Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Chicago is always a good idea.

We took a little mini vacation to Chicago this past weekend--actually Sunday-Tuesday…which if you can swing weekdays is way better with little kids in Chicago.  Shorter lines, fewer crowds, and way easier to get into restaurants.  It's one of our favorite cities with so much to do.  Every time we're there we think, "oh--we should have planned to do…………," and there's just never enough time.  So every time you go you feel like you're just scratching the surface and visiting for the first time.  We hit up Lincoln Park zoo this time (a free zoo in the city), American Girl Store, Shedd Aquarium, a few city parks, and some early morning walks down Michigan Avenue (a luxury afforded to us parents with kids who are early risers--and it really is a cool time to walk down an otherwise crazy busy street).

Not pictured below…..night swims at the hotel with mermaid tails, breakfast overlooking Michigan Ave., the 112 year old firehouse right off Michigan Ave. that let us come in and climb in a firetruck when they saw us checking out the plaque on the front of their building, and our trashed hotel room!  Seriously--we are clean, neat-freak people….but when we get in a hotel room….yikes!

But anyway--Chicago; in a few pictures……….




Our hotel had a pretty cool ledge above our bed that was a magnet for kids to play on.  It made some great pictures as well.







I really can't say enough good about Shedd Aquarium.  It's so beautiful, interactive and entertaining for kids of all ages, it just pulls you in from the minute you walk through the doors--and hopefully you have a stroller so you can get through the stroller doors faster and quicker than everyone else without a stroller. 






He thinks taking selfies is maybe one of the best activities ever. And side note…..blogger autocorrects selfies to selfless--oh they irony.





Chris and I have decided that the key ingredient to parenting is stamina.  Traveling to big cities with little kids (especially one that's a baby) demands it--but it's so, so, so worth it!   

We love you Chicago!  And we can't wait to come back!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Fostering #Natural Potential for Our Daughters

This post has been created in partnership with GreenWorks but all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Georgia tells me daily that she's decided what she's going to be.

A vet.
An entomologist.
A ballet teacher.
An artist---that draws insects.
A doctor.
A stuffed animal maker.  (We don't know the technical term for that)

And on and on.

It's interesting to me how fixated kids at this age are in honing in on a career choice.  And I suppose it's a 'thing' so many of us spend our lives doing--we're kind of hardwired to pontificate on what we want to be when we grow up.  At thirty seven I still do it.

Sometimes I ask her why she wants to be a vet, a doctor, a ballet teacher…..and for the love….why a stuffed animal maker.  Moms all over the world don't want any more stuffed animal makers--promise.  She always has a rational (ish) reason for why she wants to be what she wants to be.  I told her a few weeks ago after a lengthy conversation about what it means to be an entomologist that I thought it was so cool that she was interested in something like that, "because you know--girls make great scientists--we need girl scientists."

She looked at me a little baffled and responded, "I know girls can be scientists."  An interesting response.  I think a lot of little girls know this.  But what about big girls?  Do they know this, do they remember this from their younger years?  Do they forget these childhood dreams somewhere along the way?

Statistics indicate that they do.


I showed Georgia the above video and asked her what she thought--if she were going to draw a scientist what would she draw?  She thought for a minute and said she wasn't sure--maybe a man even though she wanted to be a scientist herself.  She wasn't sure why she only thought of a man when she thought of a scientist.

So how do we change that mental picture for our girls?  Greenworks cleaning products, a company founded by a woman scientist in 2008 is working to do just that. They want to help girls unleash their natural potential and change the fact that even though women fulfill 50% of the jobs in America, only 25% of scientists are women. Greenworks collaborates with the American Association of University Women to help provide girls with opportunities to explore their scientific curiosity and connect with female role models.  They emphasize how important it is for girls to have female mentors in the sciences if they show an interest in a STEM field early on, they highlight the kinds of classes girls should take in high school to prepare them and even provide ideas for extracurricular activities parents can enroll their girls in to foster and grow a love for the sciences.  Georgia took a chemistry of cooking class this summer and told me everyday how cool it was that something she loves so much--baking--really had so much science behind it.  Changing that mental picture has to start early! 

We've been doing science experiments with Georgia since she could stand up.  They're messy--sure….but they're also a lot of fun and provide some great one-on-one time with your kiddos, things to talk about, things to predict and guess, things to laugh at, and most definitely opportunities to foster her natural potential for the sciences!  


