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seriously AWESOME back to school kids' looks

MOMLIFE, STYLElissa-anglinComment
When you can make your 8 year old a superhero, you absolutely do it. :)

When you can make your 8 year old a superhero, you absolutely do it. :)

Back-to-school shopping. It always sounds fun in theory, but in reality, I usually just end up ignoring it until we realize that someone literally has no more pants that fit. 😂My son, Knox, is super easy to please- as long as what he’s wearing is comfortable. But I also want him to look cool, too- and depending on where we’re shopping, that can be tough.

When I saw these rainbow sequin skirts, I knew the girls would LOVE THEM. And they do! My favorite thing is that they are lined with a soft jersey fabric so they stay comfy.

When I saw these rainbow sequin skirts, I knew the girls would LOVE THEM. And they do! My favorite thing is that they are lined with a soft jersey fabric so they stay comfy.

I’ve also never been a huge girly-girl- and so it’s quite ironic that I have two glitter-rainbow-sparkle-loving girls. A lot of little girl clothing is just too much tulle/rhinestone/crazy for me (thanks a lot, JoJo Siwa)- so anytime I can find something fun for the girls we ALL like, I am ON IT.

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When Mom says you can have some hot chocolate after we take a photo!

When Mom says you can have some hot chocolate after we take a photo!

So, I was so excited when I got in my order from Rockets of Awesome. From the first look at their website, I knew I would love everything they had to offer! I love finding versatile and fun clothing that is also comfortable for my kids. The girls are not a huge fan of jeans, so we wear a LOT of leggings/dresses and comfy tops.

These rainbow crew shirts are SO incredibly soft. The girls love them and there are so many ways to style them.

These rainbow crew shirts are SO incredibly soft. The girls love them and there are so many ways to style them.

Gosh I love this ever-growing boy. This AWESOME sweatshirt for perfectly with a bit of growing room.

Gosh I love this ever-growing boy. This AWESOME sweatshirt for perfectly with a bit of growing room.

The price point was a bit higher than I would normally spend, but if you order 4+ items from their site, you will automatically get 20% off which made all the difference.

When we got our box in the mail, I was SO impressed with the quality of the items. The shirts were so cozy and soft, and I know we will get a ton of wear out of them. The kids were also excited about them, which means I won’t have to struggle to get them dressed in the mornings!

Rockets of Awesome also has a great subscription box, which you get to customize to fit your child- and not just size-wise- they ask you about your individual child’s preferences, so if you have a kid who’s picky about their clothing, this is incredibly helpful. They’ll send you clothing every 3 months (perfect for each new season) and you just keep what you’d like (at a special 25% off subscriber price!), and send back what you don’t.

No dragging your kid to the mall? Comfy, cute clothing that will last? DONE and DONE.

They’ve got a TON of cute pieces on their site- here are a few of my faves! Click on the image to be taken to the website and shop!

Rainbow Stripe Sweatshirt Dress
Metallic Stripe Ruffle Sleeve Dress
Rainbow Comfy Crew
Print Raglan Tee
Rainbow Romper
Chambray Dress
Flip Sequin Skirt
Tie Dye Active Capri
Essential Tank Dress
Rockets Of Awesome X State Backpack In Pastel Rainbow
Cheetah Capri Legging
Tres Mermaid Comfy Crew
Awesome Sweatshirt
ROA #Goals Active Tee
Fuzzy Tiger Tee
Pinata Llama 3-D Tee
Birdseye Jogger
Reflective Stripe Active Short
Quilted Bomber
Rockets Of Awesome X State Backpack In Camo Neon

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you decide to shop and find something you love, I’ll earn a little to go do the same. Thanks for your support!

my year in books - book review

LIFESTYLE, MOMLIFElissa-anglin1 Comment

“You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.”


Charlie Tremendous Jones

One of my favorite quotes, and a great excuse to read, read, read! It’s been a long while since I’ve shared an update on what I’m reading- and I’ve never really reviewed any of these books, so I thought it would be a good habit to start!

In this post, I’m reviewing all the books I’ve read since last July. You guys, there are some DUDS and SO MANY GOOD ONES! Hopefully you’ll enjoy my regular-girl quick reviews on these.

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In no particular order- let’s go!

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

EVERYONE was telling me I needed to read this one- and they were all exactly right! Odds are you’ve been told this as well- and if not, hear me say it! The book is described as a coming-of-age story meets murder mystery, and it is- woven with such beautiful descriptions of the North Carolina swamp it made me actually want to go visit. This one is culturally interesting (the South in the 1950’s-70’s) and had a great ending. I read it in 3 days- it’s that good.

Small Admissions by Amy Poeppel

I bought this one at an airport bookstore because I liked the cover, haha- and I’m so glad I did! As I was reading this one, I couldn’t figure out why I liked it so much- but I just HAD to know what was going to happen next. This book is about a girl going through a bad breakup, who also needs a job and ends up as the admissions director of a private school in New York City. It is understated but entertaining. In the end, I really think the beauty in this one is the depth that Poeppel gives her characters- insight into their thought lives and what makes them act the way they do. I ended up loving this one- one of my favorites of the year.

The Ministry of Ordinary Places by Shannan Martin

Oh, you guys- this one is understated yet so significant. I still don’t believe I really have processed all that God spoke to me while reading the beautiful, imperfect stories Shannan has so thoughtfully documented in this book. This book forces you to really think about the everyday in new ways- our “inconveniences”, our “needs” and being thankful in everything.

Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks

This is a really easy and fun read- and if you love Tom Hanks, you’ll probably enjoy this book of semi-random short stories he wrote. Reading it I kept hearing his distinctive voice in the text, and about 3 or 4 stories in I realized the common theme- there is a typewriter woven into every story. My favorite story was the one about time travel. I gifted this book to my Dad for Christmas and he loved it too.

Everybody Always by Bob Goff

This is a great book with a great concept- and many quoteables. I love Bob Goff and the way he thinks. The stories inside this book are proof of how God truly does love everybody, always, which is also our calling as believers. I didn’t love this book as much as Bob’s previous book, Love Does, but it is a good read.

Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

Ugh, I wanted to love this one- and in some ways I did- but it was missing something major to me. Let me explain- I have all the respect for Rachel Hollis- she is full of gusto, honesty, and I loved reading her boots-on-the-ground, learning-as-I-go stories, but I wish this book had Jesus in it. Yes, Rachel is a Christian, and did intentionally choose to make this book not geared toward one religion, but I feel like because of that the message is much more “save yourself” than “Jesus died to save you”. However, lots of great content and encouragement, especially for women business owners.

My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

So after seeing Hamilton the musical, I really wanted to read this one- which is a historical fiction book about Eliza Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton’s wife, who accomplished a LOT in the 50 years she lived after his death. I enjoyed the first 1/3 of the book, but after that it just felt really slow and political which wasn’t my jam. But hey, I know a lot more about the founding fathers now! So, if you love American history/colonial era, go for it- if not, might want to move on.

Hotels of North America by Rick Moody

I found this book at Dollar Tree (yes, for $1!), and thought it was an interesting concept. The entire book is a series of hotel reviews by one man (apparently on a popular travel review site like TripAdvisor). His reviews reveal unusual glimpses into his life that are intriguing, a little disgusting, and also made me chuckle. I really loved Rick Moody’s descriptive writing style. I can’t say I loved this book so much- but I won’t forget it soon, so take that for what you will.

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Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

READ THIS. It’s great. So intriguing. Another one I devoured in about 3 days. 1990s in suburban, idealistic America- mystery, mother-daughter relationships, coming-of-age…it’s got it all and so many will find a relatable moment while reading. Little Fires Everywhere is going to be miniseries on Hulu starring Reece Witherspoon and Kerry Washington so this is a great one to read before it releases!

Limelight by Amy Poeppel

I loved Small Admissions so much, I couldn’t wait to read Amy Poeppel’s new book, Limelight. This one is entirely different in subject- but is so enjoyable. It’s the story of a mom who becomes a teen celebrity’s (think Justin Beiber-like) personal assistant on accident. It’s set in New York City so I loved the story of a family moving from Texas to the Big Apple- seeing their transitions mixed with the celebrity antics is entertaining. It’s a good easy read.

Captivate by Vanessa Van Edwards

This book is full of research on what it takes to really captivate people. I wanted to read this one after hearing Vanessa Van Edwards interview on a podcast. She is incredibly well-spoken and I loved her practical applications- like suggestions on where to stand at a party and how to connect with people quickly and effectively. I’m going to have to re-read this one a few times just to take it all in.

Small Victories by Anne Lamott

I picked up this one after reading Uncommon Type, thinking another volume of short stories by one of my favorite authors was a good idea. I LOVED Bird by Bird and so I had high hopes for this one. This book is a collection of more spiritual essays by Anne Lamott focusing on “improbable moments of grace”, and I have a feeling I will appreciate this one more at a later stage in life. I’ll keep it around but it wasn’t my fave.

The Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner

This one was SO GREAT. It was perfect for me, in this stage of life- trying to raise kids, work, be a great wife and friend. I really appreciated Jessica’s practical perspective and also her ability to make me think about what really matters the most to me. I went in prepping for a guilt trip (as if we working moms need another one)- but that’s not at all what this book is. It’s freedom-giving and encouraging- reassurance that we’re not alone.

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

This book was recommended to me by several friends and I’m glad I’ve read it- though I did feel it got a bit long. It’s a great book about racism with twisted moral dilemma that drove me to keep reading. In the end, I enjoyed this book though it got a little long.

The Wangs Vs. The World by Jade Chang

I read this one on the tail of finishing the Crazy Rich Asians Series (I don’t know- I guess I was on the Asian current?!), and it was disappointing. The concept is a bit Beverly Hilbillies-in-reverse- a wealthy family falling apart after experiencing fabulous wealth and then total material loss. There were a few funny moments but in the end I didn’t love it.

Beneath the Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan

Another historical fiction book, this one is based on the true story of an Italian spy during World War II. It is a truly incredible story- if you love this time period, or have any connections to the Alps, you will love this. I did feel it got a bit long and boring, but there are also quite a few moments that are so incredible, it’s hard to believe it’s actually a true story.

A Million Little Ways by Emily Freeman

If you are a Christian creative, this is a MUST READ. I love Emily’s work (I say this as if I know her personally! ha!) and this may be my favorite thing she’s ever written. It is FULL of gems about God’s purpose for creatives and how to create with that understanding. It’s already time for me to read this again.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

I’d seen lots of great reviews on this one, so I picked it up to read on vacation. It is charming and mysterious- getting to know Eleanor as she simultaneously makes a friend (seemingly her first ever) is sweet and awkward all in one. There is a great twist at the end of this book, but I can’t say I really loved it.

Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend

This was the second time I gave this book a go. I’d heard it referenced so many times on the Dave Ramsey show but wasn’t prepared for it to be so textbook-like. So, when I decided to try to read it again, I was a couple years older and had some more life under my belt. I feel like every household needs this book- it’s a great reference on healthy relationships and how to keep them healthy. My favorite quote, which my husband quotes to me often, is “You are responsible to other people, not responsible for them.”

