Melissa Kaylene: September 2013

Sunday, September 29, 2013

LEGO KidsFest is Coming Soon!!

   I remember playing with LEGO® bricks when I was a kid. My sister and I had one of those big red buckets full of colorful creations just waiting for our imaginations to take place. LEGO has grown and expanded over the years and has kept generations of kids happy. Now there are so many varieties of amazing sets for kids - and adults too.

   The LEGO KidsFest is stopping by Portland on their national tour October 11-13th at the Oregon Convention Center and I am very excited to share this experience with my kids. The KidsFest is a giant traveling hands-on experience for kids of all ages! The KidsFest has so many things to keep minds occupied and imaginations flowing, including: LEGO ramps, a games arena, live demonstrations, construction zone, LEGO Model Gallery (which I personally am looking forward to seeing) and the list goes on.

   The LEGO KidsFest is broken up into different sessions throughout the weekend and tickets can be purchased online now. The KidsFest usually sells out due to its popularity so I would recommend buying your tickets today so you and your family can have a fun-filled day together at a reasonable price.

   We are visiting the LEGO KidsFest on October 11th, which happens to be my husbands birthday! I'll be sure to share our adventure with you!

   Did you play with LEGO bricks when you were a kid? What was your favorite thing to build?

Full Disclosure: I have been compensated with a family pass to visit the LEGO KidsFest in exchange for two written blog posts. All opinions expressed are of my own.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Keep on Practicing...


Soccer is in full swing now, with four games and three practices a week between the girls. Emma is finally opening up during her practices and goofing off....having fun.....its good to see. She probably won't be the all star player, which is just fine with me. I've told her the important thing is to have fun, and to not be scared.

She has another game tomorrow.

We shall see.

During all of the games we've had so far she has been so shy that she just stands there on the field with her head down, chewing on her shirt, not moving. She tells me that she wants to do it. I hope she can work past her fears and learn to believe in herself and worry less of what others think of her.

Tomorrow there is also a big rain and wind storm headed our way, yet the games are on a scheduled (and pictures!) , and we'll be out there from 7:30-10am and 1-3pm.

This should be fun.

Wish us luck.

p.s. Noah will love playing in all the mud that brings. ;)


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Create.Simplify.Inspire. #35

Welcome back! Last week Create.Simplify.Inspire was MIA due to my crazy schedule, but we are back today!  If you are new and haven't linked up before, this is a page where we can share some of our favorite things we created, or things that inspire us. If you are a blogger, link up to your post. If you aren't a blogger you can also link up from your Instagram or other social media page that you share on. This is a weekly post for us all to share our inspirations. Thanks so much for helping me make this happen!

Create.Simplify.Inspire. #35

Willamette Valley Wonder Woman
<a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" alt="Willamette Valley Wonder Woman" width="250" height="250" /></a>

Monday, September 23, 2013

York Photo Trick-or-Treat Bags

As many of you know by now, I'm kind of completely obsessed with photographing my kid's life and adventures as they grow up and in our digital lives now, its so easy to do. One of the greatest things are online photo companies that allow you to use your limitless creativity to create albums, gifts, d├ęcor, and more all simply through a few uploads and option clicks.
York Photo is a company that does just that. They have been around for a long time and have had millions of satisfied customers. They offer a free secure unlimited photo storage area,  and over 100 different products that they can create with your images.
Right now York Photo is offering a Halloween Special for new customers. You can design your own Trick-or-Treat bag for your favorite goblin and its FREE with shipping as low as $3.99. PLUS new customers also receive 40 complimentary photo prints as well.
I think my kids will absolutely love having a personalized bag to take with them and fill with all their loot, and knowing my kids they will reuse it for all sorts of different things! Just use code TRICKTREAT when you order. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Walks and Trumpets

 1. Noah and Daddy walking home from preschool
2. Emma walking home from Kindergarten. She had to stop and peer across the road into big sissy Anika's classroom.
3. Anika and her trumpet. She started playing this week.
4. Me. In my fall gear. Heading out on a walk to get one of the kids. My new long tee from Maurice's and I'm in love. It's the comfiest thing ever.
Just a couple pics from my Instagram Lately.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Why Your Kids Need a Bedtime Routine

I've had a few emails with questions in the past asking me what I think is one of the most important things you can do for your children. I've thought a lot about this. Other than the obvious always encouraging them and loving them, one of the things that I am so glad we initiated early on was a bedtime routine.

