Saturday, June 29, 2013

Why This Isn't Hard

When I found out I was pregnant when Molly was ten months I felt panicked. It didn't help that a lot of the blogs I followed would often write posts about how hard being a mother of two can be. The whole nine months I was a ball of nerves. I worried I wouldn't love her as much. I worried I wouldn't be on top of things. I worried I would never leave my house.

Once she got here I felt so much guilt. Not just for Molly, but for Natalie too. We had to be so concerned with how Molly felt that I often felt guilty Natalie was being over looked. Like oh she is content let her be and let's play with Molly. When Molly was a newborn she was held all the time. She didn't have to cry for long at all. I never propped a bottle for her. Poor Nat has like two propped bottles a day. Sometimes she has to just cry while I'm making sure Molly doesn't burn the house down. Thank goodness Natalie is chill because that girl can be surrounded by toys on the floor for a bit. She never got to sleep in our bed. We moved her to her crib in Molly's big girl room so it would be easier on Molly.

So is two harder than one? I mean it's more work. Obviously there is another kid to put in a car seat. There is one more that needs to eat while your food gets cold. There are two baths and two outfits. Two need to go to sleep.

I told my grandma when I was pregnant with Natalie that I was worried about the love. Molly seemed to take up my whole heart. I was worried about having enough heart to go around. I was worried about how emotionally you have two kids. Having a child is an emotional roller coaster. They get hurt and it's like you lost a limb. They cry and your heart breaks. She is happy and I'm jumping up and down like an idiot. How do you feel all those emotions x2? How would I handle it?

I don't know, but you do. Your heart doubles. The joy doubles. Although you've been there already you still get giddy when they first reach for something. Even though your other one is scaling walls there is still insane excitement for the first time rolling. It doesn't matter that it's already been done by your first.

All those things make it not hard, but I'll tell you what makes it better than one. I felt like there was nothing like the love you feel from seeing your child grow. I didn't think it could be topped, but it can. It's topped by the love you feel when you see the love they have for each other. There is nothing like watching Natalie's face light up the second she can see Molly. Yesterday Molly poked her in the eye and she just laughed. {I know Nat's feelings that Molly can do no wrong since I am also the little sister} There is nothing like hearing Molly shush her and rub her belly if she cries. I burst when Molly leans right into Nat's face and talks to her. Although it worries me to find Natalie in a different place than I left her I can't help but be so insanely happy that Molly wants her next to her.

There is more work, but it's not harder. It's better. Just look at the glass half full and the fact that you almost want to go back inside by the time you get to the car won't really matter anyway.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

"She's Going To Be A Stripper"

Seriously. This was said to me at one of those home sale parties. Not just once, but multiple times from the same woman. This was of course the first time I've heard the same round about comment in this particular way. I have to give her an A+ for creativity.

You know the comments though. The "you've got your hands full" comments. So let me just get this off my chest.

You would be lucky to have a daughter like mine. What you see as wild I see as spirit. What you see as hard to control I see as guided and supported. I don't want a drone. I don't want some crazy kid either. You would be so lucky to have a child that can figure out her surroundings and make things happen for herself. You would be lucky to have a child that goes after what she wants.

Do you know why you would be so lucky? Because the person she is now is the person she will be. She is a go getter. She can make things happen for herself. She can figure it out without your help. She can push boundaries. She has a passionate heart and she wears it on her sleeve. Her spirit draws you in.

So what you see as difficult. I see as admirable. What you see as needing correction. I see as needing to be nurtured.

You guessed it. Sometimes her bull headedness can be overwhelming. Sometimes the fact that she can open every single safety device we have is daunting. Sometimes the fact that she could give two shits if I'm "leaving without her" can be tiring. But I wouldn't take another child for the world, because I can see where this child is going.

FYI if that is a stripper she will be the best damn stripper in that whole joint!

And that's all we have to say...

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Why I Love "Character Crap" {I draw the line at shoes}

You always hear moms saying "they will never wear that character crap." I'll admit that I was one of them. I thought it was tacky and went against the "style" I wanted Molly to wear. Seriously. Her style. I never felt alone in these thoughts. Most the moms I knew agreed that they weren't cute and would avoid them at all cost.

Fast forward to now. In her closet she has a Hello Kitty shirt, Bubble Guppies shirt, and a Dora dress. If she could she would have more. She can spot Dora from a mile away. I really wish stores would stop putting random Dora stuff by the produce. Clearly I am trying to avoid her at all cost. It doesn't end in clothes though. Instead of choosing one of those over the top adorable DIY birthday themes, we are going with Dora.

I had every intention of having one of those glitzy theme parties. I had a chevron romper, popcorn bags, and a couple other circus themed cuteness. I had searched pinterest for hours looking for ideas to rip off. Then one night as I was laying in bed looking through circus pins it hit me. She has no idea what the circus is. Sure she likes animals, but she won't be blown away by my efforts.

