2018 Gift Guide – Preschooler Favorites

Let’s face it, our kids change their holiday list, especially if they are a toddler/preschooler, over and over again. Anticipating what your kid(s) will want for the holidays is almost nearly impossible.  My oldest, who is three, has one constant item on his list this year, OCTONAUTS. Something tells me Santa is going to fulfill those dreams this year but finding other gifts can be tricky. You may or may not be in the same boat, but either way, I can give you some insight to gifts your youngster(s) will LOVE!

Build Me ToysThe Take Apart Firetruck

I am always on the search for toys that challenge my children, but in a fun way. Build Me Toys wraps creativity, problem solving, and hours of fun into each of their toys. Perfect for the little builder, dinosaur connoisseur, or lover of motorized vehicles of all types, Build Me Toys has the perfect (and affordable) toy for you! My oldest spent an entire uninterrupted hour building and taking apart his Take Apart Firetruck. For a three-year-old that is amazing! He was focused on making the best firetruck for his favorite Paw Patrol, Marshall. He proudly displays his Take Apart Firetruck on his bookshelf and looks at it with admiration every single day.

Use the code IG10 for 10% off your order and check them out @buildmetoys on Instagram.

Via Build Me Toys

Mega Bloks

What’s the one toy you can never go wrong getting for your kids? Mega Bloks! For over 30 years, Mega Blok has provided topnotch fun for kids and their parents. On rainy days, we always pull out our Mega Bloks and make towers, forts, or the Great Wall of China. Whatever you can imagine, we’ve probably built it together. Mega Bloks is perfect for all ages and assists in learning colors, counting, and hand eye coordination.

Check out their HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE We recommend both color schemes of the Big Builder Bags (we have both!).

Via Mega Bloks

All Are Welcome – Alexandra Penfold a& Suzanne Kaufman – Penguin Random House

All Are Welcome is an enlightening book that follows a group of young children through their school day “where everyone is welcomed with open arms.” Not only does it show that school is a safe and caring space for everyone, but it highlights kids from various backgrounds. We LOVE this book in particular, because it shows how they come together to learn from one another. They embrace aspects of life different from their own, such as the celebration of the Lunar New Year, with understanding and appreciation. The illustrations are beyond captivating and my three-year-old wants to read it all the time. This is a book you NEED in your child’s personal library.

Via Penguin Random House

Miffy Night Lamp

I cannot and will not stop talking about the Miffy Night Lamp! My three-year-old who is plagued with night terrors relies on the warm and comforting light of the Miffy Night Lamp to get him through the night. You can pick from different color schemes, classic Miffy blue, yellow, or in our case, my son’s favorite color, ORANGE! With thousands of hours of light, this is a must have for your kids. It’s also adorable.

For fun crafts, games, and songs, check out MiffyFun.com and @miffy_official_usa on Instagram

Via Walmart

V-Tech Activity Touch and Learn Desk

This is really the all-in-one “toy” you need for your kid when it comes to numbers, letters, music, writing, etc. The V-Tech Activity Touch and Learn Desk has really helped us in working with our oldest as he creeps closer and closer to becoming a Kindergartener. With over 200 touch and learn activities and interchangeable activity pages, the amount of fun and learning to be had is endless.

You can now get this bad boy at one of the three mothership locations – Walmart, Target, and Amazon.

Via V-Tech Electronics

Candy Land – Hasbro Games

Who loves a classic game night? I do and now my three-year-old does too. Our go-to game is the childhood classic, Candy Land. He is so determined to make it all the way to King Kandy’s Kastle and gets heartbroken when he doesn’t make it. These classic Hasbro Games such as Candy Land, HiHo! Cherry-O, Chutes and Ladders, etc. are perfect for a family night with your little ones. What’s your favorite board game? Let me know in the comments?

Via Hasbro

If you’re struggling on what to get your kiddos or a child in your life this holiday season, these items are a great place to start and approved by a picky three-year-old 😊

What are your go-to gift recommendations? Let me know in the comments below.

