Posts by christy:

How to Help Kids Who Are Afraid of the Dark

Lately, my preschooler has announced that he is afraid of the dark…and bedtime has been more of a challenge.  I know that kiddos go through different phases at different times, and I figured that some other kids and parents must be going through the same thing.  Today, I’d like to talk about how to help kids who are afraid of the dark…and also ask our readers to share their tips!

child-afraid-of-dark

First, let me start by saying that it just breaks my heart to see the fear in my little man’s eyes once the lights go out. We’re not really sure what’s triggered this recent struggle, but for him it is real.  We’ve tried several different approaches with him (some have worked, some haven’t), and I’ve also informally polled some of my close mama friends.  Here’s what I’ve found helps my son…

Acknowledge their fear

For us, it seemed like this fear came out of no where.  One night he was absolutely fine, the next night he was upset and afraid.  We couldn’t figure out what had scared him or prompted this fear of the dark in the last 24 hours, so we didn’t really know how to handle it.  We responded with a big hug and a kiss, and an  “It’s fine sweetie, you’re fine.  Just close your eyes and go to sleep.”  This did not go over well.  The more we didn’t address his fear, the more agitated he seemed to get.

Whatever was scaring him about the dark was real to him, even though he couldn’t quite articulate it.  I think it’s important to acknowledge their fear to:

1.) Show you are listening and understand their problem.

2.) You are validating that they really are scared of something and that you will do everything you can to help them.  This went a long way with our little man.

“What’s so scary?”

This seems like a no-brainer, right?  And at first, our son couldn’t really pinpoint what was bothering him so much.  It was just “the dark.”  We we wracking our brains for what it could be – did he accidentally see something scary on TV?  Was there talk on the playground that triggered a fear?  Did he see something in a book?  With kids, sometimes there is no rhyme or reason…

So instead of accepting “the dark,” as the reason, we kept working with him to figure out what went wrong…spending extra time with him during the day when he wasn’t scared and panicked at bedtime.

A couple of days in, he finally shared that he was scared of.

#1 – FIRE

He had seen Big Hero 6 a few months ago, and the fire scene where a building on fire explodes apparently really freaked him out. Months later.  Who knew?!

#2 – SNAKES

We still haven’t figured out the source of this one.

#3 – LONELINESS  

He was lonely and wanted someone to sleep in the room with him (not in his bed – just nearby).

Okay, we can work with this.  So I encourage you to keep talking to your kiddo during the day about their fear – ask questions – if they are old enough, have them draw you a picture…whatever works.  Keep at it until you figure it out.  And you know what?  It may just simply be “the dark.”  And that’s okay, too.

Scaring the “scaries” away

This can definitely be tailored to your kiddos individual needs.  I’ve started a list of what helps our little one, and I’d love to hear your ideas, too!

– We have had success with good old-fashioned deep breathing, hugs and extra TLC.

– Put a night light in their room.  We actually have a little mini handheld “cool to touch” night light from Brookstone that works well for him…and he keeps it by his bed.

– He wants his door all the way open.  We thought for sure the white noise from us and the house would keep him up…but surprisingly, he felt comforted knowing mom and dad were close.  Whatever works.

– We gave him a new special stuffed animal (you could make this a blankie, lovey, whatever) just for bedtime.  It is there to help “protect him,” and he seems to love it.  I’m not sure if this is a good or bad thing in the long run, but right now it’s helping.  Back to…whatever works.

– Do a room check before lights go out.  Have your kiddo help you look under the bed, in their closet, dresser drawers, whatever.  This might help them feel more secure knowing their room is “clear” before lights go out.

– A spray bottle.  Let me explain.  Take an empty spray bottle, fill it with water, and make a cute label for it.  Explain this spray is to keep the…monsters, snakes, boogie man, etc. away.  Have them have access to the spray bottle…or if you’re worried about them dousing themselves or their beds, you can help them spray the room before bedtime.

And, if water is really an issue, don’t fill it with anything.  Tell them it is a special “magical” mixture.  Get creative – lol!

