Disney World – with the kiddos

Happy New Year everyone! It’s been a while since I’ve written a post and I’ve really been itching to write about our first trip to Disney World with the kiddos! I wrote a really long one but decided I may just have to write about the highlights because it was looooooooong!

But before that, I just wanted to thank everyone who has followed me on my blogging journey. It’s been hard coming up with content because I get caught up with what I think people may want to hear instead of focusing on writing about what I feel like writing about. So this year, my goal is just to write. Without thinking about what may be a “hit” or what may start to “trend.”

I started blogging because I wanted to share my adventures as a mom, but also to share my adventures as an individual. If it happens to put a smile on someone’s face, then all the better! So here’s to 2019!! Looking forward to writing more about things that give me joy! Thanks again for the follow!!

Disney World

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This past Christmas, my family and I went to Florida for our annual Christmas family reunion. Since this is the first time our little ones have been to Florida, A and I decided to suck it up and go to Disney World! What an adventure for sure! Here are some of the highlights that happened during out trip there!

JK it wasn’t that bad… haha

Animal Kingdom

Can I just say that Disney World is a machine?! The way everything works from the trams that take you to the parks and back to the parking lots, to the staff that notices the small things and make sure that you feel special. No wonder people call it “the happiest place on earth!”

OK! So yes, Animal Kingdom. This is where A and I went “solo” with our little family. Everyone else went to Universal and we took E and baby bro (let’s call him J from now on) here because we know they love animals. We were not disappointed!

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They loved the shows especially The Lion King and Finding Nemo. I mean who knew a 2 year old can sit still in awe for a whole 35 minutes? J enjoyed the shows so much he kept yelling “more” after each show we went to.

Lion King

Guys, legit, go here. E and J were staring open-mouthed the whole entire time. It’s basically songs from the movie with lots of tumbling and jumping and dancing! Here is J… who even taught him how to clap like that?!?

Pandora

We didn’t do the Flight of the Avatar – couldn’t get a fast pass to it and then the line was like 4 hours long! But we were able to go on the Navi’i River ride. Reviews showed that adults didn’t really like it, but the kids loved it so much! A boat ride in a cave with lots of glowing lights? Yes please!

We also indulged in the Night Blossom Drink! One of my good friends recommended I try it, so I did and I heart it. The kids loved it too. Limeade, apple, and pear flavors with popping passion fruit flavored bubbles? Yasssss! It also makes for a great insta pic… just saying.. if you’re into that…

Finding Nemo

It’s the whole movie in 35 minutes. Loved it. E got a little scared of the shark scene… but J was all about everything. I can’t believe this boy sat through the whole thing. Ok Disney, I see you.

My Thoughts on Animal Kingdom

It’s definitely a lot harder to get around with kiddos. Yes, bring them strollers. It’s super helpful. Also, note to self, E and J both have major FOMOs and don’t want to miss out on anything. So yes, J will forego his nap… but also know he will break down as soon as you get home… it was a rough night.

Magic Kingdom

I love this place! I LOVE THIS PLACE! If E and J weren’t with me, I would still love this place. Here is where E got her fill of princesses while also being treated like a princess. She was one happy kid. J didn’t nap his usual 1-3 pm but fell asleep during dinner and then woke up hangry… yayyyyy! This was also the day that 15 of our family members joined our family of 4 to enjoy the park together!

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Ok Disney… I see you and your awesome lights!!

The Rides

We rode a few rides – Buzz Light Year, Winnie the Pooh, the Carousel, Peter Pan’s flight, and of course It’s a Small World (my mom’s fave). The fast pass saved us from waiting too long in a few of the lines. This is when 19 of us would go through the fast pass lanes to enjoy the rides together. I loved it! It reminded me of when I was little and our whole family would wait in line together. This is when the cousins would either bond or get into fights depending on the mood. Luckily, there was no fighting this time around.

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Meeting the Princesses

There was a portion of the day where my mom, A, E and J broke off from the whole family, so E could finally meet the princesses. People… let me tell you! If your kid wants to meet a certain princess, make sure you stand in the correct line! Because we waited for an hour to meet Rapunzel, only to find out we were in the Esmeralda and Jasmine line!! Thankfully E didn’t know any better and thought we were just gonna get in another line again after meeting Esmeralda and Jasmine.

Little did she know that her mother had to pretty much beg the fast-pass people for the Rapunzel line. I think it helped that E was all decked out in her Rapunzel outfit – hair and all, that they kindly let us through the fast pass lane (especially since no one was there). E was speechless as Rapunzel tried to talk to her, but her smile said it all – her dream had come true. My heart melted when I saw that.

Enchanting Stories With Belle

Ok guys, I had to single this one out. There wasn’t a long wait for this one and honestly, I thought it was going to be a total dud… but guys, if you ever have a chance to take your kiddos here… do so. They get the kids involved and they get an up close and personal time with Belle!

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I loved it because E and J volunteered to be in the little story… this momma was so proud that J didn’t cry because the whole trip, he only wanted to be with me. So I was so proud to see him up there. I really think it’s because E was up there and he saw that she was having fun so he’s like “ok me too.” And my personal favorite, A, got picked to be a knight. The last person that would volunteer for anything that would make him be in the spotlight… but he did it for the kiddos and I loved it so much I had to write separately about it.

That Dole Whip

Ummm, O (my friend) is the best. She recommended this and I wonder why of all the years I’ve been to Disney when I was younger, I have never had it before. Guys, get it. It’s legit. It’s basically soft serve pineapple ice cream. And if you think it’s too tarty, get it mixed with vanilla ice cream and you’re good to go. Legit. Get it!

My Final Thoughts on Magic Kingdom

I can’t even. What can I say? I love this place. The shows were great! Beware of Mickey’s Philharmonic though – it could scare a 2 year old because of the loud cymbal sounds. Speaking from experience of course. Lol.. but otherwise, the shows were great and over the top and awesome. I loved them all.

Yes, it’s a lot harder with the kiddos. But I can tell that they really enjoyed it and if you can take them being whiny and cranky from lack of sleep/tiredness, then I really think you ought to try it.

Finally…

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Ok, that was longer than I thought it would be… but trust, it was way longer. LOL.

