You Are A Good Parent

Today, more than ever, I need the reminder that I am a good parent. I came home from a workday where I started working at 6:00 AM and ended when I drove into the driveway at 7:00 PM. I was greeted by an emotional time bomb of a toddler.

After having his beloved blanket in my car all day, he grabbed it from me and started laughing like an overly exhausted, slightly deranged, cartoon character version of himself. It threw me off so much that I started to laugh like a crazed person myself.

Once we both chilled out, it was time for his bath, and well, lets just say that’s when things really escalated. I’m pretty sure my neighbors thought I was murdering my child, but really, I was just turning on the bath water. The multiple attempts of escaping the tub and the crocodile tears streaming down his face, forced me to cave and give him the quickest bath of his life.

After releasing him from his “prison,” I cradled him as he took deep, exasperated breaths, and tried my best not to cry. I’ll be honest with you, I felt defeated. I felt like a failure.

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I dressed him in his jammies, we read a few books, and I tucked him into bed. As I was turning off his light and looked back at him he said “night, night mommy. I love you!” All of the anxiety I felt just washed away. I looked at his sweet face and remembered that I am a good parent!

My kid is happy (99% of the time), he’s surrounded by a fantastic support system, he’s constantly laughing, he has lots of little friends, and he is loved more than he will ever know. Yes, he is combating all of the fun (she says sarcastically) emotions of being a two-year-old, and yes, I felt like crawling up into a ball to cry, but at the end of the day I know that I AM A GOOD PARENT.

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If you ever feel defeated just repeat this mantra: I AM A GOOD PARENT! I AM A GOOD PARENT!

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My Vow to be a Present Parent

I am very fortunate to work in a profession that I love so much – nonprofits. I can go to bed every night and know that the work I put in for the day has made a true difference in the lives of those within my community. I love what I do, but I love being a mom more than anything.

Since I work Monday through Friday, and some weekends, I don’t get to be with my boys as much as I would like. In a perfect world, I would be a stay-at-home mom and make a salary at the same time, but that’s not the case.

When I’m not working and I’m with my boys, I try to make a conscious effort to be fully present. Now, I’m not perfect and I don’t take my own advice sometimes. It’s so easy to grab ahold of the phone when feeding the baby or sitting on the couch with my two-year-old and scroll through Instagram or Twitter.

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We’ve become so overwhelmed by the alluring nature of technology and social media, we often miss out on the most precious moments of life. What are you going to value most at the end of your time here on this planet, the last tweet you sent or the smile on kid’s face? The answer seems pretty simple to me.

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I am making a vow right here, right now, and I want you all to hold me accountable, that I will be ever present for every feeding, snuggle, and moment with my children. Let me tell you folks, time flies, and without the invention of a time machine, it’s just going to keep progressing.

I am going to be a present parent! Will you?

How to Get the Boy Mom Look

Now, I have something very important to tell you and it might come as a shock to you…I am a boy mom! I know, it’s shocking! Who would have guessed?!

My life is outnumbered by some extremely handsome gentlemen. It’s like living in a frat house and I just so happen to manage it.  Since I work on my own personal Greek Row, I have mastered my boy mom look. It’s not entirely glamorous, but it allows me to get the job done with a smidge of style.

Here’s how to build the perfect boy mom look:

Boy Mom Style

Closed toe shoes – No mom is ever fully protected unless she is wearing closed toe shoes, especially with boys. I rely on my trusty Converses (my shoe of choice since middle school) to protect me from the dangers of “death by Lego.” There is nothing more painful than running around the house barefoot, chasing your toddler, and stepping on a hidden Lego. Truly, nothing as painful.

Long short sleeve shirt – I’m not only wearing a long t-shirt to hide my post-pregnancy bod, but to protect my dignity. Have you ever had your child pull your shirt up in public so they could put their stuffed alligator under your shirt? No? Well let me tell you, it’s an experience. For some reason there is a fascination to lift my shirt and hide things under it (shakes her head in confusion). Also, when you have boys, you are constantly lifting, tossing, and spinning, so a long shirt eliminates the exposure of unwanted areas.

Shorts – Running around preventing your child from jumping off platforms, frolicking in the street, or flying of the playground slide, requires comfortability, breathability, and functionality. You can certainly do this in jeans, but you’ll just be hot as hell.

