8/31/15

5 Eye-Opening Lessons Learned During Back To School Week


Last week was my three year old's first week of Pre-K.  Yes, Pre-k. In case you are wondering why, read this post, Why I'm Sending My Three Year Old To Pre-K, then come back here.  I thought the decision to send him was hard enough, little did I know, the first week would be the most eye-opening itimitdating experience. Between orientation, buying school supplies, paying fees, and leaving my son with people I had only met once before, I thought I was going to need an IV of valium to make it through. Then, the first day of school happened, and what an experience it was!

Thankfully, I survived to tell the story.

I tell you, nothing beats first-time parent ignorance. Silly me, I thought back to school would be easy and fun.

WRONG!

Below are 5 Eye-Opening Lessons Learned During Back To School Week.

1. It's A Whole New World- So much for the easy days of the 'Mother's Day Out' program Ollie attended 2-4 days a week at church. Real school is a whole new world. Picture it, Parents everywhere, children everywhere, kids crying, parents crying, photo after photo being taken in front of the school. Teachers shoving stacks of papers in your hand with lists, rules, expectations and snack rotation schedules, all while your child is clinging to you for dear life, begging you not to leave him in this madhouse.

Yep, this was me last Monday. I'm not really sure what I expected, but I definitely didn't expect Pre-K to be so formal. Well, it is. You show up on time, you follow the rules, you read the lists, and you don't screw up snack rotation.

2.  Your child isn't the only one crying on the first day of school. The first day of school was rough for both Ollie and I, but we were certainly not the only ones. It was beyond cute watching the moms and dads taking photos in front of school. Whole families were tearing up. At times I couldn't tell who was being more brave, the parents or the child. School is a huge step, yes, but it's also a huge reminder that our babies are growing up.

3.  Moms bite. Hard. Especially in the morning. I get it. It's 8:30am, you're trying to get your kid in school and be at work by 9.  But, the fact that it's a knock down free for all to get your kid signed in and in class and be back in your car in 4.3 seconds flat, is a little crazy.

Thankfully, I am not that mom, so I am a little less rushed, but God help me for not getting out of the way of the mom that is! The mornings are the worst. I hope it gets a little less frantic over the next few weeks.




4Organization is key. The stacks of papers didn't stop on Monday. Since the first day of school, I've been given a small forest in reading materials. I cannot get over how much there is to know about the school, Pre-k in general, State laws in regard to education and the ridiculous amount of activities, fund raisers and school events I'm expected to attend.

Over the weekend, I bought a huge calendar just for schools events. I can't keep up with all of the stuff. AND THIS IS JUST PRE-K!!!  What. The. Hell.

At this rate, I'll need an assistant to keep up with my child's school schedule and extra curricular activities by first grade!

5.  Make hand washing a household rule. There's no doubt about it, school is a germ paradise. It's full of germs, sneezes, coughs and miserable sick children whose parents had to get to a meeting.

As most of you know, my husband works at a school for children with learning differences, which can call for close hands-on help with the students. By the end of FTD's first week back to school, he was sick with a cold. Two days later, I caught it. SOB!

What a freaking early reminder that cold and flu season are at our doorstep, and with two boys in school, hand washing has become a MUST. I make the boys wash their hands the second they walk in the door from school. I refuse to spend the next six months in a sick boy sandwich.


I'm still happy with my decision to send my lil' guy to Pre-K a year early, but it's certainly been one hell of a crash course in what having a child in school is like for a parent.  I never in my wildest dreams thought it would be so demanding of my time or require so much organization and planning. Looks like my lil' guy isn't the only one learning and growing up as a result of starting school.


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8/28/15

Ever Notice How Toddlers run EVERYWHERE?


Do you ever notice how when a toddler goes from point A to Point B, it is always in a full sprint?  The Wild-child runs from one room to the next just to get a toy, or just see what's happening. Sometimes he does a victory lap around the house just for fun. 

I often think if I spent a week following him and doing exactly what he does, I would lose half an ass cheek on each side. At least!


This is one of my favorites, taken on his 1st Birthday.
Yes, he has been in haul-ass mode since turning one! 
I absolutely love to watch the little man run around. He gets so excited that sometimes he gets going faster than his little legs can actually carry him, so they do this weird two step run. It's like he gets in an extra step mid-air. I cannot explain it, but I have faith if you have a toddler running around you know exactly what I am talking about.  Lately, Ollie's thing is to run as fast as he can down the hall and then take a flying leap on to the couch-- Think: Superman style.  The kid needs a cape.

