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First Blog Post! Welcome To My Little Slice Of Paradise <3

It’s 3:25am. I’m awake. Not because my Baby is in need of anything. We’ve actually been blessed with a baby that’s been sleeping a good 6-8 hours since around two months. I’m awake because. Just because.

I realized that I hadn’t written my “first blog post” and it was bothering me that I couldn’t figure out how to just delete it so I’m being OCD and filling it.

I can hear my husband snore from the living room through closed doors…

I wrote a parody of my current situation:

“Hello, futon, my old friend. I’ve come to sleep on you again. Because my husband’s loud, disturbing breathing is impeding my sleeping. And the noise that has reverberated in my brain, still remains…I seek the sound of silence… 😴🛋🛌“

Check out the blog post after this one for the true first blog post. Thanks for staying up with me 😘😘

More scrunchymomz adventures, personal stories, tips and tricks, and some fun DIY/upcycles to come! Talk soon!

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Stock photo that came with the blog. I would change it but I need sleep plz pray for me 😪

How I’ve Stopped Marriage Burnout Before It Started, With 2 Babies And A Business

When you first realize you love someone romantically, it’s like a spark has been lit in your heart. The more time you spend with that someone, the more this spark is fueled, and before long your whole heart is set ablaze with love.

I tried coming up with a more original reference than fire, but honestly, it’s just so fitting.

Just as this love-fire is fueled by every little thing your someone does at first, so too is it dampened by the strains of responsibility and stress.

I’ve been finding myself missing my old fire more and more, lately.

My husband and I first officially got together when we were 19, just a month shy of his 20th birthday. That will make an entire decade next year from when my life was first changed forever.

Just like any fresh young couple, we couldn’t get enough of each other back then. We both lived with our parents at the time, so we jumped at each and every opportunity to be together. We grossed out all of our friends with our syrupy sweet PDA.

Those were the five alarm blaze days.

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First kiss as Mr & Mrs What are we doing with our arms, tho?

Then just a little over 4 years after we first got together, after a year-long engagement, we got married. We spent our newlywed years working and putting away money, throwing parties with our friends at our apartment, and drinking Bud Light Platnium and playing Gamecube on Saturdays.

Of course there were challenges to being around one another all the time. We quickly learned which quirks and eccentricies we didn’t care for in each other, and with the pressure of mortgage and career changes on us, we began to have more disagreements. But with relatively few pressures aside from that, we were still very much on fire.

And then, not even two years after we said “I Do,” we said hello to our first son, and not even two years after that, we welcomed his baby brother. While it was terrifying getting used to being responsible for a tiny human being, these two have added a beautiful, loving dynamic to our relationship that we wouldn’t change for the world.

In the midst of all of this, my husband has been a business owner, and recently has taken on the role full time.

And although we are humbled by the blessings that are our sons and his business, I won’t lie, it’s been rough on our relationship.

It scares me to say that for a while there, I’d felt my fire start to turn to embers.

What Happened?

Handling two under two has been relatively easy for me, with the exception of some bad days here and there. But, as you can imagine, it takes up all of my time. I’ve touched on how I’ve struggled to maintain my own identity outside of motherhood in a previous post, but I feel it’s just as important to hang on to who you and your significant other were before children. While Mom and Dad are incredibly significant roles, Husband and Wife are just as much so.

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Not a very flattering shot of me, but a great one that shows how much of a loveable goofball my man is.

I read somewhere that tragically 2/3 of couples report significant unhappiness in their relationships within 18 months to three years of the birth of their first children. And even more tragic, many of these relationships ultimately end in divorce.

And as much as I hate to say it, I get it.

Between doing all you can to keep your child(ren) alive and well, keeping up whatever household tasks you can, making sure bills get paid and rent/mortgage is good for the month, performing at your job, and trying desperately to keep up with friends and family and their needs, marriage/relationships often fall in the cracks.

If you think of these things in terms of the analogy we used earlier, it’s almost like each of these things are like heavy wet leaves, dampening the flame that was burning so strong before. And if you’re not careful, the flame can go out altogether.

Like I mentioned before, I had been seeing these things in my own relationship with my husband. Not too long ago, we were going through a rough patch where we got into arguments almost daily, and while I can’t speak for him entirely, I think we both got a little bit resentful of each other.

I know the pressure has been real for my husband with his business. And though he works so hard each and every day, he still takes time to be an amazing Dad.

