Monday, September 30, 2013

Growing Independence


We are finally crossing into territory where Ayden does things for a purpose rather than for pure curiosity or exploration. In other words, he is beginning to gain his independence. If he spills something, he'll get a towel and wipe it up (or kind of smear it around but at least he tries). He's learned how to use my old 1st generation iPod Nano and listens to music on his own a lot. When I told him that Polly (our cat) licks herself to take a bath he went running into the bathroom, turned on the water in the bathtub and tried to climb in clothes and all. 

Starting to *try* to take care of himself.
After bath time, he was still nakey and reading books next to his potty while I was getting myself ready. All of the sudden, he sat on the potty and after just a couple of seconds he hopped up and yelled, "I poo poo!" I figured he had just peed since he has never gone #2 in the potty but low and behold he had!


He was so proud and I was too!! All of our potty books seem to be helping.  He has been so fascinated with them.  I guess he has been taking notes...

We ended our evening at my nephew's soccer game (he is 3) and dinner with my folks. Ayden was so excited at the game and I had a hard time keeping him off the field. 


Luckily the coach had an extra soccer ball so we were able to have our own game on the sidelines.


It was a big day for our little man.  He asked about Daddy a few times and got to talk to him on speaker phone before we drove home from dinner.  He told him about the crickets we found in the driveway today, his potty adventure and said I love you in the sweetest, quietest voice.  He fell asleep on the way home and didn't even wake up when I brought him in to lay him down in bed. I have a lot planned around the house tomorrow. Hopefully I can make it a productive day since today was focused more on fun! 

Isn't it interesting that when you sit down and think about your to do's they seem so doable and important but when it comes down to it, playing, cuddling and having dance parties almost always win out?  When we look back on this season of our lives, we will never wish we had done more dishes or folded more clothes.  Making the to do list makes me feel good.  If I cross stuff off tomorrow, great.  If we play all day again, that will be even better!  We will see what Ayden is up for.

~Sarah

Flashback!  Here's what we were up to one year ago today: "Fairy Princess Party"

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Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Little Things

David was Super Dad today!


It was our niece's 2nd birthday party day and I had a lot to do. Shower, get ready, a tiny finishing touch on her cupcake color match game and make some icing for the cupcakes we baked yesterday. David was on full Ayden duty and left me to do my thing. The party started at 2 so David dropped me off at noon and got Ayden down for his nap early so he'd be rested for an afternoon of fun.




Some people would say he was just "doing his job" but that doesn't make me any less grateful to him. Unfortunately, there are husbands and fathers out there who wouldn't help out so much so I am so thankful to David every day for all of the help and support that he gives me, our family and our household. 

David leaves for a work trip for a couple of nights in the morning and we are going to miss him so much!  It will be tough for me to go from having his help all day to him not being here at all.   We had a great time at the party and Ayden was tuckered out by bedtime!  Now I'm going to get some hubby snuggles in before he has to leave us. 

Think of 3 awesome things your sweetie did for you today and list them below! It is easy to overlook the little things if we don't take a momet every now and then to focus on the positive. 

~Sarah

Flashback!  Here's what we were up to one year ago today: "Oh A Hiking We Will Go"


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Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Best Research

One of our favorite parts of being parents is to see the world through Ayden's eyes. Oh to be amused by the little things in life again...







And after a big day of researching salamanders, big shoe manuvering, "helping" Daddy spray weeds and making cupcakes with Mommy we had a tired boy on our hands. 


As much as we love watching him play, we also love watching him sleep. The angelic stillness and complete and utter peace give us a moment to truly take in his sweetness.

What kind of adventures did your kiddos take you on today? Do you love watching your baby sleep?

~Sarah

Flashback!  Here's what we were up to one year ago today: "Mr. Social"


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Friday, September 27, 2013

Compromising

When Ayden woke from his nap today he was in a cuddly mood. Since he took a late nap, I was needing to get dinner started but he did not want me to put him down. We don't babywear as much as we used to but I needed to multi task so I put Ayden in the Ergo hip hold and got dinner started.


