kids, Parenting

Today, I put it on God.

Today, I put it on God. I don’t say that lightly at all. Today, we were faced with so many questions as a family about where we are going— where we want to be. Personally. Professionally. Short term. Long term. I feel like so often, we’re told that being stressed, being overwhelmed, or unhappy is part of life— it’s what we now call “adulting.” I used to believe that. I used to think that I had to settle for that. But after having a child, my thought process has drastically changed. Do my husband and I need to work in order to provide for our family? Absolutely. I’m not saying I’m searching for the plush life of staying at home, living large, and not working. Instead, I’m telling you that maybe, just maybe, it’s about perspective.

Do we need to feel trapped in our jobs? Do we need to feel under-appreciated day in and day out? Do we need to sacrifice time with our family for others who wouldn’t blink an eye to do the same? While society tells me each day “Yes!” my head and heart are now screaming “No!”. No, I don’t need to settle for a job that looks at me as simply a number. No, I don’t need to settle for sacrificing hours of my time at home with my young family, to go above and beyond for someone else’s children. No, I don’t need to settle for a job that no longer makes me happy. I’m tired of the emptiness I’m feeling right now and stressing about this day in and day out. I don’t want to keep watching my husband struggle with the balance of wanting to provide a comfortable lifestyle for our family, while feeling stifled inside. Stuck. Unable to pursue his real dreams and goals.

Part of me knows that my mindset needs to change. I need to stop being sucked into the consumerism of today’s world. To stop worrying about the fleeting things of the physical world (the bigger house, the fancy car, the designer clothes) and instead focus on the gifts I’ve been given( my talents, my husband, my kids). It’s hard, but possible…with His help.

I wish that it was simple and that with a snap of my fingers all the stress of work would all go away. It won’t. So, instead, I’m putting it in God’s hands. Instead of complaining, I’m sending my stress, my worries, and my trust to him. Instead of thinking I’m in control, I’m leaning on him to show and provide a more balanced path for our family; to guide me to the path that he has perfectly paved for me. It may be hours, weeks, months, or years. I know he’ll provide. But for today, I put it all on God.

Philippians 4:6-7: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

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kids, Parenting

Product Review: Nonidoo Baby Milestone Blanket

*This post may contain affiliate links*

Every parent LOVES to capture their child’s milestones; their growth and all the new things they learn and do each new month of their life. One of the growing trends in parenting today is the use of a milestone blanket to make those photo shoots just a little bit easier!

If you’ve ever searched for a milestone blanket, then you know that there are A LOT on the market. It can be difficult to filter through all the products and to find one that you really love. In my search, I came across the Nonidoo Baby brand, which offers three different patterns. I loved that it was affordable ( under $15 and FREE shipping on Amazon!) so I thought I would give it a try. I picked the elephant pattern for our little man, but loved their flower and butterfly one for girls, too!

What first impressed me about this company is not only how quickly the package arrived, but how it was wrapped. The blanket comes inside a beautiful box and is wrapped and secured within the box with a silver ribbon. Thus, it would be great to add to a baby shower gift basket–no additional wrapping necessary and super affordable!

Upon opening the box, the first thing I noticed about the blanket was how soft it was– the blanket is made of a plush material– which I personally am obsessed with and ALL my blankets in our house are made of! Even after our photo shoot, my son was still grabbing his blanket to cuddle! Because of the material, you do need to make sure you smooth it out very well before utilizing it for your photo shoots, but once you do, I found that the material made my son a little more cooperative–he loved laying on it! ( or maybe it was just a REALLY good day for us :)) 

I also love that the blanket comes with so many accessories that help me to make the photos as custom as I’d like. Within the box, you are given two milestone marking hearts to outline the number on the blanket, 13 cards with letters and numbers that allow me to spell out my son’s name if I want to ( or a special accomplishment that month!), as well as cloud cards that can spell out days,weeks, months, years, or even teeth! I don’t have to take the addition steps of adding wording through an app on my phone before I post his pictures! I also  really loved the cute elephant design I chose, as it can be gender neutral, which is great for a momma who knows she will be adding to her family still or for the momma who is waiting to be surprised! Overall, I am VERY pleased with my purchase and love how my son’s pictures turn out when using this milestone blanket!

