Playing in the summer rain

Ian has recently discovered that it is a lot of fun to play outside in the rain and jump in puddles.

Since it’s been pretty hot and humid so far this spring/summer, we’ve been blessed with lots of mid afternoon showers. This means plenty of opportunities for us to run around and get a little wet. It’s a good excuse for us to play like kids again, too!




We let him go out pretty much anytime it rains… unless it’s raining a flood, and then we make him sit it out.


Do you ever get out and just play in the rain?

Baby Sign Language- What’s the Deal?

When I was pregnant with Ian, I did a lot of reading about baby sign language.  I had friends who had done sign language with their kids and swore that it was an extremely useful tool for aiding in communication.  It made sense to me- babies and young toddlers can’t talk, but they still have needs to be met.  If you don’t have to guess at their needs, the frustration level all around should go down.  Makes sense in theory, but does it really work?

The short answer… yes.

So you might be wondering- how?!  How do I go about teaching this little baby (who can barely sit upright) how to sign?  And is it worth it?

I’ll start with answering the “is it worth it?” question.  Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!  I won’t say that our ability to communicate with sign language eliminated all of our melt downs, but it has made them easier to manage.  If we could get Ian to calm down enough to have a “conversation”, we could generally get him to use his sign language to help explain what he wants.  Since Ian’s my first, and I don’t have experience with a kid who doesn’t do sign language, I can’t really tell you that this is the only way or even the best way.  But it worked for us.

So now to the how.  There are tons of great (free!) resources online to help learn sign language.  Whenever I want to teach Ian a new word, but I don’t know the sign, I look it up.  My first site of choice is always  They have a list of “starter” signs which are great starting points if you’re wondering what in the heck to teach your kid first.  But they also have a pretty extensive dictionary.  All of the signs have pictures and most have videos.  So it does make it pretty easy if you’re willing to actually do that initial research!

I initially had all these grand plans of flash cards and baby books and videos… etc to share with Ian to facilitate teaching him sign language.  But I found that I really didn’t need any of it.  Consistent exposure to the signs was all that was required.  I started signing to him when he was maybe a few months old, using just one or two signs to start.  First priority was “milk” and second was “more”- those seemed like fairly important signs since all he did at that age was eat!  He was too small to sign back, but I was hoping he’d start to learn the association, and that this might help later on as we continued sign language.  Finally, at about 8 or 9 months old, Ian started signing back!  It was really exciting to see his little hands move to “tell” me what he wanted.  As he got those first signs down, I slowly started introducing more.  I tried to limit my initial signs to “needs” (eat, drink, etc) since I figured these would be the main tantrum causes.  But it was also fun to introduce other signs, like cat, dog, and car, so we could communicate about other things that were part of our day.  And of course we had to throw in mommy and daddy!

Since my husband and I work full time, we were extremely fortunate that our day care center also teaches sign language.  Getting some type of sign language instruction at home and at “school” really helped cement the gestures and concepts into his mind.  We could have still managed without having day care involved, but it definitely helped grow his catalogue of signs.  In fact, there’s some days when he comes home and teaches us new signs!

Now, at almost 20 months, we’re working on speaking more and signing less, but I do find that signing helps bridge the gap between the word and its meaning.  For example, if we want him to say the word please, we speak it, sign it, and then ask him to repeat.  If he does just the sign, we speak it again, and wait for him to repeat.  Eventually, he speaks it.  We’ve been working on it for a few months now, and we are noticing that his first inclination is to speak now instead of sign, except in cases where he’s unsure of the word or pronunciation.  Then he signs and speaks at the same time.  It’s pretty amazing what kids can do, isn’t it?!

Do you do sign language with your little one(s)?  Did you find it helped in any way?

Buy Barefoot Books with Me!

I have some really exciting news to share!  I just signed up to become an Independent Barefoot Books Ambassador.  If you haven’t heard of Barefoot Books, you HAVE to check them out.  They have a beautiful collection of children’s story books and activities (puzzles, puppets, etc).  If you’ve read my post about Ian’s favorite books (here), you might remember that there was a Barefoot Books story in that list- “Bear Takes a Trip”.  It’s because I love these books so much that I decided to sign up to sell them.  I think if you take a moment to check them out, you’ll fall in love with them, too!

