Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I am having "one of those days"....

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Simple Sunday! A Date at Church?

Just like parenting, finding time for your marriage also requires using some creativity!

I was at church this morning with my husband and as crazy as it sounds, it felt like a date!  Thankfully, our church provides reliable childcare which gives us a chance to do something together uninterrupted (which is rare these days!)  In addition, we were able to focus on something we both believe in together, hold each other's hands, and share in fellowship.  Although our intention for going to church was to pray and give our attention to being better Christians, we were also enjoying our time as a couple.

Getting out of the house and getting to church on Sunday mornings is often not an easy task (and I only have one child!)  Let me tell you, getting everyone fed, dressed, and out the door by 8:30 (on a day we could all relax instead) takes a lot of effort!  However, on a day like today I was really glad we did it!

While at church, I sat in the pew, holding my husband's hand and was actually able to enjoy music and focus on what I was there for.  During the next hour, I did not feel like a mom but instead I felt like a wife and an individual (which was exactly what I needed after a long week as a stay at home mom!).  Half way through the service, I whispered to my husband "I feel like we're on a date" and he whispers back, “I feel like you make me want to be a better person." WOW!  What a special moment in our marriage! 

Churches often offer childcare but if you are not a religious person, I encourage you to find ways to make quality time for your relationship!  Even though it's easy to put the kids and work first, making the time for a slow dance in your living room, taking a walk, or having sex is so important! 

Do you struggle with finding time for each other?  How do you use creativity to find time for your marriage?
I want to hear your ideas!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

TODDLER TUESDAY: Stop Tantrums Now!

Tantrums can be very difficult for a parent to tolerate.  Believe me, as a pregnant Momma (and a mother of a 2 year old who isn't the most laid back child), I can relate to the frustration of toddler tantrums! 

Here's a great article to help you avoid those troubling time!  Check it out!,%202011&MsdVisit=1

Sunday, March 20, 2011

SIMPLE SUNDAY! Making Grocery Shopping with Kids Fun...for you and your kids!

Let's face it, grocery shopping with children in tow can be very challenging....but it doesn't have to be!  Preparing ahead of time and using your resources is essential for a drama free and easy trip to the grocery store. Here's how..
1. Use your resources.  If a store has a cool race car attached to the front, let your child "drive the cart".  If you have a baby in tow, many parents love using a baby carrier to carry the little one.

2. Be prepared.  Think ahead and have a plan.  Feeding your kids before you go to the store can eliminate feelings of hunger and moodiness.  In addition, you may want to bring a small snack in case of emergency.  Also, have your kids go to the bathroom before leaving the house. If one of your children is potty training, know where the bathroom is located in the grocery store (and expect that you may have to rush there on a moments notice!). Finally, plan ahead, use a list, and write the items on your grocery list in categories such as aisles or categories.

3. Bribery. Well, not really but everyone responds to earning a reward! It's human nature. Preset your kids with what you expect from them while at the store. If you can, give them a treat like a movie when they get home or take them to the park (if they make good choices). Remember, it does not have to be an edible can just be time spent with you!! WARNING: If you make a promise, make sure you can follow through if they are good or the whole plan will fly out the window!

4. Keep them busy. Children love being a "special helper", giving them some duties can help keep them occupied and focused on something (other than what they want to do when they get home).  Plan an age appropriate game such as finding the best sale or finding the items on your list.  Ask them to put things into the cart or be in charge of the calculator depending on their age and abilities. 

5. Shop quickly. Consider the expectations you are putting on your child. If you are planning a 2 hour grocery shopping spree, expect your children to get bored, hungry, and probably moody!!  Finally, if your child is a more challenging age or stage, save the coupon hunting for a time when you can shop alone!

6.  Set boundaries.  We've all beeen there...your child is acting out in the grocery store and you inadvertantly reward them with food in order to make it through the store without drama.  As tough as it is in the moment, if you have a child who is really acting out, leave your cart and put the child in a time out in the store or take them to the car.  Giving your child a time out may make that grocery shopping excursion more difficult but will help make future grocery trips a breeze!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Giving What You Want to Get

You get what you give. It's a simple but powerful statement when you really think about it.  Many of the most inspirational and well known writers have quotes based on this idea.

