parenting

Fall Seasonal Rhythms with Kids

By on October 26, 2020

Happy Fall Y’all! October is almost over. It is now Halloween week! We live in Florida, and after living here nearly 5 years, I haven’t adjusted to 85 degree days. There’s just something about wool socks and hoodies. Although we live in a tropical climate, seasonal rhythms are still part of our family structure, and we work to establish seasonal awareness.

I enjoy making seasonal traditions with our kids, and sometimes I *need* it to feel like fall. There’s just something about crisp leaves and breezy weather.. it’s the transition. The transition to shorter days, cooler weather, and the holiday season. Today, I am going to share some of our favorite at-home fall activities.

Seasonal Environmental Awareness and Craft Projects

Spending time in, and with nature is one of our top priorities. I feel like our days don’t go as well if we don’t fit in fresh air and sunshine. A change in scenery always does us good.

When we spend time in nature, with the seasons, we like to take note of the change. Are there more pinecones than usual? Are mushrooms growing? Can we find acorns, are their tops attached or detached? With the ocean we take enjoy emptier beaches (yay!), notice the change in tides, temperatures, and breeze.

On many of our autumn walks, the little kids carry small thrifted baskets and collect things. Recently we collected mushrooms. We took them home, identified them, and researched them. Yesterday, we collected acorns that we will craft into a garland for November.

Bird watching is another one of our favorite activities. We feed birds in our backyard, and see what kind we can attract. We also love to bird watch on our walks. Ezra keeps a bird journal. He carries a sketch book and with help he can draw the birds (and I write down characteristics) and then later identify them. With the journal we can take note of how the bird species change with the seasons.

Also, leaf collecting is something my kids love. They collect leaves of different sizes and shapes, bring them home and do leaf rubbings. We also like to set up a little nature area in our home so we bring a bit of the vibe indoors.

Seasonal Reading Rhythms

I am going to list and link some of our favorite autumn books. I change out a basket of books for each season and these have been in rotation for years now. They are something I’ll likely hang on to and treasure because we love them so much!

  1. Woody, Hazel and Little Pip by Elsa Beskow. I just LOOOVEEE Elsa Beskow books. The illustrations are beautiful and leave so much room for improv in storytelling!
  2. Moonlight the Halloween Cat by Cynthia Rylant. I also love Cynthia Rylant. She is a native West Virginian (my home state), and I have read her writing since my childhood and love to share the stories with my children.
  3. Apples by Gail Gibbons
  4. Autumn by Gerda Muller
  5. Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert
  6. Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
  7. My First Root Children and The Story of the Root Children by Sibylle von Olfers. Again, a lovely book for the illustrations. The board book version has been well loved by my children, it has the same great illustrations with an easier language.
  8. Johnny Appleseed by Reeve Lindberg

Autumnal Flavors and Aromas

Lastly, we have been enjoying autumnal flavors in the kitchen. Each week, I have been trying something new so they can taste the flavors that are traditional to fall.

Our favorites so far have been:

  1. Pumpkin Spice Baked Oatmeal Cups
  2. Applesauce from Honeycrisp apples. Just apples, water and cinnamon simmered until soft and mashed.
  3. Roasted Beet & Arugula Salad— this one was best for the adult palates in the house, but the little kids love roasted beets, so I just leave some undressed ones for them.
  4. Paleo Pumpkin Bread this is a simple grain/refined sugar free version.
  5. Herbal teas. The kids LOVE having tea parties. I’ve been choosing chai spiced versions of herbal teas (caffeine free) and it is a fun, festive way to keep the kids occupied for 20 min!

We have also been diffusing yummy warming, autumnal essential oils in our diffuser. I have been gravitating toward cinnamon bark, clove, cardamom, ginger, and tree oils like Northern Lights Black Spruce, and cedarwood.

These oils are wonderful for the aroma, but also have wonderful immune supporting and air cleansing properties, so a wonderful bonus.

I hope you are enjoying your fall! What are some of your autumn favorites?

