As a former teacher, I know how important it is for children to be good readers. As someone who truly enjoys reading, I’d love to pass the love of reading on to my children. This is why when I heard about The Children’s Trust and the #Read30 movement, I thought it would be great to share with you and challenge you to participate along with me.
If you are a family in South Florida, the Children’s Trust is challenging you to join the #Read30 movement and close the summer reading gap, aka the “summer slide.”
The social media campaign began June 1 and is running through August, and it asks parents and caregivers to read with their children for 30 minutes each day. The campaign is part of The Trust’s Read to Learn initiative, aimed at increasing the number of children who read at or above grade level by the third grade. How can you participate? Easy! Read with your children for 30 minutes a day. Then share a photo to social media and use the hashtag #Read30.
“Reading achievement can typically decline an average of three months in summer and the best way to prevent kids from losing that kind of ground is to keep them reading, which is what #Read30 intends to do,” says James R. Haj, president and CEO of The Children’s Trust.
Reading with your children on a daily basis can really give them a leg up and help them succeed in school and in life. Aside from reading together for 30 minutes each day, The Children’s Trust also suggests following these simple guidelines:
Summer reading always felt like a huge chore while I was in school, but it’s so important. For kids who have assigned summer reading books, try and get involved with what they are reading. Once they’ve finished their required reading, let them choose their own reading material. Take them to a bookstore and let them browse. Give them ownership of their reading material. I LOVE to read and I finished the last few Harry Potter books in under a day, yet required reading was always the worst for me to get through and would take me weeks. [Teachers, one thing I used to do was assign one book and then make the second book reader’s choice - it had to meet certain requirements or it was chosen from an extensive list. They had to do a full on report once school started, but I had a lot more success that way.]
And thirty minutes may sound like a lot if your kids are little like mine, but you can break it up! Read a book in the morning, another after lunch, and then again at bedtime. Remember, it all adds up!
Children who read for 30 minutes daily are more likely to read at grade level by the third grade, increasing the likelihood of academic and professional success. According to a 2010 report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, “reading proficiently by the end of third grade can be a make-or-break benchmark in a child’s educational development.” Until the end of third grade, most children are learning to read, but beginning in the fourth grade, they are reading to learn.
So join me this summer and share your your photos across social media using the hashtag #Read30. I can wait to follow along!
For more information on The Children’s Trust and the Read to Learn initiative, please visit https://www.thechildrenstrust.org/read30.
And that means that teachers everywhere are jumping for joy, shedding their cardigans for swimsuits, their chalk for a cold drink, and handing the baton off to Mom & Dad. Which means... oh. Wait. You mean, I've got my kid 24/7 for the next couple months? What on earth am I to do with them for all that time?
I'm sending Caleb to day camp at his school for a couple of weeks, but camps can get expensive, so he's not going all summer long. I also thought it would be nice to spend some quality time with him and Chloe together (day 2, already reconsidering this decision lol). But I knew if I wanted to do that, I was going to have to come up with some activities to keep him busy and out of trouble, and so that he didn't sit in front of the TV all summer long.
So I put my teaching skills to use (or rather, my Pinterest pinning skills), and created a Summer Schedule and some weekly themes to help keep this little guy entertained.
For the schedule, I built plenty of downtime into it, in case stuff comes up or we want to have a play date or something. I gave each day of the week a theme, so that it's easier to prepare for crafts on Mondays, going somewhere on Tuesdays, etc. Also, none of it is hard and fast, and we can adjust as we go - kind of like I used to do with my lesson plans when I was teaching. The big gaps in the schedule are to fill with crafts, field trips, the library, pool time, or anything else we decide. (Make sure you scroll to the end of the post to download the PDF files - these jpegs aren't so great!)
While I wanted to be creative, I don't feel like I need to reinvent the wheel. I decided I would come up with a few themes for the weeks I have him home with me (unfortunately there aren't enough themes for the whole summer). I started searching for activities on Pinterest, and boy did I find them! There are some pretty creative activities out there, and my Pinterest board is now full of them! Since Pinterest now lets you subdivide boards, I made one Summer Activities board, and then created sub-boards (is that what they're called?) for the different weeks, based on themes. Just because I pinned all these things doesn't mean I'm going to get to every single one of them. On the calendar with the weeks, I linked the theme for that week to the board. Some of the activities are more involved, others require very little prep.
