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If you follow me over on Instagram, you know about my healthy obsession with red wine. Yes, I know white wine is good too but it just doesn’t do it for me like red wine can. It’s my nightly treat to myself. My version of self-care, you can say. Well with this, it is no wonder that I have tried so many wines. Most I have loved, while there are the occasional few I have made a note to never buy again.
Truth be told, I do not know really anything about wine, other than it tastes good. Typically, I love a good bold Cabernet Sauvignon and a light Pinot Noir but red blends and Malbecs have started catching my attention a bit more.
For this reason and being that the holidays are upon us, I figured I would put together a master list of all of my favorite wines to date. I have organized them into price ranges and over time I will continue to update this list for you all to look back on and try yourselves. Take a look and let me know if there any I should try next.
Make sure to check back for updates. I will keep this list growing because you know I’m not giving up wine any time soon 🙂
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Potty Training. Boy, oh, boy where to even start. If you are like me, I am assuming you found or ventured to this post because you are desperate for some answers and more importantly, a little hope when it comes to this subject. Well, guess what I am about to deliver all of that. Except, I am going to do so in a very realistic way and I’m not going to use any particular method.
So, before we begin, I want to let it be known that we are still very much on our potty-training journey with Cassidy. It hasn’t been that long since we began and truthfully, I think it might be a little while more until we can say Cassidy will be 100% trustworthy and accident-free. However, she has seriously kicked some major butt the past few days and best of all, we’ve officially stopped using diapers, and most importantly, it has never been stressful or negative. It has always been light-hearted, fun, and exciting, which I believe has made all the difference this time around.
Anyhow, with all that being said, below I listed out all the things that I learned from entering this major milestone. Trust me, I know this may seem daunting to tackle but take it from me, a mom who literally has no idea what she is doing, that it doesn’t have to be. Just remember to take a deep breath and repeat after me, we’ve got this! I say “we” because this is going to take a team.
This is the big question you need to start with. How do you know when your child is ready to potty train? I think it all depends on who you are looking towards for that answer. If you are looking at a potty training book, some will say anywhere between 18-36 months. Or, if you are like me back in April, when we first tried this and was looking at friends, I thought since everyone else was doing it during COVID quarantine that we should be too. Well, guess what, that was a HUGE mistake and a total disaster. Why? Because I didn’t think to look at the one person who matters most in this decision… my daughter.
So, with that being said, by looking specifically at Cassidy’s cues this time, we started to see a couple of things that showed her readiness. For example, she was starting to refuse and fight diaper changes, hid when pooping, looked embarrassed after she did poop, and then tried to get her diaper off at any chance possible. As far as her speech delay, we also saw how she has come far enough where she is able to say “pee-pee,” “potty,” and “poo-poo.” However, even if she didn’t have those words, I still think we could have the same success because despite not being strong communicating, she still understands a great deal.
For us, we decided that it would be best to start this endeavor when we knew we had no place to be, we’d both be home, had no vacations coming up, and then had no other big transitions (i.e., big kid bed, school starting, new baby, anything new at all) taking place. Another added bonus was finding a weekend with good weather so we could be outside as much as possible. Luckily, with Labor Day creeping up we decided to do it then.
Day 1 for us actually started on the Friday before the weekend. I called this my “awareness day” because I wanted Cassidy to really see what happens when she goes potty. I put her in a sundress (for boys I would just take their bottoms off) and let her run around on our deck outside. This way if she did go it would at least wouldn’t be inside. From here, I watched her and any time she went pee, I’d point out what happened so she was made aware. We didn’t do this all day and didn’t do it for poop, because there is no way I wanted to clean that much, but we did it just long enough to make a point out what was happening.
Before the day was over, I let Cassidy know what was going to be starting the following day. I told her about her new undies and showed them to her, I told her how there would be no more diapers, and how she was going to be a big girl and use the “big girl potty seat.” She didn’t show any enthusiasm or seem to care but I figured it couldn’t hurt to at least tell her.
This is where the fun began. We woke up, got Cassidy out of her room, brought her right to her little potty chair upstairs, and told her to sit on it and go “pee-pee.” She sat for one second and then was off. I let her go completely bottomless and just told my husband that we’d need to watch her like a hawk. I poured her a huge bottle of juice, turned off the TV (we wanted to eliminate any distraction), made her breakfast, and then set the timer for 15 minutes. I also made sure during this time to not take my eyes off of her because I wasn’t sure how much time it would actually take for the liquids to go through her.
