Friday Favorites

AAAAHHHHH!!!

The LAST official day of summer in our house is happening today!  And I've got all the feels about it.  To brighten my day {and hopefully yours} my girls, Narci and Andrea, and I have teamed up again for Friday Favorites!


THESE FOUR
I really could sum up my Friday Favorites of summer with this one picture.  As crazy as they drove me at times, my very favorite thing about summer was hanging out with these four.  And Bowen, when your mom takes two pics and your eyes are closed in both she's got no choice but to post one.  #thebestoftwo



KODIAK CAKES' PRODUCTS
Okay, girls...the verdict is IN!
I've seen a ton of bloggers, social media people, etc. share about making Kodiak Cakes.  I believe the company started out primarily as a 100% whole grain pancake/waffle mix packed with protein, vitamins, and other things that are good for us.  Now they have muffin mix, frozen waffles, and Kodiak cups.  I found the waffles at Tom Thumb a while back and we've been eating those for a while.  My favorite way is with a little peanut butter and strawberry jam.  A few weeks ago I stumbled upon the Kodiak cups.  You just add a little water, microwave it for a few minutes, and voila-instant breakfast.  I tried three different flavors...cinnamon, blueberry, and vanilla.  Hands-down the cinnamon was my favorite.  I prefer a warm breakfast but am typically too lazy to make it and the thought of getting my clean kitchen dirty by 7:00 a.m. always deters me.  So, I'll be stocking our pantry with these!  I had lots of people tell me they feed these to their kiddos and they think they're getting to eat cake for breakfast.  WIN-WIN!  They're gonna be a new FAVORITE breakfast this week!  {I found the Kodiak cups at Target.}


CRAZY RICH ASIANS
Crazy Rich Asians-the MOVIE was just released.  I went earlier this week to watch it in the theater with some friends and it was SO GOOD!  If you've read the book, I highly recommend checking out the movie!  And even if you never read the book, this is a CUTE girly movie you'll enjoy!


MY SUMMER READS


EXFOLIATING ROUNDS
I got asked about what I use to apply my toner.  {I shared a new favorite toner with you guys and several of you shared one you love.  You should read it!}  These are the exfoliating cotton rounds I use...just from Target.  One side is soft and the other has a more exfoliating surface.  I dab some toner onto the soft side and apply it to my entire face and then I flip the pad over and swipe over my face with the exfoliating side.  I've used a variety of things from cotton ball on and these are my favorites.


TWINNING
And one of my favorite moments this week was showing up to church twinning with this girl.  Jackets {because Sheaffer told us to}, romper {mine is sold out, but I got it here}, and Barrington bags.  :)

Now I'm off to soak up every last minute of summer fun we can have today.

See you Monday!
XO


We Summered HARD!

As we soak up our last few days of summer 2018, I thought I'd recap all the fun we had.

Gotta be honest, we summered hard this year and made some amazing memories!

Bowen played his first season of indoor soccer.  He was a fan, but he's excited to give flag football a try this fall.

We enjoyed many days and nights in the pool.

 We got to honor our favorite on Father's Day!


Nixon {on left} played flag football all summer and even shared the field with younger brother, Bowen, when his team was short on players.


Many days were spent poolside with friends.

And I sneaked away for a girl's night out.

These sisters played hard all summer long.



This guy and I escaped for a date night to celebrate 13 years.


Summer, you've been so good to us.  We'll catch you next year!
XO

Spotlight On-Toner

Okay, Ladies...we're talking another product today!

I started this series, Spotlight On, a couple weeks ago, where I highlight a product.  Some I'll love, some I won't, and some I'll feel a little "blah" about.  But I promise to give you all my true thoughts.  I hope you'll share yours too!  You can read all about my first product review here.

Let's talk TONERS.  {More specifically, this Fresh Rose Deep Hydration Toner}

I've gotta be honest ten years ago I don't think I'd ever even heard of the word, "toner".  And I for sure didn't know why people used it.  #truth

If you're wondering the same thing, no worries!  I've been there.  :)


Wikipedia explains toner as "a lotion or wash designed to cleanse the skin and shrink the appearance of pores."

