Hey, Mom and Dad- It’s not your fault.

By: Taylor Arellano

I was a brand new Mom with a sweet little newborn boy. He was the center of my whole world, my iPhone was filled with nothing but pictures of him throughout every part of our day no matter how insignificant. I lived and breathed for every involuntary smile, coo, and wiggle.

Like any new Mom, I spammed my Facebook news feed with pictures of my new baby all day, every day. I was so proud of this little life Zach and I had brought into the world, and I wanted to share his never ending cuteness (no matter how insignificant the photo really was) with the whole world.

So, the day I received a Facebook message in regards to a picture I posted of a photo of my then 2 month old son still makes me question myself to this day…

I had just started my transition out of the Military and was home often by myself with Isaac. Being a brand new, young Mom I was learning how to balance home chores with trying to feed and please a newborn, as well as apply for new jobs, buy a new home, and more. These days were absolutely crazy to say the least.

One day, Isaac was especially fussy, and I distinctly remember it was a day where I needed to be on the phone to talk to the lenders for the home we were purchasing. Wondering if it would work, I turned on a quiet T.V. Channel and placed Isaac in his bouncer in front of the T.V. Stand to occupy him while I was on the phone. To my surprise, it worked, and I actually thought it was cute that my 2 month old was so entertained by a completely random T.V. show, so of course I snapped a pic and uploaded it to Facebook thinking how cute it was that my newborn was just lounging around watching a morning talk show.

It wasn’t but a couple hours later that I signed into Facebook to find a private message from an old High School classmate that I had not even remembered speaking to in at least 8 years. But what was even more shocking, was the context of her message.

In short, the message basically read that she was attending College to be an early childhood educator, and she wanted to advise me that letting young children watch television was extremely damaging to their development and that my “adorable son”  (Yeah, she tried to bring me a up a little before she kicked me down) could actually end up with a speech delay or other cognitive disabilities. There was a lot more detail and degrading comments in her message, but I will spare you those.

Immediately, I felt awful. I was a brand new Mom, I had no idea what I was doing. Was that hour of T.V. going to damage his ability to speak in a couple of years? When is he allowed to start watching T.V.? Why do they even make those baby shows? The questions in my head were endless, but I knew that I did not want to ask this “friend” the answers to these questions because I felt degraded and dumb.

Fast forward 18 months later. Isaac is diagnosed as Speech Delayed.

If you don’t think that message from my former classmate popped into my head, think again.

Zach and I were sad, we were worried, we felt so bad. Did we do something wrong? Were we failing Isaac in his development? We by no means used the T.V. as a babysitter, we played outside with him, we played games with him, we read books. Was this still somehow our fault?

The short answer to those questions- NO.

We were assured by our pediatrician, speech therapists, hearing evaluation specialists and more that THESE THINGS HAPPEN. We were good parents.

I am a believer in science and medicine, I am a Nursing Student myself, and I know there is a clinical basis for almost everything. I know that there are predisposing factors for illnesses, developmental delays, etc.

…But I also know that I am a good Mom. Zach is an amazing Dad. Our Son is a healthy and curious little boy, and his speech development is a work in progress that we see improvements in DAILY. We are doing our best as parents, and Isaac is doing his best too.

It took a long time for me to stop blaming myself. I would think back on the message from my old classmate and wonder if this was my fault. If the occasional Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episode made my little boy incapable of speaking at an age appropriate level. If I should have taken our T.V. and completely left it in the garage for 3 years since according to an early education STUDENT ” a child should see no T.V. until age 3″.

I need to add that I am in no way trying to discredit the knowledge of this person. I am sure she knew a lot about the subject. I also understand that television and other factors do have significant effects on a child’s development. That is not the point here though.

I wondered if that classmate (who had no children) knew what it was like to be so burnt out from being home with an 11 month old for 7 days straight and had 1 shower in that time frame- knew what it was like to just need 30 minutes of quiet so she could be a better Mom.

In addition to understanding that we cannot blame ourselves, we also need to think about how our words may affect another parent. Whenever I feel like I have a piece of advice for another parent, I stop first. I think about how I felt when I got that Facebook message.

Is saying this going to make them feel inferior in their parenting skills and decisions? Is saying this going to be helpful? Am I going to make him/her feel like they have done something wrong? Am I stealing this Mom’s joy right now?

OF COURSE- if a child’s safety or well-being is in danger, there are appropriate ways to intervene. But unless you have A LOT and I mean A LOT of probable cause to think someone is really affecting their child’s well-being, we have to think twice before we hand out unsolicited advice to parents.

The words of someone completely insignificant to my family’s life had a lasting impact on me.

Be a good friend. Be a good fellow parent. But be considerate.

And to my fellow Mom’s and Dad’s with a child who may be needing some extra help in one or more areas of development, hang in there. Progress comes with time, and I know very well how the wait for signs of progress can seem like ages. Be gentle on yourself, and on your child. The first time they call you “Mama” or “Dada” with true recognition and affiliation with the word, you will cry. That first “I love you” will make your heart burst, and it is so worth the wait.

 

 

 

Advertisements

My Breastfeeding Journey…

 By Jennifer Stroble

At some point in raising their child, every parent has wished they came with a manual. Don’t try to deny it. The next best thing to a manual is a tribe or support system. The kind of people that won’t judge you for wanting wine at 10:00 am, because your child cried for two hours after you gave him the wrong colored cup at lunch time. These type of people are there to lift your spirits during troubling times, and generally make your life more enjoyable.

I found my tribe, also known as my mom’s group; when my oldest son, Keagan, was just shy of a year old. They have since kept me sane in times I thought I needed to go to a loony bin. I needed them most when Oliver, my last baby was born in September. That’s when all hell broke loose in my life.

Seven months ago, I had no idea what  was in store for my son and I. We endured a whirlwind of ups and downs. We’ve overcome jaundice, torticollis, and hospitalization for bronchiolitis. Although, nothing will compare to my current struggle: breastfeeding.

Throughout my entire pregnancy I told myself, and anyone who’d listen, that I’d breastfeed exclusively for a minimum of one year. My breastfeeding journey with his older brother came to a halt after three weeks due to illness and a less than ideal support system. I was determined to have better success this time around at providing my son’s nutrition, and having those special bonding moments with him.

My inner circle of friends tried to prepare me for my journey ahead. They tried to teach me that there would be many struggles, and that breastfeeding wasn’t going to be easy. It’s something you have to constantly work towards, but in the end would be worth every frustration. Some mothers have struggles latching or dealing with reflux, forceful letdowns, clogged milk ducts, and more. Not to mention, the sleepless nights and insatiable hunger.

However, none of them could prepare me for what I was about to withstand.

Oliver was born September 17th, 2015. Those first few moments were a blur. I remember crying from overwhelming amount of joy that he was here, and being in pure bliss with my baby boy. By the time I was discharged from the hospital 36 hours later, those tears had turned dark. I was beyond sleep deprived because my sleep cycle only occurred once every 30 minutes, if I was lucky. Trying to feed my child was becoming a nightmare the more I tried.

DSC_2126_1

Oliver was miserable. He’d cry nonstop, nothing would calm him.  I was told by the doctor that he may have a tongue tie and to get it evaluated. I found myself at Dr. Sierra’s office, in Tampa,  the following day for a free consultation. As it would turn out, he had the “most obvious” lip AND tongue tie that Dr. Sierra had ever seen. He encouraged me to feed him right after the lip and tongue tie revision, to help comfort him. I noticed a difference almost immediately. It no longer hurt as badly to feed him, and a weight had been lifted.

I battled with everything my friends warned me about: the sleepless nights, the hunger, the never ending nursing sessions and more. One thing nobody had warned me about though, was food intolerance and other food sensitivities while breastfeeding. If I ate something that the baby didn’t digest well, how would I know? Would he grow horns? Cry like he’s dying? Would he bleed? Get rashes? I had no clue. I had limited knowledge with food intolerance.

At six weeks old, I was proud to have made it that long, still being his source of nutrition. After all, it was an important milestone. Most mothers give up within the first six weeks. In that time though, Oliver had always had diarrhea, and it was almost always green. It would range from neon, to ninja turtle green. He was severely moody, spitting up, gassy, and just over all unpleasant. The doctors suggested I go dairy free.

Goodbye, ice cream. Farewell, cheese. See you later, yogurt. Smell you later, baked goods.

I found myself crying during most feeding sessions. After all, it was my milk that made his tummy so upset. I was doing my best, but it just didn’t feel good enough at that moment. His pediatrician and the lactation consultants at Baby Café, said it could take upwards of another six weeks before I saw a drastic improvement in his stools and overall attitude.

As time went by, I was second guessing myself more, and more. I’d think to myself, am I eating the wrong stuff? Am I over-thinking his poop? Could there be another cause? I was feeling so out of my element. At his three month check-up, they still found microscopic traces of blood in his diarrhea. I was told to eliminate soy as well as dairy. The world of processed foods had instantly vanished. No more late night munchies of Oreos and milk, or quick take out from our favorite fast food joint. Convenience was a luxury, and I no longer had it.

