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

 

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!

Love Shouldn’t Have to be Won

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In 2009 my mothers passed away. On June 26, 2015 gay marriage was legalized, forever too late. From the time I was four, when my biological mother and father got a divorce and my mum started dating another woman, I knew three things: some people hated lesbians, my moms couldn’t get married, and this woman was my other mother.

Somehow, I never questioned their love, or how my mother could love another woman. Even at four years of age, I grasped that love was love. The important thing was that I had a parent who cared for me, taught me things my biological parents couldn’t, and accepted me as her own. I remember once, when I was in Kindergarten, that an older girl on the playground once told me my parents were disgusting because they were lesbians. I went home and asked my moms what she had meant. I didn’t understand how two people in love, who loved me, could ever be disgusting or wrong.

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For a heterosexual couple in 1999, dating and getting married was just what happened. No one questioned it, and no one thought of it as wrong. That marriage allotted them privileges that weren’t available to homosexual couples. Unlike a stepfather, my other mother couldn’t adopt me. She had no legal right to me. My mothers couldn’t get married and my biological mum couldn’t take my other mom’s last name, nor could I. My mum had many health problems and Ramona, my other mother, didn’t have the ability to walk in and say, “I’m her spouse, I have a right to see her, and I can make the decisions for her care.” No heterosexual couple goes through these problems. These basic rights -things that should be based on true love instead of religion and politics- were kept from my mothers, and the results were devastating for our family.

At the time, Vermont had already legalized gay marriage. Both of my moms loved visiting Vermont, often doing so while I was at visitations with my father, and desired to move there. Legally, because of me, they weren’t able to. My father had partial custody of me, and the law said I couldn’t be moved that far away. Despite how much my other mother loved me, not being able to move and live her life happily caused resentment for me to grow inside of her. I found this out slowly, but surely.

I’ve been asked how I can still love, forgive, and think so highly of them despite knowing how they resented me. I never felt the need to ask myself this question, but now that I’ve found love I have an answer. The first few years that I was dating my fiance we were unable to see each other regularly. We were kids, but our love was and seven years later still is strong.The fact that I had to get up each morning knowing that I wouldn’t be able to see him, touch him, or publicly show my deep love for him hurt, yet I knew that one day I would be able to marry, move in with, and create a child with him without any law or prejudice stopping me. If that pain didn’t have the light to keep us going, and if everyone around me had no problem receiving those things while I didn’t, I don’t know what I would have done, but I do know that I’d be miserable and no where near as kind to the people around me. My mothers felt that pain constantly for ten years. For seven of those years, I had no idea.

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With all the issues they faced, both of my moms became very depressed. Our family physician at the time prescribed them both high doses of antidepressants. Unfortunately, these drugs didn’t mix well with the medication each of them were on; my other mother was on medication for epilepsy and my mum was on pain and anti-anxiety medications. The toxic mix of high potency drugs led to a dependency when I was in the sixth grade and only eleven years old. As they became more addicted, with me around during their stupors, I learned of their inner pain and resentment towards me. It was a rough time for all of us. My other mother’s parents were very homophobic and had made her feel crazy as a youth, going so far as to institutionalize her during her senior year of high school in an attempt to “make her straight.” With that, the inability to marry her true love, and the hatred our society showered her with led to an overdose and the end of her life.  Two months and two days later my mum, in a rehabilitation center, also passed. Our family truly believes that once her love died she just gave up to move on to the afterlife with her. How did we get to the point where dying is preferable to living?

We have made progress. Through rallies, education, celebrities using their privilege to speak out, and by electing a supportive president we have gotten this country on the right track. We aren’t, however, finished. Forty percent of homeless youth are part of the LGBT community. Thirty-three percent of LGBT students attempt suicide. These numbers are so high, and that’s because we are not yet part of a society that wholeheartedly accepts who people love. The day after gay marriage was legalized, my other mother’s mom posted on her facebook wall a message protesting it. Even after her own daughter died because of that hate, she still posted such an ignorant and disrespectful thing. There is more we need to do to turn this world into a place where love is understood. You can tell me that we’ll never get there, that people are entitled to their religious beliefs, and that hate will always exist. I disagree. No one is entitled to hate, or bully, another human being because of what they may or may not believe.

