Ballet and tap lessons have started, we explored a really beautiful area and took family pictures, we recommend this week's books, and more! Just a packed-full week in the life of a mom-blogger.This post contains affiliate links.

Want to see what we’ve been up to over the last week? Here it all is!


Dish party!

Last Sunday, the kids decided to have a “dish party” (see the green sign?) before my husband and I were even up. So this is what we saw when we came into the dining room. Soooo cute and funny! They even made napkins out of paper, and little seating assignment signs.

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Cleaning out the hall closet

Anneliese noticed my to-do list on our white board, and told me I needed to work on it more (I would be annoyed at that, if she weren’t so right!), so I cleaned out the hall closet. I actually snapped “during” pictures but not before or after. haha. Maybe I’ll show you the “after” during the next recap. It’s looking pretty good now!

It’s NOT a big closet, but ALL of this stuff was crammed into it… in addition to everything that was on the shelves in there. My husband tends to throw things (mainly blankets) in there, and then the kids also play in the closet (because it’s super dark and fun!) so it ends up being quite a mess.

We decluttered some of this, found new homes for some of it, and installed some hooks to hang a couple of things. Really… I need to show you the “after,” for serious.

Ballet and tap lessons!

My kids had their first ballet/tap lesson on Monday! They took ballet lessons last spring, too, but for various reasons, I wasn’t wild about the studio. We tried a new one this time and we all LOVED it. The kids had a GREAT time, and I loved the way the teacher instructed. Also, the parent area is way more comfortable for me and Henry to wait in during their lessons. There’s space to spread out and play or work. (The other one was super cramped.)

They didn’t have their dance clothes in time for the first lesson, but it all came in the mail and the kids couldn’t be more excited!

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Concert field trip!

Henry and I got to take Anneliese on a field trip this week with her school. We saw the Americus Brass Band, which is a Civil War replica band. They wear period clothing and use actual vintage instruments, and in between songs, they give little history lessons about the music and how it related to the time period.

At one point, Anneliese exclaimed to me, “Mom, I am REALLY sorry Joey is missing this. He would love this music!”  It was during this song, the Fireman’s Polka. (I wanted to embed the video here, but they’ve disabled that.) They didn’t have that lady or the conductor at our concert, but it was otherwise the same. I loved when the guys sang!

No pictures or videos allowed of the performance, but I snapped a quick selfie (and realized how much the front camera on my phone sucks. Oh well).

Henry + Zora = Love?

Henry and Zora are getting along a little bit better these days. Since Henry started walking before he could really understand a lot of stuff (he was only 9-10 months!), he has chased Zora a lot, and Zora gets very nervous about it. Now, Henry understands “gentle” and Zora can tolerate him a little better.

One day, after dinner, they had a truce. Zora was feeling friendly toward Henry, thanks to the food he had dropped on the floor, and Henry was sleepy (so a bit lower energy), and they had a little petting session. Super sweet! (Again, with the cruddy phone photos, but it’s what I had on me.)

This is the life.

“The baby has a good life, Mom! Take a picture!” – Anneliese, dragging Henry around on a blanket. I loved seeing the kids do this together – my sisters and I spent MANY hours dragging each other down the hallway on blankets when we were kids.

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The desert is awesome

I wrote before about why living in the desert is awesome, and this time of year is seriously the best. The weather is fantastic, and we get amazing “skyscapes” like this… I pulled over to snap this through my car window because I just couldn’t breathe it was so lovely. (And that water is “mirror lake” – a dry lake bed on base, which fills up when we’ve had a bit of rain… it reflects the sky so prettily when it’s still.)

I realize this sky might not look amazing to lots of you… the thing about clouds is, when you don’t see them much? You really notice them when they’re here, especially when the sun is shining on them so prettily! It’s one of those “stop and smell the roses” things.

Snuggly little lovie guy

This recap is starting to sound like “the Henry show” but hey, he’s cute. He is SUCH an affectionate little guy… he gives tons of kisses and hugs, and he loves his “cuddly things.”

My friend Heather made this gorgeous “bunny girl” doll (I know you can’t see its face, but she embroidered it beautifully and it has a bit of lace for “bangs” – just trust me – it’s lovely), and Joey has had it in his bed for months. But Joey just passed it on to Henry, and it’s getting lots of love now (along with his little wolf).

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Exploring in Lone Pine

This weekend, we went exploring in Lone Pine. We have been trying to get a good family picture together for ages, and I think we finally got one! I wish you could see Henry’s face in it, but other than that, it’s pretty great!

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After we took some family pictures, the kids climbed around on the rocks and had a great time until they were too cold to continue. We had dinner at the Lone Pine smokehouse (super yummy!) and then got ice cream at another place nearby. We stopped into a little book/rock/gift shop and the kids bought some stones with some of their Christmas money, too.


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What we’ve been reading.

I’m currently listening to Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin. It’s kind of a sequel to her The Happiness Project. The first book was about her experiments to increase happiness in her life in general, and this one focuses on home things. People tend to either love Gretchen Rubin or hate her. I am closer to the love side – I identify with her in a lot of ways, and she puts things pretty bluntly, which I appreciate.

