It’s been five years since I stopped teaching, five years since The Hubby started medical school, five years since I started blogging {in August}. And five years ago today, this handsome young man joined our family… 

2008 297_optJune 2008

Little J 5

June 2013

Little J, you have brought so much joy, laughter, and energy to our family! We love your silly voices, early morning cuddles, sneak hugs, and so much more! You are such a blessing and we love you SO much!

Happy 5th birthday, Little J!

{Now, please pass the Kleenex. Five is too old & mama’s having a hard time with it!}


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Still Having Fun with Birthdays!

Yes, today IS my birthday!

I am 32 today and I don’t feel even one bit of it. I guess I don’t even know what 32 should feel like, but I’m quite certain I don’t feel at 32 what I thought it might feel like when I was half this age!

Age is just a number, right?! And I think today is the perfect day to have fun with a few other numbers related to my age!

When I was…

A newborn – President Reagan was shot {the day I came home from the hospital}, Indiana won the NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship {included that just for you, Stacey!}, Raiders of the Lost Ark was released, and Princes Charles & Diana Spencer were wed.

Matching Sweater Sisters Age 5

5 years old – “Walk Like An Egyptian” was all the rage, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded soon after launch, killing all on board {I do actually remember watching the news of this}, and Top Gun was released {which wouldn’t hit my radar for several more years}.

10 years old – The Gulf War began {my 4th grade teacher had a brother who was a soldier and we wrote letters to him}, my favorite pre-Pixar Disney movie, Beauty and the Beast, was released, and Dr. Seuss passed away.

16 years old – Princess Diana dies in a car accident, Titanic makes its huge debut in the theaters, and the Nintendo 64 and Sony Playstation compete for favorite gaming system. {I didn’t own a gaming system until we got a Wii a few years back. I’m totally ok with that.}

18 years old – Y2K was causing quite the panic, the human population of the world passed six billion, and The Sixth Sense scared me half to death {and then I had to watch it again after I knew how it ended, of course}.

And from then on…

I graduated from college and got married three weeks later when I was 22 years old. I had my first baby at 25 years old, my second at 27 years old, and my third when I was 30 years old. And I started running at the age of 31 years old.

How’s that for a whole bunch of numbers for you?

One last little bit of fun and then I’m going to go enjoy my “very special day” as Little J has been calling it {man, that kid is SO sweet}!

I share a birthday with…

  • Elton John
  • Aretha Franklin
  • Frank Oz {muppeteer}
  • Sarah Jessica Parker
  • Bela Bartok {composer}
  • Arturo Toscanini {conductor}
  • Gutzon Borglum {Mt. Rushmore sculptor}
  • Henry II {King of England}

Being a musician, I totally love sharing a birthday with such talented artists. And this native South Dakotan is pretty proud of that Gutzon Borglum connection {and his name is really fun to say – try it}!

And now I just have to know:

Who do you share your “very special day” with?

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The Big ONE for Double J! {Happy Birthday Sweet Boy!}

Our baby is no longer a baby.

Excuse me while I weep my way through this day. 

How could a year have passed THIS quickly?!

JJ BirthJJ 1 month JJ 2 months JJ 3 months JJ 4 months JJ 5 months JJ 6 months JJ 7 months JJ 8 months JJ 9 months JJ 10 months JJ 11 monthsJJ 12 months

Dear Sweet Double J,

Our family feels complete since you joined it. You bring us joy every day with your smiles, giggles, funny sounds, hugs & kisses, and quacks! We love your silliness and adventurous spirit, and can’t wait to see your personality unveiled even more as you grow up! We love you so much!

Lots of love,

Daddy, Mommy, Big J, & Little J

JJ First Birthday Collage

Happy 1st Birthday Double J!

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Pinterest Post Party: LEGO Birthday Party!

When Big J told me he wanted his sixth birthday party to be a LEGO party, I did a little happy dance.

I knew the internet was swarming with LEGO birthday party ideas and, sure enough, Pinterest had more than enough inspiration to make planning this party a snap!

