Saturday, June 27, 2015

Fascinating Fill-Up Faces: A Sure-Fire Way to Pass Time

It happened the way many things do....completely by accident and out of necessity.

My husband had stopped at the gas station on the way home from daycare with both boys one day. They were itching to get out of their car seats and go to the park, so they weren't being terribly cooperative about waiting while he filled his tank.

In an effort to try to keep them entertained, Daddy started making silly faces through the windows. It definitely made the boys giggle, and they even started making their own funny faces back at him. With the boys sufficiently distracted, Daddy was able to finish filling up the tank and they were on their way to play.

Now, every time we stop for gas, the boys insist on playing this game.  Mr. L. likes to make sure that no one misses out on the fun, and insists everyone gets their own turn.  It's hard to hear him through rolled-up windows, though, to determine who's turn he thinks it is.

Once again, our signs save the day!

I started signing YOUR-TURN to each of the boys who would come up with the silliest face they could then MY-TURN and I'd do the same.  This wasn't a brand new sign for any of us, but it was definitely a new context for it to be used!  At first, the boys would point along with my sign to whoever was to make the next super silly face.  Then, out of the blue one day, Mr. I. started using the sign all on his own.

We were on our way to an out of town birthday part and made a quick stop to fill up and grab a drink from the convenience store.  I was pumping gas while Daddy ran in to make our purchase.  I was a tad lost in my own thoughts and had forgotten about our gas station ritual.  The next thing I knew, I heard a little knock on the window, and Mr. I. was excitedly grinning and signing YOUR-TURN.  We each took a few turns making silly faces and signing YOUR-TURN while little bother snoozed in his car seat.

At 4, signs are not a daily part of our communication strategy with Mr. I. but our experience using the Signing Smart tools and strategies definitely still serve him well.  He is able to pull out signs at exactly the right moment to make sure he's fully understood!

What are your favorite ways to pass the time for your little ones while you run errands?

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Paralyzing Perfection

I admit it...I'm a perfectionist.  I like things to be "just so."  Especially when I'm doing things for others, I want - whatever it is - to be impressive, impeccable, and well-received.

Wow...that's a lot of pressure.  At times, this self-imposed pressure can be astounding.  Where do I start?  Now that I've started and things are going the way I pictured, how do I keep moving forward?   How do I change my vision or accept this different outcome? I don't think it's "good enough" - I should just quit, or throw it away or what?!  There are times that this way of thinking has prevented me from doing great things because I'm paralyzed by my "need" for everything to be out-of-this-world.

Have you ever encountered similar feelings? A common sentiment from families who've tried using some of the other sign programs on the market, reflects this concern.  Often, they don't see their child signing back as soon or as much as they expected.  They only know how to sign in specific contexts - such as when singing a particular song.  They're frustrated, and often give up.

With Signing Smart, that paralyzing perfection mission is combated by support, research, and strategy. Signing Smart families, teachers, and caregivers learn how to use signs in ANY situation - not just via songs and finger plays.  They learn about the research of Drs. Anthony and Lindert that sets appropriate expectations for when and how children should start signing back. From day 1, students learn "general signs" like MORE, ALL-DONE, and LIGHT that can be used in almost any situation, so that a sign is always available to enhance communication with their little one. To top it all off, my students all have multiple ways to ask questions of me and other Signing Smart families. Together, we often discover that perfection - the exact right thing - doesn't always look "perfect." Early signs don't look like the dictionary, but they are exactly right for little hands and developing brains.

With support and proper expectations, this:

easily becomes perfection:

SUCCESS - you might have it and not even know!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Date Night: Wine and Cheese at Home

When I say "date night,"  it could mean the traditional date night with your spouse or significant other.  It could also mean a night out with friends. It might even be something fun to do alone as "me time."  If you are married or in a committed relationship, I am an absolute advocate for nourishing it, and  making that relationship a priority.  It's also important to honor yourself and your friendships, though.  I hope you'll find some inspiration for fun ways to do all three!

Taking care of yourself is an excellent way to be prepared to take great care of the other people in your life.  This extends from yourself as a single person to nurturing the important relationships in your life.

