Taste Safe Play: DIY Gingerbread Playdough

It’s the most wonderful time of the yearrrr!

I haven’t been excited for the holidays in God knows how long but it is truly something magical about having a toddler around the holidays. There’s 15 days left until Christmas and I am pushing through all my grief, anxiety, and overall “cold weather” blues and aiming to give my baby a great Christmas while giving y’all some great content! First up, we have some sensory play ’cause y’all know how I get down!

I believe that playing is the key to life and since we have all our senses, we might as well use them. Chaotic Cutie- formerly known as Bean- is really into making messes and playing with her hands (albeit she hates being dirty ???) so we made some “Gingerbread Dough”! You can jump to the recipe or watch us make it over on Youtube.

Smells soooo good!!

C.C. had SUCH a blast helping me make this, then playing with it and I had so much fun watching her flex her independence. My mom and grandma have almost always had her in the kitchen with them and it is truly one of our favorite bonding activities. She provides sooo many laughs and moments of calmness while chaotically mixing and stirring ingredients; every kitchen should have space for a kid. This was our first holiday themed activity and it was so worth the dough that got in her hair, alphabet rug, and all on our skin!

Shoutout Pinterest recipes

Gingerbread Dough

Serving Size:
As much as you want
Time:
10 mins
Difficulty:
Easy Peasy

Ingredients

  • Flour 1 cup
  • Salt 1/2 cup
  • Ginger (or Nutmeg, lol) 1/2 tbsp
  • Cinnamon 1/2 tbsp
  • Vegetable Oil 1 tbsp
  • Water 1/2 cup

Directions

  1. Mix all of your dry ingredients in a plastic or metal bowl. I let C.C. use a whisk but a regular mixing spoon will do.
  2. Slowly add in your vegetable oil and water. Let your child help you stir and watch the dough clump together.
  3. Sprinkle a sheet of foil, parchment paper, or your counter with some flour and spread the dough around.
  4. Let your child help you knead the dough until it is a playable consistency.
  5. Play and enjoy the gingerbread smell!

If you make some “Gingerbread Dough”, tag me on Instagram @THEHOTYOUNGMOM & show me what you and your baby made! Enjoy!

Christmas with The CauGlaManShis

There are FIFTEEN days till Christmas and I am SOOOOOOOO excited!!! I have not been happy for the holidays in so so so long! Like, seriously.

I thought last year- C.C.’s 1st Christmas- was going to be this overwhelmingly joyous occasion anddd it wasn’t, lol. I quickly came to realize that being a mom on Christmas is wayyy different than being a child- go figure, right? Anyway, last year I was overwhelmed with all of the family we had to see so this year I’m getting a headstart on my anxiety and stress. Keep reading for my top 5 Holiday Hustle Anxiety Beaters and let me know if any of these come in handy when dealing with YOUR family this holiday season!

Screenshot & save this for an easy reminder!

First up, BOUNDARIES!!! I see this allll the time in my mom groups and inner circle- new or first time moms stressing about how to tell Granma, Uncle, Dad that Baby makes the rules and the rest of us get in where we fit in. Ok, not literally but basically. It is VERY stressful to be the only, or one of the only, people in your family that doesn’t pop, force public displays of affection, gratitude, or fake positivity; trust me, I know. However, stress does not mean succumb! If you set a rule for your family then you stand on that rule and enforce it. Full stop! My favorite way to assert my boundaries is by repeating it simply then saying “Which one of us got the stitches?!” with a light laugh. That simple phrase lets my family- and myself & child- know that I’m not going to repeat myself and that the boundary has been set. Find you a “stitches” phrase and practice it before you get into the Holiday Hustle.

