Thursday, July 11, 2019

Bead Bowl

 It's been so hot lately so I've been trying to find ways to keep the small people entertained in the house during part of the day. The other day I stumbled upon this tutorial for creating a bowl from those little plastic beads. You know those beads I'm talking about? Those little plastic ones that you put on pegs and then iron to melt? The ones that your kids spill on the floor and you spend an hour picking up? Well, we had all the supplies already on hand and I wanted to engage my son in something other than legos and Paw Patrol while his sister was napping.

 We coated an oven safe bowl with some Pam cooking spray and went to town at putting beads in, trying to ensure they went up the sides a bit in the process. Make sure you thoroughly coat the sides with the cooking spray so they stick nicely. My daughter woke before we were done so she was able to help by putting more beads in the bowl.
Once done, we put the bowl in the oven, preheated to 400 degrees, and baked it for 15 minutes. When I checked on our bowl we needed more beads and more time. I dumped a bunch more in and put it back in the oven for another 10 minutes.

Once it was pretty melty (yes, I'm inventing words) I took it out and let it cool for about 10 minutes. Then I placed the bowl in the sink and filled it was water. A while later I noted that our bowl was floating... but more importantly cool enough for little hands.

The kids were pretty pleased with their final product. My son put it at his place at the table so he could show Daddy. And today he insisted on playing with it!! A definitely sign of a winning craft in my world. 

Monday, June 17, 2019

Traveling with Kids: Airplane Edition

I've been busy preparing for our upcoming vacation and my kids first flight that they will remember. My son flew right after his first birthday but with only one and with him being so little, it barely seems to count.

So I've been searching Pinterest for ideas, hitting up the dollar store, and raiding my stockpile of activities in the closet. Here's a little of what we're doing to keep them busy and happy during our flight!
My son's backpack
I saved a new book from our last Scholastic order at school to put in each backpack. They both also have some dollar store plastic figures, a sticker book, food (including lollipops for take off and landing), pipe cleaners, and a surprise goody bag from Walmart (75 cents!).

My daughter's backpack
I also checked out these playaways out from our library for my son. He's a big fan of listening to The Magic Treehouse in the car and also loves The Boxcar Children. I got him the headphones on Amazon. I ended up checking out three additional books for my husband and me too so if we're stuck in the room at bedtime we can listen to something fun!
Lastly, I saw these referenced on Pinterest and of course can't find the pin now. But I put together these Fruit Loop necklaces to entertain them in the terminal as we wait for our flight. They can string their necklace and wear it on the plane.... and munch away whenever they want.
I do think I'll need to control it because I don't want them doing it on the plane and sending Fruit Loops everywhere (as a friend worried!!). But hopefully stringing them while waiting will keep them happy if we're delayed.

What are your favorite activities for keeping the little ones entertained and happy at the airport or on a flight?

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Potty Training

I’m in the midst of potty training my daughter. My strong willed, funny, I-can-sit-all-day-singing daughter. She knows what to do but isn’t about to do it yet. On some level I get it. It’s control. But I also am so challenged.


Here’s part of the equation. We’re going on a Disney cruise in June. If she’s fully potty trained she can spend time in the big kid room. It’s the room her big brother will be in. And I know she’ll be more comfortable if she’s with him.

She’s resistant for some reason. I want to back off, knowing she’ll get there. Yet I also feel this time crunch. Right now I’m just trying to keep my patience and keep moving forward.

Here are a few of the suggestions I’m going to try to keep in the front of my mind as we move forward with potty training over the next few weeks or months.

1. Every child gets there differently. My son responded to different rewards than my daughter does. I need to tweak my style to fit her.
2. Breathe. Being calm will help her gain confidence.
3. Buy more vinegar. I need to put her in undies more for success and that means I’ll be cleaning the carpets.
4. Celebrate the wins. All. The. Wins.
5. If the poop is bad enough, some underwear should just be thrown out.
6. Training undies for school are a good idea.
7. It’ll click. And she’ll be so darn proud. 



