Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Tough Conversations? There's an "Ep" for That! #StreamTeam

"Mommy, why did Opa have to die?"
"Mom, what if there is a fire?"
"Well, how do you know if you've started your period?"
"So and so and so and so were talking about 'hotboxing'."
"She called her a b____ and I just want everyone to get along since I'm friends with both of them."
"I felt lonely at the playground today."
"I mad!"

There are so many things that come up with kids on a daily basis that it's ever so crucial to provide an environment where they can comfortably and safely talk about any and all subjects.  George and I have always tried to instill in our kids that we want them to talk to us, come to us with questions--no matter how uncomfortable, so that they are getting accurate information and advice on how to navigate the sometimes choppy waters of childhood into adolescence. The teen conversations include some topics that are foreign to anything we had to deal with as teenagers ourselves and we don't have our parents to be able to call and say, "Hey, how did you handle when someone was saying mean things online?"  WE are the first generation of parents for that. So sometimes we fly by the seat of our pants.

Though, we are lucky.

We have communicative children.  Sometimes things take an extra push or pull to get out of them, but for the most part, we just have to open the dialogue.

Lately, Lily  has had some fears about being alone or having a fire.  After watching a Veggie Tales episode of Where's God When I'm Scared on Netflix and talking with her about those fears, assuring her, and reminding her we are always here, I can just start humming or singing the song from that episode and she will smile.

Violet is two.  Enough said??  Well, what that means is, she's ALL about expressing her emotions. Our buddy, Daniel Tiger helps out with that no matter what the situation is with her right now. She's mad? We've got an episode to watch and a song to sing.  She wants to go potty?  Let's watch! You know how many times a day we "fake potty"?

Reagan is starting middle school next year. This opens up a whole new set of challenges and although we've been through these years with Andrew already, she is our first girl to navigate. Ack! All of a sudden she's so grown up!

Netflix is host to a variety of family-friendly shows that explore a range of real-life issues with equal measures of humor, angst and heart. No matter what your situation is, chances are there’s a show and episode that can kickstart a dialogue around the topic just by watching it together.

Here's a few suggestions:

Let's Talk About...

For the little kids:

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Sibling Rivalry
Watch Ep. S1E1: Babee's Room
Buzzbee and Rubee compete over who Babee (their new sibling) gets to room with. Mom and Dad must explain to Buzzbee and Rubee that Babee needs to grow up before she can share a room.

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Watch Ep. S1E1: Puppies & Guppies/ Sorry We’re Closed Today
Larry and Laura Carrot want to adopt puppies but quickly learn it takes responsibility in order to watch over and care for a pet of their own.
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Following the Rules
Watch Ep. S1E6: Stormy Weather/ Baba’s Adventure/ Rock Music
Mama tells Oona and Baba to stay close with a storm approaching. After ignoring her advice, Oona and Baba get stuck in a seagull nest during the heavy thunderstorms.

For the big kids:

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Watch Ep. 113: Star
After Dulcinea feels like no one in the group needs her help, she tries to use a newly-discovered wishing star to show her worth -- but fails -- showing her that presence alone has lit up her friends’ lives all along.
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Watch Ep. 103: Smart is the New Cool
After McKeyla insists she works better alone, she learns that four is better than one when her friends jump in to help her rescue the Prince from a botched space mission.
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Peer Pressure
Watch Ep. 106: The Legend of El Explosivo
After getting grounded for sneaking off to Bobby Popko’s house, Jackson realizes he needs to stand up for what he knows is right and not give in to please his friends.

For the teens:

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Social Media FOMO
Watch Ep. 102: Girl Meets Boy
Cory challenges his class to unplug from their phones for a week. When Riley and her crush Lucas sit down to talk face-to-face, personal stories bring them closer.
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Self Improvement
Watch Ep. 104: Kimmy Goes to the Doctor!
Kimmy quickly realizes that she can’t fix her problems by simply “Buhbreezing” them away – real change comes from the inside.
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Body Image
Watch Ep. 101: #BootyCall
According to the kids of Degrassi Community School, butts are the new boobs. But Shay’s realization that “brains are the new butts” can speak to a number of body image insecurities.

