Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Back to School: 5 Signs the School Year Has Started

It’s coming! The back to school season! The return of homework, valet lines, and lunchbox dilemmas. Here are a five signs the school year has started.

The school supply section at Target (or other big box store) looks like something out of a post-apocalyptic scene from
I am Legend.
, I know it’s pretty exciting to get spiral notebooks for 3 cents but perhaps leave a few pencils and Minions folders for the people who were ‘left behind.’

Click to tweet:
 http://ctt.ec/3oD4R When the school supply section at Target looks post-apocalyptic #backtoschool

The amount of alarms/notifications on your phone has quadrupled.
Each week, my daughter has an early release day. There are also frequent minimum days. I don’t ever want to be that parent who has to do the ‘walk of shame’ because I forgot to pick up my child at school.  So, I have a lot of alarms on my phone to make sure I never forget.  In general, the start of the school year signals more extracurricular activities, playdates, and school functions.

Residential traffic and double parking is out-of-control.
When the school year starts, the residential streets are suddenly flooded with cars. And, if there is a school function in the morning, I’d rather walk the mile to my daughter’s school, even with a tired three-year-old, than try to find a parking spot. I don’t know about you, but people in my neighborhood get a little desperate when they are running late. Parking spots that aren’t really parking spots get used and people try to sneak into the valet line. Luckily, there are a lot of great crossing guards that help keep order.

Lunch box pin heaven.
I notice that as the school year draws near, darling lunch box pins start taking over my Pinterest feed. From sandwich faces to lunch box notes, there are enough ideas to easily plan around 180 of the cutest school lunches you’ve ever seen. I begin happily pinning homemade fruit roll-ups and peanut butter banana sushi. Yet, by week two, my kids are lucky if they get a heart-shaped sandwich, some store-bought crackers, and a fruit leather (also store-bought).  

The paper trail.
 I’m so glad many of the schools have decided to put the school emergency cards online. Still, during the first few weeks of school, there is plenty of paperwork to be signed, homework to be completed, and important notices to hang onto. I have a steel safe a few baskets to keep important school papers contained, and away from my dog who eats paper like it’s raw steak, and away from my three-year-old who has a tendency to draw on everything stuff.

I have mixed feelings about my daughter going back to school and my son starting preschool. On one hand, I’ll miss going to the beach on a weekly basis. 
On the other hand, it’s nice to have a little more structure.

Bring it on, back to school! I'm ready for you!

So what about you? Are you overjoyed, sad, or indifferent about the start of school?  Tell me in the comments.

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Connect with Moms and Moms-to-Be With Preggie App

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Preggie App.
All opinions are 100% mine.

When I was pregnant for the first time, I had a lot of dog-eared pregnancy books.  I went for regular prenatal appointments and used Dr. Google and my family for support.  However, I had very few friends who were expecting or who were already moms. 

I wanted to connect with moms.

I wanted a community of women going through the same thing as me.

I needed someone who I could share my saltine crackers with because they were also going through morning sickness.

I needed someone to vent to when yet another person said to me, “You look huge”......when I was only six months along.

After having two late pre-term babies, I wished I had someone to talk to that had also been in the NICU trenches.  

Pregnancy is a joyous experience; yet it can be isolating.  In addition, being a new mom can be a very emotional time.  Even though you may know other moms, they may not understand what it’s like to battle infertility, to experience gestational diabetes, or to suffer a miscarriage.

This is why Preggie App is an amazing tool for women who are pregnant, new to motherhood, or simply want to engage with other moms.

The social network for moms is easy to download and is user-friendly.  It allows moms to express their emotions, joys, and trials in a safe community.  In fact, one thing that I think separates it from other forums or social networks is its ‘live monitoring’ which helps squash any mommy shaming or arguments that I so often see online.  

Once you download the app, you can upload a profile photo.  You can also choose to add your pregnancy status, or your kids’ names, their sex, and birthday.

Then, you can connect with moms both near and far.  The app has an option to enable your location so you can find other moms in your city for park dates and more.

You can upload pictures or texts, follow other users, and send direct messages.  You can also like or comment on other people’s posts. And, if you aren’t too fond of someone, you can block that user.  

Another great feature is the ability to search by content.  For instance, I typed in “morning sickness” and found plenty of moms asking, answering, and talking about their tummy woes.

