Saturday, November 30, 2013

Picture Day

Today was full of photo shoots. We have had one booked for today for a month or so for a father and his three beautiful daughters. We went to an arboretum in the next town over. We enjoyed it because we could tell the girls really liked having their very own photoshoot (even though I'm pretty sure their dad was ready to be done before we actually were). They even brought a couple of pets along. 

David and Ayden played while I took the photos.
Ayden fell asleep on the way home and while he napped David and I got ready for our own photo shoot. We actually planned on doing it a couple of weeks ago but were never able to fit it in. Ayden was less than cooperative but we managed to get a few good shots. When we do our own photos we use a tripod and a remote. There is definitely an added element of stress, being the subjects, parents and photographers but we always manage to get what we need. I will definitely share a few once David completes post processing on them. 

Tomorrow we are going Christmas tree shopping!  We are going to start the tradition of getting a live tree that we can plant on our property after New Years. My parents started doing that every year when we moved into their house back in 1991. It is so neat to look around their yard and see the trees from Christmas' past. I have always wanted to do the same thing once we had our own land and I'm so excited that this is the year!

What is your longest running family tradition?


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

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Friday, November 29, 2013


We had an amazingly lazy day today.

Except for David who conquered this while Ayden and I read books...
I accidentally joined Ayden for his nap (which is probably going to start happening since I stopped using my phone so much) and then we got ready for a family dinner and movie night. It was us, my parents and my sister's family and we had a great time!

Ayden's first time at a hibachi grill!

Ayden's reaction to the first flames (love how he looks around at everyone, trying to gauge the situation):

Ayden stayed close but enjoyed watching all the flames and shenanigans (all of the adults got to catch shrimp he tossed to us for instance). Onions were, of course, his favorite part of the meal and he liked the sushi we got too. 

We went to see the movie Frozen which was adorable!  Ayden stayed awake for the whole thing. One of the character's names was Anna and Ayden liked her a lot. Whenever she wasn't on the screen he'd say, "Where Anna?  Where Anna?" until she came back. There was also a snowman that fell apart a lot and every time he was genuinely concerned and would say, "Oh no!" He liked his carrot nose. As with most Disney movies, there were a couple of sad scenes and a couple of "scary" ones. Ayden seemed to take it okay, though.

We thought he might do okay at a movie in a theater since he watched Polar Express so well last night and he did great! It is fun that we have crossed into the stage of family movie nights and the treat of an occasional theater movie with Ayden. We have taken him to movies before but always chose movies for us around his bedtime so he'd sleep through them. Before, he just wasn't interested and we were more than okay with that. Now that he is closer to 2 he's ready. He has the understanding and the attention span so we can make it a family affair.

If you are looking for a good movie to see with your kiddos, I think Frozen would be a good choice!

Have you seen Frozen yet? What is your toddler's favorite movie?


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

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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Hosts

Thanksgiving 2011
Almost 33 weeks pregnant.
Thanksgiving 2012
Thanksgiving 2013

This year I am thankful for so many things!  I was so happy to host Thanksgiving for my family this year.

We had a pretty amazing spread and all stuffed ourselves silly. 

Ayden had a blast playing with his cousins and stayed up late with us after everyone left to watch Polar Express. David fell asleep before Ayden did. He loved it and kept asking what everything was and held on up until the scene where Santa makes his appearance. Who knows, we may have just started a new Thanksgiving night tradition. It was really fun to abandon our usual evening routine and have a little family time.

I bet Ayden has some interesting dreams tonight!
Hosting dinner was fun but made the day go by so fast!  I can't believe it's over already. Now bring on Christmas! I love this time of year!!


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

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Turkey Day Eve

We are hosting Thanksgivig tomorrow!!  Today was reserved for cleaning the house and getting things prepped so all we have to do tomorrow is cook!  Of course, I had the cutest sidekick around all day...

It snowed over night!

Morning chicken chores.