Disclosure: As a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam I was provided subscription to Netflix and also exclusive insights or other products. All opinions are my 100% my own and I was already a proud Netflix subscriber prior to this opportunity. Please see my full disclosure.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

2, 4, 6, 8 Who Do We Appreciate?!

As the school year is beginning to wind down, I'm trying to maintain sanity through a crazy busy schedule of field trips, finals, track & field events, rehearsals, end of year concerts, amidst the regular homework and evening routine.  As the weather gets warmer and the sun stays up later, the kids play outside later also as we're all anticipating summertime.

One of my favorite weeks in May is Teacher Appreciation Week and we took the opportunity to celebrate Lily's teacher with little treats every day.  Her teacher is phenomenal and we could not thank her enough! Lily enjoyed picking out the treats and putting them together for her teacher each day.

Monday we sent in her teacher's favorite candy for a sweet treat to start the week! I left the words "Junior Mint"outlined so that Lily could color the letters in herself.  
"I may just be JUNIOR sized, but I was MINT for you to help me learn and grow big in kindergarten this year!"

Tuesday, which was actually Teacher Appreciation Day, Lily wanted to send her teacher's favorite flowers in for her. She also included a handwritten note that said, "Thank you for helping me bloom!"

Wednesday, we picked a drink for her teacher. Lily said her teacher drinks water with lemons or lemonade and since we'd already previously given her a personalized cup, we found a nice lemonade to send in and attached a little note that included the sweet phrase "easy peasy" that Lily says a lot. It was also Star Wars Day...May the 4th be with you.
"You've helped make kindergarten easy peasy lemon squeezy!

Thursday, was the PTSO Teacher Appreciation luncheon and we'd already contributed our donations for that, so Lily decided her teacher needed a sweet treat for dessert.  A local cupcake place Gigi's Cupcakes had these adorable mini cupcakes that were decorated to look like apples and we placed an order the afternoon before, picked them up that morning and had a perfect gift!
"I couldn't have picked a better teacher for me than you!"

Friday morning was a special day for Lily-- her very first field trip! We wrapped up Teacher Appreciation Week with Lily's favorite gift to give her teacher.  Earlier in the week, Lily had asked what her teacher's favorite thing to do in the summer is. The answer was reading books in the sun. We found a colorful, big beach towel and gave her a gift card for books.  The note attached said,
"Thank you for making kindergarten so much fun! I hope you enjoy your favorite summer activity--reading in the sun!"

It was important for me to help Lily celebrate her teacher this week. We didn't spend a lot of money and every cent we did spend was worth it. It was a perfect week for honoring someone who has been very important in all of our lives this year. 

 I created all of the tags in black and white so that I could print on colored or patterned paper. I saved on ink and it gave me more options!

 What do you do to thank or celebrate your child's teacher?

Monday, May 9, 2016

Mother's Day Weekend

Mother's Day 2016 in the books!

Our weekend started out Friday evening with Reagan and I going to the art show at the high school while Lily and Violet went to bed super early --- 6:30pm early ---, Andrew went to see Captain America Civil War at the movies with friends, and George slept before work that night.  Lily and Andrew both shared with me what their contributions at Arts Alive were, so we were on the hunt!

I love that the elementary school art teachers have each class contribute something and display them this night too. Lily's class made "a quilt out of paper."  I wondered if I would find Lily's square and sure enough I recognized her letter Q. A quick glance on the back and sure enough, it was hers.

We looked at all the art on display in the gym and found Reagan's wizard that the 6th graders contributed.
 Andrew has taken some classes as part of the Tech Ed program in the high school that he loves. Last year he had a robotics class, this year is a class called Evolution of Games. He will be taking Mobile Game Design and both 2D and 3D Programming as well.  He and another student designed this games below and printed the pieces using a 3D printer.

