It’s been one year and 3 weeks since I brought my youngest baby home from the hospital, and today is a day that will forever be important to me. June 10th was not only my due date, but it is also ICP Awareness Day. A day to raise awareness for a condition that I didn’t know existed until 2015. A condition that made my pregnancy excruciatingly painful, imminently dangerous, and terrifying.
Mother’s Day is this coming weekend, and I am thrilled and honored to be partnering with Linqia and Gerber Brand to share an “It’s all worth it” moment with you! Gerber is the brand I trust most as I raise four little Gerber babies of my own – and I love that I am now able to partner with such an amazing company to share this heartfelt message on a weekend that means so much to me – as a mom.
One of my favorite traditions with my children is celebrating their “zero” birthday in the hospital. The baby may be oblivious to the celebration – but older siblings have an incredible amount of fun with this welcome party! I got the inspiration for this from Pinterest and put my own spin on it.
While perusing Pinterest I saw an adorable pic of a newborn and a cupcake with a zero candle – and I wanted that photo! Weeks before baby was due, I went to the bakery and found the perfect cupcake, which I placed in the freezer. When I packed my hospital bag, I also had a checklist of the last minute things that would need to be grabbed, like phone chargers and my cupcake! Then I bought a zero birthday candle and used some puffy paint and glitter to dazzle it up a bit (tutorial is coming soon!). The candle went into my hospital bag. That was the end of the Pinterest idea… but not for me.Cupcakes and gifts make meeting the new baby extra special! #EveryMomDay Click To Tweet
I have also read about giving sibling gifts to the big brothers/sisters, and so I decided I would not just have a cute cupcake for a photo-op, I would have a BIRTHDAY PARTY! “The baby” brought her big sisters 3 gifts each: a movie, a game, and an activity book – all things that they could use and enjoy while visiting their new baby at the hospital, so they would not get bored! And we let each girl pick out two gifts to bring the baby, too. It took a little extra prepping, but not much! We kept the gifts in a black garbage bag in the car – so the kids would not see them, and Dad ran out to the car after baby was born and before visitors arrived, to set up for the “party!”
Celebrate Baby's Zero Birthday with older siblings! #EveryMomDay Click To Tweet
It made the day extra special for the kids. They got a new baby, and we celebrated with a party where everyone got to open presents and enjoy cake. The kids loved it, and I loved watching them enjoy it. It’s a tradition we enjoyed with baby number 4 as well – and now that we are done having children myself, I hope to share the idea with other mommy’s to be!
How did you celebrate a new baby with older siblings?
My state Primaries are coming up this week and I will exercise my right to vote, but only when my 4 children are accompanying me.
Voting has always been a topic I feel strongly on. It is the way in which our nation allows every eligible citizen the ability to influence government decision making. From the time my first child was born, I always tote them along with me because I believe it is important for them to see me participate in the voting process and learn about it first hand. We talk about it throughout the experience: why we vote… why it’s important. It is my job to shape these children into model citizens, and I personally place a high value on the importance of exercising your right to vote. I don’t value the local elections less than the Presidency, however my children are very familiar with the President and so this year should be a very educational year.Bring your kids with you to #vote - teach them how important it is! #Election2016 Click To Tweet
I want my children to learn about the voting process beginning with the importance of educating themselves about the candidates objectively. Even at a young age, I enjoy listening to who they would choose to vote for, and the explanation as to why they made the choice that they did. I want them to watch some of the debates and campaigns – but I want that to happen without having to worry about the participants acting like toddlers fighting over a green sippy cup, and I don’t want to worry that “The Hunger Games” may erupt at anytime.
There has always been mudslinging – and I have always wished that the candidates and the media would place more focus on what makes them the best candidate without putting other candidates down. When you interview for a job you arrive prepared to discuss your accomplishments, not to trash talk the other prospective candidates. I understand the need for debates – however there should be a higher focus placed on positive self-promotion than discussing your opponent negatively.
This year though – things are different. There is violence, fear, and ugliness unlike campaigns I remember in my lifetime. Issues aside & candidates aside… I am finding it difficult to expose my children to to the Presidential Campaign this year. Considering how interested my 8 year old is in current events, this truly is a shame.Make the Presidential elections more family-friendly! #Election2016 Click To Tweet
I asked my 8 year old about the qualities she would find favorable and unfavorable in a presidential candidate and these were her answers:
I can not say with certainty that she would be able to apply her current standard to ANY of the current candidates, and I believe many Americans feel the same way about the candidates this year. We should not be voting for the lesser of the evils (something I have heard frequently). We should be nominating the best of the best.
