Thursday, July 6, 2017

fighting the good fight

"Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil."  - Ephesians 6:11

I have been lacking in armor lately. Frankly, I have just been "forgetting" or "too busy" and it honestly has taken its toll on me. I noticed something was missing in the beginning of June. I had grown irritable, crabby, short-tempered, lacking in love and just down right miserable. My family has certainly gotten the brunt of my attitude and it really STINKS when you start to notice that something needs to change...and that "something" is you.

When I went back to work part-time in January I slowly started missing more Sunday and Wednesdays at church due to being "too busy" and lacking sleep and down time. I also kept forgetting or was too tired to wake up early and get some devotional, quiet time with God. When I looked in my journal a few weeks ago, I noticed that I hadn't even written in it since MARCH. Which means that I hadn't had a devotional time of my own, in my bible since then. Whoa. From January- March my entries were hit and miss... probably 30 entries at the most. 

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."-John 1:1

So if the Word is God...and I hadn't been opening my bible to actually get in the word, my armor was slowly falling off. I had grown weak, and vulnerable to the enemy. Without God's word, and God himself to lead me, I had no plan of attack... not much to protect me either. I had basically stripped myself down and left myself open to the lies, to the anger, and unfortunately a lack of love. Don't get me wrong, I still loved my family, with all my heart actually, I just wasn't showing them. I wasn't taking care of my people the way that they should be. I was shouting more at my kids. I didn't care much about keeping my home. I grew irritable with my husband. I was fighting a war with the enemy and too weak to even notice that these things were happening.

After I finally realized what was going on, I knew that I NEED to fight back. I need to keep fighting the good fight. I need to stand up to Satan and let him know that he isn't welcome here. I need to open my heart up and surrender my time, my energy, and maybe even a bit of sleep to let God in. I need to be here for my family, fully present. I need to just open my bible and fold my hands in prayer, no matter what it takes. That is the only way I will be able to wear the armor of God and fight for this crazy, beautiful, precious and forsaken life that I have been graced with. Because without it, life is honestly miserable. 

God Bless friends, love you

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Holiday shopping out on the farm

I am obviously a little biased about this shop because the owner happens to be my aunt, but judging by others reviews she really has an amazing little gem right on her farm. Whether you are shopping to decorate your own home, for a gift for somebody else or just plain treasure hunting Whispering Acres is a great place to stop.

My Aunt Jill started her little shop out of her love for JUNK, as she affectionately calls it. Her home was quickly being taken over by all of her lovely treasures and out of her husbands concern for his space... they started a little shop out of one of their buildings on the farm. When you shop at Whispering Acres, you are helping a family near and dear to my heart. Not too long after they opened their shop, their gorgeous, big red barn was burnt to the ground by a fire. They were blessed to get most animals out but lost all of the contents and of course the barn itself. They are slowly rebuilding and it has come a long ways, thanks to their side income from Whispering Acres, and many, many generous and lovely people donating supplies, time, and money.
Since nothing can stop Jill from what she is passionate about, they keep opening their farm up, about once a month to shoppers. She is also open by appointment. Since both her, and her husband Jamie, have full time jobs besides the store, the weekends they are open vary but she does a great job of posting on Facebook to let you know when her open weekend is.
Jill really loves what she does and puts a lot of her time, energy and heart into everything she creates. She also has some beautiful furniture, cute vintage children's games, dried flowers, fun baskets and bins, small farm equipment... the list is never ending. 

Speaking of never ending list... their full business name is Whispering Acres TAILS and treasures... because of the many animal tails you will encounter while visiting the farm AND they run a small PETTING ZOO. They take their critters on the road for birthday parties, fundraisers, church events, town celebrations... you name it! Here is a peek at Oliver, AKA Ollie. He frequently roams all over the farm and also does a little trick. So, if your out there and see Ollie, ask to see his trick ;)
They are only open one more time this year, THIS WEEKEND! So be sure to make a special little road trip out to their farm for one of a kind treasures.

