Friday, March 25, 2016

The Farmer in the Dell...

Couldn't help sharing this sweet video of Natalie. She's three now and we are working on computer skills. Here she is listening to songs on her computer program and having a ball. I can't believe how fast they grow!

20160325_164330 from Esther Shankland on Vimeo.

Saturday, October 17, 2015


Today was Emily's very first Taekwondo Expo and she rocked it! I'm so proud of my girl. When did she get so big?!

Here's a video I took of her in action (edited to be much shorter).


Emily TKD 10-17-15 from Esther Shankland on Vimeo.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Starting Off Right

I want to be intentional this year. Intentional about what I do, what I say, how I say it. I want to spend more time with my kids and less time with Facebook. It's important to be intentional with our time or it can so easily get away from us. I've really been convicted lately about my poor attitude and my laziness, and I want to intentionally make changes that impact my family and my life in a positive way. I'm tired of just following the current, of being apathetic, of letting myself do wherever sounds good at the time. (I sort of feel like the ship captain from Wall-E: "I don't want to survive, I wanna LIVE!" Haha.)  I'm ready for my life to be different. And what better time to start than with a fresh, new year?

That said, I'm not really much for New Year's Resolutions. I always think they sound good at the time, but I keep up with them for about 5 minutes, if I'm lucky. This year I'd like to do things a little differently. I'm setting goals for myself instead of just throwing out a "resolution" or two; written, tracked, measured goals. And in order to help keep myself a bit more accountable, I'm going to post them here and update every so often about my progress. I hope this helps me stay on the right path!

The first, and biggest, goal that I'm setting is to read my Bible and spend time with God every day. In the past I've been very here-and-there about this one. I will go in spurts and read my Bible every day for a month, and then forget about it for much longer. That's no good! I have a Bible reading plan to read through the Bible in a year, and even if I don't get all the way through it, I want to read a little bit every day. It's the 4th of January today and so far so good! (Baby steps, right?)

My home keeping binder
I also want to get (and STAY) organized around our home. I had previously been using The Fly Lady's system to clean and de-clutter the house, but I've fallen off the wagon. Again. So I pulled my binder out, dusted it off (see what I did there?), and signed back up for her daily reminder emails. It's a great system and I've really had success with it in the past if I keep it up, so I'm going to to my best to stay with it this time! To me it's great to be able to find what you need, when you need it, and not have to dig through the mess to locate it, and I know Rob appreciates a clean house, too. If you need help getting things in order at  your house, check her out! I think you'll like it.

Finally, I have a goal to become a more healthy cook and save us some money on groceries if I can. I use Plan to Eat for meal planning and keeping my recipes organized, and I really love it! I sit down at the end of each month and plan all our meals for the month ahead. It makes dinnertime SO much easier if I can just look at the calendar and see what I've already planned for the meal. And we have limited our going out to eat to once a week also, which is a huge money saver.

And there you have it! There are lots of other things I want to work on this year as well, but these are the big ones for now. It feels good to have a plan of attack for the year! Did you set any goals for 2014? Share them with me! We can all keep each other on track. :)

Friday, January 3, 2014

Christmas 2013

Emily is three, Natalie just turned one, both such fun ages. It's amazing to experience the joy and wonder of Christmas through a child's eyes! Emmie is finally getting old enough to understand the season and had a great time doing crafts, reading books and looking at Christmas lights. Nattie thought the tree was the most exciting thing ever!

Our Christmas Card

Daddy and Emily before they went to see The Nutcracker! She LOVED it!

Christmas Cookies!

Before the Christmas Eve church service

Opening their Christmas jammies on Christmas Eve

Natalie didn't quite get it, but she sure loved the bows!
We had a wonderful Christmas and hope you did, too!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Throwback Thursday

In the spirit of the last post, this one is of Emily at one year old. How cute is she?!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Natalie is ONE!!

*Photo credit to Rachel Brock*

Natalie, I've been holding off on writing this post because I just can't believe you are one year old already! ONE! It's true what they say, time has wings. And the older I get, the faster it flies away from me.

