Archive: 2018

10 Tips on Surviving Two Under Two
I am officially a "two under two" survivor!
6 Natural Hair Tips for Busy Moms
You are just as important as everyone else. Take the time to take care of you too!

Being pregnant the second time around, I thought I knew what to expect. I mean, I was literally pregnant just the year before, so what more could possibly change, right?

To my surprise, a whole lot changed, actually. I thought since it was my second pregnancy, I’d be smooth sailing since I knew exactly what my body would do and how I would feel. So, I thought I’d share the real tea, at least from my experience, on what it’s like to be pregnant the second time around.

You’re More Tired // Pregnancy by itself makes you tired. But being a full time working pregnant mama is a completely different ballgame. Thinking back, I honestly don't even know how I made it to work most days because I was so tired. Dealing with a very active toddler at the time, packing up our one bedroom apartment and moving into a bigger space just a month before my due date didn't make things much easier, either.
Your Body is Tired // When I was pregnant with my son, the last few months were really difficult not only because of the different moving parts in my life at the time, but because of how he was positioned. I carried my daughter up higher, but with my son I carried really low. My hips would hurt all the time, and the round ligament pain was no joke. And quite frankly, your body just isn't the same after you have a baby. I had my children 17 months apart, so my body screamed for rest constantly.

Baby will still come when they're ready // My daughter decided she was ready to make her debut three weeks early, so you can imagine my frustration when week 37 came and went...and my son still hadn't arrived! I was so over being pregnant, but it worked out for us. We got to find a new apartment, pack, move, and settle in right before he came!
The Snap Back is NOT Real // Ya'll...losing baby weight this time around is much harder! One because I’m on birth control now (baby # 3 will not be making a debut!) Birth control just makes it difficult to lose weight with side effects like bloat and weight gain. But I’m also a busy working mom, so finding the time to actually shed this weight is so hard when you’re trying to hold everything together.
You Re-learn Life with a Newborn // With motherhood this time around, I feel like I’m relearning things. No matter what you did the first time around, things may be a little different this time around. Children have very different personalities, so what worked for the first baby may not necessarily work for the second one. My son was a bit different from my daughter. With my daughter, she was a chill baby for the most part and could entertain herself without needing me or my husband under her all the time. With my son, we have to teach him to be more independent. He loves affection and loves being held, which we can't necessarily do all the time, so we have to teach him to be content by himself.

Mom Guilt is Real // There are so many days where I feel like I’m not giving my two year old the time and attention she needs due to my one year old needing more of my attention sometimes. Or, I feel like I may be doing too much for them and it’s harder to find time to make sure I’m present for my husband. Yall, it’s a forreal struggle!

No matter how different your pregnancies are, the thing that I have learned is that the more children you have, the bigger your heart gets. That’s one thing I can say I struggled with while pregnant with my son : will I be able to love him just as much as I love my daughter. And thank God that answer is yes! I am head over heels in love with my babies, and I am so grateful for them!

Finding out I pregnant was one of the most exciting time in our lives. For one, I was grateful for answered prayer, as we had suffered a miscarriage three months prior. I was grateful God opened my womb to be able to create life again.

Second, I was even more excited when I found out our baby was a girl! There's a lot of men in my husband's family, so I just knew I was going to have a boy first.

Fast forward two years later and let me tell yall! Little Leilani Renee is one of the best things that ever happened to me! I literally didn't know my heart could feel so full by just looking at her beautiful face! She's also in her second year and is definitely living up to the Terrible Twos.

My husband and I used to say she entered into her terrible twos around seven or eight months old because that's when the tantrums started. She was extremely fussy when she didn't get her way and she made sure you knew it! But there really is a difference between her terrible stages at 8 months to her now being a full on twonager.

For one, the child can talk. And not the cute "goo goo gaa gaa" stuff, although she does mimic her little brother every now and again. She can say full sentences and phrases. She can tell me what she wants. She laughs at her own jokes and cracks herself up, just like her mama! Does pretend play with her baby dolls, which is the absolute cutest thing ever in life!

She's also very sassy and can be feisty at times. She's also a parrot, so we make sure we're very careful with what we say around her. My husband and I don't curse, and when we're around people who do curse, we ask them to be mindful of her being around. The last thing we want is for her to walk around dropping F-Bombs!

But little things like "Oh, crap!" she has definitely picked up. And what gets me is she knows exactly when and how to use these phrases the first time! It was cute in the beginning, but she's at an age where she definitely knows right from wrong, so we're teaching her to express herself using other words like "Oh, no!" instead of "Oh, crap!"

