Raising A Toddler

What We Say Matters

What can I do for ya?

What we say mattersThis morning, my son ran up to my husband and said, “What can I do for ya? What can I do for ya, Daddy?” I couldn’t help but giggle. 

I’ve noticed a lot of this lately. Our little boy has adopted some pretty sweet phrases, and he uses them often:

  • Momma, I’m so proud of you. 
  • I love you so much.
  • I missed you so much.
  • Can I hug you? Can you give me a smooch?
  • Momma, are you okay?
  • Let me hold you.

Our son’s words, and his actions, made me think–how does a two year old boy come to learn such things? 

I’ll premise this by saying, many people find my husband and I to be obnoxious in how affectionate we are. We never miss a chance to exchange an “I love you,” or a kiss. We hold hands. We hug. We gross people out. But it’s genuine, and it happens, even when nobody else is around to witness it.  Our affection carries over to how we raise our son. Each and every single day he is smothered in hugs, kisses, and I love you’s. We make sure to reinforce his positive behaviors and actions, just as we correct those that are not-so-positive. 

So what is my point? 

Children are impacted by what they hear, and what they see. They really are sponges. It is so important for us to be aware of how we talk to our children because, in our interactions with them (and around them), they not only develop their sense of who they are, but they learn how to interact with the world around them. What we say matters. What we do matters. 

And it is not all positive

Just as our little boy repeats these sweet phrases, he has also adopted some not-so-positive habits of ours (mine). Recently, we noticed that he says sorry, often. It is heartbreaking, because he apologizes most when he is sad or hurt. My mom pointed out that this is something I do often…apologize, even when an apology isn’t necessary, or appropriate.

Moving forward

I am proud of our munchkin, and just how sweet and kind he is. I want to make sure that I am even more positive, and less judgemental of myself and others. We want to continue to raise this tiny human to be kind, warm and accepting of others. This is definitely something that will take work on my end (especially in the car). But I’ll be more aware, more gracious, and more positive…so that my son will grow up to do the same.  What we say matters. What we do matters. 

 

how-to-wean-a-toddler
Raising A Toddler

How do you wean a toddler?

Well, here we are, 25 months into our nursing journey. Originally I thought we’d make it to one year, but then 18 months became our goal, and now we are on the other side of 2 years. I know that nursing a two year old is weird to some. And, in previous posts, I discussed our reasons for nursing my son this long: allergies, nourishment and comfort.  It has simply been the best choice for our family.

In the past, I was so worried that the weaning process was going to be hard on little man. He still nurses pretty regularly throughout the day, since I am home with him. I worried that he would be angry with me, or disappointed, that I would not longer choose to provide him with the comfort he has known for the last two years.

As I begin to explore strategies for weaning, I realize that I am the one who is going to struggle with this process the most. Perhaps my emotional ties to nursing are stronger than his. For me, nursing is the opportunity to cuddle, and breathe in my sweet little boy who, otherwise, is so active and uninterested in momma-snuggles.

So, after much conversation and research, my husband and I have decided that it is time to start the process. And this will mean enormous changes for our family, and it brings so many questions to light. How will I put my son to bed at night, when he relies on nursing? What will we do when he wakes up in the middle of the night, and can’t have “bee bees” to get him back to sleep? What will I do when he slips and falls, and relies on nursing for comfort? How exactly do you wean a toddler?

These are all questions that we will deal with as they come. But so our journey begins.

Do you have any tips or tricks that helped ease your weaning journey? What was your experience weaning a toddler?

Baby

Little Man Turned Two

You guys! This little boy just turned two! Okay, it happened a week ago, but life (and a cold) got in the way of a blog post.

Anyway, he turned two, and we could not be more proud of him! We were so fortunate to be able to celebrate his birthday in California! We visited Disneyland, Universal Studios and the beach. We celebrate with Gramma, Papa, Grammie, uncles, aunts and cousins! We had a great time!

Now that little man turned two…

He weighs in at 24 lbs, and stands 2’8” tall! He is still a little munchkin.

He loves to eat fruits and veggies, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, cookies, ice cream and donuts. He really loves donuts.

He has some food allergies, so no peanuts for us! And milk is still a no-go!

He loves to read! He really likes Mercer Mayer books, The Pout Pout Fish, I Love My Daddy, and anything about sea animals. He even has books he can recite from front to back.

He loves to swim, and reminds us that he wants to “swim in the ocean.” Probably to get up close and personal with the sea life.

He collects animal figurines, but his favorite are his sea life animals (the octopus and beluga whale are two of his favorites). He loves music, and loves to sing and dance!