When I was a kid, I totally enjoyed all these rides and shows and stuff. But truly, I only remember snippets of it. As a mom, I don’t even remember what happened in any of the rides or the shows… what I do remember are E and J’s faces – their smiles, their awe, and their cheering. I guess that’s what my mom remembers when she took us when we were younger. I think that because of the way her face lit up every time E and J were awed of something. And I know that because of the way I felt when I saw their faces light up.

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So yes, A and I were exhausted… but we both agreed that the best part of that trip, was watching E and J. We also agreed that we would have to go again without the kids so we can enjoy it for ourselves… hahaha.. just keepin’ it real yo! Disney is not just for kids ok??

Thanks for reading and have a great rest of the day!!

 

(all gifs are from giphy.com)

Gift-giving Guide (Guest Blogger)

Well hello there everyone! I haven’t published anything in a while because I’ve been focusing a lot on my health lately – mental and physical. And that takes up so much time that blogging has been in the background lately. But fear not! I have a guest blogger who wants to remain anonymous save for her first name – Linda. And she’s one of the best gift givers I’ve known. So here it is folks! A gift-giving guide for the upcoming holidays!
Disclaimer, I am NOT affiliated nor am I sponsored by any products mentioned here. These are simply suggestions of my awesome gift-giving friend.

Here we go!

Ready, set, go! Take it away, Linda!
So over the years, friends have told me that I’m a “good” gift giver. That’s a great compliment! But to be honest, ever since I became a mom, my gift-giving skills have taken a huge dive. I have less time, shopping with an infant/toddler is so incredibly hard, and I hardly remember anything these days!

Tips

Here, I’ll provide some tips and offer some gift suggestions.
The key thing to remember when shopping is that you’re shopping for the recipient, not for yourself. Even though it’s super easy to buy multiples of whatever you need or want, or to go to your favorite store, resist! You’re simply crossing an item off your to-do list, which hey, I totally understand! I’m guilty, too. But if you’re looking to perfect the art of gift-giving during the upcoming holidays, read on.
The second thing to remember is to pay attention (!!) whenever you hang out or chat with the person. Readily recounting conversations has helped me the most when I need to shop for someone. Did your friend gush about a new brand or product she tried? Remember it! Did she mention that she has a new job and needs to look for more professional clothing? There ya go! Remembering these kinds of comments and conversations will help you narrow down which store you need to visit. You can even jot down notes in your smartphone as they occur throughout the year.

Word of Caution

And a word of caution about gift cards. Only buy them if: 1) you know the person shops here or eats there, and 2) this store or restaurant is physically located near the person’s home or workplace. You can’t always rely on online redemption, unless it’s an online-only store like Amazon. Getting someone to try something new through a gift certificate is risky, unless you know for a fact that this person loves to try new things and check out different places. We tend to be creatures of habit, and a gift card won’t change that.
Also, people tend to be either really easy or really hard to shop for… if a person is difficult, just accept that fact and make the most out of it. For the difficult ones, or people you don’t know very well, consider questions like:
  • What kind of things do they buy for themselves and where? Look at the person. How do they dress? Do they wear makeup or cologne?
  • What’s something they like to eat or could cook with, if he or she cooks? Edible gifts (ex. baked goods, high quality olive oil, local honey, expensive coffee beans) are easier for the receiver to use or re-gift (let’s be honest!) compared to clothes and accessories.
  • Could you just donate to a charity in his/her name?

Gifts for the ladies or fellas

I think that by your mid- to late-twenties, most women and men have a staple of brands and products they use regularly. Your best bet is to stick with these brands or products. It might not be the most creative, but your gift is more likely to be appreciated and used. I love me some Madewell. You could give me the exact same style of sweater from the Gap, but if it says Madewell, my heart skips an extra beat. I don’t know why, it just does.
If the person has hobbies, that’s super easy to mine for ideas. But if they don’t have hobbies, think about when they were younger, or where they got married or honeymooned… nostalgic gifts can be powerful. Or think about what they studied in college, a hopeful, naive time in life where you were more likely to pursue your actual interests. Perhaps there’s a gift that meshes with that area or skill set. What would make this person smile? That’s the response you want when they see your gift.
If you have a great idea but it’s out of your price range, consider asking another friend or relative if they want to chip in for a group gift. If you’re close enough, I’m sure these other people will love that they don’t need to go through the trouble of finding and purchasing a gift.

Gifts for children

When buying gifts for babies and children, don’t forget about the parents (would they disapprove?), and whether they live in a small apartment or large house. Bulky gifts are really hard to store or clean. Consider items that a parent already needs to buy… you would do mom & dad a favor by gifting something they already need, like food items (a simple box of their favorite cereal!) or gear their child may need in the upcoming year (sports equipment, shoes in the next size, etc.). It’s super hard to resist the “cute” factor in a toy or outfit, but think how practical is that gift? A family pass to a local zoo or children’s museum may be better use of your money, and bonus points if you offer to take the children to the zoo/museum yourself!

Help! I need a gift, stat.

Gift-guides abound this time of year. But these can be hard to tailor for you specific recipient. If all the above fails, and you just need an idea, any idea, here’s a short list:

That’s it!

And that’s it you guys! Hope you guys enjoyed this gift-giving guide by my good friend. Thank you Linda for taking time to blog for me! Thanks everyone for reading and have a great rest of the day!

(all gifs are from giphy.com)

Badlands Playspace – Exploring Maryland

So here’s my first blog for my “Exploring Maryland” Series! And what better way to start off this series than something for parents and their kids! I’m talkin’ about Badlands Playspace! For the really hot days or the rainy days, this is the place to go to when you’re trying to get your kids out of the house! An indoor playground with built in activities for the kiddos? Yes please!

Disclaimer: This is NOT a sponsored post nor am I affiliated with Badlands Playspace. This is literally just an honest to goodness review on this facility.

What is Badlands Playspace?

According to their website, Badlands Playspace is an indoor playground inspired by nature. It’s a 30,000 square foot facility that provides many activities for kids and for the parents to “relax in the café while the kids explore the open play area, climb the mountain, or tinker with a new tool.”

Pros and Cons

Before I go into the details, I may as well write the pros and cons in the beginning in case you don’t want to see all the details.

