7 Reasons Why You Should Date Your Children

When you have one child, individual time with each parent is a given. Once you have more kids than you have hands, things can get a little, okay- A LOT – tricky. However, this special one-on-one time is so important, for both the parents and the child.

Before you had additional kids, did you wonder how you could possibly love another human as much as your first born? By taking time for your second, third, fourth children you will clearly see how your love for each child is just as strong and as equally unique as each child. Taking time to nurture a special relationship between you and  your child will bring you closer and establish a solid foundation upon which to grow.

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It Strengthens Individual Bonds.

Carving out special times and making memories will strengthen your relationship. On a recent trip to Chicago my daughter and I took a shortcut through the American Girl Store. She is only 20 months old and doesn’t have many dolls, but the second we walked in I got to see her skip and hop for the first time. She was literally beaming like a kid in a candy store as she ran around pointing at every single doll and stuffed animal. Always a Daddy’s girl, I was not-so-secretly thrilled when we walked out of the store and Daddy went to pick her up and she shook her head and ran to me 🙂  (And no, I did not buy her affection- we left empty handed in case you were wondering!)

It Boosts Self-Esteem and Confidence.

Have you noticed how your child lights up when you pay them special attention? Every positive affirmation helps them to become more confident in their abilities. Simply sitting down with a child to read a book validates them as individuals and shows them that you want to be with them. Without others around they feel safer expressing their feelings, sharing thoughts and ideas, or trying out new skills.

You Get to know One Another Better.

My days are generally chaos. A  happy chaos, but still chaos. Some hours go by in a complete blur where my only goal is to make sure no one gets hurt. However, it is in those one-on-one moments that I truly get to know my children. C isn’t being overshadowed by his big brother and starts practicing his words and shows off his silly personality. T gets to snuggle all she wants without having to share my lap with her brothers.  J gets to do all kinds of “big boy” stuff and thrives on the attention he grew accustomed to in his first years of life.

You Take Time Out from the Crazy.

Since we have three kids, individual time usually comes when one parent takes one kid and the other has two. And honestly? It’s a nice break for all of us! Once you are out numbered, having two kids is just so much easier than three! Don’t get me wrong- I remember thinking having just one was hard. Whatever your situation, changing up the routine is a nice break.

They OPen Up MOre. datechildren2

Think about how much closer you feel to someone when you spend time with them. On a one-on-one basis, people are much more likely to open up and you get to know each other so much better. Kids are the same. When we have time to just hang out, J talks more and I get a better glimpse into what is on his mind. Quieter kids come out of their shells. There is going to come a time when each child needs each parent for different reasons. It is essential to establish this rapport and comfort level early on.

It Shows them they are Unique Individuals in the sea of siblings.

While the gift of siblings is one of the greatest things you can give your child, it is still important for them to have solid relationships with their parents.  We strive to have alone time with each child at some point every day. Perhaps we are more sensitive to this because we have twins, but we want each of our children to know that we value them as individuals. Each day, even if it is just for a few minutes to read a book, play a game, play on the swingset, etc, we take time for each child.

It Allows them to Do Things They Can’t Always Do.

date children 3C is a very adventurous and impulsive toddler. I can’t trust that he won’t jump off the highest playground equipment or try to jump in and swim with the ducks. Unfortunately for him, that often means I have to strap him in his stroller, hold his hand tighter than he’d like, or constantly yell “no” when he tries to explore his limits. Unlike his older brother who I could shadow at all times, I have to hold him back more. So when we get one-on-one time, we run to the park where he is free to run and climb to his heart’s content. Our 4-year old gets to do “big kid” things that we can’t do with his younger siblings- go bowling, swimming, kayaking, etc.

Here are some simple ideas to spend individual time with your kids.  The key is to preface it as “mommy/daddy-daughter/son date time” and no matter what it is, it is special:

Learn Together: Read, color, build, write, attend storytimes and music classes, visit museums, do puzzles, play games, paint pottery.

Eat Together: Have a picnic, plant a garden, bake cookies, plan and cook dinner, make pancakes, share a special treat, go out for ice-cream.

Work Together: Run errands (they love it!), have a cleaning race, do crafts, do a service project.

Play Together: Mini-golf, bowling, swimming, building snowmen or sandcastles, ice-skate, ride bikes, play catch, practice a sport, go to the park, participate in a race.

