Happiest Products:

Review: Personalized Baby Blanket by CR Creations

A few weeks ago I received the most darling, softest blanket for my middle son, Leo! Leo is 2 years old, and just the most easy-going, fun little boy! He has the biggest brown eyes you have ever seen and is such a dream to put to bed – he just crawls right in and snuggles under the covers. I wanted him to have his own special little blanket so when I saw this one come up as “The blanket of the week,” I had to have it for my little guy!

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The owner of the shop and I went back and forth a few times to choose just the right font and color to personalize the blanket. When I received it, Leo nuzzled up to it right away – it was the sweetest thing! It fits just right on his new “big boy bed” and I throw it right over his little duvet (it’s 42″ square). When he starts preschool in September I’ll probably send it along as his special blanket. 

Why It Makes me a Happiest Mama: The fabric is soft and cozy, and I love how happy my little Leo looks when I show him where it has his name.  I fold it down under every night and I know  he feels so special. He gets a lot of hand-me-downs from his big brother so it is extra special to have something that is truly just for him!

Find It: You can order one for your own little person by visiting the Etsy shop. She has lots of other cute baby stuff too! I’m basically obsessed with checking back to see each new “Blanket of the Week” – they are a steal at only $25!

You can visit the shop here but I’m warning you – next time a girly blanket design comes up as the blanket of the week, it’s mine! CR Creations

 

The 8 Types of Moms You See at the Airport

Traveling with kids is not for the faint of heart! Here are 8 types of Moms you see at the airport: 

1. The Babywearing Bandit: She’s got a baby strapped to her front in an expensive woven wrap, she’s wearing a teething necklace and her child hasn’t made a peep in hours. Wait a second? Is she breastfeeding WHILE walking through security? Winning!

 

Me, babywearing my youngest at MSP.
 

2. The Polished Princess:
Chanel from head to toe – but her baby has green snot streaming from his nose. How. Does. She. Stay. So. Clean. How does she walk in those heels? 

3. The Travel Virgin: She has a carefully wrapped toy to surprise her child with every hour. She distributes earplugs and an apology note to travelers who are sitting nearby. Her diaper bag is bursting at the seams because if this plane is delayed for 6 hours SHE IS READY. 

4. The Techno-Mama: Children are successfully plugged into various iPads and iPhones, baby is strapped to some sort of wheeled device you’ve never seen before, and all boarding passes are saved to an app on her phone. She’s texting her Uber driver before the plane is fully landed. 

5. The Safety First Mama: She has installed two car seats, paid for a ticket for her still-under-two child and is currently discussing de-planing over water procedures with the flight attendant. 

6. The Pumping Mama: She has 64 ounces of breastmilk divided into carefully marked 3 ounce bags and if the security guard swabs her milk she will cut you. Hear a melodic whirring sound? She gave up on finding a decent spot to pump months ago and has mastered the art of pumping in public under a scarf. 

7. The “Baby Won’t Stop Us” Couple: They’re still young! They’re still wild! They can go on a backpacking adventure in Asia with a teething 9-month-old!

And finally:

8. The Away Without the Kids Mama: She is either alone or with her husband. To a passerby she looks like anyone else but the discerning eye notices the bit of dried oatmeal on her sleeve and the drool stain for when she left the house. She’s busted out! She hasn’t had this much alone time in months. She immediately whips out a picture of her kids when you start chatting, offers to hold a young mother’s baby, and when the plane is delayed she ignores the other passengers groans, and nestles into her seat with a book and a latte as if she’s in heaven. More quiet alone time? She’ll take it!

A Secret Key to Facebook Growth

People often ask me how I grew my Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/happiestmama so successfully. Content, of course, is Queen! I post often, and I post great quality content that I know my happy mamas will appreciate! With some luck and lots of perseverance, my page has been growing steadily.

There is a little-known way to attract more followers on Facebook. Have you ever had a post grow in popularity, so people outside of your network were “liking” it? I’m going to tell you how you can see who liked your post, and how to invite them to like your page. They have already proven that they appreciate your samplings, so invite them for a full meal!

Step 1: Click on the popular post that’s making the neighborhood go crazy.

Step 2: Click where it says “Liked by Joe Smith and 47 others”

Step 3: You will now see a list of the names of people who loved what you had to say so much that they “liked” it. Next to each name you’ll see a box that either says “Liked” if they are already a fan of your page, or “Invite,” if they do not yet officially like your page. Click “Invite.” The person will now receive an invitation to like your page!

That was easy! What a simple and effective way to invite individuals who have already expressed an affinity for your content, to your page!

Tip: You can go back to older posts that were popular outside of your network and invite people from there, but you may find that if you invite too many people at once Facebook will give you a notification to wait until tomorrow to continue.

