Anchors Aweigh : September 2018

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Our Experience Starting Daycare As A Toddler

Last night, I published a few posts over on Instastories about our experience with starting daycare as a toddler, my initial reservations, and how our son handled it. So many responded that this was something they were considering or could relate to, so I thought I would write a quick blog post on what the daycare journey has looked like for us. 

A little background on our situation: I work from home full time and have for almost 8 years. When I had our son, I took 3 months of maternity leave and then continued to work from home with my baby home with me. I did this for a year, and I credit being able to work full time with a baby at home to several things: a content baby, a strict schedule and routine that said baby had down pat, knowing how to be efficient with my time while I was working, and being willing to work after that baby went to sleep at night. 

Fast forward 14 months, and with our son only taking one nap a day at this point, there just weren't enough hours in the day to get it all done. I had a decision to make: either quit the job that gave me so much flexibility with a company that had always been wonderful to me, or start daycare. 

I didn't grow up going to daycare. My mom stayed home with my sisters and I until the youngest went to kindergarten, and I loved that, so this is what I wanted for my kids. Unfortunately, "daycare" can sometimes have a negative connotation, despite just how amazing it is for kiddos. There are people (like me) that didn't know anything about it and never wanted to explore it any further. I read the book "Bringing up Bebe" earlier this year about French parenting, and it was interesting when they talked about daycare. In France, it was a prestigious, common practice to take your kids to daycare, and moms (working and stay at home) threw elbows just to get them into a program. It's not always perceived that way in America.

A little background on my child: From day 1, he has been a mama's boy through and through. I don't just mean that he prefers me. I mean that I am his person, and when I am around, he doesn't really care to have anything to do with anyone else. He doesn't want anyone to hold him and screams when someone takes him from my arms. We had weekly playdates with friends, so he was accustomed to being around babies, but I was always there, and you can bet he never strayed more than a few feet away from me. Sounds like he's going to thrive in daycare, right? ;)


I decided to try part time daycare. At that point, our son was 14 months old. My plan was to send him for 3 hours in the morning so that I could get some work done. I only wanted to do it a couple of days a week, but my husband was adamant that we send him all 5 days for the first few weeks until he was acclimated. This just about killed me, and I won't pretend we didn't argue and fight about this fact for the entirety of those first few weeks. In hindsight, he was right, and had we not done it every day, I think it would have taken that much longer for our child to "get it". 

I dropped him off the first day, and he screamed. He cried. I cried. And I watched that clock all morning. When it was time to go pick him up, he basically collapsed in my arms and just clung to me. I thought maybe it would take him a few days to warm up. That was wrong. It took him weeks. For weeks, I left a crying baby and often picked up a crying baby. For weeks, I asked his teachers how the day went and heard "It was rough" in response. One thing I really appreciate is that his teachers didn't sugarcoat things. They told me when he had a hard day or when he cried, and I liked knowing they would shoot straight and tell me the truth. 

I wanted to throw in the towel so many times, but I had faith in my child that he could do this. He would get this. Around week 5, something clicked. He stopped crying when I dropped him off. He still leapt into my arms with joy when I picked him up, but he didn't cry anymore at drop off. His teachers said he was clapping his hands and dancing to songs. He was eating foods he had never eaten with me. He was interacting on his own with the other kids. He was having fun!


I honestly wondered if we would ever get to this point. It's been 5 months since we started daycare, and it has been amazing for both me and my child. My child has blossomed and learned things I wouldn't have even thought to teach him. He isn't as picky of an eater. He understands what it means to wait his turn and to sit at a table with his friends. As for me, it's allowed me to do my job and do it well. It's given me the gift of a little more time to get things done. It's recharged my batteries so that, when I am caring for my son, I am functioning at 100% and giving him the best version of me. 