"The only reward of virtue is virtue; the only way to have a friend is to be a friend."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Mr. Stuart, my martial arts teacher and friend, always talks to the kids about giving what you want.  He asks the kids in our classes to answer the question, "If you want love, what should you give?" and the kids answer, "Love!"  He asks, "If you want people to share with you, what should you do?" and the kids exclaim, "Share!"  Then he asks, "If you want people to be honest with you, what should you do?" and the kids would yell, "Be honest with them!"
This lesson, of course, is meant for the kids, however, I have really thought about this message over the years.  It is such a simple message, yet so very true!  Giving others what you want really helps you get the life that you want.  In addition, it creates karma and positive energy.  If we show people what we want by giving it to them, we are also surrounding ourselves with people who wish to achieve the same goals that we want. 

So, how do we teach our children this important lesson? It's simple.  Treat children the same way we want to be treated.  When we give our children love, boundaries, and respect, they will learn how to do the same and begin living their life in a similar fashion.

Let's face it, trying to be the role model that we want our children to be can be a very daunting task.  We make so many mistakes along the journey of parenthood, however, allowing our children to see some of our shortcomings and then being honest and giving a sincere apology is a great way for them to learn that mistakes happen to everyone and that they help us to grow and be better individuals (if we change our ways).  Simply put, showing our children the values we want them to possess by living it is better than telling them what they should do!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Toddler Tuesday: St. Patty's Day Party

If you want to have some St. Patty's Day fun with your toddler, throw a party and with any luck, they will be having a blast!  Here's how...

1.  Find an age appropriate craft such as this one..
Here is one of my favorites!
The leprechaun trap
To Catch a Leprechaun Hat  Don't be intimidated if this craft seems too complex!  All you need is a box and some green paper or a green marker and you can create your own!!  I did it last year with the kids that I nannied for and they could not go too sleep because they were so excited to catch the leprechaun! P.S. Don't forget to leave some leprechaun evidence (candy, footprints, or a toy!)

Here's another great craft for the little ones...

St. Patty's Day Greeting Card

If you aren't feeling as creative or don't have the materials needed to make these crafts, you can always print fun St. Patty's Day themed coloring paper here..

2. Make an Irish themed snack or meal! 
Use your creativity and add some green food coloring to pasta, pudding, or eat mint chocolate chip ice cream!  If you have a shamrock cookie cutter you can make shamrock cookies or even shamrock pancakes for breakfast!!

3.  Build excitement!
Presenting the party in a fun way is very important!  Have older kids make signs for the party and/or play some music for the little ones!  You can always find some Irish music on You tube!

4.  Prepare a fun game!
Treasure Hunts are always fun! Hide some treasure around your house and then give your child clues to find the treasure! Have fun!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Simple Sunday! Encouraging a Team Approach with Your Spouse

Although setting boundaries and being direct with your needs is important in fostering teamwork, giving your spouse praise and positive feedback is also essential in maintaining a positive environment in your home.
Do you feel alone in the child rearing process?  If so, you're not alone! Many mothers feel like their partners do not do enough or take an active role in the parenting process. A recent study by Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan, co-author of the study and assistant professor of human development and family science at Ohio State University suggests that fathers who are given positive feedback by the mothers are likely to be an active participant in the child rearing process.
Many people overlook the power of positivity in a parental relationship, however, it's often the key to fostering a healthier and happier relationship.  I know what you are probably saying, "There are days when I really struggle to find one good thing he does because I am so frustrated and overwhelmed." or you may say "I don't even have the time to give my spouse compliments just to get him to do things that he should already be doing!?" Well, the truth is everyone need praise and positive reinforcement, also, it's not very motivating for them to want to help you if all they hear is complaining or asking them to do things. 

Every day, find at least 5 things that your spouse is doing well and make sure you let them know.  In addition, give them a touch on the shoulder, kiss, and/or make eye contact.  Even if it's the way he kisses your child goodnight or the way he plays with your child, find something through the day that he is good at and let him know you appreciate it.  Maybe he took the trash out or cleaned up some clutter....find some positives and start giving compliments.  You just might be surprised at the outcome! 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Focus Fridays: Finding the Joy in Pregnancy

You may have wondered why I am half way through my pregnancy and haven't talked very much about pregnancy.  The answer is simple.  I don't love pregnancy!  I am 23 weeks pregnant with my second little girl and we are very excited, however, I have to admit I find pregnancy less than thrilling!

