The Lazy Days of Summer

Sadly yesterday marked the last lazy day of the summer for Liam, Atticus, and me. The boys will be back at daycare this week, and I’ll be back at work on Thursday. Since I was a little girl, summer has always been my favorite season.

Like David Letterman, I decided today’s post would reflect My Top 10 Memories of the summer. So without further ado…

  1. Weddings are always a wonderful way to get family and friends together for a good time, and my cousin Veronica’s wedding was no exception. Liam especially loved picking the perfect props for the photo booth. The “Kids Only” table was definitely a big hit with him too. I think he spent more time underneath the table than anywhere else in the venue. Atticus and I enjoyed the music and dancing, and our little man partied way past his bedtime, but it was well worth it. Congratulations, love birds! Mojica wedding
  2. Summer is always the best time to knock out doctor’s appointments because you don’t have to worry about the kiddos missing school. Liam’s dentist makes dental appointments a breeze. Even when he had to get a cavity filled, we were in and out within 40 minutes. I wish my dental practice operated under that same level of efficiency. IMG_2582
  3. Unstructured playtime is undoubtedly one of the most carefree parts of summer. In fact, Liam told me his favorite part of summer was just being home and playing. Yeah, a point for me, for ensuring plenty of that happened. Atticus found the most joy playing with his rings, stacking cups, and maracas. I have truly loved watching his sense of curiosity and wonder develop. Big brother spent most of his time playing with Transformers and Legos. In the afternoons when Atticus napped, Liam and I also enjoyed some one-on-one time playing games. Almost daily we challenged each other to Uno, Guess Who, Operation, and Connect Four. He’s grown so much in both sportsmanship and skill- two qualities I’m very proud of him for improving on this summer. IMG_3108
  4. Outings out gave us something to look forward to. When my mom was in town last week, we took Liam and Atticus to the Rainforest Cafe. Liam was in absolute awe with every step he took. He raved about the elephants, gorillas, and the birds. IMG_2925
  5. As a school counselor and former teacher, summer wouldn’t be complete without opportunities for learning. In fact, my elementary summers included reading and writing book reports for my mom and spending “quiet time” listening to cassette tapes of Hooked on Math. Following in my mother’s footsteps, Liam and I spent time doing activities to review phonics and numbers this summer. He worked really hard and made great strides in his handwriting, letter recognition, and early reading. This Mama Bear can proudly say that before starting kindergarten he is decoding basic words like dog, cat, hop, and fan. IMG_2862
  6. Morning walks quickly became a summer ritual for us. We’d set out most mornings after breakfast with Atticus in a stroller, and Liam running alongside or ahead of me. We’d usually venture to one of the neighborhood lakes to see the turtles or burn some energy at one of the nearby playgrounds. Atticus enjoyed some quality time on the swings and the slides with his brother. I have to brag on Liam a bit. He is such an amazing big brother. He dotes on Atticus constantly and is very attentive to his needs. IMG_2804
  7. Playdates save the day and give everyone something to look forward to. I know I needed them just as much as Liam did. They provided great opportunities to catch up with my closest friends in a fun setting for the kiddos. One of my favorite playdates was at Levy Park in Houston with Ruby and Stephanie. If you haven’t had a chance to visit, I cannot say enough great things about it. It has great climbing spaces, and beautiful open areas to run and play. It’s a must visit even for my single friends. IMG_2518
  8. Summer wouldn’t be summer without a vacation. My vacation highlight was a trip to South Padre with the boys. Atticus took his first dip in the pool, Liam has a blast on the water slides at Schlitterbahn, and I loved catching up with close family and friends. No trip to the Valley would be complete without raspas (snow cones) from Mr. G’s or nachos from The Vermillion in Brownsville. IMG_2466
  9. Museums offer an interactive way to beat the heat and learn something new. We’ve been members of The Museum of Natural Science for the last two years but hadn’t had a chance to visit their satellite location in Sugarland. They had an exceptional Paleontology Hall that Liam enjoyed along with a dinosaur dig that was very interactive for him. My favorite exhibit was “Sweet- A Tasty Journey” that highlighted the history of candy. Liam’s fascination with the Pez display was the cherry on top for me. “Mom, look at all of these ‘old school’ Pez candy.” IMG_2250
  10. The lazy days of summer wouldn’t be complete without ice cream. Ice cream was a fixture in our freezer almost the entire summer. We sampled and loved Blue Bell’s Cookie Two Step, the perfect marriage of cookies and cream and cookie dough. We also baked homemade sugar cookies and then filled them with Rocky Road marshmallowy goodness to make ice cream sandwiches. So it’s no surprise that we ended our final day of summer on a high note with a new ice cream novelty, Subzero. Liam was awed by how they used nitrogen to freeze his ice cream. He enjoyed a chocolate concoction with brownies and fudge, and I indulged in a decadent mix of dulce de leche ice cream, cinnamon, caramel, Twix, and Heath. If you have a Subzero near you, it’s offers a fun outing that won’t disappoint. FullSizeRender (8)

