Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter 2013

I hope everyone had a Happy Easter.  We sure did!!

Want to reminisce with us?  Go check out last year's post for Easter 2012.  So much changes in a year!


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Alpacas, Rabbits and Chicks, Oh My!

Today was packed but very fun!  We started the day with a Green Living Fair.  We drove an hour and a half to get there and spent a few hours chatting with all of the vendors.  Ayden got to touch an alpaca and chicks.  He loved it so much!

We have so many possible avenues to take in this farming endeavor, it's so exciting!  By the time we made it around to some rabbits, Ayden wanted to touch them too.  He kept reaching his fingers in their pet saying, "Tickle, tickle, tickle!"

When we got home we had our second non family/friend photo shoot! I'd say we can officially call ourselves "semi-professional" photographers. It was for a 6 month old little boy and he was so cute. I love helping other parents freeze time with their little ones because it is something that means a lot to me too.

After the photo shoot, we went to David's parents' house for our Easter baskets from them and we ended our evening with dinner and a movie! After such a big day, I didn't have the energy or desire to cook. We went to a place called Smashing Tomato. They are known for their pizza but they have an AMAZING chopped salad with blackened chicken and balsamic vinagrette. Ayden slept through the movie The Host, which David and I listened to the book of a couple of years ago.  Good stuff!  We got home around 11:30 and we are tired!

It was a crazy full day but every moment of it was fun and fulfilling. You can't ask for more than that!! Now it is time to tell the Easter Bunny where to set out Ayden's Easter basket.


Friday, March 29, 2013

Toddler Easter Basket

Today was BEAUTIFUL!

Earthing :)

and an unexpected friendship.
I've been a busy bee this week, helping out the Easter Bunny. Coming up with fun, non-candy toddler gift ideas can be tricky; so I thought I'd share the contents of Ayden's Easter basket a little early, just in case anyone needs some quick, cheap and easy last minute ideas.

Sorry the lighting is kind of terrible...
My favorite part are the "I Spy" discovery bottles.

I used the colored rice that I made earlier this week. I went with the primary colors since those are what we are teaching him first. The red one is a farm theme because of the "big red barn" cliche. The blue one is ocean themed because our boy still loves fish. The yellow one has the faces of all of our immediate family and close friends floating around in it. I think he'll get a kick out of that one.

The other homemade gifts are sound shaker eggs. I went around the house gathering small objects that would all sound different when shaken inside the eggs.

A couple of random fun items are a book:

Ayden loves books by this author
and is a bit obsessed with belly buttons...
And these silly bunny sunglasses (that I had, unopened, in my Spring school theme tub).

Our Easter basket tradition will be to always include a new swim suit:

Cloth swim diaper
And some sort of outdoor activity to celebrate the arrival of warmer weather. This year's outdoor activity is some more side walk chalk wrapped up in a cute rabbit handkerchief.

I actually got the handkerchief last year in my Easter basket from David's parents. It contained a LUSH bath bomb and I kept it to use for Ayden this year.

There you have it, the Easter basket of a 14 month old. What will the Easter Bunny be leaving for your little one?


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Sensory Play

Trains after story time this morning!
As a preschool teacher, I was required to have sensory play available to all of my students. There had to be wet and dry options inside and out at all times (except no water outside during winter months). Over the years I had a lot of fun with what activities I offered and built up a collection of ideas that I have had tucked away since I stopped teaching. I have been patiently waiting for the time when I get to start using all of my old school ideas and supplies with Ayden. I had to wait until he stopped eating EVERYTHING and started listening (a little). The time has come and it is so much fun!!!!

Something about sensorial activities puts children in the zone. They become mesmerized, relaxed and they stay engaged for a very long time. As you can probably tell, Ayden has played in the dirt many times since our move to the farm. It definitely counts as sensory play (I actually used to put dirt, gardening gloves/tools, flower pots, plastic insects and artificial flowers in my sensory table at school during my Spring unit). He also has plenty of water play during bath time, when he spills some water on his high chair tray and when he gets to a wet water dish. Today, though, he got to get his hands in colored rice.

