Family

Hands Free Mama by Rachel Macy Stafford Review

So Elena had this bright idea that we start reading books and giving our review on them. To be honest I wasn’t much of a reader before we became friends but now I’m reading all the time. So anyways, she picked this book for me to read because I assume she felt I was distracted by my phone …..but little did she know it doesn’t take much for me to be distracted. Squirrel!!! 😂 So here goes nothing on my first ever book review.

Stafford gives a 12 step by step guide to becoming a hands free mama. Whether it is putting down your phone, throwing away your to-do list, or letting go of perfection. She helps us to grasp what really matters.

The 12 steps are:

Awareness

Connectedness

Deliberateness

Presentness

Serenity

Clarity

Simplification

Acceptance

Authenticity

Forgiveness

Compassion

Gratefulness

For each step she gives you her personal stories that helped on her journey to becoming hands free. At the end of each chapter she has a ‘Hands Free Reflection’ that offers a way to incorporate each action into your life. The book is formatted for a year long transformation, allowing you a month to put each step in action.

As moms we have enough on our plates with our regular responsibilities. Then we want to help at school parties, help at church events, help with moms club, help at sporting events, because we want to be involved in our kids lives. But it’s those events that end up taking our time and attention off of them. We get so wrapped up in the meetings to plan the events, baking for the events, and making every detail perfect that we have no time to enjoy special moments with our family.

This book will help you realize that you need to slow down, do less, be less involved and live in the moment. Life goes by fast and time will pass you by. So grasp what matters by letting go of what doesn’t.

For so many years I would be busy doing and never slowing down enough to give my kids my undivided attention. They are always asking me to watch them do something or can I do something with them, and my answer was usually ‘in a minute’. And as embarrassed as I am to admit it, I never had intentions of really doing what they asked me to do. So now I find myself watching tv shows that I can’t stand and them teaching dances that I’ll never be able to do. As bad as I want to be able to do the darn floss, I know it’s not in the cards for me! Lol, but it’s worth every laugh and smile by being a part of their fun.

Since I read the whole book to review, now I’m going back and doing each step for a month. So maybe a year from now I’ll be able to update you on my journey.

If you need to discover the power, joy, and love of living “Hands Free” this is the book for you!

-Erin

Family

Fifty fun and frugal things to do with your kids this summer!!☀️

Every year around this time I get super antsy for school to be over. I think I’m excited to be able to relax a little without being so rushed in the morning, I want to spend more time with the kids and I want to not be so crazy on evenings & weekends with homework, sports and after school activites. But a few weeks into summer I wind up eating those words! The kids start driving me crazy 😖 They complain they’re bored, they fight like lunatics and the House gets super messy from them being home ALL THE TIME!!

Here in New England because of too many snow days the kids are still in school until the end of this week. So right now we are in the heightened crazy week of ‘end of year’ parties, teacher gifts, bringing home tons of crap 😬 and all the craziness that goes with all that. But next week I plan to get started on the right foot!

I’m a bit of a stickler for summer reading and chores around the house. So I have a bit of a schedule for our morning. If all goes well I’m hoping to work out first thing in the morning, then I want the kids to do some reading, their Bridge books and some helping out around the house. Once that gets done we are open to some fun outings, activities and they can have some electronic time. But the outings & activities can get monotonous at times and can also be super pricey if we don’t watch ourselves.

So to help force myself to become creative and also not lose my mind, I thought 50 ideas would be great! So myself and Erin throughout the summer will post what we come up with along with some pics during the activity. From time to time we will do them together with all 6 😳😱 of our kids combined and other times it will be separate. If you have any ideas you want to share let us know and tag us #ElenaAndErin !

☀️Happy Summer Friends! 😘

~Elena

Family

Hands Free Mama by Rachel Macy Stafford book review coming soon….

I have been trying to read this book for a while but life happens, now I am finally back to reading. This book is all about putting your phone down, getting rid of your to-do list, and letting go of perfection. Focusing more on what really matters.

