Sunday, August 13, 2017

10 Ways to Prepare your Child for School from the Start

While it feels like my little guy is far from that first day of Kindergarten, I know it will be here in the blink of an eye <insert mega mom tears here>. I also know that while it may still be a ways off, there are things that we can do to be proactive as his parents in ensuring that he is as prepared as possible for the day when it comes. Being a teacher, myself, I have come to learn that there are certain skills and experiences that, if they come in having knowledge of them, fosters students' success right from the get go. And it may come as a surprise to you, that many of them have little to do with all the facts and figures they know.

That being said, please note that I am by no means an expert on this subject. Just a fellow teacher mama, navigating life with a toddler day-by-day and hoping that maybe, just maybe, by the time he reaches his first day of school he will make it through with two shoes on and his papers actually in the folder in his backpack.

So how can you prepare your child for school from the start?

1) Read to your child. I know this one is like, "duh", to most of you, but I can't express enough the value of daily reading. Reading to your child gives them the opportunity to hear a fluent reader, to experience what good expression sounds like as you make all those crazy character voices and to see basic skills like page turning and reading the pictures modeled. Not to mention, children's language and vocabulary skills develop ten-fold by listening to texts read aloud. Seriously, read. And read a lot.

2) Take them on "field trips". My favorite thing to do with my little guy throughout the week is to experience new places with him. Museums, farms, pools, parks, you name it. But not even just that, we also love the grocery store, the mall, the library, and Target (or as my child has grown to know it "the most magical place on earth"). Honestly, just about anything is a "field trip" to your little one as there is so much they can soak up from the world around them as this age. We talk about the animals we see or the foods we are buying, and we name them all. We talk about what we will see and do before we go and his favorite part after (even if I make it up for him at this age), because previewing and summarizing are skills that even the littlest friends can begin to understand. These experiences we provide our kids are so valuable in building up their background knowledge and laying the foundation for understanding so many concepts that will come their way when they hit school age.

3) Provide time to socialize with other kids. While being a full time working mama was certainly tough this past year, I will admit that in some ways it was great for my little guy to be in daycare because he learned so much from being around the other kids. Kids pick up so much from each other. Case in point, we just had a group of friends over a few weeks back with littles around the same age as Asher. This kid seriously has had little to no interest in walking or even standing by himself until he saw his "peers" doing it, and wouldn't you know it he just stood up right there in the middle of the toddler chaos like it was no big deal. Say what! I about peed my pants - but at the same time, thought, what a beautiful reminder of the power of littles in community. Whether your child is in daycare, preschool or you stay home, find a way to provide time for your child to socialize with kids his/her age.

4) Teach them that mistakes are opportunities for learning. Our kids are going to make mistakes. My child has already made more than I can count. From losing his balance and bumping his head, to knocking over cups of water, to purposely tossing his food; mistakes happen in our household on a daily basis, as I am sure they do yours too. As adults, we made mistakes as kids, and we continue to make them today. Ensuring that you utilize each of your child's mistakes as an opportunity for learning for him/her and modeling the same of yourself, sets them up to understand that a)none of us are perfect and b)making mistakes and even failing at something sometimes is not the end of the world, but rather an opportunity to grow and move forward.

5) Help them to develop a growth mindset. (This one goes hand-in-hand with #4.) There are said to be two predominant mindsets a person may possess - a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. A fixed mindset is one in which one believes their intelligence is just that- fixed. Kids with a fixed mindset may tend to avoid challenges and give up easily, and thus, not ultimately reach their full potential. However, kids with a growth mindset believe that intelligence can be fostered and, thus, tend to embrace challenges and even setbacks which ultimately leads them to reach higher levels of achievement. Obviously, we want our children to lean toward the latter. One simple way to begin to help your child develop a growth mindset attitude is by helping them to shift their thinking in certain situations. For instance, if you hear your child saying "I can't do this.", help them to reframe the thought into "I'm going to have to practice this." Or reframe "I give up." to "I'll try it a different way." or "I'll take a break and come back to it". Belief in one's own ability to grow and achieve is often the biggest piece of the puzzle in actually succeeding at it.

