Friday, January 30, 2015

January's Challenge :: LOVE YOURSELF




As a wife and mother, I often times find that I put my needs/wants and best interests on the back corner in sake of my family. No one requires this of me; it's just simply who I am. I'm a giver, helper, facilitator. After 2 full years of being a full time stay at home Mom, I've realized a few things:
  1. I have to be the best me to be the best Mom for Connor.
  2. Feeling good about myself, inside and out, effects my marriage in a positive manner.
  3. It doesn't make you vein or shallow to want to take care of yourself
Some of my insecurities have been around since the beginning of time. Well, that's being dramatic but I would say it's safe to say that I've never been truly comfortable in my skin. Something about being a parent and seeing Connor grow so quickly in the last year has pushed me to turn my life around and start LOVING MYSELF MORE. Because damn it, I deserve to love me just as much as I love my husband, son and family.

I'm not in sure what it will take to make me truly feel comfortable with who I am. There are so many different areas of myself that I would like to work on and improve. To fully love and appreciate. I will always be a work in progress but one thing I know: THIS YEAR I WILL LOVE MYSELF.

Today is my first full day back in Ohio. Do you know how long I've wanted to say that? Over the next few weeks, Hell maybe even the whole month of February, I will be focusing on getting our house in order, creating a new place for Connor to call home. But I can promise you that I won't be putting my needs on the back burner for long. I plan to set-up our membership with the Y and start a workout routine and getting life back to normal!

Happy Friday friends!
 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Simple Way to Celebrate Valentine's Day with a Toddler

Before you have children, Valentine's Day is usually a holiday that's all about romance. Once babies come into the picture, though, things tend to change. Even if you do have romantic plans for Valentine's Day, you'll probably want to celebrate with your children too. Kids love holidays and traditions, and there are lots of fun ways to make Valentine's Day special.


Decorate Your Home
Most families decorate for Thanksgiving and Christmas so why not decorate the house in February in reds, pinks and all things love? Hit up Target's Dollar Spot for cute yet affordable decorations. Let the kids pick an area in the house to decorate and see where their imagination goes.

Make Homemade Valentine's
We spend a lot of time coloring, gluing and using glitter in our home. Cut out some construction paper hearts and glue them to white doilies found at most grocery stores and let the little ones create the perfect Valentine cards for their family and friends.

Get Crafty
Don't stop with making cards, use these free Valentine's Day printables and let them color a special page for their Mommy/Daddy or grandparent. These are perfect for loved ones far way. Place the colored page in an envelope, add a stamp and snail mail a bit of love.

Bake a Sweet Treat
Head into the kitchen and create a tasty treat to enjoy with your loved ones this February. Mary over at Eat Drink and Be Mary has great ideas that will surely be a big hit: Light Triple Chocolate Brownies and Rice Krispies Treats. Simple break and bake cookies work, too!

Start a Tradition
Holidays throughout the year are filled memorable traditions. Don't make Valentine's Day the exception. Having a breakfast full of heart-shaped pancakes is an easy way to start a new tradition this year. Give a small gift to your little one, attaching a list of reasons why you love them is something that would mean so much with little effort.

Shower Them With Love
Waking up to a HEARTfelt good morning would make anyone feel loved on Valentine's Day. Simply cut out small hearts from construction paper, write a note one each sharing something you love about your little one and tape them to their bedroom door or bathroom mirror.

However you spend this Valentine's Day, know that if nothing else, saying the words "I love you" to your child(ren) a little more often is okay, too. After all, isn't LOVE what the day is all about anyway?

{Connor on Valentine's Day 2014, 15 months}

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

My Thoughts :: One & Done

Three years ago this week, we started the process of getting pregnant. I'll spare you the obvious details but it was a fairly easy for us. I did some research and it said to try January 29th, 30th and 31st. We did just that and two short weeks later on February 13th, I took a test and discovered that we had in fact made a baby. I was very early on when I discovered I was pregnant but I thought what better Valentine's Day gift than telling your husband your pregnant?

My pregnancy was so perfect and easy. I never once had any concerns or issues. I gained a healthy amount of weight and took care of myself so that our baby was getting the very best. When we decided to have a baby we knew that once we meet him or her, our family would be complete. We would have been happy to have either boy or girl but the bottom line was that we were going to be a family of 3. Nothing more. So began my reign as a "One and Done" Momma.