Next up, GIFTS! Do NOT let social media, extravagntly showy family, or even “ungrateful” (we’ll talk about this later) kids bully you into going into debt over Christsmas gifts! If you’re a last minute mommy like so many others: pace yourself! Your child does not need every “cute” thing that you see or they pick up. (Talking to myself here!) Since having Bean and seeing how outwardly loved and spoiled she is, I decided to take a Montessori approach to gift giving. First and foremost, see what your kid actually plays with and what piques their interest. Do they have 1-3 of these toys or items that are working, can be fixed, or are still age appropriate? If so, don’t buy another. Secondly, make a list. The list should consist of: Something to WEAR, Something to READ, Something they NEED, Something they WANT, and Something to DO. Now, you can choose the numbers of each item but I’ll start doing 5 Wears (Clothes, pjs, shoes), 4 Needs, 3 Wants (can be 1 big ticket item + 2 small), 2 Reads, and 1 Do (zoo trip). I also rotate her toys out almost monthly so she’ll be opening some birthday presents for Christmas while some Christmas presents go outside until next month. Rotating toys keeps them fresh, in good shape, and prolongs your child’s excitement for the toy.

Let’s talk PLAYING, yea? If you know me, you know I’m a goofball. Literally all I do is laugh- there is a reason for that! I get past my fears and anxiety by cracking a joke or finding a laughable deflector. I tell everybody to “laugh through the horror” cause it really does help. When your family is dog piling your parenting style, child’s behavior, weight, etc just laugh and say something snarky in response. They’ll either catch the hint and back off right then or they won’t but at least you’ll have gotten your quip in and can feel a bit better about yourself. When your child’s behavior is driving you straight up the tree, get eye level with them and just start playing. Grab a toy, ask for a hug then grab them up into a bear hug, wrestle, play PattyCake, whatever you have to do to PLAY! Laughter and childlike play give your brain and emotions a moment to calm down and regulate. Try it!

Ok now on to the Santa in the room- behavior. First, it’s important to remember that there are NO BAD KIDS just bad behavior and that misbehavior is miscommunication. Your child is not taking all the ornaments off the tree to spite you; they’re probably bored and exploring cause and effect. Give them something to throw and practice placing and removing. Dollar Tree has great felt trees for this and you can see them in action on my Instagram. If you’re taking pictures with Santa and your child hits him or starts crying, jump in and consider your child’s emotions. Are they possibly (likely) uncomfortable, anxious, or outright scared? Think of how you would feel if you were forced to flick it up with a stranger while your caregiver stood by and laughed. Are you at grandma’s house and baby or toddler or child won’t stop touching stuff? Are they maybe exploring all of the new things Grandma has set out for Christmas? Probably. Does that make it okay for them to touch, and possibly break, these things though? No. Ask Grandma for a safe place out of the child’s reach to put the most important decorations. For the things that can’t be moved, try to create a barrier around them or watch for what sensory pleasure the item is giving. Is the pinecone a cool new texture that can be recreated or satiated by going outside? Are the wrapped presents making a cool crinkly sound that can be recreated by crumbling foil or scrap wrapping paper? I bet it can.

Moral of the story: get in front of the behaviors you don’t want to see, your and your child’s comfort is more important than an elder’s hurt feelings, play and laugh through every obstacle, and enjoy the holidays. Nothing is ever as bad as it seems when you get through it. I’ll be checking on you!

Unloved, Unworthy, Understood

Trigger Warning: I’m about to talk about sexual assault. It will likely not get graphic but if you can’t stomach talks about sexual assault or rape. do not proceed. Thank you, in advance, for reading and letting me get this off my chest.

(insert a multitude of emojis, gifs, & memes that display anxiety. This is some scurry shit to write!)

Ight so check it… I was raped in my own house 3 (maybe 4? I don’t harp on the date) years ago. Literally, on a couch that my family owned, in a place where I should have felt strong enough to say no; I was raped.

I have only said that out loud maybe three times since it happened. I have typed it online twice before now. I still can’t come to accept that it happened to me- by somebody I knew and trusted. That someone who I loved platonically and maybe would have had consensual sex with took my power from me. In my own home. And I didn’t tell anybody until almost a year or two later. And I laughed (nervously) when I said it; as if laughter was going to ease the pain that I had been carrying.

