Mommy Attitude Adjustment

Liam was a handful this past weekend. He played in the toilet, had his first store meltdown, would throw things off his highchair and laugh at me when I got stern with him and told him “no-no.” You know, toddler stuff. But, the whole weekend was a battle for me. My baby boy is no longer a baby. He has his own personality, his own thoughts, and…well…a little bit of a temper. I told my mom that Liam was testing me this weekend and she asked me something that has made me stop and think. She said, “Well, have you passed?”

Did I pass? Well, I didn’t get too overly upset or lose my temper with him, but I did let his behavior ruin my day and found myself getting frustrated that I couldn’t control my own kid. It made me scared for the next 18 years and what is in store for me. I don’t want everyday to be a battle. I want to enjoy motherhood and watching my kids grow and learn.

As I was rocking Liam to sleep on Sunday night I reflected on my responsibilities as a parent. My responsibility isn’t to control Liam, but to teach him every day. He is new at this living and learning thing and, as his mom, he needs my guidance. I feel like after this past weekend I needed a mommy attitude adjustment.

This week I have been focusing on finding joy in the journey and honestly, I have noticed a difference. Not necessarily in Liam’s behavior, but in my reactions. I have found myself laughing at Liam instead of getting frustrated with him. The little angry shake he demonstrated last night left me giggling because he was so angry I washed his hair. Instead of ignoring his behavior and feeling annoyed like I would have done  last week, I told him that wasn’t very nice and we went about our night. I have found myself being more patient. I have looked for the teachable moments instead of just giving in to his demands because it is the easy thing to do. I am figuring out how to embrace and thrive during this next phase of motherhood. Yes, Liam is his own person. Yes, I am going to get frustrated with him. Yes, he is going to get frustrated with me. But, through it all I hope Liam can feel my unconditional love for him and we can both grown together. Poor kid, he is my guinea pig.

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Toddler Bag of Tricks

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Everyone knows the term of “Survival of the Fittest.” You know, those who are unfit or struggle for existence are eliminated. Well, Liam, Trevor, and I run our own test of survival of the fittest every week at church. Who is going to outlast, outwit, and outperform… the parent or the child?

Alright, that may be a little dramatic, but church feels like that every week! We have three hours of church which means three hours of wrestling Liam to be quiet and well behaved. It. Is. Exhausting.  I think it is good for him to learn that there are times when you can be crazy and run around, and there are times when you need to sit (somewhat) quietly and play. My kid is crazy, as I am sure a lot of one-year-olds are, but I have a feeling that Sundays are going to struggle for the next 18 years. Lucky me! {insert sarcasm here}

My mom always had a fun bag of tricks that we took to church every Sunday. So, I decided my project this week would be to create my own bag of tricks to take to church in hopes that we can enjoy church and not dread it. My thought is that this will be a special bag that we will only use at church so Liam won’t get bored of the toys. If you aren’t church goers, I think these things would also work great at restaurants. I’ve already been tempted to take a few of them with me when we went out to eat this weekend.

Liam likes to do things. He likes to figure out puzzles and work. So here are some things I have put together for our Sunday bag of tricks.

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A quiet book – My mom got me this before Liam was born. Some of the items are too complicated for Liam now, but there are a few pages that keep him busy like the fishing pole and the Velcro snowman.

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Pom Pom Box – I made this simple pom pom box. Nothing fancy. It has a hole in the top that Liam can drop the pom poms in. Then he can open the lid, get them out, and repeat.

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Velco Page Folders – Since the Velcro page in the Quiet Book is such a hit I made a couple Velcro games. Super easy and cheap to make. They are thin pieces of wood from Hobby Lobby painted with paper mod podged on top. Then I added Velcro to foam cutouts and stuck them on the boards.

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Stacking cups from IKEA $2.99 – These may be a little noisy, but Liam loves to stack things up and take them down.

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Finger puppets from IKEA $4.99finger puppets

Fabric stacking rings from IKEA $4.99

Toy train from IKEA $3.99

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Crayons, notebook, and stickers

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Snacks and water bottle – I found his adorable Elmo snack holder at Walmart. Liam likes to open and shut the mouth to get his snacks

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Mini m&ms – I think it’s safe to say Liam is addicted to these things. I save these until the end when I am desperate. I use them as my final “trick.” Otherwise, Liam will down the whole thing in five minutes.

