A Timeless Treasure – Eric Carle

If you were to ask my parents what author I loved the most as a child, they would say Eric Carle without a second’s delay. I owned about every one of his books, in particular those that were readily available in the early 90s. There was something so magical about the interactive text and captivating illustrations. I vividly remember reading Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What do you Hear? over and over again (mom and dad I apologize; I get it now).

Now in 2018, Eric Carle is still prevalent in the realm of childhood literature. He has expanded from books to animated pictures and toys. My sons are able to experience the beauty of his educational pieces in a way I did not have access to in the 90s (#jealous).

We have found Eric Carle to be a hit for both our three-year-old and our one-year-old. Through his books, toys, and animations, our children are receptive of his teachings. Here are our favorite Eric Carle pieces –

Books:

An essential part of our nighttime routine is the bedtime story (or three) and often all of the stories come from our favorite, Eric Carle. We are currently reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar (a classic), Does a Kangaroo Have a Mother, Too? (a new favorite), Have you Seen my Cat? (my original copy), and The Mixed-Up Chameleon (my toddler’s FAVORITE). With either impactful messages, educational components, or both, my kids are sent to bed with thoughtful and colorful images in their heads.

Toys:

The World of Eric Carle, The Very Hungry Caterpillar Discovery Cube, 8” is one of my youngest’s most loved toys. With textured rings and fabric, peek a boo flaps, rattle, and crinkle sounds, it’s a sensory dream for a newly turned one-year-old. This discovery cube is plush, so he loves to cuddle it at night while he drifts off to sleep. With artwork from Eric Carle’s stories, the vibrancy of the illustrations, in my opinion, must ignite blissful dreams.

Eric Carle My First Smart Pad – PI Kids is a delightfully exciting educational toy that my three-year-old plays with often. “The electronic activity pad and 8-book library teaches alphabet, spelling, opposites, animal habitats, sounds, and sizes.” He calls it his “computer” and carries it around to conduct “business.” The beautiful illustrations and the familiarity of his favorite characters inspire him to sit down and absorb. As a parent, I LOVE it!

Animation:  

I don’t know about you, but we intake all our “TV” through Netflix. We love how there is an option to create a kids account. My son can access his favorite shows and we don’t have to worry about him watching something wildly inappropriate. Under the “Watch Again” tab is his Netflix account is The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Other Stories. Voiced by Brian Cummings and Linda Gray, some of his favorites like, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Very Quiet Cricket, and The Mixed-Up Chameleon, to name a few, are brought to life through animation. He likes to snuggle up on the couch in his “cocoon” made of blankets for 30 minutes (or more depending the repetition of his viewing) and relax. It’s fantastic!

With books dating all the way back to 1967 (i.e. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?), Eric Carle has been a staple in the lives of so many individuals including myself and now my kids. If you don’t have Eric Carle in your personal library I suggest you run to your nearest bookstore or public library and introduce yourselves to these beautiful classics of children’s literature.

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4 Ways to Create and Maintain a Successful Family Routine

When routine changes it can throw everyone off, especially a toddler who LOVES consistency. I recently started a new job that’s extremely fulfilling but requires more office time than my previous job. When I worked remotely I could drop my kids off later and pick them earlier than most parents, but now I must drop them off earlier and pick them up a little later than normal. My three-year-old picked up on this change immediately, and let’s just say, he’s not a fan.

My son quickly became hyper sensitive and started not listening/following directions as well as he used to. One could say this is happening because he’s at “that” age, but it seems suspect for this to have started around the same time I began my new job.  I’m not a detective, but I can clearly breakdown the evidence.

My husband and I sprang into action to make a new “norm” for our household. It’s important to us to have a space where our kids feel and actively participate in a healthy routine. Now, I’ve only birthed two little ones, so I can only speak from my experience with them, but thoughtful consistency is key.

