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If you are anything like me, you have moments where you come up with all sorts of fun activities...and then lulls where you do the same old stuff over and over! LOL In an effort to motivate myself to do new things each week, and to share my ideas with others, I am starting a special Friday post. In our Facebook discussion group, we recently switched our "Food Friday" posts to "Fun Friday" posts. Our plan is to alternate and focus on activities one week, and food the week after. We all need some creative brain power now and again, so I love hearing from other mamas about new recipes, lunch ideas, healthy snacks, and fun activities they are trying with their little ones. So, my Friday posts will either be focused on Food or Fun!

This week is going to be all about FUN!

It is HOT, and I mean HOT outside! I hardly want to walk to the mailbox, much less go outside and explore/play. Caroline is too young to have a sense of when she is too hot. So, even things like going to the pool have to be short lived so she doesn't overheat. She is finally old enough to start doing some fun crafts, however, so we took a trip to the store and stocked up on a few things!

Today is Pinterest Day for the Babywise Friendly Blog Network and the ladies in the group are all discussing topics about organization! Be sure and check out our Pinterest Page and check out the other posts today! See below for a list of links!


We live in one of the most expensive areas in the country. So, when we purchased our first home, we quickly realized we weren't going to get a dream home just yet. We weren't going to get a spacious house like the ones we'd seen in Texas or Ohio for the same price here. It just wasn't going to happen. The houses we could purchase there for around $200K were at least $450K here, most were muuuuch higher. Not only that, our dreams of owning a single family home were pretty crushed. We looked for over a year. We finally agreed to look at townhouses so we could get a house in decent shape that was still affordable. Townhouse it was. We found a townhouse that we love and it most certainly works for now!

With all of our accumulating kid things, we are running out of space pretty quickly, however. We are planning on having one more child, so as Caroline grows out of clothes, and no longer uses her toys, we are packing them away for baby number 2. It certainly doesn't make sense to sell things and purchase them again later. I'm trying to only save the favorites- the must haves... but it is still a LOT of stuff! It is essential that I keep things organized so I know where everything is.

Here are my tips on organization in a small space:

1. Use every bit of space for storage. Have an empty wall? Use it for a bookshelf or cubbies that will provide more storage. We literally had a 3.5 foot space between our wall
mounted TV and the entertainment center below. I needed more storage in the family room (things were literally accumulating on the floor), so I ran out to Target one day and purchased a shelving unit to set on top of the entertainment center, below the TV.

2. Invest in storage containers. I buy bins like they are going out of style. I have bins for under the bed, bins for the closet storage, etc. This allows me to keep like items together and stored neatly. I even buy small bins for toys that she is using now. Today we decided to stock up on some inside arts and crafts items (since it's too hot to play outside)! Guess what I bought at the craft store along with these items? A bin to store everything in!

3. Label everything. I need to get a tiny bit better at this, but every bin needs a label. I want to be able to look in my closet at all of the bins and know exactly what is in them. I've done really great at this for Caroline's clothing storage. Everything is labeled by size.

I am sooo excited to announce that I am challenging myself to start working out again! I haven't announced this yet, but I was recently diagnosed with Fibromyalgia (I've been struggling for about 15 years with it and finally found a dr that would listen to me). Long story short is I am in pain (a huge flare that simply won't stop) and have no energy. Those of you with fibro know that it is challenging to find anything to alleviate the pain. And it is just so exhausting. I've tried pain meds, muscle relaxers, acupuncture, physical therapy, and more. Nothing is working (well one product mentioned below is helping). I'm tired. I need to boost my system and do something to end the cycle of pain. I think this is going to help, I just need to do it! 
I just got the Country Heat workouts from Beachbody (um, how exciting is this!?!?), and bought their Shakeology products (they taste great and I think they'll help a bunch with my energy). I originally tried
When I became a teacher, I found patience that I never knew existed in me. I realized that when I was dealing with other people's children, I had a new found patience that I wouldn't have had in the same situation with my husband, parents, sister, or even adult strangers. It was my job to teach them, however, and to show them what appropriate responses were. I couldn't get frustrated that they weren't understanding me, I had to find a new way to teach them. I could get frustrated when they didn't listen to directions, but instead of simply showing them that frustration, I had to better explain what it was that I wanted them to do. I had to explain my expectations, determine natural consequences and be consistent. I couldn't just get frustrated. When it came to safety, however, one chance was all they got. They knew I meant business and if I needed to yell to get their attention, you'd better believe I did it. I couldn't mess around with that in a chemistry lab.

