The Chirping Moms

October 30, 2014

True & Utter Chaos. Welcome to the World of Three Children.

We are anxiously on baby watch here at The Chirping Moms.  Courtney is past her due date & still no baby yet, but I am checking my phone every hour waiting to hear the BIG news.  In celebration of the upcoming baby, I thought today would be a perfect day to welcome Courtney to the world of parenting three little children.  Parenting is hard no matter if you are parenting one or several children.  But today, I am talking about the world of three.  I took some time to reflect on the past 18 months to the moment when Abby was born & I became a parent to three.  There are moments I can hardly remember, due to exhaustion and fatigue, but this time in my life is truly awesome.  It's challenging but exciting at the same time.  So today, with the excitement of Courtney's baby about to arrive, I am here to share & send her a few tips and tricks for adjusting to the world of three, an amazing, chaotic, & exhilarating moment in her life.

These are my three.  Wild & sweet at the same time.  So much love with these three. 
These kids are the inspiration behind the the words that I have written below.   

1.   My first advice for you is to use that "village" that you have.  Thankfully, I know you have an amazing group of family and friends to help you with your sweet kiddos & don't be afraid to use them.  With a newborn baby and two more kids, four and under, you do need help.  Let them cook you dinner.  Let them take your kids.  You can repay them back another time, but at this moment, you need to take care of yourself & soak up that newborn.  Your village wants to help you because they care about you & your kids.   Three kids, or really any amount of kids, is no easy thing & the support and care from family and friends is what will help you hold on to your sanity.  

2.  Your house will never be clean again.  With two kids, it's not really clean either but now it's just a disaster.  There is no getting to those piles or the closets or storage areas.  My best advice is to spend a few hours every few months with a garbage bag while the kids are out with daddy and just walk around and throw whatever you can get your hands on away.  The Happy Meal toys, the books with missing pages, & all those items that are missing the piece.  Purge & purge & purge.  And when you aren't completely exhausted, try to spend 15 minutes at the end of the day to pick up.  It will make you feel better in the morning, trust me.  Oh, and don't get me started on that never-ending laundry...

3.  That mini-van suddenly will feel full.  You will back in your rearview mirror & have to ask yourself, are all these kids mine?  Yep, they are.  And there's something about three kids in the car that makes for some wild rides.  They are all yours & they will make themselves be heard.  Get ready to turn up the radio sometimes & tune out three different demands for snacks, water, & their need for mommy.  You have to be a little more creative when you pack for big trips because you can't pop that back seat down anymore.  Don't be afraid to use the DVD player more often, especially when you are stuck nursing the baby in the back of the car while sitting in the parking lot at Target.  And keep a container in your car for trash because with three kids, because it seems to never end.

4.  You will be parenting three different personalities.  And it's amazing to watch.  Sometimes I wonder if all three of my kids come from the same parents.  They are so different in their personalities, which makes them so special & unique, and a never-ending challenge to parent.  I have learned not to compare or expect the same from each child.  This parenting challenge teaches us, as parents, to stay humble.  Just when you think you have something figured out, the next one comes and does it entirely different.  

5.  You and your husband will be outnumbered.  But that's okay because you will figure it out.  Every set of parents does.  You figure out how to divide & conquer.  Which kid is the best to take on errands?  Which kid is the best to keep at home when you have chores to do?  You will learn the ins and outs of each kid & how to most efficiently divide and conquer to make the most of each day.  And what's the worst that can happen...All three kids have a meltdown.  Yes, it will happen.  And when it does, just close yourself in a room for a few minutes & let it be.   (I recommend a bathroom because there's a lock on the inside where they can't manage to get in so it guarantees you a moment of quiet!)  Their tears will stop, trust me. 

6.  Hitting the town & running errands is a whole new adventure.  People will constantly tell you  that "you have your hands full" or "oh look, here comes the circus".  Yep, it's true.  You do have your hands full & you will feel like a ringleader.  But with the chaos, you will learn to laugh at the crazy moments.  And be patient with those sweet faces.  And to set really low expectations on what you may get done, because some days, you may be proud of the fact that you managed to get all three to the store just to get that gallon of milk that you ran out of last night.    