I actually made the colored rice for something that is going to be in Ayden's Easter basket (to be featured in tomorrow's post), but I had some left over so we put it to use!  If you've never had your hands in dry rice you should go to your pantry right now, dump some rice into a bowl and try it. It is difficult to describe but it feels cool to the touch and picking up handfuls and slowly dropping them is so relaxing. White and colored rice feel the same but the colors obviously add another dimension to the full sensory experience. Coloring rice may seem time consuming or messy but it is actually easy and relatively quick. All you need is some rice, rubbing alcohol, food coloring and gallon zip lock bags. Then it is as easy as three, two, one. 3 cups of rice, 2 tablespoons of rubbing alcohol and 1 tablespoon of food coloring.  Put all of the ingredients into a zip lock bag, massage and watch the magic happen.  Once the rice as soaked up all the color it can, spread the rice onto trays of some sort and let it air dry.  After about an hour you'll have this:

Colorful fun for everyone!  I'll let you see it in action:

And now, we must have a moment of silence for my dear chalk horse:
David ran over him!
Haha, tomorrow is Friday!  TGIF!!


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Gift Of An Ordinary Day

I came across this video and thought I'd pass it along.

I really do try to live in the tiny moments of everyday but it is always a balancing act and some days are more successful than others. Yes, the housework isn't going anywhere but it sure can get out of hand enough to not be able to relax and enjoy being in your own living space. I also know good and well that 10, or even 5 years from now I'm going to look back and miss things that are happening at this point in our lives, but that doesn't mean that I don't still crave the peace and independence of my nightly alone time while my boys are asleep.

This video was beautiful. It made me tear up, it made me want to slow things down and it made me hug my baby a little more often today. It reminded me how they are little for such a short amount of time and how before I know it, and possibly before I am really ready, our nest will be empty and I will have more free time than I know what to do with. I still want to strive for a balance, which is a daily juggling act and something always ends up falling by the way side, but it is good to have reminders to truly cherish all of the small, ordinary moments. The tiny moments during which you are so caught up that you don't even think to grab a camera. Today's moments were when Ayden was sitting with a book and patting the floor next to him saying, "Please?" or in his words, "teeeeese??? When we were out drawing with sidewalk chalk and he gets up, grabs the chalk bucket by the handle and starts heading to the horses and made his cute horse noise all the way there.

Can you guess which one is Mommies and which is Aydens??
When he climbed up on a bench at the dance studio and was so excited and proud of himself once he was settled in and eating his snack like a big boy. When he "took care of me" by feeding me bite after bite of his snack because that's what we do for him. There are countless moments throughout the day that are so easy to experience with blinders on. Fleeting moments that will quickly be forgotten if you don't take time to marvel at them as they happen.

Reading his Easter card "book" from his Grandma and Grandpa
I think with a healthy balance in place, all members of the family unit are happy and open to truly cherishing the sweet moments during an ordinary day. Something David and I try to do whenever one of us is feeling off kilter, or if Ayden is fussy/clingy, is to step back and evaluate our routine and schedule. We try to pinpoint any specific aspects that may be causing stress or strain and brainstorm ways to fix them. Things seem to have a natural fluctuation and flow. If we don't acknowledge the natural changes, and make our own changes accordingly, we start to experience an underlying feeling of uneasiness or stress. That is our cue to make a couple of changes as a family unit. "Blessed are the flexible, for they never get bent out of shape."

How did the video make you feel? I'd love to hear your reflection in the comments below!


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Answer Me This

Today we woke up to this:

Luckily 33* in Spring (what it was when I took Mav for his morning walk) isn't quite the same as 33* in the dead of Winter. We woke up late today. Ayden had his first good night in quite a while so I soaked up every moment of sleep that I could. He woke up snuggly, which he also hasn't done in a while so I soaked up very moment of that I could too. By the time we got out of bed, fed Mav and had breakfast, it was going on 11:00. I thought the day had gotten away from me but I looked over my list, made a plan and seized the day!

I put Ayden on my back while I put dinner in the crock pot:

Crock Pot Honey Apple Pork Loin
Then worked out while he took his nap. He only slept for about 40 minutes today (I got half of the P90X chest and back workout done).  He woke sitting up, bright eyed and smiling so I didn't worry about trying to get him back down. We had lunch and then I worked on some projects for his Easter basket and cleaned up the basement.

