Meagan Musing: March 2013

Meagan Musing


Simultaneous Naptime

My kids are simultaneously napping. This has never happened. I can honestly say that since Caroline was born the two of them have never taken a nap at the same time. Not even in the car.

(Andrew always fought his nap and when the baby was born it was easier to give in. I tried to have a "quiet time" every afternoon, but his room is right next door to Caroline's and his version of quiet was very good at waking the baby. So I gave that up too.)

The reason for the simultaneous nap? A nasty, nasty stomach bug that knocked Caroline out for about 12 hours and has now taken Andrew out of the game for a second straight day.

It's been really awful. He threw up every 1.5 - 2 hours for 26 hours straight. Neither of us slept much these last two nights, even after the sicks were finally over.

I'm so hopeful that he will be back up and running before Easter, and that Brian and I don't get sick. I'd hate for the kids to miss out on church and our Easter celebration. And I really, really don't want this bug. It's a bad one.

So I should be sleeping, right? The house is so quiet. I'm going to jinx it. I'm waiting....

Nope. Still sleeping. Wow. The power of a quiet house.

I got up super early one day this week. It was Wednesday. I got up before everyone else and wrote my post about playtime. I didn't open my browser. I didn't sneak a peek at Twitter. I just started writing, and it was amazing how quickly it was finished and posted and that was it.

One big idea I took away from my weekend at Blissdom was the power of focusing. It seems ironic that at a social media conference I learned that I should turn it off and not be social all of the time, but I think this is true for me.

I've always been good at focusing on the task at hand. In 7th grade I remember my science teacher telling my mom that I was always the one zeroed in on her during her lectures, and that she never worried about my mind wandering. 

I'm afraid I've lost that ability. I don't know if it's the ding of a Twitter notification, interruptions from the kids, the buzz of a new email on my phone, the TV that's too often on in the background, but it's so hard to focus right now. I'm trying to be a full-time mom, a part-time worker, a part-time blogger, a part-time hobbyist photographer, a full-time wife and friend. That's a lot even with all the help that I am so blessed to have.

I don't have a set-in-stone plan right now, but I think I'm going to try really hard to put some more schedule into my day. Setting aside blocks of computer time each week: these hours are for blog reading and sharing, these hours are for photo editing, these are for designing crafting and photographing.

Maybe then I won't feel like I'm missing something by X-ing out of all my browsers, knowing that I'll have time to get back to it later that day. I've already taken the facebook app off of my phone and I'm thinking of doing the same with Twitter. I won't get rid of Instagram though. No way. I love you too much Instagram. :)

Time management. I need some, and I think setting up chunks of time throughout my day for certain activities is the way to go. 

Also, simultaneous naps are amazing. I could really use a few more of these. I'm sure my productivity would sky rocket.

How about you? Do you try to schedule? Fly by the seat of your pants? 


My plan for more focused computer time was inspired by Megan Jordan, and sadly I didn't even get to attend her session at Blissdom. But from everything I heard from those who were there and from the Twitter stream during her talk, I think focus was a key component. I can't wait to go back and watch her workshop once it's posted. 

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The Joy of Playtime

Kelly at Kelly's Korner is doing a great series on encouraging moms who are in the season of little ones. I'm certainly there and could use a little encouragement. I bet lots of you could too.

I wanted to jump in this week to talk about the joy of playing with your kids. Play and all that goes with it is something that I think about a lot. It's probably because of the giant pile of toys I pick up off the floor every single night.

But it should be because I know play is so hugely important to children and their growing, maturing brains. It's how kids learn and develop. Playtime teaches them important skills that they'll use throughout their life like problem solving and persistence and fine motor skills.

I find myself being so thankful for the times that they play nicely on their own because it means I'm getting stuff done. It's hard to balance a day at home with my kids and the eleventy-billion things on my to-do list.

But they also really, really want me to play with them. And do you want to know my secret? I'm not very good at it.

