How We Spent Mothers’ Day, and Why Past Fights Have Really Paid Off (Wink)

On Mothers’ Day, I was woken up by Mike and the boys with a tray full of breakfast goodies. Oliver sat next to me while I ate in bed and kept rubbing my arm and smiling his Oliver smile, telling me that “you’re such a good girl” and that “you have the most beautiful nose in the whole world!” I died. Theo bounced around, so excited to surprise me with the omelette he made me (with his dad’s supervision), a card, and flowers. Mike told me later that while they were arranging my food on a tray, Theo said, “I’m so excited I’m shaking!” and when Mike looked down, sure enough, Theo’s hands were shaking. I mean, that is pretty stinkin adorable. 🙂

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We didn’t have any particular plans for that day because Mike had made other plans for the weekend that we ultimately had to cancel. So after breakfast we decided on a short little road trip to explore the Kingwood Center Gardens in Mansfield, Ohio.

We loaded up the van without much more of a plan than a destination. I knew we would be hungry by time we arrived in Mansfield, so we scoped out restaurants from the road, looking for a Chinese place we could grab some take out (a picnic favorite of ours).

Mike – the navigator king, found us a restaurant and I ordered our food and away we went. We parked at the gardens and I spread out a blanket (I never leave home without a picnic blanket in the car!) and we feasted on the random assortment I had picked out for us. Bea even managed to steal – and eat! – a piece of Mike’s sushi. Continue reading

Kids, Technology, and Me

I’ve been thinking about technology and social media use for myself and my kids A LOT lately. In fact, it’s a topic that is never too far from mind. How can it be? We hear about it ALL. THE. TIME. For me, I’ve had a hard time wrapping my mind around it all because a) I tend to react negatively to any extreme argument and b) both sides make some valid claims.

But recently, I listened to a podcast from Culture Matters about The Tech-Wise Family by Andy Crouch. First, let me just say that Crouch has one of the most balanced and reasonable approaches to this topic that I’ve ever heard. He wrote this book (which I plan on reading) not because he saw his kids struggling, but because he say how technology was infiltrating his every day moments as an adult. He decided to consciously make some changes in his own home for the benefit of everyone – NOT just because he was a fear monger who was bemoaning “kids these days.”

I loved that he talked about technology use in general. The lessons he learned and the tips he offered are just as relevant to the single adult as they are to the mom raising little ones or the family with teenage kids.  Continue reading

DIY Essential Oil Bedwetting Relief Cream for Kids: The Results and the Recipe!

Several weeks ago, I shared on instagram that I found a DIY bedwetting relief cream that used essential oils to help kids stay dry at night. I was blown away by how many of you contacted me since then asking if the cream worked and wanting the recipe. If nothing else, I’m just glad to hear we aren’t the only family to have a kiddo who is fully potty trained by day (and has been for years), but still suffers from weekly night time bedwetting. In today’s post, I’ll be sharing the recipe I used, the results, AND, I’m partnering with Plant Therapy to bring you a 10% discount off of any oils you order from them now through May 19, so you’ll want to scroll to the end of the post to find out those details and get your oils for this recipe! Continue reading

Date Night With Theo

Last week, Theo made several mentions of wanting to go out together and spend some time alone with me. This is not a normal request, so I was instantly excited to make this happen. I told my husband that I wanted to go out on a “date” with Theo, and asked him to help me make it happen. Because my husband is an incredible dad and spouse, he immediately agreed and started prepping Theo on all things male dating etiquette.

Our date night rolled around, and while I was getting ready, Mike and Theo said they had to run into town for a quick errand. They returned home just as I was finishing getting dressed, and Mike took Theo into our bathroom to help him tuck in his shirt, style his hair with gel, and even spray on a little cologne. I came out to the living room to grab my purse, and when I looked up, there was my little boy: walking towards me looking so incredibly handsome and grown up, grinning from ear to ear with a bouquet of flowers in his hands. Processed with VSCO with a4 preset

I almost started crying then and there but I gave myself a quick pep talk and told myself to tighten up or we’d never make it through the night. Theo was practically bursting with pride and I didn’t want to ruin the moment with my momma-mushyness. I ooed and awed over the flowers, thanked him with a kiss him on the cheek, and grabbed his hand to head out.Processed with VSCO with a4 preset

We went to a local restaurant where Mike and I frequently go for dates. It is quiet and cozy and is the type of place where the staff greet you by name and make you feel right at home. We walked up to the hostess and asked for a booth for two and before she could even say “right this way,” Theo thrust his dad’s old wallet towards her (which I didn’t even know he had), and said “I’m paying!” Then he turned to me and whispered, “Do I give it to her now?”

