Friday, October 28, 2011

Mom Planner

So as I was reading my friend's blog Heather Bakes, the other day, I saw that she had ordered a pretty cool paper organizer by Erin Condren.  The Life Planner.  I have been trying super hard to go more electronic since I have a toddler and am always on the go with nothing else but my iPhone.  So it has been my go to calendar via the Cozi app.  But her organizer looked so cute and it comes personalized too. But as a stay at home mom, I couldn't reason with the cost of 50$.

Even though it has cute pages for calendars, baby feeding charts, folder pockets, etc.  And it has several cover patterns to choose from. Check it out:

But then my sister, the teacher, said she had read her blog and fell in love with it and ordered one.   So I re-thought it and decided to try my trusty Google coupon search for one and holy cow, I found an amazing deal online!  It's over at this online coupon site called Plum District. You basically get one for 17.50$ plus shipping!!  Too good a deal to pass up, so I thought I would let all of you know about it too. 50$ dollar organizer for 17.50, not bad at all!

But hurry, it ends in 1 day!!  Click here to order, but follow the instructions below when you get there:

Once you click on the link, it will take you to the website and then you get 5$ immediately once you sign up. So, simply for signing up you get a $5 gift card.

Then at the checkout enter the word
For an additional 10% off!

17.50$!!!  It will hopefully make your life as a mom more organized and sane!
Tuesday, October 25, 2011

iPhone Toy Review

I know, I have not been posting a whole lot lately.  My life as a mom has basically been pretty even keel except for my child's separation anxiety.  She has been over the top with it lately, and I think I have posted about that topic a little much so I don't have anything else to say about it- other than it's a phase, as long as we are consistent and let her know mommy is coming back (and confirm it when I do come back), and don't sneak out (that teaches them to be more anxious because all of a sudden, mom has disappeared!!).  Consistency and routines are best.

So, on another note, I will let you guys know about an awesome new toy invention that Fisher Price came up with for our butterfinger toddlers to play with our smartphones.  It's from their Laugh and Learn line and is called the Apptivity Case (order it here Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Apptivity Case).  And my friends over at Time to Play were nice enough to send one to me!!  So excited!

FINALLY! A case where your child can hit the 'home' button on your iPhone over and over again and NOTHING will happen. Yay!

See, I have the indestructible Otter Box case that I had to purchase when my child was 6 months old and wanting to drool all over it.  It basically makes it safe to drop and not shatter the screen and my child's drool won't cause any more water damage. It's a huge bulky case, but it does the trick, EXCEPT when she is learning her animal sounds on Peek a Boo Farm, she keeps hitting the home button and cries out in frustration when her game has ended.

So when this Apptivity case came along, promising to protect the home screen, I was super excited to try it out.  But first, you have to take your phone out of its existing case which is not that easy to do with my Otter Box.  So I decided the best thing to do is use this new Fisher Price case when you really want to entertain your child such as on a car trip, or at the grocery store during a melt down.  Because switching it back and forth between the two is kind of time consuming, sigh.

To start using the new case, you take your naked phone and make sure the app you want is open and running, then put it into its protective box.  Not that easy to do though, because you need a coin shape to twist open the compartment (which has a fun mirror on this side to entertain your child too).

But once you open it, just place it in the rubber holder, close it shut and then place the holder inside the case and lock it back in place.

Then you are ready to go!  Your child can maneuver through the apps and games as they usually do but can't push the home button!  And it has cute little handle bars with sliding toys on it to entertain them too.  Oh, and if the phone rings while it's in there, you can still answer it, but you have to use the speaker option.

Overall, it's a great invention, but ideally, the best invention ever would be to have an Otter Box case that you can turn off and on the home button. THEN it would solve all the problems in one and you would not have to keep switching out a case :)  Until then.....

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

66 days until Christmas and 63 until Hanukkah!

You better start making your lists and checking them twice, because the Holiday gift season is in about 2 months!  Yikes.

I know what you are thinking, it's not even Halloween yet, or Thanksgiving, but as you know, having kids means planning way well in advance for these things.

So what do you buy your child and relatives this season?  It seems that every year there is a different trend, for each age too. Last year Harry Potter toys and Zhu Zhu pets were all the rage, this year?

Do any of you have any ideas or big plans on toy buying this season? Any tips on when to buy them or where to go?  I am going to be posting some toy ideas for the upcoming toy buying season, but wanted to get a few ideas from you readers first!

In the meantime, a great place to start is the company I was introduced to a few weeks ago called Time to Play Mag.  They have a great feature on their site called Toy Advisor where you can enter the age of the child and gender and it will recommend toys for you, click here to try it out.

Also, in case buying toys is not the only part of holiday gift giving, there are lots of charities out there that would be a great idea to donate to and show your child what the gift of giving really means.  You can find many non-profits and even donate online through the United Way.

Or, if you haven't done it already, you can open up a 529 Education Savings plan and have your family give your child a gift towards their future education instead of toys.

So, with the holiday season fast approaching, let us know what your plans are and any great suggestions for our readers out there!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Just being Silly

As a play therapist, I was always taught to 'match my tone of voice' to the child during our play sessions.

What does that exactly mean?

Basically that if the child is jumping up and down, acting all excited, that we should make our voices sound all excited as well.  (And on the flip side, if a child is looking sullen and sad, to speak in a soft, low voice).  Sounds like common sense huh?  Sometimes it is easier said than done, and it actually took more practice for me while in school to really get down on the child's level.  Sometimes I thought I was sounding all excited and silly, and when I replayed my videotaped session, I sounded like Ferris Bueller's Teacher! Bueller, Bueller....