High school students are pretty challenging. They are opinionated and test boundaries. They are set in their ways, some have given up on themselves and are old enough to be bitter at the system. It can be a trying task to work with them. I worked in a title I school where many didn't have support at home, and many of the parents didn't speak English. The patience I found with my students on a day to day basis astounded me quite honestly. I became accustomed to giving long wait times after asking my students to do something or asking a question. It's think time for them, patience testing for a teacher at times!

Then I became a mother. I apparently had no idea what it was to be patient. Not really. Your patience
Eat wake sleep cycle month 20
As I type "20 Months", I am realizing just how quickly Caroline is growing up! She is 4 months away from being 2! My little baby is walking, running, jumping, tumbling, talking, tantruming, dancing, and laughing. She's silly, beautiful, and such a smart little girl. She knows her alphabet, is learning colors, and is very opinionated and decisive. I rarely get snuggles, but when I do they stop my whole world. Caroline has changed so much just over the last couple of months! Here is a look back at her schedule, what her interests are, and her milestones!


Caroline's schedule is pretty much the same as it was two months ago. She takes one nap that varies from 1.5 hours long to 3 hours long depending on the day. She is eating dinner and starting her bedtime routine 30 minutes later now. This has been helping her eat more, go to sleep faster, and have more time to spend with Daddy. 

7 am wake and drink milk
8/8:30am breakfast
12 pm lunch
I am so excited to announce that I am working on compiling all of our favorite products into one place! At the top menu of this blog, you'll notice there is a new link on the right that says **FAVORITE PRODUCTS**. This is my own personal Amazon store! Everything is the same (prices, options, payments, shipping, etc), just all in one place! This is such a great new feature from Amazon, and I love that I can share with you some of our favorites so easily. You can also get to the page by clicking this link.

I am working on going back through the newborn stages to now and adding all of our must have products. Under each product I write my own personal review and why we like it so much. I always think it's helpful to have firsthand reviews of products before buying them. These are all products that we love so much, we'd buy them again in a heartbeat! Many of them were lifesavers at the newborn stage. The day dreamer, as an example, was such a huge help! I had a place I could set Caroline while I was pumping (right after nursing) with my hands free pumping bra (also an essential buy). I was struggling before I found these products!

As of right now, the categories I've included are:
Favorites In Our House (my favorites out of the favorites LOL)

It certainly wasn't the longest trip in the world, but it was so special to all of us. My parents decided to drive up for a visit. They drove up Saturday morning, and got in just as Caroline started her nap. They got to spend Saturday evening with her, and Sunday morning. Then they hit the road again, for a quick turnaround, so my dad could go to work Monday. Super fast, super special, super exhausting for them, I'm sure!

Caroline gets to see my mom on Skype fairly often. She always asks to Skype in the morning, which is perfect timing for us. She has been saying "Nana" for quite some time now, since it is a fairly straightforward word to say. She recognizes her and is always excited to get on the computer with her. Grandpa is usually at work during this time, so we don't see him on Skype as often. Grandpa is not an easy word to say, either, so Caroline hasn't said his name yet- until this weekend!

We kept asking her to try and say Grandpa. Eventually, "Bubba" came out! Hahahahaha! We all laughed (and also praised her for trying). It was awesome. Grandpa was so happy that she gave him a name, and we all enjoyed the moment. I have to say I am REALLY hoping this name sticks! LOL I am going to
I've been thinking about this whole bike situation for awhile.

