mindfulness for kids

Let Today Happen

I’m spoiled.

I can drop my big kid off at summer camp and not worry one bit, because my friends run it.

Okay, I’m busted, it was just day camp. He hasn’t done overnight camp yet, and I would probably be an absolute wreck if I dropped him off, hugged him, and said, “see you in a week.” To be honest though, even then I would probably be a mess from the separation factor, rather than worry.

There’s plenty of reason for mama to worry about summer camp! The pool is HUGE and the climbing wall is at least 300 miles high and all camps have raccoons and bullies. So I could totally worry, but as I said, I’m spoiled. I’m under the delusion that extra eyes are watching my kid. Please, don’t tell me otherwise.

Hoss had, and I quote, the best week of his life at day camp. They swam, they barreled down a giant slip and slide, they climbed, they played crazy made-up camp games and watched their counselors’ silly skits. Of course it was the best week of his life!

So when he returned to the plain ‘ol day-to-day back home, he had to readjust himself from the pedal to the metal camp routine.

Gosh, I tried to keep the summer fun going. But I’m no match for SUMMER CAMP. I pulled out the water table, and after a few seconds it would be, “can we go mini golfing after this?” Then, we hit up the playground, and I’d hear, “can we ride bikes after this?” We went to a festival, and during the games he would say, “can we get some kettle corn after this?”

After this. After this. After this.

He seemed completely unable to enjoy now.

I could have reacted one of two ways. I could have become annoyed that nothing we did was enough. I could have stopped trying.

Or, I could try to make him aware of what he was doing.

You know, if you’re thinking about kettle corn, you’re missing all the fun of this octopus craft because you’re not thinking about it while you’re doing it.

We may not be able to get the bikes out because of the storm later, but you can swing or slide now while the weather is nice.

Don’t worry about what’s next. Let today happen.

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I liked the way that one came out. So that’s the phrase I pull out often now. When we feel the focus shift to what’s next, I remind him to let today happen.

Adults find mindfulness difficult sometimes. I know I frequently have to shake myself out of autopilot. Can you imagine what that looks like for kids? Their brains are so busy, taking it all in, wanting to experience it all.

Sometimes they need us to bring them back to now, to remind them to let today happen.

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Have you ever had to remind your kids (or yourself!) to enjoy the here and now?

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clean eating

Fix My Eating – Know Thyself

I could start by saying I’ve fallen off of the wagon, but truth be told, there was no wagon. Can’t break rules that don’t exist!

Let me be honest with myself though. I know what eating what I should feels like, and this feels more like eating what I shouldn’t.

So this is the part where I tell you I’m going on a diet, right?

Negatory.

We don’t do diets around here. Instead, we recognize that every piece of food we eat works to make us healthier or sicker, and we want to pile the pebbles in our favor.
cabbage

So instead of going on a diet, I’m going to set some boundaries so that I’m fueling the cells in my body, and not merely stuffing my face.

The first step in any change, in any effort to hop back on track, is to know thyself. With regards to food, two things come to mind.

1. I know I’m not hungry first thing in the morning. In fact, I’m not hungry until about 9:30am or so, after I’ve been awake for a few hours.

2. I’m an abstainer, not a moderator. If you want to know which you are, find out in about 30 seconds with Gretchen Rubin’s quick quiz.

SO. All of this put together looks like this…

We eat dinner, usually together, around 6:00 pm. My plan is to skip the TV snacking, which is easy because I’m about 99% uninterested in TV so I haven’t been doing my snacking during evening TV time. The 1% is True Detective on Sundays, which I watch as a shared activity with Mister more than the crime mystery stuff. But I’m not used to eating then so I doubt I’ll reach for snacks.

Then, I can wait until my late breakfast to eat. Bonus family time: it’s right around the time when the kids are starting to want a snack, so we can all sit at the table together for this one.

Effectively I’ll be doing intermittent fasting according to a flex version of the Leangains protocol outlined here. Let me emphasize that I’m not usually wanting food after dinner or before the kids’ mid-morning snack, so I’m basically doing what I’ve been doing all along. Path of least resistance, people.

Being an abstainer will work in my favor because if I simply draw myself up a definition of Junk and make an Official Declaration That I Shall Avoid Junk, I won’t want it.