The Crazy Rich Asians Series by Kevin Kwan

I kept seeing this series and wasn’t sure what it would all be about- but a chapter or two in, I couldn’t stop reading. This series features an extremely wealthy elite group of Chinese families living in Singapore- their escapades, relationships and inheritances. It was romantic and funny- and of course made me want to visit Singapore. My favorite book of the series was the last one- Rich People Problems, where everything is tied together nicely in the end.

The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins

This book is a great kick in the pants and actually encouraged me to start exercising regularly. It is a very simple strategy for getting things done explained by optimistic-yet-real Mel Robbins (a woman!). If you’ve seen her viral Ted talk, this book is the result of that. I also listened to this one on Audible and it is read by Mel and includes several extra offsides and stories you won’t get in the book.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Another one I devoured in just a few days- this book is a great novel about the volatile relationship between police and African Americans, and is such a relevant and important read. I loved Starr’s character and her interesting relationships with her family and the rest of the world. This is a definite page-turner and thought-provoker. Shawn and I watched the movie after I read this and we both really liked it.

And, if you’re not the page-turning type, I’d recommend checking out Audible. I’ve had a membership for a few years and love it- I listen to books while driving, working out, editing, doing laundry etc!

our road-trip travel hacks + must-haves

TRAVEL, LIFESTYLE, MOMLIFElissa-anglin1 Comment
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So far this summer we’ve spent about 60 hours in the car as a family, getting to our vacations. :) It’s not been near as bad as I anticipated, and we’ve learned a few trips along the way- so I’m here to share!

Our best road-trip travel hacks:

  • Slip on shoes for kids. Keep in one place when inside the car so you don’t have to search for them every time you need to get out. We especially love Natives so this is usually what they are wearing.

  • Small neck pillow and blanket for each kid. We keep in a basket of these in the back of the car all the time.

  • We are big fans of leaving early in the morning so that we can take a pit stop at lunch. So, we get up early. To help the kids sleep, and because I just love it, I keep my car diffuser on all the time- usually with a relaxing scent like lavender. I will throw some peppermint oil in there if I’m driving and feeling sleepy and it perks me up right away. This is the one I have, and it works well, though I wish I would have tried this one since it doesn’t take up a cupholder.

  • Unlimited screen time & cell phone hotspot or downloaded movies. That’s right- we give our kids unlimited screen time and turn on one of our cell phone hotspots while driving. We came really close to using up all of our data this month, but didn’t and it was worth it for the peace and quiet! Also, we say “unlimited” screen time, but in reality they fall asleep watching or their devices die. If you don’t want to turn on your hotspot, you can download selected movies from Netflix for free. They expire in a week so be sure to do it just before your trip. A couple of must-haves for this are some good headphones (we have had plenty break, these are the best), durable iPad cases. We keep a designated backpack to hold all 3 tablets, headphones, and chargers so that they are easily found when not in use.

  • Stay hydrated- We also always bring an insulated mug for both Shawn and I and a water bottle for each kid. The kids know they are in charge of their own cup, so it gives them a little responsibility- though we are still picking them up a lot! Did you know you get a .10 discount if you bring your own mug to Starbucks?! Also, on this note- you’ll want to check out the travel potty that we love because it definitely came in handy!

  • I bought several snacks in bulk at Sam’s before the trip and they really came in handy and kept us from buying junk at the convenience store. (However, my love for chewy Sweet Tarts did overpower me once!) For these trips I bought fruit snacks, Goldfish, Pop Chips, zBars, turkey pepperoni, bottled water, powdered flavorings for water, Babybel cheese, and apples. We kept them all in my favorite travel cooler bag with these flexible ice packs and the cold items stayed nice and cool!

  • Get a good gas station routine. To cut down on time and confusion at pit stops (and there are many when you have 3 littles), we stick to this plan every time- Shawn gets gas and takes Knox to bathroom, I clean out trash and take girls. Seems small, but saves us a lot of stress.

  • I always bring a small dish brush (this one fits in my toiletry bag) and a travel sized container of dish soap. I’ve used it for so many things- namely cleaning our water bottles, but they have come in handy with shoes, stains, and lots of other things!

  • I love to pack with compression bags. I have found I can fit so much more in and keep it all organized with them.

  • When there’s room, I bring a foldable laundry hamper that I set up in the room where we are staying. Makes doing laundry after we get home a breeze and keeps the room clean.

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I love a good list- so here are some things that makes life easier for us when traveling!


IN THE CAR

AUX Cable with iPhone/iPad charger port

• Band-Aids (these are for practical purposes but also entertain when you’re in a pinch! Warning- they make lots of trash)

The Best Portable Potty Seat + Liners (we LOVE this foldable potty seat and the throw away liners. It comes with a bag to store everything in and fits under a seat!)

Car Seat Protectors & Kick Mats


FOR THE KIDS

Cute backpacks they can carry

Contigo cups

Boogie Wipes (we love the grape ones)

Kid’s Melatonin (We first used these to help with jet lag while in China, and they work so well for our kids that we now take them with us whenever we travel.)

Kickee Pants Blankets So soft and lightweight, fold up to a small size

Boogie Board

Water Wow

Wikki Stix

• Our Favorite Activity Books

Durable Headphones

Tough iPad Cases


FOR THE BABIES

Tula Carrier

Airlight Carrier - we used this when the Tula was too hot. The airlight is mesh and breathable, perfect for a newborn to about 6 months. It packs small and is also great for water/splash pad/pool situations because it dries quickly. Of course, I wouldn’t swim in it- but it was nice to have when I was supervising one child while wearing another.