Once the timer went off, we brought her over to her potty chair and TRIED to get her to sit. But, Cassidy is a stubborn little girl who does not like to do anything if it isn’t of her own accord. She screamed and ran away and then not even 2 minutes later peed on our carpet. We didn’t scold her, we didn’t yell, we just told her “it’s okay, accidents are okay but pee-pee goes in the potty.” This entire dance went on for the next half of the morning. Honestly, though, I have to say that I did start to doubt myself and the process and was very close to admitting defeat. But, after quitting once before, I decided to push through and just wait to see how the rest of the day went. In my gut, I knew that if I could just get Cassidy to sit once on the potty and do something, she’d see what we were doing and continue.
Thankfully, after a couple more accidents, a moment came when all the sudden outside on the deck, she peed and yelled “oh-no.” This is when I knew she was understanding that she did something she shouldn’t. 15 minutes later, I saw her about to pee again so I grabbed her (but not in a scary way) and put her on the portable potty seat where she finished the rest of the pee. We jumped up and down, clapped, and then gave her an M&M. We also showed her how to say “bye-bye” to the pee as we poured it into the toilet and how to pull the handle to flush. I know that sounds crazy but for little kids, they think seeing the water go-around is the coolest thing and I honestly believe Cassidy continued to pee in the toilet solely for this. From that moment on, something clicked and she knew what the potty seat was for. She went back and forth between the little potty and the regular toilet and chose whichever she had closer to her at the moment.
Now, you may be wondering about the whole poop thing. I was prepared for a whole slew of possibilities there and wasn’t sure what to expect. I know some kids take longer to nail that down and some kids can even be scared of it. But, we decided to just wait and treat the idea of it all the same. We let Cassidy continue to run around outside bottomless and watched for her “poop cues.” She personally gets a little fidgety and tries to go off where she can’t be seen. Unfortunately, though, since I was right there watching, she proceeded to poop in her cozy coop car. I did the same thing I do for pee accidents, told her it was okay, not to touch it, and that poo-poo goes in the potty.
Funny enough, she seemed a little disappointed in herself because of the accident. But we continued to reassure her that accidents happen, we weren’t mad and she’d get it next time. And you know what, 20 minutes later she pooped again (poor kid actually had a bit of a yucky stomach because of all the juice we gave her so fair warning on that) and she went right in her little portable potty chair. Again, we cheered super loud, made a huge celebration of it, and gave her a reward.
This was our second day of full-on potty training and for the most part, it went pretty smooth aside from 3 tiny accidents (1 poop and 2 pee). We decided to try and put some undies on her, instead of letting her run completely bare-ass naked, but I think it confused her and that is what led to her accidents. So back to taking them off we went and decided that the following day we would try again with undies.
We also on this day decided to forgo the timer because Cassidy seemed to let us know, for the most part, when she had to go and I was curious to see how she would do without. Cassidy also seemed to hate the timer method and would run from us any time it went off. I guess for some kids the timer method can work but for others, it may not and even be more harm than good. Again, its all about going based on works best with your child.
Our 3rd full day of training and this time we tried undies all day and then even a pair of shorts later in the day. However, while she did great with undies, once I got the shorts on her she had a pee accident. So back to just undies we went! This day I decided to also venture out shortly and see how she did and surprisingly, she stayed dry.
This was our 4th-day potty training and the first full day of ZERO accidents. She let me know each and every time when she had to go for both #1 & 2. This day she also had dry pull-ups during a nap, which was great to see.
One tiny accident but to no fault of her own. Cassidy accidentally locked herself in her bedroom and I didn’t get her out soon enough when I heard her knocking. I thought she was just being a goofball. Other than that, she wore undies and shorts and had no problem. Well, that is until she misjudged a fart and got poop all over my nice white carpet. Thank God for carpet cleaner!
One whole week behind us and this day went great as well. Not only did Cassidy wear shorts and undies for the majority of the day, but she also let me know when she had to poop by actually saying the word. Before this, she always just fidgeted but never actually vocalized it. I felt a little more trustworthy of her in that she would let me know when/if she had to go, so that was a nice break. Felt super proud of our little girl and also of ourselves for pushing through and figuring out what was best for all.
