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I have been so behind lately, that I haven't had time to record this pretty amazing milestone! Caroline can catch! I've been pretty impressed with her physical abilities. She's not yet 2, and she has been able to jump and get both feet off of the ground for at least a couple of months now! I've written about her gymnastics class in the past, and she's continuing to show her physical strength and just impress us all! She's mastered the "bear crawl", where she has to climb across a horizontal ladder. She does so with ease! She can hang on the bar and the rings for insane amounts of time, and she is simply put- very coordinated and very aware of her body and what it can do! She climbed up a ladder at the playground a few weeks ago as well. Month 23 really brought a lot of new skills for her!

We've been so lucky this fall to have visitors galore! As many of you know, all of our family is out of state. In both September and October we were incredibly excited to welcome some of the west coast Villegas clan! And, in November we also get a visit from the Palmieri side for Caroline's birthday/Thanksgiving. Cap it all off in December with a family trip, and we are ending up with 4 straight months of visiting family! This is so special, and we are so thankful for each and every memory!

In September, Auntie Maria and Uncle Adolfo came to visit for a full week. It was a full week of laughter and good times! After family visits, I am always left wishing we all lived closer. I always feel this a bit extra with Maria and Adolfo, because not only are they family, they are a fun couple to hang out with! Joe and I don't get together with other couples- ever. But we love hanging out with these two and always have a blast! It literally doesn't matter what we are doing, we are always laughing and giving each other a hard time. 

It's Babywise Friendly Blog Network Day! We are all writing on the requested topic of "quick dinner ideas". This topic idea came at a fitting time for me. You'll read below, but I am basically on an everything free elimination diet starting TODAY! I've been experimenting over the last couple of weeks with recipes and figuring out how I can make good, quick meals throughout this process. You'll find my suggestions below! At the end of this post you'll also find a list of all of the other Babywise Friendly Blog Network posts, and their take on the "quick dinner ideas" topic! Enjoy!

There are so many people nowadays that are aware of their food sensitivities. We've made a ton of progress in the medical world acknowledging these sensitivities and allergies. Most stores even have specialized gluten free aisles now! Pretty amazing, really!

Over the next couple of months I am doing what's called an Elimination Diet. I am essentially trying to figure out if I have any food sensitivities that might be causing pain and fatigue. This is such a daunting process. I've always eaten anything I wanted and never worried about diets. As a result, I am pretty unaware of ingredient lists in general LOL! I'm learning, however, that being gluten, dairy, egg and soy free is hard to do "quickly". You have to make things from scratch to succeed at your meal being free of all of these ingredients. I am also doing nightshade free (potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers). It is pretty eye opening to start reading labels and learning what's in a lot of the things I eat.

Last week was my trial week. I gave myself a trial week to figure out some recipes that work. I need some go to recipes that I can make in a pinch (instead of going out or making a quesadilla)! I know that in order to be successful, I need a plan going in. This diet is something that I'm doing with a Naturopathic doctor, and she's recommended several resources:

OH MY GOSH! We took Caroline to Sesame Place this weekend, and she literally had the time of her life! She is almost 2 (1.5 months out), and it was a great age to start going to Sesame Place.  She is in love with all things Elmo, so I knew I wanted to schedule us for a character dining experience where she'd get to meet him. Even under 2, she can ride most of the rides with us. It's a pretty neat place!

Here's all about how our day went and some tips/tricks we learned along the way:

One of my favorite things to do with my family is go on a nice evening stroll (especially in the fall)! Everyone enjoys being outside, and it is such good family time that even gets to include the dog.

Caroline really enjoys looking at the moon. So much so, she always says she wants to go to the moon when she sees it! I decided on a whim, that I wanted to throw out Caroline's schedule for one night, and have an extra special family walk. Instead of putting Caroline to bed at 7/7:15, we actually headed out of the house at 6:30. Our destination- the golf course that my husband works at. 

We took our daughter to the natural history museum in D.C. Right before we left, we found that they actually had a child exploration room! The room was amazing and equipped with everything from a dress up corner, to hieroglyphic stamps. It had a coloring station, a light table, a skeleton, rocks, microscopes, weights to measure on a scale, and so much more!

