities I feel is to give a client options. I loved the bed they were considering, but also knew that is was an investment.  The option I gave was to use the same bed frame we used for their 3 year old’s room, but leave the under bed exposed and use basket suitcases instead.  The first option would be about $800, the second option was $175.  So a no brainer to me! That gave us a WHOLE lot more money to get these rooms completed.

Just like last week’s reveal both HERE and on TINY ORANGES, here’s the source list for this room.  Be sure to check out Jen’s BEFORE pics for this room on Tiny Oranges today too:


  • Bed Frame ~ LEIRVIK, Ikea {$99 for a Queen!!!}
  • Sheets ~ Client purchased
  • Pink Body Pillow ~ Fabric/Joann’s, Form/Target, Fabrication/Custom Workroom
  • White Bedspread & 3 Euro Shames ~ ALINA, Ikea (2 came with set, third came with the set for Jen’s 3yo’s room).
  • Bolster Pillow ~ EMMIE RUND, Ikea
  • Pink Throw ~ Ikea
  • Monogramming – Ann Pyke
  • Boxspring Cover ~ RENATE FLORA, Ikea (Queen Duvet set.  Pillowcases on the bed, duvet tucked over the boxspring)
  • Suitcase Baskets – TJ Maxx
  • Window Treatment Dot Curtains – GRONSKA PRICKAR, Ikea
  • Window Treatment Sheers ~ MATILDA, Ikea (Existing Black out Rollers hidden behind sheers.)
  • Window Treatment Rod, Finials, Brackets ~ Ikea
  • Lamp & Shade ~ Target
  • “E” print ~ Existing (and worked perfectly with the girly room!)
  • Bedside Dresser ~ MALM Drawers with glass top. Added “crystal” knobs from Target.
  • You Are My Sunshine print ~ Client purchased from Etsy (Source in Jen’s post today) / Frame, Aaron Bros 1 cent sale
  • Rug ~ Pink shag, Overstock

Accessory Wall:

  • Storage cubbies ~ EXPEDIT, Ikea
  • Cubbie Boxes ~ DRONA, Ikea
  • Dryerase board ~ KLUDD, Ikea
  • Shelves ~ High gloss shelves, Ikea
  • Brackets ~ EKBY K+NNA
  • Dress-up Box ~ Existing
  • “I love you to the moon and back” ~ Client purchased from Etsy
  • Clock ~ Target
  • Bulletin Board ~ DIYed, white frame, Joann fabric & ribbon, cork board sheet, mini clothes pin clips
  • Towel ~ Ikea

Closet Wall:

  • Vanity Desk ~ HEMNES, Ikea (with a glass top we were able to display lots of friend photos)
  • “Crystal knobs” on drawers ~ Target
  • “Pink Crystal” hooks ~ removed from an existing coat rack & re-used on the desk
  • Beads and Containers ~ Existing
  • Frames ~ Aaron Bros 1 cent sale
  • Vanity Stool ~ INGOLF, Ikea
  • Vanity Stool Cushion ~ Joann’s Fabric & custom workroom

Closet Wall:

  • Laundry Bags ~ Pillowcases made into laundry bags with Joann’s Fabric trim, and hooks for the wall. Jen had them monogrammed “Lights” and “Darks” for the kids to help sort their own laundry. Darling idea!!
  • Barbie Dream House ended up closet bound! I love using a closet super efficiently so you can have a “surprise” play area for your kids, but that you can also close when you want something out of site.

I can’t tell you how much fun doing these rooms for these sweet girls was :-)

{home & garden} home tour ~ great room

So I’m going to try and get more posts up again.  We’ve been living our crazy nomad life since last April when we sold our house. Never in our wildest dreams did we think everything would take as long as it has to get into the new house. I’m crossing my fingers we are in by Christmas….though I also know that’s a tall order…we’ll see.

In the meantime I thought adding more to the plate would keep things exciting (ha!), and returned to my interior design roots.  I started taking on interior design jobs last spring, like this one you read about for Jen’s {Tiny Oranges} sweet little 3 year old daughter.  In the next few weeks we’ll reveal her 6 year old daughter’s room, as well as her Guest Room.  I also have a few other client rooms to photograph and share (Ninjago and Angry Birds anyone?!?) In the meantime I thought I would FINALLY go back and post photos of our house.

Thankfully Todd from Tanker Photography did an AMAZING job of capturing our home. I love having a record like this of where we lived!

For those that don’t remember, this is what our house used to look like when we bought it.

