Mom Life

70 posts

Toddler Activities Featuring Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is one of my favorite stories. I first discovered it when I was doing my student teaching internship, and fell in love! There are so many activities to do with this book and can be modified to encourage learning at any age. I’ve been using this book for the last couple of months, and today I wanted to share some of the fun activities we have been doing.

About Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

The book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom was written by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault, and is a number one best seller on Amazon.com This simple story helps children identify all 26 letters of the alphabet in a fun and rhythmic way. The beginning starts with a challenge from the Letter A to the Letter B, claiming that they will beat them to the top of the coconut tree, as you can imagine, the dare trickles down the alphabet and to find out what happens, you’ll have to read the story.

Here are a couple of my favorite ways to use this story to encourage higher learning with my toddlers and preschooler.

Music: Chicka-Chicka Boom Boom

Did you know this book has also been translated into a song? This adorable song has helped my 2 and 1-year-old learn their alphabet. It is absolutely adorable to hear the voice of my sweet little 1 year old try to sing her alphabet to the tune of the song.

You can find the song by searching Chicka Chicka Boom Boom on Youtube or purchase it from Amazon Music*.

 

Art: Draw the Coconut Tree

An activity for all ages is to actually draw the coconut tree. I purchased some large drawing paper and crayons from my local Dollar Tree.

Reading: Letter Recognition

Since the entire story is about the alphabet, this story is great for helping children identify their letters. To help me understand exactly what my girls are understanding and how much they know about the letters, I developed a quick little Letter Quiz.

The front cover of our book as the enter alphabet, both upper and lower case letters. Before reading the story to my girls we would open the book and I’d point to a letter and quiz the girls on them. This is especially important because it’s easy to memorize the letters and what comes next, but are they really understanding the shapes of the letters? When you quiz them in this fun and casual environment, you can really see what they are understanding!

Reading: Book Knowlege

Perhaps it is the teacher in me or the fact that my husband is a librarian – who knows. But, we always take our time to go over the parts of the book with our girls before reading. This simple task will increase your child’s vocabulary, and assist in school readiness.

Build Vocabulary with your Children

Math: Counting

Confession time, Math is not my strongest skill. I’m actually a little terrified for when my kids start school because I’m pretty sure their math homework is going to intimidate me a bit. Even though I am terrible at Math, I try very hard to incorporate math into daily routines, even with simple things like reading a story.

Ways to encourage Math with Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

  • How many pages?
  • Count the Letters of the Alphabet.
  • Can you count the letters on the coconut tree?

As you can see, this book can be used in so many ways to encourage learning with your toddler and preschooler.

The question of the Day: What is your favorite children’s book? 

 

Storybook Erin is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

 

 

Why every Toddler Needs Kinetic Sand!

I was first introduced to Kinetic Sand while studying for my undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Education. I remember a professor talking about how she’d used in a classroom with students to have them practice their letters in a way that children who are more tactile or hands-on learners – now that I have three toddlers of my own, I have a new appreciation for just how incredible this product is and why I think every mom needs to have some of this stuff in their closet of toddler friendly activities!

Before I get into my favorite benefits of Kinetic Sand, let me answer the question you are all asking.

What is Kinetic Sand?

Kinetic Sand is a product that can be molded without easily losing its shape. It has the texture of wet sand but is not messy and is non-toxic.  Since it is non-toxic it is great for children, but adult supervision is strongly recommended.

What’s so AMAZING about Kinetic Sand? 

Relaxing Texture 

Imagine you are playing with a sand-filled stress ball. This same sense of calm you receive while playing with the stress ball applies when playing with kinetic sand. This semi-mess-free activity will give your toddlers hours of quiet playtime. Just be sure to supervise your children while playing in the sand, because it definitely can get messy if you are not actively playing with your children.

Imaginative Play

Due to its moldability, Kinetic Sand is the perfect product for multiple role-playing experiences.

Does your child love trucks? Create a big sand pit for him or her to drive the trucks through.

