s

Dear Mushka,

Our Family Trip to 30A

Our Family Trip to 30A

I've been vacationing to Florida basically every year since I was little. My family used to do Destin or Panama City, and now we go with Robert's family to the "30A" strip of beaches that runs in between those two big cities.

It's such a fun area- packed with good places to eat, bike paths for traveling the few miles between beach after beach, and lots of memories. 

The boys (ages 4, 2, 3 months) did so well in the car! We left early in the morning when we knew our youngest would be most apt to take a good nap. For the other two, I packed them each a "car bag" with a few car activities and snacks. We also checked out library books that they weren't allowed to look at until we were traveling. (The bags also had a change of clothes inside because #reallife). After they enjoyed the car activities for a few hours, they were allowed to watch a movie on the iPad.

A few things in their bags: 

This, this, this (non messy creativity), and this

Our condo room (here!) wasn't ready when we got there so we spent a few hours at The Hub. It's a really cool area, with lots of walk-up places to grab food, comfy seating, shopping, and most importantly astroturf for wiggly kids to run around on. We got lunch, ice cream, and lots of energy out! 

Everyday, we ate breakfast and hung out in the condo for a few hours while our littlest guy took a morning nap. Then we headed to the beach for a few hours, where we spent the majority of the time in the ocean... and eating snacks/lunch. Around 1, we'd come inside for naps/ quiet time. Robert got a few hours of work in and I enjoyed reading (and napping, too!) Then, more beach time until the boys were absolutely ready for bed. 6:30pm on the beach is the best time, we didn't want to miss it! 

I packed the boys' lunches and dinners in these boxes to make mealtimes easy. I didn't cook dinner once- they loved eating sandwiches, fruit, and goldfish on the beach every day. 

Robert and I went out twice (below) and otherwise ate simple foods, too. It was really nice to take a cooking break for a week :)

We were there over the 4th of July, which is fun. Almost every beach from Destin to Panama City has their own firework show so you can sit on the beach (or condo patio) and watch them all go off. Individuals do their own shows on the beach, too! 

On my birthday, Robert and I went on a date to la Crema- it's an excellent tapas and chocolates restaurant in Rosemary Beach. I'm already excited to go back next year ha! Another night, we went out with family to George's. It gets really crowded, especially towards the end of the week, so plan to go early! 



On the last night, we played in the ocean until everyone was completely prune-y and ate pizza on the beach. 

It was such a special week, and proof that you can travel (albeit, just a few states away) with three little children. Of course, we were all exhausted at the end but memories were made and we loved being together for a solid week!

Our Goals for Summer

Our Goals for Summer

Every Summer, I choose a few skill activities for each of my children to work on and a heart "theme" for us to focus on as a family. This helps keeps me intentional as I mother and also gives direction to our days. 

Here's what this Summer looks like: 

Skill Activities for my boys

Do a puzzle alone and with joy 

Be able to "read" quietly for 20 minutes (snacks help this)

Write all letters (for my 4 year old, just something to work towards)

Put shoes on and off by himself (for my 2 year old)

Ride bike without training wheels (for my 4 year old... check!)

Swim without floats (for my 4 year old)

Learn to use words before screaming (for my 2 year old, ha!)

 

Heart Focus for our family: Prayer! 

We're memorizing The Lord's Prayer (to the tune of Barney's "I love you") and spending meal times talking about what the words mean. 

We're also learning to be quick to ask for God's help as we exhibit fruits of the Spirit, trusting in His capabilities instead of our own (failing) strength. 

We reference this art print frequently, which also helps the boys learn their letters. I'll say "which fruit should we pray for in this scenario with your brother" and one of them will say "love!" or whatever and then they'll find it on the print and maybe even write out the word or trace it. 

These are simple goals, but they're effective and so helpful as we long to make Christ's name great in our home and beyond. 

How we meal plan (and your ideas, too!)

How we meal plan (and your ideas, too!)

Over the years, I've found that meal planning is easiest for my family when I choose a theme for each night of the week. It limits my choices, preventing me from decision fatigue, and also lets my family know what to expect. 

This Summer, our schedule looks like this: 

M: Grill Night- usually chicken or steak with veggies and brown rice 

T: Mexican Night- tacos, quesadillas, burrito bowls with chips and salsa or guacamole, rice, and/or a corn dish 

W: Pasta Night- spaghetti or some other pasta with added chicken and a salad

Th: Breakfast Night- eggs, bacon, and waffles, biscuits, french toast, etc

F: Leftovers or Pizza

S: Out- either our date night or a family night to chipotle

S: Hotdogs from church. Alternative is sandwiches. 

