Thursday, March 5, 2015

Surviving Without a Village

Moving to a new location has never been easier. You or your spouse takes a new job across the country, and you soon find yourself without any help on the home front. Raising children takes a village, and when you move away from your support system you have to make a few changes to survive.

My parents moved six hours away when my oldest child was two months old. They were never the babysitting type of grandparents, but it would have been nice to have them closer. My husband's family lives about 15 hours away. As a result, my husband and I have had to form our own village. We need the support, and we are willing to offer the same support to our network of friends. So how do you survive without a village? You make one. Here are a few things we implemented after our village moved away.

Friends
We quickly realized that we needed a network of friends. We didn't have friends that we could rely on to watch our children or socialize with regularly. It takes time to form lasting and trusting friendships. If you want friends then you must be friendly. Offer to watch your friends' children one afternoon, go on a double date, and listen to what your friends have to say. No one wants to help someone that never reciprocates. Having a network of friends is the best way to build a new village. Treasure your friendships, and you will never be without a village.

Get Out
Scheduling a regular date night with your spouse, is priority. Your marriage will be strained if you two are the only ones in your village. Taking regular date nights without the kids is important to maintaining your love for one another. If you can't find a babysitter, then have a date night at home.

You will also need to pencil in some girl time for yourself, and some guy time for your man. We need to get away and discuss grown up stuff with our friends. Play dates are great, but you need time to talk without little ones yelling right next to you.

Mother's Day Out/Preschool
If you have a wonderful preschool or mother's day out program near you, then take advantage of the opportunity. This will give you time to go grocery shopping, run errands, or have some down time. When grandma and grandpa aren't around to watch the kiddos, then you may need to spend the money on a quality childcare facility.

You Make the Rules
As the manager of the home, you make the rules. Sometimes as parents we forget that we have the power to make and enforce the rules. You don't have to go about your day like a worker on an assembly line that has no say in what goes on within the company. Set a schedule for your children and yourself to follow. You know your house best, and you can make the rules. If you decide that every Monday is laundry day and every Friday is ice cream day, then fabulous work. Bedtime should be at the same time every night. Your children need to know the rules and what is expected. When you decide what the rules should be, your house can start to run smoother. A well oiled machine causes less stress on the family.

Simplify
Purging is a wonderful thing. Get rid of things that you don't use and that your children don't use. Hold a garage sale, donate your unwanted items, and throw away broken things. Streamline your grocery shopping, chores, and schedule. When you have less stuff to put away, the more time you will have for what is important.

Limit Commitments 
When you are running low on villagers, limit your commitments to activities outside the home. You are only one person, and there are still only 24 hours in each day. It's so easy to get sucked in to doing everything that all of your friends, neighbors, and community are telling you that you need to do. You have permission to say no! Decide what is important to you and your family. Set a limit for yourself and stick to it.

Join a Group
What are you interested in? Look up your local meet-up groups and sign up to join a play date group, a special interest group, or MOPS. These groups are a great way to meet new people and form lasting friendships. You automatically have something in common with the members of the groups you join.

Babysitter
One of the biggest hurdles is finding a quality and available babysitter. Ask other parents for a referral, check out babysitting websites, and ask your children's workers at church if they know of anyone that is looking to babysit. As a parent, you need to be picky about who watches your children. Don't be afraid to ask for references. Once you find a great babysitter, your life will be changed forever.

Forming a new village takes time, but the work will pay off. Don't be discouraged if you are moving to a new place. Start building your network of friends, and before long you will have a new village.

Amanda

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

As a Parent, Are You Ready to Potty Train Your Child?

You know those people that analyze and collect data before making a decision? That’s me! I must have a solid plan, and prepare myself for the task ahead. If you are having doubts about your preparedness for potty training, you are not alone. In my eBook, Potty Training With Less Mess and Less Stress, I point out a few things each parent should consider before embarking on the journey of potty training. 


Photo Credit

1. Is there a major holiday around the time you are potty training? Wait until the holiday or vacation is over before potty training. It will be less stressful on you and your child.


2. Have all of the supplies for potty training before you begin. You do not want to take your child to the store the first day because you forgot to buy stickers.


3. Mark a date on the calendar to begin, and plan out potty training in advance. You will be prepared and can start talking to your child about becoming a big boy and using the potty.  Talk enthusiastically to your child about potty training.  Show him the big boy potty and training pants, and get him excited about wearing big boy underwear.

4. Schedule a break or two for yourself. There will be days when your child just doesn't get it, and you will become frustrated. Plan a break for yourself, and put it on the calendar. Ask your spouse, a friend, or family member to take over on potty training duty for a couple of hours. Take time to relax and do whatever you want to do. This will allow you to recharge your batteries so you don’t blow up in your toddler’s face.


