Celebrate · Family · Mom Life

Lucky Number Seven

7 years ago, I married my best friend. This wasn’t a whirlwind romance, it was a slow growth.

Our love started when we first met in middle school in 1996 (that’s right 22 years ago). I didn’t know him except that his friends were my friends. And that I when I first saw him I had an instant schoolgirl crush. A crush that soon would be forgotten as life and school went on. We didn’t see each other much for the next few years. Occasionally would say hi in the hallway as we hurried on the way to classes. Being in different grades, middle school meant that we didn’t have lunch or classes together. And I spent much of my middle school years at my dad’s in my free time.

This would change in high school. By the time both of us were in high school, our lives were much more involved in having a social life and friends. And I found him and me together much more. He and I had our “Study Resource Time” (kind of like homeroom or study hall) together and being the only two in our friend group in the class, we bonded fast. We shared a locker and he quickly became my person. I didn’t sleep well in high school but lying next to him I spent many of our hour and a half long classes napping on his lap. I would tell him all about what was happening with me and pick on him for not telling me what was going on with him.

After I graduated high school we went our separate ways and both had bad relationships that I like to think of as our growing experiences, our own personal seven-year itch. It wouldn’t be too long before I happened to be on an old AOL messenger account and so was he (yes, we are that old). I messaged him, we chatted all night and agreed to meet for coffee.

 

And that was it. Everything clicked. It was like we never lost connection. We were meant to be.

Since then we’ve dealt with our share of ups and downs. We’ve bought two houses together. Got in countless fights about the little stuff. Had our share of losses. And have brought three wonderful little girls into this world.

I still remember us as those awkward, shy middle schoolers, but I am so much more happy with the people we have grown into and the chance for us to do it together.

Happy 7th wedding anniversary, Tim. Here is to many more

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Family · Household · Society

Is minimalism good for your soul?

The older our kids get, the more complicated our life seems to be. They are just getting to the ages where they want to get involved in activities and community. They also are not content just playing in one spot, they want to try new things, explore, and create. And we want to let them. What I don’t want is to be so consumed with cleaning, organizing, or finding lost things.

Where We Were

Before we sold our house, we were overrun with stuff. It was a struggle every day to find simple things and probably a good 30% of our house was unusable because of stuff. As we started to pack we got rid of a ton. I seriously threw out 7 tables! And I still have 2 and 4 end tables. We had too much.

We kept a lot of stuff because it would be useful. I wanted to do something with it. That broken pot? I say an awesome fairy garden idea with it that I really want to do for our front door. That box of random bottles? I want to use them to create lotions and soaps. That cord? It’s for a dream catcher I want to make. Everything was a project that I wanted to do. But what I found was that I never did them. My house was so cluttered and full, that I spent so much time cleaning and organizing. I had so many half-started, ideas of projects, that I couldn’t do any of them. I kept them all just in case I had time.

The most dangerous words for me were “Just in case”. We had this stuff, not because we needed it, but just in case we did in the future. I understand now that holding onto stuff came from a place of fear and anxiety. Having a significantly low-income, I knew that if something were to break or stop working that replacing it would put a dent in our finances that wouldn’t easily be returned. So, I kept the stuff because if something broke, we wouldn’t have to spend the money.

Mindset Makeover

What I didn’t realize was keeping stuff out of anxiety meant that the stuff became the anxiety. The amount of time I spent looking for things, or the extra cleaning, or just the sheer mental clutter that came from the physical clutter, was oppressing. And in what might be the worst turn of events, clutter is shown to decrease productivity, focus, and increases stress. The clutter that I was holding onto because I was worried about financial ruin, was actually keeping me from working more and making more money and doing any of the projects that I wanted to do.

So, we set out on a pursuit of a more minimalist lifestyle. It’s a goal I am still working towards, but one that we have made huge strides on.  I realized we need very little to be happy. With less stuff, we have more time to be a family.

Setting up Home

With our new minimalistic mindset, we set out searching for a new house. While many families of 5 say we need a 5 bedroom home with lots of space, we didn’t want that. I didn’t want to have 12 rooms to clean, and more space to accumulate for stuff. I didn’t want to have my kids “somewhere in the house”. I want to know where they are and have them with me. We started looking into smaller homes. Ones with 3, 2 or even 1 bedroom!

We knew that more space didn’t equal more happiness.

What we found was a super cute amazing 1930’s catalog home.

