Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Too Many Dave's

Yesterday we did our civic duty and #voted!
We saw a bunch of people we knew working the polls, Spence was with us and one lady we knew asked if his name was Spence, he said yes.
She said "did you know my name is Spencer? And I have 5 boys named Spencer!" (last name in case you're wondering).
He thought that was pretty great, 5 Spencers! And kept saying "and my name's Spencer too!"

It reminded me the story of Mrs. McCave who had 23 sons and she named them all Dave.
Read it HERE.

Perhaps we'll start calling Spencer Marvin O’Gravel Balloon Face?

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Artsy Fartsy

I'm really into Adobe PhotoShop and Illustrator lately. I realize I'm just barely scratching the surface of all the things it can do, but I'm loveing it! In fact, I just finished helping with a local health clinics fundraising dinner and auction, I did their invitations, RSVPs and program for the evening.

Though I wouldn't consider myself an artist, I am pretty happy with the results as of lately. I even designed our family Christmas card this year, any recommendations on where to print them for a reasonable price?

Anyway, here's a few of the projects I've done lately. It's about time for another one!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

5 Favorite Gift Ideas for Kids

My son's birthday is coming up and I was stressing out bad about what to get him! He has plenty of average toddler boy toys like cars, trains, blocks, and his favorite...DINOSAURS! So what do I get him?? He's finally old enough to understand he's having a birthday, he even got invited to his first friends birthday!

So here's 5 favorite gift ideas, in no particular order, for young kids!

1. Books

There is never an occasion when a book isn't a great gift idea. They're fun, imaginative, and can be used again and again! Plus, they're easy to wrap! Some of our favorites include:

Dear Zoo

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

Little Blue Truck
(or the Halloween version Little Blue Truck's Halloween)

Where the Wild Things Are

Is Your Mama a Llama?

2. Puzzles

I love puzzles and I think they're the perfect activity for the colder winter months when its wet and dreary outside. They make you think and problem solve and some of the children puzzles are cute!
You can pretty much find puzzles anywhere, I love to check out Target's clearance toys and games for them! Amazon also has a great selection. I just bought this T-Rex 3D one for my son's birthday and I can't wait to give it to him!

3. T-shirts

This seemed like such a "duh" once I actually thought  about it. Kids grow so fast they almost ALWAYS need or could use clothes. I got one nice, dressy shirt for special occasions, and one fun, play shirt (dinosaur of course). I'm always a fan of Carters and Old Navy for great deals and cute stuff (I just got next years swim shirt for $1.97)!

4. Play-doh

I was hesitant to let this stuff into my house. I thought it was just messy and would cause me stress. However, I've been pleasantly surprised since allowing it into my house. It's not that messy, easy clean up, and entertains for hours!
Bonus: The mini cups make excellent Halloween handouts if your trick-or-treaters need a candy alternative!

5. Outdoor toys

This is my favorite category of toys! Anything to get us outside playing! The sandbox has always been a major hit at our house, even in the fall my son runs outside in his undies first thing in the morning.
I often have to remind him it's not 90 degrees anymore, clothes are required! This year we got a scooter and I am dying to let him have it already!! In addition, helmets are always a good idea in conjunction with bikes, pogo sticks, skateboards, and scooters!


Happy shopping!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Stroller Shade

trying out the stroller shade extender
In the spring of 2014 I had a 6 month-old baby and was starting to get into running. I had a decent stroller, but the canopy to shade my fair skinned baby just wasn't cutting it. I was getting ready to run my first 5k, a "push 5k" in July (push as in strollers, moms/parents were supposed to push their babies while they ran). There was no way I could run the race without my baby getting completely burnt!
stroller shade extender in action
So I found THIS awesome stroller shade extender and it was perfect! It gave me an extra foot of shade and was my alabaster babies saving grace during my hot, sunny, loooong first 5k. :)
It also fits on carseats (disclaimer, I've never tried) and comes in fun colors like blue, green, red, pink, etc. and best of all it folds up nicely so you can easily take it with you or put it away when you don't need it! Bonus, it blocks UV rays as well!

I'd give it 4.5 stars, its made out of a lightweight nylon stretch material so it fits just about any stroller which is super convenient, and it has a buckle and two hooks so you can secure it. My only negative comment about the stroller shade extender is that in strong winds its a bit flimsy and just folds back on itself, and that I can't very easily leave it on my stroller when I need to fold my stroller up to put in the car and go somewhere. Other than that, LOVE it!

