Why I Let My Babies Feed Themselves: AKA Baby Led Weaning

Baby Led Weaning (BLW) has been the single greatest discovery in my life as a mom apart from the day I realized I could pop in a movie for my kids to watch in our van while I went through the Starbuck’s drive-through and subsequently enjoy a few minutes of silence.

Baby Led Weaning is not what it sounds like, at least, not what it sounds like to us Americans. In America, we hear the word “weaning” and we automatically think in terms of giving up breastfeeding. But the BLW idea originated in the UK where weaning simply means to add complimentary foods to a babies diet.

The genius behind BLW is that you never give a baby pureed food. Never. Instead, you simply give them bite-sized pieces of the food you are already eating. No mashing, pureeing, straining, etc. You put one meal on the table for everyone ages 6 months + and you call it a day. Like this day, where I made scrambled eggs with goat cheese and tarragon for me, Oliver, and Beatrice. Continue reading “Why I Let My Babies Feed Themselves: AKA Baby Led Weaning”

The Best New Place For Kids In Northeastern Ohio: Jump n Shout

Families in the Northeastern Ohio area are in for a treat. Recently, Neil and Natasha Wood of Wooster, Ohio, opened the doors to their new business – Jump n Shout – a one stop fun and entertainment area for kids of all ages. I got the chance to sit down with the couple recently to hear more about their story and to check out their new facility. I left so excited to come back with my kids and my friend’s kids. This place, is awesome.

Neil and Natasha have two kids of their own – an eight year old son and a four year old daughter. They noticed that it was difficult to find places that both their children enjoyed.

“All of the places we visited cater to children of the same age, which means someone is always missing out,” Neil noted.

The couple also struggled to find fun things to do with the kids in the winter. The couple is originally from South Africa where it is sunny all the time and as a result, most activities are outdoors.

“But then we moved to Ohio for work,” said Natasha, “and we needed to find something to do when the weather turned cold. Continue reading “The Best New Place For Kids In Northeastern Ohio: Jump n Shout”

A DIY Outdoor Play Space For Our Kids

We’ve been wanting to create a fort/treehouse/playhouse for the kids for awhile now. Recently, Mike and I put our heads together to create a space that would grow with the kids; a space where they could play, create, imagine, and even camp out. I wanted it to be part club house, part stage for little productions, part cabin in the woods. I wanted it to be kind of an a-frame structure, with a deck.

Mike executed my vision to perfection. Better, even.

I can’t wait to see the boys use this space, and one day – Beatrice. We are calling it the Adventure Cottage, because this bad boy is built for adventure.

I can’t wait to hang a few hammocks for them to lounge in and read. I can’t wait for them to roll out a few sleeping bags and tell stories with a campfire perfect for roasting marshmallows near by. I can’t wait for them to put on silly little products on the deck, with us watching and laughing in our camp chairs.

This is going to be fun. This, is going to be an adventure. Continue reading “A DIY Outdoor Play Space For Our Kids”

I Am Not A Cruise Ship Director

Dear Children,

Brace yourselves. This might come as a shock to you.

But I, your momma/mother/mom/lady who birthed you, am not a cruise ship director, and this ain’t no cruise.

I’m not in charge of balloon animals, or puppet shows.

Our family motto is not “the happiest place on earth.”

I don’t do magic, I don’t work miracles.

This is not Make A Wish Foundation. Continue reading “I Am Not A Cruise Ship Director”

Things No One Tells You About Your Kid’s First Surgery

My oldest son had surgery to remove his tonsils and adenoids two weeks ago. As per usual, it was yet another opportunity for me to be reminded that a) I know nothing and b) everything that I assume will be hard in parenting is nothing compared to the actual hard stuff. The stuff that I never could have imagined and am therefore completely unprepared for when it arrives.

Ah. Motherhood. Also known as The Perpetual Exercise in Humility.   Continue reading “Things No One Tells You About Your Kid’s First Surgery”

Top 10 Stay-Cation Ideas: How To Have Fun With Your Family On A Budget

 

I know this isn’t the coolest thing in the world to say, but I love our stay-cations. Love them. Last summer, we went on our first ever family vacation to the beach and it was amazing. I loved every second of it. But, we can’t make that type of trip happen very often.

I am a firm believer in regularly building time into your schedule for rest and relaxation, though, and stay-cations allow us to do that without the price tag of a big trip. Most summers we plan a variety of local, low cost activities. It doesn’t have to be big and fancy. You don’t even have to drive far. All you need, is a little creativity and the willingness to let go – let go of expectations, let go of comparing what you’re doing to what you’re friends are doing, and (most importantly) let go of your worries.

Not too long ago, I thought I had to travel far, spend a lot of money, and be constantly entertained in order to have fun. Now, I realize that I’m fun. My husband is fun. My kids are fun. We bring the fun. What’s more, you don’t have to work hard to create the perfect get-away when you consciously work at being present in the moment and intentional about enjoying the life you’ve been blessed with.

