Ditching Technology for Some Outdoor Fun with Kids!

My son’s recent addiction to his Xbox One has made me want to 1) throw it out the window and 2) Get him outdoors more to get in tune with nature and use his imagination.

I decided to do an outdoor rock and shells painting picnic at the park and it was tons of fun! Since I’m not the craftiest mom I had zero art supplies but headed over to my local Dollar Tree and purchased some colorful paint, paint brushes, and a pack of seashells all for under $5

In addition to the art supplies I packed a disposable cup with bottled water for the paint, baby wipes for any mess, two Ziploc bags to collect rocks, a blanket, toys, and books from the house and grabbed us lunch (McDonald’s for my son and Kappy’s Subs for my daughter and I )on the way to the picnic.

I chose Minnehaha park which is great for picnics because it offers lots of grassy area to spread a blanket. Being the hungry mama I am and the fact that my son despises room temperatured food, I made us eat lunch on our blankets first.

After lunch we walked around the park and collected a variety of different rocks. My son who is six was much better at collecting rocks than my two-year-old daughter, however it inspired us to use teamwork to help her and within no time she was getting the hang of it and collecting her own rocks.

After collecting rocks I put an old shirt down on the blanket to paint, busted out the paint supplies and let the kids get to work! They had fun mixing colors and using their favorite color (my daughter wanted to color everything pink), to cover both their rocks and shells. In fact, my daughter even decided that she wanted to collect and paint acorns which was hilarious and cute.

Minnehaha has a clean and cool playground area so we went to play for awhile and let the rocks and shells dry on the blanket. When it was time to leave they were nice and dry and I placed them into sandwich bags and headed home. If you’re not sure what to do with the rocks and shells after you can put them somewhere in your house or outside on your porch or backyard. Wherever they are, the kids will be proud to walk by and see them!

Overall, the play date was a great success and allowed the kids to have fun while being creative and learning. My two-year-old brushed up on her color recognition skills and my six-year-old had a chance to explore his “artsy” side as he is more of an active child.

*****Disclaimer*****

A few things to consider before doing this activity would be to pick a park that is notorious for a nice selection of rocks because we couldn’t find much of a variety at Minnehaha. We ended up painting a lot of smaller rocks which wasn’t as fun as the bigger ones, but still great nonetheless. You may also want to pack painting aprons for the kids (mine fortunately did not make a mess of their clothes) which can be found at Dollar Tree for $1 each.
Please comment below with any other tips you have for a successful outdoor picnic or craft activity, as well as any other great thoughts. Until next time, Mama’s!
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Stepping into the New Year

Happy New Year, Mamas! I’ve been so busy with the holidays that I haven’t had time to write. Going into the new year I can’t help but reflect on 2018 and think of what I’d like to do differently this year. I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions because…well….let’s face it, I never keep them! However, I do like to enter a new year with a few goals in mind.


In 2018 I made an effort to find the balance between my family and social life, as well as devote more to self-care. I was very successful at this by going out more with friends while still spending quality time with my family. I also did a lot more spa days and online shopping for myself. In fact, 2018 was the first year in a long time that I did Black Friday shopping for myself before the kids. It might sound selfish to some but I realize the kids already had so many clothes, toys, etc and I hadn’t bought much for myself in awhile. It felt great dressing up in my new trendy clothes and shoes, even if it was just to run errands with the kids.


This year I decided to pick a word for the new year which is FOCUS. Sounds pretty general I know but it is very important to me because I tend to get sidetracked along the way and forget the BIG PICTURE of life sometimes. For example, I would love to focus on finishing school to sit for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst exam and grow in my career. It’s so easy to take off a semester, postpone studying for the exam, or avoid the hassle and remain a teacher when I have so many other things going on in life. Yet, I have to FOCUS on what’s important to me in to keep moving forward 🙂


Did anyone else choose a word for 2019 like myself or did you stick with resolutions? I’d love to hear about either in the comments below. Happy New Year Mamas! Thanks for “ridin” with me thus far and 2019 is going to be a great year! 🙂

5 Tips for Having the Best Day at the Pumpkin Patch with the Family

Nothing screams the word FALL quite like the pumpkin patch, and through the years it’s become one of my favorite fall activities!!! I’ve attended a different pumpkin patch each year since my son was one-years-old (he’s now 6), and I can officially declare myself an expert at having the best day at the pumpkin patch with the family. Being the generous mama I am (please, just thank me later) I’ve decided to share 5 excellent tips for you and your family to have the time of your lives at the pumpkin patch!

