Saturday, November 29, 2014

Homemade Window Clings

I am trying to do my best with sticking to our budget and not spending extra on a whim while out shopping.  Darn Target makes it tough, but I am getting better.  There are just some things that are so much more convenient to buy though.  I love the idea of window clings.

There are so many cute ones out there and you can dress up the windows for the seasons and holidays.  I love it because it brings in fun and color, especially in the colder months.  My son has so much fun touching them and looking at them on the windows.

I am too cheap to spend the money on pre-made ones usually.  I usually end up buying something else for my son to use or play with, like bath tub paint.  But this year I wanted to try something different.  I enjoy being creative, so I keep an eye out for fun ways to be crafty and creative.

The idea of window clings came across my facebook feed.  My thought was I would be able to make some and maybe my son might be able to help.  Well, at 19 months you can guess the kind of help I got.  While I did most of the work, he did put forth a few suggestions like which colors to use or to make a certain shape.  Maybe next year he will help decorate them more.  Either way, we had lots of fun and are enjoying the fun colors they bring into the day.

They are so easy to make.  All you need is puffy paint, a surface you can peal them off of, and templates (unless you want to do them freehand).  By the way, most craft stores don't call it puffy paint anymore. They call it 3D fabric paint.  As for the surface to paint on, I highly recommend wax paper.  However, if you are like me and don't have any on hand, you can use a zip lock bag instead.  Whatever you decide to paint on, just make sure that you put the paint on thick, make sure all lines are connected, and you let dry overnight.

I found this amazing idea at Club Chica Circle.  Here is the link for the Puffy Paint Window Clings that I used:

She also has the templates there and more ideas.  I did the snowflakes first and they sort of worked out.  I had a hard time peeling them as they were so intricate.  I also did the ornaments and those worked out awesome. 

So, if you want to do a fun art project with your kiddos and have some brightly colored window decorations this is a great way to do that.  I will tell you, I used an entire six pack of puffy paints to make them.  I do plan on doing more throughout the year.  They are so much fun!

A Lesson in Gratitude

In late Summer I began to feel very drained.  Spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and most days physically.  I couldn't seem to figure out a way through it.  Then I came across Abundant Mama.  I have found that I can relate to what she writes, how she writes, and the deeper level it goes to.

I wanted so much to give the early to rise challenge a try.  I first tried Andy Andrews, but failed miserably by the second day.  I tried the Abundant Mama one, but failed miserably as well.  What was I doing wrong?  Why couldn't I get myself out of bed early, hopefully before my son, and at least get myself ready for the day?  This is when the drain seemed to be at it's strongest.

So, I stepped back for a moment to try to figure things out.  I knew I needed to get myself into some type of normal rhythm and routine.  I dug deeper.  Using Abundant Mama's ideas on creating a bedtime routine and morning routine, I slowly began to get back on track.  I also began to feel less drained with each day.

Odd, I never thought about having a bedtime routine for myself.  We have one for my son and has since the day he was born.  I think as adults we just keep going and going, then at the end of the day we crash.  It is always, just one more thing and then I will go to bed.  We forget to let ourselves unwind and unplug.

I began my bedtime routine in the begging of September.  I started with this first, because for me it seemed the easiest to do.  I had decided that I would create a morning one after I settled into something that felt right and worked for my bedtime one.

Here is where the lesson in gratitude comes into play.  I usually would say my prayers before falling asleep and would include some of the things I was thankful for from the day.  Nothing wrong with this, but I needed to do more.  I needed to dig deeper into me and deeper into my day.  I needed a change of perspective and focus.

I began to journal every night (part of my bedtime routine).  I started with listing five things I was grateful for from the day and then a to do list for the next day.  As time went by things began to change.  They changed with what I wrote in my journal and even more so, they changed with me. After a couple of weeks I went from writing a list of five things to ten.  Now, I start at the beginning of the day, review it in my head and write as I go along the things I am grateful for.  Sure there is repetition, but it doesn't change the fact that I am grateful to have them while they last.

