Adventuring, Photography, Toddler Fashion

Spring colors galore.

img_8026If there’s one thing that the deep dark Chicagoland winters bring, it’s gorgeous spring colors.  Penny and I ventured out to Cantigny Park on a bright spring day to try and capture some of the amazing blooms that appear almost overnight this time of year.  The entire place smelled of spring and made both of us want to prance around.  Ok, maybe just Penny.  I followed from afar and snapped the prancing.

She has taken to galloping around lately rather than walking.  I’m not sure if she’s pretending to be a horse or some other animal, but she is in full on imagination mode.

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And when we can find tree branches that are low enough for her to climb and pretend to be like her brothers, the more the better!  Adventure is a high priority for us.  We have too many days filled with the “have to’s” and “ought to’s” that we all have to make time for prancing and meandering and exploring and climbing and adventuring.  Life is the best on those days.  Full of free spirits and sunshine.

And Penny loves to bring her friends.  Elsa is a special friend and her presence almost always results in spontaneous “Let it Go” serenades in the tiny little toddler voice with only maybe a quarter of the words actually present.  But a lot of dramatic arm movements, to be sure.

The other thing we never leave the house without it our Twist Shake Baby cups.  They never leak or spill and are big enough to keep this thirsty babe hydrated on all of our adventures.  The sippies are especially great because I add frozen fruit to keep it cool and give the water some flavor and the fruit mixer keeps the fruit on the bottom instead of clogging the spout.

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In these photos, Penny is wearing a bow from Erinn and Lou, a romper from Rhett Tucker One of a Kind, moccasins from Amuse Leather Co.

Her Elsa doll is from Dandelion Attic.

Parenting

Kid dates.

Dating your kid.  I don’t remember this ever being a concept when I was younger.  Occasionally, either my mom or my dad would take me out somewhere without my sister.  We’d go shopping maybe, or to grab a bite to eat between errands or after a sports event, but rarely with the intention of just being or talking together.

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In our current parenting culture, intentionality is a buzzword.  Every word we speak to our kids, every activity we plan, every book we read to them, every game we play, the rules we set, all pre-planned and thought through to make the most of the moment.  That can be very, very good.  Intentionality does breed purpose, productivity,  consistency, and a predictable household where the child knows what is expected.  That expectation is really important because children build their internal “rules” about life as they develop from what they experience.  If affection is giving broadly, consistently, and without contingency, kids are going to grow up knowing they are loved despite the occasionally necessary punishment.  That’s where kid dates come in.

Leaving things to chance often results in misspent time, hurt feelings, and lack of communication.  Being intentional in reality does mean planning and forethought, but it doesn’t have to be hard.  Plan to have dates with your kid, one on one, somewhere that they want to go.

That means actually writing it down in your calendar beforehand.

I just started bullet journaling, which is a whole other story, but I write down (and add it to my phone calendar) when I’m going to take my kids out.  With my oldest, who is 8, we often go to the library and work together.  Starbucks is a necessary stop on the way there.  We find a quiet corner, sometimes working, sometimes chatting, sometimes reading together.  The middle kid, who is 7, loves to go shopping with me.  It doesn’t matter what we’re buying or who we’re buying it for.  Target, Costco, the mall, the grocery store, whatever.  We catch up on which kid has the coolest nerf weapons and what he did at soccer practice the day before and why he thinks he needs yet another pair of shoes (it doesn’t take much convincing on my end). The baby girl pretty much loves any time she gets to spend with me and since she’s too young at this point for full conversations, we usually trek out with the camera to find fabulous new spots, like this coffee shop in our neighborhood that serves purple sweet potato donuts covered in chopped coconut.  Dream.

I try to take each of them out at least once a month.  Sometimes life is busy and it’s a 20 minute date.  Sometimes we are way more flexible and can swing an hour or more out together on a Sunday afternoon.  The point is not in the amount of time.  The point is making my kids individually feel important, heard, looked at, and considered.

I love this concept because my love language is quality time.  I never feel more special than when my husband plans a date for me and tells me to mark the time off in my calendar to be spent just with him.  I think my kids feel the same way.  They may not have the same love language, but I know that all kids love getting one on one time with mom (and dad).  And when kids feel loved, they’re so much more receptive to all the other “intentionality” that you want to throw at them (for me that’s those little lectures that get sprinkled in about why we have certain values, why we treat people certain ways, why it’s important to do homework, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.).

 

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It’s hard to start a new habit.  But can I encourage you?  I promise it’s easier than it sounds.  And if you start small it’s extra easy.  Plus…donuts can be involved.  And that’s never a bad thing.

 

In these photos, Penny is wearing… a leotard from Leotudes (use code PENNYSTUDE to save),  suspender bloomers from Peace Love Snugs (use code PENNY15 to save), socks from Ten Wittle Piggies, shoes from Duchess and Fox, and our Anna doll is from Dandelion Attic (use code PENNY15 to save).

Parenting

By way of introductions…

Hi. I’m new here.  So are you, it seems, and introductions are in order.  I’m Sarah.  I am and have been a lot of things in my thirty odd years on this planet.  The impetus for this blog in particular, though, is my being a mother to a daughter.  The youngest of my three children, Penny, arrived about a year and a half ago and was, shockingly, a girl.  Having already birthed two boys, I was convinced that the third would be alike in gender.  But the pronouncement from the ultra-sound tech that our youngest child was, in fact, of my ilk, sort of rocked my world.  It was an almost immediate impression of, wow, I now have to be THE example for this tiny person.

I come from a family of only daughters and had parents who always told me I could do all of the things.  Girl power was not overt but definitely present.  However, when I thought about raising my own girl, so many questions without answers went swirling through my brain.  How do I make sure she’s confident without being bossy (or another not so nice word for that…)?  How do I promote beauty without fixation?  How do I share my goals and desires while also respecting hers?  How do I encourage her to try all the things and help her not be afraid to fail?

See, raising girls is different than raising boys.  No less important to be sure, but as a woman who was once a girl, I’ve experienced all the negatives that can come from being my gender and I want to help my daughter avoid as many of those as possible.  My dreams for her include embracing her brains before her beauty, but still exploring her style and looking amazing; stretching her wings so far to achieve the big dreams, but also being realistic about her strengths and giftings; being vulnerable with herself to feel the big feelings, but not be overwhelmed by them; not letting herself fall into the trap of defining her world by a man, but still loving the men in her world well; caring for herself so that she doesn’t forget herself in care of others, but making serving others a priority too.  This is the dichotomy of being a girl, right?  And especially a girl who has all the big dreams and big goals for all the things.

So being confronted with raising a girl and having a bent towards wanting to express myself through both words and pictures, I decided to share some of myself and my journey as a mother here.  Essentially, how to raise a beautiful girl who is not just a pretty girl, but ever so much more.  Thanks for joining me in the journey.

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Penny.

In these images, Penny and I are wearing Mommy and Me Sweetheart sets from Hen House Apparel.  You can save 20% using code PENNY20.  Penny is also wearing a bow from Prairie Blooms Boutique.