Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Rough Patches

What a hard week this has been. Reagan has hit a bit of a tantrum spell. Possibly she can sense the tension around her and her bad moods are feeding off of that. It's bound to happen when 7 people live in one house, but that doesn't make it fun ;)
She's also turning 4 one week from today! Super exciting because her party is Saturday and we have made it through the age of 3, but also bittersweet because my "baby" is starting preschool in the fall! If I could just hit pause for a little while I would be so tempted. She's so much fun right now, and I am really enjoying this age so much. But I also know our bond will continue to grow :)
There has been so much to do for school and the nursing program this week also. I am picking up with the rest of my nursing classes starting in the fall, so I have to a lot to do to prepare for that and for the simulation lab I'll have to do this coming month to test back into the class. It's a little frustrating to have to retake a lab that I've already passed, but it's also good to have that practice and refresh my memory. I can't believe it's been almost a year since my last lab and clinical!
My sweet cousin was pregnant and we knew she would be due a few weeks after Reagan's birthday, but she had preeclampsia as her pregnancy progressed and this past week it became severe. My new baby "niece" is still in the NICU and her mama is taking it pretty hard so please keep them in your prayers! I actually chose preeclampsia as a research topic weeks ago and had to study it after Taylor's birth, so that was really hard knowing everything that my cousin has been through and what the future could hold.
All of this has made for some very stressful times around our house! Fortunately I have God, coffee, and long chats with dear friends to keep me sane ;) I don't need to have it all figured out or fix everything because He knows His plans for me and for everyone I love. The ultimate stress reliever for me is being able to take a deep breath and give it all to God. All my burdens and worries and fears, He says He will help carry them. I'm not in life alone, all I have to do is trust Him. What sweet relief that is.
How do you unwind in hard times? COMMENT below!
Do you enjoy my posts? FOLLOW Mama Made a Blog and never miss one!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Love List: Things I'm Loving Right Now