Pros:

  • Large play area
  • Toddler times during the fall so the larger kids don’t topple the little ones over
  • Different activities during the day to keep toddlers interested
  • Butterfly room – kids can explore and get real close to real butterflies!
  • Workshop room – for kids who don’t want to run around, there are many activities in the workshop
  • Complimentary Coffee/Water

Cons:

  • This can get pretty pricey
  • The website states that they do not allow outside food

Badlands Playspace

Before you go

Go online, fill out a waiver for each kid and then block out the time of when you’d like to go. Each admission gives you 2 hours of play, or if you’re a member, 3 hours of play.

The Space

Badlands Playspace is located on Randolph Rd in Rockville, MD. When you enter the facility, you can see that it’s a huge open space which is nice because it makes it seem like a very welcoming environment.

If you’ve already reserved your spot online before coming, you just go up to the counter and tell them the names of your children. They will ask if you’ve been there before and if you haven’t, they will ask if you’ve signed a waiver for your children (also online).

If you haven’t done any of those before coming, you can do so at the kiosk. They have 5-6 computers so you can register your children and sign the waiver. I do recommend registering your kids online and signing the waiver. It helps make things faster when you check in and going online shows you how crowded the space is and sometimes they do limit the number of kids at a time.

Open Playspace

The main area of Badlands Playspace is an open space that has tunnels and slides where kids can climb up a fake mountain to go down the slide. The only thing is, if you’re sitting in the cafe, you will not be able to see your kids if they’re on the other side of the mountain.

Toddler Space

Badlands Playspace really try to accommodate different ages. So they have a smaller space for toddlers so that they won’t get run over by the bigger kids. It’s right next to the cafe, so the parents can sit and “relax” while their toddler runs around this little space. Fair warning though. There are steps for climbing, so you won’t totally be relaxed if your little ones like climbing.

This is also one area where they come and have mini dance parties, which is nice so your kiddos can dance around while you get maybe a 5-10 minute break sitting at the cafe.

Workshop

If your kiddo is not into active play, there is a workshop for them where they can look at some pets that they have, play legos, and do other non-running activities. It also has huge windows that overlooks the small butterfly room so your kids can also take a look without going into the butterfly room itself.

Cafe

Coffee is complimentary! So is water! So that’s good. However, they do not allow outside food since they do sell food at the cafe. I’m not sure how much they enforce it. But I’m not a huge risk taker so I would bring some goldfish and water/milk for my kids and we eat on the way to Badlands Playspace and then right after we leave. To be honest, the kids are too busy playing anyway, so they don’t ask for food until we get into the car.

 

Birthday rooms

I don’t have great pictures of these rooms, but basically, you can host your kids’ birthday parties here and they set up your own room for the parties. They provide the food but I believe you can bring your own cake.

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Activities

Badlands Playspace also has tons of activities for toddlers this fall! Toddler times are Tuesdays-Thursdays from 10am-1pm. They have a yoga room where your kiddos can follow a yoga video. They also have an activities coordinator that help your children socialize with other kids.

There’s also a small butterfly room that is pretty cool! Your kids can take a closer look at butterflies as they fly around the room filled with plants and flowers.

 

Membership

Ok so let’s do the numbers. For general admission without membership, kids that are 3+ years old, it’s $20, 2-3 year olds are $12.50, adults are $5 each, and babies 0-12 months are free.

When you get the membership ($20/month for 1 kid, $30/month for 2 kids, $35/month for 3 kids or more), the general admission will be 50%, the adults are free, 3 hours of play (instead of 2 hours for non members), 20% discount at the cafe, and a free guest pass (1 kid and an adult) if you visit 3 times a month.

Is it Worth it?

Well, for one kid (3+ years old), it’s $25-30 per visit without a membership (depending on how many adults come). With a membership, it’s $10 per visit. So if you go twice a month, you’ve already made it worth it ($50-60 vs. $40).

For two kids (3+ years old), it’s $45-$50 per visit without a membership. With a membership, it’s $20 per visit. So if you go at least twice a month, you’ve already made up the difference ($90-$100 vs. $70).

So yes, I’d say it’s pretty worth it if you like the place =).

Bottom Line

Because of the weather these days, if your kids love the playground, this is a great place to go to. Yes, it’s a little expensive compared to free outdoor playgrounds. However, Badlands Playspace is really great to visit at least once. Save it for the days when you just need to get your kids out of the house if you must, but definitely give it a shot and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed =).

Good for parents? Yes
Good for kids? Yes
Good for the wallet? Ehhh? lol

Thanks for reading and have a great rest of the day!

 

(all gifs are from giphy.com)

Baby Registry List Must Haves

There are already so many articles out there about baby registry must haves. However, I wanted to write one myself and break it into what you really need, what you may need, and what you don’t need but may want. I’m gonna try to be ambitious here and write at what age do I think these items are needed… we shall see how it goes!

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that I have recommended. No pressure. You do you and pick your own brands. Hopefully, these will just give you a head start in your research.

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Must-Haves

These are the items that I feel like I needed to have when Ella came into our lives. Let me tell you! When I was pregnant, I just registered for everything! Unfortunately, some of the things I bought, I didn’t even use =(. So hopefully this will help you build your must have baby registry.

Summary:

Click on each one or scroll down for details =). In no particular order…

  1. Car Seat
  2. Stroller
  3. Crib/Sleeper
  4. Diapers
  5. Diaper Bags
  6. Swaddles/Onesies
  7. Burp Cloths/Bibs
  8. Baby Bath Essentials
  9. Baby First Aid
  10. Breast Pump/Nipple Cream
  11. High Chairs
  12. Nursing Cover
  13. Baby Bottles
  14. Books
  15. Rocking Chair or Glider

1. Car Seat (Newborn – 7-8 years old)

You can’t leave the hospital without it if you’re driving away in a car. I mean I don’t know if they really enforce it but that’s one of the first things they tell you – to make sure your car seat is installed correctly.

Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35 ($120) 

For infants to toddlers – 4 lbs to 35 lbs, up to 32″ tall. This is what we bought for both of our kids (Ella had the older version). At $120, it’s probably one of the cheapest ones that got great reviews. The seat itself weighs 7 lbs. It’s sturdy and definitely did and continues to do its job. This is NOT a convertible car seat so if that’s something you are interested in, keep reading. This one will probably last you until your baby turns 2, unless they’re taller or bigger. Both my babies were in the 95th percentile for their weight and they fit in this car seat until 2ish.

