Tag Archives: children

Music is sunshine

How Music Made Our Mornings FUN!

Lilu and I have always bonded over music.  Ever since she could talk, we have made time during every day to sing and dance to our “jams” (generally super-cheesy 80’s music.)

How to have cheerful children in the morning

Like any kid, she’s not always very enthusiastic about waking up for school..  One day last week as I was tucking her in to bed, I told her I was going to come in the next morning with music blaring to wake her up.  That way, I explained, she would have to be in a good mood.

7am rolls around and I forget.  Lilu didn’t.  She sat right up in bed: “where’s the music?”  I quickly retreated to my room to grab my phone.  When I came back to help her get dressed (she still lets me choose her outfits–I’ll enjoy it as long as possible) I was playing “Higher Love” (our official family song.)

Well wouldn’t you know, Lilu hopped right out of bed with a smile on her face, already suggesting which song to play next.  The rest of the morning was entirely pleasant as we ate breakfast together, heads bobbing to the tunes playing from my portable speaker.  Lilu was even ready for school ten minutes early.

Lilu is very big on traditions, so I believe we will be jamming out each morning from now on.  Adding music definitely improved everyone’s mood– myself included.  I’m not sure why I didn’t think of it sooner, but I’m sure glad I found a way to make mornings a little bit easier!

kid's room decorating ideas for the not-so-crafty mom

Kid’s Room Decorating Ideas for the Not-So-Crafty Mom

As much as I would love to be amazingly handy, I have accepted that I am not a DIY prodigy.  Though I was a dedicated art student in high school, those creative talents did not translate into crafting abilities.

However, there are times when I have little bursts of inspiration, or ideas that somehow just work.  I know that there are other craft-challenged mamas out there, so I wanted to share a couple that are fun touches for a child’s bedroom and most importantly, are easy.

craft letters

These are wooden letters you can purchase for a couple bucks at any decor or art supply store.  I used a hot glue gun to adhere colorful pipe cleaners.  It’s a very simple process, though slightly time intensive.  I do have to admit that it was my mom who suggested this project, but what a great idea–I love how these turned out!

kid's room pipe cleaner letter wall art

Here is a look at the back side– it doesn’t have to be pretty– just make sure there is plenty of glue to keep the pipe cleaners attached.  Also, look for a pre-cut nail slot on the letters you purchase for easier wall hanging.

girl purses

This wall decor idea was even easier!  Lilu’s Grandma loves to buy her little purses, but she had accumulated so many that I started to get frustrated.  What could we even do with all of these?  One day I was drawn to a bare corner of her bedroom and decided to hang a few of the prettiest ones of the bunch.  Four little tacks, five minutes of “work” and voila!  Now this corner sparkles with Grandma’s gifts.

So don’t despair if you aren’t a Pinterest idol!  A kid’s bedroom doesn’t have to be fit for a home decor magazine– it just has to be fun and unique.  Repurposing some of your child’s prized possessions and creating eye-catching name art will make a regular room into their own special space.

cursive writing

Why I Think We SHOULD Teach Cursive in Schools

Recently, during one of our many random conversations, I mentioned to hubby how disappointed I was that cursive is no longer being taught in schools.  He expressed disbelief, but I could recall a controversy about the cursive thing (or lack thereof) a couple years ago.  I did a little internet search today and voila– plenty of articles popped up from 2013-14 when the news broke that the Common Core would no longer mandate teaching penmanship in elementary school.

I’m no expert on the Common Core, but I see parents complain about it all the time.  If Lilu’s homework assignments are a reflection of the requirements, I can’t say that I’m impressed.  I mean, is it really necessary to draw a picture, equation, AND number line to solve 4 + 5??  It seems like students are being taught to rely on all of these crutches that basically equate to counting on your fingers instead of just memorizing simple math facts like we did in generations prior.  Are we dumbing down our children?

I remember being so excited for third grade when I would FINALLY be able to learn fancy handwriting like all the “big kids.”  Cursive was presented as something special and advanced and we all wanted to know how to do it.

Cursive IS special– it’s how the founding fathers wrote our Declaration of Independence.  It’s how my Granny and Grandma write all of their letters and birthday cards to me.  At my baby shower last year, Lilu read every personal message out loud to the guests, except for one card that was written in cursive.  “I can’t read this one!” she said, handing it over to me.  Understandable for a kindergardener, but what if she was twenty years old and said the same thing?

Computers, phones, and tablets have become an integral part of our culture, so many would argue that learning cursive is a waste of time.  However, cursive writing is almost like another language, and is a skill that can help in critical brain development.  Maybe it’s not the MOST important thing they need to know, but it just seems like one example of how we are lowering standards for our children.  Shouldn’t we strive to teach them more instead of less?

