Thursday, October 13, 2011


Pin It Now! Oh the ups and downs of having a new baby!  I mentioned that Parker would only nap when we were holding her, well I didn't give up and we have finally gotten her to take a couple naps in her swing, still no luck in her crib or co-sleeper.  Over the weekend it just started happening.  It's still not every nap but I will take what I can get.  On Saturday she took 2 naps in her swing, Sunday 1, Monday 1, Tuesday and Wednesday none, and today 2.  Each one lasts about an hour and a half to 3 hours.  So at least now we know she can do it!  Yay!  It's been so nice, too, cause it's given me some time to spend with Avery.  LOVE that!  We've played games, read books, and done some art projects.  A couple of times it's even happened when Avery was napping so I had some time to myself, HEAVEN!!!  I'm not going to count on it happening all the time but any little break I can get is nice!

On top of that, she's stretched out her night time sleep to about 3 hours at a time and is only getting up twice a night.  Yay, LOVE that, too!  Plus I've been pumping and Eric has been taking some of the nighttime feedings.  I don't get enough to do it every night but he takes one feeding for 2 nights and then takes 1 night off.  So, I'm definitely getting more nighttime sleep.  Ahhh, sleep!!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What a Difference

Pin It Now! When Avery was born I decided to take a monthly photograph of her in the same chair with the same stuffed animal next to her to show her growth.  I started doing the same thing with Parker (even using the same chair and stuffed animal as with Avery).  It's fun to see the difference between the 2 girls, and boy is there a difference!
Avery- 1 month
Parker- 1 month
Up until 1 month old Avery was not doing a great job at nursing.  She was gaining weight but not very much.  At 5 weeks old we discovered she was tongue tied.  Once we had her tongue clipped everything changed and she started gaining a ton of weight.  Parker was tongue tied also but it was much milder and didn't effect her weight gain.  Also, Avery was 6 lbs 5 oz when she was born and Parker was 8 lbs 13 oz.

Avery- 2 months
Parker- 2 months
I can't wait to see how the rest of the pictures compare!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Parker's Birth Story

Pin It Now! It was kind of a whirlwind so I will do my best to retell how Parker was born.  My doctor had been out of town the week that I was suppose to have my week 38 appointment so it got pushed back until August 8 (I would have been 39 weeks on August 10).  Due to my history of gestational hypertension and MTHFR we were doing another ultrasound to check on growth and fluid.  She was measuring big, about 8 and a half pounds (especially since Avery was 6 lbs. 5 oz when she was born at week 38), and my fluid was a little high.  I didn't really think anything about it and headed to my appointment.  While I was in the waiting room, I noticed that my contractions (that I had been having for a couple weeks) were getting a little stronger and seemed to be a little more consistent.  

I finally got called back and they weighed me and took my blood pressure.  This is where it all started going kind of crazy.  My blood pressure was 150 over 100.  I had been taking it about twice a week and it had been holding pretty steady about 130 over in the 80s.  My blood pressure is not that high outside of pregnancy but it always seems to go up toward the end but it was still within the "safe" range that my doctor and I had talked about.  So, I was a little surprise to hear it had jumped up that high over the weekend.  

They took me to a room and immediately my doctor's nurse came in and took it 2 more times just to be sure that it was an accurate first reading.  Yep, she got the same thing.  Right away I knew this was not good.  I asked the nurse what this meant and she said she figured I was on my way over to L and D to be monitored.  So in the very short time it took my doctor to come to my exam room (way shorter than it normally takes her), I called Eric and my mom (who was watching Avery for me) to give them a heads up.  

Once my doctor got to the room, she did a quick exam and asked me a couple questions.  Then she confirmed her nurse's prediction and told me I needed to go to go to L and D.  She saw a couple of possible outcomes: my blood pressure goes down and I get to go home the next day but have to be on bed rest until the baby arrives or we have a baby later that night (she didn't think it would be before 8 since I had eaten lunch shortly before going to my appointment and if we had to get her out that night it would have to be a c-section).  

So, I headed off to L and D and gave Eric and my mom another call on the way to let them know.  Later, Eric and my mom both told me that through all of my conversations with them I was way too calm, just very matter-of-fact about it and didn't appear to be worried about it at all.  To tell the truth, I wasn't worried, I was surprisingly ok about it all.  I figured what ever happened happened and she would get here one way or another.  But I really didn't think she would be here that night, I even told Eric that he didn't need to drop everything and rush to the hospital, he could just head over once he got off work at 4:30 (which of course he didn't listen to me on and showed up not long afterwards).  