Do we get her something this summer (when she's 1.5) and would barely be old enough to use it?
Do we wait and give her a bike for her birthday (in November), or Christmas (even though it's winter and she wouldn't get much use out of it)?
Do we get her a tricycle?
Do we get her a tricycle with the handle for us to use so we don't break our backs?
Do we go straight for a 12 inch bike with training wheels?

So many questions. I'd literally read so many reviews and articles about what to get. Then Amazon prime day happened. There was a 4 in 1 trike for sale and it seemed perfect! It would grow with her, give my back a break, and seemed to be the right idea! And we'd just give it to her now while the weather is nice and she can enjoy it!

The trike came in a million pieces, and I got to the task of putting it together right away. The

As of the last few weeks, our not so little daughter (19 months old!!!) has graduated to taking showers with Mama and Daddy. She loved bath time (especially with Daddy), but she is so excited to be in the big girl shower now! I snuck out to take a quick photo... so no she is not showering alone!

She usually gets in with me, walks in and out of the water a few times, and then it's time to wash. I get her washed and rinsed, and then she usually sits on the floor and waits for me to get done with my portion of the shower.

We always have the radio on, and we always do a little dancing. This girl is a shower dancing PRO! I won't say where she learned it.... LOL!

You'll need 3 of these combo packs to
cover the bottom of the tub!
So, we finally decided on these bath stickers, after trying out and looking at several mats. The bath  mats in stores are just SMALL. I couldn't find one that I felt was long enough for good coverage. I then went to Amazon, of course! Again, it was hard to find long ones. The ones I did find had just average reviews, and the one we actually tried had a HORRIBLE smell. I know it was just a really strong vinyl smell, but our bathroom suddenly smelled like we were smoking pot in it! Needless to say, it got returned!

I remembered my grandma always having anti-slip stickers on the bottom of the tub. This is the same grandma that lived in California and had to ration water
This is not our first post about the 18 month sleep regression, and may not be our last! LOL

Caroline is 19 months old, now. For the last couple of weeks, she's been giving us some difficulties when it comes to bedtime. She's also been extra clingy and fussy, and now is starting to wake at 2 am and call out for us. Luckily she simply needs a hug, or to go potty, and then quietly returns to her bed.

I wanted to put together a full post on why this sleep regression can happen at this age, and what to do about it.


At or around the 18 month time-frame, a few things happen...

1. A growth spurt
There is a legitimate growth spurt around this time. It can easily lead to night wakings.

2. First Molars and even the start of 2nd Molars (closer to 20 months), along with the Eye Teeth (canines)!!!!
Ouch just ouch. From what I've read, these are the hardest teeth for our youngsters to get, and they really
Oh my gosh I am so excited! Since Caroline has absolutely loved learning her alphabet, I was thrilled to run into this word building idea on Pinterest! We all need a little something that is extra special to keep in the car for those... well, those desperate moments! You know the ones: you are stuck going to a last minute appointment and have no where to take your child. You need something to distract them! This is the perfect on the go learning item. And, the best part is- it will grow with Caroline and be useful for quite awhile! My only problem is I'm not sure I'm going to want to leave this bad boy in the car!

Ok, so first of all I did not come up with this idea. I did upgrade it a bit, though! Here is the original idea on Pinterest. Fore more like this check out my "teaching toddlers" pinterest board as well! Pictures of our completed project and a step by step guide are shown below!

Here is a full look at this project:

What is it? Word building practice! Caroline is a little bit young for this still (1.5 years old), but

It is Babywise Friendly Blog Network week! You will be hearing from these lovely ladies this week, all on the topic of "Strangers".

Today is my post on "Staying in the SAFE ZONE with Mama". We practice this with Caroline all the time and even take trips to the store just to do so. This will wrap up our BFBN week. Thanks for joining us!

Now that we have a walking, running, very independent toddler, we have to start considering safety a lot more when we are out. Caroline is now a little over 1.5 years old. It is too early, in my opinion, to worry her about "stranger danger". She wouldn't fully understand the concept, and there is no need for my little 1.5 year old to worry about such things that might scare her. What we are doing with Caroline in an effort to protect her, however, is teaching her about safe practices when out.

