Hellobee

Dollhouses for Toddlers

Christmas is coming and I have been searching for a doll house for Juliet. She already has her beautiful dollhouse bookshelf her daddy made for her, but her developmental therapist has been recommending a small dollhouse for her to help with imaginative play, fine motor skills, and expressive speech. We got this little Fisher Price Laugh and Learn house toy for Juliet’s birthday and she really loves it. It has two small figures, a frog and dog, and lots of small levers and buttons to play with, all which delight Juliet while also helping her tune her fine motor skills.

Fisher Price makes a little play house and princess castle, both of which are perfect for Juliet right now. They make noises and have small places for her small fingers to explore, while also remaining safe enough for her age set.

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Mindful Parenting

When K was younger, we were gifted Mindful Monkey, Happy Panda. K is a sucker for animal books so we read it over and over, and the message eventually stuck with me! The story revolves around Panda teaching Monkey to be “mindful” in all the things that he’s doing – to focus on the task at hand (like eating, playing, sleeping, etc.) rather than thinking about yesterday or worrying about tomorrow – which is the key to true happiness, according to Panda. The illustrations are very cute, and the story is told in an accessible, relatable way for kids.

K absorbed the concept to some extent, but I’ve actually found the mindfulness mindset to be really useful in parenting! In particular, it helped me a lot in dealing with D’s health scares and struggles. When D was in the hospital, it was so easy to go in a grief spiral worrying about what the future would hold for him. It was equally scary to relive all the things we had gone through… for months I would “see” the cord prolapse, or remember how sick he was when he was helicoptered back to the NICU. Surprisingly, dealing with the day-to-day was so much easier (most of the time). There were often concrete decisions to be made, or immediate comforts to be given to D, or just the typical grind – wake up, get ready, transfer K to someone, drive to the hospital, hang around with D, drive home, feed K, go to sleep, start all over. Even on big days, when waiting for D to come out of surgery or get test results, the situation was already out of my control and so I just tried to be present for him and for Mr. Tiger. Being mindful helped to alleviate the worries, to focus on doing the things I could actually do.

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Registry for Baby #2

If we had a baby and didn’t buy anything new to prepare for her arrival, we would be fine. We have everything we really need, but since having Liam, a lot has changed and there are some new things I’d like to get if we have the funds. We likely won’t end up with everything on our wish list, but that’s ok. Wish lists are a fun way to keep track of things we would like to have, but aren’t expecting.

1) Skip Hop Diaper Clutch – I still have my Petunia Pickle Bottom Scout diaper bag that I used with Liam, and I love it because it can be used as a backpack or with a shoulder strap, but I now realize that I can use my everyday leather tote from Madewell with a little diaper clutch like this inside for shorter trips and save the big diaper bag for longer outings.

2) Dual Video Monitor - While we could just get a second camera for our old summer video monitor, it is on its last leg, so it would be nice to get a new one with two cameras. I’m not ready to stop watching Liam while he sleeps, especially when a big boy bed is on the horizon.

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Baby Deer’s Birth Story

My due date for Baby Deer was October 15th. With Little Deer I waited until I was 40 weeks and 6 days along before taking castor oil to help get things going. That worked quite well and she was born the following day at 41 weeks. I was hoping that Baby Deer might come a bit earlier, but sure enough, my due date came and went. I know it’s just as normal to deliver between 38-40 weeks as it is 40-42 weeks, but you can’t help but think of your due date as the end point sometimes. Remembering how tough the newborn days are did help take the edge off though. A few more days of getting to sleep in my cozy bed all night was alright with me, even as uncomfortable and pregnant as I was, I knew Baby Deer would be here soon.

The night of my due date I went to bed and woke up to LD crying around 2:30 AM. I checked the monitor and saw her rolling around trying to get comfy. She was laying on her book rather than her pillow, that silly girl. After a few seconds of fussing she quickly fell back asleep. Since I was already awake I got up to pee really quick then crawled right back into bed. I noticed I was having a contraction that was a bit stronger than the normal Braxton Hicks (which I’d been having a ton of for weeks). but I didn’t think too much of it. After a few minutes of laying there trying to fall back asleep, another contraction came. For the fun of it I decided to time them. By 3:15 AM I had recorded a steady pattern of contractions coming about every 6 minutes or so. Mr. Deer was sleeping out on the couch (being very sweet to give me the bed in hopes that I might sleep better), so I went out to the living room to wake him up and tell him that I thought it might be go-time.

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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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