Allergy Free Gingerbread House

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Caleb is SO excited for Christmas. SO EXCITED. All he talks about is Santa, Christmas, Snow, and everything that goes along with it all. Today I thought I’d love to make a Gingerbread House with him. He’s been very into houses (He saw the American Girl’s new doll house and now wants every house he sees), and I figured it would be a good way to combine his interests.

However, I had a list of reasons we couldn’t actually make a gingerbread house today. We don’t have any gingerbread on hand/a kit (nor the money to buy one). Now, we could always make our own… but gosh I hate the feeling of ginger bread dough. I love baking, I love making things from scratch, but I hate the feeling of that dough so much. I just can’t bring myself to make it from scratch anymore. Plus, Caleb and I have both been dealing with a lot of allergies and I didn’t want to jinx our progress by putting some sugar (or corn syrup, aka the thing I think we’ve been reacting to) into our bodies.

So I had to get creative. I looked up and saw a bag hanging from our window. Yeah, I know that’s weird, but it’s up there to be out of reach. The bag contained pompoms, and this idea popped into my head. I grabbed some cardboard and cut out a house pattern. Hot glued it together, and called Caleb in. He was so excited to make a house. I had him pick each pompom and where it would go, then I hot glued it. He asked for a door, and boom we had a “gingerbread” house that he could actually play with.

Once he got it down and was playing with it, he kept saying, “I’m so excited!” It’s been an hour now and he is STILL playing with the house. Nothing better than DIYing a toy your kid really likes/wanted.

Happy Holidays!
You are Loved!

Moonday! (This year in homeschool preschool…)

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Last school year I was a little obsessed with educating my child. I felt like I needed to spend every moment of his life educating him, but not always on the important things. I was working so hard to “make” him learn his letters, colors, etc… Yeah, I was terrible. Totally not age appropriate first of all, and planning things for him to learn truly bored him. He’d be interested in something else, so the things I wanted to teach him… well he couldn’t stay focused, and got very frustrated with me, which makes total sense. This year, I wiped that crazy board clean and decided to 100% follow his lead.

The first thing I decided to do was set up a “classroom” so that he would have a place to go to focus, and we could still do normal preschool activities like go over the calendar, read books, sit for puzzles, and go over our letters and numbers. These aren’t going to be forced things, but they are available, and if he chooses to do them himself, great! He often does. He loves puzzles, he loves matching games, and he is actually really interested in putting letters together and finding different letters out of a set. Part of the problem last year was that our schedule was always set, I would force him through the activities, and we would be in the living room or kitchen which was set up for other things as well. This year he will have a learning sanctuary that is his choice. It’s also a good way to keep all of his craft supplies, sensory buckets, and blocks in one place.

Now the next thing I did was realize that he had to already be interested in what I wanted to teach, so I decided that every Saturday we’d talk about the things he likes. Trees, weather, space, the ocean, firemen… whatever it may be, is what we will focus. Which leads me to…

Moonday! Last week Caleb let me know that he thought the moon was really awesome. I turned that into a whole week of learning about the solar system, but all he really wanted to learn about/play about was the moon and stars, which is completely understandable since he can actually see and somewhat understand them. At the daycare I work at, I did Moonday (Monday) with all of them, and want to share how it went with you all.

We started when I got there learning about gravity and the difference between gravity on Earth and the moon. We did this in a very simple way. I brought a bunch of Styrofoam balls and asked the kids to each grab a regular rock. We talked about how those rocks, Earth rocks, were heavy. Then I explained that on the Moon they would feel more like the Styrofoam balls and be very light. We played “moon rock toss” and tried to get the balls into a bucket.

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Next was snack time! Let me just add, this was delicious, and it’s my new favorite snack… We started with a rice cake base, smeared with cream cheese, layered with banana pennies and some little pieces of kix. One of our kiddos couldn’t have the cheese, so we used sun butter on her’s instead of the cream cheese, but it still looked really great.

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Then, I had each of the kiddos make their own telescope. I had prepped this activity so that the kids would each have a different color telescope, and wouldn’t have to spend the time painting. Instead they just each got a sticker sheet of stars to decorate the way they would like to.