I should add Know Thyself item #3: keep chocolate + cream combo items out of the house. They call me a bit too loudly, so let’s not invite problems.

Look at me saying all of this like it’s going to be a cake walk.

Did somebody say cake?

What do you know about your own tendencies that make habits and changes easier?

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Post-rain Hike

Hiking After Rain

We camped over the Fourth weekend, and it was the wettest, muddiest camping trip in the history of camping trips, I think. After having perpetually wet feet for 48 hours or so, I went out to get myself some cheap boots. I kind of love them – they bring a little cheer to cloudy, muddy days.

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A little water isn’t enough to keep us inside, so we outfitted the kids with their rain boots and some binoculars and went on a post-rain hike. More like, between-rain hike because apparently we live in the wetlands now. It hasn’t stopped since Spring.

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The kids ran ahead and found this, and wearing rain boots means you get to forget about staying dry. Rain boots protect head-to-toe, didn’t you know? We took a nice long pause at this section of the trail.

Wouldn’t this be a good spot for wedding pictures?

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It’s amazing what kinds of things come out to play after the rain. No wonder the birds are busy after a downpour.

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Hello, Mr. Snail. I’m amazed at how well the camera phone did!

slug

Almost didn’t see you there, Mr. Slug.

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There were little wild mushrooms everywhere. Doesn’t this look like a little gnome hermitage? We actually heard one group of three mushrooms pop-pop-pop at the same time to shoot out their spores. The cap opens up flat like an umbrella. Very cool!

So much to see and do on a one-mile trail. We’re still in the life stage where we can make our own fun.

Happy weekend!

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konmari method

Truth About The KonMari Method: It’s Not a Decluttering Book

The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up is everywhere, and I suspect there’s one reason and one reason alone: it’s effective.

It’s not a room-by-room, bit-by-bit method. You take Marie Kondo’s instructions, you start as you would start anything else, but soon you feel something shift in a world-shaking way.

Everything changes.

Discarding becomes easy.

Spaces look better.

Bold statements? Sure, but you have to experience it to believe it. If you need even more encouragement, I should tell you that most people recoup the cost of the book in loose change they find! I’m up to $26.71 so far, and I’m nowhere near finished.

Back on topic…

Here’s the big secret. The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up is not really a decluttering book. Sure, it’s a method, it comes with instructions and orders and justification for everything you’re doing.

But when you start pulling out everything you’ve been hiding from yourself, and sometimes talk to those items (Strange? You bet, but it’s a means to interact with each item to see how it fits into your life or doesn’t), you start to reveal things about yourself.

Want to know what a radical Japanese organization book taught me about my own tendencies? Two biggies, so far.

1. I’ve been trained to build my life around other people’s garbage.

My mother passed when I was young, and oh the guilt for trying to get rid of anything that was hers. It came from myself, it came from relatives. I was trying to arrange my things without disturbing her things, and one can imagine what that ends up looking like.

Once I moved out of her house, I brought her things with me, as if protecting them. What’s worse is that I saw the pattern extend to things beyond my mother’s possessions. The house we bought had a hand-painted fruit border along the top and bottom of the kitchen that was incredibly well-done, but not my taste. I hesitated to paint over it, because I knew the previous owner painted it herself, and I imagined how long that must’ve taken, and perhaps her daughters helped…

Eventually, I snapped myself out of that, realizing that the previous owners may never step into this kitchen again. And if they did, a moment of disappointment wasn’t worth wanting to paint over it every day of my life.

2. I struggle with permission.

We had a large basement growing up, and if you didn’t want something in your room, we put it down in the basement. If there was a pair of jeans I didn’t wear, we didn’t take it to the thrift store. It went into the basement. And it didn’t really matter because there was plenty of room to store, hang out and do projects in that basement.

I distinctly remember not being allowed to get rid of clothing I didn’t want to wear, because it was “perfectly good.” We disregarded our preferences and used things until they were worn, or we boxed it up for the basement black hole. I remember cleaning out my make-up and skincare products as a teen, creating a nice, neat cabinet containing only what was in my current routine, only to find that about half of what I cleared was rescued while I was at school. When I asked about it, I was told that “it’s still good” or “there’s still half left in the bottle.”