Around this time is when children become little bullies and don't really understand the concept of sharing, so Leilani is being taught how to share things and toys with her little brother. Being the strong willed little lady that she is, she already thinks the world and everything in it is hers. I hear her yelling at her little brother "No, JoJo!" whenever he tries to play with whatever she's playing with, but we're constantly reinforcing that she has to be nice and she has to share.

She doesn't mind sharing food though! Well, sometimes. She's almost always willing to give me some of what she's eating and wants to feed it to me saying "Want some?"

The biggest challenge with the terrible two stage is dealing tantrums. Oh, and how they so conveniently ignore us and have selective hearing. That's an everyday battle we're fighting with this little one when she doesn't get her way, when she's told she can't have or do something, or if there's something she doesn't know how to say or do yet. Discipline is tough and it's not one size fits all. You definitely have to know your child and try different things out to figure out what works best for that child. More than anything, I really try to have talks with Leilani to help her understand that there are other ways to express herself besides just throwing tantrums. I encourage her to use her words to tell me what she wants or how she feels, and let her know its okay to be upset because mommy or daddy said she can't do xyz right now. Parenting is tough yall!

What's bitter sweet about it all is that Leilani is like a grown person in a little girl's body. She's literally a little woman! Sometimes I look at her like who does this little girl think she is lol. When she says things my mind is blown away sometimes. Like wow, she's really a whole person! Sassy, funny, independent, and determined. I couldn't be more proud of her in knowing that she is a product of us, her mommy and daddy. Though I know there will be a few bumps in the road as she grows older and discovers and learns new things, I'm looking forward to years to come. She's one of my favorite little people in the world, and I love her more than words can even explain.
4 things my husband taught me about motherhood

Before my husband and I even had kids, I had it figured out in my mind what kind of mother I'd be. Easy-going children, children on a set schedule every day, everything falling into place.

Funny, right? The thing about motherhood is it's sometimes unpredictable! Children are unpredictable.

Motherhood and parenting is tough, but thank God I have a supportive husband by my side to go through this journey with.

What I wasn't prepared for was how much motherhood would teach me about myself. Even more so, how my husband teaches me daily how to be a better mother and a better woman.

So, these are some of the things my husband has taught me:
It’s okay to ask for help //  I can be a little stubborn. Okay....I can be very stubborn. I'm working on it! Going into motherhood, I always thought I needed to be supermom. You know, take care of the kids, the house, my husband, all while balancing a career and entrepreneurship. Doable right? Yes. Do I need to do it all on my own? Absolutely not, and I’m starting to realize it now.

Thankfully, I have a husband who is actively involved in all areas. He engages with our children. He cleans the house. He's much more of a neat freak than I am, actually. He does most of the cooking.
Y'all. I have a man that actually wants to help. I don't always take advantage of it, but I'm learning how to. Getting it all done was an expectation I put on myself not realizing how it affected the both of us. It led me to burnout and my husband felt like he wasn't needed. Ladies, make your man feel needed. You don’t have to be superwoman by yourself! And it’s not about "putting him to work" either. We're doing life together, we're a team, and we're stronger together than we are apart. 

It’s okay if things don’t go as planned // I remember when Leilani was a baby and she refused to nap for me some days. I used to get so bent out of shape mainly cause I was burned out from trying to do it all by myself. Or times where I planned something but things didn't go as planned. Perfectionist, much? My husband taught me that it’s okay if things don’t go as planned. Learn to adjust and move. I swear you save time just adjusting and going with the flow rather than being upset over everything. 

Take time for yourself // My husband is on daddy duty on Fridays since he has Fridays off while I work. When he'd tell me about his day it would be so mind boggling when he let me know that he actually had time to do some things for himself. That's because he takes that time for himself.

I always thought that it was selfish to take that time for yourself as a mom because I always felt like I needed to be involved in every single moment of my children's lives. That mindset unfortunately came from dealing with Mom guilt. I felt terrible that I had to leave both of my children every day to go to work, so I tried to maximize all of the time I had with them, never really taking a moment for myself.

The problem with that is when you give and give and give and don't take time to recharge you're pouring from an empty cup, you have nothing left to give. Patience runs thin with everyone, you become forgetful of things because your on overdrive all day. Self-care is important. Men have no problem with implanting self -care, and us mommas should give ourselves the same grace.