Does your child love water? Check out this floating kinetic sand, it’s perfect for the water-loving toddler in your life.

Learning Letters? Practice writing your name in the sand.

Truly the possibilities are endless!

Fine Motor Skill Development

One of the things I love about Kinetic Sand is that your children will be learning and also strengthen skills without even knowing it. As your children mold and shape the sand they will be developing hand strength. You can also have your children create shapes, or practice scooping and pouring the sand, all these activities help them develop!

What are you waiting for? Go get some Kinetic Sand!

 

FAT-SHAMED at Davids Bridal!

Fat-Shamed

I have the great honor of standing up next to my future sister in law as she and my brother in law exchange their wedding vows this Spring. I didn’t imagine the struggle finding the perfect bridesmaid dress would be nor did I anticipate being fat-shamed at one of the most known bridal shops around.
 
David’s Bridal, this is for you…
on behalf of every other curvy girl who has to deal with your store and employees.
 

An Open Letter, My Story

Dear Davids Bridal,

Have you ever tried to make an appointment on your own site? 5 redundant steps with the last one being a second confirmation of the appointment?  I arrived at my local Davids Bridal and was greeted by two girls who seemed quite annoyed at my existence. When they couldn’t find my appointment, I was told I’d have to wait – the two girls then proceeded to talk about their personal plans and lives while still trying to gather information from me – After a few moments one girl says to me…
“do you have the brides phone number of not?!” 
I responded with
 “I was waiting for your personal conversation to end so I could give it to you” 

After a few minutes, I was greeted by a third (annoyed) employee. Every other word out of her mouth was how she wasn’t working the next day, and she’d had a rough day. She brought me the dresses I’d requested and then disappeared. Thankfully, I had my husband there to help me try everything on so I could make a decision and leave. The appointment was quite tense and the employee made no effort to assist in helping me find a dress.

Every time she came to me, her words were negative
“your back doesn’t look good in that dress”
 
 “are you sure you like that?”
 

 it just didn’t end, and I was feeling overwhelmed with her negativity.

To make the situation worse, I wasn’t able to get into one of the dresses that was the exact same size and material as all the previous dresses (that had been loose), so I asked her to verify that the dress was labeled correctly. 

Her response was quite sharp, and she says
“Yes, that’s the size. I didn’t bring you the wrong one”. 
 
 her sharp response frustrated me because she just wasn’t listening.
So when she brought a larger size of the dress, I showed her how the one she originally brought me was 4+ inches smaller than the other dresses of the same material, and it HAD to be mismarked.
 
That’s when she said it… words that hurt me so deeply and have rung in my ears for over a week. Words that put me in tears for hours, words that no one should ever have to hear. 
“You don’t know how big you are” 
I took a deep breath and responded with,
“WE ARE DONE TALKING!” 
Once in the dress that was now about 3 sizes too large, I asked her why the size she originally bought was $129.00 and the one I was wearing was 189.00.
She grabbed the tag from the dress I’d questioned and says…
“Oh, this is a Junior Bridesmaids dress. 
That’s why it’s cheaper”
(EXCUSE ME????)
She THEN proceeded to tell me that someone ELSE must have put it in the wrong place.
She Never took responsibility for bringing me the wrong dress
and she never apologized for her words.
I got dressed, grabbed my husband and left in tears.
Davids Bridal, you are the worst of the worst.
I hope I never have to set foot in your store again.
– – –
 PIN FOR LATER 

Family Goals for 2018

Happy New Year!

Back in October, I started thinking about all the things I wanted to accomplish in 2018, I started making an amazing worksheet and had big plans. Sadly, the worksheet never came together and I decided I’d just think about all the things that will happen because let’s face it – who has time for goals? Let’s LIVE in the MOMENT for  2018!

Our Family 

New Years 2018 Camping Trip

In 2018 our family will give each other countless hugs, explore new parks, try new foods, have a meltdown or two, take a really BIG trip to Walt Disney World and go to sleep every night knowing how loved we are.

