Happy 2nd Birthday thisgratefulmama! Top 10 Posts Written in Year 2

Happy Birthday thisgratefulmama

Well it happened. Somewhere in-between prepping for baby number 3, soccer and an urgent care visit with our son, thisgratefulmama blog turned 2!

Yesterday.

And I missed it.

Whoops! If WordPress hadn’t sent me a Happy Birthday email that I opened this morning…well, it may have passed unbeknownst to me, and to you.

It has been a busy two years, and I am grateful for them.

Writing here has been a much-needed creative outlet and joy! I’m excited for year 3 and hope you are too.

To commemorate the occasion, I’ve compiled the most popular posts written in year 2.

THANK YOU for being the readers who made the posts popular, and who have given encouragement and feedback along the way.

Enjoy!

Top 10 Posts Written in Year 2

  1. Infant Silent Reflux is NOT Silent: My Experience Nursing and Caring for Our Hurting Son During His First Year
  2. Infant Silent Reflux Is Not Silent – 10 Survival Tips for Parents When Your Child Does NOT Sleep
  3. A Couples Wedding Shower
  4. The thisgratefulmama 2015 Twin Cities Summer Bucket-List (70+ Toddler & Preschooler-Friendly Places To Visit)
  5. It Takes a Village {to Raise a Child With Food Allergies}…And This One’s Fantastic
  6. Come On, Mama! Tell THAT Voice To Take A Hike And Wear Your Swimsuit!
  7. Master Bedroom Update: The Great Paint and Curtain {In}Decision
  8. Big News
  9. White Knees and Blue Jeans…
  10. My Heart May Burst

Simple Teacher Valentines

Simple Teacher Valentines | thisgratefulmama.com

Our son is celebrating Valentine’s Day at school today. He picked out sport-themed valentines. He was very excited about them, and they were the perfect treat for a nut-free classroom.

Simple Teacher Valentines | thisgratefulmama.com

After signing 20 Valentines, he was ready to be done. However, I wanted to make his teachers something small to recognize the great job that they do.

Unsure of where to start, I decided to see if PicMonkey had any Valentine’s Day art. Lucky me, they have some really cute stuff under their Sweethearts Theme. After looking at what was available, I decided to keep it simple and create heart valentines with a short message.

I ended up making two different hearts with two different messages.

Each valentine is shown below – you can save them to your computer and print them if you’re in need of a teacher valentine. I opened my images with Windows Photo Viewer and used cardstock to print three copies (5×7 size, do not fit to frame).

Thank you Teacher Valentine | thisgratefulmama.com

Number One Teacher Valentine | thisgratefulmama.com

Our son liked the #1 teacher message best and decided to give the same one to each of his three preschool teachers. After cutting the hearts out, they were ready for the little man to sign.

To give the teachers a healthy treat, we punched a hole in the upper left corner of each heart and tied them to cellophane-wrapped red apples.

Easy peasy.

Simple, sweet treats to say thank you to three very special teachers.

Simple Teacher Valentines | thisgratefulmama.com

Happy Valentine’s Day!

It Takes a Village {to Raise a Child With Food Allergies}…And This One’s Fantastic

It Takes a Village To Raise A Child With Food Allergies | thisgratefulmama.com

Allergy parenting requires effort, practice, persistence and vigilance.

And like many parenting challenges, allergy parenting isn’t always an easy job.

Sometimes it is a lonely job – sometimes the combination of ‘what ifs’, label reading and substitute-treat-making can weigh us down and consume our thoughts and time.

But this IS a rewarding job.

A smiling child eating a nut-free cupcake with his friends at a birthday party makes that late night baking worth it.

And even the opposite – a child, disappointed they can’t enjoy a treat but safe from a life threatening reaction. Challenging, but STILL worth it. Every day our children stay safe is a reward in itself. A job well done. Prayers answered.

We are not alone in this. And, we allergy parents are not the only parents striving to keep our children safe from potential harm, whatever it may be.

