Thursday, February 28, 2013

Alex Touch and Feel Flashcards

Sharing some of my good finds/loves/favorite products use to be something I did more often.  Then once Olivia came along, I wrote monthly posts about the things we were using and loving.  Lately, that has just not been happening.  I meant to write a post long before Christmas about some of her favorite toys for anyone who would be shopping for a child in her age bracket.  As you can see, that never happened.

I decided that it is time to get on that!  It's been said that Olivia has a lot of toys.  I suppose that's all relative.  She doesn't have two play rooms AND a bedroom like Little Man, but she does have a fair amount for her young age.  Obviously she doesn't play with every toy every day. There just wouldn't be time for that.  And of course she has her favorites.  But one thing I can say though, is that in the span of a week she plays with almost all the toys she has.  As I look around the room, I can't see one toy that she doesn't play with on a regular basis.

That being said, I could feature a new toy every week... but I won't.  I do want to point out some favorites, though.  These Alex Touch and Feel ABC flashcards are one of them.

Olivia's Grandma was ordering her something from One Step Ahead and threw these in with the deal.  We received them sometime before Thanksgiving.  She LOVES them.  These are one of those toys that I keep put away and pull out during supervised play time.  Otherwise they'd end up all over the house, possibly chewed on, and who knows what else. :)

Olivia gets so excited to play with them.  We'll talk about what's on each card, she'll stack them, carry them around, put them in the box and take them back out, etc.  I'll keep them out for a day or two and then they go back into hiding for a week or so.

They come in a really nice heavy duty box that velcros shut on the side.  There are 13 cards.  One side has a textured part to it, and the other side is usually just a regular picture.  They are very durable cards, too.  The manufacturer recommends for ages 2 to 5.  Obviously Olivia isn't 2 yet, but she's already having fun.  We'll get even more use out of them when she starts working on recognizing letter.  Right now she's just interested in the pictures.

We only have the ABC set, but they do come in 3 or 4 other themes (numbers, shapes/colors, first words).

Here is a video of Olivia saying which cards she knows.  Please excuse the crazy.  Sometimes when I turn the camera on, she gets a little wild. :)

And just for fun... here's her "singing" about Mr. Sun.  Pay no attention to my singing.  And sorry for all the laughing... she cracks me up! :)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Shoe Shenanigans

Olivia needs some new shoes.  One pair started making her walk funny, so they immediately went into the "too small" bin.  Two pair are holding on, but are tight getting on her feet.  Her boots are the only shoe that legitimately fit her.  Or at least I think they do.  So I've been saying for weeks that we need to get her fitted.  I wanted Michael to go with us, so it kept getting put off and put off. That is until the shoe frenzy that happened on Monday.  It went something like this....

Shoe shopping did not happen over the weekend how I had hoped, so I decided just to print off a sizing chart and order from online.  I printed Pedipeds chart and then also Stride Rite's chart for good measure.

I measured both and then took a look.  Pedipeds chart said she needed a size 8.  I thought, surely that can't be right.  She is currently wearing a size 5.5/6.  I figured we were looking at a 6 1/2.  Stride Rite's chart looked a little better.... until I entered the numbers in some calculator on their website.  It said she needed an 8 wide.  I started to panic slightly.  How was it possible that I was shoving her feet in shoes that were THREE sizes too small?  I sent Michael a text explaining that we had failed as parents and that we were headed to Stride Rite immediately after nap.

We arrived and Olivia's foot was promptly measured.  The girl said that she was a 7 1/2 wide.  I hung my head in shame and began looking for an appropriate shoe.  I put a 7 1/2 wide on her foot and it was a freaking boat.  I mean, HUGE.  We are talking clown shoes.  So I tried on a 7 wide.  It was still pretty big, but better.  I went down to a size 6 1/2 wide (the size I thought she'd be) and it fit perfect.  All that worry for nothing.  Shame on you Stride Rite!  So the girl comes back to see how I'm doing and I explain that my entire (large) thumb could fit between her toe and the edge of the shoe with the 7 1/2.  She said, "Yes.  That's how it should be."  I asked if she was kidding. I've heard of buying them a half of a size bigger, but this was ridiculous.  I then explained that my child didn't want to row her boat down the river, but rather walk like a normal 20 month old.  We aren't interested in signing her up for the circus quite yet.  I think the girl thought I was crazy.