For the love of all that is cute and soul-warming. I almost lost it right there.

I glanced at the hostess who was smiling at us and whispered to him, “Not yet. You can pay our waitress when we are done.”

He put the wallet back in his pocket and nodded a wise little nod and followed the hostess as she sat us at our table.

As we settled into our booth, Theo looked around and then back at me.

“Are you having a fun date with me?” he said.

“Baby, I’m having the absolute best time,” I said.

He smiled, settled back into his booth, and continued looking around. (He takes in everything about his surroundings. I know he has the inside of that place memorized!)

Theo knew what he wanted to order so the two of us gave our order to our waitress and then sat back to wait. He colored his coloring sheet and took out his little prize that he had been given when we first sat down. I asked him all kinds of questions and he answered without hesitating.

He told me that he wants to try wrestling. That he has no interest in soccer or t-ball or football. He told me who his best friends are at the moment. He told me he loves being home schooled because he can go to the bathroom whenever he wants. He told me he wants a dog so he can train it to drive a speedboat.

Heaven hold me, I could barely contain my joy at his sweetness and willingness to talk to his momma. We were laughing and talking and having fun and it was about the absolute best thing imaginable.

Our dinners arrived and he began eating at the rate of paint drying (he gets it honestly from his daddy who is a notorious slow eater). But he consistently (if not slowly) picked up bites of fries and chicken and, in between responses to more questions that I fired at him, managed to plow through an entire plate heaping with food. I was shocked and impressed.Processed with VSCO with a4 preset

I asked him how I was doing as a mom.

“Great!” he said.

“Are you sure?” I asked. “There isn’t anything you’d like me to work on?”

“Step one,” he said. “Hugs and kisses. Step two, love your child. Step three, teach them well. Step four, eat healthy food. Step five, do good things. Step six, have fun with your children.”

He went back to eating.

“What are those the steps to?” I asked.

“To being a good mom!” he replied.

“So…How am I doing at being a good mom? Do I need to improve on any of those steps?” I asked, a little nervous at what he might say.

“You are doing those,” he said!

*This is the point in the date where I started blubbering about how much I love him and how great of a kid I think he is. I couldn’t help myself. I mean COME ON.*

We had spent the earlier part of the day with friends and a big highlight had been collecting eggs from their chicken coop and getting to hold baby chicks. We had a great time, and I was curious what he loved the most about the experience.

“What was your favorite part about our day?” I asked.

“Right now!” he said.

*More blubbering on my part.*

We continued on in this way throughout dinner. He never stopped looking around, watching people and asking me questions about what he was seeing, and I kept asking him all the questions I could think of about who he is and what he likes and what he thinks about his life so far.

Random people would sneak glances at us through the night, catching my eye to smile at me or stopping by our table to compliment me on my handsome date.

“How do they know we are on a date?” he asked at one point, surprised to have been found out.

Our waitress came around with the dessert tray and he pointed to a huge slice of carrot cake. She came back with it on one plate, with two forks, and told us that someone paid for it.

“Someone was just so impressed with your sweet little date,” she explained. I beamed at Theo. He didn’t understand quite what that meant – but I sure did.

She placed the check near me but Theo reached for it as she turned to leave. Again, he pulled his dad’s old wallet out of his jacket pocket and studied the check. He pulled a $20 bill out of the wallet and asked if it was enough.

“I’m paying,” he said again.

I looked at the check and told him it was enough, and he closed the little book with a look of such pride and satisfaction that I could barely believe the little boy-man that sat before me. I felt like I was truly seeing my son in a whole new light. A beautiful, wonderful light. Processed with VSCO with a4 preset

Between mouthfuls of carrot cake he asked me if this could be our forever date spot and asked me not to bring his little brother here on a date.

