Thursday, December 27, 2012

New Year's Resolutions: What Will You Change Long Term?

As the year comes to an end, I’m reminded of the age old tradition of setting resolutions. Have you made one? Some of the most popular examples are losing weight, quitting smoking, joining a gym, saving more money, etc. 

A few years ago, rather than making a resolution, I began participating in 101 Goals in 1001 Days. I really liked the concept and I accomplished almost half my goals in the first year. The problem though is that 1001 days is almost three years long. A lot changes in three years. (Heck, in three years, I had two pregnancies, three kids, quit my career of almost 10 years, completely changed job industries, and now work from home!) 

A lot of the goals were simple or even silly things: taking the girls to go strawberry picking for the first time, touring new parts of our city, visiting family close by more often, etc. Then there were big “resolution” type goals like saving up an emergency fund, paying off debt, and remodeling things in the home.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Raising a Kind and Compassionate Child

By Lori

Max, going in for a hug.
With all of the hate in our world, I feel that raising children who are kind to one another is more important than ever. Instilling these qualities in your children is not a chore or a lecture. It is something you can do in your life every single day. The way you speak to your children, how you handle conflict, and your demeanor can shape your child into someone who is loving and kind. Here are some ways to raise a child that is confident, compassionate and happy:

Encourage kind behavior

Show your child how to treat things, and people, gently. If your child is rough, promote sweet behavior and physically lead by example. Show your child what it means to touch gently.  This has been a big one in our house. Max was not yet two when Halle came home from the hospital. We used the world "gentle" more than any word. Even though she is nearly 8 months old (and not quite as fragile), Max still says "gentle" and gives her a kiss every night before going to bed.

Enforce rules and structure

There is more to raising compassionate children than being a compassionate parent. Children need limits, and they need structure. Some behavior, such as pinching or hitting, is never okay. Limits are necessary to help children realize that their behavior, good or not so good, affects others.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Tales of a Pre-Term Laborer

By Maura

Life never seems to let us down in the surprise department, good bad or otherwise. Just a couple of weeks after receiving the wonderful surprise that I am having a son, I got a not so nice one thrown my way. 

My little man in 3-D
I was about 400 miles away from home, enjoying a nice long holiday weekend with my in-laws in Ohio. Somewhere between too much pumpkin pie, Black Friday shopping and chopping down our Christmas tree, my body decided to throw my easy pregnancy a curve ball. I was having stabbing pains in my lower abdomen, followed by waves of cramping pain.

My self-diagnosis led me to a bad UTI and I tried to flush it out with the usual excessive amounts of water and cranberry. After quite a few hours of pain, and no relief from the water, I decided to make my way to the emergency room.  The closest ER ended up not being the right place for us, but we were told that there was no bladder infection and that my cervix was soft and effaced; we were advised to head downtown to the Labor and Delivery triage. At this stage in the game I was becoming increasingly nervous, but was happily clinging to ignorance to stay calm.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The End of the World: Live a Little

If you are reading this, the world did not end. Are you relieved? What have you done in the last week to prepare? Stock up on groceries? Go on a fun family trip just in case this was the last one? Spend more money than you should? I’ll bet a lot of people did something they don’t normally do: lived a little! 

If you can take anything away from recent tragic events, it’s this: Act like the world is always ending.
I’m not talking about going crazy. Don’t liquidate all of your assets for an around the world cruise. Don’t do anything illegal or harmful. Don’t quit your job. Don’t eat three Big Macs. Acting like the world is ending doesn’t mean you have to jump off a cliff or lose your mind.

What I mean is simply this. No one gets taken for granted. Be a better wife. Be a better mom. Save Facebook for nap time. Get involved more. Put your phones and computers away while the kids are playing. Better yet, play with them. Stop obsessing about your to-do list. Blast the radio and dance around in your underwear. Visit your retired grandparents more often. Pay bills after bedtime. Do things every day so if it’s your very last, if the world ends tomorrow, you’ll have no regrets.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Traditions: A Mumbling Mommy Compilation

Every family has its own sets of traditions around the holiday season. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or just approach the season of joy in a secular fashion, it is hard to deny that it is the most wonderful time of the year. Here at Mumbling Mommy, we wanted to let you in on some of our most cherished holiday family traditions. We would love to hear yours too in the comment section.

Be blessed this holiday season!