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If there is something that works for you and your kids during church please leave a comment. I’d like to know what else I can add! Thanks for stopping by!

Sick Babies: An Initiation into Motherhood

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When you hear of initiations you think of bizarre rituals young adults participate in to join a college fraternity, at least I do. Well folks, I feel like I participated in my own outlandish ritual this weekend to earn my way into the fraternity know as “Motherhood.” Everyone who is a mom and has had a sick baby knows what I am talking about. And if you haven’t had the pleasure of trying to comfort your sick baby, you will. 🙂

I have considered myself lucky that we made it a year into Liam’s life with only a few colds here and there and maybe one fever. But, my luck could only hold out for so long. Poor baby LT got a stomach bug over the weekend and it was seriously the worst. Liam woke up crying in the middle of the night on Friday. I’m not going to lie, I was feeling a little frustrated when he woke up because lately he seems to sense when it’s the weekend and is like, “COOL! It’s the weekend which means…ALL NIGHTER with MOM!” I know the little guy isn’t deliberately trying to sleep deprive his poor mom, but it does seem that way sometimes. Anyway, my frustrations completely melted away when I walked into his bedroom Friday night and immediately smelt vomit. Everything was covered and his little baby face was looking at me wondering what had just happened. I felt so guilty for trying to let him soothe himself back to sleep for a few minutes. Mom of the year, I know. {Tear emoji} After that I wanted to do anything I could to make him feel better. Seeing your baby sick and not feeling well is the worst. You want to make it better for them, but all you can do is give snuggles and let them know you are there.

We snuggled all night after Trev cleaned him up in the tub and I tacked the cleaning of the crib and scrubbing the puke out of my mom’s brand new carpet. Of course he had to be sick while we are staying at my parents. The two more times we had to clean puke out of my parent’s carpet was the icing on top of the cake. So I thought…

No, no. The icing on the cake with sprinkles on top was when I got sick, then Trevor, then my mom, then my dad, then my sister who only saw us for a couple hours on Sunday. Yup, that nasty little bug took down five adults and one baby in a 72 hour period.  I don’t know how Liam remained his happy baby self all day Saturday and Sunday if he was feeling like we all felt on Sunday and Monday. The good news is we all survived and I did learn some valuable lessons.

  1. Moms are underrated. No one really appreciates their mom taking care of them when they are sick until they are a mom and experience it themselves.
  2. If you baby isn’t acting himself then something is probably up. Listen to your instincts.
  3. When you someone is sick in your house Lysol and hand sanitizer is your best friend.

Taking care of a sick, puking baby is a rite a passage that every mom will achieve. Furthermore, being sick yourself and taking care of a sick baby is a skill you won’t even know you had until you are there. I can honestly say I am happy to have that “first” under my belt. Fist bump to all moms out there. You ROCK!

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Cruising the Amazon

Some of my favorite memories growing up were family vacations. My parents didn’t have a lot of money, but they made an effort to do one family vacation a year. Most of the time they were close by to California, Montana, Nevada, but there were a couple time where we were able to go to Disney World in Florida. When I was a teenager and my parents had a little more money we went to Europe for a couple weeks.  I have memories on playing mermaids or rescue with sisters in the pool or going fishing with my dad and grandpa. Some families do boating or camping, my uncle’s family likes to go river rafting. Whatever the activity is, I think it is important to find something to do as family; to get away from the world and bond. Trevor and I have talked about wanting that for our family as well.

Dad fishing

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Traveling as a child developed my love for traveling as an adult. As a part of my job I have been lucky enough to do a little traveling. There is one trip that stands out that I want my family to experience down the road….Cruising down the Amazon River.

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I flew into Manaus, Brazil and stayed overnight in a local hotel. The hotel restaurant made Ahh-mazing tapioca crepes with sweetened condensed milk, bananas, and powdered sugar. My mouth is watering just thinking about them. I have bought tapioca flour before to try and re-create the deliciousness, but can’t seem to get it right.

Anyway…

Once we boarded the “ship” or very large boat they gave us our safety training. In an emergency we were told to plug our nose and jump in the water. Wait, WHAT? Piranhas and alligators live in these waters and you want me to jump right in? Luckily we had no need to jump in the water, but it was in the back of my head the whole cruise.