As the seasons change, we'll adjust this to be more appropriate!

·

I asked you all on Instagram for some other night themes; here's a big list for us to all reference!

  • Grill 
  • Mexican
  • Pasta
  • Italian
  • Breakfast
  • Leftovers
  • Pizza
  • Sandwiches
  • Salad
  • One Sheet Pan
  • Crock Pot/ Instant Pot
  • Soup
  • Casserole
  • Asian
  • Bowl Dinner
  • Fish
  • Panini
  • Baked Potato Bar
  • Meatless Meal
  • "Hodge Podge" where you throw it all together from what you have
  • Charcuterie Board (meat, cheese, fruit, nuts, veggies) on a warm night! 
  • Different ethnicity every week to teach children about a different culture 

Sleep Training (and a Snoo Review)

Sleep Training (and a Snoo Review)

I frequently get asked how I run a small business and have little children; one of my most common responses is that we sleep train. By that I mean, early on we help our children learn how to fall asleep in their own beds at specific times of day. 

The two books I have used to help me learn are Baby Wise & Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. I've referenced them time and time again with all three of our boys! If you don't have them, I highly recommend. I also hear Taking Cara Babies is an excellent resource. 

Here are things we do: 

1. Right away, we begin helping our child learn to eat every three hours. At the beginning, they may need to eat every 2-2.5 hours. That's okay! But slowly, we begin to implement a 3 hour feeding schedule. 

For us, it's 7:00am, 10:00am, 1:00pm, 4:00pm, 7:00pm, 10:00pm (and the nighttime feedings as they wake up). 

This is important for two reasons. First, it helps them get enough food in during the day. We know they're getting x amount of ounces every three hours; eventually their full bellies allow them to drop nighttime feedings. Second, it keeps them from sleeping longer than 3 hours at a time. This helps them learn that days are for naps, nights are for longer stretches of sleep. 

2. We work on an eat-play-sleep routine. This helps them learn to fall asleep on their own instead of by being fed every time. When they're itty bitty, this is hard! Sometimes they fall asleep and there's nothing you can do. But day by day, we feed them, "play" (change their diaper, bath, tummy time, quality time with mama, etc), and then lay them down for a nap as soon as they begin to yawn. 

It's also helpful because it takes the guess work out of what they need. If they ate three hours ago and are crying, they're hungry. If they've been awake over an hour and start to fuss, it's probably because they're tired. 

3. We prioritize good naps. Most babies need 1.5-2 hour naps between feedings (until 3-4 months of age when they begin to establish a morning nap and an afternoon nap or two). This is important because sleep begets sleep with little ones- if they're overly tired, they won't nap well during the day or sleep well at night. 

Between 4-6 weeks of age, we begin helping them learn to fall asleep in their own bed. So they eat, "play", and then get swaddled for a nap around an hour after they last woke up. 

At the beginning, some babies have a hard time falling asleep without you nearby. If this is the case (and it has been to some extent for all three of our boys) we use a mild "cry it out" method. We lay them down drowsy but awake. If they cry, we let them do so for 10 minutes and then come in to rub their back, burp them, and try again. At the beginning, you may spend a whole nap time block doing this but don't worry- they'll get it soon! 

They also may fall asleep quickly but wake up after a 45 minute nap- especially when the morning and afternoon nap is established (which can be longer than a 6 week old's nap). This is common because babies have 45 minute sleep cycles. They have to put themselves back to sleep for a full nap! We use the same 10 minute technique here, too.

Our oldest son was particularly stubborn here, but I knew he needed more sleep because he was waking up crying instead of happy. At 4 months, we let him cry for 30 minutes to learn to put himself back to sleep. It felt like the longest three days as I listened to him cry, but he learned quickly and begin sleeping for 2 hours + waking up so happy! 

4. We establish a consistent wake up time. For us, it's 7:00am. This is important because is sets up the rest of your day's schedule. If you start your day differently every day, you're constantly doing the math to see when they need to eat next. That's chaotic and stressful! The goal is less work, not more. It also helps their biological clocks learn when your family wakes up in the morning.

