Friday, June 26, 2015

30 Second Burst of Attention

I remember when my mom would talk on the phone as a kid, and I would keep bothering her, asking her questions, and talking to her like she wasn't on the phone at all.  Because as kids we are all that matters right? We need and deserve all the attention and can't understand how on earth our parents have a life without us.

Ha, I remember her saying to me, as she cupped the phone with her hand so the other person couldn't hear, "I'm on the phone! Go and play!" But I would keep talking to her because obviously the other person on the line just didn't exist.  My poor mom.  Now I can totally relate. It is impossible to make a phone call. Thank goodness for a quick text.  But trying to make a real phone cal, or talk to another grown up next to you, can really only happen when my kids are asleep or during 'rest' time.

As I was complaining to one of my play therapist friends about it, she reminded me of the:

"30 Second Burst of Attention"

It's where you notice your child acting out for attention, so you stop what you are doing, give them 30 seconds of undivided attention, and then go back to what you were doing.  The theory is that your child gets louder and more disruptive when they notice you not paying attention to them.  So by giving them a short burst of attention, they will be satisfied and can go back to playing peacefully. well for maybe 1 minute at least.

Now that I am a parent I've realized more than ever that Kids need LOTS of attention.

I was skeptical of this 'burst of attention' technique when she reminded me of it again. It sounded great in grad school when I wasn't a parent yet, but now? It seems it would teach your child that it's okay to be disruptive, get your parents to drop everything, give kids the attention they want at any time, and then go on playing.

I am more along the lines of teaching children patience, and that sometimes we have to learn to wait for things.  Play therapy is completely different in that as a therapist we give the child 45-50 minutes of full, undivided attention.  But real life is not a therapy session.  So I try to balance the child-directed approach as a regular parent with my child.

So I decided to give the attention burst my own twist.  I have learned to warn my kids before I have to make an important phone call. Sometimes that means turning on their favorite TV show :)  But

Monday, June 1, 2015

City Select Deal!

I rarely post deals on goods for kids but this one was too good to not tell you about! As you know, I test drove A LOT of double strollers when I was pregnant with my second.  The Baby Jogger City Select was my first choice as it holds up well, is durable, but still large and super sturdy.  It's like an all terrain stroller that is a few steps shy of a Bob jogger.  I love how you can change up the seats to like 16 positions and can use as a single stroller if you just have 1 kid with you.  And you can fit through cars, shopping aisles, etc much easier than a side by side stroller.

Right now on Stroller Depot it is going for 489$!!  It normally is close to 800$ with both seats!  Click here for the deal, it probably will sell out soon!

I also bought the glider board for my older child to ride on when we are at places where she can hop on and off.  For those with more than 2 kids, this is also the perfect option!

To see my past full review for the stroller, click here.  Happy shopping!
Thursday, May 28, 2015

Picky Eaters!

My just turned 3 year old has to be THE pickiest eater on the planet.  It was so bad that back in February I booked an appointment (with our Dr.'s referral) at our local children's specialist center and could not get in until May 29th!  I was desperate and was having a hard time waiting and felt May would never come.  That is until they called to give me a quote of 1k$ for the cost of the initial evaluation. And yes, we do have insurance. Sigh.  That's when I threw my arms up and booked another appointment with my pediatrician.

See, my toddler has not eaten a single vegetable since her pureed baby foods at 6 months of age.  It's been oh, 1.5 years!  And fruit is about the same. She hates bananas, strawberries, blueberries, etc. She also won't get near any kid-friendly food like chicken nuggets, pizza, or french fries. And yes I have tried putting them on her plate like 20 times without pushing it.  I even would pull the, "you can just touch it and see how it feels, you don't have to put it in your mouth." But no. I couldn't even get her to play basketball with blueberries in a cup.  The girl would.not.touch.them.

So her eating life has consisted of cheese, yogurt pouches, Annie's bunnies and peanut butter on a spoon. Oh, and she loves Cliff Kid Oatmeal granola bars.

Our doctor said she obviously likes different textures so it's not a sensory issue.  She is gaining weight so there wasn't any worry there thank goodness.  She basically told me I needed to read a book by Ellyn Satter called How to Get Your Kid to Eat: But Not Too Much. She said, "read it, just read it. And then give me feedback. I want to know if it works."

I was like, no way will this work.  Mealtime had become something I dreaded. I never had to go through this with my now 5 year old. She doesn't always eat her veggies, but she tries them and can spit them out if she doesn't like them.  She also eats chicken, fish, hummus, avocado, fruits, etc.