**Tip: If you have more than 1 car, I do suggest getting an extra car seat base. This way, you don’t need to keep re-installing the base whenever you need to use a different car. This link has the Graco Car Seat with the extra car seat.

Graco Nautilus 65 LX 3 in 1 ($160)

For toddlers to kids – 22 lbs to 100 lbs. This is what we got Ella and will probably use for Isaac. It is heavy and sturdy and I am confident that it will save my kids if ever we get in an accident. I would not recommend putting a 22 lbs baby in front facing seats. I would definitely wait as long as I can to transfer them here. Better safe than sorry. This baby will cost you $160.

Other Options for Car Seats

Since I haven’t bought these car seats, I’m only basing it off reviews that I’ve read or from friends who have these car seats.

Britax Boulevard ClickTight Convertible Car Seat: This one can be rear facing and then forward facing! The reviews seem really good on this one and it said that you can use it from infancy (5 lbs) to kids (65 lbs). This car seat will cost you $260.

Doona Infant Car Seat and Base: What’s cool about this one is that you don’t need a stroller because you take it out of the base and it unfolds and becomes a stroller! It’s esssspensive ($499), but my friend has this and it’s so convenient! It also looks cool… just saying. This car seat weighs 16 lbs and you can use it for babies weighing from 4 lbs to 35 lbs (and 32 inches in height).

Chicco KeyFit Infant Car Seat: This is the #1 rated car seat in the US for 2018. It’s for infants from 4 lbs to 30 lbs and up to 30 inches in height. It’s $200 but apparently it’s the best so if you that appeals to you, more power to you!

Back to “Must Have” List

2. Strollers (Newborn – 5 years old or however long you want your kid to sit in a stroller)

The stroller you pick should definitely be based on the lifestyle you have. If you like to run, I would recommend going with a running stroller. If you live in a place where there are many different types of terrain, I would suggest buying a stroller with bigger wheels in order for you to manage those terrains with ease. Maybe your main objective is to buy something inexpensive, pick one that will still be comfortable for you and your baby.

Graco Snugride Elite Stroller ($70)

This is what we bought for Ella and we used it for Isaac as well. This weighs 15.6 lbs, so think about that as you will need take it in and out of your trunk quite frequently. You can use this as long as your baby fits in your Graco car seat. Although now that Isaac is walking (he’s almost 2), we use it less because he pretty much walks with us or we use an umbrella stroller so we don’t have to lift the whole car seat onto the stroller.

This is not a running stroller. It’s also hard to maneuver in gravel or brick roads so keep that in mind before you buy this one.

I do believe they will discontinue this soon and will be replaced by this premium baby stroller ($112). They look the same to me from pictures but apparently it is lighter and can be folded with one hand. That sounds good to me!

Uppababy G-Lite Stroller ($165)

This is the newer version of what we bought Ella, which we are still using for Isaac when needed. He’s too heavy for me to lift out of the car with the car seat, so this is helpful for the long walks that we almost never take ;-). This weighs around 10 lbs and you can use this for kids up to 55 lbs.

Again, not a running stroller. It does maneuver better than the Graco Stroller above, but I think this is built best for flat surfaces.

Other Strollers

So we didn’t really buy any other strollers since I guess we don’t walk much. We did purchase Contours Options Elite Tandem Stroller ($340) when we had Isaac because I wanted a double stroller. However, since Isaac was born, we’ve really only used it a handful of times since it’s bulky and heavy (34 lbs). It comes in handy when you go out and you need to walk far, but honestly, with two kids, we haven’t tried to go anywhere that requires too much walking… except the zoo. The zoo is awesome… but i digress…

Here are other strollers that I’ve heard great things about but haven’t bought so I can’t fully review it for you.

Baby Jogger City Mini ($360): This weighs about 22.5 lbs. Woooo that is heeaavvvyyy! But that is because of the big wheels so that it can be easily maneuvered on different terrains. It’s one of the top rated strollers in 2018. Apparently, you can also put your car seats in here as well so that’s always a plus from when your baby is too small and have no head control yet. Although the name of this product has “jogger” in it, it’s supposedly not the best for jogging… yes… I read that somewhere and was blown. Why the name then?! Your guess is as good as mine! It’s good for the city though apparently, when you have to go through different terrains.

BOB Revolution Pro Stroller ($500): Now this is a running stroller! Apparently, it’s one of the best ones out there for 2018. This weighs a whopping 30.5 lbs and the only car seats its compatible with are BOB car seats or Britax car seats. It’s designed for all types of terrains. Since it is pretty heavy, they do recommend you use something else for errands other than running/jogging. If only I were a runner…

Britax B Agile Stroller ($180): This one is rated highly because it’s lightweight and does ok on different terrains. You can also fit a Britax carseat in it so that you don’t have to buy a different stroller solely for your car seat. It weighs about 18 lbs and can be folded easily. This seems like a good cheaper option.

Back to “Must Have” List

3. Place for Baby to Sleep In (Newborn until they grow out of it)

Ok, so although we did buy a crib before the baby came, we didn’t use it until Ella or Isaac were a few months old. We used a baby rocker instead because it was just more convenient for us. However, I still recommend getting a crib beforehand because you or your partner may not necessarily have the energy to put a crib together when you’re ready to transition your baby into the crib.

Cribs

We got our crib from Ikea… and it has been discontinued. So, here are a couple of the top rated ones that I’ve seen.

Gulliver Convertible Crib ($200):  Like most cribs, you can move the mattress (not included) up and down. When baby is 0 – 7 months, they aren’t able to move much, so it’s better for your back if the mattress is in the higher position. However, at around 8 – 10 months, babies may be able to pull themselves up to stand. So you want to lower the crib mattress to prevent them from falling out of the crib.

In addition, when they can climb out of the crib (this can be as early as 1 year old), it’ll probably be time to convert this crib into a toddler bed. This allows for you to take off one side of the crib so that you baby won’t fall from a high place when getting out of the crib. If you fear them falling, you can always buy side rails to make sure they don’t fall out of the bed.

