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Outdoor Decorative Pillows {Friday Finds}

I have a neighbor who always has the cutest porch ever. So cute. She is a fantastic decorator and I am always inspired by her. My porch has always been a neighborhood hangout, so I have always been hesitant to do much decorating there. It is just easier for me to not really care about the things on the porch so if (when) things get ruined, I don't care.

The neighborhood is getting older, though, and with that brings more exciting places to hang. So I am starting to add some things. This post contains affiliate links. 

My first step is these cute outdoor pillows. I didn't want to spend a ton of money on the outdoor pillow, and they can really get pricey! These were inexpensive. They are pretty flat; these are not pillows you will want for extreme comfort. They are, however, adorable! And for an outdoor decoration, perfect!

They have several color options. I got these for fall. I like them enough I want to get something for each season! 

I also think I want to get a plaid blanket for each chair, but I need to find something very inexpensive to take that plunge.

    Related Posts:

    Recognizing Various Areas of Giftedness

     Recognizing giftedness

    It can be hard for a parent to declare his/her own child "gifted." We all think our child is basically the most amazing human to grace the Earth, correct? Surely no kidism was ever more entertaining than the one from our own child's mouth. No first step was as impressive. No first wave bye-bye as charming. We naturally think our children are pretty amazing.

    Because of that, it is hard to look at our child without bias and decide if the child is gifted or not. If your child goes to school, you have the benefit of having teachers who are with children the same age as your child year after year. A teacher can more accurately clue you in to if your child is gifted or not. 

    But even that can take years. Understandably, most schools will not declare a child gifted until around the third grade. Before that point, it is hard to differentiate gifted from well-nurtured. Even more often, you will just have teachers who don't feel comfortable just coming out with it. I have noticed that older teachers are very comfortable telling you exactly where your child stands, while less-experienced teachers dance around the issue, if they broach it at all. I was not told by a teacher that Brayden was gifted until he was in third grade. At that point, the district had labeled him as such. But he also had a teacher who was one who would just tell you exactly how it was.

    What she told me was that she had not had a child that intelligent in all of her years of teaching. This is a teacher who is at retirement age. I was a bit surprised. I was surprised that I could have a child at that level and have his third grade teacher be the first to tell me so. 

    Kaitlyn has also been labeled gifted by the district. I heard from teachers more with her in the younger grades. I think maybe since Brayden was they felt more comfortable saying yes, she is also gifted. 

    Unfortunately in a school setting, they only focus on very small areas of giftedness. A common area in the elementary years is linguistically gifted. This is basically with the language arts.  Sometimes, if you are lucky, mathematics will also be recognized on an elementary area, There are so many more areas of giftedness, however. Any gifted child, gifted in any area, will benefit from that being recognized and having parents and those close to them understand the strenghts and limitations that come with giftedness. For example, a gifted child is often lacking in social skills (see A Parent's Guide to Gifted Children, page 7). As a parent, this is super helpful to understand! You have such an intelligent child who can't seem to grasp basic social norms. There are better ways than others to help your child work through weaknesses. 

    Recognizing giftednessConversely, there is such thing as having social giftedness.

    There are seven commonly acknowledged areas of giftedness  (see A Parent's Guide to Gifted Children, page 8):
    • Linguistic
    • Musical
    • Logical-Mathematical
    • Visual-Spacial
    • Bodily-Kinesthetic
    • Interpersonal (with others)
    • Intrapersonal (with self)
    Some of these areas can be nurtured outside of the school setting. A musically gifted child can take music lessons. A kinesthetically gifted child can play a variety of sports. Others, like intrapersonal giftedness are rarely recognized at all. 

    It is important to realize that all people have at least talents in some area. If a person isn't the star atheltete, maybe she is very musically talented or gifted. The child who has excellent social skills might struggle with linguistics. Recognize what your child is good at and nurture those talents to help them grow stronger. 

    And all things can grow. Just because a child has poor natural social skills doesn't mean you don't teach that child to develop good social skills. All people can improve upon their weaknesses. And all strengths can be nurtured. 

    Take a moment to evaluate how your child shows strength and talent. Nurture those areas of life. Help your child grow in his weak areas. 

    Baby Monitors {Plus a Giveaway!}

    Baby monitors

    “This giveaway is a partnership with Nakturnal, with a prize of a gift certificate”

    When Brayden was a baby, we lived in a small space with no bedrooms. When he was about six months old, I finally had the bright idea to put him in the large bathroom to sleep so that our open concept house didn't go on lockdown every time he had a nap. It was all one floor and a small space overall, so the next part is comical. I used a baby monitor. Yep. I was never more than 50 steps away from him, but I felt compelled to use a baby monitor so I could hear every deep breath he took. And of course you know if I was using a baby monitor, it was up as loudly as it could go. Clearly I love baby monitors.

