Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Animal Scavenger Hunt at the Cape May Zoo (with a free printable checklist)

Ya know, a lot more has been going on here than I've been letting on. There's been beach trips, roller coasters, fruit picking library story times, tons of pool days, and the list could go on. Since Andrew only had two days of summer vacation before summer-school began (boo!!!), I've been going it alone for most of our days. Sometimes with the three kids its hard to manage all of them plus a camera!

I've found that taking an extra five minutes to think out my plan of attack for outings is really helpful. For example: grabbing big thermos of water before leaving the house, packing a lunch so we don't have to stop or come home while we're out, or- in the case of the zoo yesterday- planning a little scavenger hunt. I printed off a few copies (the printable version is at the bottom of the post) and brought some crayons so Isaiah and Zion could check off the animals as we saw them. Being three and four year olds, they were completely excited to be on the hunt for the animals on our checklist and their behavior was about 20 times better than it has been on our previous trips to the zoo. A couple of the parents who saw my kids doing their checklists asked me where I got them and if I had anymore, so I figured I would write a post about it! We'll definitely be bringing our scavenger hunt each time we go to the zoo.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Why We Love Our Dad (by Isaiah, Zion and Evie)

Why we love our Dad
typed by Mommy; thought up by Isaiah (4) & Zion (3), with smiley nods from Evie (1).

Because he's always nice to me.

Because he snuggles me.

Because him got's hair all over him.

Because he comes to get me when I cry at the night time.

Because he's strong and has big muscles.

Because he loves my Mommy so much.

Because he loves me so much.

Because he's always there when I wake up.

Because he does special stuff with me.

Because he wrestles with me.

Me like my Daddy so much...

I'd say that's a pretty exhaustive list. So without further adieu- we love you Daddy!
Happy Father's Day!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

When Breakfast Becomes Art Class

Don't you love when things like that happen? A beautiful breakfast of berries became a work of art as we all made our own designs out of our food. I'm always a fan of playing with your food- as long as you intend to eat it when you're done. I even got a few minutes to drink my coffee and didn't hear any arguing!

Some questions to ask as you create:
How many blueberries did you use to make that smile?
Which fruit is yellow?
How many petals does the flower have?
Which are bigger: raspberries or cherries?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Forest Fairy Wings

We wake up in the morning and think... What will we do today?!
I took a poll. Should we make something? Bake something? Clean something? (HA!)
Zion proudly exclaimed "I want to make fairy wings!"
So, of course, that's just what we did.
The kids like when I give them instructions but withhold the next part of my *exciting* project until after they complete the previous step. Here are the instructions they got:

1. Go in the woods out back and and hunt for some BIG leaves.

2. Great! Now lets find a cardboard box and cut it in the shape of wings.

3. Lookin' good! We need some glue and then starting at the bottom place the leaves on the cardboard. It should kind of look like feathers.

4. Go ahead and play forest fairy princess for the rest of the day. 
(and she did, too, until her wings began looking a little worse for the wear!)

Check out the inspiration behind our wings, and more ideas here!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

How to be a stay at home parent and NOT go crazy.

If you just had a baby, you're thinking about having a baby, or you're currently working but are thinking about staying home with your babies- this post is for you. Maybe you're terrified that you'll be bored out of your mind or drained or chained to your house- this will possibly give you hope that there's no reason being a stay at home parent has to be like that at all.

First off, let me say I recognize the gift that it is to be home with my children for the time being. Yes I'm the super-entrepreneur type and YES believe me when I say I have dreams and goals for the future- but I also recognize how precious this time is that I get with our kids at home. Since we spaced our babies so close together, everything is sort of going to happen at once. As soon as one kid reaches a milestone- forget it!- the next one is right behind. In a way its like triplets (cue the Moms of triplets who would vehemently disagree with that statement). For now there's just LOTS to do at home, daycare would be LOTS of money, and the result is that it's the smartest, wisest and best thing for our family if I'm at home right now. After Isaiah was born I got stuck in a rut and felt so trapped. It was a huge adjustment. Over time I've figured out not just how to survive- but to thrive as a stay at home parent. Oh and despite my fears- I love being here. My days are full, very rarely boring, and usually productive. Here's how I make sure things go that way:

1. Start the day with a positive attitude.
When I wake up I try to kick start my day with a large amount of coffee and the things I want to do the least- change everyone's diaper, make breakfast, put the kids clothes on, throw in a load of laundry, and unload the dishwasher. Once I get all of the mundane (daily chores are not my strong suit) out of the way, I spend some time centering my heart and mind on truth. I have a list of truths that I read daily to get my mind on track. Here are a few on my list:

You are the wife and mother your family needs; no other woman would do better than you can for your family. 
You are beautiful. You are strong. You are capable.