Shop local, and shop small this Holiday season friends!

Dakota XOXO

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Why you should shop local and one of my favorite local stores

I am sure you have heard the phrases "shop local"  "support small business" or "shop small" many times... BUT have you ever really stopped to think about what the really means or how it could impact those that you would supporting?

By making wise choices as to where I spend my money, I am making an impact somewhere close to home.  I can put money into a friends pocket by purchasing an item from her that she handmade, between diaper changes and filling sippy cups. I can buy a gift for somebody special from a family member who works for a direct sales company trying to pay for her daughters dance classes.  I want to support small businesses, around my local community before I run to a big box store and put money into somebody's pocket that I have never met.

That is how I found my friend Jojo. This lady has been such a blessing in my life, and in more ways that one! Since I have this passion for shopping local, I came up with the idea to start featuring some of my favorite local places, or my friends who are working hard to earn a buck by slaving over handmade goods or standing behind products that they love and working for a direct sales company. I might sound a little "commercial -y" but I am okay with that, and I hope that you are too! All opinions are 100% mine, this little series just came about due to my love for purchasing with purpose!

Let me introduce you to the lovely Jojo Meyer...
She owns a small shop in Beatrice called Jo jo's Where Shabby Meets Bling. Jojo and her husband live in the second story of this beautiful home and the store is located on the main floor. Beacuse I love people, and I absolutely love hearing peoples stories I asked her to share about herself! :) Here is Jojo's story:
"My name is Amy Meyer, I prefer jojo but answer to a variety of names including mom and Mother Bird. Born in the great state of Nebraska and raised in Iowa where my parents and sister Molly and her family still reside. My baby sister lives in Vegas with her family which is wonderful because that is where my only child, Zedekiah, has moved to. It's a great comfort knowing that family is nearby for him.
Upon graduating I moved to New York (Long Island) and began my first Nanny position.  Through the years I've worked for/with many families in numerous states and have met some amazing people. I created a business called Mother Bird (the name my son gave me years ago).  In a nutshell, I would assist families or individuals by doing whatever it was that made their lives easier.  While living in Colorado my days were rather colorful with clients. I was a Personal Assistant to a young 90 year old business man.  An overnight Nanny 2 times  a week to a Junior Ski Champion. I took on organization and decluttering projects for clients as well as holiday decorating.  People in the Vail Valley are busy people so I also assisted clients with weekly grocery shopping and errands.   A personal chef to an anesthesiologist and an as-needed Mary Poppins style Nanny to numerous locals in the Vail Valley as well as those visiting for "fresh-powder" skiing.  I could've worked 24/7 had we stayed living there longer I would've hired individuals to assist with clients.  Once we knew we were going to be moving to Beatrice I did months of research and searching for clients for Mother Bird in Beatrice.  They just weren't found.  Perhaps I was looking in the wrong places.  I ended up finding all my clients in about 2 weeks in  the Omaha area. It presented the obstacle of needing to live in Omaha 4 nights per week for work and I'd come back to Beatrice on the weekends.  Eventually the commuting took a toll on me and I began focusing on opening a store again.  A store that would contain things I love and also allow me to utilize my creativity which was something I missed after moving away where I owned a company called G'Wiliker's which catered to kids.  I provided art's&craft's sessions and parties as well as a Mommy & Me time.
Married to Kevin Meyer, a teacher and football coach.  I still laugh to this day when I think about how a certain someone said I was only dating him because he was a football coach.  I laugh because I know nothing about football and it actually puts me to sleep but I try to be a wonderful supporter for him.  I'll always be his biggest fan!"
What can you find at Jojo's? "Treasures and things created with love!  Vintage treasures, repurposed home decor, shabby chic furniture and home decor, jewelry by 2 artisans. darling children's items created by 2 women and awesome bird feeders using repurposed materials."
Who might enjoy what Jojo's has to offer? "Those who have an understanding of what it means to support local and why we all should support local.  Buying local is not a fad.  It's a way of life that keeps your town from turning into a ghost town.  Those who appreciate one-of-a-kind treasures and homemade creations.  Those who appreciate the creative mind,  People who don't care for a store filled with "from China" merchandise. Customers who respect and appreciate building up other women who are simply following their dreams, being true to themselves and embracing and making time for creating."
So... this holiday season, purchase with a purpose. Seek out the individuals who are putting so much effort into providing for themselves/family. 
How cute are these gift tags that she made out of vintage children's books? (I may have bought a few packages...) 
And this display was for the fall season but LOOK AT THIS, darling! 