But man, the constant making several meals for members of my family was becoming a beating!  I remember babysitting for a family of a 6 year old and the father telling me he didn't want his kid to run mealtime, that it's so easy for his kid to turn meals into a restaurant and making 3 meals for his family. Boy was he right!  That had become my life. I make meals for the grown ups, serve some of it to my 2 girls, but also make extra things I know they will eat.  And articles I had read in parenting magazines and books said if I didn't fix this now, I would have a 7 year old that only ate pizza, 3 meals a day!  Now I know some kids do have sensory issues or on a spectrum do eat the same thing for consistency.  They don't like change and new foods are hard for them.  For those, an eating specialist is definitely needed.

But my girl unfortunately was just being a stubborn red head.

So, I am in the beginnings of the Satter book but so far it has really started to help.  She basically tells you that parents decide WHEN to eat, WHAT to serve and WHERE to serve it, and the child decides WHETHER to eat or HOW MUCH to eat.

Here's how it works:

1) You put food on their plate that you know they will eat, and then also put things on their plate that are new (things you are serving yourself).

2) You don't talk about the food, no pressuring to eat, no "just taste it", no "just one have more bite"

3) Dessert is not tied to the if or how much they eat battle, so no baiting or bribing with dessert.  Satter advises to serve dessert with dinner (try not to have at every meal though).

4) Meals need to be family meals as much as possible, so kids see their parents eating and enjoying their food too

5) AND the magic words if they put up a fight and say "yuck, I don't like it!":


Yep, those 5 little words are all you have to say.  Period.  No fighting, arguing, bribing.

This philosophy puts kids in control, because we all know you can't control what your child eats (hello, just like the potty training issues where we can't make them go :) Power and control are huge with kids, so this approach lets the child decide what to eat off their plate and how much.  And they can have seconds if there is enough left.  They listen to their own internal hunger cues and food is not a reward or punishment.

So far it has worked great. I made eggs, bacon, fruit and toast for breakfast (which I figured she would only eat the peanut butter I put on the toast), but she ate everything on her plate minus the blueberries.  I just put my plate, her sister's and mine on the table, and started to eat. Didn't mention a thing about what was on her plate and she ate it. I mean, ate the bacon too!!  I didn't reward her and get all excited and make a big deal at all.  When she was done, I told her she could take her plate to the sink.  Wow!  I wish I had tried this all sooner.

I am so glad my child is not going to turn into a granola bar anymore, since that was all she was consuming.  I know it will go in baby steps and there are time she eats just 1 bite on her plate.  I'll report back in a few weeks after I finish the book and to let you know how she is doing.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Dallas Summer Kid Activities

Summer is almost here!  That means no school, ice cream and snow cones, summer camps, and finding ways to pass the lazy days of summer.  Now that my kids are a little older, I have come across a pretty good list of places to help beat the heat in Dallas too.  

Outside Fun
  • Ridgewood Recreation Center remodeled their splash park last summer and it's lots of fun for kids to run around without the hassle of a pool!  There is also a playground next to it for fun before or after swim:

  • Arboretum picnics in the morning (before it gets too hot)

  • Top Golf  for putt-putt

  • Playgrounds that have padded surfaces with some shade are Scottish Rite Hospital's playground and Coffee Park at Hillcrest and Northwest Highway.  We had our daughter's 2nd birthday party at Scottish Rite awhile back and loved it!

  • Klyde Warren park downtown also has a lot to offer, including splash areas for kids to run around, food trucks and a park. If you are feeling adventurous, you can try to take the Trolleydown there too. 

