1.31.2012

Love These Custom Books

A friend told me about this website and I am so excited about it! They make custom books for kids that will help them get through a major life event; new baby, new school, big kid bed, etc.... They also have them for babies to recognize the people who love them, to learn body parts, to get through mommy leaving and so many more. They enlisted child experts to help them write the stories in these books and they are darling. Check it out here: www.twigtale.com. I wish I would have ordered one for the girls before Milly was born, it has been a major "unknown" for Izzy especially. You can see samples on the book pages (here is the sibling sample). I actually wish I had one of each- it is an awesome idea. My girls love to see pictures of themselves in books and to read their names in stories. I am excited to order one for Ellie to go to Kindergarten, she will be much more successful if she has all of the information up front. I will most likely need the moving book as well soon, which will be awesome to prepare them for that! Make sure to check them out, you will love these! 

1.30.2012

Recipe Monday: Slow-Cooker Open Face Pulled Pork (or beef) Sandwich

Dinnertime at our house seems to be the crazy time of day- I am tired, the girls wake up between 4pm and 5pm and usually want to snuggle or hang out, Milly usually needs to be fed then has a lot of wake time, etc... so dinner is usually not fun for me. Dave has been working late most nights, so it is a choice- ignore the kids and cook or throw on something easy like hummus and crackers...again. When my Real Simple magazine came in the mail and had several yummy slow cooker recipes, I decided to at least try one "out of my box" recipe per week. I buy the groceries on Saturday (or send Dave) and then cook it Saturday night or Sunday night (while Dave has the kids entertained). I am having so much fun with it. I have never really used a slow cooker but it is awesome to throw stuff in the pot in the mornings and have dinner done whenever we are ready. And there are great left-overs! So, I am going to start a new "series" on here: Recipe Mondays! If I like one, I will put it on here for you to enjoy! I have a picky family, so I assure you the recipe has to be good to be successful around here! Here is the first one from Real Simple:



Slow-Cooker Open-Face Pulled-Pork Sandwiches With Tangy Broccoli Slaw

Serves 4Hands-On Time: 15m Total Time: 8hr 15m

Ingredients

  • medium red onion, sliced
  • 8 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 12-ounce package broccoli slaw (4 cups)
  • medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1 1/2 pounds pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into 2 pieces
  • (JM NOTE: I used Lean Beef- just ask the butcher if you want to switch)
  • thick slices sandwich bread, toasted (JM NOTE: We used Whole Wheat Buns)

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together the red onion, 4 tablespoons of the vinegar, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 3 days.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the sour cream, mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons of the remaining vinegar, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Fold in the broccoli slaw and refrigerate for up to 12 hours.
  3. In a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker, mix together the yellow onion, tomato paste, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, Cajun seasoning, the remaining 2 tablespoons of vinegar, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Add the pork and turn to coat.
  4. Cover and cook until the pork is very tender, on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours (this will shorten total recipe time). Using 2 forks, shred the pork and mix it into the cooking liquid. Serve the pork and onions on the toast with the broccoli slaw.

1.28.2012

Who's the Boss?

I am a little nervous to post this, it is something I wrote last summer and for some reason it makes me feel a bit venerable- mainly because I am a sinful human and I never want anyone to look at me in the parking lot as my kids are running and being disobedient and I lose my cool and say- "sure, she follows this advice"- or think I am a hypocrite! SO, I need you to know I do not follow this every day, I wish I did, a lot of days I am in a complete kid-induced funk and no more follow this than anyone. This is my goal- to lead each day with this mind set. I am the farthest from perfect, but if this helps any of you with a "plan" for mothering your family then I am blessed to share it. It is not meant to be controversial at all, this is just how I view my "job"- take it or leave it! XO

