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Taking the pledge to play + a Green Toys giveaway!

 

As you may, or may not know, my family recently decided to take a step back and move back to Michigan, where the towns are small and everything is slower. With that, I feel as if I’ve had a sort of revelation with my parenting. One of the biggest changes has been the fact that we no longer have a TV on the main floor, so that “crutch” for me automatically has gone down quite a bit. I’m not saying that we’re perfect, by any means, however, we’ve all come to a different reality. We stopped and played. We’ve colored together. We’ve spent 4+ hours at the park, or played tag outside in the backyard.

We’ve imagined. We’ve explored. (And we have discovered that our 10+ acre property wooded area is covered with poison ivy. Eeek!)

William has been a pirate.

Both kids need a bath practically every single day, and go to bed utterly exhausted. I feel as if we’ve grown together as a family- at least I know that me and the kids have. While William would play outside all day if I let him, Vivien looks forward to the days that she doesn’t have to take a nap, and we hang out in the afternoon. She begs me to play “pretend wedding” with her. I’ve been letting her play with my silver tea service set, and most of the days she will sit down and come up with some hysterical scenes in her pretend play, in which we act out. Most of the time it involves eating cakes and drinking tea.

When Green Toys approached me about their #PledgeToPlay campaign, it was seriously the perfect fit for us, at this point!

Here’s some more info about it:

It’s easy! For one hour each day, pledge to turn off your technology and turn towards each other for good old-fashioned playtime. A down on the ground, make a mountain with a pillow or an ocean of your bathtub kind of playWe call it 100% play and there are no batteries necessary. So while you are making quality connections with your family, you are also saving energy!

Share your 100% play moments by posting a picture on Facebook and Instagram with #PledgetoPlay. Five lucky players will win a Green Toys toy chest packed with everything you need to 100% play, including our brand new Puzzles, Cupcake Set, and Rescue Boat & Helicopter ($150 value)! The pledge starts with Earth Hour on 3/19 and ends Earth Day, 4/22.

We seriously love the cupcake set from Green Toys for pretend play. We have always loved Green Toys because it’s made out of recycled materials, and is affordable, yet amazing quality.

One hour of play a day. One hour a day without checking my phone, or instagramming the crap out of every single breath they take. You guys, it’s been hard for me! I admit I am not the most awesome mom when it comes to playing pretend with my kids. I’m more of a “I’ll take you someplace cool and we’ll go a billion places” kind of mom. But so far, we’ve been rocking this challenge, and I urge you to give it a try! Snap a few photos and #latergram the snot out of them that night while you’re silently willing yourself to go to sleep with the lights off.

Want more?  You have the chance to win the Green Toys Cupcake set, right here, right now!

I’ll do this down and dirty style and make it as easy as possible. Leave me a comment below, telling me your most favorite activity you did with your kiddo this past week. I will randomly choose a number, and if your comment number wins, you win! Wahoo! Winner will be chosen and announced at midnight, April 22.

Good luck!


Nurturing open discussions (part 2)

I got some awesome feedback from my past post on how I nurture open discussions with my preschooler about “tough” topics. I am partnering with Good To Know Colorado yet again, because Spring break is coming up for schools nationwide and having an open and honest conversation is one of the most effective ways to deter illegal underage retail marijuana use.

Why does it matter? 

It’s important for parents to share information and resources amongst ourselves so that we can be armed with pertinent and correct information to pass along to our children. Talk to your children, and keep the communication channel open for future talks, as well.

Additionally, speak to the parents of your children’s friends. Approach the topic from a knowledgeable standpoint, rather that an accusatory one. Discuss proper storage, and where marijuana should be located in the home in order to minimize the risk of it getting into the hands of the children.

Consider getting your “tribe” to spearhead a movement. Are you part of a PTA, local Mom’s Club, book club or playgroup? The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has developed many resources available at www.GoodToKnowColorado.com/talk for your organization to learn more about retail marijuana youth prevention efforts and how to implement youth prevention in your community.

Having these types of conversations doesn’t have to be frightening, or make you sound judgmental, as long as you approach it correctly, from a loving standpoint.

Have you ever spoken to your friends and family about preventing underage retail marijuana use? How did that conversation go? If not, what are some opportunities in everyday life that would provide an “in” for this type of conversation to occur?


This post is Sponsored by Single Edition Media on behalf of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. All opinions and viewpoints are 100% my own.


That time we moved to Michigan

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you will have realized that our little family recently moved cross country (again!), this time to Michigan.

“Why Michigan?!” you may ask. 

Well, simply put, I grew up here. I lived in Michigan from when I was 10 years old, until I moved away when I was 20. And truthfully? I couldn’t escape fast enough. I had a variety of reasons that basically, made me despise my hometown for a very long time. But, everyone grows up. Matures. I like to think that I did both of those things pretty successfully. After all, I got married, divorced, learned how to survive 100% on my own in Southern California, got married to Eli, had a few kids, moved to both Northern California and Colorado…well, the list goes on.

