This Beautiful Life

Hello 2018

If you have been following my blog for a while now, you know that I start 2017 with the intention of completing a Happiness Project of my own. And, you also know that I didn’t get very far. Like everything else, life happened and I got a bit sidetracked.

While I would love to do something similar this year, I don’t want to set myself up for failure, either.

Let’s be honest…2016 and 2017 have been challenging years. Oftentimes I have felt the sting of failure, or the fear of drowning in stress and anxiety. These aren’t things I talk about often, because, you know what they say: fake it till you make it.

As I sit here and reflect on the last few years, I am tired, but I am grateful. I have my perfect husband, my amazing son, and a wonderful, supportive family. And, for the first time in a long time, I feel like change is coming. 2018 is going to be the beginning of the life my husband and I have been working so hard to achieve. It just feels different this time around.

So, today, I will not be setting resolutions that will inevitably be broken. I will not be creating a list of things I need to change. Instead, I am spending today working on a new vision board in which I simply highlight my goals, and create affirmations for growth and progress for the next 365 days.

I highly recommend vision boards. The process of creating them is cathartic in itself. For me, creating a vision board allows me to find some clarity in what it is that I really want.  Once I have my vision board all created, I will be happy to share my final product, my process, and my intention with you all.

In the meantime, I want to wish all of my subscribers, readers, friends and family a very Happy New Year! Take some time to set your own intentions for 2018. Let’s make this our best year yet!a

Baby, Raising A Toddler

Yes! Take Your Babies and Toddlers to the Library!

Taking babies and toddlers to the library may seem a bit counterintuitive. This is especially true if you cannot shake the stereotypical image of the silent, serious library.

Libraries are no longer silent and unwelcoming. Instead, they have become proponents and advocates for literacy for children of all ages. Yes! They want you to bring your babies and toddlers to the library. In fact, most library systems have created special programming for young children, to begin introducing language at an early age.

How Babies and Toddlers Can Benefit From the Library

Story Times

Our local library has story times for children of all ages. There is class for babies, one for toddlers and another for preschool aged children. Each class is designed to provide early literacy and language exposure, but it also allows children time for movement and music! This is something we look forward to every week!

Events

Many library districts schedule special programs just for young children. These events sometimes involve literacy, but in most cases they are simply fun! In the summer, our library holds a huge carnival, with games and activities for kids of all ages.They even had fire trucks, tractors and a helicopter for the children to see. For Halloween, they had a costume dance party! And it is all free!

 

Books

You will find that most libraries have created a section of the library just for children’s books. The environment is very child-friendly, and toddlers are able to do a bit of (supervised) exploration. I also really love checking out books from the library because a) when it comes to books, our little guy is ravenous, and we tend to go through them quickly and b) we can figure out which books we really love, before purchasing them. Believe me when I say, many children’s books are duds.

 

 

Play

Yes! The library is a great place for kids to play! Our library has a train table, a puppet theater, and some Legos. These items are all set out for young children to play and explore.

I highly encourage you to check out the programming at your local libraries! There are so many great programs and resources, not to mention all of the free books, for your babies and toddlers to enjoy. What a great way to introduce literacy in a fun way, early on! You can visit the library’s website, or give them a call to learn more about what is offered near you!

 

Raising A Toddler

Doing Chores With A Toddler

Being a parent is hard. This is not new information, especially not if you have children of your own. And, when you have small children, it can seem virtually impossible to keep up with day to day chores and responsibilities. Doing chores with a toddler, however, isn’t impossible!

For many stay-at-home parents, nap time is a time to knock out some of those pesky items on your to-do list. As a work-from-home parent, however, naptime is worktime. This means that any of our chores must be done during the hours when our two year old is awake. While it would be easiest to plop him down in front of the iPad while I get stuff done, I try to save screen time for my morning shower, and for when I cook dinner. Instead, I have found ways to involve him in the daily housework. Doing chores with a toddler can be quite fun…for everyone!

Laundry

My little guy is, well, little. But, he can still help with the laundry. He loves to hand me clothes from the hamper to throw in the washing machine. And, when it is time, I hand him clothes to throw into the dryer. He then closes the door, and I lift him up to hit the start button. He loves helping with the laundry, and he knows the drill by now.

Sweeping, vacuuming and mopping

When I have to clean the floors, I load our little guy in my Ergo 360 baby carrier, and get to work. I make sure to play some fun music while we work, too. And I always make sure to wear my Apple Watch to track the calories I burn in the process.  He has fun, and I get an extra workout as I tote an extra 25 lbs. around.

