Thursday, October 27, 2011

Crock Pot on a Budget: Black Bean & Chicken Salsa Soup - Under $10

Holly at Nap Time
As soon as the leaves start to turn, it's soup season to me. This recipe will warm your whole family up (serves 6). The best part is it's a full family meal for under $10, and it can be adjusted according to your tastes (if you like it mild or like to heat it up!)

Disclaimer: The prices shown below are what I personally paid for each product, and may differ from what you are able to find in your grocery store.

Black Bean & Chicken Salsa Soup

Half-Pound Boneless Chicken (breasts or tenderloins) - $2.69
1 Large Can of Black Beans (26.5 oz) - $1.59
1 Small Can of Whole Kernel Corn (8 3/4 oz) - $0.89
1 Jar of Salsa - however hot you prefer (16 oz) - $2.59
1/2 Green Pepper, chopped - about $0.50
1 small red onion - about $0.30
1 Jalapeno Pepper (add whqole for mild taste and take out at end, or chop for heat) - about $0.28
4 Chicken Bouillon Cubes - about $0.32
4 Cups of Water

Optional Ingredients: (NOT included in price list)
Cumin (I used about 1 teaspoon)
Salt & Pepper to taste
Tortilla Chips
Sour Cream
Shredded Cheese

1. Add all of the main ingredients to your Crock Pot slow cooker and stir. If using cumin or salt & pepper, add now.
2. Cook on LOW for 8 hours or HIGH for 4-6 hours. Before serving, carefully use forks to shred the chicken up.
3. Serve as is or add sour cream, shredded cheese or tortilla chips to your liking. ENJOY!

I've been eating this soup for two days now (it made plenty of leftovers for our little family). The first night I just added a dollop of sour cream on top, but it didn't seem to add much to the flavor for me. Tonight when I reheated it, I added a little bit of cheese and broken up tortilla chips for a little crunch. YUM! The crunch really hit the spot, and I would dare say this soup was even better on day 2 after the flavors got to soak together more overnight.

For a thicker "stew" that you can scoop up with tortilla chips instead of eating like soup, try using 2 1/2 cups of water instead of 4 (and adjust if needed).

Yummy! Let me know if you try this one!

I'm currently building a recipe page on my blog for all of my Crock Pot features. In the meantime, use the Google Search Bar in the right-side column to search for "Crock Pot" for a list of all my postings. Thanks!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My Toddler Thinks that Matt Lauer is her Daddy

After the last couple days we've had at our house, I think it'd be therapeutic for me to write about something light-hearted. After I get my whine out, of course.

I don't know why, but I find pregnancy to be pretty stressful. I feel like I'm always on my guard and on-edge about something. Right now there is a little boy just north of where I live who has been missing in the woods since Sunday. Four days. Over a thousand people searching. Temperatures in the low 40's overnights. Oh yea, and he is autistic and non-verbal, meaning that he is unable to call for help. This, of course, is news that I would follow as a concerned citizen. But as a mom? I'm practically obsessed. I find myself checking the news every 15 minutes or so to see if there has been an update. Have they found him yet? I'm extremely hopeful, and my family and I have been praying for his safe rescue, but the whole situation has a lot of people on pins and needles. If you're interested, you can find more on the story here: NBC12.

That and my daughter is sick with the croup. And it totally breaks my heart. Her coughing started yesterday during the day, and I am so happy that my husband (who was also home sick) and I decided to take her to the pediatrician. Had the doctors not prepared us for what the night would be like (which we learned with croup is often much worse) I think we would have been in a definitely panic in the early morning hours this morning.

My husband, knowing how stressed out I am, still snuck to the store last night and brought me home white roses and cupcakes for our anniversary (which was yesterday). When I had mentioned that our daughter was sick on our last anniversary as well, he told me that it's just God's way of reminding us that it's not the anniversaries that count the most, but all the days in between. My husband is gifted to have a way with words like that.

Alright, onto lighter things, and as to what prompted my husband to post this onto Facebook last night:

It's true. It started a few days ago when I was looking online at one of the "Where in the World is Matt Lauer" promotions from the Today Show and my daughter ran over and exclaimed, "Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!!" My husband, thinking it was a fluke, pulled up another picture of Lauer yesterday while he was home and asked our daughter who it was. Again, "Daddy!!"

