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Kid Life

    5 Best Sippy Cups for Your Toddler

    After bottles, it's time to give your babe sippy cups but these babies aren't all made equally. Check out which 5 made the cut and why.

    Just when you thought things were getting easier as your baby was finally ready to get off the boob or bottle, they get more complicated. Every brand has three thousand and one that say they’re the best. While they all might be pretty awesome, as moms who don’t own stock in all these companies, we need the best sippy cups that are the most cost-efficient.

    What To Look For

    No Detachable Flow Control Piece

    I don’t even know if this is the right term but it’s a silicone thing that makes it so all the liquid doesn’t come flowing out making a huge mess on your baby. So these are really functional and do a great job but they can get lost and it’s a tiny piece that has to be cleaned. Moment of truth: None of my sippy cups that have these are being used AND I don’t have any clue as of where those attachments are.

    Easy To Clean

    Have you ever seen those posts about how a mom somehow missed cleaning the underside of a sippy cup and it’s now overgrown with mold and they’re confused. Don’t let this be you. Seriously. Make sure that your sippy cup isn’t complicated with all these flips and such making it more difficult to clean.

    After bottles, it's time to give your babe sippy cups but these babies aren't all made equally. Check out which 5 made the cut and why.

    5 Best Sippy Cups On The Market

    1. NUK Sippy Cups

    These are all pretty awesome honestly. Easy to clean, don’t cost an arm and a leg, and don’t have that valve.

    2. Nuby Super Easy Grip Cup

    3. Munchkin Miracle 360 Cup

    This is one of abc’s all-time favorites.

    4. Munchkin Click Lock Bite Proof Sippy Cup

    5. First Years Take & Toss Spill-Proof Cups

    These are under $3 and I love them. Easy to clean, cheap, and if you lose or mess them up, it’s not a big loss.

    **Pro-Tip: Try to wash out the cups immediately. Once some juice or milk is left in there, it’s super gross!

    You’ll probably notice that I haven’t included anything with straws here. Straws can be a hassle to keep clean and keep track of.

    What’s your favorite sippy cup? Did I miss anything?

    We Survived Kindergarten!!!

    We survived kindergarten! We were both nervous on the first day but mini truly rocked it out! And we celebrated her year in the best way possible!

    I would be lying if I didn’t say that as I picked mini up from school on her last day of school I wasn’t a little teary-eyed. On May 26th, we celebrated a mighty successful year as a kindergartner.

    Mothering A Kindergartner

    Where are the books on this?

    We survived kindergarten! We were both nervous on the first day but mini truly rocked it out! And we celebrated her year in the best way possible!

    mini and her teacher

    I feel like every phase mini hits I’m so unprepared for! It seems like it was just yesterday that I was walking her in for her first day. She sat next to Seth and I was the creeper mom who watched from the hallway as they colored and made awkward conversation. And now she’s heading to first grade. As in grade 1. As in she’s officially in grade school.

    This year has been incredible. Not working in corporate America made it so I was present for class parties, school awards, art shows and more. It was lots of fun but there was so much I didn’t know to expect.

    Parent/Teacher Communication

    Mini’s teacher was pretty awesome. If there were ever any issues, I knew I would get an email and I welcomed that. But there were emails, newsletters, and other random communications sent home. In the beginning of the year I was on it. I kept all of these papers somewhere safe (where that is now, I have no idea). But towards the end? I was struggling man. My suggestion is to set up a station for all this. I ran to Target and grabbed some pretty folders in their $1 section to create a central location for all these papers. There were some that were just “FYI”, things that needed to be returned, and her artwork. Don’t get overwhelmed like I did–organize and then dominate!

    Parent/Teacher Meetings

    Mini’s teacher kept asking me if what she was saying sounded right as I sat there with a blank expression on my face while she reviewed everything. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to say since this was all pretty new to me and based upon everything the teacher was saying, mini was excelling in everything but her behavior. Pro Tip: Be prepared with a question or two about how to continue what they’re learning in school at home to support what the teacher is doing. This makes you look like you know what you’re doing with this parenting thing way better than the blank stare.

