Sunday, December 30, 2018

Spiderman's a Poopin'

When you're a mommy, sometimes you do things that you'd never thought you'd do.

One of those things for me was making up song parodies for my children.

With two younger boys, bathroom humor is hilarious, so should I be surprised that I rewrote Winter Wonderland to Spiderman's a Poopin'? No, not really. After all, they love Jingle Bells, Batman Smells.

For those who are interested, here is the song. I hope it doesn't get stuck in your head like it did for my kids and I.

If you like this song, please feel free to share it and sing it to all your friends!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

A New Baby Changes Everything- A Letter of Encouragement

A friend of ours just became a first time daddy, last night.

He and his wife are so excited, as they should be, but they are unaware that things will change from now on

Maybe they're starting to realize it, maybe they aren't.

You see, when a new baby comes, the world looks at you differently.

You're no longer Martha or Joe. Now you're mom and dad.

You've been waiting for this baby for 9 months or 40 weeks, give or take a few days. Until the birth of this baby, you were never able to fully fathom what it would be like to be a mom or dad. You thought you knew, but you couldn't comprehend.

I remember when I had my first born. I started crying right before I was to push. Things were going to change. There was no turning back. A baby wasn't just a hypothetical idea, it was real.

I was going to be in charge of a small human being. The implications were surreal. The responsibilities to come were unfathomable. The doubt was overwhelming.

"How will I be able to take care of him when I can't take care of myself?" I had bills to pay and things to do. Now I had that and more.

The day I had my son, I changed from a care-free, youthful twenty-two year old to an anxious, old soul, twenty-two year old mother.

The single and child-less friends that I had stopped calling and making plans with me... Maybe it was because I turned them down too many times to be with my baby. It happens, you know.

Not only that, I was no longer me. I had changed. The things that I once liked to do, no longer were things that I like to do.

As my son got older and we were blessed with a daughter for our second child, suddenly, everything I saw looked dangerous. Even worse when my youngest came around.

"Why are there holes for the kids to hang out of and fall off of on the play ground set!?!?! Why are they so high?" My husband just tells me that I'm overreacting. How did I survive childhood? I climbed and did more dangerous things than that.

I hate this contraption and yet, it's one of my kid's most favorite things to play on. I can't even count the amount of times I've had to catch them while they were dangling from this or how many times they've been crotched. Ugh!

But parenthood isn't all scary. There's joy in it, too. There's laughter and silliness. The love that you feel is unconditional. You thought that you had loved before, but a parent's love is unlike anything that you could ever experience.

These little people that you and your loved one created grow before your eyes. They're precious and you know them and they know you. Their trust in you is a huge responsibility. What you do and how you do it matters.

Like molding clay or chocolates, you're raising your babies to be extraordinary and that is extroardinary!!!!

They are the future and the future is in your hands.

So a new baby changes everything! It changes you, your spouse, your kids, your pets, your neighbors, and the world.

Like Uncle Ben said in Spiderman,"With great power comes great responsibility"

Are you ready for it?

You're going to have to be because it's already happening.

You know what? You've got this! This change doesn't happen overnight. It's a learning process and no one knows what we're doing or what really works. That's why there are so many parenting books that all contradict themselves. Nobody's perfect.

You CAN do it!

Related Post: 

What They Didn't Tell You About Pregnancy- Sleep
What They Didn't Tell You About Pregnancy- Love
What They Didn't Tell You About Pregnancy- Hair
What They Didn't Tell You About Pregnancy- Foot Size
What They Didn't Tell You About Pregnancy-Eyes
How to Prepare For Motherhood- Get a Cat

Monday, December 17, 2018

Signs That Your Child Might Have ADHD

Medical Disclaimer- This article is not meant for diagnosing purposes. If you suspect your child may have ADHD talk to your child's pediatrician before self diagnosing and treating your child. Only a medical professional can give a diagnosis.
Disclaimer- This post may contain affiliate links which means that if you purchase something from a link, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help to keep this blog running. Thanks for stopping by today!
Having a child with ADHD has become more recognized in the last few years, but still seems to have negative connotations around it.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, doesn't have to have the negative impact that it has. In fact, getting a diagnosis for my son had changed our lives for the better because my husband and I were able to understand what my son was going through and were able to make a game plan.

Related Post- Does Your Child Have ADHD? It Isn't the End of the World

How Does ADHD Present Itself?

One of the reasons why it seems that ADHD seems to be getting diagnosed more regularly is because it's being more and more understood. It also doesn't present itself in the way that people more commonly associate it with, which is hyperactivity and lost attention. 

This scene is from the movie "Up"

So what are the symptoms that you should look for? 

  • Hyperactivity- While not all kids with ADHD show this sign, this one is the biggest indicator. Kids are going to be fidgety and want to play, but if your child is constantly bouncing off the walls and can't sit still for more than five minutes constantly and seems to do this more than other children, your child might have ADHD. In this scenario, though, a teacher, doctor, or someone who knows kids with ADHD, probably have already approached you.
  • Inattentive- Do they pay attention to things? My preschooler is expected to be able to follow three step instructions. Children who are older and have ADHD, have trouble doing all of those steps because they didn't pay enough attention when given the instructions. Also, children who are inattentive may not always present this behavior. If there is something that they really enjoy, they can focus on that for as long as they want. It's more common in school work. Things to look out for are:
    • You need to ask them several times to do something.
    • When you talk to them face-to-face, you might see their eyes glaze over or shift their attention to something else.
Unfortunately, many of the signs of inattentiveness are also part of being a child.

