Thursday, June 21, 2018

Seperation Anxiety, Toddlers, & Only Wanting Mama

My youngest has been going through a separation anxiety phase.  I didn't realize that at this age they would still have phases like this.  I will be honest, I don't remember my oldest going through it, but then again we had just moved and had a newborn.

I was still possible he went through it, but it wasn't to the same degree and didn't last long.  My youngest has been dappling in this phase for about 6 months.  It started back in February.  Now, granted, it was more easy to take in stride and more easy to help him move past it in the moment.

But about a month ago, it seemed to hit it's peak.  We were full on in, I want mama and only mama, mama has to do it - wash hands, put shoes on, and the list goes on.  From the time he was up and until he fell asleep for bed, it was all mama, all the time or there were major melt downs and lots of tears.

After calling his pediatrician, we determined that yup, this was just a phase.  A little light clicked on and it started, and now we just had to wait for it to click again and it will be done.  Do we have an idea of when?  Nope, not a clue.  At least we know it's not do to getting sick or teething.  He is done teething and he is healthy as can be.

She told us to keep the same schedule and routines, especially at bedtime and it will get better and easier at some point.

It is hard and tiring, draining too to be in this spot.  While I am enjoying the extra snuggles, longer hugs, and rocking with him, the meltdowns, impatience, and only mama all day every day has begun to drain me.

While at this point, we aren't quite through it all the way, I am finding we are on the downside of this phase and almost done.

How can I tell? 
*On a recent trip to visit family he let grandpa take him out of the car seat.  Normally while on road trips (for, like forever) he won't let anyone take him out of the car other dad or me.
*He asked for grandpa to sit next to him at dinner instead of me.
*My car had to go in for repairs while visiting and he kept right on playing when I had to take the car in and he stayed with grandma and his brother.
*One night my parents went to pick up pizza for dinner and he asked to go with to help.

And just today we were visiting a friend and he kept going to her to talk, to show his colorings, and for help like cleaning up his hands.

The hardest part of it all really?  It is the transition time of going down for naps and bedtime.  They are rough.  There are usually lots more I need mama, I want mama, One more hug, as well as some tears.  But he is starting to get back into a normal sleep schedule.  Even going to bed has gotten easier and more smooth.  Nap time, we are still working on, but I also think some of it is due to too early of a start time.  Once we get the timing right, the rest of the pieces will fall into place.

After doing a little research and talking more with his pediatrician I learned that at 2 1/2 kids are becoming more aware of their surroundings.  They are realizing that there are still things going on even when they have to go to sleep and they don't want to miss out.  They are beginning to test the boundaries and see where they can push.  They are more active during the awake hours and that sometimes leads to not playing right next to us but nearby instead (within sight lines) and so when they are taking out of the play and moved into sleeping mode they just need a little more one on one time.

So, we are tweaking his nap start time, keeping routines and schedules consistent (especially bedtime and nap time), getting a little more play time in, getting a little more rocking and snuggles in, and seeing where it goes.

Also, the pediatrician had recommend at his wellness visit to start only having his nuk during sleep times as it would mostly likely help with the going to sleep part making it more smooth, but also help during the day as well.  Well, we found he wasn't ready yet for it only just at nap and bed.  I found that not having it as much seemed to add to the anxiety instead.

So now he still gets to have it when he used to, but we put some boundaries on it.  Like if we are playing outside or on certain adventures it stays out of his mouth or if he is going to talk it needs to be out so we can better understand him.  He is beginning to keep it out of his mouth longer and longer on his own.  Sometimes we have to remind him of the boundaries, but more often than not he remembers.

Separation anxiety is hard for all around.  I will tell you that yes it wears on you, it seems to come out of nowhere and before you know it it is gone, but you will make it through this phase just like you did the others.

Is your kiddo facing separation anxiety?  How is it going?  What tips and tricks have you found to help work through it?

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Making Your Own Height Chart

I started a themed height chart for each kiddo that went along with their nursery decor.  I marked it after each wellness visit for the first year.  Then I decided to do something that I could mark both kiddos down on for height.

I say the tape measure type height chart on a board and loved the look, but not the price.  I looked at it and decided it was something I could recreate.

It turned out easier than I thought.  The hardest part?  Drawing all those inch lines.  I know, it may not look perfect like the store bought one or be exact, but it is close enough.

