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Chores are a necessity in our family. If the kids didn’t help out, I literally would never get to play with them.

Therefore, I love chores.

AND…I love what it’s doing for our kids.

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They’re learning responsibility and tasks they’ll need to know for the rest of their lives.

And we’re all about preparing our children for the world…not the world for our children. Pause there for a minute and let that saying sink in.

We need to prepare our children for the world…not the world for our children.

When Ben and I heard it a few years ago, it really impacted the way we parented.

chore board

Because I love a good diy, and because I’m not willing to spend much, making a chore board ourselves seemed like a great idea.

We found this tin shelving at Ikea awhile back {sadly I can’t find it online}, in their clearance area. I think we maybe paid $7 for the entire thing.

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Rather than building it so the shelves extend like they’re supposed to, Ben screwed them vertically and used the rails as a frame.

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I don’t love my handwriting all that much, so I found this rub on transfer for the top. I like that it says “To Do” rather than “Chores” because well…because I couldn’t find one that said Chores…but also because it reminds them this is their contribution to the family.

It shouldn’t be looked at as a chore. We want them to do it with a happy heart.

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Using washi tape, I created sides for each child.

I cut the washi tape {the same ones I used for my business cards} in half to signify the separation between the “to do” and “done” areas…and kept the full thickness of the tape to divide between the children.

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Finding tags in the dollar area at Target, I glued the silver cardboard letters {also from Target’s dollar section} to the tag and used another fun washi tape to adhere it to the tin shelf.

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 For now, they’re loving it. They bound down the stairs in the morning to find what tasks we’re asking them to do for the day.

Some are everyday {making their beds, brushing their teeth, putting away their clothes}, and some change. Sometimes Abreham unloads the dishwasher, sometimes it’s Ezekiel.

At times we ask Anton to feed our dog Thatcher, sometimes it’s Laith, and instead Anton needs to gather all the trash from the bedrooms and take it outside to the big garbage can.

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They genuinely love the responsibility. They love that we entrust them with jobs, they say they feel like big-kids and the older boys tell me they’re excited to be good husbands someday {yes, they’ve actually said that}.

Don’t be afraid to give them tasks…and remember, the more they help out around the house…the more time you have time to PLAY with them {what a concept}!!!

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Don’t you get excited when Target launches a new line?

Well, the beloved blog Poppytalk is next to launch their own shop…due to come out this Sunday, June 22nd and I promise you’ll want to rush over and fill your cart with some of it’s whimsy.

Want some sneak peeks?? Thought so.

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Florals mixed with the lure of the great outdoors was the inspiration behind this collection.

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“We wanted something that could adapt to entertain a glamorous party in the backyard, to a casual picnic at the beach,” according to the bloggers and designers behind Poppytalk {husband and wife team Jan and Earl}.

Poppytalk

Talk about glamping and fun picnics! I’m sure excited…are you??

/// A few more peeks here, here and here! ///

{what a perfect way to help in celebrating the little things like we talked about last week!}

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Ben

{written a few weeks ago after hearing a guy from his Goruck community tragically passed away}

This morning I took off around 6am for an early run. As I ran along the trails I could see the beautiful Colorado Mountains on my left and the sunrise on my right.

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It was just beautiful but the tears on my face and pain in my heart were much more powerful.

Beauty and pain at the same time.

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Early Saturday morning I heard the news that a friend had been hit by a car and did not make it. For the rest of the weekend this didn’t leave my thoughts but being so busy with the kids, it didn’t fully hit home until this morning.

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Running along, I continued thinking about what a great weekend it was for the family. We were busy as can be, which is normal with six kids who are all active.

Things are good, I smiled and then wham it hit me.

Back near Syracuse there is a woman who is waking up knowing that she will never see her husband again. The three children, one of which is a newborn, will not see their dad again. The tears started as I ran on.

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The magnitude of it hit me like a wall.

A man with a passion for life and being active, left Friday night to do an endurance event with friends. I am sure there was excitement for the challenge that laid ahead that night for him, pride and happiness from his wife seeing him do the things he loved. A kiss goodbye and we will see you in the morning.

