Will & i

Father’s Day Gift Guide

1) Bag O’ Books by DaddyScrubs– this cute bag includes 6 books for dad and child to read together, plus a guide to being a new parent. 2) Coffee Mug, $12.99 – I know it’s a little cheesy, but ever since Will was born, Billy has been asking me for a “Dad” coffee mug. 3) Me and You Picture Frame, $45.00 – How adorable would a father/son or daughter picture look in this reclaimed, royal blue, wooden frame from shoponelove? 4) I Love My Daddy Onesie, $13.50 – Choose from a variety of cute onesies from Baby Onesies by Nany. 5) Your Red Shoes by John Hutton & Illustrated by Leah Busch (my cousin!) $17.99 – a beautiful picture book about the special moments shared between a father and child, especially a daughter. 6) Daddy’s Lil Dude T-shirt by Trendy Treehouse, $20 – We picked up one of these t-shirts from a kid’s boutique in Chicago, but you can buy them online. For the girls, they have “Daddy’s Lil Cutie”.

What are your gift ideas for Father’s Day?

Sign Language

daddy sign

I’ve been casually using a few signs here and there, but I think it’s time to step it up a notch. My increased interest in sign language is due to a new development that sounds something like this, “eh, eh, eh, eh”. I believe these sounds translate to “I want, I want, give me, give me”. At 13 months of age, we are a little late in the game, but sign language seems to be the best solution. Either that, or we wait it out until he can talk?

If you are looking for some information on the basics of teaching sign language to your little one, check out Baby Sign Language. Here are some tips that I found most helpful from the website:

1. Keep it fun by using a playful tone and incorporate emotion.

2. Choose signs that interest baby: mom, dad, eat, milk, more and dog.

3. Turn off distractions and sign in the center of their field of vision.

4. Start signing between 6-9 months.

5. Perform the sign before, during and after the event.

6. Incorporate signs into daily routines

7. When your baby initiates a sign, sign back and say the word out-loud

8. Use flash cards, books and props to aid with signing.

9. Start with 5 signs

10. Spend 5 minutes a day signing

These are the 5 signs that I would like to work on with Will…


To do the sign for more, flatten out your hands then bring your thumbs under to make an O shape. Then, bring your hands together and separate them repeatedly.

More sign


For all-done, you start with palms facing in, then turn the hands so that they are facing out.All done


Make the sign for eat by taking you strong hand, with the tip of your thumb touching the tips of your fingers and tapping it on your mouth. The same sign is used for food.

Eat sign


To sign please, take you hand with fingers extended and all together, and thumb extended and sticking out. Take the hand with palm facing in and rub it in a circle on your chest.

please sign

And if I get really, REALLY motivated, these signs too (not going to happen): 


To make the milk sign, take both hands, make them into a fist, relax, and repeat.

Milk sign


To sign mommy extend and spread your fingers apart. With your pinkie facing forward tap your thumb on your chin.

mommy sign


To sign daddy, extend and spread out your five fingers on your strong hand. Tap your hand on your forehead.



Sign dog by patting your outstretched hand with fingers together on the side of your hip. Just as if you were calling the dog.

dog sign


To sign again, flatten out your leading hand. Bend your second hand at a right angle, then tap it against the middle of the palm of your first hand.

Again sign

Did you teach your child sign language? If so, did it work? Was it worth it?


Remember this movie?

the truman show

It’s one of my all-time favorites. Why? Because it takes place in a little beach town on the Northern Panhandle of Florida, called Seaside.


We were fortunate enough (thanks Grammie and Big Bear!) to spend 5 beautiful days in this quaint beach town. Our trip was full of sunshine, swimming and snow cones, and I miss it all!

Seaside 3

We like to travel light, so renting baby gear was first on our list. There are so many companies that service traveling families, but we used Babies-n-Town because it specifically  serves  beach towns on the Florida Panhandle. The equipment we rented (gates, pack n’ play, booster seat) was definitely not top-of-the-line, but it did the trick. The Step-1 wagon was by far the best item we rented! Will had a blast cruising around town, waving to people as we passed.

seaside 9

We learned a lot about Will and the toddler stage on this trip. For  starters: the sunscreen battle begins at an early age. Will has super sensitive skin, so we use California Baby Sunscreen, but if  you are looking for other safe sunscreen options for your little one, read this.

seaside 11

seaside 4

We also learned on the first day of the trip that Will likes walking, as long as it doesn’t involve sand touching his feet. This really caught us off guard, because when we envisioned this trip we pictured Will frolicking on the beach and splashing in the water with his older cousins. Our experience was quite the contrary, and Will was perfectly content relaxing on our laps under the umbrellas.

