Thursday, July 24, 2014

{One Year and Beyond} Helping your toddler communicate

Communicating with a toddler can be challenging. They are developing their personalities, likes and dislikes. The only problem is that is can be hard for them to communicate that with us. This can unfortunately lead to temper tantrums and some tough days. 

A few months ago AG and I were butting heads. The days were long. Really long. It seemed like she was throwing more fits than she was having fun. I was desperate for change. I wanted my happy toddler back and was tired of feeling defeated each day.  I started to reevaluate they way I communicated with her, reacted to her actions and decided I needed to make some changes. I didn't have enough patience, wasn't giving her enough credit and needed to be a better teacher for her. 

I am by no means an expert, but I am a mom who has found things that work for me. Ways to communicate with my daughter that seem to lessen her meltdowns and keep us both sane, most of the days anyway.  

Here are five things I do to help AG communicate on a day to day basis. 

1. Keep calm. As a mom I needed to make sure to keep calm and not react harshly. For me, this meant not yelling. I noticed that when I raised my voice, her behavior would get worse or she would yell back. Yes, that happened. And as much as I wanted to laugh, it was an eye opener. Now, I keep an even tone. I make sure acknowledge the fact that she's upset and why. I tell her why she can't have or do whatever it is she wants to do and why. She doesn't listen long, so I keep it brief and to the point. 

2. Eye Contact. When I'm talking to her, I ask her to look me in the eyes. Whether she's "in trouble" or if I just want her attention and to know she's listening. I ask her to stop and look into mommy's eyes. She listens or at least hears me and isn't focused on something else while I'm talking to her. 

3. Choices. Giving your child choices allows them to feel like they have some control. Even though we have little ones, they are their own person. Their personalities are developing, they know what they like and what they don't. It's important that as parents, we understand that. I try to give AG choices on a daily basis. It starts in the morning with breakfast. She's a picky eater some days. I learned that when she was given two choices of things to eat, she'd eat more than if I chose and put it in front of her. Do I wish she would just eat what I would give her sometimes?  Yes. Is it difficult for me to show her two options and ask which one she wants? No. 

Same goes for something as simple as putting her hair up. She doesn't like to sit still. I can either chase her around the house (which I've done too many times) trying to put her hair in a ponytail or give her a choice. I learned that when I let her pick her hair bow, asked her to find her brush and find a place where she wanted to sit for me to do her hair…she listened. This morning I had to sit my 29 week pregnant behind down on the floor in order to get pigtails. I would have rather been on a cushioned couch or a chair, but she chose to sit on the floor and instead of telling her no, I did it.  It worked, hair was done in a minute (getting off the floor took another minute) and we were out the door. Choose your battles. 

When AG is set on doing something she shouldn't be doing, I try to turn the behavior around by giving her two choices of something else to do. I tell her she cannot do whatever is she wants to do and why. They I tell her she can either do A. or B. I make sure to give TWO choices of things I know she likes and will redirect her behavior. She is obsessed with princesses and puppies right now. One of the choices usually has to do with reading a puppy book (which I carry in my purse) or playing with princesses. Most of the time that takes her mind off what she was doing before. Sometimes it doesn't work and she ends up in time out. Time out lasts just a minute and when I take her out, I sit down next to her, talk to her about why she had to sit in time out and let her apologize. She also has a tendency to put herself in time out. Yesterday, she jumped on the couch. I picked her up immediately, asked her to look in my eyes, told her why we don't jump on the couch and said she was going to have to go in time out. No warnings are given when it's something dangerous. She walked her little behind over the time out spot and sat down. She knew it was wrong and what the consequences were. She tried to test me…it didn't work. Be consistent. 

4. Ask Questions. I noticed that AG would listen more when I asked her questions instead of telling her to do something. A simple share your truck with MJ turned into will you let MJ play with that truck for a bit, worked wonders. Does it work all the time? No. Most of the time? Yes. Definitely more than giving commands. Dinner time can be difficult around our house. She wants to play with me while I need to be in the kitchen cooking. I found myself telling her not to do this or that from the kitchen as she was making a mess of the living room or trying to jump on the couch. Now, I ask her if she wants to help mommy cook dinner?  I set some things up for her to do and am able to cook while she's next to me "helping." I don't have to walk in and out of the kitchen every two minutes to see what she's into. 