Cat Island Bahamas

Traveling with Baby: Buying Tickets

In the next two months I will be taking Annabelle on two plane flights.  The first, which I am calling our “practice run,” is a short, direct flight from Houston to West Virginia to visit relatives.  The only things that worry me at all about this trip are (1) it is her first trip EVER by car or plane longer than one hour, and (2) Daddy will not be with us to help carry luggage and hold the baby if she gets restless.  However, my mom traveled with three kids many times, so I’m sure between the two of us we will be fine.

The second trip, which DOES make me a little more nervous is to the Bahamas for my sister’s wedding.  The first leg of the trip is again a direct flight, from Houston to Nassau.  However, the wedding is not on the big island.  No, my sister selected a remote, private beach resort on tiny outlying Cat Island.  Absolutely stunning in photos, but requiring a second flight on a completely separate Bahamian airline.  From what I’ve been told, a 30-seat turbo-prop (eek!!!)

I made the decision for both trips to buy Annabelle her own seat so she can ride in her carseat.  Honestly, to me there really was no decision to make.  Even rough turbulence could toss a lap baby out of a parent’s arms, and a preventable injury was not worth saving a few hundred dollars.  I know this is a hot-button issue among parents, but this is my opinion.  We waited so long to have Annabelle and went through such heartache the year prior, that I could never forgive myself if anything happened because she was not properly restrained.  (Stepping off soapbox now.)

I’ve already booked our international flight, but last night my sister texted to encourage me to go ahead and book the Bahamian leg of the trip, as these small planes fill up quickly.  I got my credit card handy (no American Express– dang, there goes a thousand dollars in potential points!)  However, when I entered in the ages of all our passengers, Annabelle was not given the option of buying a seat.  The website simply stated that no seats are allocated for infant passengers.  WHOA. I feel much safer in the big commercial jet from Houston, and she has a seat on that trip.  But the little puddle-jumper crossing ocean waters to a remote island doesn’t think she warrants a safe place to be strapped in?  Not cool.  I cancelled my booking so I could call the airline in the morning.

Lively, loud island music blared in my ear as I waited to speak to the airline representative.  I suppose it is a nice departure from the usual elevator music that I have become so accustomed to in my MANY calls to insurance, doctors offices, the healthcare marketplace, etc.  Fortunately, the wait was brief.

“Hi, I was trying to book an upcoming flight from Nassau to Cat Island with my one year old daughter, but the website wouldn’t let me buy her own seat.”

“Oh no, infants are not charged to fly.”

“Right, but I WANT to pay so she can have her own seat.”

“Oh but she can sit in your lap for free.”

“I’m not comfortable with that at all.”

“No?”  Pause.  “You’re not?”  The confusion was obvious in her voice.  Apparently no one has ever expressed this concern before.  “Um, do you mind holding for a minute while I speak to a supervisor?”  Apparently permission is needed for me to pay for a child that would otherwise be riding free.  After a few minutes, “Ok, you can go ahead and buy her a ticket.  Just check the box that  says she is over two years old.”

“And the computer will let me do that if her birthday doesn’t match?”  Silence.  “Ok, well I’ll give it a try.  Thanks for your help.”

So, I’m about to attempt to purchase a ticket for my “two year old” daughter and hope that we don’t have any problems when we show up in a foreign country with a passport that very obviously states a different age.

This adventure is definitely TO BE CONTINUED…

Sunday Funday — How Weekends Have Changed Since Becoming a Mom

Today was family day in the Rodriguez house.  The four of us spent the day together, all day, just us.

We started the day with breakfast, well, brunch if you consider it was around noon.  Grandma stayed with us last night, so Matt and I were extremely lucky to be able to sleep in for once!  (Good thing because Annabelle decided to get up and play for an hour around 6am–a nap was much needed!)  I made chocolate chip pancakes– yes you read that right, I COOKED– and we all started our day together around the table with a treat.

By this time, Annabelle was ready for her nap.  Mateo sent Lilu and I off to the salon for pedicures, something I haven’t spoiled myself with since I quit my job.  What a relaxing hour!  Lilu had brought an American Girl book (yes, our six year old wanted to READ at the salon) and she was so cute sitting next to me quietly immersed in her new chapter book, occasionally giggling when her feet were tickled.  I even let her pick my nail color– metallic lime green– because, why not?

When we returned home, Annabelle was up and ready to go, so we headed off to the mall to get Lilu’s bangs trimmed and a new dress for school picture day this week.  Nothing too exciting, but so much fun for the four of us to be together.  I gave Lilu a few options from Gap Kids– great sales going on– and she asked if she could try them on.  Grandma usually buys most of the girls’ clothes– it is just something she loves to do– so Lilu never gets to choose.  This was probably the first time she’s been in a changing room for herself, and she WORKED it!  She transformed into a little diva, twirling and posing.  In the end she didn’t really care which dress I picked, it was modeling them that was the fun part.

