Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Mama's Weekend Out

On November 1st I was able to go on my first weekend away from my boys, without my husband. There were 5 of us all together that escaped to Downtown Portland for a weekend getaway.

{Kai took this photo of me while we waited for my ride}

Jamie, Aimee, Rianna and I left Eugene late Friday afternoon. We ate on the way up and then stopped in Oak Grove to meet up with Carina. She was at the "Puckett Love Shack", a gorgeous home owned by here aunt + uncle where Carina lived before she got married last year. They put on a lot of social events, but this was "First Friday" a casual potluck style gathering of friends, family and extended acquaintances on the first Friday of the month.

We gathered by the fire inside, got a tour of the house, and eventually went outside to the barn. It was such a fun time and the 4 of us with kids were relishing the ability to have long adult conversations with no interruptions and not having to get back home for bedtimes.

{Top: Jamie, Carina + I. Bottom: Shandell, Jamie, Rianna, Aimee}

Afterwards we headed to our hotel, lugging all of our stuff with us. We packed a lot of snacks and drinks. We unpacked, settled in and just enjoyed each other's company. The drive must have worn us out because we were all headed to bed before midnight. 

{In the barn @ PLS: red lighting courtesy of the toasty warm heat lamps}

Saturday morning we took our time getting ready. I snuck in a quick FaceTime chat with my guys.

Then we all split up for a bit. Carina + I went to coffee at Barista with my best friend from High School, Lindsey who lives in the area. It was great to catch up, as always. Afterwards we met up with Rianna + Aimee who were out shopping. We hit up Nordstrom Rack, and then Forever 21 and H&M at Pioneer Square. We have a Forever 21 in Eugene but it's probably a quarter the size of the Portland one, plus we had no limitations on time and no kids to tend to.

After lunch we headed back to the hotel to meet up with Jamie who had to tend to family business nearby. Then shopping again! I'm not a big shopper, but I just thoroughly enjoyed the social aspect of it. We had a great time. 

That night we went to dinner at Rock Bottom Brewery. Everywhere we went was nearby, we walked about 8 blocks from our hotel to the restaurant. During dinner there were a few mishaps, a spilled drink and a forgotten order so they brought us a free dessert and gave us the 40% employee discount for our "troubles", we were all thrilled, being the budget conscious ladies that we are.

Afterwards we spent more time at the hotel, and tried to go to sleep around midnight. However, our room was situated right next to the pool and weight room. The tv in the weight room was blaring nearly all night and then the sound of weights clanking on the floor woke us at 6am. A friendly complaint from Jamie and we got a free breakfast at the restaurant in the hotel, it was quite delicious. We were feeling pretty blessed by 2 discounted meals in a row.

Once we checked out we did some more shopping downtown and I was about to drop. The constant walking and lack of sleep was catching up to me. I still had a good time, I was just exhausted. Then we headed to Ikea, which is probably the last place you'd want to go when tired…but we don't have one so it was a must! I budgeted pretty tight so I only got a few things; some grey curtains that I'm super excited to put up along our sliding glass door once we paint the back living room, a few kid's room storage items, and a couple little toys to give the boys when I got home. I had only been to Ikea one other time, with Ben, YEARS ago and we didn't even realize there was more store downstairs. We went through the showroom and then thought the downstairs was just a warehouse for picking up your furniture. Imagine my surprise when I encountered miles more of Ikea goods. It was a little overwhelming but pretty exciting. Ben + I are already brainstorming a day trip there for just the two of us. 

We said our good byes to Carina and headed back to Eugene. I got dropped off at home just before 7pm Sunday night. I was so excited to see my sweet boys already in their jammies, waiting by the door for me to get home. Ben had the house ready for me to come home and relax in, cleaner than it was before I'd left. I missed them a ton, but was so grateful to take some time out for myself.

Thanks so much to Jamie for orchestrating the trip and to all the other girls as well. I had a great time visiting with all of you, I can't wait for next year!

Friday, November 22, 2013

'tis the season...

I've said or typed that phrase several times already this year. You may think I'm about to complain about the early Christmas decor, I'm not. Around here, 'tis the season for colds, croup, and earaches. 

My boys started with every mild symptoms that lingered on a couple weeks ago, I thought it was just a slight cold or the change in weather. Kai had a dry cough that was only at night and didn't keep him up at all. Desmond had no symptoms at all for a long while, and then just an occasional runny nose. 

Earlier this week Kai's cough became barky and persistent. Des was still fine, until a couple days later he woke at 3am barking like a seal and his breathing was raspy. Kai coughed so hard twice that he threw up. Desmond's stridor got worse the next day after his nap and we took him in. His lungs were clear but he was diagnosed with croup. We picked up a prescription steroid tablet and he gobbled it up in a spoonful of applesauce that night. His breathing was better that night, but his cough still kept him up. We filled the house with humidifiers and vaporizers and I rubbed Des in peppermint oil mixed in coconut oil. 

