Month: May 2014

How to Handle Summer Snacktime

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Snack time is a VERY important part of the day for kids.

This summer I plan to use 30 minutes of the day for educational practice.  I am going to try to entice my kids to be excited about it with these colorful baskets and fun snacks.

They LOVE picking their own snacks, but I don’t want to be fixing them all day or running out of food two days after I go grocery shopping!

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My plan is to have educational books, flash cards etc. in the baskets along with 5 (mostly) healthy snacks for the week.  Just 5!  So they can pick one each day to go with their “homework”.

Snacks will be things like fruit leathers, nuts, peanut butter crackers, applesauce and the occasional cookies.  My son detests nuts and peanut butter so his will be a little more repetitive than my girls’.

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In the afternoon, I will do a something like carrots, grapes, or these pineapple popsicles.  (About 2 cups of pineapple and one cup of water pureed).

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What healthy, inexpensive snacks do your kids enjoy?

Do you have plans for the summer? Help for parents who work from home

“Bees’ll buzz, kids’ll blow dandelion fuzz
And I’ll be doing whatever snow does
In summer
A drink in my hand, my snow up against the burning sand
Prob’ly getting gorgeously tanned
In summer”

Even Olaf the snowman is excited about summer!!!

Every home in America that has school-aged kids or teachers living in them is counting down the days until summer vacation.

As exciting as it is for everyone, it doesn’t take long until the whining begins,

“I’m bored!”  (In our family the use of the word “bored” is actually treated the same as profanity)

“What can I do?”

“I’m hungry!”

I truly believe my kids eat twice as much in the summer and I KNOW I do more dishes.

For parents who work from home, which my husband and I do, it can be even more difficult because your kids and all your friends and neighbors often think you are available to entertain.

Last summer I was geared up for being a perfect work-from-home mom.  I had centers, I had been collecting educational activities, I had my husband on board, I had created a daily schedule, and we even began practicing the schedule before the school-year ended.

But it was still hard!  There was a little too much bickering and I heard a little too much of the whining I was hoping to avoid.

I will do a few things differently this year:

1. Send them to camp (not for the whole summer but  4 weeks to space out the summer so we can appreciate each other when we are back together again.)

2. Use an adjustable daily schedule like this one I made

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Adjustable Daily Summer Schedule

Last year I think our schedule was too rigid; if we had a change in the schedule I couldn’t communicate that as easily to the kids.  This new schedule has some firm spots (like resting time, mealtimes, and chores) but much more room to move things around for a rainy day, a playdate, etc.  I have a few more posters that I can swap out too!

(Here’s another blog with a great schedule idea:  http://thrivinghomeblog.com/2013/05/how-to-make-your-summer-at-home-with-kids-count-part-1/#_pg_pin=498031)

3.  Utilize SOME paper plates (sorry environmentalists out there but I can only mentally handle doing dishes if its under 3 hours a day!!!)

4.  Be more realistic!  I’m sure this will not be perfect, but I will learn and tweak as I go.

What are your strategies for keeping summer fun, productive, and free of whining?

A Response to “Scary Mommy: The Rules for Visiting a New Mom”

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Should there really be rules for visiting a new mom?

I recently came across this post that went viral on Facebook and other places:

http://www.scarymommy.com/rules-for-visiting-a-new-mom/

She details a variety of ways to be a more encouraging friend to new moms when you visit them.

Altogether we would generally do well to take her advice, but as the old saying goes, “do as I say, not as I do,” she seems to encourage a generous and gracious spirit but writes with an entitled and judgmental tone.

While I agree that visitors would do well to bring the food or gifts that the family needs rather than the food or knick-knacks she wants to bring, do we really need to list rules for how to visit and show love?

Don’t these expectations set us up for hurt feelings and judgement?

Aren’t these unreasonable expectations?  We are the ones who chose to have babies.  It really isn’t someone else’s responsibility to feed and clothe them.

Is it really so bad that someone is so excited that she is thinking more about seeing the baby and offering emotional support than providing us with leftovers?

I truly appreciated the girlfriends who brought enough food for leftovers, the ones who brought extra gifts that were practical rather than plants or teddy bears, but that’s not really the point.

The point is that if we want to encourage generosity and grace in others, we should expect it of ourselves, even in our speech.

So I won’t give rules but I will offer 3 pieces of advice:

1-Ask the mother what she wants from you.

2-Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

3-Love covers over a multitude of sins.

XO

 

Crying Over a Cup of Tea

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Every year on the Friday before Mother’s Day, my children’s preschool has a beautiful Mother’s Day  Tea and musical program.  I have been attending the tea for more than 5 years and I have grown to dread it!

Its adorable to see a two-year old sing “You Are My Sunshine” dressed up like a sun complete with yellow tutu and sunglass hair bow.  All of the children are totally cute with their clumsy little hand gestures and of course there’s always the unpredictability of young children going off script that keeps you on the edge of your seat.

But I always end up crying.  I don’t mean, I get a little teary-eyed.  I mean I cry until my nose is red and my face is swollen.

This has happened for the last three years.

For me, the adorable and sweet music that brings happy tears combined with the sadness that the tea party was something I used to attend with my mom is an emotional cocktail that I can’t completely handle.  My mind starts skipping through my memories of my mom directing children’s choirs and even preparing me for my first stage solo as a five-year old, and the emotion pushes me over every time.

