Children

Volunteering at your child’s school. Why is it important?

I always teased her, “What are you doing now?” SHE’S involved in practically everything! Her husband and I have an ongoing joke, “all that’s left is the janitorial position!” Then one day SHE asked me to volunteer at the book fair at the same time SHE was so we could be together and maybe grab some lunch before the kids got out of school. I knew it was time for me to do a little something at my child’s school, so I signed up to volunteer. I never thought that this was going to be a life changer for me. Read on...I’ll tell you why!

 

She looked at me and said “mommy

you’re here!”She was so excited! 

 

We picked the lunch time hour to volunteer. My daughter knew I’d be there. I was excited to see her during school hours but didn’t think too much of it. The bell rang...all the kids flooded into the library. Here came Olivia....running in, arms out and with that sweet beautiful face. She looked at me and said “mommy you’re here!” She was so excited! All her friends ran in after her and gave me hugs too. I just wasn’t expecting all of this. I was the familiar face they needed to see that day. My daughter was on cloud 9...her mommy was there. She went about searching for the best book to buy and kept looking back, probably to make sure I was still there. When it was time to go back to class, she gave me the biggest hug and with tears in her eyes she thanked me for being there but also didn’t want to leave me. By the end of that week, I had volunteered a few more times. I formed a relationship with the office staff, the Liberian and other parents and teachers. By the end of that week, SHE took on the role to run our Book Fair moving forward and appointed me as her co-leader. All of a sudden I was getting fingerprinted to be an official volunteer at my child’s school and I was reading books and helping out my daughters class every other Wednesday!

I mean what is happening? I never thought I’d be “that mom”...like what does that even mean anyways? “That mom?” A mom who is involved in her children’s school life? A mom who is now taking pictures for the class and yearbook, hosting and speaking at her first fundraiser. Oh “that mom” huh?

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Well, I don’t know what came over me but I know it’s all because SHE knew what was best for me the day she dragged me along. 

Who is SHE, you ask? SHE is a mama friend I met when our kids were in kindergarten together. For the last three years, our friendship grew and became stronger. Sometimes I forget it’s only been 3 years! I am most grateful to her for getting me involved even when I fought it. This is probably a good time to ask me why I avoided all of this so much! I mean who really knows why...I just felt like it was just more stuff on my already very full plate. I always just thought those few hours alone without the kids could be some time for myself. Boy was I completely wrong! Oh silly mommy, those days of alone time are far and few these days...

SHE always said “I love volunteering because my kids love seeing me here”. SHE is so right, dang it (Please don’t tell her I said that)! Seeing my child’s face when I walk into her classroom, or surprise her with a big hug on her lunch break. Seeing how her friends react to me being there, the staff and other parents. 

If your schedule allows it, I highly recommend volunteering at your child’s school. If even just for field trips (which you can plan ahead). When I worked full-time, field trips were all I had. I’d do my best to be there for those and Olivia loved every second of it. I know it’s not easy...especially if you work full time, Monday-Friday. I consider myself fortunate because when I did work full time, I worked retail...which meant I could have days off during the week and just work weekends. Now, I work part time and I’m so grateful for that because it allows me more time to be active in my child’s school, something I never got to do before. Quite honestly, I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be working part-time...so I’m making the most of it! 

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Aside from the good vibes my volunteering brings to my children, it also allows me to feel safer and more comfortable with my child’s school. Being involved now allows me to be in the loop, it allows me to be familiar with the staff, fellow moms and people walking in and out of our campus. I’m suddenly recognized now by other students, “Hi Olivia’s Mom” and I’m on a first name basis with the school staff. Next year, Aleena will be in on all of this too! That’s when this might get a little out of hand LOL!  

Being involved also allows me to understand our school better. Who runs things? Where do we get funds from? Who’s pays for this and that? Why is parent support so critical? It allows me to understand the importance as well as appreciate fundraisers and extracurricular activities to raise more funds for our children and our school. It gives me and my children a sense of pride in our school.  

