Rate My Park – Summer Series Part 2

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An Earnest Experience in Erie County Pennsylvania

All summer long, Fridays will be designated to exploring parks in Erie County PA and rating them!  The Earnest Littles and I are having a blast park hopping and seeing what is out there!  Each post will give a final rating out of 10 for the overall park and then we will break down the categories.  For each park we are looking at equipment, cleanliness, bathroom options, parent spots and picnic facilities.

Please note, the opinions given in this post/rating are our opinions alone and do not speak for the parks, the townships or anyone else.  Our intent is to give a glimpse of our experience and how much we, as a family liked the park.

Greene Township Playground, 9333 Tate Road, Erie PA 16509

Overall Rating 9.75/10.  Wow!! This playground is amazing.  The play structures are huge and numerous, there is a side designed for children 5-12 years old, and 3-5 years old – perfect for our kiddos who range from 4-12 years – and it was mainly all fenced in.  There was so much to do we felt like if we left too soon, we would miss out on all the fun.  The running, laughter and joyous screams were aplenty as many families had made use of this incredible playground while we were there.  There is a massive amount of green space offering gorgeous panoramic views of baseball diamonds, football fields and what appears to be wooded/forested areas.  There is also the Paradise trail that is a ½ mile paved path which goes out to the vast green space behind the playground.  This park we HIGHLY recommend, if you go to any parks this summer, make sure you make it here!

Equipment:  The playground is massive.  I am not sure that I can fully describe it and ensure I have included all the adventure that is available.  On the 5–12-year-old side there is a massive climb structure/climber complete with a walking bridge (that lead to another climber that resembled a gazebo/playhouse), wall climbing, monkey bars, four slides (large covered twirling slide that what the height of the structure, one small one at the first level; and three slides side by side about halfway up the structure, that offered different textures/shapes for sliding experiences).  This is where we lose the 0.25 in the rating, the three slides are bumpy and all three of my kids said they did not enjoy 2/3 slides that are side by side since the ride down was slightly rough.  The ground cover on this side was wooden mulch/wood chips.  The swings were plentiful with six belt swings, one large swinging saucer and an inclusive swing on the 12-5-year-old side, then there were three bucket swings including one that was a parent-child swing on the 3–5-year-old side.

The 3-5-year-old side had a mini merry-go-round, and numerous play/climbing structures that resembled playhouses, a boat (which has an appropriately sized slide), a tractor, and a train.  There was so much to keep little feet busy and to discover from a percussion stand to large displays of braille letters (lower and upper case) and numbers.  The ground cover on this side was the manufactured rubber intact flooring (not the rubber pieces). 

All in all – this park was fully enjoyed from the 4-year-old to the 12-year-old.  In the picture of them, my 7-year-old gave a sideways thumb for the rough slide experience.

Cleanliness:  The park was very clean, there are plenty of trash cans located all over the park that allows for easy access and helps to keep it clean.  The equipment itself is kept up well, with natural wear from use it was pleasantly clean as well.

Bathrooms:  There is a decent bathroom building available for use (it was open when we were at the park).  It was fully stocked with toilet paper and soap at the sinks.  They appear to have at least two toilets per restroom (Men’s or Women’s) both equipped with a handicap option.  However, we did not see a change table option for itty bitty ones.

Parent Spots: There are numerous of benches located right by the playground, a few even had shade from some nearby trees.  The benches were located all around the playground equipment as well, lots of options – some had natural tree shade and on the 3–5-year-old side, there were benches with pergolas above them.

Picnic Facilities: Two large pavilions (one was smaller) with many wooden picnic tables fully.

Stay tuned for our next review.  Live in Erie County?  Have you been to this park?  What are your thoughts?

How We Plan Our Summer as a Homeschool Family

Anyone else hit summer and look for ways to have some structure but not over-structure? Me. I am anyone else. Homeschool ends, and then I feel overwhelmed – “What do I do for summer?!” I want my children to feel like they are more relaxed, and to be able to differentiate from homeschool. We will not do any formal full lessons and I will give them time to be bored because boredom is not a bad thing. I do not want the summer to pass and also feel like we have done nothing.