But after a few practice rounds in grad school, I really got 'it'.   I have seen over the years how much children love not just me getting excited but also being goofy.  It can bring the tears to a smile in seconds.

And now I've realized since I have 'it', maybe I have it too much.   I call it, " just being silly."  And NO, I am not talking about the silliness that those crazy, overly excited adults that work at Little Gym (no offense, great place but kind of cheesy sometimes).

A few times while I have been using this skill with my daughter in public, I've noticed I've gotten a few strange looks from people around me, including my husband! And it's not the times when I am being empathic with her tears, it's more of the times I am being all excited with her.

I forget that my 'language' in talking to children isn't always the norm.   It's just getting down on the child's level and especially at the toddler age, being even more goofy.

For instance, when my little girl is getting her diaper changed and starts whining, I start singing a made up silly song, "you're getting your diaper changed, and it's lots of fun, now mommy is putting a new diaper on....." and her tears turn to giggles.  Yep, sounds crazy but it works!!

And in public, I talk to my barely verbal daughter in the grocery store as she gets antsy and tell her to look at all the bright tomatoes in my chipper voice.  Yeah, I get a few looks, but it calms her down and brings a smile on her face :)

Our children are going to be young for such a short amount of time, that I love to embrace their youth and be as silly as I can. I don't want to look back and remember me just being a frustrated parent during tantrums, meltdowns or the parent that just said 'no' all the time.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Hands are not for Hitting

I thought my little girl was past the swatting stage, sigh....  Yesterday at a play date, one of her friends took a toy from her and what did she do to get it back? Swatted at her friend's head.  Nice.

It is a long road in teaching our toddlers right from wrong.  Well, let's just say it will be an ongoing lesson throughout their lives, but it starts now.  Realizing how much we have a responsibility to teach our children makes it challenging but at the same it is fun to watch them learn how their environment works.

So starting with the basics, I realized I needed to work harder at teaching my child about not hitting people (or biting for that matter).  I remembered a book I used to use with children at my old job as a domestic violence counselor.  It was called, Hands Are Not For Hitting by Martine Agassi.

I was so excited to find it in my old files and even more excited that it was the board book version!  Perfect for my still destructive toddler.

Click here to order: Hands Are Not for Hitting (Board Book) (Best Behavior Series)

It is such a cute book, with lots of bright colors that my daughter loves to look at and point out all the animals.

It starts out by showing what kinds of things hands can do, like wave, shake hands, give a 'high five' and coloring.

It then goes on to show you how hands can hurt others like hitting, shoving, etc and that hands are 'not for hitting!'  That hands are for helping, making music and giving hugs, etc.  It also is great way for parents to talk different ways to handle feeling mad like using words, or hitting a pillow instead.

The last few pages of the book are suggestions written by the author as she gives tips for parents on how to handle situations and how to open the book up for discussion with older children when talking about bullies, and what to do when a friend tries to hurt them.

I know my child is learning a lot from reading this, although it will be a slow learning process.  We are also practicing on her dolls and me repeatedly telling her "I know you don't like.... (or I know you are mad because of....) but hands are not for hitting!" :)
Thursday, October 6, 2011

Time to Play

Toys, toys toys!  As a play therapist, I have been talking, talking and talking about the benefits of play- how children learn through play, communicate through play and basically how their daily lives revolve around play.

So when I was invited to a blogger luncheon by Time To Play at the Dallas World Trade Center on Tuesday, I was super excited! AND....they even told us we did not have to blog about the site or the event if we didn't want to- they just wanted us to learn about their site and enjoy our time there- but of course I was super impressed and just had to spread the word to all the parents out there (and aunts/uncles and grandparents too).

What is Time to Play?  It's a website (click here) about everything toys (including children's books and video games too). Kind of like the Kelly Blue Book for toys.

What does the website offer?

-The Top 'Most Wanted' Toy List for this 2011 Holiday Season

-The Toy Advisor: A cool feature where you enter info about the kind of toy you are looking for, age of child, gender and your price range and it gives you a list of ideas!

-Daily Toy Giveaways

-Your own personal Wishlist for your children

-Movie and video game Reviews

-And the best one of all, Toy Reviews!

Yep, the Toy Reviews they have are real, honest reviews from the staff at Time to Play.  Have you ever noticed on Amazon and Toys R Us websites that the reviews seem scripted?  That's because most of the time they are marketers that work for the toy company writing the reviews.  They try to make it sound real, but not so much.

When you click on a toy on the timetoplaymag website, it gives you a video demonstration of how it works, a description, what age it is recommended for, why it's fun and what to be aware of like that it needs 10 batteries that will need to be replaced constantly.  There is also a place where you as a reader can write your own comments about the toys.

Here is an example:


AND, one other review feature they have on their site is a Parent Review section.  Yep, real parents write their own reviews of a toy and are placed in this section here.

See what they're getting at? They are trying to give us parents as much honest feedback as possible, so as a consumer, we are armed with good information in this super overwhelming world of toys!

And I walked away after the luncheon with a sweet goody bag that my daughter was all smiles about diving into when I got home.  They gave us some of their hottest toys- the ones that are really trending right now.  (As soon as my child saw the toys she wanted them out of the packaging asap, so excuse the poor photos).  Check out the goods:

Bert and Ernie action dolls, my daughter LOVES these


My Little Pony

A cool trivia type board game about Name Brands

A Monster High Doll (apparently this Goth barbie is all the rage)A Fyr Fly light up spinning toy (my husband was all excited about this one:)


Thanks again Time to Play and I can't wait to start using your site for reviews and tips about toys!