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Review + Giveaway: Stewie BOOM! And Princess Penelope: Snowflakes, Handprints and Playdates.

April is National Autism Awareness month and this month I really wanted to focus on being inclusive, and gaining more understanding and sensitivity with my earnest littles about Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Many children that have Autism can go undiagnosed for a long time and the spectrum is so broad that even a diagnosis is not the full answer. I wanted to be sure we learned that no matter the behavior we see, every child deserves a friend. I found this exact message in Stewie BOOM! and Princess Penelope: Snowflakes, Handprints and Playdates by Christine Bronstein.

This book highlights what it means to play with someone new, making friends, understanding differences and every character is completely relatable for adults and kids. Following the story there are some stellar tips on reaching out to new friends, being accepting of differences and starting a conversation about Autism with kids.

When asked what her inspiration was to write Stewie BOOM! And Princess Penelope: Snowflakes, Handprints and Playdates; Christine said:

It is a book I wish I had when my kids were younger.  One of my children had some special needs and I know how isolating it can be.  Too many families with children with ASD are struggling with isolation and bullying and these are two things that are actually solvable if we all work together to embrace these families and children into our communities.

This book speaks to me on so many levels and would be the perfect addition to any home or classroom library to help open dialogue on all of the points that Christine listed above.

GIVEAWAY: Want to win a book of your own?! Comment below if you have been or plan to be involved with Autism Awareness this month (or longer!!). Examples could be you did a community walk, changed your Facebook frame, bought cookies that will benefit the Autism society, or maybe simply talking to your children about what the spectrum is and how we can be more kind, outgoing and accepting. Please share your plans, ideas and activities below! Giveaway now CLOSED. The winner has been announced here in the comments and on earnest mom’s Instagram (@earnestmomblog), be sure to be following to find out if you have won!

x. earnest mom.

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Oh Boy!! From Two to Three…WOW.

As a mom of three now, life IS so different. People used to tell me that the biggest transition when having kids was going from 2 kids to 3. Well of course, I am one of the moms that have my own opinions until I experience it and it was TRUE!!  In all my life, going from two children to three has absolutely been one of the hardest transitions.  Earnest dad and I are officially outnumbered.

Our oldest, Earnest Boy 1.0 is in school Monday through Friday and that helps during the days, but he is 8 and needs his mama in ways completely different from the other two. Earnest Babe, she is now 3 and fill of energy, life, goldfish and lollies (they are vitamin C pops by YUMEARTH lol). We often struggle to find a happy medium between playing enough together as every 2 hours I am nursing, changing diapers and swaddling/rocking baby to sleep.  Of course, the Disney Dance Parties help satisfy her playfulness and gets mama a bit if cardio (Lord knows I could use more!).  The littlest, Earnest Boy 2.0 is well, a new wee babe and is awful demanding in the cutest ways!

Earnest Dad works two jobs so I can be home with the littles and so often when he is home, I am leaning on him 100% – in this life, I would be LOST without him.  Earnest Grammy (my MIL) recently moved across the street and what a help she has been in this crazy time of my motherhood journey.

A few weeks back all the demands took their toll and I found myself, after the older two were in bed, in tears.  I was exhausted, the house was a wreck, I had dry shampooed for about three days straight (mom talk for had not showered in 3 days), I am pretty sure we were all out of clean clothes and my fuel tank was empty. I remember Earnest Dad taking Earnest Boy 2.0, and telling me to go take a shower.   You better believe that night I left the conditioner in an extra 5 minutes.  In that shower, I had a huge wake up call; I was at the end of the 4th trimester, I was feeling more like a human again after giving birth but I had not been alone for more than 20 minutes in three months.  I needed me time.  I needed to take some time to “refuel” so I could be better for my family.  What good was I as a stay at home mom if I was completely depleted?

Earnest Reader, I tell you now – I know moms need to take care of themselves so they can take care of others, but as noted early on I am one who needs to experience it to “get it.”  And now, I get it!  That weekend, I went and got my hair done.  Honestly, something I had not done in a decade.  Typically, I would just run to the closest quick cut place when the necessity of a cut came and in the interim I would just cut my hair myself.  Getting out and doing something for just me, made me feel new again.  Like I had shed the old skin of: pregnancy, delivery and postpartum delirium; and emerged a new brilliant, fresh, revived creature.

Since then, I have taken the time when all are in bed to paint my nails, because I love how I feel when my nails are painted. When I have a quiet moment, I read which is a great favorite of mine.  I have also taken the opportunity to go out with a few mom friends here and there.  These have all been #momlife changing for me.  Pushing myself to take time for me, separate from the kids, and my husband and just focus on me has been incredible.

Yes, we still have crazy days where the kids are having what feels like screaming competitions or challenging each other to see who can tell me “no” the most.  We still have days where the  laundry sits unfolded until we have worn it all and are all out of clean clothes; or dishes that sit in the sink for a few days and I earnestly consider tossing the whole lot and buying all new sets, lol.  But those days do not seem so cumbersome or overwhelming with these intentional breaks that I am taking.  Helping me take care of me, helps me be a more earnest mom!  This is one time, for the first time in my life that I am being completely selfish and feel wonderful about it!