He snuggled in and asked, "wasat?" for all of the ingredients. It was a fun change from his learning tower because he was seeing everything from my perspective. When he was finally ready to get down and play a little he pulled me over to the closet where I keep his sensory bin. He asked for his "sice" (aka rice) and I braced myself. EVERY other time that he has asked to get his rice down, when we weren't able to, ended in an epic tantrum. I calmly said, "We can get the rice down after dinner, okay?  First dinner, then rice."  Then I waited for it. Only... it never happened. He sat there and thought about it for a minute then calmly asked for it again. This is what we have been waiting for. For Ayden to be able to keep his cool when he gets an answer he doesn't like so we can introduce compromises. I definitely wanted to reward his not throwing a fit so I said, "Ayden can play with the rice while Mommy cooks." Hoping that his vision for the activity did not have to involve me. He again took a minute to think about it, said, "Ses." (aka yes) and headed for the porch. I can see our side porch from the kitchen so we left the door open and he hung out out there with Mav while he quietly played with his rice and I finished dinner. 


After a few minutes he came running inside and held my leg. When I asked what happened, without skipping a beat he said, "Ha-pay" (aka airplane). 

We are crossing into some new and amazing territory. We are having simple conversations and are able to find some middle ground between his wants and ours. When he would go straight to tantrum mode, we had no choice but to follow through and leave our answer as no. Now that he is learning to keep his cool and asking nicely we are more than happy to meet him half way (within reason, of course). I just feel like this is a huge milestone and am so proud of Ayden for seeing a little bit of the bigger picture. 

Whenever David and I have discussed parenting teenagers, we always talked about how we don't want to be super strict parents. As long as our children are responsible, don't do anything to lose our trust and are respectful we want to be willing to hear them out and set expectations, curfews, and such according to what it is they are doing, who they will be with, etc. It seems as though those lines of communication are beginning to open up a little sooner than we thought. We are by no means out of the toddler woods but we can see that he is learning some wonderful things along the way!

~Sarah

Flashback!  Here is what we were up to one year ago today: "While They Are Sleeping"

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Celebrate

Our last stop on our errand day today was the pet store!  Ayden got to touch his favorite bird as well as a couple of lizards, a super tiny kitten and a rabbit. He really wanted me to get the toads out but they have a tendency to get away and I wasn't up for chasing them around the store today. 

Ayden's favorite bird

Mommy's favorite bird


Since I used to work at this particular pet store and am still close with the owners. They let me get out whatever I want without having to bother any of the employees. 

When we got home, Ayden was really excited to see that the riding mower had been returned from getting repaired. He likes to pretend to drive it like Daddy. 


I was tired after a long day of errands and as I was carrying the groceries in from the car I thought to myself, "I wish we could just go out to dinner tonight."  Not but 10 minutes later, David called and said, "Have you started dinner yet?  Are you up for going out to eat to celebrate?"  I knew he was having his annual review at work and took that as a sign that it went really well!  I told him that I was *just* wishing for dinner out so of course I'd be up for that!!

Walking downtown after dinner

I am so proud of all of David's hard work he puts in to support us. Thanks to him, I am getting to fulfill my dream of staying home with our kids and we are getting closer to our farm life dreams one day at a time.

Do you have anything to celebrate today?  Big or small, good things are worth celebrating!!

~Sarah

Flashback!  Here's what we were up to one year ago today: "We All Need Support"



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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Expectations


I saw this quote floating around on Instagram today and it got me thinking...  Before Ayden was born and in his early days, I found myself wanting him to fit into some sort of pre-determined mold. My top three concerns going into parenthood were that:

1) I might have a fussy baby
2) My baby may not be a good sleeper
3) having a baby would take away from the bond that David and I have shared for all of these years.

It has been easier than we ever thought it would be to maintain our relationship but the other two came true right out of the gate (self-fulfilling prophecies?).