As a mom, I get the question all the time, “Do you work or are you a stay at home mom?” I usually simply say that I stay at home and move on to the next topic of conversation. However, I am usually left with the feeling that the person asking the question is asking for more, like, “dont you do anything else”? I find it so disheartening that when I talk to moms, who primarily stay at home with their children, I get the feeling that moms feel like they have to do ‘something’ else, simply being a mom is not “career” enough . Please hear me say, I have so much respect for women who go to work and can raise and nurture a family as well.  I also have the upmost respect for the single mothers who manage to support their children in every way and are the mother and father in the home. I simply have a personal passion and a heart for those moms who have chosen and are able to stay at home with their children and who feel like that isn't good enough. This has nothing to do with the parents who have chosen a different landscape for their families, God has called you to raise your children and God bless you as you follow His plan for your life and your families! For those of you who are stay-at-home moms, I hope that you will find encouragement in this plan for parenting! 
I believe, that making the choice to stay at home and parent our children is one of the toughest decision a mother has to make. Besides the financial issues of losing a pay check or paying for day care or a nanny, there is a self worth issue that we rarely talk about. It seems like everywhere I go someone is eager to give me advice, a strange look when my child is crying, a critical remark when my child is not being friendly or a “your just a mom” comment when asked what I do professionally. I have even had someone tell me their wife is “too hard of a worker to stay home” implying that I am a, what? 
Until you are a mom you cannot possibly understand the day-to day JOB that is being a mom. I have worked at The White House, I have worked in New York City helping to plan a national political convention, I planned events for a  large DC event and PR firm and held numerous other jobs along the way- but I have never been more challenged or worked as hard as I do as a mom. That being said, I have never been more honored or blessed that the God of the Universe has chosen me to raise His children and allowed me to stay at home with them and be a part of every moment in their lives. Somedays, I would love to go back to the work place and have people tell me when I do a good job, when I wear a cute outfit, get to hear interesting stories about coworkers, go to yummy lunches, have people give me fun tickets to things, get promotions and pay raises, etc...however going back to work for a month when my firstborn was 8 months old taught me that there is no way that I want to miss a single day with my kids and there is no one that will love my kids or train them up in the way God has called me to train them. So instead of saying, “Boohoo I am a mom and all I do is take care of my kids all day, clean, laundry, take care of my husband, pay bills, etc...” I have decided to view motherhood as an extremely important job. Guess who our boss is? God himself, the creator of the Universe! God has called us to train up our children, to teach them about Him, to nurture them, to serve them, to educate them, to encourage them, to discipline them and so much more. I believe if we start our day and view being a mom as a job, we will find much joy and purpose in what we do all day. 
For most of us, when we have a job, there is always a boss, even if you own your own business your boss would probably be the customer or someone you are trying to please. For most people in the work place, they find great joy when they go the extra mile and do things to make the “boss” happy. Most people spend their entire time at work doing projects and aiming to ultimately please their boss. When you realize, as a mom, that the God of the Universe is your “boss” and you work throughout the day as if to please your “boss” you will absolutely be a better wife, mother, daughter, etc... God leads by example and he gave us Jesus to teach us how to live our lives. The primary theme in the leadership Jesus showed us is service.  Ephesians 6:7 says, “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men”. If we start to rethink who we are trying to please when we are mothering our children and serve others as if we are serving the Lord, NOT MEN, suddenly it does not matter what other people think of our parenting, and it only matters what our “boss” thinks about the job we are doing. This mindset will effect everything we do as moms. God sees when we go the extra mile to keep a clean home, he sees when we stay up late to clean an outfit that our kids need for the next day, he sees when we put our computer or cell phone away and read a book to our children, he sees when we take extra time to make a special meal for our husbands, he sees all that we do and he is delighted! What an honor that our creator and savior looks at the way we serve our family and finds joy in the job that we do!
As with a job, I try to set goals or “tasks” for my day at the start of the day such as having a quiet time, exercising, grocery shopping, cleaning, laundry, etc...whatever the goals are, I try to have a rough schedule from the beginning of the day before any chaos takes over! I might not stick to my schedule exactly, but at least I have a goal. When we get up to go to work, we get ourselves dressed for the day. Whatever activity (or lack there of) you have planned for the day, dress for it in the morning. I find that when I hang around in my sleep ware, with no make up, no shower, etc...all day, I am not as productive as I could be and I just dont feel good about myself.
