Friday, December 11, 2020

Gavin's First Sleepover: Not Your Average Slumber Party with Camp F.L.Y

I think I'm speaking for ALL the parents when I say it has been [ahem] creative coming up with ways to entertain the kids in 2020.  Confessing that I've relied on electronics in those dark days and have also gotten super-mom creative on other days.  Hey, it's a balance, right?

Summer was a little easier to navigate with outdoor playdates, beach trips, and pool time, but as we navigate these cold months it's certainly a constant challenge to keep the kids entertained.  What's more exciting than a classic (upgraded) slumber party for kids to bond?!

My son, Gavin, is SO in love with building forts and "camping."  When I found out about Camp FLY, I was SO excited to explore their sleepover parties for Gavin and his best friend.  It was absolutely way beyond my expectations.  Because it was Gavin's FIRST sleepover, it was a big deal and boy were the kids impressed.

Camp F.L.Y. has many different themes to choose from depending on the child's interest and age.  From princess slumber parties to Camping in the Woods, there is something for everyone.  They even do ADULT slumber parties which is such a fun alternative to going out these days, especially this year!

To check out their packages, take a peek at their options here.

I think ALL the Moms will agree the absolute best part of their service is NO set-up or clean-up.
They literally do everything for you.  Each child receives their very own teepee to sleep in with all the trimmings.  Camp F.L.Y. takes care of every detail--planning, setup, decor, pickup-- and provide an experience that your kids will never forget!

Don't forget to check them out on social media!! Here is their Insta!

They also have just a COUPLE spots left for their special Camp Fire Christmas setup! 

Three nights for the price of one!! $199 from December 23rd through December 26th. (local only)

3 spots left for Winter Wonderland theme 3 spots left for The Nightmare Before Christmas theme

Ever After,

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Moms of School-age Children: We Are Not OK.. But We Will Be

    As I prepared my 5-year old son for kindergarten earlier this year, I should have been excited about him entering a new stage of education and life.  It's bittersweet that he is going to "real" school and he will learn so much and grow up so much in one year.
Then, I think about everything, as moms and parents and grandparents that we have lingering over our minds when it comes to children going to school.  It's devastating to think about what my generation has witnessed happening to children. Sorry, millennial-haters.  This millennial-mom generation does not have it easy. 
    In my home state, Connecticut, an entire kindergarten class was killed during school in Sandy Hook which is generally a safe, beautiful place to live. When I was in elementary school, I remember doing fire drills and then going along my merry way straight to the playground.  It's sad that at 2 years old, my son was taught how to lock a door with a belt to protect the class from intruders.

It's also sad that my child may not be able to have lunch with his friends and has to constantly ask me, "Is the Virus gone yet?"

Every single decision we make, we know we have to think cautiously about the lives and well-being of our children and the health and safety of others.  We worry about their safety when we should feel at peace that they are safe in school.  We worry about our children's health from spreading viruses and about their mental health, which is increasingly rising among young children.  In fact, the current pre-teen/teen suicide has tripled since previous generations according to Psychology Today.  Studies show that the main stressors affecting children's mental health are triggered by events like school shootings, racial discrimination, and sexual assault.  I'm sure as we look back on 2020, we will see that medical pandemics have a huge effect on our children's mental health as well.

    With such easy access to any content, news, or media outlet it's almost impossible to keep children away from the news of these triggered events.
In addition, The New York Times reported that for smaller toddlers and babies, masks may be delaying their communication development since they cannot pick up on visual clues.  

“Masks are not a great thing for communication in young kids,” Dr. Lewkowicz said. On the other hand, he said, the time children spend at home with people who are not masked will give them a chance to practice picking up the visual cues.

As moms and caretakers in this generation, we are constantly hoping that we are making the best decision, calculating every risk factor whether it be physical health, mental well-being, and developmental progress.  As we continue to navigate these times, be respectful of each other's decisions and do not be quick to judge the kid without a mask (there may be a reason) or the Mom that never leaves the house.  Know that these decisions are never made lightly.

