I want to be completely candid about my thoughts on participating in this project and viewing the final result. When Chris Wiegand first emailed me about it, I had to mull it over for a little while but decided it would be a fun thing to be a part of.
I have always loved Chris’ wife, Casey. I think it really doesn’t take all that long to determine if someone in the blog world is genuine or not. Casey is one of the good ones. A kind and gentle voice in my weekly reader. I didn’t know Chris but I watched some of his previous work and saw his talent. When he pulled up in my driveway, I was nervous and excited.
I didn’t have a lot of details other than that it would be a film about bloggers across America and even after participating, I still didn’t have a clear picture on exactly how he would tell the story.
Chris was an exceptionally nice guy. Just as kind and genuine as Casey and it was fun to talk about my blogging experience and have him tag along for the day as we spent time together as a family.
Months passed and I didn’t think about the film all that much. I was excited to watch the trailer but I’ll admit that my reaction to it was tepid. The voice over made me cringe and the promises of the film “changing the world” made me more than a little nervous. Certainly nothing I had shared with Chris on film was world changing.
I only know about a third of the bloggers in the film, but the lack of diversity is undeniable. We are all women, most of us are white and appear to be middle class. There are two non-white bloggers and a handful of blogger children in the film of different ethnicities.
The title “American Blogger” got a lot of flack from the broader internet audience. It was blatantly obvious that, despite its name, this film is not an all encompassing look at American Bloggers. It was definitely a more focused feature on a set of niche lifestyle, fashion, and family bloggers in the US. I think had the title been more specific and the voice over been a little less presumptuous, they would have received far less negative feedback on the trailer. I do think that the lack of diversity was going to be an issue no matter what. I think there was a real missed opportunity there. Chris did add “American Blogger - The First Journey” to the final film after the trailer was released to clarify that this was only the first of many AB films he hoped to make.
I believe that Chris’ intentions were always good. He set out to make a film on a subject dear to his family and utilized the bloggers that Casey had established relationships with to do so. There was never any intent to exclude and I think it just comes down to the fact that Chris is young film maker and a bit naive. I’m not making excuses for him but I hope he learned a hard and valuable lesson on this project. I haven’t spoken with Chris or Casey, but I imagine both of their world views have been broadened significantly with this experience.
Chris sent out an early viewing to all of the bloggers involved last night. I was so nervous to watch it that I felt slightly nauseous. I couldn’t remember a damn word I had said to him in my interviews but was convinced I’d probably made a complete fool of myself.
The beginning of the film focused far more on Chris’ experience than I had anticipated. The story of American Blogger is much more about the intersection of Chris’ familial experience with capturing life through words and video & the experiences of other bloggers than just a film on the bloggers themselves. I think it would have been benificial to promote the two intersecting stories of the film as it helps to tie in the official documentary image and the trailer much better.
I was also really curious to see how Chris was going to tie in so many different bloggers from the same blog genre. There was definitely a lot of visible similarities between us all (lots of vintage couches and red lipstick and spinning around with children in our arms) but there were also some really personal, beautiful stories intermingled in the interviews. I definitely teared up at one point in the middle of the film.
There were a few parts that I thought were a poor reflection on bloggers- The “here is my room full of free shoes and handbags” segment made me want to fast forward and the excessively long section of the film dedicated to bloggers opinions on “people who leave mean comments on blogs” seemed unnecessary. Addressing trolls and haters is certainly a necessary part of discussing the blog writing experience - but the commentary was all one sided. I have definitely had my fair share of nasty comments on my blog but I also think it’s important to be challenged by my readers. To take constructive criticism when it is valid. I have had some of my own narrow views and opinions expanded through dialogue in the comments of my blog and I’m wary of the way the film made it seem as if many of the bloggers wished only to participate in a community where people agreed with them.
The cinematography is beautiful. Chris has a real talent for telling a story through images. The footage of some of my favorite bloggers just made my heart want to burst with love for them. I’ve known some of these women for years solely through their photos and blog words and to see them on film laughing and sharing a little of themselves was really fun for me. I was unfamiliar with many of the women in the film and I’m looking forward to exploring several of their blogs and finding some new inspiration for my blog reader.
I believe wholeheartedly everything I shared about my experience in the film. I could have toned down the red lips and done without that dang brown hat, but otherwise, I stand behind my contribution to American Blogger.
When the credits rolled, I felt relieved.The silly voice over man from the trailer had not shown up for the entire length of the film. It left me feeling like I could be real life friends with most of the women. I think within the small scope of the genre that was covered, Chris did us justice. A lot of the bloggers in the film do have a lot in common. We are but one small set of a much larger blogging community but each of us has a unique story to tell. I hope that Chris will take the lessons he learned on this project and apply them to his next American Blogger project. So much was shared in this film, but it’s really only the beginning of a much bigger story within the American blogging community.
P.S. It’s kind of KILLING me that I can’t get the comments to work on my blog right now but if you watch the film, I’d love to hear your perspective. Tweet me at @withoutmelissa or email me at email@example.com.
I thought today would be an appropriate time to share a little earth friendly recipe that we have been using at our house this spring. The wasps and carpenter bees are out in full effect since the weather has warmed up and we discovered a nasty little wasp nest right near our front porch.
I wanted an earth and kid friendly solution to keeping the bugs at bay and found a slew of online recipes for a natural wasp spray.
Mix 1/4 cup of dish soap (We use Seventh Generation!)
1/2 cup of water
20-25 drops of peppermint essential oil (available at any healthfood store or on amazon)
Shake it up in a spray bottle and you are ready to go. I sprayed a fine mist around the perimeter of our porch where the wasps had been swarming and we enjoyed a couple hours of bug free time on the porch.
If you spray it in the general direction of a wasp, they will fly away and leave you alone, but I also discovered that if you are able to saturate them with the solution (a couple of sprays) that within about 20 seconds, they will curl up and die.
I’ve also had carpenter bees trying to eat underneath a wooden bench on my porch. I spray the solution around the bottom base of my bench once a day and on the places they were chewing and they have left it alone since.
I haven’t attempted to spray the solution directly on to the wasps nest, but I’ve been really pleased with the way this easy, non toxic spray has done to keep the wasps away from our favorite play areas this spring.
While I’m on the subject of non-toxic, if you haven’t already, go sign the petition and read about Seventh Generation's Toxin Free campaign to ask congress and the EPA to enforce safer chemical standards in our household products. They've already met their 100,000+ signature goal but the more names they can take to congress the better!
I have been purchasing Seventh Generation products for years now. It started when we lived in San Francisco and I found a little book that listed the most eco friendly companies in the United States. Seeing Seventh Generation at the top of the list made me determined to spend my money on a brand who is thoughtful about their impact on the environment.
Over the years, I’ve become very loyal to their products. It is their products that cleaned the floors my children learned to crawl on. It is their diapers and wipes that my children wore when we need disposables. It is their detergents and soaps that washed our clothes and our dishes.
I trust them because I know their products are safe and I choose them because I want to support companies that care about more than just making money.
When Seventh Generation reached out to me and asked if I’d like to partner with them, I expected that like most sponsors, they wanted me to help promote their products, but they actually wanted something even better.
They wanted my help in spreading the word about a bigger message- One that goes far beyond their company and their products. Seventh Generation recently launched a petition to tell Congress it’s time to strengthen the Toxic Substance Control Act. The TSCA was last updated by the EPA 38 years ago. The act essentially grandfathers in the approval of thousands and thousands of chemicals used to make products that we all use in our homes everyday. Very few of these approved chemicals have been tested and proven safe for human exposure and yet we are cleaning our counters and wiping our door handles and washing our dishes with products containing these chemicals.
Seventh Generation wants Congress to strengthen the rules around what chemicals can be used in household products. As it stands now, more than 50% of the chemicals in many of the household cleaning products we all use every day have never been tested for potential human toxicity.
Seventh Generations’ goal is to take 100,00 signatures to congress next month and they need our help. They are very close to their goal and I’d love to help them reach it!
One of Everly’s responsibilities in our family is cleaning all of the windows within her reach every Saturday. It brings me a lot of peace of mind to know that the Seventh Generation products in our home are safe for her and anyone else under our roof.
Let’s help Seventh Generation ensure the same can be said for the chemicals used in all household products in the US!
Last year, I shared a little about my Grandma Doris, in the weeks that she took ill and her passing. I spoke at her funeral and shared a story with everyone who knew and loved her:
"As many of you know, Grandma Doris had a gift for growing the most gorgeous African Violets. She had them in varying colors - some with dark green, fuzz covered leaves. Others with white and green trimmed leaves. Some with deep purple blooms, others the softest shade of lavender. Some she had even grown until they were as large as a dinner plate.
Nearly 10 years ago, when I was 23, Grandma Doris sent me home from a visit with one of her prized violets. I tried to convince her that I was not responsible enough to care for it but she promised me that I would do just fine. Violets are such delicate plants and I had killed every green thing I’d ever cared for including a cactus. But not one to tell my grandmother no, I took it from with her instructions to keep it watered and give it plenty of sun and treat it to a little plant food every now and then.
When Brent and I moved to San Francisco, that small violet caused me a great deal of worry. How was I supposed to transport it across the country when everything we owned would be on a hot moving truck for 7 days? I decided to wrap it carefully in layer upon layer of bubble wrap, mark it all over with FRAGILE and overnight it to our new address the day before our plane left.
When it arrived, I opened the box to find the planter had broken and almost all of the the stems had been crushed. I was distraught. It was at this same time that Grandma was going through a difficult time health wise. I re-potted that little violet and did my best, with Grandma’s words ringing in my ears, to nurse it back to health.
It bloomed a year later and I shared the news with grandma over the phone. In that same conversation, she told me that she was well and happy. It sounds silly, I know - but I became convinced that there was a greater connection between my grandmother and that violet. It felt as if I was responsible for the care of a tiny piece of her.
That violet now lives next to the sink in my kitchen. It has not bloomed in several years but the day I learned she had passed, I found myself standing in the local garden center with tears in my eyes, asking one of the workers there to help me find the right pot and food for it. I smile, knowing that grandma is in full bloom in heaven, and here on earth, I guess I cant help but wish to see that small piece she left to me burst open again with the bright purple flowers she loved so much.
