Texas State Fair

Everyone has told us since moving to Texas that we have to go to the Texas State Fair and see “Big Tex!”  We visited and had a great time!  We are used to the OC Fair that happens in Orange County every summer, so this felt familiar and fun in comparison.  My favorite thing from the OC Fair is the bucket of hot, mini, cinnamon and sugar donuts …….they are HEAVEN!  But I could not find them here at the Texas state fair.  But where they were lacking in donuts, they made up for in cotton candy…they honestly had the best cotton candy I have ever tasted!  The kids loved the fair (I quietly mourned our Disneyland Days), and we made some great memories.  I am excited about this new fall tradition!

 

My Family’s Favorite Salad : {Kids Eat It Too}

Getting my kids to eat vegetables is almost impossible…but I honestly don’t sweat it that much because I know it will eventually grow on them, they take vitamins, and they seem healthy enough.  But one vegetable they do eat regularly is this Dole Sunflower Crunch Chopped Salad.  No joke…this isn’t an ad, we seriously just love this salad.  We eat it on average at three meals a week at lease I would say!  Because the dressing is a little sweet, and the lettuce, kale and cabbage is chopped so little….the girls gobble it up!  So I thought I would pass it along in case any of you mom’s are looking at a salad to get your kids to try, or an easy salad to take to a BBQ or party.

If I get invited to a party;  I bring this salad.  If I am bringing a meal to a new mom;  I bring this salad.  If I am cooking BBQ;  I make this salad.  I used to get the Sweet Kale salad from Costco that has the craisins and pumpkin seeds in it…but I like this one even better!  The only problem is it’s hard to find at times.  I have only found it at Ralphs & Kroger.  It comes in small bags (like in my picture), and big bags.  Good luck! 
The Salad comes with Bacon, Sunflower seeds, and the sweet onion dressing.  The dressing is kind of a creamy.  Just pour in and toss!

Easy Lemon Salmon

I finally got both my daughters to eat salmon!  Mom victory!!  My oldest (4 year old) has been eating it for a year, and my 2 year old just started eating it a couple of weeks ago and I am so pumped because 1. I hate making them other food when I want salmon, and 2. it’s so good for them!

What got them into it was lemons.  They love “decorating” the uncooked salmon with the lemons I cut because they look like flowers, and then at the dinner table I have more lemons they get to squeeze on it themselves.  Plus, lets not underestimate how cool it is for them when we go to Costco and they can look at the dead packaged fish and then we talk about eating it at home.

Recipe:

I make this salmon once a week at home, and it’s super easy and simple.  I buy the big salmon filets at Costco, and then cut them up into smaller fillets, put them in ziplock baggies, and freeze them for later use.  Then when I know I am going to make salmon, I just defrost them in the fridge the night before.  First thing I do is throw a little olive oil on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Then I place my pre-cut fillets on top and kinda smear the fillets around to make sure they have a small amount of olive oil on them so they don’t stick.  (You can also use olive oil spray).  Then all I do is salt and pepper both sides of the fillets.  (Not too much pepper if you are feeding it to the kids).Next I cut the skin off a lemon, then slice it into the “lemon flower” shape my kids love.Then just place 2 “lemon flowers” on each fillet.   Now bake for about 20 minutes on 350 and thats it! *
*Just don’t eat the cooked lemon that is on the fillets.  Remove them from the fish and just toss them….cooking them makes them taste more bitter and won’t be good.  If you love lemon and want more, just squeeze some fresh juice on top when serving.  Also…it’s very important to use ripe lemons or they will get too bitter and ruin the taste.

Schools In Session : {Preschool At Home}

Recently my husband accepted a new job in a Dallas suburb of Texas called Plano…yes you heard me…nothin fancy, just Plano Texas.  Because of this move, my daughters left the preschool they were attending, and I left my job.  In preparation for the move I decided that it would be best to not go back to work right away, so that I could really focus on getting the kids plugged in and acclimated to our new life.  Without my income, I wasn’t sure about paying for the girls to go to preschool when we moved and had the brilliant (and stollen) idea to homeschool the girls from home for at least the next 6 months.  This would give us much needed bonding time, and I could ensure we would get to explore Texas and our new home….I was so afraid to throw them into a ton of new things all at once.

In trying to prepare for my new genius idea (insert eye roll), I headed to my nearest Lakeshore Learning Store and Target for all the supplies I would need.  I took a copy of the preschool academic calendar from my daughter’s previous school, bought some workbooks on Amazon, and decided to dive in!

