The Flood of Emotion and the March on Washington

16114655_10210795092706159_1063478231159640766_n(Photo credit: Kirsten Nichols. The streets of D.C.)

I have been grappling with what happened yesterday, in our nation and all around the world. I am not an overly political person. In fact, I like to keep my political views to myself, however, this year it seemed very hard to talk about anything else. Many emotions flooded me. I felt saddened yet enthusiastic. I felt anxious yet full of hope. Crazy, I know. In all this emotion, I am finding the need to write it all down and try to understand it all myself.

The idea that saddens me the most about the march and rallies are the people who claim President Trump is not their president. That they have this idea that taking to the streets, peacefully or not, is somehow going to change the outcome of the election. We are a very divided nation today. We are a very divided world based on the events of yesterday. There were many who attended these events because they feel victimized, threatened, and needing to fight back. However, the majority of people I know who attended the rally and march were more about allowing President Trump to hear their voice in order to guide his presidency and first 100 days of office. That he is now the President of the people, all people, in the United States.

I recently read a FB post from a former colleague of mine who attended the march in D.C. and I finally found clarity. Scarlett Johansson spoke these words at the rally, “President Trump, I did not vote for you. That said, I respect that you are our President. I want to be able to support you. First, I ask that you support me. Support my sister. Support my mother. Support my best friend, and all of our girlfriends. Support the men and women here today that are anxiously awaiting to see how your next moves may drastically affect their lives.” When I read this, I felt less saddened and anxious about the march and more uplifted and enthusiastic that women, men, children, all over the world were just speaking out. They were not necessarily speaking out AGAINST President Trump but instead making their voices heard to say, “we are here. You have been chosen to work for us and with us. Respect is a two way street and we are ready to give it if you are ready to reciprocate.”

Yes, maybe I am naive in my thinking. Maybe I am holding on to this thought because if I think of it any other way, the idea that HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of people took to the streets yesterday to protest the President of the United States, who will be our President for the next 4 years at least, it would cause even greater anxiety and fear to what is to come. In pictures from friends, I saw a lot of signs with a be kind message. If his presidency does nothing else, maybe it will bring out the good in more of us and our nation. I am holding on to this, firmly!

16114626_10209073662374116_44411497671293680_n(photo credit: Katie Siviniski, A living constitution that she got to sign! 100 people carried it through the march.)

My hope today is that our new Commander in Chief understands his new, very powerful role; that he understands that he is a public servant to the people of the United States; that he understands that there are protocols and proper ways to go about creating change; that he will be the change our government needs to become a stronger, healthier, better version of ourselves because no matter who our president is, that should be our goal everyday!

 

 

Moms of Boys

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The day I found I was pregnant the first time, I could not contain my emotions. My dream was always to be a young wife and mother. I married at 23 and found out I was pregnant at 24. I was over the moon! We (meaning only me) wanted to be surprised as to what we were having. My husband was not thrilled about this, but I somehow convinced him and we waited all 9 months to find out we were having a beautiful girl. Throughout the pregnancy, I envisioned dresses, tutus, and bows. My husband was imagining football, cars, and trucks, but the second my oldest arrived, we were both wrapped around her little finger and I know my husband wouldn’t want it any other way (nor would I).

Fast forward a year and we found out we were pregnant again. We always wanted one girl and one boy. I always envisioned the boy coming first and being the protector of his little sister, but clearly our plans were already a little different than planned, but we still had the possibility of having one of each. While my husband refused to let us wait the whole pregnancy this time around, I made him wait until Christmas where we opened a gift with the outfit we were to take our baby home in come March. I would lie if I said I was hoping and praying for a boy. In reality, I was really pulling for a girl. I grew up with a sister and all I wanted for my little girl was to have that relationship growing up. I had no idea what a brother was like. We unwrapped the box in front of the camera rolling and pulled out the sweetest little boy’s outfit. BELIEVE ME when I say I was THRILLED, but the idea of a boy totally terrified me. I know girls. I am a girl. I don’t know boys.