  • Forgetfulness- Children with ADHD might forget things more often. Part of this is because they can be inattentive and didn't pay attention enough to remember. Clues are:
    • How often do they leave homework at school?
    • Do you have to tell them something more than once?
    • Do they lose things?
    • Even though they've grown up with rules, they still seem to not follow them.
  • Excessive Talking or Fast Talking- Girls get accused of this all of the time, especially when we're excited, mad, or have something that we think is important to say. However, it eventually evens itself out and we speak at normal speeds from time to time. What makes it different for kids with ADHD is:
    • Not knowing when is a good time to talk. Does your child interrupt you or others all of the time?
    • Does your child talk so fast that you can't understand them?
    • Does your child take longer than other to tell you story? Do they tell you the story straight through or does it always take twists and side courses before you get to the end.
Part of this is just because they're kids, but if it seems like its more than usual, you might have a child with ADHD.
  • Excessive Volume- Sometimes this gets mistaken as your child yelling. Both my son and I got in trouble a lot for this because we weren't aware that we were talking louder. Now that I know and understand, it's easier to stop and think, "Is he being loud because he's yelling and being disrespectful or is he being loud because he can't help it or doesn't realize he's yelling. One thing that helped us out is visual cues. We asked him if there was a hand gesture that we could do to help him realize that he needs to lower his volume. The peace sign is what he chose. So when he starts to get loud, we just flash the "We're number two" sign and he knows to adjust his volume. 

  • Aggressiveness- Does your child get into fights at school or is just unruly at home?
    • A child with ADHD can also have anxiety and depressive disorders. Many times when they get in trouble for fighting or arguing, they just can't help it because they have all of these feelings and emotions that they can't process and just eventually have melt downs and explosions. Ways to stop that:
      • One way to really help your child is to have a schedule or order of things in the house. Changing things up can confuse the child and they need to have consistency.
      • Avoid distractions- If you have a child with ADHD in a classroom, don't sit them next to the window or a door way.
      • Give a warning if something will change. Examples:
        • Give a 5 or 10 minute warning if you're going to go from tablet time to dinner. That way, they aren't surprised when the tablet has to go off. 
        • If you're going to time something, let them know the new time every three minutes or so. So if you start with 10 minutes, then announce when it's 7 minutes, then 4 minutes, and then one minute left.
        • Include them in making plans. If you have to run to the store that day and have to take them along, tell them earlier rather than later. When kids are caught off guard, that's when their moods can change. 
  • Compulsive- This is again, very characteristic of kids, especially young ones. However, children eventually learn that if I do this, then this other thing will happen. Children with ADHD don't always learn from their mistakes and will do it again. Example:
    • Does your child cross streets without looking?
    • Do they always say whatever is on their mind?
    • Do they take things without asking?
    • Do they tend to follow the kids in class who misbehave?
    • Do they tend to not follow the rules?
  • Messy or extreme cleanliness- Did you know that OCD, Hoarding, and ADHD all have similarities? Some of these orders can actually be treated with similar medications. Messiness or even cleanliness can be contributed to compulsiveness and are the result to how each person has been able to channel it. 
  • Learning difficulties- Children who have ADHD can be behind in other subjects that children their age are average in. Some things may include:
    • Reading- Does your child have a difficult time reading?
    • Speech- Is your child difficult to understand? Part of it is because they may speak to quickly or that their mind is moving so fast that they don't realize they aren't putting the emphasis on the correct annunciation of words.
    • Motor Development- Is your child's handwriting atrocious? Can they pedal a bike?
    • Socializing- Does your child play well with others? Are they always dictating what others do or miss social cues? Do they play with other kids at all?

    My Child Doesn't Display All of These, Can They Still Have ADHD?

    Not everyone who has ADHD presents the same way. In fact, men and women display them all differently. 

    My son is hyper, lacks focus, talks loudly and quickly, is forgetful, is compulsive, and presented with aggression. However, before he was diagnosed, many of those signs also just seemed like regular childlike behavior.

    My daughter, on the other hand, is going to be screened for ADHD, this year for different symptoms. We never thought to have her screened for it because she always seemed to have her stuff together. Unfortunately, that's what happens many times with girls. 

    The reason's that she will be screened is as follows: 
    • Instead of having her eyes on her teacher, she's often found fidgeting and playing with things in her desk. However, if the teacher asks her a question, she can give her the correct response or repeat back to the teacher what she said.
    • Although my daughter knows what's going on in class and is learning, she has a difficult time getting started with her tasks. 
    • When asked to do something on their own without the help of the teacher, most kids can get things done within a few minutes, but my daughter can take twice as long. However, if she's working alongside the teacher, she can get it done if the same amount of time as others because she's constantly getting prompt to do so.
    • She's difficult to understand. We started off with just getting her speech intervention because she talks so quietly and mumbles, but really she's just talking too fast.

    So What Do You Do if You Suspect Your Child Might Have ADHD?

    If you suspect that your child may have ADHD, talk to your child's pediatrician.

    If you don't want to start off with them, talk with your child's teacher. If you suspect your child has ADHD, their teacher may have noticed the signs, too.

    The school was a big help in getting my son's diagnosis. 

    In his case, my husband, family, and I just thought that my son was behaving like any other child. In fact, if you read my older blog posts from when I first started blogging, you'll see that there were days when I thought that my son just like to play rough and was naughty from time to time. 

