A Different New Year’s Resolution for all Mamas: Focus on a 1,000 other things than being thin!

Blog post 12.31.13.4

“I’ve got two daughters who will have to make their way in this skinny-obsessed world, and it worries me, because I don’t want them to be empty-headed, self-obsessed, emaciated clones; I’d rather they were independent, interesting, idealistic, kind, opinionated, original, funny – a thousand things, before ‘thin’. And frankly, I’d rather they didn’t give a gust of stinking chihuahua flatulence whether the woman standing next to them has fleshier knees than they do.”  J.K. Rowling

I read this amazing quote a few weeks ago, and it has changed my way of thinking DRASTICALLY.  During this time of New Year’s resolutions focusing so heavily on looking a certain way or being a certain size, I think this quote is timely and so important.

I am very guilty of comparing myself to others, of looking to see whose knees are “fleshier,” of obsessing over calorie counts and the scale and dress sizes.  And I can’t get that time back.  I can’t change the past or give myself back the hours I lost feeling bad about myself for not looking a certain way, but I can change what happens in the future.

I want to spend this year focusing on being “a thousand things before ‘thin.'”  I want to put my focus and energy into things that make me smarter, wiser, kinder, more loving…there are so many more important things in life than what size I wear or what the scale says!

Making wise choices with food and making time for exercise is absolutely important–don’t get me wrong–but it needs to be done in the name of being strong, healthy and taking care of yourself rather than the pursuit of an unrealistic body type.

My mom did a FABULOUS job with teaching me the value of inner beauty over outer beauty, but despite all of the wisdom she shared with me, I have still struggled immensely with accepting my body the way it is.  It was hard in my college and pre-kid days, and now that I’ve endured carrying and breast-feeding twins and the physical changes that occur as a result, it’s a thousand times harder than ever.

But when I think about my daughters and what kind of example I’m setting for them and how I want them to love themselves and focus on their inner beauty, it isn’t as hard as it used to be.  Does having kids make us that much wiser?  Or just offer a new perspective and filter with which we see ourselves?

Whatever it is, I pledge in 2014 to work on becoming smarter, kinder, friendlier, more of a servant to my family and friends, building a stronger relationship with God and the people in my life…and to keep “skinny” and “fat” out of my inner and outer vocabulary.

How do you deal with body image for yourself and for your children?  What are you planning on focusing on in 2014?

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‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, Parent Style (Full Text)

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house,

Crumbs and toys were scattered everywhere; there was a sandwich on the couch.

The ornaments were strewn on the floor by the tree,

As the twinadoes had pulled them all off with great glee.

The children were running in their footed pajamas,

Not yet feeling tired and yelling, “Watch, Mama!”

The girls chased the dogs with giggles galore,

Dressing the poor animals in hats and Christmas decor.

The hubs in his jeans and I in my sweats,

Were laughing at the chaos unfolding in our midst.

When up from the kitchen arose such a clatter!

We rushed in to see the hat-wearing dog licking an empty cookie platter.

I ran as fast as my angry legs could go,

Chasing that beagle right out in the snow.

The toddlers flew to the window to see such a sight,

Their mama yelling at the dog on a freezing cold night.

With the moon on the crest of the dead flowers in the planter,

I yelled loudly at the dog, “Those cookies were for Santa!”

When the girls realized poor Santa’s treats were gone,

They begin to wail, scream and loudly carry on.

I trudged back inside as the hubs comforted our brood,

Determined to keep this tragedy from ruining the mood.

We tried to read a sweet Christmas book,

But it seemed each page was interrupted by an, “I pooped!”

After many busy hours the kids were finally sleeping,

But the hubs and I had work to do; to the basement we went creeping.

We had forgotten a pile of presents we’d hidden;

There was wrapping to do and cards to be written.

Assembling the giant trampoline did not happen with ease,

As the directions on the box seemed written in Japanese.

Then upstairs to the stockings we dragged our old selves,

Wishing for some help from some energetic, younger elves.

Finally, finally, at dawn’s early light,

We crawled wearily into bed, ready to call it a night.

When out from the hall popped two tiny heads.

“Mama, Daddy, it’s Christmas! Get out of bed!”

With extra strong coffee and all the cheerfulness we could fake,

Those sweet little hands down the hall we did take.

They had so much joy and childlike glee,

Both of which erased the exhaustion of the all night spree.

You see, children are worth every stress and all-nighter,

Even with the tantrums, the cries and the extra nasty diapers.

So may this tale bring you joy, and on my behalf,

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good laugh!

 

Here is the link to the original posting on the Greeley Tribune website:

http://www.greeleytribune.com/news/feature3/9485121-113/christmas-dog-finally-girls

ABC I Spy Bottle

ABC I Spy 3

I made two of these ABC I Spy bottles for my toddlers this week, and they love them! It’s an easy way to give your child an additional exposure to the alphabet to help with letter recognition. You can also use it to help with color recognition, and it takes about 10 minutes and less than $10 to make.