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Finding Balance in a Life of Chaos

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm, and harmony.”
– Thomas Merton

The word balance ironically makes my body wobble back and forth from anxiety. I am at a phase in my life where I have more than enough going on (we all feel like this at some point). On top of being a wife, mom to two little boys, full-time employee, I am also pursuing my master’s degree, which means my evenings are consumed with class and schoolwork. If this schedule gives you a case of the sympathetic anxieties, I certainly understand and appreciate your concern.

Before I graduated high school, back in the day, I was pretty chill and let everything (for the most part) roll off my shoulders. When I started college, I assumed unexplained anxiety and started wearing the weight of the world on my shoulders. No one asked me to; I just felt like I needed to take on the task. Now that I have a family, work, and a continued pursuit of higher education, I am now the mom running around like a chicken with its head cut off.

I often look insane and probably scare away any of the other parents who have their lives together (at least externally). Let’s get real though, social media does not help the overworked and exhausted mama, because only the best is captured by my fellow parents. I am guilty of this as well, but I will take a moment to share a snapshot of finding my one-and-a-half-year-old eating a crayon because I trusted he would be fine in the playroom by himself. Why was he in the playroom by himself? I had to answer a work email on a Saturday. I say all of this because I want, no, I NEED balance.

On this journey of balance, I’ve had a few realizations. Here are the five things you need to do to get started re-balancing your life –

  1. Call on the village: You don’t have to do this on your own. Call on your village to help when needed. Lucky for me, I have a great life partner who steps up all the time. I sure do appreciate him and all that he does, but sometimes he can’t be there because of work or coaching, so I have my family right around the corner to offer additional support. My family drops everything to help pick up the kids, watch the boys when I have a company call later in the evenings, take the boys on adventures when I have school work that has piled up, etc. We are lucky to have them. Don’t feel less than if you need help. We all need help at some point in our lives.
  2. Don’t compare: For many of us, we digest content through social media. For me, I am a lover of Instagram. I love snapshot content. As I mentioned earlier, we cannot put ourselves down if we are not like the Insta moms who have 50K followers, crisp white backdrops, and their cherub babies in perfect poses with rosy red cheeks. I’m lucky to capture a picture of my kids without having to tell them to stop hitting each other, not to pick their noses, to go clean their face, etc. In the same realm, we can’t compare memories made. The memories made of arts and crafts, playing on the playground, visiting the pet store, etc. should not be looked down upon compared to those of parents taking their kids to Disney World, Hawaii, or Time Square in NYC. You are still a great parent, so don’t compare yourself to others. Your kids are going to cherish the time together, no matter what you’re doing.
  3. Maximize your time: Who else loves a planner and calendar? This mama is obsessed. I love to have everything laid out in an easily consumed format. My husband has even tapped into this obsession and created a digital family calendar. We know at the start of everyday what to anticipate. When there are moments of down time, fill them with productive activities, like one-on-one time with the kiddos. I try to make an effort to spend down-time with my kids. If it’s down time during the work day, use the time to look at your to-do lists, consume a podcast, or read for grad school. If you’re like me, I am always concerned that I am using my time effectively, so using your time to care for yourself, spend quality time with the babes, or prep for the future is a great way to not feel guilty about having free time.
  4. Self-care: Take care of yourself! You can’t be a great partner, mom, employee, student, etc. if you’re not taking care of yourself. I make a point to have at least 30 minutes of me time daily. If it’s watching a YouTube video, taking a therapeutic bath, or watching re-runs of the Great British Bake Off (my guilty pleasure), you are becoming the best version of yourself. You are not shellfish; you’re thinking about everyone around you. It’s OK. Go take a bubble bath.
  5. Keeping working: Balance is a hard thing to achieve, so think of this as an effort of achieving fulfillment. Are you living a fulfilled life? Once you feel fulfilled, balance will follow. This is a process, just buckle up for the ride and take everything in stride. You can do this!

Do I currently balanced? No, but I’m getting there and I’m not doing it alone. I have the best group of folks supporting me through this journey. If you don’t think you have the support system you need, I’m here for you! We’ll find balance together.

