Do you have a very favorite smell? Like, you go into a bookstore and breathe in a huge, yoga type breath, and you’re transported by the smell of new books and coffee to a happy place? I have a few of those smells in my life. Apple scented candles transport me instantly to back-to-school time; something about apples being ripe and being canned in my mother’s kitchen when I was a child, right around the time I started school every Fall. Bookstores, coffee, libraries, they all evoke strong memories of happy times in my life.
But the best smell of all for me, of all time, is the ocean.
When I was little my family made a pilgrimage, almost annually, across the deserts of Utah, Nevada and California (and a couple times up the coast to Oregon, Washington and Canada) to reach the Pacific Ocean. My mother’s family is all from the San Francisco area, and there’s a love for the ocean in our family DNA that runs long and deep.
The first memory I have of the ocean is from the time my family spent two weeks in Monterey for Christmas vacation when I was 7. I remember … >> find out more...
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I’ve talked a bit about the very difficult year we’ve had at the Czarnecki household, and the profound effect it has had on our family. Our baby girl (she’s nearly 15) has been ill since last winter, and since then we’ve gone through every possible test, procedure, blood work, doctor and hospital available. In fact, recently Sofie and I made promises to each other in light of all we’ve been through together this year.
This sweet (and extra spicy) girl of mine has had to face some serious challenges, and overnight it seems, has grown in the face of darkness and heartbreak.
I wouldn’t wish that kind of education on anyone, anywhere. Ever. But it’s one of the first major life challenge for this girl of mine, who has never failed at anything in her life. Sofie has, quite literally, never failed at anything. Until this year, when she couldn’t make herself better no matter how hard she tried.
We’ve all hit a wall at … >> find out more...
This post is sponsored by Target. More Turtles, More Bold and Daring Fun: Blur the lines of fantasy and reality with your favorite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at Target.
Art is a part of my daily life. It just is. Remember how I told you my son’s life passions all lead back to art? Art, art projects, new ideas, and collections of a random assortment of feathers and rocks and random paraphernalia for new collaborations make their way into my house every single day. So I thought it would be fun to throw an art party for some kids, friends of my son, to celebrate some of his favorite artists. We held our party mid-summer, but this turned out so fun it would also be great for a birthday or end-of-summer bash.
We looked to the four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and the artists they represent, for inspiration for our art party. Also, they lend some serious street cred to the event. Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo, and Raphael, all artists of the Renaissance period in Europe.
I set up four different art stations so the kids could rotate through each one and try different techniques while learning a bit … >> find out more...
You want to make this beach sand souvenir for yourself. I know, because, well, if the amount of sand we shake out of our suitcases, vacuum out of the car and wash out of our hair every summer is any kind of indicator, then we are definitely a family of beachcombers.
And no matter whether we drive to a local lakeside beach or fly to a more far flung oceanside locale, our modus operandi is always the same: build sandcastles that never stay up, hunt for pretty shells/interesting rocks until sunset, and bring a little bit of beach sand home in a bucket.
It’s become a beloved family tradition, especially now that I figured out how to make beach sand keepsakes from our found treasures.
It takes less than 20 minutes to make a display-worthy beach sand souvenir that you’ll enjoy year round, and all you need are measuring cups and a few empty jars with tight-fitting lids. Plus your beach sand and little shells, of course!
Making sure your jar is clean and dry, start by pouring sand that you’ve already sieved (to remove bits of driftwood and seaweed) into the bottom until it’s filled about halfway. Gently shake to make the sand level, then layer … >> find out more...
When did you know your life’s passion? Is there something you loved, adored more than life itself, from the time you were a small child? I think if we all went back to that place of loving something completely, with a passion we forgot we had, and made it our life’s vocation, we’d all be happier people.
TMNT – Leonardo
There’s something beautiful about stepping outside your current world to discover a new one. I don’t think we do it often enough as adults, and we could all learn a little about passion from kids. Everyone comes to this earth being really excellent at one thing, at least one thing, even if it takes some of us longer than others to figure it out.