Chris and Erin 
Everglades National Park 

In 2018 we will celebrate 10 years of marriage, we will stay up way too late soaking in the silence once all three girls finally go to sleep for the night. We will dream big, make mistakes, kiss each other goodnight, and thank God every day for the gifts of our sweet girls. 
Little Lady
Little Lady will continue to grow, and experience new things. She will find her way as she transitions from being home with mom and sisters to a big PRESCHOOLER. She will make me cry when she puts on her backpack for her first day of school, and she will probably continue to ask for far too many glasses of Chocolate Milk per day. 
Love Bug 
In 2018, the love bug will continue to be the most passionate of my three girls. She will test me as we practice using the toilet, and probably cause me to lose a little bit of my hair. She will continue to make me laugh so hard I snort with her sense of humor, and continue to blaze a new trail in fashion. 
Lady Bug 
In 2018 this sweet girl will continue to flourish and find her voice as the third of three sisters. She will keep us on the edge of our seat, and probably give me a few grey hairs with her fearless style of living. She will transition from a crib to a big girl bed, and from a bottle to a sippy cup. She will begin to have meaningful conversations with us and be a constant reminder to me of how God can work in a life.  God has used her mightily in my life, and I am forever thankful for my littlest love. 
What will happen in your life for 2018? 

Christmas with Toddlers, How we are doing things a little differently this year.

Christmas is such a loved season, by so many people – myself included. I love it so much, I had a Christmas themed wedding and got married on the Saturday before Christmas 9 years ago.

Now that we have children, it’s a whole new level of excitement.  Everything from the candy canes, Christmas Stories, Meeting Santa, and Decorating Gingerbread houses is exciting for them, and because of their excitement, I am also more excited for Christmas this year!

But even more than the fun of the season, I wanted my girls to see Jesus in the season. I wanted them to know the reason why we celebrate Christmas, and I wanted them to love Jesus. 

So, how do I foster of love for Jesus in an over-commercialized holiday? We talk about him, and the reason every, single, day. We read about the nativity story, act out the Christmas Story, and play with the nativity scene.  We also decided that this year, my husband and I would not purchase gifts for our two older girls (3 and 2). Instead, we have decided to let the girls pick our gifts for each other. 
It’s been such a treat to listen to them talk about it, and honestly, there is nothing I could buy that would excite these sweet girls as much as the much-anticipated trip to Target.  
Additionally, we have been counting down to Christmas using an approach inspired by Esther over at Story of this Life, She wraps a gift for her girls each day in December and has them open it and they read the scripture verse together. Our family started on Tuesday, December 12th, by reading the passage and playing with the piece of the nativity scene. So far the girls are really into it, and I am so thankful that Story of This Life made a printable so I could easily do this with my family and so can you! – Get yours on their Blog! 

SOURCE: STORY OF THIS LIFE
  

Raising Kind Girls in a “Mean Girls” World

When I was pregnant with my second daughter, and quickly approaching the season of life known as “2 under 2” I was given plenty of “advice”. I was told things like…

“all they will do is fight, from birth to adulthood”
and 

“it’s really too bad you aren’t having a boy, 

girls are too competitive with each other” 

Um… Thank you?? 
I’d often be in tears while talking with my husband about the things people would say to me and then, I gave up listening to the “advice” of the people who seemed feel as though the relationship of my two children would be strained from birth.  
Why am I going to let other people’s opinions shape my expectations of how my two children would treat each other?

Didn’t God give these girls to MY husband and I to raise? 
So, when our Zuzu-bug was born I made a conscious effort to guide their friendship, and help them to learn from a young age to work things out together and no matter what, to always love and support one another!

Do I have two perfect daughters who never fight or disagree? 
No, I don’t. 
Do I have two girls who love each other fiercely? 
Yes. 

So how did I encourage kindness with my girls? 
1. Model.