So I tried to scavenge for some wide shoes (nearly impossible, let me tell you!), and Olivia decided it would be fun to run up and down the aisles.  I knew I wanted Michael along for a reason!  I had grand plans to take pictures and blog about our first shoe shopping experience at a shoe store.  That went out the window as I was throwing off my sweater to prevent heat stroke and chasing my little runner up the aisles.

The closest SR to us is an outlet.  Great, if you are looking for a deal.  Not so great if you'd like black shoes in a 7 wide that actually look somewhat cute.  We left empty handed, and I was once again ready to entrust my toddler shoe shopping to the internet.

HOURS later, I finally settled on a few pair.  You may wonder what took so long.  Oh, let me tell you... finding wide shoes in Olivia's size proved to be a bit of a challenge.  Add in that I wanted them to look someone presentable and all bets were off.  The kicker was that I was not really wanting to pay $55.  Yes.  $55 for a pair of shoes that my child will wear for 3 to 6 months. No thank you.  I can't even remember the last time I bought myself shoes. (Sadly, it's been a LONG while)  But I don't even spend $55 on my own shoes and my feet are done growing!

All that to say, shoes are on their way.  Thank God for a Grandma who likes to help out with Olivia's necessities.  Michael and I have decided that we are going to look into the practice of foot binding.  We just can't afford wide feet in this house.  (I kid!!!!)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I love a bargain just as much as the name brand!

Who doesn't love dressing their kids in Children's Place, Gymboree, Old Navy, Baby Gap, and all the other fun and cutesie stores?  I wish I had all the money in the world to just walk in to one of those stores, buy a whole seasons' wardrobe for Olivia and not think twice about the price tag.  The unfortunate truth is that will probably never happen.  But I've found a pretty neat alternative.  Consignment sales!!  I know I've mentioned them before.  I am seriously obsessed.  They happen twice a year and I try to wait patiently.

This time even more so that in times past.  When you have a baby shower, you are gifted with all sorts of clothes.  The baby arrives and so do more gifted clothes.  If you are lucky like me, you may get some great hand me downs from a friend too.  Well, that got us through until now.  I've supplemented from finds at the consignment sales here and there, but I haven't had to do any major shopping.  Until now...  We are about a month away from spring here in Texas and Olivia's wardrobe is all fall and winter.  I purposely haven't been buying because I didn't know what size she's in.  But now, as I have a closet of sweaters and long sleeve shirts, I'm having a little bit of anxiety.  The sales are twice an year and are for the next two upcoming seasons.  I am having to buy her entire spring and summer wardrobe.  Here in Texas, that's basically mid March to early November!

So last Thursday I hit my first sale of the season.  It was one I had never been to before, but someone was advertising for it on the facebook consignment pages that I frequent.  I figured I'd give it a try.  It was free to get in (some charge) and kids were welcome (some only let you bring kids during certain times).  I figured I didn't have anything to lose.
And I left with all of that!  The most expensive outfit was the "jean skirt" and tank top.  It's from Children's Place and it was $4.  See that pink and orange dress?  Old Navy for $1. LOVE it!  Normally orange isn't my thing, but that 3 piece outfit is from Children's Place and it was $2!  I figured even if she only wore one part of the outfit, it would still be worth it!  I wasn't "in love" with that bathing suit, but it was cute enough for $1. That white embroidered tank and shorts--$1 each, both Children's Place.  They are so cute!  I was able to try most of it on Olivia when we got home.  There are two pieces that aren't going to make it through the whole season, but the rest fit pretty well.  Even if she doesn't wear it all season (or the orange tank probably won't be worn at all because it's tight), I can re-sell them for more than I paid!  I learned from the cheap shopping trip what size to focus on for the upcoming sales.  I also realized once I got home that out of the 13 items (some were paired together), 9 came from the same seller.  That ended up being to my advantage I think, because she had such great prices.  I got everything pictured above for $25.  That's with our ridiculous 8.25% sales tax included.  Not bad, huh?  That's like ONE outfit at most stores.

