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Top 6 Indoor Games

Posted by Live Love Mom on December 9, 2019 at 7:50 AM Comments comments (0)

by: Stephanie McEndree


Now that the weather is getting colder, it’s time to think of indoor activities for the kids. This is especially difficult when you have young children under schooling age.

 

It all depends on how much space you have inside your home.

 

1. Bathtub fishing: Buy plastic toy fishing kits that are sold at the dollar store. Fill up your bathtub, and put the plastic fish inside. Give the fishing pole to your child, and let them fish away! You can add bubbles in the bath to “hide” the fish and make it more of a challenge to find them.

 

2. Ball pit: Buy a small inflatable pool at the dollar store, and a bag of plastic balls at Walmart. Inflate the pool and fill with the balls. Place your child inside the pool or next to the pool and have them play with the balls!

 

3. Living-room camping: Erect a tent, whether a camping tent or a fort or a teepee made with blankets and pillows, in the living room. Place sleeping bags, pillows, blankets and flashlights inside the tent. You can include a picnic basket and have a meal or snack (s’mores are a great idea) inside! Prepare a series of flashlight games like making hand puppets with the shadows, light beam battles, or pretending your flashlight beams are the same as from ghost busters. Couple this with pillow fights and ghost stories and your camping idea will be a hit, no matter if you sleep in the tent that night or not!

 

4. Blow bubbles: Buy a bubble bottle at the dollar store, or fill a container, bathtub or small inflatable pool with soapy water. For a bottle filled with bubbles bought at the store, simply give one per child and one for yourself, and blow bubbles! You can also blow bubbles yourself and have your child run around to catch them! For a bathtub or pool with soapy water, have the child stand barefoot in the middle of the pool or tub. Use a hula-hoop and place it over the child and immerse the hoop in the water at the childs’ feet. Then, lift up the hoop around the child and watch your child be immersed inside a tube shaped bubble! Your child can then, inside or outside of the tub or pool, use several objects to make bubbles like hula hoops, keychain loops, coat hangers, or anything that has a hole in the middle!

 

5. Disco night: Choose various accessories to set the mood like over-sized colorful glasses, feathered boas, neon wigs, silly hats, and colorful clothing. Plug in a colorful light, preferably one that turns and/or blinks. Turn off all other lights, and watch the lights change. Turn on your child(ren)’s favorite tunes, and have a dance party! You can also turn on a dancing video on the television or computer and try to follow along.

 

6. Play tents: Buy children sized play tents and tunnels at Kids R Us. Set these up where you have the most space; your living room or child’s bedroom. Connect the tunnels to the tents, and watch your child(ren) crawl and run with joy! If you have some, you can also place child sized furniture inside the tents so they can pretend it’s their own miniature house!


 

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Raising Daughters Right

Posted by Live Love Mom on March 24, 2019 at 8:25 AM Comments comments (0)

by: Stephanie McEndree


I keep seeing articles over and over about how millenials are doing this, millenials are doing that. The articles are almost always negative, and contradictory. An article will say that millenials are spending their cash irresponsibly, another will say they are killing restaurant chains. So which is it? Are they supposed to spend money on luxuries to save these buisinesses or be responsible with their money?

 

I want to bring up another hypocrisy: our society. It’s broken, oppressive to anyone who isn’t a straight white rich male, and more and more people are pointing that out. They are later insulted for pointing out the flaws in society and suggesting fixes. This is what is wrong with the world. You’ll see the glorification of the teen “Cash Me Ousside” girl, but you’ll never hear of children in other countries that excel for their age and invent life-saving devices. This is also what’s wrong with society. Uneducation is praised, and educated, intelligent individuals are brought down.

 

I have two daughters. I am horrified at all the sexism that I see every day, even in a developed country. It’s disgusting. It’s impossible to shelter girls from the magazines and even childhood stories that have very skinny characters. The women and girls are often smaller than the men and boys. This provides an unrealistic body-image for girls early on in life, which is psychologically damaging in itself.

 

Even in the clothing aisle, boys clothes are inches wider and longer than girls’ clothes of the same age. Everything is gendered, pink and purple for girls and blue and green for boys. Some even have sexist titles on superhero shirts and regular gender-stereotypical shirts such as “bossy like mommy”, “handy like daddy”, etc. Society tends to need to label everything, and that includes encouraging and even forcing boys to wear “masculine” clothing and “act masculine” (toxic masculinity), and forcing girls to wear “feminine” clothing and to “act like a lady”. This teaches little girls and little boys that if they fit outside that “role”, they are undesirable and abnormal. Many children and even adults get bullied and ridiculed for being “outside of the norm”. It’s so bad that a mom had to make her own clothing line.

 

Not to mention the inequal rights that men and women have. There is still a large pay gap. Gal Gadot made $300,000 for her role as wonder woman, while Man of Steel made $1.4 million. They are the pay gap. Men can parade around shirtless and expose their useless nipples, but women cannot do the same, not even be shirtless to breastfeed. Even little girls are told to cover up when they have no breasts at all. Even women and girls who don’t wear a bra under their shirts are told they are violating the dress code and to change, when men don’t face this discrimination.