This basically consists of a "safe zone" by Mama or Daddy. In order to keep Caroline in this safe zone, we are teaching her some basic concepts:

1. Basic instructions (come, wait, turn around, stop, etc.): This has taken a lot of practice, and we are still working on perfecting everything, but Caroline listens pretty well at this point. I learned a few weeks ago, that Caroline needs to be looking at me before I give her an instruction. This one addition to our practice has helped tremendously in the results we get! I have her "Look at Mama", then give her a request.

"Come" has been one of the hardest "commands" for Caroline to listen to. I recently started giving

It is Babywise Friendly Blog Network week! You will be hearing from these lovely ladies this week, all on the topic of "Strangers".

Today we are hearing from Carrie. I love this post on how she asks her children questions to make sure they are safe. Such a good practice to be in, and I love that it will automatically get her children thinking about safety! Check out the sneak peek below and head on over to her site to read the full post!

Safety Questions To Ask When Your Child Gets Home

As our kids get older, they are away from us more and more. Whether is school, birthday parties, play dates with friends, etc... Whenever our kids get come, we ask them the same questions to see if anything alerts us to something out of the ordinary. Some of those questions are: Did you have fun? Did you feel safe? Did anything make you feel uncomfortable? Do you want to go back? Is there anything you'd like to tell Mommy about? Did anyone ask you to keep a secret? etc...

It is Babywise Friendly Blog Network week! You will be hearing from these lovely ladies this week, all on the topic of "Strangers".

Today we are hearing from Natasha. Her post has some fabulous insight about "tricky people" and body safety. We will definitely be teaching Caroline about tricky people. I think this is a great way to get the point across without scaring your little ones. Check out the sneak peek below and head on over to her site to read the full post!

tricky people

"Tricky people" have replaced "strangers" at our house.  Why?  Because it's just a fact of life that you'll have to talk to and interact with strangers.  I have a friend whose son refused to speak to his kindergarten teacher and ended up getting sent to the principal's office because of it.  The principal called my friend and put her on speakerphone.  When she asked her son why he was being disrespectful and rude by not talking to his teacher, he said, "She's a stranger!  You told me not to talk to strangers!"  HILARIOUS!  But also proves my point - we're all gonna have to talk to strangers.  And for our kids, when they first come to live with us, WE are strangers to them!  Foster kids constantly have to trust strangers to take care of them - foster parents, their caseworker, CASA, their attorney, etc.
Also, your child is most likely to be hurt, harmed, abducted, assaulted, or molested by someone they know and are familiar with.  So given all this, we felt the need to teach our

It is Babywise Friendly Blog Network week! You will be hearing from these lovely ladies this week, all on the topic of "Strangers".

Today we are hearing from Kimberly. She's discussing how she is Teaching Stranger Danger to her 2 year old. She's starting young and introducing 5 simple concepts. Check out the sneak peek below and head on over to her site to read the full post!

"Bad guys!"  I was very surprised when I heard Ben call this out one day.  I mean, we don't really talk about bad guys or good guys.  Honestly I still try to shield him from negative thinking or worries like 'bad guys.'  I'm not entirely sure where it came from, but I think it is from one of the old Mickey Mouse episodes he got to see.  (I'm not blaming Mickey, we love Mickey.  I probably should have made sure the episode was a little more appropriate for him.  That is on me.)  Fortunately the only bad guys Ben has seen are the bumbling type.  He laughs at them and I see them as being an example of what not to do.  The phrase has made me think though.  Currently Ben is always with a family member.  He is going to start preschool soon enough and will be away from me on a consistent basis.  It is time to start teaching him about stranger danger.

How do I do this though?  A big issue I have with teaching about stranger danger at this age is that I don't want to introduce fears to Ben.  He doesn't currently worry about someone trying to hurt him or touch him inappropriately, and I do not want to be the one introducing those ideas to him.  I need to find a way to teach him to protect himself without scaring him.  And I need to figure out the proper language to use so he understands and can report back to me anything that is going on with him.  I have found with Ben that simple language and repetition is key, as with most kids his age.  I want to be able to have short conversations with him that we can repeat over and over.

