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Extra! Extra! Read all about it! We’re in Magnolia Journal

The summer issue of The Magnolia Journal is hot off the press with our darling Joanna gracing the cover. Isn’t she just the prettiest? I think all of America wants to be her best friend (my hand is raised, too).

We are pretty excited over here to have a feature in this issue of the magazine.

Last year, we pulled our kids from school and set off on a nearly 4 month journey around the country. It was a long-time bucket list item and we still look at each other sometimes saying did we really do that?!

Throughout our whole trip, we posted to instagram (#jdcroadtrip) and I posted updates on the blog after every-ish stop (here’s the roadtrip page with all of the posts).

We didn’t do the trip for any other reason than to be together as just us six and experience the best this country has to offer.

What happened was life-changing and bonding with memories that will last a lifetime.

The trip ended on a Sunday at the end of August and the next day we bought our new house. The kids started school in our new school district the following week. So basically, we jumped from one pretty incredible experience to another and never took the time to truly process, collect our memories and put a big bow on the whole thing.

Now that we are a year out, we are getting nostalgic about the whole thing. Memories are coming up more often, stories from the trip make their way into more conversations, the kids are asking to visit friends they met or go back to cities again and quite often we think about the restaurants we dined at and remember an amazing meal or latte or cool atmosphere.

Just last night, while driving home from my sister’s house, we had a great conversation with Brady, our 11 year old. It was late and they were supposed to be trying to fall asleep, but instead Brady asked a question that turned into answers and more questions and a great conversation. Once the car grew quiet again, Ryan and I agreed that we miss those uninterrupted opportunities for conversation we had while on the trip – because when you are stuck in a car for 4 hours and you already watched two movies yesterday, you talk. It takes an intentional slowing down to build this into our regular life and that just gets harder and harder as the kids get older, life gets fuller, responsibility looks you in the face.

 When removed from all of life’s regular routine and distractions, you have time for meaningful conversation and simple forms of entertainment – books, drawing, pocket knives, playing dice. At home we have things like school, work, tv, unlimited wifi, friends, sports, meetings, errands. None of these are bad; all our welcomely invited into our lives. It just makes us sentimental about the time we had traveling all those miles, seeing all those incredible sites, just us six.

Ethan, our oldest, grew from boy to young man during those four months right before our eyes. The deep faith questions he wrestled with and the physical transformation he went through – none of it was missed by us. We were together all day, every day to witness and question and wrestle together.

Brady was curious and engaged everywhere we went. He was the first to ask a question to a tour guide or ranger. His natural inquisitiveness and thoughtfulness was so cool to see.

History came alive to Mason as we stood where Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his I Have A Dream speech, or walked the battlefield at Gettysburg. He was all about the big cities and the most famous of sites. I can’t wait to see what this trip inspires in him as he grows – will he study history? Architecture? Politics?

Audrey walked miles each day. Miles! And hardly complained. She kept up with her big brothers, she was pushed in her food preferences, she listened to books in the car beyond her kindergarten interests, and yet she kept her sweet smile and adorable sense of humor the whole time.

What an enormous privilege as parents to have these moments.

And for me and Ryan to have had four months to connect, dream, work through hard things, laugh, make decisions, be a team … this is the best part of it all.

We said when we were planning the trip that we felt like life was going so fast we needed to just stop and reset. That’s what this trip was. It was a chance to pull back from regular life, take a deep breath, create unforgettable memories and then make adjustments as we reentered.

 I didn’t mean to write all of that. Mainly I just wanted to tell you about the article in the magazine :)

It is a great article with snippets of our story, photos and cute artwork, some itinerary highlights and tips for planning your summer adventures this year.

But I guess I also want you to know that while it was just a road trip, I’ll always see it as so much more. It took months of planning and years of saving and many sacrifices along the way and every bit of it was entirely worth it.

If you find yourself or your family in a spot where things are moving at such a fast pace and you’re not sure you love who you are or where you’re headed, may I gently encourage you to find a way to stop, take a breath, and make changes as you reenter.

It might be a road trip or a job change or an afternoon spent quietly thinking and my hope is that it will be life-changing for you as well.


You can find a copy of the summer issue of Magnolia Journal on news stands now, or order a subscription here.

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Get a FRESH start this spring with a free Caldrea gift set

There is something so lovely about spring. The flowers, fresh leaves, sunnier skies.

It also ushers in this unexplainable desire to clean.