 

There is also slut-shaming that runs rampant. Men are praised for having multiple sexual partners, even if it’s in one night. However, if a woman sleeps with more than one person in a year, she is shamed for being a slut, easy, promiscuous. When a woman is attacked, she is asked what she did to provoke it, even if she is a minor child. When a woman has been domestically abused, she is told that it was her fault. When she has been raped, she is asked what was she wearing, and if she “led him on.” When a woman is raped by her husband, she is told that it isn’t rape. When a child is raped and her adult rapist convicted, he doesn’t face jail time. When men report rape, they are laughed at and the case often doesn’t make it to court. This society is disgustingly sexist, misogynist, and victim-blaming.

 

Add that to people demonizing trans men and women, the LGBTQIA community, people of color being discriminated against and killed, feminists told that they are men-hating and want to remove men’s rights, and women having less rights than corpses.

 

In this damaged society, how are we supposed to raise our baby girls? My answer is simple. Personally, I intend to combat the hate in this society, with love and activism. I teach my girls that they are great the way they are. I don’t push them towards gender stereotypical things, I let them choose what they want. I don’t encourage their goal to be a princess only, but to be who they want to be. I inform them of their rights. I stand up for their rights. But most of all, I teach them love. I teach them to love themselves and one another. I teach them that their bodies are beautiful the way that they are. I tell them that they look beautiful the way they are. I tell them that they are amazing girls. If one day they came out as trans, lesbians, queer, etc. that I would love them either way. A mother’s love is unconditional. I teach them that the LGBTQIA community exists, and I don’t cover their eyes when two women or two men kiss. I answer their questions accurately and honestly. I am raising two little girls that may one day be women. I am raising them to be strong, full of love, and aware of their rights. I am raising them to respect and to be kind to everyone. I am raising them to treat everyone equally. To my daughters; I am the change that I want to see in the world, and I will fight until my dying breath to make society see you as equals.


 

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The Terrible Twos

Posted by Live Love Mom on May 24, 2018 at 6:00 AM Comments comments (0)

by: Stephanie McEndree


The terrible twos are known for their reputation. Kids have just finished or start teething, they throw tantrums, and they get extremely picky. With various trips to the grocery store needed during this difficult year, how do you stay sane?

 

Make sure you take care of yourself. You may be surprised to see this on the list, but this is vital. If you are hungry, tired, or hurting, you won’t feel at your best, so your patience and temper may be short. In order for you to do your best, it’s important that you be your best. Take that cup of coffee, take those 5 extra minutes to get ready in the morning so that you can put on your makeup, duck into the shower to wash your hair. Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup.

 

Patience is a virtue. Be as patient as you can possibly be. Remember, children don’t have as much logic as we do yet. Two year old’s don’t understand why you can’t watch Paw Patrol while you’re getting ready to leave for daycare. They don’t understand why they can’t have their purple cup instead of the green one, even if the purple one is obviously broken or dirty. So take a deep breath, and take a few minutes to withdraw from the situation if you need to. With all of these parents in the news harming their children because they’ve had enough, it’s much better if you put your child in a safe spot, like a playpen, and go to the next room to gather your senses.

 

Distraction. If your toddler is upset that you can’t find their favorite toy, distract them with something else. Give them a cup of juice, their favorite snack, their favorite television show, play a game, or do a fun activity together.

 

Comfort. If they throw a fit or cry hard because they fell and hurt themselves, take the time to comfort them. Give them a hug. Give them lots of kisses. Rock them in your arms. Cuddle together in the child’s favorite chair. Lay together in their bed if it’s near nap time.

 

Keep them engaged in play. Sensory play is the best kind to keep their full attention. Play with foam, make play-dough shapes, make home-made slime, and lots more. You can also do fun arts and crafts, such as making caterpillars with egg cartons, finger painting, fishing in the bath tub or kiddie pool, drawing and cutting construction paper, putting together puzzles, and more!

 

Communication. Try to help them identify their emotions. Ask them questions. “Are you mad? Are you sad? Is it because you broke your Spiderman figurine? Is it because your blue cup is dirty?” Then, once you find the issue, offer them comfort and a solution, if possible. Say “well, we can do this instead.” Or, if there is something that can be done to remedy the situation, present it. Let’s superglue Spiderman’s leg back on (if possible). Let’s go wash that blue cup. Work with them to find solutions and problem-solving. These are vital skills for later on in life.

 

Be consistent. If you’re telling your kids that biting and hitting is not okay, be consistent. Explain to them that it’s not okay to bite or hit, because it hurts people and that’s not nice. Be firm, and don’t allow the behavior. Always take the child aside and tell them that it’s not okay. Then, distract them with another activity. If they keep doing it anyways, tell them that you will take a toy away.

 

Have some time for your couple. If you’re in a relationship, set some time aside every day for you and your significant other. Even if it’s just 15 minutes during your little one’s short nap, be sure to spend some time together to maintain your relationship. It will help you feel fulfilled, and you’ll both be happier.