It’s always the little things that we find peace in. And I have great peace in knowing that my grandmother, a woman of integrity, gentleness and a great love for her Heavenly father, is there with Him now. She is rejoicing in a healed body and sound mind and I know she wishes for us to do the same in her honor.
This morning, I made her famous homemade biscuit recipe for my family. I took great pleasure in making my children “funny biscuits” - little odd shaped biscuits out of the leftover dough cutouts that she always made for me and my cousins growing up. We ate them on the beautiful china adored with pink roses that she passed down to me when I got married. It was the first time I have ever used them, as I have felt they were too precious and fancy to bring out.
But this morning, I could think of no occasion more fitting for their use than the day we were to celebrate her life.
As I washed my plate at the sink after breakfast, I looked over at that violet, sitting tall and green in its new pot. All those years ago, she had faith in me to love and care for that little flower, even when I was so sure I couldn’t do it. And now it lives on, a reminder of her love, her patience, and the beauty that is her eternal life in heaven.
Rest well grandma, I love you.”
Next week marks the one year anniversary of her passing.
I have diligently fed and watered her violet for ten years now. It last bloomed five years ago. A few months back, I brought grandma’s violet to my office so that I could have some little living thing there to enjoy during my work days. The violet thrived under the flourescent lamp on my desk.
I walked into my office last Wednesday to discover that the wish I shared at her funeral had come true. A single purple bloom had burst open between the velvety leaves. In the days since, ten more buds have started to grow and three more flowers have opened.
When I was little, Grandma Doris would send me a card for every holiday: Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, even St. Patrick’s Day. I don’t care if it sounds crazy to anyone else, but in my heart, I know it’s her way of sending her love to me as we come upon the anniversary of an entire year without her in the world.
And in the quiet, slow opening of its petals, I experienced one more gesture of her love.
I just discovered that some terrible fate has befallen my blog theme. I think it died of old age as I’ve changed nothing but my header for the past five years. I logged into tumblr today and was told some funny business had been going on under my account and was asked to change my password.
I have been saying for several years now that I need to have a new look and feel and it appears that my blog or some bad guy blog saboteur has decided it was tired of my lazy, empty promises and forced my hand to make a change.
I asked around on twitter for help, but if you know a guy who knows a girl who knows how to create pretty, fresh tumblr themes - send ‘em my way! (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Five Awesome Things About Arlo at 2 years, 11 months.
1. You are the most affectionate kid. Over and over all day long you love to say, “Mommy, I love you” or “You the best mommy!” and you tell daddy and Everly the same thing too. You will stop playing, run over and hug us, and then hurry back to whatever you were doing.
2. You have become completely obsessed with super heroes. After a solid year of a cars and trucks love affair, you’ve traded them all for action figures. You love Iron Man the most, followed by Spider Man, The Incredible Hulk and Bat Man. You just discovered Captain America so there has been a lot of talk about him lately too. You can’t get enough and love watching the young superheros shows on Netflix or running around our house in a cape, fighting crime and saving us all from bad guys. Daddy reads you superhero comics from the library and you sit there, enthralled with all of the details of each character.
3. I find this hilarious, but you can not stand for your hands to be dirty. Your face can be covered in food but you will ask for a napkin almost immediately when we start eating and insist on wiping your hands whenever you get anything on them. I find you in the bathroom all of the time, standing on the toilet lid, playing in the water. You will often look up when caught and say, “I washin’ my hands!”. You literally could be covered head to toe in mud, but as long as your hands are clean, you are good to go.
4. You are really into singing Old MacDonald right now. Except you like to freestyle and come up with new lyrics. According to you, Old MacDonald had some friend, had to poop, and ate a chicken on his farm recently. You love to laugh hysterically at your silly lyrics.
5. A few months ago, you went through a stage where you were stuttering a lot. You would get really frustrated when you were hung up on the first word in a sentence. I called your pediatrician and she suspected that you were just working through a big verbal milestone. Sure enough, a few weeks later your stuttering lessened significantly and you started using bigger words and sharing more complex ideas with us. I have really loved watching you develop your language skills, Arlo. It hasn’t always come easy to you but you work so hard and always wow us with your determination.
5 Awesome Things about Everly at 4 years, 3 months
1. You are the best dancer ever. I am not saying that because I am your mother, even though I fully admit to being biased. You just move in this incredibly weird, amazing, soulful way. I could sit and watch you move to music for hours and I often do. We have you in ballet right now, but I don’t care if you ever decide you want to go the classically trained route. I just hope you never ever stop listening to whatever it is inside you that takes over when you are dancing. It is so pure and true and wonderful.
2. You are growing into such a wonderful companion. We spend a lot of time together each week just running errands and bopping around town. You are so easy to be with and I love having you along because you listen well and behave yourself. You are four years old and to this day, I can say that you have never had a public tantrum. Never once. You’ve definitely had some monster meltdowns in the car or at home, but bless your heart, you’ve spared me in public. I never hesitate to bring you along because I always enjoy having you there with me.
3. You are really absorbing so much around you. We have intentionally waited to start any kind of formal education with you and have focused on exposing you to creative, free play as long as possible. Despite that, you’ve learned to write your name, your brothers name, and many letters and words on your own. You love to use words like “similar” and “hilarious” when you describe things. Last week you asked me a question and I answered with “potentially”. You asked what that meant and I explained. That night I asked you to please join us for dinner and you responded, “I will potentially be there after I’m done playing with my babies.” I had a good laugh, even if I didn’t like your answer.
4. You are obsessed with your birthday. It’s a joke between your father and I now, because you bring it up several times a day. Usually you like to tell us what your next birthday party is going to be like, but sometimes you tell us who you want us to invite or what kind of cake you plan to have. You always know whose birthday is coming next in our family and you remind them for weeks leading up to it.
5. You are still my fierce and fiery girl, but as you have transitioned into four, that crazy emotion of three feels like it is lessening with each passing day. Good gracious three was crazy! But I can really see you maturing emotionally and you’re ability to recognize your feelings and express yourself continues to grow. It’s hard sometimes, when it feels like you are running head first into the boundaries we set - but you make choices and do little things all of the time that remind us that you are growing up to be a phenomenal girl.
We threw together a little last minute dinner party to celebrate my birthday last Saturday. (It was kind of a miracle that babysitters and an uncommitted Saturday night happened on 2 days notice.) I had hoped to have dinner in our front yard with lights in the trees, but the forecast called for a night of rain and storms, so we pushed back furniture, pinned the lights to the walls and squeezed 20 people into our small living and dining room.
Natasha spent an afternoon procuring the ingredients to make my favorite cocktail, a Pimms Cup- she even made a ginger based simple syrup from scratch. She loaded it with mint and cucumbers and lemons - and Oh man, were they good.
Among our closest friends, we are fortunate enough to have a slew of amazing cooks. Our potluck spread included a ridiculous charcuterie board, mussels in white wine sauce, a thai soba noodle dish, kale salad with raisins and pine nuts, grilled citrus rubbed chicken, roasted broccoli, stuffed peppers and a homemade strawberry shortcake for dessert. It was just incredible!
Our party was interrupted momentarily after dinner when all of our phones went off with a tornado warning. Suddenly everyone was on the phone to grandparents and baby sitters making sure all of our little ones were safe.
After dinner we moved the long table in the living room and we had a mini house concert with friends playing djembe, violin, banjo and guitar. There was a distinct moment when I was sitting crossed legged in a chair, listening to everyone sing Van Morrison and I just looked around the room felt so happy and satisfied.
In my 33 years, I have managed to find an incredible, hilarious, and supportive group of people to go through this life with me. The “stuff” of life isn’t where I measure my success, it’s in the people who show up when there is good to be celebrate or hardships to be faced. And in that department, my riches are many.
I welcome 33. Every day I ask God for another day, another year, and a lifetime to see my children grow up…. to have the chance to love my husband as a very old man.
I want to enjoy growing older. To laugh a lot along the way. To build my wealth in people. And to live purposefully and with intention. My twenties were tumultuous- a roller coaster of discovering myself, often fun and mostly unstable. But here, in my thirties, I have found a treasure I spent most of the last decade wishing for. I don’t know what trials and lessons lie ahead, but today, I am savoring the warmth and comfort of feeling content.
Oh man! How long has it been since I did a fashion post? I went back and looked and it’s been nearly four months! I used to do these monthly and hope that with the warmer weather on the way and a slow down in my schedule that I’ll be able to document more of the clothes I wear to work and to play.
I wore this so long ago, I’m not entirely sure where I wore it- but this is my kind of outfit. I love this cropped, long sleeve top because it allows me to wear my maxi dresses during winter. Also, these black boots are a wardrobe staple - they go with EVERYTHING!
This is pushing it in terms of work appropriate but I’ve definitely been guilty of wearing things to the office every now and then that were probably more suited for the weekend. I love how layering a sweater with a sleeveless dress created an entirely new look. I was self concious and tugged at the bottom of this dress all day! I think I wouldn’t have worried if my hemline was about two inches longer. Even if I did like the outfit, I don’t think I’ll be wearing this particular dress again any time soon!
I wore this right before the holidays and joked that I looked like Santa clause with my red shirt and big brass belt buckle! You can’t tell it in this photo, but this shirt has a pretty brass colored sequined color that made it really fun to wear. Also, I have been wearing these black heels TO DEATH!
Button down top: Target
I totally love this photo of me and my silly kids! I got really into this sweater/dress layer technique over the winter and so I did it A LOT. Here I’ve layered my favorite fisherman sweater underneath a really fun little graphic dress. I felt great in this!
Dress: Stitch Fix
Pink coat: Crewcuts
Leggings: (A little DIY I made with a bleach pen)
Plaid button down: Old Navy
Ooof. This is a bit of a rough photo (Arlo hasn’t been sleeping well lately, so neither have we!) and the state of my roots is just beyond at this point (Those unexpected household expenses keep pushing “get my hair done” further and further down on the things to pay for list) But despite all of it, I loved this outfit, so I’ve decided to post it anyway. We were having a little Valentine’s day themed event at work and so I wanted to wear something to fit the day. I never fail to get one million compliments when I wear this skirt. And also —- I loved the shoes the Minx sent me so much in black that I bought myself the taupe pair too. They are definitely the most versatile shoes in my closet.
