A Nighttime Story

A Nighttime

Almost every night before bed, our children ask me or dad to read them a story. It’s a nighttime tradition I cherish. Especially as a graduated English and Literature major, literature–whether children’s, adult, fiction or non–is near and dear to my heart.

When my first was born in 2012, I read to her constantly. I took it upon myself to adopt the idea of speaking to my babies as adults (thanks Meet the Fockers–see video clip here) and carried it over into literature as well. I read her Lewis Carroll’s version of Alice in Wonderland the most and several other well-known classics.

As I began to look into children’s literature, I found there are so many children’s books that are also rich, moving and contain meaning. I started to fall in love with children’s literature and become intrigued with weaving meaning and lessons in with lively, realistic or completely unrealistic, imaginative children’s stories. The Pirate Train

Last night I read our children a new book, The Pirate Train by Nicole Plyler Fisk. It’s captivating, it’s fun and it’s a great, imaginative story about family. It contains planes, trains and pirate ships, because like the author mentions in her dedication to her son, “Why not?” My three-year-old laughed along with the story and my one-year-old pointed at all his favorite illustrations as we read through the book. It’s easily becoming a favorite.

To top it off, there’s a read-along online, too, for when mom needs a few minutes to herself and the kids INSIST on reading!

Do you have a nighttime story ritual, or do you read to your children often? If so, what’s a book you would recommend?

The Pirate Train banner

Disclosure: HE partnered with The Pirate Train to bring you this awesome post because I only recommend products or services I believe will be awesome for my readers as parents and that I consistently use or believe in, personally.

The 10 Gifts Mom Bloggers Really Want For Christmas

 

Gifts, Christmas, Mom bloggers

As moms and as bloggers, there are plenty of things that run through our mind. Many of which get an “Oh, wouldn’t that be nice” and are promptly filed away in our brain as unattainable and forgotten. Well, I think it’s time to do what we do best: compile a list. This list, specifically, consists of all the things we really want for Christmas. And if anyone reading it is able to make it happen, I’d call you Santa, I’d call you Saint Nicholas… honestly, I’d call you anything you want.

Canva

So, if you’re curious what the mom bloggers in your life actually want for Christmas, check out this list:

  1. Canva to have an app for phones. If you haven’t used or heard of Canva to create your designs, pull your head out from under a rock and check it out! It’s such a simple and quality way to create awesome images for your posts and they have so many free options. There’s also the option to purchase some designs for $1. Either way, it’s a win, and if I could access it on my phone, I would be unstoppable via mobile. You can be happy that I did receive the response in the photo above from Canva when posting this request via Twitter. Click on the photo to go to their suggest-an-idea page and suggest it!
  2. The ability to schedule texts. As a blogger and social media manager, I’ve gotten in the habit of scheduling E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. I make calendars for content an entire month in advance. I schedule posts weeks in advance. I schedule social media platform (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) posts days in advance. Basically, the second I think of something, I either set a reminder in a calendar or schedule it. Otherwise, there’s a certainty possibility I’ll forget. Lately, I think of a text I want to send someone but it’s either too late or not appropriate at the moment and all I want is the ability to schedule the text ahead of time like I would a reminder or a post.
  3. A tool that will preschedule across ALL social media platforms. No, it doesn’t openly exist yet. And you know what? I’d even be willing to pay for it. I said it. I would pay money for a tool that allowed me to schedule my posts across every single one of my social media platforms. I’m so tired of going from tab to tab and app to app to schedule posts to all of my platforms because there’s no tool that encompasses any and all platforms I want to promote on. Come on, creators! It’s almost 2016, and it’s time we have the option readily available. Bonus points if this tool includes tracking, statistics and engagement charts.
  4. The ability to “like” as much as we want on Facebook without receiving the infamous like ban. I’m a social person. I run both my blog and a growing company’s social media sites. I “like” things A LOT. And although I have strategically avoided the dreaded like ban, I think there needs to be some appeal process in place that allows those of us with legitimate promotional marketing strategies to heighten our “like” quota, within reason.
  5. A discount on Adobe–InDesign or Photoshop, specifically–products. Students and teachers get discounts. They get HUGE discounts, as a matter of fact (60% to be exact). And you know what? I’ll be damned if moms who blog don’t deserve a discount too.
  6. A photography class. Seriously, if there’s one thing on this list YOU as the reader can legitimately buy the mom blogger in your life, it’s a photography class at your local college or studio. Get on Groupon or just skim over some local college websites, and if they’re offering a beginner or general photography class, we would be so impressed with the person who gifted it to us. It’s something we all want to improve upon but one of the last things on our list to invest in.
  7. A photogenic house. Yes, the messiness is great for the posts where we reach out to other parents who deal with crazy children who are also terrorizing lives and homes, but once in a great while, it would be nice to be able to snap a photo of a picture-perfect, decorated home. No toys, no laundry strewn throughout, no food splattered on all the surfaces. Maybe just hire me a cleaning service for a month. I can’t speak for all mom bloggers, but I promise you that I, personally, will not be offended.
  8. More time. There’s never enough of it. By the time we take care of our children, try to keep our house under control, fix a few meals, possibly work or run errands (and also attempt to create a coherent post), it’s 12:10 a.m. and we still haven’t had time to finish putting away laundry, respond to 1/3 of our texts or finish any of the other 99 errands/tasks we have left to complete.
  9. To not have our greatest ideas come to us in the shower or at 1 a.m. At some point in my life, I’m going to need to sleep more than three hours a night, and as long as my creative juices flow at 1 a.m. and my children awake anywhere between 5 and 7 a.m., that’s not a possibility. If you want to offer babysitting services from the moment our children wake up until around 9 or 10 a.m., we’d be forever grateful. A waterproof iPad case and suction cup display for the shower would also suffice because shower time is about the only other time we get to think coherent thoughts by ourselves, and even that is hit or miss.
  10. An appreciation. So many times, I think we’re ashamed to tell people what we do because most people really don’t understand. They think we write some stuff and press publish, but the reality is–just like any profession–we put a lot of effort into what we do. The content is one thing, but there’s also the research that goes into the content, creating images, promotion, interactions, emails, tracking statistics, finances, design, HTML, SEO, website specifics, ads and the list goes on. We’re essentially running our own business, and although it may be much more plausible than a single person running a large company by themselves, it’s still quite an undertaking. Just taking the time to think about and recognize that is much appreciated.

Whether you’re a mom blogger or not, what do you really want for Christmas this year? Comment below and tell everyone about it!

Might I also add, drinking a cup of coffee while it’s actually still hot would be nice, too, but I’m willing to overlook that for any of the ten above.

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A Throwing Up Thanksgiving

A Throwing Up Thanksgiving

Does it sound disgusting? Good. Because it was.

This Thanksgiving I was thankful for pink, plastic trashcans, any sleep available and that whatever monstrous flu bug hit our family only lasted a few hours … each.

Starting the week of Thanksgiving, during my daughter’s birthday brunch, my one-year-old got sick. No big deal–he’s a baby and babies throw up all the time. It was probably that cupcake he ate earlier.

Later that night, we headed to my husband’s parents’ house, who happen to have two of their daughters with their husbands and between each other eight children staying with them.

The one-year-old gets sick again. All over grandpa.

We go home. Think next to nothing of it, because the baby’s acting find aside from his two episodes. The next night we take the kids over to grandpa and grandma’s again to hang out with family after a problem-free and happy day.

This time, our three-year-old throws up, all over grandpa, during Looney Tunes. Twice.

She comes home and spends the night next to our bed, throwing up into a pink, plastic trashcan.

Of course, the next morning, I’m sick and have to call into work. The pink, plastic trashcan is now my best friend, too.

The next victim is my husband, on the day before Thanksgiving, which is the day of a surprise date night that’s been planned for over a month. He sleeps all day and feels well enough to go out. Just barely.