 

Get some help if you need it. If it’s so bad your child isn’t napping and during the night, you only go to bed at 2 am because you’ve been cleaning the whole time, get some help. Look into your budget to get a cleaning lady, or ask friends and family members to watch your child so you can clean. Even if they want to babysit and you’re fine on the cleaning and everything, take a few hours to go out with some friends and maintain your friendships.

 

The terrible two’s can be a hard time for parents and for the children. However, it’s a vital learning phase where toddlers begin asserting their independence. With some patience, love and communication, you’ll both come out of it with fond memories.


 

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Remember: You Are A Good Mother

Posted by Live Love Mom on January 1, 2018 at 6:00 AM Comments comments (0)

by: Stephanie McEndree



Motherhood sometimes gets us down. Whether it’s mom guilt, a teething baby, the terrible twos, or a teen yelling that they hate us, bad days can and will happen.

 

Bad times don’t define you. Tantrums, screaming, and bad behavior will happen to every mother and child.


There is no such thing as a perfect mother. Every mother makes mistakes, makes different choices and decisions.


There is no such thing as a perfect child. Every child also makes mistakes, even purposefully does things they shouldn’t. This isn’t your fault.


Your baby is forgiving. Your baby has no other mother to compare you to, therefore you’re the best (s)he’s ever had! Your baby won’t remember your mistakes. Take a lesson from your baby and forgive yourself.


You are loved. Your child loves you whether you have scars, stretch marks, a record, an unhealthy past, burns, marks, etc. It doesn’t matter what you look like or who you were before. What matters is now.


Mom guilt. Every mother has it, no matter how small the issue, mothers will feel guilty about it, and probably be judged about it. Give yourself a break. You are doing the best that you can!


You are wise. Your experience and knowledge has made you wise. With this in mind, you can better guide your child through life and prepare them for their future.


You are needed. Ask adults, even middle-aged people; everyone needs their parents, no matter what their age. Don’t forget that.


Support is where you need it. If you don’t have a good support system, there are groups, events and meetings where you can make friends and get support. The world is yours!


You don’t need to do all those fancy activities. Photos floating around of trips to the zoo, vacations in europe, fancy photography and birthday parties with lavish gifts? You don’t need this, and neither does your child. Your child won’t remember most of the parties or gifts in the future anyhow. What your children value most of all, is your time.


Not being rich doesn’t make you unworthy. Some people say that you should wait until you are 100% settled in life before having children. Take it from those who did wait; waiting can be over-rated. Many have waited til they were in the perfect situation, and that situation either never came, or it came too late. Seizing the oppurtunity while it presents itself, is a good choice. You don’t need money to have children, or to be a good parent. It can make things easier, but it will not make things better.


You are not a failure. Single mom? Working mom? SAHM? Small apartment? Low income, etc? You are not a failure to your child. You are their mother, and they love and adore you.


This too shall pass. Teenage years got you down? They don’t mean what they say, and they will realize it when they reach adulthood and maturity.


You are a fantastic mom. You can tell yourself this every day. You are beautiful, amazing, and you are worth it. Keep at it!


 

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Trouble with Bedtime? Try These Tips

Posted by Live Love Mom on April 14, 2017 at 8:05 AM Comments comments (0)

by: Stephanie McEndree


Sometimes, bedtime can be a real battleground. A child rarely wants to go to bed, no matter how tired they are. Here are some tips and tricks on how to ease the transition to bedtime.

 

Same routine. It’s important, especially for toddlers, to maintain the same routine each time, especially before bed. This way, the child knows what to expect, and can wind down accordingly.

Lavender. Products containing lavender help to relax and make someone drowsy. Use lavender products in shampoo, soaps, detergent for pyjamas, and even air fresheners for their bedroom. This will help your children wind down and transition smoothly into sleep.

Melatonin. This is only to be used with approval of your child’s doctor, and as a last resort. However, in cases where the child is so sick that they cannot sleep, or they are having night terrors, melatonin can be a godsend for your child.

Bath. Baths before bed that are nice and warm bring about drowsiness. It also helps the child play before bedtime, and gives parents an excuse to put them in pyjamas afterwards. Wrap them up with a warm fresh-from-the-dryer towel afterwards.

Book. Storytime before bed is a tradition in many families, and should be continued. A love of books is important in a child, and why not combine this with a bedtime story bonding experience?

Blankets. A child during the winter may grow cold, so it is important to have extra blankets on hand. Offer one of each type; a light sheet and a heavy comforter. This way, your child has a choice. If your child has a blanket they like to keep with them, provide it so they can hold it to help them fall asleep.

Pillows. Different shaped pillows can be a nice way for them to rest their heads. Some children prefer body pillows like their parents, or a pillow-pet to hold onto. Provide whichever your child prefers.

Cuddles. Especially in co-sleeping children or former co-sleeping children, cuddles are important for them before bedtime. It can bring about fond memories of being held and hugged as a baby or toddler. Children also feel safer and more secure when they know that their parent is nearby, even within arm’s reach.

