How To Manage a Mommy Meltdown (Without a Trip to Target)

Managing a Mommy Meltdown - I need this for those tough days!!!Let me paint a picture of something we are all familiar with.

You’ve been up with someone all night long.

And that someone was probably either throwing up, pooping, or wanting to suck on your boob every 5 minutes.

The sun finally peeks over the horizon and your other children are now awake and demanding food, squeezing toothpaste all over the countertops, and bringing out every toy in their closets.

Someone gets hurt climbing on the couch.

Siblings argue over the the last waffle.

The How-to-Homeschool book you recently bought is gathering dust on the counter.

You check Facebook in between kissing booboos, wiping up syrup spills, and throwing your hair in a messy bun and you see that all your friends have gone for a jog at 4 am, actually taken showers, dressed their children in adorable matching outfits, and shared photos of their morning smoothie #kale.

Someone discovers a trail of sugar ants in the pantry.

You hear what sounds like a box of toothpicks being dropped on the floor in the next room.

You discover that the dog has eaten your favorite pair of shoes.

A child that might belong to the neighbors comes barreling through the kitchen with muddy feet.

You go through an old pile of mail to find a bill that is now past due.

Finally, you sit down to breathe for a minute, reach for your coffeemaker and…

It’s broken.

That is the moment where the tears start piling up in your eyes and spilling over like the mountain of laundry that is overflowing in the upstairs hallway.

You yell at the next little person who walks in the room to ask for a banana (which you know you will find later in the week under someone’s bed).

You race to the bathroom for a full out ugly cry session, but as you sit on the toilet, 3 sets of hands start poking their way under the door crack.

How is a woman supposed to deal with these moments without pulling out what’s left of her post-natal head of hair or spending a child’s college fund on a therapy shopping trip to Target?

Here are some ways that I have learned to cope on those days when ALL HOPE SEEMS LOST.

#1 – Take a 5 minute Time-Out

When I feel my insides bubbling like a bottle of Diet Coke with a Mentos in it, I try to stop things before the big explode.  I will announce loudly that Mommy (not them) needs a time-out and then head to a spot in the house to be alone for 5 minutes.  Usually this is the bathroom.

*Note – If seeing hands poking under the door bothers you, climb into the shower and close the curtain.*

The hardest part is sticking to 5 minutes.  Be careful not to fall asleep in there or get lost checking email (and don’t – I repeat – DON’T get on Instagram or Facebook during a mommy meltdown – scrolling through everyone’s ‘best’ moments will not help your current situation) because for every minute past 5, a child will probably be doing something in the house that will create more work and drama for you later – like getting into the china cabinet or playing with your favorite pieces of jewelry in the kitchen sink.

#2 – Get dressed

If you are still in your pajamas – put some clothes on.

Sometimes just putting a bra or mascara on gives me that extra umph to think clearly.

#3 – Make contact with the outside world

Often we need to get out of our 4 walls and be reminded that there are other women out there having rough mornings too.  A few days ago when a solo trip to Ikea went really bad – like one kid screaming hysterically through the store for 15 minutes straight because his flip flop felt sticky???  And the other kid throwing a tantrum because we’d already gone on the elevator 503 times and he wanted 504???  She promptly responded with her own tale of a child just having a massive meltdown in the library.  The library, people.   We were able to encourage each other to keep persevering and I felt loads better.  Not because I was happy about my friend’s bad experience, I was just relieved to know that I wasn’t alone.

#4 – Turn on some worship music

When my spirit is in turmoil, I reach for my CD player (I am slightly Amish and don’t have an iPod). :-)

Listening to worship music (Hillsong, Elevation, Jesus Culture) or any Kari Jobe album (which is the equivalent of listening to angels sing) is an essential tool in my mommy meltdown arsenal.

Every once in awhile I will even scoop up my kids, buckle them in the car, give them a bag of Goldfish, set up the worship music and go for a drive.  Sometimes just driving around listening to songs about the Lord’s faithful, loving hand – with no destination in mind – can create an unexpected peace.

Just make sure that your turbulent mental state isn’t going to cause you to hit the gas pedal too hard.  Adding a speeding ticket to your already ‘perfect’ day will not be amusing.

Plus, it’s not safe.

#5 – Have a ‘Do Over’

On days when nothing is going right, attitudes are stinky, and situations keep circling from bad to worse, I tell my children that we are having a Do Over.  We all climb in bed and pretend to start the day over.  We ‘wake up’, greet each other happily and begin the day again with all our normal morning routines.  You can even go as far as serving breakfast a second time.  Whip up a batch of homemade waffles to redeem that argument from earlier. :-)

This usually gets everyone smiling and is a great demonstration of that verse from Lamentations about His mercies being new every morning…

#6 – Do something nice for someone else

Having a bad mommy day?  Go Ding Dong Diaper Ditch a new mom.  Or leave a new doormat on someone’s doorstep.  Or head to Starbucks and pay for the order of the person behind you.  Text a friend an encouraging word.  Send someone an E-card.

You will feel better.  I promise.

#7 – Bedtime Redemption

When all else fails and the day is ending and you reflect back on a whole lot of tense situations, angry glares, and harsh words, I like to use bedtime as a place to seek my childrens’ forgiveness for the ways I failed to honor the Lord (and them) with my behavior that day.  There is something special about those moments before bed – their little hearts are open a bit more (possibly because they know hanging out with me allows them to stay up later – ha!), but nonetheless, they are a bit more subdued than during the waking hours and it makes for a quiet pocket to reconnect.

**End the day well.**

#8 – The only thing that will REALLY work

The above suggestions are great, but managing a mommy meltdown can truly only be solved with the powerful words of God.

Because often a mommy meltdown is fueled by overwhelming feelings of weakness, unrealistic expectations, inadequacy, failure, self-condemnation, and other destructive lies.

And the only way to destroy lies is to replace them with truth.

Speak to yourself Psalm 18:32 – “It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.”

Or Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Or Joshua 1:9, “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Or a favorite of mine – Deuteronomy 33:12, “Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between His shoulders.”

Those are the words that will wash over your soul and remove away the anger and stress and 100,000 tiny things that led you to the point of critical mass.

So when you’re headed to the bathroom for your 5-minute time-out, grab the Bible on your way.

