5 Tips for a Pool Day with the Kids

“Expect the unexpected” has been my life since I’ve had my boys. I’m always thinking ahead. Whenever we go somewhere, I take the obvious necessities and then some. You never know what cards they are going to draw day-to-day. A simple trip to the neighborhood pool requires tactile decision-making on my part. While it’s just a two-minute car ride, a lot can happen from point A to point B.

When it’s 90+ degrees outside, I want to make sure our trip to the pool is enjoyed by all parties (i.e. mom, dad, kids, and our fellow neighbors). With this said, here are my five tips for a great pool day with the kids!

Toys and backup toys: My kids want…no require pool toys to survive a day at the pool. There are obviously toys they enjoy using over and over again, but they will randomly become bored of the packed toys. Some would say, make them suck it up, and to that I say, I pick my battles, and this is a fight I do not want to pursue. In the back of the car I have tub filled with backup pool toys. I quick jaunt to the parking lot and we are back on track. Did I mention earlier, that I always expect the unexpected?

Backup snacks: My kids have three go-to snacks 1. Fresh fruit (watermelon, strawberries, and mandarins) 2. Organic white cheddar puffs from Aldis and 3. Fruit snacks. From time to time, they’ll turn on me and refuse the snacks they “love.” Most parents would panic, but not me! I have a backup stash of goldfish, veggies, fruit bars, etc. If that doesn’t work, I have backup to the backup.

Change of clothes: My kids love playing in the pool, but when it’s time to go they want their wet clothes off immediately (in particular my four-year-old)! I mentioned earlier that our house is a two-minute drive, if that, from the pool, but the thought of sitting in their swimsuit is a crime against humanity in their eyes. A quick trip to the locker room with their change of clothes and we are good for the (short) journey home.

Bring an umbrella or two: When it’s a really hot day, the pool is packed. When the pool is packed, the shaded areas are ALWAYS taken. While I am excessive with the sunscreen, my gingers require some extra protection. We have an umbrella or two tucked away in the car, just in case the boys need some shade on an overly crowded day.

Accept that mom bod: For me, I carried two kids in this body. It is flawed, but I am proud of it. We unfortunately live in a society where we are always giving and receiving judgement to/from the person next to us. The pool deck is the perfect cesspool for this type of behavior. For me, I have too much on my mind taking care of the kiddos to worry about what anyone else thinks. Rocking a solid swimsuit, like this high-waist bandeau bikini set from ROVLET, gives me the extra boost of confidence I need as I chase my kids around the pool. If you go to >> https://www.rovlet.com/beachwear/swimwear.html << you can get the suit perfect for your day at the pool. Use the code LOVELY10 for 10% off your order. Looking good girl!

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Maybe you already use some of these tactics and maybe you don’t, either way, taking kids to the pool can be an adventure. What tricks do you have up your sleeve? Let me know in the comments below.

Make a successful splash this summer!

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Kids Night In Box – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

I am often plagued with the thought of “what are we going to do?” (cue dramatic music) when it rains all weekend long. We are currently in the times of technology, but that doesn’t mean I want my kids glued to the T.V. or their tablets while we hunker down inside from the storms brewing outside. I want to keep their minds moving and grooving even outside of school.

Well, let me tell you what turned our wet April weekend around – Kids Night In Box! My fellow parents, this subscription box service is a GAME-CHANGER (lots of emphasis on game-changer). Filled with activities, treats, and books, this box has everything you could need for a fun and educational night in with the kids.

If you know me, I LOVE Earth Day (April 22nd!), and this month’s Kids Night In Box is appropriately themed Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. As an advocate for Mother Earth, I am constantly introducing my boys to ways to support the environment. Instead of listening to me repeat the same mantra over and over again, they got a taste of what it means to positively give back to Earth through engaging activities.

This sustainable box was jammed pack full of environmentally conscious goodies, like:

  • Recipes
  • Book
  • Arts and crafts
  • Snack
  • Eco-Friendly Pledge

We love a good book, especially a book that gives us an inside look on the impact recycling can have on the environment. Don’t Throw That Away! by Lara Bergen is a fun and interactive flap book which shows kids how to transform every day trash into something new and innovative. My four-year-old wants to turn our recently recycled milk jug into a bird house and I think we are definitely going to make that happen. Let’s not fail to mention the adorable illustrations are truly captivating.

After reading our new book, we created an upcycled bubble blower. Bubbles are a kid’s guilty pleasure. I’m pretty sure my two-year-old is sleeping with a jug of bubbles right now (I’m kidding…maybe). With just a cardboard craft tube (toilet paper roll), mesh material, craft tape, cupcake scented bubbles, and bowl, we created a “bubble-blowing machine.” The boys lost their minds! They were thrilled with the streams of bubbles that flowed from their new bubble blower. The Kids Night In Box comes with a list of four games you can do with your upcycled bubble blower and my kids loved them all.

After blowing bubbles on the front porch (cautiously separated from the rain), my oldest and I went to work on creating the most stunning newspaper flowers the world has ever seen! Early in the day we painted our blue water color (provided in the box) background, which dried during our bubble extravaganza, as the foundation of our newspaper flowers. With water colors, paper straws, stickers, and a lot of creative energy we went to town making a masterpiece. We took some creative liberties, but we are proud of our art. It’s currently taped to the front of my son’s closet door.

This is just a snapshot of our Earth Warrior themed day. We devoured our Nature’s Path Enviro Kidz Organic Crispy Chocolate Rice Bar (yum!). I’ve already started using the Bumkins reusable snack bag for the kid’s snacks.  We also signed the Eco Friendly Pledge found the back of our Kids Night In Box user guide. Every part of the Kids Night In Box is reusable and the box is recyclable! I mean, how amazing is that?!

You’re probably thinking, “how can I get my box?” No worries! Go to https://frstre.com/go/?a=19136-4863f8&s=456886-78ed66 You can also select from the Date Night In Box, Date Night In Box – Faith, and Kids Night In Box – Faith. All great options for you and your significant other or family.

What activity would you like to try? 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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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!

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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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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.