Kindergarten Nesting- First Time Kindergarten Mom

My firstborn just finished his first year of Kindergarten. There were so many emotions in the weeks leading up to him starting school and there is so much I learned throughout the year that I just have to share.

Before we even get into tips and tricks for starting school- if you haven’t taught your child to tie their shoes yet, use these last few weeks of August to work on that. It was something I completely forgot to do. My son went all through kindergarten without knowing how, and I think it was OK- but it is much easier if they can develop that skill early on.

Nesting. You will most likely go through a nesting period ironically similar to nesting before you welcomed your baby home years ago. I couldn’t believe this! I felt like the whole house needed to be immaculately cleaned and organized because I wouldn’t possibly have time once we start the school weekly grind. I mean what if I can’t find his socks and we are running late for school?

***Professional Mom tip- Keep 2-3 brand new packs of socks in the cupboard in the laundry room. This way when you can’t find a matching pair of clean socks- you just steal a pair from the new pack. Buy some warm socks for winter & ankle kind for spring to wear with shorts. *** Have I ever mentioned I am NOT a morning person.

Another thing I highly recommend doing while “nesting” is make some freezer meals!  (tons of good recipes on Pinterest). I love making chicken dump meals. Super easy- just throw some raw chicken in a gallon Ziploc bag and add some marinades. Freeze away, let thaw when you are ready to use and dump into the crock pot! You can even buy pre made marinades from the store if you are in a pinch. I am so not organized enough to have all my favorite recipes handy but if you need help with this- I have done freezer meals several times I can dig up some of my favs for you or give you more tips and tricks. The time you spend prepping freezer meals is SO helpful during the busy after school days to come.

School Shopping- I must have read his school shopping list a few dozen times. I wanted to make sure he had everything he needed. My son has never went to daycare so maybe this was harder for me, but when it said to purchase a resting mat- I did tons of research. Will it be scary for him to rest at school? Will he be comfortable? Do I get the 1/2″ or the 1″. Oh no, this one only has 3 star reviews. Oh gosh but he needs a sheet for it. Could my Mom make one? Or do I just buy one? Amazon Prime it is. Too funny looking back. I highly recommend doing your school shopping online. I did some on Amazon and some on Target’s website. I think this depends on how many kids you have. My oldest is the oldest of 4 and my husband works long hours as a farmer, so for me, it is simply hard to get to the store. But it was nice to just go down the shopping list, type it into the search bar and away you go.

Here’s another tip on school shopping. Get good quality shoes but don’t break the bank. May rolled around for him and his shoes were getting too small, and he completely ripped a hole in the toe of the shoe. His backpack is also completely destroyed. I bought a really nice oversized one thinking he’d get 2-3 years out of it. No- he drags it a lot instead of wearing it correctly, ha!

Take some time and get yourself organized for the overwhelming amount of paperwork and projects that will start to come home. Oh my lanta. The weekly Newsletter was pinned to the fridge with a magnetic clip. His everyday worksheets, I would acknowledge that I saw him- tell him good job, and trash them. (There will be 3 more tomorrow, don’t worry!). He was upset at first, but I told him we only get to keep our favorites. Find a spot to display them if you can. I have a chicken wire memo board with clothespins. I love to display the ones that they put thought into or the ones that are seasonal. Once they come down from the memo board, they are either tossed, or placed into a box for keepsake. May seem like useless tips for now, but you will quickly have a huge stack on your kitchen counter and be overwhelmed.

Every school is different but for my son there were weekly things to remember. Wednesday was library day, Thursday was show & tell, and then he had quick little reading homework to hand in 1-2 times a week. You’ll get the hang of it. But when you first start reading everything there is to remember for certain days of the week it gets overwhelming at first. I checked the newsletter almost every day to try and keep on top of it.