Since Ayden's arrival, he has taught me so many things. He has taught me that as much as I plan and educate myself, in the end there are just some things that I cannot know or prepare for. He has taught me that some big fears can come true and that I can endure, live through and grow from experienceing them. He has also taught me that there is something so much bigger and more important in this world than to put my children into some kind idealistic mold. Ayden is... Ayden. He is happy and excited about life. He experiences all emotions very intensely (like his father). When he is happy, everyone knows it. When he is not so happy, everyone knows it and he has been that way from day one. Being there for him and letting him be himself quickly became more important than even my biggest concerns.

All I can say is that back when I was trying to "train" him to be something he was clearly not, we all felt the stress that it added to our household. He has been his own person from day one. We can shape and mold behaviors all we want. Those are supervilous and all it takes is patience, consistency and finding a form of discipline to which he responds well. What we can't shape is who he is at his core.  And why should we want to?  He is a spirited child and the world is most definitely a more exciting and wonderful place with him in it, just the way he is.

I can only hope that I can go into having our next child with a mind set of, "I can't wait to see what he/she is like," while having the comfort and confidence to let him/her lead the way in those early days. Some children are able to go with the flow enough to happily fit into any mold you may like for them to. Some children are not. It is as simple as that. If you end up with a child who doesn't, parenting them will take a little more out of you and will show you limits you never knew you had but the reward is tenfold. With time, all babies grow up and gain independence. Even the higher maintenance ones. There is no stopping it. All you can do is wake up everyday knowing that it is a new day and a new opportunity for your child to grow and change and learn something new. There will be a day when they will meet your expectations. Some children just need a little more time than others and that is okay. Nobody ever said they had to meet them from day one.

Have you had any "low" expectations or self fulfilling profecies along your parenting journey?  

Sometimes I wonder if my worrying too much and trying too hard with Ayden's sleeping actually caused some of the issues that we still have today.  Perhaps he would have ended up a better sleeper if I just let him lead the way?  Shoulda, woulda, coulda!  I find it hard to hold high expectations for fear of disappointment yet don't want to not have expectations at all. As with everything else, it is a delicate balance I suppose...

~Sarah

Flashback!  Here's what we were up to one year ago today: "Dance, Dance, Dance!"


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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

5 Happy Things: Heart Melting Cuteness

1) Ayden's 2 new words today were mine and yes. Most folks see a toddler learning "Mine" as a negative. I see it as him coming into his own and taking ownership in his life. This is not a bad thing, we just have to guide him to learn just how much he really can "own." 

2) He is a happy boy when he has his very own equipment so he can do exactly what we are doing. 



Then he went out and detailed his car.  Haha!
3) He sits and "reads" out loud to himself several times a day now and we love it SOO much!


4) We went to a play date today and it was a lot of fun. 


5) I went in to get Ayden when he woke up from his nap. He said, "Hi mama" kissed me on the cheek "Mmm-MA!", snuggled in and went back to sleep. 


This boy melts our hearts everyday and it is the most amazing thing we have ever experienced. I just love spending my days with him. Sometimes it is hard to wrap my head around the fact that he will continue to melt our hearts for the rest of our lives...  Wow. 

Share 5 happy things about your little one in the comments below!  We can celebrate our amazing kids together. 

~Sarah

Flashback!  Here's what we were up to one year ago today: "Feeling Girly"


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Monday, September 23, 2013

Meetings and Deadlines

If you follow me on Pinterest then you know that I like the idea of DIY, repurposing and upcycling projects. I really love being crafty and creative but finding time is my biggest obstacle. Lately, we've had a schedule change that has given me a little more structure to my days. I think a pretty common stay at home mom struggle is a lack of structure. Without any real deadlines, start/stop times, meetings, managers or consequences, it can be a real challenge to stay productive and not get stuck in an endless loop of chores with no extra projects worked into your weeks. Here's a run down of what my new days look like:

Now that we have started Focus T25, David and I work out together around 6 am while Ayden is still sleeping. Ayden has been waking between 7:00 and 7:30 so the time between our workout and when he wakes up is when I plan spend some time on the computer. I have always set aside about an hour a day where I am completely focused on playing with Ayden and the rest of his awake time he is either playing independently or "helping" me do whatever I need to do around the house or we are running errands.  His nap time is now free time for me. I either get something done that was impossible to do while he was awake, have some more computer time or I just simply veg. Whatever I am in the mood for. We'll call it my "lunch break."