So I scratched it all. I got on Amazon and ordered a bunch of plastic table cloths, table toppers, and matching Dora everything. Even an insanely gaudy Dora wall hanging made out of a trash bag.

This is where I know I chose right. We started to tell Molly how she was going to have a Dora birthday party. You should have seen her face light up. Any time we mention party or birthday she says "Dohya!?" At the moment she is not allowed in the office because it's birthday head quarters. She will wait at the door saying "Dohya, birthday, presents." She's excited, and I know on July 6th when she walks out to see all of her plastic matching crap she is going to pee her pants with excitement.

Isn't that what having a kid is about? Doing the things you know they will love because them being happy is the best? I'm not saying if you have an insanely adorable hand crafted birthday party you are losing at parenting. I'm saying when did having kids become about dressing them up to reflect who we are and what we want them to like. When did having their room be to your standards of design become bigger than what they actually are interested in. Who cares if they want a shirt or a bed spread with some cartoons face on it. The years when they are begging for cartoon crap are so fleeting. You have so much time to try and get them to like skinny jeans and sunglasses.

I won't lie. Toddlers dressed up like little people is pretty cute, but sometimes I just think, seriously? They look like they can't move. Where is the balance between show pony and kid? That's the thing. There just needs to be a balance between letting them be what they want and putting what you want on them.

See to me her loving Dora and freaking out every time she sees her plastered on a shirt is her first moments in self expression. When she picks out her shoes she wears them whether they are what I wanted or not. When she brings me her clothes, that's what she is wearing. When she wants an extremely gaudy shirt with bubbles all over it and her favorite characters she can have it. Just like when she's in high school she can pin a wolf tail to her parachute pants or chose to wear an at least mildly appropriate length skirt.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Learning On The Swing

Molly would live in her swing. She would just live outside if we would let her. The only draw back to taking her outside is the dreaded taking her back inside. So since she is in her prime outdoors and in her swing I wanted to think of some ways to incorporate learning.


"What do you see that is green?" Once she names something green I help point out other things that our green.


"Do you hear the bird?" I then mimic the noise and have her mimic it too.

Body Parts

This has to be her favorite. I push the swing high and then pretend like she is hitting me. "Ouch my arm, shin, elbow, etc." It does require hiking my leg in an ungraceful fashion.


Move the swing a certain amount of times before you let go. Don't stop at just three. Try different numbers each time.


Play I spy. Don't just use colors. "I spy something on wheels." "I spy something barking."


Just talk about how it feels outside. Is it cold, warm, hot? What does the sky look like? Are the leaves green? What are we wearing and why?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Teaching Strategies GOLD {Why I'm so excited and why you should have it too}

Teaching Strategies GOLD is an assessment tool used along with the Creative Curriculum. I became familiar with the curriculum and this assessment while working at Head Start. I was sold that at some point when I had children I would use this. I can't go on enough about how much I love it and why you should too, but I'll try.

There is a benefit to this whether you are staying home and want to be proactive in your infant, toddler, preschoolers education or your child is in day care/preschool and you want to bring it home. This is going to be brutally honest. I have worked at six day cares and preschools and only one of them really pushed educating the children. That was Head Start. If you don't know what that is, it is a federally funded program for low income families. So the high priced elaborate child care facilities don't really mean squat. I've worked at them. The private, the chains, and the small time heavy price ones. I'm not saying that all of them are bad. I'm saying that what you walk in and see and what really goes on in a day are most often two very different things. Bringing home a turkey hand print does not equal learning. Meeting at certain intervals to go over progress, being shown evidence of learning like pictures, images, and notes, and discussing curriculum's are good signs. So this post is not just for staying at home. It's for children in home, center, or home.

I truly believe that this assessment tool would help many parents, especially moms, because face it we all think our kids are the smartest EVER. I hear all the time "Oh Johny knows his numbers, he can count to ten," etc. Correction. Johny can count to ten. Can Johny identify? Can Johny quantify? Probably not, because he's not even two. As easy as it is to fall into the trap of thinking your child knows everything, it's not beneficial to them. Understanding development and the fine print is. Being realistic about where they excel, where they hit target, and where they need help is.

That's where Teaching Strategies GOLD comes in. It breaks down key developmental areas social-emotional, physical, language, cognitive, literacy, mathematics, science and technology, social studies, and the arts. There are also some great objectives if you are a multilingual home. Each of these areas go into objectives and from there goals. These goals are charted out by color bands identifying what age range is typically at this point. It doesn't matter if they are behind or ahead of their age range. As long as you're honest. That is what is important. These ranges are from birth to Kindergarten and are there to give you an idea of a starting point.

