Friday Finds: Door Mats

1. Sand Markings Doormat | Anthropologie 
2. Home Sweet Home Doormat | Target 
3. You Better Have Tacos Door Mat | Lulu & Georgia 
4. World Market | Teal Cherry Blossom Doormat
5. 4040 Locust Arrows Doormat | Urban Outfitters 
6. Doormat Geo Triangles Multi-colored | Target 
7. Desert Vibes Natural Hand Painted Door Mat by TylerKingstonWoodCo | Etsy 
8. Love Door Mat by The Doormatory | Etsy 
9. Cactus Door Mat | Francesca's 

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Instagram Roundup

A look back on some of the interesting things from the past week on Instagram....

How we celebrate St. Patrick's Day.  You can pin that if you want.  #Meaningful #DIY #Crafty #CherishedMemories

The foodie vs. the "beige diet"

A post shared by Kristen Howerton (@kristenhowerton) on

They grow up so fast ....

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Tomorrow night!  If hymns aren't your thing, come late for an epic U2 sing-along.

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My friend @heatheravis's book #theluckyfew dropped today.  It's an incredible read for anyone who has found that life does not always go according to plan, and especially resonant for parents who have dealt with infertility, adoption, or special needs.

Happy place!  Finding Neverland at @segerstomarts

#TBT to back when 4 of 4 were willing to cuddle.  Numbers are much lower today. 😢

Just wanted to share how hard I'm nailing the "check your child's work" game this year.  (Mid-September I was totally owning it!)

If you are ever in the market for a cute mid-century sofa, I got this one last year and I love it SO MUCH.  It's a great nubby neutral tweed and it's decently comfortable (for a structured sofa.) And it's only $850 on Amazon with free delivery.  I just ordered a second one for our living room and not have a red one in the garage.

#adultpartysnacks @gergerdee_z @shesgonnalive @fmorton @cindyt91011 @wizardkiller @chadmarkley

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Road Trip Sanity Savers

This post was sponsored by Best Fiends

Remember road-trips when you were a kid? I do. Standing up behind your parents in the front seat. Rolling around in the back of a station wagon. Draping yourself over all manner of siblings and seat backs in order to get comfortable. The utter lack of regard for seatbelts.

Those were the (highly questionable) days, kids. Back then, family road trips meant stuffed-full cars and playing the license plate game on long, empty stretches of highway. If you got bored, you had two options: 1) Stare out the window, or 2) Sleep. Good times.

Today, family road trips have gotten way easier. Cup holders. iPod docking stations. In-car DVD players. THOSE ARE GOOD THINGS. With four kids, traveling in a car for any distance longer than an hour requires some distractions. Entertaining my kids on the road is still a chore, it seems, but we have it so much easier than our parents.

While we're all about screen-time rules at my house, during a long drive, those screen-time rules fly out the window (along with my patience). You can be sure that we will be using devices to pass the time. Because as much as we like limiting the kids' time with electronics, we're also realists. Making everyone power off in the car works for about 10 minutes, followed by screeches of "She touched me!" or "I'm bored" or (God forbid) "Are we there yet?"

Here are some of the ways we stay sane in the car on a long-haul with the kids:

1. Music.

Our family is a big fan of musical theater, and it's not unusual for all of us to be singing along to Hamilton or Little Shop of Horrors as we are driving.

2. Podcasts.
We love listening to podcasts in the car. My kids are big fans of This American Life, but I also love downloading stories about the places we are visiting. On our recent trip to the Salton Sea, we listened to a historical account of how this popular destination devolved. On our way to Salvation Mountain we listened to a biography of the artist.

3. Gaming. 
There's no better way to pass the time than an addictive puzzle game. Our current family obession is Best Fiends. It's a puzzle adventure game where you collect and upgrade characters by matching objects to defeat the slugs. Best Fiends has a ton of in-game events and challenges that make it more fun. I like it because it's a brainy game. I'm on level 19 and Jafta is currently trying to gain on me. You can play without wifi so it's great for trips.

4. Highs and Lows.
We've established a routine every time we are in the car. We call it "Highs and Lows"  and it's exactly what it sounds like . . . each child takes a turn describing their favorite part of the day, and their least favorite part of the day. We've done this so often that my kids start in as soon as we are pulling away from the school parking lot.


When we are in the car for a longer road trip, we will elaborate on this routine with bigger questions. Highs and Lows about being their age, or living where we live, or having a big family. It leads to lots of interesting discussions.

