Fourth of July 2021

After such a busy weekend, I love taking the time to reflect, look at our photos, and thank God for all of our blessings. I bet most people would agree how awesome this past weekend felt! Our small town was packed with people, boats, and so much fun. I love seeing our town like that. There really isn’t anything like a small town Fourth of July!

We had a busy day of both parades for Janis Tire. The streets were packed! I personally loved seeing all of the matching family outfits too. It was SO nice seeing so many familiar faces in both Tawas and Oscoda. The love and support that we receive for our small business is incredible and we are so grateful for it! We hope those who got a football, love them. Next year we will need to order more! We passed out candy too, and Carter was a little bummed I gave away all of the suckers at first LOL! And Payton’s face during the parade was hilarious, I feel like she was so confused on what was even happening ha! But it was so much fun having them ride with us. I can’t imagine it any other way, and can’t wait to keep our parade tradition going!

I found our matching shirts on Pink Lily Boutique. They were super soft and comfy! I have ordered a few other things from their website for other occasions as well. Fast shipping too!

It was our first time watching the fireworks at night from our boat. I was a little hesitant at first, just thinking of it being a long day and late night for the kids. But that special husband of mine made sure we went! And golly I can’t thank him enough. It was such a special night. The kids were in awe of the fireworks. Which might I add were probably the best I have been able to see in Tawas! Awesome job! Carter was actually a little scared going into it, because he thought they would be scary or too loud. But he really liked them! It was such a gorgeous night. I loved packing the kids blankies and snuggling on the boat together!

Sitting out there on the water, watching the sunset, and being with our family; God is so good. Even the small squall of gnats and fish flies didn’t stop us from enjoying the view. I type that thinking of us covered in towels, only showing our eyes until the wind finally picked up and they went away LOL! But I kept thanking God that they weren’t insects that bite! Sure they were stuck in our hair, on our clothes, and all over the boat, but still! Could have been worse! It was so nice being out there. And I’ll be honest, Payton did throw a small tantrum after the show, but fell asleep 10 seconds after! And Carter passed out on the ride back to the beach too. Thankfully both kids went to bed great once we got back home! I am so happy we went, it was so worth it. Definitely adding this to our Fourth of July tradition list too for years to come.

Today has had me feeling all of the feels for some reason. I think it’s our kids. The ages they’re at make the holidays feel even more special. Having them experience different things, and go on fun adventures as a family; I love it. And I also learn so much each time. Our summer has been jam packed already, and it’s not going to slow down any time soon! But I feel more than ready to keep enjoying and learning every moment of it. Even through the long “Momdays,” when nothing is getting done and my kids aren’t having a good behavior day, I am so grateful. Because lately both Carter and Payton have been looking so grown up and I can’t believe how fast time is going.

We hope you had an amazing holiday weekend! Did you add any traditions to your list this year? I’d love to hear about them! Thanks again for catching up with the Next Play.

God Bless America!

-Alyssa

Cherry Chia Oat Bars

Grab a bag or box of fresh cherries and try this recipe out! I learned the hard way how messy cherries can be LOL, but all of the stains came out of our clothes so that’s good. This recipe is easy to throw together for a quick breakfast, snack, or even dessert! And if you make any of my recipes, don’t forget to tag me, I love hearing how you like them! I hope you enjoy this one as much as we did. Feel free to substitute ingredients!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh cherries, cleaned and pitted
  • 2 tbsp gluten free flour, or regular flour, whichever you already have
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup (thanks to my mother-in-law for keeping us stocked up on this!)
  • 2 tbsp cane sugar
  • 4 tbsp chia seeds (optional)
  • 1 cup gluten free rolled oats
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a cupcake tin, or a mini brownie pan.
  3. Smash your cherries in a large bowl (let your little ones help, they will love it!). Then add the flour, maple syrup, cane sugar, and chia seeds. Combine with a spatula until cherries are coated evenly.
  4. In a separate bowl, pour in your oats and add in the cinnamon. Stir them around until they are evenly coated as well.
  5. In your greased pan, scoop the cherry mixture into each tin. I filled mine about halfway full to leave room for the oats on top. Next, top each cherry cup with the oat mix!
  6. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Then let the bars set for I’d say about 30 minutes, or until your cupcake tin cools off. This helps the bars maintain their shape.
  7. Once they are set and cooled, store them in an air tight container so they stay fresh!