What I’m Loving
1.       To Go Spa Face mask in Ice Water. I haven’t tried this yet, but I can’t wait to. I love gel eye masks and this looks like it would feel similar to that. They also have smaller eye masks made for just the under eye area. I found this company on Instagram and it looks like the people who have tried it really love it. I’m all for anything that makes me feel relaxed and pampered and doesn’t take a whole lot of work! I’m sure other moms will agree! Available HERE.
2.       Hoopnotica Travel Hoop Combo Kit in Pink. I love a way to spice up my workout routine without having to get bulky new equipment. I don’t have the room for it. The fact that you can break this hoop down for travel makes it even more appealing. It even comes with a Level One Hoopnotica Hoopdance DVD, so it’s perfect for beginners. Get yours HERE.
3.       Brit+Co. Good Luck Clover Kit. Brit+Co. has the coolest DIY boxes ever, and this lucky clover kit is no exception. St. Patrick’s day is next week so I ordered this for us to plant together to celebrate. It’s an easy, inexpensive, fun, and educational activity to do with your littles. What more can a mom ask for?! I’m so excited to do this. Reagan has a green thumb so she’s been ready for winter to end so we can get back in the garden! Shop for lucky clovers HERE.
4.       Rent the Runway: Ella Dress by ML Monique Lhuillier. This dress is gorgeous and equally appropriate for church on Sunday morning or a night out on the town. Sometimes it’s nice to get dressed up and make yourself feel special, and I love that I can do that with Rent the Runway without the price of an expensive dress or worrying about something that’s going to get worn once and sit in my closet. It’s especially perfect for times when you want to play dress up for a special occasion without the commitment. Shop HERE.
5.       Birthday Express: Frozen Snow Globes. These snow globes are so cute and it looks like there are designs both boys and girls will love. I ordered these for Reagan’s birthday party as favors for all the kids. Reagan and I have a holiday tradition of getting a special new snow globe every year, so it holds mean for us too, and I can’t wait to show her! Get yours HERE and use code AFCBDXP15 for 15% off your purchase of $50+ until March 31, 2015. 
6.       Sizzix Texture Boutique Embossing Machine Beginner’s Kit. This machine is a small and inexpensive way to add a creative touch to cards, scrapbook pages, invitations, and many other paper products. I’ve been looking into crafting machines and this seems like one of the most affordable choices, but I like that there is a starter kit that comes with everything you need initially. I’ve been making greeting cards for the Mama Made a Blog etsy shop (opening soon!!) so this would be the perfect addition for my craft room. Find one HERE.
7.       Julep Polish in Lucky. This polish is such a gorgeous color and absolutely perfect for any day of the year, but especially St. Patrick’s Day! Plus, if you join Maven HERE, you can use code AQUA to receive the March Birthstone Welcome Box for free, just pay $2.99 shipping! Offer ends March 31, 2015. 
8.       Zazzle: Beautiful Pink Roses Modern Elegance Post-It Notes. I’m really into being organized right now (shouldn’t we always be, in a way? I’ve been struggling lately with that. I digress ;)) and list making is a HUGE part of how I stay organized and manage my home, business, school, and sanity. Having pretty paper to do it on makes it that much more enjoyable! Personalize yours HERE.
9.       Warby Parker Glasses: Carnaby in Blue Coral. I am so majorly in need of new glasses, and I’ve been searching for something trendy without being too over the top. I think these glasses might be it. I’ve never gotten glasses from Warby Parker before, but you can have up to 5 pairs at a time sent to your home for free to try on and send back. If you like a pair, you can order them, or you can have more sent if necessary. My cousin just got herself a pair after trying 3 different shipments of glasses and now she’s in love with them! It makes sense to me, being able to try them on in your own home instead of rushing to make a decision and then feeling like they look different later. Find this and the rest of their collection HERE.
10.   DEI Green Zigzag Insulated Picnic Basket on Zulily. We have had our first couple warm days here and have even been for a couple walks. I can feel spring right around the corner. For us, that means lots of picnics in the backyard and everywhere else. I love the bright color of this picnic basket and it’s on Zulily for the next couple days for a great price, so that’s a win on many levels in my book! Get one HERE.
These are a few of the things that have been inspiring me lately. What’s been inspiring you?
**This post contains affiliate links and I may receive a small commission if you make a purchase through them, but the work on my blog and this post and all of the opinions included are completely my own.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

My Daughter Learned Prayer

There are times when your child learns something when they are small that you are just overwhelmed with pride. Learning to walk and talk, for instance.
Then they get older and start to wrap their little minds around ideas, and its really a whole new kind of amazement to watch those connections form as their parent. Reagan and I have been praying, and in the beginning she repeated a lot of what I said and needed prompts from me on what to pray on, which is completely fine and still wonderful. Last night it dawned on me that she has learned how to pray for herself.
I am just so amazed by her sweet heart as she lays it all out there for God. I'm in awe of the incredible blessing before me when I get to listen to her talk to Him about the things she cares about most. She always starts off with he things she wants to thank God for, then any special requests big or small, and then she ends asking for Him to watch over us and our family and keep us all safe.
It makes me so happy to see her have so much to think to be thankful for. At three years of age she has figured out that she can go to God about anything, and to talk to him like a friend. I hope that stays with her forever.
Her prayer went something like this: "Dear God, Thank you for this wonderful day and for my mommy. She fills me with love and kisses me when I cry. I love her so much. Let her feel the wind in her hair and be filled with love every day. Please help me to be good and listen to my mommy, God. And please keep my family safe. I love you God. Amen."
My heart just melts listening to her! I love the colorful language that comes with this age. What a sweet little blessing!
What kinds of this do your kids pray about? Do you pray with them? Comment below!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Sweet Mommy Victories