Having a peanut and tree nut allergic child has opened my eyes to the great lengths those in our community will go to in order to protect just one child. Often, attention goes to those who refuse to accommodate an allergy – but in my experience those who take such a stance are few. 

In reality, most people in this community strive to protect any, and every child.

My child.

Your child.

In our community, examples of people who have gone above and beyond to protect our son are endless and often leave me choked up just thinking about them.Today the attention goes to those who DO extraordinary things, sometimes daily for our son and other children:

  • When my mother-in-law calls me from the store to read ingredient labels and confirm what she buys is safe
  • My mom often takes extra time to make homemade cobbler instead of buying a pie, even when she’s busy
  • My sister does the hair of a baker and trades for magnificent, delicious, professionally made nut-free cakes
  • Friends call ahead to confirm safety of snacks and meals before they come over or we go there
  • Parents help their children wash their hands after they’ve eaten a snack when playing with our kids
  • The preschool director and teachers enforce a nut-free food rule for the program
  • Volunteers and staff from church text questions about safe snacks
  • Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends have learned how to use an Epi-pen and how to read food labels
  • Caregivers listen attentively and read and follow allergy action plans
  • We are included time and time again, even though for many, accommodating us takes some extra effort
  • Friends and neighbors check in before potlucks to tell us what they are bringing is safe for our son – and often point out items they know are not safe to keep me informed
  • A neighbor and daughter with nut allergies looking out for our son, sharing their experiences, doctor recommendations and encouragement
  • Last year we asked our church to pray for our son’s safety and for healing from his allergy. Our prayer note card was returned a year later, signed with dates and names of those who prayed all year long
  • Restaurant managers and chefs patiently answer questions and prepare food safely for our son
  • Friends and family spend time researching safe products on their own
  • People graciously allow me to hang out in their kitchen, reading every food label in sight and asking 20 questions
  • Members of the No Nuts Mom Group (and No Nuts Mom Group of MN) share their experiences and provide invaluable recommendations, advice, prayers, and encouragement – if you are a food allergy parent and NOT part of at least one of these groups, you should really check them out!
  • A neighbor texts me from Target with a picture of a new ‘nut-free’ product
  • And on…and on…

These are examples we have been TOLD about. I am certain there are efforts done silently – without recognition. People spend extra time grocery shopping, doing their own research, and asking questions on behalf of our son.

Family, friends, neighbors, children, parents, educators, church staff and more…I recognize YOUR efforts. YOUR hearts and actions demonstrate love and service to our whole family as we all work to protect children. And you do so willingly and intentionally. With joy – without expressing burden.

Often, steps taken by others to protect our son take me by surprise – unexpected gifts of protection we didn’t ask for but gratefully receive.

But mere words can not adequately express my gratitude. Most days, I find myself gratefully praying blessings over those in our life who have gone out of their way to bless us and to protect our son. Often I am at a loss for words, sitting quietly in the peace of knowing that God knows just how grateful I am even if I can’t adequately express it – grateful to others, grateful to God, grateful beyond grateful.

They say it takes a village to raise a child – it certainly takes a village to keep an allergy child safe.

To all those who keep our child safe – Thank you. Your kindness, thoughtfulness, and efforts often stop me in my tracks. I joyfully thank God for each of you. Even the tiniest gesture means the world to us. You are actively invested in our son’s well-being and your individual and collective efforts matter.

I pray for chances to bless you and your family as you have us. If your family ever faces a challenge and needs a special accommodation, we are happy and ready to help – to go above and beyond as you have for us.

I am grateful for each of you who invest in keeping our child and others in our community safe.

It does take a village.

And from where I sit, THIS village is fantastic.

Thank you.

Happy Birthday thisgratefulmama! (Top 15 Posts From Year One)

happy first birthday thisgratefulmama!

Somehow…it’s been a whole year.

And yet, I can’t believe it’s only been a year.