When you first open your assessment you can either baseline your child or you can leave it blank. Natalie's will be blank, because honestly at her age she would meet very little goals and there would not be much room for notes. If you are not sure if your child is at a goal then check the in between boxes. Levels 1,3,5,7, and 9 are there for when you are either not sure or did not have enough notes to pass on to another goal. It is always better to underscore your child than to over score. Base lining for a child is pretty easy, but when it's your own you really need to step outside of the parent role and look at your child's development from an outsiders perspective. Don't make up examples that kind of, sort of fit what the goal is.

In order to pass a goal you need at least three observational notes. In areas like math I always wanted more than three. The reason being I wanted to ensure that these things were not by chance. If you are using most of your notes from something like an iPad be weary that it could be chance that they hit the circle or letter A. Your notes should never include he was happy, she liked it, or they thought. You have no idea what they felt or what their intention was. An example of a note would be:
(Cognitive) Objective: Uses classification skills. Goal: Matches similar objects.
"Molly was asked to go get her shoes. She brought back her brown shoe. "Go get your other brown shoe." She brings back the matching brown shoe."
A bad example would be:
"Molly was asked to go get her shoes. She brought back her brown shoe. "Go get your other brown shoe." She brought back her other brown shoe because she knew it was brown."
Another note example would be:

(Social-Emotional) Objective: Establishes and sustains positive relationships Goal: Uses successful strategies for entering groups.
"A group of kids are playing in the kiddie pool with water toys. Molly gets into the kiddie pool and picks up a toy. She splashes another boy and he splashes her back."
A bad example would be:
"Molly joined the kids in the kiddie pool. She started to play. They were all happy splashing together and were having fun."
Here is a link to the research supporting Teaching Strategies GOLD.
If you are interested in buying these assessments follow this link. You want to only purchase this "Child Assessment Portfolio (set of 25)" option. The other things are for a classroom and you would not need them.
If you want to purchase the curriculum books which I would suggest especially for preschool age go here for birth to three and here for preschool.
I know it can be hard with how competitive mothers can be with a child's development. Just remember that most likely your child is on track. Some things may be slower, but they probably excel in other areas. A lot of bragging can come from little understanding of how a child grows. For example the "my baby never crawled, only walked!" Ok, well did you know that crawling is an important mile stone and if they never crawl you should work on crawling once they are older? Crawling is a HUGE milestone that is a child's first lesson in crossing left to right in the brain. This is monumental in things like reading. "My baby walked at 9 months yours is 15 months!?" Does this happen 100% of the time to early walkers, no, but walking early can lead to bowed legs. "My 18 month old says 200 words!" Don't let this get to you. Look at your child. Do they follow directions? Can they use expressions to communicate? This is language. All of this comes from knowing development. When to roll your eyes, when to not feel bad, and when to be proactive. This is why I believe every parent should be on top this.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Molly's Top Educational Apps {Ages 1-4+}

The iPad, iPhone, and I'm sure Droid has been making mother's feel like their children are geniuses since it's creation.
This girl is spoiled when it comes to apps. Like three pages on my iPad spoiled. So I wanted to share some of her tops and the ones that have a great benefit to toddlers and pre K.
 I remember when I was going back and forth on whether or not I wanted to spend the money and if it would be worth it. I can't believe I ever had doubts! Molly loved my iPhone. So much so that I barely got to use it before the battery would die at about 8pm. We had got her a LeapPad2 when she was 16 months, but she quickly outgrew it and wanted more. So I got an iPad, and life has never been the same. In a magical, wonderful sort of way.
The selection of educational apps, books, and shows is just endless. I am still firm that learning needs to happen primarily outside of electronics, especially for this age, but this is a great tool. Keep in mind that at the age of 1-2 you should primarily focus on social emotional, but more on that later.

This is Intro To Colors-Montessorium (4+). The app costs $4.99, but is seriously worth it. Especially if the Montessori method is something you are interested in using with your child's education. It practices matching primary and secondary colors. It also teaches gradients by organizing them darkest to lightest. There is a paint feature that shows primaries and mixes once they cross over. The last tab is a search game.

Oh Endless Alphabet (4+), how I love thee. This was one of the first apps that Molly went ape for. When she started at 18 months and could match all the letters I thought OMG she is a genius baby, because you know even though I know better I'm still her mom so I get those moments. Matching letters especially with repetition is not really the same as knowing letters. I will say that after playing this for a little while I realized she could identify some letters. The first time I realized we were watching Elmo and he drew a letter E. She started pointing and screaming "EEEE EEEE" So I drew some more letters and she knew I, T, S, and O. Another great part, it's free!!


Tiny Hands Sorting II (2.5+) is by far Molly's jam. It is free with in app purchases, but to get the good stuff you really need to pay for the whole app. It's worth it. Level 1 is free. In it you can sort flying and wheels, stars and circles, and green, blue, and red planes. Level 2 is objects shaped like circles and triangles, walking and flying animals, and colors yellow, purple, and green. Level three is small and big, circle triangle square objects, and bathroom and kitchen. Level 4 is things in sea and on shore, instruments music and painting, and clothes of summer and winter. Molly loves all of the games, because she is a genius. This is for ages 2.5 and up and there is also Sorting 3 for 3+ that just came out.