It is Babywise Friendly Blog Network week! You will be hearing from these lovely ladies this week, all on the topic of "Strangers".

Today we are hearing from Emily. Emily has some great tips to keep in mind with regards to strangers. My favorite is number 6 (never fails)! Check out the sneak peek below and head on over to her site to read the full post!

This week the Babywise Friendly Blog Network are all focusing on the topic of "strangers." When this topic was first presented I instantly knew what I'd be talking about! I have dealt with anxiety related to strangers since I was pretty young, and it's only gotten more dominant as I've become a mother. I get nervous when out and about by myself, especially at night. I prefer not to go places alone (again, especially at night) and get very nervous taking my children out. Of course, I don't let those fears stop me from living my life and enjoying things with my kids - but I do try to avoid certain situations if possible. 

It seems like every day we are being bombarded with stories in our newsfeed of situations occurring regarding "strangers" and moms with kids. It seems to be becoming a more and more common trend. I have always tried to avoid places that make me feel uncomfortable and have always felt like Target and Publix are "safe" places to go, especially with my children. But now these are the very same places that I keep seeing pop up in my newsfeed where moms are having to take a stand against men who appear to want to potentially harm them or their children on some level. Clearly the "creepers" have gotten smart and realized Publix and Target are "the" mom places to go. Ugh.

It is Babywise Friendly Blog Network week! You will be hearing from these lovely ladies this week, all on the topic of "Strangers".

Today we are hearing from Valerie. She put together a post on "6 Rules for Keeping Children Safe From Strangers". I can't tell you how much I love this list. These are easy rules that your children can remember. Check out the sneak peek below and head on over to her site to read the full post!

I am living in a conflicting state of mind. I bet many of you are, also. 

On this one hand, I want my children to have freedom to just be children. I want them to be able to
Dear Caroline,

In your life you will meet people with all different backgrounds, ethnicity, and race. You will see people with white skin, people with black skin, and every color in between. Our skin colors are beautiful and tell a story about our past. The more our culture has grown, the more skin colors have changed and mixed. Our skin is one piece of our beautiful life story.

See people for who they are, and choose not to be colorblind. Choose to be accepting and loving of all colors- all skin tones. Love people for how they act and treat others. See people for who they are, including their skin color. Everyone deserves to be known and seen. Appreciating someone is accepting and acknowledging everything about that person- including their skin color, because it is part of their identity and part of who they are.

I don't even know how to say this to you, because you are so innocent and so young right now. It could stay that way, because of your skin tone, for quite some time. We don't have to talk about this, but we need to. There are people that will treat others unfairly because of the color of their skin- because they are black. You are white, so you will most likely escape through most of your life
Caroline sleeps all through the night. And, on the extremely rare occasion that she does wake up, she calls us loud enough that I can hear her without the monitor! Yet, the monitor has been on all night long since she was born, just as a precaution. She is 1.5 years old and has been sleeping through the night since 4 months old. So, for over a year now, we haven't "needed" the monitor on.

I finally decided to pull the plug. I did it slightly before Caroline was 1.5 (maybe 16 or 17 months old). My reasoning for doing this, is I simply need to sleep better. We keep the sound machine on for Caroline just as a comfort if she does wake up. She asks for it and it definitely helps her fall asleep.

I love that she uses a sound machine, because no matter where we are, I can signal to her with the sound machine that it is time to sleep. She obviously understands me now, when I tell her it is bedtime, but we've had several occasions when she was younger, that she may not have understood what we were saying. The sound machine was a consistent presence at home and on vacation. It's really helped her when sleeping in new places, and I know it is a comfort to her, along with her blanky and stuffed animals.

Having the sound machine on, however, means that I am not sleeping as well as I could. I am pretty sensitive to light and sound when sleeping, so this is just yet another thing that is preventing
My oh my did it rain on the 4th of July! We were so happy that it rained, initially. It meant that Daddy got to come home from work and join us early in the day! But then the rain continued.... LOL.