I am stronger than I think // My husband has always been my number one supporter and my biggest fan. At times where I thought I wasn't a good enough mother or I wasn't going to be able to get through things because I was just so tired and burnt out, he reminded me of where my help came from. He's always rooted for me even when I didn't even believe in myself. Motherhood is emotional, fulfilling, exhausting, and exciting all at once. You can literally go through all of these emotions in just one day of motherhood. You have to be strong to deal with the ups and downs of motherhood, and my husband reminds me of how strong I actually am. And it is not because of my own strength but because of the strength of God and the grace that lies on the inside of me.

I never thought my husband would be the one to teach me so much about motherhood, but I'm glad he has. I'm grateful for his guidance, leadership, support, and for putting up for me when I turn into a crazy woman LOL.

Currently on Round 2 of breastfeeding in the past two years. We’re nearing the 10 month mark, but man I’ll be glad when I’m officially done nursing.
Don’t get me wrong – I love breastfeeding. I love the bond it’s created with my children, and I love that I’ve been able to nourish my babies and have a custom supply of milk to fit their needs, all from my own body. However, being a working breastfeeding mama is hard work!
Here are six tips for breastfeeding working moms:

Commitment // Breastfeeding is a commitment. No, seriously. It’s no easy job. It really is a lot of work nursing a child around the clock.  Add pumping to the equation and it’s literally like another full time job. There’s late nights, early mornings. Literally, your body is not your own even after pregnancy because you still give so much of yourself even after the baby is here. All babies are not the same and all breasts are not the same. Make sure you’re committed to the process— the good, the bad, and the ugly.  

Invest in a Good Pump // These days, you can get a free breast pump through your insurance. Still, be sure to research the breast pumps your insurance has to offer to determine which one would be a perfect fit for you. I had the Spectra S2 both times and loved it. Also, be sure to replace your pump parts every 2-3 months, as they can lose their suction, not removing milk from the breast effectively and causing a dip in your supply.

Pump realistically // So there seems to be this thing with moms being obsessed with pumping ounces upon ounces of milk, and other moms worrying that they're not producing enough milk because they're not pumping 6 ounces per breast in one sitting. Look, whatever you're producing for your baby is more than enough so long as you putting baby to the boob on demand, you're eating enough throughout the day, and staying hydrated. I've never had an oversupply of milk. I’ve always produced just enough for what my babies needed. Both of my children drank 3-4 ounce bottles, and that's what I was able to pump during the day at work.

Insatiable Appetite // What does every woman want to do after they’ve had a baby? Snap back. Good news is, breastfeeding does help you lose weight in the very beginning. I lost maybe 30 pounds after I had both my children after only gaining 10-15 pounds with both. Breastfeeding gives you the appetite of a whole football team, so it’s impossible to diet while breastfeeding. One, if you diet and eliminate too much you risk a dip in your supply since you have to keep up your calorie intake. And two, you literally want to eat all. The. Time!

Supply Issues // I’ve had my fair share of milk supply issues. And honestly, it’s exhausting! With my daughter, we didn’t supplement because she refused to take anything other than my breastmilk…which was fine, but it also meant lots of early mornings and waking up twice in the middle of the night to pump so she had milk enough for the next day. I also didn’t have much flexibility when it came to going out because I was never able to pump more than the 3 ounces she drank. Like I’ve said before, I’ve never had an oversupply – I’ve always been a “just enougher”, but even then I struggled with supply issues for a number of reasons.

One, a pump is not as effective at removing milk from your breasts as your baby is. And two, lots of things can lead to a dip in your supply: not enough rest, not staying hydrated, not taking in enough calories, birth control, etc…

Because I had some struggles with my daughter, I introduced my son to formula early just so I can have some flexibility. So yes, my son is breastfed and formula fed as well…and I’m not ashamed of that.

I knew things would be a little harder this time around managing two small children and running on very little sleep, so my supply would (and did) take a hit. And to be honest, no one tells you how hard it is to maintain your milk supply when you’re away from your baby for 8+ hours a day. When I went back to work with both children, my supply tanked. Once I got it back and thought I was smooth sailing, my son started eating more solids, and my supply tanked some more! Then my cycle came back and my supply decreased some more during that time.

Breastfeeding and pumping is a legit emotional rollercoaster.

As I’m typing this, I have two things working against me: my cycle, and I’m getting over a cold, so my milk supply took a serious hit.

You’re always worrying about whether or not you’re producing enough milk, and I didn’t want to be concerned with whether or not I’d be able to get enough milk pumped at work for the next day this time around. I do what I know to do to get my supply up (staying hydrated, taking in enough calories, etc…), and whatever I can’t pump at work we supplement with a bottle. Yes breast is best, but fed is also best. And at this point, so is my sanity!

