Spaghetti Squash

The other day I was baking a spaghetti squash in the middle of the day for a casserole I was making that night. As it was baking and playing with my daughter she decided to say “I don’t want spaghetti squash right now.” I told her she did not need to eat the spaghetti squash and I would set aside some dinner sans spaghetti squash so she didn’t need to worry. She was still pretty concerned about the whole spaghetti squash thing and couldn’t let it go. No matter what I told her she spent a few minutes worried about the possibility of having spaghetti squash at some future time. I wanted to just tell her that she didn’t have any need to worry, I was not going to feed her spaghetti squash, so she was worrying about absolutely nothing. I also want to tell her that even if I did feed her spaghetti squash it wouldn’t be for a long time so she really didn’t need to worry about it right now. I also wanted her to understand that if I did serve her spaghetti squash, it would be because spaghetti squash has nutrients inside of it that help our bodies stay strong and capable, and so even though spaghetti squash is not her favorite thing, it would truly be good for her.

And then I thought about me. How much I worry about things that may or may not happen in a future date. Things I don’t need to worry about – one, because they may never happen, two, because if they do I really don’t need to worry about until they happen, and three because I have faith that God has a hand in my life and all things that do happen in my life will be good for me. I am a daughter of my Heavenly Father, and as a child of God I sometimes struggle in the same way my daughter struggles with things in her life.

When I struggle it is hard for me because I feel like should know better, and do better, that I should not succumb to worry or fear. Then I remember how I feel about my daughter, I wish so much that she would not worry because of all the things I know, but she doesn’t understand. I recognize that she does not have the understanding I do, and even though she is having a hard time when she really doesn’t need to, what I do is just love her through the struggle. And I believe that is what Heavenly Father does for me. Sometimes I think He loses patience with me, but I believe the truth is that, no matter how I struggle, He is always just willing to love me through everything.

Thank goodness for that truth.

New

A new year, a fresh start. Hope is high. Changes are coming.

I love that start of a new year. I have been trying to reevaluate my life and gather all the good of 2016 and leave behind the hard things or the meaningless things. A new year is a great time to start again. This year I want to:

Be a better mother and wife.

Live my values.

Nourish my body. Gain strength.

Share my talents.

Share my testimony.

Appreciate and take care of the environment.

Slow down and be more present.

Do things that matter the most to me.

Read good books.

I don’t really know what that all means or will require of me, but I hope to share what I learn in life and motherhood over the next year.

Lessons from a Little One

I have a two year old, and one of the best things about having a two year old is that I learn little truths from her every day. She keeps me grounded in what is most important in a crazy world, and helps me follow my dreams. I wanted to share some of the current lessons.

You Can Be Whoever You Want to Be-For Halloween this year we dressed up my daughter as Piglet, from Winnie the Pooh. For weeks, whenever she would see her costume she would declare, I can be Piglet. And on Halloween night she was Piglet. Sometimes I think we think about our goals and dreams and say to ourselves “I can’t be a mathematician, I’m just not good at math, or who am I to want to be an entrepreneur?” We questions our ability to become what we want to be, but if there is something we want to do, why not just declare “I can be _____________.” That declaration followed by some work, just might make it true.

Be Excited to Share Your Talents and Skills- Yesterday my husband took my daughter out to a nearby field to play some soccer. He was teaching her about different field positions and when she came home she ran through the door and said “Mama, I am a striker.” She had learned this new skill, kicking a soccer ball, and instead of being nervous about how inexperienced she was, she just declared with excitement the new things she learn. That attitude will allow her get better at this soccer skill in the future.

When All Else Fails, Sing a Song-Sometimes when my husband and I are talking and our daughter wants our attention, or when we are trying to get our daughter to eat a vegetable she is not interested in, she just starts singing a song. It is so cute and often results in us stopping our conversation to listen or we momentarily stop prodding her to eat. When she needs something she can become upset, but that doesn’t help anything much, or she can sing a song, and that seems to ease her struggles and allows us to help her more calmly. So when something is stressful, just sing a song, or listen to one.

