Omaha Mom’s Virtual Halloween Costume Contest —Prizes and more!

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Thank you to all of our amazing sponsors for providing our prize packages!

Omaha Mom is excited to host our FIRST Virtual Halloween Costume Contest!

One of the greatest joys in parenting is dressing our children in Halloween costumes. The joy we receive from planning their costumes and then wearing it for everyone to see is infectious! It makes the sugar crash, unpredictable weather, and impending time change a little more tolerable when there’s a parade of Elsas and Marvel Superheroes.

Halloween 2020 will look a little different (remember last year we were worried about snow…that was cute), but that doesn’t mean it’s canceled! Whether you’re celebrating at home or getting a group together and hit the local pumpkin patch, costumes are necessary! Omaha Mom has partnered with some amazing businesses and put together some pretty awesome prize packages…you’re going to want multiple costumes to enter each category! 

How to Enter :: CLOSED – JOIN US IN 2021

  • Fill out the form below by 5 PM on Sunday, November 1st, 2020
  • Make sure you are following Omaha Mom on Facebook and Instagram
  • We will compile all the pictures into a Facebook album and post it to our Facebook Page on November 2nd
  • Voting will be open until Saturday, November 7th:: encourage your family and friends to vote by “Liking” your picture in our album (likes on your personal page will not be counted, they must be in the official Omaha Mom album)
  • Tune in LIVE at 8 PM CST Sunday, November 8th, to see winners announced!

Grand Prize Categories

Infants :: 0-12 months

Babies in costumes…is there anything cuter?!

Enter your baby for a chance to win an adorable baby doll sleeping bag by ErgoPouch and amazing products from MAM!

MAM Baby Gift Set for Halloween Costume ContestMAM was founded over 40 years ago with a firm conviction that there is nothing that creates a longer-lasting effect than focusing on the healthy development of babies. MAM combines technological innovation, medical function, and contemporary design to develop superior baby care products.

ErgoPouch Prize for Halloween Costume ContestThe ErgoPouch Doll Sleeping Bag is designed to help your child learn their bedtime routine and make night time settling easier and more fun. Not only does the Doll Sleeping Bag act as a sleep cue, promote positive sleep association and routine learning, but it also aids in fine motor skill development.  Your child will love matching their favorite doll or teddy.

Toddler :: 1 - 4 years old

Enter your toddlers in this portion of our Halloween costume contest! Toddlers are built for this!  Their imaginations are running wild, they have endless amounts of energy, and you still might be able to pick their costume…but those days are numbered.

Enter your toddler for a chance to win a $40 gift certificate to Pediped Outlet Shoes and great products from GoSili!

Go Sili for Halloween Contest

GoSili was founded in 2006 by Stacey Feeley and Giuliana Schwab with the mission of Waste Less!  GoSili designs and manufactures silicone tableware products for the whole family.  The excessive use and waste of disposable paper and plastic inspired the GoSili founders to create a modern line incorporating all the practical benefits that silicone offers.  GoSili products make the basics better by bringing an alternative to plastic, bridging the gap between great design and affordability while improving the way we live! A win-win for all!

Pediped for Halloween Costume Contestpediped® Footwear was founded in 2005 by Angela and Brian Edgeworth in their quest for the perfect soft-soled shoe for their first daughter. Exceptional quality, unsurpassed comfort, and distinctive styling have made the award-winning company the fastest-growing children’s footwear brand in the United States. pediped® Footwear has been awarded the American Podiatric Medical Association Seal of Acceptance to promote healthy foot development. 

Big Kid :: 5 - 10 years old

Big kids are now Halloween professionals. They know where the “good candy” houses are and negotiate candy trades like Fortune 500 CEOs. Halloween is a business—paid in candy!

Enter your big kid for a chance to win a prize pack from BounceU, and four tickets to It’s A Wonderful Life at The Rose Theater!

Bounce UHave your kids burn off that sugar rush at BounceU! This prize includes a $25 Gift Certificate, 5 punch Open Bounce Punch Card, a water bottle, and a synch sac! Turn a normal weekday into a celebration by coming to an Open Bounce event. They have events throughout the week where kids can literally bounce off the walls and burn off all that pent-up energy, or Halloween candy! 

red theater curtainsNow that Halloween is (almost) over, it’s time to think about the holidays. Get into that holiday spirit by enjoying a live performance of It’s A Wonderful Life at The Rose Theater! Running from November 13th-December 20th, it’s appropriate for all audiences to enjoy this holiday classic. The Rose Theater is committed to inspiring young people and their families to discover the magic of theater, find their voices, and enrich their communities.

