Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Showering of all things Pink and Green

Have you ever had an experience that left you feeling overwhelmed, exhausted and speechless, but one that you would do over in a heartbeat because of all the love, celebration and joy felt at the exact same time?

Over the past 8 months {yes it has been 8 whole months} I have felt overwhelmed, exhausted and speechless more than I have felt in my entire life.  I have felt overwhelmed with how my body has changed, the responsibility I feel for this little being and the amount of love and support I have experienced from my husband, our families and our friends.  I am exhausted and can usually agree to a nap at any given moment.  I am speechless {shockingly} when I consider the great miracle of pregnancy and look around at the love that surrounds me in advice, support, and gifts to prepare for the exciting arrival.

This weekend I had {yet another} baby shower given by my mom, sisters and mother-in-law.  It was absolutely amazing!  I was surrounded by so many loved ones and every little detail was perfectly thought out to celebrate our growing family.  I felt loved and so blessed to experience that celebration and I cannot wait for our little to come into this world where she is already loved and cared for by so many.

I mean come on...

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Thankful Thursday

Today I am especially thankful for flip flops, sunshine and a house full on a busy weekend.  Sometimes it's just good to be surrounded by the people who know you best.

What are you thankful for this week?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Incentive Charts

If you have ever had a two year old or attempted to potty train you know incentive charts can be a huge help!  If the child is motivated by stickers or prizes, this form of encouragement can be extremely beneficial.  But, the truth is, toddlers are not the only ones these charts will work with.

I worked with a 9 year old who needed to do a lot of hard work to get back to her baseline and much of this work included painful stimuli.  She was motivated in the beginning simply by wanting to get out of bed, but quickly learned that meant pain and she was becoming reluctant to participate in physical therapy.  I found an incentive chart with prizes along the way to be the perfect motivation and distraction to get through those tough days.  We created this candy land incentive chart and I got really lucky when we had just enough blocks to get her through the most difficult part of her hospitalization.

There are tons of ways to visually record progress that will encourage any individual to stick to their goals, even adults.  All that is needed is a solid goal and a little motivation {prize, money, etc.} to get most individuals ready to move.  Whether the goal is weight loss, a vacation, new job or other exciting event, by mapping out a plan and setting up rewards along the way, most individuals will meet their goal much faster.

Since we are doing most of the house renovations ourselves, I thought it would be perfect to do a little incentive chart to keep us focused on our goals.  I feel encouraged when I can cross off the next item on a list.  We talked about what order we wanted to do the work and then decided we would put money in a jar when these things are complete to put toward something special.  This will be especially helpful {hopefully} when our projects drag on and it is difficult to see the end in sight.

How have you used incentive charts in your own life?  Have you ever attempted to use an incentive chart personally or with a child that did not work?  I am curious about your experience and would love to read about it in the comments!



Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Play as an escape

Children play to express themselves, understand their world and escape an over stimulating experience.  Play is a stress relief and it brings joy - never pain.  Children are able to use play for daily enjoyment and to get through hard times.

Since buying a house and deciding to do some major renovations, my husband and I have found less time to play together.  We used to travel, hike, explore and create on a regular basis.  We are in a different season of life now and I found myself searching for new ways to be playful.  When I thought about the purpose of play for children, I came to a new understanding for myself.  I had to consider what would provide me with expression, understanding and an escape?  How could I find joy and relief from stress when life had become so busy?

Personally, I can find these things through the retreat that is about to be my patio.  This is a place Jared and I can enjoy the beautiful weather, take a break from the craziness inside our home and spend quality time together.  We decided to start with chairs that would offer the quickest opportunity for retreat.  I cannot wait to share our new play space when it's finished!

Where do you find relief from stress and an escape from the craziness of life? 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Guest Post || The Universal Language of Play

Thank you Chelsea for inviting me to share my experience on your Play Lady blog.  I love that you have chosen to embrace the name Play Lady.  

Play is such an important part of who we are as people (little or big)!  I recently traveled to Cambodia as the Child Life Specialist on an Operation Smile Mission. It was my second Op. Smile Mission, the first being a trip to India. Because I dont speak any of the 10,000 dialects spoken in India, and I dont speak Khamer the primary language spoken in Cambodia, I was faced with connecting with children (and adults) through the language of tone, expression, gesture and PLAY.  

Child life “play areas” were very simple, a couple of mats or mattresses on the floor covered by a colorful sheet or table cloth, some basic supplies (whatever fits in a suitcasecrayons, markers, coloring sheets, crafts, balls, matchbox cars, bubbles, stickers). In India many of the children (and even adults) had not colored before and were fascinated by the process. The children and their parents were intrigued by all the toys, and joined pretty readily in the activities. One little wind-up chick bounced across the floor to squeals of delight. Bubble blowing was, of course, the hit of the day!  It made me think about the true essence of play:  spontaneity, fueled by curiosity, and experiencing the unexpected. True play is really joyful, and I am humbled by the joy that I found in these poverty stricken pockets of the world. 

