Rate My Park – Summer Series

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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.

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?

We Mix the Play Dough.

I will admit. I was not the mixing of the play dough colors kind of girl. I like things just so. Order, proper places, and keeping things neat and tidy. I like to know that when I go looking for something in it’s rightful place, it will be there. Then I had kids.

Keeping up the house, having dinner on time, kids in line, making all my own “homemade” everything, keeping all the crayons sorted and NOT mixing the play dough colors. That is how my parenting style looked, before I had actual real, brilliant, wild, breathing, crying, incredibly full of life children. I could leave a list here of all the things my imaginary kids were NOT going to do, then give the perfect counter as to how my real life children have done or are currently doing all those things.

Rigidity in motherhood for me was a fallacy. It took a while to learn that being flexible, honest with my emotions and not ‘keeping everything together always,’ was what would be best. Early on as a mom to one, I was one of the few in my group of friends and family to have children. My son was adored by my siblings, grandparents, parents, and friends; he was so loved. He grew up enjoying one on one with his father and I, and excelled in language skills holding conversations with adults by the time he was 4. He was amazing, and he is still a rock star at 11, in my honest and totally unbiased opinion but I digress. Then we had our daughter. Life changed, for the better but not in ease.

Overnight, our daughter was born and I went from a full-time working mom of one to a stay at home mom of two. Talk about learning a new way of life, I am not afraid to admit that I was wholly unprepared for the challenges as a stay at home mom but we survived. In the midst of recovery and getting settled with a new little person, we moved states. A move that took me away from my family, friends, and village; then opened wounds and showed vulnerabilities I did not know I had. Relocating is not easy, reestablishing and making a home somewhere other than the only home I knew was a bit traumatic. It was tear-filled, fear-filled and over all a learning experience. Did I mention that I like things to be just so?

Then there were three. Three years of getting settled into a new state, we were a family of five. I always heard how three changes everything, and much to my chagrin it proved to be true. Our loveable, strong, honest, loud, happy, snuggly, kind-hearted Wreck-it-Ralph came barreling into our lives. Our family dynamic changed. Breakables were placed high, but when climbing began most were eventually stored for safety. Church service is exhausting as I chase, play, distract and feed our busy little man. He is so full of life it literally bursts over everyone we come into contact with. He mixes the play dough, he mixes all the colors; then he mixes it with sand, water, food, or anything else that brings playful joy to his big old heart. Toys are dumped and thoroughly played with; passion roars from him like a lion and love comes out gentle as a bunny. He is the wild to my quiet, the chaos to my perfection, the love and life that my heart never knew it needed.

After three kids, homeschooling, a pandemic and the change to rules/opinions daily we find refuge in our home. Here it is safe, here we have order among the wild things, and we are learning to love deeper, respect more and most of all, learning to become the people God has designed us to be. When I started out in motherhood I would cry in frustration when things were not just so, when my plans would get muddled and mixed and I felt like things were out of control. Now, the phrase I often heard “blessed are the flexible for they shall not break” rings true every single day. Here, we mix the play dough colors; which is still hard for my first born as he was raised with more of a rigid mom who taught him we had to keep things the ‘right’ way, a mom who was quick to react and slow to listen. Now he has a more flexible, albeit less stressed (well sort of) mom and we are learning the power bending and not breaking together in life. In the flexibility we have found happiness, we have found resilience and now we are growing together. It is not always easy and there are fractures from past rigid moments that can make things stressful, but slowly the as we stretch old wounds they begin to flex and not hurt so much.

“When the milk is splattered all over the floor, and those little eyes are looking at your for your reaction, remember what really matters. It takes 5 minutes to clean up spilled milk. It takes much longer to clean up a broken spirit.”

Rebecca Eanes, The Gift of a Happy Mother.

