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Thursday, September 29, 2016

How to use conversation starters with your children...using them with my sweet Delilah

Mom2MomEd Blog: How to use Conversation Starter Cards with your kids

Have you had the time to check out our awesome conversation starters? If not, please make sure you stop on by our Etsy or Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT) shops to get some of your own!

I have used our conversation starters (and others in the past) with both of my kids and my five year old son tends to dominate the conversation when my three year old daughter is around. However, my daughter and I are just hanging at home today while my son is at school, so I thought I'd give the conversation starters another try with just the two of us.

Let's just say that it was adorable and a hit!

I can't wait to do some more with her. I found that once my sweet girl started talking, she became less interested in the coloring part and more into telling me a story.

I'd consider that a HUGE success since that is the whole point of conversation starters right?!?

I tried to choose a conversation starter that would the most age appropriate for her. The card said, "Describe the perfect birthday." 

I opened up a whole floodgate of ideas!

I think I may have some pressure now to provide this perfect birthday! I think I may be able to pull it off!

My daughter's perfect birthday day involves going to the waterpark to play (her actual birthday is in February). She wants to invite all of her friends from school (plus their mamas) to go to Grann's house for cake and games after the waterpark. She will have a blueberry and blackberry flavored cake that is in the shape of a Disney princess (I'm not clear on which princess she prefers). Then we'll play games such as tic-tac-toe and hopscotch. For lunch, she would like chicken noodle soup, carrots, raspberries, rice, and pancakes. After a fun filled day, she will send her friends home with a goody bag full of baby toys (she said so that everyone can have them) including baby snacks, toys, baby spoons and bibs.  She made sure to tell me, "I'll take care of those myself mama."

And there you have it! The perfect birthday for a little 3 year old. Her answers were so cute and made me smile. It was definitely a fun little activity that allowed us to chat for a minute about something I wouldn't otherwise ask her. 

I encourage you to check out our conversation starters and to try them out with your own children. You won't be disappointed!

Learn more about my daughter and how I am trying to balance parenting with her spirited nature in THIS blog post. 

Want to skip straight to the conversation starters? Just head HERE to buy them on Etsy or HERE to buy on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Lunchbox notes--printable and full of fun for kids and adults of all ages!

Did you love our Conversation Starters? If so, we think you'll also really like our printable lunchbox notes. We've been hard at work putting these together in sweet, themed sets and we've been having a blast with them! 

Read below to find out more...
Mom2MomEd Blog: Printable lunchbox notes!
Malea has been using the adult set, centered around success quotes and inspiration, for her son who recently turned 18 years old. 

McKenzie's kids have had fun opening their school lunches and finding little notes for the younger crowd.

And, we both can't wait to use the Halloween notes!

What will your lunch box notes flavor be? Whether it's fill-in-the-blank notes, Halloween notes, quit little thoughts, or quotes to inspire success, we've got you covered! Every set of lunchbox notes in our Etsy shop is printable right from your very own computer--they are delivered to you digitally from Etsy and in PDF form so you can use them right away. No waiting around for shipping. No tracking your order. No hoping they arrive in time for a special day.

Head over to our Etsy shop now to snap up your lunchbox notes! Click HERE or find the big orange Etsy button on our blog's desktop view!

Be sure you take photos of your lunchbox notes in action and share them on social media with the tag #mom2momed!

If you love the lunchbox notes, but would like other ideas and tips on staying connected to your kids (or other loved ones), be sure to click HERE to read all of our posts on connection and family bonds.

Monday, September 19, 2016

We want to hear from you! How do you cope with overwhelming life events?


Mom2MomEd Blog: We need ot hear from you! How do you cope with overwhelming life events?
We need to hear from you!

We have posted a couple of times now about life throwing us for a loop and these past few weeks are no exception! Just as things start to calm down in our lives, either McKenzie or myself gets knocked upside the head with something new. 

And, it's not all just run-of-the-mill stuff that we all experience either.

My uncle was just diagnosed with a brain tumor--grade IV glioblastoma, to be exact. On the one hand, it's the most common brain cancer in adults which should be reassuring, but on the other hand, it's also highly aggressive and outcomes can vary from a few months to many years of life after diagnosis. He is just at the beginning of his treatment journey and a lot is uncertain. Overall, he looks fine, is behaving normally, and he feels fine, but who knows if that will continue? 

Everything feels uncertain. EVERYTHING.


On top of that, there are the everyday dramas and difficulties that come with being an adult. But, somewhere along the way, over the past few weeks, I've hit my wall. And, McKenzie has hit some walls of her own recently.

