Friday, May 29, 2015

Is there such thing as a "normal" Family {#StreamTeam #Netflix}

Thank you to Netflix for sponsoring this post. As part of the Stream Team I get to talk about a theme each month.  This month's theme is on Family.  Here are some of my thoughts on families:

Families don't look like they used to.  The Husband-wife-2.5 kids family is not the usual thing now.  The Cleavers are no longer the norm.  The once traditional “nuclear” family has evolved into a kaleidoscope of possibilities.  There are so many ways that families come together.  Parents can have: biological kids, adopted kids, foster kids and step kids.  Some families have all of the above!  Multicultural families and blended families are happening more and more.  And with all this complexity it is hard to know how to be a successful parent.

As parents we are may be dealing with things we never planed on.  I mean, Elementary school kids pretending to play "house" do not often have step kids in their stories?  And thanks to a lot of children's movies a step -mom is a horrible mean lady out to get you.  Yet, there are a lot of nice people out there being step parents. And if you don't have any step-kids of your own I am sure you are connected to some.  My niece and nephew are now step kids.

Jeannine (co-author of this blog and my best friend) has a family that includes a step-daughter, 2 biological kids and 2 kids adopted out of foster care.  They are a multiracial blended family.  And it is a beautiful family.  But it is not without it's difficulties.

My family is not what my childhood self thought it would look like.  I thought I would have kids that would look like me.  I look almost exactly like my mom.  Like,  my mom's high school friends were confused when they came for a High School reunion one year. But my kids, very obviously, don't look like me... they are from Korea (and I not).  My family was formed through adoption.  And since we choose to do international adoption we now have a multiracial family. I was not present at their births, some one else took care of them for the first 9 months of their life.  My kids life started with loss, loss of a parents and a culture.  We try to include as much Korean culture as we can but it is not the same as living there.  When I show up for conferences at my kids school the teachers are sometime confused which kid I belong to.  All of this adds complexity to our family.  We did take some classes on multiracial families from our adoption agency and it did help up get an idea of what we were getting into, but I don't think any class could prepare us for what it truly is like.

And is true for all families.  Many families have biological kids and one of them has special needs.  Or one of them has behavior problems that they don't know how to handle, or mental health issues.  I don't think anyone is prepared for that and it is not covered in our birthing classes!

So what do parents need these day to help get us get through these complex issues?  I believe it is support.

I am part of an adoption moms groups that meets once a month just to encourage and support each other.   We all come from different walks with adoption, some have adopted domestically, some internationally, some through foster care.  Some kids came to us  days old and some kids came to us years old.  But we are all there to love and support each other.  We talk about the hard things and get advice without judgment.

And since Jeannine and I both have complex families we talk to each other about the hard and sometimes ugly things of parenting.  I am so grateful for this friendship and that my kids can see other family that were formed unconventionally.

We have to find our support and we have to be support to others.  It is the only way we can thrive in this very difficult role of parents.

It is also great that more complex families are showing up on movies and tv shows.  We love Netflix for our TV watching!  Some of the shows that we like for our kids are:

Sophia the First (Blended family)
Spy Kids 4 (Blended family)
Word girl (she is adopted)
Jessie (3 out of the 4 kids are adopted)
The Tigger Movie (Finding where you belong if you don't look like everyone else)

*Disclosure: I am part of the Netflix Stream team.  However all opinions are 100% honest! 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Personalized Photo Teacher Thank You Card

The end of the school year is fast approaching, and if you are a mom with kids in school, you know exactly how busy this time of year can be. End of year parties, field trips, dance recitals, summer sports try outs, graduations, proms, the list goes on and on. 

One of the most important things for me to do at the end of the school year is to show all my kids’ teachers some love. When I look my kids and see how much they've grown and how much they've learned, I know I have their teachers to thank for so much of it. There are so many beautiful teacher-thank-you ideas on Pinterest, but they can be hard for me because with 5 busy kids at this time of year I don’t have a lot of time or money to spend on extravagant crafts and gifts. 

Here is something I adapted from this Pinterest post, which is adorable, but I wasn't feeling the sidewalk chalk today. It's sweet, fairly simple, and didn't cost me anything except ink and paper that I already have in my office. I included a coffee shop gift card with it. 

All you need is a camera and a computer. I used Microsoft Paint to draw the flower and Photoshop Elements to merge the pictures together. If you have other programs, you might be able to figure out a similar method.

Step 1: Take a picture of your child. You want to use a background that contrasts with his or her clothing, hair, and skin. If you have a green screen that would be great, otherwise just a plain wall works too. My son is dark so the white garage door was my background.

Step 2: Open Microsoft Paint on your computer, draw your picture. I used the thin brush to outline the pot, flower, and leaf, then used the fill bucket to easily fill in all the spaces. Make sure your lines are all closed up! I don’t have much experience drawing in Paint, hopefully your artwork is a little better than mine! I had to redo it a couple times. Add a text box with your message, “Dear Teacher, Thanks for helping me grow, ~ Student”. Save as a JPEG.
{An alternative would be to manually draw the picture with crayons, markers, etc, and then use your camera or scanner to upload it to your computer}

Step 3: Open your photo in Photoshop Elements. Using the image extractor, cut out your child’s body from the image (This video shows you two different ways to extract the image in PSE. I used the second method. If you're not using PSE, you'll have to Google it). I recommend saving this as a separate JPEG just in case you lose it. 

Step 4: Open your Paint drawing in PSE, crop to size 8x10.

Step 5: Drag and drop the photo of your child onto of the flower drawing, creating a 2nd layer, then using the arrow tool on the left, resize the image to fit where it belongs.