Use those precious minutes to get filled up with all the wonderful promises He has for you in that Good Book.

And when your 5 minutes are up, let Him lift you up on His shoulders and carry you out of the bathroom and through your house (stepping over the laundry and discarded banana and yes, toothpicks) to continue pressing on in the calling of motherhood.

Being a mom is tough.  Days like the one I described above are probably going to happen and you will probably struggle to manage it well (unless you happen to be in the Duggar family).

But grace is about His strength being made perfect in weakness.

So let your mommy meltdown be the thing that draws you closer to Him instead of closer to bankruptcy.

Because Target ain’t got nothing on Jesus.

How do you manage a Mommy Meltdown?

- Julie :-)

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

For Busy Moms – What To Eat For Lunch

Hey there readers!  Today I am excited to share with you one of my dearest friends and college roommate – Jenna Braddock, from Fresh Food Perspectives.  This girl is AMAZING.  I loved getting to live with her during our FSU days and see what God was doing in her heart as she pursued a calling in nutrition.  She taught me so much about living for Jesus, eating healthy and caring for my body.  I asked if she would write a post for Happy Home Fairy featuring ideas about what busy moms can eat for lunch because, I don’t know about you, but this is the meal that I tend to have NO CLUE what to do with and usually end up eating yogurt and chocolate chips – which isn’t exactly fuel for finishing the laundry and having tickle fights with my boys.  I know you will love her wisdom and fresh ideas about food. :-)

What can busy moms eat for lunch?? Great, easy ideas!Lunch time.  Oh, lunch time.

In my house it usually happens like this:

We’ve been out all morning (at the gym, playground, grocery store, Costco, etc.) and because we don’t live near ANYTHING – except a Starbucks – we are literally out for the entire morning.

When we walk in the door, hopefully a little before noon, my baby is cranky, I’m starving, and my toddler is saying he is hungry– every. ten. seconds.  I’m trying to put away bags or food, entertain baby until I can feed him, figure out what we are going to eat, and pray for patience to answer my toddler’s non-stop food requests.

It’s not always pretty.

For a while, I just focused on feeding my boys and getting them down for their nap.  I figured that I’d feed myself after all that chaos was over.  But by the time I did end up eating (around 1:30pm), I was either too tired to care (and then just picked at something dumb) or I’d be ravenous and attack chips or chocolate before a thought of a vegetable even crossed my mind.  Neither of these paths left me feeling good in any way.  And it certainly didn’t set me up to have a productive nap time – which is crucial for my work life.  Most of the time, I’d end up needing a nap myself (which I 100% support, but don’t always want to feel like I need one).

After one too many afternoons of this, I realized that in order to be the mom I need to be for my family, my lunch needed to be just as important as my boys’ lunch.

Since then, things have changed a little around here at lunch time.

One, I try to plan ahead.

In fact, I do this for my sitter when she is here during lunch time so that it will be smooth and easy for her.  So why don’t I do that for myself?  Hmm.

Two, I now take a few extra minutes to prepare my lunch as well and then we all sit down together.

Usually I will serve my toddler and I the same thing.  I don’t necessarily eat his lunch, he eats my lunch (it’s semantics but I think it’s an important point).  Sometimes they come in slightly different versions – his is a “deconstructed” version of mine – but this makes it easier and enforces the idea that we all just eat food (as opposed to kids eat ‘kid food’ and adults eat ‘adult food’).

Here are a few ideas of the lunches I eat that make me feel energized and are fairly simple to prepare.  Cooking quinoa or prepping veggies on the weekend makes these meals happen a lot more easily during the week.

  1. Deli meat and cheese roll ups with a slice of avocado inside; broccoli and hummus.

  2. 1 cup Plain Greek yogurt with chopped cucumber, fresh dill, cumin, and raisins mixed in. Whole grain crackers on the side.

  3. Peanut butter and jelly sandwich (natural PB and all-natural jelly) on whole wheat bread, carrot sticks and fresh berries on the side.

  4. Quinoa and black bean bowl with salsa, cheese, avocado.

  5. Salad with grilled chicken (leftover from dinner), fresh strawberries, chips and guacamole.

  6. Frozen veggie burger (lately, it’s this brand) with slice of cheese or sliced avocado, carrots and hummus, and blueberries.

What I look for in a lunch is a source of protein, at least one fruit or veggie, and something “happy” (e.g. a favorite healthy food like avocado, hummus, PB, black beans, whole grain chips, or sparkling water like La Croix).  Anything too high in carbs makes me feel sleepy and I need to have energy to get stuff done during nap time.  Including a “happy” food helps me not go back to the pantry several times during the afternoon to find something for my hankering.  It’s also a good idea to try to include many colors in your meal – especially something green.

So ladies, please take the time to care for yourself at lunch.  You may need a few different strategies to help you pull off lunches, depending on the schedule for your day.  Crazy days may need a short and sweet plan.  Less involved days may allow you to put in a little more time.

Either way, a little planning goes a long way!

What are your favorite go-to lunches?

- Jenna

________________________________________________

Jenna Braddock, MSH, RD, CSSD, LD/N is a registered dietitian and a mom to two boys. When not chasing down her sons or watching her husband coach football, she enjoys helping people have a positive relationship with food and reach their goals. As a nutrition expert she works as a healthy living speaker, nutrition counselor, blogger, recipe developer and media spokesperson. You can follow her fresh perspective and healthy recipes on her blog at www.FreshFoodPerspectives.com or on Twitter and Instagram as @JBraddockRD.

How To Make A Number 5 Cake

how to make a number 5 cake at happyhomefairy.com.jpg

The Happy Buddy turned 5 on the 3rd of July and I really wanted to make him a special birthday cake to celebrate.

I almost gave up and called the Publix bakery after looking on Pinterest and seeing so many intricate, difficult, you-might-need-a-culinary-arts-degree-to-make-it cakes.

But then I saw a few Number 5 cakes and knew I could pull it off without having to buy fondant or 300 special frosting tips.

This cake is SO easy.

