Friday, January 30, 2015

Words Of Wisdom From My Grandma

I found this sweet picture while I was looking through my photos and I thought these words of wisdom were the perfect way to start the weekend...

Swaddling blankets aren't square
Don't stress about folding them perfectly because it's a waste of time and energy

Always write names one the back of pictures
You think you will remember, but you won't 

Be willing to give away anything in your home - except your tooth brush
Things are irreplaceable, people and memories are not; however, as a nurse and mom of five she must encourage strong oral hygiene 

Happy Friday!  (Not that a Friday with little ones is different than any other day of the week, but have a happy one none the less)  

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Oh The Places My Laundry Will Go

I recently saw the most beautiful picture on Instagram of two little ones playing in a clean, perfectly decorated living room.  I looked around and what I saw was nothing like that picture.  If you came to my house at anytime during the week, you are likely to find huge piles of laundry waiting......

.....waiting to be washed
.....waiting to be folded
.....waiting to be put away

I have found that having a baby leaves my laundry in limbo for days.  When I was once able to do four or five loads of laundry in a day, I now struggle to finish one.

I realize that picture on Instagram could certainly be an exception because we all want to show off the good stuff and I want to high-five that mom for having her $&/% together even for a moment.  But my reality is messy and, lately, I am ok with that.  I have found more important things to fill my time so forgive my mess and be warned if you come to visit, it won't be a clean house, but it will be a playful house!

Monday, January 26, 2015

A Letter To My Pre-Parent Self

Dear Little,
You will never believe this life in a million years. You are working so hard to make a name for yourself, to prove yourself in the professional world and in the blink of an eye will leave it all for late night feedings, dirty diapers and sweatpants.  You are a good friend and you go above and beyond to check in with the ones you love, but wait to see who returns that same effort when you have nothing extra to will be pleasantly surprised.  You thought it was great "easing into marriage" when you only saw your husband on weekends, but without notice you will be thrown into a full-time marriage as full-time parents and realize you have a lot to learn.  Your passion for planning the next big trip or opportunity will be replaced with a desire to plan each day to ensure your baby has exactly what she needs to be happy.  Your house will not be clean, you will not always be clean and your excitement might be waiting for your husband to get home from work or learning your mom is coming for the day, but you will figure it out.  You won't remember a month and a half of your life because of the hormones in your own body that turned against you and you will wonder why you made the choices that brought you to this point.

But after the chaos, upset and confusion you will come out on top.  You will realize a piece of you was missing and you never even knew it.  You will realize you are the most selfish person, but you will learn selflessness and you will do more inside the four walls of your home than you could ever imagine.  This life isn't anything like you imagined.  It's hard, ugly, heavy and exhausting but, it's also amazing, beautiful and more than you deserve.  Most days you will think you have nothing left, but just in that moment God will give you a burst of energy to make it through.  Thank goodness this life isn't what you would have missed out on the good stuff.  Remember little, the best is yet to come!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Dirty Little Secrets of Parenthood

Sometimes I exaggerate the last time my baby woke up in the middle of the night or the number of times to my husband so he feels bad for me. He'll jump out of bed and let me sleep a little longer, if I've had a "rough" night... I'll do anything for 30 more minutes.
-mom of a 5 month old

If I have to choose between going to the bathroom or sleep, I always choose sleep.  It's amazing my bladder hasn't burst.
-mom of two, ages 2 and 1

I never folded baby clothes.  They were so little and didn't wrinkle so I just kept them in the 'clean' laundry basket.  The only problem was when my mother in-law came over and wanted to do laundry - I couldn't tell her one basket was clean because she would never approve so she always ended up washing and folding it all.
-mom of two, ages 11 and 8

I work from home so some evenings I tell my husband I need to catch up on work in the office, but instead of doing work I secretly hide out and watch netflix.
-mom of two, ages 3 and 1 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Sweetest Place on Earth

What better way to spend the day than with my favorite people (minus a few) and all the chocolate you could ever want, need or imagine?!  Hershey Chocolate World is the most wonderful place because it is the perfect day trip, it is family friendly and it is free!  We started out with the tour of how chocolate is made which ends with a free chocolate treat - Kit Kat was the pick of the day.  Then we had lunch (make sure you have a chocolate milkshake, but skip the pizza) before riding through the tour for the second time - when you have a three year old with you, all the rules go out the window.  Next we shopped for chocolate goodness, which was eaten up before a picture was taken, but trust me, the chocolate covered pretzel rolled in candy bars was worth the calories!