    My love for baby monitors has not diminished over the years. As our family has grown, we have moved into larger homes, and the home we are currently in actually warrants a baby monitor. If my baby cried, I wouldn't be able to hear my baby without the monitor. 

    A baby monitor definitely is a double-edged sword. When you can hear every breath your child makes, then you probably aren't sleeping as well as you could, and your baby likely isn't, either. For example, when Brayden was a baby, I prided myself on being at his side the second he made a peep in the night. I am a very light sleeper, and I have found being a mother with a newborn only makes me more light. 

    As more babies came my way, I came to realize that babies make noise while sleeping. Lots of noise. While sleeping. This means that many times, those peeps were made while asleep. I learned with my girls to wait a bit before jumping to pick them up. I would wait and make sure they were actually awake and not just making noise in their sleep. So having a baby monitor can lead you to reacting too fast to every noise your child makes

    As time went on, new things came to be common for the nursery list. Among those was the video monitor. If the baby monitor was something to magnify sounds, the video monitor added a whole new dimension to the parenting picture. I came to realize things. Things like, times where I thought a baby had quietly drifted to sleep and then woke 20 minutes later crying were actually times the baby was awake for 20 minutes before crying. That is a game changer because it changes how you approach waketime in the future. One way means waketime was too long, the other means it was too short. That is helpful and vital information! 

    It also helped me know with Brinley, my fourth baby, that often she cried in her sleep, even as an older baby. She didn't just do that as a newborn. She did it as a "veteran" baby. Now, I had been around the parenting block enough times to know to not rush in right away, but the video monitor helped me know to not rush in at all. She was still asleep. She would cry for a couple of minutes and then quietly continue sleeping. 

    Baby monitorsSome people like to stop using monitors as soon as baby consistently sleeps through the night, which isn't necessarily a bad idea. It will probably leave you sleeping better at night. But like I said, I like baby monitors. Brinley still has both her sound baby monitor and her video monitor in her bedroom. If you worry about removing the monitor all together, you can always turn it way down. And I get it! Monitors can disrupt your sleep.

    When McKenna was a baby, I had to put the monitor as far across the room from me as possible, on the lowest volume setting, covered by a pillow, and I slept with ear plugs. I still heard her just fine. My husband never heard her before I did. So I get the trouble monitors can cause with sleep. If you live in a home with a setup where you can ditch the monitor, it can definitely be helpful to your sleep!

    By the way, let me throw  plug in for the baby monitor we use for Brinley. It is a VTech Safe & Sound Digital Audio Monitor. It still works as well as it did the first day we got it (four years ago). Also, something very helpful for me is that it doesn't send every peep over the monitor. It waits until the sound is consistent. So you don't hear unless your baby is really, actually crying. Fabulous. 

    I have come a long way since my days of using a baby monitor basically needlessly. Despite any sleep I may have lost with the monitor use, it has been instrumental in me recognizing patterns and deciphering cries for my babies. It has helped me get to know them faster and address their needs with more accuracy. So I am a big believer. 

    For fun today, we have a giveaway! The prize is a $50 USD gift card! You can use that $50 to buy a monitor or something else you need for your baby. 

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Entry Rules
    • You must enter the giveaway to have an entry.
    • You must fulfill the requirement to enter. Commenting on this post is mandatory.
    • Entries will be accepted until 12:00 AM October 7, 2016.
    • The winner will be randomly selected through Rafflecopter.
    • The winner will be announced sometime after the winner is chosen. I will email the winner.
    • Once the winner is announced, you will have one week to contact me or another winner will be chosen. Be sure to check back and/or check your email. The only thing worse than not winning is to win but not realize it in time.
    • I will not use your email address for any purpose other than contacting you if you are the winner (and FYI, I don't have access to the email addresses except for the winner).

    How To Respond to Your Emotional Preschooler

    How to respond to your emotional preschooler

    "Mama I love it when you hug me. It makes my heart grow bigger," my little four year old told me as I gave her a good night hug. This is the sweet side of the four year old emotional roller-coaster. The high. The lows involve melting down into a puddle of hurt feelings over you asking her to put pants on. Preschoolers can be quite emotional. The lows are low, but the highs are so high.