One of my favorite memories in India, is grown men playing. Our child life area was in a hallway next to the maternity unit.  There were several babies being born during the week I was there.  We had a roll-a-way screen between the child life area and the fathers waiting area. Often times I would notice fathers peeking around the screen to see what we were doing.  They would go back to the task of waiting.  I brought several matchbox cars and one of the children inadvertently rolled one under the dividing screen and into the waiting area. To my delight,  I heard two young fathers talking and laughing. They examined the car, turned it this way and that and then started rolling it back and forth between them, playing with it. I am reminded that many adults have forgotten how to play, and have lost the play connection with their own children. This my friend is an excuse to PLAY today regardless of your age. And if you have children, remember play is an important way to connect with them. 

After the mission in Cambodia, I traveled with several team members to visit ancient 12th century temples in the Northern part of Cambodia (Angkor Wat).  As this is a wonderful tourist attraction, many children who live in the area with their families can be found at the temples trying to sell postcards, or trinkets. According to our tour guide, these families depend on the income from these sales to survive. The likelihood that tourist will buy items from children is high, so children are taught to sell and earn income at an early age. They can usually say a few phrases in English, like “please maam, just a dollar for you. Please maam I want to go to school.  They follow you and it is so….hard to say no (I have more trinkets than I need for sure). Day two of site seeing, I packed a few toys (bubbles, cars, and mirrors) in my backpack and when a child would walk beside me and ask “just a dollar for you maam” and show me all they had to sell, I would give them a toy. Unexpected, they would smile with delight when I blew some bubbles or gave them a toy. I gave onematchbox car to a young boy (about 5 or 6 years old). He smiled and clear as day in English he said, “Can I have one for my friend?” I reached in my bag and pulled out a second one.  He sat down on the edge of the temple path and began to play with his cars. As I continued down the walkway, I heard a gruff voice and saw a man (likely his father) come through the crowd, carrying a long thin stick and looking angry.  I was concerned he would hit the boy! (he didnt thank goodness or I might be jailed in Cambodia right now). The boy immediately got to work selling his postcards, but he tucked the little cars into his pocket and gave me a smile. The desire to play, and the connection are universal. I hope this little guy will get to take a break and share his new found treasure with his friend.  Play is always more fun when shared with a friend!

Michele Tryon, MA, BS, CCLS 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Sunshine Filled weekend!

I am so excited for this weekend!  I have so many fun plans {which include yummy food} and reuniting with some dear friends, all with the weather man's promise of warmth and sunshine!!! Whether you can celebrate the traditional weekend or if you have to find other time - make sure you schedule time to play!  It is an excellent stress relief, but often overlooked in the business of life.  I can't wait to share some exciting posts next week, including my first guest blog post - a mentor, child life guru and parenting expert, Michele Tryon!

Try to keep up {life is to short not to have fun} and be ready to be inspired next week with all the play that is happening around here.  

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for spring......even if the weather isn't sure, my calendar says we are almost to the perfect date night of the year APRIL 25 and that is something to celebrate :)

I am also thankful for a little who quickly became his own person and can decide he no longer wants milk on his cereal

And for mamas who constantly teach me about unconditional love and unbelievable amounts of patience 

Happy Thursday my loves!  What are you thankful for today?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Indoor Play

Spring is here and while we welcome it with open arms, there are still those times when kids cannot go outside for whatever reason.  This can be extremely difficult and lead to frustration, especially for toddlers and preschool age children who need close supervision or for kiddos who are stuck in a hospital bed either on isolation or unable to get up to the playroom.  The best thing to do is prepare for these days and have a few activities tucked away for the perfect moment.

My sister created this perfect little set-up for my three year old nephew and he played with it for a substantial amount of time, but the best part was that he came back to it in between playing outside or doing other activities.  

All you need is a tray, some flour and a toy (or two) for a great distraction.  This tray was perfect because the flour could be moved from one section to another and it was deep enough to keep the flour in it.  Surprisingly, my nephew didn't try to push the limits or spread the flour everywhere - it is certainly a possibility which is why it is so important to consider each child individually before providing these materials for play.  However, despite the potential mess, it is easy clean up {just throw away the flour after each use} plus, if you know me, you know I love a little messy play once in awhile.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Thankful Thursday

Today, on National Sibling Day, I have to give a big shout out to my siblings!!! I am so thankful for each one of you and I love you more than life!  You make the world go round and our little crew will always be my number 1! 

