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    Celebrations

    A First Birthday

    My baby turned one last week. This first year flew by, possibly because she is a dream baby. (Knock on wood). I love celebrating birthdays. One thing I have learned over the years is that everyone has expectations, whether consciously or unconsciously, about everything. I have found out that I have expectations when it comes to birthdays. I love celebrating them. I love figuring out ways to make those special days that much more special.

    I wanted to have a little get together with some friends to celebrate our baby girl. I don’t know why, but I get a little self conscious when I want to have a party. Sometimes I even want to just cancel whatever it is I have planned. In some ways I feel like I’m back in junior high. Will people like it? Will people come? Will it make me look ridiculous? But I am getting better at pushing that talk out of my head and just doing what I want. Because it makes me happy! So if there is something you want do but you are worried about what others might think, just go for it if it makes you happy! I digress.

    So we had a little party to celebrate. I had an idea in my mind of how I wanted it to look in my mind and it came out pretty close. Baby girl has been sweet and gentle since the day she was born so that’s the vibe I was going for.

    The only things I bought for the party were the balloon and the food. Everything else I had on hand, which is a bonus. Pull things from around your house to find the look you want. This might mean your gallery wall looks a little odd with a couple of frames missing for a few hours or your artificial plants are missing their pots, but it will be okay!

    Here is the table setup, pre-food:

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    We did a “Smoothies & Sweets” food theme. Big bags of frozen fruit with a little water and yogurt made perfect smoothies. Just ask my son, he had at least four.

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    I didn’t make any of the food for the party and it was seriously so nice. There’s a time and a place for the homemade treats, but for this one, I just wanted to make sure I had the party! I have always secretly wanted to buy that giant box of cream puffs from Costco and now I had a reason to.

     

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    Good food and good company are key to a good party and we had both. Such a fun little gathering to celebrate our new one-year old. Now if year two wouldn’t go by quiet as fast, that’d be great.

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    Collective Thoughts

    In My Home

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    Well, yesterday was a big day. An interesting day. An unexpected day for many. In the past few days, due to increased talks at school I’m guessing, my kindergartner has had many more questions about the election, who is running, what they think and what it all means for us. I had to have some conversations with her that I never expected to have with her at five years old because of things she heard from others. To explain certain things out loud to her was hard. But I learned from her, or rather it was more impressed on me because I have always known this about her, that she is wise beyond her years, she asks insightful questions, she questions things that don’t make sense to her, she understands when someone is not making a good choice. I learned I need to be more prepared to talk to her about topics I once thought we wouldn’t approach until later.

    But as we went out the door to school, I told her that I hope our new President makes good choices. I hope our new President shows compassion, love and kindness and makes decisions that will promote the safety of our country and protects our freedoms. And then I told her, that we can do all those things too and that is where it starts.

    “Your success as a family, our success as a society, depends not on what happens in the White House but on what happens inside your house”

    – Barbara Bush

    In our home we will teach:

    To love others, no matter their differences.

    To speak kindly.

    To show compassion.

    To show respect to others.

    To seek out and befriend the lonely.

    To stand up for what is right.

    To make good choices that will promote the safety and freedom of us all.

    We can choose to do all those things and more and we will.

    I’m grateful to have been raised to focus on finding the positive in any situation. To look for the good in the world and in others. It is my hope and belief that if we all do that, everything will be okay.

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    Motherhood

    Baby Basics for the First Year

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    My baby is going to be one this week. I can’t believe it. This year has flown by. I have written a few posts about pregnancy and having a newborn. Today I wanted to share my favorite baby products. These are the ones that were most used and most trusted. Most of them happen to be pretty economical choices. There are thousands of baby products out there. I am not against the higher end or more expensive products, but I have found that many times, the lesser known and less expensive brands and products work just as well. At this point, I have used these for multiple babies and have had great luck with all of them. I would say they are my go to baby products and I probably could have survived with just these products alone (I didn’t put diapers on this list- Kirkland brand from Costco, same with wipes).

    FEEDING. Read my post here about my approach to feeding. By my third baby, I figured out exactly how I liked feeding and what made me the most comfortable. I also found the products that I just kept going back to.

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    photo source: Amazon

    Evenflo bottlesThese are probably the most inexpensive, simple bottles out there. I have used the more expensive bottles, with multiple parts, before and they were fine. But these bottles worked just as well for me. My babies never seemed to be bothered by them, have an increased amount of gas, etc. I usually bought the three packs at Target for three or four dollars. I wish I would have looked on Amazon first, because these are fun colors!

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    photo source: Amazon

    Medela breast pumpI used this a lot with my second and third babies. Almost exclusively for a few months with both. It was covered by my insurance, so it was definitely the economical choice! Check with your insurance to find out what breast pumps they cover. Again, this one probably isn’t the top of the line, but it did the job when I needed it to, and that’s what matters! It was fairly small and portable. My oldest used to call it my “feeding box,” so there’s that.

