Tot School: Building Language Through Object to Picture Matching

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

When I first started planning for tot school I intended to teach the alphabet, colors, shapes, etc. right away. There are a million activities on Pinterest showing toddlers memorizing these things. Our coop's montessori class has been really great, and I've learned a lot about the Montessori method through my friend. Montessorians focus on building language at this stage, and letter learning comes after they turn 3.

We love Schleich animals and Toobs for matching. You get more animals for less money with the Toobs, but the Schleich animals are more realistic and bigger.

Finding all of the images for matching can be a pain. Everett definitely has an easier time with clear images that have a white background vs ones that have a lot going on.
The Schleich animals can really add up, so in addition to the Toobs we also use our T.S. Shure magnets. They're realistic, and the backing is magnetic instead of little magnet pieces so I don't worry about him swallowing them.

A few days ago I found these animal cards in the Target Dollar Spot. There were 6 or 7 different packs, but only this specific set was ALL real animals. $1!!
Everett really loves the "My Big" books by Roger Priddy. We used our My Big Farm Book book for matching with our animal models and magnets when we were learning about farms.
My friend Zibby recently told me that her daughter loves this book that has realistic food pictures, and that they've been using it as a tool to let her pick out her own food. (Her daughter is the same age as Everett.) I love this idea! Not only is it great for building food language, but it's also an awesome tool for getting picky toddlers involved in their food choices. The options in the book are limited, so we're going to try it with these magnet sets (fruit, veggies, grains and legumes). Unfortunately there are no meat options, but we may make those ourselves.

HEY MAMA! Want to share your breastfeeding story on Sugar in My Texas Tea? Email your story along with at least one picture to sugarinmytexastea@gmail.com by July 15th.

Ready to Moo for Your Lunch? Cow Appreciation Day Is Coming!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

We're a month away from Cow Appreciation Day which, if you don't know already, means a free meal at Chick-Fil-A if you dress like a cow! Everett and I dressed up last year along with some of our friends from our play group. This year our group is participating again, and we're also getting together to make our costumes. I love Chick-Fil-A, mainly because it's one of the only fast food restaurants that has food I feel comfortable giving my child. (Heyyyy grilled nuggets, I'm looking at you!)
Last year I grabbed basic white tees and a pack of Sharpies on my way to Chick-Fil-A and we made these shirts in the parking lot. This year I'm taking it up a notch!
We're getting together with play group friends a few days beforehand to make our costumes. 

There are a lot of options for DIY'ing a cow costume. Drawing with Sharpies was super easy, but time consuming. This year we're going to cut spots out of felt (check the craft store) and glue gun them to a tee. I'm also adding a tail and, if he'll wear them, ears. (You can also buy felt that has adhesive backing, so then there's no gluing. You just cut, peel the backing off like a sticker, and stick it on the shirt!)


Not crafty? Just print this cow starter kit.
A photo posted by Kayleigh (@kayleigh.tx) on
Does your family dress up for Cow Appreciation Day? I love obscure holidays like this, and I love them even more when free food is involved!

Mouse in Motion :: Custom Itinerary for Your Disney Trip (GIVEAWAY)

Monday, May 23, 2016

Y'ALL! I am so excited to tell you about Mouse in Motion, a company I am partnering with to help plan our family's first trip to Walt Disney World. These concierge coordinators are Disney enthusiasts and former cast members are SUPER knowledgeable about planning Disney trips.

Mouse in Motion is an affiliate partner, but I reached out to them y'all because I am so pumped about working with them. I know one of the coordinators, Sarah, personally and professionally. When I heard that her and her husband were part of this, I had to get in on the fun. They are crazy over Disney and I knew they would steer me in the right direction. You can read more about the coordinators here.
Okay, so what do they do?

Your custom itinerary will take you beyond the mouse by including first hand knowledge of the parks by our coordinators; expert Disney advice and tips to make the most of your time, complete personalization based of your party's needs, and the utmost detail to ensure the most magical vacation possible. 

Basically, they take people like my husband and I who have been to Disney one time and remember nothing about it and they tame the crazy. I can't imagine what it would be like to walk in the gates of Disney and be like, "okay, what do we do?" The first time we took Everett to the zoo was like that. We just started at the beginning and wandered around. He was tired, hungry, and just OVER IT before we had even made it to the Primates (best exhibits, in my humble opinion.) I don't want to do that at Disney.  I don't want to wander around from thing to thing trying to figure out if he meets the height requirement or figure out where to eat lunch. I like a PLAN. (Go figure.)
Are you interested yet?? Of course you are! If you are just so excited that you can't wait for the giveaway (or maybe your trip is next week!) then you can use this coupon code for 20% OFF your itinerary: PIXIEDUST

First, show this awesome company some love by following their social media accounts. They post giveaways and promo codes a lot, so you definitely want their updates. TWITTER, INSTAGRAM, FACEBOOK

Alrighty, it's GIVEAWAY time!!!! 
I love giveaways. I enter all the time on other mommy blogs I follow. I probably get a freebie in the mail at least once a week because I enter so many. (Hello naptime hobby! lol)

HOW TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY:
Head over to my Instagram account and follow the directions. (Just click the image below to go to the right place.) 
A photo posted by Kayleigh (@kayleigh.tx) on
Is your family planning a trip to Disney? How old are your kids going to be? We've been debating when to take our little guy. Read about here.

