Photography by Amy Termini Photography
One of lifes greatest treasures is being given a blessing we didn't even know to ask for.
A blessing that God knew our hearts needed long before we ever existed on this vast Earth.
My darling son Grey is one of those very good things.
Growing up in a family of girls, I wasn't exposed to brothers, male cousins nor did i have very many male friends. It was tea parties, princess dresses and spa days all around. When my sister and I would play house, our kids were always little girls, I nannied for little girls and as I grew older, I guess I just expected I'd also raise little Mini Mandi's.
When Doug and I spoke about children while we were dating we both expressed that we'd love to raise a daughter together. (He also comes from a family of 5 sisters, he is the only boy) and it just felt natural to both of us to assume that's what we'd be best at.
In truth I was scared to raise the sex I wasn't familiar with. I hate bugs. Neither Doug nor I watch any sport. I'm delicate and dainty. A girls girl. How would I raise a boy into a man that this world needs?
And then, God gave us a son. And from the moment they placed that little boy on my chest I knew. I just knew. He was meant for us. He would change our world for the better. He would stretch us. And grow us. Inspire us and move us to love so big and so wide, that any preconceptions of what we thought we "needed" flew right out the window.
And with that great, wide, deep love came the peace from our Lord that I cannot raise a boy into a Godly man alone. Only God can help me do that. Only can God can equip me for a role that heavy.
And it is He that placed a Godly, strong, kind, gentle, manly man in our home as husband and father. It is through Doug that Grey will learn what it means to be a good man. A good husband. A good brother. A good father. All the things that I've never been and can never be and therefor can never model. But Doug can. And I count myself blessed to have him as my partner, raising this little boy by my side.
I, as his mother, can show him how to nurture, care for his home, work hard, follow dreams and teach him lessons, big and small, day in and day out, all while modeling Christ to the best of my ability right here in these four walls. That's what I can do. By the help of our great God in heaven, that's what I can do.
As my fears started to fade away, carried into the distance by the ever present peace of God, room was made to dream of what I could share with our son. I've waited years to play cars with a little one. And now I get to do that every day. I'm learning about superheroes and Star Wars and bugs and dinosaurs. I do chores wearing super hero masks and get the tightest, squeeziest hugs from a little boy who loves me more than life.
And my breath catches, and I wonder, goodness how could I have EVER lived without this? Without you? YOU are our family Grey. My little boy. Our perfect little puzzle piece. Thank you for loving us unconditionally. We will spend our whole lives loving you the same way.
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What Is It?
Tot School is a way to introduce your young toddler to structured learning and play time. It involves simple themes tailored to your child's abilities and interests.
I never force anything on Grey, as he is still so young I don't feel like any of this is a "necessity" right now as I follow much of the Montessori way. I let him lead and he seems to really enjoy it and thrive on a curriculum.
Why Tot School?
I introduced Tot School for three reasons.
1. As Grey got to be more active, I wanted a way to break up our day and give us, not only activities to bond us, but to grow his learning, while waiting for daddy to come home.
2. I saw that he naturally was progressing well with speaking, and picking up concepts, and I wanted to enhance his daily learning experiences with an actual lesson. And these lessons we work on all week.
3. Due to my view of the school system and our family's personal beliefs on certain topics, I very well may homeschool beyond preschool. Tot School is a good way to prepare me to work on curriculum, organization of a class environment for Grey and patience when it comes to teaching a younger mind.
Curriculum + Themes
Currently on Week 19, we have been having fun mixing it up week by week. Now that I see that Grey is grasping concepts easier and easier, and as his attention span increases, we now do TWO themes most weeks, breaking it up into one activity in the AM around 10, and the other around 3-4 after nap. I primarily search for craft ideas on Pinterest, books from Amazon and the library and more educational based activities from the local teacher resource store and choose our themes based on what I feel like he's about to really take off with or may need help with. Read below to see the themes we've already worked with and what we have coming up this Spring.
Themes And Activities Weeks 1-19
What We Have Planned For Spring 2018
Themes to watch for this Spring/Summer! Also, moving forward, more of the crafts, books and activities will be linked to printables, how-to's and more.
Arctic animals, Ocean, Weather, Emotions and Feelings, Spring, Gardening, Farming, Bugs, Alphabet, Easter, Summer, St. Patricks Day, Jungle Animals, Farm Animals and so much more!
FOLLOW ME ON INSTAGRAM AND SEE OUR TOT SCHOOL LIVE IN ACTION EACH WEEK!
