Image Map

Facebook Pinterest Twitter Instagram Email Family Home Crafty Recipes Goals Blog Roll PR

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Toddler Review: 18 month Favorites

No, I'm not reviewing toddlers, but I will review some of our favorite toddler items! Its been a while since I did a "Favorite Things" post, so here it goes.


C got a big ol' bin of MegaBloks for Christmas and didn't take much interest in them until recently, but they have quickly climbed to the top of his list. He loves putting them all in the bucket, dumping them out, and stacking them as high as he can.  We have a box of Duplos in the closet for him when he gets a bit older, but for now the ease in which MegaBloks go together and come apart is perfect for him.

Another favorite of the moment is his Little Tikes Camping Adventures Look Out Lantern. We bought it for when we go to camp this summer, but since learning how to turn it on an off, he is fascinated. He stares into the light like a little moth until it dims out on its timer. I can't wait to take him camping where he can really use it.


C has been very into books lately and we've begun letting him choose the book he wants to read before bed. We keep his board books, touch and feel books, and other hard covers down low on his level. So far, no books have been maimed or destroyed. ::knocks on wood:: He definitely has his favorites that he reaches for more often. They are:

Peek a Who? by Nina Laden
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin & John Archambault
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Little Hands Love by Piggy Toes Press

When he pulls out Little Hands Love, its especially cute because he will sit quietly turning the pages and feeling the different textures on each page (fluffy cotton, rough cardboard, silky leaves, etc.)


At about $4-$5 a piece, this season's collection of t-shirts and shorts at Target is fabulous! There are several mix and match sets in the collection and all of the shorts are fun, summery plaid prints. ::geeking out:: I absolutely adore the look of plaid shorts, but they usually have one, maybe two, shirts that can match with them. We were able to buy four different shirts that matched the same pair of shorts creating more outfit options for less money.

Target also has their super lightweight summer pajamas out and I need to pick up a few sets. C is finally outgrown is Christmas pajamas and its no longer long pants and sleeves weather! Two mix and match t-shirts and shorts come in each set for $15.

When C started walking, we started being more intentional about what shoes we bought for him. During a BOGO 1/2 off sale at Stride Rite, we got two pairs of their Step System shoes for him and they are fantastic! They are soft enough where he can feel the ground and keep working on his balance, but firm enough to withstand being outside. A pair of sandals and sneakers and he was set for the summer. With the BOGO, it was about $45 for both.


To pack his lunch for daycare, we had been using the Bento Box Lunch Kit by Skip Hop. With his growing appetite, however, he is quickly outgrowing the capacity of the little containers! I recently discovered the Gerber Graduates Mealtime Organizer and am in love! It holds so much food, not to mention utensils, and ice pack, and a note or picture from home.

We can fit his yogurt, some sliced fruit, and a whole sandwich (yes, that is my 18 month old's typical lunch and yes, he eats it all). Its dishwasher safe and only costs about $7. Keep your eye out - Gerber Graduates/NUK has BOGO free coupons on their facebook page every once in a while. I snagged two of these and love using them. The only downside is that the cups on the left side are not removable and its a little large to put in the microwave if you need to reheat something. For cold lunches, however, its perfect.

In the Diaper Bag

Our absolute must have in the diaper bag item is GoGo squeeZ applesauce pouches. C just goes nuts for them! They are a compact, easy, and delicious snack that never fails - and doesn't make a huge mess. They come in six apple combination flavors (regular apple, strawberry, banana, mango, cinnamon, and peach) and he loves all of them. For 100% natural, organic fruit the price isn't too shabby at about $.50 a pouch, but there are always coupons (and fun trivia, contests, and pictures) available through their facebook page.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Yesterday, I took C to the zoo for the first time and he had a blast! I mean, as much as an 18 month old can enjoy a zoo, I suppose. We met a few friends and their little ones and had a great time walking around and seeing the sights.

He enjoyed watching the different animals, but was disappointed to not find any monkeys (his favorite). Instead, he just called every animal "monkey," including the stuffed mountain lion I bought him. Eh, close enough.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Sleepy Baby

There is nothing that warms my heart more than seeing C all sleepy and cuddly. Makes me want to scoop him up and snuggle with him!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Toddle Along Tuesday: I'll Never...

