Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Baby's first rodeo

So Texas. Most of us don't wear cowboy boots or hats on the regular. We don't ride horses around. There aren't tumbleweeds rolling around everywhere (just some places).

But we do eat a lot of barbecue, say y'all, watch a lot of football, and go to the rodeo. It's a whole experience! I haven't been in years but thought Em would enjoy it, so we went on Saturday and she was. in. heaven.
First off, let's talk about this outfit. I can't decide if it's more ridiculous or more adorable. I found the tutorial for this skirt from V and Co. and was pleasantly surprised how quick and easy it was to throw together. It's a bandanna cut in half, sides sewn together like a tube, and an elastic sewn into the top. Add a little contrast fabric to the bottom and viola! Western skirt. Took maybe two hours, and that's because I'm still a beginner sewer.

But then silly mama didn't take the time to figure out the rest of the outfit. I worked with what I had. The boots are a little too "winter" and not enough "western" and I think the tank just screams "white trash" but hey, it's the rodeo. It works. Oh, and the pigtails just killed me.

We headed straight to the horses. We know from some of the fall festivals we went to a few months ago that she LOVES horse rides. The last one she went on, she cried when it was time to go.
It was 5 tokens to ride. Hans went off to find tokens and this one could barely contain herself waiting. Fortunately, the nice lady working the ride saw Em like this and just pulled her over the fence and plunked her on a horse.
Look at the smile. She couldn't be happier.
And since daddy came back with tokens, we got to ride it a second time! She was smiling and giggling the whole time
There was also a great petting zoo that Em loved. I tried to go in with her but for some reason three different goats tried to eat my dress. What?!
These goats were aggressive!
I don't know what that thing is, but I think it wanted to follow Hans home.
We also hit up the livestock show to see the prize winning animals. We missed the mutton bustin' (bummer!) but I was surprised how much Em enjoyed just looking at the animals. 
Side note: This kid has turned into a climber. She scales everything. Gives me a freaking heart attack.
She wanted so badly to steal Uncle David's cowboy hat. It was a little big for her, but she kept trying.
Daddy and Em tried to win a minion at the carnival, but no luck.
We had a great time and we will be back next year!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Mama Monday: Do-A-Dot Review (and printables!)

Last week was my turn to teach Tot School again and I think it went much more smoothly than the time before. But I'll post more on that next week, when I've had a chance to pull together a better resource list.

But as a little preview I wanted to give a little review of Do-A-Dot markers. I had heard a lot about these from various mommy blogs and wanted to give them a try. They were hard to find! You can get them off Amazon (easiest) for about $15, or you can get them from Michaels and use a 40% off coupon. That's for a pack of six.
Bottom line? These were a TOTAL HIT! I think coloring can be a little hard for kiddos this age to stay in the lines. But the dot markers were easy for them to get exactly in the right spot and I could see expressions of accomplishment and satisfaction on their cute little faces. Mama liked it because it promotes great fine motor skills, wasn't super messy, and encouraged quiet, focused attention.

I think we'll be doing a lot more dot marker time in the future. And just for funsies, I made a couple dot marker coloring pages if you want to try out. Enjoy!
A, B, and C dot pages (download)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Love List: What We're Watching

Hi, my name is Erika, and I'm a Netflix addict. I hate watching shows live. Binge is the only way to go. I like it in the background while I do dishes or work or whatever. Brainless shows are best for that. But we are kind of in a show rut right now. We've tried a few shows (Parks and Rec, The Fall) and couldn't get in to them. So here's what we're watching (re-watching) right now. Shoot me your favs and give me something to add to my list!

1, Supernatural
This is the only "new to us" thing we're watching. It took us a long time to get in to it but we stuck with it because we figured the rabid fandom couldn't be wrong. Five seasons in and we are liking it! But we only watch it together (it's our current "our" show) so it's kinda slow going.
2. Friends
Yay for Netflix getting all seasons of my favorite show of all time. I can recite this word for word in my sleep. Anyone else notice that Netflix has an edited version, though? I sometimes notice little lines missing here and there. Weird.
Bonus: Did you know our wedding cake was "Friends" themed? We are *that* kind of fans.