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How often I have done this with Teresa and the kids. Giving them each a hug and kiss excited for the night and being back with them in the morning sometime.

This time he didn’t come home.

A driver fell asleep and hit Jeff who, even with an EMT amongst the group, died that morning. Such finality to this!

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The painful thought for me was thinking what would be going through my mind in a situation like this. As the world disappears not being able to see Teresa’s face or the kids brings such a raw pain.

I think culturally in America we tend to avoid pain whenever possible but this is a time to just be in it and feel for this family.

I am a man of Faith. The normal stupid lines people say like “he’s in a better place” and others come to mind but I call BS on that.

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I have my faith…I love Jesus but am also not ashamed to admit I question this.

I feel absolutely certain that God created Teresa to be my wife. No doubts or hesitations on that…same with my children. I was made to be their dad. How could I ever think that I would be in a “better place” looking down from Heaven watching her struggle with six kids alone?

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I know the verses and trust that when the time comes I may be able to understand Gods plan, but right now I just think of how much it would hurt me to see them living without me there.

The pain of knowing Teresa has to do it all by herself.

A few years ago, I was talking to one of the Executives while on a business trip – sharing how I wanted to get home to see the family. The meetings were long and work took a lot of time.

I remember so clearly when he looked at me and responded, “there are weekends, summers and times of the year when it’s not busy.”

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In my head I wanted to punch him in the face for being so stupid but all I said was “how do you know?”

That’s my thought. How do you now how many tomorrows there will be?

We have heard it a million times that you need to make sure your loved ones know you love them but do you really believe that to your core?

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Maybe this hits so much harder because we have four adopted children that have lost parents.

The older ones can tell us about their fathers dying and what it was like. The loss of a parent for a child is a real thing in our home and while I never want to live in fear, it does scare me to think about the pain it would cause them to lose another parent.

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I call my little 3 year old, “baby” and she often says to me, “daddy I am not a baby. I am a big girl.” And each time I respond, “you are a big girl sweet Imani but to me you will always be my baby.”

This man was someone’s baby and he left behind a wife and three of his own.

So seriously…do you know without a doubt that your loved ones know you love them?

Really love them in a sacrificial manner?

Look at them and think about what life would be like if you didn’t come back next time you walked out the door. This wasn’t a dangerous activity but a driver fell asleep. It happens and it will happen.

Ben

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Ben

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book page light

Have you ever bought something for your home, thinking it was amazing but as soon as you saw it in your space…you realized it just wasn’t right?

But you hold on to it {or in my case, keep it hung up} thinking perhaps you just have to get used to it and it’s a change or you’re being adventurous getting something you wouldn’t ordinarily choose.

And then it’s too late to return it…?

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So is the story of our chandelier. If you can even call it that. It’s cool, it’s industrial, I got it on a rockin’ sale.

But I hate it.

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Last summer I snuck into one of my favorite {yet pricy} home boutiques here in Denver. It’s the kind of place where you just look…or maybe buy some cute paper napkins.

But I fell in love with this book page chandelier. It’s amazing, is it not?!

It was about $700 {{over}} my budget so I went online to look around and see if I could find something similar anywhere else.

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Pottery Barn sold one…but sadly I was a few years too late, it had been discontinued.

I even found someone’s blog who was talking about hers and how she wasn’t sure if she liked it {are you KIDDING me? it’s amazing!} and like a stalker, I emailed her asking if I could buy it from her. Ummm…I never heard back.

So I held on to my industrial {and too small for the space} chandelier over our dining room table.

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I didn’t love the room in general, so who cared if one of the bulbs was burnt out and that it looked awkward in the space {well, I cared…but I was trying to convince myself to move on}.

the nesting place

And then while reading The Nesting Place the other day {which you NEED by the way}, I happened on to the above photo.

GASP! A book page chandelier. And the light went on. {pun totally intended}

I could do that!! I could make that!

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So I grabbed some of the vintage books I’ve found at Goodwill and leafed through them for interesting pages.