And this is where it ended up when we sold the house last April.  Big, but simple updates.  Looking back makes me miss it….can’t wait to have our family in a house again.  Thankfully the roof was framed on the new house this week….getting closer!

{home & garden} tiny oranges design reveal!

So a few weeks ago, I shared that I had done a design update for a friend. Such a fun project! Be sure to check out the before shots in that post as well as Jen’s post today.

I’ll rewind a bit for you.

When we put our house on the market last spring, quite a few people commented on the interior design of our home during the open houses.  I never really thought of our home as a show house of sorts…but for some reason, lots of people commented and asked if I was still doing interior design.  While my past life, pre-kids, involved large scale interior home design, and hotel resort design project management, my current life and our own home, was certainly not that same level!

What our home is, or was, is an example of a young family with 3 crazy active toddlers, parents that appreciate design, who don’t think that needs to change with kids, and a mom that needs to have her house fully functional and organized to keep up with the chaotic, awesome, and busy life we live.  Wheeewww….tall order. (Here’s a quick shot of our main Great Room).

I got to thinking that there were probably other families out there that could use a little bit of design help along those same lines. So after 16 years in the design industry, I returned to it again last spring under the name, MFE Designs. The primary focus being simple, but creative, family functional rooms.

Along the way, Jen from Tiny Oranges sent me an email asking if I could help with some suggestions for her girls’ rooms.  As is normal when you tackle projects like this, it gets a little overwhelming with decisions!  It’s nice to have some one sort through your thoughts. We met for the initial hour and a half consult and walked through the rooms to discuss the major points:

1. WHO would be sleeping in which room. Jen had 3 rooms, a Guest Room with ensuite bathroom, then 2 little girls rooms. I knew Jen wanted to change the order around. So we needed to talk about what the needs and goals were. As well as what size beds would work for all the rooms.

2. WHAT things were important to each girl. Colors, activities, toys, pictures, books.  What did the girls like to do? What were each girl’s individual interests? It’s important to me that kids really feel like their room is truly theirs.

3. HOW OFTEN would they use their Guest Room? And who were the guests? Family? Or?

4. What did Jen and her husband envision were the priorities for each girl?

From there we talked about ideas and solutions to accomplish the goals. After meeting, we provided a general estimate to complete the project. Once the “Not to Exceed” budget was set, and a few general meetings took place to show them our overall direction, then they were willing to be surprised.  Jen and her family left for a previously planned vacation, and we were able to install all 3 rooms, revealing them all to them on their return….sooooo fun!!! I can’t wait for you to see each of them!

The key points for their 3 year old’s room ~ their daughter liked green, she needed lots of imaginary play space (wanted to keep an existing play kitchen), toy storage that she could keep up with herself, better use of closet storage, moving into a big girl bed from a crib, and needing to incorporate family and friend photos.  Jen also did a GREAT job of leaving us with “piles” grouped for each girl in their front room.  We were able to pick out things we could easily incorporate, or change and use differently.  So the girls were able to walk into new rooms, but also see familiar items. We REALLY loved this design project!  Such a sweet family to work for!!

Hop on over to Jen’s blog to see the full reveal with before and after pictures.

Below is a source list of items.


  • Bed Frame ~ LEIRVIK, Ikea {$89 for a Full!!!}
  • Sheets ~ Client purchased
  • Green Bed Pillows ~ TJ Maxx
  • Blue Body Pillow ~ EVALOTTA Fabric/Ikea, Form/Target, Fabrication/Custom Workroom
  • Yellow Throw Pillow ~ MARGARETA Ikea (I don’t see the yellow anymore).
  • Sherpa Bean Bag ~ Pottery Barn Kids
  • White Bedspread ~ ALINA, Ikea
  • Green Striped Bedskirt ~ NYPONROS Full Duvet set, Ikea custom made into a bedskirt. 2 pillow cases included in the set used on the bed.
  • Window Treatment Sheers ~ MATILDA, Ikea (Existing Black out Rollers hidden behind sheers.)
  • Window Treatment Rod, Finials, Brackets ~ Ikea
  • Mirror ~ STAVE, Ikea
  • Lamps & Shades ~ Target
  • Robin print ~ Existing (and worked sooo well with the bird print fabric!)
  • You Are My Sunshine print ~ Client purchased from Etsy (Source in Jen’s post today) / Frame, Aaron Bros 1 cent sale
  • Rug ~ White shag, Target
  • Storage Cubbies ~ EXPEDIT White High Gloss, Ikea
  • Storage Baskets ~ PJAS, Ikea

Closet Wall:

  • Green Storage bins over closet ~ clearance aisle at Target
  • Vintage Books ~ Clients exsiting
  • Closet Curtain ~ Rod, Rings, Finials ~ Ikea
  • Closet Green Striped Fabric ~ SOFIA, Ikea, Custom made
  • Magnetic Bulletin Boards & Round Magnets ~ SPONTAN, Ikea
  • Book Ledges ~ RIBBA Picture Ledge, Ikea
  • Yellow Clock ~ Target
  • Ribbon Board ~ I DIYed from a Pottery Barn Kids Book
  • White toy box ~ Box, Client’s existing / Fabric ~ Fabric.com, then custom made
  • White Bolster Pillow ~ EMMIE RUND, Ikea
  • Yellow Throw ~ Ikea (I don’t see it now to give you the name)
  • All Monogramming ~ Anne Pyke in Costa Mesa
  • Storage Bins in Closet ~ Container Store plastic storage boxes

Entry Wall:

  • Play Kitchen ~ Exisiting
  • Book Ledges ~ RIBBA Picture Ledge, Ikea
  • Box Acrylic Frame ~ Aaron Brothers
  • “Sweet Letters” ~ Clients Exisiting

I really loved how this room turned out! Playful and young, but easy to grow up with too.  Stay tuned for 2 more rooms in Jen’s house.

Update ~ I’ve had a few requests on how to contact me about our design services, best way is by email, shanna@mfedesigns.com we look forward to connecting with you!

{Photo Credit: All home photos above photographed by Tankersley Photography}

{home & garden} an update for a friend

Oh Hi!!  How are ya!?!?  Been while, hasn’t it….

You may wonder if the photo above is our house. It’s not.

I’ll fill you in in the next couple days about all that’s been happening, but in the mean time, I wanted to be sure you didn’t miss out on one of the MAJOR things I’ve been doing and had SUCH FUN while doing it!!

You all know Jen at Tiny Oranges?  I’ve talked about her loads in the past. And thankfully for me, I’ve also gotten to know her in real life over the past couple of years.  Jen’s blog was the first blog I ever read…and truthfully, I didn’t even really know what blogs were.  But I knew I loved hers!

So here’s the FUN… Jen has been talking about choosing a new mattress.  The things you should think about when deciding to do so, what to look for in a mattress, etc. But here’s the thing, there’s always a domino effect when you tackle things like this. You know, when you find a cute pair of shoes, you HAVE to get a new outfit to go with them!! Right??!

And that is EXACTLY what happened with Jen. Deep in the desicion process of what mattresses to get her girls, she felt slightly overwhelmed with the overall switch in her bedroom situation she felt needed to take place. A quick phone call and meeting later and we were brainstorming ideas on what to do with her Guest Room, and 2 daughters’ rooms….and I have got to tell ya, these little girls’ rooms might just be the most fun rooms I’ve ever worked on!!!!  I can’t wait to share them!  For now I have a few before shots to show you, along with a suggestion to go check out Jen’s post on how they selected their mattresses.

Stay tuned for the fun reveal!!!

{local love} free weekend fun

Hilarious! This just goes to show, even when you try to be organized, you can still be way behind!!  In trying to catch up this week, I’ve been trying to clean out the closets of My Favorite Everything, and came across this post in my drafts.

I’m not even sure when these were taken, but I know it still stands true! If you need a little simple weekend fun (or anytime fun with a girlfriend) with Little Ones (who are up very early in the morning). Head to Fashion Island, before it opens.

Obviously we go rain or shine! What we love about it is that the stores are CLOSED early in the morning (which I’m sure stand true for any mall, I just love that Fashion Island is outdoors and pretty much contained). No Littles can dodge in and out of the stores.  Mom and Dad can grab a latte and a few treats for the kiddos at Starbucks, then walk behind those running, wild kids leisurely, knowing they can’t get into trouble.

I’m pretty this was in early January sometime (or at least I think it was). The kids love the Koi pond, but there are also lots of places to play hide and seek. As well as a lot of running back and forth between Build-a-Bear and Russo’s Pet Shop peaking in the windows in anticipation of them each opening. (Read lots of running between 2 stores = good naps later). We usually stop into each right after they open (and before they get too busy) before leaving.

If this was a Sunday when the stores open at 11:00, you would probably see me there at 10:00 running around with the kids for an hour, then heading to the pet store and a quick lunch after….and home for naps and quiet time.  No big crowds, kids got to run & play, mom & dad got a bit of a break. Perfect start to the day!

So what are you up to this weekend?

{family fun} The sky is the limit!