    Lunch

    I know, this seems obvious. Either have lunches prepared or buy lunch. What I didn’t anticipate was the effect of school lunches on mini’s body. After having her lunches prepared with love for the past 4-5 years, school lunch had a pretty bad effect on her stomach (I even had a dream I was talking to Michelle Obama about how terrible this was). She dealt with constipation as a result and that’s not fun AT ALL. Preparing lunches daily can seem a pretty daunting task but it’s worth it to know that what you’re putting in their bodies is truly fueling them for their days. Pro Tip: If you pre-package a weeks worth of healthy snacks it makes packing lunch way easier since you’re only worried about the main meal.

    Fighting/Bullying

    Yep. This is the age that you truly have to be aware of what’s going on. On mini’s second week of school there was an incident on the playground. Mini knows how to defend herself so I wasn’t too concerned but some kids just don’t know their boundaries. And now that they’re riding the school bus, they’re with older, meaner kids that will more than likely pick on them–as will their classmates. Pro Tip: Don’t fight their fights for them unless they really need it. Teach them how to handle it and make sure they know you have their back.

    We Made It Through Kindergarten!!!!

    We survived kindergarten! We were both nervous on the first day but mini truly rocked it out! And we celebrated her year in the best way possible!

    Despite mommy’s lack of preparation and the much needed learning curve, we made it. And what better way to celebrate the last day then with a trip to Six Flags!!!! On mini’s last day of school, I picked her up early and we battled through Atlanta traffic to get to the place where a great time was guaranteed. I surprised her by meeting up with our best sisterfriends TiTi and Little A.
    We survived kindergarten! We were both nervous on the first day but mini truly rocked it out! And we celebrated her year in the best way possible!

    World’s First DC SUPER FRIENDS Family Area w/ 5 Attractions Opens at Six Flags

    And we were there to test drive the awesomeness of these rides. We are HUGE DC Comic fans so when I found out this was opening up, I knew that I had to take her. It’s located right next to Tiny Town and is perfect for kids that are big enough to want to have some fun at an amusement park but not tall enough for some of the bigger rides–so it was perfect for mini.
    We survived kindergarten! We were both nervous on the first day but mini truly rocked it out! And we celebrated her year in the best way possible!
    We survived kindergarten! We were both nervous on the first day but mini truly rocked it out! And we celebrated her year in the best way possible!

    The Joker Funhouse Coaster

    This was the first ride we went on (the only one we adults did) and it was super fun! Even as an adult (who may or may not suffer from some mild fear of heights) my stomach did some flopping around. There were lots of screams and fun on this ride! This one was definitely a favorite.
    We survived kindergarten! We were both nervous on the first day but mini truly rocked it out! And we celebrated her year in the best way possible!

    We survived kindergarten! We were both nervous on the first day but mini truly rocked it out! And we celebrated her year in the best way possible!

    We survived kindergarten! We were both nervous on the first day but mini truly rocked it out! And we celebrated her year in the best way possible!

    We survived kindergarten! We were both nervous on the first day but mini truly rocked it out! And we celebrated her year in the best way possible!

    WonderWoman Flight School

    The girls loved this one as well. They hopped into 2 person little jets that they had somewhat control over how they flew.
    We survived kindergarten! We were both nervous on the first day but mini truly rocked it out! And we celebrated her year in the best way possible!

    We survived kindergarten! We were both nervous on the first day but mini truly rocked it out! And we celebrated her year in the best way possible!

    imageWe survived kindergarten! We were both nervous on the first day but mini truly rocked it out! And we celebrated her year in the best way possible!

    SuperMan Tower of Power

    They did this one about 3-4 times because they loved it so much. I think that the drop in your stomach gets addictive!!!
    We survived kindergarten! We were both nervous on the first day but mini truly rocked it out! And we celebrated her year in the best way possible!

    We survived kindergarten! We were both nervous on the first day but mini truly rocked it out! And we celebrated her year in the best way possible!

    The BatCopters

    This one was ok. I think that the girls were a little too big for this or maybe we should have started out with it. After the Tower of Power and the Joker Coaster this one didn’t have that exciting element for them.
    We survived kindergarten! We were both nervous on the first day but mini truly rocked it out! And we celebrated her year in the best way possible!