Greenworks provides a lot of ideas of simple science experiments you can do with your girls!  Do one today! They're a lot of fun…..and when you have to clean up the mess, do it with a Greenworks cleaning product and know that every time you do you're helping to support STEM opportunities for girls all over this country and feeding their natural potential…..including your own! 


Monday, July 20, 2015

Black & White….it's all right.

I started decorating Crosby's room and buying baby supplies for him before there was a Crosby.  And so…..I stuck to neutrals.  But really--I stuck to my favorite colors with a few colors thrown in.  And thankfully, they're super popular right now so there was/is no end to amazing black and white decor items for baby rooms.  I have a lot of these pieces and love, love, love them or I wouldn't feature them here.  The mobile is one of my favorite things in Crosby's room as well as the zebra head.  

Happy shopping to you!!



Hugs & Kisses Garland // Cloud Light // Wire Basket // Gallery Art Cards // Zebra Trophy Head (super great deal and lots of other animals to pick from too!!) // Rain Cloud Prints // Swiss Cross Blanket // Pantone Board Books (for stacking in cute places around the rom) // Wildlife Chart // Felt Ball Mobile (I have this one for Crosby and it's currently sold out but similar ones are available) // Stacked Stripes Print (I painted similar pictures for Crosby's room--but pictures like these were my inspiration) // Zebra Throw Pillow // Black & White Floor Bin // Beco Baby Carrier (lots of other great patterns available too) // Kisses Art Print

Some black and white action from our little man's room…………..



And P.S. that cloud picture and the one next to it?  It's Crosby's life goal to rip those off the wall.  He gets changed up on that dresser about once a week when he's real groggy.  Otherwise, we stick to wrestling with him on the floor.  

Monday, July 13, 2015

Tracking. Do it quick before the footprints disappear.

I made a horrible mistake a few nights ago.  I was cranky and frustrated and Georgia and I had been going at it all day about a variety of things.  We're so much alike about so many things and it's an explosive combination sometimes.  Not atypical for a mom and a daughter, I know, but nonetheless it leaves me feeling guilty sometimes.

Thoughts of, "I should have said it like this, " "I shouldn't have used that tone," "I wish I would have handled that differently," and "I needed to walk away for a few minutes before reacting and I didn't," can linger for a long time.  And I know--there's a camp out there that says, "Don't let mom guilt get to you."  Yeah, well…..sometimes I think that camp is a load of garbage and a product of the self-esteem generation.  Because you know what?  I'm a human mom…..that makes a lot of mistakes given my species.  And every once in a while a lot of times I handle things the wrong way because I'm still learning and I think it's okay to feel bad about doing something wrong……so you can work not to repeat the mistake over and over.

So, to bring it back--the other night I made a horrible mistake.

Georgia has this space behind a chair in our front room that she's deemed her secret hiding spot.  It's not secretive by any means but it's her place, she loves to go back there and play on the iPad or read a book or set up little scenes for her dolls and animals.  She's even taped pictures she likes on the back of the chair to decorate her spot. It's cute.  We never really make her move stuff clean it up back there--it's not hurting anything, so it's hers.


Additionally, Georgia likes to "make books."  We're talking stapled together construction paper, blank books I get her from the $1 bin at Target, even tied together leaves; this girl can make a book out of toilet paper if given the green light.  So on this fateful night she'd been working on some books.  I was making dinner and carrying on a casual, albeit distracted conversation with her because Crosby was shrieking and missile launching toys onto the ground from his high chair. She announced out of the blue, "I'm going to keep all of my books behind the chair in my secret space!"  

"No you're not, " I responded, a little snappily.  
"Why?"
"Because, Georgia--there is enough behind that chair for now." I was huffing my response--I know I was. 
"But they're special to me and I want to keep them safe."
"They're safe right where they are." 

Crosby starts to cry. 

"They're my books and I'll put them there if I want to." 
"Come again?"

Crosby is really ramping it up. 

"If you don't let me put my books back there then I'll NEVER put anything back there again and my whole secret space will be ruined." (Using the word never in combination with something seemingly dire is a commonly employed strategy of Georgia's.)

"Fine Georgia.  Listen--we'll have to talk about this later.  I need to finish getting dinner ready and Crosby needs to eat."
"I'm doing it.  I'm putting them back there."
"Georgia.  Stop it.  Listen to me.  I said no.  I don't want any more crap back there."  I'm pretty sure I yelled this.

Pause. 

"What's crap?" 

Ugh. But I was mad and wasn't thinking straight……so……

"Stuff that you don't need, stuff that is junk."

And then she was crushed.  She stopped talking back.  She started to cry a little.  

