Tuesday, November 27, 2012

On the Hard Days...Changing the Day Around

It was two days before Thanksgiving. The house had to be cleaned. The grocery list had to be written. The baby had to be taken care of. I was busy. And Mercedes was bored. And mad at me because I was busy. So she made extra messes. And whatever I asked her to do, she did the opposite. And when I needed her to hold still to get her hands washed or to change her clothes, she'd run away. I got frustrated. And angry. And had absolutely no patience. Which only made Mercedes act up more. We tried the Chill Spot. She told me she wasn't listening to Mommy because she was mad and she wanted Mommy to play with her. So I tried to give her projects to do while I was cleaning. I even tried playing with her for a while. But her mood didn't change. And neither did mine. We were both frustrated. We were both emotional. We were both overwhelmed.

Nap time came. Mercedes didn't want to go to sleep. So she cried. I cried too. I asked her, "Mercedes, are you having a sad day?" She sobbed, "yes". I said, "Mommy is having a sad day too. A nap will make you feel better. And when you wake up, we're changing the day. We're going to make today a happy day".  And we did. We made and ate ice cream sundaes. We sorted through my jewelry (a special privilege and one of Mercedes' favorite things to do). Mercedes' took a relaxing bath. We watched a movie together. I put all my lists away and stopped my cleaning and gave her the rest of my day.

It is so easy, especially on the busy days, to get overwhelmed. To get frustrated with my babies. To forget to pause and enjoy them. But it is SOOO important that my life as a mom is more than to do lists, cleaning, cooking, running around changing diapers and picking up toys. All those things have to be done, but not at the expense of my kids' happiness. Not at the expense of my sanity. So when we are having an overwhelming day...especially when it is a day when Mercedes is having extra trouble listening...I have to stop. Whatever I'm doing, just stop. Give my kids some love. Give them my time. My attention. And do something that they love. It turns the rough day into a happy one. Every single time. It is amazing how much control I have, as their mom, to make their day happy or sad. My attitude and my actions rub off on them. My goal is to make every day happy and peaceful for them. And my top priority every day is to make sure they feel loved. At the end of the day, nothing else that I did or didn't do really matters. At the end of the day, if my girls are happy, feel peaceful, and know that they are loved, my day was a success.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Paper Snowflakes


I think every little kid makes these at some point. I grew up making them and I thought this year would be a good time to keep the tradition going for my girls. After we made them, I found this incredible paper snowflake tutorial on Pinterest. I will definitely be trying it next year! Ours turned out pretty good though considering I haven't made them in years.







Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving Turkey Handprint Craft


Mercedes and I made a handprint turkey to decorate her craft wall for Thanksgiving.  


After we hung it on the wall, she kept rubbing her tummy and saying "MMM-MMM". In this picture, she is smelling it. =-)

Instructions:

  • Trace your child's foot onto brown construction paper and cut it out.
  • Trace your child's hand onto the red, orange, and yellow construction paper and cut out multiple handprints.    
  • Cut a small triangle out of orange construction paper for a beak.
  • Cut a small peanut shape out of red construction paper for a waddle.
  • Cut two feet out of orange construction paper.
  • Turn the footprint so that the heel is now the turkey's head. Glue your handprint feathers to the back of the body.
  • Glue on the eyes, beak, waddle and feet.

Instructions from: http://www.allkidsnetwork.com/crafts/thanksgiving/handprint-turkey.asp

30 Days of Thankfulness (2012)


I got a little carried away with my list and finished a few days early...

Day 1 My husband, my love, my best friend, my everything.

Day 2 Mercedes, my firstborn girl, who changed my life forever 2 1/2 years ago.

Day 3 Emerald, my sweet baby, my sunshine.

Day 4 My parents, who have always supported me, guided me, helped me make the right choices and become a confident adult with the ability to think for myself.

Day 5 Our home, which actually feels like a home (for the first time since I moved out of my parent's house) and has plenty of room for our growing family.

Day 6 Eastlake...my church family.

Day 7 Lawrence. I am so thankful to live in Lawrence where all of my friends and family live. Ben has sacrificed living by his family so I can live by mine and I am so thankful for that.

