I See Me! – Farm Friends

*I received the products mentioned in this blog post for free in exchange for a review on my blog.  As always, all opinions are 100% honest and my own!*

Whelp, Lincoln is five months old now.  I can’t believe how quickly time is flying with him.  He has such a little personality now!  He is a super laid back kid.  He really only cries if he’s hungry or over-tired.  The rest of the time he is smiling, belly laughing and squealing!  Here’s a quick video I caught last week:

He is finally loving “tummy time,” now that he can push himself all the way up, and manipulate toys with one hand as he holds himself up.  Most of the time his little legs are going too {even though his big Buddah belly is still firmly on the ground….he’s not going anywhere!}!  Mirrors are a big motivator for tummy time.  Although I don’t think he recognizes his own reflection yet, he sure does like checking out that cute baby in the mirror.

Recently, I was sent a personalized children’s book for Lincoln from I See Me! books.  And just because they are awesome, they threw in a personalized placemat as well.  Now, Lincoln is not quite ready to be at the table yet, so I used the placemat to help out with tummy time.  Propped up against the mirror he loves so much, Lincoln was happy to push himself up to stare at the handsome farmer and his animals!

And next month, when we start introducing baby food and his is up at the table, we’ll be able to use the placemat in a more traditional way.  It’s really big and easy to wipe off, so it’ll be great to catch all of those drips and crumbs that come with first foods.

Lincoln is really getting interested in books now.  He likes to help turn the pages, and will often “pat” pictures of animals.  So when we got a copy of I See Me!’s new book, Farm Friends, complete with farm animals and pictures of Lincoln, we were eager to read it together!

At first, I thought the giant Lincoln face on each page was silly.  But then I realized that it was the perfect size for Lincoln to see, and in the coming months when he starts recognizing his photo, he’ll enjoy it even more!  The book was perfect for even his little hands, with a sturdy cover and pages that will withstand some wear and tear from him as a toddler too.

Lincoln and DadAnd the book is just adorable!  From a Mom perspective, I love how “Farmer Lincoln’s” face is on every page, in addition to his name spelled out or written at least once on each page.  I’m not sure if you can see it below, but his name is spelled out {in subtle humor} on both his argyle sweater, and on the sweaters that each of the sheep in the field are wearing!

And the former teacher in me loves the many talking and teaching opportunities on each page, from counting, to letter identification, to animals and their sounds, and colors.  When  Millie reads it, she loves pointing out all of the silly things on each page.  {Chickens wearing glasses!?!?!?}

And since just about anything will make Lincoln laugh these days, exaggerated animal sounds coming from Mommy and Daddy are just what are needed to entice a few belly laughs from the baby!

 I See Me! books have a ton of personalized stories, including:

The Super, Incredible Big Sister

I Can Change the World

My Very Own Pirate Tale

I’m a Big Boy Now!

I’m also loving their personalized puzzles {and lunch boxes, growth charts, etc.}, for older kids.

I See Me! Books has a great selection of other unique personalized children's gifts, such as puzzles, lunch boxes, stickers, etc. #iseemebooksAnd right now {just in time to order for Christmas!}, they have a bunch of promotions and giveaways going on!  You can enter to win a free book and a Pottery Barn Giftcard, or “like” them on Facebook to receive 15% off.  Or you can join their e-mailing list to get the newest promotions.

Follow I See Me! on social media:

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Stay-at-Home Mom: A How-To Guide

I am so very blessed to be able to stay at home with my three kiddos.  And although I loved my job before having kiddos, and completely respect those hard working moms who work outside of the home….I wouldn’t trade my life now for anything.  I have a couple of friends who are, for the first time, now able to stay at home with their kids too, and so I thought I’d give a few tips on how to gracefully make the transition.

Be A Stay-at-Home Mom: A How-To Guide {Tips and Tricks for transitioning from the workplace to staying at home with your kids} - Palmettos and Pigtails

My husband’s advice: stock up on BonBons and Soap Operas.  He jokes around about me sitting on my butt all day, but he knows perfectly well how hard of a job it is to be a stay-at home mom.  And I love to remind him of it on the weekends, by leaving him with all three kids for a couple of hours!

I recently ran across this article on Babble about how being a stay-at-home mom is actually a luxury for your spouse.  I saved it because I find that it’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling like you aren’t doing enough.  As a working mom, you stayed busy with non-household related tasks for 8-10 hours a day before coming home to your family…and now, your primary job is family and household.  And now, in the days of Facebook, Pinterest, oversharing and helicopter parenting…it’s easy to feel guilty about not having a pristine house, themed lunches, and crafty playdates.  Not to mention, a healthy homemade dinner on the table every night.  Sorry, but that’s just not realistic!