But I won’t lie, I had been feeling just a little bit neglected.

I know there’s a ton of articles and blogs on how to keep a healthy marriage, and I may duplicate some of these points, but here are some “Best Practices” I had been trying to get over this turbulence and reignite my flame.

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Almost 5 years into our marriage and almost 10 years together and he’s still every bit a loveable goofball as ever. Never change!

Talk It Out

It’s been said time and time again, but it’s worth mentioning once more–communication is key.

And not just when you have a disagreement. I mean conversation, like you used to have when you were dating. I’m talking those deep conversations you used to have in your significant other’s car until 6AM that made you fall ass over tea kettle in love.

We would talk about the house, the kids, the business plenty. All important things. But I’ve come to realize that we were starving for those old talks.

I’m trying to make it a point to talk with my husband about anything other than our daily work, even if I have to find a prompt online. Just talking has done wonders for us so far.

Put A Pin In It

I’m not proud of it, but I had gotten into the habit of saying some pretty mean things to my husband when we would argue. I would just get so aggravated and felt like I wasn’t being heard. And with Mom Brain in full force, I would have a hard time articulating what I wanted to say. So I would lash out.

I recognized this after a while and knew it wasn’t healthy for either of us. So now when we have a disagreement, I’ll let him know when I need a minute to collect my thoughts, and to walk away before I say something mean.

But if I’m mad enough, I’ve managed to change my approach from, “You’re such a (mean word here),” to “Why are you acting like a (mean word here)?”

This change in how I clap back prompts him to respond with, “I’m not,” and he’ll explain where he’s coming from. By doing this, I vent out some of my frustration, and I get to understand how he’s feeling and we are better able to smooth things over.

Get Close

We used to be so affectionate when we were first dating, and physical affection is super important to my husband. I had been feeling a little bit detatched, so I was not reciprocating his attempts at affection, nor going out of my way to give any. Naturally, this put a rift in between us.

I don’t know about you, but being in the trenches with potty training, while caring for an infant and maintaining the organized chaos that is my home, along with my writing “work,” and the pressures of keeping up with a social life burns me out. At the end of the day, the last thing I want is the hand on my knee. You know the one…

I’ve been trying little things to remind my husband, and myself, that I’m still very much attracted to him and want to be close to him. Even if I’m not feeling particularly affectionate, I’ll try to hold his hand for a minute, or run my fingers through his hair. Or better yet, hug him.

Hugging releases oxytocin, a feel-good hormone. It’s good for you, and the person you’re hugging. I highly suggest asking your SO at random if you can give them a hug. It’s kind of like smiling even though you don’t want to.

Studies have shown that if you smile even though you’re not particularly happy, eventually it will actually make you feel happy. I feel like it’s the same thing with hugs and relationships. Even if you don’t feel particularly affectionate or loving, hugging for a little bit might make you actually feel loving. It’s been working for me.

Log Off

Hi, my name is Melissa, and I’m a Social-MediAholic.

I have a social media addiction. My husband has a mobile-gaming addiction. When we’re not caring for children or building estimate for electrical work, you can find us with our noses in our smartphones.

Or at least, you used to.

I’ve recently started a social media fast, and it’s made a difference in the way I feel. It’s been bumming me out subconsciously, and I’ve been carrying it into other aspects of my life. Now that I’m not on it so much, I’m much more aware of what’s going on around me, and it’s made me more open with my husband.

I know social media can be an escape for some, and it’s a great tool in keeping up with relatives and old friends. I suggest limiting its use, though, and if you must be on it, try to involve your partner in what you’re looking at. If you don’t already, make it a conversation.

“Hey, did you see so-and-so is doing this? Maybe we should try that sometime!” Or, “Tell me you’ve seen this meme!”

Never. Stop. Dating.

I know this is easier said than done, especially the more kids you have, but I cannot stress enough the absolute importance of taking time to “date” your significant other.

Even with all that we have going on, my husband and I have agreed to try to carve out a certain time on a certain day each week just for us.

Childcare can be hard to come by, and with our budget a night on the town won’t be in the cards for a while. Regardless, we make our time and make the most of it, usually from the comfort of our own home.

Whether hanging out on our porch for an hour before the sun goes down, or making fun of a bad movie together after the kids are asleep, we use this time to be engaged with each other, with no distractions. It’s made a difference.