    These highs and lows can literally be from one minute to the next. Your little cutie can be laughing her head off one second, then laying on the floor crying about something you "never" let her do. Literally one minute later, she will be back up to joyful. 

    It is basically a year-long ride and it goes and goes. I love thrill rides, but every so often you need a break. The ride can leave you feeling disoriented and confused and you have no idea how to respond. I have some tips for you. 

    I find it very helpful to empathize. I don't do it in a way that says, "Yes, you are so right. Your life IS the worst!" I do it in a way of, "Oh, are you feeling sad? I am so sorry you are sad!" Whether or not we find it justified, her favorite boots being too small for her seems like the end of her world right now. Just be happy you have raised her in an environment so far that something like that is the most upsetting event in her life. No matter how important it seems to you, it is important to her and she is trying to figure out how to deal with emotions. 

    Help her explain how she is feeling. Upset. Frustrated. Mad. Sad. Angry. Disappointed. Help her recognize and label the feelings. These will help her understand and grasp her feelings better. 

    3-Hug It Out
    I find it is very helpful to wrap that child in a hug and let her be upset. I do the "sorry you are sad" and the labeling while in the hug. The way my personality is, I will hug them even if they protest. I manage to keep things light while doing this and it basically just turns in to her laughing instead of crying. If you try a hug it out with your child and that doesn't fly, abandon the hug idea.

    The tools of distraction and substitution worked wonders for the toddler and they still can be effective for the preschooler. "You can't wear shorts when it is 30 degrees outside, but you can wear these beautiful pants! Look at these! Wahoo!" Be excited, sell the option, and your child will move out of the grump and into the fun.
    Emotional Preschoolers

    5-Issue a Time-Out
    Sometimes an emotional outburst will turn into an all-out tantrum. If the emotion turns to a screaming tantrum, I tell her that she needs to get control of herself or she will need a time-out. Taking a time-out when you are not in control of your emotions is just a good idea in general. This is true for adults and four year olds alike. I have her go to a time out until she has calmed down. I don't do this unless my steps above don't work and only when it has turned into the tantrum.

    6-Recognize it is a Time of Learning
    The wild emotions can be confusing and frustrating, but  remember that this is a time of development. Your child is developing emotions. Just like the story I shared at the beginning, that comes with good as well. That comes with greater love and the child starting to look outside of herself more.

    7-Respond With Patience
    Your attitude as a parent carries so much power over your children. I know sometimes you have had it and need a time out yourself. If that is the case, get your child in a safe place and go compose yourself. Do all you can to maintain control and patience with your child. If you respond to the big emotions with frustration and anger, it will not help your child break the emotional outburst. The things above can help.

    Just keep some things in mind. Your child is not being emotional to get to you. Do not take the behavior personally. It isn't about you. It is about your child. Your child is feeling new feelings and doesn't know how to navigate them. Your example will help your child learn how to respond when she is feeling anger and frustration. Be gentle and patient and you can help your child turn that frown upside down quickly. Remember, roller coaster. Hang in there and you will be up on a high in no time.

    You might find your child is having a hard time coming out of the bad mood. Typically with a preschooler, that ride is driving itself and you will be at a peak cheering before you have fully processed the low point, but in case the ride gets stuck, be sure to read my tips on correcting for attitude.

    Should You Correct for Attitude

    Should You Correct for Attitude?

    If you don't already, be sure to follow me on Facebook. I share what is posted here each day along with other articles I find helpful and interesting. I also answer questions and do live Q&As each week. It is a great way to connect!

    You can also find me on Instagram, posting pictures from our days as well as quick tips.

    How To Calculate Waketime Length

    You know waketime length is very important for good naps, but you have no idea how to calculate waketime length. When do you start? When do you end? How do you know how long your baby was up? This post answers that for you. 

    How To Calculate Waketime Length

    If you want your baby to take a nice long nap, one of the most important bits of knowledge for you to have is to know how to properly calculate waketime length. The cornerstone for a good nap is having the correct waketime legnth. I have talked extensively about how to figure waketime length out and have given you ballpark numbers to aim for.

    That is all great knowledge, but you need to know how to calculate waketime length. 

    Waketime starts when your baby wakes up.

    Waketime ends when you put your baby in his crib for a nap (or bedtime).

    Waketime DOES include feeding time. It is time your baby is awake. 

    Easy right?!?!? 

    It sounds easy until you add in the "What ifs". 