One of the date nights my husband and I enjoy is sharing dinner together after the boys are in bed.  It's a chance for us to spend time together, eat a meal uninterrupted (hopefully), and it doesn't require getting a sitter!

One dinner that we go back to time and time again for this date night is a wine and cheese plate.  Now....we are far from being connoisseurs in any of these areas.  We just pick a few things we know we like or look fun to try and go with it. We also put red wine in glasses meant for white.  It was nothing fancy, but it was a tasty date night!

On this particular night, we tried:

1. Mini Beef links
2. Pepperoni
3. Summer Sausage
4. Peppered Salami
5. White Cheddar
6. Havarti
7. Bruchetta Jack

We had a few different kinds of crackers and made a honey mustard sauce out of
yellow mustard and agave.

All of that was paired with a red wine we had on hand.

We put our spread on a wooden cutting board, grabbed a couple of plates, and had a picnic on the floor.  With no toddlers around, we were much less concerned about spills.  We did set our glasses on a nearby end-table though, just to be safe.  Red wine stains on our year-old carpet would have ruined the night.

All in all, it was a nice relaxing dinner and a nice chance to spend a little time together.  Next time, though I'm definitely making sure the only thing that was missing gets addressed - a rich chocolate dessert!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Pampering as Part Of My Normal Routine

This post was sponsored by Whole Foods Market who provided the products I tried to me free of cost.  All opinions and wording are my own.

Remember, "Nemo dat quod non habet - you can't give what you don't have." Taking care of yourself is SO important, but it can be incredibly difficult to try to squeeze one more thing into the day, especially when there are little ones to take care of. That's why I love doing little things to pamper myself that fit into what I have what I already have scheduled. 

One way I do this is by incorporating a scrub and lotion into my shower routine. Using these two products adds less than 5 minutes to taking a shower, and they are worth every second! 

The awesome Whole Body team at Whole Foods Market helped me to choose the exact products I've been using.  I told them that when I use a scrub, I like something that feels super scrubby. I also told them that I wanted to find a lotion that doesn't leave a sticky feeling. (I didn't share how much I loathe the sticky feeling some lotions leave.) They took it from there, and they did an outstanding job!

Sweet Citrus Sugar Scrub

I was a bit leery of a sugar scrub at first.  I have found the most success with salt scrubs in the past, and didn't think sugar could possibly feels as good on my skin. I did think it was pretty cool that this is a product made in-house at Whole Foods Market and available in bulk, though, so I decided to give it a try anyway.  After using this product for a couple of weeks every-other day, I'm happy to report how wrong I was!

This scrub had a texture similar to damp sand.  Rubbing a
quarter-sized bit of the scrub on each leg leaves them feeling soft, smooth, and ready for summer!  It also releases a nice, subtle citrus scent that reminds me of cutting into an orange.  It definitely stands up to the salt scrub I have used in the past, and even surpasses it's results.

I did find that the sugar scrub dissolves in the water faster than salt does. The quicker dissolving doesn't stop it from doing a fantastic job of scrubbing - especially if I'm rushing through my shower to head out to work or tend to the kiddos.  If I'm taking a more leisurely shower, I might try a smaller amount of scrub and do only part of my leg at  a time.  I did use this on my heels as well, which needed some attention after this past winter.  It did a great job of softening and smoothing the rough areas!  I would caution you if you choose to use this product on your feet, as it can cause things to get a bit slippery.

Because of how the sugar dissolves in water, I was a tad nervous about leaving the container in the shower.  I contemplated transferring it to a mason jar, but didn't think the metal lids would fare well. I keep thinking I should find something else, but haven't come up with a better option yet.  After two weeks of sitting on the shelf in the shower, the remaining sugar scrub is still in perfect condition, though!

Deep Steep Body Butter

When talking about a lotion to try, I shared that I was looking for something that was a great moisturizer but wouldn't leave me feeling sticky or greasy.  I didn't share how incredibly sensitive I am to those feelings or the countless number of lotions I've tried once or twice and then tossed aside when they didn't fit the bill in this area.