I've talked about being a "One and Done" family often on here. I don't know if I've really every truly explained why I have these feelings. It's a mess of complicated feelings and thoughts, really. It's something that I don't take lightly and I am totally aware of the pros and cons in this decision.

Like all parents, I want the very best for Connor. I want him to experience life, have everything he wants and know unconditional love and attention from both parents. I want him to always know that he is the center of our worlds and that as his parents, we are his biggest fans and supporters. I want to be able to provide for his every need. My hopes for him are that he will succeed in life with our love and encouragement but still know the value of family, a hard days work and that money isn't the key to happiness.

Could all of this be accomplished if we were to have a second child? Of course. There are families all over the country that do this on a daily basis. I'm one of 3 so I know it can be done. So what really makes me hesitant on having another?

Here's the truth...

Parenting hasn't always been easy for me. For the first year of his life, Connor was sick so effin' much thanks to Texas allergies. Once he would rebound from a nasty allergy attack, he would get a cold or virus. That would work itself out and then BAM! We'd discover 2 new teeth popping through. By 18 months, Connor had every. single. one. of. teeth. Sounds joyful, right? Connor isn't a good night time sleeper, either. At almost 2 years and 3 months, he still wakes up nightly. We've had periods of time when he has slept through the night for a few weeks at a time but really, it's hit or miss and we are up nightly, bringing him into our bed. And all parents know how fun it is to sleep with a toddler! #shootmenow Connor is also a picky eater and refuses to eat any veggies. "Lucky" for him, I'm fairly good at hiding them in smoothies and he is none the wiser.

And really, how do moms of more than 1 do it all? I haven't yet been able to let go of being worried that the cleaning, laundry, errands, chores and shopping is all done. And done correctly. My house is always in order and I need it that way. Not because I care what someone might think but because order and cleanliness are necessary for my mental well-being. Thank you, OCD. You never let me down.

But no one said parenting was going to be easy. No one knows what kind of child they are going to be blessed with. Yes blessed. While Connor has given me a run for my money, he also has shown me true unconditional love. He has taught me to be patient, to listen, to give without expecting anything in return. He has been the best lesson of my life. Connor is a strong willed little guy and I sincerely hope he never loses that part of him. He will need it in this crazy crazy world.

Not only do I want to provide Connor will everything he could ever want, I also want to experience life as a wife, as an individual. I still want to date my husband and travel the world with him. Children make that a little tougher to manage. I want to grow as a person and not be someone who is known as just a Mom. I want a lot from life and one day, my only child will be raised and conquering the world and I'll have time to spend with my husband, exploring new places and being us again.

At times, I get caught up in the idea of Connor having to shoulder a lot of tough decisions because he won't have a sibling to turn too but let's be real here. I could either a) have trouble getting pregnant and lack the ability to give him a sibling, b) give him a sibling that he doesn't relate to or have a relationship with. Just because you're siblings doesn't automatically mean you will be forever friends or c) give him a younger sibling he has to take care of once we are gone.

There is just so much to consider and think about right now when it comes to the what ifs of expanding our family. Maybe one day something inside of me will make me turn to James and say "I want to have another baby." I can't say that I know for sure what we want because months before getting pregnant with Connor, I was considering having a 5 year birth control put in. Life is funny like that. Sometimes you know exactly what you want and other times you have no damn clue.

Right now, our family is perfectly complete. Our home is full and our hearts are happy. Could that change in 2-3 years? Yes of course. But the bottom line is that of today, we are the family that God wants us to be. We are a happy, loving, odd numbered family of 3. And I wouldn't want it any other way.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

MTT :: Top 10 Indoor Toddler Activities


With wet and cold temps pushing out the warm, sunny days we are used to, it's time for me to start thinking outside the box and find ways to entertain Connor INDOORS. I try to get out of the house at least 3 days a week and do things our 2 year old will enjoy. Over the last month, we've enjoyed our fair share of indoor fun.

ONE: Bowling

Bowling wasn't the hit I had hoped it to be but we enjoyed 30 minutes of play before moving on the arcade/game room. 2 hours later, we had spent just enough time having fun and C was ready for his nap. You can also try ice skating if you have a place local that offers such fun.

TWO : Barnes and Noble

I've shared once before how much Connor LOVES visiting our local book store. He runs straight to the train table and will play quieting for a good 45 minutes. I usually bring a book with me and read while he plays.