Two of the most enjoyable or the most challenging aspects with most jobs are coworkers and outside activities. Your job in the workplace and at home is so much more enjoyable if you are surrounded with awesome coworkers who will support you and encourage you daily. In our job as “mom” it is so important to nurture relationships and surround yourself with wonderful “coworkers” who will relate to you and support you. In this job, we have been given an amazing gift that we can choose our “coworkers” and the Lord provides so many people in different “departments” that can support us in our job! I would encourage you to ask the Lord to “hire” as many department leaders as possible; a mentor, girlfriends, family members, godparents, church leaders, bible study group members, nursery helpers, teachers, etc... What a gift that we dont have to walk through life alone! It is an honor and blessing to watch others love your child and to feel the love of Christ displayed by your “coworkers” for your children to see and learn from! Often times when we are working in a job, it is hard to find balance between work and outside activities. In the same way, it is hard as a mom to have a life outside our children. In both situations, to have a life outside of the “job” makes you a healthier and more productive worker. I feel so refreshed after a few hours of my kids being at Moms Day Out, when I can go do something I love to do and be able to do it in PEACE! Your outside activity could be a part time job you are passionate about, playing a sport, exercising, shopping, reading, joining a bible study, a moms group or anything that allows you to refresh your mind and refocus on the task at hand; passionately raising your children! 
One of the greatest challenges as a parent is discipline. Yes, we are called to serve our children but we are also called to “train” them.  Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” I believe that training a child should be our job description. Yes, I am a “stay-at-home mom” but I am also a ‘child trainer’. In everything we do whether it is at home playing, eating a meal or running errands, we have the unique opportunity to train a child in the way they should go. We have been given a huge responsibility to teach our children values, manners, integrity, honesty, obedience, self respect and respect for others, modesty, self control, respect for authority, healthy eating habits, exercise habits, service, education, the value and responsibility of money, joy, patience, love, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, there are so many more things we train our child to do on a daily basis but the most important and all encompassing lesson we can teach our children is who God is and what His word says about how we should live our lives.  Can you think of another job description with that many responsibilities? Mothering is not for the weak or the lazy, it is a high calling given by God himself to fight for our children and train them to be healthy, happy followers of our Lord and Savior and to contribute to our world in a way that pleases God himself! Jesus was no push over, he was the most loving and serving human being to ever live, but when he felt something was wrong or didn't agree with something, he was radical in his response! He threw the merchants out of the temple, he constantly called people out on their sins, because he cared for their hearts and followed his Fathers plan no matter the cost.  
The final aspect of your job that is the most important to remember, you would never go through the day at work without communicating with your boss. The good news about our boss, Jesus, is that we can go to him all day long with every little question or need, he is always available for us and always has our best interest in mind. He loves our kids more than we do, he is our creator and knows EVERYTHING! What an amazing boss to have! He is never wrong, never unfair, never selfish; He is the perfect boss, savior and friend. He wants to have a relationship with us and He wants to reveal himself to us through His word and His spirit. I try to view my quiet time with God as my daily “staff meeting” with the boss. Think about the work place, if you have a daily time set aside for your boss, you rarely miss that meeting. There might be days when you have to “call in sick” but the majority of the time, you are there for your meeting with your boss rain or shine. I believe that no matter what phase of life your child(ren) is in, there is 15 minutes in that day you can set aside (and preschedule) for a meeting with your ‘boss’. 
I have never felt more blessed than I do at this phase of life, yes there are bad days and I am far from perfect as a mother. However, my boss is quick to forgive and allows me to start each day fresh. Psalm 118:24 says, “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” We get to take one day at a time, THIS is the day.  
What a privilege that God has called us to be mothers, and what a blessing that he allows us to stay at home with them and train them up in His truths! Lets take our job seriously and fight for our children. In a world that is encouraging all the wrong ideas, parents need to be more involved in the minute-by-minute than ever. I encourage you to be the employee of the month every month when it comes to loving, caring and training your children. John 16:33 says, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." We have the king of the universe on our side and he is the only one we have to answer to, there is NOTHING He cant get us through or that he hasn't already overcome. 
So, to those who give me looks at the store or make judgmental comments, I say to you; The King of Kings and Lord of Lords is delighted with me and my children and nothing you can say or do will put me in bad terms with my boss! There is no job on the planet I would rather have than this one! 
God bless you!
Jenica
Proverbs 31:28  Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her
Hebrews 12:10-12 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.