Flannel shirt or sweatshirt – Did I mention I’m a style icon (she says sarcastically)? Well, I am, in my own mind, and I like to accessorize with flannel. Now, I don’t wrap a flannel around my waist for 90s nostalgia, but to keep my shirt down and in place. Remember when I mentioned earlier my son likes to lift my shirt and hide things? Well, with my handy, dandy flannel, this no longer happens.

Diaper Bag – With two kids, in particular two boys, I need a diaper bag that can move with the energy of a toddler and hold all of the snacks, toys, and diapers a mom can possibly possess. My FAWN Design diaper bag gives me the functionality of a backpack and much needed style! Seriously, this is best bag for parents with multiple children.

Mama Gear – I like to call myself a mama bear, so I like to proudly display my self proclaimed title. My bangle from Just Bee Charmed allows me to do just that! I am obsessed with the quality of work, customer service, and personalization of each bangle Just Bee Charmed offers. Get yourself one TODAY!

Just Bee Charmed

Messy Bun – The general “mom look” is only complete with the addition of a messy bun. Let’s be honest, we can save time and ourselves from the torture of having our hair ripped out. Also, running around and chasing the little ones can get hot and sweaty. Having hair stick to the back of your neck is annoying and not cute.

Now that you have the basic understanding of the “mom look” go out there, embrace your boy mom style and raise some outstanding young men!

To My Husband on Father’s Day

With Father’s Day this weekend, I wanted to take a few moments and gush over my husband. I am beyond fortunate to have found my person when I was 14-years-old. Not many people can say they found their soulmate in high school, but I can!

Douglas and Hannah High School

Wow! Throwback!

When we started dating, I knew in the depths of my soul we were going to be together forever (dun dun dun!). The idea of getting married and having kids with him was more than a dream, I knew it was going to be my reality.

This man is not only a phenomenal husband and best friend, but he is also a stellar father to my boys. When we found out we were having our first son, we were overjoyed. I remember looking over to my husband when the ultrasound tech gave us the news, and the look on his face was priceless. His eyes filled with tears of joys and he grabbed my hand and squeezed it tightly.

Rorie and Douglas

Photo courtesy of Hillary Carpio Photography

I looked at the monitor where the first image of my baby boy was proudly displayed and thought of how fortunate this baby was to have him as not only a father, but as a role model. My husband is hardworking, committed to his family, loving, and a true gentleman.

He does everything in his power to make sure my kids know how much they are loved. The words “I love you” are said nonstop in our household. He also expresses his love for me in a way that sets the perfect example for how they should love others.

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Even during the rage of a toddler tantrum, my husband is beyond encouraging. He helps my son work through all of those baby hulk emotions. When my son can’t decide what snack he wants and bounces from crackers to goldfish to yogurt, he shows an immense amount of patience (honestly it can be a 30-minute decision-making process).

In a world full of corruption, I know my sons will make a difference. They will be loving, kind, nonjudgmental, supportive, and advocates in their community. The positive impact they make will be because they have two parents who do their best in raising them, but more importantly they have an outstanding dad!

When I see the love of my life with my baby boys, my heart just melts and I see all of my dreams coming true! Thank you sweetheart for loving me and blessing me with the two best kids around. We love you!

Summer 2017 Family Music Playlist

It’s a rare day if my family is not playing some sort of music or dancing around the house. I do my best to change up the music we listen to, but it’s often easy to default to our “go-to” playlist.

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Since we are now officially into the summer season, I wanted to spice up our jams. Here are our go-to songs/albums for the next few months (or longer, which is extremely likely)!

Trolls (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack): We were just introduced to Trolls via Netflix and let’s just say, WE LOVE IT! I’m so sad we haven’t been watching this for months. One of the main reasons we truly enjoy this flick is because of the music. The soundtrack, all of it, is just wonderful, cheery, and upbeat, just like any successful summer vacation should be.

Harry Styles – Carolina: I was never one to listen to One Direction, but now I’m sad I didn’t, because Harry Styles’ voice is that of an angel. As a Carolina girl, of course I love the song, but my toddler loves to bob his head and tap his foot to this uniquely upbeat song. “Oh yeah!”

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Awesome Mix Vol. 2: We loved the Awesome Mix Vol. 1 and still play it all of the time, so to say we were excited to get our hands on the Vol. 2 is an understatement. There is something about blasting “Mr. Blue Sky” by Electric Light Orchestra that pumps up the entire the family. SPOILER ALERT – we are dancing around the living room like toddler Groot in the opening scene. Watching my two-year-old dance to this song just confirms that he would be the perfect little Groot for Halloween (now that’s an idea!).

