One of my favorite little boys just turned 2 and for his birthday we decided to do something a little different for his gift. So if you have a toddler birthday coming up here is an idea for a fun, easy and to quote the lovely Sandra Lee, semi-homemade.
Elmo ABC book, Animal flashcards, washable markers, paint set, colored pencils, crayons and a
tub of sidewalk chalk
We made him a craft tub filled with goodies that were all washable or erasable, aka the only type of colored writing item to have in the house. The awesome part of this all is that stores like Target have a plethora of these items beginning in mid-July and lasting through the middle of September. So stock up during this time! There are more options and they are usually less expensive during this period as well. And don't forget Target's discount section near the front of the store. I ALWAYS stop in there and add to my secret stash of fun items. Great for coloring books, containers, stickers, etc...
We found a shower caddy and added puff paint to snazz it up and make it clear just 
who these treasures belong to <wink>. 
My tools
The homemade part was my favorite, so of course I saved it for last! We have a roll of paper from Ikea that we use for all our craft times and I LOVE. I decided to use some of this durable paper and create spaces for this little one's masterpieces. To make the frames as uniform as possible I used an 8x10 picture frame's backing and traced it with a thick black marker, then decorated away. This way whenever he is done with an original piece his mommy can cut it off and hang it on the wall. I must say that by the end of this project, aka nap time coming to a close, I knew I needed to make some for Baby Love. 

Total cost for this gift was $13.75, easily $15 dollars less than if these items had been purchased elsewhere. Absolutely love being able to give a gift for less 
without compromising any of the quality! 
To our sweet Aedan, we have loved being able to love on you this last year and 
can't wait to see what this next year brings. You are a very special little boy and we are so glad to have you in our lives. Happiest of Birthdays!

 As a parent there are many crossroads you face and sometimes you just have to make a decision and pray that it was the best decision out of the available options. We have learned that often the right choice won't manifest fruit for awhile, while the wrong choice will show the ugliness of its face quickly. This leads to much waiting and praying, and more waiting.

 Around the start of this past year we were convicted over our word choice when talking about work and school. We realized that we were using a down tone and words like "have to" rather than "gets to". Now we all know why we did that, neither of us wanted him to be gone. At the time Baby Love was small enough that there wasn't anything he was doing that told us this needed to change, it was simply a quiet voice of conviction. We resolved to change how we spoke about these matters and to truly find in our hearts a grateful place from which to speak. For we are grateful he has a job. Incredibly grateful he is doing well in classes and gets to continue his studies. And equally blessed when he is able to be home with us. 

 We have successfully altered how we speak about these areas and in turn have noticed our hearts changing as well. Whether or not this made a difference to Baby Love was still an unknown until the other day. 

 During play time he picked up his "case" that he says is for "work", packed it up. Grabbed his favorite ball, said goodbye to his toys then with a huge and beaming smile on his face came to kiss me goodbye. I asked where he was going and he said "work", with a bright smile on his face! He proceeded to march to the door where he stood for a period of about 30 seconds. Then he turned and walked back into the room, put his "case" down where Kevin puts his briefcase when he gets home, and ran to kiss me hello. I thanked him for going to work and asked how it was. He replied "good!" with enthusiasm and joy. In response to me asking if he did any important work he hemmmed and replied "yeah". Then went about greeting his toys. We did this at least 20 times that day. Each time the joy and tenacity was there. It was a moment where all of our hard work and the listening to the tiny conviction in our hearts, were manifested and redeemed! What a wonderful moment! It made me sit and think about all of the other tough decisions we have made and I dreamt for a second of what those would look like when they too are redeemed. Only for a second though, for my little man was returning from work and wanted another kiss....

If you haven't heard about MyPublisher, then let us introduce you to a company that has made our gift giving, scrapbook inclined, photo documenting hearts happy. We have used them for the last 5 years and couldn't be more pleased with the results. Today we are exceedingly grateful because we just found out that our favorite promotion of theirs just started! 
For $35 +shipping and handling you can get what normally retails for around $120+shipping and handling. Just use the coupon code:
Amazing right? On average we manage to make books that have close to 400 pictures and the max amount of pages, 100. No, we aren't getting compensated in any form for sharing this with you. We just love to share fabulous finds like these with anyone who will listen! So hurry on over and start your own book. They make great gifts for the parental units, grandparents, siblings that live far away. At this price you can finally get some of those Christmas gifts purchased in advance! The offer ends 
July 26th. 
And don't worry, we won't tell anyone how much you saved. <wink> What are you thankful for today?

