I purchased my cases for about $20 each on Amazon, here: The i-Blason ArmorBox Kido series for apple iPad Mini.
& a note on the iPads:
My parents bought these for my kids as a gift and I wasn’t sure how we were going to like/use them. We use them every so often right now as I put major limits on my kids’ screen time. Everett (18 months) isn’t really into his at all. I use it as my Kindle more than he ever has–it’s the perfect size! I’m sure someday he’ll enjoy it as much as his sister.
Caroline (4 years, as of last week!) uses hers mostly for her Pandora station, which she sometimes gets to listen to during quiet time. I set up a Pandora station with all the Disney songs and she’s in heaven. :) I also created a gmail account and added iMessaging to her iPad–which has been this device’s biggest [smashing] success yet. Since we have no local family, she keeps in touch with our loved ones using her iPad. I enabled the emoji keyboard for her and she sends emojis, pictures and all the words she knows how to spell. I am so impressed at how she has used the keyboard to advance her spelling skills. She is curious and interested (asks me how to spell things and remembers!) and there is definitely some value in learning to spell and read words that help her communicate. She has started reading and those skills are translating into her messages to our family–it’s so neat!!! I do have a couple of movies on hers and her favorite [only] TV show, Team Umizoomi. She’s not a huge app lover right now, but we have nearly everything from Montessorium and Duck Duck Moose. I don’t like junk apps, even if they are free, so I try to only have mentally stimulating apps for her to play with. Nook also has a kids ebook app, where you can get digital versions of some of the classics/our favorites. It’s pretty fun! Though nothing beats the library. :)
Oh, and I created their home screens using the BubbleFrame App. Super fun!
More on the awesome & totally useful headphones next!
You know, every time I log on to Facebook I’m reminded of exactly why I very intentionally have signed off. It’s just not the healthiest place for me to be. It serves its purpose of staying connected and picture sharing with loved ones far away, but is best kept as a very limited part of my life.
Several days ago I shared this article about the drug-free birth of Kate Middleton. I was, and still am, thrilled at the media attention this might stir up for those of us who are passionate about drug-free birthing. It is always great to normalize what some people consider an “out there” choice. But…some nastiness arose. Now, those of you who read my blog have come to know where I stand on a lot of topics and know the tone I bring here. I welcome other opinions and love sharing for the sake of learning but I will never tolerate judgment or negativity.
But I got to thinking about what happened and what the core of the problem really is and I’ve come up with a question that solves my own question. If that makes any sense at all. & that question is:
Why do we share information?
At the heart of most internet conflicts, I think this question is of paramount importance.
What is the intention of the writer?
Now here, I share to inspire. I share because I am passionate. I share because I want to help you or encourage you, by giving you insight or tools or new ways to solve problems. A different way to think, based on experiences I have had or things I have done or made.
When I write anything here I make a very deliberate choice to share the positive perspective. For example, “I like green.” I don’t say that I hate red and red makes me angry and I’d really not care to ever look at it again (partially true, but I digress). I choose to share that I like green. That I like green because…blah blah blah. Taking the positive perspective completely sets the tone of the discussion. My intention is never to say I like green and you should too. And if you don’t you are wrong and further, you should feel bad because you like red and I don’t. Such a simple analogy, but it is exactly what happened over on my styleberry facebook page. & it makes me just want to shut it down because I just don’t like the internet behavior sometimes–I give respect and expect it back. I have good intentions.
But I’ve learned, not all women are like me. & I am pretty naive if I think that this kind of courtesy is the norm. It is probably not their fault–there are a lot of places on the internet where you can find judgment and criticism and nastiness. My site is not one of those, and never will be.
If I have learned anything since I have tried to figure out how to minimally incorporate facebook into my life (both personally and professionally) it’s to ask myself this question again & again: Why do I share information?
On my blog, as stated above, it’s easy to share because I know exactly what I aim to do with the content. My styleberry page is no different than my blog, I share to educate, inspire, inform etc. & that is that. You’ll notice I’ve dropped off managing it a bit because the conflict that arises is just not worth my energy. I’m fairly certain that a lot of people over there never come here. & that is fine, but I hold myself & those around me (and those on styleberryBLOG and the styleberry facebook page) to standards and I will not compromise them. We will be kind and supportive and helpful. Period.
So maybe this is a learning experience for all of us. I’ll think even more before I share stuff. Personally and professionally, and decide what it is, exactly, I would like in return for what I share. I also know that I cannot control how my well intentioned information is going to be received, and that is part of what I have to expect when I choose to share so much. So if you’re with me in this well intentioned journey, I am thrilled to have you. :) The internet just needs to be a nicer place. Dammit.