By Lori

With two very little ones at home, we are just in the process of starting traditions that the kids will enjoy as they grow up over the years.  Some of our favorite family Christmas traditions include:

Stockings hung with care
·     Enjoying some of the classic Christmas shows as a family, including Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, A Charlie Brown Christmas, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, Mickey’s Christmas Carol and Frosty the Snowman.  I think we all remember watching these as children ourselves, and I still love them today!  And hope that my children will like growing up with these well-known Christmas shows.

·       -- Sneaking little things for all of the members of the family into the stockings.  It is fun to look over at our fireplace and see that someone’s stocking looks a little more full than the day before.  My husband and I both love picking out items for one another, and the kids and filling up the stockings.  In year’s to come, I think this will be tradition that the kids very much enjoy!

Handprint and footprint ornaments
·        -- Adding more ornaments to the Christmas tree.  We like to incorporate a new ornament related to both of the children every year.  We have made baby hand and footprint ornaments that are a very special keepsake for Max and Halle before their first Christmas, and I love seeing them hanging on the tree. I anticipate each year, we will add an ornament of the children’s choice relating to something they love.

·         -- Singing and Dancing to Christmas Music.  While I have to say, John and Halle don’t do much of the singing and dancing, they do happily watch Max and I partake.  There is nothing like listening to Christmas music and dancing with your 2-year-old! 

By Maura

Music always has a way of invoking strong feelings in me; whether it’s a song that reminds me of a fun night with friends, the one I danced to at my wedding, or a childhood holiday favorite. Every year at Christmas, my family would play “John Denver & the Muppets, A Christmas Together” while we decorated and opened presents. Seems like a small tradition, but to us it holds special meaning. And we play it on repeat. We listened to the record, then the CD and now I have the album on ITunes.  Another fun tradition was losing it nearly every year, and my parents having to buy it again!

Since I have married and moved away, I have spent less Christmas mornings with my family. We tend to travel to Ohio first and then make our way to Florida to ring in the New Year. Last year we went down for Thanksgiving instead, marking my first Christmas without them. This year, due to pregnancy travel restrictions, my husband and I will be spending our first yuletide morning just the two of us (ironically it is also the last with baby coming next spring).

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Doll House Hunters: The Search for a Christmas Present

By Rachael

Megan playing with my vintage Barbie shopping mall.
Every home buyer is looking for certain features that turn a plain old house into a dream home. When I started house hunting this past summer, I had a few ideas about what I wanted. The choices are endless.

I wanted something fairly large, not too pink, with at least two or three floors, one bathroom, a master bedroom, and a nursery.  A swimming pool or hot tub and a balcony would have been nice, too, but their absence would not be a deal breaker. Oh, and the house had to be proportioned to accommodate 12-inch dolls.

Yep. I was looking for a Barbie house.

A few weeks ago, I settled on the doll house of dreams. The box from Amazon arrived the other week and is sitting in the spare bedroom in our basement, awaiting assembly at the hands of my husband and my father-in law. The house will be a Christmas gift for my oldest daughter, Megan, who is almost 5 years old. Eventually, her 1-year-old sister, Abigail, will share the house. Their grandparents, my in-laws, generously offered to fund the gift.

Megan has a growing family of Barbie dolls, and she recently inherited a shopping mall, some furniture, and a few other Barbie doodads surviving from my childhood collection. The well-loved Barbie Dream Cottage my dolls inhabited when I was a kid was sold long ago, so Megan’s Barbies need a permanent home. I looked on Pinterest at all the homemade doll houses crafted from bookshelves. Then I came to my senses and admitted there is no shame in purchasing a ready-made doll house.

Monday, December 17, 2012

St. Jude Bracelet Winner

Congrats to @nijah28 -- the winner of our St. Jude Golden Anniversary bracelet!

For anyone else still interested in purchasing one, visit Pretty Colleen's Etsy site. A portion of the proceeds go directly to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

A big thank you to everyone that participated in our Season of Giving giveaways. We wish you and your family a blessed holiday season and new year!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Why Workplace Flexibility Makes Economic Sense

There are moms that work, and moms that stay at home. Then there are the moms that stay at home but carry a substantial workload on top of it. I am one of these hybrid WAHMs, waking with the little ones to pour bowls of cereal and sticking around the house to ask how school went at the end of the day. I do drop-offs, clean-ups, hand-holding, blogging and editing -- all in a day's work.

Work, stay home... or both?
My husband and I have toyed with the idea of me going "back to work" in a full-time, away-from-the-house sort of way but always arrive at the same conclusion: if I'm making enough money right here at the house, why mess up the system? Keeping me out of the workforce completely was never an option based on his salary and our combined bills.

My husband is also home a lot. He works in the evenings and on weekends (often from right here at home), freeing him up to help with the daily kid routine. 