DaVinci Kalani 4-in-1 Convertible Crib ($179): I mean this is even cheaper than the Gulliver and apparently it got best overall crib in 2018. This can be converted into a toddler bed as well and includes railings so that you don’t have to fear your child falling out. It also looks a little sleeker than the Gulliver so ummm, I may go for this one.

Mattress and Mattress Covers

Infant/Toddler mattress is different from other mattresses in that it’s firmer. This is to prevent SIDS from happening. There are plenty of different mattresses out there and what you choose depends on the crib that you choose.

The mattress covers will depend on the mattress that you choose. Make sure that it fits well with the mattress so that there is no wrinkling of the fabric. Just in case your baby turns over, the fitted sheet will not impede on their breathing.

Rocker (Newborn to 3-5 months)

Fisher Price Deluxe Rock and Play ($62): We used this for both Ella and Isaac. And we loved it. It’s so light at 8 lbs, I could easily carry it from one floor to another. We loved this so much because it can vibrate and almost mimic a car so it was easier for our babies to fall asleep without us rocking them. It’s also at an incline, so if our babies were ever stuffy, it was easier for them to sleep in an inclined position.

Keep in mind that all babies are different. We had a friend whose babies did not like the rocker so they gave us theirs which could automatically rock back and forth if you plug it in. What’s nice about this brand is that you can go from cheap to expensive depending on what you want.

4moms MamaRoo ($220): If I really wanted to splurge, I would get this. This is rated one of the best rockers in 2018. Why? Because it’s all high techy and stuff. It has 5 different movements that it can mimic, you can connect it to a bluetooth to control motion and sound, and you can adjust the seat recline. I mean, and it’s soooo pretty to look at as well. It does weigh 19 lbs so you won’t necessarily want to carry it from room to room so there’s that. But it’s really pretty.

Co-Sleepers/Travel cribs

DockATot Deluxe ($175): This seems like it’s trending in 2018. I’ve seen tons of reviews on it and it seems like this is a pretty cool co-sleeper. This particular one is for babies 0-8 months old, but they do make one for 9-36 months old as well. The small ones are about 4 lbs and the bigger ones are about 6.5 lbs. It’s breathable and therefore safe for the baby =)

Graco Pack n’ Play ($100): We’ve had this since Ella was born and we are still using it for Isaac. So it’s pretty sturdy and if you take care of it, it’ll last through at least 2 kids… maybe even more since our Pack n’ Play is still working well. This particular one has a newborn napper and a changing area. Like a crib, you can move the mattress up and down depending on if your baby can pull themselves up to standing. When the mattress is still in the higher position, the deluxe version has storage space underneath where you can put diapers, onesies, wipes, etc.

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4. Diapers (Newborn – 3/4/5 year old or until you potty train your kiddos)

Huggies ($30-$40): I don’t know why I like this brand more than other brands I’ve used. But feel free to peruse through Pampers and other brands. I hear Kirkland from Costco is great as well.

**Tip: When you’re at the hospital, get as much newborn diapers as you can since they grow out of it so fast. I had pretty big babies – they never fit the newborn diapers and they only stayed in size 1’s for like 1 week and a half.

Cloth Diapers ($8-$40): There are tons of brands so feel free to peruse! I didn’t use them but a have a few friends and family members who use them and they all said that once you get used to it, it’s pretty easy to use. Don’t forget fillers for the diapers as well!

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5. Diaper Bag (Newborn – whenever you want to get rid of it 😉

There is a plethora or diaper bags out there! Just make sure you pick one that is practical. One that can fit in what you need – diaper, wipes, bottles, milk, change of clothes, and other necessary items that will help you stay sane when you go out.

Lifecolor Diaper Bag ($40): This one is a pretty stylish backpack version of a diaper bag. It’s good to use this kinds of diaper bags because it’s better for your back if you’re carrying things and you don’t have to worry about any straps falling off your shoulder

Diaper Tote Bag ($35): This is a tote type of diaper bag. Lots of compartments for what you need if you don’t like the backpack version of diaper bags =)

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6. Swaddles and Onesies

Onesies are just nice because you don’t necessarily need a top and a bottom piece. They have ones without pant legs and ones with pant legs depending on the weather so it’s very versatile. There are so many to choose from but the cheaper ones that are still nice quality are from Carter’s and Old Navy.

Swaddles (Newborn – 4-6 months)

Swaddling is for helping babies sleep better because it until they are about 4-6 months, they have a reflex called the startle reflex. This will usually wake them while sleeping. However, when they are swaddled, their arms arms are firmly on their side and therefore prevents the jerky movement that could cause them to wake up.

I wasn’t sure if I should put this in must have or what you may need section. Some babies don’t like to be swaddled. But for us, these were life savers since both Ella and Isaac loved to be swaddled. If you do decide to swaddle, my favorite brand is the Halo Sleepsack ($22). It comes in cotton or fleece for the colder months. It uses velcro to keep them snug and really helped them sleep well.

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7. Burp Cloths and Bibs (Newborn – 3/4 years old)

Another one of those things where I wondered what section to put this in. But honestly, the burp cloths that are made nowadays are so soft that I would make this a must have if you have a baby with sensitive skin. These ($12) were the best seller in Amazon. The ones we have, my in laws gave to us and I’m not entirely sure where they are from so there you go =)

Bibs (Newborns – 3/4 years old)

Baby Bandana Drool Bibs ($20/8pack): These are all the rage these days. These are not what we had but I would’ve chosen these if I knew about them. They are just trendy and doesn’t look like a regular drool bib. Good for babies who are droolers or babies who are teething (newborns – 1-2 year olds)

Baby Bjorn Waterproof ($20/2pack): Good for babies starting at 4-6 months up to 3-4 years old when they get the hang of eating without making a mess. These are awesome because they have a pouch in the front to catch all the foods that your wonderful babies will spit out ;-). There are also other silicone bibs that offer the same type of spill protection like these ones.

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8. Baby’s Bath Essentials

Baby Bathtubs (Newborn – 1-2 year old)

This is good until you’re comfortable letting your baby sit or stand in a regular bathtub. This is also good not only for the baby but for your back if you can have it on a bath sink counter (make sure it’s not wobbly). This way, you’re not bending over too much to give your baby a bath.