Any guesses?
I'll share the finished products in a post soon!
When David got home, dinner was ready and the kitchen was already cleaned up. After we ate we had time for a family walk and plenty of play time. I usually reserve crock pot meals for Wednesdays but the fun we had time for this evening makes me want to do it more often. Our evenings are usually consumed by kitchen clean up and such but tonight was super chill and fun. Something in our usual routine needs to change so we can enjoy that every night. Back to the drawing board!

Off roading in the City Mini.
We witnessed some pretty awesome changes in Ayden today. First of all, this morning, my mom started talking to me while she was looking at a book with him. He reached his little hand up, turned her face back to the book and pointed to it. It was as if he was trying to say, "Focus, Naunie!". She got a big kick out of it which of course he loved. Ayden has also completely grasped the context of saying please. It is to the point where he will catch himself fussing or whining for something and then stop and start signing/saying please in the sweetest voice ever. He is also nodding his head yes or shaking his head no to answer yes/no questions. Today I had read his current favorite book to him several times on a particular spot on the basement floor. He wanted me to read it again so, book in hand, he grabbed my pant leg and signed/said please when I looked down. Then he walked over and sat in the spot from before and patted the ground next to him. I said, "Ayden, do you want me to read that book to you again?" And he nodded his head yes. It was so cute and amazing to me that he had accomplished that many steps for expressing his wants.  Here is a little clip of his version of, "Please":

I feel like he has made it over a communication obstacle and is really understanding the power of requests or getting to answer questions. It was such a pleasant day and I had so much fun marveling about these new developments. An added bonus is that my parents and David are just as excited about everything as I am and it has been fun to all be proud of him together.

Maverick is a good listener.

I have heard people say that 18 months is "the perfect age" because they are starting to talk and communicate but aren't in the "terrible twos" stage. Here at 14 months we are almost there and I can say two way communication really has opened another dimension to our relationship and it is just going to keep getting better.


Monday, March 25, 2013


When I sat down last night with my calendar to wrap my head around the week ahead and make today's to do list, I realized that Ayden had a vaccination appointment today (he got a Polio booster). Since we stagger and delay vaccines, we go every two months whether he is due for a well baby check up or not. It was originally a week from now but they called late last week and asked to reschedule for today. I am glad I have gotten into the habit of skimming through my calendar on Sundays or I probably would have been a no show (which is something I have challenged myself not to do as a mother). Crisis averted and huge change of plans for today!

We left in time for Ayden to get a nice, long nap on the way.
This was the first time David didn't come with us to the doctor. We missed him but the appointment went well. Ayden's doctor was available so he came in and did a well baby exam after all. The only concern that I had was about how one of Ayden's front teeth got a tiny chip in it at some point. We have no idea when it happened and I was wondering if his teeth were weak or something since you'd expect some big, traumatic event to cause damage to a tooth. The fact that we didn't even know when it happened led me to believe that it chipped easily. Doc said that if it happens again we should have a dentist check his enamel levels but if it doesn't not to worry. His only concern was with the small red mark left after Ayden's nose skid scab came off. He asked what happened and how long ago and then suggested that we put extra sunscreen on it when it warms up since that spot will be more prone to sunburn. I suffered from really bad sunburns multiple times as a child and as a result am a bit over protective in that area so that shouldn't be a problem.

Overall, the appointment was good. Ayden was a "whopping" 29.3 inches and 18 pounds, 10 ounces. He's still our tiny wonder! Hopefully I'll be able to pick up the slack from today's to do list tomorrow. I did run a couple of Thursday's errands while we were out, though, so all we'll have is story time and the grocery which will be awesome.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Frame Party!

We had a hive frame building party today! David's parents came for a visit and we got another box and 10 frames assembled. Two boxes/twenty frames down, four boxes/forty frames to go.

We made a pot of beef vegetable soup and had our firsts guests since moving in with my folks. Whitney, Kellen and Baby Girl came for dinner. We also tried a new dessert that I found on Pinterest and they were delish! We spent the evening talking about becoming parents and how things have changed. We talked about our pre-baby selves, everything we used to do and every thing we *thought* we'd do/not do as parents.

