Nurturing a Close Sibling Relationship

One of the greatest highlights of my life thus far has been to watch the relationship between my children grow. It has been a privilege to see Noelle step into her big sister role once her baby brother came along. When Jaren came along, I thought long and hard about how I wanted to encourage them to have a healthy sibling relationship. It is constantly at the forefront of my mind because I don’t believe close sibling relationships come out of pure luck. Strong families, healthy marriages, and close sibling relationships all take work.

There are no promises in life, but I have seen so many families successfully raise their children to be close and loving, that I believe it is possible to encourage, and build upon it. At the foundation of all these “strategies” is the central idea that I want to raise children people who are kind, open, considerate, and respectful. I believe those traits really strengthen relationships of all kind.

The “gentle” part is a work in progress around here…

These are some ways we’ve tried to promote sibling love between our kids:

1.  Model and encourage affection - This one is huge for us. Mr. Heels and I are really affectionate – to each other, and to our kids. In turn, they have become really affectionate with us, and to each other. We don’t just let our actions speak though, we also actively encourage affection by saying things like, “Jaren got a boo boo. Can you kiss it Noelle?”, or for no reason at all, “Jaren can you give Noelle a hug?”. Sometimes they do it all on their own, without any prompting, simply because we brought to their attention something nice the other did.  Actions, strengthened by words.

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90 Slow Cooker Recipes That Will Make Mealtime Easier

Fall is a season that screams slow cooker to me.  During the summer, the heat outweighs my desire for comfort food and one-pot simplicity, but as the temperature drops, the days shorten, and my desire for comfort food spikes, my slow cooker spends more days on our counter and significantly fewer days stashed in the cabinet.

I have a small handful of regular slow cooker meals in my rotation at home, but I know that most moms, myself included, are always looking for short cuts when it comes for dinner prep, while our families scream for variety. So I spent a long weekend scouring the internet, and guys, there are so many delicious recipes out there that look incredible. I clicked a million or so links and cherry-picked 90 of them. They all look delicious, most are fairly no-fuss, most require minimal steps before “dump ingredients in crock pot and turn on,” and most involve ingredients that you can find easily at the grocery store.

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Yumbox Panino Review

Maia from Yumbox recently sent me her newest bento box, the 4-compartment Panino. The unique features of the Yumbox include an easy-to-open latch for kids, a silicon lid that prevents leaks from each of the compartments, a removable one piece tray for easy cleaning, and adorable illustrations inside each compartment. It is dishwasher safe, BPA-free, retails for $30, and is a great bento box for kids of all ages.

I still use the original Yumbox which has 6 compartments depending on the type of lunch I’m packing, but overall I prefer the Panino’s 4 larger compartments because I pack big lunches and it gives me more versatility. The Panino also has a larger snack section (the circular section in the middle), which I love. I usually put a little treat in there, but you can also put in dips without worrying about a separate container. Charlie and Olive love the special treat and lately they’ve been asking to see what I’ve packed in their lunches every morning. They always get super excited about the treat, and it gives them something to look forward to when they’re in school.

After 4 years packing daily lunches, I can throw them together pretty quickly each morning. I follow this formula – vegetable, protein, fruit, dairy, and a snack. Here’s what I’ve been packing in our Yumbox!

boiled egg w/ salt & pepper, baby carrots, pickle, laughing cow cheese, strawberries, pasta w/ peas, yogurt covered raisins

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Mega Bloks Fast Tracks Raceway Giveaway!

Blocks are a wonderful childhood toy, and Mega Bloks were our first set because they’re large and perfect for little hands. They were definitely one of Charlie and Olive’s favorite toys! Recently they’ve come out with a new First Builders™ Fast Tracks™ Raceway that combines racing cars with Mega Bloks — two things all kids are sure to love! This would make a fantastic holiday gift, and we’re giving away 4 sets to Hellobee readers!

The tracks and blocks can be mixed and matched in all kinds of configurations your child dreams up! The set is designed for kids ages 1-5 and comes with:

  • Two mix-and-match buildable cars
  • 50 pieces, including new easy-to-build tracks and three building plates
  • Fun sticker sheet to customize your little racer’s blocks and cars
  • Compatible with all Mega Bloks First Builders sets for endless building possibilities and family fun

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You have many different ways to increase your chances of winning by entering. Good luck! 

Toys for Language Development

The best toys for developing early speech and language are those that allow children to play with language. These are toys that help kids to not only learn new words, but to use those words in meaningful ways that will help them to communicate. Open-ended toys are best; these can be used in a variety of ways over an extended period of time. This list also includes toys that mimic social situations, and that look like familiar experiences for your child (play kitchens, dolls with accessories, etc). That way, the language that is practiced during play will apply to real-life situations. Here are some of my recommendations for toys that encourage language development.

1. Puppets – Hand puppets, finger puppets — anything your child can use to get into ‘character’ and use their language.

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10 Things I Know about the Newborn Stage the 2nd Time Around

Let me start off by saying my transition into motherhood was rocky at best.  Thinking about the newborn stage would often make me shudder, as it was heavily marked by depression, anxiety, and insomnia with my first-born.  I knew with my second child things would be different, but I didn’t know how different.

With my youngest at 8 weeks

Here are 10 things I understand now about the newborn stage this time around:

1.  The days are long but the years are short.

I am still in the thick of the sleep deprivation phase.  I can’t remember the last time I slept straight through the night, and most of my thoughts revolve around sleep.  My days and my moods are affected by how much the baby sleeps, and in turn, how much I sleep.  Have I told you that I so dearly miss sleep?  With my first, each day felt like an eternity, and so you can imagine how long three months felt if I could barely get through each day.  With my second, I am still exhausted (even more so with a toddler in my care as well) , but I know this is just a stage and it too shall pass.  I know the “light at the end of the tunnel” exists, even if I can’t see it yet.  And the years fly by . . . so I am just trying to savor this stage as best as I can, even in all of my sleep-deprived glory.

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An Unexpected Sibling

Several months after Missus Scooter and I met and began a serious relationship in 2007, we found ourselves talking about children. One of the reasons why we ‘work’ is we have always more or less been on the same page. Back in those early days, we both felt that kids were inevitable but we were in no hurry and neither of us felt a huge calling to motherhood. But we did talk about how we would go about becoming pregnant when the time came. We both agreed we didn’t want the donor to “involved” as a parental figure – that was our role. But that’s basically where the similarities ended.

Back in the Day, Circa 2007

Missus Scooter had a very strong opinion that the donor should be someone we knew; someone we could look in the eye, assess his character, and not just look at statistics written on a page. A lot of “weird” people probably look fantastic on paper: 6’2”, blonde hair, athletic. Great! Oh but he won’t look you in the eye, his nose drips, and he talks to aliens. Uh oh! It was hard to disagree with her logic.

But I had my own completely opposite strong opinion on the matter: the donor had to be anonymous. The likelihood of someone we already knew whom was willing to donate with “no strings attached” seemed very low (in fact, we couldn’t think of anyone at the time). And the idea of searching for someone to meet just for the purpose of being a donor seemed awkward. How would you even do this? <Insert bad Craigslist story here>. The worst-case scenario was that at some point, the donor (and/or his significant other) would change his mind about being involved with the child. Whether legally situated or not, you’re dealing with human beings and matters of the heart – and how could you deny a man who felt a pull towards his child? Considerations were not only the donor, but his partner, family, other children. What if they wanted time with our child? What if they were the type of people we didn’t want our children around? All of it seemed messy and not worth the upside of having firsthand experience with the donor. Missus Scooter agreed that I also had valid points.

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