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From there we went over to the rug and had a blast with this sensory bucket I set up for them. First of all, the bucket itself has a spot for each of the kids to set their wrist so they aren’t fighting for a spot or pushing one another, which I thought was great and a super bonus. Then I stuck on some star stickers, poured two bags of black beans in, added some of the white beans, about 15 glow in the dark stars, clear stones (because space is cold and full of ice!), and these awesome astronaut, ufo, spaceships, and jet erasers that I got at the Dollar Tree. Each child was assigned a different thing to find, and then they were able to just explore freely. They were so wonderfully focused on this bucket, it was a great time to call them over one by one for the big craft of the day…

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These were so much fun, and showed the personality of all of the kiddos. Just looking at them the other teacher and I knew exactly who made what. First each kiddo painted the back ground with their chosen combo of blue and purple. One little girl’s favorite color is blue, and only used blue. Caleb loved mixing colors, so used more purple than the others, because he likes swirling the two paints together. Then they each picked a glitter to sprinkle over the paint before it dried. After it all was dry, they got to glue on five of the glow in the dark stars and a cardboard moon however they wanted. I had painted the moons in an attempt to save time. We have such a limited amount of time the kids can stay sitting, that sometimes we just can’t let them do every part of a craft alone, sadly. Lastly I trimmed up to edges, and these lovely crafts were finished!

Along with these activities we used the sunlight to show how the moon rotates to make different phases, goes around the sun, and the size with little models of the Earth and moon I painted. We sang songs, pretended to be astronauts, and learned the sign for moon and stars. It was an excellent day of learning, play, and creativity, and it was all influenced by Caleb’s love for the moon and stars.

Trust your kids. They will learn if we follow their lead. I’m so incredibly sure of that. You can learn the alphabet during fun activities, you can help them learn their name using sensory boards, themed puzzles, and songs… Children learn through play. When you take the play away is when the learning stops. Trust your kids.

You Are Loved!

Quality Screen Time: Is Not Bad, Good Enough?

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Alrighty y’all… I’ve got a confession to make. When I get home from a long day of work, I love to enjoy some television. However, with an almost three year old our viewing pleasure is met with something made for, you guessed it, almost three year olds. Let’s be clear, I do not object to this one bit. As a teenager I would watch these shows while I did homework or crocheted, because it’s a relaxing thing to watch and great background noise for a cool down time. The problem, is I’ve become lax on putting quality of these shows over how much my child enjoys them.

Don’t get me wrong, Caleb hasn’t been watching anything “bad.” Jake and the Neverland Pirates, PJ Masks, and some other “kid” shows… nothing really bad right? Well, sadly he’s picked up some less than desirable behaviors from them. From Jake he’s learned about stabbing people and that it hurts, but still has been stabbing me with things, because that’s what a pirate does. From other shows he’s learning to tease other kids, aka he’s got a serious case of nana nana boo… Now are these things the end of the world? No, not really. But, with so many quality shows out there that teach him to treat his friends kindly and educate him when I’m taking a five second break from doing so, why not just lead him to those shows instead?

Which is what led me to putting a ban on all shows besides Signing Time/The Tree Schoolers, Daniel Tiger, Curious George, and the occasional (because he LOVES it) episode of Paw Patrol. Daniel Tiger shows both him and I how to deal with different emotions and his friends. It gives me songs and saying to help him through big emotions, and because he’s seen how they work in the show, they work in real life too. “Grown Ups Come Back” saved us when he started preschool last year. “When you’re feeling mad, like you want to roar…” saves us on a daily bases when he’s getting frustrated. It might take a few rounds but he settles right down. Signing time has helped him learn all of his letters, 140+ signs, colors, and so much more. Curious George helps children learn to be scientists and question everything around them in order to learn about life. Paw Patrol at the very least teaches new words, teamwork, and how people (or pups) are all different.

Caleb is a big fan of the shows I’m letting him watch, in fact when I put on Tigers last night for the first time in probably six months, he was so beyond excited. He kept cheering and thanking me for Tigers. It was as though he was getting to see a friend. This morning, while we were on the bus to my work/his daycare, I asked what he would like for dinner. He told me he wanted a, “Tiger Cake!” So, that’s what he got tonight (see picture above). I’m happy to see him remembering the things that he learned from this incredible show, and hope to see an improvement in his behavior with a lack of negative role models in his life.