Tip #1: Go Early

Whether you’re a Floridian like myself trying to avoid the fall heat (crazy right?!), or a northerner who’s blessed to experience an actual fall in October, but want to avoid the crowds, attending a pumpkin patch early is a must. Since there are so many activities to partake in such as the hayrides, corn mazes, etc. you will want to give yourself enough time to experience it all without having to wait in lines with cranky, anxious kids.

Tip #2: Dress the Part

One of my favorite parts of the pumpkin patch are the photo ops! From the haystacks to the pumpkins, there are so many cool backdrops to place the family in front of for cool pictures. This is all the more reason why you want to come dressed in fall clothes. If you’re in a city that’s actually cool in October (I despise you), bust out the fall boots, sweaters, and cardigans for family fall photos. However, if you’re somewhere like Sweaty Central Florida during October, don’t get discouraged. Dress the family in Halloween or fall-inspired clothing, such as Jack-O-Lantern shirts or those trendy “Pumpkin Spice Everything” tees you can find in Target 😉

Tip #3: Take Home a Pumpkin
Yeah I know you’re there for the Instagram photos and all, but it’s called a Pumpkin Patch for a reason. On your way out, have the kids pick out a pumpkin to take home and decorate or carve. You can even roast the seeds for a delicious fall treat.
Tip #4: Bring Cash
While most places have gotten with the times and allow for debit and credit card transactions, it’s always a great idea to bring cash just in case a food vendor calls for it. There’s nothing more disappointing than driving all the way to the pumpkin patch and discovering you can’t do as much as planned because most things are cash-only. You can also call ahead or check the updated website of whichever pumpkin patch you attend just to be sure.

Tip #5: Find a Patch on a Farm

I’ve been to several pumpkin patches (told you I’m an expert now) and while each were amazing in their own way, I much prefer the patches held on a farm. If you’re fortunate to live close enough to the country, check out a farm hosting a pumpkin patch. These patches generally have way more activities than the ones at your local church. For example, hayrides, corn mazes, petting zoos, pony rides, and other cool farm activities. I once visited the pumpkin patch at Green Meadows Farm here in Central Florida and children were allowed to help milk a cow! It doesn’t get any better than that in my opinion

I hope you find these tips helpful and have an amazing time the next time you’re at the pumpkin patch! Please feel free to share any other tips I might have forgotten in the comments below. Until next time, Mamas 🙂

How to Help Out a Fellow Mom

Prior to having kids I always brought new moms gifts like the cute little onesies with matching socks, stuffed animals, and let’s not forget the adorable bathrobes that the baby probably only wore for social media pictures. While I’m sure these gifts were greatly appreciated and beneficial in one way or another, it wasn’t until I became a mom that I realized what mom’s REALLY need. Since I don’t want you to be as clueleses as I was over 5 years ago, I’ve created a list of the top 5 ways to help a fellow mom out!

1. Bring Her a Meal

Meal trains are an excellent way for friends and family members to bring new moms meals post-baby. While there are many variations to the meal train, it is basically friends signing up with what they will bring or have delivered to the new mom on different days.

As every new (and experienced) mom knows, it is easy to become so consumed with the kid(s) that you forget to feed yourself. However, the meal train gives you little to no excuse to not eat because the meal is already prepped and at your home. Even if you’re not a part of a meal train, simply bringing your fellow mom a meal on your own goes a long way, and this goes for experienced moms as well. Next time you cook a little extra, offer to send some over to a good mommy friend, or have one of those BOGO pizzas you ordered delivered to her house one evening. As a mom of 2, not having to figure out dinner even one night out of the week is a great feeling.

2. Offer to Babysit

If your fellow mom just had a baby and has older kids, offer to take them out the house or come over and watch them while she and dad sleep or spend some time with the baby. You could also offer to watch the baby so the parents can spend some quality time with the older siblings who might be feeling neglected since baby arrived.