Daycare isn't for everyone. I would never sit here and tell someone whether or not to do it. It's such a personal choice, and for many, it's not a choice at all but a necessity. But, I wanted to be honest about our experience and maybe give hope to the mamas that are currently struggling with it. My only advice is to stick with it if it's something you want to do. I wanted to throw in the towel for weeks. I didn't care about the benefits or keeping my job anymore... I just wanted my child to be happy. But, by the grace of God, I stuck with it, and I am a better mom for it now. My child is happy and thriving, and we are still the best of friends. 

And if you're wondering, my little man is still every bit of the mama's boy he always has been. He still only has eyes for me and doesn't appreciate other people holding him. It definitely hasn't hurt our relationship, to say the least... #stagefiveclingerforlife ;)

Here is a screenshot from a video of me picking him up from daycare. We both had a great morning, and we are both overjoyed to be back together.


Christ Like Love Through My Child's Eyes

Being a mom has taught me so many things. I've learned that one can function on 4 hours of sleep while still managing to keep an infant alive. I've learned privacy in the bathroom is a gift, not a right. I've learned that most tasks can be accomplished with one hand while holding your child with the other if you want them done badly enough. 

In all seriousness, motherhood has taught me more than I could have ever imagined. Most importantly, it's given me a glimpse into how much the Heavenly Father must love us. 

When Preston was about 8 months old, I laid him down on the bed. He was wiggling at this point but not yet crawling. I turned my back for 5 seconds to check the computer behind me, and the next thing I heard was a loud thud on the floor. Thud, and then instant screaming from my sweet, pudgy baby. 

I scooped him up and rushed him to the rocking chair so I could hold him. He was screaming, but I didn't see anything to immediately be concerned about, so I just held him. In that moment, I probably apologized 100 times. "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry, Mommy is so sorry, I love you so much" came out of my mouth over and over and over. He finally calmed down, and he just clung to me while time stood still. He took in deep breaths as he caught his breath from all of the crying, but he wouldn't stop clinging to me and hugging me. 

It was my job to watch Preston and completely my fault that he fell off the bed. I blamed myself, but my child forgave me instantly. He loved on me and clung to me to show me that he loved me, that he still wanted me and needed me. His love had always been, and remained, unconditional, just as Christ's love for us remains. 

In an instant, I turned my back and he fell off the bed. I think this sort of thing happens all the time, but letting my child fall off the bed on my watch was probably the guiltiest I have ever felt. I remember the feeling like it was yesterday, but my baby never held it against me. He forgave me immediately and loved me through it. This is what Christ does for us. 

Babies forgive completely and love unconditionally. The way my son loves me is the most unconditional love I have ever felt. He literally thinks I hung the moon. And yet, that love is still only a fraction compared to how deeply our Father loves us. 

Today, I hope you are reminded that you are so deeply loved and treasured by your Creator, and He loves you so much more than anything we could ever comprehend. 


A Trolls Themed Birthday Party For My Favorite 2 Year Old

My favorite roles in my life are being a wife and a mom, but just behind those two, it's being an aunt. I love being an aunt, and truth be told, my sweet nephew was the biggest driving force behind me wanting to come back to Texas for this tour. 

That handsome nephew turned 2 this week! I love playing the role of party planner, and my sister and I started planning his party months ago. His favorite movie is Trolls, so we decided that would be the theme! If you haven't watched Trolls, it's adorable and on Netflix, so go pop the popcorn and see what all the fuss is about. 


The cool thing about Trolls is that it is all about bright, bold colors. That made the decorations fun and easy! There were also a lot of ways we were able to save money while throwing this party, and I am excited to share those as well! So here are some of the decorations we decided on, how we did them, and how we saved a buck in the process. ;)

The mantle was my favorite project to work on. I wanted it to be noticeable from across the room and be bright, bold, and fun!


I created this graphic on picmonkey.com (my favorite picture editing/design website), and then I printed it at Walgreens as a poster and glued it to a foam board from The Dollar Tree so it would stand up. Walgreens always has 40% off coupons for photo products, so this project ended up costing about $7.

