Dinos to Divas

April Birchbox Review

Tulip Garden

It’s that time of the month again! No, not that time, the fun time! The time when my monthly Birchbox arrives! Let’s step away from the kid stuff and pamper ourselves for a bit.  Check out the samples below to see where they rank on my rating scale.

Rating Scale

Not My Style        Take It or Leave It      Must Have

DavinesDavines OI / All in One Milk-Full Size $30

Must HaveThis left my hair bouncy and shiny the couple of times I have used it. I would definitely recommend it.

DavinesDavinesDavines OI / Shampoo & Conditioner-Full Size $28 & $34

Must Have-A smaller sample of the picture above came as a Bonus and I love it! When used in conjunction with the All in One Milk, I feel like I should be on the cover of Vogue.

Acure Organics Lip Lush Shade-Date Worthy-Full Size $5.99

Must Have-I’ve have used this every day since I got it. It goes on light and not sticky.  Just the right amount of color to match my skin tone.

Aquareveal Soft Water Peel for Face-Full Size $58

Take It or Leave It-While it did leave my skin feeling fresh, not sure if it would be worth the full price.

Sumbody Milky Rich Salt Scrub-Full Price $18.95

Take It or Leave ItI’m not real big on salt scrubs. I always seem to have a hard time feeling like I got it all off. I’m sure there are a lot of people though who might enjoy it.

rms beauty™ the ultimate makeup remover wipes-Full Price $16

Not My Style-Ick…left me feeling as if someone just poured baby oil all over my face. Took forever to feel clean all off. Not a fan.

Have you ever tried any of these products? Share your comments with me!

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Autumn (1)

Jackson just turned 6 and with his birthday came a dose of attitude.  A few nights ago, I asked him to run upstairs get some pajamas for Bailey.  In the past, this would have been no problem, he even found it fun getting to pick her jammies out for the night. However, this time I was met with a shocking response.  He sighed and snapped back, “Why can’t you do it?”….Um, what? Who are you and what have you done with my sweet little boy?  It was all I could do not start selling all his new toys on eBay immediately. Unsure if he had just hit the age where defiance was normal, I started looking for ways to get this nipped in the bud.  Especially since Bailey is a little mime and does whatever he does. I couldn’t risk her picking up the ‘tude that early. Here are some tricks I learned from Parents magazine for cutting the sass and getting my little angel back.

Don’t get too emotional when it happens.  This can be tough, particularly when you have already had a ton of people talking back to you at work all day.  You certainly don’t need it at home and it can cause your blood to boil. But engaging in a verbal boxing match with your child only shows that they can get a rise out of you. Simply let them know that the way that they are talking to you is not acceptable, nor productive, and it won’t get them anywhere.

Praise them when they do speak respectfully.  More often than not,  Jackson is sweet and loving.  Make sure to point out the times when your kids behave that way so they know how happy it makes you. “Parents tend to pay attention to the negative things and ignore the good ones, ” says Alan Kazdin, Ph.D., director of the Yale Parenting Center.  Jackson gets so excited when I tell him I am proud of him and kids will remember those moments.

Follow through on discipline. In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to say you will take away their most favorite possession or not let them go to their friend’s birthday party if they talk back, but much harder to keep good on that promise. But if they know you never follow through on anything, they’ll figure you out real quick.  They’re sneaky like that. If you decide you want to withhold activities from them, make sure it is something you are comfortable with and not something you will regret when the moment actually comes.

Be sweet as candy to them.  When the attitude rears its ugly head, drench it with your own sugar. Megan Oesterrich, director of parenting education at the Center for Connection suggests to disarm their rudeness with kindness.  Take deep breaths, remove the power struggle, and tenderly ask them what’s wrong.

 

What do you do to fix their back talk? Share your comments with me!

 

 

 

 

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A Survivor’s Story

 In honor of April being  Sexual Assault Awareness and Child Abuse Prevention Month, I will be stepping away from the typical mommy posts I write and would like to share a post originally written by Olga Trujillo.  A few years ago, I had the honor of meeting Olga when she agreed to be the keynote speaker for the Tarrant County Sexual Abuse Advisory Conference.  As a part of the conference committee, I was tasked with the honor of picking her up from the airport and delivering her to the hotel the night before she was to speak.  I did not know much about her, other than she was a survivor of child sexual abuse.  So about a month before the conference, I purchased her book, The Sum of My Parts so I could learn more about her. As a victim advocate, I had been trained in the types of trauma and victimization sexual assault survivors experience, and I can certainly rattle off the text book definition of how to talk, listen and provide assistance to those survivors.  But until reading this book, I never truly understood the horror and devastation child victims of sexual assault have to endure on a daily basis. Reading this book was a life changing moment for me, and as a result, I have become a better advocate in the way I work with these types of victims.

