2 Steps to a Simple Summer

When you live in a state like Wisconsin, where it is winter a good portion of the year... okay pretty much mostly winter all of the time, it can be hard not to come to the sweet, sweet summer months with guns-a-blazing. 

"Let's do all the things!"

says every well-intentioned mother on the planet. 

But then summer hits. I'm almost never organized enough to get anywhere on time. Somehow, the house is a disaster on the daily, even though I thought we were playing outside (because, THE SUN IS SHINING PEOPLE!). My visions of children building ornate sand castles get stomped. The joy of summer seems to get sucked right out of me like a one of those ridiculous straws that I can never get cleaned. 

I am trying a new plan this summer. A new mantra if you will. Well the mantra isn't new but it is a new one for me... you get the idea here. 

Keep it simple (stupid). 

 You can leave the stupid part out because shhhh we don't even say that word in this house! 

This is my last summer before my oldest child starts Kindergarten. <insert a mom's ugly cry here> She will be in school all day, every day. I want to enjoy this summer for the simplicity that it is. From here on out there will be practices, groups, clubs and what not. And that's okay. But for me, right now, this year, I need simple. 

So here's my plan. I have no idea if it will work. I have no idea if I will stick with it. But hey! I'm sharing it anyway.

  1. Share the work. We all clean for around 15 minutes per day. Many hands make light the load. Even if the hands are small and distracted, it's still better than me doing nothing at all. We set a timer and get to work for 15 minutes and then we're done! I follow a cleaning schedule usually which helps overall to the general house cleanliness. 
  2. Plan simple. This is tough for me. My daughter is one that enjoys doing things--but cannot be scheduled all the time. My son could be running 24-7 and still have enough energy to do more. My other son still naps twice a day. With all these different needs I am planning to make our days reasonable. Let's go to the zoo.... for 1-2 hours only. Let's go to the pool... for just a little bit. I don't *have* to pack lunch. I don't *have* to miss nap time. Filter in a few day long adventures here and there (when we are all feeling good and rested) and it shouldn't feel like we are missing out on anything. 

So that is kind of it. 

Simple, right? Only two things to remember.

I love being outside and enjoying God's beautiful seasons with my children. I don't love the mom I become when I'm overwhelmed with housework with cranky kids hanging on my hip. I want our summer to be about sand and sunshine, parks and pools, watermelon and strawberries. So I'm hoping my new simple mantra will help me out.

I hope that you fellow mothers out there can find your groove this summer as well. It doesn't have to be The Best Summer Ever. It doesn't have to be Instagram or Facebook approved. It just has to be what works for you and your little creatures. And, also, you have to be okay with that. 

So I tip my (sun)hat to you. I hope you and I can share a relaxed laugh together. Soak up some rays. Thank God together for these beautiful days to make the mundane and the memorable memories with our littles. 

Happy simple summer friends.

 

 

 

 

The Swimsuit Issue

  Swimsuit Issue 2

Oh, do I love this summer sun! I’ve been enjoying the last couple of weeks poolside in the mornings as my little ones attempt to overcome their fear of water in swim lessons. As they spend quality time attempting to float and maneuver kick boards around, I’m contemplating swimsuit styles and which modest style I’d like to try this season. Have you seen the retro styles out there? I LOVE them. So adorable.

When it comes to design and style, I usually say less is more. While this is a tried and true guideline in architecture and graphic design, I depart from the rule when it comes to swimsuits. More is more. More fabric is good - ok, within reason. I wouldn’t really want to swim in fabric from head to toe. There’s a balance there, and it can be found with all the style options out there. I’ve sketched some of the suit features I’ve been seeing that have both great style and a healthy amount of modesty. Watch stores for the following cuteness.

Suit A

 

This is one of those adorable retro styles I've seen in several shops. The neckline is modest, with cute wide straps for support. Ruching is the word for those gathers, ruffles, or pleats that give an overall texture and help give a smooth shape. It's a very forgiving look - and cute. The boyshort bottoms always help cover up.

Suit B

This is pretty much the suit that I wear. Having a two piece suit is the most practical for me, and I like to mix and match the pieces. Plus, it gives me all of the cover up I like. Side note: I also wear the hat since my nose keeps getting sun burned despite my best sunscreen efforts.