He is very Very verbal. And he now speaks primarily in full sentences.

His vocabulary is a bit crazy (in a good way). He knows words for most things, and asks if he doesn’t know. He can name most animals, using specific names (beluga whale, hammerhead shark, etc.)

He sleeps through the night sometimes. And he stays up late sometimes. Sleep still isn’t really his thing.

We love going to Toddler Time at the library, and Monkey Bizness to jump in the bouncy house. We love taking walks in the neighborhood, with stops to run and play at the park!

He loves to paint, color and play with Playdoh.

He loves blowing and chasing bubbles!

It is amazing to see how quickly he continues to grow and learn. Every day brings something new. And every day he continues to be the love and light of our lives.

 

Food!

Man Friendly Meatless Meals: Part 2

It’s time for another installment of Man Friendly Meatless Meals! While my husband and I are by no means vegetarian at this point, we continue to reduce the amount of meat and animal products we consume each day. We have compiled a solid list of yummy, meatless meals that we can look forward to at the end of the day. And it has been pretty painless, to tell you the truth. At one point this week, I pointed out that my husband has been eating a vegetarian diet most days this week…without even realizing it.

There are four new recipes we have found that I’d love to share with you!

Quick Potato Corn Chowder Recipe photo by Taste of Home

Quick Potato Corn Chowder

This recipe from the Taste of Home magazine is delicious, and hearty. It’s healthy, but it feels like you are indulging. A few substitutions (vegetable stock and almond milk) mean it’s easy to make this vegan, too! Thanks mom for sending this recipe our way!

 

 

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of Diethood

One Pot Spinach and Feta Macaroni and Cheese

Okay, so this is vegetarian, and definitely not vegan. All the same, Diethood’s macaroni and cheese is rich, filling and feels indulgent! Even better? It’s relatively low calorie! My husband says it’s one of his favorite recipes!

 

 

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of Aberdeens Kitchen

Southwest Roasted Potato Salad

This recipe from Aberdeen’s Kitchen is easy, spicy and delicious. It’s vegan, but my husband loves to add a fried egg on top for some added protein! This is one of my favorites, and it’s great warmed up the next day, too!

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Courtesy of Lord Byron’s Kitchen

Spicy Pan Seared Brussel Sprouts with Corn and Caramelized Onions

This recipe from Lord Byron’s Kitchen is our most recent find, and it is so darn good. Eliminate the butter to make this vegan friendly, and add rice to make it a bit more hearty!

 

 

 

 

 

What are some of your favorite meatless meals? Share your fave’s below!

And, want to see some of our other favorite meatless meals? Check out the first installment of Man Friendly Meatless Meals.

nursing a toddler
Baby

Nursing A Toddler

I would love to be able to say I’m a loud and proud breastfeeding mama. Don’t get me wrong, I am so incredibly proud to be breastfeeding my toddler just four months short of his second birthday. But I’m not loud. In fact, few people know that I still breastfeed my son (unless they follow my blog of course). In some ways I feel like a fraud. How can I be proud about breastfeeding for nearly two years, but hide it at the same time? 

To be honest, I tend to not discuss our choice because I’m shielding myself, and my son, from unnecessary judgement. Simply sharing this post makes me a bit anxious. See, here is the thing… in 2017, in the United States, the average woman will breastfeed for only 3 months. Of course there is nothing wrong with that, but it clearly reflects our society’s attitudes surrounding the subject. I have encountered judgement in regard to the fact that we are still nursing. “But he has teeth!” Yes. Yes he does.  “You are still nursing?” Yes. He is still a baby!  But I’ve seen other moms be the target of hateful, ignorant reactions from friends, family members and strangers alike:

“You’ll turn your son into a sissy.” In 2017, who even refers to a boy as a sissy? And feeding him has no impact on anything but his health and his tummy. 

“That’s perverted.” Our culture has sexualized breasts. Female breasts are designed to feed babies. Period. 

“You only do it because you enjoy it.” It is not fun to nurse a toddler. It’s not. Sometimes it’s painful, and sometimes it’s frustrating.

“If he’s old enough to ask for it it’s time to give it up.” I just can’t even with this line of reasoning. Stop nursing because he knows he wants to nurse, and he can communicate that to me? 

No. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding until 2 if possible. Research shows that there are nutritional, medical and psychological benefits for both mom and baby. So why do I still nurse my toddler? 