The best advice is to ask them what they want to do! You may be surprised that all they really want is to be with you!

Don’t forget to make time for your hubby too!

What are some of your favorite kid date suggestions?

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The Perfect Season

I am at the pool and have been holding my breath for 2 hours. No, I am not under water. I have three young kids. AT THE POOL. Enough said.  I glance around at the mothers of older children, relaxing, sun-bathing, reading a good book. My first thought is…LUCKY. My next is… when is the last time I read a book? My third is- I AM NOT READY FOR THAT!

As luxurious as it sounds, lounging on a chair is not what I signed up for in this season of life. My kids are already growing too fast. Since when can Jake jump off the side and paddle across without floaties to me? Why aren’t the babies strapped into their newborn car seats under an umbrella? Where is that pregnant belly that turned my tankini into a bikini? Time truly does fly. Sigh… Alas, this my present reality.

I am in the hold-your-breath, “get down”, “be careful”toddler chasing, boo-boo fixing, story book reading, ever-exploring, constant praying, busy playing,  booger wiping, hand washing, diaper changing, snot sucking, baby-proofing, endless question answering, “stop fighting”, being hung on, being climbed on, imaginary playing, obsession indulging, constant clothes washing, pants peeing, always juggling, not sleeping, being clung to, sucked-clawed-spitup on, clothes folding, sock searching, play group going, accident dodging, spill wiping, mess cleaning, vomit catching, germ fighting, sweet cuddling, always helping, hand holding, leg hiding, tower building, constructing, kite-flying, dirt digging, worm finding, bug collecting, potty talking, always learning, ever-growing, toppling, risk taking, butt wiping, sand eating, “please share”, tantruming, rigid carseat maneuvering, food cutting,  fruit pureeing, swing pushing, constant vigilence, tickle torture, snuggling, bed wetting, nightmare reassuring, belly hurting, food throwing, toy fixing, belly laughing, full-of-wonder, ABC singing, cartoon watching, hold my breath season. And embracing every single second of it before it goes away.

I am exhausted but when the lounging in the chair time comes, I will wish for these days again. Maybe not when there is a pina colada in my hand and I am in the middle of a really good book, but I will. I know I will. Because when I look at newborns I already do.

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Embrace each season as it comes.  No matter where you are in life, it is where you are meant to be.

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Eggucational Activities

A quick Pinterest search for educational Easter activities for my son opened my eyes to a whole world of incredible, eggucational ideas involving plastic Easter eggs!  (You can buy them here or here.   Stock up after Easter for even better deals!)

The teacher/organizer in me decided to help you out by categorizing them by developmental level. Keep in mind, all kids learn at different rates and these are just general guidelines. Simply click on any image to link to the original source for information on each activity.

over 50 Learning

Note, all of these can be modified to meet the needs of your learner. Here are a few ideas:

  • Make it easier by matching the top and bottom colors of the egg. Make it more challenging by using different colors for the top and bottom.
  • All of the language activities can be made more difficult by adding more complex vocabulary, longer words, irregular patterns, etc.
  • Math can be modified by using larger numbers, adding more complex skills, incorporating more than one operation into problems, higher level problem solving.

Before we get started, here is one more tip:  If it is something you only want for a one-time activity, use a dry-erase marker and wipe clean after use to do another activity. However, many of them make for great playroom activities year round- my son LOVED matching numbers and practicing upper and lower case letters with his eggs last year.

Babies

For babies, sensory bins are where it’s at. Seeing, touching, feeling, listening, exploring (and yes, tasting, so be careful) is their primary mode of learning. You can also begin working on colors, emotions, and animal sounds.

     tool for teaching emotions in kids of all ages     Easter Sensory Bin Texture Eggs Tactile Sensory Play Activity   Easter Sensory Bin for Toddlers | www.GoldenReflectionsBlog.com  water play with plastic Easter eggsIMG_2563

Put construction paper in shredder to make grass - then let students sort eggs into proper container.Easter Egg Washing Set Up

Toddlers

There is a vast range of abilities at this stage. Focus on number and letter recognition, beginning letter sounds, counting, shapes, colors, and patterns.