The First Years Sure Comfort Deluxe Newborn to Toddler Tub ($20): We got the old version of this and it worked well for us! It has a mesh/net for when they are newborns and need more support. The bathtub can hold up to 25 lbs so you’re good to use it for a while.

Blooming Bath Lotus ($40): If you don’t have a big counter near your sink, this will fit right in your sink. It’s soft for the baby and is a good alternative for a baby bath tub. It is recommended for newborns to up to 6 months. By that time, your baby might start to roll or be too mobile to stay in the lotus.

Baby Shampoo/Soap

The soap/shampoo we use as adults may be too harsh for the baby’s skin. So it’s best to use baby soap/shampoo.

Aveeno Baby Wash & Shampoo For Hair and Body ($9/18 oz): This one is on the cheaper side but has worked well for both Ella and Isaac. Both have sensitive skin (eczema runs in the family) and they haven’t broken out into rashes or anything so I take that as a win. Now Isaac did have horrible cradle cap so the doctor recommended us to use a tiny amount of Head and Shoulders once a week to get rid of the dry scalp. It helped but I wouldn’t really recommend it to just anyone because it may irritate other baby’s skin. It’s best to ask the doctor what you should do or if you should just leave it alone.

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9. Baby’s First Aid (always)

Ok so really, what you need are a thermometer (rectal is best for babies),  emery board/nail clippers, and maybe medicine dispensers. You also may need aquaphor or some type or rash cream that will help if ever your baby gets diaper rash.

The First Years American Red Cross Baby Healthcare And Grooming Kit ($20): This has all of the things listed above and more (except for the aquaphor/rash cream.)

Aquaphor Baby Healing Ointment Advanced Therapy Skin Protectant ($11): This worked the best for Ella and Isaac’s diaper rash. Others prefer cream but this was a for sure way for the diaper rash to go away within a day or two.

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10. Breast Pump and Nip Cream (from when your child is born to until you want to stop)

If you plan to exclusively breast feed, you may not need this. But if you want to do breast feed and bottle feed, you definitely should have a breast pump. The nipple cream is also a must because it will help prevent nip cracks and whatnot. Yes, sometimes the boobies need all the help they can get!

Medela Pump In Style Advanced Breast Pump Backpack ($200): This worked really well for me and lasted me through two pregnancies. I liked the backpack as well because it frees up my hands for other things to carry.

Spectra Baby USA ($160): I have friends who use this and love this. They say it’s comfortable and it’s also very quiet as compared to other pumps.

**Tip: Sometimes insurance covers the cost of your breast pump so look into it. Free is always good! If you get the pump and you feel like it’s not comfortable, look into getting a different size or shape funnels to make pumping as comfortable as it can be.

**Tip: Get some nip cream at the hospital! They give you some and if you end up not using a lot, that saves you some money. Also, friends have used coconut oil instead of nip cream and they said it does the job. Do be aware of reactions from your baby with the coconut oil. I’ve heard that sometimes it can cause rashes for the baby.

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11. High Chair (4-6 months – 2-3 year olds)

You want to make sure that your baby has a good neck support before putting them in high chairs. However, there are high chairs that are able to recline their backs so that babies with less neck support can still join you at the table.

Graco Blossom 6-in-1 Convertible High Chair Seating System ($165): Ok, I mean this one is a little on the pricier side. But it was gifted to us and it’s been pretty awesome. This can recline and you can adjust the height of the high chair to your liking.  You can also detach the chair part and strap it onto a regular dining chair when you want your toddler to join you at the table.

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12. Nursing Cover (Newborn -2-3 year olds)

5-in-1 Carseat Canopy & Nursing Cover ($18): I did not discover this until Isaac. This is awesome. This can be your nursing cover (for breastfeeding or pumping), a car seat cover, a shopping cart cover, high chair cover, and a stroller cover! I really liked this because it was thin, and breathable and just plain useful. There are lots of different brands so you can choose what you like, but this one was one of the cheaper ones and worked well for me =).

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13. Baby Bottles (Newborn – 1-2 year olds)

There are many different types of bottles and my suggestion for you is to try a couple of different ones and see what your baby responds to the best. Thankfully, ours responded to what we bought, but I’ve heard of stories where their babies hated the bottles they had.

Phillips Avent Baby Bottles ($20/5 pack): These are 9 oz bottles so they are pretty big. Start with 4 oz ones if you want. But if you want to just buy one set, then I’d get the bigger ones because they are going to only want more and more milk as they grow up.

**Tips: You may want to start with newborn bottle nipples so your baby doesn’t choke on the milk. The flow for these nipples are really slow which is a good thing at the beginning. Then gradually keep getting bottle nipples with increasing flow as long as the baby can handle it.

***Watch out for when they are teething. They may bite the bottle nipples so hard that they rip, so you may need to buy new ones if that’s the case.

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14. Books (Newborn – forever)

It is never too early to read to your child. Pick out books that has lots of colors and fun words that will be catchy. It helps with brain development and you will not regret buying books for your kid(s). Some fun suggestions are: Goodnight Moon ($7)Hop on Pop ($7),  and The Very Hungry Caterpillar ($7). Yes, you can get these at the library as well, but it’s nice to have your own collection as well since they will most likely bite and chew them up too ;-).

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15. Rocking Chair or Glider

This is a must have for me because I use it every night. It’s just a good way to cuddle with the baby and not have to do too much to get the swaying action!

Storkcraft Glider ($155): This has lasted us 5 years and it’s still going strong. It’s on the cheaper side but it has worked well for us so far. It’s also very comfortable for me. When I was pregnant with my second, I did find myself sitting on this glider a lot since it was so comfy. Of course there are ones that are more padded but this one worked just fine =).

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May Need

Here are some things that you may need but can may need depending on your lifestyle and your baby.

Summary:

Click on each one or scroll down for details =). In no particular order…

  1. Stroller organizer
  2. Sleep Suit
  3. Boppy Pillow
  4. Baby Carrier
  5. Baby Monitor
  6. Drying Rack
  7. Pacifiers
  8. Car Mirror
  9. Teethers
  10. Socks

1. Stroller Organizer (Newborn – as long as you use a stroller)

I have a lot of friends who don’t like to carry a whole lot of things. So sometimes if you just need to run an errand or you’re going somewhere where you don’t have to carry a lot of things and your stroller does not have a good size compartment, an organizer may be needed.