Kai started napping daily, on his own just putting himself to sleep and then still going to bed at a decent hour. It was obvious he was fighting something off, he hasn't napped that often for well over a year. 

Last night Malakai woke up yelling "no, no, ouch, ouch, ouch!". We thought he was dreaming and talking in his sleep as he occasionally does, but he said his ear hurt. Homeopathic drops, a hot pack and distractions weren't working, he just wouldn't sleep. He kept saying "I just want the pain to go out!" He and I were up from 11:30-3am. He finally fell asleep in his cot next to our bed after we gave him a small LED flashlight to distract him. By the grace of God I remained calm and reassuring. That, and I remember chronic ear infections as a child and how terribly painful they were. I think remember childhood is something that makes me a better parent on the regular. 

So Kai woke up at 6am this morning totally chipper, obviously excited to be in our room. I asked about his ear and he said it felt good. I called our Dr. and was surprised that even though we'd been in this week already they would have to schedule a full appointment to see him, I was hoping for a quick ear check. I decided against it since he felt better and the nurse said it was likely just fluid build up that had eventually run it's course. I'm so thankful and really prayerful that he won't develop an ear infection. With high deductible insurance it's not at all affordable to go in for sick visits. 

Many of my friends, especially those with small children are all in the same boat. Our pediatrician posted on Facebook about croup being really common right now, some of our good friends have an 11 month old with croup which is so scary to me! So, like I said, 'tis the season…for sickness. 

Stay well everyone, and have a warm + happy weekend. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Seaside mini-vacation

Over the summer some of our best friends, Michael + Megan, invited us to go on vacation with them to Seaside. They were gifted a week stay at the World Mark Resorts the previous Christmas. We didn't have enough vacation time to go during the week in October so we joined them during the weekend at the tail end of their trip.

We were excited about having the minivan in time for the trip, but the check-engine light came on the Thursday before. I took it for a quick free diagnostic and it was having a cylinder misfire. We knew we didn't have time to get it looked at before leaving, but Ben's parents generously loaned us their Tahoe for the weekend, so we were still able to go!

On Friday when Ben came home from work we loaded up and got on the road as soon as possible. We made a stop about halfway through at Bridgeport Village to eat a picnic style dinner I had packed and let the boys move their legs. They have a great play structure in the center courtyard. We climbed back in the car and headed to Seaside. It seemed like it took forever, it was nearly 8pm when we arrived. 

Once we got there we moved some things around to accommodate our needs in the extra room to get settled. We let the boys stay up late to wind down from their excitement and visited with Michael + Megan. Things got complicated when we went to put the boys to bed because I had packed only half of the baby monitor. Thankfully my techno-guru husband figured out that we could do a FaceTime audio-only call between our phones and mute one so we could hear them but they couldn't hear us. It worked great!

We stayed up late talking and poor Ben had to go in several times to soothe Des back to sleep, but once we went to bed he stayed asleep for a good long while. The next morning the boys came running out to the living room, where we were sleeping on a murphy-bed, wanting to play. We were SO tired. 

After a leisurely morning and a great breakfast made by Michael, we decided to head out to the beach. It was a short walk from our room to the beach access since the entire resort is right on the Seaside Promenade.

{the view from our room and a view of the resort from the beach}

{lots o' selfies}

In addition to half the baby monitor, I also forgot sand toys. So we brought some dishes and big spoons with us instead. They worked well-enough and the boys (all 4 of them) had a blast playing in the sand. It was warm and only slightly breezy, a beautiful day on the Oregon coast. 

We ate a really late lunch after cleaning off all the sand before heading out again. Michael + Megan had planned to take the boys on the carousel by all the shops down the street. Malakai only wanted to ride on the bench so he had to wait a couple rounds, but Desmond went on right away. He looked nervous when it started moving but got more comfortable and seemed to have a lot of fun.

Afterward we walked by the shops and Michael bought a bunch of deep fried desserts that we all tried. The consensus was that they were disgusting. Desmond fell asleep on Ben's shoulder on the walk home, so we let him snooze while we relaxed and thought about dinner.

The boys ate dinner and went to bed a few hours later. We ate a really late dinner and stayed up talking into the night. 

Sunday we woke up to clouds and fog that wouldn't burn off. We relaxed most of the morning. The boys colored, played video games and read. Michael made paper airplanes for Malakai and he was instantly hooked.
{checking out the foggy beach}

We took the boys to the small play area and game room at the resort and then decided to go for a walk on the promenade.

{caught instagramming}

{Michael, Desmond, Megan, Ben, Malakai, + I}

Malakai got sick of walking pretty quickly but we enticed him to go further by pointing out the swing set on the beach. Megan got this adorable picture of us that I just LOVE.

