LEMONADE GRANITA

If you're looking for a refreshing summer treat for you and your kiddos consider making a lemonade granita. It's like a slushy except you don't have to worry about all of the flavor going to the bottom. It's incorporated throughout. Levi and I are dairy-free as well, so it's a good alternative to ice cream. 

LEMONADE GRANITA

Β½ cup of sugar

1 cup of water

3 cups of lemonade made from Minute Maid Frozen Lemonade Concentrate

9 x 13 pan

Pour water into a saucepan, add sugar and bring to a boil. Boil for two minutes. Cool down your saucepan to room temperature. Meanwhile, make your lemonade by following the directions on the back of the Minute Maid frozen lemonade concentrate can. Pour three cups of the lemonade into the 9 x 13 pan. Add the cooled simple syrup mixture and gently stir. Cover with plastic wrap and place in your freezer. Every 30 minute give your mixture a stir. After about 2 hours you’ll notice a nice crystal texture. Serve in bowls or glasses garnished with a lemon slice or with some lemon zest. Enjoy!

END THE SCREEN TIME BATTLE

Raising your kids in the 21st century means that you will eventually have to confront how to handle technology in your home and answer questions such as, "Should my kid have an iPad? How much T.V. should they watch? Which shows are appropriate for their age?" etc. There are many thoughts on this issue, but one thing that we can all agree on is that at some point kids will need to learn how to use tablets and computers and learn how to be responsible with their usage. It's inevitable. 

Ryan and I both have jobs that rely on the latest apps and technology. You could say that way are early adapters. In fact, much of our home is automated using things like nest, Google Home, Alexa, Sonos and more. Our belief is that interacting with technology at an early age can greatly benefit their development and literacy, but it all depends on finding the right apps, the right shows and being a part of their screen time. 

We have an iPad that our kids use. It's password protected and it's monitored. They are never allowed to be alone with an iPad and they must ask permission. They also know their way around Alexa and Google Home, so at any given time you can find them asking to play music. Technology is something that they have come to love as well. 

Some of the apps that we love for Elle (age 4.5) in particular are:

- The OSMO app. It's ground-breaking technology that allows kids to use their creativity and fine-motor skills to draw, write and even code. What they create on the white pad is then brought to life by the app in real time and put into a story. It's incredible, and it's something Elle begs to do all of the time. 

- Monkey Preschool Lunch Box is another app that Elle started using at 3 years old. It really helped her learn shapes and colors. At the completion of every round you get to collect a sticker. That was always Elle's favorite part. 

- Bible for Kids app. It's an audio book for kids that reads to them Bible stories along with animation. It asks questions at the end of each story to help with reading comprehension as well. We love doing this together. 

- Infant Zoo is an app that both of my kids loved when they were babies. It works kind of like a rattle and makes animal noises. It's a very simple app, which is refreshing.

Our kids are allowed to watch T.V. Some days they will watch more than others. We try to keep it to just two hours of screen time day (one hour in the morning and one hour before bed). The shows that we love for our kids are:

- Storybots - a really funny educational show where robots ask big questions like,"Why is the sky blue or where do french fries come from." It's so funny that I love watching it with them. 

- High Five - It's a sing and dance along show that's not animated. Levi loves to dance with it and it's very educational. You can find it on Netflix. 

- Justin Time - An animated show where the character travels back in time and teaches kids about the history of the world and different cultures. 

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I guess you could say there really isn't a battle over the screen. We fully embrace technology and let our kids interact with it throughout their day. There's so much good to be found in letting technology be a part of your kids' lives. 

Photos by Rennai Hoefer

GIRL ROOM UPDATE

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When we moved into this house we assigned bedrooms to the kids based on size and proximity to our room. We put Elle the furthest away because she can be a bit of a light sleeper and it seemed like the quietest spot in the house (click to see Elle's original room). What we didn't factor in was that her room was the hottest of the bunch. It's above our garage and three of the four walls are exposed to sun. In the 100 degree temps it heats up pretty quickly. She had been complaining it was too hot at night, so we decided to switch her to our upstairs guest room. 

Though I loved her room the way it was her furniture worked perfectly with the pineapple wallpaper in the guest room. The pink flowers printed on the wall are the exact shade of pink as her duvet cover. And to my surprise, Elle loves this room even more than her previous one. She said it feels cozy. Music to my ears!

We hung up art work above her bed, kept her steamer trunks as a side table and used the marble and brass bookcase to store all of her books. I love how girly and feminine it looks together. It really is perfect for a little girl.