    What if your baby doesn't fall asleep for thirty minutes, is that still when waketime ended?
    Yes. The purpose of even calculating waketime length is to know how long is perfect for your baby to fall asleep quickly and take a good nap. That thirty minutes awake will not be "nap" time, but it also isn't calculated into your "waketime." Take note that with that waketime length, your baby took thirty minutes to fall asleep. That is good data to track. If you need help tracking, be sure to purchase my Logs eBook for only one dollar! 

    What if your baby wakes up early and stays in the crib for a while before you get her up? Is that still when it starts?
    This is where things can get very tricky. 

    The time your baby spends awake in the crib before you get her up is waketime. It is not, however, necessarily minute for minute. This is where you will have to experiment. For some babies, every minute awake in the crib needs to be counted straight across for minutes of waketime. For others, it is more of a "half-time." So if your baby was awake for 20 minutes in the crib before you got her up, you would count that as ten minutes. The only way to know what is best for her is to experiment and see what happens. 

    Now you know just how to count waketime, so in your quest for finding your baby's optimal waketime length, you can calculate correctly. You are well on your way to better naps!

    These posts can help you:
    How To Calculate Waketime Length for your Baby

    If you don't already, be sure to follow me on Facebook. I share what is posted here each day along with other articles I find helpful and interesting. I also answer questions and do live Q&As each week. It is a great way to connect!

    You can also find me on Instagram, posting pictures from our days as well as quick tips.

    Fashionable Fitbit {Friday Finds}

    You might now by now how much I love my Fitbit. I find it so helpful to make sure I am getting enough steps in each day and to make sure I am not eating more than my daily activity warrants. The one downside is that the Fitbit just isn't cute. You can add band covers to help, but it still looks like a Fitbit on your arm.

    They are changing things up, though!This post contains affiliate links.  For starters, we  have the Fitbit Blaze. This is a watch that is also a Fitbit. The really great thing is that you can also get accessory bands, so you can make it very customizable to your style. I got this Blaze for my birthday as well as a couple of bands. My favorite is this one: 

    I am loving it! It is just as usable as the Fitbit Charge I had, plus it has more features. It works just like my old Fitbit did while looking like a normal fashion accessory.

    Christmas is coming up, and you might not know what you would like to get as a gift. This could be just what you wanted!

    And here is a very cool new Fitbit about to come out. It is the Flex 2. New features make it waterproof, which means if you are a swimmer, you can wear it in the pool. It also has a small removable tracker, so you can use it in bangles or even pendants! Once it has been out, I am sure there will be other companies that offer a variety of fashion accessories to to with this fitbit.

    Related Posts:

    What To Do When Your Baby Is Taking Short Naps {The first five things to check}

    When your baby is taking short naps, solving that can become all-consuming. You care about your baby's sleep health and want naps to be long enough to be of the most benefit. You also, quite frankly, need some predictability to your day and could use some time to do little things like brush your teeth.

    How to fix short naps

    So when your baby is taking short naps, what should you check first? There seems to be an extremely long list of things to check. There seems to be one because there is. I have a whole long post on Troubleshooting Short Naps. There is both an art and a science to figuring naps out for your baby. Today I want to talk about the first five things you should check when your baby is taking short naps. These five things are the five most common reason a baby will be waking up early. I do have these in order of importance. Address the first one first and move down through the line.

    1-Is It Hunger?
    Is your baby hungry? Then the first thing you do when your baby wakes up is get her and feed her. Then you try to figure out why she was hungry sooner than you expected her to be. 

    Is your baby having a growth spurt? Growth spurts happen every 3-4 weeks. Babies grow a whole lot in that first year. I have some guidance for you to know how to tell when it is a growth spurt and what to expect from the growth spurt. See:
    Hunger does not always come because of a growth spurt, however. You might have a supply issue. See my post on milk supply limit to help decide if that is what is going on. 

    2-Is Waketime Length Correct?
    Waketime length is extremely important in your child having the correct length of nap. The tricky thing is that waketime length is basically ever-changing. This is such an important step that I have written about it in depth more than once on this blog, and one if not both of the posts are commonly in my current top five most visited posts at any given time. 
    3- Is Your Baby in Pain or Discomfort?
    Have you ever tried to sleep when you had a tummy ache? Bad gas? Heartburn? It isn't easy, right? It isn't easy for your baby, either. This post contains affiliate links. This does not increase your cost at all. 

