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Author: Tricia

I'm the only girl in my home, sharing activities, experiments and other fun ways for moms to connect with their kids

Dreams are Real

Mom’s Monday Post! Mondays I post specifically to encourage moms. It’s encouragement for whatever stage you are in right now, because it is focusing on you, not your little (or not so little) ones. Take a few minutes to yourself and ponder today’s post.

 

Several months ago now, I watched a few videos provided by the SuperMom Summit. The one main theme that kept repeating (to me, at least) was that we need to give ourselves time to dream so we can work towards our dreams.
Dreams are Real at http://momistheonlygirl.com
We need to value ourselves. We each have unique gifts and talents, but if we don’t value ourselves enough to take time to nurture our gifts and talents then we won’t have time to dream. Dreams are real!

Such huge ideas for us as moms, right? Our focus is always on taking care of others.

One video featured Nicole Carpenter from MOMentity, where moms are encouraged to ‘dream in motion’. Keep your dream alive now so when your kids are grown you aren’t thinking ‘What about me?’ Some days I sit thinking about what I want to be now that my kids are in school and I think that’s where I find myself ~ having let my dream go and not knowing what to do now.

If we don’t set our own goals or have our own dreams we’re not being an example for our kids in this area. This thought took me back a bit. Do our kids really see this area of our lives as an example for them? But then I remember the times my boys ask me why I ‘work’ all the time doing chores and realize they do see me always putting others first, but not investing in my own dreams.

Nicole says if you’ve let your dream grow stagnant, try making your dream real again ~ start by doing something for yourself to show yourself you are valued. This could be as simple as wearing lip gloss just for yourself. Then, think about your childhood dreams, your professional dreams, new dreams you are having for your future, hobby- related dreams and write them all down. Step back and assess what you can work towards right away and what you will need to work towards long-term. At that point you can think more realistically how to reach those dreams. What steps can you take to move in that direction? (Get it, you’ll be dreaming in motion!)

Now, I know not every mom is the same. Some have regular nights out with their friends, or take classes at the sewing store, or whatever. However, some moms continually invest in others and don’t realize they are depleting themselves.

It’s not an all or nothing for either of these scenarios that make us great moms. Its simply realizing that unless we take at least a little better care for ourselves, we won’t be able to give our best to others and our dreams will become figments of our imaginations.

Next week I hope to spend several days posting about routines…and how they can help us find time to dream!

Remember, dreams are real. What is your dream?

Shy Blue science experiment

Affiliate links imageWith the bitterly cold weather we’ve been doing a few more things inside. (Read – experiments!)

Science Experiment at http://momistheonlygirl.com

I’m sharing a fun one today. It’s called Shy Blue and requires only a few materials which you most likely have in your home. (We’ve done this experiment before. I took pictures this most recent time, but only the one with green food coloring came out. The one below is from last year when I prepped another post, but never published it.) Read more

Jax – a snow day treat

Have you ever made Jax? Oh, it is delicious and only takes a fresh snowfall and some maple syrup to make. Well, I guess a bowl, a spoon, and someone to eat it! I thought after all of the snow falling in the northeast some may be looking for a snow day treat!

Snow and Maple Syrup Jax at http://momistheonlygirl.com

Jax is something my dad used to ‘make’ for us when I was a kid. I have no real idea where the name came from, he just always called it that! It’s a great memory!

After a fresh snowfall, when the snow is clean and white, scoop some into a bowl. Pour maple syrup (real or fake, but real is delicious!) over the snow. The syrup will get just a little gooey – and that is the tasty part! Sit back and enjoy!

Jax is a simple, fun, snow day treat for your sense of taste!

Valentine’s Day Sun Catchers

A very simple, fun craft involving hearts, a little scissor work and creative coloring/drawing is on tap today. It’s a bright, sunny day here, and these Valentine’s Day Sun Catchers are the perfect thing to catch the sun as it streams in the windows!

Valentine's Day Sun Catchers http://momistheonlygirl.com

You’ll only need a few items:

Paper

Vegetable oil (any kind)

A cotton ball (or use a paper towel)

Crayons/markers

Hole punch

Wax paper

Simply draw a heart (or any other shape) on the paper and get creative with coloring it. Cut it out, making sure to hole punch where you’ll hang it from.

http://momistheonlygirl.com Sun Catchers

Lay out some paper towels over wax paper and place your creation on the towels. Place some oil in a small bowl on your prepared surface close to your project.

Take your cotton ball, dip it in the oil, and generously spread the oil over the top of your creation. Turn your project over and spread the oil over this side as well. You’ll know when you have enough on when it appears sort of translucent.

Sun Catchers http://momistheonlygirl.comPlace a fresh paper towel over one side and pat it dry. Repeat on the other side. Of course, your creation won’t be completely dry. At this point set it aside on clean paper towels for a few hours to dry some more.

Once it is dry, lace a pretty yarn, ribbon or even rope through the holes and hang it in front of a sunny window!

http://momistheonlygirl.com Sun Catchers

You are not limited to crayons and markers, nor is this craft limited to Valentine’s Day. The small sun catchers on the lower right is made with colored tissue paper glued onto white paper. Have fun with it! (Of course, the bright sunshine went away when I took the picture!)

It goes without saying that this could be a messy project that should be done with adult supervision. Working on the coordination skill of cutting with scissors and working with an oily substance can be messy and dangerous. That said, it is a great activity for fine motor skills – coordination through coloring, cutting, pincer grasp for holding the cotton ball; science of working with colors. You could even make several hearts and number them turning it into a counting game!

