Thursday, July 25, 2013

Pioneer Day

Here in Utah, we have Pioneer Day and this year, my family and I decided to celebrate. We started our morning with a 5k followed by a huge church breakfast. The best part was that Mitch was able to spend the entire day with us. He's been so busy with school and work and his calling in our church that it was so awesome to just have him to ourselves.

I made a very audible "awww" when I saw the 5k t-shirt in size 3t. Unfortunately, they didn't have any 9-12 month size tees or our whole family would've matched and I might have just died. I dunno, I guess I find something insanely cute about little bitties matching us big adults. Am I the only one?

Monday, July 22, 2013

All-natural bathtub cleaner

Alright, guys. Here it is. I found my new favorite way to clean my bathtub. You're going to read it and think I've lost my mind, but it's seriously awesome. It's so different that, dare I say it, it makes cleaning my tub fun! Well, for me at least. And it doesn't get more kid friendly than this. I would trust my 2 1/2 year old to use this! I found this recipe amidst many other green cleaning recipes here. I'm definitely going to try a few others, but I couldn't wait to share this with you guys. 

Tub Cleaner
1/2 grapefruit
1/4 cup kosher salt

Cover your grapefruit half with some of the salt and scrub your tub. I continually added more salt as I needed more scrubbing power.

My tub was REALLY bad so I had to use the whole grapefruit, but it worked so well and I'm sure on a tub that gets cleaned regularly, half a grapefruit would work just fine. Completely destroyed the water ring and hard water build-up! And does anyone else hate having to rub your hand along the sides of your dirty tub searching for any foreign texture just to make sure you got it all? This may sound gross, but I liked how it kind of tinted the dirty parts so I didn't miss anything and I didn't have to feel for anything grody. I think my favorite part was that it left my whole bathroom smelling so citrusy clean. 

So there you have it! An awesome, all-natural, super kid-friendly, green cleaning recipe for your tub. Try it out and let me know how it works for you. Or better yet, let your kids do it. :0)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Family, Home, and Me with Savannah

Que the cutest little blonde family on the planet! My friend, Savannah, is sharing her tips and tricks for our FHandM series today. Mitch and her husband, Evan, serve together at our church which I am so grateful for because now I know this sweet family. Her blog is all about raising her beautiful little girl and how she has coped with some really rough struggles in life, always holding firm to her faith. She is such an amazing, strong person and I'm so proud to have her as a friend. 

I’m pretty new to this whole parenting thing. For the first 7 months of my daughter's life, I don’t think we even really felt like a family. More like, two zombies and a very demanding roommate who likes to party all night. A demanding roommate whom we love very, very much. Then came sleep training, and like magic, we became a family. She went to bed at 7 p.m., awoke at 7 a.m., and for those 12 glorious hour in-between, I had my husband back, he had his wife back and we finally went to bed at the same time again. Our sweet girl was happier during the day, and so were we after getting a full nights sleep….or watching Arrested Development until 2 a.m. This is when we were finally able to establish some routines and discover and develop our family dynamic. And it is awesome! We are able to do so many amazing things together, and it’s wonderful to watch our baby girl discover new things and abilities.

The best thing we do together though is pray. Every night, as part of the bedtime routine, we pray. It’s a little crazy, and no one has their eyes closed for fear the baby will scratch your face off or shove something non edible in her mouth when no one’s looking, but sometimes it’s the only small moment of peace during our day. And it is splendid. Almost as important as the prayer itself is that we’re teaching our daughter the habit of praying, and what the spirit feels like. At 9 months old, she isn't going to remember any of this, but as we continue throughout her life, knowing how to pray and what the spirit feels like will guide her when we’re no longer able to do so.

You know how when you’re a little girl and you played “house” with all your best friends? You were the mom, and you had a baby, and you dreamed of how that baby would terrorize your house in a matter of seconds, there would piles of smelly poo and spit up laundry that literally towered as high as the bed, and dishes were never, and I mean never, completely done? Oh, you didn't? Yeah… neither. However, that seems to be the version of  “house” I play every day now.

I seriously thought about this category for over a week before I was able to come up with what I wanted to say about our home, and what makes it so enjoyable and helps things run smoother. I have a very active 9-month daughter who is smart, funny, independent, and mini Tasmanian devil.  Her favorite thing is to take whatever she can get her hands on and throw it on the floor. Then she rips it up and eats it. Tie that into the mounds of laundry filled with bibs and blow-out bottoms, never-to-be-found-again puffs hidden through out the house, and all the bottles, baby spoons and sippy cups that fill our sink, and you have our home. And we just have one child! You mothers of 2 or more, I bow to you.

So you can imagine my feeling of inadequacy when trying to think of things that help me keep our house in order, or clean, or smelling good. However, all these things do seem coalesce at times in our home, and this is how we do it.

1.     Fill your home with things you love. If something matters to you, you will keep it nice, I promise. We have pictures on top of our bookshelf that I hate to see surrounded by dust, so you know what? That area gets dusted. Nick-naks from various travels stay tidy and in their place (high up from curious hands) so they stay safe and organized. And although a floor is just a floor (especially when you rent) I keep it vacuumed, because I love my daughter, and if it’s on the floor she’ll eat it, and I want her to live.