1.26.2012

New Baby: Notes from Month One and Two

I thought I would write down a few notes from each month (or two) with Milly- hopefully it will help new moms/moms-to-be sort things out. It is simply my opinion, every baby is different and every mom is different. I am just reminded of so many things with a new baby that I forgot from my older girls so I am documenting my random thoughts for you! I do have the baby supply list, which I looked at and thought: surely everything on this list isn't "essential"- but I am quickly reminded that I do still love all of those things on that list with a new baby! Here is the list. newly updated!
Month One Random Information:
1. You can never completely prepare for child birth- ditch that birthing plan or at least know that it is not going to go perfectly!
2. Wipe Warmers really are delightful- they sound ridiculous, but at 4am when you are trying to keep your sleeping baby...sleeping, it is wonderful!
3. I still love my Bugaboo for the bassinet feature- she can really stretch out and sleep when we are out for long periods. That being said- I now have 4 strollers I actively use- the Double stroller (LOVE the Bob), the Bugaboo, the umbrella stroller for travel (when they get older), and the "Click" stroller I can throw the car seat in while taking the kids to school- it really is extreme!
4. Amazon.com is amazing for diapers- free 2-day shipping, great prices, free return shipping and they come to your door. On the diaper note- don't buy too many of any size- Milly is already on size 2 which means she has gone through newborn size and size 1. One box at a time!!
5. Go easy on the newborn and 0-3 month clothing- she is already on 3-6 month clothing. And buy 3-6 month or 6-9 month fancy clothing- she really only wears footed Pj's (I assume summer babies would be in onesies) two piece clothing is really awkward for feeding and holding since they are so wiggly and socks don't stay on- so footed Pj's are delightful!
5. If I was on baby #1 and was going to do formula I would be obsessed with this: Beaba Bib Expresso 3 in 1 Baby Bottle and Food Warmer it mixes and warms your bottle in one machine- so fun!
6. I still "love" (and hate at the same time) my Medela Pump in Style breast pump- pumping is my least favorite activity- however it is necessary so this makes it easy. I was freaked out about borrowing or buying one from a friend- or renting- however if you have the option to take one from someone else- do it and buy all new parts- the machine itself is the expensive part and the parts are what you want shiny and new.
7. With all three of my girls I have moved them to their crib in their room at 1 month, my advice to new moms- IF POSSIBLE- move that baby out of your room as soon as you can- you will sleep so much better and so will they. I believe at some point if you keep getting them up at the first peep it will condition them to wake up and eat at night. When they are not in the room next to me, I am less likely to get them up in a sleep induced trance, I can wait until they are truly awake and ready to eat not just making sleep noises. (I know it is a little emotional to move them out- but you won't be sorry!)
8. Febreze trash bags are amazing for diaper pails- worth every penny!
9. Finally, I am reminded how AMAZING it is to have a newborn baby- yes, you are tired and sore, but there is nothing better- snuggling with your own baby is like nothing else! Each time I think, surely I won't be able to love this one like the others, I dread the lockdown of a newborn- the naps, feeding, up all night- but when that baby is in your arms- it is worth every bit of it! Just an encouragement to new moms- you might be a touch nervous (as I was), but there is nothing better!

Ok- that is what I have for month 1 &2! Also, I updated the baby supply list (to the right) if you know of someone having a baby or are having one yourself- check it out!


1.23.2012

Rock-a-bye Baby: Naptime!


