Toys for Language Development

The best toys for developing early speech and language are those that allow children to play with language. These are toys that help kids to not only learn new words, but to use those words in meaningful ways that will help them to communicate. Open-ended toys are best; these can be used in a variety of ways over an extended period of time. This list also includes toys that mimic social situations, and that look like familiar experiences for your child (play kitchens, dolls with accessories, etc). That way, the language that is practiced during play will apply to real-life situations. Here are some of my recommendations for toys that encourage language development.

1. Puppets – Hand puppets, finger puppets — anything your child can use to get into ‘character’ and use their language.

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10 Things I Know about the Newborn Stage the 2nd Time Around

Let me start off by saying my transition into motherhood was rocky at best.  Thinking about the newborn stage would often make me shudder, as it was heavily marked by depression, anxiety, and insomnia with my first-born.  I knew with my second child things would be different, but I didn’t know how different.

With my youngest at 8 weeks

Here are 10 things I understand now about the newborn stage this time around:

1.  The days are long but the years are short.

I am still in the thick of the sleep deprivation phase.  I can’t remember the last time I slept straight through the night, and most of my thoughts revolve around sleep.  My days and my moods are affected by how much the baby sleeps, and in turn, how much I sleep.  Have I told you that I so dearly miss sleep?  With my first, each day felt like an eternity, and so you can imagine how long three months felt if I could barely get through each day.  With my second, I am still exhausted (even more so with a toddler in my care as well) , but I know this is just a stage and it too shall pass.  I know the “light at the end of the tunnel” exists, even if I can’t see it yet.  And the years fly by . . . so I am just trying to savor this stage as best as I can, even in all of my sleep-deprived glory.

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An Unexpected Sibling

Several months after Missus Scooter and I met and began a serious relationship in 2007, we found ourselves talking about children. One of the reasons why we ‘work’ is we have always more or less been on the same page. Back in those early days, we both felt that kids were inevitable but we were in no hurry and neither of us felt a huge calling to motherhood. But we did talk about how we would go about becoming pregnant when the time came. We both agreed we didn’t want the donor to “involved” as a parental figure – that was our role. But that’s basically where the similarities ended.

Back in the Day, Circa 2007

Missus Scooter had a very strong opinion that the donor should be someone we knew; someone we could look in the eye, assess his character, and not just look at statistics written on a page. A lot of “weird” people probably look fantastic on paper: 6’2”, blonde hair, athletic. Great! Oh but he won’t look you in the eye, his nose drips, and he talks to aliens. Uh oh! It was hard to disagree with her logic.

But I had my own completely opposite strong opinion on the matter: the donor had to be anonymous. The likelihood of someone we already knew whom was willing to donate with “no strings attached” seemed very low (in fact, we couldn’t think of anyone at the time). And the idea of searching for someone to meet just for the purpose of being a donor seemed awkward. How would you even do this? <Insert bad Craigslist story here>. The worst-case scenario was that at some point, the donor (and/or his significant other) would change his mind about being involved with the child. Whether legally situated or not, you’re dealing with human beings and matters of the heart – and how could you deny a man who felt a pull towards his child? Considerations were not only the donor, but his partner, family, other children. What if they wanted time with our child? What if they were the type of people we didn’t want our children around? All of it seemed messy and not worth the upside of having firsthand experience with the donor. Missus Scooter agreed that I also had valid points.

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12 Stocking Stuffer Ideas for Kids

My family didn’t grow up with many holiday traditions, so I was determined to create my own now that I have my own family.  One simple tradition I’ve always yearned for was the simple act of stuffing stockings and opening them on Christmas Eve, then saving the big gifts for Christmas Day.

I look forward to hanging up our personalized stockings on the mantle each year because that’s when it really starts to feel like Christmas around here.  It’s amazing how much four little stockings can bring me such joy. Mr. Heels and I aren’t really gift people, so our stockings are usually pretty sparse, but we always make sure we fill up the kids’ stockings.

Here are some things I’ve done in previous years, and am considering for this year:

1.  Stickers – Our kids love stickers, and they provide them hours of endless fun. I’ll likely scour Target’s dollar section to see what I can come up with, or possibly get these Frozen stickers for Noelle (since that’s her obsession right now, like every other kid in the world…), and these Bubble Guppies stickers for Jaren.

2.  Finger puppets - How cute are these little puppets for tiny little hands? They’re great for imaginative play too, which only gets more and more elaborate as the kids get older!