& then, moments after I finished this article, I read this one: I support you. EXACTLY. As it applies to any mommy topic. Enjoy. :)
Images from a recent trip to the amazing San Antonio Botanical Gardens, my favorite place in the city!
School notices are coming in the mail and it’s hard to believe that summer is winding down (wahh!!) but it is! Time for a gut check. Can you put your phone down more & play with your kids? We’ve only got a few more weeks. I’m up for the challenge. Are you with me? I have been trying very hard this summer to just BE with my kiddies. Their behavior is SO much better when I choose to put my phone down.
Here are a few of the things that I have been trying hard to implement during the last few weeks:
- No instagramming while the kids are awake. Take pictures? Sure. But nothing gets uploaded until naptime or bedtime.
- No facebook on my iPhone. Period. FB checking allowed at naptime/bedtime. Limit status updates to 2/3 times per week to cut down on notifications/checking.
- No facebook inbox. I recently shared that I would not be checking my FB messages & wrote in my profile to contact me by email. I will log on once a week or so to see if there is something pressing or if that is the only way I can communicate with someone I care about, but beyond that, I’m free of that obligation.
- Lock my phone in the locker at the gym. I try to do this if I am not expecting any important phone calls/messages–those close to me know exactly when I am there so they can call the gym if there is an emergency. I will get it out if we are heading to the pool and I might have a photo op.
- Texts get returned when no one needs me. I try very hard to ignore them (turn off sound) and they do pile up. Then I will respond when I can. I treat it more like email than instant messaging. It doesn’t need to be instant!
So tell me your tricks? How are you successfully turning away from technology this summer? Surely you’ve done something smart that I need to know about! Please share! I am always looking for new & encouraging ways to break the screen addiction!
Recently, a friend of mine (ahem, Ashley) introduced me to iced coffee at our brand new Dunkin Donuts up the road. I had never been to a DD but I had heard excellent things about their super strong coffee. & if you know anything about me…you know that I have one vice and that is coffee. I drink water & coffee. STRONG coffee. So I gave it a whirl one hot summer day & was she ever right! YUM! But I knew I could do it better myself. It was a wee bit bitter for my taste and still cost me a couple of dollars per cup. Way better than pricey sugarbomb frappucinos, which I am not entirely fond of, but still not perfect. So I hopped to figuring out how to make my own.
WHAT YOU NEED
- coffee. preferably something strong & robust. (I used my faaaaaaaavorite Philz coffee, a cult classic home in the Bay Area. I’ll head to Local here in SA when I run out)
- flavoring (if you wish, I like mine with a dash of coconut. YUM)
HOW YOU MAKE IT
- I used the Pioneer Woman’s Iced Coffee recipe but I upped the coffee to water ratio on my second batch. Like I said, I like it STRONG. Be sure to steep it at room temp and definitely overnight, or it will be bitter.
- Since I don’t mess around with the strength of my coffee (I call my dad’s version “coffee flavored water”…yuck) I freeze some of my concentrate in my old baby food cubes (remember those?!) and use them as the “ice” in my coffee. I recommend filling each cube only half full, or they will not thaw fast enough to melt into your drink.
- After I pour the concentrate in, and add the cubes, I add a splash of cream and a little less than one pump of coconut & then it’s bottoms up! HAPPY NAPTIME.
- I enjoy mine in a starbucks tumbler & use the lines on it to measure out the amounts of liquid in my drink so I have consistency. :)
& that is all!! Yummmooo. Just the perfect perk for a hot summer’s day!
Several months ago I would have asked what “self care” was too. But the tide’s a shiftin’ over here. In a very good way. I have managed to make three major changes that have majorly turned things around. I:
…joined a gym again (& I go!).
…hired my first babysitter. (so I could…)
…go to counseling.
Life. Changing. Choices.
Turns out, I am terrible at taking care of me. I have this guilt–my major issue. I don’t let people help me. I don’t take time for myself. I don’t put myself before much of anything or anyone. & that (I found out the hard way) is not a recipe for success.
I had a little light bulb moment in therapy one day. [Side note--I have always been a firm believer in therapy. Even happy people can work on self improvement, so I applaud the decision for anyone to attend therapy. I think it is a very important part of a balanced life. AND...military mamas...Tricare covers it 100%.] My therapist said this:
We have this antiquated way of thinking about the family. [he laced his fingers together] We think it looks like this. Mom and Dad as this intertwined unit of two which becomes four or five as the children come into the picture. Tangled. Everyone relying on everyone for everything. & that just doesn’t work. What we really have, is you [he held up one fist] and all of the others that you have in your life [he wrapped his other hand around the fist] and they add to your joy, but they do not create it.