Our children are like sponges. Literally, EVERYthing we do, they see. For example, my husband has a cough and is in the practice of coughing into his elbow. What did our 1-year-old start doing when she developed a cough?
Yep. She’s coughing into her elbow like a little grown up. 
If we want our children to be kind and respectful, we need to check ourselves and be sure WE are being kind and respectful to our spouse, our children, and those we come into contact with. 
2. Define it. 
Children look to adults to learn the meaning of words, it’s so important that we help them understand the meaning. If I want my children to “show kindness” I better be willing to give them concrete examples in their daily life. 
For instance, we can say things like thank you for helping your sister clean up the toys, that was very kind of you. 
Any time you catch your child doing something nice or kind for someone else, TELL them!  

Let praise and compliments fall off your tongue and

 watch their confidence grow! 

There is always a Reason to BE KIND. 


Let’s get real for a moment, shall we? 
Do my children constantly show kindness? No, again. They are young toddlers. However, there are moments when they surprise you. Like the time at Disney when my oldest who was two at the time ran ahead as she saw two employees emptying a garbage can. She stopped, sang the cleanup song (from Barney) and said “thank you for cleaning” The smile on the cast-members face melted my heart and in that moment I knew we were on the right track! 


How can you show kindness to someone today? 


Gift Ideas for the BIG SISTER or BIG BROTHER to be!

Being a Big Sister (or Brother) is a pretty exciting new chapter in a person’s life. I remember when we welcomed my little sister into the world, it was a big deal. Of course, I was 5 years old so I have more memories of the time than I think my 2 and 1 year old will have, but nevertheless, I think it’s important to honor them as their place in the family shifts.

Since I was induced for all of my pregnancies, I made sure to pack lots of items to keep the big sisters occupied while they waited for their baby sister to arrive!

Coloring Books! 

I packed the girls gifts in a small backpack, I used one found at the Target Dollar Spot, but something like this would probably be better quality. 
Inside the backpack we had the following:
  • New Pajama’s 
  • Books
  • A new outfit
  • Bubbles
  • Coloring Books and Crayons!
  • Big Sister Button 

My girls were so excited to receive their gifts and absolutely adore their baby sister!

Question of the day: What would you include in a gift bag for a big sister or brother?

Quick, Easy, Frugal Friendly Sugar Scrub Recipe

Frugal Friendly Sugar Scrub

Disney Springs: Must Do

One of my favorite places to go to in Disney Springs is Basin.  Today I am going to share with you how I make my DIY scrub with just a few ingredients.  Visiting Basin is such a fun experience. I just love all the unique fragrances, hydrating scrubs, and Magical soaps!  One of my favorite products is the body scrub. I love the way it makes my skin feel. Since adding a couple of princesses to our family, we don’t get to shop in Disney Springs or visit Basin very often anymore. When I realized that I could make my own at home with only a few ingredients, I was thrilled.

Basin sells a jar of their body scrub for around $35.00, but you can make your own with just three ingredients that you might already have in your home!

Uses for the Sugar Scrub

I recently used to create party favors for my sister in law’s baby shower. This recipe was so easy that my three-year-old was able to mix the scrub and help assemble the jars for gifting. This scrub is great for gifts, or to use personally in your home.

DIY Body Scrub

Some of my favorite essential oil scents to try. 

  • Lavender
  • Lavender and Lemon
  • Peppermint
  • Peppermint and Lavender
  • DoTerra Serenity

Why Fractionated Coconut Oil?

Fractionated coconut oil has been processed to remove the coconut scent, and also will not harden in cooler temperatures.

 


Can I use regular olive oil or coconut oil for the scrub? 

Yes. You can certainly use olive oil or the coconut oil for the scrub, I have. However, please be aware that the scent of the oil can be overpowering.

Where I buy DoTerra Essential Oils

I purchase my DoTerra essential oils directly from my mom who is a DoTerra Wellness Advocate. She has used EO’s for many years and has a lot of information on improving health and well-being through the use of EO’s. I’d encourage you to connect with her to purchase some oils of your own.


Purchase Oils Here! 

