Monday, September 29, 2014

Win FOUR headbands for your little girl

I just can't get enough of this picture or this headband!  My friends at Cunningham Custom Creations have made sure this little girl has the best accessories and now you can get in on that action too!  Cunningham Custom Creations is giving you the opportunity to win these four headbands...

All you have to do it like them on Facebook and post a picture to Facebook (tag Cunningham Custom Creations) or Instagram (#cunninghamcustomcreations) of an outfit that would be complete with one or all of these cute headbands!  A winner will be chosen based on creativity and originality this Wednesday evening and announced Thursday morning!  You can post more than once, but don't forget to tag Cunningham Custom Creations so we can see your cute ideas!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Say Goodbye

David Crenshaw is a clinical psychologist and a guru in the areas of play and pet therapy.  He is brilliant and I have learned so much from his words of wisdom and clinical advice on various topics.  Recently he posted this to his Facebook....

"Say goodbye to anyone who diminishes you.
Say arrivederci to anyone who punctures your spirit.
Say adios to anyone who makes you feel "less than".
Say au revoir to anyone who disrespects your dignity.
Those who treat you in such ways are not worthy of you.
Say hello, ciao, hola, bonjour to a person who dignifies your presence."

While this is often easier said than done, it is important to adopt this mindset so that we can be an example of healthy living to those around us, especially children learning to create healthy relationships.  Life is too short to not be surrounded by love.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Weekend Getaway || Ithaca, NY

A few weekends ago we went to Ithaca, NY for a beautiful wedding at the Ithaca Farmers Market.  We didn't have near enough time to explore, but with a new baby it's not as easy to get away.  Saturday evening was the perfect weather for a wedding.  It was a beautiful venue and we enjoyed catching up with dear friends, eating yummy food and not worrying about bedtime {although it was glorious falling asleep in a pile of pillows and sleeping in}.  

Sunday morning we went back to explore the Farmers Market for breakfast.  I could have spent the day {actually the entire week} exploring, but we needed to get on the road.  I had the most amazing breakfast burrito and double chocolate chip cookie {no judgement}.  I found cute stands with homemade soaps, beautiful pottery, and every veggie imagineable.

Someday I will come back to this beautiful place for the hiking, kayaking, paddle boarding and, of course, more yummy food!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Morning Walks

This morning I set out for a walk with the little one in the sling and my pup's leash wrapped around my wrist.  I was clearly losing control with a crying baby and a dog that was less interested in walking and more interested in sniffing.  An older man was working in his yard and stopped us to talk.  I usually keep it short and sweet when there is crying because I assume it bothers people and I hope that if I keep moving it will calm her and help her fall asleep.  But this man was not bothered by the crying or my lack of control.

I prepared for the typical questions I hear when people see I have an infant which include:

"Does she sleep for you?"

"Is she a fussy baby?"

"Is she a good baby?"

I hate all those questions.  It's as if a person can understand my experience or my baby with those ridiculous questions and my answers seem to be placed on some invisible scale to determine my ability to adjust and be happy.

Assuming this would be a similar conversation, I was pleasantly surprised and a bit taken back, when this man first asked two questions that changed my day.... "Is she healthy?" and "Do you love her?"

I smiled and was able to happily answer 'yes' to both questions.  We contined to talk for a minute about how fast the years fly by, the beautiful weather and football {We Are!}.  I left the conversation feeling good about being a parent and feeling blessed by this healthy, screaming baby in my arms.  By asking two simple questions, this man changed my outlook, reminded me of my blessings and made me smile in an otherwise chaotic moment.  And even though she did not fall asleep, I did get this happy face when she was able to sit in her swing.

Words are powerful and can impact positive change when used correctly.  It's like my mom always says, "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all".

Friday, September 12, 2014

8 Ways Our Marriage Changed After Baby

We were married 4 years before we added a little one to the mix, which I recognize now means absolutely nothing, but at the time I thought it meant unending love, understanding and patience.  Oh how I miss the fairy tale world I used to live in.

So now that I am obviously an expert on marriage after having a baby {insert sarcastic tone here}, I would like to share my completely unique experiences with all those who have never experienced parenthood {neither being a parent nor having parents of your own}

1.  Never before has the topic of sleep caused so much anger, jealousy and frustration.  How is it that I hear every sound and he could sleep through an earthquake?  And why can he fall asleep seconds after laying her down and that is the exact time my mind goes into over-drive?

2.  Household responsibilities have changed dramatically.  Before the baby we really shared responsibilities, now I am home all day but it's all I can do to grab a granola bar to feed my face between feeding, changing and rocking.

3.  That "new scent" he smells when he kisses me goodnight may or may not be a lovely mixture of milk and spit-up and that seems to be ok {for now}

4.  Alone time now has different meanings to different people.  I find alone time on a walk or locked in the bathroom with the shower running when I am, in fact, alone.  He believes this is time for just the two of us right after she goes to bed...ain't nobody got time for that.

