Survival Kit for the NICU Mama

Survival Kit for a mama who has a baby in the NICU - this is such an easy, practical, meaningful way to bless someone going through such a difficult time. And every item can be purchased at Target!

Many of you know that our second born, Happy Baby, had a pretty rough beginning to his life.

We ended up being in the NICU for almost 100 days!  It was a roller coaster of a season, to say the least.

Ever since then, my heart has become easily burdened for any other mom I know who has been given a similar path to walk.

A friend of mine from high school, Ally, emailed me several months ago asking for prayer for her unborn baby, Jaxson.  Halfway through her pregnancy they discovered that he had Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia, which, for him, meant that most of the organs on the left side of his body were formed in his chest cavity.  They were told he would face immediate surgeries upon birth, as well as future surgeries, possible breathing issues, and, obviously, a long NICU stay.

Fast forward and Jaxson is here!  But there are still so many challenges and they have already been in the NICU for 2 months.

Wanting to help, I instantly thought of the hundreds of people who made an effort to bless our little family during our NICU stay.  The cards, calls, texts, goodies, food (you can read all about it HERE) – were all a reminder of God’s love and presence.  Every single kind act, word, or prayer was felt and carried us through the most difficult days.

I knew I needed to send something to Ally to lift her up and comfort her with the sweet knowledge that she isn’t alone.

So I headed to Target and put together a small Survival Kit for her to use while we pray them to Jaxson’s homecoming!

Here is what I put in the NICU Mama’s Survival KitSurvival Kit for the NICU Mama - love this!

1.  Lip Gloss – Just because lip gloss is necessary for all women, at any time.

2.  Hand Lotion – NICU parents have to ‘scrub in’ every time they step foot in the NICU facility.  This requires at least 3 minutes of scrubbing, using an extremely harsh soap and brush.  If you visit your baby several times a day, for several months, this equals seriously DRY HANDS.

3.  Tissues – For the extra hard days.

4.  Hand Sanitizer – Keeping the germs at bay.  NO NICU mama can afford to be sick herself and miss out on visits and snuggles with her little buddy.

5.  Target Gift Card – Besides Jesus, Target just knows how to feed my soul – lol.  Go get your therapy on, Ally – you deserve it!

6-7.  Post-Its and Pen – NICU mamas (and all mamas, really) need to stay in God’s Word AT ALL TIMES.  There are a lot of voices in the NICU – doctors, nurses, other parents, the enemy – that sometimes, if we’re not careful, we can let those voices drown out the One voice we really need to hear.  These Post-Its are for Ally to jot down her favorite Scriptures and post all over Jaxson’s room to cover him and their situation with TRUTH.

8.  Essie Nail Polish – Best thing about this nail polish is its name.  Are you ready?  ETERNAL OPTIMIST.  Because this is something all NICU mamas need to be.

9.  Healthy Snacks – NICU mamas are exhausted and often their own needs get shoved to the very bottom of the pile.  Having something healthy and satisfying on hand will give Ally the energy she needs to keep loving and serving her little man.

Throw everything in a small, travel-ready bag, and NICU mamas have everything they need to tackle another day of fighting for LIFE.

I can’t think of a greater mission, Amen?!

Would y’all please join me in praying for baby Jaxson and his sweet parents?

And if you happen to know any NICU mamas in the trenches right now, I encourage you to pray about finding a way to support them on their journey.

Happy NICU Mama Survival Kit-ing! :-)

Recipe – Super Simple Banana Bread

super simple banana bread recipe at happyhomefairy.com

I have been searching and searching for an easy banana bread recipe that I can throw together when I have a pile of overripe bananas sitting on the kitchen counter.

Banana bread recipes usually call for buttermilk (which I don’t typically have on hand) and I am not always interested in lifting the mixer out of the bottom cabinet, so when I found this sans-buttermilk/sans-mixer recipe from Simply Recipes, I was THRILLED.

Then the hubs ate some and he was thrilled and I was thrilled that he was thrilled and so this banana bread caused a whole lot of thrilling.

Which makes it a recipe I will be using again and again!

Super Simple Banana Bread

Ingredients –

  • 2-3 very ripe bananas, peeled
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups flour

Directions –

  1. In a mixing bowl, mash the bananas with a fork until smooth (I let Happy Buddy do this and he had a blast!).
  2. Add the melted butter to the bananas and stir.
  3. Add the baking soda and salt; stir.
  4. Add the sugar, beaten egg, and vanilla; stir.
  5. Mix in the flour.
  6. Pour batter into a buttered 4×8-inch loaf pan.
  7. Bake for 1 hour or 1 hour and 10 minutes at 350 degrees (check the bread after 50 minutes).
  8. Cool on a rack.

the best banana bread at happyhomefairy.comSo easy!  Enjoy!