Speaking of the ass hauling two step, he is also a dancing machine.  After lunch I turn off the TV and play music for a couple of hours while we play.  It never fails that as some point we have a dance party where we both dance and run around the house. I am actually super proud of this. The kid has got moves.  Good ones too. In fact, for your viewing pleasure, here is a video I took of him dancing to the theme song for Mighty Machines... (Sorry in advance for my spotty video taking skills.)

             


See!  How badass are those moves?  I love the 'crazy leg bounce', and the 'head on the shoulder' spin move.  It really is fun to watch him, even in the car he will dance in his chair.  OH. SO. CUTE.

That's it. That's all I have got for you today, just my amazement with how toddlers run everywhere, even if it is to nowhere, they still run there.




I hope you have a fabulous day!



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Trying New Flavors And Textures With Your Lil'? If So, You'll Love This






Tracking Pixel 
Today I am partnering with Gerber to talk about the importance of exploring flavors and textures with your infant to toddler.







When I think back to the days when I began transitioning my infant from exclusive breastmilk to solids, I get a headache. Because, what a headache it was! One day he would LOVE carrots, the next, he would turn his nose up at them. 

Desperate to get my infant to eat, I would go through three of four different fruits or veggie purees. Between busting my budget and driving me crazy, the transition to solids was not the easiest.

I turned to our pediatrician who told me to keep trying the same foods, sometimes up to ten times, before casting one out. It turns out, it can take up to ten times for an infant to acquire the taste for something. So, even though he threw the spoon full of peas across the room four times in a row, the fifth just might be the charm.


OR NOT...
As much as I wish I could say I was that diligent, I wasn't. Sweet potatoes were my kids favorite, so I stocked up on it. I just wanted the kid to eat, is that so bad?

By the time the wild-child was progressing from purees to chunkier foods, he had clear favorites and clear dislikes. Still, I at least tried to keep introducing new flavors and textures. Sure, he spit them out, but the times he gobbled up his food, I did the victory dance!

I was determined to not let my kid become a picky eater. I wanted him to constantly try new flavors and textures. Of course I kept our sweet potato fave as a back up, but for the most part, he at least tried everything.

I continued to introduce new flavor combinations and textures to help him both learn to chew, and understand that there is more to life than sweet potatoes. Gerber’s NEW 3rd Foods® Lil Bits™ recipes offer exactly that.

Not to mention, chewing is an essential milestone in a baby’s development;  Gerber’s NEW 3rd Foods® Lil Bits™ recipes offer a gradual texture progression which helps babies learn the skills they need to transition to table food.
Fact: Gerber is the only baby food company in the country which uses a special cooking method that gives Lil’ Bits recipes the right texture and perfectly sized soft bits to help babies master chewing.
Side Note: So what goes into the creation of the perfect meal for little ones learning to chew? 
At Gerber this is how the magic happens:
  • 80 experts spent over 120,000 hours on product development for Lil’ Bits recipes.
  • Over 80 taste tests were held with 700+ samples to ensure that Lil’ Bits recipes had a baby-approved taste.
  • Experts analyzed over 20 hours of video footage and spent 150 hours of analysis and coding on chewing and mashing.
  • Gerber tested 30,000 spoonfuls of Lil’s Bits recipes to develop perfectly sized bits to help babies master chewing.
If you are at the stage where it's time to explore new tastes and textures, make sure you don't stick to the same ol' favorites. Keep introducing new flavor combinations and chunkier textures, even if it takes ten times with the same combo, don't throw in the spoon so soon!

As long as you keep the flavors coming, your baby will keep trying them. Sure, some will end up everywhere but in your baby's mouth, but it's essential to keep trying.

As much as you would like to have your favorite things over and over again, eventually, you would get bored with the same thing, the same goes for your baby.

Fight off the baby food boredom by keeping mealtimes fun and full of new flavors. For ideas on how to introduce new flavors and textures, and claim your chance at instantly winning prizes from Gerber (100 Winners Daily!) Sign your baby up for Gerber Chew U, Here


*This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Gerber. 
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8/27/15

UPDATE: Second Day Of School, COMPLETE 180...

If you read yesterday's post, First Day Of School. My Kid Already Claimed Class Clown. #Awesome,  then you know, the first day of school went horribly!  My three year old was awful on his first day of Pre-K.  He didn't listen to the teacher, he kept sticking his tongue out and blowing raspberries, and even almost got sent to the principles office!  After hearing all of this, I was really thinking about pulling the plug on sending him to school early.