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Minimalism and Money

One of the best parts of the new home is the price. Priced at an amazing rate, we knew this is something we could pay off within 5 years at the most. Minimalism for me isn’t only about stuff. It’s about a mindset. Where you have and use what you need, not more or less. Minimalism is about a simpler life, more streamlined and carefree. And really that is what I want for my kids. I want us to have the freedom to explore, learn, and grow together.

Maximizing our Life

I don’t want to be stuck in a job or work 24/7. Yes, it means that we have to put in significant work to repair and clean. Yes, it took our entire savings to make this happen. But, we won’t be strapped down by overwhelming housing bills.

In the end, this means we can live the life we want. We can raise our kids, we can give back to our community, we can pursue adventures, much more than I ever thought was possible.

Did you know the average person only uses 20% of the items we keep (according to the National Association of Professional Organizers)? Did you know that on average Americans spend one year of their life looking for lost things? What would your life look like if it were simpler and clutter-free?


We still have a way to go!

One of the best things about minimalism is that we have more time to build and help community. So, we are reaching out to our community. Our remodel has just begun. We are removing a significant mold issue and we are in need of a new roof.  If you would like to help with our journey, Check out all the ways you can help

Before Pictures

Raise the Roof

Because we specialize in children’s toys, we are offering a “Raise the Roof” Sale on all of our products! Seriously, no exclusions! We are even offering a discount on our library,  which is full of helpful parenting and kids resources, guides, and fun.

Find out all of the information about our sales here!

Here is a sampling of a few of our products

Education · Family · Preschool

Life with Sensory Processing Disorder

We knew Tempest was a little different from the moment she was born. From pretty much day one, she wanted to be left alone. She was the only infant I have ever met that didn’t want to be held. We had breastfeeding issues from the start because she pushed me away. She even learned to hold her own bottle at 3 months because she didn’t want me messing with her.

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By the time she was 3, we had serious food and texture aversions and proprioception problems. She had Gravitational insecurities, dyspraxia (inability to coordinate movements), and hypersensitivity. She was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD)

Alice had begun to show symptoms of SPD too. She was Hyposensitive and dyspraxic. She craved Vestibular activities (spins, hanging upside-down). It was clear that even though she was completely opposite of her sister, she also has SPD.

Those are some big words

There is a lot of terms I didn’t know or understand when we first started looking into SPD. Sensory Processing is how your body’s nervous system processes information, such as body awareness and gravity, and translates that into a proper response. In SPD, those processes have trouble connecting and relating correct information. Essentially, those with SPD might over or under react to stimuli or their reaction might just feel slightly inappropriate.

What we are focusing on

Mostly, we just keep going and try to understand and be patient.  Their diagnosis doesn’t define them, but it does help us understand what is going on.

We are still learning, but our biggest take away is that she is going to have to learn hands-on and when they are interested. Currently, Tempest has no interest in reading and writing, but we spend a lot of time with numbers and science type stuff. Alice needs time to be creative and imaginative. Both need significant “loud” time and physical activity.

What it looks like

We still have big discipline issues with both of them. They both break things a lot (and I am talking everything, Not just their stuff). Tempest lacks impulse control, so we are working with her to be more mindful and conscious. In the last few months, she has really started to understand but is still struggling. A few months ago, in a matter of 3 days, she broke a towel bar, a shelf, and two wire cubes that her shoes were in, and pulled the toilet paper holder off the wall. All because she was trying to be a ninja. She also tore apart a foam pillow and picked a hole in her mattress (mindless picking and tearing is an SPD symptom). She ripped one of her sister’s books (on purpose) and colored on the wall and cut a hole in Opal’s pack & Play (sort of on purpose).

Alice runs into things and doesn’t recognize how rough she is being. She colors on herself every time she is close to a marker or paint. At least weekly, most of the time daily, I find bruises and scratches that we have no idea how they got there. She frequently runs into walls, doors, bookshelves, Opal’s baby bed (and wakes her up). She falls off the bed, down the stairs, and out of the car. She spins until she sends herself into an asthma attack and screams at the top of her lungs when she is upset.

It is tough for me because many times I know they don’t realize they are doing these things or why they are doing them. I don’t think they should be punished for doing things they don’t realize they are doing. I know there isn’t malice in their doing. But it is so frustrating! And it is hard to parent. All we can do is continue teaching them to recognize and learn.