When I got to L and D, they hooked me up to the BP machine and contraction monitor and drew some blood for a couple of tests.  At this point I kind of lost track of time, I was busy texting 3 friends whom we were suppose to have ice cream with that night, a friend in my mom group whom I was asking to host a play-date the next day that I had organized, and keeping an eye on my BP and contractions.  My BP continued to rise (got up to 165 over 110) and my contractions got stronger and stronger and were consistently 2 minutes apart the whole time.  

Shortly after office hours were over my doctor came by to check on me.  She gave me a quick exam and went on to tell me that she thought it was best to get the baby out now, she just had to check with the anesthesiologist and be sure we were ok time wise with the whole eating lunch thing.  Here were her reasons for getting her out so quickly...high blood pressure and she was worried I could have a stroke (especially since it kept getting higher and higher), blood tests came back and showed signs of pre-eclampsia, possibility of gestational diabetes (high sugar levels, raised fluid, and size of the baby), contractions were so strong and close together but I was making no progress at all, the baby hadn't dropped far enough to be able to give birth vaginally yet, and since I had a previous c-section induction meds were not possible.  All in all, we needed to get her out before something bad happened to either of us (more likely it would have been me).

We quickly got the ok from the anesthesiologist and the next thing I knew I was being prepped and taken to the L and D OR.  And then Parker was here!  

I have to say, even though it was kind of a whirlwind and it's no fun having a c-section, I actually preferred it being an emergency (minus the scary "will everyone be ok?" thing) rather than a scheduled one like with Avery.  Since it was all so fast I didn't have as much time to think about it, dwell on it, and worry about it.  Before I knew it it was over and everyone was safe and sound!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Life With 2 Girls

Pin It Now! I'm not even sure where to begin or what exactly to write about since it's been so long and so much has been going on.  Adjusting to life with 2 kids is definitely not easy.  A while back I ran into an old friend at the grocery store.  She knew I was pregnant and she had recently had her second child.  She told me that before she had the second child, friends had told her how easy it was.  However, she said, anyone who tells you it's easy is lying or has just blocked out the memory of how hard it is.  She said there had been times when all 3 of them were sitting there crying.  Well, I have to say, she was completely right! Having a 2nd child is so hard!  And just like her, we've had our moments of all 3 of us crying!  Don't get me wrong, I love my girls more than anything but it has it's challenging moments, very challenging moments.  

It probably doesn't help that the new baby (we'll call her Parker- that was one of my favorite name that did not actually get picked) is not the best sleeper, just like her big sister.  She wants to be held constantly when she sleeps, and when I have to keep up with a 2 year old (yep, Avery had her second birthday, yay!!!) it can be a little tough.  We have tried everything, swaddling, carseat, bouncer, swing, crib, co-sleeper, pacifiers, white noise, slings and carriers, anything and everything I've heard of or read, we have tried.  Some work better than others, like the carrier works well (most of the time) if we are out doing stuff and moving but not so well when Avery wants me to sit and play with her.  

I am co-sleeping with her at night and until she went through her 6 week growth spurt that was going well.  Most nights she would only get up once or twice.  However, during her growth spurt she started getting up every two hours to feed (so after the 30 minute feeding and the 15 minutes or so it takes me to fall asleep, I usually get about an hour and 15 minutes of sleep at a time) and it hasn't stopped since then and I'm pretty sure growth spurts don't last 2 weeks.  ; )

As I said, Avery was not the best of sleepers when she was an infant but at least with her it was just the two of us so I could sleep when she slept, there wasn't a whole lot of cleaning to do, and everything just revolved around her schedule.  But this time around it's completely different.  I can't sleep when Parker sleeps cause I'm having to entertain (or at the very least keep and eye on) Avery.  When I do finally have a break cause both girls are sleeping, I have to try to clean the house (while holding Avery usually) since I have a 2 year old who makes it look like a tornado went through the play area everyday.  And I still have to maintain Avery's routine since she has to go to school at a certain time, eat lunch, go to nap, have dinner, take a bath, etc.  It's not like I can just have dinner when I get the chance like we did with Avery.  

I could totally deal with everything, if only she would let me put her down to sleep every once in a while.  But I have no idea how to help her learn how to do that at this age.  I keep trying but it just doesn't seem to work, if anything it's getting worse.  She's starting to be picker about her sleep: noises are starting to wake her up, light is starting to bother her, etc.  I just feel at a loss for what to do while still being able to take care of both of my children. 

Ok, enough of the pity party, on to happier things!