So, as happy and grateful as I am for gay marriage now being legal nationwide, and the shift society has taken towards less hate and more acceptance, I am angry. I’m angry that because of prejudice, because someone at some point decided they could tell us all what love was, and that love between the same sex was wrong, my parents had to leave me so soon. I’m angry that they didn’t have the chance to give me the love they wanted to, because in the back of their mind there was always that resentment. I’m angry that my son won’t be able to meet his grandmothers. I’m angry they never saw me graduate, won’t be able to dance with me at my wedding, and I’ll never be able to go to theirs. I’m angry that if only love had won sooner, or rightfully didn’t need to be won in the first place, my mothers would be here today, legally married, with the rights of every heterosexual couple, and finally happy. Love shouldn’t have to be won.

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Free Clothes!!

I can not contain my excitement over this! My friend shared it with me, and now I’m sharing it with all of you. I got seven incredibly nice things for Caleb, as well as n not pictured dress for me, for 55 CENTS. Now, you can do the same for your family!

This company, Schoola, aims to be the new Goodwill. 40% of all sales go directly to schools, and the prices are so low for name brand stuff, that it’s really hard to resist. To start, you can get $40 worth of stuff (that’s off of their prices, it’s really closer to $100 worth of stuff) free.

Here’s The Link! Enjoy Schoola!!

1. All you need to do is sign up, you’ll get $10.00 towards your order, which you’ll automatically get once you check out!
2. After joining you can make a new collection under the collection tab, and as long as you add clothes without the yellow tab you’re good!
3. You’ll need to spend so much in order to get free shipping, but if you check your email you’ll also get an extra 25% off, and clicking my link will get you and me an extra $20!
(plus shipping is free right now 1/26/16)
4. After placing your first order, you’ll be directed to your OWN page with your OWN LINK, so you as well can share this opportunity to receive $20 in credit!
5. Enjoy your new clothes!!

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Best Apple Oatmeal Muffins Ever!

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These were a serious treat. I knew I wanted to make apple muffins, and I knew I didn’t want to use a recipe, but instead create my own. What came next makes my taste buds sing! The beauty of these muffins is they are great for snack time, breakfast, or just something to bring along in your purse for when you’re out and about. I so hope you all try these, and let me know what you think.

One more thing before I get to the recipe… I my six year old niece and two year old son helping with every step of this. I used a chopper for the apples where you push down a piece on top of it, and it chops everything. Both kiddos got to do that. They both got to stir both the apples and the batter. We used this as a chance for a math lesson, using only a 1/4 measuring cup and adding fractions to make half or whole cups. Kids in the kitchen are awesome! Alright, to the recipe…

First thing you’re going to want to do is preheat the oven to 350 degrees, prepare for 24 small or 12 large muffins by spraying the pan or using liners. I did 12 small in liners, and six large heart muffins. They all cooked at the same time, and all came out great.

Next, gather all of your ingredients:

a fry-pan to cook the apples

3 chopped (1/4 inch pieces) apples

spray olive oil (1/2 tsp)

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk

2 1/4 cup oatmeal (I used quick cooking)

1/2 cup flour

1 cup sugar (remember this is being divided into 24 muffins!)

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

Let’s start with the apples, the real star of this dish. Spray your fry-pan, or add the olive oil, then add in the apples and brown sugar. Mix well for about five minutes over medium high heat. Put a cover on it, and let simmer while you mix the rest of the batter. This will make the apples nice and soft, and the muffins won’t get to moist when the apples cook in the oven. This is the most important step when baking with apples.

While that simmers, add the milk and eggs to a bowl and give it a good whisk. Once you’re finished, toss the whisk in the sink and grab a spatula. Add all of the dry ingredients to the bowl, and fold the wet ingredients in. DO NOT OVER MIX.

Now, to finish off this great batter, shut off the stove, and poor all of the apples AND liquid from the pan into the batter. That’s all apple juice, and it’s the main wet ingredient for these muffins. Fold these apples in gently.