The Whole Body Team at Whole Foods Market knew just the right answer to my request, deep steep body butter - this is my new favorite lotion.  It's thick and holds in the moisture - even using it only every other day, but it absorbs quickly and doesn't even leave a hint of stickiness!  I also like the mild citrus scent which pairs nicely with the sugar scrub.

I've been using this lotion after my shower when I use the citrus sugar scrub.  While the directions say it can be used as an all-over lotion, I have been using it only on my lower leg and really focusing on my knee and heel areas. After just two weeks, I've noticed how much softer the skin has become on my heels and knees after the winter left them quite dry.  I've also found that on the "off" days my legs still feel soft and well-moisturized. 

A new lotion in the house is never safe from my husband's quest to end his dry skin issues.  Here's what he thought:
I have been using Deep Steep body butter from Whole Foods Market for about 3 weeks now.  I must say that I have been very pleased with the results so far.  With very minimal usage (maybe 4 times per week), I have seen pretty substantial results.  Before I used this cream, I tried many other options including, a skin care company's night cream made especially for very dry skin, petroleum jelly and various other lotions.  My pants used to stick to my knees like Velcro when I put them on.  That is a thing of the past now.  I do not have any more raw cracks.  The smell is also quite pleasant (very mild)  The absorbency factor is quite nice as well, and there is no greasy feel.

To top off the great things about this lotion, it's cruelty free - not tested on animals!

These are both products that I have no intention to stop using.  They do their job well - my skin is now summer ready! They last, so I'm not having to make a trip every week or two to replace a product that requires substantial amounts be used each time to get results.  Plus they smell great!

Thank you Whole Foods Market and to the Whole Body Team for introducing me to two new products that are becoming one of my favorite parts of my day!

My mini pampering routine is just one of the ways I take care of myself by fitting something special into my daily schedule.  What's your favorite way to sneak something special into what you do everyday?

Thursday, June 4, 2015

You Can't Give What You Don't Have

When I was pregnant with my first child, my mom and sister hosted a family baby shower for my husband and me.  It was a co-ed shower attended by my aunts and uncles, grandparents, and a few family friends from the town where I grew up.

One of the party "games" involved asking each guest to impart some wisdom or advice to the new parents by writing a tip on a paper frog.  We got lots of great advice!
"Affirm best efforts, not just best results"

"Don't arrive home and say 'What's for dinner?' Arrive home with dinner"

We also got some tips that seemed a little strange at first, but have turned out to be incredibly profound!

"Rule #9 Always carry a knife" (Any other NCIS carbs out there?)

And then there was this gem:
"Nemo dat quod non habet - you can't give what you don't have"
Oddly enough, this philosophical tip came from an uncle with no children. He was just about spot-on, though!    I certainly don't put myself first ALL of the time.  But I do notice what a difference it makes when I take the time to take care of myself, and even pamper myself a little!

On days when I've had enough sleep, when I've eaten well, and when I'm feeling centered, I have the power to do great mom things.  I calmly ask my 4-year-old for the 3,000th time to put his shoes on so we can play outside.  I pull out the play dough without so much as flinching when  all the colors get smooshed into one. I pretend to love the worm being held less than an inch from my nose.  I don't even bat an eye as my 2-year-old dumps his milk on the table in protest.

There are days when I don't heed his wisdom, though.  Maybe I'm just too busy, or maybe I'm already stressed or ill.  Whatever the reason, these are the days that I make parenting choices I'm not the most proud of.  My fuse is way too short. I snap instead of offering another chance.  I don't have the energy to get down on the floor and take part in the game of cars that's going on. 

When you're taking care of little ones, it can be hard to make the time to take care of yourself - but it's SO important!  "Nemo dat quod non habet - you can't give what you don't have."

In the spirit of supporting you and your family not only through your communication journey, but through being important in the lives of little ones, I am excited to start sharing some of my posts with you about "being your best you."  I'm already thinking of some fun date night ideas, easy ways to inject some pampering into your busy schedule, and even some fun family activities  There will still be plenty of posts about signing with your little ones too, so I hope you'll visit often for a little bit of inspiration!

What was the best advice you got about being a parent or caring for little ones?