Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Celebrate National Ag Day

I am an Ambassador for Illinois Farm Families, each month I like to bring stories and opportunities to connect families and farmers throughout the state of Illinois. 

Every day is a day to celebrate but there is something special about March 25th, it's National Ag Day in the US. The Agricultural Council of America has designated this day to raise awareness among families like yours and mine about the important role farmers play in our lives. Since 1973 this has been a day to educate the public about how food is produced, how it helps support the American economy and about career possibilities in agriculture. 

Looking for ways to celebrate with your family?

  • Visit a farmer's market. I know it's still freezing in much of Illinois, but by May you should be able to visit your local farmer's market to support farmers and purchase locally grown food. 

How do you talk about farming and agriculture with your family?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Eureka! Science Fair Ideas #NetflixKids

Disclaimer: I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team. All opinions are 100% my own.

Every year my son's school has something called "Learning Goal Night". The students select a topic that they are interested in and have to create a presentation to share with their class and other students in the school. What I like about this is that the presentation doesn't have to be on a foam display board, they could create a PowerPoint, a skit, write a short story or poem. The goal is just to demonstrate some research on a particular topic and present it in an innovative way. While my son didn't select a scientific topic, I patiently wait for our first science fair project! I loved doing these as a child and promise not to do his entire project for him!  If your child needs some inspiration for an upcoming project at school, Netflix has some great shows that can get your child's creative juices flowing

Some of our favorites are:
Zoologists Martin and Chris Kratt morph from live forms into their animated selves, 
complete with Creature Power Suits

Wild Krats

Go behind the scenes to do the things, and make the things that form the modern world, 
like elevators, carpets, street lights and more!

How Do They Do It?

Join Ms. Frizzle as the Magic School Bus travels to outer space, under the sea, through an anthill -- 
and even inside the human body!

Still need project inspiration? Common Sense Media has 13 more ways to help motivate, inform, and engage your kids this science fair season - check out the list here.

Monday, March 17, 2014

praying for my son

Mothering a boy is hard work. 

When I found out I was having a boy, I didn't think much about it. I was slightly relieved that I wouldn't have to learn how to braid hair as I struggle to keep my own hair presentable every day. Instead I am maimed by rogue LEGO pieces and listen to countless hours of the history of the NFL. I wouldn't trade it for the world.

And then there's a challenge of mothering a boy solo. I cannot be mother and father to my son. Not only is it biologically impossible, it's unrealistic. It's unfair to me to try to juggle two roles when God created me for one. So I do the best that I can with what I have. In recent months I have come to understand the power of calling on God to help me make meaning of mothering my son. I have given up trying to be the "perfect" mom. The one who makes beautifully plated meals every day, keeps the house spotless and volunteers for every school field trip. I am not that mom, and that's okay with me. 

There is so much power in admitting what you are not. Recognizing my limitations as a mom has made me a better mom. I recently started reading Praying for Boys by Brooke McGlothlin and it feels like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. As moms I think we sometimes think we have to be all things to our children, without remembering that God is with us. One thing that has really jolted me by reading this book is thinking about my intentions. When I pray I want to be conscious about what God has for my son, versus what I want for him. I'll admit that sometimes it can be hard for me to distinguish between the two. In a world where there is intense pressure about the type of boy we should raise, I want to focus on what God says is important. Brooke asks,
In your parenting thus far, have you focused more on your son's accomplishments and life experiences or on teaching him a godly worldview?
I do both but recognize there is room to grow when it comes to teaching my son a godly worldview.  It makes me think about Facebook status updates. My timeline is flooded when report card time rolls around or when a particular sport is in season. How can we celebrate our children's understanding of God with even more pride and enthusiasm? I don't know the answers and am not making judgments about how one should parent. I just know what I want for me and my household.

How are you praying for your son or the male children in your life?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Preparing for my 5K

Disclaimer: I was provided complimentary product by Puritan's Pride  for the purpose of this post. All opinions are 100% my own. 

It's officially crunch time.

No seriously, my first 5K is in less than a month so I'm scrambling to make sure that my body is as ready as it can be to cross the finish line. Granted I have no grandiose dreams of doing a mad dash at the end, I just want to finish. I also want to be kind to my body. I've been having issues with my knees sounding like that famous breakfast cereal. When I went to the doctor for my annual physical she didn't think it was something for me to be worried about yet because I don't experience any real pain. Just a lot of noise. However, as I begin this journey as a runner, I want to be mindful of my joint health and feet. I was excited to try out some of Puritan's Pride Joint Health products to help with my needs. I did some research on Triple Strength Glucosamine, Chondroitin & MSM Joint Soother®, MSM cream, and Boswellia Standardized Extract. 