I can get on board with that idea. If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy, right? & if no one can make mama happy, then how does she make herself happy?
Well, she focuses on self care. According to my therapist. (Who specializes in military families with lifestyles a lot like mine.)
What that self care looks like for each person is different. But for me, a big part of that was figuring out how to exercise again. The #1 thing I can do to help me in every aspect of my life is exercise. It makes be feel better mentally (break from children! reminders to breathe!) and it makes me stronger, in so many more ways than one. You all know that I parent alone about 90% of the time, so finding time for me is always a challenge. But that time at the gym is great for all of us. The kids love it. I need it. It really is the best possible situation for everyone.
But he hardest part of this change was setting a new routine. I think that is all that it takes (once you find a place that inspires your desire to exercise). It took a good three weeks for it to feel normal. But I shifted the way I look at the gym, too.
I used to make my own workouts and lift and do cardio & I went through my crossfit phase. But right now, I have no time for that. I need the classes. I want to show up, see familiar faces and have a teacher plan everything about my kick-ass workout. I tried a bunch of the classes that fit my schedule and chose three that I love and don’t want to miss each week. I treat them just like my kids’ activities that I pay for. I’d never miss those, so why would I miss my own classes that I am paying for too? They are on my iCal and the time is blocked off. Nothing gets in the way. No playdates, appointments, nada. That is my time. I have my iphone alarm set to go off with scheduled reminders for each of the classes so I never miss them. They are now a significant part of my life. At a minimum, I go to my two yoga classes and my weights class, weekly. If I can do more, (yay!!) I do more. But never less. Those three days are for me. & we run our errands or go the pool at the gym afterwards. (During the school year, my gym time happens on the days that caroline is at school; she does come with me on the weekend.) Each of my babes have a scheduled activity on one of the other days of the week. I leave one day open for socializing (I am an introvert by nature, so that is all I need!) and then we have Church Sundays. So if you do the math, I keep pretty busy. Just the way I like it.
Like anything in life, it’s all about priorities. I’m learning it is okay to put myself first. I’ve had plenty of eyebrows raised at my busy schedule, but you know, not many people live the kind of life I do. I have to get out of the house within two hours of getting up or my kids LOSE it! (or I lose it, seeing as though there is no one around to give me a little help or break up my day!) We’re just busy bodies. :)
So while my Losing the Baby Weight article is far & away the most visited page on my site, the role exercise plays in my life is far more significant than for vanity’s sake. Yes, I think muscles are hot. But I love being strong. & even more than that, I love being happier for the sake of my family. & for me. Exercise makes me a HAPPIER mom. a BETTER mom. & I can only hope that modeling it as a priority will help shape my children’s values for a lifetime of healthy living.
& if not, well. At least I was a lot less grumpy during their childhood. ;)
You know that feeling when your insides match your outsides?
…when you finally can say…
“YES! I look EXACTLY how I FEEL?”
You know that feeling. & right now, that is how I feel too. This design concept has been rolling in my head for years and after I saw Noomie Doodles work, and she made me some custom art of my own, I knew we had to partner for this project. She was just lovely & is responsible for bringing part of my vision to life. The berries, picture frames & beautiful green herringbone designs are her original artwork, all the way from Indonesia. I used some of her color washes to create the ombre logo that’s been in my head forever. The rest is my brainchild. Glad to finally be putting some of my college degree to good use! HA! I’m in love. It’s PERFECT.
Rustic. Modern. Fresh. Bright. Clean.
Now if only my house could match my blog…we’d really be talking.
So enough words, you can start poking around. I would love to know if there is anything that seems “off” to you. Or maybe you love it too & just want to say hello. Either way, I’m glad you are still here. I am hoping this beautiful new creative haven, as I like to call her, will inspire me to write more. It is already. :)
- some things will be updated over time (treasury, printable recipes & misc pages) so please excuse anything that still doesn’t match the new stuff. I’m working on it during naptimes & at night!
- the frames above are CLICKABLE! Hooray! They will get you to the BIG topics here. (is that helpful?)
- the tiles on the right are also clickable (roll over them for details!), and they’ll take you straight to your favorite articles. (did I miss any?)
- see the little “subscribe” button on the right side? you can get my articles straight to your inbox if you haven’t quite figured out RSS and don’t want to miss anything. Yay!
I think that is it! I would LOVE your feedback. :) I’m leaving this post without a picture so you can just take it all in. Ahhh. I feel 50lbs lighter. WAHOOO!