Even if your friend isn’t a new mom, still offer to babysit for date-nights or so she can do something relaxing like the spa or a solo trip to Target. Babysitting other people’s kids becomes a lot easier when you have your own because they can play together and entertain each other most of the time.

3. Offer Cleaning Services

Whether you personally head over to clean or hire a professional cleaning service, this act of service will make any mama’s day! So much of a mom’s day is spent washing and folding laundry, dusting China cabinets, picking up kids’ toys, and all else. It would feel beyond great to not have to worry about the housework and actually spend quality time as a family or relaxing.

If coming over to clean seems too invasive, sites like Groupon and Living Social have excellent deals on local cleaning services that would be beneficial to your fellow mom friend.

4. Run Her Errands

Running errands for your fellow mama saves her precious time and may not be much of an inconvenience for you, especially if you’re already heading to the stores she likes. For example, you could drop her clothes off to the cleaners with yours, pick up a few items on her groccery list, or have the kids carpool with yours to school or soccer practice. This may not sound like an errand but after doing it every day it sure as hell starts to feel like a damn chore, so help a mama out!

5. Lend Her Your Ear

Let’s face it, we moms love to vent about how crazy, overwhelming, and downright crazy this journey called motherhood is! Sadly sometimes our partners don’t always want to hear our whining (insert Cher Horowitz’s “as if” 💁) or simply don’t understand and can’t relate. Therefore, just lending an ear to your fellow mom after a long day of parenting can make her feel heard and comforted.

Allow her to pour her heart out and be sure to listen and respond in a nonjudgmental way. We moms have enough judgement from society as it is on the “right” way to be a mom, that we don’t need to hear it from another mother. Simply, nod, offer lots of “mmm hmms” and provide lots of encouragement for her to feel refreshed and empowered to start the next day!

No matter how you choose to help your fellow mom out just do it! Whatever you do I guarantee you she’ll appreciate it. In the wise words of Maya Angelou, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Until next time, Mamas!

Organized Sports for Young Kids

My husband grew up playing every sport you can imagine and even played football during his college years at the University of Florida (Go Gators!!!) I also did hip hop and ballet as a child, and although my husband insists that dance is NOT a sport (insert Michelle Tanner’s “How Rude!!!”) I was always considered the most athletic out of my siblings.

When our son was born, my husband and I could not wait to enroll him into sports! By 2-years-old our son was already involved in swim and T-ball, and it didn’t stop there. As he got older he was eligible to sign up for more sports, such as football, soccer, basketball, and track.

Our daughter who just turned 2 has already done swim lessons, and begins soccer this fall at her preschool. While early sports is definitely a big thing in our household, I definitely understand why some parents might question whether it’s the best decision for their family. Therefore, I have created a list of the pros and cons of organized sports for little ones below, to help make the decision-making process easier.

Pros
1. Good Excercise

One of the biggest benefits of sports is the excercise children get from it. This is especially important in today’s schools that focus more on academics and less on outdoor activities. Even if your little basketball player doesn’t turn into the next LeBron James, an early introduction to sports can lead to a lifetime of great excercise habits.

2. Promotes Teamwork

Sports are great at helping young ones work together to win the game. It also teaches accountability and helps children realize what happens when they don’t correctly pass the ball or score in the wrong goal.

3. Teaches Discipline

Sports teach children how to follow directions from their coach and wait patiently for their turn to get in the game. While they may not always be happy about following the rules, it ultimately teaches them self-discipline which can take them very far in other areas later on in life.

4. Safety Skills

Some sports like swim teams are great for safety reasons. While your child doesn’t have to be the next Michael Phelps, being a strong swimmer can definitely save his life and even the lives of others.

5. Family Involvement

It’s easy to become so consumed with work, errands, and household chores that you miss out on quality family time, and that’s where little league games come in. No parent wants to miss their little one’s soccer or T-ball game, thus it forces the family to be in the same place at once rooting for their child.

My husband even coached our son’s basketball team a few seasons, and what’s even better is grandma and grandpa or that aunt you rarely see are likely to show up and offer their support too!