Sometimes motherhood is really hard. You keep working at it and wondering when it will pay off. Like when you're three year old is going through a tantrum phase or refusing veggies and you keep using persistence and feeling like it's getting you no where. Sound familiar? :)
And then one day, you realize you've had a break through. Or that you really are doing a great job and you totally rock at motherhood! CELEBRATE IT, MAMA! Shout it from the roof tops!
I love to see moms who really love motherhood and own it when they're doing a great job.
Reagan has been going through a dinner boycott for some unknown reason. She is usually really good about at least trying most things, but it's become an increasingly intense battle at the dinner table and has ended in tears for both of us on multiple occasions. The fact that we live with so many family members makes it even harder. There's always someone around who think's I'm being too tough or too lenient, so it just makes a huge struggle for everyone. Besides the fact that I worry that Reagan isn't getting a healthy, well-rounded diet.
So last week I told Reagan she could get up from the table if she had one single bite of her vegetable. I don't believe in forcing her to finish a whole plate if she isn't hungry, but one bite is not going to hurt her and is an accomplishment as far as getting a taste for veggies. She sat there for a while and complained, so I set a timer for 5 minutes and told her that if she didn't take that one bite before the timer went off, she was going straight to bed. She watched the timer and got more antsy until I told her she only had two minutes left, and she actually ate her one bite of veggies! The fact that she did it without a huge drawn out battle and a whole night of sitting at the table was pretty big to me, so I told her I was proud of her and let her get up. Later, she came back on her own and ate her entire dinner when she decided she was hungry! Since then, she has eaten a whole salad, among other new things. I am so proud of how far we have both come and dinner is no longer a struggle! That's a pretty big parenting victory for me!
Have you had any mommy victories lately? Share them!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Ebooks vs. Real Books

Ebooks vs. Real Books

What’s the difference? More importantly, does it matter?

I believe so. Screen time, even spent reading books, has drawbacks. I know from experience that my daughter tends to be very interested in pressing buttons and turning pages, and it takes away from the quality of our reading time and her understanding of the story. Many ebooks also include games and interactive material within the story. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but again it takes away from reading time and turns it into an entirely different experience.

What about the types of books parents read? We all want to set a good example for our children. A wonderful way to get them excited about reading books is to read them ourselves. If our little ones see us reading for enjoyment, they’ll want to do the same. So what if you’re reading ebooks? Well, all your children are seeing is screen time. You know you’re reading and not surfing the web, but they don’t. And even if they do, they’re not making that connection deep down. They still see Mommy glued to her iPad, just like they see when you’re shopping online, using Facebook, and anything else you do on your tablet or phone.

If you want to set the example of reading for enjoyment for your kids, you need to pick up a real book. There’s really no other way around it, y’all. Don’t get me wrong, I love my iPad just as much as the next person, and Reagan and I both have an extensive selection of ebooks, but I really keep those for times when we’re on the go, or to read in bed so I don’t have to worry about a book light. Our children are so impressionable at young ages and the messages we send them without saying a word are the ones that really stick.

With all that being said, there are ways to get better quality time out of ebook reading.

Read together.

When you sit down and read the books together rather than let the voice in the app do it for you, you’re engaging in the story with your child and emphasizing the exciting parts of the story and creating a much better learning experience than if they sit down with the tablet by themselves.

Ask questions.

Involve your child in the story by asking questions and talking it out. When you make them think about what you’re reading, you know the story is coming alive for them and not going in one ear and out the other! This is also great bonding time and teaches you SO MUCH about how your child thinks!

Stick to the story.

Yes, the games and noises are fun, but they take your mind off the story. When you’re reading, focus on just that. Those buttons and games aren’t going anywhere and you can come back to them after you’ve learned what the story is all about. And when you do, you can still play along with your child and ask more questions to stay involved.

How do you engage your children in learning experiences using technology? Are you a huge ebook fan or do you prefer traditional books? Comment so we can discuss it!



PS. Make sure to follow Mama Made a Blog so you never miss a post!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

What Every Child Wants Most

I am in no way a parenting expert.

