Summer Learning – Camping

I used to love to camp, but admittedly it isn’t something we’ve done since having children. I am more than a bit overwhelmed at the thought of camping with littles. Overcoming that fear is for another day! Today we are talking about bringing the camping to us. My oldest has been begging to go camping for years and since we haven’t we like to set up our tent either in the backyard or even in our living room. Since it is a bit hot here in AZ at the moment we decided to have our campout inside!

Pretend Play:

I wish I had gotten some pictures of this but it was a busy morning! I put up our small pop up tent in the living room which was a huge hit with all the kids (ranging from 18 months to 5 years old). For the older kids they had some fun pretending to roast marshmallows. I made a campfire out of paper towel rolls and red, orange and yellow tissue paper. I had M go find 3 sticks and added cotton balls to the end with hot glue so they could roast marshmallows.

Read:

We had three books to read but attention spans weren’t there today so we read two of the three: Maisy Goes Camping and We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. I love to see what kiddos think of books and am ever impressed with the observations they have. Reading to children is the most important thing we could ever do for their education (in my opinion).

Maisy Goes Camping

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Amelia Bedelia Goes Camping

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fine Motor and Learning:

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I found some adorable free camping printables (source listed below). I only used a couple of them but there are a variety of options for whatever you may want to focus on. For our kiddos we focused on the following:

  • fine motor skills with some cutting practice
  • beginning letter sounds for camping vocabulary
  • spotting the differences in a line of animals.

Printable Source

Crafts:

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After reading We’re Going on a Bear Hunt we were pumped to make a Bear Hunt Map! I had a different craft planned but couldn’t help but switch at the last minute.  These are so darn cute. I asked M what her favorite part of the playdate was and she emphatically told me it was the Bear Hunt. Once they made their maps we quickly added some stickers to “binoculars”. At that point we headed out for our Bear Hunt! It was so fun going through each area slowly and then running back quickly. The best part was how much energy they burned while on their Bear Hunt.

Camping Treats:

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We really couldn’t have this playdate without including some appropriate treats for the occasion. I started with an interactive campfire treat that they built out of raisins (the rocks around the fire), pretzel sticks (for the wood) and buttered popcorn (the fire!). I had seen a bunch of these types of snacks on Pinterest but most of them were super sugary treats. Since I knew I also wanted to include a s’mores treat I opted to find some healthier options. Then at the end we enjoyed s’mores pudding cups that I made ahead of time.

I hope that if you can’t get out to go camping in nature that you can enjoy a camping setup right at home! These ideas can be whipped up in no time and make for a lot of fun pretend play.

 

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Summer Learning – The Gruffalo

This Gruffalo playdate was so much fun! My dear friend who planned this did a phenomenal job. She is all about sensory play and didn’t disappoint. I have loved having a few structured activities this summer for my little ones. It’s amazing how much changes when we don’t have the structure of school. When we have planned activities these little people respond with better behavior. We love summer (except for the hot AZ heat) but a tiny bit of structure is imperative!

Read:

We started off by reading The Gruffalo since not all of the kiddos had heard it.

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Gruffalo Sensory:

She created this really fun sensory box that had all of the elements of “The Gruffalo” that was a huge hit with the younger kids but even the older children enjoyed it for a bit.

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Idea Source

The older kids also really enjoyed playing with the kits that were made to be the Owl Ice Cream, Scrambled Snake and Roasted Fox. The Owl Ice Cream was really fun because it was white playdough and she used feathers and googly eyes for them to add to it in order to make the “Owl Ice Cream”. Because it is open-ended this got a lot of play time.

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Fine Motor:

She found a really cute idea on Pinterest to clip the purple spikes on the Gruffalo for fine motor practice. She didn’t see anywhere that offered it as a download so she used a picture of a Gruffalo, cut the spikes off and made her own purple spikes out of cardstock and paper clips. This is a great fine motor skill disguised as just another playtime activity! I love it when they have so much fun that they don’t even realize they are doing something good for them.

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 Imaginative Play:

The kids didn’t have a chance to play with this but she also found really cute Gruffalo Story telling mats. This is the kind of thing that is great for a quiet time activity if anyone needs it! We love using story telling mats because it gives those little minds an opportunity to get creative. It is also great because they learn about putting things in the right order (beginning, middle and end).