The reason I decided to go ahead and have bees this season was because an instructor at bee school said, "you can research and 'learn' all you want but nothing will really prepare you so you might as well jump in and learn as you go. Since that sentiment proved to be true with parenting I whole heartedly believed them and now we have bees on the way. Oh, life's parallels. Who knew parenting and beekeeping could be so similar?

As always we had an amazing time with them just sitting and chatting the night away. Now I am ready to conquer week two of project change my ways. Overall week one went well. I had moments of weakness. For instance, the Pinterest app has been reinstalled for house and meal planning purposes. I've been good about reading while putting Ayden down for his naps, though, and I figure I can always delete it again if it sucks me in too far. I have also had a lot of success. I did week one of P90x. I cut the yoga workout short (let's face it, what mother has time for an hour and a half of yoga?) and I never had time for Kenpo on Saturday. No biggie though, I had a great week of exercise and every part of my body was sore at some point or another which felt awesome! I plan on using week two of P90X as my guide and just do as much as I can with no pressure. After having a week of change behind me I did notice that I had to sacrifice a few more things than I thought in order to make time for exercise and more sleep (which I still need to do even better with). I'm not sure that exercising EVERY day is what is right for having balance in my life. I need exercise but I need hobby time too. I really enjoy crafting and haven't done a single crafty thing since Ayden's birthday. I have a few things I want to make for Ayden's Easter basket this week so I may have to only work out three days this week in order to make time for that. The key to success for me is to plan things out and be intentional so I will probably designate workout days and craft days so that everything actually happens. Now I just have to lay out my workout clothes, my watch and make my to do list for tomorrow. Whether or not I set my alarm will depend on what kind of night we have because last night was pretty rough. I am excited to see what this week has in store for us.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Mixing It Up

Tonight we went to a beginning farmer mixer. It is always fun to be around other people who are doing the same thing you are. The hosting farm was amazing. They specialize in sorghum which can be used as a type of natural sweetener. There were also goats, chickens, pigs, cats and a dog.

"Doo doo doo doo!!!!!"
Ayden was so excited to see all of the animals from his favorite books come to life.  He was pointing in every direction making all the animal noises he could.  It was adorable! He also discovered the moon once it got dark and kept showing it to us. There was a pot luck, a showing of the documentary The Greenhorns and a bluegrass trio which Ayden loved.

Our original plan was to camp out but the forecast doesn't look good for the morning, so we decided to sit this one out. We really enjoyed ourselves and Ayden met a little 10 month old friend named Polly. She was the first person I've ever met who shares our cats name.

Seeing all of the animals got me excited for our future on the farm as we build our homestead. It will be a lot of work but the payback will be ten fold. Such an amazing way to live and an even better way to raise our family. Nothing like visiting folks who are a few steps ahead of you to become inspired and motivated. Super fun stuff!


Friday, March 22, 2013

Toddler Land

Ayden is teething something awful with his molars right now. He is waking up a lot and is going through a terrible biting phase when he nurses. He has bitten me during every teething episode so I just keep reminding myself that it will pass. That doesn't make it feel any better when it happens, though. The best thing that I've found to do when he bites me is to do my best not to react and gently pinch his nose closed. Luckily, he has a pretty good idea that it isn't something he should do which makes him hesitantly and slowly add pressure, giving me a warning that it is about to happen. Most other things I have tried have made him smile or even laugh and making it a game is not in the cards.

