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.” 😉

Sleeping Cuties!

My cute little sleepers!! There is not much in this world that is cuter, more calming, and more irresistible to me than my kids sleeping. They have these amazing cheeks that become even more kissable when their eyes are closed.


Not even a diaper change could wake this little gal up!


Guess who! Think this is Max? Think again, it is Jason!! The apple did not fall far from the tree, my friends!


Max and Gwenyth’s cheeks came from their daddy.


Lights out.


She seems so focused on sleeping.


Couch naps are very common for Max.


Limbs, limbs, everywhere!


Tired out from shopping!


This was at a buffet! Don’t worry, she did wake and eat eventually!


This is her set up at her Great Grandma Kay’s house. What a loved little girl!


Sleeping Hard!



We had a great Christmas! When the holidays come around, Jason and I are often reminded of and thankful for the fact that we are able to live close to both of our families! We don’t have to sacrifice and get to see everyone! Thanks, Lord!

Our first Christmas was with the Rude family. We enjoyed a dinner, crafts for the kids, presents, and of course great memories! We are a pretty large group, so this year, we rented some space at a local park shelter and were all able to be in the same room at the same time! (Thanks for the pictures, Rachael Hall!)

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The Whole Gang ;)

The Whole Gang 😉

Our next celebration took place on Christmas Eve with the Stopek family. We went out to eat at a very traditional Christmas dining establishment (aka On the Border… 😉 ) Then, we went back to my parent’s house to open gifts and hang out. Celebrating on Christmas Eve is a long standing Stopek tradition.

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On Christmas morning, we were able to sleep in (how many more years can we count on that??) Max, after he finally woke up, helped me complete the homemade cinnamon rolls and we enjoyed those as we opened a few more gifts at home.

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We hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and is enjoying the new year! We are currently experiencing -8 degree high temps around here, lots of indoor time to make some use out of those gifts!

Our 2014 Christmas Card

Our 2014 Christmas Card

Family Night at the Movies

So for the past couple of months, every time we go to the mall or there is a preview on TV for the movie “Big Hero 6”, Max has been mentioning that he would like to see it. Last night, Jason had the idea to take the whole family as a new pre-holiday tradition.

Max has only been to the theaters once before and it was when he was pretty little. Gwenyth too, has been just once before but was also to small to remember. We had faith that Max would make it through the movie but planned on Gwenyth not making it very far.

This was a surprise to Max and even as we were getting popcorn, I don’t think he was fully aware of the fun he was about to partake in. He was instantly impressed, as was Gwenyth, and they both thoroughly enjoyed the Disney short that preceded the movie; it was about a dog who liked to eat.

Both kids had a small cup of popcorn and as Max sat in his own seat, enthralled with the film, Gwenyth was lounging on my lap, more focused on getting the popcorn into her mouth. Eventually, she did loose interest and we walked the halls for the last third of the movie.

As we were walking about the theater, she made a new friend. She was so pleased to be able to reach and touch the dog on the “Annie” advertisement.

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Overall, the experience was great and we even topped it off with a trip to the Pizza Ranch. Great addition to our holiday lineup. 😉

Max is Three!

Max Robert Rude is three years old today!! I am so thankful and so happy to be his mom. He is such a great guy! Some of my favorite things about Max are:

  • His Kindness: He often shares his favorite toys with his sister, even when he isn’t asked. When she cries, he always wants to know why and tells her that it will be ok.
  • His Sense of Humor: Lately he has really started to comprehend when things are funny or a joke. He will say something and then follow up with, “Just joking, mama.”
  • His Love for His Family: He always wants to be with his family. He will say he wants to go places and then list the people he would like to join us. The way he says his sister’s name is “Gwen-it.” She is often included in this list.
  • His Bravery: He will go into dark basements, help me kill bugs, climb to the top of playgrounds, and likes to meet new friends. I admire him for this!
  • His Desire to Learn: He loves when we work on school work. He gets excited to learn new letters and will point them out throughout the day. He is also doing an AMAZING job MEMORIZING verses for the Awana program at church! He has said every verse so far and when he hears a past verse repeated during church or at Bible study, he will say, “That’s my verse!”
  • His Memory: He remembers everything! He likes to tell stories when we go through photo albums and will always remember where a missing toy is!

There are so many other things that I love about this little guy and even as I am typing different, fun stories are coming to mind. I meant to only include a couple pictures of the last three years, but I couldn’t choose between all of them! Here are some of my favorite moments of being Max’s mom!


