That Girl with Whole Heart http://thatgirlwithwholeheart.com Newborn Baby Advice & Positive Parenting Tips From The Baby Expert Thu, 12 Apr 2018 19:51:23 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 118183680 Toys Should Be Selected http://thatgirlwithwholeheart.com/toys-should-be-selected/ http://thatgirlwithwholeheart.com/toys-should-be-selected/#respond Thu, 12 Apr 2018 19:50:27 +0000 http://thatgirlwithwholeheart.com/?p=2885 One of the first rules Play Therapists learn is that “toys should be selected, not collected”. I’m super anal about where I take my kids to play because I find toys to fall into two categories: beneficial or detrimental. Yes, a toy can hinder development and learning just as much (if not more) than help it!

Toys should be carefully selected!

Avoid:

  • Electronics
  • Battery operated
  • Cause/Effect
  • Toxic (lead paint, stinky plastic, foams)
  • Games/Puzzles

Choose toys made from natural materials that allow for limitless possibilities! The child should play WITH the toy, the toy should never play FOR the child. Sidenote: The adult should never play FOR the child either. It is not the parents, grandparent, or teachers job to entertain the child. Play is about processing emotions, creativity, imagination, self-expression, and learning about the world and self.

Role Play:

  • Costumes
  • Pretend food or recycled containers
  • Workbench
  • Kitchen
  • Dollhouse
  • Barns
  • Shopping carts
  • Rags, buckets, window scrapers
  • Garden tools, wheelbarrow

Art:

  • Pipecleaners
  • Cla, play-doh
  • Crayons, markers, paints
  • Paper, tissue paper
  • Packing peanuts, bubble wrap
  • Pom poms
  • Kinetic sand
  • Water beads
  • Beads, string, yarn
  • Paintbrushes, easels
  • Chalk
  • Fabric, felt
  • Spray bottles

Miniatures:

  • Gnomes, fairies
  • Insects, bugs, snakes
  • Animals
  • Cars, trucks, planes
  • Trees, flowers, wood slices, grass, moss
  • Dolls
  • Gems, rocks, marbles, stones
  • Furniture

Building:

  • Blocks
  • Nesting toys
  • Stackers
  • Squigz
  • Magnetiles
  • Qubes
  • Lincoln logs
  • Legos

Calming:

  • Teepees, forts, tents
  • Pillows, blankets
  • chairs or futons
  • Rugs
  • Lava lamps, shakers

If you find yourself wondering what a toy “does”, then it’s probably a good toy because a toy should never “do” anything. The child does something with the toy instead. I love the garden section at Hobby Lobby and I love parusing antique stores and Goodwills for “junk” I have no idea what it actually is! I also search for Waldorf toys online via Amazon or Fat Brain Toys and my favorite brands are Janod, Kid-O, Melissa & Doug, Tegu, & Grimms! Remember that the less toys a child has, the more they play, so keep things to a minimum and very well organized. An overwhelming playroom doesn’t spark imagination, it can be over stimulating and cause a child to shut down. Happy playing!

Stay gold, 

That Girl

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Harmful Message Good Parents Send Their Kids http://thatgirlwithwholeheart.com/harmful-message-good-parents-send-their-kids/ http://thatgirlwithwholeheart.com/harmful-message-good-parents-send-their-kids/#respond Sun, 01 Apr 2018 13:12:25 +0000 http://thatgirlwithwholeheart.com/?p=2874 We are all a product of our raising and we tend to make decisions involving our own children based on how our parents did it, or the complete opposite of how our parents did it. We will also mix in tidbits we’ve picked up from books, movies, blogs, and friends we’ve observed (or even stragers). In short, most of us are just winging it at the parenting thing. It’s rare to meet a parent who has thought long and hard about the messages they’re sending to their children and its even more rare to think about the messages SOCIETY is sending to our children. Often, we just roll with it cause that’s how its always been. Well, I think it’s time to challenge some of the messages we send children without even realizing it.

Here are some of the most common messages even GOOD parents send their kids that are HARMFUL .

You can be anything you want to be.

Whoops! Not true. Unfortunately this is a message sent to our kids via parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches, scout leaders, and TV, but it’s one of the biggest lies. No, your child cannot be anything they want to be. My stepson wanted to be an astronaut when he was a little boy. He loooooved space! We took him to NASA Space Center, bought the galaxy stars for is room, and read countless books about space to him; however, we were always honest with him when he talked about wanting to be an astronaut. We told him, “I know you’d really like to be an astronaut, but you were born to two tall parents. Doctor think you will be nearly 7 ft tall and rocketships aren’t built for someone your height and weight”. We then would discuss what other space related careers would be available to him and even invited him to be an engineer and try to design ships for tall space travelers. We’re not doing our kids any favors when we let them think they can be ANYTHING they want to be. We can allow them to pretend and use those active imaginations, but also inject reality and forward thinking to avoid setting them up for failure.

I promise.

