Baby Brother is almost two, and being the third boy, it has been a struggle to know what he might like that the older brothers already have. I have made a collection of some of the top gifts for toddlers to help others in our situation! These toys have all been tested and approved by Baby Brother, so enjoy! I will be adding to this throughout the season, so check back to see some more great gifts of 2015!
With the first cool, fall wind blowing through Texas, I know that it's time to start preparing for cold and flu season. We all have bouts with allergies, viruses, coughs, and more during fall and winter, despite all that we do to prevent us from getting sick. Sometimes all of the prevention is not good enough, and we need to have things on hand just to make the littles feel better when they're sick!
A few years ago, we were able to try Maty's Healthy Products. We really enjoyed their natural products for kids, so I was happy to stock our medicine cabinet with Maty's products once again. Wouldn't you know, Baby Brother, who is almost 2, came down with a cold last week and developed a pretty nasty cough that kept waking him up at night. I rubbed some Maty's Baby Chest Rub on his feet and put a pair of socks on him and sent him back to bed. The all natural baby chest rub did the trick and he was able to sleep the rest of the night without his cough waking him up. And you know, if it helps the baby to sleep better and NOT wake me up all night, then it's a huge blessing!
I've become frustrated with coughs since having children. It's just so sad to hear your little ones coughing and not being able to sleep soundly. We have tried numerous things to treat coughs, but there really aren't very many choices for cough syrup for any kids under about 6, because they are not safe. Maty's provides drug-free relief with their cough syrup for children. Just look at the ingredients list:
My last "must have" for the cold and flu season is Maty's petroleum free baby ointment. This stuff is great for diaper rashes, eczema, and the sore and red nose that comes from wiping it a million times a day. (My secret tip that I learned from hubby is to sneak in after they go to sleep and slather them with this stuff so they don't fuss and rub it off!) It works to protect the skin and create a barrier from moisture. And the fact that it's natural and petroleum free is awesome!
Maty's is available in many places, including my favorite grocery store, HEB, along with Amazon, Target, and the Maty's website. Also, look on the site for the store locator, product info, and all about these wonderful products!
How do you prepare for cold and flu season?
Baby Brother is 22 months old, so not really a baby anymore, but he is our baby. He is likely more…dare I say it…spoiled…than the other two were, only because he has two adoring older brothers who think he is the funniest, cutest, BEST baby brother anyone could possibly have. Hubby and I have also loosened up on some things that would never have flown when the Captain or D were this age, simply because we have had to. No rigid nap or bedtime schedules because it just isn't possible and never has been with three kids. (And let me tell you, that has made life a LOT less stressful!) We also give him more sweets than the older two ever had at this age. Oh, and gum. It wasn't our intention to give him gum at this age. I think the Captain was 3 before we ever let him chew gum and even then, he was very closely monitored! He was our first child, and we were learning. But with Baby Brother….he is so tall and so curious…he finds gum, sometimes chewed, sometimes unchewed..ick…and has at it. He also gets ice cream in the carseat and makes an absolute mess because, well, it's mean to not let a one-year-old have ice cream and watch his brothers eat theirs!
Baby Brother has a bit of a hitting problem, however, and that's not something we take lightly. I think the Captain hit me once in his lifetime, when he was angry. I told him if he was mad, he could hit the bed or couch, but he could never, ever hit another person and since he is usually obedient, he listened. He didn't hit back when D was a toddler and lashed out when he got mad. And of course he doesn't hit Baby Brother when he hits….for no reason. Baby Brother hits a lot, you see. He likes to hit, the boys laugh at him, and so this is our life. He mainly targets D, and sometimes he hurts him. He also throws things at him and kicks him. He gets appropriate punishment and has to apologize, but it's a slow, slow process and a seemingly never-ending phase. That's the thing about phases though…they WILL come to an end!
For a few weeks now, Baby Brother has been saying "hit bubbas!" and laughing. I'll say "no, we do not hit our brothers." I also say "it's not funny to hit." to which he replies with "funny." He's a stinker, but he's almost two and I constantly have to remind myself that yes, some things he "gets" and some things he doesn't. He hears the word "funny" and repeats it. He's not saying "yes, Mommy, actually it IS funny to hit them!" (At least I hope not.)
This past Sunday, I was staying in the nursery during church and Baby Brother grabbed a toy hippo. It was pretty much all he played with for a good 15 minutes. It was the heavier type of animal toy and he liked banging it on the table. I was scared he was going to launch it at one of the babies, but he never did, thank goodness.
