Discipline as we know it, year three.

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Discipline has been an evolving process since our oldest was born. It’s difficult to remember the early days but we tend to have headstrong kids who aren’t afraid to make their wishes known. Case and point, the little one is getting braver by the second and responds to the word “No!” with a wail of protest. She still complies, for the next five seconds at least.

We always try to follow the ideals of positive reinforcement, pointing out the good things in hopes of encouraging more good behavior. Harping on the “bad” behavior often begets more of the same as even negative attention in a busy household is attention focused on that child. Kids know how to push our buttons so when I start getting my words parroted back to me before I even say them, I know it’s time to change my strategy.

That said, many of the tactics we use don’t always prove effective. Incentives and rewards are often shrugged aside when a stubborn three-year-old has her nose out of joint about something or other. Praise and encouragement only go so far when she has her little heart set on the sequence of events happening as she sees them.

More often than not, communication is the root of many of our difficulties. It’s not easy for a precocious three-year-old to understand parent imposed limits, timeframes or obligations like work. Sometimes, after attempting to satisfy an endless stream of “Why, mommy?”, “Because I said so!” is the only answer left. If you take a step back and try to view our hectic lives from a child’s point of view it’s easy to see why they balk when we try to hurry, or resist when we try to cajole. Their needs and wants are simple…love, attention, a full belly and some good old fashioned fun.

So as I grind my teeth in frustration after the millionth challenge of the day, I try to put myself in her shoes and find a little more patience. I’ll try to pick my battles and save them for the big ticket items I really care about…manners, kindness and gratitude being at the top of that list.

What are your tried and true best practices for discipline? I’d love to add to my repertoire!

Dear Highway Rest Area

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Let me begin with sincere thanks for facilitating the briefest of layovers on long road trips. Your convenient location provides a much needed respite from the cramped confines of our car. Providing a refueling station for humans and automobiles alike is a service that is often overlooked but much appreciated by yours truly.

I am loathe to find fault, yet I feel obliged to bring one complaint to your attention. I can’t help but notice that the sustenance offered to your patrons is sadly lacking in nutritional value. I will take most of the blame as, in providing food and snacks of maximum nutritional benefit for my children, I failed to provide the same for myself and my spouse. In lacking such forethought, I gained the unique opportunity to trod your gleaming halls and share road weary greetings with my fellow travelers.

So, having little choice, I sampled your wares and could weep as I feel my body absorb each salt and grease laden bite. I flatter myself in speaking for my fellow travelers in begging you to please reconsider your meager offerings. I will be forever grateful if you’d deign to provide options with a hint of greenery, the snap of fresh vegetables or even the enticing aroma of ripe fruit.

In closing, I leave you with one final thought. “Food for thought is no substitute for the real thing.” – Walt Kelly

Your humble guest,
~ Mom…in the works

The meddlesome three

It’s amazing how kids follow patterns even when you don’t realize it. I just read back through a few old posts and came to realize that we had much the same experience with Lena as we’re having with Maggie.

We are battling teething, a growth spurt AND a cold which are all contributing to night time wakings. I’m not talking a little blip and back to bed. This child is roaring for food and nothing will calm her except an 8 ounce ( yes, you read that correctly) bottle. That’s after being sent to bed with 10 oz to start with! I’ve finally whittled down the process to roughly 40 minutes but it’s still a huge disruption when I’m sleep deprived myself.

The good news is, after many days of swollen gums, we are finally seeing evidence of three teeth breaking through and most likely one more soon to follow. They can’t appear fast enough for me. Maybe once they arrive we’ll have a chance at a relatively quiet night?

We are currently employing the “grin and bear it” brand of coping. Ibuprofen before bed doesn’t seem to make a bit of difference. The only soother is more food, only then do we have a chance at a slightly less cranky baby.

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Twenty One Days…seriously.

Studies show that it takes 21 days to establish a habit. I know, I didn’t believe it either. But I have seen the evidence…it works!

I’ve shared my story about needing a healthy change in life. In just 21 days I saw not only a change in my body but more importantly a change in my mindset. I had been in a place where I felt like losing weight, feeling energetic (with two kids in tow) or having time to work on some goals were all impossibilities. Now, I’m finding ways to do all of those things.

The beauty of it is, there was no life altering change or big hurdle I had to manage. Over a few months I made small, almost imperceptible changes and stuck with then. No excuses. After 21 days (give or take) it no longer required much effort and I just continued to build on that premise.

Want to write more? Spend 5 or 10 minutes every day writing. I bet you’ll find you start building on those few minutes as time goes on. Want to get fit? Set aside a 30 minute window every day and exercise. Want to eat better? Choose one unhealthy item/food type a week and eliminate it. The trick is to start, and start small.

So pick that goal you’ve had lingering in the back of your head for the past few weeks or months and start working toward it. You’re going to be amazed at what you can accomplish!

PDF can be found here!

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Essential Apps for Organization

I’ve been focused a lot lately on finding some ways better organize my life. Two kids, work, pets, feeding all those things, house, cleaning, projects, activities, and so on! I’m usually a fairly organized person but I kept feeling like certain things were slipping through the cracks. We’d let things slide for a week or so and suddenly find us scrambling with huge projects trying to get back on track.

I’m calling a halt to that slipshod behavior (as far as I am able)! Room by room I’m putting everything to rights and creating a system of organization that requires a minimal effort. That’s the key here, very little effort. We lead busy lives and I don’t want to detract from our free time when I don’t have to.