Here are the four ways we successfully found our new routine:

  1. Communicate – Seems simple enough, right? You can never over communicate with your kids, at least in my opinion. We talk about and talk through our routine constantly with our kids, more specifically our toddler. He seems to respond to well to repeated verbal communication.
  2. Cool and Calm – As parents it’s easy to lose our cool when our kids react in a not-so-attractive manner when they get frustrated about the change in routine (I know from experience and I’m not proud of it). When we act in a level-headed manner, our kids will have a positive response. We set the emotional example.
  3. Sleep – When our kids are well rested, the world seems to be a safe place, but when they don’t, you might as well duck and cover. When my kids get a great night’s sleep, they are prepared to take on the day with a positive attitude. My one-year-old sleeps a solid 13 hours a night and my three-year-old clocks in between 10-11 hours a night. I truly believe sleep makes a big difference in achieving a new “norm.”
  4. Fun – It’s important to add a new and exciting component to the routine. Make it worthwhile for all involved parties. My husband and I “let” our toddler guide the bedtime routine. He picks the books, he turns off the lights, he arranges his bed, etc. We are known for putting on a performance. If it’s a song, a monologue, an interpretive dance of the book we are reading, we make it fun. This is part of the routine that is specifically tailored for him and something he looks forward to every single day. It’s HIS mom and dad time.

I’ll say it again, change is hard, but if you work to make it a positive experience, your kids will adjust. Fingers crossed we can maintain our son’s positive perspective and make the one-on-one time we have with him memorable in the best way. What are some tips that have worked for you? Let me know if the comments.

Brush-Baby: The Teething Game Changer

Alright parents, let’s talk about teething. We can all agree there is nothing worse than watching your poor, sweet, little baby writhing in pain from the continuous eruption of teeth from their tender little gums. My oldest (now three) would spout out three to five teeth at once, and his little brother (11 months) is following suit.

Continuously drooling, sticking everything in his mouth, and whining (you know the teething whine), my baby was pretty much screaming at me to get him the “goods” to fix his frustration. What are the “goods” you ask?  Brush-Baby!

When I tell you Brush-Baby is the gum soothing and mom sanity saving teething grace I always needed in my life, I am not telling a lie. This UK based company is dedicated to the healthy development of gums from teething to the loss of baby teeth as well as the formation of adult teeth. Their products are designed for babies, toddlers, and young children. Healthy tooth development and oral hygiene is important to instill at a young age, and Brush-Baby is there to offer all the support you need.

There are three products I know, trust, and we absolutely LOVE for our teething youngster: My FirstBrush and Teether Set, Chewable Toothbrush and Teether, and Applemint Teething Toothpaste.

My FirstBrush and Teether Set (£6.75 or $8.38 approx): This must-have starter set is perfect the little ones, ages 0-18 months. The First Teether is my son’s FAVORITE. The soft silicon bristles help massage and ease the discomfort of teething within seconds (no joke). The teether is dishwasher safe, which I know all my fellow parents out there can appreciate, and it has an easy grip with flower guard perfect at keeping that teething game safe. Brush-Baby recommends cooling the teether in the fridge or placing teething gel on the silicone brush, and folks, it’s a game-changer. Additionally, the FirstBrush is the perfect size for brushing those tiny baby teeth. With a small head, gentle bristles, and long handle for easier brushing, this toothbrush steps up the oral hygiene game.

Chewable Toothbrush and Teether (£4.99 or $6.20 approx): Similar to the First Teether, the Chewable Toothbrush and Teether offers much needed comfort for the teething aches and pains. This award winning, yes I said award winning, silicone brush can clean teeth and gums, while soothing gums simultaneously. This toothbrush/teether is designed to reach those pesky back molars that cause a lot of aches and pains. Perfect for babies and toddlers ages 10-36 months, you can feel safe giving your child this silicone teether (highest grade medical silicone).  You need to put this in your teething arsenal ASAP!