What makes it more hilarious is that while my husband and I were living in New York City (pre-kids) at one point I had mentioned something to the tune of how I think Matt Lauer has the coolest job in the world, which led to my husband to assume that I have a mega-crush on the guy, which I don't. (Sorry Matt, but you're old enough to be my dad.) Since then it has always been an ongoing joke in our house. Would my husband ever live up to the standards I've set for him through my adoration for Matt Lauer?

Ken- I wouldn't change a thing about you and our life together. It's perfect!

So what do you think? Must be the hair?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

FREE Chips Ahoy Cookies Coupon on Facebook at 12pm - Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday

Here's another Halloween treat for you! Head on over to Facebook to "Like" Chips Ahoy. From now through Thursday at 12pm EST Chips Ahoy will be giving away 20,000 coupons for their deliciously famous cookies. The coupons are for $1 and will be sent directly to your printer.

Make sure to stop by around noon to see if you can snag one today!

Happy Halloween! :)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

FREE Mascara from L'Oreal Paris on Facebook - First 1,000 Daily!

L'Oreal Paris has a deal for you! A FREE, full-sized sample of their newest mascara - Voluminous False Fiber Lashes. They are giving away to the first 1,000 entrants daily from now until November 7th, so don't miss your chance! I snagged mine this morning, and the confirmation says it should arrive in 8-10 weeks. Just in time for the holidays. :)

Here's How:

1. Visit L'Oreal Paris on Facebook and "Like" them.
2. In the left-hand column, go to the "Never Fake It Again" tab.
3. Click either "Take the Pledge" or "Skip the Pledge and Enter Now"
4. Fill out the form and see if you are a winner today!

Don't forget, they are only giving away to the first 1,000 daily. If you don't get your free mascara today, try again tomorrow! I entered at about 8:50am this morning and made it within the first 1,000. I hope you do, too!

Let us know if this offer worked for you! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Deck the Halls with Cards from Shutterfly! {Have a blog? Get 25 Cards FREE}

It's official. I seriously saw egg-nog at the grocery store this week, so therefore you cannot tell me that it's too early to start thinking about Christmas cards. These holiday greetings (especially Christmas photo cards) are one of the most special blessings of my holiday season. Being that we live about 800 miles away from our families, the cards are a wonderful view into the lives of loved-ones that we miss. My husband and I display the cards all over our home for the season, bringing in love and warmth from all across the US.

I have to admit that opening a Christmas card these days is much like when you're a child excited to see if there is any money in your birthday cards - is it a photo card!? To me, photo cards are a very personal way to share the holidays with friends and families. Each one is a little treat!

And let me tell you, nobody does holiday photo cards like Shutterfly. Shutterfly is an affordable way to easily find the card to suit your family's needs and share the joy of the season with others. Trust me, they have it all!

First of all, when you go to view their Christmas cards, you'll find that there are 928 items to choose from. That doesn't include the many cards that come in several colors, etc. This might seem a little overwhelming, but don't worry - Shutterfly has you covered there too. You can refine your search by style, theme, number of photos on front, format, card size, color, price, paper type, designer, or any combination of the above!

It really could not be easier or more fun. I've been browsing their selection, and here are my favorites of the year so far:

Shutterfly is also a great resource for photo gifts.  Last Christmas, we loved the photo mugs that we got for our grandparents so much, that we splurged and got some for ourselves as well. :)

Shutterfly has a ton of great promotions throughout the year! Make sure you visit their website and subscribe to their email list (located at the bottom of the page, or you can sign up for an account as well.)

Happy Browsing!

Disclaimer: I have received 25 free photo cards from Shutterfly in exchange for this post. The opinions expressed here are my own and may differ from yours. Have a blog? Learn how you can join this promotion for 25 free cards by clicking here. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Crock Pot Pecan-Cinnamon Pudding Cake Recipe - YUM!

Pecan-Cinnamon Pudding Cake, Holly at Nap Time 2011
Lately I've been feeling like the year is shuffling by pretty darn quickly, and I think it has to do with how fast each Wednesday seems to roll around. Wednesdays in our house are currently "Crock Pot Wednesdays" and the beginning of a new week to my pregnancy. Today I'm 26 weeks pregnant with our second child, a baby boy. Our daughter (almost 2) is just starting to get it, and has begun kissing my belly and calling out her baby brother's name. It melts my heart?