To celebrate this new adventure, I am holding an official launch event to kickstart my new business. Just click on the image below to shop my store, from today through 7 July. If you have any questions about any of the books, let me know!

Here’s a peak at some of the books I got in my Barefoot Books Ambassador box, so you can see for yourself how really beautiful these books are!

Pictures of Animal Boogie Barefoot Book

We own this book already, and LOVE it


Pictures of Earth Tales Barefoot Book

This one would be really cool for older kids!


Pictures of Bear in a Square Barefoot Book

So excited for this one, since Ian loves Bear!


I hope that you’ll check out the awesome books available for sale from Barefoot Books!

Tips for a Successful First Haircut

About a month ago, I decided that Ian’s hair was just getting too long and was starting to get in the way.  It was hanging down into his eyes and was looking a bit mullet-y (is that a word??).  We had waited to get it cut since it was his FIRST haircut, but I couldn’t wait any longer.  I could tell it was starting to bother him, and it was definitely bothering me!

Even though I was ready to get it cut, I was kind of at a loss about how to do it.  Kids get their hair cut all the time, I realize, but he was only 18 months only!  How do you make sure a wiggly, potentially freaked out (if he didn’t like the hair cut person) toddler stays put and gets a trim??  I asked friends for suggestions, held my breath, and embarked on the “adventure”.  And you know what?  He did just fine.  Here are some tips for making it through that first hair cut without too much drama.

1. Take your toddler with you (or your significant other) when you get your hair cut

I know that Ian likes to watch my husband and I do things.  He’s not exactly what I would call cautious, but he does like to know what is going to happen before he tries something too drastically new.  My husband was in desperate need of a hair cut, so Ian and I tagged along so we could watch daddy- and then get his hair cut there afterwards if he was in an OK mood.  Ian was only somewhat interested (he watched for maybe 5 minutes), but I think us being at the hair cut place for the entire time my husband got his hair cut really helped acclimate Ian to the environment and show him that, “hey- this place isn’t so bad!”

2. Stay close by and always within sight

You never know when your toddler will suddenly think he’s been abandoned.  For Ian, if he starts to look for me and doesn’t spot me immediately, he freaks out.  He has a similar (though less intense) reaction regarding my husband.  So I knew that I had to be right in front of the chair, as close by as possible without getting in the way.  It definitely helped because I was able to smile at him, make faces, and praise his great behavior.  I was also able to help distract and entertain him when needed, which leads us to my next point…

3. Sing songs or play games to keep your toddler’s mind occupied

Like most toddlers, Ian is fairly easy to distract.  I was ready with an “I spy” game (“I see something blue, do you?”) and some of his favorite songs (ABCs, Wheels on the Bus, etc) for that moment when it all got to be a bit too much and Ian needed something to keep his mind off the fact he was stuck in a chair and some random lady was “attacking” him with scissors.

4. Bring a lollipop (or other candy)

The best distraction for Ian is always food!  A lollipop (like a Dum-Dum) is great because it takes a while to eat and is a unique treat.  I think Ian has had maybe 2 lollipops in his life, including the one he had while he was getting his hair cut.  There was no doubt about it- he was thrilled to have it.

5. Relax, and take a breath

I think I was probably more nervous about the whole thing that Ian.  I’m sure if I could have read his little mind I would have seen that he was taking it all in stride and I was stressing for nothing.  But I’m a mom- I’m supposed to do that, right??

Toddler getting his first haircut

Ian sitting nicely, enjoying that Dum-Dum!

Toddler first haircut with a dum-dum

So well behaved!

Toddler first haircut

Thank goodness for that Dum-Dum!

Toddler haircut finished

All done!

When did your little one go for his/her first hair cut?  Were you excited?  Nervous?  How’d it go?

{Honest Review} Charlie the Cavalier Begs for Attention (children’s book)

Charlie the Cavalier Book Cover
Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial. I received a free sample of this book and puppet in exchange for my honest review.  I was not compensated in any other way. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

Having family members or other loved ones who live far away from you and your family can be difficult.  We know this first hand and all too well- all of our family and a lot of our good friends are a 10 hour drive away.  To compensate for this distance, we tend to do a lot of Skyping so the grandparents have an opportunity to see Ian on a more regular basis.  We started this when Ian was pretty small (a few months old, at the most), so he’s gotten pretty used to staring at the camera/TV and waving to grandma and grandpa (or Gi-Gi and Dad-Dad, depending on who’s on the other side of the camera).

