The Little Moments


Lately there has been a lot more negative things happening in the world. It makes me think about the little moments we take for granted and re-think how I want my son to remember his days.

As parents, we always say to “pick your battles” and that rings very true. There is no need to make every little thing a bigger deal than it is. Does it need to get picked up right this second? No. Do we have to raise our voice to be heard? No. Will it kill you to be 5 minutes late? No. Is this a good example to set for the kids? No.

I admit, I run hot and cold and am quick to lose my patience/temper. I try not to, but it is not always easy. I am a passionate person, and it shows. I try to have more patience, and practice what I preach- I always tell Jayden to”use your words”.  Just because I am loud, does not mean I am heard. Talk calmly, purposefully… and most importantly, respectfully. I am also trying to be proactive rather than reactive. Prime when change is going to happen, give an idea of the schedule so they know what to expect, etc. I have also tried doing this for myself. Knowing and planning what’s to come rather than just winging it. Planning ahead seems to keep me in a more calm mindset.

I have also tried to lessen the media and technology influence. I am a creature of habit so this has been difficult at times, but totally necessary. As much as I can, I will leave my phone in the other room or tucked away in my purse so that it is not a temptation or distraction. Turn the TV off and catch my shows once everyone has gone to bed – that is what the DVR is for, right? This way I can spend more time playing or being silly. Just enjoying time together… truly together.

My next goal is to make dinner into a true family dinner. Where everyone sits together, at the same time, with no electronics, and just talks about their day. Too many times we are too busy, or too tired, or too lazy…. the list can go on. It needs to change now. I feel like we are missing out on a lot by not sitting together as a family and spending this time really talking. I want us to get into the habit of carving out 30-60 minutes for a family dinner, and not let anything get in the way.

Hug your kids. Spend time together as a family. Put away the phones and iPads. Go out and play ball. Snuggle in bed in the morning. Run out for ice cream. Go to the park and see who can swing higher. Grab some chalk and decorate your driveway. Have tickle fights.

Make each other a priority. Love each other.

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New School

Jayden has attended the same toddler program then preschool since he was 20 months and earlier this year we found out our school was closing for good at the end of the school year. It is a private school and I guess it’s time just came.

We are very bummed -he has made such great friends at this school and we love the staff. But the time has come to look elsewhere and find a new home away from home for him. We are working parents who do not have the choice of one of us staying home with him so the hardest part is finding the right people for him to spend so much time with. While we want him to learn, yes, we also want him to have loads of fun and make lots of friends.

I toured school after school, and researched them online. We finally made the decision and found him his new school. I was over the moon excited when the director told me that he will have 3 others from his old class in his new classroom. When she named them, I was relieved that they were names that I was familiar with, they were his friends.

While the transition will be hard, it’s not only a brand new school but also a brand new curriculum and new way of teaching, I have some level of peace knowing he won’t be lonely. As much as this is hard for him, I think it ends up harder on the parents since the kids don’t really know any different yet.

I have my fingers crossed that we have a smooth transition and a successful transfer.

 

Valentine’s on a budget

Valentine’s has never been a big deal in our house – a different story when we were dating – but now that we are married and have a kid it just kind of becomes about him.

We have discussed not getting gifts for holidays such as Valentine’s just for the simple reason of saving money. A simple heartfelt card is more than enough. Although, I am still a girl – I would never turn down a bouquet of flowers 🙂 We also don’t typically go out that night because of all the craziness. I don’t have the patience to wait an hour+ for a dinner reservation that needed to be made 6 months in advance! This year, hubby and I had a coffee date two days before and a kid-free lunch, just the two of us. It was perfect.

I enjoy making homemade valentine’s for my kiddo’s school parties -and I have been making non-candy ones the past few years since Jayden really doesn’t need any more candy and gets plenty as is. Here is where Pinterest comes in handy!

Adorable! Bullseye valentines with free printables. A great candy-free classroom treat idea!:

Picture via Pinterest.

His first Valentine’s at school/toddler care I did bullseye arrows. Super easy, print the bullseye on card stock and cut out. Use an exacto-knife to cut two little slits for the pencil to slide in. I found the pencils and cutesy tape in the Target dollar bins, and the eraser topper at the dollar store.

Handmade Valentine: DOH You Want to Be Mine? - The Nerd's Wife:

Picture via Pinterest.

Next up was Play-Doh cards. Again, print cards on card stock and cut out. Then cut out circle in the middle (I used an exacto-knife to start then wiggled small scissors into the slit and was able to cut all the way around). I found the bag of mini Play-Doh tubs at Target (12 or 15 in the bag, can’t remember) and inserted into the hole.

