Thankful Thursday- Thanksgiving Edition

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American followers (and to all those who are celebrating today!).

Today is especially wonderful because this year it falls on my husband’s birthday! I find that particularly poetic as the two things I am most thankful for are my husband and my beautiful daughter.

It’s Cupcake’s first Thanksgiving, so we’re celebrating big! Today we are spending the day with my wonderful in-laws. Cupcake is happy, healthy and blossoming into the most awesome person I’ve ever met! IMG_2807.JPG

Tomorrow, we’re breaking my grandma out of the nursing home for a Dessert Thanksgiving (imagine the quantity of food at Thanksgiving, but that it’s all desserts!). I’m excited to get to have two Thanksgivings and to get to celebrate with all of our family!

I am so thankful for my darling Cupcake, my hunky hubby, my health and my wonderful family & friends! I would be remiss to not include all of you people out there sharing in my momming journey! Even if you are not celebrating today, know I am thankful for you!

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Visiting

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It’s amazing what a visit can do. My grandmother has been in a nursing home for years. It’s so hard to visit her with a very active little one who desperately wants to be down on the floor. And yet, each week I go with Cupcake. From the second we get there, all the residents light up. All week I had been putting off my visit for one reason or another. It was only a short visit today, but it warmed my heart to see how happy my grandma was. Who knows how much time she has left…so I’m glad I’m building in these moments. Even if Cupcake doesn’t get to really know her great-grandmother well, she will hear about these visits and how they made a very old woman very happy at the end of her life.

Finding Peace of Mind

Have you ever had a moment when you felt like the universe was sending you a message? Today I came across an article discussing indicators of student success through the post-secondary years. As I was reading through the article, I came across this interesting section:

A university study conducted on “peace of mind” sought to find the greatest factors that contributed to people’s stability. The top five they discovered were:

1. Refusing to live in the past.
2. The absence of suspicion, resentment and regret.
3. Not wasting time and energy fighting conditions you cannot change.
4. Refusing to indulge in self-pity.
5. Forcing yourself to get involved with a major goal in your current world.

With my husband in his last year of medical school, this upcoming year will be a huge one. We will find out his residency match, which could be in many different states. We will (potentially) need to move our little family away from our extended family here. This is all during our first year as parents, where I am also a new stay-at-home-mom.

By nature, I am a planner. I try and anticipate multiple outcomes so that I can remain flexible. I plan everything. Perhaps that’s what made me such a good teacher. I knew my end goal for every year, unit and lesson. I developed a plan quickly and effectively to reach my students. I also budgeted for breaks and unexpected situations so I was never fully caught off-guard.

Life is not always so plan-able.

Call it a coincidence, God, or randomness, this article really jumped at me. I read through each item to try and see how they applied. I realized that I am spending way too much time trying to plan for a change that I cannot plan for yet. It would be ridiculous to spend a whole day looking up real estate in every potential location when the decision is out of our hands. There will be plenty of time to research in March.

Number 5 on the list forcing yourself to get involved with a major goal in your current world . really stuck out to me. What major goal am I working on?

As a teacher, there was always a goal. An objective my students really need to learn. A particular student who was struggling with a concept. A new method I wanted to try. I realized I had no major goal I was working to accomplish, and that made me sad.

So I spent the next few hours thinking about what my major goal could be. There are many ways in which I could be a better mother and wife. However, I wanted to do something just for me. Maybe selfish, but I know I’m a better me when I have something that is just mine.

It hit me- My whole life I have been a very weak runner. I have run 5ks, but always slowly. Mile day was my least favorite of the whole school year. I hate running with others because I am so embarrassed. I have recently rejoined the gym and have been going most mornings. It hasn’t always been pretty, but I’ve started running again. I decided my new goal was to work towards improving my mile time. My ultimate goal is to run an 8-minute mile (my fastest I have ever run in the past). I have a hundred small goals between my current pace and that.

Even just setting up a plan gave me a sense of peace that I haven’t had in awhile. I don’t even know what lead me to that article, but I’m sure glad I found it.

What brings you peace of mind when you feel things are a bit unstable around you? Share below!

Fun with Toddlers- Homemade Coffee Playdough

I am the proud mommy of Cupcake, who is almost eight months old. I am also the auntie to six nephews and a niece. My beautiful family makes my world happy and I love spending time with them.

So when my dear sister had a situation come up where she would need a babysitter once a week, I was excited for the opportunity. And then I was scared.

