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.
You Can Follow Me On Instagram To Watch Us Every Week
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!
As you all know I am already a Pampers mama. I not only adore the actions they've taken to provide hypoallergenic options for sensitive babies, which if Baby P is anything like his or her mama, will be, but the customer service I've received in speaking directly with them has been phenomenal and makes me feel like a valued mama every time.
I get to share something special with you fellow Pampers mom's who currently use diapers or training pants. And if you're not currently a Pampers user, the coupon coming out this weekend will make it worth trying.
Since June is National Potty Training Month, I've partnered with Pampers to tell you about an offer you can find in your Sunday paper THIS WEEKEND, on June 12th, 2016.
There will be a coupon offer for $3 off two bags or one box of any Pampers Diapers or Pampers Training Pants. So put on a hot pot of coffee, feed the kiddos breakfast and get out the scissors as you kick back, relax and peruse the paper while getting your savings.
Being a manufacturers coupon, you can use the coupon at any grocery, mass retail or discount store where diapers are sold. If you are new to Pamper's there are many options to choose from in the Pamper's line -
Pampers Baby Dry
Pampers Easy Ups
Pampers Under Jams
For more information on Pampers diapers and training pants, visit http://www.pampers.com
Or visit Pamper's on social media -
Do you currently use Pampers? Which ones are your favorite? I stocked up on the Pampers Sensitive for when I bring Baby P home this summer but would love your feedback!
One of the many things I love about my husband is that he is a builder. Having gone to school to be an architect before switching to dental, he learned many valuable tools of the trade that have allowed him to make our lives and home more beautiful.
Having built our wedding alter and the dining table for our home, he surprised me this past week after building our soon to be son or daughter a cradle.
Major swoon moment. You can see the cradle here along with my #MothersPromise, diaper choicie & first letter to our future babe.
It was in this moment I thought about the natural touches one could add to make their nursery space more authentic and I have put together a little list of ideas & crafts that are easy to do.
|| WOODEN BLOCKS ||
There is just something about wooden blocks that I adore. Something so simplistic and educational about their innocent little ABCs and 123s that adorn them. These are simple to make and take minimal supplies.
1.) Head to your nearest craft store and purchase 2" square blocks or your nearest hardware store and get a 2" wooden beam to cut into blocks.
2.) Make sure they are sanded well, as to prevent any little hands from getting scraped or splintered.
3.) Get crafty! You can use wood glue to adhere small wooden letters or numbers from a craft store, or you can stencil or paint them on.
4.) You can leave them natural wood for a more rustic feel, or get creative and colorful with a paint palette of your choice.
5.) Make sure all surfaces of paint and glue are completely dry before allowing children to use.
|| CHEVRON NURSERY LETTERS ||
One of my favorite items for a nursery wall is the monogram. And chevron is still trending. Mr. Charming and I are unable to incorporate this as of yet, since we don't know if we are bringing home a boy or girl, but when we do, trust I will be making one of these.
1.) Go to your local craft store and pick up a large wooden letter that is the first letter in your babies name.
2.) Make sure to purchase two wood-based paint colors that compliment your nursery palette, wood glue, craft tape and a roll of burlap ribbon.
3.) Once home, tape off a chevron pattern in the desired thickness and using one of your paint colors, fill in the first color. Once dry, repeat, this time painting the opposite of the chevron pattern.
4.) Once dry, tie a decorative burlap bow and adhere to the corner for a rustic & natural finishing touch.
|| MAKE OLD NEW AGAIN ||
If you're feeling adventurous you convert an old piece of furniture into something new for your baby or toddler. Some ideas include:
1.) Turn a thin nightstand into a wooden "refridgerator" converting the drawers into a "freezer" and "fridge" door.
2.) Turn a small desk or entertainment cabinet into a play kitchen. There are many tutorials online.
3.) Repurpose old wooden frames into chalkboards with a little chalkboard paint.
|| THE BIG BOY/GIRL STOOL ||
My neice adores helping in the kitchen, but little arms and little legs can get frustrating for little ones. revive an old wooden stool with a new finish or stain and paint. Paint their name or a fun nursery rhyme character. Or better yet, let them join in on the fun and make their own abstract art. They'll get to be creative and be mom's tall helper next time you're in the kitchen.
|| FURNITURE ||
If you're feeling adventurous like we were, or if you have a handy hubby too, below is a list of ideas for one-of-a-kind touches you can make on your own nursery.