MARRIAGE ADVICE TO MYSELF

Dear Alex, 

Today, May 19th, is indeed a monumental, life-changing day for you, and you sure are one beautiful bride. And as the excitement and nerves run through your veins anticipating the lifelong commitment you are about to make, I thought I would put you at ease and let you know that 10 years from now you'll be celebrating this day in New York City with Ryan by your side. You have some wrinkles and some gray hair, but you I swear you look hotter than ever. You also have two beautiful kids (one boy and one girl) and you're living your dreams of styling professionally. Your life looks picture perfect in many ways - a dream life - if you will. It's a life worth celebrating and being thankful for every day. But, I won't fool you that the road to this 10 year anniversary has not been smooth. In fact, it has been very rocky.

You and Ryan are still standing, but there were times when you weren't sure if you were going to make it to "death 'til us part." So, I thought I would share with you some advice in hopes of sparing you pain.

Alex, up until this point, you were unsure if you ever wanted to put on a wedding dress, but when you met Ryan all of that changed. He is a person that believes and you and makes you feel important. He is so kind and patient. He possesses many qualities that you have dreamed of a man having. But you are also looking for someone that will love you unconditionally no matter your flaws, and I have to tell you that isn't the man standing before you. In fact, what you seek no man can fill. It's an unreasonable expectation that will cause you pain. Only God will be able to fill this in you. And instead, you are about to let each other learn and know one another so intimately that when either of you make a mistake it will hurt more than anyone else hurting you.  Your marriage is actually the complete opposite of unconditional love. It's set on a series of conditions to make it work (to have, to hold, to honor, to respect, to cherish, to obey, to love, to be truthful, to be faithful). So, my first piece of advice, is to go and heal the pain that you are carrying because much of your expectations and fears are derived from hurt that you never want to repeat. It's better to heal that now than later. Trust me. You need to know you are enough without a list of accolades beside your name, without your parents or anyone else saying you are enough.

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My second piece of advice is to learn how to forgive, how to ask for forgiveness, and how to turn away from your old habits when the conditions on which you have founded your marriage are broken. Despite what people may tell you, no amount date nights, endless talks on the couch, sex, quality time, counseling, supporting friends or acts of service can fully mend and support your marriage if you don't know how to handle mistakes. Sure they help and are a part of marriage, but only forgiveness, grace, repentance, trust and love can heal how you hurt one another. And, unfortunately, mistakes are inevitable. 

But here's the good news...You both have gone to the end of yourselves to find hope and healing for the mistakes you have made. You both are committed to doing whatever it takes to heal the hurt within yourselves and to forgive one another as God has forgiven you. It is truly a beautiful sight to see. It's what makes your marriage strong and victorious.

Sure, you're a bit bruised, the radiance somewhat lackluster. You have some scars, but you're also BAD ASS. You've stared failure in the face and said, "Not today." You and Ryan are stronger than ever. So, walk down that aisle with confidence and joy (like you will) and celebrate and never stop celebrating. 

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Oh, and P.S., you're going to regret a lot of the wedding decor choices you have made today because this new app called Pinterest is going to change your life in more ways than one. (wink, wink). So, just have a small wedding and save the rest of your money for those kids you'll be having five years later.

INTERSECT by Alex Evjen

Two finite lines, two directions
Collide at an intersection
Two become one, but stay the same
And head on a crash course of disarray
Overlapping, overpassing
With no directions or asking
They come to a halt, they breakdown
But turn to each other when life is upside down
And they mend, they meet
Face to face, feet to feet
No longer parallel
They know one another well
Now bold, finite beings
They grow old with meaning
On a course of unknown
Two lines are now one

TRAVEL STYLE

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When I'm packing for a trip I have to strongly resist the urge to pack my whole closet. I also have to resist the urge to shop for new clothes and remind myself that I have plenty of things to wear. So, as I pack today for our trip to NYC, I'm sticking with my basics. 

1. Black denim - It's comfortable, goes with everything and easy to dress up for a night out. ZARA has inexpensive denim that lasts.

2. Cotton T-shirts - They're comfortable, space saver for your carry-on, dress them up or down. My favorite place to buy them is ZARA.

3. Cross-body bag - They help keep you hands-free while you're carrying your luggage, small ones like this Fossil bag are easy to pack as well. I even can put this is in a big carry-on tote bag.


4. Shoes you can dress up or down - Walk shoes are a given when traveling, but it's shoes for the nights out that can be a challenge. I love mules and slides for this purpose because they are a more modern option than a wedge. I love these slides by Dolce Vita. 

5. Comfortable shoes - This needs no explanation really, but I usually opt for sandals in warmer months

6. LBD - It's timeless and you always know it's in style no matter what city you're in. 

7. Accessories - Tons of accessories because this is what will bring your basics to life and make you feel like you have a whole new outfit. (Mirrored sunglasses, smart watch, neckerchief, necklaces, hat). I don't mess with bracelets and rings though. They have a bad habit of getting lost on my travels.

8. Denim jacket - It's like the summer version of a black blazer. You can where it with dresses or pants and it always looks cute. My favorite denim jacket is from Target.

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Photos by Rennai Hoefer; This post contains affiliate links.