I know this won't function perfectly every single day, and it's not a set-in-stone schedule, but it is something that will help us to do some activities this summer and not drive one another crazy. And as always, feel free to reach out if you have any questions or suggestions.
Click the files below to download them.
Follow the Summer Activities Board
When we moved into this house, we knew that there were a lot of things we wanted to do to it, including basically doubling it in size. When we were having the plans drawn up for the addition, which included our master suite, I really wanted my close tot include a vanity somehow. That was the original plan, but once it was built, I realized the space wouldn't work for a vanity. So I put it off because there was always something going on.
For a while, we had an exercise machine in the corner of our bedroom, and we recently sold it because it had become a glorified towel rack. I finally decided I wanted the vanity enough that I started to do the research for it. I convinced Eddie that it would be a beautiful corner in our room and that it would make a space that had been wasted for so long finally useful.
He agreed, and I got to work picking everything out. It took me a few weeks to settle on the actual vanity, which is actually a writing desk. And once Target came out with their Opalhouse line, I knew what I would use for accents.
I ordered two toothbrush holders to hold my makeup brushes, and a soap dish holds my perfumes. I also ordered a drawer organizer and a magnifying mirror from Amazon (you can find it on myAmazon Influencer page).
I've been able to sit and do my makeup quite a few times, but it's really a space that just brings me joy. I walk into our bedroom and it's the first thing I see, and it's a pretty, feminine space that goes so well with the rest of the room. The space feels very glamorous, and there's nothing this mama loves more than a chance to feel a little glam (cause Lord knows I don't get to glam up every day).
Dress is New York & Company.
Shop the Look
The other evening, we had an event at Caleb's school. It was a mass and reception. I had bought these gaucho pants a couple weeks before, and I had been wanting to wear them for something. I usually default to jeans, but for certain occasions I like to switch it up, and I wanted to dress up a little. Because I am still nursing, most dresses are pretty tough to manage, so I'm wearing a lot of two piece outfits these days, for easy access. These linen gauchos are really pretty and so comfy. The linen is soft and not scratchy at all, and the elastic waist is pretty much heaven sent!
I also had these slides that I purchased before Chloe was born. I've worn them a few times, and they are so comfortable. I really like the idea of mixing prints, but I'm always a little hesitant as to how to make it work. I feel like a great way of easing into mixed prints is by using a printed shoe.
Another tip for mixing prints: Stick to the same color palette. This works because they are both blues. But I do love the red floral accent on the shoes, and I tied it all together by wearing a red lip.
The blouse I've had for a long time, but I love the subtle lacy detailing in the front and the V in the back. I finished off the look with some navy blue tassel earrings and a blue envelope clutch.
I'd wear this look again in a heartbeat, maybe for a meeting, or for brunch even - it's a pretty versatile look that is cool and comfortable, but still looks put together.
And since I know you guys really just come here to see my kids...
Keep it cool, babes.
Love the look? Shop it!
Contains affiliate links
A couple of months ago, I was reorganizing drawers in the kitchen, and it struck me just how much of Caleb had creeped into our neat, pre-kid lives. It was something silly. I opened the utensil drawer to take stock of what we had and do a little spring cleaning, and the contrast of our dark-handled flatware alongside all of Caleb's brightly colored utensils was just really poignant to me.
Obviously I have children. I know this because there are toys strewn about the house, and the laundry is filled with tiny socks and tiny underwear and because I spend more of my days talking about superheroes than I ever thought imaginable. But it was in that utensil drawer that the scope of motherhood really hit me. It was then that I realized just how much motherhood had changed me.
That drawer represented our lives before Caleb, and with Caleb in it.
Before having children, everything was neat, and uniform, and orderly. We picked up the house and it stayed picked up for longer than 5 minutes. We made a schedule for the day and we could stick to it. We made plans and didn't have to throw them out the window because a little one woke up sick. I could get home from work and watch whatever TV shows I wanted, or go to the gym, or take a nap. Generally, I had my life together. But eventually, that life was a little bit empty, and our souls ached for something more. I remember watching TV with Eddie one day and saying to him, "Our house is lovely, but you know what's missing? The sound of tiny feet on the wood floors."