I have three children, 12, 7 and 4. I included them in the planning and set specific goals for each day. Now these goals will not rule our whole schedule as vacations, summer camps and other events will definitely happen but we will have a loose plan for each day. I am not sure about you but by breakfast each day my kids are asking “what are we doing today?” and they are typically not satisfied with “nothing.”

Here is what our summer schedule looks like for the months of July and August. Mondays are zoo mornings (we get a membership to the local one each year), Tuesdays are pool afternoons (we have a small pop up one otherwise it would be dedicated water play outside). Wednesdays are mornings the the museum (again we have a membership to the local children’s museum but we will also explore our other museums as well). Thursdays we will visit the library and a park nearby hosts picnics in the park with family entertainment for free. Fridays are our adventure day, we will be checking a new local park or two (we will also blog and rate our experience for those local to Erie County Pennsylvania).

Using the Notability app on my iPhone I created these fun color coded calendars (I also use similar ones for our homeschool year), I then took advantage of the $0.99 magnet deal on the Shutterfly app to create magnets as a reminder for the fridge.

This helps us have an intentional and focused summer not being limited by what we plan, but if we feel like we have nothing to do it helps to have a plan already! Let me know your tricks to keep summer fun and easy for your kiddos.

x. earnest mom

Rate My Park – Summer Series

An Earnest Experience in Erie County Pennsylvania

All summer long, Fridays will be designated to exploring parks in Erie County PA and rating them!  The Earnest Littles and I are having a blast park hopping and seeing what is out there!  Each post will give a final rating out of 10 for the overall park and then we will break down the categories.  For each park we are looking at equipment, cleanliness, bathroom options, parent spots and picnic facilities.

Please note, the opinions given in this post/rating are our opinions alone and do not speak for the parks, the townships or anyone else.  Our intent is to give a glimpse of our experience and how much we, as a family liked the park.

McKean Community Recreational Park, 8798 Main St, McKean PA 16426

Overall Rating 8/10.  This park is large, it has a nice sized parking lot, baseball diamonds, other large sporting fields and a walking track.  It is a lovely, open green space with a nice breeze and a lovely Veteran Memorial.  All in all, we really liked this park, while we were there the kids were quick to make friends with a family who frequents, and they were so kind to invite us back to play.  We recommend checking out this park for some free fun in Erie County PA this summer!

Equipment:  The playground has a decent size climber complete with three slides, monkey bars, a crawl tube, bridge, a sliding pole and fun climbing options.  The ground cover appears to be older mulch so there was a complaint from the seven-year-old (and contributed to her rating of one thumb up and one thumb down) that she kept getting dirt in her crocs.  There is a swing section that has both belt swings and full bucket baby swings.  Ground cover also appeared to be older wooden mulch. The equipment is slightly dated in our opinion, but that did not stop is from being a fun place to play.

Cleanliness:  The park was very clean.  There was a little bit of litter from recent visitors who left their trash Juice boxes and napkins) after it got blown away from them, however there are plenty of trash cans located all over the park that allows for easy access and helps to keep it clean.  The equipment itself is kept up well, with natural wear from use it was pleasantly clean as well.

Bathrooms:  There is a decent bathroom building available for use (it was open when we were at the park).  It was fully stocked with toilet paper and soap at the sinks.  They appear to have at least two toilets per restroom (Men’s or Women’s) both equipped with a handicap option. 

Parent Spots: There are PLENTY of benches located right by the playground, a few even had shade from some nearby trees.  The benches were located all around the playground equipment as well, lots of options!

Picnic Facilities: There are so many picnic options here.  Two large pavilions (one with kitchen facilities and a ton of seating) with many wooden picnic tables fully shaded and had grills (both decently close enough to the playground) and one small one that has one wooden picnic table with handicap access.

Stay tuned for our next review.  Live in Erie County?  Have you been to this park?  What are your thoughts?

I Am THAT Mom.

I am also human, and working on myself one step at a time.