Olga was amazingly humble and easy to talk to. And although I was in awe of her, by the end of the drive, I felt like we were old friends. She is amazingly resilient given the nightmares she had to live every day as a child. Here is more about who Olga is in her own words. This information was taken directly from her website http://www.olgatrujillo.com.

About Olga Trujillo

Olga as a childOlga as a child

Olga grew up in a family ravaged by violence.
Daily, Olga witnessed her father’s brutal and terrifying attacks on her mother. She herself suffered constant physical, emotional, and sexual abuse – from her father, her brothers, and as she grew older, many others outside her family.

With astounding clarity borne from years of intensive work, Olga has unraveled the impact of violence in her life. It is this insight – combined with over a decade of experience working with advocates from a national to a grass-roots level – which guides and inspires her word today.

Olga Trujillo is an independent consultant, nationally renowned speaker, survivor, and attorney dedicated to enhancing understanding of – and building effective responses to – violence against women and children.

Olga Trujillo, J.D.Olga Trujillo, J.D.Child Abuse & Sexual Assault Survivor, Speaker & Consultant

Her career began in the early nineties at the U.S. Department of Justice. For four years, she served as General Counsel to the Office of Justice Programs, the youngest woman and only Latina to ever hold this position. In 1995, Olga joined the Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) as legal counsel, and subsequently became Director of the Special Projects Division. In this capacity, she oversaw an eight million dollar budget supporting technical assistance and training projects on victim issues.Olga’s rare combination of personal experience and professional skills compelled her to create ORT Solutions in 2001 (now Olga Trujillo Consulting). Olga Trujillo Consulting’s mission is to help provide comprehensive, thought-provoking and innovative approaches to child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, immigration and human trafficking issues. Offering a myriad of consulting services, Olga Trujillo Consulting partners with each client to identify and assess their needs and tailor a comprehensive plan to meet those goals.

Here is a post Olga shared in her online journal on April 2, 2013-www.olgatrujillo.com:

When someone you know is sexually abused or raped

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Prevention Month. I am reposting this for those who know someone who has been abused. This is how you can help.

We all know — and many of us are close to — people who have survived sexual abuse or rape. Chances are, many of you reading this are survivors yourself. We often encourage survivors to speak about their experiences, to get it out. It’s cathartic, it helps us to move through the pain, it helps us see that we’re not alone and that it wasn’t our fault.

We might not think as much about how to be on the receiving end of the story. What should we say? How do we talk with a survivor in a way that helps her heal a little bit more and feel okay about having told someone?

Here are some of the most important things that my friends and family have done that really helped me. I’m hoping you will think about these ideas, share them with the person in your life who has survived violence and ask him or her what might you do to help. Consider this a starting point to your discussion–not an ending point.

1. Listen

Listening sounds like a pretty easy thing to do. We do it every day, right? I used to think I was a good listener but I know now I was an okay listener. When friends talked to me I couldn’t escape my thoughts. Rather than focusing on what they were saying, what I was sensing from them or what they might need from me, I focused on what I was going to say. Oftentimes, I interrupted them to say it.

The things I said often weren’t even for their benefit. For example, if I heard something that made me uncomfortable or even triggered me, I wanted to reassure them and end the conversation. So I would say, “Well, I wouldn’t worry about that” or, “That’s no big deal.” But they were worrying about it and it was a big deal to them. In my effort to reassure, I didn’t listen at all. I dismissed their concerns.

I still do this, but a lot less often. I know the difference between really listening to someone and just kind of listening but mostly focusing on my feelings. Now, I try–admittedly not always successfully–but I try to really listen. I started learning how to do this in therapy when I noticed that the psychiatrist with whom I worked listened so well. On the rare occasions when his listening skills weren’t their sharpest I noticed how different my time with him felt.

I learned about listening in a more profound way from my partner. I experienced through her what it felt like to have someone you care about really hear you. It’s an amazing feeling to not be brushed away. I know she works at being a good listener, but she is also a keen observer. She can sit and listen and doesn’t seem to be anywhere else than with the person to whom she’s talking. She doesn’t typically go to her fear to respond or need to end the conversation. She can tolerate the pain the person is in to be in it with them, without being pulled into it.

By watching and talking with her I have become a better listener. Not as good as I want to be, but I keep trying. As I get better, people seem to feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts with me. People talk about their anxiety, fear, and despair and I am better able to wash away my fears, my anxiety, and my uncertainty to focus on them. I have found that when we listen intently without a need to do something about what we’re hearing, people will share more with us.

When we ask survivors to speak out against their abuse, we have to know how to listen, really listen.

2. Believe

When memories of abuse first started returning to me, I decided to tell a friend who I had known since I was 13. I was terrified that she wouldn’t believe me. As a young teenager, I had found refuge in her home and family, and she had known my family well. She was shocked to hear what had happened, but believed me. She said, “Now things make more sense to me. I thought there was something weird with your family.” I was so relieved. Her response helped me to continue to talk to her about my memories and gave me the confidence to tell other friends.