Step 6: Save as a JPEG and print! If your printer isn't great, you could have it printed somewhere locally, many places offer inexpensive 1-hour printing for small prints.  

There you go! A quick and easy Thank You card for your child's teacher. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Not every Party needs to be Pinterest perfect!

Ok- lets talk birthday parties!  It's so easy to look on Pinterest and think that every party you throw has to look like this or it is a failure:
Don't get me wrong - this party is beautiful and there is nothing wrong with having a pretty party. I am just saying that in real life, not all my parties are worthy of being on Pinterest.  And just because my parties don't have fancy-pants decor and photos doesn't mean that my kids didn't have fun! And I have done the big themed parties and over done it on the actives (check out my Buzz Lightyear Party and my Princess party).  I am just saying that not every party you throw has to be a big deal. 

We celebrate birthdays around here, but to simplify things we do an every other year party.  On the off year we have the kids invite a friend or 2 to do something fun with them.  

This year my son turned 7 and he wanted to go to a movie with a friend.  So that is what we did.  We invited a friend over and went to a movie, had some snacks at the movie and then dropped his friend off at home:
Fun was had by all and I spent less then half the money!  And I didn't really have to plan that much, we picked a movie and invited a friend.  

Our Daughter turned 5 this year and she wanted to make a craft.  So we invited a couple friend to go to a craft store (A super cute on in Minneapolis called Heartfelt- if you are in the area you have to try it)  Heartfelt has "ready to make" crafts you can just drop in and make anytime.  So that made it super easy, I didn't have to make an appointment and rush to make it on time - just show up when we get there and the pick a craft.  I brought the girls (and my son tagged along) and we crafted for about and hour and then we dropped her friends off at home.  Again it was little planning but still super special and fun.

And I have to say that her felt blossom tree turned out so cute! 
And we spent less then half the money on this one too. 

So I am not saying that it is bad or a waste of time throwing a big themed party with beautiful decor... I am just saying, maybe not everyone has to do that... or maybe you don't have to do that every year.  Give yourself permission to enjoy a party that may never end up on Pinterest!  

And I see the irony of this because I will probably pin this! :) 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Teacher Appreciation/End of the Year Teacher Gift

For Teacher Appreciation week, I though hard about what a teacher would really want as a gift.  I could have made something cute or got a gift card (both are good options) but I remember that when I was a teacher the end of the year was tough... it made me question if I even wanted to be a teacher the next year.  Standardized testing combined with crazy kids is enough to drive any one into madness! :)

So I thought I would like to be told I was doing a good job and that my students (and parents of those students) appreciated all the work I had done.   So I decided to make a video for my kids teachers.  So they could watch it any time they needed a reminder that they are GREAT!  This also works great as an end of the year gift so you still have time to make one!

I came up with some questions, some silly some more serious, all about the teachers.  Since my daughter was in preschool (and therefor has several teachers) and my son is in 1st grade and has one main teacher I came up with different questions for each kid.

Elementary questions:
Why do you think [enter Teacher Name here] became a teacher?
What do you think [enter Teacher Name here] does when she is not at school?
What is your favorite thing about [enter Teacher Name here]?
What is your favorite part of being in [enter Teacher Name here]'s class room?
If [enter Teacher Name here] was not a teacher, what job do you think she would do?
Tell me what makes [enter Teacher Name here] special.

Preschool questions:
Tell me what you love about your teachers.
Tell me about your class room.
What is your favorite part about your school.

Here are the videos:


I just video-ed the kid on my phone and then used imovie (on my mac) to edit them.. uploaded them to youtube and sent the links to the teachers.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Egg Salad Sandwich in a jar (recipe)

I don't know what it is about spring and summer but it screams for salads.  It also makes me want to eat cute food.  Like in a jar cute food!  What about you? 

Here is what you will need to do to make your own:
1. Gather ingredients: 1 piece of bread, 2 hard boiled eggs, 1 teaspoon mustard, 2 tablespoons mayo, 1 teaspoon sugar, and 1-2 green onions diced.
2. Toast your bread and cut into cubes.
3. Peal your eggs and dice them up.
4. Combine all ingredients (except the bread) into a bowl and mix together. 
5. Layer your Jar with the bread cubes first, then add the egg salad on top, then more bread cubes, another layer of egg salad, and top off with more bread cubes. 

Simple and yummy!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

#FreeToBe! all free clear

Many thanks all free clear for sponsoring today’s story and encouraging me to all free clear! 

Look at these angles:
I mean life as a parent does not get any better this is moment right here.  I wish I could say this is how life at my house is... but it is not... most of the time one of the kids comes in from outside looking like this:
Yep- he is eating dirt! I mean, what else are you supposed to do with it?  

And this little girl (who also is very dirty most of the time) also has super sensitive skin.  Like allergic to the hypoallergenic tape sensitive skin. 

So needless to say I don't want to mess around (pun intended!- Ha!) with extra things in my laundry detergent,  I mean with the 3 kids running around I don't want to worry about what I am washing their clothes in... I just need them to be clean and not irritate our skin! 
all free clear (detergent for sensitive skin) helps me do that!  It keeps my clothes clean with no extra stuff to mess with our sensitive skin!   all free clear helps my kids be kids, who are free to make messes with out me worrying about how I am going to get their clothes clean.  It also helps me be free to be a busy mom that doesn't have to worry about extra chemicals in our laundry.  I mean I have enough to worry about (like actually doing the laundry!). 

Get the inside scoop with sweepstakes and coupons at the all free clear Facebook page

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