Then on Sunday I went to my second sale of the season.  It's my least favorite, but I thought that if I walked out with even one or two buys, then it was worth it.  There was actually more there than in times past.  It's suppose to be "designer" clothing too.  I could have bought a ton more, but after paying $1 and $2 for items, I was having a hard time justifying $8 and $10 (used!)dresses.  Even if they were from the Gap.  I knew I had a few (better priced) sales coming up at the end of the week, so I tried to be choosy.
I got all the above for about $40 (tax included).  Even though the prices were higher at this sale, that still averages out to about $4 an outfit.  Most were Old Navy.  A few are brands I'm not familiar with.  The two in the bottom right are swim suits.  She is set now.  The green one was my splurge.  It was $8, BUT it's Gymboree and it still has the tags on and the plastic pieces attaching the top to the bottom.  A brand new Gymboree swim suit for $8?! Yes, please.  I wasn't able to try these on Olivia yet, but they are all 2T and some are 3T so they should fit.  Some might bet too big at first.

I have another sale that I am going to on Friday morning.  Then, my all time favorite sale is Saturday night.  It's the biggest one.  It's run by two Christian women. The prices are fair, they are meticulous about only allowing well taken care of pieces, and the selection is huge.  I really wanted to volunteer, so that I could shop a pre-sale.  I couldn't commit to it because of Michael's second job.  Luckily, my friend is consigning a few things, so we get to shop slightly early.  It was so important to me, that I made Michael make sure he would be home (no kids allowed to pre-sales) so that I could go.  I can't wait to see what kind of bargains I will find!  I'll be sure to share with you. :)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Have I Mentioned...

... that I love Thirty-One?!  Well, I do.  I am so blessed by the people and the company every time I attend an event or talk with my up line!

We have bi-monthly meetings called Celebrate and Connect.  They are a time to get together, fellowship, hear exciting news and events, get a little training, connect with local consultants in your area, and have the opportunity to talk with those who are farther along in their business.  I am SO motivated every time I go.

I just attended one this last weekend.  I was able to hear from the very FIRST Thirty-One consultant EVER.  What a treat! 

Not only do we get to experience all of the things mentioned above, but Thirty-One gives their consultants an amenity just for showing up.

I got this ($55!!!) bag for FREE!
How awesome is that!?!
It's our pool/beach bag.  I am positive that I am going to get some great use out of it this summer!

It might just be part of the March special!  If you are a customer of mine, or would like to be, ask me how to join my closed Facebook group.  You can get all the inside scoop.

Also, we are doing a promotion right now for anyone who wants to sign up.
If you sign up anytime between now and April 1st, and sell $1000 in your first month, you'll get the money you paid for your kit back!

Oh--and FREE SHIPPING today only on orders of $100 or more.  Take advantage and get ready for Easter and you spring break trips!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Another carseat PSA

Someone posted this on the bump, and I simultaneously grinned and agreed.
Although, the sad part is that I wish I didn't have to.

So I figured I'd just give a few quick visuals to help anyone who is still confused.
While most of this is true regardless of the situation, check your car seat manual for specifics.

 I'm just not sure how anyone can argue with those statistics?!?!

This breaks it down pretty well.

Oh, and I know what some of you are thinking... or have heard others say.
"We didn't even have car seats and we're still alive."

True. But that doesn't mean others weren't as lucky.

Take that and put it aside though.  Say everyone in our generation who didn't grow up sitting in car seats survived crashes.  First, do you know what kind of cars were driven back then?  I'll refresh your memory. TANKS.  They were tanks. They are not comparable to the cars these days.  Second, life was slower.  People weren't (as)overwhelmed, (as)in a hurry, or (as) distracted.  Third, there were NO cell phones!!!!  I mean, that alone makes driving these days much more crazy. Much less all the other fancy devices cars have these days that take your eyes off the road.

It's your child.  Outside of the law saying rear facing until 1 and a car seat until 4 and 40 pounds, the decision will ultimately be on you.  I just hope you are making an informed one.  Not because I'm some car seat Nazi or think I'm "better than you" or am all knowing.  But because I want your child(ren) to be safe.

Hopefully this helped someone.

