October 2, 2015

The Age of Adjustment

His tiny body was almost convulsing. He gasped for air repeatedly and was sobbing uncontrollably. I asked him what was wrong and he couldn't articulate the issue so the scene continued to escalate.

This all started with dinner and his spoon. He wouldn't eat and he threw his spoon on the ground over and over again. I wasn't happy with his behavior but I was calm with my two year old, I didn't raise my voice or my hand. I explained that tonight, unlike nights past, he would not get a treat after dinner and we wouldn't be having family movie night. His privileges for the evening were revoked. I thought I was winning as a parent since I managed to maintain my cool while he was clearly losing his. And maybe that's true but while he stooped and shouted in his toddler-induced craze, my heart was breaking. 

I have been my son's caretaker and his comforter. I make things better when he cries. I kiss his boo boos when he gets hurt and I rub his back when he can't sleep. So It was very difficult for me to sit there and bear witness to the dramatics that had ensued since dinner time. I had the power to make his two-year-old world all better but I was handcuffed by my duty as a parent. I needed to make this a teaching moment. I was obligated to be diligent and unwavering, to show no sign of weakness but the truth is I was weak. I wanted to cry because in his eyes I was the cause of his distress.

People call this stage the "terrible twos" and if you spend more than 30 minutes with any two-year-old I'm sure you'll see why that name is so appropriate. But this time is difficult because the child isn't the only one going through a transitional period, so are the parents. The child is learning boundaries, communication and more advanced motor skills while also juggling their unquenchable curiosity. The parents are learning to adjust to their new role implementing a desired level of conduct and balancing that with cuddles and caregiving. 

I realize that as my son gets older the amount of cuddles are going to dwindle and the moments when disciplinary action is necessary will increase. I also realize that it's my duty as a parent to be a disciplinarian and not necessarily his best friend. That's not to say that we can't have great times together but I need to equipped him with values, principles and integrity, and to do so requires me to be firm when I discipline him.

I struggle with promising disciplinary action and not following through: early bedtimes are never realized and the treats he doesn't earn are eaten. Like every parent I'm not perfect but I'm really struggling with the paradigm shift to a stricter disciplinarian. I want my son to look at me and see a safe, comforting place and in the moment, when he's screaming and crying, I sometimes lose sight that I can still accomplish that without giving into his bizarre temper tantrums. I don't have it all figured out and I think it's fair to say that as soon as I think I do have things figured out I'll be faced with an entirely new set of challenges.

Have you had to deal with walking the fine line between being your child's disciplinarian and friend? How have you learned to adjust and if you have any tips please share in the comments below.

Be Blessed,
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September 22, 2015

Grilled BBQ Chicken Pizza

Fall means football, beautiful changing leaves, the smell of campfires and the disappearance of mosquitos and the scorching Southern summertime weather. It also means it's time to indulge on some of my favorite meals: chili, french dip sandwiches, stuffed peppers and grilled pizza. 

The smell that fills the air when you grill a pizza is likely to make your tastebuds do a little anticipatory dance and make your neighbors turn their heads in envy. So make two (or three) grilled pizzas and have a little party outside so that you can enjoy the amazing Fall weather! If you really want to make an impression try this amazing Grilled BBQ Chicken Pizza.  

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 cup BBQ Sauce
1 tube refrigerated pizza crust
Olive oil
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
2 cups shredded gouda cheese
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Flour, as needed

You'll also need a pizza stone

Preparation Instructions:
Marinate the chicken breasts in the Wicker's Original Marinade and Baste over night. Grill chicken until fully cooked, shred with two forks and set aside. 

Prepare the grill and pizza stone. In the meantime, roll out the pizza dough according to the package instructions. You may want to add extra flour to help roll out the dough. Lightly brush both sides of the dough with olive oil to ensure that the dough doesn't stick to the pizza stone. Once the dough is ready, grill the crust on one side for about 2-3 minutes and then remove it from the heat to add the toppings. You'll flip the pizza and add the toppings on the grilled side. 

First spread the BBQ sauce, then add half the shredded gouda cheese, all sliced red onion and shredded chicken. Finally add the rest of the cheese and cilantro. 