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Free Star Wars Printable Valentines:

Picture via Pinterest.

This last Valentine’s Day I did light saber cards. Printed the cards on card stock and cut them out, then used a single hole punch to punch out two small holes in the appropriate spots (this varied depending on the design and where I wanted the light saber to go). Once that is done, you slide the glow stick into the holes. I got a pack of 8 glow sticks for $1 at the dollar store – can’t beat that!

My son loved each and every one of these and found them to be really cool – he’s 4! 🙂 I know the time will come that he will want to choose and/or make his own and I am all for it. I gotta say though, I did have lot’s of fun making them! I had so much fun I made a few for the folks at work as well.

I went the candy route this time since I know they all love candy 🙂 I did a combination of two styles to change it up.

Printable Smarties DIY Valentine's Day Cards:

Picture via Pinterest.

AND

I Dig Pinterest: "You are a Gem" Ring Pop Valentine:

Picture via Pinterest. (I did not want to repackage the candy, so i just tied the ribbon around the wrapped ring pop)

Nothing big, just a little something to bring a smile to people’s faces. 🙂

Hope everyone had a fabulous Valentine’s Day — no matter how you celebrate it!!

How To: Fly with a Toddler

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Jayden has become a pro at flying after just a handful of times in the air – he is like his daddy! 🙂 We took our first flight when he was 2 months old, then again when he was 21 months old (both times to the east coast from California, and both times as a lap infant). His next time on a plane was at 2.5 years old, then again at 3.5 years old, and most recently just a week ago at 4 years old (he had his own seat for these and I have to say, as much as I hate having to pay for the extra seat I love that he has his own space and we are able to spread out a bit!).

Flying was definitely easier when he was an infant rather than a toddler. He slept most of the way and did not require too much work (aside from having to lug so much gear around– to be discussed below). As a toddler they are more wiggly, noisier, and just plain restless – so be ready!

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Tips for flying with a toddler:

Bring LOTS of snacks – anything non-liquid will be easy to take through security; variety is key.

Bring a sippy cup that you can fill past security – as a toddler TSA is more questioning about liquids brought through that isn’t breastmilk, so I go the easy route and just pick something up after security, and most flight attendants are more than happy to give you a juice for your little one as you are boarding.

New toys-does not have to be expensive, I usually raid the dollar section at Target or hit up the local dollar store for some goodies.

New games or movies on your tablet-make sure you download them before the trip since they charge you for WiFi on board. And a pair of kiddie earphones (they keep your fellow passengers from hating you, but I also like the ones made for kids because they have volume control on it so it is never too loud for their little ears).

Blanket and Lovey – you MUST bring something familiar from home. It is a scary enough situation to be in, it would help to have their favorite stuffed animal and a cozy blanket to snuggle with.

Check in what you do not need – Strollers and car seats are free to check in on most major airlines. Do it! We tried doing the free gate check the first time around, but let me tell you, when you are rushing to catch your connecting flight it is a pain in the tush to have all that to lug around, plus keep track of your kid, and the hand-carry luggage. It is best to have on board just the necessities. The car seat on board is a personal choice. We prefer to let him stretch out rather than be confined in a car seat – he is not the biggest fan of the car seat on long car trips as it is so we would rather save the headache and make it so he has more space to play and move around instead.

Bring lots of wipes – to wipe the child, yes, but also to wipe down your surroundings (armrests, trays, etc).

Extra outfit – for all members of the family because you just do not know what will happen. As an example, on one of our flights my husband ended up getting poop on his shirt from our very wiggly child being changed on the plane changing table. Funny for me, not so much for him! But I definitely did not want to have to smell him the rest of the trip! 🙂

Baggies in several sizes – these are another must! Perfect for throwing toys into, wet/dirty clothes into, extra snacks into, etc. The list just goes on…

Travelling is a time for fun, a time to play, and a time to break the rules. 🙂 We try to keep as much structure as possible (easier said than done!) but don’t beat yourself up if things go wrong or not quite how you planned. Be flexible in your plans, and expect things to go wrong – that way you are not surprised by it, are prepared for it, and it might actually end up a fun bonus when it all happens to work out nicely in the end.

Here are some items I like for travelling:

These are fantastic because they don’t stain on anything.
Always have a bag for your checked in stroller or car seat – they will end up filthy if you dont.
Still need to convince hubby about this one since it is pricey, but I love that it becomes a little ride for the kiddos and makes travelling more fun. The Kindle for kids has been wonderful!