6) Teach them to speak up for themselves and others. Sometimes kids can be mean, even in Kindergarten. But if we can teach our children from a young age how to speak up for themselves and even for others when these situations arise, it has the potential of shifting a negative experience into a learning (or even positive) experience for all. One thing I worked a great deal on with my students was using something called their "big voice". The "big voice" empowers children. It is a voice they can use in order to communicate to someone how a certain action or statement makes them feel and what they would like to happen next. A "big voice" statement may sound something like this "I don't like it when you (insert whatever it may be that is bothering you here), please stop". Or if a child is able to make it a bit more complex, it could be "I don't like it when you _______. It make's me feel ________. Please stop".  Either way, it's simple, and to the point (which is key for the little guys). And can really be tweaked for any situation.

7) Encourage kids to ask questions. Don't be a question stifler. While we haven't gotten to the "why?" phase yet with our little guy, I know it's a comin'. But I think it is important to note, that when a child is asking "why?", more often than not, it's not because they want to drive you bonkers (while that may be the case), but because they are actually interested in "why?". Questioning is how kids learn about the world around them, and there is unfortunately a ton of research out there that shows as kids grow, the amount of questions they ask fades. It disheartens me to say this, but I think it may be our fault grownups. Questioning is part of that growth mindset I talked about above, and curiosity is key to engagement in new learning. So instead of giving your child that quick "just because" response, take than extra moment to explain why. Encourage inquiry. And if you don't know the answer, then heck, take it as an opportunity to learn why together!

8) Provide opportunities to experience and talk about diversity. This one is a little bit of a combo pack of #3 (socialize) and #7 (question), and one that in being a bilingual teacher is near and dear to my heart. I am not going to sugar coat it - we live in a world where unfortunately, racism, sexism, and hate toward specific groups of people is real and evident throughout our society. Now trust me, it is my first instinct to shelter my child from all of this, especially at such a young age, but there are many families and kids that don't have that luxury because they are living this as their reality and preparing their children for this reality day-in-day-out. That's why I think it is important to work to ensure that my child begins to develop an age appropriate understanding of his privilege as a white male from a middle class family, and at the same time develop an understanding that this doesn't make him better or more worthy than any other. It is my goal to provide him with experiences during these formative years to interact with families and children that may come from a different culture than his own, who have different family structures where two dads are parenting or who's skin color or religion may be different so that he not only sees this as part of his world, but also so that he can ask questions and we can talk about these differences amongst people together in a positive, productive and open way. If we desire a more peaceful, accepting world for our kids friends, we've got to sow the seeds to create one.

9) Create a predictable environment at home. In setting up expectations and structure at home, you are not only creating an environment that feels safe and stable for your child, but preparing them for the routines and rules that come along with a school setting. Know that these expectations may shift and change over time as your little one grows to understand more and develops more skillsets, but anything you can do to set the stage from the get go is helpful. For example, currently, I sing the "clean up" song as we pick up our toys and I model for Asher how to put toys back in their container. As time goes on, however, I hope that we will sing the "clean up" song together, and I will expect him to be able to clean up his things more and more independently. This is just one example and other ways this can be done may be through bedtime routines, mealtime routines, getting ready routines, etc., as well as ensuring your child knows what his/her boundaries are under your care. And while it can be hard sometimes, make sure that if you put something in place, you follow through with it consistently. This is key.

10) Love on them with all you've got. Honestly, one of the biggest predictors of a child's success in school is a loving support system and a champion routing for them behind the scenes. So above all, love on your child and support them day-in-day-out. Spend time investing in them. And most importantly, seek to get to know them. Take the time to learn their talents, passions, strengths and struggles and assist them in molding them into all that God intended for them to be.

And with that, happy school year 2017, folks!