Family or Group

Does your family have a themed costume every year? Are you and your co-workers planning a group costume?

If so, we want to see it for a chance to win a private shopping event at Four Sisters Boutique!

Schedule a fun, private, girls night with up to 25 of your friends (or co-workers if they helped you win this prize) and get some major shopping done while sipping champagne at Four Sisters Boutique! Receive exclusive styling tips from the owner, Sarah, and everyone receives 15% off their purchases!

Four Sisters Boutique offers a wide range of trendy yet affordable clothing and accessories. Comfy graphic tees, stylish jewelry, and trendy pieces, Four Sisters caters to whatever style you’re feeling!

Pets

Let’s not forget our furry, four-legged family members! When our kids aren’t cooperating, our pets are usually on our side!

Enter your dressed-up pet for a chance to win Three Peaks Manuka Honey!

Three Peaks Ultra-Premium honey is created in the heart of New Zealand, in the remote hills of the volcanic central plateau adjacent to the UNESCO World Heritage Site-Tongariro National Park.  Certified 100% pure and authentic, Three Peaks is independently tested and certified for stringent New Zealand UMF Honey Association purity and quality standards.

What makes Manuka Honey so special?

Manuka Honey contains over 200 compounds not found in other kinds of honey. The UMF rating on each pack represents the proportion of unique signature compounds characterizing Manuka Honey that are present in each batch; in particular, the medicinal trilogy of Leptosperin, dihydroxyacetone (DHA), and Methylglyoxal (MGO) help make up the UMF rating and the higher the UMF rating, the higher concentration of the all the good stuff and is often even medical grade. More information can be found regarding UMF here.

More Than An Accountability Partner:: Sweat, Marriage, and Working Out

marriage and working out
Sweaty, flexing, fitness fun (and a cute Bulldog butt)

I’m sure you’ve seen it before; “couples who workout together, stay together” usually tagged onto a hilarious video or an insane workout with couples using each other as weights and doing moves that hurt you just watching. I can’t say that working out together is the foundation of our relationship success (though, I know it helps), but I can say how extremely fortunate I am that my number one workout buddy also happens to be my husband.

Consistency and Working Out

It’s been a little over three years that I’ve committed to the consistency of working out on a regular schedule. I actually started on my own because I chose the at-home workout route and my husband wasn’t quite ready to buy into the effectiveness. He enjoyed the gym sessions and I did/do, too. Have two kids and moving just didn’t help make ideal to our lifestyle anymore. So I decided to try something new and after he’d start seeing my results, my husband would, too!

Working Out with Me

After six months of seeing me dripping sweat on our dining room floor and shed the weight from having a baby and the stress of a cross country move, my husband jumped on board and started working out at home with me. Well, not with me with me. When he committed we would work out about the same time every day but each doing a different program in a different part of the house. That all changed when a new program launched that got us both excited. Now, my husband and I have been working out, side by side, almost every single day for over two years.

AND I LOVE IT!!

Our Marriage and Working Out Side by Side

Most women would agree that they loved getting compliments from their spouses. My favorite compliments from my husband come at a time when I am a wet, sweaty mess, with hair in disarray, and with almost no breath left to tell him “thank you.” It’s when he’s telling me I did a great job pushing to the end even though he knows I probably didn’t want to. When he noticed that I lifted heavier or did more push-ups on my toes than I did on my knees. Working out with him is the best because he is my encouragement and motivation.

He’s also hilarious!

Let’s be real, not every workout is sunshine and butterflies. Depending on the program we are doing it can get H A R D and he’s always lightening the blow by saying something silly, doing something goofy, or making fun of the ridiculous sounds that I make on occasion during a tough set. Does it throw me off my A-game for a minute? It sure does, but it keeps every day interesting and they say that’s good for marriage, ya know?

working out and marriage
We often share mutual feelings towards the workouts (and yes, our dogs love to be around when we exercise).

I definitely believe that workout buddies/accountability partners are crucial to keeping momentum and developing a consistent routine. I’m grateful to get to live with mine. Beyond the compliments and comedy, my husband really does push me to be my best when we’re working out and even better he does so outside of our sweat sessions. So we are the cliche “couples who work out together stay together I’m more than happy to keep it that way.