Avery has had so many exciting things happen lately.  First, she started preschool!  She is in a wonderful toddler program at a school I absolutely love!  It's a French immersion school that, although not an official Montessori school, incorporates Montessori works into their classrooms.  She only goes 2 mornings a week from 9 to noon but it's nice to have some one-on-one time with Parker and to have a chance to run some errand with only 1 child.  The first week was a little tough.  She would cry when I left, but not for too long according to her teacher.  But she also didn't want to leave when I came to pick her up, which I thought was a good sign.  The past 2 weeks though have been completely different, she can't wait to go to school and gives me a quick kiss good bye and runs off to play with her friends.  On days she doesn't go to school she asks to go see her teacher and friends.  Plus she's already speaking some French, she can count to 3 and says hello, good bye, thank you, and please.  So, I couldn't be happier with how that is going!

We also had Avery's second birthday!  We had so much fun and the birthday celebrations lasted for about 5 days.  One day/night for each of the following: my parents, our little family, Eric's family, the party with friends, and my sister and BIL.  It was a little crazy around here and the poor child didn't understand why she suddenly didn't get cake and ice cream everyday once it was all over!  : )  She got some really great presents; a doll house, a bike, a Little Tikes Cozy Truck, a cash register, a doctor kit, a fruit cutting set, a Mr. Potato Head, a phonics magnet set, and some dress-up clothes.  And that was all just from family, we actually asked her friends not to bring gifts but to do a donation to the Ronald McDonald House if they wanted (which I loved and think we will try to do every year).  

Parker is such an amazing and sweet little girl.  I can't believe how much she has already changed since she was born.  She is now so alert and curious when she is awake.  She is getting so strong, does a great job at holding her head up and loves to "stand up."  Besides not wanting to be put down to sleep, she rarely cries and is completely happy to be put down when she is awake, she loves to just watch what is going on around her.  Her smile and laugh make my heart melt!  

Taken at 1 month old

I know I was whining and complaining about the whole sleep thing, but I have to admit, I am a pretty lucky mom, it could be so much worse.  She's a happy, healthy baby and I know it will get better!  However, it is nice to get some of this off my chest, just being able to vent makes me feel better.  

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Better Late Than Never

Pin It Now! Not the baby but the blog post letting everyone know she has arrived, she was actually early!!!  We had a beautiful baby girl on Monday, August 8 at 7:24 pm.  I'm not going to get into the whole birth story yet but I'm happy to say she arrived safe and sound.  We are all adjusting to life as a family of 4.  Until I have more time to write, I'll end this with a couple of photos of the girls from our newborn/2 year/family photo session!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

So Many Milestones

Pin It Now! I've mentioned that Avery has moved into her big girl bed, which is still going great!  But we also started another BIG milestone about a 2 weeks ago.  For 3 days in a row Avery would tell me that she needed to go poop and wanted to go in the potty (we've had a potty seat sitting in her bathroom for months, she's been interested in it, wanting to sit on it in her diaper and all, but not actually wanting to use it).  Each day she told me this twice.  The first 2 days she didn't make it to the potty in time the first time but she would for the second.  One the 3rd day she went both times in the potty.  

I talked to my sister (the toddler teacher who has helped potty train over a hundred kids) and she told me to start potty training.  I was in shock!!!  I mean, I knew that all the signs were pointing to it but I couldn't fathom actually potty training my 21 month old.  I mean, really?!?!  So my sister gave us some tips on how to do it.  Here is what she suggested:

- the day before we start put underwear on over her diaper so she gets familiar with them

- if possible, stay at home for at least 2 days when starting to potty training

- take her to the bathroom every 30 minutes and before and after she eats or drinks

- if she doesn't want to use the bathroom, tell her she has to try to use it before we can... go outside, play, have snack, etc. (must be things that parents are willing to push back)

- once she gets the hang of using the potty at home venture out to places where a bathroom is easily accessible

- accidents are ok and WILL happen, it's a learning opportunity, but have the child clean up themselves and the mess afterwards

- once you make the switch to underwear don't go back and forth between diaper/pull-ups and underwear, it can be very confusing for the child.  However diapers are still fine when they are sleeping

- make a big deal about everything related to going potty; buying supplies, going  to the bathroom in the potty, etc.  Be super excited about it and it will rub off on her

The next day Avery and I went shopping for potty training supplies.  First, Avery got to pick out her big girl underwear.  She was pretty excited about it and couldn't decide on just one theme, and since I knew we would need more than one pack, she got to pick out her 3 favorites (Dora, Minnie Mouse, and Fairies).  Next we went and found some potty time books to read when she is in the bathroom.  I picked out several books about using the potty and then she got to pick out 3 more books of her choice.  Avery also got to pick out a cool basket that holds her books in the bathroom.  The last few things we picked up were things for going potty when we were out and about.  We got a potty seat that folds up and fits in my bag and a small collapsable potty for in my car.