TMNT – Michelangelo
If you’re a parent, you know what I’m talking about. Kids show up on this earth hardwired to love certain things. Maybe you remember what it felt like the first time you read a novel, or danced on a stage, or took a gorgeous photo, and how it transformed the way you moved about the world.
My oldest child, my daughter, has been obsessed with words from the get-go. She started talking early, … >> find out more...
I’m saying thanks today. Thanks you, and you, and you in the corner. Thanks you, all of you, for everything.
For the last 5 months (it’s hard to write that, actually) we’ve been in absolute crisis mode at my house. In early March, my daughter started throwing up. And throwing up, and throwing up, and throwing up. I figured we were in the middle of a winter stomach flu, like every other kid we knew. From the time school starts in September to the time we finish in May, my kids always get at least one major flu. It’s just part and parcel of being a kid. But after a week of my Sofie throwing up around the clock, we went to see the pediatrician. The doctor ran a few tests and sent us home. It was the flu, we were told, so we went home to ride it out.
Halfway through week two of round-the-clock puking, we went to Instacare. Sofie was throwing up between 10 and 15 times a day. She had lost 10 pounds in 14 days, she was pale and listless, and I was officially worried.
The doctor at Instacare took 8 vials of blood, ran … >> find out more...
Kids can be tricky in the summertime. Believe me, I’m a work-at-home mom, which means summer is a blessing and a curse. I love having my kids home more than life itself, but keeping them intellectually challenged and busy 24/7 is a job in and of itself.
We started out the summer with Some Fun Summer Bags for Kids, and a couple weeks ago spent the weekend doing the Kids Adventure Games at Snowbird. We’ve done an Easy Summer Activity Book DIY, we’ve made an Ice Cream Sandwich Cake, and we’re getting ready to blow up an entire box of fireworks. But still, the children remain at home most of the time, imploring me to entertain them, as if I am their cruise director.
So I’m doing what any mom in her right mind would do, and I’ve signed them up for day camps.
My little guy is going to a school day camp wherein he will learn about oceanography for 2 weeks, and my daughter is about to start an app camp for kids, followed by a design camp, where she’ll learn basic graphic design and Adobe Illustrator. I’m teeming with jealousy. I would’ve … >> find out more...
This Summer activity book DIY might save my sanity for the next 9 weeks. I’m not really kidding. The month of May was so insanely over-scheduled and hectic it seemed the last day of school would never arrive. Then WHAM! The kids are home and it’s head first into swim team and t-ball and worrying about the infamous “Summer Slide”. It’s a thing, the “Summer Slide”, the thing where kids lose some of their academic skills over the summer. Turns out it’s legit–according to my resident expert and professional educator who happens to be my husband. The good news is a little bit of reading and writing over the summer can kick it to the curb.
So, school ended in a flury and frenzy and I realized I needed to come up with a strategy for keeping their brains busy and strong, not to mention keeping their mouths quite and bodies still for a precious few minutes. And I had to do it quick. Really quick. That’s how this no-frills, easy Summer activity book DIY was born. Or, rather, printed off, hole punched, and thrown in a binder. Made almost entirely of stuff I had on hand or could quickly … >> find out more...
4th of July, 4th of July! You know there’s nothing better than a summer holiday, right? For me, it’s the 4th of July. It’s my favorite holiday, hands down. The weather is gorgeous and hot, the pavement is baking, kids sit on the sidewalk eating dripping Popcicles, and fireworks end the day. It’s the most fun of the whole year, and that’s saying something.
I make my famous American flag cake. We sometimes run a 4th of July 5k and watch the early morning hot air balloons. There’s a parade in Provo, and we never miss it. There are afternoon naps, BBQ’s and frosty cold caffeinated beverages abound.
Cousins, adorable cousins come from near and far.
Sometimes there’s a baby or two, on a good year.
There’s grilled corn on the cob, and squirt gun fights and sparklers and a table full of desserts. There just isn’t a better holiday than the 4th of July.
I have a couple of favorite recipes for you, so you can whip up something red, white & blue for your own celebrations.
A yummy 4th of July dessert recipe made with the most American of ingredients: whipped cream + Jell-O. An American Flag … >> find out more...