Tuesday, January 20, 2015

How to Keep from Going Stir Crazy with a Toddler

(While I'm away, I didn't want there to too be too much silence over here! So, enjoy this post from my sweet, blogger friend Chandelle!) 

Hello there! I'm Chandelle...Stay at home mommy and blogger over at Midwest Mama!

I'm so excited to be entertaining all of Nicole's readers today! Praying for you sweet friend as you head to Haiti and even swing by Minnesota!

As you may have guessed, I'm a stay at home mommy to our sweet little boy, Christian James living life in Minnesota! Not sure if I can even be considered a first time mom still now that Christian is over 18 months old... nearly 20 months old, actually!!! Seriously, where does the time go!?

 Just over 2 1/2 years ago I was married to the good looking guy in the picture below {the adult, not the small child ;)}...then nine months later (well really more like 10 months...)...voila! Along came Christian! We actually found out we were pregnant on our 4 week anniversary of being married. We have quite the story, though. You should check it out now by clicking {here}. You won't want to miss the video of our proposal, either!

In case you missed it...I'm living in Minnesota! Can you say Brrrr????

Not only that but I think I often feel like I'm going crazy as I'm cooped up in my house day after day just trying to stay warm...AND keep a very active toddler entertained. Well, actually, let's be honest, it's more work keeping mommy entertained than my toddler some days. Christian is easily entertained. 

4 Tips to Keep from Going Stir Crazy with a Toddler 

1. Get out of the house 
Visit the library 
Go to the zoo
Walk the mall and play at the mall play area
Play at the Children's Museum 
Go for a walk 
Play at the park (even with snow!)
Play outside
Visit a pet store and look at the animals 
Walk around a toy store 
Go to a Moms Group 
Attend a music class 
Attend classes at the library 
Join an ECFE class 

2. Plan one structured activity every day that you will be cooped up at home 
Fridays are our "Free Play Days". On these days, I try not to plan anything and we just play. We often stay in our jammies all day and we just play whatever Christian wants to play. I can do this one day a week, but not 5! So on the other days of the week I try to structure our days and build in activities. 

This is a sample weekly schedule at our house. 
To see what a full day in my life looks like, click {here}

Monday - Music Day -- we use our rhythm instruments and other toy instruments to play along with music and dance the morning away
Tuesday - Moms Group Play Date at our house -- we play and hang out with other mom friends and their kids and end the morning with lunch before nap time
Wednesday - Snow Flake Painting -- we will be doing this but with painters tape on regular paper instead of a canvas 
Thursday -  Felt Snowman 
Friday - Free Play Fun Day! 

During each season 
{Fall, Christmas, Winter/Snow/Valentine's Day, Spring, All About Me, Colors, etc}
we visit the library and check out a bunch of books on a focus topic. Then I plan the activities for that month around the focus topic. 

:::Some of my favorite ways to entertain a toddler:::

Allow your toddler to help with daily household chores. 
At 18 months old, Christian was able to put the pillows on the bed, wash windows and mirrors, "Sweep" the floors, "mop" the floors, help with dishes, vacuum, wash the table and counters, dust, and help cut foods in preparation for meals {with a dull knife of course}.

At this young age, he of course doesn't perform these chores fully or perfectly, but he is involved and happy and safe and out of trouble. He LOVES being mommy's little helper. 

Shake the dice game. 
I will give Christian a dice cup full of dice and let him shake it and then dump the dice out. We will practice counting the dice as we put them in the cup after each shake. 

Masking Tape Car Roads
I just made simple roads and went up over furniture for added "adventures" but you could add parking spaces and included more toys {barn, doll house, a zoo, etc} to allow your toddler's imagination to really flow!

Play Games
One of Christian's favorite games is Connect 4. This is a great fine motor activity and also creates some problem solving for your toddler as they try to figure out how to get the chips back out. 

Color Sorting Activity
Give your toddler square pieces of various colored papers and a handful of fruit loops and let them snack and sort the colors. You will probably need to help them a lot but its a great opportunity to talk about color words. You can also go on a scavenger hunt around your house to find "all the red things" or "all the blue things, etc" 

Color in a Box
Save a big box and let your child get in it and just color! You can even create a fort or a car or an object to use in pretend play. This will keep your little one entertained for a while!

Create an Obstacle Course with Pillows 
Christian LOVES to just run on the pillows! You can just put them in a straight row or weave them around  or make an actual obstacle course. Fun and great for gross motor skills as your little one has to practice balancing on a squishy surface

Sensory Bins
Buy a cheap plastic bin (one with a lid is great for being able to store the sensory items). Fill it up and let your little one explore! Christian loves to scoop with measuring cups and to also use some of his pool water toys sometimes. You can also add various items to the bins to go along with your themes (Mr. Potato Head pieces - talk about body parts, toys of a certain color -- red, etc, Farm animals, etc) 
**Please note: Depending on the age of your toddler, some of these sensory items can become choking hazards -- However, once Christian started trying to eat the dried beans, I gave him some black beans for lunch (which he usually won't eat) and he gobbled them up!
Sensory Items Ideas: 
Cotton Balls
Cooked spaghetti
Ice cubes
Dry noodles 
Popcorn kernels

Be sure to follow me on Pinterest and check out my theme boards for more activity ideas. 