   Number Snake with Plastic Eggs         Find the Chick Easter 1-20 Number Recognition Game Egg Activity Easter Egg Shape Hunt! A fun and educational Egg Hunt without candy.      IMG_2559Easter holiday kids activity game idea. Mix and Match your plastic eggs for a fun preschool game!! Could also be cute Easter basket gift idea.   IMG_2561

Eggciting Beginnings  

Preschoolers (ages 3-5)

Again, there are huge developmental differences in this age range. Focus on early literacy skills, sight words, word families, patterns, number correspondence, basic addition and subtraction (precursors to multiplication and division), classification, and experimentation.

Egg Word Families 2  TheHappyTeacher: 8 Educational Easter Egg Activities!      Basket of rhymes   You searched for contraction easter egg - Teaching with Nancy | Teaching with Nancy Counting Coins - love the versatility of plastic eggs for centers at Easter!preschool science lesson sink or float  IMG_2531  IMG_2572

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Plastic Egg Duck and Bunny Craft for Kids 

Primary Grades K-2

Expanding on a strong foundation, primary grade students are ready to work on fact families, place value, phonemic awareness, antonyms, synonyms, telling time, and building words.

 

  

Basket of Antonyms  Short and long vowel sort landscape Reading Two-Syllable Words with Easter Eggs {free printable included} | This Reading Mama

 

  

Intermediate Grades 3-5

Turn things up a notch in the intermediate grades. Combine several different operations at once, use larger numbers,  focus on fractions, percentages, and decimals. Study contractions, figures of speech, state capitols, the arts.

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 Contractions with plastic eggs ~ easy to match and then write on paper to show your work (Or, have an adult quickly check the eggs for accuracy before pulling apart and scrambling for the next center visitor.) 

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Middle And High School

This could easily continue with older kids too, but they might be too cool for it. Periodic table elements and symbols, anyone?!IMG_2571

Here are some other ideas:

  • Balancing chemical equations
  • Inventors and inventions
  • Famous literary quotes
  • Bible Verses
  • Sports teams and mascots
  • Metric Conversions
  • Foreign Language Vocabulary Terms

Adults

Oh no, I didn’t forget you!  Time for some EGGSERCISE!

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 Please share any other eggcellent eggucational ideas you have tried!

 

Why Children Should Color Outside the Lines

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A dear cousin gave Jake this beautiful piece of art when he was born. We promptly hung it in his room.

Fast forward 4 years to this St. Patrick’s Day craft we were doing.  Jake spent a lot of time working on his project, putting the colors in rainbow order. He would add a few dots in different spots “for creativity”, and I was cool with that.

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Then I ran upstairs to get the babies, came back down and found this:

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At first I was very upset.  His picture looked so good and now he had ruined it. (Shamefully, in the back of my mind I was thinking “ugggh, I was planning to post this picture on the blog!”)  I started to yell at him, then I looked at his face. Full of wide-eyed innocence he said “I was seeing what happens when I mixed it all up” with such pride in his voice.  After all, we do LOVE the book Mix It Up!

I took a step back and the words “color outside the lines” kept flashing in my mind.  I had a choice- berate him because his art didn’t look like the cookie-cutter example, while squashing his creativity, diminishing his confidence (he is a perfectionist, so this risk he took was HUGE), and quelling his curiosity OR smile, tell him I loved all of the colors he used and proceed with a science experiment on how long it will take to dry. (For the record, he immediately deduced that we should put it outside to dry faster. Furthermore, I neglected to put paper under it, left it in the rain, and now have a green-stained deck, but that’s beside the point.)

This simple project meant as a holiday decoration reminded me of all of the the things I want for my son.

I want him to take risks and be unafraid of failure.

I want him to to express his creativity and individuality without pressure to conform.

I want him to think outside the box without repercussion.

I want him to be spontaneous and have fun without holding back.

I want him to try new things without the constraints of perfectionism.

I want him to act with passion not restriction.

In the end, it was a lesson learned for all. He gained valuable art, science, fine motor, and personal growth experience, and I learned to let go of preconceived notions and just let him be.

Life doesn’t have to fit neatly between the lines. Color it any way you want!

P.S.   I still despise paint and did not enjoy the mess, but it is so very worth it.

Stroller Savvy I am

       Today is Theodor Seuss Geisel‘s Birthday. A beloved children’s author, celebrated by many, I thought we should join in on the fun. Having been sick all weekend, it was as basic and make-shift as could be. My childrens’ joy in this simple effort proved to me, yet again, that these gestures don’t have to be elaborate and can still be just as special.