Lullaby. Learn soft, soothing lullabies to sing your child to sleep, or to help relax them. The same lullaby is ideal, so it can be a signal to your child that it’s time to sleep.

Rocking. Children often have a rough time with bedtime, because they will be away from you. Hold them and rock them in a rocking chair or just sitting wherever you are, so they can fall asleep with you there. Rocking is also a great self-soothing skill that children can use later on in life to help ease them to sleep.

White noise. Children don’t like the idea of going to bed while you stay up and “have all the fun”. White noise machines like a humidifier, fan, air conditioning or heater, can drown out the sounds you make when your child is falling asleep, such as the shower, washing machine or even a breast pump. White noise can remind a baby of its mother’s womb, where many noises and gurgles can be heard all the time!

Pyjamas. No matter how much in a hurry you are, it’s important to change your children into their pyjamas (if they have any, some children prefer to just sleep in their diapers or underwear) before they go to bed. This is a non-verbal message to the children that playtime is over, it’s nighttime and time to go to sleep.

Brushing teeth. Some parents have to skip this step on an occasional rare chaotic night, but it is important to instill oral hygeine early on. Have all the children do it at the same time. If you have a baby, wipe down their gums. Brush your children’s teeth or have them brush their own teeth as often as indicated by their dentist.

Potty. When potty-training or when children are potty-trained, it’s important to ask them if they have to use the potty, toilet or bathroom before bed. This can minimize middle of the night wake-ups to use the bathroom, and cuts down on bed wetting.

Snack. A few hours before bed, offer a snack to your child, filling with plenty of carbs if you’re a low-fat family, or with plenty of fat if you’re a low-carb family. This will keep your kid’s tummy occupied while they get ready for bed, and will minimize waking up at night to eat.

Drink. Give your child a drink two hours before bed, long enough so that they can use the toilet before bed. This can cut down on needing to get up due to thirst. If all else fails, keep a glass of water or a water bottle on their night stand.

Massage. Lots of children love back-rubs, massages or just running your hand up and down their backs. This reassures the child of your presence, and is soothing. If you like to have this done to you as you fall asleep, chances are your child will appreciate it too.

Hair care. If you have a daughter or a long-haired son, do your child’s hair in a loose braid to prevent knots. Play with their hair, since this inadvertantly gives a tingly, gentle massage to the scalp.

Benadryl for allergies. If your child has allergies and also has sleeping problems, Benadryl can fix both of those problems. Be sure to ask your child’s doctor before considering medications.

Children's Nyquil for colds. Similar cold medicine can help a child sleep, especially when they are sick. A cough suppressant can be especially helpful when your child is kept up at night by their coughing. Be sure to ask the pediatrician if they recommend using cough medicine.

Tempra, Tylenol or Advil. If your child is in pain or has a fever, these medications are recommended. You can even take these medicines in prevention, like before a vaccine. Be sure to ask a doctor first.

Make the bed only for bedtime. Sometimes children like to play in their beds, jump in them, and more. It’s important to limit time in the bed only for bedtime or naptime. This helps the child associate their bed with sleep, and not with play as well.


 

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Gift Ideas For Kids That Have Too Many Toys

Posted by Live Love Mom on February 14, 2017 at 4:40 AM Comments comments (0)

by: Stephanie McEndree


Your children already have too many toys? Your family members ask what is bought as a gift during the holidays? Here are some ideas that will not spill over your toy bin.


Clothes. If you do not have enough, clothes are always useful. The children do not stop growing, and with the cold that is already here, we need warm clothes. A winter kit will not hurt either.

 

Go to the zoo. A ticket is worth a visit, but an annual pass ensures that children can go there more often. It guaranteed a good time and lots of good memories.

 

Pass for a play center. There are often play centers like Le Machin Chouette for example, which offer passes for the year. Choose a center near you because if there is a car crash, do not have to walk too far.

 

Go to the aquarium or biodome. This makes educational places for children and makes good moments with family. There is also the planetarium, the insectarium, and the botanical gardens.

 

Package for an educational farm. A good example is Guyon Farm, which offers a petting zoo and a butterfly center.

 

Package for a pool. For long, flat days at home when it rains, go to an indoor pool with your family. There are some who offer swimming lessons too.

 

A season of a sport. Do kids want to play sports, learn something, or do something? It’s a great gift idea to offer him some paid. A sport is also refundable on taxes.

 

Diapers for those who have children not yet potty-trained. This with wet wipes or washcloths is super useful. There never is too much!

 

Books are never wrong and stimulate learning. Even though they’re babies, parents can read them before bedtime.

 

Hygiene goods such as soap, shampoo, or special laundry soap that needs it. Toothpaste, toothbrushes, etc. will never go bad either!

 

Edible Delights that you can eat her choices that are always appreciated. Everyone has to eat, so it’s always very useful. Do you make muffins or good lasagna, etc? Done their dishes for tasting. Otherwise you can always buy a fruit basket.