As I stated above in the list of what you’ll need, I put pull-ups on there because the ability to sleep and not have an accident isn’t always a very easy thing to achieve at first. It takes your child’s body a while to adapt to this new routine when they are awake and even longer when they aren’t. So, for this reason, we are putting a pull-up on Cassidy for extra reassurance but ONLY when she is sleeping. Sometimes she wakes up dry but not always. I think as she gets older and more in control, we will be able to switch completely to undies at night. For the time being though, we will stick with these and then also start practicing limiting her liquids 1.5 hours before bed.
Last but not least, I just want to reaffirm this idea. Accidents happen and even when you believe your child is fully potty trained, it is always a possibility. However, this shouldn’t be something that should stop you from giving it a try. From here on out, I know that I will always have to be a little more cognizant of asking Cassidy whether she needs to go. I’ll also have to remember to carry extra undies & shorts with me and then keep up with the positive reinforcement.
Potty training doesn’t have to be an overnight thing and honestly, probably won’t be. Just keep a good attitude, shake off the tiny accidents, and keep moving forward. AND, if you find that maybe this time isn’t working out, or perhaps you’re getting a little frustrated, then take a step back and put it on hold for a while. No one is rushing you and there are no rules when it comes to this. Go with the flow and most importantly, listen to that sweet babe of yours. If you take the pressure off, I promise you, they will let you know when they are ready and when they are they will rock it!
So I think I covered it all but if you should at all have any questions or even just need a little pep-talk, please comment below or better yet, find me on Instagram at @theverymarylife.
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As a parent, I think when it comes to talking about our children, it is only natural to worry about their development. We want to make sure they are keeping up and when we notice that they may not be, we stay quiet. Perhaps that’s because we are a little too proud, maybe embarrassed or even a little afraid that if we ask for help it may lead to judgement.
This was exactly how we felt at first when we started having our suspicions about Cassidy having a speech delay. However, after facing this head on and talking about it openly, I quickly realized just how common this can be AND yet how very little it is often talked about.
So, with this being said, I wanted to write this post to break the silence, create a community, give guidance and most importantly, show you there is nothing to be scared of.
From the time Cassidy was born, we never had any concerns regarding basic developmental milestones. She rolled around, she took her first steps at 11 months, said “dada” and “mama” and then would just talk in her own little language all day long. However, around the time she was turning 18 months, I started noticing how she wasn’t quite where she “should” be in terms of language. At 18-months, the CDC says that most kids “should” have about 20 single words in addition to many other things. Well for Cassidy there were probably only 5 clear words we could understand from her at the time. After consulting with our pediatrician, we decided to wait a couple more months and get closer to her second birthday before taking any steps. It was explained to me that a lot can happen right before two so it was best to just give it time. I agreed with this and decided to wait.
Well come October, 2 months before she’d be turning two, Cassidy still hadn’t made much progress and had no more than 10 full words. I knew by this point that she wasn’t exactly where she needed to be. She was still talking (more like babbling) in her own language but when it came to using real words, engaging with other kids her age, and even basic pronunciation, something was off the mark. I knew it was time for us to get a second opinion and see if it would be worth it to have her get help.
Thankfully in New Jersey, you don’t need a doctor’s referral to have an early intervention evaluation done so I was able to set that all up myself. I’m not positive how it works in other states but I’d assume it’s probably pretty similar. When it came time for Cassidy’s evaluation, it was done in 2 separate meetings. The first would be the actual evaluation with Cassidy and then the second was the follow up, where we’d review results and create a plan of action if she did in fact qualify.
**I’ve heard from a lot of mamas that have said that during this point, that many children may actually not qualify because what you think is a delay might actually be quite normal. Obviously that didn’t happen for us but all I can say is that if this ends up being the case for you and you feel it is incorrect, don’t be afraid to push!**
The evaluation in itself was fairly simple. A team of 2 people came to our house, one would play with Cassidy while the other sat at a computer observing and recording notes/scoring. They’d do structured assessments with Cassidy, using toys and fun things, but then also ask me questions as well. These questions were targeted to identify things such as language concerns, social concerns and fine motor concerns. Yes, even if your child is only showing delay in one area, they will take a look at it all. Just want to point that out so you aren’t concerned if you notice them looking into a different area of observation.
Oh, and lastly, because this entire evaluation is state provided, it was free! Another reason it’s totally worth having done if you feel there is any concern for your child. There is literally nothing to lose!