I also noticed a change in my to do list.  It used to be specific items or task for the next day like vacuum, dust, run errands.  The list still includes those, but they also include things I need to remember to do like breath, slow down, listen, patience.  They are things that I struggled with in the day or where I felt at my lowest point.

The change in me was even bigger.  I began to feel ready for bed, slept better, and woke ready the day.  I was even beginning to feel less drained.  It was time to start a morning routine, my rise early me time.  I figured most mornings I was mostly awake just after my hubby got up, so I might as well just get up and get ready for the day.

The initial shock of getting up early didn't seem too bad and I adjusted to it quite quickly.  Unless it is the weekend and on a few other occasions, I get up when my alarm goes off at 5:30.  What was different this time that made me stick to it?

I had created a morning routine.  I would get up, get myself ready (you know, wash face, brush teeth, etc.), read through emails and facebook, get prepped for the day any thing I hadn't prepped the night before, have some down time, and do some yoga meditation.  This is my routine Monday through Friday.  Honestly, I am thinking of doing it on the weekends now as well.

I love my little routines and they help me feel more ready to go. They give me a sense of peace and calm.  They also allow me to be more flexible, go through the day with more intention, and to be able to slow down when needed.  While I do need to tweak a few things with both routines, I am feeling grateful for finally getting into gear and just doing it.

Early to rise and ready for bed.  My day begins the night before allowing me to be ready for the next day.  Take the time to plan things out, write them down, and give yourself the you time you need.  Focusing on the grateful things from the day can go a long way in improving all areas of your life as well.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Reflecting on Thanksgiving

Today, is the day after Thanksgiving.  For our family yesterday, it was just the three of us.  Some years we have traveled to spend it with extended family or stayed local and spend it with grandparents.  While I enjoy seeing family, spending time with them, and the wonderful conversations, I am happy to not travel as well sometimes.  When we stay home, we keep it low key and just spend the extra time together.

However we spend it, I am just thankful to have the extra time with family.  And the day after I enjoy taking the time to think on our blessings of the previous day's festivities, as well as the blessings of the year so far.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

This is What We Do & That's Okay

When you become a parent, even while you are pregnant, there are so many ideas out there.  So many how to and how not to.  Oh, and don't forget, everyone has their opinion of how to do stuff and are so willing to share (even when they don't have kids of their own).  The Internet, books, and people have so much to offer that sometimes it feels like we are failing or how we go about raising our kids is wrong.

It's not an all or nothing type of parenting.  It's parenting in the moment, while parenting in the long run.  While you may have the end goal in mind, like raising awesome adults, when you are in the moment you have to do what will work.  In the long run, it all works out anyways.  And deep down, you are a great parent and doing a good job.  Just listen to your gut and your heart and they will help guide you.

Here is a little something that I hope will help you feel more confident about your parenting skills.

Home birth or Hospital, Doctor or Midwife
If it works for you, that's okay
Cesarean or Natural delivery, Epidural or Nothing
If it works for you, that's okay
Co-sleeping or Crib
If it works for you, that's okay
Swaddling or Not
If it works for you, that's okay
Wearing your baby or Carrying your baby or Both
If it works for you, that's okay
Breast milk or Formula
If it works for you, that's okay
Purees, Baby led weaning, or Tiny bits of food
If it works for you, that's okay
Daycare or Stay at home
If it works for you, that's okay
Sleep training, CIO, or It's only a phase
If it works for you, that's okay
Cloth Diapers or Disposable
If it works for you, that's okay
TV or No TV
If it works for you, that's okay

I am sure the list can keep going.  Whatever you decide, decide what works for you, your little one, and your family.  Yes, they are only this little for so long and yes, this is only a phase, but try to get the most out of every day that you can in whatever way that you can. Try to end your day looking at what the good things from the day were.  Even though we make mistakes, take them, learn from them and grow.

The Mom I Thought I Would Be

When I was a teacher it gave me a glimpse into what having my own kids could be like.  I set it in my mind things I would do, wouldn't do, and what I would like to give a try.  Then, I had my own child.  While some of those things still come into play, there is a lot that has changed...mostly me.

