Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Kids Are Mean

A couple weeks ago, Benjamin mentioned to me that some of his friends at school weren't playing with him and even went so far to say that he didn't want to go to school one day because he had no one to play with.

I didn't believe it. Until I saw it.

I assumed he was exaggerating and placing all of these remarks on one isolated incident he didn't fully understand, like the allowance of only two kids in a center area or one kid really intent on his creation that he didn't react well when Benjamin went grabbing for that special project. Or that the one kid he wanted to play with at that exact time was unavailable.

Benjamin isn't an easy kid to understand and I think he struggles to understand others. He's not very social. He clams up and holds his emotions inside until he bursts. He gets hurt feelings, despite his tough exterior or appearance to disregard anyone and everything. But if you touch on something sensitive, he goes into defense mode and says and does things that he can't control because he lacks that full ability to express himself well.

But, like any mom, I felt horrible that he felt underappreciated and devalued. I want the kids to love him, but he's an introvert loner who doesn't seem to have the whole social awareness thing down. And it does bother him. So I wanted him to know that it does bother me, too. I want him to know I take his concerns seriously because I want him to love school and I love him. This whole social confusion is most of what preschool is about, right?

We were at storytime yesterday and in walks a girl from his class. He sits beside her, smitten that someone from his class was at our storytime. He's met other classmates there before and they've always been nice. This girl, wasn't. When the story ended or the librarian read a funny joke, he'd turn to look and see her reaction, as to connect with her. She turned her whole body against him and at one point actually moved herself away from him. Of course her mom was either oblivious (or a jerk) and didn't react.

I grabbed him up and told him she wasn't interested in being friendly and immediately he welled up with tears and started saying unkind things ("I don't love you", etc.). This is how he reacts when he feels threatened. I felt terrible and honestly had some ugly words in my head rolling around about that little brat of a four-year-old.

He has to know that life isn't fair. It's not. People are going to disappoint you. They will. Friends will come and go. Also true. It's just... really hard being Mama and seeing your little bird take flight, only to fall and gain those bruises. This is only the beginning.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Thanksgiving Fun + Tree Adventures

About a month ago, my husband got word that you could cut down your own tree in the wild with the purchase of a $10 permit. That's it. You hand over $10 to the National Forest Service and they give you an official sticker and map of places you're allowed to cut.

We had a full weekend of fun, starting with a 10k Turkey Trot with our little turkeys in the stroller followed by dinner at some friends' house and asleep in a hotel bed at a cute little Inn in Incline Village, Nevada (it's on Lake Tahoe). Night one, we all take a swim in the amazingly heated (like spa-temps!) pool and find ourselves in bed late and then quickly awoken to the sound of vomit coming from the kids' bed. Mmmhmm. The shared bed. Benjamin didn't wake at all.
We grab Claire up and clean her up, manage the bed as best we could and put her back. She promptly vomits again. We clean her up again and the rest of the night was quiet, except I never slept much because I anticipated that terrible sound again... #momlife also, #vomitistheworstpartofparenting

She was good for the following day, so we explored three different ski resorts and I got a massage in Squaw Valley from my birthday gift stash. We explored South Tahoe and eventually made our way back for another warm swim and some Christmas shows on television before a good night of sleep.
Saturday was a day for more swimming, sledding and more exploration before heading back down the mountain and grabbing our tree permit for the following day.