There is many reasons for this, and it benefits my kids as well as myself. Why? It's teaching the kids routines, patterns, schedules...which ultimately will help minimize meltdowns and behaviors. It also is great knowing that unless a kid gets sick or something out of the ordinary happens, that by 9 pm every night things will be quiet in the house, and I can have time to breath and get prepared for the next day.

Of course the kids need reminded, a lot. But they are getting to the point where they just need to be redirected because they know what they need to do. Depending on how long it takes them will determine how long of a bed time story time they will get. We read to the kids every day, but the amount of time fluctuates, and occasionally they do run out of time and they don't get to pick out a bedtime story.

What does our routine look like? It's pretty simple really....but always seems to end up taking us an hour from start to finish when they are all tucked in.

1. PJ's on.

2. Pick out school clothes for the next day. (we set these out with their school bags so everything is together)

3. Nighttime medicine (vitamins)

4. Brush teeth and hair

5. Pick out stories!

6. Read. Normally we read two stories for the younger ones, and Anika reads by herself in bed for 15 minutes.

7. Hugs, Kisses, and Lights out!

Like I said, it looks pretty simple, but if we start at 7 or 7:15, they will squeak by and slip into bed by 8pm.

Kids are creatures of habit. Having a consistent routine before bedtime every night will reduce the ups and downs, fights at bedtime, and create a good sleeping pattern for them.

Do you have a bedtime routine for your children? What are some things you do that work well for your kids? Comment below and let us know!


Friday, September 20, 2013

Success and Exhaustion.

This photo depicts a successful purging in the girl's room. If you are a mom, you know that is a completely miraculous reason to celebrate.

If you haven't noticed, I've been virtually MIA for 3 days now. There was no Create.Simplify.Inspire this week, and I'm just now getting around to catching up on all of my emails.

Where have I been? Living the grand ol' day to day life. I had just barely gotten into the routine of all three kids in schools at different times, and then soccer started. Both of the girls are playing this year, which poses some large challenges with scheduling etc. for me to figure out. And you are completely dependent on the coaches to notify you in a timely matter for practices and locations.... so it literally has taken over a week to figure out their schedules. In fact I didn't even know Anika's until yesterday, and her first game is tomorrow!

I've been trying really hard to work with Emma. She says she wants to play, but she is so shy she does not participate with her teammates. In fact she will just stand there with her head down, not moving. It makes me so sad that her anxiety is getting the best of her. I do not want to push her too far out of her comfort zone, but on the other hand it is something that has to be done in a gentle, slowly, and confident manner. Continuing to encourage and praise her. I hope that will slowly build the confidence she needs to succeed (and I mean succeed as in what she deems as a success, not everyone else) I don't want her to miss out on the things that I think she will look back and have good memories of, simply because she was scared she would mess up and not do things right.

Slowly, day by day we try.

I don't normally talk about all things personal on here, but on top of everything else going on, my husband (who was laid off this year) has been doing part time odds and ends work. Well this month he was able to get full time hours...and you would think that would be better, right? He is actually making less than what his unemployment was. So financially things have been tighter for us.

Sometimes faith is challenging.

Lastly, between work and the kids, we also had Open House on Wednesday, and the P.T.S.O. sold T-shirts there. I couldn't tell you how much we sold, because after I left they quit keeping track! So guess who has to go back in to count the leftover shirts and money? I guess I don't understand why people don't see the importance of tracking your sales and inventory.

It's hard letting go of control because so many times when you ask for things to be done, it doesn't.

But life goes on. We've got a full schedule next month, as Octobers usually are. Where I used to take a day with nothing to do for granted, I now cherish the hour here and there when I don't have to do anything.

How is your transition to fall going?


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Willamette Valley Pie Company Harvest Festival


  Fall is coming, and with fall means one of my favorite family activities : Harvest Festivals, or as my children call them 'Pumpkin Patches'. Every year we have our annual places we visit. There's one the kids all go to for school field trips, then another small one right by our house. Sometimes we branch out and visit three!

 This year we've decided to pay the Willamette Valley Pie Company's Harvest Festival a visit! The Salem Festival is running October 3-31st and there is a long list of activities for the family, including the good ol' corn maze and hay rides along with a zip line, pumpkin tether ball, barrel train, and a corn cannon and paintball shoots on the weekends.

 Also on the weekends there's a variety of musical entertainment, helicopter rides, and even a dog day so you can bring the entire family.