I laughed when I spoke my horror and let the laughing emojis carry my story to eyes and ears that would have, otherwise, never known. As if laughter was the cure all. I wish I could laugh through this again. I wish my laughter and nervous giggles could take me far beyond this place of trauma and unworthiness. I might need to laugh again.

I thought I was over this. I thought I had laughed the feelings of disgust, distrust, & betrayal to the depths of my soul. I think they’ve resurfaced and forgot to bring the laughter with them. Sigh. I don’t think I can laugh my way into trusting a new person with my love, my body, my loyalty. And quite frankly, I never did. Where I thought I was healed and “over it”, I found myself in the arms of my baby daddy. Someone I knew already- could catch his cues & knew his ticks- and trusted. Here I was calling myself running game when the game was running me. Ain’t that some shit?! To think you’re healed when really you’re going back to places of comfort… darkness, “Imma get what I need & leave” type spaces. That’s what they never tell you about sexual assault. The recovery is just as brutal as the initial attack. Healing is not linear and every time you think you’re on the up something snatches you back down & connects itself right back to that moment. You stop laughing & running game & being “okay” and realize you’re standing knee deep in that same shit. Ain’t it funny how loud and boisterous unworthiness can be? How he snatches your confidence and your power and dances away with it; arm & arm with low self esteem?

I was raped in my own home and I’m scared to trust again. That’s my first time typing that sentence out. I’ll yell it to the moon later today. My dignity was stripped from me and now I’m fighting to get it back. To understand me again and do it with a baby on my hip, while parenting with somebody who used to be my comfort. Ain’t it funny how loud and giggly and obnoxious life can be?

Hurt People, Hurt People

My grandma popped my baby. That’s it, that’s the story.

My grandmother popped my baby & I LOST! MY! SHIT! I couldn’t see past my triggers and I lost it! The helpless and scared kid in me jumped out and was front and center to defend my child; cause if I say “don’t hit my baby” that’s what I mean.

Here’s the thing though- while asserting boundaries and breaking curses you have to be considerate. Insane concept right? I have to be considerate of people who want to, or could potentially, harm my baby? You must be crazy! Except, it’s not that crazy of a concept. I have to remind myself that while this is the right journey for us, it is also a very new one.

My grandma popped my baby and I LOST! MY! SHIT!

I still can’t believe it almost a month later. I blacked out on my grandma over my child! (Sidenote: I’ll do it again, to anybody, bout my baby’s boundaries and body!) After the fact, I cried. I cried so hard 1: because “WTF I just spazzed on my grandma???” 2: because I was triggered and seeing red and 3: because “GOT DAMMIT how hard is it to not hit a baby?! MY baby at that??” I felt bad but I had to prove to my daughter that I will ALWAYS go up for her and that nobody and no thing can shake that or change that… right?

In defending my baby, my actions, and my inner child I made my grandmother cry; and that’s not a soft lady, ok! I was hurting so I reverted back to the very behaviors I’ve been trying to run from and unlearn- yelling, cussing, crying to guilt trip. How can I model “connection before correction” if my go-to in adult interactions is flying off the handle? I cried and realized I had the tools to make this right. If I want to stick to this positive discipline thing I can’t just reserve the tools for children- my child. So, I cried until I fell asleep and I woke up ready to apologize. I’m not used to apologizing, or apologies, after a lash out. I have something to prove, though. So I apologized. I did exactly what I would do to Bean, to my grandma; eye contact, nervous laughter (cause that’s my thing), and I apologized. I can’t break curses and shake up the violent lineage without offering grace to everyone around me and starting at the top of the line. So I apologized. I gave my grandma a hug and bellowed the biggest, most sincere “sorry” I had and I made sure my child saw it; because hurt people, hurt people but healed people heal nations.

I‘m trying to heal nations and generations. I’ve got a lot of work to do but it starts at home. Literally. This is your reminder that it’s never too late to start healing; you just have to be consistent. If you’re ready to make a shift in the atmosphere (Gospel geeks, where u at?), join me in my upcoming 6 week “Wash, Rinse, Repeat” Positive Discipline course. Sign up below for more information!