When I joined Rodan and Fields years ago, I quickly learned how important toner is.  It's typically used after cleanser on clean, dry skin and before you apply any moisturizer or serums.  It's meant to prepare your skin and can be refreshing and moisturizing.

I've mentioned the Thayers Alcohol Free Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner before.  It's a GREAT price point and if you're looking to take a tiny leap into the toner world, then I'd recommend you giving this one a try.  However, I couldn't tell a big difference when I used this product.  I'm sure it helped and I used it to the very last drop {so it's not like I wasn't a fan}.  But when I ran out, I wanted to give something else a try.  I bought this Fresh Rose Deep Hydration Facial Toner and can tell a difference.

First of all, the smell is AMAZING!  {Have we discussed how hardcore my sense of smell is?  If not, we should talk about that in a post all of it's own.}  There are real rose petals floating around inside the bottle and the smell is great!

This toner leaves my face feeling so fresh, so clean, and hydrated.  My skin even tingles a bit after I use it...it's a good tingle, not a bad one.  I use it both morning and night after cleansing my skin and before my moisturizer.

I'm telling you friends, this toner is a good one!

If you've tried either of these toners, please share your thoughts!  And if you have a product you'd like to recommend, please share that too!

Thanks so much, friends!
XO

My Summer Reads

This is SO me!  I love to read!

As busy moms and wives, I know it's so hard to find time to make reading happen in our everyday lives.  Typically, every evening I take a bath and read.  It's my twenty minutes of quiet in the midst of the chaos around our house.

This summer I was able to sneak in lots of other reading time...at the pool, on a road trip, at the beach, etc...but I know that extra time is coming to an end.  

Several of my blogger friends AND real-life friends have great book reviews each month.  Most of these recommendations came from them...Shay, Narci, or Amanda.  {Thanks to these girls, I've avoided the books they read and weren't big fans of.}  I also love getting book ideas from YOU!  And I've been known to scour Pinterest in search of great "Must-Read Lists".  #ialwaysfallforthose

Today, I'm sharing a little round-up of all my summer reads.  I'll be sure to highlight at the bottom of the post a few book awards so if you're a reader, read all the way to the bottom.  I've gotta say-I read some GOOD books this summer!

This book is one of those books that will stick with me for years.  It's a memoir written by Ruth who grew up in a polygamist family, the thirty-ninth child of her father.  She details her tough life growing up in poverty, amidst abuse, and always hoping for a better future. 

 This novel begins with a plane crash and two lone survivors on a deserted island.  I don't want to give much a way, but that's the premise.  Holy Cow!  The entire time I read I kept thinking, "WHAT WOULD I DO?".  This is a great one!

I've been slowly making my way through the Redemption Series by Karen Kingsbury.  The Baxter family has my heart and if you're looking for a good read...you should start this series ASAP!

When the father passes away, he includes a clause in his will stating that all three of his daughters must spend the summer together at his Nantucket house in order for them to inherit the property.  We get to see a summer full of girl drama and then their mothers {all girls have different moms} join the fun.  Even more drama! Super cute chick-lit book!


In this novel, the main character, Belle, works on Wall Street and attempts to juggle her life as full time executive plus mom, along with house keeper and all the other things.  The year is 2008 and the economy is about to take a big hit...you get to watch it all unfold.  I'm a big fan of any book that takes place in NYC and this one didn't disappoint.


Have you guys listened to The Happy Hour Podcast with Jamie Ivey?  I've listened to quite a few, but just didn't know many details about Jamie's life.  In this book, she lays it out all.  She shares her testimony and how all the mishaps brought her to where she is today...fully free in her relationship with Christ.


