What I’m Listening To

Hey Mamas! Have you read any good books lately? I love, love, LOVE reading! Reading fiction at the end of my day (or during nap time) is my favorite way to unwind and give me some self care.

My preference to read is fiction, but this year I really wanted to challenge myself to grow more as a mom, wife, and in my walk with Jesus. I’ve rediscovered the beauty of audiobooks. I love that I can be washing dishes, doing laundry, or driving around and be soaking in some goodness.

Do you have the Hoopla app, Mama? I just have to share the good news, it’s free and with your library card you have access to so many good reads, or listens. 🙂

I just finished listening to “Becoming Mom Strong,” by Heidi St. John. Wow! First of all, Heidi is a mom of 7, so pretty much a rockstar. I love how she weaves in humorous stories of her children and herself to keep it real. Heidi has scripture to sharpen and challenge the Mamas to be strong and courageous as we are in the battle of our lives, fighting for our kids spiritually. Each chapter ends with “prayer points,” recapping what was talked about and guiding Mamas how to pray for themselves and their kiddos. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars!

I am currently listening to, “Parenting Scripts,” co-authored by Amber Lia and Wendy Speake. These ladies also wrote, “Triggers,” which I have not yet read or listened to. I’d recommend going with “Triggers,” first, as it seems like this book lays the foundation, but they can both be read separately. “Parenting Scripts,” is rocking my world a bit. Each chapter contains different potential scenarios that occur in most homes. The authors encourage parents to take time away from these repetitive situations and ask the Holy Spirit to guide them in rewriting a new, positive, scripture based script for the future. What I love about this book is the women recognize and say repeatedly that each individual family is unique and will have different scripts for the same scenarios. And that’s how it’s supposed to be! God is a Creative God and made each family special with their own personalities. I am not done with this book yet, but give it 5 out of 5 stars already!

What have you been reading or listening to lately, Mama? Do you prefer to read a physical book or listen? Share in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!

Free VPK in Palm Beach County

Hey Mamas! Did you know that in Palm Beach County they offer FREE VPK for children the year before they enter kindergarten? Actually, if you live anywhere in the state of Florida, and your child turns 4 years old prior to September 1, they are eligible to participate in this program!

What does VPK stand for? Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten.

How many hours a day is my child in school? Each school is slightly different, but they will be in school for 540 hours total. Usually, it’s three hours a day, but some places offer extended days or an extra half hour. Anything over the 540 hours (3 hours per day) is paid for by the parent.

What are the steps? I’m so glad you asked!

  1. Register at this website here. First you need to form an account, then log in and fill out forms. You can do this as early as January 1.
  2. Wait and look daily for the voucher! It should take no more than 10 days for it to arrive in your email inbox.
  3. While you wait, tour the schools in your area! Google which schools accept the VPK voucher and go see which one is the best fit for your family/time schedule.
  4. Once you have chosen your school, ask them when their enrollment opens to the public. Some schools fill up QUICK. Like, within the first half hour of the first day that they open enrollment. I would get a gauge on how quickly spots of filled up in the past for your school of choice, and plan on being there accordingly. The school my son went to had open enrollment as early as mid-February last year!
  5. Have your voucher and paperwork ready to go!

Here’s some questions to ask when touring schools:

  1. What sets your school apart from others in the area?
  2. How do you prepare children for kindergarten?
  3. What is an example of the students’ daily schedule?
  4. What are the start and finish times each day?
  5. How long is recess?
  6. What is the snack policy?
  7. What is the discipline policy?

Some questions to ask once you have chosen the school:

  1. What is the date and time of open enrollment?
  2. How many spots/classes do you have available and how quickly have they filled in the past?
  3. What documents do I need to bring (in addition to the voucher) the day I sign my child up?

Do you have a child that participated in VPK, Mama? My son went to an awesome school last year called Church In The Gardens! I was so pleased with our experience there. Do you have any tips for other Mamas? Share below, I’d love to hear from you!

Small Yes’s and Small No’s

Where did the first month of 2020 go, Mamas? I feel like it breezed on by, quickly!

I’ve been doing some reflecting on 2019 and what I want 2020 to look like. A big goal for 2020 is to pay off any remaining debt we have, and we are SO CLOSE, I can just taste it! I am finding it’s best for me to focus on one goal and go after it HARD.

Our goals can be met, but the daily choices we make play a big part in that. My sister shared with me a recent sermon from Journey Church (shout out to them!). The speaker challenged the people that small “yes’s” and small “no’s” will lead you closer to where you want to be.

