Thursday, June 26, 2014

I'm parenting kids, people. KIDS!

On the way home from the park today, I realized something.

While for the past three+ years, I've felt like in my mind that I've been parenting my babies, I realized that I am now parenting children.

Somewhere between the museum, the park play dates, the preschool co-op, the pool, and the zoo - it somehow just hit me that my babies aren't babies any more.  We're not on a blanket on the floor with a few toys.  Instead of being wrapped or worn, both of my little ones are now running, playing, interacting.  The days of babies who observe more than participate are over for these two sweet kiddos.

{Well, at least for Little Lady.  Little Man still loves to sit back for a moment first!}

Today while they were playing with friends, Little Man and Little Lady were both real people, with personalities, real opinions, real voices.  They both had preferences of what and where they wanted to play and both found joy in different activities and areas of play.  Instead of being these small creatures totally and fully dependent on me for absolutely everything, they're beginning to learn what it feels like to venture slightly out of arm's reach to find answers to their own questions.

Of course, they are and will always be MY babies - but it seems like it has happened so fast that they're no longer those squishy, newborn-smelling, puddles of love in my arms.  For Little Man, he was only 13 months when I became pregnant with Little Lady.  He was still so much of a baby when I began preparing and planning for Little Lady's arrival that I think it was just seamless in my eyes to envision them both as my babies together.

But now children, they are.

After the car ride home, the naps, the dinner, and the bath time - everyone received a few extra snuggles tonight, and maybe a few happy tears as well!

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Friday, June 20, 2014

Musical Beginnings Kindermusik Class Review & Giveaway! {Local to Indianapolis!}

* Disclosure - I was provided classes free of charge to facilitate this review, but opinions are 100% honest and my own!

Now that Little Man & Little Lady are both out of the teeny baby stage and into the {sob} toddler and child stage, we've been trying out a few classes for the kids.  One of our favorites has definitely been the Kindermusik class in our area!

If you haven't heard of Kindermusik previously, it's a music class for children from birth to age 7 that focuses not only on music - but on the child's development as a whole.  Kindermusik has actually done research on their curriculum that showed significantly greater language and literacy gains in children who had taken their music classes as compared to a control group who had not!  Here are a few areas that Kindermusik addresses:

When we were given the opportunity to take the kids to our local Kindermusik classes, DH & I jumped on the excellent opportunity!  Ms. Kim, the musical director and owner of the north side Indianapolis and northern Indianapolis suburb offerings of Kindermusik, is a lovely lady who {among her other instructors} is absolutely perfect to the kids.  Not only is she sweet and nurturing to all of the children in her classes, but {as both a mother and grandmother} she understands fully that children learn, participate, and process in their own ways - and she tries to help each child get the best out of her classes by learning a bit of who they each are as little people.

During our first class, I was so overwhelmingly impressed with the overriding theme of music and fun for the kids interlaced with the underlying slightly stealthy educational offering.  Through song and music {as well as reading activities}, Ms. Kim was not only helping the children to sing and dance but also touched on topics such as colors, shapes, directions {up and down, left and right}, and concepts {such as slow vs. fast, on vs. next to, etc.}.  Throughout the whole class, Ms. Kim was fantastically engaging while teaching the children.  I've never seen so many toddlers sit still at one time!

In any one of the Kindermusik classes we attended, my kids were singing, playing musical instruments, listening to sounds and identifying what they were, playing with scarves, playing with hula hoops, rolling and playing with balls, listening to stories, as well as many other activities.  It's honestly the best class we've ever been to that combines musical experiences, language, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, and just knowledge and the acquisition of new vocabulary and concepts in general.

One of the best parts of the Kindermusik classes in my opinion is the variety.  Instead of just going to a catch-all sort of music class elsewhere, with Kindermusik you have options.  During both the typical school year as well as the summer, Ms. Kim offers around seven different classes for your child, depending on their age and interests.

While there are certainly classes made for your child's specific age, one of the class offerings I loved the most was that there are also "family classes" where children of ages 6 months up to 6-7 years are all able to sing, interact, and learn in the same class - so you are able to take all of your children for a single class in one place.