Play along with us! Every Thursday we will post something we are thankful for, and I would love it if you did so as well on your blogs.The Button is on the right hand side of the page, just click, copy and paste. Oh! And let people know where you found it! It is medicine for the soul to give thanks and when done regularly contentment comes into reach. And it can be anything, silly, personal, or blog related. Just take a moment to give thanks!
...The Bachelor just did their hometown visits on Monday and one of my favorite moments was when Constantine's father expressed the importance of working at a marriage in order to keep it healthy. This is something most of us have heard, but I am not sure many of us truly understand. What does it mean to "work" at a marriage? And how does a couple stay motivated to continue this calling, year after year? We of course have our own thoughts, but would love to hear yours! So please, take a second and pass on your pearls of wisdom. 

Baby Love is growing so quickly that it is getting difficult to keep him in clothes! We, like many parents these days, love to see our little boys dressed like little men, rather than babies. In pondering our current clothing problem we found a solution that we are so in love with we just had to share it with you guys. 
Hanes - Toddler Boys 5 Pack Crewneck T-Shirts, White, T2145 (Size 2/3)
Hanes toddler tee-shirts that come in a 5 pack and 
are a little over $5 at Wal-Mart! 
They also have:
Hanes Toddler Boys' 5 Pack Tank,(White-2T/3T)
 for a little over $6. 
We love these for the look, the price and the fact that they can be bleached from all of the summer berry and ketchup stains that are inevitable. We must say that they make our little man look like very stylish! 
So pass this tip on, or use it for yourself. After all, that little extra that you saved would like nice spent on something else. Are we right? 
Happy Tuesday!
As it is summer Baby Love needs a place to splash around on those hot days. So naturally we set out to our local toy stores searching for a compact tub or table for him to use this summer. We saw things like:
Step2 WaterWheel Activity Play Table
Sand and Water Activity Table
Little Tikes Island Adventure Water Table
All of which were easily in the $40-$75 price range, not to mention very large and well, um...."colorful". Our outdoor space in our wonderful city apartment is compact (read small) and we use it constantly. The thought of having our outdoor space overtaken by the plastic toddler gods made us both cringe. But we knew that Baby Love needed something. Then we had a light bulb moment and pulled out a fabulous tin centerpiece bowl that we had used in our wedding and ever since. 

It stores easily under our outdoor loveseat, does double duty to float candles when Baby Love is asleep and he LOVES it! When it is left out it isn't an eye sore and it didn't cost us a penny.Our advice to other parents in situations like ours? Look around at decoration stores instead of toy stores and don't feel bad if it looks like it belongs in your space. Your kid will love it just the same!

...on Abbey's Fashion Blog which you can find here
Pop on over to see what has been happening. 
Happy Weekend!

June (9 month Prego)
Celebrate Caitlin's birthday early!
~ Sweet Caitlin ended up sharing a birthday with our newest addition!
Wash and put newborn clothes away
~ In the nick of time.
Finish putting away newborn essentials
Walk, walk, walk, walk....
~ All the time. 
Have hospital bag packed
~Success, but just barely. 
Car seat installed
~My husband rocks
Bring this sweet baby home
~ In case you missed the post it is found here.
Read: Really? Not sure that will happen!
* Baby arrives!
This was taken in the waiting room on Caitlin's birthday, our sweet sons birthday twin. The caption:
"I am living a Friends moment"
SO grateful to be so surrounded by love.

*I wrote this about a month ago and hesitate to share it, but in hopes it might encourage another hardworking mom/dad I am sharing it...

From My Heart
Recently I have felt called to exercise discipline in the mundane parts of my life. It started with our ladies Bible Study at church being one of the drier options I have ever tried to tackle before. But for all of the hurdles one thing was said throughout and that was to do something new, to "Step Up". The author's heart is so pure and that hit me at my core. So I set out to not let her study defeat me and every time I encountered an exercise or even a question I didn't feel like doing I wrote in the margins "Step Up" and pushed through. 

In doing so I noticed myself hearing this little phrase echo throughout first my week and now it is daily. Always in the little areas, which makes it more convicting. As it came in waves the other day I began to ponder why it was important. Being so exhausted and not having gotten good sleep in a few nights "Stepping Up" seemed so much less appealing, not to mention lacking in reward. Suddenly I had a vision of myself in the gym 10 years ago, barking at rowers to push through. To build on the foundation of yesterday. To maintain, maintain, maintain. Reminding them that the decision to not push through today would not only prevent building strength, but result in a loss of muscle tone. All of their hard work could be lost in a few weeks of carelessness and there were races coming up. They would row the race regardless of how strong they were, or how disciplined they had been in training.

Clarity came in that moment. That memory reminded me of how important it is to be disciplined and faithful in the training period. In this moment I am choosing discipline in my mundane moments. This means doing the steps of my study that seems fruitless. Working hard to be on time, no excuses needed. To prepare the night before for a play date. Rising earlier in the morning to help our home wake up to happiness and an organized routine. Remembering doctors appointments, grocery lists and coffee dates. 
Just to mention a few areas.