We trekked about an hour south of our home into the Northern California Toiyabe Forest and promptly found ourselves in a winter wonderland that also made for some fun adventures trying to get our new Subie out of the deeper-than-we-estimated snow. We finally found a suitable spot and trekked about 1/3 mile into the snowy woods and crossing a stream to find our tree. There are just so many great memories from this, but probably not from Claire's perspective since she refused the gloves we tried to put on her. Instead she spent the better half of the adventure screaming, as you can see from the quintessential family picture here.
We'd been tree cutting at farms in the past, but nothing compares to trekking through the wilderness with just a map and your senses to find the tree! it's a wild tree, so it's not the perfect spruce trees you expect when spending $ at the tree lots, but it's perfectly ours and we love it. Benjamin was 100% into this adventure and wanted to be a part of everything. He complained nil and it was so awesome to share that adventure with him.
We typically wait until after Andrew's birthday for the tree presentation in our home, but our kids were excited and it's getting harder to hold them back as they get older. Plus, our weekends are getting more and more booked as the holidays approach and we had a free afternoon. Still feels foreign, but being from nature and in the mountains where I feel closest to him (and God), it almost felt like he was with us, exploring, adventuring and indulging in this excitement. Plus, an added bonus is having his ornaments up for the whole month of his birth.
It was quite the weekend and nothing short of memorable. Seriously, how have more people not found out about Reno? Most people give  me the confused look or question when I mention it, but I honestly bet you would be amazed... as amazed as we are. It's like a best-kept secret of the West and we're in love.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Shameless Chatbooks Post. Do You Get Them? + Giveaway Winner

I feel like digital images have made life both awesomely convenient and impossible to organize. I'm grateful that we don't have to just guess if we got the perfect shot or worry about wasting each image, but goodness. I spend hours on photos each month!

Sorting through the pictures and videos. Organizing them into folders. Deleting the 397 duplicates of each photo. Are you with me?

One of the only things that is made easy is ordering my Instagram pics through Chatbooks. (I'm brandywilson in case you want to follow.) My Instagram photos have made it so easy to share grandkids with their far away grandparents. I used to go to great lengths to share pictures. And even better, once I post 60 pictures, I can automatically print little booklets of pictures and give them as gifts. I can go in and de-select some pictures (like ones where I talk about running) and change captions if they are too long. You can select a cover image or have them do it automatically.

It's $8 a book, shipped to my door. I collect them as they come in and gift the printed volumes at Christmas to a very lucky set of grandparents who have those to flip through between visits.

Gives date, location (if provided in Instagram) and caption.

If you're interested, I'm totally up for earning free books if friends use my link. Not only do I earn free Chatbooks if I have 5 friends sign up by November 20 (so far, two have!), but you also get your first book totally free to check it out. I'm pretty sure you'll love it. I only shamelessly plug stuff I actually think is cool. I'm not being paid for the plug, but I'm down for some perks where I can get them and free books is totally a perk.

Here is my link if this is something you've been considering:

Christmas is coming up...and they can even print all the pictures you've had on Instagram up until this point, too! So you're not late to the game at all.

That is all. #chatbooksarerad


P.S. Random selection for the National Geographic Books... Kristi! I'll send an email to get the ball rolling and get those books to your kiddos. Endless perfect winter entertainment. :)

Monday, November 14, 2016

Gun-Loving Blue State

Our community has communal mailboxes. Each person has to go retrieve their mail from a large (actually 3) box holding the mail for everyone in the subdivision. I hate it. But, it's not a total dealbreaker and really, we don't even own the place. I guess it allows them to cover more ground and cuts down on the number of mail carriers they have to pay.

We teeter between wanting to own because we love this area and loving our stress-free lifestyle of having no obligation to repair, fix or cover the cost of home ownership. It's been a glorious (almost) 3 months of home-free living. Plus, two years ago, we could've owned a home here for about 30% less than they are currently selling for and before Tesla and all of the other factories moved to town. I don't want to pay 30% more than all my friends did just two years ago!

So back to the mailbox. We were scooting the .1 mile to get our mail and look to the left to see a big rack animal on a trailer in one of those 4x4 vehicles. Just chilling on the street. {insert wide-eyed emoji}

Vegetarians don't do hunting. And I'm an anti-gun kinda gal, who will never tolerate one of those in our home. No thanks.

I would've never thought that in this dismal Presidential election we all just witnessed (with our jaws on the floor as we stared at the television) that this gun-loving state would've gone blue. I was a contributor, mostly because I found our new President Elect to be the greater of the two evils, but never did I assume my fellow neighbors would be in agreement. In the end that didn't matter, but I'd like to think we are one with the rest of the western states on this one. And Canada. My friend on Instagram tagged me in this, saying they fixed the map so it makes better sense.