I have had a rule for working with young children nearly two decades now. I do NOT make promises to kids and I don’t allow them to make promises to me. A promise implies we, as parents, have control when we don’t. When you promise a child, they believe you can do it and nothing can get in your way. Unless you’re the almighty, all powerful, omnipotent being, this is a harmful message to send a child. “I promise I’ll make your play”, or “I promise we’ll go to Doughnut Haven on Sunday” and then you come down with the flu the night of the play or Doughnut Haven is closed for construction. The child then feels lied to. Never make a promise to a child, instead try, “I’ll try my hardest because this is important. I hope nothing gets in our way”, or something similar to remind your child that we are not in control of the universe, nor are they the center of it.

Everyone is created equal.

This is one of the biggest, and in my opinion most detrimental lies we send to children and people. No one was created equal. We were all made to be different and we’re limiting our children’s potential when we tell them we’re all equal, or when we allow everyone a trophy because we all “worked hard”. Let’s be honest, not everyone on the team worked hard. Some never made a single game and sat on their asses during practice watching the grass grow. This kid shouldn’t get a trophy! Some people are weak, dumb, slow, cruel, lazy just like some are strong, gifted, fast, kind, and hardworking. Some people are whole, while others missing limbs or eyes or ears. If  we teach our children that everyone is created equal, we’re not encouraging them to look at people and evaluate them based on character, actions, strengths and weaknesses. I want my child to notice the peer who’s missing their arms and offer to read stories with them or paint a picture for them. I want them to know that if they practice and work hard, they can win at something because it’s possible to be the best. Competition should be encouraged to bring the highest potential out of each child and it can be encouraged in a healthy way.

Happily Ever After

If you read original excerpts of fairy tales from Grimm’s books, most don’t end with “happily ever after”. In fact, this is one of the cornerstones of The Danish Way, a parenting book that encourages authenticity. The Danish, voted happiest people in the world over forty years, don’t teach happily ever after. They teach fear, sadness, frustration, disappointment, nd even death. This authentic view of the world is accredited for much of their happiness. The children are not shielded from life’s realties, but instead are groomed to cope with it and more importantly, to expect it. Parents, we’re not doing our kids any favors when we teach them life is one big happy ending. It’s not! It’s ups and downs, let downs, disappointments, failures, and hurt. But, by allowing our children to experience these things and providing empathy and love, we can allow them opportunities to learn decision making skills, coping skills, problem solving and logical thinking. We’re raising stronger happier people in the end!

Things matter.

This is one of the hardest to recognize you struggle with and the hardest to change! Think of how often we reward, or celebrate, with things. When you go to the doctor’s office, your child a dumdum. After a haircut they’re given a sticker. At the grocery store they’re given “buddy bucks”. Teachers and parents are now using elaborate sticker charts and treasure chests to award children for chores, grades, and behavior, all things that children should be doing because they’re the right thing to do, not because they get a prize. What’s happening is we’re shifting the focus from what feels good (intrinsic motivators) to “what do I get (extrinsic motivators). We’re raising our children to be reward seekers, but we’re also sending the message that joy can be found in “things” rather than within the self.

Even he focus of holidays has shifted towards materialism. Christmas, Valentines, Easter, birthdays and even Halloween for some is celebrated with things, gifts, candies. If we remove the material items from the holiday, we’re left with a focus on family, togetherness, and experiences to enjoy. Imagine Christmas morning after everyone opens A gift, the family makes breakfast together, plays outside, reads a story, and sings songs or has a dance party by the tree. Imagine a birthday celebrated with a silly string fight before school and then telling your child their birth story and all the wonderful things you enjoy learning about them each year. What if we stripped the holidays down and rediscovered the reason for each season? Would we find opportunities for learning and character building?

Our job as parents is not to entertain our children, always keep them happy, or prevent them from learning about the world. This is a very serious undertaking and shouldn’t be entered into lightly. It’s important we take a step back and really think through the messages we send our children and make decisions based on what’s best for them LONG-TERM, and not allow society to influence our parenting choices. Being a good parent in today’s world means being counter-cultural; not being afraid to do things differently.

“If they stare, let them stare. You can’t blend in when you were born to stand out” -Wonder

Stay gold, 

That Girl

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Empathy is Key http://thatgirlwithwholeheart.com/empathy-is-key/ http://thatgirlwithwholeheart.com/empathy-is-key/#respond Thu, 22 Mar 2018 18:00:48 +0000 http://thatgirlwithwholeheart.com/?p=2864 As an educator, I have the privilege of visiting child cares and preschools around my city. They all fall into a category of sorts to define their program and they all think they’re doing the best they can for young children. Whether they’re play based or curriculum focused, nature vs. nurture, or Waldorf vs Montessori, the key ingredient to a successful early childhood program is…

EMPATHY

I visited a school recently that really focuses on teaching independence. They have a few guidelines for their staff including not picking the children up, not doing things FOR them, and allowing them to explore “free range”. In fact, there’s an entire movement encouraging free play called “free range kids”. This school hits the mark on that. One thing I observed though is a lack of empathy. Empathy is the foundation for learning. By ignoring it, we may subsequently teach the opposite of our intent.