It doesn’t take much to distract me but my phone is my number one distraction. I live so far away from family and we have moved so much over the years that I enjoy getting on social media to keep up with everyone. But then I end up getting lost into pictures that I don’t even care about and I miss out on life around me. So I’ve really been trying hard to put my phone down and walk away from it.

I will go into more details in the book review in a couple of weeks but I wanted to touch on one of her main points. She says that we should make an effort to leave your phone in your car if you want to make a purposeful connection….

Several weeks ago I had to take Skye ( my oldest daughter) to pick up her lacrosse uniform. I had missed the original date because I’m a hot mess and totally forgot about it. So when we get there I leave my phone in the car which is totally not like me, but I was trying to make an effort not to be distracted. Since it was the make up date she was left with four numbers to choose from which were 6, 4, 20, and 28. She quickly picked the number 28. I asked her ‘is that your same number from last year?’ She said ‘No’ and I said ‘well are you sure you want 28?’ She said ‘ yes I’m sure because it’s the same number Honor ( my youngest daughter) got this year.’

My heart literally melted right there in that room. Once we got into the car I said ‘Skye that is so sweet of you to pick the same number as your sister, I didn’t even think you liked her.’ 😂 Lol!! She said ‘ I picked it because I know she will be excited to share the same number.’ And she was right!! You should have seen Honor’s face when Skye showed her that jersey. She said ‘that’s the same number as me!’ Skye said ‘ I know that’s why I picked it.’ I don’t think Honor stopped smiling the rest of the day.

I was so proud of Skye because she is so tough on her sisters. She seems totally bothered and annoyed by them most days. But then I started thinking are there more moments like this that I’m missing out on because I’m on my phone all the time? Because the only things I seem to remember are the moments they’re complaining about one of them touching or taking something that belongs to them.

If I had taken my phone in with me I could have totally missed out on that moment. I would have been checking my phone while she was picking her number out and wouldn’t have asked a question about it. So let me encourage you to put down your phone even if it’s only for 10 minutes. Sweet moments can happen in less than that.

-Erin

Family

I watched 13 Reasons Why and here’s why you should too…

If you go on the internet at all these days, especially today, you’ve probably seen ads for 13 Reasons Why. Season 2 is released in full today on Netflix. Many of you probably have no idea what it’s about and probably feel like you don’t really care anyway. Just another show, honestly there’s so many available on tons of different cable and online networks these days. That’s where I was a few months ago. I’d heard people talk about or mention the show but never gave it a second thought. About 6-8 weeks ago before spring actually sprung here in New England, I was looking for something to watch. I like to pick something grown up to watch while the kids aren’t home and I’m cooking or folding laundry. I hopped on Netflix and saw 13 Reasons Why in Trending so I decided to give it a try.

If you don’t know, the show revolves around one high school girl who has taken her own life. Heavy right?!! Each episode shows how a different individual played some sort of role in her decision. To me the topic of suicide is something I try to steer clear of these days which is really terrible. Terrible for so many reasons. I have 3 kids. My oldest is on the verge of being a middle schooler. Before becoming a stay at home mom I was a Mental Health Therapist. But most importantly I’ve lost a sibling to suicide. The topic has always been a hard one for me to talk about in social settings and I’ve never been a big sharer to start with. I mean even writing this is hard for me so I’m going to leave the personal stuff aside for now. What did I get out of watching this show and what’s my point really? I have 2 simple points to make but they take work on our part as parents……

1) Smile at people. Be kind to people. Kids can be cruel. And let me tell you…grown women can be cruel! Our kids see and hear what we do and say. Be a good role model. We have no idea what people are going through but they are affected by our interactions. Be the reason someone feels good about themselves. You don’t have to like or be friends with everyone but being civil & decent doesn’t take a lot of extra effort.

