Gentle TV Shows for Kids – Part 3: Stella and Sam

If you’re just joining in you may want to also check out Part 1 about the show Tumble Leaf and Part 2 on Puffin Rock.

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Funny how things get so much better whenever we spend a little time together!” – Stella and Sam Theme by Emilie Mover

Stella and Sam is the whimsically animated series, based on the books by Marie-Louise Gay, about a little brother with with fuzzy blonde hair and big sister with curly red hair! The show is sweetly creative, gentle, and full of imaginative adventures in and around their country home.

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Our family enjoys how nonjudgmental the show is. Things aren’t looked at as problems, they’re just things. Stella takes it all in stride and helps her little brother through any difficulties, frustrations, or disappointments. Sweetly, thoughtfully, and creatively!

When Sam is feeling limited by his small size, Stella helps him imagine they’re gaints! Apples are cherries, a caterpillar is a farmer, and you have to be careful not to drop the cow from way up high! To help Sam feel better after subbing his toe, Stella teaches him how to make Laughabet soup, a pot full of things that make Sam laugh!

Stella invents Brother’s Day where she makes a super sweet day full of thoughtfully simple surprises for her little brother, Sam. She even asks the “sky painter” to paint a beautiful sunset for him!

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Stella and Sam play through all seasons, in the rolling hills and woods around their home. Jumping in piles of leaves, playing in the snow, using their imaginations in the spring warmth and the summer heat. They even search for the wind, which the find on top of a hill, there’s plenty of playing outside in nature!

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Stella and Sam also like to play with their neighbor friends, Felix, Ivy, and Owen! On a hot day they imagine they’re on an African safari! Blasting off to an alien planet to find where kiwi’s come from, playing a concert over in the meadow, along with little farm animals! An imagined trip to China, complete with a friendly dragon!

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We adore how simply sweet Stella, Sam, and their friends are! They’re thoughtful and sweet with big imaginations! What shows do you like to watch with your little ones?

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Gentle TV Shows for Kids – Part 2: Puffin Rock

Thanks for tuning in! Hopefully this series will help you find good gentle TV shows for your little ones! These are our family’s favorites! Not too busy, scary, negative, or in your face. They’re gentle, fun, and entertaining stories with sweet characters in beautiful settings.

If you’re just joining us you may want to check out Part 1 about the show Tumble Leaf on Amazon Prime Video.

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On the show Puffin Rock a young puffin named Oona and her little brother, Baba, live with their parents and friends on a tiny but gorgeous island off the coast of Ireland. The textured illustrations have amazing light and color! I would love to hang prints from this beautiful show on our walls!

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Nature facts are beautifully blended with the story through narrations by the hilarious Chris O’Dowd, (IT Crowd, Bridesmaids, Pirate Radio). There are plenty of funny comments for parents to enjoy right along with their little ones! Not to mention the lovely Irish accents!

Whether they’re pretending to be grown up puffins, going on a family trip to an underwater cave, or simply in awe of a murmuration of starlings the adorably sweet characters of Puffin Rock are brilliantly funny and super cute!

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Oona and Baba even help tidy up their burrow by finding new soft things from around the island to replace the old bedding, as a surprise for their parents when they return from fishing.

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The little puffin siblings play with and care for each other, their parents, friends, and anyone come across. Their best friends include Mossy, the pygmy shrew who loves to eat, May the bunny rabbit, and Silky the seal.  They also have nocturnal friends, the owls, and Bernie the hermit crab, their friend and mentor, (who they help find a new shell when his cracks)!

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Flynn the fox has a bit of a grumpy exterior but truly a heart of gold. And the seagulls don’t really get along with puffins, but it’s nothing major. My guy is really sensitive and they don’t bother him much.

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The puffins adventures take them all over land, sea, and sky! From traveling through burrows with bunnies and hedgehogs to swimming through glowing phytoplankton with whales, (on Oona’s first night time trip to the sea by herself because she’s a big puffin now)!

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We’re especially found of the episode where Oona goes around telling all her friends about the supermoon so they can stay up late to watch it together!

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Hope you and your little one enjoy the show as much as we do! I’d love to hear what you think or hear about what shows you like to watch with your family! Please leave a comment below so we can share!

Toddler Weekend Road-trip Adventures

This weekend our little family took an impromptu trip to visit my husband’s family in Evansville. Fox was super excited to see Grandma and Grandpa!