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13 Family Halloween Traditions

It’s my favorite time of year – HALLOWEEN! Since I can remember, I have loved everything about this holiday. From the costumes, to the pumpkins, and of course the candy, I have found this spooktacular day absolutely delightful.

Every year, my family would partake in Halloween traditions and now that I have two kids of my own, we’ve started our own traditions! Here are our 13 Halloween tradition/festivities:

  1. Decorate: There is something magical that happens when we pull the Halloween decorations down from the attic. Not only does it signify a soon-to-be Happy Halloween, but that Thanksgiving and Christmas are close behind. Now that my first born is old enough, he is so excited to place the skeletons, light-up pumpkins, candy hand towels, etc. all around the house and outside.
  2. Costumes: We are now beyond the point where I can pick out what my kids are going to be. My oldest knew well before October what he wanted to be there year – the HULK! “Hulk SMASH!” This kid loves three things: alligators, dinosaurs, and the HULK.  Obviously since were going down the Marvel pipeline, our youngest has to be Spider-Man. I just love how excited everyone is to pick out their new costume.
  3. Pumpkin picking: I mean, is it even fall/Halloween if you don’t pick a pumpkin? Enough said.
  4. Pumpkin carving/painting: I can remember my favorite pumpkin carving was the ThunderCats logo. It was awesome! These days, it’s a classic Jack O’Lantern carving, but the kids love it. They find the “pumpkin guts” wonderful and disgusting all at the same time.
  5. Pumpkin seeds: Speaking of “pumpkin guts,” the roasting of pumpkin seeds is essential. This year Ro was able to salt and pepper the seeds during prep and he had so much fun. We all LOVE pumpkin seeds and within a day or two, they are gone.
  6. Fall/Halloween fests: This year we started a new tradition, we went to our first local fall fest. We dressed up, the boys in their Hulk and Spider-Man costumes, while I wore a Captain America mask. A trunk or treat, pumpkin picking, music, dancing, and all the good things Halloween has to offer in one local community event. We can’t wait to go again next year.
  7. Creepy the spider: Ro got this fuzzy spider from my mom, that we affectionately call Creepy. Every night once Ro falls asleep, we move Creepy around the house and he has to look for him in the morning. He enjoys the hunt and we think it’s pretty cute when he says, “Creepy. Don’t run away. I love you.”
  8. Monster mash: We love a good song and dance session. Spotify has an awesome playlist that we have been listening to on loop – Monster Jams. I love that my kids like to be goofy with me. “We did the mash, we did the monster mash” and yes, “it was a graveyard smash.”
  9. Halloween books: Bedtime reading is a sacred time in this house. We read at least two books a night and we have a collection of Halloween books we read over and over again. Our new favorite is Fisher Price’s Little People “Halloween is Here” which has over 50 flaps of fun.
  10. Nightly lighting: The outside of our house is adorned with a yellow and green glowy spotlight, skeletons, orange lights, and illuminated eyeballs. Before my oldest goes to bed, we head outside and turn on our spooky display. It’s become our nightly ritual.
  11. Target tours: This has become a tradition without intention. Every time we go into the “Mothership” (i.e. Target) or any store with a Halloween section, we always stop and stroll down every aisle. It doesn’t matter how many times we’ve examined the costumes and outdoor displays, we always have to stop.
  12. Teacher gifts: I am THAT parent that gives a gift to the teachers at every holiday. It is our tradition to shower the boy’s teachers with spectacular treats. We love to see the smile on their faces and we also appreciate all they do for our boys.
  13. Trick or Treat: We’ve been practicing the trick or treat speech, and I must say we have the most polite trick or treaters on the block. “Trick or treat! Thank you so much!” You can’t have a successful Halloween without a good ole’ night of trick or treating. I will of course take my candy tax at the end of the day. Good thing for me, we don’t like the same candy.

What are your Halloween traditions? Let me know in the comments below.

Have a safe and happy Halloween!