NAPS: 
It seems like everyone I talk to is frustrated with their children's naps- or lack there of. When I tell people that my 5-year-old takes a 2 hour nap, at the same time that my 3-year-old takes a 2 hour nap and now my 8-week-old takes a 1.5 hour nap at the same time as well- they seem to comment how "lucky" I am. Yes, I am blessed with good sleepers (I prayed a lot for good sleepers!) however, I have worked REALLY hard to get them to abide by this schedule and with a little effort you can have napping angels as well! I read the article at the bottom of this post and have seen enough studies to know that kids need naps- and to be honest, moms need kids to nap too! I don't know what I would do without my "break"- I can sleep, do bible study, read, prepare dinner, laundry- you name it- it happens between 2pm and 4pm. There are several nap phases with children, I believe. Here is my synopsis:
Phase 1: (0-13 weeks) I generally (very loosely) follow Baby Wise and with that plan they eat then are awake for 1.5 hours, asleep for 1.5 hours; therefore there are several naps throughout the day and usually they are happy to be napping! 
Phase 2: (13 weeks-1 year)  The move to a 4 hour schedule- so they are awake for 2 hours then asleep for 2 hours. This is where I start to manipulate their schedule according to what works for the family. I want my kids wake up time to be 8am, so I put them to bed at 8pm and then allow them to sleep until 8am when I feed them and start the 4 hour schedule: (NOTE: baby #3 might just have this schedule in the car between errands, I am prepared to be flexible!)
8am: wake
10am -12pm: nap #1
2pm-4pm: nap #2
8pm: bed
I always love that Baby Wise says: nap time starts when the parent says it starts and ends when the parent says it ends. There is a time during each sleep period when the baby is active, maybe even crying- if you pick them up at the first movement it will train them that they are in charge of waking and sleeping. I think this plays a huge role in the future of napping! Make sure to give them time to fall back asleep- my girls usually fall back asleep if given the chance. 
Phase 3: (1-2ish years- or as long as they are in a crib) Maintenance- I believe this phase is all about "training" the child to nap when the parent says it is time to nap- which is the time when their little bodies are ready for a nap. When you have a schedule, you have the confidence to know when they need that. Baby Wise points out that if your child wakes unhappy or crying, they have probably not received enough sleep and most of the time, they will fall back asleep if given the chance (i.e. leave them in there until you think they are ready- even if they cry a little bit or delay response) At some point in this phase, usually around 18 months, they drop the morning nap and are down to 1 nap a day= FREEDOM! You will love the one long nap a day, you can accomplish so much more outside the house! My girls were both sleepy in the mornings so it took a few weeks of keeping them up and pushing back the nap before they made in to 2pm (which is the time I chose for nap- you decide what time works for you).
Phase 4: (2ish-5 years) When they move into a "big kid bed" that is when the fun begins! Usually, if you have followed the above, they will stay in the bed whether it is a crib or not, until you say it is time to wake. However, when given the first taste of freedom it gets a touch challenging. This is where you have a choice- you can let them come out of the room and decide when nap time ends or you can train them to be obedient and stay in bed until their nap is complete. I will say, Ellie is one of the few kids who still naps in her pre-school class and she has been talking a lot about "skipping a nap" because she chats about it with her buddies at school. They all tell her they don't nap and she thinks that is a great idea- which means I need to "reinforce" the importance of nap time at our home (because she still needs one- some kids do not require it at 4/5, every child is different). Here is what works for me; I give the child a generous amount of time to fall asleep- if I hear them on the monitor or check on them and they are not sleeping- there is a consequence. In my opinion, you can go a number of ways here- the key is consistency and (sadly) it has to "hurt", meaning if your child sleeps with 8 items (as mine do) and you take away the baby at the end of the bed that they don't really care about- you will probably be unsuccessful- take the prize item the first time- for example the blankie- yes they will throw a fit, but I bet the next time all you will have to say is- "if you do not sleep, I will take X and you will not be getting it back until you can obey mommy and take a nap." At bedtime that night, you will have to remind them why they are not sleeping with that item and that when they obey mommy or daddy you are excited to give it back. What I really care about with my 5-year-old is that she is resting in her room from 2-3 and not waking her sister- who shares a room. I do not necessarly require sleep anymore, but most of the time she falls asleep because she is required to be in her bed, quietly resting. My 3-year-old needs to sleep, so I make sure she is sleeping at nap time or she will get a consequence. I have had to give further consequence when this becomes an obedience issue vs a sleep issue.

All of that being said, of course there are days when we skip naps or take naps at a different time to fit in our schedule. I believe you can start at any phase- it takes a full week or two to establish a new routine and the key is sticking to it. If you are firm and consistent at the start and the nap is "parent directed" not "child directed" you will have napping children! These are just my opinions, I am not a doctor or expert at all- we have issues just like everyone else! I realize I have only been doing this for 5 years and I have SO much to learn. This is simply what had worked for my family. Sleep is extremely important around here, so I have worked hard to maintain this wonderful daily routine! If it is not important to you- do whatever works for your home. That is the beauty of our "job" as parents- we get to decide what is important to us and how we want to enforce those important things in our home. God called YOU to raise your family, no one else has been called to parent your children, so do whatever you feel is best for your family! Hope this was helpful for those of you frustrated by naps- please feel free to email me or comment below if you have any questions about what I said above.