THREE : Pet Store

Can we say free zoo? From the fish to the kittens to the birds, little ones loves visiting the animals. I usually pick up a couple needed items for our cat Rudy while at the pet store and it gives us a little break from the rush rush of errands.  

FOUR : Movie Day

When I need to tackle a few tasks around the house but don't want the "help" of a 2 year old, I will let C cuddle up on the couch with his favorite movie. Depending on which one he picks, I can get 45-60 minutes of somewhat free time to do chores or tackle dinner.

FIVE : Play Dough

I know this one can get a bit messy but it's my go to when I need to keep Connor in place so I can start dinner or unload groceries. He makes a mess every time but he loves playing play dough, creating a recent favorite, Charlie Brown's house.

SIX : Crafts and Coloring

We do A TON of crafting and coloring in our home. One of my favorite places to get crafts from is Oriental Trading. I recently made a purchase of 9 different crafts and split the packs with girls in my Mom group. I save these for days when I need to just 10-15 more minutes. Works like a charm.

SEVEN : Local Museums

Austin has a fabulous children's museum called The Thinkery. We love visiting and could easily spend 3 hours playing with music instruments, water fun, clay and watching shows and listening to music. We have a similar museum about 15 minutes from our home in Dayton and I can't wait to take C.

EIGHT : Library

Do yourself a favor and visit your local library's website, find their calender and take in all that's offered! You will be surprised by how many FREE events your branch hosts. From reading time to music classes to holiday themed parties there is so much to do at no cost to you.

NINE : Chick fil A

If you plan to meet friends for lunch or head there after a morning play date, why not hit up your local Chick fil A? Grab lunch and when you are finished, let the little ones burn of the last of their energy in the restaurants indoor play area. I recently discovered that you can turn in the toy inside your child's kid meal for a ice cream cone. Let them play while you reward yourself for being a wonderful Mom with a little sweet treat. Sharing is optional of course.

TEN : Visit the mall

Yes, I'm telling you to go to the mall! But not for retail therapy... sorry! Grab your stroller and head to the local mall. Do a little mall walking and finish it off with a stop at the children's play center. While this is scary to those of us germaphobes, just bring some antibacterial wipes and clean your little one's hands and face before heading home.

While the majority of these activities help us get out of the house each week, I wanted to be sure to add some that work for days you can't get out of the house as easily. What do you do to keep your little one(s) busy doing the cold winter months?

Wife Mommy Me

Monday, January 26, 2015

Toddler Bible Study :: Lesson 2 - LOVES

Teaching your child to love themselves while also loving others is so vital. Especially in this social media obsessed world. Sharing God's word, filled with unconditional LOVE, is a simple yet powerful reminder that God has loved us long before we graced the world. His love is unfailing. I challenge you to demonstrate LOVE to your little one even on the hardest parenting days, just as Christ does when we fall short in our walk with Him. 

Click HERE to download a printable version of the image above.
Need details on our Toddler Bible Study Introduction? Click HERE.
 ....
Week 1 :: Listens

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Social Sunday :: Link & Mingle Week 19

Hello, ladies! Welcome to round 19 of the Link & Mingle!
Meet our seven amazing hosts:
Stephanie | Wife Mommy Me Reagan | Reagan the Recipe Hoarder 
Natalie | Keeping Up With Makayla & Alexis | A Blissful Haven

 [ if you are interested in co-hosting this link-up, please email mannerofjoy@gmail.com or leave a comment below ] 

S u g g e s t i o n s:
Follow the hostesses  Add your links Visit the links of at least two other Link & Minglers Have a great time! The Link & Mingle will now run from Thursday morning to Wednesday night so that more people will have a chance to join.
Copy the code beneath the button to share the Link & Mingle on your site:
Link & Mingle
[ share "#linkandmingle" if you link up! ]
 
 





Friday, January 23, 2015

Conversations with Connor

Connor is a talker. Little guy is chatty chatty. If you make eye contact with him, he is going to talk to you. You've been warned. He has the sweetest voice and just loves to share his thoughts with you. There is no holding back. The best part of talking with him is when he tilts his head to the side and brings his face close to yours, just to make sure you are listening. He just sucks you into his world and quiet frankly, it's a pretty fun one to be in.


Me: Can I love you?
CJ: No.
Me: Why not?
CJ: Because I'm kind of busy. 

