Celebrating Valentine’s Day with Little Ones

Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to show your little ones you love them and in turn show them how to share that love with others. With four kids running around our home, it can be difficult to make everyone feel special every day. Here are some ways that I have been intentional in loving my precious kiddos on Valentine’s Day. 

  1. Write Love Letters:

This can be done very simply, or feel free to dig into the craft cupboard. I chose to order this sweet candy heart Valentine paper to write my letters: https://amzn.to/2S5JEHk. For each one of my kids, I wrote a love letter highlighting one special moment I cherished with them, one character quality I feel they really exemplify, a compliment about something in which they really excel, and one way I have seen them love others well. It is so fun to see them read these notes (or watch their face as I read it to them.) They tend to keep my notes tucked away and I hope that it will continue to make them feel loved. 

  1. Bake Sugar Cookies Together:

Baking cookies together always seems to go much better in my head than when I am in the actual kitchen with my four kids. However, it is something they really enjoy doing and even though the results aren’t super beautiful, we are able to spend some quality time together! I have found a cookie and frosting recipe that turns out so well; soft and sweet. The full recipe can be found here: www.theyummylife.com/Sour_Cream_Sugar_Cookies. After we finish decorating the cookies, we slip them (well, the ones that look decent or that we didn’t eat) into cute bags from Hobby Lobby and deliver them to neighbors. It is a great way to stay in touch through these cold winter months and teaches our kids to introduce themselves, answer simple questions, and think of others. 

  1. Create a Compliment Box:

These boxes are typically used for classroom valentines, but I figured we could extend their use by calling them “compliment boxes.” Dig out the stickers, glitter, and paint pens and let the kid’s express their creativity! Our boxes came from Hobby Lobby, as did some of our decorations, others are from the Dollar Tree. The paint pens are a must have! The fun of paint, but lacking in the mess department. They can be purchased from Amazon (https://amzn.to/2S4ubHv). The kids can use these boxes in their classrooms, but then we leave them out for the remainder of the month. Both parents and siblings can write down compliments on an index card (we use these red ones https://amzn.to/37JUitK) and place them in the box. At the end of the month, we open the boxes and read each of the compliments that have been written. It is fun to see what the kids come up with and wonderful to see the excitement when they are read! 


Copy Me That- A Time Saving, Meal Planning App


My family likes to eat dinner every single night. Does that sound like your house? I’m guessing it does. We have a few go-to recipes that I can count on for almost the entire family to eat, but I am always looking for new ideas to keep us from getting stuck in a dinner rut. I have been a long time fan of Pinterest, so many new ideas, but getting to the recipe when I was ready to create my shopping list or make dinner became somewhat cumbersome. I would either try and print out the recipes and end up losing them or just trashing them week after week and would always forget to add some tiny ingredient to the shopping list by mistake and have to make an extra trip to the store or our fail-proof fall back… just order pizza!

Enter “Copy Me That.” This all in one app is an organizational dream! There are three main components to the app. Saving and organizing recipes, meal planning, and creating your shopping list.

First, you can save recipes in one spot. Like Pinterest, you can categorize your recipes as well; simply give them a tag. Every word in your recipe is searchable too, so if you don’t want to spend time tagging recipes, simply search “chicken” and the recipe for those tasty shredded chicken tacos will pop right up! To save a recipe, the first step is to open the app and go to the “more” drop-down menu. Click “add button/copy recipe.” This will add a button to your web browser with the Copy Me That icon. When you are on a webpage with a recipe you would like to copy, click the button, and that recipe will be imported to your app! I use the app primarily on my iPhone and iPad. To save on one of those two platforms, use the icon in the upper right that looks like a box with an arrow, the Copy Me That icon will now be one of your choices! Once the recipe has successfully been loaded in your app, you can review it for accuracy and move on to the next step!

I still use Pinterest for discovering new recipes but also use popular food blogs and even cooking magazine websites. One of my favorites is the Pioneer Woman’s Blog. Her food is great and as an added bonus, she is really funny! Her witty comments on processed cheese have me cracking up! There is also a community feature on the app that lets you search recipes that others have loaded on to their app.