Normally, I consider myself to be a confident woman but when it comes to pregnancy, I really struggle with feeling attractive!  I am someone that normally likes to eat a lot but also works out hard to keep the pounds off but when I'm pregnant I feel a lack of control.  I picture in my head that a cute pregnant woman is one that is perfectly skinny and looks like she swallowed a beach ball like this

But instead, I am growing at an alarming rate in every direction, my face is breaking out, and I DO NOT feel cute (hence the reason I have not posted any baby bump pictures!) and I often wonder why every pregnant woman looks cute but me?!  Then, I feel guilty for not enjoying this wonderful blessing that's been given to me that so many women which they could experience.  I want to enjoy pregnancy and feel that too much to ask for?

Do you feel the same way?  If so, join me in my challenge to start enjoying this beautiful process!  I consider myself to be an optimist and want people to feel good after visiting my site, so in an effort to prevent destroying my marriage and friendships (just kidding....sort of) and to keep from going insane....I am starting my journey in learning to appreciate this special miracle inside me. 

SOOO....Let's get started!

Here are a few FUN pregnancy websites that I have found to be uplifting!  If you're tired of the same old pregnancy sites that tell you what medicines your shouldn't be taking and what to expect when your expecting....blah, blah, you might enjoy these sites that offer a little more fun!

Evil Genious Woman - This site has funny pregnancy t-shirts to make you smile!

Rent Maternity Wear - If you are planning on atteniding a nice function while your pregnant, this website could be perfect for you!

Pregnancy Fashion  I really enjoyed this site for maternity fashion ideas and also love checking out what pregnant celebs are wearing!

Baby Gaga - This site offers clever and fun ideas as well as great ways to connect with other woman who share your birth month.

I don't have an i phone but if I did, I would totally download these apps! Check out these recommendations for cool pregnancy apps!

Bottom line, no matter how much weight you gain or what you feel like, being pregnant really is a beautiful thing! So, why don't you join me in making a pack to start enjoying all the little things that are beautiful about pregnancy? .
Here are a few to start..
  • Being able to blame your flakiness on "pregnancy brain" and/or your moodiness on the hormones!
  • Being able to eat more (including having cravings for yummy foods that you MUST have the second you want it!)
  • Having people smile at you more and hold the door for you!
  • Getting more affection from your partner (take them up on those food rub offers!)
  • Bigger boobs (this is a big one for me since I normally don't have boobs!)
  • Feeling those cool movements in your belly and trying to figure out what body part it was!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Funny Sienna-isms

Me: "Sienna, are you Irish?"
Sienna: (pointing to her eyelash) "Yes, mommy, I eyelash!"

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Toddler Tuesday!

Sienna is definitely a picky eater!  The past 6 months have been a little stressful when it comes to eating, however, I guess my worrying was for nothing because she just went to her two year wellness checkup and got an A+ (how she has been gaining weight I have NO clue!?)  Also, she has been eating like a maniac over the past week so I think we've turned a corner and are definitely going through a growth spurt....yipppeeee!!
I think it's definitely helped that we have never made mealtime into a battle ground.  If it starts to go in that direction, we pick our battles and either try again later, give a different healthy food as a choice or let her go without (I know it sounds mean but it's sometimes necessary!!) 

Here are a few ideas that have helped us through those picky eating stages...

Have a 'yogurt party'
Buy some healthy yogurt (be careful, alot of them are full of sugar!), add some granola, fruit, and even add some sprinkles if you really want to be fun!

Cookie cutters
Use cookie cutter to make sandwiches into fun shapes.  Seriously, this is one of the best things!!!  All of a sudden, your child will be interested in that hummus or turkey sandwich!

Pasta with Veggies
Mix veggies into pasta.  Brocolli and macaroni and cheese is one of Sienna's favorites! Brocolli is great because I can cut it real small and know that she is getting some even if she is picking some out!!

Sweet Potato Fries
Does your toddler like french fries?  Cut up sweet potatoes, put a little oil and salt on them, bake it for 20 minutes and your child will love this yummy treat!!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Simple Sunday! How a Diary Can be Your Child's Best Friend

Writing in a diary (or journal) is a great way for children to learn about themselves and improve their writing skills at the same time. Offer your child a few quiet moments in the morning or evening when they can be alone and collect their thoughts. Writing in a diary is a great way for them to sort through their problems, express their creativity, and build self esteem.