If you have found this helpful, please like and comment below! Want more simple tips? Sign up for email updates and follow my blog! Thanks for dropping by! Now head over to http://www.facebook.com/happiestmama and like my page – or I’ll have to invite you later! ; )

 

 

Finding Gratitude

Today instead of being mad about waking up so early I’m going to shake off my initial grumpiness and think about gratitude instead.
Gratitude for my sweet little family, and our faraway loved ones, and our nearby new friends. Gratitude for 3 healthy little ones. Thankful for my health and my husband and my dogs and all the little things I’m finding joy in every day – the dandelions turning to globes of wonder that my children blow, the puddles they splash in, the little things that bring them delight. One day it’s splashing in puddles, the next it’s looking back on an idyllic childhood. 
It can be hard to focus on the things we are grateful for, but whenever we do we (almost instantly) zoom into a more positive mentality. Keeping a journal of little things that we are thankful for is a tried and tested (and true!) way to re-center. 

I like to focus on the little things. 

Because the little things have a funny way of turning into big things. 💛💛💛💛 Today, let your kids stop to splash! 

 

7 Questions | May 2016

Welcome to my new segment, 7 Questions! I’ll be featuring a different mama each month, and we’ll be talking about what brings us joy to the every day. My hope is that we can inspire each other.  This week, I talked to Stephanie Harper, who runs the website http://www.raisingkidswild.com and has 4 kids of her own. 

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What brings you the most joy? Being able to spend time with my family outdoors.

How do you teach your own children happiness or how to focus on the positive? Being positive shouldn’t be something you force kids into. I tell my kids that some days are going to be hard and that’s ok.

“Focusing on the good energy they are sending out into the world will in turn make positivity grow and negativity diminish.”

If you could give a large group of mamas one piece of advice, what would it be? Exercise the act of cutting yourself some slack. Sometimes the laundry doesn’t get done or the kids homework doesn’t get signed. It happens. You embrace letting it go and keep telling yourself that it’s alright.

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May’s Happiest Mama, Stephanie Harper, and her family on a geocaching hike.

We all have off days. How do you bounce back? The one thing that I started implementing not only on my off days but in general, is meditating. It can be done anywhere and taking a moment to just breathe peacefully, is something that refreshes me in minutes and helps bring me back to a more centered place.

What was something that made you smile this week? My 2-year old grabbed my leg, looked up at me with the sweetest look on her face and said “I’m so happy.” I couldn’t believe she said that so I asked her again to be sure and she repeated it. Her little heart is so full already.

Imagine your perfect Saturday. What would you do? It would have hiking in there for sure. Pineapple cone at Meadowlark Dairy with my family and time to read by myself – if I’m lucky!

Complete this sentence: I’m at my happiest when Idon’t worry about the small things and focus on being grateful for the now.

Thank you, Stephanie! You are officially a “Happiest Mama!”

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As a Bay Area native, Stephanie’s love for the outdoors began when she was a child, meeting up with cousins to camp at Russian River every Summer. She has a passionate background in writing and naturally her experiences outdoors led her to start raisingkidswild.com, a blog to encourage and inspire parents and kids to get outside more. She has 4 amazing children and 2 dogs who will knock anyone over to get to the car who is taking them hiking. Besides planning her next trek, you can find her singing to her kids’ favorite song on repeat or binge watching Gotham. http://raisingkidswild.com/

 

10 Unique Ideas to Get the Kids Outside This Summer (and one free printable!)

FREE PRINTABLE : NATURE SCAVENGER HUNT

In this post, I’m thinking about increasing overall unstructured playtime in nature. Getting outside is so important, but sometimes just jumping into the woods can be daunting with young kids. Pack lots of snacks and follow this list to create some missions – but between us, it’s all just an excuse to get kids out into the natural world!

Somewhere along the path of suburban sprawl and the increased popularity of iPads and video games, our kids started spending more time in coffee shops and retail stores than tossing stones into ponds. Many of today’s children don’t have the same deep appreciation for nature as previous generations did, and it comes down to one simple thing: They aren’t spending enough time outdoors. There’s a calmness that comes from walking through the trees, an appreciation for the beauty of the world that comes from staring at a beautiful lake or watching a sunset, and many of today’s kids are missing out on these simple pleasures. Indeed, Richard Louv (2008 Audubon Medal Recipient) believes that “Nature Deficit Disorder” can be linked to many of the ailments of our society, such as obesity, depression, and ADD. This deeper connection with our planet is imperative for children to develop as they grow into adults. So let’s get our kids outside this summer!

It’s no secret that today’s kids are over scheduled, but it’s time to schedule in time with the great outdoors. When I was a kid, growing up in rural Nova Scotia, Canada, we didn’t have to make a date with nature – we just walked out our back doors. Evening strolls along a dirt road were normal, playing for hours on end in the woods came naturally, and staring up at the sky in wonder was something we did without thinking.

Connecting children with nature doesn’t need to be daunting. Start off small – play in the backyard and neighborhood walks. Next, plan a picnic with friend. Print off this free printable to head out on a nature walk!

Don’t let your kids grow up having a closer relationship to Target than they do to nature. However – keep in mind that the goal is to have unstructured time in nature, so don’t worry if they don’t check everything off on the list. In fact, if they lose track of the activity and romp around in the woods, you’ve met your goal!