Lop Sided Sistas // You may notice that your baby takes to one side more than the other. For whatever reason, both my babies favored the left side more, making my right side the slacker. Uneven production of milk means your breasts won’t be the same size! With both kids, I tried offering the right side first, but they both just weren't having it. With my son I offered my right side to "top him off" just so he's removing milk from that side as well. Worked for a while, but he's now 9 months old and won't even drink from my right side. *shrugs* It is what it is at this point.
Breastfeeding is hard work, but breastfeeding as a working mother is even harder. Why do I stay the course? Because I know it’s the best thing for my children. My children haven’t had any major illnesses, and I’m grateful that they have pretty strong immune systems because of it. Don’t give up! There’s tons of support groups out there to help you. And while I do understand that most women are not able to breastfeed, or some women supplement (like me), you’re still an awesome mother.
What have your breastfeeding experiences been like? Let’s talk in the comments!

self care tips for busy moms
Image via CreateHerStock
Self care is extremely important. Its more than just stealing an hour a way to get your nails done. Self care is about focusing on your physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental health because trust me - it all takes a bit of a hit once you add the role "mommy" to the equation.

As a busy mom and wife, I know first hand how easy it is to lose yourself in fulfilling these roles. Motherhood is the constant giving of yourself for the tiny humans you've created, but don't forget to show yourself a little love too. Here are some of my self-care tips for busy moms.

1.   Saying “No” // Learning to say no to taking on more than I can or want to handle – without guilt— is something that’s been a little hard for me. There's so much I want to do, and there's thing I'd like to get back to doing that I did B.K. (before kids), but right now, I can't. As parents of two little ones who also work full time, our time is extremely limited and to be honest, I'm tired yall! My life and schedule are literally full. I also can get overwhelmed rather easily sometimes when I take on way too much, so I'm not up for balancing 15 different things if I know that in this season of my life, I don't have the capacity to do so.

      Trying to do too much, something will lack, and I don't want lack to show up when it comes to quality time with my husband or my children because our time is already so limited due to our schedules. Taking on more than I can handle or more than I want to with the very limited time I have in the name of pleasing others isn’t an option. If I can’t do it, or I don’t feel up to it, I’m learning to say no and not feel guilty about it for my own sanity. I'm in a different season in my life now with two children, and we try and manage what we can when we can as best as we can. My family is my ministry, and making sure I serve my husband and my children the best way I can by being present is my top priority.
2.    Ask for Help // I must admit— asking for help is not something I’m used to doing. I’d rather just do things myself, especially when it comes to my children since 5 days out of the week, I don’t get much time with them. I try to involve myself in everything, which is a good thing and a bad thing. Good because I want my children to know that mommy is present no matter what - I mean well in that area. On the other hands, everything leads to exhaustion and overworking yourself. Ladies, ask for help when needed, even if it’s as simple as a diaper change.

3.   Eat Heatlhy // Since my schedule can be pretty busy, I'm tired....like, all the time! I try to make an effort to eat healthy to help keep my energy up, and because it's just better for my body overall.  

4.   Laugh // Since becoming a mom, I’ve become a bit more serious. I’m learning to lighten up a little and really just not take life so serious all the time. Live and laugh more, ya know? Stop being stuck on a schedule and how things should go, but being a bit more relaxed. If things don't go as planned, that's okay! Laughter is the best medicine. Laugh mamas! 

self care tips for busy moms
Image via CreateHerStock
5.   Unplug // I can’t tell you how important unplugging is. It’s so easy to get lost in just everything— the busyness of life, social media, etc…. For a while, I felt like I didn’t know who I was because I was just lost in everything. Mommas, do yourself a favor and take time to unplug and unwind. Turn off the TV, set the phone aside, crack open the Word, and just unplug! You'll be refreshed afterwards.

self care tips for busy moms
Image via CreateHerStock
6.   Schedule time for yourself // If you don’t schedule time, it’ll never happen. Literally. You're just as important as everyone else, so make time to do something you like to do. Recently, I've figured out how to squeeze in some time to blog, and fit in working out into my busy days. Make time for the things you care about!

7.   Rest // You can’t give what you need to others if you’re running on empty. Mamas’ make time to get some rest. Even if it means dropping the baby off for a few hours on your day off, or asking your husband to take the morning shift while you get in an extra hour of sleep. Get some rest so you can be better for your family and for yourself.