Now, imagine feeling the need to get universal approval – my late mother, relatives who loved my mother, a person who doesn’t live here, my husband, kids – to throw anything out.

I’m not a hoarder like the people on TV. I do make regular trips to the thrift store with bags for donations. Mail gets dealt with the moment I pick it up. Magazines go effortlessly into the trash. Movie ticket stubs never make it out of the theater.

But before KonMari, the level of convincing needed to put some things in that buh-bye bag was through the roof.

By following the instructions in a short, quick-reading book, I was able to identify my roadblocks, recognize and acknowledge them as they try to stop me, then continue say goodbye to my unwanted junk.

Literally, you’re supposed to say, “thank you, goodbye!”

What a difference already.

 

Your turn! Do you have unwanted clutter? Am I wrong in saying that we all do? What do you think makes it hard to let things go?

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overnight oatmeal

The Oatmeal Overhaul

Fact: some people say they don’t like oatmeal.

I’m beginning to think people who don’t like oatmeal have been microwaving packets their whole lives. (I can understand that. I don’t like over-sugared slop either.)

But okay, let’s assume they’re talking about the real stuff. How can a blanket statement like that work when there are so many fun mix-ins? You can make oatmeal taste like cookies. You can make oatmeal turn into cookies. You can go tropical, you can make it taste like pie, you can use fruit and yogurt to give it a cheesecake appeal.

I once had some baklava filling leftover, and guess where it went the next morning? Yep, into my oatmeal.

So, saying you don’t like oatmeal is saying you like none of the above.

If you’ve spent any amount of time on Pinterest or health blogs or traditional food sites, you may have come across the notion that grains are bad for you, that they contain anti-nutrients. You can get the science behind it all in this Weston A. Price Foundation article on grains, legumes and anti-nutrients, but here’s the quick and dirty: our great-grandparents used to soak grains and beans with a little acid to neutralize some of the anti-nutrients, and they were onto something.

My mission here is to convert the oatmeal haters out there with this overnight oatmeal method.

Overnight Oatmeal Method

In the bowl

  • 1c steel cut oats
  • 3c boiling water
  • juice of 1/4 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • almonds, hemp seeds, any other seedy additions go in now

Stir it up, cover with a plate or plastic wrap, and let it work its magic until tomorrow.

In the morning

Add what you like, and microwave or heat on the stove until warmed through. Some ideas…

Oatmeal cookie | cinnamon, maple syrup and raisins

Berry cheesecake | plain yogurt, zest from the lemon you used last night, berries and a light sprinkling of sugar

Banana muffin | bananas, pecans and maple syrup

Apple pie protein | chopped apple, vanilla protein powder, brown sugar and nutmeg

If you make too much, freeze it in 8oz containers for a quick morning (or whenever) treat. I like making an oatmeal bar with assorted toppings when we have overnight guests, which is pretty much every weekend during soccer season!

What are your favorite mix-ins you’d try with overnight oatmeal?

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csa box

This Week in the CSA Box

Remember when I complained about this rainy June we’ve been having?

Well, it hasn’t stopped. wet season gardening

I picked up our CSA box in a monsoon. When I pulled up to the (outdoor) market, I actually checked out Frodo’s car seat to see if it could be adjusted to fit our farmers’ baby girl. It could, and I was going to insist on bringing her to my warm and dry house. We’re right on the way home for them, so I put myself on standby like that. She and mama stayed home, though. Dad wasn’t so lucky.

Since I got drenched to the bone from just picking up the CSA box, let’s have a look at the pretty vegetables inside, shall we?

Chard

In addition to some head lettuces (not pictured), we have another round of rainbow-colored chard stalks. Like I said before, the kids eat chard if you give it some kid appeal! Focus on the colors. Kids dig colors.

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Hello, kale!