5. Model Communication & Behavior. All in all, I think the most important thing is talking to your child. Your child observes you day and and out. Everything you do, say and how you react. Heck, even the facial expressions you make! You set the example that they will follow. Modeling communication will help improve your child's communication. Even if you're just in the car. Instead of turning on the radio right away. Tell your child where you're going and what you're going to be doing. Same goes if you're doing things around the house. Explain to your child what you're doing and why, you'll be surprised with how quickly they'll learn and pick up on what you're saying. 

Behavior- A few weeks ago I started putting more focus on having AG clean up her toys each day. I organized all of her toys. Put her puzzles into plastic bags and gave everything a place. After she was done playing with particular toys, I would ask her to clean up (while singing the clean up song of course!) Recently she started telling me no. Instead of giving my 23 month old a lecture about how you don't tell mommy no, I changed up my approach. I did tell her, that is not nice to say to mommy. Then, I asked her to help me clean up the toys. After I modeled the behavior I expected by picking up ONE toy, she followed and did the rest. 
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I will not tell you that all of this works all the time.  It is what I do day in and out to help improve communication in our house. I'm sure with time, I will have to reevaluate and adjust things along the way. Especially as she gets older and her communication along with reasoning skills mature. Today, this works for us. All we can do as parents is take things day by and do the best we can. 

I would love to know what you do at your house to help your toddler communicate! 

We are back with week three of our series and hopefully this helps you other mamas to find out how to help your toddler communicate!  Make sure to check out the other 10 wonderful mamas who are posting with me this week.  And don't forget to write your own post and link it up below!
July 10:  Keeping your marriage alive with a toddler
July 17:  Favorite summer toddler activities
July 24:  Helping Your Toddler to Communicate (Words, emotions, etc.)
July 31:  Dealing with Separation Anxiety
Aug 7:    Car Trip Necessities
Aug 14:  Deciding when the time is right for baby #2 (and/or how to handle these questions)
Aug 21:  Tricks for eating out with your toddler
Aug 28:  Feeling confident as a mom (How to feel this way, Your struggle with, etc.)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

AG's 2nd Birthday Party- Sprinkles & Ice Cream

When we were home in Florida at the beginning of the month, we celebrated AG's birthday with family and friends. It was a month before her actual birthday but the only time we'd be home before then. Since I was throwing the party at my parents house, I decided on a theme that would be easy to execute away from home. Ice cream and sprinkles! What two year old doesn't love ice cream and sprinkles?!? 

I started planning the party about two months ago. Thankfully I found a lot of ideas on Pinterest. I had my mom start stocking up on sprinkles from Jo Ann Fabrics and Walmart. The more she could get down there, they less I would have to travel with. I designed the invitation and paper signs in TX and printed them before our trip. Everything else what thrown together the week of the party, while on vacation. 

I couldn't have asked for a better day for our little lady. There was so much love surrounding her, we are so grateful to our family and friends for helping make her day so special. It's hard to believe she'll be two in s few short weeks. I'll save the sappy post for her actual birthday and focus on the details of the party today. For any decor or design questions, email simplymadewithlove@gmail.com

The Birthday Girl

Party Details

Jumbo Sprinkle Clips- found at Michael's in the $1 bin. I brushed the outside with Mod Podge and covered it in sprinkles. Make sure to dry completely. 
Sprinkle Candle Holders- Glass holders found at Jo Ann Fabrics for just over $1. I poured sprinkles in the bottom and added a small tea light candle. 
I also used a different glass holder to hold the markers for guests to sign the guest book. 
Welcome Wreath- I cut pink and orange tulle fabric into 8 inch squares. I tied them around a foam wreath purchased at Michael's. For the 2, I also bought it at Michael's and covered it with Mod Podge and sprinkles. I used a piece of yarn to tie the 2 to the wreath.  