If you follow me on instagram, you’ve seen my head first dive into the world of yoga this year. It started innocently enough. A few girlfriends of mine participated in a yoga challenge where each day you try a different post.
After seeing them stand on their hands and balance on their arms, I thought - I want to try! It all looked gymnasticky in a way that the 6 year old inside me always longs for. I did a few of the daily poses and quickly realized I was going to hurt myself if I just jumped into doing challenging poses without any kind of background or foundation in yoga.
I have always hated to work out. I don’t have the time or money to go to a gym. Despite the fact that Brent and a large chunk of my friends love to run, I have always hated it. I did a 6 week workout class offered in the late afternoon by my company last fall - but even that didn’t keep me motivated to continue once it ended.
Like most people, motivation has always been my greatest challenge. Beyond that, after working 8 hours, and then jumping into making dinner and soaking in what little time I have with the kids before they go to sleep, I had pretty much convinced myself that I was out of options when it came to exercise.
I needed something quiet, that I could do on my own, with little to no equipment, without ever having to leave my home at 11 o’clock at night.
That silly instagram yoga challenge lit a spark and very quickly I realized that yoga could meet all of my needs with the added bonus of helping to relieve some stress.
I started doing basic yoga routines that I could find on youtube. I didn’t know a Vinyasa from an Ashtanga so in the beginning I was just looking for anything that seemed doable. At the same time, I started to follow a ton of yoga focused instagram accounts where people would post videos that showed how they go into posts & what considerations you needed to make.
I found myself excited every day to throw on something comfortable and do one of the yoga practices I was learning after the kids were in bed. I think what also really kept me engaged with the challenge of doing what looked impossible to me. I am so competitive with myself. If I discover something I can’t do, I can get a little obsessive about trying it over and over again until I figure it out. This has proven to be a good and bad trait when it comes to yoga.
I’ll admit right now, I know sometimes I am doing poses that are way too advanced for someone who has only been practicing for two months. But it is those technical, challenging poses that have kept me hungry to keep at it. So every night, I’ll do a 45 minute vinyasa flow practice (hello sun salutations!) and once I’m warmed up, I’ll work on one or two of the advanced poses that I’ve seen others do and want to learn myself.
I am covered in bruises from falling out of headstand. I have fallen on my face dozens of times practicing crow or flying pigeon. But honestly, I just love it so much, I don’t even care. Fall down, try again, repeat. Eventually, it starts to come together and the thrill of holding a difficult pose is a bit addictive!
A lot of people have told me that while all the enthusiasm is great - what I really need is a class where I can learn proper placement and breathing. And they are right - but the reality is that I can’t afford to take a regular class and the free ones offered at work are at times that my schedule doesn’t allow me to go. So the alternative for me is watching videos of workouts, studying placement and breathing, reading magazine articles and googling how-tos on technique and correcting when I discovered that what I was doing something incorrectly. Often, I will video record my practice and then watch it back so that I can see what my feet or arms or posture looks like. I ask anyone I know who practices regularly to show me things. I am so hungry to learn but trying to make the best of the resources I have.
A few weeks back, I discovered yogaglo.com and it has taken my practice to the next level. It’s $15 a month (or about the cost of one class at my local studio!) and gives me access to hundreds of videos that I can break down based on style, length of class, complexity, theme, etc.
The classes are really good, with a realistic camera angle in a REAL yoga studio in LA. People taking the class in the video are sometimes a little wobbly, just like me, which I like. The teachers talk about hand and foot placements, and have taught me a lot about proper breathing. I love that they offer 5 minute videos that I can do at my desk at work and hour long videos on how to work into scorpion or specifically focused on arm balances. I’m not affiliated with them in anyway - but I’m really so happy to have discovered this online resource.
It has turned my practice from a series of moves into what is starting to feel like a real practice. Fluid and purposeful. And still, after every class, I will take some time to work on holding flying pigeon longer and longer. Or bending slowly into forearm scorpion. I laugh at myself when I discover I’ve been getting into a pose all wrong and love discovering that the right way feels easier and more sturdy.
I am watching my body change. I am becoming stronger than I have ever been before, which is so exciting to me. I have always been a bit scrappy and weak so getting tone in my arms and being able to bend up into a headstand and then hold it for several minutes is so rewarding. It’s just so exciting to finally feel like I’ve found that “thing” that I was looking for when it came to exercise and mind/body wellness. I am so new to all of this, but I am so eager to learn and I can’t wait to really know what I am doing one day.
I just thought I’d share a little about my experience as I think there are probably a lot of other women out there feeling just as frustrated with the whole idea of exercise as I have been. Yoga is so much more than just a work out - the hardest parts for me have been how much it tests my mental focus and forces me to slow down and be purposeful. But it also provides a lot of opportunity to have fun and get creative. I am absolutely loving it and just wanted to share a little bit about my experience here.
Everly: wait, wait, wait… I know it’s bed time, but just one question…
Everly: Can I borrow that dress you have on tomorrow?
(Four years old and already in my closet. Not a day goes by that I don’t find her standing in her room wearing my heels, my hat, a scarf and one of my tops as a dress. So often she’ll catch me watching her and she’ll just say to me nonchalantly without skipping a beat in her imaginary play, “I told you it was time to pick the kids up! We’re going to be late.” And then she’ll just sashay away in my too big heels. )
Last night Everly told me that I was ruining her life.
My initial response to this news was shock because, how did she even know what that meant and where had she heard it before? (I’m choosing to blame Good Luck Charlie since she loves that show)
My second response was amusement. Did we really just hear that? A four year old, stomping her foot and dramatically claiming that her life was ruined because I wouldn’t make her a pb&j before bed? I thought I had a solid ten to twelve years left before the claims of life ruining started to fly.
Here’s what I know. My daughter is full of emotions. A lot of emotions. They are coming out of her eyes and mouth and heart at a rate and speed that I often feel unprepared to manage.
But we have also learned some tactics for helping her with all these feelings. We redirect her a lot. We empathize with her. We talk about right and wrong ways to express ourselves.
For instance, instead of saying, “Leave me alone!” she has learned to say, “I need privacy, please”
She loves to tell me, “Mommy, you aren’t mad at me but you are frustrated, aren’t you?” (Truth moment, I get “frustrated” a lot. I work on being a patient and flexible mama every day, but just like Everly, I have a long way to go.)
We focus on helping our children feel like they have some control by offering them choices. One of Everly’s favorite things to ask when she has to do something she doesn’t want to is, “What are my options?” Option 1 and Option 2. She is happy because she feels like she made the choice and we are happy because we made the options.
Brent and I are reading a lot of books and blogs from parenting experts and picking and choosing what parts of all of these philosophies we think make sense for our family. There are some great ones out there (Here are some posts that are inspiring me right now: Gateway Parenting, Pyramid Discipline, Love and Blogic) I’d like to share more thoughts on Love & Logic later as we are reading a whole series on this philosophy now.
But beyond that, we are doing our best to think on our feet and hang on for the ride. Sometimes by the very tips of our fingers.
I don’t know if it is a boy thing or an Arlo thing, but at two and a half, he hasn’t given us much trouble. I know Everly really kicked the emotions into high gear around three, so perhaps we just haven’t rounded that corner yet with him. Arlo is pretty black and white on what he wants and what he needs. Now that he is able to verbally communicate, he is laid back and easy to please.
But our Everly, she is fire and drama and emotion. She has been this way from a very young age. We are told often that Everly is mature for her age - she understands a lot of nuances and subtle contexts in her interactions with others that really surprise us. But she is still very much a four year old with a four year’s old ability to process and express her feelings. We pull from our patience reserves on a regular basis with her, and often we still run out.
For all the ways that I feel like I am fumbling along at times, there are a two truths that we feel really work for our family.
1. We can’t solve all of their problems and we’re not supposed to. In Everly’s case, we are here for gentle guidance and to let her know she is loved and supported but sometimes life just doesn’t work out the way we want it. Learning to deal with disappointment is part of learning to be a functioning adult. Learning to problem solve on our own is even more critical.
2. In this family we talk to each with respect. All of us. Our children towards us and us towards our children. We reinforce this a lot. When Everly shouts a demand at us, we remind her, “I’m sorry, but that’s now how we ask for things in this family.” We don’t respond until she asks us calmly and respectfully. We use “in this family” a lot. In this family we eat dinner together. In this family we don’t slam our doors and scream. We are constantly trying to reinforce that we are a unit, the four of us, and the actions we take impact us all. We are in this together.
And yet, there are plenty of days when I am still ruining my daughter’s life. Because it’s not always easy when you are four and you don’t get your way. And sometimes all you want to do is kick and scream and say something mean.
One thing that I’ve found laughable in so many parenting books is that they act as if following their 5 simple rules or using three easy techniques will solve all your problems and result in well behaved children who never argue and always eat their broccoli.
That’s just not our reality (and honestly not our goal either - I’ll talk about my thought on raising kids who are sometimes willing to challenge us later). Some of those rules work and others fail miserable. One of those techniques makes our life easier but the other two are downright laughable. We live in periods of calm and days of chaos. We fail and we nail it, over and over again every day.
The needs of each of our individual children are so specific and are constantly evolving. So the only plan we really have is to spend the rest of the years that Everly and Arlo live under our roof tweaking and improving the way we support and guide them. It is a road unknown and a map we are drawing as we go.
There are no parenting experts in our house but we are doing the best we can. We go with our gut and our hearts and a healthy dose of humility (because nothing will humble you over and over again, like children). Last night I ruined my daughter’s life but I hope one day she will look back and realize just how much we are trying to do the exact opposite.
Brent returns this evening from a week in Nicaragua. I hope he will share his perspective of his time there on my blog, but in the meantime, I wanted to talk a bit about what’s been going on here on the home front.
I have enjoyed a rare and precious experience this week - an entire 7 days of my son’s time and attention. Arlo typically only wants his father to hold him, put him down for bed, or comfort him.
Both of my children went through phases at about 18 months old where they preferred their father. It was a given, considering their stage of development and the fact that Brent has been their primary care giver.
I remember sobbing over the situation a few times when Everly was small. “I’m her mother and she wants nothing to do with me!” But shortly after she turned two, she began to seek me out and now at four, we are attached at the hip. She is my little companion and always ready to go anywhere and do anything with me.
