Thursday, August 29, 2019

Kindergarten Ready or Not

The other day I found an article that brought together what Kindergarten teachers wish parents would focus on to get ready for school.  They prefer less academics prep and more basic life skills.  It's definitely realistic to think through these types of lists to prepare you and your child for school.  As we have our oldest go through school we are still learning some of the basics of prep for each grade.  I found this helpful for Kindergarten age.  We are now in first grade, and looking back I can agree to this list.

Heres the article, and now I will break it down.

1. Zip and/or button their own pants

I would think this was a given, but I guess it's still an issue for teachers.  I don't have my kids wear any clothing that takes extra work when it comes to bathroom needs.  I have even stayed away from one piece swim suits.  I do slip on pants, leggings, and simple shoes.  Think about what you purchase for their school clothes and stick to the tricky items for home.  I know stores are starting to sell clothes with less buttons.

2. Close bathroom door and flush

This one is hard for our oldest.  She holds until the last possible moment (we're working on that).  She hates the sound they make when it flushes, so I usually find her talking her toddler sibling into doing it for her.

*Bonus: teach your kid how to properly wash their hands.  If they seem in a hurry I like to pick a fun song to sing to help identify the amount of time needed.

3. Identify Last Name

My husband has done a good job at this part.  By the end of Kindergarten she was able to spell and write out her full name.  We tend to have these conversations to pass time in the car, at restaurants, or before bed.  She also knows her address.

4. Recognize Letters and Numbers

Luckily our daughter had this down plus letter sounds.  However we're still working on the direction to write some of them.  She just loves to advance in academics.  Meanwhile I can see us having to really work some more on our toddler.  It's fun to see how different kids learn and grow.

5. Sit and Listen to a book being read to them

Thankfully our daughter grew out of the phase where she refused to sit still no matter what we tried.  I think being older helped because she began to become interested in stories.  The best times to practice is after lunch or before bed.

6. Throw Items Away

For the oldest child this became easy to practice.  While busy nursing or changing dirty diapers the oldest has to learn to pick up after themselves and help out more.  If your child is having a hard time with it make it into a game.  However then you probably will end up finding things thrown away that should not be.  Good luck! :)

7. Not climb up the slide if kids are at the top waiting

In mom circles I feel like this is one of those iffy topics to discuss.  People have their opinions both ways.  I understand both sides.  At school I can see it being more of a bother to have kids constantly going up slides with a larger group of kids out for recess at one time.  Teach your kids to be considerate is probably what teachers are asking.

8. Engage in Eye Contact

Help teach your kids to look directly at whomever is talking to them.  Also help them learn to make eye contact while they are talking to you.  I know its easy to not do this when you're the parent busy with household things but it's really helpful for them to succeed in school.  My daughter is very good at this, however I know some kids are not.  I also am aware some have learning disabilities that could hinder this for them and classmates.  All I will say is you know your child best and I'm sure the teachers and staff are aware.

9. Learn the teacher's name and call on them using it

Mom! Mom! Mom!  Is heard all day around here....(WHY NOT DAD?)  Anyways, teach your kiddos that their teacher will appreciate them using their name.  (Miss, Mr, and Mrs)  In preschool it tends to be first names used.  Prepare your child to learn last name.

10. Show Respect Towards Others (please and thank you)

Practice this at the dinner table.  Please pass something.  Thank you.  This was a nice meal.
HA!  Let me know if you are ever told you made a good meal.  It's rare for us. 

In the end it sounds like teachers just want you to teach your kids basic manners, responsibility, and independence.  The time from end of preschool to the beginning of first grade was a huge leap of independence and growth for our daughter.  Be prepared to watch your child soar and become more confident.  It's such a joy to watch and experience.  She is our oldest so we are experiencing it for the first time, and it is a blessing to witness. 

What are some things that helped you or your child prepare for Kindergarten? 
What are some helpful tips you can share for others?
What was your favorite thing from Kindergarten?