Thank goodness I didn't, because day two was much much much better...

But first, I need to back up a little.

When we got home from day 1, I had a heart-to-heart with Ollie about his first day and his behavior.  My heart shattered when he said, "Mommy, I don't like it. When you left me I got very scared."

Hearing those words from my baby, the little human my heart has sworn to protect, nearly killed me.  I really can't imagine the fear he must have felt when I left him!

I spent a great deal of time reassuring him that I will always protect him, will never leave him in a scary place and that school is fun and that's why he goes. And that Mommies and daddies go to work, and boys and girls go to school.


When I walked him into his classroom for day 2, I knelt down and reminded him about how school is safe, fun and above all, I will be right back! Even though he clung to me, he didn't cling as hard as day 1, and let go much easier.  I walked out, looked back and knew, he was OK...

MUCH BETTER than day 1.

Still, I kept my phone close by in case the school called for me to pick up my heathen child.

When the time came to claim my spot in the carpool line, I was nervous and excited. I couldn't wait to see my little guy, but I was a little worried about how day two went...

As I pulled up, his teacher smiled and brought Ollie to the car...

Me:  How did he do?

Teacher:  GREAT! He apologized for sticking his tongue out, and was sweet, kind, and very helpful at clean up time!

I nearly shit my pants. Was I dreaming?  No, I wasn't, because I never would have dreamed up a better day 2!!!!

Me: Fantastic. I'm so happy to hear today was better.  I really want this to work out.

I thanked his teacher again, then pulled up from the carpool line to where you get out and buckle your child into the car seat. I practically flew into the backseat with Ollie. I smothered him in kisses and tickles and praise. I was SOOOOOOO PROUD!

As if that moment couldn't get any better, he grabs my face with each hand, pulls me close and says, "Mommy, I did it. I didn't even get scared when you left me. I like school."

Why, yes, my heart did melt. Tears came to my eyes. In my heart I knew putting him in Pre-k at three was the right thing to do, but this moment solidified it.

I gave Ollie one more kiss, told him how very proud I was of him, then,took him to get ice-cream.

It's hard to be a parent, and make all the right decisions. But if I've learned anything over the last three years, it's to trust my heart, because it has yet to let me down.





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8/26/15

First Day Of School. My Kid Already Claimed Class Clown. #Awesome



Last week my three year old started attending daycare at his new school to help him acclimate.  It also helped that one of his best friends was in the daycare too. While Ollie had some semi-rough mornings, nothing terrible. When I would pick him up, the teachers smiled, called him a sweet boy, and said he was very good.

So, after four days of doing OK with daycare, I had high hopes for him starting Pre-K this week.

So. Much. For. That.

Day one of Pre-K, sucked.

As we walked into the class, Ollie and I found half the class sitting in a semi circle on the floor.  Each kid sitting on a square with their name on it. Ollie and I walked around until we found his name. As I reached down to give him a hug and kiss good-bye, he reached up and clung to me for dear life.

I expected him to put up a protest. I promised I would be back soon, gave him a squeeze, then walked out, without looking back. Just like I had been coached to do by the teachers.

As I left, I heard the teacher asking Ollie to sit on his square. As much as I wanted to turn around, I didn't. I knew if I did, there would be a meltdown. And i do mean both of us.
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8/21/15

Does Every Parent Suck At This, Or Is It Just Me?

I've partnered with Printicular for the post. All Opinions are my own.

One of my only parenting regrets from my son's first year, is not having professional photos made. Of course, I have a hundreds of excuses as to why, but the bottom line is that I didn't take the time. But what I did do was take THOUSANDS of photos. Which, is where my ultimate problem lies.

At any given time, there's at least a thousand photos on my phone. Sometimes, I have to delete a photo on my phone to free up enough space to take a new one. Sad, I know.

Recently, being tired of missing Kodak Moments scrolling through my photo album for a photo to delete, I went through my photo album and did a mass delete. I couldn't believe the number of photos I was hoarding. Some were sets of 10-20 of nearly the same thing. Like Ollie was being so freaking awesome, I couldn't stop taking photos.

Of the 2400 photos on my phone, 326 were irreplaceable to me. I backed the important ones up on a memory stick, the rest I let go of. It was actually super freeing. I cannot recommend a massive photo clean out enough, especially if it takes you five minutes to scroll through your phone's photo album.