I have a whole Pinterest board devoted to LEGO birthday party ideas, but I actually kept the party pretty simple – no cake shaped like a LEGO or full-sized LEGO man at this house!

Here are a few ideas I DID use…

The LEGO Guessing Jar {idea from this post} – Put some LEGOs in a jar. Have kids make their guess as they come in. While kids are eating cake, count the LEGOs with them. Declare a winner. Easy peasy.


LEGO Toss {idea from this post} – I made three rings out of poster board, gave each ring a value, and let the kids toss LEGOs into the rings! The kids tossed three times per turn and earned M&Ms based on their tosses. I didn’t use any fancy LEGO-font labels, but the kids still had fun with it!

LEGO Building Station {idea also from this post} – I loved the idea of having the kids build during the party, but I didn’t want to limit them to just building race cars. I put a plate out for each of them and wrote their name on it. Throughout the party, they could return to their plate to keep building and no one was allowed to take LEGOs off another person’s plate. At the end, I took a picture of each kiddo with their masterpiece!


It was great – and SIMPLE – party, even if I do say so myself! Big J said it was his “best birthday ever” {he says that every year} and one mom called me afterwards to say her daughter was going on and on about fun it was! Success!

Here are a few more highlights from the day…

Primary colors are the way to go for LEGO party decor!

I found these candy blocks on Amazon – they are hard enough to build with and taste sort of like SweetTarts, but not as good. The kids loved them – I put them in baggies as party favors! Two pounds was more than enough for 12 treat bags!

Chocolate covered strawberries as a surprise treat for the birthday boy!

That is one happy SIX-year-old!

Dear Pinterest,

Thank you for all of the great party ideas!

My affection for you continues to grow.

Love always, Erin

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Frugal Star Wars Birthday Party {Top Ten Tuesday}

Top Ten {Tuesday} As soon as his fourth birthday party was over, Big J started planning for his fifth.

He wanted a “Yoda Birthday Party.”

He’s never even seen Yoda in a movie since we’ve only let him see Episode IV (the very first one made for those of you who aren’t sure), so I made the executive decision to make it a full Star Wars theme. After all, this mama could only do so much with Yoda.

This last Saturday, the party came together and it really didn’t cost too much – you just have to scour the internet and be creative with what you have!

Today I’ll share our…

Top Ten Ways to Throw a Frugal Star Wars Birthday Party

1. Start with the invites. This helps set the theme from the beginning so guests know what kind of party they will be attending. The best part about this pack of invites from Target? They came in a pack with matching thank yous at a great price! Sweet!

2. Keep the decor simple and use what you have. I bought this banner from Target, but that was about it for actual Star Wars decor. No need to go overboard! Even better would be using vintage Star Wars posters, but we didn’t have any so we went with this!

I had this star door hanger on hand – covered it in foil, added a fun saying and that was it! Maybe you have a door hanger like this lying around – a circle could be the Death Star, several shapes could be made into droids. Get creative with what you already have at home!

3. Set the mood with some music. The Star Wars soundtrack cannot be beat! Have it playing as children are arriving and during any indoor games!

4. Movie time! We have Star Wars {on VHS – yikes} and let it play in the basement where kids were playing as they waited for everyone to gather. Some kids were VERY interested, others just wanted to play, but it was fun just to have it on!!

How about some food?

5. Padawan Popcorn. {I know, corny name!} We put a bowl of popcorn and M&Ms on the table, and also put a cup of it in the take-home goodie bags! The cups were pretty inexpensive at Target as well!

6. Chewbacca Chow. Puppy chow with a Star Wars name! Big J LOVED this!

7. Lightsaber Pretzels. I actually thought of this idea laying in bed one night and thought I was so creative…until I looked on the internet and saw how many others were super creative too…with the same idea! You could use colored candy melts to make different colored lightsabers, but I was going frugal and used what we had – white almond bark and sprinkles on top, chocolate almond bark and M&Ms (as the power buttons) on the bottom! I love how they turned out!

