Monthly Archives: September 2015

Education before Preschool

“Can you recommend any educational workbooks or other items for toddlers?” This is a question I received often as an elementary teacher. My answer was always the same, “Children at that age learn the best through play and conversation.”

Now that I have a daughter of my own, I can honestly say that I still whole-heartedly feel the same way. Interacting with your children is the best educational tool you can give them right from the start and it doesn’t cost a cent.

Here are some tips for educational interaction:

• Reading books to your child from birth
• Point objects out to your child and explain what they are, whether you’re at   home or out for a walk – “Can you hold the red ball?” “Do you see the green leaf?”
• Talk about what you are doing – “I am pouring a cup of flour into the mixing bowl.”
• As you are playing with them you can ask questions about their toys – “What color is this puzzle piece?” “What is this called?”
• Attend your local library story time for their age group
• Do age appropriate arts and crafts projects with your child

This past summer my daughter really enjoyed using sidewalk chalk. She would request I draw shapes and letters. As I drew them, I would prompt her, “What letter is this?” “What color am I using?” “What shape is this?”

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Education doesn’t always have to involve sitting at the table with workbooks. Even with my own elementary students I would consistently make an effort to find out of the box activities to simulate learning. Dena has a great post about how she is educating her son at home. I plan on trying out her shape activity with my daughter this winter!

As a mom, I now realize from my own experience that my answer won’t completely satisfy every parent, myself included. This past February, as I was filling out countless preschool waitlist forms, I had a mini “freak out.” Even though preschool is a year and a half away, in my mind it didn’t feel like enough time to make sure she is prepared. When in truth she is very prepared. Through reading and play she has learned her colors, shapes, numbers, alphabet, and counting.

But I will admit – through my own panic of feeling as though preschool is fast approaching, I myself, began searching for educational tools. Any teacher will tell you their two favorite places to shop for classroom items is the Dollar Tree and Target’s dollar section. So this summer, I found myself making a few trips to check out their inventory. I found some great items that we use a few times a week! So if you are looking for those additional educational tools, I recommend shopping there!

What fun, educational activities do you do with your children?

Copyrighted By: Boldly Bravely You

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Dollar Tree
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Target

Who Am I?

Who am I now?

This is a question I still struggle with, a little over two years into my motherhood journey. Let me previse this with, I love being a stay-at-home mom. I enjoy every precious moment with her and I wouldn’t change it! Now, with that being said, let me dive into what I mean.

Before I had my daughter, I measured myself based on academic achievements and my job title. I know these things don’t make up who I am as a person, but they are the tools I used to measure myself with. Even now when people ask what I do for a living I say, “I am a stay-at-home mom, but before I had my daughter I was a teacher.” For some reason I always feel the need to throw that in there. As if saying I am a stay-at-home mom doesn’t count or isn’t good enough. Silly right?

Have any of you ever gone through something like this?

In truth, I know that being a stay-at-home mom is a very important job. It’s the most important job I will EVER have! It’s a job full of love, fun, tantrums, tears, laughter, milestones, and LOTS of patience. So why do I feel the need to add to my verbal resume? After a lot of thought, I realized its because I have always measured myself by my academic achievements. Somewhere along the line I married who I am based solely upon my academics…

When I first had the idea for this post, I sat down to really think about how I felt about who I am. But more importantly, I tried to think about who I really am outside of my academic achievements. So here goes…

I am a woman.

I am a wife.

I am a mother.

I am a lover of photography.

I am patient at times.

I am antsy at times.

I am kind.

I am Bold.

I am Brave.

I am ME!

Who are you?

Copyrighted By: Boldly Bravely You

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Baby Gear and Apartment Living

As I mentioned previously, when we first had our daughter we lived in a very small two-bedroom apartment. So as you can image, creating a baby registry had its challenges. There were thousands upon thousands of baby products available and we didn’t have the luxury of putting whatever we wanted on the list. This did force us to be smart about what we put on the list, as well as what we chose to purchase ourselves. As time goes on, I plan to discuss several baby products I chose based on living in an apartment. So if you are about to have your first baby in a small living environment please stay tuned, as I will share some of my favorite baby products for small spaces.