It’s not a self-improvement book or a how-to… more of a journey through Gretchen’s own experience. I’m enjoying it.

I “read” most things via audio-book. I listen on 1.5-2x speed while I’m in the car, taking the kids to and from school and running errands (or sometimes while I do chores at home). It’s an awesome way to read because there’s nothing else you “should be doing instead.” And for some reason, I soak up audio books really well.

(If you want to get 2 free audio books, try out Audible here for free.)

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I asked my kids what their favorite books have been this week, and these are the ones they chose.

Joey chose Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site. He doesn’t feel like talking about it right now, but I’ll say it’s a wonderful book.

The cadence of the rhymes is really nice to read aloud, and of course, it’s full of anthropomorphic construction vehicles. The boom is so cute when he goes to sleep because he’s holding his little teddy bear, and has a star-shaped night light hanging from his hook! As you read through the book, the sky in the illustrations darkens – the sun sets, and the stars come out. I love that!

A lot of people compare it to Goodnight Moon. But it reminds me more of Sweet Dreams Lullaby.

Anneliese’s book for this recap is The Prince of Egypt.

“It’s about this Hebrew boy who, his mother sets him adrift in a basket. Because the king of Egypt wants to kill all the newborn Hebrew boys, because he thought there was too many Hebrews in Egypt. That is wrong. And so the queen finds the basket and thinks it’s a gift from the Gods. She took him as her son.

Well, if it’s the queen, and takes him in as her son, he became the prince of Egypt. When he found out he was a Hebrew, he went away. Because, you know, the king was taking the Hebrews for slaves. Nopes! It is not right to own slaves.

He went back then, then a bush spoke to him about… told him to tell the Pharaoh to let the slaves free! And the Pharaoh doesn’t listen until God sent ten terrible things to Egypt. Like fire, hale, and darkness, and even a thing that can kill all the newborn Egyptians! And then, he ended up listening in the end, and he set the Hebrews free. It’s a GOOD BOOK. Parents should get it for their kids.”


Henry chose The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Because it’s a gosh dang classic.

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 What’s going on on Social Media?

I asked about how often you guys bathe your kids, and boy did you answer! Join the discussion on Instagram, or leave a comment on this blog post.


And you guys are really talking about my hair cut post on Facebook, and sharing like crazy. Thank you so much for spreading the word!

A new thing – LipSense!

I’ve been a lipstick wearer since I was about 12. It’s always been my favorite type of makeup, and even if I don’t wear anything else on my face, I’ve got lipstick on most of the time. But I’ve always hated how it rubs/licks off so quickly and needs to be reapplied constantly throughout the day to keep looking good.

I’ve tried SO many “long lasting” lipsticks over the years, and some are better than other… but none were BLOW ME AWAY AMAZING.

Until I found LipSense. It does. not. budge. At all. All day. The first time I tried it, I was sold. I’m basically in love.

And even though I’ve NEVER been interested in direct sales EVER… I signed up as a distributor. I couldn’t not!

I’m getting ready to launch officially next weekend. I’ll have some great deals just for my launch party, but until then, I’m running a giveaway in my facebook group.

Join my group, Joyful All Day (because duh, I’m joyful, and also because the lip color seriously does last all day… and joyful all day is a good attitude to have).

Even if you’re just curious, feel free to lurk and peek. And if you want to jump in and try it, I’ll be there for ya!

Don’t forget to enter my launch giveaway!

What’s happening on Joyful Abode?

This week, I shared two new posts with you.

Tara did an awesome round-up of inspiring (and organized!) home offices. Love the ideas in here!

Does your home office need a decor reboot? What about an organizational overhaul? Here are 25 amazingly inspirational home offices, so you can plan your next move on your own! Tons of organizing tips and decor ideas for home offices.

And I finally wrote about exactly why I suddenly cut my hair, from always-long to a short pixie style. If you’re a “mom ponytail” user, you need to read this!

Why I cut my hair into a pixie cut - it's not what you think. And why you need to be really careful of chronic mom-ponytail. (Seriously, read this to save your own hair.)

And finally, what’s going on on Etsy?

I can tell you guys are getting organized for 2017! How? You’re buying some great organizational tools!

This fillable responsibility chart is great for kids (my kids just finished doing their Monday chores!) but you can use it for yourself too. (There are two other versions if you prefer other words than “responsibilities.”)

This biweekly planner is a great way to see two weeks at a glance, still with plenty of room to write your to-dos, your activities and appointments, or even your menu plan!

Buy it once, and print as many as you need to use it all year long.

And these printable toy bin labels have been a consistent best seller.

I know after Christmas, you’ve probably decluttered some toys and gotten a bunch of new ones, and you’re trying to get everything organized and clean… these labels are the perfect way to help your kids learn where everything belongs!

It comes with a blank page too, so you can make your own custom labels for the toys I didn’t already include. (There are other colors too, if you don’t prefer turquoise.)

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