The last time I was on the app I saw a message in my main feed where moms were asking other users to keep some NICU moms in their “thoughts and prayers.”  How awesome is that?  I also loved all the adorable baby pictures along with the real and honest nature of the posts.

A few more cool things about Preggie App:
  • Digitaltrends.com added the app to its list for "200 Awesome iPhone Apps for 2015."
  • It’s available on iOS and Android
Pregnancy is a great time to make new, lifelong connections with women who really get what you’re going through.  This extraordinary app can help make this possible.

Come together with Preggie App!

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Saturday, July 18, 2015

Overcoming Our Biggest Parenting Fears

There is nothing that can bring you closer to fearlessness about everything else in the world than being a parentbecause everyday fears, like not being approved of, pale by comparison to the fears you have about your children. — Arianna Huffington

Being a parent is an emotional experience.

Joy, frustration, and wonder are just a few of those emotions.

Fear is another.

Perhaps my fear had something to do with the fact that both my kids were late-preterm babies, each born a little over a month early.

Perhaps, the fear stemmed from my experiences in the NICU, their lower birth weights, or the fact that my son had to be rushed to the NICU in an ambulance when he was a few days old.

Or maybe a lot of parents feel this way.  

After my firstborn, my daughter, was released from the NICU, I remember having trouble sleeping. Although I was still exhausted from the rigors of childbirth,  I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. Through heavy eyelids, I watched her chest rise and fall.  Part of this was due to amazement and part of it was fear...fear that that she would stop breathing, or choke, or something. Of course after a night of this, I did sleep because I realized I needed to get some rest.

By the time we left the hospital, she was barely five pounds and she looked so small and fragile in her carseat.

When my son was born, I had similar fears.

During the newborn stage, I was often worried about their weight. I was worried about people bringing over germs and having them get sick and lose even more weight.

As my kids have gotten older, I still have fears about my children being hurt, physically or emotionally.  But, I have let go of some of my parenting fears. Part of that I attribute to time and part of it is realizing I’m not in control of everything.  

This summer, my family and I have been doing a lot of indoor rock climbing.  

At the facility we go to you have the choice to wear a harness and hook yourself into an auto-baley system (I’m not an expert but I feel like this system is so much safer than the manual baley systems I have used before).

Or you can boulder without a harness.

My son is only three and a half so he doesn’t boulder yet.  And, even though he is securely hooked into a harness, when I see him 30 or 40 feet up in the air, I find myself holding my breath.

Rock climbing has forced me to step out of my comfort zone….when I’m climbing and when I see my kids climbing, my heart starts beating a little bit faster.  

Because indoor rock climbing is not without risk.  However, neither is riding in a car or going on a roller coaster, or even going on a walk around the neighborhood.

But rock climbing has helped me realize this:

There are risks all around us. However, if we take the necessary precautions, if we inform our children about the world’s dangers and arm them with the skills to navigate through challenges, I know that risks are a necessary part of life and personal growth.

Indoor rock climbing, like most sports or recreational activities, has its risks but it also has a lot of benefits.
  • The mental challenge of figuring out the best way to climb up.
  • The physical challenge of climbing up the wall. 
  • The thrill of reaching the top of the route.
It builds your confidence and yes, it can help you overcome your climbing fears...and maybe even some of your parenting fears.

Plus, my kids love it. 

Tweet this: Nothing like a little indoor rock climbing to help chase away your parenting fears.

Along the way, rock climbing has helped me realize that wow, my kids can do this. They are growing up.  They are not helpless.  In fact, they are better climbers than I am.  They are capable of handling challenges on their own. 

Do you think risks are necessary for growth?  What parenting fears have you overcome?

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Saturday, July 11, 2015

5 Phrases Parents Don’t Want to Hear in the Middle of the Night

It’s the middle of the night. You’re blissfully sleeping, dreaming of your Hawaiian vacation, a hot fudge sundae, Channing Tatum, or maybe a combination of the three (in case my husband is reading this, I’m just kidding honey, really) …..when suddenly you are jolted back to reality by the sound of  screaming, crying, or a combination of the two.  
Sound familiar?

Sleep is one of my most precious commodities! I'm lucky enough to have two "good sleepers."  Since my kids are both out of the baby and toddler stage, I sleep a lot better than I used to.  However, there are times when a bad dream or illness keeps my kids up at night. As parents, we want to be there for our children. Still, there are certain phrases and noises I dread hearing in the middle of the night.

