Friday, April 29, 2011

It's Friday!

It's Friday the 29th of April and unless you have been living under a rock, it's the Royal Wedding Day!  Am I really going to blog about this you're asking? No, but I am curious as to how many of you got up at 3am to watch?  I thought I might sneak in since my baby always seems to nurse around 3-4am anyway.  But not so much. At 3:30am after I nursed her, I checked to make sure my Tivo was working and went right back to bed!

But I got teary eyed watching the wedding as I woke up. I think it's because they actually like each other and is a true Cinderella kind of story!  And so nice to see a couple get to know each other first and not rush to the altar. A great representation of our current culture today and couples waiting to get married until they are a little older.

As I was speaking to a friend of mine about the wedding today, another topic came up which is what I was going to originally.

And that topic is, "How do you handle unwanted child rearing advice from others?"

I see article after article about this in my parenting magazines, have heard from many friends and mothers about their encounters and have heard from clients about these sticky situations.  I have blogged about this topic before but this time it happened to my friend and to me recently!

Unwanted advice could be from relatives which can always be tricky.  The well meaning Mother-in-law or your great Aunt.  How do you handle that? Hmmm...

Or your friend that has had 5 kids or just 1 child seems to be the know-it-all when it comes to child rearing.  I always thought just because you may have 20 kids doesn't mean you are an expert.  I think it takes educating yourself and taking parenting classes (hey, you have to take a drivers ed class to drive a car, right?) and reading books to also having a warm motherly caring attitude towards raising a child.

Or it could be unwanted advice from a stranger. This is the situation that happened to me for the first time at Target the other day. I know that there will be many others in the future as people have warned me.  It is a live and learn situation for sure.

So, I had my baby in her infant car seat in the shopping cart, which I don't do much anymore but I only had 1 item to get and hated to get her in and out of a car seat and cart.  Well, as I was ordering my stamps at the stamp machine (holding onto my cart at the same time) an elderly woman came up and said: "Oh I was just looking at your baby" and I thought to myself, oh how sweet she is complimenting her, but no.  Instead, she said, "why don't you move your cart to face the other direction so she is facing.." and I cut her off right there.  I was in such shock, I had never had anyone tell me how to drive a grocery cart before.  It was criticism of my driving abilities and my parenting and my defenses went up.

Now, I am no saint and yes I am a counselor and yes I make mistakes. This is why I started the blog in the first place to laugh at all of the funny mistakes that a child therapist will make as a parent :)

But I was thinking, I am out of the way, no one is even near me, and I am holding onto my cart, what more is she wanting here?  I would never tell someone where to put their cart or how to drive it. If someone is in my way as I make it down an aisle, I always say excuse me, every time, never 'move it!' Plus was she thinking I was neglecting my baby by having her face out and not towards me??

So I cut her off and said something not so nice. I told her to basically not tell me what to do. And she walked off.  Yeah, me, a nice and warm child counselor told someone to leave me alone. Ha!  So I learned next time to  just say "thanks for the advice" and walk away or turn away. But what if she kept insisting and pushing?  Well, the nice thing to do would be to say, "again, thanks for your advice, I will take it into consideration" and probably just move away and push my cart somewhere else or leave.

I think the same goes for relatives and friends. Just telling them, "thanks for the advice" and leaving it at that. Not to go into why you are not doing it the way they want or what your belief is as that is fuel for an arguement. Now, if it is something a relative is doing that you want them to stop, such as feeding your child candy all the time, you can quickly explain that, "I appreciate you giving them candy, but in our house we are choosing to raise them on non-sugar sweets" and then explain if and when you would give them candy.

How about you guys, any relatives, friends or strangers giving you unwanted advice and how do you handle it??
Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mother's Day Gift Ideas

This year, Mother's day is going to be my very first mother's day!  I am so excited to spend it with my little sweetheart!  My baby girl was born 4 days after mother's day last year and I remember being so big and miserable those last few days.  But looking back, it is so sweet to think that my precious Luna was just a few days from being born, kicking away in my tummy.

When asked what I wanted for Mother's day this year, my first wish was a day at the spa.  Isn't that every mother's dream gift?

But with a high price tag, maybe settling for a mani/pedi, facial or haircut will do.  The last time I had a facial was in my second trimester, so I am much need of one!  Pregnancy did a number on my skin and it just hasn't been the same since. So on the top of my gift list would be a facial for sure, so I can feel a little bit more normal. But there are so many other great gifts out there. Decisions, decisions.

