November 30, 2015

Creative Christmas Cards - Quiz

Every year we like to send out a letter with our christmas picture letting our friends and family know how life is going for us. And every year we try to come up with a creative way to do so.

Great ideas for creative and unique christmas cards!

So you know how there are all those quizzes running around the internet, such as "which Disney princess are you?" etc . . . We decided to do one for our family. It went something like this:

Which (enter last name) Family Member are you? Take the quiz to find out!

What would you do on a snow day?
a) what's a snow day?
b) sleep in
c) organize your brothers into a performing group
d) play the lead role in "Harry Potter- the opera"
e) bundle up and go sledding
f) dress up as a chicken

During lunchtime you are most likely to be:
a) what's lunchtime?
b) eating food off your children's plates
c) trying to navigate the politics of the middle school lunchroom
d) sitting with the 5th grade girls
e) walking around and eating with your mouth open
f) dressed as a ninja

What do you like to do during your free time?
a) what's free time?
b) blog, read, and pretend the house is already clean
c) read and play on your iPod
d) build things
e) play games you invented in the basement
f) pretend to be a power ranger

You laugh hardest when:
a) people ask what you like to do in your free time
b) your kids say funny things like "what's for dinner?"
c) your mother dances in public
d) your unsuspecting brothers fall for your evil plans
e) you tell your own punny jokes
f) people "pass gas"

We had about 8 questions on the front, and then on the back we told them who they were most like. It read something like this:

If you answered mostly "C":
Congratulations! You are Maren - "the leader". You jut turned 12 years old and entered 6th grade. You have a strong desire to do what is right and act above your years. Some may call you bossy, while others would say you have emerging leadership skills. You are an excellent musician, excelling in your violin playing. You are also a very creative writer. Your room is always a mess but you are too busy with schoolwork and reading to clean it up.

If you answered mostly "F":
Congratulations! You are Nathan - "The Hilarious". You turned 5 in September and started preschool in the fall. You love dressing up and create your own imaginative costumes. Everything you hold magically becomes a sword. You love drumming and pretending to play the electric guitar. You are incredibly cute but since you growl at people who tell you so (which is also kind of cute) they just call you "fierce". You make your family laugh a lot.

After all the explanations, we ended with:

No matter which one of us you are most like, all of us love all of you! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

It was a good card.

Be sure to read our other Creative Christmas Card ideas.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this post, you can follow me on FacebookPinterestTwitter, and Instagram, or subscribe to receive occasional emails.

You may also enjoy our other Christmas posts and gift lists:

Unique Christmas Stocking stuffers

Creative Toys for Creative Kids

November 23, 2015

Favorite Christmas Picture Books

Some people like to wrap up Christmas books and let their kids open one each night to read together. I tried this once, and decided it was a terrible idea. Some books need reading more than once, and what if your favorite Christmas book sits in the pile unopened until Christmas Eve and you only get to read it aloud once during the Christmas season? Not going to work for this family. We lasted five days and then opened the rest and just read and read and read. Reading aloud Christmas books is one of my favorite holiday activities.

Great list of books to read aloud with kids during the holiday season to help your family get in the Christmas spirit!

We have amassed quite the collection in the 13 years since I've had children. Here is a list of some of our favorites, both secular and religious. Unfortunately, Christmas books don't always stay in print, so as I went to recommend some of my favorites I found that you can now only buy them used! So some of our favorites are not on this list. I tried to only include ones that are still in print.

(these are affiliate links)

The Stable Where Jesus Was Born

And I know at this time of year, people like to put together lists of holiday activities for advent calendar fun with the kids. This year I've decided to simplify:

Because what more do you need? Great list of books to read aloud with kids during the holiday season to help your family get in the Christmas spirit!

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this post, you can follow me on FacebookPinterestTwitter, and Instagram, or subscribe to receive occasional emails.

You may also enjoy our other Christmas posts and gift lists:

Unique Christmas Stocking stuffers

Creative Christmas Letter Ideas

Creative Toys for Creative Kids

November 19, 2015

To the Mom of a Colicky Baby

My daughter turns 13 next week, and I've been thinking about her baby years, as is common when our little ones reach milestones. I tease her by telling her that I'm so excited that she's turning 3 and wouldn't it be fun to have a fairy princess party. For some reason she doesn't like that. I guess I'm in a bit of denial.

Her baby months were hard. So super hard. She was my first. I had no idea what was going on. Being a mom overwhelmed me. I had a little human being I was responsible for all the time with no breaks. And she was not what I was expecting.