Scoop your batter into the muffin tins, then put into the oven for 22 minutes.

Now here’s a couple of tips: use an ice cream scoop to get the perfect serving of mix into each muffin cup. One scoop for small, two for large, half for mini. Before you put the tins into the oven, bang them a little bit onto the counter. This gets any air bubbles out, and helps the muffins cook thoroughly.

Enjoy!

 

Loving Hand-Print Crafts

This weekend was really peaceful for my little family. We all had it off of work and school, so it was the perfect time to work on some crafts and cooking! I shared my heart shaped banana, peanut butter, and oatmeal muffins last night, and was inspired to do some loving crafts as well.

The first was the hand-print tree with heart leaves coming off of it. How cute is that? Very simple too. I just traced Caleb’s hand and arm, cut it out and taped it into place. Then I cut out a bunch of different sized hearts, and Caleb helped me put them into place. I was quite impressed with his choices, and only guided him if there were too many overlapping. Then I cut a piece of green paper to look like grass, and fanned it out to make it 3-D. Lastly, I pinned it up onto our butterfly wall, and it looks completely adorable.

The next project was the hand upon hand project (picture three). Super simple, but I love the way it over laps. Blue for Corey, Purple for me, and Orange for Caleb. This one, believe it or not, was the biggest pain because Corey’s hand is so big! I had to trace it three times because it kept fitting weirdly. Eventually we fixed it up to fit on the background with ours. Imagine having it with a teen, elementary aged kiddo, toddler, and new born… Someday my friends! That would be so cute though.

Lastly was the middle project; family hands making hearts. I loved this idea! All you need to do is fold a piece of paper, then trace the hand you want to use with the thumb and pointer touching the crease. As long as you don’t cut the crease in those two places, when you unfold, you’ll have a cute heart! I taped ours together and pinned it above a painting of a heart I did many years ago. It’s a good addition to our living room I think.

Valentines day is coming up soon, and these would be some fun crafts for any age. Caleb prefers stamping his hands compared to having them traced, but he loves picking colors and placing items. I’m a big fan of tape, because you can move things around if it’s not “just right.” I hope y’all enjoy these, and if you try them out, please share them with me!

Paw Patrol!

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Not the best pictures ever, but these are the best I have right now… and I still love them!

Remember when Caleb was obsessed with Mickey Mouse? Well, that obsession hasn’t ended, but he has a new obsession along with it… and that’s Paw Patrol! Constantly my sweet boy is asking to watch “puppies!”

It all started after a doctor’s appointment. His doctor’s office has a toy machine, and he selected a little puppy toy. He brought that thing with him everywhere for a while, and would talk about puppies randomly through out the day. I remembered hearing about this Paw Patrol show, so I pulled up a clip on YouTube, and it was love at first sight for my sweet boy.

Ever since I’ve been trying to get him more Paw Patrol themed things, because it makes him so happy and joyful. His honest appreciation each time he receives something new is beyond sweet.

On Black Friday Corey found these pajamas at Walmart for cheap, and it was the first Paw Patrol gift Caleb received. Now this child of mine is a total mini me when it comes to clothes. He hates wearing them! If he had the choice, he’d be naked all the time. These pjs on the other hand… he’d prefer to never take them off!

Then for Christmas we were able to get him the stuffy Chase after finding an amazing deal on it. Chase now goes EVERYWHERE with him: school, bed, errands, etc… He also got a little Marshal in his firetruck toy from a wonderful friend of mine. It’s one of his favorite things ever. He also got five episodes of the show off of Amazon, so he could finally watch the actual show instead of just snippets.

Recently someone gifted me a Walmart gift card to buy clothes. After shopping through the website I did find a few things, and ordered them, but I had another $20 left and wanted to spend it on my little love. I ended up ordering him a backpack, sippy cups, and a shirt! The cups came first, and he was so excited. Now everything he wants to drink MUST be in the cup or he won’t drink it. Today the back pack came. I showed it to him, and he was just in awe. He kept running his fingers over the characters and smiling. He really needed a new bag for school, he has been using my diaper bag, so this couldn’t be more perfect. I am excited for the shirt to come next week. It has all of the pups on it, and he’ll really love it I’m sure.

