Friday, March 28, 2014

Ladybug Countdown Chain

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The newest addition to the family is due in about 9 weeks, so I'm frantically trying to get things done, prepared, and set up so that the transition from a family of 4 to a family of 5 goes as smooth as possible.  One of the things we've just done is to create this ladybug countdown chain to act as a baby countdown and to provide a visual representation to Bear {5 yrs} of how soon the time is coming.
 
I broke down the 9 weeks into two sections.  There are 7 large rings representing weeks.  The smaller rings represent the last 14 days.  I did it this way so that there is a distinct difference between the large amount of time we're waiting and those final two weeks where she count potentially come at any time.  I think that this will help Bear to be much more prepared when we get to those small ladybug chains,.  That way he can know that her birth is essentially imminent and it won't catch him  off guard as much.
To start off, Bear stamped black dots on two pieces of red construction paper with a black bingo marker. 
 
After I cut the paper into 14 short, thin strips and 8 thick, long strips, we worked as a team to give them all eyes.  I glued, he stuck. {He doesn't care much for white glue for some strange reason.}

 
After they dried, we created loops with them and stapled them together.  It wasn't until after we did that, that both Bear and I realized that some of the ladybug's eyes and dots lined up to make cute faces. 


 
The ladybug countdown chain hangs in the preschool area of our dining room.  It makes me smile every time I see it.  Not only is it cute and counts down the weeks and days until our new little girl comes, but it's also a reminder of a few fun minutes I spent bonding with my not-so-little-anymore boy.
 
 



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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Don't Tell ME When to Push: Why Creating a Birth Plan is Important {with 10 birth plan resources}

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As women, our birthing experiences are deeply personal to us.  As we go through the course of our pregnancy, many of us envision how our labor and delivery will go and what those first precious moments with our newborn will be like.  Having a birth plan in place was what made me feel confident going into my son's birth.  I didn't take any birthing classes or read a whole bunch of books.  My pregnancy reading list was really all I had... that and what I'd seen on tv.  But after reading the book Birthing from Within and creating my birth plan, I honestly felt fully prepared for the whole experience. 

Things went as close to my plan as they could until it came time to push.  That's when the nurse tried the "1, 2, 3, push!" thing with me.  Um...nuh-uh.... nope.  Not happening.  Even though I didn't want to, I tried, and I couldn't do it....couldn't get myself to push.  She tried to persuade me to try again.  I just wanted to scream, "Don't tell ME when to push!"  That's when I told my doctor I had to do it like I had planned... I'd push when I felt like pushing.... 

Having shared my birth plan with my doctor made it easier for me to communicate during my labor.  We got off track and with just a sentence from me, we easily got back onto the path I wanted to take because I had shared my wishes with him beforehand.  As I get ready for Little Miss Sunshine's birth in about 9 weeks, creating a birth plan for her is on my list. 


Here are a few reasons why having a birth plan is important to me as well as several resources you can use to create your own birth plan. 
 
A birth plan helps you set the stage for what you'd like to happen.
Plans are good, but they aren't fail proof.  There's no way of being assured that every point on your birth plan will be met.  But there is something to be said about having a game plan in place to sort of guide your labor and delivery experience. 
 
A birth plan helps you become familiar with things you might not have considered.
Going through a birth plan list may bring up topics or decisions you've not considered or addressed with your partner, such as whether or not you want to see the baby crown or what positions you wan to be free to labor/deliver in.  I learned so much about my options when I created my first birthing plan.  Some of these things were like seeing the baby when he crowned or about being able to hold him immediately after he was born. 
 
A birth plan can act as your voice when you're in labor.
Labor and delivery can be a hectic time.  When you're in the midst of hard-hitting contractions is not the time for you to have to express or explain your laboring/birthing choices.  It can remind your doctor of what the two of you spoke about in appointments prior to birth.  And it gives new nurses an instant update as to what
 
A birth plan opens the lines of communication.
A birth plan, helps everyone get on the same page.  By putting your wishes, beliefs, ideals, or whatever you'd like to call them on paper in black and white for your doctor, nurses, midwife, etc  know what' important to you in regards to your labor and delivery experience. 


