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6 Toys From the 90s I'd Buy My Five-Year-Old

Tonight I found myself stuck in the spiral of reading Buzzfeed articles way past bedtime as I waited for Em to finally give in and go to bed, and I stumbled across a 90s toy list. A lot of the toys on there were things that I didn't really remember all that much from my childhood, but it made be think of the toys that I did have, and what I would be excited for Jay and Em to play with if we had them in our house today. Jay's fifth birthday is coming up in a few months, and there is now a large part of me that wants to do a 90s throw back theme for his gifts this year. 

1. Fisher Price Great Adventures Castle: I remember my brother having this in his bedroom for years and playing it all the time. It's one of those staple toys that I vividly remember from my childhood, and I know Jay would love it just as much as my brother did. 

2. Playskool Color Changing Flashlight: This toy was so old! I had two older siblings who were born in the early 80s, and I'm pretty sure this flashlight originally belonged to one of them. It made it's way down to me eventually and I remember using it all the time. The best part was the knob on the side that let you change the flash light color to red and green!

3. Fisher Price Adjustable Roller Skates: If you were born in the 90s and your childhood did not involve these, then I just don't even know what to say. 

4. Tupperware Tuppertoys Stencils: I had honestly forgotten all about these until I'd seen them on one of Ellie and Jared's youtube videos a few weeks ago, and then remembered that we had TONS of these growing up. I definitely want to order some off of Ebay for Jay's birthday because I know he will totally be obsessed with them. 

5. Playskool Sit n Spin: I don't think we actually had one of these in our house growing up (my mom was the cautious, didn't want us to break a bone type... and actually out of four kids, I'm the only one who even came close with a sprained finger, that's good parenting luck right there), but I remember playing on them at school, or in gym class and they were so fun! For some reason I picture Em having the time of her life on this. 

6. Vtech Little Talking Scholar: I almost lost my poop when I found this. My brother and I had this at my grandma's house and played on it all the time for years. There was a bottom compartment that held these 25 game cards, and you inserted a car into the computer screen, and then you could play different reading, math, color, shapes, and even "piano" games on there. Please tell me someone else had this too so we can bask in 90s nostalgia together? 

What toys do you remember from your childhood? I'd love for you to tell me in the comments below!

A Powerful Lesson About Forgiveness| Jay's Expirience with Transient Synovitis

Last week our Monday morning started off like any other Monday. I got the kids breakfast, bathed them, and then we headed into town to run several errands. We stopped at the goodwill donation center, headed to Ross to get some new toys for Kinsley for another week of at home PT, and then we headed to Aldi to get our groceries for the week.

When we got home and got everything put away, Jay and I started playing a board game with one another. While playing the game he was sitting on his legs and then commented that his leg was hurting. I didn't think much of it and told him to stop sitting on his legs. After the game I fed the kids lunch, got them down for naps and quiet time, and then when I got my work done, we all went to run an errand at the post office. 

When we were walking into the post office I remember Jay mentioning that his leg was hurting again, and then realized he was limping on his right leg. The rest of the evening up until bedtime he limped around the house, but otherwise he was pretty happy. 

Tuesday morning when he woke up, he was screaming in his bed, saying that his leg hurt and that he could not walk. When asked where the pain was, he told me it was in his knee and when I tried and forced him to walk, he would just collapse on the floor and cry.

We took him to urgent care to get an x-ray and I was pretty unimpressed with the doctor that we saw. I told him that his knee is what was bothering him and he was super reluctant to do an x-ray at all, but then finally did one, and said that it showed nothing was wrong with him and that my next step would be to take him to another pediatric urgent care. 

I was livid because I wasn't going to leave one urgent care, just to go to another one. If I  was seeing another doctor I wanted to make the best decision and go to the one that was going to give us an exact answer. After talking to a friend on the phone and talking through all my thoughts and options with her, it struck me that I should call Em's former PT since she would likely know what to do. So I called, she told me he needed to get in to see a pediatric orthopedic as soon as possible, and emailed me a list of options. 