    When he started Kindergarten, he really began to get into trouble. Tablet time was a HUGE contributor to his outbursts. He didn't transition well and would throw things or slam chairs on the ground. It was actually something that we thought he had picked up from a student that he had class with in Preschool. We had talked with him and disciplined him, but nothing worked.

    Eventually, I got a call from the social worker at his school and together we had worked up a behavior plan and addressed other concerns like speech and Occupational therapy. That's when my son's Education Plan was made. ( A topic for another time) The behavior plan had worked for the rest of Kindergarten and First Grade. 

    Because we had that plan in place, I was able to talk to the new social worker when my son was in Second Grade. He was a huge help for us and put together a team to get this diagnosis. He contacted the school psychologist and she worked up a survey and it was determined that he had attention issues, hyperactivity, and even anxiety. We then showed those results to the doctor we switched to who worked with children with ADHD and that was that!

    My Child's Been Diagnosed With ADHD, Now What?

    If the verdict after speaking with the doctor is that your child has ADHD, don't be dismayed! One thing that my son's doctor recommended was to go to counseling. Learn what you can about ADHD and learn coping mechanisms. 

    Also- chances are, someone else in your family does, too. That's right, ADHD can be genetic. 

    Even though I haven't been formally diagnosed, I also have ADHD tendencies that were missed when I was a child. I was loud, fast talking child who often got in trouble for being mouthy or sassy when really, I was just passionate.  At school, I was a social butterfly and I also had a difficult time focusing, but it wasn't something that anyone took much concern over. 

    Guess what! I overcame it for he most part and I grew up to be a mostly functioning, well adjusted person, who could have her forgetfulness and fuzzy brain contributed as mom moments.

    Ok, so that was probably an unnecessary bunny trail brought to you by an ADHD "over explaining" tangent moment, when I could have gotten straight to the point. 

    If you're still reading, then know this- There are ways to get help:

    • You can teach your child to work through it. Teach them ways to learn to focus. There are fidget spinners and other different devices to work through hyperactivity and inattentiveness.
    • Exercise! There are many studies that show that exercise can eliminate ADHD. A school in Texas has tripled recess to test the theory. Read about it here. 
    • Diet Change- There have been studies that suggest that changing your child's diet can help them refocus and quite possibly help with ADHD. You can find books all about it online or at a book store.
    • Medication- Medication has a negative connotation about it because of how the drugs for it used to make children behave. Things have changed this day and age. My husband and I were very wary about having my son take the medication because of all of the horror stories that we heard about it, but we decided to have my son try it and the change in my son was miraculous. I can tell you about everything in a different post because there would be just too much to write about, but all of the negative side effects that we thought would happen, never did. We didn't lose him, he is still the same creative and happy boy he always is with or without the medication. 

    You're Doing Everything Right.

    Before my son's diagnosis, I felt like such a terrible parent. I felt like I was doing it all wrong and that's why he behaved the way he did. 

    I felt like a failure. I thought that he would purposely not listen to me or try to get into trouble, but it wasn't that at all. I thought that the way I had disciplined him, only made things worse.

    Once I had realized how far behind he was in school, I thought that I just wasn't doing a good enough job teaching him at home for him to move ahead. I also wanted to blame the school because how could he be so far behind if they weren't teaching him well?

    I was so wrong! Since his diagnosis and his medication, his learning growth has tripled and he's right where he needs to be on the learning curve. He's so sweet and helpful in school and a great pal to all of his friends. 

    Your friends and family may not understand. I still have to explain to my family why my baby needed the intervention. To them, he was just a normal boy, why would he need any extra help or medication? Once I explain to them and show them the results, they understand. 

    It's just that when people hear ADHD, they have a specific picture in their head about what it means to have it. They more often think of Dumb and Dumber, but really, many of the most well known masterminds of the times had some sort of disorder like ADHD, but they channeled it into their passions and were just brilliant about the things they loved.

    You're doing it right. You can breathe, you can relax. Things are going to change and everything will be alright.

    Has this post helped you in understanding ADHD? Did you or your child get diagnosed with it? What were some things that you learned? What did you have to adjust?

    Comment below and don't forget to share if you enjoyed what you read!

    Wednesday, December 12, 2018

    12 Gifts Ideas That Mom Won't Hate

    Disclaimer- this post contains Amazon Affiliate links which means that if you purchase one of the items below from the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

    Finding the Perfect Gift

    Christmas is coming and sometimes finding the perfect gift for mom can be hard and mom may end up left out on receiving gifts. We want to get her something that she likes, but we don't always know what to get her.

    It happens, ya know. Mom has usually been in charge of getting all of the gifts and stocking stuffers, but sometimes we forget about mom. In some households, mom might not even receive anything except for that one gift that your child's teacher had the whole class do together in a chaotic crafting event.

    Some men, just don't know what to do. I remember my dad giving us girls some money and it was up to us to pick out the perfect thing.... Girls! Not women. So we'd get my mom something from Claire's because it's what we would like or we'd get her a candle. There was always some thought put into it, but now that I think about it as an adult, my mom probably didn't care too much about that gift, but she liked it because it came from us.

    Sometimes, we just don't know what to get mom, so we get her random things that we think she'll just love, and you know, she probably doesn't make it easy for you when you ask her what she wants. So the whole ordeal can be frustrating for the gift giver.

    Let me tell you a secret. If you mom isn't high maintenance, like me, then we're just glad to be getting things that we need. Also, chances are, what we really want are new vacuum cleaners and  refrigerators. Things to make the house run smoothly. Seriously, my favorite things in my house are my newer appliances. At some point, I became weird and those things delighted me. Now, actually using them may be a different story.