I saw this truth just this week. My children love balloons, and I love to have them for fun occasions. Recently we surprised them with 22 inch balloons for a homeschool celebration. I made the rules clear, the balloons are for floating and leaving alone today and tomorrow they could have at them. Half way through the day, my youngest wild one who is 4, was sprawled out facedown on the floor crying, I sat down next to him and said “It sounds like you are feeling upset. Did something happen you want to share?” As he sobbed he cried out “I popped one of the balloons!” Immediately my heart broke, I thought ‘Oh no, is he crying because he is afraid of getting in trouble?’ So I responded, “Ok, the balloon broke. Can you tell me why you are crying?” He responded “I broke the rules and I am so sorry. Do you forgive me?” Could I have disciplined him? Sure, he did not listen and the balloon broke, but I realized his heart was already sore because he chose to break the rules and he knew it was wrong. Lesson learned.

Talk about unpacking some personal trauma – I decided to be the adult I needed when I was too scared to tell my parents my mistakes, and I often hid from them. I asked him for a hug, and as we sat on the floor, cheek to cheek, heart to heart I thanked him for his honesty, and even though he knew it was wrong he chose truth, and told him that I forgave him. I reminded him (even though he is only 4) that I am always here for him and no matter what I love him. This child who has ran naked through the middle aisle of the church, who mixes all the play dough colors has caused a great work to come upon my heart.

I am not perfect, no way do I get this parenting thing right every time but moments like that remind me how far I have grown. A decade ago, when I preferred things ‘just so’ I subconsciously placed unfair expectations on my children. I judged my mothering success by their behaviors, but slowly as we have mixed the crayons, spilled the milk, been too loud, ran too hard and broke the mold that I was placing us in – I have taken that unfair pressure off of all of us and started enjoying the ‘new’ that we create when we mix the play dough. To this day, I organize the kids books in my living room according to color. Yep. I place them in order ROYGBIV and when I sit down to relax after a stay at home/homeschool day, that sight relaxes me. No one sees it but me, and a few days later I am left to sort them again – the way I like it because I like the way it feels. In this small way, my ‘just so’ attitude gets satiated. I was not one to mix the playdough colors but I love how motherhood is molding me into something new, different and dare I say…better.

The View From Our Table: What’s Cooking at 10 Garden Street

The view from our table will be a feature where we look at some fun things we have done in our homeschool.

We are the kind of homeschool family that homeschools in the summer. It is less formal and much shorter, but we are a family that is constantly learning together. One our favorite times is “Morning Time.” We often start our homeschool days at the dinner table with our basket of books. Mama reads while the littles keep their hands busy with handicrafts. We love it.

This summer we decided to read, What’s Cooking at 10 Garden Street by Felicita Sala (can be purchased here – non affiliate link). This book was given to us by a dear friend who thought that we would have fun with it. We had so much fun!

Each page introduces the reader to recipes from all over the world. Salmorejo (a cold soup served with ham and boiled eggs), Little Trees (stir fried broccoli), Sole Meuniere, to name a few. Each day, we reread the book and then we chose a recipe we wanted to try. (I even discovered a mild allergy to pine nuts lol).

We had a such a blast trying flavors from all over the world and felt like we were joining the neighborhood for their pot luck feast at the end of the book. The illustrations are lovely and recipes rich and flavorful. So far this is one of the tastiest and fun books we have chosen for our morning time adventures.

If you are looking for something fun that will introduce your palate to flavors from many cultures, we highly recommend this favorite from our table. It has been a great way to try foods and cook with the three wild and three free and me!

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.

Guest Feature: Become a Super-Parent with These Top Apps

Photo by Pixabay

3wild3free is honored to have Leslie Campos, from https://wellparents.com/ to share more brilliant tips for parents and navigating the apps that are available to help a mother out!

Let’s face it: Parenting is hard work. And if you’re a new parent, no matter how many preparations you make, you’ll still face the unexpected when it comes to caring for your new baby. That’s because babies don’t come with a manual. The good news, though, is that technology has advanced by leaps and bounds, and smartphones provide apps that can help make life with a new baby a bit easier to navigate. 

Top Apps That Make Caring for Your Baby Easier

When you’re searching for baby-caring apps, you’re best off trying singular-function ones instead of all-in-one apps. Since you’ll be spending a lot of your time caring for your baby, you want easy-to-use apps that are available when you need them. The following apps are a great place to start.