Even around having Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) I needed to know that if I told someone they would believe me and know I am still the person they have known for years just with more information about myself. There are still people I meet today that say “I don’t believe in DID”. It feels very sad to hear that. Its not a religion.

I was lucky enough that everyone else I told then believed me: my psychiatrist, my husband, my other friends and coworkers. This seemingly simple response of believing a survivor is powerful. My father told me for years that no one would ever believe me. Even if they did, they would understand only that it was my fault. My father had so much power over me I believed him. My family acted as though nothing was happening to me, and I saw no reason to think that anyone else would act differently. Being believed over and over by those close to me as an adult helped me to eventually accept what had happened to me and start to heal.

To be continued …

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center:

  • One in five women and one in 71 men will be raped  at some point in their lives
  • 46.4% lesbians, 74.9% bisexual women and 43.3% heterosexual women reported sexual violence other than rape during their lifetimes, while 40.2% gay men, 47.4% bisexual men and 20.8% heterosexual men reported sexual violence other than rape during their lifetimes
  • Nearly one in 10 women has been raped by an intimate partner in her lifetime, including completed forced penetration, attempted forced penetration or alcohol/drug-facilitated completed penetration. Approximately one in 45 men has been made to penetrate an intimate partner during his lifetime 
  • 91% of the victims of rape and sexual assault are female, and 9% are male 
  • In eight out of 10 cases of rape, the victim knew the person who sexually assaulted them 
  • 8% of rapes occur while the victim is at work
  • One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old
  • 34% of people who sexually abuse a child are family members
  • 12.3% of women were age 10 or younger at the time  of their first rape/victimization, and 30% of women were between the ages of 11 and 17
  • 27.8% of men were age 10 or younger at the time  of their first rape/victimization
  • More than one-third of women who report being raped before age 18 also experience rape as an adult 96% of people who sexually abuse children are male, and 76.8% of people who sexually abuse children are adults
  • 325,000 children are at risk of becoming victims of commercial child sexual exploitation each year
  • The average age at which girls first become victims  of prostitution is 12 to 14 years old, and the average age for boys is 11 to 13 years old

http://www.nsvrc.org

If you, or someone you know, has been a victim of sexual assault or child sexual abuse, please contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) and you can be connected to a local sexual assault service provider.

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Having a Baby Later in Life: The Good, the Bad, and the “OMG, How in the Heck did this Happen?!”

Shout out to my friend at work, Kathryn, for inspiring this post!  She is 37 years old and 14 weeks pregnant with her 3rd child. Surprise!  Congratulations Kathryn, you will rock this!  Her little pea in the pod was unexpected, but they are excited and looking forward to adding a new member to their crew. 

I am the youngest of 5 children with 10 years age difference between me and the next oldest. Mom and Dad swear I was planned, but I am convinced I was an oops baby. It’s ok mom, I’m old enough to understand now…you can tell me the truth ;). 

But times have changed and there is no longer a stigma attached to moms who have children later in life. Gone are the days where 18 yr old frontier women, get married to the local farmer and start breeding more farmers right away. There are several benefits in choosing to have a child when you are older.

  • Chances are, your breasts, stomach, and hips have already been ruined by your first children so there is no expectation, as when you were younger, that you will ever get your body back.  Kudos to the moms in the gym every day, but that ain’t this momma. Embrace the natural progression of the sag ladies! You’ve earned it!
  • If you already have children, the older ones can help you care for the newbie. Jackson has turned into Bailey’s personal assistant. He brings her clothes downstairs, helps her get her jacket on, takes her plate to the sink. I can just kick back and read a magazine while he does all the work for me.  It’s awesome!
  • You’ve made it past all the new mom jitters. By now you are a pro and can handle everything from weird colored poop to Cheerios up the nose. Nothing can get you frazzled. 
  • Maternity leave!  I have totally thought about getting pregnant just so I can take a leave from work..  And no one better complain about it because you just squeezed a tiny human out of a very small hole.
  • Given that you didn’t sell it all on eBay, you still have all the expensive baby gear so you won’t go broke before the kid even gets here.
  • Hopefully, you are more financially stable then you were in your 20’s.  You have a clear retirement plan and your date nights won’t have to consist of Ramen and cheap wine.

 

So Congratulations to all the veteran preggo mommies out there!  Your children’s futures will be shaped by the knowledge and wisdom you bring to parenting.

Any more benefits you can think of? Share your comments with me!