Suit C

Speaking of sun burns, the rash covers are brilliant for extra protection and coverage. I have one for my daughter. It protects her shoulders and offers fantastic modesty. Hers has a hippo on the front, making it a favorite. They come in sleeveless, short sleeved, and long sleeved options. I usually see the rash cover paired with boyshorts or a standard bikini bottom. This is probably more practical than lots of ruffles and skirts if you like to spend time in the water more than time in the sun. Thank you to the surfer community for this look, practical for all ages.

Suit D

This is another cute retro style that features some extra fabric and ruffles. When the suits aren't skin tight, they look like a little outfit. How would you accessorize this swim dress?

Suit E

Some suits have halter designs with nice high necklines. That's a fun option. The dark blue or black color can look "hot" on all body types, but can also feel hot if you swim somewhere with intense sun.

I’ve seen modest and vintage styles available in quite a few stores (especially online), including ModCloth, Target, Lands End, and Anthropologie. ModCloth has suits in tons of sizes, which is brilliant. I know swimwear can be pricey, but often times, the nicer suits have more structure and keep everything where you need it to be. Might be worth the investment. I like to watch high quality sites for clearance during the winter.

Get out and enjoy that summer beach time! Happy swimming, sisters.

What are your favorite suit types?

CorissaSignature

Love Simple

This past weekend when I was mowing the lawn out front, my 3 1/2 year old daughter was cruising around in her cozy coupe in the driveway. The sun was shining, and there was a nice cool breeze that afternoon. While I was somewhat begrudgingly and definitely franticly pacing back and forth in the lawn, Penny did her thing. She raced from the garage to the crack in the driveway she isn't supposed to cross as fast as she could. Then she hopped out of the coupe and ran circles around the driveway. All the while she was waving, rather excitedly at me. Every time I turned the mower and walked towards her she would wave and say, "Hi Mommy!!!" with a huge goofy grin. Every. Single. Time.  I couldn't help but wonder to myself if really, was she that excited to see me turn around and that excited to wave and say hi? I'm pretty sure she was.

How simple.

She appeared to be having the time of her life running around in the driveway and waving to me while I was doing a chore.

While our children can be very complicated at times, God also made them pretty simple. They can find happiness in some of the easiest things. Even though this is pretty common knowledge (enter the idea of a child playing with a box instead of a toy), I seem to forget it pretty often. While scrolling through Facebook and Instagram these past few weeks of early summer, I'm met with pictures of families doing some pretty awesome things with their children. Things that require planning, packing, and coordinating. There was even a link for something along the lines of "10 Things to Do with Your Kids this Summer in Milwaukee." I'm kind of afraid to even go on Pinterest right now. Never mind the fact that my kids have been sick for a good portion of the last month. Never mind that my husband was gone for 7 straight days. Never mind that we completely (and finally) re-landscaped our backyard over the last few weekends. Never mind that I even tried to plan going to a fun amusement type park with my kids (which subsequently I cancelled due to a fever), I have been feeling guilty.

You know what? Even if I didn't have what I deem to be "good excuses," that is pretty ridiculous.

Maybe you have felt this way before?

I am not saying that planning and doing cool things with the kids is a bad thing. Just three days ago, I began talking and planning to make "Summer Bucket List" with two of my friends for this summer. My point is that in the mean time and during the busy time and during all the time really, we still need to love simple. God gave us these simple, complicated creatures so let's be sure to capture these easy memories and cherish them despite their simplicity. Instead of feeling guilty of all the experiences I could be giving my children, I need to see the ones they are already having.

love simple

So to help remind myself just this, here is a quick list of ten simple things that seem to make my children happy these days:

  1. Waving to me while mowing the lawn.
  2. Climbing a pile of dirt with each other.
  3. Eating previously discussed pile of dirt.
  4. Pointing at a plane flying by in the sky.
  5. Laying on a tiny lawn chair in the sun.
  6. Playing with a bucket full of water and measuring cups.
  7. Being tickled while being restrained within a carseat.
  8. Chasing and scaring Daddy while running through the house.
  9. Picking up sticks or rocks on a walk.
  10. Listening to the birdies chirping in the early morning.

What are simple things your children enjoy? Feel free to add to my list in the comments!

Happy simple summer!

BeckySig2

 

In summmmmer

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Yesterday was a sight for my sore, it-was-a-long-loooooong-winter eyes.

It brought delicious warm air and blue sky and leaves budding green on trees. I was so giddy about it all, I was this close to twirling around in the grass like Maria von Trapp. I was even closer to belting out In Summmmmer, Olaf style. In the end, I settled for tucking a dandelion behind my ear that my little plucked for me.