Instructions

  1. In a mixing bowl add a 50/50 mix of sugar and coconut oil.
  2. Add 10-15 drops of essential oils
  3. Stir until you have created the consistency you prefer
    1. If the mix is too wet, add Sugar
    2. In the mix is too dry, add oil
  4. Store in a glass container and enjoy!

SHARE ON PINTEREST

 

Disney Tip: 

Basin can be found in two places on the Disney World Property.
1. In Disney Springs
2. The Grand Floridian Resort
I love to go to the one inside the Grand Floridian as it is a much smaller store, and never as crowded as the one in Disney Springs. You’ll also get a chance to check out the beautiful Disney resort! *Pay attention to the floor in the Grand Floridian Lobby, you might spot some Disney Pals in the tile designs.

Feed FIVE people a Thanksgiving Inspired Meal for 15 Bucks!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here in the Jimenez Family, we believe that Thanksgiving deserves plenty of attention and recognition. We do not feel it appropriate to put our Christmas tree or decorations out until after Thanksgiving!

Does anyone else feel this way? – Just us? 


This year is a magical season of life for us. Our girls, ages 3,2 and 1, have simply fallen in love with holidays and love to celebrate them. I mean, it took at least a week for our three-year-old to understand that we couldn’t just go trick-or-treating every day.  Since our girls are really into the holidays, we wanted to make them last and create many positive experiences for them. So I got the idea of hosting a Thanksgiving meal, just our family!

Traditionally we spend Thanksgiving Day in Miami with my husbands family, and then Friday – Sunday in Orlando with my family (2015 Thanksgiving Vlog). We have a wonderful time, but this year, as I said, I wanted to extend the Thanksgiving Celebration and being a family of five on a single income, I knew I had to do it for as inexpensively as possible!

So, when I found a great deal on Chicken at the grocery store, I knew it could be a reality! Here is how I put together a beautiful Thanksgiving inspired meal for my family for under 15.00!

I purchased the chicken at my local *Winn-Dixie, but all other supplies were purchased at Aldi. I’m a new convert to the Aldi obsession and plan to do a full blog post about shopping at Aldi and what I love to buy, so stay tuned!

Menu (with Aldi Pricing)

  • Sweet Potatoes (.89 3lb bag)
  • Marshmallows (.89 1lb bag)
  • Frozen Corn (.99)
  • Frozen Green Beans (.99)
  • Carrots (.69)
  • Stuffing (.89 a box)
  • Apples (3.99)
  • *Boneless Chicken (4.71 4lbs)
TOTAL: 13.15

Putting it all together! 
In general, we keep our meals pretty simple, so adding a few extra side dishes to our dinner was no problem. 
Vegetables
  • Steamed with a little salt, pepper, and butter
Sweet Potatoes
  • I used my slow-cooker technique to make the sweetest, sweet potatoes ever
  • Topped with Marshmallows and melted for a bit in the oven after the chicken was resting. 
Chicken
  • Baked until done with seasonings I had on hand (salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic) 
Stuffing
  • I purchased it but didn’t make it. When I do make it, I like to add apples, onions, and some celery for flavor and crunch. 
Dessert
  • Apple Crisp! 
My husband looked up a recipe, I halfway listened, and improvised on the recipe to create something new, the end result was delicious so I thought I’d share! 
Instructions:
In a bowl mix:
  • 5 Peeled Apples (3 granny smith, 2 Fugi)
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Cinnamon
  • 1 tbs sugar 
Once combined, add to a square baking dish
In a separate bowl, mix:
  • 1 stick of butter 
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup oats 
  • a splash of vanilla
  • cinnamon 
Once it has reached a chunky consistency, add it to the top of the apples and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. 
Serve with Coffee and enjoy!

Over dinner, we read some books from the local library and spoke about gratitude. It was a fun little evening for our family, and I think one we will add to our family traditions! 
I hope this post inspired you to create beautiful memories with your family!  If you decide to take on the challenge of serving a Thanksgiving-inspired meal for under 15.00  I’d love to see photos and hear stories so be sure to reach out on Instagram or leave some comments below! 
Happy Thanksgiving!