I called the doctor, and they got us an appointment for the following morning. Meanwhile I decided to reach out to friends on Facebook, Instagram, etc... to see if anyone had any experience with what this might be. A lot of people gave me ideas of what it could be... pinched nerves and growing pains were among the more common answers. Then a friend of mine from high school who is about to graduate medical school reached out to me and offered to help if I wanted. 

This is where the lesson in forgiveness comes in. I was horrible to this guy in high school. He was easily the nicest and smartest person in our graduating class... (I technically don't remember if he was actually valedictorian or anything... but definitely top 10). Anyways, I went through some rough patches in high school where I had really amazing friends and then through a series of events I would so something dumb like lie, or hurt someones feelings, or just be super immature, and by the end of high school I only had a small handful of people that would remotely tolerate me. I was kind of awful, and it's one of those things in adulthood that haunts me now. 

Anyways, so this guy that reached out to me, he and I were pretty good friends, and then I was horrible to him, and we basically haven't really spoken in about 10 years. And here he is messaging me at 10 o' clock a night trying to help me figure out what is wrong with my child to give me a little peace of mind over the situation. He helped give me a little list of things to talk to the doctor about in the morning when we went in, and was just so nice and helpful. It was such a great reminder to me to be kind. He had every right to just read my status about Jay and his problem, roll his eyes at me, and scroll on, but instead he decided to help me and look past the ways that I was rude to him so many years ago. I'm grateful that he reached out, and that I was able to also personally apologize for my high school behavior, and that it's a fresh slate again. It was a great reminder of the quote, "We will receive the joy of forgiveness in our own lives when we are willing to extend that joy freely to others."

The story ends with me taking Jay into the pediatric orthopedic the next morning where they did a hip x-ray because typically in children if they're complaining of knee pain, the pain is usually displaced from the hip. They saw nothing was anatomically wrong with his hip and that he had full range of motion. They said that a virus had settled into the hip joint causing the temporary immobility. Jay was been able to walk with a limp that entire day(Wednesday), and by Friday you would never have known anything was wrong. We were so worried about this entire thing, because when kids suddenly stop walking, it can be a sign of a much more serious illness, but luckily it was just a minor case of transient synovitis, and for that, we're grateful.

Getting the Kids Spring and Summer Ready

This post is sponsored by Everywhere Agency on behalf of OshKosh B'Gosh; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. 

Right now the weather in Georgia is in the midst of that awkward transitional phase where it's freezing cold one day, and scorching hot the next. This means we've had to hustle the last couple weeks to make sure the kids were well equipped with clothes for the summertime since we know it's fast approaching. 

When the warm weather ended last year I carefully stowed away the kids clothes in hopes of being able to reuse some of them this summer. There were a few pieces that still fit Jay and Em, but I found myself emptying out most of their drawers, and needing to do a complete overhaul... mostly for Em.

She hasn't really grown much in the last year. She's been wearing size 2T clothes for almost 18 months now. Since she still kept fitting in her clothes, we didn't really buy new ones, and as I was going through her things a couple weeks ago, I realized that most of her clothes were completely trashed. 

It's hard buying things for Em because she is so thin, most pants usually fall right off her. I love that OshKosh's shorts have the adjustable waist bands so that I can customize them to fit her little hips. She loves it because it gives her the freedom to crawl and play in the grass all summer long without her pants falling off. 

Jay didn't need a ton of new clothes, mostly just filling in the gaps with a couple new t-shirts, and some shorts. One area he needed a boost in though was his church clothes. He has gone through quite a growth spurt the last few weeks, and his church shirts were barely covering his belly button. I got him a few new button downs, and really love the pink one that he picked out the most. 

Jay loves wearing button downs all the time, not just at church, and I love that the fabric of these ones are light enough that he can play to his hearts content without getting overly hot and sweaty. He loves dressing like a little southern gentleman, and Oshkosh has a ton of adorable pieces right now to help him out. 

Be sure to head on over to OshKosh's Facebook page between 4/10/17-4/16/17 where they will giving away gift cards for you to snag some of your favorite Easter oufitting for little ones! Right now you can also get 25% off your $40+ purchase when you use code OKBG3270 at checkout or code 036602 in stores. 

