Friday, May 31, 2013

Goodbye Kindergarten

Yesterday was such a bittersweet day.  My oldest smartie, Harper, graduated from kindergarten.  I can not believe how much she has grown and changed this school year.  Her last day consisted of a program for the parents in her classroom and then songs, recited scripture, a slide show and graduation in the sanctuary for the rest of the family to attend.  In the class, her teacher presented each child with an award for a trait that she has seen God place in each child.  Harper's award was for diligence.  I would by lying if I said I didn't cry my eyes out listening to her teacher's sweet, heart-felt words for not only Harper but each of her classmates.
My precious girl
Lined up with her cousin, Benjamin, who was in her class
Singing songs, reciting scripture and looking adorable

Harper, Benjamin (cousin), Mrs. Bailey and Mrs. Gauer
After graduation pedis with her little sister and then off to a special lunch together

                          Hello summer!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Staying fit

I have had a few people ask me how I find the time to exercise while being a single mom to my three smarties. I do not belong to a gym but have found things that work for me and keep me feeling good.  Here's what I do...

I found a couple of quick and simple exercise routines on Pinterest that I like to do.  I chose the ones that I could do without needing any equipment.  I find myself making excuses to not workout if I need to have all kinds of stuff to do it.  

Here's one of my favorites.  It's called the super fast fat blasting stair sprint workout. All you need is stairs.  You can shorten or lengthen this workout and the blogger gives you alternatives when you need to bump up the difficulty.  This is one I like to do after I put my smarties in the bed in the evenings.  

Another workout I've really enjoyed is Fit Friday: At home workouts.  No equipment needed and can be done in less than 30 minutes.  Another easy one to do once kids are in the bed for the night.

I love this ab routine and do it daily.  It can be done in the floor while my kids play around me and I don't need any equipment.  30 Day Ab Challenge

Running...It's something you can do without needing anything, you can do it anywhere, and for as long or as short of a distance as you like.  I recently bought a double jogging stroller on Craigslist ($65) and I will take my youngest smarties for a run/walk some mornings while my oldest smartie is in school. But even when I do have all three smarties with me, we go for walks around the neighborhood together. I want my kids to learn how important it is to take care of yourself and live a healthy life so I get them involved when I can.

I do own a treadmill and I will jump on it after the kids are in bed some nights and walk/run.  Getting on the treadmill was like torture for me for a while...I mean staring at a wall makes it hard to be on there for too long.  So I decided if I was going to use this thing, I had to find a motivator.  So I went on Netflix and picked a TV show I had never watched (I chose the show 24) and one that would keep my attention.  I only allow myself to watch an episode (or two sometimes) when I'm on the treadmill.  Every episode is a cliff-hanger so it keeps me wanting to get back on the treadmill.

I try and alternate between running, stair workout, and the at home workout.  I have found one thing is for sure with me...if I do one thing repeatedly without variety, I get totally burned out and end up not doing it at all.

I'd love for you to share some easy at home routines or things you like do to keep you exercising!  I'm always looking for new things to do.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

"Tie" backs

This weekend brought amazing weather here in North Carolina.  Perfect temps in my opinion.  So I opened every window in the house to let some fresh air flow through.  My children's rooms have one window in the them and I have black out curtains and liners on those windows.  I use old hair ribbons as tiebacks in my daughters' room but I hadn't thought of something cute to use in my son's room yet.  I was looking around his room trying to get an idea, when it hit me.  I looked over at his open closet and saw two neckties hanging on the doorknob.  Why not use those?  No they don't match but hey it did the job right?!  If you wanted to yours to match, I'm sure you could find a couple of cheap ones on a clearance rack somewhere!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

cute DIY gift

My sister-in-law and I were trying to think of a cute Mother's Day gift for the grandkids to make for their grandma.  She came across an idea of spelling out a word using FrogTape on a large blank canvas and letting the kids paint it.  I knew my 4 and 6 year old would not be happy if their little brother or little cousins painted on their part so we decided to get each child their own small canvas.  We chose the word LOVE. The kids had a blast doing this project and it was something even my 18 month old and his 21 month old cousin could partake in.  