I went another six weeks of trial and error. At this point, Ollie is now 4½ months old. I had become what I would consider a master at examining infant poop. This is not a title I’d want on my resume. My silver lining was that he was noticeably happier on a day to day basis. Other than his runny number twos, he was a perfectly happy and healthy baby. He was gaining a slow but steady amount of weight, which was the only thing keeping the doctors (and myself) happy.

I hit a rock wall, as I knew there was still something wrong with my baby.  I was begging and pleading for answers. No one could tell me why he had diarrhea. I was fed up with his pediatrician. They told me to start solids and/or formula, even though I told them I want to exclusively feed him myself, and those were not currently an option for me. I begged for a GI specialist referral. I was referred to Dr. Izizarry in Brandon. She gave me three options: start solids, start a total elimination diet, or give formula.

Friends and family thought I was nuts. Who in their right mind would give up everything just to breastfeed their child? They tried to comfort me, and continue to support my decisions regardless of what I chose. After crying for what felt like forever, I went home and did my research on what foods I could do during a total elimination diet. I was determined to reach my goal, and to never give up. In the end, I felt that if I couldn’t make things right within my diet, how was a container of formula supposed to help? My milk was made especially for him.

I went approximately another six weeks slowly introducing one thing after another back into his diet. I hit numerous stand still periods, but continued forward. I brought back eggs, nuts, and wheat into my diet aside from my “safe” proteins and produce.

I saw only one improvement. He went from 10+ poops a day, to 3-5 a day.

I cried. I felt lost. I had given up everything, living off of lamb and veggies. Everyone around me could tell I was unraveling and continued to push formula on me. I knew they all had very good intentions, but I still resisted.

Last month, it came back that his older brother Keagan had mild allergies to cow’s milk, peanuts, eggs, and wheat. I decided that since we were still struggling to find the culprit for his digestion issues, that we’d resume a normal diet and only avoid his brother’s allergies, with the exception of soy.

I’m happy to announce, that even though I’m still clueless as to what has been causing mayhem on my baby’s belly, he’s doing much better. He’s gone roughly a month free of wheat, peanuts, eggs, dairy and soy. He has had normal bowel movements in this time frame, as well.

Due to my determination, and overly supportive group of friends, I’ve managed to stay on track. There’s now a light at the end of my tunnel, and I hope to make my goal of one year.
RMP_5590

If I had struggled in silence, I likely wouldn’t have made it to my first six week milestone, let alone my six month milestone. Take it from me, find your support system to carry you through your struggles and keep you sane. I’ve had a large network of like-minded mothers to guide me through my journey thus far, and family to comfort me in moments I wanted to give up. Every hard decision I’ve made in the last six months, has been entirely worth it.

 

Jennifer Stroble.jpg I’m Jennifer, a 25 year old mother of two amazing boys. Keagan is four years old, and Oliver will be one in September. I’ve been married five years now, and have grown up in the Brandon area. I am a sarcastic, laid back stay-at-home parent with a hectic lifestyle catering to my children and two rambunctious dogs. Each day I’m simply trying to survive the never-ending ride that is parenthood. 

 

 

Camping: Supplies

 

26239605_10156043233629438_4740901284788253062_n

I didn’t grow up camping, but my husband did. Some of his fondest memories are from family camping trips.  I only remember my family camping a few times. When the opportunity to camp with friends came up I was a little nervous.  Would my daughter cry, freak out and not sleep at night? Would my daughter be bored and annoy the shit out of us? Would it really be relaxing? What about the BUGS???? So many questions but much to my surprise camping has been relaxing and fun for all of us. 

26240374_10155989720500349_8922056507159531205_o

There is something about sitting around a campfire at night and exploring our surroundings during the day that brings out the best in us. It provides a calm break from the chaos that life at home can bring. With that being said, it is a TON of work initially and it does come at a cost. Our last trip we camped in some of the coldest weather Florida has had in years. We almost cancelled, but decided to go. We spent quite a bit of money buying heated blankets, and extra clothing to wear in layers. It stunk having to spend the money but it turned out to be one of our best trips yet.

Camping is a lot of trial and error; you do not realize you “need” certain items until you do not have them.  The following is our camping supply checklist.

Tent: We tent camp and I love it. When I was searching for a tent I looked for one that we could stand in and also had enough room for our daughter to sleep on her own. It also needed to be “easy” to put up. My husbands needs were one that has a high wind and rain rating and one that provides enough ventilation for the Florida heat. After weeks and weeks of research, we bought the Coleman Tenaya Lake . It is a little overkill for my family of three, but we like our space. My husband calls it our glamping tent.

26230680_10156043225924438_7030113880057228012_n

Air Mattress/Cots: I love camping and don’t mind “roughing it”, but I am not sleeping directly on the ground. We each have our own twin air mattress. They were super cheap; $7 at walmart. Many of our friends have cots and love them. If you are willing to spend the extra money and aren’t a super tall human those are also a great choice.

18556294_10155354038134438_1765870677462487128_n

Rechargeable battery powered air mattress pump.

Rubber mallet

Extra tent stakes

Mat to wipe feet on outside of tent.

Broom/Dustpan for sweeping dirt out of the tent

Pop Up shade Canopy and/or Netted canopy

Camping chairs

Blankets/Sleeping Bags and pillows

Fans Battery powered/electric

Extension Cords

26230173_10156043227404438_3271945477182185724_n

Camp cookware: Pots, pans, pot holders, percolator for coffee, coffee cups, forks, spoons, a knife for cutting up food, spatula, large spoon, extra bowl, Tervis/Yeti cups, dish towels, table cloth for the picnic table and clips for windy days, trash bags, paper towels, pop up food nets, gallon size zip lock bags. We have a second set of these items strictly for camping that we leave in a locking bin.

Camp Stove and Extra Fuel

Toilet Paper: Save yourself from the sandpaper the restrooms provide. Also for using during late nights when popping a squat:-). We keep it in the tent next to our bed.

Cooler for cold food and drinks.

First Aid kit

Bug spray (The real stuff ), bug bands and anything else that will keep the mosquitos away.  

Fire wood! I suggest that if you are planning on camping stock up on wood whenever possible. We have a good stockpile started; after a neighbor chopped down some trees we loaded up. we didn’t do this prior to our last trip and ended up spending around $30 on wood.

Matches, Lighter, fire starter logs

Water, Lots of water. Used for Cooking/Drinking. We invested in a PROPur portable water filter and we take that with us now. We hated having to bring so many gallon jugs of water. Many sites have potable water, but not all. We bring the filter to cut back on clutter in the campsite and reduce the amount of trash generated by bottles of water.  

Lighting: Lanterns, flashlights, headlamps (for every family member). Extra Batteries. If your site has power: bring string lights to hang from tree to tree or from a pop up shade canopy. This is one of my favorite things to hang up at the campsite. It provides a subtle amount of light and nice ambiance when hanging around the campfire at night.

Battery powered phone charger

Pop up trash can that zips, not a must have just a convenient luxury.

Camping sink  yet another one that you don’t need, but once you have it you won’t camp without it.

26230145_10156043233374438_2159340014946831369_n

Hammock: There is nothing better than relaxing in a hammock drinking your coffee or reading a book. I suggest getting a double person. My husband and I enjoyed snuggling in the hammock together the last time we camped.

Toys/Entertainment: I usually have my daughter pack her own backpack with what she wants. She usually grabs books, her american girl doll/accessories, sketchbook and her hot wheels. We usually bring bocce with us. This last trip we brought our Nintendo Switch, but didn’t even play with it. Our friends brought a frisbee last time we camped and that was fun. Bikes and scooters are fun for getting around the campground. We also always bring our fishing poles and tackle box. We also bring a bluetooth speaker, music is a must at times.

 

Important things to note:

My family did not acquire all of these items at once. In fact some of the items we borrow from friends that also camp. We would have gone broke buying all of the items on this list at once. However we have been camping for a little over a year now and are building a good base for future camps. Everything that we buy now is an investment for future camps. We hope to get to the point where all we have to do is prep our food and load up the gear and go. 

All of our gear does not fit in one vehicle. We usually take two vehicles or use my in-laws truck.

Use locking plastic bins to store supplies and dry food. Do not leave any food or bins out overnight. Animals will try to get into it. Load the bins into your locked vehicle or tent overnight.

If possible bring friends along. We love to camp with friends. Our daughter loves to have friends to play with and we love the adult conversation. It is also nice to have other campers you know to borrow from just in case you leave something you need behind. Of course, you could also talk to a fellow camper you don’t know. We have found other campers to be super friendly and always willing to lend a helping hand. After all we have all been through the same trial and error that comes with the territory.

Stay tuned for future posts on camping. I will be blogging next about camp food and places to camp in florida. We have only camped a handful of places, but I have a ton on my bucket list to share.

It takes work and some days there is more rain than shine but for us the hard work pays off. We are creating memories that will last a lifetime.