I have noticed, however, that as he has gotten more active and “fidgety”, he has a little less patience for the Skype calls since there’s only so much connecting that can be done through this medium.  Don’t get me wrong, Skyping is great, but it’s no replacement for actual human contact.

Apparently there are other families who feel this way and are struggling to keep their kids present and involved in these over-the-computer conversations.  Wouldn’t it be nice if there was something to help children become more engaged during these video chats?  Enter “Charlie the Cavalier Begs for Attention”, by Lisa Rusczyk.

When I came across this e-book and puppet, it sounded like a pretty genius idea and something that I could really see our family using.  Essentially, it’s a story about a King Charles Cavalier, Charlie, who likes to play games and sing songs and has been trained to protect the child’s loved ones while they are apart.  The puppet that accompanies the book is supposed to represent Charlie and is used as a tool to facilitate interaction between the child and the loved one on the other end of the video chat.  There are lots of scenes in the book that lend themselves to use of the puppet (at one point, Charlie starts singing the ABCs), so the interaction can be as much or little as you make it.  You can read more about Charlie the Cavalier here, on the book’s official website.

Now, on to my thoughts and impressions.

I printed out the free puppet and started assembling it first.  If you know how to operate scissors and fold paper, you can put together this puppet.  I’m not kidding.

Charlie the Cavalier printed puppet

After I built the puppet, I was a little afraid that it wouldn’t be very toddler-proof.  I KNEW it wouldn’t be Ian-proof.  So I dug out a small brown paper bag (lunch sack size) and attached the puppet to the bag.  This made it maybe a little harder to operate, but it was much sturdier!

Charlie the Cavalier bag puppet

The puppet was actually pretty cute, and Ian liked it a lot.  He kept opening the mouth and looking inside at the tongue.  And, of course, he had to make it “eat” his hand and giggle at that idea.  Aren’t kids great?

Charlie the Cavalier interactive puppet

Once he was done inspecting the puppet, we curled up on the couch to read the e-book.  I was a little nervous since we have never read an e-book together before…we always do regular books (and mainly board books because he likes to turn the pages himself).  But he actually did really well and seemed to like it just as much as a regular book, even if he couldn’t physically turn the pages.  He seemed to really get a kick out of Charlie the puppet “speaking” and moving.  I had Charlie dancing and barking and singing, and Ian was laughing the whole time.  In addition to the puppet, Ian also really enjoyed the colorful pictures on each page.  He kept pointing out different things on the tablet that he wanted me to see.

Charlie the cavalier ebook

All in all, it’s a sweet book that lends itself to some great parent/child interaction. I also think it could be a great tool for aiding in video chatting.  I’d like to send a copy of the puppet to my parents for them to print and assemble to use the next time we Skype with them.  I’m curious to see if Ian gets excited to interact with Charlie when he’s on the other side of a video screen.  Even if he doesn’t, it’s still a cute read that is a nice little addition to our growing library of books.

Charlie the Cavalier is recommended for ages 2-6.  You can buy the e-book on Amazon (don’t forget to go to the Charlie the Cavalier website to download your free printable puppet) for $2.99; however, Charlie the Cavalier is having a promotion on Monday, June 23, where you can snag the book for free- what a deal!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Books! Gads of Books!

Little Library

We love books.  If there’s one thing I’m never sorry about buying, it’s books. For myself, for my family, and especially for Ian.  We bought books for Ian before he was even born, and we got a good number of books as baby shower presents (score!).

Reading outside

Reading outside

Ians’ first Christmas, at age 2 months?  There were books under the tree.

Ian’s first Easter?  There were books in his Easter Basket.

Ian’s first birthday? Books.

Ian’s second Easter? Well, you get the point…






Books are seriously the BEST gift ever.  They are such a great (and fairly cheap) method of entertainment.  In fact, now, at nearly 20 months old, when we’re riding in the car, we can give Ian a book to “read” and he will flip through the pages and babble to himself and be thoroughly OK for a span of time that sometimes exceeds 20 or more minutes.  What a deal!

