when i wanted to do a family newsletter last year i set out looking at my options. i’m always looking for the cheapest (or freeest) way to do things. i am not enough of a photographer or graphic designer to feel justified investing in Photoshop, but from looking around it seemed that was really what i needed if i was going to put the newsletter together on my own. so i found a free alternative: GIMP


i work on a mac. it took a little bit of tech-saviness to get the download unpacked, installed, and launched but they do a good job of leading you through the process. (hey its free, can’t be too easy)

then i took a family newsletter i had found on pinterest that i loved and went to work making changes to it. this particular template was the photoshop file (.psd). when i opened it in GIMP it automatically converted it to a .xcf, which is their equivalent to .psd. all the layers Lacey had used in creating it were there ready to personalize.

problem was i didn’t know the first thing about using GIMP. luckily youtube is the land of tutorials. i watched a few beginner videos on using GIMP:

Edit text on image  (the file i chose had some text in image format, not typeable, so i had to use the eraser tool to erase, for example the name of their family, and type over the white space the name of our family)

GIMP tutorial

How to download fonts (i needed to add some unique text, not only edit already existing text)


How to move objects (learned how to move around the boy graphics so they lined up nicely)

Gimp for beginners

with a little trial and error i changed this

e8544a2a2b9be32016d96cb860340a7dto that

year-in-review-editall before it was time to pick the kids up from school 😉

you’ll want to download a number of fonts for a graphic like this. pinterest is a great source for finding cute, free fonts and scoping out which fonts pair well together.

as for the boy and pregnant woman graphics. i found them via Google and just brought them in as .png files (GIMP automatically creates a new layer for you), moved them where i liked and resized.


STEP 1: get GIMP

STEP 2: find a .psd or .xcf to use as your base template that you can manipulate (or if you are brave start from scratch bringing in your own background .png file)

STEP 3: watch youtube GIMP beginner tutorials

STEP 4: start making changes to your template as you learn techinques from the videos

STEP 5: download fun free fonts and graphics to make the template work for you


enoch is 18 months old now and oh the places he goes!

there are all these new things i’m having to keep track of to keep him safe and limit the amount of times i say no. it is a chore!

1. keep my bedroom door closed so he doesn’t mess with the printer, the router, the mirror, the window, or the fan

2. figure out how to keep him out of the oversized drawers in the kitchen where i keep my glass bakeware

3. keep rubber bands on all cabinets since the child proof locks don’t work on them because of the style (put rubber bands back on after 3 year old takes them off for fun, grr)

4. keep the rolly coffee table pushed away from the TV cabinet so he doesn’t climb up and touch the TV

5. watch for him climbing on the table, no realistic way to stop him, so keep it clear of drinks to limit its intrigue

6. keep the small kitchen shelf full so he doesn’t climb up on it and turn on the garbage disposal

7. so glad he stopped trying to climb up the bunk bed in his room

8. keep both bathroom doors closed so he doesn’t turn on the sink

9. put the fan up after his nap so he doesn’t put more legos in it

10. don’t use glade plug-ins

oh and

don’t bother putting laundry in the hall laundry basket, he’ll just throw it out

good thing you don’t care too much about those DVDs he gets into every other day

thank goodness he can’t open doors yet!


beacha couple weeks ago we discovered an awesome beachfront park spot complete with playground and splash pad! no better way to get all that sand off than stopping at the splash pad before loading in the car. it was really clean and well-kept. and even water from the drinking fountain was SO good lol.

BEACH RELAXwe were enjoying ourselves too much and stayed longer than we should’ve sun-wise. my husband took the brunt of it with some blazing red shins {just looking at them made me say ouch} . i burnt my scalp {shoulda brought a hat} . and the boys got a little burnt too. but we had a great time!