If you take a few moments and prepare your work surface, clean up will go much more quickly and smoothly. I have a friend who pulls out a cheap shower curtain, covers her table, and then places an old tablecloth over that when doing projects like this.

(This idea was gleaned from a young lady teaching my kids’ Sunday School class.)

 

 

A Mom’s Morning Routine

Affiliate links imageHave you noticed that every Monday I’ve been trying to bring you a mom-centered post? I am all for sharing ideas for our kiddos, but I think we need to nourish ourselves as moms, too!

Do you have a morning routine? I don’t mean trying to get the breakfast on the table and the kids to school on time. I mean do you, yourself have a morning routine? A few minutes to prep yourself for the day ahead?

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Ice ornaments

I don’t know about where you are, but in my area it is sooooo cold! Cold enough for people to be doing those experiments you hear about every winter like throwing boiling water outdoors and it turning into snow.

It’s also a dreary time. Everything seems grayish white unless there is fresh snow in the air or it is bright and sunny, but too cold to go outside. Today is, thankfully, one of the sunny days, however, it is below zero!

Ice at http://momistheonlygirl.com

It seems like the perfect day to share a fun, easy little activity we do when it gets this cold. Ice ornaments! (Adult supervision is a good idea!)

Ice ornaments at http://momistheonlygirl.com

First, get out some tins, cupcake tins, empty yogurt containers, anything you’d like to use as a mold for your ornaments. (Any size will do as long as it isn’t too big to fit flat in your freezer and hang by a string/rope from something!) Outside one house a couple of years ago I saw large ice wreaths with cranberries inside, made from an angel cake mold. It was beautifully big!

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Be Intentional about Playtime

Last week I invited you to join me in making our lives a little more positive, being more prepared for each day. More ‘intentional’ if you will. This is the first post in this series which I will bring to you every Monday for several weeks.

Paula at Beauty through Imperfection posted last year that she schedules playtime in her planner. She is a visual person and in her post says she likes to see tangible results (like after washing the dishes or doing the laundry). There is no start or stop to play. No measurement. She stresses its so important and shows love to her kids in a way that only playtime can, and that’s why for her personality she schedules it in her day.

When my boys were small I went through a phase where I would see everything around me, see them content playing and decide to do “chores” rather than read or pull out the play dough with them or even just sit with them while they played. After a few days my oldest, then 3, said ‘Mommy, you don’t play anymore.’ Major guilt trip and then I tried to be more intentional about being with them.

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Taken by Surprise

Have you ever been taken by surprise by life? Sometimes you think you have everything under control and one little thing happens and – poof! – life’s curveball has you wondering ‘what just happened?’

That’s been happening a lot to me since coming down with the flu. I get tired so easily and those little things keep popping up placing doubts in my head as to if I am sane or not!

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The New Beginning

Starting the New Year like a New Beginning

In past years I printed out the little forms for everyone to fill out on New Year’s Day and this year was no different. (I used these cute forms from Thirty Handmade Days this year!) For myself, I focus on trying to figure out if I actually accomplished anything the previous year (other than keeping myself, Hubby and the boys alive for another year!) to give myself a little value. Having my boys fill them out is a great way to capture their thoughts and in the future we can look back and see a big picture of how they grew.

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{on being} A Better Mom

It’s not hard to decide what you want your life to be about.  What’s hard is figuring out what you are willing to give up in order to do the things you really care about. – Shauna Niequist

I saw this quote on The Better Mom and think it is so true. I also remember reading on a friend’s facebook status something to the effect of being so caught up in what she wants her Christmas to look like that she isn’t enjoying any of the preparation. She doesn’t want to give anything up to make her holiday what she wants.

A Better Mom http://momistheonlygirl.com

I’m in the midst of a transition. With Sweet Pea off to Kindergarten this year I find myself wondering what I want to be when I grow up. My previous profession is all but gone (I was a medical transcriptionist who finds her work has been given to computers, and before that the person at the ad agency who made sure the product made it through all the steps and was released on time – a job integrated into another position.) I’m literally free to be whoever I want to be professionally. But I’m finding it is hard to decide what I want my life to be about – outside of being a wife and mommy.

I’m finding it hard mostly because I’m not willing to give up being at home, being the caregiver, launderer, cleaner, finder-of-lost-things, even while they are at work and school. At least not yet. And I’m not ready to give up all the family time that being a stay-at-home-wife-to-a-school-teacher brings with it in the summertime.

As moms, I know we all feel this way to a degree. I also know some have made the transition to working and love it, others wish for their lives they could be home waiting for their child to get off the bus and their husband to walk in the door.

I’m deciding today to do my best to think of Shauna’s idea in a more positive way for myself as I make this transition and attempt to ‘grow up’. Not that this statement is negative. I just want to think about it without the words ‘hard’ and ‘give up’. Would you like to as well?

Let’s decide to think more in terms of what we as moms can provide through this process of thinking what we want our lives to be about.       Love for others.             Feeling for those who are can’t be there.          Bettering ourselves to provide in the future for family.          Listening and spending time with others now, when we might not have that time in a little while.

Listening to our hearts. Seeking out our talents and skills. Embracing our desires to care for others.

Possibly through this process we will also begin to see more clearly what we do really care about and invest our lives in that while we are able.

Accomplishments

How do you feel when one of your kids accomplishes something? Do you shout it from the mountain tops or quietly revel in pride?

Do you fear gushing about it will make them self-conscious? Or not speaking up about it will make them strive to work harder for the next goal?

Violin http://momistheonlygirl.com

Praising our children for their accomplishments can totally backfire for some children, causing them to withdraw into a cocoon, not wanting the attention, or not wanting to have to strive for the same or better next time.

