Wardrobe Capsule Guide *GIVEAWAY*

GIVEAWAY!!!
Are you looking for ways to make your wardrobe easy and stylish?! I have a capsule wardrobe guide ($27 value) to giveaway from my dear friends at Apple and Pear Wardrobe Design! The goal of the capsule wardrobe is to make it easy for you to have better style. Capsule wardrobes save you time and money, and take away wardrobe stress each morning, with less $ than you ever thought possible. 35 pieces, over 100 outfits, all mapped out for you!!

Jennifer Mary spoke to my MOPS group recently and I love her simplicity and straightforwardness. I love that she made it clear that just because most of us were stay-at-home moms that there was no reason we couldn’t be put together. I have always been a mom who needs to be dressed and ready before my kids get up. Even in college, I never wore yoga pants or sweatpants to class. I believe in getting dressed, even if I was the only one seeing it.

I find that too many stay-at-home mom are stuck in this “I have no one to impress” mindset and that not only can damage one’s own psyche but can also feed into other areas (marriage, self-esteem, kids). Just by putting on real adult clothes and stepping out of the over priced, “feels like butta” leggings or yoga pants you are sporting and putting on a simple cotton black dress or jeans and a graphic tee can totally change your mindset and get you feeling more like a human than just a chauffeur, chef, maid to your family. These simple to assemble outfits will get you out the door in no time and really pick you up!

              

In order to enter the giveaway, you must head over to my FB page and:

1. LIKE Darling Chaos page; 2. Comment on THIS post; AND 3. SHARE the post.

Winner will be announced Sunday night at 8:30pm!

https://appleandpearwardrobe.leadpages.co/transform-your-wardrobe/

Bloglovin’

When I was first home from the hospital after having both baby number 1 and number 2, there are lots of hours in the day that you can’t do much else besides feed your baby. I found Bloglovin’. I found some amazing blogs to follow on there from parenting to cooking/baking, to healthier living. I’m now on there! I would love for you to follow me and while you are on there, find some other amazing blogs to follow!

<a href=”https://www.bloglovin.com/blog/18777343/?claim=urxvwk3e7hm”>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

Potty Train in 24 Hours?!

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You probably clicked on this post because of the amazing title, right?! So we are in the middle of potty training the second child. It’s also our first experience with a boy. I have read EVERY 3-day training guide that is out there. I’ve asked for tips and tricks from other moms. I have had dreams about Toy Story and Mickey undies and lots and lots of laundry. Then we started!! I was ready. I was amped! I was going to get my son potty trained in 3 days, if not less!! And…… it failed.

So while there are a ton of moms out there who are claiming the 3-day potty training guide works, it did not for us. OK— so I will also admit that I was not FULLY committed. I was not ready to throw away ALL diapers/pull ups in the name of my sanity. Rest time and bed time were non-negotiable times of the day that we used these. Being a military wife and dealing with potty training with a boy on my own, I wanted to keep my limited sanity of not cleaning sheets twice a day (or more) and I’m pretty sure my washing machine is also singing my praises and thanking me for this decision. I can ONLY handle so much bodily fluid in one day. Between dog walks, a 4 year old daughter who still needs some bathroom help, and a potty training 2 year old, I had to set limits!

So, why the post, you ask?! While the 3-day method didn’t work, I have found some success. Are we fully potty trained yet? No, but we are well on our way. He turns 3 next week and I would love to be over the hump before then. So I am going to share what I have done and maybe it will help someone else in the wide world of the internet!

Is your child ready?

This always seems to be the first step. I was told by lots of people that I will know when he is ready to start potty training. Even my daughter, at 18 months, started to show interest in the potty without any attempt from me, so why wouldn’t my second? We had only one indication. It was much like a war zone. He would find a hiding place, set up camp, keep a look out, and defend his territory if we began to advance. All so he could poop in “private.” OK– this MUST be the indication he is ready, so I followed the books and pumped him with water, juice, milk– whatever liquid I could entice him with and placed him on the potty every 15 minutes. HUGE MISTAKE.

Feeling the pressure

He began to feel the pressure of being put on the potty every 15 minutes. I mean, I was totally cool, calm, and collected. I couldn’t imagine why he didn’t want to go on the potty through my screams and cries of pee on the floor that I had to mop up for the 20th time that day, all happening 30 seconds after he screamed to get off the potty because he was done. He clearly wasn’t ready. I clearly wasn’t ready.