Here are a few other great gift ideas for you, your mom, sister, and all other moms out there that I put together:

1) Initial Charm Necklaces:

These are really popular now and I love the one I got from Sonya Renee after my baby was born. You choose the letter, and the birthstone of your child(ren). It makes it really special to be able to wear something all day long that reminds you of your little one:

Here is another one from Made by Maggie on Etsy a friend of mine has that I love:

2) Don't like necklaces? How about a bracelet with a picture of your children?  This one from planetjill says "I Love You All the Way to The Moon and Back." So sweet!

3) If you still have a baby in diapers at home, I have had on my wish list for awhile this Petunia Pickle Bottom's Cake diaper bag line. It's something you can carry and keep well until your child is in elementary school and beyond, as it's also like a purse AND it has a backpack option. This is something that even a woman who doesn't have kids will love to carry, super stylish.  A little on the pricey side, but they are adorable! You can purchase it on the link above, or on Amazon here: Petunia Pickle Bottom CAKE Society Satchel - Buttercream Cake

4) I am in love with photobooks. Love, love, love them and wish I had several coffee tables to display them.  Shutterfly has some good deals on them from paperback to hardcover, but there are a ton of other companies that make them such as Blurb, and Tiny Prints.  Every mother out there will love getting a book of their little ones or grandkids.

5) Otterbox. Whether you are a new mom, grandmother or Aunt, with children around, you will need an indestructible cell phone case. I am not a fan of the big and bulky ones myself, but after my child was teething and drooling all over my cell phone, she caused water damage and 60$ later in repairs, I figured it was time to get one. She will soon be wanting to play with it more and more and the Otterbox will also prevent your screen from cracking and any water damage(the death of an iPhone).  They come in such cute colors too!  Amazon is offering the Defender series for iPhones at 30$ marked down from 50$ here:
OtterBox Defender Case for iPhone 4 (White/Purple, Fits AT&T iPhone)

6) Pottery keepsakes like from Purple Glaze below.  I am planning on going here on my child's birthday to get a cute handprint done.  Such a sentimental gift and is priceless!

So those are a few gift ideas for moms out there. Of course I am also a sucker for any home-made gift as those are the most special!!  How about you guys, any favorite gifts you've received from your kids?  What do you plan on doing that day?
Monday, April 25, 2011

Book recommendations

Have you seen the sweet commercials for the Hallmark recordable books? I saw the one for the Night Before Christmas during the holidays and thought it was so cute. And I was super delighted my daughter received it as a gift from my grandparents for Christmas! It is so sweet we will always have a story recorded by her great-grandparents.

And then the other day I saw that Hallmark had them for other books as well. And not just any books, but the best ever bedtime books!! Goodnight Moon, Guess How Much I Love You, Counting Kisses, and several other all time classics.

I love reading the regular version of these stories each night to my baby and can't wait to purchase the recordable ones for her.  I think it's a great idea for children to have when they want a story read to them and it's a keepsake they will treasure forever.

These are also perfect for your child if they are dealing with separation anxiety and you can't always be there for bedtime.  Or if their daddy is working late and can't be home to tuck them in, they can still hear him read a story :)

And the best way to buy them? You can purchase most of these Hallmark books through Amazon Mom! Free shipping, yay! Click here: Hallmark Guess How Much I Love You~ Recordable Story Book

Side note: I am NOT receiving any reimbursements from Hallmark (I wish!), I just saw a an ad for them today and HAD to discuss how incredibly cute their books are!
Friday, April 22, 2011


As I was reading one of my parenting magazines last night, I came across an article about how to handle your toddler while eating out.  It said what most of us know: to bring a fun activity for them to play with, feed them as soon as you get there, and go at an early time so you don't bother other diners. And lastly, if your child has a stronger temperament, then hold off on going out to eat until they are a little older.

Wait a year or so? Wow, that sounds harsh.  Not always an easy solution for families.

And what exactly do they mean by 'strong temperament?'

A temperament is basically a behavior/disposition that someone is born with. Some define it as: characteristics of a baby and how they respond to the environment, such as fearfulness, irritability, emotionality and sociability.

Babies and toddlers are described as easy going vs. fussy. Quiet vs outgoing.  These are attributes that can all be caused by temperament. You hear parents all the time saying "I have one child that is so easy and the other throws fits like no tomorrow!" How amazing it is that children in the same family can be so different!