Still, one thing bothered me...

I wasn't doing anything with the photos. They were just sitting in virtual phone land collecting virtual dust. My child is three and a half, and I have ONE photo album dedicated to him.

I remember a time when I was in college when I had rolls of film developed regularly. Especially, during the summer months. But now, thanks to digital cameras and smartphones, I can take all the photos that I want, but do nothing with them. Hence the 326 photos I can't part with, yet do nothing with.

This makes no sense?

Is it me, or does every parent have hundreds of photos collecting virtual dust?

Well, I'm drawing the line! I've committed myself to printing out at least 5-10 photos each month. Because, that's the other major change from the old days of developing full rolls of film, I can develop one, two, five or fifty. FYI: 326 will cost me $65! So doing small orders at a time won't send me to the poor house.

Here's the plan, each month I'm printing out 5-10 of my favorites, then immediately placing them in a photo album, that will grow chronologically. In a perfect world, I would have a photo album dedicated to each year of his life.  I certainly have enough photos to put the past three years together. Which, is where I am starting.

Thankfully, there's an App for that! Well, not for making the actual photo album, but an app that works seamlessly with my phone's photo album, social media channels, Flickr, Picasa and  Dropbox! All I have to do is upload the photos I want to print, then choose between having them delivered by mail, or pick them up at Walgreen's.

I'm using Printicular. It's solid Gold, works in seconds, and the last time I sent five photos to Walgreens, they were ready in 15 minutes! #LoveIt


When I picked up my first pack of photos, it was like seeing the photos in a whole new light. It's like there's more nostalgia attached to the photo then just seeing it on my phone, not to mention the fact that it's 4x6 and not my tiny iPhone screen.

After I drool and ooh and ahh over the photos,  I slip the album photos into the album, (And that's it. None of that scrapbooking shit.) spend a few minutes taking a stroll down memory lane, then clobber my son in hugs and kisses.

Best Photo Album Ever!

I even set an alarm on my phone for the last day of the month, for an entire year.

If you have the same phone photo hoarding issue that I have, DO THIS! It's easy, grab a photo album, then download an app that easily connects to your photo albums, pick your faves, then print!

In an effort to motivate you to print out your favorite photos each month, I've partnered with Printicular to give TEN lucky readers one hundred free prints when ordering photos through Printicular and have them sent to Walgreens!

Yes, that's a thousand free photos total I'm giving away!


Download Printicular  For iOS Here.

Download Printicular For Android Here.

Sign up for your chance to win 100 free photos prints below!





Entry-Form



*I received compensation. All opinions are my own.
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8/20/15

Parent PSA: If You Hear This From The Backseat, Proceed With Caution...





Picture it, Ollie and I are driving down the road in a fairly busy area of town. Traffic is heavy, but not stop and go...

Toddler:  Mommy, I'm finished with my milkshake.

Me: Ok, Buddy. Please put it in your cup holder and I'll get it when we get home.

Toddler: Mommy, please roll down my window?

Me: Sure. 

Toddler: **Tosses cup out of window**

Me: OH MY GOD YOU CAN'T DO THAT!!!!

I nearly died.

My child threw an empty milkshake cup out of the car window! In fact, I'm not even 100% sure he didn't smack a car with it. I just caught the cup flying out the window through my peripheral vision. 

NEVER did I think, "Mommy, please roll down my window", would amount to littering! 

I immediately looked around to see if I was about to be pulled over. Thankfully, the coast was clear. I'm not going to lie, I sped up a little to get out of there. It's not like I'm going to go back and play Frogger with real traffic for the cup, that's most likely is smashed and blown tree blocks away by now.

Plus, I wasn't going to wait for someone to chase us down and scream citizens arrest!  Can you imagine?! 

Inmate at jail: What are you in for?
Me: My toddler smacked a cop car with his empty milkshake cup.

I promise, I don't litter. I was truly mortified. 

Me: Where did I go wrong in my parenting that you thought it was OK to throw a cup out the window?

Toddler: It was funny.

Funny?

You. Have. Got. To. Be. Kidding. Me.

At that point I knew, reasoning was out of the question. I just went with how incredibly naughty it was to litter, and to never ever do it again.

Thankfully, after talking with a few of my mommy friends, I quickly learned, a littering toddler is not too uncommon. In fact, each one of my girlfriend's had a story to tell:

My kid threw his sister's doll out of the window on the expressway!