Bring in reinforcements

If you have a spouse at home to help, FANTASTIC!!! They can be the one who leaves the house and worries about the grocery shopping or the errand running or the chauffeuring the other kid(s). OR you make sure you are all on the same plan and it allows YOU to sneak away for a short period of time. This step is HUGE. I had my parents in town for a weekend and it was the perfect time to introduce the “no diaper while we are awake” concept. I was able to still run to the store or make sure my poor 4 year old wasn’t house bound for 3 days because her brother was being potty trained. My parents were on the same page as me and it allowed me to always have one adult at home with him so we weren’t tempting fate. Then they went back home and I fell apart. More because I can’t be house bound for a week. My oldest has preschool; I work in the afternoons; we have babysitters. It wasn’t practical and all that progress went right out the window because I immediately reverted back to pull-ups.

The last straw

I’m anxious for my boy to be ready for camps this summer and school in the fall. The whole being diaper free is just icing on the cake. We are back to the idea of wearing undies at all times when we are in our house (minus rest/bed time). We have had HUGE success this time around. I’m keeping the pressure low and the enthusiasm high. He gets 2 M&Ms for each time he pees. He especially loves yellow ones, so this is our incentive. It doesn’t work every time, but it works enough. Wearing his favorite characters is also a pretty big incentive… although having Mickey on the pull-up sort of defeats this incentive some days. When we make some ground on the #2, I will update this post. Until then, feel free to share your best potty training tips— for boys or girls or if you can provide us with a good laugh with an experience, I would love to hear it!

To all the mamas potty training, may the force and the Clorox wipes be with you!

When a village doesn’t feel like a village

We are in a unique world. Sitting with some friends this week, we had a very interesting conversation about where our expectation of being a “perfect” mom comes from and what we think a perfect mom does. My two cents was that we see the “perfect” moments people photographer-16022_1920share on Facebook. You know- the picture of the perfectly dressed kid making the most perfect bubble with the most perfect smile with the most perfect caption of being a perfect day with their perfect child and everyone is happy and healthy and perfect. You know those pictures? Except we don’t see the tantrum right after the picture was taken, a perfect bubble solution puddle developed and the wand and bottle were thrown in a tantrum or the mess of a mom on the other side of the camera. We don’t see the other kid swing upside down from the front steps throwing rocks and sticks. (OK– maybe this is just at my house?!)

So I find that we need a village to talk to, vent to, bounce ideas off of, but it’s hard to come by. We don’t live in the times of all stay at home moms who are doing their laundry together while their kids play in unison somewhere in the neighborhood. We don’t live during the times of one big casserole feeding a family of 8 and everyone is sitting down at the table at 6pm sharp. We live in a world of trying to buy the most perfect, organic, non-GMO food, preparing the best gourmet meals no kid  anyone would eat, while washing our clothes in the most environmentally stable detergent, and signing our kids up for all the top activities in town and we barely get a sit down dinner.

Our villages have turned virtual because that is the world we live in. So what’s the problem?! The problem is that people monitor and make rules to these virtual villages. By sharing a personal blog post, it’s look upon as “selling one’s ideas” and that topics need to be shared that are interesting to everyone. A village isn’t about what is convenient, happy, and perfect all the time, that’s why we need it. It’s about brainstorming ideas or thoughts around with others, venting when things get hard, looking for support when support is needed.

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I’ve decided this week (after my last post) that I don’t want to be a “perfect” mom. I want to be a mom who supports my kids’ ideas and emotions. I want to be the mom who other moms can come to knowing there is no judgement. I want to be the mom that embraces all parenting styles, regardless if it’s my own parenting style or not. I want to be the mom that when people stop to think about who they can trust, rely on, bounce ideas off of, vent to, that I come to mind. I want to be the mom that someone can drop by for a cup of coffee, tea, or wine and know it’s a safe place. I’m not saying I’m perfect. I’m not saying I have this parenting thing down, but I can confidently say that I will always do my best to be the most inclusive as I can possibly be. I can confidently say that even if I don’t agree with a decision you make, I will never make you feel judged or wrong just because I don’t agree. I can confidently say that I will do my absolute best to be the role model I want my daughter to have so she can continue in this light one day when she becomes a mom. I want to be a mom who NEEDS a village and is part of a village.