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Printables used

Get Active:

We like to get them up and around once their little attention spans are stalled. This was a great activity to do in between to get them active both mentally and physically. They each had sheets where she had put printed pictures of the characters from the book, then they had to find the same matching pictures taped to the wall. This might have been the favorite activity of the day because they had a goal to find their matching pictures. Of course they got a little competitive but they even had fun helping their friends find their matches as well.

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Idea and Printable Source

Eat:

To represent The Gruffalo Crumble talked about in the book she made muddy buddies! It’s always great to end with a treat in my humble opionion. The kids didn’t mind either 😉 While we ate the delicious Gruffalo Crumble we watched the movie of The Gruffalo. Everyone was so wound up with excitement that this was a great way to end the playdate and calm down a little before we left. If you haven’t watched it yet you should. It’s great because it is a retelling of the story but slowly and with great animation. It kept everyones attention the entire time.

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Takeaway:

She sent us home with some really cute finger puppets that I forgot to photograph but listed the source below.

Idea Source

Feel free to use these ideas to put together a fun playdate with your friends or just your little ones!  This would be great to do on any school break really. You could do it on Fall break and add some fun dress up too! Think how cute it would be to dress up as a Gruffalo. Or even the mouse, snake, owl or fox! There’s really a lot that can be done with this theme.

 

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Summer Learning – Ocean Playdate

Our second learning playdate this summer was hosted by a good friend. Her son has been very into the ocean so she decided to go all out with the ocean playdate theme this time around. There’s something about a good theme that really gets me excited! She did a phenomenal job putting it all together and the kiddos had a blast. We had so much fun at this ocean playdate! We enjoyed sensory play, lots of arts and crafts, a little math and topped it off with some yummy ocean snacks!

Sensory:

As people started arriving we had ocean slime to play with. The kiddos enjoyed squishing, stamping and stretching the slime. There were even little gummy ocean animals to play with along side the slime.

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Math:

There were two math activities, one was a graphing sheet and the other was ocean animal tangrams! These littles are just started to become interested in math so it’s fun to see them light up when we connect the dots.

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 Graph Printable Source

 

Crafts:

There were THREE craft projects that we did as well. Crafts are always a winner with these kiddos. The first craft we started out with a piece of aluminum foil for each kids’ canvas. They placed ocean themed stickers down and then painted blue over it for the ocean. The second was a neat dancing jelly fish where they got to do a lot of gluing and then enjoyed making their jelly fish dance in the ocean! The third craft was creating sea creatures from a neat set of stickers. This might have been the favorite.

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Sea Life Sticker Source

Read:

Peanut Butter and Jellyfish By: Jarrett J Krosoczka

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Fish Eyes: A book you can count on By: Lois Ehlert

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An ocean playdate wouldn’t be complete without a few snacks! We enjoyed little bags of goldfish as well as ocean jello! Look how cute it turned out!

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I hope that you get a chance to have an ocean playdate as well, it was so much fun! Hopefully the next playdate will better represented with pics from my new camera!

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Summer Learning – Ice Cream Playdate

We really enjoyed this ice cream playdate which included the following ice cream goodness:

  • ice cream play dough
  • an ice cream craft
  • ice cream rhyming
  • ice cream reading
  • homemade ice cream!

I believe in learning through play and figured an ice cream playdate would make a great start to our summer! Myself and a few of my friends decided that we wanted to have some fun with our Pre-school and Kindergarten age children this summer. We settled on a lot of  just for fun activities on our summer bucket list but we also wanted to include some learning. At this age I believe in learning that is mostly fun and learning through play.

A lot of the reason I chose this theme is because my eldest has been obsessed with ice cream. Ice cream clothes, pajamas and earrings to name a few! We recently switched an old piece of furniture from a puppet theatre into an Ice Cream Parlor. I found some cute cones at Lakeshore Learning, used ball pit balls for ice cream and added a few DIY’s to round things out.  We also snagged a cute sign from the Target dollar spot and added our own “flavors”. This was great pretend play in between activities while I was setting up for the next. Once I finish up a couple of details I will share the Ice Cream Parlor in all of it’s pretend play glory.

For our playdate I focused on a few fun activities to get our summer started off right!

Ice Cream Play dough:

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You really can’t beat a good sensory activity. This play dough is really neat because it actually feels (minus the cold) and looks like ice cream! It is definitely  “edible” but unless you want your child hyped up on frosting and powdered sugar tell them not to eat it ;-).