What shows do you like for your littles to watch, and why?

Remember, YOU ARE LOVED!

Expectations Bring Disappointment

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Today Caleb and I had a play group to go to. It’s one we used to go to every other week, but it usually wasn’t at the park with an entire daycare full of kids running around playing. For a split second, my expectation for him was to sit with the group on that parachute you see in the background. What on Earth was I thinking!? My child LOVES other kids, he loves the park, and he’s never been a fan of circle time. That split second was over, and him and I went off to play on the play equipment.

Sitting in the circle he started to cry. I can only imagine what was going through his sweet little head. “Why is mama punishing me? I just want to play!?” “But mama, why can all those other kids play, and I can’t?” “Mom, I just want to go play with these new friends!”

Well of course! How on Earth could I expect my two year old to sit, listen to instructions, and ignore that all the other kids are playing at a place he usually loves. My expectation ruined the fun for him, even if only for a minute. My expectation made me, just for a split second, frustrated that he wouldn’t conform to my will. No way. That’s madness.

This kind of thing happens a lot though. We go to the grocery store, it takes me an hour to shop, and I expect him to sit in the stroller quietly… HAHA! That’s hilarious right? I have to change my expectations and prepare for the realities. I bring snacks and toys, we sing silly songs, I get him involved… BECAUSE HE IS TWO AND THIS IS NORMAL CHILDHOOD BEHAVIOR! We go for a walk longer than five minutes. Do I expect him to hold my hand and comply to where I want to go the whole time at my exact speed? No way! I slow it down, I let him point out all the things around him, and sometimes I even let him walk a few steps ahead of me, because I trust him to not run off, and know I’ll be able to run with him even if he does.

I see parents at restaurants that spend the whole time yelling at their kids for one reason or another… “Well kids never learn if you don’t make them.” But what if what you’re expecting them to learn is just plain unrealistic? Sitting still is not something kids are meant to do till they are seven or older. Kids are meant to run around, stretch, and play! One moment parents are telling their kids to get out and move, the next they expect silence and still bodies. How did we get to these crazy expectations being normal to everyone around? Why is it that if kids don’t comply to these insane ideals they are labeled bad? Labeled as less than the kids who somehow do indeed comply? What a shame that all is…

Just take a deep breath parents. Your kids aren’t bad, they are just kids! Change your expectations and you’ll see that too soon enough.

YOU ARE LOVED

 

Still a Good Mom…

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When I started this blog, I was so sure I’d be a perfect mom. I mean really, the original name of the blog was something like, “Becoming a Young Mom, and How I Did it Right.” Barf! Am I right? It quickly became “How I Did it Peacefully,” because right is a very subjective word, and I mess up all the time. ALL THE TIME. I tried for a long time to still put on a facade. I wanted the world to think I was a super mom. Perfect house, perfect kid, perfect put together life… Well I’m here to tell you, it just isn’t so.

I get angry sometimes. Caleb will be extra clingy for one reason or another, and every hair on my body stands on end. I might even yell. I might even lock myself in the bathroom for five minutes while he cries, because I need five minutes where no one is touching me; poking, prodding, squeezing… But, most of the time I’m not. Most of the time I feel like having this small little boy around me 24/7 is the most awesome blessing that has ever been given to me. Sometimes I’m tired. Sometimes I put the TV on all day long and I just lay on the couch, because the idea of doing a craft or having a conversation exhausts me past my breaking point. TV all day or a mean mom? I’ll go for the TV every time. But, most of the time I’m so happy to take Caleb to the park, play dates, do the newest cool kid craft, or play make believe. Most of the time I don’t ever want him to leave my side.

This is one of the hardest things in the world for me to admit. 99% of the time I honestly don’t feel like I need a break. 99% of the time I really think I’m doing okay. Then that 1% where my nerves are just fried, I wish someone, well someone like his Mimi because I’m neurotic and really don’t trust many people with him, would come get him just for a night. He’s spent maybe five nights away from me since he was born. Maybe ten times he’s gone with her for a day. That 1% of me isn’t a regular thing, and yet I still feel so much guilt about it… but why?