As I prepare to write this, I earnestly feel gutted. Today, I was THAT mom. The mom that I have seen a million times; trying to keep it together as she can feel the entire façade of “everything is perfect” start to crumble and slip away. At first it was hard, but as I realized that I am human I was forced to give myself some grace.

Let’s set the stage for you. Thunderstorms kept us indoors. So movie and popcorn it is, until the popcorn maker got knocked over spilling popcorn every where and cracking the side panel. It was an accident, stay chill mama – accidents happen and its just a popcorn machine. Then children kept climbing the counter, literally I was taking children down from the countertops. Things started to calm until the hall closet upstairs was completely dissected from its contents while I was cleaning the popcorn machine. By then, the window to prepare dinner was closed, my oldest needed to go to karate and this mama was waving her white flag. It was enough.

My vehicle was parked across the street at my mother in laws and since my youngest two usually refuse pants and shoes, I needed to move the car to my driveway to save them from crossing the street shoeless (I have learned to pick my battles, shoes make it to the car in case they’re needed but I do not fight them on – in these cases I prefer peace to the fight). I called all three to the kitchen and said “get your shoes ready and stay RIGHT HERE, I am bring the car over.” They get busy putting their shoes on and I hot footed it across the street. All of the sudden, as I open the driver door there is my middle little. She startled me, then I realized she had ran across the street unassisted and that her 3 year old brother is likely right behind her. In my fear, my frustration I yelled at her. Ouch, it hurts my heart to even write that as I have been really working on my volume and tone with my children, but I was scared. Scared she could have been hurt, scared my youngest would soon be doing the same or is elsewhere outside completely unsupervised. I yelled, right at her “you scared me, and what about brother?! IS he safe?! I told you to stay in the house as I ran across the street!! Why didn’t you stay???” Ugh. We ran back to the house, and my oldest and youngest were standing right where I had asked them to stay only three minutes before.

Now I tell you, I have seen this mom around, so many times. Tired, worried, stressed, overwhelmed, scared, angry, frustrated, and yelling at her kid. Until this moment, I had always viewed the “yelling” mom as such a villain – and to all the moms I have judged before, I earnestly apologize. This is so HARD. Not that I condone yelling at children, however when I was scared, overwhelmed and worried for the safety of my children, that panic kicked in and naturally my voice elevated.

As soon as I saw all three of my children safe (my oldest is 11, so legally he can stay 3 minutes with his siblings as I drive up to get them, in case you are worried lol); I knelt down, cried and apologized instantly for yelling. I asked for my middle little’s forgiveness, I explained how scared I was but that yelling was not appropriate and I am working hard not to yell anymore. Then something surprising happened, she apologized for not listening and saw how scary that was for me. I was taken aback. I did not expect her to mirror my actions, to recognize and acknowledge her mistake and my feelings. It was messy, it was hard, but even in my mama-meltdown epic failure moments, these brilliant amazing little humans are still learning forgiveness, empathy and owning their own mistakes.

Yes, I am THAT mom. I am the mom that struggles with keeping my temper, sometimes doesn’t get food to the table on time (by the way we ordered in tonight), allows too much screen time, gives in to some demands to avoid the fight, and yells when I do not mean to. I am also THAT mom who forgives quickly, loves fully, asks for forgiveness and apologizes to show them I make mistakes too, and would protect my children at all costs. I cry in the bathroom, laugh at the dinner table and hug with everything I have got. I am 100% that mom and proud.

x. earnest mom.

Earnest Mental Health Break + Rend Co Kids GIVEAWAY!

Yesterday, amid the constant update of my whole world changing so rapidly combined with COVID19 everything I was earnestly on overload. I could not help but give in to that annoying worry monster.

We feel we are prepared, we have always tried to keep a stocked pantry and with a toilet paper subscription it is not the worry of the material items that hit me – it was the financial ones. That ended with me being in the middle of a long dark teary tunnel of fear. Once I got there, it took some time to get out of that funk. One thing that helped me was music.