During nap that day I washed all the underwear and when she woke up she got to pick which ones she wanted to wear over her diaper.  She was very proud of them and made sure that she showed them to Nana, Papa, and Daddy when they came over/got home.  We kept talking about what a big girl she was and how she was ready to start using the potty.  We got her books and book basket all set up in the bathroom and started using it that afternoon in a very laid back way (she did still have her diaper on all that afternoon).  She went pee pee in her potty chair several times but she still went in her diaper, too.

The next day we went for it!  It was a Friday so I was by myself and it was an interesting day, frustrating at times.  I think our biggest problem was that we tried to keep her in a more confined area, one that wouldn't be as difficult to clean up (so it was mostly the kitchen, dining room, and outside).  Well, she did not like that at all and it made her very whiny and fussy.  She had several accidents but also several successes.  But by the end of the day I was exhausted!

The next day Eric and I decided to say screw it and let her go where ever she wanted in the house (but we did cover the new couch with her extra water proof bed liners).  This made her a lot happier and we started to have even more success.  She would go pee pee almost every time she went to use it.  However, she would get so excited that she went, that she would stand up after a couple little tiny drops, clap for herself, and want to dump it in the toilet.  She would do this 4 or 5 times at each sitting.  The real problem with this was that she never actually completely emptied her bladder and she would then go off and in less than 5 minutes have an accident.  We kept trying to get her to sit longer but it just wasn't working.  

The next morning (day 2 of potty training house lock down) Eric thought it might be a good idea for Avery to try out the travel potty seat here at home so that her first experience with it wasn't out in a public bathroom that is unfamiliar and possibly a little scary.  So, we put it on the potty and had her sit down on it.  She immediately went and we started telling her that we could hear her going pee pee.  She thought it was pretty cool and as she listened she kept going and going and going, until she emptied her bladder!!!  After that she had no accident.  So we tried it at the next potty time and it worked again!  We decided that instead of using the awkward travel potty seat we would go buy on that fits on the potty better.  I ran out at nap time and bought a potty seat and taller stool.  Since making the switch from the potty chair to the potty seat, she has only had 3 accidents and that's been over a week and a half!

I don't want to drag this post out too much so I'll write later about taking our potty training girl out in public for the first time and how that's go!  But boy have we had a lot of excitement at our house lately!!!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Move to the Big Girl Bed

Pin It Now! So Avery has now been in her big girl bed for almost 2 weeks.  I was actually surprised by how smoothly it went.  We had planned on moving her into the room and bed on Friday, June 24 but Eric won a big award at work so I took him out to celebrate that night and we pushed the big switch back to Saturday night instead. We kept the bed time routine as close to the old one as possible.  Eric and I both gave her a bath and brushed her teeth.  Then we headed into her big girl room where I said good night and gave her lots of cuddles, hugs, and kisses.  Once I said good night and left the room it was only her and Eric.  He got her all lotioned up and in her PJs.  

Now, this is where the routine had to change a little.  Before, they would sit down in the glider and read 2 books. Since there is no glider in the new room they had to read sitting in her bed.  Once they were done it was cuddle time.  Once again, this usually happened on the glider but instead had to happen on her bed.  She needed a little more cuddle time with daddy than usual but handled it all really well.  After the cuddling, he got up, told her he loved her and good night.  He never actually mentioned staying in the bed or anything.  

It took her a while to fall asleep that night, about an hour.  But she never cried or anything, just talked and played in bed.  The whole time Eric and I sat glued to the monitor listening for sounds of her getting up from bed.  We were sure we would have to go in there a ton of times and put her back to bed.  However, she did not get out of her bed one time!!!  We were amazed!!!  

The next morning we heard her making noise and went into her room, once again convinced that she would be up and out of bed playing in her room.  However, there she sat on her bed, quietly talking and playing with the toys she sleeps with (Seahorse, Baby, and Lamb Lovey).  Once we went in, she told us she wanted to get up from bed, so we picked her up and cuddled her for minute, just like in her old room.

And that is pretty much how it has gone ever since, for both nap and bed time.  It's almost like she doesn't realize she can get out of bed on her own, even though she does it all day long when we are playing in there.  For some reason when it's time to sleep she forgets that she can get in and out by herself.  We got so lucky!!!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Week 34

Pin It Now! I can't believe I only have about 6 weeks left to go!  That's under a month and a half!  And boy do I still have a ton to do!

Yesterday was my week 34 appointment and it went really well.  I had an ultrasound first to check the placenta (because of my blood clotting- MTHFR) and growth and fluid.  Everything looked good.  She's still head down and measuring at about the 80th percentile for weight (which I totally don't trust those measurements- they told us Avery was going to be almost 8 lbs and she wasn't even 6 and a half).  Fluid was a little on the high end but nothing to worry about and the placenta looked great.  