On our walk back Malakai + I found a caterpillar. After Kai tried holding it, Michael set it free.

{the boys LOVED air-hockey, Megan + I keeping each other warm, Kai with his new friend}

We relaxed some more back in our room until dinner. Megan and Michael made some amazing meals  (including Puerto Rican style plantains!) and introduced us to some yummy snacks over the weekend. Megan also read stories to both boys a few times which they loved. She even brought a childhood favorite of her own to share with Malakai called Mr. Pudgins.

After dinner we packed up our circus and headed home, but not before Megan loaded us up with a ton of food to take home with us and the most amazing brownies of all time!

{sunset from our room, back on the road}

We loved every minute of it and count ourselves blessed to have such awesome friends that would invite us to come share in their vacation with them.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Crowned with Beauty Winner + Special Offer

What a great giveaway to kick off my entry back into shop features, and the holiday season! Thanks to everyone who participated, especially those who have already made purchases from Aimee at Crowned with Beauty.

The winner of the lid + straw set for use with mason jar is…

The winner was chosen via Rafflecopter. Jenny has been emailed and has 48 hours to reply and claim the prize. Unclaimed prizes will be rewarded to an alternate, which will not be announced via blog post.

BUT WAIT, there's more!

Any purchases made from Crowned with Beauty between now and December 1st, 2013 is eligible to receive a free hand made ornament. All you have to do is mention Breaking New Ground and the ornament will be added to your order! Be sure to check back in to Aimee's shop to see all the lovely things she's added just in time for the holiday season!

Check back in here for more updates from us as well as additional features and giveaway in the coming weeks. If you peruse the internet via a reader, consider following Breaking New Ground's feed by clicking HERE or this handy dandy button to follow with feedly

Friday, November 8, 2013

Crowned with Beauty: Feature, Review, and GIVEAWAY!

It is with great anticipation that I introduce you to my good friend Aimee and her new to the internet shop, Crowned with Beauty. Take a few moments to read through and get to know Aimee and enjoy growing through her gorgeous handmade items. 

Where are you located + are you from there originally? 
I live in Eugene, Oregon with my family. My husband and I met here when we were in college. Some mutual friends of ours thought we would be good for each other so they introduced us. Both our families also live in the Northwest.

How did you come up with your shop name
I love making and filling my home with beautiful things. I also try to appreciate the beautiful things of life in all their forms. In the Bible, Isaiah chapter 61 talks about being bestowed with a crown of beauty to replace ashes. I think most women like the thought of that!

I decided to start the shop after I made a collection of mason jar drinking lids. I wanted to have special glasses that I could offer beverages in whenever I have guests over!

How long have you had your shop? 
I have been developing my shop for several months and I finally launched it in August. I have been really picky about what products I sell. There were a few items that I experimented with but ultimately decided not to offer. I want to make sure that every item listed is something that I personally love and recommend to others.

What inspires you? 
I am often inspired to make special memories with the people that I care about. I enjoy creating a lovely environment that reflects the moment or celebration. 

What are some of your favorite shop items?
My favorite item in my shop is the teal, hanging mason jar set. I think they are a great accent color and the hanging lid makes them much more versatile. Right now I am looking for a place to hang them in my kitchen so I can fill them with a number of items like pens and plastic forks. I also have one sitting on the counter in my bathroom.

Do you have any other jobs or hobbies? 
My full time job is raising my two kids. Titus is five and Eden is two. I also volunteer in the children's ministry at my church. My shop is the closest thing I have to a hobby. :)

What do you hope your future holds?

Grace for each new day and peace for all of life's uncertainties.


Shandell's Review

I've been friends with Aimee for quite a few years now. I've seen her put her crafting talents to use in her home, in throwing parties for her kids and baby showers for friends, and in gift giving. It made perfect sense to me when I found out she opened a shop of her handmade items. 

Last month she brought me a generous sampling of her lovely creations for me to try out. I really enjoyed putting them around my home. 

First thing I did was put the Mason Jar Drinking Lid and Straw to use. I love the teal color and it fits both small and large jars that I had on hand. I love using a straw as it helps me drink more water throughout the day. I've used it nearly every day since. And, it's dishwasher safe! She also sells them with jars in case you want to buy the complete drinking jar, or multiples!

I haven't put anything on my dining room table for over a year. My boys are finally old enough to leave things alone even though they are in reach.  I decided to put the set of 3 beautifully painted Mason Jar Candle Holders out on the table. First of all, I really love the red one because it ties in with my kitchen and dining decor. Second, they are the perfect shades for fall, the holidays, or any time at all. I put small battery powered tea lights in them for a lovely glow in the evenings. 