Here's what we did:

-Got 5 x7 canvases at Michael's
-Using  FrogTape, put one letter on each canvas
-Poured out each color of paint on paper plates so the kids could share (Although I think if we did it again, we would let each child pick a color or two. My 4 year old used so many colors, her canvas turned out a yucky color.)
-Let the canvases dry over night.
-Pulled the tape off and ta-dah
-Since we have 5 kids and a four letter word, we let my 1 year old's canvas be used as a place for all the "artists" names to go.
Here's the paint we used.  We knew it had to be washable with our little ones using it.

We used FrogTape so we could easily get it off after the paint dried.  *We learned not to let the kids put a ton of paint on because it could cause the tape to move and then get paint where you don't want it to be.
They had lots of fun painting!

Here's how it turned out. 
I know Mother's Day has passed but this would be a cute gift for a loved one anytime of the year...Father's Day, birthday, etc. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Friday Favorite

While I haven't been able to restart my Shaklee business (since starting my "new life") I have not stopped using their amazing products.  I find new uses for them all the time.  Not long ago, I found a new use for my ScourOff.  This stuff works amazing wonders on my tile grout, showers, tubs, stove, sink but when my oldest smartie came home from a playdate with her shoes looking like they took a mud bath, I had a thought...instead of throwing them in the washing machine, why not see what ScourOff can do???  

Here's what happened...

Before I took this picture, I rinsed the shoes in the sink to get as much mud and dirt off as I could with just water.  My daughter has worn these shoes to school almost every day since school started.  

I think they look pretty good for lasting a whole school year!  What do you think? 

If you would like to try some of the amazing, non-toxic, safe, green Shaklee products for yourself, visit this website

Not only is it an amazing smells so yummy!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Rainy Day Fun

My nephew, Ethan, just had his third birthday and we were trying to think of something different to get him for a gift.  (We did get him a dvd he asked for but I wanted to get him something else to go with it.)  Here's the idea we came up with..."Rainy Day Fun in a Box." Recently, the kids and I made "indoor sand" and they have had so much fun with it, why not get all the supplies and put them in a box for Ethan?!  That way he would have a fun project to do and also have something to keep inside to play with on those rainy days.  

So here's what we got...

~1 large plastic container with lid (Target $3.22)
~a bag of flour (Target $1.94)
~bottle of vegetable oil (Target $3.00)
~plastic shower liner-to cover the table or floor when your kids play with the "sand" 
(Target $2.24)
~sand toys (Target $1.00)

Here's what we did...

1.  Put the flour, vegetable oil, shower liner and sand toys inside the plastic container.
2.  Typed out the directions and put them on the top of the container.
3. There is no's that simple!


*Mix 4 cups of flour with 1/2 cup of vegetable oil with hands.
*Have fun with your sand toys, small cars, etc!!
*Store the "sand" in the container...keep lid on tight. 

Here are two of my smarties playing in their homemade sand and we've done this a lot lately since its been raining here almost daily for the past two weeks!
 Do you have any fun, cheap, do it yourself ideas for birthday gifts?  Between my three kids, we have lots of birthday parties to attend and I would love to start giving DIY gifts more often!

 Join me on Facebook at My little smarties

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Classmate gifts

Harper's kindergarten class has been such a blessing.  All the kids in there are so sweet and they all get along and play together so we wanted to give all her friends a little end of the year gift.  I, of course, went straight to Pinterest and saw this cute and cheap idea so we went with it...

We got one pack of Kool-Aid for each child and attached it to a Krazy Straw and added a little note.  For her class of 18, this only cost me $8 and I have some packets and straws left over.  The straws come in packs of 6 at the Dollar Tree and I got the packets of mix at Target-5/$1

We loved this idea so much that we made a few more for Harper's soccer team for end of the season teammate gifts.

If you didn't want to do the straws with the Kool-Aid, I also saw a recipe for making your own play dough that you could type out an attach to the packets.  