School shootings, viruses, addiction, mental health issues, and racial discrimination are all on my Mom-brain, however, it is important to not let our fears get too consuming.  Even if it's not in person, check on the people you love.  Help each other, be kind, and in the words of Danny Gokey: "Love God and Love People."

Ever After,

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

5 At-Home Easter Activities for Kids

5 at home Easter Activities for Kids

1.  Easy Coconut Macaroons.  Seriously a yearly favorite + so cute for the kids!  They can also be made gluten-free which is a plus and so easy to make with kids. You can find the recipe here.

2.  Paint rocks for your garden or backyard.  We celebrate the resurrection of Jesus on Easter as a family and these adorable rocks were a great way to spread our love and joy during lent with positive faith-based and family messages.  Another fun idea is to place them at a local park to spread positive messages.

3.  Bunny baskets from toilet paper rolls.  God knows we are home a lot more often and although toilet paper is like gold right now.. why not re-purpose those empty rolls and make adorable bunny baskets?  They made great egg holders. You can find instructions here.

4. Shaving cream Easter eggs.  One of my favorite activities growing up was painting and decorating Easter eggs.  My mom and I loved to get creative and in the 90's there wasn't all these fun ready-to-go kits like they have now!  I love this take on at-home creativity with a new take on painting Easter eggs?  Add in some fun texture with shaving cream to marble the color on the eggs.. they come out awesome.  Here is the link for full instructions.

DIY shaving cream marbled easter eggs

5.  Custom bunny cards for Grandma + Grandpa.  We know social distancing has gotten your kiddos away from their loved ones.. how sweet are these hand-made bunny crafts?  All you need is glue, cotton balls, small paper plates and markers.  

Ever After,

Monday, March 16, 2020

I had everything I ever wanted: My Postpartum Depression Story

Post Partum depression photo

I had everything I had ever wanted.  The big house with an in-ground pool, a successful and loving husband, a six-figure career, a beautiful healthy 3-year-old-boy and then it got EVEN BETTER.  I prayed and prayed for a little girl and then I was pregnant with a baby girl.

I had everything I ever wanted.

On October 20th, 2018, I was ready to meet my little miracle that I prayed so hard for.  Finally after an exhausting (but thankfully, healthy) pregnancy, I was having contractions and was going to meet my baby girl.  I was so excited and since I had already went through this once before I was way less scared this time around.  I got this.. I am a mom-warrior.   I've been through this pain before and I am going to hold my baby girl TODAY.  It couldn't get any better.

I had everything I ever wanted.

A healthy baby girl.. she was just perfect!  Breastfeeding went easy.. she latched immediately.  I had always read the struggles of moms who could not breastfeed, who had traumatic births.  Not me, everything went perfectly smooth, breastfeeding was a breeze, she was perfect.  I was so blessed.

quote about post partum depression

I'll never forget the moment when Savannah was sleeping the first night in the little hospital bassinet and I was alone because my husband went to stay at home with my 3 yr old son.  I looked at the hospital walls and looked over at my perfectly healthy baby and all I could think about was how much I missed my son.  That emotion scared me because everyone said, "oh your heart will grow bigger and you will just have room for more love."  Pings of guilt tingled my body and I remember staring at the dark hospital room as if it was closing in on me.  I'm not like those other moms, I thought.  My heart didn't grow bigger... I miss my son.

We took Savannah home and in true Jamie-fashion, I did what I do best, buried my own self-disappointment and powered on.  I had a baby to breastfeed + nurture, a 3-yr-old that missed his Mommy, a husband to love and a high-pressure career to get back to in a few weeks.  I remember going to Savannah's first Dr.'s appointment and filling out a sheet asking if I had thoughts of sadness, if I wanted to hurt myself, etc etc... NOPE, not me... I'm a blessed mother with 2 beautiful children.. no room for sadness.  I did this one before, I can do it again," I coached myself.  That's the thing about running from feelings, we deceive ourselves into "powering on," and I soon realized that my soul was running on a empty tank.

I had been back at work for a few months and truly, I had no time for feelings.  I had too much to do to be sad, disappointed or to even feel at all.  I had breast milk to pump, proposals to do, Lego castles to build, dinner to cook, my baby to hold, laundry to fold, phone calls to make, Dr's appointments to attend, lunches to prepare.