26233661_10155989720325349_367198286528107607_o

 

Suzette Foister,

SAHM, Wife, Homeschooler, Owner/Artist of Bring Your Own Canvas…. amateur camper 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekend Events Jan. 19-21

• For letting me be your Shipt Shopper•• Shineta •

Enter a caption

Ready for some fun? Here a some great family friendly events happening in the area this weekend. Enjoy and have a beautiful weekend!

Friday, Jan. 12 Events

Kindergarten Round Up

Calling all soon-to-be Wizards!! Come see what our amazing school is all about, take a tour and hear from some of our educators and administrators.

Open Play at We Rock the Spectrum

We offer Open Play daily, which is when children are welcome to enjoy full use of our sensory-safe gym with parent supervision. Our gym features therapy equipment, an arts & crafts area, a calming room, and more. We have a range of activities for kids no matter what they like. Our toddler section is filled with toys from trusted companies such as Melissa and Doug. Or if your child is more ambitious, he or she can jump on our trampoline or zip down our zip line. There’s plenty to do in our indoor, play, sensory gym — the best part being that weather doesn’t affect playtime!

We are an inclusive facility. This means that the programs and services we offer are designed to include children of all abilities. Our equipment has been specifically chosen so that children with autism or special needs can benefit from using it. Neurotypical children will also find our gym to be a safe and fun place to play! We believe in accommodating everyone.

  • When: Friday, January 19, 2018, 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
  • Location: We Rock the Spectrum – Tampa 1076 E Brandon Blvd Unit 102, Brandon, Florida 33511
  • Cost: $12 per child. Siblings discounted to $10 each. Baby Rockers – $6 under age of 1 (without siblings)
  • Website: http://www.werockthespectrumtampa.com/

Toddler Time at Altitude Trampoline Park

Toddler time at Altitude. We are open to the general public at this time, but sections of our main court areas may be coned off for toddlers depending on capacity. Except for weekends, holidays and school vacations.

  • When: Friday, January 19, 2018, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
  • Location: 4340 W. Hillsborough Ave., Suite 350, Tampa, Florida 33614
  • Cost: $8.95 per child. $2/hr for 1 adult
  • Website: http://www.altitudetampa.com/Buy-a-Pass

Fine Motor Skills Friday at Play-Dates

This class uses fine motor play activities to promote strength, dexterity, and improved grasp in small children. 8 months-3 years

Art on the House at Tampa Museum of Art

Art on the House on Friday evenings from 4pm to 8 pm, in partnership with GTE Financial. Pay-as-you-will admission to the museum.
Come visit the Museum on Friday night to enjoy all the exhibitions on display.

  • When: Friday, January 19, 2018, 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm
  • Location: 120 W Gasparilla Plaza Tampa, FL 33602
  • Cost: Pay-as-you-will admission to the museum
  • Website: http://tampamuseum.org/

Lakeland Square Mall Carnival

This family-fun event features midway rides for all ages, from kiddie rides to thrill rides, carnival games and favorite fair food. Carnival admission and parking are free. Single-day unlimited ride wristbands (for riders 36 inches and taller) are $25 on Thursday, $30 Friday – Sunday, or $15 online in advance (until 5 pm Jan. 18).

Ride tickets are $1.50 each, $25 for 20 tickets, or $50 for 50 tickets plus 1 free ride. Rides take 3 or more tickets each. Visit the website for coupons for $5 off ride wristbands, $5 off a 50-ticket Super Saver Family Pack, and $2 off a $10 food purchase.

Bedtime with Books

Free community event for children ages 2 – 6 and their parents! Join us for a story night in your P.J’s , then do a theme-related craft, and enjoy a bedtime snack! Plus, all children receive a FREE book! The Village Family Foundation supports early literacy by providing free books to children in the community

Friday, Jan. 12 Events

Tampa Superkids Classic

Sunshine State Superkids does soap box derby style races with special needs children.We are having a FREE soap box derby race event at Manheim Auction Tampa.
We have 2 seat sap box derby cars, where here is a driver from 7-18 and the passenger is also from 7-18 (boys and Girls). This event is FREE to all who come out. We will also have donuts for breakfast, pizza for lunch and water for the day.
All the children will go home with a trophy, plaque or medal for the day.

Color Fun Run

Central Baptist Christian School senior class is hosting a Color Fun Run! This is fun event for all ages! You can run, walk or stroll through the 1 mile or 5k course. Be ready to be covered in color as you pass through the course!

Play Day 2018 at R E Olds Park

Join us for a day of family fun! This FREE event will include kayaking, fishing, archery and games the whole family can enjoy!

  • When: Saturday, January 20, 2018, 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Location: R.E. Olds Park, 107 Shore Dr W, Oldsmar, FL 34677
  • Cost: Free Event
  • Website: http://www.celebrateoldsmar.com/

Michaels Kids Club Saturday Crafts

Kids 3 and up can enjoy a quick project. New craft project each week. Sign up in store, online or just drop in. Parent or guardian must remain on premises. Supplies are included. Please see website to find a location near you.

2018 Children’s Gasparilla Extravaganza & Parade

Come enjoy the alcohol-free kick off to the Gasparilla Season with the 2018 McDonald’s Children’s Gasparilla Extravaganza on Saturday, January 20th!!

Quick Schedule Reference for the Day:
11:00AM Activities open along Bayshore Blvd at 11AM.
11:00AM – 1:00PM Bicycle Safety Rodeo w/Tampa Police Department
1:30PM Gasparilla Preschooler’s Stroll presented by Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo (online application available in June 2017)
2:30PM SOCOM Para-Commandos Day Jump
3:30PM – 6:00PM Children’s Gasparilla Parade driven by Chevrolet (online application for the Parade available June 2017)
6:30PM SOCOM Para-Commandos Night Jump
7:00PM – 7:30PM Gasparilla Piratechnic Extravaganza (Fireworks Show!)

The Children’s Gasparilla Parade & the Fireworks will be broadcast LIVE on FOX 13 News – Tampa Bay!

Lakeshore Learning Crafts For Kids

Our Free Crafts for Kids event will be held at all Lakeshore Learning locations. Kids have a blast creating a new craft project every Saturday!

Largo Winterfest – Presented by Morgan Exteriors

Being the largest Largo High PTSA fundraiser held on campus, we are inviting the entire Largo community to come and support this historical school and help the children succeed in their education and beyond.
The entire event including activities will be serving as a fundraiser for this historical school and the Largo High PTSA 2018 school year.

Student Battle of the Bands (open to all Tampa Bay Area Students)
Largo Chili Cook-Off
Silent Student Art Auction
Carnival Games
Food Trucks
$7 Bounce Houses w/ Free Face Paint
Free Games & Kids Activities too!

Proceeds from all event activities benefit the Largo High PTSA.

Self-Guided Saturdays At Croc Encounters Reptile Park and Wildlife Center

Visit us on Saturdays at Croc Encounters for a self-guided admission. Every Saturday from 11am to 5pm, Croc Encounters offers a special up-close and personal look at the park including alligator and crocodile ponds, plenty of smaller stuff, a live feeding encounter, and a hands-on live animal encounter! You can meet the crocs and other critters during your self guided visit or if you’d like, schedule a guided tour to learn more, feed, touch, and have your photos taken with the reptiles!
For the full Croc Encounters experience schedule a guided tour any day of the week!

Lakeland Square Mall Carnival

This family-fun event features midway rides for all ages, from kiddie rides to thrill rides, carnival games and favorite fair food. Carnival admission and parking are free. Single-day unlimited ride wristbands (for riders 36 inches and taller) are $25 on Thursday, $30 Friday – Sunday, or $15 online in advance (until 5 pm Jan. 18).

Ride tickets are $1.50 each, $25 for 20 tickets, or $50 for 50 tickets plus 1 free ride. Rides take 3 or more tickets each. Visit the website for coupons for $5 off ride wristbands, $5 off a 50-ticket Super Saver Family Pack, and $2 off a $10 food purchase.

Fort Foster State Historic Site Tours

Fort Foster State Historic Site is part of Hillsborough River State Park, though located on the East Side of US 301 from the park. Fort Foster is a reconstructed fort from the Second Seminole War. Don’t miss our Ranger-led tours of Historic Fort Foster Site on the first and third Saturday of each month at 2 p.m.; and the first and third Sunday of each month ay 11 a.m.
IMPORTANT MESSAGE: Due to the sensitivity of this historic site, experiencing Fort Foster is ONLY available, weather permitting, via ranger-guided interpretive tours.

Light Up the Night

Join the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office on January 20, 2018 for their annual Light Up the Night event to help raise awareness about Human Trafficking and raise money to benefit Bridging Freedom, Healing Root Ministry, Justice Restoration Center – West Florida Center for Trafficking Advocacy, Loving You Where You Are At, Redefining Refuge and U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking. This event will begin at 4:30PM with a 5K & 1 mile run/walk race at Pasco-Hernando State College Porter Campus immediately followed by the main event that will take place at The Shops at Wiregrass on the upper level of the parking garage.

