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It’s that time of the year when we’re starting to plan for Christmas! If you have a space-obsessed little one like me, I have TONS of gift ideas for you to save you time and energy so you don’t have to do all the searching and researching that I’ve already done. Here is this astro-mom’s gift guide to buying the best gifts for your future astronaut or budding astronomer!
What’s an astronaut without his/her suit?! This is a staple item in Finn’s wardrobe. There are weeks when I’ve had to wait for Finn to go to swim class to wash it because he wouldn’t take it off!
Recently, Finn learned that astronauts wear their orange suits for launches and landings – apparently, this makes them easier to spot if they have to make an emergency crash landing (yikes!). He’s informed me that he “needs” an orange astronaut suit in his wardrobe.
So, what does an astronaut wear when they’re just hanging out in the space station? Or when they’re back on earth, doing regular earthling things like eating breakfast or playing with their monster trucks? They gotta have their official NASA shirts, obviously.
Finn has several astronaut t-shirts, but his favorite is an Old Navy NASA tank top that was handed down to us by a friend. But here’s some super sweet tees for your space obsessed kiddos. I’m partial to the retro NASA t-shirt – if I had a daughter, I’d totally get the “Forget princess, I want to be an astronaut” shirt!
These are some of Finn’s favorites. If your kid loves space AND LEGOs, there are tons of options here. Finn loves his Mars Rover and Space Shuttle LEGO sets. If we had unlimited patience (and an unlimited budget) we would get the International Space Station and Saturn V rocket sets as well.
I’m very excited to share this guest post about clean living with you from my friend Leslie at Faithful Motherhood. For me, living with chronic pain made me desperate for solutions. One thing that has made a difference is watching what products come into my home and my body. After years of figuring out what works for me and my family, my food, cleaning products and skin care routine is simpler, cleaner and greener. However, this process can be overwhelming and paralyzing if you don’t know where to start. I’m thankful for Leslie walking us through some simple steps to take for a cleaner life! Leslie blogs at Faithful Motherhood, where she writes about faith, motherhood and clean living.
If you’re a mom in the year 2020, chances are you’ve heard the term “clean.” As awareness grows, it seems like there are “clean” options all over the place — making us feel like the world is full of toxic chemicals and imploring us to buy a million extra over-priced products to ensure the health and safety of our families.
We spiral down the rabbit hole and find ourselves with overwhelming choices, spending more money than we have, and being fearful of even washing our hands in public bathrooms… And then, because we are rational people with real lives, this usually lands us in a spot where we question whether all the extra effort is worth it and usually end up exclaiming, “My mom used all the toxic chemicals and we turned out OK, so what’s the big deal?!”
Here’s the thing. As a granola-ish mama, I’ll be the first to tell you that “clean living,” is, in fact, important.
Since the chemical boom of the 1960’s, more than 80,000 new chemicals have entered the industry with very little testing for safety. In the personal care industry alone, the US bans a mere 30 harmful ingredients while the EU bans 1500 and Canada bans 600. These chemicals have proven impacts on our hormonal health, fertility, risk of cancer, and more.
However, as a mother of two young babes, operating on a *very* limited income, I can also relate to the paralyzing feelings we get when the noise of the “clean” industry starts to crowd our anxiety and stretch our wallets.
The good news is that I have found a way to be an informed consumer, make healthier choices for my family, and feel confident about the safety of the world I’m cultivating in my home without my husband coming home to find me hiding in the pantry rocking in the fetal position.
I’m here to share some insights I’ve learned in my journey to clean living so you don’t have to jump through all the hoops I did. I hope you’ll walk away empowered to make healthier choices without getting wrapped up in the overwhelming noise of the clean living world.
I have learned that despite the noise imploring you to complicate your life, one of the best things you can do on your journey to “clean” is actually to simplify.
Our church is going through a Bible reading plan together this year and right now we are reading the book of James. A passage in James 1 resonated with me and challenged me to my core about finding joy in trials. It led me to this Bible study on more verses about trials and hardships.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.
When I read this verse, one question kept coming to my mind:
Why on earth would I consider it joy to go through hardships?!
One of the first things I did was look up exactly what this word ‘joy‘ means. In this verse, joy is the Greek word charan which can be translated joy, gladness, a source of joy. My favorite definition was “a calm delight.”
Again, I wondered, why would I be delightfully calm during hardships?! And…how?
It’s officially fall! And here in Florida, it’s starting to feel like it, too. The mornings are a breezy 70 degrees, which means here in Tampa we’ve got our boots and scarves on!
Sort of. 😉
For most of us, fall means all things pumpkin, maple and apple! I’m excited to share this delicious pumpkin steel cut oats recipe with you. Not only does it fulfill the need for pumpkin spice, it’s got a lot of inflammation fighting power, it’s filling and it’s super flavorful.