5. Pray before you start potty training. I was dreading potty training so much that it turned my stomach into knots. After all the research and planning I had done, I still needed to pray. I prayed that my child would understand the potty training, that he wouldn't make too many messes, that I would have the patience needed to train him, and that he would learn quickly. You may think it’s silly to ask God for these things, but He really does care.
 

Would you add anything to the list? For more information, tips, and encouragement on potty training, check out my eBook. Potty Training With Less Mess and Less Stress is available now!

Amanda

Monday, March 2, 2015

Favorite Things: Beauty Products

Have you ever thrown a Favorite Things party? They are super fun, and everyone walks away with some fantastic products. I thought it might be fun to write a post about my favorite beauty products and do a giveaway! That's right! These are the beauty products I love, and this post is sponsored by me. The best part is if you win, you get to pick which product you win. This may be my favorite post yet!

Photo Credit

 Neutrogena Facial Cream Cleanser 
This facial soap is great for all skin types, and does a fantastic job of cleansing your face. It does start to tingle if you leave it on for a little bit, so you will never forget to rinse your face.


Blistex Silk & Shine Chap Stick
Do you have a favorite chap stick? I love this one because it softens my lips and also has a slight shine as well. So, if I forget to put lip gloss on I am covered.


Maybelline Colossal Volume Mascara
Last year, I started using this amazing mascara. It gives volume my straight as nails eyelashes. My lashes are so straight that I would stab you if I gave you butterfly kisses. This mascara helps my challenged lashes.


Essie Nail Polish
Have you noticed how much a gel nail manicure is these days? Essie is the longest lasting nail polish I have found. The colors are fantastic, they last about a week, and the polish drys quickly. Wam, bam, thank you ma'am.


Tresemme 24 Hour Body Volume Stray
You spray it at the roots of your towel dried hair. Then rub it in and blow dry your hair, and you will have instant volume. With hair as fine as mine, it needs all the help it can get. 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

What are your favorite beauty products? I will announce the winner on Wednesday, March 4th. Let the winning begin!

Amanda

*All product photos are from manufactures' websites. This is not a sponsored post.

And the winner is.... Alyson Steiner! Congrats, Alyson.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Making Your House Feel Like a Home

When you move into a house that someone else has lived in, it can fell like temporary housing. It can take months or even longer to feel like you belong in that house. Adding a few personal touches to your house can make it feel like home almost immediately.


PaintA little paint can go a long way. If you are able to paint before moving in, this will help the house feel like home even sooner.

An initial wreath 
Place a decorative element on the front door. Every time you come home you will be greeted by something personal and pretty.


Curtains
Add curtains to as many rooms as you want. They will add a soft and welcoming touch to each room.

Get rid of all the boxes
It never fails, when you move there are always things left in boxes. Find a place for everything. If you don't use it, then donate it or throw it away.  Getting rid of all the boxes will feel like you are settled in your home.


Change out the toilet seats
Okay, this might sound like I'm being picky, but I really like having a new seat for each bathroom.

Hang artwork and pictures on the walls
The most visible way to make a house a home is to add artwork and family photographs to the walls. Surrounding yourself with your things and the people you love will give your home a personal and welcoming touch.


What have you done to make your house a home? 

Amanda

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Home Office Makeover

The home office is used every day, and when we moved in our house it was in need of some major help. The walls were a weird mint green color, and the only thing going for it was the amazing southern exposure sunlight streaming through the blinds.


I wanted to use a souvenir from our honeymoon as a jumping off point for decorating the office. It has never held a special location in any of our homes. The vase was made by a Native American tribe in the Smoky Mountains. I know they probably make a million of these vases, but it has always held a special place in my heart.




The office must have been a playroom in another life. It was the only way to explain the green paint and rolling hills painted on the angled walls. 


The office now serves as a work place for my writing, my husband's at home consulting job, craft room, sewing room, and art room.


We painted the walls a welcoming gray and left the ceiling white. I didn't want the room to feel like a cave, and leaving the ceiling white made a big difference. The walls and furniture are on the darker side, but the curtains are the splash of color that the office needs. It took forever to find orange curtains that didn't look like they belonged in a motel. (Curtains were in store only at Target)


The office is the only room in the house that has a contemporary feel to it, and I wanted to add industrial lamps to complete the look. The lamps are from Ikea.

I needed storage for all of my craft and sewing supplies, and this white cabinet works splendidly. It also doubles as a sitting area. The chair belonged to my mother, and I love that it matches everything in the office.


The door is just to the right in this picture. My sewing machine and sewing supplies fit perfectly within this space.


As you walk into the office the easel and the painting my mother made greets you at the door. Our bookshelf is filled with just books. I know you are supposed to arrange the bookshelf with other objects, but we have too many books. The stamps are from my collection, and the antlers are Kevin's. Since we share an office, I wanted to add some masculine touches for him and some feminine elements for me. 