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Why? – Strange Things Toddlers Do

I was introduced to the world of professional wrestling, WWF (World Wrestling Federation – later) at a very young age by my uncle (shout out to Uncle P!). I was the first grader walking around demonstrating the signature moves of D-Generation X, in particular, Triple H (Hunter Hearst Helmsley). If you have no clue, YouTube it and you’ll see the amazingness that is this mid-90s to early 2000s group. My adoration for the athleticism and performance of these individuals often left my teachers and parents saying – “Why?”

“Hannah why are you pretending to jackknife [XYZ person]?” My answer would always be, “Why not?”

Now that I have two kids and one has discovered his true toddler sass, I hear the phrase “why not?” on loop. Also, as a boy mom, I hear this more often than most – at least I’m assuming mothers and fathers of boys are always walking around looking puzzled because their son(s) has decided to do something crazy.

Along with questioning my children’s (keep in mind they are three and one) need to have an impromptu wrestling match like that of the classic Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant from Wrestlemania III in the middle of the living room (YouTube it), my list of “why” based moments is extensive.

Here are the top ten most recent reasons I’ve had to say “why?” and slowly shake my head in confusion.

  1. Mom – Why did you aim your penis at your face when you went to the potty?
    Three-year-old – Because the pee wanted to go up!
  2. Mom – Why are you chewing on the baby teether?
    Three-year-old – Because the baby teether is for people not babies!
  3. Mom – Why are you licking the wall?
    Three-year-old – Because I needed to mom!
  4. Mom – *Gives son a new toy* Where are you going?
    Three-year-old – To hide it!
    Mom – Why?
    Three-year-old – Because the worms will get it!!
  5. Mom – Why did you flip over the play kitchen?
    Three-year-old – Because the whale shark was coming, and he wanted popcorn!
  6. Mom – Why are you rubbing petroleum jelly all over your face?
    Three-year-old – Because I can’t breathe! *He thought it was vapor rub*
  7. Mom – Why is your play grill in your bed?
    Three-year-old – My blanket was cold!
  8. Mom – Why are you standing on the coffee table?
    Three-year-old – Because I need to dance!
  9. Mom – Why are you screaming at the drain?
    Three-year-old – The orca won’t stop yelling!
  10. Mom – Why are you not wearing underwear?
    Three-year-old – He needs to breathe!

So, here’s what I know, he watches too much Octonauts (which I secretly love), he’s extremely tactile, and he has a strong understanding of his body. With this said, all I can say is “WHY????”

What is something your kids have done or said that left you at a loss? Let me know in the comments below.

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4 Ways to Teach Your Kids Patience

What is it they always say – patience is a virtue?

I am the first to admit, my patience level is nearly nonexistent. While it has improved over the years, especially with the addition of children (God bless my kids for bringing me down a notch), I am always keeping myself in check. I’m like the Energizer Bunny always on the move and in a hurry, so don’t get in my way.

I am slowly starting to see my lack of patience in my children. Could it be my unfavorable characteristic is now reflected on them or general toddlerdom? We may never know, but what I do know is that I am constantly working towards self-improvement and providing my kids with the tools they need to be patient individuals.

Here are four ways to promote patience –

  1. Parents Practicing Patience – I’ve already admitted my faults, but we should lead by example as parents. My kids are my driving force to actively show what it means to be a mindful and patient person. If mommy can do it, they can do it too!
  2. Slow and Steady – I don’t know if this can be said for all toddlers, but my boys are always on the go. A moment of Zen is very rare and achieved when they are asleep at the end of the day. A great way to establish mindfulness and patience is to introduce activities like coloring, building with Legos, or baking cookies. We want to slow down the soul and enjoy the outcome of taking our time to complete the task at hand.
  3. Celebrate – What kid doesn’t love praise? When our kids practice patience let’s acknowledge them with a job well done. While we should tackle moments of impatience, complimenting them is of the upmost importance. A reward doesn’t hurt either. We have a mindfulness chart at home where my son fills the chart (with stickers) every time he shows patience. When all 12 slots are filled, he can then select a prize from the treasure chest.
  4. Start the Clock – A trick my parents used when I was a youngster – the egg timer. I have found my oldest responds well to the clock. He will sit there and wait for it to ding before he moves to the next activity. “We are going to park in five minutes,” “You can watch your iPad for two more minutes,” or “we will be home in 10 minutes,” are all examples of establishing expectations through time. It eases anxiety and helps when the anticipation of what’s to come.