I Have No Cat in this Fight

A recent news story reported on the disappearance of cats from a neighborhood on the east side. Somewhere between 25 and 30 cats have gone missing in the last few months. Cat owner's are distraught and concerned. A sound bite quoted a cat owner saying that she was a responsible pet owner and that her cat was like her child. This news report was very biased and one sided. It was reported as if there is something wrong in that neighborhood that needed to be stopped. I live in the west end, but here's my opinion about the story that the short sighted news station missed.

Having a pet requires responsibility from a pet owner. A responsible cat owner would not allow their cat to trespass on another person's property, just like responsible dog, rabbit,  or sheep owner's. If you want to have a pet you must be responsible for that animal. Too many irresponsible cat owners let their cats run wild in their neighborhood under the guise of "they're just cats".

Your cat may be like a child to you but it is not like a child to your neighbor. It is a trespasser and a nuisance. The stench of cat pee in a flower bed or doorway is not pretty or desirable. Worse is the sight of cat poop in a sandbox where real children and grandchildren play. If I don't own a cat and I have cats trespassing on my property to pee in my yard and poop in my sandbox, it is up to me as a responsible citizen to trap that cat and have the humane society come and pick it up. The humane society picks them up for free all day long and are quite prompt in response to a phone call.

A cat owner that lets their cat roam free is not a responsible pet owner and is part of the problem in the community. A home owner that traps trespassing cats and has the humane society pick them up is a responsible citizen and is part of the solution. The news report, like most reports nowadays, focused on one half of the issue, as if it were a travesty. This is a non story and is happening all over the valley. I have an acquaintance in South Boise that has trapped 14 cats in her small backyard, just trying to keep her kids from playing in a sandbox full of cat poop, and trying to keep her 2 chickens and a rabbit alive. The rabbit is now dead but her pets do not leave her yard.

Side Note: The one positive thing I got out of this news report: The cat owner interviewed for this story stated that her cat was like her child. This made me feel like a much better parent. As a parent raising children, I cannot remember one time where I opened my door and let one of my children wander over to the neighbor's yard to pee in their garage or poop in their sandbox. Maybe I wasn't that bad at parenting after all.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

3 ways to make an extra buck online

I always like to have a couple extra spending bucks and so I do some "funky" things to make a little extra, and thought I'd spread the word in case anyone else needed ideas!

1- Inbox Dollars

This is a survey site.
I've done this on and off since 2013 and made over $200. By no means am I getting rich off of this, but it's easy and it pays for a date night, or a babysitter, or just pads the bank account. I spend about a half hour each day and make about $30 a month. There's tons you can do to earn money but I only do 4 things:
       - check emails
       - watch videos (on mute and in the background)
       - spin the wheel
       - take surveys
(and I enter their sweepstakes with the free entries they give me but I never win)

Here's a real peek inside my account

Interested? Learn more or sign up HERE

I've also heard decent things about Vindale Research and Swagbucks.

2 - Ibotta

This is one of my new favorite things because it's a money saver, and I am a saver! I love a good deal, a sale, or just saving money on things I'd buy anyway, which is exactly how Ibotta works!
You go shopping like normal, grocery or elsewhere, come home and check the stores you shopped at for "rebates". Usually it's only about .50 per item, but it adds up! And like I said, it's stuff I would have bought anyway, like onions, milk, cereal, bread, eggs, you get it. Here's a screenshot from today.

Check it out HERE it's kind of fun and super easy!

3 - Toilet Paper Rolls

This is the real reason I call these the "funky" ways to make or save a buck online. This one I thought was a bit of a stretch, but it seems to be legit! People will PAY for your old toilet paper rolls...what?! Again, not going to make a lot of money off this one, but for something that I am always going to buy anyway, I figured it wouldn't hurt to get a little something in return! Turns out there's a market for them on ebay!

Any other "funky" ideas I should be trying?

Monday, May 16, 2016

Being happy in the moment.

I think there's two kinds of people,
those who are consumed with today and what's going on now and getting through this moment.
And then there's people like me who live in the future.

I tend to worry about 5 years from now way more than I worry about tomorrow.
I wouldn't say that's bad, except sometimes I get so caught up in the future I forget about having fun and living life in the here and now.

I remember being 24 and single (man I felt OLD) and talking to a friend about how life would be SO much easier once I was married. Life would just be figured out and we'd live happily ever after.
Fast forward a year or two, we are both married and having a conversation like "hey remember when we thought life would be so much easier once we were married and now we're married and we remember how much easier it was to be single?"

Turns out I don't think there's any life events that can make you happy. You have to find the happiness in the midst of life.