This last year has been quite a whirlwind with you, sweet girl! We've had so much fun! I want to stop and hold you close and drink you in and remember these moments. They are precious, and they don't last long.

You are starting to change from my tiny baby into your own little person, and it's amazing to watch! At your one year checkup you weighed just under 17.5 pounds and measured 28.5 inches tall. You're a skinny little thing. Because you can't drink milk due to an allergy, you aren't gaining as much weight as we would like. So per your doctor we are trying to fatten you up with bread and carbs (which you love) and avocado (which you hate). Mealtime is always interesting with you. You'll eat a few bites from your own plate, and then yell at me until I share what's on mine. You are definitely a stubborn girl, that's for sure!

You love: your mama, sucking your thumb, blocks, stuffed animals, books, spoons, your favorite purple blankie, trying to sneak into the bathroom when we aren't looking, and most of all your big sissy. You follow her everywhere! She's very patient with you and shares her toys (usually) and helps you learn. Watching you two together just melts my mama heart. You especially adore your daddy and clap and squeal when he comes in the door from work. He's already your hero. (Again with the melting heart!)

You don't love: when mama puts you down, shoes on your feet, sleep (you don't sleep through the night, but feel free to change that anytime), anything too loud that startles you, and when mama puts you down. If you had your way I'd be carrying you all day long! Every once in a while you let your daddy have a turn, too. ;)

You aren't walking quite yet but you crawl and cruise all over the place. I think it won't be long before we will have to chase you as you run around the house. You bolt for the stairs every chance you get and can climb them like a pro already, and when you get to the top you want to turn around and do it again! Baby gates are our best friend right now.

You are chatting up a storm these days! You say "DAT!" and point at everything, all the time. You are so curious and want us to name everything you see. Some favorites are lights and light switches, the fridge, and pictures on the wall. There's a figurine that your daddy gave me that plays music when we wind it up, and you insist on having your daddy turn it on and dance with you at least twice a day. It's your favorite thing right now (and I think daddy loves it, too!) and so fun to watch you wiggle and dance to the music. Will you be a music girl like you sissy? I sure hope so.

You are silly, curious, stubborn, a little shy, awfully sweet, very snuggly, and so happy! You have your daddy's heart and your mama's attitude. We love watching you grow and change, and can't wait to see what the future holds for you! With your big sister as your guide (accomplice?) I know there's nothing you can't do. We love you so much, Nattie Roo! Now please, stop growing up already, would you? :)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Learning About Leaves

We love leaves around here! This month in school we have been doing all kinds of leaf-related projects. We went on a nature walk and collected lots of pretty leaves, laminated them, and hung them up as a garland on the fireplace.

Laminated leaves

Sorry about the grainy phone picture!
We also made a Fall Leaf Tree out of a paper towel roll and some foam pre-cut leaves. We got our inspiration from this post. Emily loved gluing the leaves on! The tree now sits on our table as a centerpiece.

Fall leaf tree 


We have done lots of worksheets and coloring pages about leaves, too. Emily is finally enjoying coloring! I think before she was just too busy to want to sit still for very long. Now she'll sometimes color for a half hour (if I'm lucky).  Next up is pumpkins! Have I told you before that I love fall?? :)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Fall Colors

Fall is, and always will be, my favorite season. By far. The leaves change, the weather cools, the crock-pot comes out of hiding. What more do you need? I can't wait to start making some good comfort food (and wearing big sweaters to hide the extra weight I'll gain!) and relaxing by a nice fire with my loves. Yay fall!

Last week we took a trip into the mountains to see the fall colors. It was spectacular! These pictures don't do it justice. We had a wonderful time!

Snow in the mountains already!
Happy Girl
The only picture we got of Natalie. Poor kid! Second child syndrome...

What do you love about fall?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday Phone Dump

Here are a few pictures from our week, in all their grainy iPhone glory...

We went to dinner with new friends. Our girls are already best buddies! 