Applemint Teething Toothpaste (£2.35 or $2.92 approx): Now I am one of those parents that will often taste everything before I give it to my kids, so naturally I gave the Applemint Teething Toothpaste a try, and it was DELICIOUS! No wonder my baby is pawing at me for more. Brush-Baby has created a special toothpaste formula that has dental protection with the natural anti-inflammatory impacts of chamomile to help soothe gums. I know there is always a concern about fluoride with small children, but this teething toothpaste has low fluoride safer if swallowed and still healthy for the tooth’s enamel. The Applemint Teething Toothpaste is also gluten free, dairy free, paraben-free, cruelty free, suitable for vegans, and SLS free non foaming. This toothpaste is great for kids 0-2 years of age.

I have seen a complete transformation in my son’s teething process since we’ve introduced Brush-Baby into our teething tool belt. I wish I had these products when my older son was going through all of his discomfort. I will be ordering more of these products as my kids continue to grow. Again, with products are for babies, toddlers, and children, Brush-Baby will grow with our family. Will you introduce them into your family as well?

Thank you Brush-Baby!!

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Twitter – @brushbabyuk
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When Dad Is In Charge

When you’re a mom, it’s assumed you are the one to always power through and take care of everyone at any given moment, but what happens when you get sick? I know, I know, what a horrible thing to say, but it happened! I have been struck by the flu. THE FLU! A three-letter word we as parents, especially moms, never want to hear. It’s like “he who shall not be named.” Don’t say it! Get it out of my house NOW!

The origins of my illness are unknown. Could it have been something my kids brought home from daycare? Was it someone I shook hands with from work? The list of culprits is extensive, but none of that matters, I have been out of commission and the three men in my life – husband, toddler, and baby – have been left to fight for their own.

Now, I will give it to my husband, he does a great job, but a screaming toddler and teething baby can take a toll on anyone. As I laid in bed with a headache like no other headache I’ve experienced before (the fluorescent lighting was trying to take me down), I just let go of my mom control issues and just assumed the following would take place:

(When dad takes the daily photo)

  1. Lotion? What lotion? My husband hates the feeling of lotion, so I assumed my kids will not be moisturized and fall victim of the winter chap.
  2. My toddler would be exposed to some Netflix series, well over his head. Today they watched Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, which I can’t complain too much. At least it wasn’t something ridden with gore and death. I’ll just have a nearly three-year-old question his existence on this planet. Swell!
  3. My children will bully their father. When you have two kids yelling at the top of their lungs, you give in. If my toddler will want puffs, pretzels, cheez-its, goldfish, fruit chews, pediasure, yogurt, and an orange and he’ll get it, because one screaming child is better than two.
  4. When they bump their heads, or face it with my child, fall off the couch, they get a rub on the head and a “you’re OK Bud” instead of some serious mom cuddles.
  5. Finally, my toddler may or may not wash his hands following the use of the potty. Who needs basic hygiene? Not my son!

I could highlight the things I would have done differently, but when it all comes down to it, my husband rocked it. He confirmed everything we speculated, he’s an AWESOME dad! While I was quarantined, my kids:

  1. Got quality one-on-one time with their dad.
  2. They were able to play lightsabers or ninja with their dad without mom chiming in on safety issues.
  3. My toddler was able to follow his dad around and help with his baby brother (who absolutely adores him).
  4. They learned about the infinite expanse of the universe with Neil deGresse Tyson
  5. Finally, they were showed how much they are loved by their dad – more than anything.

To say we are lucky to have my husband is a complete understatement. Hun, if I haven’t said it enough, I love you, the boys love you, and we appreciate everything you do for us!

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Christmas Crafts for Siblings

I don’t know about you, but I am always looking for new and cute crafts to do with the kids around Christmas time. Each year we gift our family members with new piece of personalized artwork. As the “director” of these artistic projects, I always try to do something different from the year before.

It was easier to create a festive craft when it was just one kiddo, but now with two, we have to come up with ways to incorporate both boys into the priceless masterpiece. My parents, in particular, love hand print and footprint crafts. So, I have come up with three Christmas art projects for siblings which include hand prints and footprints.

All paintings include toxic-free paints; safe for kids and animals.

Oh Christmas Tree!