Another perfect item for fall is the Mason Jar Felt Cozy. I'd never though to use jars for coffee or tea, but this little felt cozy made drinking something of any temperature a delight in a medium sized jar. I used it for hot coffee, tea, and even iced water. It kept my hands warm without being too hot with the warm drinks and it kept the jar from sweating with the iced water. Plus it's absolutely adorable with the perfect little leaf and rich colors. 

Last, but not least she gave me a Quilted Mason Jar Candle Holder with hanging lantern lid . I added another little tealight and hung it in our entry way. It gives off a very pretty glow and the hanging chain makes it very versatile. I could see snagging quite a few of these and hanging them for outdoor entertaining. I could easily swap out the twine on the colored jars and add the lid to them if I'd like to hang them at some point. I love that her products can be used interchangeably! 

Aimee certainly has an eye for color and a talent for creating aesthetically pleasing decor. I really enjoy having little pieces of her shop in our home, adding a little warmth and beauty throughout. I'm not looking around at her shop and thinking of what members of my family might like most for Christmas gifts!



Aimee of Crowned with Beauty is giving readers of Breaking New Ground a chance to win a lid and straw set. See the Rafflecopter entry form below to enter!

This giveaway begins on Friday November 8th, 2013 will end by Wednesday November 13th, 2013 12:00am PT. Contest open to US residents only. 
A winner will be chosen at random by Rafflecopter, the winner will be announced on Thursday November 14th, 2013 and notified by email. Additional deals from purchases through Crowned with Beauty will be available once announced with the giveaway winner. 

Be sure to come back to check for the winner annoucement to see if you won AND to take advantage of a deal at Crowned with Beauty exclusively for readers of Breaking New Ground. 

Disclosure: I received no compensation for this review. All opinions are my own.This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.  Click for additional disclosures and PR policies.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Celebrating Fall

We've done a lot of things over the last couple months to celebrate the season.

In September we went out to Johnson Brothers Greenhouses nearby for a harvest event. They had cider and cookies and a free flower potting station for kids. 

When we arrived we realized we didn't have Desmond's shoes. We both assumed that they were in the car because he typically takes them off as we are going somewhere we've given up on putting them on until we arrive to our destination. So we just doubled up on the socks and carried him half the time, he didn't seem to even notice.

The boys loved digging in the dirt, picking out flowers and planting them. They especially loved watering them with the piggie watering can. The gal that helped them through it was great with kids. We browsed a bit and headed on our way to warm up. The boys were very proud to display their creations out front.

We get a LOT of leaves at our house, from the very beginning of fall and into the winter. The orange and yellow leaves are thanks to our giant maple tree out front. It dumped two times what you see covering our yard and driveway in the pics below. The boys really enjoyed playing in them, and thankfully Ben was able to get the majority off the yard before the rain made them soggy.

We have a lot of leaves in our backyard too from several small trees. Kai loves to help rake them up with Ben. There is another gigantic tree just waiting until we get all these leaves up to make it's contribution. 

There have been a handful of sunny afternoons, warm enough to head to the park. I love watching these two play together, such little buds. 

More recently we made a visit to one of the farms down the street from us to pick up pumpkins. Unfortunately the whole experience of riding the wagon out to the pumpkin patch and picking a pumpkin is too expensive for us. Thankfully our kids don't yet know what they are missing. They are totally thrilled walking up to the pumpkins on display at the store front and we are just as pleased to use free pumpkin vouchers we received from our mortgage advisor's office.

After getting pumpkins we stopped at a park on the way home and enjoyed a few more moments of sun. Then the boys colored them (we don't carve yet!) and set them out front for display. 

Last Wednesday we stopped at the other farm down the street for their last day before closing until spring. They have a play ground and goats, so the boys thoroughly enjoyed playing there. Thankfully it was nice and sunny, and not too cold.

For Halloween we didn't really have much planned for costumes, I couldn't get the boys to commit to anything so I didn't make or buy costumes. At the last minute I convinced Desmond to wear Kai's old Batman PJ's with the cape for his costume, and Malakai wore this awesome spider shirt that Grandma Debbie had made him. It was NOT a costume though, he was NOT spider man. Just Kai, in a spider shirt. He was very serious about that.

Ben and I didn't do costumes, but he did wear a Batman T-shirt to match Des, which rendered him the nickname, "Batdad" at the Harvest party that night. Our church puts together a HUGE harvest festival for the community out at Camp Harlow (which is a ministry that they run). There were tons of games to earn candy in several different buildings, plus a petting zoo with a lemur, bunnies, a wallaby, tortoise and snakes. Des feels the same as mama when it came to the snakes.

We are planning as long as we can to take our kids to the Harvest party and avoid the door-to-door trick or treating trend.

I'm so thankful we made the extra effort to get out and enjoy the fall weather before it turned into the rainy cold mess that it is here in the winter, which is surely just around the corner!

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