Thursday, July 31, 2014

Craft Storage From the Dollar Store!

My youngest child is a budding artist.  I love that, but it means that he has a lot of supplies that were all over the place.  I tried a couple of different container systems, but they were hard for him to access and he couldn't find what he wanted.  I had Container Store ideas but a Dollar Store budget!


Probably against logic, I went and bought a bunch of these containers without being certain of how many I would need and the purpose each one would serve.  I was determined to MAKE it work!

I loved the bright colors and the open containers.  My Little Man could spot and access things in a second.



The round, rectangle and square containers are metal, so they are sturdy.


Colored pencils, pens, Sharpies, dry erase, pencils... everything a little artist needs!


Lots of different pattern-cutting scissors leftover from my attempt at scrapping and card making.  That didn't last, but glad I kept the supplies!


These little containers are plastic and help contain the small things while still allowing to see what you need at a glance.

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Okay - so this was not from the Dollar Store.  This was a picnic caddy that I got from Target's after- summer clearance for $6.00.  Perfect for some travelling creativity!  The untensil holders are perfect for pencils and markers while the two outside containers hold different sizes of paper.  I love that it's got a handle so my boy can pick it up and take it from room to room with him!


Creating is messy.  So is our dog and kitten who are skilled at getting into trashcans and spreading stuff all over.  A small, tabletop trash can is perfect for small paper scraps and pencil shavings!


The final result?  A table with all his supplies right there, and still enough room to create whatever he can conceive.

The containers are planned to be permanent.  The space, however, will not be!  I have been scoping thrift stores to help implement my next project - a full on art studio for my guy out on our screened porch!

Stay tuned, friends!  I spent $21 at Goodwill on this pair of finds!  Refurb and art studio update on the way!


Monday, July 28, 2014

Run Blog Tour! The Blogging Process

Hello, Monday!

Last week, I was nominated by the lovely blogging sisters at Fairytales and Fitness to join in a blogging "tour"!  It's kind of peek into what's going on behind the scenes with some of our blogs.  I was very pleased to be nominated and glad to play along!



1)  What am I working on?

Boy, howdy, what do I feel like I am NOT working on?  With three kids going back to school, it's a crazy time of year.  I'm working on getting them ready.  I'm working on milking as much as I can of what's left of "summer".  I'm looking forward to getting the house back under control - I totally let the wheels fall off once the kids got out of school.  I don't feel bad about that, especially, but I do look forward to routine coming back.  I'm working on picking up my preschool teacher hat again this fall with my 2 year old friends after a two year break.

Blog wise, I'm working on helping this space grow up a little.  You might see some changes in the way the blog appears as I'm playing around to see what I think fits.  Stick with me!

2) How does my work differ from others of its type / genre?

I don't know that I really have a firm "type".  I'm not strictly a running blogger and I'm not strictly a mommy blogger.  I don't like to put myself too deeply into one niche or another.  I feel like my blog has a focus without having too many limitations.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I like to tell stories.  I like to share stuff with people like me and get reactions.  I know there are a lot of other people in my boat - mother runners who are trying to juggle motherhood with maintaining their self-hood.



I know what running has done for me and the amazing people it has brought into my life, so I want to encourage others to take it up, keep at it and keep going!

Finally, I love to take my boys to fun places and expose them to as many cool things as possible.  When I find somewhere great, I really like to share it with others so that they can make fun memories with their own families!

4)  How does your writing process work?

I wish I had a straight answer for this one.  I usually start with pictures.  I'm a visual person, and getting my pictures in order helps me remember and flesh out what I want to say.  After I get all the pics tweaked, I kind of unleash the stream-of-consciousness writing on the computer.  After I throw it all out, I read and make adjustments.  Then I re-read.  Then I let it sit for a while, go do something else, and read it again later just to make sure.