Sunday, April 28, 2019

Preschool Learning

In September, my son enters kindergarten. I'm still not sure how that's possible but we're excited for this new experience. And, I truly am. I haven't been weepy yet. I believe he's ready to learn, explore, and meet new friends. I hope I never get weepy. Wistful maybe but not weepy.

That said, I also want to ensure he goes in fully prepared. I know he'll learn a lot there but I want to do what I can to make the transition as seamless as possible (knowing it won't be at all seamless!! Hello full day or activities! Hello exhaustion!).
The other day I made this number sort on our kitchen floor. Now, my son knows his numbers fairly well. Sometimes he gets a little tripped up and forgets 13. But generally he's good. Basic counting is one thing, but this is both sensory and a bit of math. I like that we can learn and move at the same time! And, his sister likes it too. And, so far I haven't stepped on a small figure while cooking dinner!! That's also a win I think.

We're also working on fine motor skills. He writes his name each time I drop him off at preschool. However, he's challenged by the process; it's something we definitely need to keep practicing at home. Luckily, a friend had extras of these dry erase pouches. One one side we have his name to trace. And on the other, I have these great sheets from education.com. We have beach words right now because I'm prepping the kids for our cruise this summer and time on the beach. I gave Chase the "answer key" so he can write the words next to the full word. My daughter has the ones you can trace because although she's got fairly good fine motor skills, writing is still very new to her.
Make a splash as your child builds early writing skills in this snorkeling themed word tracer! Visit Education.com to check out our full collection of reading and writing resources.
I was poking around the education.com website and I love that they have so many resources I can download to use with my kids. I can see us using some of the dot to dot sheets to continue our counting. And as we continue doing sight words (they are all over the house already!), I will definitely be downloading this worksheet and others like it.

Education.com also has social emotional resources. The toddler/preschooler mom AND the higher education professional in me loves that. We're always working to manage emotions (hello calm jar! hello Chickering!) and I'll take any way I can continue to dialogue on that. Note, I probably wouldn't use the preschool sheets with college students..... although who knows because why not?

I have also been working on recognizing and spelling her name with my daughter. We got this activity from Busy Toddler on Instagram. She loves putting her name together. Currently, I'm leading the activity, helping her to identify the right letter and processing what belongs where. However, I can see a day where she can do this on her own. And it's exciting to think she'll be good at recognizing her letters and name!!
Any other preschool learning activities you are a big fan of? We're always developing new ideas over here and welcome things from everywhere!!


This post was written in collaboration with education.com. All opinions are my own.


Friday, April 26, 2019

30 Acts for 30 Days

My dad died 30 years ago this June. He was 44. He died from a heart attack. There were no smaller heart warnings (none he heeded at least). In 10 days I turn 44. I've been thinking a lot about if my life were over this year and all that I'd leave behind. My kids are so young. I was young at 14 but at least I have lots of memories. Who knows if Abby would truly have any of me.

All of this is why I workout almost daily. I know heart disease is an issue in my family. My grandfather died at 42. My dad died at 44. I'd like to see far beyond 44 or even the (imaginary) add-two-years-with-each-generation 46.

But with all of this on my mind, I decided I wanted to do something to commemorate the age my dad didn't get past. I wanted to do something positive that embraced life. I wanted to complete an act that was future thinking. Because my life is just at the mid-point and I have a lot of living to keep doing. 
Thus #30Actsfor30Days was born. For thirty days - one for each year my dad has been gone - I'll be doing a random act of kindness or an act of self-care. I'll be promoting kindness. I'll be sharing love. And I'll be finding ways to enrich my health and well-being. I'd love for you to join me!! The calendar is in this post and can be accessed here. If you participate, even just for a day, please share your experience on social media with #30Actsfor30Days. Help me to spread kindness, embrace life, and remember the legacy my father left to me. I would be so honored.