Monday, July 29, 2019

Favorite Mommy Finds

I wanted to make a post of all my favorite kid items to be reminded of my kid's favorite things and my own.   It will come in handy for gift giving.  I can also help spread the ideas around in case others are looking for ideas.

The House that Lars Built (not my own pic)

For baby showers I love to gift people swaddlers.  If I'm personally close to the new mom I also add in some TLC items for her.  The newborn stage I love the Swaddle Me swaddlers.  They are really easy to figure out and not super bulky to have on hand wherever you go.  I loved having at least three.  One was always used, one dirty (usually with poo), and one hanging up to dry or in the diaper bag.

Swaddle Me

The TLC items for mom usually include a soft lotion, water bottle, an organic natural nipple cream, gift card to a delivery food place, foot soak for those achy prego feet, my favorite nursing tanks, and/or a meal with disposable place settings.

For the next stage of swaddling I loved the Halo Sleepsack.  Depending on which season you need it for, you can change if it needs sleeves or not, if you desire one that is fleece, etc.  I'm also aware that some you can get that swaddle either both arms, just one, or the option of none of them.  It's nice during that transition.  My daughter loved them a lot.  My son I didn't use as much fleece because he was a sweaty sleeper.  They last until you are comfortable with the transition to a blanket due to bigger sizes.  I think the biggest I ever got was 24 months.  I have long lean babies.  It also helps when they start to get interested in digging in their diapers during nap or bedtime.  The zippers tend to start at the top and go to the bottom.  If you need you can put it on backwards for extra protection.

not my baby *google image*

Another newborn favorite are the nightgowns.  My mom got me a couple and I was HOOKED.  Since you swaddle the baby anyways their legs are not cold and it makes night time diaper changes so much easier!

My favorite advice to give new parents is do not go all out on those super duper cute baby clothing that are bulky, matchy and overall super cute.  Yes, they're cute.  But the one time you decide to have them wear it is probably when they decide to have their first ever blowout.  And you end up stuck at church with a random back up onesie and pants that are too short because you forgot to switch out to the next size up for your backups.  Stick to cute stuff for special occasions or for pictures.  The day to day just do some basics because most of the time they are swaddled up against your chest or laying down in their crib to sleep.  I loved the zip up pajama pieces or doing a onesie with shorts or leggings/pants.

Some of our favorite children's books are Flip Flap Fly, Little Excavator, The Monster at the End of this Book, and Little Blue Truck.  Of course we have more but those are the ones that I didn't know much about nor do I hear many people talk about them.

My favorite tip for bath toys is to keep it simple.  We only have one bathroom where everyone uses the bath/shower so I didn't want a huge collection.  I wanted to be able to shower or bath without having toys fall on me.  I also did not want it to look cluttered.  I stuck with one rubber duck, bath book (which is now no longer around), little boat with sailor, measuring cups from the dollar store, and I use plastic cups I got from Target back when I was a teen.  We use those to wash kid's hair and they love using them to play.  When I want them to play longer I hand them a funnel from my kitchen drawer.  I know they sell cute little spatulas and other utensils now which could also be fun for the kids in the bath.  Don't under estimate the fun random items you can find at the dollar store!

I'm also thinking through all my favorite kid toy items.  When I go to a birthday party for a one year old where I don't know what they're "into" or maybe what they could use I like to wrap the Edushape Balls.  They come in a pack of four.  I love having them for indoor bowling or a quick game of family toss before bedtime.  They have fun sensory touch to them and great for the diaper bag or car for those unexpected trips to the park with older siblings or keeping kids entertained while adults talk FOR.EVER.

Simplay 3 Carry and Go Track for toy cars, truck, and trains is a favorite in our home.  If you're limited on space or don't want to make the investment of a bunch of train tracks/train table this is THE BEST option for your train/car lover.  I love it how it's like a train table without taking up the space.  You can easily slide it under a bed or a closet.  My son loves it and it gets played with almost every single day.  I love the flexibility of being able to take it places if I want to.