Dusting

While I dust, I give the munchkin a dust rag of his own! He follows me, and helps me wipe down the furniture too!

Baking

Believe it or not, he helps us bake, too! Here is the key: measure your ingredients into smaller bowls first. Then, your toddler can help by pouring ingredients into a stand mixer or mixing bowl, and by stirring. Baking cookies? Let your toddler help with cookie cutters, or with decorations. Having ownership over the process is fun and exciting for little ones.

Organization

This was a surprise to me, but our little dude loves to help organize! I recently organized our bathroom drawer that holds my hair supplies. He had fun sorting hair ties, bobby pins and barrettes. Plus, it teaches him organization and classification!

Cooking and food preparation

We have big counters, with enough room for our toddler to sit. As I prepare dinner, especially while I cut veggies, I set some aside for him to sample. Needless to say, he loves to watch, and patiently waits for his next tasty sample.

 

You can do it too!

Let your kids help you clean…but be PATIENT. The key to success is in repetition. At first, toddler help means that chores will take longer, or they will be messier. In time, however, they will master their role. And, as they get older, this role can evolve. Allowing your toddler to help with chores and household duties teaches them cleanliness and organization, and it gives them some ownership over their home.

What about you? How do you keep your children involved in your household chores? Or do you, at all? Comment below! I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

Mommy, Raising A Toddler

Getting Work Done as a Work From Home Mom

If you follow my blog, you know that I have been a stay at home mommy with a full-time work from home job for a little over two years now. I can honestly tell you, it isn’t easy, and it really doesn’t seem to be getting any easier as our son gets older. What I am learning, however, is how to be a bit more flexible, and creative, in when and how I tackle my work.  Getting work done as a work from home mom is tough. Butit is so worth being able to be home with our little guy.

Ideally our day would look like this:

 

In reality, our day often looks like this:

The point is, my day rarely goes as planned. And honestly, it is okay. We take it day by day, and we deal with hiccups and obstacles as they arise. There are days when I feel like a terrible, inattentive mom, and days when I feel like I have it all figured out. It is stressful, but I am grateful for the opportunity to stay home, continue the career I love, and take care of our son.

Keeping a Toddler Entertained

There are some great activities that can help keep a toddler or preschooler busy while you work:

  • Sensory bins filled with rice or beans, and fun kitchen tools.
  • Clay or Playdoh
  • Crayons and paper or coloring books
  • Vinyl, reusable sticker pads like these ones from Melissa and Doug
  • Blocks
  • Wooden puzzles

 

Are you a work from home parent? What strategies do you have for managing it all? Share your tips and tricks in the comments section below!

Other posts you might enjoy:

Working From Home With A Toddler

Working From Home With An Infant

Uncategorized

Blogger’s Block

Guys! I have writer’s block. Or maybe it is “blogger’s” block. I haven’t forgotten about Runaway Teacher. I am just so hesitant to write about my ideas. I have even written a few blogs about life lately, and about our holiday activities, but I just couldn’t bring myself to post them. This year has been a bit of a bust in the blogging department. Remember my “Happiness Project” plan? That lasted about five months and then, splat. I dropped that ball.

This blogging thing is hard. It has been especially hard as I try to overcome feeling self-conscious about my posts and ideas—even after years of writing. But hang in there. In the coming year I plan to return to blogging with a vengeance.  I have some fun new ideas for posts, and projects.

Thank you for being loyal readers. Here is to a new year. 2018, I am coming for ya! In the meantime, here is some gratuitous toddler spam:

 

Raising A Toddler

What We Say Matters

What can I do for ya?

What we say mattersThis morning, my son ran up to my husband and said, “What can I do for ya? What can I do for ya, Daddy?” I couldn’t help but giggle. 

I’ve noticed a lot of this lately. Our little boy has adopted some pretty sweet phrases, and he uses them often:

  • Momma, I’m so proud of you. 
  • I love you so much.
  • I missed you so much.
  • Can I hug you? Can you give me a smooch?
  • Momma, are you okay?
  • Let me hold you.

Our son’s words, and his actions, made me think–how does a two year old boy come to learn such things? 

I’ll premise this by saying, many people find my husband and I to be obnoxious in how affectionate we are. We never miss a chance to exchange an “I love you,” or a kiss. We hold hands. We hug. We gross people out. But it’s genuine, and it happens, even when nobody else is around to witness it.  Our affection carries over to how we raise our son. Each and every single day he is smothered in hugs, kisses, and I love you’s. We make sure to reinforce his positive behaviors and actions, just as we correct those that are not-so-positive. 