For example, I saw a child trip and fall over a step. No one rushed to the childs aid, which may rub some adults wrong; however, the child wasn’t hurt and is capable of picking oneself up. The child laid there for a moment processing what had occurred and looking around confused. Then she got up and went to the table to eat.

What did the child learn? Likely nothing other than when you fall, get up. That’s not a bad message, but it can be enhanced further by an adult guide. Something like, “I noticed you fell and you felt surprised. I saw you catch yourself with your elbows. You’re able to care for yourself”. With that statement I empathized, identified her feeling, and told her she’s strong and capable. Another helpful approach could be, “This time you fell, but you’ll have other chances to succeed”. That sends the message that failure is not the end and provides opportunities for learning.

Another moment I observed was a child wanting to be held who missed his parent. Having just come back after a vacation, he’s likely having trouble adjusting to being independent again and was seeking love. The best way to feel love is to give love. His teacher wasn’t picking him up and even stated that he was being clingy and needy, which isn’t like him. He was an age he could understand these words, even though he was too young to say them, so I intervened and modeled for her a more effective approach. I used an empathic statement, “When I want to be held, I find something to hold. Let’s go together and find something to love”. Then, I took the child’s hand and led him towards some toys in the sand and encouraged him to find something to nurture and love.

Empathy is also vital when setting limits. The ACT Limt Setting method starts with A for “Acknowledge” the feeling. Rather than shout an order at a young children or simply state a rule, start with empathy so that learning is enhanced and the info will be absorbed. When a child is rushing out to eat their lunch, nearly knocking over friends, it’s in our nature to shout, “No, it’s not time. Slow down!” However, a much more powerful approach is ACT limit setting.

Acknowledge the feeling: “I know you’re hungry and anxious to eat’.

Communcate the limit: “But it’s not time to eat yet”.

Target alternatives: “You may wait here patiently or you can be held”.

The choices are strategic and key as well. Having the child wait patiently is of course the goal, but if he doesn’t, the second choice of being held is a great option because it’s the adult’s nature to grab the child if he’s about to knock other chidren over. Then, a powr struggle may begin because chilren don’t like to be controlled. If the child said he chooses to be held it’s a win win.

Whether you are a parent, an educator, program director, or therapist, EMPATHY is crucial to building relationships with young children and guiding them towards their highest potential. Children need to feel understood, valued, respected, and acknowledged. Free play will backfire if the children don’t feel seen, just like structured content won’t be absorbed if they child can’t relate to the material. In play therapy, we practice the mantra, “I hear you, I see you, I understand, I care”. When one of these four is missing, the work being done with that child is pointless.

Empathy is the foundation of successful work with young children.

Stay gold, 

That Girl

 

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Random Shit to Entertain Baby http://thatgirlwithwholeheart.com/random-shit-to-entertain-baby/ http://thatgirlwithwholeheart.com/random-shit-to-entertain-baby/#respond Sun, 25 Feb 2018 02:27:03 +0000 http://thatgirlwithwholeheart.com/?p=2843 It’s a little known fact that the less toys a child has, the more they play. Now, I won’t lie to you and say my boys have nothing but a cardboard box and some crayons. In fact, they have a whole playroom; however, they’re also toddlers. When they were babies, I kept things minimal on purpose!

Babies don’t need toys. Babies need freedom to explore.

The infant brain is has more neurons that stars in the galaxy! These neurons need to excited, or used, otherwise they die off. When a baby is given a toy that does the same thing repeatedly, we’re limiting the brains capability and allowing the “use it or lose it” phenomenon to lessen our babies potential. So, avoid gimmicky battery operated toys, definitely avoid screen time, and instead provide rich sensory experiences with a bunch of random crap!

Materials to keep on hand for babies:

  • clothespins
  • craft poms
  • ribbons
  • ziplock bags
  • cardboard
  • egg cartons
  • cans
  • spoons
  • pots, pans
  • strainer
  • pipe cleaners
  • pasta
  • stones
  • finger paint
  • playing cards
  • muffin tins
  • sand/cornmeal
  • sponges
  • pillow cases
  • empty water bottles
  • mirrors
  • beans
  • waterbeads
  • parachute
  • bubble wrap
  • duct tape
  • food coloring

There’s probably more I could add to this list, but my brain is fried. Did I mention I have toddlers now? LOL

Besides reading stories, singing songs, wrestling, and baby dance parties get creative with these materials. Allow baby to explore them with no “point” in mind. Set the stones out with a pot and see what baby does. Perhaps they’ll have fun moving stones from a pot to a pan. Maybe they choose to throw them into the pot and laugh at the noise, or maybe they’ll bang the pot like a drum.