What I discovered:  Decorating a room to be a classroom is much easier than actually homeschooling your child!  Who knew right?  Don’t get me wrong, lots of people do it and do a great job…but I’m new to all this “staying home all day with your kids” stuff.  I’m that mom that loves my kids, but I also thrive on getting adult time and work.  In a totally normal circumstance, I think this would have gone better….however moving to a new place, having no friends, and my kids having no friends….and add homeschooling on top of that, and you get feeling extra alone.  After about 3 weeks here, I realized that they have been dying for friends, and that going to school (actual school) will give them some normalcy and there will be familiarity because that is what they did before we moved….I should have thought of that lol.

So whats the conclusion/solution:  I’m putting them in a preschool 2 days a week for the socialization and for the expertise of the teachers….let them do the heavy lifting of introducing how to read, write, etc.  I’ll come along side them for sure…but I’ll let the pros handle it.  And then I will be “homeschooling” them the remaining days of the week.  And by “homeschooling,” I mean playing, reading, having playdates, and lots of art projects with all the fun supplies in our home “classroom.”

Check out our classroom below and the fun supplies we got:
Table, chairs, easel: (Ikea), Desk Classroom Caddy: Lakeshore Learning
Wall Organizer: Home Goods, Cork Board Frame: Goodwill
Simple dot-paints, glue and sticks…kids don’t need much!
I know I know…the school bell is a bit overboard…but they love ringing it!  

Parenting OC Jamboree! : {UPCOMING EVENT}

Jamboree-at-the-Cube-Logo-2016Hello Sweet Friends!  I just wanted to invite you all to a FREE, fun event I will be helping out with this upcoming Saturday, March 5th.  It’s the Kids’ Summer Opportunities Jamboree event!  The Jamboree event features exhibitors specializing in summer fun and learning opportunities for families, and allows moms and dads to research and talk with the program leaders and camp directors face-to-face, and get all their questions answered. The Jamboree is free to attend, and when you’re done….you can head off for a full day of fun at the Cube with your family.

Get a FREE CHILD ADMISSION to Discovery Cube on the day of Jamboree! Just click here to download your coupon to bring with you on March 5.

Feel free to check out more info here

Hope to see you there! XOXO

Sprinkled With Love : {Baby Shower}

Oh how different everything is the second time around haha.  I remember caring about every detail of everything for my 1st child….even the color’s for my shower.  This time around, I told my friends Heather & Julie, they could choose any colors they wanted…and I loved the finished product!  For my shower, or “Sprinkling,” they did a donut/brunch theme with multiple colors….you know, like sprinkles….how clever they are haha.   This post is way past due, but better late than never.  🙂
IMG_4638A big thanks to these ladies for all they did!IMG_4633JOetzell-lo_16They dipped this letter E in actual sprinkles! So adorable!JOetzell-lo_14JOetzell-lo_02JOetzell-lo_21JOetzell-lo_28JOetzell-lo_15JOetzell-lo_33JOetzell-lo_22JOetzell-lo_03
JOetzell-lo_23JOetzell-lo_13I was obsessed with this dress!  I also wore it in my maternity photoshoot.  It’s from Nordstrom’s rack, its not a maternity dress (I just bought a bigger size), and they had it in black as well!JOetzell-lo_17JOetzell-lo_62JOetzell-lo_30A beautiful shot of my eldest Evangeline
JOetzell-lo_37JOetzell-lo_45IMG_4646This was an adorable idea they had:  Every guest made a number/letter block for me, and after the shower, my friend Heather used Modge Podge to set them and I have a whole set of personalized, adorable blocks for my girls.  
JOetzell-lo_35I need to post the finished product, but everyone wrote wishes for my daughter Elizabeth, and my friends made it into a keepsake book to have forever!  