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This cute craft highlights one of our favorite holiday symbols, the Christmas tree! Even though my 8 month old is only 4 pounds less than my two and half year old, my toddler has slightly bigger feet. For this painting, I pressed my toddler’s foot as the Christmas tree and used a press of the baby’s hand as the star on top of the tree. I added polka-dots and “OH” around the tree for additional pops of color.

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Perfectly Packaged 

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I used the wrapped presents under the Christmas tree as the inspiration for this colorfully pressed painting. As I was thinking about what hand prints looked like, I thought of a bow; the perfect touch to a perfectly packaged present! Since my kids are still little, this painting required a little more of a mommy touch with the designing of the present and the wording.

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Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer

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Who doesn’t love good ole’ Rudy? Another hand print focused craft, the placement is critical. Have you ever tried to straighten your 8 month old’s hand as it is covered in paint in order to place it perfectly on the canvas? No?! It’s a challenge!! This is by far my favorite Christmas craft. Rudolph looks so cute (can I keep these out all year long?) and festive. You will want to make this painting with your kid(s).

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*Spoiler alert* for my family – you will be getting these crafts for Christmas. I challenge you to contain your excitement.

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What do you think of these sibling Christmas crafts? Do you think you will try these with your kids or kid? Let me know in the comments below or if you have any other craft ideas. I am always looking.

Merry Christmas and happy Holidays!

You Know You’re A Boy Mom If…

A boy mom is a special breed. We are in the trenches 24/7 collecting bugs, battling in lightsaber fights, and catching our children as they fling themselves off anything with some height. It’s a tough and messy job, but we are well equipped to take it on.

It amazes me the things my boys decide to do on a daily basis. Honestly, the depth of my imagination is not large enough to make up the things that my kids do. The way my household works, I should really have my own CBS comedy. We would be breaking all of the sitcom charts.

I thought it would be fun, well, more for you than me, to share some of the crazy things my kids have done; a list of instances that only a boy mom could really appreciate. Here is my list of 7 “you know you’re a boy mom if” situations:

  1. You know you’re a boy mom if you’ve been handed your child’s turd as a present.
  2. You know you’re a boy mom if you’ve been slapped in the back of the head by a LED blue Obi-Wan Kenobi lightsaber.
  3. You know you’re a boy mom if you’ve had to tell your child on multiple occasions that his penis is OK and it is not going anywhere.
  4. You know you’re a boy mom if you’ve learned every type of dinosaur and can recite them while giving your child a piggy back ride roaring at the top of your lungs. Quiz me; I dare you!
  5. You know you’re a boy mom if you’ve had to tell your two-year-old son not to wrestle his six month old brother. You’re going to win dude, I promise!
  6. You know you’re a boy mom if you’ve received a high five from your toddler congratulating you on your ability to poop in the potty (I am a big girl).
  7. You know you’re a boy mom if you’ve told your child to stop licking his boogers, the piece of gum off the floor, or the illustrations of food in his bedtime books.

These are just a few of my boy mom moments. The list could go on and on and on. Perhaps I will create a “you know you’re a boy mom if” list part two. That’s a thought!

What are your parenting moments?

4 Ways to Address the Loss of a Loved One with Your Toddler

Losing a loved one is never easy. I lost my best friends when I was in college and my Nana, also known as THE Nana in my family, last year. To say they were/are two of the most important people in my life would be an understatement.

I still mourn the loss of my loved ones, but as an adult I am able to process my emotions and understand what it means to lose someone that I love so much.

My Nana was a fighter; she battled through four, yes four, types of cancer. She is quite possibly the strongest person I know. I was able to spend the last minutes of her life with her and watched her battle until the very end. She never gave up! Her strength, hardworking attitude, and commitment to her loved ones are attributes I want my boys to have as they grow and develop into young men.

Wedding Day with Nana and Papa

My oldest was one and a half when my Nana passed away, but she had a very active part in his life and I was able to tell her that I was pregnant with my second son. I am so lucky that my oldest son was able to spend time with her, even if it was for a short period of time.