Say Thank You

I realize I struck absolute gold when I found my husband. As much as he irritates me sometimes, I really do see that I’ve been blessed with this man. He’s a hard worker, an amazing father, compassionate, funny, and gorgeous.

And I know once in a while he needs to be reminded of that.

I’ve tried to make it a point to thank him each day for something different, whether it’s for changing x amount of diapers that day, washing the dishes, or even for just being patient with me on a bad day. I realize how much he’s expressed his gratitude for me, and I used to thank him a lot more when we were dating and in the early days of our marriage. Now that I’ve brought it back, I see the changes it’s made in both our moods.

I recommend thanking your SO every day, even if it’s just for being them.

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Holy throwback! Us at 19 and 20
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And us at 28

Love is a beautiful, blessed thing. It should never be taken for granted.

Sometimes, yes, it takes a little work. But everything that’s worth anything does.

What have you Mamas done to keep things fresh in your marriage/relationship? Any other words of wisdom? Let us know!

Thanks for reading, my gals! 😘😘

👀If you’re new here, and this content or any of my upcoming content interests you, make sure you add your email and follow so you don’t miss any updates! 😁😁 And if you’re already following, thank you and bless your heart and soul! 🙏🏼🥰🤗

📋 Upcoming Content: Two Vs. One: How To Survive 2 Under 2 and Battling Body Dysmorphia As A Mom

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My Toddler’s “Home-School” ‘Lesson Plans’

I like using emojis in my posts, but I feel like they have a tendency to come out looking a little “Lucky Charms Essay.” Also it’s a lot of work to copy and paste them from the website I get them from when working from a desktop, so I haven’t really been doing it as much.

Anyway.

Hello, my Gals!

Since I am blessed with the opportunity to be a SAHM and to be able to do some work from home, I have been trying to make the most of it by giving my son some kind of enriching experience every day, and make every experience an opportunity for learning.

So having said all that, I thought I’d have this update’s topic be our “Home-School” plan. Keep in mind, every child is different and this is what worked for us. But if you’re looking to home school your little one(s), I hope that you find this post helpful in one way or another!

Never Too Early

I concentrated more so on fine motor skills with Vinny during his baby months. He’s always been just ahead of the curve when it comes to fine motor skills, and he was more or less walking by the time he was 10 months old (I might do a separate post on how I worked on fine motor skills using Mikey, as he’s going through all of that now).

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I did enroll him in an ASL class for Babies when he was about 9 months old, as well as a few music classes and play groups here and there

However, I never realized how early I could really start him on learning all of the basics like colors, shapes, etc! I feel like a lot of parents don’t realize how early you can introduce their babies to these concepts, and how fun and (relatively) easy it is to do so!

So here’s a little more on how I got Vinny to master his shapes, colors, numbers 1-10, and the entire Alphabet by 20 months old. Which may be impressive to some of you, and maybe to others, as Hillary Duff would say, “So Yesterday.”

Here’s some videos of Vinny identifying some letters and shapes back in January, when he was 17 months old (they came out huge and sideways and I just don’t have the time to fix them so I’m sorry!)

But it’s like I read somewhere, you can’t compare the Sun to the Moon to the stars–because they all shine on their own time.

Intro To Learning

I feel like reading to our babies is so, so, crucial to not just their academic development, but their social and emotional development, as well. I’ve read that studies suggest reading to your child helps to strengthen empathy, as they’re hearing about and relating to the characters in books, and hearing the emotions come alive through your voice.

I started reading kids books out loud that we got at our baby shower while I was still pregnant with Vinny. And when he was a young infant, about 3-4 months, and he wasn’t trying to crawl/walk/run everywhere, I would read him mid to late elementary school reading level chapter-books. I knew he wouldn’t retain anything I read from them, but I like to think that he was watching my mouth movements and enjoying absorbing words.

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Vinny’s Currently “Reading” List. The top four that we read at least 5 times each each day. I highly recommend all of them! Check out your local Library or Mom and Pop bookstore!

Of course I would read him the cardboard baby books as well! The pictures and easy-to-absorb stories are essential for babies, I feel.

We started doing some type of definitive lesson “Plan” when Vinny about 15/16 months, with activities games geared toward different subjects. But before that, once he was walking around and a little more interactive, we did a lot of learning through reading and play.

When we played when he was younger, I always pointed out what colors and shapes certain things were, to kind of build a foundation of these concepts. And I still do now. I know this kind of goes without saying, but I think it really does make a difference in how they pick it up later!