What better to go with those sweet sentiments than a sweet Crock Pot dessert for today's recipe? This Pecan-Cinnamon Pudding Cake comes to you from the book Rival Crock-Pot: 3 Books in 1. This dessert is perfect if you have it cooking while a small dinner party is eating their dinner. Your house will smell amazing, and shortly after your guests will have a warm, delicious treat.

Pecan-Cinnamon Pudding Cake

1-1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2/3 cup milk
5 tablespoons melted butter or margerine, divided
1 cup chopped pecans
1-1/2 cups water
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
whipped cream or vanilla ice cream (optional)

1. Coat Crock Pot with butter or nonstick cooking spray (seriously... don't forget this step!!)

2. In a medium bowl combine flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and cinnamon. Add milk and 3 tablespoons melted butter or margerine and mix until just blended (it will be pretty thick!) Stir in pecans and spread mixture into the bottom of your Crock Pot.

3. In a small saucepan combine water, brown sugar and 2 tablespoons melted butter or margerine. Bring to a boil and carefully pour over batter in Crock Pot. Do not stir once added.

4. Cover and cook on HIGH for 1-1/4 hours to 1-1/2 hours, or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Let stand, uncovered, 30 minutes, then invert onto serving plate. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if desired. ENJOY!

This is actually the first dessert I've ever made in the Crock Pot, and I have to say that I am impressed! Yummy, yummy. I'm a firm believer that if we wanted to, we could get along just fine without a microwave or oven as long as we had our Crock Pot.

Chopped pecans can be more expensive than pecan halves, so if you have a few extra minutes, it's worth buying the halves and putting them in a Zip-loc bag and crushing them yourself with the flat end of a meat tenderizer or a rolling pin.

If anyone has any advice for getting this cake out of the crock and to a serving plate cleanly, please let me know! Because the distance from bottom of crock to serving plate is about 5 inches, the drop seems to happen with a bit of a mess. The outcome is still acceptable (see my picture above) but if you're a perfectionist this will annoy you like crazy.

Tried this recipe? Let me know what you think! I'm currently working on a page for all of my posted Crock Pot recipes. In the meantime, to see what else we've tried please use the search bar at the top of the page and enter "Crock Pot."

If you like this recipe, please Like Holly at Nap Time on Facebook by clicking the link or the "Like" button on the right side of this page.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Send a FREE Halloween Greeting Card from Tiny Prints!

Head on over to Tiny Prints for a FREE Halloween Greeting Card. Simply add Promo Code: AUTUMN11 at checkout once you've picked and created your custom card. Woohoo! As with their past promotions, I do believe a valid credit card is required during checkout - but you will NOT be charged for your FREE card. Also, have the card mailed directly to you or you will have to pay the 44 cents postage.

Not to mention, ALL Halloween Greeting Cards are currently 50% off. Get yours before it's too late. These are a fantastic little treat for Grandparents and party hosts. Enter Promo Code: 50halloween (TODAY is the LAST DAY to use this offer!)

Happy Halloween! :)

Monday, October 17, 2011

We LOVE California Baby Calendula Cream (for toddler AND mom!) {Review}

My daughter is a victim of eczema. As an infant the breakouts were always on her face, and it was just heartbreaking to look at:

Luckily the facial eczema cleared up around 6 months old, and it wasn't until AJ was about 18 months old that she started getting breakouts on her hands, wrists and inner elbows (which unfortunately she's inherited from both her dad and me).

We're still trying to determine what causes the flare-ups (I have my suspicions on tomato based products) but in the meantime, it's important for us to keep her skin as clear and comfortable as possible. The itchiness is sometimes so unbearable for her that she will rub her arms on her sides or another object, like a chair, literally until they bleed.

My own eczema isn't much better. Since becoming pregnant with baby number two my hands have been so much worse, and for the first time I'm even developing eczema on my face, especially around my lips - which is not only ugly but also painful!

I feel like we have tried everything, and the only thing that ever really helps is hydrocortizone cream. This is fine for once in awhile, but I really didn't feel comfortable using a medicated cream all the time, especially on my little one. I started looking online for an answer and I kept coming across reviews for California Baby Calendula Cream that just raved about how well it worked on eczema. Not only that, but it was a natural product from an eco-conscious company that didn't contain any petroleum or other pore clogging bases.

I picked up the 2oz. jar at Target, and saw right on the label, "recommended for eczema & other skin sensitivities." I think this is what sold me, a self-proclaimed healing message right there on the jar.