Some of our other favorite toys are magnatiles.  Watch for sales and receive a gift that all ages love and enjoy!  Megablocks are also well loved in our home.  These kind of toys are durable and I plan to hold onto for the future grandchildren.  Our favorite games include: UNO, Skip-Bo, Sequence for Kids, Sorry!, Blokus, Rack-O, Rummikub, Thomas the Train Game, Disney Memory Game, Dominos, Twister, and it never ends.  We have also taught Ellie some games that are more advanced for her age like Splendor and Settlers of Catan.

For each grandkid's first Christmas my mom gifted everyone a Pottery Barn backpack with their name on it.  It's great for car trips or a weekend getaway.  Now everyone has their own backpack and we know where everyone's stuff belong.  I now use it whenever I want a change of clothes or pjs left in the car for the end of a long day out of town.  Makes arriving home late much smoother.

I also love receiving gifts that my kids love but dont realize it benefits me as well.  For example, one year for Christmas I got a lightweight cordless vacuum.  I can now say both of my kids happily help vacuum whenever I ask them.  It stops them in their tracks of sibling fighting.  If I'm deep cleaning a particular area of a bedroom or somewhere in my home I can whip it out easily and vac real quick.  It's a gift that keeps on giving.

My favorite kitchen items for kids have changed since I first became a mom.  I've learned to appreciate appetizer spoons instead of the typical baby spoons you can get anywhere.  They are perfect for little hands or still adult friendly during the "you do it" phase of eating with your toddler.  I love the contigo water bottles for leak proof dishwasher safe water bottles.  My kids like having a drink at any possible time of the day.  I love how I can just leave them out at their reach and not worry about spills.  Especially helpful at bedtime now that both kids insist on having water at their reach in their bedrooms.  As long as I don't put anything BUT water in them the washing is so easy since they are dishwasher safe.  I have different sippy cups for nonwater situations.  However both are capable of using regular kid plastic cups (IKEA).  My favorite dishwasher safe kid plates and bowls are from munchkin.  You can get them at Target and I know of other places as well too.  I get the multicolored pack kind.  The bowls are a perfect size for snacks, cereal, and as the kid ages to still use them.  I have slowly introduced Corelle plates for the kids to use for hot meals and heating up leftovers.  My favorite silverware for past the baby stage are the ones I got at IKEA.  Another decent option are the cheap ones off Amazon that I got to use for school lunches.  I love the GERBER forks for baby and toddler stages as they navigate while learning their fine motor skills.  I love the chunky help for them.

For now that is all I can come up with.  However I know I am forgetting something.  Probably important.  I'll have to add more when things come to mind.  Let me know when they come up with a self cleaning floor system.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Jay is "3"

Birthday Questions

Jayden turned three in March and I need to make a post for his birthday! We had terrible long illness in March and didn't get a party for him. Then I had hernia surgery.   I dont want to forget all the little details of our #BabyJay

When Ellie turned four I did a questionnaire with her, with Jayden turning three I asked same questions but put in the real answers. ;)

How old? 3
Favorite color: orange
Favorite toy: car
Favorite fruit: cantaloupe
Favorite food: pb&j sandwich
Favorite TV show: Paw Patrol
Favorite outfit: fire truck jammies
Favorite game: cars game
Favorite snacks: granola bar
Favorite animal: horse (I think because that's Ellies fav)
Favorite book: Firetruck book
Favorite breakfast: granola bar
Favorite thing to do outside: ride bike, help Daddy
Favorite drink: milk or water
Favorite thing to have in bed with you: Lovie and pacifier

Favorite supper: pizza
What I want to be when I grow up: Big
Best friend: Ellie
(He calls all the kids he sees his "friends". He really likes his cousins too.)