The first thing we tried with Caroline was the microscope. She watched me put a rock on the specimen tray and look through the eye pieces. She was hooked. She was doing it all on her own from that point on. She'd put an object on, and look through the eye pieces. Cutest thing in the world!

I remember it vividly- I was finally pregnant, and I happened to be at Target. I thought I'd stop by the book section and get a few pregnancy books. I couldn't wait to read about the bundle of joy inside of me. I love knowing facts and details. I bought two books. One of them was What to Expect When Expecting (an amazing book). The other book, I returned so fast, I don't even remember the title. It was the most negative book I'd ever read. It detailed every possible thing that could go wrong during pregnancy, along with all of the things I needed to avoid, etc. It was not something I wanted to read. I am all about knowing the facts, but I am also focused on staying positive and realistic. As the book was written it simply put unneeded and unwanted worry on expecting moms. When I returned the book, I also returned to the pregnancy book aisle. I found that many of the books focused on the negatives. So, I stuck with the one good book I'd found and did the rest of my reading and research online. About a month before my due date I realized I should probably start reading up on my baby, instead of just the pregnancy. I found two phenomenal books: Babywise, and The Wonder Weeks. I've decided to start doing book reviews of the helpful books that I find. So, today I'll be starting with The Wonder Weeks.

The Wonder Weeks concept and idea is just fascinating to me. This book outlines 10 developmental milestones that occur in a baby's first 20 months of life. The idea is that these developmental milestones actually occur at roughly the same time for babies (within a few weeks). With predictable leaps in babies development, this book is incredibly eye opening as a parent. The book details the earliest week that these leaps typically occur. You can literally look at a calendar and predict when they will occur for your child. During these leaps, your baby is extra fussy as they work through these life altering changes that are occurring in their brains. When the leap is over you'll be able to see your baby showing new skills!

My experience: I found that the app coupled with the book was an amazing combination. I detail below what each has to offer. The combination put my mind at ease. All of the sudden (literally out of the blue) Caroline would be extra fussy, and I had no idea why or what had changed. Without fail, 100% of the time, I would check the wonder week calendar, and Caroline would be entering or already in a leap. It was shocking to me how predictable these leaps really were! Once I realized that Caroline was in a leap, I'd read the chapter for that specific leap in The Wonder Weeks book. Reading about the skills she was developing put everything into perspective and allowed me to remove myself from the frustration of the "fussy period", and be more understanding that it wasn't my fault or her fault or anyone's was a normal mental development that was occurring. I was also able to read about the new skills that might be popping up, and see them happening right before my eyes. Truly amazing. Once I realized that the concept of this book seemed to really be on point, my husband and I would read about the next leap ahead of time so we knew what skills we were looking for. We enjoyed reading the chapters together every evening, and discussing our daughter's progress.

The App: I think the app is now $1.99. It is the ONLY app I've ever paid money for, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. The app is a quick reference to keep tabs on where your child is in their developmental cycle. You can enter your child's birth date and track where they are in relation to the leaps that are outlined in the book. The app gives a quick summary of the skills that may be developing during this leap. I used the app mostly for the ease of the calendar and tracking.

The book suggests to base your child's development based on their due date. I entered 2 "children" into the app: Caroline based on her due date, and Caroline based on her birth date. I always found that my daughter entered leaps perfectly based on her birth date. I tracked them both for about 6 months, and once I realized our trend to be based on birth date, I stopped tracking based on due date all together. I'd recommend doing this to see how the calendar lines up for your specific child. 