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Christmas Traditions

It seems like every family celebrates Christmas in some way in their home, whether atheist, Jewish, African or Christ followers. Each involves traditions of some sort. (I'm not going to go into semantics here.)

In our home, we try to celebrate Jesus' birth and our love for each other. We incorporate going to church and giving gifts to loved ones, decorating a Christmas tree with items representing us and our memories. In other homes there may be no gifts, no tree, or no going to church. There may be no celebrating Christmas with a focal point being Jesus' birth.

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Getting Kids Moving Indoors

As I sit writing this it is 20 degrees outside with a light wind that makes it feel -50! It seems like a good day to post a variety of ways I keep my boys active when it’s too cold outside to get that gross motor play in just by playing in the snow (or green grass as we currently have). Following are just a few of the ideas I turn to. I need a few more in my arsenal now that my almost-eight year old is getting bigger. Any ideas?

Indoorgrossmotorplay

Venturing Out

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Melted Crayon Homemade Ornaments

Have you been enjoying this week of simple homemade Christmas ornaments you and your child can make together? This last one I’m sharing seems like it should be for older children, but I think with supervision and help preschoolers would enjoy getting involved, too! I’ve provided an affiliate link for the ornaments for you below.

This homemade Christmas Ornament the boys and I made last year involved a heat gun (or hair dryer), crayons, clothespins and small glass ornaments. (Make sure they are glass! Using heat and glass makes this a no-brainer – adult supervision is strongly encouraged!)

Melted Crayon Christmas Ornaments

These came out so beautifully that we are making some for our own tree this year! I bought the ornaments from JoAnn Crafts this year, but you can also find them on Amazon by following this (affiliate) link. I’m going to warn you making these can be addicting! It’s strangely relaxing, so you might even want to make these by yourself!

Using a grater or whatever method you find easiest to make your crayons into small pieces, crush them up! It’s up to you if you’d like to group the shavings by color, but we found that to have the best results.

Be careful with little fingers
Be careful with little fingers

As you remove the ornaments from the packaging try not to ruin the plastic package, as this makes a neat, safe place for the ornaments to cool off.

Everything you should need
Everything you should need

Carefully take the top hook portion off the ornament by squeezing the round loop and pulling gently. Remember, these are made of glass. They are pretty sturdy, but can still break if squeezed too hard. (If it helps to know, we didn’t break any!) Set the loop aside for now.

Get those little crayon shavings in there!
Get those little crayon shavings in there!

Decide what color(s) you’d like your ornament to be, use your imagination, and place a few crumbs of crayon in your ornament. Experiment with color – its a great activity to review colors and introduce shades of colors and color creating to younger onese. Get the science lingo going if you’d like to make this into a mini science lesson! Then carefully put the hook back into the ornament. Clip the clothespin to the round hook and hold tightly as shown above.

Use your hair dryer or heat gun to melt the crayon. I suppose you could also hold your ornament over a stove burner as well, but be very careful with whatever method you use. We used the clothespin to help keep our hands away from the heat.

Keep turning the ornament and heat source until the desired swirling effect is achieved.

Let the melted crayon ornament cool!
Let the melted crayon ornament cool!

Get creative with your color combinations and pattern attempts! Even one swirl of a bold or shimmering color has wonderfully beautiful results! For some ornaments, we heated until just starting to melt and it created a spotty effect! I wish I had taken pictures of all the ornaments, or at least of a couple on a tree! I loved every creation for a different reason. You’ll know what I mean when you make your own!

Once the ornaments are cooled package them in a pretty container and wish the recipient a very Merry Christmas!

If you try this with your kiddos let me know what you think! And if you missed any of the previous kid-friendly ornaments I shared, feel free to check out the star ornament or the cutout ornament!

Thank you for letting me share these homemade ornaments with you! Go spend some time with your kiddos and create something beautiful!

More Homemade Christmas Ornaments

Continuing with the idea of homemade Christmas ornaments, here are some baked dough ornaments we made and adorned to use as gifts.

 

Being a rubber stamper/card maker in my pre-child years (honestly, where does my time go that I cannot craft?!) I pulled out my stamps after the kids cut simple Christmas shapes out of this great three-ingredient salt dough recipe. (We used this recipe from The Imagination Tree.)

 

Anyway, after cutting out your shapes, lay them as directed on a cookie sheet. Before popping them in the oven to bake, let the kiddos pick out a few stamps to adorn the ornaments. Make sure they don’t press too hard, just enough to leave a clear indentation. Another option is to roll out the dough, then stamp all over the dough if you are working only with patterned stamps. And then make your cut-outs.

 

We used a paisley-patterned roller stamp, swirls, initials…we even tried stamping in ink then onto the dough, but I think painting the ornaments afterwards would have worked better for us as the ink didn’t stick too well, although you can see some of the pink showing up.

 

These ornaments came out beautifully white and delicate-looking and my kiddos did surprisingly well keeping the shapes intact! However they turn out, this ornament gift will be special! (And you’ll be working on coordination and fine motor skills without them realizing it!)

 

We packaged these with the more traditional cinnamon dough ornaments and our melted crayon ornaments to make special gifts for grandparents!

 

Homemade Ornaments

Every year we try a craft for Christmas. Last year we made stars and some other ornaments that we gave as gifts. The stars are so simple to make and work on coordination skills and process thinking – some sneaky learning!