 

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Rhyming Activity:

This was a really fun activity that we were able to work on scissor skills as well as rhyming words! I found it on Teachers Pay Teachers, which if you haven’t heard of is stellar! This was an ice cream playdate win for sure.

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Craft:

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For my daughter this was probably one of her favorite parts because she loves anything to do with arts and crafts. This was a super simple option that still allowed for some creativity with the “toppings”. To keep things quick I cut out the cones and let each kid glue that to the page and then I had a bowl of “ice cream” (a mixture of glue and shaving cream) ready for them to scoop on top and then they added sprinkles.

 

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Reading:

We read “Should I Share My Ice Cream” By: Mo Willems which they thoroughly enjoyed. Afterwards we talked about what it means to be a good friend and how sharing is integral to that.

Should I Share my Ice Cream?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Last but not least we couldn’t have an ice cream playdate without making homemade ice cream! We found a simple vanilla ice cream recipe in our ice cream maker.

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We went through the activities pretty easily and I even took a bunch of pictures with my new DSLR! Unfortunately… I’m still learning what the heck I’m doing because I used a memory card that wasn’t appropriately formatted and I lost all of those adorable pics. Super sad panda. Great example of how I TRY to DIY… and it doesn’t always work out. I hope this helps you organize a fun Ice Cream Playdate with all of the fun ideas compiled!

 

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Symbols for Goals

Symbols for Goals

I used to set New Years Resolutions  (yes I’m aware it’s May) like a mad woman. I really meant business. But somewhere along the line it stopped working for me. So I stopped setting them. Makes sense, right?! I love goals and I love resolving to do something that improves my life. What I have done most recently is to set myself “goals” but for much shorter periods of time.

I honestly thought I would never set “New Years Resolutions” again. BUT I had a timely conversation with my mom right before 2016 ended. She shared with me her process for “setting goals”. It’s quite a bit different than what I have heard most people do. She chooses 4 symbols, one for each season of the year to focus on. Each symbol has meaning to her and she uses it to visualize those things she wants to create in her life.

I love this idea! I knew that I wanted to adapt it for myself though so here is what I did (in January  btw… even though I’m just sharing this now). Part of what I really love about this is that it allows the Universe to do it’s thang but let’s me have a focus for what I need right now.

Step One:

The process starts by thinking of all the words that you want for this year to be. Ever with the #moreismore attitude about life I created a pretty lengthy list. Here are just a few of the words I came up with:

Energy

Progress

Thrive

Balance

Peace

Accord

Good Vibes

Revitalized

Believe

Understand

Accept

Trust

Healing

Creation

Transformation

Step Two:

Then I began to look up symbols for those words. You don’t have to choose something that someone has already assigned meaning to but it helped me get started. I drew out a bunch of symbols and let myself tune out and tune in to what I need this year.

Step Three:

After I spent some time doodling symbols I was able to clearly see which ones I wanted to use for my year ahead. I took a plain piece of printer paper and created 4 quadrants to draw my symbols.

Step Four:

Lastly, I hung it up where I can see it everyday!

This process isn’t quite like setting New Years Resolutions I suppose, but that’s probably why it’s working for me at this point in my life. I’m excited to focus on just a few things that make a huge impact on everything else. I’m already starting to think about what those symbols (and the meanings behind them) mean to my life. I know that they mean a lot more when paired with actionable items. The more that I focus on those symbols the more that I can see clearly what I need to do for those things to manifest in my life. This feels like a much more natural way to setup my year for success. That paired with my natural desire to set goals all year long are working for me now!

Update:

My first season’s symbol was a sun, chosen to mean ENERGY for me. I have to say that I do think it’s worked to help me focus on things that I can do to improve my energy. Slowly I added new habits to help me with this. Here are some of the things I did:

  • Created a mantra that I use often “My body and mind are well rested and ready to rock this day!”
  • Focused on drinking more water every day
  • Joined a gym
  • Started using a fitbit again to track my steps
  • I made a concerted effort to focus on positive energy, instead of negative

New Symbol/Goal:

Now that the first quarter of 2017 is a bit in the past, I can say that using a symbol for my goal and having a finite time (the first three months of the year) really worked for me! This quarter (April-June) my focus is on Peace. Here are some of the things I will focus on throughout the quarter:

  • Thinking only positive thoughts – pushing out the negative
  • Allowing other people to have their wars, but not let them be mine
  • Creating peace in my home by continually decluttering
  • Teaching peace to my daughters through example
  • Yoga and meditation practice regularly
  • Sending peace to others through peaceful thoughts

I’m hoping this quarter goes as well as it did last quarter!