Dakota xoxo

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Halloween and Fall Themed Books We Have Been Enjoying

With decor changes for the seasons, I like to also switch out the books in our book baskets. I keep one basket in the living room and one in the dining room. I leave 2-4 of our go-to books that the kids love in each basket, and then gather seasonal books from their book shelves and place them in the baskets so that they are easy to find. 
I wanted to share a few books that we have really enjoyed so far this season. I will try to link to them if possible too! I would like to share that I have only bought four of the books on this list. The others were gifted to our boys in some way over the past 5 years.

The only book I purchased brand new, and at full price, was "Five Little Pumpkins"  I found ours at Walmart last year. Parker kept singing a little tune that he learned in PreK...and then I came across this book with the same story, so I caved and bought it. It's surely a favorite though with its cute little rhymes.
I try to look for books at thrift stores, garage sales and our used book store. I LOVE buying LOTS of books, but our budget can't afford that many new I try to pay no more than $1 for a children's book. If it is one I have been hunting for, then sometimes I forget about my own little rule and break it ;)
Starting from the top left and going clockwise: 
"We're Going On A Leaf Hunt" by Steve Metzger - This is similar to We're Going On A Bear Hunt, and fun to read after we collect leaves on a walk. (gifted)
"The Best Halloween Hunt Ever" by John Speirs - This is kind of like a Where's Waldo or I Spy book. Parker and I both love these because the boys can do them without an adult since they don't know how to read. :) (thrifted)
"Johnny Appleseed: A Tall Tale Retold and Illustrated By Steven Kellogg" - It is hard to welcome Fall into our lives without talking about apples. (thrifted)
"Pumpkin Town" by Katie McKy - A fun story about LOTS of pumpkins. (gifted)
"Five Little Pumpkins" - Ours from Walmart last year came with a CD of "spooky" sounds but I can't find that one to link to.
"Sara Squirrel and the Lost Acorns" by Julie Sykes and Catherine Walters - This is another fun one after we have gone a walk and collected acorns. The illustrations in this book are super cute too! (thrifted)
"It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" by Charles M Schulz - My mom found this book for Parker a few years ago and it is fun! It has reusable stickers (see photo below) that they can place throughout the book! (gifted)
"Let's Shine Jesus' Light on Halloween" by Diane Stortz - This was either a gift from Parker's youth church leader or a prize from our fall festival at church, I can't remember but it is fun to ALWAYS remind our kiddos of Jesus, and so this will be a story that I will read again and again for years to come as my kiddos grow. (gifted) 
Happy Reading Friends!

Dakota XOXO

Monday, October 17, 2016

Fall Curb Appeal: On a Budget

I love seasonal changes. As each season approaches, I find myself saying that "I just LOVE... whichever season it may be"... I love them all and I am so glad that we live in a state where we get to experience all four.