2.     If you don’t love it, get rid of it. It is so easy to accumulate junk! And the more space you have, the more junk you collect. There are so many places that are more than willing to take it off your hands, and give it to someone who may really need it. Or, if you like, sell it! Being charitable is awesome, but selling a higher quality or rarely used item is just fine too. There are a few rules to this though.

a.     Don’t give away something that has expired, been outworn, or is falling apart. Seriously, just put it in the trashcan and walk away. Or better yet, find a dumpster, then you won’t be tempted to try and retrieve it later. I’m not the only one who would do that right?
b.     If it is still usable, look into charities that really need these items. For example winter coats, baby clothes, diapers, and formula are really needed by women’s shelters or disaster relief funds.You get rid of junk and you get to feel good about yourself, who doesn't love that!?

Once upon a time I was single, and the only person I worried about was myself. No supper? Cold cereal it is. Want to watch t.v.? Turn on the bachelor! Need groceries? Just hop in the car and go. Okay, so some of those things haven’t changed, but now as a wife, mom, student, dinner preparer (Note: I did not say chef here), etc, things have gotten a lot more complicated. I get so wrapped up in everything else that I frequently forget I was somebody before all of this! It wasn't until I was at an Imagine Dragons concert a couple weeks ago that I realized how wrapped up I had really become. That’s right, like a teenager, I’m about to tell you how a concert changed my life.

There I sat, next to my husband, with our baby at the sitters, surrounded by screaming teenagers, and I thought, “These kids are annoying. I must be getting too old for this.”

It wasn't even the Imagine Dragons. A lead singer of one of the opening bands said something to the effect of, “Always follow your dreams.” Cheesy, I know, but for some reason it actually got me thinking; Have I followed my dreams?  Did I even have dreams? Who am I, where did I come from, and where am I going?  -Just kidding, not that last one. I felt like I was just a mom, and not in a good way, like, that’s all that I was. A human making, milk producing machine.

So now, I do something I love Something that is purely for me. Sometimes it’s small, and I jam out to whatever music I want to in the car, sometimes I avoid the dishes and laundry all day and play with my baby, then take a nap, and sometimes what I want, is just to pee alone, so I do.

Here’s the kicker though, you have to do it guilt free. Don’t make yourself feel guilty about taking a time out for yourself. So you didn't get the dishes done. Guess what? They’re not going anywhere.

When I am happy and feel like an individual, our family is happy and more united. I am not just a mom to somebody; I am somebody that is a mom. And you know what? When I started thinking about what it was I dreamed about when I was younger and single and free, I realized I dreamed about being a wife a mom. So yes, lead singer of the opening band, I believe I am following my dreams, thank you.

photos courtesy of Camera Shy

As a fun side note, my husband and I went on our first date almost 5 years ago to a local pool hall and heard the Imagine Dragons play with like 10 other people.  We love them.
Thank you so much, Savannah! Isn't that the cutest little face you've ever seen? Check out Savannah's blog for more on her sweet family. 

If you are interested in contributing to the FHandM series, email me at
gracefullykensie [at] gmail [dot] com.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Family, Home, and Me with Chrissy

Chrissy of We're "Gavin'" Fun is up next for our FHandM series. I miss this girl SO much! She moved away a long time ago and I am the epitome of the phrase "out of sight, out of mind." I definitely haven't kept in touch like I should, but she is the sweetest person. One of those drop-anything-at-a-moments-notice-to-help-you-out kind of girls. And she's got 2 children 10 months apart. That's one busy mama! Take it away, Chrissy! 

I met Kensie in Provo, Utah. We were neighbors and part of the same church congregation. My family and I have since moved to Las Vegas, NV. I love crafty stuff, being social, reading books, sewing, singing, and really I just like doing a lot of different things! Kensie asked me to share a few things that help me in my life with my home, my family, and myself! Here goes…

I love to do craft projects with my kids. This was the most recent one I did with my cute little daughter, Savvy. We love how they turned out!

I got both shirts at Walmart (believe it or not : ) ) and bought fabric paint. Make sure you buy the regular fabric paint and not the puffy kind. I made stencils of the images we wanted to use and just mixed a black paint with a white paint. The picture makes them look really black but they are actually a dark grey. We sponge painted over the stencils and let it dry for a few hours and they were ready to wear!

Judah was down for his mid-morning nap and Savvy was out in the living room with Glenn. I went in the bedroom to do some cleaning and just jumped into bed for a minute, not to sleep, but to just lay there. (that is what happens when your kids wake up at around 6 every morning and you go to bed at 12 every night) I was thinking about how I needed to get some cleaning done today and I thought about what to tackle first...I thought back about other ways I have organized my cleaning when a big job is to be done.

There are two things that you can do first to help you get motivated to clean:

The first is to make your bed. If you walk into your room and there is laundry to fold, and toys in your room, make your bed and it seems like half of the work is done and creates a huge difference immediately. 

The second, although not as fast to do, is the dishes! If you have a clean sink and no dishes on the counter all of the sudden you have more motivation to clean the rest. Sometimes cleaning is mental!! The rest of the cleaning will not be so bad because it will appear so much cleaner already.

Those are my thoughts on the
psychology of cleaning.
It might be different for you, but it works for me. I think I will go make my bed now! : )

I decided for the section about me that I would share my current workout playlist. I started going jogging every morning at 5:30 AM so I can get a good start before my kids wake up. My workout music changes periodically when I get sick of a song or when I find a new really good one : ) but this is the one I rock out to for right now.



Stephanie Smith

Imagine Dragons

It’s Time
Imagine Dragons

Ellie Goulding

It isn’t a very long playlist right now, but that is because I replay Bleeding Out at least 3 times :)

Thanks so much, Chrissy, for sharing with us. You can see more of Chrissy and her beautiful family on her blog, We're "Gavin'" Fun!

If you are interested in contributing to our Family, Home, and Me series, please email me at gracefullykensie [at] gmail [dot] com.