Set playing cards out next to a toaster or ziploc bag.

Put beans into an old sock for a sensory toy.

Use the clotespins with craft poms to make paint brushes and let baby “paint” with water onto a cardboard box.

Stuff things into a pillow case and let them dig them out.

Throw poms, bottle caps (supervised), beans, and stones into the muffin tins.

The sky is the limit with these materials and that’s the point! Let baby explore their world, and their abilities, creatively without rules or judgement. My boys are two now and will play with just about anything and I marvel at their creativity! They’ve never required “toys” to stay busy and explore. They create fun with whatever is around!

Sty gold!

That Girl

 

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Partner vs Spouse http://thatgirlwithwholeheart.com/partner-vs-spouse/ http://thatgirlwithwholeheart.com/partner-vs-spouse/#respond Fri, 02 Feb 2018 22:11:23 +0000 http://thatgirlwithwholeheart.com/?p=2819 When I lived in Costa Rica, the first place I stayed was an eco village. I loved the sense of community I felt there when we visited and I thought it would be the best place to start as newcomers to the country and culture. I noticed when I met new people they would say, “You’ll have to come to my home some time and meet my partner”. At first I wondered if everyone in the village was gay.

The word choice here is no accident. It’s a cultural difference I love.

First, let’s acknowledge the use of the word “home”. Very few people said, “house” unless they were referring to the structure. For example, when we were touring houses to rent or stay in, people would talk about the walls, the windows, the doors of the house. But, when referring to an event or gathering, it was happening in the “home”. I love this because a house is worthless without people inside it to make it a home. We, as Americans, put too much importance on the house we live in and how its decorated, but really, the focus should be on how you make the people inside it feel.

Second, the fact that people would invite me, a total stranger, and my two wild jungle babies into their home without first learning what I do (assessing my status), and what my hobbies are (assessing common ground) was shocking. In this culture, people were valued for their character, not what they wore, how much money they make, or where they like to hang out. And, it was generally assumed that you were a good person because if you weren’t a good person, they’d know about you. Criminals in Costa Rica are gossiped about and chased out of town. It’s highly disrespected to hurt others and the system works.

Third, the term “partner”. Now, I don’t remember meeting any gay couples, but everyone referred to their spouse as a partner. Some of them were legally married, some common law, and some lived together and shared children together. What all of these couples had in common was their view of this other person as a partner, and they actually were PARTNERS.

Some of my readers may feel they have a partner in their life, regardless of the cultural title assigned that person (friend, boyfriend, lover, husband) and this post may not apply to you, but I also know many friends of mine don’t feel they have a partner in their spouse and after several conversations we agree that part of the problem is the cultural view of the institution of marriage and the defined gender roles commonly associated with husband and wife.

I’m not bitter about marriage, and I have no judgement on anyone who chooses to get married or chooses to stay single. I celebrate and respect love in all forms. I have people in my life that I love and I tell them I love them; however, if I am fortunate enough to fall IN LOVE again, it will be with someone I feel will be my partner.

After much self-reflection I realized when I got married, my spouse seemed to develop a sense of ownership over me almost instantly. This feeling caused a heap of unhealthy habits on his part that led to our eventual demise. I won’t go into details, because it doesn’t deserve much more of my energy, but the expectations of me as a “wife” and  his views of me as a woman prevented him from viewing me as a partner and treating me as such. That’s not how marriage was designed to be, but unfortunately it is that way in many homes.

Here’s how a partner is different. 

  • A partner hears you and validates your feelings and needs
  • A partner laughs with you, not at you
  • A partner assists you with caring for the house AND the home
  • A partner stands up for you & never inflicts harm
  • A partner cares for you when you’re sick & protects your health
  • A partner shares your dreams and visions…even if they think they’re silly
  • A partner cares for children with you; the good, the bad, the ugly are shared
  • A partner challenges you to be better, but accepts you for all that you are
  • A partner supports you living the life you want and enjoys the ride with you.

When I find this person my promise to them will be that I will never hold them back from living the life they want. I will never ask them to “settle down” or compromise their dreams for me. Their journey is their own. I may like to be a part of it and I’d like them to be a part of mine, but I believe, I can love you and you can love me and we can share a life together but there are no rules for what that life looks like. I do not need a title to know I’m loved, nor do I need a lifelong legal commitment. The hope is to find someone I love being with more than anyone else and that they feel the same. Each day we wake up wanting to spend more time together and take each day as it comes enjoying evey beautiful moment.

This time around, I’m not accepting anything less than a partner to love.

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Never Leave Home without Your MiaMily http://thatgirlwithwholeheart.com/never-leave-home-without-your-miamily/ http://thatgirlwithwholeheart.com/never-leave-home-without-your-miamily/#respond Thu, 02 Nov 2017 17:52:25 +0000 http://thatgirlwithwholeheart.com/?p=2806 When I made the decision to move abroad with my twin toddlers, my first thought was, “You’re a dumbass! You can’t take the tots with you on your adventures. You cant hike, bike, or ride an ATV; you have TWO babies. The roads aren’t stroller friendly either. What will you do?” Then, I decided a backpack carrier was the only way to go. Surely I can take the babies on daily adventures with a backpack carrier, right? Well…not all carriers are created equal. 