Temperaments are something a child is born with and not a reflection of 'parenting'.  You can be an awesome parent, with great discipline techniques but still have a child that is easily frustrated and throw more temper tantrums.

Everyone is wired differently, and to me that makes perfect sense.  Each person's personality is unique. We wouldn't all want to be born exactly alike when it comes to temperament.

I think it also takes having a positive outlook when it comes to your child's temperament.  If your child is more of a high-need, fussy child, people may describe their attributes negatively such as 'cranky', 'feisty', 'fussy' or 'easily upset' but don't let them make you feel bad!  You can always say to them, 'well, I am glad my child is reacting to his feelings and surroundings. It shows that he has emotions and right now he is just figuring out how to handle them since they are all new to him.

And being 'easy going' isn't necessarily always a good thing, just like the opposite isn't always bad.

A high need newborn baby that is fussy gets more of its needs met and more attention, so even though it is draining on the parents, they get more hugs and TLC.  And going into adulthood, they have learned how to self soothe more, delay instant gratification and self-control.  And hey, those fussy kids are usually the ones with the funny personalities that are outgoing and have ambition in life.

So back to the 'strong temperament' that the magazine was discussing.  If your child can just sit at a restaurant and be easy going, then they are suggesting you have it easy! What are the poor parents to do who have a difficult child?

Children under 3 have very, very short attentions spans, so even the most easy going child can only sit still in one place for so long!

As in any situation when going somewhere with a toddler, it takes being more prepared by making sure they are fed and rested before you head out the door.  And of course have packed a few food items you know they will eat, and some special toys, crayons and coloring paper to entertain them at the table.

You can also try to explain to them before you get there about what is going to happen: we will all sit down at the table, the waiter will then come over, we will all eat at the table, etc.. it helps kids know what to expect.  You can even write out the steps in crayon on their placemat and when each step is completed, make a game of it and check it off.

When eating out, also make sure your family (grandparents or visitors) know that this dining experience is not going to be fine dining!  It's going to be a quick in and out kind of thing.  And if any sort of fussiness begins, to nip it early at the first signs by setting limits if needed, or having one parent take the child outside while waiting for the check.

What are your thoughts on temperament?


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Easter Recipes

It's Easter time and what does that mean? Spring! My favorite season, well, except for Summer coming in a close second. I love the Texas heat. Call me crazy but I love walking outside and feeling the heat on my body in a tank top and not needing to grab a sweater or light jacket when I leave the house.

But back to Spring.  Easter is such a fun holiday for kids with all of the candy, sweets, cute outfits, Easter egg hunts, celebrating on Sunday with your Church and of course a visit from the Easter bunny.

I was so excited that a Mom in my playgroup decided to host an Easter party for us and our sweet babies.  We all offered to bring a dish for the brunch, so I quickly searched the internet to find a fun, sweet, sinful Eater recipe. Cupcakes, or candy bird nests? But then I came across a recipe for deviled eggs and I stopped there.  I decided to save my sweet tooth for a Peep or two as these deviled eggs looked too good to pass up.

I had no idea there were so many recipe variations for deviled eggs.  Endive, bacon, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, Gruyere cheese, bread crumbs?  So I decided to enlist the help of my sister- the Queen of deviled eggs.  She gave me her secret recipe and because I am feeling so generous will post it below.  Side note: I know, this is so not a typical Counseling post, but my baby girl is attending her first Easter party tomorrow and as a new mom, it is so exciting to celebrate First Holidays!

Deviled Eggs:

12 Hard boiled eggs

1/4 cup of Mayonnaise

1/4 cup of Dijon

1 TBSP of fresh dill (or dried)

1 TBSP of Horseradish

a few shakes of Garlic salt to your taste

Garnish: Cayenne or Paprika, fresh dill

Put 12 eggs in a pot of cold water, 1 inch above the eggs. Bring to a boil and then cover, reducing heat to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes, remove from heat.  Let cool in pan and run cold water over eggs.

Carefully peel shells off of the eggs, then slice longways.  Scoop out the egg yolks into a bowl and place egg white shells in a serving dish.

Mix egg yolks with remaining ingredients until desired consistency.  You can add more or less of the ingredients to your liking.  Some people put the filling in a freezer bag and pipe it into the eggs, or you can just scoop it in like me. Garnish with a dash of Cayenne and fresh dill.  Warning:  These are dangerously good and overdosing may occur!