Andrew's at a very fun age where he likes to color and do puzzles and he still loves to read books. I actually like Lego's and am happy to help him build towers and bridges and car ramps even if he doesn't need my help much anymore.

These are all things that I'm perfectly happy to do. But pretend to be the monster from Scooby-Doo? The giant from Jack and the Beanstalk? Yeah, not really my thing. Isn't that terrible? I've felt really bad about this for a long time, but I think we all need to realize that we have our strengths and weaknesses as parents.

Andrew is a talker and we have the best conversations all over town. I actually enjoy taking him to the grocery store these days. I know. We count down the aisles and he helps me look for just the right cereal. He often asks for the big car cart at the store - you know the one - but I say "no, then we can't talk to each other because you're all the way down there!" and he believes me and just hangs out on the regular cart.

Now, If I can figure out how to leave Caroline at home I totally do it because she's 19 months old. Ha!

But see, our everyday interactions can turn into playtime with the kids too. Have them help mix the cookie dough, get out the pantry items for dinner, take a load of laundry out of the dryer, open the door for you while you run the trash outside. Because you  have to do these things anyway and they really do want to help.

And then find your playtime strength. I really love to play with playdough. And so do the kids. I try to break it out a few times a week and we make trees and pizza toppings and all kinds of wild dinosaurs.

It's pretty here so much of the year and we have a great backyard with lots of room to roam and to turn sticks into sharks. So we try to have outside time at least 30 minutes a day and I love this. Fresh air is good for everyone. I like to take them to the park and push Caroline on the baby swing and pray she doesn't jump off the giant big-kid slide.

I also love to take Caroline to Gymboree. It's our special mama and Caroline time. She loves to get all that energy out, and I love to watch her climb up stuff that she can't break.

These are things that I'm good at doing with my kids, and I try to pour my time and effort into them. I've learned my strengths at playtime for now. And I try not to feel too badly when I tell Andrew that Daddy would love to be the big bad wolf when he gets home from work. :)

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Blissdom 2013 Recap

So I'm back! Blissdom'13, my first ever blog conference, was at The Gaylord Texan here in the Dallas area last week.

I decided to go to Blissdom back in the fall when it was first announced that it was moving from Nashville to Dallas. I had thought about attending even when it was in Tennessee, but when they moved it here I certainly couldn't pass it up.

My overall experience was very positive. I loved getting to meet so many of my favorite blogging friends and lots of new friends too.

The people, the community, were the highlight for me.

I started the conference with a photo walk around the Gaylord Thursday afternoon. I'm so happy I did this because I think it set a great tone for the weekend. It was fun and relaxed and friendly.

I didn't take many photos though because I was too busy talking - ha!

Things officially kicked off that evening with a newcomers meetup. Again, I met tons of friendly and talkative women and felt very welcomed by everyone.

We had time to walk around and meet the great Blissdom sponsors later that night before they brought in the entertainment - soap stars! All My Children will be back later this summer on and they were there to promote their comeback. I haven't watched AMC since college, but they were still fun to see.

Friday's opening keynote was given by Scott Stratten of Unmarketing fame.  He was hilarious, and I loved everything he had to say about the business of being social on social media.

Friday was devoted to breakout sessions. I chose one writing, one photography and one life workshop - clearly I wanted to spread out my inspiration!

My favorite of all my sessions was the writing session with Shelly Kramer on writing for the web. She talked a lot about SEO and the best way to share content. Her tips were very constructive and actionable, which I thought were missing from the other sessions.

Friday night we headed to the Glass Cactus for Girls Night Out with Chris Mann and Amber Riley from Glee. While they were both great, The Spazmatics, a new-wave 80's cover band, who came on after the Bliss folks were done were AMAZING!

Pretty sure Blissdom should book them next year. :)

We slept in and ordered room service Saturday morning so we missed the talk with Susan Cain. I was pretty bummed when I realized she was the author of the book Quiet about introverts. I should have paid more attention, but the sleep was fabulous and I may buy her book anyway.