Zombies, the Disney movie, helped me talk to my son about racism

Our Disney+ subscription just paid for itself tenfold. My six-year-old son heard from a friend over the summer about a Disney movie called Zombies. When he first asked me to watch, I said no, based on the title alone. Then, one day, I gave in. And I’m so glad I did because they have allowed for so much rich conversation about racism, self-confidence, and other typically heavy topics. 

We’ve since watched Zombies and Zombies 2 more times now than I count, and we LOVE them. They’re musicals, and the high-energy choreography is awesome. The songs are so catchy that I catch myself singing them at work.

Zombies and Racism

Summary of the movie Zombies

Set in the fictional suburban town of Seabrook, Zombies tells the story of how a failed nuclear experiment turned into an explosion decades ago and turned a town of ordinary humans into zombies. After that, the zombies are kept separate from the rest of the town, forming their own Zombie Town. It’s an area that is very run down and industrial based. In current times, technology has created a device called a “Z-band,” which zombies wear on their wrists to tame them (a.k.a. prevent them from eating human brains). 

But they still look different from “regular” humans—pale skin, green hair, and government-mandated clothing. 

They hadn’t been allowed to integrate into society for years, until the beginning of this movie, which starts on the first day of school. The zombies will finally be allowed to attend human high school, too. 

We are immediately introduced to the two main characters: Zed, a zombie who is charming AF, and Addison, a pretty and perfect cheerleader. 

The two hit it off nearly right away. Only, it seems as if the world is against them. Everyone in the town still clings to the stereotypes and false preconceptions of what they think it means to be a zombie. 

Can you see where I might be going with this?

Well, my son did—right away. He noticed and immediately wondered aloud, “Why does it matter if they’re friends or not?”

I kept a mental track of his questions and comments throughout the movie. In the end, we were able to have a really quick chat to compare our favorite parts and lyrics. Afterward, we followed that up with some discussion about the issues it addressed. I made some parallels between what the characters went through and the much deeper and ongoing issues of racism and prejudice right now in our country. 

I could tell it helped him understand and connect some dots. I assured him, via a direct quote from the movie:

We are different, but that’s what makes us stronger. – Addison

Zombies 2

A synopsis of the sequel: Zombies 2

Addison, Zed, and crew have more or less succeeded in fully integrating the two societies as zombies are given more rights and freedoms. The plot thickens when Addison finds out she may actually be a werewolf, though. 

Stick with me here. 

Zed tries to hold her back from becoming who she truly is at the same time as he and everyone use their fear as an excuse to shun the new werewolf pack from the school and town. Not cool. 

After many incredible dance numbers and collaboration among all the different groups, the movie ends on a happy note.

Here, too, my son had all sorts of comments and questions about why certain characters were struggling to fit in and why the different groups weren’t interacting in the lunchroom, etc.  We got to talk about the importance of being yourself despite what anyone may say and the importance of being kind, welcoming, and accepting toward others. 

These were such good lessons as he started a brand new school this year. 

Truly, the characters are so easily lovable that it keeps the mood light, so it’s never awkward or overt in introducing these concepts. And because it’s a made-for-tv Disney movie, the characters, scenes, and sets are the best kind of cheesy. 

For your kids, too, the Zombies franchise can absolutely help them understand the consequences of close-minded, divided beliefs. In my opinion, these movies are appropriate for first grade through high school. So if you’re a mom who loved High School Musical back in the day, watch this with your children.

The same amount of fun with an even greater message. 

And for real, you’ll be singing these songs non-stop afterward yourself!

What To Expect When You’re Not Expecting:: Seeing A Fertility Specialist

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Thank you Heartland Center for Reproductive Medicine, for sponsoring this post and providing us with so much information surrounding Infertility Treatments. *We made sure to talk to a fertility specialist before sharing this article, but it is by no means a replacement for speaking with your doctor. Please be sure to consult with a physician for any health concerns. *

In my prior blog about infertility/pregnancy loss (PL), I shared my story and what to expect emotionally when you’re experiencing infertility/PL. In this segment, we will explore what to expect if you pursue treatment from a fertility specialist. 

During a discussion with Dr. Stephanie Gustin, a fertility specialist at the Heartland Center for Reproductive Medicine and partner of Dr. Victoria Maclin, she educated me on what couples experience when embarking on their journey towards building a family.

Heartland Center for Reproductive Medicine logo

Initially, it’s important to know when it makes sense to be concerned.