So what is my point? 

Children are impacted by what they hear, and what they see. They really are sponges. It is so important for us to be aware of how we talk to our children because, in our interactions with them (and around them), they not only develop their sense of who they are, but they learn how to interact with the world around them. What we say matters. What we do matters. 

And it is not all positive

Just as our little boy repeats these sweet phrases, he has also adopted some not-so-positive habits of ours (mine). Recently, we noticed that he says sorry, often. It is heartbreaking, because he apologizes most when he is sad or hurt. My mom pointed out that this is something I do often…apologize, even when an apology isn’t necessary, or appropriate.

Moving forward

I am proud of our munchkin, and just how sweet and kind he is. I want to make sure that I am even more positive, and less judgemental of myself and others. We want to continue to raise this tiny human to be kind, warm and accepting of others. This is definitely something that will take work on my end (especially in the car). But I’ll be more aware, more gracious, and more positive…so that my son will grow up to do the same.  What we say matters. What we do matters. 

 

how-to-wean-a-toddler
Raising A Toddler

How do you wean a toddler?

Well, here we are, 25 months into our nursing journey. Originally I thought we’d make it to one year, but then 18 months became our goal, and now we are on the other side of 2 years. I know that nursing a two year old is weird to some. And, in previous posts, I discussed our reasons for nursing my son this long: allergies, nourishment and comfort.  It has simply been the best choice for our family.

In the past, I was so worried that the weaning process was going to be hard on little man. He still nurses pretty regularly throughout the day, since I am home with him. I worried that he would be angry with me, or disappointed, that I would not longer choose to provide him with the comfort he has known for the last two years.

As I begin to explore strategies for weaning, I realize that I am the one who is going to struggle with this process the most. Perhaps my emotional ties to nursing are stronger than his. For me, nursing is the opportunity to cuddle, and breathe in my sweet little boy who, otherwise, is so active and uninterested in momma-snuggles.

So, after much conversation and research, my husband and I have decided that it is time to start the process. And this will mean enormous changes for our family, and it brings so many questions to light. How will I put my son to bed at night, when he relies on nursing? What will we do when he wakes up in the middle of the night, and can’t have “bee bees” to get him back to sleep? What will I do when he slips and falls, and relies on nursing for comfort? How exactly do you wean a toddler?

These are all questions that we will deal with as they come. But so our journey begins.

Do you have any tips or tricks that helped ease your weaning journey? What was your experience weaning a toddler?

Baby

Little Man Turned Two

You guys! This little boy just turned two! Okay, it happened a week ago, but life (and a cold) got in the way of a blog post.

Anyway, he turned two, and we could not be more proud of him! We were so fortunate to be able to celebrate his birthday in California! We visited Disneyland, Universal Studios and the beach. We celebrate with Gramma, Papa, Grammie, uncles, aunts and cousins! We had a great time!

Now that little man turned two…

He weighs in at 24 lbs, and stands 2’8” tall! He is still a little munchkin.

He loves to eat fruits and veggies, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, cookies, ice cream and donuts. He really loves donuts.

He has some food allergies, so no peanuts for us! And milk is still a no-go!

He loves to read! He really likes Mercer Mayer books, The Pout Pout Fish, I Love My Daddy, and anything about sea animals. He even has books he can recite from front to back.

He loves to swim, and reminds us that he wants to “swim in the ocean.” Probably to get up close and personal with the sea life.

He collects animal figurines, but his favorite are his sea life animals (the octopus and beluga whale are two of his favorites). He loves music, and loves to sing and dance!

He is very Very verbal. And he now speaks primarily in full sentences.

His vocabulary is a bit crazy (in a good way). He knows words for most things, and asks if he doesn’t know. He can name most animals, using specific names (beluga whale, hammerhead shark, etc.)

He sleeps through the night sometimes. And he stays up late sometimes. Sleep still isn’t really his thing.

We love going to Toddler Time at the library, and Monkey Bizness to jump in the bouncy house. We love taking walks in the neighborhood, with stops to run and play at the park!

He loves to paint, color and play with Playdoh.

He loves blowing and chasing bubbles!

It is amazing to see how quickly he continues to grow and learn. Every day brings something new. And every day he continues to be the love and light of our lives.

 

Food!