Ethan And Emma’s Best Stroller Organizer for Smart Moms ($32): I mean the name is kind of a turn off, but it is really a good one. It has storage for cups, diapers, changing pad, small toys, and has a separate, detachable compartment for your wallet and keys. I definitely liked using this when I went out on play dates so I didn’t have to carry much stuff.

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2. Sleep Suit (3 months – 9 months)

After swaddling, you may need something to transition your baby from swaddle to no swaddle. Definitely not a must have but it worked so well for Ella and Isaac, I had to put into this category.

Baby Merlin’s Sleep Suit for 3-6months ($40): This worked so well for Ella and Isaac. It’s basically a thick onesie that feels a little weighted so it decreases the effects of the startle reflex. They also make one for 6-9 month olds, but once your baby can turn from back to tummy, it’s time to stop using this suit.

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3. Boppy Pillow (Newborn – 8 months)

Boppy Nursing Pillow and Positioner ($40): If you’re going to breastfeed, you may need this for a more comfortable position for you and baby. I bought one but I personally never used it for nursing. I used it to prop up both babies. This is great for starting them in tummy time to work on those neck and back muscles.

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4. Baby Carrier (Newborn – 1+ year old)

The reason this is in this section is because we only used ours like 1-2 times per each baby. For me, I had larger babies and a delivered via C-sections, so my lifting capacity was kept to a minimum so it was harder for me to build up my strength by the time I was able to carry them for long periods of time. I stuck to the strollers. However, I do wish I used mine more. Hands free baby carrying is just so awesome!

Baby Bjorn Baby Carrier Original ($80): This is what I had and it worked pretty well for its purposes. It can carry babies from 8 lbs to 25 lbs. It’s supposedly developed by pediatricians and is designed to give proper support for babies with little to no head control yet.

Baby Tula Multi-Position, Ergonomic Baby Carrier ($104): This one ranked one of the highest in Amazon. It can support babies from 7 lbs (with infant insert) to 45 lbs. So it’s range is quite a bit higher than baby bjorn.

Boba Wrap ($40): These just look real cool! It’s a wrap instead of padded carriers but it looks comfortable and the babies always looks so snug when I see friends using these.

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5. Baby Monitor (Newborn – 5-6 year old)

So we know people who don’t really need or want a baby monitor. However, for us, it made our lives so much easier and made me feel more at ease to see that the kids are ok in their rooms.

Infant Optics DXR-8 ($170): We used this for Ella and then bought another camera which synced with the original monitor for Isaac. This works great. You can see the video pretty clearly and can move the camera positioning via the monitor. The only bad thing about this is the that the battery sucks, so at times, we’ve had to bring the plug with us downstairs after we’ve put them to bed.

V-tech DM221 Audio Baby Monitor ($40): Some people don’t care about the video and just wants something where they can hear if the baby cries. This is great! We bring this when we are go on trips so we can hear them if needed.

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6. Boon Lawn Countertop Drying Rack Green (Newborn – 3-4 years old)

You can obviously use your own drying rack but this (Boon Lawn with twig – $45) was so helpful to us that we bought 2 of each! Bottles and sippy cups have so many different small parts that they are hard to dry on a regular drying rack. The twig helps dry pacifiers and bottle nipples and the lawn is perfect for drying different shapes and sizes.

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7. Pacifiers (Newborn – 2 year old)

This is in this section because you may not need it. I know plenty of babies who hate the pacifier. However, Ella and Isaac loved them and these have been such great lifesavers for us.

Phillips Avent Pacifiers for 0-6months ($6/2 pack): These were a great fit for Ella and Isaac. They also have some for 6-8 month old babies. They are BPA Free and are designed for natural oral development.  Definitely recommend this if you decide to get pacifiers.

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8. Car Mirror (Newborn – 2 year olds)

Since your baby will probably be rear facing and there will be days where one of you guys can’t sit in the back seat with the baby, this may come in handy in case you want to look in on your baby while at a stop light or something.

Cozy Greens Baby Car seat Mirror ($30): This mirror is huge! We could see everything from the driver’s seat and the passenger seat mirror as well! I liked this a lot because it will buckle in securely and once it’s on correctly, it doesn’t really budge.

 

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9. Baby Teether (5 months – 2 year olds)

Teething sucks… like majorly! So I feel like you may need this item to help ease your baby’s pain and your frustration.

Sophie the Giraffe teether ($24): Everyone seems to love this teether. We did too! It’s easy for babies to grasp and is soft for the babies’ gums. Ella and Isaac both loved chewing on this toy. It seemed to help them when they were having a rough time teething.

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10. Socks (Newborn – forever)

I mean who doesn’t love socks? But just to keep the baby’s feet warm and cozy, you may need socks for those beautiful tiny little feet! They also have socks with grips so that when your toddler starts walking, they’re not slipping all over the place.

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May Want

I mean this section is mainly something I know I didn’t really need, but it was either cool to have or it was something I wanted but didn’t get ;-).

Summary:

Click on each one or scroll down for details =). In no particular order…

    1. Clothes
    2. Nursing Bras/Shirts
    3. Nursing Pads
    4. Bottle sterilizer
    5. Changing Table
    6. Diaper Genie
    7. Wipe warmer
    8. Baby Food Feeder
    9. Baby Shoes

1. Baby Clothes

Ok I mean, people will buy you clothes and they may even be able to give you awesome hand me downs. But you know, there are just tons of cute ones out there. Go ahead and put a couple that catches your eyes on the registry. Because why not?!!

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2. Nursing Bras/Shirts

So you definitely don’t need these but easy access is always nice. They’ve come up with some pretty stylish tops that will help you feel like you’re not just a milk factory. The bras are also nice because they give you some support to your ever growing boobies. There are even bras that hold up your pump from hands free pumping.

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3. Nursing pads

You can pretty much cut out some pads to put in your bras to make sure that you don’t leak (yes, it happens). But there are some nursing pads out there so you don’t have to cut out your pads. You can choose from disposable ones to reusable ones.