In a crazy world, it is good to have a two year old around to teach me what matters most.

Read Everyday

When I was pregnant with my little one I went to a baby shower of a friend. An older woman that was attending handed her preset to the soon to be mom. As she opened it she found a selection of classic children’s books. The older woman fervently stated that this mom to be needed to read to her child everyday because it was the best thing to do to prepare kids for school. I don’t know why but that always stuck with me.

My mom and my aunt are champions when it comes to reading with little ones. They both read out loud and are now sharing their favorite books with me. They talk about reading with kids as the best time of the day. I have fond memories of them both reading out loud to me at bedtime as I was falling asleep.

When I became a mother I took reading everyday seriously. Luckily I love children’s books, so in those early days when I was basically just reading out loud to myself with a wiggly baby, I still throughly enjoyed story time. Now with a 2 year old reading time has become not only the best time of the day, but one of my most cherished parts of the day.

I think one reason we need to read to our kids every day is because it is an intentional time to bond. When I am reading to my little one I have to put away all the distractions. I have to set aside my phone and technology, I have to stop cleaning and making grocery lists, I have to set aside anything I am doing and just sit with my little one and read. I feel like it is the only time of the day when I am purely focused on just being with my little one. We get to experience stories together. I love finding new books that we can experience for the first time together, and I love snuggling up with old favorites. I love knowing which parts will make her laugh or which pictures will draw her attention. In our home, story time is intentional time spent together. It is calm and peaceful. It slows down the world a little bit and brings me back to the reality of what is most important.

So pick up a good book and make reading with you child an important part of your day. I share some of my favorite books and library finds @readthelibrary on instagram if you need a little inspiration of what to read next.

readeveryday_malloryhazel

Magic!

I love holidays. There is something special about having a child when the holidays come. Everything becomes magical. I was reflecting on how special it is that I get to share holiday’s with my daughter. We loved Halloween this year. She was so excited about dressing up in her Piglet costume. She was thrilled to know we would be having chili and cornbread for dinner. She loved carving Jack O’ Lanterns with us and helped us pick out pumpkin seeds for roasting. We read many Halloween stories countless times. Every new experience was awesome to her.

The one thing she was most excited for was going trick or treating. She woke up on Halloween morning and the first thing she said when I walked into the room was “I need to go Trick or Treating.” (She often uses ‘need’ instead of ‘want.’) Throughout the day she mentioned Trick or Treating again and again, she was so excited. When night finally came and dinner was over, we put on her costume, and my husband took her to a few of our neighbors while I was finishing up with our Caramel Apples. After about 5 minutes of Trick or Treating they came back to our home and my daughter ran across the room to me with her bag exclaiming with enthusiasm  “I got candy!” It was maybe 5 pieces but she was thrilled. It was like magic to her. She gave me a big hug and showed me her tiny haul and I think she would have been perfectly happy if that is all the trick or treating we had done that night. We took her out again though and it was so fun to watch her go house to house. As she went from house to house I could see her, the little girl she is, full of wonder.

It was a great reminder to me to keep my eyes open to the wonder and magic around us. As we grow up we lose some of that childlike wonder. I think we become more entitled, or we compare ourselves with others. We live in a future happy moment instead of being present in the happy moments we are in. The magic of Halloween, and the opportunity of watching my daughter experience it really allowed me to be present and joyful in all the goodness around me.

A Good Day

Have you ever read the book A Good Day by Kevin Henkes. It starts off with a bad day, things are happening to little animals that make them sad, scared, or frustrated. But then things turn around and the problems they faced are either fixed or they gain a new perspective. In the end one of the little animals problems turns out to bring a little girl joy and she declares “What a good day!” It is a  sweet little story that I love to read with my little one.

