First Birthdays And The Older Sibling

Posted 05-28-2015 at 07:55 AM by Matrivine

Your second child is turning one. Congratulations. You want to throw a great party for them and that’s your right as a parent. Your older child ( most likely in their toddler or preschool years) aren’t so sure what that means. How can we make their siblings birthday a special day without making or older child feel left out? Here are a few tips.

Plenty Of People Your Oldest Knows

One of the best ways to keep an older child from feeling left out at your one year old’s birthday party is to have plenty of family and friends around that they know. Even though your little one year old is getting a whole lot of attention, your older child will also have plenty of attention.

Make The Oldest Part Of The Ritual

Have your toddler pass the presents to their younger sibling to unwrap. Let them “help” unwrap some of the bigger items that you know your one year old just isn’t going to be able to tear into.

Let Your Toddler Play With The Presents

Often there are more presents than a one year old can play with at one time. Let your little birthday baby pick a few to play with and then let your older children play nicely with the rest. make it clear these are the one year old’s toys, but also let your child know that sharing goes both ways.

What Is The Oldest Looking Forward To?

If your older child is looking forward to cake on your one year old’s birthday use that to get them excited about the party. If they are looking forward to seeing grandparents, use that to help them look forward to the party. Make sure that they get plenty of time playing with Granny or that favorite uncle, or that they get a nice piece of cake. Older children look forward to the fun of a party, not the birthday baby turning one. That’s a parent thing.


Diaper Swapers

No More Naps

Posted 05-25-2015 at 11:01 AM by Matrivine

It’s finally happened. Your toddler has been put down for their nap. You sit down with a blanket and a good book. Then a shadow crosses the doorway. There stands your defiant toddler. Nap time is over before it began and this is becoming the normal routine. How do you adjust to the lack of nap time in your life?

Quiet Time

Try transforming nap time into quiet time. Your child doesn’t have to be in bed and the bedroom door doesn’t even need to be closed. It’s just a time for them to play quietly in their room. It gives them time away from you, the ability to entertain themselves and you a little peace and quiet. It can also lengthen the time that your child can remain patient. Don’t make quiet time as long a nap time, but forty five minutes to an hour can be beneficial to both you and your child.

Fun Time Afterwards

Quiet time should immediately be followed up by something fun and possibly out doors. It could be blowing bubbles or water play. It could also be going into the kitchen and making a snack with mommy. Use a child friendly recipe so you little one can be a big help in the kitchen. Another thing that you could do is give your child a choice between three activities after quiet time. This give them the opportunity to pick what fun activity to have, but leaves you in control of the choices.

Not A Punishment

Quiet time should never be used as a punishment. This doesn’t teach your child to play quietly or to keep themselves occupied. It teaches them they will be put in their room every time the act up and quiet time should be avoided at all cost. Instead, when putting a child in time out, use a chair the have to sit in rather than their room. Make sure there is a defining difference between timeout and quiet time.

Picking A Park

Posted 05-20-2015 at 09:01 AM by Matrivine

Picking a park used to be as simple as walking down the street to the park closest to you. It’s not quite so easy anymore. There are many other things that need to be considered when picking a park for you and your little one to visit.

Other Children 

One of the first things you want to look at when picking a park to visit with your child is the number of other children there. While you may not want an overcrowded park, you don’t want you child playing there only with you either. Make sure there are plenty opportunities for along side play. You can do this by picking a time after work hours or after school when more parents come out with their children. You can also schedule a park group with like minded friends to ensure that someone is there to play.


You need to make sure that the park area is clean and maintained regularly. This can be done by visiting a park a few times. Check for broken glass, cigarette butts and other debris. Also check for adult materials (used condoms or needles). Many parks are great at first glance, but under more scrutiny are not a place you want your child to hang out at.

Condition Of Equipment

Are the swings broken or unhinged? Is the equipment old? What kind of material will your child be falling on if the should jump out of the swing or go down the slide to quickly? Also consider the bar gaps of the play equipment. I know it sounds silly but you don’t want anyone one’s head stuck between the bars.

Partially Enclosed

You want the park to be a t least partially closed off from the parking lot. It keeps kids from running out in traffic. It also corrals them a little and makes it easier for you to keep track of them.


Dealing With The Violent Tendencies Of Toddlers

Posted 05-18-2015 at 07:53 AM by Matrivine

We would all like to say that our children would never do that. My child would never bite, hit, scratch or kick someone. If they did it was in self defense and the other child must have done something to instigate it. It’s sad when we are faced with the reality that’s just not true.