Have you made any toys, crafts or special furniture pieces for your little one? I'd LOVE to hear your ideas. Share them in the comment below. Also, if you have any questions about our cradle or any of the projects, feel free to ask away!
Last night Mr. Charming & I went to start our registry.
Insert all the girlish, happy, blissed-out squeals here. We decided to do it earlier than later, because we are already to starting to make some of our own, larger purchases, and we wanted the amazing rewards from Babies R' Us that go along with it. (No, this is not a sponsored post. I just think their registry program is that awesome.)
Along with this post just being a super happy dance on paper, er screen, I also recommend my suggestions for where I think organic is best.
In almost two hours, we only made it through about a quarter of the store. Most of our time was spent choosing what we believe is the best stroller and car seat for us. I let Mr. Charming take the reigns on this, since I chose the crib. We found a perfect match for both of us and baby. It's sleek, streamline, lightweight for little ol' Mandi, comfortable, high safety ratings and converts to last until baby is 4 years old! Win. Win. Win.
And can I just say, seeing your husband testing out your first child's stroller? Priceless, endorphin surging, swoon moment of a lifetime. Seriously almost cried. Thank you Jesus for these moments.
It's an overwhelming selection of EVERYTHING when you go to register, and when ours is complete, I'll post what I believe we needed vs. what I felt we didn't. Doug's five sisters and my three sisters have had plenty of littles over the years, so we've got to learn a lot about need vs. want when it comes to infant gear.
Although, the wiper and bottle warmer were pretty cool. I mean, would you want a cold, wet rag on your behind in the middle of the night? Doesn't sound too pleasant. I try to put myself in their booties when weighing what's necessary.
Right now I'm researching some organic brands offered at Babies R' Us to see which we are going to go with. Burts Bees vs. Honest vs. BabyGanics Vs. Earths Best. I also like the attributes of Pampers Premium to protect my little baby's bum So far, Burt's Bees has the best lavender lotion, as I miss the old J&J lavender night lotion of the past. BabyGanics smelled too earthy for us and Earths Best seems to have a good selection. New waters to explore, and so many options. But happy there are so many organic options. With Johnson and Johnson and other popular baby companies coming under fire for so many harmful chemicals, it's good to know we can opt for better options for our developing little one.
The items below are where we are going organic or chemical-free in the nursery and our home, once completed I'll publish my faves, once I've tried them out.
All Bath & Diaper Products
Our Crib Mattress
Mittens and other items that touch the face
Toys (Eco Friendly and Chemical Free)
All Cleaners For Home & Baby Clothes
I'd love to hear your feedback on your favorite organic baby brands! Leave it in the comments below!
A guest post by Rebekah of My MSPI Baby
It’s that time of year again, kids and teachers are either already back at school or will be shortly. That means your family is going to be exposed to all sort of germy goodness in the weeks to come.
I don’t know about you, but keeping my family as healthy as possible is definitely at the top of my back to school list…even if it might not be printed on that lengthy list of supplies we all get from the kiddo’s schools!
There are many ways that you can help your kids and yourself to support strong immune systems. Here are some of my personal favorites, and many that we use in our house on a daily basis.
What are some of your tried and true ways of keeping your immune system healthy and strong? Make sure to share below in the comments section as I would love to hear about what’s working for you!
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please confirm any information obtained from or through this web site with other sources, and review all information regarding any medical condition or treatment with your physician. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on this website. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.
Rebekah is foremost a Christian, wife, and mom to 3 amazing kids who range in age from 8 months to 14 years. She is a lover of all things healthy, especially for sensitive families. Swing on by her blog to find information on MSPI (Milk Soy Protein Sensitivity), allergy free recipes, tips for a chemical free home, and plenty of deals to keep your budget healthy too. - www.MyMSPIBaby.com
A very special post today! I was honored to be interviewed by The Stealthy Kitchen Mama for her Children's Book Worm Series. A lover of all books, spending hours on end at traditional bookstores, and lover of the written word, I was so happy when she asked me to be a part of this. I believe wholeheartedly in planting the seed of the magic of books in children from a young age.
Next up on my Lunch 4 Littles series is a kid friendly chili and hot dog dish done healthier.
My nieces and nephews adore hot dogs. At every party or holiday event, hot dogs are usually on the menu. What I don't adore are all of the preservatives, nitrates and unnecessary animal parts (I'm sorry but it's true) that these little bodies are consuming.