 

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Birchbox Review: What Is It and Why You Should Subscribe…

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Birchbox is an online service that mails you several samples (usually 4-5) of high quality beauty products, including make up, hair care, skin care, perfume, etc. in a super cute box each month. It includes an information card with the price and product description of everything you get in case you fall in love with something and want to buy the full size. Before you receive your first month’s box, you are able to go to Birchbox.com and personalize your interests so they have an idea of what type of products to send you.  I find this really cool so you don’t have to get a bunch of samples of things you won’t use that would end up just cluttering up my drawers.  I get super excited at the beginning of the month knowing my Birchbox is on its way.  The samples are usually a decent size and they end up lasting me a few months. Being a working mom on a budget, this allows me to use products that I normally would not spend the money on without having to find time to shop.  Any of the products you are sent can be purchased on the Birchbox website as well as the product’s website but purchasing directly from Birchbox allows you to earn points that you can use towards future purchases or subscriptions. I would absolutely recommend this as a gift subscription for all ages (I gave a 3 month subscription to all of my teenage nieces last Christmas) or splurge and subscribe for yourself! See all the products that came in my March box below!

Look how cute the boxes are!

Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Oil-Free Cleanser- Full Size, $19.50

Liking this so far. No excess drying of my skin and my skin feels smooth after every wash.

PARLOR by Jeff Chastain Moisturizing Sea Salt Spray- Full Size, $24

Supposed to provide you with “beachy” hair look.  This hasn’t really worked for me the way it’s supposed but I think it’s because my hair is too fine. I really like their texturizing spray they have sent me though. 

Smashbox Cosmetics Photo Finish Primer OilSmashbox Cosmetics Photo Finish Primer Oil-Full Size, $42

I’m not big on putting oily substances on my face but I have noticed a bit of a reduction of the many lines that age and kids have gifted to me. And my make up did look smoother when I applied the oil before my foundation. 

trèStiQue Color & Smudge Shadow Crayon in Aspen Pine-Full Size, $26

This is by far the best eye-liner I have ever owned!. The tip is wide enough that you really don’t have to smudge, but if you want a smokier look, the smudger is there for you to use. Stays on all day and easier to remove. I definitely plan on buying this in different colors when I wear this one out.

Wilma Schumann Skincare Hydrating Collagen Eye PadsWilma Schumann Skincare Hydrating Collagen Eye Pads-Full Size, $18

These pads did make my skin feel slightly refreshed when I took them off, but I think you would need more of this product to truly test it worth.  The sample only included one set.

 I plan on doing a review post every month so I can share with you all the cool stuff that they have.

Comment and tell me if you have used Birchbox, or any other type of subscription similar to this and what you think of it!

All opinions and reviews of this website and products are my own.  I have not been compensated for any of my comments.

 

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Parenting A-Z :Tips on Raising Healthy and Happy Kids

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When Jake and I found out we were pregnant with Jackson, a flood of emotions poured in. The joy of knowing that we were growing our family and would soon have a little boy running around was so overwhelming.  But excitement quickly morphed into extreme fear. How in the world were we going to care for and shape a tiny human’s life. Jake was sure he was going to physically break him in some way and I was positive that my OCD

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Jake feeding Jackson at the hospital

tendencies and overprotective ways would only lead him to a future filled with therapy. We read all the parenting books, which only freaked me out even more. As soon as I was sure I had a sleeping plan or feeding schedule down, I would read another book that contradicted the first one. Needless to say we were both pretty neurotic the whole 9 months.

 

Jackson is now 6 and Bailey is almost 2 and I am proud to say they are both happy and emotionally stable children (relatively speaking of course). However,  I am finding out that if your 1st born is an angel growing up, the adage that the 2nd born will be a little devil has proven true.  Bailey is a lot more independent, moody, and demanding. Nothing like Jackson or Jake but everything like me!!

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For the new moms out there (and some seasoned moms who may want a refresher) I have put together a list of ways to keep your little dinos and divas happy and healthy while keeping you from losing your mind.

The ABC’s…

Always make time to listen to their stories about the events of their day. Even if it sounds like gibberish coming from a toddler or rambling coming from a kindergartner, they have something to say and they deserve to be heard. This gives them their own voice in the house which will give them a sense of empowerment and self-confidence that will hopefully transition into their social engagements at school or with friends.

IMG_3090.JPGBe Silly.  I must admit this comes a bit difficult for me. I am generally a serious person by nature, but I would see Jake playing monster with the kids or crawling in their fort like he was the dragon invading the castle and realize how much fun it was for the kids to see daddy being goofy. They quickly turn into giggle boxes when he’s around. Don’t be afraid to make silly faces, create funny character voices when reading or just cut loose with crazy dancing.  It will make for a lifetime of memories.

Cuddle as much as you can. So I am not a very touchy, feely person, but I will always make an exception for my kiddos. Whenever you get the opportunity, sit down, read a book or just talk about your day while cuddling. This shows them you are making time out of your busy day for them and gives them the affection kids need at this age.