Man Friendly Meatless Meals: Part 2

It’s time for another installment of Man Friendly Meatless Meals! While my husband and I are by no means vegetarian at this point, we continue to reduce the amount of meat and animal products we consume each day. We have compiled a solid list of yummy, meatless meals that we can look forward to at the end of the day. And it has been pretty painless, to tell you the truth. At one point this week, I pointed out that my husband has been eating a vegetarian diet most days this week…without even realizing it.

There are four new recipes we have found that I’d love to share with you!

Quick Potato Corn Chowder Recipe photo by Taste of Home

Quick Potato Corn Chowder

This recipe from the Taste of Home magazine is delicious, and hearty. It’s healthy, but it feels like you are indulging. A few substitutions (vegetable stock and almond milk) mean it’s easy to make this vegan, too! Thanks mom for sending this recipe our way!

 

 

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of Diethood

One Pot Spinach and Feta Macaroni and Cheese

Okay, so this is vegetarian, and definitely not vegan. All the same, Diethood’s macaroni and cheese is rich, filling and feels indulgent! Even better? It’s relatively low calorie! My husband says it’s one of his favorite recipes!

 

 

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of Aberdeens Kitchen

Southwest Roasted Potato Salad

This recipe from Aberdeen’s Kitchen is easy, spicy and delicious. It’s vegan, but my husband loves to add a fried egg on top for some added protein! This is one of my favorites, and it’s great warmed up the next day, too!

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Courtesy of Lord Byron’s Kitchen

Spicy Pan Seared Brussel Sprouts with Corn and Caramelized Onions

This recipe from Lord Byron’s Kitchen is our most recent find, and it is so darn good. Eliminate the butter to make this vegan friendly, and add rice to make it a bit more hearty!

 

 

 

 

 

What are some of your favorite meatless meals? Share your fave’s below!

And, want to see some of our other favorite meatless meals? Check out the first installment of Man Friendly Meatless Meals.

nursing a toddler
Baby

Nursing A Toddler

I would love to be able to say I’m a loud and proud breastfeeding mama. Don’t get me wrong, I am so incredibly proud to be breastfeeding my toddler just four months short of his second birthday. But I’m not loud. In fact, few people know that I still breastfeed my son (unless they follow my blog of course). In some ways I feel like a fraud. How can I be proud about breastfeeding for nearly two years, but hide it at the same time? 

To be honest, I tend to not discuss our choice because I’m shielding myself, and my son, from unnecessary judgement. Simply sharing this post makes me a bit anxious. See, here is the thing… in 2017, in the United States, the average woman will breastfeed for only 3 months. Of course there is nothing wrong with that, but it clearly reflects our society’s attitudes surrounding the subject. I have encountered judgement in regard to the fact that we are still nursing. “But he has teeth!” Yes. Yes he does.  “You are still nursing?” Yes. He is still a baby!  But I’ve seen other moms be the target of hateful, ignorant reactions from friends, family members and strangers alike:

“You’ll turn your son into a sissy.” In 2017, who even refers to a boy as a sissy? And feeding him has no impact on anything but his health and his tummy. 

“That’s perverted.” Our culture has sexualized breasts. Female breasts are designed to feed babies. Period. 

“You only do it because you enjoy it.” It is not fun to nurse a toddler. It’s not. Sometimes it’s painful, and sometimes it’s frustrating.

“If he’s old enough to ask for it it’s time to give it up.” I just can’t even with this line of reasoning. Stop nursing because he knows he wants to nurse, and he can communicate that to me? 

No. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding until 2 if possible. Research shows that there are nutritional, medical and psychological benefits for both mom and baby. So why do I still nurse my toddler? 

For our family, we rely on nursing to keep the munchkin healthy. Our son has an allergic reaction to cow’s milk. He breaks out in hives on his face and neck. He doesn’t seem to like the texture of other milks either. So, for now, breast milk is providing sustenance in addition to solids.

nursing a toddlerNursing has kept my son healthy. I was incredibly sick with an eye infection, and an upper respiratory infection. The doctor warned me to stay far away from my munchkin until I was feeling better. How can a mom “stay far away” from a toddler? Instead I continued nursing and he never got sick. Not even a little!

Finally, nursing is an important part of my relationship with my baby. It provides guaranteed snuggle time throughout the day with an otherwise active, rambunctious little guy. If he is hurt, or upset, it is a source of comfort. When it is time for bed, nursing is a source of calm, and lulls him to sleep.

Nursing isn’t for everyone. Nursing a toddler definitely isn’t for everyone. It is, however, an experience that I wouldn’t give up for anything. I can only hope that, in time, Americans will remove the stigma associated with nursing, and nursing toddlers, so that mothers can feed their babies in peace!