Remember mamas: You are just as important as everyone else. Take the time to take care of you too! It's better for everyone in the long run because you'll be less tired, overwhelmed, impatient, and just overall moody.
So tell me, what are you doing to practice self care??
shifting + becoming

Since I've added "mommy of two" to my life, I've been thinking more and more about the calling on my life as their mother, as LJ's wife, and as an individual.

I've also been thinking about how to live a meaningful life these days while also walking in my purpose. In the last four years, I have become a wife, a college graduate, a mother, been in ministry, and dabbled in different areas creatively like writing, photography, and graphic design.

There's been this constant ongoing process and change in my life, and with the daily hustle and bustle of motherhood, wifedom, and being a full time employee while also making strides toward entrepreneurship, its easy to just let life pass you by without actually enjoying and making the most of the life God has given you.

I want to make sure I'm walking in my purpose in all areas of my life.

You see, it's easier to just settle - being okay with the way life is and being afraid to strive for better.
It’s comfortable to stay where you are.

And in that comfortable place, I began to realize that I was at a place in life where I wasn't necessarily happy...wasn't necessarily unhappy...but just existing. 

Going through the motions.

Stuck...And I was tired of being in that place.

I had to refocus and ask God to help me get out of that place and help me change the things about myself that needed to be changed so I can be better in all areas of my life and begin to walk in my purpose and live a meaningful life.

Definitely not easy, and the change won’t come overnight.

I want everything that God has for me, and I’m realizing that won’t happen if you’re stuck in the same old habits and mindsets, or just going through the motions.

I don't want to get so caught up in the busyness of life that I forget to enjoy life's most beautiful parts.

So, I've been working on this, and I’m still a work in progress of becoming.

Becoming the woman I want to be.

Becoming the woman God has called me to be.

Becoming the woman I need to be. 

With that comes a shift. Shifting your mindset, and focusing full force on what lies ahead of you through becoming.

Here are some of the ways I’m shifting:
  1. Pursue Christ // Life without Christ is meaningless. In Him, you will find the ultimate fulfillment. There's a reason why the Word says "In Your Presence, there is fullness of joy, and at your right hand, there are pleasures forever more" (Psalm 16:11). His way isn't just right, it's better. Being a busy wife and mom, it feels there isn’t a whole lot of time during the day to get it all done. While I don’t have the time I’d like to sit and indulge in the Word, I try to make the most of the little moments I do have. On the train ride home or to work. In the shower. While the kids play. Anything! And I believe God will honor that.
  2. Prioritize what's important to you // Since becoming a mother, I've put myself and the things I like to do on the backburner. It's easy to get lost in motherhood. I don't want to get so caught up in motherhood that I forget how to be a wife, a sister, a friend, and even Danyelle. So that means figuring out how to spend more time with my husband, finding the time to catch up with family and friends, or finding time for the things I like to do, like writing, or working on getting this snapback together post baby.
  3. Live more out of intent and less out of habit // This comes with prioritizing what's important to you. It's easy to get caught up in going by your day to day routine. You know, wake up, go to work, come home, cook dinner, take care of the kids, and then do it all again the next day. Be intentional about not sticking to the day to day routine.
  4. Pursue your passion // It's important to pursue the things that you're interested in. I’m glad that I have this creative outlet here where I can just share, be myself, and do something outside of being “mommy.” I just pray that wherever the Lord leads me, He gets glorfied in the end.
"I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us."
Philippians 3:12-14
Natural Hair & Postpartum Shedding

So it happened. Again. I'm okay. I'm breathing. I'm not spazzing, but good Lord, that was lot of hair!

It's been 9 months since I had my son, and I think it's finally safe to say that my postpartum shedding has finally stopped.

I've read and heard much about the dreadful postpartum shedding, and honestly became a little anxious about having to deal with it a second time around. After all, I did just have my daughter a year prior to having my son. And, my edges took a hit. Both times! 

You can imagine the level of disrespect I felt when doing something as simple as running my fingers through my hair and seeing strands upon strands between my fingers (insert serious side eye).  