    We survived kindergarten! We were both nervous on the first day but mini truly rocked it out! And we celebrated her year in the best way possible!

    We survived kindergarten! We were both nervous on the first day but mini truly rocked it out! And we celebrated her year in the best way possible!

    Harley Quinn Games

    Located right next to her boo the Joker, there’s a little game room for all the arcade lovers in us! We sought refuge from the hot sun here!
    We survived kindergarten! We were both nervous on the first day but mini truly rocked it out! And we celebrated her year in the best way possible!

    image

    image

    I still can’t believe that I now have an official FIRST GRADER!!!! Time is flying by with these kids but I’m really happy that we were able to make her last day of kindergarten one to remember with the help of Six Flags Over Georgia.

    STEM Project: Mason Jar Terrariums

    Want a fun way to teach your little about the water cycle? Check out this fun STEM project using Mason Jars to create terrariums.

    One of my favorite subjects growing up was science. Ever since I can remember, things like how eyes work and how to put together a skeleton were really interesting to me. Now that mini is old enough to have appreciation for such things, it’s time to get started with sharing my love of science!

    Now, I don’t have a green thumb BUT both mini and I have an obsession with planting and flowers so I figured building a terrarium would be perfect for combining both of our loves here.

    Want a fun way to teach your little about the water cycle? Check out this fun STEM project using Mason Jars to create terrariums.

    STEM Project: Mason Jar Terrariums

    Items Needed:

    Steps:

    1. Clean out your mason jar and then put in about 1/2 cup of gravel. Want a fun way to teach your little about the water cycle? Check out this fun STEM project using Mason Jars to create terrariums.
    2. Add the 1/4 cup of charcoal.Want a fun way to teach your little about the water cycle? Check out this fun STEM project using Mason Jars to create terrariums.
    3. Add about 2 inches of soil.Want a fun way to teach your little about the water cycle? Check out this fun STEM project using Mason Jars to create terrariums.
    4. Add the moss and ferns.Want a fun way to teach your little about the water cycle? Check out this fun STEM project using Mason Jars to create terrariums.
    5. Water the roots and seal with the lid. Want a fun way to teach your little about the water cycle? Check out this fun STEM project using Mason Jars to create terrariums.

    Teaching About the Water Cycle

    The terrarium is a great project that teaches kids in a hands on way about the water cycle. While creating the terrarium, some great questions to ask your child are:

    • How do you know if something is living or non-living?
    • How are living thing the same/different than non-living things?
    • Do all things that are alive move?
    • What kinds of non-living things move?
    • What are clouds and what are they made of?
    • What is rain?
    • What happens to puddles after it rains?

    The point of these questions is to lead the conversation towards the topics of evaporation, condensation, and precipitation. Keep these things in mind as you guys are building the terrarium.

    So how does the terrarium work? 

    The plants in the terrarium release water vapor into the air (transportation) when there is light and heat present. Because the terrarium is an enclosed environment, when the water leaves the plant (evaporation) and comes in contact with the sides of the glass (or whatever container you’ve chosen), it forms droplets of water on the inside of the glass (condensation). The condensation will then fall back down once enough has gathered (precipitation). The water falls and then gathers in the soil (collection) and then it evaporates and the water cycle continues.

    Cool right? Here’s an awesome image from Charger Water that illustrates this cycle:

    Picture courtesy of http://www.chargerwater.com/water-sources.

    Check out this worksheet to help illustrate the process.

    What’s your favorite way of teaching science to your kids?

    **This post may contain affiliate links.**

    Cloth Diapering Made Easy

    Cloth diapering has come a looooong way and dare I say it's become easy? Even with all the choices, cloth diapering your baby is not only eco-friendly, but it's budget friendly as well! And to show this, Nicki's Diapers is offering a giveaway so be sure to enter today!

    I can still remember my first encounter with a cloth diaper. I was babysitting my friend’s baby when I was in college and he brought over all these pieces of thick cloth and showed me how to fold into a perpendicular triangle that somehow created a diaper around his baby’s little bottom. I’m not sure how we made it through diaper changes but I’m sure there was at least one time that I shed some tears as I tried to wrap her up while she skillfully maneuvered out of it and away from me. At that point, I broke up with the notion of ever cloth diapering my kids. I was scarred and unforgiving.