As we were approaching the solid food stage, my husband and I realized we needed a seat for her. My mom kept pushing highchairs on me. “We can get you one of those small, compact high chairs from Kmart. You can fold it up and lay it against the wall when you aren’t using it.” While I know she meant well, that just wasn’t practical. We didn’t have enough room to lay it against the wall and have it be out of the way. Our daughter could have easily crawled over to it and have it fall on her. Unfortunately, the highchairs that clamp to the table were also out of the question because it requires a four-legged table.

Summer Infant 3-Stage Booster SuperSeat

One night while searching the Internet we came across the Summer Infant 3-Stage Booster SuperSeat. There are so many reasons why I LOVE this as an alternative to a traditional highchair! The first being the price – $40 at Wal-Mart! Of course this was not my main reason for choosing this seat, but as a one-income family – affordable, budget friendly items are always preferred.

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It was the perfect seat for both play and mealtime! I loved the foam insert – it kept her snug and comfortable while sitting upright. The seat itself was VERY easy to clean. However, as your child begins to feed him/herself there messy hands can reach the toys on either side of them even though you may have the snack tray directly in front. At this stage of her development, I did spend a lot of time cleaning the crevices of the toys and tray itself. I was never bothered or frustrated by this, because it never seemed to take too long. Do bear in mind; it does take more time then when you were the one feeding your child.

The snack tray comes on and off easily just like a highchair tray. I love the fact that I can rotate the tray 360 degrees depending on what I need it for. This seat comes with a yellow lock to hold the food tray in place while eating. In addition, the tray isn’t so easily manipulated, which is GREAT for this mama! I didn’t have to worry that my daughter would slide the tray while eating, spilling food all over the floor. We had the seat sitting in our living room with a waterproof mat underneath. It worked perfectly!

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The 3-point safety harness worked great with no issues! If there had not been a tray attached, then I would have preferred a 5-point harness instead. We never took the tray off to use it in booster mode, so I can’t speak to the security. Although, I imagine if your child was using it in booster mode they are fully capable of holding themselves up. Our daughter did reach the age where we could have used it in booster mode, but our apartment was so small there wasn’t enough room for more than two kitchen chairs.

My favorite part about this seat is that it’s a multipurpose item and a space saver! These are truly the most important aspects you need in a baby product when you live in a small space. We didn’t have a lot of floor space, so having an item that could help her sit up while eating and playing was the perfect fit. At the end of each evening we would set it out of the way and pile her stuff animals on top!

Our daughter used this seat in Stage 2 mode, from ages 4 to 21 months. She had plenty of legroom between the seat and the tray, so we never had to remove the foam insert. Our SuperSeat was very durable and still looks great! If you plan on having multiple children I recommend purchasing a gender-neutral seat. Even though we no longer live in an apartment, I still plan on pulling this beauty out of storage to use again someday!

Do you have the Summer Infant 3-Stage Booster SuperSeat or something similar? Do you LOVE it? Why or Why not?

Copyrighted By: Boldly Bravely You

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It’s Raining Crackers

I recently read a post about being an “anti-goldfish mama” and I totally get it! A few months ago our toddler went through a phase where she wanted to eat nothing but crackers. She didn’t limit herself to just Goldfish Crackers, but it was one of our options in the cabinet. In order to combat this almost two-week phase we had to remove all crackers from the house. So began a very challenging two weeks!

In the beginning she would pick at two of her meals, eat a decant amount of the third, and want nothing to do with her bedtime snack. For me, it was a particularly challenging time, as I worry heavily about her nutrition. The thought of giving into her at times crossed my mind because I was concerned that she wasn’t getting enough to eat. Then I quickly remembered that crackers hold NO nutritional value. Caving would have demonstrated two things I have been working hard to combat as a parent.

  1. If I hold out long enough, eventually Mom will cave and give me what I want. (This can apply to so many things in a the mind of a toddler and I didn’t want to start that battle.)
  1. I don’t need to eat health. (For me this is huge! I really want our daughter and future children to understand the importance of nutrition and how it fueling our bodies.)

My only option with all those thoughts in mind was to continue our strike on crackers! So with some tantrums and shed tears from both my daughter and myself, we stayed the course and made it through. The moment she left the cracker phase was a true relief. She was finally indulging in all her meals again!

After an experience like this you’re probably expecting me to say, ”We no longer give her crackers.” Well, I am here to tell you that simply is not the case. Yes, after my experience I can understand complete why someone would be “anti-goldfish.” While they hold no nutritional value, they still have a place. For us, it’s that extra special treat during Sunday morning service!