And for fun, this is a "Judgemental" map of the Reno area. We are in South Reno in the Democrats and Baby-Makers area (though we're swing voters and all done making babies). And yes, there are exactly two highways in Reno, making a "t" shape. That area where they intersect is known locally as the spaghetti bowl. #nowyouknow
This post is nothing more than jibber-jabber because I had to get the feelings of despair about this recent election out of my conscience and because I can't get the visual of that dead animal carcass out of my head either. It's almost perfectly fitting that the sight of our new President and this animal would come haunt my mind in the same week.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Young Kids DO Like Nonfiction : National Geographic Hero Series Book Review + GIVEAWAY!

Reading is a huge part of what I spend my time doing with my kids. Our local library has a program to promote early literacy in children under the age of 5. It's called 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten. I'm fairly certain I've read over 20,000 to Benjamin and at least 10,000 to Claire at their young ages of 2 and 4. I've read so much that Benjamin hands me book after book, inhaling each word, curious about everything he is seeing and hearing. He's a sight word champion and well on his way to devouring books all on his own.

At such a young age, kids don't actually need us to force them into reading. They are inherently curious. We're participating in that library program to encourage others and because bubbling in those little bubbles for each book on the chart is great fine motor practice for my littles.

Around Halloween, kids who showed up at our doorstep were dressed as every kind of character. My kids had lots of questions as we dropped candy into baskets of kids dressed up as warriors, superheroes and people of history (though I'd like to see more of the latter). Yesterday at the library, Benjamin stopped at the biographies section and commented about those books being "for big kids" instead. I disagreed. He grabbed up a book about Davy Crockett and off we were exploring the pictures and facts about the folk hero. Nonfiction isn't just for the big kids. Some nonfiction books are a good bridge between the two, featuring stories of historical characters in their nonfiction stories, like one of our favorites, Rosie Revere, Engineer.

If I can get my hands on new and exciting books with cool pictures and awesome facts about important people in world history that are both interesting and will catch my kids' attentions, I'm all about it. We were sent a couple great National Geographic books to check out. The Book of Heroes and The Book of Heroines were quickly ripped from their boxes by my little bookworms. Not only was Rosie the Riveter in there (activating prior knowledge + connecting literature!), but so were a handful of stories about flight crew who made quick moves to save their aircraft... one of those being Benjamin's obsession: the Goodyear blimp. In short snippet paragraphs, kids of all ages are captivated by real, actual history. Even cooler, he's seen one and can immediately relate to the real-life story that happened well before his birth.
As for Claire, she's not as much of a reader, and yet the cool factor of these shiny books with bright pictures totally pulled her in. There's so much to see and learn. And they make killer coffee table books (or potty room books, just saying). For my littles, they enjoy these Nat Geo nonfiction books about Heroes and Heroines for the super cool pictures and short stories to keep their fleeting attention spans. For older kids, they can read the pages on their own, devouring the rich (and seriously exciting) world of doers and game changers. Ages 2 and beyond as long as they can sit and listen and have a little explanation from parents (since some of those words are as big as the characters themselves), these books are good for everyone.

As for independent reading, it's around the 5th grade level of reading and seriously a super item to add to a classroom library as a gift (teachers LOVE this) or as a birthday present for the kid who has too many toys (just our problem? probably not).

It's hard to imagine anyone not finding stories of awe inspiring history makers interesting. We sure did. These will be part of our book library for many years to come. Because I'm also a book hoarder, natch.

Wanna win a set of these great nonfiction stunners for your kids? Shoot me a comment below about your favorite hero or heroine and I'll select a winner on Wednesday 11/16! Open to U.S. only. Sorry my beloved Canadian friends! xo

I received this product for free from Moms Meet (, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agree to use this product and post my honest opinion on my blog. The opinions posted are my own.