Recently I met a man whose wife was dealing with a colicky baby at home and was struggling. I just wanted to give her a hug and tell her it would all be okay in the end, but I couldn't, so I'm writing this post instead, so she knows that she is not alone. Having a colicky baby is hard, and sometimes reading about other people's similar experiences can be comforting, so I hope this post helps those who are going through what I went through almost 13 years ago.

Colicky babies are so hard! But you are not alone.

I had heard that newborns slept a lot. Nobody told Maren. She liked to cry instead. She cried ALL THE TIME. Nothing was wrong with her, but she just wouldn't sleep unless she was being held, and only then after LONG sessions of bouncing and rocking and walking. And we couldn't put her down. She would wake up as soon as she was put down and then the crying would start again. She would nurse for a crazy long time, then rest in our arms for 30 minutes, then wake up and want to nurse again. I was going crazy. I thought I was a terrible mother and what was I doing wrong? I cut out so many things from my diet, thinking maybe that would help. We gave her drops that were supposed to help with gas, but we didn't know if that's what it was (and they didn't seem to help). We thought maybe she wasn't getting enough food so we supplemented with formula but that didn't help either. We thought maybe it was colic, but I had read that colicky babies would cry for extended periods of time at night. Maren cried ALL DAY LONG.  Finally at about 3 or 4 months things settled down and we got into a good nap routine, but it was a rough start to parenthood.

If you are going through something similar, I want you to know that things will get better. It seems like the crying will never end, but eventually it will. And no, you're not going to be able to enjoy the newborn phase (as I hear some people do) but the next stage will be that much better because the screaming will be gone and you will feel such relief!

Don't take it personally. You're not doing anything wrong. Some babies just have a harder adjustment into life for whatever reason. And don't hold it against her. She's not being bad on purpose. Just accept that this is how life will be for a few months. I found with my second colicky baby that it was easier to deal with because I knew it would end. I would talk to him in a silly voice while he was screaming and say things like "someday you are going to be so sorry for screaming at me all the time". Sometimes I would sing and dance around the house while holding him as he cried. Choosing to not take it personally really helped me not be angry at my child.

It's okay to put the baby down in another room and let her scream. Really, it is. If you need a break, take it. If I knew Maren was fed, had a clean diaper, and I had already given her plenty of attention and she was still screaming, I would put her down in her crib and let her cry for a while. You'll read lots of things telling you this is a horrible thing to do and you should always be there when your child is crying to comfort or you'll have attachment issues. I don't believe this applies to colicky babies. I would leave Maren to cry, and often I would then go and throw myself down on my bed and cry in the other room. It's hard, and sometimes you need a break. There are no attachment issues with my daughter and I left her to cry on her own as a newborn, so take that for what it's worth. Nathan was my 4th, so I couldn't hold him as much as I did Maren anyway, and he spent quite a bit of time crying on his own. Also no attachment issues with him. Both of my colicky babies are doing great at life.

Swaddling helped with my second colicky baby. We tried swaddling Maren but she would always break out of our wrapping. When Nathan came along we found the swaddles that velcro around the arms and stay tight. They were great! He wouldn't wake as easily when he was swaddled so we could actually put him down and he would stay asleep for 30 minutes or so, whereas Maren would be awake seconds after we put her down. Also remember that it's okay to ask for lots of help from friends and family. Leave the house without the kids when you can to have some quiet time.

When she reached 4 months, we were finally able to get her in a good nap routine and the crying faded away. She was such a sweet baby and toddler after that.

Me? Cry? Never! 

I know what you're going through is hard. For me it was hard seeing other mothers with their babies who were about the same age as Maren and they were such sweet, sleepy babies! I was upset that mine was not cooperating. I felt like I had been robbed of the newborn phase where you were supposed to cuddle and enjoy your little baby who would nurse quickly, sleep for hours, and be a joy. I didn't enjoy any of my newborns, but I'm still a good mom.  Everything will be okay, your child will be okay, and in the meantime invest in some good noise canceling earphones.

Okay that last bit was a joke. But I hope if you are reading this and you are struggling with a newborn who has colic that you will feel a bit of comfort knowing you are not alone. I hope you can find some quiet time. I hope you have supportive friends and family. And I hope you will love your screaming child.

And now I guess I have to accept the fact that my firstborn is turning 13. I don't feel old enough to have a teenager, but clearly I am. Lucky for me she's pretty much the best teenager ever. I hope it stays that way. And I still just might make her a princess cake, because why not?

Why wouldn't she want another princess party? I just don't get it. . . 

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this post, you can follow me on FacebookPinterestTwitter, and Instagram, or subscribe to receive occasional emails.

(affiliate links to things that helped) (although really, each child is so different, that a lot of it is trial and error as to what will help with yours, so good luck!)