{i should totally have him upgraded off a bottle by now. but i’m anti-sippy cup because they stunted my first child’s ability to learn how to drink from a real cup since you don’t have to tip them.}

a dead fish was found in the ocean and he was passed from child to child to admire, hold, and poke. my niece opal (in the yellow) tried to hurry and get him back in the water so he wouldn’t die even though he was dead from the get go. she’s a sweetheart.

we found an abandoned shore pool {made by a more ambitious family} and the 3 youngest boys were set. they didn’t move from it for an hour. so building a shore pool is a tool i’ve added to my beach survival with multiple little non-swimmers kit.

i was proud of orion, he has come a long way since our last beach trip where he wouldn’t even touch a toe to the water without getting nervous.

i love the timeless feeling of the beach. the sound of the ocean. the breeze. feels like you could stay all day. i’m excited to go back again sometime this month!


i took the boys downtown the other day. we’ve been a few times lately because i like the library downtown better. it’s huge and old, the way libraries should be. just across the street from the library is lake eola. its a popular spot for walking/jogging and renting swan-shaped paddle boats. on the side of the lake farthest from the library is a playground.

so we started the day learning about creatures of the night at a session they had for the kids at the library. we saw a tarantula, opossum, the cutest little screech owl, a bull frog and a couple other critters. then we went for a walk around the lake. saw this cute turtle mini-island.

i packed a lunch so we stopped on a shaded bench just to the side of the path to eat. there was a man, probably in his 60s, speed walking. as he past us he said “good job supermom!” i thought, what a spectacular way to comment on a parent with a lot of children! about 15 minutes later he passed us again and said “God bless you, have a great day!” so this guy is obviously a role model to us all, but it made me think about some of the other comments i had received the same week and how they made me feel in contrast to his.

~ trip to walgreens to pick out candy for the $1 movie: “oh wow, 4 boys. i had 2 so i know how you feel <<eyes wide, eyebrows raised>>” my thoughts were something along the lines of “if you only had 2 then i’m not seeing how you know how i feel. and come to think of it i feel fine!

~ then there was the trip to target for fishing hooks: “you’ve got your hands full today!” my thoughts, “well everyday, but yes…thanks, i think?”

~ in checkout: “oh wow, 4 boys, i only have 1, i don’t know how you do it!?” me:”well once you have multiple they start to entertain each other”, him: “yeah, yeah, i guess i could see that…” <<i don’t think he bought it>>

overall i would have to say what i hear most is “you have your hands full!” when people say this i know they are expressing sympathy to me, and i appreciate that effort. and it doesn’t necessarily require an answer from me, so that can be nice. its sort of like the universal hello to a mom with kids isn’t it? but to the mom hearing it all the time, it gets old.

like just picture if you had a certain unique quality about you and everyone commented on it all the time, but they didn’t say “i love your ‘x'”, they just commented. like “wow, those are some eyes you have” or “you sure have hair!” its like, thanks for the observation, i’m not sure if you think its a good thing or a bad thing… and you come away from it feeling too different from your fellowman.

so if you are reading this, and you’ve ever used this phrase on a parent. next time try out, “good job supermom (or dad)!” and watch their face light up.



my 5 year old son orion is a worry wart.

IMG_2857here are a couple new worries that have popped up the past few days. i want to record them so i can playfully remind him when he is a teenager and has overcome these fears {lets hope!}

 waspes {his pronunciation} and hornets : he chose medicine crackers {saltines- he started calling them medicine crackers a couple years ago because when he had diarrhea we would give him them. the name has stuck and we all now call them medicine crackers} for his snack, but they are so crumby that i’ve started having them eat them outside.

so he was sitting on the front porch eating them and i came out to do or say something and he gave me this panicked look. a look as if something life-threatening was about to happen to me. i pleaded “what?!” he yelled “wasp!!” dropped his crackers and ran for the front door. totally freaked me out! we had a couple more similar run-ins and then to top it off, a few days ago a neighbor boy was over, playing in the yard and got stung by what sounded like a hornet from his description <<a flying beetle, sob!!>>. well the next day i coaxed orion out into the pool yard, which is screened in, and he was so worried that we would be attacked by hornets. before the neighbor boy’s sting he didn’t even know the word hornet. so i was pelted with questions:

“mom, what if they fly through the hole in the screen?” “no the holes are too small for them to get through.” “well, how fat are they?” “umm, like as fat as a cockroach”{the universal bug in florida} “oh, but i think a cockroach could get in here” {that backfired}.

“mom is that a hornet up there on the ceiling?””no, it’s just a fly.”