Growing up, I always envisioned myself as a stay-at-home mom, probably because that is what my own mom did until I was a teenager. After earning a college degree, working a few years, and oh yeah, becoming a single mom -- my perspective on staying at home changed. 

I was fortunate enough to work in the office on a very minimal basis during the first 18 months of my daughter's life so I had the best of both worlds.

When faced with the choice to drop that flexible schedule for a full-time, in-office spot (that paid much better and was near my own parents), I took the new job. It was what was the best choice for my family (which was just my daughter and I) at the time and I did not feel guilty. I disliked the long hours in the office and the child care bills, but I knew that it was best for both of us.

That all changed when I got married and gained an insta-family overnight. I interviewed for a few jobs when I first moved following the wedding, some of which could have feasibly been done from home at least part-time, and turned them down when my request for flexible scheduling was denied. I had some freelance leads and some money saved up to get started down that path so I just went my own way.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

How to Instill Healthy Eating Habits

By Lori

My son, Max, enjoying cheese pizza, bananas, and corn.
We’ve all been there … 

Your child is whining for snacks, you’re trying to fold laundry, the phone is ringing, and the baby is crying. So you grab a box of Cheez-Its or a Pop Tart and serve it to your toddler. Not a huge deal, right? 

In moderation, sweets and other calorie-dense treats are not a big deal for most children. However, it is a good idea to balance the good food and the less healthy food, and focus on serving right-sized portions.

After studying Wellness in college and spending most of my 20s working in the healthcare industry, of course it makes sense I would try to practice what I preach in my home life. As an adult, I have learned that what you eat has a direct effect on how you feel. This, along with the rising prevalence of childhood obesity and diabetes, is why I choose to try to eat healthy and to have nutritious foods on hand at home at all times.  

As the grocery shopper and the one who cooks the majority of the meals, this job falls under my list of responsibilities. By teaching my children that eating healthy is fun, and that nutritious food tastes good, I feel like I am doing one of the many things I can to prepare them for adulthood.

Why is nutrition important for young children?

Children need nutritious foods to support their health, growth, and development. The dietary habits of children are largely formed by the age of 5, so start supporting healthy habits from the get-go. Children who eat nutritious foods have more than just a healthier body. They have a healthier mind.

Fear of New Foods
Children have an innate phobia of trying new foods. Help children overcome food neophobia by supporting them as they become more comfortable with new foods. Expose them to a food numerous times to help change their reaction. In order for a child to accept a new food, research has shown the child needs to see the food between 8 and 12 times, but do not be surprised if it takes up to 50 times before your child will try a new food. To help children become more comfortable with foods, find ways to let them help cook or prepare the food.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Gift Guide: Buying for Two

As the holidays quickly approach, here are a few tips on gift buying for multiples (twins, triplets, etc.) or even two children close in age. In general, you need to remember, especially when it comes to buying gifts for multiples, is that they are not a packaged set. They are two (or more) different people and deserve to be treated as such.

1. Matching outfits are adorable. I have identical twins. I love 

dressing them alike. I love when they match. I love when they are wearing the exact same thing. But that is just me. Before buying two of the same outfits for a set of twins, make sure that’s what the parents like.

2. Buying a sharable gift is okay as long as it is in fact sharable. This Leap Frog activity table is a great example of a good gift idea. It’s a little more expensive than what you would spend on just one child but a perfect cost for two children. It has multiple sides so the kids can play at the table at the same time. A collection of books is another great idea. We wrapped up 12 Indestructibles books for both girls to share. They can play independently from each other with lots of options or they can read them together.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Six Months of Raising a High Needs Baby: Lessons I Learn

By Katie

I had my second child in May and I was excited to be a mommy to another beautiful little girl. In between my first and second babies, I became a step-mom to another little girl and a boy. I was ready for parenting a fourth – especially with the support of my husband and other kiddos.

I expected the usual up-all-night sessions, spit up stains and other unpleasant surprises that come with the newborn territory. I had been through it once before, after all. I was not prepared for the extreme newborn version that I faced in the form of a high needs baby. These little ones exhibit the typical newborn traits on steroid-like levels. 

In my case, my daughter was incredibly mommy-centric, completely melting down if I handed her off for ten minutes to take a shower. I spent some time trying to “fix” these perceived problems before I did a little research and decided to change my own thinking instead. 

Many message boards and articles about high needs babies say that the hardest months are the first six (this applies to all babies). After that, high needs kids start to feel out a little more independence, if cautiously. Now that my little girl has passed the six month point, I’d say those forums I scoured in the early days were correct. While she is still very mom-centric, she is finding freedom in her own mobility (crawling already – ay yi yi) and seems to forget about me for brief moments in time.  