My kid threw a shoe out of the window on the way to church!

My kid threw his McDonald's happy meal toy out of the sunroof because it was "stupid".

My son yells from the back seat, "My feet are hot" then took off his shoes and socks, rolled down his own window, then threw his socks out. 

With the exception of my kid possibly smacking a car with a milkshake, I wasn't feeling like such failure after hearing my girlfriend's horror stories.

The only bright light in all of this was realizing that all those children's shoes, toys and clothes on the side of the road are not the result of foul play, but rather, foul behavior!

Consider this a warning from me to you, the next time your kid says from the backseat, Please, roll down my window, make sure there's not a milkshake cup, shoe, sock or sister's doll about to take flight.








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8/19/15

Never Buy Online Without Doing This First

**Today, I'm partnering with Groupon to talk about why you should NEVER buy online without finding a coupon first! All opinions are my own.

Being that this is my first year experiencing the back to school frenzy, it's safe to say I was WAY under prepared. I honestly thought I was just going to sign my kid up for school, and send him. 

Oh how wrong I was...

So much for thinking all I had to pay was his Pre-K tuition. It's more like:

  • Tuition
  • School supply list
  • New shoes
  • New clothes
  • The ridiculous PTO extortion fee ($75!!!) 
  • Cafeteria fee ($75!) (FYI: I opted to pack Ollie's lunch)

The list goes on, and my bank account shows it!  

So when I was recently turned on to Groupon Coupons, I was stoked at the savings potential.  Especially since, by the time my bank account recovers from Back to school, I will have to start holiday shopping.  

Check this out... you will LOVE IT!




Let me start by saying, the Groupon Coupons are 100% free! And that's not even the best part, there are over 70,000 coupons to over 9,000 stores, with more being added daily! This is pretty amazing...



The coupons are for major stores I shop at regularly! From Sam's ClubJC PenneyKohl'sFoot Locker, and Vitacost, to Target, Staples and Anne Taylor Loft, there's THOUSANDS available!!  

And not only just for stores, but specific products too, like Rosetta Stone, which has a line of products for kids!



I have a solid rule that I WILL NOT make a purchase online until I have found a coupon code, or at least exhausted all possibilities of finding one. Which, thanks to sites like Groupon Coupons, I rarely buy anything at full price anymore!

To check out today's Groupon Coupons, or to look for a specific product, Click Here!


**I received compensation for this post, still all opinions are my own. 

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8/18/15

My Kid Has The Worst Imaginary Friend Named, "I Didn't Do It".

It's official, "I Didn't Do It" has made its way out of my toddler's mouth, and into my home.

It all started last week, when a toy 'earth mover' moved quite a bit of dirt out of my African Violet pot and onto my desk. When I asked the wild-child who did it, he insisted, "I didn't do it!"

Needless to say, he did.

In fact, he was JUST sitting there with the toy in his hand!

Which, I reminded him.

He still stuck to his story, I didn't do it!






I didn't even know where to start!

Lying?

Not accepting the blame for his actions?

Making a mess?

Digging in my African Violet?

So, I started at the top.
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8/17/15

First Day Of School. I Only Freaked Out A Little.

Today, my baby went to the new school. Not to actually start school, but more to acclimate before it begins next week with a few playdays. Little did I know, this week is not only about him acclimating.  I managed to freak out a little too. Starting when I woke up at 5:30am a nervous wreck.

What if he doesn't like it?

What if he cries the entire day?

What if I am pushing him too hard?

Every over-protective first-time parent worry and awful scenario imaginable was running through my head.

And even though this school comes HIGHLY recommended, and the teachers have all been there forever and a day, and I know they are nice people and they don't bite... but...

THEY ARE STILL STRANGERS!!!

I'm leaving my child with strangers!



So after three hours of being a paranoid parent, a little reluctantly, I drove him to school.  I was a total mess, but doing my best to hold it together.

WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME??? I know this is the right thing to do but...

When we walked in to the classroom to find two strangers greeting us, I held Ollie extra tight.

I swear I tried to be brave. I did. It was just SOOOOOOO Hard!

I immediately asked where Ollie's teacher was, then practically ran to her, clutching Ollie.

I'm. Such. A. DORK!

I walked right up to his teacher with a big smile on my face, and in the kindest sweetest tone I could muster, I said, Good Morning! I'm totally freaking out...