Before we headed back to the car, Lilu pleaded to stop in Barnes and Noble.  How do you say no to a kid that begs to go to the bookstore??  Even Annabelle has developed a love of books (I never believed babies would sit still for a story, but she is fascinated and knows which ones are hers.)  We let Lilu pick out a new adventure in the Frozen saga (of course they are still milking this thing) and got Annabelle a new peek-a-boo book since she can actually lift the flaps herself, and delights in doing so.

There are so many things that can make it difficult for us to spend an entire day together as a family: school, work, naps, Lilu’s weekends with her mom.  It is so easy to get caught up in life that you forget to slow down and just enjoy it and the people that are most important.  Today was such a simple day, but it was one of the best I’ve had in a while.  Kids want nothing more that to just BE with their family, and honestly, there is nowhere else I would rather be either.

Baby See, Baby Do

We have officially entered the “copycat phase.”  I never knew that babies were capable of deliberate imitation so young, but then again, before I had Annabelle I just kind of assumed that babies were little “blobs” that laid around wherever you put them (adorable little blobs of course!)  So everyday is a learning experience for me!

Annabelle has decided that Lilu is her inspiration in life right now.  She might say “da-da da-da da-da” all day long, but it’s Lilu that she wants to be like.  If Lilu is chewing her food a little too loudly, Annabelle will chime in smacking her lips with gusto.  Wherever Lilu is or whatever she is doing, that is where Annabelle wants to be.

They’ve also developed a secret language which only involves shrieking.  At decibels not meant for adult ears.  On multiple occasions throughout the day, an ear-splitting call and repeat ensues that sounds like a school of whales.  It’s both incredibly cute and mind-numbing at the same time.

Lilu has a very specific “dance” she’s done since birth– especially while riding in the car.  She tosses her head back and forth, hair flying, for the duration of every trip.  Before Annabelle was born, I joked that we would soon have two kids in the backseat going nuts.  And of course…

Nothing makes me happier than seeing the girls bonding in a way that only sisters can.  I worried about the five year difference between them, but it has become apparent that love transcends age.  And that there will never be a dull (or quiet) moment in the Rodriguez household!

A True Comfort Blanket: Why I Support Project Linus

Annabelle fell asleep on our afternoon walk today, and looked so cute (she NEVER takes “power naps” anymore!) that I had to take a photo.  Yes, I’m that mom.  Everything the baby does is cute!  Looking back through the day’s photos on my phone (again, I’m that mom), I noticed the blanket she was wearing and began thinking of our hospital stay– an amazing, scary, and draining time– so many memories came flooding back.

This particular blanket is one of my favorites.  It is colorful, soft, and handmade– making it unique from all of the other blankets you inevitably receive with a new baby.  (Though I love them all and think you can never have too many blankets– babies are messy!)  It was given to us during our five days in the hospital while I recovered from my unplanned C-section and Annabelle underwent therapy for fairly serious jaundice.  It was wrapped in a bow and had a tag attached which showed that it came from Project Linus.

I had heard of this organization, and had assumed that the blankets were for very sick children.  Despite our traumatic birth and longer than normal in-patient status, I felt undeserving.  What’s more, I was so tired and doped-up at the time that I couldn’t really appreciate it then, so I packed in my suitcase with all of the other baby and mommy clothes that we never used that week.  (Annabelle was in a diaper only, spending 20 hours a day under her photo lamps and I was one of those horrible hospital gowns– to tired and sore to try to wear anything else.)

When we returned home, I made sure to promptly send a hand-written thank you note (I am a strong proponent of thank you notes) to the woman who had knitted the blanket.  I was grateful that Project Linus includes the donor’s name and address with the gift so I could acknowledge receiving it.  Interestingly, she lived close to my parents’ old house– where I had lived briefly upon first relocating to Texas.

Although I still feel that we might not have been the MOST deserving of such a thoughtful gift, I am filled with gratitude every time I see it.  How kind of a random stranger to take the time to create something so simple, useful, and yet beautiful for those that do not have the easy birth and short hospital visit that we all hope for.

I don’t know how to knit (and a new baby doesn’t leave much spare time to do things like that anyway), but I wanted to bring attention to such a worthwhile organization, even if only to my modest blog audience.  This year I finally get my first tax refund EVER, so what better opportunity to show my support in return for the thoughtfulness that was shown to me and my family.  I urge you to consider doing the same.

Here is Annabelle with her Project Linus Blankie: