Saturday, March 28, 2015

Easter Egg Activities for Learning!

There are so many learning opportunities during Easter time. The kids are excited about the holiday, it's bright and springy, and of course there are a lot of yummy treats involved, so I definitely use this time of year to have fun with the homeschooling.

One of my favorite things to use during Easter for learning is :EGGS! Who would have thought?

There are so many different little learning activities that you could do, and the kids just think they are having fun playing with eggs.

Here are a list of some ideas that you can do:

1. Easter egg hunt: Fill them with whatever the child may be learning! Pictures of shapes. Sight words. Numbers. They don't have to be just on paper, you can use small little magetic numbers or alphabet letters or if they are learning colors, you can include different colored "dot stickers." For my oldest this year, I used biblical Easter sight words: sacrifice, believe, crucified, miracle, savior, risen, faith, cross. For Graham, I included different magnets for numbers since we are really focusing on memorizing those right now. Of course I threw in a few eggs that had treats so it was more incentive to open each one up and see what was inside.

2. Easter math. Get a large poster size paper and write out the math problems and then draw circles for the eggs 2+3= . They would then add two eggs, then three eggs and them count to see the answer and write it down. You also can just write out the problems and they can use the eggs to help them solve the problem on their own.

3. Easter counting. For my youngest, we are focusing on recognizing numbers, so for him, I used cardstock paper and wrote down a number {as well as write out the word} and then drew eggs for each number. Then I used some of our puzzle pieces numbers and had him match those numbers up as well as match up the eggs.

You can also write numbers on the eggs and have them put them in order from 1-10 or 1-20, or whatever other numbers your child may be working on. 

4. Small, medium, large. Bigger, smaller. Longer, shorter. Lighter, darker. Get a variety of eggs shapes and sizes and colors. Use three baskets and have them sort the smallest in one basket, the medium size ones in another, and the large in another. The lighter/darker one is just easy, have two shades of blue and ask which is lighter and which is darker. Same with the longer and shorter. The great thing about these activities is that we can sit on the couch and just "talk" about it.

5.  Memory game. Love this idea I found on pinterest and again, you can tailor this for whatever your child may be learning: numbers, shapes, ABC's, sight words, animals, etc. Or find fun little small objects around the house to place underneath.

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6. What time is it? Another wonderful pinterest find, and something I am working on with my 4 year old is telling time. This is just a fun way to get rid of worksheets and do something more hands on. Hands on always means they remember it better, at least it was always that way for me.

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7. Upper case/lower case matching: Write the uppercase on one letter and the lowercase on another and have the child match them up.

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For more ideas, check out the pinterest search I did here: Plastic Egg Activities

Friday, March 27, 2015

Need a reason to shop tobacco-free? They're all around you. Protect all our children.

 * This is a sponsored post by Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, however all opinions stated are that of my own.

There has not been a single campaign that I have been a part of that has brought me as much joy, inspiration, and hope as the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids— and I have been a part of many wonderful campaigns. But this one? This one was close to my heart, not only because of the cause and message that it stands for, but because of those closest to me that have quit smoking. Because of the detrimental health effects on individuals that I have seen in front of my eyes working as a critical care nurse. And most importantly, because I have young children that I want to grow up knowing the damages affiliated with tobacco, not only to their health, but socially, financially, and emotionally.

I thought that I knew everything there was to know about tobacco prior to accepting my part in this campaign, but it is extraordinary how much we truly don't know as consumers. As a mother, it aggravates me that the tobacco industry is actually spending a lot of their marketing money to aim at a specific audience: our children. In fact, $8.8 billion dollars a year, or $1 million an hour. They call them the "replacements." Replacement for what, you may ask? Those half a million individuals that die from tobacco related causes. Watch this quick 2 minute video. It puts it all into perspective.

So what do we do? What do we, as mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, do to help protect those that are consumed by this industry and those that are at risk for falling into the tobacco trap?

We urge our local stores to stop selling the products! Do you know which stores sell tobacco products and which don't? Wouldn't you rather support a business that chooses your health and life over financial benefits? I am proud that CVS made the plunge, and that many of the stores that we shop at such as Whole Foods, Fresh Market, and Trader Joe's have chosen not to sell tobacco products to their customers. Why can't all stores do this. I have been disappointed to see that Walgreens, Walmart, and Kroger continue to be on the wall-of-shame list and have not yet jumped on board.  The great thing is that we can send them messages to continue to urge them to step across the line.  Visit the wall of shame here and let them know how you feel!