This is a sponsored conversation from Mums the Word Network and The Stork OTC. All opinions are my own.
The holidays are a mix of magic and remembrance for us.
Magic, now that our miracle baby is here with us. Remembrance of what the holidays were to us for the years leading up to him joining our family. I remember the past holidays full of "when will you grow your family?", seeing the joy of other families with little ones and the added "babies look good on you two. It's time." Each comment crushing my soul a little more. We'd been married four years, and everyone in the world (or so it seemed) wanted to see us with children.
The thing that most didn't know at the time was that we WERE trying. And we too wanted to see us with children. We had been trying. For three years we tried, both with and without medical intervention, to grow our family.
The Christmas season of 2015 brought much joy when we found out we were expecting, however, just three short weeks later we'd learn that the baby was not viable and we experienced a great loss a week before Christmas. In those moments I was grateful to be surrounded with family, holiday obligations and business, but my heart ached for the "almost".
A year later, almost exactly to the day, we found out we were expecting Grey and I literally fell to my knees in gratefulness and pure joy. We had changed our protocol with our doctors and something worked to bring us our sweet boy.
Fast forward to this year and we are celebrating our second Christmas with our sweet little guy and we are now looking to the future and what we ultimately want our family to look like.
We know there is a realistic chance that we could, again, struggle and are open to options that may help us conceive faster in natural, non-invasive ways that don't cost the large pricetag that IVF and other methods bring along.
Which is why I'm thankful for discreet over the counter options like Stork OTC. Found at Target in the family planning aisle, Stork OTC is a product that aids in helping couples with certain issues conceive faster, naturally. It’s cervical cap insemination technique helps deliver sperm as close to the cervical opening as possible, increasing the chances of fertilization by up to 20%.
Just $59.99 at most retailers, (I got mine at Target, because I practically live there this time of year), it's a small price to pay for a higher chance of us growing our family. To me, I can't put a price on that.
You can also find it online at www.StorkOTC.com.
I don't think I've ever felt the Christmas spirit as much as I have this year at Christmastime.
Christmas with our almost one and a half year old is one of the most joyous, expectant, beautiful things I've ever experienced. Each morning, in his Christmas themed jammies (you know I bought them all), we sip tea and eat muffins at Grey plays with the "choo choo" grandpa brought him early and it feels like Christmas morning. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
In addition to the joy of our sweet boy, we have so many blessings to be thankful for. A roof over our heads. Warm clothing. Healthy food in our bellies. Clean water. Friends and family we adore. Some of our best friends are to be married soon. And Mr. Charming and I recently sponsored two children, in Indonesia and Mexico respectively, who we plan, pray and hope to sponsor through high school. They are currently 3 and 4 years old, and are beyond adorable. We will be helping them go to school, get medical care, attend a church and Bible school, get nutritious food and supplements and let them know there are people in this world, in addition to their parents who are working so hard but who are victims are poverty, who love them and are praying for them.
I hope that these actions will deliver an example of eternal serving that Greyson can grow up with. I pray that these decisions his father and I make, especially at a time of year that is so muddled with materialism, will plant seeds in his heart that will help grow roots that will keep him on a firm foundation of faith, servanthood and loving Christ.
Before we had Grey, and through our struggle with infertility, God put it on my heart to care for a child that wasn't biologically mine. I really struggled with what that meant for a long time, as we so badly wanted a baby that was a piece of my husband and I. I think I had started looking at other options (foster care, adoption) before Mr. Charming, but I'm so glad we kept trying. God's plan is so, so good.
And with his blessing of provision, we weren't able to help just one more child, but two. And maybe, down the road it will look different, or another child will share our roof, but for now this is the way we feel called to love on "siblings" around the world for our little man.
I pray, as you count down these 14 days left until Christmas, that you can truly soak in the magic of the season. And that you too, will follow your heart and Christ's calling for how you can be a blessing to "the least of these."
For more information on how we got involved, www.compassion.com is who we went through through our church home, CCV, www.ccv.church.
And P.S. LOOOOOOK at our nugget LAST Christmas. He's growing so fast.
What a beautiful, exhausting, joyful, emotional sixteen months it has been as a mother.
I count myself blessed every moment I get to spend with this little guy who is becoming such a spunky, quirky, cute, funny little person. No one tells ya all the feels you will have EVERY DAY playing this role, and so I thought I'd compile a little entry of what motherhood is to me. To inspire others, as a keepsake for myself and to lighten the usually heavy conversations that can arise in this season.