Here's the recipe...

1 cup flour
1/4 cup salt
2 Tbsp cream of tartar 
1 package unsweetened Kool Aid mix
1 cup water 
1Tbsp vegetable oil

Directions: Mix the flour, salt, cream of tartar and Kool Aid in a medium pan. Add the water and oil. Stir over medium heat for about 3-5 minutes. Remove the mixture when it forms a ball. Knead it until it’s smooth. Let cool and store in an airtight container OR have fun playing!!! Repeat for each color of play dough you want to make.

Have any fun, cute, and cheap ideas for end of the year classmate gifts?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

End of the year teacher gift

It hit me the other day that my oldest smartie only has a few days of school left (she gets out May 30th)!  So I was trying to think of a little something to get her teachers as a "Summer is here!" gift.  I thought back to when I was teaching and one year I had a student give me a beach bag filled with "summer things."  I also saw similar cute ideas on Pinterest so that's what we went with for this year.  We found a beverage jug at Target for $3 and filled it with cup, packets of Crystal Lite lemonade, sunscreen, bug spray, chewing gum, spf chapstick, and some pieces of their favorite candy.  I let my daughter put the gift together, which she loved and then we added a note to the jug's handle.

Do you give your child's teacher(s) an end of the year gift?  I'd love for you to share your ideas!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Organizing clothes

My kids are beyond blessed with clothes...from hand-me-downs from friends, borrowing from cousins and grandmas who love to buy them outfits!  Keeping all these clothes organized is a not so easy task especially when my children don't have dressers.  My son has three small drawers that are attached to his crib/changing table combo but the only clothing I keep in them are pjs.  My daughters have staircase bunk beds with a few drawers on the side and we keep undies, socks and pjs in them.  But that leaves me with tons of pants, shorts, capris, etc that need a place to call home.  So I was looking for an inexpensive way to organize all the clothes that I didn't want hang in their closets.  Then one day, someone asked me if I needed a changing table for Archer.  I said no because he had one attached to his crib.  Then I had a lightbulb moment...why not repurpose that changing table as a "dresser"?  So without doing anything other than taking the changing pad off, Archer had a new, free dresser.  I loved the idea so much that I wanted to do the same thing in the girls' room.  I found a very similar changing table at a consignment store for $45.  Now all three kids have a place for their folded clothing.  What do you think?

 Here's the girls' "dresser"...bottom shelf is for pants/capris, middle is for shorts, the drawer has all their swim suits and the top has one basket for tights and one basket for dance clothes.

 Here's Archer's "dresser"...bottom shelf holds blankets, sheets and mattress protectors.  Middle shelf is diaper storage and bathing suits (which I'm going to put in the drawer).  The drawers has socks (and will have bathing suits).  And the top has both his pants (on the left) and shorts (on the right).

Have you repurposed anything lately?  I'd love for you to share!

find me on Facebook at my little smarties

Friday, May 3, 2013

Friday Favorite

A favorite snack around our house is popcorn.  It's a relatively healthy, easy snack option.  But did you know you can make your own microwavable popcorn?  All you need is popcorn kernels, a brown paper lunch bag, salt and butter (optional).  Pour 1/4 of a cup of kernels into a brown paper lunch bag, fold the bag down a few times and stick it in the microwave.  I tried adding more than 1/4 cup of kernels once and quickly realized the bag wasn't big enough to hold all the popcorn once it started popping.  I had popcorn all over my I recommend 1/4 cup!  Push the popcorn button on your microwave and in a couple of minutes you have your own microwave popcorn. Since microwaves differ in power, listen and once your hear 5+ second pauses in between pops your popcorn is probably done.

We like to add some melted butter and Jane's Krazy Mixed-Up Salt to ours for some flavor but you can fix yours to suit your taste buds.  Enjoy!
Not much needed for this snack!

Yummy popcorn in just a couple of minutes!

Do you have any quick, easy, healthy snack options you keep on hand at your house?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

A few good books and Giveaway

I would give anything to go back and have read a couple of these books before my marriage failed.  I feel like if I had, maybe I wouldn't be where I am right now.  Because of the power and knowledge these books possess, I wanted to share them with you...