Materials:

  • liquid glue (we found it to work best adhering the sticks together, but try glue sticks on the surface of the craft sticks for the glitter!) You can also use glitter glue for decorating!
  • glitter or other decorative items
  • craft sticks – your choice of size

First, lay out some paper on your craft surface, maybe have a paper plate nearby for catching glitter.

Next, lay out your sticks in a star shape. You’ll get to sit back for a minute watching your kiddos think through how to lay them out overlapping to make the shape. It’s a bit tricky, so its fun to watch the thought process and coordination skills! When it’s achieved, grab some more sticks and make another, this time being prepared with glue to adhere the sticks together, using the first star as a model. Letting these dry as you make more and enjoy a snack is advised because the liquid glue take a while to set up.

Third, take your glue in whatever form and apply it to the craft sticks in whatever pattern you’d like. It’s fun to try different color sticks or even use markers and create a pattern on the sticks before (or instead of) applying lots of glitter!

We found it easiest to have several plates nearby to catch the glitter as it was applied, to save on glitter (one plate per glitter type) and to help eliminate some of the mess. Of course, if you use glitter glue then you can skip this step!

The boys are already asking what we are going to make this year!

Are you making anything with your child for Christmas?

Sweet Pea is Six!

leaves and rake
The family time spent raking leaves and jumping in them!

Thanksgiving break is never a relaxing time for us. We celebrate Sweet Pea’s birthday, celebrate Thanksgiving twice (once with each family) then celebrate my niece’s birthday. Then we are soooooo ready to relax into the meaning of Christmas and the Christmas season.

Seriously, though, Thanksgiving has always been special to me, but six years ago it took on an entirely different kind of special when we brought Sweet Pea home from the hospital on Thanksgiving day.

Turning six!

I love seeing life through my children’s eyes and this year’s birthday was a little milestone for Sweet Pea. He turned six, and to him that meant he could finally have that LEGO train he wanted – because, after all it was for ages 6+ so he wouldn’t have been able to play with it before then! Don’t you love how their minds work?

The joy of opening that one gift you were so desiring!

With all that excitement behind us I can rest and think about the special moments we had this past week with family.

I’m going to spend some time thinking again on January 1st. Not about the resolutions I will make or what the year will hold for me, but about the memories made in the Christmas season throughout December.

The peacefulness of fallen leaves…introducing the colors of Christmas.

Do I want to remember myself being stressed trying to find the right gift at the right price? The running around trying to get things done? Or do I want to remember the meaning of Christmas? The celebration of my Savior’s birth. The memories made as my family gathered together again…

Bright fall colors remind me that although the white of winter is coming, new life will follow.

May we all take time to rest in the thought of memories we will cherish when this Christmas season has faded into the New Year. I encourage you to think about how you want to remember the month of December and act on it!

OKSocial resource

I’m slowly changing the focus of what I’m sharing in this little corner of the blogosphere. I thought along the way I should share some of the resources I’m finding helpful in this transition. One resource that has helped me a lot has been oksocial.com.

Kristy is a photographer, social media strategist and real food transition coach, but also is in charge of oksocialmedia. I initially downloaded her “Be a Better Blogger: 9 Secrets to Blogging Success” e-book, which started an e-mail dialog. She is one of those who actually want to help bloggers learn and improve, and she was so helpful in me finding some direction for this little blog of mine!

Check out oksocial.com and get this book!
Check out oksocial.com and get this book!

You can sneak a peek at oksocial’s blog, submit a question (they really do address them!), download the (very helpful) book Be a Better Blogger, 9 Secrets to Blogging Success by signing up for their mailing list and receiving lots of useful tips and information regularly, or just click on through to her food blog!

I was so impressed that a real person e-mailed me back when I downloaded the “Be a Better Blogger” book and took a serious interest in what help I was looking for by perusing the book. I trust you will find oksocial to be a valuable resource in your blogging adventure, too!

Thank you, Kristy, for all of your help and support!

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving

I love Thanksgiving. Not just because family gathers together, or that there's pumpkin pie and lots of other good food.

I love Thanksgiving also because it's totally acceptable for everyone to express (almost) freely what they are thankful for and not be judged.

Doesn't it seem there is so much bad in this world right now? But at this time of year everyone still (hopefully) manages to think of something they are thankful for without (hopefully) feeling like they are being judged for it.

That said, I'm wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving. May you find peace and hope in your hearts today, and something to be thankful for.

 

Getting the new Mom is the Only Girl running

(This post contains affiliate links. Which means if you purchase the product by following the link provided, you will not be paying more in order for me to be compensated by the company represented.)

So what do you think of the new Mom is the Only Girl? Is it easier to read? Does it make you feel a little more relaxed and able to breathe with the white space? I’m trying to make this a nice place for you, so please shoot me a note and tell me what you think!

In rebranding and migrating from one platform to another, I’ve been doing a lot of searching for help on-line. One of the biggest helps to me was Blogelina. I even took a course from there!

Let me tell you what resources I utilized, maybe Blogelina will be a site that will help you, too.
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Welcome to the new Mom is the Only Girl

Hi there! Are you with me in my new home?

It took me a little longer to move than I ever imagined, but all the boxes are unpacked now, although not everything has found its proper home yet. I haven’t decided what colors to paint it, although my logo tends toward the purple, with a little pink and blue thrown in for good measure.

I’m excited about what my new neighborhood may bring with it. Maybe new friends? An item or two to give to neighbors? Maybe I’ll start a little shop out back where you can all stop and browse? We shall see in time!

What you will find here for certain is: Read more

Did you say changes?

Nothing to do with this post, but aren’t my trick-or-treaters cute?!

Yes! I did say changes!