Happy Banana Bread-ing! :-)

Super Easy Outdoor Chalk Game

This super easy chalk game will get your kiddos outside and counting! So much fun!

On Saturday afternoon our neighbors texted to invite us to a small summer party they were throwing.

So we ditched nap and quiet time and joined the fun!

Someone set out a giant bucket of chalk and, I don’t know about you, but I CANNOT RESIST A GIANT BUCKET OF CHALK.

I remembered seeing this little game on Pinterest many moons ago and thought it would be a good one to try.

The kids had a blast and it was so simple to put together.

chalk gameSimply draw 6 numbered boxes.

Then instruct the kids to go find items to fill each box – enough items to correspond with the number in the box.

For example…

chalk game 11 piece of chalk.

chalk game 22 flip flops.

chalk game 33 pretzels.

chalk game 44 Badminton rackets (and by the way, did you know it was BadMINTon?  I always thought it was BadMITTON. #thanksgoogle).

chalk game 55 hula hoops.

chalk game 66 bubble bottles.

IMG_2467Isn’t this fun?  And the kids had the added challenge of it being an extremely windy day so they had to find items that wouldn’t blow away.

I thought they did great and the final result captured the essence of summer quite nicely!

And here’s one other thing that captured the essence of summer nicely, as well.

summerHappy Chalk Game-ing! :-)

A Simple Way to Teach Kids How to Pray

teaching kids about prayer - guest post at happyhomefairy.com by Jeannie Cunnion, author of Parenting the Wholehearted Child - love this encouragementToday I am BEYOND thrilled to have Jeannie Cunnion guest posting at Happy Home Fairy!  Jeannie got in touch with me after reading my post called The Grace Response.  We made an instant connection and she offered to send me a copy of her book, Parenting the Wholehearted Child.  As soon as it arrived, I dove right in and LET ME TELL YOU – this book is seriously my new favorite.  Jeannie offers so many practical ideas to point our kids (and our mama’s heart) to Christ – I think I must have highlighted every single page.  One part that stood out to me in particular, however, was Jeannie’s encouragement on teaching kids how to pray.  I love her simple model for prayer that children AND adults can use to draw closer to Jesus.  Take it away, Jeannie!

*     *     *     *

A prayer I pray often is simple.

“Lord, help.”

Motherhood will do that to you. Because God doesn’t just work through us to shape our kids. He also works through them to shape us!

And the deeper into mothering I get with three boys, the more praying I do.

I pray, not because it always changes the situation, but because it changes me.

I need God. I need the power of God, working in me and through me so that I can be a reflection of His love to my kids. And I need the grace of God, working in me and through me when I fail to be a reflection of His love to my kids (which, let’s be real, is often)!

Teaching our children how to pray is one of the greatest gifts we can give them.

And while praying, “Lord, help!” is a wonderful prayer to teach our kids, it’s only the beginning.

So what else can we teach and model for our kids when it comes to prayer?

For starters, our kids will be thankful to know that prayer is something we can do anytime, about anything.

Anytime:

Prayer isn’t just for blessing the food or asking God to keep us safe while we sleep.

We can encourage our kids to pray before they start their day to ask God for his blessing and guidance.

As they go about their day, they can pray when they sin or make a bad choice and they want to ask for forgiveness, when they feel happy or see something beautiful and they want to give thanks, when they need help controlling themselves and they need God’s strength, or when they feel sad or scared and they need God’s comfort.

And they can pray as they lay their head on their pillow at night, giving all of their fear and worry over to Him.

Anything:

This is huge! Our kids must know that there is no request too big, no feeling too bad, no shame too great, and no feeling too unworthy to express in prayer.

We can come before God with honesty, with our struggles, and even with our doubts, and He will receive us with open arms.

Prayer is not telling God what we think He wants to hear, nor is it telling Him anything He doesn’t already know.

Prayer is getting real with God.

We never have to fear his rejection!

Friend, if praying is new to you, or maybe you are just struggling to lead your kids in prayer, I want to share with you one of my favorite ways to pray with our boys.

We use four simple words to guide us in prayer in the evening:

“Wow, Sorry, Thanks, and Please.”