How about you guys, any good Easter recipes??
Monday, April 18, 2011

Nap Time

I know, you're thinking, another sleep post? Yes, I have posted about sleep in babies and kids before, as it seems to be an ongoing issue with them.  When new parents say their baby now sleeps through the night, I have to laugh. Because it is going to be a bumpy ride.

Getting a full 8 or 9 hours of sleep at night is never going to be the same again once you have kids. Babies will wake up from time to time because they are still learning to self soothe, lost a paci, are teething, a dirty diaper, or because they feel like it. And older kids will wake up at night for various reasons: sickness, being potty trained, wetting the bed, scared by thunderstorms, bad dreams, etc. And then they become teenagers and they sleep all the time, but you as a parent are the one up all night worried where they are and what they are doing!

But what about nap time??

When it comes to daytime sleep, most kids still take naps at age 5 and under.  My baby started out with 3 naps a day for a long time but went to 2 naps around age 8 months.  Some friends of mine have babies who went to 1 nap a day at 9 months and some still take 2 naps at 24 months. All kids are different and where some may sleep 13 hours at night, they may only need 1 nap a day and others sleep less at night and make up for it during the day.

I have to say I am a big nap supporter. Naps are definitely under-rated and adults should take them more frequently for sure.  It makes us less cranky and in a better mood- just like babies and children. Naps are so important for kids and their development.  Some babies may take shorter naps than others, but no matter what, you can't let your baby go without one!  They need them to grow for brain development, physical and motor skill development, social and emotional development.

And nothing spells sleep deprived child like the hyperactive, temper tantrum toddler :)

Remember those days of newbornness when they slept all the time: in the car, while shopping, at the restaurant? Now?  My child has to be at home and in her crib for her to take a good nap.

Last week for instance, she went without her first morning nap ! We had a special play date at 10:30am with some friends, and I the genius parent, thought I should wake her up early, then put her down for an early nap at like 9am. No such luck.  She fought that nap and fought it and just played in her crib until 10am.  So, I just packed her up and took her to the play date thinking we would stay an hour, then she would nap, get up and play then nap again later in the day.

Well, she napped all right, in the car on the way home and then I just moved her car seat into her room and turned on the sound machines.  She only slept about an hour- go figure, wouldn't you in a car seat?

When it was time for her go to back to sleep, it was already after 5pm.  So I fed her and put her to bed early at 6pm.

And guess what? She was up at 6am, took 2 naps the next day, then back down at 6pm again.  But luckily by the 3rd day she was back to normal. So what did I learn from that experience?

To NOT let my child miss a nap, no matter what is going on.  They are cranky and fussy, I am cranky and it is just not a good situation.  They need that sleep and their fussiness is them saying, "please, please put me to bed, I am tired!"  It makes a world of difference when my child gets the sleep she deserves.  I love the days when I am at home all day with nothing planned and I put her down right when she is tired and she sleeps so well. There is no rushing home for nap time and she falls asleep so easily.

Naps are bliss.  I think they were invented for the child's sake AND for the parent to have a break :)


Friday, April 15, 2011

1st Birthday Toys

Ever since my daughter turned 11 months old, I have been getting requests for gift ideas from family about what to buy for her 1st birthday.  Of course babies go through toys faster than anything, so I was always one to buy books as gifts for children as they will last a lot longer and double as educational toys too.

But the child development major in me made me research a few other good ideas that are developmentally appropriate.  So if you are looking for your child or as a gift for a friend, here are a few that I have found: (all pics courtesy of Toys R Us)

Moving Toys: Ride-on toys and anything that she can push or pull, such as toy lawnmowers, grocery carts, and doll strollers.  It helps them as they learn to walk and push things and helps develop their motor skills.  The Little Tikes car is a classic, and this one is their 30 year anniversary edition.

Arts: Large crayons or finger paints (nontoxic) so they can start learning about art mediums. These are first time markers for toddlers and easy to hold.

Music: We purchased our daughter a lot of musical instruments at Christmas as she loves them all! She takes Kindermusik classes too and research has shown how music can foster brain development, and creativeness. You can purchase inexpensive, durable instruments (a small drum, a set of maracas, a kazoo, etc.) that will last a long time! This one is made out of wood and is very simple and safe for toddlers.