If you’re in the search for a milestone blanket or a gift for a new momma in your life, I highly recommend checking out the Nonidoo Baby milestone blanket. Right now, if you use promo code NOCHAOS20, it’s 20% off on Amazon! What a great deal!

kids, Parenting

The MIA Momma

In the past week, I have spent more time with or talking to my friends, than I had in the past two months combined. I have actually gotten out of the house regularly. I have worn jeans more days than I have worn leggings. Some of you reading this will think, “And your point is…”

I thought that, too. I thought I was doing great. I was enjoying my maternity leave time at home–the perfect excuse to stay in my sweatpants or leggings all day, throw my hair up in that messy bun, and conquer the craziness that is new mom life (really, just mom life in general.)  Afterall, having a new baby was the perfect reason for excuse after excuse of why I couldn’t leave the house that day– “Little man needs a nap,  he won’t take a bottle (well that’s an excuse AND reality!), we don’t have anyone who can watch him…” I found that the longer I was staying at home,the easier it was for me to make an excuse not to leave. The easier it was for me to become an MIA momma.

It took a few regular days of me getting out of the house this past week, actually following through with plans I had made with friends, to realize that I was beginning to fall off the grid. Is it nice to stay home and tackle that to-list? Yes. Is it nice to NOT have to get dressed up, blow-dry that hair and put on real clothes (only to have to change again later after you find yourself covered in spit-up)? Yes. Is it necessary to stay home sometimes in hopes that you can MAYBE get just a few minutes of rest while your child, who was up all night, rests? Yes.  But you know what I discovered this week? It is also extremely important to make time to continue to build on those momma friendships. Not just for you, but for your fellow mom friends.

As I sat across the room and across the table from my mom friends this past week, I realized how important it is to have a tribe of women who truly are there to support you–not to judge you, not to gossip later about you, not to further encourage your anger or frustrations, but to truly just listen, love, and support you. For four months, I hadn’t made that a priority. I hadn’t made an effort to really just talk AND listen. Sure, I responded to the group text messages and tried to be supportive from there, but it is profoundly different to truly be there with a person. Why? Because a text message doesn’t include the tone of despair that you can hear in a friend’s voice as they talk with you about a deeply emotional issue they’re processing at the moment. An emoji doesn’t show the pain hidden in your friend’s eyes–the pain only you, as her friend, can recognize. A GIF only hides your friend’s anxiety, the anxiety they feel every time that group message goes off and they’re left feeling like maybe they’re the only one in the group that’s struggling, that just can’t seem to get a handle on this parenting gig.

Parenting is hard. Balancing your marriage, the household, work, and your kids is hard. It is a 24/7, 7 days-a-week job. It is exhausting. But, this week, this MIA momma has been found. I was able to realize how crucial it is to not let your mom friendships go to the wayside as you navigate balancing it all, but to instead lean on them. Be willing to be vulnerable, to admit that you don’t have it all figured out, that you’re struggling with something right now, that you need help and advice, that you need your mom tribe. Suck it up and put on the jeans. Blow-dry the hair. Make the drive to your friend’s house or the coffee-house. Don’t make the “busy” excuses– because EVERY momma is busy. Instead, make time to be PRESENT with your friends.

It took me finally making those choices for me to realize that I needed that. I needed my friends to hear me out, to know my struggles, and to support me. And to my surprise, they needed that from me, as well.

I pray that each of you are able to find support in your momma friends like I have. That you find time–no, that you make time– to foster those relationships and to lean on them during the highs and lows that life throws you. This week, I  challenge you to make an effort to do so. Don’t allow yourself to become the MIA momma.

 

 

 

kids, Parenting

Momma on a Mission: Part 1

*This post may include affiliate posts.*

I have taught in the public classroom setting for the past eight years, for two reasons. One, it has always been a passion of mine. There is truly no greater joy than witnessing a child’s “lightbulb” moment. To watch them grow and develop, to get excited about learning. Secondly, to help provide for my family. While a teaching salary isn’t glorious, it has allowed our family to live comfortably combined with that of my husband’s salary.

At the end of December, my husband and I made the very difficult decision for me to extend my maternity leave to the end of the year. On one hand, I was ecstatic. For the four months I had already been at home with our sweet man, all I did was think about the moment that this would end. Instead of enjoying my days,  I found myself feeling like time was ticking away–staring me in the face for that dreaded day I would have to return. To know that that day was far away–almost 6 more months away, is now a relief. However, on the other hand, this OCD, always-has-a-plan momma was nervous and guilty about not bringing in that income to help our family this year. We had planned for four months without work, not a year.