One of the hardest things for me to deal with on a regular basis is interruption. As in: I have a plan for the day, and it’s going to look a certain way, but then something (or someone) comes along and interrupts that plan. And I have to either let go of my plans and pivot or I have to fight hard against the interruption in order to return to my original plans (and usually fail). I typically end up frustrated and flustered.
What would Jesus do?
This made me think about how Jesus would handle interruptions. I love how God works because literally the day after I was wondering about this, I happened to read this story in Matthew 14. It’s right after John the Baptist (Jesus’ cousin) gets beheaded, and Jesus is attempting to go away to a solitary place (presumably) to mourn. And, He gets interrupted…
Read along with me to see how Jesus handled his plans of solitude going up in smoke.
For today’s blog post, I’ll be sharing a letter from my dear friend, Mrs. Richardson. Mrs. Richardson is a second grade teacher in Cary, North Carolina. She has written an insightful and encouraging letter to parents about how the COVID-19 pandemic affected the 2019-2020 school year, what challenges teachers faced and how schools are fighting to overcome those challenges for the 2020-2021 school year. So, if you are sending your children back to school this year – whether virtually or in-person – I hope you’ll read this letter.
How COVID affected the 2019-2020 school year – and what will be different this year
During March of this year, teachers and students left school for Spring Break, not knowing we wouldn’t return for the rest of the school year. I have the last day in my classroom ingrained in my memory. I tried to make it fun for the kids. We did St. Patrick’s day activities, creative writings about what they would do if they found a pot of gold, Read and Feed, and watched the Bee Movie since we had been learning about flowers, pollination, and the plant life cycle.
These are the last images I have of my classroom. Everything frozen in time. Student work left on the walls, supply baskets strewn about as they had left them, countdowns on my board of things we would never get to. A time capsule of March 13, 2020.
Today’s devotional is about why you should read your Bible – and, more specifically, why you should read the Bible more often than not. I know that we are all busy mamas, but I hope you’ll grant me a few minutes to convince you why reading our Bibles is so critical. If you’re already reading your Bible daily, I pray that this will encourage you to keep going and to help others to do the same!
#1: Reading the Bible changes our lives.
Listen to this incredible 2-minute video from Messenger International about what happens to us when we read our Bibles four or more times per week:
When we are reading our Bibles more often than not, it changes us. When we open our hearts and minds to God’s powerful words, we are allowing God to transform us.
This is called repentance. And, no, I’m not talking about beating yourself up after you sin. Repentance comes from the Greek term “metanoia.” Meta = change. Noia = mind. Metanoia means a changed mind. A new mind. When we are engaging our minds in God’s Word, it transforms our mindset, our way of thinking. And when our minds are changed, our lives change, too.
In this post, I want to share with you how to do a DIY project with your preschooler. If you’re like me, whenever you’re refinishing a dresser or building a bookshelf, your first instinct when your little one comes around is to shoo them away. However, involving them in household projects is SO good for them and it can be a fun, bonding experience if we allow it!
Recently, Finn and I had so much fun with this DIY furniture painting project! We’ve had an unstained bench in our entryway for a few years now, but I recently decided to update that space. Originally, I’d planned to paint it white, but when I brought it up to Finn, he said, “Why don’t we paint it red? Like a fire station?” So, that’s what we did!
You might be wondering…Why in the world would you want to do a DIY project with a preschooler?!
If I wanted to get something like this done without my kids, I’d have to do it while they’re asleep or when someone is watching them. And I’m going to be honest, that’s just not how I want to spend my free time. Because of my chronic pain, I usually need to spend nap times resting/taking it easy or at least not doing something that would put strain on my joints. And sanding/painting/moving furniture is not very nice to your hands when your joints are prone to swell.
It’s good for him. It teaches him several useful, real-life skills. He has to follow instructions. It takes quite a bit of fine motor skills. It’s bonding. It’s fun. It builds his confidence in amazing ways. To be able to look at something in the house and say, “I helped put that together!” is a unique, wonderful experience for anyone – especially a child.
Yes, it did test my patience at times. There were, of course, things I had to do without him. But the end result was something we were proud of – and had created together! This is a big confidence booster for a kid (or an adult!).
So, if there’s a DIY project you want to do but haven’t done it because you have a preschooler sticking their nose in everything, maybe this will give you the confidence to let them assist you!
Here’s some tips for your next DIY project with your preschooler:
Prep in advance: lay down a drop cloth, get the paint and other tools ready, and get your mind ready! Ha!