Thankfully, she laughed then spent the next 2 minutes talking me off the ledge and reassuring me he would have a great time.

I scooped up Ollie and went back to the classroom with the strangers. I put him down, gave him a big hug and kiss, then left... With my heart in my throat.

Of course, Ollie will be fine. He will have a wonderful day, and make new friends. He will get to do new things and learn fun stuff.

Apparently, he knew that too, because he didn't hesitate when the teacher reached down and took his hand to show him the trucks. In fact, he didn't even look back.

It's so hard letting my baby grow up, but it's in these situations that I see how real and powerful my 'Mother's Instinct' is, because there is no doubt in my mind that's the little voice inside encouraging me to let him.


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8/14/15

Who Knew I Would Be So Proud To Be, THAT Mom...

I once was the perfect Mother with a perfect child. He ate all the right foods, had impeccable manners, stayed close to me, went to sleep on time without a fight, cleaned up his toys and NEVER acted like a butthead, and I of course, always left the house put together. 

Then, I had my first child...

This idea of perfection existed when I was in my twenties, and my girlfriends started having children. Little dirty annoying children.Their kids were always causing trouble, acting out to be the center of attention, misbehaving while we tried to shop, wrecked restaurants while we tried to catch up, ruined our plans by having constant colds... 

 I felt bad for them. I was so sure I knew how to be a super mom, I was positive I would NEVER be, "THAT mom with THAT kid."

What a fool I was. 

My name is, April, and I'm totally THAT mom, with THAT kid!


Credit: NickMom

How silly of me to think children were little programmable robots that did, said and ate, exactly as they were told.

WRONG!

It turns out, parenting is hard, takes loads of patience, and is incredibly life changing.

I realize now, back in my days of childless ignorance, I had NO CLUE what children were actually like. I had no clue that babies could ONLY communicate through crying. I never imagined that toddlers needed to constantly test the world in order for it to make sense. I never imagined that five and six-year-olds, thanks to the toddler testing phase, knew everything!   

I was so sure I would be this perfect, calm, polished mother, with a perfect, calm, polished child. 

HA!


I am no different than the mothers I used to judge. 

I have a "lively" kid, I go everywhere in Yoga pants and flip-flops, I yell at my kid in the store, I bribe him to be good with cookies, I clean up after him on a daily basis, and rarely do we leave the house on time, with everything we need. And that's OK.

The only true crime in all of this, was me being a judgmental ass. Parenting is HARD! Super duper hard. And I expect being a child in a world full of mystery, limitations, rules and requirements to eat vegetables over candy, is super hard too!


Today, I am proud to be THAT mom, because it means I am a true mom. A mom who is not afraid to do what it takes to have a happy, thriving, well-behaved child; even if that means taking unconventional roads to get there. 

I am THAT mom who has a messy house and car, cancels plans over fevers, lets my kid push the cart in the grocery, listens to toddler radio in the car, loves playdates,  chases after my kid yelling, COME BACK HERE, OR... regardless of the venue.

I am THAT mom who let's her kid, be a kid. I let him wear two different shoes out of the house, even if one is a slipper and the other is a shoe he has outgrown, but still loves. I let him get dirty, explore the world on his own and answer his four million "why" questions on daily basis. I get frustrated, burned out, and sometimes where my hair in a pony tail for a week straight! And my house... clean, not sparkly. 




I am that mom with a beautiful rambunctious healthy boy. I am that mom blessed beyond belief. I am that mom being judged by twenty-somethings who will one day too realize just how awesome and fulfilling it is to be THAT Mom.


Oh yes, I am totally THAT mom, and there is no one else in the world I would rather be.






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Welcome To The Future of Building Blocks And A Game Changer For Open-Ended Toys

I've partnered with TobiCubes to talk about the benefits of open-ended play and introduce their cutting edge building blocks.  All opinions are my own.



While doing research for a parenting app I was on the writing team for, I learned that, "open-ended toys," where the very best toy a child could play with. According to, Colleen D. Multari, LMSW, director of early learning at The Early Years Institute in Plainview, NY:


"Open-ended toys result in open-ended play. This type of play can evolve over time while also encouraging children to create and problem-solve as they explore the world around them. Open-ended play with peers encourages social development and social interaction while also developing cognitive skills. Children have to discuss and negotiate how to use the multipurpose toy. The social and developmental gains made by open-ended play far exceed those made by directed play."  
Research on the benefits of open-ended play are endless. I'm always on the lookout for new and interesting ways to incorporate open-ended toys or creativity. That's why, when the creator of TobiCubes reached out to introduce his new state of the art INFLATABLE MAGNETIC building blocks, I was immediately intrigued.