The two most powerful warriors are patience and time. – Leo Tolstoy

Do you or your kids struggle with mindfulness? How do you address patience? Let me know in the comments below.

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Bye Bye Bad Dreams

My three-year-old started waking up in the middle of the night claiming pink monsters were going to attack, his dinosaur bopped him on the head, and some other creature under his bed was determined to take him down. It’s normal for the imagination to kick in and warp the blissful reality of dreamland, but when it started to impact everyone’s sleep, something needed to be done.

The other night, our son was inconsolable. He abruptly busted into our room sobbing crocodile sized tears. He was so upset and unable to formulate his thoughts and tell us what was wrong. My husband took him back to his room and eventually fell asleep on the floor holding his hand. Yes, it was a sweet moment between father and son, but we didn’t want to establish this as the norm.

As parents we have the power to embellish – transform any household object into a magical token or make bold claims like vegetables give us super powers. Just like our children, so much is possible when it comes to the imagination. When the nightmares started to plague his dreams, my imagination took over. Here is the story about a little boy – the bad dream buster.

Before he lays his head to sleep, the little boy grabs his green magic stone (i.e. flattened marble his mom found when cleaning out her jewelry box). He gives it a kiss and whispers the word “lucky” into the stone. He gently places the stone in a mystical container (also known as a pill box) and carefully places it under his pillow. The fluffy bunny that occupies his bed, watches over the magic stone as the little boy goes to sleep.

He then grabs his magic elixir (one cup of warm water mixed with a few drops of lavender essential oil in a spray bottle) known to many toddlers as “monster spray.” He lightly sprays his bed, royal subjects (i.e. stuffed animals), and royal throws (blankets) with the magic potion. If a monster catches one whiff of the elixir he is banished from the kingdom FOREVER! The little boy was very generous in his distribution of the “monster spray.” He likes to cover his bases.

Finally, the little boy seeks out the keeper of light (also known as his Miffy night light). She turns even the darkest corners of the kingdom bright with his warm glow. With the flick of a switch, she casts a beam of light around his room, ridding it of any monsters who may be lurking.

Once the little boy feels that he has successfully demolished all the baddies, he softly closes his eyes and enters dreamland. Legend states, he starts to dream of adventures on board the Octopod with Captain Barnacle and the rest of the Octonauts (*cue dramatic music).

What a story, would you believe me if I said it was true, minus some of the colorful additions? This may seem like an entire production, but it works, for right now. He has full ownership of his nighttime routine, which I believe helps eliminate some of those pre-bedtime anxieties.

What are some tricks you use to help your kids go to sleep? Let me know in the comments below.

Sweet dreams!

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Parenting Through Disney Songs

Fun fact about me, I have never met a Disney movie I didn’t like. What’s even stronger than my love for animated magic is the fantastic songs that accompany each featured filmed. You will often catch me singing along with the Disney Spotify channel at the top of my lungs while driving in the car, cooking in the kitchen, or working from my desk. Lucky for me, my oldest son is just as obsessed.

As we were belting our best rendition of You’re Welcome from Moana, it hit me, most Disney songs have a lyric(s) that reflect the life of a parent. Here are 10 Disney lyrics that capture what it’s really like to be a parent.