– Pillow pets.  I’m sure you’ve seen them…they are those cute little animals shaped in the size of a small pillow that can light up.  Kids can snuggle them, or put them on their bed.  Some even project stars on the ceiling – check out this cute penguin on Amazon (affiliate)!   Both of my kids have these Pillow Pets Dream Lites, and love them.

– Hello baby monitor – again.  I had another parent suggest re-installing an old baby monitor.  You can let your child know that you can hear everything going on in his room, and you will be there on the double if they need you.  And you can show them how the monitor works.

Educating them

Taking this one step further, if you can really identify what’s freaking them out about the dark (i.e. fire and snakes for our son), you can help educate them and talk them through what’s so scary.  One of my dear mama friends and favorite teachers was helping me brainstorm some of the ways I could help our little guy, and I thought the education part could be applied to anything.

For example, she suggested that I take my son to the fire department for a tour.  Let him see the fire truck and all of the equipment, talk to the firefighters, and ask questions.  She even said there were some stickers we can place in each of our bedroom windows to alert firefighters how many rooms are occupied with people (note to self – get these stickers – great idea!).

At home, my husband showed him how our smoke detector worked and set it off so our son could hear the beeping noise.

Oh, and we also explained what snakes eat.  And little boys were not on the menu.

Point is, if you can help your child communicate what they are afraid of, you can talk with them and educate them…and hopefully, it may help lesson their anxiety.  It’s worth a shot, right?!

What are some of your tips and tricks?  If you have a great idea, please share below!  I’d love to hear from you.

Local Love: Fun For You and Your Little Ones!

Toddler Camp OC_Final [sponsor]

Today, I’m excited to share all about Toddler Camp OC with you – a weekly outing designed specifically for toddlers that provides a themed “adventure” for parents (or caregivers) and their child to experience all the best local spots, entertainment and kid programs.

Toddler Camp OC is a fantastic way to get out with your little ones and enjoy your local community, while meeting new friends (both parents and kids!).

Because as we moms know, it takes a village (right?!), and there is nothing better than meeting other moms who are going through the same stages and phases you are, while letting your kiddos meet other kiddos their own age.  Plus, at Toddler Camp OC, you’ll probably learn about places and programs you didn’t even realize existed.

How It Works

The SoCalMoms Education Director creates developmentally appropriate projects, curriculum, and play opportunities specifically for toddlers.  This is a great way to introduce your toddler to many of the skills they are expected to learn during their first year of preschool.

Arts and crafts or sensory projects are included in each outing, as well as a healthy snack for both parents and children.

Plus, new toddler products, brands and parenting experts and topics will be introduced throughout the session.

Each camp is approximately 8 to 10 weeks long, and meets once a week in the morning from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Toddler Camp OC is now registering for spring and summer sessions.

The “ABCDs” of The Toddler Camp OC Program

Toddler Camp OC believes in these core values and incorporates them into their toddler curriculum and programs:

A.  Positive Early Learning

Toddler Camp provides a positive comprehensive program featuring multiple themed activities, sensory play, and outdoor adventures.

B. Social Development

They offer toddlers a chance to interact, share, and play with other children of similar ages in a variety.

C. Explore & Discover

They motivate families to explore and discover local and regional places, programs, and entertainment designed to stimulate toddler.

D.
 Parenting Resources 

They offer families the opportunity to socialize, and to access the best local parenting experts who host mini-talks.

Here are some great FAQs for further information.

Upcoming Spring Toddler Camp OC 

The Toddler Camp OC spring session will be held from Wednesday, March 18th to Wednesday, May 20th, and is enrollment based.

Their cute spring themes include: music, fitness, nature, colors, spring, cooking, imagination, messy art, family, create & build and carnival and will be held from

You will be asked to register for a specific local group (convenient for you), which meets one day a week for the term of the session (10 weeks).  Or you can choose a six-week package, which can allow you more flexibility.

Once you have registered, you will receive weekly emails with the schedule for the following week – or you can view the weekly Toddler Camp schedule HERE.

Cost:

The cost of a 10-week session is $250.00 and a six-week session is $150.

You can also purchase series packages with discounted rates.  Occasionally, a weekly drop in rate is available.