XOXO, Caroline

Heart & Seoul : {Growing Up In Korea Exhibit At Pretend C!ty}

heart-and-seoul-media-kit-images-join-grand-openingTomorrow (June 2nd) is the grand opening of a new exhibit at Pretend C!ty Children’s Museum and my girls and I got a sneak preview today!  The exhibit is “Heart & Seoul: Growing up in Korea.”  We spent the morning checking out the new exhibit, making fans and tiger puppets, and eating yummy noodles and snacks by Nongshim!  In the exhibit your child will have access to a number of rooms and activities that help give them a realistic and fun picture of what life is like in Korea.  There is a tea room, a room where they can practice martial arts, a restaurant, a primary school room, a kitchen, and many more fun things!  Plus, when you are done with he Heart & Seoul exhibit, you can enjoy the rest of Pretend C!ty…which the kiddos always love!  This is a mom-win for sure…the kids love it and they don’t realize they are “learning”…haha suckers.
Also don’t forget to check out the free Family Fun & Wellness Fair they have going on this Saturday!
IMG_5306 IMG_5313Thanks Nongshim for lunch!
IMG_5329IMG_5334“Mom please open this!”IMG_5341 IMG_5344 IMG_5349This one didn’t sleep the whole time…but she was all smilesIMG_5351 IMG_5354Painting in the exhibitIMG_5355 IMG_5359My girl making a movie in the exhibitIMG_5360 IMG_5363

A Valentine’s Day Picnic : {Evangeline’s First Birthday Party}

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Last year I went into labor on February 13th and we were sure that we were going to have Evangeline on Valentine’s Day.  But of course she didn’t come until February 15th at 7:18am.  Even though we just missed it by a few hours, we still call her our Valentine’s baby. So when it came time to pick a theme for her 1st birthday party there was no contest; A Valentine’s Day theme!…hearts galore!  I had so much fun dreaming up the party, and then actually carrying all those things out (with the help of some awesome friends)!  I may have gone a little overboard…the house looked like a love bomb exploded in there haha. Happy Birthday my sweet Evangeline!

DSC_8174DSC_8177When people first walked in there was this sign with instructions on the party and the picnic basket of bubbles for the kids.

DSC_8149The “Love is Sweet” garland was purchased on Etsy here!DSC_8414My friend Jenna told me about where to purchase this sign on Etsy here.  I purchased the photo, had it printed at Costco for under $5 and mounted it on black poster board. DSC_8096I bought the cake toppers here! See my Healthy Cake Smash RecipeDSC_8394DSC_8067IMG_3419DSC_8095I bought these at the $1 section at Target.DSC_8144I am in love with this table runner I got on Etsy here!  See my always soft Marshmallow Chunk Rice Krispie Treat RecipeIMG_3440DSC_8211She loved looking at pictures of herself.  I kept saying “Who is that baby!?”IMG_3443DSC_8196DSC_8172I made these gorg mason jar gold glitter “vases” special for the party…now they decorate almost every room in my home and I love it!IMG_3458DSC_8326My good friend Claire was nice enough to make some heart shaped PB&J’s for the younger ones who weren’t into the taco bar.
DSC_8163
DSC_8216DSC_8383DSC_8447We had a decorate your own heart shaped cookie table as a party favor.

DSC_8449DSC_8594DSC_8541Evangeline’s adorable dress was purchased at my favorite Etsy shop for girls dresses: Twinkle & Whim
DSC_8654Children enjoyed the parachute games, park play ground, and bubbles.  DSC_8683DSC_8693DSC_8721See my Gold Heart Piñata DIYDSC_8924The piñata was a little too tough to break for the kiddies so my husband ripped it apart.DSC_8974The end result of the cake smash….no cake smashed haha.  Thank you Karla & Heather for decorating the high chair! DSC_9045We were so blessed by our friends and family.DSC_9058We had to sneak in a costume change to try on one of her new outfits while she played with her new toys. DSC_9004All tuckered out!  It was a great party with our lil’ nugget.

My “Labor Day” : {5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Going Into Labor}

As Labor Day approached I could have written about fun American themed parties, but I honestly didn’t really plan anything so it would be a lie- haha! Sometimes 3 day weekends/holidays aren’t always about cute Pinterest-y parties, but just about being with those you love and relaxing! As for me I am relaxing with my hubby and baby girl. The last few weeks every time I thought “Labor Day is approaching” all I kept thinking about was my “labor” experience when I had my first baby a little over 6 months ago. I am not going to go into all the details of it (yet), but I thought I would share the 5 things I wish I knew before my “Labor Day” that NO ONE told me….maybe it can help someone out someday.

5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Going into Labor:

1. Water Breaking Lies: This was the biggest misconception by far! In all the movies/TV shows I have seen when someone’s water breaks it happens in one “splash” and then it is done. BUT in real life the fluid from your water breaking can come out for hours!….Yes hours! (6 in my case). Talk about embarrassing when you think it has officially broken, only to be standing in the hospital in your third change of clothes and it just keeps coming out as you check-in.