  • I used wraps and kangaroo shirts when they were babies, but these dudes are pushing 30lbs now.
  • I tried the massive hiking backpack carriers and felt like they were appropriate next time I attempt to climb Everest, but they looked a little silly for a stroll to the farmers market.
  • I tried the ones where you can wear the baby dangling off your front or your back, but I knew that position wasn’t comfortable (or safe) for a baby’s hips.

Enter, the Mia Mily 3D Hipster! Hell to the yeah! This is what I’ve been looking for! I researched it ad nauseum, I read all the mommy blogs on it, read through reviews and so on, but when it arrived it was even cooler than I expected. The designers thought of everything!

Badass Fact #1:

Its designed with a baby seat to support baby’s hips whether they’re facing in, out, or worn front or back, or side.

Badass Fact #2:

I can wear my baby 9 different ways OR I can tandem wear! Yep, I can wear BOTH babies at the same time. #twinning

Badass Fact #3:

It comes with a carrying case, teething pads for the shoulders, and a shade to protect your baby’s face.

Badass Fact #4:

Its adjustable; and I mean adjustable to the fullest extent of the word! I’m 5’6 and small framed and my husband is 6’5 and quite the giant. We can both wear the carriers and adjust the straps at the shoulders, across the chest/back area, or the waist. We can choose hos high or low we wear the baby.

Badass Fact #5:

It’s super lightweight! I tried so many huge, cumbersome, bulky versions of carriers and the MiaMily trumps every one of these on portability. I stopped checking in my trunk to make sure I had my stroller, but instead, I never leave home without tossing the carriers in my front seat or in my grocery cart even. God forbid theres a tantrum in the cart while I’m mid shopping. Now, I just strap on the carrier, throw the fussy one on my back and keep on trucking!

I loved my carriers when I lived in Austin for daily life, but I’m in lust now for the way they assist me with adventure life in Central America. I’ve worn my boys at LaPaz Waterfall Gardens, hiking through butterfly gardens, riding ATVs through the jungle, shopping in mountain towns, on the beaches, monkey farms, animal sanctuaries, zoos, climbing down to the Rio Machuega, and even an aerial sky tram in the tropical rainforest 300 ft in the air!

The carriers support babies and toddlers no matter what position is preferred and get them at the right height to enjoy the same viewpoint as the adults they’re with. Whether its 95 degrees and humid in the jungle or 50 degrees in the mountains, the Mia Mily can withstand the journey.

You on live once! Strap that baby to your back and go! #YOLO

Stay Gold, 

That Girl

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Central America http://thatgirlwithwholeheart.com/central-america/ http://thatgirlwithwholeheart.com/central-america/#respond Wed, 25 Oct 2017 16:44:51 +0000 http://thatgirlwithwholeheart.com/?p=2794 Para me? Un orden el ceviche mixto, frijoles molidas con queso y papas tostadas, aguacate, y uno agua…This is my go to order here; essentially mixed fish and shrimp ceviche with mashed beans and chips, sliced avocado, and a water. Occassionaly I mix it up by braving a “casado”, or typical lunch, featuring rice and beans, plantains, a salad, and meat of your choosing. The food is amazing here as long as you stick to plant based options as we’ve learned that ranchers sell their best cuts to the united states; shocker, right? But, despite the limited variety of food at the “sodas” (mom and pop restaurants), we’re loving our adventure and new lifestyle!

And, what an adventure it has been. I researched this freakin’ country ad nauseam for months to find the perfect location for my family. As small as this country is however, there’s damn near 30 microclimates and even more variety in cultures. The country is divided into various regions of beaches, valleys, mountains, and forests. Not only does the climate change drastically every few kilometers, but the animals change, the fruits and vegetable options change, the cost of living, transportation needs, internet access, and so on and so on. After six months of extensive research I chose an area of the country I felt I vibed with and then a community I felt fit our lifestyle needs and then narrowed it down to a house I thought was perfect only to find out on our THIRD visit to it that its infested with mold! Ever stayed up all night holding your baby wheezing, gasping for air? Well, I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. The morning after our first night there I said, “Hell no! We’re not moving forward with this home”.

The beauty of living in such a tight knit community though is this- I posted on our community app regarding the situation and within minutes a neighbor (whom I’d never even met) invited me over to view her home and offered it up to us for six weeks while she travels abroad. What? Are you kidding me?!  This fairy godmother just literally shook my hand and handed me her keys. That would NEVER happen in the US without lawyers and contracts involved lol.