Fast forward to last night. He was staying up late with Daddy and me, as he often does so he will actually sleep through the night and not wake me up early, and he brought a toy elephant to me. He said "hit bubbas!" and it clicked. He was never saying "hit bubbas!" He was saying "hippopotamus!" I said "do you think that's a hippopotamus?" and he smiled and said "hit bubbas," which is really more like "hip pobbas" now that I actually listened closely. He was so thrilled that Mommy finally knew what he was talking about!!! I told him that he was actually holding an elephant, but it did look a lot like a hippopotamus. Then I started wondering what else he has been saying that I haven't taken the time to actually listen to what he's trying to say. Mom guilt, anyone?
Here's Baby Brother, saying "hippopotamus:"
So, while he does still hit and knows how to say "hit," he also knows how to say other words, like HIPPOPOTAMUS and Mommy is going to try her best to listen to him from now on!
Thank you, Lord, for always listening to us, even when we don't always take the time to actually listen to what you're trying to say!
I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Playskool. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for my participation. #PlaySkoolOntheGo
With three kids, our house and van can get pretty cluttered. We have so many toys with so many pieces! We have three backpacks that are full of toys and materials for church that we rotate every few weeks. For these reasons, I have long hoped for on-the-go toys that are just grab…and go, not toys that I have to search for all the parts and they are all strewn about in different rooms in our house. I have hoped for toys that are meant for taking with us to soccer practice, doctor's appointments, grocery shopping, and the dreaded car pick-up line at school. Twenty minutes in a parked car with a toddler in a carseat sometimes feels like an eternity! I often take books for him, but the other day, Baby Brother ripped out a few pages before I could rescue the sad little book.
Playskool has listened to parents like me with ever-changing schedules with their new collection of lightweight, portable products. These time-saving solutions are great for travel and tough transition times, both for kids and their parents! Playtime can happen anytime with these grab and go toys! All of these toys can be easily compacted to stow inside strollers, diaper bags, purses, and some can even fit into a jacket pocket! Brilliant!
Baby Brother will turn 2 in November and he is getting very opinionated! He is learning new words every day and learning new ways to make us laugh. He loves getting a reaction out of everyone and loves telling strangers that I am his mommy. He is just so, so much fun. But, like I said, he's also getting very opinionated! I love this age because he is finally able to (usually) tell us what he needs, but not always. Most of the time, he is a happy go lucky toddler, but sometimes he is just in a foul mood! That's true of all of us though, right?
So what are the things you need to keep a toddler content?
1. Food. Some days it seems that Baby Brother is constantly eating! His favorite foods are strawberries, grapes, bananas, beef, chicken, ketchup, roasted broccoli, and prunes….all cut into appropriate sizes, of course. He is allowed one prune a day because of obvious reasons, but man, does he love his prune! It's like a special treat! If he sees a bag of prunes in the store, watch out, he's got to have them. I don't know what it is about prunes, but he loves them!! And if we're eating a meal and he doesn't like it, if it's acceptable to eat it with ketchup, he will, and it usually makes it more edible for him.
2. Sleep. Baby Brother is like the Captain in that he will fight sleep for as long as possible, but when he is sleepy, you will know it. The worst is right before naptime. He knows his routine and makes sure you know about it if you're past schedule. Bedtime is a bit different in that he's a night owl!
3. Fun. Not toys, just fun. Anything can be fun for a toddler. Mommy's cup of water on the table, the remote control, brother's favorite blanket, a marker, or you know, the toilet is always a blast!
4. Love and Attention. Not that you COULD ignore our michievous toddler, but if you try, Baby Brother doesn't really like it. He's a little tiny human and needs love, attention, and lots of hugs and kisses, too!
5. A dry diaper. Admittedly, it's easy to forget to change Baby Brother's diaper unless he complains. He is the third child, after all and he's not a heavy wetter like his older brothers were. It also helps to have a dependable diaper that holds up and lasts. His skin is also really sensitive, so he has to have a diaper that doesn't sag, either.
This is a sponsored post brought to you by Gerber and Mom Select. All opinions are mine.
Baby Brother is in that crazy phase of wanting to be independent, but not really being able to do much for himself. He's learning to talk and feed himself, but he still needs a lot of practice. Mealtimes are messy and while is usually willing to try anything, he has discovered there are some things he does not like to eat. We have all figured out that if he is hungry, nobody is happy. He isn't quite able to tell us what he wants, or even that he is hungry, but he is learning. It's a trying phase for all of us. I like to keep snacks on hand that I know he loves for those times when he is just hangry and we are between meals or dinner won't be ready for awhile.
Baby Brother's favorite snacks are fruit, yogurt, and Gerber fruit strips and yogurt melts. I know that if he is hungry, he will never deny those snacks! Gerber products make it easy to snack on the go, too. We all know that hangry toddlers in the car, at the store, or at church are not pleasant. Baby Brother loves to feed himself and he is so proud when he can! Gerber graduates keep that in mind when creating their delicious snacks for toddlers!