Snack Cups

Portable Placemat


BEAUTY/HEALTH

• Mineral Sunscreen (my favorite for face, for body)

Essential Oil Carrier

Oils that I typically carry are

  • Thieves - germ blaster

  • R.C. - excellent for congestion

  • Lavender - sooooo many uses but great for allergies, bug bites, promoting sleep

  • Peppermint - Shawn swears by this for headache relief, great for tummy aches and cooling in the heat

  • DiGize - for all those tummy troubles after adventurous eating

  • Geranium - this is a MUST HAVE for us because Liv gets nosebleeds and this oil stops them quickly

  • Oregano - ear infections, other infections)

Travel Size Dry Shampoo

• Travel Size Dish Soap

Small Dish Brush

Thieves Hand Sanitizer (Young Living)

Probiotics (we use Life 9 by Young Living)


LUGGAGE + GEAR

Hardside Rolling Suitcases - These are great because they are expandable and hold a lot.

Foldable Laundry Hamper

CamelBak - I bought one of these years ago and now Shawn mostly carries it. It’s been great for family camp and other days when we’ve been outside a lot.

Tough Luggage Tags with Privacy

Compression Bags

Double Inline Stroller - This one folds down relatively small and we have loved it!

• Extra Gallon Ziploc Bags/a few empty plastic grocery sacks- these are great for alllllll sorts of things. Use them as a dry bag or to cover super dirty shoes. They don’t take up much room and I love having them because I always find a use for them.


BEACH SPECIFIC

Foldable Cart (Beach) - Thankfully, the condo we rented had one of these, but we found out quickly that the wheel size matters! This cart is pricier but worth it when you’re dragging your stuff across the sandy beach.

Portable Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker

Pop-up Beach Tent - a MUST HAVE with an infant!


GO-TO SNACKS

Freezable Tote

Dried Chile Mango (addicting!!!)

Larabars (Lemon is my fave!)

ClifKid Zbars

• Turkey Pepperoni

• Beef Jerky

Yeti Ramblers for Coffee

Nalgene Water Bottles

SHOP THE POST


lissa's lists • 50 things to do with your kids this summer

MOMLIFE, LIFESTYLElissa-anglinComment
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I don’t know about you, but as a working mom (who offices from home), when summer draws near- I start to panic. I photograph a lot of weddings during the summer and so for me, it’s my busy season. Add 3 potentially bored children to that, and my eye twitch is back in full force.

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So this Monday, I’m writing this list for me- so I literally have something to reference when I need an idea to keep little hands busy.

Most of these can be done at home, and I tend to favor ideas that I don’t have to monitor. I know sometimes we just need to get out of the house, so I’m including a few ideas for “field trips” as well. I’m also including a few things like pool and water toys that we like to buy at the beginning of the summer.

1) Freeze toys in ice and let them dig them out

2) Create a pinwheel garden. Buy some pinwheels at the dollar store or create your own, and let the kids “plant” them in pots or the ground. Maximum effect and no watering necessary!

3) Make your own pinwheels (helpful for number 2!)

4) Do some target practice with water balloons in the backyard. Draw a target with chalk on your fence and let the kids go at it! These quick-filling water balloons are the BEST and totally worth it!

5) Paint with water on the driveway. We like to add in chalk to make it extra colorful. Have I mentioned I buy sidewalk chalk in bulk?!? Ha!

6) Print out a free scavenger hunt from my Pinterest board. There are several that will work in the car, at home, or out and about. I also love this D.I.Y. one that is perfect for younger kids who don’t read yet.

7) Blow up some balloons. And just let the kids do as they please. Somehow this is always entertaining.

8) Throw in some paper plates and let the kids play balloon tennis. Don’t forget to have them decorate their plates beforehand! More busy time. :)

9) Love this balloon puppy idea from The Craft Train. My girls would love it and Knox could probably make some Pokemon/Minecraft version for himself.

10) Water balloon volleyball with towels.

11) Create a scene on your driveway with sidewalk chalk that your kids can pose in and take pictures.

12) Make a summer movie bucket list that include some of your old favorites. There are so many great ones available on streaming services we already have. I like to use Common Sense Media to get some ideas and a run-down on the content before they watch.

Best Kids' Movies on Netflix in 2019

13) Mix up a new popcorn recipe for movie time using these recipes from A Grande Life.

14) Create an outdoor mud kitchen. There are many elaborate ones on Pinterest but for us this usually looks like me handing the girls a few plastic kitchen utensils and bowls they don’t normally get to play with.

15) Up your game by including some pantry staples you’ll never use (rice, pasta, etc.) to use in their outdoor play kitchen.

16) Plant something and let them tend to it every day. Grass seeds grow quickly and potato vine is cheap and grows quickly. You can let each kid have a vine they take care of.

17) Make some watering cans from old milk cartons.

18) Have a scheduled fashion show. Assign number of outfits. Designate a stage tech who is in charge of lighting and music.

19) Give the kids a couple of old bedsheets and have them create a fort in the backyard.

20) Create an easy pulley system in the backyard and have the kids haul goods.

21) Create a care package to mail to someone. Make a card, create a scavenger hunt. Have the kids fill out this All About Me printable book and mail it to a friend with a blank one inside for them to fill out.

22) Make a music video using an ipad or a phone and send it to a friend. Assign each of the kids a job.