"I sit on your lap, Momma?" -I'm not an overly mushy Mom but can fully admit that when he stops asking that sweet question, this Momma's heart will ache.

"Momma, Elmo is messy. He needs help" as he {not so delicately} brushes Elmo's hair

CJ: "Where we going?"
Me: "To the grocery store and Target."
CJ: "Target?"
Me: "Yes."
CJ: "I need my shoes and book bag. Let's go." -Someone loves the bulls-eye a little too much!

CJ: "This tastes good."
Me: "You don't lick the play dough Connor. That's gross."
CJ: "Whoopsie daisy."

Once during bedtime prayer, Connor thanked Jesus for his blue blanket. It's in moments like this that I'm reminded that life can be fairly simple if you allow it and that the day he parts with blue "bankie", I'll always remember when he thanked Jesus for such little comforts.

Connor: "My blanket smells"
Me: "Like what?"
Connor: "Dinosaurs"
Me: "Maybe I should wash it"
Connor: "No, Momma. I need to smell the dinosaurs" -When do they stop being strange little human beings?

When parenting a 2 year old life is always exciting but once they find their voice and realize the power of it, things take on a whole new level of amazing. I am truly blessed to be apart of Connor's conversations. 

Happy Friday, friends!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Book Review: Becoming Us

Becoming Us by Amy Daws 

 
Synopsis from Goodreads: The dreaded friend-zone... the last place I ever want to be with college basketball God, Jake LaShae. I am losing my mind trying to figure out what this gorgeous and confident man wants from me. I need to break through his walls. What is it about me that makes him not go there? What am I lacking? When a mind-blowing betrayal knocks the wind out of me, and I think I can't feel any lower...Brody stumbles into my path—barefoot no less, and sexy as hell. His direct and mouth-watering swagger is a breath of fresh air. The feelings this man gives me are like nothing I've ever experienced. But Brody has a past. A past that makes it nearly impossible for him to trust me and let us become us in whatever capacity that may be. Just when Brody and I truly connect, just when I think that finding my soul-mate in college isn't a total joke, Jake comes back into my life…and messes things up…possibly for good.


My thoughts: After reading A Broken Us and falling in love with Finley and Brody's story, I was eager to learn of how they meet and fell in love. Becoming Us gives readers a realistic taste of how easily love can be earned and lost with foolish mistakes our of youth. While I was uncertain of who's side I was one after reading Amy's first book in The London Lovers Series, I am truly a Team Brody member once I finished Daws' latest book. If Finley was someone I would meet in real life, I don't think I would be a big fan of hers. She makes decisions quick without thinking of others and as a college student, really needs to grow up. On the other hand, Brody is someone that you just can't help but adore. A man who knows what he wants and doesn't let outside pressures ruin his life. If you've every struggled with being "good enough" in a relationship, I highly recommend you read Becoming Us.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Meet Christine :: My So-Called Homemaker


Hi everyone! I'm Christine and I blog over at The So-Called Homemaker. I'm a wife, and I'm a Mom to a two-year old daughter, and let me tell you, staying healthy can be tough! I am always looking for ways to make the process a little easier. Today I'm sharing on of my favorites with all of you!

I hate the idea of counting calories. I really, really do. It seems so obsessive to always be counting and measuring everything you eat. With that being said, however, I do have a confession to make. I am a calorie counter.

I know, I know, it seems so hypocritical. And maybe it is a little bit. But when I started really trying to lose weight last year, I was having the hardest time. It seemed like I was never losing anything, or I would hit a plateau after only a few pounds. But one day while browsing on the Apple store for apps to help with my weight loss, I found one that has changed everything.



The app is called MyNetDiary, and it's great! Since I've started using this app and the full website that syncs to it, I have been steadily dropping weight - and in a healthy way! The trick to weight loss is that as you lose weight, your daily calorie needs also decrease, so if you don't adjust how much you're eating, you will hit the dreaded "weight plateau" that has beaten us all at some point.