Return the entire pizza to the pizza stone on the grill. Grill pizza until the crust is dark brown and all the ingredients have visibly melted together, about 4-5 minutes.

Now all that's left to do is indulge on the deliciousness! What are your favorite pizza toppings? Have you ever tried them on a grilled pizza?

To find more great recipes check out my collection here

Be Blessed,
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September 11, 2015

Thankful by Eileen Spinelli

I am committed to providing my sons with a safe, faith-filled learning environment in our home. A large part of that mission is to read to them daily. By reading enriching stories I help nourish their curiosity and enhance their knowledge of the world. I am constantly on the lookout for new books to add to our story times. 

One of our favorite new bedtime books is Thankful by Eileen Spinelli. It's a poetic children's book with whimsical illustrations. The purpose of the story is to make children aware that there's always something for which they can be thankful and it teaches them to find joy in life's day-to-day. It's a simple, rhythmic tale that continually reinforces its message so that toddlers and young children can begin to learn from it. 

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and I want to start teaching my sons the true meaning of the holiday and I am using this book as a tool to help me do just that. The message is clear and concise so I don't have to worry about confusing my little ones. I do wish that there was more of an underlying theme of faith but God's Word is mentioned once and the concept of thankfulness is something that is well rooted in Scripture. The illustrations directly support the text and they keep things entertaining and fun for my toddler. 

As a mom, as a reader, as a women trying to teach faithfulness and thankfulness to others, I would recommend this book.

What are some of your favorite bedtime stories for toddlers and young children?

BookLook Bloggers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for
Be Blessed,
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September 7, 2015

Why I Quit My Job

I haven't discussed it much but after I found out that we were expecting our second child my husband and I made the very tough decision for me to step away from work. That decision wasn't made lightly and the process to become a stay at home mom (SAHM) involved prayer, arguments and a good bit of soul searching. We believed it was a decision made in the best interests of our growing family and my personal health. I say my personal health because they still do not know why I had my first son prematurely (but I have some of my own suspicions).

At the time my first son was born I worked in advertising for one of the largest and most well known ad agencies in the world. I was surrounded by extremely ambitious young professionals who all seemed to have graduated top of their respective class, while being a student athlete, the president of their fraternal organization or they were named most promising young mind of the century - okay that last one might be a stretch but I am a big fan of hyperbole and honestly that's what it felt like to me. Being surrounded by that type of talent in such a fast paced, high pressure job was a huge motivator for me. But I got caught up in a world of perception and keeping up with the Jones, or in my case keeping up with my cube mate. The show and dance took its toll. Since most of the employees under middle maunagaemt weren't issued laptops it forced us to work from the limiting confines of our grey cubicles, which meant when my buddy across the hall stayed until 9 p.m. so too did I. I didn't want people to get the impression that I wasn't a team player or that I was some sort of slacker. But it was never just one night a week, it was almost daily that I enjoyed 2-3 of my meals from my rotating office chair. And when the work was done the collective group of talented and extremely beautiful people all made their way to the bar downstairs to throw back some adult beverages. I was pregnant so I didn't drink but like I said I got caught up in a game of perception and I wanted to fit in, so many times I joined the group for a late night decompression session while I sipped on water and watched them relax with the help of some drinks. 

I thought I was relaxing but hindsight is 20/20. Now I can clearly see the high level of stress and anxiety I was under, daily. I was constantly fighting to be noticed for my work but it was very plain to see that I was one of the only married, and now pregnant, women in my position. There was a reason for that - stress. I believe my body shut down. It said enough is enough and my water broke early because I couldn't manage. Well at least that's what I think.

Knowing all this prompted the discussion to transition to a SAHM when I was expecting baby #2. I was working for a different, more family friendly agency but the fact remains that advertising, as an industry, is unrelenting in its hours and expectations. I realize I'm talking about advertising and no we are not saving lives but you are up against tight deadlines and it was my job to make sure the clients were happy which meant I was on call almost all the time, glued to my phone and a slave to my laptop. I couldn't put myself through the same type of experience I had with baby #1. I took the plunge and I made a decision, along with my husband, that I never dreamt I would make - I quit my job and I now stay home with the kids.