Favorite thing to do: H
(I dont know what that means. His favorite thing to do is play with his vehicles, dance to music, and be a part of everything we do)

Favorite thing to do with Mom: go to Kindermusik

Favorite thing to do with Dad: go on a walk
What does Daddy say a lot? Circles
(??? Hes a goof. Daddy probably asks him "show me." Because we taught Jay to show us something if we couldn't understand what he was trying to say.)

What does Mommy say a lot?
(He had no answer. Its probably "come on." Now that he's Mr. Independent with everything. )

Favorite places to go: music class
(He also likes running errands with Daddy, especially on Saturday mornings.)

Typical Day for Jay:
7am Wake up (6am is more typical)
Breakfast (toast/cereal/yogurt)
#BigSis leaves around 8:15am for school

8:30/9 Second Breakfast
(Usually when Mom finally eats)

*Tuesdays was Kindermusik Sept-April this past year.

11am Lunch (pb&j or leftovers)
Noon/2pm rest time somewhere in there. Sometimes he naps sometimes not. But it's no longer a set time where he lays down in his room. He usually snuggles me on the couch.

3:30 pick up #BigSis
4 snacks
5 Supper
Family time (chores or a game)

6:30/7 bedtime routine

Not uncommon for him to take about an hour to fall asleep if he took a nap at all that day. If no nap he falls asleep rather quickly.

Due to my surgery we changed his bed to a toddler bed, so that changed a lot of the routine. Allows him to move around which made us have to change some ways we go about bedtime and resting. He also can get himself out/in to my car without me having to help (except to buckle). It takes Forever but it gets the job done so I didnt have to lift him.

Ending with picture of the kids. They have a love/hate relationship similar to any sibling bond. As they work through their personality differences and decisions. Jayden is still learning personal space and understanding what Ellie can handle and navigating all that is quite the ordeal. But every so often I catch a moment like this one. Shes teaching Jay subtraction.  💜💙

Friday, January 4, 2019

Interview Baby Jay

**TODDLER INTERVIEW - No coaching..**
This is pretty funny.

Asked Jayden on 1/4/2019
Some questions he didnt understand. Usually when we ask him a question we ask how old he is....

What’s your name?  Jayden
How old are you? 2
How old is your mommy? 2
What’s your favorite color? umm Mommy!
What’s your favorite food? Buh-ranch (sandwich)
Who’s your best friend? Max (cousin)
What’s your favorite song? No!
What do you like to watch on tv? McQueen (Cars)
What’s your favorite animal? 2
What are you scared of? WAAAH!
What makes you happy? 😄 (showing me his happy face)
Where’s your favorite place to go? Hmmm EAT
What do you want to be when you grow up? Wanna eat
What is love? Laughs.
Who loves you the most? Mommy! Daddy!

Thursday, January 3, 2019

This is Me

As a Mom I have really had to take a step back and acknowledge who I am versus what the world tells me I should be.  It's so easy to start feeling guilty for not being who your kids want you to be in reality it's impossible to be everything for everyone.  I decided to sit down and ponder what I am versus what I am not to remind myself to take note of the blessings I have to offer as a parent.

You probably wont find me hiking five miles with my little kids for the fun of it,
You can find me more often than not playing for hours of the same game to bring joy to my daughter during a toddler nap.

You are more than likely never going to find me building something as a DIY.
I can turn a closet into an organized space and make it look pretty while doing it.

It's very rare to find me in the kitchen making something I've never heard of or made before
You can usually find me using my laundry system that best fits my style.

You will rarely ever find me doing messy crafts with the kiddos.
I can come up with active activities for rainy days on the spot.

I can not sew at all.
I keep up on sales and my kids always have clothes they love and enjoy for decent prices.

You will never find me jumping out of bed enthusiastic about the morning
I can deep clean at midnight if I have to. (comes in handy when it's puke from sick kid)

I dread making phone calls or answering the phone if I don't know the person.
I can keep track of my calendar and not forget what my schedule looks like.