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    photo source: Costco

    Kirkland FormulaIf you read the post I linked above, you’ll know that by 6 months with all of my pregnancies, I had switched completely to formula. Clearly, formula is not the most economical choice (nursing=free) but for my sanity and peace of mind, the money was worth it. And when it came to buying formula, this was the best for me hands down. The price was great and my babies never seemed to have issues with it. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good formula!

    BABY STUFF. It seems like there is so much “stuff” you can get out there for babies! So much. And a lot of it is really innovative and neat. For me, I was kind of a stick-to-the-basics kind of girl. So, here are a few of the basics we used that worked really well for us.

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    photo source: Amazon

    V-tech Baby Monitor. Again, probably one of the cheaper options out there. With my third baby, I went back and forth about whether or not to get a video monitor. With my first, we didn’t even use a baby monitor. We lived in a small apartment and could hear every sound. And really, the same was true with our second baby. We had one for traveling, but that was it! With this last baby, we were a little more spread out from her once she started sleeping in her room, so a monitor was needed. But, in the end, the only reason I wanted a video monitor was that it sounded cool. Both my other babies did fine with an audio monitor, or even no monitor at all! And the only time I use a monitor is when I am asleep, so I wouldn’t be looking at anything anyway! So we went with this basic monitor that has worked great for us.

    pacifiers

    photo source: Amazon

    Nuk pacifiersAll my babies have been binky babies and all of them have loved these Nuk pacifiers. If you need a pacifier, find out which ones your baby likes, but I would recommend giving these a try. They stick around for a while. We have probably owned every design, size and color of these guys. We are currently trying to pry them out of my two and a half year old’s hands, er, mouth.

    blankets

    photo source: Amazon

    aden + anais BlanketsAnother favorite in our house. What’s not to like about these giant, soft, cuddly blankets? We currently have eight in our house. All gifted or bought with gift cards. My middle baby sleeps with all four of his, every night. My youngest always sleeps with one, too. It’s like instant cuddling when ever a corner of one of these blankets touches your cheek. Love them.

    sound-machine

    photo source: Amazon

    Sound machine. I love these things. We have used them for all of our babies. They are perfect for drowning out noise and helping babies stay asleep. They also become a sort of signal that it is time to go to sleep. I take my baby in her room, turn on the sound machine and her head instantly drops to my shoulder. They are great for traveling and staying in hotels too! I linked to the one we have, but I’m pretty sure any kind would do the job.

    high-chair

    photo source: Amazon

    High chair. This IKEA high chair is just the best. Inexpensive, durable, easy to clean and its simple look goes well in any kitchen (because that’s important, am I right?). We had a different high chair with our first, and this one is hands down better and easier.

    Well, there you have it. Some of my favorite and most used baby products. If there is anything I have learned over the course of three babies, is that sometimes, simple and basic is better. Of course, all the other stuff is fun and I like it too, don’t get me wrong. But when it comes down to it, these are the essentials that we have used over and over again in the first year and it’s helped these sweet, squishy babies survive their parents just doing the best they can!

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    Holidays

    November Traditions: The Grateful Tree

    This year has been one of the more “uneventful” years in our family, if there is such a thing. My husband and I are done with all our degrees, we didn’t have a baby or have a newborn, it’s been mostly living life, with ups and downs of course, but no major life changes.

    So one thing I have been trying to be more intentional about is implementing traditions. I love traditions and I think they are so important for family unity and memories. One activity we have done in the past in November is a grateful tree. There are versions of this throughout the Internet. Here’s how we have done our tree.

    One year, when it was just three of us, I went on a walk with my only baby and we picked up sticks to use as the branches of our tree. Then I dutifully traced and cut out realistically shaped leaves, we wrote the things we were grateful for on them and tied them to the branches. It turned out so cute and it worked great for that year. And now, I can’t find any photos of that tree. It looked good, I promise!

    Then I decided I wanted something I could pull out each year and not put much thought into the prep work. So a couple of years ago, I cut out the outline of a tree and branches using brown construction paper and then laminated it. I added magnets to the back so we can put it somewhere easily. In our previous apartment, the front door was magnetic, which was basically the coolest thing. This year, we are hanging it on our refrigerator. I cut out very basic leaves on a few different colors of construction paper while watching the latest This is Us episode and called it good.

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    The plan is take a few leaves each night or so and write things we are grateful for and add them to our grateful tree. I’ve saved the leaves from the last couple of years and it is fun to look back to see what was on our minds each year around this time.

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    Traditions don’t have to be complicated to be meaningful!dscn3098

    P.S. I’m sorry about the color in these photos. It was a weird overcast/sunny day when I took them and it threw off the color on all the photos!

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    Health & Fitness

    Getting Back Into Running With A Challenge

    I’ve established a fairly consistent workout schedule over the last several months. Two to three times a week, after I drop my oldest off at school, my younger two and I head to the gym. I love going to classes at the gym. It has been the single most effective way for me to establish a regular exercise routine. I love it. But more on that later.