This event is very family friendly and will include live music by Word of Life, Jennifer McGill and Shalyah Fearing from The Voice, a kids zone area with bounce houses and face painting, horse mounted Police Officers, food vendors, a helicopter landing and conclude with a candle light ceremony.

NOTE: PARKING for the race (Pasco-Hernando State College Porter Campus) is 1 MILE from parking for the events after (The Shops at Wiregrass). THEY ARE NOT AT THE SAME LOCATION.

  • When: Saturday, January 20, 2018, 4:30 pm – 8:00 pm
  • Location: The Shops at Wiregrass 28211 Paseo Dr, Wesley Chapel, Florida 33543
  • Cost: Everything but the race is FREE! Register TODAY!
  • Website: http://www.lightupthenighttampabay.com/

Dinner Under the Stars at Fort Foster State Historic Site

Dine under the stars like an 1830’s military officer and mingle with the troops from inside the walls of Historic Fort Foster at this pre-1840’s living history event and dinner. There will be menu items influenced by Florida frontier life, with a modern day touch. Visitors will start the journey back in time by enjoying a 15 minute tram ride to the Fort. Once at the historic site, park staff will lead the group through the grand doors and protective walls of the fort where they will enjoy a candle lit tour of the officers’ quarters, infirmary, and quarter masters’ supply room. Once seated, and with no distractions of the modern world, guests will take in the smell and sight of this gourmet food and will be immersed in Florida history that few experience. After dinner you will have the luxury of roaming the quite historic fort grounds and view live black powder weapon firings before being transported back to the park and the modern day.

Creature Feature: BATS! Little Manatee River State Park

This rescheduled January program will wrap up the Park After Dark 2017 series. You don’t want to miss this program featuring bats, fascinating creatures of the night that deserve our understanding and need our protection! As dark falls in the park, the night comes alive with the sights and sounds of the amazing animals who live here. Others fly silent and undetected through the night, unless you know where to look! Join us for a closer look at one of the most fascinating creatures of the night, Bats! Come see live bats and learn how to listen for their silent calls, with special guest programmer and local bat advocate, Francine Pager with Tampa Bay Bats.

Additional Information:

For more information on program accessibility and participation requirements, see the Essential Eligibility Criteria: EEC-Park After Dark: Creature Feature Bats.
Participants are encouraged to bring insect repellent, and bring a flashlight with red light lens. Come see a side of the park rarely seen! #ParkAfterDark

  • When: Saturday, January 20, 2018, 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
  • Location: Little Manatee River State Park 215 Lightfoot Rd, Wimauma, Florida 33598
  • Cost: Park After Dark programs are free with paid park entry. Registered campers attend for free
  • Website: https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/Little-Manatee-River

 

 

Friday, Jan. 12 Events

The Big Hug

The world needs a hug! On Sunday, January 21 – #NationalHuggingDay – you’re invited help to break the Guinness World Record for the largest group hug.

Sponsored by Huggies, The Big Hug was created by a group of kids from the Tampa Bay area with the idea that something as small as a hug could make a big impact.

The event will feature live music by Inkblot and other youth bands, food trucks, sponsor booths, kids activities, raffles, and one BIG group hug for the record books.

Special guest appearances by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers cheerleaders, Tampa Bay Rays, Tampa Bay Rowdies and Tampa Bay Lightning. Six time World Wrestling Champion Chris Jericho will serve as the MC.

Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat at the Straz Center

What could be worse than a rainy day with nothing to do? How about the arrival of a cat with Thing One and Thing Two?

Come along as Sally, her brother and their cautious and outspoken pet Fish spend a whirlwind afternoon in the uninvited company of Dr. Seuss’s masterful creation, the Cat in the Hat. From the moment his tall, red-and-white-striped hat appears around the door, we know we’re in for a rhyming, rambunctious ride of things we mustn’t (but maybe we want to) do. While Mum’s away, The Cat will play.

  • When: Sunday, January 21, 2018,  2:00 pm
  • Location: Straz Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N. W.C. MacInnes Place, Tampa, FL 33602
  • Cost: TICKETS START AT $12.50
  • Website: www.strazcenter.org

The Goonies: Free Outdoor Movie

Join the Suncoast Credit Union Gasparilla International Film Festival and Ulele for a free outdoor screening of The Goonies!
“The Goonies” (1985): 114 Minutes | PG
Low lawn chairs and blankets OK. NO COOLERS

Written by Steven Spielberg and Chris Columbus, directed by Richard Donner and featuring soon to be stars such as GIFF Alum Sean Astin, Josh Brolin, Corey Feldman, and Martha Plimpton, “Goonies” remains a favorite coming of age tale with perils, magic, and tons of action.
And for fans of the hit Netflix series “Stranger Things”, you may find some resemblances beyond boys on bikes and Astin, who – not coincidentally – stars in both.

  • When: Sunday, January 21, 2018,  6:15 pm –  8:15 pm
  • Location: Ulele Sunset Lawn 1810 N Highland Ave, Tampa FL 33602
  • Cost: Free
  • Website: www.facebook.com

 

Every Day New, Every Day The Same

Do you often feel like you are in the movie Groundhog Day? Every day you wake up to the same thing, whether it’s taking the kids to school, going to work, laundry, the dishes, or cleaning up the kid’s room again, the days start to melt into one another. It’s this horrible hamster wheel that just won’t stop. Round and Round and Round.

Image result for hamster wheel gif

We take the occasional break, maybe go to the beach, a walk in the woods, but the whole time we can’t let go of all of those things that we are not doing while we are taking that break. As women, we can’t seem to just let go (and I think you guys are the same way).

We get caught up in the have to, must do, need to.

How can we stop this cycle? How can we give our brains not only a break but a way to not just sink right back into that cycle when we return after that short break?

How do we just stop and enjoy life? 

That’s the million dollar question right?

Do we make rules like no social media after 5pm or really at all? Do we get more fresh air, exercise, and healthy foods? Cut out refined sugar and bread?  Make meditation a habit and make sure we get “me time”.

Yes to all of that BUT is part of just our nature as humans to be in some kind of routine? Even those that wander still have a routine of some kind. Maybe we need to embrace the hamster wheel and make it rock for us! Maybe it’s the uncertainty that really causes us stress, not the stability of what we know needs to be done and what we will do?

So how do we change our mindset to not dread the routine but celebrate it? 

What are your tips and tricks for keeping your sanity? Do you clean certain things on certain days? Apply the 5 rule where you do 5 things everytime you enter a room? Are you a minimalist that has paired down your anxiety by decreasing your stuff? Or are you like me and still struggling with how to make this mom, wife, woman life work? How to balance the “want to do” and the “have to do“, the “me time” and the “family time”. 

How are you succeeding in your everyday life? 

This is currently what my days look like:

 

Mom and Daughter Selfie

The momma behind Momma Got Soul Photo and Films, Tampa Bay Family Photographer. I am a wife. I am a mother. I am a storyteller. I stay up late, try to sleep late, and drink lots of coffee and beer (usually in that order, but not always). I grew up in sunny (which means really hot) central Florida, never go to the beach or Disney, but try to hike in the woods as much as I can. I remember a time when I said I would never photograph people, now that’s all I do. I think it started with wanting to explore the world and capture that to share with people. Now I want to capture people to share with the world. -Kelly

January 12 – 14 Weekend Events, Tampa Bay Area

Weekend Events

 

Looking for something fun to do with the family this weekend?? Check out our roundup of family fun events happening in and around the Tampa Bay area. Enjoy and have fun!!

 

Friday, Jan. 12 Events22

Big Red Barn Playdate + Workout at The Big Red Barn

We are thrilled to partner with The Big Red Barn in 2018, and we are kicking it off with a FREE Stroller Strides®️ class on Friday, January 12, followed by story time, playtime and grab a healthy bite at their new cafe! For Stroller Strides®️ – please bring your stroller (no umbrella strollers please), water, a yoga mat/towel, snacks for your kiddos and maybe a special toy for their stroller.
Bring a friend and RSVP —> https://bx11o4o1.paperform.co/

  • When: Friday, January 12, 2018,  9:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Location: 10070 Fern Hill Dr, Riverview, Hillsborough County, Florida 33578
  • Cost: Free
  • Website: facebook.com

Open Play at We Rock the Spectrum

We offer Open Play daily, which is when children are welcome to enjoy full use of our sensory-safe gym with parent supervision. Our gym features therapy equipment, an arts & crafts area, a calming room, and more. We have a range of activities for kids no matter what they like. Our toddler section is filled with toys from trusted companies such as Melissa and Doug. Or if your child is more ambitious, he or she can jump on our trampoline or zip down our zip line. There’s plenty to do in our indoor, play, sensory gym — the best part being that weather doesn’t affect playtime!

We are an inclusive facility. This means that the programs and services we offer are designed to include children of all abilities. Our equipment has been specifically chosen so that children with autism or special needs can benefit from using it. Neurotypical children will also find our gym to be a safe and fun place to play! We believe in accommodating everyone.