TWO sprinkle letters- I bought the letters at Michael's in the $1 bins. Again, I covered them in Mod Podge and coated on the sprinkles. The letters were about 4 inches tall. 

Guest Book- This is a tradition I started last year. I made a Shutterfly book using some of my favorite pictures from this past year. On each page, I left blank white space for guests to sign and write a wish for the birthday girl. 

Party Decor


Cupcake Table- Filled with sweets including ice cream cone cupcakes and sprinkle oreos. Above it hung photo garland with pictures of the mini from the past year. 

 Tableware- All of the napkins were purchased at Target, along with the polkadot box in the middle. The plates were from Walmart and picture frames were from Michael's. The A was another Michael's purchase covered in Mod Podge and sprinkles. 





Dessert Table- Polkadot table cloth from Target, polkadot bowls from Walmart and food tents were made by me using Photoshop. This was the main focus of the dining room. 


Entryway- Guests were welcomed with a sign, wreath, the guest book and pictures of the mini. This is also where I kept the goodie bags for the kids. The bags for the goodie bags were purchased at Target. I used a small circle punch to make the tags and wrote each child's name on them. 

Food

Nature's Sprinkles- With all the sweets around, I had to throw some healthy food in there!  My mom found the cute plates at Stein Mart. 

Ice Cream Bar- Ice cream bowls and spoons were from Target, napkins were from Walmart and topping container was Stein Mart. I made all of the signs and decorated the container with polka dot ribbon. The toppings were sprinkles, mini chocolate chips, cherries, mini M&M's and peanut M&M's. Guests also had caramel syrup, chocolate syrup and whipped cream to add on top. I dipped waffle cones in almond bark and coated them in sprinkles for guests who wanted their ice cream in a cone. 

 Sweets Part 1- Ice cream cone cupcakes, made by me. These were a hit and are so easy to make. Party popcorn was just plain popped popcorn, coated with vanilla almond bark and sprinkles. I threw it all into a gallon size plastic bag to mix and let it dry spread out on parchment paper. You can't go wrong with sprinkle pretzels. I dipped them in almond bark, coated them with sprinkles and let them dry on parchment paper. I did these the day before the party and kept them in a sealed plastic bag once they were dry. 

Sweets Part 2- Sprinkle dipped marshmallows. I used little sticks found in the baking section at Jo Ann Fabrics. I stuck the stick into the marshmallow, dipped them in almond bark and then in a bowl of sprinkles. I let them dry on parchment paper. I did the same for the rice krispie treats as well as the vanilla wafers. Also the rice krispie treats were store bought and cut into thirds. I kept things very simple! A trick for getting the sticks to stay in the rice krispie treats is to dip the stick in the bark before sticking it in the treats to dip.  For the oreos, I piped icing on the outside of the cookie and rolled it in sprinkles. Super simple. 

Entertainment

We had a variety of activities set up to entertain the kids at the party. That was one of the main things we were concerned with, since my parents don't have a lot of kids toys at their house. Inside, we bought building blocks and laid them on the carpet for kids to play with. Outside on the patio, we had bubbles, foam stickers and book marks and coloring.  In the back yard, we had a small blow up pool and slide. It all worked out perfectly and kept the littles busy. 

Family & Friends




Thank you again to everyone who helped make the day so special. I'll have another post coming soon about how this birthday party was quickly turned into a SURPRISE BABY SHOWER FOR LUKE while I was outside! 


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

{Bump Date #2} 29 Weeks & Pink Blush Maternity Giveaway!

The countdown is officially on! Luke will be here in 10 weeks or less. 
My dr likes to do c-sections on Tuesday or Wednesday so we're home by the weekend. 
I'll take it. I have started working on my before baby checklist and will be sharing it next week. I will definitely be looking to you mama's with two littles to see how you helped big brother or sister adjust. That is my biggest concern right now.  Honestly, I'm losing sleep over it. I'm not worried about how AG will be with Luke, I'm worried about all the changes coming her way. Another big concern is how I'll feel after surgery and how that will impact what I can do with her. I know everything will work out, just lots of mama nerves talking. 