  Something unique about Willamette Valley Pie Company's Harvest Festival is their theme this year,  "Make Life Better". They are also partnered with Salem's Isaac's Room, which is a local organization that engages local youth in many different ways. If you're from the Salem area you've probably heard of the family business behind Isaac's Room ... the IKE Box, which is a fabulous coffee shop. The Harvest Festival's 5 acre corn maze is an amazing tribute to their benefit partner.

  So, if you are looking for a new festival to try out, or are a returning visitor, I have a treat for you! A discount for $2 off one adult admission! My family and I will be visiting soon, and I can't wait to share our experience with you!

Full disclosure: I have been gifted a family pass in return for this promotional post, but all opinions expressed are my own.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

True Joy

I wasn't going to post today.

I was going to take a break. Rest. But after hearing some inspiration this morning I've got this heavy on my mind and had to share with you.

It's about joy.

Do you know what joy is? Have you experienced it? Do you feel joy now?

The problem with joy is that we have misinterpreted it in our culture today. We allow society to manipulate us into materialistic things that we think will bring us joy.

And while that may make us happy, it isn't true joy.

True joy is something inside of us.

It can't be bought. It can't be watched. It can't be mimicked.

True joy is defined by purpose.

Purpose that keeps us going. Makes us decide to wake up every morning.

Once we find our purpose, joy will come.

I know as far as myself, it's not easy. It's not just black and white or straightforward. But that is the formula. And once it's reached, its a feeling that could never be bought.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Ramblings Over Coffee.

I feel that life moves in too fast of motion sometimes and I want it to slow down.

Work, school, kids, extra curricular activities, and then volunteer work like me, who just had to say yes when I was asked to be president of our school P.T.S.O.

I love fall and long for it every year...hats, coats, boots, warm drinks, pumpkin patches, Halloween, warm days and cool evenings... but sometimes I do miss summer days when you could go two days in a row and not have anything planned. And somehow since its summer its okay. Because summer days are supposed to be lazy, right?

Fall days to me = fast. But I guess in some sort of way I love the hustle and bustle, since I long for this time of the year.

Every year I swear I'm going to get more organized. The house more clean. The kids in more routine (we actually do a really well job at this already)... the point is, every fall its like a mini New Year's eve... resolutions that probably stress me out more than not. After all, the house will be dirty 10 minutes after I pick up. The kids papers will still pile, and I know there will be ones I'm not sure what to do with. And routines are fabulous, but sometimes you gotta go with the flow.

Because what really counts is the memories we make.

The experiences we share.

After all, the kids won't remember that night when the dishes didn't get done. What they will remember was that one soccer game when Mom and Dad cheered as they made their first goal.

They won't recall the pile of laundry left on the couch. What they will recall is that time when we all rode on a hayride or found our way through a corn maze and picked out pumpkins to carve.

I have to tell myself these things everyday. In doing so I hope that I can take things one at a time and have things slow down a bit.

What do you have to remind yourself of everyday?


Friday, September 13, 2013

FBF // Easy BBQ Chicken Pizza

Every once in a while I'll scroll through some of my old posts and see what I've done and where life has taken me over the past year and a half that I've been blogging. So much has already changed. I'm glad that I have the ability to sift through the photos and thoughts to remember them by.

I came across a recipe I actually make pretty frequently for BBQ Chicken Pizza, and wanted to share it with you. It's great to have something quick to make on those night that you have games or other after school activities....and my kids actually like this.

In fact, this was the very first recipe I shared on Willamette Valley Wonder Woman (hence the grainy not-so-cool pictures) but try it and tell me what you think!


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Create.Simplify.Inspire. #34

Welcome back to week 34! I'm a little late posting this today, but as they say, better late than never. This week has simply been flying by and I've felt like I'm running behind a good 24 hours all week.

With that being said  I still love looking at all of the fabulous things you have created, and your amazing stories. (I always check and keep up with them on my phone!) If you are new and haven't linked up before, this is a page where we can share some of our favorite things we created, or things that inspire us. If you are a blogger, link up to your post. If you aren't a blogger you can also link up from your Instagram or other social media page that you share on. This is a weekly post for us all to share our inspirations. Thanks so much for helping me make this happen!

Create.Simplify.Inspire. #34

Willamette Valley Wonder Woman
<a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" alt="Willamette Valley Wonder Woman" width="250" height="250" /></a>

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Day Has Come.


