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Showing posts with label Collaboration. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Collaboration. Show all posts

Monday, June 4, 2018

Learning Through Play

Learning Through Play


This post was created in partnership with PicassoTiles but all thoughts and opinions are of my own.

I absolutely love learning and am a huge advocate for early childhood education except I don't think learning has to mean sitting down doing worksheets or flash cards at the early age of two (and this is what they do in most day cares even before two, trust me I have worked in quite a few of them). Children learn by their environment and their surroundings and by playing. There is honestly nothing extravagant you have to do besides spend quality time playing with your young children.
 As you pick up toys to play with, you naturally discuss the object in hand which could be the color and shape of it. You can ask yourself questions that you of course already know the answer to but your child may not: "does it bounce?" "does it have wheels to push back and forth?" "does it make noise?" All these questions and discussions help build their vocabulary and overtime they catch on to colors and how to identify them. Children will catch on to the different basic shapes. There isn't a need to drill or give them a pop quiz on colors, numbers, shapes, alphabet, etc. During these early years, it isn't about mastering all the concepts as soon as possible or being the smartest two year old because trust me they will have plenty of time to master them. As parents, we want to foster a love of learning and how can that be done if we are constantly doing drills or pulling out the flash cards (not that there is anything wrong with flash cards as some kids really enjoy it). The point is to find your child's favorite activity, be involved and just make conversation with them as you play, even if you think it's over their heads. You don't have to "dumb" stuff down or talk in "baby language" use real words to help expand their vocabulary and their thought process.
This is where toys like PicassoTiles come in handy as their brand truly fosters learning by playing. Sophia loves building and while she is playing with her Alphabet Set Magnet Tiles, our conversations can go so many ways. We can discuss the letter that is on each individual tile, we can discuss the color of the tiles, we can go around the house and see what we can stick the magnets to. We can create 2D or 3D shapes. Our options are really endless as we are fostering early foundations in reading (alphabet), math (shapes, 2D and 3D objects), science (magnetic polars), creativity and imagination (open-ended play possibilities) all while playing.
Tip: You can easily add on to the magnetic tiles just like the bristle blocks I talked about last month as PicassoTiles sells different sets.

We also love playing with PicassoTiles Engineering Construction Set, to push Sophia's creativty even further as she can build whatever her mind can dream of (I have always joked that she is my future engineer since she loves building so much) and if you are stumped like me because my imagination is limited they do have an idea book to get your wheels turning. While you are creating and building, you can discuss the color and the amount of pieces you need: "I need one more yellow piece with three holes" as you grab the piece or "can you pass me that red screw" while pointing at the one you need are all great ways to continually build your child's vocabulary and helping them discover colors, shapes and numbers.
Again, you don't need to create a curriculum to last you through the year and you don't need worksheets galore, just get on the floor and play with your kid with good quality toys that have open-ended creative play like PicassoTiles.

If you know someone who would benefit from this post, please feel free to share. I also created a pinnable image so you can bookmark this post to come back to view later on.

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Stormie Ramirez
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Monday, May 7, 2018

Cloth Diapering 101 | All in Twos (AI2)

Cloth Diapering 101 | All in Twos (AI2)


This post was created in partnership with Lil Helper but all thoughts and opinions are of my own.