They say there are two types of people: the organized type and the clean type. I fall deeply and fully into the organized camp. Give me a tidy house over freshly mopped floors any day of the week.

That’s not to say that I don’t like a clean house, because I truly do. I just don’t particularly love to clean.

True story: when I was pregnant with Audrey (our fourth baby, who is now 7), I developed that super weird disorder called Pica in which I was compelled to eat non-nutritive things like chalk and cleaning supplies. My mouth would literally water if I smelled lemon soft scrub or watched gymnasts on tv clap the extra chalk off their hands. It’s an indication of a mineral deficiency which I had big time during pregnancy.

Thankfully I no longer have that strange urge to eat chemicals, but I do really enjoy good-smelling cleaning supplies.

And while I may not be scrubbing my floors regularly, I am scrubbing dishes every day and I figure that’s a pretty good place to keep that delicious smelling soap.

I’m all about making the every day more beautiful and simple pleasures like good smelling soap, a neutral scrub brush and favorite dish towel seriously make my day happier.

Fun bonus: the company where I get my soap and scrub brush is giving away a Caldrea gift set for FREE! 

Right now, when you sign up for Grove and place your first order of $20 you’ll get this SUMMER STYLE set for free:

  • Free Caldrea hand soap
  • Free Caldrea dish soap
  • Free Grove Collaborative Bubble Up brush and dish set
  • Free shipping

Existing Grove subscriber? You get a set of my favorite walnut scrub sponges! Click here to claim your gift.

I had been eyeing Grove for over a year – always thinking about ordering but never pulling the trigger.

And then last fall I just couldn’t resist the free gift and jumped in.

Coming up with what to buy for $20 has been so much easier than I expected. The things we regularly use in our household are available at comparable or even lower prices and it saves me a trip to Target (which, honestly is a money trap for me so reducing the number of trips there is a good thing!)

Here are a few of our go-to’s:

walnut scrubber sponges I’m a born and raised sponge user. Some people are grossed out by them, but they work so well to wipe counters and scrub dishes. I throw them in the dishwasher every once in a while and am not shy about tossing them once they look dingy and start in on that nasty dirty sponge smell.

rubber gloves To save my hands and nails, I wear rubber gloves to wash dishes. It makes me feel super old, but whatever. It works.

bubble up refill brush We use our bubble up brush on a daily basis and I love that I can order just the brush to switch out when the old one is looking a bit frayed.

accure cleansing towelettes I buy these for our nearly-teenage son to do my part at preserving his soft baby skin. Will these keep teenage breakouts away? I don’t know. But it’s worth a shot.

seventh generation disinfecting wipes For the counter, the bathroom, spills on the floor … these wipes make clean up super easy.

tom’s toothpaste How do my kids go through so much toothpaste? Whatever it takes to keep the cavities away.

dr. bonner’s all-one toothpaste What originally caught my eye was the graphic packaging. What’s keeping us using this toothpaste are the natural ingredients and subtle cinnamon flavor. It comes in peppermint and anise, too.

facial tissue box Allergies strike our family hard this time of year. Tissues are essential.

parchment paper This brown parchment is so charmingly old-fashioned. I use it for baking, mostly, but wouldn’t it be so great for wrapping sandwiches for a picnic?

accure shampoo + conditioner Smells great, works great, sulfate and paraben free.

The great thing about Grove is that I’m not stuck with any of these items and can always order more, less, try new products or keep to a regular order. They make it super easy.

Want to give it a try?

When you click over to Grove, you’ll be asked a few questions and your cart will auto-fill with $20 worth of products. Go ahead and take their suggestions or browse your favorite brands or household items and choose your own (but I’m going to highly suggest those sponges).

To receive the FREE Caldrea hand soap, dish soap, and bubble up brush set, your order needs to be a minimum of $20.

I hope you find Grove to be a helpful service that saves you time, money and keeps you happy when you’re doing daily household things like dishes and laundry and brushing your teeth. #simplepleasures

CLICK OVER TO GROVE TO LEARN MORE + CLAIM YOUR GIFT!

*Please note that Grove currently does not ship to Canada, Hawaii, or Alaska

*I am happy to be a Grove affiliate

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48 must-have children’s books to add to your collection

Audrey’s sweet dormer window reading nook would not be nearly as sweet if it were not for the adorable illustrated children’s books on display.