Don’t even get me started on the house. This week we had kind of an inspection. Not on our house from our landlord, but he’s trying to sell the house so the state inspection people had to come and measure stuff. I took three days cleaning the house. Twenty loads of laundry, seven loads of dishes, a full bottle of Windex, and an emptying of the vacuum five times later, our home was presentable. While I was putting away the clothes I ask Corey in exasperation, “How is it that I did all of these things AND went to school when I was younger?” He looked at me and laughed then responded, “You didn’t have Caleb.” I mean, I get the kitchen clean, and every toy is pulled out in the living room. I fold the clothes, turn my back, and the pile has become something to play in. I’m honestly not even mad, in fact I’ve accepted it, but when my house is a disaster (think dishes from a week ago and mysterious sticky spot on the kitchen floor), I’ve been home all day, and I’m still exhausted at the end of the night I do feel really guilty… but why?

This morning I woke up and my house was essentially still clean. The living room has some toys on it. I asked myself if I wanted to pick them up and decided to sit down and watch a movie while Caleb was still sleeping instead. I started to think about all of the things I’m doing wrong. I though about how I lose my patience, or I don’t always make the healthiest foods, or how when his doctor asked us how much milk he drinks, I had no freaking clue. But, I looked around at the fun art on the walls. I looked at the pictures of us together. I looked at his toys and thought about how much I love watching his imagination at work. I walked in and watched him sleeping next to his daddy. He is strong, healthy, and loved. He doesn’t go without. He has at least one close friend, and he has all the family he’ll ever need. He isn’t afraid when I life my hand that he’ll be hit, because we never hit him. He doesn’t have to worry about eating quickly or hoarding food, because we never let him go without. His body is respected. I do everything in my power to raise him peacefully. 99% of the time I succeed, so why do I fixate on that 1%?

… I’m still a good mom.

YOU ARE LOVED

How’s that Journey to Health Going?

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Well, I’ve been on plan for 4.5 months now. The amount of joy and love I feel because of this incredible lifestyle is impossible to describe in words. My mood has completely been rebuilt. I was so full of depression and anxiety. I’m still struggling to balance, but I feel like I have some actual control, and have only had two panic attacks since getting 100% on plan compared to the minimum of one a week I had before. My family life has changed as well. My son, who I was worried about being too thin, has gained and looks so much healthier. My other half has lost weight as well, which is helping his self confidence, though he doesn’t like to admit that he ever needed to lose some weight.

This plan has brought me closer to God in my search for myself. I’ve learned to pray when I feel weak. I’ve learned to not put others before him, my other half, or my family. I am still struggling, but progress is being made every day.

My pain, which I certainly didn’t want to admit was from my weight, is so reduced that I can walk ten miles a day easily without feeling like I’m going to collapse. My stomach, which was torn apart in the worst way, now treats me well because this plan helped me figure out the foods I was sensitive to (corn being number one, and corn syrup being removed is a real blessing).

And… frankly, the results make me unable to stop smiling. I’m just humbled by the difference. I had to change my shorts before taking these pictures, because my size 18/20 shorts were falling off and not allowing these pictures to properly represent my difference. I started this plan at the beginning of March at a size 4x and 297lbs. Today I woke up at 244lbs, and my clothes are all too big so I’d say between a Large and 1x. It absolutely blows my mind. I used to never wear shorts, but I live in them now. I’m so much more comfortable in my body…

I’m so grateful for the people I have pushing me to become the best me I can be. I would like to share some links with you all including a link to a beachbody coach that has been helping me where it comes to exercise and my youtube and instagram link.

Ariel’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thefitveganmom/
Ariel is a mom of five, a dedicated unschooler, and one of my biggest supporters on this journey to health I’ve embarked on.

My Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mommisami/
I don’t have a ton on there yet, but I will be posting more and more.

My YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/SamiJordynn
I have a little bit of everything posted here. Health stuff, music stuff, parenting stuff… Please subscribe!

YOU ARE LOVED!