For our family, we rely on nursing to keep the munchkin healthy. Our son has an allergic reaction to cow’s milk. He breaks out in hives on his face and neck. He doesn’t seem to like the texture of other milks either. So, for now, breast milk is providing sustenance in addition to solids.

nursing a toddlerNursing has kept my son healthy. I was incredibly sick with an eye infection, and an upper respiratory infection. The doctor warned me to stay far away from my munchkin until I was feeling better. How can a mom “stay far away” from a toddler? Instead I continued nursing and he never got sick. Not even a little!

Finally, nursing is an important part of my relationship with my baby. It provides guaranteed snuggle time throughout the day with an otherwise active, rambunctious little guy. If he is hurt, or upset, it is a source of comfort. When it is time for bed, nursing is a source of calm, and lulls him to sleep.

Nursing isn’t for everyone. Nursing a toddler definitely isn’t for everyone. It is, however, an experience that I wouldn’t give up for anything. I can only hope that, in time, Americans will remove the stigma associated with nursing, and nursing toddlers, so that mothers can feed their babies in peace!

#2017ProjectChange

June Goals: Organize and Simplify

June is here! And a new month means new goals. Over the past few months I have been working on diet and fitness. I haven’t given any updates for a few reasons. While I have been going to the gym much more, I still haven’t figured out a routine just yet. I’ve been feeling pretty discouraged, because I crave routine. One major change that I have made is in regard to my diet. In the past month my diet has been mostly meat free, and I have cut dairy intake significantly. It’s amazing how much better I feel after just a few weeks. So, I’m going to continue working on these goals, in the background.

June Goal: Organize and Simplify

This month, my focus is on organization and simplification. Since my son was born almost two years ago, some areas of our house have gotten a little out of control. Our pantry, closets, bookshelves, and cabinets all need to be cleaned out and organized. Frankly, it is driving me nuts. It’s time to purge, and make some donations to Goodwill.

Why?

Eliminating junk from your life always feels so amazing. It’s freeing. And this is especially true when the junk begins to get out of hand. By junk I don’t mean that we have piles of junk just lying around. I’m referring to the work clothes that are still hanging in my closet, untouched since November 2013. The shoes that have never been worn. The five, count them, five jars of coriander in our spice cabinet, which I continue to buy because I can’t remember what spices I have. The five crockpots in the pantry. It’s time to make some changes!

My Plan

Each week I hope to focus on one to two major projects so that, by the end of the month, most of the clutter will be gone! As I work through these projects I will be sure to share before and after photos, as well as some tips and tricks you can try as well!

This Beautiful Life

Life Lately

Yikes! I have been slacking a bit in terms of blogging lately. Life got a bit busy, and blogging fell to the back burner. But, spring weather is here. Our little man is growing, learning, and amazing us each and every day. Life is good. Really good.  I don’t want to bore you with a novel about the last few months, so here are a few snapshots of our life lately.

Little man got a pint sized table from IKEA. He is a big fan!

We gave Door-to-Door Organics a try. Guys, for $25 a week, I don’t think it is a great deal.

These guys made Mother’s Day extra special this year!We found a great water and sand table for our little guy. He loves splashing, and playing with his dinosaurs!

We celebrated my stepson’s 13th birthday! He is a teenager now!

 

I am so excited for the summer months; for festivals, time at the pool and margaritas on patios! Hopefully I’ll be a bit better about staying on top of my blog, too!

#2017ProjectChange

Feeling defeated

Going into 2017, I had high hopes and high expectations for a new year and for my personal goals. This year I was going to tackle my lengthy resolution list, and make great changes.  And, to hold myself accountable, why not blog about it?

For the fourth month in a row, I have found that the universe has other plans for me. This month, I had hoped to really change my eating habits, read The Mindful Eating Diet, establish a gym habit, and blog all about it. None of this has happened, and it is really frustrating. To make matters worse, I get to share this failure with my readers…which is a bit embarrassing.

This month has been tough. We started with snowstorms, which kept us in the house, and away from the gym. Then, my son came down with a nasty cold, and I wasn’t about to take him to the gym daycare.

Then, to top it all off, I came down with what I thought was a cold, but ended up in as my eye began to swell shut. I had a nasty upper respiratory infection, and my body was just not fighting it. Fast forward a few days, and I was back at Urgent Care with a super high fever. We waited for nearly two hours, only to be told that they didn’t know what was wrong.

Since I was sick, we were unable to attend this year’s Cherry Creek Sneak, which I had been looking forward to all year.

The takeaway for me is this: It is important for us to listen to our bodies, and take time for self-care. I am a firm believer that illness is often our body’s way of saying, “You need to slow down.” This was definitely true for me this time around. I have been functioning on very little sleep, and a whole lot of stress, caffeine and junk food. It is time for me to stop.