2) Teach your kids to be independent. And I don’t mean doing their own laundry and cleaning their rooms, of course that’s important. But teach them to be their own person. Don’t be easily affected by what others say and do. For some of us that’s easier than others. I have spent pretty much all of my life enjoying time by myself. I don’t need to feel included. I don’t need people to give me attention. But some people need attention from others, they want to be included and feel popular. Some people base their self worth on it and will compromise themselves for just a little bit of attention from others. One of the best ways to instill this independence in your kids to me is family time. Take an interest in who they are, what they like and who their friends are at school. Kids don’t need to constantly be entertained. I am not a playdate parent. Some parents need to have play dates for their kids nonstop, not me! These parents then often push their kids off on their friends as they grow older instead of having to deal with or spend time with them. Nope. Friends are important of course, but it shouldn’t take precedence over family for our kids. They need to realize their value isn’t dependent on who their friends are or how many ‘likes’ they get.

Let me tell you that I cried a lot! I reflected a lot on my childhood and my life now. And I thought a lot about my kids. But I really learned so much from watching this show. And high school is SO much scarier than I remember it being. So if you have children I truly recommend you set aside some time to watch and I promise it will be an eye opener!

https://www.netflix.com/title/80117470

~Elena 💛

Family

Today We Celebrated!

May 1,2018….. Today is is one full year from the day that could’ve been the worst day of my life, but a day that also brought me closer to my faith and a day my family will never forget. It was a Monday and after the usual morning routine of lunch making and getting my oldest two off to school, my little one had a 6 month cleaning at the dentist. I was supposed to be volunteering at my kids school for recess but the weather was iffy so we decided not to rush back. Instead I thought us two girls could go do some Sam’s Club shopping and grab lunch. It’s funny how you can look back on certain events and realize how things could have been so different if you had made different choices.

My then 4 year old was riding in the cart as we shopped and I spotted some large planters I had been looking for to put outside my front entrance. I texted my husband some pictures to see what he thought of them and continued to shop as I awaited his response. I finished shopping and gave up waiting for him so we headed to check out. Just as we got in line he responded and told me to get them. So I got out of line and turned my cart back towards the aisle where I saw them. Halfway down the aisle I stopped to take my daughter out of the cart so I could fit the planters in. She was at the age where she looks down at her feet when she runs and she all of a sudden took off running down the aisle. I was yelling for her to stop when she ran straight into a metal covered, square pole right in the middle of the aisle. She quickly jumped up and said “I’m ok mommy!” At that moment the blood began streaming down her face and she started crying hysterically. That’s where the nightmare began for me that day, or maybe it was a blessing in disguise!

I grabbed my daughter and ran to the front of the store as fast as I could yelling for help. I was holding her head and blood was dripping down both of us, everyone just stared at me. I mean everyone! I was yelling for help and not one person, shopper, employee…no one even said a word to me. Finally a man checking out a few registers over ran over to us. He explained that he used to work rescue in the military and starts telling employees there what he needed. I had never felt so alone and helpless in my life, and this stranger quickly washed his hands and started cleaning my daughter’s wounds. He calmed us both down and decided it might be best to call 911 since we were both really shaken up at the moment. I called my husband as we waited for the ambulance and he was prepared to meet us at the hospital. The ambulance arrived and quickly bandaged her up. By that time they felt the bleeding had stopped enough, and we all felt she would be more at ease just traveling by car. They also informed me that the hospital had a large urgent care facility not far away that would be able to take care of the wound.

I called my husband and told him to meet us at the urgent care asap. He arrived just a few minutes after we walked in the door. The doctor there felt he could stitch the wound himself but since it came down her forehead he felt cosmetically it would be best if we went to the children’s hospital. So we all hopped in one car and headed downtown. Once we got there we were quickly rushed back so the nurse could check out the wound and let the numbing medicine work its magic.

Let me stop there and tell you that for 3 days prior my husband wasn’t feeling quite himself. He was exhausted, felt run down and had shortness of breath. He kept writing it off as maybe he was coming down with something, but that morning he finally gave in and called his doctor. He had an appt. scheduled for the following day.