I bought a piece of 8 foot cedar board and cut it down to just a little over 6 feet.  The numbers I bought at a local craft store.  They are wood and can be easily painted.  Originally I had started doing the lines with washi tape, but I didn't like the look as I went along.  So I took a black sharpie and started drawing lines.  To record the kid's heights I use a silver sharpie.

Hung it up on the wall and we were all set.  My oldest likes to stand by it often just to see how much he is grown.  About every 6 months we measure and mark

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Toddlers, Travel, Sleep & Simplifying

When you overthink things and it gets more complicated sometimes you just need to listen to a 2 1/2 year old to simplify things.

You see my youngest is still in a crib at home.  He has plenty of space in it and still sleeps well.  Our hope and intent is to use it until he is too big or he starts climbing out.  The problem is, at 2 1/2 he doesn't fit in the pack and play any more.

We knew the time was coming, but we didn't know what to do to transition from using it.  We didn't have to with my oldest.  He slept one last time in the pack and play at 2 1/2 before we moved, but the next time we traveled he was using a mattress on the floor at home, so we set up some blankets like a bed on the floor for him.  Worked great.  But he was a pro at sleeping in something bigger by the time we traveled.

My youngest, well a combination of separation anxiety, knowing how to open doors, and not having been in anything other than a crib or pack and play, this was going to be interesting. 

Our first attempt was trying out an air mattress with sides at a hotel recently was a total flop.  After repeated attempts of trying to get him to use the air mattress we put the pack and play up so everyone could hopefully get some sleep.  Not a great night sleep, or nap, or the next night without being near me or me being in the same room. 

So when we planned on traveling again to my parents' lake house, I just took the pack and play. I had purchased a cot for our other trip, but decided to return it after realizing we had the air mattress and wanting him closer to the floor to start.  I prepared myself and everyone else for rough starts to sleep and shorter length.  I knew that he didn't like the pack and play anymore and just couldn't get comfortable.

While at the lake, I decided to give sleeping out of the pack and play a try.  It was a good time to try it and see if we could figure out a solution.  So I set up a twin mattress on the floor next to the wall and box spring.  At least it would still feel like there was sides I figured.  Problem was, he still wouldn't lay down.  He kept getting up.

Eventually he fell asleep, right next to door on the carpet.  Okay, I thought, I will just set up some blankets on the floor for bed and see how it goes.  It took him a bit, but he slept on those.  Then I decided for nap time the next day, I would put things back.  I moved the twin mattress back onto the box spring and opened up floor space.  I picked up the pack and play, but left the mattress on the floor.  I set up an area near a closet door and wall with a few extra blankets in hopes he would sleep there.

Nope, he still ended up sleeping by the door to the room.  So for bedtime, I gave up.  Cleaned up the rest of the pack and play and extra blankets.  I asked him where he wanted to sleep.  He pointed and said "right there, on the carpet"

Here I was, trying to figure out the best solution, the right one.  All I needed to do was listen to my 2 1/2 year old.  Other than wanting his big bed at home, he just wanted to sleep by the door on the carpet.

The rest of the week he slept fine.  I figured this was a good trial run for when we travel and for down the road when he sleeps in a regular bed.

What tips and tricks do you have for traveling with a kiddo who still sleeps in a crib at home, but doesn't fit in a pack and play?

I have no issue with him deciding to sleep on the floor at family and friends houses for nap and overnight.  But what about in a hotel room?  The floor isn't exactly known for being the cleanest.  Hopefully by the time we stay in a hotel again I will have a better answer. 

But for now, I guess when we travel, I need to listen better and simplify things. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Rock Dragonfly

On a recent trip up to the North Shore along Lake Superior I had a focus of collecting rocks to make a dragonfly out of. I got the idea from my hubby who shared a picture with me of one done that was big enough to put in a garden.

I don’t have the garden space, but I liked the idea. So I got enough rocks to create two different size dragonflies, one to put outside and one to keep inside.

The small one I painted canvas and hot glued the stones on. The bigger one, I painted and sealed plywood and used a stronger outdoor glue to hold the rocks on.

And the end result are two rock dragonflies for a quick and simple project.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Making More of My Morning Ritual

 I have been working on finding a morning ritual that works well with the season I am in.  One that allows me to dig in deeper, connect with God, and carry with me through the day.  Something that works with my own natural flow and rhythm.

My morning ritual is something that I want to keep simple, can let it take 5 minutes or 15 or more depending how much time I have, and can travel with me easily.