This book begins in Paris, in the middle of World War I, Sophie is trying to hold it all together while her husband is off at war.  A German officer spots a painting by her husband and an obsession is born.  Then the novel switches to modern day when the same painting is involved in a feud.  The new owner, Liv, is then hit with one twist after another.  


I got this book off one of those "Must Read Lists" not knowing it was considered "young adult fiction".  I actually really liked this one...Jessie and her dad uproot themselves to move halfway across the country to move in with her dad's new wife and step-brother.  Jessie is now thrown into a new school and is required to make all new friends as a junior in high school.  Anonymously, she starts getting text messages from someone at her new school giving her lots of helpful hints about who to befriend, what teachers to avoid, etc.  Throughout the book, we're left wondering WHO is this anonymous friend and the end sums it up so well!


Ella, an American, begins her year studying at Oxford only to be faced with a huge decision...go back to fulfill her political dreams or stay.  {Don't want to give too much away!!}  This was a chick-lit book meets twists and turns...I didn't see it coming!


Alexa agrees to be "the wedding date" of a guy she just met on an elevator.  They end up having a great time together and find themselves long distance dating.  Cute romance, but VERY rated R.  {You've been warned.}


An amazing thriller that will leave you guessing throughout the ENTIRE story!  These types of books are some of my very faves and this one is GOOD!


Unlike the "young adult fiction" above, this one was a bit rated, "R", in my opinion for teens and young adults.  It's all about an unlikely relationship between Eleanor and Park that begins on a school bus.  They come from very different families {makes me so sad about some of the things kids have to deal with at home} and are destined to be together.


This book hit close to home on so many levels...growing up in a rural Chinese village a young mom gets pregnant out of wedlock and is forced to leave her child on the orphanage steps.  Years go by and we follow both the mom and the Chinese daughter.  I'm telling you...it's a good one and touched my heart in so many ways.

And I'm in the middle of reading this one right now...100% chick-lit at it's finest so far.


Okay, in no particular order...

BEST CHICK-LIT BOOK award goes to-My Oxford Year

BEST BOOK THAT WILL STAY WITH ME FOR YEARS award goes to-The Sound of Gravel

BEST THRILLER award goes to-The Wife Between Us

BEST TOUCHED MY HEART award goes to-The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

BEST OVERALL BOOK award goes to-Castle of Water


Now it's YOUR turn.  Do you have any awards you'd like to give out to any of your summer reads?  If so, please share!

Thanks for stopping by today, friends!
XO

We're BACK!

Hi Everyone!

We're back from our last little summer getaway.  We're gearing up for the very LAST WEEK of SUMMER around here by doing all the things...and by that, I mean sleeping in WAY late and going to bed well past our school bedtimes.  ;)

A couple quick things before I get started...

*We're working on a new look for this little blog.  We're working out a few kinks, so please be patient but hopefully the final project will be finished soon.

*The winner of the Peacock Paper Planner is sassy_natty on Instagram.  We'll be messaging you this morning, so please be on the look out, sassy_natty.  CONGRATULATIONS!  Remember, if you didn't win, you can still purchase a planner.  I was giddy yesterday afternoon filling mine in!

*If your crew has already started school, I hope you guys are off to a great start!

Last week, we took a last little summer trip with the Shull crew to the JW Marriott in San Antonio.  This resort has it's own little water park, lots of fun things to do, and great restaurants.  {Can you say, "chicken and waffles"?}  I really "unplugged" and only took a few pictures the entire three days.  Can you spot those two eight-year-olds who "doubled-up" on tubes?
#boys

I'm telling you it was the perfect way to send off summer and get geared up for another school year.

I stole this one from Shay {thank you, friend} because I'm telling you-I lacked majorly in the picture taking last week.  We had the best time with this crew!  And are now officially ready for the new school year!

Now, I'm off to get caught up on all the laundry!
XO

One More Hurrah!

Happy Thursday!

We are off for one last little adventure before school starts in a week and a half.  I'm taking today and tomorrow off to really soak up all the family time.  I'll be back here on Monday!