"You think the books I make are junk?  I work really hard on those." 
"Wait, you're talking about the books you make?"
"Yes," she whispered through a few tears. 

Deep breath.  

"I thought you were talking about all the books in your room, actual books, from your bookshelf."
"My books are actual books."

I can't get this right….for the love. 

And she got sadder, and Crosby got louder, and I felt worse, and I tried to smooth it over with her and told her I was sorry and I shouldn't have lost my temper and I should have asked her more questions about what she meant…..but I didn't….and I was wrong.  

We talked about it more after Crosby went to bed, over ice-cream sandwiches on the front porch.  I apologized again, and I cried a little bit because I felt really bad, and she hugged me like she always does and told me she didn't have to keep stuff behind that chair anymore if I didn't want her to, and that she was sorry for talking back.  I assured her that I wanted her to keep her secret place in tact and I wanted her books back there.  She showed all of them to me that she was planning on putting back there.  And thankfully, she spent some time in her secret hiding spot rearranging things and making room for her books--no plans to vacate the property.  


But it got me thinking--all these little footprints that our kids leave around our house that are specifically theirs….markings that will go away as they get older and be replaced by something else, possibly something not so endearing……I don't want to rush those away--I want to track them, follow them, memorize them.  I'm not talking about fingerprints on door frames, or ripped up Kleenex all over bedrooms, or a sticky cup holder in the car from a left over slushie, or a moldy piece of string cheese in a couch cushion, or other bits of evidence that you don't use a vacuum or a Clorox wipe.  

I'm talking about…..

word walls on the plate rail of the front room for weeks at a time, 


and pictures hanging on my bathroom mirror, 


and forts that last days in the play room, 


and art tables in the kitchen overflowing with 'genius at work,'


and 

animal menageries on bathroom counters (that you better not clean underneath without supervision).  


I think it's so easy to want to brush these signs-of-life and fun and developing minds away in our haste to clean up, straighten out, and feel that calm that, for many of us, comes when things feel in order.  But….I think we can find an order in the 'footprints' our kids leave behind, in the whisperings that fill our house that a curious and amazing little six year old lives here.  

These little glimpses into our kids hearts and minds--that speak to the wonder and imagination of child-hood disappear so fast, I don't want to shuffle my feet over those footprints, making them invisible.  I want to hold on to them and appreciate them.  

Even on days when I'm not at my best.  Even when I mistake them for crap and can't appreciate the art that they are I want something to remind me to stop, just stop…...  

What are you 'tracking' today?  All of our kids leave different footprints…..make sure you take note of them.  






Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Easy "To-Do" Chart Magnets DIY


Georgia will be in first grade next year and over the course of the last year in kindergarten she's become accustomed to a pretty scheduled day--and really likes it.  And in all my years in education I'll tell you that for the most part--all kids like some structure and consistency and scheduling; no matter what they tell you.  They like it.  It feels safe, and expected, and calm, and anticipatory.

I fully embrace the loveliness of summer with its lazy mornings, pool days, ice-cream truck treats on the lawn, and late nights playing in the yard….but I also know that we need a little structure, albeit loose, to these days or we all start to climb the walls a little bit.

I've seen a lot of ideas for 'chore charts,' and so many of them are really cute, but they also require quite a bit of work and DIYing.  I'm not afraid of that but because I knew Georgia would be handling this chart in that she would move her items from the 'to-do' list to the 'done' list it needed to be pretty durable and not fussy.

I used the Beautfiul Mess app to create my 'pictures' on my phone because they have great backgrounds, fonts, and little doodles, e-mailed them all to myself (you could also post them all to Instagram and save yourself a step), and then printed them using Sticky 9; a website that turns your instagram pictures into magnets.  Sticky 9 will let you upload pictures from your computer--which I did--or it can pull directly from your Instagram account.  I chose the bigger option for my magnets--they come in two sizes.

The gist of this is pretty simple.  There are a bunch of things we CAN get done in a day and some things that I want done in a day.  It's your choice.  When she completes the things I really want her to get done (making her bed, brushing her teeth, picking up clothes off the floor, practicing piano, doing a summer smart page, and reading two books) she can earn something I know she really likes to do.  If she completes more things she can earn more down-time activities.  And I'm pretty loose about it.  This isn't meant to strong-arm our summer days.  Just to give us a loose outline and make sure it's not noon and we've done nothing but watch Peppa Pig (which is hands down my new favorite kids show).





And now--we're off to the pool!  Enjoy this Tuesday!  

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