World Cup Wonders

As the biggest sporting event kicks-off in Russia, I can’t help but think about the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and the important milestone it introduced in my life. My husband and I had the fortunate opportunity to travel to Salvador, Brazil for the 2014 World Cup to cheer on some of our favorite teams (for me it was Germany and the Netherlands) in hopes of being crowned the world champ.

Prior to leaving for Brazil we were trying to get pregnant. After suffering a miscarriage in September of 2013, I had painfully tried to get pregnant for months. I was extremely discouraged and decided that we would stopped trying and pick it back up when we returned from our overseas adventure. I didn’t want my time during this once-in-a-lifetime moment to be filled with the constant need to obsess about the fact that my body was not cooperating. I was leaving it to the universe to decide.

After a series of exhausting flights and encounters with futbol fans from all over the world, we had made it to our destination. This coastal town was nothing like I had seen before. With beautiful views, a strong atmosphere of Brazilian pride (Neymar!!), and historical vibrancy, I felt beyond grateful for the opportunity to spend time with my husband at such a cherished event.

Along with it’s cultural richness, Brazil plagued me with the toughest bout of food poisoning/Montezuma’s Revenge I had ever experienced in my life. Now, there are number of things that could have caused this mishap, and I won’t get into the particulars, but let’s just say, it was ROUGH. I spent the Germany vs. Portugal match (way to go Germany!) huddled over the front of my stadium seat with a souvenir bag in hand. Shout out the Brazilian staff person who spoke only Portuguese, who continued to check on me. We couldn’t understand each other, but she was a life saver.

Once I made it through roughly 48 hours of pure “horror,” I was back on my feet and thought nothing of it until we returned home. We had been home for not even 24 hours when I realized, I had missed my period and quite honestly forgot about it. I was so focused on travelling and recovering that the pressures of trying to get pregnant had disappeared.

I remember going to the bathroom and peeing on a pregnancy stick, anticipating it would come back negative. I sat it down, turned on the timer, and went back to what I was doing around the house. When I heard the timer go off I casually walked over to the test. When I picked it up and it started flashing the word “PREGNANT;” I couldn’t believe it! Well, of course after that I took three more tests and they all came back positive. I can’t quite explain the feelings I had as I waited patiently for my husband to get home, so I could tell him the news.

Now you might be wondering why pregnancy and the World Cup go together for me. To start, I made a pledge to stop obsessing before my trip. I gave into the power of timing and fate, which is something I’m naturally terrible at doing, and it produced my desire. The World Cup helped me disengage from the negative space in the forefront of my mind. Secondly, I did in fact have food poisoning, but the little life growing inside of me, heightened that experience. He keeps me on my toes to this day. Finally, when I think about the World Cup, I will not only think about the time I had a Brazil, but the fact that I was carrying around my miracle.

The World Cup is a big deal in my house for many reasons, but for me, it’s because I was at the beginning stages of carrying life; my baby boy.

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A Timeless Treasure – Eric Carle

If you were to ask my parents what author I loved the most as a child, they would say Eric Carle without a second’s delay. I owned about every one of his books, in particular those that were readily available in the early 90s. There was something so magical about the interactive text and captivating illustrations. I vividly remember reading Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What do you Hear? over and over again (mom and dad I apologize; I get it now).

Now in 2018, Eric Carle is still prevalent in the realm of childhood literature. He has expanded from books to animated pictures and toys. My sons are able to experience the beauty of his educational pieces in a way I did not have access to in the 90s (#jealous).

We have found Eric Carle to be a hit for both our three-year-old and our one-year-old. Through his books, toys, and animations, our children are receptive of his teachings. Here are our favorite Eric Carle pieces –

Books:

An essential part of our nighttime routine is the bedtime story (or three) and often all of the stories come from our favorite, Eric Carle. We are currently reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar (a classic), Does a Kangaroo Have a Mother, Too? (a new favorite), Have you Seen my Cat? (my original copy), and The Mixed-Up Chameleon (my toddler’s FAVORITE). With either impactful messages, educational components, or both, my kids are sent to bed with thoughtful and colorful images in their heads.