    So, I asked some moms, "What are some gifts that you wouldn't hate receiving?" The answers might surprise you because these answers also delighted them.

    Related- Let Mom Experience the Holidays, too

    The Winners Were-

    • Fuzzy Socks- Our toes get so cold and there is something comforting about fuzzy socks, especially those that are coated with aloe vera.
    • Blankets- Moms agreed that it didn't matter if we already had 10 fuzzy blankets, we still loved them.
    • Hot Cocoa/Coffee Mug- I don't drink coffee very much, but I love hot cocoa. If you get your mom a mug, get her some hot cocoa or her favorite coffee mix with it too!
    • Body Wash- Since I'm a mom with young kids, I don't find myself heading to Bath n Body Works often, so I don't get to try out those scented body washes except for when I'm gifted them. 
    • Bath Bombs- These are AMAZING! If you have a bath tub and mom likes taking baths to relax, these are perfect!
    • Books- I asked these moms, "Would you rather them gift you books or would you rather have a gift card?" The answers varied. Some moms said that they like to see what others would think they would like to read or they want to receive a book that means something to giver, while others said that they liked gift cards so they can pick them out.
    • Gift Cards- There may be something that mom has been wanting to get, but hasn't because the price has been high, so gift cards give them that extra push to get it and they don't have to ask for that expensive thing. You could do a generic visa so they can purchase whatever they want or you can do something more specific so you know that mom isn't just using her gift card for buying groceries.
    • Cleaning Supplies- I know that this may seem like a weird gift, but dish detergent or laundry soap is something that I often forget to pick up at the store and have to make a special trip to go back and get or it's just something that makes me happy. Some of my teacher friends said this.
    • Craft Supplies- If your mom is crafty, it's easy to be delighted in receiving ribbons or glitter. 
    • Chap Stick/Makeup- I love chapstick, especially this time of year, but mine always goes missing. I would always welcome chapstick. If you want to go the makeup route, see what your mom likes and get that brand or give her a gift card.
    • Handmade Items- We do like to receive that special potholder or ashtray/pen holder. It's a keepsake to see how you've grown and that you thought of us, even if your teacher forced you to do it. The thought really does count.
    • Laundry Baskets- This is number 1 on my list- I have a two story house with the laundry in the basement. My basket handles always break and I could always use more. The best part about this gift is that you can use it to hold any other gifts if you decide to do multiple gifts. 

    I wish I could tell you that all mom's would love these gifts, but realistically, there are some out there who can get whiny about what they receive. I hope that your mom isn't that way, but for us average moms, this is what made the list from all the moms I polled.

    But, let's remember that Christmas isn't just about receiving presents. It's about the birth of Jesus and spreading love and joy to those we know. So don't worry too much! Enjoy spending time with your family and friends and if you want to give your mom or the mom in your life something special and don't know what exactly to get her, try a few of these.

    What is something that you always like to receive? What is something that you enjoy giving away?

    Related Post- How to Let Mom Enjoy the Holidays

    Monday, December 10, 2018

    The Beginner's Bible

    Disclaimer- I received this Bible in exchange for an honest review. Although I was asked to review this product, all reviews are my honest opinion and I was not told what to write.

    My mom didn't take us to church when I was growing up, but she still said goodnight prayers with us when she remembered. At the time, those goodnight prayers were my first pictures of what Jesus was like.

    From time to time, I'd get other glimpses from the children's Bible that my grandma had in the toy room of her house.  She'd read it for us, but it wasn't something that I would pick up and read for myself because the paragraphs were long and not easy to understand. I always had to have my grandma translate it for me because I was just too young to really understand it.

    Thankfully, my mom allowed my grandma to take us to church. We started going to Sunday school and Wednesday night children's church where we began to have a Christian foundation taught to us. God wasn't a regular in our household and it wasn't until I was in high school that my mom started going to church. If my grandma didn't take us to church or read us that children's Bible, I wouldn't have known much about Jesus and how important that he and God are in my life. Those nightly prayers that my mom recited with us would have just been about a man that we didn't know who lived up in the sky.

    God, however, was working in our lives. I asked Jesus into my heart when I was younger and grew to know him as my Lord and Savior in my teens. I met my husband at a Christian college, so when we had kids, we really wanted them to learn about God and Jesus in ways that they could understand.

    When they were born, we attended the church that I grew up in, but we moved when my oldest was four years old. We struggled to find a church that we liked that had a good children's program, at first, so I did my best to teach them and raise them up with Christian values.

    One thing I did was download a children's devotional on my tablet and used that as a way to teach them. It worked, at first, but the app wouldn't go beyond a certain a point and my tablet eventually gave out, too.

    The children's Bibles that we had for them when they were babies were worn out and falling apart, so I was very glad when I came across a company who offered to send me two Beginner's Bible's for kids. One was for me to try out, and the other is to give away to someone else.

    Zondervan is the company who has printed many of the Christian Romance novels that I like to read and has branched out to make children's stories and bibles with their Zonderkidz brand and they are exceptional! The Beginner's Bibles that we received are very sturdy with their hard covers. The pictures are bright and colorful and easily attract kid's attention and also keep their focus.

    I love that the characters are cartoonish and not just flat, harsh characters. The Bible that I would look at with my grandma had pastel characters that seemed hash. They weren't very welcoming like these happy, smiling figures are.

    I really like that there is a table of contents. I'm sure most Bibles's have it, but look at how many wonderful stories are written in this Bible! Zonderkidz didn't skimp when they they did the final editing and printing of these books.