If Yo Girl Only Knew

I wish I knew that:

1: Every day will not be sunshine & rainbows. In fact, you might outright hate motherhood and that’s okay!

2: There is no smooth transition from woman to mom. And it sucks.

3: Self-care is no longer easy.

4: This is your journey and yours alone. YOU are the mother.

5: Spending time with JUST your baby is important. Seriously.

6: You are not bitter for being heartbroken, disappointed, or saddened by the way your child’s father treated you. You have every right to feel those feelings.

I wish I knew that. I’ve been sitting on this post for months. I like reminding myself of what was and what could’ve been. I keep having to remind myself of what was and what could be.

I coulda been a hairstylist, working all kinda hours in all kinda places, for whatever price I deemed reasonable. I can still be one. I coulda been a bottle girl, in college classes, all in the clubs having fun. I can still have fun and go to college. I coulda been an influencer- a “IG baddie”- linking up with anybody my daddy (& beauty!) could’ve connected me; taking trips, doing whatever I wanted. I can still leverage my beauty and my connections and “get to a bag” through Instagram. I just gotta do it with a baby on my hip.

I’ve been mourning “me” so much this past year but how dare I? Seriously. How dare I miss the young carefree girl who was just waking up and going? Why would I wanna be her ever again? (Hint: ’cause that carefree sh!t is FUN!!) I’ve really had to sit and grapple with the fact that I’m never going to be the me that I thought I was, and was going to be. That that’s okay and that this new me is someone I can love AND like, too. I wish somebody would’ve gave it to me straight- “you’re growing your own new life, too, not just that baby’s. Your birth is not just your baby’s; it’s yours too.” I don’t even know if I would’ve listened, but it would’ve been something nice to remember hearing. Your birth is not just your baby’s; it’s yours too. When you birth that baby, you’re birthing a new you. A you you may not like at first. A you you have to relearn and rediscover; somebody who might not like what you used to like and might like what you used to hate. You’re birthing and creating a new you. Own that shit! Walk in it. Dig your heels into this upgraded version of you and embrace her. Find what she likes and fall in love with yourself again. Own! That! Shit!

Why Not Play?

My mom is always telling me I need to “work on my poker face so Bean doesn’t think everything is funny.” Well, here’s the thing, everything IS funny- to me, at least. I literally get through my days by laughing and playing.

I need laughter. I need humor and good times and foolishness and fun in my day to day. I tried to work on my poker face but for what? Why can’t I laugh when my baby is doing something funny and silly? Who says it’s bad to laugh while also setting boundaries and being “firm”? Will Bean take everything for a joke or will she one day learn to assert herself and boundaries, even in fun moments?

Yes, she will, actually think everything is funny AND she will be disciplined! Go figure.

There is a parenting approach called “play-based parenting” and it generally follows the child’s lead; allowing them to create and solve problems for themselves while strengthening their emotional and social development. I know you’re probably rolling your eyes and thinking “not another one of those parenting styles! That’s that new-age parenting!!” But it’s not! Play-based parenting directly aligns with the Montessori lifestyle and Positive Discipline. NAEYC says “rough and tumble play—has been shown to promote early brain development.” There is a method to childcare centers’ “madness” and their love of play centers, after all. Playing helps children learn emotional regulation, social skills, social cues, problem-solving, and conflict resolution-among other things. Play-based parenting, or just playtime with a caregiver involved, teaches children that they are fun to be around and fun to engage with. It builds emotional intelligence and boundaries. Fifteen minutes of play is really all you need to create lasting memories and help build your child’s brain better than any book ever could!

So I said all that to say: Sorry mom, I’m actually not going to work on my poker face! I’m going to keep laughing my way through my frustration and turning on my most goofy face when I need to power through a tantrum; because my baby needs it and I need it. In Sunday’s post (and all weekend on Instagram *wink wink*) I’ll be sharing some of my favorite ways to play with Bean and how I “laugh through our loco”! See you there and remember to keep on laughing!