    Until now.

    So a big part of being “crunchy” is cloth diapering. Given my history of it, I wasn’t so enthusiastic about this aspect but part of growing up is forgiving and thus I’ve ended up where I am now. Ok, so maybe I didn’t forgive but I did get over that prior experience after seeing the huge changes that were made in cloth diapering. Not only were they absolutely adorable, but they were easy to use!!!

    Can't even tell she's wearing a cloth diaper!

    Can’t even tell she’s wearing a cloth diaper!

    Cloth Diaper Essentials

    Wet Bags

    Unlike disposable diapers where you just toss the entire diaper and wipes in the trash, you don’t do that with your cloth diapers. Have a wet bag is super important and makes the cloth diaper cleaning process so much easier. Once you’ve pulled out the wet cloth, toss it in one of these babies to hold until it’s time to wash.

    Cloth Bottoms Dressed 3

    Cloth Wipes

    I didn’t think these were so necessary until I was trying to figure out where to put the wipes that I’d just used on her poopy bottom. With the cloth wipes, you can easily roll them up with the cloth diapers to dump into the wet bag for washing. Assuming you go with this option, snag one of these wipe solutions to keep the wipes ready to use.

    Laundry Care

    I thought that my little tubs from Walmart would work (and we made them work) but special detergent for the poop, having a tub with a splatter shield, and stain remover are all really important.

    Cloth diapering has come a looooong way and dare I say it's become easy? Even with all the choices, cloth diapering your baby is not only eco-friendly, but it's budget friendly as well! And to show this, Nicki's Diapers is offering a giveaway so be sure to enter today!

    Deciding On Your Cloth Diapering System

    I thought this would be harder than it was. Here are the different types of cloth diapers:

    • One Size Diapers – These can be used from birth through potty training.
    • Diaper Covers – Waterproof outer layer that is used with flats, prefolds, or fitteds.
    • All-in-Two Diapers – Waterproof shell with separate inserts. Inserts need to be changed at changing–shell can stay on.
    • Pocket Diapers – Waterproof shell with an opening for inserts or prefolds to be placed inside. Must change cover and insert at each change.
    • All-In-One Diapers – One piece that has a waterproof outer shell with an attached cloth interior. Must change entire diaper at each changing.
    • Prefold Diapers – Rectangular cloth with 3 panels that can be used with a cover.
    • Flat Diapers – Single layer of fabric that is folded into a cover.
    • Fitted Diapers – Entire diaper is cloth and is contoured to fit baby. No folding and entire diaper must be changed out with each changing.
    This is the Hedgehog design. So.Frickin.Cute.

    This is the Hedgehog design. So.Frickin.Cute.

    I went with an All-In-Two diaper system. This was the most convenient to me for a couple reasons. My system has a snap-in system making diaper changing super easy. I also like the way these fit abc. You can’t tell that she’s wearing a cloth diaper because her little bottom isn’t super fluffy. Outside of them being hard to use in the beginning, I hated that clothes didn’t fit because of the size of the cloth diaper! I specifically got the Best Bottom Cloth Diaper System with the Stay Dry Inserts.

    Happy Cloth Bottom

    Popular Questions

    Q: How many do you buy?

    A: That honestly depends on how often you plan on doing laundry and how old your baby is. With abc being 18 months, we go through between 6-8 diaper changes a day. I have 3 shells and 12 inserts. Because with our system we have you don’t have change the shell with every diaper change we do laundry every other day. 

    Q: Was it expensive to get started?

    A: Nope. It took about $85 to get started with this package here. On average, we spend about $40/month on diapers. Now we spend pretty much nothing–though I still send her to daycare with some disposables. 

    Q: The poop… How do you deal?

    A: I’m not going to lie. It was hard at first. But we keep some black tubs ready and waiting to have the poopy ones dumped into. 

    How about a giveway!?!?!?