Yesterday was a hard day. Things were happening that brought on some stress and despair in my life. I was feeling a little hopeless. Then my daughter woke up from her nap. For some reason she really loves wearing her jacket and this brand new pair of socks she just got and refuses to take them off, so even though it is quite warm she decided she needed to keep them on for her nap. She was a little sweaty, and needed a bath anyway, so I decided to forego our usual afternoon routine and just give her a bath. I was in my own world worrying about my own problems while my daughter was in the tub when she wanted me to help her put some of her tub time letters on the wall. I got down on my hands and knees and helped her place letters and name letters. I watched her “swim” in the tub and we talked about how fun it was to swim in the pool during the summer months. She sang songs to me and I helped her with the ones she couldn’t quite remember. She was loving bath time and it was fun to see her excitement. After a while I got her out and wrapped her in her towel and held her like I did when she was a baby. We went to the rocking chair and rocked, she sang more songs to me and with me, and it was just so sweet. She does not normally like to cuddle or be held like that, but for some reason she let me hold her. After a while I suggested that she get dressed and she said “mama I just want a hug.” So I gave her a big hug.

This little experience really turned my day from a hard day to a good day. I needed my daughters sensitive soul to lift me in a time of need. I realized that it was only after I set aside my own thoughts and worries and gave my whole attention to my daughter that I was able to receive this gift. It was such a good reminder to me to be in the present moment with my daughter and enjoy all that it has to offer.

What Do You Do All Day?

I am a mom. A stay at home mom. What do I do all day as a stay at home mother of one little two year old? Today I thought I would try to share daily life around here.

I wake up before the sun rises to have an hour or so of time just for me. I write or shower in this time. I read if I am lucky. I watch the monitor to see when my child wakes up, and when she does I give myself a few minutes to do every last thing I need to do that would be 10x harder if she were there before I go in and greet my toddler.

I discuss very important things that happened during the night with my two year old. Things like sleeping and dreaming, and being cozy in the blanket.

I make breakfast for two. Usually eggs in some form, scrambled, banana egg pancakes, fried, or if I have prepared a breakfast casserole we just enjoy a slice of that. Sometimes (every day) I take too long according to my toddler. She has to practice patience.

We both get dressed and ready for the day. I put on my make-up while my daughter plays, then we get her dressed and ready.

We almost always have a morning outing to the library, grocery store, or just on a walk to a playground. It takes a long time to get out the door. I have to practice patience. Sometimes I have to break out my acting skills and pretend like I am going to leave without my daughter.

I make lunch for two. We eat. It feels like meal times take forever. I have to practice patience.

I read 3 stories before a nap. I do my best not to pick the three shortest stories on our shelves, but some days that is all I can do.

I clean, read, write, create, or occasionally if I am so so tired I take a power nap.

I have another very interesting conversation with my toddler about nap time. She often describes how she sleeps in a crib and a bed.

I try to get a little learning in. Right now we are working on learning letters. We usually  enjoy some play time after we are done until daddy get home.

Daddy get home and it is the best.

I make dinner, serve dinner, and we eat as a family.

Usually we have a little family time together to go on a walk or play.

I bathe my daughter and get her ready for bed.

I follow our bedtime routine and kiss her goodnight.

I made it.

As I write all this down it doesn’t seem like much, but there is so much lifting, guiding and helping when it comes to little ones. I have to practice patience all the time. It is an absolutely exhausting job.

But as I rest my head on the pillow each night and talk to my husband about the day, we reflect on all that our daughter is learning, the things she did that made us laugh or made us proud, the growth she has achieved recently, and it is the sweetest joy to know we are a part of that.

So I end my day content in my bed with joys of motherhood filling my soul.

lifeofmom_malloryhazel

Our Bedtime Routine With a Two Year Old

I was thinking about how nice our bedtime routine with our two year old is. It hasn’t always been so enjoyable. I remember those newborn days when there was hardly any routine at all because I would basically just wait for my daughters cues for bed and just go with whatever would get us by. Over the two years things became a little more intentional as we got her ready for bed, but I still remember a good few months where part of our nightly routine was sitting in her room singing children’s songs for sometimes up to a hour so she could calm down enough to go to bed. That was a stressful phase. Now we have a pretty nice routine that I love and she does really well with. I think it helps her so much to have a routine because she knows what is going to happen, and that helps her have some peace in the late evening when she is getting tired.