For all of you mamas shaking your heads – just wait, there is another option. One night while pinning meals and snacks for my toddler I came across a healthy cracker recipe. I have used it many times and it’s a great recipe! But I have to be honest – it is time CONSUMING! It takes me about 2 hours from start to finish, but it does makes over two hundred crackers. This can last us a few weeks, which is so worth it!

I don’t have a small, cracker sized cookie cutter as the recipe recommends. At first, I just pulled the dough apart! Don’t do that, it takes way too long!! Instead, I now use the collar piece of a piping bag. So if you don’t have a small cookie cutter, I suggest using whatever you have around the house.

You may notice from the photos that my crackers have a green tint to them. My secret ingredient – SPINACH! If you were in my kitchen right now helping me bake recipes for my toddler, the one thing you would notice is that all the pancakes, muffins, waffles, smoothies, etc. are GREEN! Spinach is one of those great vegetables that has no flavor, so it won’t alter the taste of what you’re preparing. It’s a great way to sneak in those veggies for your on the go toddlers!

What is your child’s go to snack?

Copyrighted By: Boldly Bravely You

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Changes: Making Mommy Friends

When I first had my daughter I was thrilled to be a stay-at-home-mom. I cherished every beautiful, challenging, and messy moment. As the days moved into weeks it eventually became time for me to return to my part-time job. It was a job I had since college. A job I kept after receiving my degree and landing my first fulltime position! Honestly, it was more than a job – it was my second home, my family. I had worked with these people for the past 6-½ years. We laughed together, shared stories of love, heartache, and struggle.

When one door closes…

My husband being the kind, patient man he is, kept telling me – “When one door closes, another one opens.” “Just let it go and move forward.” These sweet sentiments were difficult to hear. I was not prepared for this and I am a person who likes to be prepared. But now, as I look back at the last two years of my life I realize that God had a better plan. For whatever reason, he had to shut that door, that chapter of my life so I could move forward with this one. Sometimes our wisdom is best gained from looking back at the past, at least it this case.

Making mommy friends…

One thing my mom has always said is, “I should have made time for myself.” It wasn’t until I was 15 years old that she finally started meeting up with girlfriends and going out. So, before I had my daughter I was scouring the Internet looking for local mom groups. Luckily, I came across the fit4mom website, typed in my zip code and WALA! Stroller Strides classes were offered in our area. I loved the weekly workouts, play dates, and monthly moms night out! This community of amazing mamas became some of my closest friends, whom I still talk with on a regular basis.

Fast-forward to this past February and we moved into our first home, closer to my husband’s job. Meaning? You guessed it! There was no fit4mom franchise in our area! So now I had to try and make new friends all over again, but this time it was different. This time, I didn’t have a sleeping infant in a carrier. This time, I had a toddler, complete with tantrums and running shoes. See the problem?

After the first few months of hibernating in the house due to both the cold and my fears of finding my way around, I soon realized I needed to venture out of these four walls or I might go crazy! So, I found a list of local library story times and began checking them out one by one. I found most of the libraries to be amazing. So much so, that we have been frequenting them most of the summer, with little time spent outdoors…

But honestly, it wasn’t so amazing in the beginning. I was putting too much pressure on my daughter and myself during these outings for either of us to enjoy them. She did not want to sit for story time and forcing her was only making it worse. Then, I was trying to make conversations with other mamas, which just felt too forced. Truthfully, it WAS completely awkward and it showed!

After a few months of these un-enjoyable outings I decide I needed to make a change! I needed to focus on enjoying the time with my daughter. So that’s what I did! We visited the libraries during story time, giving her the option as to whether or not to go into the story time room. Since then, we have not actively participated in a single story time and you know what? It has been great!

Currently she plays with the toys and other children who don’t want to stay in the story room. Through giving her some choices and focusing on us, I began making mommy friends again. Of course it was a slow process, but it wasn’t forced or rushed. Now I get to enjoy time out with my sweet baby girl and chat with some new friends. All while chasing our toddlers around!

I would love to hear about your experiences when it comes to making friends as a new mom or after a life-changing event, such as a move! Please share your stories of success and struggle with me! Remember, we are in this together!

Copyrighted By: Boldly Bravely You

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