“You can take Oliver somewhere else,” he said.

I told him I would. I told him this would always be our special spot.

And it will. Processed with VSCO with a4 presetProcessed with VSCO with a4 preset

An Online Resource With Educational Activities You’ll Actually Want To Do With Your Kids (And They Will Want To Do, Too!)

I am SO excited to share today’s post with you! I’ve partnered with education.com to bring you an educational activity prepared exclusively for His Girl Friday readers! Education.com is a fantastic online resource for parents and educators. They work with teachers to create thousands of educational activities, lessons and resources in reading, writing and math.

I’m so thrilled to have discovered this new resource. As a homeschooling momma, it’s nice to have a place to go for inspiration and help. But regardless of your child’s schooling situation, this is a site that offers plenty of resources to help boost their learning.

Today, we are bringing you an easy and FUN activity you can do with your kids that’s focused on math for first graders. Theo and I had a great time creating and playing this game. I loved the simplicity of the activity and that it combined art and math in such a fun way. Theo loved creating his own game board and thoroughly enjoyed playing the game. In fact, mid way through our activity, he told me, “This is a good game, mom!” So don’t just take my word for it – this is an authentic six year old approved activity. 😉 Enjoy! (And don’t forget to take a look at education.com’s site for other great educational resources!) Continue reading

The Problem With Goals

I attended this two day yoga workshop this weekend and received some tough love/much needed real talk that led to a light bulb moment that I’m still mulling over. This is not a post about yoga. This is a post about the problem with goals, or rather, how we set our goals. It just so happens that yoga was the vehicle that drove this point home for me. You don’t have to love or even care about yoga to relate to this post. My guess is, we’ve all experienced the downside of poor goal setting and could use the kind of real talk I experienced over the weekend. Or not. Your call. Either way, here goes!

So I have all these goals for my life, right? And sometimes, ok, most of the time, I get really frustrated with myself and my life and my lack of current progress in said goals. I get down right sour. Why am I not accomplishing these things? I say to myself. Why can’t I move forward in this area? I bemoan. Why do I suuuuuck? I cry and cry and cry.

I am very critical of myself. I get that. But also, I realized over the past weekend that I am a very poor goal setter. I’m unrealistic. I set the bar too high, expecting to jump from point A to Z without B-Y. Then, when I can’t leap the chasm between where I’m at and where I want to be immediately and with very little effort applied, I cry. I get angry. I beat myself up. I assume that I’m the worst ever and get really down in the dumps. And then, for the coup de grâce, I stay down in the dumps because I also happen to have a very strong will. This means that I won’t give up on said impossible goal, I simply run myself repeatedly into the proverbial brick wall and wonder why I’m so pathetic to not be able to tear down the wall. (Never mind you with your, “Haven’t you ever heard the definition of insanity?” Yes. Yes I have. And so have you but I bet there are things that youuu do over and over while expecting a different result each time so just step off, ok? We are in this together.)

Take yoga for example.

I have all these goals. Big goals. Little goals. But mostly just big goals.

This weekend at a yoga workshop, the instructor said something that blew my mind. She was walking around the room as we were working on some basic drills – like super basic – and said the following to everyone in the room:  Continue reading

Things I Know

There are things I know.

I know that mornings that start with coffee are better than mornings that don’t.

I know that taking the extra time to clean up the breakfast dishes sets the tone for the rest of the day.

I know that a little morning prep work for that evening’s dinner goes a long way.

I know that the sooner I can get all of us outside the better.

I know that walks and reading on a worn-in sheet and salty snacks that leave crumbs on our laps make everything a little more special.

I know that sunshine and Red Tail Hawk sitings and kicking off our shoes to let our toes feel the deep rich earth does something to our soul.

I know that leaving the dishes for an impromptu after-dinner walk with races through the back yard are the type of experiences that burn deep in the brain and are certain to become beloved memories in the not too distant future.