I saw a different version of an I Spy bottle on Pinterest a few months ago with little trinkets in it from a blog called, “Meet the Dubiens” (http://www.meetthedubiens.com/2010/11/i-spy-bottles.html), and I thought adapting the idea would be a fun way to sneak in a learning opportunity for my twins.

All you need is 2-3 cups of a filler (I used a large bag of rice to make 3 bottles, but oatmeal, sand, salt, quinoa, or any small particle filler that is in your pantry), a Voss brand water bottle from the water section at your grocery store (or any other clear plastic container with a tight-fitting lid) and a set of alphabet magnets, alphabet beads or alphabet foam stickers. You might also want a funnel or a piece of paper you can roll to help get the filler into the bottle.

Materials for ABC I Spy Bottle

Peel the labels off of the bottle, and empty out the water. (For costing more than $1 a bottle, I couldn’t tell the Voss water tasted any different than other water…sorry, Voss). Then put the bottle upside down on a towel for a minute to get out as much moisture as possible so the rice or filler won’t stick to the side of the bottle.

Then alternate adding a letter and some rice. A funnel or piece of paper rolled into a cone can be helpful to keep the rice from getting everywhere, but if you don’t mind a mess you can use your hands. Putting rice between each letter seemed to keep the magnets on my letters from sticking to one another as much.

Choose the letters you’d like to put in carefully. I used only capital letters because my girls are still learning their alphabet, but you can use a mix of capital and lowercase or only lowercase, too. (I was hoping to make sure my girls’ bottles each had the letters for their names, but my set of letters used to be in my first grade classroom, and quite a few were missing).

Continue alternating the filler and the letters until you have about an inch gap from the top of the filler to the bottom of where the lid sits. A bigger gap seemed to make it easier to shake around. Then put the lid on and see what you think.

I found that about 15 of my larger, magnetic letters filled the bottle without making it too crowded, but it took me several attempts of shaking and taking out letters before I found the right balance.  Smaller alphabet beads or foam stickers will take up much less room, so you might be able to get the whole alphabet in the bottle.

Once you get the filler to letter ratio just right so that your child can easily shake the bottle and uncover a new letter, close the lid tightly.  You can glue the lid down if you think your child might be able to open it. I chose to keep mine unglued so I can change it out in the future with different letters or objects.

Then ask your child to see what letters he or she can find. Show him or her how to turn and shake the bottle to find the hidden letters. You can turn it into a little scavenger hunt by asking your child to find either a specific letter or a letter that is a specific color.

We’ve taken ours in the car and will keep them in the diaper bag for restaurants and other places where a busy activity might come in handy. It’s not completely quiet when you shake and turn it, so beware if you pull it out at church or somewhere quiet.

Happy I Spy-ing!

A Weary Mama’s Prayer

Y’all…

We had one of those days…cutting a two year molar, battling the terrible twos, working on potty training and a to-do list that was just too long to be practical.

It was rough!  Here are my thoughts for tonight to help me keep it all in perspective.  Because in reality, a long day is just a part of a beautiful life that I am thankful to be living.

 

Dear Lord,

You know my heart.  You know my frustrations, and you know the stress I’m feeling today.

*Sigh.*

And Lord, you gave me these babies and knew there was something in me that could handle this.  So whatever that part of me is, please help it to come out of hiding and give me a hand.  Oh, and Lord, thank you for seeing I couldn’t handle triplets!

Give me the wisdom to see the big picture.  Remind me of the parents whose arms are empty tonight, whose hearts are broken and whose lives are empty of sweet little laughs and poopy diapers.  And forgive me for not always remembering how truly, truly blessed I am to have the beautiful family and life that you have given me, tantrums and teething and all.

Help me to find a moment of peace in the chaos to talk to you, to listen to your spirit and to let you refresh and renew me.  And Lord, please, please, please…refresh and renew me as quickly as you can.

And grace.  Lord, let this word sit heavily on my heart.  You have given me immeasurable grace, and I need to return this grace to my family.  Even when the dogs are barking, someone had an accident on the couch, the phone starts ringing and the laundry I folded for the third time is all over the floor, help me to have grace with my babies (and not to curl up in a ball in the corner and cover my ears).

Help me to have a sweet smile for the little one who asked with a “please, mama,” for PBJ number 16 of the day even if I think I might explode on the inside.  And help me not to kick the dog who probably ate all or part of the other 15 PBJs.  Grace, grace, grace, right, Lord?

And when I make too long of a to-do list, forgive me and teach me to let things go.  Dirty dishes and laundry can wait when a little one who is rubbing her eyes and hanging on my leg needs her mama.  Because when kids act the worst is probably when they need me the most, right, Lord?  Remind me a clean house is never more important than loved children.  (But if you have an extra angel who does housework, keep me in mind).

Give me the wisdom to know when to give myself a break and to ask for help.  Teach me to give grace to myself, too.  And for the mamas who can’t take a break today or don’t have someone to call for help, give them an extra measure of your strength and patience; remind me of how fortunate I am to have a support system in place.

And speaking of patience…I need about a thousand times more to get through days like today.  Some laughter might be nice, too.  Lord, help me to find the joy in my home and in my children that will carry me through these challenging days, weeks and years of raising these precious little ones you’ve decided to entrust to me.