On Thanksgiving, my husband’s HUGE family gathers. We here rumblings of others who may feel sick, and from Thanksgiving day to Saturday afternoon 3/4s of the entire family has thrown up.

You may not think this is a big deal, but take into consideration, there were around 50 people at the Thanksgiving gathering. That’s a lot of pink, plastic trashcans filled with puke.

So, in the spirit of giving, thank you, family, for sharing in this year’s Throw Up Thanksgiving. Here’s to hoping that next year we have a different theme.

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5 of My Favorite Mommy Gifts (Online Version)

5ofmyfavoritemommygifts

As we can all tell, after stuffing our faces full Thursday and stuffing our carts full Friday, Christmas is the next big thing we have to prep for. As I get older, my family gets larger and my life gets crazier, it’s a pretty big goal of mine to get done with shopping as early as possible, as easily as possible and as frugally as possible. It’s almost become a game to see how far in advance I can be completely ready for Christmas and to track how much money I can save in the process.

Gift giving is one of my favorite things to do because I love finding unique and personal gifts for people–holidays or not. So with that in mind and Black Friday out of the way, below is a list of a few of my favorite, unique gifts that you can, for the most part, only find online right now. Some of them are great for kids but help parents out, some are good for just parents and others are more for parents and kids to use together.Lolly + Pop

  1. Lolly + Pop. Adorable, hand-made leather bows (I might use some as bowties as well) for little ones. I love these because they’re leather, they’re simple yet elegant, and the color palette selection is gorgeous. In my experience, leather lasts longer–as far as children’s accessories or jewelry–and has a classy, unique look that you don’t find with just any material. The designer and creator for Lolly + Pop is a mom of two from NYC, who hand makes everything, which makes me love them all the more. For those who are interested for Christmas gifts or for themselves, Lolly + Pop has 40% off this Cyber Monday until midnight AND if you’re a reader of mine, feel free to use code “Homemade15” for 15% off. You really cannot beat that!
  2. Lose the Cape: Never Will I Ever (And Then I Had Kids). When I was little, I used to love reading Chicken Soup for the Soul books because they were a compilation of stories Lose the Cape - coverby real people that were relatable and made me feel warm and content. This is the same type of anthology, except for parents. Lose the Cape is full of great, funny and relatable stories from parents like you and me, and the perfect book to read while cuddling up with a blanket and warm drink throughout the winter season.
  3. Butler BootsI love these boots so much for our toddler because to me, they’re different than most boots. I can use them in rain or snow plus they slip on as boots by themselves or over other shoes because of a washable liner placed inside. This way, when my toddler’s wearing an outfit requiring shoes I IMG_6283don’t want to get wet or that don’t wear well in the snow, I can slip the boots over top and take them off when we get inside without having to hassle with sitting her down and changing her into completely different shoes. They come in several bright, fun colors–my favorite being pink and yellow.
  4. Fun Foodie Friends CookbookObviously, as parents, we have to cook on occasion. Okay, daily. Often, my children want to help, which slows me down and makes the evening Fun Foodie Friendsdinner/bedtime rush more hectic, but having a cookbook that’s both healthy and made for kids to join in on the cooking makes things much smoother, easier and helps my children learn about food and cooking while assisting with their own meals.
  5. Birchbox. This is a great way for moms (or dads) to sample and try new products across several categories–lifestyle, home & food, skincare, makeup, tools, games, etc. For most of us adults who don’t really find the time to spend on picking out new products or trying different brands, getting a monthly box of goodies is a great thing to look forward to (or a nice surprise if you forget about it like I do) and Birchbox, specifically, is a nice way to try several items before buying them to decide what works for you and what you actually like best.

On Cyber Monday, and especially once the madhouse shoppers hit in December, it’s just nice to sit back and order online. The difficulty I find when ordering online is pinpointing the gifts I think are still personal and unique while at the same time remaining well-priced with minimal–if any–shipping. This list hits all of those requirements for me; plus, all of these items either benefit me as a mother or myself and my children together. Hopefully, this list can help with your holiday gifting, as well!