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4. Bottle Sterilizer

You can literally just boil your bottles and bottle nipples but if you don’t want to that, you can get a bottle sterilizer. Pop them in the microwave and voila! Done!

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5. Changing Table

You don’t need this. You really don’t. Most of the time, you will probably change your baby on the floor, on the couch, on your bed, or in their crib. But if you want, you can get a fancy schmancy changing table that can double as storage for diapers and wipes and such. Up to you! Some are really pretty though and I would’ve bought them if they weren’t so esssspensive.

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6. Diaper Genie

We like ours. It’s does keep the smell at bay. But I mean, a lot of the times we also just throw the diapers in the trash as well and since babies poop and pee all the time, we have to take our trash outside daily anyway. But at night, it’s nice to have the diaper genie to put the diapers in when you don’t want to go all the way downstairs or in the kitchen to throw away stinky diapers.

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7. Wipe Warmer

Babies don’t like the cold. Just saying. They don’t. We didn’t buy a wipe warmer and you probably won’t need this, but if you want the wipes to not be as cold when you’re changing your baby, I mean go for it!

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8. Baby Food Feeder

This was nice to have when your babies just won’t stop eating! Ha! But this helps because you can put fruits in here and they are able to hold it and eat the fruits without you having to worry about them choking on it.

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9. Baby Shoes

Not gonna lie… baby jordans are the cutest thing ever! You don’t need them. BUT they’re SO CUTE!!! So if you want to splurge a little… I mean come on! Look how cute!!

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That’s All I Got

Ok, this was an extensive list! Congratulations if you made it this far!  What would you consider must haves, may need, and may want in your baby registry??

Thanks for reading and have an awesome rest of the day!

5 Tips to Encourage Your Children’s Interests

Last year, my eldest decided she wanted to try ballet. Disclaimer: I am not currently a dancer, nor did I have any formal training in dance. But the world of dance did open up to me senior year in high school when I miraculously made the Poms Squad. After that, I’ve just been watching from afar because life happened. So when Ella told me she wanted to dance, I was elated! I remember thinking, “ok, do not force your dreams onto your 4 year old!”

 

First Class

So I was pretty sure that Ella wanted to do ballet because she loved the tutus. I mean who wouldn’t!?!? So going into the first day of class, I wasn’t expecting her to really get into it. But, as always, my daughter proves me wrong. She loved it! And I loved watching her follow directions! It’s one of those things where as a parent, you’re like “oh.. so you do know how to listen?” haha

So yes, what a great class! I was also very happy to be in company with other parents who are nothing like the moms in the show “Dance Moms.” Not gonna lie, I was nervous about that too. I’m not about the drama. But everyone there seemed like newbies too which was great because no one cared if their kids were in the back row or the front row or the sides. Whew!

 

Encouraging Her Hobby

Ella is only 4, so you can bet there were days when she didn’t want to go to class and just wanted to stay home to play with her baby brother. But giiiirrrrlllll, those classes are esssspensive! So we wanted to make sure she went to class, but at the same time, I didn’t want her to hate going. So here are some tips that I’ve learned in order to encourage her to keep going to class.

1) Listen to them.

Sometimes there are other reasons as to why your child may not want to do certain things. It doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t like that particular hobby anymore. When you find out the real reason of why your child is saying “no,” it helps you to decide whether or not to try to encourage or to let them miss a class. In Ella’s case, most of the time, it’s because she didn’t want to stop playing with Isaac (her little brother). So sometimes we take Isaac to class with her (to watch her) or promise her that they can continue to play their game after class.

2) Don’t force your own dreams on them.

I mean I just love dance so much that I couldn’t wait for her to love dance! But I’ve had to check myself so many times because knowing that my child is a “people pleaser,” I didn’t want her to dance just because mommy wanted her to. So try your hardest not to push your own agendas. Just enjoy the times they are happy with their hobbies and make sure you’re there to listen when they are feeling discouraged.

3) Persuade when appropriate.

After carefully listening, and making sure that it’s not anything serious, there are times that you just need to give them a little persuasion. I mean they’re kids! Sometimes they just want to do other things. But it’s important to also teach them about responsibilities as well. Let them know that it’s important they don’t miss class so they don’t miss out on anything new that the teacher/coach may teach. You can also give them small rewards for going to class and participating the whole time. For Ella, on the days we see that she just doesn’t want to go and needed some motivation, we would give her extra time to stay up after Isaac has gone to bed. She loved that!

4) Pay attention and practice at home.

Part of Ella gaining confidence is when she knows what she’s doing in class. So when I see that there’s a move that she’s struggling with in class, I would take 5-10 minutes to work with her on it when she’s staying up. I think it’s definitely important to teach kids hard work. I mean you don’t have to go overboard and have a 4 year old practice for an hour or more! But if they learn early that hard work will help get them to their goals, then I think that’s a good start. (Note: Isaac even started to practice with her! Lol)

5) Don’t be so hard on yourself.

Ok guys, this is probably the most important one. Sometimes you wonder if you made the right choice putting them in class or paying tons of mula just for your kid(s). But life with kids is about trial and error sometimes. Give yourself a break. So they didn’t like dancing, or basketball or whatever class you paid for. At least they tried it. Next time, you’ll know better as to what they may or may not be interested in. So take a deep breath! You’re doing great!

Recital Time!

It has been a year and the girls have worked real hard on their piece! I’m proud to say that Ella has stuck to her craft and has even blossomed into a more confident, beautiful little ballerina! I mean it’s only been a year but that’s a year longer than I thought she would stick with it! Okaayyyy??

And oh… my… goodness… I couldn’t be more proud of Ella! For some reason, I tend to make fun of the messes in life instead of boasting on the good that’s happening in life. But when I saw Ella on the stage smiling and performing her best, I couldn’t help it! I was that mom who showed her performance to anyone who would give me the time of day! Apologies to my gracious office mate who took it like a champ and let me dote to different coworkers. That’s how proud I was. I left my usual self-deprecating humor and complimented my child.

Remember, their successes are not only because of their hard work, but also because of your own encouragement and love. No, they don’t need your support to succeed, but it sure would make their journey a lot easier and less lonely if you were there for them. Rooting for their successes always.

Thanks for reading and have a great rest of the day!

 

(all gifs are from giphy.com)