Sometimes, when I am just too distracted by the temptation of Facebook, Twitter, email and everything else on my computer, I go old school.  I hit the kitchen table with notebook paper and a pen and write my hand off.  I get more posts written when I work the welcome desk at my kids' school in the afternoon than I ever do at home.  Two hours stuck at a desk with no wi-fi - the perfect opportunity to get back to basics!



Now that I've revealed a little bit about me and my blog process, I want to share three great bloggers with you!

If you've read any of my runDisney recaps, you will know one of my BRF's, Julie at Run Walk Fastpass Repeat!  We earned our tiaras together at my first half marathon.

My partner in crime during the infamous Peachtree Road Race 2014 was Smitha, of The Faux Runner.  Let me tell you, there is nothing fake about this girl's commitment to fitness!

Finally, a new acquaintance but I'll bet you are familiar with her blog.  Or her face.  Lindsey has been on local Atlanta morning shows in addition to working on her fabulous blog Red Head Baby Mama!

Check out my three nominees and spread the love!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Mom Essentials: Beacon Hill Press Book Review


I'm excited to host blogger and author Kasey Johnson on the blog today!  A bit about Kasey:  
 Kasey Johnson is learning daily how to ignore the extras in life and focus on the essentials. As an educator, author, speaker, blogger, wife and mother, Kasey understands the balancing act we sustain as mothers. Visit her blog, www.smarter-moms.com, to learn more about her ministry.
I received a complimentary copy of Kasey's book, Mom Essentials, as a Beacon Hill blogger.  I was eager to dive into this Christian study since I felt sorely in need of some time examining my relationship with God and how to live that out in my role as a mom.  That need became crystal clear when, upon seeing my book and my Bible on the kitchen table, my youngest proclaimed, "I didn't know you had a Bible!"  OUCH.  

Kasey focuses on ten essentials in our life as moms:  Balance   Strength   Honesty   Identity   Growth   Perspective   Discipline   Preparation   Network   Surrender

Do any of these words strike a chord as something with which you struggle as a mom?  "Discipline" immediately jumps out at me, especially Kasey's example of being disciplined in regards to use of technology.  I'm 100% guilty of having my face in my phone while my family is all around me.  

I've thoroughly enjoyed my time with God and with Kasey.  I highly recommend this book to any mom in need of some direction of how to balance out the "essentials" and the "extras"!  It really reminded me that if I just take a little time daily with God to focus on me - my strengths and my "limitations" - then my family will be all the better for it.  

And now, enjoy some of Kasey's wisdom!



Parenting is messy. As much as we’d like to believe there are clear lines and detailed steps for how to raise our children, the truth is that each day brings the unknown and the messy reality that comes with raising kids. Early in my career as an educator, I had to accept a very important reality: I cannot make anyone do anything.

I can’t make my students want to learn, care about their homework or think I am a great teacher – I can only provide them with opportunities, motivate them to see why those things matter and in the end hope they find an internal drive and commitment toward their learning that comes from within themselves.

Parallel this scenario with a mother trying to get her children to clean their rooms, stay in the cart at the store or any other daily activity that can test our patience, creativity and endurance more than anything else.

So if I can’t MAKE someone do something, am I handicapped or powerless? NO!

But I am in control of myself. I can decide if I’m going to have a plan before those situations occur. I get to decide how I respond to my child when they are determined to prove that I can’t make them comply. I have to decide which battles I’m willing to fight to the end and which ones I’ll save for another day.

As a mom we clean up physical messes all the time. But when things get messy in our emotional, spiritual, financial, even romantic world…how do we respond?

Do we try to control the people around us or do we take inventory of ourselves?

Here are the questions I ask myself before trying to clean up the messes life throws my way:

  1.    Am I tired?
  2.   Am I hungry?
  3.  Did something at work or with friends happen that is influencing my response?
  4.   Am I allowing the stress from another situation to make this mess seem bigger than it really is?
  5. How can I clean up this mess without drama, excessive emotion or unnecessary guilt/shaming of others? (side note: sometimes a whisper can accomplish more than a shout and sometimes we have to raise our voice in order to keep people safe and get their attention)

None of these questions or areas are cut and dry. Remember – we’re dealing with some MESSY people and situations and we have to trust ourselves and how we respond. 