Let’s go forth, supporting each other in a true, real way! KEEP GOING, MAMA! You are a strong, amazing, wonderful mom and we are here to support you 100%!

 

I decided NOT to give up something for Lent

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It’s that time of year, where many people are giving up chocolate, coffee, swearing, whatever it is they choose to give up for a 40 day period called Lent. I remember growing up and the biggest “sacrifice” for most of my school aged friends was chocolate. I never seemed to have the will-power to give it up for the whole 40 days and eventually I stopped trying.

In my wise old age, I have decided to return to this Lenten ritual, but doing something a little differently. Yesterday, I was chatting with some of my MOPS friends at our meeting and I was saying that I decided to not necessarily “give up” something but to do something which will cause me to give up something. I always look to Lent as my second chance– my second chance to recommit myself to that New Year’s resolution I have already put on the back burner.

I’m running a lot of things through my head and this is where I’m at:

  • Saying “yes” to my kids. This means putting the dishes on hold or that tedious thing I need to do to play 15 minutes with my kids because they are asking me to or giving in once in a while to that random request like eating ice cream for breakfast.
  • Before I react to something my kids are doing that is driving me crazy, counting to 10 to refocus myself.
  • Waking up 20 minutes earlier to get in a quick workout or to start my day off with some quiet meditation.
  • Putting a REAL timer on electronic use in our house.
  • Taking 15 minutes to either read the Bible or do the rosary.

I’m hoping I can commit to one or more of these and hopefully become a better mom, wife, friend, daughter and to take away some of my shortfalls. What will you be committing yourself to for the next 40 days?

Teaching when to call 9-1-1

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One morning as I was tip-toeing through the gate at the top of the stairs to avoid waking my little cherubs up, my little fluffy cherub zoomed by me almost knocking me down. That quick flash of panic led me to realize that if anything happened to this stay at home mom, whose husband goes to work before the kiddos wake up and doesn’t come back home until dinner time, would anyone know how to get help? That was the moment I realized I need to teach my 4-year old how to call 9-1-1 and what 9-1-1 is.

When she came down for breakfast that morning, I had a sparkle in my eye that I was going to teach her the most wonderful thing ever. I was full of excitement (and slight fear) that I even thought to do this (however, I’m pretty sure I am way behind on this lesson), but I was ready.

The whole process seemed to go pretty smoothly. So I figured I would share what I did:

That Talk

ambulance-1318437We talked about how sometimes we need help when we get hurt (a conversation we’ve been having for quite some time due to not LOVING doctor visits in the past). I told my daughter that sometimes we need to call a “doctor” to our house if someone gets hurt so they can help us. Topics we chatted about were how police officers and firefighters help us stay safe and need to come to us sometimes to continue to keep us safe. They are not someone to be afraid of but know we can trust them. (It also helps that we have visited both places and met with firefighters and police officers, providing goodies and getting private tours in return.)

The Dial

First, it’s important for your child to know their numbers to make the process a little easier. I went through the steps of how to call 9-1-1 from our phone. Because we only have cordless phones, I taught her to dial the numbers, then push talk. I did it a few times (pressing 911, but not pressing talk), and she did it a few times on her own. It was during this time I made it clear that we don’t just call 911 for anything, but it is for times that mommy is really hurt and cannot talk to her due to being hurt.

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After we practiced the dialing, we role played. I pretended to be the other person on the phone if she was to call 911. We talked through important things for her to say. We talked about how they can only help if we talk to them and give them information. I’m still working on her knowing our address, which is key information, but hoping that if she is calling from a landline, they can hopefully figure out where we are.

Practice

We talked about it for a few days to really ensure that she remembered. Then after a few days of not talking about it, I “quizzed” her in the car on the way to school. I will continue to do this for a while until I feel confident it’s something that she just knows.

Real Life

I unfortunately had to call 911 for the first time in my life this week due to what I thought was my son having problems breathing, but turned out it was croup. I never had to press fire-engine-376780those buttons myself before and talk to an operator, but in a way, I am glad the experience happened because then I was able to explain to my daughter that this is what happens
when 911 is called. We had two ambulances and 1 firetruck outside our house. We had about 7 firefighters in our small townhouse at one point. Lights were flashing and neighbors left their houses at 5am to check on us. This was a perfect opportunity to talk about why we only call when we absolutely NEED it and think there is no other help for us.