Sometimes you have to do a little finagling when they're still waking up in the night. For example, if our 6 week old wakes up to eat at 5:00am, technically he wouldn't be ready to eat again until 8:00am. Instead, I wake him up at 7:00am; if he doesn't take a full feeding that's okay. We're still back on schedule and ready to begin our day.

Alternatively, if he wakes up at 6:15am and seems wide awake, I may count that as our first feeding of the day and see if he can wait until 9:30 to eat again (instead of 9:15 or 10:00). At the next feeding, he may make it to 1:00, which puts us back on schedule, too. 

5. We pray. Because books and method are good, but only God knows what our children need. He promises to bring us counsel (Psalm 32:8), and longs to have us rely on Him for everything. Parenting is no different!

---

We decided to try The Snoo, normally $1,300, when I learned you could rent it for about $3.50 a day. It's basically a smart swing + sound machine with a built in swaddle, doing 3 of the 5 "S's" for you. While it isn't a miracle worker, I do think it has been worth every penny this third time around. It has served as an extra set of hands, I think, essentially being the one to check in on him every ten minutes as he learns to nap or fall back asleep after a nighttime feeding. 

If we were at the beginning stages of having children, I'd find the money to buy one. We've been really pleased! You use it for around 6 months and then use the weaning feature (if necessary) to help them transition to a crib. 

Quiet Time as a Christian Mother with a Newborn

Quiet Time as a Christian Mother with a Newborn

I’ve previously talked about my quiet time with God and how I memorize scripture but this looks difference when you have a newborn baby, of course.

I personally thrive with structure and am a very organized person, this is how I normally do things, but a newborn changes it all! You’re exhausted, can’t process what you’re reading, your arms are always full and you’re just extra busy.

4 things I do during this season with a newborn:

Grace Grace Grace

The first thing I do is give myself grace. The first 6-8 weeks with a newborn I expect very little from myself in all areas of life. My routines and life in general looks very different. After that initial 8 weeks the baby gets their days and nights pretty much figured out - usually! My boys usually had a 7pm bedtime by then which changes everything.

For those first 8 weeks with a newborn just know it’s okay if this time looks very different than how you want it to look or to how it looked before. Give yourself grace!

I feel like this time helps you establish a dependence of the Lord which is so crucial to motherhood! Even if all you’re saying is help. This quiet time is not the goal - a relationship with God is the goal. Use this season to humble yourself and come to the throne of grace.

Pray!

Use this time to pray. It’s a wonderful way to use your time when you can’t do much else. Often I’m just stuck in a chair knowing that if I move Cru will wake up, so there I am just sitting by myself. I use this time to pray.

My thought wander more than normal because I’m tired but it always deepens my prayer. I’ve talked about prayer a lot in my IG Highlights but one thing that helps me is having a prayer topic for every day of the week.

You could just take a post-it note and write something quickly: Monday - Children; Tuesday - Spouse; Wednesday - Friends; etc. Whatever the focus in your life is. It does not need to be fancy.  You just need the reminders to help you focus your thoughts for prayer when you’re pacing a room at 2am.

Stick to your Bible reading plan as best you can

Again, give yourself grace with this and do the best you can. I’m currently reading through the Bible chronologically and during this season I’ll usually just pull it up on my phone or listen. I’ve also missed many days and just skip them so I don’t feel overwhelmed to catch up.

I trust that His words are getting rooted in me even when I’m not putting a lot of study behind them. Isaiah 55:11 says God’s words don’t go out void. So growth can happen even when we’re foggy as we read!

I also enjoy praying John Piper’s IOUS before I read my Bible and praying for God’s help before reading is crucial for me.

Memorize or Meditate

I also use this time to memorize scripture or meditate on a passage or chapter or verse. Whatever it looks like for you! It’s a good way to use your quiet time and I’ve memorized on chapter with each of my newborns! I’m currently working on Psalm 34 with baby Cru.

Focusing my thoughts here is hard, but it’s so beneficial. It may be the only time in the word I get and I need that! You can also choose to get meditate and repeat one verse for your newborn season.

One verse that has been such a comfort to me during this time is paired with our Servant Necklace and it reflects that idea that I can serve because of Jesus’ example and the power of the Holy Spirit. I wear this necklace daily during this season to serve as a reminder and have the corresponding verse card taped to my bathroom.

I hope these were helpful reminders and that you know that you are not alone. The newborn season is hard! Remember that this is a short season and that in 8 weeks things will begin looking differently again.

  • Page 1 of 4
  • Page 1 of 4