Archive for March, 2009

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This year for Ava’s birthday we bought her a Melissa & Doug Classic Deluxe Kitchen.  She absolutely loves it, as you can see from this video!  I was a little hesitant to buy it for her two year birthday because I didn’t know if she’d really know what to do with it yet, but she certainly does.  She has a blast with it!

We’re extremely pleased with it, too.  The reviews on it said that it would take 4 hours to build, but it only took Chad 2 hours.  It’s made out of wood and is sturdy.  Seriously, most toddlers are pretty hard on their toys, but I don’t really see any way Ava could damage this kitchen.  I accidentally gave it a couple of good bumps carrying it up from the basement (with Chad’s help of course) and it doesn’t even show at all.

Plastic kitchens don’t have anything on this toy.  Even though it’s wood, all of the knobs turn and there are buttons on the microwave that Ava loves pressing (and since they’re painted, not just stickers, they’ll be there forever).  Plus, it’s so cute!  Everyone who came for Ava’s party today commented on how adorable it was.

I would highly recommend buying this kitchen for your kids.  It’s high quality and will last through many kids and probably even grandkids.  Plus, Amazon has this listed for an extremely reasonable price.  And, of course,  your kids will get hours and hours of playtime with it!

I absolutely can’t believe my little baby Ava-girl is turning two today!  It doesn’t seem possible that she’s gone from this:

to this in just the blink of an eye:

It doesn’t seem possible that it’s been two years since she came into our lives.  It’s just flown by!  But at the same time, it seems like she’s been in our lives forever…we can’t imagine life without her!

We are so grateful for her every day…she’s changed our lives so much, in such good ways!  I can’t even imagine our lives without her now!  She’s so smart and she’s constantly impressing us with how much she knows.  It sounds so cheesy, but she truly does make our world brighter just by being in it.  Chad and I have said several times that we don’t know what we would laugh at if we didn’t have her little antics all the time!

Happy Birthday, Ava!!  We love you so much!

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We’ve been working on Ava’s counting with her lately.  She knows most of the numbers through ten, but not necessarily in the right order.  The other day, we were at the park, and she was counting something and we heard her going, “Five, eight, five, eight, five, eight!”  I guess we have a lot of work left to do, especially since whenever we ask her to say “one”, she says “A”.  Oy.  I have to say, at this point, I don’t see any jobs in banking in her future!  LOL

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Ever since before we had children, we’ve lived 600 miles from the majority of our family.  Luckily, though, we’re able to make the 10 hour (one way) trip to visit them fairly often.  This has given me lots of opportunities to learn what does and doesn’t work for traveling with young children.  When most people think of traveling, they think of making sure they have a full tank of gas,  cheap travel insurance, and how quickly they’ll be able to make it if they drive straight through.  But traveling with children is a whole different animal!

Here are some of my best tips:

  1. Make sure to bring plenty of things to entertain them.  I  bring plenty of books and toys and I usually buy a couple of new things to introduce when it gets really rough.  It doesn’t have to be anything super expensive, just something to distract them from wanting to get out of their seats.  Also, I always bring Ava’s MP3 player and our portable DVD player (if you don’t have one, get one!  I don’t know how we survived without it!).
  2. Pack plenty of snacks, but be sure they’re not high in sugar.  There’s nothing worse than trying to strap a child on a sugar high back into their car seat!  I pack things like yogurt covered raisins, dry cereal, cheese sticks, animal crackers, dried fruit, and pretzels, to name a few.  Of course, you want to make sure to have plenty of drinks, too.  Water or juice work best, but I also pack a couple of bottles of milk in a cooler, too.  Also, make sure you have plenty of wipes for cleaning up messy fingers!
  3. Plan to stop at least every 2 hours, for at least 15-30 minutes each time.  Anytime we stop, we get both kids out of their seats, change their diapers, let them stretch and take turns watching them so we can both go to the bathroom.  Since we have a minivan and only two kids, we’ve found it works really well to take out the bench seat in the way back.  Then we have our suitcases and bags on the sides and there’s an open area to set up a changing area and for Ava to walk around in.  Als0, if you plan to stop for a meal, instead of hitting a fast food place, buy sandwich fixings and fruit at a grocery store and have a picnic somewhere that toddlers or older kids can burn off some energy.
  4. Travel at night, if at all possible.  While it’s really hard on the parents who have to stay awake to drive, it’s much easier on the kids (which in the end makes it easier for the parents, too).  We usually try to leave late afternoon, so we can get some driving under our belts before we get too exhausted and we only have the entertain the kids for a few hours before they go to sleep.  If you’re planning on driving anytime that the kids will be sleeping, make sure you have anything they need to sleep: pacifier, teddy bear, special blanket, etc.
  5. Plan out everything you possibly can to reduce stress, but remember to be flexible when unexpected things come up.  Being on the road simply isn’t going to be like life at home, so don’t expect it to be!  Oh yes, and keep your sense of humor!

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…on what’s going on at our house.  That way you know why you’re not sitting there reading a post about toddler art ideas or attachment parenting or any of the other ideas I have waiting in the wings.  Just read this post and you’ll know why…I promise.

We are having an insanely crazy month here.  Ava’s 2nd birthday is on Saturday, so we’re very busy getting ready for her party on Sunday.  It’s crazy how quickly things can spiral out of control!  What was supposed to be a small gathering for just a couple of her friends has become  a party for 15 kids, plus parents!  I didn’t even know we knew that many people!  If I ever make it through this week, I’ll be putting together a post on birthday party ideas.

As soon as we get through that, we will be getting ready to leave for Wisconsin on Wednesday.  While I’m really looking forward to seeing our families again, I have no desire to do all that packing, or the 10 hour car ride.