It all makes me wonder: How can we raise our children to be the kindness in the world when our nations (potential) leaders are so cruel? How many children, at one point or another, aspire to be the President of the United States when they grow up? I can remember walking through the hallways of my middle school, thinking how neat it would be to be the first woman President. (Back then, I thought it would have happened by the time I was old enough, lol) My kids think the President is “so cool.” And as the leader of our nation, the President should be a strong and capable leader, which should not include instigating violence, name-calling, assigning blame, and putting others down.
We are quick to demand zero-tolerance policies towards bullies in school – yet our election processes reward bullies with Presidential nominations. I have not heard any of the candidates asking citizens to calm down or act rationally. The politicians just keep adding fuel to the fires. It’s a contradiction that my child will not understand, and to be honest, I don’t know how to explain it to her.Bullying: Why the double standard?! #Election2016 Click To Tweet
My husband reviewed a portion of this post and mentioned that it was reading very “Anti-Trump” and believe me, it is NOT meant to be. While most of the media coverage does seem to focus on concerns within the Trump campaign, this is by no means an issue unique to Trump, Trump-protesters, or any specific political party. I am not trying to start a political debate – because my concerns and questions are on a much deeper level.
The stereotypes we accept as “normal” for politicians are shameful – especially considering the extent to which our children idolize those in elected office, especially the President. The leader of our nation should reflect the core values of a model citizen, while fulfilling the numerous responsibilities expected of that role. Obviously, the President is human, so perfection is not to be expected – but we should be able to expect professionalism.
I wish that there was a way to improve the election process to optimize the candidates’ positive strengths, while placing less of an emphasis on making competitors look bad. We should not expect less from the Presidential candidates than we would expect from a job interview, and we should have no reason to classify the election process as anything but “Family-Friendly.”
I am not sure what the answer is… but this years Presidential Election leaves me uneasy about the path which we are on (as a nation). I will be voting on Tuesday – with my kids – and spending some time thinking about how to approach this topic with my children to get us through the next 8 months.
What do YOU think? How do you handle involving your children with the election?
I don’t consider myself “old” yet. Maybe that is silly – maybe no one realizes how old they really are?! I remember back when pagers were the thing. I had a big ol’ white pager that was handed down from my mom. My friends and I would page phone numbers as well as “codes” (143 = I love you). At that time my mom also had a car phone that was stored in (what can only be described as) a suitcase in the trunk of her car. Over the next 20 ish years cell phones got smaller – then bigger – styles changing to suit the changing demand. One trend that was clear is that everyone was making the move to mobile phones. Now a days, most people I talk to don’t have a landline anymore, relying on their cell for everything from phone calls and texting to social media and web-surfing.
A friend recently posted this on his Facebook page:
Have you ever monitored how often you are on your phone? I noticed that on average I am using some sort of social media app upwards of 3+ hours a day, 7 days a week. In one year that’s 45.5 days straight of being on my phone. 45.5 days a year that I don’t notice my kids, I forget about responsibilities and use excuses when I can’t “find the time” to get something done. Social media isn’t free if it costs you the only thing we can never get more of… Time. I’m restricting myself to less than 1 hour a day going forward. (Dave S. – Rochester, NY)
The calculations are shocking, and I am willing to bet that they are not unusual for most people these days.
Here is the part that seems to shock everyone – my household does not have a cell phone (or a landline, actually). It has been 2 years since we closed our contracts. At first, I felt naked and lost. Like a baby forced to give up the pacifier that comforts her when she’s sad, and occupies her when she’s bored. Many people tell me the reasons why they could never give up their cells – and honestly, if you don’t want to unplug then don’t – but many of the reasons I hear make me smile, because those things all apply to me too – and I thought them all before we unplugged. I have 4 children, children with special needs, in school, multiple service providers, job contacts, babysitters, family, friends… we survived without cell phones when I was a kid and we survive just fine without them today.
Without my cell phone, I am forced to be more present and “in the moment” with my children, friends, family, and people in general. I feel like I am able to be more of the mom that I want to be when I don’t get wrapped up in social media while I am out and about. I don’t check my phone at the playground, the waiting room at dance class, or in the line at the grocery store. Instead I watch my kids play if I am not pushing them on the swings. I chat with other moms/people in the waiting room, playgrounds, or lines. I flip through an occasional magazine. I have plenty of time to be social on the phone/online when I am home – during nap times and bed times and when I designate “work” time (still a balance for sure)!