3. Chuck
Re-watching this one because it's been a while and it still makes me laugh. I love that it has a butt-kicking chick and a nerdy guy as the leads and it's too dang funny. And let's talk about the eye candy that is Zachary Levi...
4. Once Upon a Time
Just finished re-watching this, mostly as wishful thinking. When is Netflix getting the next season??
5. Daniel Tiger
The other night we noticed that we were still watching this after Em went to bed. As far as kid shows go, it's definitely the best. Great lessons, no annoying characters (dude, Curious George's voice bugs me!) and the kid loves it. It's a daily staple in our house.
"If you have to go potty STOP - and go right away..."

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

TFOT: Parents, the Primary Teachers of the Gospel

Little did I know while I was preparing this lesson that it would be my last TFOT lesson. During church on Sunday they released me and Hans and I are going into primary. I'm really sad to be leaving this calling - I have LOVED facilitating these discussions and learning with the sweet sisters in our ward. Not to mention how it has increased my personal study of the Gospel.

Still, I'm excited to be teaching little ones. It's a lot less pressure and it's been several years since we were with the primary, so it'll be a nice change of pace.

This month's assignment was two different talks: Finding Lasting Peace and Building Eternal Families By Elder L. Tom Perry and Parents: The Prime Gospel Teachers of Their Children By Tad R. Callister. There was so much material here, so I chose to narrow the scope and do a deeper dive, just focusing on motherhood. I feel like the lesson went pretty well - there was a lot of laughter and a few tears, which I think is an accurate reflection on motherhood. There were so many comments, though, that I only got to 50-75% of what I prepared. I should have moved the first section a long a little quicker to have more time for the priorities section.

A word of caution: As we talked about the influence of the mother, the conversation took an unintended turn that took us too far from the the topic, and possibly caused some contentious feelings. It turned into a bit of a debate about working moms vs. stay-at-home moms. I know that's a hot topic among moms so it was probably on people's minds, but it wasn't the intent of this lesson. If you see this happening, quickly try and grab it and steer it back to the relationship between mom and child. That's what this is really about.

Good luck!

*class comments in italics

Quote: “We must carefully continue to evaluate our performance as parents. The most powerful teaching a child will ever receive will come from concerned and righteous fathers and mothers” - L. Tom Perry

I will read a bit from their talks to give you some time to think, but I would love if some of you would be willing to share personal stories about the teachings you learned from your parents, or perhaps even spiritual experiences you have had in teaching your own children. So please be thinking about that.

Quote #1: “The scriptures speak of the role of parents—that it is their duty to teach their children “the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost” (D&C 68:25). As parents, we are to be the prime gospel teachers and examples for our children—not the bishop, the Sunday School, the Young Women or Young Men, but the parents. As their prime gospel teachers, we can teach them the power and reality of the Atonement—of their identity and divine destiny—and in so doing give them a rock foundation upon which to build. When all is said and done, the home is the ideal forum for teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
  • He calls it the ideal forum. Why is that?
    • who knows your child better than you do?
    • you see your child first thing in the morning and last thing at night.
    • you're the first impression they have of lessons, values, principles, etc.
    • home is a place where they feel safe, it's their refuge
    • there are more opportunities each day to teach. it's more organic, you can teach as situations arise as opposed to in a structured setting with a planned lesson
    • repetition. you can go over the same ideas over and over again to make sure they are sinking in
    • love and trust - your kids know you love them and want the best for them and that's the place things come from when you are teaching them. maybe you could say there's a personal investment
    • there are boundaries (not sure the context of this one...)
    • there's a natural connection with parents. one woman was saying that she was a foster parent and no matter how good a relationship she had with her foster kids, they always felt drawn back to their parents. Another said it was similar with adoption - the kids wants to know about their birth parents. There's an inherent bond there.
  • Why is it our duty to teach, besides just being commanded?
    • I feel often a sense of responsibility to my heavenly father. He entrusted me with this wonderful little spirit and I want to return it to him in the best condition possible.
  • Examples?

So that’s our responsibility. But we also have a power as women.

Quote #2: “Women who make a house a home make a far greater contribution to society than those who command large armies or stand at the head of impressive corporations. Who can put a price tag on the influence a mother has on her children, a grandmother on her posterity, or aunts and sisters on their extended family?” L. Tom Perry
  • Love that he included grandmothers, aunts, sisters. All women carry the role of a mother, even if it’s not your biological child. "Motherhood" is part of "womanhood" whether you bare children or not.
  • Pretty strong statement. What are your thoughts about it?
  • (this is where we got into the staying home vs. working mom. That's not what this is about and one sister very kindly pointed out that doing one or the other doesn't make you a "good" or a "bad" mom. I'm glad she did. I think the point of this quote was just to stress the magnitude of a mother's influence on her child. Immeasurable.)

