IMG_6124

Our Year In Review

Wow! Is the year already coming to an end? We have 10 more days until 2017, and I am so not ready. The end of the year also signifies that Chief will be another year older. His birthday is December 31st, so we always celebrate with a bang.

The Good Times

This year we started our official home school journey. It came on suddenly, but it was so worth it. To say that it has been easy, without challenges, and non stressful would be a lie. It has been one of the hardest, challenge filled, stressful times, but watching my sons face light up with joy when he finally understands something is worth it all.

Practice Writing

This year we also reunited with part of my husbands family who we hadn’t spoken to in almost 5 years. While this was odd at first, and still can be, I am so grateful that it happened. Family has and always will be important to me and it has always broken my heart that my son had cousins and grandparents out there that he had never met.

The best part of this year had to be my husband relocating for work. He now works about 10 minutes from home, and this is so much better for our family. Before it would take him about 45 minutes to get home. That 45 minutes could be a make or break it to be home in time to say goodnight to Chief before he fell asleep. We can now visit him for Lunch at work if we would like to, which helps for nights where he might be working late.

The Bad Times

Wow, where to start. I feel like this year has been filled with more bad times than anything. It has been one of my most challenging years ever. I could have never expected the heartache, pure grief and anger that I experienced.

In March after months of complaining, my grandmother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. That day I took her into the emergency room, I never expected to walk out making plans for the rest of her life. I expected her to live another 10 years at least. In July things got much worse. It was time for her to move in with us and receive full-time hospice care at home. Less then 3 weeks later we were saying our last goodbyes. Her loss was the hardest thing I have been through in at least the last 15 years. I still have days where I expect her to call, or pure grief overtime I look at my Christmas tree and I know in 3 days she won’t be sitting down for Christmas Brunch. But, I am comforted in knowing that she is in a better place and no longer in pain.

Hugs for Great Grandma ❤️

In August we reunited with part of my husbands family. Unfortunately this reunion came on terrible terms. His grandfather had been battling cancer for sometime, and received news that he now had a new kind. We started to make time to go over there and see them. Chief had been going over there for a few months with his Papa to visit, and for that I am grateful. No one expected what came next. In September he went into the hospital and they gave him the terrible news that the cancer had spread at lighting speed and he had days to live. Here we are FINALLY back together as a family and now we are losing grandpa too. He passed at the end of September in the care of the same Hospice team that cared for my grandma.

Dealing with both these losses put such an emotional weight on my shoulders. Here I was not even remotely over the loss of my grandma and having to explain her loss to Chief, but here I am having to explain to him the loss of his grandpa just months later. Just way to much loss in such a short time for such a young child.

Getting Better

Here we are, the year is finally coming to an end. We are 3 days away from Christmas, and 9 days away from Chief’s 4th Birthday! I still can’t believe that he is going to be 4 years old. I look back at my Facebook memories and 4 years ago I was on bed rest trying to keep this stubborn little boy inside for just a few more weeks, now I am putting together his birthday party.

We are going to celebrate these last few days with pure joy. This year has taught me one thing. To be thankful for everything, take nothing for granted, and to live for your self and not others. I have learned that no matter you take adventures,  have fun, love unconditionally, have faith, and do what makes you happy.

So with all this said, we are living for our selfs. We are taking the steps to a fantastic family adventure. We are moving across the country from Florida to Michigan. For now we celebrate Christmas, celebrate Chief’s birthday and the new year, and then we put our house on the market and cross our fingers that it sells quickly.

How did your year end? What were the good times? The bad times? Are they finally starting to look up?

 

Merry Christmas🎄 and Happy Holidays

❤️Brittny

P.S. If you like this, don’t forget to share with your friends and family.

 

IMG_6124

Arctic Adventures Part 2

Welcome to our Arctic Adventures Part 2. We have been working with our arctic materials for a little over a month now, and chief loves them. If you have not read Part One of our adventures you can find it here.

Blubber Experiment

This was our most anticipated experiment on our Arctic Adventure. Chief and I went through his arctic animals and spoke about how they kept warm during the cold winter months. He thought that his whales would be the coldest because they live in cold water.

We went through his arctic animals and talked about how we thought they stayed warm. Of course as a 3 year old he came up with funny things like, they sleep with their mommy, they buy a sweater, they move where it is warm like Florida, etc.

Now, the best part. We did our blubber experiment and here is how it went, and what we discovered.