 Find #ShopTobaccoFree Retailers Near you

If you are not already aware of the retailers that are currently part of this program, then I strongly urge you to check it out. I urge consumers to also thank those retailers, and to consider letting retailers that are not a part of the program the important facts of why they should pledge to be Tobacco Free.

It's as easy as 1-2-3.This is a direct link to search by zip code the retailers near you.

Did you know, since the start of this campaign, there have been 754 new stores across the country that have signed to be a part of the Tobacco-Free retailer program. That's amazing! And goes to show you the immense effect that we have as consumers.

You can further show your support and follow Shop Tobacco Free on these social media outlets: Remember to use the hashtag and share your stories!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Regrets in parenting

Do you ever wonder if what you did as a parent in a specific situation was the right thing? When you are laying in bed at night thinking about your day, do you find yourself questioning yourself at times? Did I say the right thing? Did I react too quickly? Did I not react enough? What lesson did I teach them, and was it a valuable lesson to teach? Am I proud of how I acted? More importantly, are my kids going to be proud of me looking back on these days as they get older?

I think that's a natural thing. As parents. To question ourselves, to wonder, to even possibly have regrets and guilt over the decisions that we make in our children's lives. Isn't that just part of human nature; to make mistakes. I think so. And not only do I think it's natural, and happens often, but I also believe that it is okay.

And then there are situations where people write about in articles and parenting books that say that a certain behavior is not okay, and yet you, as a parent, does the said behavior and is left satisfied. No regrets, no guilt, but actually content and happiness with the decision that you made.

I know, this is starting to sound a little twisted and evil.

Hear me out here.

Let me give you a little background on my little man. My little man is two, he's my little dare-devil, will try anything, not scared of a single thing, loves to cause trouble, but the sweetest soul on earth kind of little guy. He will throw balls at you, and kiss you and say all the I-love-you's all in one minute, and make your heart melt to pieces. I truly cannot ever get mad at him. I don't know what's wrong with me, but he just doesn't anger me. And trust me, he's done some extraordinary things for a two year old.

That being said, we have coddled him most of his life {ha, he's just two}. Just like we did with my oldest, because well, that part about "attachment-parenting" made sense to me. Okay, coddling is such a negative term and not one commonly used to describe attachment parenting, but it is what it is and sounded most appropriate in this specific scenario.

For us, it is important to foster a close relationship with our children and to allow them to be equal human beings in our home. We do that crazy co-sleeping business, breast-feeding until 2, baby-wearing, carry you around everywhere type of deal when they are babies, and we continue that as they get older.  We want our children to always feel open to come to us, to trust us, and to know that we would literally do anything for them to protect them in anyway possible. But, we also set limits and rules as they get older. As they are able to communicate more and have a better understanding about the world they live in, we use certain moments to be learning experiences.

And one of those moments happened to be a few weeks ago when I was picking Elli up at preschool. A typical, bright and early Monday morning. As I got out of the car, Graham insisted on being carried in inside—just as he does when we go anywhere. Feeling queasy {pregnant}, tired, and completely smothered, I explained to him "just until we go inside, and then you walk like a big boy." And so we did just that, and I set him down immediately as we walked through the door. He wasn't pleased. He threw a "mini-tantrum," and refused to walk. I kept walking and then he followed. He briefly got distracted by some toys he saw, and then asked to be carried again as we made our way downstairs. With stairs involved, I obliged, but explained again that when we got back up that he would have to walk out.

We got back up, and as we neared the doors, I set him back down. And then the real tantrum came. We are talking full blown tears, screaming, throwing himself on the ground, "Mama, mama, mama, carry me" tantrum. I explained to him very gently that mama already explained to him that he would have to walk like a big boy, that I did not feel well, and that I have to follow through with what we talked about. He continued to cry, walk behind us slowly and in-between throwing himself down, but he continued.

That is until we stepped outside.

And then it was just him being the little stubborn bold-headed child that I know so well. He wasn't moving and he was going to make himself known as the hundreds of people walked out he doors. So I explained to him that I would sit at the bottom steps on the bench and wait for him for when he was ready.

He was never ready.

Let me tell you when I say that kid doesn't give him, he sure as heck doesn't give him. I think this trait will take him far in life, but it sure wasn't helping the situation in that moment in time.

So here is where my dilemma came in as I sat on the bench thinking of what to do next. If I carried him to the car {tantrum and all}, I would be giving in to his demand and the only lesson learned by him is that in the future he just has to make the biggest scene ever and that would get me to do what he wanted. And that, well that, was not going to happen. And if I just let him stand there and cry, then we could be there for hours, and surely the police would be called for this public disturbance that my child was causing.

And so, I did what any good parent would do.

I stood behind him, and taught him how to walk like you do a baby who is taking their first steps. Held his arms and said "Okay little guy, let's walk."

And in between walking, there continued the screaming as well as swinging of the legs up in the air so that he could refuse to walk. But I tell you what, we made it. We made it to the car, and we had a long talk {I did the talking}. I explained that I loved him, that I'm not mad at him, but that he was going to be a big boy and walk when mama asks him to walk, and that would begin with our park date that we were heading to.

We went to the park, and he walked. We went to the store, and he walked. We went to preschool that following Monday, and he walked. Both drop-off and pick-up. Not a single fuss, no tears, and not even a single request. He walked, and he did it as though he was just as proud as he can be of himself.

And looking back on this day, I can honestly say that I had not a single regret in my parenting decision. I know I broke the attachment-parenting rules, all the nurturing mothers are probably cringing at the thought of this situation, and the experts and psychologists would say that I have ruined my child in one way or another, but yet, I have no regrets.

It would be easier for me to have just picked him up and carried him. It would have been easier to just wait this whole stage of wanting to be carried around out {it could go on for years}, and I know that eventually he would have outgrown it. But? I wold have been unhappy about it every step of the way. And I want my children to be a happy mother. And if I'm unhappy about a decision that experts say that I should be making for my children, and if it doesn't feel right to cater to them when I don't feel they need to be catered, then why would I do it. Are experts always right? Can one scenario be applied to all children? How certain are we about this life that we live?

What does this all mean? It means that at times, in this whole parenting gig, there will be lessons learned that won't be easy {for neither of us}, and that we are in this thing together. Learning what works and what doesn't, what's easy or what's hard, and how to best make decisions out of love, not out of parenting books and articles.

So yes, there are lots of days where I have said or reacted in ways I wasn't proud of. Moments that made me reflect and moments that made me grow as a mother. Dare I say, moments that even made me a better mother. But I can tell you that for every not-so-good moment, there have been 100 great parenting moments to top it.

It's so easy for us to dwell on the bad, to question, and to have regret. But I tell you right now, no matter what we read online or in books, it's not nearly as powerful as what we hold as truth in our hearts.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

A little catch up on this pregnancy

I know I haven't blogged in what seems like forever, and I know that even the time before that it was sporadic and posts were few and far in between, but I definitely don't want to let this pregnancy slip by without documenting some of the important details that I know I'll want to read one day in the future. I also promise that this won't be just about the pregnancy blog. I'm hoping that as I start feeling better and getting my energy back that I will also get a little spark of inspiration again.

I hope.

So. This pregnancy. Let us start from the beginning.

I knew we were ready quite some time ago. Probably around 6+ months prior to getting pregnant. Graham was roughly around the age Elli was when we started talking about it, and since I loved the age gap between the two of them, I definitely didn't want to wait too long before we considered bringing another little on in the family.

Problem is, we were working around one my of closest friend's wedding. We knew two things: 1} It would be the summer of 2015 and 2} It would be oversees. Around November, we heard the news of the final date as well as the final location. Immediately, I headed expedia and started doing a little rough estimate of the trip and how we would make it work. Well, it didn't take long for me to figure out that this trip would cost us about $2,000 more than we had anticipated, and it was definitely something we would have to talk about more in depth.

In the meantime, I still longed for that third baby. After talking it over with Andrew, and realizing that we wouldn't know for another few months whether our finances would allow such an expensive trip, we both realized that this was all silly for us to sit back and delay our longing for expanding our family. We really wanted to take it out of our hands and let things happen if they happened, and we would figure out things as we go.