Cons

1. Time-Consuming

As enjoyable as it is watching your kids play sports, there are some days you just want to simply go somewhere else as a family or hell – sit at home in your pajamas watching Lifetime movies all day.

2. Pricey

Some leagues may cost as much as $250 for the season, which doesn’t even include anything more than a uniform. That means cleats, helmets, mouth guards, bats, etc must be purchased separately. This can be difficult for families trying to make ends meet but some sports organizations offer scholarships or “early bird” specials that help out significantly with cost.

3. Disrupts the Family Routine

Some games might be scheduled during a time that does not work for your family, and you’re often not notified of the schedule until after you’ve signed up. For example, our son’s basketball games were every Sunday at 1 p.m. which made going to church pretty difficult. Then another season, his T-ball practices were at 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning, which was no bueno for a mom who loved to “sleep in” like myself. Some leagues also have weekday practices which may not be practical for families with a hectic work schedule.

4. Meltdowns

Some children are just too young to really enjoy playing an organized sport. I remember my son having a tantrum at many of the T-ball games and it put a damper on the experience. No parent wants to wake up early on a Saturday morning, drive 30 minutes to the baseball field, and have their child play for all of 15 minutes before throwing him or herself to the ground, whining for a turn, or complaining it’s too hot.

5. Overly-Competitive Parents

I’ve been to enough games to know that there will always be that one parent who is more into the game than their kid. You can see them pacing back and fourth on the side-line shouting angrily at their kid to play harder, or going off on the coach, referee, and other parents for something unfair about the game.

While it’s alright to be passionate about sports and your child’s athletic performance, it is waaaay too early on in your child’s life to behave like P. Diddy at his son’s football game. Besides, putting too much pressure on your child to perform well will likely have the opposite effect where they end up hating sports and quit early.

In my opinion, there is no right or wrong time to sign your child up for sports. It is based on the individual child and family’s preferences. I hope this pros and cons list was helpful and please share any successful or horrifying stories you might have about your experience with your child and organized sports. Until next time Mamas!

Medela Pump in Style Breast Pump Review

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, I absolutely HAD to write a post on something breastfeeding-related. I am proud to say that I was fortunate enough to breastfeed both of my babies until they were 1 and 2 years old. While breastfeeding is certainly a labor of love, I truly enjoyed nursing both of my children and fortunately didn’t have any of the horror stories I hear from other moms, such as the baby not latching, not producing enough milk, sore and cracked nipples…you get the picture.

One of the major struggles I did face however, was how to feed my children when it was time to return to work. I wanted to continue giving my babies MY milk and I was determined to find a way to do so. It took awhile to find a breast pump that worked for me but once I did I wanted to shout it to the world! The Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump is the best electric pump for mamas of all kind! While the product is specifically geared towards moms who pump frequently such as working moms, I recommend it to stay at home moms as well. For example, once your milk is established you can pump a bottle for dad or relatives to feed the baby while you nap, take a shower, do laundry, or whatever else you decide. It also allows your baby to get used to taking a bottle so that if the time does come for them to go to daycare, they’ll already be comfortable with another nipple besides mama’s. The pump costs around $200 which may sound steep but it’s a great investment and totally worth it.

Below are just a few of the reasons why the Medela Pump in Style Advanced Pump is absolutely amazing!

 

  1. On the Go Tote

The pump and all its parts come packed neatly in a nice little black tote. While it’s not necessarily the most stylish baby bag for moms, it isn’t embarrassing to carry around either. Especially considering that everything needed to pump and store your milk can be found in this tote. It definitely makes life easier for a breastfeeding mama, and we all need that.

