the training wheels are off

I put little one to bed tonight and jumped in for a quick shower before it was time to put my older one down.  I heard something outside my window and looked down to see this.

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My daughter has asked my husband to take her training wheels off.  I couldn’t believe it…I have distinct memories of my dad running after me, holding on to the back of my Huffy bike while I learned to balance.  And now here is my daughter, maybe slightly younger than I was, doing the same thing with her daddy.

I don’t have any photos of my dad teaching me (that I’ve seen, at least, in any of my parents’ albums). So I zoomed and grabbed this grainy shot so she will always remember it.  I can’t believe she’s getting so big, and how fast time is going.

Even though my little son was up last night and I’m exhausted today – I would gladly freeze time for the chance to keep them both little. In a heartbeat.

 

meal planning hack

I’ve discovered that one of the keys to my sanity is meal planning.

I know there are a ton of ways to do it – but I wanted to share what has worked for me. As a working mom it has made a ton of difference in how much less hectic my evenings are (but I think this can benefit ANY family situation!).

I pulled together an excel spreadsheet. There are 4 tabs (week 1, week 2, etc.). Each tab has breakfast, lunch, dinner for the week. Every Sunday, I move to the next tab, update for any grocery items I do/do not have (for example, if strawberries were not available at the grocery store, then I change to another fruit for that week). We do our grocery runs twice a week – once on the weekend and once during the week (the weekday one is usually for produce).

It has made a TON of difference. Anyone that is at home know what we’re having for dinner so can contribute to getting things prepped/started.  When my almost 5 year old doesn’t like what we’re having, I say “well sorry that’s what’s on the menu for tonight, see?” And, most importantly, it helps ensure my kids and family are getting a healthy rotation of various fruits, vegetables, grains and protein. It also prevents the meal ruts I always get into of making the same few things over and over again.

It has been a lifesaver.  My husband actually came up with the 4-tab method when he saw me updating the same sheet every week.  Once set up, it doesn’t take more than 5-10 min each Sunday and really helps keep us organized on the weekdays!

Happy menu planning!

the smell of summer

We’re hosting a BBQ for a few neighbors today and I’m so excited. There is something about hosting neighbors that is much less stressful than hosting friends that don’t live near you!  Maybe it’s just more casual since we’re hanging out in each other’s backyards anyway?  I don’t know…but I’m extremely relaxed about it even though I know I have a lot to do between now and 4.30.

I feel like I’ve been enjoying this summer more than the last few for some reason.  Maybe it’s because my kids are starting to get older and I’m realizing how fast time is going by. I love that our days are longer, our weekends are a little less busy, and we have summer vacations planned. Throw in park visits and splash pads and what more could you want?

It’s sort of in the air…that smell.  Of fresh cut grass, sunscreen, the occasional burger being grilled. If you stop and pause what you’re doing, you can really tell that summer is here.  I plan to enjoy my days as much as possible. Living in Michigan, I know that although we have a beautiful Fall season that will be here in a few months, it won’t be nice and “summery” like it is now.

Happy Summer everyone!

finding a teaching moment in a difficult one

Today was a tough evening for my almost 5 year old. She was playing outside with my husband before bed and saw a couple of the neighbor kids in their pool…with some friends.  Of course she wanted to go in, and had trouble understanding why she wasn’t invited.

I watched out the window as my husband carried her in, sobbing. Initially I was a bit mortified that we caused a scene outside, but as soon as I saw her my heart softened.

She looked so sad, so little. And she said to me, “Mama, I wasn’t invited. Why wasn’t I invited? Why didn’t they want me to swim with them?” I picked her up and sat on the couch with her, and hugged her. I could feel the disappointment in her little frame as she cried into my chest.

I realized that this was probably a teaching moment. That I should try to use it to explain that this is how it feels to be left out, and let’s make sure we show kindness so nobody else feels that way around us. So I tried.  I tried to tell her that that didn’t mean they weren’t her friends “but mama, they NEVER invite me to swim and I always see my other friends there.” (that was a tough one). Truth is, that does happen. We have had playdates with the kids that live there, but she hasn’t gotten a “swim invitation.” But I know it’s their home, their pool, and they are under no obligation to invite my child. I was in no way upset with them.