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A little independent “reading” time with some classical music.

Now, Vinny is obsessed with books! He could sit there and listen to someone read to him for hours. And each time we read a book, I try to point out different colors, shapes, animals, etc. I always look for something in the pictures to teach him about.

One of his favorite books is “Bubbles Bubbles,” an interactive Sesame Street Book we got for his first birthday. This is how he learned half of the body parts he’s able to identify, because we’ve made it a game each time we read the book.

Now when I read any of his other books (often 3-5 times each day), whenever they mention a body part, i.e. “Little Nutbrown Hare stretched his arms as wide as they would go,” I reach for Vinny’s arm and emphasize that that is his arm as I read the book. Once we do this enough times, I’ll quiz him after I read a sentence with a body part and ask him, “Where are your knees?”

Our “School Of Learning”

I have been looking into different learning/teaching techniques, such as Unschooling, Montessori, and Waldorf to see what would best fit not only Vinny’s unique style of learning, but my own capabilities and strengths as a home-teacher.

In as small of a nutshell as I can come up with, Unschooling focuses much more on real world and practical life skills than academic skills (think balancing a checkbook vs. Mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell), and both Montessori and Waldorf focus on child-led learning, with the teacher being more of a coach and celebrating the child’s independence as he or she explores skills and education.

Click here if you want to see an awesome real-life Montessori playroom my SIL at Becoming Rivera has set up for my brilliant little niece!

The style I’ve personally gravitated the most towards is Waldorf, which involves a lot of teaching through storytelling (perfect since Vinny loves reading and being told stories so much), fantasy, art and music. It’s also very nature-focused, with a lot of their teaching material and journals being colored with natural watercolors and doodles, instead of the sterile, primary-colored, artificial aesthetic of typical schools.

However, the parts of Waldorf I don’t agree with are that full-fledged Waldorf teachers don’t believe in having a child learn to read before age 7, and they are completely anti-technology and screen-time.

Personally, I would love it if Vinny was interested in learning to read before this age, and I do rely on videos (sometimes more than I should) in teaching Vinny certain content, especially when I need to get work done and don’t have a sitter.

Utilizing Media

When I was pregnant, as much as I hate to admit, Vinny would sometimes get up to 2.5 hours of screen-time a day! *cringe* Now I try to limit it to 1 hour a day, split up throughout the day if possible. On days I have to work, he sometimes gets the whole hour at once. Maybe a little bit more…but, I always try to keep the sources strictly educational, forgoing the mind-numbing Saturday-Morning type cartoons.

Our favorites are Jack Hartman, Bounce Patrol, Scratch Garden, Simple Little Songs, Go Noodle! Rachel and the Treeschoolers, Story Bots, and of course, the classic, tried-and-true, good old Sesame Street!

Some examples of “Brain Break” media that I like that are still enriching and educational but I don’t consider to be teaching tools necessarily are Puffin Rock, If You Give A Mouse A Cookie, and Hilda.

PSA: Please be sure to properly vet all of the content your children may see! Apps like Netflix and PBS are easier to trust, but YouTube can be extremely sketchy. If you use a lot of YouTube like me, please make sure the videos you show are from verified channels (not ones that have random numbers in them, etc). Try to make playlists for your children with videos that you’ve already approved, and turn auto-play off so that you don’t run the risk of any bad videos getting through!

Daily Routine

Before Mikey came along, and before I had read about Waldorf’s “Block” system of teaching (more on that later), I had Vinny on a sort of daily/weekly home-school schedule. I personally think that this was helpful in accelerating his understanding of his shapes, colors, numbers, and letters at such a young age.

Here was (and still is, just modified very slightly for block learning) Vinny’s daily schedule. We try to keep up as much with this as possible, while still accommodating to Mikey’s feeding, tummy-time, diaper changes, etc. Most days we are successful! A lot of the time I can have Mikey do tummy time or play in his gym while Vinny and I are doing “lessons.”

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Mikey at 2 weeks learning to play on his gym.