I just love seeing him happy. He doesn’t get a lot of new things, but I really try to get things he’s going to care about and use. I could go to the dollar store and get him new cups or a back pack… but I’d rather spend a little more to get him something that will make his heart explode with happiness and thankfulness. It’s such a beautiful vision for me. I just had to share, because I can’t stop smiling at him hugging his back pack.

Alrighty, Back Carry It Is!

I so wish I had a picture for you all, because it was truly adorable. Very soon I’ll have a phone again, and pictures will be attached to all of my posts. For now I hope I can paint the picture for you instead.

I live in Maine, and as I’m sure all of my state side readers know, Maine is cold. VERY cold. The big problem for me is that I don’t drive… Currently we walk or bus everywhere we need to go. That means that I have to walk Caleb to his preschool each day before going to mine. Trying to push a stroller through snow is a very illogical thing to do. Yesterday, I did it anyway. It took me an extra fifteen minutes to get him to school.

Sadly the time part isn’t the worst part. Caleb will not wear gloves or mittens. He’ll either rip them off, or sob and scream till they are removed. It’s way too cold to be out without gloves, but there really was no other choice. It’s too cold in general really. We’d get to his school, or home, and his hands would be pink. We always offer gloves, and on especially cold days I’d fold down his sleeves and put gloves over them so he couldn’t get them off. It broke my heart to hear him scream, but I couldn’t figure out what else I could do.

Today, I decided enough was enough. I’ve been avoiding using our Ergo because I usually have a lot of things to bring with us. We both have full school bags, and it’s much easier to just toss them under the stroller. Since I didn’t have class today, I just tutor on Fridays, I decided to try the Ergo. I woke him up, got him dressed, and tossed him up in the carrier.

Right away there was a big smile across his face. He loved being so close and snugly when he first woke up. The best part for him was that he was warm! His hands were tucked inside of my jacket, which was wrapped around us both, and his hood was much easier to keep on with him face to face with me rather than in the stroller. It wonderfully also saved us a ton of time. I was able to walk at a normal pace, and the snow was no problem for us.

The only problem was the pain. Last year I really hurt my back. It felt like I’d crushed it. I went to the chiropractor a few months ago, and I’ve been feeling better, but not my best. This morning, carrying my just about thirty pound child on my front, all of that pain came back temporarily. I was dying to get him off of me, and dreading the walk home. It’s not long, just a fifteen minute walk, but I was really worried that the pain would last.

After tutoring I picked him up and decided to try my second ever back carry. The last time I tried it, nearly a year ago, I spent the whole time panicking that he’d fall out. This time, I had his teacher look us over once I’d gotten him all snuggled in, and it felt a whole lot better. We started our walk home, and I couldn’t believe how comfortable it really was. No pain, barely any pressure, just a snugly baby on my back.

Within minutes, he was passed out for a wonderful nap. Usually if he falls asleep in the stroller, when we get home and I try to move him he will wake up and be miserable all night. With the carrier I just sat on the couch, unlatched it, and gently laid him down. Such a simple transfer, and he got a great nap in! I really love this boy. I’m so thankful for our Ergo. It was an incredible investment.

Family. Important.

I’ve mentioned my love of sign language before. I want to share something I really love from the language. The signs for “family” and “important” are very similar. The hand shape is the same, and the movement only a little bit different. Some would say it’s coincidence, but I feel like it says a lot. Family IS important.

To me, family is a choice. I have very few blood relatives that I consider “family” despite our connection. On the other side, I have many people in my life, that I would gladly call family. I’d say the definition of family is: Someone who cares for, doesn’t give up on, and supports you even when you make mistakes.

Corey and I loved living in Virginia. It was beautiful, cheap, and the atmosphere made us happier people in general. When I got pregnant, we made the choice to move back to Maine to be around my aunt. I wanted more than anything for Caleb to know his family, and know that he had these people he could rely on. I am a very blessed person. Even after everything I put my aunt through, she still cares for me so deeply, and I don’t know how I could ever repay her for that. We’d love to go back to Virginia, but we love her more.