This week's Toddle Along Tuesday topic is "Things You Never Thought You'd Do" co hosted by Growing Up Geeky and Letters to Mo. Early on in my pregnancy, I was told by some very wise Moms that you should never promise yourself set expectations about parenting because you never know what will happen and who your child will be. No reason to set yourself up for guilt over some TV watching, sweets, and sleep habits. There's enough guilt to go around without looking for it. While I held firm to my values as a Mom, I went into parenthood with a clean slate of expectations and with full intention to roll with the punches. And roll we have!

We feed him what works for him, we cloth diaper, but use disposables when we need to, I breast fed until it wasn't working anymore, he sleeps with us when he's sick, watches TV now and then....and so on.

I know its not exactly today's topic, but lets just say I took some creative liberties. Instead of talking about the pre-baby things I promised I'd do or not do, these are the things, pre-growing up, that I will never let C do as he gets older.

I will never let C...

Say he can't do something.
Give up without trying.
Speak ill of his classmates, friends, family, and neighbors.
Go a day without a hug, kiss, and reminder that we love him.
Grow up without responsibility and accountability.
Feel worthless or undervalued because of my words or actions.
Use the word hate.
Be left out of a decision that impact him directly.

I can't control his experiences with peers, I can't control his perceptions of the world, and I can't control his perceptions of himself, but I can make sure he feels unconditionally loved and supported, while making sure to hold him to high standards of character. At the end of the day, that's all that matters to me. I don't care if he's an athlete or mathelete, but if he has character, he has everything.

“You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats 
those who can do nothing for him.”—Malcolm S. Forbes.

Link up with Toddle Along Tuesday and check out the other "I'd Never" lists!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Weekend Business

Its that time of year again! GARAGE SALES! I am the direct descendent of what I consider to be the garage sale guru. My Mom was not only a crazy good buyer, but she was an amazing seller - making over $1,000 during the most epic of her annual sales.

While we didn't exactly make a grand this weekend, we did get rid of a ton of stuff we've had set aside in boxes labeled "yard sale." A nearby school district was having a huge community yard sale. $15 bought you four parking spaces (two for cars, two for your stuff) for six hours. We got up early, set up shop, and sold our crap. The cool part? All of the selling fees went towards a "Newspapers in the Schools" program. Yay education!

We were able to unload a ton of books, movies, and video games, a few electronics, an old PS2, all of J's old comics and comic book cards, and a ton of baby clothes and toys. Stuff that was literally just taking up space. When all was said and done, we'd made $215! Thank goodness too, we could really use it as we prepare for J to be out of work all summer. Stupid 10 month education jobs. The budget is going to be tight, but we've been couponing and stocking up like crazy lately. More on that later. ;-)

Aside from our selling success, the weather was absolutely beautiful, and C was an angel. I brought the entire toddler entertainment arsenal - bubbles, chalk, blocks, cars, and of course snacks, but we really didn't need to do too much entertaining. The spot next to us was a darling retired couple who spent the whole time talking to C and playing with him. The man's name was Charlie as well and he got a kick out of our C in his little Hawaiian shirt.

C played and we hung out in the nice weather - it was a wonderful day. I also scored some neat stuff from other sellers! I got a 1960's metal bread box, a basket that sits on the steps, a dozen Ball canning jars, and a neat lazy Susan for my craft supplies - all for $20. The bread box alone is worth more than that! Unfortunately, we were the ONLY booth with boy clothes, but that's alright.

Decorating our spot with his beautiful artwork.
Nap time! Don't worry, the windows were all down! :-)
We were pooped after the sale (getting up at 5:30am and all that) so we spent the rest of the day just relaxing. Sunday was Mother's Day and after a super yummy breakfast and wonderful presents from my guys, we did some shopping, some playing, and some time outside. What a lovely weekend!

Mmmmm Breakfast!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all of the Mothers, Mothers to Be, and Mothers watching us from above!

My Mother and Me

Me and My Little C

The moment a child is born, the mother is also born.  She never existed before.  The woman existed, but the mother, never.  A mother is something absolutely new.  ~Rajneesh

Friday, May 11, 2012

I'd Like to Forget Thursday, Please & Thank You.