And, Kindergarten teachers, watch out, ready or not we'll be coming for ya in four short years!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Lessons from my Breastfeeding Journey

Nearly 15 months. That's how long it has been since starting this breastfeeding and life journey together with this little man of mine. It has been a journey that has had me in awe and in tears and from a place of nearly giving up to never wanting it to end. In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, I thought I would take a moment to share my breastfeeding journey with you all. Maybe you will relate to it, maybe you won't. Maybe you will learn something from it, maybe you won't. Maybe you can even teach me a thing or two or three. In all honesty, my reasons for writing it down is as much to share with the world as it is for me to document our little journey for myself while it is still fresh in my mind.

I think with your first child, you never really know what to expect. I knew it was my goal to breastfeed as long as I could/he wanted, but you don't really know how your body will handle it and even what it will all be like, feel like, etc. until you are in the middle of it. That being said, seeing that our little guy decided to arrive 6 weeks early, via c-section nonetheless, it certainly started our journey off on an even more unexpected path. I will admit, it completely and utterly broke my heart when I didn't have that "picture perfect" moment of cuddling him on my chest for those first few moments of his life and letting him immediately make that connection I so badly wanted for him. Instead he was whisked away to NICU, and I was left to pump as a post surgery parting gift - and so began our "breastfeeding" journey.

Now I will admit, I was incredibly lucky in that I was actually able to pump quite a significant amount right from the start. I would pump every 2-3 hours for those first few days in the hospital and the nurses would then bring my milk to Asher where he would have it "delivered" via a feeding tube. Finally on his 4th day of life, I got to try to breastfeed him. It was all sorts of awkward and unsuccessful on both our parts, but it was a start. And slowly but surely we both started to get the hang of it.

In order for us to go home from the NICU, Asher had to be able to drink 50 ml on his own. I remember for awhile putting so much pressure on every breastfeeding session and almost getting mad at this beautiful little soul of ours when he wouldn't get close or seem to regress at times with this goal. Before and after every feeding we would have to do a weigh in and when results were lackluster, I felt such discouragement. With each passing day, he was able to gradually take more and more, but in order to get him home more quickly the nurses suggested we also introduce a bottle as  many preemies are better able to drink a more adequate amount this way. I struggled with this for awhile as I wanted to "exclusively" breastfeed. But wanting to bring our little boy home, coupled with the knowledge that eventually I would be going back to work and he would need to learn to drink from one anyway, led me to the decision to give it a go. I know some will say that this can interfere with babies wanting to actually breastfeed, and it very well could have. Luckily though, for us at least, Asher was more than happy and willing to go for either - the kid just wanted to drink.

Once we finally made it home from the NICU, we seemed to get into more of a rhythm (and I will admit there were many times I was glad he learned how to use a bottle right away, as daddy could come in for the assist at times when I needed some serious zzzz...). I figured out what positions worked the best for us and Ash seemed to be growing like a weed. Then, enter, the dreaded reflux. Somehow, we avoided it all together in NICU. But a few weeks after heading home, this kid was gassy and spitting up like it was his job. As I said previously, I was blessed with a pretty good supply from the start, and I think quite often it was too good - especially for such a tiny babe. So we had a double whammy on our hands and frankly, I think my oversupply contributed to the problem. So we quickly learned the art of sitting him upright to feed, sitting him upright after feeding and bringing 10 burp cloths with us wherever we went. After many a chat with our doctor as well - we eventually ended up resounding ourselves to the fact that he was a "happy spitter" (as he was continuing to gain weight  - although many days I wondered how with the amount that seemed to end up on my floor, hair and everywhere in between), and we got him on a good probiotic and seeing a wonderful chiropractor (yes, they can help with infant reflux!). Honestly, he still has the occasional spit up here and there, and I am still hopeful it's something he will grow completely out of eventually.