When Arlo started his daddy preference, the change felt particularly hard because I had just weaned him the month before. When I stopped nursing him, I felt like I was out of tricks in my bag. I would try to hold him and he would resist. I would go to him when he needed comforting and he would push me away. “no mommy, daddy!” he would cry at me during bedtime. Sometimes, after a busy day of caring for our children, Brent is in need of a break. Every now and then, he just needs someone else to handle the tears or offer the comforting, but our son just won’t take it from me. It can be hard on all of us.
I don’t flinch when Arlo pushes me away these days. Even now that he has gotten more verbal and says things like, “I don’t want you mommy! Go away! Leave me alone. I want daddy.” Despite his preference for Brent, I still put him down for bed one night a week because I ache to do it and also because I’m a little afraid that if I just give in and never put him down to bed, then it will just push him further away from me. So I sit on the end of his bed, and swallow the hard knot in my throat and say, ” Arlo. Mommy is here tonight. I can rock you and sing to you if you want. But if not, I’m just going to sit on the end of the bed. I’m here and I’ll be here until you go to sleep.” Most nights that I put him down, he cries and protests for a bit before settling down to sleep, but some nights I can entice him to want to spend time with me by making up a game in the dark with a flashlight or making funny voices for his stuffed animals. The nights he agrees to snuggle up to me, I lay there way past the time he has fallen asleep, just soaking him in.
I don’t want this to sound like my son doesn’t ever want to be around me - he does. He will say to me in the morning, “Nuggle me mommy” and we will curl up together on the couch. We play a lot together when I get home from work and in general, we have a warm relationship. But whenever it comes to those moments when he is hurt, or tired or wakes frightened in the middle of the night - it is never me that he wants. So many times I have attempted to go to him when he is crying in the middle of the night and he will howl louder and say, “Not you! Daddy!” and I just stand there feeling helpless as Brent shuffles by me to pick up our son and end his tears.
Right after Christmas, Brent came down with a stomach bug and moved to the upstairs bedroom in an effort to keep his germs away from the children. Arlo awoke in the middle of the night, crying for his father. I went to his room and he told me to go away. I explained that daddy wasn’t able to come get him tonight and so he went walking around our house, crying hysterically and calling out for him. He wouldn’t let me hold him or comfort him and any attempt to do so would cause him to thrash and cry harder. So I sat on our living room floor, my head leaning against the couch, and made the same “shhh shhh shhh” sound I used to make when he needed comforting as a baby. It was the only thing I could do that didn’t make him cry harder and I hoped it would remind him that I was there next to him. I resisted the overwhelming desire to just hold him because it’s not what he wanted. It took almost 45 minutes before he quieted. He laid down on our couch and defeated said, “Nuggle me mommy”. And so I did. We slept there until morning.
I didn’t know how he would react this week with Brent gone. Would he roam the house every night? Would he let me comfort him when his father was not there to do it? I prepared myself for a sleepless week.
The first night Brent was away, Arlo cried at bedtime for about 5 minutes. When he woke in the middle of the night, he whimpered for his father a few times, but willingly climbed into my arms and settled down into our big king sized bed to sleep.
Every day since, whenever there has been a bumped head or a scratch he has come calling for me, accepting my kisses and comfort happily. Every night as we squeeze together in his tiny toddler bed, he has turned immediately towards me, resting his forehead against my cheek and rubbing my arm with his small hand until he falls asleep. Not a single tear or a “go away”. Just contentment and rest, which is all I could ever wish to bring him.
I have been a sponge for these moments. Filling up my reservoir and feeling hopefully that perhaps this week’s routine will continue once Brent returns.
In as much as I find fulfillment and joy in the work I do outside our home, it is this challenge with Arlo specifically that is the one thing that makes me question if it is all worth it. It feeds an insecurity in me that despite my best efforts, I’m not giving my little boy enough. What kind of mother can’t even comfort her own child? This is the first time I’ve ever said these things outloud, even though this fear has fed insecurities in the dark spaces of my mind for some time.
I keep reminding myself of how upset I felt when I went through these feelings with Everly and how those fears were short-lived. And I keep holding my arms out to Arlo, again and again, in the hopes that he will reach back for me. I’m also hopeful that maybe even when daddy returns tonight, Arlo will be more willing to let his mama comfort him too. Maybe his bedtimes with me will come with a few less tears. Maybe.
Brent keeps reminding me that there are so many stages when it comes to our children. That they will change their minds and their desires a thousand times as they grow up. And I know he is right. I’ve seen it happen again and again. But this feels like a particularly long stage in my son - I can’t help but feel eager to once again have the closeness that I share with his sister and once had with him. Getting to experience that feeling again this week with him has made me particularly emotional as I realize just how much I have missed out on with him over the past year.
I don’t know how to end this, so I will stop here. All I can really do is wait it out and never stop trying to comfort him. They come back around sometime, right? I sure hope so.
1. Serve others. Spend less time thinking about my own needs and more time thinking about how I can love and support others. I want to be less selfish and more selfless. Newsflash: the world doesn’t revolve around you, Melissa.
2. Get Stronger. Most people have an exercise resolution, but it’s something that has been nagging me for awhile now. I tried running (hated it) and workout classes (liked them okay) in 2013 but neither felt like the right fit. In 2014, I’m going to start exploring yoga and I’m hopeful that it will be the right outlet for me to get my body strong and healthy. If all goes well, I’ll add “challenging others to arm wrestling matches” as 2015 resolution.
3. Put down the phone. Sounds simple enough, but it will require a lot more conscious effort than I care to admit. (That funny vine video can wait until the kids are in bed.)
4. Grow closer to God. 2013 was an incredible year on our walk with the Lord. As a family we all grew closer together and closer to Him, but our hearts desire more. And on a personal note - I want to be able to share my heart for God more openly and freely. I have a dear friend who, when she prays outloud and around others, always talks to Jesus in such an intimate and natural manner. I love it so much and I long to be able to do the same. My personal time with God is always natural and warm but whenever I pray openly with others, I am always so nervous, worrying more about how I am saying it instead of what I am saying. Tear down my walls Jesus, and let me share my joy for you without inhibitions.
5. Open our doors wider. We host a weekly homegroup at our house and love to throw a good party every few months, but I long for our house to be a place where others can come to fellowship and celebrate and have fun. Dinner parties with neighbors I haven’t yet met, playgroups to get to know the other parents in our children’s preschool and more opportunities to get our friends and families together under one roof. Let’s get this party started!
6. Give Grace. I want to do a better job of withholding judgement and quicker to show forgiveness. In general, I just want to be the kind of person who assumes the best and leaves others feeling loved. In particular I want to show grace to my husband and children. I want to be more thoughtful and purposeful in the every day ways that I interact and respond to them. Oh, and less road rage. I have the patience of a NYC taxi driver when it comes to dealing with other drivers.
Do you make resolutions at the start of the new year? I don’t always - but this year, I spent some time really thinking about the things I’d like to improve about myself. Putting it out into the world will keep me accountable. I haven’t always followed through with resolutions in the past, but I’ve got a lot of focused energy and determination to help me see it through this year. I’m printing this list off and putting it on my desk at work and another copy in my bible. This is my year to do better!
My girl is four. Four sounds so officially “little girl” to me. I have watched my daughter grow from an infant to a toddler to a preschooler, and now when we cuddle up together, I can barely believe she was ever the tiny babe I study in photographs. As the years have gone by, her birthday has been something I’ve tried to make really special and specific because it comes right on the heels of Christmas. I never want her special day to get lost in the blur of the holidays.
This year, we started talking about what kind of party she would like to have back in the fall. Everly’s very favorite bedtime story is The Princess and the Pea. We have read it together so many times that both of us can recite the words with our eyes closed. When she told me she wanted a princess party, I wasn’t surprised. The princess phase has been a long one in this house. ”I want princesses like in the pea book and a tea party!” She told me. So off I went to figure out just what that might look like.
Everly had been in a state of anticipation since we took down on our Christmas tree. She knew her birthday was next on the list and she could not wait to celebrate.
This year, we nixed the monster sized party we usually host for a small get together with a few of her little friends. Five girls and their mothers came over last Saturday morning to celebrate.
We hosted it upstairs in our playroom and I pulled out all of the random, mix-matched china that I’ve collected over the years.
I was able to reuse a ton of stuff from last year, including some of the big tissue paper flowers and the Happy Birthday banner. The tissue paper centerpiece, tulle banners and all of the fun costumejewelry came from BirthdayExpress.com. For her party, I bought some different clearance section fabrics at my local fabric store and wrapped books up to look like a stack of mattresses. I made a little pillow, blanket and ladder to complete the look. I also used the remaining fabric scraps to make the fabric banner over the window.
Everly requested “pink lemonade cupcakes”. I’m not much of a baker and had no idea how to make them, so I decided to use yellow cake mix and add strawberries to it. I made homemade lemon curd buttercream on top and decorated them with little gummy “mattresses” (from trader joes) and “peas” (green chocolate sixlet candies) and paper cutout princesses from Meri Meri.
I had two crafts set up for the girls. The first was a decorate your own crown with rhinestone stickers and the second was stringing “pea” beads onto a bracelet. The girls loved the crowns but they weren’t really interested in making the bracelets.
I kept the menu to kid friendly foods - turkey, ham or chicken salad sandwiches, orzo and pea pasta salad, fruit wands, kettle korn, and carrots with dip. We served sparkling pink punch to drink (pomegranate juice & sparkling pink lemonade). It was so nice having the moms there because each could make a plate for her little girl and help supervise the meal. The girls had so much fun toasting one another while they ate.
For the grown ups, I served champagne and strawberries and we ate while the girls finished up their meals. We also had Taylor Swift and Carly Rae Jepsen tunes blasting the whole time.
Each little friend came over wearing her favorite princess look. It was so adorable to see them all, gathered around the table together in sparkles and tiaras. Everly’s beautiful princess dress is available here. (She has worn it nearly every day since)
We sang happy birthday to Everly and then gathered around for story time. The Princess and The Pea book version that Everly and I usually read is really short and to the point, but while searching around on Amazon, I found a Princess and the Pea story that had awesome reviews and gorgeous photos (here). I bought it, thinking it would be great to read at her party. Turns out it was WAY to wordy for the group and one by one, the girls wandered off to play during the story.