Sadly the summer of 2017 is in the books. I loved spending so much quality time with the boys. It was by far the most carefree I’ve had in awhile because I wasn’t also trying to juggle the rigors of graduate school. But as the old adage goes, “All good things must come to an end!” With that, it’s time to shift gears and move into a back to school mindset.

Out of the Mouths of Babes

With only one child in the house who is verbally expressive so far, Liam certainly has some poignant things to say. His inquisitiveness keeps me on my toes and his candid comments can be downright hilarious.

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As you well know with children there is never a dull moment. Here are some of my most favorite Liamisms:

Liam’s babysitter recently got her braces off. When I asked him how his night with Alexis went, he said, “It was fun. Did you know she doesn’t have bracelets on her teeth anymore?”

I recently had two cavities filled. When Liam asked me why I had cavities, I told him it was likely because I ate too many Sour Patch Kids while I was in graduate school. “Mom, you of all people should know better. You need to stop eating so much candy and brush your teeth more.” Thanks for the life lesson on dental hygiene, Liam!

After looking a childhood picture of Sean, he said, “Dad, I don’t want to hurt your feelings but you looked pretty weird when you were a kid!”

For Father’s Day, I helped Liam make a canvas for Sean with descriptive words and the boys’ hand prints. I asked him,”What word best describes, Dad?” He enthusiastically responded with, “Awesome!” In small wooden letters I wrote: Our Dad is SPECIAL, PERFECT, AWESOME, and BOLD in a crossword pattern. When I read the words back to him, his face lit up when he heard the word bold. A sly smile flashed across his face, and he started laughing. I asked him if he knew what the word bold meant, and he very confidently said, “Yeah, it’s when you don’t have any hair!”

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My mom is one of my closest friends, and it is not uncommon for us to talk if either one of us is on a longer stretch of driving in the car. Every time the phone rings in the car, Liam says, “Let me guess, it’s Dolly again!” Insert eye roll and a sigh of disbelief. Little boys just don’t understand the need for girl talk!

Most nights at dinner, Liam knows to expect some kind of greenery on his dinner plate. When he’s called down to dinner he usually walks in after washing his hands and says, “I know we’re having broccoli for dinner again!” The tone and cadence though are what really make this one funny. He drags his words out to convey his disdain.

“Mom, I know this is going to sound mean but Atticus is pretty fat!” Doing my best to suppress a laugh, I told him healthy babies usually are chubby. The fat helps them grow and keeps them from getting sick. He then retorted,” So you’re telling me that I was fat once too!”

“Mom, why are you always speaking Spanish to Atticus?” “I want him to learn how to speak two languages. I would love for you to learn too!” “Well, I already know how to speak all kinds of Spanish.” “That wonderful! Por favor, pon la servilleta en la basura.” “Well, I don’t know that kind of Spanish. I just know my kind.”

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What are some of the things your kiddos say that have you rolling on the ground laughing? Please feel free to share in the comments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inspiring our Cubs to Embrace a Healthy Lifestyle

This morning, Liam, Atticus, and I woke up well before the sun rose to spectate a local sprint triathlon in our neighborhood. Earlier in the week while on our way to the pool, I mentioned to Liam that there would be a race on Sunday and the competitors would swim, bike and run. As we drove my the lake, I told him the competitors would start the race by swimming across the lake. His face immediately gave way to both surprise and awe that people would swim in one of the neighborhood lakes rather than the pool. In fact, he expressed concern that an alligator might try to eat them as they were swimming. As I eased his concern, I suggested that we come out to watch the race so he could learn more about this sport.

