Fast and Easy Pumpkin Favors

pumpkin theme

My second son’s first birthday was right before Halloween. This made planning a theme pretty easy. Pumpkin favors anyone?

Actually my idea for the favors came a year ago. I remember the bliss (seriously!) of lying in the hospital and watching TV. It was like being at a hotel that came with its own babysitter.

The Pioneer Woman was on and I was captivated by her and her candy coated marshmallow pops. That’s when this idea was born.

If you have a pumpkin themed party coming up, you might want to try it.

pumpkin birthday

Here’s what you need:

  1. a bag of marshmallows
  2. orange candy melts (I got mine from Walmart)
  3. lollipop sticks
  4. candy eyes (All the rage, and also from Walmart)
  5. black edible pen (Another Walmart find)

Pumpkin party

Here’s what you do:

  1. Melt the candies either by microwaving or I put a glass bowl over a pot of boiling water that I later simmered.
  2. Put a little of the candy melt atop the stick so the marshmallow adheres to it.
  3. Dip the marshmallow.
  4. Stick eyes on it.
  5. Let it cool either by sitting out, putting it in the fridge or freezer.
  6. And then draw a mouth.

That’s it!

pumpkin favor

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Spiritual Lessons in the Parenthood Trenches

creativity

There are things you learn as a parent you couldn’t possibly learn without kids. Funny things. Gross things. Things that if you allow yourself to be fully open and awake, can change your world forever. Things like…

Thou Shall Feel Guilt

but do it anyway.

Everything you do or don’t do will be scrutinized. It will be judged by others and worse by you. You will for a period of time try to do everything so that no one will hurt you, but it won’t work. Or it will for awhile and you will live a shell of an existence.

If you want to pursue a passion, you will probably feel guilt. That is because you love your kids more than your arm. But give all of yourself and you will be a dry and empty well. You will want to offer your children hope and possibility, but having stifled yourself all you will have is the bread crumbs of a lost dream.

I heard this quote from author AS Byatt in Liz Gilbert’s Magic Lessons podcast and found it in this The Guardian interview:

“I think of writing simply in terms of pleasure. It’s the most important thing in my life, making things. Much as I love my husband and my children, I love them only because I am the person who makes these things.”

And Thou Shall Be Better for It

Saying motherhood changed me is in understatement. It’s the painful cracking open that made me realize I was doing more than wiping butts and feeding babies. For a long time, I believed that my children and everything that came with them was keeping me from the work of my life. One day, I dreamily thought to myself, one day they will be in school full-time and I will have time to write that book. I will have time to be a health coach. I will get to paint that picture.

That’s because the successful people I was reading and listening about only accomplished things when their kids were grown. I thought I had to suffer like a martyr and sacrifice, waiting to truly live my life.

And then I realized that they are the work. If I am attentive, if I can take care of myself, if I can learn to love and forgive myself, if I stay open when I am scared and doubt filled, if I can stay present, I will have accomplished what I dreamed about during those childless days working in a cubicle. All I wanted when I worked in that 9-5 job was a meaningful life. Your dreams sometimes come in a different package than you expect it.

Being a mother isn’t keeping me from my life. It’s pruning me for the life of my dreams. It’s a multidimensional season this parentdom. It’s stark and isolating as winter and as love giving and fruitful as spring. I have two young kids which means my time is limited. But that time is filled with precious moments of presence and laughter, and anguish and pain, all heightened because children make it so.

It is a gift you know. You might not feel it while wiping a butt, cheek, or smirk off your toddler’s face. But they are teaching you. They are teaching you that they matter, you matter, and that this moment matters. They are teaching you about the grim valleys where moments feel grueling cause they are filled with unlimited monotonous tasks like washing things. But in those valleys there is also time for rest, dreaming and being alive. They also remind us that creativity is important and what we do is important, more than what we teach.

There will be sad faces, and lots of guilty places when we take time to write, paint or read. Or there will be sacrifices to be made-favorite TV shows and sleep being switched out for our important personal work. But it all matters. You don’t have to give up your dreams. You only need to let life mold you so you have the knowledge, energy and love to push it forward.

Use your time to create the life you love by being fully present in every moment. Don’t wish away the time. Don’t spend it in jealousy on Facebook. Just keep being present. Just keep spending your precious free time doing what makes you better.

That’s the way you stay sane.

That’s the way you curate a well-lived life.

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Mourning Motherhood

Motherhood transformationMotherhood strips everything away. You leave humility behind in pregnancy and there’s no going back.

The person you are now is a thin shadow of who you thought you were. You may have spent a substantial amount of your adulthood figuring out your identity. That’s discarded when you become a parent. You’re forced to say goodbye to all the superficial things you thought comprised your core self. It’s a earth-shattering kind of thing that will change you in a good way forever.

There are the clothes you used to wear post-baby you will never ever wear again.