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  1. 2-Phase Expression Technology

Every pumping mom knows how aggravating it is having to sit there for hours pumping one breast at a time, while the other waits impatiently (aka leaking). The Medela Pump in Style enables moms to pump both breasts quickly at the same time, which gives you more time to spend with your baby or finishing up that project at work. As a teacher, I had to pump on my lunch breaks (which was only 30 minutes) and I really did not have the time to waste. The Medela Pump in Style at least granted me the opportunity to pump milk for my baby and eat a decent lunch before my students came rushing back to class. Can you imagine their faces had they caught me in the “act?!” 🙂

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  1. Storage Bags

In that nice little black tote mentioned earlier comes storage bags. Yeah, I know, who gets excited over stupid little plastic bags right? Breastfeeding moms do, that’s’ who! The storage bags allow you to see how many ounces of milk you pumped (I hate to brag but my ounces were pretty high) 😊 as well as write the date on it so you don’t end up giving your baby outdated milk. You can also write your child’s full name on it to ensure your child’s daycare doesn’t accidentally give some other baby your liquid gold (yes this has happened at daycare centers before).

***Tip: Be sure to check that you’ve sealed your storage bags properly before storing to avoid (literally) crying over spilled milk.

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  1. Bottles

Rather than pouring your milk into those storage bags earlier, you could feed your baby directly from the milk you just pumped in the Medela bottles provided. Once again, this makes a mom’s life easier and is great for moms who bottle-feed frequently.

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  1. Mini Cooler and Ice Pack

This mini cooler and ice pack came in handy when carrying my breast milk on long drives to visit family during the holiday. Medela makes sure there is no need to worry over your milk spoiling when you’re on the go on a hot day or if you have a picky baby who just prefers cool milk as opposed to room temperature.

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Cleaning Tips

Some moms do feel a little intimidated by cleaning the parts of the pump, however, the manual did an excellent job explaining what to do. I found that just by soaking them in warm water and soap for a few minutes and allowing them to thoroughly dry did the trick.

I hope you found this product review useful 🙂 Please feel free to comment and share any great (or not-so-great) experiences you might have had with the Medela or any other breast pumps that could help other breastfeeding/pumping mamas 🙂

Maintaining a Social Life After Kids

Prior to getting married and having children, I was a very outgoing person. At any given moment I would drop what I was doing to meet with a girlfriend for dinner, drinks, a party – you name it and I was there. After all, I didn’t have to check in with the hubby to make sure we didn’t have plans that night or arrange ahead of time for a sitter, and even if I partied so hard that I couldn’t wake up the next morning, I could sleep in uninterrupted until the following evening if I pleased.

After having my first child I told myself I would never let my social life suffer, but like all new moms I was totally clueless as to exactly how demanding being a new mom would be. There were doctor visits, playdates, work, school (who decides to go to grad school their first year of motherhood?!) and trying to make sure dear hubby didn’t feel neglected. I barely had enough time to take a shower let alone meet up with a girlfriend for even a cup of coffee.

Then one day it hit me, and I realized that I had to MAKE time to connect with friends or I wasn’t going to have any left. While family may understandably come first, aren’t our friendships with other women/men important as well? I now set aside time each month and leave the kids with dad or a sitter, to do at least one major outing with my girlfriends and boy has it been worth it.

Here are just a few of the fun nights I’ve recently had out with friends that reminded me just how important a good ladies’ night is!

 Dessert Bar with the Bestie

One of my best friends of over 25 years and I are so different and yet so alike in many ways. It was so nice just catching up and reminiscing on old times. It also didn’t hurt that the dessert was practically to die for 😊

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Dinner & Burlesque Comedy Show

Every woman loves a good laugh with her girlfriends and this comedy show had a sexy spin on it. These ladies reminded me just how good it feels to get your grown & sexy on, on a Saturday night. After all, we’re wives and moms not nuns!!! Clearly it was not the milk-stained t-shirts or poop-scented sweatpants attracted our partners to us. Let’s not forget how fly we are mamas!

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Poetry Night & Fashion Show

While we may not have been the ones on the runway that night, you couldn’t have told us otherwise! It was nice getting dressed up and trading my pair of flats for stilettos (even if I was painfully reminded why I wear flats by the end of the night).

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Making time to connect with friends post-baby can be whatever you want it to be. Whether that’s a full night out on the dance floor Milly Rockin (ayyyeee) or a relaxing day at the spa, if you’re making the time for the other important people in your life (your girlfriends, hello! Remember them?!) that’s all that matters. Just remember to have fun, keep the conversation light, and unless you ABSOLUTELY must…please, please DON’T talk about the kids!!! 😊