My dress below is from Pink Blush Maternity
You'll find a $25 giveaway at the end of this post! 
Please excuse my just woke up look. I forgot to take a picture this weekend so I had hubs do it before he left for work today. Can we talk about AG's smile thought?!? Could she be any cuter...


Week 29

Size: Acorn Squash 

Gender: IT'S A BOY! 

Movement: I swear this little boy is awake all day long! I also have a feeling he's going to be a soccer star with the kicks coming my way. 

Sleep: Better this week. Thank goodness. Falling asleep has been the toughest part this week, takes about 2 hours. BUT…once I'm out, I'm out. Some nights I sleep all the way through until morning. Others I'm up once but able to fall back to sleep.  Hoping this continues for a few more weeks.  

Cravings: Caprese Salad, which I enjoyed for lunch all last week! 

Aversions: None this week. 

Symptoms: Feeling pretty good this week. Changing my eating in the mornings has helped me feel better throughout the day. I haven't been as dizzy at all. Swelling is coming back, but no where as bad as it was with AG. Some days I have tons of energy and others I need a nap and I'm in bed at 9pm. I'm sleeping as much as I can now and trying my best to listen to my body. 

What I Miss: Nothing this week. 

What I'm Looking Forward To: Checking things off my before baby check list! 


Now onto the GIVEAWAY! Finding cute maternity items has never been easy for me. When I was pregnancy with AG I had a few staple items that I lived in. Same goes for this pregnancy. Before my trip home to FL I came across Pink Blush Maternity. I was looking for trendy maternity clothes. I wanted cute dresses that were not only in style but comfortable. I'm happy to report that Pink Blush Maternity delivered. This dress is so comfortable. I love how it can also be dressed up for a date night or casual enough for a day around the house. Whether you're expecting or not, you should definitely check out their website. They are also having a great sale right now, 20% off all summer dresses and tank tops. Below you'll see some of my other favorites from their site along with the directions to enter to WIN $25 to Pink Blush Maternity







The only stipulation is that entrants who have won a PinkBlush giveaway in the past 6 months, or have hosted a PinkBlush giveaway in the past 6 months, are not eligible to win a gift card again.

Thank you to PinkBlush Maternity for sponsoring this giveaway! 

Monday, July 21, 2014

{Mommy School} Playing & Learning with Play-Doh!



One of our favorite items to use for Mommy School each week is play-doh. The possibilities are endless when it comes to playing and learning with play-doh. There are even tons of recipes out there for making your own, which I have yet to try. I have to keep all of our play-doh out of the mini's reach and eyesight or she'd ask to play with it all the time. I try to save it for our Mommy School time, as I know it is something that will keep her attention longer. 

One of the best things I discovered when bringing out play-doh each day was letting AG use a baking sheet to play with it. I picked it up at Wal-Mart for a few dollars with intentions of using her magnetic letters on it. We tried the play-doh in her highchair, but she wanted to be on the floor while playing. So I put the play-doh on the baking sheet and we haven't looked back since. She knows that it has to stay on the sheet and immediately picks it up if it falls over the side. 

Now lets talk about some of our favorite activities along with a bunch I can't wait to try when AG gets a little older! 




Cookie Cutter Play
I didn't do a post in itself about using cookie cutters to play with playdoh. It's pretty simple. Just roll out or flatten the play-doh and your child can press the cutters into it to make shapes, animals, letters, numbers and much more.  I found a huge box of letters, shapes, seasonal cutters and numbers at Jo Ann Fabrics. 


Creating Fossils from Carrie's Speech Corner 
**You can also do this with shells. 


Cheerio Tower from Wives Unscripted 


Stamp & Match Letters from There's No Time for Flashcards 


Hide and Seek Objects from Everyday Love




Number Mats from Peace, Love and Learning


Alphabet Mats from kinder gals. 


Animal and Faces Play-Doh Mats from Planet of the Apels 



Sight Words from Mrs Wheeler's First Grade

Play-Doh Tools
Great for fine motor skills. I found a pack with the scissors, knife, stamps, molds and other tools for under $10 at Target. 


Does your child like to play with play-doh?  

Are their any activities I haven't mentioned that are a hit in your home?  If so, please share!