We have a current favorite in our home, SPARKLE POP RAMPAGE the new album from REND CO KIDS (AKA Rend Collective) and the lyric that we sing to our daughter when she is scared of the dark “I am not afraid ’cause your heart is shining bright at me. Be bold, be strong, be brave, hold on. I am not afraid anymore, Your love glows in the dark.” As these lyrics flowed into my mind I was quickly reminded where my comfort and my strength is and I felt renewed.

When I looked into why Rend Collective decided to put out a children’s album I found this little note on the CD: To every parent who is trying to teach their kids the beauty of life even though the days are long and chaotic. We see you and understand – you got this! We made this album for more than the kids so come on, stop tidying and sing along, enjoy the mayhem and get your dancing shoes on! Um, hello – I needed this today, and truly this is a great reminder everyday. Put those dancing shoes on and let the world melt away a little – it will be okay to dance for a while.

Today I have decided to take a break from all of the news, it was too much yesterday and just for today I want to focus here at home. With all my earnest littles around me in the chaos that is what this current world wide situation is – I want to just be here with them. I know that is not possible for all but even limiting exposure to news and media to only once or twice a day can help to alleviate the stress, anxiety and worry that is being experienced in the world right now. Currently, we have SPARKLE POP RAMPAGE playing on Alexa and even though I do not allow shoes in the house *HE HE* we will be dancing our cares away to the upbeat songs of Rend Co Kids! C’mon, join us!!

GIVEAWAY: Head on over to my Facebook and Instagram pages to find out how to win your own copy of SPARKLE POP RAMPAGE by REND CO KIDS.

x. earnest mom

Enjoy the Wow, Earnest Advice from Daniel Tiger

I am not sure about you but two main shows watched in the earnest home are Mister Roger’s Neighborhood and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, at least once a day. I have to admit, watching Mister Rogers with my children strikes such a nostalgic cord especially when our family values line up so perfectly with his. Needless to say, we are big big fans. A current song that is sung here is “Groo-own ups come back,” since separation anxiety is alive and well with our littlest one. If you watch Daniel Tiger, you know the tune. 🙂 Matter of fact, you may have sung it out loud just now – no worries, I did too. I get it.

Well this weekend came to a chaotic end with the craziness that is caused by the dreaded Spring Forward time change. The earnest littles did not fall asleep until 1.5 hours passed their normal bedtime, which is something we rarely have to deal with. Our kids are typically in bed by 8 and sleeping by 8:30, I truly cannot complain about my children and their sleep since they go down and stay down from 10-11 hours…”hashtag blessed,” and I know it!

This weekend was something different, something we were not quite prepared for. The struggle, the exhaustion only amplified by the time change. Earnest Dad and I have this unspoken agreement where we alternate who gets up with kids while the other gets to snooze a little longer. This Sunday morning was my day and 5:04 am my alarm clock toddler came-a-calling. (Which was actually 4:04 am real time lol). I was exhausted, but somehow we pulled them together and made it to church with ten minutes to spare! It was intense and busy – but it worked out.

Before church, I sat on the couch in the dark at 5:30 am hoping my little guy and I could nap a little before church; when he started singing and calling out “Mama, Dada” just to hear his voice echo, I knew we were up for good. Trying to keep us from waking the whole household I turned on the trusty show that is, Daniel Tiger. As I am snuggled up with my squishy little guy and wishing he would take a snooze so I could catch some Z’s Daniel Tiger threw this song at me. “Enjoy the wow that’s happening now.” Instantly my mama heart was convicted – it was true, I needed to enjoy the wow that was happening now. In comparison, Daniel Tiger’s ice treat was melting while he was wishing he could try all the other ice flavors and he was missing the chance to enjoy the flavor he currently had. Where, here I was sitting with my precious last baby whilst wishing for a moment of extra rest.

It is all about perspective mamas, it makes all the difference and I hear that all the time but it is in these moments when I need to hear it again and again. Trying to see the day is so imperative versus trying to seize the day, or wishing and hoping for different days ahead. I do not want to miss one single delicious moment with my children especially while I still have one home with me. Our last few hours of the day when all of us have eaten dinner together in the crazy tailspin that happens from full little bellies; the early dark hours of the morning that give way to the coziest snuggles; the laughter that comes when I catch splashes from the bathtub; the songs being sung in our loudest voices as we drive; and the sleepy prayers we say together before we say goodnight…please Lord let me hold on to these moments just a little bit longer.