  • First, we filled a bowl with cold water and Chief put in his bare hands to see just how old the water is without the protection of blubber.
  • Then we put on gloves(this part is a must) to help keep our hands clean, and then I covered his hand with cooking lard. You can use Crisco, but I found that Target carried an off brand box for only $1.89 so I went with that since we would just be throwing it away.
  • Once his hand was ready, he slowly submerged his hand into the icy water. He was pretty shocked that his had was not getting cold.
  • Next, he placed his bare hand and his “blubber” hand into the cold water and told me which one was warmer. He thought this part was really cool, because to him they were the same hand. I explained to him that it was the “blubber”, like on the Polar Bear that was keeping his hand warm.
  • He played around with the water and “blubber” for a few minutes, but then our “blubber” started to fall off. I highly recommend that you wrap your hand in plastic wrap to keep the “blubber” in place.

This was a super fun and inexpensive experiment to do with him. I am always looking for hands on learning to help enhance his school days, and make things more fun.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Arctic Flash Cards

In Part One of our Arctic Adventures I expressed my love you Safari Toob Animals. Using out Arctic toob animals I created flash cards that help with recognition, and matching.  We can use these cards to help with reading as Chief gets older.

Creating the flash cards was super simple. Using a light box with a white background I took clear pictures of each animal. I uploaded each picture into Microsoft Word and formatted the picture to the size desired. I made our card 4inx6in to make them easy to handle.

Snow Slime

We made our snow slime back in Part One. While it has lasted us for about 5 uses, it did start to turn back into a liquid state. We dumped some of the liquid out, remixed it and it was good as new.

This is one of Chief’s favorite activities, most likely because it seems messy and he can be really hands on with it. His favorite thing is to pretend that his whales, and walrus are swimming in the ocean looking for food.

 

❤️ Brittny

P.S. If you liked this, don’t forget to share with your friends and family.

 

 

IMG_6124

Baking Christmas Cookies

It’s that time of year, time to bake Christmas Cookies. We invited Chief’s best friend Hadley Girl over to join us and they had a blast.

Our Recipes

We didn’t do anything to crazy, I use a Chewy Sugar Cookie Recipe I found while googling. It was super duper simple and easy to make. The longest part was waiting for the dough to get cold so we could roll it out and cut them into shapes with the cookie cutters.

I also made my own version of homemade butter cream frosting. It is so easy to make and taste so much better then store bought frosting. Here is the recipe for that.

Buttercream Frosting

1 stick of softened butter (Not melted)

1 cup of powdered sugar

1-2 teaspoons of Vanilla Extract (Depending on how much vanilla you like)

1-2 tablespoons of Milk

Food Coloring Gel (Optional)

Cream your butter till it is a smooth consistency about 1 minute, add Vanilla extract and mix. Then add in 1/2 cup powdered sugar mixing until combined, add in the other 1/2 cup of powdered sugar. This is where you will see the need for the milk. Add in 1 tablespoon first and mix, adding more milk as needed until you get the consistency you desire.  Add in food coloring gel and mix till you reach the desired color (Optional).

Refrigerate after making.

Mixing our dough

The kids had a blast with this. I remeasured the dry ingredients so they could help pour them into the mixer, and to help keep the mess to a minimum. Chief cracked the egg and was super proud. This is a task we have been working on for about a year now, and he seems to have it mastered.

After mixing our dough we rolled it up in some plastic and put it in the freezer to get cold and solid. This step is super important to prevent your dough from spreading out while baking. While it was freezing the mom’s make some of their own secret peppermint bark to hide for later(Recipe below)

Cutting our Cookies

By the time we reached this step the kids were bored and didn’t want anything to do with us anymore. Typical for 3 year olds. They found the play dough and were happily making their own creations in the classroom.

I sprinkled flour onto a wooden cutting board, and rolled out the dough to be about 1/4 inch thick. We used traditional cookie cutters, the snowman, stocking, gingerbread boy and girl, and christmas trees. Because they were only about 1/4 inch thick they baked in about 10 minutes.

 

Decorating our Cookies

Finally! The time came. They were out of the oven, flash cooled (Put in the freezer for 10 minutes) and ready to decorate. We called in the kids from the play room, got them washed up and they sat at the table ready to create their masterpiece cookies.

I placed out our homemade buttercream frosting, that I split into 3 containers and dyed red, green, and I left one white.They also got a small cup of sprinkles, because lets be real no child should have a full bottle of sprinkles, hahaha.

We had green teeth, red teeth, and sugar rushes galore. But we had two very happy children. It didn’t take long after they decorated the cookies for them to devour the frosting off, and eat their cookies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baking cookies has always been a Christmas tradition in my family and is one that I want to keep going with Chief. Being that part of our family is a few hundred miles away, we invited our best friends who have become our family to join us for this special day. I can’t be any happier with how the day went, and the time that we got to spend with Hadley Girl, baby Squish and Momma Nikki.

