Thursday, March 5, 2015

I am not a Free Range parent.


Nope.


There's a lot of talk right now about the "Free Range" style of parenting.  Supporters claim that backing away from children and giving them more independence fosters strong character and personal responsibility.  Free range parents point out that the fear of disaster is out of proportion with actual risk.  There is an incredibly minute chance that your eight year old will be snatched by a stranger while walking home alone from the park.  Don't the benefits of free play outweigh the small risk?  Stories of parents being penalized for letting their children be alone in public have been trending.  These parents feel they are being unjustly punished for their parenting style.  Lots of people agree with them.  Well, I don't.  Not totally, I suppose.

Do I think CPS has more important things to do than go after the parents of a child who walks a mile to a playground by himself?  Yes.  Do I think it's a smart thing to do?  No.  


Just hear me out..

I know what you're thinking.  But parents of a few decades ago would have thought nothing of this situation!!  Random crimes against children are way DOWN from those times!!  Parents worry needlessly because they are constantly inundated with bad news!!  Perhaps those things are true.  I just think that by arguing those facts, you've basically made my case.



Let's take children out of the equation, shall we?  Use your imagination with me..

Thirty years ago people rarely locked their doors.  Only local crimes made the newspaper and you rarely heard of a B&E.  Then one year several homes in a nice quiet neighborhood are robbed.  In a single summer alone 10 homes, left unlocked while their owners were out, were broken into.  Several irreplaceable items were taken or ruined.  Homeowners are frantic.  They've never felt so vulnerable.  Police are baffled.  Case files are piling up.  Often there is no way to solve the case because there was no forced entry.  Homes would be robbed in the morning and not discovered until the afternoon, by that time the thieves were no where to be found.  They could be states away before anyone knew a crime had been committed.  

Detectives begin issuing warnings to concerned citizens.  For the love of all that is holy.. LOCK YOUR DOORS.  Newspapers advertise constant reminders, an unlocked home is an easy target.  If you care about your belongings, please remember to lock your door each time you leave home. An open house is an invitation to a criminal.  Everyone takes notice.  Homes are no longer left unlocked.  Alarm systems are installed.  

Lo and behold, it works.  The next summer only one home is broken into.  Apparently there was some confusion during the morning rush and a husband and wife each thought the other locked the door as they left together.  

"All it takes is one mistake", the neighborhood whispers, "Those poor people.  They'll never be able to get back what they lost.  Let this be a reminder to double check our doors when we leave home.." 

 After years of safety it's easy to forget the risk.  Occasionally someone leaves their home unlocked and is unlucky enough to fall victim.  But for the most part, as time goes on, the days of rash burglary are a distant memory.  The community feels so safe now. 



Would you say that it would be a good idea to go back to the days of unlocked homes?  Do you really believe that there are less evil people in the world now because random crime has decreased?  Is it that we're safer or more vigilant?  What is the difference between today and thirty years ago? 

Opportunity. 

Replace home with child.  THIS happened.  The horrible reality is that when children were left unattended wandering around, they were easy targets.  Abductions happened.  They rocked small communities and shattered families.  The news just didn't travel much further.  People didn't realize.  Until they did.  

As media because more efficient, parents came face to face with what they were truly risking when they let their preteen daughters walk to the mall alone.  Parents wised up. "Not on my watch", they said.

Not my child.

And do you want to know what happened?  Random crimes against children have decreased.  YES.  Our children are safer today than they were thirty years ago.  They are much less likely to be taken from a public playground, BECAUSE their parents are standing nearby.


Children are also much less likely to go flying through the windshield in a car crash because they are strapped securely into car seats until age 8.  If motor vehicle injuries involving children become increasing rare, should we stop using child safety seats?  Of course not, that would be absurd.  The seats are keeping them safe.  

I refuse to let the whimsy of a parenting trend obscure what I feel is the obvious truth- our children are safer because they are protected.  To get to them, you'd have to go through us.

My kids can learn independence and responsibility in my presence until they are truly old enough to protect themselves.

What say you?  Am I paranoid?  Do you agree?


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Isla and Maisy's Pool Party // Heather Rogers Review & Giveaway



Prepare yourselves for a picture overload.  We threw the girls a joint pool party because their birthdays are four days apart and ain't nobody got time for two parties in two weeks.  I made mention of this in an instagram post and got a great response- gone are the days of my Pinterest birthday parties.  It's not that I don't enjoy looking over my handmade crafts and coordinated finger foods with pride, it's that I quickly realized that there is literally no one else who appreciates those things as much as the planner.  The effort to feedback ratio is terribly lopsided.  What's more?  I've learned that the less I plan, the more I actually enjoy the day of.  

With all that being said, we went super low key for this joint party.  We reserved the pavilion at our community pool, I grabbed the basic tableware and favors at Target, we ordered two cakes straight from the book at BJ's, and we picked up ballons and Hot-N-Ready pizzas the day of.  I did also chop up some fruits and veggies and we obviously had water, juice pouches, and sodas in a cooler.  The end.


