How to: Discuss Death with a Toddler

We have had a couple deaths in the family in the last year or so, unfortunately. When Jayden was younger it didn’t seem to be such a big deal since he was not asking so many questions. Now at 4 years old, he is full of questions and is very curious. It is also a difficult concept to process so there is a need to keep repeating ourselves as he asks the same questions over and over, in an attempt to understand it.

We have a funeral this week and there has been a lot of discussion leading up to it. My big thing is to keep it very kid-friendly and light. Hubby and I told him that Auntie was very sick (and he has known this for a while now since Grandma was travelling back and forth taking care of her and to visit her lately), and that she is not going to be around anymore, and that she is going to heaven. We explained that at the funeral we are going there to say goodbye, and that some people are going to be sad but that it was OK, that just meant they were going to miss her.

Another thing we have had to work on with him is realizing that this isn’t some vacation we are going on. He needs to know everyone is not there to play with him, and that he needs to keep things more mellow and use an inside-voice. We do realize however that he is a 4 year old, and that there are going to be some loud moments and defiance and we are just going to have to roll with it all and make the best of the situation – this will definitely be a time when electronics (with earphones) and bribery will come in handy 🙂

We love you Aunt D and we will miss you! 

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Toddlers and Chores

Jayden has recently turned 4 years old and we felt it was time to start a chore chart. He used to do chores here and there such as feed the pup, clear his table after a meal, put his dirty clothes in the hamper- but it was more of a spontaneous thing not a requirement. Now we check his chart daily and he is able to put a star on all the things he did.

I purchased a really nice one on Amazon.

Kids Done Right Chore Chart via Amazon.com

This is one that my son and I saw on the show on TLC called “Little Couple”  and he got excited about it. I did a quick search on Amazon, and what do you know it was super easy to find. It is magnetic and dry erase compatible. My favorite part was the fact that it was compact with a sliding drawer to keep all the extra chores and stars. You did not need an extra spot or item to hold them all. There are basic chores to choose from such as Feeding the Pets, Taking out the Trash, Making the Bed, and Brushing Your Teeth which work well for us. But there is also the ability to write directly on the chart with any special chore you may come up with (bummer, but the dry erase marker is not included).

Hubby and I agreed before beginning this process that we would reward him with something each week. Nothing too crazy or expensive, but just enough to keep him excited. We also explained how this chore chart would work to Jayden so he understood all components of it including the reward system. This last week he earned a Paw Patrol toy that he has been wanting (that I had luckily bought with a coupon!). For next week he mentioned possibly earning a Hotwheel set. So far he has missed just one or two in a day and so we also discussed with him that if he did not fill it up as much he would get a smaller reward. He set he bar high on the first week, so hopefully he keeps up the good work.

The chore chart is also a learning process for us parents. Where we would typically just do it for him, we are realizing that we are helping him by teaching him to do things on his own. We will catch each other doing the chores for him and gently remind each other that he won’t get his star if we do it and if we remind Jayden that something needs done, he will typically stop what he is doing to go do it.

This is working well for us! Jayden is very excited to add his stars for the day and will sometimes ask for it earlier in the day – but he has to wait until the end of the day since that was what we had decided on. Having it as the last activity of each day gives us as sense of routine (even on crazy busy days) and this way he also has every chance throughout the day to get his chores done.

Our chore chart includes:

Getting dressed in the morning

Reading a book

Clearing the his table

Doing homework

Feeding the pup

Cleaning up his toys

Brushing his teeth

Getting ready for bed

Very manageable and easy for him to do. And as a bonus, it helps us parents as well 🙂

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How to: Holiday/Birthday (part 4)

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We have finally made it to Christmas!

We celebrate with my husband’s side on Christmas Eve and with my side of the family on Christmas Day. Lots of food, lots of love, lots of presents.

Jayden was so excited to spend the time with his cousins and play with his new toys.

I did not take many pictures because I really tried to remain in the moment and just enjoy being in the company of those I love.

One thing that we did again this year was the Elf on the Shelf. We started this tradition last year, but Jayden did not quite get it yet (so it was easy!). This year I got excited and did a little Pinterest research for some good ideas.

First of all, I made him so much easier to pose by adding a little wire to his arms and legs. I did not have to worry as much about him falling over and have to god-forbit touch him infront of the kid.

Here are some of my favorites, and I think they were Jayden’s favorites too!

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Jingles arrived with style – and with a present! Here is the finished product 🙂

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Jingles was ready for some California snow!

 

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Jingles wanted us to get into the spirit!

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A little candy cane hunt with Jingles!

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Jingles was almost ready to fly home with Santa!

Cant wait to see what Jingles will be up to next year!

How to: Holiday/Birthday (part 2)

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After his birthday came Hannukah. We are a blended family so I do feel like we have a lot more celebrations throughout the year.