I know this is a lesson that my daughter would be learning soon anyway…the first of many. But it was so hard. The look in her eyes were of genuine hurt.  And confusion. Even though I tried my best to explain it to her in a way that she could understand (we don’t always have playdates with everyone, sometimes friends like to play with other friends) it really hurt my heart to see her sad. Because to her, it was so easy.  Everyone plays together.

But I used it as a lesson about inclusion. How when she is playing on her swingset with a friend, how she can call out and say “do you want to come play with me?”

Although she cried a lot last night, she woke up her usual happy self. I am hoping that tonight’s outside playtime doesn’t rekindle the same sadness, and that she knows what to expect and can move past it. I hate seeing my kiddo hurting, but I know this is the first of many difficult life lessons for her.

let’s hear it for the single parents

Whenever I’m home alone with the kids for more than a day or two, I start to think…how do single parents do it?

I mean, I can get through a couple of days. The crazy mornings, trying to get everyone out the door, the meals, the cleanup, the baths, the tantrums, the cleanup again, etc. But I’ve realized I don’t stop to think often enough about how grateful I am to be a part of a two person team that works side by side to keep things running smoothly.

I’m lucky enough to have a husband who definitely pulls his weight, both with the household chores and raising the kids. From the time we both get home to the time we go to bed, he participates alongside me every step of the way. Sometimes together, sometimes in a divide and conquer sort of way. And we both help each other out – one of us will often say to the other – “you head on up to bed, I’ll finish up these dishes.”

But those single moms – or dads – it’s THEM all the time. No backup, nobody else to help with cleanup…or tantrums…or baths. How are they not exhausted all the time? Maybe they are.  Maybe I need to think about that a bit more the next time I bump into someone I know that is handling it all solo.

So tonight, this is a shout out to all the single parents out there.  You rock.  I don’t know how you do it, but you impress me and give me strength at the end of a long day!

it goes so fast

My little itty bitty graduated preschool yesterday.

I picked her up from school just like any other day, but had a strange feeling in the pit of my stomach. She started here when she was 3…and she will be 5 in a couple of months. I feel like it was just yesterday when I had to leave her crying in the arms of her teachers. Teachers that I just can’t begin to thank enough for taking care of my heart.

Her graduation ceremony was yesterday evening. My little baby…that I feel like was just born, walked across the stage in her little cap and gown (so cute!) to accept her “diploma.” I was sure she would cry. I was sure she would get stage fright. But nope, she walked right across, accepted the diploma from her teachers, then followed the instructions to pose with the piece of paper so mommy and daddy could get a photo.

Flashback to her first holiday concert at just over 3 years of age. Same auditorium. Same stage. The class started singing and she walked to the front of the stage sobbing to be rescued. Where did that little preschooler go?

She’s blooming right in front of my eyes. Posed for pics with the grandparents…enjoyed a celebratory ice cream after (and a bedtime that turned out to be way too late).  She amazes me every day, my firstborn.  I just can’t believe we are already starting kindergarten.

It goes by SO fast, doesn’t it. And I’m worried it will even go by faster with her younger brother. Time, slow down please…

You stole my heart, little man

I don’t even know how to really describe it or when it happened. Of course I loved him even before he was born. And then fell in love with him again the minute he took his first breath. But then sometime after that, he stole my heart. 

Maybe it was when he first said mama. Or maybe it was the first time he smiled. Or maybe, it was th first time he held my hand when he was learning to walk. 

I watched him at the park the other day. He’s so curious right now at 15 months of age. And he kept turning to me as if to say “did you see that? what is that? what does that do?” And even though he would run off exploring, he would keep looking back at me to make sure I was still there. 

Then when he had had enough exploring, he walked back over to me, lifted his arms up to be picked up, and then came in for a snuggle. 

Boys are so precious. I secretly hope this little one turns out to be a little bit of a mama’s boy. My daughter is such a daddy’s girl, it’s only fair, right? Even if he doesn’t…every time he looks at me with those giant blue eyes I just melt. 

There’s just something about a baby boy. 🙂