Maybe take a moment today to breathe and then look at the small blessings before you; I am slowly learning that not everything has to be perfect before I can enjoy it!

x. earnest mom.

How to Take the Price and Tension Out of Traveling. A Guest Blog from DadSolo.

Daniel Sherwin is a single dad raising two children, a 9 y/o daughter and 6 y/o son.  He created DadSolo.com, aiming to provide other single dads with information and resources to help them better equip themselves on the journey that is parenthood.

PHOTO BY RAWPIXEL.

Hey Parents, Here’s How to Take the Price and Tension Out of Traveling.

As a parent about to travel with kids, chances are you’re trying to figure out how to make it to the destination without experiencing the tantrum of the century that results in forking over money for an airport stuffed animal. It’s true, children add a unique challenge to the traveling experience, but seeing their smiling faces makes it all worth it! Here’s how parents can take the tension out of traveling and avoid unnecessary spending for a more seamless experience.

Don’t Stress Over Booking

Rather than have a gazillion Internet browser windows open trying to find the cheapest price on hotels, flights, and/or car rentals, use a travel site like Priceline. Combine that with cashback options and online promotions for Priceline, and you can increase your savings even further. It’s easy to book, easy to compare prices, and easy to save. Plus, you’ll find that travel sites are able to predict price changes so that you can book at just the right time.

Choose Kid-Friendly Accommodations

Not all accommodations are created equal on the kid front, and you shouldn’t have to pay extra for a kid-friendly experience. As far as airlines go, opt for those that offer pre-boarding for younger children, discounted child fares, stroller/car seat gate checks, WiFi, and special accommodations like changing tables and bassinets. When looking for kid-friendly hotels, pinpoint specific amenities such as large or connecting rooms for big families, family rates, pools, playgrounds, and easy food options via an attached restaurant or room service.

Pack Travel Food and Snacks

Children are snack experts, and it never fails that they want one at the most inopportune times, such as when the plane is taking off or your only option is an overpriced candy bar. Save money, prevent meltdowns, and stop hunger pangs by packing food and snacks not only while traveling but once you arrive at your destination as well. Use containers with labels to keep things organized, and only bring things you know your child enjoys. Once you get where you’re going, find the nearest grocery store so that you can save on lunch and perhaps prevent a meltdown when a restaurant has nothing your child likes. Stick to the staples such as fruits, veggies, bread, deli meat, and mess-free snacks.

Don’t Forget the Basics

Whether you’re traveling to a tourist destination or not, it’s likely you’ll have to pay higher prices for the basics, so bring them yourself. Create a comprehensive packing list that includes everything you and your kids might possibly need including medications, Band-Aids, earplugs, toiletries, and anything your child absolutely can’t function without, such as their favorite stuffed animal, pillow, sheets, tear-free shampoo, etc. Add to the savings by shopping at your favorite stores like Target, searching for coupons, and taking advantage of price-match guarantees. If you’re flying, take a look at the checked-bag policy for each airline to find one that offers the most bang for your buck. For example, your first two bags on Southwest are free, while most other airlines charge $30 to $40 for each checked bag.

Drop Your Expectations

It doesn’t matter if you’re traveling with four kids, one toddler, or solo, having travel expectations is a sure-fire way to result in a letdown. Why? The unexpected happens, and if you have this magical idea in your head of what your trip will look like, then you’ve set the bar high. Let it be what it is. There will be mishaps, maybe even a few tears, but ultimately this trip will be something the entire family remembers.

Regardless of whether this is your first time traveling with children or you’re a seasoned pro, it can still be stressful. Plus, there’s that expectation that it has to be expensive. Hey parents, travel doesn’t have to make your hair fall out or break the bank! A little planning and zero expectations are all it takes for a trip the whole family can enjoy!

No Matter What. An Earnest Effort.