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Fakin’ it ’til we make it

{Always checking what’s on the horizon…}

{Just another long-lost blogger here, popping back up.}

So, what happened?! Life happened. Apparently when the going gets tough, the tough go hide in a deep, dark hole. At least that’s what this tough girl did.

Really though. I’ve alluded to the rough transition here. It’s still very rough. And it’s slowly becoming obvious that there is a long, long road ahead. (Ok, ok… I’m slowly accepting that there’s a long road ahead. Many would argue that’s been obvious for months now!) We’re making forward progress but it’s in itty bitty baby steps. Steps that sometimes move back a whole lot before they move forward. Steps that I really, really wish were leaps and bounds over vast distances.

I knew we wouldn’t become insta-family the moment we landed. I knew it would take some time, and some a lot of work. But it never occurred to me that over 8 months later, we’d still very much be in a transition/adjustment phase. I’m ready to be done with all the transitions here and just be. (Someone please tell me if life is just a series of transitions… I’m going to need to start accepting that if it’s true. But make sure I’m sitting first, ok?!) I’m not really exaggerating when I say that many—most—of my days are spent working on Pint-Sized’s issues. As most adoptive parents will tell you, attachment is never-ending work in progress. I knew that going in. What I didn’t know is that the child I was bringing home was also going to be very angry, and very stubborn. So, all this attachment work takes a lot more time, energy, and effort. And a whole lot of tough skin. Cause let me tell you… it’s HARD. It’s hard to hold a child who is raging because he’s just angry at the *whole entire* world. It’s hard to be the person who has to ask help of other parents often so that big brother doesn’t miss out on opportunities. It’s hard to be the person who hears a child laugh and doesn’t realize it’s her own because it’s such a foreign sound.

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Potty Training: The Practice Stage

In my previous potty training post, I outlined the first three steps of the potty training process – modeling, explaining and play – as outlined by Janeen Hayward, Clinical Psychologist and sleep/behavioral consultant with Swellbeing. The next step – PRACTICE – requires a post all its own, since there was so much great information. For someone like me who went into this information session knowing very little about the potty training process, hearing about some of these “best practices,” including some great tips about dealing with potty training challenges, was so so helpful to learn before starting the practice stage in earnest. I attended the session because I didn’t want to have to undo any damage before I even began. We are gearing up to start “practice” at the end of the month, and I am hoping to get started on the right foot.


There is no magical age when a child will be “ready.” There are a few non-negotiables when it comes to potty training, though. First, a child must be able to stand up and walk to the potty. (At least that’s one step we have covered!) Second, for optimal success, the child needs to show interest in the potty training process. Without interest, potty training becomes a battleground and a power struggle, which toddlers and preschoolers love (but doesn’t exactly make the process easy). Other positive signs of readiness include keeping a diaper dry for longer stretches, informing parent/caregiver that they are wet or dirty, and being able to pull his/her pants up and down. One major obstacle to tackle before training is constipation, either through dietary solutions or by consulting your pediatrician about the need of medication.

The speaker mentioned that there are “ideal windows” when potty training might be easier, including the early “1′s” (12-18 months), when toddlers are generally less focused on “no” and are more eager to please their parents than to assert their will. The late “1′s”/early “2′s” are a more difficult stage, when everything is a battle (see here).  ypically, the most common age for potty training begins around 2.5 and continues through age 3.  However, the challenge of waiting too long is that a child can become “diaper trained,” having trouble parting ways with his diapers, especially for pooping.

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Pregnancy: My Second Time Around

I am now 28 weeks pregnant with our baby girl, entering the third trimester home stretch and getting increasingly anxious to meet her! We had a follow up ultrasound this week and she’s looking good. We never had a scan this late in my first pregnancy, and it was awesome to see her with so much more meat on her bones. Her little face looked so sweet I’m now considering splurging on one of those 3d ultrasounds just to get a better look!

Things have certainly been a little different with this pregnancy, so here’s a little update on what this one has been like so far, compared to the first:

The bump: I remember eagerly awaiting the appearance of a baby bump in those first 16 weeks or so of my pregnancy with Roman… taking pictures of the ever so slight, slow protrusion of my belly, anxious to look and feel “pregnant.” This time, I took the test and then said, “oh, so that’s why I’ve looked perpetually bloated the last couple of weeks!” I instantly looked pregnant, which is just fine with me; I do still love a nice baby bump… and boy is this a big one! (Though I haven’t taken nearly as many pictures of it yet.)

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