“mom when you go out the door make sure you shut it really quick so no hornets come in”. “ok {walk out door and let it swing shut naturally}.” “MOM! quick, quick, shut it! Mom, you didn’t shut it quick!”

“Mom, if i walk will a hornet sting me?” “No.” Mom, if i run will a hornet sting me?” “Maybe, cuz you might scare them.”

“Mom, i see a hornet trying to get in.” “{look where he’s pointing, nothing}.

“orion, why don’t you go see if you can find a worm in the dirt so we can go fishing”. “no i don’t want to go out there, there might be a hornet.”

“mom, do hornets like wasps?” “i think so” “do wasps like hornets?” “yes” “do wasps like bees?” “i’m not sure” {totally making it up through that set}

he usually asks to go in the hot tub everyday and plays outside but since the hornet incident he doesn’t ask, and if i ask him he says “no, there might be hornets”. hoping he’ll get over it soon.

~ skateboarding: after watching a movie with skateboarding in it orion asked me:

“mom, when i get bigger can i skateboard?”


“you’ll buy me a skateboard?”


“and a helmet? i’ll need a helmet.”

“yes. and elbow pads and knee pads.”

{thinks for a minute, concern starts to show} “what about my feet? and my body? {he grips his torso as if to protect it, and contorts his face}

“they’ll be fine”.

{troubled look} “no, they’ll get hurt… you need to get me training.”


you know one thing i love about his careful nature is how he keeps track of his siblings when we are out. my oldest is a daydreamer and sometimes he’ll lag way behind or veer off to touch or look at something. orion keeps him on track “joey, come on!” or “ezra! why are you trying to get losted?” a huge help when i’ve got all 4 in tow.

his nature is so adorable.


so i leave you with this lesson i will spend the next few decades teaching him




i have a mild obsession with little boys wearing sunglasses


these are from the children’s place <sponsored link: PLACE card members save 5% off every purchase at The Children’s Place! > and old navy


i think its the grown-up effect it gives

joey patriotic

i usually don’t start buying them sunglasses until age 2 because they won’t keep them on any younger, and tend to bend them in unnatural ways. but i spotted these baby sunglasses and could not resist. well i actually did resist the first time, but subconsciously found a reason to go back a few days later and succumbed to their cuteness.

enoch sunglassesi’m having way too much fun with them now

enoch sunglasses1i’ve timed him at a total of 4 seconds of wear time

enoch sunglasses2but i’ve snapped some edible pics in those 4 second windows

enoch sunglasses 3

sooo i think my mild obsession has reached the strong fixation level

enoch sunglasses filterif you spot any cute sunglasses i can add to my collection let me know!


we had a fun kick off to summer! my plan for the season is one learning activity and one fun out-of-the-house activity a day. so we did a reading session in the am. i noticed last summer joey joes lost some of his reading skills so i’m determined to keep him sharp this year. he read a book from 1983, the cats’ burglar. that makes it more enriching being old, right? <<mom, do i have to read all 63 pages?>>

after lunch it was out into the world! we decided to try out the nationwide kids bowl free program. it was a lot of fun!


the universe was smiling on us. the credit card reader was malfunctioning when i was paying for the bowling shoes so he told me not to worry about it.


since we didn’t have to pay for the shoes i figured we could live a little and hit the arcade on our way out. as i went to the card machine to get credits for games, a young couple walked up to me. “excuse me, are those your boys? we used all the credits on our card but we have like 800 e-tickets on it if you want to use it to get a prize for your boys.”   you should have seen joey’s eyes light up when i told him we had 800 tickets!

so instead of the usual sad prizes we come home with <smarties and stickers> the boys picked out a set of four construction vehicles <perfect sharable toy!>

the day was overcast so despite the heat, it was tolerable outside which means dinner poolside! <easier clean-up for mama>

after dinner the boys put their new toys to work


i knew there was a reason we didn’t lay sod after we had the pool built


daddy works in the oil industry driving big trucks so it was cute to overhear some references while they played

dig2<<this is the boss truck. it doesn’t do anything>>

dig1<<boss, i need to leave and go on my anniversary trip!>>


the digging melded into swimming and we spent a couple hours of the evening out back

happy summer everyone!