Hey Savvy Friends!

I just wanted to let you know I haven’t forgotten about ya! I’ve decided to switch hosting sites, so I am just waiting for everything to get hooked up on the elusive cyber end. I have been working on several things and will be sharing soon!

Stay warm, wherever you are!

Put Your Heart Into It

This Valentine’s Day, save your money, spare your waistline and give a truly priceless gift- the gift of love and memories for the entire family. (Note, this works just as well whether you are single and dating or have a huge family). This idea is so simple, that even the artistically challenged like myself can quickly and easily execute it. What it lacks in difficulty it makes up for in its substantial benefits.

I plan to start this on February 1st, so that everyone will get a warm fuzzy each day leading up to Valentine’s Day. If this seems too daunting, you could always shorten the time frame to one week or even just a few days.

“Everybody likes a compliment.”   -Abraham Lincoln

1) Cut out 14 hearts for each family member. If you don’t remember how to cut out a symmetrical heart, channel your inner grade school self and take a trip down memory lane:

Valentine Blog Postpinit_fg_en_rect_red_28

2) Write the person’s name on the bottom corner or back. You can assign a color to each family member or do it at random. I chose to color-code so it will be easier for the kids to hone in on their own hearts on the wall.

3) Put the hearts into a bin.      IMG_0824

4) Each day, have each person close their eyes and pull out a heart. (We plan to draw in the morning to give us the day to think about it and work on it as time permits.)

5) Write something on the heart that you love about that person. Try to be specific. Instead of “you are a great father”, say “when J needs help you patiently give him your undivided attention.” Obviously you will have to help younger children write, but let them provide the ideas. For the non-talkers, put yourself in their shoes and think about what they would say. (Daddy, I love when you hold me high in the air and make me feel so special. Sister, I love when we play blocks together. Brother, I love that sometimes you hug me in the middle of playing. )

“I can live for two months on a good compliment.” ~Mark Twain

4) Display it. I plan to post them after the kids go to sleep so they can wake up to see their new heart each morning. I chose to display it on a wall by the kitchen table where everyone is sure to see it at least three times per day. It doubles as an adorable seasonal decoration!

IMG_0842

pinit_fg_en_rect_red_28

Many simply do the project and stop at that. Have you ever considered what really goes into these seemingly basic ideas? This simple project benefits each person in so many ways. Not only do the warm fuzzies boost our egos and strengthen our love, but they also provide myriad other benefits. Here is a sampling:

Children:

Children thrive on positive reinforcement. They beam with pride upon receiving a compliment and it motivates them to keep doing those great things. Each day they will wake up in eager anticipation to see what compliment their new heart holds. Making the hearts for family members teaches them selflessness and thoughtfulness while further developing their writing, drawing, literacy, creativity, language development, and fine motor skills. The notes from siblings will validate them as big(little) brother(sister).
Today I asked my 4-year-old what he loved most about his little brother. As he pondered it, a slow smile crossed his face, and he emphatically drawled out, “everything!” ❤

Babies:

Okay, I’m a realist, they will have no clue what is going on and will most likely try to eat it. But I promise, this WILL benefit them too. It will serve as a great memory source providing a glimpse back to what they were like at this moment in time. This is a great way to record the minutiae that may not get recorded in a journal or baby book. Instead of writing “you are sweet” to my baby girl, I am going to write “I love that you say ‘tank oooo’ when you hand us something”. When I look back years later, I will vividly remember her waddling up to us with a toy, handing it to us and saying “thank you”. It is also an opportunity for their older siblings to really look at them as people on the inside rather than just playmates. If they are able, let them hold a crayon and scribble on their heart to work on their grip, fine motor skills, focus, hand-eye coordination, and self-expression. Remember, they are little sponges at this age. They are just taking it all in, so continue to set good examples!

Adults:

Let’s face it, being parents is a pretty thankless job sometimes. And when you are caught up in the daily insanity of raising young children, the compliments don’t always roll off the tongue. (Can I get a ‘holla’ from anyone who has ever said “mmm, this dinner is good, isn’t it?” or “Did you see that I cleaned the house today?”) The sad truth for adults is that if you don’t ask for it, you don’t always get it. But a compliment is a compliment, so fish away! This will be a great way to show each other that we DO notice the little things and that we appreciate those just as much as the big ones. It will be insightful to hear how the kids see us and a great opportunity to share the unseen with one another (like how happy C looks when he is atop Daddy’s shoulders.) Perhaps this little project will rekindle something between us, as compliments and acknowledgements are something we desperately need to work on. Just the other day we were discussing how authentic our four-year-old’s compliments are (“Wow, you look AMAZING”) and how forced ours often seem. It will make us slow down and reflect on all of our blessings. It will warm our hearts to see the appreciation on our children’s faces. It will provide a creative outlet.

If done well, this project will capture a moment in time. It will provide memories that can’t be seen in a picture. I never want to forget that Tink makes a purring gurgling noise when we rock in the glider, that Cubbie stops whatever he is doing to run up to us with a huge hug and smile when we enter the room, or that Jake’s quick-witted comments crack us up daily.

When you finish them, and are ready to take down your Valentine decorations, remove them from the wall, and make them into a keepsake book.

IMG_0848pinit_fg_en_rect_red_28

I feel like it is Christmas Eve. I am so excited to hear what they say about each other. I can hardly wait to get started on this tomorrow morning!

Seems much better than over-priced roses and chocolates, doesn’t it?

If you love them, ask.