My favorite cruciferous leaf, glad you could join us again this week. You’re getting a little massage again like the last bunch, but instead of a sweet vinaigrette, you’re instead getting a caesar treatment, with parmesan and anchovy. csa kale

Mesclun greens

We always have a big salad for lunch on farmer’s market day. We pick up around 11am, so we’re tearing through our farmer’s market purchases when we get home. A few nuts, some radishes and leftover chicken, the balsamic vinaigrette that’s always in the fridge, cubed gouda from two stands down, and lunch is served.

csa mesclun

Garlic

In other words, the beginning or end of every meal ever made in my kitchen. This is fresh garlic, before its outer layer has cured to a papery consistency. Garlic of this stage puts to shame the months-old heads from the grocery store bins.

csa garlic

Zucchini and zephyr squash

I haven’t decided what to do with these yet. Although we tend to put the hot meals on hold through the hotter parts of summer, I’m thinking these would be happiest on the grill with some thin slices of it’s buddy garlic up there. Or, if the rain would take a break, we could finally get camping and give these a little char over the campfire! csa squash

Dill

In our house, dill is typecast as smoked salmon and cream cheese’s bestie. Because, is there a better combination in the world? If there is, I’d like to know about it, please and thank you.

csa herbs

Cilantro

The last bunch got sprinkled onto everything. This time, I think I’ll showcase it in my mojo sauce. Taco night! csa cilantro

The boxes are starting to get some heft to them as the season progresses. I’m really hoping the downpours aren’t wrecking the tomatoes. Sara’s tomatoes are something special! When one crop doesn’t like the weather, another thrives, so we’ll have a happy, full box either way.

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Gradual, Gentle

Gentle Weaning from Breastfeeding in Three Weeks

A few months shy of two, Frodo wanted to find out what happens when toddlers stop being polite, and start getting…toothy.

Little dude found out alright. Instead of weaning on his own terms, he got a little encouragement from his mama.

I could start teary tippy typing about how emotional it was, and how I’m so sad that this part of his babyhood is over, and maybe I’ll feel all the feels one day. But for now, I’m relieved that it’s over. He was biting, and that’s what’s fresh in my mind. He didn’t bite just sometimes. He bit every time. I’m beginning to think that was nature’s way of showing us the door.

Even though it was mucho unpleasant for me, I didn’t just cut him off suddenly. I wanted to usher us both out of this phase in a loving, gentle way. Here’s how I approached gradual and gentle weaning from breastfeeding.

Week 1

The first week, I gave him a filling snack before bed and nap, since he depended on pre-sleep feedings to fall asleep. I would let him nurse at our usual times, but instead of letting him go as long as he wanted, I would pop him off a little early while still awake. This allowed him to relax enough to get sleepy, but fall asleep without help. He quickly and willingly started to take in a little more food while awake, and not rely so much on calories from breastmilk.

Week 2

On the second week I replaced our bedtime nursing session with fingerplay songs. This may not work for everyone, but I knew my little dude would drop everything to snuggle in close for a round of Twinkle Twinkle or Eensy Weensy Spider. Once it became our new sleep cue, I used the songs to usher in naptime as well.

Week 3

The third week, we eliminated the morning nursing session. We were both reluctant to let this one go. He didn’t want to give up his pre-breakfast, I didn’t want to give up my extra 10 minutes of lounging in bed. In an ideal world, we would have a nice, long morning snuggle to make up for it, but Frodo has something else in mind.

“Mo mo mala,” he demands.

Translation: morning banana. And if I don’t hop to, he cranks the volume and the whole house is up.

Occasionally, he’ll still ask for “molp.” I’ll make a joke of it. “Milk is for babies! Are you a baby or a big boy?”

“Biiiiih boh,” he’ll reply, arms raised high.

I don’t think he’s mad at me :)

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FIVE

Five Things Friday, 2nd Edition

Five things, posted on Friday. No other requirements.

1. Has it been cold and rainy for all of spring? I think we’ve had like four warm, sunny outside days. My kids are itching to take the pop-up out for a spin, and to be perfectly honest, so am I. It’s okay though, a kid bouquet and a French press takes the gray out of the sky.

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2. We installed the bike trailer conversion kit on our stroller last weekend and hit the trail, and I’m thinking family bike rides are my new favorite thing. “This is way funner than I thought it would be!” Hoss said about three pedals in. Poor guy has only biked in a parking lot so far. With our new stroller set up, we’ll be living on the trails this summer.

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2015-06-13 12.43.00I’m thinking a bike rack is on our wish list!2015-06-13 12.18.27Is that….2015-06-13 12.06.33Oh, well yes it is.