If these questions make sense to you or could help you deal with the messes you encounter, you can use your hand to help you remember these 5 areas.

Thumb = sleep (babies usually suck their thumbs when they are tired)

Pointer Finger = hunger (we point to food at a restaurant or buffet when helping our kids fix their plates)

Middle Finger = hurt from outside sources (self-explanatory I do believe)

Ring Finger = perspective (We can look at a person’s ring finger and know if they are married or not – usually – so this finger reminds us to look at the mess in front of us and simply accept it for what it is without bringing emotional baggage from other messes to sneak in)

Pinky Finger =  staying calm (It’s the smallest finger – we need to keep the drama, guilt and emotion down to their smallest amount while still taking care of things)

Our hands are powerful tools that can be used to not only clean-up the messes our children make; they can also be used to model for our children HOW to handle messes when they come.


We are going to make mistakes but our mistakes can become BEAUTIFUL messes when we step back and use the situation to practice self-control and patience with ourselves and our family.


Follow the Mom Essentials Blog Tour by following the hashtag #MomEssentials on Twitter and by following @SmartMommas to find other stops along the tour!  See what other bloggers have gotten out of this wonderful book.  

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Great Rates for runDisney Weekends with Destinations In Florida!

Y'all, this pretty much says it all for me and mine:


Click on this picture to request a quote!  

YES.  

If you haven't finished your travel plans for the upcoming Tower of Terror or Wine & Dine weekends, Jenn Greene at Destinations in Florida can help you out.  Marathon weekend and Star Wars weekend?  Jenn's got discount rates for those, too, with discount tickets.

Disney just released some new fall discount rates, but reports are that October is getting booked up FAST. Contact Jenn to help you navigate what the best deals are.  You don't have to be running one of those races in order to get in on her awesome discounts (but it helps if you plan to eat your way around the World)!

Patty at My No-Guilt Life kindly offered to let me use the handy infographic she created for the discounts available.



Be sure to contact Jenn for a no-obligation quote just to see what magic she can make happen for your trip!

High Museum of Art's Dream Cars Arts & Rec: Family Day

Disclosure:  My family was provided with free admission to the High Museum of Art for purposes of review. All opinions are my own.

 There are so many great opportunities to expose kids to the arts in Atlanta.  I had previously taken my oldest and youngest to check out the Go West exhibit at the High Museum of Art and we discovered the great children's room they have!

When we got the chance to tour the Dream Cars exhibit, I knew my three boys would be all over it!  Add to that the chance to get hands-on with some car-related crafts and I couldn't keep them away!



Our visit started a little bit like the Clampetts go to town.  Word of advice - the parking deck across from the High is cash only.  We had to park and pool together our cash.  Yes - we had to get our 12 year old to dig into his change jar to reach the amount we needed.  Good times.

With most of our parental authority down the tubes, we headed into the High and up to the Dream Cars exhibit. Wait - brief stop at the cool optical illusion house outside!



My older ones immediately raced off with their dad to do some serious male bonding over these gorgeous cars.  My youngest and I took a more leisurely pace.  This was art, however, that the whole family could definitely get into.





After viewing all the cars, we headed back downstairs to the Arts & Rec event in the atrium.



The first thing my kids were drawn to?  You got it, cardboard boxes.  It was time to make their own car!  My two art inclined kids loved this part.





My middle son was more interested in the technology on display courtesy of Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta.  He watched a 3-D printer being used, bent his own piece of metal (which is still rattling around in the back of my car, purpose yet to be decided) and got to discuss how cars are made with the folks from SPSU.


We were sad that we were unable to spend more time in the museum but we were headed straight from our hard-earned parking space to our beach vacation, so we needed to get on the road!

I love that the High Museum of Art is a place where I can take my entire family and know that there is truly something there that each member of my family will enjoy.  My kids are still talking about the exhibit and my youngest certainly wants to get back into the children's area!

