Have a happy long weekend.

What are your plans for this Labor Day weekend? I'm excited to come home, scoop Toby up into my arms and cover him with kisses. Oh, that little bunny! Hope you have a great weekend, and here are a few fun posts from around the web...

A song for your weekend. (Dude, acapella!)

Hipster soups.

A most unusual test.

Who wants a pet lamb?

This is what a scientist looks like.

Would you do a mirror fast?

OMG, this gave me a heart attack. (Thanks, Dad.)

Cute cute cute.

12 fantastic recipes for corn.

This awesome blog has now published a book!

Homemade baby wipes.

Cookie dough bites.

Can you believe this is a marble sculpture?

These would be perfect for the beach.

Plus, three past posts you may have missed:
* Touch tours.
* Do you get freaked out at night?
* Photobooth proposal.

Have a good one!

(Photo by Maddie Joyce)


Can you believe we're only one day away from September?! This summer flew by. To keep the summery mood going, here are 8 incredible pools around the world…Have you been to any? Which one would you want to dip into?

From top: Berlin, Victoria Falls on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe (see more insane photos here), Singapore, Portugal, Chile, Sydney, Utah and Bali.

(Photos via and links on Apartment Therapy)

Fun Friday--Family Organization

I am really enjoying these Fun Friday posts!  I am an organization freak, so I am so excited about this post.  I have always lived most comfortably with an organized life.  Now, our lives mandate it.  It's not an option.  Here are a few things I couldn't live without.  First and foremost is my Erin Condren planner.  In college I started using the Franklin Covey planner and I kept it for at least 10 years.  After that I bought multiple planners, trying to find one that did everything I wanted and needed.  Last year, I found it.  I have just ordered my 2013 planner and it should be in any day.  I can't wait.  I'm like a child at Christmas--filling in the blanks, planning my year in advance.  Oh, sweet joy!

Next, I use this meal planner that I found at Target to plan our meals for the week.  There is even a tear out page for your grocery list.

 Mornings at our house are crazy and nights are crazier.  I know you ALL can relate to this.  It has little to do with cancer and everything to do with 3 kiddos!  I created this check list for Ella so that she can be responsible for getting herself ready each morning and night.  I have it taped to her bathroom mirror so that she sees it first thing and last thing each day and night.  So far its worked really well.  Hmm, maybe I need one for myself.

Laundry mountains are one thing that we all probably have in common.  Every mother rues the moment when you fold the last piece of laundry and then triumphantly declare that everything piece of laundry in the house is clean.  And then...you look down and your 2 year old has spilled a drink in the kitchen which requires 18 towels to clean.  Oh, and never mind that all 5 of you are wearing clothes that when removed will instantly make your laundry room look like Fred Sanford's house.

A few years ago I came up with this system.  It worked really well for a family of 4.  I'm still not sure how to incorporate Jack into the mix. Right now, the other 4 of us have our own bin and all folded clothes go straight into the appropriate spot.  I hang the majority of our clothes, so the bins mainly hold PJ's, shorts and undies.

Also in my laundry room is a shelf that holds 3 sweater size boxes.  At the beginning of a school year (or for Jack's first few years) each child gets a new box.  Every memento for the year goes in and then the box will be stored in the child's closet until I find a better spot for them.  It works really well for me and because the box isn't huge it forces me to be selective of the work/art I keep.

As I said, I'm a nut for organization.  I label my linen closet shelves, my kitchen pantry is lined with labeled baskets...I'm a little OCD at times.  However, this post is about organizing my family.  So, I'm going to end with this picture.  I bought this display piece this summer at Patina, which is located on our town's square.  I love it and the red looks awesome on my green kitchen walls.

How do you organize your family?

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Thursday Randomness

I am sick.  I hate allergies.  I love farmers, but I hate harvest time.  I love Prednisone.  I hate a sinus headache.  This is the corn field that is right behind our house:

Actually, our entire house and neighborhood is surrounded by a giant cornfield.  They cut corn this past weekend and since we have not had rain for weeks, lets just say that everyone in town is sick.  Seriously, our neighbors across the road and the neighbors behind our house all went to the Allergist this week with their kids.  My heart aches for those that have been affected by the hurricane, but I do pray we get a tiny bit of moisture here.  A good rain is just what all our sinuses need!

Today, Lucy came home early from school.  When she woke up I knew it was not going to be a great day.  Allergies.  Jack was so happy to have her home today.

And this little fellow must be watching the farmers because he has been obsessed with tractors lately.  Here he shows his friend Tip how to steer...

And here he practices driving Sam Harris's John Deere...

On a totally different topic...I bought this Zebra chair 2 months before Lucy got sick in 2011.  My plan was to create a seating area in my kitchen where the girls could cuddle up and read a book or do homework.  Up until this week there has been this random chair in my kitchen that was very uninviting.  Today I found this vintage yellow table and my seating area is finally starting to come together.  It's a small accomplishment but a project I have been anxious to complete for a while now.  I got it at a new antique store on our town's square.  I love our town's square.  It is chock full of quaint stores, tea rooms, a pottery studio, and a great coffee shop.  If you live in the area, I highly recommend coming for a visit.  While you are walking around you can enjoy the music that is piped in through speakers around the court house.  How fun!