He wouldn't taste it outside but liked it inside.
(Guess it didn't look like food?)

To keep him busy!!

The Mitten with props.
(was always a favorite of my students!)

"Excuse me, it's cold out here.  Any room in the inn??"


Little man was pretty chill all day.
(Thank goodness!)
Things are right on track. Once Ayden is alseep I am going to set the table and make pie crusts (my first time making them from scratch!). I'm also going to wrap my head around the timeline for cooking (perhaps use a post it not system I saw on a blog recently?). We are contributing the turkey (we purchased a heritage breed from the farmers' market this year), gravy, cranberry sauce and dessert. My mom is bringing homemade noodles, salad & stuffing and my sister's famy is bringing sausage muffins, sweet potato casserole and green bean casserole. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. I can't wait to dig in!!


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

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Jump Into Fun!

For the past couple of months it seemed as though Ayden had put his physical development on hold while he worked on his cognitive skills. He learned his colors (all the colors of the rainbow except indigo + brown, black, pink and peach), and has been working pretty hard on counting. He has also been interested in opposites and understanding positional words (under, over, on top, on bottom, in, out, etc).

Then about a week ago, out of nowhere, he decided to practice his jumping again. After two or three tries he got both feet off the ground at the same time. He was so excited!  He clapped for himself and cheered, "Yay, Anyn!!" I cannot describe the feelings that well up inside me when I see and hear him cheering for himself. I hope he can continue to celebrate his own successes all throughout his life. He worked hard and deserved to feel proud and accomplished. 

As a teacher, I always found it so fascinating to witness my students develop and fine tune a few skills in one area before moving to another. I am even more fascinated by it now as I watch my son follow the same patterns. 

Which area of development does your child seem to be fine tuning at the moment?

PS.  We had some fun stuff going on in the Ladnier household!  I am so excited to share that I was a contributing author to Green Child Magazine this month!  You can check out my article here.  I hope this marks the beginning of great things to come. 


Flashback!  Here's what we were up to one year who today: "Our Tips For Infant Air Travel"

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Monday, November 25, 2013

5 Tips To Help Avoid A Battle Of the Wills

Does anyone ever feel like you are micromanaging your toddler?

^ Not a fan...
We try really hard to maintain a positive atmosphere for Ayden.  Telling him what to do instead of what not to do, saying, "No thank you" instead of , "NO!" when we do tell him to stop doing something, validating and labeling his feelings etc.  But we aren't perfect.  We have days where we are tired and even though we know that just a little bit of effort will make things easier a few minutes down the road it is hard to constantly maintain that level of positivity and intentionality.  

On these days we find we get caught in a cyclical pattern of Ayden engaging in an undesired behavior, us telling him not to, him looking us right in the eye as he does it again, us telling him again that he's not supposed to, etc.  It turns into a battle of the wills and Ayden usually ends up crying while we end up feeling like terrible parents.  Not terrible because we disciplined him (because all children most certainly need limitations and consequences) but because we didn't take that time and effort to use the tools we have that work with preventing the cycle to begin with.  

Toddlers are POEPLE.  This is something that is easy for us to forget sometimes.  Just because a child is a child does not mean they do not respond to interactions the same way adults do.  There isn't some magical age that makes us sensitive to being micromanaged, or "put in our place."  It is simply human nature to feel deflated when under such circumstances for adults and children alike.  When a toddler tests limits, whether accidentally or on purpose, they are just doing their job.  Finding and confirming EXACTLY where those limits are.  Sometimes during the process of learning, their behaviors can even get worse before they get better.  This can be extremely frustrating for us as parents, especially after a long day.  

Here are a few tools that we try to help each other remember when one (or both!) of us is grasping for that little bit of extra energy that it takes to help our toddler feel like he has a sense of control over his life (because that is all they really want):

1) Saying "You may have one more turn/bite/slide/etc. and then we'll be all done." instead of just taking something away without warning.  As Ayden is enjoying that one last whatever, he is given the time to process that it will be gone after that.  When we just take it, he cries or whines to have it back.  When we give him a warning like this he usually hands it over no problem. (It took a few times before he understood the concept of "one more" but once he learned it this became a very useful tool for us!)