 

A trip would be appreciated as well. Bus tickets, plane tickets, camping coupons, coupons for gas, etc. are all great gifts.

 

Tickets for events like concerts, theater, cinema, shows and circuses provide a good time for the whole family.

 

Movies for their collection, their favorite series, even a collection of funny videos would take the kids a bit as parents make a meal or clean up.

 

Apps for their phones or iPads for their fun or entertain when they get bored.

 

Music for their radio, iPhone, iPod, mp3 or even just an engraved CD will surely please young people.


 

Did you have other ideas? Put a comment!


 

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Exclusively Pumping For Two

Posted by Live Love Mom on October 24, 2016 at 9:45 AM Comments comments (0)
by: Stephanie McEndree



Yes, I am a single mom of two kids that I exclusively pump for. How do I do it? What is my secret? I’ll let you in on it.


 

I only pump twice a day. Once in the morning after my 2 year old is at daycare and my 3 month old is asleep for her morning nap, second time when both of my girls are asleep for the night.


 

I use a Medela Pump In Style Advanced. This pump is portable as it comes in a backpack, so I can just wear it on my back and move around the house. This is crucial as a single SAHM, as if one or both of my kids wakes up in the morning or evening, I can get up and tend to them without skimping out on my pumping. Since this is a hospital grade pump, it allows me to pump only twice a day without losing my supply!


 

I use Freemies. Thank goodness there are Freemies compatible with a PISA. I put these suction cups in my bra under my shirt, so it is very discreet! I even went out running errands while pumping!


 

I have a deep freezer. This helps for storing my extra breastmilk because my regulat freezer is full of food for myself and my kids!


 

I make about 44 ounces a day. With my 3 month old taking in 35-40 ounces a day that leaves 4-8 extra ounces that I can store in the freezer for long-term storage, the fridge for short-term storage, or to just give to my toddler.


 

With these things to help me, it is possible to exclusively pump as a single mom!


 

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Being A Mom of a Special Needs Child

Posted by Live Love Mom on September 24, 2016 at 6:30 AM Comments comments (0)

by: Stephanie McEndree


Last weekend, my family and I went to the Easter farm. While my youngest daughter was getting face paint, my oldest daughter was having a meltdown. She is autistic. People were staring at me, giving me odd looks. I didn’t care. I spoke calmly to my daughter, asking her what was wrong. The simple action of speaking softly and offering her a hug, calmed her.

 

Dear people who were staring, who were judging; children have tantrums sometimes. The stares make them uncomfortable. Please either look away, or offer them a smile.

 

Dear parents who don’t know what to do during meltdowns; what has helped me is to ask questions. Ask your child what’s wrong. If they refuse to tell you, think about what led up to the event, and ask relevant questions. Are you sad? Are you mad? Once they confirm their emotion, ask them why. Is it because you didn’t get the toy you wanted? Is it because you didn’t get to pet the rabbit? My daughter says yes or no to these questions, and then I can pinpoint the issue. I can then explain to her why that happened. “The rabbit wasn’t hungry, so it hopped away to play with it’s friends. It’s okay, you’ll get to pet one next time.” I also validate her emotions. “I understand why that makes you sad, you really wanted to pet the rabbit.” Then, I ask if she wants a kiss, a hug, if she wants to leave the room to a quieter place. This often calms my daughter down. She often says yes for a hug. Then, if not before, get away from the trigger. Take them to another store, or to another part of the petting zoo farm. That way, they won’t have another meltdown for the same reason “but I want to pet the rabbit!” and it saves them from being upset all over again and getting stressed out.

 

Our children are precious. Let’s help them where we can.

 

Sincerely,

 

A special needs mom


 

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Top 20 Outdoor Activities To Do As A Family

Posted by Live Love Mom on June 24, 2016 at 8:00 AM Comments comments (0)

by: Stephanie McEndree


Here are the top twenty activities for kids during all seasons! Different types of activities are listed for variety. Whether you are low income, high income, in the country or in the city, here are some wonderful ways to entertain your children and spend time with them, no matter what the season!

 

Sports. This is a great idea year-round. It can be as simple as playing soccer in the backyard, to going skiing as a family, or playing basketball at the local gym. Sit down with your children and make a list of all the types of sports they would like to try, or are interested in. Consult your budget, and see what you can come up with!

Seeing animals. Think going to a zoo, or an educational farm. Seeing these creatures up close, and maybe even having the option to hold or pet one, will be thrilling for your little ones. You can even consider taking the children to a butterfly sanctuary or the aquarium.

Park. An idea as old as time, local parks are an easy, free way of entertaining your children. They can run around, slide, swing, and climb to their heart’s content while you can watch close by and catch up with your mom friends!

Fruit picking. This is a great idea for summer activities, and early fall. Not only is this very educational in the sense that your children will know more about where food comes from, but you get to take the fruits of your labor home with you!

Seasonal attractions. These vart according to the seasons. Visit a local pumpkin patch and corn maze during the autumn season. Attractions like skiing, snow-boarding, sledding, tubing and more are great pasttimes during the winter.