So what is a morning ritual?  It is time set aside in the morning, during the quiet and a way to set yourself for the day. 

Do you have morning ritual?  What is?  What have you found to work?  Not work?  If you don't have a morning ritual, have you thought of creating one? 

My morning ritual involves the items in my butterfly box.  I have the current devotion that I working through, a bible, journal, simple clarity cards, and post it notes. 
  • My current devotional is "Ponder the Path", a 30 devotional that works you through Proverbs, has a personal story to relate to a verse within that days Proverbs, and space to write notes.  
  • The journal is simply that, a journal.  A place for me to write out my thoughts from the devotional or any other thoughts. 
  • The bible is so I can read the whole proverb for the day.
  • The simple clarity cards are cards that I learn to make through Abundant Mama & Peace Circle.  They have one word on them to be used as a focus word for the day, intention, or even something to help open your mind & heart.  They have a picture on them as well that brings that feeling of the word to life.  I have been picking a new one each day.
  • Post it notes are just for me to write down other things going on my mind so I can focus my attention to the morning ritual time.  I write down the to list of things for the day.
You can make this time whatever you want.  Fill it with the things that fill you up for the day, the things that boost your energy, the things that get you ready for the day...make it your own.  I know it will change over time, it will change when I finish this devotion, of if a more pressing need or priority comes up it will be there to fall back on.

The morning ritual is just a part of my morning routine. But that small part has helped me grow, dig deep, and feel more ready for the day.  The thing that I like about my morning ritual is that it is something that even if the kids are awake, we are on vacation, or everyone is still asleep I can still have those 5 or 10 minutes.  My kiddos will hopefully learn from it too.

What can you do today to build a morning ritual?

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Handprint Garden

My kids love to be creative.  Sometimes they grab supplies and just go.  Other times I have a project in mind to try to make with them.  Some of the projects I pick because it saves the moment in time.  I love seeing hand print and footprint art, especially over time.  You get to see how much they have grown.

This canvas idea was fairly simple to put together.  But I will admit, I had my hubby help with my youngest to help make it go more smoothly.  He was still pretty little to do this on his own like my oldest, so we tag teamed to make it go quicker with less mess.

You can do this in any size that works for you.  You can add as many or as few flowers as you want.  I added a few extra bug details and some grass to finish off the flowers after adding stems and leaves.  My kids enjoyed painting their hands and creating the flower buds of the garden.

You can use paint on the hands to make the hand print or washable ink pads work too.

We even made one as a gift to give.  Every Spring it comes out as part of our decor adding some bright pops of color in the room.  I love it!

Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Need for a Schedule

I have always been a planner and an organizer.  I have my pen and paper calendar that goes with me in the diaper bag.  I have my wall calendar for all to see.  I even have a weekly activities calendar and menu on the fridge.

When my oldest was born we fell into a routine and schedule fairly easily.  As he grew and seasons changed, we tweaked the schedule.  We tried for awhile to keep with it once my youngest was born.  But as time passed by, the schedule became non-existent.

After digging in deeper into this month's Peace Circle theme, Yes to Ease, I began to remember that I thrive on having a schedule and so does my oldest.  It doesn't have to be filled so much that life just seems busy and chaotic.  It just needs to be more consistent.

Like, Wednesday's are Swim Lessons every week until we decide to take a break.  But I realized recently that having the same or similar activity on a certain day of the week each week can help everyone find their flow and things seem feel more natural.

So for my kids, certain days of the week are filled with a certain activity each week.  So we are picking which days will be days to visit nature centers, do forest school, visit the zoos, playgrounds, splash pads and pools, etc.  I am taking a list of activities my kiddos want to do and putting them onto a calendar.  Some activities will be a once or a once in awhile, while others will still be weekly.  This also allows us to easily change if something comes up, or friends want to get together, or if anything give us a list of ideas of what to do when we get together with friends.

For myself, that meant looking at my quiet time and down times and breaking them down by the half hour, then filling those spaces with the things I need to get done, want to get done, energy boosters, self-care.  This allows me to get to the things that are priority for me and not feeling overwhelmed.  It also gives me the flexibility to shift things a little, do them in a different order, or spend more time in one area if needed.  I also left time slots open.  What it really is is a written out to list for every day that helps keep me accountable.

