Friday, May 30, 2014

Human Connection

I was recently introduced to Dr. Brenè Brown's TED Talks by a dear friend and mentor.  Dr. Brown received her Ph.D. in social work, is a professor at the University of Huston and focuses her research on the human connection, specifically vulnerability, courage, worthiness and shame. {Check out her work and be inspired by her thoughts here} In this talk, I was overwhelmed as I considered the difference one person can make, especially in the life of a child.

In her work, Dr. Brown found "people who experience a strong sense of love and belonging {human connection}, believe they are worthy of love and belonging".  These people had four things in common:

1. Courage

2. Compassion

3. Connection

4. Vulnerability

Now why is that so important?  Theses things are often cultivated early in childhood by an influential adult.  Dr. Brown speaks specifically to parenting, but I don't think it needs to only come from a parent.  Instead, any consistent, trustworthy adult can change the life of a child by saying, 'I know you are not perfect and I do not expect you to be.  You are going to face struggles and you will not always succeed, but I love you and I believe you are worthy of love and belonging!'

Understand worthiness and entitlement are two very different things.  Children in the U.S. do not struggle with a sense if entitlement, but that is not fostered in love and does not bring a strong human connection which so many people are lacking today.  Saying to a child, spouse, sibling, or friend, 'I believe you are worthy of love and belonging' has the power to change a life and build confidence where there used to be only shame and doubt.

Be that person in the life of another, even if it is only a short period of time.  It would be amazing to see how different the world would be if a generation of children believed they were worthy of love and belonging.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Thankful Thursday

This week I am especially thankful for birthdays that are celebrated all week long

Flowers that keep popping up with no help from me

Husbands who work hard and sleep hard

This little face and her new love of sharing secrets

And the hope of meeting our little soon {how much bigger can one person get??}

Happy Thursday friends!  What are you thankful for this week?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Importance of Unstructured Play

Yesterday one of my favorite bloggers, Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson from Seattle Mama Doc discuses the value of play, specifically unstructured play!  In her post she said, "Boredom can be good for heavily scheduled children and can foster creativity", which made me think of boredom in today's society in a whole new light.

When I was a child, we played outside every chance we got!  In the summer, we could easily be outside for 10 or 11 hours, taking only occasional breaks for food and hydration.  I don't remember feeling bored, but I do remember if we mentioned boredom my mom could come up with a chore to do or my grandfather would say "boredom is a choice".  Boredom was equated to laziness or lack of motivation.  If we were bored, we could quickly imagine a new world to explore or create a new game to play.

In society today, children are not given the opportunity to feel boredom because their schedules are so full with lessons, camps, and other planned events.  Plus, the moment they do experience the foreign concept of boredom, their minds often search for technology to fill that void and experience immediate relief.  Now boredom could be seen as a gift to children whose schedules look like the equivalent of two full-time jobs.

Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson created 7 tips for a successful start to summer which can be found here.  These ideas help parents better understand how to facilitate and encourage unstructured play for their children who are typically on a strict schedule.  If those schedules are suddenly missing from the child's life it can lead to feelings of chaos, loss of control, confusion and stress.  But, if presented in an appropriate way, unstructured play can bring children back to childhood and allow imagination and creativity to flow freely.

More information about the value of unstructured play and this original picture can be found here.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Shower Remodel

When we moved into our new house, we decided to make quite a few changes including laying hardwood floor throughout and painting the entire place.  To get our feet wet we chose to take on the 'small' project of our bathroom.  While it could have used a few updates, we could live without them and thought instead we would simply paint and add some shelves.  

It turned into a much bigger project than we ever imagined because of this mess.

The window was lovely for natural light, but it was poorly constructed and we found water had been leaking behind the tile in several spots.  After removing a small portion of dry wall, we found mold.  We could never have been prepared for the mess that was to come.  After a lot of stress and frustration, we decided to make a temporary fix until we could save up the money to have it fixed right.  We had a lot of other projects that needed finished before the baby came.

Our distress led to several conversations with a family friend who encouraged us to put this project high on our priority list and even offered to come take care of the mess!  Check out his ministry here.