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budget | parenting | pregnancy

Guest Post: Top Tips for Thrifty Moms-To-Be

By on October 1, 2020

I am so happy and excited to feature this post by Emily Graham. You can find this budget-friendly article and plenty of other wonderful content on financial wellness at mightymoms.net.

When you’re expecting a new addition, it’s natural to want to splurge on every little thing for your bundle of joy.  However, the last thing you want to do is feel distracted about finances.  Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to prepare for your baby without overspending.  These thrifty tips will have you not only ready for your baby’s arrival but will ensure you’ll be able to focus on every precious moment.  

Take a breather

One of the simplest things you can do for yourself in preparation for your baby’s arrival is to spend time relaxing.  According to research, relaxation helps expecting moms reduce their stress and anxiety levels, feel more energized, and stay in a positive mindset.  Try doing some meditation exercises to help you focus and let go of tension.  Just 10 or 20 minutes a day can help you feel better, and it’s a simple and free addition to your lifestyle.

Revamp the reveal 

Gender reveals come in all shapes and sizes, and with a little ingenuity, you can create a celebration that is inspired, entertaining, and memorable.  For instance, a photo shoot can be terrific fodder for a unique gender reveal.  You can get packs of pink or blue gum, then take pictures blowing bubbles in the appropriate color and post them on social media.  If you spend a weekend at the beach, you could even take advantage of the photo op by writing in the sand, “It’s a boy” or “It’s a girl!”  It’s not only clever and affordable, but it also takes less time and energy than a party.  

If you’re ready to party down while pinching pennies, think about fun things like creating a paper maché volcano that erupts pink or blue “lava,” or cupcakes with appropriate colored filling.  You could even have a fiesta and fill a piñata with colored candies.  The key is to have fun with whatever you do!  

Baby and big kid

Setting up your baby’s space is super exciting, and it’s easy to get carried away with everything there is to buy.  How can you stretch your pennies with a whole room to redo?  Actually, there are some pretty clever solutions for the whole shebang.  The key is to think in terms of versatility.  By choosing decor that will be adorable now and remain appropriate later, you can create a beautiful nursery that adjusts as your little one grows.  

The first place to look is your furniture.  It can add up quickly if you need to buy all new bedroom items as time goes by, but with things like convertible cribs and a dresser that doubles as a changing table, you can stretch each piece’s usefulness along with your pennies. If buying brand-new furniture busts your budget, consider furniture hacks to create a cute and comfy nursery. 

For moms-to-be on the go

For some moms, the arrival of a little one is mixed in with other things that are keeping you on your toes, such as work, school, and even other little ones. How can you prepare and save money when you barely have time to stop? Perhaps you could have a pregnancy subscription box delivered right to your door? There are boxes tailored for each trimester such as The Stork Bag and BumpBoxes, and both are filled with items you need (and didn’t know you needed) that are delivered right to your door.

The nursery is another area that takes a lot of time to get ready. Try to dedicate each weekend or free time you encounter to nursery prep. Shop online as opposed to in-store, and take advantage of store pick-up and delivery. Create some sort of timeline for when you want things done, but don’t fret if you can’t stick to it. In reality, as long as the baby has a safe space to sleep, you can forego the nursery altogether, saving both time and money.

Find alternative ways to save

There are plenty of other budget-conscious ways to save for your baby’s arrival. You can lower food costs by bringing lunch to work every day or preparing meals in advance to avoid pricey takeout food. Consider the cost of entertainment and whether you can stream your favorite TV shows and movies instead of subscribing to cable. When shopping for maternity wear, look for deals at places like Target and Old Navy. You can even buy baby clothes used! Of course, there will be some items that you don’t want to scrimp on. For example, when it comes to hospital wear, nursing bras, a breast pump or a baby sling, you want a quality item that won’t fall apart easily, especially if this is your first pregnancy and you plan to have more children. 