Fairs, carnivals and parades. Not only do these provide games, but also rides and food. Be sure to bring your camera, you will want to remember the smiles for years to come!

Sidewalk chalk. Provided there is no rain forcasted for that day, get your children some sidewalk chalk so they can create a work of art in your driveway or the sidewalk.

Puddle jumping. This is good for a rainy day, or the day after a downpour. Be sure to have your children wear their raincoat and boots!

Igloos. These can be tough to build, but a fun and collective effort to execute. Parenting hack: if you have a child-sized play house, place it outside and pack it with snow for an igloo-cheat!

Snowmen. Fun to build during the winter, be sure to build it close to your home so rebel teens don’t destroy it. Be sure to include the classics like the carrot nose, the hat and scarf!

Snow angels. Just put on your snow pants and plop on the snowy ground and snow-angel away!

Snowball fights. Gentle and without ice, pack a fistful of snow into a snowball and have some fun!

Slushes. Be sure to gather clean snow, and mix in a cup with some juice. There you have your own home-made slush! Bonus points for freshly-squeezed juice from your own fruit.

Leaf pile, good for photos as well as family fun! Try building a shelter with the leaves, and of course throwing leaves around. Afterwards, put the leaves in orange trash bags and color in jack-o-lantern faces with black marker.

Flower picking is great for spring and summer. Open fields often have wild flowers growing everywhere.

Camping can be cheaper during the off-season, like in April or September. You’ll need extra blankets, but just build a warm fire and you’ll be all set. Don’t forget the s’mores!

Fishing in a boat or on mainland is a creative way to get supper as well as spend some relaxation time with the family!

Pinterest art projects. This can include anything from handprint art, hand turkeys, even building your own life-size play-trains, kitchens and homes!

Treasure hunt. Make a treasure map for your children, outlining the backyard. You can bury candy under a leaf pile or even in the ground for the final prize! Bonus if you can get them to use a compass.

Tie dye shirts is a messy yet creative activity to unite together as a family. Keep your souvenire shirts afterwards and wear them with pride!


 

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Mastitis

Posted by Live Love Mom on May 30, 2016 at 7:05 AM Comments comments (0)

by: Stephanie McEndree


It’s not fun. It’s red, bloody, and gross. It makes you feel like you have a horrible case of the flu. It often also involves clogs. Ladies; I am here to talk about surviving mastitis.

 

Symptoms:

 

Breast tenderness or warmth to touch.

Generally not feeling well

Swelling of the breasts.

Pain or a burning sensation continuously or during breastfeeding.

Redness of the skin, often in a pattern wedge.

Fever of 101 F (38.3 C) or more.

A painful, hard mass

Pus oozing from the affected area or nipple

Milk clots or clogged milk ducts

 


I personally am on my last round of antibiotics for the worst case of mastitis that I have ever had. I was fortunate enough to never have it with my first child. With my second, I narrowly missed mastitis when my baby was a few days old, by pumping and expressing around the clock and massaging as well. This time however, I woke up with it.


 

At 5 am I was shivering, and I had a painful lump in my breast. Turns out I had a fever of 103. I tried the usual tips for clogs: massaging, pumping, expressing. Nothing worked, so I tried a hot shower and pressing hard with rolled up towels, and there I saw it. Proof that I had an infection. I looked it up online, and everything pointed to mastitis. The redness was begining, and I knew I had to get seen fast. So I went to the hospital and got it looked at.


 

The doctor I saw wasn’t the smartest. As told by subsequent doctors, he should have given me IV antibiotics. Instead, I was poked and prodded twice in each arm until they finally got a blood sample and an IV of sterile saltwater in. I was hydrated, and then told that my white blood cell count was at over 19,000 and that my fever was confirmed, with elevated blood pressure. I was prescribed oral antibiotics and told to come in the next day.


 

When I returned, my infection was worse. The redness had spread from the top to the bottom of my breast. I showed this to the doctor, who immediately administered IV antibiotics, and was incredulous that this hadn’t been done yesterday. I was prescribed stronger antibiotics and sent up for an emergency ultrasound. An abscess was confirmed. Keep in mind that I went to the hospital the same day that my symptoms arose, so imagine if I had waited any longer!


 

A surgeon came in and prodded a needle into my abscess five different times. All she could get out was air, but since she punctured the abscess, it became smaller since it started spreading. I was told to come back to take a look at it in two days, to see if I would need emergency surgery to get the abscess removed.


 

Two days later, I see another doctor. She sees that the swelling and redness has gone down and my fever is gone. She says the abscess seems smaller, so it must be draining on its own. She sends me home with a prescription of the antibiotics for 10 more days.


 

As I went home I had to pump more often than usual, and hot showers helped. I found out after pumping after a hot shower, there were two clogs that came out that I didn’t even know were there. I mention this because after a hot shower, expressing and pumping was made easier and more helpful, so I highly recommend it. Blood came out into my milk as well, so that was a surprise. Turns out it’s also due in part to the mastitis.