My mind was a bunch of scrolling thoughts rather than feelings: Is my baby eating enough- she's only in the 30th percentile.  Does my son miss me- I'm spending too much time with the baby.  Will I ever lose the baby weight?  Does my boss think I am performing less because I am behind at work.  Will I ever get sleep again.  Am I holding my baby too much?  Am I feeding my son too much junk?  What if I can't keep up at work?  Will I ever get my energy back?  Can I even handle 2 kids?  Will I ever feel normal again?

I was 9 months postpartum and was hanging by a thread. I never wanted to hurt myself or my baby (thankfully because many women suffer from these thoughts as well) but in those sleepless nights, I would finally doze off and wake in frozen terror with an image of my baby suffocating in her pack n play next to me.  These images felt so real and although I would wake up, have coffee, and power on to work, the darkness of those heavy thoughts weighed on my soul.  As much as I tried to run away from my own thoughts, I knew that I couldn't live like that any longer.

 I had everything I had ever wanted. That's the craziest thing about postpartum depression that people cannot fathom.  You literally are juxtaposed with the greatest joy in your entire life yet cannot even experience that joy.  It is like being one number off of hitting the jackpot.  It's so close and SO real but you just cannot touch it.

The moment I came to terms that "I was not OK" was the first process to healing. My husband was so supportive and although he couldn't understand what I was going through, encouraged me to get help.  He drove me to my OB's office and the second I saw my doctor, I started balling.  I sat in his chair and he said, "Do you know how many women have sat in that very chair and broke down?"  It comforted me in a weird way to know I was not alone.   I left there with a prescription and a referral to a therapist and the healing began.  The healing is still happening and my daughter is 15 months!

It has been one of the most challenging things in my life because although I always had a mild anxiety disorder, I had never experienced depression.  It gave me a whole knew sense of mercy for people who experience depression.  The misconception that postpartum depression only happens right after you have the baby is very false as well.  My OB told me that many women can go symptom-free until up to a year!

During this time of mental healing, I found that there is growth in darkness.   A seed must be buried in dirt in order to grow.  Although I suffered pain and hopelessness, I also learned a lot about myself and a lot about what I wanted the next 10 years to look like.  I didn't want to run on empty anymore.  I didn't want to just survive anymore... I wanted to thrive.

I readjusted my priorities in life and committed time to the things that I knew would bring me back to who I really wanted to be.  I started to commit more time for daily prayer, being more open about my feelings, and created a more balanced lifestyle where I can be more present with my family.

If you happen to stumble upon my story of postpartum depression, remember that sometimes you are being planted, not buried.  As mothers, we constantly try to keep our own struggles stifled and sometimes we need help.  Do not be ashamed of what you are going through because many before you have suffered and many ahead of you will as well.  True courage is getting the help you need.  PLEASE reach out to me if you need some guidance-- that is the very first step to getting better!

Ever After,

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Kid's Valentine ♥ Healthier Snacks for Sugar-Filled Holidays

Let's face it, as moms we give in around candy-themed holidays.  Grandparents and well-meaning friends alike run to the opportunity to share sweets during Holidays such as Valentine's Day, Easter, Christmas.
If your child is like mine, a little sugar goes a looong way, especially when these evil candies have dyes in them which makes my 4 year old boy almost intolerable (anyone else?!)  Not to mention all the studies linking several dyes to ADHD, ADD and hyperactivity in children.

However, I get the appeal and don't want the kids missing out on the fun.  I had my share of sugar-filled candies and heart-sprinkles cupcakes as a kid so what's a mom to do?

I find that children are attracted to designs and colors and just love a good theme!  The prettier the food display, the more like they are to get excited and enjoy it so I came up with a couple healthy options to not be the Grinch who stole Valentine's day.