Enjoy!

Pearl Of My Heart

It’s been a while! But I have a new project that I wanted to share, and one that I think you will like as much as we did. I’m always looking for more heartfelt gifts or projects to do. So when I was contacted by this awesome small shop to make a unique type of keepsake, I was super excited. Check out their website here!: https://pearlofmyheart.com

This is from a small shop called Pearl of my Heart, and their idea behind this is incredible. I loved the idea of having more than just a photo, and also actual hands that I know have held so many memories. The process was super easy, and the ingredients involved are safe and great quality! I also couldn’t believe the details from our hands that the mold captured. SO neat. I personally loved making ours, and I am still so excited about how it turned out. I think next time I’ll try to do one with the kids when they’re a little older!

Jeff and I rarely find the time to get two words in with each other when the kids are around lol! And I love that, but this was also a really neat and quick project to do together just the two of us. And I mean come on ladies.. when do you ever get a chance to involve your husband in something crafty! It was really special. We also had to stand holding our hands in the mix for nine minutes straight, so talk about some nice, quality time together!! I know Jeff loved every minute of it LOL. I have a highlight video on my Instagram page (@nextplaywithmrs.j) you can check out for more footage of how we made ours!

This is such an awesome keepsake. I SO wish I could have done something like this with my grandparents, or even have had my parents been able to make one with their parents. I love photos, and probably take way too many, BUT this is more than a photo. You can feel the love in the hands, and I’m so glad Jeff and I made one together. You can get yours too! They have a few kits to choose from based on what you’re thinking. AND you can use the code: ALYSSA10 to get a discount! I can’t wait to see who you make yours with. Feel free to tag me in your projects!

Lots of love and God Bless,

-Alyssa

Patience And Naps

Do you ever just need a hug? Or some time to rest your eyes? I’m almost thirty years old and sometimes I just need a hug, or a moment to myself to close my eyes and rest! We’re all human. We need that self care and rest just as much as our children need it too.

We got into the car after school today, and I could tell Carter was tired. He normally chats my ear off the entire way home LOL, but today he was pretty quiet. Once we got home, I started making the kids lunch and Carter asked if he could have some hot chocolate. I made him a small cup, but I didn’t have any whipped cream left to put on top. It was the end of world… he got SO upset and was crying and yelling. Payton even looked at him confused. I tried to get him to settle down but then he became upset when he noticed that I moved his toys while he was at school. On top of that, he spilled his water bottle and became even more upset.

It was almost 12:15, and I saw Payton get done with her lunch so I wiped her off and took her to her room to nap. Carter was still crying and followed me there. He had even made a few not nice comments. I will totally admit I was still keeping my cool and staying patient with him. Regardless of what he was saying right that second, I was validating his feelings and letting him know that I understood why he was upset, and that I was sorry, etc. But nothing seemed to help him feel better. I got Payton in her crib and we walked out of the room.

We went back into the kitchen and I put his lunch in front of him. He screamed that he didn’t want any lunch. At this point he still wasn’t talking very nice so I got stern with him and even raised my voice unfortunately. It was getting to be too much. Carter of course didn’t like very much and finally he yelled back that he just wanted to go to nap. He NEVER admits he needs a nap… so it dawned on me that he must be really tired. It’s Thursday, it’s been a long week, and there were a couple of nights this week that he didn’t get to bed on time. The poor kid was tired. It wasn’t the whipped cream, or moving the toys really, he just needed some rest. Within five minutes of snuggling on the couch together he fell right asleep.

I felt awful that I ended up getting upset with him. At this point he was already snoring a little. I even took his temperature just incase. But the poor little man must have been so tired that he couldn’t seem to control those big emotions of his. Just like us, when things feel overwhelming or when we’re tired? We often get upset at others or cry too. And that’s okay. I think that’s actually a good thing sometimes when we do let our emotions out, in a safe way of course. I thought about last night when I actually had a moment where I cried after bath time because I was exhausted and it had been a long day.