  • When: Friday, January 12, 2018,  9:00 am –  6:00 pm
  • Location: We Rock the Spectrum – Tampa 1076 E Brandon Blvd Unit 102, Brandon, Florida 33511
  • Cost: $12 per child. Siblings discounted to $10 each. Baby Rockers – $6 under age of 1 (without siblings)
  • Website: werockthespectrumtampa.com

Fine Motor Skills Friday at Play-Dates

This class uses fine motor play activities to promote strength, dexterity, and improved grasp in small children. 8 months-3 years. Socks are required to enter play area. If you forget your socks no need to worry! We have socks for sale at the register.
*Older siblings may enter at no charge. However, they are prohibited from entering the infant area and using ride on toys.

  • When: Friday, January 12, 2018, 10:30 am
  • Location: 1040 E. Bloomingdale Avenue, Valrico, Florida 33596
  • Cost: Free with paid admission
  • Website: playdatesflorida.com

Franzini Family Science Circus at Carrollwood Cultural Center

Join Professor Franzini and Lippo the Clown for an action-packed science show. Circus props, juggling, magic and more will turn this three-ring show into a science lesson.

  • When: Friday, January 12, 2018, 10:30 am
  • Location: Carrollwood Cultural Center 4537 Lowell Rd, Tampa, Florida 33618
  • Cost: $7 member / $8 general admission / $28 Family 4-Pack
  • Website: carrollwoodcenter.org

Baby Time

For children from birth to 24 months with their caregiver. Enjoy music, board books, bubbles, and bouncing!

  • Location: Temple Terrace Public Library
  • Cost: FREE
  • Website: hcplc.org

Baby and Toddler Yoga

Ages 6 months to 5 years old. This is a great opportunity to introduce your baby or toddler to yoga. Through fun interactive song and movement, children will learn basic asana (postures) and basic pranayama (yogic breathing). Favorites like: cat, cow, cobra, tree, triangle, and down-dog all will be taught, along with much more. Through yoga, we can help our children find focus, learn something new, and best of all encourage the harnessing of that energy into a healthy activity. Classes are ½ hour and require only that you enjoy yourself!
  • When: Friday, January 12, 2018, 11:30 am – 12:05 pm
  • Location: Jan Kaminis Platt Library
    Witt Community Room A & B
  • Cost: FREE
  • Website: hcplc.org

Florida Hospital Center Ice Public Skate

The Florida Hospital Center ice Facility offers several public and community oriented programs designed to combine fitness and entertainment for patrons of all ages. Visit our website to see the full public skate calendar!

  • When: Friday, January 12, 2018,  1:00 pm –  3:00 pm
  • Location: 3173 Cypress Ridge Blvd Wesley Chapel, FL 33544
  • Cost: Admission: $10.00 Skate Rental: $5.00
  • Website: centerice.com

Toddler/Preschool Field Day

This is an open House event for The MOMS Club of Tampa East whether your interested in join the MOMS Club or just want to get to know other families in the neighborhood.
We will be having kid friendly games geared to 1-5 year old. Like egg race, duck duck goose, sack race and an obstacle course. There will be light refreshments as well.

Movie Night on the Lawn

This is a FREE family friendly event. Invite your friends, family and co-workers to a a fun movie night under the stars! Be sure to bring your lawn chairs or blankets! We will have FREE popcorn and The Link Youth Ministry will be selling nachos and hot chocolate to raise money for Youth Camp this coming summer! Movie starts at 6:00 PM so you can arrive at 5:30 PM to get a good seat!

  • When: Friday, January 12, 2018,  6:00 pm –  8:30 pm
  • Location: Christ Fellowship of Tampa 300 E Sligh Ave, Tampa, Florida 33604
  • Cost: Free, some food for sale
  • Website: facebook.com

Movie Under the Stars at Avalon Park West

Watch Despicable Me 3 with us during our first Movie Under the Stars of 2018! Enjoy this free family movie with family and friends and don’t forget your blankets and lawn chairs. Free popcorn will be provided! Don’t miss it!

  • When: Friday, January 12, 2018,  8:00 pm – 10:00 pm
  • Location: 33613 SR 54, Wesley Chapel, Florida 33545
  • Cost: Free entry and free parking
  • Website: facebook.com

 

 

Weekend Events

FREE Events at Your Local Library

Check out a free event and the library today. There are tons!!

  • When: Saturday, January 13, 2018 – All Day Event
  • Location: Find your local library on the website below
  • Cost: FREE
  • Website: hcplc.org

Classic Street Rod Show and Shine

All Cars Car Show including a vintage Corvette Car Display and a Corvette Swap Meet

  • When: Saturday, January 13, 2018 – All Day Event
  • Location: Sun N Fun Facilities Lakeland Linder Airport, 4175 Medulla Rd Lakeland, FL 33811
  • Cost: parking $5 Admission Free
  • Website: https://www.flysnf.org/events/

Life Skills Through Sports Clinic

We have partnered with the Peter J. Mulry Foundation to offer a FREE boys baseball & girls softball clinic for children ages 7 – 13 years old. 
The instructors and speakers will consist of current and former professional, college, and high school coaches and athletes. Kids receive a free t-shirt, backpack, autographed posters and life skills book. Breakfast is included for participants.

3rd Annual Celebrity Auto Festival

FREE Car Show is held to generate donations to support the Shriner’s Childrens Hospital and Racing 4 Vets. Big Top Flea Market is once again the venue for this family event where there is plenty of FREE parking, NO Admission Fees, offering shopping and food. 
See all kinds vehicles from classic to modern muscle cars, TV & Movie tribute cars, Hot Rods and Custom vehicles. This event is open to all makes and models, motorcycles, trucks, exotics and especially TV & Movie vehicles of all types.

Family Fishing Festival at Withlacoochee River Park

The Family Fishing Festival will return to Withlacoochee River Park. This event is made possible by the Pasco County Parks, Recreation, and Natural Resources, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Fish Florida. The event is absolutely FREE to the community and boasts valuable education and recreational value to citizens.

This fun-filled event is designed to introduce families to the vast outdoors, the sport of fishing and the importance of being stewards of Florida’s freshwater ecosystems. Hands on activities will include fishing in the pristine waters of the Withlacoochee River, wildlife encounters, fishing learning stations, carnival games, and numerous vendors. Additionally, there will be a free rod/reel for the first 300 children ages 3 – 15 years old, gift raffles, a nutritional lunch, face painting, crafts and many other attractions – all at no cost to the community. This event will be held here, rain or shine. Additionally, information regarding fishing and boating in Florida can be obtained by visiting http://www.myfwc.com.

Yoga (Winter Season) at Glazer Museum

In this practice, we embody the energetic qualities of nature with outdoor yoga. With a combination of mindfulness and movement, students will develop purposefulness, balance, and flexibility. This is suitable for students of all ages and abilities! This is part of our Mindfulness program with Evolve Personal Health.

Play-Dates’ Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Play-Dates is FINALLY having a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and you are invited! We will have open play on Saturday, January 13th from 10:00-2:00 as well as complimentary sweet treats and refreshments for you to enjoy. Your paid admission will automatically enter you in a drawing for the chance to win a FREE Classic Birthday Party, valued at $250!! Admission is $10 plus tax for ages 1-5 and $6.25 for children under 1. Socks are required for both child and adult. Play Passes and Memberships can be used for this event.

Make a Bee House at Sunken Gardens

Make a house for Florida’s solitary bees! The state bee chairman for the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs shows you how. Not all bees live in hives, and our native imperiled bees need individual homes for sleeping and tending to their baby bees. Round out the fun with a bee scavenger hunt through our butterfly/pollinator garden. Pre-registration required due to limited space. Youth must be accompanied by an adult. For ages 6 and up. Adults without children may also attend. Call 727-551-3102 to register with your payment.

  • When: Saturday, January 13, 2018, 10:30 am – 11:30 pm
  • Location: 1825 4th St N, Saint Petersburg, Florida 33704
  • Cost: $5 per bee house made in addition to admission to gardens
  • Website: https://www.facebook.com/events/427286031020695/

Gasparilla Block Party at Hyde Park Village

Arrgghh you ready for Gasparilla?! Join us for our Gasparilla Block Party from 11am-2pm to celebrate Tampa’s invasion. Enjoy live music, Gasparilla merchandise, special appearances by the YMKG Pirates and more! BEWARE: Adventure Awaits

Plant City Mac & Cheese Fest

Food Trucks and Restaurants (all unique) will be serving their best Mac & Cheese and Dessert dishes ON EARTH! PLUS EACH FOOD TRUCK/ RESTAURANT WILL SERVE THEIR OWN SPECIALITY MENU! On The Stage from 2 pm – 5 pm Plant City’s OWN Skyler Clark Band. 
FREE ADMISSION AND PLENTY OF STREET PARKING AND CITY LOTS AROUND THE PARK .
SUPER PET FRIENDLY with Pet Tent and Water Bowls through out the Event Site ! FUN FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY WITH ACCESS TO Big Dog’s Patio TO ENJOY YOUR ENTREES, PLUS BIG SCREEN TV’S TO WATCH YOUR FAVORATE FOOTBALL GAMES AND AMAZING AIR CONDITIONING INSIDE WITH PLENTY OF TABLES AND SEATING BOTH INSIDE AND THE PATIO. . PLUS FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT WITH ROCK WALL, SHARK TANK, BOUNCE HOUSES, FACE PAINTING AND MORE!!!!