The park is, of course, closed this time of the year, but the outlets are right down the street so a quick stop was mandatory.  If you have the chance to visit Hersey definitely stop at Chocolate World - and call us to meet up because we love a good excuse for some chocolate!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Guest Post || Pediatric Nurse and Babywearing Mama

I’m Kaitlin, mommy to Aidan, my 10 month old little spitfire.  He is both my greatest blessing and greatest challenge.  Parenting is not at all as I had envisioned it before I had a child of my own.  It has tested and stretched and grown me more in the last 10 months than I could have EVER imagined.  One of the many new things I’ve learned since becoming a mom is the art of babywearing.

Babywearing is my favorite parenting tool.  In the beginning, Aidan was colicky and cried for hours and hours.  It always started around 5 p.m., right as my poor husband was getting home from work.  We spent days and days walking up and down our downstairs hallway bouncing and shushing to no avail.  I received a baby carrier at one of my baby showers.  Exhausted and frustrated one night, after trying everything I knew to soothe him, I decided to put him in the carrier. After getting him in and adjusted, something amazing happened.  He stopped crying.  He snuggled in and fell asleep.  It became a nightly ritual.  Something that dependably soothed him, even at his fussiest.

When I was on maternity leave and needed to get some things done around the house, babywearing allowed me to have my hands free.  I could fold laundry, do some dishes, and maybe have lunch.  Poor Aidan often ended up with crumbs in his hair from whatever I was snacking on.  

Eventually, as he got older I got up the nerve to run some lengthier errands on my own.  Even through grocery shopping and Target runs he was happy as a clam in the carrier.  I’d often get some stares and lots of “they didn’t have those when I had kids” comments from passersby.  Little did they know that women have been wearing their babies since the beginning of time.

As I went back to work and spent long hours away from my sweet baby, babywearing became a tool to reconnect with my baby.  No matter what things I encountered at work (and being a pediatric dialysis nurse I can see some sad things), coming home and wrapping my baby up with me was good for both of our souls.  Snuggling up with him melts away all the stresses from my day and allows us to make the most of the short time we have before bedtime.  When he presses his chubby little cheek up against my back, everything is right in the world


If you’re interested in learning more about babywearing, check out this site to see if there’s a chapter of Babywearing International near you:  At the meetings you can learn about safe babywearing, different types of carriers, and even get help with babywearing from volunteer babywearing educators.  Chapters even have lending libraries so that members can borrow carriers for free to try them out.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

My Baby is Spoiled

I hear the phrase, "if you do {such and such} you will only spoil her", too often for my liking.  At first I just got so annoyed because it was always advice I did not want or ask for.  Now, instead of getting upset, I embrace it.  I am proud to say I am the mother of a completely spoiled 7 month old!

She is picked up every time she cries
She knows that, when she is in need, someone will come to her aid.  She trusts her parents and thinks the world is safe.

She is fed on demand
She is able to nurse as needed - whether she is hungry, tired, overstimulated or just in need of some cuddles.

She is held during most naps
She needs sleep to stay healthy and strong, but she has a hard time staying asleep during nap time if she isn't being held so the people she trusts help make sure she gets the sleep she needs.

She is carried at least part of the day
The days are long and sometimes it nice to just be close - baby carriers were made to make that dream a reality.

She has every toy she wants
She has toys for teething, toys to reach new milestones and toys that teach her and, so far, hasn't complained.

If spoiled means a well-adjusted, healthy baby who knows she is loved and can trust those who care for her, then I am proud to say my baby is spoiled!  I do not think that our way of parenting is the only way or the best way, but it feels right to us so we are going to stick with it.  If your way looks different, but your baby is loved and cared for then keep up the good work!!!!  I think the world would be a better place if it was full of spoiled infants.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Remember to Play

My beautiful sister recently graduated Summa Cum Laude from UNCG!  I am so proud of her accomplishments, but I am even more proud of the woman she has grown to be throughout her journey.  In honor of this woman, her amazing personality and her accomplishments, I wanted to share her example of a playful attitude in adulthood...

Life continues, people must grow up, responsibilities build; however, even though this idea of adulthood is inevitable, there is no need to forget the importance of play.  I am not talking about an immature refusal to become an adult, I am instead referring to a successful, productive member of society who holds on to the playful attitude of childhood that brings joy, relieves stress and suggests good still exists in the world.