Day 8 My blog, which gives me a voice when I feel so invisible as a stay at home mom, and where I can share all the wonderful things we do as a family with other families all over the world.

Day 9 Facebook, so I can keep in touch with all of my friends and family who live all over the United States and otherwise would have lost touch with years ago.

Day 10 My facebook support groups, full of wonderful mothers who give me encouragement, words of wisdom and advice and who have become some of my best friends. I would not be the kind of mom I am now if I hadn't joined my first mom support group when Mercedes was 6 months old.



Day 11 Pinterest, which gives me SOOO many wonderful ideas of projects and activities to do with my girls and new meal ideas to feed my family.

Day 12 Nap time, when most of my blogging gets done and I have a chance to relax and enjoy peace and quiet for at least 1 hour a day.

Day 13 Gluten free food. When I was first diagnosed with Celiac Disease 8 years ago, there were almost no gluten free options and what WAS available was only at health food stores and everything was expensive and tasted nasty. I am so thankful that now the gluten free diet is becoming popular as a healthy diet even for people who do not have Celiac Disease so there are a ton of delicious gluten free options out there, even at normal grocery stores and almost every restaurant.

Day 14 Chocolate. Oh sweet chocolate. My life would not be complete without it.

Day 15 Our car. Yes, it is difficult only having one car to be shared with Ben who takes it to work every day. But I realize that one car is more than a lot of people have and I am so thankful that we have it.

Day 16 Hospitals. As much as I am an advocate for natural birth and as much as doctors freak me out and constantly annoy me, neither of my girls would have survived birth and I probably wouldn't have survived their births either without the intervention of medicine at the hospital.

Day 17 My midwife.  Deann Martin at The Women's Healthcare Group saved my baby Emerald's life when Emerald got stuck (several times) during birth, and also kept me from tearing even though Emerald was a massive 9 lb 4 oz baby. I love her and if I can help it, no one else will ever be delivering any of the rest of my babies.

Day 18 Tums, which have kept me from puking many, many times during pregnancy. =-)

Day 19 Breastfeeding. After struggling to breastfeed Mercedes for the short 10 months that she would cooperate with it, and after  fighting to breastfeed Emerald and keep my milk supply up during the whole tongue-tie, lip-tie struggle, I will never take breastfeeding for granted.

Day 20 My husband's job. Ben has a job that he loves, with great benefits and ways to work his way up through taking classes and certifications. He is making enough money to support our family so I can stay home and take care of the girls.


Day 21 Showers. Yeah, there was a time in my life when I used to take 7 long, relaxing hot showers a week. One every single day. Now I consider it a good day if I can sneak away for a 3 minute shower without both girls having a meltdown while I'm in there. Sometimes on Ben's days off, he watches the girls for me so I can take a gloriously long, hot shower and I am so thankful for those times. =-)

Day 22 Netflix. Ben and I love to find multiple seasons of our favorite shows, or JACKPOT, a NEW show with multiple seasons that we have never seen before but turns out we both love. I am thankful for this simple pleasure.

Day 23 Laughter/a sense of humor. Because when you have small children, sometimes things don't work out. Messes happen. Disasters happen. And sometimes all you can do is laugh.

Day 24 Groceries. Growing up, I took food for granted. My parents made sure that we never went hungry so I never thought much about it. Now I know what a struggle it is for people to make sure their families are well fed, and what a struggle it is for us sometimes. We have paid for groceries with credit cards, food stamps, or with the last money in our bank account. I am thankful for the food in our fridge and in our cabinets that I am able to use to cook delicious meals for my family.

Day 25 Our yard. Living in an apartment for the first 2 years of Mercedes' life, I am so thankful that we finally have a yard of our own so we have a place to put a sandbox, sprinkler, swimming pool, and any other fun outdoor toy that my husband discovers on Craig's List. We spend hours outside on every nice day which is a million times better (and healthier) than staying inside all day like we had to when we lived at our last two apartments.