23) Mystery snow cones. Test the kids’ ability to try new things and have them guess the flavors of their snow cones (you’ll have to order, of course).

25) D.I.Y. Pantry popsicles. We have made popsicles many times with some cheap popsicle molds and ingredients we had on hand- powdered lemonade is a staple for us so we mix it with whatever fresh fruit we have- canned fruit works well, too! Add in sprinkles, crushed candy, yogurt- you name it, we have probably tried to make a popsicle out of it! Or you could just try these tried-and-true delicious popsicle recipes!

26) Play snow! This stuff makes a mess but brushes off the skin very easily. And one little bag makes a ton. Our kids love playing with it.

27) Play florist for a neighbor, grandparent, or friend. Buy a cheap bouquet while you’re at the grocery store, have the kids make a card. Use a leftover vase or mason jar and help the kids create a bouquet. Add ribbon. It doesn’t have to be pretty. One bouquet can make several small arrangements. Add in greenery from your backyard as filler. And deliver it!

28) Prep dinner. I have found my kids will eat so much better at mealtime if they “help” make dinner. We do a lot of crock pot/instant pot meals so I have begun appointing a helper at every meal who assists me.

29) READ. Knox is a great reader but never really wants to read, so if I give him a time requirement (usually 30 minutes) with a reward at the end (such as screentime), he’ll often read longer than he is required to.

28) For non-readers, let them “read” on youtube! Start here! Tons of great children’s books.

Our library hosted a free petting zoo last year and our kids still talk about it as one of their favorite things we did!

Our library hosted a free petting zoo last year and our kids still talk about it as one of their favorite things we did!

29) Hit up the local library, which has a lot more than books. Ours has an array of free or cheap activities for kids.

30) Wash the car! And the bikes! Good soapy fun is always enjoyed.

31) Leaf Rubbings are always enjoyed at our house. You can make people or flowers out of them.

32) We used to love making hot rocks with melted crayons. This does require using an oven but I still enjoy doing this as an adult and you’ll have some pretty rocks for your garden!

33) Make paper airplanes and have awards for most decorative, longest flying, etc.

34) Make these awesome sponge balls instead of water balloons. Reusable and cheap!

35) Paint with watercolors on a block of ice. Use cheap watercolors- they will last a long time!

36) Show them how to create a summer dance playlist on spotify or Apple Music. Make a “dance floor” in the living room. Our girls love dancing with these play scarves, too.

37) Let them take something apart. This could be an old sports ball, outdated electronic, old stuffed animal, etc.

38) Run in the sprinklers. Put a sprinkler under the swingset and BOOM! Instant water park.

39) Go geo-caching. Super fun and free! Bring a few small prizes to leave when you find something. Start here!

40) Observe the constellations on your phone by downloading the Sky View app. Our kids love this app and you can print out this free constellation map to use!

41) Give the dogs a bath. Or the baby dolls.

42) Use these free printable tangrams! These are great for a variety of ages. Our 8 year old son enjoys origami, too- find some youtube videos that teach.

Bubble machines are relatively cheap and great for littles who haven’t figured out the wands quite yet.

Bubble machines are relatively cheap and great for littles who haven’t figured out the wands quite yet.

43) I love this create your own paintbrushes idea! Grab some tempera paint that will wash out easily or use watercolor.

44) Practice the alphabet with sticky notes.

45) Get the GoNoodle app on your computer or smart TV. Tons of great songs and activities there.

46) Code.org is an awesome learning tool for school-aged kids and a lot of fun.

47) We also love Cosmic Kids Yoga, too!

48) Make (or just buy!) some different varieties of bird feed and hang a paper on the window to track which feed is most popular and what birds are eating it.

49) Make some bubble wands with pipe cleaners. We love bubbles and stock up on them always!

50) Watch some silly or interesting kid-friendly videos. We love episodes America’s Funniest Home Videos, BBC Walk on the Wild Side videos like this one, and we also love to research trips or upcoming vacations by finding informational videos on those places.

Most of these ideas have a corresponding pin on my Summer Activities for Kids Pinterest board!


I’m also planning on picking up a few items for the pool or outdoor play for the summer- here are a few of the things I’ve been eyeballing!

Hope you found this helpful! Here’s to a fun summer!

DIY Scribble Floral Mural

HOME + LIFESTYLE, MOMLIFElissa-anglinComment

This is an idea I've had brewing in my head for well over a year now. It all started when my sister put in this gorgeous wallpaper in her daughter's nursery. THEN I started crushing on this Hygge & West wallpaper and just KNEW I had to put it in the girls' room (I'm actually really excited about the wallpaper resurgence- so many modern and colorful designs!).  

However, after doing all the calculations, I decided that it simply wasn’t in the budget. And, after seeing the oversized florals in Hayden's nursery I thought that might be a little more do-able. I also figured I could paint over it if I hated it! 

So, I decided to give the floral thing a shot. This method I used is really so forgiving- I will describe it in detail as best I can! And it was actually a quick project – the planning took a lot longer than the actual painting.

The first thing I did was sketch the composition on my iPad so I knew so I could get my ideas out "on paper", and play with color palettes. I pulled the composition off of a few bouquet photos I liked and traced certain parts of it to get me started. After that it was a matter of filling in the gaps, and repeating some of those same florals in different spots. I knew wanted to keep in the color scheme I have been prepping for their room anyway- pink, orange, mustard yellow, and black and white. I wanted the flowers to have more of an illustrative feel as opposed to a realistic look, which I knew would be a lot easier for me to achieve. I like to call these my "scribble flowers". 