Somehow I didn't get much out of the day Saturday. I only made it to one breakout session because we were on our own for lunch and the hotel was packed. A few girls jumped in my friend Arena's car and we had a great off-site lunch. Seriously - it was so fun getting to know these girls a little better.

By the time we got back it was almost time for the closing keynote by Jon Acuff, author of the new book Start. Loved him! I don't even know what to say accept that I wanted to be his friend. And read his book. And have him teach me all his witty and inspiring ways.

And that was it for us. My friend Sarah and I headed home early so I could get her to the close-to-my-house airport first thing Sunday. Also? We were kind of happy to have our own beds. :)

A few thoughts to wrap up this insanely long post:

- The Blissdom people were friendly and fun. I felt welcome and included in the community and was perfectly happy to sit down at a table with strangers and say hello. But I'm kind of like that anywhere so  I'm sure that helped my experience.

-The sessions were just meh. I'm so glad I took Shelly Kramer's workshop, but other than that I didn't take home much actionable info, and I was disappointed in that. But I do have three books to read.

-My roommates, Sarah, Mandy and Mindy were awesome! They made the weekend so much fun.

-The local Dallas bloggers that I've gotten to know are a great group of hard working, smart ladies. I think we're pretty lucky to have such a dynamic local support team.

-I really like bloggers. They're just cool. I know we talk about ourselves a lot and you'd think maybe we'd all be really into me, me, me, and while I'm sure there's a lot of that out there, I didn't run in to it one bit. Just a good supportive group of ladies. And for that I'm very thankful.

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Preschool Bentos - Weeks 22 & 23

Spring is in the air!

And in our bento lunchboxes.

I hope it's not still snowing where you are. That would make me so sad. It may be 105 here July through September, but March? March in Dallas is a beautiful thing!

So here's what my kids have been eating lately:

Tuesday, March 5

Andrew had puzzle shaped ham & cheese sandwiches with ketchup in a sauce cup, cashews, strawberries and pretzels. The little strawberry picks are perfect for spring!

Caroline had ham on flower picks, grapes on a teddy bear pick, pretzels, yogurt melts and a few cashews. This lunch was packed in our new mini panda box. It's adorable and perfect for little ones!

Thursday, March 7

We were in full superhero mode getting ready for Andrew's party so he got an Iron Man ham sandwich, and I used two of the toppers I'd made for his party on a toothpick. They're paper so I was afraid they would run and get icky, but he brought it home and they still looked fine. Whew. He had a cutie, graham sticks and blueberries too.

Last week was spring break, and I made very few cool lunches. But I did give Andrew a green sprinkle pb&j for St. Patrick's Day. It was cute. :)

Tuesday, March 19

I was pretty excited about this little bunny lunch. I used a bunny cookie cutter my mom bought for us last  spring and cut the face from fruit strips using pieces from these cutters and tiny sugar sprinkles for eyes. I found the bunny picks at Party City while I was shopping for birthday party stuff - always keep an eye out! Also included: raspberries, carrots and pretzels.

Caroline had the bunny's carrot shaped pb&j, pretzels, half a cutie and yogurt melts. She ate every bite of her lunch and came home begging for more food. I think she has a growth spurt once a month, and when she does it's hard to get enough food in her to keep her happy - ha!

Thursday, March 21

Andrew had a few ham roll-ups, cashews, grapes, strawberries and graham sticks. I loved all the spring colors in his lunch.

Have you had a chance to celebrate Spring with your lunches yet?

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So I gave Andrew a little interview in honor of his fourth birthday. This kid is too funny! Enjoy!

What do you want to be when you grow up?

The guy who does dinosaur bones? A geologist - because I love dinosaurs SO much!

What's your favorite TV show?

Wild Kratts

What was your best day ever?

My birthday - my real birthday. What did you do? I went to Mimi & Papa Jack's. I swimmed in the hot pool all day.