“You, I love you no matter what.” I say to my 9 year old who has come home with his first ever detention for laughing and being silly in class. And it is true, I love him no matter what.

It is hard to explain sometimes, this love that I have had the blessed opportunity to know, the love of a mother. I honestly had no idea how much my mother loved me until my first born filled a place in my heart that I did not know existed. That oldest child is 9 now and I am earnestly pressed to remind him as much as I can, that my love comes without limits. I want all my earnest littles to learn this now while they are young, when it comes to their mama, her love is literally to infinity and beyond.

I decided a few years back to earnestly pay attention to my language with my children, knowing that when they are older I will be that inner voice that they hear. When they fail I do not want them hearing me chastise but uplift them and encourage them to try again. Finding a way to use my parenting language as a way to prevent shame and encourage resilience.

Proverbs 15:4 says “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.” There is so much power in the things that we say, especially to our children or in front of them. I feel that as their earnest mom, I have the power to create a safe language environment for them. When they were little the focus was manners, pleases and thank yous which is a great place to start. I never thought of the language lessons for my children as they got older.

We have the opportunity to lead by example, especially in today’s online environment where language is put out there with little or no thought to consequence. I feel with my children, expressing love is an opportunity to begin to establish a safe language space. When they are teens and struggling with the hard to talk about topics, I want them to hear in their heart “you know, I love you no matter what.” Knowing that what ever they come to me with, my love will not change or lessen.

“I love you no matter what” includes the times they fail or succeed, the times they hurt or have a hard time controlling their emotions, the times they try and try and feel they may want to give up, or even the times they make a mistake…my love is infinite. In their own biggest messy and complicated struggles, I will love them no matter what. Like my heavenly father loves me, when I have not only created the hole I am in, but leaped in willingly with both feet. He sees me in my failure and my shame and says to me, as he cradles my tear stained cheeks in his hands, “I love you no matter what.” What a gift, and now I have the honor to pass it on to my children.

In this effort, a funny consequence has emerged. The more I say “I love you no matter what” to my children, the more I hear it…myself. I hear myself becoming my inner voice reminding my that I love me too, no matter what. Today, there is so much demand and pressure put on us mamas, from how we sleep to how we feed our children. When I hear this phrase repeated back to myself, I find grace – grace that I feel we all could us a little extra of. Mamas, this may not be the place for you to start but I would encourage, give yourself some grace and find the opportunities to feel and express love, no matter what.

x. earnest mom.

Earnest Mom Squad Feature: Peaceful Parenting of a Tween.

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A guest article from a member of The Earnest Mom Squad,  Kahentiiosta.

I have one girl amid the tween stage and two just beginning.  You would think that I would be a pro since I’ve had one girl as a tween for two and a half years now. Alas, I am still learning something new every day.  A Tween is no longer a little child, but not quite a teenager.  A tween is a child between the ages of  9 and 12. Their emotions and behaviors reflect this in between stage.  The term tween has become very popular in the last few years.

Even if you thought having an easy child, would make tweenhood easy as well.  You may come to realize it is very different.  There are new challenges with each stage of your child’s life.  Learning to deal with your newly independent tween can be frustrating, for both the parent and child.  There are so many new things to think about, discipline, school, homework, spending time with family and friends, and learning independence. 

Many parents react to the them by distancing themselves due to the tween’s moodiness, increasing independence, and maturing physical body.  This can cause some strife to the tween, as they begin to lose that connection with their parents.

One of the main ways to make it through this stage is continuing to build a firm foundation with your child and this will ease the transition to the teen years. 

Here are six tips to peacefully parent your child.