Planning a Disney Family Vacation with a Young Toddler

Friday, May 20, 2016

Raise your hand if you LOVE Disney and can't wait to visit with your kids. Raise both hands if the thought of planning a Disney vacation is extremely overwhelming. I mean, have you searched "Disney trip" on Pinterest lately? The tips and tricks and outfits and food suggestions and dos and don'ts. It's a lot for a mama who is already running on too much caffeine and not enough sleep. 

We've been talking about when we want to bring Everett to Disney (Walt Disney World in Florida, not Disneyland in California) and I think we're settling for his third birthday. (He's about a year and a half right now.) Bryan wanted to know why WHY why we were already talking about this, to which I showed him a thousand different Disney planning sites that recommend BOOKING your trip AT LEAST 180 days in advance. That's 6 MONTHS! And obviously in order to book you need to have at least decided on a time frame.

As we were discussing the possibility of this trip, these factors kept coming up.
  • Age of kid(s)
  • Weather
  • Crowds/Off Season
  • Affordability
Age 
So we all know that Disney magic is ageless and everyone visiting can be a kid again, but families with small children are well aware that sometimes kids are just too young to enjoy certain activities. Bryan's argument was that we go when Everett is older, around 5 or 6 years, so that he will remember the trip. My argument is that we go earlier so Everett can be part of the magic. 

My nephew was really into Buzz and Woody starting around age 2. If he had gone to Disney and met Buzz he would have BELIEVED to his core that he was truly meeting the Buzz Lightyear from the movie. At 6.5 he would be totally aware that it was just some person in a costume. I'm not sure exactly when the switch happened, but I want to make sure we bring Everett to Disney before he loses the magic.

Kids under 3 are free at Disney parks. This is a major selling point for a family on a budget. I love discounts, and I love free things even more. Kids age 3-9 are a slightly discounted price from those age 10 and up.

A downside to bringing younger kids (other than the fact that they wear out faster) is that rides have height requirements. It's great to get him in free, but if he can't ride any rides... kind of disappointing.
I have a feeling that a 3 year old will be more interested in the characters and shows than the rides anyway, but it's something to consider.

Weather
My husband cannot take the heat. But you live in Houston! Yes, I know, and he was born and raised here, too. It's ridiculous. If it's not between 50 and 60 degrees out he's miserable. Orlando is warm year round, but on average it drops to the 70s from November to March. This would be ideal for us.

Don't forget the rain, though. It does rain more during those cooler weather days.
Crowds/Off Season
We are not crowd people. We are people who say excuse me and wait patiently in line, and in large crowds it seems like other people don't follow the same etiquette. It makes my husband cranky and if it affects my kid I get defensive. (Seriously, he's a toddler. He may dart at any moment and if it's 100% necessary for you to walk past us going 100 miles an hour then maybe don't walk so close!) Plus, the idea of waiting in long lines with a 3 year old is not very appealing!


So what are the off seasons? Well, people are always traveling, especially to Disney, but the crowds are smaller in late August-February. (Undercover Tourist has lots of great info!!) Kids are back in school so families are less likely to travel. There are definitely busy times mixed in to there, though, so watch out. Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas all bring big crowds.

Everett's birthday is in late November, so we were thinking as early as late October. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, but when I look back at these pictures I'm not sure I want a Halloween themed Disney trip.

It's also a strong possibility that we may have a second baby by the time we take this trip so less . (NOT a pregnancy announcement, lol.) We flew with Everett when he was four weeks old and it wasn't bad at all, so I'm not terribly worried. I would just wear the baby and nurse in the carrier. I've never had a problem with people trying to touch Everett when I'm wearing him, and it keeps his face tucked away. Less germs! 

Affordability
This ties in with the off season thing. Everything I've read says the prices are better during off seasons. Makes sense! When companies expect a low turn out they lower prices to increase interest. We already want to go during an off season, so this isn't a burden for us. Resorts have been room prices, and it seems that Disney offers more promotions during this time.

Another affordability factor is the whole "under 3 is free" deal. Getting this trip scheduled before his third birthday would save huge a big chunk of money. It's worth considering.

On the other hand, we're faced with two other big expenses around this time: Everett's birthday, and Christmas. We'll probably just call this trip his birthday present, but I'll still have to decide if we're going to have a party. Last year we purchased his play-set for the backyard and called that his birthday present, but we still had a party. I imagine the Disney trip will cost around the same, maybe more if we fly. 

Less Stress, More Fun
To ease the stress of planning, I'm partnering with Mouse in Motion to help plan our trip. 
These Disney enthusiasts are helping us create a custom vacation itinerary. Stay tuned for more info and a giveaway on Monday!

A Year and a Half of Breastfeeding!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Everett and I are hitting the 18 month mark this week. Woowoo! Even better? I have not had a single negative comment made to me while nursing in public without a cover for the last year and a half. Awesome!!

My goal is still to make it to the two year mark, but currently I'm open to going as long as he wants. I have dreams of tandem nursing one day, and we aren't thinking about having a baby #2 until he's 2.5-3 years old.
Nursing a toddler is SO much different than nursing an infant. In some ways it's way easier, and in some ways it's so much harder. (Check out how I survived those first three months.)

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