Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Practicing Daily Gratitude With Your Kids

Last week, I posted the top photo above on my Instagram, with the following caption: "Every morning when Essley wakes up, I ask her to tell me one thing for which she's grateful. She's like her mama (we don't enjoy mornings), and I've found that starting my day with gratitude (even if I have to force it) genuinely helps me feel less anxious and more happy through out my day - and it seems to help her as well. This morning, her response was 'my family' (gold star answer, kid) and '763 pieces of chocolate' (clearly my child). Have a grateful day, friends."

I received over 30 messages after posting that, from both parents and non-parents, thanking me for the idea and stating that they were going to do the same with both their kids and themselves. My response to every message was that while I certainly didn't come up with the idea of practicing morning gratitude, I was thrilled to see that our silly little morning ritual could possibly help others who have anxiety (like me) or who just wanted to start their days in a positive way. And it got me thinking about other ways my kids and I could practice gratitude together. So Essley and I sat down and came up with a "gratitude to do list", which I am sharing below.

1. Every morning upon waking, say out loud at least one thing in your life for which you feel thankful.

2. Keep a special journal or sketchbook, and throughout your day, write down or draw pictures of things that you appreciate.

3. Give every family member a hug and tell them how grateful you are to have them in your life.

4. Make a thank you card for a friend and tell them you appreciate their friendship.

5. Say thank you out loud every time you eat a meal.

6. Smile a LOT. (Essley says this one is the most important of all.)

7. Take videos of your little ones telling friends and relatives why they are thankful for them, and then email or text them the videos.

8. Make a giving list. For holidays or birthdays, make lists of the items or experiences you want to give others. (Sort of a reverse wish list.)

9. Everyday, tell each person in your family one thing about them you love and appreciate. (This can be anything from something profound to Essley's favorite, "I like your outfit mommy!")

10. Before bed, say out loud one great thing that happened that day for which your are thankful.

Consciously feeling grateful for things in your life is such a simple concept, but it's been life changing for me in many ways. (Sounds super cheesy I know, but it's the truth.)  And it makes sense - research shows that practicing gratitude causes us to enjoy our lives more and feel happier in general. Even the act of putting this list together made me feel thankful and happy, and I know it did the same for Essley. If you have little ones, try some of these and let me know what you think. And if you have ways you practice daily gratitude with your children (or yourself!) I'd love to hear!


Monday, September 17, 2018

Our 12 Favorite Books for Preschoolers

12 Books Every Preschooler Should Read

When I was pregnant with Essley, I vowed that my children would have extremely limited screen time, never use an iPad, and only watch Sesame Street. As with most of the things on which I considered myself an expert before actually having kids, this didn't work out. My kids' screen time is limited, but yes, they do have iPad time, and yes, they watch many shows and movies (some of which are not on my top 10 list, let's just put it that way).

That said, my kids love books. Love. And when I'm feeling like a crappy parent (which happens a lot, because that's how parents feel), I remind myself that my little ones not only ask me to read to them, they spend a lot of time pretending to read books themselves. (Emmett, who is 2, makes up stories as he "reads," and Essley, who is 4, does the same but also recognizes some sight words which is really fun to watch.) Every night when they go to bed, they each get to choose 2 books to read, and we all read them together. It is one of my favorite parts of each day.

I posted the picture you see above on Instagram recently, and I got a lot of DMs asking about the book Essley is reading, along with some questions about our other favorites. So I decided to put together this list of the dozen books that are currently on our most read list in this house. One of these days I'll put together a complete list of books we often read here. (I kept all of my books from childhood for my kids, so those combined with all of the books they've accumulated since Essley was born = hundreds.) But for now, here you go. While these are probably more for Essley's age level than Emmett's, both kids adore all of them.