One of my realizations during my journey was the utmost importance of family. And I couldn’t help but miss them, every single day. I missed the craziness, the (ridiculously loud) get togethers for every single occasion and holiday known to mankind, and having my kids exposed to that experience. I missed having my mom around to watch the kids so Eli and I could step out alone for an hour- whether it’s to go to a football game in Ann Arbor, or just down the street to the grocery store. And, as much as I hate to admit it, I missed Michigan.

When we came back here for vacation in September, we kind of jokingly threw around the idea of “what if we moved here?” Realistically, the cost of living is drastically lower in Eastern Michigan compared to Denver. (Shocker, right? Sike.) Our home that we bought in Colorado was valued (literally) 50% higher than we purchased it for back in 2012. It seemed fiscally responsible to “cash in” on the crazy housing market, when the value was so high. Eli and I always had dreams of owning land, and taking a step back, and it seemed like the perfect chance to do so.

We sold our home in Colorado very quickly, and made an offer on the “perfect” one to appease our laundry-list of wishes. It’s a gorgeous home, nestled on a private road and has 10.5 acres of land, and the kids are ecstatic over the pool and hot tub in the backyard. I have wild “homesteading” dreams, and it’s the ideal location to begin that endeavor. (More to come on that!)

We ended up driving away from Colorado on March 11th. Eli and I were both sobbing as we drove away, because we left some pretty amazing people & family behind. We had no intentions of ever moving, so tearing my kids away from their playgroup they’ve been best friends with since birth was the hardest thing I’ve done in a while. When we moved into our home in Colorado, I imagined having my kids grow up there. I dreamt of Vivien walking down the stairs and meeting her prom date, and William rolling his eyes at me as I took 4,000 photos of him in the front yard before going on his first date.

But, things change. Dreams change. Admittingly, I don’t typically handle change well. I tend to internalize until I break down. That’s why this blog has always been such a great outlet for me to express myself, creatively.

I almost feel as if we are taking a step back, as a family. We are removing ourselves from the hustle and craziness to plant some roots, harvest the land, and grow together as a family unit. Part of me is terrified. Part of me is excited. But I am (mostly) sure that this was the right decision for the family.

Ironically, this blog was started back in 2009 when I moved away from my support-net of friends. I continued it as I quit my job and we moved to Colorado, and now it’s following us to Michigan a few years later. Life is a stupidly-weird journey, and to quote one of my favorite movies, “ Life’s a box of chocolates, Forrest. You never know what you’re gonna get.”


How to have real conversations with your preschooler about tough issues.

Disclaimer: This post tackles some heavy subjects that you may or may not agree with politically, religiously, or socially. The purpose is not to pass judgment, but to simply open up the channels of communication with your child to spur a rational discussion. This post is sponsored by #GoodToKnow, but the opinions are all my own.

Doesn’t it feel like the children of today have more “worries” than we ever did as a child? In hindsight, I fully remember walking to the 7-11 near my house as a small child to purchase treats. I remember finally being deemed “old enough” to responsibly cross the busy street outside my neighborhood solo. I remember giggling with neighborhood friends over the sketchy bum that (literally) lived inside a giant tree in the abandoned lot next to said 7-11. I remember solo play, away from the watchful eyes of my parents. Some may say that it was a different world back then (and I agree that, in some respects, it was!) and that “bad” things didn’t happen as often as they do now. Maybe they did. Maybe they didn’t. All I know is that I wouldn’t have traded the experience of independent play for anything in the world. It was what I needed, and my mom was smart enough to recognize that and raise me to have these experiences safely.
As much as I try to be the mother that my mom was (is), I often times find myself having to have different discussions with Vivien than what I got at her age. I mean, let’s be serious, I fully remember my dad bringing our first TV that worked with a legit remote control (rather than the dial knob) into the house – yet my 4-year-old can unlock my smart phone and Kindle, pull up the Netflix app, log in to her own individualized profile, and select what show she would like to watch - all by herself. This past weekend, she told me to “post my selfie to facebook for all my friends to see.”


As much as we may fight it (or embrace it!) it really is a different world. 


The other day, we were running an errand as a family and we had to make a pit-stop to grab some cash at the Rite-Aid near my house. As you may know, we live in Colorado, where retail marijuana was legalized back in 2012 and retail sales began in January of 2014. Now don’t stop reading, because I promise you, this post won’t suddenly take a political turn for the worse. Directly next to the Rite-Aid, a brand new cannabis store is under construction, and I turned and made a comment to Eli about the progress of the “pot shop” and how quickly it was coming to fruition.
Later that night, it got me thinking about how to broach the subject of responsible retail marijuana use with my child in the future. While neither my husband nor I personally partake in marijuana, it is very likely that my kids will be faced with it sometime in the future, in some aspect. I know that Eli and I both enjoy alcoholic drinks (extremely responsibly) either with dinner, or socially, while sometimes in the presence of the kids, and retail marijuana could potentially become as widespread and common as it is to see Daddy holding a beer at a Super Bowl party.
Just think: no generation since the prohibition days have been privy to witness a substance go from being illegal, to legal. That’s mind boggling to me, and comes hand in hand with so many additional responsibilities or “talking points” to teach children how to be responsible, even at a young age. I want to be prepared to talk to my child about anything, and I know that the day is very near when she asks me what store is next to Rite-Aid. You see, she’s obsessed with recognizing logos. Homegirl can proudly spot a Chick-Fil-A from miles away. She begs me to stop the car at every single Target bullseye we pass (and let’s be honest here, I usually oblige with that one.) She knows we go grocery shopping at Sprouts, and that she gets new (ridiculous looking) cat leggings at H&M.