Toddlers can be violent. I know from experience. My little one went through a phase where he seemed to want to knock my teeth out with the back of his head whenever he didn’t get his way. How do we deal toddler tantrums and nip that tendency for physical violence in the bud?

More Violence Is Not The Answer

In many countries corporeal punishment for children is outlawed. In many states in the US the same applies, and the number is growing. Whether you believe that spankings or hand slaps are a proper form of punishment or not, you have to acknowledge that this way of punishment will soon not be accepted by our society.

It’s just as well. It’s incredibly difficult to teach children the value of not behaving violently by behaving violently towards them. The only thing that teaches our children, is that violence is not acceptable until you are big enough to get away with it. They may obey you for now (for fear of physical retaliation) but they will start testing that line again when they are old enough. Not only that, they may incorporate it into their parenting style later in life.

The answer is not getting our way by acting in the way we are telling our children is not acceptable.

What Then?

There are many ways to get through to a child without the use of physical punishment. There are time outs, taking toys away, or removing them from a fun situation. Insist on apologies when a child does something wrong. Take away television, internet or device privileges.

Set rules and limits as well as consequences and post them in a place your child will see often. Make sure that you and your spouse are on the same page and work together. Together follow through with the consequences. Remain calm as you explain to your child why they are being punished, even when the child is having a melt down over the consequences of their actions.

When all else fails call in the professionals. I don’t mean your parents. Talk to your pediatrician about tactics to use with your child.

This will take a great deal of patience and, most likely longer to get through to your child, but it will be worth it.

When Toddler’s Help

Posted 05-13-2015 at 11:28 AM by Matrivine

We all love it when our little one displays any evidence of becoming an upstanding citizen… Well, mostly. Toddler’s have a way of helping, and sometimes not in the best ways. They break things, spill things, and make huge messes all in the name of helping. How do you help your little helper become less of a disaster and more the hard working little person they want to be?

Points For Trying

Little ones should be complimented on the things they are trying to do right. Did they help put the laundry away (in all the wrong bedrooms and drawers)? Compliment them on helping with the laundry and teach them the proper places for the laundry to go. You can also compromise your routine to make helping easier. For example have then carry the socks to a family member’s room and place them on the bed, even if previously you have put the socks into a drawer yourself. This way your little one has something to help with that comes with simple requests.

Smaller Jobs

Little ones are okay doing a different job to help out when you make a big deal about it. They may come in ready to help cut vegetables for dinner, but when asked to stir the salad until the ingredients look really mixed they can puff out their little chests and do that instead. Be sure to lather on the gratitude for helping you and the praise at dinner time. Little ones love to know their help was well received.

Say An Age Limit

There may be a certain activity that your little one is really excited about helping you with. The only problem is that they aren’t old enough and it’s not a safe job. Instead of telling them that they can’t help, tell them they can when they reach whatever age you deem appropriate for that activity. For example, if  my toddler wants to help me pull things out of the oven, I tell him he can when he’s five, but for now he can get me the pot holders out of the drawer.



Fashion Observations From A Three Year Old Boy

Posted 05-11-2015 at 07:56 AM by Matrivine

My little son and I had a conversation about clothing the other day as I was picking out my outfit for the day. I learned a lot about his point of view when it comes to clothing, make up and the purpose of wearing clothes. Here are a few of the the things he told me ( cleaned up and clarified).

Make Up Is Stupid

Mommy  was in the bathroom putting stuff on her face. It takes time and she’s worried about getting it just right. The problem is she’s also trying to look like the stuff isn’t on her face and I really don’t see the point. Why put it on at all if you want to look like your wearing it? Now I’m all for the dramatic look accomplished by smearing the lip stick across your face, but if you just wearing it to wear it, don’t bother.


Mommy should wear flowers. They need to be bright colorful flowers. It needs to be flowers because flowers always smell good. Oddly the flowers on your shirt smell like your perfume. It makes sense since I think perfume comes from flowers.


If you aren’t going to wear flowers you need to wear something equally pretty and colorful (because you’re a girl, and regardless that you have taught me color has nothing to do with gender, I still think mommy is prettier in color) like butterflies.


You will notice that I like to rub your back. That’s because I like the various ways your clothes feel. I like when you wear soft velvet like clothing in the winter months. It’s like petting a rabbit when I pat your arm. In the cooler months you wear rayon. It feels smooth like I imagine a snake would feel. That was a compliment.

Stop Matching

The object of getting dressed is not to wear the same color together. It is to get as many colors into your outfit as possible. This can be done with mismatched socks and bright neon prints. If you also want to throw in a Ninja Turtle or a super hero (Hello Kitty counts) you can’t go wrong.