WebMD Baby

With the WebMD Baby app, you’ll get access to trusted, physician-approved health and wellness information at your fingertips. With this app, you can also track important baby information and milestones. It’s a baby book, a place to ask a pediatrician for advice, a way to track your baby’s growth and development so that you can keep them on schedule, and more. Track feedings, nursing, sleep, and diaper changes as well. 

Baby Monitor 3G

Baby Monitor 3G is a unique monitoring app that uses your devices to keep you aware of your baby while they are in the other room. In the baby’s room, you’ll place a smart device or laptop that will monitor your baby and transmit audio and video via Wi-Fi or cellular connection to your device, where you’ll see a live, real-time feed of your child so that you can monitor them remotely and attend to them should the need arise. Setup is quick and easy, and you can even use it across different platforms. There’s also an activity log to track sleeping patterns. The app is secure and reliable, and the next logical step in baby-monitoring solutions.

Day One

If you’re a journal lover who likes to track every detail of your life, the Day One app is perfect for simplifying the important aspects of your life. Keep a workout log, gratitude journal, food diary, baby journal, or anything that needs writing down. You can add photos to your entries, and a passcode to protect your journal so it stays private. You can even dictate your entries! It’s the perfect way to keep track of your daily life in a simple, easy-to-use format.

Baby Sign and Learn Lite

This app may not seem useful at first, but sign language is a baby’s first language. Before your child can speak, they still need to communicate their needs and wants to you. Mostly, they’ll do it through crying, but eventually, their little brains can understand hand gestures. Baby Sign and Learn Lite is the free version and a great starter app for teaching and learning simple signs that you’ll need most, like “more,” “eat,” “please,” and “milk.” Using this app and practicing with your child will help both of you close the communication gap, which can lead to a happier baby whose needs are met quicker.

Redfin App

Last but not least, using an app to look for a new, bigger home for your expanding family will help make the process a little easier. While it won’t replace working with a real estate agent, something like the Redfin app can help you get the process rolling without leaving your baby’s side. Not only can you use different filters to narrow the scope of your search, but you can also take a peek inside homes using the app’s virtual walkthrough feature. Once you have an idea of what you’re looking for, you can get in contact with a Realtor to guide you through the rest of the home-buying process.

When you’re new to navigating parenthood, life can throw a lot of curveballs, but it doesn’t have to be so difficult. No matter what you choose, your smartphone can be another tool in your parenting adventure, and there’s an app for just about everything.

Guest Feature: You’re Beautiful, Baby! Self-Care Tips For Breastfeeding Moms

3wild3free is honored to have Leslie Campos, from https://wellparents.com/ to share some brilliant tips for taking care of mama during those nursing years.

Scientific studies show that breastfeeding a baby provides numerous benefits to both mother and child. Breastfed babies get important nutrients from their mothers that can bolster their immune systems and protect against disease. 

According to the American Heart Association, moms can also reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer by nursing. Additionally, breastfeeding eliminates the need for purchasing formula and cleaning bottles, and it can help you get back to pre-pregnancy weight faster than bottle-feeding. 

Of course, sharing your body with a little human can be taxing, so self-care during this time is crucial to ensuring a positive experience for both you and your child.

Getting Prepared

While breastfeeding is a natural and instinctive act, some women benefit from the help of a lactation coach, who is trained to help them along the way. This type of specialist can provide tips on common issues and concerns and offer advice on how to effectively get through the first few days of nursing and into a regular routine. 

Your OB/GYN, midwife or doula can likely refer you to a coach, or you may find one available on the obstetrics team where you deliver your baby. You can also refer to resources like La Leche League, which helps new mothers get accustomed to breastfeeding and provides support, encouragement, and resources.

Practical Concerns

First-time nursing mothers often feel like they’re “on call” for their babies 24/7. As such, it’s important to ensure you’re staying well-hydrated and eating plenty of healthy, nutrient-rich foods. According to Nursing Moms, breastfeeding burns up to 100 calories per “meal.” You’ll also need adequate sleep, so enlist the help of your partner wherever possible. 