The Love Dare by Alex and Stephen Kendrick
I ran to the book store when my husband told me he no longer loved me and bought this book, hoping to take the Dare and repair our marriage. Unfortunately, he didn't want to fix our marriage and I didn't get a chance to try this out for myself. But I read it anyway and watched the movie, Fireproof (it's on instant queue on Netflix).  After I read it and watched the movie, I wanted to tell every married friend I had to do the same.  Even if you don't feel like your marriage is in trouble, take the dare and make your marriage even stronger. 
*I loved this book so much that I am giving a copy away to one lucky reader.  See below on how to's super easy!
EDIT 5/7/13-It was brought to my attention after I posted this that Fireproof is no longer available on instant queue on Netflix.  It was on there a few days before this post, not sure why they took it off. But wanted to let everyone know...sorry!!

The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman
When the kids and I moved to Winston-Salem, we started attending the church where my oldest is going to kindergarten.  I thought I would be a great way to meet people and for her to be around kids from school.  It became so much more than that.  Dr. Chapman was preaching while the church searched for a new head pastor.  Listening to him every Sunday, was such a blessing.  The first Sunday we attended service, I went up and spoke to Dr. Chapman, told him a super brief story of why what brought us there and he prayed with me.  He then told me to come by  his office and he had something to give me.  The next day after taking my daughter to school, I went by his office where he had a copy of The Five Love Languages and another book I will talk about in a minute.  Oh how I wish I had read this book years ago!  I urge you to pick up a copy today and you and your spouse read it...I truly believe it will change your marriage in a good way!

If you happen to be in the same position that I am in and are separated from your spouse, I have two books I read that have really helped me deal with this.

Broken Heart on Hold by Linda Rooks
A friend sent me this book when my husband and I first separated. It can be read as a daily devotional or all the way through at once.  I chose to read it all the way through because I needed to hear the words she wrote, stories of other women she included and scripture and prayers she added in.  When I found myself to emotionally drained and too weak to come up with my own prayers when I needed to talk to God, Linda had some really good ones for me to use for all kinds of issues you go through when you're separated.

Hope for the Separated by Dr. Gary Chapman
This is the other book Dr. Chapman gave me and it was absolutely a huge help to me in my struggles.  He tells stories of other couples he's worked with and helped over the years.  And his words speak so much truth and shine light on things that I needed to realize. 


Looking for a good daily devotional...

Jesus Calling by Sarah Young
I don't know how many times I have read the devotion for a certain day and swear the author wrote it just for me.  This devotional speaks directly to me and I'm not sure how I got through the early days of my separation without it.  It has given me that extra push I needed to give everything over to God and trust in him and His plan completely. 

 There is also a kids' version that I got for my girls and I believe it has really helped them.  It's a great way to sit down and have some daily devotional time with your kids.  

I wish no other mom or woman had to go through what I have these past several months!  Unfortunately I know there are plenty of others out there struggling the like I have, trying to understand what happened, rebuild their lives, find a new normal, carry the burden of it all on their shoulders so their children will feel as little pain as possible.  I will pray for each and every one of you out there!  We can do this!!   

Who wants a copy of The Love Dare?  Comment below and I will pick a winner at the end of the day.  I will send the winner a message and announce it on My little smarties Facebook page tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Sharing some memories...

Just thought I'd share a few pictures of some bright spots of the last few months (while I was absent from blogging). 

Harper started a new school January 7th.  She LOVES her school and her cousin, Benjamin, is even in her class!

We became members of a wonderful church (also where Harper goes to school) and both girls are involved in Sunday night Children's Choir.  Palmer's class had their parent night last weekend.

We moved into a new house...where we have already made good memories celebrating St. Patricks Day, my birthday, and Easter.

Archer loves the playroom.

Harper also started playing soccer at the YMCA and she ran in her first Fun Run to raise money for her school to do service projects in the community.

And we went to visit cousins that we miss dearly!