We went through the 2oz. Caledula Cream pretty quickly and I was back for more. In the last couple of weeks though, I've noticed that California Baby has changed their labels, and that now the Calendula Cream doesn't state anything about eczema at all. This puzzles me, because let me tell you, this product has changed the skin in our household. Wow!!

When we first purchased the Calendula Cream from California Baby, I was applying it to my daughter's dry spots (as well as my own) literally 4-6 times per day. After two or three days, I began to notice a huge difference as we both began to heal. I would say that our eczema is 95% completely healed. This is a truly magical product, and it's organic, natural ingredients make me feel great about using it on my toddler. Not to mention that it doesn't sting or irritate, it smells fantastic, and it rubs on super light and fluffy (not greasy like most creams).

Now that we are mostly healed from our eczema, I generally use the Calendula Cream in the morning and before bed. Throughout the day, after hand washing and during the dry feeling moments, we have started using California Baby Calendula Everyday Lotion. It smells and functions much like the cream, but we've found that it is lighter and tends to last a little longer for general lotion use.

Also, to stay consistent, we have started using the California Baby Calendula Shampoo & Bodywash.

Be sure to "Like" California Baby on Facebook for exclusive coupons and discounts on their products!

Click image to find California Baby Calendula Cream on!

Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with California Baby or their vendors, other than an extremely satisfied consumer of their product. The opinions expressed in this post are my own and may differ from yours.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Crock Pot Chicken Pad Thai

Upon telling my husband that it was his turn to decide on a Crock Pot meal for our family, he came up with a pad thai dish. I couldn't really find any recipes that I was completely sold on, so I started substituting different ingredients and came up with my own version.

*Disclaimer - though super tasty, my husband and I both agreed that the taste to this Crock Pot dish was not quite pad thai. For a more traditional pad thai taste, try replacing the sauce in my recipe. with A Taste of Thai Pad Thai Sauce.*

I would also like to apologize for not having a picture to post with this recipe! By the time I remember, we had already finished off the dish! Oops!

Crock Pot Tasty Thai Dish
3 Large Chicken Breasts
Salt & Pepper - to taste
2 Medium Sweet Potatoes -sliced
1 Medium Yellow Onion - chopped
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Teaspoons Soy Sauce
1-2 Tablespoons Dark Brown Sugar
1 (7)oz Jar of A Taste of Thai Peanut Satay Sauce
1-2 Teaspoons Lemon Juice
1/2 cup chopped, unsalted roasted peanuts
Rice Noodles - as much or as little as you prefer

In your Crock Pot, combine all ingredients except for your peanuts and rice noodles. If you prefer, you can cut up your chicken into bite-sized pieces before adding it. I personally find it easier to cut after it is partially cooked (but don't wait until the very end because the larger pieces won't soak up all the flavor and might seem dry.)

Stir. Let cook on HIGH for 4-5 hours or LOW 7-8 hours.

About 20 minutes before you're ready to eat, add crushed peanuts to Crock Pot and stir. Make rice noodles according to package.

Dish out rice noodles onto serving dishes, and cover with thai crock mixture. Enjoy!!

Though tasty, I should note that the sauce in my recipe should really be replaced with a pad thai sauce for a more authentic pad thai flavoring. My husband and I really enjoyed this dish, though my husband said that it could have been spicier. I think that next time I will add fresh ginger and scallions to this recipe.

If you try it, let me know what you think!!

Stay tuned! Next week for Crock Pot Wednesday I'll be making dessert! Stay tuned for Crock Pot Pecan-Cinnamon Pudding Cake!

More Crock Pot Recipes

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Park Politics - Keep Your Kids Safe on the Playground!

Excuse me for what this is about to become - a rant - but it's one in which I find necessary.

My toddler loves to go to the park. Specifically though, she loves to swing. We often go to the park and I find myself pushing her in the swing for 30+ minutes at a time... which I don't mind. I think it's so satisfying to see how much joy the swing brings her. I know these days won't last for long!

While I'm standing there pushing her, I have plenty of time to look around at what else is happening around the park. And seriously, it worries me. More than once I have seen a group of moms come in and collectively toss their designer purses and diaper bags on a picnic table (which in itself raises a red flag to me - I never leave my bag) and settle down on a circle of benches with their iced lattes, letting their children roam free. This is fine... I often need to sit on a bench while AJ plays, but I never take my eyes off of her, not for a moment.