That setup?  Party of the year according to Isla.  She was adamant about having a "Kitty Cat" party and the excitement was turned up to level 10 once we picked up decorations and went to order the cake.


Although it was a joint party, this was more about Isla given that she actually knew what was going on.  One year olds don't care so we let Isla pick what she wanted and just went with it.  We had a slight glitch initially after forgetting her floaty, but Jeff ran back home to grab it and all was well.


Big brother Dominic was just happy to get to spend a couple hours swimming and hanging out with all the boys.  In our group of friends there was a wave of boys around when Dominic was born and then a wave of girls around when Isla was born, so even the girls' parties mean he gets to see his friends.


See these awesome cakes below??  I swear it up and down- BJ's has the tastiest cakes.  We always get the marble with the chocolate fluff in the middle and the whipped topping icing.  Mmmmm.  Every party.  Super simple and cheap.  Never will I try to make a birthday party cake myself again... or order a specialty cake from a bakery for that matter.



Maisy was oblivious but happy!  We lucked out with extremely mild weather so we were able to enjoy being outside even though it was August.  She looked downright adorable in the one thing that made it clear it was her day too: a personalized onesie by Heather Rogers Designs.  I've always gotten my kids a special shirt to wear on their first birthdays and was excited to do the same for Maisy!  


I went with a simple block number and whale design in a size 12 month onesie.  I am always so nervous about ordering clothing online because you can never be sure about sizing.  I was really happy to see that the design was printed on a Carter's brand onesie and fit true to size.  The printing was *in* the fabric, not a thick ink sitting on top, so the onesie remained flexible and soft.


Maisy is really on the go!  She wants so badly to walk.


We almost had the entire pool to ourselves.  So nice.  The kids all had a really great time.  After swimming for a bit we did pizza, then swimming again, then cake!!


I just love this picture and these little happy kids.  I think we told every one of them at some point to keep their fingers out of the cake.


I love this picture too.  It perfectly describes her.. sweet and quiet as long as I'm holding her ;)


And my silly big kids..


My little and big.. side note- can we stop and address how old Dominic looks in all of these pictures?  Maybe I shouldn't linger on that.  He looks like he's getting ready to borrow the car (van mwahahaha).


Maisy the little piggy wasted no time diving into her slice of cake!  She did wonder why everyone was watching her eat though.  I'm glad my husband humored me and took plenty of pictures when I couldn't.  He understands my madness.  I also can't thank our friends and family enough for coming to celebrate our girls.. and helping me out to keep the party running smoothly.  We're so lucky.


I'd like to thank Heather Rogers for reaching out to me and offering me this adorable personalized onesie to review.  It was perfect for Maisy to wear on the most special of party days.  Even more, she's offering one of my readers a $25 shop credit to order personalized items for yourself.  You can enter via the Rafflecopter widget below!  Winner will be randomly drawn on Friday 8/22.  Good luck :)




*Disclosure- I was provided with the personalized onesie for review purposes.  All opinions are honest and my own.



Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Maisy is ONE



Our youngest baby isn't such a baby anymore!  

Maisy Elizabeth turned one at the end of July.  She's such a lovey girl and it's been bittersweet watching her grow into a happy and silly toddler.  

The Stats:

-She's 19 lbs 8oz and 29" tall (my biggest one year-old believe it or not).

-She had a whopping TEN teeth by her birthday, and she's already gotten number eleven in the two weeks since.

-She's "cruising" around furniture and walking holding our hands but not independently yet.  This is to be expected, I've yet to have a child walk by 12 months.  If I had to predict I would say she'll most likely fall somewhere between Isla (who walked just a few weeks after her birthday) and Dominic (who walked at 16 months).

-She is VERY verbal, following after her brother.  We noticed super early on that she would imitate the sounds and faces we made.  She says the basics "mama", "dada", "no no", "yay", "wow" along with a super cute "this!!" when she sees something she wants to eat or drink.  She says those things unprompted and will make many other word sounds by following us.  She also can semi-follow the ABC song's main points.  haha.
  
-She claps and waves.

-Aaaaaand she dances.  It's adorable.  She's always doing some sort of wiggle or bounce.  She will dance to anything- whether its a song on the radio, a commercial jingle, or someone's cell phone ringing.  One of these days I'm going to catch her moves on video.

-She's still just as blond and blue eyed as ever.  Everywhere we go it seems like someone stops to exclaim how much hair she has for it being so light.  All of my kids have had a lot of hair, so it seems normal to me!


On her actual birthday we just had a tiny little celebration for her.  We took her to eat at Chick Fil A (only the best for my baby) and brought a little ice cream cake with us for dessert.  My mom came too.  We had already planned a joint pool party for both girls the following weekend, but wanted to do something to mark her actual birth date.  




OBVIOUSLY Isla is still recovering from "the hair incident".


As she gets older, we're actually seeing less and less of her signature #grumpycat face.


Happy Birthday, sweet Maisy!!  It seems like just yesterday we were meeting you for the first time..