I wish I could find a copy of my birth plan that I made up before I had Bear.  Think it was on the old computer that we've gotten rid of, which means I have to make up a new one.  If you're wanting to make one up for yourself, here are several great birth plan printables and examples you can use to do it.   
Did you have a birth plan for any of your births?  How do you feel it helped your situation? 
 
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Sunday, March 23, 2014

8 Must Have Books on Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting

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This post contains affiliate links.

There are so many books out there that focus on pregnancy, birth, and parenting related issues.  If ever there was an over-saturation of a market with a product that covered so much of a spectrum, these topics are it.  What other issue can have twenty-five books promoted a particular practice (such as cry-it-out) and then twenty-five more books discouraging that very same practice.  It can be so overwhelming.  So I thought I'd make the choices a bit easier for you, no matter what season of parenting you're in.  Here are a few books on pregnancy, birth, and parenting that I consider to be must reads.

Pregnancy & Birth
The Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy

This is the book to read if you want an honest and very candid look at all things pregnancy.  I laughed while I learned, that's for sure.  Many of the other pregnancy and birthing books out there discuss aspects of pregnancy in very clinical ways.  Though there is health information in this book, it's given in a more informal way.

Belly Laughs: The Naked Truth about Pregnancy and Childbirth
Jenny McCarthy is her usual funny self in this book.  Along The Girlfriends's Guide, her book was the one that I got the most out of.  Her humor is sometimes tongue in cheek, but it's honest and feels as though you're reading an email from a friend.

Birthing from Within: An Extra-Ordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation
This book is what prepared me for birth.  I honestly believe that my son's natural birth would have been impossible without the knowledge and techniques found in this book.  Though everyone's needs are different, it replaced taking a Lamaze or birthing class for me as it really spoke to my independent nature.

Parenting
Revolutionary Parenting: Raising Your Kids to Become Spiritual Champions
This book packs a punch.  It's based on research done by George Barna of adults that can be considered "spiritual champions".  He's taken the information that the "champions" have shared on their upbringing to address key things that parents can do to help their children grow up strong in their faith. 

Playful Parenting
Play is vital in the life of a child.  This book explains what roles play actually serves for little ones and gives ideas on how parents can relate to their children through play.  I love everything this book presents and think that it's invaluable to all parents.

The Baby Sleep Book: The Complete Guide to a Good Night's Rest for the Whole Family
Sleep (or lack thereof) seems to be one of those constant issues that plagues parents.  Dr. Sears became a quick favorite for me when I began reading this book.  He breaks through the notion that "every baby should " and instead addresses how to address sleep issues based on your baby/child's temperament.  This way of thinking gave affirmation to me in regards to what my gut was telling me.

The Love Dare for Parents
This is my current read.  It contains 40 days of devotionals for parents to read, reflect on, and then apply to their relationship with their children the next day.  The challenges presented in this book are Biblically based and help parents find ways to strengthen their relationships with their children.

The 5 Love Languages of Children
I haven't actually read this book yet.  However, it is next on my reading list and comes highly recommended by several people.  I've just recently began reading about the different love languages, and it really intrigues me.  I'll share more on it after I read it!

 What's your favorite book on pregnancy, birth, or parenting?

 
 
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Friday, March 21, 2014

Easy DIY Wall Art for a Kid's Room {tutorial}

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This post is sponsored by Joann Fabric and Crafts Stores as part of their National Craft Month Campaign.
 
