Summer Series Week 2: Front Landscaping

Front Landscaping

Raised Bed Gardening with Kids Summer Series 2016So second week into a blog post series and I am already going to deviate from my title.  Yikes!  But with not much going on and it being planting season I thought I would share what we are working on as well as ask for YOUR help!

Week 2 Garden Photo


Obligatory weekly photo of the garden.  The grass seems to be the only thing showing real growth!  Ha!  I hope our lawn guy, Jason, comes soon!


Knock Out Roses  But the real reason for the landscaping post… I have been talking about my front landscaping, and my dislike for the lack there of, for years now.  Two years ago I was given some gorgeous hydrangeas and planted them under our dining room window.  But the western sun has proved to be to direct on them once summer hits.  I am all about low maintenance and had read about how knockout roses were tolerant of the direct sun.  So last week after a trip to the nursery with grandma the kids came home with roses for me!  I was excited!  Front Landscaping

But here is my question for you… Where do I move the hydrangeas to?  I want to save them but they need shade.  My two choices are:  1) Under my office window (left part of the house in this photo)

2)Or in the backyard along the back fence where my peonies are.

My first thought was #2 since I really wanted uniformity all along the front of the house. BUT I will risk killing my favorite flower, the peonies, if I replant now (just as they are about to bloom.)

Your recommendations are appreciated!!!


Last year I got a old fashioned (looking) mailbox for my birthday!  We will make it pretty with some annuals this year.

RocksAnd next week I will blog about a garden project with these rocks.  Can you guess what we are painting them for?

Raised Bed Gardens with Kids

Gardening with Kids

Raised Bed Gardens with Kids



















So how is life with four kids now you ask?  Well… honestly, it’s crazy.  Crazy good!  I don’t have much time to be bored these days.  That is a fact!!  But we do need something productive for all the busy hands to do over the summer and I figure we can get a little science done outdoors :)

Gardening with Kids

Over the weekend we prepared our garden.  This is our fourth? year with the raised beds.  In addition to the raised beds we also have strawberries (you can see a corner of the strawberry patch on the right side of this photo), pumpkins, sunflowers, and watermelon that are planted straight into the ground.

I had an idea to use cattle panels in an arch shape from one bed to the next to trellis the vine plants.  Part of this idea was practical to get the vines up off the ground… but the main reason was to create a fun tunnel space for the kids to play in.  :)

Gardening with Kids

See?  It’s going to be FUN!

Gardening with Kids

We did actually have to get some work done though.  This year we planted (8) slicing tomato plants, (4) cherry tomato plants, and several bell and banana peppers.

Gardening with Kids

Gardening has been a great way to get some hands on work for the kids.  I grew up on a small ranch and one of my parenting goals is to bring as much of that experience to our family as possible even though we live in town.

Gardening with Kids

This is how the garden looked at the end of the day.  Not too impressive.  But we are very excited to water the plants, weed the garden as necessary, and eat the products of our hard work!

I will try to post a few photos each Monday of what we have been doing in the garden and you can follow along to see it grow!  Happy Spring!








Happy New Year 2016! {a printable for kids}

New Year Printable for Kids

How is it the New Year already?!?!?!!!

I’m working on planning and goal setting for 2016 this week and thought the kids should give it a try this year too!  Goal setting is such an important life skill. When things get planned, they get DONE!  So with that in mind I made up a printable for our kids to write out a few thoughts for the New Year.

New Year Printable for Kids

PDF download here

How are you celebrating tonight?  We are having hot chocolate, popcorn and movie night up  until it’s time for the ball to drop :)   All the best to you and yours in the New Year!  XO

A Caroline American Girl Tea Party


An American Girl Tea Party with CarolineBirthdays in our house are a big deal and once you turn five you get to have your own separate party just for friends. This year our daughter asked for an American Girl birthday party. Caroline is currently the only American Girl doll we own and so of course she was the guest of honor at the afternoon tea.

Tea Party CookiesWhenever possible I try to intertwine learning and fun and this opportunity to add history to a tea party was perfect.