I returned to work, when Asher was a little over three months old, it was another huge transition for us. This meant that I would no longer be able to feed him every time he wanted/needed, but rather he would need to be on more of a schedule. I'll admit after finally being able to quit pumping and just feed my child, I had no desire to go back to it (like AT ALL), but I also knew that with working full time it was the only way that we could continue on this journey together. My little pumping closet filled with cabinets and school science kits was not even close to glorious or motivating, but I made it my home for the duration of the school year. And I will admit that while I would much rather just nurse my little, I oddly came to find my pumping time each day to be a bit of an escape and time where I could take a deep breath and refresh a bit from all the busy of the day. I won't lie and say it was all rainbow and unicorns, as being a nursing and working mama is a tough job. You do have to advocate for your time and, in doing so, advocate for your babe. There were many a day when I had to leave meetings early, skip out on lunches with colleagues, etc. All that aside, I look back though and am so stinking' proud of myself for making it through the entire school year, and give mad props to all mamas who work and do the pump thing as well. It's not for the faint of heart.

Once we got the hang of this new normal, we cruised along with very few bumps in the road until Asher was about 8 months old. The more he began to sleep through the night, the more I began to develop some serious clogged ducts. I guess me and the zzzz train were just not meant to be an item. Not to mention it was around this time that he also discovered his gums (we were toothless thank goodness until age 1).  However, he used those puppies to chomp down like it was the last meal he'd ever have. Enter milk blisters, which only perpetuated my clogged duct issue. Quickly my pumping sessions at work became a stressful nightmare as I ruthlessly tried to unclog myself all the while praying for no trace of mastitis. I would come home at night and take hot showers and try and use every position under the sun with little man and the pump to try and get the clogs out. This went on for nearly two months where basically the moment I would get one unclogged, within a day it would reappear. Pure torture. I went to see a lactation consultant. I had one come to our house and work with us both. I was desperate and so wanted to continue our journey, but knew if this continued I just wasn't sure how long I could hang on. I got to a point where I felt like I was trying to be the best mom I could be in nursing him as long as he desired, but in spending so much time fixated on trying to fix my nursing problem, I wasn't sure I was actually being the best mom I could be. As a last resort, my lactation consultant suggested I check with a chiropractor she knew that could do cold laser therapy. I guess it is a new alternative to ultrasound therapy which they have sometimes used for moms with similar issues in the past. I was blown away. After one session of therapy combined with a serious kinesiology tape job on my boobs, my clogs were gone. And not just for a day, but for a few, and then a week and here I am 5 months later, clog free ever since. I guess the combo of breaking things up from the laser combined with lifting the skin just a little with the tape, gave my body just the relief it needed to heal and do it's thing effectively again. Morale of the story - seek help. Lots of it.

And now here we are. Nearly 15 months later and we are still on this crazy, boob grabbing, pinching, pulling, staring, and sucking train. I am learning to navigate the throes of nursing a toddler now which brings with it, its own slew of challenges and frankly, quite comical moments (you've seen these pictures right?). But despite the crazy, I am still loving this little journey of ours. I love that my body can still nourish my babe. I love that my milk is made just for him. I love that we have this special time to connect. But what I love most of all is that it is something that in the end, makes us both happy. And happy babies and happy mamas are what really matters. In all honesty, whether you breastfeed or not, keeping a human a live is no small feat - and every mama deserves mad props for that! Gives yourself a round of applause ladies - you are doing it...and doing it well.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Healthy Summer Snack Ideas for Toddlers

This post was written in exchange for free product at Tropical Smoothie Cafe; however, all opinions are my own.

Now that little man is old enough to be able to eat just about anything, I have thoroughly enjoyed introducing him to new foods, flavors and textures. When we first began introducing solids, it was my goal to ensure that he was eating nutrient rich, healthy foods from the get go. As we've moved into the days of summer heat and all the ice cream and popsicle goodness that comes along with it, I've sought out ways for us to indulge in all the refreshing and delicious snacks, without all the sugar.

Below are some of little man's favorites:

1) Smoothies. We have these at least a few times each week. The nice part about smoothies is that they are refreshing and hydrating and you can fill them with pretty much whatever goodness you'd like. Sometimes we share smoothies at home, or if we are up for an outing, we will head to our local Tropical Smoothie Cafe for a tasty treat. They have so many delicious flavors full of a variety of superfood options. Our favorite is the Island Green made with Spinach, Kale, Pineapple and Banana. This kid just can't get enough of it.