This is one of my new favorite quotes, you are responsible for your attitude, your emotions, and ultimately your happiness. No one, no thing, no event, no amount of anything can make you happy. So just do it for yourself.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Be somebody who...

Do you ever wish you could redo certain events or situations in your life? 
Maybe it's just me, but I have a handful or memories that I'd really love to go back and do over, 
I'd even take a mulligan for them.
Most have to do with me not being the nicest person,
hurting someone's feelings,
talking poorly about somebody whose situation I didn't know,
trying to "get even" with somebody.
Worse yet, ignoring someone,
not taking the time to get to know people.

Thankfully, I have a few redeeming memories.
I remember in elementary school some kids a grade or two younger than me were making fun of a boy for having a hairy tongue. Which is sort of humorous now, I have no idea if he had a hairy tongue, but I remember telling them to leave him alone, and they did. The boy then proceeded to follow me around for a few days.

Being shy certainly didn't help. 
I wish I would have talked to more people, 
been nicer, 
made more friends, 
said some things I wanted to to some people, 
and not said some things I did to others.

Some people have a way of befriending everyone and making them feel important. 
Some of us are trying.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Favorite Thing Friday

I'm super excited to tell you about one of my newest favorite things for kids. A few weeks ago a friend posted about it on Facebook so I thought I'd check it out, and I'm so impressed, one of the coolest kid toys ever!
It's called Water Wow and its by Melissa & Doug, so you know it's good!
Also, they have a 5 star rating on Amazon with like 500 reviews.

Here's how it works:
It's a spiral notebook of heavy-duty cardboard pages and a chunky "pen".
It has a paintbrush like tip so it isn't really a pen, but that's what they call it.
You open the pen and fill it with water.
Then, each page is a plain white picture that when you color on it with the pen, color comes through!
At the end, you end up with a really vibrant, colorful picture and with no mess and no chance of kids coloring on things they shouldn't!
The best part it when it dries, which takes maybe 2 minutes, it turns white again so you can color again immediately!

I bought a pack of 3 for $15 but I just saw they're on sale for like $12 HERE

We only let Spencer use these at church on Sunday's, so it's a special treat for him.
But we have a road trip coming up that I think they will be an excellent distraction for as well.
I've also heard they're great on airplanes.

Here's a little video to see it in action (from my phone so its a little blurry, sorry).

Thursday, May 12, 2016

"The things I used to trip on, I walk over now"

I love this quote simply because it tells me I can overcome anything.
I remember working at the Boys & Girls Club and there was a quote on the wall that said,

"Use it to your advantage, abandon it when it becomes your limitation."

That has always stuck with me, to always be on the lookout for what's helping me or hindering me.
Life can be hard but we often make it harder on ourselves than it needs to be when we let our weaknesses hold us back.

I have this somewhat irrational fear of being attacked by a wild animal. A few summers ago we were camping at a yurt and I was left alone with the baby at a campsite while Nate and my dad went to get the rest of our camp stuff out of the truck. I'm pretty positive I saw a mountain lion on the hillside opposite of where I was and it totally freaked me out. I went and hid in the yurt for some time, sure that the lion was coming for me.

Funny now, but it wasn't the first time fear had paralyzed me and kept me from enjoying what I was doing.
I often fear getting chased or attacked by a dog while on a walk or on a run.
I'm probably about the only weirdo that worries about things like that, but some days it keeps me from going on the walk or run!
I don't want to feel trapped inside because of things that "might" happen. I want to enjoy everything! So here's to living life anyway and not letting things hold me back and overcoming my silly fears!

I recently heard another mantra that goes along with this too,
"The universe is for me, and so is everything else."

I'm going to take advantage and make the most of life.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


Yesterday was a rough day. 
I didn't get enough sleep, I ate like 5 more cookies than I should have, I couldn't focus, and I just wanted to go back to bed!
So I did my daily yoga, I took a shower, started some laundry, and made dinner.
I started to feel better.
I got more motivation.
Then I watched my little boy ride his "bike" (which is really more of a big wheel and his feet don't quite reach the pedals so it's entertaining).
We went for a walk and enjoyed the sunshine.
We watched the ducks in the canal, we kicked rocks, and we enjoyed life.

It's all about recognizing the good because there is beauty all around!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016


Nate: When I die I only want to be kind of buried.
Me: Kind of buried? Like with your toes sticking out?
Nate: Or maybe my arm...yeah, my arm.

(but then he told me in all seriousness he'd rather be "dumped in a heap" up in the mountains...I'm not sure which I prefer actually.)

Ordering groceries online!