Have an “obedience” talk: I typically have some version of this conversation before we do activities that could get messy or require him to pay attention more than usual. I make sure there’s no distractions, have him look me in the eye and say something along the lines of: “I need you to make sure you listen to my instructions and wait for me to tell you what to do.” I make sure he understands what we’re doing and if there’s anything potentially dangerous (or if there’s something I simply don’t want splattered across the house!)
Don’t do something that’s undoable: paint can be stripped, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend painting your front door with your preschooler!
Protect them: this goes without saying, but make sure you’re aware of what could be harmful or toxic to your child. Have them wear protective gear (mask, gloves, eyewear) if necessary. With most DIY projects, there are chemicals involved that children shouldn’t really be around. For example, I applied polyacrylic coating during Finn’s nap because I didn’t want him inhaling those fumes, even with a mask!
Give clear instructions and do it with them first: sometimes I’m guilty of assuming my kids know how to do things that I don’t remember learning. When I first handed Finn a paintbrush, instead of brushing the paint on the bench, he hit the bench with the bristles, as if he were hammering the paint into the wood. So I demonstrated how to paint and then took his hand in mine and showed him how to do it. He still wanted to hammer the paint in too, but I made sure he did it AWAY from me!
Trust them: part of the process of our children growing up is learning how to do things independently. Once we show them how to do something and then assist them in doing it, it’s time to let them try on their own. Most likely, they’ll “fail” in some way or another – but what matters is that they’re trying, they’re learning and they’re creating new neural pathways in their growing brains! At some point, we have to trust our children to do tasks on their own – and I think you’ll be surprised by how happy and confident this will make them.
Praise them: make sure you’re not just correcting them whenever they are learning a new task, or this will discourage them. Of course they need you to teach them how to perform the task correctly (or at least mostly correctly! Ha!) but don’t forget to praise them for their effort, their creativity, the fact that they’re being brave by trying something new, etc. It always surprises me how much my children bloom when they’re praised.
Take a deep breath: when you add children to most any project, it complicates things. It won’t go exactly the way you want it to go, and that’s OK. Take a deep breath, count to ten, take a break – whatever you need to do in order to be in a good mental space, do it.
Enjoy the process: relish the bonding experience between you and your child as you create something new! Not only is this an enjoyable memory, but you also have an “artifact” of that memory: your DIY project! This is so special and will make your child feel special, too.
I hope that next time you have a DIY project around the house, you include your little one in the process! Make sure you tag me on Insta with the end result. 😉
Today I’m going to share with you one of my favorite anti-inflammatory diet meals: my Easy Mexican Cauliflower Rice Bowl. This is another crowd-pleaser in our house. The boys eat it up with a big spoon!
Reasons why I love this Easy Mexican Cauliflower Rice Bowl:
It’s sneakily healthy – swapping out cauliflower rice for white or even brown rice means that you’re eating lots of veggies in each bite…and you don’t even know it!
It’s a simple, quick weeknight recipe. I typically make a double (or even triple) batch of this during the week and it’ll take me less than 30 minutes from beginning to end. Cauliflower rice cooks so quickly and you can just throw all the ingredients together!
This is a low-carb, low-calorie option if you’re looking for go-to low-carb or low-cal recipes!
It’s versatile – I can easily make this meal with shredded chicken, ground beef or turkey, or vegetarian. I’ve also easily swapped cooked white rice for the cauliflower rice when making this for large groups (with people who may or may not like cauliflower rice!) and it’s so yum.
My boys love it – Tyler loves this recipe because it’s super filling while also being low-calorie. Both Finn and Justus will gobble this down as soon as I put it on their plates.
Toppings galore – this dish is easily personalized depending on what toppings you like. I love to put avocado, an extra squeeze of lime juice and more cilantro on mine. Tyler appreciates covering it in cheese and sour cream, and Finn does all of the above! Whatever your eaters like, this meal can offer it.
How to cook cauliflower rice
There are three options for making cauliflower rice:
Buy cauliflower heads, chop them and put them in a food processor to make the “rice.” This is the most time-intensive option.
Buy a pre-chopped cauliflower head. With this option, the cauliflower is already “riced” for you. Typically you can find this in the produce section where you would find other bags of pre-chopped vegetables. This is the simplest, quickest option.
Buy frozen cauliflower rice. This option allows you to save the cauliflower rice for longer – I usually buy a large bag from Costco so I can use it whenever I want to. However, it takes slightly longer to cook all the way through (about 10 minutes instead of 5).
Any of these options work – obviously if you want to rice the cauliflower yourself, it will take longer. Also, if you purchase fresh cauliflower (either a whole cauliflower head or a bag of fresh cauliflower rice) it will cook quicker than the frozen cauliflower rice.