Gifts for One Year Old Under $15

Juliet got a wonderful array of birthday gifts this year. We truly feel blessed she was showered with presents, but truthfully at one she is just as enamored and interested with the wrapping paper, boxes… heck even a pile of laundry. Besides that she has so many hand me down toys to boot. When friends and family would ask for suggestions, I told them to not go crazy since she really wouldn’t know the difference.

I scoured online to see to find nice age appropriate toys for her age set for less, and compiled this list of toys under $15.

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We Have A Social Worker

I know, right? It doesn’t really sound like a good thing. But truly? It’s one of the best things that has ever happened to our family. Let me backtrack and explain exactly how it is that a social worker came into our lives, and what it is that she does that is so completely invaluable.

Writing this is bittersweet, because in less than a month Ellie’s case will be closed. I think I feel a little like a swimming student who’s been getting along super-great with a floatation device. “Okay, we’re going to take that off of you now. You can do it! Come on– you’ve got this. You don’t need it anymore,” says the coach. “But I do. I do need this. So give it baaaaaack,” thinks the voice in my head.

Ellie has been doing really well. Her teacher at school noticed towards the end of the year. Other adults we’ve encountered, both socially and in the world-at-large, have noticed (and their positive comments have really been important to Ellie). We’ve noticed at home, too. I can’t say I was that surprised when Lena* (not her real name) brought up closing Ellie’s case. I was starting to feel a little ridiculous getting such wonderful and helpful services when Ellie was clearly doing so well. But, hello denial– I pushed that thought far, far into the recesses of my mind. Because can we really do this? Can we survive without her?

The happy graduate

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Mom Knows Best… Oh, that’s me!

There was an article floating around about how when moms know best, it can be the worst. Although the article is talking more about allowing others around you (specifically the dads) to help more, it made me think about that phrase “mother knows best.”

I remember the first few weeks of caring for a newborn, there were so many questions and options to think about. A conversation with Mr. Pencil went mostly like this:

Mr. Pencil: “So… what should we do?”
Me: “I don’t know… what do you think?”
Mr. Pencil: “I don’t know, what do you think?”
Me: “I don’t know, what do you think?”

There are so many unsolvable equations involved with parenting. What time should he start going to sleep? When should we up his bottle dosage? When should we start sleep training? Is being a little cold better than being a little hot?

No matter how many guide books you read, they will never be able to give you the best answer for your baby. So basically when we don’t know what the heck we’re doing, it all comes down to the parents. What? Why? Because I’m the mother, duh! Oh right. If there is anyone in the entire world that should make a decision, it should be me! But I can’t help to keep looking around me thinking, “Wait… am I doing this correctly? Is this the right decision?” Even a nod from a total stranger would give me a boost of confidence. But when there’s nobody around you, I often feel like I’m spinning in circles just making random guesses. Is this what parenting is like?

Here are the guesses decisions I make on an everyday basis for my 3 month old:

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When Baby Doesn’t Sleep Through the Night

The question I get asked most frequently when it comes to Little Oats is, “So is she sleeping through the night?” My answer? A snort, vigorous head shaking, and an incredulous, “No.” I’m not quite sure where this fascination with sleeping through the night comes from; it seems to be the holy grail of baby behaviour. But of all the mommy-friends I have, there is precisely ONE who has a baby sleeping through the night. It seems to be more the exception than the rule.

As a newborn, Little Oats slept in 2-3 hour stretches, waking frequently to nurse around the clock. Her sleep started solidifying into 3-4 hour chunks around three months… right in time for the four month sleep regression. At four months, Little Oats was waking between 2 and 4 times per night, but she was getting a decent amount of sleep (and so was I). Naps regulated around 7 months, and she was down to 1-2 wake-ups nightly. I felt like I could live with this situation; I was getting about 4 hours of sleep in a stretch, and we were managing fairly well.

And then, 9 months hit. While I had read a few times about the “9 month sleep regression,” I didn’t expect it would happen to us. I didn’t think that her sleep could get a whole lot worse than it had been, and I wasn’t prepared in the slightest.

But it hit just the same.

The day after Little Oats turned 9 months, naps became a fight. Bedtime became a struggle of epic proportions. It would take hours to get her to sleep (often times giving up and just letting her watch TV with me), and when she finally fell asleep, she would be restless and wake frequently. Naps were skipped all together, or fought to the point that Little Oats would fall asleep at 5:30pm and mess up her night time sleep even further.

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What We Bought (and What We Tossed) for Baby No. 2

One of the most daunting tasks for first-time mamas is researching a never-ending list of baby products. I remember the neurosis very clearly – in fact, the first time I set foot in a Babies ‘R’ Us, I almost hyperventilated. There was just so. much. stuff.

The second time around, I thought very little about stuff. We reused just about everything we had for our first son, who was 28 months when little brother came along. That said, we still bought a few odds and ends, and got rid of a few things, too. Here’s our list:

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Chicken & Vegetable Pesto Pasta

When it comes to cooking, I’m not very exact. I definitely get this from my mom as she’s the queen of “here’s a casserole made out of some leftovers I had in the fridge and it turned out pretty well.” So, recently I experimented and ended up with a really tasty gluten-free pasta dish! Just two days ago I boiled a whole chicken, and had at least 2 lbs of shredded chicken left in the fridge, so I decided to use about half of the chicken to make pesto pasta. But, I wanted to add some vegetables, so I used what I had on hand and this is what I came up with. Some of the measurements are probably not exact, but are my best estimations for what I did this evening.

Sauteeting the chicken, veggie mixture in the skillet

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Hopscotch Twins & Life Updates!

It’s been a while since my last blog post where I shared our big TWINS news! I’ve missed sharing what’s been happening in the Hopscotch household these days. However, it has been because of all the activity lately that I haven’t been able to share anything – there has just been too much going on for me to catch a breath!

However, first things first, I’m excited to share that this fall we’ll be welcoming a baby BOY and a baby GIRL to our family!

While we would have been happy and excited about any gender combination (boy/girl, boy/boy, girl/girl) we’re pretty darn happy to be welcoming one of each! And most importantly, so far babies appear to be happy and healthy and I’m doing great as well!

Now, back to the reason for my blogging hiatus: a whirlwind of life changes! We found out about the twins at 16 weeks into my pregnancy. Over the 8 weeks following that news, we managed to accomplish the following:

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