2 hour nap today!
I joined him for some of it.
Look at those cute little legs :)
This is what I did during the rest of his nap. So good!
Paleo Sandwich Bread
Ayden has become VERY aware of our reactions to his behaviors recently. We will notice that he will repeat a behavior just to see if it achieves the same reaction from us. Since we have crossed over into the toddler land of testing and finding boundaries, we feel that it is our job as his parents to stay aware and react as intentionally as possible. It has also helped that we remind ourselves often that he is not being "naughty," but rather actively learning his limits and rules. Children actually confidently thrive with age appropriate rules and limitations. Toddlers are egocentric and don't posses the capacity for abstract thought or reason. This makes the process of testing and finding limits difficult and tiring for all involved; but every toddler goes through it in some way or another and we parents just have to push on through. Call it a right of passage, if you will. We are doing a lot of redirecting and making efforts to use short, easy to understand phrases. Our biggest challenge at the moment is with Ayden pulling Polly's tail. He hits the reaction jackpot with this one because Polly screams/hisses (she is declawed and therefore defenseless against him. This is a good thing for Ayden, but a bad thing for her...). On top of Polly's reaction, he has us rushing over to him, touching him and talking to him. Talk about reinforcing. Now he looks at us with a huge smile on his face, excitedly anticipating the consequence. Normally I would advise to ignore attention directed behavior, which is what this has turned in to, but we can't leave poor, five pound Polly to fend for herself when Ayden's got a two handed death grip on her tail. After reflecting on the problem this evening, I have decided that we are going to have to be more vigilant and take a preventative approach. If/when he does get her tail again, we need to remove him from the situation quickly and with as little contact, and therefore reinforcement, as possible. Only time will tell and hopefully I will remember to update in a week or two to see if we were successful. I should also note that we talk about gentle touches, petting nicely and such when the timing is appropriate and he does touch her appropriately sometimes too. I think taking a little time each day to pet her together and praising/giving a lot of attention for doing it right will be a good addition to the plan as well.

Working out with me today.

Here we go, folks. We are officially in toddler land and we are going to try or best not to get lost!

Daddy's biggest fan.  After me, of course!
What discipline tips and tricks for toddlers do you have in your tool box? Please share!


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Toddler Talk

Today was cold and SNOWY! So much for Spring's official arrival. We donned our warm boots and winter coats and set out to run some errands. We met Whitney and Baby Girl at story time then went to the grocery.

And we went to the bank, library and pet store.

First library book!
I got home later than I like to on Thursdays so the rest of our evening ran a bit late but we enjoyed ourselves, and Ayden was happy until he went to sleep around 8:30, so we just went with it.

My dad is a retired educator and we share a passion for child development. He has mentioned time and time again that one of his favorite parts of being a grandfather has been to observe all of his grandchildren as they develop over the years. As an early childhood educator myself, part of my reason for keeping such detailed documentation of Ayden's development, other than memories sake, is for professional reasons. Who knows if I'll ever do anything with it but at least I've got it just in case. If nothing else, I have it all to fondly look back on when he's all grown up and on his own.

My dad was saying yesterday that he is a linguist at heart and that he thinks I should keep track of his language as it develops. I told him I'd write a post documenting all of the words he has so far and then add to it from there. So here you have it, Ayden's comprehensive 14 month sign, word and noise counts:

All done
Milk (for nurse)
Waves hi
Waves bye
Blows kisses
Gives kisses
Tickle fingers
Nods head for yes
Shakes head for no
Hat (pats his head)
* some are official ASL, some he has come up with. All are used consistently in context.

Bye bye
Tickle tickle
Ball (ba)
Drink (di)
Kitty kitty
Fish (ish)
Blueberries (Boo-boo)
Apple (ba-pa)
Bow wow
Tweet tweet
Choo choo
That (da)
Hat ("ha" and pats his head)
Help ("ha" and puts his hands over his shoulders...not sure why)
Belly button (ti-too)
Naunie ("Naw-na" - the name for my mom)
Banana ("Nana")
*some are intelligible, some are baby talk but all are consistently used in context.
* we figured of an animal noise could be written phonetically, it counts as an official word as well. In other words, if you might read it in a children's book, it is more than sound imitation.
updated 3/25/13

Sounds for:
Cat (hi pitched whining sound)
Dog ("bow wow wow")
Kisses ("mmmmuah")
Tastes good ("Mmmm)
Horse (blows air through loose lips)
Elephant (blows air through tight lips)
Snake ("ssss")
Cow ("booo")
Chicken ('ba ba ba")
Bird ("tweet tweet")
Goat ("naaa")
Sheep ("baaa")
Bee ("ssss" sounds the same as snake)
Rooster ("doo doo doo doo" for cock-a-doodle-do)
Monkey "(ooo-ah!")
Lion ("Aaaaah!" In a growly voice)
Owl ("who who")
All animal sounds listed as words above.