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Do what you can. Do what makes sense for you. Whichever way you can be involved is going to be something special for your child. If you can attend Field Trips, great! If you can  volunteer in the classroom, awesome! Heck, if you can help the teacher by taking some papers home to sort through and staple...do that! No matter how big or small, volunteers are always needed and appreciated. 

 And, lets be honest here? Everything we do, we do for our kids. They might not always tell you directly how much they appreciate it but I can hear it in my child’s voice when she is talking to her friends. She has this sense of ownership and pride when she talks about mom being involved in her school activities. I know deep down inside, it truly means the world to her, even something as simple as stapling some papers for her teacher.

I still want to find balance between my #momlife and my personal life. Many times, mom life exceeds personal life and well...it is what it is right? While SHE wants to tap into as many things as possible, I’m there to rein her in a little bit and when I’m tapped out and want to drop everything I’m involved in, she’s there to remind me why it’s so important. I guess that’s what friends are for, especially when their both moms. We balance each other out...

There SHE is....LOL 😁 

There SHE is....LOL 😁 

Fun Fall Events for the Entire Family

I can’t believe it’s October! My favorite time of the year is here! The cold, crisp air. Big cozy sweaters. The leaves are changing colors and the holidays are near!

It’s time for pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin patches and fall decorations which involve pumpkins! Of course!  

It’s also time for some fun and festive activities with the family to bring in the season! 

I put together a list of events in or near Los Angeles (since that’s where FHL is from) that are popular amongst our family and friends. Enjoy!

Photo Credit: www.billbeaverproject.com and www.kidsguidemagazine.com

1). Calabasas Pumpkin Festival- October 20th & 21st from 10am to 5pm offers tons of fun activities for kids of all ages (and parents too). We’ve experienced this festival a couple times when the kids were younger and it was great. They also provide shuttle service because parking can get a bit crazy, so that is a big help when you are lugging strollers, diaper bags, the kids, etc. Some of the activities include:

  • Contests and Saturday morning costume parade

  • Live band and DJ

  • Rides and Bouncy House

  • Reptile, bugs and nature show

  • Youth Halloween parade

  • Car Shows and exhibits

  • Food, drinks, pumpkin pie and BEER!

  • Jewerly and crafts

  • Face painting and so much more…

Tickets are on sale now for $5 (advance purchase price) at www.calabasaspumpkinfestival.com

2). Underwood Farms Fall Harvest Festival- Open now till October 31st from 9am to 6pm. There is always something to do at the farm. During the harvest festival every weekend has a different theme. Some of those activities and themes include:

  • 1st Responders; Fire Trucks, Ambulances, Police Cars, Swat Members and Bomb Squad…

  • Country music from local country bands in Ventura County

  • Western Weekend; wagon rides, stunt ropers, music and magic

  • All About Pumpkins; live entertainment, decorative pumpkins designed and carved by staff members, a huge selection of pumpkins at the pumpkin patch

Of course all the other events and activities at the farm are always available as well. Fruit and veggie picking, corn mazes and animal shows! Check out their website for details and ticket prices www.underwoodfamilyfarms.com.

3). Oak Glen, Orchards and Farms- 5 mile loop of 30+ ranches, farms and businesses! About a 90 minute drive from Los Angeles, but this one comes highly recommended by some of our closest friends. We will be adding this to our Must See list this fall season! Oak Glen is the perfect place to escape to when you want that cold crisp air with some of the most beautiful spots to see. During the fall season it offers:

  • Apple, raspberries and pumpkin picking

  • Make your own cider (yum!)

  • Country music, dancing and dinner (sounds like my kind of party)

  • Beautiful hiking trails and historic museums

  • Horse drawn wagon rides and so much more!

Oak Glen gives you that good ol’ wholesome family fun! Sounds amazing to me! Check out their website for more details www.oakglen.net

Photo Credit: www.latimes.com and www.highlighthollywood.com

4). Los Angeles Zoo Lights- Begins November 16th-January 6th from 6pm to10pm

This is one you might want to purchase and save for Christmas because on select dates Santa and his reindeer are there to visit! It sells out fast and is absolutely amazing to see. We went a couple of years ago and the kids loved it. We brought our own thermos of hot chocolate, bundled up and enjoyed the beautiful lights under the stars. Imagine giant illuminated snowflakes, a disco ball forest, colorful and whimsical animated elephants and swirls of colors everywhere! This is a definite must see! Go to their website for tickets and detailed info www.lazoolights.org.