So, April has really just been a wash. And, I will admit, I am feeling really defeated and discouraged. Summer is right around the corner, and I am back at square one. But, I am not going to give up. Once this nasty respiratory junk subsides, I am ready to get back to it. But it is important for me to be transparent, and admit my failures and setbacks.

I am going to rework my April goals, and give them another shot in May. Hopefully the outcome will be a bit better!

 

Baby

Our Favorite Books for Learning

Hello all! It has been a while since my last “favorite books” post! This time around, I want to highlight our favorite books for learning. These books have great pictures, simple words, and are a huge hit with our little boy.

In most cases, these aren’t books that we “read” to him. At least not in the traditional sense. Instead, we sit together and talk about the pictures that we see. This is an excellent opportunity for us to introduce new, and more specific language to our little guy. Oftentimes he loves just sitting and perusing the pages on his own, too! You’ll notice that many of the books are published by Priddy Books. They create some of the most beautiful picture books, overflowing with language. Here are a few of our favorites:

My Big Animal Book (My Big Board Books) This book is full of large, colorful pictures of all types of animals. This was one of our sons first favorites.

 

 

 

 

First 100 Words This book is small, and great for tiny hands! It features a number of different images of animals, clothing, emotions, cars, etc.

 

 

 

 

 

My Big Dinosaur Book This is our newest addition to our picture book collection! This features images of all different types of dinosaurs. I think some of the pictures are a little creepy or scary, but our little munchkin just loves it!

 

 

 

My Little Picture Dictionary We received this as a hand-me-down from my niece. Our son will sit and read through this book over, and over again. He points at and identifies most of the pictures now, independently!

 

 

 

Alphaprints: Colors This is yet another new addition to the collection, and it is my favorite of the bunch. This book creatively uses fingerprints in conjunction with everyday items, to create the animals and scenery throughout the book. And it focuses on colors, which is what we are learning at the moment!

 

 

A Is for Apple (Trace-and-Flip Fun!) (Smart Kids Trace-and-Flip) We love this book so much that we are going to have to buy a new one! Some of the pop-up pieces are now missing. This book is great for learning letters, and some basic beginning words.

 
I am hoping to expand our collection of picture books soon. Do you have any favorite books for learning? Share in the comment section, below!


DIY

DIY No Soliciting Sign

Recently, we have had many people ringing our doorbell.  As we have hail damage repaired on our house, our doorbell is constantly ringing—contractors , roofers, siding guys, window repairmen, you name it. Then add in the storm chasing contractors, the local milkman, the neighbor’s painter, and magazine salesman…it seems like our doorbell is always ringing. Normally this wouldn’t really be a problem, but it tends to happen most often during my son’s nap time. If you have been following my blog at all, you know that we take sleep seriously around here because it is incredibly rare.

So, I decided to make a Shhhh/No Soliciting sign for our front door. I had been shopping around for the perfect sign, but hadn’t really found what I was looking for, so I made one! This was one of the easiest DIY projects I have done, and I really like how it turned out! You can make your own DIY No Soliciting Sign in one afternoon, for about $10.

 

What You Need

Pre-made blank wooden sign (they have these at any local craft store)

Wooden Pencil

Ballpoint Pen

Printed template (which you can make on your computer)

Paint Marker in color of your choice

 

Make It

Step One

The first thing you want to do is design your sign on the computer. I used Microsoft Word, and downloaded some cute new fonts. Make sure you select a font that will be wide enough, and simple enough that you can use your paint pen to fill in the lettering (wide, clean lines are best).

Step Two

Once you create your desired layout and wording,  print it out on computer paper. I used regular computer paper. Nothing fancy.

Step Three

Cut your paper into more manageable pieces. This will help you to align your lettering on the sign. If you want to make sure your words are written in a straight line, try not to separate them!

Step Four

Select one of your words/phrases, and flip the paper over, so the print side is down. Use a pencil to shade in the entire area where the word is written (remember, you will be doing this on the back side of the paper). A wooden pencil works best for this.

Flip the paper back over, so the print side is facing up. Position the paper on the sign, where you’d like to transfer the lettering. Once you are sure of the positioning, you can use tape to secure the paper in place. Pressing firmly, use a ball point pen to trace the outline of the word onto the sign. Double check that the word transferred before completely removing the paper, as you may need to trace it once more.

Continue this process until you have transferred all lettering onto your sign.

Use your paint pen to fill in the outline. This takes time, and patience. Try to use short, light strokes to ensure that the paint stays within the lines!

And that is it! A few dollars and a few hours, and you have a personalized DIY No Soliciting sign!