So this is what it looks like:

Morning Time: this is before the kids wake.  On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I workout to a cardio workout video and then get ready for the day.  After which, I do some stretches and then have my morning ritual.  My morning ritual is reading a devotion, then journaling, and then picking a simple clarity card for the day.  On Tuesday and Thursday, the focus is on Peace Circle work or reading my current book.  Then getting ready for the day and doing stretches.  And finishing with my morning ritual.

Nap Time: On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I continue my workout focus - Leg Day, Core Day, Arms & Back Day.  Then chores and any prep needed for dinner or the next day.  On Tuesday and Thursday I have my blog and writing time, as well as creative time.  And finishing with any prep needed.

After kids go to bed, it is my hope to just rest and relax before I head to bed.

I couldn't find pre-made calendar and schedule set up that I like or a template or something that wasn't bulky and expensive with too much other filler I knew I wouldn't use.  So I ended up created my own.  I took and printed out a blank 2018 calendar for the rest of the months of the year.  For my schedule, I took a word template and changed it to fit what I was looking for. Then I bought a report cover with pockets inside and place all the papers in it.  It sits on my coffee table and I am okay with that. 

Now, granted we are still in the beginning state for these schedules, so there will be tweaking done and some adjusting.  But so far, it has worked well.

I know, for some this may seem over the top or maybe even not enough.  But for us, it is working.  I have began to stop fighting the concept of the schedule and making excuses.  I feel more at ease as I am finding my natural rhythm again and thereby the kids are finding theirs.  The flow in our day is smoother generally.  I am finding myself more filled mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually instead of constantly drained.  I can fill my cup, so that I can fill the cup of those around me.

Planning and scheduling is a part of me, so instead of resenting it or pushing it away I am letting it back in again.

What do you do to find more ease and flow in the day?

Click here if you want to see my template schedule

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Cute Rock Cacti

I found this fun idea to make a cactus from a rock on one of the pages I follow on Facebook.  As soon as I showed my kids they were all in and had rocks in mind they wanted to use.  And besides, who doesn't like to paint.

They started by painting their rocks with acrylic paints.  Once dry we added a few white lines and some google eyes, as well as a smile.  We put foam circles in the bottom of the flower pot to fill some of the space and give the cactus rock something to sit on.  Then we filled with some rocks we found that we liked, but you could fill with sand or an idea of your own.  Then I took E600 transparent glue and coated all the rocks and filled in any open areas.  After it dried, I sprayed the cactus rock with an outdoor spray sealant. 

We place two of them outside on our porch and the other two are inside.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Losing Your Identity in Motherhood

Before we had kids I was a wife, a teacher, and me.  I knew who I was, where I was, and where I was headed.  I also knew that one day, we wanted to grow our family. 

When you bring kids into the picture things change within you.  Maybe you don't notice it right away, but at some point, to some, it feels like we loose ourselves, our identity of who we are.  Maybe this has happened to you, maybe not.
When you have a clear perspective and knowledge of your purpose, gifts, strengths it helps.  But after so many sleepless nights, all the diaper changes, loads of laundry, and more it seems that all too often we just become so in so's mom.  Don't get me wrong, I love my kids and I like being a mom.  It is what I wanted.  What I didn't realize was that for a period of time, I would loose sight of who I am.

We give and give until the day is done, often little to no time for ourselves.  At what point does filling up everyone around you begin to leave you drained?  You can't fill from an empty cup as the saying goes.  If you are always on empty, how can you continually fill everyone else?  Truthfully, you can't.  You do your best and just carry on.  But at some point you need to stop, slow down, and refuel.

It is through the filling up everyone else around and forgetting about yourself that we begin to loose some of who we are.  What are your passions?  What are you dreams?  What fuels you up?  What do you need?  Who are you as a person?

These are just some questions that have run through my mind over the years.  You see, I have always wondered what my strengths are, what are my hobbies, if I didn't teach what would I do, and the questions just keep going.  Rolling around in my mind.

I had lost my sense of me, who I was.  All to often, I would be the person that those around me wanted me to be (or I perceived they wanted).  Hiding me, placing a facade on.  And when becoming a mom, I began to wonder more who I was.  Why?  Because so many times I would start talking with other moms and they would introduce themselves as a (fill in the blank) mom: crunchy mom, helicopter mom, and the list goes on.  I began to compare myself, my parenting, where I was at to those around me.  Comparing my inside, to their outside while trying to find and build connections, friendships with others - for my kids and for myself.