When you are ready to start meal planning for the week, open your app and select a recipe. You can now add it to your meal plan. Select the date on which you would like to make the meal and view your calendar to see your whole week’s worth of choices. I love to get my actual calendar out during this time and look to see what activities we have going on during the evenings and try to plan meals around those. Soup in the crockpot is my go-to when the kids have sports practices! If you are a next-level planner, add breakfast and lunch to your meal plan as well, you can have multiple recipes for the same day! You can add side dishes and notes here too.

The last step is your shopping list. Each recipe you add to your meal planner has the option of being added to your shopping list. After I have added each recipe to my shopping list, I go through its entirety while standing in my kitchen to check off any items I may already have. And then, honestly, I head right over to the grocery store’s website, still using my iPad, and order groceries to be picked up the next day. With four kids, ages 7 and under, I will do just about anything to avoid an actual trip into the grocery store! Isn’t technology amazing!

Ready for Spring

We got a taste of the nice weather last week and I can’t get it off my mind! Snow has never been my favorite, and with each passing year (and each additional child) I find myself liking it less and less. Dressing three kids for the weather is no small task. 😉

Last weekend, we had temperatures reach above 60 degrees. The sun, fresh air, and kids’ smiles were incredible! We moved into our new home the day before Christmas Eve and have not really had a chance to explore the outside. We took advantage and instead of driving to a playdate, we were able to walk! We are so blessed to have friends that live nearby. Our stroller holds two and Max was such a trooper walking with me; he even helped me push! After a little more practice, I may even let him try biking on our walks!

We also played in our own yard. The kids were excited to use some of their outside toys they hadn’t seen in awhile. The big hit was definitely the little red sports car (power wheels) we were gifted a couple years ago. Max is getting much better at driving, but continue to watch out for Gwenyth. 😉

We know it is not quite spring yet, but this preview was enough to get us thinking (and dreaming!) of the warm days to come!

Bowen “Bo” Timothy Rude

We welcomed our son, Bowen Timothy, on November 5, 2015. He weighed in at 7 pounds 15 ounces, measured 21 inches long, and made his debut at 7:44pm. We are so in love with our newest addition!

DSC_0950Big brother, Max, and big sister, Gwenyth, have been so good with him! They like to poke him, and to be honest, Bo doesn’t mind. 😉

More Pictures of life with Bo:

Bo’s Arrival Story (Skip if you don’t want the details… 😉 )-

On Wednesday the 4th, at about 3 in the morning, I woke up feeling regular contractions. I was excited at this point, knowing that my little guy was on his way! Bo’s birth was to be different from my prior birth experiences because I was hoping and praying for a successful VBA2C (Vaginal Birth after two Cesareans). As soon as I felt it was a reasonable time to contact people, around 7am, I let my mom know that she may need to come get Max and Gwenyth because it could be go time. She arrived and Jason and I headed to the hospital around 11am. My contractions were only about 10 minutes apart, but with this being my first attempt at a VBAC, they wanted me to go ahead and get to the hospital.

Upon arrival, I was barely dilated. The nurse had us walk around for two hours. Contractions continued to be about 10 minutes apart but became more intense. To much (Much, much, much) dismay, the walk did not improve anything. We were sent home and told to come back when the contractions were closer together.

The contractions never got closer together. They stayed 10 minutes apart but did become more intense than I had ever considered. I did not sleep at all that night and in the morning was desperate for some relief. We called in and they told us that we could come back in if we wanted to be checked again. We went in and my thoughts were that I just had to get this pain managed somehow. Well, to my surprise and delight (ha) I was dilated to a 4 and the nurse said they would admit me and break my water! I cried happy tears because I was just sure I was going to get sent home again.

I received my epidural, they broke my water, and I actually was able to take a nap. We had great nurses and after a nurse checked me (at a 5) she hung around and chatted with Jason and I for about 20 minutes. Right after she left the room, I felt intense pressure and told Jason he needed to go grab her, something was happening! Since my last check (about 30 minutes prior) I had gone from a 5 to a 9. It was go time!