2) DIY Popsicles. Another treat little man loves, especially when he is teething, are popsicles. We love making our own with frozen ice cubes of whatever fruit or veggie we have on hand. Simply puree whatever it is you'd like to use and freeze. We put ours into a mesh feeder for him to devour, but there are several different types of popsicle molds out there as well if you prefer to use those.

3) Fruit. Take your pick with this savory, summer delight. Asher's favorite are blueberries, strawberries, kiwi and pineapple. Always a great and easy choice.

4) Steamed Veggies (Chilled). I try my best to always have steamed veggies on hand in our refrigerator. I make them once or twice a week in a big batch and then am able to readily grab them for snacks or lunches quickly and easily when needed. I often just throw a bit of sea salt on them and they are ready to go. No need to even warm them up!

5) DIY Go Gurt. The real deal has added sugar amongst other ingredients that aren't really all that "real of a deal". I found this idea for creating your own "Go Gurt" that I just adore. You can truly combine whatever fruits and veggies you'd like, and if you have a little one that doesn't do dairy - you could certainly swap out coconut milk yogurt for the original as well.

6) _______sauce in a reusable pouch. Insert whatever word your like to start of this one - apple, pear, sweet potato, a combo pack; you name it. If you've read some of my previous posts on feeding the little guy, you know my love for reusable pouches. A) They are planet friendly, and B) they make on-the-go snacking a breeze. Have some ready to go in your fridge with your child's favorite _____sauce for an easy, cool treat on the way out the door.

Whether it be a fresh-chilled smoothie from Tropical Smoothie Cafe or just a good ole' fashioned blend of cut up straw- and blue- berries, there are a multitude of ways to beat the heat with a healthier treat for both you and your little one this summer.

What are some of your toddler's favorite summertime snacks?

Monday, July 24, 2017

5 Things Every Stay-at-Home Mama Needs + A Giveaway!

So I have been officially "retired" (as the hubs likes to call it) from my full time job for nearly two months and working for the "babe boss" now on full time mama duty. I gotta say friends-  the pay, the breaks and the collegial conversation are definitely lacking, but there is no place in the world I'd rather be. While the days can be long, particularly when naps are short, I have never regretted the decision for a moment. That being said, I have learned a lot along the way already about what I need in order to give my "boss" my all. He deserves my best, and frankly, so do I. In order to fill up both of our "cups", I've found the following to be key:

1. Moments to recharge. Soak them up whenever you can get them. Take advantage of pauses in the day whenever they come (which sometimes isn't all too often). I'll be honest, these moments are such a critical part of "filling up my cup" as they represent my precious time to be still, connect with God, pray and refuel in whatever way, shape or form I need that day. If you are a napper, give yourself permission to nap. If you prefer to sit and bask in a cup of coffee or tea, do it. If you want curl up with a bowl of secret ice cream that you don't want to share to watch the latest episode of "The Bachelorette", I say go for it. Whatever helps you to reload.

2. Self-lovin'. As moms we are constantly taking care of everyone else in our family. But in order to take care of them effectively, we need to take care of ourselves too. And we should not feel guilty in doing so. Our families need us to be healthy. They need us to be around, and not only that but be pleasant to be around. I'll be the first to admit, my child hangs out in kid care at the YMCA a few hours each week while this mama gets in a workout, gets work done or even just takes a breather some days. And while I struggled with the idea at first as I didn't feel like it was "fair" to him, I quickly realized that it's actually good for him too. He has a chance to play with other kids and socialize, while I do ma' thing, and we both leave satisfied customers. If your thing is working out, find the time to work it in. If it is a beauty routine or going to get a massage, feel free to pamper yourself. If it's indulging in a hobby or a DIY project, get it girl. Give yourself permission to do something for yourself. 

3. Time outside of the house. I have heard so many moms say this, and it couldn't be more true in our house. We need to get out of it. I notice that both of us tend to get a little stir crazy if we are in the house for too long. Thus, I plan daily outings to get us out and about in the community. Sidenote: If you haven't already do so, I would highly recommend following along with local blogs that share family friendly events going on around your city - they are a Godsend.  But in all honesty, even on days when we are not up for a big "to do", just going out for a walk, to the park or even to the grocery store (really, though) seems to rejuvenate us both. The fresh air is divine, it encourages me to shower (most of the time) and people watching seriously entertains this kid better than I ever could. Wins all around. 