Here is a photo tutorial of what I did -

how to make a number 5 cakehow to make a number 5 cake 1how to make a number 5 cake 2how to make a number 5 cake 3how to make a number 5 cake 4how to make a number 5 cake 5how to make a number 5 cake 6how to make a number 5 cake 7how to make a number 5 cake 8

At this point I decided to decorate the cake with M&Ms.

About 10 minutes in to the color sorting and meticulous placing, I regretted this decision immensely.

how to make a number 5 cake 9But I persevered and the finished product was so cute I forgot about the 27 times my hand cramped up.

:-)

Happy How to Make a Number 5 Cake-ing!

*Quick Tip – For crumb-free icing, I recommend freezing your cakes first.  Go HERE for a simple step-by-step guide.*

Extreme Picky Eater Solutions

extreme picky eater solutions - such great advice! i SO need this for my picky eater!

The tips I am about to share with you are a bit… unconventional.

I am well aware of the fact that I am not a perfect parent and have made PLENTY of mistakes along the parenting way.

{{Sometimes I’m amazed that my kids are alive at all.}}

Some may say those mistakes created my picky eater, but I love Jesus and His Spirit lives in me and therefore I must remember that my weaknesses are opportunities for the Lord to redeem and get glory and draw me ever-so-much closer to Him in the process.

These tips were birthed out of a long and frustrating season with an extreme picky eater who ended up pooping out his poop sac because he was so constipated from malnutrition (you can read about that HERE – IF you have a strong stomach).

Every kid is different and sometimes we parents need to get creative to get results.

So if you’ve tried hiding vegetable purees in your child’s pancakes and you’ve tried renaming vegetables as well-known super heroes and you’ve tried spending 30 minutes making carrots and celery look like a spaceship only to watch your stubborn child precious little angel go to bed hungry because he refuses to eat food that isn’t beige -

THESE TIPS ARE FOR YOU.

It took the better part of a year (and a lot of nights spent praying for a broccoli breakthrough), but I am happy to report that my extreme picky eater is now happily munching on that broccoli, AS WELL AS carrots, green beans, spinach, asparagus, strawberries, raisins, zucchini, mushrooms, peppers, onions, apples, and grapes – to name a few.

Ok, I guess I should say he’s mostly happily eating those things.

Ok, somewhat happily.

Ok, so it’s more like how you feel about exercise – you do it because you know it’s good for you, but it’s not like you’re frolicking up the sidewalk to your local gym with a huge smile on your face.

(Except for the few crazy birds out there who actually enjoy breaking a sweat and waking up at 4 am for a run or for spin class or for CrossFit.  **These are probably the same people who don’t have picky eaters.**)

The point is, we’ve come a lonnnnng way from that fateful night last July.

And these Extreme Picky Eater Solutions were what saved us.

#1 – Vegetable Brain Washing

One of the most important aspects of training picky eaters is to change the way they think about food.

They need to see foods like spinach and blueberries as powerful tools to fuel their body and foods like nuggets and ice cream as occasional blessings (and by occasional I mean only a few times a week :-)).

So I have made it my mission to sneak in ‘vegetable subliminal messages’ whenever and where ever I possibly can.

I downloaded THIS APP featuring dancing, happy vegetables and let my boys play with it at special times throughout the week.

When we have pretend play in the Happy Buddy’s kitchen and he asks me what I would like to eat, I ALWAYS ask for a salad.  I am happy to enjoy his delicious felt cupcakes and delectable plastic cookies only after I have eaten all my veggies.

We watch lots and lots of Veggie Tales and I make comments like, “Oh, look at Larry.  He’s a cucumber. Mmmm, I love cucumbers.”

We talk about the differences between ‘God-made’ food and ‘man-made’ food.

Once we were at a birthday party and they were serving cupcakes with green-dyed shredded coconut on top.  The Happy Buddy pointed to it and said, “Look, Mommy!  Zucchini!”

Bam.  Brainwashed.

#2 – Tiny Bites

Once we tried to give the Happy Buddy some full-sized strawberries and he went and threw up all over the back of the couch.

**He has sensory issues.**

So I started cutting everything to be the size of something Polly Pocket would be pleased with and this helped our vegetable and fruit eating efforts tremendously.

#3 – Dip It

Picky eaters usually like ketchup.

As long as I’ve got a bottle of the red stuff in the fridge, the Happy Buddy can get through almost any vegetable I serve him.

(Except avocados – the texture on those is just way beyond his capabilities.)

And, besides, we all KNOW that ketchup is a vegetable, too, so it’s alllllllllll good.

#4 – Wrap It up, Serve It Again

This is the tip that brought us the MOST success in getting our boy to eat – BY FAR.

I make a healthy dinner.  I put a sufficient portion of it on my child’s plate.  He is responsible for eating it.

If he doesn’t eat the food on the plate (in a reasonable amount of time – sometimes we have to set a timer as a motivating factor), then I wrap it up and put it in the fridge and his job is to finish it in the morning.

It sounds harsh, but let me tell you something – we only had to do this TWICE before the Happy Buddy realized if he ever wanted to see Saturday-morning pancakes or scrambled eggs and toast again, then he’d better finish his dinner.

Now please don’t think I’m militant about this every single night.  If he’s tired or sick or he really (really) doesn’t like the meal or seems to genuinely be not hungry, there is always GRACE.

But for the most part all I have to say is, “Hmm, I wonder how that will taste for breakfast?” and his food is gone in a matter of seconds.

#5 – Bartering

I have found that sometimes having nutritionally unprofitable food around can be highly beneficial to getting my child to try new, healthy options.

For example, the other day the Happy Buddy had a hankering for pretzels.

So I calmly said, “You can have pretzels, but first you can eat this yummy bowl of carrot sticks.”

If he is reeeeeally hungry, he will eat the carrots.  If he’s not, he’ll just be hungrier for dinner.

It’s a win-win.

#6 – Fun Times

Some people might say these tips are more power plays and could potentially make mealtime a negative experience for my child.

To that I would say – Um, do you even know me??

There is a reason why this blog is called HAPPY Home Fairy.  I’m ALL ABOUT pursuing a happy home.  So even though I might be laying down the law when it comes to what my kids eat, we always have a good time in between reminders to get all that broccoli in his belly.

We use THESE Free Printable Conversation Starters.

We play the soundtrack to Frozen.

I occasionally perform selections from the Broadway musical Wicked.