Elder Callister, in his talk, told an amazing story that demonstrated the influence of a mother. Does anyone remember it enough to summarize?
  • Dr. Ben Carson and his mother, Sonya
    She was one of 24 children, had only a third-grade education, and could not read. She was married at age 13, was divorced, had two sons, and was raising them in the ghettos of Detroit.
  • The son, Ben, was the lowest in his class. He took a math test and got zero right.
  • Sonia realized that the rich people she worked for all read. She went home and turned off the tv and made the kids read. They were required to read twice a week and give her a report
  • He went on to attend Yale University on a scholarship, then Johns Hopkins medical school, where at age 33 he became its chief of pediatric neurosurgery and a world-renowned surgeon.

Elder Callister said: “How was that possible? Largely because of a mother who, without many of the advantages of life, magnified her calling as a parent.”

Like all callings, parenthood is one where we can do just the bare minimum - make sure they survive with food, clothing, shelter. Or we can magnify that calling and take every opportunity to teach, encourage, support and help them excel.

Quote #3: “We cannot begin to measure or calculate the influence of women who, in their own ways, build stable family life and nurture for everlasting good the generations of the future. The decisions made by the women of this generation will be eternal in their consequences. May I suggest that the mothers of today have no greater opportunity and no more serious challenge than to do all they can to strengthen the [home]” L. Tom Perry
  • One example I thought of was my great grandma Erma. I don’t remember much about her, she passed away when I was in my early teens and we didn’t see her often. But there are things I distinctly remember about her - that even in her 80s and 90s she still served in the temple multiple times per week. That she kept meticulous journals filled with personal details about her feelings about the Gospel. And what I am very sure of is that she raised six children in the Gospel and each of them had at least five, and most of those had large families, too. It’s a very real way I see how the teachings of this one woman didn’t just affect her six children, but also her dozens of grandchildren and probably close to 100 great grandchildren and great great grandchildren (our family reunions are ridiculous). The faith of my great grandma has touched several generations of family members.
  • One sister shared a story about her grandmothers and how they were both faced with the same choice: whether to give up their child or keep them. Her paternal grandmother sent him to be raised by family and her maternal grandmother didn't. She talked about the affect that this had not only on her individual parents, but on each grandmother's relationship with her grandchildren and other family members. She used it as an example of how one grandmother strengthened the family while the other did not and how she could see that so clearly.

Next let’s talk about what are the things we are supposed to teach and how.


Quote #4: “The greatest teaching of all must be done by righteous example. Our homes must be holy places in order to stand against the pressures of the world.”
  • Why is example the greatest teacher?
    • Children are amazing mimics. When Emma was around one, she started paying attention to our prayers and folding her arms, closing her eyes, and bowing her head. We were out at the park or something a few days later and she saw a woman standing with her arms crossed and Em looked around confused like “why are we praying? Who is praying?” but still crossed her arms and bowed her head. They may not understand what is going on, but they know to do what we do. First we have to get them to do it, and then understand it. It’s two part!
  • What things should teach our children, and they should witness us doing?
    • forgive and ask forgiveness
      • Someone told me this once, about making sure that if your child sees you have any kind of argument with someone, you should also make sure they see you ask for forgiveness for causing offense and say you’re sorry, and they should see forgiveness being freely given.
    • speak kindly
    • read scriptures
    • values like honesty, kindness, forgiveness, and charity.
    • how to be CHRISTLIKE
    • Be inclusive
    • FHE and seminary
    • the JOY of parenthood - one sister shared about hearing someone say that their brother was always complaining about his kids and it made it sound like parenthood was just awful. She shared how one of the greatest compliments she received from her daughter was hearing the girl say how she looked forward to being a mom. It's how this sister knew she'd conveyed to her daughter what a blessing and joy it can be.
    • pray (MEANINGFUL prayer)
      • Quote #5: “One of the most meaningful things we can do as parents is teach our children the power of prayer, not just the routine of prayer. When I was about 17 years of age, I was kneeling by my bed, saying my evening prayers. Unbeknown to me, my mother was standing in the doorway. When I finished, she said, “Tad, are you asking the Lord to help you find a good wife?” Her question caught me totally off guard. That was the furthest thing from my mind. I was thinking about basketball and school. And so, I replied, “No,” to which she responded, “Well, you should, Son; it will be the most important decision you will ever make.” Those words sunk deep into my heart, and so for the next six years, I prayed that God would help me find a good wife. And, oh, how He answered that prayer. As parents, we can teach our children to pray for things of eternal consequence—to pray for the strength to be morally clean in a very challenging world, to be obedient, and to have the courage to stand for the right.
      • He particularly stressed morning prayers. “How many of us let our children march out the front door each morning to the most dangerous of all battlefields, to face Satan and his myriad of temptations, without their spiritual breastplate and shield and sword that come from the protective power of prayer?”
    • bear our testimony
    • visit the temple often

