Doc McStuffins Babysat E While I Was Sick. And I’m Totally Cool With That

I haven’t been sick sick in a long time. I think the last time I had a fever I was teaching preschool, a job where hazmat suits should be issued but sadly aren’t. Then this weekend we got the head cold from Hell. Not a lot of snot, a minor sore throat, but a high fever that wouldn’t leave for three days. E came down with it on Thursday, meaning little sleep for me, and I got it Friday. This deployment has been wrought with sickness. Given our close timing, I can only assume we picked it up at dance class from the little love who was lethargic and coughing. Thanks awesome mom for bringing your sick kid. Hey dance mom, in the future let’s keep in mind that it’s a toddler dance class, not the New York City Ballet. Thanks.

Anyhoo. Given the whole three days of misery thing, she was 100% by Saturday evening. I was not. Sunday morning arrived along with a necessary trip to the store for dog food (my plan had been to go to the pet food store on Friday, and clearly that didn’t happen) as at this point Meatball had had whole wheat bread and yogurt (at least they were organic…) for two meals. One outing with a potty training toddler and a large bag of dog food and I wasn’t up to entertaining E. Enter the DVR and Doc McStuffins. Thank you Lord for DVRs. E had the time of her life watching every Doc we have, and I was able to lie like a dead thing on the couch running death prevention. We are both still alive so clearly I did a bang up job.

E watched pretty much a whole day of TV, and survived. As did I. I felt like a new person after a day of rest and a good night’s sleep. If you had told me when E was born that she would watch an entire day of TV, I would have said maybe when she’s in college. Or, 2 1/2.

This brings me to the larger point of sharing this weekend’s misery and my adoration of Doc. I’ve had one too many conversations with mom friends who feel stressed that they aren’t living up to the ideals of a parenting style. My philosophy: Parenting is pragmatic.

It’s comforting to hold a parenting philosophy close. Attachment Parenting, Free Range Parenting, The Child Centered Approach, etc etc. They can offer guidelines and answers to problems at all hours of the day, but only within the confines of their tenets. Life, however, does not always fit nicely into a particular parenting philosophy’s teachings. So many parents, especially moms, who already have one of the hardest jobs known to humankind, are left feeling like failures as they weren’t able to live up to the {Insert Parenting Philosophy Here}’s ideal of what a parent should be doing.

The tenets of Attachment Parenting were born in a laboratory setting.

Free Range Parenting was created by ONE MOM, based on her and family’s experiences.

And on, and on, and on.

This isn’t to say that many parenting philosophies don’t have value. Most do. But to hold so strongly to a parenting philosophy that you alter your life in ways that compromise your sanity, well that’s just insane. As for myself, I am indebted to dear Doc McStuffins and I don’t regret it one bit.

 

 

The Bluum Box! A (very honest) Review

The Bluum Box. Or A whole lot of new products for E that I would have never tried on my own as I am a creature of habit. And a Target addict.

Bluum Box 1 Entire

 

Filled with toys and products designed around your child’s (or baby’s) age, each Bluum box gives you the latest in on-trend items for your little ones. For myself my Bluum box was an eye opener to some awesome and useful products I had no idea existed:

BabyBanz sunnies for tots, with an adjustable yet form fitting and comfortable head band. E kept them on for more than a second. Win!

Baby Bannz Glasses Bluum

A Re-Play snack storage kit that took E and I from tot snacking to big time kid. No spill proof top needed for my little rockstar, and it’s Earth friendly as well (E is obsessed with the recycling bin, and what goes into it as opposed to the trash. She seems to be intrigued by her snack cup being made from her old Stonyfield Smoothie containers).

A reusable stay-in-place placemat for dining out. It, like its green self, saves a lot of green all around.

Bluum Placemat

The Raspberry scented de-tangler, not such a fan. Far too much scent for my liking.

The Ugly Duckling…need I say more. A classic every child’s library should have at least one of.

So, my honest opinion?

All the items in the box, based on their retail price, would add up to the cost of a one-time Bluum box. Through Bluum.com you can order one box, a year of boxes, or a few months worth. A one time Bluum box is not a money saver, though the other plans would most likely be (depending on the products for the month of course).

A Bluum box does, however, introduce you to new products you may not have known about or may have heard about but not yet tried. I found most of the products (sans the de-tangler) to be useful and intriguing items that I could see purchasing more of in the future.

If you’re looking to be on the forefront of kid, toddler and babyhood (or the other way around), then Bluum.com is for you. If not, stick with Target and all that the Cartwheel App has to offer. See you in The One Spot.

 

 

A Fourth of July Art Project for Your Little Ones, Along with Ideas on Talking About the Fourth with Little Ones

fourth of july art project collage final .jpg

What kind of Military Family would we be without a Fourth of July project?