We eat on plates shaped like Mickey Mouse.

We have dance parties and hug festivals when someone tries a new food or eats everything on his plate without complaining.

We act silly – like just tonight the Happy Baby wasn’t eating his lasagna, so I pretended to fall asleep.  He called out to me and I over-dramatically startled awake.  He burst into laughter and then immediately asked for me to do it again.

So I said I would do it again only if he took a bite of his food.

Needless to say, I had to ‘fall asleep’ about 50 times, but the plate got finished.

#7 – Be prepared for some drama.

You would not even believe the scene that went down in our kitchen one day several months back over a GRAPE.

A grape, people.

But – by the strength of God alone – I stuck to my guns.

Because the thing with picky eaters is that they can wear you down.  You’re so tired of fighting all. the. time. that you give in and throw a few nuggets in the microwave instead of having them eat the dinner you prepared.

All the visions of happy, peaceful family mealtimes you had as a starry-eyed pregnant woman are shattered as you watch your child go into hysteria over one small grape.

But if you’re really serious about seeing your Happy Buddy grow as an eater, you have to be ready for a battle (and possibly some spinach thrown in your face).

Hebrews 12:11 says, “No training seems pleasant at the time.  In fact, it seems painful.  But later on it produces a harvest of godliness and peace.”

I often have to remind myself that parenting involves TRAINING and any kind of training requires hard work and time (even the perfect Crossfit-ing parents will agree with me on that). :-)

Try to see every vegetable kick back, every mealtime meltdown, every defiant ‘no’ as an opportunity to help your child grow into the person God wants them to be.

It won’t be easy, but I promise you it will be worth it.

For EVERYONE involved.

So, sweet Mama, be encouraged.

picky eater 1.jpgpicky eater 2.jpgpicky eater 3.jpgpicky eater 4.jpgpicky eater 5.jpgpicky eater 6.jpgThe harvest will come.

- Julie :-)

*I am NOT a nutritionist or a dietitian.  I am only sharing what was helpful for our family – which is quite possibly completely different than yours.  You ultimately know what is best and what will work for your Happy Home!*

**I may or may not have bribed the Happy Buddy with a chocolate chip cookie to do the above photo shoot. :-)**

How To Give Your Child Jesus Kisses

How to give your child Jesus Kisses. The sweetest little thing to add to our bedtime routine!

My sweet friend and mentor Vickie over at Ponder365 taught me this precious little ritual to add to your child’s bedtime routine.

First you kiss your child’s right cheek and say, “Mommy loves you,”

Then you kiss your child’s left cheek and say, “Daddy loves you,”

Next you kiss their right cheek again and say the name of your child’s sibling such as, “Lilly loves you,”

Keep switching cheeks for each sibling’s name (if you are anything like the Duggar family this part might take awhile and you might regret ever launching this nightly tradition).

After you’ve gone through each immediate family member, pause and then say with a huge amount of enthusiasm,

“And JESUS LOVES YOU MOST OF ALL!”

Then give your child a seriously crazy kiss attack.

Expect lots of giggles. :-)

I do this with my boys almost every night and they love it.

They get really nervous/excited for the explosion of kisses from Jesus.

And I love how it is a precious reminder of Who loves them more than anything.

Here is a little video to demonstrate (the Happy Buddy was an absolutely thrilled participant)…

Happy Jesus Kiss-ing! :-)

“We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 (ESV)

*Stop by Vickie’s blog and sign up for incredible once-a-week posts full of mommy encouragement. I’ve had the privilege of serving with her in our church’s MOM ministry and her wisdom/advice is so inspiring.  Her I’m Tired Prayer has been such a blessing to me this month!*

How I Got Ready For Swimsuit Season (SUPER SECRET TIP)

How one lady got ready for swimsuit season after having 2 kids. Hilarious and easy idea..jpg

I mentioned HERE that the hubs and I had an opportunity to visit the Bahamas on a staff retreat with his work.

To say I was excited about going is an understatement.

5 days without kids?!  5 days not being needed to wipe bottoms, tie shoes, and pack lunches?

Ummm, when do we leave?!

But to say I was apprehensive about wearing a bathing suit in front of people (PEOPLE I KNOW) is an understatement.

Words like horrified, disheartened, aghast and other synonyms I searched for under the word AFRAID were what I was feeling instead.

So I knew I had to try to figure out a realistic way to get my body into some kind of non-scary state for the beach.

And, for me, it all boiled down to one super simple tip.

Are you ready to get ready for your swimsuit – you hot mama, you?

Here’s what you need to do -

STOP EATING AFTER DINNER.

That’s it.

No 100 crunches or 400 planks or 50,000 Russian twists or 10 million squats or 9 trillion butt lifts (although these can be helpful if you’re into sweating).

No P90Xing or T25ing or Insanity-ing or listening to Jillian yell at you for 30 minutes 10 times a day (also helpful if you like torturing yourself).

Just stop eating after dinner.

I sat down one day and asked the Lord why I was so afraid of my own body and He quietly revealed to me that a lot of my body image issues were stemming from an area in my life that I had yet to fully surrender to Him.

This area called overeating at night.

As the Lord shed light on my sin, I realized just how much peace I was losing over this.

Because I could be solidly disciplined in my 3 meals a day plus one afternoon snack (usually THIS), but as soon as those adorable children had their last drink of water and potty run and the circle of emotional support stuffed animals were in place, my craving to munch kicked in.

I worked hard all day long chasing around 2 monkeys.

I deserved something delicious.

I deserved an opportunity to eat copious amounts of crunchy things.

Yes, I could sit down with a bag of trail mix or granola or ice cream and before I knew it, be staring at the bottom of the package.

Then I would go to bed bloated and wake up angry.

And still bloated.

Then the whole cycle would repeat.

I knew I was holding onto about 5 extra pounds because of this nonsense and it was wrecking the way I felt about myself.

Then Lent happened and I thought, “Hey, if Jesus can NOT EAT AT ALL for 40 days, I can fast from eating after dinner for 40 days.”

Let me just say, I have a whole new appreciation for people who experience withdrawal from an addiction.

There were many nights where the hubs had to hold me back from chewing a hole through his shirt – like I was some kind of a rabid animal or something.