Lunch $- because I’m a nerd, I went ahead and calculated how many school days there were and multiplied it by the cost per day of school lunch. You can then break this into a monthly or quarterly amount so that you can stay on top of their lunch account. I did this so that I didn’t have to be worried about it. I didn’t want to get a low lunch account balance notice after I just finished an Amazon Prime shopping binge. Better to be prepared, haha 🙂

One last thing, your child is going to come home and most likely be moody, hangry, wired up, or ready to wind down. Sibling rivalry also explodes after school at my house. Be prepared with after school snacks or an early supper. A Mom friend of mine gave me the neatest trick- make a snack tray and have it in the fridge or counter, ready to set on the kitchen table for snack times. She had mandarin oranges, crackers, ham, & cheese all cut up and on a little snack tray ready to go. Thought that was a great idea! Just do your thing, get in the grind and love on your little kindergartner. Because you will be AMAZED how much they learn in kindergarten. You will have a budding reader in no time, a child who can count money, a child who disappears to play independently and wind down after school.

 

 

 

 

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Why Didn’t Anyone Tell Me?

Recently, a good friend who became a Mom for the first time last year broke down to me and asked “Why Didn’t Anyone Tell Me?”. She was referring to the loss of self identity, the body image issues, and just the overwhelming weight of motherhood.

It hit me in the gut, and I felt incredibly responsible. I felt like I should have warned her. I should have explained to her so many things. But then I got to thinking. No amount of warning or explanation could have truly prepared her for motherhood. Motherhood is a journey. Everyone’s journey is a little bit different. The journey is filled with immense joy, the highest highs you will ever know, and also a journey filled with many trials. In motherhood we all struggle with different things and the truth is there are many phases. Let the age old saying resonate with you, please, “This too shall pass.”. It won’t always be this way.

I’m assuming as you read along that you are a Mom, about to be a Mom, or you care about someone that is a Mom. I want to spend some time talking about self identity and body image. You guys, everything changes for Moms when they give birth. Your body seemingly is no longer your own! Nurturing a child in the womb, and then carrying the Mom pouch for many months (or years.. I don’t judge), as a reminder of those 9 months. Clothes do not fit the same. At all. You try desperately to dress in a way that hides your Mom pouch as best possible. You try to fit in dieting and exercise but if you’re like me you are often to exhausted to even think about targeted fitness and your diet consists of finishing your kids chicken nuggets, the occasional comfort meal, and anything quick and easy. Don’t get me wrong I try to cook healthy, and I encourage a healthy lifestyle. But my point is, life happens as a Mom and you do what you can to survive.

And losing your body to breastfeeding or pumping? Girl, I hear you. I can hardly look at my breast pump. I was attached to it for over a year with my boys when I exclusively pumped. I was blessed enough to exclusively breastfeed my last 2 babies and the experience and bond is so special. But it is incredibly challenging to be so deeply bonded that you have to avoid eye contact with the baby if you are trying to get something done. Talk about losing your self identity. If my baby sees me, she wants me. Which I love.. most of the time. But I pretty much feel like a walking Boob.

Anyway, you realize I’ve been there. I am there. I struggle with body issues. I struggle with the loss of myself. Especially as a stay at home Mom. When your spouse’s career provides the family’s main income, it takes precedence. Especially on a working farm that is open 24/7, 365. I have felt my only purpose is to care for the kids and the house. And provide meals. Of course my friends and family love me, and there is purpose in that. But when you have no free time to just be yourself and to do things you enjoy, for me, it destroyed me.

In the beginning, I took pride in being the #1 Mom that rarely needed help. I quietly did what was necessary to take care of my kids and I complained only to my husband. I isolated myself for a long time. I believed my friends were no longer my friends because they didn’t have kids yet. When I quit my full time job to stay home with the kids, I isolated myself further for at least a year. Our budget was so tight, I avoided leaving the house because I was afraid I would buy something and overspend. (Let’s be real I for sure would buy something! I mean, Target.). It got so lonely.