To get in the spirit of harvest, pumpkins, and coziness we loaded our hoodlums up on a weekend and went to the local tree farm... who sells pumpkins in the fall :)
Each kiddo got one pumpkin that they will either carve or decorate when we get closer to Halloween. Plus we grabbed a few extra for cuteness :)

Parker decided he wanted a BIG WHITE pumpkin instead of a regular ole orange one... He must take after his mama! ;) Daddy had to help him of course.
This is seriously the best I could get with all three kiddos. 
After our trip to get pumpkins, they sat scattered around the entire front yard as the boys played "pumpkin patch" and their mother got enough gumption to place them strategically and look decent. ;) We had a cart load of pumpkins/gourds and three straw bales, this totaled about $45. BUT we did not have to pay an expensive admission fee to get into a fancy place with games, and such. Don't get me wrong, those places are fun, but with three kiddos under's just not something we need to do every year. Our kiddos got to enjoy the "experience" and fun that goes along with picking out pumpkins, and they don't even know that they are missing anything! So... this counts as "seasonal" budget costs and "entertainment" budgets costs in my book! 
This little corner of our yard that meets the driveway is a place that I love to spruce up each season. The lantern was found at Gordman's, about 7 years ago. Our scarecrow came from the thrift store, $2.
These little wood slices give a little more dimension and rustic look to a simple pumpkin. They were leftover from my sisters wedding and I took them off her hands for a couple bucks each. The chair they are sitting on has been around for about 4 years. It was a $4 garage sale find, and has been used outside the entire time it's held up great to the elements! 
The corn on the cobs came straight out of our field. They missed a few stalks so of course I made Jerrad drive me out there to grab them! 
Here is a peek at another little display, this is up by the garage. Leftover wood slices again. The galvanized bucket was a Tractor Supply purchase awhile back... they were on sale and cute so I needed it ... poor excuse but that is what I told myself. I have gotten plenty of use out of it at least. This past summer it served as a foot rinse before getting into the kiddie pool! Corn stalks, again, forgotten in our field... so FREE for my decor!
I also decorated our mailbox with a straw bale, corn stalks, and a few pumpkins and squash but forgot to get a picture of that :) Parker never seen me decorate it... so he told my cousin that our neighbor must have done it... HAHAHAHAHA!
Have you put any decor outside for the season? Let me know!

Dakota XOXO

Saturday, September 24, 2016

How I Keep Our Laundry Routine Natural and Frugal

Sorry guys - I have zero tips on how to make laundry fun. There is just nothing fun about it. Or dishes. But I do want to share some ways I have found to cut down on costs, while keeping many harmful chemicals away from our clothes.

I have a stain removal stick that I bought at a farmers market a couple years ago... although I am surprised it has lasted me this long. It is from Lomah Acres and is my "go to" method for pre-wash stain treatment. I just wet the stick, wet the fabric, and then rub together, followed by rubbing the fabric together. Most times I am able to completely remove the stain before the actual washing.

I also have some things on hand for other stain emergencies: hydrogen peroxide, white vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice. All of these items can almost always be found around our home and are great, safe alternatives for pesky stains. Of course, all very affordable!
I started making our laundry detergent, about 6 years ago. It has saved us a great deal of money and also helped keep some harmful chemicals out of our house, woohoo for that. My post on detergent can be found here, however I have changed it up a bit since then. After looking closer into the ingredients of Fels Naptha I decided to just grate homemade soap bars instead. When I do this, I use 3 bars of soap due to their smaller size. I make sure to only buy soap that has been scented with pure essential oils or plants, no artificial fragrances.This also gives the laundry a great scent and keeps my hubby from trying to make me add yucky fragrance to our laundry! 

I really like to use products that have multiple uses in our house. We don't have the space for a lot of different detergents, stain sprays, scent boosters, fabric softeners... But I can use hydrogen peroxide and baking soda for soooo many different things and both of them can ALMOST always be found in my house. Check out the post over on to find out how those two ingredients can be used to give your laundry an extra boost... because most of you know, I wash sweaty and cow manure covered clothes often, please just trust me on this one. (also, Live Simply is one of my favorite blogs, so I wouldn't blame you if you got stuck over there on the interwebs for awhile!)
This wooden tray sits on tops of the dryer and holds my large jar of detergent, and canisters of epsom salts, clothes pins, and the small one has my stain stick in it. 