 

Weaning Remorse for the Both of Us

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About four months ago, this sweet boy suddenly decided to wean. I didn’t really know how to feel about it, but I also dried up quickly without pain. I was sad, for rather selfish reasons. I had always expected to nurse much longer, and felt like somehow I had failed him by allowing him to wean. Yes, I know it makes no sense. I don’t know how to deal with it really though, and can’t help those feelings. Moving on…

For two months, he didn’t want to nurse at all. Snuggles would totally suffice when he needed some extra love or comfort, and he was able to go right to sleep at night without nursing and stay asleep. There seemed to be no problem; no real affect on either of us. Until of course there was.

All of a sudden, two months ago, he’d go for sips. He’d just want to love the boobie. Kiss it, squeeze it, or use it as a pillow were some of his lovey ways. Then he started really trying to nurse, and his poor heart would break every time. He was very frustrated that there was no more milk, and would still try. This would hurt my boobs, but he’d be hysterical if I didn’t at least let him try. I instantly regretted not doing more to keep my milk. I could have pumped and given it to him in a cup! I could have pumped and donated it until he wanted it. I didn’t do either, and gosh I’m full of regret now.

Our solution, that he decided on and that I’m not overly pleased by, is to use a bottle once a day to have his cup of milk before nap time. The nipple of the bottle soothes him, and he will snuggle with us drinking him “milkies” until he falls asleep.

It’s really not the same though. I miss our connection through nursing. In the past I could scoop up my crying little love, give him the gift only I could, and he’d be soothed. Now when he’s upset it takes so much more, which is okay, but I feel like I let him down. I know, I know, I’m doing what I can… but…

Thanks for listening to me internet. Sometimes I just have to let my mommy fails/regrets/sadness out.

YOU ARE LOVED!

Sami, What Do You Think About Addicts?

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Good question internet people. Good question indeed. First, let me ask you something: when you think of an addict do you think of loving, hard working, strong women like my mothers pictured above? Probably not. Do you think of people who get up and go to work every day as a managerial team? Do you think of people who would give the shirt off their backs to anyone they met? Probably not, because society presents an addict as someone who lives for nothing besides the next high, someone lazy who uses those around them, and someone who deserves to die. I have a serious issue with that.

My city is currently plagued with heroin use. In the last seventy two hours, TWELVE people have overdosed, with one dead, and another on life support. The girl on life support is only eighteen years old. The people in my community have been very vocal about what they are feeling towards the dealer(s), users, and anyone else involved. For the most part there is an outcry to send people after the dealer. Totally, get that person off the street. On the other side of things, the thing that is breaking my heart, there are people shouting their hatred for the addicts. Now, I get it. Don’t get me wrong, I was angry for a long time even at my parents. How could they chose drugs? How could they become so sick that they’d have to die to stop the addiction? Well… there is no easy answer. These people spilling anger out into the public, have every right to feel anger. These are people afraid for those around them, afraid for their parents, children, friends… these are people who have no idea how to help those around them, and are putting up a wall to keep themselves safe. I have the utmost respect for their feelings, but I can’t help but feel serious sympathy for the addicts and their families who are being forced to see the hatred directed at their loved ones who are on the brink of death, or already dead.

Drugs change your brain chemistry. One taste of a serious chemical can hook you. It’s not always as easy as just stopping. Most addicts don’t even recognize their own addiction until it’s too late. “I feel great!” “I just need a little extra energy today!” “Just one more time!” That’s not the person talking, that’s the drugs, and it’s a tragedy. If these addicts don’t know they need help, or can’t admit it, they won’t be able to receive help, and that’s another tragedy. You might ask, “Okay Sami, but they still decided to try drugs in the first place. It’s their own fault right?” Yeah, I struggled with that question the longest. My first instinct was always to agree, and it fueled a lot of anger for me, but then I asked myself… what led up to making that decision? Was it ignorance? “I’ll just try it this once with my friends. I’m sure once won’t hurt.” Was it depression? “I just want this pain to go away, my life is truly that miserable, maybe this will help.” Was it a cry for help? Was it an accident? Oh what, it can’t be an accident, it’s always a choice! Well…

My mothers both had serious medical conditions. They were PRESCRIBED the drugs they were addicted to. Then, they were prescribed more drugs be a certain doctor that I’d like to have fired. Then, those drugs called to them. It made their pain, mental and physical, go away. It helped take away their sense of responsibility. It made them feel good. Addiction took a bite out of them like a literal monster and didn’t let go until the day(s) that they died. Do I WISH they had enough control to stop? That they could have resisted their impulses to pop another pill? Of course I do… But, I don’t know that they could have.