We have been cloth diapering for a full month now and I have learned so much so I decided to start a new mini series on my blog, Cloth Diapering 101 (see my New Moms Survival series here and my Nursing Bras series here). Every few weeks or so, I will go into detail about the different types of cloth diapering systems that there are available because cloth diapers have come a long way from flats, safety pins and covers (although that is still an option!).
As I have mentioned on my Instastories (if you are not following me on Instagram yet, you should as I always update there first) we were fortunate to get a cloth diaper loan from the Rebecca Foundation while we build up our own personal stash of cloth diapers. I was researching different brands and came across Lil Helper and the first thing that stood out to me was their Trial Diaper Deal and the more I looked around their website I found their Baby Do Good program. For every three diapers they sell, Lil Helper donates a NEW cloth diaper to a family in need. Being on the receiving end of having diapers donated to me during this unemployed (and now underemployed) season has been an incredible blessing for our family so naturally this sealed the deal for me. 
In case you are curious like I was, I asked how does Lil Helper determine eligibility for families in need and was told they work with disaster relief organizations as well as local programs to donate their diapers to families. The organizations then vet the families for eligibility. A friend even told me that Lil Helper donated a ton of diapers for victims of Hurricane Harvey in the Houston and surrounding area which touched my heart even more that this company has helped many people in my city and beyond (they also provided cloth diapers to Hurricane Katrina victims). Another program that touched my heart and had me in tears was their God Forbid Guarantee. If something unexpected happens during your pregnancy or birth, Lil Helper will refund your entire purchase. I have never personally experienced a miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss but people that are near and dear to me have and knowing the love and understanding that a company puts into their policies is beyond amazing. There really are no words to describe how much care Lil Helper has for their customers.
Now that you know about this amazing company,  I will finally get into the details about the type of cloth diapering system they sell. Lil Helper offers All in Two diapering system options. An All in Two diaper comes in two pieces, the cover and the insert(s). Lil Helper's All in Two systems snap in but other brands could either snap in, lay in or have disposable inserts. The covers can be reused throughout the day while the inserts you change out as they are soiled on (if poop overflows off the inserts and onto the cover then you will need to change the cover as well). Lil Helper offers two inserts with every cover, a large insert and a small insert. You can buy additional inserts as Lil Helper sells Charcoal inserts (these are the ones we have), Bamboo inserts and Overnight inserts.
Lil Helper also offers a range of accessories such as bibs, wet bags, burp cloths, liners, changing mats and cloth wipes. We were able to test out their cloth wipes and I got to say they are extremely soft! We use them as wash cloths but I can imagine how great they would be on your baby's bum. I have researched a bit about cloth wipes and it seems terry cloth is used a lot of the time but terry cloth can be a bit rough in my opinion so I would highly recommend these cloth wipes from Lil Helper to be used as either cloth wipes, bath wash cloths or even baby doll cloth diapers. 

AI2 Pros

  • If the inserts are snapped in ahead of time, they are as easy to use as All in Ones (AIOs).
  • Covers come in many cute prints and colors (we have Lil Helper's Aurora and Lil Helper's Retro Bikes).
  • Often pretty quick to dry.
  • Since the covers can be reused, they can be a cheaper system (but you can honestly make anything as cheap or as expensive as you want in the cloth diapering world).

AI2 Cons

  • Snap-in systems make it difficult to customize absorbency (especially if you have a heavy wetter however we have only had one leak using Lil Helper Diapers and it was a user error as I lost track of time and didn't change baby Anthony soon enough).
  • The inserts may not be good at containing infant poop (although toddler poop it is and we actually designated our Lil Helper diaper as Sophia's poop diaper since she poops at the same time everyday, easiest cleanup for her type of poop).
Edited to add:  Concerning infant poop, I didn't mean the possibility of having poop explosions outside of the diaper, I meant that the inserts wouldn't be enough to contain infant poop on the inserts alone like it can sometimes do with toddler poop meaning you will still need to change the insert as well as the cover if poop gets on both and you honestly have to do that with every diaper system anyways. Also note baby Anthony is pass the constant poop stage so this is merely my speculation however I have been informed that there has been no complaints of Lil Helper diapers not being able to keep infant poop inside the diaper unless there is a fit issue which they will gladly work one on one with you to solve a fit issue (and they did assist me with a fit issue and it worked!).

Do you cloth diaper your children? Have you tried an All in Two system? Which cloth diapering system is your favorite?

If you found this post helpful or know someone who would, please share it! I have made this pinnable image below to make it easier to share and pin!!