I have to admit, after this post, I actually ate it and it was delicious. So mommies, this is something you can eat too, and since all the ingredients are organic you don't have to feel guilty for eating what the kids are having. I added some green beans on the side to add in a vegetable, and if your kids like green veggies, all the better to add it to their meal too!
What I Served:
1 Applegate Farms Turkey Hotdog
1 Can of Fry's (or Kroger) Organic Vegan Chili Beans (they are very mild)
1 Gluten-Free Yahuda's Cracker, Crumbled on top (These contain egg, so omit if allergic)
I sliced the hotdog and cooked in a pan until seared through. In a small sauce pan I heated the chili until hot, then let it cool. You want to make sure it's fully cooked, but then set aside so you don't burn little mouths. Put it together in a small dish and serve with crumbled crackers on top.
What are some of your favorite toddler and kid meals? Contact me and the best will be featured here!
Your a mom. It's Friday afternoon, you worked all week, you're on deadline, the laundry is flowing out of the laundry room and into the hall, the kids had a half-day and you havn't even started thinking about dinner. A dinner in which your in-laws will be present for. So I understand why you would just sit the kids down and feed them a hot dog. Or macaroni. Or a burger. It's easy. It's cheap. And it allows you to get to the laundry. The paperwork. The dinner prep.
Now, I myself am not a mommy yet. However, I do see a lot of friends and families presented with the challenge of wanting to feed their littles better but not having the time, resources or recipes to do so. So I wanted to start a series of posts that help put together meals for toddlers, kids and teens that are still in the traditional food realm, but that cut back on unnecessary sugar, starches, fat and artificial ingredients.
The good news is that GOOD QUALITY food still does exist. Sometimes it means visiting another market or a farmer's market. Sometimes it means cooking in the oven over the microwave, but for the most part, kids can still enjoy the food they know and love, while you give them healthier options to do so. Recipe for today below.
A Healthier Hot Dog & Fries:
1 Applegate Farms Natural Turkey Hot Dog - These hot dogs are casein and gluten-free, use no anti-biotics, are humanely raised and have no nitrates, nitrites or nasty preservatives.
5 Dr. Praeger Sponge Bob Broccoli Bites. These cute little potato and broccoli bites are fun shaped, and delicious for the kids who love fries. As a healthier version, they are packed with broccoli bits. These are made with egg, so if your little has an allergy, skip these and maybe bake some healthy sweet potato fries.
A handful of organic green beans. (or any vegetable your little will eat) Greens are very important.
I served this dish with a side of paleo ketchup, made with xyltiol and apple cider vinegar instead of corn-syrup that is found in store-bought ketchup. Nature's Hollow makes an amazing ketchup that is sugar free. If you are going to buy ketchup at a regular store, opt for Simply Heinz which skips the corn-syrup. 90% of corn in the US contains GMO's so best to skip it all together unless it states it's verified non-GMO.
Remember to keep mealtime fun and allow kids to see food in a positive, healthy light.
This is a crucial time in a kid's life, they are growing and it's important they receive the proper fuel. I've heard the argument many, many times that "what I'm feeding them is no different than when we were growing up and we turned out fine."
However, it is different than when we, or our parents, or our parents parents were growing up. GMO's (genetically modified organisms) didn't play as big of a role back then. Neither did the amount of harsh chemicals and pesticides used in our food supply today. Additionally, it may seem that we "turned out fine", while in reality cancer, auto-immune issues and diabetes numbers have sky-rocketed and new diseases that didn't exist 10, 20, 40, 60 years ago have come into play. Problems that weren't around when the 1950's diners served up fresh milk milkshakes and grass fed burgers.
Earth Day is April 22nd, 2014. What does that mean, you ask? Well, unofficially it was always a day I tried to at least plant a tree, or attend an expo, most often than not though I ended up just using less water or electricity. This earth is our temporary home, and I believe we do have a responsibility to keep it clean, and help provide a good future for our children, and their children.
Officially, Earth Day is an annual event, celebrated on April 22, on which events are held worldwide to demonstrate support for environmental protection. It was first celebrated in 1970, and is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network, and celebrated in more than 192 countries each year.
I've put together a list of some things we can do to help give back, that helps not only our Earth, but those around us as well. And of course, I threw in some yummy Earth Day inspired treats! I would love to hear what you do for Earth day, or what you plan to do this year. Comment and inspire others to make a difference.