I should also mention that the park we attend, while deemed "safe" in a suburban environment, is usually packed. At any given time, there are 50-60 little ones running around.

More than once I've heard a mom from the said group of latte drinkers casually get up from the group as they prepare to leave, and start to panic because she cannot find one of her children. The instance that sticks out in my head the most is when out of nowhere a mom screamed, "Oh my gosh, my son! Where is Jack? Jack! Jack!" She began to run around asking people to help her find her son, who ended up being about 50 yards going down a slide. Everyone in the park had their eyes on this woman, and when she found her son it was obvious that he couldn't be more than 16 or 17 months old. Seriously, lady? He could have been picked up and never seen again.

Another time, I witnessed a 10-12 month old crawl over to the edge of the woods and start eating a stick. His mom was about 20 yards away, and when she noticed it was more of a "ha ha" moment than anything else.

The last time we were at the park I was pushing AJ on the kiddie swings next to another mom, who had what I would guess a 2 1/2 year old boy. The mom's cell phone rang, and after proceeding to give her son one more big push, she walked back to the parking lot to take the call, leaving her son in the swing. Immediately the boy started asking for his mommy and to get down from the swing. I told him that his mom would be right back and that he would have to wait for her. I could not believe that she would leave him in the swing! At least the child had a sense that I was a stranger, because when I asked him if he wanted another push on the swing he said only his mommy could push him. By the time the mother returned, he was quite upset and she didn't seem surprised at all. Again, seriously!?

All of these incidents got me thinking - who are these people? I am in a local mom's group myself, but I had never seen anyone take a conversation with another mom more seriously than what their own child was up to. It scares me that there are people out there like this, that act like the world is nothing but safe and the suburbs are perfect. Please, please keep an eye on your children!!

Tips for Keeping Your Little Ones Safe at the Park
1. Don't bring along anything that would prevent you from helping your child climb and crawl and explore without your help. Keep bulky diaper bags locked in the car.
2. Keep early walkers within an arms reach of you at all times. For older kids, 10 feet is a good rule of thumb.
3. If you have more than one child, make a rule that they must stay together at all times so that you can keep an eye on both of them.
4. Remember that no matter how many parents are at the park with their children, it is your responsibilty and your responsibility alone to keep at eye on your children. The CDC reports that over 200,000 playground accidents happen per year that result in emergency care. Most of these accidents can be prevented. Stay alert!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Crock Pot Cashew Chicken

Not Pictured: Soy Sauce
I think that Wednesdays are my new favorite day. With my daughter in school for the morning, I'm able to run errands and get dinner going for Crock Pot Wednesdays, I get to have a brunch date with my husband every other week, and a couple of my favorite TV shows are on in the evening (Modern Family, Up All Night, and The Middle.)

Yesterday's Crock Pot Wednesday recipe comes directly from the Crock-Pot Website: it's Cashew Chicken!
Crock Pot Cashew Chicken:
Ingredients:6 chicken breasts (I used about 3 - 1.5 pounds)
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup chopped green onions (scallions)
1 cup of mushrooms, slice
1 can of Cream of Mushroom Soup (10 3/4 ounces)
1 cup chopped celery
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 cups cashews (about 9oz.) unsalted                    

Combine ingredients in slow cooker. Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or HIGH for 4-5 hours.

Notes:I was really excited for this recipe. I love cashew chicken, and chinese take-out in general - but these days I'm much more cautious about where I order from (many of the places around here are really dirty, and who knows how long the food is sitting before it's put in your hands!)

I used 2 tablespoons of soy sauce instead of 1 1/2 for flavor, and I think it could have even used a little bit more. After cooking for a couple of hours on LOW, the mixture was looking pretty thick, so I also added 1 cup of water.

Once complete, my husband and I really enjoyed the flavor of this dish, however, it was unacceptable to me that the cashews were mushy. (I'm really big on texture.) My husband pointed out that in order to get the cashew flavor into the chicken so well this was probably necessary. However, I enjoy a little bit of cashew crunch. Next time I make this recipe I'm going to try adding 3/4 cup cashew butter to the mixture in the beginning for flavor, and adding 3/4 cup cashews to the crock pot 30-45 minutes towards the end.

Tried this recipe? Let me know what you think!

More Crock Pot Recipes

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Send a FREE Virtual Comfort Package on Facebook and Hanes will donate $1 to The National Breast Cancer Foundation

Since 2009, Hanes has made donations totaling $1 million dollars towards breast cancer charities. Join them this October as they raise awareness and money (up to $25,000) for The National Breast Cancer Foundation through a social media campaign on Facebook.