This project... it still haunts me in my dreams. ;) You may remember reading this blog post about my battle with the crayon art, but the finished product ended up looking exactly like I wanted it to. For the canvas, sticker letters, and crayons (I already owned the paint that I used to paint the trolls), this cost about $15.

I purchased the foam letters from Hobby Lobby, and the banner is just pictures glued onto scrapbook paper that I also purchased from Hobby Lobby.


If I haven't talked about my obsession with The Dollar Tree lately, I'll do it now. It is AMAZING what you can get for $1. A good portion of the party supplies came from The Dollar Tree, including these paper lanterns. They were 2/$1, and I just taped them around the edges of counters to add a fun pop of color. Easy peasy. 


When we decided on Trolls as the theme, I knew I wanted to do a big balloon arch. I knew there was a 50/50 chance of me royally screwing this up, but it was worth trying, and I am happy to report that it was pretty straight forward! I took a long piece of twine and just tied balloons to it. I already had the twine from a previous project, and I purchased the balloons in packs of 25 at The Dollar Tree. This project cost less than $5 but made a big statement when you walked in the room. 


And now for the food... the real reason we have parties. The food was colorful, delicious, and had zero calories (okay, that last part is a lie, but the rest was true). We decided what we were going to serve and then created Trolls-themed labels for each item. 




I created the labels using picmonkey.com, printed them out, and glued them to the leftover scrapbook paper from the banner on the mantle.


The cake was purchased at HEB, and my sister purchased little Trolls characters to stick on top of it. The Happy Birthday candles came from The Dollar Tree. 


The party favors for the kiddos consisted of bubbles (3/$1) from The Dollar Tree, little whistles (a pack of 8/$1), and goodies from this Trolls party favor bundle on Amazon. In total, it cost about $13 for 9 goodie bags. 


All in all, I think it was a really successful party. The kids had fun, the adults enjoyed himself, and my favorite little nephew turned the big 0-2! Happy birthday, little man. You are so loved!


Life Lately

Happy Wednesday! I thought I would take today to share a quick little update of what life looks like in our neck of the woods. It's not glamorous, but it sure is fun. These are the days of toddler giggles, playing outside, and even a date night sprinkled in the mix (what what!). 

So here's life lately...

I like to let Preston walk through the toy aisles at Walmart, which usually consists of him pointing to all the balls. On this day, he carefully picked up and balanced 2 balls in his arms and was so proud of himself. So cute!


I should write a blog post called "What Parker thought we needed from Amazon today". The latest was this giant golf net. We obviously needed that eye sore in the backyard, right?


One of our favorite summer activities has been to go to the aquarium as a family! It's fun for parents and toddlers, so win win!


We snuck out for a date night! And of course, it was dinner and a movie because we don't know how to do anything else. And we love it. We saw Crazy Rich Asians, and it was so cute! I didn't read the book but now wish I would have. Parker loved it too!


When Parker has to work late, I like to take the little one on special dinner dates just the two of us. I love our little time together, and he loves fortune cookies. ;)


I snapped this picture on a run the other day... it's starting to look like Fall!


Jenny and Sully have grown up together. Sully is my twin sister's dog, and what used to be constant playing and wrestling has turned into laying around and happily coexisting. They may be getting older, but they sure are cute together.


I can't look at this picture and not sing the Gilmore Girls theme song "Where you lead, I will follow...". Just another day in paradise.


That's life lately! It's so wonderfully ordinary, but I will look back on this stage and miss it so fiercely. I am loving every minute of life right now... even the exhausting minutes, of which there are plenty. ;)

Mom Meals: 10 Minute Gyros

I am excited to announce a new mini series on this blog called Mom Meals! I have always loved cooking and took pride on serving my husband a fresh, warm meal most nights. Remember that Recipes tab of mine filled with yummy recipes? As much as I still want to do that, being a mom to a toddler makes that fairly difficult. I do as much meal prep as I can during nap time, but all too often I am caught grabbing that frozen pizza from the freezer at 6 PM because I have a toddler clinging to me and no other choice. 

