Mid-Year (Ish) Survey + Giveaway!

#momstyleremix - colored pants and skirts

Whether you’ve been around here a couple times or many – thank you for visiting. I am so grateful for this blog, the opportunities it has given, and the connections made through it. It’s just fun. There has also been amazing feedback to posts, especially ones that I never expected a response to.

It always makes me smile to hear from the people who know me in real life who take the time to check out this blog and say hi. It’s equally encouraging, too, that people I don’t even know take the time to read, follow, and respond.

Today I’m asking for your help. I’m thinking about the direction of this blog – how it’s going so far, and where to take it next. I would love, love your feedback on this. It’s a short survey – 10 questions, and you don’t have to leave this page! You don’t need to give your email or identify yourself in any way (except…I’ll let you know in a minute). You don’t even need to answer it all. It’s simple questions about you, what you like to read or don’t, things you’d like to see, etc.

For taking the time to do this survey, one of you will win a $15 Starbucks gift card! Go get your next caffeine fix on me. Or cake pop fix. Or whatever fix you need. To enter, leave your email at the end of the survey. If not, just skip the question.

That’s it! My hope for this blog is that it’s connecting to the hearts of people who need to hear these words, because sometimes it just helps to know someone else understands. I pray that God is speaking through it, to get to just the right person, right when they need to hear it. Whether or not you do the survey, thank you for coming. It means the world.

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10 ideas for messy summer fun with your toddler

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #FreeToBe #CollectiveBias

10 Ideas for Messy Summer Fun with Your Toddler #FreetoBe #ad

If I was more particular about being tidy (surprise! I’m not), I would probably have trouble being a mom. My days are messy, people. If I’m not cleaning him up, I’m cleaning the floor, the dishes, the tub. I go through countless wipes, paper towels, and clean dishrags in a day while trying to keep up.

But messes I can clean up eventually. On the other hand, my little boy won’t be a little boy forever. And when he grows up, I’d rather him remember having fun, laughing, being silly, and enjoying life, than being clean and tidy. So if he makes a mess along the way, I’ll take it.

There are lots of ways to have fun over this season, but the ones where you get a little grimy and grubby just seem to be most fun. Because it’s more fun to be sloppy, are 10 ideas for messy summer fun with your toddler:

10 Ideas for Messy Summer Fun with Your Toddler #FreetoBe #ad

1. Finger paint. This is great for staying cool inside! Place some newspaper on the floor, put down some paper, and let your little one go to town. Or get creative and try to make something specific with their hand or footprint. There are tons of ideas under “toddler crafts” on Pinterest.

2. Play in a sand box. Oh, sand. It gets everywhere. But when we go to our local playground that has a sand box, that’s the first thing Theo makes a beeline for. There’s just something about digging into it, driving trucks through it, and building something with it that is just a hit with a toddler.

3. Wade in a creek. We have a couple nearby spots to dip our toes in the water. They usually come out muddy and icky, but that’s part of the fun!

4. Blow bubbles. Have your child try to catch or pop them. Or rather, if you’re my kid, wave the wand around and fling the soapy solution everywhere. Either way, it’s good old-fashioned sticky fun!

5. Stomp in puddles. Isn’t it one of the joys of childhood to get outside and play in the rain? And who of either an adult or child can resist a huge puddle?

10 Ideas for Messy Summer Fun with Your Toddler #FreetoBe #ad

6. Have a sweet summer treat. Popsicles and ice cream come to mind. And then there are sweet berries and watermelon! They are yummy – and, of course, nice and juicy for maximum messy faces and shirts.

7. Clean the house. It probably sounds silly, and counterproductive to our whole goal of messy. But trust me. My little guy loves grabbing a broom and “helping”. And yet somehow he seems to collect more dust and dirt on himself than anywhere else.

8. Make safe play dough. There are lots of recipes out there to make safe, edible play dough that your little one can mash and squeeze. Another bonus is that it makes for a great introduction to a new texture.

9. Draw with sidewalk chalk. Because there’s a little Picasso in all of us. Make sure it’s non-toxic! Side note: those colors get everywhere, but they also wash clean!

10 Ideas for Messy Summer Fun with Your Toddler #FreetoBe #ad

10. Play on the playground, or in the backyard. It’s dirty, and sometimes mulchy or mucky, but we always have a good time right in our backyard, or at one of the many local parks. He usually ends up with a dirt stain here and a grass stain there, but the joy he has when he runs around or goes down the slide is priceless.

Really, at the end of the day, you have nothing to fear from a big mess, mama. Even the biggest splatters you can wipe clear, and the stained shirts you can wash.

10 Ideas for Messy Summer Fun with Your Toddler #FreetoBe #ad

In our house, we do have to be a little picky about laundry detergent, though. My husband has lots of allergies. Also, even though Theo is older, I still worry about using detergents with dyes and scents. Furthermore, with a little one on the way, I’m trying to be careful about what I use as well.

10 Ideas for Messy Summer Fun with Your Toddler #FreetoBe #ad

A great choice for all of us is all® free clear. It’s the #1 detergent recommended by Dermatologists, Allergists, and Pediatricians for Sensitive Skin. (Which, therefore, covers all of us.) Another cool perk to this detergent is that it actually removes 99% of everyday and seasonal allergies (including cat and dog dander, dust mite matter, ragweed, grass, and tree pollen) – so it’s such a bonus for my husband’s allergies. (Although all® free clear products are not intended to treat or prevent allergies.)