Thanks to my iPad and Procreate, it's actually really easy to share that process with you here:

The room also has a chair rail on all the walls (when we moved in there was a really uh, interesting frog border sandwiched in-between the molding)-  and I wanted to make sure that everything would look right with the chair rail– so I knew I needed to do something to add interest there to keep the flow throughout the room. So, I also drew up a mock up of how it would look in the room. 

My room mock up with the floral design and border.

My room mock up with the floral design and border.

This woman actually swore she would never paint a room pink...famous last words!

This woman actually swore she would never paint a room pink...famous last words!


Once I had come up with a design I was happy with, it was time to paint!

My mom came over and helped me paint the three different colors on the walls – and this is definitely the hardest part! We ended up having to paint the ceiling after we realized it wasn’t actually white, but a very light blue which wouldn’t complement the new colors. I'm so thankful I had my mom to help me pick out the grey color (really more of a greige than grey) on the bottom- previously it was a really blue grey which made it feel cold and sterile to me. Since I knew we'd be adding warmer colors, it was really important to pick a grey with a warm undertone- otherwise it would have made the original grey look very blue.

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Pink background color: Valspar Arctic Ice 

White: Valspar Downy

Grey on bottom and in mural: Valspar Requisite Grey

We used Satin sheen with every paint- I have found it is very scrubbable without being too shiny.

If you watch my Insta stories (follow me @lissaanglin), you’ll remember that I recommended using an angled brush as opposed to a square one. I hate messing with painter's tape and have found that an angled brush gives me as good or better results. The key with the angled brushes to not overloaded with too much paint and go slow.

Once my base coats were ready, it was time to sketch out the composition. I’d like to do my outlines with chalk, since it wipes off easily. At first I tried drawing with white chalk, but it just wasn’t enough of a contrast on the pink, so I ended up using a light purple chalk. It did end up mixing with the paint somewhat, but it just wasn’t that big of a deal for me – so be warned if you choose to use a darker color of chalk – you might see it a bit!

Next I mixed all of my additional colors for the mural. To keep everything really consistent, I chose to use the same white paint that was on our trim and chair rail, so that all of the paint would have the same base color. Not all white paints are created equal – some have a blue base, some have a green base, some red, some yellow – you get the idea. I mixed the paint in my fancy Solo cups- adding about half a cup of white paint and then tinting the white with these paints from Michaels by adding just a bit at of color at a time and stirring well.

I am a messy painter!

I am a messy painter!

Keep in mind that your paint will dry darker than it looks when wet. It might be a good idea to paint yourself a test on a piece of paper and let it dry so that you can see the actual colors. I would also suggest using a more limited color palette – three or four colors max – it will keep it much more consistent and professional looking.

Once I had the composition sketched out and paints ready, it was time for the paint bottom layer which I'm calling the "blobs". This is a really fun part of the process. Using a square brush like these, I began to apply my blobs of paint using my outlines guides- but I wasn't too precious about it. ;)

 I wanted to make the color bleed outside of the outline in the end, so I purposely made the color blobs a bit larger than they needed to be. For simplicity sake, I decided to make all of the same types of flowers the same color – so peonies were pink, chrysanthemums were orange, etc. I attempted to do a time-lapse video of myself painting, but didn't quite make it to the outlining stage before my iPad died. However, hopefully this video will give a good idea of how I painted my blobs:



Once the blobs were finished, I let the paint dry fully and then it was time for the outline! I recommend using a round brush (these are great) for the outlines. Keep in mind you will likely need a smaller brush than you think, because when you put pressure on the brush, it’s going to get bigger. So, it’s better to lean on the smaller side so that your outlines don’t become too big.

Can't wait till there are two sweet girls playing in this room!

Can't wait till there are two sweet girls playing in this room!

Looking at my original sketch, I began to paint the outlines over my colored paint blobs. I didn’t worry too much about staying inside or outside of the lines – and purposely went outside the lines frequently. I used only 1 round brush for all of the outline, so that it was consistent throughout.

Once I was finished, I added some random colored dots/blobs of all the colors I used around the entire piece.

That’s it! I needed up having quite a bit of extra paint that I had mixed, and I didn’t want to throw it out because I’m a paint hoarder, so I went to the dollar store and bought some cheap plastic containers that worked perfectly for storage. Now if anything ever happens to the flowers (likely in our household), I have handy touch up paint.

After I was done I was hesitant to hang the curtains on top of the flowers, but that had been my intention from the beginning, and I love the way the flowers peek out from behind. Also, this room has a ways to go but let's be real- the toys are usually on the floor anyway. :)

After I was done I was hesitant to hang the curtains on top of the flowers, but that had been my intention from the beginning, and I love the way the flowers peek out from behind. Also, this room has a ways to go but let's be real- the toys are usually on the floor anyway. :)

There you have it! If you made it through this far, thanks for reading and I hope you attempt some scribble florals yourself!

liv jumping on the bed

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I had an impromptu shoot with Liv a few weeks ago and am finally getting some time to edit them. These are some of my favorite images I've shot of her because they are just completely her! Messy hair, baby dolls, and lots of jumping. 

I shot these with my D750 with a 24-70 2.8 lens. I stayed right around 2.8 1/500 with my ISO at 1250 the entire time. 

I also shared my editing process in my Moms Who Snap group earlier today and that video is available to watch for the next couple of days if you'd like to check it out!