For the healthy couple younger than 35, most physicians recommend attempting natural conception for one year. If you are a female over the age of 35, this is shortened to six months. For females 40+, fertility specialists recommend an early evaluation of maternal health before attempting to conceive. Early evaluations can help couples decide the best course of action to build their family, even attempting in vitro fertilization (IVF) from the get-go. This also allows couples to decide if they would like to freeze embryos should they wish to have more kids years down the line.

Health concerns that may allow you to seek early assistance include irregular cycles/unknown ovulation, severely painful periods, known history of conditions causing damage to the fallopian tubes, or a male knowing he may have a sperm issue. 

So you’ve scheduled your consult with a fertility specialist, now what?

Before your appointment, you and your partner will fill out a health and reproductive history, including menstrual patterns/conception efforts, medical issues, and family/social habits. Be sure you’ve allotted at least one hour for this appointment. You will meet with a doctor in an office environment to discuss your file, broach concerns, and begin exploring treatment options. Be sure to have your list of questions so this consultation can give you the knowledge you need to move forward. 

It is typical to begin bloodwork at this appointment. Bloodwork assists to create a foundation for the female’s hormonal access. Then, in an ultrasound done the same day, your ovarian reserve health (i.e., reproductive potential based on number and quality of eggs) will be assessed. You may expect multiple rounds of bloodwork in the future as well.

The two initial key focuses confirm that the female is ovulating, and the male has active sperm. 

Don’t forget the swimmers.  If you have a male partner, make sure he realizes the importance of his part in the fertility equation.  Most doctors recommend two to five days of abstinence before semen analysis.

After you get poked (no pun intended) and speak with a doctor, you will meet with a financial specialist to discuss insurance options. Fertility science is a treatment for a medical issue; however, you will want to be sure to check with your insurance to see what they cover and discuss out of pocket expenses. For the most successful route to conceive (IVF), you might expect to spend $10,000-$12,000 per attempt. Other methods, such as intrauterine insemination (IUI), are cheaper. At the same time, their success rate is lower. 

During a follow-up, mama, you can expect to undergo a hysterosalpingogram (HSG). This is when the dye is injected into the uterus to assess the uterine cavity and see how fallopian tubes function. Take ibuprofen, expect discomfort, and sit back so your fertility specialist can make magic happen.

fertility specialistImage by Darko Stojanovic from Pixabay

Now that you’ve been poked, prodded, and empathetically interrogated, what can you do?

Most patients are interested in hearing about lifestyle modifications that may impact their fertility. Let’s say you’ve decided to try IUI and/or IVF treatments. The first recommendation is to check your mindset. Yes, not conceiving is stressful in more ways than one. Yes, the process can cause anxiety and depression long before you get to this point.

So HOW ARE YOU?

Let’s chat statistics.

You’ve been copulating, met with a doctor, know without a doubt she or he will help you have a child. At the same time, doctors are human and can only control so much. So what’s a fair expectation? 

The best odds for treatment, including IUI, fall between 20-25% per attempt. Before you begin this process, be sure to set yourself up with a strong support system and acknowledge that there will be ups and downs. This is rarely a one and done kind of thing. While IVF has higher success rates, it is more invasive and requires more diligent effort on behalf of the mother.

So if you and your partner are healthy with no known issues, you may choose to start with IUI with your fertility specialist.

IUIs are a milder form of IVF with intermittent ultrasounds/bloodwork to see what is developing egg wise and an ovulation stimulating medication, such as Clomid, may be on board. Once your follicles (egg houses) are large enough, mamas take a human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) shot and complete the process 24-36 hours later. How does one complete an IUI? Well, the doc makes it a little easier for your guy’s swimmers to travel. A tube is inserted into the cervix, with the very best of the swimmers released directly into your uterus, giving them less ground to travel to the queen egg. With this method, you will find out if you’re pregnant in two weeks. 

Ok. So we’ve shagged, done IUI, what about IVF?

The purpose of IVF is to persuade the ovary into developing follicles that will carry your eggs. Injections of the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), as well as the luteinizing hormone (LH – take home ovulation predictor kits, anyone?), encourage your body to make as many follicles as possible. These are completed on a daily or twice daily basis. As humans, we typically do not have litters of children—how animals do it, I’ll never know.  However, for this process, the fertility doctors want to encourage many eggs to get ready for fertilization to give you the optimal chance of conceiving. Outside of giving yourself shots, you’ll be visiting your specialist for ultrasounds and bloodwork to monitor your response to the hormones. 