So back to the day at hand. The doctor, nurses and some other staff came in the room to stitch my daughter up, distract her and keep her still. My husband was holding her hand while they were stitching her up. I remember the exact moment I looked over and he was obviously physically uncomfortable. His face was red and I could see beads of sweat on his forehead & upper lip. He was now tugging at his shirt collar at that point he started telling us that he needed to go and it wasn’t good. One nurse assumed he was queasy from the stitches & blood, she rushed out to get him juice and crackers. I quickly explained how he wasn’t feeling well the past 3 days and this wasn’t just queasiness. A moment later he was rushed to another room while I waited with my daughter who was still getting stitched up. When they finished with her I asked where my husband was and they quickly took me to see him. He was in another room in a tiny child sized bed all wired up while they were breaking up children’s aspirin into his mouth. A moment later they were rushing him across the street to the grown up hospital.

I remember being so scared and having no idea what was going on. When my daughter was discharged we rushed across the street to the other hospital. We were quickly whisked away to a private family waiting room with no update on how my husband was doing. And it felt like we waited in there forever. I’ve never prayed so hard before in my life. Not knowing what is happening is the worst because your mind rushes to the worst case scenario.

Later on we found out that my husband was indeed having a heart attack and his LAD was completely blocked. The ER doctors weren’t convinced at first because he was in good shape, tests were coming back good and he had no indicators aside from family history. Fortunately my husband doesn’t take no for an answer and was pushy that something was seriously wrong. He had a procedure that following day and remained in the hospital for the week.

Today is officially one year and today we celebrated! The kids made cards and we had a special dinner. He recently had his one year checkup and everything looks great. We’ve made lots of changes this past year including dietary and more consistent exercise. We’ve been back to that children’s hospital and are quickly visited by staff who remember that day or are saying hi because they’ve heard the story. My daughter will forever have a tiny scar on her forehead, a reminder of how she saved her daddy’s life. God works in mysterious ways and we are forever grateful for that blessing in disguise.

~💖 Elena

Family

Book Review: Raising Grateful Kids In An Entitled World by Kristen Welch

I somehow stumbled across this book online and just knew that I had to read it. Entitlement is a hot topic these days and raising three kids I’m trying hard to keep them from having that entitlement mentality. My husband and I both try to instill gratitude, hard work and pride of accomplishment into them. But my kids are pretty typical kids.

Just like any kid, my kids want what they see others have and don’t have a great grasp on the concept of money. We try to make certain they appreciate what they have, help out around the house and try to put others needs before their own. But like I said, they are typical kids. They complain, they forget to use good manners and they don’t embrace the word ‘No’ easily. In my head I thought ‘I’ll read this book and I’ll know how to fix this…fix them.’ Well I quickly learned it wasn’t them I needed to fix, it’s me!

I really try not to spoil my kids, they don’t get something because they want it. We take care of their needs, then they wait for holidays & birthdays for their wants. Other than that they can work & save for something they really want. And let’s be honest, they are 100% more selective when it’s their own money they’re forking out. We tend to both be pretty traditional people and our parenting reflects that. I expect my kids to work hard and always do their best at whatever they are doing. If they commit to a sport or class they can’t quit, they have to finish it through until the end even if they discover they don’t love it. They’re not going to be the best in everything and they don’t always get a reward or trophy. In the book Kristen Welch talks about American Idol tryouts and the masses of people that show up thinking (mostly because they weren’t told otherwise) that they are meant to be a singing star. This cracked me up! A few years ago my daughter desperately wanted to be in the school talent show. Oh my goodness I love that girl of mine so much. I love that she likes to make people laugh and isn’t scared to get up in front of a room full of people and be silly. But she wanted to be in the talent show just to be in it, she wasn’t really interested in showing off some amazing talent. My husband and I explained that singing and dancing on stage was not her calling. 😬 Sometime later a paper came home asking for kids to emcee the show….perfect, right up her alley! She’s articulate and loves the spotlight so this was a perfect fit for her and she did great! While I sat through that super, super, SUPER long talent show I quickly realized many other parents didn’t sit down and have that same talk with their kids about their calling. 😳