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What we are doing

We were in OT for about a year to learn techniques to cope with some issues. We are working to incorporate more sensory activities into our daily lives. It has been a challenge for us for sure. We have added Yoga and breathing. We also have tried to up her sensory diet because it helps. This means that we incorporate movements, activity, and physical exertion into daily life. We also make a point to include playdough, kenetic sand, and water play so they can experience textiles and manipulation.

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Hey that sounds like us

If you are thinking that this sounds like your family and you want to know about SPD, here is a basic symptom checklist

https://www.spdstar.org/basic/symptoms-checklist


 

If you want to join our FREE 5-day Challenge Click Here

Our 5-day challenge will start on May 20th. Each day you will get an email with a simple activity to try with your kids

Education · Family · Society

Make a difference in someone’s life today

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A few months ago I decided that I needed to set an example for my kids of the type of person I want them to be. I want them to be the type of person that helps human beings. I want them to be empathetic, compassionate, and kind. I want them to care about human life, even if they don’t know the person. I want to be that person too.

My first step was to register as a donor of Be The Match

Be The Match matches donors and patients with life-threatening blood cancers. Bone marrow of the donor can save that patient’s life.

So, I sent away for my kit (see picture above). The process is easy. Stab your cheek and stick on the car. Then send it back. That is it

This week I received my donor card in the mail. This means I am officially registered. When a patient needs marrow, they will be screened and matched.

For information on the donation process click here

I have no idea if I will ever be matched. But even if I am not, I want to show my children that I am willing to help those that I do not know. If you are able to do something for someone you should. I would hope for the kindness of strangers if I or one of my kids needed it. I don’t want to wait until we need something to get involved. I want to pay it forward. Compassion and understanding create a better community for our children to grow up in.

For more information or to register as a donor yourself head on over to https://bethematch.org

Family · Household · Preschool · Toddlerhood

The Reasons Why We Love Celebrating

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Have you appreciated a dragon yet?

It’s the end of January now, and many people are still feeling that holiday letdown. The excitement of the end of the year holidays gets us into overdrive. Then January second hits and the breaks are on. My kids felt it too.

Tempest would ask me “what day is today?”

When I answered “Tuesday” I could tell she was disappointed.

That is because what she meant was “what are we celebrating?”

This is when we decided to make celebrating part of our everyday lives, all year long. We have done so, by embracing the craziness, the silliness, and the all-out lavish holidays the internet has to offer.

There is a holiday out there for every day of the year. Some aren’t so suited for kids. My kids don’t get excited about Clean out your computer Day (Feb 12th). and every day for them is Work Naked Day (Feb 1st). But they do find joy in Eat Ice Cream For Breakfast Day (Feb 3rd).

Here are some of the Holidays we have celebrated lately:

Appreciate A Dragon Day

 

Bubble Bath Day

 

National Popcorn Day

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How We Make it Special:

Most of these holidays we don’t go over the top with. I might make something special for a meal. National popcorn day we had Popcorn chicken from KFC and White chocolate covered popcorn with sprinkles (Known as Party popcorn in this house).

Here are some of the things I think about when looking at holidays

  • Menu
    • What do I need from the store?
    • What can I make into something fun? (Such as dragon eggs for Dragon Day)
  • Coloring Pages
  • Is there an activity involved? (Like taking a bath for Bubblebath Day)
  • Are we going to go somewhere?
  • Should I buy toys or things from the store?
    • My favorite things for an inexpensive celebration
      • Silly String
      • Glow Sticks
      • Party Hats
      • Hit up the party section, there are a ton of little additions. You’ll spend a dollar, your kids will think you are the coolest

Ready for Your Own Fun?

Click below to get FREE access to our Holiday Calendar and see what is coming up that you can celebrate

https://app.convertkit.com/landing_pages/331325?v=6

Family · Mom Life · Pregnancy

What makes you a good mom?

 

As many of you know I have been suffering from lots of contractions this pregnancy. So far they are just annoying and not producing labor. But they are very painful and very exhausting. And to try to combat them I have spent a lot of time in bed. Because of this, my girls have been pretty much living off squeezy pouches and easy to grab foods, especially for breakfast.

But today I want to celebrate the little things. It’s easy to feel like a bad mom. I know I have, especially in the last month. It’s easy to pinpoint all the things that we could be doing better and how every misbehavior from our children is our faults. What isn’t so easy is to acknowledge what makes you a good mom. It isn’t easy to remember we are all trying, and the fact that we feel so much guilt and anxiety to be the perfect parent probably means we are fantastic parents.