There was a lady in the room next door who was also ready to push, so they told me it was a race. Long story short, we lost the race, but it didn’t matter. 😉 With the help of Jason, the nurses, a very sympathetic med student (who didn’t always know quite what to say), and the doctor, Bowen Timothy Rude arrived at 7:44pm and he immediately peed all over those who helped to welcome him into the world. Also, my uterus did not rupture, so yay! 😉

All three of my birth experiences have been incredibly different. (A planned C-section that came a week early, a C-section where I had to be put under, and a VBA2C.) All three have had their good points and bad. But each one has resulted in a healthy, beautiful baby and I am ever so thankful!


We Love You, Fall!

We have really been enjoying the cooler weather and are thankful for all the fun activities that this season brings along! One of the highlights has been a trip to Center Grove Apple Orchard with some friends. We went on a beautiful day and got to enjoy all the orchard has to offer; the corn pool, pedal tractors, the gigantic slide, jumping pillow, amazing donuts, and a tractor ride around the whole orchard! So much fun!

Here are some pictures from our fall so far!


A Summer Recap!

Today is the first day of school for many families we know, and so it seems that summer has kind of come to a close. Another hint is the fantastic cooler weather we have had for the past week or so. We are not ready to put away our swimsuits quite yet, but I thought it might be a good time for a recap of some of our summer highlights!

During the last week of July, our family joined up with the rest of the Rude family in Branson for our annual Rude Family Vacation. It is always such a great time spent with family, both immediate and extended.


Gwenyth, checking out Dolly Parton’s horse at the Dixie Stampede.


Max, enjoying a snack in our “vacation house” as the kids liked to call it.


The cuties riding a mechanical pig. Why not?


Gwenyth loves her cousin, Karis!


We all gathered at Chick Fil A to celebrate James’ birthday! It was so fun!

Another fun thing we got to do just recently was visit the Iowa State Fair with my sister and her two kids. We went on a day when the high temperature did not even reach 70 degrees. This pregnant mom did not mind that one bit!


My sister captured this moment of Max with a cow. Too funny!


Gwenyth is an animal lover to the core. She loved seeing all the animals, I think the baby pigs were her favorite.


My little chicks.


They had fun participating in the little farm set up. They followed a path doing various things that farmers do and at the end they were rewarded with $1 they could then exchange for a real treat!

Here are some more random photos. The kids love reading and their favorite spot to do so is in mommy and daddy’s bed. Always asking for one more story… love of books or trying to delay bedtime? Who really knows? 😉




This last picture is just a first in a new series I would like to call “When Selfies Go Bad.” Anyone else find random pictures taken by their kids on their phones?

We are having another… BOY!

In November, we will be welcoming another bouncing boy into our family! We are so excited! Max is so great, he has begun suggesting names and likes to talk to his brother through my tummy. Gwenyth’s love for babies has not dwindled in the least and we know she will be so happy to finally be able to hold a baby on a daily basis.

Summer always seems to go by so fast and it is hard to believe that we are already past the 4th of July. We have kept very busy with many outdoor activities including a few trips to the splash park, bike riding, farm trips, and visits to many local parks.


My three loves at the fireworks; blurry but the only one I got!


Gwenyth at the splash pad!


Arriving to the splash pad in style.


Making the big leap!


Big boy on a big bike!


Mommy, Gwenyth, (and baby boy!) at the parade!


Zoo train selfie.


Enjoying a frosty on a summer afternoon.


Visiting the animals at Grandma Karen’s.


When it gets too hot, you can find us at the library!


This year, my hands are very full whenever we visit parks. Max is so great at trying new things and enjoys climbing and jumping. Gwenyth enjoys doing whatever big brother does, so this means I am constantly walking around with my hands up in the air ready to give a boost or catch when needed.

Here are the two of them going down some slides.

We are looking forward to the rest of what summer brings and then will welcome the fall wholeheartedly as it means we get to meet our new little guy!

Expecting Baby # 3!