Giving myself grace for this one, and soaking up the extra snuggles from my almost four year old. I love you buddy. Mom life is challenging, and so hard sometimes. But we’re all trying our best and that’s all that matters. Give yourself grace too! Nobody is perfect.

Lots of love and God Bless

-Alyssa

Easter Oreo Bark

This is such an easy recipe! Plus it looks so bright and pretty for Easter weekend. I know I’m looking forward to lots of Easter celebrating with the kids all week, and we started by making this today! Disclaimer: if you have a pre-schooler nearby while making this.. they will steal several M&M’s in the process LOL.

Ingredients:

  • One bag white chocolate chips
  • 7-8 oreos-crushed
  • Easter colored M&M’s
  • White crystal sprinkles

Directions:

  1. Get a smaller sized baking sheet and line it with parchment paper.
  2. Melt your white chocolate chips in the microwave, and spread it onto your parchment lined baking sheet. It doesn’t need to be perfect, you’ll be breaking it up anyways!
  3. Scatter the Oreos and M&M’s over the melted chocolate. I advise pressing them in a tad, especially so the M&M’s really stick in there!
  4. Next, shake some white sprinkles over the top.
  5. Let it set in the freezer for 10-15 minutes.
  6. Break up the bark into as many pieces as you’d like! They can be all different sizes, or you may use a warm knife to try and cut them more evenly.
  7. Make sure you store them in an air tight container, and enjoy!

Even with a few less M&M’s while we made ours, the bark turned out super yummy!!

Happy Easter!

Balsamic Chickpea Pasta

I’ve been told to try that pasta brand “Banza” for a while, but I figured it’d taste bad like the other pasta alternatives I’ve tried! I ordered it in my grocery pick up to try and I actually really liked it. This recipe calls for lots of fresh veggies and a little chickpea pasta. I splashed a little Balsamic vinegar to top it off, but that’s optional. Jeff had three helpings, SCORE! We hope you love it too!

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp avocado oil – or whichever oil you prefer to cook with
  • 1 box Banza Chickpea Penne Pasta
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 small pack prosciutto ripped or sliced up – I normally find mine by the meat counter at Neimans!
  • 3-4 cups multi-colored cherry tomatoes cut in half – the more colorful the better!
  • 1 zucchini diced
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar – I may have added a tad more in mine I love it!
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Freshly grated Asiago cheese for garnish

Directions:

  1. Start making your pasta. Boil the chickpea noodles per package instructions.
  2. Heat the avocado oil in a large pan or skillet. Add your prosciutto into the pan for about 1-2 minutes. Then remove it onto a paper towel and let sit.
  3. In the same pan you’re already using, add in your minced garlic and red onion. Let it become fragrant for about 3 minutes, then add that zucchini in! Season the pan with salt and pepper.
  4. Check on your pasta! You don’t want it getting overdone. And feel free to drain it at this time.
  5. Add in the tomato halves and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Then add in those prosciutto pieces and combine it all up for another 3 minutes or so!
  6. Time to eat! Scoop some pasta into a bowl first. Then add your tomato blend on top. This is where I add a few shakes of my balsamic vinegar!
  7. Top your bowl off with that fresh Asiago cheese, and you have yourself a delicious dinner!

Enjoy! And feel free to message me with any questions!

Snow Filled Clothes

Our day started off a little rocky when Carter found out he had a snow day today. He LOVES school and was so bummed it was cancelled! But I knew we’d make the best of it. Both kids were up early and ready to get the day rolling! I personally haven’t been sleeping well this week, I can’t seem to shut my mind off at night lately! But I tried to push the tiredness aside.

I had planned to take only one child to the grocery store today, because I had planned on Carter being at school! I couldn’t really push it off until Thursday, and it was too late for grocery pick up at this point SO, we loaded up for the store. We walked into the store and the first thing Carter sees is this cute Easter display, with some trucks and cars. I saw his eyes light up. We stood and looked for about five minutes, I didn’t want to rush the “you’re not getting a toy today” speech. Not sure if that made it worse or not… oh boy here come the tears. He was so upset he couldn’t get the black police car, which mind you I’m pretty sure we have about five similar police cars… but not like this one! I had to DRAG him away from the toys. As I’m praying to Jesus to give me strength and patience, it was a solid ten minutes of grocery shopping before he finally calmed down. I’m standing at the deli counter and he is just SOBBING. Some days he is so good about when I say “not today.” Today was not one of those days LOL.

