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problem solving

Growing Up

Simple Effective Baby Sign Language

Super simple Baby sign language. Communicate with baby with these 5 signs that are life-changing!
This entry is part 30 of 33 in the series Baby Days

We joke around that babies are SO sweet…until they start to say, “NO!”  But there is a short period of time in baby’s life when she simply doesn’t have words (not even, “No”).  The inability of our little ones to fully communicate what is going on in their heads can lead to various outbursts that look like tantrums or frustration.  But it IS the earliest form of communication for them – we just can’t quite understand them.

Figuring out a way to communicate effectively with baby at this crucial early time in her life is life-changing!  If you are like me as a mom, you cherish the littlest moments with your sweet child; savoring each “Goo” and “Gah.”  But, you often struggle when it comes to the not-so sweet moments.  The grunts and the growls, the screams and screeches are likely the last thing you were looking forward to while gently caressing your pregnant tummy and dreaming of mommy-hood.

That is why I am so thankful for baby sign language.

I am not a child development expert and I have no credentials other than being a mom of four.  But I highly recommend learning some very basic baby signs and teaching them to your little ones, starting at a very early age.  We have practiced simple baby sign language with all four of our little ones with great success.   Continue Reading

Devotion, Growing Up

A Spirit-filled Solution to Bed-time Woes

We have been blessed with babies who sleep very well through the night.  We are a Babywise (affiliate link) family and it has worked for us, big time.  Our girls have slept through teething, allergies, and even sick nights.  They are able to put themselves to sleep and we have really never had a problem at bedtime.

And then…

Our oldest needed to make the transition to her big girl bed and all bets were off!  We walked through what felt like endless nights of putting her back in bed at 1 o’clock, 2 o’clock, 3 o’clock only to have her up and ready for the day at 5 o’clock.  The worst part was the crankiness during the day.  Because she was not getting as much sleep as she needs, we were having some serious discipline issues during the day. Continue Reading

Growing Up

5 Tips for Making Baby Signs Work for YOU!

This entry is part 13 of 33 in the series Baby Days

Communication with babies can often be difficult.  They can’t tell you with specificity what is bothering them.  So as parents, we come up with a working knowledge of each cry and scream, decoding the various tones and volumes and hypothesizing about what their needs are.  The earlier we can communicate with them and have them communicate back, the better.  That is why I am so thankful for baby sign language.

I am not an expert with sign language.  But I have used it successfully with our FOUR babies at early stages.   I wrote Simple Effective Baby Sign Language where I shared the most basic and most necessary baby signs.  If you are just starting out with baby sign language, I would start there with the most basic baby signs.

But I wanted to go a step further to help moms (and dads) by giving you Five Tips for Making Baby Signs Work for YOU!  Continue Reading

Growing Up

A Toddler Tantrum Solution

Recently, we went to bed the parents of two girls under 2 and woke up the parents of a sweet 8 month old and a toddler with a bit of an attitude problem – ha!  No really, our oldest is not crazy on the terrible twos, but we did notice an attitude adjustment was in order.

We suddenly heard, “No!” and, “I don’t like it!” a lot more than we had just a few days earlier.  And we had some interesting conversations when we heard these things.

But it was a few days into this new, “I don’t like it!” phase that my husband brought my formerly amenable and agreeable toddler in to wake me up after an afternoon nap with a tantrum…on my bed!  Yes…on MY bed.  As I sleepily tried to come up with a way to stop the madness, an idea struck me and I lunged at it.  And it worked!  And it has continued to work – even though we kind of are getting past the, “I don’t like it!” (to everything) stage.

“What is it?”

I remembered what my child does like and tried to remind her of them with a game she likes.

We played hide and seek with her “likes.” 

I jumped up off the bed.  Looked at her (screaming, crying, beautiful mess that she was at that moment) and I asked her, “Where did your likes go?”  Then I set out looking for them out loud.  I walked into the bathroom and looked high and low for her likes.  “Are they in here…no, I don’t see them.”

I walked into the closet and searched out those elusive likes.

I came back to find my toddler a little bit quieter and asked her, “Where are your likes?”  I told her they were not in the bathroom or the closet.  Then I asked her if they were in her room.  She got up, stopped crying, started walking into her room.

Suddenly she had a new thing to do! 

We walked all around the house, upstairs, downstairs looking for those likes.

And we found them, hiding downstairs!  Once we got downstairs I asked her if she liked her favorite toys.


I asked her if she liked Mama (a previous target of, “I don’t like it!”),


I asked her if she liked Dada (another victim).