What advice do you moms have out there for spreading yourself evenly to reach all demands but avoid feeling like that clumpy peanut butter that just ends up ripping the bread apart?  Please share, whether you have one or nine, how do you make time for you?

x.  earnest mom

 

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“You’re a SAHM?! How lucky!”

“You are a stay at home mom? You are so lucky.”

More often than not when I am asked what I do for a living and I respond that I stay home with my kids, their response always has to do with how lucky I am. Lucky.  And more often than not, I smile and nod and agree with them, not to offend them by correcting their assumption.

Lucky to stay home with my children indicates that by some “good fortune” or “as luck would have it” I just fell into the magical role of being a stay at home mom. This could not be more wrong. Luck has nothing to do with our family’s decision to keep me home.  Truthfully, I really do feel blessed to stay home but luck has nothing to do with it.

When we were expecting our second child, looking at current childcare bills and our income level we knew that if I did go back after she was born, my whole paycheck would go towards childcare. I would be working so someone else could raise my children and every week I would just hand them my paycheck. Then there was the desire to be home with my little ones and be able to take care of them in our home with our own ideals and values.

There is nothing easy about this decision. The days are long, they are exhausting and they can be hard. Having a three month old, a three year old and a seven year old – the house gets pretty busy, pretty fast. Waking every two hours is exhausting, even though I had done it with the previous two, maybe because I have more kids to worry about during the day, and I am older now, it is tough.

Being on one income is also difficult, we do not vacation or have exotic trips, our house is not big or updated, our cars are regular old reliables and our kids do not have the best of the best because any more than what we have is simply not affordable. It can be tough, but it is a choice so I can be home, definitely not luck. That being said, I love our home, our family game nights and the memories we do make as we truly are blessed to have each other.

So, all you stay at home moms out there, I see you. I know there are rich rewards and many blessings that make the sacrifices worth it, but I also know that sacrifice is hard. I see you, I know that your situation did not come by simple luck but continues to be good because of your hard work. Hang in their mama, the days are long but the years are short. And do not let someone’s assumption of luck take away from all that work you do every single day (and night!!) without being asked, without pay and day after day without a break. You are seen, you are loved and these will be the “good ol’ days” that you will look back on. I am right here with ya!

x. em.

PS – working moms, I see you too. You are loved, you are just as cherished and you work just as hard. Mommin’ just aint easy, but we are all in this together. ❤️

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Baby is Expected in a Month?!

I remember being in my last month of pregnancy with my first two children, and it felt like eons had passed with many more to go!  This time around, I am all of a sudden into my 36th week of pregnancy and feel like I have NOTHING accomplished.  #momlife right?!

My current goal is baby bag, mommy bag and daddy bag for the hospital, and the birth plan (see my post last year about birth plans and how they changed my life here: Birth Plan).   I have been BLESSED this pregnancy to have a crazy supportive and helpful Doula who tasked me yesterday with resting and relaxing.  A much-needed task after surviving the weekend with my post-op hubby laid up in bed and two busy children running about the house!

Our third, and final pregnancy has been quite the whirlwind of emotions and life; I was diagnosed early on (after going to emergency with what I thought was a miscarriage) with a Subchorionic Hematoma, which has dissolved thank God, but had me on restricted activity for the first trimester and a half.  Then, I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes which so far is 100% diet controlled and looking great (again, thank God)!  Needless to say, on top of pregnancy conditions and all other stresses life sends our way, the time has just flown by.

As I think about this being my last pregnancy, I am savoring every jab and kick – even though I am convinced he is trying to push his way out any way he can!  I am cherishing the hiccups, the late night rolling with in me and all the movement that I feel with this little miracle growing inside me.  I feel so blessed that I am able to carry my third and will forever treasure all three of my pregnancies!

I will be posting my postpartum kit and the baby’s hospital bag as I build them this week!  Giving myself some accountability – of course unless this little man plans an early arrival ;).

Hope you have a great day and keep in your prayers all of those affected by hurricanes and earthquakes in the past few weeks!!

x.

em.

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An Earnest Summer!

This summer is FLYING by!  Sorry the posts have been sparse – we are enjoying the weather and this hot season.  We have been keeping busy with our local zoo, libraries, bowling and even took in a movie.  I have to admit, with a school-ager it is tough to keep the interest, allow some boredom, all without allowing the craziness to take the days over.

This summer, we decided on a different approach.   Instead of trying to do BIG things like travel or get out everyday, we made a weekly schedule.  A schedule easy enough to change if necessary but also help with the dreaded summer “brain drain” (we have a great article on these tips coming up next week by one of our moms in the Earnest Mom Squad).  We decided weekends would still be the break so we assigned regular activities for the weekdays.  Mondays we have a fun class on self regulation and practicing hand writing, Tuesdays our local library has a free special event that we attend, Wednesdays are backyard days, Thursdays are baking afternoons and par kour classes in the evenings, and Fridays are science experiments day.