Check up was quick and smooth, still on track for the VBAC and I was happy that my doctor said that the projected weight would not be something that we use to determine if we have to have a c-section or not, more just something for us to be aware of and keep in mind.  Phew!  I had already told Eric he has to go with me to the last ultrasound appointment so that if they tried to tell me we had to have a c-section because of weight I would have him there to support me in disagreeing with them.  I know there are plenty of reasons for c-sections and I'm ok with that but to me weight is not one of them unless it becomes a safety concern during labor.  

Other than that, doing pretty good.  Blood pressure is down (yesterday it was 126 over 84, yay).  All this rest while Avery rests has been good for me.  However, I am definitely starting to feel 34 weeks pregnant.  It just hit me within the last week.  My feet hurt, my back aches, I have to pee constantly, and I am not moving a quick as I was, which is hard when I am trying to keep up with a 21 month old.  

As I said I still have so much to do!  The house is a mess since I can't clean when Avery naps and yeah right I can clean while she's awake.  Eric is trying to help but he's been so busy with work.  I have to start working on my bag for the hospital and buying a couple things for Avery (big sister presents) and the baby (birth day gift and baby book).  I also have to finish organizing the nursery and getting all the baby stuff out, cleaned, and ready to go. It just seems like the list is never ending!  I'm hoping to get a lot done this weekend.  Wish me luck!!!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Summer Activities for Toddlers

Pin It Now! Starting in late spring/early summer I began an informal list of things that I wanted to do with Avery this summer.  It's our last summer as a family of 3 and I wanted her to have a lot of fun and have some quality time with us.  Some of the activities are things we can do as a family on the weekend and others are things for Avery and I to do just the two of us (or with our mom group) during the week.  As time has gone on, the list has grown and though I don't think we will have time to get to everything on the list, we are going to do as many as we can (and maybe save some of them as special activities to do with Avery after the new baby comes- Eric is taking 3 weeks off and we want to be sure to spoil her with attention, too).  Here is our....

Summer "Bucket List"

Places to go...
- Nearby state park for a nature walk
- Zoo
- Botanical Gardens (St. Louis and one here in town)
- Grant's Farm
- Butterfly House
- Magic House 
- On a picnic
- Swimming pool
- Splash pad
- Farmer's Market
- Out for ice cream
- Strawberry picking
- Library
- Horse Stables
- Tour candy shop (make and sell best candy in town)
- Play at the park (try to go to as many different ones as we can, as well as our favorites)
- Huge fish tank at Bass Pro Shop

Things to do...
- Play with sidewalk chalk
- Paint with water
- Play in the rain
- Plant seeds and watch them grow
- Sensory tub with dirt (something like this or this
- Play with shaving cream
- Fly a kite or balloon kite
- Play in the mud
- Play with an ice block
- Make and play with a toddler sprinkler
- Play with water balloons
- "Swim" in kiddie pool in backyard

Food to make...
- Mini personal pizza
- Cookies
- Smoothies
- Ice Cream floats (root beer or cream soda)

Crafts to do...
- Finger paint
- Edible necklace
- Make and play with bathtub puffy paint 
- Handprint/footprint craft (thinking garden stone)
- Decorate t-shirts (one for Avery and one for baby #2)

We have a good start on the list and have been having a great time doing them, it has definitely kept us busy.  I love that it makes what we are doing more intentional and we don't have those "what in the world are we going to do today" moments, we simply look at the list and pick something that interests us! Anything in particular you have done or are planning on doing this summer with your toddler or preschooler?  I'd love to hear your ideas!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Now for a little something besides Feed Me Friday...

Pin It Now! Once again, I have to say I have been such a bad blogger!  I feel like a broken record, I keep saying that and yet I don't get any better.  The only things I have posted in forever are my Feed Me Friday posts.  So I guess I will do a little catch up though I doubt anyone is still reading the blog, since there is nothing really to read!  : )

Pregnancy is going well and I reached 32 weeks this week.  Kind of a scary week for me cause this is the week that I got put on bed rest for gestational hypertension when I was pregnant with Avery.  

At my appointment 2 weeks ago my BP was already up (147/87) but since is hadn't reached 150/90 my doctor said it wasn't good but we didn't have to go on bed rest yet. 

I had an appointment again today and everyday this week I have been stopping by grocery stores and pharmacies to take my BP (wanted to be prepared if it was high), it's remained under 150/90 but continues to be in the 140's and 80's.  At the appointment it was 143 over 84 (lower than it has been), my doctor still wasn't happy with it but not overly concerned.  We looked back at my charts from this pregnancy and my first and noticed that with both, my blood pressure is always low at the beginning but right around week 20 it starts creeping up.  We decided to go ahead and run some blood work just be be sure there were no signs of pre-preeclamsia (which luckily came back normal).  