Join Toddler Camp OC For An Open House

Join Toddler Camp OC on Wednesday, March 18th at 10 a.m. for their “Open House Creative” kick-off event.   This is your opportunity to get to know the program, plus meet other moms in your local community.  This first day event includes a welcome brunch, interactive arts and crafts, bubbles, balloons, goody bags and more!

This “Open House Creative” will be held at 1602 Babcock St. Costa Mesa, CA 92627.  Join the fun!

A Tiny Oranges Deal!

Toddler Camp OC is offering a discount to all Tiny Oranges readers (yay!).  Use the code “TinyOranges” for 10% off your registration fee!

Contact Us

Toddler Camp OC is based out of central OC.  Click here for more information and to register for their spring session.

Hotline for parents:  1-323-487-CAMP
Email:  info @ toddlercamp.com

Fun Ways to Announce Your Pregnancy

Hi all, from pregnancy-land!  

As promised, I’m going to have a handful of upcoming posts that address all things pregnancy, starting with a post on fun ways to announce your pregnancy.  fun-ways-to-announce-your-pregnancy

There is nothing in the world like seeing a positive pregnancy test – your life changes in that moment, in that instant.

Whether your pregnancy was planned or whether it is an unexpected blessing, there comes a time when you are ready to announce your special news.

Telling your partner

My husband has always wanted to be with me as we wait for the test to turn negative or positive…but I have always wanted to have that moment where I catch him off guard with our news.  This being our third pregnancy, I was determined to surprise him.  And have a fun story to tell.

I had bought two newborn onesies…one for a girl, one for a boy. I was testing the day after his birthday, so I was going to tell him that I had one more present for him…and have him open the onsies, with a note saying “Pink or Blue, Can’t Wait to See – Because We’re Expecting #3!”

That is…until I took the test at 5 a.m. (he had woke up for an early morning run, waking me up, and then of course I couldn’t go back to sleep).  I snuck into another bathroom to test, was half asleep, and thought for sure the test was negative.  As I was throwing it away, a faint (I mean very faint) second line appeared.  O.M.G.  This was really happening!  And I needed a second set of eyes to tell me that I wasn’t just seeing things.

There went my surprise plan.  I raced back into our room and shrieked, “Honey, come in here NOW and see this.”  He stumbled in (also half asleep), thinking something was wrong with one of our big kids, and then saw the test. So I guess I technically surprised him!

However you plan to share with your partner, it will be a moment you two will always talk about.  Here are some cute ideas for sharing the news:

– From parents.com – Fun Ways to Tell Your Husband You Are Pregnant

– From www.justmommies.com – Creative Ways to Tell Your Husband That You’re Pregnant 

– From www.modernmom.com – Ways to Tell My Husband I’m Pregnant

Telling your family and close friends

We couldn’t keep this news from our parents and siblings for very long (our beaming faces and giggles kind of gave it away) , so they knew the same day we took a positive test.  As for our close friends, we started quietly sharing our good news as the pregnancy progressed.  But, I did look around and find some fun ways ways to announce your pregnancy to family and friends…

– From www.pregnancyandbaby.com – Unique and Creative Ways to Announce to Your Husband, Friends and Family That You Are Pregnant 

– From www.whattoexpect.com – Creative Ways to Tell People You’re Pregnant

– From www.pregnancyandbaby.com – How to Announce Your Pregnancy 

– From www.babycenter.com – What Are Some Fun Ways You’ve Used to Tell Your Family You’re Pregnant

Telling your big kids

We decided to tell our big kids after we had our first doctor’s appointment and we saw/heard the heartbeat.  Once we knew everything was as healthy as it could be, we decided to tell our kiddos.  Also, because this pregnancy has been particularly difficult and I have been sick a LOT, we wanted to let them in on what was going on.

I had special “Promoted to Big Brother” and “Big Sister Again” Christmas ornaments made, and we gave them to the kiddos on Christmas morning.  They were beyond excited!

Here are some more adorable ways to tell your big kids…

From www.babble.com – 10 Cute Ways to Tell the Kids “We’re Expecting!”