2.First off we made our own invitations from a website download. I have photoshop so I went ahead and added the text to the invites so I wouldn’t have to hand write each one out. Then we made our own tea bag tags that read, “bring your favorite doll” to let the girls know that their dolls were invited too.

Setting the table for the tea party



Our family doesn’t get too fancy very often so we went all out for the occasion with the china and crystal. We had a centerpiece of  flowers and then the rest of the table was scattered with a variety of tea bags for the girls to choose from. We had peppermint (by far the favorite!), peach, and orange and set out for them to choose from.

Quill PenWhen the guests started to arrive we had a quill pen for them to try out. We had a real feather on hand and tried attaching a calligraphy tip but it didn’t stay on at all. Quickly I removed the tip and just let the girls sign their name with the end of the feather even though it hadn’t been shaped. If you have a feather and some time you can see how you can DIY a quill pen here. And if Amazon is easier for you- here is  a set ready to go! (I wish I had ordered this instead!)

Making Poke BonnetsAfter getting the party hats on the dolls that were laid out on the sign in table the girls chose a chair at the dining room table and left their dolls to hold their place. We then had a poke bonnet station where they could add ribbon and flowers to their hats. The poke bonnets would have been an accurate styling for the time period of 1812 and would have been adorned in a similar way. The girls had a ball adding their own touches to their hats!!

Hand Fans at Tea PartyHand FansOnce the hats were complete they made their way to their seats at the table and picked up the hand fans. We had a simple print out beside each place setting that talked about the language of the hand fan and the girls practiced sending messages to one another with their fans.

Tea Party MenuOur lunch menu was very simple. Lemonade, sandwiches, fruit, cookies, and of course tea! The teapot was a last minute (nearly overlooked) purchase from a local flea market. It is a Lennox real porcelain tea pot (not a toy) -(similar) and something that our daughter can keep and use for many years to come. It is small… only filling three or four cups at a time… but the perfect size for young girls to manage on their own.

Beginner EmbrioderyAfter lunch was time for handiwork and embroidery would have been a popular craft for Caroline in the early 1800′s. I had purchased bulk tea towels, patterns, Wood Embroidery Hoops,  needles and thread. The towels had been pre-washed and prepped with the iron on patterns. I however did not pre-thread the needles and in hind sight should have because I had 12 girls all coming to me at once needing help threading their needles.

Embroidery WorkOnce they got going they were self sufficient. Each guest took her embroidery projects home, along with their hats and fans, as a party favor.

American Girl BirthdayBut before the party was over they set their work aside and sat around the Christmas tree and played with their dolls. I overheard some stories they were telling but tried to stay back in the kitchen and let them enjoy some time to themselves.

All in all I think the historical tea party was a success! Our daughter had a wonderful time and that was the main purpose. Her friends also had a good time and hopefully learned something new to possibly spark an interest in Caroline and the War of 1812. I have to admit that I was leery of American Girl and all the advertising hype that surrounds them. But after reading Caroline’s Series and seeing how well it truly represented the historical period… I am sold on them. There are even unit studies that have been compiled to help you teach history through them available as down loadable units on the web!

War of 1812 Pinterest BoardIf you want to see my pins for a unit study on the War of 1812 here is my board.  I am planning on working Caroline as well as the other series’ studies into our home-school history starting this spring semester with Felicity since we are studying the American Revolution! I can’t wait to blog these for you as well!

Enjoying Mass with Kids: What’s in our Mass Bag


Going to Mass with kids. Oh my how I used to dread it. I remember wondering how I was supposed to be paying attention when all of my attention was focused on keeping a child quiet and behaved. And I laugh now because that was back when we had one child, who also was our quiet well-behaved one. If I only knew what was to come with boys in church!

So here are my Five Simple Ways to Enjoy Mass with Kids

1) Sit in front. I know this sounds crazy. But. It. Works. When the kids can’t see anything but the backs of the heads in front of them they will immediately lose interest and you have no chance of them gaining anything. We don’t always sit in front (it is not hubby’s favorite place, lol!) but the kids request to sit there and I encourage them ;)

2) Establish expectations.