BabyCenter News

Missed naps could put children at risk for mood disorders

HealthDayThu, Jan 5, 2012 (HealthDay News) — Children who miss daytime naps may be at increased risk for mood disorders later in life, a new study indicates.
Researchers looked at children aged 30 months to 36 months and found that depriving them of a single daily nap resulted in more anxiety, lower levels of joy and interest, and reduced problem-solving abilities.
"Many young children today are not getting enough sleep, and for toddlers, daytime naps are one way of making sure their 'sleep tanks' are set to full each day," study leader Monique LeBourgeois, an assistant professor in the integrative physiology department at the University of Colorado, Boulder, said in a university news release.
"This study shows insufficient sleep in the form of missing a nap taxes the way toddlers express different feelings, and, over time, may shape their developing emotional brains and put them at risk for lifelong, mood-related problems," she explained.
The researchers videotaped the emotional expressions of toddlers while they worked on solvable and unsolvable picture puzzles on two different days. One day, the test was conducted an hour after the toddlers had their normal 90-minute daytime nap. On another day, the toddlers were deprived of their naps and tested an hour after their normal nap time.
When they were nap-deprived, the toddlers had a 34 percent decrease in positive emotional responses after completing the solvable puzzles, a 31 percent increase in negative emotional responses when they were unable to complete the unsolvable puzzles, and a 39 percent decrease in the expression of confusion when they tried to complete the unsolvable puzzles.
"Confusion is not bad -- it's a complex emotion showing a child knows something does not add up," LeBourgeois noted. "When well-slept toddlers experience confusion, they are more likely to elicit help from others, which is a positive, adaptive response indicating they are cognitively engaged with their world."
Overall, according to the release, the study shows that missing a daytime nap may make it more difficult for toddlers to take full advantage of exciting and interesting experiences and to adapt to new frustrations.
"Just like good nutrition, adequate sleep is a basic need that gives children the best chance of getting what is most important from the people and things they experience each day," LeBourgeois said.
The study appears online and in an upcoming print issue of the Journal of Sleep Research.

-- Robert Preidt

Copyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

http://www.babycenter.com/204_missed-naps-could-put-children-at-risk-for-mood-disorders_10361647.bc?scid=preschooler_20120110:4&pe=MlRSWXVpUnwyMDEyMDExMA..

*HERE ARE SOME ANSWERS TO SOME FAQ'S: LINK
**HERE IS SOME CLARIFICATION: LINK


***I have received a lot of traffic on this post recently- thanks for stopping by- please check out my blog and feel free to follow on Facebook or Twitter! I had to remove comments from this post- which just stinks- just when I start getting comments :) I just need to say to those of you who wish to comment negatively- I am not interested in hearing you tell me that this makes you sad and I do not want this to be a place of arguments or division- I have three of the happiest babies I know, I adore my children and I believe that teaching them self-control and allowing them to actually sleep is being the mother God called me to be. If this isn't for you, then please do not read it- I am sure you have a wonderful plan for raising your children and they are wonderful babies. I am simply sharing what worked for my three babies and what worked for ME- because when the mother is relaxed and thriving- so are the kids! God Bless you as you find what works for YOUR family! You know what would be so much more fun than arguing- what if moms join together and support each other and pray for one another and accept each other for the individuals God made us to be! 
Just in case you need to know- here are pics of my three babies at 6 months old- pretty sure none of them were starving by not feeding on demand (see rolls below!)- I nursed the first two for a year exclusive of any formula and the third is on month 9 with no formula- no starving children here!



1.22.2012

Generations!