Well, rain or shine, we were going to make the best of our day! The 4th of July festival that we were going to was advertised as rain or shine on all daytime activities. The fireworks show had the potential to be postponed due to inclement weather, but they'd make a call on that later in the day. So, we planned on heading out there for some daytime fun at least!

Caroline decided to have a 2 am wake up the night before. It worked out great, however, because she was tired enough from that to sleep in until 8
am on the 4th. This was going to help her take a later nap, so she would be happy during the days festivities. Except...

If you read about Caroline's first day at gymnastics, you know that she was quite the handful! Gymnastics started with a warm up activity and some stretching. My little Caroline wasn't having anything to do with that, and wanted to run straight for the trampoline.  She was upset, tantruming, not listening, and we got off to a rough start. While the rest of the class went great, the cool down was again a challenge for her. Needless to say, this Mama was a bit nervous for class this week. LOL

In preparation, I've been talking to Caroline all week about a couple of things. We took extra time this morning (right before class), to talk about these specifics as well:

- We have to stay with the group and follow Mr. Willy's instructions. I explained to Caroline that, just as she had to wait in line for the trampoline (which she was great at doing), she also needed to wait before moving onto the next station in general. We were to stay with the class.

- Listen to Mama and stay calm. Caroline and I are always doing a TON of practice with basic
My daughter really hasn't been interested in watching TV. The only shows that peaked her interested for awhile were music videos and her alphabet video. I've been trying to find a couple of shows that she might be interested in watching. I've had success with two so far: Dora the Explorer, and Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. She doesn't watch much TV, but I like having the option out there for this to be an educational activity that we do at home. It provides a break for Mama, occupies my daughter, and even gives her a little rest time. Plus, if picked wisely, the shows can be very educational in a way that talking and playing are not. TV shows act things out and give great visuals of all sorts of scenarios. When she's a bit older I see these shows starting good conversations between us!

We've only watched 4 episodes of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, and I have to say- I really love this show. So does my daughter, by the way! It's a cartoon version of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood. It is also free on Amazon Prime! The shows talks about things like going to school, going to the doctor, what to do when you get mad, how to express your feelings, and so much more. I find that as we watch these, I am getting reminded of good ways to teach my daughter different concepts. Plus, they are now in excellent jingle form for me already! LOL

Here are just a few of the lessons in this show already (just in 4 episodes):

This is such a good thing to teach. My daughter is 1.5 years old and she can really get upset. Now that she understands more, this is something I can start to teach her. I just recently talked about how I
I hope everyone is getting to enjoy some family time today, and that you are braving the fireworks with your little ones! :) I know it can be a daunting task to keep your schedule happy babies out past their bedtime, but it is so so worth the memories!

Last year, when Caroline was 7 months old, we took her to see the fireworks. Our plan was to put her to bed at her normal time, then wake her up and head out to the fireworks. That plan got changed last minute, and we made do on the go instead! And, long story, we didn't even get to see fireworks from where we were sitting LOL! We did have a lovely night out, however. To see what we did last year, here is my post from last year: "PLEASE DEVIATE FROM THE SCHEDULE AND ENJOY THE MOMENTS".

This year, we have a 19 month old! We are definitely going to make sure she sees fireworks this year, and even bought some sparklers to show her! We are hoping to actually go on a much bigger outing this year, so hopefully everything works out well. Check out our plans for this year below!

After potty training, Caroline went accident free for 9 days! 9 days! How amazing is that!?

What we did during those 9 days:
- Occasional reminders to keep underwear dry - very occasional
- Always potty before we go out
- Continuing to praise for asking and going on the toilet (especially in public restrooms)!

Then yesterday and today accidents started happening ALL THE TIME! It is almost as if Caroline forgot she was supposed to hold it or ask to go potty. She was peeing on the floor, peeing in her booster seat at the table, and for the first time she peed in the car seat! Luckily I have a liner in place still.

This is occurring a little after two weeks from our start date.

So, today I decided to go back to frequent reminders, and even the occasional Cocoa puff for dry