  1. Colors of the Wind (Pocahontas) – You think you own whatever land you land on. I think it’s a known fact that toddlers think they own everything. We are just here for their enjoyment and to be at their beck and call. In response to their incessant sass I say, if you listen to me You’ll learn things you never knew, you never knew.
  2. Un Poco Loco (Coco) – I’ll count it as a blessing that I’m only un poco loco. You know the moment when your kids flip from acting the fool to becoming the sweetest children on the planet? You look into their cherub-like faces and think “thank goodness you’re cute and only make me a little crazy (un poco loco).”
  3. I’ll Make a Man Out of You (Mulan) – Heed my every order and you might survive. This one is for all the boy moms out there [represent]. Boys may be less drama than girls, but it’s harder to keep them alive. When it looks like your son is about to fling his body off the swing set or headbutt his sibling, repeat the wise words of Li Shang.
  4. I Just Can’t Wait to Be King (Lion King) – I think it’s time that you and I arrange a heart to heart. When your kids are on the verge of going to time out, but you want to play nice cop, so you take a note from Zazu’s playbook. It’s either a heart to heart or the time out chair my friend.
  5. Almost There (The Princess and the Frog) – There’s been trials and tribulations. You know I’ve had my share. But I’ve climbed the mountain, I’ve crossed the river, and I’m almost there. When you’re talking to your parent friends about potty training. If you’ve ever seen a war movie and the main character is hobbling out of the trenches, that’s what potty training looks like for a parent. We’ve seen things we can’t come back from.
  6. Let it Go (Frozen) – Let it go (go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go). When my kids are having a “moment,” I often meet and exceed their volume with Queen Elsa’s anthem. Not only does it mute their complaints, it redirects their feelings and puts them into a state of confusion – they are confused as to why mom is actin’ the fool. I’m willing to assume that role if it stops the craziness.
  7. You’ve Got a Friend in Me (Toy Story) – You got troubles, and I got them too. There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for you. We stick together, we can see it through, ‘cause you’ve got a friend in me. As baby brother bites his leg, I keep reminding my oldest he will be your best friend one day. You are born into a friendship with your siblings, but it’s one that will last a lifetime.
  8. You’ll Be in my Heart (Tarzan) – For one so small, you seem so strong. My arms will hold you, keep you safe and warm. This bond between us can’t be broken. I mean…this song just violently yanks at the heartstrings. I think the moment I became a mom and held my son in my arms, life truly began. There is something so special between a mother and a son. My boys are my world.
  9. Be Prepared (Lion King) – Yes, our teeth and ambitions are bared. Be prepared! This applies to both parent and child during one of the most excruciating moments in their life…teething. Have you seen the YouTube video where they time lapse a child’s teeth coming in? Search it; it’s absolutely horrifying. As you frantically search for the perfect solution to ease your child’s achy gums, maintain determination and prepare to get through it together, because neither of you will be sleeping.
  10. What’s This? (The Nightmare Before Christmas) – What’s this? What’s this? There’s something very wrong. What’s this? The age-old question of is it chocolate or is it poop can be summed up with the simple phrase – what’s this? Dare you even try to figure it out. Only the bravest of souls try to crack the mystery. Are you one of those people?

With hundreds of whimsical songs, there is bound to be one that fits every moment of parenthood. What song would you use to define your current state of parenting? Let me know in the comments below.

Celebrate Diversity – All Are Welcome – Book Review

As parents we have a very important job – to raise the world’s future. The way we decide to raise our kids now will leave a lasting impression for years to come. With the current political climate, the need to create a loving, accepting, and kind environment is more important than ever.

I was raised by two parents who provided me with tools to learn, love, and grow. I’ve kept a lot of my parent’s techniques within my own parenting artillery, but I’ve also tapped into my natural childrearing abilities. I know they are just in the beginning of their lives, but I feel my kids are on the right path to being decent human beings, and it has a lot to do with my how I’ve embraced my role as mom.

My three-year-old has been an empathetic soul from day one. He is always tapping into other’s feelings and providing comfort to those in need. It melts my heart when I hear from his teacher’s that he embraces others with ease. However, like many children, he has started to recognize differences between himself and his friends. As he starts to tap into varying cultural, racial, sexual, etc. aspects of other’s, I want him to keep his heart and mind open as well as erase the idea of judgement, because none of us have the right to pass judgement on others.