The ship we were on was small with only about 70 cabins so you really got to know the friendly local staff. Every morning and every afternoon speed boats would pick us up and take us on small adventures around the river.

We visited a local village. The people were so kind and selfless. They taught us how to climb a tree to get the fruit at the top. The poor cows here were super thin. I felt sad for them inside.

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We hiked in the rain forest where it DOWN POURED. What did I expect; it’s the rain forest, right?

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We went piranha fishing. That speaks for itself. Occasionally a fish would get loose on the boat and everyone was jumping up on the seats not wanting to get attacked by the piranha. Ha, looking back it probably was a little dramatic.

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We hunted for Caymans (baby alligators) in the dead of night. The night sky on the Amazon River was so clear. It was one of the prettiest views I have ever seen in my life.

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There are pink freshwater dolphins that we saw on occasion although I never got a good picture of them.

When we weren’t out exploring we were enjoying each other’s company on the deck of the ship. We ate popcorn, played bingo, and enjoyed the scenery.

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I hope that someday I can experience this trip again with the ones I love most.

A penny saved is a penny earned.

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I have a confession to make. The year Trevor and I got married we argued about money. Alot. Before we got married we made the decision that we would join our bank accounts and consider what each of earned as “our” money.  It has been totally worth it and I wouldn’t have done it any other way, but man, that first year was tough! We are two different people with different ideas on how to spend money. I’m an everyday budget breaker that likes to spend $20 bucks here and there which adds up quick. Trev, on the other hand, will occasionally feel the need to splurge on larger, more expensive items.

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On top of both our splurging habits we ate out a lot and did a lot of fun activities during the weekend. We were living the life! The problem was we didn’t realize how quickly everything was adding up. As 21 year olds going to school, we quickly figured out that we needed some way to track our money. I attempted to track it on a spread sheet, but I wasn’t ever consistent enough for it to be effective.

I can’t remember who recommended this website to us, but it has been a lifesaver. It is called Mint.com. It is a financial support website that we have used for the past five years for budgeting. It tracks where we spend money and then categorizes it into the budgets we set up. We have a mortgage budget, grocery budget, gas budget, amusement budget, baby supplies budget… okay, we have like 30 budgets so I won’t list off all of them. The point is you can have a budget for practically everything.

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When transactions are made Mint categorized the purchase to a budget. The system is pretty smart to know when you purchase something at Smiths it is likely going to come out of the grocery budget. But, if Mint gets it wrong, you can reassign the transaction to be accounted for in the correct budget.mint.com 3

By tracking our spending habits online we have been able to really see what we are spending money on and where we need to cut back. Do we really need to spend $300 on eating out every month, umm…no. So, we set a budget for eating out and try to stick to it as closely as possible.

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Trevor recommended this website to one of his co-workers. His friend got set-up with his own account and a couple hours later Trev saw his friend in the corner getting noticeably frustrated. Trev went over to see what was wrong and his friend said that he had just categorized his purchases and he and his wife had spent $600 on just alcohol in one month. It was an eye opener for him.

I’ll be honest, we do not stick to our budgets ALL THE TIME, but this website keeps us in check. Life happens, and there are always unforeseen expenses that come up. But, we have been able to budget for savings and set goals so that we are not blowing money and just getting by every month.

It does take a little time to set up and link your bank accounts and credit cards, but it is a one-time thing and totally worth it. It is a secure website that is absolutely free. If you are wondering where your money goes every month or just need a good way of tracking your money I recommend this website. We may not be able to buy everything we want on a whim, but In the six years we have been married we have been able to buy and sale two homes, both graduate with bachelor degrees, buy cars, go on vacations, and I proud to say that our only debt is our current home. Not to be dramatic or anything, but mint.com will change your life…or…at least how you spend money. 🙂

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Homemade Oreos

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I  double dog dare you to try and resist this homemade goodness. It’s impossible.

Homemade Oreo Cookies
2 Betty Crocker Devil food cake mixes
1 1/2 cup of shortening (yeah, these aren’t healthy cookies)
4 eggs
The cookie balls are going to be fairly small. I like to use a mini ice cream scoop.
Bake for 8 minutes at 350 degrees.
Filling
1 Betty Crocker Vanilla Frosting
Try not to devour in one sitting!