Truth be told, when I am alone in the car for more than a few minutes, I am falling apart. I even ugly cried twice at work--once in front of my boss. And, my son, 18 years old last month, is struggling too. We'll do support groups and maybe private counseling, but sometimes it feels like TOO MUCH to deal with.

So, dear friends and readers, we want to hear from you.

When life smacks you with something totally unexpected, overwhelming, heartbreaking, or otherwise seemingly huge and impossible, how do YOU cope?

What has worked for you that may not be on our radar?

Do you do best with the usual support groups, counseling, exercise and eating right, or are there other things that you've done to stay sane and get you through difficult periods?

Please share with a comment here or on Facebook or Instagram

Please note, by commenting, you agree to us potentially using your comment, in part or in total and edited or not, in a future blog post. Our hope is that your comments may offer ideas and tips that will not only help McKenzie and I get through some difficulties, but also that you may have insights that will help other readers.


Monday, September 12, 2016

Lessons learned from my son's first week of kindergarten

Mom2MomEd Blog: Lessons learned from my son's first week of kindergarten
The day came and went!

My son FINALLY started kindergarten!

It was a bumpy road, at first, and then it turned into smooth sailing! We prepared, talked about it, met his teacher, and then started school. Just like that, my first born is gone during the day, eating lunch without his mama, and navigating this world on his own (with guidance, of course!).


The summer was fun, tiring, and busy to say the least. I've been ready for a while to shoo my son out the front door and go home to drink a cup of coffee! 

What I wasn't prepared for was the fact that he'd be fine...and that I wouldn't be.

I cried.

I UGLY cried.

And then, I went home and cried some more.

My son was totally fine for days 1 through 4. On day 5, I had to pry my crying children apart, and I cried again. 

We're several days out from that incident now (it was traumatizing for me), and we've transitioned back to happy drop-offs again. Whew!

I seriously thought I'd be super efficient with just one child. I'd get a ton done this first week! I had plans! I even put off specific chores because I knew my time would be significantly freed up with one child in school.

WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!

What I hadn't thought about was the fact that my daughter's primary playmate was suddenly no longer available to her. She had no one to entertain her, direct her, help clean up, or to follow around except for...ME! 

Needless to say, I haven't gotten all of my chores done and we're having a bumpy road navigating our new schedule. Luckily my daughter starts school soon herself. 


But, seriously, this week I have learned A LOT including:
  • My daughter is significantly messier than my son--I already knew this, but not to what degree!
  • She's able to unravel an entire roll of tape in 30 seconds!
  • My taking a shower is the same as giving my daughter a pass to any forbidden part of the house.
  • She will really benefit from preschool and learning some autonomy--she's pretty much spending every day just waiting for her brother to get home. I'm sure this is normal, but I would love for her to develop her own identity separate from her brother.
  • My daughter is the best lunch/snack date ever because she isn't picky about eating anything!
  • I resort to bribing my children way more often than I ever realized--this week alone, I've delivered smoothies, Pez dispensers, small toys, and treats. I'm not particularly proud of that!
  • I'm not going to be very good at balancing all of the schedules.
Mostly, I've learned that change is good.

I'm excited for Hank and all that he is doing. I'm proud that he's taken it upon himself to help out another little boy who is struggling with being in class all day. When I picked him up yesterday, he said, "Mom, I'm giving my friend extra care because I want to make sure he has a great life."


Swoon....

Kindergarten has taken us all out of our comfort zone. It's really pushed my limits in particular. 

I'm used to feeling comfortable and confident in my role at my son's past school. It was like a happy family in which I was heavily involved. 

I feel sort of like a fish out of water right now. Not because I'm unhappy, but because I'm also trying to find my new niche and learning the ropes as I go along. The first few weeks at my son's school are centered around "normalization" so no parents are allowed to volunteer in the classroom yet. It's so hard for me to hold back! It's challenging for me to trust in other adults and that my son has the tools he needs to function without me.

I can feel that our family is evolving. We're moving out of the world of babies and toddlers and into big kid land. 

I have been waiting for this and wanting this, but dang, it's happening fast!

Our new normal is good. We're all doing well and I'm enjoying the new normal.

Malea's son starts college this month so I'm looking forward to hearing about their new normal too!

What are some of your family's back to school rituals? Do you have a hard time dropping off your kids or do you celebrate their way out the door? Or do you maybe feel a little of both like me? Leave your answers in a comment! We LOVE to hear from you!