  • Cry baby movies at the Angelika recommended for babies under 6 months on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 1:30pm. 
  • Alamo Drafthouse also has summer movies for kids in the mornings. This summer they will have Mary Poppins, Despicable Me, Night at the Museum, etc. Check out their site for more details here.
  • Studio Movie Grill has Summer Kid Movies Mon-Friday at 11am for 1$ kids and 2$ adults, check the schedule here.
Indoor Playgrounds
  • Pump-it-Up on Forest Lane has open gym play Monday-Fridays from 10-11:30am and from 12-1:30pm.  7$ first child, 5$ additional child.  You can now reserve a spot online! Check out their Online Registration here.
  • JumpStreet indoor trampoline park has open jump from 10am-9pm Monday-Sunday and is 4$ if under 4 and 8$ from ages 4-7.
  • The Perot Museum has an area on the lower level for children under age 5 to play and run around in, with water play, climbing structures and art activities.  Just beware the museum and parking gets crowded in the summer with kids out of school!
  • Walnut Hill Rec Center on Walnut Hill and Midway Rd. has open play/gym for children through age 4, Monday through Fridays from 10:30-11:45am for 5$. Express Cheer Open Gym
  • CooCoos.  Ok, so technically this place is in Plano and I haven't been yet, but CooCoos is a huge indoor bounce house type place. 8$ for children 4 and older and 5$ for 3 and under, open daily from 10-6pm. 6505 W Park Blvd.
  • Lake Highlands Rec Center now also has a great indoor playground for our littles from ages 0-5. It's 3$ for open play, Wildcat Fun Zone operates weekdays from 9-10:30am, 11-12:30pm, 3-4:30pm, and 5-6:30pm.

  • Indoor Playgrounds at Galleria Mall and Willowbend Mall.  I prefer going to the Galleria one in the mornings when it's not as hot (it's on the top floor) and not as crowded :)

  • The Treefort at Watermark Church has a great indoor play area. Check out the daily schedule of open hours here (scroll down).

  • We also love going to the Fair Park Aquarium. It's small so it's not too crowded, parking is free and kids of all ages love it! Plus it's air conditioned :) 8$ for adults and 6$ for kids 3+

Libraries and Storytimes
  • Reunion Tower has storytimes on Wednesdays this summer from 11am-11:30am on the GeoDeck! There are crafts and storytime. Discounted admission, 8$ for kids 4-12 and adults 14$. Details here.
  • Barnes and Noble at Lincoln Park also has storytime on Tuesdays at 10:30am
  • Northpark Bookmarks Baby Bounce and Tickles for Toddlers. Check out their calendar for weekly times: 
  • Tuesdays at Whole Foods Park Ln has storytime and crafting at 10am! We love going here for the free snacks too!
  • Pottery Barn Kids off Knox also has a Tuesday storytime at 11am
  • Storytimes at Lochwood Library on Fridays at 10:30m or Skillman Library at 10:30am on Thursdays.  Also Highland Park Library has them daily at 10am, click on link here.  The Preston-Royal location also has a different activity each Tuesday at 10:30am from music classes, to storytimes.
  • For fun weekend storytimes, visit the Half Price Bookstore on Sundays at 3pm for children under age 10.
  • Richardson Public Library I've heard has the best area for kids with an aquarium, lots of stocked kids books and a train table. Check out their schedule for storytimes though as you have to register beforehand here.
    • Best indoor restaurant playground is at the Chick-Fil-A at Southwestern and Central Expy, and Hillcrest Ave because it's not as crowded!
    • Bake and Play at Mockingbird and Abrams is a great indoor play area for kids.  Complete with dress-up clothes for girls and boys, playscapes, train tables, doll houses and food to feed your youngster!  It's 8$ per child, but if you buy a 10 pass punch card, it's 5$ a child. Don't forget socks for you and your kids!

    • Monster Yogurt in Casa Linda is also a great way to cool off the summer with a froyo AND an indoor playground!  Check out their site here.

    • Sno snowcones!  The best way to beat the heat, just wish it had indoor playground. But they have the best all natural flavors made in house! Meadow and I-75.

    Hope this list helps fill up your Summer fun! If there are any other places I've forgotten, post in the comments below. Happy Summer!

    Thursday, April 30, 2015

    Mother's Day Gift Ideas

    Mother's day is next weekend and it's one of my favorite holidays! I love being able to celebrate motherhood with my mom, grandmother and my 2 little girls.  It's a day to cherish the love I have for my kids, the day I gave birth to them, and the generations of moms in my family.

    And when it comes to deciding on what to get our moms, I found some cute gift ideas to also show our love:

    1) Olive Yew Mother's Day Necklace:  (37$)

    2) Olive Yew's Heart Initial Necklace: (50$)
    This is one of my favorites I wear with my little girls' initials and a heart between them.  You can choose gold, silver or rose gold.

    3). Shop Compliments "Gratitude" necklace: (47$) and available in white, navy, lime, pink, or mint on gold chain or black on silver chain.