Almost three years later, I still have no idea how to deal with boys. He is way more of a mystery to me than anything else in my life, but I have learned some valuable things in his short life that I want to share with every other mother of boys.

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YOU are his girl. If he gets hurt, you are the one he runs to. If he needs something, he relies completely on you. You will be his first kiss, his first hug, his first love. Every girl after you will be compared to you.

YOU are his role model to what women should be like and act like. It is OUR responsibility as mothers to act a certain way. This means being the role model to show that women treat themselves and other women with respect. If we respect and love ourselves, our bodies, and the other women in our lives, he will learn from that. He will learn from us on how to treat women in his future.

YOU must treat his dad or other male role models in his life with respect. I can dedicate a whole page to memes, shows, quotes, puns, etc. with how fathers are complete idiots and just another child in the house that the woman needs to care for. If we as mothers treat our husbands in that manner, what kind of message are we sending to our son. We must remember to show respect to his father so he grows up so he knows how he should be treated as well.

YOU are still (and always be) his girl. He will be the boy, the son, the man you teach him to be. He will always learn from you, even when you think he isn’t. The way we treat him, ourselves, and the people around us will forever be a lesson to him. We are his window into the world– of life, of women, or EVERYTHING. May we always been the beacon of light and knowledge that he needs!

My Top Quick and Easy Weekday Meals

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OK… It’s a Tuesday night and you are either just getting home from work or it’s approaching that time that everyone starts to turn …….. You realize you didn’t quite plan for dinner and you need to get something on the table before the family begins to riot. You think ordering food might be the easiest option, but in my own personal opinion, you end up waiting a long time and the rioting can get worse!

I thought, what could you all use that could benefit you this week the most. What better way than to set you up with some of my tried and true recipes that are SUPER quick and easy to throw together. Hopefully you have most of these ingredients at home, but if not, it’s only Saturday and you have time to stock up before the week gets away from you.

  1. Salsa Chicken
    • What you need: (There are no amounts as you can use as much or as little as needed)
      • Chicken Breasts
      • Jas of salsa
      • Taco seasoning (this is the one I make in batches and keep in my cabinet)
      • Mexican cheese
    • Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray. Pound the chicken (if necessary– the thinner the fast it cooks). Sprinkle taco seasoning on both sides of the chicken and place in a single layer. Spoon salsa on top of the chicken. Bake for about 20 minutes (or until fully cooked). Sprinkle with cheese and bake for another 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve over rice or noodles and pair with a simple salad.
  2. Stir-Fry
    • What you need:
      • Cut up chicken breast, pork, or beef
      • Stir-fry sauce (I like this one because it’s gluten-free)
      • Veggies for stir fry (I like to buy the bag of frozen stir-fry veggies to make life THAT. MUCH. EASIER)
    • Directions: If you have a WOK, pull it out and use it. If not, use a deep frying pan. Heat a little oil on medium heat. Throw in your cut up meat of choice with a little stir-fry sauce. Cook until desired doneness. Throw in frozen veggies and sauce to taste. Cook until everything is soft. Serve over rice. This is a great meal to bring to a new mom. It’s my go-to ‘meal train’ meal because it’s super easy and has everything you need in one dish.
  3. Honey Mustard Chicken Thighs
    • What you need:
      • Boneless, skinless chicken thighs (8-12)
      • 1/2 cup of Dijon mustard
      • 1/2 honey
      • 1/2 tablespoon onion powder
      • 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
      • 1/4 tablespoon salt
      • 1/2 teaspoon parsley
      • 1/2 teaspoon rosemary
      • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
    • Directions: Combine all the spices in a bowl. Poor 1.5-2 tablespoons into a zip-lock bag. Combine all other ingredients in the gallon resealable freezer bag. (Can be then placed in freezer to use at a later date.) Thaw completely. Preheat oven to 375°. Place in greased 9 x 13 baking pan; bake 50 minutes or until chicken reaches 165°. Makes about 6 servings. Tip: This recipe could also be make in your crockpot – cook on low 5-6 hours or until tender.