Have a great weekend!
XO

How We...Pack Lunches

 Hey, Hey Everyone!

Time for How We Wednesday with Erika and Shay!  Each month, we highlight HOW WE do something and we hope you'll share HOW YOU do something.  The goal is for us all to learn a little from each other.

Today, we're talking about packing lunches!

At the beginning of the year, I'd give myself "ROCKSTAR" status for my lunches.  They're nothing super fancy, but a sandwich or roll-up paired with something salty, a yogurt, fruit, and drink.  But by the time May rolls around...this is me.

Anyone else feel me?

One thing I've learned since having kids in school is pack what they'll eat.  Nixon is my super picky, would prefer to eat junk food 24/7 kind of kid.  Almost his entire kindergarten year I packed him fruit thinking maybe he'd get hungry enough to eat it.  Did he ever?  NO!  So now I pack what I know my kids will eat.  And that looks very different for each of my kiddos.

Ebby Lee prefers a variety of food in a Yumbox...her perfect lunch would be a turkey and cheese sandwich, with chips and salsa, strawberries, and a yogurt.

Nixon would prefer a Lunchable or Uncrustable, chip bags, and some sort of sweet treat.  #keepingitreal

Bowen is EASY!  He'll pretty much eat what I send him and typically asks me {VERY NICELY} to not send something again if he's not a fan.

Britt is going to be very different.  I think I've mentioned before she prefers a carb and dairy diet {don't we all?  ha!}.  My plan for her is to pack mac-and-cheese or some kind of noodles.

My two big kids helped me pack their lunches every day.  And I did a big ole happy dance if they ever asked to eat in the cafeteria because NO PACKING!  ;)

If you're looking for some good lunch inspirations, check out this post.

And if you have any great lunch ideas, please share them in the comments!  

Bloggers, please join us next month when we share about How We...FALL!


Bringing Home Britt Post Adoption Update-15 Months

My last Britt update was on the one year celebration of her Gotcha Day, which was three months ago and a lot has changed.  She's continuing to blossom, grow, and her vocabulary is slowly growing!

We started with a new speech therapist at the end of the school year and to be honest, due to both her schedule and ours we've only been to see her about twice this summer.  I think it's a combination of her hard work and her age, but she's started talking more.  Prior to summer it was really hard to get her to say something.  She wouldn't really mimic, but that's changed a lot.  Britt does the best mimicking with Ebby Lee.  {Maybe it's a sister thing?}  Ebby Lee can get her to say the most words hands-down.  A few of her latest...cold, home, May-May {for Madeley}, M, G, ball, and she's had words like hot, up, Mama, Dada, for a while.  I'd say we're seeing HUGE improvements in speech.  I have no doubts one day she's gonna wake up and begin rattling off paragraphs.

Britt is a fan of all her siblings but she prefers sleeping with Nixon every night.  {and it drives Ebby Lee crazy!}  At the beginning of summer, she really wanted to sleep with the big kids so it's been happening all summer long.  I'm not sure how it'll be when school starts in a few weeks but we'll see!  She still naps in her own bed every afternoon.  If we're on vacation, she's so good about laying down to take a nap wherever she can.  I must say she knows Bowen is just a step above her on the food chain so she definitely lets her "spicy" side show the most when she's dealing with Bowen.

I held off sending her to preschool last year, but this year is her turn!  She'll be in a two-year-old class with other kiddos her age and I know the beginning will be an adjustment but then she'll love it!  She starts a couple weeks after the big kiddos start.  And just like that...she went from baby to now a toddler on the verge of earning the "preschooler" title.  

I know I say this all the time, but adoption is amazing.  There's no other way to describe it.  If you've been on the fence about adoption, I pray that you take the next steps to learn more.  Do some research, call some agencies, and get some of your questions answered.  You won't regret it.  I know our family never will.  #wecouldhavemissedthis

If you missed any of my adoption posts, you can find them...

Bringing Home Britt Posts...

Adoption Questions Answered...