#HE is pumped to be partnering with Fun Foodie Friends and Butler Boots for this post’s awesome gift list!

Wading Through Motherhood

Just BreatheMelissa Matters - Wading Through Motherhood

There are so many words bouncing around in my head that it’s difficult to begin. But I vow to always begin and strive to finish strong, because if there’s anything the past couple weeks have taught me, it’s that sometimes the very best of us are gone, suddenly, leaving behind our most beautiful families and friends, completely shattered. And because that’s so, living life to its absolute fullest should never fall by the wayside.

So, I’ll put my thoughts down for you to devour and understand, in a way that I hope makes you live life a little fuller.

Whoever says you can’t develop friendships via social media isn’t doing it right.

Those were some very true words (maybe not verbatim) spoken by a wonderful blogger I originally “met” on Periscope.

I’m generally not the type of person who immediately enjoys something the first time I stumble upon it–it took me three-fourths of my college career to like my now husband, most of my adult life to acquire a taste for red wine and generally several plays of a new song on the radio to really appreciate it–but Sarah from Ruffles and Rain Boots is just one those people that I really enjoyed and related to from the first time I listened to her on Periscope.

One of the most powerful topics she brought up, shortly after Melissa Matter’s from Wading Through Motherhood passed, was that of developing relationships on social media.

Although I never had a chance to meet Melissa in person and although my interactions with her were strictly online, it was still such a shock and sadness that came over the community of bloggers and mothers I’m a part of as we found out the news.

That feeling is real. There is no question. And because I had the opportunity to connect with Melissa through her blog and through her platforms, I am so, endlessly, thankful.

She was a beautiful, kind, intelligent and caring person. And her blog brought happiness, helpfulness and a much-needed, relatable and kind outlet to so many.

Live life to the absolute fullest.

Because you truly never know how much time you may have. Since Melissa’s passing, I’ve been kicking myself for all of the little things I complain about and take advantage of. It’s selfish of me to waste the life I have left when so many deserving, beautiful individuals, mothers and/or wives, like Melissa, no longer have that opportunity.

Although there’s no way to change what’s happened, I truly believe we should learn from Melissa’s words: wade out into life and take advantage of every single opportunity because today, we still have that ability. And I refuse to let that go to waste.

Wading Through Motherhood.

Melissa’s writing was so beautiful and relatable. I would highly suggest you take a minute to go read some of her posts. I’d just recently gotten to know her and began reading her blog over the past year, and when she passed, I went to her blog and read back through all the archives I hadn’t seen before. I’m so glad I did.

I want to leave you with one of my favorites. It was her first. It’s simple, it’s comforting and it’s just so encapsulating, appropriate and bittersweet:

When I was about 16, we took a family trip to Hawaii. In Waikiki, the water was warm and shallow; I felt as if I could wade for miles through the clear water. It was then that I cut my ankle on some coral reef. Now, in my mid-30s, I still have a few faint scars on my ankle. The scars are a reminder of the fun I had that day but also remind me that even wonderful things have their drawbacks.

Motherhood is often like wading through unknown waters. You don’t always know what lies beneath the surface, however you keep going. One day, the water may be clear and warm. Other days, it may be frigid and rough. And, sometimes, you may get hurt or even scarred from a bad parenting experience.

Living in Southern California, I’m often wading through the shallows at the beach. My daughter is getting older and venturing out further into the ocean. My toddler son, still timid,  likes to splash in the wet, muddy sand. I love experiencing all these firsts with them. As I “wade” through motherhood with my children by my side, I realize there will be highs with the lows, just like the rise and fall of the tides.

May Melissa continue to wade and watch over her children as they venture out further into the ocean of life.

For those looking to extend a helping hand, a GoFundMe page is available here.

To the family of Melissa Matters, I am so deeply sorry. She is a beautiful soul. Please, continue to wade. 

Broken Arms and Fire Alarms

Broken-Arms-and-Fire-Alarms

Yesterday was an interesting day for my family. And yes, it did include both a broken arm and several fire alarms.