*This post contains Amazon Affiliate links *

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! 

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 🙂

** This post contains affiliate links

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: Potty Train

Fisher Price Froggy Potty Seat (purchase at Amazon.com)

Potty training is not a fun experience. It is a messy one!

You need to go into this fully knowing what you are getting yourself into – lots of wet clothes, floors, etc. Have lots of sanitizing materials handy and lots of extra towels. And plan to stay home for it (I say at least over the weekend).

I was lucky that I had experience as a Behavioral Therapist for many years and had gone through it with other kiddos before the time came for my own little man. Those “practice runs” came in handy when my husband and I got started.

List of items needed (besides the towels and disinfectant for clean-up) :

  • Toilet seat (free standing or toilet seat insert – you decide!)
  • Step stool
  • Undies (tons – I probably started with a good 20 of them)
  • Wipes
  • Books/small games/toys
  • Reward (keep it small)

Thomas the Tank Undies (purchase at Amazon.com)

We started by deciding what weekend we were free to stay home and agreed to get started. I took Jayden shopping for the undies so he was able to choose the ones he liked. I got some fun character ones and some plain white and striped ones too.

Next up, we discussed what was going to be the reward. For staying dry, we chose stickers (you can get a lot of these at the dollar store) and for going in the potty, we chose M&Ms since Jayden loved them and we felt it would be motivating. The most important part of choosing the reward is that it is something that will entice the kiddo. If it isn’t motivating, it just wont happen. Remember, you are trying to reinforce the good behavior (going in the potty) so reward them right away with praise, “Great job staying dry!”, “Look, you went pee pee in the potty! Way to go!”. Also, you want to reward them right away with the tangible item. You want them to make the connection that if they do good, they get good things in return. If you wait too long you loose that connection, especially in the younger kiddos.

Next we set up the bathroom so that things were within reach. We put the M&Ms in a clear jar on the counter so he could see them. Stickers ended up on the counter as well, just out of reach. We put some books and toys in a little storage cube in the corner so we can grab things to keep him entertained while sitting there.

We started off with a potty seat insert and a stool. I recommend the stool because it helps the kiddo reach to get on and also gives them something to put their feet on so they are not just dangling. It didn’t work too well for us since Jayden is on the smaller side and he got scared being on the toilet. He just could not reach the stool and so I think he just felt like he was hanging on. Once we got the free standing potty, he was much more comfortable. The stool still came in handy because then it helped him get up to the sink for washing hands and brushing teeth. The first few days it seemed he was getting the pooping in the potty part pretty quickly, but was still having wet accidents as he just wasn’t able to control it yet. It went from ” I need to go potty” to “oops, I went peepee on the floor” in about 2 seconds. There wasn’t enough time to get him to the potty. This got better as he learned to hold it and make his way to the potty. Heads-up if you have a boy – be prepared to teach him to lean forward when peeing sitting down. If not, be ready to get squirted! 🙂

Jayden took to going peepee and poopoo in the potty pretty easily. Some things that we did that I feel helped were:

  • Choosing to start when the weather was nice – this way we were able to let him hang out in just his undies and made the process that much easier.
  • We allowed him to hang out in his birthday suit – he was a lot more aware of what was going on when he did not have something to catch his accidents.
  • As he got better and better at going in the potty, we started a potty chart – this way he got to earn a bigger prize if he earned a certain number of successes. We let him choose if he wanted to go for ice cream/Slurpee, a new Matchbox/Hot Wheels car, etc. before we started a fresh chart and he was very excited to work for the bigger prize. He wasn’t punished for having an accident, he just had to earn the right amount.
  • We took it one step at a time – we started with only potty training during the day, and saved night time potty training for when we accomplished the day time training. This worked in our favor because Jayden was so proud of himself and what he had accomplished that he was the one that told us he did not want diapers anymore and wanted to only have undies even when he went to bed. We have had only 2 or 3 night time accidents since he decided to get rid of all diapers.
  • We had open discussions with his school teachers about his routine – keeping the communication lines open was a must. They have Jayden for 8-9 hours most days and I feel school was a big help because his teachers worked right along with us when he was under their care. They gave him rewards (we put a baggie of goodies in his backpack for them), and he got lots of praise. We were given reports on how he was doing and given feedback on what was working or was not working. Remember, they have been doing this probably longer than you have and for more children – listen. You may not always agree, but you might learn a thing or two that you did not otherwise already think of.

Everyone has their own method that works… this is what worked for our family. If anything, maybe you got a few new ideas to help make your process a bit easier.

*This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links*