For the past month I've been taking Triple Strength Glucosamine, Chondroitin & MSM Joint Soother® twice a day with breakfast and dinner, and using the MSM cream on my feet. Glucosamine helps with flexibility, connective tissue in and around the joints and cartilage to support joint comfortMSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) is a popular dietary supplement that has been formulated into a nutrient-enriched, moisturizing cream. I've noticed the biggest difference in my feet with the MSM cream. I suffer from plantar fasciitis and have noticed that my feet don't hurt as much after working out or doing a lot of walking. The smell is a bit strong so I'm not sure I'd use it on other parts of my body, although you can if you want to. I'm still waiting to see how well the Joint Soother works. I think it's because I haven't really pushed myself with running. We are still in a polar vortex so I've been focusing on exercising and easing myself on a treadmill. I think once I really get going I will notice more of a difference. If that doesn't work I will give the Boswellia a try to see if that provides a noticeable difference.

If you are curious about Puritan's Pride and their supplements (they also have snacks and beauty items!) you can check out them out online,  Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. For more than 40 years Puritan's Pride has been quality nutritional supplements available for an affordable price in the U.S.A.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Becoming a Hands Free Mama

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about the love/hate relationship I have with technology and social media. I know that sounds weird coming from someone who blogs and works in a field that requires (or does it?) dozens of emails every day.

However, now that my son is school age and in a variety of activities, I feel different demands on my time. I feel a greater pull to put down my phone, shut my laptop and be present with him. Not to mention my desire to be present in my own life instead of constantly checking Facebook status updates or photos on Instagram. It's so tempting to pull out my phone to snap a picture of my son playing or of some amazing meal I made. But while I spend time selecting the perfect filter, what am I really missing?

I recently picked up Rachel Macy Stafford's Hands Free Mama to help me dig deeper into what I'm feeling. I'm only a couple of pages in and her words have made me stop and think. She uses the term Sunset Moments to describe meaningful everyday occurrences that can slip by if we are plugged into things that don't really matter.

Life's Sunset Moments are glorious, rejuvenating and gratifying to behold--but when I'm caught up in daily distractions, they are carelessly missed...If my hands are too busy doing other things, I will miss them. If my body is present, but my mind is not, I will miss them (p. 31).

My son is only seven, but I'm sure I have missed some Sunset Moments because I chose my phone, tablet or laptop over him.

Welcome to heartbreak hotel.

As I move from reflection to action, I know that I need to set some limits on how I use technology. This is not to say that social media is bad, I just think that when it dominates how I spend my time I should step away.
Do I really need to check my email every time I see a notification? Instead of seeing what my friends are up to on Facebook or Twitter, can I pick up the phone or invite them over for face-to-face interaction? I recently learned about National Day of Unplugging on March 7-8. I'm so excited about the opportunity to make a public declaration about unplugging and plugging into the people and things that matter the most to me.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

5 Things I've Learned About Motherhood

When I found out I was pregnant, I headed to the library to pick up every book there was on pregnancy and parenting during the first year. I asked my parents and siblings a million questions about parenthood. As I look back, there's nothing anyone could have told me about what it would be like to parent my child. Yes you can find general tips on how to deal diaper rash or when to transition to solid foods, but there's more to mothering. If anything, you learn so much more about yourself.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Go to Morocco with Tea Collection

Tea Collection has added bold new designs to their exotic Moroccan-inspired collection! This line is spicy and bold, filled with the brilliant hues found in the Marrakech medina, and buzzing with patterns that line the streets in the intricately patterned tiles. These new designs, for babies, boys and girls, are the perfect fashion statement for your little global citizen of the world. To celebrate, Tea Collection is giving 10% off on all new orders!

Here are my favorites from the collection.

What are your favorites from the Moroccan collection?

FTC Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and make a purchase.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Chicago Fun Family Palooza

Disclaimer: I received complimentary tickets to Chicago Fun Family Palooza. All opinions are 100% my own.

Lately when I watch the local weather reports I feel like this waiting to see what will come out of the sky. I'm so over having the shovel my car out of the garage or trek through a mountain of snow as we head to the bus stop every morning. There's nothing my son loves more than to build a snow fort or bury himself in the snow. I just smile and wave from the window, lol! However, I know that I can't keep him inside forever so we have to find fun indoor activities to help burn off some of the energy.

I'm excited to share Chicago Fun Family Palooza with my fellow #Chibera readers. The fun begins March 15th and 16th at Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles. The show is open from 10:00am-6:00pm on both days. There's something for everyone! A trackless train ride, indoor zipline (I can't wait to try that!) miniature golf, petting zoo, and a rock climbing wall to name a few. Sound like fun?

Here's your chance to win 4 tickets to head to Chicago Fun Family Palooza. Just leave a comment below sharing one activity you can't wait to try at Chicago Fun Family Palooza. Like the Chicago Fun Family Palooza's Facebook page for an extra entry. Leave a comment letting me know you liked their page. Giveaway ends Monday, February 24th at 5pm CST and is only open to US residents. Please leave an email so I can get in touch with you if you win.

Congrats to Amy N. Please email me at laila at only laila dot com so I can get your passes to you.

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