With a child who is only three, I am still a new mom by some standards. We’re just touching on the preschool age. But I can tell you the most important thing you need to know about your child. About any child.

I know what children want.

I’m not talking about toys or games or trips or anything material. What I’m talking about is the number one thing that all children of any age and any gender and every single nationality want from their parents more than any of those material possessions.

What children want more than anything is your adoration.

They want to hear that what they are doing is enough and good and wonderful. They want to know that they matter to you. This includes their ideas, opinions, hobbies, and all the little things that make them who they are. They want to know that you love them and you are proud of them. They want to be encouraged by you.

Our children look to us for validation.

There are lots of reasons to feel like you have screwed up as a parent, but if you do this one thing, you are really doing okay! If you are taking the time and making the effort to show your children how much they mean to you emotionally, you are doing them a world of good, and you are a great parent.

I have always really believed in this, but there are a few times that it has just really hit me through things my daughter has said just how true it is that this is the number one thing our kids look to us for. Just today she was peeling a clementine by herself, and she showed me. I thought she saw something on it, so I asked her about what she was showing me and she said “I did it all by myself Mommy. Am I doing a good job? Did I do it right?” I know it doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re three and you do something new by yourself with no help from your grown ups, it’s a pretty big deal! These are the times our little ones need our praise! They need that validation when they do the things that are important to THEM, not just the things we see as the big stuff.

The time I remember most though, we were brushing teeth and Reagan had recently started brushing her own. Of course when she’s done I still go over them and I always tell her what a good job she’s done. Except one night I was preoccupied and I just brushed away. But she was quick to shop me and say “Mommy, please tell me that I did a good job.”

My heart broke a little that she might have thought that I forgot or didn’t think the job she did was worthy of my praise, but I am so grateful that she feels like she can tell me the things she needs to hear and everything she’s thinking.

But I know not all kids will tell you what they need from you, what they need to hear. I also know that it is easy to forget to think on their level and really stop and listen to what is important to our kids.

There was another time I stopped Reagan when she was talking. I was just positive I knew what she was going to say, and I felt like she wasn’t listening. Oh the tears! She cried like her heart had just broken in two. Mommy always listens and cares, and she counted on that, but in that moment I didn’t. In those moments it is blatantly obvious what our children want from us.

I’m not saying any of this to put down your parenting or my parenting. I feel like these are moment’s I’ve gotten some really clear insight into the wants and needs of children, and that should be shared. Think of it as a gentle reminder ;) I know I need those sometimes!

Now that I’ve shared some learning experiences, here are some of my very favorite ways to show my daughter that I adore her:

1.       Talk to her. Tell her things that she won’t understand yet. Talk about everything and anything. When Reagan was just a tiny baby I would talk to her about the fields and read her the paper. I narrated everything I did. Not because she could understand it, but because one day she would. Talking to our kids makes them feel important and worthy of being talked to.

2.       Listen to her. No, it doesn’t always make sense. It is usually quite quotable and funny though! And it is always important. As the saying goes “If you don’t listen to the little stuff now, don’t expect them to tell you the big stuff later, because to them it was always big stuff.” That is so true. Giving a child your time to listen to their ideas is so huge.

3.       Praise her. No, turning our house into an ice rink does not sound doable to me for a number of reasons, but when a three year old comes to you with a full explanation of just how we can make this happen, you nod along. The fact that they have started planning things and thinking things through, even if it’s not realistic yet, is important. Fostering independent thought and opinions and creative thinking is important. And all it takes is a simple “That’s a really good idea! I’m proud of you!”

4.       Turn off the electronics. That means the phone, the iPad, and the computer. Anything that you spend a lot of time looking at. Put down your books, too. Do something with your child or watch them and give them your full and totally undivided attention. I am so guilty of not doing this enough! I have online classes and computer-based businesses and emails to respond to and friends to text back, and I let my electronics have way too much of my attention. It is really important to take the time to unplug and show your child that they do not have to compete for your attention and they are more important than those texts and emails.