I've just gotten the little kids room repainted and the walls have been bare for a couple weeks now.  I wanted something colorful for the walls that wasn't too themey and was easy to make.  So, Bear and I head out to our local Jo-Ann Fabric and Crafts Store to pick up some materials to make some easy DIY wall art for the kids's room.  Jo-Ann makes spring crafting easy right now during National Craft Month with a $5 off $25 or more purchase coupon and a spring crafting website
 
After wandering around the store, we got several ideas, but Bear decided he like this one the best.  The plan was to make paper mache wall letters that spelled out the word "play".  To cover the letters, we found some fun geometric and floral fabric squares in colors that match the curtains I've yet to sew.
 
The first step was to paint each letter a color that matched the fabric that was going on it.  Luckily, I had paint that was all very close in color.  Bear was able to help with this step.  (You'll notice that we even painted the fronts of the letters, which is the part the fabric covered.  I did this to ensure that the dark of the paper mache material didn't show through the thin cotton fabric.)
 
 
After the paint was dry, I made a paper template of each letter and traced the outline of it onto the backside of the fabric.  Once I got the fabric cut, I laid it on top of the letter to ensure that it fit without any hangover.  Then, I put mod podge on the letter to stick down the fabric.  (Be sure to smooth out any wrinkles quickly.)
 
 
Once the mod podge dried, I hot-glued metal picture hanger brackets onto the back of each letter and they were ready to hang on the wall.  There is still a lot of work to be done on the little kids' room, but this colorful and cute easy DIY wall art is a good start for now.  I'll share more with you as I get it done. 
 
 

 
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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores.
I received compensation for this opportunity, however, all opinions are mine.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Save the Spider {preschool cutting practice}

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Mastering the art of cutting can be tricky for preschoolers.  Bear, now 5 yrs, has had open access to his child-safe scissors since he was almost 3.5.  So he's practiced cutting sporadically over the years. At the time of this spider cutting practice activity, Bear had just turned 4. 
 
To prep for it, I created a word document with a spider clip art and then created several lines to simulate a web.  I made the lines straight and simple.  The goal of this activity was for him to save the spider from the web by cutting it apart on the lines. 
 
 
After Bear was done with the cutting, he wanted to save his project.  so I gave him a piece of construction paper and a glue stick.  Then he put the pieces back together like a puzzle and glued it down so it could be hung on the wall.
 

 What are ways you get your preschooler more comfortable and skilled at cutting?
 

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Saturday, March 15, 2014

David & Goliath Bible preschool activities

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The story of David and Goliath is one that examines the amazing faith of a young boy in the face of giant adversity... literally.  here are some ways that this event in the Bible was explored with preschoolers in our preschool Sunday School class.
 


the story
David was a young boy who was given the task from his father to take his brothers food while they served in the king's army.  When he got there, the men pointed out Goliath, a huge opponent of the army.  Goliath's large size didn't intimidate David, he approach King Saul and volunteered to fight the giant.  The king was shocked at the young boy's statement, but was swayed when David explained that he believed God would keep him safe battling Goliath.  King Saul granted David's request and even offered him armor and a helmet to wear.  But David was content to be armed with his slingshot, 5 stones, and his faith.  Goliath couldn't believe that a young boy would step up to him.  Even more surprising was when David flung one stone and struck Goliath in the head, knocking him over and winning the battle.  Find this story in 1 Samuel 17: 1-50.
 
finding stones
In preparation for this activity, I precut circles 6" in diameter out of brown flannel.  I made small slits every 1.5 inches all the way around the circle.  This provided slots for the kids to use a length of yarn to create a small pouch similar to the one David had.  After weaving the yarn through each hole, the ends were tied together to create the drawstring pouch.  We hid 5 small craft pom poms {per child} around the room.  The children were then able to search for their "pebbles" and place them in their pouch. 
 
hit the giant
To set up this group activity, I drew a face on a paper plate.  I made it similar to the one in our Bible storybook so it was more identifiable as a giant.  I taped the paper plate face a little more than 9 feet high on the wall so that the children could see how tall Goliath really was.  then the children got a chance to take turns trying to hit the "giant" with one "rock".  To take the place of a rock, I used a bean bag.  It was quite cute watching them fling  the bean bag up at the wall.  the success rate of actually hitting the plate was low.  But that was good because it gave us the ability to talk about how hard it really was for David. (even though he did have a slingshot to help him in his endeavor.)
 