What are you thankful for today? 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

My Calling

I never considered myself "called" to be a mom.  Of course it is a great gift and a wonderful blessing, but a calling?  I am called to work with children and families, to encourage others and provide support during crisis - except I'm not.  Since we moved I haven't been able to find a job, despite applying for so many that some organizations may be tired of seeing my name.  At first this was terribly frustrating.  I enjoy working and I feel a sense of accomplishment when I contribute to our family financially.  Working outside my home must be my calling since it brings me great joy - except it's not.

So instead of applying for random jobs and feeling frustrated in my lack of employment, I have had this wonderful opportunity to learn in a way I never imagined.  I may be good at working, but that is not my calling.  God has showed me a different calling, one that I knew all along, but never thought was enough in the world.  I am called to be a child of the King.  This calling looks different at different stages of life.  Before, when I was working, I was called to be employed - supporting strangers and being an example of God's love during crisis.  In this season, I am called to learn to love my husband unconditionally {which currently looks like me cooking food I would never eat because it's his favorite!} and make our house a place of rest even through the chaos of renovations.  I am called to carry this baby and be a mom to her in a few short months.  I am called to be a friend and be available when others need me.  

My calling right now may look a little different on the outside than it did a few months ago, but it's really the same calling with different surroundings.  I am called to be a child of the King and to do {whatever I am doing} to bring honor and glory to His name.  I am called to be a mom because He has provided me with the opportunity to carry a baby which is a great blessing and that {I am told} will never stop being my calling.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

DIY kinda weekend

I have been searching for the perfect chalk board for when this little arrives.  I found a few that I like but were either the wrong size or the wrong price.  Chalk boards are everywhere now and maybe a little overdone, but they are so fun to use as props in pictures and are fancier than just a piece of paper.  After a trip to Michaels I had the tools to create exactly what I had envisioned for under $7.  

I already had painters tape and brushes so that left the acrylic paint, chalk board spray paint and the actual wooden piece.  I taped the edges to give me the best lines before using the spray paint and, of course, went outside to spray.  I did 3 coats which seems to be adequate.  The wooden piece was not perfectly even and there were a few spots where the chalk board paint got under the tape, but I was able to mask that with the acrylic paint.

If they were spray painted prior, this would be a great activity to do with children.  It encourages communication, creativity and can be used in many different settings thanks to chalk pens that are dust-free!  Michaels has a large selection of these wooden pieces which could be used for any number of projects.  

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for the warm sun that is shining even though the weather man called for rain, for the promise of spring and surprises that pop up in our new garden even though we haven't touched it

and for progress in our house that comes in the form of demolishing a wall or two

Happy Thursday my friends!  What are you thankful for today?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Diamond in the Rough

It's no shock that since I have moved, I have been less than pleased with the opportunities in the area.  It wonderful being near family, but I miss friends and my beach.  The negative degree temperatures and snow have not helped me ease into this change one bit.  But the snow has melted and with spring right around the corner, I have found a glimmer of hope {a few glimmers of hope, but that's for another day}.

This little store along Rt 11 in Danville, PA is a true gem.  Outside there are all sorts of old items...shutters, windows, crates, etc.  I went searching for an old door and left with an excitement for decorating my entire house with the treasures they have within their four walls.  The owners are so sweet and went above and beyond to welcome each person who walked in the door.  Everything from letters, wreaths, ribbon and chalk boards to jewelry, candles and clothes makes this store feel like a real treasure hunt!  I can't wait to finish the renovations in the house we I can go back for more!  If you come to visit, you better believe I will take you there at least once!

Hospital Waiting Room

It was that dreaded appointment where I needed to go in for my glucose test.  I knew the basics of the test, but the details were a bit of a mystery.  Every lab does it a little differently.  I had to drink the sugary orange drink {I had no choice in flavor} in five minutes and then sit and wait for an hour.  

While waiting, I experienced a new way of life...a hospital waiting room.  I have spent a lot of time inside the hospital for work, but I have spent very little - if any time in the waiting room.  When I go to a waiting room as a professional, I typically accompany the doctor, social worker or chaplain.  It is almost 100% of the time to provide support after upsetting news is given.  But then, after my work is complete, I can leave.

While waiting I watched.  I watched people from all different walks of life attempt to make some sense of their day.  I watched and I learned.  To some this waiting room had become a place of refuge.  To others it was an opportunity to be unknown.  And for some it was a meeting place to catch up with friends and family in hopes of forgetting the previous hours, days or weeks of living within those four walls.  

This waiting room is a hard place to be in and a space that I do not hope to go back to.  Each person has a story and whether they force a smile or stare blankly ahead, they are doing the best that they can in that moment.  And while it is my instinct to offer support or strike up a conversation, this time it was much more powerful to just watch.