Reading in the car

Reading in the car


So, for anyone looking to start a “library” or book collection for your little reader (or future reader), here are some of Ian’s favorites, from babyhood to today!

Babyhood (birth to 12 months old):
1. Baby Bird Count


Ian’s all time favorite babyhood book… we used to read this DAILY, even multiple times a day.  I’m not sure why he found it so appealing (maybe the babies in costume?) but he loved it.  And it’s a pretty simple book that lends itself to a lot of reader/baby interaction.

2. Mr Brown Can Moo! Can You?


Ian also absolutely LOVED this book.  We actually still read it now quite frequently.  I attribute his ability to do animal sounds reasonably well at a fairly young age to the number of hours we’ve spent flipping through this book.

3. First 100 Words


This was a book I really debated about buying, but O.M.G. he about lost his mind when he first saw it.  Definitely a good purchase.  He loves to flip through all the really brightly colored pages and point out the different objects on the pages.  I used to point out the various items on the pages for him, and then we progressed to a type of scavenger hunt (“Ian, where’s the ball??”), and now we still read it with Ian naming the objects (“Ian, what’s this?”).  It’s pretty fun, actually… and a neat way to see what he really knows.

4. Squishy Turtle and Friends


This book is adorable, drool proof (it’s cloth), interactive, and colorful. Ian also happened to really enjoy this book. We took it EVERYWHERE…it was a diaper bag staple. He still likes to crinkle it and flip through the pages every now and then, so while it doesn’t get heavy use these days, it still gets time in the regular book rotation.

Toddlerhood (12 months to present):
1. Good Night Moon


I think everyone knows this book, and most of us probably had it in our homes growing up. We got this for Ian when he was about 6 months old, but he didn’t show much interest in it until recently. Now I feel like we read it every night (I think I have it memorized).

2. Bear Takes a Trip


We got this in our second Citrus Lane box (you can read about Citrus Lane and my thoughts here), and it has been a hit ever since Ian laid eyes on it. I probably could have included this in the babyhood list (because it got regular reading time then, too), but he still loves to read it and it comes with us almost everywhere these days.

3. Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?


I’m sure everyone is familiar with Eric Carle’s other famous children’s book, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”. We have that book, but Ian just isn’t really interested in it. Hopefully that will change over time; we’ll see. I was afraid he would feel ambivalent towards this book, too. Boy was I wrong! He loves the colorful animals and really enjoys flipping back and forth through the pages. This one also gets heavy use in our house!

4. That’s Not My Plane


I bought this book at a book fair, thinking it was a cute little touch and feel book. And since my husband is an aerospace engineer, it felt appropriate that our son should have a book that contained airplanes. This isn’t my favorite book (the pictures are nice enough but some of the plane attributes are a little weird— “…its wheels are too squashy”— not sure what that means…), but Ian really likes it. So I guess that’s what really matters.


Do you have any of these books? What books do your little ones love? I’d love to hear all about them, as I’m always looking for new adds to our library!!

Father’s Day

Happy father’s day to all the dads out there!!!!

I especially want to say thanks and happy father’s day to my dad. He taught me so much (and continues to teach me) and I would definitely not be the person I am today without him.


Happy father's day, pop!

And of course happy father’s day to my dear sweet husband! Life would be a whole lot less fun without you in it! I’m so fortunate to have such a kind, loving man as my husband and as the father of my child…Ian and I are two lucky ducks!


Happy father's day, honey!!

Hope you got a chance to wish the special fathers in your life a very happy father’s day!!

{Honest Review} Citrus Lane



Note: This is not a paid advertorial.  I was not compensated in any way for this review. All thoughts are 100% my own.

I ordered my first Citrus Lane box in April 2013, when Ian was just 6 months old.  I didn’t know anyone who subscribed to Citrus Lane, but I had seen an ad on Facebook, and I have to admit I was intrigued.  Subscription boxes were a fairly new concept to me at the time (I guess I was living under a rock), so I wasn’t really sure what to expect.  I checked out the Citrus Lane website, read up on their various brand partners, read reviews…anything to try to make my decision about whether it would really be worth it to sign up.  In the end, I just decided to take the plunge.  I knew I’d always be wondering otherwise.  And I was reassured with the fact that I could always cancel if I wasn’t impressed.