Special amenities that may help you be more comfortable during this time include a lap pillow specially designed to aid in comfortable nursing, creams and ointments to protect against chafing and soreness, and an all-purpose nursing blanket or cover in the event you want on-the-spot privacy when nursing outside of your home.​

Dressing Comfortably

Fortunately for new moms, there are a number of comfortable and stylish clothing options available that not only look and feel great on a postpartum body, but also make it much easier to discreetly breastfeed in public or at home. In addition to everyday clothing, take care to dress in such a way that makes you feel confident and beautiful,  which can go a long way toward boosting your self-esteem

It’s a lot of work being a new mom, and to retain your sense of self, select clothing that fits well and makes you feel good. That might mean a comfy yet stylish nursing top, a flirty nightgown, or a pair of yoga pants that are both attractive and practical.

Prioritizing Self-Care

According to the Office on Women’s Health, it can take some time for new moms and babies to get in sync with nursing. Be patient with yourself and your child if the process requires a bit of adjustment. You’ll soon come to recognize your baby’s patterns and hunger signals, and your body will start to adjust and produce milk in the volume your baby needs. Create a quiet space in the early days where the two of you can calmly and patiently work together until you get into a comfortable routine.

Breastfeeding your new baby can be a wonderful bonding experience with tremendous health benefits for both of you. Taking care of yourself during this special time should include paying attention to your own needs. Dedicating time to self-care and looking and feeling your personal best can work wonders for your mental and emotional health!

For more valuable parenting tips, look no further than 3 wild 3 free.

Photo by Pixabay

Did Disney Give us Frozen 2 to Help Cope with COVID-19?! Maybe Not, But There Are Ways We Can Cope Together.

IMAGE COURTESY OF MOVIES.DISNEY.COM

God bless Disney+, they released Frozen 2 this past Sunday – a whopping three months early just so we could have some extra entertainment during our quarantined situations. As I sat through the movie for the 14th time by Wednesday, I actually started listening to the lyrics that I had been singing for the past few days. Then I noticed something, were these songs Disney was preparing us for the current state we would be in? Whether you are in complete lock down, shelter in place or have simply been urged to stay home; social distancing is now the new normal.

Is something coming? I’m not sure I want things to change at all. These days are precious, can’t let them slip away I can’t freeze this moment, but I can still go out and seize this day…

Some things never change
Turn around, and the time has flown
Some things stay the same
Though the future remains unknown

Music and lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez

This will all make sense when I am older
Someday I will see that this makes sense
One day, when I’m old and wise
I’ll think back and realize
That these were all completely normal events

I’ll have all the answers when I’m older
Like why we’re in this dark, enchanted wood
I know in a couple years these will seem like childish fears
And so I know this isn’t bad; it’s good

Music and lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez

Every day’s a little harder, as I feel my power grow
Don’t you know there’s part of me that longs to go

Into the unknown
Into the unknown
Into the unknown

Music and lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez

I won’t look too far ahead
It’s too much for me to take
But break it down to this next breath, this next step
This next choice is one that I can make

So I’ll walk through this night
Stumbling blindly toward the light
And do the next right thing
And with the dawn what comes then?
When it’s clear that everything will never be the same again
Then I’ll make the choice to hear that voice
And do the next right thing

Music and lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez

So maybe I am just seeking comfort and reason in the everyday things around me (like a Disney movie that plays several times daily), I will give you that. I feel like that is an okay place to be. I earnestly want to slow the roar of the news reports, the re-sharing of the under reporting, and quiet the worry monsters that build daily. I have chosen to scroll minimally, not read the news or listen to every single live update and keep my husband my news giver – unless it is urgent and pressing I want a small debrief once or twice a day.

Some ways of focus and redirection that has helped me are praying/finding moments of quiet and focused breathing; Alexa is a great DJ and she plays my favorite worship songs that we can belt out and dance to. I have also found that getting outside in our yard or a brisk walk AWAY from people can revive my worried and tired soul. This morning we slowly drove through our neighborhood with our windows down, our favorite Rend Co Kids songs on full blast as we belted them out at the top of our lungs.