It always takes longer than you think to get out of the house with a toddler and husband so I packed for Fox and I while Russ was at work so we’d be ready to go when he got home.

We always make sure to bring teething necklaces, books, toys, crayons, a coloring book, and snacks for the car ride. A travel bag partially packed with diapers, wipes, diaper cream, portable dvd player & charger is always packed and ready to go. I also downloaded shows on my phone for the car, using my Amazon video app. (A couple Tumble Leaf Episodes, some Peep and the Big Wide World, and the Little Bear movie).

We always aim to travel when Fox’ tank is full; fed, well rested, clean diaper, after some time to run around. I hear some kiddos like to nap in the car, but Fox has never been one of them. Do what works for you and yours.

Long car rides with our little guy have always been tricky, but they’re getting easier as there are more things he can do in his carseat. We listen to music while the fox puppet dances. We watch shows I’ve downloaded onto my phone, read books (especially interactive books like flap-books), and when we’ve done all that and there’s still about a half hour to go we go through daddy’s wallet and get silly.

There were few squirmy moments, wanting out of his car seat to sit in my lap, but it didn’t last long before we found something else to entertain us.

We were super happy to see Grandma and Grandpa! Once we got settled Foxer played pool with them in the pole barn, telling jokes about Grandpa not having any balls down there, (at his end of the table).

While they played Russ and I got to sit and have a conversation, just the two of us, for the first time in a LONG time. It was very nice. People who live close to your family, be grateful!

Toy tractor Grandma found at a yard sale!

Toy tractor Grandma found at a yard sale!

Grandma found a wonderful toy tractor at a yard sale and it was a big hit with Fox, who’s been pretty into construction vehicles lately! He also loves throwing the ball for Abby Girl, their big sweet golden retriever.

On Saturday we went to the Fall Festival! (The 2nd largest outdoor festival in the country, behind Mardi Gras). We ate lots of yummy food and drank apple cider. I rode the merry-go-round with Fox and we played a few games. He especially liked the rubber duckies that went around on the water in a loop. He won a stuffed cheetah and a colorful little soccer ball! But it was super crowded and with all the sights and sounds it was a bit of sensory overload for a toddler. We didn’t stay too long, but it was certainly a memorable experience!

Believe it or not Fox enjoyed his first merry-go-round!

Believe it or not Fox enjoyed his first merry-go-round!

That night, while we were playing in the pole barn again a little black kitten came up to the door! She was super sweet and let us all pet her. The following morning she was on the front porch. We asked around and found that she didn’t have a home. So Russ and I agreed to bring her back home with us! Her name is Jiji, (from Kiki’s Delivery Service), and she is possibly the snuggliest and most playful kitty I’ve ever met! Perfect for Fox!

Bringing Jiji home!

Bringing Jiji home! Can you spot the kitty?

After getting Jiji settled back home we went to Musgrave Orchard for our friend’s 30th birthday party. It was the perfect Fall day for it and the orchard was gorgeous! They even had live music, with fiddle, playing on the patio for the party. Love that we have a place like that so close to home! Fox loved exploring their walking trail and checking out all the apples, pumpkins, and flowers.

Musgrave Orchard & Cider Mill

Musgrave Orchard & Cider Mill

We all had such a wonderful time and are looking forward to our next trip to visit family and to the orchard! What special Fall activities do you like to do?

Must Break

Even though there may be an ever-pressing list of things to do, like all that comes with running an Etsy shop, I’ve learned the hard way how it is imperative to take time to recharge when the opportunity arises.

It may not be often, but it’s necessary. It’s true what they say about a happy woman making a happy home. We are the heart and hearth of our families. If we’re not in a good state, our families aren’t. I have to take the time alone to recharge and center myself. It’s a good thing for all.

Besides, they can always call for me at any point. So I try to enjoy it. However long, (or short), it may be. So I try not to feel guilty or selfish for having the need and taking the time to do what I need to to be whole. Time alone with music and art, reading or writing, making something, putting something together. Weaving thoughts and ideas together, turning them over in my mind. Processing.

Before my break today I was in a charged fog of frustrating anxiety, worrying about money.

Russ got home, I ducked into the bathroom, put my headphones on and worked on this blog post. Alone. For a moment, no demands. Space to think and feel. Recharge.