About four pages in, I was cracking up that there was only one little girl and all of the moms paying attention, so I paraphrased the rest of the book as quickly as possible. They all cheered loudly as I said, “THE END!!”
My friend Amaree is a beautiful violinist. She is the reason that Everly has become smitten with the instrument. Amaree graciously agreed to play a few “royal ball” songs for the group and that had Everly scurring off to get her own violin so that she could play along. It was the cutest thing to have Am playing these beautiful classical songs while Everly’s little violin was scratching along next to her. At the end of the performance, both girls took a bow.
One group picture before the fun ended. I think the moms had as much fun as the girls! We sent each little princess home with a goody bag full of jewels, a tiara pen, and a scented lip smackers chapstick.
We continued the party later that evening, with a big pot of chili and tea party leftovers with family.
The next morning Everly draped herself across my legs and looked up at me. “Mama,” she said, “yesterday was the best day of my life.”
While all the princess party decor was fun, I know the real reason for her joy was being surrounded by so many people that love her. What a wonderful day to celebrate our sweet girl.
I am way late in blogging about our Christmas, but with all this glorious time off, I’ve found it harder than ever to sit down in front of the computer. As I write this, it is Sunday night and tomorrow marks my first day back at work since the day before Christmas eve.
Our list of places to be over Christmas was extensive. Brent and I both come from divorced families so there are a lot of stops to make so that we can have Christmas with each of our parents plus our extended families.
We were thrown a curve ball this year when the kids were diagnosed with RSV the day before Christmas eve. It was a nasty virus with both children running fevers for five days and terrible coughing fits that would wake them up at night and caused Everly to throw up. It pretty much shut us down over Christmas. We didn’t go to Christmas eve church service, or the live nativty or to see the Gainers at the annual Chicken and Waffles brunch on Christmas day. We had to cancel or postpone visits with family and so we spent several days nestled in at the house and making the most of our quarantine.
But not even a respiratory virus could put a damper on the kid’s excitement over Santa’s visit. We put out cookies and milk and for the first time, tucked both kids into the same bed to fall asleep. When my brother and I were small kids, we always slept in the same bed on Christmas eve. We would stay up until late at night chatting quietly with anticipation and excitement. Even when we became teenagers, Wayne would sleep on the floor of my room so that we could continue the tradition. I sort of hope that Everly and Arlo might do the same as they grow up.
Everly had a few specific requests from Santa this year: A pink violin topped her list, followed by an American Girl doll and “lots of shoes”. Santa and I decided Everly was still a little young for an America Girl doll - they are expensive and she’s not entirely out of the “strip all her baby dolls naked and occasional give them a crayon face makeover” stage. So Santa picked out this much less expensive baby doll instead and Everly was just as happy with her on Christmas morning.
Arlo really wanted a bigger, balance bike. He loved his Chillafish Bunzi so much last year, Santa bought him the bigger, BMXie from the same brand this year. It was a huge hit! He also got a robot, a super hero costume and a new play helmet (he’d been wearing his bike helmet as part of his “motorcycle man” costume for months)
After a rough night of coughing, they both slept later than usual. I had time to get up, put on water for coffee, turn on the Christmas lights and some Christmas music before they started to stir. Is there anything more joyful than the excited faces of children on Christmas morning? I think it surely must top the list.
This is a bit blurry, but I was impressed with how seriously Everly has taken this whole violin business. She carefully places it in and out of its case and loves to carry it around on her back. Seeing the way she has treated her violin has convinced me that maybe she is on her way to being ready for a fancy babydoll after all.
Policeman Arlo patrolled the house all morning.
While the screech of a violin is certainly one that takes some getting use to, she has taken it out several times each day to “play” it. My friend Amaree is going to work with Everly on holding it appropriately and learning how to draw the bow across the strings.
Putting on all her pink at once. New boots, New dress, New Violin.
After presents, I cooked a mini brunch for our family of four. It was a quiet Christmas day, but we came to realize that the silver lining was in the slowing down of everything. There was no where to rush off to and so we spent the entire day just playing with new toys and eating well and relaxing.
That was a theme over and over for us in 2013. Let go. Give up control and just embrace the circumstances for what they are. It was a hard lesson to learn sometimes, (especially for me) but here we are, entering a new year feeling more versatile and fluid than the one before. I think in the long run, that lesson was probably my greatest Christmas gift.
I proclaimed about six months ago that I was “NEVER EVER EVER” going to cut Arlo’s hair. I bristled at the mere suggestion of it. I considered the fact that my son had curls at all a stroke of genetic luck. Brent and I had stick straight hair as kids and so I just assumed any of our offspring would have the same.
But as the months passed, and his hair grew wilder, I began to soften to the idea. Arlo wears his hair back in a hat most of the time anyway, which helps keep it out of his face- but the longer it got, the more I found myself chasing him around with a hairbrush in an attempt to battle his crazy bed head. Every so often Arlo was mistaken for a girl. It never phased us, but when Arlo turned to a little girl on the playground and said, “I NOT A GIRL!” with a little scowl on his face, I began to think that maybe a haircut was in order.
We pulled the trigger right before Christmas, taking him to Bottega, an awesome salon in downtown Raleigh that is owned by a girlfriend of mine. I kept running my hands through his sweet curls as we waited to be called back. I also worried about how Arlo would handle getting a haircut - I didn’t know if the experience would freak him out- so we talked a lot about what he could expect beforehand.
Heather, our stylist, set him on a little elevated seat and explained every part of the process to him. “This is your superhero cape” she told him - and when she turned the clippers on she said, “This sounds kind of like an airplane.” and let him touch the handle before she put it against his head.
Arlo did great, watching the entire process with interest. We planned for him to wear his new cut down, but just for fun, she styled it up in a pompadour with a little sea salt spray and the hair dryer. We kept laughing that he looked like Macklemore!
Arlo really loved his new haircut. He kept looking at himself in the mirror and smiling. Everly declared, “Arlo is SO handsome!” and to reward him for being so well behaved, we took them both out of frozen yogurt afterwards.
It was hard to imagine him without those trademark curls, but now that his hair is short, I’m so glad we did it. I think it’s amazing how he looks so much older with short hair- so much like a little boy than a sweet baby. I took this shot of him a few days after Christmas and it just makes my heart want to burst:
The day may come when he wants to grow his hair out long again. Perhaps those sweet baby curls will still be there, or maybe they are gone forever. I try not to think about the latter. I’ll always love that wild halo of blonde curls that was so synonymous with my son for so long, but I think his new big boy look is just one of many ways he will grow and change in the new year.
Happy New Year! I’ve been slacking on posting over the holidays for a number of reasons but I figured I’d just skip over all the cute photos of my kids in their Christmas pajamas (I’ll get to those later!) and share these photos from New Year’s Eve.
It’s not the night I had planned on - Brent and I were planning to celebrate with a night out at a friend’s party, but he got hit with a 24 hour stomach bug that left him in bad shape until about 6pm New Year’s Eve night.
Most of our Christmas plans were also thrown out the window due to the kids coming down with a nasty case of RSV, so by late afternoon yesterday, I put my now familiar “let’s make the best of it” hat on and got to work on a big pot of chicken soup (Brent agreed it was my best one to date!) We just figured we’d settle in for a laid back New Year’s Eve at home. Arlo, who had avoided a nap all day, fell soundly asleep at 6:30pm while playing and slept right on through bedtime.
Around 8pm, I looked over at Everly and said, “Why don’t we dress up anyway?” I had spent the entire day in yoga pants, scrubbing the house top to bottom in the hopes of keeping my children from catching whatever it was that had Brent in bed all day. Everly’s eyes lit up at the suggestion and we spent the next thirty minutes picking out outfits together (her dress was a gift from Santa, who must have had an inkling she’d need an outrageous party dress) and putting our hair up in big party-worthy hairstyles. As I was putting on bright pink lipstick, she stood on top of the toilet seat watching me and asked, “Mama, can I wear some too?” She is usually right up underneath me as I get ready for work in the morning and I always meet her requests to wear lipstick with a suggestion that she wear a little of my clear Burt’s Bees chapstick instead - but I just wanted last night to be a “yes” night, so I agreed to let her wear some.
Once we were all dressed up, Everly poured us big glasses of sparkling cider and we took a couple of pictures. She kept saying, “We have to go somewhere! Where can we go? People need to see our outfits!” It was so precious.
We watched the NYE coverage on tv for a little while and then she convinced me to make cookies. I let her squeeze out an entire bag of frosting on to the tops of them and half a container of sprinkles, while I sat on the countertop watching her enjoy herself.
By 10:45, she was exhausted and fell asleep in a matter of minutes once I wiped the remaining pink lipstick off her face.
Brent and I settled into our own bed at 11:45 and waited for the countdown. We heard little foot steps in the hallway just before the ball dropped and Arlo came racing into our room. With literally seconds to go, we lifted him into the bed between us and the three of us counted down from ten and said Happy New Year!
I was so happy that my sweet little boy got in on the New Years Eve action too - if only the very last of it. I fell asleep last night with Arlo’s cold toes pressed against my legs as we listened to the boom of fireworks exploding outside.
Time and time again, this life reminds me that in order to make the most of it, I have to stay flexible. So often I am learning to just let go of what I hope will be and enjoy what it is - more often then not, the unplanned parts of my life are the most enjoyable.
Wishing you all health, happiness and blessings in the year ahead.
As much as Natasha and I love one another, it is often our girls who push us to put our busy lives aside and take the time to just be together. Mylah and Everly hound us incessantly to see each other. The way they greet one another every single time they meet is like watching puzzle pieces snap into place. They run at full speed, arms open and calling out in high pitched joy. Two parts of a whole, finally reunited.
I don’t know what the years ahead hold for them and I can only imagine all the ways their friendship with change and shift as they grow up - but I am certain they will always love each other in a way few people ever get the chance to experience. They were sisters to one another even before they knew their own siblings. One day they will realize what a gift they have been given - to know another soul so thoroughly, to love them so tremendously from the very start of your life.