If you have some any other tips to share, please feel free to fill the comments!! It’s hard when the kids can’t truly practice, but with our help, hopefully we can teach them the basics so IF ever needed, they can handle it.

No Sick Days for Mom

Yes, I have been completely MIA for a while. One kid went down with the stomach bug. One kid came down with a small virus. I came down with the same virus, plus a little extra. What is the absolute worst is that there is no room for moms to get sick. There is also being a little under the weather and dealing with a cold and then there is also being stuck on the couch with a fever and not being able to move.

Here’s what I learned quickly these last two weeks— 1. I needed help, 2. I need a good soup in my repertoire, 3. it’s OK to lay on the couch dying while my kids watch TV for more than 24 hours.

I needed help.

Yes, I needed to call on some of my dearest friends to help. With husband away, I could barely get off the couch and I had to call upon a friend to help bring my kids to school and to take them for a few hours while I rested. It was not an easy thing to ask, but she was so gracious and offered way more than I needed. That is what a true friend does, they don’t ask what you need, they just do. As a mom and woman, we have a hard time asking for help, even when someone says, “What can I do?” Our answer is always, “nothing. I am fine.” when really we aren’t. This friend took it upon herself to take my youngest out and about and it was the best gift anyone could do for me.

Good soup

I was blessed to have two friends bring over some of the most delicious soup I have had in a long time, especially since I’m not a big soup eater. I was even able to repeat one of the recipes and send it off to another friend of mine during a time she needed a little help. Let me share this amazing recipe with you:

  • 1lb chicken thighs
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup colored baby carrots
  • 20 minutes in the instant pot and then add 1 cup of cooked jasmine rice. Add salt and pepper to taste.

I was also given Tastefully Simple’s Creamy Wild Rice soup which was DELICIOUS with a little added chicken!

It’s OK to lack in the mom department

My kids have been on a TV binge for a few days. They played a little on their own, they both went off to school and gym class, but mostly while they are home, they are sitting in front of the TV watching Disney Junior, and you know what, I’m OK with it. I have a voice that barely works, a throat that is killing me, and a fever that won’t seem to vanish so whatever it takes for them to sit quietly and be good, I was all for it.

Sometimes we have to remember we can’t be super mom– maybe some of you can, but I certainly cannot. I very much needed the help provided me and I cannot be more grateful to have a support system that I have. I have learned from those who cared for me and hope to return the favor to them when I can. While that is not what friendship is about (one act for another), when we care about our friends, we do what we need to to help them out and I’m so blessed to have people who wanted and did help me so I can get back to being Super MOM status.

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Who is your priority?

Sex. It tends to be the topic of a lot of fights between couples and a hot topic of conversation among friends. It’s a taboo topic to some and an every day conversation for others. It takes over magazine covers and news headlines, yet is still an uncomfortable thing to talk about. So why am I bringing it up?!

This last week, something showed up on my newsfeed. It was this commercial:

The comments, for the most part, were upset that a baby food company had the gall to make this commercial. I personally think the commercial is a little bit awkward, but what an important message it is sending.

I’ll be the first to admit that I put my husband second (then third) when kids entered our lives. I had a hard time finding the time and energy to go out for date night, let along find the time to catch up on our favorite shows. I was falling asleep early (and I was already an early sleeper). I was in denial for a lot of it– I knew in the back of my mind our relationship wasn’t coming first but I had my arsenal of excuses. I didn’t like the idea of leaving my kids with a sitter and we waited for family to be in town or for us to be visiting family to go out. Our nights were full of eyes closing early and us barely even getting a conversation in.

Moms were adamantly against this commercial because they felt that they were being told to have sex or being guilted into being intimate with their partner despite the fact they were exhausted. Some other comments echoed what was going on in my head— if you wait until you aren’t exhausted, you will see your partner in about 25 years after having your last child. And TRUST me when I say I am not an expert on this topic, but I think sometimes you need something this blunt to get a message across.

Plum Organics is talking about a much bigger topic– making your partner a priority. It was so easy for me to complain about being tired or being on constant demand of little hands all day long that by the end of the day, I was ready to sit alone in my own little corner of the couch and relax or fall asleep as I saw fit. I loved my husband tremendously during those times, but I’m sure it didn’t seem like it.