Babies under a year: Nurse/Feed your them right before Mass and they will sleep right through. I use my Sakura Bloom Ring Sling (similar) and baby wear to ensure that baby is cozy and happy.

Busy toddlers*: Give them free reign to quietly play/roam the pew. A sippy with water and a snack cup of cheerios are a great distraction and can help quiet a talkative mouth.

Young children (ages 4-6): Should be able to sit and/or play quietly. Participation is expected when standing and kneeling.

Older children (age 7 and up): Should be paying attention and fully participating in Mass.

*The toddler age has proved to be the most challenging for us and we will take a disruptive child out the side isle to the back when necessary. It is important to remember that when taking a child to the back of the church/cry room that you cannot treat it as a reward. We hold the child until they calm/quiet down and do not let them down to play. It won’t take long for the child to realize that there is more freedom to be quiet in the pew than to be held in the back.

3) Have a family seating arrangement. Once you have more than one child a seating strategy becomes useful. If you are sitting near the front try to get a seat near the side isle so you can leave discretely if necessary. Know your children and place those together that help one another and separate the ones that tend to not get along well. This likely means that you and your husband will not sit side by side and will be seated amongst the children. We sit in the same order each Mass and have (mostly) good luck with the following: (daddy, 8 year old, 22 month old, mama, and 4 year old.)

4) Prepare a Mass Bag. What's in our Mass Bag

This is my secret to getting through Mass with kids and enjoying it. And it only took me 7 years to figure it out… so please take my advice and do not delay putting one together for your family!

I took a handbag that I wasn’t using and made it the dedicated bag to take to Mass. We ONLY get it out for weekend Mass and the kids know that they are not to use any of the contents at any other time without asking. (This is important because you want the books and toys to be “new” and interesting.)


Our favorite book is the The Busy Bible, a quiet book that covers Creation, Noah’s Ark, The Pillar of Salt, Joseph’s Coat of Many Colors, Baby Moses, Ruth, King Solomon, Jonah, The Birth of Jesus, Fishing for Men, The Good Samaritan, and Dorcas. We have had this quiet book for about six months now and it is still the #1 thing they reach for in the Mass bag. I am looking for another variation of this because I can tell the new is wearing off and plan to use them on rotation to keep things fresh. This one is worth the investment!


Can You Find Jesus? Introducing Your Child to the Gospel (Search & Learn Books)is a great book for your young child. It is a search and learn book (Where’s Waldo style) that covers the Gospels.

Celebrating Mass (St. Joseph Board Books) is a nice toddler book to help them relate to what they are experiencing. I also have my eye on The Story of Christmas and The Story of Easter to add to our bag seasonally.

Baby’s First Bible: A CarryAlong Treasury A Bible with lovely illustrations.

J1 J2 J3 J4

Jonah and the Whale (A Chunky Book(R)) A huge hit with toddlers and young children alike. We love the small size and they love the lift flaps. I seriously have all of the other board books in this set on my Amazon wish list.

Craft Stick Picture Puzzles. You can make some at home! My tutorial was featured on the Catholic Sistas blog and you can read it here.

My Daily Bread A great small book with ‘real’ pages that a small child can be deferred to when they want the missal in the pew.


Catholic Icing’s “A Picture Book of the Mass” I cannot recommend this book highly enough. First of all it is put together by a blogger whom we follow and love, Lacy Rabideau. Lacy has done an exceptional job with the artwork and layout of this children’s missal. We gave this as a first communion gift to our daughter and it has helped her immensely to follow along in Mass. We recently had it laminated and coil bound at our local print shop and recommend doing so for longevity.

Rosaries. We like the My First Rosary -20.5″ Large Bead Wood which are great for sensory play as well as learning to follow along during prayer.