And, YES, Olivia is 20 months and still rear racing.  We hope to keep her that way until she reaches the 40 pound maximum that her car seat allows for rear facing.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

20 Months

20.  That's so close to 24. Sigh.  I was doing good until 18 months! :)  Now, each month just reminds me how old she's getting, and that she's going to be a big girl before we know it!  That makes me a little sad.

So I should have planned ahead and used all of the pictures from yesterday to fill up this post.  But.... I didn't.  So I'm just going to share these two random videos from a week ago and give a few highlights.

 Most of the stuff is the same as at 18 months.  Shockingly, she can still wear some of her 18 month clothes, but for the most part she's in 24 months.  Some are still too big to wear.  I'm buying 24 month/2T stuff for spring and summer and hoping they'll work!  I might pick up a few smaller 3T's.  She's still in size 5 diapers.  We desperately need to get her new shoes (on the agenda for this weekend!).  She's somewhere around a size 6....WIDE!

She goes to bed around 8 (give or take) and wakes up around 7.  She naps once a day and it's usually from 12:30 to 2:30.  Some days are a little off, but that's our  general schedule for now.

We recently added orange juice to her diet.  I was pretty dead set against ANY juice.  It doesn't matter how "healthy" it is, it's loaded with sugar and not great for the teeth.  However, she has to take that nasty iron fortified vitamin stuff and her doctor suggested hiding it in OJ.  One to hide the taste, and two because iron is absorbed better when combined with vitamin C.  She LOVES it. Loves. Loves. Loves.  Too bad for her, she only gets one small glass a day, and not even every day.  She'd probably drink the whole jug if I let her. :)

She loves her ABC's.  She says the word "alphabet" and points out words (on our shirts, on signs, on labels, etc) and says "ABCD!!".  She can sing ABCDEFG.  Then she stops.  If I sing and stop at P, she'll pick right back up at QRS.  She sometimes throws other ones in here and there, but those are what she's most consistent with.  She also sort of sings, "next time won't you sing with me" but it's more like "time with me". :)

She loves anything ABC related.  The quilt her Grandma made her... touch and feel flashcards her Grandma bought her... puzzles... books... DVD's.  You name it.

She also likes numbers, and has recently counted to 12.  Well, as long as the number 11 isn't important to you. ;)  One day about two weeks ago she counted to 10 out of the blue.  I had no idea she even knew how and I was a little shocked!  Thrilled, but shocked!  I told Michael about it.  She doesn't ever do anything on demand when you want her to (like getting it on video), so I had no clue when he'd get to hear it.  Well, the next morning while he was getting ready, she let him in on her little secret and counted from 1 to 10 again all by herself.  Since the she's added 12 in and sometimes skips numbers like 3 or 5.  It's definitely not solid, but we're getting there.  Just like the alphabet, if I count and stop, she'll pick up right where I left off.  Once again, I was a little impressed.

She likes colors and shapes and that is mostly from some of those dollar bin books that she got at Christmas.  She LOVES books.  She has more books than any toddler I have ever known and she reads them ALL.  Recently her Grandma got her a shape puzzle.  I put it on the ground and she immediately said "Shapes!" Then picked one up and I said, "Oval".  She looked over, grabbed the diamond and said, "Diamond".  I had no clue she knew diamond.  I mean, I've read her the shape book many times, but I didn't know it stuck.  That happens all the time.  For her sake, I hope she remains a quick learner who can retain information easily!

We had a  Word World Christmas DVD that was bought in the clearance bin her first Christmas.  She saw it this year and has since taken a liking to Word World.  She asks for it by name.

Of course, she's in love with Clifford.  More so the actual dog than the show or books.

She loves all facets of art that she's had the privilege of trying--coloring, do-a-dot, stamps, water colors, finger paints, stickers, etc.

She enjoys her baby doll, but she will also make do with any stuffed animal handy.  She loves them all.  In fact, on any given night there are at least 5 different stuffed animals in her bed.  She doesn't want a blanket or pillow, but if you try to take the elephant lovie or owl pillow out, she WILL notice.  She also sleeps with Clifford, a bear she got from my dad her first Christmas and a sheep she got from my mom this Christmas.  A mini Elmo and Mickey have also made their way in a time or too.  Oh heck, so has a white dog she has and a pink bunny. We have plenty of stuffed animals!!!! 