    A very common cause for pain with babies is gas pain. If your child's cry seems like he is in pain, there is a good chance it is gas. A baby who wriggles a lot is likely having gas pain. For gas pain, my go-to is gas drops AND gripe water. I give gas drops after every feeding and grip water before every nap. I do this until the baby gets to a point where there is no longer gas pain going on, then I slowly back off of dosages. Note that I give 1/4 the amount of gripe water as is recommended in the dosage chart, and that works well.

    There are other possible causes for pain. There is teething pain. There is also reflux pain. And of course there can be sickness that comes along, like an ear infection or a simple cold.

    There can also be discomfort from room temperature or how your baby is dressed for sleep. Your child's internal temperature absolutely impacts how well your child sleeps. See

    Dressing Baby for SleepingCan it be too hot to sleep?, and Some Like it Hot (Sleep, that is) for help in this area. 

    4-Is Your Baby in a Wonder Week?
    Oh Wonder Weeks (affiliate link). How much trouble you cause. Wonder Weeks very frequently Wonder Weeks post to get some information on this.
    How to fix short naps
    cause sleep disruptions. Sometimes the discuption can be as little as a day's worth, sometimes week's worth. For as common as it is, I could justifiably put it up further on this list. However, the first three things are so important that I don't want you immediately jumping to blaming a wonder week if the baby is hungry, needs waketime length fixed, or is in pain or discomfort. Be sure to read my

    5-Does Something Need to Change in the Sleep Environment?
    Does your child need a white noise machine to help block out the noise of the family or neighborhood? Does your child need some blackout curtains to help block out light? Maybe your child would sleep better swaddled, or maybe your child is done being swaddled and you need to drop it.

    For more in-depth help, be sure to click through all of the linked posts in this blog post. They will take you to more information. Also, read through these:

    Posts From Other Babywise Mamas (BFBN):

    If you don't already, be sure to follow me on Facebook. I share what is posted here each day along with other articles I find helpful and interesting. I also answer questions and do live Q&As each week. It is a great way to connect!

    You can also find me on Instagram, posting pictures from our days as well as quick tips.
     The Babywise Mom Book of Naps

    Dreamfeed {Poll Discussion}

    The dreamfeed is the feeding you do in the 10-11 PM hour. You get baby, feed him/her without waking him up too much, and then put baby back down for the night. The idea is that your baby will then sleep longer through the night. It works for many babies! But not for all. Let's discuss your dreamfeed experience.

    Please take a moment to answer the questions below. Doing so will help other parents now and in the future. It is very helpful for me when compiling answers if you at least number the answers you give. You can also copy the questions and answer them. If the question does not apply to you, simply put "N/A."
    1. Did your baby do well with the dreamfeed right away or did you have to work at it for a time first?
    2. What time did you do the dreamfeed?
    3. Was your baby sensitive to the exact time the dreamfeed happened? (for example, did great if dreamfeed at 10:35 but not if it was at 10:45)
    4. Did the dreamfeed seem to help baby sleep longer through the night/help baby wake up less during the night?
    5. What age did you drop the dreamfeed?
    6. Why did you drop the dreamfeed?
    7. Would you try to do dreamfeed with your next baby?
    8. Any words of wisdom for parents out there?

    Brayden Preteen Summary {11-11.25 Years Old}

    This is a summary for Brayden for the first 3 months as an 11 year old. 

    Eating is great and normal. Food intakes have been normal. One interesting thing is that he has recently started eating a lot at certain events. He will eat to the point that he is overly full and uncomfortable. I find this very interesting. Adults do that a lot. Thanksgiving, the Super Bowl....any time there is a lot of delicious food, we will often overeat. My kids never have. Only in the last month has Brayden started to do that if it is at an event where food is plentiful and delicious. 

    I shared last time that Brayden was having stress every so often about falling asleep. This continued on during this time period even though it was summer. He would worry about falling asleep quickly, and if he didn't fall asleep within 10-20 minutes of going to bed, he would stress out. 

    We talked logically about the situation. What would be the worst thing that would happen if you couldn't fall asleep for a long time? You would be tired in the morning. He understood on a logical level, but it didn't help at night when the anxiety kicked in. 

    We talked about praying and thinking about other things to help him not stress. About halfway through this period, my mom talked to him about it. She basically said the same things we had been saying, but for some reason it clicked with him when she said it. Ever since then, he has been fine and been able to manage any worry without a problem. 

    This is a good example of using your village. As children get older, they will listen to people other than dad more and more. Having people who can be a source of strength to your child is so valuable.

    This time was basically all summer. School ended during this time, and ended great. It also began, and the beginning was good.