3. Have other moms and kids over for play dates
Building adult conversation into our days is really helpful to me in enjoying my time with Christian and allowing myself to be fully present with him when we are playing. Creating these real connections help me to disconnect from social media. Plus, Christian loves getting time with friends and its good for him to learn to play well with others and share his toys. Added bonus: he usually takes a really great nap after an active play date! 

4. Build in time for Mom too! 
Whether your toddler is still napping or is just having some alone time in their room for quiet time each day, be sure to use that time to refresh yourself! Maybe that means relaxing while you watch some tv or read a book or some blogs. Maybe it even means napping yourself! Make sure you do whatever you need to do so that you can be interested and ready to be present and enjoy your toddler when they are awake and at the ready! 

How do you keep from going stir crazy with a toddler? What are your favorite activities to keep your little one entertained? 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Davy's Story

I'm so thankful to have Davy here on the blog today to share her story. I've appreciated reading her blog and getting an honest perspective on the journey through infertility. I hope that you too can listening to her story (maybe some of you relate) and learn about some practical ways to support other families who are in the same place.

Hello, Nicole Joelle readers! My name is Davy, and I am happy to be sharing with you today. Nicole and I go way back in real life, all the way to high school youth group. While our lives have only intersected occasionally since then, we have kept track of each other through blogging.

Nicole asked me to share about my journey through infertility and beyond, so here goes.

Two months before he started law school, my husband and I married and moved across the country. Kids did not exactly fit into the one-income, law school life phase, so we decided to wait for a while. Once law school ended and we moved back near family, the natural next step was to start a family. We said we would have three biological kids, then adopt. I said we would adopt four; my husband wasn’t convinced about the large number, but we didn’t have to decide yet. After all, the biological kids would be coming along first. Any day now.

A year later, I mentioned our trouble conceiving to a doctor. She said it was still early, but we could try one of the “least expensive” tests just in case. Seven hundred dollars later, we had the results of one test that showed nothing wrong. If that was “least expensive,” we were definitely not ready to try anything else.

Add another year, MANY negative pregnancy tests, innumerable tears, and another move. Google told me that trouble conceiving could be caused by stress, moving, caffeine, and many more typical aspects of our lives. So, we tried cutting those things out. Have you ever tried to become less stressed? It’s stressful, right? Time for more tests. More hundreds of dollars, and still all of the tests returned “normal.” Then, my husband received a job offer across the country, so we moved again.

Now, we were serious about this infertility thing. I was going to get healthy and relax, even go without a job for a while. I started working out and making healthy food. Getting a lot of sleep and continuing to avoid coffee. We found a new doctor, did more tests, and tried medication. Thousands of dollars and many emotional scars later, everything was still “normal.” Our next option was exploratory surgery, just to see if anything was wrong on the inside. And, we could start repeating tests again. We opted out. I absolutely hate medical stuff. Needles? No thank you. Doctors up in my business? Please, no. Invasive procedures? NOOOOO! We were emotionally and physically done with this infertility stuff. The day I would have had to schedule the next procedure, my husband came to me and said, “Let’s adopt instead.” What a relief! Adoption had always been on our hearts, but now it looked like the best and only option.

Nothing about this process has been easy. We know that adoption is not easy, either. Right now, we are pursuing adoption through the foster care system. Our prayer of “Lord, please give us a baby” has changed to “Lord, please place whomever you want into our family however you please.” We are trying to fasten our seatbelts for the ride.

Nicole asked me to share how to encourage someone dealing with infertility. Here are a few thoughts:
  • Acknowledge her struggle - If you have pregnancy news, share it gently, acknowledging that it may cause her pain.
  • Be thoughtful - Complain about your pregnancy symptoms to a different friend.
  • Include her - If you are having a baby shower, play date, or kid’s birthday party, invite her. Even better, ask her if she wants to be invited to those types of events. People handle infertility differently. Many of us seclude ourselves. Others need to be with children. In my experience, it was better to be invited with the option to decline than to be thoughtfully left out.
  • Ask questions, offer prayers, give hugs, and provide distractions - Be a friend. Infertility is only one type of struggle. My husband and I have been most encouraged by those friends and family members who are willing to roll up their sleeves and come alongside us in our struggle.

This page is specifically about helping a friend through infertility. If you have any questions or want to learn more, please reach out to me through my blog, Davy Jolene.

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Friday, January 16, 2015

Birthday Sale: 3 for the price of 1 (And Starbucks!)

About a year ago, I clicked "open shop" and had no idea what I was doing and where this shop would go. A year later, I find myself more passionate, more excited, and dreaming much bigger for my little shop.

I want to celebrate with you by offering 3 prints for the price of one :)

All you need to do is put the 3 printables you'd like in your digital cart and use this code when you checkout:

** To sweeten the deal, if you order today or tomorrow (January 16th and January 17th) you will be entered to win a $15 gift card for Starbucks :) **

ps. this Birthday deal ends at midnight on Saturday :)

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