Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Away in a Manger

Submitted by Rachael




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Monday, December 15, 2014

Holiday Stress Survival Guide: 6 Tips to Enjoy the Season


My family and I are off to a rough start health-wise this holiday season. Our family spent the middle of November fighting off a tummy bug. Then we traveled to celebrate Thanksgiving and came back with bad colds and fevers that have slowly made their way from one person to the next. I feel like the last few weeks have been a blur.

Finally, the house is (almost) healthy and we have all of our decorations up. I have been so excited for Christmas with my children this year (ages 4 and 2 1/2) and I feel like the stress and go-go-go mantra that is my life has made it tricky to relish the joy this month brings and what it means to me. I am confident I am not the only one who feels the stress that accompanies the joyous season. In order to relax and enjoy yourself this year, consider these six ways to survive the stress of the busy months.

Max and his Great Grandpa Vincent
in Evansville.
Plan in advance when you will visit (or host) family.
It can be hard when you have countless places to visit during the holiday season. While all of our family lives in Indiana, the same state where we live, we still have several places to visit that seem to be in opposite directions. We want to see my husband's aging grandparents who cannot drive to attend the family Christmases, both of my divorced parents, and the rest of the family spread through the state. Therefore, we log a lot of miles during the month of December.

To help make a plan and make sure you get to see everyone you love, set a date with your calendar and decide when you plan to visit each family. Double check to make sure the time works for them. This helps you control when you visit and ensures you see everyone you want and need to see instead of worrying about it.

Put you and your family on the calendar, too.
I made it a point to sit down with my paper calendar and write everything down to help myself relax. The days of December are full of holiday-related events to attend and places I want to take the kids (a local Christmas light show, the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, downtown where Santa sits in his house, and so on). The calendar also has work deadlines and appointments and play dates. I like to see everything all in one place. I also penciled in a time or two for me to get out for a few minutes alone. 

Keep your spending within your budget.
Nothing is cheap today, that is for sure. I don’t want to be known as the cheap family member, but I also don’t want to break our budget by going on holiday shopping sprees. We do a lot of our shopping on Amazon and use coupons when possible. Our children are young, so they will both get four or five gifts (from us), and I know they will be satisfied. On one side of the family, we cap a budget of $30 per family, so we may buy a game and a Blu-ray for one family instead of buying individual gifts for everyone (my sister has five kids!). It seems to work quite well. The last thing anyone wants to do is accrue debt and spend January and February paying it off.

Avoid hectic holiday shopping.
While you cannot control what gifts are on your loved one's wish lists, you can prepare yourself. Ask for lists early and buy some gifts for people ahead of time before the shopping season is in full swing.
Photo courtesy: flickr.com
Consider shopping online – I am a big fan of Amazon.com and I have found they tend to have the best prices anyway. Or support local small businesses by buying from friends with etsy sites.

Ask for help.
When you have jobs, children, a house to run, sick kids, and normal daily activities to keep up with, it can be hard and overwhelming to manage it all. In fact, just a few weeks ago we missed a birthday party because I was confused about the date (lots to keep track of!). Add in fulfilling shopping lists, decorating the house, wrapping presents, and driving out of town to enjoy time with family, and it is easy to become bogged down by activities that should be fun. Don’t be afraid to ask your spouse, a friend or loved one for help. Or at least vent to them! The holidays shouldn’t be a time you dread.

Don’t be afraid to say no.
This is a hard one, I realize, but it doesn’t have to be. If you have people trying to crash your place around the holidays or have friends begging you to pick them up at the airport at 2 a.m., tell them 'no.' It’s normal to have extra things to do around the holidays, but don’t feel like you have to say yes to every single invite and request that comes your way. Sometimes saying 'no' is the nicest thing you can do for yourself.


This holiday season, don’t be a Scrooge. It’s common to feel overwhelmed with the long lists of things to do, but remember to relax, take a deep breath and smell the gingerbread. 

Lori is a work-at-home mom living in Noblesville, a suburb of Indianapolis. She is mom to two children ages 4 and 2 and enjoys watching them grow and learn. Lori enjoys taking walks, shopping, spending time with her husband and kids, reading, and taking pictures of her kids (but she's just an amateur!). She loves traveling and would love to see every inch of this world someday. Leave her a comment below or e-mail her at mumblingmommy@mumblingmommy.com.

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Boredom-Busting Activities for Winter Break

By Heather C. -- 


My kids snuggled up for a holiday movie
Christmas is quickly approaching, which means school-aged children everywhere will be out of class (and bored!) for two or more weeks very, very soon. If you are a stay-at-home mom like myself, you may be wondering what kinds of things you can do with your kids to make sure they don't drive you crazy. 