My teeth have never been cleaner because I probably brushed them 10,000 times as a distraction technique.

Sometimes we would finish dinner at 8 pm and I would go to bed at 8:01 – just to avoid the temptation.

Somewhere along the way, though, all the little tricks above began to give way to a genuine desire to obey God.

I looked to my greatest example and inspiration – thinking about how HARD it must have been for Jesus to sacrifice as He did in the desert for those 40 days.

But He found His refuge and power in something far greater than the feeling of sinking your teeth into a square (or 4 or 5) of dark chocolate.

I memorized Psalm 34:8 and stood before my evil pantry saying,

“Taste and see that THE LORD is good!”

The LORD.

Not granola.

Because when you’re trying to kick a habit like finding comfort in food, you’ve got to find your strength and satisfaction in the One who is absolutely and totally enough.

The physical results of this challenge became secondary as I grew closer with Christ and let Him become my after dinner craving.

:-)

Do I do this perfectly every single night?

Nope.

The hubs and I still like to have late night ice cream parties every once in awhile where we clink our spoons together and celebrate the fact that we survived another day of parenthood.

The difference is now I am trying to be more conscious of how much ice cream I eat and my heart behind each bite.

Is this your story, too?

Try my little trick for a few weeks and let me know how you feel.

Then go get that bathing suit on, girl.

I’ll meet you by the water’s edge and we can celebrate our rockin’ beach bodies (well, as rockin’ as they get after bearing a couple of kids and dealing with things like um, gravity) by eating a properly portioned piece of chocolate before dinner.

- Julie

Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NLT)

**Do you struggle with weight and eating issues?  HERE and HERE are the books that were incredibly helpful for me.**

How To Fake Clean Your House In 5 Easy Steps

how to fake clean your house in 5 easy steps. this is hilarious. i can do this and save my sanity!.jpg

It’s Spring.

That time of year when people like to couple the word Spring with the word cleaning.

Not my favorite combination, I admit.

I much prefer duos like milk and cookies or bed and breakfast.

But there is another duo that plagues our homes year round and that is kids and messes.  Those two go hand in hand.

Whether they are painting the walls with their own dirty diaper, or dumping out those super-organized-Ikea-bins, or shaking out a sand-box-filled shoe on the carpet – if you have kids, there will be mess.

If you are a grandma, I hear you.  I hear you telling me not to worry about the mess.  That they are only young for a short season.  To embrace the mess and confidently declare that my children are making memories.  Yes, I hear you.  I even blogged about that HERE.

But the truth is, I like a little bit of order.

I kind of break out in a rash if things get overly cluttered with too many piles of mail/laundry/un-emptied lunchboxes/half-eaten bananas/Matchbox cars taking over every surface in our home.

It is hard to make a good memory when those kinds of messes build up.  Because I am pretty sure that the memories my kids are making are those of me hyperventilating while sitting in the middle of a Lego explosion.

So here are the 5 things I do to COPE in the midst of the mess.

And they take no more than 5 minutes – total!

These 5 little tricks won’t help you if you have a ring around your bathtub or cobwebs in your chandelier, but they will make your home feel a little more like you can live in it without having a panic attack.

You can call it Spring Cleaning for Dummies.  Or Fake Cleaning.  Or Sanity Saving Steps to Somewhat Order.

Whatever you call it, I hope these simple ideas will inspire you to have your spring and your clean too!

Tip #1 – Make your bed.spring cleaning for dummies1.jpg.jpgspring cleaning for dummies2.jpg

This is usually where I begin.

If I am completely overwhelmed by the mess in a room, I make the bed.

This immediately helps me feel enough better about everything else (dust, piles, iron that I never use) that I can move on to another task.

Like…

Tip #2 – Close the closet doors.spring cleaning for dummies5.jpgspring cleaning for dummies6.jpg

I tend to throw things in closets to forget they exist, so when the doors are open, it can make a room feel a whole lot worse than it is.

Take 2 seconds to slide the doors closed and breathe a sigh of relief.

I think whoever first said, “Out of sight, out of mind,” closed a closet door before that zinger fell off their lips.

Tip #3 – Close the shower curtains.spring cleaning for dummies3.jpgspring cleaning for dummies4.jpg

The same is true for shower curtains.

Every time I give the boys a bath I wonder if their bath toys are procreating in there at night because they just keep multiplying!  The little toy basket I bought doesn’t fit them all anymore and it takes way too long to clean them up at the end of the bath when all I want to do is get the monkeys toweled off and in bed.

So we close the curtain and carry on until the next bath.

Tip #4 – Fluff pillows.spring cleaning for dummies7.jpgspring cleaning for dummies8.jpg

I must do this about 6,735 times a day.

But it makes the whole room feel company ready (even if when said company sits down they find Cheerios and all manner of unidentifiable crumbs under their toes.  And possibly an old snot rag stuffed down in between the cushions).

Tip #5 – Clear the fridge.spring cleaning for dummies9.jpgspring cleaning for dummies10.jpg

There comes a day about every 6 weeks where I start feeling a little claustrophobic about what’s happening on our fridge door.

The Happy Buddy seems to think that every single piece of art he creates (including the half-hazard scribbles and unending trail of worksheets from school) are fridge worthy.

I am always secretly throwing his things away and then piling other trash on top because he has discovered one too many times his work in the garbage and then looked at me with accusing eyes and said, “Mommy!  Why are you throwing away all of my beautiful things?”

Because Mommy is about to lose her marbles, maybe????

No, actually, I try to say in a bright voice, “Because now we can start over with new artwork, my little Picasso!”

And then we repeat the same scenario 6 weeks later.

So, there you go!  Close up your computer or put down your phone and try these 5 simple tips and you will be feeling like a million bucks.

Until the kids decide to have a pillow fight while playing elevator in the closets.

In that case, my only spring cleaning tip for you is to…

Go eat a piece of chocolate and spray everything with Febreze.

Bam.

Happy Fake Spring Cleaning! :-)

How To Print Your Instagram Photos

how to print your instagram photos at Walgreens.jpgAre y’all doing Instagram?

I am a MUCH better Instagram-er than blogger these days!