4. Lists. Because mom brain is fo' real, and lists keep me sane. Disclaimer: I am that person who finds absolute and udder joy in adding items to a list just to check them off. But even if you aren't that passionate about them, lists can still be beneficial. For instance, grocery lists keep us on a budget (which is key now that we aren't bringing in two full incomes, especially when I am a total sucker for the newest flavor of Kombucha and a pint of fro-yo). To-do lists help me to set goals for the day and use my time wisely. Appointment lists help me ensure that we end up where we are supposed to be. You get the drift. One caveat I will add here, is that while lists are definitely the bee's knees - be realistic and forgiving with yourself. I have created many a "overly ambitious" to do list in my day. I have learned over time that it pays to stick with what's manageable to assist you in feeling more accomplished. Not only that, but don't be a slave to your list - your job first and foremost is being a mom - and your boss isn't always predictable. Give yourself (and your boss) some grace. 

5. Community. Whether this be a group of fellow moms that you meet with on the regular. A parent or two that you know you can call for a last minute playdate. Your best friend who is just a phone call away. Or an online community of fellow mamas and other inspiring individuals that you can connect with - finding a tribe is essential. We weren't meant to do it alone. It takes a village peeps. 

That being said, I have recently partnered with some talented ladies in my "digital community" to celebrate the "blogiversary" of Hannah (Just Bee Blog), a beautiful mama-to-be, and bring you all an incredible giveaway chalked with all the essentials any stay-at-home mama (or gal in general) needs to recharge, love on herself, get out of the house and create some seriously adorable lists. Check out the deets below.

It's Giveaway Time!

One lucky winner will receive everything listed below in this amazing prize bundle (over $180 value!)!
  • $50 gift card to Target
  • "Elsa" Succulent Planter from the Oak + Oats Shop

  • Mads + Grace Co. Teething Necklace

  • family devotional cards + a family journal from Gather & Grow's shop

  • infinity scarf
  • Pioneer Woman floral mug
  • weekly to-do list notepad
  • gorgeous journal from 1 Canoe 2
  • "Market List" notepad from 1 Canoe 2
  • decorative ampersand made from a vintage book
  • Rodan + Fields microdermabrasion paste sample
  • Rodan + Fields multi-function eye cream sample
  • "Write The Word" journal from Cultivate What Matters
  • cactus mini erasers
  • gray & white tea towel with teacup print

Go ahead and enter the giveaway below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway ** The giveaway is for U.S. residents only. Winner of the giveaway will be contacted via email. Although the majority of the prizes will be sent in one shipment, the succulent planter, teething necklace, and family devotion cards/journal will be shipped to the winner separately. Best of luck!! 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Homemade Edible Fingerpaint

Seeing as it is now summertime I am always looking for ways to get us outdoors in the sunshine. Doing something creative while soaking in the the summer breeze is an added bonus.

I have recently been on the hunt for some non-toxic, edible (because Lord knows everything goes in his little mouth) finger paint for the little man as I thought it would fulfill the above requirements and provide him with a great toddler friendly sensory experience. Low and behold, finding this type of paint on the market is no easy feat. Thus, I elected to go the homemade route. I did find a couple different recipe ideas here and there out there in Pinterest-land, but they were limited and not exactly what I was looking for, so I tweaked things a bit to meet our needs.

As a base for the fingerpaint I used unsweetened coconut milk yogurt. Little man still doesn't really do much dairy, so that's why I elected to go this route. However, you could certainly swap for whole milk, greek or any other yogurt option. To make three small portions of paint, I used about a container and a half of the yogurt. 

For the color, I wanted to avoid artificial dyes and utilize all natural food sources that were not only bright, but nutritious. I opted for blueberries, beets and turmeric to do the job. 