Saint Dolls are a huge part of our life and we love learning about the lives of Holy people… and truth be told, sometimes, HotWheels. Because boys will be boys. I am ok with them as long as they are quiet.

We also have the necessities because I do not also carry a purse or diaper bag. Inside of the zippered compartments I have: hand sanitizer, travel kleenex, a few one dollar bills for the kids to put in the offering. And also a ziplock of diapers and wipes thrown in the main compartment.

5) Enjoy Mass. Sing, read along, pray. Be the example that these precious souls need to experience Him on their own. Because our example is the lead that they will follow.  And in the end their relationship with Christ is all that matters.

Tell me, what is in your Mass Bag? Do you have any great book recommendations?

Please share! XO

PS- I am using Amazon affiliate links now on this website!  Thank you for using them!  I hope to share many books and things that we use and love at home with you this way.  You receive the same great Amazon pricing and our family thanks you for your support!


Nine years. It’s our anniversary today! We got married on a Friday the thirteenth and am feeling like today is more like the “Friday” than the one when we were married.

Happy Anniversary

The FLU is here. Vomit is never welcome in our home but I feel especially exasperated when it arrives when I am pregnant. Thank the Lord that I am not sick (yet). I have been queasy for the past three days and although I should not have any morning sickness at 23 weeks it is hard to determine if it is pregnancy related, if I have a touch of the flu, or if my surroundings are messing with my head.

Vic and I had agreed to do something fun tonight. I saw that the movie War Room was playing at our local theater and suggested we see it and go out for dinner. We were kind of excited since we haven’t been to a movie since October Baby! But today, a quick dinner at home in between my loads of laundry will have to suffice… and hopefully a rain check movie date soon!


So, is it a happy anniversary? Yes, I would have to say, indeed it is! I have a wonderful husband, children to care for and love on, and a washing machine to take care of the messes. I am beyond blessed!

PS- While I was typing this a surprise arrived! A cake from my favorite bakery!!!!! (From our dear daughter.) I was totally surprised and she has no idea how much that surprise just made my day!

Anniversary Cake

How is your October going? Have you been able to enjoy this beautiful weather?


Oh Baby!


I’m blogging again and as my motherly nesting instincts set in so comes the urgency to write. Yes! We are pregnant with baby #4 and are due in early February!!


Pregnancy such a gift and it becomes even more so each time. This pregnancy has been easy on me so far. The first trimester was sluggish (although I don’t know any other way at this point) and came with lots of food aversions, mainly in the form of meat. We are now nearing week 18 and I am feeling the usual urge to sort, file, and organize everything in sight. I dearly wish that I could have this same gumption when not pregnant!!

I have a few things in the works for this fall and many many blog posts to write that have been spinning in my head for some time now. God keeps calling me to be more bold in my faith and to share it. This past summer I was stunned with the news of SCOTUS and everything happening with Planned Parenthood to the point of being speechless. After considerable amounts of prayer I continue to feel that He is calling me to bear witness and to share my faith and how we live our faith as a family at home in hopes to help others do the same.

I hope you all have been well… I have missed writing here dearly! Is there anything new in your corner of the world?

XO Janalin

Christians UNITE for Marriage!

Christians Unite for Marriage

Christians Unite for MarriageMy hand is out reached to you today. I am Catholic. You might be Baptist, Methodist, or Presbyterian. But we are Christians. You see, my heart is heavy and you might know why. Ever since the SCOTUS ruling last Friday I find myself with a weight on my heart. Worrying and wondering about the divisions of this great nation.

Our silence and acceptance has brought us to this point. These fundamental changes in our country’s laws will open up an anti-Christian culture. Morality will continue to decline. Our children will be at risk to the sexually empowered environment they will be surrounded by. Use your voice and your example to stand for His truth. Encourage traditional marriage. Let not our generation be the one that fell silent to sin. Because one day we each will answer the question, “What have you done for my kingdom, good and faithful servant?”