Afterall, they're only small a little while, so soak up every moment, love them hard and enjoy the ride.
This month has brought on A LOT of new tastes to little man's palette and many more opportunities for him to sample foods outside of the house. This has made going out, and bringing him along on our date nights, much more fun and easy.
Not having to bring so much external food from home makes it easier to be spontaneous and I'm thankful he is eating so many fruits, vegetables, healthy oils and meats now because we can order something for him at almost any restaurant I can eat at.
He's moved to having lunches and dinners that are unique to what we are having, so moving forward you will see separate breakfast, lunch and dinner sections for even more meal ideas.
We also introduced, GLUTEN. (insert shocked gasps here), for many reasons, that I will talk about in next months post, but you will see some bread included in the meals below.
*Note that these are the meals he's served from breakfast, lunch and dinner. He also gets two-three snacks a day. Snacks include apple slices, pear slices, organic teething cookies, organic puffs and vegetable based baby food purees
Banana Bread, Strawberries and Egg Yolk
Turkey Lunch Meat, Avocado, Freeze Dried Berries
Leftover rice from Chipotle, Shredded Chicken and Peaches
If there's ever a chance to infuse more music into our lives. I'm all about it.
Experts say exposing your baby to a variety of music can increase their social skills and their intelligence.
Myself, being the fan of music that I am, and my significant background in the field, I knew I wanted our children to have a well-rounded sense of the music arts.
With this in mind, I started a tradition with Grey that allows him time to soak up different genres, sounds and artists every day, giving him a chance to find what it is that he prefers. And I have to admit, it's been quite cute to watch, and so far, 60's rock is winning. #OldSoul.
Just in case anyone else is interested in doing something similar to expose your little to a variety of genres, instruments and songs, below, I outlined the music I play on different days of the month. Since I limit TV in our home to only 1-2 episodes of educational shows a day (less if we go out with daddy or for a playdate), and no music or tv while we are doing our "learning time", music has been a fun way to break up the day and make meal times more entertaining.
I usually play music during breakfast, while I'm prepping dinner and during one of the play times after a nap. All sticking to the same genre on the specified day. I use a music app on my phone to randomize songs in the particular genre I choose to play that day.
Feel free to be creative and tailor your list to YOUR tastes, and to the types of music you want your littles exposed too. This is just what works for us!
(Classical and Opera proved to be too hard to listen to all throughout the day. I felt like I lived on an elevator, so we do Friday mornings or winding down before nap to the list below.)
On weekends we just mix it up and listen to Christian or Top 40 Radio when we are out and about with my husband, as the weekends are for adventures, errands, day trips and quality family time.
For more on what I'm doing in music, check out www.NVERecords.com where I've just accepted a position as label director and couldn't be more thrilled to be back in music full time once again!
As we dive deeper into Baby Led Weaning, I thought it would be fun to share the meals that little man enjoys. He's got SUCH an appetite and it's no surprise he's our child, since he's a foodie through and through. We stick to organic, healthy choices for him, and as of yet he's still dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free and pretty much Top 8 Free. We are going slow with introductions and now that he's almost 1, we will be introducing more and more for variety and nutrition.
I've posted some photos of the meals I put together for him, and I plan to share along the way, leading up to toddler meals. These are the meals he's currently enjoying at 10 months of age.
I would love your ideas too! If you have some great infant or toddler food or meal ideas, feel free to share. Any recipes of a specific dish I make for him, I will link to the recipe here on NoshandNurture.com!
*Note that these are the meals he's served from breakfast, lunch and dinner. He also gets two-three snacks a day. Snacks include apple slices, pear slices, organic teething cookies, organic puffs and vegetable based baby food purees.
lunches + dinners
when we're out
The beauty of eating clean, whole foods, is that Grey can usually eat some of what I order.
When traveling in Long Beach, we stayed at the Westin and for breakfast I ordered scrambled eggs, gluten free toast and avocado.
I shared my avocado with Grey, ordered him a side of bananas and brought a puree pouch of baby food to round out his meal.
Mama + baby were satisfied. Done and done!
Keep an eye out for What Grey Ate, every month on Nosh and Nurture! And as always I'd love to hear your feedback and what you're feeding your littles.
I also share a lot of our mealtimes, and more, on my Instagram Stories, so if you're over there, follow along! Find me @noshandnurture.