5. Homework. 
Womp womp. But for real . . . if we are traveling and missing any school, I want the homework happening in the car instead of at our destination.

6. Geocaching. 
Our family got into geocaching last year, and it's one thing everyone still gets excited about doing. It gives us a nice goal when we stop for food and can turn a quick trip to the gas station into a fun little adventure.

Those are some of the ways we stay sane on longer trips! If you want to try Best Fiends out yourself, they've got a fun offer for my readers. The first 100 readers to download the FREE game and get to level 10 will get $4.99 worth of gold and diamonds for free! You can download Best Fiends for free at this link.

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Turning the garage into a family-friendly office

This post is sponsored by Clorox.

I've mentioned before that we recently downsized and moved into a home we used to live in. We went from about 2300 sq. ft. to about 1400 sq. ft. I have no regrets because the pool and the friends they have in this neighborhood mean that my kids are rarely inside the house. But still, we've had to be strategic about our use of space. 

The kids are sharing bedrooms again, which means that we no longer have space to have desks in their rooms. I decided to try to convert the garage into an office space that all of us could use, but also a space where they could practice their instruments. 

Since moving in five months ago, the garage has been a repository of boxes, tools, and tech equipment. With spring right around the corner, I thought this would be a great opportunity to take some time to do some spring cleaning and create a space for homework and music lessons. Here's how it looked before:

We had a sofa (this great mid-century number from Amazon), but it was covered in clutter. The drum set was in the middle of boxes, and the desk area was also covered in office stuff that I hadn't sorted since we moved in.

The kids and I got to work putting things away (and throwing things away). We also had a lot of cleaning to do, as everything was covered in a layer of dust.

I'm a fan of the Clorox®ScrubSingles™ Kitchen Pads and the Clorox® Triple Action Dust Wipes; they were perfect for this job.

I also had the kids help me put a desk together, which will serve as my desk but also as a platform for the TV so they can play Xbox in the garage. Here's that finished area:

Behind the sofa in this area is a space for the kids to practice music:

And in the corner, each child has a spot at the desk for their laptop. India made bulletin boards for each kid to denote their spot.

To help you get started on your own spring cleaning project, visit Clorox’s “Season of Clean” website for 30 days of new tips and tricks to help you get motivated - and stay motivated - to spring clean.

It feels really good to have this project done, and I think this space will be perfect for homework. Now they won't complain about doing it, right?

One can dream.

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What I want you to know about serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post was submitted by Mary.

I've always wanted to be a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV). As a child, high-schooler, university student I daydreamed about living in a rustic hut with a dirt floor, waking up and watching the sun rise over a foggy mountain through my mosquito net. Obviously, I knew it would be hard: I hate the heat, I hate big bugs, and I'd miss my friends and family. Peace Corps and PCVs always warn against having expectations... but I was sure I could handle anything. Pooping in a hole? No problem. Walking ten miles a day? NBD. No peanut butter? I'll survive.

I was so confident that I'd be able to make the best of any situation. That I would love the language I'd learn (or, rather, get to perfect my Spanish after ten years of study). That I'd love the culture, the people, the change...wherever I ended up.

Everything I was so confident about? JK LOL.

In reality, I hate the country I'm living in. The language is difficult. I love learning languages and actually am pretty good at the local one...but it's ugly. The food is boring and unhealthy. The music makes me want to stab my eardrums with pencils. The people are very nice - but too nice. My co-worker calls me at least ten times a day and must be touching me at all times. The majority of men here are misogynist narcissists who think women exist solely for their objectification and to support the patriarchy. There is no beauty in the landscape, there is no art, and, to rub salt in the wound, I'm in the only city in the country without historic buildings or churches or ruins.

And I can't complain about it. I can't blog about it, and run the risk of a local reading it. I can't insult the country as a representative of the United States. And I certainly can't back out of my commitment here, because I'd lose all self-respect.

There are things I like. The fruits and vegetables and coffee. The old men in fedoras on bicycles. The nightly walks everyone takes around the city. I'll eventually get something finished here, and my overbearing coworker at least has a heart for work.

But it is so demoralizing. I'm depressed, lonely, and bored. I had a wonderful life and friends back in the States, so why did I throw it all away?

I remind myself that these two years will be good for me, time to heal from past trauma; good for my family and for my little sister to become more independent; good for my new city, if I can actually make a difference. I know in the future I'll look back on this exam-free, independent, self-defining time fondly.

But right now? It sucks. I want to go home. And I have two more years to go.

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