{{You can follow me on Instagram HERE.}}

Instagram is such a fun way to capture those every day moments that you never want to forget (like the one I posted the other day when we were at the mall and the Happy Baby got to go on his first train ride with his big brother.  It was an epic moment, people.).

After being on Instagram for several months, however, I began to wonder how in the world does one print these adorable little square photos with the cool filter options?

If you happen to be a little slower in the area of technology like I-really-should-be-Amish me, then hopefully this post will help!

Low and behold – you can print Instagram photos at your local Walgreens in just a few easy steps.

how to print your instagram photos at Walgreens.jpg4.jpgStep 1 – Download the Walgreens app (FREE).

how to print your instagram photos at Walgreens.jpg3.jpgStep 2 – Open the app and click on the PHOTO icon.

how to print your instagram photos at Walgreens.jpg2.jpgStep 3 – The photos menu will pop up and give you a few different options of where to print your photos from (Facebook, Instagram, etc.).

Step 4 – Click the Instagram option.  This will then prompt you to log in to your Instagram account.  After that, you will be able to see all of your Instagram photos and can then proceed to click on the ones you would like to print.

Step 5 – Choose a Walgreens location for pick-up and then check out.  **Don’t forget to do a quick Google search for a Walgreens photo printing coupon code.**

Step 6 – Wait for about an hour and get an email saying your photos are ready.

Step 7 – Drive to Walgreens and pick up your super cute 4×4 Instagram photos from the photo counter.

how to print your instagram photos at Walgreens.jpg5.jpgStep 8 – Hang them somewhere in your Happy Home.

And that is the 411 on printing Instagram photos at Walgreens.

Let me know if I just blew your mind and changed your life for the better.

Or if you’re actually living in the 21st century, then you’re probably like, “Been there, done that, Fairy.  Now ask me how I print them at Costco.”

I have to get back to my horse and buggy!!!  Lol!

Happy Instagram Photo Print-ing! :-)

Flying Solo with Kids – Travel Tips for the Brave Mom

Sorry things have been a little quiet at Happy Home Fairy this week.

I took the Happy Buddies on their very first airplane ride to New Jersey to visit my extended family!

To say the Happy Buddy was excited about flying is the understatement of the century.

To say that Mom was apprehensive about traveling with 2 unpredictable children (one of whom got sick the day before we left) is the second understatement of the century.

Flying up I had the help of my parents (Mom and Dad = my heroes!), but the flight home was all me, 300 bags, 2 car seats, and my 2 crazies.

Here are some do’s and don’ts I learned about flying solo with kids.

airplane2

DO – Have your Happy Buddies run like a pack of wild animals up and down the airport terminals, climb on the chairs, roll down the ramps and play on moving sidewalks before boarding.  This will {hopefully} make them happy to be cooped in an airplane seat for the duration of your flight – and maybe, just maybe even sleep a little.

DO – Pack several new toys, books, coloring books, etc. that your Happy Buddies haven’t seen before and dole them out every thirty minutes or so.  This will help break up long flights as well as give them something to look forward to.

DON’T – Leave these new toys in their brand new packages.  This will create lots of problems as you try to figure out how to rip open, assemble, and deal with the trash in a space about the size of the inside of your oven.

Click Image to Buy

Click Image to Buy

DON’T – Pack the above toy as one of your ‘new toys’.  Because when confined to small spaces for extended amounts of time your Happy Buddy will get creative and curious and figure out how to break open above toy and suddenly there will be 1,567,896,982 microscopic magnetic beads all over his lap and you will have a crying baby in your arms (who is trying to eat the magnetic wand that goes with above toy) and no idea how to clean it all up.

airplane4DO – Pray that the person sitting next to you will be Mother Teresa’s sister.

DO – Whip out any form of chocolate or {insert-your-child’s-most-prized-treat-here} right before things are really about to blow up.

DO – Pack your carry-on bag for the end of the world.  Someone will probably poop or throw up or snot everywhere on themselves and you and a change of clothes for all involved will be necessary.

DON’T – Pack your carry-on so tight that you can’t remove anything without having to take out top objects and put them on the floor and then sadly see them roll underneath a seat that is 4 rows away.

DON’T – Wear those cute new lace-up sneakers you just bought.  You might fall over will struggle to stay balanced trying to take off and put back on said cute laced sneakers while wearing a baby during the security screening process.  Slip-ons, friends.  Slip-ons.

DO – Plan to give your Happy Baby a bottle during take off and landing to help their little ears handle the air pressure changes.

DON’T – Start giving them the bottle when you think the runway has arrived because in fact, the airplane has several more turns and stops before the runway actually begins and your lil’ guzzler will have devoured the whole thing before you have even lifted off the ground.

airplane3DON’T – Wear a watch.  This will just make those 60 seconds from one minute to the next feel even longer.

DO – Sometimes sticking your potty-trained kid in a Pull-Up before flying will work in your favor.

DO – Be prepared to sing every song ever written to your inconsolable baby (and everyone within a 2-row-vicinity).

DON’T – Forget to pre-measure your baby’s powdered formula.  Trying to scoop formula from a can into a tiny bottle opening while holding a small squirming octopus will result in a giant mess.

DO – If your baby starts crying, pass out earplugs with a smile to those in the seats closest to you.

DO – Lean over, point out the window and whisper to your Happy Buddy, “Your steadfast love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.” Psalm 36:5

airplane5

DO – If all else fails and things are looking rather bleak, just plan on saying loud enough for everyone to hear, “Drinks are on me!” :-)

But most importantly, DO – Remember that you are an awesome Mom who now, if motherhood was like Girl Scouts, has an ‘I survived flying alone with my kids’ badge.

Now that is something to be proud of!!!

Do you have any airplane travel Do’s and Don’ts???

 Happy Flying Solo with Kids-ing! :-)

Extreme Pumping – Confessions of an Exclusive Pumper

The BEST article on how to pump for your baby written by a gal who pumped exclusively for her baby for 14 months!! This was really helpful and funny to read.My son, the Happy Baby, was born full-term, via C-section in April of 2012.

He was in respiratory distress and required oxygen support immediately.

One of his main health issues is a condition called hypotonia.  Hypotonia is a muscle weakness that effected everything from his breathing to his ability to suck.  His suck was particularly weak and uncoordinated and feeding became a big issue.  He even ended up needing a feeding tube for several months (you can read more about him and our journey HERE).