I have to say, the concept behind these blocks is fantastic...

Three sides have a patent pending magnetic locking system that allows for endless creativity. Another huge plus is that TobiCubes inflate and deflate for easy storage. 




Gone are the days of stacking shoe boxes. Not to mention, when the tower of TobiCubes falls, it won't knock anyone out!

The possibilities really are endless. Hence the whole idea of open ended





If you want to see these fancy TobiCubes in action, watch this:
                      




If you want to get your hands on TobiCubes, you can pre-order them now through their crowdfunding page, Here!


NOTE: If you have never ordered through crowdfunding before, or have no clue what it is: Crowdfunding is just that, getting funding from a huge crowd made up mostly by the general public. Basically, when marketing a project, rather than go after traditional investors, crowdfunding campaigns are funded by the general public. This creates a cost effective and super smart way for a developer to get enough backing through pre-orders to be able to afford a huge first run, which, spreads the savings out to the investors/general public. 

I personally love crowdfunding. I can support a small business, or in most cases, a family, while finding really great products cheap! Def check it out if you haven't. 


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8/13/15

The First-Timer's Guide To Back-To-School Orientation #EpicFail #Parenting

A couple of days ago, my son had his first ever school orientation. Between FTD, Ollie and I, we managed to make a huge mess of the affair.

As we pulled into the parking lot, FTD started pointing at the people walking in and said, "SEE! I told you we didn't need to dress up, they all have on shorts and flip-flops. And why are they carrying bags full of paper towels? Were we supposed to bring stuff?"

Me: Um... Bring stuff? I don't think so? 




As we turned into the auditorium where the orientation was being held, the place was pin-drop silent except for the principle talking. Apparently, when they say starts at 7pm, they mean it.

Once the principle stopped talking, I made my way to a familiar face and asked why everyone had bags of schools supplies. "You were supposed to download the list and bring the supplies with you." 

Then my friend says, "Can you believe the PTO fees? $75? It's EXTORTION!"

Me: PTO fees? $75? Huh?

Friend: Yeah, they are due today. You can pay by check or cash.

Awesome.

We have not been at this orientation for ten minutes and I've already made my family over dress and be late because of it, interrupt the principle's speech, failed to bring our school supplies AND the PTO extortion check.

What next...

A few minutes later, it's our turn to meet Ollie's teacher, and FTD and Ollie are running around the auditorium like crazies, making it nearly impossible to coral them. When they finally show up, I apologize for them being nuts, and explain that my husband is an Aussie and can't help it. Ollie introduces himself as Darth Vader.

At this point, I'm sure the teacher is thinking W....T.....F...?

I showed up without supplies or the PTO check and two insane children running around the place.

After a few minutes of talking, the two take off while I continue to apologize for them and ask a few more questions.

Before I finish talking with Ollie's teacher, another teacher walks up and introduces herself, and tells me my husband and child are, "too funny!"

Immediately, I think, Crap. What have they done now?

The teacher tells me, Ollie introduced himself at "Darth Vader" and said his dad was "Luke Skywalker. "Though it sounded more like Luke Skywanker."

I laughed it off, but truth be told, that's what FTD taught him.

I apologized a little more for their behavior, but was met with, "NO!  We need more of that at this school. I bet they are a lot of fun."

If only she knew. We wouldn't be allowed in that school...



Much to my horror, when I finally spotted FTD and Ollie, they were in a group talking to the principle.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

Then, the group breaks out in hysterical laughter.

I make my way over to the group and introduce myself, half expecting to be told to take those two home.

I'm met with handshakes and compliments on my son and husband.

HUH?

Really?

What is wrong with this place? It's a Catholic school and they are stoked to have our crazy-asses?  Did I also mention the wild-child just learned "Christ on a bike" from his cousin and says it all of the time?

If this school didn't have this specialized program for Ollie, I would have never considered it, being that we are such a certifiable family. I hoped that if we tried to be on our best behavior we could fake 'til we made it. Not only were we NOT on our best behavior-- , at this point, I don't even think we have a "best behavior."-- we were in true form! They were being crazy, while I was trying to hold it together.

My friend, if you learn nothing else from me about attending your first orientation, first read the school's websites and phone a friend to compare notes. read all newsletters thoroughly, bring an extra check and most of all, show up wearing comfortable casual clothes and let your family be themselves.