Mommy… What happened?

You Know You’re a Mom When…

Posted 05-8-2015 at 12:19 PM by Matrivine

Mom painting with child

The art of Motherhood seems to be a thankless job (unless, of course, you threaten to make your spouse do it for a week) but there are some moments that define the job. In fact it isn’t likely to happen anywhere else, except in the work place of mom. You just have to laugh and chalk it up to motherhood.

You know you’re a mom when:

– You yell “Don’t put the dog’s tail in your mouth!” in a public place.

– Your toddler is following so closely that when you stop they bounce off your backside and into a wall.

– Part of your laundry system involves disassembling a car seat, washing the cover, and reassembling it again. If you have more than one child you can do each car seat assemble in about five minutes.

– You wake up at 5am without setting an alarm clock.  You also wake up to little eyes and a teddy bear staring at you from the side of the bed.

– Part of your toilet routine is attacking the little fingers that appear under the closed door.

– You still feel anxiety and guilt coupled with exasperation for closing the bathroom door.

Crafts For Small Children: Yarn Ragdolls

Posted 05-7-2015 at 06:16 PM by Ellen

Ragdolls have a long history as children’s toys, although many have not survived the centuries due to being made from common household fibers, which were already worn and degraded to the point of near-disintegration. You can make a friendly little ragdoll for your kiddo using nothing more than a book, scissors and some scrap yarn.

First, grab a book. It can be any size, but the size of the book determines the size of your ragdoll. A bigger book means a larger ragdoll and vice versa. The thickness of the book doesn’t matter, but it should have some heft to it. Hardcover books are best. Remove any dust jackets before using the book for this project – you don’t want to damage it.

yarn doll 1

• Wrap your yarn into a working ball. Most yarn comes in a log-form called a hank or skein. This is helpful for some projects, but for our purposes, we need a good, solid ball.

• Wind the yarn around three of your fingers approximately ten times. Remove the yarn from your fingers and start wrapping the yarn around the center of the loops you just made.

• Keep wrapping in different directions until you form a ball. You don’t need much yarn for this project – 80 yards is more than enough to produce a sizable ragdoll that any child will love and adore.

yard doll 2

• Now that you’ve got your ball of yarn and book, it’s time to start winding the yarn around the book. This forms the body, head, arms and legs of your ragdoll.

yarn doll 3

• Anchor one end of the yarn to the center front of the book using your finger and begin winding the yarn ball around the book vertically. Keep winding until you run out of yarn – the more yarn you use, the thicker and more plush your doll will be.

• Next, insert your scissors under the wraps at one end of the book, where the space between the hardbound covers and pages creates a gap. Cut through all the strands of yarn and leave the yarn folded in half.

yarn doll 4

• Cut six extra strands of yarn, each approximately 5 inches in length. Wrap and tie one about 2 inches down from the folded center of the yarn. This creates the “head” of the yarn rag doll.

yarn doll 5

• “Guesstimate” and separate out two equal chunks of yarn for the arm and two equal chunks of yarn for the legs. Tie and knot each chunk about half an inch from the cut end.

yarn doll 6

• The sixth and final extra strand of yarn goes to separate the legs from the torso. Tie this piece of yarn approximately halfway between the midpoint from the tie that created the head and the ties that hold the legs together.

You now have a very rustic yarn ragdoll that took under than ten minutes and less than $5.00 in materials to make.

• Get fancy and creative – make clothes for the doll by cutting up old socks or wrapping additional colors of yarn around different sections of the doll.
• If your child is old enough for it to be safe, you can even hot-glue googly eyes to the doll to give her a face or tie on brightly-colored strands of yarn to the head for hair.

The sky’s the limit when it comes to creating your yarn ragdoll.

Winter Treasure Hunt

Posted 05-7-2015 at 06:09 PM by Ellen

Getting your kids to play outside in the winter months can be more challenging than in warmer months. In the summer, kids spend hours riding bikes, splashing in the pool, running under the sprinklers and playing baseball, kickball, tag and hide-and-go-seek.

In the winter, once the kids are all bundled up and escorted out the door, once the snowman is built, there have been a couple of snowball battles and the sled-riding is completed, kids want to come back in and warm up.

When that happens, it can be a challenge to get them back out again. Children who do not get enough exercise all year long can become obese – and this could have life-long consequences. According to the Mayo Clinic, obesity in childhood can lead to medical conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Type II Diabetes and other ailments that can have a negative impact on the quality of life of the child when he becomes an adult.