We are so excited to be expecting baby # 3! Baby is due November 14th, very close to older brother’s birthday.

What has been so fun about this pregnancy so far is that Max really understands that another child is going to join our family. He was a little too young to fully comprehend things with Gwenyth. Speaking of, Gwenyth, she is super into babies right now. Everywhere we go, she points them out. It is important to note that when Gwenyth mentions a baby, it is actually anyone remotely smaller than her. This is too funny when she wants to hold a “baby” that is maybe an inch shorter, a pound lighter, and has more hair than her. I will have to remember that I won’t be able to leave our new baby rolling around on a floor blanket unattended with older sister nearby!

Gwenyth has been told there is a baby in mommy’s tummy, but is a little impatient about when she is going to get to see it!


This was the announcement we made the day after Easter!

In other news, we are excited about the warmer weather! We have had some great days at the park and even got our little pool out! We are looking forward to more outdoor adventures this spring and summer!

Copycat Recipe: Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana Soup


This soup takes very minimal effort for the amazing result! Quickly, this has become one of my husbands favorite and most requested dinners!

What You Will Need:

  • 1 lb Italian Sausage (I use spicy or hot sausage)
  • 5-7 slices of bacon
  • 5 medium russet potatoes, sliced thin
  • 2 c kale, chopped
  • 1 c heavy whipping cream
  • 4 c water
  • (2) 14 oz cans of chicken broth
  • ½ large onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper

How it is Done:

  1. I typically start out by cooking both the sausage and the bacon. Crumble the sausage in a skillet and cook on medium high heat until cooked through. Drain and set aside. Fry up your bacon using the same skillet, or you could cook your bacon in the oven.
  2. While your meat is cooking, combine potatoes, water, chicken broth, onion, and garlic in a large stock pot and cook over medium high heat until potatoes are cooked through.
  3. Once the potatoes are cooked through, add the meat, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes. Potatoes should begin to break apart slightly.
  4. Turn heat to low and add chopped kale and cream. Heat through and you are ready to serve!

We typically enjoy this soup with some fresh baked rolls or crusty French bread!

*recipe adapted from Mom on Timeout

Valentine’s Boxes

Valentine’s Day is such a fun holiday to celebrate! It is all about love, warm fuzzies, giving, and letting people know they are special. My kids are still pretty little, but I still wanted to let them in on this fabulous holiday. We organized a get together with moms and kids from church and from various other play dates and planned to exchange valentines.

Here are the boxes that we made! By we, I kind of mean me. Actually half way through the project, my husband came home and asked who was having more fun, me or the kids. Does it really matter? 😉


Gwenyth (18 months) is a huge fan of cats. She loves our cat, Toodles, and screams excitedly when she sees cats in books or anywhere else! We made her box by googleing a cat mask and cutting it out. If you are more confident in your drawing skills than I am, you could always make one of your own! We printed it out on cardstock so that it would have some structure to it. We made the tail by cutting out two of the same tail like shapes from white construction paper and gluing them together around a pipe cleaner. I was tempted to use the cardstock here as well, but it didn’t have as much strength as I was hoping when cut into that long, skinny shape. The legs are made out of toilet tissue rolls that are covered in white paper and the feet are just hearts cut from construction paper.  Pipe cleaners for the whiskers, googly eye stickers and a puff ball for the nose.  A little glitter glue, and our kitty was all ready to receive her valentines!

Max (3) has always loved basketball. Really any sport, but it is basketball season so we went with that. We covered the box in orange construction paper.  (I got the boxes at Target, but I am sure you could find an old shoe box that would work just as well!) We used a toilet tissue role for the base of the hoop, covering two sides in order to put is name on the box. The backboard is cardstock and the actual hoop is a pipe cleaner. Max wanted to add the ball and I thought that was a great idea! I drew basketball lines on the orange paper (after the kids went down for naps, I had a nagging feeling that Max’s box didn’t really look finished, so I actually extended the lines down the sides of the box as well.) Some glitter glue basketball words on the sides and it was a “slam dunk.” 😉