There are the jobs you won’t get because employers and clients can smell a sleep-deprived mother thousands of miles away.

There are the interests that used to define who you were, but you no longer have time for.

There are the friends that grow weary of hearing baby talk or rescheduling their lives to accommodate yours.

There are the beliefs you used to have: “I’ll never be that lenient/hard as a parent. I would never look that disheveled. I will never be that parent.”

But with everything that’s taken away from you-there is something that comes in its place.

Through the cracks of who you once were, there is a stronger, braver, more authentic you. When you are forced to leave behind the person you once were with all of her demands and expectations, you become a soft, vulnerable heart that suddenly understands the world’s ache.

Here’s what happens:

If you allow your children to change you, other people’s stuff won’t affect you in the same way. You will grow compassion for the mother that’s super slow in the grocery line. You won’t even wince when someone is rude. You will have saved your energy for the things that truly matter.

Because your time is so precious and valuable, you will willingly let go of friendships that don’t serve you. You will give up jobs you thought were necessary for your self-worth. You will want more for yourself the way you want the world for your children.

You may even grow forgiveness for your parents.

Children are our mirrors. They remind us that we are responsible for our own actions. They teach us that presence is the greatest present there is. They re-awaken the part of us that always knew that time is our most valuable resource.

If we see our own longings, frustrations and inner issues through their tantrums, cries and rebellions, we will be better changed for it. We are wounded children ourselves trying desperately to heal so we can become the parents we needed.

Children give us that second chance.

What I once thought was a sacrifice, I now realize was a blessing.

Yes there is a painful shedding and mourning of the old shell.

The person that arises aware that our children are here to teach us and not the other way around, will triumphant and so will the world.

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Quick and Easy Organizing Tips

Whenever I’m pinching my fingers to close a stroller or frantically searching for a cover from one of the gazillion bottles my sons have, I secretly scorn the creator. Who would think of things that make a mom’s life harder?!

And that’s when I look for ways to make my life easier. Here are two things I discovered that I am happy to pass on to any mom who could use a little ease and convenience in her life.

  1. Multipurpose your trays. When trays were in, I bought three. Besides using them to sort papers, I found this to be a great kitchen organizer. Now all my miscellaneous doodads aren’t all splayed over the countertops.

Tray organizer

 

2. Finally organize those kid plates. I started collecting toddler dishes and kid plates up the wazoo. Then, I thought about how my life would be so much nicer if a domino of plates didn’t hit me in the eye every time a baby screamed for food. I originally bought this pot and lid organizer to file papers in the office. But it is candy for the eyes as a plate organizer.

Kitchen organizer solution

Do you have any tips that would help a fellow mom out? Share them here!

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Surviving Airplane Travel With a Toddler and an Infant

Payton drawing

I’m fresh off of my ten day trip and wanted to share what helped ease the pain of traveling with two babies.

I scoured the internet for weeks before my vacation. I found information on air travel with a toddler and air travel with an infant, but none for both. Maybe because many parents would rather avoid traveling until their babies are older. But I’m glad I took a risk. It turned out way less scary than I imagined.

Prepping + low expectations + luck = pretty painless trip

While I’m no way close to being an expert, I did learn a few things that may help you tote your tots:

  1. Read Busy Toddler Happy Mom’s Traveling with Toddlers by Gayle Jervis and Kristen Jervis Cacka. This short travel book packs a punch. Mine is full of tabs and so valuable I packed in our already packed luggage. It’s not only helpful for traveling, but for those rare times when you go out to eat.
  2. Make “surprise” eggs. I don’t know about you, but my toddler loves watching those surprise eggs videos on youtube. I tried to mimic the action by filling eggs with things like play dough, capsules that turn into animals when you drop them in water, and jelly rings that light up. While I had to keep my 9-month old away from the tiny toys, he was pretty excited with the plastic eggs themselves.
  3. Pack new novelty books. Scratch n’ sniff books were a hit with my baby, toddler and me too.
  4. Wipeable workbooks. Who knew workbooks could be fun? The dry erase workbook that helps toddlers trace and draw was a lifesaver keeping my three-year-old busy for about an hour.
  5. Bring on the carseat. This is a secret tip shared by my flight attendant cousin. I believe it was the biggest reason for the ease of this trip compared with the hell ride we went on a few months earlier. He was so comfortable, he even fell asleep.
  6. Toddler safe scissors. Since I never gave my three-year-old scissors before, he was fascinated with using them to cut play dough.
  7. Build a fun bag. I read about how others mom created play kits out of makeup bags. Genius! Now why didn’t I think of that? Basically you fill these clear folders or binder pencil cases with things like antibacterial wipes, new toys, books, and snacks. This saved me a huge amount of time since it eliminated the need to dig through my carryon.
  8. BYOT(rash)B(ag). A flight attendant complimented me on this, but I have to give credit to one of the moms who wrote about it. The benefit of toting a trash bag? I didn’t have to wait for an attendant to take our cups, napkins, and everything else overflowing the seat pockets.
  9. Bring snacks they both can eat. Cheerios were a popular treat for both my kids.
  10. Dress your infant in socks. This is great for babies that are walking, standing or cruising. You can plop them on the ground and not worry about their feet getting dirty. Their hands? That’s another story.