So for the rest of the pregnancy (or at least until something changes) I have to take my blood pressure at least once a day.  If it's 150/90 or higher I have to take it a couple hours later and if it's still over 150/90 I have to call the doctor, if it reachers 160 or 100 I have to call immediately.  I also have to rest and relax anytime Avery is sleeping (so during nap and after she goes to bed I am on bed rest).  Can you say there goes the house!!!  I don't know how I am going to keep up with her and keep the house clean!  Oh well, such is life!  And I have to start having weekly appointments.

So, that's all the "bad" stuff but there is good stuff too!  : )  The baby is already head down (yes, I know, she can still flip back to breach but Avery was NEVER head down so I am hoping this is a good sign).  My scar from my first c-section is not close to where the placenta attached.  And as of now we are still good for attempting a VBAC.  YAY!!!  I know it can still change but I am trying to stay positive and hope for the best!

Besides the pregnancy, we are doing great and have had a busy start to the summer.  We have been spending lots of time with friends, going to the park, the pool, spray grounds, lunches/picnics, and even went strawberry picking (Avery loved that one, she sat herself down right in the middle of the row and was eating strawberries straight off the vine, she was covered in strawberry juice, it was so cute).  

Last week, Eric had a training in St. Louis so we decided to go with him since my sister lives there.  My dad also joined us (since her just retired) and we had an incredible week.  We went to Grant's Farm, the Botanical Gardens, the Butterfly House, The Magic House, and the Zoo.  Avery loved everything but I think her favorite was probably the Magic House.  If you are ever in St. Louis and have kids you HAVE to check it out, it is amazing!!!    

 The Magic House

 Grant's Farm

 Botanical Gardens

 The Zoo (her favorites were the hippos and "baby" elephants- not really babies but still smaller than the adults)

We also got to go spend a morning in my sister's classroom.  She is a Montessori Toddler Teacher and Avery had so much fun working in her classroom.  I was really impressed with how well she did (all that Tot School really paid off). She did a wonderful job at getting works out, concentrating on them, and then putting everything away.  She was such a little sponge and soaked up everything!

Avery's new big girl room is ready and we are planning on moving her into it tomorrow night.  We actually have had it ready for almost 2 weeks but we didn't want to move her into it before going to St. Louis and then putting her into a pack and play while there.  Then when we got back from St. Louis we wanted to give her a couple nights to settle back into her sleep routine (each night of sleep in St. Louis got a little worse, not fun).  So it looks like tomorrow will be the first night in a big girl bed.  Any advice or suggestions on how to help her transition would be great!  Right now the plan is to do the bedtime routine as close to the same as possible.  Then tell her that she needs to stay in bed cause it's time to go to sleep (avoiding saying "not to get out of bed" since kids don't hear the not).  Then if (or rather when) she gets up, going in, going back over staying in bed, putting her back in bed, and leaving again, then repeat, repeat, repeat, until she's asleep.  I'm so nervous about it!  Not sure if it's the not knowing how it will go, the fear of it going horribly, or the fact that my baby girl is moving into a big girl bed!  

Ok, it's getting late and I'm tired, so it's off to bed for me.  Hopefully I don't wait so long to post again!  Hope everyone is doing well and enjoying their summer!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Tot School Tools and CSN Review

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When CSN Stores asked me if I was interested in doing a review, I was so excited and knew I wanted to get some things for tot school.  I started to look around their website and was very impressed with both their selection of products and also their prices.  They have so many of the items that Carissa at 1+1+1=1 recommends.  

Melissa and Doug Alphabet Nesting and Stacking Blocks 
Wedgits Deluxe Set

Melissa and Doug Cutting Food Box Play Set

Building Words Tabletop Pocket Chart


Primer Pack

These are just a couple of the recommended ones, they have so many more.  They carry a wonderful selection of brands, too; Melissa and Doug, Guidecraft, Plan Toys, Patch Products, and more.   

It was a really hard choice for me, there were so many tot school tools I wanted to get.  After a lot of thought, I finally decided on these three...
Counting Bear Cups

Melissa and Doug Magnetic Wooden Alphabet in a Box
Tall Stacker Pegs Building Set
I was really impressed with how easy ordering was and with how quickly they got to us.  In less than a week after ordering, I had all the items (they shipped the Tall Stacker Set separately) and we were ready to start playing!  

