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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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Earnest Mom x Sage Spoonfuls

Guys!! I am so excited about this, earnest mom is OFFICIALLY a Sage Spoonfuls Brand Ambassador.

Okay, so what does that mean?? It means over the next few months I will get the privilege to share with you some of their brand new products plus awesome discounts!! Woo hoo.

I began using Sage Spoonfuls back in 2015 when I starting making baby food for earnest babe. (Check out my article here, An Earnest Attempt At Homemade Baby Food.)

In our earnest home, we used Sage Spoonfuls’ Baby Food Making System for making baby food, but once we were passed the baby food stage this system has been helpful for much more. The immersion blender has been used for shakes, soups and applesauce. The mini food processor has made pesto, freezer jams, breadcrumbs, cookie crumbs and chopping veggies. The glass jars (freezer safe) have served as Oriole jelly feeders, storage for home-made jam, tartar sauce and applesauce; stashing snacks in the diaper bag and even reusable wipes. This whole system grows well beyond the infant feeding years, definitely an investment. (Want more ideas? Check out Sage Spoonfuls).

Now that earnest boy 2.0 is 5 months, I am getting ready to start making baby food all over again. Sage Spoonfuls has a wonderful cookbook that gives delicious, fresh and healthy (and safe) recipes tailored to each specific baby food age/stages. I am excited to do it all over again, and with my mom brain forgetting all I did 3 years ago – this cookbook helps a lot.

That is my story on why I love Sage Spoonfuls SO much; go ahead, get your own Sage Spoonfuls and start your love story!! Want a discount while you shop?! Use SAGE25REBECCA at www.sagespoonfuls.com for your 25% discount today.

x. earnest mom

PS: Stay tuned for some new products from Sage Spoonfuls!

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From then to now…

*Trigger warning, discusses threatened miscarriage, subchorionic hematoma and bicornuate uterus*


One year ago, we were sitting in a triage room at 3:30 am.  “Threatened miscarriage.”  That was all I heard before I felt cold, afraid and empty.  That feeling could not be shaken over the longest three days I have ever experienced.  We had to wait, the ENTIRE weekend to see if that baby’s heartbeat was increasing or decreasing.  I was made to stay in bed or on the couch, not get too stressed or excited, nor could I lift anything.  Prayer.  Prayer got me through those three days, helped me to smile with my children, helped me to breathe in moments when I thought my breath would be lost all together.  It helped me when the tears would flow without my knowledge until they were cold on my cheek.  Helped me find a way through it all.

We got to the doctor and after another round of blood work and sonograms, I was diagnosed with a subchorionic hematoma (a bleed on the uterine wall) and  bicornuate uterus (a birth defect that I have had all along).  Due to the size and location of the bleed, I was placed on restricted activity and every trip to the bathroom from there on out was stressful.  Would I lose the baby or would we be okay?  I was so worried, until I was educated more on my uterus shape.

As it turns out, a bicornuate uterus (which means my uterus is heart-shaped, or has two horns/cavities) is associated with increased adverse reproductive outcomes, such as recurrent pregnancy loss and pre-term deliveries.  I have had this condition from birth and never knew until my third pregnancy.  I never knew because, with a condition that should have proved pregnancy a difficult task or even a risky one; it had never caused a problem.  Once I realized that, I knew that this current pregnancy was not in my control.  It was in God’s hands, just like my previous two and as He tells us we should, I casted my cares (well worries) upon Him.  Comfort, safety and hope; those were what I found after that first week passed and I gave it all up to Him.

Here we are, a year later with a BEAUTIFUL baby boy.  Born full term, we went into labor naturally, delivered him naturally (unplanned as my epidural was turned off when my blood pressure dropped dangerously low), he is happy, healthy and thriving.  Our earnest boy 2.0 has filled our hearts, we are now a party of five and wholly complete.  For that fact, the tears of joy flow and I know they are there, my breath is full of humbling relief and my smiles are not struggling to be there.  I am in awe.

x.  em.

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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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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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World Autism Month

In honor of World Autism Month, let’s talk about autism and The Light It Up Blue campaign this month.  Having been touched by personal friends and family who  individuals with autism in their lives, I am earnestly hoping to help spread awareness and education about autism.

What is autism spectrum disorder?
Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences. We now know that there is not one autism but many types, caused by different combinations of genetic and environmental influences.
The term “spectrum” reflects the wide variation in challenges and strengths possessed by each person with autism.

Autism’s most-obvious signs tend to appear between 2 and 3 years of age. In some cases, it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months. Some developmental delays associated with autism can be identified and addressed even earlier. Autism Speaks urges parents with concerns to seek evaluation without delay, as early intervention can improve outcomes.

Some facts about autism 

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates autism’s prevalence as 1 in 68 children in the United States. This includes 1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls.
  • An estimated 50,000 teens with autism become adults – and lose school-based autism services – each year.
  • Around one third of people with autism remain nonverbal.
  • Around one third of people with autism have an intellectual disability.
  • Certain medical and mental health issues frequently accompany autism. They include gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, seizures, sleep disturbances, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety and phobias.

About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the lifespan, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families through advocacy and support; increasing understanding and acceptance of autism spectrum disorder; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions.

Autism Speaks enhances lives today and is accelerating a spectrum of solutions for tomorrow.

To test your knowledge of autism, click this link and the Light It Up Blue take the quiz to learn more about people with autism.  Also, join us in sharing in the #LightItUpBlue campaign in the month of April on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  http://bit.ly/ASDquiz

x. em.