    Yep! Nicki’s Diapers wants to giveaway a system to get someone started in their cloth diapering journey:

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Use coupon code “crunchymommy” for a 5% discount on all orders through March 2016.

    **I received product to test but all opinions expressed are my own.**

    The Beauty of Behavior Charts

    One of my degrees is in Psychology and I honestly never thought I’d be putting to use the concepts and principles I learned early on in my journey of parenting but those principles regarding behavior modification have definitely come in handy. We didn’t go through the terrible two’s with mini. She was investigative but a good listener. It was fun watching her brain develop as she saw and experienced new things. But once we hit 3, active defiance became our norm. As queen of stubbornness, we bumped heads QUITE often then and I had no clue what to do. Disciplining smart children is especially hard because, well, they’re smart. There has to be a careful balance between guiding them to do the right thing and not putting out their fire.

    I started using those chore charts early on but they weren’t so effective because mini couldn’t read at 3 and because I struggle with consistency. I would forget to mark the chart and go over it with her and she couldn’t read to even know what it was we were working on. At 3, this method of behavior modification was a fail. When she turned 4 she became interested in money so she earned a certain amount of play money for displaying a certain behavior and then once she earned $20, she then gained access to her treasure box where she was able to buy things that were in there. Now at 5, we’ve returned to the charts because she’s an avid reader, does NOT struggle with consistency, and likes the visual that shows where she’s doing well versus not so well.

      
    Behavior Modification Chart for Children

    I believe that mini’s teacher and I are a team when it comes to her development. When she told me that mini was having some issues with following the class rules and that she was going to put her on a behavior chart, I knew that it was time to create our chart. I have a thousand and one pre-printed charts but there are just tooooooo many behaviors that they’re focusing on there. In my research and experience, it’s best to work on 1-2 behaviors with a child. You don’t want to set them up for failure and focusing on 2 at a time until they have made that behavior a strength is the best way to go for all parties involved. As parents, we want ALL the behaviors corrected at once but it’s not feasible for the kids–or adults for that matter.

     

    mini’s chart with reward to earn

     
    The best way to choose the focused behaviors is to list out all of the issues you’re currently having with your child. Often times these are just symptoms of a root problem(s). For us, it’s first time listening and not talking back–mini’s mouth will get her into trouble more often than not. Her behavior chart also reinforces what her teacher is working with her on. Mini knows that her teacher and I are on one accord and that’s best for the kids.

    We’ve gone with the red, yellow, green smiley face method that has point values associated with them. Every Sunday, we discuss what it is that she’d like to earn by the end of the week. Once she’s decided and we’ve agreed upon it, I share with her the minimum points she has to earn at home and at school in order to earn it. Because I want her to be successful, I’ve made the minimums on the lower side. I want her to earn her reward so that she can see how good it feels to earn her reward.

    And For Adults Too

    Hypocrisy is one of the things that drives me crazy. I’ve always wanted to be the mom that says “do as I do, not just as I say”. I also believe in being pretty transparent with my kids. Mini is so smart and sees so much that I don’t want to hide things for her so that she sees the value in being open. I’m not perfect and there are some things that I need to work on in order to the best version of myself as well. I need to do a better job making time for myself and caring for myself. I want to be a better mother–more patient and less stressed–and I think this is rooted in how I take care (or haven’t been taking care) of myself.

     

    because hypocrisy is NOT the name of the game

     
    Just like once mini achieves her goals, once I do I get a reward as well. This weeks reward will be a much needed evening at JeJu to enjoy silence and relaxation. Unlike mini, my system is more cut and dry–either I completed it or I didn’t. I don’t get any points for trying because as an adult, I believe that I either make it happen or I don’t.

    The Benefits

    All people are visual. For those that struggle with consistency, having a visual aide makes it hard to forget to check-in with whomever it is that needs to be checked in. Location is also really important for these charts. Mini’s is located right outside her door–once she opens her door she sees it. Mine is located next to my bed for me to see every morning and every evening. With the constant reminder of what we’re supposed to be doing as well as seeing what is we’re working towards, it keeps the behaviors that we’re working constantly in the forefront of our minds.

    How do you handle disciplining in your house?