P.S. Check out the links below for some articles to support play-based learning!

https://www.naeyc.org/our-work/families/10-things-every-parent-play

https://www.naeyc.org/resources/pubs/yc/may2017/case-brain-science-guided-play

Hide Me Mommy

Warning: this will be kind of long. I’m not apologizing.

It is 5 am, I’ve had no sleep, and I’ve decided that sharing Bean with the public IS actually anxiety inducing and not something I’m 100% comfortable with. If you’re reading this and wondering if that means you need permission to share her going forward, yes. Yes you do; whether it be from me or her in the future.

I battled with myself and the idea of sharing her my entire pregnancy. How can I teach her consent while sharing nearly every part of her life with strangers? My mind took me in circles and constant loops until finally we settled into the idea that “we” would not share her whole name or her entire birth details, her whole face, or her arrival into this world until it had been a couple days. I was okay with that and everybody else was, too. And then… I was no longer okay with that and it was time to either A: tell people what the new rules were or B: suck it up & power through-because I had a vision in mind. I went with B. I sucked it up and powered through unprovoked online harassment and hacked zoom calls; because I had a vision. I thought my story was bigger than that and that’s not where it was to end, so I kept on.

I swallowed the anxiety that came with her grandmas having Facebook albums dedicated to her and aunties posting her every time they got a new picture of her. I let it be okay- so much so that I even started a blog where SHE was the main focus. I let it be okay! And it was, it really really was… until it wasn’t. I argued with myself and I watched for the way my baby acted around cameras and she seemed ok with them? She started to notice herself in a selfie and SMILE!! She was alright with being on the camera! I was alright too, I thought. I kept doing the mom blogger thing and I was doing it WELL and it was all good; until I realized I was sharing the same pictures everywhere and to everyone. There were no “exclusive” photos to her dad or grandparents or aunts and uncles, no difference between Instagram & Twitter & Facebook. That seemed like a solid plan in my head. How could she be embarrassed or humiliated if only the same pictures are showing across the board? Then I was reminded how evil people on Twitter, especially, are when a “rapper” compared a young black girl to a corpse. I was gutted and triggered; sent back to that time that random white man clowned me, playing a baby shower game, and said something alluding to me eating shit. I was playing a traditional baby shower game. That was enough though; enough for me to stop and rethink everything. How could I put my daughter in harm’s way like that? How could I give someone the opportunity to EVER “drag” her like that? I can’t… so, I didn’t.

I got real cautious about what I posted and said to people. I combed my socials to make sure my baby was “cute”- as if that other child wasn’t. As if “cute” stopped wretched people from being wretched. I started seeing posts about “privacy before consent” and “ask your friends before you post their baby”; things that validated my feelings. Then I wondered if it was divine timing or me just seeing what I wanted to see, what I needed to see, to validate me. Was I really becoming a private person or was I letting social media and strangers get to me? Am I really protecting her or am I projecting onto her? Surely she won’t turn 18, or 10 or 11, and suddenly become embarrassed by all the cute moments I’ve shared of her. Surely her first successful sign language session won’t be a source of embarrassment and anxiety… But what if it is? How will I rectify that and give myself the grace necessary to go forth and heal her?! I’m struggling with all the “what ifs” and since she and I come first, I’m making an executive decision to “hide her from the world”. To wipe her digital footprint clean from here on out. Here’s to giving me peace of mind and her, some privacy and protection. The world is scary enough as is, the internet doesn’t need to be too.

I sincerely regret coming to this decision and feeling these feelings but if you take nothing else from this, take this: be kind to strangers. Watch what you say. Children are off limits, always, and you should be honored to even have access to people’s families in this day and age. Go touch some grass and be merry.

Match Me, Mommy

We’re a day away from Halloween and I have 555 costume ideas. We have a very full weekend so I have finally narrowed down my top three ideas for the last-minute parents like me.