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Jackson is notorious for eating goldfish like a bear ruffling

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This was fun to walk in on…

through a camp site. He leaves crumbs everywhere! While this can be extremely irritating, I try not to dwell too much on these little mishaps.  Lord knows we have more important things to concern ourselves with.  I do make sure that Jackson is responsible for cleaning up after himself though so he knows it’s up to him to fix the mess he’s made.

 

 

Early bedtimes make for easier mornings. We have been lucky that both of our kids are very good sleepers. We attribute a lot of that to early bedtimes. Believe it or not we start Bailey’s bedtime routine around 6:30 and Jackson’s around 7:00.  Not only does this assure that they are both getting some well deserved rest so they are easier to wake in the morning,  but it also gives a little extra down time for Jake and me!

Family Game Night. We try to dedicate 1-2 nights a month to board games and pizza.  Jackson gets so excited in picking out the games ahead of time and even sets an agenda in the order we play them (my OCD has appeared to rub off on him…I couldn’t be prouder).  Our phones are turned to silent, TV’s are off, and we just focus on having fun with each other.

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Playing Headbands for Family Game Night!

 

Get Active.  Walks, bike rides, and trips to the park are easy, free and a lot of fun.  We also try to visit local nature centers so we can teach the kids about local wildlife while getting a little bit of exercise in.  Some of the greatest learning moments come from nature and observing the world around us. 

Happy Meals. So I wish I could say that I am one of those organic, granola moms but sadly I cannot. I realize this tip  kind of goes against the “healthy” part of the title but come on, sometimes a Happy Meal is just what you and the kids need when you can’t muster the energy up to cook a real meal. And McDonald’s has come a long way in making healthier options available including items such as apple slices, mandarin oranges, and Gogurt. 

Ice cream. My kids don’t really like ice cream so this is more for me. A dab of it a few times a week helps keep me sane. Better than booze and Xanax right?

Just let it go.  Temper tantrums, rude parents who cut you off in the school drop off line and a constantly messy house are all things that can lead to major stress and headaches.  But on the grand scheme of things these are minor irritants that you shouldn’t let affect your mood and demeanor at home.  I actually learned this the hard way when Jackson asked daddy one night why mommy looked so sad all the time. I didn’t realize how much I was projecting to the kids. So now, I take a breath, count to ten, and learn to let it go.  PS, I promise this tip was not influenced by the movie Frozen.

Keep the key pieces of artwork but throw out the rest. When Jackson was younger, I kept EVERY piece of scrap paper that he ever drew a line on. Seriously, I had a closet full of that stuff. When Bailey came along, I realized I had to find a way to trim it down. So I now have two walls in my kitchen where I display the most recent pieces and I rotate them out. The kids love seeing their masterpieces hanging up and it helps to boost their confidence. After they get pulled from the wall, they get put in a box categorized by grade. All the other little coloring pages they do get thrown out.

Let your child look up the questions to things they don’t know (and the things you don’t!). I never realized how much I didn’t know until my child starting asking me to explain things to him. “Um yeah honey, I know why water looks blue, but you look it up and see if you can find out for yourself”.  This allows him to build his research and computer skills while hiding the fact that there is no way I could ever come up with a logical answer for that!

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Yeah I cried a lot…so what.

Make time for as many school activities that you can. I was fortunate to have a mom that stayed at home with all her kids and some of my fondest memories are of her being room mom or helping with our holiday parties. As a working mom I realize this can be very difficult, especially when it seems like the schools ALWAYS have something going on.  Just remember there will always be meeting at work or reports to complete, but there will never be another Hopping Horses (Bailey’s classroom) Easter Party or a preschool graduation.  Your kids will remember the effort you put in to involve yourself with their lives. I know I do.

Never strike your children. Aside from all the research that says it just is not effective, it increases the chances that they will use hitting against you or a friend when they get frustrated.  Kids are sponges and the model their behavior after you. Set a good example and use your words instead of hands.

Organize snacks on a level of the pantry that they can reach. I realize this is a bit risky but hear me out. Bailey has a box of snacks on one side with grabbers, fruit snacks, Ritz crackers, etc. and Jackson has a box on the other side with snacks he likes. When they want a snack, they know they have to ask permission. They also know that if they overindulge or take without permission, the boxes go to the top shelf and they lose the privilege.  This has helped increase their independence and teach them a sense of responsibility in their actions if they don’t follow rules.  

Play dress up. This increases imagination and teaches kids they can be anything they want to be. They also like seeing Jake and I get silly and join in the fun. Ahem, note the banana picture to the right…

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Jackson’s first Halloween

 

Quit running to your child’s aid every time they have a conflict. Whether it is a simple argument between siblings, or a friend at a birthday party being mean, don’t be so quick to intervene. Sit back and give them a chance to work it out on their own. This was difficult for me in the beginning and thank God Jackson’s daycare did not have a live video feed or I would have been a hovering helicopter mom calling or running up there every second. With the arrival of Bailey, I realized it was ok for kids to have scuffles, as long as they didn’t turn violent of course. It teaches them how to use their words and handle different types of conflict.  

