Thursday, June 28, 2018

Invest in Your Marriage ~ Keep Dating Your Spouse, Even After Kids

So back in February, I did the Abundant Mama Program.  It has taking me on a journey of reflecting where I came from and how far along I have come.  It has allowed me to reflect while digging in deep, showing me where things needed to change going forward.

There are tough days in life, there always will be.  In motherhood, we face them more often it seems. It may be a day, it may just be a moment, or it may be a season or a phase.  It seems easy to balance you and your marriage, but when you add in kiddos, you are facing a whole different balance needed.

Often once kids are in the picture a lot of things get pushed aside.  Which completely makes sense.  They are totally dependent on those who are taking care of them.  But it is a phase.  They will grow out of it and things will change again.

Again and again we ride this wave.  Priorities shift and number one today maybe not be the same tomorrow, or next week, or next month.  Heck, it may not even be the same in the next minute or hour.

What happens over time when we keep it going that way?  Giving less and less to the other areas of our lives?  Yes, I know with changes, some stuff gets let go of because it has to.

But on a basic level, lets remember something.  There is you.  You got married.  Congrats!  Now you are a spouse.  Then you decide to grow your family.  Aw, such amazing, beautiful little miracles begin to be added to your family.

Now what?  Yes, it is the decisions you made.  But who says that once you have kids your marriage should get pushed to the side?  Yes, I know, you ask, how do I find time for my marriage? For myself?  For my career?  My hobbies?  And the list goes on and on.  There are many pieces to this life puzzle.

But, what happens when you don't keep connecting the pieces every so often?  Remember, it's you. then you added a spouse, then you added growing your family.

Kids need to see what marriage is.  How do mom and dad take care for each other?  How do they show love?  With a solid marriage, kids will feel safe, loved, and will thrive.

But how do we keep our marriage solid and still raise a family?  It's not as easy to go on a date night, or just have couple time often.  I will admit, my kids talk...a lot.  When we are all home, the two of them are going nonstop.  It is hard for my hubby and I to usually get a conversation in, let alone finish a sentence sometimes.  Doesn't matter where we are, what we are doing, or even in the car.  The kids voices are heard over everything, all the time.

How do you take time for your marriage at all stages so that when the kids are grown and moved out, you can still know each other, have a conversation, spend time as a couple, and continue your marriage?  Even if you can't get out of the house?

Do you remember before marriage?  Do you remember dating your spouse?  Once married, in a way you still continued to date each other.  You would find time for your work, yourself, and your spouse. 

When you have kids, you still need to continue this.  Even if that means finding a way to do date nights at home for awhile.  Still flirting.  Still leaving notes for each other.  Talk to each other when you can, snuggle too.  Give affection, hugs and kisses even when kiddos can see.

Keep dating.  Keep flirting.  Keep that spark going. 

At the end last year in the focus group I am a part of with author and speaker Jill Savage, we helped create an awesome resource called flirt alert.  They are simple messages or things you can do for your spouse.  You can print off the pdf list, pick which one you want to do, and when.  You can receive daily emails, which is a great way to then easily pass along to your spouse.  Or even sign up for texts.  Just copy and past and pass along.   You can find Flirt Alert here:  Maybe it give you inspiration and help create your own.

Another idea, because sometimes coordinating schedules, finding a babysitter, and trying to make things budget friendly is hard to do sometimes, is date nights in.

My hubby and I had one of these recently.  We sat on the porch, ate custard, and chatted.  I realized how important it is to give ourselves time to chat more often when we were in the car just ourselves.  The silence was different, as I have gotten used to having the kids chatting, music going.  But this time it was just us for a longer drive on a beautiful evening on the way to dinner.  The kids were riding in my parent's car.  At first, the silence was nice.  But then felt a little awkward as it was like, what can or should we talk about while we can have an actual conversation.

As hard as it is to let others watch our kiddos, it is what we need, our spouse needs, and our kids too.  I know, I have a hard time with letting go of control.  Letting others watch my kids.  Missing the bedtime rituals we have created, like rocking, snuggling, reading, singing.  It's hard.  I know it is.  It is something I am still working on, but I am getting better with it.

Just like you need to continue to invest into yourself and your kids, you need to keep investing into your marriage.  Because just like any investment, it takes time, patience, and consistency, but the reward later on down the road is well worth it, for everyone.

How do you spend time with your spouse since having kids?

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Finding a New Way to Write ~ Acrostic Poem Style

I have been enjoying some creative poem writing lately.  I have found a joy in creating acrostic poems.

The idea came to me through the Abundant Mama Program and Peace Circle.  Each month there is a theme and we are given a word to turn into an acrostic poem.

It can be as simple as finding one word that starts with each letter of the main word. Think of different words that start with each letter.  Then pick the ones that resonate most with you.

For example, let's take the word Smile. See, More, Intrigue, Loving, Everyday

Another way is to make it into sentences with each letter of the main word at the start.  Let's take the word smile again. Seeing myself stretching, Moving mindfully, Into the space around me, Letting myself listen and learn, Enveloping myself in the moment.

It is a fun way to write and let your mind create a flow with words.  As I create the poems I am going to share with you what I write.  If you want to join in, try creating your own acrostic poem and leave it in the comments using the word that I use in the post.

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!