    My favorite thing about this Bible, though, is how easy it is to read. The words are large and the stories are written with words that kids understand. If my kids ask me to read them these stories, I will, but they are able to sit down and read them by themselves and I'm not plagued by vocabulary questions because each word is explained in the stories.

    My daughter likes to take it to her room and look and look at the pages. Whenever it's bedtime, they ask us if they can read before they go, and it warms my heart to seen my oldest read this book to his siblings.

    I'm so glad that we received this Bible when we did. Christmas is around the corner and my kid's are old enough now to understand that we celebrate Christmas to honor Jesus' birthday. My husband's family always had the tradition of having one of their kids read the Christmas story aloud, and I'm excited to have that tradition incorporated into our home and the Christmas story in this Beginner's Bible is so precious that even my four year old is engaged and enthralled by it.

    If you are in search of a Beginner's Bible for your children, I highly recommend this one. So don't forget to get The Beginner's Bible- Timeless Children's Stories!

    For more news and updates on book releases, visit or follow Zonderkidz.Beginners.Bible on Facebook for more news!

    Do you remember your first Bible? Was it cute like this or was it hard to understand and uninteresting? What was it like?

    Wednesday, December 5, 2018

    A Mom's Morning Mayhem

    Disclaimer- This post may contain affiliate links which means that should you purchase something from one of them, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. 

    Every morning, the alarm on my husband's phone starts to go off at 7:00AM and a minute later, the alarm on my phone goes off at 7:00 AM. Our phones must be a minute apart. I sigh as I roll over to turn it off. My husband's is still going. Since I know that once my husband gets into the bathroom, being able to go to the bathroom will have to wait for another fifteen minutes. So I get out of bed and head to the bathroom to relieve myself, wash my hands, and then wake the kids up, telling them that if they don't get up and go now, they'll have to hold their bladder until later.

    As I try to sneak down the stairs to start the kid's breakfast, I hear little feet lazily shuffle to the bathroom. Sometimes there is an argument over who goes first, but usually there isn't. After I descend the first small flight, my youngest stands at the top and cries for me to come back; he wants me to give him a piggy back ride down the stairs. I groan and say, "Can't you walk down by yourself?" He cries some more and shakes his head. I turn around and walk down another step which ignites another scream from him. I give up and climb that step again, holding my arms out for him to jump. It's only four stairs to the top of that flight, so I know he'll make it. He shakes his head "no" and points to the step beneath him. I really should tell him to use his words, but I know that it's better to just sit down and let him climb on my shoulders, otherwise the whole morning will consist of meltdowns.

    That's usually how my mornings start. Sometimes I make it all the way down the stairs before my four-year-old notices I’m gone. I don't even have to ask anymore what everyone wants. It's usually the same; the oldest wants pancakes, the middle child wants toast with Nutella, and the youngest gets what I give him. To save time, I make a large batch of pancakes during the weekend and freeze the rest that we don't eat so I can microwave it throughout the week.

    Everything usually goes well until it's time for the kids to sit down and eat. We have a very specific seating arrangement... No one sits next to each other because when they are together, the kids either play or fight instead of eating. 

    I really should get up much earlier to prepare things because this has only gotten worse. Generally, I would give the kids their food in the dining room and then go to the kitchen to pack lunches and load the dishwasher. This was the plan that always worked last year, but now, I have to sit at the dining room table to make sure they are eating. 

    My oldest was diagnosed with ADHD last year. He's very social and when he hasn't taken his medicine, he doesn't follow directions. So, even when I'm sitting at the table with my kids, observing them eat, I am still constantly reminding them that they need to keep eating. Eventually, crazy mommy comes out, you know, the one who's voice is high pitched and words are jumbled because she's so frustrated, she can't speak correctly.

    I don't mean for her to come out. It's like once I became a mother, I suddenly became like Dr. Jeckle and Mr. Hyde. I start out the morning tired, but sweet, then it's like after the tenth time of saying, "Leave your sister alone! Stop teasing your brother!" I turn into the evil witch that I play as when I'm playing with my kids... Although it's no longer funny, it's serious. My voice is raised and just when I think that I'm going to completely lose my mind, my husband swoops in from the bathroom, all showered and clean, like Mr. Darcy climbing out of the lake at his home in Pemberly and tells the kids, "Listen to your mother." And guess what! They listen to him. His voice isn't booming or particularly deep, but it contains some type authority that my voice somehow lacks. 

    Then, like magic, my kids suddenly know what to do with the food placed in front of them. They know how to put their uniforms on and how to brush their teeth. They even know how to put on their socks and shoes. I'm convinced that my husband is the Great and Powerful Oz. You do what he says! 
    Once he leaves for work, however, things fall apart all over again. The kids are either yelling at each other or they're playing together nicely, but they aren't listening to me when I say that it's time to grab book bags and head out the door. I shouldn't be surprised that the kids are tardy again for the twentieth time since school started a couple of months ago, but I walk outside and say with disbelief, "I can't believe we're late, again. Please get into the car. Hey! Get in the car, please. GET IN THE CAR!" It's really just the darndest thing.

    I think I read somewhere once, that kids behave the worst with their moms. Something about them feeling comfortable with them. I'm glad that I'm someone that they trust and feel comfortable with, but every once in a while, I would also be glad for no morning mayhem.

    Does anyone else have similar mornings? Ugh!

    Friday, November 30, 2018

    How Getting a New Camera Changed Our Picture Game

    Disclaimer- This post contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something on here, at no extra cost you, I may earn a small commission. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

    One of the things that I have always loved doing with my family has been getting my kids' pictures
     taken each year.

