Friday, October 11, 2013

Children's Claritin Back to School Allergy Tips

Everyone is well into the swing of school now, and the Fall has arrived in many parts of the country. With the changing of seasons comes the dreaded allergy symptoms for moms, dads, and kids alike. Does your family suffer from allergies? We do. And it is no fun. Joey and I both have terrible allergies at peak seasons. Luckily, I am a member of the Children's Claritin Mom Crew, and they help me by sharing lots of tips, promotional products, product samples, and coupons.

The following is a list of tips that I received that I would like to pass along to you, to help your family deal with the nasty allergy symptoms. A few things that I didn't know or think of, and hopefully we can all breathe a little easier thanks to Children's (and adult’s) Claritin.

1. Be sure to have Children’s Claritin, the #1 pediatrician-recommended non-drowsy allergy brand, on hand!
2. Multi-vitamins are building blocks to having a strong immune system. Make taking a multi-vitamin part of your child’s daily routine.
3. Let there be light! Mold doesn't like sunlight, so try to keep your curtains open during the day.
4. Did you know that most pillows trap allergens, dust mites, and bacteria? Monitor the cleanliness of the pillow your child with allergies sleeps on and replace if necessary.
5. Back to school season means lots of laundry for many moms. Be sure to remove laundry from the washing machine promptly. Allowing wet clothes to sit in the washer means mold can quickly grow there.
6. Monitor pollen counts and adjust outdoor before and after school activities accordingly. Dry, windy days can be particularly high in pollen.
7. Showering or bathing at the end of the day as opposed to the morning can be helpful in removing allergens from body surfaces and hair.
8. Stay hydrated! Always send your child to school with a bottle of water. Drinking lots of clear fluids through the day can help get rid of toxins and flush out body.
9. Peak pollen production typically occurs in early morning, so try to plan outside activities at other times of the day.

Disclosure: As a member of the Children’s Claritin Mom Crew, I receive product samples and promotional items to share and use as I see fit. No monetary compensation has taken place and any opinions expressed by me are honest and reflect my actual experience.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum

Well, we weren't exactly on our way to the forum, more like our house, but the title just struck me as I decided to write this...

After my last blog post I figured it was time for something light hearted, and Olivia provided the inspiration for just that as we walked home from my sister's house this evening.

My children wear Crocs 75% of the time all year round. And I love it. However, these rubber shoes can be as annoying as they are convenient, because it is inevitable that someone will get a rock, piece of mulch, sand, or other foreign object stuck in their shoe while we're out for a walk or playtime, holding up the whole group or activity to remove said object.

True to form, about 20 yards away from my sister's house Olivia shouts at us all to stop as she leisurely sat down so on the curb to remove the mulch from her Croc. Moments after she sat down, she declares in a panic, "I'm peein' Momma!" Sure enough, the curb is wet, and a trickle of urine is streaming down between my daughter's legs. The other two kids stare at me with that "what are ya gonna do now, mom?" look, to which I responded, "At least it was in the street." I mean seriously, what was I supposed to do? Rinse off the curb? I don't think so... Dogs pee all over the freakin' place. And apparently, so does my kid.

And with that, we continued our walk home. Well, Olivia's was more that damp pants waddle kinda walk. ;)

Friday, October 4, 2013

Losing It

I've officially hit rock bottom. I have a secret... -I've been a sleep-deprived, grumpy, impatient monster of a mom for 3 months now, and I can't bear it any longer. With children well past the infancy stage of wakeful nights it is frustrating to me that my 4 year olds have such horrible sleep habits that I would gladly trade them in for newborn twins that wanted to be breastfed every 45 minutes all night long. At least those twins didn't talk back, kick doors, throw things, and scream bloody murder at me for trying to get them to stay in their beds. And at least those twins were containable. At least those twins didn't conspire against me by waking each other up, and then run in to their peacefully sleeping brother's room to see if they could get him on board. (They couldn't, he cried for being woken up, and told me this was "the worst night ever.")

I have done all but install a deadbolt from the outside of their bedroom door. On that note, it's probably a good thing that Home Depot is not open 24 hours because that is what I would be doing right about now instead of blogging about my sleep deprivation at 3 AM if it were.

Prior to starting this blog post I had one of my not so impressive mommy moments. I was so angry at my daughters for keeping me out of my cozy bed for the last hour and a half, and then proceeding to try to wake up my one sleeping child that I ripped their existing sticker charts off their bedroom walls and shredded them to pieces with my bare hands in a fit of rage. Then I got one of those doorknob covers that we have left over from our child proofing days and put it on the inside of their bedroom door. Oddly enough, they never did figure out how to open those suckers. Joey knew at the age of 2 that all he had to do was smack the thing hard enough and it would break in two halves, giving him full access to any restricted area. Anyway... I digress.