Find more Bible-based activities here 

 
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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Is Tear-Free Shampoo Really Tear-Free?

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This has to be the most painful research for a post that I've ever done.  It stems from the high-pitched complaints from my kidlet about soap in his eyes. After trying to persuade him to believe that he was "just fine", my momma-brain kicked in and I had to ask myself:
 Is tear-free shampoo really tear-free?

So I asked my mommy friends for samples of any and all  tear-free shampoos, conditioners, and cleansing products created for kids and labeled as tear-free.  I tested one per day, sometimes with an extra day in between to let my eyes recover.  I lathered up the product and then put the  bubbles and foam into my open eyeballs.  I tried my best to keep them open, though at times, it felt like they had knives sticking in them.  And then I counted to five.  I'm going to tell you that there were some, that I didn't even make it to five before frantically trying to get the burning bubbles out. 
 
I don't understand how some of these alleged "tear-free" products are allowed to be on the market.  How do they test them out?  There's no way they were tested on actual children before being put on store shelves. 
 

 
I tried 10 types tear-free products for children.  Here are my findings:
 
For the most part, Johnson & Johnson's Baby Shampoo is tear-free.  There was a slight discomfort that made it hard for me to keep my eyes open (similar to pool water), but after a quick rinse of water, it disappeared immediately. 
Johnson's wins again.  This is another product I'd likely use on my kiddo.  This was even gentler than the baby shampoo.  It irritated as much as water does.  And again, after a quick water rinse, I was all good.


Aveeno Baby Wash & Shampoo
Yes! A second brand that actually lives up to its label!  Aveeno didn't burn my eyes or leave them goopy.  It felt about the same on my eyes as water does.  So great to know that one of the most renowned companies out there can actually be trusted! 


Equate Tear-Free Baby Wash & Shampoo
Considering that this is a generic brand, it felt fairly close to the Johnson's formula.  It wasn't completely tear-free, but it didn't create an excruciating burn in my eyes, either. Just mild irritation that subsided a few minutes after I rinsed it out.
 
 
Yes To Baby Carrots Shampoo/Body Wash
This was another product that was middle of the road.  There was stinging and irritation when it got in my eyes, but it faded fairly quick.  Wasn't pleasant, but didn't make me want to scream out curse words, either.


Suave Kids 2 in 1 Shampoo
Words don't even come close.  My eyes started watering before the suds even touched my eyes. Then came the burning.  Not as bad as some of the others below, But enough to make me feel horrible for using this on Bear for as long as I have.
 

Seventh Generation Foaming Baby Shampoo and Wash
It's marketed as tear-free, hypoallergenic, and organic.  This stuff hurt. like. hell.  I couldn't even open my eyes.  I said explicatives.  My eyes watered for at least 5 hours afterward.  Every hour, I was wiping crust out of my eyes. 
 
 
Holy moly.  Another naughty word inducer.  I have no words for how much this stuff burned. my. eyes.  I almost cried.  And it took forever under the water to get it out and the rest of the night I was wiping goop out of my eyes.  Not good at all.


The company said that this product is "tear free without the use of numbing agents."  At around $30 a bottle, I can only hope that it helps relieve little ones of their eczema irritations, but it surely isn't tear free. At all, at all...


this hurt.  i had thick goop blurring my vision and pooling in the corners of my eyes for hours.  probably the grossest effects and was one of the most painful.  i don't have high opinions on Honest Co. to begin with, but this experience solidified it.



So there you have it, folks.  There are very few so-called "tear-free" shampoos that do indeed, prove to be minimally irritating to little eyes.  Johnson's and the Aveeno brands are the hands down winners.  But I was really shocked {and a bit outraged} that so many of these companies purport their product to be tear-free, only to have it make a grown woman shout obscenities. 
 

 
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