And then we celebrated.  “Yea!  We found G’s likes!  We found her likes!  Yea!  She likes [her toys], she likes Mama, she likes, Dada!  Yea!”

That is more like it!

And the tantrum was over!  Forgotten!  Success!

Do you have any creative parenting ideas?  Solutions to the problems we face with toddlers?  I would love to hear them!  Please share!

Pennies from Heaven

ABCs of Saving: Jump on a Steal

This entry is part 11 of 16 in the series ABCs of Saving

You may have been reading along in this series and have noticed I talk a lot about patience when it comes to spending money.  We have talked about holding off and having a plan, about accepting the limits of your budget, about counting the cost before you make your purchases.  Thus, today’s post may seem a bit out-of-place; but hear me out.

There is a specific point in time and a specific price where a purchase just makes sense. That’s why you should jump on a steal when you see it. But preparation is the key to making sure you don’t bust your budget, even on a really great deal!  Here are some tips for planning those impulse shops.

Make a wish list.  Every once in a while, walk through your house and make a list of the items you would like to have if your budget allowed.  Think of the projects you would like to complete, the accents you would like to add, the items wearing out you would like to replace.  Jot these down in a home notebook and tuck the list away somewhere handy.  When you are shopping and you see something that catches your eye at a great price, if it is on the list, jump on it!  The trick is to buy only things that you wanted anyway.  Otherwise, we can find ourselves filling our homes with items that were a great deal, but don’t really fulfill a need or a desire. Having a wish list ahead of time can help clear your head when the thrill of a deal is compelling you to buy.  If it is not on the list, it may not really be a good purchase for your home.

Know what you are shopping for.  Good research goes a long way to saving you money in your home.  Knowing key shopping times, store margins, and price cycles will help you identify when a deal is a steal.  Are you shopping for a new electronic device? You might ask yourself some questions to determine the best time to buy: Would last year’s model do almost all the same things as this year’s model?  How long would I have to wait for this year’s model to be at the same price as last year’s model?  What incentives can I get for shopping elsewhere?  Do I really need all the features of this model?  The higher price the item, the longer your research process should last.

Have a bottom line price.  This is the highest amount you are willing to pay for an item.  What are new curtains worth to you?  How much is too much for a new mattress? Setting a limit beforehand of what you are willing to spend helps you keep your finances in check when the excitement of a deal strikes.  Make sure this limit is reasonable (you aren’t going to get a brand new car for $200) and firm.  It can be very tempting to purchase something that is al-most at your target price, but really you should stick to your bottom line price and walk away from paying anything over it.

Set aside a little extra here and there. Even if you only set aside a little bit each week (say $5-10), you will have a little stash of cash for when the price is too good to resist.  I save all the $5 bills that come into my hands.  I do this with our regular cash system as well as my pocket-money.  Sometimes it can be difficult to stash away those fives, but we have been able to make large purchases with our little stashes (a French door refrigerator and a car) and I purchased a laptop recently with the money I had been tucking away.  If you have a goal of purchasing an item that seems a bit out of reach even at a steal, tucking away small amounts of money when you can will rein it in.  When you see that steal of a price, you will be able to tuck into a store of cash (and add it to money you have on hand, if necessary) to jump on it!

Have a little wiggle room in your grocery budget or your household expenses budget for the great clearance finds or unadvertised specials you see when you are in the marketplace.  Leaving a little margin in your budget will allow you to jump on the steals you see while you are out doing your regular shopping.  When you see tomatoes or toothpaste at a rock-bottom price, you can stock up without guilt because you have a little bit of room in your budget.  Just don’t go too far, only use up the wiggle room and only buy what you will actually use.

How do you react to a great deal at the store?  Do you hold off or do you jump?

Growing Up

Coloring with Toddlers: 2 Simple Tips

We have a little one a little under the weather.  I think it is allergies, but when she feels bad, she is much less active than normal.  It gives us an opportunity to color.  This is usually a very short-lived activity, lengthened dramatically by stuffy noses and sneezes.  But the problem with coloring with our toddler (and I know we are not alone in this) is the mess that can be created.  Crayons all over the floor, on the table, everywhere.  In fact a few have been broken by being stepped on (not a good thing for the crayon or the stepper!).

So, we were working on coloring when I came up with an idea to keep crayons and paper on the table.  By the magic of contact paper and tape, coloring can be (somewhat) cleaner.   It takes only a moment to set up a coloring station for your toddler to help them keep everything in place and stabilize the “target.” Continue Reading