Sorting, Emptying and filling: Any toy that allows your baby to put things in and take them out. You can give your baby a box or basket with a variety of small toys. Shape-sorters come in all shapes and sizes. Start by showing your baby which shape goes in which hole. Check out these simple blocks here

Manipulating Toys: These toys help with fine-motor skills.  They're toys featuring switches, buttons, pulls, and other gadgets to keep little hands and fingers busy.  This one from Toys R Us teaches how to get dressed.

Pretend Play: Toy kitchens stocked with pretend food,  building sets, doctor kits, etc. All are great hits with babes and are a great way to start building their pretend play collection for years to come!  You can purchase the big items like this one early as they will grow with it:

Or you can start small with plastic food:

Or a doctor's kit:

Can you tell how much I love pretend play?

Water/Splashing: Many toddlers love to play in the tub so it makes sense that they would want to play outside the tub with water. Water is a great sensory medium and they learn pouring, filling, sinking, and floating.  My sister in law recommended a sand/water combo station like this Little Tikes toy:

Any other 12 month birthday gift ideas?
    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

    11 months

    So today marks my baby girl's 11 month birthday. Yes, 11 months. I know, where did the time go????  I wonder where the time goes each month that we celebrate her birth, but it is still so amazing that she has come from a microscopic seeming newborn to this 18 pound healthy human baby girl who is laughing, smiling, babbling, and has her own little personality.

    Do any of you moms out there look at older kids and think, oh my gosh, my child is going to be there one day! And you know how time flies and that time will be here sooner than we know it. You are either excited about it, or like me most of the time, scared to death.

    Like dreading her growing up as I watch teenagers doing reckless things in my neighborhood and thinking, that is not going to be my child, please, please don't let her do those things! Or being excited about my daughter grow as I watch the cute 7 year old picking out her birthday party dress at the mall, or seeing a 4 year old who is super verbal, communicating so well and making friends. So cute!

    Or how about this common experience: Today I was witness to a 3 year old having a screaming tantrum at Toys R Us. I thought to myself,  I could one day have that child that all of the other shoppers are covering their ears and glaring at the mother, wondering why she brought the child there in the first place? I thought to myself, hello? Sensori-overload.  Kind of hard for a 3 year old to say "no" to all of the temptations at Toys R Us. But then I thought, well, this mom may be a single mom, have no family in town and has no one to watch her child while she runs her errand to the most overstimulating store on earth.  But then I thought, if your life is that stressful, do you even have time to go to Babies R Us in the first place?

    Okay, I digress. Back to my original point here.  I am SO amazed at how fast babies grow. I remember studying how fast infants develop and each month how they progress, but it is still so hard to accept at times that your child is growing up right before your eyes. I wish I could just wrap her up, stop time and keep her at this age for at least 6 more months.

    I mean, just 8 or 9 months ago, my child was not smiling yet. Just not there developmentally, and now she is laughing, smiling and babbling. Isn't it amazing?

    So, with birthdays on my mind, does anyone have any birthday ideas for 1st birthdays? Games, activities, favors??
    Monday, April 11, 2011


    More Healthy Boundariesphoto © 2009 David Goehring | more info (via: Wylio)

    So over the weekend, I had an awkward encounter with a friend and her 5 year old daughter. When we first greeted each other we hugged and said the usual 'hellos' and then my friend told her daughter to go and give me a hug. Seems innocent?

    Well, no so much. Of course as soon as the mother requested a hug, the little girl hid behind her mom. It was pretty obvious to me, the little girl and any witness that this girl was not interested in giving me a hug. Well, it was obvious to everyone EXCEPT her mother. The mother kept insisting her daughter give me a hug where I in turn stated, "oh, that's okay, she doesn't have to give me a hug if she is not feeling like it today. Maybe next time." And I quickly changed the subject.

    I can't tell you how many times I have witnessed this over the years and how uncomfortable it makes each and every one involved. I wonder, why do parents push their kids to give hugs and kisses to family members, friends or barely known acquaintances?

    Maybe it's because the parent wants people to think their child is a kind, giving, social, and pleasant child. They don't want people to think their child is either shy, rude, snobby, or rejecting. Do they think it is a reflection of them being a bad parent?

    All I know is if we push children to give affection when it's not something they are naturally initiating, then what are we teaching them?