With that said this is our current nightly routine, I am sure we will change it and tweak it as our daughter grows just as we have in the past, but for our two year old, this works perfectly.

Bathtime-First things first we get her all clean and let her unwind a little in a nice warm bath. This does not happen every night, normally this is an every other night routine. It is always a good start though.

Pajamas-Next we choose some cozy pajamas to change into. I often let her choose which pajamas she wants to wear for the night, which has been fun.

Laundry-We gather up all the clothes from the day and my daughter takes them to her laundry basket in the closet. It keeps things in order and she loves to be helpful.

Brush Teeth-My two year old insists on doing it herself now so I am not sure exactly how clean they are getting, but I think she does a pretty good job!

Scriptures-Dad joins us at this point and he will read 10 verses of scriptures from the Book of Mormon. We have been reading scriptures since she was about four months old, we started with just five verses a night. It kind of seemed like it might be kind of pointless in the beginning, but this is one of my favorite parts of the night. Since we have been doing it for so long my daughter knows it is coming and we have taught her to be reverent during this time. She does a great job most nights which makes my mama heart proud and thankful.

Song-This is a recent addition to our nightly routine but I love it! We choose a new song each week or two to sing to our daughter. By the middle of the week she is singing along. So far we have taught her “A Child’s Prayer” and we are currently learning “I Feel My Saviors Love.”

Hugs and Kisses-At this point Dad says goodnight (or occasionally mom) and we give our daughter hugs and kisses and say “I love you” to which she responds “I love you too dada, or mama.” It has got to be one of the sweetest parts of the day. Especially because she loves to say “I love you too” multiple times.

3 Books-Then whichever parent is left (usually mom) will read 3 books with her. I usually try to choose books that help us wind down a little. Stories like A Good Day, Stars, I’d Know You Anywhere My Love, and Owl Moon are perfect ways to end the night.

This is usually followed by more kisses, more “I love yous” and climbing into bed while I turn out the lights. She is still a little sad when the night ends, but it is so much better than it once was.

I think nightly routines make a huge difference in the peace at bedtime in our home. We only have one little one to tuck into bed for now so I treasure these moments that we can all be together, because I am sure things change when you add another one or more to the mix.

toddlerbedtimeroutine_malloryhazel

What are some of your bedtime routines?

Creative Childhood

I have such fond memories of childhood. I think so much of the beauty of my childhood came because of the small a simple things my parents did for me, they helped to create my childhood.

For instance in the fall I remember when the leaves would come down my mom would help me rake the leaves into a “floor plan” in the backyard so I could play house. One square would be a living room another the kitchen, bedrooms, garage, etc. I would drive a car we had into the garage and play in this house to my hearts content.

Another fond memory was the time spent making potions out in our backyard. My mom would read Harry Potter to us at night and the next morning I would be filling up buckets with mud, rocks, grass, leaves, and probably some of her flowers. It was so imaginative and fun.

I feel like so many of my simple but amazing memories came because my parents gave me tools that enabled me to have imaginative play. Whether it be the books they read, or the time they spent helping me build something, the things they did for me helped to create an environment that I could explore, learn and grow in.

I feel like it is so important as a mother to get down on my child’s level and teach her how to build or use different toys. It is important to read to her. It is important to get outside and explore with her. It is important to fully invest in my child for a moment, and then leave her to her own imaginary play, using the new ideas she has learned.

It makes my heart so happy to watch my child playing across the room with something and note that she is using her experiences with me to play with her toys. I love when she sings songs or tells stories to her animals that we sang together or read together earlier in the day (or week).

One of the intentions of my parenting is to create an environment that fosters learning so my child can use that knowledge to build her own beautiful childhood.