The home is divine, too! It has amazing airflow, which is crucial in the tropics as most places don’t have AC. The breeze off the river that flows behind the property is surreal and our “yard” is covered with lush grass, tropical trees, and the most exotic plants you’ve ever seen. We can hear howler monkeys in the distance and play “I Spy” a yellow bird in the mornings.

Living in the rainforest comes with a few nuances though that can make it feel like permanent glamping. If you can get over those things, it’s paradise! We’ve embraced the no makeup face, dreadlocked hair from the humidity and the jungle stinch that comes from sweating all day long! The surprise cold shower is humorous, the trace ants have become my frenemies, and I’m learning that the low cost of living only applies when you stick to fruits and ceviche from your local fruit stand. In fact, I’ve stopped by this one particular “fruteria” nearly every night and taken home bananas, plantains, avocado, papaya and ceviche for the following day. My “fruit friends” love to play with my babies through the car windows, “Hola guapo” and “que lingo” as they tickle them and bounce their chunky cheeks.

I’m learning alot about my strength as a mother and a woman. I am capable of living without modern ammenities and I can adjust to differences in lifestyle. I’m also humbled by some of the homes I pass each day and the people I’ve met. Their homes do not mirror any Pottery Barn magazine I’ve ever seen and their clothes have no labels, or even tags for that matter. They don’t wine and dine in the five star restaurants of the capital city and most of them have never been outside of their own villages. However, they are kind, warm, friendly, and embrace life every day for each beautiful moment. They try to speak my language out of respect just like I try to speak their’s, both literally and figuratively. I did not come here to teach them my ways, but instead I am here to learn from them. I want to learn the “pure life” and step outside my comfort zone for a cultural awakening!

Pura Vida,

That Girl

 

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House of the Seed http://thatgirlwithwholeheart.com/house-of-the-seed/ http://thatgirlwithwholeheart.com/house-of-the-seed/#respond Sun, 10 Sep 2017 15:01:11 +0000 http://thatgirlwithwholeheart.com/?p=2780 An old petting zoo converted into a school in the jungle of a developing country. Children are barefoot, half dressed, and running amuck. There are no teachers, no whiteboards, no computers, and not a textbook in sight. There is no curriculum and no testing. In fact, it’s unclear who is in charge…if anyone.

This is the school my children will be attending and Im stoked! Why? Because, despite how it may appear to the untrained eye (or through the lenses of first-world glasses), this school is the future. This school is based on brain development, rather than content development. Its focused on a holistic view of the child as an independent, spiritual being, and believes the child is driven innately towards creating, exploring, learning, and loving. It is understood by the adults, who have over thirty-five years “teaching” experience”, that play is not only how children communicate, but it is how they learn. They incorporate learning into daily projects led by the children and provide a Renaissance-esque education for them that no public school in the states could ever provide.

I dreamed of this school a while back, which was either me putting it out into the universe, or the universe bringing it to my attention, but either way, we found each other. The past ten years have been bringing me to it’s doors. My years as a teacher in the public school system witnessing children with anxiety, depression, anger, and frustration built up a disgust for our education system. Listening to fellow teachers complain daily about the poor behavior from students, the lack of drive or ambition students had, the minimal parent support, and the bullying amongst peers in the classroom. I knew the drop out rates were increasing and the college attendance rates were decreasing and when I had my two boys I began experiencing my own level of anxiety about their educational future.

No, I don’t want Montessori, where they practice adult skills every day and learn shapes, letters, and numbers before they’re even three.

No, I don’t want a private school where they’ll likely be surrounded by elitist peers who care more about who’s wearing what and what their daddy’s do for a living.

No, I don’t want the Lord of the Flies preschool where they run around like wild banshees and their emotional needs may be overlooked in the “every man for himself” philosophy.

Then, I discovered the “House of the Seed” school via a mom blog and thought I was still dreaming! It exists! It’s real! A place where children lead their own learning and where culture, arts, and logic are all incoporated into the day. Where children learn to think, rather than memorize! A place set in nature that promotes respect for the environment and helps children understand how to be a part of the world, not just use the world. I fell in love and began begging my husband to take me there so I could see it in action.

Last week, I was fortunate enough to visit in person and I cried! I cried because I watched my boy’s faces light up from the inside and I watched the other children welcome them with open arms and show them things, teaching them without even speaking the same language. I felt I was finally at home and I knew they would thrive in a place like this and that my dreams for them could be realized if I could only get them here.

They can’t technically “attend” until age three, but I can take them daily since we will be living in the community part of the year and I can assist them in their transition and support their learning experiences daily. The leaders of the school encourage parent involvement because they understand the parent-child bond and respect the parent’s role in their child’s ability to learn. Parents enrich the experience rather than hinder it and they’re welcomed daily.

Some naysayers will wonder how children can learn without a clear curriculum or schedule. How can they learn history without a history class or learn literature without taking a Language Arts course? Math is so important to brain development and logical reasoning so how can the students be successful without that? The thing is- they’re learning ALL of this and more every day through projects, activities and play.