Post Adoption Updates...

Thanks so much for reading today!
XO

Back to School

What about YOU?!

Every year I like to do a little Back-to-School post for two reasons...

1.  To be helpful and remind you of anything you might need to order or get ready before the first day.

2.  To remind MYSELF of all the things before the first day.  :)

It's about this time every year in the summer when I am full of mixed emotions...partly sad about bedtimes, more structure, early wake-ups, lunches, and just being away so many hours every day, but the other part of me is like...
 You guys know what I mean.  Right?

I'm gonna highlight my Back-to-School shopping just to make sure we haven't missed anything...

BACKPACKS
I think I've shared before that Ebby Lee's kindergarten year I waited too late to order her backpack and ended up paying a ridiculous amount for expedited shipping.  Now, we order our backpacks mid-summer to ensure they'll be here for the beginning of school.  Ebby Lee and Britt {who's going to preschool this year-EEK!} ordered their backpacks from Pottery Barn Kids.  The boys asked for Under Armour backpacks.  {Britt's backpack is pictured above...isn't it cute?!}



BACK-TO-SCHOOL CLOTHES
Here in Texas the weather stays nice and warm until mid-October.  I don't do much back-to-school shopping to prepare them for school in August, because mostly they're wearing summer clothes for several more months.  We typically buy one new outfit for the first day and then when the temperatures cool off I buy them new clothes.

Our favorite places to shop for back-to-school clothes are Matilda Jane {for Ebby Lee and Britt}, Nordstrom {for everyone}, Under Armour {for Nixon and Bowen}, Gap, and Old Navy {for everyone as well}.

BACK-TO-SCHOOL SHOES
We always start school with a new pair of tennis shoes for everyone.  At our elementary school, you must wear tennis shoes on p.e. days so all three of my big kiddos got a new pair for the new year.

PLANNER
I always start the new school year off highly organized, every meal planned, each kiddos' practices written in their own color, etc.  It's a good thing I start out that way because by the time May arrives I've lost all my organizational abilities.  :)  #startstrong

Kelsey from Peacock Paper and Gifts reached out to me and sent me two of her planners to review and when they arrived I was EEEEKKKK-SO EXCITED!

You can hop over to her website to see all three cover options...blush gingham, navy dot, and black and white stripe.  The planners come in either a daily or weekly layout.

 A look at the "daily" option.

And this is how the "weekly" option looks.

Both planner options have sections for meal planning, healthy checks, goals, notes, weekly budgeting and more.  Kelsey and her team really have thought of everything.  

My pick-The daily planner was much larger and wouldn't fit into my purse as easily {when I carry one-ha!} as the weekly planner.  Also, most of my to-dos don't require me to get super detailed every hour, but if your schedule does then the daily planner would be perfect for you.  I prefer the weekly planner and am looking forward to filling it all in with our life.

Kelsey is so sweet and has offered you guys 10% off with the code, "ERIKA10", at checkout.  These planners are already priced REALLY WELL, so this is a GREAT DEAL!  If you're in the market for a planner, give Peacock Paper Planners a try!

Also, today I'll be posting a little video of my planner on Instagram.  And we have a GIVEAWAY...Kelsey is giving away THREE PLANNERS!  Head over to my account {slaughteren}, follow Kelsey, and comment by tagging two friends you'd share your new planners with.  We'll announce the winners next Monday!  Thank you, Kelsey!

 BACK-TO-SCHOOL WATER BOTTLES
You guys remember earlier this summer when I tried to give Nixon a "sippy cup" to take to sports camp?  haha!  That will not be the case now!  The boys asked for Under Armour water bottles while Ebby Lee opted for her Swell bottle.

And after all that, this is me.  :)

HAHAHAHA!!

Then invite some girlfriends and enjoy a nice long brunch on the first day of school.  You'll be so glad you did.  Trust me.  ;)

 Don't forget...Shay and I will be sharing our lunch ideas on Wednesday!  Hope you join us!

XO