Ed Sheeran – Shape of You: I know what you’re thinking, “that’s a strange selection Hannah.” You could be right, but this is the first song our 2-month old heard on the way home from the hospital, so it holds a special place in my heart. Ed was the first artist both of my boys heard when they entered this world. His soulful sound usually lulls my babies to sleep, but this song is so catchy, all we want to do is dance!

Dwayne Johnson – You’re Welcome (from Moana): I often listen to Disney playlists, because I love to belt out a princess tune from time to time, and recently I came across the Moana soundtrack. We haven’t seen Moana yet, because the toddler was too little to go to the theatre, but we are looking forward to the day it becomes available on Netflix. While we wait to watch it, we love listening to soundtrack, in particular Mr. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s song “You’re Welcome.” Who would have thought a WWE Champ would steal our hearts with his musical stylings?

Talking about these great songs/albums has me wanting to bust a move!

What’s on your family’s summer playlist?

7 Tips for Streamlining Your Morning Routine with Kids

Can we all agree, mornings with multiple children can be the hardest time of the day? My toddler is a creature of habit and expects his morning routine to remain consistent. I was able to provide my slightly OCD child the comfort of his routine, but then we added a newborn into the mix, and it all changed.

I came to a point, where I said to myself, “Hannah, why don’t you work smarter not harder?” After I had this Zack Morris from Saved by the Bell moment (pan out to a scene of self narration), I decided I was going to streamline my morning routine.

Now, instead of hearing my alarm go off in the morning and frantically leaping out of bed to care for my newborn while simultaneously getting my two-year-old ready for the day, I roll over check my phone and leisurely step out of bed. I don’t know about you, but I sure do prefer a calm morning with my boys.

Here are tips to streamlining your morning routine:

1. Check Your Weather App – Let’s be honest, you’re probably reading this on your phone. Since you already have your mobile device up and running, pull up that Weather App and check what the temp will be like for the next day. I always check what the weather is going to be prior to putting my two-year-old down for bed and lay out the boy’s clothes for the day. I also take time to layout my outfit and accessories (if I feel daring enough).

2. Shower the Night Before – Now, I know this is big statement to make. For many individuals they self identify as morning or evening shower-takers. For me, I am prone to taking a nighttime shower because it helps relax me, but more importantly it saves me a bunch of time in the morning. If you feel daring enough to make the change to an evening washer, I encourage you do so.

3. Get Yourself Ready First – You’ve already laid out your clothes, so you should be able to quickly and efficiently dress yourself for the day. There is nothing quite as frustrating as trying to get yourself together while your baby starts screaming for food and your two-year-old asks to be picked up simultaneously. If you’re already dressed, caring for a hungry baby and demanding toddler is much easier to manage.

4. Baby’s Feeding Routine – Once I’ve put myself together, I give myself time to feed the baby prior to getting my toddler up for the day. I’ve worked on the little one’s schedule to prep him for a 30-minute feeding with enough cushion time to get him relaxed before waking the two-year-old beast (she says in the most loving way).

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5. Simplify Morning Hygiene – Every night before I go to bed, I lay out the toothpaste, tooth brush, face wash, and wash cloth for my son in the morning. Once he’s dressed, we pop in the bathroom and everything is already put together.

6. Have Breakfast Ready to Go – Have I mentioned before that my two-year-old is a creature of habit? Well, he is! Every morning before school he watches Bubble Guppies and/or Peppa Pig, drinks his juice, and enjoys his breakfast. At night, I go ahead and make his juice cup, charge up his iPad, and have the plate/bowl and silverware laid out, ready to go.

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7. Be Consistent – It’s so important to remain consistent. My toddler and even the baby boy know what the routine is each and every day. Since they know what’s going to take place, it makes everything run much more smoothly.

These are just a few things I do to help keep our mornings moving while maintaining our peace-of-mind. What are your tips and tricks?

Now excuse me as I go and prep for the next day!

Parenting the Best of Each Decade

It seems we are always asking ourselves, what is the best way to parent? Now, I certainly do not have the answer (could you imagine if I did? I would be a millionaire), but what I do know is how I parent my children.

I look at the generations before me, in particular those closest to me, and think to myself, “well they turned out pretty good” (mom and dad you’re perfect J). So, what did my great grandparents, grandparents, and parents do when raising their kids?