2) Validation.  When Ayden is crying we say things like, "I know you really wanted to play with Mommy's keys.  It made you mad when I took them away, didn't it?" and just like that he says, "uh-huh" and stops crying.  The tantrum is not reinforced since he did not get the keys back, yet his emotions are settled because he realized he was understood.   We also try really hard not to say, "There's no reason to be crying" or "Stop crying" or anything of the like.  How would you handle it if you were feeling very strongly about something and someone told you it was silly? Or if someone said to simply stop feeling that way?  Wouldn't work out very well for me, that's for sure. In my experience children actually cry harder when told these things and for good reason.

3) What can your child do??  We find that if Ayden gets into a throwing mood he'll throw everything he's not supposed to.  Instead of saying, "Don't throw your fork! Don't throw your food!  Don't throw that car! Don't, don't, don't!!!"  We try to say things like, "Oh Ayden, a fork is for eating, you can throw a ball though!" and then proceed to give him a ball.  He throws the ball and we can all celebrate together because he did something he was allowed and supposed to do.  The next time we see him using that fork the right way we celebrate then too.  Catch them doing something right and put as much energy as you can into that.  When they do something wrong, acknowledge and redirect without a whole lot of ceremony.  Pretty soon, your child will be seeking that celebration and making better choices.

4) 15 minutes of undivided attention is worth more than an entire day's worth of half of your attention.  In other words, at some point during the day give yourself entirely to your child.  Let him/her choose the activity, get down on their level, touch them, make eye contact with them, talk to them, laugh with them.  Show them that they are important and just as deserving of your attention as your phone calls, emails, housework, TV show, etc.  If you fill up their tank early, they are more likely to be content when you are ready to get all of that stuff done.

5) How can you involve your child?  I find that the times I am most frustrated with Ayden are when I am trying to complete a task and he starts hanging on my legs wanting me to hold him or come play with him.  It puts me in a tough spot because then I have to either tell him no or I have to drop what I am doing and go with him.  The former makes me feel terrible because nothing is more important than my time with him.  The latter makes me feel bad because at the end of the day I need to have completed some sort of non-Ayden related task to feel accomplished.  The only way out of this lose, lose situation is prevention.  I need to get Ayden involved in what I am doing somehow so that he doesn't crave my attention elsewhere. It may make things take a little longer than necessary but if you give your child his/her own spray bottle of water and a rag while you clean or his/her own little dust buster while you vacuum, you can be the queen (or king!) of multi-tasking.  Your work will get done, you'll teach your child some life skills and independence at a very young age and your child will get that extra time with you that he/she so craves.  

We do not do these things because we don't think Ayden can handle the word "no" or because we think children should get what they want whenever they want it.  We do it because it works.  It achieves our desired outcome while keeping the atmosphere in our home positive.  When we fall into those "easier," more negative methods, we find that he engages in those undesirable behaviors more instead of less.  Even though it may be easier in the moment, the fact that you have to do it over and over again eventually makes it more taxing.  When we go to reflect on our day we feel bad for not giving Ayden that extra effort to prevent the behaviors and keep things positive.  

Like I said before, we are not perfect at this.  It is a very intentional way to parent and sometimes we are just too tired to pull it off.  When we do, though, it really makes life with a toddler more simple.  When our children are misbehaving is when they need us the most.  They need us to guide them through it, to patiently show them those limits (no matter how many times they test you) and to model how to handle ourselves when we are frustrated. It isn't easy but who ever said parenting is?  

Are you having will battles with your toddler in your household right now?  Give these tools a try and come back to let me know if they work for you too!!


Click here for more tips from the "Make Your Life Simple" series!