    When my first child was born, I took him to our local Walmart picture studio for every month of his first year... except for that one month because I was mad about how that previous month went.

    I never really went overboard with the price, because at the time, I could get a picture package for a single picture from anywhere between $5.99- $9.99. (Did I mention this began almost 9 years ago?) Here and there, we'd purchase a bigger package for special occasions, but mostly, we stuck around with the cheaper one because my husband and I were freshly out of college and our jobs, at the time, didn't pay well.
    He's cute, but why did they tilt him like this?

    When my second born came into the world, we tried to get her pictures done, but somewhere along the line, Walmart's studio left the building. But not to worry though, because grandma two and a half hours away had a picture studio that offered a similar package and their pictures were done very well and the experience was 100x better than Walmart's was.

    Unfortunately, that meant that there were pictures that we just couldn't let go of because we needed singles photos of each child and we also wanted family pictures with them. This meant that we could only purchase a package once or twice a year because a $200-$300 portrait package just isn't in our "amount we want to spend on anything" budget.

    When my last child blessed us with his presence, I did a terrible job of keeping up with pictures. I know how my youngest sister must feel now, being the hidden child. The child that there was no record of... ok... My youngest isn't really a hidden child because we took many pictures from our phones, but the chances of getting those printed and handed out has dropped to like a mere 10-15% chance of doing it.

    So, about once a year, we began getting pictures taken of the kids to pass out a Christmas gifts- Surprise! You're getting a coffee mug with my kid's faces on it every year until the day you die... Well, we do make picture books and notepads, too.

    Unfortunately, for us, the picture place closed so we tried to do another portrait place over in . Shaumburg. The pictures were cute, but the we didn't get much for our buck.

    So this year, I decided I would try to take our own pictures. My daughter had a fall tea party and one of the things that I thought would be fun to do was to set up a picture station. I bought a plain white table cloth and taped it to one of our walls and then taped some fall decorations on to it as a photo drop. The idea was cute and if you squeezed everyone together, you might be able to get a good photo without the kitchen or the tan wall being in the picture, but the picture quality wasn't professional with my camera phone and my camera was slow in making some shots.

    As you can see, the picture isn't focused well and it appears to be a little grainy. It's still alright because when I look back at older photos with older phones, those pictures are almost always blurry or just awful.

    I also noticed that the camera on my phone doesn't focus on what I want it to. So when I went to Starved Rock and Matthiessen to hike, I told my husband that I would like a new camera. A good one. A professional one.

    At first, he told me that it wasn't something that we could really do, especially since we have our phones to take good pictures with, but I think that after taking pictures of the outdoor scenery and seeing how the photos didn't do the colors and details of the outdoors justice, he began to mull the idea over.

    I would leave little hints about how my blog could use some more professional looking photos and how we didn't really have any pictures to hand out at Christmas, this year, and then one day, I got an email from him while he was on his break at work.

    He sent me several pictures of cameras with all of the details about what they came with and all the specs and wrote, "Would you like this as an early Christmas present?" After much debate and talking about the expense and telling him that I would be ok with something smaller, he said, "If we're going to get a camera, we're going to do it right."

    Who can argue with that logic?

    So now, we have a camera.  The camera above and it came with ALL of that fancy stuff. It's one where I have to turn the lens to zoom it in and our and focus with it. One that gives me a manual option- options that I should remember from my photography class I took 12 years ago... hahahahahaha- it also gives options for outdoors, sports, different lens and their attachments. I can take photos, good photos. I need to practice.

    She really is that pale. This is a few days after she got over the flu.

    I'm still getting the hang of it, but I think that this is going to be one of the best purchases we make, this year. So be prepared for more pictures, because I'm going to be taking them!

    Closing Questions for you!

    1. Is anything stopping you from taking awesome photos?
    2. What tips, if you have any, would you give for someone who is a newbie at taking pictures?
    3. What are your must have photography items?
    4. If you edit your photos, what are the best free or low cost programs to use?
    5. What kind of pictures do you like to take? (Please keep them clean as this is a family friendly site. 

    Wednesday, November 21, 2018

    Let Mom Experience the Holidays, Too!

    As an adult, I have this new respect for my mom and my grandma who worked in the kitchen the whole day on Thanksgiving and even on Christmas to make sure that everyone had a favorite dish to eat on Thanksgiving. For one thing, food is EXPENSIVE and for another thing, it can take a long time to make those dishes.

    Now that I'm hosting Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, I realize how time consuming it really is. I felt that I missed most of the Christmas cheer and celebration, last year, so this year, I vowed that it wouldn't happen again.

    How Do You Give Yourself Extra Time?

    • Prepare Dishes ahead of time- Prepare any dish that you can the night before. A few weeks ago, I posted 7 different Easy to Make Thanksgiving dishes. Almost every single one of those can be prepared the night before. Then, about 30-40 minutes before the meal is to be served, slip those in the oven (If that's where they go) and voila, you have most of your morning to do what you want to do. 