To help soften things up I like to use 1/4 - 1/2 cup epsom salts in the washer with our towels or whenever I feel like a little extra softness wouldn't hurt. I like to add a couple drops of Young Living's Purification essential oil to my jar of epsom salts for the purifying properties, and the fresh and clean smell!

After reading about how bad dryer sheets are for us, I switched to wool dryer balls! They are my favorite thing about a natural and frugal laundry routine. They are made out of 100% felted wool. Since introducing them to our home about three years ago, I have only bought 7 dryer balls. The first set of three I bought at a flea market, handmade from a local farm, I cannot remember what this farm or their handmade shop was called. The newer set that I have was ordered off of Etsy, but they are from Ewe and Us, a farm here in Nebraska. The newer ones have held up better than my first set, so I would definitely recommend these. They are so affordable too! I still use and interchange both sets of dryer balls. Also, I can only imagine the amount of money we have saved in the past three years. Another tip if you are wanting an extra scent boost, add 2-3 drops of essential oil to your dryer balls... my favorites for this would be Lavender with our bedding, Thieves when a bit sickness is going around, Orange for a sweet/everyday scent.
Last, but certainly not least... Hang drying clothes can reduce your electricity costs AND it gets your clothing out in the fresh air! Dingy whites??? Hang them out in the sunshine for an hour or two and you will be amazed by the amount of brightness that returns!

Let me know if you try one of these methods or if you already do any of them at your home.

Dakota XOXO

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Homeschooling: Without the Toddler or Baby Eating Crayons

One question that I keep getting after people ask where Parker goes to school or what grade he is in and we respond by saying that he is homeschooled has been, "How do you do it with the little two at home?" I feel like this is actually a really good question. It was the first thing my hubby brought up when we discussed homeschooling. Honestly, at the time I didn't know how I would do it, but I knew that God was calling me to keep my boy home, so I came up with something to satisfy my husband. I would like to say that after a couple weeks... I feel like we will be okay!! I have not noticed any crayon eating, or paint eating... I haven't cried in the bathroom, or called my husband for back up! :) 

We have been settling into a good routine, and I feel like this has helped tremendously. We generally start breakfast and school at the same time with all three kiddos around the table eating, and me, reading. We start with prayer, recite our bible verse, story time, and read a little from our picture bible. Noah loves all of this and is very eager to listen. To transition away from breakfast we do a little "Rhyme in Motion" or "Fingerplay". This gets us up from the table to put away dishes and move around a bit. Noah is able to try and mimic the movements and has fun with it. 

After this we settle back down at the table while I start Parker on some things that he can do on his own. At this time I pull something out to keep Noah sitting at the table. So far it has been a puzzle of some sort. By now Aspen is ready to go down for a morning nap. I nurse her, lay her down and head back to the dining room table. 

Noah is most likely fed up with his puzzle and Parker finishes up his work to move on to drawing, coloring, or painting. This has been fun to work into our school work. I get to see Parker's imagination on paper, while he draws a "scene" from our story time or history lesson. Noah goes crazy with his project!!! :) I also have coloring or Do-A-Dot pages for Noah to do, that I will be using to introduce letters of the alphabet. He barely talks but has been pointing to letters all week saying "A". Hopefully it isn't a fluke and this next week he will be saying "B!". 

To give Parker a little independent break, I let him have free play for about 15-20 minutes while I sit down with Noah and a few board books. He has been into Lift-the-Flap books lately.

To kind of wrap up our "school" day, Parker comes back to do one-on-one work with me that requires more of my undivided attention. I like to pull out wooden building blocks or farm animals for Noah during this time to play on the floor with. It has been difficult to keep him on the floor and not the table, but it really helps Parker if he doesn't have his little brother, and toys, in his face when he is trying to concentrate. I may have been guilty of bribery a couple times in this situation... a snack works wonders. ;)

This brings us to lunch or Aspen waking up. We try to pick up our books and move on with our day.

So, I would say that we are doing pretty good so far! 

Blessings, XOXO