For example, while I was there I saw students building an organic garden together. They chose seeds from the kitchen to plant, they learned the different levels and types of soil as they used real gardening tools to prepare each row. They studied various insects before deciding which ones were helpful and which ones may be harmful. Some of the students didn’t care to help with the garden, but instead decided to make signs for it. They went to a construction zone and selected materials, measured, cut, and sanded the wood. Not only are these students learning life lessons, but they’re learning (and applying) science and math skills! They’re also learning about cooperation, communication, teamwork, patience, and nurturing the environment.

All of the materials I saw in the school were designed to provide concrete experience, and reach every type of learner, whether they were visual, kinestheic, or auditory learners. The students were engaged, happy, and self-directed. I loved every magical moment of my time there and can’t wait to go back.

Bonus? When the director noticed my son’s interest in animals and invited us to visit the stables so they could feed and pet the ponies. Winning!

Where is this place? I can’t tell you! I’ll keep this gem a secret in hopes it inspires people to create one in their own community all over the world and ignite change! It’s time to unschool and raise children to be lifelong learners who know how to think rather than memorize.

Stay gold, 

That Girl

We finished up our day with a dunk in the Rio Macheuga! Feeling the earth on your skin is so therapeutic! Dirt, water, sun, air…

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Let it Aeroflow http://thatgirlwithwholeheart.com/let-it-aeroflow/ http://thatgirlwithwholeheart.com/let-it-aeroflow/#respond Wed, 23 Aug 2017 01:14:09 +0000 http://thatgirlwithwholeheart.com/?p=2767 When I found out I was having twins I wasn’t at all surprised. My doctor had told me I had an 80% change of twins before I was even pregnant. I was shocked; however, to find how difficult it is to get everything needed to care for two babies. What do I need? What do I need two of? What can I skimp on? What should I never skimp on? What might I get at my shower? What should I get now so I can have it ready? The nesting and prep for babies is endless of although much if it is fun, much of it is also tedious. One thing I did NOT like dealing with was securing a BREASTPUMP.

First, I crowdsourced a few times on facebook and noone tells you which one is really best, they just recommend the one they used and for all you know it could be super shitty.

Then, I decided dealing with an insurance company is about as much fun as pluking your eyelashes out with dull tweezers so I tried to sidestep that landmine and just buy one off craigslist. It sucked!

Finally, my mother told me I should qualify for one that I could pick up on Target and this is the route I ultimately went although the experience was not as easy as it sounds. Emails, phone calls, forms, standing in line, rejection, and doctor’s Rx needed. No thank you!

I’m kicking myself for not doing more research and finding Aeroflow! Let it go, let Aeroflow!

The Aeroflow Breastpumps Process:

Aeroflow Breastpump makes the process of getting a breast pump covered through your insurance as easy as possible. Our dedicated and informed Breastpump Specialists are here to help you navigate insurance by taking care of all the paperwork, phone calls and prescription requests so you can take it easy. Our team is available by phone, text, or email to answer any questions you have during this exciting time in your life.

To get started, Aeroflow’s qualify through insurance form asks for a few bits of information such as address, due date and insurance provider. Once you submit the form, a dedicated Breastpump Specialist will process your information and give you a call to discuss your options. Aeroflow offers a huge selection of breast pumps for you to choose from, and our Specialists are trained on each and every pump to help you choose the best option for your lifestyle.

We take care of everything, including:

  • Contacting your physician for a prescription
  • Recommending breast pump options based on your lifestyle and breastfeeding goals
  • Informing you if certain resupply options are available under your insurance plan
  • Billing and processing insurance claims for a breast pump
  • Shipping your breast pump to your door, free of charge!

Once you choose your breast pump, we process your order AND ship it to your door. The entire process is totally free! Some insurance plans require that a mom is at a certain point in her pregnancy before she gets her pump, but your Breastpump Specialist will let you know exactly when you can get order placed and will even remind you about your eligibility and benefits when your due date is near if you end up having to wait a bit before ordering your breast pump.

Currently, the Affordable Care Act requires that insurance providers provide breastfeeding support and supplies for lactating mothers. This includes a breast pump! Aeroflow makes it easy to get your pump covered for free under your specific insurance plan, and we also ensure that you get the most out of your benefits. This often includes extra accessories like milk storage bottles.

Here are just a few of the breast pumps offered by Aeroflow:

  • Spectra S2
  • Lansinoh Smartpump
  • Medela Starter Set (That Girl strongly recomends this!)
  • Evenflo Advanced Double Electric

Good news! Aeroflow is currently the exclusive provider of the Motif Duo — a lightweight, super quiet, double electric breast pump that is now available through insurance and cash-pay!

Breast is best, but having a human or two hanging from your boobs ALL day long just ain’t happenin’! Mama needs a break. Pump it, girl! Reach out to Aeroflow now!