We must bridge together and face the opposition united. Now more than ever we need one another! Denominations are our biggest flaw. Let us come together as brothers and sisters in Christ with the utmost love and compassion to proclaim His truth. Hallelujah, He is King!!!

What denomination are you?

Where do your friends call their church home?

How can we do a better job of working together?

Blessings! xo Janalin

Love Perseveres


LovePerseveresI don’t remember the day I quit feeling butterflies when I heard your voice… But I do remember the day when I questioned where they went.

All sorts of questions… Was I still “in love?” …. Did I marry “the one?”

The truth was I had fallen in love with the idea of you. And then years later- both of us worn down, raw and exposed- didn’t look so ideal.

But with that scrutiny I was selfish, immature and ignorant to true love.  Because “[Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:8)

What I have learned since is that falling in love is followed by a choice. A choice to walk together in love. It’s a choice we have to make everyday. Real love is what God teaches us and calls us to live. “He first loved us” (1 John 4:19) and gave Himself to teach us this idea of authentic Love.

Thank you Vic  for opening my eyes to true love. Thank you loving me when I was un-loveable.  Thank you for leading me to see true love and how you are my soulmate.   I can clearly see now that we are soulmates… not because we are ‘perfect’ for one another, but because we choose to live and grow together everyday.

True love doesn’t wait. True love doesn’t withhold. True love doesn’t hold a grudge… Because when we love like Christ we do things without any expectation of return. True love perseveres.


For the next two weeks would you join me in intentionally loving your husband? No matter the state of your relationship… I challenge each one of you to join me doing simple acts of kindness to transform your marriage.  This will be the unexpected Valentine’s gift that keeps on giving!

I haven’t been on Instagram in (gasp) almost two years. I’m going to warm the account up and be posting my version of the daily challenge there :)

 2/10- Greet him with a 7 second kiss!

2/11- Make (or buy) him his favorite treat.

2/12- Do a chore that he normally takes care of.

2/13- Hold his hand.

2/14-Write down three things that you admire about him.

2/15- Spend time doing something he loves.

2/16- Brag about him where he can hear you do it.

2/17- Write him a love letter.

2/18- Put him first. Make a sacrifice for him.

2/19- Ask him for his advice. And then follow through.

2/20- Encourage him to take time to do something he loves.

2/21- Give him a massage.

2/22- Cook him his favorite meal.

2/23- Send him a flirty text. (and follow through!)


2015 Project 52:1

2015 Project 52:1








2014 was a transition year for me. We added a third child to our family and I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t easy for me. I’ve always had some sort of ‘flying by the seat of my pants’ talent…. if there is such a thing. But all of the sudden this third person came with some sort of maternal memory loss, exponentially larger messes, and compiled frustrations to do anything outside of the house. Honestly I was embarrassed. I remembered how two children were so easy for me to handle. Now, getting out of the house was often more of a chore than I wanted to bother with. I was frustrated with the way our house looked, with my own dis-disheveled appearance, and children that didn’t seem to understand that when I said it was time to get your shoes on that I meant now- not tomorrow. I ashamedly had more than one mommy temper tantrum.

During those moments it was like an out of body experience for me. It was almost like I was watching what was happening at the same time. And I didn’t like it one bit. I knew the mama I wanted to be and I so very much wasn’t being her. I knew this was a breaking point and that something had to change.

I made a point to try to figure out how to better manage our life. I wrote down what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be. And I could see that the reason I was two steps forward and three steps back was because I was giving too much of myself to everyone else.

As we start 2015 be sure that you carve out the time needed for you. I wish that someone had told me to do so seven years ago. Take time to care for and refresh yourself because you are worthy. Because you are important. I am so thankful for His graces. And for fresh beginnings. And that He who loved us so much that He gave His life gives us a new chance. Every. Single. Day.

God Bless you Lovelies! All the best in 2015!! xo

PS- Yes you see another Project 52! And even though I didn’t even come close to finishing my ‘Motherhood is’ book for last year I am going back this month and finishing it out. :) This year I chose ‘Right now I love’. Join me and link up in the comments if you want to!