An Embarrassing Habit Exposed

Somewhere around fifth grade or so, my mom bought me some deodorant. I don't think I actually really needed it, but it's just kind of one of those rights of passage things that all kids go through at that age. For some reason, I could never get in the habit of applying deodorant everyday, and went most of my life without it.

I was really active in high school. In ninth grade I played varsity tennis, club soccer, freshman cheerleading, and ran indoor and outdoor track in the winter and spring. Being as active as I was, I still never got in the habit of applying deodorant because practices were always after school, and I would go home and shower right after anyways.

Fast forward ten years later, I still never really wore deodorant, but had Derek luckily to confirm to me that I never really had body odor that merited the necessity for deodorant. That's been the major reason why I've never worn it. For whatever reason, my body just doesn't produce an odor that needs covering.

A few weeks ago though I was at Target and saw their large selection of Dove Advanced Care Deodorant and all the amazing scents they had when a large idea dawned on me. I may not have an odor that needs covering, but why not where deodorant enhance myself, and make myself smell like something refreshing, instead of absolutely nothing.

I picked up a couple of the "cool essentials" scent and was amazed by how much of a difference adding a fresh scent each day can make! Derek even came home one day and said, "hmm... you smell nice." Proof to the pudding that there is something to this entire deodorant thing after all.

When I get super excited about a new product, I typically like to shout it from the rooftops and tell everyone I know about it. I recently shared a tube to my friend Sarah who is an avid deodorant user, and she said, "Yeah it smells great, but I love how fresh my underarms still feel at the end of the day even more!" She was probably more excited about upgrading her deodorant even more than I was about just adding it to my daily routine.

With summer right around the corner, I'm glad that Dove Advanced Care Antiperspirant offers 48 hours of odor and wetness protection plus added skincare benefits with Dove ¼ moisturizers and NutriumMoisture for softer, smoother underarms. With summer right around the corner, I'm glad that I'll smell, and feel fresh all summer long thanks to Dove Advanced Care. 

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Why We Needed North Carolina

This last weekend I had the opportunity to go to Myrtle Beach for a girls weekend with some of my friends from North Carolina. It was such a fun, and well needed break, especially since Derek had been late from work every night the previous week, and was leaving for a business trip this week, it was a great refresher to help get my energy up. I loved North Carolina for a lot of reasons, but I mostly fell in love with the people. I had so many friends between the two places we lived there, and every single one of them are spiritual giants in my life. I feel like I've gained so much from the relationships that I formed there, and I feel like each of those women have given me so many parenting gems that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

While I was on my girls trip and talking to these ladies I kept thinking, why did Heavenly Father move us away from these people? And if He was just going to take them all away, why did we even need to be there in the first place? I just mentioned that one reason is that the women were all spiritual giants for me, and have greatly impacted the way I want to raise my children, but I think that there was another, very critical reason as well. 

When we first moved to Durham, NC, Derek had just barely started his undergrad, and had gotten a job working for Netapp, so we moved and worked there while Derek finished his undergrad online. Our entire plan was work for a few years, finish the undergrad, and then get a job and be done with school. 

But then when we were living in Durham, our entire church congregation was full of young families like Derek and I. The only difference is that 90% of them were either Duke or UNC Chapel Hill students, who were pursuing very rigorous degree programs. They ranged from MBA's and various master degrees, all the way up to med school, residencies, and PhD programs. The entire time we were in the ward, Derek and I thought, "good for you, but not for us." We respected and admired what our friends were doing, but since Derek was just barely starting his undergrad, the idea of more school seemed unpleasant. 

Then we moved to Cary, NC and it opened our eyes a lot. Cary is not a college town by any means. In fact, its a town filled with a lot of very wealthy families who are climbing the career ladder in a wide range of professions. Most of the families that we went to church with in Cary were established families who had the houses we one day wanted, the cars we one day wanted, and the family life that we hoped to have at some point. 

Over the year we lived there, we learned that 90% of these families got to where they were because of grad school. Derek and I quickly learned that in order to reach that level of success that we one day hoped to have, we would have to put the time in now, and do graduate school. So when he finished his undergrad degree in December of 2014, we started applying for jobs all over the country, knowing that in about a year, Derek would start an MBA online, while working full time in his new job. 