(Throughout the day you’ll find us praying any portion of this prayer, particularly the “sorry” one, as we are a family who messes up a lot but also seeks forgiveness a lot. If we know anything, it’s that the grace of God never runs dry.)

It looks a little something like this:

Wow – We acknowledge how amazing God is. It might sound something like “God you are so loving. God you are so powerful. God you are so generous.” Or as my youngest son recently said, “God you are my hero!”

Sorry – We confess our sins and receive God’s endless forgiveness.

Thanks – We thank God for everything He has given us for daily life and everything He did for us in giving us His one and only Son Jesus.

Please – We present our needs and worries and fears and hopes for ourselves and others before Him.

It’s a wonderful way to end the day with our children. Not only does it help each of us grow in our relationship with God, but it also gives me a window into their souls. Listening to the thoughts of their hearts is my favorite part of the day.

***This post is an edited excerpt from Parenting the Wholehearted Child.

*     *     *     *

I have been teaching my own boys this simple model for prayer and posted a photo about it on Facebook HERE.  Happy Buddy now begins all of his prayers with, “Wow, God!” :-)

Y’all, I love sharing the things that I love and Jeannie’s book is at the top of the list.  If you are trying to find just one Christian parenting book that has it all – THIS IS IT!  I know you will love Jeannie’s heart and be inspired to share the Lord’s sweet grace with your kiddos in fresh and practical ways.  You can buy it on Amazon HERE.

*Follow Jeannie on Facebook HERE, Instagram HERE, and subscribe to her site HERE.* 

Thank you, Jeannie, for being a part of Happy Home Fairy today!

The Big Box

big box fun 6

Our sweet babysitter, Miss Cathy, gave us a large box from their recent washing machine purchase and LET ME TELL YOU.

You would have thought she had given my boys the MOON.

I set it out in the living room so that Happy Buddy and Happy Baby would find it when they woke up.

big box fun 3big box fun 4big box fun 2Happy Buddy had it all decorated – including a welcome mat – before 6 am.

He hung handmade drawings inside on the walls (although the jury’s still out on what he drew in the picture hanging over the window – any thoughts?  Is it a flower?  A man running for his life?  Tadpole?).

He filled it with bins full of books, walkie-talkies, pillows, a football, and pretend snacks.  Everything a boy could possibly need in a new home.

big box fun 10He covered it with a sheet so that he had privacy, of course.

When Happy Baby woke up he decided that he wanted his own house.

I happened to have a box from an inexpensive toy organizer I had recently purchased at Target (which I put together myself.  I used a screwdriver and everything! #feelingproud).

big box fun 7big box fun 8Happy Buddy even made a welcome mat for his brother’s new house.

big box fun 9And now they have their very own neighborhood.

I am not going to lie, having these giant boxes in the living room is kind of making me crazy.  Usually with items of this size my OCD will get the best of me and they will be by the curb the next day because I just can’t stand the extra mess (do you remember the bunny?  We still have it!).  Our house is already small, so adding 2 huge boxes makes it feel like we literally have the MOON in our living room.

But I am choosing to let it go because the boys are just so happy.

Plus they are learning how to be good neighbors.

big box fun 11Ringing the doorbell…

big box fun 5Enjoying one another’s company…

big box fun 12Annnnnd this is a picture of Happy Buddy throwing his brother out of his house because he was tired of entertaining.

Every day the Happy Buddy thanks me for not throwing his house away – lol!  I guess I need to lighten up a bit and let them be kids and have fun.

It’s summer after all.

Have your kids ever had the opportunity to play with a big box?

– Julie :-)

*Feeling overwhelmed with gratitude, sweet friends!  Thank you to those who have contributed to my dream!!  I am praising God for you!  We are ALMOST to my goal!  If you haven’t already, will you pray about donating to help Fund the Fairy?  I would be so honored to have your support! Xoxo

How to Prepare Your Child for the Dentist

Is your child a little nervous about getting their first teeth cleaning Check out this fun article for helpful tips on how to prepare your child for their first trip to the dentist!Last year I shared on my Summer Bucket List that we would be taking Happy Buddy to the dentist for the first time.

My little man was quite nervous about this experience and with a history of some problems with oral sensory processing (check out my post about Picky Eating HERE), I was also scared that things would not bode well for us in the dentist’s chair.

Not to mention I didn’t exactly have a great track record of remembering to stay on top of his teeth brushing (probably because he went ape on us whenever I mentioned it and eventually just gave up the battle – I KNOW, #badmom), so you could say there was some concern that he might have 40,000 cavities.