Max on his “birth” day. Those long fingers and sweet old man face had me falling in love the moment I meant him.


One of my favorites. All his chunk on display.


This boy still loves a good nap in mom and dad’s bed.


This picture captures his personality so well. “Dump a bucket of cold water on my head. Its all good.”

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Displaying his “Max” face.

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His first purchase at Target!

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State fans.

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and Drake fans.

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Cleaning House


Have you ever thought something was such a good idea on Pinterest that when you go to pin it, a little message pops up saying, “Psst… You have already pinned this.”? One of those pins for me has been a cleaning schedule. With two full blown toddlers in the home, my house could use a regular scrubbing. My home is generally picked up, but I feel like I never get to those really deep down, scrubbing on my hands and knees, kind of tasks. Or at least not as often as I should. Often, when I get started cleaning it goes something like this:

Pull out the old cardboard wipe box that is falling apart from the top shelf of the coat closet, have several items fall on my head, reach inside and find some random cleaning supplies. Realize that before I can scrub, I must pick up. Pick up a toy in the living room and take it to Max’s room, only to find an unmade bed, make bed and find a sock, go to put the sock in the laundry hamper and realize the nearby trash can needs emptied, go to find a new trash bag in the kitchen and see all the dirty dishes waiting to be washed. Wash some dishes and when I need more soap, look under the sink for more soap only to realize I am out. Pull out notepad and start a shopping list. And it goes on and on.

All this running around leads to very little cleaning and an overwhelming sense of failure when I put that old cardboard box back in the coat closet accomplishing only a made bed and some wet dishes.

Deciding something needed to change, I decided to create a schedule. One room a day, or one section of the house, and that is it. I scoured Pinterest for the best schedule, coming to the conclusion that in order for it to fit my house, I was going to have to create one on my own.

I began by taking a paper and pencil and walking through my entire house, room by room. I wrote down everything that needed to be done (as I resisted the strong urge to do it all!) I typed up my list and put it in a sheet protector so that I can use a dry erase marker to check off each item when I am done!


My cleaning schedule. Very simple.

After making the list, I made another list of cleaning supplies that I would need for my house, checked my coupons, and headed to Target! Purchasing two different caddys seemed like the best option because I could keep one in the kitchen and one in the bathroom. I filled them both with:

  • Microfiber Cloths (Up and Up at Target has a great multipack!)
  • All Purpose Cleaner
  • Dusters (I like the Swiffer kind)
  • Windex TouchUp (So simple to use and have out!)
  • Paper Towels
  • Magic Erasers (I got the Up and Up brand, why has no one told me about these before?? They are awesome!!)
  • Furniture Polish
  • Glass Cleaner
  • Carpet Cleaner
  • Sponges
  • Odor Eliminator
  • Empty Grocery Sacks for Garbage
  • Gloves
  • Toilet Bowl Cleaner
  • Small Dustpan

There are many other items that might be home specific and I look forward to making some of those “make your own cleaners” I have pinned… someday!

I am almost two weeks into this and I love it! It is so nice to focus on one space per day and have a super clean house by the end of the week! Sometimes, I have Jason guess which day’s room it was when he gets home from work. 🙂 I feel very accomplished and know that at some point during the week, things will get done and I don’t have to race around my home or try and remember what still needs to be done.

Hope this inspires you to create something that will work for your home! 🙂

Day Out with Thomas


We surprised Max on Sunday with a trip to the Boone Railroad to see one of his favorite characters… Thomas! As we got close to the station, we began to hear a train whistle. Whenever Max hears a whistle, he always says it must be Thomas. We got out of the car and heard the whistle again, Max was still convinced it was his pal, Thomas. After rounding a corner, there he was in all his Thomas glory. Max could not believe it!! He was so excited and began jumping up and down immediately when he saw him! To Jason’s and my delight, Gwenyth started pointing and smiling too! Who knew she was such a big fan as well??


The day included not only a ride on Thomas, but fun activities like meeting Sir Thopham Hatt and getting a wheel with all the Thomas and Friends characters on it.


Max continues to talk about riding “Big Thomas.” He says he would like to do it again. Good thing both him and Gwenyth are now certified Jr. Conductors!


Daddy and Max with some of their friends!


Max and Daddy waiting to meet Thomas.


Gwenyth loved the train ride and even stuck her head out the window a couple of times…


Such a fun time! I love getting to do something fun with my whole family! What a treat it was!