As you could have guessed based on this post, Cassidy did in fact qualify for early intervention therapies. The results of her evaluation showed that she had the language ability equivalent to an 11-month-old (not good for being 24 months old) but when it came to things like her fine motor skills she actually far exceeded her age (this is actually something I have heard can be quite common in kids with speech delays). Makes sense considering what a monkey she is with climbing everything. As for social development, we concluded that her lack of engagement wasn’t so much an issue but more a result of her not fully understanding when she hears other kids speak. Again, made total sense because she looked at kids like they were speaking a foreign language.
It was determined from here on out that she’d have early intervention therapy 1x a week here at our house and then additionally, 2x a week she would go to see a speech therapist. A speech therapist isn’t always necessary for each kid. Cassidy, however, has improper tongue positioning and needs to work on the muscles of her mouth, which will ultimately help with vocabulary and pronunciation of words.
For the past 4 months, that is until recently with the whole COVID crisis, Cassidy was having her weekly sessions. When our E.I. therapist comes to our home, she brings a whole slew of toys, puzzles, books and more. Basically, its likes Christmas morning for Cassidy because she gets so freaking excited to be able to play with things she’s never seen before. It during this time that our therapist uses things like mimicking, repetition, pretend play and more to help nail home some new words. Each week varies because it all really depends on how Cassidy is doing that day. Sometimes she does shut down because it may be a lot for her to absorb but when that happens, our therapist is so great and understanding to know when/how to give space and get her to open back up.
As for Speech Therapy, again up recently, we were attending our sessions twice weekly. Each appointment is only 30-minutes, short enough to teach and keep Cassidy engaged. These sessions are a little different because we focus more on activities that help Cassidy’s mouth muscles. We blow bubbles, sometimes eat food, drink out of various straws, and more. It’s actually super interesting to watch because they have so many tools to help get Cassidy on track.
Ultimately with everything, we have a set of goals we are aiming to achieve in the next year up until the time Cassidy turns three. At this point, we will then reassess her and if we feel she still could benefit from continued early intervention, she will get that help at our local pre-school, which is run out of the public elementary school.
Since beginning, the change we’ve been able to witness in Cassidy has been extraordinary. She has more than quadrupled the amount of words in her vocab but has also flourished when it comes to engaging with others, following direction and establishing independence. While we still have a ways to go, this entire experience has been nothing but positive.
If you are at all concerned about your child’s speech or any developmental milestone, I would highly recommend bringing it up at your next pediatrician appointment. OR if you don’t want to wait, give your state health department a call to get an evaluation scheduled. Trust me, I know how scary it can feel when you worry about your kids. I really really get it! However, by taking the initiative, I advocated for my daughter, got the help she needed, and have watched her thrive ever since. As for myself, I proved I could unleash my inner bear, putting all fears aside, I was able to speak up for my daughter, when she couldn’t do so herself!
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If you read our latest post, you know that our daughter, Cassidy, has a Speech Delay. While we owe a lot of her current success to the help of early intervention and speech therapy, I also have to give credit to the tools (or better yet, toys) that have helped us break through and see some real results. As with anything in life, repetition and engagement are so important to do and have if you want to learn a new skill. It is for this reason that I wanted to tell you all of our favorite toys that we have found have worked best in capturing Cassidy’s attention, spark that engagement and most importantly, teach her to speak.
Regardless of it your little one is speech delayed or not, below are our absolute favorite toys that will for sure help you increase their learning of language while playing.
Mr. Potato head probably has been a fan favorite for over 50 years and its easy to see why. It is truly great for so many activities and concepts. Not only is a great way to introduce body parts but it is also great for teaching to “put it on,” “take it off,” “put the shoes on”, etc. Additionally, you can use Mr Potato so demonstrate verbs, point out colors (“he is wearing blue shoes”), and even show how to take turns as you place each part.
I love Play-doh because it can be used for so many different things. Demonstrating colors, sizes, and verbs, the sensory nature of it really captures Cassidy attention. For us personally, I like to use it to get Cassidy to work on requesting “more,” seeing that it can be go in/out of its tub, matching colors to each top, and then even pretend play. We make balls, we roll it, we smash it, we cut it, we pretend it is a yummy piece of cake, and so much more.
I love pretty much everything Melissa & Doug puts out and with a love of Winnie the Pooh, this was a total must have. Not only is it totally adorable but it offers so much variety when it comes to lessons. Shapes, colors, counting, and so much more. I love being able to ask “where is Pooh’s nose?” While some of the shapes are still a bit advanced and tougher to say, it will continue to grow with her and come in handy as she gets older.