       Last night, when I told my four-year-old that we were going to have a birthday party for Dr. Suess in the morning he got so excited. I explained that we were going to make green eggs for the celebration and since he loves to help, he asked how we were going to do that. After telling him we were going to use kale and spinach, a look of dismay came across his face. This angst was NOT because of the ingredients (we eat them all the time)-  rather it was because he couldn’t understand why we weren’t invited to the real party! (I didn’t have the heart to tell him that Dr. Suess passed away 24 years ago, or that even if he was living we most likely wouldn’t have been invited anyways.)

      There was a time when in order to make green eggs and ham I would have busted out the food coloring in order to dye them the correct hue. However, with our healthy eating lifestyle, I knew there had to be a better option. Thanks to one of my favorite blogs by Lisa Leake, I came across this easy nutritious recipe.  Fortunately we always have spinach or kale in our fridge and freezer (a daily staple in our smoothies). I didn’t have an onion so I subbed in garlic and omitted the butter. It was so incredibly simple- took no longer than it would have  to make our usual smoothie or scrambled eggs- and it was delicious!

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         As for the rest of the party, I quickly thawed out some frozen strawberries, sliced up a banana, and stacked them to make Dr. Suess hats. My son and I gathered some of our favorite Dr. Seuss books and together we read aloud as we ate our yummy, wholesome breakfast.

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          Never has a party been that simple and nutritious!

So in summary:                  

                                                           It’s Dr. Suess’s Birthday, so you say.                                                                                                              We weren’t invited, but had a party anyway!

                                                       We keep fresh produce in the house.                                                                We do not welcome any mouse.

                                                               We did not have any ham.                                                                          Certainly not Spam in a can.

                                                      So we made green eggs and party hats.                                                                                                          We read his books and laughed and laughed.

                                                          We read, we ate, we had fun.                                                                                                                                  A great healthy party for everyone.

                                                   We do so love green eggs and ham,                                                                                                                     Time to clean up- Stroller Savvy, I am 🙂

Even the most discerning firefighter loved it!

Even the most discerning firefighter loved it!

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The babies even joined in on the fun!

Put Your Heart Into It

This Valentine’s Day, save your money, spare your waistline and give a truly priceless gift- the gift of love and memories for the entire family. (Note, this works just as well whether you are single and dating or have a huge family). This idea is so simple, that even the artistically challenged like myself can quickly and easily execute it. What it lacks in difficulty it makes up for in its substantial benefits.

I plan to start this on February 1st, so that everyone will get a warm fuzzy each day leading up to Valentine’s Day. If this seems too daunting, you could always shorten the time frame to one week or even just a few days.

“Everybody likes a compliment.”   -Abraham Lincoln

1) Cut out 14 hearts for each family member. If you don’t remember how to cut out a symmetrical heart, channel your inner grade school self and take a trip down memory lane:

Valentine Blog Post

2) Write the person’s name on the bottom corner or back. You can assign a color to each family member or do it at random. I chose to color-code so it will be easier for the kids to hone in on their own hearts on the wall.

3) Put the hearts into a bin.      IMG_0824

4) Each day, have each person close their eyes and pull out a heart. (We plan to draw in the morning to give us the day to think about it and work on it as time permits.)

5) Write something on the heart that you love about that person. Try to be specific. Instead of “you are a great father”, say “when J needs help you patiently give him your undivided attention.” Obviously you will have to help younger children write, but let them provide the ideas. For the non-talkers, put yourself in their shoes and think about what they would say. (Daddy, I love when you hold me high in the air and make me feel so special. Sister, I love when we play blocks together. Brother, I love that sometimes you hug me in the middle of playing. )

“I can live for two months on a good compliment.” ~Mark Twain

4) Display it. I plan to post them after the kids go to sleep so they can wake up to see their new heart each morning. I chose to display it on a wall by the kitchen table where everyone is sure to see it at least three times per day. It doubles as an adorable seasonal decoration!