I hope you find these three recipes helpful in your meal planning for this week or in the future. What I love about these is that I usually have most of the ingredients on hand so even when I have lacked planning, I can whip these three meals up!

ENJOY!

Want to AVOID the stomach bug?!

 

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Raise your hand if the stomach bug has already reached your home. It has hit households across the nation (at least according to my Facebook newsfeed). The only GOOD thing is that it seems to be a quick turn around. I contracted it about 4 days before Christmas. The actual sickness lasted about 12 hours and a few days of watching what I ate (or just not being quite up to eating normally). A week later, my daughter contracted it. We were super lucky that we were with family with a household of people to step in and help and that we both started first thing in the morning and then feeling better by dinner. There were no late night episodes or lost sleep. The three other people in the house did not contract it, and it’s safe to say that if they do, it is not from us.

So if you are one of the lucky ones, let’s look at some ways to AVOID the stomach bug. Then, we will look at some great things to have on hand in case this nasty bug hits your home.

Ways to AVOID:

  • Grape juice. 100% NO SUGAR ADDED grape juice (or drop a few drops of Grapefruit Seed Extract in some water). Drink it immediately if you have someone near you with the stomach flu– BEFORE symptoms. If you are already showing symptoms, it will just create a more colorful scene later. The juice works by changing the pH level in your intestinal tract causing the virus to be unable to multiply. It is also full of Vitamin C and antioxidants to flush out and kill the virus. The rule seems to be: drink it 3 times a day for a few days and you should be in the clear.
  • Wash hands! An obvious step but one many of us probably forget to do. Not the hand sanitizer stuff either– real soap and water. That is your best defense. The CDC conducted a study back in 2011 that showed a staff that used hand sanitizer were six times more likely to contract the norovirus over their soap and water washing counterparts.
  • Stick anything used by the sick in the dishwasher and don’t hand wash utensils and plates. Let the appliances in your kitchen do the heavy hitting. (Now I know some don’t have this luxury, but if you do, put that dishwasher to use.)
  • Wash clothes at the highest setting possible. Clothes can harbor these germs for longer than we would like (the washing machine is somewhat the culprit) so wash anything that came in contact with vomit or stool at the HIGHEST temperature that you can.
  • Clean all those small surfaces- door handles, banisters, keyboards, iPads, phones, remotes. Anything that a germy hand can touch, wipe it down!
  • Open the windows. Even on the coldest days, you can crack open a window to allow the air to circulate around so it doesn’t sit stale in your house.

Get THROUGH the virus:

Maybe you didn’t quite get out of contracted the virus despite your best efforts. Even if you don’t have it, these are some great things to have on hand in case it does make it into your house.

  • THESE bags!! My dear friend Shannon over on Monday Morning Mischief referenced them in her blog. A little while later, after this post, she was very happy to have these on hand in the car as they were put to good use.
  • Disinfecting wipes! You can use the hospital grade wipes called Caviwipes. These are super DUPER aggressive. These are the ones that will kill the virus. If you are not quite ready for these, any wipes are better than nothing. There are a ton of options from Babyganics to Lysol, They just are not guaranteed to kill the virus.
  • If all else fails keep disposable gloves near you at all times to avoid spreading your germs.
  • And if you are suffering from a fever, grab these fever reducing strips for kids  or ones for adults to allow your body to use the fever to fight the virus but still giving you a little relief.

The stomach bug is NO joke. Do what you can to avoid it, but know you are also know you are in good company if you didn’t.

Why Preschool?

It’s that time of year again. Local MOMS Club chapters are gearing up for local Preschool Fairs. Registration papers are being sent to the printers. Questions are swirling around the mommy communities: play-based or academic-based? 2-days, 3-days, 4-days, or 5-days? 3-4hour programs or extended/enrichment programs?

These questions can make most parents fall to the floor in the fetal position. There are so many opinions out there and so many options, so what works best for you?  I will tell you right now that I am completed biased. I went to school for 4 years as an Early Childhood Education Major. I have wanted to be a preschool teacher for a long time. I have read article after article on the importance of the preschool years. I am writing today in hope that I can shed some light for anyone who has these questions taking over their sleep, while trying to keep my own personal views out of the way.