Here's a few tips on how to deal with postpartum shedding post baby:
  1. Accept it // There's really no other way around it but to accept it. You may not like it, but shedding is something that our hair naturally does once it enters the resting phase. Remember that luscious, full head of hair you had while pregnant? That's because hair that was in the resting phase gets pushed back into the growth cycle, so your hair doesn't shed as much. Hair becomes thicker, grows longer, and even looks shinier during pregnancy. After pregnancy, it all comes to an end, unfortunately as your hormone levels plummet and return back to normal. Hair goes back into the resting phases and falls out. It's part of life, and it's something that you can't stop from happening. Accept it, and try not to become too emotional over it.
  2. Low Manipulation/Protective Styles // I'm a protective styler by default since it's the easiest thing for me and fits my busy lifestyle best (although I do love me a good flat twist out every now and then). Opt for styles that don't require you to pull or tug on your hair too much.  
  3. Keep Taking Your Prenatals // While doctors say taking your prenatal vitamins don't stop or decrease postpartum shedding, I have read a few stories of women who noticed more shedding when they didn't take their prenatal. I'm not brave enough to put it to the test, since I'm still 
  4. Moisture, Moisture, Moisture! // I cannot stress enough how important it is to keep your hair moisturized. After giving birth, my hair was soooo dry, drier than it's ever been. Even after a normal wash day with my regular deep treatments, my hair still felt dry. Dryness lead to breakage, and I just could not! Moisturize your hair as often as you need to. Whether it be once a day, twice a day (if it's that critical), or every other day, keeping your hair moisturized to prevent excessive breakage. You want to hold on to the hair that you have left! 
  5. Scalp Massages: This may be something you can leave for bae to do, but doing nightly scalp massages can help stimulate hair growth. Not to mention, it's a great way to relax and unwind after a long day.
  6. Treat Your Body Good // Being home with baby, it's easy to just pig out and eat what you want without necessarily thinking twice about what you're putting into your body. Boredom sets in, and next thing you know you're eating any and everything (trust me, I've been there).Beauty comes from within, so drink lots of water and feed your body the proper foods so your hair can thrive. 
  7. Exercise // Working out consistently has always been a struggle of mine, but I am getting better! I just started back working out in February two-three times a week for 20-30 minutes a day, changed my eating habits, and lost about 10 pounds (yay me!) Try to fit in at least 30 minutes a day to exercise. It'll help give you that extra boost you need to take care of a little one all day, and it'll help promote blood circulation to the scalp. 
  8. Don't Put off Wash Day // You may be tempted to put off wash days so you don't have to deal with how much hair is coming out of your head. Trust me, the more you put it off, the more hair you'll see. Washing your hair weekly helps to remove shed hair and prevent them from tangling and possibly knotting up. Get the dirty work done right away and try to keep your wash day regimen simple.
  9. Keep Calm and Have Patience // After all, it's just hair. This too shall pass. 
TV Free Ways to Get Your Toddler Learning

There are tons of TV programs out there to both entertain and teach your children. However, nothing takes the place of the bond that's formed with one on one interaction. You are your child's first and best teacher - they're watching you and you know what methods work best when it comes to helping them learn.

Here are 6 TV Free Ways that helped me teach my toddler:

Puzzles // Leilani L O V E S puzzles. She's a visual learner, so puzzles have helped her tremendously. She has animal puzzles, number puzzles, alphabet puzzles, and word puzzles to reinforce letter sounds and eventually help with teaching her to blend sounds and soon read.

TV Free Ways to Get Your Toddler Learning

Books // We got a few storybooks from Leilani's baby shower, but I also made sure to buy her some educational books. Karen Katz was a favorite of mine when it came to teaching Leilani her colors, shapes, and body parts. Reading also helps with their language development, so make sure you're reading to your toddler a few times during the day.
TV Free Ways to Get Your Toddler Learning

Flash cards // Flashcards were kind of a hit or miss. She mainly wanted to take the flashcards and bend them. What did work was putting things up on the wall. Her grandmother actually implemented this with her numbers: She'd put the numbers 1-10 up on the walls in different spots and out of order. That way, she'd recognize the numbers no matter which order they were in.

Coloring // Once Leilani turned one years old, I started giving her crayons and paper to start scribbling on. I printed out pictures of animals, numbers, and shapes and went over those with her while she colored.

Bath Time // For bathtime, we have letters, numbers, and shapes. I ask Leilani to identify the letters and numbers, and since they also come in different colors, I ask her to identify the colors as well.
TV Free Ways to Get Your Toddler Learning

Alphabet Magnets // When I was teaching Leilani her alphabet sounds, I got this Leap Frog Fridge Phonics just to reinforce what I was teaching her through reading her alphabet books. You push the letter button, and it sings the letter and alphabet sound.

Toddlers (and babies) are literally like sponges - they absorb everything they learn. I did a culmination of these activities with Leilani to help get her learning. When Leilani does watch TV, she only watches educational cartoons from BabyFirstTV, like ABC Galaxy, Color Crew, and Harry the Bunny, so the material is literally always in her face no matter what she's doing.