    Well for one, the worst case scenario is that we are pushing them in the wrong direction if they ever come in contact with a sexual perpetrator. We need to teach them to be safe, and not victims.

    Perpetrators first like to 'groom' children which means they start out by giving verbal compliments, then move onto maybe some innocent seeming touch like patting their heads, and then use these 'grooming' techniques to seek out their ulterior motives. And if we push our kids to give physical affection when they don't want to, then we are teaching them the wrong message when it comes to their safety.

    Secondly and more commonly, we are teaching them to push their boundaries when we push our kids to give unwarranted physical affection to others. Healthy boundaries are important and if we make our kids test them, then the lines get crossed and they become unhealthy boundaries.

    Say what?

    Basically this means that as parents we all want our children to become confident and assertive in life- this means they have self-esteem. They know what is expected of them, they know what the rules and limits are (boundaries). They know how to say,"no" and can stand up for themselves.

    If we push them to cross these boundaries, then they get fuzzy and confused and they don't know what is acceptable or not. Worst case here would be if our child ends up in a unhealthy relationship either with a partner, a bad job with a controlling boss or worse, a domestic violence relationship. How? Because they keep agreeing and saying 'yes' and don't know what the boundaries are and how to walk away from a bad situation.

    What to do?

    If you are a parent out there who has been guilty of this, I can understand how society has taught us to make sure our kids are friendly and show affection. But it is really up to them to decide on who to give physical affection to and it is not something they should be punished for or coerced to giving. As long as you teach them these social skills, they will have the knowledge and will use it when they feel that it's appropriate.

    As parents (using your own words) the best thing is to teach your child something by saying something like, "People give hugs and kisses when they want to show someone how much you care about them. Just like mommy and daddy gives you hugs and kisses because we love you. You can choose to give hugs and kisses only when you feel like it." And then you can go into more detail such as where it's appropriate to give kisses, like on the cheek, so that your son does not go up to a cute 1st grade girl and send her the wrong message :)

    So, what to do if some parent pushes their kid on you? I just keep saying the same thing to the child as I mentioned above, "it looks like you are just not feeling like you want to give a hug to me today and that's ok. Sometimes you feel like giving them and sometime you don't." And HOPE that the parent is listening and gets the hint.

    Has anyone else been in this situation, or been the parent on the other side?
    Saturday, April 9, 2011

    Spring Fever and Giveaway links

    I am just love, love, loving this Spring weather we are having here in Dallas!  The flowers are in bloom and when I take my little girl on a morning walk at 9am, it's not blazing hot.  What more could you ask for?

    Maybe it's the weather, but we've had some easy going past couple of days with no drama, issues or meltdowns.  And as I was enjoying this fine day, sipping some fresh coffee and reading my fellow bloggers this morning, I ran across the Frugal Friend's site. I mentioned her site as one of the ones that has helped me save money on my Frugal Mom post here.  Today she posted about Saturday Giveaways for family related items including several cool toys!  You can check it out here.

    Lots and lots of goodies including this cute Little Tikes gardening set. Adorable!  This can provide hours of fun for your little one as the hose actually works with water, they can cart around all sorts of things outside and indoors and is great for imaginative play. And best of all it is gender neutral so your little boys can also help daddy work in the yard :)

    Enjoy your weekend!!
    Friday, April 8, 2011

    Not my child

    Since my baby girl is in this new phase of not wanting to be restrained in anything, she just wants to crawl allll over the place. Not wanting to be in her car seat, highchair, diaper changing table or stroller.  She's been crawling for a couple of months now, but it seems that each day she is being more and more adventurous in her exploring and wanting to be 'free'!

    For instance, last night when we went to dinner, she did not want to stay put in her highchair for long at all.  She started crying and kicking the chair.  We were 'those people' that the other diners were glaring out. She had eaten, had plenty of sleep and a clean diaper, so we figured she was just going through 'that stage'.  We each took turns taking our baby outside to calm her down while we ate our cold dinner. Awh, the joys of parenthood.

    And today in her Kindermusik class, she did not want to sit in my lap and sing songs :(  She took off all over the place.  Examining the room, crawling towards the other moms and babes, looking at the windows and pulling up to the teacher's table.  I so wanted her to participate in the mommy and me activities, but she wanted no part in it. Our teacher said it was normal at this stage and they all start to explore the room, but it was still hard to know she is past the sitting still in my lap phase and starting the "Miss Independent, Don't Tell Me No" phase.

