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While I hope that we are mostly nearing the end of this season of quarantine and staying home, I thought it would be a fun opportunity to share a new What I’m Loving post. It’s been a hot minute since my last one, and taking a moment (or in this case, several days) to consider what we are currently enjoying is a good habit.
This time has been challenging for everyone for different reasons. Some are losing jobs, learning to manage both work and school at home, or for many essential workers, continuing to work in a now risky environment.
Still, even in the difficult times, there are always things that we can be thankful for, things that make our lives easier, and things that simply bring beauty and joy to the otherwise mundane.
This is my list of what I’m loving right now– for myself, for our kids, for our home, and on our table. I would also LOVE to hear what you are loving as well, so please share your list in the comments!
What I’m Loving :: Stay At Home Edition
For Me ::
Marco Polo app.
I’ve mentioned this a few times on Instagram stories, but using the Marco Polo app everyday with my friends has been so life-giving during this time of isolation. We miss getting together, but being able to send short video messages and communicate during the day is so much fun.
You can use this video messaging app with a group of friends or family, or just one person (I do both). Another great app for sending short audio messages is Voxer. Both can help you feel connected even while you stay home!
Simple Spring/Summer hair routine.
I get asked about my curly hair all the time, but I never really share a lot of details because I’m not an expert and definitely not a beauty/fashion blogger. I know that there is a good bit of the internet dedicated to curly hair, but since this is what I’M loving, I’m going to go ahead and share my very simple method.
For the past few years, I have worn my hair curly in the spring and summer, and straight in the fall and winter. Short reason is just that I tend to take more showers in the spring and summer, and can let my hair air dry without being cold.
Here’s the breakdown of what I do to achieve my “good-enough, busy-mom-life” curls:
- wash my hair with OGX shampoo and conditioner
- comb my hair out with a big comb under the shower
- flip hair upside down and apply 2 pumps of OGX mousse
- gently scrunch with a towel to get out excess moisture
- flip hair back to normal, spray with a little finishing mist, keep scrunching periodically while it air dries
Current mom uniform.
Joggers + t-shirts + shorts.
My daily mom uniform is even more basic right now since I’m just hanging out at home everyday. I’ve shared all of these clothing pieces before, but since I am living in each of them everyday, they’re worth repeating.
These Old Navy joggers are soooo comfy and my husband likes them too, which I feel like is definitely winning for what is essentially sweatpants. Comfy pants go on as soon as the kids go to bed, and as soon as I wake up to work early in the morning. (P.S. I love that these come in a tall size online. The fit is perfect).
T-shirts, everyday. Typically, I would try to branch out a bit and spruce up my outfits. But that’s really just not happening in this current situation. Y’all know I love all my Grins and Grace shirts (great designs, perfect fit, awesome quality). I also am eagerly awaiting two new shirts from the Bohemian Bluebird too.
And, lastly, now that the weather is a bit warmer, I’m wearing shorts most days as well. My favorites are from Academy Sports. (I know, that surprised me too). The length is great and (unlike Old Navy shorts I own) the pockets are deep enough to actually hold a thing or two. Plus, they come in several different spring/summer colors.
(Academy shorts are currently on sale, and be sure to follow Grins and Grace too because she also has a sale coming up)
I recently realized that all my spring sandals are Chacos. I used to be a little bit more diversified with some Birkenstocks or Tevas thrown in, but since I discovered Chacos leather sandals, I’m a one-stop-shopper.
I’ve had the middle style for years (just got a new pair this year, though, since someone spilled oil all over my other pair…grrrr). The strappy pair on the right I found a couple of years ago. I love them and wear them often, but this year I also wanted a pair of sandals that I could also easily slip on and off, hence the pair on the left.
(the leather styles are currently on sale!)
In case y’all didn’t think I was granola enough, yet, I just want to go ahead and toss out there that I’m also a huge fan of Kavu bags. I have the smaller style for everyday carry (the bright colors make me happy during the spring/summer), and the crossbody style for longer outings with my kids (zoo, hikes, etc).
For the Kids ::
New outdoor backpacks for the big boys.