Jack thinks my new table is a seat just for him.  He even went to get his Memphis blanket so he could snuggle and watch Ella study!  Check out my messy counter.  Wires from the new cable upgrade that haven't been hidden yet, crock pot from dinner (roast), picture frame that Jack moved so that he could have a seat and a box of papers and bills that need to be filed/paid.

Praying for a better day tomorrow.  Lucy started more medicine today, so maybe she can feel well enough to go to school.  We were on an 8 day streak!

Good night!

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Our third anniversary

Alex is definitely nicer than I am. Here's why...
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Movie: Sleepwalk with Me

The other day, my mom and I went to see Sleepwalk with Me, the new comedy produced by Ira Glass and written by Mike Birbiglia. The main character is a comedian who gets engaged to his girlfriend but has cold feet. Although it sounds like a typical rom-com, it’s actually hilarious, honest and surprising (with a lot of stand-up comedy) and we both really enjoyed it. Here's the trailer. Will you see it?

P.S. Judd Apatow said, "A funny and insightful movie. I could have watched it for ten hours." High praise!

Wednesday giveaway!

Today's giveaway is from GwenDelicious, a handmade jewelry shop based in Vancouver. Today the designer is offering one lucky winner a $250 gift certificate. Which pieces would you choose? (I love her letterpress necklaces and alphabet jewelry.)

For a chance to win, please visit GwenDelicious and leave a comment below. A winner will be chosen at random tomorrow. Good luck! Update: Tiff is our lucky winner. Thanks for playing.

Bonus for all readers: Get 10% off with the code CUPOFJO10, good for one week.

Slate cheese boards

We're big cheese eaters around here (ob-vi-ous-ly), and one of the best purchases we've made was a Brooklyn Slate cheese board. The dark color makes cheeses look bright and beautiful, and you can label them with a soapstone pencil. And the company sells not only cheese boards, but also packages of a campfire kit or a ploughman's satchel. Would make a great gift for a hostess (or just a hungry friend).

P.S. They're sold out! Luckily, you can also buy them here.

The Best Corn on the Cob You'll Ever Have (With Herb Butter!)

When we were growing up in Michigan, we would eat corn on the cob almost everyday in the late summer and early fall. We'd slather it with butter or shave it into salads, and I even loved to eat cobs raw (have you ever tried that?). But the recipe that tops all others is this incredible one from Rachael of Tokyo Terrace, below...
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13 Ounces

(keep reading for a fun offer at the bottom of the page)

What is the craziest thing you have ever gotten in the mail?  I'm not talking about in a package.  I'm talking about a thing in the mail.  Not following me?  Take a look at these two items that arrived recently for Lucy.

Both were delivered just like they are.  With a stamp and the address right on them.  Isn't that crazy?  Well, I was curious about how someone could actually do this and I stumbled across this blog.  She is a lady that chronicles the things that weigh less than 13 ounces she mails to people.  I wish I knew who originated this idea because I'd love to give them credit.  If you Google 13 ounces or less you will come up with some really cute ideas.  Isn't this so much fun?

If you have mailed anything interesting like this I'd love to know.

On a totally unrelated front, I am applying for 501(c)3 status for the Go Lucy Go Foundation.  I am so excited to be sharing this news!  This means that once we have our tax id number any contributions you guys make for holiday meals and other St. Jude/LeBonheur activities will be tax deductible.  This is a huge step for us as a family and as an organization.  I hope to get started on a website soon, but I'm already in over my head by just typing the word website!

Night time around our house has begun to take on a much desired, long anticipated routine.  Dinner, homework, bath, bed.  What a sweet respite from the past 19 months.  I am so grateful to have this mundane-ness in my life right now.  Here is a sneak peak into our night:

My sweet friend Jennisa from Once Upon a Blog is extending a special offer to you guys.  She is offering $10 off a custom package.  Her blogs rock and she is so wonderful to work with!  All you have to do is enter the code BACK2SCHOOL in the contact form! (I don't get any kick backs from this.)

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Four-day trip to Italy

So Alex and I have decided to take one final short trip this summer. We've been blowing out travel this summer (Amsterdam and Chicago) because we're really hoping to get pregnant this fall (have I mentioned that already?:) and if all goes according to plan, we know next summer will be a wash. With a newborn and a toddler, we won't be traveling much! We figured we'd treat this summer like One Last Hurrah, before what (hopefully) will be a chaotic, noisy, sleepless couple of years ahead:)

We decided to go alone to Italy for the next four days, and my mom is staying with Toby. We're going for just four days to keep it more affordable and also because we didn't want to be away from Toby for too long. We chose Capri because tomorrow is our third anniversary, and we went to nearby Positano for our honeymoon, so this will be like a fun flashback. We're really, really excited, and it seems surreal. (Even while I'm writing this, it still hasn't kicked in that we're actually going.) I'll be posting every day this week and am looking forward to sharing photos next week.