Feeding her is a gamble.  She is a typical toddler.  She will love something one day and then hate it the next.  She gets what she gets though, so if she chooses not to eat, then that is up to her.  No short order cook here!  Things she asks for by name (favorites) are: yogurt, applesauce, hummus, banana and crackers.

While she seems to be excelling cognitively, she's a little slower with the some of her more physical (gross motor) skills.  This has been the case since she was a baby.  She's the only one in her Little Gym class that can't hang from the bars.  She doesn't have great upper body strength, and the poor girl has a lot of weight to have to hold up.  The ironic thing is, it's her favorite thing to do.  Her teacher's words of consolation to me were, "But she's very verbal!"  Nice!  She isn't a climber either.  I mean, so can climb.  She just doesn't.  She doesn't jump off things either.  I guess maybe because she's more cautious?  Anyway, it's something we're going to keep an eye on and try to encourage the best we can.

She is very orderly.  This has become apparent to others in her Little Gym class.  She's very deliberate about putting things away, taking her time, and liking things "just right".  Her teacher jokes that she's "OCD like mommy."  I don't know about that, but I don't think being orderly is a bad quality.  Michael is all for it as well. :)

She is a lot of fun.  She cracks me up DAILY.  She is sweet, affectionate, happy, observant, calm, thoughtful, and fun.  She has started the toddler tantrums here and there, and she does try my patience sometimes, but over all I think she's a pretty easy kid.  I love that she's mine. Tantrums and all.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Photo Dump Friday

The little fashionista leaving MOPS with the beloved "butterfly for mama!"

"Painting" with water... she was so proud to have full access to the water. :)

Ha! Her face! I pulled an old toy down from the closet and it became a "new toy" for a good thirty minutes!

She loves to "hang" from the bars at TLG.  She's not quite strong enough to hold her body weight though.

Worn out!

Aww... Michael got tired and was taking a nap.  Olivia just snuggled right up to work on her puzzle.

CHEESING!!!!!!  She cracks herself up.  She says, "I'm funny" or "too funny" or "so funny" and then tucks her chin in and does this crazy laugh.  She is a riot!

Although, in all honesty, this is what was happening twenty minutes before that picture....
She has taken to throwing herself on the floor for her tantrums and I almost never know what the heck she is crying about!!  Ready for this phase to be over...


One of the reasons I don't mind that Clifford comes everywhere with us.... when we get home, I throw him up to the top of the stairs.  Olivia thinks it's hilarious, and it motivates her to actually climb the stairs.  Otherwise she usually just sits at the bottom.

Just doing a little reading after getting her jammies on.

It finally happened.  It took almost 20 months, but she did fall asleep in the middle of eating her lunch.
She woke up in the middle of the night Tuesday and was crying.  It was the kind where I couldn't just ignore it and she'd lay down and go back to sleep.  This happens every once in a while. Bad dreams?  I don't know.  But we were up for over an hour.  Then she got up early on Wednesday and spent all morning at MOPS.  We got home later than her normal lunch time. I tried to make it quick.  She was literally talking about her lunch one minute and snoring the next.  Sweet girl.

This is one of my new favorite pictures of her!!  Why does she look twice as old as she is? :(
Make it stop!!!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Library and Lunch

These pictures are actually from a few weeks ago, but like I said, we pretty much had two broken laptops.  I couldn't get pictures loaded, so now I'm playing catch up.

Since Michael is working most nights now, we are trying to be more purposeful with our time.  He is home every Wednesday night with Olivia while I babysit at the church, so luckily the most she may have to go is two days without seeing him.  She usually sees him for about an hour in the morning, but that always depends on when she wakes up.

 So a few weeks ago, Olivia and I headed to the library by Michael's work.  
We participated in a morning story time.

We stayed and played for a bit.  Olivia went right to the table and chairs.
Michael and I are wanting to get her a little table and chairs.  She still sits in a W and we think this might help.  Plus, she seems to really enjoy them.

She got right to work reading.

She played with the puppets a little bit.  They were animals and each one had a cooresponding letter on it's tummy.  She carried around the octopus.

Chilling with her puppets.