12 Books Every Preschooler Should Read

1. Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
2. The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn (Great to read during the beginning of the school year!)
3. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
4. We Are in a Book by Mo Willems
5. Press Here by Herve Tullet (Essley thinks this book is brilliant; I do too.)
6. Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
7. Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney
8. Little Rabbit's Loose Tooth by Lucy Bate
9. Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems
10. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendack
11. Corduroy by Don Freeman
12. The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper

Many of these were favorites of mine when I was Essley's age as well. (I remember reading Blueberries for Sal and Madeline on repeat.) There are also several new ones that she discovered at school last year that we purchased after hearing about how much she loved them. If you have preschool (or even early grade school) aged kids, I highly recommend any of these. And if you have gems that I missed, please let me know! We are always looking for new books.

(Canopy in top photo was purchased here.)

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Friday, September 14, 2018

100 Days For Positive Change

Oh hey Friday! This was the first official full week of school for my kids (yes, Emmett is still crying at drop off, but slowly getting better; yes, Essley still runs into the classroom without a goodbye), and as someone who works from home, it's been an adjustment for me as much as for them. Between their different school times and all of the activities, there are so many drop offs and pick ups. I get what parents say now when they describe themselves as taxi services. Anyway, my point is that I'm really grateful Friday is here and we have a couple of days off from the chaos. (Well, except for swimming lessons and soccer, and the half marathon my husband is running. But you get the point.)

One commitment I do have this weekend (and everyday) is something involving myself rather than my kids (although it does affect them too). Some friends and I recently decided to create a challenge together called 100 Days For Positive Change. My friend Annie initially started one for herself called 100 Days of Yoga, and from that this challenge (originally called 100 Days of Fitness) was born. We have all committed to 100 days of at least 30 minutes of being active a day, in an effort to create positive change in our lives. This can mean anything from yoga to running to taking a walk to hardcore cardio to light stretching to dance parties. We just have to continuously move for 30 minutes, everyday, for 100 days.

Today is day 11 for me, and I cannot put into words how incredible I feel. Truly. I run most days, but I have also slid in yoga and strength training. I am not a fitness person; it does not come naturally to me. I've never been one of those people who feels motivated to get up at 5 AM to go to the gym. But this challenge has made a monumental difference not only in how I feel physically everyday, but how I feel mentally. I struggle with anxiety, and last month, I realized it was spiraling out of control. I'm not sure if it was a result of some of this summer's traumatic experiences (the death of my best friend to ALS, serious family illnesses, etc.), hormones due to stopping breastfeeding (I was either pregnant and/or breastfeeding for 5 straight years), or just a random fluke, but it was bad. I started running at the suggestion of my runner husband, and quickly noticed a difference. Now that I'm doing the challenge and moving everyday no matter what, it's a massive difference. In addition to the time spent with movement, I am adding a few minutes to sit outside (or in a space by myself), clear my head, and just be. Sometimes this has to happen really late when my kids are in bed or very inconveniently in the middle of the work day while they're at school. But I'm making it a priority to do it and be the best version of myself possible.

I have mainly been sharing my journey on my private IG account I use for family and friends who I know in real life, but I started sharing my progress it in my Stories on my Bubby and Bean Instagram account too. If you'd like to join us in this challenge or learn more, the hashtag we're using is #100DaysForPositiveChange. (And no, we're not selling anything or forcing anyone to do anything, and aside from committing - for yourself - to moving everyday, there are no rules!)

I will make sure to check in later in the journey and let you know how it's going. In the meantime, I'm really enjoying taking care of my body and mind. It's been a while.


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

8 Casual Looks I Love for Fall

8 Casual Boho Looks For Fall

Don't get the wrong idea guys; I will be wearing my cut-offs and sundresses until the bitter end (and likely well past the time it's considered seasonally appropriate). But fall and cool temps are coming whether I like it or not, and if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

The looks you see above are some favorites I've come across lately. They're all different styles and not necessarily cohesive but I love how they're casual yet still put together. And I like that a lot of them feature items that could be considered transitional pieces too.

Have you started wearing any fall clothes yet? What's your favorite type of clothing to wear in autumn?