I am so blessed that my girls get to know their great-grandmother. My mother's-mother is the only great-grandparent still living on either side of our family and I feel so blessed that my girls get to know her and love her. She recently gave us an amazing gift; I gave her one of my journals for Unborn Babies: PrayerWithPurpose: 90 Days of Prayer for Your Unborn Child (www.prayerwithpurpose.com) and she gave it back to me...COMPLETED! It was so wonderful to see the vision the Lord gave me of generations joining in prayer for an unborn child come to fruition. She journaled and prayed on every page and now Milly will have a completed prayer journal from her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother (we were blessed that my mom journaled through my pregnancy as well). What a treasure! I thought I would quickly tell you how I used the journals (while it is fresh on my mind)- however, the beauty of a journal is using it in whatever way works for YOU!
This journal is 90 days (1 trimester), the first 45 prayers and last 45 prayers are the same (day 1 and 46 are love and a healthy heart followed by scripture, room to journal and definitions). I used the first 45 days as a place to write my thoughts on the topic or scripture. I also documented what was happening with my pregnancy or life on those pages: when we found out the gender, chose the name, funny things the girls said about her or my pregnancy, and things that happened in our life during that time. I used the other 45 days for my written prayers to the Lord for her and my hopes and dreams for her based on the prayer that day. I documented the whole story at the hospital- her "birth story"- in the blank pages in the back of the book. I documented her footprint, her hospital "stats" and a picture in the back section designated for this information. Finally, I put all of the little "hospital papers" in the book and I wrapped a ribbon around the book so it is all ready to give her someday. I will put that book and the book from my mom and grandma in a little box and have it ready for the perfect time to give her this treasure. What a gift for a person to read the prayers and thoughts spoken over them in the womb- I am so excited to give it to her someday! I journal for the other girls as well in PrayerWithPurpose: Passionate Prayers for Children and I hope Grandma might write down her thoughts and prayers for the other girls as well so they will have this treasure also!


We were so blessed to have Grandma come up for Izzy's third birthday this past week, the kids adore her and I feel so blessed that they get to love and be loved by their great-grandma! Here are some pics- 

{All 6 of the Great-Grandchildren}
{Grandma and the Birthday girl!}

1.18.2012

Organize It!


My fabulous friend Amy told me about this wonderful idea to organize kids STUFF, and I asked her to write a post about it- so here you go! Thank you Amy, love it! 

If your household is anything like ours, it's full of energetic little kids who love to CREATE. That can be anything from painting, coloring, baking, sculpting, gluing or making dirt roads in the sand. Oh, how we wish we could keep all of these memories, however, the paper art alone could fill up our homes wall-to-wall if we don't do something about it.
I don't consider myself a keeper so throwing out some things is not too difficult. When my kids' keepsakes started taking over every room and drawer in my house I decided that I could not keep all of it. So I made a rule to toss 90% and only keep the stuff that makes my heart pitter patter or that represent milestones.
A couple years ago I saw this idea for keepsake boxes in a magazine. I finally set my mind to getting them done and found it amazingly fast and easy. Purchase a banker box (file box) and place folders inside for every year they are in school. For the things you want to keep just place them in the age appropriate folder. I don't necessarily want to keep the banker boxes out all the time so I just set aside their keepsakes for a while and then drop them in the appropriate folder when I need to.
Here's what you'll need to get started. I found everything at Staples.
  1. Bankers box
  2. Hanging folders (legal size)
  3. File folders (legal size)
Label the folders by printing labels or hand writing them. Label the boxes with your child's name.

I think these boxes will be great fun to go through as they grow up. And, when they have a home of their own someday, they can be passed on.
p.s. Not sure whether to keep or toss something? Snap a picture of it and you'll have it forever.

-Amy, Mom of 2, Texas

1.09.2012

Going Green!

I have been making a great smoothie lately (very kid and husband friendly)- inspired by a recipe my friend Ashley gave me- I, of course, tweaked it- although I know there are a million green smoothie recipes just like this! The way I see it, it has all of this going for it: Protein, Antioxidants, Probiotics, Fiber, vitamins and minerals- in one drink. See my info below for all of the benefits!
I use [these recipes] as the base for all smoothies- you can anything to them (veggies, peanut butter, protein powder, flaxseed, you name it!)

1. Plain, nonfat greek yogurt (I love Fage) (either 1 individual container or just spoon some in the bottom depending on how much you want to make)
2. 1 or 2 spoonfuls of ground flaxseed
3. Handful of spinach and/or kale (I get the bags of washed veggies so I can just rinse and dump it in- I of course like Trader Jo's bags- Collard Greens might be fun to add too!)
4. Frozen mango, blueberries and strawberries (or whatever fruit you like)
5. 1 banana
6. One part water and one part Orange juice (to cover all of the contents- apple juice is an option too)
Blend and enjoy!

I think the Vitamix blender is worth every penny, I use it for everything and it has lasted forever with no problems!