There are plenty of ways you can prepare for a baby’s arrival without going over your budget. Take some time to relax, be creative with your gender reveal, and when you put your nursery together, aim for items that grow with your baby.  Being frugal will allow you to not only save money, but limit stress in the long run.  You’ll be relaxed and ready to enjoy every moment when the big day arrives!

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parenting

A Change of Scenery

By on April 5, 2020

This past week has been the toughest one for us (so far) with the pandemic. In my last post, I wrote that we have kept a rhythm and worked to stay positive and uplifted, dealing with emotions, dealing with our health and keeping our family moving along.

Things shifted this week with my oldest having shorter school days. My husband is starting to go a little stir-crazy and feeling down about not being at work. Ezra needs structured activity and is rough with his sister. The walks around our suburban neighborhood are getting boring. We were losing our creative juices and were stumbling with the kids.

I’m glad that life has been virtual, but again the double-edged sword is the amount of time we’ve been spending in front of a screen. Last night Gus and I decided that something had to change. Everyone was on edge and we couldn’t quite move out of it.

When we start stumbling, my mind wants to check out. I feel guilty for not being grateful enough. We have a nice home, we have everything we need, we are safe. Instead, my mind wants to think of what I should be doing, how we should be living. Maybe it’s a farm, maybe we need to be more sustainable, maybe we need to be millionaires, we definitely need to change something major as soon as this dissipates. This is a glimpse of my stressed-out thoughts. Really all we needed was a simple change of scenery.

This morning we packed up the kids and drove 5 minutes to a 12-mile conservation area (and the trail was completely empty).

This is exactly the change of scenery we needed. I can’t believe how refreshing a few hours outside can be! We spent our time on the trail looking at wildflowers and collecting some to press and identify. We watched the birds, the butterflies and just walked and talked. Ezra ran free, got dirty and peed outside. Mira napped, and suddenly all was right with our circumstances.

Getting outdoors is one of the quickest ways to change your frequency. Getting in tune with nature can wipe out so much negativity and improve your mood. Vitamin D is necessary for immunity and health and is easiest absorbed in natural sunlight. For us, it changed our entire outlook and pace and made the rest of the day enjoyable.

Gus and I were able to recalibrate and come up with a plan to tackle this next week of quarantine. We definitely added some new trails to explore and nature schooling for these kids of ours.

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parenting

3 Tips for Surviving the Sleep Deprivation of Parenthood

By on December 10, 2019

I’m going to admit something. Before having my third child, I never truly understood what it meant to be exhausted. Of course, I’ve been tired. I’ve had sleepless nights, but nothing that couldn’t be restored with a couple of good nights rest.

I am blessed with 2 boys that are amazing sleepers. Mira, on the other hand is not going to follow the pattern of her brothers. We’ve had Ezra on a 7pm-7am schedule with a 2-3 hour nap for ages. Mira is 6 1/2 months old now and still waking 2-4 times per night, and her naps are essentially catnaps. We’ve moved her out of our room, she’s in her own crib. We’ve coslept, we’ve let her fuss it out. The fact is, she isn’t biologically wired to sleep all night.

That being said, Ezra now wakes at 5:15 am like a wonderful little alarm clock. No matter what his bedtime, no matter what our bedtime, he bounds out of bed ready to go. We are coming to the point of acceptance that we are in our season of sleep deprivation.

Some days, I don’t realize how tired I am until the kids are in bed and Gus and I take time to connect and watch something on our Britbox subscription. Sometimes it takes us 3 days to finish one episode because one of us is nodding off. Oh, the saga of parenthood.

I have had to find some solutions and relief (because a nap doesn’t happen) to get me through the day so I can still function without binging on coffee. I do enjoy a morning cup of coffee, but I like to leave it as a morning ritual, not a vice for mental clarity.