    Did you think before you had kids, you would see the children in restaurants throwing fits and temper tantrums and hoping one day that would not be your child?  Or you were at the area Walmart witnessing a melt-down and thinking that you would be different, and hope not to have that crazed whiny child when you one day became a parent?

    I know all children have melt-downs and temper tantrums and I've posted several times on that topic, but it is still hard to watch your child go through the beginnings of that phase. Having these 'fits' as people call them, is a normal stage that all children go through. Just as all kids go through the sitting up, then crawling phase or the babbling before speaking phase.  Developmentally, all kids need to test limits as they are learning and exploring their environment.

    But as a play therapist, sometimes I have to wonder what other people are thinking of me and my child. Like am I always being watched to see how I react?  If my child acts out, will they think I don't know what I am doing and lose credibility?  Hopefully people will realize that all children have fussy times, temper tantrums and act out.  Just because I am a counselor does not mean my children will be perfect at all times, or that I will be either!

    AND to remember that children act out more when in the presence of their parents than anyone else.  Why? Because they feel safer to act out when around those they trust.  Ever wonder why your child is an angel for the grandparents or babysitter? Yep, they don't test their limits around them as much, just their parents.

    So for now I am letting my girl have as much active play time at home in her safe, baby proofed play area.  But having to make any driving and eating out experiences super quick!  She is probably sick of hearing, "I know you don't want to get in the car seat, but we have to be safe and buckled in when we ride in cars. We'll get out shortly and play soon."

    Thank goodness she still takes a couple of naps a day so mommy can rest after our heavy play times.  Naps were invented for children AND for their parents. :)


    Wednesday, April 6, 2011

    Natural Consequences

    Discipline, discipline, discipline.  As a parent you see so many books out there on the topic and so many variations it can be overwhelming! I've blogged about the main one I use as a play therapist, Limit Setting, but there are other parts to it too, such as using it with Natural and Logical Consequences.  I'm sure you've heard of Natural and Logical Consequences, but wondered where the heck it falls in with everything else out there? Of course I will be posting again and again on this topic as it will resurface throughout my life as a parent!

    What exactly are Natural and Logical Consequences?

    Well, the 'Natural part' is basically letting your children learn right from wrong on their own but with a little push from their parents.  It's letting your child learn from experience. For instance, if it's raining outside and your child goes out to play without an umbrella, then they will get wet.  They'll learn that they need to get an umbrella next time they run outside.  That is a natural consequence.

    Today my daughter was about to tip over a lamp and I thought to myself, "hmm, the lamp could fall on top of her and sure, she would learn that if you pull on a lamp, it will fall.  But at 10 months, she is just not quite ready for natural consequences." I know, pretty funny, but you'd be amazed at how many parents think children at this age should, "know better." Seriously?

    So the second part to natural and logical consequences is the 'logical part', and that is making the punishment fit the crime.  Now, assuming you are already setting limits and communicating them to your child so they know what is acceptable or not, you give them a consequence that fits the limit.  You use the limit setting and choice giving that you are already very good at, and add the natural/logical limit.

    Here's a good example: Your child gets mad at their brother and throws the remote control across the room while watching their favorite show on TV.  You communicate the limit, and match the consequence as much as you can to the limit: "I can see you are mad at xyz, but remotes are NOT for throwing.  If you choose to throw that remote, then you chose to turn off the tv for the rest of the day."  So in this example, throwing the TV remote will cause them to not watch TV for the rest of the day.  See how they're related?

    Another example with younger children would be if you have set the limit of not standing up on the slide when on a playground.  If you set the limit again, you give a logical consequence: "I know how fun it would be to stand up on the slide, but slides are for sitting on. If you choose to stand up again, then you choose to not play on the slide for the rest of the day."

    You don't say," if you choose to stand up again on the slide, you choose not to play with your Wii when we get home", or "you don't get to watch your favorite TV show."  You match the consequence as closely as you can to the limit.

    It takes knowing what your child is capable of at each age and where they are developmentally.   A 5 year old is capable of knowing that if she throws a toy, it might break and then she won't have that toy anymore!  But a 1 year old is just not there yet.

    What is the point of Natural and Logical consequences you ask?