I was hooked after my first box.  Yes.  It really is THAT good.

“But WHY?” you may ask.  Well, let me tell you why we love Citrus Lane, and why I recommend it to friends and family with kids under 5.

1. The brands are top notch
Citrus Lane partners with some really terrific brands to bring new and unique products into my home.  A lot of the brands I’d never heard of until they came to me in my box… and now I actively seek them out when I’m shopping.  They are all either sourced sustainably, or are chemical free/natural, or have some other compelling corporate story.  Some of the brands I’ve come to know and expect from Citrus Lane include:
Green Toys
The Honest Company
Melissa & Doug
i play
California Baby
Barefoot Books
Skip Hop
Plum Organics

2. The products are fantastic
There hasn’t been a box yet that I’ve disliked.  And having received over 12 boxes, that’s quite a feat.  I love that the items are age appropriate, and I’ve definitely noticed them growing with Ian.  But probably what I like the most is the mix of items that come in the box. I can almost always assume Ian will get at least 1-3 toys of some description.  The next pretty sure item is a book (which I love!). Followed by a “beauty” product (lotion, shampoo, body wash, sunscreen, etc). Most of the time, we also get some type of food (a package of teething biscuits, a pouch of yogurt drops, a bag of organic cookies, etc).  And last, but not least, Citrus Lane always seems to throw in an item for mom (Julep nail polish, juice Beauty hand cream).  I don’t know how they always come up with such a great combination of products, but they do, and it’s pretty genius.  The fact that most of Ian’s “stuff” came from a Citrus Lane box speaks volumes, and that’s one of the main reasons I continue to subscribe.  I tried to round up a good cross section of the stuff we’ve received over the past year to help illustrate this point.  In one word, Citrus Lane is awesome.



3. The excitement of getting something new in the mail each month
This is pretty self explanatory- who doesn’t love getting mail?  And if you like surprises, that makes this whole deal even better.  I will admit that at first, this excitement factor was really more for me than for Ian (I mean, does a 6 month old understand or recognize that he is receiving mail?).  Now that Ian has gotten older, however, he’s started to grasp the concept that this big brown box is his to open.  Once we start opening it, he gets pretty excited and loves to explore what’s inside.  It’s so fun to watch!

4. The price point is spot on
At $21 a month, this is a pretty good deal. I have no idea if it’s the cheapest kid subscription box out there (I love it so much I haven’t bothered to look elsewhere), but I’m not sure how you’d get so much quality for any less.  In fact, I’m not sure how they manage to squeeze in the items you DO get for such a good price.  To top it off, the shipping has been fantastic- my box has always come when I expected it to (one or two boxes were maybe a day later than I thought, but considering it had to traverse the country and gets placed in my mailbox, I’m not complaining!).

5. The customer relationship
I have been really impressed with the customer service and general friendliness I’ve experienced with Citrus Lane.  I get a survey for each box where I can provide feedback and rate the products I received.  Most of my survey responses include a comment along the lines of “keep up the good work” because I really have been so pleased with my subscription.

If you’re on the fence, and have ever even considered subscribing to Citrus Lane… do it!  I haven’t regretted it for one minute!

[Note: if you sign up via my referral link (, you can get 50% off your first month!]


some of my best memories are made with you


wpid-20140604_172034.jpgAs I watched Ian play with his toys tonight, I couldn’t help marveling at this little life I’d created and am helping to shape everyday. It’s a pretty awesome feeling, one heavy with love and responsibility. He was laughing and cheesing at me, and one thought struck me- most of my best memories include him:

  • when I found out I was pregnant
  • that first time l held him in my arms
  • all those baby snuggles and cuddles
  • full baby belly laughs, and toddler giggles
  • dance parties in the kitchen, living room, car, etc…
  • jumping on the bed together
  • blowing bubbles
  • screaming contests
  • making funny faces
  • BIG hugs and drooley kisses
  • playing ball outside and racing around the yard
funny faces

funny faces


More funny faces

More funny faces

I know they seem like small and insignificant moments but maybe that’s the point. Life is full of these, and this little list has filled my life with more joy than some of my biggest events. And I’d be happy if it stays that way.