What's your favorite thing about Caroline?

That she was so sweet to me at bath time last night.

What's your favorite thing about me?

When you always give me hugs.

Who is your favorite superhero?

Probably Captain America & Iron Man

And your favorite dinosaur?

I thought you'd never ask....I have like five: all of them, stegosaurus, triceratops, pteranodon & domitradon (??) and brachiosaurus.

What do you like to do at school?

Play with friends.

What's the best thing about being a big brother?

I get to teach Caroline to be nice.

Would you rather play with toys or ride your tricycle? 

I'm too big - I need a bike now that I'm four.

What's your favorite food?

Hot dogs!

Are you ready for this interview to be over?


Oh he is such a fabulous four year old! He makes me so very happy.

You can read Andrew's third birthday interview here.

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Spring Break Fun

Well Spring Break 2013 is all wrapped up and Andrew heads back to preschool on Tuesday. And I'm heading to my first blogging conference, Blissdom at the Gaylord here in town, later this week.

So I guess we'll get back into our regular routine next week. :)

Andrew had the greatest week ever.

It all started with his Superhero birthday party. Then we took a trip to Target dressed at Captain America, had a playdate at the park with school friends, went to the Perot (or the dinosaur museum, as he calls it), got to stay up late and meet our friends at a dinner party at my parents', visited my dad's ranch where we played on the giant tractors, and then he swam in the "hot pool" all day long on his real birthday.

Whew....I'm tired just thinking about it.

Here are a few photos from our week 'o fun.

At the Perot:



Part of our skyline.


She tried so hard to be a big kid in the play area. I wanted her to stay on the floor and play with me, but she was not having any of that. :)



At the Ranch:




Seriously. He's barely four. Not ten! How does he look so grown up in these photos? It must be the silly glasses.


Today I'm trying to catch up on that stuff I didn't do last week. Like laundry and groceries and house cleaning and blogging. I'm sure the kids will think that's just as much fun as hanging out with dinosaurs and tractors and their grandparents.

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Superhero Birthday Party

Oh what fun we had at Andrew's party! A bounce house! A face painter! A balloon maker! Bright blue frosting!

But mostly it was the great friends that made it so much fun. We had lots of Andrew's friends from school, our friends from my mom's group, our sweet neighbors and family.

It was awesome.

The party was in the afternoon and it rained all morning. I was so worried and the bounce house was soaked. The rain cleared up just in time for the party to start so Brian and my dad and a few brave friends got inside with beach towels to soak up the water, but the kids would have bounced in a rainy house anyway. :)

So I started planning weeks and weeks ago and it was so exciting to see it all come together.

The details:

I used flowers and custom designed and cut (with the Silhouette) shapes all through the house.

I used a cutout city scene for the food table backdrop. It was made with a black project board with gold glitter and yellow card stock cut into various square shapes.

I also hung a few comic book page banners. These were the easiest banners I've made. Loved them!

We hung paper poufs here for Caroline's first birthday, and I was super excited to find these lanterns for Andrew's party. We might just leave them up all the time. :)

These popcorn boxes and juice box wraps were a last minute addition.

Water bottle labels are so simple, but add a lot to the decor.

And the cake!
I didn't get a good photo before the party, and oops - we ate some! :)
I wanted something simple to let the cute little toppers be the centerpiece.

As the kids were leaving they picked up a cape, a mask and a little batman bracelet. They all looked so cute in their masks. :)

It was so much fun, and I'd do again in a heartbeat. But probably we'll have to do something else next year. Ha!

Capes & Masks: Sew Plain Jane
Popcorn boxes, Lanterns & Batman bracelets: Party City
Color Cardstock: Michael's
Flowers & Cupcakes: Kroger
Bounce House: Dallas Party Rentals
Face Painter/Balloon Maker: Plano Party Animals
Comic Books: Barnes & Noble

Linking up with these fun girls:

Moonlight & Mason Jars - Monday Night Link Party

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