I’ve been working hard (and long) on making those changes behind the scenes, but have run into some major snafus, including now not being able to access my www.momistheonlygirl.com domain! Let me tell ya! Technology!

Anyway, since things aren’t seeming to work out as I had planned, I’ve tried my best to return everything to the original www.momistheonlygirl.blogspot.com settings. Please make note of that if you’d like to keep up to date with my posts and are following along via e-mail (but hopefully you’ll still get updates from me!)

That said, if I am not able to work through all of this I’ll still be making some changes around here and following through with my plan (to offer my basic planner and a few other goodies I’ve been working on).

If I disappear again for a few days (or weeks) know that I’m just trying to get focused and bring you more content targeting moms in the pre-school and early elementary school stage as well as fun activities for you and your kiddos to enjoy together!

Exciting Changes Underway

Just a quick post to let you all know I’m working on those changes I mentioned a few weeks ago!

Right now to transfer to WordPress is taking place. I will be leaving Mom is the Only Girl up on blogspot, trying to point everything to WordPress, but it might be a little hairy since I’m doing it all on my own. (Money’s tight, y’all…I know you can all relate!)

So please make sure to check back in a week or so…hopefully the update will appear seamless to you and you’ll start receiving posts and updates again without a glitch!

If you’re really wanting to read or look for ideas before the switch, please check out my blogspot link!

Child-like Faith

The other night as I was tucking five-year-old Sweet Pea in bed, he was really adamant I pray for something. I thought it would be for a new train (he’s always reminding us he needs one). I paused like any good mother would and asked what I should pray for.

God to give me good dreams. Only good dreams.

My heart ached. I remembered for several nights before he had been waking up sweating and crying after horrible dreams and would cling to me like he would never let go.

As moms we want to take away all the scariness, make them feel safe and secure so they can sleep at night. We give them lovies, their favorite blankets. We play soft music to cover the noises of the night and give them night lights when they are afraid of the dark. What a simple thing for a child to pray in faith that God will take away the bad dreams – the dreams we cannot do anything about!

My child has the faith God can give him good dreams (we pray for this every night now). His child-like faith reminded me how gentle God is and how powerful He is in the same moment.

The Invisible Boy, a book I really like

This post contains an affiliate link, which is for an item I highly recommend. Making a purchase through this link in no way increases the cost of the product. It just gives this blogger a (little) extra income.

Yesterday I shared a great book about colors, counting and bullying. Today I thought I’d share a book for the shy child. I can totally relate to this book because I could have been the main character in my early elementary grades.

The Invisible Boy, by Trudy Ludwig, (links to author’s page) starts out with “Can you see Brian, the invisible boy?” The illustrations show him in pencil sketch at the beginning of the book. He was always the last to be picked for group games and was never invited to parties. No one seems to notice him. But then a new boy starts at the school and invites him to be involved. As he participates more and more he becomes more than a pencil sketch!


As a shy child I had a difficult time, hesitating to be involved because I was so unsure of myself. I could relate to Brian, sometimes feeling I was just a figment of someone’s imagination, watching everything go on around me, but not being part of it. I know there are kiddos today who will be comforted by this book.

This book is a gentle reminder for children to be nice to everyone and include all in their activities. It shows them they can make a difference by being a friend.

If you have a child who is feeling a little shy or a child who easily makes friends, this is a very good book to share with them!

What books can you recommend for a shy child?

Mom is the Only Girl participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. This means there is no additional cost to you if you click on the link and purchase this item.

 

 

Breast Cancer Awareness Month ~ My Experience

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Show Your Support-Grab A Badge!

I sit here in the sitting room of the Breast Cancer Center waiting for my name to be called for my mammogram. I’m watching anxious feet rise and fall as ladies are sitting, their legs crossed, waiting for their names to be called or for their mammogram results. I’m noticing there are very few that look my age.

This is a much different than the first time I shared my mammogram experience with you.
It’s odd, the feeling in this room today. There’s a group of ladies chatting busily in the corner. From the conversation I think they are old friends and come as a group every year. There are pages of magazines flipping, ladies sipping non-caffienated tea. Ladies coming and going, some to the massage therapist while they wait, others going with the nurse. Relaxing piano music playing from speakers above, HGTV on the big screen, fish swimming around the huge fish tank in the middle of the room. A very casual, relaxing atmosphere, although those feet are still rising and falling and there’s a bit of anxiety in the air.


After a short wait and recognition of my surroundings, my name is called by a nice young nurse and I’m escorted to a small, dimly-lit room filled with machines. I set my things down and do as I’m gently directed.

There’s nothing embarrassing about removing my arm from the dressing gown and allowing the nurse to place my breasts exactly how she needs to. There is pressure, but no pain. I hold my breath as she instructs, the machine whirs and the process repeats.

I have dense breasts, so today they are taking 3D images. That’s why the movable part of the machine also moves for two of the pictures, but the plate I’m placed on stays still (and I try to stay extremely still, as directed.)

Five minutes later I’m back in my chair in the waiting room, patiently waiting for the results. This facility has doctors on staff who review the images immediately. I’m sure that’s a relief to some who are worried.

My name is called again and this time I’m escorted to a small room off the waiting area. I’m handed a sheet of information that describes the type of breast tissue I have as well as the mammogram results. No suspicious lumps or spots were found on any of the images.

I change, take a look at the jewelry for sale in the lobby and leave. Whispering a prayer of thanks.
I notice the helicopter flying low overhead, the chill of fall in the air, the lady headed to her car next to mine, and I think…what would I have done if I weren’t given good news today.