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Happy Mother’s Day

Almost 3 years ago exactly (thanks Facebook memories), I quit working to stay home with my then only child who was 1 year old. Many people expressed joy that I would be able to do this. Then there were others who wanted to “warn” me of how I would feel. Suffocated, bored, etc. These were just a few ways people told me that I would feel about being a stay at home mother (SAHM). I can 100% say at this point that they were/are wrong. For me, being home with my kids (now two of them) has been an amazing journey. It was absolutely the right choice for me and my family. I loved working and plan on going back at some point.

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 Right now I focus all of my time and energy on snuggling up my two girls tight while also:

  • Reading library book after library book
  • Playing “princess family”
  • Singing songs
  • Having dance parties to Trolls music
  • Teaching life lessons
  • Kissing boo boos.

And what don’t I do? I don’t ever feel suffocated or bored or whatever else they said I would feel.

As many people do in situations such as these, they simply want you to feel their pain. These people want– no, they desperately need to overlay their emotions and feelings onto your soul. It isn’t that they aren’t trying to drag you down. No, they simply don’t know how to express the pain they feel in their position. The best thing you can do is to not let their negative energy affect you while at the same time having sympathy for their pain. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. Let’s all do our best not to throw the worst part of ourselves at other people. Maybe instead we should focus on our best selves and share that loud and proud.

All of this to say that we should be lifting up our fellow mothers. Encouraging each to be who they are and do what is best for them. We all have different beliefs, strengths, desires and goals. Let’s help all the mamas out there to be who they want to be and do what they want to do.

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 Happy Mother’s day to every mother, pseudo mother, other mother, and woman who wants to be a mother. May you each enjoy this day and be buoyed up in the joy that is motherhood.

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Three for Thursday – Using my stash, DIY Felt Projects!

I not only love to DIY, I love the materials used to do so. I’m sure my immense love for crafting and DIY materials is sane, right? But it’s important that I actually use them to make beautiful things. After recently moving I’ve been uncovering delightful craft and DIY goodies! It got me thinking that maybe I could share some focused projects based on a particular material. The lucky winner this week? Felt! Felt is so versatile for crafting and DIY. Let’s make some DIY felt projects together!

After I oohed and ahh’ed at my own felt stash I started looking at all of the felt projects I’ve been wanting to accomplish. I narrowed it down to three major groupings: gifts, flowers and holiday decor. I’m really excited to knock some of these out soon!

DIY Felt Projects: Gifts

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Both of these little animals are absolutely adorable! I picked both because I have friends who are particularly fond of each of them (different friends) and I love honoring people’s favorite animals. Heck I got mine tattooed on my left arm! I also like that these are both practical and useful. The panda is a cell phone case and the fox of course is a coffee sleeve.

DIY Felt Projects: Flowers

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These felt flowers (and succulents) are just darling! I love how intricately felt can be formed. They are almost better than the real thing since they don’t die 🙂 I’m not very good at keeping plants alive. Although I’ve had an orchid for almost two months! I’ve been meaning to make some felt flowers for a while now. I think that time has come.

DIY Felt Projects: Holiday Decor

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The holidays are suddenly upon us! Christmas before last I made a ton of felt ornaments for our tree since I had a toddler. I figured that she would get into everything and that I had better make it all safe. She barely touched anything! Now that I’ve got another baby roaming around I’m glad that I put the effort in at that point. I may make a few more ornaments but I’d like to try my hand at some sort of felt garland and maybe a special advent calendar.

What are you going to make out of felt?

 

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Get back up again

I get knocked down…

And I get back up again. Who has Chumbawamba stuck in their head now? I do. I have had a hell of a time lately. And by lately I mean the last year. It’s really hard when you KNOW the things that will improve your mind set. Exercising, eating right, getting out of the house, showering, self love in general–all of these things help, and I know it. So why can’t I do anything? Why can’t I write here regularly when I know this outlet leads to clarity in my heart? I don’t know. But all I can do is keep getting back up. Every. Single. Time.