Six years ago I was thinking about Anika entering kindergarten in the fall, and wondering what I was going to do having those couple hours to myself everyday.

Then shortly after we were very surprised when we found out that we were expecting with Emma.

Well that changed the whole Kindergarten thing a bit.

Then we had Noah, and well, ten years later after my eldest was born, they are all now in some form of school. Anika is in 5th, Emma in Kindergarten, and Noah started Preschool this past Tuesday.

Its not exactly the break I thought it would be.

Anika leaves at 7:50 for band practice. Then I leave at 8:05 and walk Emma to class. Then Noah starts at 9:00. I then pick Emma up at 10:45, and Noah is done at 11:30. Anika finally heads home at 2:50.  I can't tell you how glad I am that we live just across a soccer field to the grade school.

Noah's is only three days a week though, so Mondays and Fridays its just the girls. I wished we offered full day Kindergarten here, because I think Emma is completely ready for it (what is up with a 2.5 hour class day anyways?) ...and next year it will be offered.

My luck.

So anyways, long story short, there is a period of time from 9:15-10:30 that I am kid free. Hardly enough time to accomplish things like shopping etc., but still, a little over an hour to myself. Its a little weird. I can't even imagine how different things will be in two years when they are all gone all day.

Life flies by.

I just had to share their first day of school pictures with you!


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Hike.

A couple weeks ago my husband and I found ourselves with an afternoon kid-free (thanks dad!) and we took a little trip over to the coast where a friend told us of a short hike to a waterfall called Drift Creek Falls close to Lincoln City and Devil's Lake.
I haven't hiked much...and as long as they are fairly easy trails, I think I could get used to it. It took us about an hour total to go in and back, and it was pretty enjoyable. Sometimes just getting back into nature with no cell coverage for even an hour really helps clear your mind.
If you live in Oregon/ SW Washington are there any
trails you would recommend for beginners? We found a few more on our way home, but they were too long and we would have to schedule a day to do them.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Small Town Festivals.




This past weekend our town held its Annual Harvest Festival.
We've lived in the same small town for over 6 years now, and ever year I I'm here I think I love small towns more and more.
There's a sense of community.
 We all are neighbors. Even if I don't know your first name we still waive at each other while going down the road.
We celebrate together.
It was Anika's first time in a parade and she was representing our church's after school kid program. We all sat and cheered her on. They won two awards.
I like where I'm at in life. My kids are growing up knowing the same kids every year.
We walk to school.
This is exactly how I think my kids should be growing up.

Saturday, September 7, 2013


Just some reflections from another busy week of transitions.
This photo was taken two days ago while I waited for Anika in an appointment. The beginning of September and yes, I was wearing a hat and coat with a high of 62 degrees. It poured that afternoon. But this upcoming week the forecast says it will be back up to the 80's, possibly 90's...what can I say? Gotta love Oregon.
The beginning of last week I slowly recovered from our summer BBQ that we held Labor Day weekend. You know how you get that adrenaline rush that keeps you going and then when its all over and all the company leaves that everything just hits you? That was me on Monday.
Anika started school this past Wednesday, and Emma started Thursday. I'm so pleased to see them both happy and excited to be back in school. I think that Anika has what could be the best teacher she has ever had (my fingers are crossed). You know, it goes a long way to have a teacher all ready to go the first day of class, calm, prepared, and introducing himself to students and parents and shaking hands, as opposed to running around in class like they don't know who they are or what is supposed to be happening.
First impressions mean oh-so-much.
He appears to have everything thought of and organized. His class is like a little town, and has its own currency, jobs (which you have to apply for and interview for) and you must pay rent on your seat and chair. He teaches the kids how to handle money, and they have to "clock in" every morning on some app that gets sent and logged into his Ipad. And all the 5th graders get in class Ipads as well.
And it gets more exciting.
Her teacher has a Blog.
She says, "Mom, he has a BLOG for our class. He updates it and we get to go online and check's so cool."
I think we have another little blogger in the making :)
This year is going to be a fun-filled busy one. One daughter in her last year of Elementary school, the other in her first year; and my little Noah is now officially a preschooler. Anika is trying Band, and both the girls are starting soccer in a week.
I love fall.

Friday, September 6, 2013

FBF // 31 Fall Activities

fall fun activities
Hello! Today I wanted to share my fall post from 2012 with 31 fun activity ideas for you!