I have lost parts of myself. My #1 hobby is on hold right now during motherhood. I absolutely love horses. They completely fill me up inside. But I just couldn’t afford to have them anymore and my time is so limited to be able to care for and enjoy horses. And I also feared for my safety as I was bucked off from my very well trained gelding while pregnant with my first child. It is a sacrifice I made, and I can’t wait to bring them back into my life and teach my kids to ride in just a few short years hopefully.

I have learned to ask for and take what I need. I absolutely love being home with my kids but I needed something for myself. This goes for working Moms too. Hone in to what brings you joy and schedule that &*@! in. If you want to walk around Target aimlessly after work or on a Tuesday morning, find a way to make it happen. If you want to pursue writing, or fit in jogging, or attend a class or a workshop, do not be afraid to ask for help. If you cannot do supper tonight, call the darn pizza place! You deserve to do you. I don’t know what that looks like in your life. Tag teaming with the hubby? Asking a parent or a friend. Rearranging your schedule. Whatever happens, do not let yourself go. At least not all of you. They say it so many times “Fill your cup first, or you have nothing to give. You cannot serve others on an empty cup.” But how many of us actually fill our cup? I’ll be honest, some days I don’t even know what will fill my cup. That’s when I pray.

My struggles as a Mom are probably very different than a new Mom’s. I struggle with sibling rivalry, and the everyday battle of maintaining a household when it seems my kids sole mission is to destroy my home. I struggle with confidence. I’ll be honest, I equate my self worth with the state of my home. My home is rarely tidy and I carry that inside. I feel like a failure most days. The truth is, new Mom, your journey is just beginning. Do not measure your self worth in the form of your body image, or the state of your home, or anything out of your control. Wake up, do your best, and lay your head down at night in peace. You are beautiful. You are made in God’s image. If you gave it your all today, you are so much more than enough. Moms need to hear this every single day. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you. The truth is, I didn’t know what your struggle would be. I do know that This Too Shall Pass. And that you will become incredibly stronger. And your fear of going through this all over again to have another baby, is valid. But it is so much easier when you know first hand what to expect, and when your Mama tool belt has grown. And let me tell you, your heart will grow bigger with each baby. Oh and let’s not forget about the journey of our marriages and relationships through motherhood that in itself will have to be another blog post. As they say in MN, ooofdah!

 

 

The Gentle Mom

It’s amazing how some people can make such a strong first impression. The more I learn about energy, I think it plays an important role in first impressions. All I mean by energy, is that vibe you get when someone walks into the room. You know how you can feel the tension if they are in a bad mood? You can just feel their negative energy? Or when someone walks in on top of the world, and it just immediately makes you feel on top of the world too? People emit their energy both positive and negative into the world. Positive thinking, exercise, and healthy foods can all raise the frequency in your body making you feel good and allowing you to radiate those positive vibes also. Simply thinking negative thoughts can lower your frequency real fast. We have so much power in our minds! Let us be careful to use our thoughts wisely.

This is also why it’s so important to take good care of ourselves. Lack of sleep, lack of movement, all of these things keeps our energy stagnant and low. Get your body moving- even if it’s just to take out the garbage or change over laundry 3 times like I do every day! Pay attention to where you are at.

I met somebody new yesterday. I don’t even know if I will ever see her again, but she had such a positive energy about her. And maybe it was because she caught me in a negative rut yesterday. It was the witching hour, 5 PM. Where all children are screaming and only want more snacks, their ears burn at the sound of the word “supper” which is only a half hour away. They just want SNACKS. All the snacks! And they can no longer handle themselves, they throw their bodies onto the floor or onto their nearest sibling. In yesterday’s case, several nerf guns went into captivity because they were being used as projectiles. Everyone was reaching their highest octave of screaming and losing their ever loving s-h-i-t. Dude I lose mine at this time of the day.