Reagan and I made our way around the high school looking at all kinds of artwork --sculptures, photography, quilts, model cars, pottery, you name it.  I was so impressed with the talent in our district! It was also great for Reagan to be able to see all the opportunities available for middle school and high school students as she starts middle school next year.

We headed home and after a long day, I went to bed early!

Saturday started out very early. Like 4:25am early.  Lily came into my bedroom complaining of a sore throat and she was burning up.  I stumbled to the kitchen for ibuprofen and some water for her and finally convinced her that it would help her feel better if she went back to sleep. Thankfully. she eventually did.  

George arrived home early morning and luckily let me sleep until around 9 or so when Lily woke up again.  This time I noticed she was covered in a rash, red faced, and still warm.  With a spot in her throat, I suspected she had strep throat.  A trip to urgent care was imminent and strep throat was confirmed.  She felt terrible. :(  

We took a trip to the pharmacy right after so she could get started on her antibiotics and she spent the rest of the day resting and eating popsicles. 

Reagan was going to a sleepover birthday party later in the day, so we had to do a little birthday gift shopping before the party. I dropped her at her friend's house and headed home, looking forward to relaxing for the evening watching the Penguins playoff game with the girls and George.  Andrew ended up going bowling and after the game, I snuggled in bed with Criminal Minds on Netflix.  I started watching the show from the beginning recently and have made my way to season 8 currently.  

Mother's Day started out really nice. George let me sleep in again which was fantastic for two days in a row!  Lily excitedly woke up and shouted "Happy Mother's Day!" --ever our celebrator who loves to remember others!  We picked Reagan up from her sleepover around 10 and went to pick up doughnuts for everyone.  When we got back, George started working on getting the boat ready for the season, Andrew mowed the grass, Reagan worked on pulling weeds, and Lily wanted to help too. Violet hung out on the boat with George and ran around the yard. When George finished up with the boat, he used the leaf blower around the front of the house and the driveway for a bit.  It was really nice just having everyone working together and getting things done which is a rarity because of our schedules.  I appreciated so much their acts of service for Mother's Day!  The only thing I told G I wanted for Mother's Day was not to have to cook. He suggested either going to or getting food from one of our original local favorites.  A place where we celebrated many milestones early in our relationship.  It was thoughtful and sweet.  I opted for us to eat at home.

We all hung out outside for awhile then George and all the kids went to run a few errands and see his mom for a few minutes.  I relished in the complete and utter silence at home by myself while they were gone. It was refreshing!

I love the sweet gifts kids make in school so much!

Lily gave me a sweet flower pot that she wrote and colored at school. It will forever have her drawing of herself at 5 years old in kindergarten and "I love you, Mommy!" in her handwriting. 

 She also made me a card where under each petal she wrote something for "my mom is:
a good cook, sweet, pretty, nice, awesome, and careful."

 This is the first time in the nine years that George and I have been together that Reagan has spent Mother's Day with us. She thoughtfully made me a gift at school also.  The back side has a letter she wrote to me that was sincere, genuine, and I truly appreciated it!

I got sweet cards from my husband and Andrew and flowers from them all as well.  It really was a happy, content day!

How did you spend Mother's Day this year?

Breaks and Changes

I've been taking a little blogging break for the last month or so.  Life has been busy with the kids' activities, but more than that I've been focusing on being present with my family. Every now and again I just need to reevaluate and ensure that the time I'm investing blogging is balanced appropriately.

The part of blogging that I love so much is the storytelling and connection. I'm going to be working on updating my blog design and making some changes in continuing to keep the majority of Andrew's life private. I'm also planning on resuming my Blended Family series as we are embarking on a new chapter into middle school and we are unfortunately still constantly dealing with conflicting households it seems.

Ultimately, I'd like to just get back to the basics. Writing to journal and share our adventures as well as continuing to work with the companies that I love and products that enhance our lives.

Thanks for the patience and for sticking around!