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Many simply do the project and stop at that. Have you ever considered what really goes into these seemingly basic ideas? This simple project benefits each person in so many ways. Not only do the warm fuzzies boost our egos and strengthen our love, but they also provide myriad other benefits. Here is a sampling:

Children:

Children thrive on positive reinforcement. They beam with pride upon receiving a compliment and it motivates them to keep doing those great things. Each day they will wake up in eager anticipation to see what compliment their new heart holds. Making the hearts for family members teaches them selflessness and thoughtfulness while further developing their writing, drawing, literacy, creativity, language development, and fine motor skills. The notes from siblings will validate them as big(little) brother(sister).
Today I asked my 4-year-old what he loved most about his little brother. As he pondered it, a slow smile crossed his face, and he emphatically drawled out, “everything!” <3

Babies:

Okay, I’m a realist, they will have no clue what is going on and will most likely try to eat it. But I promise, this WILL benefit them too. It will serve as a great memory source providing a glimpse back to what they were like at this moment in time. This is a great way to record the minutiae that may not get recorded in a journal or baby book. Instead of writing “you are sweet” to my baby girl, I am going to write “I love that you say ‘tank oooo’ when you hand us something”. When I look back years later, I will vividly remember her waddling up to us with a toy, handing it to us and saying “thank you”. It is also an opportunity for their older siblings to really look at them as people on the inside rather than just playmates. If they are able, let them hold a crayon and scribble on their heart to work on their grip, fine motor skills, focus, hand-eye coordination, and self-expression. Remember, they are little sponges at this age. They are just taking it all in, so continue to set good examples!

Adults:

Let’s face it, being parents is a pretty thankless job sometimes. And when you are caught up in the daily insanity of raising young children, the compliments don’t always roll off the tongue. (Can I get a ‘holla’ from anyone who has ever said “mmm, this dinner is good, isn’t it?” or “Did you see that I cleaned the house today?”) The sad truth for adults is that if you don’t ask for it, you don’t always get it. But a compliment is a compliment, so fish away! This will be a great way to show each other that we DO notice the little things and that we appreciate those just as much as the big ones. It will be insightful to hear how the kids see us and a great opportunity to share the unseen with one another (like how happy C looks when he is atop Daddy’s shoulders.) Perhaps this little project will rekindle something between us, as compliments and acknowledgements are something we desperately need to work on. Just the other day we were discussing how authentic our four-year-old’s compliments are (“Wow, you look AMAZING”) and how forced ours often seem. It will make us slow down and reflect on all of our blessings. It will warm our hearts to see the appreciation on our children’s faces. It will provide a creative outlet.

If done well, this project will capture a moment in time. It will provide memories that can’t be seen in a picture. I never want to forget that Tink makes a purring gurgling noise when we rock in the glider, that Cubbie stops whatever he is doing to run up to us with a huge hug and smile when we enter the room, or that Jake’s quick-witted comments crack us up daily.

When you finish them, and are ready to take down your Valentine decorations, remove them from the wall, and make them into a keepsake book.

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I feel like it is Christmas Eve. I am so excited to hear what they say about each other. I can hardly wait to get started on this tomorrow morning!

Seems much better than over-priced roses and chocolates, doesn’t it?

If you love them, ask.

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It is no surprise that in light of current events, news feeds are abuzz with articles, debates, strong opinions, and controversies. (Let me be INFINITELY clear that I do not plan to touch those subjects, nor will I allow commentary to turn accusatory or demeaning.) As a firm believer that everyone has a right to their opinions paired with a strong dislike for controversy, I never thought I would even come close to tiptoeing near some of these subjects, but a topic came up in one of my mommy circles that I felt needed to be addressed.

The discussion essentially revolved around the question of how to protect our children from less visible but extremely harmful things without seeming invasive or neurotic? We have all read heart-wrenching stories of children who accidentally shot themselves with unprotected firearms, or kids at a sleepover who died from a carbon-monoxide leak. Of course the measles outbreak is terrifying. Life IS scary. As much as we would like to keep our children in a bubble, we cannot protect them from everything. We can’t control the rest of the world, but there are measures we can take to protect our loved ones just a little bit more.

My response to the initial question is this: what is more important, your pride or having the unimaginable happen because you were too afraid to ask?

But asking is hard. It is awkward, and yes, people might take offense. However, if someone doesn’t want to be friends with my children or me because I asked if their firearms are secured, then I don’t really need to be their friend. Quite frankly, those people probably don’t want to be your friend either because they will find you “annoying” and “over-protective”.