You'll want to be sure to read about these fun indoor activities from Lori. Even though they are geared toward preschoolers and toddlers, I'm betting your first, second and third graders will still get a kick out of them. Their brains work so hard during school, it's nice to get this break by doing more "baby" like projects with them. Here are five additional things you can do with your kids during this school break:

1. Teach about charity and giving: There are so many ways to get involved during the holiday season. If you can't donate time, try adopting a family so kids in need can experience the joy of Christmas, too. This is a great time to talk to your children about being selfless.

2. Finish homework early: My daughter is only in kindergarten, but so far there has not been a single break or even weekend without homework. Over Thanksgiving break, she had to do a book report! The days of Winter Break being an actual break are long past. There are a few days before the holidays before things get crazy. Use these days while school is still fresh on their minds to get school work done so you aren't rushing on the last Sunday of break to get it all done. Your break will be much more relaxing if homework is out of the way early.

3. Do a fun challenge: Kids love competition. Challenge them with silly Winter Break rules. An example could be that you won't watch the same movie more than one time over the whole two weeks. This will help bring out other fun favorites and keep you from watching Frozen on replay until the DVD literally stops working. Try a reading challenge. If they read 5, 10, or 20 books over break (depending on their ages), they'll get a special ice cream treat. 

4. Refer to Pinterest: If you search for home school and your child's grade or age you will find an abundance of projects you can work on with your children. You will find learning worksheets, crafts, book recommendations, and so much more. If you've never taken a stab at home schooling, it's okay. There is no pressure. You just do what feels nature and have fun with it. 

5. Cook with your kids: Heading to a holiday party tonight and need your kids off your back? Have them help with the casserole, side dish or dessert you planned on making anyway. Kids LOVE to cook. They love stirring and measuring and licking the spoons. The good news is people tend to think it's adorable to eat cookies that kids decorated. There is just something about them that tastes merrier. Be safe with the oven or stove stop cooking but otherwise, what's the harm? (Need recipe ideas? How about a homemade Chex Mix?)

I don't know about you, but I'm really looking forward to my daughter getting more time at home with me. I've missed her this school year. Even though I understand the sentiment of "If I hear, 'I'm bored!' one more time I may pull out all my hair," I am trying hard this year to embrace the time and plan ahead to combat the boredom. These moments count the most because they won't always be looking to you as the person they want to hang out with the most. Enjoy it now while you can. 


Heather C. owns and writes for the blog Our Magical Chaos. She uses the lessons her kids teach her to take each day at a time and embrace the twists life throws at her. Being a parent is what she knows best. Our Magical Chaos features stories, product reviews, and tips for parents just trying to make it through. You can like Our Magical Chaos on Facebook or follow Heather on Twitter. Heather is also a freelance writer and runner. She specializes in parenting girls, all things twins, and keeping her family happy.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Graham Cracker Nativity: A Gingerbread House Alternative


By Rachael

I enjoy trying crafty projects with my kids during the holidays. Over the years, we’ve made gingerbread houses, snowman cake pops, and Christmas-themed Rice Krispie treat houses. (They were all kits I purchased at Aldi. I like easy stuff.) A few years ago, I did something a little different and made an edible nativity scene using instructions from aokcorral.com. It was easy (Have I mentioned I like easy stuff?). It also left us with random extra pieces of candy that were fun to eat. This is a good project for your family at home or for kids at church.

The stable is made from graham crackers held together with frosting. The people are made from gumdrops topped with small pieces of Fruit Rollups. The sheep are made from marshmallows and licorice, and the donkey is a Snickers candy bar with Tootsie Rolls for legs, neck and head.

A complete list of materials needed for this project can be found here.

Instructions for assembling the graham cracker stable, marshmallow sheep, candy donkey, and gumdrop people are found here. There are lots of pictures to help you figure it all out. Make sure you have a sturdy tray or large plate on which to construct your nativity scene.

If you want a few more embellishments on this design, go here to get ideas for fancy wise men and a manger that includes candy canes

If you want a simpler nativity scene, go here for directions to make one using animal crackers and Keebler cookies.

Merry Christmas, and enjoy!

Rachael is associate editor for Mumbling Mommy. She previously worked as a newspaper editor and has a bachelor's degree in English and writing from Indiana Wesleyan University. When she’s not busy with her husband and two daughters, you’ll find her gardening, cooking, singing with ladies from church, or reading Charlotte Bronte novels. You can contact her by e-mailing Rachael@mumblingmommy.com.