5.       Tell her! Really go all out on this one! We have fun seeing who can love the other one farther. My daughter literally says “I love you to the moon and the stars and the galaxy and the Palace Pet Salon and all the way back again!” And apparently that is like the farthest EVER and I can’t top it, but I know I can cause mama love is the biggest ;) Even if you don’t say it quite like that, always tell your little one how much you love them, how wonderful they are, how smart they are, and how much they mean to you. Use all the happy adjectives you can think of! Nothing beats telling them how great you think they are, because if you believe it, they believe it.

6.       Ask her. This kind of goes along with active listening. Ask and you shall receive. Little people have BIG opinions on just about everything! They are usually funny and will almost always surprise you. If you ask for your child’s opinion on things, you are showing them that their thoughts and opinions matter. They mean something to you, and again, that means that they will in turn think that their thoughts mean something.

I have talked before about being intentional in parenting, and this is a big place to put intention to use. Be intentional about giving love and praise and affection to your children. Show them they are worthy of your love. Tell them just how much they rock! If you believe it, they will.

And that is what every child wants more than anything.



Sunday, March 1, 2015

Online Christian Resources

I live in a very rural area and while there are lots of churches around here, there don't seem to be many that are uplifting and have lots of young families and children for Reagan to grow in faith with. This is something extremely important to me, and I do want to keep looking for a physical church, but I have recently come across some wonderful online resources available no matter where you live! Even though you may not see these people in the physical sense, emotional community with like minded believers who will lift you up and love on you and pray with you is incredible and inspiring, and in my opinion very important for spiritual and emotional well being.
Pastor Andy Stanley lead a wonderful worship service this morning that was the final installment in the Brand: New series. I'll be completely honest, this was my first time doing church online, and I chose North Point by recommendation from a good friend. I was so impressed with the message this morning! It was all about leading your life in such a way that you love others the way Jesus loved us. All about love! Now that was the uplifting message I needed to hear. I highly suggest watching this series, which is all available on their website, linked above! They have live service broadcasted every Sunday at 8:00 and 11:00 am, but they do replay throughout the day and have links to watch at your own time as well.
The Influence Network is something I have heard of and followed on social media for a while, but I finally decided to join this week. It is a member community for women who want to interact with like-minded, faith-based ladies from all over. There are special features for bloggers and entrepreneurs, but even if you aren't either of those things, they have plenty of resources and fellowship for you too! Membership costs $10 per month, but the price of one of their classes is also $10, and membership includes one free class per month, so it really pays for itself! Members have access to the forums, small groups, case studies, book club, monthly download packs, and much more. Whether you want to lead, be led, participate from afar, or meet up in person, they most definitely have something uplifting waiting for you! I am so excited to have joined and I cannot wait to take my first class tomorrow and share some of the things I learn from them on the blog!
Thrive Moms is something I haven't really gotten involved with yet, but I am definitely following along an praying on it. They have Facebook groups for moms experiencing similar things in life, like single moms, military moms, working moms, etc. There are lots to choose from, and you can let them know if there is another group you would like to see added. They also have local groups you can join or start in your own community. There is no local group in my area, but I really love that they have online retreats in the Spring and Fall and the other online groups, so I'm thinking about joining. They seem so sweet and genuine and it looks like another great community to be a part of.
I have been getting the subscription box from this company for a few months now, and in three days their last subscription box will go on sale! March is their last month! But don't worry, they have more things in the works for all us mamas, and the boxes are only being phased out to make time for all the other great things they have planned. They have other products in their shop already (I'm in love with my Happy Mommy mug!) and you can also check out both Natalie's blog (The Busy Budgeting Mama) and Mandy's blog (The House of Rose) for more inspiration and encouragement.
So that's my little list of online places to find community and faith-based encouragement when you need it. And I sincerely hope that my blog makes it on to your own personal list! Have a happy Sunday!!
*the pictures are from their respective websites and are not affiliated with my blog or owned by me in any way :)