From www.circleofmoms.com – I Need a Cute Way To Tell My Kids I’m Pregnant 

I also found a lot of super cute big sister and big brother t-shirts like these on Amazon (affiliate links)…


Telling Facebook, telling the “world”

Oh boy.  It seems like nothing these days is “official,” until it is announced on Facebook.  I actually think “Facebook official” is the correct term.  Whether you choose to announce over social media, make a big public announcement, or have announcements printed…here are some adorable and creative ways to do it!

As for our family, we decided to make it “Facebook official” at the beginning of our second trimester, and we had professional pictures taken of our sweet family of four…growing to a family of five.  It was a wonderful way to capture everyone’s excitement and love for this wonderful, amazing new little angel joining our family this summer!

– From iheartpears.blogspot.com – 22 Awesome Pregnancy Announcement Ideas

– From www.buzzfeed.com – 23 Creative Ways To Tell the World You’re Having a Baby

– From www.whattoexpect.com – 7 Cool Fall-Themed Pregnancy Reveal Ideas

– From happyhomefairy.com – 30 Creative Ways to Announce Pregnancy

How did you announce your pregnancy?  I would love to hear about it!  Please share your fun ways to announce your pregnancy in the comments below.

Photo by Fotograffe Photo Studio & Gallery 

Little Hands, Big Skills

Ways to practice fine motor skills with kids

My little man is going to be entering kindergarten next year (I can’t believe it!), so kinder prep is definitely on my mind! And as part of kindergarten prep,  I am working with him at home to strengthen certain school skills, including his fine motor skills.  Today I’d like to share my favorite ways to practice fine motor skills with kids…and I’d love to hear yours!

Play Doh and Clay

For my kiddo, Play Doh and clay means fun.  It’s also a great way to have your little ones work with their fingers, learning to shape and mold, while strengthening those their finger and hand muscles.  We like to add toy cars, trucks, planes and boats to the Play Doh fun, and my son builds roads, bridges and swimming pools for them.  He loves it!

Legos

My son is obsessed with Legos.  Obsessed doesn’t even begin to cover it!  And, I am totally fine with this…because he’s learning to manipulate teeny tiny pieces and fit them together. Especially now, since he’s graduated to the “big kid” Lego sets with those small pieces.  He thinks mom is cool, it’s his “free” play time, and he’s practicing fine motor.  Check, check, and check!

The Coin Game

One of my favorite teachers recommended this game, and my little guy loves it!  Set out a bunch of coins on the table, and have your child practice flipping them over.  That may seem like a simple task, but those little fingers have to work extra hard to pinch and grasp the smaller coins to flip them over.

Bonus: If you’re feeling ambitious, you can practice counting the coins, talking about the different denominations and sorting by size or value.

Puzzles

Again, having your child put together puzzles – especially ones with smaller pieces – is another great way for your kiddo to practice picking up small items, critically thinking about where they go, and work carefully to fit them together.

Painting

Also a fun (and messy!) way to help your little one practice their fine motor skills.  Get smaller paint brushes, put little splurts of paint on a paper plate, and ask your child to paint their picture…I usually take a coloring book page or print something off of the Internet.  That way they are trying to carefully stay in the lines.  Their first attempt may be one blob of color, and that’s okay!!  Have them keep at it, and keep practicing!

Tracing

This includes drawing shapes and letters on blank pieces of paper, doing worksheets…and even iPad apps when we’re on the go!  My son loves tracing letters (and you can get creative here…use pencils, crayons, glitter, Cheerios, etc.), and he also loves tracing lines…think one of those “start here,” and trace to the finish line, worksheets.

My husband also found an app he loaded onto our iPad called, “Little Writer,” which allows a child to trace letters, numbers, shapes and words with their fingers.  I’m sure there are tons of apps that could be helpful – check some out!

Cutting Out Shapes

Like I mentioned above, I have my son either trace…or draw…a shape.  Then, I ask him to cut it out.  And we’re starting with BIG shapes that are easier for him to cut right now.  Holding scissors properly is actually pretty difficult at times for little hands and fingers…and I say, the more practice the better.

Favorite Ways to Practice Fine Motor Skills with Kids

Daily Name Log

Everyday, I ask my son to write his name three times at home.  Just three.  I don’t ask him to sit for an hour practicing his letters (let’s be serious – he’s an active 4.5-year-old boy – just getting him to sit still for 10-15 minutes at a time is a victory!).  But, I find that even this small investment of time and small investment of practice has made a huge difference.  It also gives me the opportunity to see how he is holding his pencil and help correct when needed.