XO



Friday, March 8, 2019

Happy International Womens Day


You see that girl? She is vivacious, funny, kind, enthusiastic, challenging, smart, and beautiful. I want the world for her. I want her to know her power and her strength. I want her to make her mark on the world, however that is defined.

Too often women and girls are limited. Limited by what people think they can accomplish. Limited by education. Limited by controlling their wealth. Limited by their menstrual cycle. Limited by reproduction. Limited by the perceptions of their gender, by those that call them "princess" and "honey".

Yet women are strong. They sacrifice daily for their children. They find ways to create, to buildSh some financial security for their families. They go without - clothes, vacations, books, and sometimes even food - so that others can prosper. They give birth. They become caretakers - for kids, partners, and parents. They lift up girlfriends in times of trial. 

I want that girl above to have it better. I want her peers to recognize her as an equal always. I want her to always be able to explore her passions without question or limitations. I want her to harness her power to move mountains. Always. She is worthy of so much. I hope the world remembers that.


Sunday, October 7, 2018

Our Country


The United States. My country. My heartbreak.

It’s been a difficult week for a lot of people. We continue to see the divide in our country grow. We’re not talking; we’re posting on social media. It’s snippets and soundbites, not dialogue and compassion. We’re being “led” by those who don’t seek to unite but rather do all they can to divide us further. Trump, the GOP, and the Democrats will be the unraveling of this country. But average Americans won’t be. We’ll fight, like we always have since the beginning of the republic, to uphold our freedoms and make this country united.

We are deeply flawed. We judge people based on race. We turn away those who are desperate to escape a hell we certainly helped to create. We have stripped children away from their parents at one of their most vulnerable times. We are unkind and unloving to our LGBTQIA sisters and brothers. We mistreat women, the creators of us all. We don’t listen to the stories of these people.

Yet I cling to hope. I cling to the belief that we do bend “towards justice” (Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.). I try every day to lead a life that I believe exemplifies Christianity. I try to love my neighbor. I seek to understand others. I’m far from perfect. I call myself out regularly. Others have called me out.

I firmly believe that we must seek to embrace and help “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” (Emma Lazarus). I firmly believe Black Lives Matter. I firmly believe women deserve autonomy over their bodies and livelihood. I firmly believe families belong together. I firmly believe we must believe survivors. I firmly believe in equal rights for LGBTQIA friends. Do I understand how people can vote (what feels like) against those things? No. Am I willing to listen? I'll always try.

It’s been a difficult week for a lot of people. Many people in this country are feeling marginalized, frustrated, or saddened. But we must rise up. We must listen to our neighbors. We must love our neighbors whether they wear a red hat or are rooting for a blue wave. We must overcome: overcome our leadership that continually fails to unite us, the leadership that thrives on our divide. We need to take the threats to our unity seriously. We need to strive for equality. We need to ensure our black and brown brothers and sisters live in a country that does not prioritize the comfort of white privilege over their very safety. We need to remember that for thousands of years, women have struggled to feel safe. Don’t “protect” me. Rather, call out misogyny. We need to remember it’s not a choice to be gay. It’s how someone was created. And we must remember we have created tragedy and heartache is many places of the world and we have a role in fixing that. We need to listen. Embrace. Live with compassion.

The United States. My country. My hope.  

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Sharing My Scoliosis Story

What people don’t realize about scoliosis is that it’s a lot more than just a crooked spine. Yes my back hurts. But when my alignment is off - which happens easily with a crooked spine - it manifests sometimes as a headache. A good crack of my neck can make me feel better. But that’s not always easily attainable.

I also can’t stand or walk for a long time because I will have significant back pain. Carrying a heavy pack can cause a muscle spasm.

Jumping and running aren’t really feasible. According to the doctor, my spine gets twice the pressure on it than someone with a straight spine experiences.
When I was pregnant I had near constant back pain, only relieved by heat and a steady diet of Tylenol. Inserting the epidural was very complicated. With my second baby, it took close to an hour and two different doctors trying.