    Today I wanted to talk about reinstating running into my workout routine. In 2012, I ran my first half marathon.

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    Since then, my total is now up to three. My times were never impressive. In fact, in my third half marathon, I was one of the last few people to finish. In my defense, it was a very small somewhat disorganized race with probably a hundred participants. At least that’s what I tell myself, so I feel better! But I enjoyed doing the half marathons because they forced me into an exercise routine. Well, the first one, I was naive as to what running 13.1 miles actually took and the highest mileage I got to in one run was six miles. I walk/ran that race. The next two, my goal was to run the whole thing, which I did both times.

    I am planning on doing another half marathon in the spring of next year. It will be two and half years since my last half marathon and since running has been pretty nonexistent in my workout routine this year, I will be pretty rusty to start out. I’m hoping the strength training and cardio that has been a part of my workouts will help me be a stronger (and maybe a litttttle bit faster) runner. My goal this time is to beat my fastest half marathon time, which was about 2:35 if I remember right.

    To ease myself back into the whole running scene, I am challenging myself for the month of November. My goal is to run 30 miles this month. I am not going to make a specific plan (like 1 mile/day) right now, but I will have the goal in mind and fit it into my schedule. My goal is to build up my running stamina for the next two months, and then start a half marathon training plan in January.

    I’ll recap my running at the end of each week (or so), to keep track of how I’m doing. Follow along if you are interested in my progress, or if you want to join in, please do!

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    Celebrations

    Family Pumpkin Painting Party

    All month long,  I have wanted to do a pumpkin painting party. In my mind, it would be a pumpkin painting playdate and we would invite some little friends over and they would each have a little pumpkin to paint, we would have treats and maybe play some games. That would have been so fun, no doubt, but we never got around to it.

    Yesterday, I decided we were going to have a pumpkin painting party. And it was going to be a family painting party. Because who better to have a party with than your family. Sometimes I think we forget the best party guests are own family members!

    We already had the pumpkins. Somehow, each of the three times we have been to Sprouts in the last couple of weeks, one or two little pumpkins ended up in our cart. At only a dollar, and so cute to look at, I could never say no. They ended up being perfect for our pumpkin painting party.

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    After school today, I picked up some festive plates and paintbrushes. Somehow, paintbrushes are one of those things that always go missing around our house. I also threw some googly eyes into my cart and they ended up being the star of the party. As the kids watched a show after school, I set up the table. I was amazed that they did not once try to move the pumpkins or play with the paintbrushes.

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    To start our party, we ate takeout (time is money, people) and watched The Great Pumpkin. We then moved to our painting. We are at the stage where activities such as this take about 5.5 minutes, so we were done in about ten minutes. But no one cried, no one spilled their paint, and everyone had fun. Win, win, win. I daresay that this pumpkin painting party might have to be a family tradition come Halloween.

    Sometimes these celebrations take just a little preparation, not too much time, but provide the memories our kids will remember for a long time!

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    Parenting

    What If It Were Me?

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    Having three kids at different ages, with a wide range of emotions and needs is an interesting thing. I often feel like everyday, I am on the parenting stage and one misstep in my parenting could cause repercussions for years to come. Exaggerating of course, but don’t we often feel that way? When it comes to handling tantrums, the demands of toddlers and preschoolers, big emotions, there are hundreds of parenting books, internet articles and words of advice on how to handle them.

    So here’s another post about that. But this is not the “perfect” answer and I can’t promise it will give you magical results that result in no tantrums, perfectly reasonable toddlers or totally chill preschoolers. In fact, none of that may change. But hopefully, this approach will at least give some relief to the constant feeling of, “Am I doing this all wrong?” And I have to remind myself daily to try and take this approach and I consider myself successful if I remember it more than half of the time!

    Lately, one question has helped me respond to my children (and let’s be honest, anyone else I interact with) with more love, patience and empathy. That question is: “What if it were me?”

    We have to remember that all the feelings that babies, toddlers, and preschoolers feel are all legitimate emotions and usually their behavior is a result of those emotions. Because when someone opens your applesauce when you wanted to do it, that is a legit reason to be upset. For a three year old. In adult experience, that’s like someone taking your parking spot at the mall, am I right?

    So when I ask myself, “What if it were me?” before I respond to one of my kids, it makes me pause for a moment and think about how I would want someone to respond to me in that situation. If I couldn’t find my favorite necklace would I want someone to say, “I’ve told you a million times to put that thing back where it goes!” or would I want them to say, “Well, where was the last time you saw it? I’ll help you look for it.”

    When one of my kids has a problem at school, or the gym daycare, I have been trying to be better at being slower to talk and quicker to listen.

    Having children has made me rethink my reactions to just about everything. Driving in the car and someone cuts me off? How do I react? Cashier at the grocery store isn’t the nice to me? What do I say back to them? What will my children learn from me about interacting with others?

    For now, I can teach them as I interact with them.  I can slow down, count to four as Daniel Tiger would say, react with love and empathy and think, “What if it were me?”

     

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