2. Eat Before (if you have time): Once you are checked into the hospital they don’t let you eat anything. So my advice is to grab something to eat on the way because the next opportunity to eat could be hours or in my case 2 days away! Now of course if the baby is crowning or your contractions are super close together then skip this. But if there is time….eat something! I literally would have had enough time to shower, get dolled up, and eat if I wasn’t so panicked.

3. Overpack: I googled “hospital packing lists” months prior to giving birth and then decided to compile my own because none of them had all the things I wanted. I had this idea in my mind of wanting a magical, peaceful birthing experience so I packed everything I would need for that (iPod speakers, magazines, massage lotion)….well the one thing I didn’t pack was more than 3 days worth of clothes for my husband! We ended up being in the hospital 5 days and I was not wanting my husband to leave so he had to wear the same clothes over and over! So overpack!

4. You wait for Doctors: For the entirety of your labor you will only see the doctor on rare occasions…mostly when it is time to push….but besides that, it is you and the nurses. So when I was ready to push it happened to be around 6am and my dr. wouldn’t be there until 7am. So they made me wait….literally with a baby like hanging out of me. She walked in, told me to push, and that was it….my baby was born. Seems like a pretty sweet gig for a dr. if you ask me.

5. “Your Birthing Plan” may get thrown out the window: Like I said above, I had this idea of what my birthing experience would be like: what I would wear, how I would handle contractions, what music would be playing, etc. I wanted to bring my baby into the world naturally, with no pain meds, and in a peaceful environment. What I never realized was that sometimes the baby has a different plan and medically sometimes things need to be done in the best interest of the baby (and mom). I wanted to be cute….FORGET THAT! I did not want an epidural….But it ended up saving me from having a C-Section. I thought I would be able to handle contractions….But I didn’t think I would need to be induced and Pitocin causes violent contractions. The list can go on and on.

There are so many things we don’t know and can’t expect when it comes to giving birth so just be informed, be as prepared as you can, and then be open to whatever is best for you and your baby.

Happy “Labor Day” to all the moms out there and good luck on your Labor Day!

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#Teamjohnston {Serving those you love}

Almost two years ago I started a new job that had me waking up earlier and commuting longer than any job I previously had.  After a few weeks of this I became somewhat unbearable at home.  I was cranky from lack of sleep and complaining constantly to my husband about the traffic and that I never had enough time to get ready anymore.  This crankiness resulted in crying… yes, I had a diva moment.  My calm husband just held me, told me how great I was for working so hard to help provide for the family, and said he wished I didn’t have to work.  But of course like most, I do have to work.

The next morning I woke up before the sun (as usual) and started to get ready.   A few minutes later my husband came into the bathroom and said, “What can I do to help you get ready?”  He had set his alarm to get up a little after me to help get me ready and even though I thought it was just too much, in desperation I rattled off a long list. Over the months when running late I would list off requests like: make my breakfast, start my coffee, warm up the car, lay out my outfit and pack my lunch.  There were even days I was running so late he would hold the blow dryer to my hair while I applied makeup, or put my boots on my feet while I brushed my hair.  (I know what you are thinking…I should be planning ahead, getting up earlier- I’m spoiled…ALL TRUE).

After weeks of this, there was a morning where he forgot to set his alarm and get up with me.  I didn’t wake him because I thought he deserved a morning to sleep in.  But as I pulled away from our house and began to drive down the street I saw him running after me.  I stopped and said, “What are you doing!? Go back to bed!”   But to my surprise he was upset with me.  He couldn’t believe I hadn’t woken him and reprimanded me for not doing so.  When I asked him what the big deal was he responded, “Care, we’re a team.  You do so much for us, this is something I can do for you, and I want to serve you in this way.    I know it’s stressful for you and I want to make it easier for you”  (Yes, this made me love him even more). Before I drove away he kissed me and said, “Team Johnston.”

Since then on when we do something that is hard, serve each other, compromise, or even do fun stuff, we look at each other and say “Team Johnston!”  It has come to be something we cherish, pride ourselves in, and are thankful for.

Of course you must know this took place before I was in my prime and a mommy and I have since grown out of the phase of needing help in the mornings and needing so much time to get ready….. And thank God for that!

What are some sacrifices you and your loved ones make for each other that you are thankful for?

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