Lastly, the hit to my body image is something that I’m just now starting to combat. My left ribs stick out. My hips are at different levels. They have different curves to them. When I bend over one side of my back sticks up higher than the other. I am very asymmetrical in a symmetrically focused world.

I share all this because I’m guessing most people don’t realize any of this. I’m not looking for sympathy. I’m sharing because we all have limitations or obstacles. We all have challenges, physically or mentally. It’s valuable to be vulnerable and share what makes you different. It’s good for people to know the challenges you face. Different isn’t the curse we thought it was in 7th grade. It’s part of your strength. Challenges are part of your story. Seeing someone else’s resiliency can help us all become more resilient.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

A Tired Soul?

Yesterday my sorority sister Amy Phillips from Love Myself Revolution shared the  quote “sleep doesn’t help when it’s your soul that is tired” and it really struck me as exactly where I am right now. I always tired. But I’m getting sleep. Ultimately, I don’t think it’s a physical tired.

I think my challenge is it’s a personal tired. Each day I make meals. I change diapers. I plan play dates. I play legos. I clean up toys. I do laundry. I clean bathrooms. I get drinks. I could go on about all the little things.

And I love my kids and being a mom. Watching them grow, learn, and develop can be very rewarding. But those little things? Not so much.
I think my soul is tired. Tired of not being challenged. Tired of not thinking. Tired of the same routine. Tired of not following a passion.

I googled the quote because there was no source when I saw it. Most of the graphics did not have a source either. One attributed it to Paulo Coehlo. In an effort to give credit, I’ll hope that’s accurate. Two articles listed the following:
 7 things that can make your soul feel sick
    1    Not being true to yourself
    2    Saying yes when you really mean no
    3    Giving of yourself when you are empty
    4    Negative self-talk
    5    Feeling as if your purpose is unfilled
    6    Engaging in petty arguments, gossip and being around toxic people, online and in real life.
    7    Surrounding yourself with clutter, both physical and mental  
Source: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/ahappymedium/2017/03/soul-sick-sleep-doesnt-help-soul-tired/
For me, I can see number 3 and 5 being possibilities. I think number three is motherhood, especially when your kids are young. Other than relying on my husband as best as possible when he’s home, I don’t know an exact fix to that.

Number 5 is maybe easier to fix as it’s more concrete. I know creating and helps by people are my purposes in life. So the task becomes how specifically so I want to ensure I’m meeting those passions. Do I pursue them individually or together? Right now I see myself doing them separately. I create art. I hand letter. I sew and embroider. I coach through Beachbody. However, I’ve been kicking around an online class that I want to test. The goal of it would be to provide people the opportunity to self reflect on their passions and identify how to make them a larger part of their life.

The best thing I can do for me is find a way to live my life fully. Actually, the best thing I can do for my kids is find a way to live my life fully. Every day, it’s a challenge as I have to balance their needs (food, attention, baths, sleep - you know, some of that basic hierarchically stuff!!) with my own. But my tired soul isn’t helping to grow them as effectively I can and ideally should.

Do you ever feel similarly? How have you gotten out of it? I'd love advice. And I plan to report back on progress I make towards putting my greater purpose into action.

Monday, June 18, 2018

That Postpartum Time

I was talking to a friend who is a new mom about the transition to motherhood and how tough the challenges can be. Four years in I still firmly recall bringing Chase home for the hospital and being somewhat overwhelmed with the responsibilities.Who thought trusting me - even at 38 - with a newborn was a wise decision?

There's a lot of advise out there for navigating this big life change. Here's mine:

1.) Throw out the "sleep when the baby sleeps" advice. Personally, I hate this one. Sleep when you can. There will be times you need to do laundry (because spit up.... amiright?). There will be times you need to make a meal. There will be times you can't shut your brain off. I think the "sleep when the baby sleeps" advice can cause guilt or frustration, two things you don't need right now. Do the best you can.