I cannot stress how adorable this app is. It's called Pepi Tree (3+). It is $1.99, but so much fun. In the owl game above you use a flash light to find all the critters. You have to catch them and match them to their shape. There is a mole that has to get through a maze to his home. Once you are there you match keys to the right shape to enter. There are other cute ones like growing plants to feed and decorate a hedgehog. A Caterpillar that has to eat all of a fruit in order to start the cycle of a butterfly. Now Molly screams "BUTTAHFIEEEEE" when she sees one. There is also a spider who needs to build a web in order to catch food. The learning is mixed in with so much fun!

Monkey Lunchbox Preschool (2+) cost $1.99 and can't be beat for the price. There is a memory game, shapes, colors, letters, puzzles, and comparisons. At the end of each round you get to pick a sticker to add to that times collection. I am always impressed by Molly's sheet of stickers. It took a week or so after getting this for her to do it all on her own. It's totally doable. This was one of our firsts at 18 months.

Dexteria Jr. (2-5) costs $2.99 and is designed to help fine motor skills. It has games like pinch the pepper, trace and erase, and squish the squash. The first couple time she tried it her line was all over the place. Then she started getting straight across and up and down. It's something they can pick up quick if you expose them to it.

Press Here (All Ages) is a fun cause and effect app. Even Natalie is entertained by what happens when she bats at the screen. This app cost $1.49.

 Grandma's Garden (1-5) is a great app with multiple learning aspects. It is very similar to Monkey Lunchbox Preschool. If you don't often buy apps I would go with this one. It teaches colors, shapes, numbers, letters, comparisons, memory, and has education videos. Molly loves when she has to kiss grandma and gets something out of her purse as a prize. The cost is $1.99

Intro To Letters-Montessorium (4+) is $4.99 and worth every penny. I love that it teaches to trace, read, write and record letter sounds, names, and phonograms with the Montessori method. My favorite has to be the recording feature.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Is This What Hope Looks Like?

I know. I'm crazy and probably getting my hopes up, but this just happened. Don't ask me. I was leaning over to pat Natalie's bum to sleep. When I walked away I felt a familiar feeling. A leaked on shirt. Immediately I got out my old dusty pump from the back of my closet.
I stored it there months ago in my depressed state. Yes, I know it's like a quarter of an ounce, but it's something. It's a possible start. Or restart. I've heard of crazier things. Adoptive moms taking herbs and pumping like crazy and successfully breastfeeding. This is worse than that. Not worse but a further stretch.
This is two months with bottles. Is there even a chance? If you know me you know I'm going to try. It's worth a shot. So with my mind racing I know I will be walking us down to CVS tomorrow to pick up some fenugreek. I know I'll be tied to my pump. I know I won't be seeing dairy for awhile. I just don't know how the heck I even begin to get this girl to latch.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Baby Food Making

Since Natalie is not of age to start baby led weaning, but ready for food I have been making it myself. I did for Molly in the weeks leading up to her turning six months. Even though she sat up on her own I wasn't ready to hand her a banana yet. With Natalie being four months she's got awhile.
If you don't know what baby led weaning is the jist of it is that you don't do purees. You go straight to solids in the form of soft or steamed fruits and veggies cut into fry shapes. Some of Molly's first favorites were avocado and asparagus. I cannot wait to hand miss Natalie her first piece of food. Until then I have really been enjoying our new Baby Bullet.
I'm not about to talk down on jar food. Molly had her share in her day and Natalie will at some point too. However there is something about watching your babies food go from whole form to puree.
I decided to start out with carrots. Really just because we had some in the house. I chopped up three which filled all six jars. For her that's three days of food, lunch and dinner.

I over boiled them to make sure they were nice and smooshy to puree.

How cute is this thing? The smiley faces really do something to brighten your mood. Molly is obsessed. I thought the Baby Bullet worked easily and got the job done. I need to puree a little longer next time with the carrots. I noticed a couple little chunks that of course couldn't be fed to her.

Seriously the best part is these little jars. One they are adorable. Two that little dot around the top is to set the date that is was made. How cool is that?

Oh my lord I love food!

Next I moved on to sweet potatoes. This was just two! So 15 servings and 7 and a half days worth of food. The ice tray was put in the freezer. Once they harden you can pop them off and store them in a Ziploc bag with a date.

Currently we are on asparagus that was left over from dinner. A little less than half a bunch filled all six jars.

Even sister likes to help!

Yeah this didn't last long. The next picture is quite sad and led to mama stepping in.

Just because I'm cute.