I figured I’d knock these all out in a single post. We have been Merry Christmasing it up left and right lately. December is kind of a weird month- I look forward to it all year, the traditions, the time with family and friends, the joy it brings to my children - and yet, it still feels kind of chaotic and fly by the seat of our pants. How do we do it all and still slow down enough to enjoy it? I don’t think we’ve found the balance quite yet.
Polar Express Night:
One of our favorite little traditions of the year is Polar Express night in our house. I think I’ve documented it nearly every year on my blog- Brent took me to see Polar Express on our first date, and so every year on that anniversary, we watch it again. This year, we made a big tray of our favorite snacks for dinner and threw down a bunch of blankets and just snuggled up together. (Now, this… this was a moment to slow down and savor.)
We even made hot chocolate with marshmallows and served it during the hot chocolate scene in the movie. That was far and away Everly’s favorite part.
We go to Logan’s, a local nursery that puts on a gorgeous Christmas Family Night event, every year. All kinds of kid friendly crafts, and performances from local school children - with the opportunity to sit on Santa’s lap. No long mall lines, no charging for photographs, and Santa spends as much time as needed with each child.
We wandered around for awhile and this was the moment that Arlo spotted Santa through the window in the next room:
2013 goes down as the first year in the Jordan house that no one cried on Santa’s lap. Arlo needed a little reassurance and wanted to hold Brent’s hand - but he talked to Santa and both children told him what they wanted this year.
Everly asked for a baby doll and a violin. Arlo asked for a bicycle and a robot.
Preschool Christmas Program:
(Note: I know it’s weird to blur other kid’s faces - but I just don’t know if their parents are ok with me posting their photo)
Everly and Arlo spend their Tuesday and Thursday mornings at the sweetest church preschool in our neighborhood. It is such a warm, loving environment and they are thriving there.
Yesterday, each of them stood up with their classes and sang a few Christmas songs. My shy Arlo sang the words and did all of the hand motions.
Everly committed to her performance with full body motions. ( I was a little nervous she was going to knock the sweet little girl next to her in the head with her elbows) Her joy and energy was so precious.
(This is the best shot of the bunch of Everly’s class- they were mostly blurry and I don’t know how to work this dang camera well enough to shoot in low light)
Afterwards, I snapped a few photos of them outside the school. A random little story about the green sweater Everly is wearing. Her great grandmother and aunt bought it for her when she was an infant. It has grown with her and she has worn it multiple times every year at Christmas. The arms are getting shorter every year, but I hope I can squeeze her in one more year. It is certain to be one of those treasured pieces that we keep forever.
Arlo in that bow tie and chucks slays me every time. I’m so proud of these sweet kids of mine.
Between this Sunday and New Year’s Eve we have six more Christmas functions to attend- it’s the busiest time of the year - but also the most wonderful. Here’s to a month of joy and chaos!
We are forever attempting to make the Christmas season more about the birth of Jesus, about family, and about giving - and less about STUFF.
It’s an incredibly hard battle and one we are guilty of caving into - but with every year that has passed, we’ve gotten a little more focused and a little better at finding opportunities to teach our children about the true spirit of Christmas time.
Despite our best efforts, our house still feels over run with toys. Instead of more tangible gifts, we always ask our families to invest in our children in some way - in dance or music lessons. Or even better, to help grow their hearts as givers.
For Christmas this year, Everly and Arlo’s Nana and Papa Wayne are sponsoring a child through SuNica in their honor.
We know some of the members of this organization through our church and what they are doing in the lives of children and families in Nicaragua (the second poorest country on our side of the hemisphere) is amazing. Their holiday campaign is called Thrive, which is all about helping 56 kids in a trash dump community gain access to Education and Discipleship.
$35 a month covers their school costs, a uniform, school supplies, extra curricular activities, and invests in a college fund.
Tonight we will sit down with our children and share with them the mission of SuNica. We will talk about the importance of giving and about how instead of keeping a gift for themselves, they are bringing joy to others by helping children have access to a quality education. At this age, being able to see the children they are helping will be more impactful, so we look forward to spending some time together learning about the little ones featured on the SuNica website and their facebook page.
Brent gets to see the SuNica team in action next month as he will be traveling to Nicaragua as part of a team of volunteers. I hope to share some of his experience here on the blog.
In the meantime, I just wanted to use the greatest tool I have, this blog - to help share the SuNica Thrive campaign and the powerful work they are doing in the lives of Nicaraguan children.
Minted.com has been our go-to for announcements and cards for years now. I love their wide array of designs and how easy they make it for me to select and order beautiful Christmas cards to send to friends and family. One of my favorite features on their site is the ability to upload a photo and then quickly scroll through all of their designs with our family’s photo as the example. It makes choosing a favorite so much easier! Minted.com also allows you to upload your address list and will pre-print the names on your envelopes for free!
Minted is generously giving away a THREE HUNDRED (US) DOLLAR gift certificate to one lucky Dear Baby reader - with that kind of money you can not only get your holiday cards but some beautiful art prints for your wall or custom party supplies for your next birthday bash!
I’ll draw a winner tomorrow afternoon. To enter, leave a comment below with your favorite Christmas memory (Can I just tell you how much I love reading your comments and learning more about the people who read my blog!) Tumblr readers must leave a comment through disqus to be counted.
Nearly four years ago, I posted a video on my little blog that someone had sent me of a father playing music for his daughter’s preschool class. I remember watching it with Brent and feeling so excited as we daydreamed about experiencing something similar with our own daughter one day. It was that same afternoon that my water broke and we met our sweet dove for the first time.
Brent takes the children to and from school every Tuesday and Thursday morning. At some point, earlier in the school year, he mentioned to Everly’s teachers that he was also a musician. A few weeks ago, he called me at work to tell me that they had asked him if he’d like to come play some Christmas music for the class. My mind immediately went back to that video we watched so long ago.
Tuesday was an insane day for me at work. I had back to back meetings all day long, with only one hour, at lunch, not committed. I ran out of my last morning meeting and drove the 20 minute drive to Everly’s school so that I could be there when Brent sang for her class.
Everly proudly introduced Brent to her classmates as “This is my daddy”. He sang Joy to the World, Away in a Manger, Jingle Bells and Rudolph - stopping occasionally to ask the kids questions and talk about how Jesus’ birth brought joy to us all. He finished with a fast paced, dance a long song he wrote Everly when she was a baby.
I took the most darling video of them all dancing and singing along, but because I didn’t get permission from all the other parents in the class, I’ve decided not to post it.
I think I laughed through the entire concert, just overwhelmed with experiencing something we had daydreamed about the day Everly was born. Arlo’s teacher stuck her head in the door and said “We’re next!” so I suspect there are more preschool jam sessions in our future!
I missed lunch and barely made it back in time for my 1pm meeting, but I couldn’t stop smiling the rest of the day. There are a thousand little experiences we hoped for and imagined when I was pregnant with each of our children - and when they become real - well, there’s just nothing like it.
A preschool concert, a proud little girl and a mama whose heart could nearly burst.
We introduced Sparkles last year and I was on the fence about bringing her out again this year. Everly was a little creeped out by the idea of an elf that moves around our house and frankly, I couldn’t really blame her… but when she asked me when I thought Sparkles would arrive this year, I knew we would be spending another holiday season with the Elf on the Shelf.
We’ve tweaked Sparkles’ story a lot: She goes to the North Pole to hang out, not to tell Santa whether they have been good or bad. Sparkles only stays in the living room and dining room. She never, ever under any circumstances will come in your room. I promise. You can touch her if you want, she likes to be snuggled sometimes.
Some questions we don’t have answers for yet:
"Why doesn’t she breath? Elves breath don’t they?"
"Why don’t her eyes ever move?"
"Does she have real legs under those tights?"
Last week I found Everly staring at the Elf on our mantle and she looked at me and said, “Somethings not right about that elf, mama” and I thought, “uh oh, she’s scared of it.” But then she said ” Her hat sticks straight up in the air and all the elves I’ve seen have floppy hats.”
We’re trying to embrace the Elf on the Shelf as just a fun, silly, new tradition and not take it too seriously.
But here’s the thing. Brent and I suck at moving the elf around. She’s been in our house for over a week now, and she’s moved three times (once mid day, while Everly watched). Everly gets up every morning and excitedly runs into the living room to find Sparkles and it is then, and only then, that we remember we were supposed to move her to a new location. (Arlo on the other hand, could care less about Sparkles. Unless she’s also a super hero or a stunt bike driver, he’s not impressed.)
We tell Everly that she must like our house so much she doesn’t really feel like going to visit Santa and her elfin friends at the North Pole. Last week I told Everly, after Sparkles stayed wedged in our fireplace screen for three days, that I was certain she must be stuck and that we should move her ourselves.
I put Sparkles on top of the mantle clock while Everly watched, “There” I said, “If Sparkles wants to go back to the North Pole, she won’t be stuck anymore.”
And then Sparkles sat on the clock for the next two days while I muttered, “crap!” under my breath each morning when I heard Everly announcing, yet again, that Sparkles hadn’t moved.
Sparkles is a lazy elf.
I see Elves all over my instagram and facebook feed that are doing fantastical and hilarious things in the homes of the children they visit. They are so mischievous and clever!
Sparkles is none of that. She sits in the tree. She sits on the clock. And there was that one time she wedged herself down in the fireplace screen. That was kind of mischievous, no?
We love the holidays. We had our house decked out two days after Thanksgiving. Our holiday cards are stuffed and almost in the mail. We are doing an “Acts of Kindness” advent calendar every day until Christmas and are all excited for our annual family Polar Express viewing this Saturday, but the elf….. yeah, I don’t know about that one.
Maybe we are just not Elf on the Shelf people. (Will admitting that publicly get me banned from Pinterest?) Arlo is indifferent, Everly is tired of her lack of movement and Brent and I have come to accept that we are just not very good elf movers.
Anyone else out there happen to own a card carrying member of the Order of Lazy Elves? Bah. Maybe next year we can trade her in for one of those singing, dancing Rudolph toys I had as a kid.
Every fall, we take our annual family photographs. Getting our photos taken at the same time every year is a fun way to compare the growth of the children year over year and it gives me enough motivation to get Christmas cards ordered.