You are loving. 
You are life-giving. 
You are loved.
 (from Lysa TerKeurst)

I can't afford to have a single thought in my head that God doesn't think about me. (Bill Johnson) 
What is inside of you will be what is displayed for those who are watching your life to see. 
(think your kids, your spouse, friends, strangers...)

Maybe this is the true secret to being fulfilled and content - living in the moment with God, defined by His truth, with no unrealistic expectations for others or things to fill me up. Not reaching back for what was lost in my yesterdays. And not reaching for what I hope will be in my tomorrow. But living fully with what is right in front of me. And truly seeing the gift of this moment. -Lysa TerKeurst

2. Get dressed.
This is a big one and yes there are days where I don't pull myself together until three pm, but to be very honest those days are rarely productive. I'm not saying this is essential, but it's essential for me.  I've gone through times since becoming a Mom where I'm not as good about getting myself ready in the morning, then other times where I'm really on top of it. Generally I have noticed the pattern that I'm happier and my family is taken care of better when I take care of myself, inside and out. You're worth spending $20 on your monthly manicure. 

3. Make sure you have friends. 
I know this seems obvious, but I really believe its one of the most neglected aspects of motherhood. People are surprised to hear how much I leave the house by myself. Even some of my friends wonder "...How?!" For me getting away and spending time with friends is essential if I don't to be depressed and lonely- that's the honest truth! I know that about myself.  If you suspect it might be the same for you, then get that once a week (at least) get some social time in. It can be hard but if you make habits early on in your life as a parent I think it's easier. 
Andrew and I know that each of us need individual time away. He needs alone time to play his guitar, read, or even just sit and watch sports. I need social time with my friends because I'm the "extrovert" out of the two of us. I spend time keeping in touch with my 'people' DAILY, talking on the phone, text messaging, emailing, and having visits. I know that the investment I have made in other women has created a network of mutual support for the kids and I throughout our days. So maybe say YES to that next invitation to go out for coffee or drinks one evening! It will probably refresh you and give you some much needed perspective.

4. Don't stay home all the time- At least one outing per day!
I've written on this topic before (click here) but want to mention it again because it is a huge part of my life. Getting out of the house can be really hard with small kids, but its something I've learned I just need to do. Like exercise- the motivation isn't always there but if its just 'what you do,' it makes it easier. I try to leave the house at least once each day. Yes you might have to move more slowly, but you can do pretty much anything with kids in tow. I grocery shop, take them to the library story time, go to the zoo, the beach, the city, etc. 
I can remember when I first had Isaiah I was so paranoid of germs, driving him in the car, or even walking around Target in case he got fussy. By the time my third baby was born I had all three out walking through Philadelphia on a rainy day with a newborn strapped to my chest in her sling. When she got hungry I stood in a public bathroom and nursed her while the kids huddled around and played in the sink. We all survived and had a great time! With that being said, adventures are waiting! Being spontaneous keeps me from thinking every day will be the same. Maybe it will for you, too.

5. Don't forget who YOU are.
This one is huge. Yes, right now you ARE a parent. But lets not forget- that's not all of WHO we are, even though it can feel all-consuming at times. Remember your dreams, goals, and other relationships. If you're married- you're a husband or wife. You're a friend to someone. A son or daughter. An artist. A chef. Amazing at math. A writer. A musician. There are lots of aspects to your life besides parenthood! Lay out (tentative) plans for your future. Get a hobby, or rekindle an old one. Spend time on dates with your partner, enjoying each other and doing things together. 

So what keeps you going? Is there anything you need to modify to be happy right where you are as a stay at home parent?

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