Now, when you Like Hanes on Facebook, you can follow the Pink tab on their lefthand sidebar to create and send a Virtual Comfort Package. Using their digital tools, these comfort packages include customizable photos, videos, recipes, T-Shirt designs, music and messages. The Virtual Comfort Packages are FREE to send, and for each package sent Hanes will donate $1 to The National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. The money will be used to promote early cancer detection and to pay for mammograms to those in need.  Hanes will donate up to $25,000 in this campaign.

I am personally really excited about this campaign. We know the other initiatives that have been taking place on Facebook to raise awareness to breast cancer - the little games of listing the color of your bra, etc. Though fun and quirky, at the end of the day these games are nothing more than status fillers on Facebook. The participants walk away not knowing anything more than they already did about breast cancer, and they haven't done anything real to help the cause.

Other ways to help spread Breast Cancer Awareness with Hanes on Facebook this month include writing on the Words of Comfort Wall and sharing a message of hope with the world, or a personal story that might help others relate to the situation. Also, when you design and buy a T-Shirt at this month, 10% of the proceeds will benefit The National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.

Take strides and make a real difference this month in the fight against breast cancer!

Disclaimer: This post is through a campaign with my membership in the One2One Network, and I am eligible to win a prize. All opinions in the above post are my own, and may differ from yours.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Life Lessons in Action

It's funny how when you're a young child you assume that your parents know everything, and you live by this comforting fact. And then once you become a parent, you feel like you don't know anything and you live day by day "faking it" until you get it right. Life is a learning process at every stage, clearly.

My husband and I are always trying to better ourselves as parents. I have quite the collection of parenting books, and generally try to read up extensively on a subject before we make our decisions on our own parenting styles. (Seriously - if you need book suggestions for any topic at all, feel free to ask me. Most parenting books you can even get for FREE on Paperback Book Swap.)

One of the greatest parenting resources to us has been the Bible. It may sound very WASP-y of me (as my New York friends would say), but it's absolutely true. The Bible is full of little messages that get us through the day, the week, the "stage" in our child's life.

We're part of a group called Homebuilders at our church, a study/support group meant for Christian families to come together and share experiences and learn from one another. It's really been a blessing to us, especially since Ken and I were invited to join when our daughter was just weeks old.

Right now our group is studying the book The Gospel Centered Family by Tim Chester. Specifically though, how it connects to Ephesians 6: 1-4:

1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3 “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth." 4 Parents, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

The book begs the question, what does it mean to exasperate your children? Not yelling? Not serving up long-winded explanations that will go over their heads? Not overwhelming them with more than they can handle?

Later that evening after our group met I put AJ to bed a little early, telling her that she had to go to sleep because tomorrow was a school day.  That was a mistake. She became outwardly excitable and wouldn't go to sleep. An hour later the playfulness died down as the need for sleep settled in, and she began to cry and cry. "Mommy! Read to me! Daddy! A book, please?" My husband and I kept going in there and laying her back down and telling her to go to sleep. I picked her up and as she was fussing so much that I was afraid she was going to kick my growing belly. "Do NOT kick mommy, be gentle!" I yelled. The more she cried and refused to go to sleep, the more frustrated my husband and I became. "Go to sleep! We are NOT playing now. Stop that! Lay down. Lay down. Lay down."

Finally, two and a half hour later, I couldn't handle it anymore. I went into her room and picked her up. With her blanket we went to the rocking chair, where I gently told her that it was time to go to sleep. I sang her a song and we rocked for about 20 minutes. She didn't fall asleep, but she did calm down to a point where I could put her back in bed.

When I came back downstairs, my husband asked me what happened, and it clicked for me. I said to Ken, "I think we were exasperating her!" Her being over-tired and crying matched with our frustration with the situation was totally bugging her out. Not to mention, I never stopped to think about what a vulnerable time this is for her. I know all those reality TV shows tell parents to toughen up their kids, let them go to sleep crying if they have to. But with her dad and I being obviously frustrated, that could have been scary for her. That could have felt like we were mad at her and that we weren't coming back when that door shut on her. Two year olds, after all, do not have the same reasoning as we do.

The whole situation was a life lesson in action, and a reminder to stop and think about the little things.

Be good to your children. They grow up too fast.