I was so tickled for and excited about the goodness that comes with this sunny time of year. As the day went on, I pulled memories of summers past from my pocket and, while they are all wonderful, I kept landing on the same one again and again.

When the sky turns pink at the end of the long, hot days, my boy and I swing back and forth together in the backyard hammock. We chat and giggle and enjoy each other. We pretend we're on an island surrounded by the big green sea. We tell stories or jokes as evening paints the sky. We read aloud or don't say much at all as the hammock swings back and forth.

This simple, sweet time together is one of my very favorite gifts of summer.

Summertime is knocking at our door. Yes! What are you most looking forward to enjoying?? Give me the details. I'd love to hear.

 

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Little Tikes Makeover!

You have likely seen the Little Tikes houses and play sets in backyards since the 90s. Most make me cringe. The pastel and faded colors have always been a big turn off to me from ever purchasing them. That is... until I found out that you can make them over! Note: it will take time and it will cost some money but in the end I would say this DIY is so worth it. LittleTikesAds.jpg

After consulting Pinterest for 1,000 ideas, this is how I gave our Little Tikes a makeover step by step:

Step One: Look for used Little Tikes on Craigslist or rummage sales to buy. I am amazed at how much people are reselling them for. I have seen some starting at $75 and up. And that's with them being faded or even broken a bit. pfff! Even if the sets are very faded they will look great once you are done with them! Don't let that deter you. Try to look at Craigslist daily to jump on the lower priced ones. I was able to get both the Little Tikes house and activity gym for $75 total but it took some time. The sellers were moving out of state and were desperate to get rid of them quickly. Win!

Step Two: Find a large vehicle or trailer to pick up the items. Use your husbands truck, remove the seats in your van or ask a friend/family member if you can borrow theirs. You will not fit these into your car going rummaging. Disassemble the Little Tikes panels and stack them in.

Step Three: Unload and wash the play set panels. Lay the Little Tikes panels on the grass or against the trees. Find a couple of large cleaning buckets and fill them with warm water and a bit of dish washing detergent. Enquire help from your littles who will now be  more than excited about their new (to them!) play sets. This kept my own kids busy for the time that I washed the play sets. Take a hose and rinse the play set pieces and don't forget to spray the children. :) Let the play set walls dry while you go shopping for spray paint!

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Step Four: Time to spray paint outside! But first, have your kids inside and if you are pregnant do NOT paint. I have a super helpful hubby who did most of the painting for me. Thanks hun! I highly recommend getting Krylon Fusion Spray paint that is specifically for Little Tikes kind of plastic. I chose earthy tones as I wanted to look out of our window and have our play sets blend into our nature a little more than their original bright colors. You can paint with any colors you want (and even have them match your home - adorable!) but I wanted to save some extra money and decided to only paint the windows and doors of the play house (leaving the wall panels and roof as they were saved time!) and repaint all the activity gym walls and slide. I purchased two spray cans of blue, two brown, two apple green, and one white. Paint the panels up against trees or the garage wall with cardboard or old sheets behind them to catch the spray paint.

Painting tip: If possible, remove the windows and door from the playhouse to paint. I was able to pull the windows out with lots of effort but unable to pull the door out on my own so I taped some paper in between the wall panel and the door to avoid any color getting on the walls. The picture below should help! 

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Step Five: Let the paint dry. The hardest step. Let the panels that are freshly painted dry and stay dry for seven days. Yes, a WHOLE WEEK! My husband and I learned the hard way that if you reassemble the parts before the paint is really REALLY adhered it will scratch off while the panel slots are pushed together again. nooooo! So instead, after 24 hours, stack the dry panels in your garage until they are ready to reassemble.

Step Six: Reassemble the Little Tikes panels! After letting the panels dry for a week you can reassemble the panels together like a puzzle and avoid any peeling of the paint. Hooray! Let my mistake be your victory, friends. You will need help to reassemble the panels. Bring out your kung fu skills and push, cram, and shove the panels back together. My husband had me hold one panel while he pushed or kicked the other panel in and sometimes would completely knock me (and the panel) over. Nice. Not so nice. We had some good laughs and I love that he was helping or I would have not been able to cram the pieces back together on my own.

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Step Seven: Celebrate! Enjoy a drink and a half hour of your children playing peacefully with their new play sets that they (hopefully!) waited patiently for just as much as you. :) Cheers to summer, days outside with popsicles, chalk, and bringing a bit of the 90s back!

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