7.  And did I say set lower expectations?  Yep, with three kids, I just knew that some of my "must-haves of parenting" had to go.  No more daily bath, now we do it every other night.  No more laying out clothes the night before, instead it's get yourself in something clean before we run out the door.  No more homemade muffins in the morning, now it's Cheerios or frozen waffles.  But I have learned that it's okay.  My kids may smell a little stinkier, look a little less put together, & may not have a five star breakfast, but as long as they are happy, that's all that matters.

8.  Forget the treadmill, you won't need it.  Between running after three kids & juggling all the schedules, I swear many days I get a better workout than when I was training for marathons in college.  Even me, with endless energy, admits that parenting young children is exhausting and I often fall into bed at night without one more drop of energy, but I have to admit that it's kind of like a rush all day long.  You just go from one thing to another, stopping for coffee & more coffee, to keep you going and all of a sudden they are all asleep & then you sit in a stupor.  A very long stupor where you will grab a glass of wine or a piece of chocolate & that's okay.  You need to celebrate the fact that you made it through the day and bedtime, because we all know that little kids and bedtime (times three) can be rough!  

9.  Which brings me to my next message.  Bring on the coffee & wine.  Until three kids, I was never a big coffee drinker.  Now I can't survive without two cups a day.  You tell me one drive through I would like to be built in my town, I would embrace a Starbucks.  Please.  And thankfully, with the help to you & a few other fellow NJ moms, I have embraced a big ole glass of wine.  Somedays, a glass of wine is all you need to put the humor into the bedtime chaos & to help you unwind after the crazy days that you have.

10.  Get ready to share that endless love you have.  I know that you are an amazing mom to those two crazy, sweet girls you have.  And this child is so lucky to have a mom that strives every day to be the best mom that she can be.  With three kids hanging on your side, it is crazy and exhausting and somedays, you may wonder if you can make it through one more minute.  But you do and you will.  You will be amazed at the love that continues to come out of you.  You will not just learn how to survive, but you will thrive.  Because this, being a mom to all of these kids, is such a blessing that has come into your life & it's truly an amazing gift. 

Good luck Court, I can't wait for that baby to come!

And wait, one last tip for you.  The perfect picture with three kids:  it never happens...

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October 29, 2014

5 Ideas for Holiday Card Themes

It's that time of year: pull out the matching outfits and camera and hope for some big smiles from all. That's right, it's time to start thinking about holiday photos and making holiday cards. I always really enjoy making and sending cards at the holidays. We also love receiving them from friends and family, both near and far. My kids get so excited to see the cards and pictures as they come in the mail, and we display them as they arrive. I usually take a picture in the fall, when our yard is covered in colorful leaves, but this year we're waiting for a special addition to our family before we take our photo! Sometimes it's fun to tie in the annual holiday card with a special theme from the previous year. Here are 5 fun ideas for a holiday card theme:
1. Birth Announcement
Did you have a baby in the months leading up to sending holiday cards? You could send a card that also acts as a birth announcement for your new bundle of joy. This is the theme we'll probably be going with this year.
2. Thankful
We usually start getting cards in the mail right after Thanksgiving. You could send a card with a "thankful" post Thanksgiving theme. Perhaps mention to those you are sending cards to how thankful you are to have them in your life. 

3. Just Married 
If you got married this year, it might be a nice time to share one of your favorite wedding photos. Tom and I did this the first year we were married. We sent holiday cards about 2 months after our wedding and used a photo from our wedding day on the card.
4. New Address 
If you moved this year, now's the perfect time to let everyone know your new address! This way, you can share a holiday card and the recipient knows where to send one back. If you are going to take a photo of the kids/ family, this would be a cute chance to take a picture of them in front of the new house or somewhere in your new town. 
5. Milestones of the Year 
If you'd like to share a little more than just 1 family picture, you could share a few pictures along with some special milestones from the year. For example, a big family vacation, first day of school, baby's first birthday, etc. 
This post was inspired by Paper Culture known for their eco-friendly holiday cards and personalized gifts. 
This post was sponsored by Global Influence. As always, all opinions are our own. 
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October 28, 2014