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We live in a beautiful neighborhood, so I knew it would be a great way to start our Sunday. More importantly though, I wanted him to see other people besides his parents leading a healthy lifestyle. Because fitness is so important to me, it is something I want my children to embrace as well. I don’t, however, want to be the pushy mom forcing them to participate in organized sports because they’re important to me. Liam recognizes the importance of eating healthy and thankfully is an incredible eater. While he does often make faces about the artichokes, brussel sprouts, or broccoli that might be on his dinner plate, he graciously consumes them without too many antics. It doesn’t hurt that he knows if he finishes all of his healthy bites he gets to conclude dinner with his absolute favorite part- dessert. Like I said in a previous post, everything in moderation is key.

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In the last year and a half, Liam has taken swimming lessons, participated in a youth soccer league, and is currently enrolled in gymnastics. He’s still exploring athletic pursuits but there’s plenty of time for him to discover his passions and pursue them to the degree he feels is appropriate. I recognize his passions might also include artistic pursuits, which would be equally wonderful. I think as parents it’s important to plant these little seeds and give them ample opportunities to pursue their interests. Healthy living for us isn’t a macrobiotic diet with restrictions. It’s about understanding what a healthy lifestyle looks like. Racing to the mailbox, climbing trees with gusto, eating an assortment of fruits and vegetables, and drinking water are all small ways Liam has embraced healthy living with a healthy outlook.

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Now that Atticus is 8 months old, I frequently push him around on morning runs if I can get out the door before it gets too hot. Even for an infant, I think it’s important to demonstrate the importance of fitness. Before long he’ll be chasing Liam and I to the mailbox or around the gravel track at the playground. I hope that like his older brother he recognizes that a healthy balance of physical activity and well-rounded food choices set the tone for a more positive quality of life in the long run.

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We all only get one chance to live this life. Live it beautifully, share it with the ones you love, and take it one day at a time!

An Open Letter from one Mama Bear to Another

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Even before I became a mother, many of my friends dubbed me with the nickname, “Mama Bear”. I was the overly responsible friend always worrying about all of the minute details of everything around me. I have to admit that it’s a quality that has suited me well as a wife and mother, but my rigidity and constant aspirations for perfectionism can sometimes be downright exhausting.

I grew up in a loving home with a superhero of a mother. She kept company with other amazing mothers who over the years have all shaped the kind of woman, wife, and mother I try to be every day. Naturally, in my quest to be the mom who does it all, I often fall short. I know that as women we put an immense amount of pressure on ourselves to carry out all of life’s pursuits flawlessly. Sometimes though when the soufflé falls or the dishes get overlooked, we need to look at ourselves in the mirror and smile. What we often internalize as “epic fails” are typically just blips on the radar in all of the things we try to juggle every day with grace, poise, and love.

The intention of this blog is to candidly catalog the highs and lows of marriage and motherhood. So often women break one another down, but my hope is that through the power of our words and actions, we can come together and share our experiences. We each have something meaningful to say but don’t always feel like we have a platform to express ourselves. Please feel free to share your stories as long as you also practice kindness in your posts.

And with that, this Mama Bear will give you a firsthand look at my den and the cubs and Papa Bear that I share my time with. My journey as a mother first began in the summer of 2014 when I first met my husband, Sean, on Match.com. He was a widower with a toddler so I quickly found myself courting the two of them. One loved red wine, binge watching Netflix shows, and playing basketball. The other loved chocolate milk, Octonauts, and playing with superheroes. It was a balancing act from the very beginning, but I gladly embraced my new role as both a partner and mother. My experiences as a classroom teacher and school counselor coupled with babysitting my friends’ children helped level the playing field some in my pursuit as a new mother. Resiliency and the support of everyone around me further balanced things out. On March 11, 2016, Sean and I exchanged vows with only Liam by our side to commemorate the love story that started and grew between the three of us. On our honeymoon, we discovered we had a cub on the way. We welcomed Atticus to our family on November 1, 2016. We fondly refer to the boys as Golden Bear and Baby Bear. This was my inspiration for the blog title and tagline.

Thank you for your interest in A Mama Bear & Her Cubs. I look forward to blogging about my life and sharing with my friends, family, and others who happen upon this blog. Until next time…