After that we headed to meet Michael for lunch.
We were going to meet at a park and have a picnic, but it was rainy.
Plan B was to meet at McDonald's.  I packed Olivia a lunch and Michael and I ate off the dollar menu.  Super healthy! :)  We chose McDonald's because of the play place.  Michael gets an hour lunch and we wanted him to be able to hang out with Olivia for as long as possible and have it be fun.
He's a trooper and took her through the play place two times.

I love my little family. :)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Felt Color Mittens

Even though the teacher in me could totally come up with daily lesson plans for Olivia... I do not.  I try to let her be the little toddler she is.  I focus on having her "learn" while playing, which is pretty easy to do.  I also try to reinforce the things she shows interest in.  (Yes, Kathi.  How very Montessori of me, huh?! :)

While she still loves animals, her interests lately have switched to colors, shapes, numbers and letters.  I realize that sounds like a list from a preschool lesson plan, but I assure you that they really are her interests.

So, a few weeks ago I made her a felt mitten matching game.  I use the word "game" loosely, because I didn't figure she'd understand the concept of matching.  I did know that she would enjoy the activity, and she did.

I showed her how to match a few.  Really, my focus was just on talking about the color names.

At the time, she only knew 2 or 3 colors and they weren't 100%.

She knew black and pink.  She called blue, "boppa" and orange, "orange juice".

This is her telling me that pink is my favorite. :)

We are still working on colors.
She is pretty solid on red, orange, pink, black and white.
She gets green and purple right sporadically.
She knows the word blue, but she tends to call in boppa more often than not.
Yellow was one of the first color words she used.  She use to call everything yellow.  Now, she rarely says yellow, so we are working on that one.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Family Fun Day at the Zoo

Every year the Dallas Zoo does $5 admission for the month of January and February.  The marketing tag line is something like "Cool weather. Hot prices."  Luckily for us, the weather isn't too bad during this time.  This is our second year in a row taking advantage of these prices.  Michael and I were both super excited to take our animal loving girl to check out all the zoo had to offer and to see it and experience it through her eyes.

In order to accommodate her nap schedule and  my afternoon work schedule, we made sure to arrive right as the doors were opening at 9 AM.  This was great, because there were hardly any people and the weather was still a little cooler (high 40's/low 50's).  That's always the best time to get animal participation!  (It was 70 degrees by the time we left a little after noon... which is why Michael is in shorts.)
Olivia checking out the penguins.

How tall are you?

She enjoyed the statues just as much as the real thing. :)

How cool is that?  We were watching for a minute or two and he turned and looked right at Olivia.
She said, "Oh boy! Big gorilla!" :)

Looking for lemurs

We made sure to attend the predator encounter.  They basically do some of their training with the lions right in front of the viewing area at a certain time.  They don't make the lions come, but they do use treats for rewards so the lions usually cooperate.  They practice skills they need them to do in order to draw blood (from their tail) and give them vaccines, etc.
After it was over, we walked around and saw a few other animals.  As we were passing by the lions later, one of them started roaring.  It roared a lot. This doesn't happen every time you go to the zoo, and it's one of Michael's favorite things, so he was pretty pleased.

One of the things that I do love about the Dallas Zoo is that you can feed the giraffes.  Of course, they way over charge you for some lettuce, but it is cool nonetheless.  Olivia loved it!
 "Bebras!!"... and more giraffes.

We saw the elephants multiple times.  They are on of Olivia's favorite.

After seeing all of her favorites (and more), we headed to the Children's section.
We went into the barn and saw a few horses, some fat bunnies, an owl and some pigs.
This is when Olivia turned around after hearing the pig oink.  It went something like, "jigga jigga big pig oink jigga jigga". :)

More shock over the real live oinking pig. 

"Fish! Glub, glub. Fish! Glub, glub."

Feeding and then petting the goats

Trying to feed the birds.  They weren't too interested in us.

Our last stop was the carousel.
Twins, anyone?

It started moving and she got excited.
She was saying, "Elephant... up down...jigga jigga (seriously.  this is what her "filler" words sound like)... a horsey... Oh, Boppa! Oh, Mama...Elephant, up down up down...jigga jigga..." 

It was a great day!