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Stormie Ramirez
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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Tot School with PicassoTiles

Tot School with PicassoTiles


This post was created in partnership with PicassoTiles but all thoughts and opinions are of my own.

If you have been following my Instagram (I update that more frequently and it is "real time" whereas my blog posts are general lagged), you may know that I have intentionally started focused play with Sophia as a form of tot school. If you are unfamiliar with the term tot school, you can read more about it here.
I originally decided to carve out a focused play to help Sophia expand herself vocabulary as I noticed she wasn't using many words (her doctor wasn't worried as she said some children speak later than their peers especially if there was a new baby introduced which in our case there was). Even though I plan a certain activity and a book reading during this carved out time, I still allowed Sophia to take the lead. She is free to play with what I put in front of her however she wants and for however long (or short) she wants. I am a big believer in allowing a child determine how they want to play with items as this helps grow the imagination. If we are constantly showing them how to "properly" play with a toy then we close down that imagination and I want all of our toys to be open ended that way she never grows bored of her toys and can always use that imagination to find new ways to play with things. I have the worst imagination possible and am very much a rule follower so I personally like to play with stuff as instructed, haha, so this is a learning curve for me but I'm learning so much from Sophia and here I am thinking I'm teaching her yet she is teaching me!
Another factor that makes focused play and imagination play easier is using toys that were created with STEM in mind which is why I love PicassoTiles toys (if your an Instagram follower, you will remember how much we love our floor piano and how it makes us feel like we are reenacting the movie Big with Tom Hanks).
For the month of April, I am focusing in on the color blue (Autism awareness, totally unplanned that way but cool nevertheless) and naturally I chose to utilize the book Little Blue Truck. Therefore I planned for one of the weeks in April to be dedicated to a farm theme. We played with PicassoTiles Bristle Building Blocks Farm Set and a blue truck for our focused activity. Again as I read the story, I allowed Sophia to lead how she wanted to play and at the end of the story I joined alongside her to play. I love how this set from PicassoTiles incorporates farm animals because this is the perfect toy not only for building but also speech as I have read that speech therapists loving using farm animal sounds as the building blocks for language development.
I also try to incorporate a focused activity that involves her motor skills so this week we also focused on her gross motor skill using the PicassoTiles Soccer Hoverball Air Hockey. This one I did demonstrate the kicking motion as I wanted her to specifically practice kicking but I didn't explain soccer or proper kick techniques or anything like that. We just freely kicked it around the house which is why this thing is amazing. It has bumpers so it won't ruin any furniture or walls because it hovers slightly off the ground. It is the perfect indoor "ball" which we will definitely be needing more indoor play ideas once summer rolls around.

Side Note: it does NOT work on carpets or rugs. The main areas of our house is hardwood floors so this is not a problem for us.

Other activists we did this month include

Color focused bins (blue)
Shape focused bins (square)
Blue coloring
Square painting
Square play doh fun

Other books we read this week was

Do you have a set focused playtime with you toddler? Do you or are you planning to homeschool? Do your kids own any PicassoTiles toys?
ps. The larger pieces are perfect teething toys for younger ones who like to play with their older sibilings. Just be extra careful with the small pieces as they could be a choking hazard.

If you like these type of posts, I can try to rotate more Tot School into my editorial calendar as I am able to. Also if you know someone who would benefit from this post, please feel free to share. I also created a pinnable image so you can bookmark this post to come back to view later on.

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Stormie Ramirez
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Thursday, March 29, 2018

Shopping with Two under Two + Four Month Update

Shopping with Two under Two + Four Month Update


This post was created in partnership with Binxy Baby but all thoughts and opinions are of my own.

For about four months, I had two babies under two and now that my oldest turned two not much has really changed, haha. It's still the same craziness over here but I did figure out some tips and tricks to make shopping with two kiddos under the age of two easier.