We have been so busy the past few days - I don't even know where the time went. It all started with Thursday. Oh, Thursday - the day I'd like to forget!

I kept C home on Thursday so we could check out a new daycare in town and go to his 18 month well baby visit. The daycare visit was at 9am and his appointment at 10am, so we got up early to get ready and clean up a bit. I'm not quite sure how this always happens, but no matter how much time I leave to get ready, we're always running out the door late! Maybe its things like this...

Me: "Let's get your shoes on, C."
C: "No." ::goes back to playing::
Me: "No really, we have to go."
::runs upstairs to the front door::
::chases him upstairs, but forgets shoes downstairs::
::carries screaming child down stairs::
::fights to put shoes on::

At that point, I have about 30 seconds to grab up our stuff and go before the shoes come off again. He thinks he's so sneaky. :-)

As we're heading out the door to the car, C was still not happy about leaving. I had him in one arm and the diaper bag and my purse in the other. About 10 feet from the car, he threw his cup on the ground in protest.

You know that thing you do when you can bend down slightly and slide a kid down your side and plop them down on their feet? Yeah, that - except he wouldn't stand up. He sat on his butt and almost simultaneously slammed his head back onto the pavement.

He screamed immediately - which is always a good thing to hear after a head knock. I picked him up and all of his dainty little curls were matted with blood. I'm proud of myself - I actually didn't freak out. I knew that heads bled a LOT regardless of the wound, so I tried to check it out before deciding what to do. A man working nearby saw C go down and ran over - he was an EMT. We got C cleaned up and saw that though bleeding profusely, the actual wound was teeny tiny. ::whew::

I whipped out a snack, dried off his head, and he was happy as a clam.

We swung by the new daycare and did a quick walk through. He loved it, I loved it. C is currently at a daycare we all love, but its near J's work 30 minutes away. If he was closer to home, I could take him out for a quick doctor's appointment, etc. without having to keep him home all day or driving all over creation. I hate to move him, but this place is only a mile away and about $200 less a month, while still being as active, educational, and safe. Plus, they will take our cloth diapers! Woo! He'll go part time all summer while J is off work (just to get out of the house a bit) and then go back full time in the fall.

Next stop was the pediatrician for his check up. We saw the PA that we love and he did wonderfully. His ears are still clear (YES!) and he's growing like a weed. He's 32 1/2 inches tall, 27lbs 1oz, with a huge noggin. I never thought I'd see my little peanut in the 65% for weight! He got a vaccination and we were on our way.

The rest of the day went alright, if you forget about C skipping nap time, throwing lunch, and having several blow out diapers - in protest, I assume. One of those blow outs happened on the microfiber couch. ::sigh:: Blood, pee, poop, spit, snot, and sweat. If only he'd puked I could have gotten a prize in the bodily fluid Olypics! Wait, that doesn't exist? Damn. I tried.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Blocks are Awesome!

And I love them as much as C does because, well, they entertain him for quite a while. Even the bucket keeps him happy. Whatever works, little man.

Monday, May 7, 2012

It's ENT Time

After four double ear infections and one single ear infection in the past two months, we're being referred to an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) doctor to start talking about tubes. ::sigh:: I knew this was coming.

The past two months have been rough. C gets a runny nose, that turns into a gunky nose, then one night he wakes up wailing and pulling at his ears. We go to the doctor, they diagnose an ear infection or two, and give oral antibiotics. Antibiotics don't work after a few days, so he gets an antibiotic injection, and is healthy for a few days. Rinse and repeat.

I feel so bad for this poor little guy. The nights when he's getting an infection back are the worst. He only wants to be held, which is understandable since when he lies down the pressure on his ears causes pain. We've spent many nights in the glider recently.

It's strange - when we were in Virginia, C had gotten colds and even one or two more serious viruses and illnesses, but never a single ear infection. I thought that maybe he just wasn't an ear infection kind of kid, but I was wrong. My theory is that moving back north, in all of its high pollen and pollution glory, has messed with him big time. He has been sicker since we moved here than he's ever been. Since August he's had croup, bronchitis twice, pink eye, a stomach bug, several colds, and that random virus that had him spiking 105 fevers for a week. I know he's in daycare and all that, but C'MON! Can the poor kid get a break?