My twin nephews are two years old. Whenever I have babysat in the past, I have gone to my sister’s house. K&D were going to be coming here. In and of itself, having them here is not a problem. Until I looked around and realized that we have toys for a baby.

No problem, we’ll go to the park.

Until I checked the weather and it was going to be a high of 20, before counting the massive wind chill! Hmm taking a baby and twin toddlers on a walk to the park when it’s freezing out- I’m probably going to pass on that.

So I decided to make Playdough! I’ve written about the Oatmeal Playdough I make for Cupcake. It works great for a baby, but I thought it’d be too mushy for the boys.

I remembered a coffee-based sculpting dough I had made as a nanny. With the holidays coming up, I thought this could be a great project! This Playdough uses three ingredients that almost everyone has in their house. You can bake it and make it into a permanent sculpture. (Thinking ahead for next week’s babysitting adventure!) This recipe is definitely something I will be making again. They had a great time!

Homemade Coffee Playdough

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup table salt
3/4 cup warm coffee (may need up to additional 1T)

Directions
1. Mix flour and salt well.

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2. Add 3/4 cup warm coffee

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Leftover French Vanilla Coffee from breakfast made for a very nice smelling dough!

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3. Mix coffee and flour/salt mixture well.

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Usually this is plenty, but given different factors (our house is wicked dry in the winter), you may need to add up to an additional tablespoon of warm coffee to get desired consistency.

4. Store in Ziploc bag until ready to play!

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(To get an idea of the quantity-this is a quart size Ziploc)

5. Create and play!

Optional: If you want to, you can bake at 300 degrees for 30-45 minutes to make the sculpture hard.

 

My nephews had a great time playing with this playdough. I can’t wait for next week!

Raising a Reader

As a former teacher, one thing that brings me immense joy is watching my seven month old adore books.

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From her first day home, my husband and I surrounded her with books. We read to her each night and had books out during the day. While she played, I would often sit beside her and read whichever book was closest. Now we can’t keep her away! It makes my mommy heart smile to see her so excited by books!

She’s nearly eight months old, so we are early in our journey. I love taking her to the book store and library. I greatly look forward to when she’s a bit older and she focuses more on the story (and less on trying to chew on it)!

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As a teacher, there were a few commonalities I found with those kids that enjoyed reading and those that did not.

1. Books were available

This may seem silly, but making sure your child has access to books is essential! Books can be quite expensive, which is why we LOVE our public library. For real, we have a place with thousands of books for free. Let that sink in for the immense miracle that is! We also frequent thrift shops for books. Cupcake has a huge collection on a wide variety of topics.

2. Daily reading was encouraged

Growing up, I was read to every night. Once I learned how to read, I continued to do so each night. Sometimes I read to my parents; sometimes they read to me. It was just what we did and it never occurred to me to do anything differently.

The students I’ve had who love reading come from similar families who place a high value on reading every day.

3. Understanding what “counts” as reading

All too often, I hear people say they do not like reading. Then I see them scanning through news stories on their cell phone. Or reading a magazine. Or reading the latest football stats so they can update their fantasy team (hi sweetie!).

Reading comes in SO many forms. It’s so limiting to think that reading only counts as sitting with a large fiction novel (although that sounds lovely for me!). Reading happens all the time and kids need to know that. Reading is comic books. Reading is the newspaper. Reading is sports statistics. I’ve never found a single person who doesn’t like reading in any form. It’s so important that parents help their child see the many types of reading there are!

4. Everyone in the family reads

This is a biggie! I can remember multiple parent-teacher conferences about a kiddo who did not like to read. The parents often admitted to not reading much themselves.

Seeing parents reading is so important for a child. As per the last point, there are many types of reading. My mom loved fiction, while my dad was all about biographies of baseball players. It’s wonderful when parents read to their children, but it is so important that children see parents read on their own, too!

5. Reading happens everywhere

A lot counts as reading, and therefore reading happens in so many different places. Granted, Cupcake’s seven month-old self might not have fully understood, but you better believe I told her how happy I was to read that Dunkin’ Donuts now has almond milk. Mommy is so lucky to be able to read that big sign or she would not have been able to order her coffee! Isn’t reading helpful, Cupcake?

Wow! Thank goodness that blue car could read the stop sign so that our car was safe!

Hmm, I’m looking for Poppy’s house. Thank goodness I could read the number on his house so I know for sure this one is his. Whew.

Reading is one of the best gifts you can give your child. It is never too early to introduce your child to books and it is definitely never too late!