Here we are, just two years after moving to Georgia, and Derek's MBA is almost done. We never waited the year to start the MBA, and dived in head first shortly after getting here. Derek's MBA has already blessed our lives so much in his current role, and in future opportunities to come. I'm grateful that we were able to witness both sides of the grad school life. The side of being the poor families that are barely getting by, to the product of what happens to families just eight years after making that commitment. I think it's safe to say we'll always be grateful for the lessons of humility and endurance that we learned while living in North Carolina, and they are lessons that will bless our family the rest of our life. 

Why We Discharged Em From PT

As you may know from the title of this post, we made the decision to discharge Em from PT last week. We're only taking a few weeks off while we get signed up for the program from the county, but it feels like a monumental thing in our life that is worth documenting. 

When we started with PT Derek and I agreed that we would go through the local children's hospital for Em's PT services since that was and still is the biggest obstacle in Em's life. I was of the mindset that she deserved to go to the best of the best for her therapist and that no other therapist would compare to the quality that we would get going through CHOA. 

I first met our therapist when Em was about nine months old, I loved her instantly, and I really still do. (Actually that's been the hardest part about leaving is losing her therapist because I love her SO MUCH). She's been a PT for a long time and has worked a lot with children just like Em with similar congenital problems, and spinal cord injuries. She was very quick to tell us that there was no doubt in her mind that Em would walk, and after a few sessions, told us that she would be sitting unsupported by October of 2015, and pulling to stand by January of 2016.

As many of you know, those dates came and went, and those milestones didn't happen. I wasn't upset with our therapist at all because I know she can't play God, and a lot of it is on Em's own timing with everything. We still kept going to therapy each week though because we were convinced that our PT was the only one who could help her. 

Over the summer it was brought to our attention that Em was significantly delayed in her fine motor skills as well, and we decided to give the county's free therapy services a try for OT because the need still wasn't as great as PT and we honestly didn't have the money to shell out for another service. Our OT came to our house a few weeks later and he was not what I would ever have expected our pediatric OT to be. So when this big 58 year scruffy looking man claiming to be the pediatric occupational therapist from the county showed up on my door step one afternoon, I had a raised eyebrow and 50 questions running through my mind, but I let him in. 

He has turned out to be one of the biggest blessings in our lives. He has this magic about him that can get Em to do absolutely anything. When he comes through the door, Em shrieks his name with glee and is anxious to see what he's brought to play with her each week. From the second week he was with us, he got Em to sit unsupported on stool, and has transitioned her to less and less support over the last few months to where she can now sit for up to 90 minutes at a time. 

It quickly became clear to me that our current PT was not the only one who could make a positive impact in Em's life. So over the course of a month or so I started weighing all the pros and cons of our current PT situation and came to a few conclusions. One, the money that we were spending on PT each month was coming at a great sacrifice to our family. The monthly bill was more than our mortgage payment which we could not afford from Derek's salary, which meant that all money I hustled out of this blog was basically going straight to therapy. Which is fine, but we also want to retire one day, so a savings account would be great. Also, I wouldn't mind spending the money if Em was hitting milestones left and right, but to spend that money for 18 months and just barely check sitting off the list, it seemed like switching to the free PT through the county couldn't be any worse. 

Second was the commute. When we moved, it put us about 20 miles from our PT clinic and our appointments are at 9am every Thursday. That meant navigating through the crazy Atlanta rush hour was inevitable. The town that we live in is basically a commuter town. Meaning that all the people who live where we live commute to Atlanta, or the neighboring cities each day and the traffic is intense. Bless my husband who makes that drive every morning without complaint. Bless him. 

The third and last reason we decided to make the switch was because I was just plain burnt out. I was burnt out on Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, burnt out on commuting, burnt out on spending all this money. It also got to the point where we'd missed so many days due to Jay and Em being sick, or Derek's car not working, and random things like that, and I got this taste of what it was like to not drive all the way to therapy each week that when it came time to actually go again last week, I just couldn't bring myself to do it. 