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While you’re here, you may enjoy these other posts: 


Favorite children's Christmas books

Overwhelmed by Christmas gifts

How to make a difference during the holidays

Sunday, December 7, 2014

What We Get Wrong about Newborns

By Katie --

My beautiful daughter Teagan was born on November 4th, the newest addition to our combined family of seven people. Teagan is my third biological child and I was interested to see what kind of baby she would be, compared to my others. My first was an amiable baby, with limited fussiness and not many tummy issues when I was breastfeeding. My second was the opposite -- a crying, gassy mess who I eventually determined was a high-needs baby (and is now a n intense toddler). So far, Teagan is somewhere in between. She has her gassy, fussy moments and seems to prefer being held or worn to bouncey seats or swings -- but she is easily soothed and sleeps a lot.



Though this is my third round caring for and breastfeeding an infant, I find that I'm still looking a lot of things up. An analysis of my Google history would show searches for things like "breastfeeding and broccoli" and "how much caffeine is safe when breastfeeding" and "how much should my one month old be sleeping." It's only been a little over 2 years since my Erinn was an infant, but I've already forgotten all the rules and milestones. It's coming back to me though, slowly but surely.

After a fussy afternoon earlier this week, I mentioned it to my friend Maddie. She reminded me of the book The Happiest Baby on the Block and the concept of the 4th Trimester. Never heard of the 4th Trimester?

According to author Dr. Harvey Karp, it goes something like this: Babies are born about three months before they are ready for the world. When they come out, their digestion is not up to par, they don't know how to sleep like normal humans and they are (obviously) helpless and dependent on their parents and caregivers. Babies are not supposed to sleep through the night at a few weeks' old, and they are biologically wired to spit up/be gassy when they eat breastmilk or formula.

Do some babies sleep well early on? Sure. Are some babies never troubled after they eat (allowing those moms to eat onions, spicy foods and chug coffee)? Yep. They exist too. But by and large, newborn babies are just not developed enough to be "easy." The idea that from the moment our kids are born we should be trying to normalize them, and our own lives, quickly is not only unattainable, it's unhealthy.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

10 Fun (and Affordable) Family Christmas Activities

By Lori --


The month of December is always enjoyable for me, even as an adult. I love seeing the excitement the holiday season brings my kids, too, as we spend time together making memories and having fun. Here are ten activities we enjoy as a family (or plan to try this year for this first time!):  
Go on a holiday lights drive.
We put up some Christmas lights at our home, but they are pretty tame. Spend one evening driving around in the car, with the Christmas music turned up and check out the Christmas lights displayed around your town and nearby neighborhoods. We live near our city’s downtown, and in front of the courthouse is where Santa comes to visit every holiday season. The front lawn has a sleigh with reindeer, a wooden Santa and Mrs. Claus, and Santa’s house – a small red house complete with a mailbox out front to send Santa Christmas wish lists. The kids love driving past it, and in a couple weeks, we’ll go back and actually visit Santa!

Enjoy Christmas classics from your very own home.
Set aside a few evenings during the season and let different members of the family choose a Christmas movie or TV show such as A Charlie Brown Christmas, Frosty the Snowman or Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Sip some hot cocoa or eat some buttery popcorn and enjoy.

Play in the snow.
If the area of the country where you live has white Christmases, this idea is a solid one. Get outdoors and play! Bundle up and pull out the sleds or make some snow forts! Get a carrot stick and a hat and make a snowman! If possible, your family could even go ice skating. The snowy days really are magical if you can get outside and enjoy the weather.

Max enjoying Rudolph
the Red Nosed Reindeer.
Read Christmas stories.
We have a lot of Christmas books that my children adore. Their favorite is Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer - they really like the Abominable Snow Monster!

If you don't have Christmas books at home, the library is also stocked with Christmas books and, obviously, they are free! Help kids grow their love of reading by encouraging them to read books they enjoy.

 Bake Christmas cookies.
Gingerbread men! Sugar cookies! Peanut butter blossoms! Children of all ages can help out in the kitchen on “cookie day.” Younger kids can help add pre-measured ingredients, stir the dough and decorate the cookies. Let your kids top the cookies with icing, sprinkles and other sugary treats. Christmas cookies are one of many gift ideas to save money on Christmas, too.

Send Christmas cards.
This time of the year, many of us love to send out Christmas cards to our friends and family. Encourage your kids draw pictures to include with the card, or help you put stamps on the envelopes and take them out to your mailbox. 

Decorate a gingerbread house.
You can find templates online to help guide you to build a gingerbread house from scratch – or most stores have pre-baked kits for sale if that’s more your cup of cocoa. Use a variety of icing colors, hard candies and licorice to build a fun, bright and delicious-looking gingerbread house. 