Day 26 My camera. Because I can capture all of the beautiful, precious moments that I share with my girls while they are tiny, because they are growing way too fast. I am especially thankful for my camera right now because my old one just broke, and my understanding and loving husband signed up for a brand new credit card just so he could buy me a new one. =-)

Day 27 Our computer/the Internet. Without them I would not have my blog or facebook for which I am so thankful.

Day 28 Our health. I am thankful that since I married Ben and we started a family, none of us have had any serious health problems. We are all healthy and my girls have been healthy since birth. It is a wonderful gift to have our health and I am so thankful.

Day 29 My Chiropractor. Dr. Rock has saved my back after both of my pregnancies. Before the adjustments, I was in constant pain and it was even affecting my sleep. Now I feel as good as new. I will always see a chiropractor after each of my pregnancies. I don't know how people survive after childbirth without them!

Day 30 Restaurants. Because cooking 7 days a week takes it's toll, and it is such a wonderful treat when my husband suggests going out to eat so I can have a break from cooking. Plus restaurant food is delicious. =-)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Mercedes' Thankful List (2012)

This morning Mercedes and I had a talk about Thanksgiving. I told her that Thanksgiving was a time to remember all the things we were thankful for...all the things we were glad that we had, and remember to thank God for them. I read her my 30 Days of Thankfulness list (to be posted soon) and asked her what she was thankful for. Here is the list she came up with: (these were her words, in her order...I didn't help her at all!)


God
Daddy
Emerald
Mommy
Toys
Chocolate chip waffles
Bologna
Stories
Outside
Gramma
Grandpa
TV


I think she remembered all the important stuff. =-)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Purpose of the Chill Spot

A few months ago, I created Mercedes' "Chill Spot" as one of our discipline techniques. (Read more about it HERE ) I recently decorated the wall above her Chill Spot to remind me and Ben of it's purpose and to keep us focused on what we are trying to show her and teach her while she is using it.



When Mercedes is sent here, this is what we do.


The decorations are too high for her to reach so she doesn't tear them off the wall before she has "chilled". =-)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Chocolate Rolo Cookies

I made these the other day and Mercedes and I devoured them. They are maybe the best cookies I have ever eaten in my life! They are a wonderful treat for the Christmas/New Year's season.


Ingredients:
1 package Rolo's
1 box Devils Food Cake mix (I used
Betty Crocker's Gluten Free Devil's Food Cake Mix to make them gluten free)
2 eggs
1/3 cup oil

Powdered sugar (optional)

Instructions:

Mix cake mix, oil, and eggs. Take a small ball of dough and form a ball around the rolo. (Only use enough dough to cover the rolo so it can spread through the cookies. Place on greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 7-8 minutes. Makes about 3 dozen. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.


Apple Pie Enchaladas

My mom used to buy these frozen from the Schwan truck that used to drive through our neighborhood when I was growing up. I LOVED them and have been craving them for years. These homemade ones taste JUST like them.


Ingredients:
1 (21 ounce) can apple pie filling
6 tortillas (I used corn ones to make them gluten free but wheat ones would probably taste even better!)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup water

Instructions:
Spoon about one heaping quarter cup of pie filling evenly down the center of each tortilla. Sprinkle with cinnamon; roll up and place prepared casserole dish. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine butter, white sugar, brown sugar and water. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly; reduce heat and simmer 3 minutes. Pour sauce over enchiladas and let stand 45 minutes. Bake in preheated oven 20 minutes, or until golden. Serve with vanilla ice cream.



Thursday, November 8, 2012

Rules for Raising Our Girls

After Emerald was born, Ben and I started talking about how we wanted our girls to be raised...what kind of values we wanted them to have, what messages we wanted to give them on a regular basis, what attitudes we wanted them to have about themselves. I started jotting things down and here's the list I came up with. A list of "rules" for me and Ben to follow while raising our girls.


Whatever we do, we do it with them. As much as I would love to sit and play with my kids all day, sometimes there are other responsibilities that Ben and I have to take care of. As much as possible, we include our kids in whatever we are doing...cooking, cleaning, working on the car, grocery shopping, trips to the bank...to spend all the time we possibly can with them and also to teach them about responsibility and about life.