Today, I spray painted some stuff!
Then after dinner, if I have something I need to work on, David and Ayden will have alone time while I take an hour or so to work on anything crafty that I have going on.


Sometimes I can't help but take pictures of the cuteness!
We have some family play time just before we get Ayden ready for bed.


Tonight, Ayden read to us for once, haha!


David does the dishes while I put Aden to bed/write my blog posts. Monday nights are our at home date nights and all the other nights, David and I will work on individual projects in our office. We are still together but doing our own things. We go to bed together at 10 and do it all again the next day. It took a couple of weeks for us to work out the logistics of it all but with all of the birthdays and holidays we have coming up, it is important for me to get some craft time in. When we start our homemade Christmas, we will spend the time at night working on gifts together which was really fun last year. 

A month or two ago, I made a personal goal of being more of a forward thinker and it is one goal that I have taken seriously. If you truly want something you make it happen, right? Since I intend on hand making gifts, decorations, etc. for upcoming events, holidays and occasions, it was important to me to start making them ahead of time. Pulling all nighters before a birthday party or other special occasion takes a lot of fun out of not only the party (since you are so tired), but out of the whole giving of yourself process as well. It is hard to remember to make something with love when it is making you tired and cranky. 

My nieces birthday party is coming up this Sunday, October brings birthdays for my sister, my dad and one of my nephews, along with Halloween of course. My mom's birthday is in November, then it's homemade Christmas time and Ayden's birthday in late January. Shew!  It all sounds exhausting but I am looking forward to it. I really do love making gifts for people and with Pinterest at my disposal there is no lack of ideas!

In an effort to help my new, forward thinking self, I purchased supplies for my nieces birthday present a month in advance and told David that I was going to need his help finding the time to get it done. With his help and support I am proud to say that her gift is done almost a week ahead of time. This means I have time for extra finishing touches. The icing on the cake I suppose! 

My natural tendencies are to be a bit lazy, let other people do things for me and to live so much in the moment that an entire day will pass without my realizing it. I am still that gal sometimes but being that way all the time does not leave me feeling fulfilled at the end of my days. I feel my best when I exercise, am productive and look at a clock at least a few times throughout the day (with some lazy, stop-and-smell-the-roses days sprinkled in). Our new schedule is really giving me a little extra structure that I am needing at the moment. I'm sure once we get through the holidays, I'll be ready for a break from it but for now, it's just what I need!

When do you feel at your best?  Are you naturally that way or do you have to work at it?

~Sarah

Flashback!  Here's what we were up to one year ago today: "Into The Woods"



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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Five Helpful Toddler Terms

In our house, the first line of defense towards toddler tantruming is prevention. Over time, we have observed Ayden's behaviors and have been able to pinpoint certain tantrum triggers. Once we find a trigger, we et together and plan a way to avoid them. This is usually done by teaching Ayden a phrase that will warn him of an upcoming trigger so that he doesn't misunderstand our intentions. For example, say we need to put a new shirt on him and he is holding a toy. If we take the toy with full intentions of giving it back once his shirt is on, he thinks we are just taking it, throws a fit about it and then we can't give it back because we don't want him to think his fit was the reason we did. Then it really escalates from there. This brings us to the first helpful concept/phrase that we taught Ayden.


1) "Switch hands" - he'll he holding a toy in one hand, we put the other hand through his sleeve then say, "Switch hands."  He does and we are able to get his second hand through without ever taking the toy, thus avoiding his thinking we are stealing his prized possession. 