My first homemade wreath. Happy fall!

Someone hates her Halloween costume. I think it's adorable! 

Early in the week we had beautiful weather and went for a nice walk to collect leaves!

And then this morning we woke up to snow. Lets hope it's not here for good, I'm not done with fall yet!

Tonight we had our first fire in the fireplace. Hooray! I'm glad for the cooler weather, but the snow can wait a while yet. 

That's our week in a nutshell. I hope you're having a great fall like we are! Stay warm, everyone. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Pantry Makeover!

I have really been itching to get this house more organized lately. For some reason I think I got Fall Fever instead of spring! I have found lots of little projects to do that I'll be sharing with you. I hope I can inspire someone else to be as crazy and organized as I am! (Ok, I'm not really all that organized... I'm trying though!)

So, without further ado, the Great Pantry Makeover! Here we go.

Here is a before picture: (I was so excited to get started that emptied the top shelves before I remembered the picture!)

The top half was just like this, but worse if you can believe that.
My helper
First, I scoured Pinterest and all my favorite organizing blogs for some inspiration. Lots of people have done this far better than I did, so if you need ideas check them out too! Some of my favorites are here, here, and here.

After I had an idea of what the end result should be, I set to work clearing everything out. I got rid of anything that was expired of course, and tried to group items together as much as possible. It was quite a mess! But, it always gets worse before it gets better, right?

I decided I wanted to paint the inside of the pantry. I'm always better at keeping something neat and organized if I like the way it looks, so I figured this should be no different. This was a big reminder that I'm no painter! But we'll get to that.

This house was built in 1987 and I'm pretty sure no one had ever replaced the cabinets, so the shelves were pretty bowed and saggy. To keep costs down, instead of replacing them we just flipped them over! Free and way easier than having to cut all new shelving, and it worked just fine. Have I mentioned we are not handy people? We don't own power tools. Oh, I take that back, Rob has a drill. And I have a blow dryer... Does that count?

Once everything was emptied out, we wiped it all down and set to painting. I chose a pretty, sunny yellow.

Manual labor! She works for lollipops.
It was at this point that I started to regret the painting idea. Why, you ask? Well.

1. Painting with your head in a cabinet sucks. Really. Even though it was low VOC paint it's still stinky, and I kept bumping my elbows on the walls I'd just painted. Fun times.
2. Painting over bad wood-grain vinyl sucks too. It took no less than three coats to make it look decent. And, as Rob pointed out, it really could have used a fourth. But  refer to item #2 for why I was DONE after three, thankyouverymuch. 
3. The previous owners painted our cabinets a lovely shade of brown. It was to cover the lovely shade of peach which I appreciate (no, not joking! Look at the hinges in that picture.), but still brown. And I chose yellow paint. Now, maybe it's because I have two small kids and bodily functions are a decently large part of my day, but PEE AND POOP, ANYONE? Lol! Also very 70's. Oops.

So. After I got the inside all painted, I put some white textured shelf paper on the shelves. I thought it would hold up better against scuffing and be easier to clean. (Yes I put the green painter's tape on halfway through. Oops again. Not handy people, remember? :) That part was fairly simple, thankfully. 

I found some inexpensive plastic stacking baskets at Target and used my handy-dandy label maker to add a label to the front. I think I might need something bigger though, but those will work for now. 

Getting there...
And here's what I ended up with! I have to admit, the yellow is growing on me. And Lord knows there is NO WAY I'm painting that again anytime soon, so it's there for a while at least.

Tada! (Please ignore the finger prints on the fridge... Ugh.)

Bottom half is breakfast foods and baking, cans, and tall appliances that won't fit anywhere else.

Top half is medicines and things to keep the kids out of, pasta and random boxed food, and snacks. 

Bigger labels? We'll see.
There you have it! Not fancy, but cheap and much better than it was before. I can finally find things without digging and scooting things all around. It's nice! Now if we can just eat all 27 cans of diced tomatoes we have, we'll be all set.