 

So there you have it; my mastitis survival story. The lesson I want you to take from this, is that the moment you believe you have mastitis, to get medical attention immediately. Mastitis is fatal in countries in Africa when left untreated. It is a serious condition that can get very ugly very fast. Had I not gone in when I did, I would have most likely needed surgery. Word to the wise: listen to your body, call your doctor if you’re unsure, and when all else fails, seek medical attention.


 

Prevention tips:

 

Wear a bra that isn’t too tight.

Don’t sleep on your belly as this can compress your milk ducts and cause clogs which can lead to mastitis.

Nurse and/or pump often

Don’t go too long between nursing/expressing

Wear loose clothing, never too tight around the chest

Eat well to help your body stay healthy

Get plenty of rest to keep your immune system boosted


 

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When You Get Sick

Posted by Live Love Mom on March 5, 2016 at 7:45 AM Comments comments (0)

by: Stephanie McEndree


When one person in the family gets sick, everyone gets sick.

 

Having a toddler in daycare, you would think that the potential amount of germs that they bring home, that the exposure would make your immune system super-human.

 

NOPE!

 

I can only assume germs are smart and keep changing and evolving to survive whatever antibodies we create, or antibiotics that we can use to fight them.

 

My toddler has had a cough for a couple of weeks now, and I have been treating it like the doctor prescribed. Despite her diminishing symptoms and my prolonged exposure, I didn’t get sick. I thought that I had escaped unscathed!

 

But no. Just as she’s getting better, I catch it.

 

As a single mom of two under three, you cannot take a break. You have no time for rest. Since this is thanksgiving weekend and daycare is closed on monday, it means the opposite; you get even LESS rest than usual.

 

On top of it all, my four-month-old baby decides that now would be the perfect time to start the famous “four month sleep regression”. Every few hours during the night, she woke screaming to be fed. During the day, she screams sometimes since she is in the early stages of teething. No matter what I do, she won’t stop until she falls asleep.

 

It has been a particularly difficult week. My toddler even threw up all over herself in her bed because her coughing was so severe, two nights in a row. Thank goodness now it’s at a manageable level.

 

It was a lot of difficult things happening at the same time. What made it especially hard for me, is that my children were sick and I felt helpless. It is one of the worst feelings as a mom, to feel helpless to help your child! I am thankful that my toddler’s medicine is working and she is getting better. My newborn has teething rings and lots of chewable toys to help her through her teething phase. Moms do the best they can for their children, and that’s what matters the most!


 

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Quality Time

Posted by Live Love Mom on March 25, 2015 at 12:50 AM Comments comments (0)

by: Stephanie McEndree


For parents who have shared custody of their children:

 

You may sometimes find your child asking about the other parent. Where is daddy? Where is mommy? I want mommy here too, I want daddy here. This can be especially difficult when you have more than one child, and they are both very young, therefore they don’t understand why their parents aren’t always together.

 

Here are some helpful tips to help your young children through this trying time.

 

1. Phone calls. Let your child call their parent, once a day on the days that the children are not with the other parent. Whenever your child asks about their other parent, offer to have them call the other parent. This way, they can keep in touch and fulfil their need to stay in the loop with what’s going on with the other parent.

 

2. Skype. Do you and your ex both have internet? I recommend skype calls. Your children will get to see their parent, and this will make them very happy. The other parent will then be able to show the child any changes in the home to prepare them before they arrive, and share what they are doing. Children are very curious and often wonder where the other parent is and what they’re doing. This will satisfy that curiosity while also maintaining the bond with the other parent. They will also appreciate very much that you let them keep in touch with the other parent.

 

3. Photos. Is your ex unavailable? Is he at work or at school? Go through pictures of your ex with your child, especially photos of your ex with your child. You can explain what your child and your ex were doing in that photo. If possible, you can show your children photos related to what you believe your ex is doing at that present time. Is he working? Show your child photos of your ex working. Is he sleeping? Show your ex photos of him sleeping, etc.

 

4. Videos. You can show your child pre-recorded videos of your ex. You may have home videos lying around from when you went somewhere as a family, or maybe he sent you a video of him and your child singing, dancing, or out somewhere special. Play these videos for your child. If you do not have any, ask your ex to record a video message to your child. What is really popular is a good night video, maybe with a lullaby or reading a passage from a children’s book.

 

5. An item from your ex’s place. This can be a special toy, a stuffed animal, or a blanket, even a book. An item from the other parents’ home can make the child feel closer to their parent, despite the distance. It can also feel good for the child to have something close, that he or she can hold and hug when they miss the other parent.

 

6. Keep them busy. While the child asking for the other parent is inevitable, what you can do is provide pleasant distractions. Keep the child busy with toys, games, and going different places. Visit the library and pick out books and movies, go to the zoo, go to the park, the aquarium, local fairs and parades. Make activities fun and new for your child. Enrich them with education and play, and they will be too enthralled to focus on their negative feelings.