I started this series as a way to share shortcuts to my favorite meals that I have easily been able to apply to my momtastic lifestyle. Obviously it's not just moms that can benefit from quick weeknight meals: everyone is busy, so I hope these 10 minute shortcuts will help you as much as they have helped me!

This first Mom Meal is for gyros. It's fresh, healthy, delicious, and can be on the table in 10 minutes. The original recipe took me 30-40 minutes, but my simplified version takes me 10 and is really just as tasty. 



Before we get started, here are the changes I made:

1. I bought Tzatziki sauce from the store instead of making my own 
2. I used frozen meatballs rather than making them from scratch
3. I chopped my veggies ahead of time

Ingredients:

Naan (located near the bakery)
Frozen turkey meatballs
Tzatziki sauce
Diced tomatoes
Sliced red onion
Diced cucumber


Directions: 

1. Bake your meatballs in the oven according to the package instructions. If you're really in a pinch, just stick them in the microwave and heat them that way. 
2. Lightly toast your naan in the toaster just to get it warm. 
3. Chop your tomatoes, red onion, and cucumber. 
4. Assemble your gyros. Spread Tzatziki across a piece of Naan, add meatballs, and top with veggies. 



Serve and enjoy! We love gyros and make this healthy, quick version often around here!


Family Lake Trip 2018

We were given the rare gift from the Navy powers that be and got to take an entire week of vacation this past week! We high tailed it to Dallas to spend time with Parker's family and visit their new lake house for the first time. We had so much fun!

Parker grew up going to the lake every year, similarly to how I grew up going to the beach every year. He has really special memories at the lake, and now we are both excited for Preston to get to make memories there. Pres is a typical boy and would live outside if we let him, so the lake life really suited him.


Here are a few highlights from the trip!

We spent a couple of days at Parker's parents house before heading to the lake, so morning walks together were a daily thing. I looked over, and Preston was holding his grandfather's hand. So sweet. 


Two of our good friends had their baby while we were in town, so we got to go see them! Their baby boy is just perfect and gave us all the newborn baby fever!



The next day, we took off for the lake! Our outdoor-loving boy loved every minute of it! He is walking to the boat with Lolli (Parker's mom) here. He hated that life jacket but safety first.


Jenny loves boats. Preston loves land. That's what I gathered after this sunset boat ride.



Three generations of Phelps boys!


I caption this picture "when the rest of the family wants to go into the water but your child prefers the land"... we had our own little private beach date.


Driving the car with Lolli and Pops!


Parker and I were excited to get away for a morning and bike around the lake. I hadn't biked in a while but used to bike around our city during my college summers. This was a 9 mile bike ride, so it sounded like no big deal, right? Wrong! It was about an hour of hills and kicked my little rear end. Parker thinks there was something wrong with my bike, but I am probably just a wuss. Either way, an hour of biking up hills was fun... but not something I will do next time we are there. ;)


Mid bike ride: hanging in there and enjoying the views.


Post ride: over. it.


We caught up to this little ham who was very much in his element and would swing all day if we let him.


After spending a few days at the lake, we headed back to Dallas to play and hang out with the extended family. We took Preston to a little indoor play place, and it was adorable. They don't have this stuff in the small town we live in, so we took full advantage while we were away!


Life size light brite! The 90s kid in me was smiling from ear to ear watching my kid play with this.


We ended the trip by staying the night with my grandparents before heading back to Kingsville. They are two of my favorite people, and Preston has really bonded with them too, so I just love our little visits. I could have stayed another week with them, but it was back to Kingsville we go!



Parker, Preston, Jenny, and I had a wonderful time catching up with family and experiencing the lake as a family! Until next time...

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