Owning a house is not easy.  The previous owners may not have kept up with the needs of the house or disclosed all the issues and while that is part of the risk, we have been incredibly blessed to have an amazing support system who have helped us through the stress and unexpected bumps in the road along the way.

36 weeks = 9 months

They say a person's pregnant for 9 months, but if you do the math it's closer to10 months...that's just two months short of an entire year!  No wonder women are done by the end and ready to get those babies out.  

"They" say a lot about pregnancy, but I have been completely blessed with a wonderful pregnancy, very few symptoms and {other than my recent occasional cankles} I still feel great, big, but good.  I am so thankful for my husband who loves this belly, my family who have supported me through everything the past year has brought and friends that are walking through this journey with me {AND peanut butter cups}.  I am beyond excited to meet this little and love on her in my arms!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for beautiful sisters that can always make time to reunite...

sometimes you just need to be surrounded by family, with your feet up and a few kool-pops.

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

Monday, May 19, 2014

Identifying safe adults for your child

The topic of stranger danger is not a foreign concept but, has been modified lately to teach children about tricky or untrustworthy people.  It is rather difficult to each children who to trust and who to stay away from, although I have seen time and time again where a child's instincts are even better than an adult's.  If your child is uneasy or nervous around another person, I would encourage you to respect those reactions and allow your child to have the space he needs to feel safe {even if it is a family member or friend}. It can be difficult to understand, but should be supported in order to maintain those keen instincts.

A helpful tool to identify safe adults is this worksheet that can be found here.

It could also be used as a therapeutic tool to identify adults that may be untrustworthy or 'tricky'.

Some signs your child may not feel safe around a particular person include:

-Becoming unusually shy

-Showing strong emotions of fear, sadness, or aggression

-Exhibiting behaviors that are uncharacteristic including regression of any sort, refusing to show affection, or acting out in anger

The same difficulty can come when attempting to teach your child whose rules must be followed, especially a toddler.  Certainly children must learn to listen to their parent or caregiver and rules are placed to maintain safety, but it is also important to identify other adults who have the similar authority if they exist.

I recently spent the weekend with my nephew and learned how important this concept truly is.  While playing outside, my nephew was driving around his police car and did not listen to me when I told him to stop for an oncoming car.  Thankfully my parents live in a quiet neighborhood with little traffic so there was no imminent danger, but an important lesson was presented to be learned.  I took him inside to allow his mom to handle the situation however she felt fit.  I was surprised and intrigued when she told my nephew that I was an adult that needed to be listened to like his mom and dad.  She identified me as a safe person who must be respected and obeyed.

My family is large and we spend a lot of time together so we end up co-parenting a little which works for us and is something I am thankful for and appreciate.  I understand this is not appropriate for every family, but it works for us.  Being able to teach children whose rules to follow can prove to be an important life lesson.  We must listen to parents, teachers, police officers, etc.  But it is ok, and should be encouraged, for children to check with their parents before listening to the rules of every adult. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Friday, May 16, 2014

Organic Raspberry Leaf Tea

My sister gave me this wonderful gift a few weeks ago and I cannot get enough!  This week I have spent entirely to much time in bed due to a bad cold, but this tea has helped soothe my throat, can decrease fever, tastes yummy and has many benefits for women - I could not resist sharing!  

I know you can buy the tea here and here, but I am sure it can be found many other places.

The benefits of this tea for women's health is outstanding.  While it can help with cramps and regulating periods, I am currently most excited about the extensive benefits during pregnancy and postpartum which include:

~Easing morning sickness

~Relaxing muscles of the uterus during contractions

~Strengthening uterine muscles (to prepare for labor AND tget you back to pre-baby weight after delivery)

~Decreasing bleeding postpartum

~Increasing breast milk supply

I found even more benefits under the resource section here.  And while I have been drinking it as hot tea with honey, I am excited to freeze it and use the ice chips during labor!  Organic raspberry leaf can be consumed by tea bag, tablet or loose leaf tea.  It should be utilized most heavily during the third trimester and, as always, consult your midwife or doctor before using during pregnancy (especially during the first trimester).  I have noticed more movement and more Braxton Hicks (never more than four in one hour), but I am also 35 weeks and other factors could have come into play including cold medication, natural sugar from the honey I have added to the tea and my decreased activity due to being sick.