This past year I was really concentrating on enjoying my tea, snapping a few pictures, and recording a couple of videos without all the tears.  (That’s usually how I handle difficult situations.  Mother’s Day, Christmas, mom’s birthday…I prepare myself in advance for the possibility of sadness and generally cruise through knowing she would want me to enjoy my life with my own kids.)

This year was supposed to be different, I was going to have a peaceful time.  But no!  I made a fatal error, I misread the invitation start time and instead of showing up at what I thought was twenty minutes early to get myself calm and ready, I showed up as my daughters class was walking on stage.  She got there just in time to go on without her pretty little costume.  I felt awful; guilty and embarrassed for messing up on the time and sad and emotional from all the sappy Mother’s Day songs.  I was such a mess I ran out crying leaving my purse behind.

I recovered by Mother’s Day, but after three painful years I have some great pictures and videos but I can honestly say, I have a love-hate relationship with that tea party!

 

5 Things that will Help Your Toddler Embrace Becoming a Big Brother or Sister

For some toddlers the addition of a new little brother or sister can be exciting.  For others, it can feel like an intruder.  And for mom and dad it can be overwhelming to watch your time divide even further.  Here are a few tips for a smooth transition:

 

1-Gift-Giving

There are so many ways you can help your older child look forward to his new little brother or sister through small, inexpensive gifts.

Make a Big Brother or Big Sister T-shirt together to wear to the hospital.

Take big brother to Build-a-Bear Workshop to make a special bear, bunny, or other friend for his new little sister.

Have a gift at the hospital to give big sister from her new sibling.

During the end of the pregnancy give a big-kid gift to your little guy to show he is not a baby anymore.  We gave this piggy-bank that emphasized responsibility to our son when his first sister was born:

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2-Read Together

Reading is a great tradition.  When I had my second child and was still in the hospital the first night, I did a full bedtime routine including reading a story to my toddler.  We read A Bad Case of Stripes.  He picked the book and brought it to the hospital to have me read.  It helped him know he was still important and his routines weren’t going to be disrupted by this invader.

Before the baby is born check out some of the great children’s stories available that give your child a little bit more of a concrete idea about what it will be like to have a new baby in the house.  I think we’ve read Berenstain Bears’ New Baby and The New Baby from The Little Critter Series at least fifty times each.

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3-Special Plans for the First Weeks Home

For my kids, a new baby in the house has meant FUN, FUN, FUN!  In the months leading up to the birth, we lined up play-dates, grandparent fun days, pool days, library trips etc.  It was like summer camp!

4-Get Some Help

For most toddlers just a few minutes of your undivided attention will go a long way.  Get somebody who loves newborns as much as I do to hold your little bundle while you get down on the floor and build a block city or sip on some pretend tea out of a plastic cup with your older child.

5-Pray Together

I read a quote today that I loved by Alan Redpath:  “when God is at the center, self is destroyed,  and love begins to reign.”  Ultimately, we want our children not just to coexist and tolerate one another, but really love each other.  Get your little guy or girl to start praying for his new baby sister or brother.  Help him with the vocabulary to consider being a protector of the new baby, to think about how to serve you and his new baby sister or brother.  Allow your son or daughter to consider how amazing God is for creating this new being that you haven’t even met yet.  Toddlers are notorious for being selfish.  Help your son love his new sibling and that will be enough!

Congratulations on your new baby and on moving toward being outnumbered by your children!

Its More Important to Paint Your Daughter’s Toenails than Clean Your House

The house I grew up in looked like it was ready to be photographed for a catalog at all times.  It wasn’t that we had a lot of money, my mom and dad just had a great eye for design and  they could DIY anything before DIY was cool!

A scenario that best describes the environment I was accustomed to goes something like this: I brought a group of friends home from college my freshmen year.  Within two steps of entering the door, a guy friend half-serious says, “are we allowed to use the toilets?”

Another time, my parents offered to babysit for a family friend and pile all five of us kids into the friends’ house so the other parents could go out.  While they babysat, they decided to take the time to reorganize the other family’s furniture!  When the couple returned they were obviously surprised to find their house looking completely different, but kept the upgrade.

What’s my point?

My point is I was shocked when my always-perfect-mom advised me, “enjoy your kids and don’t worry about cleaning your house!”  at my second baby shower.

“Who are you and what have you done with my mother?” I blurted out!

I believe in keeping an orderly home, but it was very liberating to know that if my mom could’ve gone back for a do-over she would have spent more time enjoying us, her kids, and less time keeping a picture of perfection.

Even though my mom eventually gave me the sage wisdom that my kids are more important than a spotless house, she didn’t give up on perfection completely.  She always believed in a perfect pedicure.   As she spent the last eight months in and out of the cancer center and homebound, she always checked to see if my toes were painted.  She checked to see if the paint was chipped and whether the nail bed was nicely filled.  I became her personal pedicurist when she was too sick to trust nail salons.

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Paint your daughter’s toenails!   I’m sure the time you spend will be a treasured memory…one day she may paint yours too!

 

Stomach virus update: DON’T LICK THE GERMS!

Well my plan worked, sort of. 

The only problem was that the baby got excited about my daughter’s cup of Gatorade (a rarity in our house) and she decided to lick the germs of my daughter’s cup when we weren’t looking.  So she had a little tummy-ache a few days later.  But no one else got sick.  She was fine within 12 hours.

I guess I should have included this to the list of what to do or not do for a stomach virus:

DO NOT LICK THE GERMS OF THE SICK PERSON’S CUP.

 

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You’re welcome!