Thus, I became a mom on a mission! The mission? Finding a way to help provide for my family, even in the smallest ways, but by doing so with something I was still PASSIONATE about. Thus begins my “Momma on a Mission” series, in which I will detail my journey to searching and trying-out some legitimate  “side hustles” that can help provide for your family, without taking away from the precious moments that have led to me wanting to stay home!

In my initial search for side-hustles, I was looking for something that I could feel passionate about, but that would also help out other moms similar to me. I stumbled upon an online children’s boutique, Mac & Mia, that were searching for online stylists. I thought, “Why not? I love shopping, especially shopping that is convenient and cute!” I applied online and worked through a few tasks for their application process, and was chosen to be a Mac & Mia Stylist for a trial period of one month.

So…what is Mac & Mia?

Mac and Mia is an online children’s website that connects parents with a number of unique, children’s boutiques. Parents fill out a quick style survey about what type of clothes and looks they prefer for their child, and then are connected with an online stylist.The stylist will use that information, as well as personal communication with you, to handpick 8-12 boutique pieces for your child.

When you request the box you’ll be charged a styling fee of $20 which is applied to the cost of your box if you keep 2 or more items. Once packed your box will arrive in 2-5 business days via UPS. You then have 5 days to try-on the items [in the comfort of your home!] and decide what you want to keep. If you keep everything you get 15% off! If you want to make returns, just put them in the prepaid UPS return envelope and once they’re received by our warehouse you will be charged only for the items you kept. Shopping done easily from your home, no crazy trips to the store and battles in the dressing rooms with your kiddos!

Okay, I know what you’re thinking…I don’t want to pay a monthly subscription fee or high prices for clothes that my child will outgrow! I thought the same thing when I started looking into this company. Yes, some of the items are on the higher priced-end, and lets’ be honest–I just took a year off from work and there is NO way I can spend crazy amounts of money for children’s clothes! That’s were completing the style survey and connecting with your stylist comes in handy–you can specify a price range you wish to stay in. Or, you can be like me and request some statement pieces that can be layered and styled with LOTS of different outfits, including pieces you already have in your child’s closet. One or two statement pieces can go a long way–allowing your child’s closet to be just a little more fabulous or unique than it was before, and so they don’t show up to the school program with the exact same outfit as three other kids in their class!

I’ll be straight with you–when I signed on to try this out, I was hesitant. But on Tuesday, we received our first Mac & Mia box filled with 12 items for Aubrey and they are AMAZING. When your box arrives, it will have an envelope inside with the price sheet for each item in your box, a pre-paid return envelope for the items you don’t want to keep,  as well as a fun surprise for the child the box was styled for– our box had paper dolls and clothes to dress them in!

As I unpacked the box, I noticed how nice the fabrics were for each item–super soft and high quality ( also, if you child has any time of sensory issues, this website also carries boutique styles that are tagless, etc!) The clothes were all super cute, but also HIGH quality. The fabrics are soft and the styles are trendy. Will I keep my whole box, probably not. But I fell in love with a lot of the items and was able to get my $20 stylist fee credited to my account by purchasing two items!

While I’m not sure if I will succeed in this momma’s mission to turn my Mac & Mia stylist role into a profitable side-hustle for my family, I do know that I have become a convinced customer and will repeat my business with them for some special pieces in the future for family pictures, vacations, and holidays. In fact, I’m requesting my second box, this time for my son, today!

Interested in trying it out? You can use the link below to get a $20 credit towards your first box–that’s like one or two FREE items!

Try Mac & Mia

kids, Parenting, Uncategorized

Top 5 at Home Indoor Activities for Kids

If you’re anything like me, winter can make it hard to stay active, especially for the little ones! The days of playing on the playground, running outside, and riding your bike are few and far between once winter arrives in Indiana. The cold and snow make it hard to motivate exercise and, as a parent, you start to have to get creative with ways to burn off some of that energy in your little ones!

The first big snow of this season, had me thinking of some of the best ways to help little ones have fun while burning off energy indoors.  While I am all about playing outside in the snow, let’s be honest–most of us spend more time prepping our kids to play outside in the white stuff than they actually do! Thus, I have compiled a few of our family’s favorite ways to sneak in exercise during these cold, winter days!

Top 5 at Home Indoor Winter Activities:

  1. Little Tikes Trampoline:

If you have a younger child at home, this is the BEST indoor toy. When we need to log some exercise minutes for school, or burn off some extra energy at home we pull this out! Our daughter loves to jump as she listens to music or watches tv, and I love that she is able to get exercise in without realizing she is! This trampoline’s hand folds up so it is easy to store as well. (Tip: If you don’t want to pay full price, look for these after Christmas to score $20-$30 off–that’s what I did last year!)