Gerber is making snack and mealtimes a Win Win for you, too. The products that we know and love now have an added bonus. If you visit the Gerber Win Win page, you will see the easy steps to get your own Gerber Graduates gift set, valued at $11.98. The gift set includes a Gerber® mealmatTM by NUK® and a Gerber® bib. Simply purchase 10 Gerber Graduates products all in the same shopping trip, upload a picture of your receipt, and receive your gift set to make mealtimes more fun! See… it's a Win-Win!
We recently took a family vacation to Walt Disney World in Orlando. It was a great opportunity with a group of homeschool families to participate in Disney's YES class. Hubby had been to Disney World a few times as a child, but I had never been. To say I was apprehensive and nervous to take three young kids is an understatement! Hubby and I talked about it and we also talked with others who had taken friends to Disney World and we decided it was a great opportunity that we should just sign on for and hope for the best! I began reading up and educating myself as to what to expect. I *may* have driven hubby a bit crazy a few times, but hey, I needed to be prepared! We waited until about 48 hours before we left to tell the boys we were going to Disney World, which was the best decision for all of us. It was hard to wait, but it was worth it!
Many people (even strangers at the store, oddly enough) had told me "wait until they're older so they will remember!" and honestly, that did concern me. I was worried that I would be standing around trying to keep Baby Brother, who was 15 months when we went, while the other boys and Daddy rode all the fun rides. I was worried about naps, food, night time sleeping, and more. Would it be a disaster? Our trip was Monday – Friday and oh yeah, we would all fly in an airplane together, too! That was a first for the boys, but I'm so happy to tell you that the plane ride went more smoothly than I could have even imagined. I made sure to pack all of the essentails: diapers, wipes, sippy cups, snacks, snacks, and more snacks! Also, coloring books, crayons, books, and tablets for the older two.
Most people really do know more about Disney World than I did, but just in case you don't, I have thought and thought about the best tips for how to survive and enjoy your trip, even if you DO have an active toddler! Please leave any other suggestions you may have in the comments section, as well. I have broken this into two parts, so make sure to check out Part 2 at a later date, as well!
1. Think about the season when making plans.
If at all possible, plan your vacation during a pleasant season. It's Orlando and it is often hot and/or rainy. We went in March and it was hotter than I would have liked the first three days and cold the next two. You just never know, but I, personally, cannot imagine hauling a toddler around in the summer heat. That's just my preference though! Just make sure, no matter when you go, to pack sunscreen, ponchos, and have lots of water on hand. I was told that any restaurant in Disney would give you free water and ice, but we just took chilled water bottles in a small soft cooler.
2. Have groceries delivered to your room.
We had pre-arranged for a few essential groceries to be delivered to our resort when we arrived. We used Garden Grocer and were very satisfied, but there are other services available, (I just haven't used them so I can't recommend them one way or the other.) If you spend less than $200, you will have to pay a $15 delivery fee, but to us, that was SO worth it! We were without a car, so it was so beneficial to have fresh fruits, deli meats, crackers, yogurt, and bottled water readily available for us. (I highly recommend grapes and apple slices for the kids. They are easy to pack for a day at the parks.) A few days before we left, I ordered online, chose a time frame for delivery, and then when it was delivered, I received a text. We called the front desk and a resort crew member delivered our order to our room. Note: check Garden Grocer's facebook page, because they have a discount available the earlier you order.
3. Plan fast passes accordingly, as soon as you can.
Fast Passes are available for anyone staying on Disney World property and can be accessed with your ticket or Magic Bands, (which are THE best thing ever, by the way! You can pay with them, get into the parks with them, zoom through a line with your Fast Passes…they're so awesome!) Whenever we received our tickets, I researched which rides the Captain (age 6) and D (age 4) could ride, and also, which rides Baby Brother could ride. I tried to schedule one a day that the Captain could ride with Daddy and at the same time, D, Baby Brother, and I could ride a different ride together. I then scheduled a Fast Pass for the two older boys to use with Daddy, and we used the Rider Switch option so Daddy could ride with the older boys while I watched Baby Brother, and then we switched and I got to ride with the older boys while Daddy watched Baby Brother. (Splash Mountain was especially awesome for this!) Check the Disney World site or app to see what rides Baby can ride and start planning. (More about this in Part Two!)
4. Make reservations early
I had absolutely no clue what to expect for food, so I did a lot of research a couple of months in advance. Turns out you can make reservations 180 days in advance. I didn't, and we managed just fine, but we also didn't have the best options all of the time. We chose not to purchase the Disney dining plan since our boys' eating habits are hit or miss, but it is definitely something to look into if you have a family full of big eaters. We decided to only make three reservations and try out the quick service, resort dining, or delivered food the rest of the time. We made reservations for lunch at Via Napoli at Epcot one day (Mariah from Formula: Mom wrote about her family's great lunch experience at Via Napoli, so check that out!) Make sure to look at the map and see where the restaurant is before making reservations. The worst 15 minutes of our entire trip was lugging three hot, hungry, grumpy boys all the way to Via Napoli in Epcot, but we survived.