You want to lose some weight? Saying “no” to eating after dinner time once, gives you more power to say “no” the next night, and the next. Saying “yes” to exercising when you want to sleep in, makes it easier to say “yes” when future alarm clocks go off.

This Mama loves a break from cooking once a week. Really, it’s the cleaning part, not the cooking part that I want a break from! 🙂 We used to eat out a few times a month at Chipotle, Blaze Pizza, or some fast casual restaurant where our family can eat off it twice and it’s super affordable. For the month of January, I challenged myself and my family to refrain from eating out.

And Mama, it was CHALLENGING! I said a lot of small no’s and what felt like some big NO’s when I really wanted something to treat myself and my family. This has greatly impacted our family budget for the better! And helped us work towards the big goal of paying off that debt!

Do you have a big goal for the year? What are some small “no’s” and “yes’s” you can do daily, Mama? I’d love to hear from you!

What’s On My Christmas List

*This post contains affiliate links.*

With 7 more days until Christmas, the countdown is ON!

I have several Mama friends that sell for awesome companies. I love supporting and promoting them, so today I want to share what’s on my Christmas list and give a shout out to those Mamas!

1. Pure haven. Pure Haven is a toxic free company that makes everything from cleaning products to skin care, essential oils to baby body wash. I love, love, LOVE their skin care line! I feel good knowing the products I put on my face are pure and are helping my skin glow and reduce signs of age. My friend Amie sells for Pure Haven, and you can buy from this link here and connect with her on facebook here.

2. Crunchi. Crunchi is a local company to all you here in Palm Beach County. They are widely known for their toxic free and high performance makeup. Some favorites I like to purchase by Crunchi are their: body bars, sunscreen, and eye shadow. I will be receiving their foundation and concealer for Christmas, and I am very excited! Lianne Smith is passionate about educating women about how to live a toxic-free lifestyle. She has a great facebook group where she posts all kinds of helpful information. You can shop with Lianne here.

3. Norwex. Norwex is famous,  and in my opinion, brilliant for their microfiber cloths. These bad boys (or good boys!) remove 99.9% of bacteria from a surface. With. Just. WATER. Whaaat? These cloths help reduce my costs of cleaning products and helps save the environment by using no more paper towels! My girl, Christy Thompson, is a Norwex consultant and is very knowledgeable about their products. You can connect with her here and shop on her website here. They currently have some sweet Christmas deals going on!

4. Noonday collection. This company provides sustainable jobs for men and women around the globe. They make beautiful jewelry, bags, and even Christmas ornaments! I own three pairs of their earrings and would love to own them all! You can connect with Caroline or Jessica by clicking on their names and shopping at their sites.

5. Beach body on demand. I must admit, I totally dug insanity, p90x, and especially t25. I wore those dvds out. As a mama on a run, I’m always looking for effective and timely ways to get my workout in. I love that beach body now offers their workouts by streaming them, and the options are numerous. Molly is an excellent Coach and loves to encourage women to make healthy lifestyle choices. You can connect with her here.

What’s on your shopping list, Mama?

 

Thanksgiving Place Card Craft

Most Fridays I host a toddler art class at my house. It’s a super fun way to get my Lil to interact with kiddos her age and practice the art of sharing and painting all at the same time. I typically do a read aloud and pair it with a project I’ve found on Pinterest.

Ever since doing a handprint paint project, Lillian is determined to paint her hands (and arms, imagine evening gloves up to her elbows painted on!) Every. Single. Art class. So let’s just say most of her paintings end up with handprints, not at all resembling the cutesie craft I am aiming for. Following directions is a skill we are working on! Haha.

My son, however is five years old. So he does the craft on the weekends and his turn out very well done, I must say. I fell in love, love, love with my son’s fist pumpkin patch! I thought, why not turn this into something to create for Thanksgiving? Here’s a few ideas for making placecards for Thanksgiving day.

1. The Pumpkin Fist

Supplies needed: Orange paint, paintbrush, cardstock paper or construction paper, brown and green markers

Instructions: Precut the paper, I would half or quarter each piece depending on how large your child’s fist is. Fold each cut piece in  half. Have your child form a fist. Paint the fist with orange paint using a paintbrush. Guide their fist onto the paper. Repeat these steps until you have completed the amount of place cards needed. Allow the pumpkins to dry. When dry, add a brown stem, green leaves, and name of individuals using the markers.

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2. The Handprint Turkey

Supplies needed: Orange, brown, green, red, and yellow paint, paintbrushes, cardstock/construction paper, a black marker.