These days show me that you don’t have to be blood related to be a family. You can create family traditions with anyone, and make them special. Plus, Nikki and I use any excuse we can to get together and have some mom time ❤️.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

-Brittny 🎅🏽🎄❤️

IMG_6124

Is Your Car Seat Installed Properly?

A topic that is very near and dear to my heart is car seat safety. Even before I had Chief, I was always the crazy person who was obsessed with car seats. This got even worse when I got pregnant with Chief. I did extensive research to find the perfect seat for our new little squish. I did extensive research to make sure I knew how to properly install his car seat and how to place him properly in the seat.

Car seat facts

Did you know that 4 out of 5 car seats are installed incorrectly? Do you know if your’s is installed correctly? Did you read your manual before installing your seat?

Here are a few major tips you should go out and check with your car seat now.

  • Is your seat installed correctly? Is there less then 1inch of movement at the base of the seatbelt path.
    • To determine this, take your non dominate hand and firmly grasp the base of your seat at the seatbelt path and shake. If there is more then 1 inch movement then your seat is installed incorrectly. Make sure to tighten the latch straps, or the seatbelt and retest until there is 1 inch or less in movement.
    • If your seat is forward facing you MUST make sure that your tether strap is installed and used.
  • Is your child harnessed correctly?
    • If your child is rear facing then their straps MUST be AT or BELOW their shoulders.
    • If your child is forward facing then their straps MUST be AT or ABOVE their shoulders.
    • Chest clips MUST be at arm pit level.
    • Harness straps MUST pass the pinch test. Here is a link to the pinch test method. I personally recommend you do this every time you buckle in your child.
Strap Placement
Chest Clip Placement
Chest Clip Placement
Pinch Test
Pinch Test
  • Did you know that your car seat expires? Every car seat has an expiration date, it can be found stamped into the plastic of your seat, as well as on the manufacture sticker.
    • Car seats expire anywhere between 4 years-12 years. Each manufacture will vary.
    • Infant bucket seats tend to have a shorter life spans then convertible, or combination seats.
    • Car seats expire due to the break down of materials over time. Here is a great article from Car Seats for the Littles.
  • Did you now that you should replace your car seat after a crash?  Even minor crashes require car seats to be replaced. Here is a link regarding replacements from each manufacture.

Incorrect Car Seat Use

Are you using your seat incorrectly? Here are the most common mistakes made while using a car seat.

  • The seat is outgrown. Each seat has its own specifications as to when the seat is outgrown. Make sure to read your manual to make sure you are still able to use your current seat.
  • Not using the tether strap while forward facing.
  • Using a booster seat to early or not at all.
  • Improper clothing. Did you know that wearing bulky clothing in a car seat can affect the way the seat performs in a crash? (See Image Below)
  • Forward facing to early. It is highly recommended that you not forward face until your child is 2 years or has outgrown the rear facing limits of their seat.
  • Using a seat that has been recalled, expired, or previously been in a crash.

Using the Correct Seat

Are you using the correct seat for your child? Most parents are stumped when it comes to  when to change car seats. Your best way of know this is to read your manual and go by the guidelines provided. Don’t switch out seats until your child has fully outgrown the previous one.

For example, when using a convertible seat wait until the child outgrows the rear facing guidelines before turning forward facing. Same goes for forward facing to booster. Wait until the child has reached the maximum height and weight before transferring to a booster.

To find more information about what seat you should choose for your child check out Car Seats for the Littles. They are a fantastic organization regarding car seat safety.

Why this is important?

I can’t stress the importance of car seat safety enough. Some may say that I am a little crazy about it, and they would be correct 100%. But I have my rights to be. My son was in not one, but two very serious car crashes that could have been fatal. Every single nagging moment I have spent telling people about car seat safety, correcting their install, showing them how to properly install or helping with harness placement makes it all worth it.

The night of mine and Chief’s crash last December, I remember being scared out of my mind. The one peace of mind that I had was knowing that I had checked his strap placement and I knew his seat was installed correctly. The firemen were outstanding and were so kind even though I was yelling at them like they didn’t know how to do their job. They all commented on how Chief would have been much worse off had he not been in a seat, been in a incorrect seat, or had a bad install. They had seen it before.

When we reached the emergency room the doctors and nurses all commented on how they expected him to be worse off, but wasn’t because they heard he was installed correctly and could see he was buckled in properly. He had not yet been removed from his car seat. Now, I don’t say this like it prevented him from being injured at all. Because that isn’t the case. Chief still sustained a skull fracture from the force of the impact, but was otherwise ok. He still suffers from some emotional issues and still talks about the crash as if it were yesterday, but I am forever grateful I was able to leave that hospital with my baby.

So if you only do one thing after you read this article, please make sure that you check your car seat install and the harness placement on your little ones.