Because of that (and after several unsuccessful and emotional attempts to nurse), I decided to pump for my boy.

And I ended up pumping exclusively for him for 14 months!

You can read more about why I chose to do that HERE (as well as see some pretty funny photos of my family and me having a funeral for my pump once I finally stopped).

I got pretty good at pumping after all that time and thought I would share some things I learned along the way in case you ever find yourself hooked to a Medela!

Diet/Lifestyle

  • If you’re going to nurse or pump, you’ve got to drink a TON of water to keep up your supply.  Buy cute straws – it makes drinking water a lot more fun.  I kept a glass of water next to my pumping chair at all times.
  • Eat a healthy diet.  Take advantage of all that awesome food people are bringing you and your newborn.  Do not worry your pretty little head off about losing baby weight.  God made it so that your body burns a ton of calories when it is busy producing milk all day.  But you need to balance that burn with enough calories in your diet so that your body doesn’t start eating away at your own reserves – eek!
  • Eat oatmeal.  If my supply ever dipped, I went to Starbucks and got myself a cup of their Perfect Oatmeal – it is perfectly named, in my opinion. :-) Or, I simply made some of the old-fashioned kind (not instant) at home.  I also ate a lot of THIS KIND of granola.  I honestly don’t know the science behind this little bit, but it always seemed to help my supply get back on track.
  • SLEEP.  I know it’s hard to do this with a newborn in the house, but if you have an opportunity to sleep, do it.  Seriously, nobody cares if you haven’t vacuumed in 4 months.  You need your rest.  I read somewhere that your body actually needs at least 3-4 hours of sleep in order to produce milk.  And if you can’t get that much, ask your Happy Hubby to help.  And if you’re still struggling to find a few hours of shuteye, call a friend for help.  Your whole Happy Home’s sanity depends on it.
  • Stress effects your milk production.  This one is easier said than done.  I set up a nice, cozy chair in our living room as my pumping chair.  I tried to do most of my pumping there because it helped me to relax, but that was not always realistic, so on the times when I had to pump while at the dinner table (yes, I did that) trying to wrestle broccoli into my crazy 3-year-old, you can bet I didn’t produce as much milk.  But I produced awesome amounts if I sat with my computer open to Pinterest. :-)  Another good tip is to pump with a photo of your baby in front of you (or better yet – at crib side).  My precious mom framed a photo of the Happy Baby and brought it to me in the hospital the day after he was born.
  • Don’t wear tight-fitting bras, certain underwire bras, or super supportive sports bras.  I had this one tank top that was really fitted around the chest area.  It took me awhile, but one day I finally made the connection that whenever I wore that tank top, my milk supply went down.  The same thing happened if I spent an extended amount of time in a tight sports bra.  I really loved wearing THIS BRA at night.
  • Keep off your tummy!  If you thought just because your baby’s out of the way that you can go back to stomach sleeping – think again {so sorry!!!}.  This type of pressure on your breasts all night long can also effect/slow down milk production.
  • Check out THIS ARTICLE for other hidden hindrances to a healthy milk supply.

Pumping

  • If you are going to exclusively pump, you will need to buy an AWESOME pump.  They are expensive, but just think of the radical amounts of money you are saving in the long run by not having to buy formula (I have even heard of some health insurances that will actually cover a pump purchase, so check that out for sure!!!).  I have the sweetest, most generous friends who knew my pumping predicament and bought me THIS PUMP (1) while we were in the hospital.  I loved its size – perfect for on-the-go.  You can’t get away from the obnoxious woh-woh-woh-ing sound, but if you hide the mechanism under a pillow it helps.  My 3-year-old got pretty good at mimicking the sound and I would hear him doing it in his room at night while trying to fall asleep.  Ha!
  • After about 7 months of using that pump, the mechanism started to make funny sounds and occasionally would spontaneously shut off mid-pump session.  As soon as this started happening, I called Medela (you can get their info HERE) and they sent me shipping labels to send them my old pump and they overnighted me a new pump.  All free.  It was awesome.
  • If you want to establish a good supply, you will need to pump every 2-3 hours for the first 3 months – even through the night.  I know this sounds crazy, but it was a really important key to my success.  Plus, when you think about it, this is usually how a baby would be nursing during that time.  Once I got past the first 3 months, I was able to slack off a bit and let myself skip a pump or stretch some to 4 hours between pumps.  At night my routine eventually became pump at 9 pm, skip the midnight pump, then wake up at 3 am to pump.  I kept pumping at 3 am even after the Happy Baby was sleeping through the night because it is a really important pump.  Your body produces the most milk between the hours of 1-5 am, so try to pump in that window, if you can!  (I once fell asleep while pumping and woke up to a lap covered in milk.  Not kidding.)
  • The nurse I had in the hospital told me to pump for 30 minutes.  So that is what I did.  And it was LUDICROUS.  I literally spent 4 hours of my day pumping.  I later found out that 15-20 minutes is actually what is recommended/necessary for pumpers.  That is much more realistic with a busy mom’s schedule!
  • Pump for an extra 5 minutes after your milk stops flowing.  This will elicit a second let-down and tell your body to produce more milk.  Sometimes I would have 2 or even 3 let-downs in a pumping session.  At my peak, I was producing about 16+ oz of milk per session.  But once my supply evened out (after about 7 months) my average was about 7 oz per session (10-12 oz at 3 am since that was my longest stretch) – which was just what the Happy Baby needed.  If you are concerned about your milk supply, read THIS ARTICLE and if you want to understand what is normal when it comes to pumping output, please read THIS ARTICLE.  I also think that THIS ARTICLE has helpful tips for increasing your milk supply.
  • When you’re done, wait 1 minute after milk stops flowing so that it is good and empty.  You DO NOT want a clogged duct or mastitis – take it from me.  NOTE – If you’re reading this post and do happen to have the ‘m’ word (ouch, I am SO SORRY, sistah!), check out THIS ARTICLE.
  • Massage your tatas while pumping.  This really helped to stimulate let-down and milk production.  Sometimes even just shifting my position in my chair would help me produce more milk.  Squeeze those things like lemons, ladies!  Also, if I was really having a hard time getting another let-down, I would increase/decrease the suction setting for a few minutes to stimulate it before going back to the setting I was most comfortable with.  NOTE – Setting your pump to the highest suction does not always guarantee more milk (as one would think).  What it does guarantee, however, is a blood blister on your nipple.  I am not even kidding about that. #speakingfromexperience
  • You will get awesome at pumping in random places.  I pumped in public restrooms (ick), closets, on the floor while playing with my 3-year-old, in the car coming home from date nights, in the first aid station at Disney World, and I even got to be a pro at pumping while driving (you can buy one of those awesome hands-free pumping bras HERE to help with this.  I always got a giggle out of wondering what an officer might think if I ever got pulled over while I was hooked up to my pump.  I am also sure I made many a truckers’ day – or scarred them for life – when they drove past me).