So far we have talked about what our role is and what actions we can take to teach and lead by example, but there was one last area addressed in both talks that we should touch on - making our roles as teachers one of our top priorities.

Someone summarize the fruit story?
“Not wanting to be interrupted, the mother said very quickly to the boys, “Why don’t you just say your prayers alone tonight, and Mother will just keep working on the fruit?”
The older of the two sons firmly planted his feet and asked, “Which is the most important, prayers or fruit?”

Quote: “A successful parent should never be too busy to capture a moment in a child’s life when an important lesson can be taught.”
Love this cute sketch from Ty Hatch via Instagram
  • I think sometimes the lesson is that family is the most important thing, or just the lesson is that you love them. Maybe it’s not prioritizing fruit and prayer, but dishes versus play doh. I try to remind myself daily that as much as I would love a clean house all the time, my kid isn’t going to remember that the sink was full of dishes, but she will (hopefully) remember standing out on the driveway blowing bubbles. She won’t remember how often I vacuumed, but she will remember how often we read books or colored or played with her cars.
  • This is something my parents always did, a very important lesson that I took with me after I left their home. They always made time for their family, to show us they loved us and supported us. My dad worked his work schedule so he never missed a baseball game, a band concert, a ballet recital, anything. We always knew that family was the most important and I think that strengthened ours.
  • I think if your children feel your love for them and how important they are, that will lead to greater trust and more teachable moments.

Quote #6: “It is my firm conviction that there has never been a period in my many years of life when our Father in Heaven’s children have needed the guiding hand of faithful, devoted parents more. We have a great and noble heritage of parents giving up almost everything they possess to find a place where they could rear their families with faith and courage so the next generation would have greater opportunities than had been theirs.We must find within ourselves that same determined spirit and overcome the challenges we face with the same spirit of sacrifice. We must instill in future generations an ever stronger reliance on the teachings of our Lord and Savior.”

One of my favorite quotes from this conference:

“We might all ask ourselves: do our children receive our best spiritual, intellectual, and creative efforts, or do they receive our leftover time and talents, after we have given our all to our Church calling or professional pursuits? In the life to come, I do not know if titles such as bishop or Relief Society president will survive, but I do know that the titles of husband and wife, father and mother, will continue and be revered, worlds without end.”

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A fun little week

This week was pretty quiet - nothing too monumental to report. We're still kind of taking it easy after Em's concussion. I guess you could say mama's a little gunshy. Not to mention it was a gross, rainy week.

But we still managed to steal a few moments of fun.
This is my good buddy Adam. We have been friends since 6th grade (we did the math on that and it just made us feel super old...) He was in town for SXSW so Hans and I braved the awful crowds (thanks for stimulating our economy... now please go home) to meet up with Adam and meet his cute new wife downtown. He hasn't changed and it's nice that we can still pick up right where we left off even after all these years.
Thursday I tried to take us to one of the "family-friendly" SXSW events, the do512 Family Picnic. It was such an awful bust, mostly my own fault. It was unexpectedly hot and right in the sun - and I had Em in long pants and long sleeves that day! Oops. Parking was a mess, food was expensive, and I really should have brought some chairs for us to sit on.

It wasn't all bad, though. I thought there was a petting zoo, but I misread and it was an "instrument petting zoo." Oops. But she actually really enjoyed pounding on that drum!
She did dance to the music for about 30 minutes! So I guess we should still count this one a win.
We actually snuck in a quick date night with our friends and neighbors! Thanks to Josh, we put Em to bed and headed over to Gordough's for dessert. Oh. My. Gosh. Such heaven.
Lately Em has been showing a little interest in the big girl potty. I was so excited a couple weeks ago when she went in the bathroom, grabbed some toilet paper and wiped herself over her jeans. #momlife.