Through it all I began to lay aside the things that really made me who I was and I missed doing.  Like photography, being creative, writing.  As time has gone by, I was beginning to realize that I was not the mom I wanted to be.  Too much yelling in the house, too much overwhelm trying to get to do lists done, too much trying to fill the schedule busy because I saw that worked for others, too much just hoping and waiting for the next nap time the next bedtime, too much loss (in my mind) of self worth and value.

As I began to feel less value, my impatience and frustration grew.  Always exhausted from keeping up with two kids and changing seasons in parenthood, lack of quality sleep, feeling like I had an every mounting to do list,  carrying the weight of my many emotions and those around me (especially my kids) I began to feel depleted in all areas of life.  And it started to show.

I knew something needed to change and it had to start with me.  So I decided to take an Abundant Mama Project course.  It had been on my bucket list since I started following Shawn through Facebook and her blog.  But I had always kept putting it off and finding excuses.  In February when I hit my breaking point of needing to change something, this course came back into mind.  At the time when I signed up, there was also a bonus trial couple of months in the Peace Circle that she created to continue the work from the Abundant Mama course.

Each day I was emailed that day's lesson and activity to work on.  I will admit, some days I didn't get the work done, but that was okay because at some point I would catch up and continue to work through it.  After completing it, the work continued in the Peace Circle where the year has an overall theme to it, as well as a monthly theme.  Abundant Mama had me digging in and opening up, but I knew that I needed to go deeper, open up more.  So I have been a part of Peace Circle for two months at this point.

Things have began to fall into place, I am more ease and flow in the day.  I can be more flexible and bendy.  I am taking who I am and incorporating it into my day to day, finding dreams, and still going on adventures.  I am able to refuel and help refuel those around me, especially my family.  I can teach and still be a mom.  I can do my writing, my photography, my creative projects and help my kids grow their passions to as they see me grown mine.  I can treat myself and my health as a priority, and keep the kids health a priority.  I can find a better balance in my day, so that I can help create a better balance and flow in our days.

Sure, I am still working on it.  Just like knowledge, we are never done learning.  But I also know I can take a solid step forward, knowing who I am and who I am is okay.

If you are interested in the Abundant Mama Project course, you can find out more about it here:

Just know that it is home study now.  So, you get all the lessons at once to work through, instead of it being emailed to you daily.  It is still worth the investment in you.  Like it says, motherhood can be overwhelming.  But you can find a good solid footing to start where you are, move forward, and always have a spot to come back to if needed to reset.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Combining the Love of the North Shore With a Rock Collection

My kids love rocks. Rocks to climb on, rocks to hold, rocks to load, rocks to save, rocks to try to skip across the water.  Any size, color, shape.  It doesn't matter, they love rocks and our collection in the house keeps growing.

My oldest has random rocks he has collected on a shelf in his room that generally sit there.  But every now and then he pulls down his favorites to look at them or place in it's own spot in a different area of his room.  He has such a fascination for rocks.

My youngest has some he has collected.  One he calls his turtle rock because it reminds him of a turtle shell and a penguin because well, it is shaped like a penguin.  He generally picks up a rock and either plays with it outside or brings one into the house every now and then.

Both kids have jars from a trip last Summer of rocks they collected along Lake Huron.  I have rocks set out near the kitchen sink and in my room that were given as gifts to me from oldest.

On a recent trip to the North Shore we walked along one of the beaches in hopes of finding some neat rocks, maybe some sea glass, and just be closer to the water.  My oldest enjoyed looking at rocks, tossing them into the lake and trying his hand at creating his own rock stack.  He kept a few that he like most.  My youngest just picked some as he went along and filled a bag until I said enough, tossing rocks in the water, and touching the water.  I gathered some because they look unusual or like ones I hadn't seen before, and also looked for rocks to create a couple of dragonfly projects.

So now, we are left with a bunch of rocks.  Some smaller we have decided to polish up and see what happens.  But the bigger ones and the rest of the little, what to do?  We decided on the ones too small from the kids' collections to get a cool jar to hold them for in their rooms.  The bigger ones we used to make rock stacks.  Each kiddo has one and I have a couple too.

We placed the kids' rocks outside to see when we come and leave, mine are in our bathroom.  It is a fun way to connect the love of rocks, the North Shore, our memories from the trip, and our day to day.

It is a quick and easy project to put together too.  All I did was use hot glue to hold them together.