For us, we knew that I was going to stay home.  Unless, once the time came and we either couldn't swing it financially or if it really didn't work for me and I wanted to work instead.  After we lost our daughter there was no question in my mind that I wouldn't let finances be a factor.  I wanted give it a try when we had our son.  And you know what? I wouldn't change it for the world.

For some though, they would rather stay in the workforce or they really can't swing it financially.  That is okay.  You do what works for you.  Me staying home works for us.

I had gotten myself on the hook of I have to make all the baby food purees.  Which you know, I did actually do it.  However, on occasion we did have jar food on hand because when you travel its way easier to dish up the stuff from a jar verses having frozen cubes of puree.  Not that we didn't try it that route the first time we traveled.

Thankfully, my son didn't stick with purees for very long as I am not sure how long I would have or could have gone making our own.  But I will tell you when you are working with a budget, it is very cost effective.  This making my own purees then led to making my own food pouches.  I would make them up ahead of time and freeze them.

I lasted for a few months doing this, but at last I lost my creative ideas for combinations, I was getting tired of spending several days prepping them, steaming, and putting the pouches together.  My son used to eat through two of them in day because I was the only way I could get him to eat veggies.  So, I went against my need for making my own, got back my time, and started buying them.  In the long run, not as cost effective, but hey, it meant that they were done and truly ready to go at any point.

After one of his wellness visits and the pediatrician reassuring us that he will get his need for vegetables in and we have to look beyond the day.  Over the course of the month, he will be fine.  Plus, he was entering the food stage of, sure I like it today, but no way will I be eating it tomorrow.  Then I realized how many servings he was really getting in a day when he had a pouch.  Way more than he needed, but lesson learned.

While on the topic of food, I had told myself we would not let him have fast food for as long as possible.  Yeah, that went out the window pretty quick when we visited dad for lunch and my son wanted to eat his dad's hamburger more than what I had made up for him.  Then Summer came and it was softball season.  So, every other week we were meeting dad for dinner and my son would have fast food.  Oh well, at least we got to spend time together as a family, it was only for the Summer, and we got some pretty cool books in the kid's meals.

This only scratches the surface.  We are only 19 months in, so there is more to come down the road.  What I do know is that no matter how much you prep or think about it, you have to be in the moment to really get an idea.  While I may have had all these big ideas, some may not work for us or some will change, and I won't know it until we get there.  Parenting is about flexibility where you can be and sticking to your guns when you need to. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Yup, it's snowing

It has been awhile since I have put my fingers to the keyboard to write.  Honestly, I have been wanting to write and been searching my brain for ideas.  So, I finally let go and decided to wait.  Sometimes, that is just the inspiration I need.

Today, is the first snowfall of the season.  We live in Minnesota and you never really know when the snow will start to come.  This year, we are lucky, it's almost the middle of November, and this is our first snow of the season.

When it comes, most Minnesotans aren't really happy, but they accept it.  Living in this state you know it's going to happen, but you are never really ready for it when it does.  Me, I don't mind the snow.  I just don't like the cold.  Last Winter was brutally cold more days than not.  This year, I am hoping for the snow, just not as many extremely cold days.

When it snows, to me, it always seems pretty.  While I may not be out in it, looking through the window watching it fall just mesmerizes me.  My favorite snow is when it gently falls and you can go outside, stand in the middle of the yard, and feel like you are in a snow globe.

I remember taking my little guy out in the first snowfall last year.  It was about this time, maybe a week or so earlier.  We watched out the backdoor at the snow gently falling.  His eyes lit up a little, so we bundled up and went out.  He was just mesmerized by it.  He was only 7 months at the time.

Each time we would go back inside, he wanted to go back out.  So, in and out we went for a half hour or so.  Then, I decided to bring a bucket full of the snow into the house for him to play.  He quite enjoyed it.

I often look at my son watching the world and wonder what it is like through his eyes to see things.  Sometimes for the first time ever and sometimes with knowing eyes.  And his sheer excitement at it all.  I think to myself, what happens to us as we get older that so many of us loose the joy and wonder.

Today, we will go out in the snow...that is if my son lets me get him all dressed for it. Last year I got one of my favorite pictures of him in the snow and just looking at it in awe. I wonder what this year will bring.