  1. Recognize and work with your tweens need for independence and reduce rebelliousness. As parents we often feel less powerful and become overprotective to compensate.  Instead of hovering over your child, learn to agree and enforce rules that are reasonable and meaningful. Example no phone until after dinner and homework, setting a curfew for the weeknights.
  2. Continue to stay connected.  Spending one on one time with your tween is crucial for this age.  Even if it is a quick check in with them each night, a dinner out together once a month, or taking a walk together. Allow your child to voice their concerns, inspirations, and goals for the future.
  3.  Learn to re-think your ideologies of discipline.  Learning to repair rather than punish, ask open ended questions instead of lecturing.  This will assist in your child learning how to have better judgement with new life challenges.  Learning to base the consequences on the actions, will only work for so long until your child begins to talk back.  Learning to reciprocate the love for one another, will lower the power struggle of one thinking they are always correct. 
  4. Preteens are actively shaping their identity.  It seems as if every week there is a new popular fad, you just caught up to one and another one your tween has jumped into.  Offer support to their experimenting and exploring.  It may be difficult but try not to comment on their fashions if their body coverage is appropriate and keep an open mind about their music. Be supportive of their deep passions and add guidance as needed.
  5. Don’t take it personally!  If they yell at you, don’t overreact.   They may hurt your feelings, and your first line of defense is to walk away, take a deep breath and stand your ground.  Responding with love and calmness will get a more respectful reaction.
  6. Teach your tween about healthy physical self-management.  Tweens need at least nine hours of sleep each night, regular meals with low glycemic snacks, and protein.  Along with regular exercise.  Find ways to maximize on learning mindfulness by encouraging them to listen to guided meditation.  This can assist with fueling creativity, concentration, and reducing moodiness.  Working together as a family can be beneficial, instead of centering your tween out.

It is natural for a parent to worry about their ever-growing child, but we must be mindful of our reactions to the ever-changing world, and culture around ourselves and tweens.  Enjoy this newfound freedom and learning together as a family as the new norm for a developing tween.

What are some of your advice for families with growing tweens?

The Middle Matters. An Earnest Book Review.

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“Because grilled cheese without the middle is just toast.”

– Lisa-Jo Baker, The Middle Matters

Having been a fan of Lisa-Jo Baker since Surprised By Motherhood, I was thrilled to receive her recent book to review.  Lisa-Jo has an amazing way of storytelling that takes your life, intertwines it with hers and once you put one of her books down, you feel forever connected.  The Middle Matters: Why That (Extra)Ordinary Life Looks Good On You definitely delivers true to Lisa-Jo form.  It is honest, loving, filter-free and raw; when I read that last line of the final page, I closed the book and again, felt connected forever.

This book consists of truth-telling letters/essays to the middle parts of Lisa-Jo’s life; from the middle of her muffin top, to the middle of her failures.  She shares stories of motherhood and marriage that will leave you in tears; laughing tears, sad tears, happy tears and realizing you are not alone tears.   Lisa-Jo takes the hard parts of life and makes them bearable, especially when you know someone out there has experienced the same.  I love the idea of building villages by sharing our stories, this book was made to build villages; villages made up of all of us here in our middles.

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I remember as a teenager Chicken Soup for the Soul books were all the rage, they were the books I read at my beginning – I love food so this will be a food metaphor – Chicken Soup for the Soul was like my appetizer in life and The Middle Matters is the main course, right in the middle of appetizers and desserts.  It is a hearty helping of comfort food that is necessary in this middle life of ours.  A warm serving of exactly what we need to remember, the scale is not the boss of us and we are the boss of our own emotions.  It brings delicious satisfaction to read Lisa-Jo’s words and know that she has been there too sister, and together we can all get through it.  This middle part is not always easy, often quite busy but is so worth remembering.  She reminds us not to rush through the middle just to get to the end, we must finish our main course before the dessert.  Slowing down to try and see the days as they pass is totally worth it.  Worth every moment.  Lisa-Jo dedicates the book to her late mother whom she says taught her: the harder the moment, the greater the story.  I love this.  Let’s savor those hard moments so we can share great stories with our fellow and future middle mamas.

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This book is one I wish I could buy for every woman I know, whether in the beginning of the middle, the middle of the middle or the end – we all need a book like this.  The Middle Matters is everywhere you can buy books, get out there and grab one for yourself and a few girlfriends!

Stay tuned to my Instagram for an (extra)ordinary giveaway next week!!

x. earnest mom.

The Middle Matters is published by Waterbrook and Multnomah and is on bookstore shelves now. I received a free advance reader copy for my honest opinion.