Thank you for this beautiful life and my healthy children.  Oh, and for Motrin, Dora and blogging.

In Jesus Name,

Amen.

Five Minute Alphabet Activity for Toddlers

I always love finding a quick and easy learning activity to do with my munchkins.  Maybe it satisfies the teacher part of my brain or gives us something different to mix up our daily routine.  Either way, here is a very quick and easy activity I did with my girls last week. It focuses on capital letter recognition, color recognition and alphabetical order. Kids will be active during the activity, too, so it’s great for a snowy morning when you’re stuck inside. 

All you need is scissors, 13 pages of some kind of colored paper and a marker.

I then cut the pages into half sheets so I’d have 26 half sheets.  I tried to mix the colors in so I’d have a big assortment of colors that my girls would recognize, but you could do this with plain white paper, too.

I sat on the floor with my girls while I wrote a large capital letter on each page.  I talked about the shape and name of each letter while I wrote. (I think my almost two year olds only listened to one letter each before running away with a paper with a letter on it.)

For older kids who know all 26 capital letters, you can do lower case letters only or could write the pair of lower and upper case letters.  

We then laid all of the letters in a long line across the floor in alphabetical order.  I said each letter name when I put it down, and if one was missing, I’d send the munchkins to look for it and help me put it in the right place.

I then showed the girls how to sing the alphabet and hop from one letter to the next as they sang the song. I had them hop behind me, then I carried each child and helped her hop on to the correct letter while we sang the song. They really loved this!

I then had them try.

You can see the letters got a little mixed up and layered, but the girls still had fun. 

I did a littler scavenger hunt for them at the end.  I first asked each one to find me a specific letter. If they didn’t get the correct one, I helped them find the correct one and then pointed out the differences in the two letters so they’d have a little better understanding. We specifically practiced E and F last time.

We also did a color sort at the end, stacking all the blue letters, then the red, etc.  

I made sure to pick up the letters pretty soon after the girls lost interest so I’d have them to use again in the future.  They’ve asked for their alphabet two different days now!  I think I’ve had to replace two or three letters, but it was fast and easy.

Even if your toddlers or older kids only play for a few minutes, at least you didn’t spend much time creating an activity.  And it’s a pretty easy way to help them learn the alphabet song and at least one new letter every time!

The Public Meltdown

It happened. Finally.  And it was worse. than. expected.

Munchkin 1 has this thing about her sleeves being just right.  I’m talking JUST right.  Millimeters matter to my almost two-year-old apparently.

We’ve had many total meltdowns over sleeves at home.  Full blown, tears and snot flowing, kicking, screaming, sleeve pulling meltdowns.  I’ve finally figured out she needs to wear jackets that are a full size larger than what she’s wearing AND to hold down the sleeve of the shirt she’s wearing under the jacket to keep it from bunching up on her arm.

Sadly, her winter coat I was certain would fit again has sleeves that fall into the impending meltdown zone, and mean old mama who made her wear a coat to keep her from losing a limb in the 3 degree weather should have known better.  I somehow got it on her to get in the car and to the gym, but when I tried to put it back on to leave. . .

It was bad.

Awful.

She threw herself onto the floor, pulling off the jacket and screaming. Screaming.  Tears, snot, high pitched wailing.  And the offending jacket was off as fast as I put it on.

The watching kids were actually comic relief.  Several of Munchkin 1’s little friends came over to hug her, and she gave them a scowl and continued on with the tantrum.

At home when the sleeve meltdown hits, I can take a break.  I can make sure we’re not bursting the ear drums of nearby children and adults.  And I can prevent the sweating and anxiety that comes with trying to control a completely irrational and screaming child in front of other people.

The other moms were awesome–most of them have been there and know exactly what it feels like to have a wild banshee on your lap who refuses to listen to reason or logic or disciplinary action.  Even so, it was like spotting your neighbor through the window when you’re dashing from the bathroom in your undies to get clean clothes out of the dryer.  Awkward.  Embarrassing. Like turn-your-cheeks-red-and-hide-in-the-nearest-closet embarrassing.

I always had sympathy for parents who were handling a tantrum in public–no judgment on my part because I get that you can’t control your kids at all times, only your reaction to their behavior.

But it stinks to be in that situation.  Big time.

Finally, after what I’m positive had to be a millennium or longer, I finally got her to agree to wrap up in mom’s jacket and waddle out to the parking lot with the sleeves brushing the snow.  Not like I needed it–sweating bullets and then lugging two toddlers and their gear to the car will keep you toasty even in brutal Colorado cold snaps.

I’m thinking I jinxed it after blogging about tantrums this past week.   Add, “My mom made me wear a coat in 3 degree weather” to the list of why kids throw tantrums!

Maybe it will get easier with each one?  I’d rather not find out!

(Special thanks to my dear friend who had a jacket at home we borrowed until I can go shopping for an extra big one.  She’s a life saver and a fabulous friend who understands life in the deep end!)

What do you do when a tantrum hits in public?  Does it really get better once you survive the first one?