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Counting Sheep Activity

Growing up, I remember seeing lots of cartoons with people counting sheep as they dreamed, and I vaguely remember trying this myself as a means to fall asleep. Did it work? I can’t recall. But I do think that sheep hopping over a fence is awfully cute.

This simple activity is designed to do several things, all while looking like those sweet sheep. It’s good for teaching fine motor skills, pre-reading, and basic math, and with a bit of guidance from you, your child will soon find lots of ways to play as they learn!

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Baby Boy Checkers: My Birth Story

Just four days before my due date, we welcomed our son into the world:

8 lbs. 1 oz., 20.5 in. long

The day before he decided to make his appearance, I was experiencing contractions all day.  I never experienced contractions with Toddler Checkers because my water broke first, and I wasn’t sure I would know what they felt like since I had never had them before.  But trust me when I say you will know when you are having contractions.  Someone once described them to me as feeling like menstrual cramps; this was mostly true for my early contractions.  My contractions were not regular at that point, maybe happening once or twice an hour, so I didn’t think much of it.

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Finding a Day Planner

I’ve always been a more type B person, but when it comes to planning, scheduling and organizing my time and life – I couldn’t be more type A. I feel I will never switch to a completely digital schedule – no iPhone calendar has ever felt the same as organizing my life on paper, writing things down and having something tangible and real to plan with. Since becoming a student, I have had even more need to plan my days. I used to be content with my simple Plan Ahead Weekly Planner that was $5 at CVS; it served me well many years when I only had 2-3 things going on each day. Now, in one day I have to schedule in work, school, coordinating daycare pick-ups, study time, errands, gym time, and dinner.

For the last two semesters, I was printing this out that helped me schedule my weeks by the hour and I realized that is exactly what I needed – a planner to schedule in each hour of my life. When I schedule in time at the gym and plan it ahead of time, it actually happens. When I know what I need to be doing to make the most of the 24 hours in a day, I become better at time management. Some parents have told me they have no idea how I manage a full-time college career, working part-time and being a mother to a toddler – and this is how. By managing my time and balancing my priorities. Sure, it sucks to actually have to schedule in that hour or two that I spend just with J every day – just me and him, nothing else. But it helps me manage and balance everything going on in my life and make sure that all my responsibilities get the time they need.

My search for a daily planner began. My criteria were that I needed a daily planner – a page for each day with the option to schedule each hour of my day. I also needed a two-page spread of each month within the daily planner. Anything else was extra.

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Watching Your Words

Even when I don’t think he is listening to me, he clearly is.


When Drake was younger I used to take him to Gymboree classes. Drake started at around 8 months, well before he could walk let alone climb, and we stopped shortly before Juliet was born when he was almost 3. They had all kinds of fun and neat equipment for the children to explore and as Drake attended through the years, I noticed how other children would start to get the concept of climbing whereas Drake never did.

At home when I heard stories from friends about having to switch to toddler beds quickly because their children were starting to try to climb out of their cribs, I always gave a sympathetic ear but admitted that I never had to deal with such an issue; my son was not a climber. And it was true. When we finally transitioned Drake out of a crib at a little over 3, it was simply because Mr. Chocolate felt like it was time. Drake never tried climbing out, which is why we waited and waited and finally made the choice on our own.

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Favourite Gear: Months 0-3

When Little Oats was a newborn, there were so many products that we loved. While I’m not on board with buying every baby product on the shelves, there are a handful that I swear by.

I know that while I was pregnant, I read every gear guide I could get my hands on, looking for recommendations and suggestions about the best things for a new baby. And now, sitting on the other side of that ‘newborn’ phase, I thought I would share what we loved most.

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Old Fashioned Chess Pie

There are some things that just scream summertime to me in Tennessee. Local farmers setting up booths on the side of the road selling produce, the sudden influx of activities outdoors like family movie nights on the lawn, and, of course, the oppressive humidity. Every year about this time I start dreaming of frozen yogurt, fresh strawberries, and chess pie. Most of you may think of chess pie as a holiday treat, especially here in the South around Thanksgiving. And depending on where you are in the South, you’ll probably find different types of chess pie like chocolate or pecan. I, on the other hand, think of it as a summer treat and like it as uncomplicated as possible. I like my chess pie served cold because I think it’s sweeter that way instead of the room temperature you often find chess pie at. It’s probably just a taste preference thing but room temperature chess pie is just… wrong.

To me a perfect afternoon snack is a cup of coffee – yes, even in this heat – with a slice of chess pie. Here’s my family’s recipe:

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IUGR – the condition I had and never heard of

At my first prenatal checkup, when Baby Carrot was a wee 7 weeks in utero, my sonogram tech asked if the paperwork I filled out when I came in for a pregnancy test was accurate. Based on my last period and what I believed was the conception date, Baby Carrot was supposed to be measuring two weeks larger. I was 100% certain of my dates – we had been TTC for a while and I was charting pretty religiously – so the tech wrote it off to an early ultrasound and margin of error.

Due to a few wonky results from my prenatal tests, I had a few extra ultrasounds between 9 and 12 weeks to check for a possible clotting disorder. Nothing turned up and I was an unlikely candidate for one, given my family history, but one thing remained steady – Baby Carrot was measuring 1-2 weeks smaller than her gestational age actually was. This remained a pattern throughout my entire pregnancy. I began showing late and barely gained any weight, despite having no morning sickness nor most of the typical pregnancy discomforts. My doctors were never concerned because I’m overweight to begin with, and my body seemed to develop a food control mechanism for me once I got pregnant – I actually began eating less because I would start to feel full after just a few bites. My cravings were actually healthy – I started wanting fish after nearly a lifetime of hating it, and had a hard time with carbs, which otherwise make up 90% of my diet. When I asked if it’s normal for the baby to be measuring small, I was given a variety of reasons – Mr. Carrot and I are both short people; “someone has to be at the bottom of the curve” and because her heartbeat was always normal and she was a very active mover, no one gave her size any worry, even though she consistently measured below the 10th percentile in size.

The first time I ever heard of IUGR – Intrauterine Growth Restriction – was after I delivered Baby Carrot. During my regular 36 week checkup, I mentioned to my doctor that Baby Carrot was on the quiet side the last few weeks, after a few days of being very active. I wasn’t worried – it was truly a casual mention, and I was feeling great overall  - but my doctor decided to order an ultrasound. Her concern was that the baby went from breech position the week before to head down at that checkup, and she thought that maybe she was moving less because she was getting tangled in her umbilical cord.

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