This little clock from Brighton was also my mother's. A girl needs a little bling on her desk.


The vase from our honeymoon sits front and center on the bookshelf. After thirteen years of marriage it finally has a place to call home.

Our office is the first of many rooms that will receive makeovers in our home. It had quiet the transformation, and now I look forward to working in our new office. I already have the next project in my sights, and I'll share it with you soon.

Amanda

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Making Life Easier: The Nightly Routine


Photo Credit

As I get older the more I realize how little I know. I also realize how much I know, but don't put into practice. With three children ages six and under, a freelance writing business, wife to a wonderful hubby, and homemaker, I need to make things easier on myself.


Photo Credit

I've always heard that you need to wake up early before your children to get the most out of every day. Well, guess what! It's few and far between that all three of my children sleep through the night. Usually when the morning people are starting their day, I am getting to the second stage of my sleep cycle. I don't know that REM sleep really exists. This post isn't about my lack of sleep, but trying to make the hours I'm awake less stressful.

Maya Angelou stated, "If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude." Let's get started with what we can change. 

The Night Before To Do List
1. Pick out and iron my clothes and kids' clothes for the next day
2. Work out and shower
3. Make next day's lunch
4. If frozen, put the next night's dinner in the fridge to thaw.
5. Write (workout and writing nights will alternate)

That's it! We shouldn't load our evenings down with a huge to do list. We'll see how adding these few things to the end of the day routine changes our lives. Will it make it easier? I'm all for less stress in my life, and I bet you are too. What changes will you make to your nightly routine?

Amanda

Monday, February 23, 2015

Interview with Party Planner Berkley Berry

Party planning is near and dear to my heart. The smiles you see when a surprise party is pulled off without a hitch, the decorations that bring a party to life, and the pure joy parties can bring to people is why celebrations will continue on for generations. Berkley Berry is one of those people that brings joy to all of her clients. She is a professional party planner and co-owner of Parties on the Porch. Don't you just love the name of her business? It makes me want a big glass of sweet tea and invite everyone over for brunch. I hope you enjoy the interview and great words of advice from Berkely. 

Please tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Berkley Berry and I’m a native Texan who grew up in the Dallas area, went to Texas Tech, and eventually made my way back to the metroplex. After college, I had the privilege of working with many families as a speech-language pathologist for over 15 years before I had my daughter, Riley, and became a stay at home mama. I’ve always loved planning, hosting, and throwing all kinds of parties so knew this was a great next step for me as I juggle being a wife, mom, daughter, and friend. My husband, Ronnie, and I enjoy lots of sporting events and cheer for the Red Raiders, Cowboys, Mavs, and Rangers. We are big fans of Cabo and our church. Mainly, we just love hanging out with our daughter while watching her become her little self!



What made you decide to be a party planner? 
While I always enjoyed planning parties, it was more of a hobby until Parties on the Porch was officially underway!   With the support of my husband and a great business partner, I've been able to make this a real world adventure.  I love everything about parties: the planning, the coordinating, the creativity, the preparation, the event itself, and the guests' reactions.  I appreciate a good party with a good theme!  It's something I knew would make me happy and that I could do for years to come.

Did motherhood influence your decision to start your own business?
It actually did due to the fact that I couldn't continue my previous profession and be home with our daughter.  Starting Parties on the Porch allowed the best of both worlds -  to be at home with my little one while still doing something I love.   It gives me my creative outlet and allows some adult interaction, both of which are always welcome!   I can do my work during nap and after bedtime and still be Mom during the rest of the day.  Win-win!


What is it like having a business partner? 
I love having a business partner!  Kelly is a successful business owner and is wonderful to bounce ideas off of.  We can struggle with something and just need to have a quick discussion to talk it through and find an answer.  It's great not to have to do it alone!  We might not always agree 100% but we always agree to do what's best for the business, for our clients, and the future.   We like to aim high!


What is the most rewarding thing about owning your own business? What do you struggle with as a small business owner?
Hands down, seeing the smiles of the clients and their guests.  We are still a fairly new business so there are struggles in finding our niche as well as being sure we balance work and family time.

Tell us about the most memorable party you have planned?
Every time we do a party, I think it is my favorite!  I loved our art party because the guests had a great time creating their "masterpiece" and at our spa party because the girls thought they were in heaven!

What advice would you give a mom who wants to start a party planning business?
Think of a service you would purchase, that your friends would purchase and that you would love doing every day then go for it!  You never know til you try!

Thank you, Berkley for stopping by today! Parties on the Porch is offering a special of $250 off their party package if you book before April 15th. Wow! Contact them today to reserve your party date and discount!


Amanda

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