Then the HCG trigger shot! Over 10-12 days, the shots you’ve taken have prepped your eggs for fertilization. The shot tells those eggs, get turned on, ladies, it’s time to meet your other half! Technically, the HCG shot triggers ovulation; however, your doc will retrieve your jet-set eggs before ovulation occurs. Egg retrieval is done approximately 36 hours after the trigger shot and completed under sedation. So be comforted, mamas. The process may send you on a hormonal rollercoaster, and shots may bruise your bum, BUT you get to sleep through the down and dirty part. I’ll spare you the details of what you’ll be sleeping through. 

The morning of your egg retrieval, your partner (if they’re male) will provide your doc with a sample of swimmers. Then the petri-dish magic happens. Sperm and egg combine to become one, and the following day the melding of genes is revealed to see how many embryo cohorts you now have the option of carrying for the next 40 weeks. Once your embryos reach soccer ball status (six to seven days post-retrieval), they are ready to transfer or freeze. 

Today, many fertility specialists do not prefer to insert more than one embryo as this can oftentimes result in women carrying multiple children, which may result in a high-risk pregnancy. However, you can freeze the rest of your babes for future use or donation!

After your soccer ball is transferred into your belly, you can expect to know whether you’re pregnant within a week! 

As women, we generally carry the weight of infertility treatments, both emotionally and physically.

Let me try to take some of that burden off of your shoulders, mama.

Statistically and remarkably, infertility issues are equally spread across the board as far as root causes are concerned. Approximately one-third of known issues lie within the mama, one third within the papa, and one third are legitimately unknown! Don’t let this discourage you—be sure to meet with your local fertility specialist so that they can help you today.

What To Expect When You’re Not Expecting:: How to Help or Support Mom

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help or support a mom
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

When my husband and I experienced our first pregnancy loss at five weeks along, it was hard, to say the least. We hadn’t been trying too long, three months. Our first loss occurred before we had any children in our home, so if by chance you’re a man reading this with a similar experience or you’re a mama who doesn’t feel as if her male spouse truly understands, that makes sense. You are normal and not alone if you’re experiencing any concern with growing your beautiful family. Here are some ways you can help or support a mom with pregnancy loss and/or infertility.

I didn’t know how I help or support.

All I knew is that I had already mapped out the month my baby would arrive and had created a rather extravagant way in which to tell my husband the happy news.

When my husband thinks back on this event, he would also tell you he didn’t feel the loss quite as deeply as I did. To tell the truth, I’m not sure I actually felt the loss on a deep emotional level until some time later. What I felt at the moment was intense fear and anxiety that we were truly going to struggle to have children. I was so mad.

My second loss is a different story. By this point, we had one beautiful child. My husband grew in ways I never knew possible as a father. He grieved deeply with me.

And still, mamas experience this loss on a different level. 

During my discussion with the women I referenced in prior blog posts, we talked about how best to support someone experiencing pregnancy loss and/or infertility issues.

The biggest help or support is to simply check in with them.

PLs and infertility tend to get lost in the shuffle amidst questions of “When are you having another?” or “Are you guys trying?” While these questions are intentionally innocent, they’re unintentionally hurtful. Be more intentional with your questions, “Are you wanting to have (more) children?”

When people ask, tell them the truth.

The truth both stops the hurtful questions and bolsters your support system. Including people in your journey helps you feel better, not worse. When someone does tell you their story, be intentional about checking in with them. Set a reminder if you have to, but be sure to let them know you’re there for them. When you share your trials, you will find that other people have had similar experiences, and you are not alone.

While it’s easy to be told not to worry, that is exactly what I and my friends are here to tell you.

With every story, it all works out in the end. Amber, who will be meeting her daughter via adoption in the coming weeks, feels this way about her journey as well. She believes adoption is what God has called her to do. This may not have been an easy or welcome thought at first, but it is one she accepts wholeheartedly now.

Lastly, the gals want you to know that in times like these, it is easy to turn away from your faith. However, each person, myself included, found that embracing a cornerstone of faith was what emboldened our spirit through it all.

No matter what, keep your faith.