First, before I enlighten you on 11 years of being in the Early Childhood field, I want to urge you first to also do your own research. There are a lot of people out there who will supply you with their own opinion– and it is just that– an OPINION!

How can sending a child to preschool at 3 or 4 provide any benefit? So and so’s kid never went to preschool and he is now in honors classes in high school. Yes, there are a ton of kids who leap right into Kindergarten and succeed, however, what is their background? Did they stay at home with a very active parent? Did they attend daycare? Did their parents bring them to playdates or moms group meetings? Did they have any reason to listen to another adult during their first 5 years of life? These are huge factors.

Let’s explore some literature that explains the benefits of preschool:

Research provides solid support that preschool programs have a statistically significant effect on children’s performance on cognitive assessments of prereading and reading skills, prewriting and spelling skills, math reasoning, and problem-solving skills. Preschool programs have also found to benefit children from a diverse income community, including those who are eligible for free lunch to those who receive no lunch subsidies at all. (source)

Oklahoma is one of the few states who offer a preschool program to every 4-year old. They have tested 4-year olds and 5-year olds with nationally normed tests to examine a child’s skills in reading, writing, and math. For example, asking a child is they recognize a letter. They ask a child to draw a letter or shape. When given a picture, a child can count the number of a specific object they see. Through these nationalized normed tests, three groups of children were compared: those who were about to begin pre-K, those who had a year of pre-K, and those who have not attended a pre-K.  Oklahoma has seen a seven-month gain in prereading skills, a six-month gain in prewriting skills, and a four-month gain in permath skills. (source)

There are a ton of articles, studies, and stories how preschool benefits children. I can give you a quick, personal example, which doesn’t even describe the academic gains a child can have. My daughter, from day one, was always reserved. She preferred me over anyone else. She didn’t go to strangers (family members). When someone said “hi” to her in a store, she would immediately hide behind my legs (not the worst characteristic by the way). It took her days to get comfortable when visiting family members we didn’t see on a regular basis. This was just her personality. When preschool started, she CRIED! It broke my heart, but I knew she needed the time away from me to blossom. She cried every day at drop off well into October. We were EXTREMELY lucky to have two of the most amazing teachers anyone could ask for and they loved her and cared for her. For months, she would need to be with one of the teachers at all times. She was three. She went two days a week to school. I knew her personality. I expected this and I was okay with this. As the year progressed, her teachers would tell me how her little personality was coming out, slowly and quietly, but they saw it.

Fast forward to her second year of preschool. Her interactions with family members (the ones we see a few times a year) has made a complete 180. She will immediately go in and be polite and say hi. She warms up much quicker. When given a compliment our in public, she says “thank you” and allows a sweet smile or hi to the nice lady standing in line with us. She walked into school, on her first day, not having any friends from the previous year with a smile on her face and confidence in her step. Every teacher (and even the director) could not believe that was the same girl from the year before. Her personality that she has with me and her closest friends was with her.

While she is not one to speak out or be crazy, she is more herself than she was walking into preschool that VERY FIRST day. She will always be a little quieter. She will always be my cautious and more reserved child, but her personality and her confidence BLOSSOMED in those preschool walls. She was forced out of her comfort zone, was placed in a nurturing, loving environment, and she was allowed to learn and be who she was.

If preschool does nothing else for your child, it teaches them to be with their peers, without their parent over their shoulder monitoring and refereeing every moment. It gives them a chance to make choices independently. It provides them an opportunity to learn and be with other caring and loving adults. It is a place for them to grow as a person.

Yes, I know this last part was me rambling on about why I think preschool is important, there is plenty of literature provided for you to make your own conclusions. Don’t let me or anyone else give you simple an opinion of the benefits of preschool. Make your own educated decision.

As we go forward in January and February, may you find peace in your decision. If you choose preschool, I hope you find the absolute best school to fit your child’s needs. This is by no means an easy decision.