By the time Leilani was a year and a half, she knew all of her numbers, most of her shapes, recognized all of her alphabets and knew the sounds of her alphabets. Now, for the most part, she's a talking two year old using phrases and sentences.

The most important thing to remember is to remain consistent, and make it fun, no matter what your toddler does. Toddler learning doesn't have to be structured like a school setting because let's face it - toddlers have a short attention span and they're not going to sit still for a long period of time while you try and teach them.

If they wander off in the middle of you reading them a story to go play with other toys, pointing out specific objects while they're playing helps them learn as well. Saying things like "Ooooh, look at the red ball? Can you say red ball? What color is the ball?" will stick with them.

We're almost always hopping around from activity to activity, but I find a way to make each moment  a learning moment by constantly asking her questions and showing her new things.

What are some activities you do with your toddler/baby to get them learning?

I was in a bit of a funk for a long time. And I found myself asking God why I found myself in the same situations all the time. Like, dang, why can't I get this right? I'm slowly getting myself together and in these "aha" moments, I realized there's things I need to stop doing that's stunting my growth:

Overthinking // My husband will be the first to tell you that I'm an over-thinker. I think way too much and can sometimes be indecisive. I second guess myself all the time. Always wondering if something is good enough, is it "not" enough, well what if I do it this way. UGH! Too much noise, and sometimes I literally have to tell myself to just shut up and slow down. Your own thoughts can become overwhelming.

Procrastination // Procrastination was never really an issue for me...until my last year of college. Honestly, I was really just tired! College is no joke, especially being in an English honors program. So I procrastinated. A lot! Now, I think I procrastinate so much because I overthink! See how one affects the other? Less thinking, and more doing.

Lack of Discipline & Consistency // I've realized that if you want to succeed in anything, you need to plan. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. I've struggled for a long time staying consistent because I never had a plan. I was just winging it. While you can go about winging it with some things, I'm learning the importance of planning to set yourself up for success.

Comparing Yourself to Others // Comparison is the thief of joy. Literally. You hold yourself back so much spending time focusing on why you're not like others. Look, just throw the whole phone away! All the endless scrolling through social media gives you so much more to look at...which then leads to envy and wondering "Well God, why can't that be me?" First, remember the grass isn't always greener on the other side. Second, believe that what God has for you is for you! That's their story! Just start with what you have.

Not Believing in Your Own Gifts and Abilities // Ultimately, all of the points made thus far stem from a lack of confidence in myself. I believe we all have a purpose. God has birthed something in each of us. Believe that what you have to offer is good enough. Believe that you CAN do great things.

Lack of Clarity // Submitting my ideas and desires to the Lord and really just asking God for clarity has helped me tremendously.You can't get to your destination if you don't know where you're going. It feels like once I did that, I got an automatic download of so much more. And while I won't always know exactly where God is taking me, the best I can do is believe in the vision he's given me, use what he's given me,  and continue to work towards it to see the manifestation.

Growing Weary // It's no big secret we live in a microwave society where everyone wants things now. Not just now, but right now! I definitely struggle with wanting things to go my and at the exact moment I want. I guess you can add lack of patience to this one too then, huh?

Sometimes when things don't happen how or when I want it to, I get pretty bummed out about it. Let's be real, who wouldn't? The problem with that? I find myself back at square one: overthinking, procrastinating, not believing in myself, etc... Learning and understanding that His timing is perfect and to just keep moving forward is what's been keeping me.

"Let us not become weary in doing good; for at the proper time, we will reap a harvest if we do not give up"
Galatians 6:9

If you ever feel like you're stuck or in a rut, take a step back and do a self examination. I'm staring to do this in all areas of my life: spiritually, personally, financially, and professionally, etc... There's more that I want to work on personally, but these are just a few things I thought might be helpful to some of you because they're real things we all struggle with at some point in time.

The goal here isn't to be perfect. Perfection is not attainable. The goal is to really just be better... in all areas.
So, what are some things you feel have stunted your personal growth, and how do you plan to overcome?

I am officially a "two under two" survivor! After experiencing the highs and lows of two under two, all I can say is, thank God we survived!

I mean let’s be real. The thought of having a newborn and a toddler is scary stuff.

When Josiah was born, Leilani was 17 months old. There were a number of concerns and fears I had just before Josiah was born:

*Will Leilani like her new baby brother?

*How will I manage by myself once my husband has to return to work in two weeks?