And after kids? Like the drawer, life is colorful. It might be messy, but it's filled with joy and color and laughter. Life has changed, and so have I. I've learned to embrace the toys and the color that appear in every corner of the house. I've learned that every day will be different, and that most will never go exactly as planned. I watch shows that make my child happy. I make a fool of myself to make my child laugh. I am stronger than I have ever been in my life - not because I go to the gym, but because I spend all day running around after a toddler, and carrying an infant seat around town. I don't nap most days, but I do value my rest like never before. Once highly insecure, I now know that there is nobody in the world who knows my children better than I do. I feel emotions with more intensity, and I am more fiercely protective of my family than I have ever been of anything. I have learned that our hearts can expand immeasurably, and love multiplies when you need it to. I am different, because my children have changed me. The house is filled with the sounds of little feet and little voices, and it was exactly what the house needed to feel full and complete.
It took a silly drawer to come to that realization, but I'm so glad I did. Because instead of wishing for the life I once had, it made me recognize how much I have grown. And that drawer? I'm not quite sure I'll ever have the heart to reorganize it.
Did you enjoy this post on motherhood? If so, be sure to check out the posts linked below. These ladies are all amazing and they have their own thoughts on motherhood that I'm sure you will enjoy!
The product was gifted to me in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
This past Sunday, while Eddie was off at a course, I decided I was going to brave our local Publix store by myself with both kids. I had a little anxiety about it, but there were a few things we were out of and I didn't want to place another delivery order. I had promised Caleb that we would make Hulk Muffins this week, and I needed some of the ingredients for that. Plus, I really wanted to use my Binxy Baby Shopping Cart Hammock.
As shown in the image above, putting your child's infant seat in the seat that is meant for older children is a really unsafe way to go about doing your groceries. It throws off the cart's balance and can easily lead to the cart tipping over and the infant seat falling (super scary, right?). When Caleb was a baby, I remember getting so frustrated when I went grocery shopping, because his infant seat took up the entire basket area of the cart, so I was really limited in the amount of groceries I could buy.
But with the Binxy Baby Shopping Cart Hammock, I was able to save tons of space in the cart. I was even able to put things under Chloe while she was in there. Caleb loved being able to see his little sister, and it really did make the shopping trip that much more pleasant since I knew she was safe and I didn't have to limit my groceries too much. The hammock fits most standard grocery carts, holds up to 50 pounds, and if you don't feel comfortable having your baby in the hammock on it's own, you can actually fit a standard infant carrier in the hammock, which frees up all that space for you under the infant seat. You can safely use it until baby is sitting up on their own.
The hammock clips onto the sides of the grocery cart with two plastic clips, and you secure it with a velcro strap on both sides. I felt like Chloe was really secure in there! There is also a safety harness to keep the baby in place.
So even though Chloe did decide to melt down at the very end of the shopping trip and let the entire store know how hangry she really was, the shopping trip leading up to that point was as smooth as I could have expected it to be thanks to this nifty little invention.
Want a Binxy Baby Shopping Cart Hammock of your own? Shop this affiliate link and get 10% off your order! This also makes a pretty awesome gift for a new or expecting momma.
The biggest reason we went to the grocery store was to make Hulk Muffins for Caleb. I made these once before and documented the process so I could publish on the blog, and I'm glad I documented it then and not this time, because this time was an epic failure. I decided to sub out whole wheat flour for coconut flour, and let's just say it was a dry crumbly mess. Apparently coconut flour is super absorbent and you need to use way less of it and more eggs, and I had no idea, so we had a failure this time around. But the first time around, they were a yummy hit. They are green because they are loaded with spinach, and they are sweetened with applesauce, so they're not loaded with sugar.
They were so much of a hit that one evening, Caleb ate FOUR of them (and then refused dinner, which was fine by me). So if you have a picky eater, you may want to give these a try! We call them Hulk Muffins because he's obsessed with anything related to super heroes, and he got to watch them grow in the oven like the Hulk does. But they would work well with a ton of other names. I actually had him help me with the process and he really enjoyed it!
Recipe originally from Pretty Providence
Servings: 18 muffins
So I missed my lists for February and March, but I told myself I would definitely get to it this month! It's been a busy one with having both kids sick and being at the pediatrician's office to what amounted to once a week this month. But I guess that's life with two, amirite?
Anyway, without further ado, here's the April List for ya! (some links are affiliate links and will make me a couple cents if you click on them, just FYI)
Enjoy the rest of April, and I'll leave you with this meme of JT that made me laugh a little too hard!