I am not a constant doer.
I can be chill and relax even with a kitchen so messy you think I need to hire a maid.

I rarely deep clean my floors.
I'm too busy playing with my toddler.

I don't stress out about health stuff
I take myself to the chiropractor every other week and my kids every month to boost our immune system.

I don't always keep my kids busy and content by going places a lot.
I usually have items stashed away in my purse to keep them content in public places.

I'm a homebody with an extrovert oldest child.

I'm the strict on bedtime Mom.
My kids sleep until morning and rarely wake in the night, with the results of well rested children.

I didn't cosleep past a certain age.
You can find my kids snuggling with us on Saturday mornings.

I rarely spend a lot of time outdoors.
It allows my kids to adjust to what Mom and Dad offer is different and that is okay.

I hate hand sanitizer
I insist on washing hands with water and soap.

You will rarely find me washing my car.
I will spend thirty minutes in the shower with my daughter as she copes with her sensory feelings and needs my help to wash her hair.

I take forever to do some things and make lists
Everything has a place and when we travel it's easier to find what you need because I spent that extra time. (pajamas before we head out to go back home?  got it.)

I can't remember your phone number or sometimes even your name.
I remember what we talked about when we last met a few months ago.

I get overwhelmed easily when surrounded by people I hardly know or never met before
I can sit down with one or two people I know really well and be a true friend

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Reflecting over 2018

Life happened and we didnt do family pictures this fall. I'm hoping to figure out a better plan next year.

Ellies 6th birthday 

Looking back the year is kind of a whirlwind.  Jayden turned two. We invited family to celebrate at Perfect Games for some arcade games and bowling.  Ellie finished preschool, I turned 30, took kids to the zoo on our anniversary,  found out we had headlice (blogpost about that experience), Ellie took a summer hip hop class, and we attended weddings. Jon and I had a weekend at hotel for my birthday and I ended up getting sick. We went to the Iowa State Fair with Jon's mom and Ellie started Kindergarten.  That would have to be the biggest change of our year. It's been very good to bring routine into her day.  I also signed Jayden up for Kindermusik.  He's been enjoying it and appreciates it more than Ellie did.  Ellie and I both take a dance class. You can watch the recital June 2019. Jon turned 34. In October Ellie turned six and we threw her a unicorn party for family.  And the past few weeks have been holidays and the usual busyness this time of year brings.

Ellie is our unicorn child. She is a great sleeper meanwhile full of life and Spirit.  Kindergarten has really helped her blossom. Shes writing, reading, and constantly talking about new vocabulary and concepts she has learned at school.  I'm so thankful I set aside my dream of teaching my kids at home and allowing her to blossom in a setting that better suits her. It's truly a blessing for us both.  💜  like I mentioned above, she's taking dance class and loves it. She loves to show off what she's learning and anytime she hears music she's dancing around. Usually you can also find her singing (busting out) her made up songs.  After a long day at school she still enjoys coming home to continue more learning. I usually find her wanting to accomplish a workbook with me, writing more, or interested in art.  She has a huge love for animals. Unfortunately for her Daddy isnt much for pets so she will just have to hold off. We can see her getting more involved with animals as she gets older. She constantly talks about wanting to become a vet.  It's been fun to watch her grow into a person and less of a little kid.

Ellie and Jayden's relationship is what you would probably expect it to be. They play well together.  Ellie is usually bossing Jayden around and he follows her lead. He loves it when it's time to pick her up from school.  They have typical sibling issues. It has helped to have Jayden start to talk and communicate better. Each year keeps getting better and better with him. 💚