Be A Stay-at-Home Mom: A How-To Guide

You may be a Super Mom, but you are still human, and dealing with some very unstable little people who will throw a kink in any plans you make.  So underestimate the amount of “stuff” you’ll get done in a day, and you won’t disappoint yourself.

Be A Stay-at-Home Mom: A How-To Guide

Talk to your spouse about your changing roles in the household.  Establish what “jobs” you will take over, and what he’ll be in charge of.  Dave and I have kind of figured it out by trial and error, but I really wish we had done this.  A specific sit-down chat to determine each other’s expectations of the other will put everything on the table, and hopefully prevent misunderstandings and resentment in the future.

Next, establish a daily/weekly routine.  If you don’t create some sort of organization to your time, you’ll go crazy.  Start simple, day by day.  Personally, I do one major chore a day.  Monday is laundry day, Tuesday is vacuuming, Wednesday is grocery shopping, Thursday is decluttering, and Friday is bathrooms.  So, if I am able to get everybody up, dressed and fed, and do that one chore….I feel like my day has been a success!  I also try to do as many of the Cleaning Calendar chores that I can…not always in order, and some days I am able to do more than one, other days I can’t do any.  My schedule often loosely looks something like this:

5:00 – change and feed the baby
5:30 – shower and get dressed {even if it is just yoga pants!}
6:00 – get Jayna ready for school and Millie ready for the day
6:30 – put Jayna on the bus and eat breakfast with Millie
7:00 – while Millie plays, change and feed the baby, put him back down for morning nap
7:30 – check email and clean up kitchen
8:00 – do daily chore somewhere in here, while Millie is playing and baby is sleeping
8:30 – play or do some sort of project/cooking with Millie
9:30 – change baby, play on the floor with him
10:00 feed Millie a snack
10:30 take the kids out for a bike ride/walk
11:00 while Millie plays, change and feed baby, put him down for lunch nap
12:00 feed Millie lunch
12:30 put Millie down for a nap, change the baby, grab a bite to eat, clean up the kitchen
1:00 blog or sew while baby plays in exersaucer
2:00 finish daily chore if needed and do a cleaning calendar chore
2:45 get Jayna off the bus and get her unpacked and settled in for quiet reading
3:00 change and feed the baby, put him down for afternoon nap, Millie wakes…play with girls
4:00 while girls play together, start prepping dinner, check email
5:30 dinner on the table

It’s funny, as I write this, it seems like there is so much time in the day.  Up until now, I’ve never written down my “schedule.”  In fact, it took me quite a while to think about what I actually do on a daily basis.  So when I wrote down the minimum things in my day, there seems like so many gaps.  But then fill those gaps with potty breaks, tantrums, tying shoes, tears, hugs, time-outs, fussiness, tea parties, lap sitting, boo boos, reading books, etc.  No wonder I don’t get more done!

Be A Stay-at-Home Mom: A How-To Guide

Some of the ways I keep organized, are by planning out my meals.  I do this in a variety of ways, from preparing freezer meals ahead of time, to participating in the eMeals program {and letting them do all the meal planning for me!}.  Either way, I use a Weekly Meal Planner worksheet to get a visual of what I’ve planned for the week, which also helps Dave on the nights that I need him to start dinner for me.

Another important thing to remember is that although it’s important {and your job now!} to spend more time with your kids, don’t feel like it all has to be structured.  As a former teacher and a mommy-blogger, it’s second nature to me to want to have a project, craft or game ready for the kids at all times.  But you have to remember that by having structured activities or even excursions {think zoo, children’s museum, etc.} all the time will create expectations and dependency from your kids.  It’s good for them to play alone or with each other.  It’s beneficial for them to learn to leave you alone sometimes.  And it’s a valuable skill that you may need to teach them, since they will be SO EXCITED to have you at home with them.  All. of. the. time.  I try to balance structured activities {from simple painting to complex slime recipes and scavenger hunts} with free play, and adding the occasional “field trip” excursion about twice a month.  {And the grocery store counts as an excursion, right?!?!}

Be A Stay-at-Home Mom: A How-To Guide

And my final thought is, don’t feel guilty about taking some “me” time.  Whether it’s in the evenings or weekends, when your spouse can take over for a bit, or during nap time, make sure it happens.  It’s easy to get so wrapped up in daily duties and childcare that you forget to take care of yourself.  And if you are stressed out, tired or burned out, you can’t be a good mom or wife.  So don’t feel guilty about that hour on Facebook or Pinterest…I guarantee your working friends and spouses spend at least an hour during the day surfing the internet!

Be A Stay-at-Home Mom: A How-To Guide

And last but not least, enjoy!  Your kids will grow up.  That temper tantrum will only last about three minutes.  That snuggle on the couch will be fleeting.  Soak these kiddie moments up, because there will always be dishes!

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