So I called the office and left a voicemail saying that we were switching to the county program, our PT emailed me and said she would mail us our records, and that was it. I went to the store on Monday and bought a bunch of new toys for Em so that we could have new things to interest her with. We're working on lots of things at home while we wait for the new PT to get lined up, and I'm ready to see where the rest of this PT journey takes us. Also looking forward to when preschool starts in August and all of this is done at school and I don't have to worry about it anymore, although I'm sure I still will. 

Making Another Large Family Purchase

This post is sponsored by Kelley Blue Book and the Mom it Forward Influencer Network, but all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Many of you may know that Derek drives a very old 1992 Geo Prism. That car was a miracle in our lives right when we needed it the most. When we moved from Utah to North Carolina, we sold Derek's car to his dad and only took my 2004 Honda Civic with us. It was an amazing, reliable car, and it will always be my favorite car that I ever owned.

After driving it across the country though, it needed a lot of maintenance. I don't remember specifics anymore, but it needed repairs of upwards of $1,000 and Derek and I decided that our best option would be to look for another car. The dealership gave us $4,000 for the Honda on a trade-in, and we got a year old Ford Escape and financed the remaining balance. 

When I was pregnant for Em, we quickly learned that one car wasn't going to make it for us anymore. We "knew" that she was going to spend a lot of time in the NICU and we didn't know how we were going to juggle getting Derek to and from work, Jay to a babysitter each day, and then me 20 miles over to the hospital to be with Em each day, all with one car. It seemed like the only option was to buy another car, although we knew we simply couldn't afford it. 

Then one day at church, a friend pulled us aside (completely unaware of our situation), and asked Derek, "How much pride do you have?" to which Derek responded, "eh, not much...". Our friend then went on to say that he and his family were moving back to Utah, and that they had this 1992 Geo Prism that they didn't want, and that if we wanted it, it was ours for free. It was seriously the biggest blessing and miracle. A second car, right when we thought we needed it the most.

As many of you know, Em wound up being in the hospital for only 32 hours after she was born, and we were discharged right away, and all these circumstances of needing this car wound up not even being a thing for us, but we've loved having that car the last three years, and not needing to share the Escape on a daily basis. 

For a car that we got for free, is super old, smelly, and has a bunch of dead bees stuck in the back windshield that we can't get with the vacuum, we've spent a whopping $15 fixing it the last three years. One of Derek's tires went flat a year and a half ago, so he put the donut on it, and another tire needed repairs last week (which is where that $15 went), and the donut has been holding up on his 80 minute round trip commute since we moved in June. It seriously is the epitome of "Old Faithful". 

As the saying goes though, "all good things must end". Since we live in the Atlanta area, and it gets incredibly hot here in the summer, Derek claims that he will in fact die if he has to commute to work again this summer in a car without AC. I don't blame him. Since he got a promotion this year, we're in a position where we can afford another car payment (and mine is almost paid off anyways), and we figure now is as good of a time as any to invest in a new car, pass this one along, and let it be a miracle to another family that needs it.

When looking for new cars to purchase, my family growing up always used Kelley Blue Book, the vehicle valuation and information source trusted and relied upon by both consumers and the automotive industry. My dad is a very frugal man, and I remember him sitting at the computer for hours when I was younger estimating car prices and values with Kelley Blue Book when he and my mom were both in the market for new cars one year. And when I turned 16 I spent a majority of my life looking up car values and negotiating with my parents which one I thought they should let me get (which turned out to be nothing, nada, zilch). 

Now that Derek and I are in the market to invest in a new car, we really want to make the most informed decision that we can. That's why we've spent a lot of time on KBB.com looking through Kelley Blue Book's 12 Best Family Cars of 2017 list to see which ones peak our interests the most. One thing that I love about KBB.com is that their editors, and their families, have actually driven these cars and tested them out themselves, so they truly know what it's like to be in each car, and even give you the pros and cons for each vehicle on their list. I also love that they have a car seat guide so you know which cars are better equipped for them than others.

We still don't know which car we're going to spring for. I'm voting that we get another Escape so that Derek and I can be the cheesy couple with matching cars, but he really wants a pick-up, or another sedan. But one thing I do know is that we have KBB.com to help us make the best decision possible for our family.