When you became a parent, did you really think about what kind of parent you would be?  I’m sure at some point you told yourself that you were going to be the “cool parent”. That you would let your kids do all the things you wished your parents had let you do, because YOU knooooow it would have all turned out OK if they had let you do all those things.

Yeah, I had that idea too.

I had it when I as 18 with a fake ID and told my little sisters that I would give them my ID when I turned 21 because it was so hard to get a good fake ID (which I had, but ssshh, don’t tell anyone else I had one.)

Then I turned 21, and for a week straight I had nightmares of my sisters dying in a car wreck because they had been drinking alcohol bought using MY ID…it was awful. I had guilt on my shoulders from not being able to live with myself if they were killed, and guilt on my shoulders knowing I could make their social lives easier. Honestly, the guilt in both directions was heart wrenching. What was the right desicion??

Fast forward quite a few years and I’m staring at my little girls. My 2 year old, 3 year old, and 4 year old little girls. Knowing that they are all at ages that are impressionable.

What I do counts. I want to make the right decisions for them. They are watching me, copying me, doing what I do.

And trust me, I don’t always do it well.

But this time, I know I did.

This past weekend, Hubs and I took the girls to a new-to-us swimming pool with a low and high dive. The high dive is easily 12 feet in the air.  All of our girls have gone off low dives a number of times, but a high dive??  Hubs went off of it, but with my new Vertigo issues, I hung back in the water to help the girls to the side of the pool after their jumps.

None of the girls headed towards the high dive, but they all kept eye balling it.  I asked Addie if she wanted to go….

“You first, Mommy.”

And in a split second I knew this was one of those times I needed to show my girls that they can do ANYTHING THEY WANT TO DO. They don’t need to be afraid, because we are right beside them, and we will go first if they want us to.  I was out of the pool, up the ladder and off the high dive in 30 seconds flat (any longer and I’m pretty sure the Veritgo would have spun me off the top, ugh).

After that jump, there was no stopping Hayden and Addie. Of couse this started an audience, and then the lifeguard decided he might stand a little closer, seeing as how a 3 and 4 year old were heading off that big tower multiple times.

But then Piper made it known she wanted to jump too.

Hubs and I tried to figure out what to do. How do we keep her safe, without bursting her spirit? How do we let her walk down a path she really wants to go down, but let her do it best for her age? How do we teach her to go after what she wants and to not be afraid, if we don’t let her try new things? Isn’t it better to teach her how to do it safely, then to say no?

BUT SHE’S TWO YEARS OLD and it’s a HIGH DIVE!!! For the love of all that is good, the wind could blow her little body off the board!!!

I turned to the lifeguard and asked if a 2 year old had ever jumped off the high dive? He just looked at me baffled. After a few minutes he said, “Can she swim?”, and my answer was, YES!

Piper is 2. She has had swim lessons since she was 14 months. She had just been jumping off a low dive for 15 minutes and kicking herself up to the surface. She is a fish in the water. We have given her the tools she needs. (Thank you Coach Dan!!!)

She. Can. Do. This.

And we were going to let her.

The lifeguard let Hubs climb up the ladder behind Piper (which she emphatically DID NOT WANT him to do).  He stood on the ladder, as she walked across that platform. Then like a little angel in the sky she smiled down at me and jumped off that 12 foot board. Into the water she went with no hesitation, kicking backed up to the surface, all the while smiling.

In that moment it confirmed for me that our job is to keep our girls safe, but it is also to teach them to believe in themselves and what they can do, and to give them the tools to go after the dreams they want to.

Today was a growing day for Hubs and I as parents, and for our girls as well, as we all  realized, the sky IS the limit!!

{home & garden} bedroom thoughts?

Not quite sure what angle the kids rooms are going to take yet. I know we’ll re-use what we have, but with a new twist.

Things will switch rooms.

Something from the kitchen may end up in a bedroom, and visa versa.

Spray paint will most likely be used, and I’ll probably be begging my mom to sew pillows. Well not probably, I will be begging/asking/pleading. The only thing I know is that our 4 year old has requested her own room, and our 2 and 3 year olds are so excited to be new roommates.

So cute.

So the images above are few of the thoughts I’ve had for the new shared room. Something bright and happy, but with fun elements, and places to play, oh, and it needs a bit of a modern & grown up edge.

Can’t wait to see where it all goes.

{Photo Credits: Bed decal, Mirror, DIY Dollhouse bookshelf, Twin Bed ~ Land of Nod, Dollhouse DIY ~ Young House Love, fabric images – iPhone at Joann’s, Yellow Bookcase ~ Pinterest,}