For as long as I can remember I have loved picture books. As a child I would study the illustrations of my favorites – Blueberries for Sal, The Bremen-town Musicians, Caps for Sale, Go, Dog. Go! – I can still remember pictures and hear my mom’s voice saying, “kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk!” and “Caps for Sale! Caps! Fifty cents a cap!“.

Picture books are pure magic.

My sophomore year of college my best friend and I shared an apartment. She brought a couch, coffee table, tv; I brought a small stack of favorite picture books. Now looking back, this seems like a strange thing for a 19 year old to travel with from Washington to Southern California, but I guess I felt they were important at the time. I don’t know if I ever opened the books that year, but they sat next to the couch and I saw them everyday. Fun fact: those same books from way back then are up on Audrey’s shelves today.

We have made it a tradition that for the kids’ birthdays and holidays, they get a new picture book. With four kids, lots of birthdays and holidays and a mom who can’t get enough, our collection is solid and continually growing.

Very soon, all four kids will have aged out of picture books, but you better believe I’ll still be enjoying the children’s section at the bookstore and walking out with a small stack.

We have so many favorite books. I thought it might be fun and helpful to have a big list of favorites, all of which are included in our little library.

So, in no particular order, here are 48 must-haves for your picture book collection:

The Jolly Postman

You’re All My Favorites

Guess How Much I Love You

King Hugo’s Huge Ego (get this one!)

Toot + Puddle 

Elephant and Piggie

Peek-A-Boo!

Sam and Dave Dig A Hole (get this one, too!)

Kiki + Coco In Paris (so adorable)

Lulu + Pip

Learning To Ski With Mr. Magee

Telephone

Baby Wren and The Great Gift

Triangle (we love everything by this author/illustrator combo)

Extra Yarn

I Want My Hat Back

We Found A Hat

The Day The Crayons Quit (clever, clever, clever)

The Day The Crayons Came Home

Paul Meets Bernadette

Angelina Ballerina

Penguin Problems

Gaston

The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, And The Big, Hungry Bear

I Had A Favorite Dress (best illustrations)

Birdie’s Big Girl Shoes

Birdie’s Big Girl Dress

Just Being Audrey

Alphabeasties

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild

The Book With No Pictures

The Circus Ship (love this one)

Bear Snores On

Llama Llama Red Pajama

We’re Going On A Bear Hunt

Sleepy Bears

Bats At The Ballgame

How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?

Today I feel Silly

Blueberries For Sal

Imogene’s Antlers

Where The Wild Things Are

If You Give A Mouse A Cookie

The Napping House

Julius, The Baby Of The World

The Princess And The Pig

Henry’s Bright Idea

Press Here


Well, that was fun! I hope this list is a helpful resource for adding books to your collection!

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One place you should visit: the most darling PNW beach town

Last week was our Spring Break. The first half of the week was spent at home; the second half was enjoyed at the most charming town on the Washington Coast called Seabrook.

We spent last year’s spring break in this cute town (read about that trip here). The town was modeled after my favorite place of all – Seaside, Florida, which we visited last year on our road trip (read about that here). The community is darling and idyllic with walking paths and sweeping Pacific Ocean views and community parks, shops and cafes.

This year, we stayed in a big coastal home in town that we shared with our good friends and four of their five kids.

When we were booking our house, Rae and I were super picky about the inside being cute :) We succeeded in picking a very nicely appointed home that was conveniently located and was more than big enough for our two families (the house is called Down the Hatch, if you’re looking for a rental).

We made ourselves right at home and so enjoyed a few days of quality catch-up time with our friends.

Also, how cute is this bathroom?

We’ve had such a wet and rainy spring so far … but we had a gorgeous sunny day on Friday, which we fully embraced with time at the pool, a stop at the ice cream shop and early evening beach-time. And yes, while sunny, do keep in mind that it was only 59* out! Our PNW children are so crazy with their shorts and swim suits and all the adults were layered in sweaters and jackets.

The other days were rainy, rainy, rainy, but we didn’t let that stop us. We swam (thank goodness for an indoor pool), played lots of Settlers of Catan, Stratego and Hand + Foot, watched a few movies and ate a lot of food.

And, of course, I couldn’t help myself from taking photos of the gorgeous homes as we walked to and from the pool or the coffee shop.

We packed up yesterday to return to reality, but before we drove home, we lingered at the pizza place.

It was so fun traveling with Rae – she takes pictures of kids and life (like the ones above) and I take pictures of empty spaces with pretty, inspiring decor. We’re a good pair.