Being a mom has taught me just how important time alone to recharge is for me. Ever the introvert.

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I stepped out into the backyard to find a sunset picnic dinner made by my guys. Afterwards, Fox wanted to look through the pantry, asking what everything was and where it came from.

With my short, pre-break, fuze I may not have had the patience to talk about each item with him. I would have missed his showing me how much we do have. Thanks for teaching me, little Fox.

Recharging makes me grateful to Russ for taking the lead while I tap out for a spell. Once I’m recharged I’m able to see him with clearer eyes. Apart from all the things on his honey-do list or the veil of my own anxieties. Instead, there are the sweet things I sometimes overhear when the two of them are playing in the other room. Makes my heart smile.

So no guilt. I still keep having to tell myself that. Do you?

Ch ch ch changes!

Big changes have been happening around here, including where “here” is!

At the beginning of the month we finally moved from our apartment to a charming 1920’s bungalow! My little guy wakes up in the mornings and exclaims, “the sun’s back up! We can go outside now!”

IMG_1048We love playing on our front porch and in our fenced-in back yard! It’s so amazing what difference having an outdoor space makes. On move-in day we had a little picnic lunch in our backyard and marveled how it really is a little slice of heaven.

Fox in the GardenWe even have four raised garden beds! Our new neighbor’s mom stopped by and taught me all about the herbs growing there and how to harvest and dry them; lavender, sage, thyme, mint, and oregano! There are also a couple tomato plants and a little strawberry bush! In the spring we plan to grow lots more veggies as well.

It’s been years since I gardened as a child with my parents and I’m thrilled to have the space to pick it back up again and share it with my son. He loves to play in the yard or water the flowers while I weed, prune, and harvest herbs. Quite therapeutic getting my hands dirty with earth.

We’ve sighted so many wonderful creatures and plants around our new space too. Hummingbirds, butterflies, chipmunks, squirrels, goldfinches, a hawk, and a big green mantis! There are several Rose of Sharon bushes around the house and a lovely vine of purple Morning Glory along the back fence.

It’s also wonderful to have storage space in our basement, along with a washer and dryer of our own. Toting our laundry up a floor to the shared coin laundry room in our apartment building was tiresome. Especially for an introverted perfectionist like me. Who wants to put on make-up just to do laundry?

When our little guy came into our lives, my painting studio/sewing room became his nursery. Now that our house has three bedrooms, I have my studio back! It’s in the back of the house with windows to the side the backyard. So very inspiring to have my own space to create in.

New StudioSince going all out for the Baby Fair in March, I’ve been scaling it back and focusing on my family. Rejuvenating. Now I feel a fresh surge of creative energy and the motivation to keep it going.

IMG_1166Last week it became clear that I had no choice but to leave my job. I was treated very poorly and undoubtedly undervalued, but it has set me free to do what I’ve yearned for for years. I’m now pouring myself into our home, family, and my Etsy business full time. It feels like coming back to life. There have been so many positive signs that this is right path for my life and my family. So much serendipity. I should have some exciting news to share in a few days actually. Can’t wait to share it all with you!

So as I’ve decided to throw perfectionism to the wind you’ll be hearing from me much more in the coming weeks and months. Lots of amazing things to come!

The Hummingbird symbolizes great courage, determination, flexibility and adaptability. This little beauty is only a few ounces in weight, yet has the courage of a lion. Indeed size is of no consequence…The Hummingbird symbolizes the respect of territories, protecting and enforcing your boundaries, the need to be feisty if needed to protect your boundaries and what is yours. [They] remind us that there are times when we have to make a difficult journey to get to the destination of our goal, there will be obstacles, symbolizing the need for endurance and perseverance. Hummingbird challenges you to say “yes I can”, and believe it will be done.

In the works

Today I went through my fabric and pulled all I could use for nursing necklaces. I knew I had some, but was delighted to see the bin-full I was able to gather.

Fox enjoyed helping me go through it, snuggling the fabric pile on the floor. How could I resist a snuggle break?

fabric snuggles

As I was gathering supplies, I stumbled upon ways to improve my work space so what I need is close at hand. I got out a lidded box for precut fabric pieces, emptied a small vintage suitcase for my ribbon and beads, and brought out my thread pegboard to hang on the wall above my desk.