2. GoNoodle.com

This website is usually reserved and used as a part of the elementary teacher’s bag of tricks, but you can sign up for a free account, too! The website has a TON of interactive dances, songs, and workouts geared towards elementary aged students. We love to log-on to the website to get in a few coordinated dances. They also have yoga and meditation videos for students! It’s really fun to do as a family!

3.  Gotrovo Treasure Hunt Game

Our daughter has been really into scavenger or treasure hunts lately, ever since my husband sent us on one together for my birthday! We go this game for her for Christmas this year, in hopes to help us make them a little more fun and engaging. This game comes with a treasure surprise to place at the end of your hunt, as well as a treasure map that you can attach clues to! The box has pre-made clues, as well as the ability to make your own. This is a fun activity that allows your child to be active as they search through your house to find clues, but also is a great way to get them to think creatively to help solve the riddle clues! This game is great indoors, but we’re excited to use it outdoors once it gets warm, too!

4. Hopscotch

We received this awesome puzzle as a gift one year. While it’s great to use as a puzzle alone, especially for littles one due to its size, we also found that you could easily build it into a hopscotch course! We use it to build different combinations and then our daughter is able to jump, using different combinations. This is a great activity to increase a child’s balance, as they can use two feet, and then gradually increase to just one, crisscrossing, etc. Our daughter loves to do this with her dad, making it a fun game to see who can skip over pieces of the puzzle or have the fastest feet!

5. Indoor Obstacle Course

If you really want to get creative, you can build an in-home obstacle course with a few items you probably already have around the house and have been mentioned above! One cold day, we were looking for something a little different from our usual trampoline and hopscotch routine. My husband gathered our daughter’s scooter and hula hoop from the garage, as well as our trampoline and hopscotch indoor play items, and created an indoor obstacle course that she could complete inside our living room and hallway! She got really excited once we started timing her to see how fast she could go!

Items we used: jump rope, hula hoop, Pete the Cat giant foam puzzle (to build a hopscotch area)  trampoline, scooter

What indoor activities do you do with your kids to keep them active during the cold, winter months? Comment below and share your ideas!

Christmas

Countdown to Christmas

    *This post may contain affiliate links.*

If there’s one thing to know about me, it’s that I absolutely love Christmas. Now, I may be a little biased as it is also my birthday (though hitting the big 3-0 this year may begin to change my love a bit!) but there’s something about the music, lights, and story of selfless love that makes this time of year so special.

As a child, I LOVED to decorate for the holidays. Watching my dad bring storage tub after storage tub of holiday decorations up from the basement was so exciting! We’d spend the whole day and night as a family putting up decorations. I can still picture some of my favorite decorations and where we’d place them every year.

One of my most favorite decorations was our advent calendar. My sister and I would argue over who would get to move the Christmas teddy bear each morning to countdown to Christmas Eve. I moved that bear every year, up until the time when I graduated college and moved out into my own apartment. Three years ago, my mom surprised me by gifting this advent calendar to me. It was one of the most special gifts I have received.

This advent calendar now hangs in my home,and while I no longer move it every morning ( though to be honest, I still fight the urge to!), it has been fun to watch my step-daughter get just as excited to move that same teddy-bear each morning of December as I once did.

In addition to our family advent calendar, we also have two additional Christmas countdown traditions now–one for each of our children–thanks to my mom who understands my love for this holiday and this tradition.

Our daughter has a love for all things fancy, so this Christmas advent charm bracelet/ necklace combo is PERFECT for her! This is our second year with this advent calendar. The charms have been different each year and are so cute! Each morning she opens up a new charm to place on either a necklace or bracelet that comes with it. She loves showing off what charm she’s opened that day to her friends at school! If you have a little girl who loves to be “fancy”, hop on over to Amazon and order her this!

Our son is only three months, so while he can’t participate yet in this family tradition, we did receive a Melissa and Doug Christmas tree advent calendar for him to use as he grows up. This one is fun as it allows the child to decorate the Christmas tree with magnetic ornaments. Since her brother is still to young, our daughter has enjoyed “helping” her brother by putting on the ornaments to countdown to Christmas Day. She loves this calendar and it’s small and festive size allows it to easily fit into our Christmas decorations in our family room.

How does your family countdown to Christmas? What advent calendars do you/ your children have? Share ones you love in the comments!