Go shopping after naptime

The most important tip is to go after naptime. Seriously. If you attempt to run an errand before naptime, one of two things will happen or possibly both. They will get extremely fussy during your errand making it the most frustrating experience ever or they will fall asleep in the car and think that 5 minute catnap was enough for them and refuse to nap once you get home making the rest of the day even more frustrating and everyone on the verge of tears so just trust me. Errands after a nap. I mean unless you like waking up early and can quickly get everyone fed and out the door but that's not me. I like my mornings slow and not rushed when I can help it.

Park near the cart corral

Once you arrive to your store of choice, find a parking spot near the cart corral that way you can grab a cart immediately and don't have to worry about carrying/dragging two (or more) kids and a diaper bag across the parking lot to get inside of the store. This not only makes it easier for you to unload everyone straight into a cart but also safer as I'm sure most toddlers think they are big boys and girls and don't always want to hold mommy's hand and will pull away while mom is carrying baby hulk at the wrong time. No? Just me? Also this makes it easier to unload all the things inside the car as well as the kids and return the cart to it's proper place because I don't know about you but it annoys the heck out of me when people leave the carts in the middle of parking lots especially when a parking lot is uneven and there is a runaway cart that hits your car. Just be courteous of other people guys.

Use a Binxy Baby

Ah. The Binxy Baby. I always get so many compliments and questions every time we are out and about with baby Anthony just chilling in his shopping cart hammock. The Binxy Baby fits most standard grocery store carts and it can also hold a car seat so if your babe fell asleep in their car seat you don't have to worry about disturbing them, just strap the car seat onto the Binxy Baby. The Binxy Baby is able to support up to 50 pounds in weight and has been safety tested so depending on the size of your baby, the Binxy can be used for babies approximately up to 6-8 months depending on when your little one starts to sit up on their own.

Pack a snack for the toddler

Lastly, no matter how much you perfectly timed your shopping trip, the toddler will get restless and want to run all over the store but you came with reinforcements: snacks. I personally always keep an extra snack or two inside my diaper bag but before errands I make sure I have more then one on hand and I will hand them to Sophia when I see that antsiness happening. I also give it to her BEFORE she goes haywire because I don't want her thinking she is getting the snack because she threw a fit or else she is going to think it's okay to have a tantrum every time she wants a snack so make sure you are strategic on when you give it to your toddler and what behavior you may be enforcing. You also don't want to give them the snack as soon as you are in the store because you will be cut on time and no longer have the distraction they needed for the last leg of your shopping trip so be sure you are reading your toddlers cues so you can step in with the snack reinforcement at the right time.

Four Month Update


After much experimenting, it finally dawned on us to use the Ollie swaddle and DockATot for naps just as we do for bedtime and man has naptime been a night and day difference. Baby Anthony is finally starting to come around and take daily naps and that makes this momma happy and feeling functional again haha. Bedtime was going so well for the first two months and around three months it has been a yo-yo. We would have amazing nights for a few nights and then not so good ones but then back to amazing so I assumed it was a growth spurt but now it's seeming to be more of a norm of having multiple wake up calls at night so I'm trying to figure out the trigger and I'm thinking it's daddy going back to work. I do have some tricks up my sleeve to get baby Anthony back on track for night time sleep thanks to the Baby Whisperer book.

Although baby Anthony first rolled from his back to his tummy around two months, he really perfected it this month and now won't stay off his tummy! He even loves rolling back to his back as well and he also can rotate in a full circle while doing tummy time. It seems like he is ready to just start crawling but I'm not sure I am ready for that.

Four Month Stats
Weight: ???
Height: ???
Head Circumference: ??

Firsts
Roll from tummy to back

Loves
mommy
daddy
being held
smiling

Hates
dirty diapers
waiting to eat

What I Want to Remember
His happy smiles & huge grins
his contagious laughter

Do you go shopping with your children or do you wait until daddy is home? Or have you given into curbside assistance and/or home delivery? 



If you found this post helpful or know someone who would, please share it! I have made this pinnable image below to make it easier to share and pin!!


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Stormie Ramirez
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