After installing said door knob cover I yelled loudly enough that most of our subdivision likely heard me about them being naughty, losing iPad time for tomorrow, and never, ever, ever getting another princess sticker for their aforementioned sticker chart. Ever. I slammed the door, moved Joey to my bed downstairs (where my husband lay getting his beauty rest) and returned to the playroom couch outside their bedroom door to endure the yelling, crying, and kicking of the door. What was interesting to me is that in between the yelling, crying, and kicking, they could have a completely calm and civil conversation with each other. In other words, they are totally capable of turning it off as soon as they think I'm not listening... Little boogers.

So what's a mom to do? I can't do this much longer. I need my children to go to bed on time without delay, and sleep for 11-12 hours a night so I can be a functional human being. I am tired all.the.time. Simple jobs like cooking dinner, grocery shopping, and folding laundry are daunting and overwhelming because I am just too freaking tired. Trying to keep up with my orders for Bugaboo's Closet, and grow my business is next to impossible when I am spending my evening work/sewing time trying to get my kids to stay in bed for 3-4 hours past when we actually said goodnight. I can't do this anymore. I am out of ideas, out of patience, and definitely out of my mind...

Friday, June 28, 2013

My Last Day of School Post

This is a long post.... you've been warned.

Today would have been Joey's last day of Kindergarten.  He would be moving up to 1st Grade in 10 days.  (year round school... no summer break)  But it's not his last day.  In our house it's just another hot day in North Carolina.  It has taken me 7 months to get the courage to publicly share what I struggled with most as a parent thus far.  But on this Last Day of School it seems appropriate.

Joey started Kindergarten on his 5th birthday last summer.  He made the age cut-off for Kindergarten by 7 weeks.  Meaning if his birthday was 49 days later he would not have been eligible to attend school until the following year.  He is a smart boy, and we knew he was academically ready, but struggled with whether or not he was mature enough and socially ready to begin Elementary School.  I went back and forth for months.  I spoke with professionals, friends, family members, and strangers.  I prayed that we were going to do the right thing for our son.  Ultimately we agreed to send him, to "try it," and make a change if necessary.

The first couple months were relatively smooth, with a few minor bumps in the road as our boy learned the routines and expectations of the big school.  Joey was making friends, learning tons, and happy to go to school.  He was lucky to have a teacher who is fantastic in every sense of the word.  After about 3-4 months, I was in close contact with Joey's teacher.  And not because he was winning the citizenship award.  Listening became an issue.  Keeping his hands to himself became an issue.  Impulse control became an issue.  My calls from Joey's teacher started to mimic calls an emails that I had made when I was a teacher.  Calls to parents of "that kid."  We discussed things like "thinking time, reward systems, and behavior charts."

Nothing prepares you for the heartache that comes when you find out that your child is having trouble.  We have been blessed and fortunate as parents.  Our children are healthy, happy, and adjust well to just about everything.  But suddenly it became very clear to me that something wasn't right.  One day in late November, Joey came home sad and disappointed when someone told him, "I don't want to be your friend anymore."  My happy in life boy was deflated.  I believe it never crossed his mind that someone wouldn't want to be his friend.  In the coming days, as I watched Joey interact with his classmates, there was a painfully obvious gap in maturity.  Joey was struggling to fit in.  So he acted out.

After shedding more tears than I knew my body could produce, and many in depth conversations with Joey's teacher, my husband, my mom, my husband's parents, and anyone else who was within ear shot, I knew what we had to do.  I knew he wasn't ready.  So why all the emotions?  I was so scared to make him feel like a failure.  My child is a success.  No matter what.  Needing more time is not a failure in my book, and I had to carefully consider how to make it not be a failure in his.  I also didn't want him to get the impression that he could get in trouble and then not have to go to school anymore.  I did not want to send him back to Pre-K, because I felt like he would most definitely get a feeling that he did not succeed.  I felt sad for him.  He made friends that he liked.  He liked school.  He worked hard to learn new things every single day, and he truly loved his teacher.  I felt like I was ripping him from everything familiar in his world, and not even sure if it would make a difference.

We approached the topic with Joey by telling him that Mommy was going to homeschool him for the rest of the year, and then he would go back to Kindergarten when he turned 6.  This made sense to him.  He did not question it, never said he didn't want to stay home, and honestly hardly asked about it since.  There have been a few times over the past several months when we've had to remind Joey that his "friends" from his Kindergarten class will be moving on to 1st Grade.  He's a pragmatic child, and this has been OK with him too, knowing that many of those students are turning 7 when he is not even 6 yet.