*How will the dynamic be between me and my husband now that we have two children?

*Co-sleeping with two babies…where are they doing that?

By the grace of God, we’ve worked through it!  Children are happy and healthy. Mom and Dad are a little tired, but hey, such is life!

Now that my son is 8 months old, and my daughter is now two, things have gotten a little easier managing and parenting the both of them.

Here’s some survival tips on how we managed (and still manage) life with two littles:

1.      Take Advantage of Your Tribe // Literally. Take all the help you can get— it literally takes a village, especially with two kids. Once my husband went back to work, things were a little tough. Josiah, like most newborns, always wanted to be held, which is a bit hard to do when you have to care and run after a very active toddler. I was grateful for my mother-in-law. Before Josiah was born, she watched Leilani for us while my husband and I were at work, and I was so grateful that she offered to watch Leilani a couple of days out of the week so I can get the baby situated. I even asked a few times! Whenever my family came over, I gladly gave the babies up. Felt good not to have someone attached to you all the time. Baby needs a diaper change, or Leilani needed to eat? My mom or my sisters were on duty. Take as many hands as you can get!  

2.      Baby Wearing // My moby wrap was a life saver on days where Josiah was extra clingy or just wouldn’t stay down for his naps. Not only was I able to keep up with my toddler, but I was able to get stuff done – cooking, cleaning, play time with Leilani.

3.      Nap Time // One of the key things for surviving two under two, that sort of just happened naturally without much training, was to get the kiddos on the same nap schedule. Obviously, your toddler isn’t napping as often as your newborn, but I made sure to get both kids down for their afternoon nap at the same time. That way, I was able to get a nap in, time to myself, steal a quick shower (it’s real in these mommy streets!), or straighten up a bit. Trust me, you don’t want to be on the move all day, especially after being up multiple times a night for night feeds.

4.     Independent Play // Thankfully, Leilani has always been great when it came to play time. She was able to play by herself without requiring much attention, and it carried over into toddler life. Because she’s content by herself, whether that be watching Harry the Bunny on TV, playing with her puzzles, coloring, or reading herself a book, I was able to tend to the baby or get things done around the house, or just take a moment to myself and just chill out for a minute.

5.      There’s Only So Much You Can Do // It’s important to keep this in mind. Think about it: You’re outnumbered! Don’t get me wrong – there are days where I feel like supermom because of my ability to multitask and think/act fast with them—like that time I figured out how to nurse a newborn and change his diaper at the same time so he’ll stay sleep. Or getting both kids fed at the same time. Seriously, I impress myself on those days where things are golden and run smoothly. Other times, you’ll have to handle the greater needs first….even if that means one kid has to wail for a minute while you tend to the other.

6.      Divvy Up the Duties // Because there’s only so much you can do and you cannot do everything, create a game-plan with your spouse so things can get done. When my husband came home from work, sometimes I’d need help giving both kids a bath, or he’d feed Leilani her dinner while I tended to Josiah. We’d each take a child, and get things done. Try not to put too much on yourself. I’m constantly learning this!

7.      Include Your Toddler // Include your toddler in things you do with the baby so they don’t feel left out. Diaper time for the baby? Ask your toddler to grab the diapers and wipes. Tummy time? Get your toddler to show baby how it’s done. Putting baby to sleep? Give your toddler a quiet activity to do next to you.

8.      Carve Out Time to Spend With Each Child // A lot of me and Leilani’s time together came whenever Josiah would nap. We’d work on learning activities, nursery rhymes, you name it. For Josiah, he joined the catnap band wagon, and wouldn’t sleep long during their afternoon nap. Our time came while Leilani still slept. Let’s face it, somebody is gonna want mommy all to themselves at some point, so I make sure to give them that one on one time.

9.      Let go of Perfection // There’s no such thing as a perfect mom. I’ve learned that now. Instead, mirror grace. There’s no way to take care of everyone’s needs at the same time. You just do the best you can with the Lord’s help, ya know?

10.   Remember, it Gets Easier // Parenting two under two can be difficult. As your baby (and toddler) become more independent, things do get easier. Leilani is pretty self-sufficient and can be left alone without me physically being in the room to watch her (we do have a baby cam to peek in and make sure she’s not doing anything she isn’t supposed to). Josiah, he has his days where I can leave him in his play pen to roll around, or put him in his walker to zoom around the house and chase after his sister. Other days he’s really whiny for whatever reason – teething, nap time, or he just wants attention! You figure it out and learn how to work around things.
It can be done! I promise!
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