The Girls

Four Generations

I’ve realized I am raising my children with bits and pieces of tactics from the amazing parents that came before me. Here are what I believe are the best parts of parenting styles through the decades.

1950/60 – During the 50s and 60s there was the method of trustful parenting; the idea of letting kids explore without rules and restrictions. Now don’t go to thinking I’m letting my two-year-old gallivant around the neighborhood without supervision. I don’t even want to envision what that would look like. When it comes to exploration, I encourage my little ones to discover new things (with safety boundaries of course). There is nothing like seeing your kid’s face when they discover something new and exciting!

1970 – Before I dig into the parenting style of instinctive parenting, I must preface that I do ask for help and guidance when I need it; sometimes I just don’t know what to do.  Parents of the 70s trusted that they knew what they were doing when it came to raising and caring for their kids. I try my best to be confident in the decisions I make when it comes to my children. Are they always the best methods? No, but I learn from them and move forward on what’s best for my kiddos.

1980/90 – As a child of the 90s, there is absolutely nothing (in my opinion) that can touch the decade that brought us the Blues Traveler, jellie sandals, and Fruitopia. I should also add, that I think my parents did a good job raising us to be independent, self sufficient, and hardworking individuals. The 80s and the 90s really focused on independence. We understood and appreciated self play; we let our imaginations take over. My toddler is great at playing with his little friends at school, but he is also a wonderful self player. I will often catch him playing with his toys, acting out a scene, and laughing. His imagination takes over!

Baby Hannah

Baby Hannah via 1991

2000/Now – I am a child of the 90s, but I am a parent of the here and now. Like most millennial parents (is that a bold statement to make?), we focus on the emotions – our emotions, their emotions, and the emotions of others. When my son is having a “toddler moment.” I’m right on it, talking him through all of his feelings. To be honest, my hope is that the atmosphere of openness I am developing within my family, will create a true and positive line of communication between all of us. I want my kids to feel comfortable coming to me and expressing their feelings no matter what.

My Boys

My Boys – Photo by Hillary Carpio Photography

So, what does it mean to be a good parent? I’m not sure, but I am being the best parent I can be for my kids. I’ll have my victories and my losses, but in the end, I know my kids are well loved and I would do anything for them.

3 Simple Ways to Raise Charitable Children

Over the weekend my family participated in the Charlotte Take Steps for Crohn’s and Colitis walk in support of The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. This is the second year we have taken part of this event with Team Christian B.

My two-year-old has had an active role in raising awareness for Crohn’s and Colitis for each year of his life and our newest addition is starting the trend as well. As a nonprofit employee, advocate, and volunteer, I understand and appreciate the work of the nonprofit, but especially the individuals who commit their time to various causes.

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As a parent who hopes to raise young men who care and respect others for who they are, it is important my children are exposed to various causes throughout their lifetime. These organizations are on the front lines working towards improving the health and wellness of citizens, the equality of individuals no matter their race, age, gender, etc. and I want my kids to be right there with them.

My fellow parents/guardians/role models, I challenge you to join me in creating a culture where becoming a catalyst of positive change is inherent in the younger generation.

Here are 3 simple ways we can raise charitable children:  

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1. Exposure – In this day and age, we have an overabundance of resources available at our fingertips to share with our kids about charitable work and how to give back to our communities. For most of us, we read to our kids before bed. Reading time is a wonderful opportunity to share stories of volunteerism, causes involving children (for example, The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation), or kids donating back to a cause. Along with reading, society is attached to it’s electronic devices, which means we can share videos from local charities with our kids. Videos and audio easily explain the work of the organization, but it truly takes hold of their focus.

2. Communication – How often we speak to our kids about giving back says a lot about our commitment to raising charitable children. The conversation needs to go beyond the initial exposure and into daily conversation. I’ve made it a point to talk to my son about doing what’s right for others, loving our friends, sharing what we have with others (I use giving his toys to children as an example he will understand). How are you talking about advocacy and awareness?

3. Take Action – Now my sons are two and two months, so their ways of giving back are limited, but they can participate in my charitable efforts. For example, joining me as we walked for a cure for Crohn’s and Colitis or attending an event through the nonprofit I work for, are simple ways of exposing and communicating causes with my kids. As they get older I will push them to research and find an organization that speaks to them. Once they make a connection I will encourage them to make a contribution to their selected cause such as donating a portion of their allowance, fundraising on behalf of the organization, volunteering their time, etc. There are so many ways to get them involved in one of the many, many causes out there.