    4). Handbags! One of my favorites and lately I have been searching like crazy for a new tote that has interior pockets for busy moms that's not a diaper bag.  There are a lot of cute totes out there, and fancy ones like the Louis Vuitton Neverfull, and the Goyard, but there are no pockets! The bucket totes are hard for me because I am constantly digging for my phone, keys and not to mention the mass amount of junk my kids demand I carry.  Sippy cups too.  So I have found a few cute ones that have interior pockets and are super stylish:

    Barrington Gifts Savannah Zippered Tote (175$)  This bag has 5 pockets total, 1 exterior, 2 side interior pockets for water bottles, etc and a cell phone pocket, a zippered pocket and a slip pocket. Click on the link above to see all the fun patterns and colors.

    Stella and Dot La Totale Large (118$).  Cute pattern and several interior pockets, including a water bottle one! Comes in navy as well.

    Botkier Women's Soho Tote (250$).  I've been eyeing this one myself, but wish it had a few more interior pockets. I just love the edginess to it.  It has 2 pockets but still durable and the interior glittery color is cute too!  It comes in several different colors.

    5) And for those that want to give the classic gift of perfume, I have always loved Grace by Philosophy Amazing Grace Spray Fragrance, 4-Fluid Ounce . It's a sweet scent and you can wear it daily. (48$)

    So there you have it, my top picks. Of course don't get me wrong, a nice spa day is a great gift too, but also just spending time with your mother or your children is the best gift of all!  Mother's day is not always all about the gifts we give, but the time we spend with them that day and to show appreciation and love :)

    Sunday, April 12, 2015

    Focus on the Positives

    Lately we've been hearing the word, "no" a lot in our house.  It's in the form of "not right now," or "don't slam the door!"  I try to use my play therapy words such as "toys are not for throwing," but sometimes it just doesn't happen.

    The "no's" usually occur in the morning, when I am running on zero energy and so are my children as we get ready to leave the house for the day.  As I am rushing around making sure teeth are brushed, and clothes are on, something always happens and it makes us late.  Another trip to the potty, or someone isn't happy with the shirt they are wearing.

    Last week it was slamming a door for the 15th time! I snapped and tried a Pavlov dog technique of raising my voice and saying "no!" Kind of like what you are supposed to do to a dog when they are in the middle of having an accident in your house. The sharp "No!" is supposed to trigger the bell reflex and they aren't supposed to do it again.  But on a toddler, uhm, not so much. Pavlov didn't work, it just caused more tantrums. You mean kids aren't like dogs? :)

    Lesson learned from mommy. So I pulled myself together and remembered it's best to use words that describe what they are SUPPOSED to do instead.  If your child is slamming doors, instead of saying "don't bang the door!" say, "doors are not for playing with, they are to be pushed gently."  Because when you say "no", all the child hears is the action part such as "slam door!"  She doesn't hear the "don't" part to your discipline.

    The best plan is to tell them what you want them to do.  I know I've talked a little much about positive and negative reinforcers, but it's so true.  When we give any attention to negative behaviors, it's still attention and they eat it up!  Especially those second borns or 3rds or 4ths who just don't get as much attention.  They seem to act out way more than the first borns, and when they pull on their sister or push her and start laughing, guess what they are trying to do? Yep, you guessed it, get your attention and their siblings'.

    So stay calm (yes I know, easier said than done), and focus on the positive actions.  The louder and more energetic your response, then the more likely they will act out. Completely hard to do when your child is throwing things all over the place and you try to say all quiet, "sweetie pie, toys are not for throwing, if you want to throw something, you can throw this ball."  Just take a deep breath, realize it's not the end of the world if a toy breaks, or a toy breaks a picture frame. It may be super super frustrating, but the more calm and short the response, the less likely they will do it again.  No reaction from you = no attention = less negative behaviors.  Of course a consequence may be needed here, but still stick to your less 'attention rewarding' behaviors.

    Also try to find time to give that extra attention with hugs, kisses, story time, and one-on-one play time.  It will help curb some of their acting out!  And if you're looking for a good reference, I stumbled across a book that teaches you how to stay calm and work on communicating better with your young child called What Babies Want.  Any of you have advice on less is best when it comes to positive reinforcement?

    Sunday, April 5, 2015

    Happy Easter!

    Happy Easter!  Today was a fun family celebrated day starting with Easter baskets from the Easter Bunny (Frozen themed of course), Church and then dinner with our family. I love how the day is spent relaxing and enjoying family time!  Stores were closed and there wasn't any rushing around or errands to run.  I wish there were more days like this :)  Hope everyone had a great weekend!