Goofing around on the couch

Reading one of his favs

Teaching how to wash his hands

Each year Jayden has gotten easier. He does have some typical toddlerisms. He knows what he wants, how he wants it, etc but nothing compared to how Ellie did so at least we got that going for us. He is the sweetest, kindest little guy ever. Knowing he's our last I try to embrace every thing.  I want his cute little baby voice to stay.  He loves hugs and kisses and will even ask for them.  He enjoys his Kindermusik class.  Any vehicle that makes noise is awesome.  Grocery shopping has changed where we can't go inside until we check out the big trucks hauling in merchandise.  Buckling up in the car comes to a halt until I can tell him what noise he can hear (usually an emergency vehicle,  train, or truck backing up). He could live off pb&j, steamed veggies, peanut butter crackers, and fruit snacks. Hes my sweet tooth kid. (Ellie loves ice cream but rarely finishes a sugar cookie.)

Something random I dont want to forget about Jayden is how helpful he is. He picks up after himself or if we ask for help he's more than willing. After he felt done with his bath he put the toys away, took out the plug and called for me to get him out.  It's been a blessing to have a kid that does what they're told rather promptly.   Rarely do we have him not obey or be open to us giving direction.

Jon has had the least amount of change this last year.  He still works at Seymour Screen Excellence where he specializes in the products and helps manage the workload. It's been a great job for him. He can stay at his desk and work on emails, answer the phone, or jump up and work on making a screen.  I'm also appreciative that his job allows him to stop what he's doing if something is going on at home that I need his help with or he needs time off.  He spends enough time at home to acknowledge what I do and appreciates my stay at home mom lifestyle.   Two kids has led to messier house when he comes home from work and he's gotten to the point where he just knows that's our new normal.  We love the weekends where we get more time with him. 💜

Updates with me, I feel as if you already know everything if you follow me on Facebook and Instagram.  I'm a pretty open book.  This year has been a struggle for me personally.  I'm working through a lot of personal stuff, health concerns (nothing serious), and balancing the day to day. In some ways I feel like I lost my fun self and my goal was to search for answers this year. That started with taking a dance class Wednesday nights. So far I've brushed up on hip hop, tap, ballet, and jazz.  I've also made sure to speak up for myself for my health. Acknowledge that it's not bad to ask for help or support. Allowed Jon to help out and not worry how things are done differently than if I did them. I'm also learning to set better boundaries with myself, kids, and others.  I'm feeling less guilty and not letting the hard parenting moments get to me so much. I can say "no" for the sake of my well being and my daughter can learn that everything I do doesn't have to make her happy.

My birthday party


My Minnie Me 

Lunch with Sis on her birthday

Life is filled with long days and short years. That could not be more true. I blinked and my baby boy is now a talking, running cute kid. I look into Ellie's eyes at night and notice I no longer see a baby face.  I love to catch glimpses of our days together and try to soak in all the good stuff. I'm a proud mom and thankful for my devoted husband. 

Hope everyone has a chance to soak in all the blessings of the year, breathe during busy holiday season, and find restoration in the new year! If you made it this far, I thank you all. 😊


Monday, October 15, 2018

Pregnancy & Infant Loss {Day}

This day is always confusing for me on how to approach it, process, and be cautious on how I word things. I wouldn't want to deepen the pain for someone else. Do I share posts from my past to allow others to not feel alone? Do I open up to offer a safe space for others to learn from my own experiences? Where do I even begin?

Everyone mourns differently. Everyone grieves in a different way. What one might want your response to be might hurt someone else. Take with caution and just listen is my best advice.

Today I can listen to your story. Open to hearing what breaks your heart. What makes you have to leave a store due to a trigger? What days do you need to step away from social media? Who is someone you can't communicate with because they don't understand?  I'm here to listen and empathize with you as you attend baby showers and have to force a smile on your face. I can relate with asking yourself endless questions of what could of been or countless what if.

My two losses didn't make it past the first trimester so no, I can't relate with everything.  I can't fully empathize what you have gone and currently going through.  But I will be here for when you're ready. I'm available to listen and walk beside you however that may look.

Know I sympathize with you today. I'm listening. Your loss was not your fault.  I'm here whenever you need someone to just listen.