And, here’s what I’m noticing.  There are days he whines about writing his name three times…and we battle.  And, there are days he wants to write his name 10 times, plus asks to do worksheets and art projects.  Progress and baby steps!

Here are some of my favorite fine motor skill activity ideas I got from Pinterest: 

12 Fun Ways to Pratice Handwriting with Preschoolers 

Cutting Practice and Learning Shapes

Fine Motor Activity – Fruit Loop Towers

 Clothes Pins…

Glue Tracing, Pre-Writing Activity

And, don’t forget to ask your child’s teacher for ideas – they always have fun and creative ways to help your child practice their fine motor skills!

Do you have any tips or tricks that work for your kids?  Please share below!

 

Photo credit:
Flickr, Copyright All rights reserved by Fauxtographical

I have great news!

Great News_1 I am so excited to share with all of you…I’m pregnant!

Wow.  That’s still so awesome (and a little weird!) to say, no matter how many times I say it or how many times I write it.

After 10 years of marriage, my husband and I are ecstatic to welcome our third baby this August.  Woo hoo!!  I am excited to share this journey with you, and take this opportunity to write more about pregnancy and babies!  Yes, as you can imagine, I have babies on the brain.

What I’m quickly realizing is that a lot has changed in the 4.5 years since I’ve been pregnant. A lot.  New gizmos, new trends, new debates, new terminology.  In other words, plenty of new blogs to write and explore!

But first, a little about my family and our announcement…

As you have probably gotten to know my family over the years, we are blessed with a beautiful 7 year-old daughter and 4.5 year-old son.  Who couldn’t be more excited and happy to have “their” new baby here this summer.

As we’ve started sharing this fantastic baby news with family and friends (it has been sooooo hard to keep quiet!), one of the first questions we have been asked (hesitantly) is if this was a (shhhh!!!) planned pregnancy.  It’s okay to ask us!  We won’t be offended, promise!  The answer?  It absolutely was.  We purposely decided to put an age gap between our 2nd and 3rd baby.  Because, well….we were exhausted.

I don’t mean a little tired.  I mean EXHAUSTED.  Our kiddos are about 2.5 years apart, and Elizabeth was still in diapers when Nathan was born.  It has been a crazy, amazing, loud, chaotic, fun parenthood journey, learning to navigate being a mom of two close in age.  The best, actually. But frankly, we needed a little break from the baby stage.  Just keeping it real, mamas.

I can totally relate to Susanne’s “To Third or Not to Third” post, because that was us.  We had “the talk,” about, oh, 450 times over the years. Ultimately, we decided that we LOVE being parents, LOVE our precious kiddos, and just saw ourselves having a big family.  And apparently, very little sleep – ha ha!

Because we are starting completely over (gulp).  Which is both very exciting and also terrifying.  Let’s start dragging out the 15,000 tupperware “baby bins” full of clothes, toys, blankies, etc., we’ve been storing in the garage forever!  (Yep, I kept everything, “just in case.” I bet you’re not surprised.)

I’ll have two in elementary school and an infant snuggling, crying, feeding, fussing, and cooing at home.  Someone reminded me the other day that when this newest baby is in kindergarten, my oldest will be in 8th grade. O.M.G.  Of course, I can do the math.  But seriously, just putting their age difference in that kind of perspective made me stop in my tracks.

Speaking of my two “bigs,” (Yes, I have now promoted my “baby” boy to a “big.” He’s almost five…tear!), they have been asking us for a new baby for more than a year.  They are absolutely over-the-moon happy about the pregnancy, and we talk about it as their baby, too.  They give my little baby bump kisses and hugs, and read it stories.  Which makes me cry.  Because I pretty much cry at anything theses days.  I know they are going to be the BEST helpers, protectors, and friends to this new little life.

So, here we go!  I can’t wait to share this fun, crazy pregnancy journey with you…stay tuned!

Photo taken by Fotograafe Photo Studio & Gallery

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