I also reached out to my best friend for her thoughts. My person, believe it or not, had no idea how to help or support me either. It actually caused a bit of a rift between us. I can tell you whatever was found lacking the first time around did not happen again during my second loss. My rainy day friend expressed she felt immense guilt at not knowing how to support me during my first pregnancy loss, both at the moment, after, and today. We have moved on, we love each other, I’ve done things that I’ve apologized for, too. But she feels deeply for me, and whether I like it or not, this is an emotion she re-experiences whenever this topic is broached.

I tell you this to encourage you to find immense depths of forgiveness in your heart for anyone who has failed to help or support you during your journey. Our culture has not prepared us for how to help others grieving pregnancy loss/infertility. It may be challenging, at the same time, if you express how you’d like to be supported, you will be ten times as likely to receive the support you need.

Keep it simple: ask for a hug, sit in silence, make a plan for daily check-in.

No effort is too small.

Omaha Mom:: Introducing Ebony

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Omaha

Hi, I’m Ebony. Moving from Central Florida to the midwest was a risk that we are grateful to have taken! Having lived in Omaha for almost 3 years now, we enjoy the sensible cost of living, regular trips to Henry Doorly Zoo, and the hysteria of college football. We enjoy catching live music in the park and strolling in the Old Market. When the weather gets cooler, the kids love the trampolines at the indoor play areas.

Ebony Turner and Family

Mom

I never imagined that God would bless us with four beautiful babies, including a set of twins! Our kids’ ages range from 2 to 6, and they are full of laughter and a love for music. Having children has pushed me to try new experiences, pursue opportunities to be a good example to my kids, and build a better life for them. I love watching their fearless innocence as they discover life.

Blog

I am excited to join the Omaha Mom team. As a mom of 4, a wife to Shawn, a lover of Jesus, music, food, and coffee, I am also a student at Western Governor’s University pursuing a BS in Marketing Management. I aspire to contribute my own unique perspective on several interesting subjects that emerge in our thriving community.

We’re so excited to have Ebony join us!

SUPER Simple Toddler-Approved Activities That Are Sure Favorites

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I have an almost 4-year-old and an almost 1-year-old, so I’m currently going to be in toddler-activity mode for quite some time. We try to vary the activities to keep things exciting, but here are 3 of my favorite activities repeatedly played at our house.

Note that I did not come up with these all on my own—it takes a village, people, and I am only so creative!

Toddler-Approved Chalk Paint

This is the current all-time favorite. If this were toddler TRL, Carson Daly would be sick of this activity coming in most requested. I also like this one because it keeps my toddler occupied the longest, and we’re outside with little cleanup.

What you need

  • A small plastic container that holds about a cup of water
  • Water
  • Cornstarch
  • Food coloring
  • Cheap paintbrushes (we bought something like a 30 pack from Menards for a few dollars)Toddler-approved paint

I make a big batch in a blender and then pour into individual cups.

I usually do about 2 cups of water and 1 cup of corn starch and blend until completely mixed, and this fills 4 little containers for us. You can easily double, triple, half this. Mainly keep the 2:1 ratio. I like the blender because it really mixes everything into one milky consistency. I also am not a patient stirrer, so that would make a big mess for me. You do you!

Add 4-5 drops of food coloring to each container and pour in the cornstarch mixture.  Play around with this—sometimes, my colors don’t come through as much, so I add more. This can be a fun science activity to show how red and blue food coloring make purple! My 3-year-old is newly into mixing colors.

Go outside!

Add a paintbrush and paint! When it’s wet, it looks like they just used water, but it dries more of a chalky color.

Leave the mess outside for the rain (note that it may take more than 1 rain to get this off). Clothes are usually easy to clean depending on the food coloring—it’s also usually a bath night for us anyway.

What am I doing while my daughter paints? Usually sitting on a lawn chair drinking tea.

Magnatiles on the Garage

This is a new fun one, but it was a hit at our household. It’s exactly what the title says. Bring your magnatiles outside and stick them to the garage! I like this a lot because it gets us outside, and the weather is perfect right now! So again, I set up my lawn chair and sip my tea, watching my daughter create some really cool 3-D shapes sticking out of the garage door.

Toddler-approved Magnatiles Activities

Don’t have magnatiles (or any of the other similar brands of toys). Grab any magnets and stick them on there. If you were worried that your toddler was over those letter magnets, think again once you put them on the garage door!

Colored Rice

This is so fun to play with and can be really soothing. Something about scooping rice and the plinky noise of falling is satisfying to me. It’s also a wonderful medium to use for sensory bins.