Ready to harness the power of your fancy camera and learn to shoot in manual? Or want to learn how I use Adobe Lightroom to edit? Check out my Skillshare classes! They are perfect for beginners- http://www.partofmeblog.com/photoworkshops/

Click on either image below to get 2 free months of Skillshare- more than enough time to complete both classes!

christmas cranberry moscow mules

HOME + LIFESTYLE, MOMLIFElissa-anglinComment
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That's right...I've got jokes :)

My go-to drink on a night out is a moscow mule, and my go-to drink while running errands with the kids is a water with cranberry and lime! So, when we had the murder mystery party I thought it would be fun to do a holiday mix-up of the two- a cranberry moscow mule.

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The recipe is quite simple- all you need to do is make up some cranberry simple syrup and add it to your favorite moscow mule recipe. I like my mules a little sweet, so check out the recipe below for how I achieve that!  

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Cranberry Moscow Mules

1 oz. cranberry simple syrup (I used this easy recipe- you just need cranberries, sugar and water!)

2 oz. vodka

3 oz. ginger beer

3 oz. Sprite

1-2 lime wedges

Ice cubes

In a copper mug, pour vodka, ginger beer, and Sprite. Add ice cubes and stir. Pour cranberry simple syrup over the ice, and squeeze a wedge or two of lime into the mixture. Enjoy! It's so refreshing!

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a day in the mind of a waiting adoptive mom

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Beeeepppp…..Beeeeeeepppppp……that alarm is always too early and too loud. I lean over to silence it and breathe a deep yawn. With my head still on the pillow, I realize it’s a new day.

Lord, can it be today?

We’ve been in our adoption process for almost 5 years now. For much of that time, I knew that there was a very slim chance we’d get to see our daughter’s face that day- so it was easier to push that anticipation to the future- telling myself that we were not in the season to expect that just yet. I could still pray, be satisfied knowing God’s plan is perfect…anticipating that time when “it could be any day now”.

And now, for the past three months…every day of those months…“it could be any day now”. We are anticipating that moment when we will get a phone call- that leads to an email- which contains my daughter’s face. This part- the “any day now” part- has not been what I expected.

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“Mooooooommmmmmmmyyyyyyy….I want cereal! Moooooommmmmmyyy!!” Instead of hopping out of bed, I pretend that they really aren’t there and beg my pillow for a few more minutes of sleep. Thankfully, my husband arises to feed the hungry and make coffee.

Kids are sent to school, husband heads to work. It’s finally quiet and I have some head space. Time to spend with Jesus. We talk and I’m honest. I worry that there is something he’s waiting on me to “figure out” before we get that call. Something I can control or fix before it happens. Ha! Why are you always grasping for that control, Lissa?!?

And he tells me, “Child, I love you. Rest in my timing. Her redemption is coming. She will be home in my perfect time." So, I ask again that our phone call would come. Can it be today, Lord? I pray about the other hard things in my world- things that seem so much bigger than our adoption. Gracefully, my Savior hears it all. 

Work begins for the day and takes over my brain waves. Emails, texts, images to edit. It’s family photo season and as I look at the sweet faces of the families I photograph I wonder, “What will ours look like next year? This time last year I was sure there’d be another face in our photo…”

During my efforts to lessen the chaos of my email inbox, I see an email from our adoption agency. Could this be it?!? And maybe I just missed the call?!? Hurriedly, I open the email. It’s just a monthly program update. It’s nice, and encouraging, but not the email I really want today.

The email prompts me to check our agency’s private waiting child website. There, I can see the faces of the children recently matched, as well as some who are still waiting for their families. It is exciting and heartbreaking- in some of their faces I can imagine my own daughter’s, and seeing some my heart breaks knowing that they wait still- and that we are not the family for him or her. I should be praying over this list. All of these children are in a wait, too. It’s not just me. And I have a husband to hug, and babies to hug. I’m ok. Lord, bring these kids a family.

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Before I know it, it’s time for my daily school pick up parade. I pull up to my daughter’s daycare and jump out of the car because as usual, I am riiiight on the edge of being late. As I approach the door, a few Taiwanese mothers stand talking as their children play nearby. What will they think when I have a baby in my arms that looks more like them than me? Will they ask about her? And how will I respond? I’ve never spoken to these women before, but I have gazed upon their beautiful children more than once, thinking of my own beautiful Asian. We do not yet have any close friends who are Asian- though we are dying to find some…but what do you say? Hi, our daughter is coming from China and will you be our Asian friend? Really, Lissa?!? I roll my eyes at my inner thoughts as I open the glass doors of the building. 

Daughter in tow, I hop back into the car, and I’ve got a voicemail on my phone from a friend. She’s just checking on me. Tells me she’s praying for that baby to come. It is sweet- because I know she knows. Her adopted baby girl is now approaching 3 years old and is absolutely beautiful and full of just the sass and flavor God knew my friend could mother well. Don’t forget, Lissa, she waited too- her daughter is your reminder. I haven’t forgotten you.

My littlest and I head to my son’s school to pick him up. As we wait for the 1st graders to file out of the school building, I chat with a mom friend who happens to be holding a very tiny, very new foster daughter in her arms. She asks about our adoption process and I have no real news to tell her. I love that she asks- that she cares- but I wish I had something new to say today. Her family has been fostering for about a year now and I have seen several sweet children in her arms during that time. The vast differences of our current journey with international adoption versus the rhythms of foster care hit me. While we wait, she has babies in her arms. When we bring a baby home, it is permanent. When they welcome one, there is no promise of permanency. Still, both take care of children in need. Both are a means to a family. We have so much in common and yet so many differences. 

My son smiles as he approaches us. We wave goodbye to teachers and friends, and head to the car. Loading my two and getting them buckled amidst school pick up traffic proves to be more challenging than anticipated. How in the world am I going to do this with three kids?!? Ugh. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there. 