Photo Credit: www.localparent.com

5). Kidspace Children’s Museum Pumpkin Festival- Who doesn’t love Kidspace? Did you know they host a pumpkin festival at the park right in front? I didn’t! But I do now and its been added to the Must See list!

  • Petting zoo, pony rides, bouncers and carnival games

  • Costume parade, face painting and seasonal crafts

  • Pumpkin patch and picnic treats

Entrance is free, tickets can be purchased to enjoy activities and food! Check out their website for all other information www.kidspacemuseum.org.

There it is folks! Some of my favorites and a couple of new places for me to check out too! Hope this list helps in creating fun memories and traditions with your family. Any fun and memorable events you know of? I’d love to hear about it in the comment section, down below. We’re always looking for new things to do with the kids.

Have a great day. Talk to you next week!

XoXo!

To My First Born Child...

I took a picture of you today, you were helping dad work on his car and I asked you to smile for me. You posed for the picture like you’re a pro at this! That photo took my breath away. I realized (after staring at the picture 20 times) that my once baby girl was now a beautiful young lady. I guess I never noticed it before, in my eyes I will always see that sweet blonde little baby laughing and giggling with me. Sucking her thumb when she was exhausted. Wanting to sleep next to me first before being put in bed. I will always see my first born, my first love, the one who made me a mother. I will always remember leaving the hospital without a clue…but somehow figuring it out with you. You were my trial and error. You were my mistakes and my biggest accomplishments. You were and are everything I am today.

To my first born,

With you I learned the most about myself. I learned how strong I was even when I was beyond exhausted. I found emotions within myself I never knew I had. I felt love, fear, sadness and happiness all at the same time. I learned what unconditional love meant. My love for you made my love for your father grow deeper. The way he looked at you, made me fall in love with him all over again.

When you were sick, I was sick with you. When you were sad, my heart broke into a million pieces. Oh but when you’d smile at me….that beautiful big smile of yours, you will always be a ray of light.

Sweet child of mine, the day we made you an older sister…I knew you’d be a good one but I never knew you’d take your new role so seriously. You fed her, you rocked her, you watched her grow. You sang to her and told her stories. You POTTY TRAINED her!

In a blink of an eye this cuddly, affectionate little girl has become a determined, funny, Miss Know-it-All. Sometimes you give me a glimpse into the future, you ten years older and me pulling my hair out!

As I look at the photo of you AGAIN, I notice that same baby-face looking back at me, telling me that everything will be just fine. All the worries I once had for you, you’ve surpassed with flying colors. Now, I know my worries and sleepless nights will forever continue…but I will take it a day at a time. I will savor every second with you and your sister. I will take more pictures and capture these memories because it all passes so quickly.

I want you to know just how proud I am of you. You’re creative and caring. Your energetic and smart. You’re hilarious and stubborn. I love everything about you even when you’re being dramatic and sassy and you talk way too much! I love that you are motherly and loving. I love that you love to read! Honestly, you’re just a mini me and everyone knows that!

I want to thank you for all that you have given me. Everything I have learned and continue to learn. I also want to apologize because I made mistakes and I made them with you. You are my first born, my first time for everything. You paved the way for your sister.

Always remember that I always had the best of intentions and I gave you all of me, every single time and I will continue to do that.

Olivia FAITH, the day you came into the world, changed my life forever. I wish I could freeze time and keep you and your sister little forever.

I want you to continue to love wholeheartedly. Always say your prayers and put God first. Be kind and stay humble. Continue teaching your sister everything you know, minus the eye-rolling please! Be the best version of yourself and chase those dreams!

I love you beyond words little one. You will always be my first. You will always be the one who made me a mother.

With All My Heart,

MaMa