    -It helps your child learn to think for themselves

    -It teaches morals and right from wrong

    -It teaches them problem solving skills

    They will start thinking on their own that, "if I do this, then this will happen" and they will be little self-sufficient beings.  Don't we want our children to be able to survive in this world without us one day?  Hard for us to think about, but one day they will be on their own in this big bad world, and we want them to know what to expect and what the consequences are to their actions.  We will be happy moms when we know that our children have grown up to be independent and excellent problem solvers, even though they will always be our little babies :)

    Monday, April 4, 2011

    Frugal Mom

    Box o' couponsphoto © 2010 sdc2027 | more info (via: Wylio)

    Yesterday my microwave broke.  And so I thought I could survive life without a microwave, but after a few hours, not so much.  I desperately need a new microwave but since it is the wall-unit type, we are looking at over 200$.

    And as a stay at home mom, we are on a tight budget now.  I have been working hard at cutting coupons, searching the internet for the best deals and have become a, 'Frugal Mom.'  It takes a little more time and research to find ways to cut corners on costs.  As all of you know, having children is not cheap :)

    I have always been a frugal person, but still splurged here and there.  My friends used to make fun of me for shopping at Forever 21, but I told them, "hey, fashion changes so much on a monthly basis, that if you were to go and buy a 100$ shirt at Neiman Marcus, it would be out of style in a few months anyway!"  I said that you might as well buy the same knock-off shirt at Forever 21 for 20$ and then you can give it to Goodwill in a few months and not curse yourself for spending too much money on it.

    How do you become a Frugal Mom?  Well, for starters, I now try to purchase everything I can at Amazon Mom since the shipping is free and the products are usually 10% less than retail stores.  You can read about it on my post here.  If you haven't signed up yet, what are you waiting for? It's great if you are needing weekly items like diapers, wipes, formula, etc.

    Another way I've cut costs myself is breastfeeding and using cloth diapers.  Yes, call me crazy but I love using cloth diapers. When my child was born I could not believe how many diapers I was throwing away and did some research about how many landfills one baby can fill with used diapers and wipes.  Shocking!!  And having a front-load washer saves water, so we aren't wasting too much water or trash.  There are other benefits to cloth diapers too like non-cancer causing cotton, earlier potty training, etc. but I am digressing and may save that for another post.

    Also when it comes to cutting costs, I started making my own baby food in my baby cooker, the Beaba. It's a little pricey and luckily mine was a baby gift but it is completely worth the money as I have never had to buy baby food.  But you really don't have to buy one as it really just takes boiling water, throwing in some veggies or meats, then using your blender.  Then put your mixture into some ice cube trays freeze and then voila! Pop one out at a time, heat and serve.

    Here is a great website for making your own toddler and baby food.  Now my child is refusing anything pureed so it is taking more of an effort, but I feed her mostly what I would eat myself, so I am not buying too much extra food (avocados, mangos, bananas, black beans, cheese, etc.) Simple enough huh?

    And thank goodness for children's menus too. I am not there yet but I have been reading them each time I go out to eat so I can get an idea of what places charge, and so glad they have inexpensive items at most places. I may start going to the Kids Eat Free places too!  Here are a few sites that list places when and where kids can eat free:

    Coupon Divas

    Frugal Living

    For Dallas/Ft Worth people

    And then there is the task of saving money on groceries.  That's the tough one.  And if only they had more coupons for organic items instead of processed foods like Chef Boyardee and Tuna Helpers.  I'm trying to feed my family healthy here, not to send them to the Biggest Loser.

    Having to clip through coupons weekly is a job in of itself!  But I have come across some pretty cool blogs where women do it for me.  They search for the best deals and if you sign up for their emails, then you can get a summary right in your inbox.  I have my friend Heather to thank for giving me this list!  These blogs also give you great coupon deals for all kinds of things. For instance, I found a coupon that I used today at Lowe's for 10$ off your purchase of 50$ or more.  A great way to save money on my Spring planting!

    Here are the few good coupon blogs I've come across:

    Frugal Friend

    Coupon Divas

    Krazy Koupon Lady

    And how can we forget Target?  They have a list of coupons at the bottom of their website that are in addition to their weekly ads.  Just click on the word 'coupon' and you'll see tons of extras.

    The only downside to some of the coupon websites is that you have to still print them out.  If you're lucky enough, sometimes the store will scan them off of your cell phone so you don't have to waste money on printing them out and you can save a tree!

    If any of you have any other money saving tips or websites let us all know your secrets.