Don't tell them "no" when we could say "yes". This is not about spoiling them or never letting them hear the word "no". This is in the context of when they ask us to read them a story. Or let them finger paint. Or play outside. As busy adults, it's easy to tell them "not now" or "later" or simply "no" for no other reason other than that we'd rather get the dishes done or maybe we're just too tired and don't feel like it. I want to always be willing to tell my kids "yes" when they want to spend time with me. If I am constantly telling them "no" or "later" they will eventually stop asking me.


Give them plenty of hugs, kisses and cuddles. I don't ever want my kids to wonder if I love them or not. There are a million ways to remind my girls that I love them, but one thing I want to make sure of is that they are getting plenty of positive physical contact. Tons of hugs, kisses, cuddles and snuggles every single day.


Never yell. Anything we have to say to them, we can say in a regular tone of voice. I don't like being yelled at, so I am not going to yell at my girls.


Respect them. We think of our girls as tiny people with their own thoughts, personality, and opinions. While we are teaching them, training them, disciplining them, we will keep in mind (and let them know) that what they are thinking and feeling matters to us and their thoughts and opinions are important.


Don't let them cry alone. When our kids are babies, we never let them cry alone. No matter how tired we are or how frustrating it is or how many things we've tried to get them to calm down that have failed, we hold our babies when they cry. Since Mercedes became a toddler, we have always given her the option of having us sit by her when she is having a fit or a meltdown and we hold her when she is sad. Sometimes Mercedes doesn't want us around because she's mad at us, but we always let her know that we are right around the corner and as soon as she is ready for a hug and to talk about it we are right there for her. I do not believe in letting babies cry in their cribs in a room all alone and I do not believe in ignoring a toddler's temper tantrum or meltdown when they need help to work through those emotions.


Give them plenty of encouragement and praise. Whenever we see them doing something kind, smart, or brave.


Encourage creativity. Always, even if it means cleaning up a mess afterwards.


Pray with them. Every night. It is a wonderful time to review the day, let our kids voice their concerns, let our kids hear us pray for them and encourage them to pray to God too.


Tell them they are beautiful at least once a day.  I want them to grow up knowing what a wonderful job God did when He created them and never feeling self-conscious about the way they look.


Talk to them about God throughout every day. My number one goal as a mom is to give my girls every opportunity to have a personal relationship with God. I want them to see that God is actively involved in our lives and that He loves us and takes care of us.


Always ask ourselves "what is best for them?" when making decisions. We research, pray, and ask ourselves "what is the best thing for our girls?" when making a decision. We never compromise our girls' safety or happiness to make our lives more convenient.


Put their needs before our own. Too many parents these days refuse to be inconvenienced by their children. I refuse to let my needs get in the way of what my precious babies need. They come first. Always.


Make learning fun. I am homeschooling my kids. My goal is to make learning exciting for them so they want to learn, and let them learn about what they are interested in. I don't want to teach my kids using boring bookwork and dry curriculum. I want them to thrive on hands-on learning based on what they love and are passionate about.


Take time to enjoy them. It is so easy to get caught up in the diaper changes, the laundry, the dishes, the doctor visits, the wiping noses and making sure their tummies are full. Sometimes I feel like all I do all day is simply keep them alive...feed them, dress them, bathe them, put them to sleep, clean up their messes...I want to make a point every day to do more than that. To pause. Relax. Enjoy their sweet smiles and giggles. To remember why I love being a mom. Throughout every day.


Listen to them.  When Mercedes is having an extra testy day, I get so frustrated because she won't listen to me. Our day takes an incredible turn when I take a few minutes to sit down with her and ask her how she is feeling, why she is feeling that way and what is making her act the way she is. We do our best to see life through our kids' eyes and let them know that what they think and how they feel is important to us.


I'm sure these rules will change and adapt as our girls grow, but this is what we have so far. What are some rules you have made for yourself as a parent?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Jingle Feet


Mercedes loves to run around the house with these bells on her ankles.

I sing and she dances to the nursery rhyme:

Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross,
To see a fine lady upon a white horse;
Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes,
And she shall have music wherever she goes.