For this project we made red, white and blue paper by painting a large sheet of white paper with red and blue paint, just like in our Spring Art Project. Since the weather has been gorgeous, and painting in and of itself is more fun when it’s messy (sensory fun!) we did our painting outside.

RWB Painting 2

After E completed her patriotic painting we moved onto blue handprints for the flags.

Look Ma, Blue Hands!

Look Ma, Blue Hands!

Blue Handprints

After E’s painting fun, I painted red stripes next to two of the best handprints to make the flags.

Handprint flag 1 .jpg

Once the red and blue painting dried I cut out stars for the wreath. I wanted a handmade feel so I drew stars on the back as opposed to using a star cookie cutter or star pattern.

To make the wreath frame I cut the middle out of a generic paper plate, along with the edge. I cut out the middle of two paper plates and kept both centers to mount the handprint flags.

After E woke up from her nap, I showed her the stars and told her how they were made out of the painting she had made. I modeled how to glue the stars on and then let her create her wreath (with a lille help from me now and then).

Gluing stars on .jpg

We then moved onto the flags. We talked about her handprints and how I painted red stripes next to them to make a flag. I had a picture of an American flag for her to see and talked about how her hand was the stars and the red lines were the stripes.

To finish making the flags I mounted them on the paper plates and added the sticks. For preschoolers have kids help mount the cut out completed flags on the paper plate circles.

Handprint Flag with Stick .jpg

Talk about what parts of the circle you have to remove to make it fit the rectangle of the flag. Tape or glue the sticks for the flag on (I found tape worked best for this part) and let all pieces dry.

 

Once all pieces are dried, arrange as you’d like. Here’s what we came up with.

Completed Fourth of July Project Displayed .jpg

I put E’s project next to her Countdown plate, an appropriate place I think!

 

Why we celebrate the Fourth of July is a big concept for little ones. Different countries, fighting for freedom, American liberty, and so on. Taking large concepts like these and breaking them down to their simplest form, within a context children will understand, can be challenging. Here’s an idea for toddlers and preschoolers:

“We’re having a big party today because we live in a very special place, and we’re happy we live here. Today is like a birthday for the special place we live. It’s special here because we can make choices that lots of other kids, moms and dads can’t make, like what to wear, what we talk about, and what schools you can go to. Daddy works to help keep us and our special home safe. We’re very blessed to live where we do, and so today we’re celebrating, just like we celebrate your birthday!”

Happy Fourth of July to You and Your Family! Enjoy!

Precious Faces Flower Bouquet for a Mom’s Day Brunch or Birthday Party Centerpiece

Main Pic for Bouquet Post .jpg

Is there anything more precious than the sweet faces of our little ones? In my opinion, no. So for Mom’s Day and Birthday parties for E I love to make her sweet face the highlight of the day’s decor. I like a good gallery wall or two, but using those to document a year of photos for Mom’s day or a birthday party can be tedious, and what do you do with all those framed photos after the fact? Photo albums are nice, but they often get placed on a shelf and forgotten for years to come. So rather than take the time to frame 12 photos for each month of the past year or make yet another photo album, I decided to make a bouquet of sorts for a Mom’s Day display. After making it I realized it would be super cute as a centerpiece for a child’s (or adult’s I suppose!) birthday party as well. Multipurpose, love it!

Here’s What You’ll Need:

What you'll need for the flower project.jpg

1. 11 Wooden flower cut-outs/Acrylic Paint in any color/Craft Glue/Decoupage/Long Lollipop sticks/13 Large Foam Flower shapes/White paint for polka dots (not pictured)/Ribbon if you want it displayed out of a vase.

2. A template for the center of the flowers where pictures will be placed.

3. Cut-out faces from photos using the template. Have one photo for each month of the year (either May to May for Mother’s Day, or a year from the person’s last birthday)

4. A large flower made of two foam flowers for the current month (so this May, or the month of the birthday) to be the center of the bouquet.

And Here’s How to Put it Together!

Step By Step How to for Bouquet.jpg

1. Paint wooden flowers with acrylic paint. I chose to do this outside since it is a bit stinky.

2. Let dry and then add polka dots using a lollipop stick if desired. I added white dots to half the flowers.

3. Using Decoupage, apply the pictures.

4. Seal the photos on by applying two coats of Decoupage to the top of the flowers.

5. If you haven’t already, make the center photo by gluing together two large foam flowers and applying the current month’s photo to the center.

6. Glue lollipop sticks to the back of all the flowers. Note the month the picture was taken on the back of the wooden flowers. I have terrible handwriting so I added the next step to hide the chicken scratch but still allow for it to be accessible.

7. Glue large foam flowers to the back of the wooden flowers. Attach using the sticks as the point of contact so you can still see the month when attached and dried.