The past two years, the kids were like feral cats during our shoots and almost all of the photos are of Brent and I looking at the camera with strained smiles while Everly and Arlo attempted to twist their little bodies out of our grasp. This year I was determined to get our pictures taken as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Brent made a new dad friend at preschool and over coffee one day, Jakob offered to take our family pictures. We met him in a field that I drive by every day on my way home from work. Over the months I’ve watched as the untamed greenery turned brown and the small trees scattered about slowly turned orange and yellow. I knew it would be a perfect backdrop.
I put these outfits together the morning of our photo shoot and went for bold colors and patterns that would contrast nicely against the neutral, earthy background. Everly, of course, had her own opinions on her outfit, so she picked out the scarf, cardigan and shoes. (I think she did pretty good!) None of us match, but I think in a weird way, our outfits still compliment one another.
I’m not proud of it, but I have to admit that I bribed the kids with a few jelly beans to get them to sit still this year. 25 minutes and four jelly beans later, we had all the photos we needed to fill our frames and mail out to friends and family. It was the easiest, shortest, least stressful family photo shoot we’ve ever had.
I’m so happy with the way they turned out- especially of the children together. They are at the sweetest ages right now and I love how their personalities really shine through. I plan to dig up our family portraits from the last 5 years tonight and hope to share them. I’m in awe of how much we’ve changed in what feels like the blink of an eye.
Congrats to our lucky, randomly selected winner, Steffanie. She shared her thanksgiving plans: “I’ll start my morning with giving our cat and dog a shower (I know it sounds bad, but the kitty goes outside and is super smelly and he doesn’t mind too much). I just dropped my boyfriend off at the airport so he can spend Thanksgiving with his family in NJ, so I’ll be going to my mom’s. She and my grandma will do the cooking, and I’ll do my daughterly duties of getting on the roof to clean out the gutters and put up Christmas lights for her. Then I’ll get full off of appetizers and nibble at the standard Thanksgiving dinner after everyone says what they are thankful for.”
Be careful on that roof, girl! (And enjoy your new THEIT Lula camera bag.)
I am so excited about this post! I am not very good at waiting patiently, but in this situation, it was worth the wait. Remember this fun collaboration we did with THEIT to design their next camera bag? Well, Jen’s design is currently in production and will be available mid-January. ”The Lula” comes in both a beautiful coral (Keep an eye out for a post on Jen’s blog today to see it) and this chestnut color that I styled below. It has lots of beautiful gold hardware and you would never know that inside it is a roomy camera bag.
One of my favorite features is that all of the padded interior dividers are attached with velcro, so you can move them around or take them out to suit your needs. I plan to remove one or two of the dividers so that my Lula bag is a handbag/camera bag hybrid.
THEIT is currently taking pre-orders for the bag now and they are offering a couple of specials. For black friday, all THEIT bags (including The Lula) will be 25% off the whole entire black Friday weekend. Starting November 28(TH) -Cybermonday. Code: BLACKFRIDAYLOVE25
I’m also thrilled to give one of these limited edition beauties away on the blog today! To enter, leave a comment below (Tumblr followers, a disqus comment is required to be counted) and tell me about your thanksgiving plans. I’ll announce a winner on Friday.
When you were about 6 months old, you started sleeping through the night. Most mornings, around 4am, you would wake, ready for your bottle and a diaper change and your father or I would stumble sleepily into your nursery and bring you into bed with us.
This went on for another 18 months until we transitioned you to your own big girl bed. At that point, early every morning, you would slide out of the bed yourself and make your way to our bedroom. I have been lifting you in a sleepy daze over my body and into the space between your father and I for almost two years now.
Your feet in my ribs, arms flopped over my face, and slow heavenly breaths in my ear have been a constant part of my sleep for your entire life. I kept telling myself, at some point, we were going to have to teach you to stay in your own bed all night long. She’s almost four, I’d think to myself, isn’t she getting too old for this?
You used to be a dream to put to sleep at night. We’d turn on your sound machine, rock you for a little while and lay you down in your bed to sleep with ease. You used to happily go to sleep with your door closed and all of the lights off.
But when we weaned you from your pacifier, all of that changed. You weren’t sure how to self soothe anymore and our bedtime routine suddenly turned into hour long sessions of closet lights on and doors wide open and rubbing your back and carefully sneaking out when you were soundly sleeping.
Over the months we slowly inched away. First sitting at the end of your bed while you fell asleep. Then at the door of your room. Then in a chair, just out of view in the hallway.
"Mommy?" you’d call from the darkness.
"Still here," I’d say back.
Eventually we started getting out of the chair when you were still awake. “Just stay for five minutes” you’d tell us. And then… a few weeks ago you announced you didn’t need us to do that anymore. After books and bedtime prayers and a couple snuggles, we were free to go about our night.
No more keeping guard, however briefly, outside your door. Every night since, you’ve reminded me, “Big girls don’t need their mommies to sit in the chair. ” And I’ve agreed with you and kissed you goodnight and walked out of your door to finish the dishes or to read a book or catch up on a favorite tv show.
All those months we’ve spent creeping farther and farther away and when you were finally ready for us to go, it stung more than I expected.
It’s made me realize something else. I am in no rush at all to convince you to stop your early morning visits to our bed. One day, you are going to decide you are ready to sleep straight through till morning. You are going to tell me again the rules of being a big girl now. You are going to assert that independence that we are so proudly watching grow in you.
And I’m going to ache for the mornings that I wake up nearly falling off the edge of the bed because you’re tiny body has managed to take up the rest. I’m going to wish desperately for the joy of watching your eyes, so sweetly, blink open every new day.
Sometimes we push you slowly into finding your own independence and sometimes we wait and let it come on its own. It’s a delicate dance, this whole business of you growing up. It is happening all around us, all the time. You may be a big girl when you close your eyes at night, but I’m thankful you get to be my baby just a little longer when you open them every morning.
The smallest Jordan turned two and a half on Sunday. It’s become a tradition to make a little to-do of the occasion. A cupcake, a present, and all of us singing Happy Birthday on repeat!
After church and lunch with Brent’s mom, we dug out a few party hats and presented him with his treat.
If you ask him how old he is, he will tell you, “TWO NANDA HAFF!”
We gave him a little Calico Critter’s toy that I got on sale several months ago and had stashed away. It’s a little badger couple with a motorcycle and side car. They even have tiny goggles, helmets and scarves. He’s obsessed with motorcycles and spends half of his waking hours wearing a too-big motorcycle helmet his grandfather gave him. Needless to say, he loves putting the tiny helmets on his new critters and taking them for a drive.
Happy half to the boy who has stolen my heart. Every day, month and year that we get to watch Arlo Redding grow up is worth celebrating!
Eeek! It has been quite awhile since I’ve done a fashion post. This collection of outfits have fallen in that sweet spot just as the seasons began to change- some days were warm and sunny and others were blustery and cold. Here are some thing I work to work and to play:
My first tights of the year! As with all things winter related at the moment, I was excited to wear them. It usually goes like this: YAY! Cold Weather! I’m wearing tights! I love this coat! Hooray scarves! I know that come February I am ready to throw all of the above to the far corners of my closest in exchange for bare legs and arms - but right now, I’m loving layering up. Aren’t these wedges beautiful? Minx Boutique sent me the black ones and I loved them so much I bought the neutral taupe color ones too. They are my go-to shoes this season, playful, versatile and comfortable!
Action shot - Wheeee! I love this skirt so much I’m featuring it in two different outfits photos in this post. I love that it’s flowy and lined and has POCKETS. I’m a big fan of the bold fall colors and pattern mixing in this look.
Top: c/o Minx Boutique (Last year. Here is the same shirt in a solid color)
Shoes: (I don’t remember the brand - they are about 4 years old)
Happy weekend! This shot cracks me up - Everly insisted she wanted to be in this photo, but then proceeded to hold that book over her face the entire time. Whatever floats your boat, kiddo! On the weekend, I love to hide my unwashed hair under this old hat and this kimono was a favorite Ebay find. I couldn’t fathom spending $120+ on the ones I saw in the latest Free People catalog, but I scored this one for about $45.
Top: East Coast Basics
Jeans: Kensie (Stitch Fix)
Boots: MIA Nanette boots
Hat: Vintage hand-me-down
It was really cold this day, so I just kept it simple and classic. Riding boots, a great black jacket and a pop of color in this awesome scarf. I’m not a huge fan of this photo (What’s my knee doing?) but I liked this outfit enough that I decided to include it anyway.
Scarf: Cosby Cowl c/o Minx Boutique. (Find other options here)
Jacket: Pink Martini (Via Stitch Fix)
Jeans: Kensie (Via Stitch Fix)
My favorite outfit of the bunch! I was actually inspired by this look on Minx blog and decided to recreate using similar pieces in my closet. I love being inspired by others to reinterpret their looks into something that works for me. I keep a whole folder on Pinterest of Fashion Inspirations to help inspire me when I’m in a fashion rut. I loved wearing this look and will definitely wear it again.
So there you go! Some of the things I’ve been wearing lately. Scarves and boots and tights galore!
P.S. A little unrelated but a few of you have emailed me about doing more Kid Fashion posts and Zulily finds. Instead of taking up blog posts, I’ve started a Zulily Favorites board on Pinterest. I spend about 15 minutes every morning perusing the site for my favorites and have started adding them all to this pinterest board. Follow along if you’re interested!
The first poem I ever wrote was in third grade. It was about the beach and the only thing I remember was that I had a hell of a time trying to find a word that rhymed with seagull. I remember feeling equal amounts of embarrassment and pride when my teacher made a big to-do of it and made me stand up and read my words to the entire class. It was then that the spark to write was lit, I remember it so vividly.
In middle school I once wrote a poem about the girl’s track team. In high school and college my simple rhyming poems gave way to villanelles and iambic pentameter. I used every free elective I had in college on creative writing and poetry courses. Over the years, I filled notebooks upon notebooks with poems and stories. They were undoubtedly filled with a lot of cheesy, overly dramatic words - but they were where I put down the restless noise in my head before things like blogs existed.
I’ve shared before that lately it feels harder and harder to be true to that writer inside me. I fight to pull her out. I’m more critical of the thoughts I’m putting down than ever before… and in the process I’m losing the heart of something that has been as important to my well being as breathing since I was eight years old.