    Summer was a good time. He is a very service-oriented person and would often just see something that needed to be done, like the dishes, and just do it. He has his normal chores he is over and he is very responsible with those, but he also took on additional tasks. 

    An excited chore he took on this summer was the chore of mowing the lawn. This was very helpful for my husband because he has been working on building our addition on our home and having Brayden mow the lawn opened up his time. 

    Brayden continued swim team through the summer. He did a few golf camps. He loves golfing and really enjoyed his golf camps. 

    Brayden has always been a great big brother. He is a great example, which is helpful in so many ways. Younger children really look up to their older siblings, so for him to be a good example helps sent a right precedent in our home. 

    He was extra helpful this summer with Brinley and her swimming. I have shared how she had a hard time and would cry through lessons. Brayden decided to get involved and try to get her to be okay with lessons and with putting her face in the water. She views him as the authority on swimming in our home, which is justified, so she would listen to him. He would observe her and give her pointers, which helped. He also promised to save her if she sunk, which was good enough for her. He really helped her turn a corner. 

    This is his summer schedule:

    7 AM--Wake up and read
    8 AM--Swim team practice
    9 AM--Eat breakfast and get ready. Do any chores needed.
    12:30 PM--Free time
    5:00 PM--Dinner then family time

    How to Do Rest Time {Instead of Naps}

    Once your child is ready to drop a nap, that does not mean that your days of a bit of quiet time in the afternoon are over. Even if a child doesn't need to sleep each afternoon, the child will greatly benefit from some quiet time to rest and be alone. Your child will be able to recharge and it can help him have a happy attitude through the rest of the day. Follow this link for help on knowing when your child is ready to drop that nap.

    Brinley (age 4) did her first official rest time this past week and she was so thrilled to have something that wasn't a nap. She is not ready to be rest time at full time, but it will work for some days. 

    So what should rest time look like? 

    Rest time is typically started with four year olds. Before that, you might have days that look like rest time, but still call it naps with your child. If you are totally confident that your three year old does not need naps anymore, you might call it rest time as a three year old. But read through this post and be sure your child is ready. 

    Rest time can be done by children (and adults!) of all ages. We often still have a family rest time on Sundays when our church is in the morning hours. Since my children go to school, we don't have it each day. We don't have it in the summer each day, either, but if someone is having an emotional day during the summer or on a Saturday, we will have a rest time. That child always emerges happier and more pleasant. 

    Rest time is a time when your child goes to a restful place and lies down. You will still want similar rules to nap time. Your child should stay in bed (or on the couch--see the Where? section below for more on that) until you get him or until the clock hits a certain time if your child can tell time. 

    You can give your child books to look at. I always either leave blinds open or leave the light on low if the room has a dimmer so the child can see the books. I don't want bright light on because I want the child to sleep if he gets tired. 

    Rest time should be in the afternoon right about when the nap used to be. It can be as short as 30 minutes. It might be as long as 60 minutes. 

    If your child falls asleep, you will want to get him up when the nap would have ended. You might give him an extra 30-45 minutes, but you don't want rest time nap to lead to no sleeping at night. 

    If your child doesn't not sleep, watch behavior that evening and know you might need an early bedtime and put your child to bed 30-60 minutes early if he seems like he needs it. 

    Rest time is ideally still in your child's bed. That isn't always the best place when you add in all factors, however. If your child shares a room with a sibling, you will probably want the child doing rest time to do rest time somewhere else. 

    Your child could do rest time in the family room on the couch if it is a place your child will not see you. Another great option is your bed. The great thing about rest time is that on those days your child is tired, your child can take a nap, so you want rest time to be in a location where the child can fall asleep if needed. You also want your child to really be able to rest and not be distracted by what is going on in the house. 

    I do an abbreviated sleep routine before rest time with Brinley. Instead of two stories, we read one. With my older kids, I usually just took them in and had them do rest time without much of a routine at all. I always had a baby to take care of when the older kids were doing rest time, so I liked to keep the routine short. 

    The body and brain still need rest each day. A child is at a hundred miles per hour from the time he wakes up each day. A rest time gives him the chance to fall asleep if sleep is needed and if not, it just gives him a chance to sit and be rather still. Children often need more sleep during growth spurt times, which still happen frequently through childhood, so rest time offers that daily break to have that nap happen when it is needed.

    It also gives you a break each day to do what you need with it. Rest yourself. Take a shower. Make some phone calls. Maybe you need it for time to be able to focus on a baby or an older sibling. 