Respect their fears.  When Jackson was around 4, we had several middle of the night visits from him telling us he was scared of the monsters in his closet.  So every night, no matter how tired we were,  Jake or I would walk him back up to his room and check the closet, under his bed, and everywhere else a sneaky monster could hide. We ended up downloading a neat app called Monster Meter and he loved it!  It allowed him to scan the area and when a monster popped up (one of their monsters of course) he could spray it with Monster Spray to send it away.  It really helped him get over his fear and most importantly, allowed him to stay sleeping in his own bed!

Slow down. Surprise! Kids do not move at the same pace as we do. Jackson is the worst dawdler in the world and if you read my Tips for a Smooth Morning post, you know our day starts out hectic and crazy. But I have found the more I rush, the slower they tend to go. It could be the crazy, panicked look I have on my face that scares them half to death and stops them in their tracks…Yeah, that’s probably it. Nevertheless, if you slow down and make a game out of tasks, I find that they move much quicker on their own. I set a timer on my phone and tell Jackson I bet he can’t get dressed by the time it beeps. This makes it fun for him and allows me to work on other things while he focuses on his own chores.

Talk to them. Duh right? But it can be easy to move through the day around your kids without ever having a simple conversation with them. “What was the coolest thing that happened today” or “What did you talk to your friends about at lunch” are easy conversation starters that open up a whole slew of interesting things to talk about.

Understand that there will be days where the house looks a tornado blew through it or the kids look like they have been swimming in a mud pool, but that’s ok. Don’t stress and freak out or it will only make the kids feel the same way. Allow for those days so that the days when things go smoothly seem that much more of a success. 

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Spring Break in Galveston!

Vacations are a much-needed break from reality.  Not saying that you will still not be exhausted when your back home from all the hustle and bustle of your trip, but it gives everyone a chance to experience fun and different things together as a family creating memories that last a life time. See my post, Spring Break Adventure, to learn about all the fun things we did on our trip!

 

Wine drinking after the kiddos go to sleep…just a little bit…or a lot…either way, enough said.

X-rays can be scary but they are not the end of the world. Since my kids are prone to pneumonia, these are a common thing for us. The important thing is to make sure they know everything is ok and it is there to help see what is wrong so they can start to feel better. If you stay calm, they will stay calm.

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Bailey doing a breathing treatment at Cook Children’s Urgent Care

 

IMG_3176 (1).JPGYou are their best friend, hero, and role model. Make sure your behavior reflects that.

Ziplocks are good for everything!  Happy Meal toys, rubber bands, Legos, pieces of the superhero Mashers, Pokémon cards, whatever. Keep a healthy supply of Ziplocs on hand and let the kiddos be responsible for filling and storing their own junk. 

 

I would love to hear any tips you have to share! Follow us and remember to confirm the email they send you to start getting future posts!

 

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Spring Break Adventures!

IMG_3350So we just got back from a week in Galveston, Texas and while it was not my first choice for a beach vacation, I must say we had a blast. Any trip you take with kiddos can present its fair share of challenges, and we certainly had our share (most of you who know me know that bad luck is our middle name). But all and all we were able to enjoy a nice break away from the everyday craziness that is our life.

Day 1

After being stuck in Houston traffic for what seemed like days, we finally arrived at the San Luis Resort around 4:30 pm.  Pretty much eIMG_3412.JPGvery other school was on Spring Break so we expected some delay, however ours ended up being longer than everyone else checking in at that time.  The front desk staff and management could not seem to figure out why housekeeping had our room on hold. They had never encountered that before (not a huge surprise for us though, things like that tend to happen to us quite often).  But I must say they were all very friendly and after giving the kids stuffed parrots and toys (most likely hush money to keep Bailey from screaming and scaring all the guests away) and a complimentary late check out on our last day, we made it to our room. Beautiful ocean views and views of the pool kept the kids entertained while Jake and I tried to regroup before the next mishap…uh I mean adventure.

IMG_3346.JPG

Day 2

After realizing the night before that we had forgotten to leave a house key for Jake’s dad so he could tend to the dogs, having a major freak out moment, then paying over $200 to have a lock smith spend 5 minutes getting into our house, we were determined to have a great first day. We planned to conquer the beach and pool but with overcast skies and weather reports threatening rain, it took us a little bit to get started. We IMG_3359finally made it and the kids had a blast. Now I personally am a bit of a beach snob and prefer the sands of Maui or Aruba to what Galveston has to offer, but the kids didn’t know any difference so I sucked it up.  Kite flying and seashell collecting will be memories that they will always have of their first beach trip and that’s all that matters.