Children’s MiraBay Gasparilla Lagoon Invasion

ARGH MATEY! Join us on Saturday, January 13th for our Kid’s Gasparilla Parade & MiraBay Gasparilla Festival! The Kid’s Parade is free to participate! Dress up your wagons, bikes and strollers and parade from Landing Park to the Clubhouse where the pirates will invade!

  • When: Saturday, January 13, 2018, 12:00 pm –  2:00 pm
  • Location: MiraBay Mariner’s Club 107 Manns Harbor Dr, Apollo Beach, Florida 33572
  • Cost: Free Admission, Kids fun band $5, food for sale
  • Website: https://www.facebook.com/events/909659975877691/

LEGO Block Party at Learning Express Toys of Brandon

Have fun building LEGOs and trading minifigures at out LEGO Block Party. Call the store to reserve a spot.

Defying Gravity at Sky Zone

Second Saturday of the month! A time for individuals with special needs and disabilities to jump and to learn new skills in a safe, controlled environment. 60 Minute Jump passes $11.99/jumper (plus one helper allowed)

  • When: Saturday, January 13, 2018,  6:00 pm –  7:00 pm
  • Location: Sky Zone Tampa 10137 E Adamo Dr, Tampa, Florida 33619
  • Cost: 60 Minute Jump passes $11.99/jumper (plus one helper allowed free of charge)
  • Website: https://www.skyzone.com/tampa/attractions-and-programs

Monster Jam at Raymond James Stadium

Monster Jam will be performing at Raymond James Stadium for two (2) action packed shows on January 13, 2018 and February 3, 2018! The January 13th event will feature trucks and drivers vying to be the Tampa champion, including: Grave Digger, Max D, Monster Mutt Dalmatian, Monster Energy Mutant and many more! The February 3rd event will feature Grave Digger, El Toro Loco, Soldier Fortune, Cleatus, Hot Wheels and other favorites! Monster Jam® is adrenaline-charged family entertainment providing jaw-dropping displays and gravity-defying feats that promises to always leave fans entertained. Monster Jam events feature some of the most recognizable trucks in the world including Grave Digger®, Max-D, El Toro Loco® and many more. Our world-class drivers push these perfectly engineered Monster Jam trucks to their limits in Freestyle, “2-Wheel Skills” and Racing competitions that will put families on the edge of their seats and leave them craving more of this unexpected, unscripted and unforgettable event!

New in 2018, the Pit Party Early Access Pass is available to every fan who purchases a ticket to the event. The pass provides early entry into the Pit Party from 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM and serves as the regular Pit Party pass from 2:30 PM – 5:30 PM. Monster Jam drivers will depart from the Pit Party at 5 PM. The Pit Party Early Access Pass must be accompanied by an event ticket, and quantities are limited.

  • When: Saturday, January 13, 2018,  7:00 pm
  • Location: 4201 North Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa, FL 33607
  • Cost: Tickets start at $15
  • Website: https://www.monsterjam.com/

 

 

wee

 

FREE Events at Your Local Library

Check out a free event and the library today. There are tons!!

  • When: Saturday, January 13, 2018 – All Day Event
  • Location: Find your local library on the website below
  • Cost: FREE
  • Website: hcplc.org

Toddler Time at Sky Zone

Toddler Time is a great shared experience for child and parent. A time for your little ones to discover the joy of being active, bouncing under the supervision of their parents, and without interference from the big kids.

Alligator Walk at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve

Learn about the American alligator, Florida’s state reptile, which calls our wetlands home. All ages. The second Sunday of every month, learn the facts about Alligators as you search for this ancient critter in the preserve’s wetlands.

  • When: Sunday, January 14, 2018, 11:30 am
  • Location: 1101 Country Club Way S, St. Petersburg, Florida 33705
  • Cost: Adult $3.00 Child $1.50
  • Website: www.stpeteparksrec.org

Mommy & Me-Paint your own tea set event

Come join us for our “Mommy and Me” pottery event. The mother and child bond influences our lives in ways we may not even realize.During this event spend precious time building memories of a life time as you and your child paint their very own tea set! Cost includes 11pc set, 4 cups, 4 saucers, tea pot, creamer pot, and sugar pot. After the event, our staff will glaze your pieces with food safe glaze and fire them. The tea pottery set will be available for pick in 1 week.

  • When: Sunday, January 14, 2018, 11:30 am –  1:30 pm
  • Location: Pretty in Color! 10008 Us Highway 301, Riverview FL 33578
  • Cost: $55.00
  • Website: www.prettyincolortampa.com

Open Play at We Rock the Spectrum

With open play, children are welcome to come in and enjoy the same activities that are offered during the private sessions and private parties. This includes full use of the gym with all equipment, and an arts & crafts section that has: beading, painting, lanyards and much more.

  • When: Sunday, January 14, 2018, 12:00 pm –  5:00 pm
  • Location: We Rock the Spectrum – Tampa 1076 E Brandon Blvd Unit 102, Brandon, Florida 33511
  • Cost: $12 per child. Siblings will be discounted to $10
  • Website: www.werockthespectrumtampa.com

Golf with Garfield at Topgolf

Join Garfield for an afternoon of fun! Whether you’re an aspiring golf pro or just learning, an outing at TopGolf is perfect for every level to get in on the game. The Center for Cyber Safety and Education is excited to announce our very own TopGolf outing at a premiere entertainment and event venue. Join us at TopGolf Tampa for a fun, but laid back event. 
Ready to play? Sign up at www.cybersafetykits.org

  • When: Sunday, January 14, 2018, 12:30 pm –  3:30 pm
  • Location: Top Golf Tampa, 10690 Palm River Road, Tampa, Fl 33618
  • Cost: See Website
  • Website: www.facebook.com

 

 

Written By: Shineta Armour

Shineta Armour

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dressing for the Cold

Hey guys. As my mom would say “It’s colder than a witch’s tit on the 1st of November” right now. At first I was so inspired by the cooler weather. Getting to layer and pull out that jacket I bought 3 years ago but never got to wear was exciting, but day by day it’s gotten much harder to get dressed in the mornings. I have been shopping everywhere lately to stock up on sweaters, cardigans and beanies to keep myself warm, so I wanted to put together a few outfit ideas for you ladies to keep you cute in the cold. I’ll also be sharing some of the best places to grab cute winter clothes for a great deal.

26551759_1783136938364566_348662684_n

Bring on the layers! I piled a great cream chunky cable knit tunic sweater over a chambray button down with faux leather leggings for a casual outing with my husband. Lately I’ve been living in these super comfy Sketcher’s Flatform Sneakers because they give me a little height without making my feet hurt like a wedge does. I snagged this sweater in my Stitchfix a few months ago but here is a great dupe I found for it for only $20 at Target! Also these faux leather leggings are so great, I have the Spanx version which is a little pricer (but my cellulite says it was worth it), but I did find a great pair on Zulily too, they go with everything as far as layering goes, and are a little warmer than typical cotton leggings because the fabric isn’t as breathable.

26553260_1782183491793244_1694452283_n

26234689_1782267905118136_1025372615_n

Remember that jacket I was talking about never being able to wear?! Here it is! Bust out your moto jackets! Honestly this whole look makes me feel like such a badass person that I can only wear it once a month or else my sass levels might rise too high. I paired it over a red Express sweater that’s on sale for $35 in store right now and these adorable velvet shorts that look super cute with tights. Personally I don’t do a ton of shorts outfits because I hate my legs, but being able to disguise them with tights really helps me out! I finished this look off with some moto boots to match the jacket and it was so easy to walk out the door while staying warm all day!

26694772_1786718584673068_1546092302_n

Comfy and Casual. I just posted details on this hoodie on my personal blog, but this sweater is all my weekend feels! It’s only $20 at Target, I love wearing it with leggings, but it’s not “length appropriate” for leggings in my book so I’ve been layering it with oversized button downs to keep my ass covered, literally. Also I can’t get enough of these adorable woven beanies with the pom poms on top! They are so fun and basically match every casual outfit you have, plus at only $8 at Target, it’s not like you’re wasting a ton of money if it happens to be 80 degrees again next week.

26241787_1783315018346758_1173315971_n

Add a Pop of Color. I found this Barbie pink sweater at Express ($30 on sale right now) and I LOVE it! Anytime I wear it I get tons of compliments on how fun it is, and it really does just make me feel so fun and feminine. It can be worn layered with a cami like I have it here, or pulled slightly off one shoulder for a more “sexy” look. For those not into the hot pink it comes in about 6 other colors as well and it is SO warm! The balloon sleeves add a little trendiness that I really love in easy pieces and it’s a great option for a Valentine’s day look for a class party, day date, Galentine’s Wine Night, etc!