Make homemade hot cocoa.
Hot chocolate!
Photo credit: flickr.com
To make enough for 12 servings:
Combine 1 cup sugar, 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, ½ cup mini semisweet chocolate chips and ½ teaspoon salt. Mix well. Warm 8 ounces of milk for each cup of hot cocoa. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of the mix into each cup of milk. Top with whipped cream or marshmallows or serve with a candy cane.

Celebrate Christmas past.
Pull out photographs of past holidays and see what mom and dad looked like as kids, or even just peruse pictures from a year or two ago. If you have videos from Christmas, watch those, too. You can even start a memory box with a note from each family member with their Christmas wish for the next year and read those together.

Make paper snowflakes.

It’s time to get crafty! While some of us may dream of a white Christmas, the weather doesn’t always cooperate. Paper snowflakes are easy to make and a great way to add some white to your Christmas trees. Once you complete your snowflakes, you can decorate them with glitter or whatever your creative little one desires. This will give your Christmas tree a homey touch.

Lori is a work-at-home mom living in Noblesville, a suburb of Indianapolis. She is mom to two children ages 4 and 2 and enjoys watching them grow and learn. Lori enjoys taking walks, shopping, spending time with her husband and kids, reading, and taking pictures of her kids (but she's just an amateur!). She loves traveling and would love to see every inch of this world someday. Leave her a comment below or e-mail her at mumblingmommy@mumblingmommy.com.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Sister Secrets

Submitted by Heather C.


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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

News Flash: To Become a Mom, Most of Us Were Nude

Photo Taken by Prestige Photo STL
By Heather C. --

Did that title grab your attention? Good. Take a seat because here I go. I recently read this article about Kim Kardashian and her decision to pose nude. Was it attention seeking? Surely. Am I a fan of Kim K in any other situation? Not even a little bit. But here I am, finding myself defending her. Gah!

That’s right, I am DEFENDING HER. She is being attacked as a horrible mother because she posed nude. (Trust me, she was attacked for far more things too, but I’m trying to stay on topic.) Here are just some of the comments (all from the article linked above):

“I normally don’t. But … you’re someone’s mother …”

“Kim Kardashian is trashy. Why are you still doing nude photo shoots when you’re a mom?”

“Wow I didn’t realize Kim Kardashian went full frontal nude in Paper Magazine ... Bit trashy. She prides herself on being such a good mom, ha.”

“Of course Kim has every right to take these pictures. She’s an adult and it’s her body and she gets to make her own decisions. But could she really reprimand her daughter if she did something similar? Teens are often highly vigilant for any hypocrisy in adults.”

“I'm not here to criticize Kim, but as a mother, I was expecting more from her. I don't think she's a bad parent, she just need to make better decisions.

“Hopefully the Nanny that is raising the baby will be a positive role model for her.

Harsh much?

Here’s the deal, people. I have three kids. In order to conceive them, I was naked. My oldest daughter is 5 years old and regularly takes showers with me now instead of baths with her sisters. Guess what? She sees me naked. I breastfed all three of my daughters and even if I covered up for strangers, my girls still saw the nakedness. And furthermore, I had nude boudoir-style photos taken this past summer as a way to feel sexy again as a mom. Because let’s face it: motherhood is not always that glamorous.

There are simply too many reasons why Kim posing nude for a magazine has nothing to do with her ability to be a mom and why it’s not even a big deal. Women pose nude for magazines All. The. Time. Many are moms. Many pose nude pregnant. There is even an entire movement (albeit with a completely different motive.) by 4th Trimester Bodies Project getting moms to come forward to pose in all shapes and sizes. And they are NUDE!

Society seriously needs to get over its obsession with nudity. Sexuality is something that needs to be expressed and embraced and loved, and too much of this kind of nonsense is causing moms to fall into some kind of stereotype where they are instantly judged as a tramp for wearing short shorts. Gosh, did I just become a feminist?

Dress (or take off your clothes) however you choose. I’m not here to tell anyone to go flash her neighbor. But you absolutely do NOT have the right to judge another person for the decisions she makes with her own body.

Nudity and motherhood have only one thing in common: creation.

Heather C. owns and writes for the blog Our Magical Chaos. She uses the lessons her kids teach her to take each day at a time and embrace the twists life throws at her. Being a parent is what she knows best. Our Magical Chaos features stories, product reviews, and tips for parents just trying to make it through. You can like Our Magical Chaos on Facebook or follow Heather on Twitter. Heather is also a freelance writer and runner. She specializes in parenting girls, all things twins, and keeping her family happy.

First time here? Like Mumbling Mommy on Facebook to continue the conversation.

While you are here, you might also enjoy these posts:

World Breastfeeding Week: Hold the Cover, Please

Mamas: Do You Know Where Your Breasts Are?

Beyond Baby-Making: Sex after Your Family is Complete

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