If you have kids, you know the hassle of trying to grocery shop with them. I know many moms who wait to grocery shop until the evening when their husbands are home to watch the kids so they can go in peace. But sometimes you just can't wait, you need something NOW!

Wal-Mart now has grocery shopping you can do online and then go pick up! What a wonder! I know so many moms who say this has changed their lives! It sounds silly but 2 or 3 little kids not only already fill the cart, but they squish things, they whine and cry so everyone stares at you, they throw things out of the cart, or grab things you don't want or need.

This is a wonder! I just did my first order and it was awesome! I found everything I wanted from the comfort of my bed! How easy is that? And the best part is, you can get $10 off your first order by using by using the code REALEASY
Try it, it will change your life!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Be happy.

I remember thinking like would be so much better and easier when I was "all grown up". And here I am, mostly grown up, and that is not the case.
Life is hard!
I took the round-about way to adulthood, and it has been a struggle.
But I keep hearing and being reminded that one day I'll look back on these tough, broke, busy, sleepless years and think "those were the days".
So today I'm just taking it all in and enjoying these moments to be alive.

Sunday, May 8, 2016


It wouldn't be right to let this Mother's Day pass without acknowledging not only my mother, but every mother and woman who has sacrificed, given selflessly, loved unconditionally, and been there consistently for not only their own children, but other people's children as well.

I'm probably the least musically inclined human on the planet, but my mom is the opposite and try she did to instill the love of music and all good things into her children. This song will always be my favorite tribute to my mom and all moms.

She Put the Music in Me

Edit: I just found out one of my cute friends from high school wrote a little song so I'm sharing it too!

Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 6, 2016


As a kid I loved to read. I remember reading everything from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to Hank the Cowdog. From Harry Potter to Watership Down. As I got older I fell out of friendship with reading. I got busy and it lost priority.

But what better way to experience new places and new adventures than by reading? Open new doors, new experiences, new ideas, by opening a book!

Here's a peek at what's on my reading list:

Want to see the rest, click HERE!


Greatest thing.

What's your favorite book?

Thursday, May 5, 2016


As a kid my mom forced me to take piano lessons. Every week I dreaded the day the piano teacher would come for my lesson. I remember her beat up old car pulling up to the curb, her hair pulled back into a barrette. I would hunker down hoping my mom would, you know, let me skip this week's lesson.

I'd sit down at the piano and start sweating. I hadn't practiced and I was so scared the piano teacher would be upset about it. She'd listen to me struggle through a song, one wrong note after the next. When she finally got sick of it she'd curl her lips under and bite her mechanical pencil between them while she played the song for me so I could hear how it was supposed to sound.
Then she'd have me try again. And again. And usually one more time. Probably because she knew this was the only practicing I'd do all week.

She'd flip her thick hair back behind her shoulder and write more notes in my spiral notebook for what I was supposed to do and which songs to practice for the upcoming week. She'd tell me to trim my nails, and then she'd leave.

I hated the piano.

I'm not exactly sure when I was finally able to quit. It was at least a few years I was forced to play. Then after a few years of a break there was a new teacher and the lessons started again. I quit for good sometime at the beginning of junior high. I was so happy to finally be done with piano lessons!

I wish I had been forced to stick with it. Actually, I wish I had had the motivation myself to want to be good at it, to want to develop a talent. I wish I had been less consumed with trying to be "cool" and watching too much TV that I would have developed an interest in the piano.

Piano players are graceful, they're even said to handle stress and criticism better. Playing the piano teaches self-discipline. It gives kids an outlet as well as a hobby to keep them out of trouble.


Greatest thing.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016


In July 2014, I ran my FIRST ever 5k! It was brutal and took me like 45 minutes (hey I was pushing a stroller!). My only goal was to finish the race and to RUN the whole thing. And I DID!
It sparked something in me, but for the first time in my life I actually enjoyed running!
I kept at it and in October 2014 I ran my first 10k, then in April and May of 2015 I ran my first half marathon!

That's 13.1 miles of straight running!
My time was 2:29:01 which I was proud of.

I was in the best shape of my life, even after having a baby, and I felt wonderful!
There's something about running and pushing myself that just felt great.
I was so impressed with what my body could do (more impressed then than when it pushed out a baby even).


Greatest thing!

Starting Over!

It's been a few years, but I think it's time to revamp and bring back the 'ol "Greatest Things" blog. I want to inspire myself to do better, be better, and feel better. But I also want to share the things I love (and hear what you love, too!). I want to start collaborating with fellow free spirits to get the most out of life!
I'm reviving this dead horse, and we're off to the races to make life worth living by spreading the things we love!