DIY Thankful Banner

I am excited to share this fun craft idea with you all today.  This is a DIY Thankful banner that is super quick & easy to make.  A group of friends & I got together a few weeks ago to create this banner and I love how it turned out!  Read below for supplies & directions for the DIY Thankful Banner:
DIY Thankful Banner

Supplies:
  • 8 inch wide burlap roll.  I ordered this burlap roll, but I did this with a large group & we have PLENTY left over even after almost 50 banners were made!
  • Template (I created this one here that you can download & use)
  • Scissors
  • Twine
  • Stencils (letters THANKFUL)-This is the set I ordered!
  • Orange & Black Craft Paint
  • Foam Paintbrush
  • Mini Spouncers
  • Glue Gun & Glue Sticks



Directions:
1.  Cut out 8 triangles out of the burlap using the template to guide you.  If you buy the 8 inch wide burlap, then you can just alternate facing the triangles right side up & upside down without wasting any burlap.  

2.  Cut a piece of twine that is long enough to fit all the triangles spaced out with 1-2 inches in between.  Leave a little extra for the ends to hang.

3.  Glue the triangles onto the twine with the glue gun.

4.  Take each stencil & tape with masking tape onto the burlap in the center.
  
5.  Dip the foam brush into the black paint & dab lightly over the letter until completely covered with black paint.

6.  Pull off stencil & letter will appear!

7.  Repeat until you have spelled THANKFUL.

8.  Add little polka dots with spouncer dipped in orange paint.

9.  Let dry & hang!


Here are some more images to help you get a better view of the banner!

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October 27, 2014

This Week's Giveaway: $100 Kohl's Gift Card

“I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Influence-Central for Kohl's. I received Kohl's gift cards to facilitate my review and a thank you item for participating" 

Last month we shared a fun singing contest that Kohl's was hosting called the Frozen Sing Your Heart Out Contest. We even shared a video of some of our kids giving "Let It Go" their best try! Now the entries are in and you can view the videos. There are some awesome entries! 

My girls love watching all the kids and families "sing their hearts out" to their favorite Frozen songs. Our current favorites are the Marcellinos. She's one brave Mom singing with all those little kids! You can view all of the videos here.  Be sure to watch some of the videos and vote for your favorite. There's a wide range of ages to watch sing and both solos and group performances. The performance with the most votes will be revealed in a Kohl's commercial that will air during the American Music Awards on November 23rd. 

Along with the Frozen Sing Your Heart Out Contest, Kohl's has plenty more to offer from the hit movie. They have a huge line of Frozen items for the whole family. From pajamas to toys, there's something for every Frozen fan on your holiday list. My girls are hoping for Frozen dress up shoes and a Frozen nightgown this Christmas. They are also big Olaf fans (that's actually their top pick for the new baby's name if it's a boy). Kohl's has a ton of Olaf items and boys clothes too. I was happy to see a variety of price points too. So, if your child's "big gift" they are hoping for is something Frozen or if you just want a few Frozen stocking stuffers, you can find it all at Kohl's. 

If you're excited to shop the Frozen line at Kohl's, along with their entire store, this week's giveaway is for you! We are sending one lucky winner a $100 Kohl's gift card. Please enter using the Rafflecopter below. 

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

October 24, 2014

Bringing Your Child's Artwork to Life!

Meet the newest addition to our family...
Cutie the Boy Penguin.  
This penguin was created solely by my little penguin loving son, Aiden.  

Now let me start this post by telling you that this boy for the past few months has been really into drawing.  He loves to create picture books to read and draw pictures for his brother and sister.  We have a huge stash of papers under his bed compiled of drawings of creatures he loves, his family, and much more.  So when I first heard of the website Budsies, I was instantly intrigued with their idea of how they are able to take a child's artwork & bring it to life by creating a real-life plush for the child to hold and knew this is something we needed to try!

My son is a huge penguin fan.  So when we talked about what he may want to create, he instantly knew that he wanted another penguin to join his little penguin collection.  He spent a lot of time creating a gray penguin consisting of blue hair, an orange beak, & a blue belly button.  All I had to do was take a photo of the drawing, submit it to the website Budsies, & wait while a skillful artist created his creation by hand into a stuffed animal.  We waited & waited, while we knew Budsies was doing their magic.  A couple weeks ago, we were surprised by a special package on the doorstep with the most adorable stuffed animal inside, Cutie the Boy Penguin.  Aiden's drawing was turned into real life & he can now hold, hug, and love the penguin that came out of his imagination.