Bonus tips:

  1. *Let them play on your phone or tablet. If all else fails, save those really tantalizing age appropriate iPad games for the trip. It’ll give you a little time to either entertain the baby, read (I actually got to do this!) or rest.
  2. *Prep them beforehand. For weeks before our trip, my toddler and I practiced our airplane voice. I told him that we had to be quiet on the airplane, other people would be on there and if he’s too loud he might get scolded by the flight attendant. Your child may not need a little warning, but doing so seemed to help mine.
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The Things They Teach Us

Mom and child silhoutteIf anyone told you that one day you would endure hours of physical pain, mindless work and emotional struggle all with little hope of continuous sleep, you would think they were talking about imprisonment or self-torture. But many of choose this life when we become mothers. And surprisingly, we want to do it again, and again.

The reason?

We lose our ambition. We lose ourselves. We lose friends. We lose sleep. But there’s nothing like a child that can return you back to what’s truly important.

Love.

I don’t know of any other job as hard. I didn’t think I would one day grow up, spend a ton of money on school and more school, and end up being a mother. But now that I’m knee deep in it, I can see I was meant to do it.

My ultimate goal in life has always been inner growth. There’s nothing like a demanding toddler or a fussy baby that forces you to get real with yourself. You can’t hide behind a false sense of yourself or get away with whittling away with your time. For children, now is everything. In the process of breaking me open, they’ve changed me forever. These are the precious lessons they’ve taught me about what’s really important.

If you’re going to write, get to it.

Play is as necessary as breathing.

Don’t waste time and energy cajoling with un-joyful folk.

What you say matters, but what you do matters more.

Things are nice, but memories are everything.

Messing up is a daily necessity.

You don’t grow out of tantrums when you get older. It just looks cuter in kids than it does in adults.

It’s not the mistakes you make, it’s how you clean up afterwards.

Boys are dirty. Get over it already.

Life is more than what you’ve accomplished.

Rewarding moments rest in the most ordinary days.

One day soon your worst days will be the ones that had the greatest potential for growth and change.

Change is hard for everybody, kids included.

Babies and toddlers know what’s up every when they can’t say it.

If you want to teach your child kindness and empathy, teach yourself first.

Academics are not everything. There are many measures of success.

You can grow up poor, but feel rich with love.

You can mess up your kids in so many ways, but remember this. What they will remember most is whether they were loved.

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You Know You’re a Mother When…

Moms

 

This title is kind of ridiculous because once you’re pregnant, you can’t really be in denial any longer. With that being said, there are a few funny tell-tale signs that signal a giant shift from life without kids to life with kids that all moms will appreciate. So without further ado. Here’s how you know you’re a mom even when you’re not with your kids:

  1. You tune in not out to the sound of a wailing child.
  2. Your morning routine has dwindled down to taking a quick glance at your shirt. You want to make sure it’s relatively snot and milk free. Oh and make sure your button and bra is on if you are a nursing mother.
  3. Your idea of a wild time is going out late at night, which is any time after the kids are asleep.
  4. Having free time makes you overwhelmed with options. Should you do the laundry or flip mindlesly through a magazine?
  5. Going to the market kids free feels like a shopping spree.
  6. You don’t remember what you did with all your free time before kids. But you kind of wished you saved some for now.
  7. You don’t know if your memory loss is due to lack of sleep or age.
  8. Sleep feels like a fairytale just like unicorns and gold at the end of the rainbow.
  9. You’re suddenly extroverted and can make friends with anyone who has kids.
  10. You’re as excited about going to a wedding as you used to feel on date night.
  11. When you go out to eat, you automatically check the menu for entrees your kids will actually eat. And you do this even if they aren’t there.
  12. You feel the urge to blast the radio when you’re in the car alone. Anything that’s not nursery rhymes is literally music to your ears.
  13. You can’t pass a store without thinking about what to get your kids.
  14. You cut all your food into small pieces.
  15. You find yourself humming to kid songs like da-da-da-da-da-da two and four and six and eight…(Bonus points if you know what song that is.)
  16. If you’re a stay at home mom, your day is broken down to: how many hours until my partner gets home.
  17. You can’t remember what you did that day, but by the end you feel like you’ve been run over by a truck.
  18. Your nightstand is about to topple over under the weight of all your parenting books.
  19. Food floating in water, boogers, poop and pee doesn’t disgust you like it used to.
  20. You know more about characters on Sesame Street and Mickey’s Clubhouse than what’s going on in the news.
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