Earlier yesterday morning, I was arranging to meet with someone to purchase some clothes from an online garage sale group. I’m a sucker for deals. Especially when it was a bunch of gently used Maurices jeggings, a couple cute shirts & a jean jacket that looks brand new! All of my cute fall stuff from last winter is still too snug on this postpartum Mama, so I wanted to try these cute clothes on to make sure they’d work. This woman offered to bring them to my house for me to try on. Which normally would freak me out, but we had a few mutual friends and she was a Mom herself so I felt comfortable. Also, my husband literally works like 50 yards away from the house outside. Anyway, she came over last night at 5 pm. I had a fresh cartoon on and handed the kids fruit snacks as she walked in hoping they would sit quietly and inhale their fruit snacks slowly enough for me to quickly try on some clothes. Please don’t throw a Nerf gun at her or anything of the sorts.

I could hear her making conversation with the kids and honestly she didn’t even do anything overly that special. She just got down to their level and listened to them. She counted dice with my daughter and reminded my 5 year old that he would need to earn his nerf guns back. She mentioned to me how she had 4 kids herself and how quickly it really does go by and to just appreciate them while they’re little.

I find myself in a frenzy most days. Quickly hurrying along and accomplishing as many things as I can possibly fit into my day. I don’t like to sit and be still. God calls us to Be Still and he calls us to be Gentle Moms. She was at my house all of 10 minutes but she reminded me by example to calm down, get down at their level, and to relax. I have such a hard time stopping during the day. I just want to keep working on laundry or on my business or anything productive. But I need to keep mind of my most important job and to do so gently and at the highest frequency possible.

Did you know that essential oils have higher frequencies than any fruit or vegetable, or any positive thought? Einstein himself said that when two frequencies are brought together, the lower will always rise to meet the higher. This is the principle of resonance.

After I pried my kids out of the women’s driver seat, we proceeded to play Ring around the Rosie barefeet in the grass and I didn’t do a darn thing except for play with my kids last night. Thank you Gentle Mom, and thank you for the 10 pieces of very gently used clothing that actually make me look and feel good, all for $60 delivered to my door.

Advice For New Mom’s

A few years back, my husband and I attended over 15 weddings throughout the year. It was crazy. We had 2 little ones and were needing a babysitter almost every other weekend. We had so much fun celebrating our friends’ marriages, and it truly was a constant reminder of what love and marriage was all about. The weddings definitely helped keep our marriage flourishing while only just beginning our journey of parenthood.

It is now to no surprise, that in 2017, I have 4 of my closest friends becoming Moms for the very first time. And another best friend welcoming a second child to her family. Not to mention the other dozen or so friends on Facebook that are welcoming babies this year. I feel an incredible responsibility to help these ladies down their path. I cannot tell you the amount of tears, laughter, and google searches I experienced trying to figure it all out by myself, being that none of my friends had started having kids quite yet. And I didn’t really know anyone that decided to try out 3 kids age 3 and under. Let me tell you, I am proud to now consider myself a multi-tasking, find-an-extra-arm, find-calm-in-the-chaos, Mommy Ninja! My oldest son is now 5 and we will see how confident I am feeling after baby #4 arrives in just 8 short weeks or so.

New Mom’s To Be: I do not have it all figured out, and there isn’t advice that I can magically give you that will prevent you from going through your own trials and tribulations. But I’m sure you’d appreciate a few tips and tools to keep in your Mommy toolbelt, am I right?

Here’s the deal- trust YOUR instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, or you question a doctor’s recommendation, or a dear friend’s advice (heck even my advice) then follow that gut feeling and do some more research. God gave you this baby, and you, Mommy will know this baby the very best. You will come to learn what’s “normal” for them.