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Thursday Three: Children's Gift Exchange Ideas

Christmas gift exchanges are an annual highlight among school kids. I still remember some of the treats and trinkets I received during my younger days. There were earrings, small stuffed animals, a cat figurine, and the ubiquitous holiday-themed socks. My favorite gift was a package of Lip Smacker chap sticks I received during my Girl Scout troop’s gift exchange when I was in fifth grade. Those chap sticks came packaged in a clear tube with a lid made out of a red plastic reindeer head. It was an awesome gift for a 10-year-old.
What will you give this year?

This year, my oldest daughter is poised to participate in her first Christmas gift exchange. She drew a name in her preschool class last week, and we are now on the hunt for a $2 gift for a little boy. I know much of the fun comes from letting my daughter select a gift on her own. Yet, the parent in me wants to encourage some level of practicality. It’s easy for a lot of cheap junk to find its way into the house during the holidays, and I’d prefer not to do that to other parents.

So as my daughter and I head out to the dollar store, here are some gift ideas we’ll try to keep in mind.  

1.       Consumable gifts. These are gifts that can be used up, eaten, or otherwise made to disappear over time. They are the ultimate anti-clutter gifts. Items in this category include lip balm, bubble bath, body wash, hand soap, bath crayons, hand sanitizer, lotion, nail polish, bubbles, character-themed band-aids (Dora, Cars, etc.), character-themed toothbrush and toothpaste, temporary tattoos, sidewalk chalk, movie tickets, fast food gift cards, and hot chocolate mix.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Baby Wearing: So Much More than Convenient

By Lori

While expecting my first child Max, I created my long list of baby must-haves.  John and I shopped, gifts poured in from our generous friends and family and we welcomed hand-me-downs.  My sister gave us several big-ticket items and actually passed me two of her baby carriers, the Bjorn and the Ergo (lucky us!). 
The carriers have definitely been put to good use.  I had not put much thought into the types of carriers that were available prior to her passing them my way.  But after receiving the carriers from her and watching the accompanying DVD of directions, I decided I was interested in attachment parenting.

I read up on the philosophy.  Hands down, I realized that baby carriers -- the Bjorn, the Ergo, the Moby, whichever you prefer -- are amazing in more ways than one. Blogger Rachael included a baby carrier or sling in her list of her top five baby gear picks, and I definitely agree.

Here are some other reasons, besides simply convenience, to let your little one ride in a carrier:
·         Promotes physical development: When a baby rides in a sling, he or she is in tune with the rhythm of mom’s breathing, heartbeat and the movements she makes.  The sling is comparable to a ‘womb’ for the new baby who still is unable to control his or her body.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Preschool Pick Up and Drop Off: Are you a Shiny Mom?

By Heather Novak

Do I care what that other mom thinks?  You know, the one whose freakishly adorable daughter trollops on into the preschool classroom with a  cute (new one owner only, low miles) outfit with matching hair bow or 'do dads' in a (not only brushed but styled too!) hair do?  

What does that painfully pretty, well made up, nicely attired and smiling mama think of me and my girls as we stumble into the building barely on time. (But dressed, which may be lucky, yes?)  Did she hear the f bomb I dropped as I also dropped my keys?  Again?  Did she recognize that whatever my girls are wearing was worn by someone else? (A few times!)  

Does she feel obligated to take up a collection to buy me a hairbrush, since I have yet to manage my older daughter's wonderfully energetic hair?    (The other day at the breakfast table she had a ponytail in and I started to compliment my husband for 'doing' her hair...he clarified she slept in that was left over from the day before.  Oh.  Well...)

When our preschool bucket has stickers hot glued to it because the awesome glitter spray paint I started with kept them from adhering....but other moms have painted themes, beribboned bucket handles, wonderful creativity...
And don't even get me started about the time I was late to pick Portia up.

I'm a wildcard.  I like myself.  I do not let my kids disrespect me, they are usually well behaved and dressed nicely half the time.  I get my shower and coffee and me time.  I like how I mother and think I am doing just fine.

But I wonder what the other moms think.  I do. 

I care.  Even as confident as I am in who I have become in my life...I worry about what other people think of me, my life and my two girls.  I wonder if I come across as arrogant or a VOA (Voice. Of. Authority.) when it comes to parenting.  I always offer unrequested is just the way I am and I only mean to help.  I worry it makes people not want to be around me.
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