Maybe you are looking for some fun, inexpensive things to do with your family this summer. Maybe you are wondering if it’s even possible to have fun on a budget! I hope this list will inspire you to think outside of the box. I hope it will inspire you make time for relaxation. I hope it will inspire you to have a little fun.  Continue reading “Top 10 Stay-Cation Ideas: How To Have Fun With Your Family On A Budget”

How We Celebrate Birthdays & My Favorite Chocolate Cake Recipe

Nothing makes me happier than celebrating the birthdays of the incredible human beings I get to call my family. Nothing. My heart comes alive when I get to plan experiences that say, “We love you, and your life is a gift!”

Recently, we planned a special day to celebrate Theo’s fifth birthday, and I was so excited the night before our big day that I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned. I ended up getting out of bed and making the cake at 2 AM. I was giddy at the thought of spending all day celebrating my boy.

Theo, like many boys his age, loves trains. He also loves his bike. Mike and I never taught Theo to ride his bike without training wheels. One day, he was at a friend’s house, saw a bike, got on it, and started riding it. It never occurred to him that it only had two wheels.

Theo will ride his bike everywhere. His Uncle Josh is an amazing BMX rider, and has invited him to ride ramps a few times, much to Theo’s delight. But most days, Theo will ride his bike up the sidewalk to the neighbor’s house, or around the path in the park that sits behind our house. Take him to a bike path and this kid will ride for miles. It’s incredible. Theo, is incredible.

To celebrate such a special birthday, Mike and I arranged to spend the day with just him; we’ve thrown a lot of change at him over the past three years and he has been such a trooper. But today was going to be all about him. So we left the other two kids at home and headed to Akron, with our bikes in tow. Continue reading “How We Celebrate Birthdays & My Favorite Chocolate Cake Recipe”

To Theo, On Your Fifth Birthday

Last week, you were in the front passenger seat with me as we  waited in the preschool drop off line. It was raining. As we do each day, I held your hand and squeezed it tight and said, “Be kind. Be you. Love Jesus.”

You gave me a hug and a kiss on the lips and said, “I will. You be kind. Be yourself. Love Jesus.”

And then your teacher was at the car door, and with all the confidence in the world you threw a “Bye mommy! Love you!” over your shoulder without a final glance, opened your froggy umbrella and stepped out into the rain.

As I watched you walking away, so little yet so self assured, with your backpack hanging haphazardly and your froggy umbrella a bright beacon on the gray, Ohio day, I felt a sob creep up in my throat.

It was unexpected, and I couldn’t quite catch it before it was out. My heart was full of love and pride but my eyes were full of tears.

Oh how far we’ve come, my love.

It’s only been five years. Five years! But in that time, so much has changed.

No one has taught me more about love, patience, forgiveness and adventure than you, my dear boy.

No one.

I’ve struggled against “motherhood” so much in these five years. I’ve struggled against you. I’ve fought against all the things I didn’t want to suddenly be associated with just because I was now “a mom.” I fought against your will which is as iron clad as my own. I fought against my perceived lack of freedom. I fought against all the things you’ve required of me, that I wasn’t prepared to give.  Continue reading “To Theo, On Your Fifth Birthday”

Raising Independent Kids In The Kitchen

Today’s post is a follow up to yesterday’s on meal planning.

As I grocery shop each week, I try to pick things for lunch that Theo can either make himself, or help with a little assistance from me. It’s important to me to have my kids help in the kitchen with both cooking and baking. It usually slows things down a bit and makes things a lot messier, but it’s worth it.

I want to raise independent kids in all aspects of life, including the kitchen. This means:

-I teach them how to follow instructions. Ask Theo and he will tell you, the number one rule in the kitchen is “wait for instructions.”
-I include the kids in the scooping, measuring, stirring, etc.
-I give the boys some freedom to pick foods out that they want to eat, then let them get those things themselves. In the top photo, Theo told me what he wanted for a snack, including the tea, and I told him I’d make the tea if he got the snacks out.
-The kids are responsible to help with clean up.

For lunch, Theo can make PB&J sandwiches, dish out yogurt, pour snacks in bowels, put together english muffin pizzas, and spread frozen fries or nuggets on a tray. He is also able to help me stir any veggies I might be heating up. I take care of anything in the oven.

Theo also is responsible for putting lunch on the plates, getting his and Oliver’s water bottles from the fridge, and carrying everything over to the table. I ask that he serve his brother first, to foster a giving spirit and an attitude of kindness in general, but especially towards his brother, Heaven help us.

I ask that both the boys take their plates to the counter and throw away any trash.

Although I’m encouraging a lot of independence, the boys’ freedom is certainly within boundaries. For example, I have a fairly hard and fast rule about eating at the table. The kids are just too messy to eat anywhere else. On special occasions we let them eat popcorn with a movie, but by in large they know to keep their food at either our breakfast nook in the kitchen or at the dining room table. Why do I mention this? Because while it’s important to give kids the space to be independent, it’s equally as important to give them healthy boundaries. The boundaries are what keep everything (and everyone!) safe, healthy, and secure. Independence without boundaries is simply chaos.  Continue reading “Raising Independent Kids In The Kitchen”