Tuesdays, our local libraries have been great.  We have seen magic shows, balloon shows, local baseball teams, the traveling zoo and bouncing play times.  All free and it is fun to get out and let the kids play in a new space with new activities each week.  Wednesday’s backyard day is literally time playing in the yard – nothing too special and sometimes we fill up the kiddie pool.  We usually get out everyday, at least the kids do but this is a special time where we all go out together and I may garden or rest my swelling feet and the earnest littles get to run and play to their hearts content.  All before rest time of course to help the nap process along.

On Thursdays when Earnest Babe takes her two hour nap, Earnest Boy gets up from his 20 minute rest and him and I bake together.  The first week was GREAT, we baked this Starbucks Copy Cat Banana Bread recipe (from myfrugaladeventures.com) with the bananas that my children will not eat once they have freckled, we substituted chocolate chips for the walnuts and enjoyed it for four or five days.  It was delicious.  The second Thursday, we tried our hand at strawberry jam with the strawberries we picked earlier that morning.  We made this recipe from www.intimateweddings.com.  The whole process took a lot longer than we had thought but the result was yummy plus it did not use pectin, only sugar and lemon juice.  The last two weeks we had family in from out of town so we did not bake but today we are back in the swing of things with Organic Chocolate Chip Cookies.  We are using the classic Nestle Tollhouse Recipe (not my french aunt’s recipe for you Friends fans out there) and using all organic ingredients.  The baking day was created at the request of Earnest Boy, I was surprised he was interested in cooking but he is home with me all summer and I love baking and cooking.

Our Science Fridays have been so much fun!!  Once again, we wait until Earnest Babe is napping so we can focus on the experiments at hand.  Now before you get to thinking this Earnest Mom has crazy organization skills and creativity to plan and execute educational science experiments, hold on.  We decided to purchase a monthly subscription for the summer to The Spangler Science Club.  They send you 1-10 experiments a month that are focused on STEM and growing the curiosities of 7-14 year-olds.  So far we have grown polymers, experimented with the grown polymers, grown crystals and currently we are on a polymer alligator growth watch.  This post is not sponsored, we just are loving the Spangler Science Subscription and feel that you get a lot of bang for your buck no matter the price level subscription that is chosen.

This summer, I feel as though I am not feeling pressure any day or week to keep kids entertained – they know what to expect each day and we get excited for every activity we do together.  All days, the activity is not a full day event so we are able to spend free time together and time that is scheduled.  I feel a lot less stressed!!! Any earnest followers have some fun activities planned for their little or big ones this summer to keep the boredom and/or summer crazies to a low?  Please share.

x. earnest mom.

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Earnest Mom Squad Feature: Making Time for YOU

Here is a feature from our Earnest Mom Squad member, Kate.  This one is all about you, yes, you mama – we see you, tired, working hard, hustling everyday.  This feature contains some great tips on how to make time for you, which will help you have a better time with your family.  x. em.

When you have kids, making time for yourself is hard…how do you think of yourself when you’re kids need you 24/7? I always remind myself that in order for my kids to have me 100% I need me.  Even if that time is only 10 minutes of showering ALONE, or a bubble bath while my husband takes our son.  Sometimes I put our little man to bed, and as exhausted as I am wanting to sleep, I light some candles and draw a nice warm bath with my favorite country music.  Of course right next to the tub I have the video monitor, because lets face it as much as we say we want to unwind and step away we think about them constantly, what are they doing, are they sleeping, are they hungry, are they crying for me.

Then there are the nights that ME time is holding my son while I put him to sleep and instead of putting him in his crib right away I hold on tight for as long as I can. These cuddles to bed won’t last long so I will enjoy them as long as I can as much as I can.  My heart melts when my son knows it’s bedtime and he rests his head on my chest on his own and puts his arms around me, he doesn’t know but those are the moments I live for. In those moments, I flash back to every second with him, from his first cry, to the first time he rolled to when he learned to talk and say “momma” and “dadda.”  A lot of the time, my ‘me time’ is mostly with my son.  I am the person I am for my son it only makes sense for me to make my me time us time for as long as I can until the day he thinks spending time with his mommy isn’t cool anymore.

 

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An Earnest Postpartum Recovery Kit. 

Have a friend or family member who is due to give birth and looking for something to get her that will help in those first few weeks of recovery?  Try a PP Recovery Kit. 

Here is a gift I recently put together for a new mama in my neighborhood. 


Some essentials for a new mom those first few days: DIY padsicles because swelling and soreness are REAL. Soothing breast pad application and an all natural (non lanolin) nipple cream, because nursing may not always be easy. Water and some snacks because I know that I have NEVER experienced thirst and hunger like breastfeeding thirst and hunger.  Then add any other mommy pampering you think a new mom may like. Pop then into a basket or gift bag (I used a $3 wire waste basket from Target) and there you go! A great, useful and thoughtful gift to help any new mom get through recovery after delivery.  

Any other items you may add to a Postpartum Kit? Please comment below and let us know!

x. earnest mom.