My big boys got new outdoor backpacks last week and they couldn’t be more excited! Literally, they’ve been wearing them and practically sleeping with them since the bags arrived.
The packs (SOG Tactical Day Pack) are the perfect size and style for my outdoor-loving boys. They have lots of pockets and places for them to stash their gear, and have already been broken in on a few hikes.
Live readings from the Wingfeather books.
We had listened to the Wingfeather Saga a few times on Audible, so the story isn’t new to us, but we’ve really been enjoying watching Andrew Peterson’s live readings of the books during this season of staying home. We don’t usually get to tune in live, since its right at bedtime, but thankfully it’s really easy to watch the videos later when it’s more convenient.
If you’re not familiar with this series (it’s one of my most favorites), here’s a brief synopsis from the YouTube channel: Three ordinary kids must unlock the mystery of who they really are in order to stop the terrible Gnag the Nameless from destroying all of Aerwiar… With the humor and heart of The Princess Bride and the epic scope of The Lord of the Rings, The Wingfeather Saga is the story of one family on the run from a terrible evil — and the making of a hero.
Spring & summer wardrobe.
One of the best things I do every spring and summer is make sure my kids are stocked up on quick dry shirts and shorts. They are constantly getting wet in the yard, at the zoo, on hikes, etc. Wearing clothes that don’t stay wet and uncomfortable for long is good for them and helpful in that they don’t feel compelled to change clothes three times a day.
New chore chart.
To be honest, we haven’t been super consistent with our new chore chart– but we’re definitely working on it! I had the chart posted where everyone could easily see it and check off their tasks with a dry-erase marker, and that was working well…until my two-year-old decided that using the marker to write on the wall next to the chart would also be fun.
I’m considering where to put it next. Having it posted for the kids to see is ESSENTIAL to the tasks getting done, because part of the whole goal is to not need to micro-manage.
I created the chore chart using PicMonkey. I gave each child a row and used pictures to represent each tasks they were responsible for in the morning and evening.
Water guns and summer motto.
I have strong opinions about water guns. Basically, I want my kids to have them, without spending an arm and a leg buying them, or having them broken in the yard in a week.
This weekend I found these Nerf Super Soaker pistols for $5 at Target. Perfect! I trust the brand, like the size, and was able to get water guns for my kids for $21. (I bought a $1 gun for my youngest from the dollar spot).
We wrote our kids’ names on the guns and told them that these would be their guns for the summer. If they lost them, or wanted to upgrade to something bigger, they would need to use their money to purchase them.
My kids were really excited about the guns and spent a lot of time yesterday having “epic water battles”. If the bigger kids do decide to invest in bigger water guns, hopefully they will be “invested” enough to also take good care of them!
When I gave the kids their water guns, I also hung up a new letter board. We are trying to find a balance between not whining and getting upset about every little thing, and also not being the one who is antagonizing and bothering others.
As soon as the first upset kids began to trickle in, this little motto came to my mind. It’s probably going to be our summer mantra since the kids spend so much more time out of doors, relatively on their own.
School before outside || Our current daily rhythm.
I shared our daily rhythm a few weeks ago when I shared how to set up a rhythm and our favorite resources for all the new corona virus “homeschoolers”.
Now that the weather is nice and sunny most days, our afternoon learning time is often either hit or miss, or simply looks more like reading while my kids play in the yard or sit by the fire (more on that below).
This rhythm is working really well for us overall. I’m seeing some effects of being relatively cooped up on my kids, but all the extra time outdoors in the yard is one of the best things for them.
Learning Resources Activity Books.
Even though these cuisenaire rods have been in our math manipulatives box for a long time, we recently “rediscovered” them, and I’m so glad we did!
The kids are having a fun time building with them, and I’m using the Alphabet book with my kindergartener. She enjoys the manipulatives and it’s a great way to review letters and learn math concepts at the same time.
Our pattern blocks are also a huge hit whenever we pull them out too (which is much more regularly). I love the Melissa and Doug wooden puzzles for my younger kids, and the pages (which I laminated) from the Learning Resources Pattern Animals are more challenging for my older kids.
Pattern blocks are a great activity to keep hands and minds busy while you read aloud (or while you listen to the Wingfeather Saga!).