The girls and Rorie

When she passed away, I thought to myself, how am I going to explain this to my toddler? He has no understanding of death and what it means to have a loved one pass away. Here are four things I learned during this process:

  1. Speak in simple words – get as basic as you can, terms that well, a toddler would understand.
  2. Keep their memory present – Photos of my Nana are all over my house and my son will often go over to the pictures and point to her and say “That’s Nana!” She also gave him a number of books and stuffed animals. He knows that Nana gave them to him and he cherishes them deeply.
  3. Share all the love – Kids are so aware of our emotions. When we are sad, they will often become sad as well. When I was/am feeling sad, I go in for the hugs, kisses, and extra snuggles. It comforts both of us, not to mention, it’s one of my favorite things to do.
  4. Take care of yourself – We can’t support or little one(s), if we are not taking care of ourselves. Self-care is the most important thing you can do!

If you have lost someone special in your life, please know I am sending all of my love, hugs, and positive thoughts in your direction.

How have you explained this life process to your kids? Let me know in the comments below.

3 Simple Ways to Ease Teething Pain

Someone please explain to me as to why both of my children started teething right at three months? Am I wrong in saying that teething usually starts later? It’s not just one or two teeth, it’s five or more at one time (insert OMG face).

My little one is handling his six, yes SIX, erupting teeth like a champ! He truly is one of the happiest babies around (knock on wood he stays that way). You wouldn’t know that he’s teething except for the fact that his fist is halfway down his throat.

As a parent, the last thing I want to see is my children in pain. I’ve tried many remedies and here are three simple ways I sooth my three-month old’s aching gums.

Massage baby’s gums – After washing my hands, I will take the tip of my index finger and gentle massage along my baby’s gum line. The slight pressure eases the throbbing pain, but encourages the baby fangs to make their appearance. Most of the pain comes from the buildup of the teeth attempting to break through, so this helps speed up the process.

Nuby Teething Bib – Oh how I love the Nuby Teething Bib! This BPA Free bib is perfect for the teething babe. The tip of the bib is equipped with a teething corner that my little one likes gnaw on with pure delight. Additionally, the bib is designed to collect all of the drool that streams down the little one’s face during this troublesome time.

Get your Nuby Teething Bib >> HERE<<

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Cold wash cloth – When the baby’s mouth is so little, frozen teethers can be too big and awkward to fit in the mouth, in return it is unable to fix the pain. By cooling off a wash cloth and rubbing it across their gums or allowing them to bite down can help take away some of the pain. Also, I don’t know about you, but I have an obscene amount of baby washcloths, so there are plenty to go around in my household.

If these suggestions don’t make a difference and the pain persists, always refer to your healthcare provider for additional input and potential solutions.

Now that I’ve said teeth, teething, teether, and gums an absurd amount of times, I want to know, what do you do to make it feel better to ease teething pains?

Storytime: A Toddler in Ikea

Am I the only one who fantasizes about living in an Ikea? I would float from room to room chowing down on Swedish meatballs and lingonberry spread without a care in the world. No. I’m the only one? OK, no problem!

As an adult, there is something truly magical about Ikea. The countless opportunities of different things you can do with your home is what dreams are made of. I work from home about 80% of the week, so having a workspace that is just mine and not that of my kitchen table, is extremely important. With this said, we went on a mission; a mission called “Project Get Hannah a Desk.”

I packed the diaper bag full of snacks, bottles, and juice. We loaded the ninos into the car and made the drive to the mega store also known as my future homestead.

PSA – Do not attempt to take two small children to Ikea by yourself. I am so lucky my husband was there to help.

When we arrived to Ikea, my toddler’s attitude changed right before my eyes. He went from a happy kid to that of an emotional mess. He lost his mind when we attempted to put him in the shopping cart. As he clung to my body, I made the decision to hold him throughout the store for as long as my arms could carry. As a parent, I have to pick my battles, and this was not a battle I was willing to take on.