3. We’re coming up on a year of Agent Ribbit, which is pretty awesome! I thought I would be recycling box themes by now, but I can’t because I still have a whole bunch of subscribers who have been with me since Month 1. That blows my mind. These guys have seen the entire evolution – my favorite themes and not-so-favorites, my platform shifts and the big shipping fiasco a few months ago – and they’re still here. Seriously, peel me off of the floor.

4. I’m hours away from family visiting for my birthday weekend slash Hoss’ last soccer game of the season. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t going back and forth between, yay, full house on my birthday and a sarcastic yippie, I get to play waitress all weekendI’m sure I’ll enjoy it while it’s happening, because I always do. But today will be spent making sure the good towels are clean, and that I have extra groceries and an impressive tea assortment. Tomorrow I’ll get up extra early to make a proper breakfast spread.

I’m grumbling now, because I’m in the preparation stage, but it’s going to be great. I like cooking for people and we don’t see these guys all the time.

5. So, this happened spontaneously. No really, I didn’t tell them to do that. I snapped the photo and my heart promptly exploded out of my chest. 2015-06-16 19.33.05

Yeah, we spend a lot of time on trails. You would too if your winters barricaded you for months and months and months.

I’ve decided the five things will stay. See you next Friday!

 

 

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csa box

CSA Box Tour, Weeks 2 and 3

It’s time for another peek inside our CSA box! Every box is my new favorite, and things are getting interesting.

We’re still in the thick of greens season, so we’ve been chomping away at cool salads and smashing garlic by the head for the cooking greens. Mesclun mix, spinach, head lettuce and leaf lettuce greeted us first when we opened up boxes two and three. I thought for a second that week two was identical to week one, except for rhubarb. But when I dug down to the bottom…

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I found a gorgeous rainbow of radishes and cilantro!

The radishes added a pop of color to our salads. I couldn’t decide what to do with the cilantro first. Mojo sauce? Guacamole? Garnish a curry? Do some sort of SoCal inspired chopped salad?

Indecision – a good problem to have.

coconut curry

I ended up sprinkling it all over a quick coconut curry.

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I had some left over the next day, so I livened up some quinoa with whatever veggies I had around. Drizzled it all over with a simple dressing of lemon, olive oil, garlic and cumin. Lots going on in this quinoa salad, but fresh cilantro stole the show here.

Onto Week 3…

More greens, and we love them. The kiddos especially love the “crunchers,” the hearts of the butterhead lettuce and the other head lettuces with red edges I can’t identify. I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I had pieces from the middle for myself.

We finally have kale! I say “finally” as if I’ve been waiting a year, but it’s been three weeks. I just really like it so I’m always pestering our farmers for it. I got some extra.

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Perhaps I went a little overboard?

(No, silly. It freezes.)

Recipes to come! I’m going to make massaged kale, beans and greens, chopped kale salad, sautéed kale, kale and sausage soup… Whose voice do you hear when you read? Did he or she start sounding like Bubba Gump? Moving on.

swiss chard

We have a nice bunch of swiss chard, and oh, those colorful, sweet stems. I couldn’t get enough of this when I was pregnant. I cook it down with onions, lemon, honey and raisins and a couple of allspice berries. I’ve never written down the recipe, but I may have to so I can share here. It’s craveable. The sweet softens the bitter. I happen to like the bitterness, but my kids very vocally do not like it unless I doctor it up.

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Okay, by this point in the box, my decibel level is cranked, and I’m all yelling like I’m watching football or something. Kale’s debut and garlic scapes in the same box? Yep, my end zone dance came out.

What are garlic scapes?

The curly part you see is the shoot of the garlic plant. Our highly intelligent farmers don’t want all of the garlic’s nutrition and energy to go into the stem and flower, so they lop them off. After that, everything underground gets all the love and we’ll end up with nice big garlic cloves in a few weeks.

And you can eat the scapes! I can’t decide yet what I’ll do with them – I’ll either pulverize them for my favorite compound butter, or I’ll slice them like green beans and toss them in a hot pan with butter and salt until they get a bit of a char on one side. They’re much milder than the clove, but garlic scapes are still unmistakably garlic.