I know some experiences are not the same as mine. In every case I am thankful technology exists that can detect breast cancer.

So grab a friend if you’re not sure about going alone, and make that appointment. Do your self breast exam in the shower (alone). It’s so much better to find it early…

 Did you see my friend, Lisa on the Dr. Oz show? An amazingly encouraging lady!

Colors, counting and bullying

This post contains an affiliate link, which is for an item I highly recommend. Making a purchase through this link in no way increases the cost of the product. It just gives this blogger a little extra income.

Are you trying to help a young child learn to count or learn their colors? Or, maybe even more importantly, trying to help a younger child deal with a little bullying situation? Then you would really like this book!

One, by Kathryn Otoshi, is such a simple color and counting book (it covers the numbers one through seven), but has a hidden message about bullying.


See, in this book “Blue was a quiet color. He like being blue… except when he was with Red.” Then one comes and teaches the colors “If someone is mean and picks on me, I, for One, stand up and say, No.”

In the end all of the colors realize that “Everyone counts!” Even Red.

I love the way this book addresses bullies in such a simple way. It is simply, in our humble opinion, a great book for every early elementary child.

Mom is the Only Girl participtes in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. This means there is no additional cost to you if you click on the link and purchase this item.

Lisa has Breast Cancer

Fighting Breast Cancer http://www.momistheonlygirl.comA friend of mine is fighting breast cancer. She
is currently undergoing chemotherapy. I want to introduce you to her via my
blog so you can put a face to breast cancer. (Watch Dr. Oz on Tuesday, October 21st, to hear her voice! Read ‘Why she e-mailed’ below!)
Lisa’s exact diagnosis was invasive ductal carcinoma stage 2a.
This means that it still had not spread to the lymph nodes. Her particular
cancer is estrogen and progesterone receptive and “HER2 NEU”
positive. She was told that this is a double-edged sword in a sense that it is
more aggressive due to the her2 neu factor, but that there is a specific,
relatively new medicine (a monoclonal antibody), called Herceptin that
addresses this fact.

This is just the kind of cancer Lisa has. There are lots of different
kinds of breast cancer and specific ways to
treat each one.

I asked Lisa about her course of treatment:

I just finished round 5 of
my 6 rounds of chemo and then I will do radiation for 5-6 weeks on a daily
basis. I will also continue to receive the Herceptin drug every three weeks for
a year. Luckily, it does not make me feel lousy, so once the radiation is over
with I hope to get my life back to some semblance of normal! 🙂

Breast cancer can be scary, but finding it early is so important to fighting
and surviving. I’m so glad my friend Lisa found it early!

Here are Lisa’s words: 

I am not sure if it’s due to having lost an Aunt
to this cursed disease or maybe that I tend to be a bit of a hypochondriac, but
I have always been afraid of getting breast cancer. Really afraid. So afraid in
fact, that I never wanted to get mammograms or do breast self exams for fear of
“finding something.” How’s that for flawed logic?!!  

Well, regardless, here I am. My worst nightmare
came true. And now that I have crossed over “to the other side,” I
can tell you without any hesitation that the fear of getting breast cancer was
FAR, FAR worse than actually facing it head on after finding it early. Sure,
half of 2014 has not been a picnic by any stretch, but knowing that this was
caught early (by me, doing a rare breast self exam on a whim) puts the fear of
this disease in a whole different light.  

The thing that I honestly did not know going into
all of this, was that most women do survive this! Especially if it is caught
early.
 

 I did not know that. It took from the time of my
diagnosis in May, until meeting with my current oncologist in July, to receive
that message. And in my opinion that little known fact is not broadcast loudly
enough. Had I known that, I would have checked my breasts far more frequently.
I would have checked them monthly like recommended so that I would have
recognized any changes in them right away. 

The more familiar you are with the feel of your
breasts now (even if they always feel sort of lumpy), the better you will be
able to recognize if a change in them does appear.
 And just for the record I found this on my own five
months after having a clear mammogram…. 

I got lucky. Really lucky. Had someone told me
that getting breast cancer would make me feel lucky, I would have thought they
were nuts. But the luck came with early detection from that lone breast exam
literally done on a whim. Ok, ’nuff said…now ladies go on out and check
your breasts!

Why she e-mailed:

Lisa was e-mailing about her exciting week when she shared
this. I wanted to take the time to share it with you, not because I thought it
was interesting, but because she has become such a proponent for breast cancer
awareness. And so you can put a face to this disease.
Her exciting week included a whirlwind trip to NYC to be on the
Dr. Oz show with Joan Lunden! Ms. Lunden is a huge advocate for
breast cancer awareness after being diagnosed herself, and went onto this show
to encourage others fighting this disease. She has been a huge encouragement to
Lisa, and Lisa finally got to meet her and tell her in person!
Tune in to watch Dr. Oz on Tuesday (that’s tomorrow!) October 21st
to put a face to my incredible, strong, beautiful (even beautifully bald!
Seriously she is!) friend Lisa. She is a fighter, and definitely fights like a
girl! And then make sure to check your breasts!

One way to ease home-from-school-time

When the kids first went back to school I was having a really hard time when they came home at the end of their school day. I was in my own world while they were gone. It was quiet, peaceful.
The kiddos would get off the bus, come inside and ~ LOUDNESS! My oasis was gone.

Have you felt like this or do you feel like this daily? They walk through the door and immediately everything changes, your little world is taken away. It’s not that you aren’t happy to see them, are curious about their day, or want them to be home with you. It’s just that the transition to them being home is so sudden and complete. It’s hard to make the transition.