2) "First _____, then _____." - This one took the longest for him to understand because it is a tricky concept for a toddler who is egocentric and lives in the moment. It was inspired by the first speech and language pathologist I worked with while I was a teacher. I had a student with autism who had difficulty transitioning from one part of our day to the next. She made a simple "if, then" picture board for him and before each activity we would use it to show it to him to help him prepare for an upcoming transition. We don't use pictures with Ayden but we do use the first/then concept with him very often. If he is wanting to go onside while we are cooking dinner we say, "first eat, then outside."  If he is wanting to read a book before he's gotten ready for bed we'll say, "First brush teeth, then book."  We keep the phrases very short, simple and direct and after a few days it really began to help him understand and be more patient. 

3) "Or I'll take it..." - This one has been amazing! When he is climbing on his table and chair set so he can reach the kitchen island we'll say, "Ayden, the chair is for sitting. If you climb on the chair again I'm going to take it."  If he is pouring water out of the bathtub we'll warn,"If you spill the water out, I'm going to take it."  Sometimes he does it anyway and we then we consistently follow through. There are instances where this doesn't phase him much but other instances where he dislikes it very much and cries to have the item back. We say, "I know you really like playing with the [insert item], but you [insert undesired behavior]ed with it so I had to take it."  We do not return it at that time, let him cry until he is ready to move on and 9 times out of 10, he believes us the next time we give him this warning.

4) "Tell me what you want" (can also say, "Use your words") - There are plenty of times when Ayden requests something and we misunderstand what he wants. Sometimes he has patience with us and we eventually figure it all out without him melting down. There are also times when we offer him something thinking it was what he was asking for and he immediately begins to wail as if his world is crumbling down around him. This is when we get down on his level and gently say, "Ayden, tell me what you want." After a few moments he will usually regroup and try to request the item again and we eventually figure it out. These kinds of tantrums are different in my opinion because they are purely frustration.  He understands SO MUCH and is developing new words all the time but that doesn't mean he can fully communicate easily. He asked for one thing and was offered another. He spoke and was not understood. We do not give him whatever he is wanting until he is calm and has asked for it nicely, but we do not just walk away to let him cry this kind of fit out. We want him to know that we want to listen and more importantly, that we want to understand. And this brings us to our last helpful concept for Ayden.. 

5) "Ask nicely" - A lot of times Ayden will just say the name of what he wants over and over or he will yell and kind of demand that we give him something. Again, toddlers are very egocentric. He has no idea that rudely asking for something can offend someone or hurt their feelings. He is just beginning to understand that his actions can have an effect on those around him. When he gets caught up in his own desires and demands that they be met, we just say, "Ask nicely, please." and when he does, we give it to him (within reason, of course). We also make sure that we ask him nicely for or to do things in hopes to provide a model for him to follow. The only time this one gets us into trouble is when he wants something he can't have and, all on his own, kindly asks, "Teeeese?" In the sweetest voice ever. It is so hard not to give in when he coats his request in so much sugar. 


There may be a few more helpful concepts/phrases that we use to make toddler land run a bit smoother but this gives a good idea of how we prevent *some* of his meltdowns. We would love to hear about ways you prevent toddler meltdowns before they happen. We have truly found prevention to be our best defense against them and would love more tools for our toolbox!

~Sarah

Flashback!  Here's what we were up to one year ago today: "Play Date"

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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Little Nugget

We spent the day hanging out with some our great friends Jess and Adam and finally got to meet this sweet little nugget:



Ayden came over to look at her a couple of times and was even asking where she was by name at the end of the day; but he was still his busy little self and didn't spend too much time staring at her cuteness like we did.  We took some newborn and family photos for them earlier in the day, watched a movie and just hung out for the rest if the time. It was perfect!  


We are so happy for Jess, Adam and Baby P and can't wait to see them evolve as a little family. We are spending the night at their house tonight and will head home in the morning. Now we have another little person in our lives to love and watch grow. Such a blessing. 

~Sarah

Flashback!  Here's what we were up to one year ago today: "8 Months Old!!"


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Friday, September 20, 2013

Horse Country

As if our boy didn't love horses enough, we took him to a horse jumping competition tonight. 