I am not an acclaimed writer or even a decent poet and yet, the love I have for writing is still something very worthy. I’m tired of deleting what I’ve laid down… out of fear. fear of what? Fear of someone reading my words and thinking… ”Terrible, really”
So I instead I read my words, then delete them without ever sharing them and whisper to myself, “Terrible, really”
An enemy to my own heart.
I wrote my very first poem about the beach and so tonight, after downloading the photos from our weekend beach trip and with two glasses of wine warming me, I decided to write another one.
I am leaving this here and forbidding myself to determine if it is utter crap or something worth sharing (nor am I looking for validation either way). I am just channeling that eight year girl with a pencil in hand, who had not yet learned to be critical of her own passions.
We went to the beach and it was wonderful and wrote a poem about it.
There is no season,
No time of day,
When a meeting with the ocean is anything less than a generous act upon your soul.
Winter cold or summer warm.
Against the blackness of night or the squinted glare of mid day sun.
My grandfather, a career green beret, served for twenty years and fought in the Vietnam war. As a little girl, I used to sit on his lap in his big lazy boy recliner and listen to him tell stories about the years he spent there.Papa had a wooden box with a red velvet lining. Inside it housed dozens of fancy looking metals and pins that used to adorn his uniform. We would take them all out and play with them for hours.
Brent’s grandfather was a fighter pilot in WWII. The empty metal shell of a bomb he once carried on mission now lives in Arlo’s bedroom. Passed down from the boyhood bedrooms of both Brent and Arlo’s Papa Allen, it has been the hiding place of toy cars and trinkets for more than fifty year.
My father, an army brat himself, also served as an MP in the Army.
My god father served in the Navy.
My brother in law, a Marine, left my step sister and his first child, a 2 week old baby daughter, to deploy last month.
My brother Wayne and his fiancé Nicole, both crew chiefs in the Air Force, deployed together and are attempting to plan their wedding from across the world as I write this.
I am immensely proud of the men and women in my family who have served and who continue to serve our nation. So much gratitude is warranted, not only for the women and men in the US armed forces, but also for their families who sacrifice their husbands and wives, fathers and mothers in the name of freedom.
To those who have given their lives and limbs, who have missed holidays and birthdays and watched their children grow up in pictures and videos. To those on the war front and on the home front, I thank you today and every day for your service.
Let's Talk: Holistic Immunity Boosters for Children
With cold and flu season in full effect, I’ve stepped up my game when it comes to trying to keep my kids healthy. I tend to slack off a bit during the summer when Everly and Arlo are out of school and the number of ”bugs” making their way through the community are fewer. After both my kids caught a nasty cold virus a few weeks ago, I went into over-drive to restock our supply of immunity boosters. It got me thinking that this might be an interesting topic to discuss on my blog.
Many of the holistic remedies that we’ve tried don’t have a ton of proven research behind them (I’ve listed study data where applicable) - however they also have very few, if any, negative side effects. I think there is definitely merit to many of the home remedies that have been passed from generation to generation, even if there is little interest in the pharmaceutical or scientific communities to study them.
With that said, once I’ve done my own research and decided to pursue a holistic regiment with my kids, I always run it by my pediatrician to get her thoughts and advice.
Here are a few of our family’s favorites:
1. Probiotics. (aka Primadophilus)
What it does: boosting the “good” gut bacteria that wards off many illnesses. (“Although studies are limited and data are inconsistent, two large reviews, taken together, suggest that probiotics reduce antibiotic-associated diarrhea by 60%, when compared with a placebo.” Source)
Use for: stomach issues, overall immunity
Our experience: We usually stir probiotics into milk or juice served with a meal. I don’t give them every day - typically twice a week. This flavorless, tasteless powder is easy to disguise in a beverage and we’ve had far fewer stomach issues since we’ve begun using them.
Learn more and discover what foods you can feed your children that have naturally occurring probiotics here.
2. Elderberry Syrup (aka sambucus)
What it does: anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, decongestant, shortens duration of cold/flu (“One study found that a lozenge with elderberry extract (ViraBLOC) helped reduce flu symptoms when taken within 24 hours of symptoms starting.” Source)
Use for: respiratory illness, general immunity
Our experience: It tastes delicious, so my kids have no issue taking a teaspoon full by mouth. I usually give them one teaspoon full every day during cold and flu season to boost their immunity and 2 teaspoons a day if they are fighting off a cold. They seem to recover from a cold faster when they take elderberry vs. not. I recommend getting a formula made for kids and following the dosing as directed. Read more here.
What it does: provides age appropriate dose of vitamins and minerals needed for general health.
Our experience: the benefits of giving your kids a multi-vitamin are widely known but I wanted to recommend our favorite. We really like Nordic Naturals Berries. They taste delicious and have no artificial flavors or dyes.
4. Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils
What it does: there are a wide variety of benefits dependent upon the oil you use. Essential oils are attributed to everything from fever reduction to anxiety management to easing muscle pain. Research studies have shown the effectiveness of some essential oils in killing bacteria and viral strains
Use for: A few commonly used essential oils-
peppermint - fever reduction, colds, indigestion, head aches
Our experience: I’ve just started to get into the world of essential oils, so I’ll have to do a more indepth post once I’ve used them for a long time. We’ve been using tea tree oil on our dogs for some time now as a flea/tick preventative. I give the kids a lavender oil massage before bed to help them relax. More recently, we’ve incorporated an essential oil blend that focuses on immunity and germ fighting into our regiment. I combine a drop or two of a "germ fighter" essential oil (it includes oil of: cloves, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus and rosemary) with a jojoba carrier oil and apply it to the bottom of my children’s feet before bed. I also add a few drops of the same essential oil to water and spritz it in a spray bottle on our sheets and furniture. It has the added benefit of making the house smell wonderful! There is a ton of information out there on essential oils. You can read more here.
Note: Not all essential oils are safe for children. Please do your own research before using any oils on your children.
4. Vitamin D drops
What it does: assists in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus. Fights infection. (A 2010 study published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” reported that adding a vitamin D3 supplement to a child’s daily routine during the winter could cut the risk of catching the flu.)
Use for: general health and wellness.
Our experience: Vitamin D can be absorbed naturally through exposure to sunlight and through drinking milk. However, Arlo is not a big milk drinker and neither of my kids get much sun exposure during colder months. I include a few drops of vitamin D in their morning beverage.
All of the information I’ve shared is based off of my personal experience but I do not claim to be an expert on any of this. I wanted to share our experience, as so many other mothers have passed on their tips for building healthy immune systems in their children with me. I also didn’t try any of these approaches until my children were toddlers, so I’m not sure what is/is not appropriate for infants.
I’m grateful for all of the medical technology and medications that help us recover and heal from illness, but I also welcome any natural, holistic action I can take on the front end to keep my kids from getting sick. I’d love to hear what your family does to boost immunity and shorten the duration of illness during cold and flu season.
I’ve been bragging on my boy all weekend. After many months of weekly sessions, Arlo’s speech therapist said on Friday that she’s going to recommend discontinuing all services after the holidays. She feels that he is completely caught up and on par with his peers.
Our experience with early intervention services has been so wonderful. We’ve had the great fortune of getting to know and saying goodbye to both a vision and speech therapist over the past two years. There is nothing quite as wonderful as hearing them say, “Your son no longer needs us.”
Now excuse me, while I pick this boy up and do a celebratory dance around our living room to Katie Perry’s “Roar”.
Everly and I have been watching The Wizard of Oz in sections for the past few months. She loves the munchkin scenes and the musical numbers, but we’ve skipped over the scarier scenes with the wicked witch. I think in a few years, she’ll enjoy the entire film, but for now we love watching the characters skipping down the yellow brick road together.
With a new found desire for “sparkly red shoes” , Everly wanted to dress up like Dorothy and the rest of us picked a character from there. Brent and I already had the pieces for our costumes in our closet but I grabbed some raffia, sequins and a plastic file folder at the dollar store to complete our outfits. I made the Glinda crown with the help of my glue gun and a stapler.
Yesterday, our friend Sarah came over and helped take a few photos. Arlo refused to nap and our pizza had yet to be delivered as the light was fading, so our tired, hungry kids were a bit in chaos mode. Everly wanted a lollipop. Arlo wanted to run wild in the park and refused to wear his tinman hat - so this is the best shot we got of the four of us:
I found this sweet little dress on eBay for $12 and the shoes at Target. We already had the toy dog, crinoline and tights. I think Everly made the cutest little Dorothy:
I worried about making a costume for Arlo that he would be comfortable in. I thought about attempting to use cardboard boxes and dryer tubing to make him more robot-y but decided to go with a dressier version in this cute little suit. We joked that he sort of looked like a PeeWee Herman/Tinman hybrid!
Brent’s coat was a San Francisco vintage find, his shirt was from Target, his hat used to belong to his grandfather and his amazing wing tip shoes are from Bed|Stu.
The last time I wore this dress, I was 7 months pregnant with Arlo. It was a gift from my friend, Jen, some years ago. It’s one of those dresses I love but don’t get to wear often, but it was perfect for Glinda.
Oh our poor dogs! They hated their costumes, so we only kept them on long enough to have a good laugh and snap a photo. The looks on the faces of our flying monkey and cowardly lion tell all.
Arlo was totally game to play along once he got a snack and was allowed to wear his favorite ballcap under his tin man hat. He is never without a ballcap, so he was happy to wear this all night long. These photos make me laugh every time I look at them :
It was such a fun night. The Gainers brought Mylah and Benji over to trick or treat once it grew dark and we wheeled the kids around the neighborhood in our wagon. They loved going house to house and it’s always fun for us to connect with those folks in our neighborhood that we don’t know that well.
At bedtime last night, Everly told me she was sad that Halloween was over. She was quiet for a moment then said, “Does this mean I can wear my red glittery shoes whenever I want?” “Any time you want,” I confirmed and with that, she rolled away from me, ready for sleep.
Very soon, the thought of dressing up with their parents in themed costumes will be completely embarrassing, so I’m enjoying these opportunities to go all out together while we can.
I love Halloween. The nostalgia. The glow of pumpkins. The smiles on the faces of people as they open their doors with candy bowls in hand. And the sounds of children laughing through our neighborhood.