So, today I would like to celebrate that I got up and made my little girls breakfast, even if it was chocolate chip pancakes and yogurt. I want to celebrate that I vacuumed the floor and my girls got to play “oh no, it’s a monster”. I want to celebrate that I might not be the perfect mom or the mom I want to be, but I am a good mom.

What do you want to celebrate?

Family · Mom Life

Things I Let My Second Child Do That I’d Never Let My First Do

Note from Paige: This post is a guest post written by someone other than me. From Time to time I want to be able to feature other wonderful parents and their stories.

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Rachel Bowman writes at Just Getting Things Done, a website for working moms that want to get their life back on track even if they barely have the energy to make it through the day. She has two little girls, ages 1 and 3, works a day job and spends weekend nap times hanging out in the backyard with her
husband.

 

When you have your first child there’s a lot of uncertainty. What will labor be like? Will I make it through the birth? What kind of parent will I be? Will my baby be big or small? Smart or not-so-smart? Cute or (heaven forbid) ugly?

All these uncertainties will be there to some degree the second time around. But by the time you have your second, you know what parenting is like for you. You will have realized there are some things you can’t control (like your child). Whether your baby will be a girl or boy, what he or she will look like, what kind of personality they will have.

You will have also learned to pick your battles. Once you get to the toddler years with your first, you are well-versed in picking your battles. I think that’s why we treat our second children differently. From the get-go, we let go of those things we can’t control and we already know which battles are not worth it.

I have two girls. My second daughter turned one in mid-April. My first daughter is 3. They are almost exactly two years apart. So we had some experience with the toddler years by the time our youngest was crawling and walking. There are a lot of things I let my second daughter do that I’d never let my first:

Drink the water at a hotel pool.

I don’t mean accidentally swallow a little bit. I mean she was scooping water with her hand and lapping it up like a puppy.

Eat yogurt with a spoon by herself.

Which of course resulted in her smearing it all over her face. I didn’t even get mad about it. I couldn’t because I knew it would happen. Actually, it was pretty funny.

Eat playdough.

Not on purpose. I tell her not to, but I left her alone with it for a minute when I was on the phone with my mom while cooking dinner and watching both girls. Thankfully she did not eat half the container (like I thought at first), just a bite.

Put sidewalk chalk in her mouth.

We tell her not to, and say “No” when she does. But that doesn’t really stop her from doing it. Eventually we have to walk over and take it away.

Walk on the patio pavers without holding her hands.

I still have this fear that she’s going to fall and crack her head open, but I let her walk around in the backyard without clinging to her every second.

Climb the stairs by herself.

We let her climb the stairs by herself as long as we’re right there watching and able to catch her if she did fall. Or at least we think we’d be able to catch her.

Skip brushing teeth.

By this I mean she has never brushed her teeth. I think she gets away with this one because she doesn’t really have any teeth. She only has four. But we added toothbrushing to the bedtime routine as soon as our first was weaned.

Go to daycare as an infant.

We had a nanny for 6 months after I went back to work with our first. When we toured daycares the first time it made me a little sad to see babies just laying on the floor. Our second went to daycare at 3 ½ months.

Leave the house without backups of everything.

The first time we took her to the doctor after she was born we didn’t even bring a diaper with us. We started just stocking them in the car to make sure we had backups.

Eat food off the floor.

What’s the point in trying to stop that? We just admit it’s going to happen.

Pick up teething rings off the ground and put them in her mouth – This one is from my husband. He said we would rinse them off for our oldest. I don’t remember that.

Wander around the house without direct supervision.

We don’t let her go downstairs since, you know, she doesn’t know how to go down stairs. But we pretty much let her wander at will.

Play outside without hovering.

She gets to explore our backyard way more than our older daughter ever did. Yes, this means she falls down sometimes, but it’s in the grass.

 

I have a feeling we’ll just keep adding to this list the older our girls get. I think it’s just the way things go. Like I said, with your first you figure out which battles are worth it. With your second you don’t waste your breath on things that aren’t worth it.

Our younger daughter is definitely independent, which may be a result of all those things we let her do. I’m not sure yet if that’s good or bad. When she doesn’t get her way she screams and pitches a huge fit. I’m hoping she grows out of that. And who knows, maybe by the time we have our third we’ll really have this parenting thing down?