This month, my blog turns two years old. I can hardly believe it! When I started blogging, I had this idea in my head. I wanted to share all the great information that I had come across in the short time I had been a mom. I never thought that it would lead to some great opportunities and help me form some awesome relationships.
Truth be told, I needed to do something to figuratively get out of the walls of my house. Raising my children is something I wouldn't trade for anything in the world, but it is not without its hardships. I'm sure I've said this before, but being a stay-at-home mom can be lonely. You spend the majority of your days interacting with children who can barely speak, much less hold a real conversation with you. Some days, the most adult interaction you get is saying hi to the postal worker, and on a good day, you may get to chat with other mommies at Mommy & Me. While I hoped that starting the blog would help me to not feel so lonely, I never imagined how well my audience would respond to what I was putting out there.
Sometimes it's hard, and it would be easier to say, "Forget it," and throw in the towel. A lot of work and effort goes into keeping this going, and while there are many bloggers out there who do this to make a living, I do not make money off of the blog. Sure, sometimes I get cool products and I pass them along to you, but I never suggest products that don't make sense to me, my lifestyle, or that I'm not 100% willing to endorse for you. I never want you, my audience, to think that I'm just promoting something because I am making a quick buck.
I do love how the blog has evolved. At first, I thought I would focus mostly on parenting. But it turns out, I'm no expert in that! As a matter of fact, I'm not an expert in anything, so there's that. The evolution of the blog from a parenting blog to one with a focus on motherhood and womanhood is one that I'm really pleased with. It seemed to happen naturally, and I really do think it serves a better purpose than just focusing on parenting. I love sharing my style and beauty tips with you all. I love encouraging you to love yourself and take care of yourself so you can take better care of those around you.
But you know what I love most? Is hearing from you, interacting with you, and getting to know you. When I first started blogging, I was focused on numbers. "Blogging is a numbers game," "You need a higher follower count," "Companies won't want to work with you if you have fewer than 10k followers." I'm not sure at which point I decided that the numbers just didn't matter. Because I was receiving messages from you all on a daily basis, saying how a particular post I wrote had helped you, or how something I said really spoke to you. And you know what? That's better than any follower count could ever be. And so my dear friends, I do this because YOU keep me going. I hope to keep going with this blog for as long as it's fun for all of us, but I want to make a few promises to you!
I truly hope you will stick around for the rest of the ride! And for sticking around this far, I have a little gift for one lucky reader! I've been loving The Magic of Motherhood by Ashlee Gadd. The book contains essays on motherhood, and it really is a special collection of stories by moms new and experienced. Follow the instructions below to enter, and share with your friends!
You’ve just given birth, and they place your newborn on your chest. She’s perfect. You cuddle and gaze at her perfection. You’re amazed that your body created this perfect little being. For the first couple days the euphoria keeps you thinking, my goodness, she is perfect. But then the euphoria fades a little, and you realize, hm, there's some pretty strange stuff going on here.
Babies are perfect. They really are. But there are a few things that may surprise you about your newborn!
Newborn rash, baby acne, dry flaky skin, cradle cap... it's all par for the course when you have a newborn. All those perfect newborns you see in photos are more than likely photoshopped at least a little bit. Acne typically gets worse around 4-6 weeks and then it clears up for the most part.
I was so surprised when Caleb was born that his genital area was so swollen. And I didn't think it would happen with Chloe, but it did. It's also normal and goes down in the first few days!
One of the first times Caleb fell asleep and his eyelids stayed a little open, I noticed his eyes rolling into the back of his head. I freaked. I'm pretty sure I asked about a million people if it was normal. It surely is. You know what else is normal? Your baby going cross-eyed for a few seconds. They can't properly focus just yet, so their eyes do all kinds of funny things.
Their nails are razor sharp and grow crazy fast. Get yourself an electric nail file like this one and a good baby nail clipper before they arrive, because you will need them.
At least in a breastfed baby, poop is strange looking. It's typically mustard-colored and seedy looking. Colors can vary a little depending on your diet, but if baby's poop is changing colors, check with your pediatrician just to be sure. It also doesn't have an offensive smell, which is actually more strange than it being smelly, because poop is normally smelly, right? Also, breastfed babies can go up to a week without pooping - at which point, when they do finally go, take cover!
What surprised you about your newborn?
About this Mom
A Miami wife and mom documenting her days with her toddler and all that comes along with it.