**I have not been compensated for my review of this product and this post is completely my own opinion, about my own experiences**

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Thankful Thursday

Today, after two very long days of laying in bed due to a nasty cold, I am very thankful for warm tea that soothes my throat and my soul

Yummy clover honey that is fancy enough to have a pink ribbon wrapped around it

And these beauties that taste even better than they look

Happy Thursday!  What are you thankful for today?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A book review :: Loving Your Child Too Much

The newest addition to my library is this gem by Dr. Tim Clinton and Dr. Gary Sibcy

I was first drawn to this book because of the tag line that was added:  staying close to your kids without overprotecting, overindulging or overcontrolling

This book gives a step-by-step teaching to have a home that allows success and mistakes, encourages strong character and give good gifts without creating an attitude of entitlement.  Even though I have just started this book, I have already learned so much about myself and my tendency to overprotect and to overcontrol.  Not every parent will have the same tendencies, but this book will allow you to identify yours and learn how those attitudes and interactions can negatively impact your child AND how to move away from those things to build an even closer relationship with your child.

What I most appreciate about this book is the way Dr. Clinton and Dr. Sibcy explain each area and then give practical ideas of moving away from those bad habits.  Their methods can be used with children of any age and they use biblical principles and verses to back up their work.

Monday, May 12, 2014

8 months

34 weeks and movements from our little are now seen from across the room.  Laying down to take a really good deep breath has become a favorite pastime.  And chocolate and peanut butter will forever be the bomb dot com.  6 more weeks till this little graces us with her presence and I. Can't. Wait. 

**Photo by DMS Photography.  Check her out on Facebook or email to get more information.**

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for a house that is being transformed into our home, the promise of hope for those who believe and the opportunity to go through boxes and eliminate half of the stuff we have managed to collect over the past 4 years!

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

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Planning Ahead to Play

 When parents play with their children they are building a nurturing, trusting relationship that can last a lifetime.  With one child it is easy to find time and space to play, but when you add a newborn or multiple children that ease slips away.  Suddenly there is more to think about, even less free time and siblings can often play together which leaves parents utilizing that time for other responsibilities.  Playing with your children as a family, as well as, individually must be a conscious decision that, often, takes planning and a little effort.  But trust me, if that effort is made it will be totally worth it!

I continue to be completely amazed by my sister and the lessons I learn from her about parenting and play.  This weekend she was telling me that her house looked like a tornado had gone through it.  I told her to forget about it and reminded her that she could clean when she is old.  But what she said next stuck with me and continues to be on my mind...she said she needed to clean up so her and her 3 year old had space to play while her newborn was napping.

What a powerful idea...plan ahead to create a safe play space.  She knew having the living room full of toys, clothes, the mail, diaper bag, etc. would overwhelm her and overstimulate her toddler which would not allow for a meaningful play time.  So by planning ahead and making the effort, she was able to enjoy play time and showed her son that he was worth her time and energy!

Now this type of interaction may not be feasible every day and certainly life gets busy, but this type of love and dedication to your children makes me excited for my own little to arrive and gives me hope that good ol' fashioned play time is not obsolete.

What new and exciting ways are you finding to engage your children in play?

Monday, May 5, 2014

Happy Nurses Week!

Tuesday, May 6 is National Nurses Day and the official start of Nurses week!  Here are just a few of the nurses I know and love...I mean look at these beautiful people who give of themselves everyday!  I am so blessed by their dedication, compassion, sense of humor and ability to know just what to do in the most unnerving situations.

To all the amazing nurses in my life, thank you for all that you do!  I hope this week, of all weeks, you feel appreciated and celebrated.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Thankful Thursday

Today I am especially thankful for Pennsylvania mountains and wild flowers!  There is just something about this place that is so comforting and brings peace to my soul.  

The rain has finally stopped on this beautiful first day of May {at least for now}, I get to hear my little's heartbeat in a few short hours and I have spent the morning getting crafty for the Mother's Day brunch we are planning!  It's a good day!

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