To get ready for all of this, we have tons of shopping to do this week and next week.  Chad is really busy with work and building the kitchen I bought for Ava’s birthday, so I’ll be on my own with the kids for all those errands.  Doesn’t that sound like fun?  Ava is crazy in stores, so I may need cattle supplies to keep her in line…you know, like for herding…never mind.

S0 now do you see why I didn’t have time to write a well-thought-out post right now?  Good!  I knew you would!

….she’ll write her “name” all over her face!!!  Part of Ava’s evening routine is to watch a movie in our bedroom after her bath.  Since our bedroom doubles as our office,  I usually check emails while she watches her movie and Chad is usually playing his video game.  For the last few months, Ava has been very interested in writing her “name”  so tonight Chad gave her a pen and a post-it-note pad.  And when I turned around, this is what I found!  I said, “Ava, what did you do?”  She answered, “Name!”  Oy.  That’s not going to come off easily, either.  She still has the “name” on her hand from last night!

P.S. If anyone cares, I weighed myself this morning and I’m pretty close to my pre-Kelvin weight!  That’s all breastfeeding…No weight loss pills for me!!  I feel that I can brag about this here, because this is a parenting blog and I never would have had that weight if it weren’t for being a parent!

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I don’t know of any mother who doesn’t look forward to bedtime.  It’s not that we don’t enjoy playing with our kids and taking care of them, but we also love the  silence and freedom that bedtime brings.  For just a few hours, no one needs us to do anything for them and we can actually hear ourselves think.

Unfortunately, getting to that point can be a struggle.  Most kids view bedtime as something to be avoided at all costs and won’t give in without a fight.  After many months of bedtime battles with our toddler Ava, here are some tips that have helped us have an easier bedtime:

  1. Be consistent!  Have a routine and stick to it every single night!  In our house, the bedtime routine involves a bath, watching a movie and having a snack, changing diaper, brushing teeth, reading a couple of stories, giving kisses and turning out the lights.  Find a routine that works for you and follow it.  The kids will know bedtime is coming when you start the routine and it won’t be a surprise that they have to fight at the last minute.
  2. Provide opportunities for exercise during the day.  Getting Ava outside a couple times a day (when the weather allows it) works wonders when bedtime comes around.  She drops off to sleep almost instantly after we read her books.  Also, make sure you give them enough attention during the day.  A toddler who has had their “tank filled up” will be less likely to try to act up in order to get attention at bedtime.
  3. Avoid stimulating activities after dinner.  Use the evening as a time to wind down.  This goes for Mommy and Daddy too.  When the adults are rushing around trying to get things done, toddlers pick up on that stress.  Instead, read books, color, look at the stars (if it’s dark out) and then start the bedtime routine.
  4. Try white noise or relaxing music.  White noise works best at our house.  Not only does it have a calming effect, but it also blocks out the noise of us walking around or the baby crying after she goes to sleep.
  5. Leave a night light on  Ava has a string of butterfly lights above her windows and we leave those on at night.  This is the age when they can start becoming afraid of the dark, so it’s important to have enough light to be comforting, but not enough to keep them from falling asleep.

And once you have a sleeping toddler, reward yourself!  You deserve it!

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1. If I like it, it’s mine.

2. If it’s in my hand, it’s mine.

3. If I can take it from you, it’s mine.

4. If I had it a little while ago, it’s mine.

5. If it’s mine, it must never appear to be yours in any way.

6. If I’m doing or building something, all the pieces are mine.

7. If it looks just like mine, it is mine.

8. If I saw it first, it’s mine.

9. If you are playing with something and you put it down, it automatically becomes mine.

10. If it’s broken, it’s yours!

–Author Unkown

Isn’t this the truth?!  We’ve been trying to get Ava to understand the concept of sharing and, so far, we’re having no luck.  But after reading this, it totally explains everything!  LOL

I absolutely cannot believe that Kelvin is 5 months old already!  Where has the time gone?  Seems like just yesterday I was bringing that little man home from the hospital.  And yet, at the same time, it seems like he’s been in our lives forever.  He fits so easily into our family.

He’s such a happy baby.  He barely ever fusses except when he’s tired or hungry (during the day, that is…we’re still trying to figure out why he has fussy spells in the middle of the night).  And he’s constantly smiling and laughing…usually at Ava.  I could not ask for a better relationship between the two of them.  She’s awesome with him…she’s great at entertaining him for a few minutes at a time and she’s always kissing and hugging him and playing peekaboo with him.  And he just loves her to death.  His whole face lights up when he sees her and whenever she’s in reach, he’s always touching her face or pulling her hair.  He’s so tolerant of her, too…he never fusses if she jostles him or plays a little too rough.

He hasn’t managed to roll over yet, but he’s working on sitting up.  He can sit for several seconds at a time and today when I put him in his bouncer, he didn’t lean back all the way and grabbed onto the bar in front of it to pull himself up the rest of the way.  I guess he’s got big muscles from carrying around his chunkiness all the time!

I still haven’t started him on solids, but I think I’m going to have to very soon.  In the last couple of days, he’s been nursing a lot more and hasn’t been pushing his acid reflux medicine out with his tongue anymore.  I think he’s very close to being ready!  So much for putting it off until after our trip to WI at the end of the month!

I am so sorry for this pathetic excuse for a post tonight.  I just do not have it in me right now.  I am so in over my head with the kids, our business, the blogs, everything.  But it’s been a few days and I wanted to get something new up here.  So here is Kelvin giving the camera the “What on earth are you doing?” look.

Be sure to visit Wordless Wednesday for more great posts!

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