Some quick tips for today:

  1. Postpartum body- nobody warned me about this. You will come home from the hospital and lose absolutely zero pounds. I was SHOCKED- why am I not 8 pounds lighter? I delivered a 8 pound son- why is my scale going bonkers? Yeah. It takes some time. If you are able to give nursing or pumping a go, do it! That will really help your uterus shrink down and speed up your metabolism. If that’s not an option for you, don’t beat yourself up. We all have different circumstances that help us make the best choice for baby. Give yourself some grace, keep a few of those favorite maternity clothes, embrace yoga pants and flowy shirts, and loose fitting clothing. When you look at that squishy belly, don’t sink in shame, bask in glory and look at that baby that you so miraculously nourished, and delivered into life.
  2. Postpartum hormones- Oh myyy Gawd. This is so much worse than PMS and anything you’ve ever experienced. You are not only under stress of figuring all this new baby stuff out, as well as some financial pressure of temporarily losing an income, and adding tension to your marriage. You will be figuring out each others roles as parents and coming to the realization that quick errands are a thing of the past (see #3). In addition to that, your body is going through a massive transition. Your placenta serves as a temporary endocrine organ that produces and regulates hormones to maintain a healthy pregnancy. After birth, your body takes some time to produce normal hormone levels. That is why you experience the rollercoaster. It is very important to pay attention to signs of postpartum depression and seek help! It is a very common issue that not many people talk about. I was able to support my hormones naturally by placenta encapsulation (no I did not eat my placenta! It was dehydrated and made into veggie capsules & stored in the freezer- and let me tell you Jake noticed the days I forgot to take them! And then he started setting them out for me.) I also use essential oils to balance hormones and moods. There are a lot of things you can try, but just make sure that you are confiding in someone, whether it be your spouse, friend, or doctor.
  3. The first day you leave the house with baby- You will make approximately 17 trips to the car. You will strap baby in to car seat and unbuckle them at least twice. Baby will be content and/or sleeping, so you will get them buckled and ready to go. Then you will get yourself ready to go. Then baby will decide they want to eat again, and you will “top them off”. Then you will strap them in again. You will carry a load out to the car. You will run back in for a blanket, or a burp rag. Or an extra onesie. Shoot did I throw wipes in the bag? Wait, where did I put the diaper bag? Ok, good it’s in the back seat. Alright we are set to go. Annnddd baby just exploded into their diaper. Unstrap baby, change diaper. Oh, and I guess we need a new outfit now, and a bath. A Stress Away roll-on would be good right about now, Mamas, because you are now definitely late if you were planning to meet someone for lunch or make it to the bank before they close.
  4. Breastfeeding- the first 6 weeks are honestly the hardest. You will have toe curling pain during baby’s latch. Your uterus will painfully contract as baby suckles (keep in mind this is good! You want that uterus to shrink back down!, and you will often get a gush of bleeding as baby suckles as well). I remember on day 4 as my milk fully came in, it was the middle of the night and I was so engorged that my son couldn’t even latch on. We were both bawling. My husband brought out the breast pump and from then out, I really gave up on nursing and strictly pumped because I thought I was always going to have to pump first to relieve engorgement in order to nurse, and I didn’t like the time wasted pumping & nursing in the middle of the night. I decided to pump a bottle instead. In the beginning, your body is trying to regulate milk production. If you simply pump until comfortable, and then nurse, nurse, nurse at baby’s demand. I promise you, you won’t be doing both for long. Breastfeeding could really become a whole separate blog post, so I’ll just leave you with those highlights. After 6 weeks, it gets so much better!
  5. Clothes, Toys & Baby Gear- You guys, do not be hoarders like me! It is so overwhelming to weed through later on. I advise you to stick to the minimum. You will receive so many gifts, hand me downs, and people may give you boxes of toys and books. I am INCREDIBLY grateful for those that have passed along things to my family. We were certainly not in the most secure financial place when we started our family. And I still have and use a lot of the items passed along to me. All I’m saying, is try to look at items coming into your home and determine if it truly has a near future use in your home. Try to decide that right away to either politely decline, or donate it right away. I have experienced so much stress and anxiety over the amount of clutter to sort through when it comes to kids stuff. It doesn’t help that I become emotionally attached to every outfit & toy that they once wore or played with. I’m working on that. Going to be diffusing Release and whip through my basement this afternoon. 🙂 Just keep it simple you guys, your baby does not need much. And they will enjoy open space to play with less toys instead of tip toeing through a jungle of toys, like my kids.
  6. Water cups. Mamas to be- do not share your water cups with your toddlers. You will embark on a path of never having your own glass of water again. It is highly disappointing. To avoid the floaters, and keep things fresh & ice cold- always walk your butt to the cupboard and get them their own sippy cup. You’re welcome 🙂

I have so many more words of wisdom, and I’m sure you will get more of my two cents. But remember, follow your gut, and enjoy this new journey. The feelings are so big. Motherhood is so challenging, but it is SO rewarding. I am so excited to meet all the new babies!