5.  Exciting adventures now include family walks around the block or successful trips to the store - always planned around feedings and nap time

6.  Once in awhile I just lay in the middle of the floor and cry.  This experience no longer requires an explanation and he just walks around me, assuming I won't want to talk and maybe I will just fall asleep

7.  We still try really hard not to go to bed angry, but if we wake up in the middle of the night, every emotion is fair game

8.  Even though we rarely understand each other and our patience is thin, we have learned to extend grace and love, which seems to get us through all the other bull $#*%

Thursday, September 11, 2014

{Thankful} Thoughts

Today I am especially thankful for the men and women who served and still serve our country for my freedom.  I will never forget where I was 13 years ago and how my idea of safety and security was rocked to the core.  While I never want to forget, today I also choose to remember the people who live in areas around the world where safety is a word without meaning and everyday is a nightmare like our 9.11

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

3 Months

Three months already?! On the one hand we are shocked at how fast it's gone by and on the other we are relieved that we are all still alive. Finally after 6 different bottles and 5 different pacifiers, you have chosen one of each which has been a real game changer! You are a rock star at night and take your time to stretch and get ready for the day in the morning. You prefer company in the backseat of the car and only like to snuggle during nap time. You smile more than you cry and your coos consume us as we listen to your stories! Thank you for your patience as we figure out this new gig! We love you sweet baby!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

10 Characteristics of Lasting Love

You know when you see two people who belong together and everything in the world is right when they can live happily ever after?  Ok that might be a little dramatic, but there are people out there that restore my hope in the kind of love that can last a lifetime.  This past weekend I was able to share in the wedding of my dear friends whose love for each other inspired me to think about lasting love in a world where that idea is often a fairy tale and rarely expected in real life.

Now I won't pretend to be a love guru and I certainly don't have it all together in this department, but here are ten things I know about lasting love....

1.  Love without God is lost

2.  Love that lasts is self-sacrificing

3.  Love does not have to be based on mutual interests or shared hobbies

4.  Love can come in waves of feelings, but must be steady in commitment 

5.  Love that lasts is tolerant of many different emotions even when those emotions are not completely understood

6.  Love surrounded by laughter can make it through hard times

7.  Love that lasts always puts the other person first

8.  Love that pulls you from your comfort zone and pushes you to try new things will make you stronger as a person and as a couple

9.  Love that hurts should be let go of

10.  Love that lasts is not always rewarding, but it is always worth it

*Bonus:  11.  Love that follows 1 Corinthians 13 will last

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

My Grocery Store Getaway

As I walked into the grocery store, I hurried to the one aisle that had the two things I needed:  a bottle brush and diapers.  Well that was quick and easy.  I started for the register, but instead looked down at my phone.  I had exactly 1 hour and 48 minutes until a little girl would need me with intentions of literally sucking the life out of me.  So instead of turning left at the end of the aisle, I slowly turned right and wondered through every single aisle, carefully searching the shelves to appear on task, but allowing my mind to wonder freely and even go numb at times.  I walked through every single aisle, occasionally picking up a product only to look it over and slowly sit it back down on the shelf.  I had no intention of buying anything else, but I couldn't bring myself to leave so soon.  There was a chance I could find something that I had never found before, something we desperately needed and never knew about, but there was a greater chance I may not get out of the house tomorrow and I wanted to savor this moment.  

On my second trip through the store (yes I went through twice) I felt refreshed and surprisingly calm.  Maybe it was the mist from the produce section that I accidentally got to close to or maybe it was the past hour of no one crying in my ear or even saying my name, but I started to notice other people.  Other mom's were doing the same thing...the mom standing with her face inside the ice cream freezer with her eyes closed, her hands never reaching for the tasty treat.  The mom picking up every can of beans only to sit it right back down on the shelf and move on to do the same thing with each bottle of vinegar.  And the mom who was clearly exhausted as she walked slowly through the cereal aisle, leaving a trail of once frozen corn from the bottom of her cart where her frozen foods had thawed long ago.

I used to think a getaway meant a planned vacation, maybe an island with blue water and white sand or at least a weekend away, exploring a new city, but now my getaways include extra long trips to the grocery store ALONE and somehow that makes me just as happy.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

5 Ways to Encourage Independent Play in Childhood

Independent play is a normal part of childhood seen in the early stages of development.  This type of play is extremely valuable in the busy world of school, practice, church, and responsibilities of parents. When children are able to develop this skill and enjoy time alone, the benefits can last a lifetime.

Here are 5 ways to encourage independent play:  

1. Provide toys that fight for imagination
Toys that do not talk or lead the child in a particular direction allow their imagination to flow freely and encourage creativity instead of direction and regulation.  When a child is encouraged to use their imagination, he's options in play are endless and allow independent play to be much easier and much more enjoyable.

2. Don't overstimulate with to many choices
With to many choices, children may become overstimulated and be unable to focus long enough on one idea or experience.  With a few options of toys that can be used multiple ways, children have space to create and are more likely to feel empowered in their creative process.  Some examples include:  blocks, a house, figurines or supplies for dress-up.

3. Be available
By not jumping in or assuming the child needs a companion to play, but still being available as needed puts the child in charge of his play.  Child-directed play is essential to building a trusting relationship and creates a safe place for indepentant play as desired.

4. Never do for a child what he can do for himself
Adults are quick to rescue a child or make assumptions during play.  This is not only stifles the child's creativity, but also teaches him that he must rely on an adult instead of working his own brain muscle. 

5.  Trust the process
Some adults are very uncomfortable with children playing alone.  Society today forces entertainment on children and adults alike.  Instead of creating our own adventure, we can rely on a new movie or video game to stimulate our mind.  Children do not need help playing and are actually able to use play as a tool for learning about the world around them.  It is not until they are taught boredeom and reliance that they experience it.

Photo Credit:  DMS Photography