First up: Matching pajamas! They’re simple, cheap, and easy. We got ours from Walmart and found some for everyone in our house; sizes infant & toddler (2T), adult women (M, 1X, and 2X). We wore ours to Bean’s daycare for her Fall Festival and despite it being cold out, we stayed incredibly warm! Go Walmart!

Next up are mermaids. I put a costume for myself together with this seashell bra and this very cute and comfy mermaid skirt; both from Amazon. I found an accompanying headband and faux rhinestones from Dollar Tree that I’ll be pairing with my costume. I got Bean a custom crotcheted full-body mermaid outfit from Etsy. I love Tiffany! She is an awesome woman and creator and her talent exceeds expectations every time!

My grandma bought Beanie a “rainbow witch” costume from Walmart and in true matchy mommy fashion, I thrifted this really cute dress. I’ll probably pair the dress with a plain black floppy hat and some long press-on nails in similar colors to Bean’s leggings. These will probably be our Disney On Ice costumes since we’re sitting by the ice and it’ll be cold.

How are you dressing your baby or babies up this year? Will you match at all?

Feel It Friday

Fridays are reserved for feeling!

Today has been full of sensory play and fresh air! The weather here in Cali is still pretty nice so Bean & I took advantage by picking some tomatoes from our garden and then playing with this quick & easy sensory tray I made 👩🏾‍🔬

My grandma was cleaning out the silverware drawer last night and Beanie took a particular liking to this old silverware tray so we reused it today got our sensory play! The multiple slots made for an even more engaging and challenging play experience as she had to figure out how to position her hands and toys to remove and replace them.

Anywho! It took me all of about five minutes to make this sensory tray so here are the details:

For the colored rice, I just took some plain white rice, a dash of water, and some yellow and red food paint and mixed it together! The water beads were purchased at my local dollar tree and after adding some water and yellow food coloring they were ready to sit for about 4-6 hours. I did them overnight so they would be good and ready for us the next day! While on one of my weekly trips to Dollar Tree, I also snagged those super cool eyeballs, foam (and glittery!) skeleton heads, faux vampire teeth, AND the animals! I then threw them all in the tray and outside we went!

P.S., The water color play was just some water and the Crayola Bath Fizzies but food coloring would have worked just as well!

As you can see, Miss Bean had a world of fun and this actually held her attention for about 20 minutes. Once she realized the eyeballs could bounce we were on to the next activity- bouncing and chasing eyeballs!

If you try this activity, I’d love to hear about it in the comments or on Instagram @ THEHOTYOUNGMOM 😊 Enjoy your play!

Fall Family Fun


The weather is changing so y’all know what that means; it’s my favorite season! I love all things fall and I’m so glad my Beanie is finally old enough to engage in some fall fun. Below is a list of some toddler-approved, family fun fall activities we love and will be engaging in. Comment below and tell me what your favorite activities are!

Go to a pumpkin patch. Pumpkin patches are generally low cost, visually and sensory stimulating, family fun. I love going and picking my own pumpkins to carve! Some pumpkin patches go all out and include hay rides, corn mazes, and even a small farmer’s market.

Find a local childcare fall festival and stop by to support them! Seriously, go. They are usually so much fun and the staff puts so much time and effort into them.

Fall fests are often hosted by a local organization and are loads of fun; equipped with games, face painting, door prizes, and even enterainment. Yelp or Google a local one and check it out!

School’s sometimes host their own haunted houses and I remeber always having so much fun at our annual ones. It was even more being on the planning committee and watching my community members enjoy our efforts.

Trunk or treats held at local churches are often safe and simple fun that require you just showing up, basically lol.

Bike ride or a picnic. Or both! The weather is nice enough to throw on a light sweater and be out almost all day.

Boo at the Zoo was always super fun for my family, especially on the weekends when costumes are encouraged- and allowed! It’s a fun first time zoo experience for family members of all ages.

I hope these ideas come in handy when you’re trying to plan your next family outing! Let me know, in the comments below or on Instagram THEHOTYOUNGMOM, if you’re going to partake in any fall themed fun!