Toys:

The World of Eric Carle, The Very Hungry Caterpillar Discovery Cube, 8” is one of my youngest’s most loved toys. With textured rings and fabric, peek a boo flaps, rattle, and crinkle sounds, it’s a sensory dream for a newly turned one-year-old. This discovery cube is plush, so he loves to cuddle it at night while he drifts off to sleep. With artwork from Eric Carle’s stories, the vibrancy of the illustrations, in my opinion, must ignite blissful dreams.

Eric Carle My First Smart Pad – PI Kids is a delightfully exciting educational toy that my three-year-old plays with often. “The electronic activity pad and 8-book library teaches alphabet, spelling, opposites, animal habitats, sounds, and sizes.” He calls it his “computer” and carries it around to conduct “business.” The beautiful illustrations and the familiarity of his favorite characters inspire him to sit down and absorb. As a parent, I LOVE it!

Animation:  

I don’t know about you, but we intake all our “TV” through Netflix. We love how there is an option to create a kids account. My son can access his favorite shows and we don’t have to worry about him watching something wildly inappropriate. Under the “Watch Again” tab is his Netflix account is The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Other Stories. Voiced by Brian Cummings and Linda Gray, some of his favorites like, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Very Quiet Cricket, and The Mixed-Up Chameleon, to name a few, are brought to life through animation. He likes to snuggle up on the couch in his “cocoon” made of blankets for 30 minutes (or more depending the repetition of his viewing) and relax. It’s fantastic!

With books dating all the way back to 1967 (i.e. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?), Eric Carle has been a staple in the lives of so many individuals including myself and now my kids. If you don’t have Eric Carle in your personal library I suggest you run to your nearest bookstore or public library and introduce yourselves to these beautiful classics of children’s literature.

4 Reasons to Raise Your Kids in the South

For my entire life I’ve been told I don’t sound like I hail from the south. I used to take this sentiment as a compliment. If we are being honest, the media does not highlight the south in the best of lights. The south is often depicted as the land of severely conservative, backwoods folks, who all live on farms and raise 42 cows. I personally have never self-identified as this dramatized version of a southern, so when folks assumed I was from New England, I didn’t necessarily correct them.

As I’ve gotten older, I have realized the beauty of living in the south and have embraced my sweet tea roots, especially as the mother of two young boys. That’s right; this liberal mama loves raising her ginger babes in the Tar Heel state.

Here are four reasons why raising your kids in the south is a beautiful thing:

  1. Manners make the man – We can all agree manners are a must. I was raised to say, “yes ma’am/sir,” “no ma’am/sir,” please and thank you, etc. Having manners is not only polite, but they leave a positive and lasting impression. You’ll stand out in the crowd in the best way. To be in the south without manners is a sin (we are on the bible belt of course). If one forgets the proper greeting or response, there is a southern mama always there to glare the most intense evil eye in your direction. We learn very quickly to keep our manners in check.
  2. Wild child – Being in nature is something a southerner is born to do (well, most of us). I remember playing in the neighborhood creek, climbing trees, and venturing into the woods for an “adventure.” My boys LOVE to play outside. My oldest is a master bug hunter and collector of dirt. While I’m not a huge fan of the creepy crawlers, he has zero fear when it comes to facing a spider or earth worm; he wants to be their friend. He feels comfortable outside and that makes my tree-hugger heart happy.
  3. We’ve got spirit, yes, we do – College basketball…what more can I say? When you live in the south you are born on a side, the side of an ACC team. In North Carolina the trinity of college basketball falls within three points – UNC Tarheels, Duke Blue Devils, and NC State Wolfpack. We clearly bleed Carolina blue and cheer on our beloved Tar Heels to victory. This inherent need to be tethered to a team builds a sense of pride and commitment in an individual.
  4. Family values (the good ones) – This can be said for anybody, anywhere, but family values are so important in the south. Now, I don’t think all “family values” are, well, valuable, but I do think finding those naturally good qualities are important. We can learn a lot from of our family. My family has always projected strong social values like respect/courtesy, giving back, kindness, standing up for others, etc. I want and will carry these values into the lives of my children.

As someone who was born and raised in the south, I’ve worked my entire life to eliminate that stereotypical view of a southerner from my own mind. There is so much beauty to be found down south when raising children to be fully functioning and well-adjusted individuals. We are a wonderfully complex breed.

“Southerners know all too well that a basket of fried chicken can mean ‘I’m sorry,’ ‘I love you’ or ‘Welcome Home.’” (Johnathan Scott Barrett)