Here is some interesting information about the ingredients used!
1. Greek Yogurt: high in protein, high in calcium and great taste: read more here:
2. Benefits of Flaxseed: Great source of Omega 3's, Fiber and Lignans (protect against cancer)- I try to add Flaxseed to everything, it doesn't add any flavor so it is easy to add! Read more here (apparently our bodies process ground flaxseed better than whole flaxseeds- I like ground better because you can't taste it at all)
3. Kale: read about Kale there are so many vitamins and cancer-fighting antioxidants in Kale.
Spinach: read about Spinach, always listed as one of the healthiest foods if not the healthiest- it has it all!
4. We all know blueberries are at the top of the list for antioxidants, Strawberries are great for antioxidants too (and are yummy), Mango is rich in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals and so much more- we all know fruit is good for everything! (they say frozen fruit and veggies are as good if not better than fresh because they are frozen at the peak of ripeness with all of the vitamins and minerals in tact- and it is cheaper to buy frozen, so win-win!)
5. Bananas: we love the potassium (good for heart function and blood pressure) and they taste great (they also hide the veggie taste wonderfully for kids)!




Another Dump..Part 3!

I have so many random things to share, I have been a little tied up recently with baby Milly, so no time to update on here!
Here it goes:


1. One of my favorite Christmas gifts was the Clarisonic Mia- I truly think this is the most delightful beauty product of the moment! I did a lot of research and everyone said the Mia was the way to go instead of the big Clarisonic. Here is the link. I clearly love Phillips products, since their Sonicare toothbrush is my previous favorite product of all time! My skin feels delightful thanks to my new tool!
2. My mom and dad got the kids Kinect for XBox 360- I want to start by saying, I am not a fan of video games for the lazy factor, however the Kinect is an amazing product- if the girls are a little restless or pent up in the house durning these winter months, I can turn it on and they dance with Dora, or snow ski, you name it they are actively moving around getting the energy out and having a blast. I think it will only get more exciting as they get older and can really figure it out. Side Note: The Disneyland Adventure game is too old for my girls (5 and 3 yrs old), I was excited for them to see the princesses, etc.. but it is a little advanced.
3. I have two new favorite IPad/IPhone Apps: (see my previous favs here) a) Fancy Nancy dress up and books (thanks to my friend Katie for telling me) b) Dr. Seuss Band
4. I am so proud of my brother, his clothing line Baldwin is doing so great- Olivia Wilde was wearing his KC hat  recently and GQ did an article on his jeans being their new favorites! They really are great jeans- they have jeans for kids, men and women (and a full line of clothing for men). My favorites are "The L" which are so soft and delightful- (legging jeans). I actually love all of them! Ellie has the kids legging jeans and they are darling on her! Dave, who is oblivious to fashion, loves his Baldwin jeans and looks great in them (if I do say so myself!). If you are near KC, go see their new store at 119 (or the plaza store)- the new store is beautiful! You can also order online or check to see if there is a store near you who carries the line. www.baldwindenim.com 
5. I have a few new add-ons to my Trader Jo's list: check it here additions are at the bottom of the list
6. I love Tazo Zen Green Tea and Tazo Awake Black Tea- Starbucks uses them for their iced teas (which are amazing)- so I have been brewing them at home and putting them over ice- same thing as Starbucks! (great hot too)
7. Karen Kingsbury books are some of my favorites- they are entertaining and fun Christian fiction books- I am never disappointed. It you haven't read any- start with the Redemption Series- you won't be sorry! I did not read anything but magazines and started the first book in the redemption series and was hooked (and now really love to read). Her new series is a continuation of the family in the redemption series and the newest book just came out (the Bailey Flanigan series). I wish I would have read them earlier, they really are inspiring- like a fabulous Christian soap opera without all the trash of actual soaps! Check out her books here: http://www.karenkingsbury.com/books
8. Random note: recently I have been putting cucumber in my water to mix things up a bit- it is delightful (like a spa) and my girls like it too! We, of course, like cucumber in everything!


That is all for now, happy 2012! I am overwhelmed by the Lord's blessings and guidance in 2011- so many miracles, prayers answered (both yes and no- and I am grateful for both), lessons learned and wisdom received. It is good to be a daughter of the King and I cannot wait to see what He has in store for 2012!


If you missed the Dump: Part One and the Dump: Part Two make sure to check them out!

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