 

7. Keep a steady routine. Ideally, this routine is similar to your ex’s routine with your children. It is important to communicate to the other parent if the child needs a bath, if they need medication, if they have napped or not, if they are due for a snack or a diaper change, etc. This way, the child’s basic needs are met without delay, and you are informed of how the day went at the other parent’s place. The child will feel less other-parent homesick when the routine is the same from one place to another.

 

8. Let them see your ex in-laws. Whether you go visit them yourself or your ex goes with your children alone, if they are good for your children, let it happen. The children love family and friends, and will like spending time with people who love them.

 

9. Let them see their friends often. Whether at the park, daycare, playdates, mommy groups or school, your children can always benefit from socializing.

 

10. Let your child see the other parent’s pets, if they have any. Your child can offer to walk the dog with you, so you can all go to a dog park and play with the dog. If your ex has other types of pets, you can play videos and photos of their pet so they can keep in touch with them.

 

The point is to keep the child feeling as safe, happy and fulfilled as possible. Do not get angry or upset at your children for missing the other parent. It is nothing against you. You and your ex were a couple before you became seperated, and your child may miss you being a family under one roof, which is normal. When seperating when the children are young, it is important to maintain seperation with the other parent so the child doesn’t get confused. Once the children see from a young age that their parents are no longer together, they will come to accept it and no longer expect or hope for both parents to be together all the time.


 

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Love The Skin You Are In

Posted by Live Love Mom on January 24, 2014 at 10:50 AM Comments comments (0)


by: Stephanie McEndree

Skin irritations in kids can be very upsetting. Kids with sensitive skin are often prone to rashes, breakouts and eczema. They require special products to avoid outbreaks. Here are some tips on hiw to prevent irritations.

 

Parent’s choice, simply kids or president’s choice diapers have been found to be easiest on the rears of babies and young children. Out of personal experience and those of friends and family, these are the 3 top brands to use for the little ones. Bonus, they are also the cheapest to buy because they don’t have fragrances.

 

Simply kids is the top brand for wipes as well. They don’t contain harmful fragrances and have been the only brand that is fool-proof for babies. Parent’s choice and president’s choice are other great brands for wipes.

 

Creams that are best for combatting diaper rashes is a mixture of 3 creams available for prescription: cortisone, anti-fungal and zinc-based creams mixed together. These banish any and all types of rashes for good. It’s safest to ask your doctor for a prescription than to make it yourself to make sure there are no negative medical interactions.

 

Change diapers as often as possible. At least once every 2 hours for a newborn. This prevents he acidity from bowel movements and from urine to irritate the skin.

 

Avoid acidic foods. This will prevent an acidic pH in the urine and acid in poop. If you must give acidic foods, avoid them in large quantities. This includes citric fruits and tomatoes, which are some of the most acidic foods out there.

 

Got more advice to banish red, itchy skin on a baby? Share below!


 

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Letter To My Step Son

Posted by Live Love Mom on March 24, 2013 at 11:30 AM Comments comments (0)

by: Stephanie McEndree


My dear stepson,

 

I know you never asked for me to be in your life. You’ve practically lived your entire childhood without me in the picture. You only knew of my existance when you were 14 years old. You probably imagined that someday your father would date another woman, and maybe you even imagined him becoming a father again. However, I don’t think you imagined it quite like this. I know I didn’t.

 

When your father and I became spouses, I didn’t just agree to be his family. To me, I agreed to be family to his family. I agreed to be there for you as well, however you needed me. I sealed this agreement when I had children with your father, tying his blood to mine. My daughters are your sisters, you are my daughters’ brother.

 

Despite our seperation, despite all that has happened, my daughters remain your sisters. You remain my daughters’ brother. That bond of blood will never break. As your siblinghood remains intact, so does my pact to your father’s family, to you.

 

I want you to know that the rupture of my relationship with your father, has not changed anything else. In my eyes, you are still my step-son. I am still your step-mother. I am not going anywhere.

 

So to you, I make these promises.

 

I promise to not mistreat you, especially not related to my feelings for your father. You are two seperate people in my and my daughters’ lives. You may share blood with your father, but that is all you share.

 

I promise not to keep you from your sisters. If you want to remain in their lives, I will not prevent you from doing so. I want your sisters to know their brother, and for you to know your sisters.

 

I promise that you will always be welcome in our home. Whether you would like to visit your sisters, have someone to talk to, or even a place to stay, I am here for you. I may not be your first choice, but I am here nonetheless.

 

I promise to be an ear to listen, moral support when you need it, and a positive person in your life. I know you never had two full-time parents growing up, and I am very sorry to know that. Though I may have arrived late in your life, I plan to continue to be a positive adult in your life.

 

I may not be your blood, I may not have given birth to you, I may not have raised you, and I may not have known you nearly as long as some of your mother’s closest friends. I may not live close to you, I may no longer be with your father, I may not be able to see you as often as I like. However, I am here for you. I care about you, and you are my daughters’ blood. Family is very important to us, and I consider you a part of our family.

 

You are my daughters’ brother. My daughters are your sisters. And until you tell me otherwise, you are still my stepson, and I am still your step-mother.


 

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