Glue foam flowers onto stick to see the month .jpg

 

Place finished flowers in a vase with stones or glass beads, or tie them together with ribbon. I opted for the stones in a vase as this will be used as a centerpiece. And voila! A visually appealing and precious centerpiece for a Mother’s Day brunch or a Birthday party.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms and grandmothers out there!

 

Instead of Fashion Friday, Epic Fail Friday! And How Our Organized Ways Saved Us From Utter Chaos

And no, not in the style realm. This week has been an epic fail in terms of what we had planned, and for a much anticipated get away for Jer and I. The cold Jer had the week before hit me on Monday and E on Tuesday. I rarely get sick, so if I get it, it’s a monster, and this one most certainly is. Fever, epic snot, the whole gamut of fun.

Myself as I write this post. I'm sporting a lovely red nose as a nod to the nautical stripes.

Myself as I write this post. I’m sporting a lovely red nose as a nod to the nautical stripes.

Between getting ready to move and trying desperately to have one night out before Jer goes back to the ever so lovely boat schedule, this couldn’t have come at a worse time. Not much was done in terms of the move, and the weekend plans were a bust. For myself at least. Jer headed out this morning for the wedding, which I can’t begrudge him, it’s a high school friend and all, though I’m pretty sure my stare as I said “bye” when he left bore a hole into his inner being.

One positive take away from this week is a much stronger adoration for our family’s organization, and in particular, our weekly plan. Lesson learned:

A well oiled machine is easy to run and manage when sickness or other debilitating circumstances strike.

Despite feeling like death warmed over, by just going through the regular motions I was able to keep up with the housework and laundry, leaving me time for my work and blogging, and we had a fresh cooked dinner every night made from real food.

Yup, we’re those people. Organized planners. I’m not one by nature, but after years of struggling with a rare learning disorder I made myself (or, to be fair, my mother made me via specialists) into one. Jer, this comes naturally to him. Now we had lots and lots of time to come up with a way to be efficient both financially and time wise in family life as it took us two years to get pregnant with E. Lots of time for spreadsheets and plans. That’s a whole different story, the end is sweet and lovely. Back to the topic at hand, as with all best laid plans ours had to have some tweaking here and there, but for the most part, it looks something like this:

Weekly To Dos .jpg

So, Olivia, you’re a dork, awesome. Well, perhaps, but more importantly, this level of organization saved our butts this week. Not only did we start out with a not Pinterest perfect but in good shape house, but I was able to keep on top of what needed to be done and didn’t forget those things that creep up on you little by little, like those seemingly small piles of laundry that somehow breed overnight.

I feel that people often see ideas like this and find it all a bit overwhelming, so let me break it down: By having a plan you won’t forget to take care of each and every area in your house, eliminating the bathroom horrors and science experiments in the fridge. Rather than spend an entire day cleaning or doing laundry, that if you miss will leave you buried and unable to really catch up, just do a little every day. Here’s how:

Pick one thing to do in the bathrooms, bedrooms, upstairs, downstairs, kitchen, etc, and mark those items down for a specified day. Do the same for all other things that need to be done, and voila, you have a weekly plan. Reminders like “take the toys in” may seem trite, but how many times have you left the sandbox open in a rainstorm? Life is busy, and little nudges are helpful.I myself have found that the fill-in-the-blank planning sheets I’ve tried for home and work, though visually appealing, aren’t all that useful to me as they don’t fit my needs exactly. I prefer to use good ol’ Excel (or Numbers for Mac).

I hope you are having a wonderful start to your weekend, and although my week turned out less than ideal and left me with a strong dislike for the college students who gave this to my husband, it did give me the idea to share our planning strategies with you. Hopefully you find it somewhat helpful, or at least mildly entertaining.

P.S. This post goes well with this one that I wrote on making easy to follow meal plans and lists of what needs to be done for yourself and those around who can and/or should help out.

 

 

 

 

Easter Weekend 2014 and A Bit on The Unexpected Beauty of Childhood Transitions

Easter 2014.jpg

We had a wonderful weekend celebrating Easter with my family in Massachusetts. The weather was gorgeous, everyone was healthy, and the Easter Bunny was on point with his baskets. E was the recipient of a dazzlingly glamorous octopus, bubbles and stickers. Cousin H walked away with Heatwave the Rescue Bot and a front loader. The twins were thrilled with their bottles of breastmilk, and Easter Egg hunting was a success, though E was less than thrilled with candy. A win in my book. Not to worry, she did get a delicious treat she actually liked, some yummy carrot cake after Easter dinner.

Bubbles!!

Bubbles!!

The past few weeks have been a bit trying for E and I, so a lovely family weekend with lots to do and new places to explore was well received by all. E has seemingly overnight gone from a young toddler to a budding two year old (though that isn’t actually happening until August). The days of playing contentedly with her with favorite toys and books are over. Her appetite for exploring her world and new experiences is insatiable. Sadly this took me some time to acclimate to. Rather than meeting her new gusto for life with open arms I became frustrated that I couldn’t get done what I used to be able to during the day.