The next hour or so if full of homework and play, snacks and tying up loose ends from my work day. Before I know it, it’s 5:00. Our adoption agency is closed for the day. Ok, another day done. No call. That’s ok. Maybe tomorrow. Just be where you are and enjoy your family.

We eat and my husband and I talk about our day and discuss plans for the weeks and months ahead. Will we be able to make that trip? There is still so much in the air. We can’t make plans too far in advance. We don’t know when that call will come. We don’t know when we will travel to pick up a new daughter. But there are still schedules, and jobs and trips in the midst…and we can’t just stop living…

We clean up, do the bath time and bedtime routine. Our youngest is 2 1/2, and still wants to be rocked to sleep. I’m ok with it- because it’s as much for me as it is for her. I can’t rock my baby in China right now. But I am so very thankful for this one I hold in our warm house, snuggled under her blanket. I turn on our songs and we sing as we rock. 

Take courage, my heart, stay steadfast, my soul- He’s in the waiting, He’s in the waiting

Hold onto your hope, as your triumph unfolds- He’s never failing, He’s never failing

("Take Courage" from the Bethel Starlight album)

One daughter in my arms, and one half a world away. Both in the protective and loving arms of my Father. It’s now 8:15 p.m., which means that China is waking up- men and women are doing their morning exercises in the park, maybe my daughter is eating breakfast. Maybe she was done with that hours ago and now she’s playing. Maybe she is crying or being held my a nanny, or a foster mother…I don’t know. And I won’t know…and maybe I’ll never know. But that’s ok. God’s promise is good and He has her right now, just like he has me. Tomorrow is a new day, and a new chance we will get that call. 

Lord, can it be tomorrow?

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I've been in the process of knitting a quilt for our adopted daughter. I put the project down for a couple of years and have recently picked it back up- maybe as a coping mechanism?!? Here's to hoping I can actually finish it. Either way, it helps. :)

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I've been in the process of knitting a quilt for our adopted daughter. I put the project down for a couple of years and have recently picked it back up- maybe as a coping mechanism?!? Here's to hoping I can actually finish it. Either way, it helps. :)

my wonder women tribe

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You guys, Shawn and I just saw the new movie Wonder Woman. I know- #latetotheparty...but, kids. 

It is literally 12:00 a.m. and I am ready to hit the gym. I can't be the only woman who just wanted to go kick some ass after watching that, right?! Simply. Amazing. 

I loved so much about the movie- there is not one aspect that I felt was ill-conceived or executed- and I am NOT a typical superhero movie lover. I can't even tell you the last superhero movie I saw- but Wonder Woman was just awesome. 

Enough about the movie. This post really isn't about that. This post is about my friends. You see, somehow on my wandering train of thought, the movie got me to thinking about real-life wonder women. I've got to believe that the main reason Wonder Woman (the movie) has been so popular since it debuted is because every woman wants to be her. And why not? She is a total badass.

But I started thinking about my friend group. I have such an interesting array of friends- some I've shared years of memories with. Some I've grown very close very quickly with. Others that I don't typically see eye to eye with yet we still need each other. And I realized just how many Wonder Women I get to be around, day by day.

I have a friend who prays so consistently for me that she will check in on me just to let me know she is still interceding for me- even after I've already given up on it and stopped even talking to God about it.

I have a friend who devotes at least half her week to pouring meaning and purpose (and food and other necessities) into kids who literally do not have any real understanding of family or unconditional love.

I have a friend who confronts conflict like it is something to be glared at, worked out, and once it's all over, smiled at with a "good game" pat on the back.

I have a friend who has witnessed friends betray her without apology, and yet she still persists in being genuine, graceful, and true to herself and Jesus.

I have a friend who chooses to hope and speak gospel truth in the face of infertility and purposefully loves on many kids each week (including my own).

I have a friend who isn't afraid to love a little girl that needs it- even though her foster daughter's future is still unknown.

I have a friend who isn't afraid to say "depression" or "anxiety"- no matter what uninformed misunderstandings it may bring (including my own- can we add forgiveness as another attribute as well?)

I have a friend who isn't afraid to leap- and change all of her life circumstances to do just what God has called her to do.

I have a friend who chooses to live uncomfortably- to raise her children in a new and different culture- just so that they might meet a few who need to have their lives changed forever.

Y'all, I could go on and on- the truth is, most of the incredible women I get to be around day in and day out are undeniably brave overcomers. They choose to do the good thing even when it's hard. And that is so stinking beautiful. 

Proverbs 31:17 (the Virtuous Woman passage) says: 

She girds herself with strength and makes her arms strong.

After seeing Wonder Woman, how appropriate is that?!? Regardless of the battles we are fighting, it takes a warrior to win the battle. It takes a Wonder Woman- and it doesn't take much to recognize how each friend is a Wonder Woman in her own right- every single day. 

Makes me thankful for my tribe of believing women- and more encouraged to continue to "gird myself with strength" in my own battles. What's so incredible is that the movie I watched tonight IS real, and is playing out right before our eyes. Yes, I do wish I had a cool sword, ridiculously gorgeous fishtail braided hair and a truth lasso (I mean, how amazing would that be to use on a 6 year old boy who loves to...shall we say...alter the truth?!?)- but I do have my own, very real weapon in the God whom I know goes to battle for me (Deut. 1:30). And, if you're a woman of faith, you do too. 

Thanks Wonder Woman. Maybe I'll braid my hair tomorrow.