Stay gold, 

That Girl

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What to Do with Toddlers in Texas http://thatgirlwithwholeheart.com/what-to-do-with-toddlers-in-texas/ http://thatgirlwithwholeheart.com/what-to-do-with-toddlers-in-texas/#respond Sun, 23 Jul 2017 17:52:16 +0000 http://thatgirlwithwholeheart.com/?p=2761 Anyone who follows me on Instagram knows that I’m not exactly a “stay-at-home” stay at home mom. I don’t work in the traditonal since and yes, I’m “at home” with my boys, but…we are NEVER at home! Life is too short! We’re adventure seekers and we treat everyday like a new opportunity to see and do. I’ve visited every major city (and many small towns) in Texas with my boys so I can tell you the best things to do and places to go with little ones. 

I’ve done nearly all of these with my twin boys, who are almost eighteen months. We started really enjoying these things around nine to ten months, and even more so after they turned a year old. Many of these tings are perfect for toddlers all the way up to early school aged. My best advice is to look up the place you want to go to, make note of prices & hours, and then decide if you’ll need a stroller or carrier. Then, will you need a lunch, water, or just cash. Pack a few diapers and hit the road. Pura Vida! Enjoy.

My favorites in Austin include:

  • Barton Springs
  • Zilker Zelphyr & Zilker playground
  • Austin Natyre & Science Center
  • Lions, Tigers & Toys train table
  • The Dino Park (Bastrop)
  • Liz Carpenter Fountain at Butler Park
  • Botanical Gardens at zilker
  • Westbank Public Library
  • Graffiti Wall on Baylor
  • Ricky Guerrero Splash Pad
  • Twin Falls or Sculpture Falls
  • Thinkery
  • Toybrary
  • Mount Bonnell (hike)
  • Belterra (splash pad, trails, parks, and ducks to feed)
  • HCG splash pad
  • Catch Air (only ok, a little overwhelming)
  • Locomotion (ghetto, but worth a stop)
  • Founders Park (Dripping Springs)
  • Enchanted Rock (hike)
  • Pease Park
  • Circle C playground, trails and creek
  • Treaty Oak Brewery
  • Little Land Play Therapy
  • Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center
  • Austin Zoo

New Braunfels/San Marcos

  • McKenna Childrens Museum
  • Schlitterbahn
  • Wonder World
  • Float the Guadalupe
  • Wildlife Ranch

San Antonio

  • Doseum
  • Sea World & Aquatica
  • Rainforest Cafe

Marble Falls

  • Horseshoe Bay
  • Sweet Berry Farms
  • Park & ducks by Mamas Kitchen

Grapevine

  • Great Wolf Lodge
  • Grapevine Vintage Railroad
  • Nash Farm
  • Botanical Gardens
  • Sea Life Aquarium
  • LegoLand Discovery Center
  • Vetro Glass Blowing on Main St.

Dallas/Ft. Worth

  • Dallas World Aquarium
  • Dallas Zoo
  • Ft. Worth Zoo
  • Childrens gardens at Arboretum
  • Watermark Church indoor playground
  • Ft Worth Childrens Museum
  • Berger’s Lake Ft. Worth
  • Perot Museum
  • Klyde Warren Park
  • Ft Worth Water Gardens
  • Botanical Gardens Ft Worth

Chappell Hill/Brenham

  • Blue Bell Ice Cream factory
  • Fireman’s Park
  • Public Library (toys and play space)
  • Oil Ranch
  • Antique carousel at Firemans park

Waco

  • Cameron Park zoo & splaspads
  • Magnolia Market
  • Mayborn Childrens Museum

Houston

  • Discovery Green
  • Houston Zoo
  • Houston Childrens Museum
  • Kemah Boardwalk at Galveston,
  • Dewberry Farm
  • Houston Aquarium
  • Houston Nature & Science Center
  • Splashway Family Waterpark

Lets be real, here! What are you really doing everyday?

Laundry: Laundry takes about 5-15 minutes total. Less than a minute to drop it into washer or dryer and about 5-10 minutes to fold. Add a few more minutes to put away.

Dishes: I don’t have a good dishwasher so I hand wash ALL of my dishes. THREE times a day. I can get a sink full of dishes, including pots and pans done in about 8 minutes. So, let’s say I spend about 20 minutes a day doing dishes.

Cleaning: I can clean my entire house in about 20-30 minutes including sweeping and vaccuuming which I don’t do everyday. Your house is probably bigger and if so…put cleaning off and go have fun! It can wait.

All of the above adds up to about an hour. Add in 15-20 minutes for meltdowns and blow outs. Add about 15-20 minutes for getting you and your crew dressed, bags packed, and loaded in the carseats.

If you’re awake 12-15 hours a day, where does the rest of your time go? Get up, get out there, and do something! There are so many beautiful, wondrous places to explore to provide rich learning experiences for your children. Take time to meander, play, and enjoy every moment with your sweet kiddos.

Stay gold, 

That Girl

 

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