 All of us will have races to row, 
whether we are ready or not... 
and I want to be ready. 
Toned and Disciplined, finishing strong.
Notice the bossy brunette at the front of that winning boat? Yep, that's Abbey!
*Every other (well almost every other) Monday I am going to post a "Musing" in an effort to work and stretch my composition muscles.Feel free to comment, read along, or skip all-together! 

It is Thursday and we are incredibly grateful for the meals we have received since being new parents the second time around. One of the things that made the process so wonderful is a website that our church uses for their meal ministry called

It is brilliant and wonderful in so many ways we can't recommend it enough! If you are going to coordinate meals for someone, we highly recommend using this website. It is easy for both those bringing the meal and the family being blessed to use. We loved that there was a section for food allergies or preferences and a space for everyone's phone number in case they got lost or needed to coordinate a drop off. It links with everyone's email, so if you wanted to switch a day with someone else you can contact them easily without needing to contact the new mommy. It truly made the whole process feel like magic. We could easily see any switches to know what day to expect a meal and poof it happened! We could go on and on about it, but you should pop over and see for yourself. 
We have gotten so many wonderful ideas from the wonderful meals we have received and hope to share some of them with you in the coming weeks. It has been such an incredible blessing to have had so many wonderful meals and we are incredibly grateful. Thank you to everyone who took the time to care for us in this way!

Play along with us! Every Thursday we will post something we are thankful for, and I would love it if you did so as well on your blogs.The Button is on the right hand side of the page, just click, copy and paste. Oh! And let people know where you found it! It is medicine for the soul to give thanks and when done regularly contentment comes into reach. And it can be anything, silly, personal, or blog related. Just take a moment to give thanks!
I was honored to be able to co-host a baby shower for my best friends sister, who I also consider a sister as well. We threw this shower at the beginning April and now that sweet Baxter has arrived I thought it would be fun to share a few details from this wonderful celebration.
The colors in his nursery are Lime Green, Black and White. Going with those we decided to make the baby shower more bridal than baby, an elegant affair if you will. 
I found the invitation kit on clearance in the Bridal Section of Michaels Craft Store.  The information about the shower was on top with instructions to fill out the bottom piece (that was removable from the pocket) with a prayer or hope for sweet Baxter and to please bring it with you to the shower. 
 Then the Sweet Notes were attached to the safety pins we had hanging off ribbons from these long tree like branches. 
We found this awesome bird for a few dollars at Michaels and it was a wonderful addition to our tree of sweet wishes and dreams.
The tree in all it's glory.
Water bottles with specialized labels created by yours truly.
The incredible cake designed by a friend of ours. 
A specialty drink concocted for the occasion, something I am known for, my love of tasty drinks. They make a party, am I right?
The drinks were set up on the left hand side of the cake table, the water on the right side. The umbrellas were handmade as well. (I found a tutorial here, but made many, many changes to the directions.) The tiny details are so much fun!
Marshmellow Pops
My solution to keeping the Pops upright on different parts of the table, stab them into an apple!
Recognize the stand? Yep my trusty cupcake stand became a holder for wontons and peanut sauce. We put them in these wonderful little cupcake cups. Made prepping more for refills a breeze.
Part of the food table. Since it was in the early afternoon we thought we should have a variety of sweet and savory items. We are glad we were prepared because the food was loved by all!
These were little tags that were intended to be used on the invitations but we thought would be nice in decoration. We used strips of black paper and ribbon to tie in the vases with the color theme of the shower.
The diaper "game". We had these diapers and pens out in the middle of the room where the gifts were and encouraged the guests to write funny sayings on the diapers. Then the Mom To Be picked the one she thought was the most humorous as the winner. The fun part was that these diapers went home with her to chuckle at later when changing yet another diaper at 3 am.
Gifts! Notice the lovely puffs? Handmade and super easy, slightly altering the directions found here. I loved making them for the shower and they will most likely make an appearance at my parties this summer.
Party Favors. Sugar Cookies with those sweet labels from above. Easy, inexpensive and with a little practice a sweet homemade addition to any party.
The party planners and best friends.
Megan, the sweet Mommy To Be.
We also requested that the guests dress in the colors of the invitation and gave a prize to the most festive and decked out guest. Having everyone dressed in the same palette made the pictures look so great together!

The trick for a shower like this was to gather all of our found items that were black and white and then accent with green ribbon or in this case were used some great cheap green apples and limes that we found at Costco. Combining this idea with some tricks found online and making most things ourselves really made this shower more personal and less expensive. Win Win! So blessed to be able to do this for my sweet friend and excited that our little boys will get to grow up as buddies.
Declan and Baxter meeting each other for the first time. Buddies for sure!