8. Yoda Soda! I adored this idea from the Tip Junkie! Green Hawaiian Punch + vanilla ice cream = Yoda Soda!

And a few games {more fabulous ideas from Tip Junkie!}…

9. Asteroid Hunt! Almost everyone has foil in the house. Crumple up some foil with candy hidden in the middle, hide the “asteroids” around the house or outside, and let the kids loose! We met back at “mission control” after the hunt to discover the surprise treat inside!

10. Defeat the Death Star. Draw a few “Death Stars” on the driveway or sidewalk with chalk, divide up into teams, put a bucket of water balloons by each team and et them take aim…

First team to completely erase their enemy ship wins! Thank goodness for a sunny day to be outside!

We had a blast, the party prep wasn’t too stressful on mama, and as everyone was leaving, Big J said: “BEST BIRTHDAY PARTY EVER!”

Mission accomplished.

We love doing theme birthday parties around here, but they don’t have to be expensive and extravagant! Be like your kiddos and use your imagination!


Lots of FUN Top Ten Tuesday posts linked up with my friend Amanda today! Take a look!

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It’s not possible.

This little peanut CANNOT be turning FIVE today.

Or, as we called him at the hospital, our “little yellow peanut” thanks to some jaundice…

{you can read his birth story briefly here}

It could not have happened FIVE years ago already…

that we welcomed this beautiful little boy into our arms and our hearts…

Yesterday, I told him he couldn’t turn five because he is my baby.

“Mommy, I’ll always be your baby. Even when I’m 30.”

{cue major waterworks}

You’re growing up fast Big J, but you WILL always be our first-born baby and a precious gift from God.

Happy FIFTH birthday handsome boy!

We are so proud of you!

And we love you to infinity and beyond!

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Thirty, Flirty and Thriving: The Day is Here!

Well, today is the day.

At 11:20 a.m. today, I officially enter the next decade of my life…

And I feel GOOD! I’m very excited to find out what the thirties hold for me!

Thank you all for your birthday wishes throughout the week! I hope you’ve enjoyed the giveaways and I can’t wait to announce all of the winners Monday!

So here we go with the last set of prizes for the week – SUPER fun!!!


Lisa Leonard Designs – $50 shop credit

Oh, how I ADORE Lisa Leonard! She AND her work are so creative, inspirational, beautiful – I just love it all! Plus, she’s a mama to two boys as well! I’ve admired her jewelry for ages and now she has launched a home decor line, including the heart banner above – gorgeous!


Leapin’ Lilies – Blossom pin

Vicki has the most adorable accessory shop, including necklaces, bracelets, hair clips and pins like the one above! She’s having a little celebration of her own this weekend over at her shop – just enter MyFirst29th for a special discount!


Spiffy Decals – one decal of your choice (up to $25)

Spiffy Decals is a husband and wife owned that produces car decals, window stickers and vinyl wall art decals. I LOVE the ones in the pictures up above! For the rest of March, they are offering 15% off all orders with the code THINKSPRING11! Check out their WIDE variety of products!


Ragamuffin Beauties – one pair each of the Mum Earrings & the Rose Earrings in your choice of color

Ragamuffin Beauties is an adorable handmade shop with items for everyone! And until Sunday, March 27th at 12 p.m. CST, just enter HOMEWITHTHEBOYS at checkout to get 20% off your order!


And for fun, I’ll throw in one of my handmade necklaces in your color of choice, like one of these…


How about that for the wrap-up of birthday week giveaways?!

Just leave a comment to enter!

Additional entries…

*Follow Lisa Leonard Designs on Facebook or Twitter

*Follow Leapin’ Lilies on Facebook or Twitter

*Follow Spiffy Decals on Facebook

*Follow Ragamuffin Beauties on Facebook or Twitter

*Post about this giveaway on Facebook or Twitter

-Facebook – Just click the “Share” button at the bottom of this post!

-Twitter – Click the “Tweet” button at the bottom of this post!

Just leave a separate comment for each!

This giveaway and all birthday week giveaways will end Sunday, March 27th at 9:00 p.m. CST! Randomly chosen winners will be announced next Monday!

Thank you SO much to these wonderful businesses for helping me celebrate this week! You are fabulous!

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