The Book: The book is a must buy. It goes into a ton of detail about what is happening with your baby's development. There is a separate chapter for each wonder week (or leap). Each chapter consists of 4 sections:
  • This Week's Fussy Signs: This section outlines what behaviors and clues to look for indicating that your baby is about to make a developmental leap.  There is a diary section where you can check off the signs you've noticed to help you keep track of things.
  • The Magical Leap Forward: This section discusses the new skills and abilities your child may acquire during the leap. Again, there is a diary section with a checklist . This was probably our favorite part of the book! We loved reading about all of the new skills that our baby would soon acquire!
  • What You Can Do to Help: This is an amazing section, that gives you ideas for games, toys, and even focused activities that are catered to each stage of development. This is also one of my favorite parts to read through and gave me some great ideas!
  • After the Leap: After the leap, your baby will start to be happy, and more independent again. This section lets you know when to expect this. 
The chapters also have real life experience quotes from moms and dads, along with fun facts on things like brain changes, sleep tips, top toys, and more! As an example, in wonder week 12, there is a brain change fact that states "At approximately 10 to 11 weeks, the head circumference of babies dramatically increases". I just loved seeing everything put forward in such a positive light with lots of fun facts. Babies have a lot of ups and downs and it can be hard on parents when they don't know what's going on. This book really does help you to understand what's happening in your baby's development and how you can assist to make things easier on them. I highly recommend grabbing a copy! We'll even be re-reading this when baby #2 comes along one day- it was that interesting and there are way too many facts to simply remember for the next go around. It is definitely an in the moment read and well worth your time (even when sleep deprived)!

Check out my other book reviews here.

Today is blog swap day at Babywise Friendly Blog Network! I am posting a book review of The Wonder Weeks over at Team Cartwright! Guest posting for us is Carrie Wiley! She's got some amazing tips for going to theme parks with a toddler!

Tips for Theme Parks with a Toddler

Some families choose to wait to travel to theme parks until their children are older. We are not one of those families! There are solid reasons for waiting until they are older, but for our family the hustle and bustle is so worth it for the memories with have with our kids.

That being said, the toddler years can be difficult enough to navigate on their own without throwing a big trip or theme park into the mix. I have taken toddlers to theme parks several times and have learned some things along the way…


This clock keeps coming up in the discussion group that is set up for this blog! I also keep mentioning it in all of my posts because I am just in love with this product (and no it was not given to me to review LOL)!

When I was first researching ok to wake clocks, there were lots of other clocks that were much cheaper than this one. I had a really hard time getting over the price, initially. I am glad I stuck with my gut, however, and chose the My Tot Clock above the others. This clock has a ton of features, and we utilize most of them! We started using this clock when Caroline was 18 months old. This seemed to be the perfect age for us! It then helped Caroline make a seamless transition into her big girl bed!

So, let's talk about all of the amazing features and what it does!

- The clock: The clock itself shows both an analog and digital version of the time. This means nothing to my toddler at the moment, but when she is old enough to learn how to tell time, she'll have a great little clock to look at!

Sewing is not something that comes very easy for me. I don't have the patience to do it well. I can figure out a basic pattern if need be, and I can do a decent job, but the reality is that I prefer the no sew route! Especially for something that is going to be worn ONCE...maybe twice?!?

Halloween is also not a favorite holiday of mine. I am trying to get excited about it, however, now that I have an almost 2 year old that is going to love it!

So, when I was thinking of what costume to get her, I knew I didn't want to spend an arm and a leg (or spend an enormous amount of time creating something), that she was going to wear once.

Her favorite characters right now are Elmo, Daniel Tiger, and O the Owl (from Daniel Tiger). A mom can only take sooo much Elmo haha, and this girl really loves owls. So, I thought it would fun to make a simple owl costume for her.

What is Babywise? This post might surprise you! Most people think of scheduling and routines, which is only part of the whole story! Babywise is a scheduling methodology at it's core. It is bigger than this, however. If you can establish good routines and schedules with your baby/toddler/child, you can help them in all facets of their lives. A child that is well rested, will inherently be better behaved and eager to learn. It is so much more than just schedules, however.

Dear Caroline,

Daddy and I have so many moments lately where we look at each other and our hearts just instantly explode with love and pride. You amaze us every day right now. You always pleasantly surprise us, and are just growing up so fast. We are so proud of you and all that you do. Today it was something simple like pounding down a bowl full of ice cream all on your own with no help. You used the spoon perfectly and hardly made a mess at all. The other day it was that you said the word yellow perfectly. Yesterday it was that you saw something red, and then mentioned that Elmo is also red. You make connections like nobody's business. You are so smart. We are so full of love.