Lifting the Fog

  1. Vitamin D3– this is a powerhouse hormone in our body. There are many studies showing how a large portion of the population are vitamin d deficient. This is one of the first things I take in the morning along with my probiotic and multivitamin. I need to take it anyway since I’m breastfeeding. What it does physiologically is help the mitochondria which are “the power houses” of our cells to work efficiently.
  2. Hydration– something as simple as water is an amazing tool. Dehydration slows us down, causes us to feel stronger brain fog, and actually causes us to retain fluids. I try to consume 3-4 quarts per day, and it truly does help reduce fatigue.
  3. Opt outside– There’s an old Scandinavian saying “there is no bad weather, only bad clothing”– so by implementing this phrase, getting outdoors every day can be a priority. Luckily, we live in Florida where there truly is rarely bad weather so opting outdoors is always possible. Fresh air and sunshine do wonders for the mood (and vitamin D levels). I pack up the kids in their stroller and walk around the neighborhood– it’s a quick 15 min walk but typically causes them to chill out or fall asleep and energizes me. A win-win.

These are my simplest tricks. The first tools in my toolbox that I gravitate toward when I’m feeling rundown. I have many other tools for boosting energy and clearing the brain-fog that often hits my husband and I these days. What do you do to get through the sleep deprived days?

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parenting

Simplified Childhood Play

By on November 16, 2019

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The holidays are fast approaching and this time of year always makes me evaluate our clutter situation. I am one of those people who react to clutter with anxiety. I’ve been this way since I was a child and always valued order in my space.

No matter how much I try to keep up on it, stuff always accumulates and my kids are tremendous culprits of accumulation. I have always been drawn to Waldorf or Montessori type education and play environments. I really like the idea of a simplistic play area, with a few, good quality, open-ended toys.

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I truly believe children are here to play, they develop key life skills through play. They establish emotional health, intellectual health, problem-solving and social connections. I think about myself and my “clutter-anxiety” and realize that when a kid is overwhelmed in their play area they are unable to decide what to do and essentially can’t tap their natural creativity and exploration.

In today’s society, we are bombarded with advertisements and toys that are “educational” and claim to “develop” your child.  In our home, the majority (not all– we do have some noisy plastic ones) of our toys are open-ended, classic, simple toys.

I also rotate them every few months to keep the variety engaging. My kids tend are less likely to stay focused and calm when overwhelmed with things, noises, or overstimulation. I find the classic toys are the ones that are used the most and never seem to end up lost in the house, and are wonderful for teaching.

I’ve mentioned in other posts, we have a pretty nice rhythm in our home for how the days go, we also fit in time for outdoor play and take our time during the day for exploration. We try to limit the “rush-rush” feeling when going from point A to point B and we also limit screens, although they do have their place from time to time.

I know I thrive in a simplified space, if my desk is cluttered, I can’t produce optimally so I just think about how my ideal environment looks and try to bring that in for my kid’s play area.

Before I pull out the holiday decor, so I will do my winter inventory and rotation to see what is best serving the kids in their current phases. I’ll share a few of our favorite toys in the links below. Everything I am sharing is non-toxic and eco-friendly.

  1. Balance Board– This is a great one for our toddler. He can use it in many ways– to get his energy out, to make ramps for his cars or even a slide from his bed.
  2. Grimm’s Rainbow– This is a beautiful toy and handmade in Germany. It stimulates creatively, and visually and really triggers the imagination.
  3. Uncle Goose Classic Blocks– These are played with daily. They are a great size, we’ve used them to teach letters, colors, numbers, animals, or open-ended building and playing. As the baby starts to explore her world more, I’m seeing her gravitate toward these blocks.
  4. Manhattan Toy Skwish Classic– This is another that is played with daily by both the toddler and the baby. It is a teether, a rattle, teaches colors, is a ball. It covers many bases and is very sturdy.
  5. Waldorf Doll– These are wonderful first cuddle toys. They are soft, open-ended because the face is basic and not “telling” the child what the face looks like. My oldest son had a doll similar to this that was his friend for many years, and I’m glad to buy one for the youngest this holiday season.

I work to keep our toys organized in 3 baskets in a shelving unit and my rotations are at least seasonally (sometimes more often) and we have a basket of books in both the bedroom and play area that I change every month or so. These things keep our overwhelm at a minimum, and the kids active and engaged.

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