Admittedly, this began as a bit of an experiment. I wasn’t sure if I would have enough time to post regularly, nor was I sure if I’d have enough content. Ha! As it turns out, I have a lot to say. I realize that to those who have spent time here, the idea of me running out of things to say might be a little funny. Maybe even laughable.

Honestly, I just wasn’t sure about the whole thing. I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy blogging long-term. I didn’t know if anyone would want to read it, or if this site could be at all unique among the millions of other blogs out there.

I perseverated over starting a blog for at least a year before finally taking the plunge. I am so grateful for the outlet this blog provides for me to process and share thoughts and ideas. Blogging brings an unexpected sense of purpose and direction. This may have started as a necessary and self-serving outlet to flush out ideas, but it has become much more than I expected or dreamed it would be.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoy writing. I realize now how much I missed it – and have been surprised by how much I need it.

Every time I click the ‘Publish’ button, I find myself feeling refreshed and energized. I’d call it more of a ‘release’ button.

The publishing of my first post left me anxious, hopeful, excited, and giddy. In the first few weeks I was a stats junky…an addict (which is funny because no one knew the site existed). I was excited when just one person found the blog per day (or initially, per week). Imagine my joy when people not only visited the site but subscribed. I love taking time to check out readers blogs – you are writing some amazing and inspiring stuff!

It has been humbling and fun to see increasing traffic – growth happens sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, but so far, the site is consistently growing. In fact, the number of visitors and page views in the first quarter of 2015 surpassed the traffic from 2014. I’m excited to see what year 2 will bring. Thank you.

During the past year, many of you have blessed me with your feedback. Some of you have written or spoken encouragement and kind words that have brought me to tears. Repeatedly. Thank you to all who have cheered me on and to those who have given both invaluable advice and constructive feedback. Your insight and support have been both impactful and treasured. I’ve been both surprised and honored by each of you who visit the site, and furthermore by those who use their precious time to read, reblog, share and comment.

This blog is pure joy to me, only amplified by each of you.

I hope you’ll keep reading and giving feedback, because I have no intention to stop writing.

The closing words from the very first post are still true today:

The name www.thisgratefulmama.com was chosen because it describes who I am striving to be, regardless of my circumstances. I certainly don’t have it all together, so what you’ll find here is a discussion of honest successes and failures, and hopefully some fun ideas. I hope you enjoy this blog and share your feedback with me.

To commemorate this first birthday, I compiled a list of the top 15 posts you visited over the last 12 months, in descending order of page views.

I am grateful for each of you. Thank you.

Top 15 Posts from thisgratefulmama – Year 1:

  1. I am THAT Allergy Mama: Thank You For Answering My Food Allergy “20 Questions” Before We Get Together
  2. A Laid-back Open House Couples Shower – soon to overtake #1
  3. I am THAT Allergy Mama: Something Good HAS To Come From All Of This…6 Beneficial Life-Skills Our Kids CAN Develop As A Result Of Having A Food Allergy
  4. Infant Silent Reflux is NOT Silent – Our Search For An Answer To Our Baby’s Cries
  5. DIY Painted Console Table: How to Update Furniture with Spray Paint
  6. Thoughts on Christian Persecution in Iraq – Please Pray for the Persecuted
  7. DIY Outdoor Vertical Stencil-Painted ‘Believe’ and ‘Grateful’ Sign
  8. I Chose To Stay Home With My Children – Not To Throw Away My Career
  9. DIY Dinosaur Tails, Dinosaur Spike Party Hats and Favors
  10. 7 DO’s and DON’Ts after your Child’s Public Meltdown
  11. To the Busy Mom: 10 Reasons to Take Better Care of YOU in 2015
  12. Update Furniture You Already Own: DIY Spray Painted Bar Stools
  13. 6 Truths For A Mama-Attitude Adjustment When Our Work Feels Unnoticed
  14. A Salute to Working Moms
  15. Impatient for Patience