I was also able to fine-tune my business card design and get them ordered. Yay, progress!

I called to catch up with my mom, telling her I just needed to buy wooden beads and ribbon and I’d be ready to get cracking on some nursing necklaces. As luck would have it she has boxes and boxes of exactly that in her craft supply stash!

A few years ago she attended an auction at a craft supply store that was going out of business. Being the crafty Girl Scout leader she was, she bid on what she thought was a single shelf of supplies. However, upon winning she discovered it was actually for the entire shelf. Top to bottom. But I digress.

After Fox wakes from the nap he’s currently taking, I’ll be getting the fabric ready for when the beads and ribbon arrive next week. So thrilled to be making headway while still being able to break for naps, nursing, reading, and snuggles with my sweet little guy.

My Breastfeeding Journey

 

While it hasn’t always been easy, it was important to me to get breastfeeding to work for us. We’ve had our share of bumps in the road, but I’m delighted to say we’ve made it to 16 months with no signs if stopping.

This is our story.

 

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The day my son was born a lactation consultant visited our hospital room and taught me how to hand express colostrum and feed it to him with a flexible little cup. Throughout our stay various lactation consultants helped us learn about proper latch and gave us bottle/nipple recommendations for a breastfed baby who was still getting the hang of it. They taught me how to use a breast pump and got me set up pumping for 15 minutes every 2 hours, around the clock.

I am exceedingly grateful for lactation consultants.

Since he was jaundiced we had to set alarms to wake him up for feedings. And we had to keep him awake long to get enough to eat. Tickling him or removing his swaddling blanket.

We had to use donor milk for a couple days, to help get his bilirubin levels down, while waiting for my milk to come in.

I’d wake up my husband and have him start warming a bottle while we’d try to nurse. He’d usually get too frustrated and need the bottle, but sometimes we’d get a good latch and he’d nurse for 15 minutes to an hour.

I continued pumping for about two weeks. I was so exhausted I remember closing my eyes, for just a moment, while pumping and instantly dreaming. I also recall feeling a bit like a cow, hooked up to that machine when I just wanted to hold my baby. (My hat’s off to exclusively pumping mamas).

12 days after his birth, he had a bottle in the morning then successfully nursed the rest of the day. And he hasn’t had a bottle since.

At first I could only nurse sitting up, with the football hold, but we gradually transitioned into the cradle hold and I was excited to learn about laid-back breastfeeding from The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. That was a game changer for us. Especially at night. Being able to nurse while lying down meant I could latch him on and go back to sleep, barely having to wake at all.

Once we got on a roll, our biggest hurdle was managing my over supply and overactive let down. My little guy would often arch his back and cry while nursing. It was awful not knowing what was wrong or what to do to make it better.

My husband and I tried to determine the issue and remedy online, but found contradictory advice.

In desperation I called the WIC breastfeeding line and left a voicemail for the WIC peer counselor. She returned my call shortly after, listened to my story and gave me some suggestions to try before our appointment.

I also made a lactation consultation appointment at BABS. It was there we discovered my little guy had a tongue and lip tie. Fortunately it was minor enough that he was still able to get a good latch and, since he was gaining well and nursing wasn’t hurting me, we decided not to have it lasered. It merely caused him to nurse more often, since he’d get tired with the extra effort of moving his tongue.

I learned that block feeding was the answer to our oversupply issue. (Keeping him on one side for a time, still nursing as often as he wanted, then switching to the other side for the same length of time). I had been trying that at 2 hour intervals already, but I had to gradually increase the time I kept him on one side until I was at 5 hours. I think it took about a month to get my supply under control after implementing my block feeding plan with my lactation consultants.

You might think that oversupply would be a good problem to have, (FEED ALL THE BABIES), but in addition to a fussy baby, it made for plugged ducts and mastitis. Luckily the remedy to those issues is more nursing, (and antibiotics for mastitis). What a beautiful design!

At 16 months, we’re still nursing on demand, often to and during sleep. Not only for nutrition, (along with solids), but also for comfort and bonding.

My soft goal is three years. That’s how long my mom nursed me. We’ll continue to nurse as long as he wants to.

My story is not meant as a substitute for professional advice. Everyone is different. If you or someone you know is experiencing difficulty breastfeeding I highly recommend making an appointment with a lactation consultant.