You can download a FREE PRINTABLE HERE:  NATURE SCAVENGER HUNT

  1. Do Happiest Mama’s Nature Scavenger Hunt
  2. Press Flowers – I sure wish we still had encyclopedias!
  3. Use a book to identify leaves and trees.
  4. Make bracelets out of double sided tape (or use masking tape) with the sticky part on the outside. Have children stick their favorite nature finds, such as flowers or leaves, to their bracelets to create their very own nature bracelets.
  5. Connect with local nature centers to join in on fun walks, activities, and hikes. Be sure to check what is available at other nearby communities or travel destinations as well!
  6. Sensory Discovery Walk. Blindfold children and have them identify different items in the forest through touch, smell, taste (choose wisely), and sound.
  7. Look for animal footprints.
  8. Take photos – get up close to bugs, plants, and rocks. Let your child be in charge of what to photograph, and later print the photos to bring some nature into their play space.
  9. Create a trail of bird seed for the forest animals to find. Check back later in the week to find it mysteriously eaten and talk about what creatures may have found your offering.
  10. Go outside very early in the morning or late at night and discuss the differences. Return to the same areas often so your children develop an appreciation for the changing seasons.

Realize how important time in nature is, and make it a priority! I would love to hear about how you got outside this week! And, don’t forget your own mental health: spending time in the great outdoors isn’t only good for the kids.

Welcoming Baby #3

 

Theimage1-3re are so many resources for first-time moms. Adding baby #2 comes in close behind, with blog posts and books devoted to introducing the new baby to her new brother or sister. But by the time baby #3 rolls into the picture, the world seems to assume that we know what we’re doing by now – when in reality, most of us are still winging it and hoping for the best! Bringing home that third baby is a whole new world – a world of triple relationships, new sibling dynamics, and changing baby products. If you’re family is becoming a party of 5, here’s what you need to know:

  1. Multiple Relationships: You aren’t just introducing a new baby to the family, you’re introducing an entire new world of relationships. In my house, it was each big brother delving into a relationship with a new baby sister, while their own relationship strengthened and changed.  Being aware of this will help you to better nurture the changes.
  2. Your Standards Will Lower. By the time the third baby comes alone, you don’t worry as much about all those little things like schedules, caffeine intake while breastfeeding, screen time and organic homemade fruit purees. It doesn’t mean you don’t care as much – you just end up being a little bit more relaxed about pretty much everything. It’s also very difficult not to let an 11-month old near his brother’s fruit snacks! Do what you need to do – even if it’s not the style of parenting you thought you would have.
  3. Divide and Conquer will be your new parenting philosophy. They outnumber you now. So while family activities are fun, sending one parent off with one or two kids while the other stays home with the other child just makes sense. A good friend told me to start asking “Which kid are you bringing?” whenever my husband mentions he’s going somewhere – guess whose 4 year old is a regular at the squash court now?  Parenting is no longer a one-to-one ratio.
  4. “Maybe we’ll just bring the baby,” will be your new mantra, and heading out shopping, staying home alone, or traveling with just the new little one will seem like absolute freedom!11046243_10156134992110058_4446056332496732192_n
  5. Teach your oldest two to hold hands. Traversing a busy parking lot with more children than you have hands takes some getting used to – start off from the beginning be teaching your older kids to hold on to each other, or the stroller.
  6. Babywear like a Boss – Remember when you thought you were a superstar because you popped the baby in a carrier and made your husband dinner? Try baby wearing while breastfeeding, wiping a butt, and telling your toddler to put the toothpaste away. You won’t even think about it!
  7. Find a sitter you love. Get her used to having all 3 kids when the baby is in the sleepy phase, so once things spiral out of control she’s already used to handling them all at once. If necessary,employ a small team. Getting time to yourself, alone or as a couple, will be more important than ever before.
  8. Be careful of lumping them together. I often think of our older two as “the boys,” but have to remind myself that they each have their own unique needs. Spending time with each child one on one is an excellent habit to get into!
  9. Get Organized: There will be more toys, clothes, art supplies, bibs and stuffed animals than ever before. Embrace your inner minimalist and execute a complete purge before the baby arrives! Then, once baby arrives, try to keep a general rule that when something new comes into the house, something must go out! Stock up on household essentials in advance so you don’t need to worry about restocking paper towel a few days after baby arrives.
  10. And don’t forget to order a little special something for that third baby – after all, a life of hand-me-downs is on the horizon! Some custom name art from Etsy, a personalized blanket, or a special toy will make each child feel so special.

The best part of adding that third baby? You know how quickly each phase ends, and those little things don’t stress you out as much. You know how those little teeny baby fists turn first to sticky toddler fingers then to big-girl hands. Those quiet night feedings bring a new sense of serenity and well-being while the house rests (it’s practically the only time of day you’ll be able to hear yourself think!). You feel confident in your parenting skills (most of the time), and you get to watch those sibling relationships develop and grow.

Above all else? Put yourself first. Schedule in alone time like your life depends on it – it does! Find something that you love to do – and if you don’t have something, just go to a coffee shop or out for a walk. Don’t feel bad if you have to pay a sitter to get this done – after all, every passenger on a wild ride knows you need to put your own mask on first.