Taking part in charity is something my kids will have been exposed to since the start of their lives. It’s important to me they will understand the importance of giving back and what it does for those in their communities and in their country. They will make a positive difference.

May 2017 Favorites: Baby and Toddler Edition

May has been a month of growth for my family. Our newborn is plumping up and growing like a weed. Every day his personality changes! I can’t get enough of his red hair, gummy smile, and sapphire blue eyes. He is a truly a joy to be around. My toddler is stepping into his role as big brother, and lets just say, it looks good on him. This sweet boy is filled with a plethora of toddler emotions, so we’ve had to combat tantrums, but together we are learning how to work through the frustrations. The stereotype of redheads being hotheaded, can be applied to my newborn and two-year-old, but I love their passion and determination!

During these beautiful moments of change, we all have our must-have, go-to, lifesaving items for keeping our kiddos happy and content. I should also add, we look to these items for a glimpse of sanity and peace as parents. As our kids develop, their demands change and so do the products we call to in times of need.

Here are our May 2017 Favorites:

Munchkin Baby Formula Dispenser: After what I consider a valiant effort, we had to move from breastfeeding to formula. I made countless calls to lactation consultants, I altered my diet, I incorporated gas drops, etc., but my breast milk was not settling well with my newborn. Since my milk dispensary is out of business, I have to make sure I have enough formula with me at any given moment to feed my adorably glutinous baby boy. The Munchkin Baby Formula Dispenser is perfect my feed on demand little one. I fill it up with the appropriate amount of formula and throw it in my bag without hesitation.

Munchkin Baby Formula Dispenser

Photo courtesy of www.munchkin.com

Fisher-Price Bouncer: My boys, both as newborns, loved to be rocked and bounced. The Fisher-Price Bouncer has been a favorite for both of my boys and has been a huge help for me as I work from home with a newborn. The base of the bouncer vibrates and aids in putting my little one to sleep as he smiles at the detachable toy bar. If we have another baby (I’m looking at you husband), I will make sure we have our Fisher-Price Bouncer ready to go!

Fisher Price Bouncer

Photo courtesy of fisher-price.mattel.com

Originator’s Endless Reader App: My two-year-old loves his IPad. I know what you’re thinking, “you let your two-year-old have an IPad?” Yes, yes I do. He does far more than watch his favorite episode of Bubble Guppies or Peppa Pig. We have packed his IPad full of educational Apps perfect for the developing toddler. The one App that stands out the most is Originator’s Endless Reader App. He is presented with sight words, one for each letter of the alphabet, that are helpful in forming his vocabulary. Each letter is sounded out, the word is stated and then repeated, used in a sentence building activity, and finally applied in a relatable scenario with illustration. We have purchased the levels following Level One, and have seen an abundance of growth.

Originator Logo

Photo courtesy of www.originatorkids.com

Beautycounter Soothing Baby Oil: I’ve written about this product in multiple blogs, and I’m about to do it again. We LOVE Beautycounter’s Soothing Baby Oil! It has really made a difference in our post-bath and pre-bedtime routine. I use this product on both my newborn and toddler. When our baby had a mild case of cradle cap, it helped clear it right up. I rub it on my toddler’s shoulders and chest before reading his nightly stories. I’ve even used this product to help take off tough makeup at the end of the day. This is truly a family-focused product. I should also highlight that it’s nontoxic and gives me full confidence when using it on my little ones.

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Photo courtesy of www.beautycounter.com

Disney 5-Minute Snuggle Stories: As a child who grew up on the Lion King, Aladdin, and Little Mermaids of Disney, I am thrilled my son loves Disney just as much as I do! I can’t wait for the day we take our boys to the “most magical place on earth.” We enjoy at least one of these delightful stories each night before bed along with one or two more of his favorites. No matter how many times I read Scaredy Cat Sleepover, a story about Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck, this collection of tales never gets old.

5 Minute Snuggle Stories

Photo courtesy of books.disney.com

These products work for our on-the-go and perfectly chaotic family. We don’t use or settle for just any products. Our May 2017 favorites help to relax a restless baby, make bedtime cuddles even more precious, and assist in our children’s overall development.

Let me know if you try out these products. What do you think? Do they work for your little ones? Post in the comments below!