I ended up making grocery shopping into a game, and was pretending we were being timed down each aisle we had to go down. It seemed to distract Carter and he was giggling again in no time. But that meltdown before… LORD PLEASE SEND HELP. My patience was already a little low just from other things but I honestly did my best. We got what we needed, and headed home. But then I forgot I needed to stop by the bank, so back in the car we went LOL. Thankfully there were zero meltdowns for the trip back into town.

When we finally got home Carter asked if we could go play outside before lunchtime. I knew it’d help get some energy out. So we bundled up, Payton included, and decided to head out. Only after about 15-20 minutes of Carter diving into the snow, and Payton walking around the driveway trying not to fall, we headed inside. And there we were for another 10 minutes taking off all of our snow-filled clothes.

The kids walked into the living room, and I looked down at the snowy winter clothes on the ground. I couldn’t help but smile. You know when you feel like you just go nonstop, and you kind of forget to enjoy the little things? This was it. Payton’s little snow pants, and Carter’s snow filled mittens, it’s all I needed to see. To stop, take a deep breath, and appreciate the moment. It was only 11:00am and we had accomplished so little yet so much, if that makes sense? I won’t always see those small winter coats and boots on my mudroom floor like this. I won’t always get a chance to be a kid again and roll around in the snow. I won’t always have these two little adventure bugs who love to spend all the time in the world with me either.

So DEEP BREATH. One more. There. You got this. Embrace the moment, even in the chaos sometimes. And don’t let one small thing like a grocery store meltdown ruin the rest of the day. It can only get better from here, and that little pile of clothes proved that for me. I love being your mama Carter and Payton, and I will always be here. God is good, all the time. And all the time, God is good.

Lots of love & God Bless,

-Alyssa

Diaper Rash Bath Soak

Our little Payton is currently getting three teeth that I am aware of, and oh my goodness her diaper changes are not fun currently! Poor little babe has the worst rash, and sobs when I go to change her. I checked to see if we had any oatmeal bath, and even asked my mom but neither of us had any! I decided to make my own. If I had more of the ingredients I would have made a bigger batch! But this will do for now, and Payton is feeling a little better after her bath soak. Check out the easy recipe below!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 1/4 cup epsom salts
  • 1 1/2 tbsp baking soda
  • 7-10 drops essential oil – I used a little Young Living Lavender!

Directions:

  1. Place all of the ingredients in a NutriBullet or blender. Blend until the oats are nice and ground up. I turned mine on and off for a few seconds, about three times and it was all mixed!
  2. Store in a glass jar. Scoop 1/4 cup into the bath for your little one’s soak.

Taco Pizza

Anything with the word “taco” in it calls my name! I actually had planned to make regular tacos for dinner, but then I saw we had a can of pizza crust in our refrigerator! It turned out SO yummy. And made for great leftovers the following day! Check out the recipe below.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground venison – or whatever meat you’d prefer
  • 1 can of pizza crust – or make your own!
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 4oz cream cheese
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • Toppings of choice: lettuce, tomato, avocados, salsa, hot sauce, green onions

Directions:

  1. Cook pizza crust according to package instructions. I pressed mine down into the pan to make more of a “thin crust” pizza!
  2. Once the crust is baked let it cool for about 5-10 minutes. Time to make your pizza sauce! Mix together the cream cheese and sour cream. Spread evenly over the cooled pizza crust.
  3. Time to decorate your pizza! Add the meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato, etc. Pile it on however you’d like!
  4. Place the pizza back in the oven at 200 degrees for about 5 minutes. It’ll help the cheese and toppings really come together.
  5. Take the pizza out and let it cool, slice into pieces, and enjoy! I love to serve it with some tortilla chips on the side too.

Enjoy!!