When you first log on and go to the "Plan" tab you tell it how much you weigh, what your weight goal is, and what date you want to reach your goal by. It will then adjust how many calories you should eat per day in order to reach your goal by the date specified. It will also ask you how active you are in general - make sure that you are as accurate as you can be when you pick how active you are. Nobody will be able to see it and judge you, and it is important so that the website can calculate how many calories you need to eat per day. As you lose weight and enter your new "current" weight, it will readjust your calorie needs automatically!

mynetdiary2


Then all you do is just track what you eat every day! This is just a small snip-it of one of my days.. This doesn't even show you everything the site tracks: sodium, trans fats, saturated fat, cholesterol, etc. And there is a HUGE food database to search. Any food added by every member is added to the database for all other members to use. When using the iPhone app, you can even scan bar codes and it will enter the foods for you automatically.

Sometimes you will be pleasantly surprised by how few calories something has, but many times, you will be shocked by how many calories some things have. Before using this site, I would make a meal (say, spaghetti) and think it wasn't so bad - vegetables in the sauce, right?! But we don't realize how quickly the carbs and sugars and things add up! As I have used the site more, I'm able to start estimating some things, especially things that I like to eat a lot, like toast with Smart Balance butter in the morning, or Frosted Flakes. I stop measuring and start eyeballing once I've eaten it a couple times and have an idea of what the serving size looks like.

This site would also be great for people who are keeping track of other things such as carbs, sugars, fats, sodium, etc., because it tracks all those too! There are so many other features to this site that are worth looking into - like the ability to track calories burned through exercise - but I've said enough for today. Download the app or go to the website and try it out if you're trying to lose weight, because I am sure it will help! Bonus: If you purchase the Pro app for $3.99, you will get access to the membership benefits from your phone without paying a monthly subscription! If you try the website, let me know what you think in the comments!

A note from Christine and Stephanie: This is not a sponsored post. Christine simply loves this website and hope that you will, too. The data shown above is her personal data, not examples provided by the site.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

How I Keep My Blog Organized

It's not news to anyone around these parts that I'm OCD. I have a system in place for pretty much everything I do. I like following steps to accomplish tasks. After a while these steps just become my rhythm, where I do things automatically. It's fairly simple in my world: organization is key. One area that I have to be very organized is my blog. Without a few tools and daily check lists, I would be the world's messiest blogger.


I use each tool daily. Well, maybe not the white out but you never know. It might be 2015 but I'm still very much a paper planner girl. While there are tons to choose from, I use a simple monthly view planner that I picked up at Barnes & Noble. When I get an idea of a post, I jot it down on the calender. I simply pick a date and write it in. That helps so much when I'm hit with writer's block. Once the post is written and scheduled in Blogger, I highlight it. Simple enough, right? Sometimes I'm able to bust out 3-4 blogs post a day if Connor naps really well or if James is gone in the evening and I have a little more free time. I color code things too to catch my attention. If a post is going to need linked up with another blogger, I underline it in red and it's an easy reminder. Post-it notes are used to write down little reminders or do quick mail or when I find a blog I like, I'll jot it down on a post-it. I have a personalized Wife Mommy Me notebook thanks to Mister and that's where I keep all my sponsorship information. I'm sure there is a more techy way to collect that info, but like I said before... I dig paper. Here is what this month looks like. 


I don't have a lot of time in the morning to spend on blog orientated tasks so I've found a system that works for me. Each morning, I pull up Wife Mommy Me and click on today's post. I get the unique url for that post and add it to my Facebook blogger group. Takes just a couple seconds. I then add that post to my Wife Mommy Me Facebook page and then exit Facebook. Next is Google+, which we all know is a bit confusing but I'm still working with it. I share my post with Google+ and then I'm done with networking for the day. During the day when I receive emails with comments on a post, I move the email to a designated folder and follow up with them when I have time later on in the day.

Simple office supplies and a quick checklist make blogging Monday through Friday painless. It took me a while to figure out a system that worked but once I got a planner, to plan out my posts and jot my thoughts in, blogging got a whole lot more manageable. Happy blogging!

 


Monday, January 19, 2015

Project Connor 365 :: Days 1-7

I decided at the beginning of January to tackle a year long photography project. And what better person to photograph than Connor Frankenstein. Project Connor 365 will simply be me using my Canon Rebel T3 daily {instead of my iPhone} to snag photos of C doing nothing but being himself. I am hoping to do something big and grand with all these photos once the year is up BUT until I figure out what, I'm going to share them here.







I think my favorite photos in this collection would be day 6 or 7. He was playing pirates in day 6 and I don't know what he thought was so funny but that picture is just priceless. Day 7 just captures his sweet face, smile and personality. Life is good with C and these photos truly share who he is in this season of his life.