You need very little beets to create a huge pop of reddish color. I would recommend pureeing them first, then mixing them into the yogurt. 

For the yellow paint, simply add dashes of turmeric until desired colored has been reached.

The blueberries were a little trickier to work with, but I ended up smashing them with a fork (thinking you could blend too) and then mixing them into the yogurt. I then strained the yogurt out, leaving the large chunks of blueberries aside. 

Then it was time for the fun to begin. I used a large foam board we had on hand for our canvas and just dumped the paint out and plopped the toddler on. (Oh, and I would definitely recommend this be a diaper only affair as these ingredients will leave a nice mark on any and all clothing, unless you have an impeccably neat toddler.)

He was definitely unsure of it at first. But once he dipped his fingers (and toes) in and mommy showed him how it was done, he was all in. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

First Birthday Card Book

I am always grateful each year when my birthday comes around for the sweet and thoughtful cards my family and friends spend time picking out and filled with crafted messages of love and celebration. I may even hang several of them on our refrigerator for awhile afterwards to brighten my day as I pass by. But then I often wonder, what should I do with them after that?

Do I throw them up in our attic in a box to store to be looked at once every couple years when I am in the mood to either to a) reminisce or b) for a good purge session?

Or do I just go ahead and bite the bullet and recycle them immediately after I have read them as I know that is most likely their impending doom when I get into one of my minimizing clutter frenzies down the road.

When little man's first birthday rolled around just a few short weeks back, I was left with the same dilemma. That being said, the sentimental mommy in me felt like I just couldn't let go of these cards quite yet. They are a reminder of all those who celebrated this momentous occasion with us. So once I had made up my mind to save them, the real question came in to play - what to do with them? 

Instead of throwing them up in a box in the attic, I decided to repurpose them. Little man loves books and textures these days, both of which I could accomplish with our birthday cards. Not to mention the book content was nothing short of loving and personalized to the babe! 

Putting the book together was simple. I grabbed a large binder ring we had on hand downstairs and some left over ribbon from his party banners. I then created a cover page by modifying his party invitation a bit. I had DIYed his invites which made this simple, but you could really create a cover page any way you'd like. Finally, I hole punched the corner of each card and placed them on the ring. Within minutes we had a new book to add to our collection and an actual use for all of those birthday cards again.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, mister man is loving his new book.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Paleo Smash Cake Sesh

I pondered a great deal over what kind of cake to make for our little man's 1st birthday. I scoured Pinterest (as creating my own recipes is far beyond my baking skill level) looking for something that would be as nutrient rich as possible, while still tasty for his special day. I ran across this Coconut Blueberry Layer Cake from the Foodie Teen, and while not intended to be a smash cake, I decided it just might work.

The ingredients were on point with a coconut/almond flour base and the frosting created with coconut milk and maple syrup. No refined sugar or grain! It was a go. The original called for 3 cake layers, but seeing as our newly turned one-year-old toddler was the only one devouring it, we thought two layers would be beyond plenty, and it was.

As you can see, he was completely unsure of it to start. My little man who loves destroying anything in his path, delicately picked the blueberries off the top and sampled them while all of our eagerly awaiting birthday party attendees watched in anticipation of the big "dig in" moment.

I gladly took an opportunity to show him how it was done, and was pleasantly surprised - the cake was delicious! Little man, seriously you were missing out. He was eventually victorious in snagging his very own bite of actual cake, but the whole scenario was comically anticlimactic.

Until we decided to bust out the one piece we happened to save for our "cake smash" photo session the next morning. Apparently our child just isn't into showing off for a crowd, because he downed this piece like it was his job. Just picked it up whole like a champ and in it went. 

I have to admit I am glad that we got photos from both scenarios as they both give me a good giggle for different reasons. This kid never ceases to surprise me, and I can't wait to see all that we have in store for this next year. One thing is for sure, he did end up loving his cake - which was the ultimate goal - so it comes with the babe (and mama) stamp of approval for fellow first time cake smashers (and beyond). Snag the recipe again here.

Special thanks to my sister for her cake baking skills and Marissa K Webb photography for capturing these precious moments.