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

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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Pavlovian Chickens

Ayden slept in until 9:00am today which was a wonderful thing because I needed it!

We left Ohio around 1:30 and he took his nap on the road. We were happy to get home to David and had a pretty low key evening. 

Our chickens have gotten comfortable enough to fly out of their pen and explore our entire yard looking for bugs and such (we knew this would happen eventually). It took them all of two days to learn their new routine and they typically come running and follow us around whenever they think we may be feeding them. 

It is pretty cute. We seem to have adjusted to having them as easily as they have adjusted to being here. I can totally see why they call chickens the gateway animal for farming. We are already brainstorming and daydreaming about what we'll take on once our house is built. So much possibility ahead!


Saturday, November 23, 2013

All Dressed Up

We spent the day all dressed up for the dance competition!

Ayden got so much attention since he was so darn cute and it made him feel shy and wore him out!

Once the groups were finished competing, David joined us and we got dressed for the Miss Dance pageant. 

There was a reception that followed. Ayden fell asleep during the pageant but rallied for the reception once we told him there was food involved. Then he went right to sleep once we got him in bed (close to midnight!).

Though we've experienced a number of sleep related hurdles during the passed two years, at least we can say he is an easy going sleeper. It usually doesn't matter where we are or what we are doing. After nights like tonight he typically sleeps a little bit longer in the morning (half hour to an hour) then takes an earlier than usual nap. After that, he's usually back on track for a normal bedtime like nothing different ever happened. 

We sure did enjoy having a reason to get all dressed up since such occasions are few and far between for us these days. 
When was the last time you had to dress up as a family?  Do you get/have to do it often?


Friday, November 22, 2013

Auntie Sarah

We are in Ohio for the weekend for one of the annual dance competitions we attend. Ayden and I got here around 4:30 (after a challenging morning of toddler wrangling/packing). I had one student competing this afternoon (she got a gold!) and for the rest of the weekend I am helping out with my sisters' kids (both of my sisters are here) and also get to be a spectator. 

My mom and sisters were all Miss Dance of Ohio at some point and since this is the 50th anniversary of Ohio Dance Masters all of the past Miss Dances are joining the current in a routine at the pagent. They are having a rehearsal pretty late tonight so I brought my six year old nephew (my oldest sister only brought the oldest of her 3 boys with her) my 2 year old niece and Ayden back to our room. It took a while but I got them all in their PJs, got their teeth brushed and got them all to sleep. Exhaustion was definitely on my side since it was way passed their bedtimes but I'm glad I could take care of it so my sisters didn't have to. Playing with kids is nice but it's caring for them that really builds relationships. Having conversations, giving undivided attention, asking them questions and actually listening to their answers. There were a few crazy moments but I really enjoyed being an aunt (and mommy, of course) tonight. 

I am excited to see all of the numbers tomorrow!  I will also be excited to see David when he comes to join us and I know Ayden will be too. 

Do you get the chance to take care of nieces or nephews often?  I have a feeling I'll get to more and more as Ayden gets older and wants to have them over to play. 


Thursday, November 21, 2013

5 Happy Things {You Have the Power}

Here are 5 happy things from our day:

1. Ayden enjoyed a mini egg for breakfast today
(they are called fairy eggs and they are very cute)
2. Ayden held the tiniest kitten at the pet store.
If we had a barn that needed a cat I would have adopted him.

3. My cousin and neighbor happened to stop by at the same time to meet the chickens.
We stood around a chatted for a while and I enjoyed every minute of it.

4. The chickens are getting comfortable and are venturing out of their little yard.
At first, Ayden told her to go back, then decided he LOVED her being out.

5. David and I went on a dinner date hosted by the company he works for.
It was delicious, we talked with some really nice folks and Ayden got some quality grandparent time.
As an introvert, overly social days can drain me at times but today was so enjoyable.  I think it was because there were breaks between each event that allowed me time to decompress and recharge. It also helped that Ayden had a low key day. He really loves helping with chicken chores which makes them that much more enjoyable for me. Not only are these chickens adding entertainment and EGGS to our home but they are already proving to be something that is bringing people together.  I am so glad we went for it!