My sister has that kind of playful attitude about life.  She is always ready for an adventure, loves to laugh and finds ways to enjoy life - even in the busy times.  This playful spirit is not easily found in adulthood as work, stress and responsibilities often take it's place.  Life happens and we rarely have a choice how it unfolds, but we always have a choice in our reaction and our mindset along the way.  Maintaining a playful attitude will open up new opportunities, decrease stress and ensure a lifetime of stories to share with the world!

How do you maintain a playful attitude in adulthood?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Guest Post || Work Hard, Play Harder

Jess is the mom of two boys and the creative mind behind Give Me Strength where she shares her hilarious and encouraging stories of parenthood.

Balance is the key to so many things in my life.  As a working mother, I have to be away from my kids for approximately 45-50 hours each week.  I work hard.  When I am home, I want that time to count more than anything.  So, I play harder.

As the result of juggling work and motherhood for several years, I’ve come up with some ways to help achieve a sense of balance in each area.  I would love to be a stay-at-home-mom, but that is simply not an option for me.  In order to stay on top of my responsibilities and enjoy every moment I can with my kids, I work to incorporate these things into my daily life.

Leave Work at Work
This has not always been easy for me.  I’m a perfectionist and so I am constantly reviewing things in my head or questioning whether or not situation was handled appropriately.  The last thing I want to do is bring my baggage from work home with me for the evening or weekend.  My kids don’t care about what happened during my work day, nor should they.  They are just excited to see me and I them.  By letting go of ‘work mode,’ I can focus solely on my family when I am with them, and that’s beneficial for all of us.

Plan Ahead
Meal planning and activity planning can be a real lifesaver.  If it has been a rough day at the office, I don’t want to come home and then have to decide what to make for dinner.  To the best of our ability, my husband and I try to discuss what we might want to have for dinner throughout the week so that this responsibility is easier to handle.  

As the boys get older, they want to do different things.  This is where activity planning is helpful.  During warmer weather, we are outside all the time.  We take walks, jump in the creek, and dig in the sand/dirt.  When winter rolls around, it can be much more difficult to add some variety to our activities.  We will plan movie nights where I will rent a movie they haven’t seen and we’ll share snacks. Sometimes we will bake something simple together. Lately, they have really been into building forts.  We’ll see how big we can make the fort or if we can make them in different parts of the house.  Planning ahead doesn’t mean that the activity that you do is elaborate or expensive – that’s just not reality.  It’s just about coming up with ways to have fun together.

Independent Play
I used to feel guilty about encouraging my kids to play independently.  I felt that because I was away from them at work most of the day I should be right by their side for the 4-5 hours we had together each evening and all day long on the weekends.  Then I realized that I wasn’t doing them any favors.  I was becoming their entertainer and it was exhausting and frustrating.  

When I am making dinner or cleaning up after dinner, they are expected to find something to play with on their own.  Thankfully, they have started to enjoy playing with each other so they are able to do that together if they want to.  This has saved my sanity.  I play with them as much as I can, but there are just times when things have to be done.  I am not there during their naptime, so I have to have a little bit of time to get things in order.  

It’s a win-win for all of us.  I can catch up on things, and they have learned to entertain themselves as well as play together.  There are times now that I will be playing with them and they will suddenly decide to play in one of their rooms and I’m not allowed.  I’ll ask why and they’ll say, “We’re going to do boy things!”  

One-on-One Time
Each day, I try to spend at least ten minutes with each of my two children individually.  If I can spend more time than that one-on-one, then that’s even better.  I have made ten minutes my goal because it is attainable no matter when they wake up from their naps or go to bed for the night.  My youngest son usually wakes up from his nap first.  We will snuggle, read, or play with a toy of his choosing during this time.

My oldest son goes to bed about half an hour later than his brother.  The time right before he goes to bed is usually our time together.  We will color, read, bake cookies, relax, etc.  Many times we will just talk.  I love hearing what he has to say.  Now he will tell me, “I need to have a good conversation before I can get any shut eye.”  This is also known as a decent excuse to delay bedtime.

By spending time with them individually, I want to show them how important they are to me. I tell them that all the time, but putting it into action drives the point home. Plus, I think it is really beneficial to show a child that they have your undivided attention.