So what do we do?
I have an app (Talkatone) installed on our iPad and the deactivated iPhone that provides me with voice and texting capabilities using wifi at little to no cost. With the deactivated iPhone, it will still work to call 911 so I typically keep it charged and with me in case of an emergency, and I will occasionally use it for the camera while I am out and about. I simply tell people that my phone is not a traditional cell phone and that it can only be used with wifi, so it’s more like a landline but I can make calls at locations with free wifi as well if needed – and so many places have free wifi these days from the grocery store to doctors offices and restaurants. Even though I have access to the apps anywhere there is wifi, eliminating the phone/data plans 2 years ago changed the way I rely on the phone and I find I rarely reach for it.
We save a bunch of money this way. Our internet bill is about $40/month and if I need to purchase minutes to make outbound calls (the Talkatone app provides 60 mins free a month) it’s only .99/60 mins. We also use the FaceTime on the iPad to further reduce the need for using the phone app. When we had cell phones through one of the leading national companies, we were paying upwards of $140/month on our cell phones alone – plus we had separate wifi charges as well – and the rates are only rising.
Getting rid of cell phones has saved us money, and gave us time to be present with the people in our lives and really enjoy the little moments. As strange as it sounds these days, my household does not have a cell phone – nor, do we want one.
How do you feel about your cell usage?
I do not think I have enough Mom Hacks to make this a weekly post – but I have one THIS week! Now, this may be old news to some of you – but you have to understand that this solved a big issues we have been dealing with for a while now – the kids push on the screen of our patio door and it causes the screen to detach from the frame leaving gaps for bugs to get in.
If your kids are as completely terrified of bugs as mine are (heck, I am too!), then you know how serious this can be.
Often times it means we can not leave our sliding door open to enjoy the breeze. Or, dad has to remove the door and use our handy dandy screen repair tool to repair the screen. Now this tool is amazing and the best home repair purchase we’ve made recently – we had no idea how easy it is to repair a screen! BONUS: It looks a lot better than duck tape!
But even though its an easy fix – no one wants to repair the same project every. single. day.
My mom hack? One of the inexpensive and adjustable wooden baby gates! It easily fits right into the door frame and keeps the baby and the little ones away from the screen. Even though my big kids COULD just reach over it and still touch the screen – they don’t! Just giving them that additional boundary 3 inches from the screen keeps them away from it.
It’s such a simple fix – I am just bummed we did not think of it sooner!
[huge_it_share]Finding the right day care, preschool or private school setting for you and your child can be a challenge – especially if you are in a new area or completing a search for the first time. I researched and listened to recommendations of local moms, to compile this list of questions to ask your child’s prospective school choices. Before you visit the school, read through the questions and think about which are most important to you and what answers you’d like to hear. That will help to give you a starting point to narrow down your search and zero in on the school that is the best fit for your family.
- Do they follow a specific educational philosophy?
- Do they have a curriculum?
- Is there a schedule?
- What will the children learn?
- How do they account for different learning styles/flexibility for children with special needs?
- Do they incorporate music, art, and/or foreign language into their curriculum?
- Will the children get recess/physical activity time to develop gross & fine motor skills?
- Do children nap regularly?
- How do they handle discipline?
- Is potty-training required and if not: how do they handle potty training?
- What are the illness policies?
- How many kids are in a class or session?
- What is the teacher to student ratio?
- What is the educational background and experience of the teachers and staff?
- What is the turnover rate with your teachers?
- Are teachers and staff certified in CPR and/or First Aid?
- Are all staff background checked?
- Are meals and snacks provided?
- Can they accommodate kids with special diets/allergies?
- Can children bring their own meals?
- Do they offer field trips?
- Do they invite community organizations/guest speakers into the classroom?
- Do they offer any parent workshops?
- Are there family-friendly special events hosted throughout the year?
- Do they provide transportation?
- Do they offer field trips, and if so, how is transportation handled (consider the need for car seats)?
- Can parents come into the classroom?
- Are parents expected to help in class, and how often?
- Are parents expected to take on “roles” for the school like fundraising/cleaning crew/etc.
- Are there committees or board meetings you may attend and/or consider joining?
- What forms of communication do they utilize?
- How will parents be notified of problems/concerns?
- Will there be opportunities for parent/teacher conferences?
- Is there a newsletter sent periodically from the school? or the classroom?