Be sure you check out our Etsy shop for some fun lunchbox notes! Pack a note in your child's lunch every day as you send them off to school and when they open up their lunch they'll know you are thinking of them. Get your lunchbox notes HERE.
Mom2MomEd Blog: Lunchbox notes on Etsy

Thursday, September 8, 2016

5 Valid Reasons to Take a Break From Blogging


Reasons not to blog
If you have been following along on Mom2MomEd either here on the blog or over on Facebook, you may have noticed a big drop off in our posts. We had posted previously about life getting in the way of our progress, but then life REALLY amped things up in both good and not so good ways.

As a result, I have been thinking a lot about when it is and isn't ok to take a break from overall goals, and in particular McKenzie's and my goals for Mom2MomEd. Sometimes you have to step back, re-evaluate priorities and adjust. And, sometimes you even have to dump everything to deal with immediate needs. Last week, my family was hit square in the face with a "dump everything to deal with immediate needs" situation--and it's not even close to being over, although things have calmed down some.

So, today, I present you with FIVE valid reasons to take a break from blogging:

1. YOUR FAMILY
In the past two weeks, McKenzie's son started kindergarten and her daughter started preschool. My own son turned 18, and a family member had an out-of-nowhere health crisis (see point #4 below). Plus, my dad and step-mom who live only 10 minutes from me are preparing to move far, far away--a transition I knew about but am not ready for. 

Our families needed us and we needed them (and still do!). If family isn't a good reason to take a break from a blog, then I don't know what is!

2. YOUR EMOTIONAL HEALTH
Along with family, your emotional health is a great reason to take a blogging break. Sometimes, you just get to a point where your brain and your body start pushing back and telling you, "ENOUGH! Take a break! Pull back and refocus!"

I've been feeling that a lot lately!

Between my son hitting three milestones all at once (turning 18, starting to drive, and starting college), working two jobs in addition to Mom2MomEd, a family emergency, and family moving away, I am SPENT!

I have had minimal energy left for anything other than meeting immediate needs.

I love Mom2MomEd and our plans for our business, but my brain simply couldn't process anything other than the above...at least that was the case prior to this morning.

Until today, I was an emotional wreck and it was causing me to sleep too much but without actually feeling rested, to have headaches, and to generally feel awful emotionally and physically. 

3. YOUR FOUR WALLS


If you are a Dave Ramsey follower, you likely have heard him talking about the "four walls" and how those needs must be met before anything else can be addressed in your financial life. Although it has been a long while since I've been in financial crisis mode, taking a blogging break to get your financial life in order is crucial. Yes, you could potentially earn money via blogging, but that is a long-haul and few strike it rich from blogging quickly (or even slowly!).

If you are struggling financially, back off of your blogging and focus on ensuring that you have enough money coming in to cover your "four walls"--food, shelter, basic clothing, and transportation. If you aren't meeting these financial needs, stop blogging and find some other ways to earn money faster and in larger quantities! Once your four walls are stable, you can re-evaluate your blogging plans.

Thankfully, McKenzie and I both have our four walls in place and covered! 

4. AN EMERGENCY 
As mentioned above, my family had a serious emergency last week, and it will have long lasting repercussions. I think most of us are still getting over the shock and trying to wrap our heads around what happened and what is to come. I'm not ready to share details yet, although McKenzie knows what is going on (that's what BFFs are for, right?). 

Because of the emergency, I left work early, traded shifts, and have spent a lot of time sorting through the healthcare system and what has happened, needs to happen, and might happen. It is going to be a long, stressful road for my family and many friends. And, it's too early to tell how this will all play out.

If you or someone you love is having a true emergency, it is perfectly OK to stop blogging--in fact, I encourage you to take a break.
Focus on the crisis at hand and work towards stability.  
 
5. YOU ARE MAXED OUT
By now, you've probably figured out that I have been totally MAXED OUT recently! I just had nothing left in the tank day after day over the last few weeks. In addition to the chaos of our family emergency, I also am an introvert working very long shifts in an extrovert environment. I love my job, but it can be draining mentally! Plus, it is draining physically--I can easily get 5,000 steps in just the first few hours of my shifts! Add in my son's milestones, family moving, a weeklong visit from my mom, and so much more, and well, I'm DONE! FRIED! OVER IT!

Sometimes you just need a break--something had to give for me, and it turned out to be blogging. Thankfully, McKenzie is an amazing friend and business partner. We balance one another well, and we both understand that sometimes life takes over and you have little control over what is happening. 

It is in those moments that you have to agree to back off and refocus.

If you are blogging or working on some other project that is in addition to your family, livelihood, and other priorities, I give you permission to let the blogging or other projects go on hold until life is sorted and you feel more balanced!

Be sure to check out our other posts about handling life when things get difficult HERE.