This is why proper diet and exercise are important for children. Controlling their diet in the winter can be handled easily enough, but how can you make sure your kids get enough exercise during the coldest months of the year?

You can create games that allow them to move around while they are outside. One such game called Winter Treasure Hunt requires kids to scour a location searching for buried items such as Christmas decoration, toys or other items.

Things you’ll need:
• Small toys, trinkets such as Christmas decorations, party favors
• Jars or another type of container

Setting up the game:
• Collect the items you plan to use in the game and bury them in the snow in the area where the game is going to be played. You want to make sure that part of the item is still visible so the kids can find it.
• Create a map of where items are hidden and give the kids hints about where the “treasures” are buried (keep a copy to use later to retrieve any items the kids didn’t find).

Put toys or other items that might be damaged by cold or snow in a clear plastic baggie. Kids can still see the item, and the item is safe from the elements.

Playing the game:
• Send the kids outside with the knowledge that there is treasure to be found and give out clues when necessary.

• Watch hilarity ensue as kids run around the location seeking out treasure.

• You can also add hints or clues to where things are buried throughout the location on index cards or signs placed throughout the search area. This can help kids hone their reasoning and logic skills.

• If you have a lot of kids participating, you can create teams and let the kids search for the buried treasure together. This develops teamwork skills.

• Once the kids begin to find treasure, it’s placed in jars or containers. The kid or team with the most items in a jar wins. The prize could be the items in their jar or something else.

This could also be turned into a neighborhood event, with all the kids and families on the block participating. It could be used as a way to gather the community together and enjoy some time outdoors as kids and parents go from house-to-house with their maps and jars looking for treasure.

However the game is arranged, it’s an ideal way to get the kids to spend extra time outside on a winter day once the sled riding is done and the snowman is erected and guarding the front yard.

Winter ABC Game

Posted 05-7-2015 at 06:09 PM by Ellen

Learning the letters of the alphabet is an important skill for young children. Rather than drilling them with flash cards or having them learn their ABCs by rote, make learning the alphabet fun while teaching social skills like learning how to take turns. This ABC game incorporates learning about forest animals and a craft with letter recognition, so it will help keep your child interested. If you keep the activities fun, your child will continue to learn ABCs and other skills with greater enthusiasm.

This ABC game refers to a bear that lives in a cave. To introduce the activity to your children, you may want to start by reading a book about bears and their natural habitat. One example is, “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt,” by Michael Rosen. Your local public library will have other titles available. Read the book a few times so that you and your children are familiar with the story and that bears like to eat fish. (This will be important later on in the ABC game.)

Make a cave craft

Materials Needed:
• Small boxes (about the size of tea boxes)
• Brown construction paper
• Glue
• Plastic bear figure (Gummy bears are an option)

Instead of having the kids cut strips of brown construction paper to cover the boxes to make a bear cave, give them some practice for their fine motor skills by having them tear strips of the paper instead. Once they have enough paper to cover their boxes, they can glue them on.

It’s not necessary for the cave to look wrapped up neatly like a Christmas gift. It’s a cave, after all, and there are no perfect corners in nature. If you have a child who is a perfectionist, reassure him or her that the idea is to cover the box with the strips, but not to make it look “too” neat.

Once the bear cave has been completed, you can use it for the Winter ABC Game.

Winter ABC Game

Materials Needed:
• Blue construction paper
• ABC fish (magnetic letters) – you can also draw letters on paper or cut them out of magazines for the game

This game is for two players. Each child takes a turn being the bear. At everyone’s turn, the bear growls as loud as he or she can and says, “I’m hungry for a J (or any letter that is displayed on the table) fish”. The other player finds it and gives it to the bear, which is then placed in his or her cave.

• Next, the second player has a turn and gets to be the bear. He or she has the chance to growl and ask for a letter that is in the “water”. Players may need encouragement to wait patiently while the other person looks for the letter that has been requested and not to “help” or interrupt.

• This activity can be varied by using numbers instead of letters. Small figures of animals or people could be used to teach vocabulary about wild animals, farm animals or different professions. You can also use colored stones, pompoms or other small items to mix up the game and make it more challenging for your children. Write some simple words on cards to practice sight recognition once your children are old enough to learn to read.

• This ABC game is simple, yet can be used in a number of ways, using most any animal. Young children will likely have a lot of fun being the bear and being able to “roar” when it’s their turn – something normally not encouraged to do at home.

You can even expand the game to talk about what types of animals the bear would and wouldn’t be likely to see when he emerges from his cave in the spring. This simple game can be the foundation for a lot of learning for your children, starting with their ABCs.