I promise you, your kids will still feel loved even if you go out every so often with your significant other. If nothing else, they will love you more because you are showing them that a family is not about catering to one person (or two or three little persons) but is about making time for everyone; putting forth an effort to love and show that love.

Plum Organics focused on sex in this commercial, but making your significant other a priority goes FAR BEYOND the bedroom. It’s actually not really about sex at all, but they were going extreme to drive home the issue. If you head to their website, you will see they want you to pledge: “To grant myself the permission to make my relationship and myself a priority. Not just for fun, but also for the good of my family.” Remember, you can’t care for your family unless you take care of yourself. Take care of yourself, take care of your partner, and together you can take care of the family.

Ways to them they are still a priority:

  • Put the phone away when you are both home from work and look each other in the eye and have a quick conversation about your day.holding-hands-1031665
  • Share a small snack or dessert.
  • Write a “thinking of you” note and stick it in their briefcase, bag, or lunch.
  • Write a “thinking of you” email during the day.
  • Bring home their favorite treat.
  • Let them have the last piece of pie (or piece of cake or cookie or scoop of ice cream).
  • Grab their hand.
  • Send a wink emoji or a kiss face text.
  • Go out for coffee.
  • Put kids to bed, make a favorite drink (wine, hot chocolate, frozen concoction- whatever tickles your fancy), and watch a movie.
  • Flip through your wedding album together or old pictures of yourselves.

Just find small ways to show them you are still thinking of them, love them, and they are still a priority in your life.

**I am in no way affiliated with Plum Organics. I was not approached by them or being sponsored by them. This is my own opinion and my own view on the topic, commercial, and pledge.**

 

School Registration Anxieties

It’s the beginning of February and everywhere on the mom FB pages I follow, there are anxious moms wondering what to do with their kids next year. I never knew Kindergarten was such a hot topic until I became a mom. I was even a kindergarten teacher in my past life, and still didn’t know the turmoil so many parents go through. As a person with an April birthday, the school year came with no question as to when I would start. I am lucky to also have two spring babies and essentially the decision is made for me. I do not envy any parent who has a summer birthday child, especially the child they aren’t completely confident in whether they are sending their child forward to kindergarten or working with one more year of pre-K.classroom-658002

How do you know if your child is ready for kindergarten?! I feel like I have some insider knowledge since being an Early Childhood Educator and a former kindergarten teacher. Just be aware that this is by no means a one-size-fits-all scenario and when it comes down to it, you as the parent have to make the decision that is best for you and your child.

Social and emotional ready for Kindergarten:

  • Your child can easily get along with others (peers as well as other adults)
  • Demonstrates self-help skills (gets dressed, uses the potty on their own, washes hands)
  • Separates from parent with little to no issue

Expressive and receptive language:

  • Speaks mostly in full sentences
  • Understands and follows at least 2-step directions (example: go to your room and get your book)
  • Talks about a story (making simple predictions and comments about what is being read

Phonetic awareness and print knowledge:alphabet-40515

  • Recognizes his/her own name in print
  • Identifies the letters in his/her name
  • Attempts to write letters in his/her name
  • Demonstrates book awareness (cover and back of book, works left to right, notices print on the page
  • Identifies two rhyming words
  • Identifies words that begin with the same letter
  • Recites the alphabet and can identify at least 10 letters

Mathematic readiness:

  • Able to count to 10 verbally
  • Show understanding of one-to-one correspondence (example: counting ducks on a page, pointing to each duck as they count)
  • Identifies basic shapes (circle, triangle, square)
  • Attempts to draw basic shapes
  • Identifies colors

Physical Development:

  • crayons-1445053_1920Demonstrates gross motor skills (hops, jumps, runs, catches and throws ball)
  • Uses a variety of drawing and writing tools with control and intent
  • Uses child-sized scissors with control and intent

 

Education.com has some great ideas on how to build these skills with your child, whether they are ready to head to kindergarten or not. No matter what your child is capable or not capable of doing, the decision is ultimately yours. Some people might tell you if you wait to send them, you will blame yourself for anytime they are bored in class. If you send them ahead, you will blame yourself for anytime they struggle. The best thing to do is look at your child as a whole, talk with their preschool teacher and other adults in their life, and just listen to your gut. It knows way more than anything else!

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!