Weekly hikes & fishing.
Getting out once a week to hike and play in nature (other than our backyard) is a huge sanity saver for us right now. Typically, getting out to do things like this would happen two or three times a week, but for now while we are trying to stay home as much as possible, getting out for an afternoon is so helpful for our spirits.
We have been visiting a few different parks regularly. Our favorites are ones that are (1) not crowded, (2) have trails for walking, and (3) have water for fishing and playing.
I almost always share our picnic lunches in my Instagram stories, and I have a saved highlight with a ton of lunch inspiration too.
If you know us at all, you know that fishing is one of our family’s favorite pastimes. Even though it’s not my personal favorite way to spend an afternoon, it’s so obvious how restorative it is for my husband and kids, so we make regular outings a priority.
My husband and kids have made several fishing videos on our outdoor YouTube channel, MJ Adventuring. If you’re interested in getting started fishing with your kids, or just want to watch some fishing fun, you can check it out.
For the Home ::
Shark vacuum & steam mop.
It’s a little silly how much I love my vacuum cleaner, but after using one that I did NOT love for a few years, I’m just so happy about my new vacuum cleaner. It’s so versatile and easy to use, which is nice because I vacuum at least once a day.
After being so pleased with my Shark vacuum, I wanted to try out a Shark steam mop too. Unlike vacuuming, mopping isn’t something I tend to make a lot of time for, so I wanted something that would be both effective and VERY simple to use.
The Shark Genius steam mop is working really well. Just yesterday I mopped all of my hardwood floors and my kitchen and my floors are so clean! All I have to do is fill the canister with water, plug it in, and start mopping. Definitely recommend.
New metal bar stools.
I wanted to include a quick review of my new stools because I’ve also been asked about them several times recently too.
I swapped out our basic wooden stools for these metal stools with the hope that they would not only look better, but also be easier to clean.
We’ve had the stools for a couple of months and are also super happy with them!
New climbing dome.
When I realized that we would not be able to visit playgrounds at all this spring, I knew I wanted to add another fun, energy-expelling, element in our backyard. Even though the kids already spend a lot of time riding bikes, swinging, and playing our our playset, they have been so excited to have something new to play on.
I found ours at Costco, but I’m sharing a link to the same structure on Amazon because I don’t know that the climbing dome is still available at Costco.
Looootttssss of campfire cooking going on recently! My big boys can build a fire by themselves and love to cook meals over the fire. I’ve been trying to make it possible to have at least on meal out there a week, even better if we sit around after dinner and read together.
On MJ Adventuring (our family YouTube channel): How to Start a Fire without Matches || Campfire Cooking
On the Table ::
Sourdough baking routine.
I’m not going to share all about sourdough right now (already shared all.the.things in this How To Make Sourdough post!), except to say that I am definitely loving it! Feeding my starter, stirring together doughs before bed, and baking in the morning have just become part of my daily routine.
I shared my sourdough baking plan in my Instagram stories, as well as how much I’m loving the cookbook Artisan Sourdough Made Simple (which is currently just .99 for the Kindle version right now!).
So far, I’ve made the Everyday Loaf, English muffins, the multigrain boule, soft share and tear rolls, and maybe a couple others successfully from this cookbook.
Easy Skillet Pasta Carbonara.
I’m including this recipe for skillet chicken carbonara just because we can’t seem to get enough. It’s sooooo delicious and super easy to make!
All things cast iron.
Again, I’m just including this because I’ve seen so many people recently asking about cast iron– whether it’s worth it, how to care for it, recipes, etc.
We cook on cast iron every day, usually multiple times a day. We have various pans and griddles in different sizes that come in handy for all kinds of recipes.
If you want to learn more about cooking with cast iron, check out: 15 Things You Need to Know About Cooking with Cast Iron.
What We’re Reading
Evening family read-aloud: Betsy Tacy series (such a sweet, fun series)
Husband: Hubs just finished listening to a few books on Audible (he’s been listening to books much more recently and really enjoying it)– Where the Crawdads Sing, The End is Always Near, Fellowship of the Ring. In print, he’s been reading through Wilderness Essays by John Muir.
8 Year Old: The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis (for school),
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