Tuesday 5 April 2016

Toddler Survival List

Toddler life is never boring! There are so many ways to spend your time and money when you have a toddler in your life. Think of all the products and toys for toddlers. Some are great, but others are a waste of  money.  In my experience, simple and cheap is often the best! 

Here are my top 15 things for surviving life with a toddler!  

1. Sandra Boynton Bedtime books - Actually, Sandra Boynton works any time of the day. You can't go wrong with her books. A bit of a rhyme, lot of rhythm, and plenty of giggles and actions. Our nighttime favourites are "The Going to Bed Book" and "Pajama Time." They never get old! If I'm being totally honest, I ask to read them, if he doesn't. Bonus points for our daytime favourites: "The Birthday Monsters,"  Red Shirt, Green Shirt," and "Blue Hat, Green Hat." Little C has been having a lot of fun making up actions and dances to go along with the stories lately.  

2. Ikea plates, bowls, and glasses - We don't have a local Ikea, but I picked up sets of these on a whim when making an end of trip. They are easy to clean in the dishwasher, unbreakable and the perfect size. I love the colours and sometimes use them myself! Ours are getting a little old now and a little scratched, so I only wish I had picked up extra sets!

3. Crayola Washable Crayons - Crayola products are awesome, but their washable crayons are magical. Seriously. They will wipe off of anything - floors, walls, tables, couches, windows, or even clothes! With just a drop of water and very little effort, all crayon marks disappear, like magic.

4. Bubbles! Bubbles are smile and giggle makers. Bubbles outside, in the summertime, are always fun, but they can also help on a boring wintery day. Blow some bubbles when in the tub or put out a blanket in the living room, to keep the floor from getting slippery, and have a bubble party. It's good for at least 10 minutes, which is pretty good in the life of a toddler! We got this great no spill "Fubbles" container recently, and although C found a way to spill a little, it's not nearly as disastrous as a big bottle of bubbles!

5. Netflix - We really try to limit screen time, but sometimes you just need time to do the dishes, use the bathroom, take a shower, make supper, or just take a breath! Netflix is perfect. I can let him watch a 20 minute program, and there is so much to choose from! As a bonus, I don't have to worry about what comes on during commercial breaks, because there aren't any! His current favourites are Paw Patrol and Chuggington. Full House and Fuller House are some family favourites.

C's got some new dance moves!

6. Music - music is great to have on in the background while playing. I have a Bose system that makes it easy to play music from our phones. Little C loves to dance, so music is always a good source of entertainment, for him and us!

10. Stickers - Stickers make for a fun time. You do have to be willing to peel them off everything in sight - floors, couch, dog, yourself, but they provide lots of fun. C's favourite way to get stickers right now are in books. He has these great little Disney's Cars books with four pages of stickers inside them. The stickers included seem to peel easily, which is good news for parents!

11.  Melissa & Doug - I don't know who Melissa and Doug are, but I'd love to give them a hug. They make the most amazing toys. They can be a bit pricey, but I always watch for sales or the shelves of Winners/Homesense. I love how open-ended they are, so they can be used for lots of social and pretend play.  

12.  Pinterest & Dollarstore Art Supplies - My little guy is crazy for art, so we go through a lot of crayons, paint, paper, and playdoh. Pinterest has so many ideas for cheap art projects for toddlers. Here is a recent project that we made with some masking tape, a $3 canvas, and some paint:
13. Playgrounds - Even though the playground near my house is awful, Little C loves it. Running, sand, sliding, rocks, swinging, dirt... It's all fun. There are some awesome playgrounds within driving distance of our house that we take advantage of from Spring to Fall. To him, a trip to a free playground is just as good as an expensive day trip. Add in some snacks, and it's a full afternoon of (affordable) fun. 

14. Library and Book Store - On a rainy day, there's nothing better than a good book. For toddlers, there's nothing better than the library or book store. It's a great way to find some new reads and hang out with some new friends. The children's section of indigo is always fun, and there is always new and exciting activities going on at the library. They offer great toddler programs, which I'm going to start taking better advantage of.

15. Coffee - This one isn't so much for the toddler as it is for the toddler-wranglers.  You don't know tired until you've spent a day chasing a toddler! A good tip is to invest in a good insulated travel mug. You don't have to worry about spills or having to continually re-heat that cup that you never really had a chance to finish.

That's my top 15. What are your must-haves for life with a toddler?

Monday 4 April 2016

My New Favourite Word

My new favourite word is, "Go!"

Random, right? Well, maybe not so random. You see, my son is a late talker. Or maybe the correct thing to say is that he has a speech delay. I don't think I'd consider him non-verbal.  He has lots to say. Honestly, I've been to so many "experts," I don't know what to call it.

Bottom line? My awesome, loveable, funny, adventurous, oh so cute, busy boy doesn't say a lot. At least not in English. 

My son is almost 2 1/2. He hit all of his milestones early, with the exception of those related to communication. He has always understood language very well, and has found ways to communicate. He points, leads, gestures. We know what he wants and needs.  

I have always been a little concerned with his speech, but also recognized that he surpassed a lot of other milestones, and figured it would come. Also, his father was a late talker. At his 18 month assessment, we referred him to a local speech program. Four months later, we got into an assessment, and was matched with a Speech Language Pathologist. It's been 7 months since we started seeing a SLP and we've definitely seen improvement, but it is slow. 

A little over a week ago, everything changed. He said his first real word: GO!

We say, "Ready?... Steady..." and he says, "Go!!!" It gets clearer all the time, and he uses it in new contexts all the time. Of course, we set him up with situations to practice all the time. Empty aisle at the supermarket? Quiet parking lot? Stairs to bounce down? I say, "Ready?" He screams, "Go!" And away we go. It's like music to my ears. He is so proud of himself. 

We've been seeing
progress over the past 7 months, but this is big. So, we'll keep making animal sounds, practice taking turns, play mirror to copy each other, use picture prompts, and pair sign language with verbal language.  We'll build his language skills, even though his speech is delayed. He can identify colours, animals, objects, and follows directions well (well, when his little two-year old mind wants to!) and he loves to learn!

The more I learn, the more I realize that every child is unique. My Little C isn't your Little A. And that's not a bad thing. Every child develops in their own way, with their own strengths and difficulties. It's  hard not to compare, but really, you can't compare. Milestones aren't an exact science.

That's not to say that I take a "wait and see" approach, but I have to remember that learning takes time and not to get discouraged. We'll get help with anything that he needs, and have fun with his strengths while supporting and improving areas that aren't as strong.

We'll keep working and having fun while we are.
Ready... steady... Go!

Blueberry Pie and A Beautiful Drive!

Yesterday, I went for a drive all by myself. I feel like this shouldn't be news, but usually I have C in tow, and although he makes road...