What are your 5 happy things for today?


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

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Dear Me, On the iPhone

I have talked about this before, and will most likely need to again, but David and I are making efforts to decrease our technology usage.  Ayden has gotten to where he reminds me to get my phone before a nursing session...  Some people may think that is cute or funny but it really isn't the example that I want to be setting for him.  Children learn best through what is modeled for them and if I have to constantly have something in my face to entertain myself, how am I supposed to expect him to be content to just BE?

Technology is so tricky for me.  I have this blog, Facebook, Instagram, follow a couple of online communities and LOVE me some Pinterest.  I have learned so much and really have grown as a person with the ability to have research, ideas and inspiration at my fingertips 24/7.  On the other hand, I get sucked into the vortex so easily!  I will open my Safari browser to google something or check my email and before I know it I'm reading articles about celebrities that I honestly couldn't care less about in the grand scheme of things.  In the moment I just can't help myself and I know that I am not alone here.  If I were, none of it would be there and blog posts like this would have never been written.  

I am proud to say that I do a good job of giving Ayden the undivided attention that children need and deserve. It is so important to me and I make a point to do it everyday. It's the "me" time that suffers at the hand of the technology life suck.  

Instead of spending 20 minutes mindlessly scrolling through my Facebook feed I could have used my hands to make something from raw materials or read a chapter in my current novel that I haven't opened in months.  I could have made a phone call to see how my sister in NY is doing or could have planned a super fun activity to do with Ayden.  I could have crossed a couple of things off of my to do list.  I could have gotten that much more SLEEP. There are so many REAL LIFE things that could have been done instead of reading about what other people are doing or have done in their lives.  

I am not against any of these things by any means.  Like I said, I have grown as a person in one way or another from all of them.  I have made some delicious meals and made our home more homey thanks to Pinterest.  I've also found inspiration for so many home made gifts that brought me much joy to make and give to my loved ones. I have been able to keep in touch with old friends and share Ayden with distant family through Facebook. With most things, there is a time, a place and a purpose for all of this stuff.  But as someone who gets sucked into it easily, I am just trying to find a way to maintain the proper balance.  Some way to log in, get what I need then log out.  I'm not sure what the solution is at this point but something is going to change.  One thing that I did tonight was change my Safari home screen from Yahoo! to this quote in hopes to be reminded to stay focused and not get sucked in:

Which, of course, I found on Pinterest...
I figure I'll change it up every now and then.

Saying goodbye to my iPhone and reverting back to the "old fashioned," basic kind could be an option perhaps?  I could snap pictures on my little point and shoot like I used to and be forced to sit at an actual computer to check emails, peruse social media sites and Pinterst.  That would greatly decrease my "screen time" and would also save us some money.  Then again, I really love having my phone, video camera, photo camera, GPS, etc all in one pocket-size device.  And that's not to mention my ability to write blog posts from my phone.This idea seems like the answer but the iPhone addict in me has a bit of a panic attack when I picture life without it.  Maybe I'll take a week where I keep my phone turned off and store it in my car.  That way I'd have it in case of an emergency when I'm away from home but wouldn't have constant access to it all day everyday.  Maybe I could do this long enough to establish better habits then reassess?

In so many ways technology simplifies my life but in others it takes it away.  What did people ever do without it??  I suppose they just LIVED and didn't worry about the rest.  Just something to think about...

This is what LIVING is! Talk about fulfilling!

Anyone else struggling with this dilemma?  How do you find balance and avoid the technology life suck?  Even though I am so tired of wasting moments I'll never have back, I still have so much trouble putting it down...


Flashback!  Here's what we were up to one year ago today: "Turn That Frown Upside Down"

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