So here are some apps that have become an integral part of my organization process:

Peapod – we get most of our groceries at Stop & Shop, this is their app. Whenever I (or my hubbie) think of something we need, we add it to our grocery list. Then, whoever stops at the store has a fairly up to date list of the essentials. So simple. (This could also be done with a shared grocery list app like AnyList.)

AwesomeNote – I went through a LOT of todo list apps. I wanted one that was super fast and easy to use but organized! This app allows for recurring tasks so I can set up chores or repeated household things ahead of time and trust in my Todo list! There’s nothing more satisfying than ticking off the last item for the day and just focusing on family or me time.

FitBit – I got one a few months ago and love how it helps push me to be more active on my sedentary work days. Also, it tracks my sleep so if I had a rough night, I know to push for an earlier bedtime so I can recharge.

GrooveBook – I snap TONS of pictures all day but I can’t remember the last time I printed any! A friend turned me on to this app which prints 100 pictures of your choosing for a minimal monthly fee! How great is that??

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Toy storage update

To update you on our toy chaos, we got these awesome baskets for our coffee table!!

Grey felt woven baskets? Yes please!

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At least the puzzles and diaper station are looking a bit neater, right?

(Found at a West Elm outlet, sadly the real store no longer stocks them! Terrible news as I need one more. I’ll just stalk my nearest outlet store in the meantime.)

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My black thumb.

I freely admit that I have the farthest thing from a green thumb. While I adore growing things, if one happens to stay alive in my presence it’s through sheer luck.

I’m fairly adept at planting and the initial setup, it’s the tending and nurturing part that’s got me beat. I mean, it’s not like I have anything else to worry about. Fortunately, my husband enjoys the entire process and keeps me from neglecting anything too badly. There’s nothing quite so satisfying as watching your plants bear fruit!

We barely threw together our kitchen garden this year as we had a ton of outdoor projects that took precedence. Since this is our first year in the house, we weren’t sure on placement or light so just picked a spot based on proximity to the door. That said, we’ve got some decent herbs, a few zucchini and a load of Roma tomatoes just waiting to ripen. Our Meyer lemon tree has been happily ensconced on the porch for the last two months and is also showing positive signs of a good harvest.

There is great joy in seeing Lena’s face light up when she sees the little plant she put in the ground growing tall and providing something we can eat. It’s priceless to me that she knows where some of her food comes from and the work that goes into cultivating it, even if it is on the tiny scale of our backyard garden. There’s a certain satisfaction in knowing we have fresh, healthy food outside our door when we need it.

I have big plans for next year, hopefully Joe will be on board!!

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Raising self confident kids.

In the midst of all the social media and environmental pressures kids are up against, I want mine to understand that it’s more important to be an individual than to fit a mold. Weight is just a number, not a defining characteristic. Confidence is infinitely more attractive than thigh gap (I mean, really!). Self worth is a far more apt measure of your future success than what brands you wear. Drive and determination are pillars of success, not lack of failure. That just means you might not be trying hard enough!

I was a tom-boy, when I was little I was daddy’s little helper, I chopped wood to get in shape for softball season, I climbed trees and built forts with my brothers. I wore a uniform until 8th grade and didn’t care much about fashion or trends. To this day I hate shopping for myself, “tall” and “long” sizes didn’t exist so I constantly waged a battle between baggy clothes or too-short pants and sleeves. If my nose wasn’t stuck in a book I was probably playing sports, tinkering with the computer or inventing a new adventure with my brothers. My parents managed to raise me in such a way that I never felt compelled to follow the crowd. I was OK with being a little different and even relished the fact. I had my ups and many, many downs just like any kid.

I’m petrified at the idea of raising two girls in this media centric world where the values that are held as the norm couldn’t be farther from the truth. I want to wrap them up and let them evolve free of unrealistic expectations (even my own?). But I realize that I can’t protect them from everything. Often times, their lives will be the richer for the things they experience outside the safe little bubble we try to build for them. One day, I might even learn to accept that fact.

Our mission, as I see it, is to give them the tools to achieve their dreams and to empower them to live happy, healthy and enriched lives whatever paths they choose. To do that we must bring to life those hopes we have for them and model those behaviors we feel are most essential.  Inspired by family and friends, I finally feel like I’m actively working to embody those goals and I’m going to try my hardest to enable my kids to do the same. So here’s to pursuing your dreams, being an individual, finding your healthy and above all… being fulfilled and happy.

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Welcome back Blue Apron

We took a few weeks hiatus from Blue Apron thinking we’d grill a lot more during the summer. We set a pause for x number of weeks and that number snuck up on us!

Let’s just say we are SO glad that it did. Mercifully, the girls went down easily and we spent the next hour catching up on each other’s day while cooking a seriously delicious and HEALTHY meal. How do you beat that?!

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Back to the Drawing Board

It’s so crazy how quickly we forget the very detailed and precise schedule we followed with our first child. We followed “the book” with utter devotion. I’m not sure why, probably a desire to believe someone had the answers. There’s no denying the advice we used worked incredibly well with our own modifications along the way.

I definitely refreshed my memory with baby number two but I don’t think I’ve cracked it open since she was there months old!

That said, I had to pull it out tonight. Maggie has been leaving some milk behind in her daytime bottles. I could not remember for the life of me if we drop the late morning or early afternoon bottle first! We are definitely not as careful about all the “rules” this time around but it’s invaluable to have a reference you like!