Can I get an amen, activity-frantic mamas?

If this sounds fabulous to you, and you're a local Indianapolis-area parent - well, then do I have some great news for you!  For any new students, with the code KM2014 you will receive a 10% discount on the first month's fees!  Also, because Ms. Kim is awesome and wants to share the musical love with my readers, we're giving away THREE $25 coupons to Musical Beginnings Kindermusik!

{Again, this is a LOCAL giveaway only - so please only enter if you are in the Indianapolis area or know someone local you'd give your winnings to!}

Get to entering the giveaway widget and let me know if you have any questions!!!

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Playdate Preparation? No biggie!

Recently, as I mentioned in one of my last posts, we've been a little busy.  We've had a lot of park dates, play dates, trips out, classes, loads of seriously fun stuff for the kids.  Prepping for those play dates at our home, however?  Goes a little something like this:

Stay up until midnight the night before cleaning.

Set alarm for a half hour before kids usually get up so that you can get ready.

The next morning, toddler comes into your room 5 minutes before that alarm is supposed to go off.

Set up toddler with cartoon, proceed to get ready.

Brush teeth, possibly put on deodorant, get half-dressed before baby wakes.  

Forgo make-up or brushing hair in order to finish putting on clothes and get baby up.

Nurse baby while toddler continues to watch cartoon while also siting on your lap.

Change diapers and put children in day clothes.  

Attempt to make breakfast.

After breakfast is made, toddler requests something different.

Make second breakfast.

Clean first breakfast off the floor from baby.  

Change baby's clothes again, since she ripped off her bib and smashed her food into her shirt.

And hair.

Clean up kitchen again while baby pulls out toys in living room and toddler eats second breakfast.

Feed dog.

Pour yourself cup of tea/coffee/water.

Drink one drink before dog pees on floor because you forgot to let her out.

Clean dog pee, which luckily was only on the tile and not the carpet.  

Take toddler to the bathroom.

Spend next 5 minutes cleaning toilet again because toddler peed everywhere, even though you just cleaned it last night.

Have one more drink.  

Run leftover bucket of laundry into your room, close door.

Proceed to clean living room again from all the toys pulled out.  

Take one bite of a banana.

Doorbell rings.

Does this sound similar to anyone else?

Thankfully, though, the end result of baby smiles is always totally worth the craziness that occurs just before.

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Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Ultimate Race Car Protection for Your Child : Safety 1st Car Seat Giveaway!

* Disclosure - I was provided product in exchange for this sponsored post.  All thoughts are my own.

As Father's Day approaches this year, I've been thinking quite a bit about how we will spend our day celebrating DH and the many, many things he has done for our children over the past 365 days.  Since DH absolutely loves any and everything sports related, we may just head out to a baseball game or a car race in our fantastic city of Indianapolis.

Because of his passion for sports, DH started his career {in his first job out of college} in auto racing.  He had a - quite frankly - really cool job for a company that designed and built telemetry systems for race cars.  If you're not familiar with that terminology, it basically means that he helped race car drivers and their teams understand what each small part or machine on their vehicle was doing at all times - to massively improve not only their success in any given race, but ultimately also the driver's safety.

So, needless to say, safety is also paramount in the way DH & I zoom our children around town as well!

And, while some baby product companies are being left behind in the dust, Safety 1st {and their mother company, the Dorel Juvenile Group} are speeding ahead of the pack - by incorporating the same technology into car seats used by race car drivers.

Advance SE 65 Air + Convertible 

See, because the Dorel Juvenile Group builds it's car seats in Columbus, IN {just about an hour south of us, and also the town where DH held his second job out of college!}, they've been able to work with some of the same companies and utilize the same advances in products and technology as the customized cockpits a race car driver in the IndyCar circuit may use.