Mamas (and papas too because this stress is real for all of us), we are entering uncharted territory, all of us together into the unknown. Knowing that we are together, this connection can help in the tough times too. Reach out to those you have not heard from in a while and if you need to talk, reach out even more. Community will be so important right now, even if it is online. Find an online moms group, or community group (Erie currently has a Facebook group called We’re In This Together, where they focus on uplifting and sharing kindness), or even starting a messenger thread with some of your closest friends where the goal is to share inspiring and uplifting quotes daily. Any little bit will help.

Know this, we truly are in this together and focusing on the things we can control like what our children read or watch online, what we can eat for meals, whether or not we can walk or drive to get out of the house can help. Making a point to look at those things or other things that we can actually control will help to move the focus on the great big unknown that is changing hourly. And if that is still too much, put on the Frozen 2 soundtrack and sing along, there is some comfort in singing about just doing the “next right thing.” Hang in there mamas, and stay safe!

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.

 

Motherhood: A wild and incredibly blessed ride!

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Wild and blessed, two words that can describe exactly where I am right now.

I am always shocked when I hear the words: ” I do not know how you do it” or “how do you get anything done in a day?” Honestly, I never feel like I hit the mark, I rarely feel like I have gotten anything done in a day and sometimes the only gage I have that I’ve accomplished something is by my husband’s reaction when he come in the door.

Seriously, as a stay at home mom to an 8, 4 and 1 year old my time feels like it is spent assessing risk factors from wild toddler antics, throwing snacks out like candy at a parade and refereeing disputes over claims of “bad words being said, walking passed someone too fast or slow, and simply not agreeing on the next show to watch on Netflix.” And yes, my children watch Netflix, I mean yeah, I could totally parent without screen time – I could also churn my own butter but let’s not get too crazy now.

Friends have told me how I seem to have it all together and that my kids are so lucky. I am here to tell you, looks are deceiving. There are days when I get up before my children, make the coffee and have laundry and dishes running before 9:00 am. Those days are rare. To be honest that happened once last week. The rest of the week looked more like me walking out of the bathroom to my two oldest using a half a stick of butter in each hand from the fridge to butter their toast because there was not any softened butter available. No kidding, this was last Wednesday and I chose to look at the fact that not only did they make their own snack, but they did as a team! Yay, MOM WIN!!! Another day I turn around from loading the dishwasher to my one year old eating a burnt waffle he took from the garbage. Perfection?! NO WAY, but like I said I am wildly blessed by this.

In my days as a stay at home mom I have learned to let go and let live. My children are growing so fast, right before my eyes and if I do not stop all of my busyness I will miss on theirs. My house is not always tidy, some days my sink of full of dishes and there have even been times that we have run out of clean laundry; but my kids are loved, happy, fed and safe. Those four elements are a language of love for this mama’s heart, and perspective is everything. My home may be messy but we have a place to live, my sink may have dishes but we have food to eat and laundry may be dirty but we have clothes to wear. My kids may be loud but they have a voice, they may be busy but their have a love of life to live. Pretty soon, in a blink, my kids will be on their own; the house will be perfectly clean and too quiet, and I will miss these wild and blessed days.

I know that I am in no way a perfect mom, but I know I have been made perfectly by God to grow these tiny humans He has given me. I hope that when I fall short I can give them an opportunity to see humility and compassion; when I make mistakes I can help them learn to forgive; and when I hold them, they feel what true love is. I am mothering the best way I know how, I know that the best of me as imperfect as I am is exactly what they need. By this mere fact, I am able to forgive myself the moments when they eat from the trash or use way too much butter, and find joy no matter what. This is us, this is our little life and our little home is massive in love, for truly we are wildly blessed.

Mamas, no matter what season you are in, please know you are perfect just as you are. I love the saying “to the world you are just a mom, but to your children you are the world.” Our little ones have this amazing God-given power to love us mamas unconditionally, let us too start loving ourselves unconditionally too. Doing our best everyday is the best we can for them, and even when we totally fail, guess what?! They will be right there, still loving us.

You are seen, you are loved and you are everything to those little eyes that look to you every morning. You are just what your family needs. Be wild and blessed, the days are long but the years are short.

x. earnest mom.