When I walked into the office the dayI broke the news I was trembling. This was hands down one of the scariest decisions I had ever made, not just for my career but for my family as well. It meant we'd need to survive on a single income with two children. It meant we would have to live within a budget, that Starbuck runs were basically eliminated, that the stress of providing financially now was on my husband's shoulders. It also meant that the I needed to provide an environment for my children that's stimulating, educational and ever-changing. It meant my dreams of progressing up the career ladder would change forever. The future as I saw it would be forever changed. 

Everyday I struggle with the decision we made. That's not to say I'm not happy to be home with my beautiful children or that I'm not grateful for the sacrifices my husband has made but I still worry. What if my littles are watching too much TV? What if I spend too much money this week? What if I just need a break every once in a while? What if my house is a mess and there's a pile of laundry on the floor? What if I don't balance meals for my boys?

I could drown myself in the "what ifs" and worry. The days can be long and life as a SAHM can be lonely and stressful in a ways I never anticipated but I wouldn't trade this time for anything. I do envision this as a temporary situation. I think I will go back to a traditional job at some point but for now I'm freelancing and loving each snuggle, diaper change (okay maybe not that) and the afternoons of sidewalk chalk and Mickey Mouse Club.

I'm praying for guidance as I journey through this phase of life, one I never dreamed of prior to children. I'm praying for patience during the long days, for wisdom to raise and nourish my children and most of all for new dreams for my future. A future that God intends for me because through all this I've learned that his plan is bigger than my own. He sees things I simply cannot and he is the captain of this ship. 

Since having children have you transitioned to a become a working mom or SAHM? How are you handling the change? 

Be Blessed,
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August 27, 2015

Hey Mama It's a Giveaway

When you're expecting or if you have a new little darling, the last thing you want to do is add difficult challenges to your everyday life. It's not a secret that pregnancy comes with its fair share of difficulties and so too does breastfeeding. Late nights, cramping and exhaustion are all things you can expect when you're expecting and when you're nursing. With this list of undesirable side effects the goal really should be to make things easier on new and expecting mamas.

I can't promise to make this time in your life a cake walk but I have discovered a product that will make it more delicious and it's specially formulated with great health benefits for new and expecting moms.

What am I talking about?

Hey Mama Teas 

A delicious line of iced teas that will make searching for a refreshing, baby-safe beverage a no brainer.

These amazing teas are made with naturally caffeine-free ingredients and contain 800mcg of Folic Acid. They come in four different flavors and each one is uniquely brewed to offer a different set of pre or postnatal benefits. My personal favorite is Lemon Glow. It is the perfect, refreshing drink to enjoy outside during this hot Georgia summer.

Here's a list of all the flavors and some of their key ingredients.

Prenatal Blends:
  • Minty Morning - made with organic peppermint leaf, organic ginger and organic red roobios tea
  • Lemon Glow - made with organic raspberry leaf, organic nettle and organic red roobios tea
Postnatal Infusions:
  • Raspberry Divine - made with organic red raspberry leaf, organic oat straw and organic blessed thistle
  • Life's a Peach - made with organic fenugreek, organic fennel and organic chamomile
If you're a new or expecting mama or if you're just looking for some new delicious beverages you should check out all the great options from Hey Mama Teas and one of my lucky readers is going to win a four pack sampler, just follow the directions and enter below for your chance to win.

Be Blessed,
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August 18, 2015

Breastfeeding Essentials

It's happenstance that August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month and it also happens to be the month I began breastfeeding again, since it's the month I had my second son!

My first experience nursing was met with several challenges. The greatest of those arose from having a baby in NICU that was initially incapable of eating. He was hooked up to a feeding tube that filled his stomach with the proper nutrients to sustain his health and growth - sometimes that included pumped breast milk fortified with vitamins and sometimes that meant formula. I was therefore forced to rely solely on a pump to stimulate my milk supply and it was incredibly difficult. You see your body naturally responds to the demands your infant places on it to generate the proper amount of milk. While a pump is incredibly helpful after your milk supply is established I would not recommend it as your sole means of releasing milk, especially early on in your pregnancy.