Instructions: Precut the paper, I would half or quarter each piece depending on how large your child’s hand is. Fold each cut piece in  half. Holding your child’s hand face up, paint the palm and thumb with brown paint. Paint each of the four remaining fingers a different color, allowing your child to choose. Guide your child to make a handprint on each piece of cardstock paper. Repeat the steps, adding more paint as needed to make the prints. Allow the turkeys to dry. When dry, use the marker to draw legs, feet, eyes (if desired), and the name of each individual that will be in attendance for Thanksgiving.

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I hope you and yours have a Happy Thanksgiving, Mama!

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Date Ball Recipe

Dates look too much like cockroaches for me to eat by themselves. I prefer to add them to smoothies, oatmeal, or roll them into yummy goodness. Check out this easy recipe for date balls!

(This recipe is lightly adapted from the Medjool date container at Costco.)

Ingredients:

2 cups of medjool dates pitted

1 cup of raw cashews

1 cup of dried blueberries or whatever dried fruit

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1/2 to a whole cup of shredded coconut (optional)

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Directions:

  1. Put the pitted dates, cashews, dried blueberries, and salt in food processor and let it blend until all ingredients are combined.0-1.jpg
  2. Scoop out about 2 tablespoons at a time and roll into balls.0-3.jpg
  3. Roll the balls in shredded coconut. I put the shredded coconut in a container and then drop the balls in one at time, shaking them around in the coconut. (optional)0-2.jpg
  4. Store in an airtight container and keep in fridge.0-4.jpg
  5. Enjoy!

These are a yummy treat that satisfies the sweet craving in a pinch! Dates are also recommended for pregnant mamas to eat. Some studies show they could help with a quicker, easier delivery!

How do you eat your dates, Mama?

Breastfeeding Tips

Hey, Mamas! Today I want to chat about one of my favorite things I’ve experienced in motherhood. Breastfeeding! How the Lord designed our bodies to produce milk that sustains the life of our babies is truly miraculous! I pray that you and your baby have a beautiful breastfeeding experience! Here are my tips:

  1. It’s All about that latch, baby! This is the make or break, Mama. A proper latch will ensure the baby is getting the milk, and sending the correct signals to your body to produce more milk. Think of a duck’s bill. Both of the baby’s lips should be flanged out. Your baby’s mouth should cover about 70% of the areola. If it’s painful, try starting over. With my second, I had major blistering and cracked nipples. Thankfully I was able to hire a lactose consultant, she helped us fix this right quick.
  2. Try different positions. My personal favorites are cradle and side-laying. There’s also cross-cradle, back-lying, and football hold. I found side-laying to work well while co-sleeping. Find a fit that works best for you and your baby. As they grow older, they may change preference in position.
  3. My breast friend. I found it conducive to have a breastfeeding pillow the first few months of both my babies’ lives. I personally loved “My breast friend.”
  4. Hydrate constantly and eat foods that produce milk. Many of my posts remind you of the importance of drinking water in pregnancy, in labor, and once again, in postpartum. This may seem like common sense, but your milk is a liquid. Therefore, you need liquid in your system to produce…liquid. 🙂 I would drink at least 16 ounces immediately before each feeding, and continue to drink while feeding. I found having a water bottle with a straw super helpful, as it made my drinking a little more hands free. I also strategically placed water bottles all over my house. Oats are great for milk production. I ate oatmeal, cookies made with oats, and a friend gifted me these awesome bars that were easy to grab.
  5. Feed often. The first few weeks to a month of a baby’s life are crucial. They tend to lose weight soon after birth, as they were used to receiving all their nutrition through the umbilical cord. Now they are learning to latch, just as you are teaching them to feed. They need to eat every minimum 2, maximum 3 hours to prevent their blood sugar from dropping and to help build your milk supply. The first few days your body produces colostrum, this wonderful substance that helps line the intestines and seal the gut. Around day 3-5, your milk will come in. I found it helpful to remind myself: 12 feedings a day, 12 wet diapers a day plus poop as my target. You also want to feed often to help push the meconium out and prevent jaundice from setting in. Once they have put a bit of weight on, usually after the first month of life, you can put a little more time in between feedings.
  6. Patience and deep breaths. Sometimes it’s hard to remain calm when your baby is screaming and trying to communicate what they need. I found myself at times very anxious right before a feeding those early days, and your baby can sense this. “Will we get the latch right this time? Do I have enough milk?” Take a deep breath and relax. Trust that your body is making the exact amount of what your baby needs.

What are some breastfeeding tips you can share, Mama?