 

 

 

Day 3

“Houston, we have a problem”.  Just kidding, despite the crowds of extremely rude people, we actually had a great time at Space Center Houston.  Jackson was amazed at the space shuttle, real working training center, simulation ride, but most importantly the gift shop.  Bailey, not so much. This was a grumpy day for her and her divaesque qualities were firing on all cylinders. Get it? That was supposed to be a NASA joke…  Anyhoo, we had a good time. Amazing to learn about all the awesome things we are doing up among the stars.

Day 4

Dolphin Watching! Overcast and threatening rain again in the morning but by the time we got ready to head to the harbor, the weather lightened up making for a pleasant trip.  Just a short jaunt in and out of the harbor area but it was enough to see dolphins, battle ships, and sunken boats. 

Day 5

This was supposed to be our going home day but since we were having so much fun, we decided to stay an extra day and enjoy the beach and pool again.  Unfortunately, our room was booked for that night so we had to move to another room with a King bed instead of 2 Queens, but once again the staff at San Luis Resort accommodated us best they could and kept us on the same floor just two rooms down and assisted in moving our stuff.  The kids were super excited and we spent all day basking in the sun, playing in the waves (and dodging the occasional jelly fish that Galveston beaches are famous for).  Splurged on room service for dinner since we were so tired and gross from the day and called it an early night. 

So I would call our trip a success for the most part. But there are several things that I came to realize during the week.

  1. A toddler who lovingly lets out loud playful screams in public is only cute to her mom and dad.
  2. When you have two kids attached to you at the beach or pool, you are invisible to all other males around you so there is no need to worry about things that may be hanging out of the wrong places. And skinny, young girls, smile at you in pity.  Some day girls…some day….
  3. Hotels and fun restaurants seem to send out invisible waves to kids saying “don’t listen to a word your parents say and run around like crazy mental patients”.
  4. The reason parents gain weight on vacation is because after your kids eat their designated 2 bites of their meal, you stuff your face with leftover hot dogs, pizza, and chicken strips cuz you paid so damn much for it and you are not about to let your money go to waste. 
  5. But the most important thing I have learned! Enjoy every moment and memory you can make with your kids before they become the teenagers at the pool trying to get away from their parents. 

What did your family do on Spring Break? Share your stories with me!

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Tips for Making Mornings With Kids Run Smoothly

Free stock photo of woman, morning, bathrobe, bathroom

As I have mentioned before, I fly solo in the mornings when it comes to getting me and my kids ready for the day.  It took me a while to get the timing down, and there were many days where it would have been easier to throw in the towel and call in sick for work and school, but eventually, I was able to pin down a routine and get out the door with as little emotional damage and physical pain as possible.  Although your toddler still may occasionally throw up all over you when walking out the door (thank you very much Bailey) or  the “Oh Sh*%” moment when you remember that your son was supposed to turn in a family tree project today still may happen, there are ways to plan ahead for the morning to keep you sane.  Here are some things I learned that made my mornings go smoother and I hope they will do the same for you!

Wake Up Early to get Yourself Ready

I wake up at least an hour before I wake the kiddos so that I can do everything I need to do that only pertains to me.  Shower, hair, makeup, pack my bag, etc.  This way there are minimal distractions while I am putting myself together.

Pack Lunches the Night Before

This has been a lifesaver for me.  Get as much packed into the bag and put in the fridge as you can. That way you can just grab and go in the mornings.

Pick Out Clothes the Night Before

This used to be an everyday ordeal to get Jackson to pick out his clothes in the morning. He would take forever deciding what shirts to wear and then argue with me about wearing shorts instead of jeans no matter what the weather was like. Now, my husband or I make it one of his bedtime routines to pick out all of his clothes before we start reading books. 

Get Kids Changed and Dressed Right When They Wake Up

I used to let Jackson watch cartoons while he was eating breakfast and getting dressed. This proved to be a constant battle of me telling him to “hurry up, hurry up, hurry up” which only put both of us on edge. He is a classis dawdler. Now, he has an alarm that wakes him up and he knows he needs to go potty and get dressed before the TV gets turned on. 

Serve All Kids the Same Breakfast

This may not be possible if your kiddos have food allergies or dietary restrictions.  Since that is not a concern with us, I have found it easier to make sure they are both eating the same thing. This cuts down on one child pointing out something they want on the other child’s plate, thus starting a level 10 nuclear melt down. Bailey used to be the worst at this!!