26551420_1783142231697370_1578171441_n

I wanted to include a few dressier looks for those working Mama’s out there! This a great sheer bodysuit (actually it’s legit lingerie from Victoria’s Secret) that I paired with a cami and this cute pink skirt from Target! The skirt has pockets so obviously it’s a huge winner in my book, and it made from a poly blend, so it’s a little heavier than your typical skater skirt. Since I was pairing two solids together with the black and fuchsia, I added a leopard belt and boots for that pop of texture/pattern I like all my outfits to have!

26647864_1786787281332865_1181683597_n

Another dressier option is to pair black tights with a black skirt and black boots for a really warm yet flirty outfit. I added a faux fur vest & bell sleeved sweater (express $17 on sale right now) to keep me super warm while looking super cool. I really encourage you to find a faux fur vest if you don’t already have one. I’ve had this specific one for a little over 3 years now. They hold up really well since you don’t wear them a TON, so one will last you for a long time and it’s a great way to add some warmth and texture to an outfit if you’re feeling jazzy!

empost

Last but not least, is basically my daily uniform. Cami, Jeans, Mules & a Cardi. This open front white thermal cardi was only $25 at Express with their extra 40% off clearance sale right now and I LOVE it! It’s so soft and so perfect for lounging around in. These lace satin cami’s have been super popular lately and I can see why. Since buying this pink one last week at Target for $17 I’ve probably worn it like 4 different ways so far, and ordered the black version online. The web sizing is limited but keep a look out for it in your Target because it’s so versatile and you’ll be able to use it season after season!

Hope that helps you keep cute warm this Florida “winter” ❤

Fun holiday crafts for the littles

Growing up, I remember making Christmas ornaments in school. Specifically, a beaded wreath with my photo in it that I so excitedly hung on our Christmas tree as soon as I brought it home. I wish I still had those to show my kids.

We love crafting in our house, so I wanted to re-create those, and make some new ones of our own. I picked up a bag of large popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, pulled out the glue gun, beads, and paints and we got to work!

First ones we made were snowmen.
We put 5 sticks side by side, gluing a half of a popsicle stick to the back to hold them together and 1 more popsicle stick across the top front at an angle to make the top hat.

We even got daddy in on this one!

72A0BD95-982F-4192-8B33-9BB548D147FD

 

Another fun popsicle stick craft is little Christmas trees.
This uses 2 1/2 popsicle sticks. Hot glue together to make a tree triangle. Paint green, and then finger paint on the tree decorations. My daughter had more fun with this since there were less directions and she could do her own thing.

8C051AC6-E414-47D7-9BC6-549F30CA2F11

To make either of these ornaments, just hot glue an ornament hanger to the back!

I haven’t done that just because I haven’t pulled out our ornaments just yet.

Then we did was a “chain” of days until Christmas. I remember doing these in school, also. You can make these with any amount of days left to Christmas since it’s just for fun!
Cut strips of red and green paper (enough strips for the amount of days left).
Using tape a stapler or probably a glue stick but I wasn’t sure a glue stick would hold enough, make a circle out of your first strip. Using your next strip, thread it through the first circle to make a “chain” and continue with the rest until you’re out of strips!
Every day the kids can remove 1 circle and what is left, is how many days until Santa comes!
You can taylor this to whatever you celebrate. Blue and white for Hanukkah, and so on.

CFC5D490-C37F-4D64-830C-AE3B0F9DF7D3

And last but not least, grab some red/white pony beads and pipe cleaners and start threading! You can make a wreath to glue a photo behind, make candy canes (this requires no glueing as you can manipulate the pipe cleaners to hang on your tree)
I cut a pipe cleaner in half, fold up the bottom so the beads don’t fall off, and do the same with the top when you’re all threaded.

89C2D63B-7F28-46D2-900E-2A08061DD7C6

I know stay at home parents don’t get these special things brought home, so make your own!
Best of all, the kids benefit using/developing sensory, coordination, patterns, and fine motor skills.

Happy holidays, and happy crafting!!

 

Becky Phillips
Stay at home mom of 2

1731A1BA-0CAA-4763-968A-4450E3E76194

You can find more of my posts on Workingwifemommalife.wordpress.com

Mom Life {Why I haven’t been out and about}

Mother and 2 kids

How my life feels as a mother

I was supposed to write a post about something out and about. I even started one about some fall native berries, but it was boring because my life has been so boring. To be honest I haven’t been out and about anywhere. I haven’t gone and done anything minus the things I had to do in months. I haven’t wanted to leave my house, especially with my children in a long time.
Some of you have read this story before, some of you have felt this story. Some of you have been this story.
There are lots of words that can describe mom life.
Love
Hard
Joyous
Long
Servitude
Unconditional
Emotional
Rewarding
Chaos
Real
Raw
Amazing
The list goes on and on.

Our lives are full of highs and lows all at the same moment. The way we perceive our day in and day out can be totally different than the story we tell to the outside world, totally different than the way others view our life. The way our lives look and the way our lives feel can cover both ends of the spectrum at the same time. We often put on a show for the world. We might have joked about how hard our day was, how we need another bottle of wine (beer for me) or vat of coffee, but there is a truth behind those jokes. We work long hard hours either as a stay at home parent or a working parent. We stay up late to catch those few moments of me time with the house quiet. We worry about things out of our control, things in the future and things we could change. We are mentally and physically exhausted. Our brains never shut off. Our whole house often feels like it’s in a continual state of turmoil.

Why is this? What can we do to change this?

Why do we put on a brave face for the outside world, always saying things are fine? Why are our lives so full of stress and worry that we forget to actually enjoy it? Why, as a society, have we allowed our lives to become this way? Do we have an imbalance? Are we lacking something? Do we feel like the world puts a lot of pressure on us? Do we put that pressure on ourselves? Has life always been this hard? Since we no longer have to struggle to kill our next meal have we turned that struggle into something else? Is it just the way our brains are wired through evolution? Are we missing our tribe? Our village?
(If you have any answers for this, please feel free to fill me in!)
This was a day about 6 weeks ago.
I stared at the pile of laundry that has been begging to be folded for a while. I found dog poop still on the porch from yesterday that had not magically cleaned itself up. I gazed at the small amount dishes thinking how lucky only until I remembered that I am not sure anyone actually ate dinner last night.
I found my daughter sitting in the corner of a toy and stuff filled room reading a book. I think oh cool, she spending time by herself reading! Awesome, until I step in the first of many puddles.
“Hey Fin, why is the floor so wet? Did you pee?”
“No”
“Did water get poured all over?”
“yes, I think so”

I reach down to find her soaking wet. She had peed herself again, she had peed all over the room that is so full of stuff I can’t even walk through it, I don’t even know where to start cleaning up the mess……

I lost it.

I put her in the tub and I just walked away. I walked outside and sat down.
I screamed and cried.
I don’t want to be a mom anymore, I don’t want to be a wife anymore, I don’t want to live this life anymore.

I don’t want to be…

My 6 year old came to console me. Then he went and washed his little sister, got her dressed and gave me a hug.
This was a sh*ty day…
But the next day will be better… right?!
Isn’t that what we always say, tomorrow I won’t lose my cool and yell at the kids. Tomorrow I will wake up early and get that run in. Tomorrow I will stop eating so much crap and drink more water.

You Are Not Alone

We all have days that don’t live up to the ideal parent in our head. We all tell ourselves tomorrow will be better (and sometimes it is). We all show the outside world a different view than how we feel.

You Are Not Alone

We (both moms and dads) are in this together. This is real life, let’s try to accept that the days are not perfect, that we will yell at our kids and lose our sh*t, that our kids will still love us if we make them go to bed at 6pm to keep from killing them.

This is Real Life

After I had this meltdown after I watched the film that showed how my kids viewed the day compared to how I viewed the day after I told this story and listened to mom after mo tell me she felt the same way I felt better. I felt better, but I knew there was something still not right. I took to Google like we all do and I started to do some research. Why have I gone crazy (much crazier than I was), what is wrong with me?
A little backstory, I had a copper IUD put in about 6 months ago. Now not to say my life was perfect before that, but I had noticed I was much moodier than before, much quicker to snap, much more likely to yell. Much more of a B*tch. I started to wonder if the two things were related. Well, maybe they were. I couldn’t find any scientific research to back up this claim, but I found page after page after page of testimonials that the copper IUD was making women crazy and many related it to low zinc levels.
So what did I do, rush out to Publix and buy the biggest bottle of zinc I could find and you know what, it’s helped! I have actually cleaned my house the past few weeks, caught up with friends, took my kids on field trips and decreased the amount of yelling by a huge percentage. I have also added in magnesium (again totally on the advice of Dr Google) and I feel like my old self again for the most part. I enjoy being around my kids again (most of the time), my patience has returned and life is better.
So tell me, what have you done to try to even out your life, return your mind back to a more tranquil state? Have you tried any advice that has helped you change your view of what you see to what they see?