So in December we officially started trying and at the end of January, we found a big fat positive. Here's the funny story behind that:

I started taking tests like 8 days prior to my expected period. Why? Because I am such an impatient person. I remember going in to work with the test that I had just purchased on my way in, and being completely devastated when I saw that negative. I kept the test in my pocket and just kept staring at it, thinking that somehow I would turn the test into a positive. I even took a picture of it, thinking maybe a line would a appear. It truly was as crazy as it sounds.

Day 7 and day 6 went the same and I saw a negative.

Day 5, I took a a test and saw a negative. I threw it in the trash. I came back 5 minutes later, just to be sure, and what do you know.... there was a positive on there. Faint, but positive. I then ran up the stairs to the bathroom that I took the test the day before and dug through the trash and what do you know... a big fat positive as well. Like I said, I'm an impatient person.

How did I tell Andrew? I just laid the stick on the counter that morning for him to find when he came down the stairs, and of course he saw it right away and of course his reaction would be something like this :

"What is this?"
"Well what do you think it is."
"Is there a line, I don't see a line, it's really faint."
"A line is a line. Regardless how dark it is."
"Wait is that from last night?"

And then I put my head down in shame. He didn't really just say that. Please tell me he's been through this process 2 other times to know a little better than that. We laughed about it, and I let him off the hook since it was early and clearly he was in a state of shock.

But we are having a baby! Another baby. It was really real.

We waited to tell anyone {including the kids} until after our ultrasound at 8.5 weeks. That was just a couple weeks ago and we brought the kids along. Unfortunately, Elli was sick and could barely move {yet alone comprehend the extent of what was going on}, and Graham was really more intrigued about the aquarium and all the fish in it. But seriously, after being there for 2 hours, I was amazed at how great the kids did and it really made me thank the Heavens and Jesus above.

The ultrasound looked great. The baby's heart rate was 174 {it's a girl.. I'm sure of it}, and it was really nice to see my favorite doctor {who delivered both E and G}.

How we told the family? We just face timed and I let Elli tell them {about a week later} after she was feeling well and was super excited. She told everyone all about the "sister" that she is having. She is convinced it's a girl and she doesn't want to hear anything about it being a boy. It's kind of cute and funny at the same time.

So how am I feeling? Crappy. Really really crappy. No vomiting, but constant nausea and feeling like a piece of blah. Smells are super strong these days and bother me like crazy. I cannot cook meat nor watch meat be cooked, nor be in the same room. It really is so terrible. I have no cravings, no appetite, but I force myself to eat. The only things I can eat is fruit, a little veggies, and fries with this terribly bad for you seasoning on them. Oh, and pickles. I bought my first jar of pickles {in like 2 years} a couple days ago and it's already gone.

Gosh, I should be an ad for first trimester.

How for along am I? 11 weeks on Saturday. Due date is approximately October 3rd. Elli was 1 week early, and Graham was 2 weeks early. So it can either be a September or October baby. If it was October, I would have: October, November, December babies.

I already feel like time is flying by, and I know that with spring and summer coming soon and all the activities we have planned with our family {as well as a family beach vacation}, that fall will be here before we know it. Am I prepared, ready, or even thinking about it? I can't say that I am. I haven't opened up a baby book, nor have I thought about a nursery {we probably won't be doing another one, just keeping G man's for the baby and G man can just be a gypsy, bouncing from one bed to another, haha}. Really? I really like that I am not stressing at all about this baby. That I'm really at peace, and that I'm not worried about "loving him/her as much." I already experienced and proved myself wrong when Graham was born, and now I get to really enjoy this pregnancy and really be excited at the thought of having another child to love and to hold and to watch grow.

It really is the most beautiful feeling, and I am every bit grateful for it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Important delivery due to arrive: October 3,2015

Because I couldn't just leave this little space out of something so important in our lives. This blog has been here through the announcement of Elli, Graham, and now this baby. So here we are, the "faces" each member and their reaction to us becoming a family of 5.

Graham could care less.
Elli thinks this is HER baby.
Mama and papa are just overjoyed at the thought of another little E girl or G man running around.

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