1. Make fruit pretty by decorating the plate into shapes to get kids excited about fruits + veggies.

2. Use cookie cutters to cut fruit, bread and other snacks.

3. Instead of using syrups or food coloring, try using natural food dyes to make things like strawberry milk or smoothies.  Swap the dyes + syrups with beets, strawberries, raspberries and other whole foods.

healthy snack ideas Valentine's

Heart-shaped Toast with Rasberry Jam

I buy Organic Sprouted bread from Aldi's and my kids love it.  Not to mention it is way cheaper than other organic sprouted bread at under $3!  The kids are fine with organic jam and although they have sugar, it's at least not loaded with dyes and extra loads of refined sugar.

Heart-shaped fruit salad

I use a simple cookie cutter for the shapes.. I found a super cute + cheap set on Amazon

Heart-shaped protien pancakes

TIP: can make in advance and freeze so you have an easy grab + go breakfast always

I love to add a little protein to pancakes with almond butter to sneak it in for the kids.  My go-to healthy pancake recipe is as follows:

  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose almond flour
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 ¼ cups dairy or non-dairy milk 
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 tbsp almond butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Place the rolled oats in a blender until the oats reach a fine, powdery consistency.
  1. Add the almond purpose flour, coconut sugar, ground cinnamon, salt and baking powder and combine.
  1. Add the milk, egg, butter and vanilla extract and pulse until combined.
  1. If the batter is to thick, add more milk (1 tablespoon at a time) and pulse until it reaches the right consistency.
  1. Lightly grease a non stick skillet with melted butter or coconut oil.
  1. Heat the skillet over medium heat until hot.
  1. Drop 1/8 cup of batter for each pancake onto the hot skillet.
  1. Cook until  bubbles begin to form on the top.
  1. Carefully flip the pancakes and cook on the other side 60- 90 seconds or until cooked through.
  1. Serve warm with fresh berries.

Ever After,

Monday, January 20, 2020

A Dose of Real Life: An Open Letter to My Daughter

I'm not a size 0 and that's OK.  Truth is, the only time I was ever a size 0 was in High school and I was doing extreme dieting to the point where my mom made me watch a Lifetime movie about a girl who dies from Anorexia.  It worked.

Now that I have a daughter, I want to pass on the unconditional love that my mom always reinforced in me.  My mom taught me healthy eating habits at a young age so that it wasn't about being skinny, but about being healthy.

A simple yet powerful message for my daughter:

Dear Savannah,

Whether you are a size zero and naturally skinny (like Daddy) or have always been a little curvy (like Mommy), I want you to know that God made you just the way you are in his image. (Genesis 1:27)  Your innate body type was designed for you and all you have to do is nourish your body with amazing food and exercise to be the best version of you.  My hope for you is that you don't start dieting at 12 because you have natural hips forming or you don't feel inadequate because your body isn't developing yet.  My hope is that you look at food as fuel and medicine rather than obsess over diets and calorie-counting.  I hope you never spend a dime on plastic surgery or on diet pills (Do you know how many pairs of shoes you can do with that money?!)  I hope you look in the mirror and always see yourself the way I see you.

I hope you never find your worth in the size of your jeans, the size of your bra, or the size of your waist- but only the size of you heart. 

You do not need bigger boobs.

You do not need to starve yourself.

You do not need to waist train to look like a Kardashian.

You do not need to gain weight to look more "feminine."

 I hope you use your beauty for good and and radiate your light to others with confidence.  You will always be beautiful and you will always be "you" and there is never a competition with others.  How amazing it will be if you and your friends lift each other up and support one another while strengthening each other's self-worth.  

After you have a baby, I hope you smile at your stretch marks and go easy on yourself.  Your body is a beautiful, miracle-maker and how blessed you are to have experienced the most amazing gift a mother could ever ask for.  I hope you look at your body as a strong, beautiful miracle that not only carried around children but continues to carry on the strength to rock your babies to sleep, give them horsey-back rides, and push them high on a swing-set.

I hope you don't loathe the changes of your body after breastfeeding.  Know that your body has nourished your babies with the most amazing gift you can ever give them.  Isn't your body simply amazing that it can create and sustain life on it's own?!  

I hope you spend way more time laughing, hugging, and traveling than you do looking in the mirror.  I hope you always know you are beautiful, you are strong and most of all, you are so LOVED. 


Ever After,