Via Napoli was excellent for the boys and us, too! The food was authentic and delicious. We split a pizza and Arancini, which are fried risotto balls filled with mozzarella and meat ragu. Baby Brother really liked those!
We also had lunch at The Plaza Restaurant in Magic Kingdom another day, which was good and reasonably priced. It is a restaurant filled with mirrors and lots of natural light, and plenty to look at, which was great for Baby Brother. Plus, the boys' meals came with their choice of dessert!
The final day of our trip, we had a character lunch at Hollywood & Vine (or Play 'n Dine) in Hollywood Studios. My boys are still into Disney Junior, so Play 'n Dine was so perfect for us. They were excited to get to meet Sofia the First, Jake, Doc McStuffins, and Handy Manny, all while eating delicious food.
It was over $100 for all of us to eat (Baby Brother was free,) but there was seriously more than enough choices for all of us. It is a full buffet of salad, meat, veggies, fruits, dessert, and many, many different entrees. Hubby's favorite was the lobster and shrimp mac & cheese and mine was the salmon. The boys ate meatballs, salad, chicken nuggets, and more.
Drinks are included and the tip is automatically added, so keep that in mind when planning. It was well worth it, but I cannot say we would pick the same place again. We might try a different character restaurant next time.
Note about reservations: Just because your reservation is for a certain time, you might still have to wait. I think we waited 15-20 minutes to get a table at Hollywood & Vine, but it was ok. I felt a bit rushed because we had Fast Passes for the Frozen Sing Along show right after lunch, but we made it and all was good.
We found the quick service restaurants to all be awesome. Plenty of choices for everyone and the kid's meals all came with two sides and a drink (water, juice, milk, etc). The kid's meals were a great thing, in my opinion! The favorite kid's meal of the week was at Restaurantosaurus at Animal Kingdom, because they came in their own pail with a shovel, for the same price. Fun!
You can also take small coolers into the parks, as long as they aren't on wheels. Taking a picnic lunch would be a great idea, if you have the space to store it.
5. Request a Pack 'n Play and/or Bedrails at Disney World Resorts
When making your resort reservation, request that any pack 'n play or bedrails you may need be delivered to your room upon arrival. This was SO helpful! Not having to worry about lugging a pack 'n play on the plane was priceless! Baby Brother's pack 'n play even came with a Mickey Mouse crib sheet in it. D's bed had one bed rail, and that really helped, as well, so I did not have to worry about him falling off of the bed.
Check out Part Two of How to Survive (and Thoroughly Enjoy!) Walt Disney World with an Active Toddler for the rest of what worked for us, rides Baby Brother loved, what must-have baby gear you truly need and how to get the most out of your vacation, despite naps and bedtimes.
Everyone who knows our family or who has read this blog knows that we've struggled to keep the Captain in his own bed at night. You see, shortly after D was born, just after the Captain turned 2, we decided that he needed his own "big boy" bed. We put him in a different room, in a twin bed with bedrails. It worked pretty well. D was not in the crib yet, but everything I had read suggested to give the older sibling time to adjust to the new baby "taking over" his old bed. Hubby and I were house parents at a children's home and would be going back to work shortly, so we wanted to hurry up and get it done, in case the Captain had trouble adjusting. Well, the Captain adjusted dreamily. There were no problems, (except for that he rarely actually wanted to go to bed.) But, he slept through the night in his big boy bed and was well rested, which was great, because we were getting newborn sleep.
This Doodle Pants post was written by me. I received a free product in exchange for my honest opinions.
With having two boys, (and one on the way!) I have always felt our options are limited in the way of cute clothes. Sure, there are a lot of cute clothes for boys, but it's rare that I find something different that is fun, functional, and just plain cute. When we first received these Doodle Pants for D to wear, I honestly wasn't sure if he would go for them. But one look at them, he was game. In fact, he tried them on and wore them around the house for a few hours, in the summer, and then asked for his Doodle Pants the next day! I have a feeling they are very comfortable and they are super fun to just lounge around.
Baby D is two. He has become very independent in the past few months and while it is a natural, good part of his development, but it sure is tiring on his mommy! I remember when the Captain went through this phase, his favorite phrase was "My do it!" and D is no different. Everything must be attempted at least once by himself before allowing anyone to help and if you don't allow him to at least try to do it himself, a meltdown is sure to occur.
The other day we had just gotten the car inspected and they gave us a free car wash. They left the car in line for the car wash and I quickly put D in his carseat. He yelled "NO! My do it!" and then proceeded to climb completely out of the car and climb back in and attempt to buckle himself before saying "help, please." There is no such thing as hurrying with an independent two year old.