Now that I am a well seasoned breastfeeding professional, I thought I'd share some of my personal breastfeeding essentials. All kidding aside, I should point that I am by no means an expert, all advice you'll find here is based primarily on my own experience.

A Breast Pump 
A breast pump is a great asset to help you save your milk for the future. You can freeze it or you can have your hubby feed baby in the middle of the night and you can have a good night's sleep. If you're a working mama the breast pump allows you to keep up your milk supply even when you're not nursing, just be sure to bring some sort of insulated carrying case so that the milk stays cold until you get home.

Also, most insurance companies now cover the costs (all or partial) of a breast pump - be sure to check your coverage before having your little one. Your insurance company may require a prescription from your doctor, so just mention it to him or her at your next prenatal appointment.

Hey Mama Teas
After nine to ten months of depriving yourself of sushi, lunchmeat and, for some, caffeine - treating yourself to a delicious tea that also helps stimulate milk production is ah-ma-zing! Hey Mama Teas are specially formulated with naturally caffeine free ingredients.

There are four different varieties:

  • Lemon Glow
  • Minty Morning 
  • Raspberry Divine
  • Life's A Peach
The first two are formulated with awesome benefits for pregnant mamas and the second two are perfect for nursing moms but they are all delicious! You can check out their entire line of awesome products here.

Update: Check out my full review of Hey Mama Teas here.

Nursing Pads
For those of you who are new to breastfeeding, leakage is an actual thing. Make sure that you have some nursing pads on hand. I'd recommend wearing them even if you don't think you'll need them. The last thing you want is to be out and about and you have two very prominent wet spots on the front of your shirt (I'm speaking from experience here, just trust me).

Nursing Scarfs
One of the great things about nursing is that you never have to worry about packing a bottle when you leave the house, you're literally a walking food supply for your baby and it's such a beautiful thing. What's even more beautiful is now there are gorgeous accessories that assist you while nursing and also keep you looking fabulous. One of my favorite accessories is a nursing scarf. They look like normal infinity scarfs but they open up so that you can cover yourself and baby when you nurse. They're especially perfect when you want to spend an afternoon picking out cute new baby clothes and you don't want to be confined to a public bathroom or your car to nurse.

Whether you have a baby or not scarves like the ones offered by Kismet Love Collection are perfect for every stage of baby.

Nursing/Teething Necklaces
If you follow me on Instagram then you know I LOVE nursing necklaces/teething necklaces. I wore them while I was pregnant and my toddler loved to play with them. Now that I'm nursing I wear them so my little guy has something that will stimulate him while he eats so he doesn't fall asleep. Just like the nursing scarfs they look great whether you have littles or not! I buy all my necklaces from Wee Kings because they are affordably priced and very high quality. Plus each necklace comes with a pair of matching earrings and who doesn't love that?!?!

Burp Cloths
You may have to deal with a little spit up when you burp baby or some milk dripage or you may just need to wipe your brow - no matter the reason you really can't have enough burp cloths on hand. I used them most often by tucking them into my nursing bra so that if the baby drools or if I drip I don't get it all over my clothes. If you don't have a beautiful Kismet Love Collection scarf then you can use a burp cloth to cover up as well.

Nursing Bra
When your little one is hungry you don't want to be fumbling around with your bra. Nursing bras provide you with the support you need from a regular bra and they also give you easier access to accommodate you and your little one when they're hangry. I found some great options (in larger sizes) at BuyBuy Baby, here's a link if you're looking for some great options.

A Comfy Chair 
Breastfed babies are harder to put on a schedule so chances are you'll be up more often cuddling and feeding your little. You want to have a comfortable place to relax and nurse. A comfy chair in a well lit area is a breastfeeding essential. I like to keep a small table next to mine so I can set up my breast pump, place my Hey Mama Tea or put my phone or kindle.

These are just some of my favorite breastfeeding essentials but the list is by no means inclusive of all necessities.

Do you have any breastfeeding essentials for nursing your little(s)?

Be Blessed,
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