    Rest time is a great chance for everyone in the family to get a little break. You will be so happy you used that in your daily routine, and it will be of benefit to your child as well!

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    If you don't already, be sure to follow me on Facebook. I share what is posted here each day along with other articles I find helpful and interesting. I also answer questions and do live Q&As each week. It is a great way to connect!

    You can also find me on Instagram, posting pictures from our days as well as quick tips.

     When to drop rest time

    How to Easily Put Together a Halloween Costume

    We LOVE dressing up for Halloween. It can be pretty simple to put together your child's dream costume. In this post, I walk you through the steps of how I create costumes for my kids. Once Halloween is over, we add items that can be added to their wardrobes. Others go to the dress up tote.

    We have a lot of fun with Halloween costumes as a family. Each year, we choose a theme and all dress up with that theme. You can see many in this post, and the rest below. We have had to get more creative lately as the girls and the son have different ideas of what they would like to be. 

    Frozen Theme family costume

    Above was 2014. We did a Frozen theme. Brayden was the ninja...didn't notice the ninja in Frozen? That is because he was such a good ninja...

    Harry Potter family theme

    This was 2015. The kids wanted to do Harry Potter. Brinley was more into princesses, though. So she was a muggle dressed for Halloween. She was also a different princess for each of her Halloween activities. 

    Halloween costume ideas

    This year, we have a lot of different interests going on among our children, so our costume theme is "Favorite Character." I don't want to give it all away right now. I did, however, want to share how we are creating a couple of costumes. Update: photo of our costumes below!

    I have done all sorts of costume preparation. Many years, I have sewn everyone's costume. It is a lot of fun, but a lot of work. As the years went on, I started sewing some costumes but buying the ones that were good enough. I now default to buy unless it must be made. Most costumes can be purchased cheaper than they can be made. Quality is better with a homemade costume, but I am not too worried about fantastic quality for a Halloween costume. 

    This year, Kaitlyn wants to be Astrid from How to Train Your Dragon for Halloween and McKenna wants to be Mrs. O from Odd Squad for Halloween. There are Astrid costumes on Amazon, but only for smaller children. There are no costumes for Mrs. O on Amazon. 

    Because I am currently in the business of buying costumes and not making them, I didn't want to make the girls' costumes if I could help it. It is much simpler than you might think.

    First, I "Googled" the character. "Astrid How to Train Your Dragon." A lot of images came up. These were our inspiration:

    Astrid Costume

    Then we just searched Amazon for each item. The great thing about this method is that many of the items we got will be able to be used for everyday wear after Halloween. This post contains affiliate links. 

    We started with a search for fur boots. We looked through options and found some Kaitlyn would like to wear even after Halloween. Blossom Womens Tara-Fashion Boots.

    We went through the same process for her burgundy shirt and a skirt. For the pants, she will wear some blue jeggings that she already has. We got some things she won't likely wear after Halloween. Arm warmers, a fur poncho, and a huntsman axe are all just part of the accessories. She plans to make a skull belt out of paper and I found a tutorial for making shoulder armor. This tutorial has a lot more than shoulder armor. This girl went all out. 

    To finish it off, we will use some yarn for the leather wrapping on Astrid. Kaitlyn's hair is very similar to Astrid's already so we will just do her hair to match.

    Now for Mrs. O. Again, I started with a search. "Mrs. O Odd Squad." This is the image I went with:

    This one was quite simple, and most of it can be used in the future. Her shoes are fantastic and will be great for everyday wear after Halloween. Her blazer, shirt, and skirt were all easy enough to find on Amazon thanks to school uniforms.

    The badge will be just a fun addition to our dress up pile. We also got a purple necklace and just chose one McKenna loved. She can wear it afterward. To finish it off, I will pull her hair back and spray it black. I also plan to get some khaki leggings if I can find some in her size since our area is cold on Halloween. We always need the option of warm clothing with our costumes!

    Ms O Costume from Odd Squad

    One quick tip, if you are ordering things from Amazon, pay close attention to shipment arrival dates. I often filter my search results to just include Prime items so I know they can get her fast. In situations like this, though, I get things early so I have plenty of time for it to take a month to get here if that is what it is going to take. 

    I hope that gives you an idea of how you can create a costume that is easy to put together. It also should give you ideas for ways you can buy things for Halloween that can be worn more than just on Halloween. We have always let our kids keep their costumes out and add them to the dress up. Our kids love to play dress up and use the guts out of each costume. But as they get older, they play dress up less and I want costumes to be more and more usable for other things if possible. 