We do light our Menorah (electric version at home, candles at Grandma and Papa’s), and do gifts but not all 8 days. We have family and friends that celebrate as well so we kind of spread things out. We probably give on average 4-5 nights and then grandparents, aunts & uncles, cousins, and friends round out the remaining 3-4 nights. We don’t typically do too many large presents but if we do we try to make it as even to what he is getting for Chrstimas or what we are anticipating from Santa. We would just prefer that he enjoy both holidays equally and not pick a side just based on what presents he gets.

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Hannukah also typically means a family gathering or two, brisket, latkes, and dreidels. This year, Jayden was old enough to help cook the dinner and enjoyed being chef for the evening. He made brisket and Hannukah cookies with Grandma and Mommy. He even brought the plate of cookies around to serve to the family 🙂

We also had Jayden help in the lighting of the candles, and he was also learning Hannukah songs at school along with the Christmas ones, so we wanted him to be a part of the traditions as much as we could. He definitely enjoys the Gelt 🙂

How to: Holiday/Birthday (part 1)

Hello, 2016!!

Been a bit M.I.A. trying to be present during the holidays rather than behind the computer or phone screen -but now I am back!

December is a rough month for us, but also one of my favorites! We have Jayden’s birthday/birthday party, Hannukah, and Christmas all squished into a very short 3 weeks. Not to mention a TON of gifts for the little man – I have no idea where I am to put everything! (Don’t get me wrong, totally appreciative of everyone that gave him something, I just have to better about purging/organizing/donating BEFORE December so it doesn’t look as much like a tornado of a toy store came barreling through our little house)

It started with Jayden’s 4th birthday party. I originally wanted to take him to Disneyland and keep it small and simple. Well, at almost 4, he definitely had a mind of his own and his own ideas of what was going to make his birthday fun. He had been talking about his birthday party since before summer camp began. He wanted a Cars party. The fact that a 3.5 year old was able to stick to his guns and still want a Cars party come October/November just meant that Mickey and the Magic Kingdom would have to wait for another time. Cars party it is.

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Picture via Google

We scoped out a few local places, but could not decide right away. One thing we were in agreement of was the date. Being that his actual birthday is right before Christmas it ends up being in competition with a lot of other parties and activities and not a lot of his little friends end up making it. We went with the first weekend of December and let’s just say the guest list was a tad larger than I anticipated. But he was so excited and had a blast!

I am a big believer of having birthday parties away from the home. While this may cost more money, it definitely is less stress. There are people to help you set up and clean up and keep the party running.

On the negative side, things don’t always go your way. Such as for our party – we were promised the larger party room when booking and the numerous visits to scope things out. Come party day, we were crammed into the smaller party room since the other group was larger and needed the larger room. That makes sense, yes, but we had already booked it. That should have meant something but instead it felt like we were just brushed aside. This was a major bummer for me since this is a venue my son loves to play at, and now it is somewhat tainted in my mind.

Regarless of the craziness that any party comes with, I tried to cut corners by DIY-ing a lot of the items. I made the invitations, some of the larger centerpieces, and the gift bags from ideas I found on Pinterest. Then I bought in bulk the items for the goody bag. There were more generic items in the bag rather than ones specific to the character, but let us be honest, at 4 they just like that there is a new toy to play with.

We also planned it around major meal times 🙂 It was a 1:30 party, so while we did feed the kids the adults just got some things to snack on.

Next year, I think we will tone it down and just have a select few friends of his picking and his cousins attend. Choose something more low key and just concentrate on celebrating Jayden. Sometimes these parties get so big the day kind of gets lost in the shuffle.

 

How to: Holiday/Birthday (part 3)

Next up is his actual birthday!

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Definitely not as big, but just as busy. We started the day with his donut tradition  with daddy. He gets to go to the donut shop, just the boys, and pick out his donut. Last year it was larger than his head and was more of a cake, this year it was a bit more manageable. We always sing happy birthday and blow out the candle.

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Once we were up and ready we then headed over to his best friend’s house since it is her birthday on the same day! He celebrated right along with her, and her parents were so sweet they even made him cupcakes and had everyone sing to him as well!

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After we finished there, we headed out with Grandma and Papa to the Discovery Cube in LA because we heard they were doing a whole Curious George theme and Jayden is obsessed with George! While he did have fun in that section (a little small considering how much they hyped it up), I have to say he seemed to enjoy himself the most in the LA Kings section. He got to be goalie, tried to score during a shoot out, climbed up on a zamboni, and got to see the jerseys and other gear up close. As much as he is still a little guy, he is all BOY. He LOVES sports! 🙂

Once we finished up there, with a couple new items to go home with, we met up with some extended family for a small family dinner at his favorite, Japanese Tepan. This boy loves his tofu and to see the chef make a choo-choo!

We had a tired but very happy 4 year old! 🙂