    Related- How to Have an Easy Thanksgiving with These Easy-to-Make Side Dishes

    • Do take out- If your family is happy with ordering out there may still be restaurants open that day, but before deciding to do that, check around your area to see if any of them do offer that. 
    • Don't prepare so much food- I know this seems silly because Thanksgiving-especially- is about being thankful, but also the food spread. If you can find just a few dishes that everyone likes, do that instead.
    • Potluck style- You're already offering your house as a place to gather. Make the turkey and have guests or other family members prepare a dish. As your kids get older, involve them in the cooking.
    • Already Prepared Food- Not everything needs to be homemade. If you can throw some frozen vegetables in the microwave and you want to, do it! Buy that pie that's already made! 
    • Take Turns to Host- If you always host and you don't mind giving up the title to someone else, ask someone else to take over from time to time. If you feel guilty, bring a dish to pass.
    • Use Fake Dishes- Did you know that you can buy fake china? I discovered some Premium Plastic Plates at Sam's Club a few years ago. They look like the real thing, but you don't have to wash them. Just recycle them. I know this can be wasteful, but it really does save you time and you don't have to worry about whether or not you have enough dishes or silverware to serve your guests. 

    Prepare Your Food Station Ahead of Time

    There's nothing more frustrating than figuring everything out at the last minute. Figure out your game plan! What will you do when it's time to eat? Do you have a place for the food to go?

    • Make room for food- We have a dining room. We try to fit the main dishes in the middle of the table, but it doesn't fit all of it. We end up putting a card table to a side with less foot traffic and put desserts and side dishes on it. If there isn't enough room, put the dessert in the fridge or some other place that's safe from animals and people bumping into it. 
    • Move things around- If you are having guests, the house can get easily crowded. If you can, temporarily move your furniture around so that there is ease of moving around. 
    • Ask Someone to Set the Table- We use our dining room table for everything including socializing. It's difficult to play games or talk when you're doing it over empty dishes. I usually put out a nice tablecloth, maybe some pretty centerpieces, and then leave the rest of the table open. When I know the food is just about ready, I ask my kids to help set the table. Since we have family and friends, I really don't care too much about how it looks after because they still love me for me.
    If you have a plan, you don't have to hurriedly scramble things together and keep your wits about you.  

    What to Do With the Extra Time that You Get?

    Do what you love to do with your family.


    • Play board games- My kids are just getting to the age where they can enjoy and understand some of my favorite board games. We're not quite ready to play Monopoly yet, (maybe Monopoly isn't the game to play on a day when you're supposed to be thankful) but Battleship is pretty easy to play. 
    • Make Crafts- Construction paper is really one of my favorite things to use for crafts. You can make hand turkeys or pilgrim hats. Last year, I cut out a tree trunk and then a base for leaves. Then with red, yellow, and orange construction paper, I cut out tear drop shaped leave and each of us wrote five things we were thankful for, then taped them to the tree for a thankful tree.

    We made Turkey puppets, this year. We have Peg Leg Joe, Princess Turkey, Bat Turkey with a cold beak, and Turkey Robin.
    • Watch Movies- It doesn't have to be a Thanksgiving movie or a Christmas movie, just find a movie that you, the kids, and the rest of the family enjoys and pop it in. 
      • Pop some popcorn and add some M&Ms for a special treat.
      • Snuggle up with warm blankets.
      • Drink some hot cocoa! My favorite is Land O' Lakes Hot Cocoa. 
    • Play Some Games with the Adults- It's ok to NOT do everything with your kids. If they are busy watching their own movie or playing without killing each other, play some card games or other games that you don't get to do normally. Moms and Dads- you spend so much time with your kids, it's ok to have adult time. Some of my favorite, and sometimes not appropriate games to play are:
      • Cards Against Humanity- not suitable for children or playing with your grandparents, unless they're dirty minded or politically incorrect.
      • Apples to Apples- This is family friendly. There is a judge who either gives you a word or a description and everyone else who is playing either plays the word or description that they think fits that word best and the judge picks which one is best. 
      • Risk- Like Monopoly, this can cause your family to be estranged. 
      • Scrabble- This is a game that your kids can play if they aren't competitive. It teaches them how to read, spell, and learn new words for their vocabulary. 

    If you made a turkey or ham, it's going to be done cooking between 3-5 hours. (perhaps more if it's very large). It's going to need some time to cool, so after you take it out of the oven, throw in your other side dishes that were prepared ahead of time. I know some recipes give different times and temps. What I usually do is find the middle ground and adjust the time accordingly. As long as you're not preparing other meat items, what we're mostly looking for is that the dish is warmed through.

    Have your kids set the table and then have everyone sit down and eat.

    Enjoy your Thanksgiving or Christmas meal. Remember, this is the time to be Thankful, although we should always be grateful for what we have, but relax. Take it easy and enjoy the ones you love!

    Don't let the busyness of these holidays ruin your quality time and enjoyment of the day!

    Monday, November 19, 2018

    The Wild Kratts Live 2.0- A Paw-some Review

    Disclaimer- This post contains affiliate links. Any purchases you make can earn me a small commission at no extra cost for you. Although I coincidentally won some free tickets to this show, I was not paid or sponsored to write this post. All opinions are my own. 

    With Thanksgiving approaching, I wanted to share with everyone something that happened to me that I was really Thankful for.

    I got this wonderful opportunity and won some tickets to go see the Wild Kratts Live 2.0. I'd like to give a shout out to my friend Jessica, because without her, I wouldn't have seen the link to enter the give-a-way- Thank you Jessica!

    If you've been following my blog, you know that my son has this amazing memory. He's knowledgeable in all the things that interest him and I've been asked by every one of his teachers where he gets his knowledge. They have even told me, "Your son could have taught this class today. You must read to him all the time." It's usually then that I smirk or chuckle, because truth be told, I read to my kids, but not every day and really, most of the things that they've learned about, they've actually learned from watching television.