2.) Allow yourself to cry. The hormones are flowing. You're not getting solid sleep. Everything is changing. Crying is okay. People might say "oh you must be so happy" or "he/she is so beautiful. How blessed you are." And that might be true. (It also might not be but that's a separate item!) But you're also allowed to cry. It's healthy even.
3.) Both breast and bottle are okay. I struggled with breast feeding with both kids. I wasn't producing enough. With my first, I didn't have enough knowledge and worked with the lactation consultant at the hospital. But when I went home it was just HARD. I tried breast feeding then pumping to increase my supply. But it was so stressful and ultimately just not healthy for me. So we switched to formula. With my second, I tried again. I saw a International Board Certified Lactation Consultant before delivery. I made a follow up appointment for afterwards. I met with someone at the hospital. But my supply wasn't there and the stress was too much. So again I quit. A healthy and happy mom is truly the best for the baby. Do what's best for you. As my pediatrician said "I was formula fed and look, I'm a doctor."

4.) Take the drugs but also recognize when you don't need them. I had c-sections with both kids. The first was an emergency because of crooked neck Chase. He wasn't coming out. I have scoliosis so that might have been a factor. The second was a scheduled c-section because they believed the same challenge might occur again. Following my doctor's advice on taking the drugs but also listening to my body and knowing when my pain decreased was huge. Addiction runs in my family so I'm very tuned in to listening to myself. Manage your pain with the drugs. But try to tune in to when that pain is decreasing.

5.) Take all the help offered you. People want to help. Let them. But set boundaries as needed. Helping isn't coming in and cuddling the baby for hours (unless that is what YOU want). Helping is doing a load of laundry. Help is dropping off dinner, preferably without staying. Helping is emptying your diaper pail or vacuuming. Don't feel guilty or like you shouldn't say yes. Let people help.

That said, some people will "help" in their own way. You're allowed to set boundaries. If people are sick or haven't had the requisite vaccinations you want, you can say no to them coming close to your baby. If people park themselves in your living room and stay foreverrrrr, have your partner or parent ask them to leave.

6.) If you are feeling sad, down or overly emotional, keep the lines of communication open with your medical team. My family is also prone to depression. I've also had my own challenges over my life. With this in mind, I left the hospital both times with a prescription for an anti-depressant. Sometimes you need help, whether it is counseling or a prescription. Don't hesitate to talk to your doctor or other medical professionals about this. My doctor, the pediatrician, and the lactation consultant all talked to me about it. I'm so glad they did!

7.) Follow your instincts and advocate for yourself. You know your body best. You know your baby best. If something isn't quite right, don't let the medical professionals dismiss you. Serena Williams has very publicly shared the challenges she faced post delivery. If she didn't push, she might not be alive now. I know it can be tough to tell a medical professional "you're wrong" but ultimately you have a great sense of what's okay and what isn't. Push when you need to!!

8.) Don't feel you need to do all the things people do now. And don't feel guilty if you want to! We didn't do newborn photos for either kid. I don't regret it. We took a ton of photos of our own. That said, I love looking at other people's newborn photos. We have more and more "must dos". Determine your own.

9.) Be prepared to buy that thing you didn't even know you needed! We didn't have the best swing for our son who was super colic-y. So we bought a new one. Babies will determine what you need and it might not be what you have. Be flexible if you have the resources to be.

10.) Find your mom network. Having other moms to bounce things off of is HUGE. I had a small group of new moms and some experienced moms I could count on for advice or could run things by. Join a MOMS Club. Put together a Facebook group of moms at similar stages. Join the Facebook group for your Wonder Weeks month. Join the support group at your hospital or local lactation support center.

You've got this Momma! As you navigate this life change, I'd love to hear what advice you think I missed. And please, believe in yourself. How lucky that kiddo is to have you!!