My First Year On The Farm

December 30, 2015

 

The month is almost over and I can’t let it pass me by without a blog post. I set out on this blogging journey  with a fire in my heart and millions of words spinning around my head that I needed to give purpose.  I really thought I would have a weekly post but I realize monthly is a little bit more realistic with three babies age 3 and under. I don’t have any one thing  in my farm wife persona that I’d like to give topic to.  I want you to remember, this truly is my diary. I’ve had diaries before, but they have all been lost, deleted, or have been burnt. I am very nostalgic and reflective so I refuse to lose these precious memories with my small children. As we all know, the little things end up being the big things after all.

With the new year right around the corner I’d like to give mention to a milestone I reached back in October. It marked the completion of my first year staying at home as well as my first year living on the farm. October 2014 was a huge month for us. October 1st was my last day working at the bank. A few short weeks later, we moved into our new house on the farm. And we lived in our farm house 4 short days before I realized I was pregnant with our third child!

It is amazing to look back to one year ago. Our construction costs were higher than budgeted (not uncommon) but instead of increasing our loan or sacrificing our dream house we chose to finish it as we could afford it. We moved in with plywood floors, a hand me down sink held up by 2×4’s, an unfinished bathroom (which meant I had to shower next door at the inlaws) But our two busy little boys had a great first winter in our new house. They were delighted to ride trikes from bedroom to the kitchen, living room and beyond. It takes incredible patience but I am so proud of my husband for his blood sweat and tears because he has done so much in the last year. And I am proud that we have not succumbed to the instant gratification trend of our generation. We have waited patiently for our house to become the beautiful expression of who we are and it is still not finished. I have learned to appreciate every single curtain rod being hung and every shelf nailed to our walls.

With me staying home, we took a huge monthly budget cut as well. When I was working full time, I never budgeted for groceries or shopping. I seemed to always come up with money for whatever we needed to buy. Not that we were ever rich, but money was never a huge stressor. Adjusting to living on one income was very challenging. But it is doable. I used to go to any nearby grocery store and walk around and throw random things in my cart, never once looking at a flyer or paying attention to what might be on sale. Because we realized food is the hardest category to budget for; Jake and I have developed such a good system now. We have even started a nerdy grocery binder where I have started to save my receipts so that I can create a price list. I am trying to learn and memorize for various items such as paper towels and fresh fruit what is a normal price per package or pound so that I can stretch those grocery dollars even further.

We even started our own garden this past summer, which I really did not have high hopes for. Jake put all the planning, planting, and nurturing into the garden. He started with the harvesting of our 6, yes, 6 zucchini plants of which we did not realize produced 2-3 zucchinis each, every few days. Jake would bring them in the house but I couldn’t even figure out which one was the zucchini plant for the longest time. By the end of the summer, the boys and I had buckets and got really involved with the harvest. I am now obsessed with zucchini meatloaf, zucchini bars, roasted zucchini, and I even throw frozen zucchini into my smoothies. I can promise you, I was not familiar with zucchini until this year. I also tried my hand at canning tomatoes, and it was mostly a success.

Growing up, I had no interest in learning how to cook. I loved to bake, but hadn’t the first clue about how to prepare a meal. Confession: I didn’t even know how to use a paring knife. I have grown as a person so much being home with my husband and my children. I am one of the luckiest stay at home moms, because my husband is right outside. It isn’t all sunshine and gravy, but the farm is truly the best place to raise a family.