J is taking C back to the doctor this afternoon for a follow up appointment and to get more information about the ENT. I'm hoping we can get in soon for an appointment and get this feel better plan in action. The less middle of the night screaming in pain, the better...for all of us. At this point, I'm not even concerned about the surgery - I just want him to feel better for more than a day or two at a time.

But really - surgery last June AND this June? Lets not make this an annual event, little man. Momma begs you.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Embrace the Camera Flash

Since getting my DSLR, I've been avoiding using the flash. I figure its better to learn about natural and off camera light anyway. Plus, when I used it, all of my pictures looked like this.

Washed out with lots of ugly shadows in the background. Not the look I expected from an $800 camera and even editing won't fix what the flash does to the image. The reason the pictures look this way is because the light is coming right at the subject causing shadows behind them and often red eye. Sad day.

The trick is to create a bright light that fills the area and coats the subject evenly. If you've got a few hundred dollars to invest, getting a Speedlite is the way to go. It sits in the camera's hot shoe (the little slot on top of the flash) and bounces light off the ceiling, walls, or through a diffuser. The light on top is adjustable in both flash power and position. Basically, its awesome.

Now, if you don't have a few hundred dollars, like me for instance, you may be feeling at odds with your flash. Have no fear! There is a much cheaper solution!

While it doesn't completely replace the glory that is a Speedlite (or other off camera flash), for around $30, a light scoop can mimic the bounced light look. I bought this one a few months ago, but only really started using it recently. Here are some pictures I took with the light scoop on.

Huge difference right? Same room, same subject, same ambient lighting. The only thing I did differently was to attach the light scoop - which is incredibly easy. The scoop has a mirror that bounces the flash up onto the ceiling and back down onto the subject. Like this -

It floods the room with light, rather than shooting it directly at you. The ideal situation is in a room with lower, white ceilings since colored ceilings will bounce light with a slight hue and higher ceilings won't bounce the flash as well. Another down fall is that it doesn't work if you shoot vertically since the bounce then goes off to the side, but I don't mind.

One day I'll get a Speedlite, but for now, this does a great job.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Toddle Along Tuesday: Bedtime Routine

This week the post theme for Toddle Along Tuesday is bedtime routine! A big thanks to Melissa at Growing Up Geeky and her co-host this week, Samantha from On Pink Bears and Pacifiers.
At the moment, C doesn't have a set bedtime though he usually goes to bed anywhere between 7pm and 8:30pm. We know we are getting dangerously close to the edge of meltdown gorge when he starts getting really quiet and lays his head down on anything soft around him - the couch, a pillow, my lap, etc.

First comes a fresh diaper (a double stuffed bumGenius 4.0), then pajamas and teeth brushing - courtesy of J, who has mastered the toddler teeth brushing hold. Next, one of us reads him a story; usually whoever got to spend the least amount of time with him that due to work or errands or what have you.

Here is C with his favorite book, "Peek a Who?" Every night that gets read at least once twice, but we usually throw in a longer book as well since that one is about 30 seconds long.

Some of my favorite books to read him are anything by Dr. Seuss, Skippy John Jones, Where Ever You Are My Love Will Find You, and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.

Skippy John Jones is especially fun - its full of silly words and lots of onomatopoeia. He gets a good laugh out of it!

After a story, its off to bed! As I mentioned in his 18 month update post, we're on to a big boy bed, so we're trying to teach him to climb up in there himself instead of being laid down. He's getting it...sort of. He sleeps with a full sized pillow (he's like me and needs to snuggle to sleep), a crocheted blanket, the Sleep Sheep, and his monkey from Build a Bear. Last night was night #3 in the toddler bed and he's doing great! Nothing has really changed in his routine or how long he sleeps.

This picture was taken the first night we took off the crib side. Since then, we've added a toddler rail to the side to keep him from rolling off.

Though we occasionally get the midnight wake up call, he's been sleeping through the night for well over a year now (*knocks on wood*)

His diaper stays leak proof through his 10-ish hour slumber and he gets up starving and raring to go at round 6am everyday.

Stop by Growing Up Geeky to join the Toddle Along Tuesday blog hop!