But as I read through this book I realized I sometimes take the easy path, the clean, less noisy path. Sometimes it seems easier to give in to the little things instead of dealing with complaining and poor attitudes. I often don’t even realize I do it. One kid asks for something at the grocery store so I say yes and then have to say yes to the other 2 so I don’t have to hear about it. Or if I’m out with my youngest and she gets a treat I feel like I need to bring something home for the other two so they don’t feel left out. I mean except for the liquor store because that nice man gives me at least 3 lollipops every time he sees me, lol! But seriously …”when we give our kids everything they want or bend the rules to make them happy, we are failing to train them to face the ups and downs of life.” Amen!!

I learned so much about myself and my kids from this book. I need to be a better role model of gratitude. We tend to be more vocal in our complaints then in our appreciations, and I’m guilty. I need to say no even when it’s hard because “persevering when things aren’t easy is often when we find our greatest reward.”

If you are concerned about the culture we’re raising our kids in these days I really recommend reading this book. It’s also great to know we are all facing similar struggles and no two families are exactly the same, but we all want the same outcomes.

“Our job as parents is to raise our kids to be responsible adults so they can discern good from evil, beauty from ugliness, and truth from error.” 🙌🏻

~Elena

* Check out our giveaway post and help us pick out our next book!

Family

Book Review coming, but first…..

I just finished reading ‘Raising Grateful Kids In An Entitled World’ the other day and it was just so good! I’ll do a little review early next week but for now I wanted to share my little ‘aha moment’ I had.

Two days ago my son came off the school bus and I could tell he was upset about something. He usually isn’t super emotional at school and he rarely has issues with other students. Long story short I asked what happened and apparently he fell off the playscape at recess and landed pretty hard on something. He was hurt and began to cry at recess in front of other students. Two little girls in his grade, instead of maybe checking on him or telling an aide, decided to point at him and laugh. I’m pretty sure he was more upset at the laughing part than the actual injury at this point. I’m not one of those parents that calls the teacher every time a kids a jerk, I mean kids can be jerks. My husband and I usually talk things through with the kids and want them to learn how to handle & respond to different situations. (Not saying we wouldn’t call the school or teacher if the issue was big enough to warrant it)

At this point I did something I rarely do, I said “I bet a milkshake would make it feel a little better, just you and me.” He of course said yes and got his shoes back on to go. As we are about to leave my oldest asks where we’re going. I explain your brother had a bad day and is a little upset, so I’m taking him for a treat. She immediately started with ‘it’s not fair’ and ‘you didn’t do that for me last time I was upset.’ I got angry and explained how we do things for her all the time that we don’t do for the others but at that point she stormed off. So the two of us got in the car and chatted our way to McDonald’s. It’s in those one on one moments that my kids personalities really shine through and they are just themselves instead of 1 of 3 fighting for attention whichever way they can get it. And when he isn’t trying to taunt his sisters, he’s a pretty amazing little person.

When we got to the drive thru I’ll be honest, this mommy struggled! Should I bring something back for all 3 kids? Is it unfair if I don’t? Do I really want to deal with complaining when I get home if I don’t? AND there it hit me! I’m the first one to tell my kids ‘DO not say it’s not fair’, ‘life isn’t fair’, ‘you don’t just get something because you want it or someone else has it!’ So as hard as that moment was we still drove away with one free coffee for me (McDonald’s app thank you) and one medium sized strawberry milkshake for my little guy. Nothing else.

When we pulled in the driveway my daughter was outside riding her skateboard and I got out of the car ready to hear it. But the first thing she did when I walked passed her was not at all what I had expected. ” I’m sorry mommy.” 💖

~Elena