- Are scholarships available for those who cannot afford full tuition?
- Does the school offer part-time rates for those who do not need full-time care?
- How many entrance/exit points are there?
- How are exits secured and monitored?
- Is the playground fenced?
- What additional security measures are in place?
- Will the school provide references?
There is a lot you can learn from speaking to parents with students currently at the school. If you are able to do so, you will want to have some different questions ready to ask seasoned parents. Consider asking:
- What do you like the least and the most about the program?
- How is communication is handled?
- How does your child like the school?
Remember that “the only stupid question is the one that isn’t asked.” Ask anything and everything you can think of with confidence, knowing what an important decision this is for you and your child. Tour the schools you are most interested in and pay special attention to how you and your child feel during the tour. Knowing what questions to ask is comforting and empowering as you make your decision, but the information you obtain from listening to your own instincts and observing your child should be key to your final decision.
Do you have any questions you like to ask that I missed? Share them with me in the comments!
I value the importance of making time to date my husband, but being in a new city without the natural supports of friends and family, it was not possible for us to have a kid-free date night. We were lucky to enjoy the day with our children, decorating heart shaped cookies and giving lots of squeeze hugs, followed by our version of date-night which included catching up on The Flash through Netflix and snacking on Little Debbie Valentine Cakes.
Valentine’s Day really got me thinking about the concept of “dating” not only my husband, but my children as well! Growing up I have fond memories of my Father celebrating “Meghan & Ashley Day” with my sister and I, and I want to leave my children with similar memories, and honor my late father by continuing his tradition. With 4 kids, it’s rare that anyone gets time away from their siblings in our house, so we rotate through 1:1 “dates” with each of the kids (sometimes with mom, sometimes with dad).
When we think of dates, many of us picture dressing fancy for a nice dinner, which can be fun and special, but dates with your kids can truly be as fancy or casual as you’d like! Often times our kids place a huge value on some of the simple things we often take for granted, which can make for pretty amazing memories!
- Grocery shopping. Many grocery stores can be a mini-day trip with your child, too! Grab a bite to eat in the cafe, then get your shopping list out and let your child help you find all the items, check them off the list, and maybe even make a couple impromptu purchases!
- Get the car washed. Kids love going through the car wash! Head in and pick up some snacks before you embark on your soapy journey – make sure your windows are up!
- Dollar Store. There is something about knowing you can get ANYTHING you see – go on a little shopping spree with your kiddo. Set a budget of course, but remember that even one dollar will be fun!
- Bowling. Bowling can be a great activity for kids of (almost) all ages. Many alleys have bumpers and ramps to allow kids as young as toddler-aged kids to have fun bowling.
- Museum/Indoor Play Center. Spend a day at the local children’s museum, art gallery, science/history museums, or one of the area’s Indoor Play Centers. Let your date call all the shots about where to go, then allow yourself to let loose and make memories with your kiddo!
- Zoo. It’s open year round – so whether its snowy or sunny there will be animals to see and memories to make!
- Library/bookstore. Read a book together on site, or choose a book to bring home.
- Picnic. Whether you pack your picnic as a part of a larger excursion, or as the highlight of the date, picnics are fun for kids, and can keep costs low by avoiding pricey restaurants if you’re on a budget!
- Sledding. Pack a thermos of hot cocoa, bundle up and hit a hill! (Might take a little more planning if you’re near Phoenix like me, but apparently it’s not a terrible drive up to Flagstaff, AZ where they get plenty of snow!)
- Live Theater. Seek out a family-friendly show from a local live performance theater or one of the local middle/high schools!
- Sporting Event: Whether it’s high school, collegiate, semi-pro, or pro – cheer on your favorite teams or explore a new sport!
- Home “Alone.” Sometimes we send one parent out with all but one of the kids – allowing “date night” to happen right at home. Get a snack and play a board game, make a craft, or read a book together.
- Restaurant. Going out to eat can be a lot of fun, whether it’s a fancy restaurant, dessert only, or fast food. Check your area for local kids meal deals too, and save money on your date night!
- Special Events. Last (but definitely not least!) check the local libraries, malls, and community centers for special events going on – storytimes, make-and-takes, and other special events will all make perfect dates with your kids!
I’d like to leave you with a little reminder that it’s not about the MONEY you spend, but the TIME you spend together. <3
“Sometimes the most ordinary things could be made extraordinary, simply by doing them with your children!”
Share in the comments below: What is YOUR favorite kid-friendly date?