I know that thinking less about to-do lists or accomplishments or goals and just letting the moment sit with us like a gentle stranger can ease tension and relive fears. Continue reading

My Latest Food Obsessions: Smoked Salmon Bagels, Pickled Red Onions, and Cheese Boards

We love to eat around here, and we love to eat well. A grocery budget and hungry little mouths to feed don’t stop me from wanting to eat things that make my tastebuds soar. Here are a few of my latest food obsessions that I serve my family on repeat:

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A quick and semi-healthful breakfast or lunch –

We’ve enjoyed creating our own version of Lox breakfast sandwiches with ingredients that can be found at Aldi:

Seed bagels
cream cheese mixed with cracked pepper, dill, parsley, and garlic salt
arugula
sliced cucumber
sliced red onions (pickled are even better, see below!)
smoked salmon
a smattering of capers

Toast your bagel, fill your bagel, then enjoy! Continue reading

Currently

This list of things I’m currently enjoying is straight from my Happy Planner! I don’t ever fill it out, but I thought it would make a fun writing prompt. 🙂

LOVING:

It is finally warmer here in Ohio. Hallelujah! The sun was out today and I enjoyed two of my favorite things in the whole world – yoga and sunshine! Oh glory be. I feel so desperate for the nicer weather this year. This past winter felt so long and blahhhhh and cold and ALL OF THE GRAY THINGS. I love my kids so much, but when you are trapped inside with them 24-7, something inside of you starts to snap. Never underestimate the healing power of a momma, sitting in the sun, ignoring her kids’ whining.

EATING:

Aldi currently offers this pineapple poblano pepper guacamole. I’m not going to say it’s changed my life or anything, but if this guacamole were a person I would have already invited it to come live with us. I love it so much. I looooove it, you guys.

DRINKING:

The kids and I made dandelion lemonade the other day and it was a huge hit. It was fun to make, tasty to drink, and dandelions that have been steeped and turned into a beverage are incredibly good for you. “Dandelion blossoms steeped as tea can help relieve headaches, menstrual cramps, backaches, stomach aches and even depression.” (From LearningHerbs) The recipe that we used for our inspiration can be found here. You can also add any additional herbs or edible flowers to liven up your blend!

WATCHING:

I’m still working my way through Downton Abbey. I’m almost through season 6 and loving it. Mike and I only have two episodes left of News Room and I’m not sure I can emotionally take the ending of this show. It’s been such a powerful and inspirational show to watch, giving Mike and I lots of food for thought and great conversation starters. I’ve loved every minute of it.  Continue reading

The Joy of Motherhood

I heard someone say that the joy of motherhood comes in moments. That feels so true. There are such long stretches of work, sleeplessness, worry, and yes – frustration – but all of that can disappear in a moment. Those special little flashes of delight that make the harsh edges of the world go soft. In those moments, all the difficult things recede in the light of all that is glorious and good about being a mom. Joy. It’s pure joy. Not pure fun and games. But pure joy – absolutely.

Today my first born turns six. SIX!

They say that the days are long but the years are short. And honestly, I don’t feel any pressure in that statement the way I used to. I used to feel so overwhelmed when people would look at my kids – the same ones who had been making me want to pull my hair out all day – and say, “Oh, enjoy it! It goes by so fast.”

There are so many unenjoyable things about raising little ones that this felt like a judgement of the many things I wasn’t enjoying. Should I be enjoying the sleepless nights and the health struggles and the constant messes and the destructive energy and the willfulness that threatens my very existence? Do I HAVE to enjoy all that?

But now, I’ve made peace with this phrase, and all the people who tell me to “enjoy it.” I DO enjoy motherhood. I enjoy it a whole heck of a lot. But there are plenty of things about motherhood and each of my kids that drives me insane, and I embrace that too. I think I would be crazy not to feel this way — this is, after all, THE most all consuming, mind boggling, physically uncontrollable thing I’ve ever experienced.

I don’t face today with any sadness. Six has been hard fought. We’ve come along way to get here baby. So much work. So many tears. So many struggles. I feel proud of us to be here! We maaaaade it!

I also can think of about one billion moments that have made each year of six absolutely magical. Moments that make my heart grow three sizes and my eyes automatically close as I drink in the memories. Six years of hard work that felt hard, yes. But also, six years of unbelievably good moments from an unbelievably amazing kid.

Here are six of my favorite things about my first born. Continue reading