Helping Hands
I mentioned earlier that there are things that just need to be done either during the course of the day or at different times of the week.  Being a wife, a mother, and a home owner come with a decent amount of responsibilities.  Yes, there are some things that are too dangerous for my children to help me with at their age; however, there are many things that they are capable of doing.  If I need to dust, I give them a cleaning towel and show them what I want them to do.  If I am doing laundry, I will hand them the clothes out of the washing machine and they will load it into the dryer.  They love to help out, especially if they get to run the vacuum.  We are still spending quality time together while simultaneously crossing things off of the to-do list.  Not only that, but they are of the age where they are responsible for cleaning up after themselves.  They will clear their spot at the table and are also expected to put their toys away.  Don’t get me wrong, there are times when getting them to clean up is like pulling teeth, but we stick with it.

Keep in mind, this is how I try to balance work and play.  These are ideal scenarios in my world that obviously don’t always happen.  Balancing a career and motherhood is a never-ending work-in-progress.  Just work hard, but play harder!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

7 Month

Our little girl is getting so big!  I can't believe 7 whole months have gone by.  You are laughing more than crying, bouncing your days away and love to hold hands.  You are starting to get the idea of crawling, but currently move backward which causes great frustration.  You love to try new foods and then play in the mess we make along the way.  We love your sweet kisses, your babbling and your cuddles. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Activity || Mandala

I have always loved to doodle.  During school, lectures, staff meetings, church and other situations where I am sitting still I typically fill up the margins of any piece of paper with doodles.  During a play therapy class I learned about the most wonderful excuse to doodle with a purpose - the mandala!  

This activity can be done at any age and is best set up as a reflection of an experience.  For example, have the client sit in front of an empty circle and think about their day, a recent event or a situation.  Ask her to think about her feelings, those involved in the event and each step of the process.  Then allow her to have quiet time to just draw.  

Sometimes it can be difficult to find words to explain what's going on in your mind.  This type of creativity can be especially effective in telling a story without the use of words.  It can also be very relaxing, calming and provides stress relief so it can be beneficial outside of a therapeutic session.

It is important to have a variety of supplies and colors to use when creating a mandala.  Each color, texture and mixed media can signify an important part of the story.  After the client is done, ask about the design, colors used and if the piece has a title.  This may lead to further discussion or the client may have done the work needed in the creation.  Remember to always trust the process.  Also, unless you are a trained art therapist, you should not analyze the art work of another - only use the activity in hopes of creating more discussion and understanding.

A mandala is...
An integrated structure 
organized around a 
unifying center


Sunday, January 4, 2015

Dirty Little Secrets of Parenthood

Did you ever hear the saying, "there are no new stories, only new reactions" {or something like that}?  The point is that stories repeat themselves, but our reactions and feelings about those stories are unique.  I have found this to be true for motherhood...the stories and experiences I share are not new, but my take is unique to me as a person.  The bizzarre stories and experiences of parenthood are familiar to all parents, while the unique reactions keep the dialogue fluid and interesting.  

From this understanding came a new idea - a post {once in awhile} of the dirty little secrets of parenthood.  Everyone can relate when the secrets are shared, but for some reason we often stay silent.  Perhaps it's societal pressure or a personal desire to feel competent, however, it can be isolating and often leads to even more unrealistic expectations of perfection.  Plus it's funny to read something that you have thought of or done yourself.  Parenthood no longer feels lonely and your thoughts and experiences are normalized.

So without any more babbling from me, here are the first three {anonymous} dirty little secrets...

"I threw away clothes like I threw away diapers.  If it had poop, blood or puke on it it was going in the trash.  I didn't even try to wash it"
-mom of three, ages 26, 24 and 20

"Even if my legs haven't been shaved for three weeks, I still feel like a lady when I wear sexy undies"
-mom of two, ages 3 and 1

"If I need a break from our toddler and newborn in the evening I tell my husband I have to poop - that seems to be the most respected escape and I can take my phone, a book, even some snacks and hide out for a good 30 minutes"
-mom of two, ages 2 years and 1 month

Friday, January 2, 2015

My Word for 2015 is...


Instead of making a resolution that I can't keep or our traditional 'to-do checklist' that seems too overwhelming with an infant, I chose a word.  This word is a reminder of the person I am and the person I want to become in 2015.  I have displayed reminders throughout my house to push me to search for joy instead of the negative emotions that try to sneak in and destroy my ability to be the wife, mom, sister, daughter and friend that I desire to be.  It is a trait that I hope to embody, but it is also I huge relief to know I don't have to work at it alone because it is a gift God wants to give to me each new day.

Do you have a word for 2015? 

I have recently found the cutest personalized jewelry that would be a great gift to yourself as a reminder of your word for this year and I couldn't wait to share it! The options are endless so be sure to check out Lisa Leonard Designs  for yourself or a loved one.