Momma Got Soul Photos & FilmsI am a wife. I am a mother. I am a storyteller. I stay up late, try to sleep late, and drink lots of coffee and beer (usually in that order, but not always). I grew up in sunny (which means really hot) central Florida, never go to the beach or Disney, but try to hike in the woods as much as I can. I remember a time when I said I would never photograph people, now that’s all I do. I think it started with wanting to explore the world and capture that to share with people. Now I want to capture people to share with the world. -Kelly

I’m Going to be a “Bad Mom” This Christmas!

Written By: Jessica Cook

It took a Mom’s night out to make me realize I was doing Christmas all wrong!

I mean, it’s not like there is really a right or wrong way to do Christmas. I’m just saying, for my family, I’m doing it all wrong. I’m expecting to much from them during the holidays. Between the endless holiday themed events, baked goods for every person we know, the perfectly decorated house and wrapped gifts. I’ve lost sight of just spending time with the ones I love and reminding them of what the real meaning of Christmas is.

Every year we bring out the Christmas decorations and tree, the day after Thanksgiving. I guess you could blame the next part on my upbringing, but I suffer from P.O.P.D. (Perfect Ornament Placement Disorder). I blame this on my mother!!! The kids are not allowed to touch the tree, aside from their special ornaments, when it comes time to decorating. Even during the few times that I have allowed my daughter to help, we ended up fighting and she would stomp away. What kind of fun is that for them? What do I gain from having a perfectly decorated tree? Absolutely nothing! So this year I am handing the tree decorating over to my kids. I will most likely consume large amounts of wine while I sit back and cringe at their ornament placement. But gosh darn it, I’m going to do it!

My daughter came to me this year to say she was to old to attend our yearly “tradition” of the Nutcracker.  My oldest son has also informed me that he is to old for Santa pictures, holiday crafts and Toby our elf. Excuse me while I hide in the closet and cry! They have been saying this to me for a couple of years now, and yet I still forced the activities onto them.  I was bitter and moody at first, but then came to the realization that now I can enjoy Christmas with them in a more grown up way. Besides, I still have my six year old to enjoy those “traditions” with. So, I’ve passed along the family Elf to my oldest children. Goodbye are the nights of waking up at 2:00 am in a panic, because I forgot to move the elf!  They are excited and have already come up with fun activities for the elf to do.

Holiday concerts, Christmas parties, Holiday events and so on. I’m always trying to drag the kids to every possible Holiday themed activity I can find. I tell myself, it’s because we are making holiday memories. In reality I’m over doing it and we all end up exhausted by the time Christmas has finally arrived. So this year, I’m allowing them to decide. If they would like to go look at lights, we will go look at lights. If they want to go look at fake snow, then we will go look at fake snow. I am no longer planning out their weekends and cramming their Holiday break with events.

Much to my extended families dismay, we have decided to go away for Christmas this year. I came home one day and decided I wanted to see snow for Christmas. My kids and husband have been asking for a couple of years now to go away. I always turned them down, because I said we had “traditions” to uphold with our extended family. I finally realized it’s about the five of us. It’s about the memories we create with each other. Our kid’s are getting so big and time is flying by.  I wanted to offer my kids an experience for Christmas, rather than a bunch of random gifts they do not need. We will be taking off to stay in a cabin the week of Christmas just the five of us and I couldn’t be happier. I feel relaxed and at peace with the decision.

So this year, I am going to do less of what I THINK is expected of me during the holiday season and more of what my kid’s actually WANT to do! In the words of the Bad Mom’s cast, “I’m taking back Christmas this year!”

th

Happy Holidays from my family to yours!!! 

 

 

Thanksgiving Break Events

So, the kids are out of school for a whole week!!! Looking to keep them busy and out of the house? We have rounded up some fun events going on all week. Enjoy!

logo

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us here at Everyday Moms!

Looking for Christmas/Holiday Events, check them out here: https://everydaymomssite.wordpress.com/2017/11/05/5735/

Monday, November 20, 2017

Family-Oriented Programs at Hillsborough Co Public Libraries

Pasco County Library Events for Kids and Teens

Open Play Time at Bounce Boy

  • When: Monday, November 20, 2017, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Location: 5008 E. 10th Avenue Tampa, Fl 33619
  • Cost: $9 per child
  • Website: http://www.bounceboy.net/

Movement Monday at Play-Dates

Disney’s The Little Mermaid

  • When: Monday, November 20, 2017, 1:00 pm and 7 pm
  • Location: University Area Community Center 14013 North 22nd Street Tampa, Florida 33613
  • Cost: Tickets start at $12
  • Website: https://www.dearmoncast.com/tickets

Craft Class: Thanksgiving Crafts at Learning Express Toys of Citrus Park

  • When: Monday, November 20, 2017, 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
  • Location: Learning Express Toys of Citrus Park: Westfield Citrus Park Mall, 7814 Citrus Park Town Center Mall Tampa, FL 33625
  • Cost: Free
  • Website: https://learningexpress.com/stores/citrus-park

Thanksgiving STEM Challenge at Play-Dates

Flower Pot Turkey at Learning Express Toys – South Tampa

Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017 Events

Family-Oriented Programs at Hillsborough Co Public Libraries

We Rock the Spectrum Open play

Pasco County Library Events for Kids and Teens

Kraftologee Story & Crafts

Family Fun Nights at Sky Zone

Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017 Events

We Rock the Spectrum Open play

Arts/Crafts Wednesday at Play-Dates

  • When: Wednesday, November 22, 2017, 10:30 am
  • Location: 1040 E. Bloomingdale Avenue, Valrico, Florida 33596
  • Cost: Free with paid admission

All Ages Open Studio at Pinot’s Palette Brandon

Parent & Me Ice Skating at Ice Sports Forum

Thanksgiving Camp at My Gym Brandon

  • When: Wednesday, November 22, 2017, 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
  • Location: 2060 Badlands Drive, Brandon, FL 33511
  • Cost: Non-members – $33 per half-day (4 hours) Members – $31 per half-day (4 hours)
  • Website: https://www.mygym.com/brandon/camp

Thanksgiving Day Events

2017 Tampa Bay Times Turkey Trot

FishHawk Turkey Trot 2017

Goody Goody Turkey Gobble

Waterset Turkey Trot 2017

Friday, Nov. 24, 2017 Events

Christmas Events Kickoff, check listings here: https://everydaymomssite.wordpress.com/2017/11/05/5735/

Simplistic little “me”

Hello? Is it me you’re looking for….

Let’s talk about that word. ME.
Such a short, simple word. But is it simple?
For moms, at least this mom, thats a hard NO.

It’s so easy to lose yourself in this parenting job. Everyone else comes first. Always.
I’ve found myself going without even when we have the means, and the time (rarely). We go without sleep, showers (shaving), hot food, clean clothes…. all while functioning solely because of the coffee we reheated 3 times and then drank cold because we finally gave in to reality.

We are the center of the whole family! Why should we go without?

I’ve been on a ME kick lately. On a normal basis, I would feel guilty about this but guess what?? I DON’T!! I deserve it. I’m worth it.

I have been neglecting myself for far too long. I’m a mommy of 2. I’m done having kids (hubs got snipped). I’m done with the Mom rut. So, so done.

My daughter recently wanted to look through my Instagram photos, so we did. We looked back to before my second kid when I had gotten my groove back, we looked alllllll the way back to before ANY kids. I was cute! I dressed nice, I wore makeup and did my hair and felt good about myself. I took selfies. A Lot of selfies. But they were cute!
I went back to that current day, month, few months, year….. no selfies. No photos of me AT ALL except for when my mom visited last April.
What the heck??? Where AM I?
Seriously, where am I? I’ve lost myself for a second time.

I’d been putting off buying new glasses because someone else always needed something. Still wearing undies from before kid #1, haven’t had my hair done since I was pregnant with my second who is about to be a year old….

Here’s what I did.

 

4DF5AD18-4D14-4F36-B04F-4FA1F0F14EC2

“For the first time in forever….”

I got new glasses.
I bought new mf panties.
I did my hair!!!!
I got some new clothes and revamped my closet (see previous blog post).
I made plans for myself with no kids (this is almost as big as the panties, y’all).

ME, ME, ME!!!!

47720918-8E2E-4BC7-8B05-B02E43FF48E5

There is nothing wrong with doing me.
I’m going to KEEP doing me.

No more losing myself. I may not be the same exact person I was before kids (I certainly do not strive to be that version of myself), but it’s high time I figured out who I am NOW. Today.

I’m not JUST a mom. (Even though I love being a mom). It does not fully define me, AND THAT IS OKAY.

 

 

Becky Phillips
Stay at home mom of 2

1731A1BA-0CAA-4763-968A-4450E3E76194

You can find more of my posts on Workingwifemommalife.wordpress.com