PIN ME!
_ _ _

*This post contains affiliate links.

My Breastfeeding Story + Tips for meeting your Breastfeeding Goal

This post has been whirling around in my mind for quite a while, in fact, I wanted to write this post about two years ago when I weaned my first daughter. However, after a complete FAIL at breastfeeding my second daughter, I just felt inadequate.

So, before I get to my tips I thought I’d briefly share my journey with you. When I was pregnant with my firstborn, I was determined to breastfeed for a year. It was going to be so easy – I mean, everyone I knew that breastfed their children made it look so easy, and I took a class so obviously, I’d be a professional right after delivery… right?

I wish I could tell you that it was easy, I really do but the reality is, that it isn’t. My firstborn had severe reflux, and so most of what she ate was projectile vomited back up (super gross, I know!).  As a result, my daughter was breastfed about 50 percent of the time and then 50 percent bottle fed.

She was fulled weaned by 10 months.

My breastfeeding journey with baby number 2 was very brief. We were in the middle of a major life change, and as hard as I tried to breastfeed, I just couldn’t. My milk never came in, and I was so stressed out with our recent move across the state, that I made the decision to bottle feed and it was literally the best decision ever! 
Yes, I said it. The BEST decision ever, one I do not regret for a moment. 
Bottle feeding gave me such a sense of freedom, I was able to allow my husband to help out with the feedings, and get some sleep or go for a run a few times a week.  
In August of 2016, I was fully intending to bottle feed baby number 3. When my second born weaned at 6 weeks old, I was devastated – I spent months feeling like a complete failure. So, as we were approaching the arrival of our third baby I knew I didn’t want to go through that emotional rollercoaster ever again – so I was going to bottle-feed. 
Funny thing about my plans, they almost NEVER work out. So, when we arrived home from the hospital with our darling little girl in September of 2016, I also arrived home with a clogged-duct. Knowing that I could get develop mastitis, I got to work pumping, and feeding. It took about a week, but everything cleared up and as a result, I had established a pretty solid milk supply and my little one had figured out how to latch! 
After 13 months of mostly exclusively breastfeeding, my girl has weaned me and I can honestly say, I am so thankful for the experience. Breastfeeding wasn’t easy, but we made it 13 months, a full 13 months longer than I thought and as she becomes more and more independent I can’t help but reflect on the times I got to hold her close and provide everything she needed. 
 Now that I’ve shared my story from feeling like a failure to breastfeeding a toddler I thought id share a few things that helped me overcome my breastfeeding anxiety and grow to love the experience. 
  1. Find a Tribe
    • Supportive Family Members 
    • Supportive Friends
    • Online Groups
  2. Be Confident in Public
    • Have a good cover, and know how to use it
    • Learn to feed and walk
      • I mastered feeding and walking in two different baby carriers – LIFE CHANGING!
    • Know the law for your state, here in Florida a woman has the right to breastfeed her baby anywhere she is allowed to be (More information here).
  3. Stay Hydrated 
    • Keep a bottle of water near you at all times
      • I prefer one with a straw, it’s much easier to drink out of when your hands are full. 
  4. Eat a Well-Balanced Diet
    • When you are establishing your milk supply, you don’t want to be cutting calories. In my experience, if I didn’t eat plenty of nourishing fruits and vegetables my supply would start to go away. 
  5. Master the Latch and Positions
    • A bad latch can cause serious pain, make sure the latch is deep and comfortable. 
    • I watched several youtube videos from La Leche League to help me understand how to find a comfortable latch 
    • I also spent some time mastering different feeding positions until I found ones that worked for both of us
      • In the evening I would do side-laying position because it was the easiest to get my daughter back to sleep and transferred into her crib. 
What is your breastfeeding goal, how can I help support you in your journey – Let’s connect! 
Pin for later