Here’s what you need

  • Rice
  • Food coloring
  • White Vinegar
  • Sandwich or quart-sized zipper bags
  • Parchment paper
  • Plastic Tub with lid (for storing the rice when you’re done to play again later)
  • New sand toys/measuring cups/bowls
  • Plastic tablecloth

Add 1 cup of rice, ½ tsp vinegar, and a couple of drops of your food coloring to a zipper bag. Make sure it’s sealed and shake until rice is completely covered. My 3-year-old loves the shaking part! Once your rice is completely covered, open the bag a lay down on a layer or parchment paper (sometimes I put the parchment paper on a baking sheet.

Repeat for as many colors of rice you want to make!

Put in a plastic tub and set down on a plastic table cloth (optional but makes clean up a bit easier). Give your child new sand toys, throw in some dino figures, measuring cups, scoops, whatever to play with in the rice. This one keeps my toddler entertained for quite some time—enough time for me to enjoy my hot cup of tea!

I do this one inside, and clean up isn’t too bad—yes, I have to vacuum up some rice sometimes, but it’s pretty simple.  Rice is also relatively cheap, so if I have to add a few cups of rice every year to my bin, I’m good with that!  Note that if your toddler is still in the “everything goes in my mouth” stage, then you should obviously watch them or wait to do this activity. Rice can be a choking hazard.

We’d love to hear what your favorite toddler-approved activities!

October 15:: Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness — Forever Loved

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pregnancy and infant loss october 15

October 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. As a community of mothers, we know of the grief that surrounds this very difficult topic and we hope to encourage conversation on the matter. 1 in 4 mothers experiences loss making it an all too common experience for many women.

This October, we want to make you feel seen and comforted.

We hope that many moms will read this and feel a sense of community and belonging in an area that isn’t talked about. This is why we wanted to provide a visual reminder for mothers that have lost their beloved little ones. We hope that if you’re a mother that is grieving that this provides a sense of relief and awareness to those who have not experienced this type of loss. We hope that you’re able to visit this list periodically and see the names of littles ones that are missed.

We’ll make sure that the names that you submit are posted as soon as possible. We hope to keep these names up for the remainder of October.

Forever Loved

5 Tips for Planning A Birthday Party For Little Ones

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As a birthday party manager for a local kid’s gym, I have hosted over 300 children’s birthday parties! It doesn’t matter if you are holding your child’s birthday party in your backyard or at a local business—these five tips are helpful when planning a seamless birthday party for your little one.

Planning a Birthday Party for Little OnesFood

Kids never want to eat. There are too many distractions. Eating two slices of pizza is not happening when your best friends, family, and a bounce house are near. Little kids are much more likely to snack on something and hold out for the sweets. Let’s be honest—the food is for the adults.

Gifts

Gifts don’t have to be a taboo topic. In my experience, gift opening is when the meltdowns and tantrums occur. I do believe little kids should learn how to celebrate other people and understand the act of giving. This idea does not make sense with kids until age five. Here is what I would suggest. If it is a friends’ birthday party, ask the friends to draw or color the child a picture or request no gifts. This allows for more time to play together.

If it is a family party, go ahead and open gifts. If it is a mixed invite list of friends and family members, take a moment before or after the party with the family only. This way, family members can witness the birthday child’s authentic reaction.

Birthday CakePictures

Capturing should not be stressful. My top two pointers are to one, put someone in charge of taking pictures throughout the party. This is a good aunt or uncle’s responsibility. Parents should spend their time enjoying the day and celebrating their child.

Two, family and group pictures MUST happen before the party starts. Again, with all those distractions, a temper tantrum is bound to occur as you try to pull your child away from the fun. If you want your best chance of everyone looking and faces free of frosting, snap that picture before the party starts.

Party Favors

Less is more. I would suggest one quality item as opposed to cheap trinkets and toys. Think about giving each child a book or small stuffed animal. Those types of party favors will not only last much longer but will also hold a special memory for the party guest.

Length

Ninety minutes is the sweet spot. I know what you are thinking; there is no way we can play, eat, open gifts, and take pictures all in 90 minutes. Let me remind you: pictures before, snacks instead of a meal, and gift-opening optional.

The Curly Journey:: What I Learned About My Hair Post-Baby

Photo Credit: Carly Urbach Photography

You’ve heard it before. You’ll hear it again—possibly even 1000 more times. You have what everyone wants. Curls.

Friends and strangers alike offer compliments to your hairstyle regularly. However, your standard response is “Thanks (Insert eye roll here)” Every complaint in the book comes to mind.