Childhood is such a fun and amazing time for a person. It is a time when a child can learn about who they are, what they enjoy, and what qualities they possess. Giving your child a tool to help them learn about who they are is invaluable and can pave the way to a lifetime of good self esteem. Here are some ideas to get you started.

1. Let them pick out their own journal. Shopping for a special jounal can be a fun activity for you and your child to do together and can engage your child in the process. If your child is more of an online kind of kid, here's a great website for them to journal their thoughts online.

2. Create a special space. This can be really fun for kids! Offer your child ideas of where they can create their special space to write in their journal (in their bed, behind a sofa, or even in a closet!). Let them be in control of where they want to be inspired!

3. Do not read your child's diary. Having a safe place to write their thoughts is a great thing that you don't want to sabotage. Respect your child's space and they will be more likely to open up to you when they have a serious problem that they need help with.

I know it's hard to remember what it was like to be a child, but childhood really can be a stressful time for children at times. But if we teach them coping skills, they will develop tools to ease their frustrations and work through their problems without solely depending on others. Obviously, this exercise is not intended to replace talking to you or others about their problems but instead helps them sort out their issues and learn to articulate their thoughts.
Do you need some help to get your child started? Here are some great ideas to initiate the start of a journal.

Friday, March 4, 2011

FOCUS FRIDAY! Ode to Working Moms

For some reason in our society it's become ingrained in the mother's head that stay at home moms are some how angelic and that working moms MUST feel guilty at least 10 times a day.  All though I am a stay at home mom myself, I have never thought this to be true and have the utmost respect for the full time working moms out there.

There are many moms out there today who juggle the working mom life very well and really spend more quality time with their children.  Not only do the working moms I see appreciate their time with their children more, but they are also teaching their children to be true to their passions and not forget their individuality.  Many stay at home moms (but not all!) give up their jobs to stay home and end up being resentful to their child which really isn't fair to the mother or the child.  However, when many working moms show pride in what they do, I feel they are happier, healthier, and more confident as a parent (as well as an individual!)

In additon, children are learning from working moms that nothing in life is free and that you have to work hard to earn the things you want (including setting aside more savings for their child's future which they will greatly appreciate later in life!)  A working mom becomes a master of delegating, using their time more efficiently, enjoying the moments, setting boundaries, and even acceptance of being the "good enough parent". 
Every working mom faces guilt issues from time to time but I say, pat yourself on the back and do what makes you happy!  If your struggling with guilt, remember this quote,
"We are at our very best, and we are happiest, when we are fully engaged in work we enjoy on the journey toward the goal we've established for ourselves. It gives meaning to our time off and comfort to our sleep. It makes everything else in life so wonderful, so worthwhile."~ Earl Nightingale

Kudos to you working moms!  You rock! 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!!

Doctor Seuss has given us so many reasons to want to read!  His books have been a classic for years with their unique style and fun illustrations (plus it's so entertaining to get your tongue tied while trying to read the words!!)  I love any other that makes reading fun and encourages children (and parents) to open a book! 

Reading instead of watching t.v increases a child's vocabulary and stimulates their mind. 

If you have a child who is in grade school, they probably read Doctor Seuss books in school today in celebration of his birthday. Why not join in the fun by checking out this cool website  or asking your child some fun questions such as....

What's your favorite Doctor Seuss book?
Why do you think Doctor Seuss is one of the most famous authors?
I wonder how Dr. Seuss came up with all those crazy characters?"
Why does the cat in the hat wear that crazy bow tie?
How many Doctor Seuss books can you name?

Finally, here is one of my favorite Doctor Seuss quotes.....
"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind."

Looking for more fun ways to celebrate Doctor Seuss? Check out this awesome site...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

TODDLER TUESDAYS: Cookie Cutters and Muffin Tins

Cookie cutters are one of my favorite 'on hand' tools to use for a variety of games and foods for toddlers.  You can get them for dirt cheap and you will use them for years!  Check out my Amazon site where you can purchase a variety of cookie cutters (pack comes with 24) for $12.95 by clicking on MY STORE in my home page.  You will find the item on Page 3.  This is a great deal!
One of my favorite things to do with toddlers is to make sandwiches or pancakes into fun shapes like this butterfly....

I made this for Sienna's lunch and she loved it!! 

Looking for more creative and inexpensive ways to make your childs' food fun?  Check out these great resources....
Muffin Tin Mom