To be honest, I was having a very difficult time switching gears until very recently. I reached out to mom friends on face book and asked for their advice. Most of them responded with after school routines that work for them, which were very helpful, however one response stood out above all the rest.

My friend’s words were so simple. About 15 minutes before the kids are due to come home stop and relax for a few minutes. End any projects in progress and put them away. Maybe have a glass of water or a snack and concentrate on how I want the kids to feel when they come home. Concentrate on them, what their day might have included (i.e. art, music, PE). Concentrate on being mom.

Now, my kids are still noisier than ever when they come home and have too much energy for me, but this simple change in my focus, in my attitude has made a huge difference. I’m able to handle the transition now with a little more grace and love.

My focus has become them, not my work. It is all outward, to welcome them home. It’s to make them feel loved. I am no longer concentrating on my tasks in my life that they’ve interrupted, but I’m loving them with my life.

A simple change in focus, planned and thought out, has totally changed home-from-school-time for this mom!

Breast Cancer Survivor’s Story {Repost}

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A few years ago I shared my mom’s breast cancer story. She’s now a 9 year survivor. She still attends local survivor support group meetings and walks in the Relay for Life. She is living a ‘normal’ life again, but is forever changed from her experience. I thought I’d repost the initial interview from 2011 today.



How old were you when you were diagnosed with breast cancer?

I was 64 years old when I was diagnosed, and am a 6 year survivor! (She’s now a 9 year survivor!)

Is there a history of breast cancer in our family?

There is a history of breast cancer in our family included my Aunt Ethel, who was my mother’s sister.

How did you discover you had this disease?

I had a regular yearly appointment with my gynecologist, which included a mammogram and they found a small lump. I was then referred to one of our local surgeons.

What happened next, to determine what procedure you would have? What did this involve?

Follow up with the surgeon resulted in having a biopsy and what seemed a really long wait before getting the results. My sister-in-law accompanied me to that appointment and when the Dr. told me it was cancerous I was in disbelief at first. I was glad I had someone with me to hear that bad news. The only good part was that it was smaller than expected and could be taken care of.

http://www.momistheonlygirl.com Breast Cancer Survivor

What were your first thoughts? What did you do, who did you tell?

All I thought of at the time was what my husband had to go through with his gastro cancer and I did not want to have to go through the same thing. I cried a lot. When one hears that diagnosis, you think the worst. I knew I had to tell my children, which was the worst thing to do, not knowing the outcome of anything. So I just had to tell them and hoped they would pray for me.  Of course, they did, especially my youngest daughter and her husband, they were terrific.

There are many possible procedures for breast cancer removal. What did they recommend, and do you know why they recommended it?

My surgeon discussed my prognosis and the procedure that would be performed. He recommended a lumpectomy rather than a mastectomy because the site was smaller than expected. My surgery was done 2 months after the initial diagnosis, with 10 lymph nodes removed for biopsy (which were negative). Surgery was performed on March 9th 2004 and I was released from hospital March 11th, with drain tubes intact, meaning they were still attached to my body. I had to care for that area as well as the surgery site during the first part of my recovery. I received radiation, rather than chemo, for 36 weeks. Even during and after the radiation treatments I had an accumulation of fluid at the surgery site that had to be aspirated in the office. That was a little scary, having just gone through everything to have another lump appear, but thankfully it was just fluid.

What support did you have throughout this ordeal and what support do you continue to have, if any?

I had spiritual and moral support from my immediate family, children, brother and sister-in-law.  My sister-in-law happily accompanied me to my follow-up appointments.  She was a God-send because she acted as a second set of ears for me. The oncology nurse practitioner was one of two that coordinated a cancer support group in my area and encouraged me to attend the meetings. As part of that group we started out in one small room and soon had to move to a bigger facility and eventually, an even larger one! Anyone can attend the meetings, survivors and caregivers, current patients-anyone interested in getting information about cancer.  All types of cancers are covered, not just breast cancer. We even have some gentlemen that attend. An “I Can Cope” event is held each October with guest speakers that touch on all phases of cancer treatments, programs available, financial concerns, as well as other programs and events in the area.
I would encourage anyone to search out a support group to attend if only to just listen to others.  Besides being able to get more up to date information, you end up with some very good friends.  It is a plus to be able to actually get out with others, especially others that know what each of us have been, or are going through.
My mom is a fighter, and through this has discovered the amount of fight she has in her. I’m happy we moved back to NYS in time for me to be there for her, even though I wasn’t there as much as I wanted to be. I’m very proud of who my mom has become as a result of all of this hardship. 
I wanted to re-post this interview because I believe hearing positive stories about the outcomes of this fight is important, plants a seed that the fight is worth it, even though it may be difficult. I hope and pray a cure can be found for breast cancer and all cancers, but also believe knowledge is so important. 

Please arm yourself with knowledge and support if this is something you ever have to go through personally or are affected by it in some way, and remember it’s worth the fight!

The Buffalo Zoo Day Trip

The Buffalo Zoo is only about an hour away, but it’s taken us until this summer to take a day trip there with the boys. It was such a great day! The weather was perfect and it was just the activity to keep Sweet Pea engaged, but not participating in the activities he was restricted from after his concussion.

Since this was our first visit to this zoo, I thought I give a little review in case you are in the area and want to know what it is like before going with your kiddos. This is a relatively small zoo, but there was still a lot of walking involved! (And if you are planning to eat lunch in the surrounding park, like we did, the entrance by the parking lot is the closest – and at the time was the only one open! We walked the entire way around the outside of the zoo looking for the entrance!)