Now... Did I make the right decision?  I believe I did.  Joey may struggle in school regardless.  But at least at this point I know that I did everything in my power to give him the best start.  There is no "what if?" or "maybe we should have..." There was a point in April when I knew he was ready.  A feeling that I had after working with Joey on some school work, and watching him interact with some peers when I realized that he is demonstrating readiness signs that were not there when we made the decision to send him to Kindergarten last year.

So, on this Last Day of School, I am hopeful.  I am happy that I've gotten some extra time with my son that I never would have had if we decided to have him finish out the year.  I've witnessed some huge changes in Joey.  We've had some great conversations, lots of fun times, and I've appreciated every moment with him knowing how quickly it will pass.  Tomorrow we go on vacation, and about 5 weeks after that Joey will start Kindergarten.  And I will miss my little buddy (and probably spend a week crying all over again!) as I see him go off to the big school once again, but I am grateful for every minute we've spent together during the last 6 years.   I'll leave you with his first and last day pics:

First Day of Kindergarten, July 16th, 2012:

Last Day, June 29th, 2013

Monday, June 24, 2013

What I made: Father's Day Edition

My husband and I usually keep things simple when it comes to exchanging gifts with each other.  We are a family of 5 on a teacher's budget, so spending money on frivolous gifts for each other when the holidays roll around has never been super important to us.  We love simple things: going out to eat as a family (even if it's Chick Fil A!), taking a trip to a new park, or just hanging around the house together.  Now don't get me wrong... someday I hope to get a whopper of an anniversary gift that has some serious bling factor.  You know, like someday when we hit the lottery.  But for now, being around for our kids is more important than spending money on stuff we just don't need.

Now I'm not saying we have a "no gift" policy up in here.  We love presents.  I mean seriously, who doesn't LOVE presents?  But we don't buy things we can't afford, or normally wouldn't.  A well thought out gift that says "I love you," is far more important in my opinion than something that cost big bucks that was purchased out of obligation.

Father's Day was no different for us this year.  We are getting ready to go out of town this month, so we've been extra careful about spending, trying to make sure that we have some fun money during our trip.  But my hubby really is an amazing Dad, so I needed a Father's Day gift that had some wow factor without breaking the bank.  (Or breaking a 20 if I'm brutally honest...) So where's a girl to turn for some meaningful gift giving inspiration?  Pinterest, naturally.  I found several cute ideas for the kids and I to replicate for Father's Day this year.  And I'm proud to say that I actually put my pinning to good use and our gifts for my hubby were Pinterest knock offs.  And he LOVED them.  He actually said that it was the best gift he's ever received.  How's that for $7.98?  Yup... I spent less than 10 bucks on his gift and it was declared Best.Gift.Ever.  Score!  The original pins can be found here, and here.

When I first saw this photo collage, I just knew it was the perfect gift for my hubby.  So I took an old white board that I had in my collection of (haven't been used in 6 years, but yes we have to hold on to all of it) teaching supplies.  With the help of some Chalkboard paint from Walmart ($2.99) I turned it into a brand new chalkboard for our project.  This was the first time I actually used Chalkboard Paint.  And oh my goodness, what was I waiting for?  I want to turn lots of stuff into chalkboards now.... seriously, so fun!
I put a couple childish-looking decorations along the edge of the board, and asked my kiddos why they love their daddy.  Then we took to the front porch for a little photo session, and voila!

I then grabbed one of these awesome graphics, made available for free download at Positively Splendid.
And with a little help from Picasa Editing Software, I was able to make this awesome collage:

I uploaded that badboy to Walgreens photo, entered my promo code for a free 8x10 collage print in honor of Dad's Day, and drove over 47 minutes later to pick it up.  For free.  Yup.  I'm awesome like that.

A couple days later, I picked up one of these funky frames at Michaels Craft Stores.  It was one of the few frames NOT on sale that week, so I was able to use my 50% off coupon and got it for $4.99.

Insert photo collage into frame, had kids fill out a few of these free printable cards from Martha Stewart, and there you have it.  A great gift for the hubs that cost less than a coffee from Starbucks.  Well... maybe not quite, but you get the idea.

**Please excuse my not so great cell phone picture of the final product.  It's not easy to get a picture of a picture with the glass already in the frame.  And I'm not taking it apart now.  Ain't nobody got time for that!


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