You can (and should!) follow Rae on instagram here and her blog here. And I’m on instagram here.

Another thing you should do: visit Seabrook.

Sorry for being so bossy. I’ll stop telling you what to do now.

Overall, it was a very successful spring break. We’re refreshed and ready to finish out the school year!

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A new iphone wallet case and why I’ll never go back

One year ago (almost to the day) I posted about the iPhone case that changed my life.

The phrase ‘changed my life’ sounds a little intense for something as insignificant as a phone case, and it probably is. But I’m happy to report that using a wallet phone case truly has simplified my daily routine.

The first case held up great for over a year. It was starting to crack a little (perhaps because I drop it often?!) and instead of ordering the same one as last time, I went with something new.

Introducing, my new iPhone wallet case:

I just received it in the mail yesterday and popped it straight away onto my phone. It’s nothing fancy and cost only $15, but it totally makes me happy.

The gray canvas. The leather detailing. The slim profile. It’s a good one.

I shared a photo on Instagram and there were a bunch of questions in the comments so I thought I would talk about this little life-changer on the blog today.

Can you still talk on the phone?

The quick answer is yes. You just flip open and fold back the cover and it works great. It is a bit more cumbersome than if you didn’t have the case on but as all my people will attest to, I am not a phone talker, so it really isn’t an issue for me.

Is it hard to take photos with the case on?

Not at all.

Here I am in the Redwood Forest taking a picture with the old case on:

I’m a two-handed photo taker anyway, so I hold the phone with my left hand and snap the picture with my right. The case doesn’t get in the way at all.

What do you keep in the case?

One of the biggest reasons I’m sold on this type of phone case is how convenient it is to have my most essential cards with me all the time.

The wallet portion has three pockets and I keep 5 cards in them: my driver’s license, Costco card, Target Red card, personal credit card and business credit card. In the little pocket behind the cards I keep my insurance card and maybe a few dollars. It could probably fit more, but the case starts to get a bit bulky and doesn’t close all the way with much else in there.

Someone on instagram wondered if I worried about leaving my phone somewhere and losing all the cards inside. I guess that is always a concern, but I’m pretty trained to keep my wallet/phone combo nearby pretty much everywhere I go.

How has this phone case simplified your days?

I talked a bit about the reasoning for switching to a wallet case in the first phone case post (you can read that in full here) but I’ll recap and update here.

First, since switching to a wallet case, I rarely carry a big catch-all bag. Having just the essentials in my phone works for at least 80% of my daily errands and outings. When I drop the kids off at school all I need are my keys and phone. When I hit the grocery store it’s just my keys and phone (and maybe a list). Post office, dry cleaner, hardware store, gas station. You get the picture.

When I had babies, I needed to carry a bag with all the things in it but I would still imagine that having a wallet case would make getting out of the house just a touch easier since it is only one thing to remember rather than a wallet and a phone.

Here’s another random reason I love a wallet case: I tend to do a lot of our shopping online and it is just the worst when you’re all cozy on the couch and in order to checkout you have to get up to go find your purse for your credit card number. As long as I have my phone with me (which I pretty much always do), I can just grab the card I need without having to move a lazy muscle.

Limiting the number of cards I can carry also keeps things streamlined. I used to carry a big stack of random cards – debit, punch cards, gift cards, membership cards – and they totally weighed down my wallet. Now, I just carry the cards I regularly need and use. I have the extras in my real wallet in a bag and will bring it with me when I know I’m headed somewhere where I might need one.

I used to leave my Target card in my real wallet and it helped me avoid stopping in (and spending way too much money). We now live far enough away from a Target that it doesn’t have the same effect on me, so I can keep the card in my phone without much risk. If you have a card that you need to limit yourself from using, leave it at home and it is much less convenient to use it.

Maybe the best reason of all? I only have to remember to grab one thing when I leave the house. Super simple.

What’s the biggest downfall?

This wasn’t a question anyone asked, but I wanted to talk about it anyway :)

The only thing I don’t love about a wallet case is that it doesn’t really fit in my back pocket. This probably has more to do with the size of my phone, but it is just something to consider. I typically carry it in my hand or put it in a coat pocket and it is fine. But sometimes I miss the ease of the back pocket.


Whew. That was a lot of words about a phone case. Clearly, I’m into it.

So let’s chat … are you a non-case, a regular case or wallet case type of person?

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