pumping accessoriesCleaning/Storage

  • You will probably go a little nuts at the absurd amount of cleaning that happens for the exclusive pumper.  Just getting that out there now. :-)
  • If you can, invest in a few sets of pump parts so that you can alternate and not have to clean as often.
  • Here is a neat trick that another pumping friend shared with me that she was tipped from a gal in the La Leche League – place your pump parts in a Ziplock bag after rinsing with hot water and then put it in the fridge between pumps.  You only have to wash the parts once a day if you do this.
  • I had a system where I kept a big bowl by the sink that I filled with hot, soapy water and tossed my parts in it after pumping and rinsing them.  I also had a big bowl that I used for cleaning the bottles (I use Dr. Brown bottles).  NOTE – I noticed that if I used colored/scented dish soap, my pump parts started to smell like it (which I naturally assumed might alter the breast milk’s taste), so I began buying dish soap that was free and clear of fragrances/dyes.
  • You will want to buy a cute drying rack to help ease the pain of all the cleaning.  I used THIS ONE (2).  NOTE – Your pump parts need to be completely dry before you put them back together and use them again.  If they are still wet it messes with their performance.
  • You will also want to buy a cute bag for your pump whenever you need to go out with it (which will be always).  The cuter the better.  This will help you feel better about having to take it with you everywhere.  I had an adorable personalized bag from thirty-one (3) that worked great.
  • You will love these quick clean micro-steam bags from Medela HERE (4).  NOTE – If you are using the Medela Freestyle Pump, do NOT put the backs caps in these bags (these are the clear plastic parts that clip over the membranes to the breast shield bodies) as I found that it causes them to warp and disrupts good suction when connected to the pump.
  • You will also love these quick clean breast pump and accessory wipes found HERE (5).  I kept a thing of these in my traveling pump bag at all times.
  • DO NOT SHAKE BREAST MILK.  I read somewhere that it damages the breast milk’s composition.  If you are using a bottle of breast milk from the fridge where the fat has separated and is clinging to the side of the bottle, in order to remix the fat you will need to gently swirl the bottle around until the fat has come off.  I hope that makes sense!
  • Breast milk storage guidelines – go HERE.  For me, one of the most convenient things about breast milk is that it lasts for at least 4-6 hours at room temperature.  A nurse friend of mine said that she heard that it’s good up to 10 hours!!  I loved that I could pump, put the milk in a bottle and head out without having to put it on ice.  I also loved that I could pump at 9 pm and leave the bottle out until the Happy Baby woke up a few hours later and I didn’t have to spend time in the middle of the night trying to warm it up (the Happy Baby does NOT like cold bottles).  It was all ready!  NOTE – Even with these guidelines, I still took care to SMELL the breast milk if it had been sitting out for a few hours.  Breast milk does not have a smell, so if it didn’t smell like anything, I knew we were good to go.  You will know if it’s gone bad.  Trust me.
  • Call me crazy, but I never froze my breast milk.  I always tried to give the Happy Baby fresh, or something that I had pumped a day or two before and put in the fridge using one of these containers.  One major reason for this is because I literally cannot even remember to take meat out of the freezer in time to thaw and prepare.  I simply didn’t trust myself!  So if my milk ever went into the freezer, it never came back out.  This site and this site have some good storing and freezing tips.  **And this lady has some excellent advice on building up a breast milk freezer stash as well as a whole pumping series that I found INCREDIBLY helpful!**
  • I also created a whole Pinterest board for pumping information and articles HERE.
  • When you are ready to stop pumping, slowly start cutting back the amount of time you pump.  Then you can gradually start dropping pumps.  The first pump I dropped was that 3 am one.  Holy cow was I doing a happy dance when I got to sleep through the night for the first time in a year!  My body was so thankful it didn’t even make me get up to pee – practically a miracle!  Next to go are your mid-day pumps.  Your morning and night pumps will be the last to go.  I stopped pumping rather abruptly.  One night I just said, “That’s it!” and I put it away.  I was down to pumping twice a day before that point, so for the next 5 days I was walking around with the greatest breasts ever.  I was all like, “Move over, Dolly Parton.”  My girls finally started to settle after the 7th day of burying my pump.  And now I do not even know where my boobs went.

exclusive pumping tips and tricks at happyhomefairy.com

You will get in your own rhythm and groove if you stick with it!

If you have any questions for me, feel free to comment below.  Or if you want to toot your own horn about how much milk you are producing – join the convo! :-)  Also, if you simply want some encouragement to keep on pumping, I’d love to cheer you on!

But, as always, before you make a huge commitment like this, please make sure that you consult God and your husband first.  Marriage always needs to remain a top priority, ladies.  Sometimes I think the whole societal push to breastfeed/pump can cloud our judgement in this area and we end up neglecting our sweet men in our efforts to ‘do what’s best’.  So make sure you are doing the right thing for the entire family.  And the second things start getting stressful and you want to throw your pump in a canal or you’re exhausted or you haven’t made dinner for your family in weeks or you find yourself saying no a lot to playing with your older children because you have to pump or your intimate life with your husband is no longer existent – re-evaluate.

In the end God’s not going to ask you how long you pumped (or even if you pumped) for your baby.

What matters is how you reflected His love and joy and peace and patience in your Happy Home. :-)

Happy Extreme Pump-ing!

*This is a GREAT post to PIN now and read later should you ever need it!  See the Pinterest button below*