It is no surprise that in light of current events, news feeds are abuzz with articles, debates, strong opinions, and controversies. (Let me be INFINITELY clear that I do not plan to touch those subjects, nor will I allow commentary to turn accusatory or demeaning.) As a firm believer that everyone has a right to their opinions paired with a strong dislike for controversy, I never thought I would even come close to tiptoeing near some of these subjects, but a topic came up in one of my mommy circles that I felt needed to be addressed.

The discussion essentially revolved around the question of how to protect our children from less visible but extremely harmful things without seeming invasive or neurotic? We have all read heart-wrenching stories of children who accidentally shot themselves with unprotected firearms, or kids at a sleepover who died from a carbon-monoxide leak. Of course the measles outbreak is terrifying. Life IS scary. As much as we would like to keep our children in a bubble, we cannot protect them from everything. We can’t control the rest of the world, but there are measures we can take to protect our loved ones just a little bit more.

My response to the initial question is this: what is more important, your pride or having the unimaginable happen because you were too afraid to ask?

But asking is hard. It is awkward, and yes, people might take offense. However, if someone doesn’t want to be friends with my children or me because I asked if their firearms are secured, then I don’t really need to be their friend. Quite frankly, those people probably don’t want to be your friend either because they will find you “annoying” and “over-protective”.

There is a line, and only you as a parent can know where to draw it.

One suggestion was to make a questionnaire. It started with these two questions: 1) Are your children fully vaccinated? 2) Do you have guns in your house? If so, are they locked up?

The more I thought about it, more and more potential dangers popped in my head.

3) Do you lock your medicine cabinet? 4) Do you lock your liquor cabinet? 5) Are your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors working? 6) When kids are playing in the house, do you lock all of the exterior doors?

And then I got really carried away. 7) Do you dumpster dive and is that cake you are serving my child weeks old? There is a line, and only you as a parent can know where to draw it.

You are more than welcome to use these questions as a springboard for a survey or discussion to hold with your child’s friends’ parents (sister’s great uncle three times removed.) Pick and choose what is important to you. Now here’s the truly hard part: what are you going to do with the answers? Keep in mind, they may not be what you personally want to hear. It becomes your responsibility to decide what to do with that information. If your friend doesn’t vaccinate, will you still allow your kids to play with her kids? Will you avoid all public places? For me, there are certain things I am adamant about and others on which I am more flexible. It is truly a personal decision that only you can answer.

Yes, this is still awkward, but hopefully it will soon become the norm. I assure you, parents of children with life-threatening allergies will make their concerns infinitely clear to you and hand you an epi-pen without hesitation. Parents of children with peanut allergies rallied so far as to instigate peanut-free zones, and even entire schools. They have no shame because they are protecting their child. Well guess what? Everyone’s kid has an “allergy” to a misfired bullet. By asking whether their firearms are locked up you are not judging them for having them, but just ensuring your children, and theirs, are protected.

There are so many unknowns in life and as much as we want to, we cannot protect our children from everything.

God Grant Me the
Serenity
To accept the things
I cannot change
the
Courage
to change
the things I can
and the
Wisdom
to know the difference.
-Reinhold Niebuhr

While we cannot force change on other people’s viewpoints, we CAN control who our kids hang out with at a young age with the hopes of guiding them to make good choices when they are older. We CAN begin to normalize the act of asking the questions that are important to us with the hopes of it becoming more commonplace without repercussion or stigma. Above all, YOU can listen to your gut and heart; trust your instincts. When you do both, you are usually doing what is right for you and your family.

What suggestions do you have to help make it acceptable and less intimidating to ask these important questions? What are some other questions we should be asking?

Just Do It

Follow my blog with Bloglovin
I am doing it. No more excuses. I just have to get this first article out there so that I can move forward with the millions of other articles and ideas I have stockpiled for years. It doesn’t have to be pretty, it doesn’t have to be insightful or life changing. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to say everything I want to say all at once.

It doesn’t have to tell you that I am a mother to three young children who recently up and moved across the country seeking new adventures and a fresh start on things.

It doesn’t have to tell you I have always loved writing and am making the commitment to carve time out for myself to do what I love. That I am writing just to write and if I inspire others along the way that is even better.

It doesn’t have to go into the details of why I have let fear, laziness, technological ineptitude, lack of time, etc. get in my way.

It doesn’t have to tell you that I want this blog to represent the things that consume me and that I hope to inspire you through my passions. That I consider parenting an umbrella term for just about anything (healthy eating and exercise, crafting ideas, play group minutiae, toddler truths, education, travel, home, finances, marriage, etc.). Or how being a mommy has impacted me emotionally, physically, intellectually, and spiritually.

It doesn’t have to tell you I’m a slight Pinterest addict who rarely actually does the projects… and that when I do they are mostly epic failures. That I get carried away with thoughts and ideas, but find it challenging to sit down and implement them.

It doesn’t have to tell you that I am a positive person who didn’t really start out that way.

It doesn’t have to tell you how far I am stepping out of my comfort zone to write on a public forum. How it took me about 9 years to warm up to the idea of Facebook or even a smart phone.

It just has to be written. No more excuses. So here it is, my first blog post. Maybe it will never look exactly how I want it. Maybe that’s the point. I am stroller savvy, not tech savvy. I need to just roll with life. I’m excited to get into the real writing, to see where this adventure leads. So here we go… I am pressing the publish button. I am also pressing the share and “like” buttons. If you want to join me on this journey and see where it takes us, please do the same.

Oh, and one more thing… I DID IT, now it is your turn! What is your thing? What have you been holding back for whatever reason? Just let go and fly.