This is truly a cherished item in Aiden's life, because it was 100% inspired by his own imagination.  If you are looking for a different gift idea or a special way to remember your child's artwork, make sure to visit Budsies.  This would make a really awesome gift idea for your child (or a special someone in your life) in these upcoming holidays, but please do get your order submissions in early because the holiday cutoff date to get your orders in is November 10th to guarantee delivery by Christmas.  Make sure to follow Budsies on Facebook for special contests & ideas, as well as on their other social media:  Pinterest, Instagram, & Twitter.


With three little children, we have owned a lot of toys & kid stuff over the past several years but I have to say that our Budsies creation stands out as one of the most unique & special gifts that a child can have.  I have a feeling that this penguin, Cutie the Boy, will be one of those toys that will last for many years being loved & cared for by the same boy who created him.  So if you are looking for a special gift for your kids that will last through the years, make sure to visit Budsies where they will bring your child's artwork to life.

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Disclosure:  We were not compensated for this post, but we did receive a product to review.  
As always, all opinions are my own.

Vote for the Truvia Baking Star (& Giveaway)!

Cast your Vote for the next #TruviaBakingStar!

A couple weeks ago, we shared with our readers that Truvia® launched its new Brown Sugar Blend, a mixture of Truvia® and Brown Sugar that offers a brown-sugar-like taste, texture, and volume, with 75 percent fewer calories than regular brown sugar. To celebrate the launch, the Truvia® brand gave all baking enthusiasts the chance to share their talents in the Truvia® Baking Star contest.

Well, the entries were submitted & the semi-finalists are picked!  From now through October 29th, fans can vote for their favorite of 10 semi-finalists on www.TruviaBakingStar.com.  Fans can vote for videos once a day.  There are some great recipes shared in these videos.  Cupcakes, muffins, cookies, cinnamon rolls, & more which are all created with the new Truvia Brown Sugar Blend.  There is some major cooking inspiration so make sure to take a few moments out of your day to sit back, watch these videos, & submit your vote!

Shortly after October 30, 2014, the three finalists with the most votes will receive an all-expense paid trip to New York City with a  guest.  They will compete in a live bake-off event on November 19, judged by YouTube stars April Moore, Byron Talbott, Joanna Ozug, and Gaby Dalkin.  The winner will be awarded the titel of Truvia Baking Star, and a professionally produced and promoted video.
To help celebrate the #TruviaBakingStar contest, we are giving away a Truvia prize package including: a package of Truvia Brown Sugar Blend, a package of Truvia Baking Belnd, one Truvia spoonable, one Truvia 40-count package, & a Truvia glass.  All you have to do is enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post & good luck!
Win a Truvia Priza Package Giveaway
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This post was sponsored by Truvia. As always, all opinions are our own. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

October 23, 2014

Two 5-Minute Halloween Projects


Halloween is just a week away! I'm still wondering when baby will arrive and whether or not i'll be home to do things like trick or treat and carve pumpkins with the kids on Halloween night. So, we've been doing some fun Halloween things ahead of time. This week we made 2 Halloween projects that were so easy and quick. We have a 5 minute way to decorate pretty pumpkins and a 5 minute Halloween snack/treat. You may have seen a sneak peak of the pumpkin on Instagram earlier this week! 

5 Minute Glitter Pumpkin
Supplies: pumpkin, glitter & Elmer's glue
Directions: Take glue and make about 4-6 circles of glue around the top of the pumpkin. Using your fingers, spread the glue to cover the top part of the pumpkin you want covered in glitter. Sprinkle glitter all over, shake off access and you're done! We did the glitter part outside because it can get messy. 


5 Minute Marshmallow Ghost 
Supplies: Sandwich bag, mini marshmallows, black ribbon & black Sharpie
Directions: Fill a sandwich bag half way with marshmallows. Push the marshmallows down into one corner of the bag and tie tightly with the ribbon. Draw on a ghost face. These would make cute treats for a Halloween party or to bring in for the class. 


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