Today I packed up Grey's Easter outfit in his baby memory box after church and my breath caught in my throat.
I glanced in and there they were.
The outfit we brought him home in, his first Halloween costume (Donald Duck), his Thanksgiving onesie, his Black Friday attire (haha), his Christmas outfit and jammies, his Valentine's Day outfit, his dedication/blessing suit and as I placed his Easter outfit atop it all, I smiled. And then I teared up. Because it's going so, so fast. My baby has experienced all the major holidays already! My baby will soon be my baby no more and his next milestone will be his BIRTHDAY.
Easter was so beautifully special. For the past five years, Mr. Charming and I have attended the sunrise service at our church and really did plan to make it this year. But the babes stayed up until nine and at the 5am alarm, we couldn't bring ourselves to wake him. So we planned to attend the 10:30 service.
We got to church a little early, because the grounds are BEAUTIFUL and made for the perfect location to shoot his Easter photos and give him his Easter basket. It was a gorgeous sunny day and lightly breezy. His basket was simple, a bible book, a bunny book and a cuddly bunny. We talked all day about Jesus and God's love.
As we finished photos we went in to get a seat and were turned away because it was FULL! (YAY CHURCH!) Which we didn't mind because we love to see our church growing and thriving and we came prepared with lunch for all three of us. We would just hang out until the noon service.
We sat at a table outside and enjoyed a healthy lunch while Greyson ate and watched the big kids play. After we ate we played some corn hole (our church is so fun, haha) and let baby crawl around for a while. We got our seats for the noon service and Greyson made it halfway through before he was over it.
I took him to the Mom's Lounge and nursed him and rocked him and held him as he napped while Mr. Charming stayed in service. What was SO nice was there was a screen playing it all for me to see while he napped so I didn't miss the message.
This year our churches focus what on the importance of the Resurrection. That you can't believe in Jesus' teachings if you don't believe in his Resurrection. That its pointless to do so, because the Resurrection is what its all about and what ultimately saved us all.
After nap and service we took flowers to my husbands mom and she gave Grey some more Easter goodies and snuggles and we relaxed at home the rest of the evening.
It was so perfect and special and I loved spending SO much of the day at church. I'm hoping to do that a few more times before the weather becomes too much to bear to be outside here.
I hope you all had a beautiful Easter with your family and friends and that the message resonated with you and your soul. Refreshing you as ours did mine.
Celebrate always! For He is Risen!
Today our precious little bubs turned 6 months old.
Half a year old. We are halfway to his first birthday and I am feeling alllllll the mama feels today.
As hard as the early baby days were, and sometimes still are (we will sleep good someday again right?) I am starting to see just how lightning fast all of this goes and with each new milestone I see him moving further away from being my tiny baby and more of him growing into my little boy.
Today was a beautiful day to celebrate him, as Sundays are our favorite around here. We get daddy cuddles in the morning. Slow, delicious breakfasts, THIS breakfast was on repeat all weekend and we spent the late morning in the sunshine playing with toys. We also decided to implement a family tradition of celebrating his half-birthday.
And although he can't yet enjoy these delicious cupcakes (he seemed to love on his carrots today though) I hope he appreciates the traditions that we are creating with him. I remember growing up, being three, four, five years old and loving when I could say I was a half a year older! Always in a rush to grow up when we're young... so I thought it'd be fun to make it a fun day where we could bake cupcakes, maybe pick a special toy and have family time just celebrating him and his life. Every step of the way.
If you want to snag my recipe for my white cake mix that is gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free and soy-free you can click here. It's SCRUMPTIOUS. For the frosting I used Miss Jones organic vanilla frosting and dye-free sprinkles by Indian Tree.
This month has really been a favorite with him so far. His little personality is bursting out and he makes me smile bigger and love harder than I ever thought imaginable. He's weighing in at just over 18 lbs and his chubby cheeks and chunky thighs are EVERYTHING. He is loving and cuddly and ADORES his daddy. I know they will be best pals.
He laughs and it's the best sound this side of heaven and he smiles and talks with his eyes. A trait that made me fall in love with his daddy. His sandy blonde hair and hazel eyes goes to show we really couldn't have guessed how he'd turn out (we thought it'd be dark features all the way from daddy) and listening to him "read" his little books is probably the cutest thing ever. My little smarty.
We love every new milestone, month and experience with our sweet little Grey.
Do you have a favorite tradition you've implemented with your littles?