7AM Wakeup, refresh (diaper and outfit change)
7:30 Breakfast (peanut butter toast and scrambled eggs)
8:00 Free-play and video playlist with subject of the day (Mom works during this time)
9:15 Story time, read books dealing with subject of the day, or use picture focus on subject of the day (what color is this? What shape is this? How many X are there in this picture?)
10:00 Playtime again, listening to music (Mom tries to get some chores done)
11:00 “Snacktivity” Time. Vinny gets a snack of bananas, fruit bars, or crackers.
11:15 Activity dealing with subject of the day
12:30 Naptime
2:30/3 Lunchtime (usually some kind of nitrate/nitrite free lunch meat, cherry tomatoes, cheese stick)
3:30 More free-range playtime and story time, reviewing subjects of the day
5:00 Dinnertime (Some kind of protein and veggies, like shredded chicken and broccoli)
6:00 Bedtime routine begins (bath, teeth brushing, etc)
7:00 Time for bed!

Monday: Colors
Tuesday: Numbers/Counting
Wednesday: Shapes
Thursday: Alphabet/Letters
Friday: “Science” (One “Science experiment” found on Pinterest)
Saturday: Music/Art (Water pad drawing, play-dough, play instruments, etc)
Sunday: Bible Study (Readings from Bible for Babies and child-friendly bible videos)

To save this post from being too long, I am going to refer you all to Pintrest for themed activities for your kids, since every child learns different anyway! For the majority of our activities, I literally searched, “Teaching Shapes/Letters/Etc Toddlers” into Pinterest and came up with tons of fun things to do! So just search what you want to teach for your age level and have fun!

Main Lesson Blocks

While I’m psyched that Vinny has picked up all of these concepts relatively quickly, at the same time I worry that I’ve overwhelmed him, and I don’t want him to burn out. To keep his love of learning strong, while at the same time not exhausting him, I’ve decided to gear more toward using Waldorf’s Main Lesson Blocks.

Main Lesson Blocks are based around topics that suit the child’s developmental stage and interests. For example, since Vinny knows all of his letters, and is completely obsessed with hearing the ABC’s being sung, I’m gearing our current Block towards phonemic awareness to help introduce how letters are used in words and to help him build his own vocabulary and say words properly.

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My version of a Lesson Block Plan. As Vinny gets older, he’ll be filling out lesson books like these, but for now, I’ll try to get the hang of the Waldorf-style watercolor learning aesthetic.

Blocks are taught on rotation, and each “Block” lasts around three to six weeks. During this time, one subject is the primary focus, as mentioned before. The main lesson blocks are taught in the morning, with the rest of the day open for free play and other activities.

Here’s a helpful article that I found helpful in understanding Block style teaching.

I’ve also come around to weekly fine motor and life skills activities, something I see a lot of with Montessori. Truthfully, I probably should have started with fms activities sooner, but better late than never! And it’s still plenty early to do life skills activities.

Most recently, I’ve taken a Xylitol container and cut a slit in it for him to put all of my old credit cards into. He LOVES this, and took to it very quickly!

We also work on some day-to-day skills and get him involved in chores. Vinny loves wiping up messes he’s made at the table and sweeping, and his favorite chore is to help me empty the dishwasher. It’s so cute!

Another huge and sideways video of him when we first started with the dishwasher chore when he was 19 months:

Big Things Ahead

The daunting life skills challenge we have ahead of us is potty training! Dun Dun Dun!
Vinny will be 2 in August. We’ve already gotten him off of the bottle and the pacifer, so this is the next step!

My goal is to have him potty trained by two, or a little bit after two. So for a few months now we’ve been trying to get the hang of his bathroom cues, have him sit on his potty clothed and praise him for doing so, read to him potty training books and show him potty training cartoons from vetted YouTube sources. We’ve also had training underwear we’re excited to try! I’ll have a separate post on potty training when/if I’m successful. Pray for us!

But potty training is something basic around this age (more or less–of course every child is different! This age just happens to be the average, from what I’ve seen). My other practical life skill I’d like us to focus on this “block” is learning to recognize emotions and develop empathy.


So that’s all for now! I know it was kind of a lot. I’ll keep on experimenting and see what sticks! I’ll most likely have an update post later on on how Block learning has been working so stay tuned!

Are there any seasoned home-schooling Moms out there with more words of wisdom? Let us know in the comments!

Thanks for reading, my gals! 😘😘

👀If you’re new here, and this content or any of my upcoming content interests you, make sure you add your email and follow so you don’t miss any updates! 😁😁 And if you’re already following, thank you and bless your heart and soul! 🙏🏼🥰🤗

📋 Upcoming Content: How We Avoid Marital Burnout With Multiple Kids (Babies), and Two Vs. One: How To Survive 2 Under 2

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