Sometimes finding a starting point for those conversations can be difficult, but the dynamic duo of Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman have created a beautiful children’s book, All Are Welcome, to help navigate dialogues in a fun way. With lovely words and captivating illustrations, All Are Welcome has built of world of curiosity and understanding for my son.

All Are Welcome is a enlightening book that follows a group of young children through their school day “where everyone is welcomed with open arms.” Not only does it show that school is a safe and caring space for everyone, but it highlights kids from various backgrounds. The book shows how they come together to learn from one another. They embrace aspects of life different from their own, such as the celebration of the Lunar New Year, with understanding and appreciation.

When we first sat down to read this book, my son was immediately captivated. Eager to flip through every page, he enjoyed sitting down together as a family with a good book in hand. It was after the initial read that we then read it three more times. During our second, third, and fourth takes of the book, we talked about the dynamics of families (i.e. some kids have two mommies, two daddies, a mommy and a daddy, etc.), what is a hijab, what does it mean if one of our friends is blind or visually impaired, and so much more. The questions flooded in, which is exciting for this mom! I LOVE that he wants to understand and learn more.

Through its continuous displays of encouragement, All Are Welcome highlights the beauty of diversity and lends a helping hand to parents, like me, when it comes to talking to our kids about embracing the wonderful things that make each of us different. I have a feeling we will be reading this book for weeks to come, and that’s alright with me!

To get your copy of All Are Welcome, go to >> www.rhcbooks.com <<

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Mom Review: Now Say This – The Right Words to Solve Every Parenting Dilemma

Parenting [par·ent·ing]: the raising of a child by its parents (Merriam Webster). A simple enough definition, but a loaded word on its own. I don’t know about you, but I am an active consumer of the “parenting book.” What is the best way to raise my child? How should I discipline my child? Should I even discipline my child? These are all questions I ask myself daily.

I have been fortunate enough to have two kids who are innately good, but I can honestly say that my cherub babes have their “moments.” Like many parents understand, those occasional “toddler moments” often leave us wondering if we communicated appropriately and whether we could have diffused the situation in a healthier way.

When I got my hands on a copy of Now Say This – The Right Words to Solve Every Parenting Dilemma, I had no idea the world of difference it would make in my life. As a mom who is continuously growing as a parent while trying to raise two functioning (hopefully) human beings, this book serves as an excellent tool in my parenting artillery.

Co-authors, Heather Turgeon, MFT and Julie Wright, MFT, clearly understand the brain capacity of a parent with small children. Many parenting tip and technique books set an expectation that mom and dad can and should retain 50 + (give or take) steps on how mold the perfect child. Yeah, right! There is no way I can remember a laundry list of steps, let alone what I did five-minutes ago, but Turgeon and Wright make it easy with their three-step approach.

The ALP or the Attune, Limit Set, and Problem Solve approach, creates a space of kindness and accountability for both the parent and the child.

  1. Attune: watch, listen, and understand
  2. Limit set: state and hold reasonable limits or state a reality
  3. Problem solve: engage your child in creating solutions

I found this method to be immensely impactful with both my three-year-old and my one-year-old. Even though they are close in age, their ability to communicate is vastly different; however, this approach makes easy to connect with them, in their own way, at their level.

This book not only covers the ALP approach, it also provides proactive tools and application examples to ensure family balance. With a wide-range of presented real-life scenarios, I can tackle many a toddler mishap in a healthy and effective manner. Together my kids and I can find a way to resolve the situation.

If you’re a parent, parent-to-be, teacher, or anyone who works with kids, I strongly encourage you to absorb this insightful information. Within a week, the way my kids and I communicated completely transformed. Rather than feeling frustrated, we were able to walk through the situation(s) together. No more tears from either kid or parent. Just a mom, dad, and two toddlers laughing, smiling, and in complete harmony. Thank you, Turgeon and Wright; you are the true rock stars in my new scope of successful communication.

To learn more about this book and to get your copy of Now Say This – The Right Words to Solve Every Parenting Dilemma, go to Penguin Random House.

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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.