5).  There's a _____ in here. 
In the dark, kids see the strangest things.  In the dark, even a poster of Olaf can suddenly look like a demonic marshmallow. Visions of spiders, monsters or creepy shadows can cause fear in even the best sleepers. 

4). I'm hungry!
A few weeks ago, my son came into my bed and whispered, Let’s get something to eat. It was 2 or 3 o' clock in the morning.  I whispered back, Let’s lie down a little bit longer and luckily he fell asleep because our house is not a “We’re Open 24-hours a day Denny’s.”  Besides, I know you ate a proper breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. 

3) I'm scared!
For 3- to 6-year-olds, nightmares are pretty common. For a short period of time, my daughter had a strange fear of dolphins. Go figure!  Nightmares usually mean, I end up in one of my kids beds and will be kicked and elbowed in the face about 100 times before morning.  I will admit it’s kind of sweet getting to cuddle with them.

2) I wet the bed!
Wetting the bed is something that even young elementary-aged children can still experience. Other kids seem to have "super power" bladder control. However, if your child has an accident in the middle of the night, this entails changing the clothes and the sheets. Those mattress protectors can really be a lifesaver at 2 a.m.

1) My Tummy Hurts
Seriously, I would rather wake up and see a velociraptor standing over me than hear this phrase.  This phrase usually means I will be knee-deep in soiled linens for the next 24 hours. When I hear my tummy hurts I frantically start wondering if one of my kids has food poisoning.  Or maybe they got sick from another child....like that one kid from the coffee shop; the little girl who, while we were waiting for our goodies, got about two inches from my son’s face and launched into a story about how she was just at the doctors because she had the "barfies” (true story). 

Click to Tweet: At night, I would rather wake up to a velociraptor standing over me than hear this.  http://ctt.ec/HnJ23

Taking care of sick or scared kids is part of the parenting job description. While I always want to be there for my kids, I still like a good night's sleep; at least, every once in awhile.

What phrases or sounds do you dread hearing in the middle of the night?

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Saturday, July 4, 2015

4 Things Parents Can Learn From Mary Poppins

I love classic movies and not too long ago my family and I watched Mary Poppins. Along with a great soundtrack, I actually learned a couple of lessons from watching this magical movie.  Here are a few things I think parents can learn from Mary Poppins

Come Prepared

There’s nothing worse than going to the park and realizing you forgot a few extra diapers. As a parent, you need to be prepared. When my kids were babies and toddlers, I always tried to keep my baby bag fully stocked with diapers, wipes, a snack, a blanket and some small toys. Although my kids are older now, I try to bring drinks, a snack, a change of clothes... etc.  You just never know when you might have to wait a long time at the doctor’s office,  your car won’t start, or, better yet, someone might get carsick....that's always lots of fun!  Mary Poppins was always prepared and her carpetbag was full of everything she needed.  
A lamp, a mirror, a coat rack, a tape measure, you name it. I’d like to see what she would pack for a day at the beach with a couple of kids.

In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.

Chores can really suck. For instance, I hate laundry. However, if you can make chores a little bit more tolerable fun by playing music or turning it into a game for the kids, I say go for it.  SNAP the job’s a game, right?  

Tweet this: Need some parenting advice...you might want to ask #MaryPoppins   http://ctt.ec/u704O

Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.

Sugar...we all have a sweet tooth inside of us. Mary Poppins was really onto something when she said “Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” Growing up, I remember actually being excited to drink the pink bubblegum flavored amoxicillin I had to take for 95 percent of the ailments I had as a kid. My kids are the same.  In fact, I usually have to hide the medicine and remind my kids...you can only take a spoonful, twice a day.
Research in the UK even found that a “tiny amount of sugar can ease the suffering babies and toddlers feel when receiving jabs or blood tests.” So I guess there really is some truth to the saying.

Use Your Imagination

From jumping into a chalk drawing to making up fun words (Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious anyone?), the fantasy elements in Mary Poppins are plentiful.  This reminds me to tap into my children’s imaginative spirit. From cloud watching to making up songs, kids are always ready for some creative fun!

If you think about, Mary Poppins has a lot of great quotes and advice:


What lessons do you think parents can learn from Mary Poppins? Tell me in the comments.
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