Ahh. Summer. We just returned from an awesome trip back to my home, the San Francisco Bay and I have not yet had the will to pull my kids off California time. Getting up at 9:30 just seems right!? (Going to bed at 9:30 is another story…) But, gosh, what a fun time we had. I brought my fancy camera to the beach in Half Moon Bay & ah. What a sight. :)
I spent nine days rediscovering my home through the eyes of my own children. It was so fun. Monterey Bay Aquarium. Sea Lions at Pier 39. Philz Coffee. Parks, parks & more parks. Caroline pretty much refused shoes the whole trip. With the absence of Texas fire ants, she insisted on being just like “wapunzel” and so barefoot she was. This was the kids’ first time to the ocean and despite the frigid temps, I could hardly get caroline to leave. She just LOVED having sandy toes. Everett on the other hand, ha. Well, this is the one and only place where he stood absolutely still. I think I need a sandbox in my living room. Just so I can cook dinner.
I handed my fancy camera over to my brother. What a treasure. There’s just somethin’ about little boys…
But now I am back. Back to the norm. Later wake ups mean later bedtimes & this midnight oil I’ve found myself burning has been really good. I am knee deep into that site redesign I promised & I am excited. I feel a bit paralyzed by my current site. I’m frankly, sick of looking at it. It doesn’t feel like “me” anymore. Thankfully, that is going to change very soon. BUT…after asking for some feedback on the styleberry facebook page, I was inspired. Many of you said you didn’t care what it looked like here, you just wanted something new to read. So NEW it is!
I am over on The Creative Mama today professing my love of all things Panini & sharing how I make our fave “brinner,” pictured below. But I also wanted to give you ALL my favorite panini recipes, since they are a huge part of my summer staple menu. Light, easy & pretty quick if you take some short cuts. So head on over there for the scoop on my panini press & how I keep the kids involved in the process & then head back for my favorite SIMPLE concoctions all shared here.
So here they are, all my Panini recipes. Of course, better quality ingredients will make a better sandwich & I buy the best I can afford. I use fresh cheeses, veggies, bread and organic meats. These also make great lunches for the hubby to take to work if you make extra. Enjoy!
- bread: sourdough
- inside: eggs + cheese + bacon
- served with: fruit, hash browns & OJ
- bread: sourdough
- inside: pastrami + havarti
- served with: honey+mustard dipping sauce, sweet potato fries
CHICKEN, BACON & AVOCADO PANINI
- bread: sourdough
- spread (inside, on the bread): mayo + 5ish chopped garlic cloves
- inside: rotisserie chicken + bacon + avocado
- served with: fries or chips or a salad
TUSCAN CHICKEN PANINI
- bread: ciabiatta
- spread (inside, on the bread): 1/2 c mayo + 1 TBSP sour cream + 3 TBSP pesto
- inside: chicken (I marinate overnight with my favorite balsamic, then grill first) + sliced red onion + mozzarella ( & if you wish, + tomato + greens)
- served with: salad
BUFFALO CHICKEN PANINI
- bread: sourdough
- spread (inside, on the bread): 6TBSP mayo + 1/2 c blue cheese
- inside: chicken (I broil chicken tenders, 6m each side on a broiler pan) coated in buffalo sauce to taste
- served with: onion rings + salad
SOUTHWESTERN TURKEY PANINI
- bread: wheat/multigrain
- spread (inside, on the bread): 1 avocado + 2 TBSP lime juice + 1-2 TBSP chopped, pickled jalapenos
- inside: rotisserie chicken + bacon + tomato
- served with: fries + salad
CLASSIC GRILLED CHEESE PANINI
I hope this gives you some good summer dinner ideas! These make up a huge chunk of our summer eats. Light, easy, quick. Yum, yum. Many of you keep asking what I make for my kids and the answer is really simple: exactly what I make for me. They eat all the sandwiches above. I just lighten up on the jalapeños on the SW Turkey panini & take it easy on the sauce for the Buffalo Chicken, but they gobble them right up with us. I am a firm believer in NOT cooking separate meals for children. Why not expose them to a rich variety of flavors? :) Plus, less work for mama. Win, WIN!
I hope you summer is off to a great start! :)
…the MIDWEST! WAHOO!!! My hubby has “matched” again, and will be spending another three years perfecting the art of fixing broken hearts. :) OOh boy. A whole new city! A whole different climate!! & a whole new challenge: being ME and making a RENTAL house a home. Eek.
I am just slightly panicking, since I have always owned my own home & made it just exactly how I want it, but it’d be silly to buy given our short stay. So…we’ll rent. & I foresee a lot of time to blog (because major household projects will be at a minimum, wah!) AND lots of new ideas on making a rental property feel like home. I know one thing for sure–we’ll be having lots of fun outside…out of this nasty heat! YESSS!!
Any tips/advice on the St. Louis area are greatly appreciated–the city is completely foreign to me! :) We will be relocating in 2014. :)