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    Portland, Oregon Travel Tips

    When I posted pictures of our trip to Portland, Oregon to Instagram, I got several comments from people talking about how much they love Portland. The city of Portland was not my favorite, but the surrounding area was beautiful. 

    Nate and I went to Portland for a wedding. We went without children and were with some great friends, so we had a great time! There are some key places we want to take our children some day on a trip. 

    Portland is a long road trip away from us, but since it was just the two of us, we flew. We went in July, which is supposed to be a time of year that the sun shines, but while we were there, it was almost always cloudy. When we landed in Portland, I noticed we went through a layer of clouds, had some open air, and then went through another layer of clouds. It was like the clouds were doing their finest to make sure the sun couldn't reach the Earth. I am very much a sun girl. When the sun doesn't shine for days, I get tired and introverted. The lack of sun was not fun for me. 

    So what sites did we love? 

    This is a book store that encompasses the entire city block. It has about one million books. It is huge. And overwhelming, but overwhelming in the best way. Imagine being on Amazon in the flesh. That is what being in that store is like. If you like books, you will want to check this store out. 

    Yes, you read that right. Segway Tour. I had on the list of ideas a walking tour because I love to get to know a city when I visit. I like to know the culture and the history and see as much of the city as possible. One of my good friends suggested a Segway Tour. She and her husband had done one in Memphis and though it was a riot. So we gave it a shot.

    This was probably the highlight for Nate. A Segway is very easy to ride and you get used to it quickly. We had a little learning and practice time and then we set off around the city. We were able to cover a lot of ground in a short time. We learned some of the history of Portland and about different landmarks. 

    Pittock Mansion is a chateau that was built in 1909. It has the absolute best views of the city. If you want to be able to see Portland, you will want to visit the mansion. It is an interesting home and we learned more interesting Portland history here. There are also some nice walking trails that lead off the mansion property.

    The men in our group were not terribly interested in either of these ideas, but one woman in our group went and did these gardens. She said they were beautiful and breathtaking. 

    Here are some places we ate that we liked:
    • Pine State Biscuits: This is a famous stop for Portland eats. 
    • Tilt: Good place for burgers
    • Voodoo Doughnuts: Not all it is cracked up to be. I feel like these are famous not because they are good, but because the toppings are weird.
    • Blue Star Doughnuts: These were good. And a LOT more expensive than Voodoo. Also, the lines for these doughnut places are very long, so be there early. 
    • Salt & Straw Ice Cream: This was very good. The smell of the place alone is enough to make it worth it to go there. 
    Historic Columbia River Highway
    THIS is where you must spend your time. This is where there are breathtaking sites and views unique to this area of the country. Now, I had done a lot of reading about the Portland area to get ideas of what must be done when you visit the area. On every list was Multnomah Falls. We went there and loved it. It has a short, but challenging, hike to get to the top. It was a beautiful site and we spent a fair amount of time just hanging out there. We got there first thing in the morning, which is definitely the way to go. By the time we left in the early afternoon, it was packed

    As we left, I stopped at a ranger station and asked where the best place to stop would be for a great view of the area. They gave me a map and told me to stop at Crown Point/Vista House. So we took the historic highway rather than the interstate and headed to Crown Point.

    Um, this should be on every "must-do" list of Portland. The view was incredible. The highway was incredible. There are several falls along the drive. We were sad we didn't know that; we wouldn't have spent the hours hanging out at Multnomah and would have visited more of the falls along the way. You can easily spend a day along this highway visiting the many, beautiful sites. 

    Mt. Hood
    If we had more time, this is a place I would have had us spend our time. I am including the map for your consideration.

    Mount St. Helens
    The drive from Portland to Mount St. Helens is about two hours, so it isn't very close, but if you are willing to make the drive, it is a cool day trip. Mount St. Helens is in Washington state. It is quite the site to see. There are several places to stop and learn about the volcano and its eruption. There is also an entirely different area that has lava flows, so you could probably make two days out of it. We did the actual volcano in a half a day, but it really wasn't enough time. 

    Oregon Coast
    This is another place I would have liked to have spent a day if we had an extra one. The Oregon coast has creameries, and Haystack Rock (located at Cannon Beach), one of the most iconic images of Oregon, is about a two hour drive from Portland. 

    If you don't already, be sure to follow me on Facebook. I share what is posted here each day along with other articles I find helpful and interesting. I also answer questions and do live Q&As each week. It is a great way to connect!

    You can also find me on Instagram, posting pictures from our days.