Tall Stacker Pegs Building Set

Avery's favorite was probably the Tall Stacker Pegs Building Set.  I was really impressed with how many pieces came with it.  Right now she pretty much likes playing with the large purple pegboard (it's orange on the other side) and the pegs.  I think the building pegboard pieces are going to be something she grows in to, which I love because it makes it a toy that will grow with her and hopefully keep her interest for years to come.  

She had the best time playing with it and it kept her interest for over 30 minutes.  Then when Papa and Nana came over that night she was really excited to show them the toy and spent another 30 minutes playing with it.  I loved how much she concentrated on what she was doing.  So cute!

Wooden Alphabet in a Box

Avery has suddenly developed a great interest in the alphabet.  She is constantly asking about letters and telling you letters that she sees around her.  So, I figured this Melissa and Doug Alphabet in a Box would be perfect for her and boy was I right.  I love how high quality they are, the wood makes them extra sturdy and the size is just right for little hands.  The bright colors make them fun and give them another learning/teaching attribute.  

We started out by getting out the first 5 letters of the alphabet in all capitals.  She loves going over to her magnetic chalkboard, playing with them, and telling me what each of the letters are. She is getting really good at it and can even say them in the right order.  I just love hearing her say "A, B, C, D, E" with a big smile on her face.  Soon I will add a couple more letters and we can start working on those, too.  

Counting Bear Cups

The Counting Bear Cups was one that I was really excited about.  I had seen them before and knew that they were great for working on so many concepts; colors, sorting, counting, addition, and subtraction.  They came with 5 different colored cups and 50 colored bears, 10 of each color to match.  

Avery still isn't super excited about sorting but she is really into the colors blue and yellow right now so I thought that if I used those it would keep her interest. I was kind of right.  She sorted a couple and then became more interested in checking out and playing with the bears.  I think this is another one of those things that she will have to grow into a little.  But it has so many possible uses that I am looking forward to playing around with them and seeing what I can come up with.  

CSN Stores not only has a wonderful selection of toys and educational materials, but they have over 200 stores that carry just about anything you could be looking for.  Be sure to stop by and take a look at all their wonderful products! 

Disclosure: I was provided with a gift certificate in order to purchase the products for this review (I was responsible for any expense over the gift certificate value). All views and opinions with regard to the products or the company are my own and were not influenced by the company.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Catch Up

Pin It Now! So once again I have been MIA for a while, not as long as last time but still not good!  Things have been busy here but going well.  We have taken a break from Tot School for the time being but want to get back to it soon.

Last week we had beautiful wether so we spent a lot of time outside; going on walks, playing in the yard, and going to the park.  Our favorite outdoor activities were blowing and popping bubbles, drawing with sidewalk chalk, and playing in the water table. 

We also had a couple playdates and went to our monthly Gourmet Gals luncheon.  This month's theme was "green" foods and could be either organic or locally grown products.  I decided to make organic hummus.  It's a really simple recipe but is always a big hit where ever I take it.  I don't really have too many measurements for it but here is the recipe incase you are interested:

1 can chickpeas 
Extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic

Put the can of chickpeas and garlic in a food processor with a bit of olive oil.  Begin to mix it and continue to add olive oil until desired consistency (it always seems like a lot of olive oil).  Add cumin, salt, and pepper to taste.

A lot of times I'll also add kalamata olives to it and that's really yummy, too.

Sunday we headed downtown to the Earth Day celebration but didn't stay too long.  Our city's Earth Day has turned pretty commercial, which is so disappointing, and the kid's activities are a bit old for Avery.  So instead we went to a park and played for a while.  

This week has been even busier than last week.  A good friend and neighbor went into labor on Tuesday morning, so another friend and I have been taking turns letting their dog out.  Plus I made her a basket full of snacks and things to help out when they get home.  Next week, once they are home and Easter is over, we are going to start making meals for them.  

Then on Tuesday night I get a call from one of my friends in my mom group.  She was suppose to host an Easter Egg decorating Party today but her son wasn't feeling well, so she asked me if I would be able to host it.  It sounded like too much fun to cancel so I agreed.  Which means I've spent the last day and a half cleaning, shopping, decorating, and getting organized for having 7 families over for a morning of chaos (so 7 moms and 10 kids- 2 of them too young to join in).  It ended up being a lot of fun and I'm glad I did it but I'm glad it's over now.  

We've also been spending our weekends getting ready for the new baby.  Since we did Avery's room in a gender neutral theme (which doesn't really matter now since we are having another girl), the new baby will get Avery's nursery and Avery will get a new big girl room.  However, in order to do that we have to move the office down to the basement.  We have a storage area that is partially finished (walls are done but not the floor), so we are going to move the office down there.  It's a huge area so half of it will stay storage and the other half will be office.  We are dividing it in the middle with bookshelves on the office side and storage shelves on the storage side.  But in order to do all of this we have had to get rid of a lot of stuff and do a major reorganizing.  We are now at the point where we can start moving the office down and then we can start on Avery's new room, which I am so excited about!!!  We are doing it in a fairy theme.  The inspiration for the room comes from these two pieces.