So this weekend we took her to the store to pick out her big girl potty. I thought if she did it herself she'd be more excited about it.
Hmmm... decisions, decisions.
I think we have a winner!
She was so proud taking it to the counter and taking it home.
We haven't started potty training en force yet, for several reasons, but for now we are just keeping it around and occasionally seeing if she's interested. Nothing yet, but she's excited to try!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Love List: Spring Printable Round-up

It's finally starting to warm up and today we even saw the sun! It has been so lovely and we just want to be outside all the time.
To welcome spring, I thought I'd do a little round up of some of my favorite free spring printables (and a few that were just so dang cute). I have a frame on my entryway table that I just rotate the print regularly to match the seasons. Here are some of my favorites right now. Be sure to visit the original site for the download and for their other great offerings.
Love the Journey from The 36th Avenue
Hello, Spring from Sandy Toes and Popsicles
Hello, Spring! from On Sutton Place
What a Wonderful World from Lost Bumblebee
Life isn't a Race from By Dawn Nicole
Dance Your Heart Out from Smitten on Paper
What I Love Most from Eighteen25
I Love Everything About You from Tried and True
Bakers Gonna Bake from Lost Bumblebee
Now get outside and enjoy this gorgeous weather!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

Saint Patrick's Day is another one of those holidays that I have never paid too much attention to. But, oh, these are so much more fun with little ones!

We didn't do anything much, but I tried to incorporate a few little things to make the day more fun. We painted her nails for the first time and she loved it! 
 She held so still while I did it and watched my every move. And she's been holding her hands so dainty and looking at her nails all the time. It kills me. Having a little girl is so freaking awesome.
Blow them dry!
Seriously, so proud of herself.
Then we made green pancakes for breakfast. I didn't want to just use green dye - so we made these with spinach! 
Always a good helper
 And I was surprised at how incredibly tasty they are. We will make it regularly now. The recipe is from Weelicious and uses spinach, buttermilk, and wheat flour. I added a teaspoon of vanilla as well. Em ate FOUR.
And then I gave her green tissue paper to play with. Because... why not? She wrapped it around herself to make a skirt. And we made a cape together (no pics, oops).
Hope you all had a happy, green day.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

It finally happened

Just last week my mama friends and I were chatting about how reckless Em is. She's always climbing on things and trying to jump off them. Gives me a heart attack ten times a day. I was saying how it's a miracle she's never hurt herself.

Spoke too soon.

First this happened:
Enjoying a nice morning at the Thinkery
 Then this happened.
She was playing in a room filled with mats and giant shapes made out of mat material. She was climbing down a couple steps and I guess she lost her balance. She fell backward and managed to miss all the mats and slam the back of her head on the concrete ground.

I didn't think it looked like a bad fall, but she couldn't stop crying - that was alarm #1. She hardly ever cries from being hurt, Hans and I have even questioned if she felt pain ever. And the crying didn't stop. It wasn't super hard, sometimes she was just whimpering, but she kept crying. And almost immediately she started falling asleep. If you know my kid, I can't EVER get her to go to sleep, and most definitely not anywhere but her bed. It was a struggle to get her home. She fell asleep almost instantly in the rocker and didn't wake up while I called her pediatrician and talked to them. They said it sounded like a mild concussion (no vomiting, eye dilation normal, etc were all good signs) and said I should wake her up and take her to the ER. I called Hans to come home and help me and tried to rouse her, without much success.

I spent the next 20 minutes trying to wake her and then right before Hans walked in the door, she snapped awake and was totally ok! She was laughing and playing. It was the weirdest thing.
Her symptoms came and went for the rest of the day. She would suddenly get very sleepy and start crying a lot and just want to lay with us. She fell asleep a few times. She ran a little bit of a fever and refused to eat anything.

But given that she seemed decently ok, we decided not to go to the hospital. We knew we would just sit there for hours before they decided to see us and figured all they would do is confirm the concussion and tell us she needed rest.

So that's what we did all weekend. We woke her up every few hours just to make sure she could. And then we just tried to take it easy. Lots of movies!
By Sunday, she seemed to be feeling a lot better, but we still wanted her to take it easy. Trying to keep this little ball of perpetual motion slightly less active is a huge challenge!
 So we did some play doh minion making.
 And a little sponge painting.
As of today she seems to be completely back to normal. We even ventured out to the gym today! Just trying to ease her back into activity - and definitely nothing she can jump off.

Hate to see my baby hurting, but glad to see she's getting back to her crazy self.