He was mesmerized!

(Ayden's first selfie)

It was some amazing stuff to see up close. All this time in horse country and we had only really seen the racing side of things. This was a fun new side of the horse industry to experience. Our favorite part was how each horse has their own jumping style. Some stretched their legs out, others curled them under, others had a little kick at the top. There was one that moved with so much ease that it was almost silent and another that was powerful and snorted, huffed and puffed the whole way through.

We left straight from the competition to head to Nashville to meet the newest little lady in our lives.  We can't wait to meet her in the morning and to visit with our friends!!

~Sarah

Flashback!  Here's what we were up to one year ago today: "Fall Fashion"

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

New Wheels!

Ayden is almost 2 going on 16...  David's parents bought him his first set of wheels!!


We spent the morning on Tuesday putting it all together. Ayden had his tools and I got mine and it took us a little under an hour. I thought it would be as easy as clicking a few parts into place but I suppose if a toddler were to enter a Fred Flinstone drag race, he would require a few bolts for safety. Haha!








It was such a beautiful morning to be outside and Ayden was a great little assistant. We have always tried to involve him in whatever we are doing but we have kicked it up a notch by giving him more actual tasks/responsibilities and he seems to be loving it!  Toddlers are after the same thing as the rest of us... they just want to know that they have a purpose in life. 

Ayden has been "driving" his little car around every morning since we built it.  David always said that he'd like to buy an old car and fix it up with his son if he ever had one.  If Ayden is as enthusiastic to help at 16 as he is now, he'll love that kind of father-son bonding project!  

What are your toddler's favorite chores? 
Ayden helps move clothes from the washer to the dryer, cleans up anything he spills on the floor, helps feed the pets and helps us stir food/add spices when cooking. As well as anything else we might be doing at any given time. 

~Sarah

PS, I finally got Ayden's "What's This?" video to publish!  Here's a link back to the post in case you want to see it.

Flashback!  Here's what we were up to one year ago today: "Here's The Skinny"


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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Amazing Autumn



We had a quiet and easy day today. It is so interesting how a toddler can have a few meltdown days followed by a few easy going days. It makes me wonder just how many variables are involved... I got a ton of house cleaning done, Ayden took a long early nap (11:30-1!!), I taught dance, David made dinner and we ended out evening with a family game of football out in the yard.  It was one of those days we all hope for everyday where everything just falls into place.  Autumn has just arrived and it is already proving to be amazing. I hope it keeps it up!!


~Sarah

Flashback!  Here's what we were up to one year ago today: "Fall Is Here!"

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Toddler Tuesday: Fall Sensory Tub


I love sensory tubs!  At school, they were a life saver when it came to calming my most energetic students. I have written about the benefits of sensory play so I won't go into detail again. All I will say is that if you think they are too messy or too much work, just give it a try and you'll never go back.

Once you lay down and practice the ground rule of materials needing to stay inside the tub, it is only enjoyment from there on. Ayden has played with sand, beans, rice and now birdseed!  To really enforce that important ground rule, I would just take it away any time he poured any of the material out.  After a couple of times, he stopped. Simple as that.  


For this sensory tub, I just added some Fall themed items and set him free. 


I also provided a basket for sifting:


An ice cube tray for sorting/one-to-one correspondence/counting/etc:


As well as a size match game mat (made by tracing the pumpkin cookie cutters onto orange construction paper with a Sharpie):




You can also add scoops, shovels, cups, spoons, etc.

Other than the feel of the seeds slipping through his fingers, Ayden's favorite parts of this activity were the spider on the game mat because he thought it looked like this guy:


And the footballs because he has been watching some football every now and then with David this season and he absolutely loves it!

When he was done playing in the tub he gathered them up,

Took off running and started his own game of football!


And that is how we spent our evening. David joined us after he finished mowing the lawn, complete with hikes, tackles and lots of giggling. 

How did you spend your evening?  

~Sarah

Flashback!  Here's what we were up to one year ago today: "Perfection"

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