10 Ideas for Messy Summer Fun with Your Toddler #FreetoBe #ad

The all® free clear products, including the free clear dryer sheets, which reduce static for more comfortable clothes, can be found at Walmart in the laundry aisle. You’ll want to make sure you follow the directions exactly, but it’s no less effective for being safe for sensitive skin and allergies.

In conclusion, if you’re looking for a great solution for your sensitive skin laundry needs, try all® free clear! And continue the conversation by joining the all® free clear community and connecting with parents just like you.

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the most life-changing habit to instill in your kids

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ShareYourMiracles #CollectiveBias

 The Most Life-Changing Habit to Instill in Your Kids #ShareYourMiracles #MiraclesfromHeaven [ad]

It’s been nearly two years since I became a mom. Let’s just say there is a huge learning curve between pregnancy and toddlerhood. I’ve learned how to react quickly to avoid catastrophe, pack a diaper bag to face any circumstance, eat and get ready faster, see danger signs before my son zeroes in on them. It’s been a lot. And it’s only the beginning.

But one of the biggest things I’ve learned is a combination of my own life experience, the world around me, and through the eyes of my son. In fact, although I’m still pretty new to motherhood, I consider it the most life-changing habit to instill in your kids.

The practice I want my sons (both of them! Did you catch the news on Instagram?) to grow up with is this: To be thankful for everything, especially the little things.

The Most Life-Changing Habit to Instill in Your Kids

It seems like such a simple thing, something you shouldn’t even need to think about. It doesn’t seem like it’s all that important. Why work hardest to instill gratitude? Shouldn’t we work harder on respect, kindness, intelligence, humility? But to me, gratitude is arguably the deepest root, the motivator to all of these things.

The truth is we live in a scary world. You can be respectful, kind, intelligent, and humble, and still go through inexplicable pain and tragedy. Injustice and hate happen every day, and there’s very little you can do about it.

But having a grateful perspective affects everything else. It keeps us from entitlement, or thinking the world is all about us. It helps us to empathize with others and appreciate life. It motivates us when all else fails.

Miracles from Heaven, new on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital, makes this concept visual. It’s a movie about love, faith and spirit. It’s based on the true story about the Beam family, and how they are completely rocked when the middle daughter, Annabel, becomes ill with chronic digestive issues. A freak accident seems to make the situation worse – but it actually results in a miracle no one saw coming.

The Most Life-Changing Habit to Instill in Your Kids #ShareYourMiracles #MiraclesfromHeaven [ad]

I grabbed this movie at Walmart when I saw it at the entrance last week. ($1 from each movie purchase goes to Children’s Miracle Network, which is such another great reason to get it!) I was able to review the book a few months ago, but never saw it in theaters. It is such a powerful story involving all the things that make pregnant women cry: a child in impossible circumstances, her mom willing to do anything for her, faith and a bigger picture. You are there to witness every bit of the story.

What I love is every little joy they manage to find while going through every trial. They explore the city of Boston, the girls play together, the doctor acts like a goofball with his patients, a puppy brightens Annabel’s day. Even in the midst of hardship, the Beam family still finds small things to be grateful for.

Life has its ups and downs. Currently, we are going through an amazing transition – a new baby boy on the way. But with big changes, I can get caught up in everything that needs to be done, and everything ahead. I can even get frustrated and discouraged at all the changes of being pregnant. I have to force myself to slow down, and to enjoy and be thankful for the little moments.

The Most Life-Changing Habit to Instill in Your Kids #ShareYourMiracles #MiraclesfromHeaven [ad]

Some of the little things I’m thankful for:

  • My son’s smile when I come in the room to say good morning to him
  • Kicks from my littlest son
  • A current favorite song playing on the radio
  • Cookies for dessert
  • A blast of air conditioning after being in the heat
  • A hug from my husband when he comes home from work
  • The prettiest flowers at the store or in the yard

What little things are you thankful for? Have you seen the movie Miracles from Heaven? How do you think gratitude can impact a challenging, or even positive situation?

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It’s Friday. Can I get an amen? Does anyone else here need this weekend? Just me? Okay 😉

Today’s post isn’t fancy. I’m sharing what’s going on currently, because, like I said, Friday.

Enjoying:  The news about baby number two’s gender! To be announced on my Instagram today. I’d hate for you to miss out, so better get over there to get the full scoop!

Celebrating: Our 6th(!) anniversary, coming up on Sunday. It’ll be low-key this year, since we have a toddler and one on the way, but it’ll be nice to get some time with my hubby this weekend.

Shopping: Speaking of anniversaries… Just a little sale I like to call the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale – you haven’t heard anything about that yet, right? Today, it’s open to the public, which includes me and my anti-credit card family. Here are some things I’m hoping to add to my cart:

Eating: Mashed potatoes, red meat, thin mint Oreos on repeat. But not all together. Repeat: I am pregnant.

Drinking: Lots of water! It’s hot, and I’ve gotten really dehydrated a couple times already this pregnancy.

Wearing: My Nike shorts and non-maternity tees. The one above is from Doc Shorty (love that they donate 10% to multiple sclerosis research!), and I just can’t help but love a good motivating and encouraging tee. This one reminds me of my blogging journey. There have been many opportunities to quit, but in the long run, it has become what I “daydreamed” it would.

Listening to: Lots of Matthew West. I used to not be into contemporary Christian music, but the words are positive and encouraging, and so much more preferable to me than most of the pop music out now. I’m really connecting with Matthew West’s words more so at the moment – songs like “Do Something,” “Grace Wins” and “Strong Enough”.

Feeling: baby kicks! This one is so active.

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Thank you to Doc Shorty for sending me a t-shirt to review. All opinions are my own.

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