My parents are getting her the height chart for Easter and we are getting her the picture. Now I just have to decide on the color of the walls.  Not a big pink person so I'm leaning towards purple or green.  But still haven't decided.  The picture should get here tomorrow and maybe seeing it in person will help me decide.  

Hope everyone is having a great week!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Guest Post- Tips For Teaching Beginning Reading

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Guest post by Amy from Oh So Savvy Mom

Oh So Savvy Mom

Beginning to teach your child to read before they enter kindergarten (or before they are kindergarten age if you homeschool) can be fun and rewarding for both parent and child.  Most children begin showing signs of varying levels of reading readiness at about 3 1/2.  Some children are ready to read earlier, and some children are ready later.  During the time I taught preschool I found that about 80% children in my 4 year old classes were ready, after we gave them the tools, to begin reading at the beginning of the year.  The same 80% were reading at a beginning to mid-first grade level or higher by the end of the year.  If your child is not ready to read don't worry, in the long run whether your child learned to read months earlier or later than his peers is rarely going to have an impact on their overall education.

So where do you start?  We've all heard that reading readiness starts in infancy so let's just fast forward to the toddler and preschool years.

Age 1-2
  • Begin singing the alphabet song!  If you know an alphabet song that goes through both letters and sounds all the better.  If you don't know one, try googling, and see if you can find one that you like.  Or you can try this site:
  • Sing the alphabet song at breakfast or lunch when the child is in his or her high chair and not otherwise occupied.  For even more cognitive stimulation you can throw in some flash cards (not for the child to eat, mind you, but to show as you sing ;). Choose flash cards with pictures as this will help later with beginning letter sound recognition.
  • (For the 2 year olds) Get magnetic letters for the fridge.  These are so inexpensive and are such a great teaching tool.  Choose 3-5 letters to have on the fridge (at the child's level).  Play with them for a couple minutes each day and talk about the sounds they say and words that begin with that sound.

Ages 3-4
  • If you have already been singing the alphabet song with letter sounds for a while you'll be surprised at your child's ability to volunteer the beginning sounds of words they come across during the day.  For example, my little guy used to love telling me things like, (while playing with his animal figures) "T-T-Tiger, Hey, Mom, did you know tiger starts with t-t-tiger?" Me, "Wow, you know that tiger starts with t-t! Do you know what letter makes the t-t sound?" Him, "T!!!"
  • When your child is ready to have individual letters introduced begin with LOWERCASE.  In order to begin reading children need to know the lowercase letters.
  • It isn't necessary to teach the letters in order.  Some of the easiest letters for children to remember and make the sounds for are: m, p, a, s, t, b
  • Avoid introducing similar letters like p, b, and d together.  Remember that a lot of children have difficulty with these letters.  If your child does have trouble with these letters don't hesitate to help.
  •  Don't feel like you need to teach the entire alphabet before your child can begin reading.  You can make quite a few words out of the letters: m, a, p, s, t, b, g, h (these are some of the easily recognizable letters).  Lets look at some of the words you can make: has, bag, hat, pam, sat, sam, a, pat, bat.  You can make little storybooks with simple words. 
  • Use only short vowels first until your child has mastered reading simple words with short vowels.
  • Avoid beginning reading books that mix sight words with simple phonetic words. (Two exceptions to this rule are "the" and "have") Sight words are great, but they are a little too cognitively advanced for 3 and 4 year olds.
  • Teach children to sound out words like there is a motor in their mouth (aren't most kids motor mouths anyway!). Put your finger under the letter and make the letter sound with the child.  Keep making that sound until your finger gets to the next letter and you begin making the next sound.  Sounding out words with this kind of fluidity helps children to hear the complete word.
  • Keep it upbeat, praising your child's successes (effort is great success!).  Keep reading sessions very short...unless your child is begging for more!
And remember, the most important thing is to have FUN!

Amy is a stay-at-home mom to two darling boys, age 3 and 1.  Her husband is finishing up his 4th of five years of a PhD program in Clinical Psychology and getting ready to start his year-long residency in San Antonio.  She loves finding deals, living frugally, cloth diapering, finding new and great products, and hosting giveaways.  Her blog is about her adventures in mommy-hood and to get the word out about products she's recently discovered.  Make sure you stop by and visit her at Oh So Savvy Mom!