This is a classic. I know I had something similar as a kid and for being so simple, it was so exciting to play with. From colors to verbs, this is another great hands on toy that allows for your child to see cause & effect and work on piecing words together.
This is a tool our speech therapist loves to use for a multitude of reasons. Even though it at first seems like a more advanced toy for toddlers, you can easily simplify it. Another great cause & effect tool, you can show how the pig “eats,” how it “pops,” how it “opens” or “closes.” Additionally this is a great tool to help show how to take turns feeding the pig while working to further improve those fine motor skills by using the spatula to load them in his mouth.
Before Spencer arrived, and even after, this has been a great way to communicate with Cassidy regarding her new sibling. With her doll, she can help “feed” the baby, “burp” the baby, and even put the baby down to sleep and say “night, night.” Definitely a must have if you are pregnant or might ever be with your little one around.
Because Cassidy is a more hands on learner, I have to get creative to try teaching without overwhelming her. This was a recent easter basket gift that has been great for teaching colors and words like “on/off” or even shapes if you draw them. I love that I can do this during our regular bath time and she doesn’t know any different. She loves them!
These aren’t the exact puzzles we own but rather we have ones with Disney characters instead. We have a huge Mickey Mouse Clubhouse fan here so that helps get her to focus. Despite this, puzzles are another hands on way to teach shapes, animals, or anything the might be in the shape of. For us, Cassidy has really gotten down the names of all Mickey’s show, such as Pluto, Donald and Minnie.
From colors, counting, and more, I have seen people use this piggy bank in so many way to teach kids new fine motor skills and words. While I’ll admit the sounds are a bit obnoxious, kids love seeing how they can put a coin “in” and hear the sound that results. Additionally, if you google this bank and being used with speech, there are so many blogs out there that give cool new ideas for how to change them up based on the lesson you want to teach.
This was a Christmas gift for Cassidy this previous year and it has been a great toy for not only pretend play but also for increasing her vocabulary of fruits, colors, and verbs like “cut.”
I love using bubbles with Cassidy and it seems so do our speech and early intervention therapist. It really is a fun and great way to get kids to participate and try. Seriously, with blowing bubbles I have noticed how easy it is to quickly gain and hold a child’s attention or calm or engage a fussy child. Our infant son loves them. Best of all bubbles are inexpensive and can be used anywhere. For us, bubbles are a great way to teach “your turn/my turn.” It has also been a great tool for us to get more communication opportunities and teach things like more, again, want, pop, blow, dip, all done, up, down, in, out, on, off, and me. Lastly, for Cassidy specifically with developing pronunciation, perfecting words like “pop” are awesome for her to strengthen her “p” sounds.
I know this may not be a common one you’d think of but if you at all have a child who is a fan of a movie, show or book, it may be worth looking to see if there are figurines you can get. Cassidy loves pretty much all things Disney and Pixar so we have entire collections from Monster Inc, Moana, Fancy Nancy, Toy Story and more. Since she recognizes them from the TV she has started to pretend play more, say their actual names and even repeat catch phrases like “reach for the sky” or “to infinity and beyond.” Seriously, its incredible.
These simple toys are deceptively amazing, and can be used for some many things/ concepts. For us, stacking cups have been great to help teach size, big and small, or big, bigger, biggest. I’ve also used these to show turn taking, teach and reinforce colors, and counting. Cassidy loves counting from 1-10 and then knocking them down, which in turn has led to her learning words like ” uh-oh,” “down,” and “all done.”
For less than $5 on amazon, I have 3 different sets of these flashcards and let me tell you, Cassidy loves them and has learned so many new words because of them. Since she can see exactly what word we are asking her to repeat, she has quickly been able to memorize and retain that information. Apple is probably her new favorite word, in addition to “baby,” “pebble,” “shoes,” and “ball.” From colors, shapes, to animals, there are tons of variations of these cards. Plus, with a touch & feel aspect, your little one can once again get hands on.
Lastly, books are always a great way to teach kids new words but not all books are created the same. For those first learning, it is best to start with simple, illustrated books that have repetition. Personally, when we pick a book, we will continue to read it nightly for at least 2 weeks before switching. At this point, Cassidy has heard and started memorizing that she will fill in the blanks as we read. Currently, our top 4 favorites are “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?”, “The Pout Pout Fish,” “The Going to Bed Book,” and then “The First 100 Words.”