Well. If you made it though all of those lists, you must be as interested in language and/or child development as we are :). It is hard to recall everything all at once so it is possible that i left a few things out. As far as his "first word" after dada and mama, it was hi. It was harder than I thought it would be to pinpoint his first official word. It was like his babbling slowly morphed into things we could begin to understand and it seemed several developed at once. Now I have totally forgiven my parents for "forgetting" my first word. Because if I was anything like Ayden, there was never a black and white moment that screamed, "She just said her first word!"

I'd love to hear what words your toddler likes to say or sign. It is so interesting to me that different children focus on different things and how those interests dictate what words they pick up first. Ayden is fixated on animals at the moment (specifically farm animals, imagine that...) so he seems to be picking up words and sounds having to do with that category first. They spend their first year learning how to walk and their second year learning how to talk. Pretty cool stuff!


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Abstract Art

We have one box and its frames assembled for our bees! In total there will be 6 boxes and 60 frames so we still have some work to do but we are off to a good start! You can purchase everything already assembled but what is the fun in that? We want to build our farm from the ground up by investing our hearts, souls and lots of time. Lots of wonderful memories in the making going on over here.

I think I rocked my new goals today! I got in the P90X shoulders and arms workout while Ayden played with my parents. It feels so wonderful to be working out again. The endorphins and sense of accomplishment are well worth my time. Why hadn't I been working out again??

So, I played with Ayden a lot, worked out, prepared a Shepherd's Pie for dinner and got my sister's birthday present before going to teach dance. While I was teaching, Ayden kept himself entertained as usual. He has discovered climbing so whenever there is some sort of "step" in front of any stool or bench, he'll climb up and sit.

Just chilling, eating a snack...
On our way out, Ayden started pointing at a prop for a dance and making his horse sound. After looking and looking for what he thought was a horse, I saw this paint smudge.

He is so horse obsessed, he even finds them in abstract "paintings," haha.

3 days down and 27 to go on my journey to new habits. I'm going to keep trucking along!! How are you doing on your goals for this week?


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

30 Days

I am very glad to hear that I am not alone in sometimes letting my days control me. I had several fellow mothers comment on yesterday's post letting me know that they are right there with me. I don't know about you guys, but I can tell it is going to be a long road for me to change my ways. There were several times that I felt myself being pulled back toward my old habits but I kept reminding myself that I want to change. If I is important to me, I will make it happen!

 After looking back and reflecting on my day and progress towards my new goals, I think I'll give my efforts an 80%. I didn't get sucked in to any Apps or the Internet or anything so that was good. As far as exercise , I did P90X Plyometrics during Ayden's nap.

Go me!! Haha
(Awesome lighting)
It was so tempting to lay with him and meal plan or read but I knew it would probably be my only chance for a workout all day. He woke up with only 11 minutes to go. I was hot, sweaty and out of breath when I went in to get him; so I will call it a great workout, even if I didn't get to finish. I would also like to mention that Mama is SORE today from yesterday's workouts. My back, chest and abs are totally screaming, "WTF!" today and it hurts so good. I did loose track of time a couple of times today while chatting with my parents but I still feel that is time well spent. I know that when I am their age I'm really going to cherish this time I will have spent with them. I really am getting to know them on a whole different level and it is really a great thing.

After dinner, we went out with David while he worked on putting up a rabbit fence around the garden.

Daddy's little helper
We also took full-size carrots out to the horses and Ayden was so brave! He held them right out to them and didn't even flench when they snatched them from his hand.

Ayden is also using his please sign appropriately and it is so cute that I think it's going to get me into trouble.

For example, today at lunch he wanted my phone. When I didn't give it to him, he started to whine at me. Then he stopped, thought for a second and then signed please while saying, "eeeeee" in the sweetest little voice. I held strong this time but it made me want to give him the world!

I am going to keep trucking on making these goals of mine into new habits. Someone told me that it takes 30 days to form a new habit. 2 down and 28 to go. I've got this! I have made the decision to make a change and I'm pretty good about following through once I've made a decision like this. Lucky for me I have you guys to hold me accountable!