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Then we got a French variety of radishes. How pretty are those? I have a bad habit of snapping one right off for a taste as soon as I get them home. In their weekly letter, our farmers suggest this radish sandwich with sliced radish, butter and salt. I’ve tried it and it’s fantastic, but since a single accidental crumb knocks Mister down for a week and a half, we rarely have bread here.

I almost have a gluten-free bread figured out. The best tasting one I’ve made turned out blue. So I’m still working that one out.

That’s it for our CSA box, Weeks Two and Three. We’ll be eating well around here!

Did you have any big scores from the farmer’s market this weekend?

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FIVE

Five Things Friday

Five things, posted on Friday. No other requirements.

 

1. “The only job you start at the top is digging a hole.” -Anonymous

So I had this site up and humming, then took a hiatus to focus on other things, missed it so I came back to the writing game, then got hacked, then I fixed everything…and I’m all thinking I should be where I was when I left off. That’s not how this works! I have to work at it, just like I did before.

Big shout out to Nina from Sleeping Should Be Easy, who has been my unofficial cheerleader. Not in the you can do it, high five sort of way, but in a genuine, tangible way. She’s always popping in to comment, she featured Agent Ribbit on her (incredible, smart) blog, and when I disappeared for a while and came back, it was like I just stepped out for a short potty break or something. She popped right in as soon as I’d posted something new. So thank you for that, Nina! It means a lot.

2. Hoss got bumped up an age division in soccer. The board decided to advance him in part because of a goal limit – he would score a bunch in the first few minutes, then he would have to hang back for the rest of the game. At the beginning of the season, Mister and I were concerned that he was going to hurt someone with his cannon-style long kicks. I can’t help but wonder if that had any bearing on the decision.

I’m not a yeller, so the first game or two with the big kids, the parents didn’t know whose parent I was. They would audibly comment on his ability, which made me explode with pride because he loves the game so much and puts so much into it. They would also make up stories about why this little fast kid was suddenly on their kids’ team. “He had a birthday in the middle of the season so he got to move up,” I heard. (Nope, he’s one to three years younger than everyone else on the field.) “He’s from out of town and started soccer today.” (Also nope, this league is notoriously inflexible about sign-up sessions.) Why invent things like that? I don’t understand it, but it makes me laugh when I overhear the “inside” scoop.

3. I am disproportionately excited about a stroller part that’s coming in the mail tomorrow. It will turn our double stroller into a bike trailer! We can take our first family bike ride EVER, this weekend. We bought the Thule Chariot Cheetah 2
years ago because we were having a second child and we knew there were conversion kits for various outdoor activities – handles for hiking, a kit to make it a bike trailer, you can even put cross-country skis on the thing. Not downhill, folks. Keep it level.

(And for the record, we did NOT pay that. I rock at sales and coupon codes for big ticket items.)

We live in an outdoor playground, and we don’t have to wait until everyone sheds the training wheels to take advantage of it!

4. “Way doh way doh way doh way…doh… Dee. DeeeeeEEEEE.” -A snippet of what you’ll hear as Frodo is falling asleep. Hey, if I don’t put it somewhere, I’ll forget. It’s so cute, no matter what kind of day I just had, I get all warm and fuzzy.

5. Last weekend, some grump at the farmer’s market started harassing my daughter about her shoes being on the wrong feet. Lady seriously wouldn’t let it go. So I asked her if her feet felt okay.

“Yep,” she replied.

“Then don’t worry about what other people say. They’re your feet,” I told her. She went back to selecting which cheese sample she would try.

It was a scenario where the woman was kind of hovering, as if she would get a turn in the conversation. But the chat was between my daughter and me, just like her shoes are between her and the way her feet feel.

She’s my sensitive one, but she doesn’t always express when something’s bothering her. I think I helped her realize that a stranger’s comments about inconsequential things should be ignored, but I’ll never know for sure.

And that’s it for my first Five Things Friday. It may be my last Five Things, or perhaps I’m starting a little tradition. I get to decide these things while nobody’s looking 😉

This article contains affiliate links, which means if you link to the products mentioned and decide to purchase them through these links, Project Courtney will get a small commission for hosting and her coffee fund. Price is the same whether you go directly to the site or link through projectcourtney.com.

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