{A company that still produces their line of car seats, and other items, in the U.S., only a short hour from where we live?  Fantastic.}

A leader in safety innovation, the patented technology being used by the Safety 1st brand is called GCell HX, and combined with Safety 1st Air Protect Technology, provides full body safety protection in the event of the crash.  GCell HX is a patented foam inspired by racing cars designed in a hexagonal shape for superior torso protection.  Even though the US doesn't currently have side impact standards for car seats, the Dorel Juvenile Group has outfitted these car seats with two air filled pockets (the Air Protect technology) located on the sides of baby's head to cushion baby should there be a side impact collision.

onBoard 35 Air + Infant Car Seat

I'll be hosting a review of a Safety 1st car seat upcoming, but in the meantime, you & your sports loving partners can check out some fantastic information about the Safety 1st line of car seats for our little racers here on AOL's Indiana company spotlight!

And even better?

You can enter here to WIN your choice of either the onBoard 35 Air + Infant or Advance SE Convertible car seat from Safety 1st and the Dorel Group, get to entering below!!!  (Note this is open to the US only)

Happy Father's Day!!!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Summer days, driftin' away...

The past few weeks, I've kind of allowed myself to be swept away by summer a little bit.
The warm weather, the walking paths, the play dates, the new things we've had going on around our home.

I feel like it's really easy this time of year to want to just step away from the computer and the inside for a little bit and focus on spending every waking moment soaking in the sun and the soft breezes.  Especially after the winter we just had!

The kids have been growing like weeds as well.

I feel like I just randomly looked at Little Man today and he's turning into this tall, slim little boy compared to the teeny squishy baby with the rolls that I once knew.  Each day he has more questions about really significant topics.  One explanation is never enough, there are always at least four sub-questions to each topic still, but it's so fantastically amazing how much he is learning and how quickly he is learning it.  Each day, I'm really learning over and over that Little Man benefits the most and prefers to learn the best when he is given not opportunities to do - but really explanations of why for each and every point through the day.  I'm still trying to give him opportunities to interact and learn with and from his environment, but it really is the second best option when it comes to how his brain works.  It's fairly obvious his thought processes are so similar to DH and my dad in their engineering ways - Little Man has to research how it works before he jumps in to try it!

One of the few activities that never needs an explanation - washing his ride!
Little Lady has really hit the big, looming, pre-two-year-old language boom.  She has gone from around 20 words at her last check up to probably 40-50 words now, and gains more words each day.  Some of the words she recently learned being owl, swing, I love you {swoon}, rock, nursies, and many more.  She is so in that fun stage where, when repeated enough, every isolated word has a chance of being repeated back by her teeny little mouth.  With this new boom of language though, Little Lady has very much realized she cannot express all her needs and also has the new-found joy of the exceedingly dramatic, throw yourself on the floor, flail a little bit, and then look up to see if it worked tantrum.  I remember Little Man went through something very similar for a while, and I will be so relieved when she's able to express herself enough that she doesn't need the frustrated slumping on the ground!  For now, if you see us out around town and I'm carrying a wailing, flailing darling - don't mind us a bit!

Both of the kids have been showing me the most adorable snippets of love these past few weeks as well, though.  As I mentioned, Little Lady recently learned to say "I love you."  Typically, she had only been saying it right before bedtime when I said it to her, but recently Little Lady also said it just randomly after I gave her some grapes with her dinner.  Be still, my heart.  She additionally has found comfort through some of her frustrations or upsets in being held so close to me, with her arms squeezing around my neck and back, her face buried into my shoulder.  She is a fierce hugger, and it's absolutely lovely.

Little Man has been having some difficulty getting himself to sleep the past week or so, but I honestly almost don't mind.  Each night, he'll come out of his room and call for us {which we've been encouraging him to do} to use the bathroom an hour or so after we put him in bed.  Once he's finished and put back together for bed though, he doesn't want to go back to sleep.  Some nights I am pretty tired by that point, but other nights I'm just soaking in the extra snuggles, one {or three} more stories, looking out his window and talking about how astronauts reach the big, round moon, or just how he wants to lay quietly together in his bed - reaching out his hand every few minutes to rest on my cheek to make sure I'm still there.

If this is the start to our summer, I think it's going to be a fantastic season of our lives.

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