Day trip to Buffalo Zoo http://www.momistheonlygirl.com

At the time we visited, the main gate was undergoing a little construction. It made it a little confusing to enter, but once in we loved it! Buffalo Zoo has different animals than the Seneca Park Zoo, which we most frequently visit. For one, we got to see a gorilla! That alone was pretty cool for us, but hiding in the corner was a baby gorilla! Talk about endearing!

My boys were mesmerized, watching the way the gorilla was eating, using all of his fingers, hunched over. Every once in a while he would give us what my hubby calls ‘the hairy eyeball’, as if to say “I know you are watching, and you’d better watch it!”
Buffalo Zoo http://www.momistheonlygirl.com
The M&T Rainforest Falls building was amazing! It’s like walking into a rainforest, complete with birds flying and perched overhead, crocodiles in the lazy river below your feet. The little monkeys were adorable and looked like they wanted us to take them home! The color of the birds was so incredible, and climbing the stairs to the overlook we were as high as them in the trees. 
Getting this close to the animals is great, however, with there being no glass in between us and the animals it means some zoo-goers got to experience the bird waste, which, I was told, was very hot! The on-looker said it was a good thing she wasn’t looking up when it happened! (Just to warn you, not to gross you out! I had never even given that possibility a thought!)
Buffalo Zoo http://www.momistheonlygirl.com
Giraffes were the real reason we headed to The Buffalo Zoo. ‘Our’ zoo doesn’t have any, and at the time Sweet Pea was totally in to giraffes. These are amazing creatures, with their long legs and necks…we hung around their building a bit, hoping to see them eat, but the boys got restless. Seeing them was definitely a highlight for all of us!
Buffalo Zoo http://www.momistheonlygirl.com
Poor Sweet Pea was a little tired after a full day of walking, reading about the animals and drawing them. (Oh, yeah, did I mention both boys brought their journals so they could draw pictures of the animals they saw in their own habitats? Totally cool from this mom’s perspective!) This was only a couple of days after he suffered his concussion, but was a good option for someone who wasn’t supposed to run and jump.
In this respect, I should tell you about the Dinosaur Dig area – which Cutie Pie was extremely excited about! Kids can enter a small, covered area that is filled with small pebbles, pick an area and, using tools provided, dig for fossils (which were really cement and attached to the ground.) Cutie Pie especially loved this, not because he loves dinosaurs, but also because they were fossils he hadn’t felt before. 
We’ve been to a few places that have this type of interactive play area, and they all seem to let you uncover different sets of fossils. This area of the zoo took us the longest, because both boys enjoyed it so much! It was perfect as it allowed all of us to engage in an activity that allowed us to sit!
This trip to the Buffalo Zoo was a really great day for us as a family. There were a couple of things that could have made our trip better – if the entrance was better marked, and if we came with a few dollar bills as there was a ‘train’ ride and a carousel ride. Of course, on a hot day all the animals smelled, but that’s normal!
If you plan a trip, go ahead and use their website. It’s pretty accurate, and we found it very helpful!
Do you have any tips to make a family trip to the zoo even more fun?

They’re so little

Still little http://www.momistheonlygirl.com

Sweet Pea has been doing really well going to school, actually excitedly, on the school bus. A few times, though I’ve taken them, instead. He doesn’t do as well on those mornings. That separation anxiety roars its head again.

My heartstrings don’t want to let him go when I see his shoulders slump and hear the sadness in his voice as he says goodbye to me. I encourage him to go on walking with his brother after a hug and kiss, but the reluctance…oh the reluctance.

Watching my little boy, shoulders slumped, shoes dragging, head hanging, arms hung low by his sides with that huge backpack making his body look so much smaller…I’m reminded so vividly that he is just a little boy. Five years old and walking into that big building, to deal with seemingly immense obstacles to such a tiny mind.

Some days we moms think our kids should ‘act their age’ and ‘buck up’, can handle that chore by themselves. That they have the abilities to complete the task. And they might have those abilities, or be able to handle a certain assignment, or be able to stop crying because they didn’t fall that hard.

But they are just our little ones.

They still want need us to tuck them in at night. They still need us to kiss their boo boos, or help them back up again. They need to hear us say ‘You can do it!’ ‘You’re ok!’ ‘I love you!’

Maybe next time their shoulders slump we should drink it in, remember their little hands in ours and hold them to us for just a few more minutes to give them comfort.

They are, after all, still our little ones.

A Fun Way to Support Breast Cancer Research

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I like to check out The Mom Edit (Styling for mom from bump to beyond) for fun mom-friendly fashion tips, cuz I definitely need them! Shana has a knack for style and shares her tips and links to her favorite clothes in a very real and relaxed way that you feel like you know her. But ya know what, she is also a breast cancer survivor.

You can read Shana’s very real account of what she did when she first heard the diagnosis along with her experiences through treatment and more over at The Mom Edit, with this link to her posts having anything to do with breast cancer.

I don’t share this just to point you to her awesome blog (and fashion lifesaver for me!) but because she is partnering with Stella and Dot to spoil someone rotten. Specifically someone currently fighting breast cancer or a breast cancer survivor. And you can be a part of it! This is all to raise money for the Noreen Fraser Foundation. Stella and Dot is donating 100% of proceeds from their Hope line to the Noreen Fraser Foundation. Isn’t that awesome?! 

The Mom Edit is hosting an online trunk show to accumulate points (in addition to the proceeds to be donated) which will be used to pamper the winners!

Please go to this blog post and place an order through Shana’s link to donate and to help accumulate points to spoil some ladies whose lives are forever affected by breast cancer!