..and yet it feels like you've always been a part of our family.  You made us complete and we love you!




Monday, August 11, 2014

Medieval Times Maryland


Last month we took a break right in the middle of moving to spend a night out together as a family.  With all the chaos that is currently our life, it was definitely needed.  We took a short trip up to the Medieval Times Baltimore/DC Castle for an exciting dinner and show!  Neither Jeff or I have ever been to a Medieval Times show so we really weren't sure what to expect.  My friend Kaley has been several times and her boys love it, so I was especially excited to take Dominic.  


We arrived shortly before the show time and waited at the box office to pick up our seat assignment cards.  I was surprised to see just how many people were already there waiting, but luckily the line moved quickly and soon we were inside.  We took a commemorative photo with the Castle Princess and snapped a couple quick photos of our own.  Jeff noticed several people walking around with large mugs of beer and we were both happy that adult beverages were available.  Just saying..!


Dominic was really getting excited at that point.  People were walking around in costume, there were swords, he was wearing a crown that the guy at the front specifically told him was a *king's* crown.  It was only a short few minutes before our color and section was called to sit.  We filed into our front row seats (thanks Medieval Times!!) and got settled.


All three of my kids loved the show, but each for different reasons.  Dominic was jumping up and down cheering for our Green Knight during the competition.  Isla was a little overwhelmed at the volume (it really wasn't too loud, but it took a little while to get her to warm up) but LOVED the horses.  She's really in love with horses right now and she was mesmerized.  Maisy cracked us up most of all.  She clapped nonstop the entire time and I'm not even exaggerating.  Too cute!


We were right in front and below the castle!  Great view.  I would highly recommend getting to the show early to try to get the best seats possible.


We were really happy that each kid had their own spot.  Though you technically can hold a child under 3 on your lap, we both said we couldn't imagine trying to eat and enjoy the show while holding the girls (Isla was also still under 3 at the show).  Any future show we attend, I'll definitely spend the extra money for a ticket for Maisy.  It's worth it because any leftover food can be packed up and taken home.


The food was great!  Jeff and I were both stuffed.  The kids really only ate the bread, a little soup, and a little potato.  Maisy tried the chicken as well.  They are super picky so I wasn't surprised... that and I think they were a bit distracted by everything going on in front of them.  We just packed their food up and took it with us.  


The show was really fantastic!  I was surprised at how skilled the riders were and was impressed by the jousting.  Our Green Knight made it to the "finals" but did not win overall.  Boo.  HOWEVER, he did win in Isla's book as he stopped right in front of us to hand her a red flower.  Her Knight (see what I did there?) was totally made.  She insisted that we put her flower in water when we got home.


Look at me enjoying my tasty and historically accurate beverage- a pina colada!  ;)


Overall we had an awesome time!  I bought our group photo to mark the occasion.  I'm so glad we got to experience such a cool dinner show all together as a family.  Dominic is already asking when we can go again!  I'd like to thank Medieval Times- Baltimore/DC for hosting my family and showing us such a great time!

You can visit Medieval Times online to find a Castle near you and purchase tickets for your family.  Be sure to follow them on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for the latest promotions and events.

*Disclosure- our family was provided admission to Medieval Times- Baltimore/DC.  Extras including photo and alcoholic beverages were purchased by us.  All opinions are honest and my own.*

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Splish Splash- A Boon Bath Toy Review



Recently I got the opportunity to review some new and innovative bath toys from Boon.  We love Boon products so I was excited to give these a try!  

We received both the FLEET stacking boats and the ODD DUCKS.  


[pinky up! Maisy thinks FLEET boats taste pretty great too.]

The FLEET stacking boats are designed with wells on the top for pouring and can be turned upside down to drain, creating a "rain" effect.  The most useful feature though is that these are nesting boats.  They fit nicely inside one another to store.  I appreciate this because we have a limited amount of space.  These boats are Isla's favorite of the two toy sets.  She's very much into carefully pouring water from one boat into the drain well of another.

FLEET stacking boats come in a set of five for $9.99 and are available online at Amazon.com & in-store and online at Buy Buy Baby.


The ODD DUCKS were my personal favorite and I think Maisy was partial to them as well.  ODD DUCKS are a set of four PVC-Free floating ducks that are all different sizes and colors.  Aside from the cuteness, I was mostly impressed by the fact that these ducks do NOT hold water.  I'm pretty sure every mom knows what I'm talking about here.  How many tub toys have you thrown away because of that icky mold that starts growing inside?  Probably too many to count.  Gross.  These ducks are completely sealed so I don't have to worry about stagnant water trapped inside.


The ODD DUCKS set feels very durable and is sure to last a long time.  

A 4-pack of ODD DUCKS is $24.99 and also available online at Amazon.com & in-store and online at Buy Buy Baby.





The girls love their new Boon bath toys, and I'm sure you will too!  You can always count on Boon to provide modern, stylish, and useful kid products.

*Disclosure- Boon provided us with these fun bath toys to facilitate this review.  All opinions are my own*


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