It all started at work with a text from my husband.

Text

To which, of course, I immediately called him.

Our son’s been attempting to get out of his highchair for a while, and for the past week, my husband and I discussed finding the straps to his highchair … but never actually did it.

And it happened. Our almost 1.5-year-old got out of his highchair and tumbled onto the wood floor.

When I called my husband, I almost thought he was kidding. Like a sick, ‘oh, you should’ve gotten the highchair straps out sooner’ kind of a joke, but he wasn’t. O

Our son wasn’t crying much after the initial fall, so amazingly, neither myself nor my husband were panicked or overly worried. He was in and out of the doctor’s office in just a couple hours and came home with an adorable little cast on his arm.

You’d think that would be enough excitement for one 24-hour period, but you’d be wrong.

All was well in our house, both of the kids went to bed by 9pm and slept soundly. And even I, for the first time in three days, went to bed before 2am, and for the first time in weeks, fell asleep before 11pm.

I have an ongoing joke with myself and most moms–who often agree, except it’s not a joke. I’m being very literal when I say:

Every single time I go to bed early, it happens to be the one night an event occurs that keeps me up most of the night. Tweet: Every single time I go to bed early, it happens to be the one night an event occurs that keeps me up most of the night via @homemadeexp

So continues my unwavering roll of never sleeping more than 5 hours at a time.

Around midnight, our power went off. No big deal. That wasn’t going to stop me from sleeping. The event that was going to stop me from sleep occurred at 2am when the power came back on and all the interconnected fire alarms throughout the house went off, waking the ENTIRE family.

We got the fire alarm shut off, but not the children. Not until 4am at least.

So, as my husband and I finally settled back into bed, he said, “What a night” to which I replied, “Broken arms and fire alarms” and promptly laid awake another half an hour excited about what a perfect post title that will be…

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5 Things to Stop Saying About the Crying Baby

5-Things-to-Stop-Saying

We’ve all gone out to eat or gotten on an airplane to see an adorable smiling baby, and before kids, our thoughts are generally somewhere along the lines of wondering if or when the crying will set in.

And that’s fine. As parents who were once child-free, we get it, but children are a part of this thing we call life. You were once a baby for crying out loud–pun intended–and if you don’t have the ability to civilly endure a couple minutes of noise from a tiny human being, life may get rough.

So, in an effort to help us all deal with it better, here are 5 things to stop saying about the crying baby:

Someone’s not happy. No, really? I think we can tell–there’s no reason to be that person who awkwardly brings up obvious things for forced laughter from everyone in earshot.

Why won’t he just stop crying? Oh, I’m sorry. Are you having to do anything but sit there and endure a little bit of noise while someone else struggles to find the actual reason their baby won’t stop crying and fix it in a huge, embarrassed huff because of people who are judging them like you? No, so just sit tight and it’ll pass in probably two minutes or less.

I hate going ______ and hearing crying babies. Well, then, cut your ears off or stay home because over 50% of Americans have kids (including your parents) and chances are they’ll always be in existence, probably wherever you go. Unless it’s the library or a rager at 3am, stop complaining.

I can’t believe she’s just letting her baby cry. Yes, because there’s a way to stop her baby from crying but she decided to just let her baby do it anyway, constantly, in public, so everyone would stare and judge. No, actually, probably just specifically to ruin a couple minutes of your precious time.

I feel so bad for them. No, no, don’t feel bad! All any of us parents want is for everyone to pay zero attention–whether that be judgement or pity–and continue on with whatever they’re doing like nothing’s happening. Like being flustered and worried about who’s annoyed isn’t enough, we don’t need your ‘oh, poor you’ looks unless you want to come over and offer a helping hand or kind words.

We’re raising the next generation’s society, and we know they can be annoying. Trust me, WE KNOW. But the annoyance of cliché, overused comments from grown adults is preventable. Help us out. Come up with more creative ways to dis our crying babies. Or at least wait until you get home to complain!

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