So that night, I went home and mentally made a list of talking points of how I’d like to broach the subject once it comes up. (I also have a mental list on “where babies come from” along with a slew of other topics.)

1. Share relevant facts and discuss how it relates to them:

  • Right now, the retail sale of recreational marijuana is legal in only four states: Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska. While laws about consumption may vary from state to state, both states recognize it as a substance that is reserved for those 21 years of age and over, and it is illegal to operate a vehicle under the influence of marijuana, or partake in it under the age of 21. Now how do I broach that point to my child? Simply discussing that it’s an “adult” substance will suffice if you’re having a talk with a smaller child. The older the child gets, the more this point can be embellished upon. You can even use it as a teachable moment on discussing democracy, and voting, and how something once illegal became legal based on that state’s majority vote.

2. Avoid using blanket terms:

  • Kids are very literal. Avoid using blanket terms such as “bad” or anything else that they may construe differently than what you intended. Communicate with your child what the shop on the corner sells, just as easily as you’d do if they asked you what the liquor store down the street sells. (Did you know that in Colorado, you have to actually buy alcohol from the liquor store? Coming from California where you could find anything you want at your local drugstore, it was a weird adjustment for me.)

3. Keep the communication line open for the future, and evolve your discussion as they age:

  • If you flippantly tell your small child that “pot is bad” and change the subject quickly, they may not feel comfortable asking you questions about the subject in the future. Strive to have an open conversation about it, that leaves them comfortable to approach you with more questions in the future.

While I realize that opinions about the subject mentioned here may differ, the fact of the matter is simple: retail marijuana is a legal substance in the state in which we currently reside, and being prepared to handle this topic calmly and respectfully is important.

One of the best ways to keeps kids from using retail marijuana is for parents to educate themselves enough to have a factual, yet open and honest conversation with their children. GoodToKnowColorado.com/Talk is full of useful information for adults to do just that, such as tips and tools to start talking to kids about marijuana so they can make healthy choices themselves. With holiday break right around the corner, it’s a great time to have an open and honest conversation.

The points I mentioned above can/should ideally be used for any topic that your child may question, whether it be religion, or sex or drugs. Am I alone in wanting to be prepared for how to handle these topics as they arise?

 

If you’ve had a similar discussion with your child, I’d love to hear any tips or tricks; or please tell me in the comment section if you’d change or add anything to my mental (now technically, written) list above.


Sharing is Caring (especially in SeptemBEAR)

Lately my children have been going through a super amazing phase. And I say that with 100% sarcastic undertones.

Sibling fighting.

I’m here to tell you that it’s real, and it’s real painful. It typically stems from one of the kids wanting the toy the other is holding, and they then take it upon themselves to simply take it from the other. It usually ends in a brawl, with the little one letting out a mad, high pitched scream and retaliating by hitting his sister, thus leading to her waterworks show. Really, it’s an eventful thing that I wish I wasn’t privy to. Ever.

I’ve been stressing the importance of sharing and caring with your sibling so many times I feel like a broken record. My “solution” this past summer has been to keep busy, and keep the kids out of the house and out of the Fight Club (aka: the playroom) I’ve bought books that emphasize sharing with your sibling, and we’ve watched children’s shows with that as the theme as well- but unfortunately, nothing seems to be working all the time.

My own siblings are quite a bit older than me, so I guess I just never experienced this type of fighting/arguing first-hand. The only thing that has recently started helping the situation is doing exercises constantly with sharing. We’ve taken turns, and instead of fighting over toys, we’ve used them to resolve conflict. For example, sometimes our toys are “sad” when they get fought over. Or a certain stuffed animal has to have a “time out” until both kids can agree to share nicely.

Our Snuggle Bears came at the perfect time, and I loved introducing it as both the kid’s bear, and having Vivien (typically the instigator) turn around and share it nicely with William. So, in a sense, the Snuggle Share Bear is helping us resolve conflicts (and it’s super cute, to boot!)

Did you know that September 9th is National Teddy Bear Day?

#ShareABear is a movement to show the world that something as small as gifting a teddy bear can brighten one’s day! Snuggle Bear will be making the world a softer place by personally donating 5,000 teddy bears to people who need them most. Since Snuggle Bear can only spread the teddy bear magic so far, everyone’s help is needed! Snuggle is asking fans to share their favorite teddy bear memories through photos, stories, and videos the entire month of SeptemBEAR.