The Curly Truth

You roll out of bed looking like a drunk lion, one side of your mane standing up on edge the other frizzed beyond recognition. You assume people must think, “Is that a person or a poodle?”

You can’t go anywhere without first doing your hair OR tossing it up into the weirdest of top-knob buns.

Hairstyle? What hair”style.” Curls can’t be cut into a “style.”

One word. FRIZZ.

OK, OK, OK. Slow your roll, curly girls. Wavies—you, too. I’m here to tell you that your life as you know it is about to change—all with three researchable words.

Curly. Girl. Method.

Would you believe me if I told you that, quite possibly for your entire life, you have been taking care of your hair all wrong? That’s right. Typical haircare is geared towards straight strands that can take a little pummeling from sulfate shampoo as the oil emitted from the scalp slides seamlessly down the hair shaft. The same strands that sag under the weight and become a greasy mess when engorged with conditioner. In fact, using regular shampoo, conditioner, and products can sicken your curly hair.

Signs and symptoms include:

  • Limp, unorganized curls
  • Dry, straw-like texture
  • Out of control frizz
  • A general hatred of your mane

Curly girls prescribe to a different set of rules. Stay with me for this is true, out of the box, break-the-mold thinking.

My hair was amazing for years. I’d even adopted many of the curly girl tricks on my own without realizing there was a whole haircare system dedicated to waves and curls.

curls prebaby
Pre-Baby Amazingness (who doesn’t take selfies on good hair days?)

Then I had a baby.

Well, I had a baby, and I’m getting older. So tom-a-to, to-mah-to. At some point, I was going to need help. After my first kiddo, my curls were limp, dull, and disgusting. As with anything in my life, I didn’t sit idly for long. After chopping my long mane, (a gut-wrenching and desperate maneuver as any curly can tell you how slowly kinks seem to grow), I wasn’t any happier with my locks. So, I did a little research.

Again, as with anything I do, I went in headfirst (pun definitely intended). Bought and read the book, joined half a dozen Facebook groups dedicated to Curly Girl (CG), and ordered another half dozen recommended hair products.

Hopefully, my findings can start you off on the right foot. However, ultimately, I encourage you to do your own experiments and reading as my lovely 3a/2c combination curl type is not likely to precisely match your own.

Start small.

Mama, if there is one thing I know for sure. When you go all-in to CG, there is one emotion and one only. Overwhelm.

It’s a lot, lady. So remember to start small. Tackle a couple of things at first, and I promise you will gain more knowledge this way. Like with parenting, you can’t try all the tricks day one and know what will work out in the end.

If there are three things I can impart upon you to begin your curly journey, remember these:

  1. Ditch the sulfates.
  2. Silicones = Plague.
  3. DON’T BRUSH

In a nutshell, toss out your shampoo, avoid silicone ingredients, and (unless you want unruly, homely hair) throw away any and all brushes in your home. Wide-tooth combs are now your best and most loyal friend.

I have high porosity, moderate protein, fine hair. What does this mean?

My curls air dry within 2 hours, my hair doesn’t break off at a random tug, and I have thinner hair strands. All things you will learn about your own hair in time.

When I started CG, my hair was DRY. So I caked it in butter-based conditioners. A good start until my hair was healthy. Then I couldn’t figure out why it looked so limp all the time.

After all, I fixed it, right?

Here’s the deal.

This isn’t a one-size-fits-all fix. In fact, it’s not even a one-size-fits-one fix. I had to continuously change methods and products my entire first year. I discovered my routines between seasons are different. I have stumbled on a reliable product or two, but for the most part, my hair is an ever-changing fickle mistress blown about, literally, by the weather.

What I can tell you is—There Is Hope.

Read the book, join the groups, start small. Endure a little transition hair (the pandemic is a great time for this) and embark upon your own journey to smooth, lustrous curls.

And just maybe, the next time someone compliments your hair, you can give them a genuine smile, a perky thank you, and leave your eye rolls at home!

At the end of the day, you do you. Not everything CG fits with my hair or my lifestyle. I’ve tweaked a bit and continue to try new methods whenever I can’t get my hair to cooperate.

And I’m three years in!

If I can do it, so can you.

Now get ready for my selfies as I take you through two years of my Curly Journey.

The Curly Journey
Summer 2019 right before baby #2 (left) September 2017 post lock-chop (right)

 

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