With that, I’m not going to make any grand promises to myself about posting regularly. But I’m hoping as I heal I will be here more often. Creating again, sharing again, being myself again. Giving myself some self love. For now, I have no shame in faking it until I make it. I will do my best to put a smile on my face each and every day not only for my daughter’s but also for my own sake. Hopefully sooner than later I will wake up and that smile won’t be fake. Until then, I’m holding on. It really is true that it doesn’t matter if you fall, what matters is how you get back up. And IF you get back up. Keep falling? Keep getting back up.

This has been an immensely humbling and incredibly exhausting year for me. That being said, I’m so grateful for my life and for my experiences in this life. I have much to be grateful for: I know who I am more than I ever have before. I’m confident in my mama skills like I’ve never been. I have the best non-judgey, real friends ever. And most important I know I can handle anything that is thrown at me.

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Self Care – PPD tip of the week

Don’t lose your medication. Then don’t ignore that you lost your medication for a week. Ha! Ok just kidding, that’s not my tip…. but seriously don’t do that.  It’s not pretty if this happens. I’ve had a rough time since Drea was born but I had no idea how much worse it could possibly get until this happened last week. I didn’t think I could shed so many tears in so little time. I’m not quite ready to fully delve into my PPD issues right now but I know that something needs to change. I’m writing this post for anyone who has PPD but it’s really for me. Because it’s the story of my life right now. Let’s talk about self care!

So here’s the real tip: Take care of yourself !

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Hooray for Self Care!

It is so incredibly important that we take care of ourselves. Self care is truly one of the most important aspects of our lives. Without it you risk not being able to take care of those you love. I know it’s hard, but do it. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant. I didn’t become a mother until I was almost 30 years old. Due to this fact, I had A LOT of time pre-baby where all I had to take care of was myself. I used to be incredible about self-care. I got massages regularly (weekly usually but at least twice a month). I went to get my nails done, hair done, ya know all that good stuff. I spent hours leisurely strolling through clothing stores looking for things that I might like to try on (even though I had way too many clothes). I took my sweet time getting ready to go out. Long showers, baths – whatever I wanted. Life isn’t exactly like that anymore. If you’re a mama to young ones right now I’m sure you understand. Just because I can’t spend as much time doesn’t mean that I can’t do something nice for myself.

Sometimes we need a little reminder that we can’t take care of others unless we are cared for. Our families depend on us to do so many things and it isn’t selfish to take care of yourself, it’s necessary. Ever get sick when you’ve been running yourself ragged? The universe knows that you need a break so it MAKES you take a break. We’ve all been there. Let’s be proactive and take care of ourselves!

Here are some easy self care items that I’ve been making an effort at lately:

  • Spending a little extra time getting ready (remember makeup? 😉
  • Painting my nails
  • Exfoliating my feet
  • Reading a book during nap instead of cleaning
  • Going to exercise (I went to yoga last week for the first time in years!)

I can definitely do better in this realm which is why I’m posting here. The same as we advocate so strongly for our children we need to be advocates for ourselves. Ask for what we need or we won’t get it. I have the most amazingly intuitive and thoughtful husband. He generally sees what I need before I even realize what that thing is. Keep an open line of communication with the people that you love so that they can help you take care of yourself.

Remember – this stage isn’t forever. Thank God, right? Do your best, get through this. Take care of yourself, it’s an important part of healing.

 

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Motherhood is

Motherhood

Motherhood is a crazy thing. It runs the gamut of emotions and on the daily we move from one extreme to another (I mean our kids… but maybe us too!)

Motherhood…

Sometimes it’s silly

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Sometimes it’s exhausting

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Sometimes it’s sweet

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Sometimes it’s confused

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Sometimes it’s grumpy

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Sometimes it’s proud

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Sometimes it’s irritable

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Sometimes it’s content

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Sometimes it’s messy

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Sometimes it’s magical

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None of these pics have been edited, because that’s life right now. But this is what my life has been lately and although it’s not perfect (not even close) it’s mine and I love it.

The longer I’m a mother (it’s only been a whopping 3 years and 3 months-ish) the more that I’m truly grateful to my mom. I wanted to include a pic of her with my girls but she would kill me if I did … sooooo I didn’t 🙂 Give your mothers and “other mothers” lots of love this weekend!

 

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