So here’s something that might shock some of you… I, too, am an addict. Let me explain for a minute before you judge the heck out of me. After my C-section they gave me percocet. Within a week I was mostly healed, I didn’t need the pills, and I gave them up, because at the time I was a happy new mom who could totally get through the little bit of pain to be the best mom I could be for my son. Well, a year later my back started killing me. Someone close offered me percocet, and I took them. And took them. And kept taking them. I’d take them at night, and the thoughts in my head wouldn’t go around in circles any more. I could relax and fall asleep. I’d take them in the morning, and everyone around me was a little bit less scary. My anxiety would go away… One night, after an especially stressful day, I thought to myself, “Damn, I really need another pill.” And that’s the same night I flushed what I had left, because I realized I had become an addict and needed to stop. I didn’t WANT to be an addict, I didn’t want to abuse pills, and I didn’t think I’d ever get to that point. I naturally have an addictive and obsessive personality. I can’t drink or take pain pills without forming an addiction. That experience gave me a new perspective to look at other addicts through. If I, someone fiercely opposed to using drugs, can become an addict, literally anyone can.

So, to be honest, I don’t have any real answers for you today. I asked more than I answered in fact. I ask you to take a step back before you point the blame and hate at people with an addiction. Think about their family witnessing your words. Think about the hurt they are already feeling. Think about the pain that’s already in the world… instead, spread some love.

 

YOU ARE LOVED.

Love: It’s Really That Simple

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With the first anniversary of #LoveWins upon us, I’ve been having a lot of emotions pop up. Apparently I still have a lot of anger towards the people in this world who oppose same sex marriage. I mean, I really can’t wrap my head around it. Can you believe there are people out there that would rather a child be left in foster care than have two moms? Or that they actually believe that some random relative the person has never met should have say over their medical care and that their long time partner shouldn’t?

I’m so proud to call these two women above my mothers. They showed me love, compassion, how to treat my child, trust, and most of all acceptance. They showed me that being honest is a gift. They showed me that love is the most important thing in this world. They showed those around them what hard work looked like. I posted this picture on my facebook today, and the comments make me cry. The love that others felt for them, how grateful they were to know my moms, all the gifts my parents gave them… wow!

Here’s the kicker for me today though. Caleb and I were looking through some pictures of my moms, and we come to the one posted above. Caleb points to the heart and says, and this is a direct quote, “They’re in love. That’s my grandmas.” Queue my heart shattering into a thousand pieces. He’ll never get to meet them. He’ll never get to hold their hands, snuggle them to sleep, or learn from them like I was able to, and that breaks my heart. It destroys me at my core. Yet, despite that, his statement is profound and powerful. This little almost three year old child gets what far too many adults don’t. Love is love. Love is everything. Love is the ONLY thing that matters.

Today, I challenge each and every one of you to show a little love for those around you. Bonus points if you show love for the LGBTQA+ community. There is enough hurt in the world. Today, let’s aim for love.

 

You ARE Loved!

I Help?

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I stand at the sink washing the hundredth dish of the night, when this sweet boy comes in. “What you do mama?” he asks me. “I’m cleaning up baby,” I tell him. He walks around for a few minutes, comes and watches me wash a few dishes, and then he takes a few steps back. He asks me, “I help?”

Way to melt a mama’s heart. I told him that he could pick things up from the floor and put them in the trash if he wanted. He did just that, and he did it happily. I thanked him for helping me clean our home. We finished up our work together, and went into the living room to snuggle a while.

I’ve never made him clean up. I will almost always ask him to pick up his toys, and often he will, but if he doesn’t I do it for him. Usually if he sees me cleaning up his toys, he comes to help me. When I do my own household duties, I try my best to do them cheerfully, because I have little eyes watching. He sees me happy to do these things, willing to do all of these jobs to help our home, and he picks up on it. He will now happily help without asking, because we always made it just another part of the day for our family instead of a chore, a pain in the butt, that just had to get done, because I said so.

Our family works together to make a home, and he is part of this wonderful home. And… I am so grateful.

You Are Loved!