Then I gave myself a talking to. It went something like this:

Look at her. She’s a miracle. An amazing, beautiful little miracle who wants to know everything this world is about and what it has to offer. And you get a chance to fall in love with her all over again as she grows and blossoms in this new segment of her childhood.

For this small snippet of time you have to opportunity to help her learn and explore all that she can get her little hands on. And in a moment, she’ll be off learning about things you’ve either forgotten or never learned yourself, and your role of sidekick will be over. So for now, let her join in on all you do, even if that means 15 minute laundry sessions and numerous walks around our neighborhood. The rest of the to-do’s can wait. Every now and then I get it right when talking to myself.

So that’s what I’ve done. I’ve restructured my expectations for what I can get done during the day and subsequently rescheduled my day. E and I are both happier and it shows in her behavior. Fewer tantrums, more fun, and a once again peaceful home.

Water Play Happy .jpg

All is well, until the next transition, at which time I will hopefully have already learned to take it in stride and go with the flow of E.

Dinner, Laundry, Chores, The Odd Bodily Fluid Spill…Bueller, Bueller? Here’s How to Organize and Delegate Your Own Unique To-Do Lists

Yup, we’ve got a lot on our plates. Whether you’re a stay at home mom, a work from home mom, a working mom, or, a mom of any kind, we’ve got a lot to do. So when I say things like “take at least five minutes a day for you” or show you a tutorial on how to best apply makeup, I imagine some of you busy mamas may be giving me sideways glances from afar.

Skin Dull

I’m sorry, you said eye shadow? I heard change multiple diapers and get some form of food on the table for dinner.

So rather than tell you how you can use those sometimes (or all the time?) unattainable five minutes to treat yourself with some pampering and beautification, I’m going to instead show you how to get a hold of those five minutes, each and every day.

Hey, Remember That Time You Helped Me Fold the Laundry? Ya, Me Neither. 

Does this sound familiar: I have to focus on what needs to get done right at this moment, so I never get ahead, and I wonder why no one sees all that there is to do and just does some of it.

This can be even more frustrating if you have a babysitter, mommy’s helper, nanny or other help that isn’t doing as much around the house as you’d like. Wait before you judge me on that one, I’ve worked as a nanny and a childcare provider, including working for a family with a four year old and infant twins. Housework and cooking is absolutely part of the gig and is doable. The thing is, whether it’s a husband, in-law, your own mother, or hired help, it’s often not that those around you are purposefully ignoring what needs to be done, rather, they haven’t been directly asked or told what to to and so…just don’t. If you’re an initiator like myself you may be having a minor meltdown at that last statement. Trust me. Most people need to be told what to do.

Organize and Delegate 

Chores and Meal Prep To Dos.jpg

 

As a work from home mom I know that I myself can always use some extra direction. Having mom friends who are working, stay at home moms, have nannies, do it all themselves, and really just run the whole gamut of mommyhood, I’ve begun to realize that we all could use some organization and direction.

I have to admit that when I read blog posts a while back about creating meal plans and cleaning schedules I wasn’t so convinced. I tried a few but fill in the blank plans and schedules didn’t fit my life or my needs, so although I filled them out, binders and all, I never followed them. But after creating my own customized meal plan with meal prep to-dos, a chore schedule, and lists of upcoming projects I want to actually get done in the next month, or year, I started to wonder why haven’t I been using these all along?

Here are the components I use:

  • A meal plan with dinners for each night, along with a list of things that can be done throughout the day to prep for the evening meal. Either yourself, your older kids, child care providers (you get the idea) can see what needs to be done to make dinner time easier.
  • A grocery list for the meals you have planned based on what you already have, along with the regular items you always need. If you’re sick, or otherwise unable to do the grocery shopping (or have the option to have someone else do it) you have a complete list of all you need for the week at hand.
  • A cleaning schedule. On this list each day of the week has its To-Do items. I get it, toilets aren’t hard to clean. But keeping a house clean and tidy is. When someone wants to know what they can do to help, or you want to clearly state what needs to be done, either to yourself or someone working for you, this is your go-to list.
  • Short term and long term to-dos. This is really just for you. What projects have you been putting off? Set the goal and get them done!

Yes, I am asking you to spend more time on the front end for a large payback of time in the future. Your cleaning schedule won’t vary much, and you’ll have your “regulars” on the grocery list. Once you have your lists done, you can start delegating. This, my friends, can be the scariest part. Take a deep breath, let it go, and give the to-dos to those who can do it. This includes you. You can do it.

I’d love to help you customize your meal plans, schedules and to-do lists. Connect with me at meandbaby.e@gmail.com or comment below for more on how I can help you bring it all together and give you more time for you time!

-Olivia