The next Arts & Rec: Family Day will be September 7th from 12:00pm - 5:00pm and is included with museum admission.  This Friday, the High is holding their HIGHly Social event - a must for a social media addict!  From 5:00pm - 9:00pm, free admission is offered to those who agree to tweet or instagram their views on the Dream Cars exhibit.  Interactive scavenger hunts will be held and attendees have the chance to win prizes from the museum shop!  Reservations are required, so be sure to RSVP today!

Have you been to the High Museum of Art with your children?  Which exhibit did you attend?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Win Tickets to Get Outside The Box at the Children's Museum of Atlanta!

This week we're challenging our kids to get creative!


If your kids are like mine, they are never more creative than when they have cardboard boxes.  Every time I get something mailed to the house, I get asked two questions:  "Is that for me?"  and "Can I have the box?"

Let's face it - they are not boxes to them.  They are parts of a castle.  They are animals waiting to take their shape.  They are cars, trucks and planes.

Photo credit:  Jeff Roffman

The Children's Museum of Atlanta wants to give your children the supplies they need to let their creativity soar!  They have generously offered me a pack of 4 tickets to giveaway so that your family can experience their current exhibit "Outside The Box"!

Photo Credit: Jeff Roffman

"Outside the Box" will be at the CMA through December 31st, but the fun part is that it changes each month!  With every new month comes a new theme:
August: Box Masters
September: Bookmaking: Bind, Box & Behold!
October: Outside the Boo!
November: Box It Up, Pay It Forward
December: Boxes & Bows

You could experience the same exhibit in a new way each month!  In addition to the Box Zone, you can also experience the Imagination Playground full of blocks, balls & other items as well as flex your brain in the Maker's Space - a place to dream, invent and create!

Photo Credit:  Jeff Roffman

My kids love the Children's Museum of Atlanta!  They've had some great times there, especially at their Homeschool Days!  One wonderful thing I noticed when looking over their website was their Early Hours program.  The first Saturday of the month, CMA will open up an hour early for children on the Autism Spectrum and their families.  This is also free for those families.  If your child would like to explore the museum but just needs to avoid excessive noise and crowds, this could be the perfect setting.  Reservations are required; you can find more information here.

Take a trip to downtown Atlanta and see just how fun playing with cardboard boxes can be!

Photo Credit:  The Children's Museum of Atlanta

The chance to win 4 tickets to The Children's Museum of Atlanta awaits!  Giveaway runs through July 28th at midnight.  U.S. residents only.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, July 21, 2014

Savannah Rock 'n' Roll Remix Challenge

Reposting as part of the Tuesdays on the Run link up party with My No-Guilt Life, Run The Great Wide Somewhere and MCM Mama Runs!  This week's topic is "Running on vacation" - which I didn't do.  At.  All.  So, I'm linking up about making a run your vacation!!  


It's Monday morning.

It's raining.

I have the post-vacation blues.

Let's talk some bling!

I'm so excited to be running the Rock 'n' Roll Savannah half marathon in November - it's definitely a check on the bucket list for me!  But it keeps getting better!



The half and full marathons are run on Saturday.  Recently, a 1 mile "shake out" run and a 5K were added for Sunday along with more bands and more fun!  It's a full-on running festival now, y'all!

Because the Rock 'n' Roll series knows runners, they know we like the shiny stuff.  Enter:  The Remix Challenge!  If you run a race on Saturday and a race on Sunday, you get extra bling!



And don't forget - there is definitely something for everyone.  The kids aren't left out in the racing.  We want to encourage our kids to start healthy habits for life!  Enter them in their own KidsRock race!


How can you not be sold yet?  A beautiful city like Savannah, extra bling, fun for the whole family....

Did I mention who the headliner is for the post-race concert?  Hello, American Idol!



And I have a discount code for $10 off the half or full.  But you need to register soon - prices increase again after August 31st!


So - what are you waiting for?  Will I see you Rock 'n' Roll in Savannah?