Load All Bags and Gear Into the Car Before You Load Your Kids

So I learned this the hard way…One morning shortly after Bailey found her running legs, I walked the kids out, multiple bags on both arms, Yeti in one hand, Bailey holding the other and Jackson walking in front of me. Everything seemed fine and I was celebrating my multi-tasking skills when Bailey gave me the slip.  She managed to break free and started sprinting down the sidewalk as fast as she could, which was surprisingly very fast for her age at the time.  As I was trying to feverishly drop everything, my bags got all tangled, my Yeti dropped and spilled all over, and all I could hear was Jackson was yelling “Go Bailey Go, Go Bailey Go!” from the his seat.  I started sprinting after her as fast as I could, one heel on, one off, until I could get barefoot. Luckily, a very judgmental neighbor stopped her car and caught her until I could catch up to her. That exchange was fun.  I’m surprised I didn’t have protective services at my door the next morning….So now, I have learned to pre-load as much as possible before I bring the kids out with me.  This way, if my little track star escapes again, I will be ready. 

 

So good luck and may all your mornings be smooth and painless!

 

Share your “mommy morning” stories with me!

 

 

 

 

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Remember…

fallen officers

Euless Police Department lost one of its heroes this week. Officer David Hofer was shot and killed in the line of duty on Tuesday afternoon. While we stop to celebrate the life he led, let’s take a moment to remember all of our officers around the country that have laid down their life to protect us…

In the Line of Duty What is the meaning of In The Line Of Duty
It means that an officer made the Ultimate sacrifice.
It means that someone took an officers life.
A hero has fallen.
Officers who gave their all
To protect and serve us
Have been killed by someone whom they swore
To protect and serve.
It means that their badge will no longer be on their chest
And they will join The Best Of The Best
It means that family and friends are left behind
To deal with the loss of a loved one. Only having the memories of that loved one
Close to their hearts.
Something no one can ever take away.
It means that family members will stand at the officers grave
And wonder why…
Why would someone take an officers life
And leave them there to die?
If we only knew.
Today an officer will place their badge on their chest
To fulfill the dreams of heroes killed
In The Line Of Duty

-Author Unknown

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“Are We There Yet?!!?!!” A Survival Guide for a Road Trip with Kids

cartoon-siblings-fighting-in-a-car-on-a-road-trip-by-ron-leishman-1981Anyone who has children has heard that question at least once while driving with their kiddos any significant distance. Kids are just naturally antsy and you can’t expect them to entertain themselves during long trips. We will be taking a trip to Galveston for Spring Break in a couple of weeks ourselves and I’m sure we will hear this at least a hundred times.  So in order to keep everyone happy, healthy, and non-homicidal during the long haul here is a checklist provided by Real Simple Home and Lifestyle Network for must-have gear when travelling with little ones. I’ve used this list for our family trips and it is sure to keep the adventure fun for the kids and stress free for the mommies and daddies.  

See Bonus Recipe Below for Rosemary Thyme Pita Chips.  Great Road Trip Snack for Everyone!

Activities

  • Books, Magazines, and Comics
  • Games such as car bingo or the license place game
  • Sketchpad, washable markers
  • Small dry erase board, Etch A Sketch, Magna Doodle
  • Pipe cleaners, easy origami or other scissor-less craft supplies
  • Portable DVD player and DVD’s; head phones are a must have!
  • Books on tape for the whole family
  • Scrapbooking envelope-let your kids collect mementos from the trip such as ticket stubs, brochures, etc.

Food

  • Individually packaged, crumb-free snacks such as bite-sized goldfish or pita chips (see below for recipe!)
  • Hard to bruise fruits such as apples and berries; fruit roll-ups or fruit leathers
  • Trail mix
  • Reusable water bottles

Miscellaneous

  • An emergency kit that includes: jumper cables, a first aid kit, flashlight with extra batteries, road flares or reflective triangles, scissors, a fleece blanket, bottled water, and protein bars.
  • Garbage bags to collect trash
  • Extra diapers and wipes if necessary
  • Change of clothes that are easily accessible
  • Blanket for picnics
  • Jump ropes and balls so the kids can burn some energy at rest stops!

 

So pack up, load the car, and set of on your family fun fest.  Enjoy!!

 

Rosemary Thyme Pita Chips

Rosemary Thyme Pita Chips

http://www.food52.com

Serves 8 (depending on the size of your pita)

  • 2 pitas
  • unsalted butter
  • honey (preferably one that spreads easily and is not too runny)
  • sea salt
  • dried thyme
  • dried rosemary
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a cookie tray with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
  2. Cut your pita rounds into eighths or quarters. Pull those pieces in half so that each piece consists of only one layer of pita. Place each pita piece on the cookie tray, rough side up.
  3. Spread each piece of pita with a thin layer of butter. Do the same thing with the honey.
  4. Sprinkle each piece with a pinch each of sea salt, thyme and rosemary (adjust according to taste).
  5. Bake in the oven for 6 minutes. Rotate your pan and bake another 6 minutes, or until the chips are browned and crispy. Keep a close eye on the chips towards the end of their baking time as they can quickly go from brown to burned. Let the chips cool and then enjoy!

 

 

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