 

❤️Brittny

IMG_6124

Holiday Gift Giving Guide

Are you looking for the perfect holiday gift for the loved ones in your life? Look no further. We are putting together some of our favorite gifts for Mom, Dad, Grandparents, and kids.

Our mind set to gifts might be a little different then most, as we believe that gifts should be minimal, but still impact the person they are given too. We are going to keep our gifts under $25.

Don’t forget to sign up for Ebates before you begin your online shopping. Receive cash back on almost all your purchases from 1%-10%(Offers change daily). Sign up using this link and you will get $10 cash back on your purchase of $25 or more. I will also receive a bonus for you using my referral link.

Gift for Mom

These always seem to be the hardest gifts to pick. What do you give the person who does so much for you? One thing we recommend is staying away from gifts that mom would use for cleaning, cookings, doing laundry etc. You want mom to have a gift that she can enjoy and love for many years to come.

Throw Pillow for Mom
Throw Pillow for Mom

Our favorite gifts of course are gift certificates for a new hair do, or a mani/pedi. But if your looking for something more personal, here are a few things we love.

  1. The gift of sleep- Get mom the Luxury Lush Pud bath bomb by Lush Cosmetics and send her up for a relaxing bubble bath and an early bed time. Have dad take care of the kiddo, or send them for a sleep over. Mom will love catching up on some sleep.
  2. All Roads Lead back to Mom- This beautiful throw pillow could be a combined gift with you and your siblings. Perfect for those who live far away from mom, but want to show they are always close at heart.
  3. You’re a Cool Mom- These adorable candles! Personalize your own scent and message to mom. We all know they are always trying to cover the sent the kids leave behind.
  4. Personal- Or just create something personal for mom, some art work, paint a coffee mug, something special she would like. I always give out personalized gifts made by Chief for the holidays.

Gift for Dad

This is an area I never had any problems with. My dad is a lover of all things Home Depot. I am pretty sure that this is exactly where my love for Home Depot comes from. We spent many weekends picking up things for a project he was working on. So every year he gets a Home Depot gift card from us.

Personalized Coffee Mug
Personalized Coffee Mug

Some great gift ideas for dad are:

  1. The Traditional Coffee Mug- This dad coffee mug is a staple of the past. I remember giving them to my dad growing up and he still uses them to this day.
  2. Reusable Cup- If dad is more into a reusable coffee cup then this Tervis Tumbler is right up his alley. With the lifetime warranty, its perfect for those with little kids who knock things over.
  3. The trusty gift card- I go this route every Christmas for my dad because I never know what he wants, but know he needs something from Home Depot.
  4. Something to Carry Around- This awesome Guitar pickKey Chain is perfect for Dad, and will always remind him how much you are grateful for him.

Gift for Kids

Here is where I tend to differ from most parents. I love to give gifts that last and are educational. I tend to give Melissa and Doug items, arts and crafts, or outdoor toys. I base each gift on the child, age and their current likes and dislikes.

In my opinion that when you buy gifts that are current fads or are really popular, you are spending a lot of money as these are typically not very cheap. When buying items that are educational or made to last, the children will get much more use out of them. A bigger plus is getting them toys for outdoor play, as these are not given very often and it helps promote getting outside.

Melissa and Doug Shape, Model & Mold Play Clay
Melissa and Doug Shape, Model & Mold Play Clay

Here are some of my favorite items to give as gifts for kids.

  1. Locks and Latches board by Melissa and Doug. Perfect for toddlers.
  2. Puzzles by Melissa and Doug. Tuns to choose from, from Chunky pieces for the littles to large floor puzzles for older children.
  3. Arts and Crafts by Melissa and Doug. We love the shape, model & mold play clay kit.
  4. Melissa and Doug have a great assortment of games. They are small enough to fold up and take with you to the park, camping, or just out back in your own yard.
  5. If you have a reader to buy for then I highly recommend Usborne books. We LOVE the shine a light series. So much fun.

Not about the gifts

In the end, Christmas isn’t about the gifts. It is about spending time with your family, coming together to celebrate. Don’t stress about finding the perfect most expensive gift for your children, niece, nephew, mom, dad, etc. I have found that the most meaningful gifts come from the heart.

If you can not find the “perfect” gift to give then that’s fine. No one will look back on Christmas day and say man my mom gave crummy gifts, or wow my daughter didn’t give me what I wanted. Well maybe younger kids may think this, but its our job as parents to teach them to be grateful for anything and everything they may receive.

What are you favorite gifts to gift? Let us know in the comments.

I wish you all a Very Merry Christmas! Happy Shopping!

❤️Brittny

P.S. If you liked this article, make sure to share it with your friends and family. ❤️