There is a line, and only you as a parent can know where to draw it.

One suggestion was to make a questionnaire. It started with these two questions: 1) Are your children fully vaccinated? 2) Do you have guns in your house? If so, are they locked up?

The more I thought about it, more and more potential dangers popped in my head.

3) Do you lock your medicine cabinet? 4) Do you lock your liquor cabinet? 5) Are your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors working? 6) When kids are playing in the house, do you lock all of the exterior doors?

And then I got really carried away. 7) Do you dumpster dive and is that cake you are serving my child weeks old? There is a line, and only you as a parent can know where to draw it.

You are more than welcome to use these questions as a springboard for a survey or discussion to hold with your child’s friends’ parents (sister’s great uncle three times removed.) Pick and choose what is important to you. Now here’s the truly hard part: what are you going to do with the answers? Keep in mind, they may not be what you personally want to hear. It becomes your responsibility to decide what to do with that information. If your friend doesn’t vaccinate, will you still allow your kids to play with her kids? Will you avoid all public places? For me, there are certain things I am adamant about and others on which I am more flexible. It is truly a personal decision that only you can answer.

Yes, this is still awkward, but hopefully it will soon become the norm. I assure you, parents of children with life-threatening allergies will make their concerns infinitely clear to you and hand you an epi-pen without hesitation. Parents of children with peanut allergies rallied so far as to instigate peanut-free zones, and even entire schools. They have no shame because they are protecting their child. Well guess what? Everyone’s kid has an “allergy” to a misfired bullet. By asking whether their firearms are locked up you are not judging them for having them, but just ensuring your children, and theirs, are protected.

There are so many unknowns in life and as much as we want to, we cannot protect our children from everything.

God Grant Me the
Serenity
To accept the things
I cannot change
the
Courage
to change
the things I can
and the
Wisdom
to know the difference.
-Reinhold Niebuhr

While we cannot force change on other people’s viewpoints, we CAN control who our kids hang out with at a young age with the hopes of guiding them to make good choices when they are older. We CAN begin to normalize the act of asking the questions that are important to us with the hopes of it becoming more commonplace without repercussion or stigma. Above all, YOU can listen to your gut and heart; trust your instincts. When you do both, you are usually doing what is right for you and your family.

What suggestions do you have to help make it acceptable and less intimidating to ask these important questions? What are some other questions we should be asking?

Just Do It

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I am doing it. No more excuses. I just have to get this first article out there so that I can move forward with the millions of other articles and ideas I have stockpiled for years. It doesn’t have to be pretty, it doesn’t have to be insightful or life changing. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to say everything I want to say all at once.

It doesn’t have to tell you that I am a mother to three young children who recently up and moved across the country seeking new adventures and a fresh start on things.

It doesn’t have to tell you I have always loved writing and am making the commitment to carve time out for myself to do what I love. That I am writing just to write and if I inspire others along the way that is even better.

It doesn’t have to go into the details of why I have let fear, laziness, technological ineptitude, lack of time, etc. get in my way.

It doesn’t have to tell you that I want this blog to represent the things that consume me and that I hope to inspire you through my passions. That I consider parenting an umbrella term for just about anything (healthy eating and exercise, crafting ideas, play group minutiae, toddler truths, education, travel, home, finances, marriage, etc.). Or how being a mommy has impacted me emotionally, physically, intellectually, and spiritually.

It doesn’t have to tell you I’m a slight Pinterest addict who rarely actually does the projects… and that when I do they are mostly epic failures. That I get carried away with thoughts and ideas, but find it challenging to sit down and implement them.

It doesn’t have to tell you that I am a positive person who didn’t really start out that way.

It doesn’t have to tell you how far I am stepping out of my comfort zone to write on a public forum. How it took me about 9 years to warm up to the idea of Facebook or even a smart phone.

It just has to be written. No more excuses. So here it is, my first blog post. Maybe it will never look exactly how I want it. Maybe that’s the point. I am stroller savvy, not tech savvy. I need to just roll with life. I’m excited to get into the real writing, to see where this adventure leads. So here we go… I am pressing the publish button. I am also pressing the share and “like” buttons. If you want to join me on this journey and see where it takes us, please do the same.

Oh, and one more thing… I DID IT, now it is your turn! What is your thing? What have you been holding back for whatever reason? Just let go and fly.