I’m not gonna lie, it kind of hurt ripping them out. But it’s all in the name of beauty and design, right?!

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Using some gold binder clips and paper clips, I hung up each page.

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And I love the way it looks!!!

Ben thought the room was a little dark, so I simply took out the vintage filament bulbs and screwed in regular higher wattage bulbs since they no longer showed.

book page chandelier

A fun,  free update that took about 10 minutes!

book page light

What do you think?

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celebrating 2

/// Though it may seem like it in this post, we don’t generally celebrate our kids with sugary treats. BUT…here are some of our favorites, that are on the sweeter side {some are healthier than others}. ////

breakfast

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{apple cinnamon oatmeal muffins}

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{easy pumpkin muffins…sometimes I sub sweet potato + apple sauce for the pumpkin}

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{dutch baby}

I haven’t actually ever done a post on this favorite breakfast, so this is linking over to The Feast Within‘s recipe. I grew up munching on the amazing Dutch Baby and now my family loves it just as much as I did! The kids stand with the oven light on, watching it grow and the sides rising up like crazy. Their favorite way to eat it is with a touch of syrup or agave.

bacon egg & cheese wreath

{bacon egg and cheese wreath}

I probably make this for breakfast once a week or so. And usually without bacon. Just the egg, cheese, and a few shakes of salt and pepper. The kids l.o.v.e. it!!

yogurt parfait

I made these yogurt parfaits for breakfast a few days ago. The gorgeous cups are hand-me-downs from my sweet momma, but you could find similar at places like HomeGoods or keep your eyes open at garage sales.

Just by layering the yogurt, berries, and granola, it suddenly becomes pretty and a bit fancy. We don’t have a garden {sigh. black thumb.} BUT I do have a few potted pants by our front door! So I snipped off a few blossoms and put those on {I happen to know these are edible, but make sure you don’t add a bloom that is poisonous!}.

Honestly, it took me all of 5 minutes to make these. You can make anything pretty. Even something as simple as yogurt.

impromptu

The Impromptu and Anytime Parties really don’t call for anything spectacular since umm…it’s Impromptu!

Make smoothies, pour milk into a pretty class. Serve fruit or veggies in an unusual way. Or even simply a huge slice of chilled watermelon.

I mean, what’s better than chilled watermelon anyway?!

snacks

It’s often something as simple as sliced fruit or veggies in a little cup of hummus or ranch, like we did for the Mountain Inspired Baby Shower recently.

 I found plastic shot glasses at our local party store and loaded them full of yumminess. Individual. Easy. No mess. And super fun!

avocado party

{chocolate avocado pudding}

Don’t be scared of this one…it’s actually a.m.a.z.i.n.g!!

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{my mom’s danish puff}

Do you have recipes your mom made growing up that make you smile when thinking about them? That’s this one for me.

chocolate cake

{health{ier} chocolate cake}

Made with greek yogurt, this is a light and really tasty cake.

ice cream cones

What about simply printing out these amazing cone wrappers? You could fill them with ice cream, yogurt, or even fruit! {I linked to them here}

birthday

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{deliciously simple apple pie}

During the fall, I’m completely obsessed with this pie. And I’ve gotten Abreham on the bandwagon too…the above photo was his dessert request on his birthday this past December. He loved that I cut a “14″ into it. First Birthday in America!

camo cake

{camouflage cake…way easier than you’d think!}

Yes, you can totally do this one. I promise it’s not difficult, though it may look like it. We had SO much fun last year for Anton’s Bootcamp Birthday Party!

stacked cake

{stacked birthday cake}

 I, my friend, am not above boxed cakes. Truth be known, I actually prefer them. By adding a little color to the mix and doing two cakes {4 layers}, you suddenly have a tall cake that’s like a party when cutting into it!

Make a bunting topper and you’re all set {how-to here}!

remember

Just use whatever you have on hand. Truly. Remember…this is supposed to be easy and fun!

Your family will remember the experience WAY before the actual food you served!

 

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