    When it comes to animal knowledge, my kids have learned most of what they know because of the Wild Kratts. (Thanks Netflix and Amazon Prime!)  So I was ecstatic when I got that tag on Facebook saying that I won the tickets.

    To be honest, I had looked into purchasing tickets for this show closer to where I live, but I had no idea what it offered. I didn't know if there would be live animals and if it would just be like what you see when watching talk shows and a zoo keeper or other animal handler brings animals on stage or if it would be totally theatrical. With the cost per person, I was afraid to take the risk to buy tickets for a family of five and then have my kids be totally disappointed. So I held off on purchasing any.

    Let me tell you this, My kids were so excited when I finally told them what we were going to see. I had kept it a secret from them until we were standing right in front of the theater.

    My oldest is ever dramatic, just like me. So, I knew they'd be excited, but I didn't know if they would be interested in the show once it had started. I was very nervous because my youngest is only four and when we had taken him to his first movie in the theater several months before, he had swung from the bars that were in front of our seat separating our seats from the group below us. I didn't want him running up and down the aisles. Thankfully, that didn't happen. 

    Once we got to the show, we realized that it was going to play along with the actual tv series. In order to understand what we saw, you'll need to understand what the tv series is like. 

    The Wild Kratt's television series

    If you've never watched the Wild Kratts, you can view a few of their seasons for free on Amazon Prime Video or you could watch them on PBS. The Wild Kratts starts every episode with the two, very real, Kratt brothers Martin and Chris. They each talk about different topics like "Why do moose look so weird?" and then talk about other animals who look funny and explain why they do. This little snippet is about two minutes long and they say, "Imagine what it would be like if we had faces like a walrus. What if?!?!" then they strike a pose and they turn into their cartoon versions of themselves. 

    The Wild Kratt's crew includes Martin and Chris Kratt, Jimmy Z, Aviva, and Koki. Each crew member has an important part to play in the crew. Aviva is the inventor behind the creature suits, Koki does pretty much everything, and Jimmy Z is the tech operator who is basically the modern day Shaggy from Scooby Doo. It is Chris and Martin's job to research animals to find out why they are unique. With Aviva's creature power suits, Chris and Martin are able to transform into any animal and use their unique creature powers to save the day. So, in the Walrus episode, Chris and Martin transform into a walrus and with their tusks and special whiskers, they are able to find something hidden under the seabed floor that they wouldn't have been able to find if they were human. 

    Unfortunately, in every episode there is some villain who tries to stand in their way. They have Chef Gourmand who likes to only cook and serve rare animals, Donita who is a fashion designer who only fashions her looks with animals and Dabio who is her not-so-bright sidekick, and Zach Varmatech who is an evil tech inventor that uses real animals to power his inventions and has his Zachbots capture the poor animals. It's up to the Wild Kratts to save the day.

    The Wild Kratt's Live 2.0 

    The show that we saw began, to my surprise, with the REAL Martin and Chris Kratt. I didn't know if it would really be them, or if we would see actors. So this was the first surprise. 

    I hope I never forget the looks on my kid's face when they walked out on stage. The joy and wonder that showed on them made everything worth while.

    From the moment the two men started talking, my youngest was literally on the edge of his seat. His focus was on that stage and his face was right next to the boy in the seat in front of him. I had to keep moving him back so that poor boy had some space.

    The Kratt brothers welcomed us and talked about how cool animals were. They asked the audience what their favorite animals were and everyone would answer all at once. My kids don't usually interact with the television, so I was surprised when they interacted with the Kratt's prompts.

    Then it happened, the Kratt brothers asked, "What if WE could become these creatures? Should we use our creature power suits?" The audience said, "Yes!" The brothers then asked, "Which one should we become? I heard the cheetah. We'll try that first!"

    The energy of the room was raised and excited "yays" rang throughout the theater. The Kratt brothers began to show us their creature power disks. Chris's was organized while Martin's were found randomly in his pack and one disk was even in his shoe. It was during the time that he was searching for the disk in his shoe, that Martin clumsily knocked all of Chris's and his power disks through the air and lost them all in the grass.

    So, naturally, the brothers needed to shrink down to miniaturized size to find these disks. This is where the live show and the cartoon show combined.

    I don't want to give away the show, but from here, the Kratts looked for the power disks and as they found them, they changed into some helpful creatures.

    They battled and hid from some Zackbots and in the end, they found all the disks they had been looking for.


    The show involved the whole audience and even though some parts were slow because of the costume changes, my kids were still interested and engaged the whole time.

    I highly recommend going to see this show if you have younger kids. My oldest is almost 9 and he was still very entertained. It didn't see to be too young for him. I'd say that the show is for kids ages four to ten.

    We really enjoyed the show, even the adults. It was interesting and funny. It had a great mix between live and cartoon. It incorporated many of the same things the tv show has including the miniaturizer and Zackbots. A screen dropped down to give us information on different animals as well as show us the cartoon version of Koki, Aviva and Jimmy Z. So all of our favorites were there.

    One thing that I wish I would have known is that the show offers VIP tickets. Since we won our tickets, I didn't know this. Each VIP ticket gets to do a meet and greet with Martin and Chris and that would have been something that we would have really enjoyed doing. Now I know for next time!

    Since we saw the show in a town four hours away, I called my kids off of school and stayed at my parent's house since they were only an hour away from there. I was comfortable with this because I felt that it was an educational field trip of sorts and it didn't disappoint. 

    Disclaimer: I was not asked to post about this show. The tickets that I won were totally coincidental and ALL opinions are my own. I am not getting paid to write this post.