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8/11/15

Bedtime Battle Game Changer... Does Your Monitor Do This?


I've partnered with Levana to talk about the freedom and peace of mind baby monitors offer, and how my monitor has helped me win the bedtime battle! All opinions are my own. 



So who knew, all this time, the answer to my bedtime battle was a baby monitor? Which, calling it a "baby monitor" doesn't do it justice, because over the past three years, the baby monitor has become the toddler monitor, the husband monitor, and most recently, the bedtime battle game changer!





Here are five reasons the baby monitor has proved to be the answer to my bedtime battle woes...


1. Interactivity. Gone are the days of having a monitor that only allows you to stare at your baby. Today, monitors offer multiple ways to interact with your child. My favorite being, the two way microphone!  I LOVE being able to send empty threats to my toddler-- "Get back in bed!" or "Don't make me come up there!"


Another of my faves it that my Keera PTZ Baby Video monitor offers three different lullabies, so no need to do the ninja crawl through his room to turn the sound machine back on. 


Note: A few other incredible features you will find on some of the best baby monitors include, Photo snapping/video recording, seamless day to night vision and an alert to when your baby stirs or calls out, even when the monitor is on mute! (Mine lights up different colors to alert me to different sound intensities.)




2. Multiple cameras. Having multiple cameras for one monitor is EPIC! Needless to say, if you have more than one child, being able to flip between rooms on the same monitor is fantastic, but being able to have a camera in the playroom and bedroom is AWESOME!  I LOVE having the extra camera in FTD's office, which is right off the kitchen, so while I'm cooking, I let Ollie have tech time, and with the extra camera, I can cook and still ensure my kid is not sneaking off his learning programs to watch something horrible on YouTube! My Levana Keera PTZ Baby Video Monitor offers up to FOUR cameras! Until I can get another, we sometimes move them both upstairs so when Ollie runs to my bed, I can either catch him, or keep an eye on him in both beds. 


3. FREEDOM!!! No more laying in bed... I get to walk around the house, go out and water the lawn, and even chat with a chatty neighbor... until I've had enough--"Oh! Sorry, my kid is waking up from his nap, I have to go. Nice talking with you..." I have HOURS of my life back now that I can slip out of bed, and keep an eye on him. I nearly died when I shouted through the monitor, "GET BACK IN BED" And it worked! It really worked!!!!


        



4. Video and Pictures. I can take video from my monitor when Ollie is being ultra naughty to save for when he's older, or when I want FTD to see just how crazy the kid is at nap time. 


5. Complete Camera Control. One major improvement in baby monitors over the last few years it the ability to remotely move the camera.  I LOVE THIS! Our first camera required me standing in the nursery moving the camera while FTD shouted orders from our bedroom, "A little left. Can you prop it up a little? Use a book..."  SO ANNOYING!  Today, the best monitors allow for complete camera control from the monitor, including Pan, Tilt and Zoom! My Keera PTZ Baby Video Monitor offers remote movement of the camera up to horizontally 300° and tilt vertically 110°!! It's amazing for the playroom when Ollie is moving around, or when he's in my bed I can stay zoomed in on him, no matter how many flips and turns he makes across the king size bed.



Yes, monitors can be very expensive, but they are so worth the investment. Especially if you think about the fact that you'll use it for YEARS!  I bet I'll still have a monitor on my kid when he's eight!  The peace of mind an awesome monitor offers is worth every penny alone. And if you have a second child... this could be a ten year thing!  

If you are going through the bedtime battle too, or just have a crazy kid you need to keep a close eye, and still get things done, I cannot recommend enough using a baby monitor as your secret weapon! 


Think about it, what would you do with the extra time?

FYI:  The monitor I'm featuring in this post is the Levana Keera PTZ Baby Video Monitor:



                                               Invisible LEDs
                                             ClearVu digital wireless technology (proprietary name for secure digital – others can be hacked)
                                            Robust battery life that exceeds several days
                                      Higher frame rate
                                         Pan-Tilt-Zoom cameras
                                    First to market with hi-res 4.3” LCD screens
                                         First to market with easy-to-use GUI
 Levana has one of the only wireless movement monitors on the market


Use coupon code: KEERA10OFF



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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Levana. The opinions and text are all mine.

**Comments submitted to this post may be displayed on other websites owned by the sponsoring brand.

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