I decided that Happy Buddy needed to be prepped for his doctor’s appointment so that he would know what to expect and I set about finding creative ways to do so.

As it turned out, the Happy Buddy did AWESOME at the dentist’s office.  In fact, he asked me later that day if we could go back.

I’m thinking it had something to do with the birthday cake-flavored fluoride and the chocolate flavored toothpaste (which seems a little counterproductive to the whole philosophy of a dentist, if you ask me).

But I do think beyond that, the prep we did to help Happy Buddy get mentally ready for Dr. Thomas made all the difference in the world.

Here are the 5 things we did before our first dentist appointment…

1.  Read books about the dentist.

First thing we after I scheduled our dentist appointment was load the kids in the car and hit the library where we checked out anything we could find in the kid’s section about dentists.

There are books featuring Curious George, the Berenstain Bears, and Little Critter that are fun to read and provide a good idea of what to expect.

2.  Download a dentist themed app for kids.

After the library trip, I did some searching for an app for kids about the dentist.  We found THIS ONE called Tiny Dentist and the Happy Buddy still plays with it to this day.  The player gets to swap places with the dentist and clean teeth, fill cavities, and even extract the ones that are just beyond repair.

3.  Pretend play a visit to the dentist.

This was by far my favorite thing we did to get the Happy Buddy ready for his first dentist experience!

We set up an area in his bedroom with a towel and pillow for him to lay on.  I put on an apron and got his toothbrush.  Then I welcomed him to my office and introduced myself as the hygienist.  I helped him into the ‘chair’ and proceeded to put a paper towel on his chest.  Next I carefully brushed his teeth, provided him with a cup of water to swish and a bowl to spit.

Then I announced that I would be getting the dentist to have a look in his mouth.  This is the part where I got the hubs and he came in wearing yard work goggles and holding a drill.  Hahahaha!  I posted a picture of it on Instagram HERE.

The hubs was pretty hilarious and got to work on Happy Buddy’s mouth.  I think he ‘removed’ about 5 teeth.

Lol – I guess there is no wonder Happy Buddy had such a pleasant experience at the real dentist because we probably traumatized him with our fake one!!! :-)

4.  Sing about it.

Click over HERE to find a hilarious song about brushing your teeth.

5.  Pray about it.

Finally, with everything that is new or even scary for our kids, we do our best to commit it to prayer.  The few days leading up to our appointment we prayed for peace, for Dr. Thomas, and we reminded ourselves of Joshua 1:9, “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid, for the Lord your God is with you WHEREVER you go.”

Even to the dentist!

I am happy to report that Happy Buddy had no cavities last year.

And we even went again this summer and received the same good news!

Plus the hubs put a reminder in my phone that goes off every night at 7 pm and we drop everything to brush our teeth – no matter what.

So I guess maybe I’m not such a bad mom after all. ;-)

What helps your kids when they go to the dentist?

Happy Dentist-ing!

Recipe – Easy Taco Soup

Super yummy, super easy taco soup recipe at happyhomefairy.com. I can't wait to make this for my family!

I’m always on the look out for Mexican-inspired recipes because the hubs loves anything with a little kick.

This recipe makes a TON so make sure you take some to your neighbors or that sweet mama at church who just had a baby (I’m talking about you, Katie!  I hope y’all enjoyed your Taco Soup!). ;-)

Taco Soup

*Recipe adapted from i heart naptime

Ingredients –

  • 1 lb ground beef or ground turkey (I have tried this both ways and it is always good!)
  • 2 T taco seasoning
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 half of each green, yellow, AND red pepper, chopped
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz) can corn
  • 1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup salsa (I usually add more)

Directions –

  1. Brown the beef in a large pan, drain.  Add onions, peppers, and taco seasoning and saute for several minutes.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and stir until everything is mixed nicely.  Let simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Top with your favorite Mexican toppings (sour cream, cheese, tortilla chips, etc.).

Enjoy!

yummy taco soupDon’t forget to check out these other great Mexican recipes from Happy Home Fairy…

peachy pork picante - a super easy and delicious speedy weeknight dinner the whole family will LOVE!Peachy Pork Picante

Taco Pizza of heaven

Taco Pizza

Taco Pockets

Happy Taco Soup-ing! :-)

*I’m so humbled and in awe of what the Lord is doing through kind, generous, and obedient people like YOU at my Go Fund Me page!  Thank you just isn’t enough to adequately express what is in my heart…  Check it out HERE and be a part of the magic! :-)