Have you ever been to Capri? Any advice? We would love to hear:) Thank you so much! xoxo

(Sorry this post kept disappearing! Blogging was tricky from our hotel in Italy:) Photo by Giuseppe Greco in National Geographic)

Travel beauty

Years ago I went on a business trip with a photographer, and she spritzed rosewater on her face during the flight. It was such a lovely (and fancy!) ritual, and after that, I was inspired to come up with my own trusty beauty arsenal when traveling. (I basically pare down my everyday makeup to the essentials.) Here's what I've packed every trip since...

1. Hair powder. Dry shampoo has changed my life, since you can skip showers and still have beautiful bedhead hair. This travel size smells like lavender and clary sage. $10.
2. Supercurl mascara. This mascara curls and thickens lashes so you'll look wide awake when you land. $20.
3. Chloe perfume is a fresh floral fragrance to keep you feeling pretty. $25.
4. Dopp kit. Unison Home has canvas toiletry bags in three different sizes to hold all those lotions and potions. $35.
5. Cucumber towelettes. I use these every night at home to wash my face (the lazy way!), but they're also perfect for traveling. The cucumber scent feels fresh and invigorating, $9.99.
6. Benetint gives your lips and cheeks a rosy glow, so it's my go-to cosmetic for a trip. (My sister actually wears this, and once I was raving about how pretty she looked, so she let me try it, and now I'm hooked:)
7. Muji Travel Pillow. This comfy pillow folds into a pouch and helps you actually sleep on a plane, $9.95.

(Plus, of course, I pack my face powder!)

What beauty products do you pack when you travel? I'd love to hear your tips...

P.S. Plane picnics (pack an orange!), and five best shoes for traveling.

(Post by Joanna. Layout design by Rachel from Elephantine for Cup of Jo. Top photo from Villa Brunella. I mentioned a couple of my travel staples on CNT, as well.)

Weekend Wrap Up

I took the weekend off from the computer.  It wasn't really a planned hiatus, it just sort of worked out that way.  It's amazing how when life runs smoothly you get so busy!  We have learned a lot during the past 19 months, and making sure we don't ever over extend our family is one of them.  We will never put anything before our children/marriage.  However, with that being said I'll be the first to admit that just doing what seems to be the minimum these days can keep you burning the candle at both ends.  There's a balance in the middle of it all.  Trying to figure it out is just an act of trial and error I guess.  That and a lot of prayer.

We did make it to church this past Sunday.  It was only the 3rd time we have been to church since June 3rd.  It was so wonderful being there and I just loved the music.  Lucy sat in my lap and sang along as the choir sang "Thou Oh Lord," bringing tears to my eyes.  She has such a sweet, sweet spirit.  The pastor talked about preparation for future glory. His four main points were to trust Christ in the trials, love Him in the grief, rejoice in the circumstances and look for Him in the word.   It was a sermon I needed to hear, although I admit that it was hard to listen to.  I can be honest and say that I am in a pretty heated battle with the Lord on several issues.  I've got a lot of things I'm trying to reconcile myself with and I'm not thrilled about most of them.  As I've said before I find it easy, almost instinctive to throw myself at the mercy of God when all hell is breaking loose.  It's when I have time to sit and think about things, truly process what is happening, that the devil starts working his magic.   I'll work it out.

 Last Friday Lucy got a haircut!  It was her first, obviously, since she got sick last year.  She was very nervous about it and I actually sort of felt as if I was betraying her in some way.  I've not really ever discussed it here, but Lucy has large patches on her head where she will never be able to grow hair.  Ever.  Radiation can be thanked for that.  It's really bad and I dread having to explain it to her one day.  Right now it doesn't bother her and I am very thankful for that.  But between two surgeries and already patchy spots, she was in need of a shape up.  You can tell by the picture below that she wasn't just thrilled to be with Mrs. Sonyia.

She looks precious and even my friends who were mad at me for cutting it agree that it looks better.  I told her tonight after her bath that her hair looked nice and she said "I know."  Gotta love that girl!

Our refrigerator died last week so we had to buy a new one.  GROAN!  I would have rather eaten my foot than to spend money on a new fridge.  I was sick over it.  Jack, on the other hand, was thrilled.  Look at this face!

He took to the delivery guy/Sears owner like he was his own grandfather.  It was hilarious and strangely odd at the same time.  Jack followed him and his son around all morning with a socket wrench "helping" them and following every footstep.  I was worried at first, but this gentleman loved every minute of it.  Jack even got to explore the delivery truck.  He seriously cried when the man rode away.

I snapped this picture of Lucy and Hyatt the other day.  Don't they look so precious?  He is the most amazing little boy in the world.  He has a maturity that is beyond his years and compassion that can't be measured when it comes to Lucy.  I love this child as much as my own children.

If you have an extra prayer to lift, I'd like to ask that you pray for my sweet Ella.  She is really starting to open up to Erik about some things and it is clear that Lucy's illness has taken a toll on her.  I knew it had been hard, but the things she has told us is breaking our hearts.  It isn't fair for an eight year old child to fear the things she fears or hurt like she's hurt.  I have amazing children, but this one...well, she's special.

Thanks for loving my family and we appreciate your continued prayers.  Everyday is a challenge, but everyday is a gift!

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