Rorie at Ikea

About thirty minutes into the trek, he decided he was a big boy and would sit in the cart. The following 10 minutes were great and then he demanded his freedom from the metal entrapment. Listen, I don’t want to be that parent who let’s their kid run free throughout a store, so we kept him very close and of course, he hated it! What mother would I be if I didn’t frustrate my child at some point in his life?

So, we made it through the display floor of Ikea (applauds self), but it was the warehouse where everything really went South. My toddler sat on the furniture push cart as we maneuvered through the aisles grabbing the furniture we would take home to build.

Spacing on the cart was limited, and we had to take him off of the cart to load my new desk, but we were going to put him right back on. Well folks that’s when it happened – the meltdown to rule all meltdowns. He was inconsolable. The fact that we had put something on the chart threw him over the edge. We tried to reason with him, but the yells of frustration just got louder and louder, until finally I threw him over my shoulder and took him out to the car.

Every patron watched and stared as I marched out the front door into 95-degree weather, with a screaming toddler and sleeping baby in the stroller. You want to know something, I didn’t care. Of course this was a frustrating moment as a parent, but I did my best to remove us from the situation and tackle the problem while in the car. Of course, he calmed down once we got into the car and was sad he had to leave Ikea. We talked about why we had to leave and if he wanted to go back what he needed to do. He was as receptive as a two-and-a-half-year-old could be. I’ll take it as a small victory during the battle of tantrums.

Oh the mood swings of small child. You never know which way they are going to go! The lessons here folks are to first, reevaluate if you should take your small children to Ikea and two, keep you cool and help your kid process through all of the crazy emotions raging through their bodies.

Where were you the last time your toddler lost his/her mind? How did you handle it? Let me know in the comments below.

Miffy Takes Her Adventure to Walmart

As my children age, their demands to have toys of their favorite household characters increases tenfold. Now my two-year-old would be happy with a cardboard box, but it’s always heartwarming to see the joy on his face when he receives a figurine set or stuffed plush of the characters he loves so much.

When my oldest was introduced to the delightful little white bunny, Miffy, he was hooked. He developed tunnel vision for Miffy and her friends. Trying to separate him from his “shows” and bedtime stories is an act of congress (he sleeps with his Miffy books at night). So, when we learned Miffy would have her own line of toys at Walmart, we were ecstatic!

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Miffy’s adventures now penetrate beyond animation and illustrations on a page, she is now a physical character my son loves. The MIFFY 6” Miffy Plush and MIFFY Little Blue Car are carried from room-to-room. They are attached to his hip and are showcased in my son’s personal show and tell productions.

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The MIFFY 6” Miffy Plush is extremely affordable and wonderfully soft. She is the perfectly sized companion to join my son from his car seat to the living room and finally to his bed at night. My son gazes with much affection at the little white bunny and gives her hugs on the regular. Before going to bed at night, he takes Miffy around the house and has every member of the family gets a goodnight kiss from Miffy herself.

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Get your MIFFY 6” Miffy Plush >> HERE <<

We recently added a scenic roadway rug to our kid’s playroom, and my two-year-old likes to drive his plastic toy cars along the streets and paths. Miffy’s adventures, both big and small, take to the streets on my son’s playroom floor with the MIFFY Little Blue Car figurine set. “Vroom, vroom” (as my son would say) Miffy goes speeding by as my son drives her from the mountains to the coast. Miffy has become a world class travelerwith my kid behind the wheel.

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Get your MIFFY Little Blue Car >> HERE <<

This new, and exciting Miffy product launch is what this mom, and her son’s, dreams are made of. I am able to reduce his screen time, and give him more playtime with Miffy and her friends. Check out this wonderfully and affordably made toy line, now available at your local Walmart and online >> HERE <<

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Make every day an adventure, be it big or small!

Find Miffy here:
Instagram – @Miffy_Official_USA
Twitter – @MiffyOfficialUS
Facebook – @MiffyandFriendsUS
Website – www.miffyfun.com