seaside 6

seaside 7

I loved it (cuddle time!), Billy was concerned. “Is this how it’s going to be? He’s afraid of sand, he’s afraid of the ocean, what’s next?” Typical male, worried that his son isn’t going to be tough enough. Luckily, my mother-in-law is awesome with kids and as soon as she put Will in front of a few buckets full of water, he was happy as a clam.
seaside 2

sea 12

We spent a lot of time hanging out on the deck, especially at sunset, while Will spent a lot of time running back-and-forth between the deck and the family room. Who knew a doorway could be so entertaining!

seaside 5

sea 14

will and bob

sea 15

sea 17

sea 18

All of the adults had one fun night of freedom, while Grammie and Big Bear babysat 6 grandkids (luckily, most of them were sleeping). Always a good time with these guys, and the perfect way to end our unforgettable vacation.

sea 20

sea 22

Charts and More Charts Continued…

Each stage of  child development seems to bring a whole new series of questions and concerns. Is my child eating right, drinking right, growing right, talking right, playing right…? I know I should ask my doctor these questions first, but instead, who do I turn to? Friends, family, books, and good old trusty Google. Check out my latest questions and answers now that Will is officially a toddler.

p.s. click here to answer many of your baby questions.

(click pictures to enlarge)

How much should my toddler be eating?

Daily toddler needs


What kinds of food should I feed my toddler?

toddler food ideas

 How much cows milk should my child be drinking per day?  

My doctor says 24 ounces, but I’ve been giving Will 18 ounces a day. This chart says 16 oz. per day, so depending on the child I would aim for 16-24 ounces a day.  How much cows milk do you give your toddler?

milk chart


How many ounces of water should my toddler drink per day? 

water consumption chart


When can I turn the car seat to forward-facing?

The website states, Keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. It’s the best way to keep him or her safe. Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, your child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness” 

Car seat regulations


How much should my toddler be sleeping?

sleep chart for toddlers


What sounds should my toddler be able to make?

Speech sound development

What are the developmental milestones for toddlers?

milestones chart

When do toddlers get their molars?

teeth chart


What signs can I start working on with my toddler to help him communicate?

sign language for babies


When is time to start thinking about potty-training? 

potty training chart 2


What immunizations will my child have in his upcoming appointments? 

immunization chart


Fun Firsts: 11 Months

Will walking with lion

Will is officially walking, and he is so proud of himself! I thought crawling was a great form of self-entertainmnet, but this has been a riot for him. He spends most of his days walking around in circles carrying various objects like his lion, a block, a sippy cup, or tupperware, and he really gets a kick out of it.

When we are in a contained space, this is wonderful, but it’s a whole new ballgame when we are out in public. Being held or riding in the shopping cart isn’t as fun as it used to be, because in Will’s mind, walking in the opposite direction of mommy is so much better. Will has a new determined independence, and all he wants to do is explore. Welcome to the toddler stage!

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Dropping the Bottle AND Formula

milk junkie sippy cup

It’s a double whammy to say the least. Just like the shots at the doctor’s office, they never see it coming. One day your kid is enjoying their bottle full of beloved formula, and overnight it’s replaced by a sippy cup full of milk. I’d be upset too!

To say Will is obsessed with his bottle would be an understatement. As soon as he spots it, his eyes narrow in on the target, his bottom lip begins to quiver, his arms and legs start wagging, and little grunts of desperation are repeated over and over until he has that lifeline in his hand. You would think the kid hadn’t eaten for days, when in reality he just took down a plate of ravioli. He loves his bottle, and I love how it comforts him.

So, what’s the rush? I know many people who push it past 3, and even Suri Cruise was sucking on a bottle until she was 4. What is the harm in continuing the bottle after the age of 1? Well, ABC news reported that children who continue the bottle after 1 are at a higher risk for “a number of illness including speech problems, tooth erosion and deformation, and, not surprisingly, trouble letting the bottle go”.

suri cruise drinking a bottle until she was 4

First time, worried mother here, who really doesn’t want her son to experience any of the above side effects, but how do I drop his favorite thing in the whole wide world?

Parents.com lists a couple of steps you can take when transitioning from a bottle of formula to a sippy cup of milk: 

1) Let your child pick out their favorite sippy cup at the store.

2) Offer formula in a sippy cup when he or she is most hungry, usually in the morning. 

3) Offer milk in a sippy cup with daytime meals. 

4) Each day, slowly substitute one bottle with a sippy cup of milk.

5) If you continue to offer a bottle of milk before bed, make sure to brush babies teeth afterwards to prevent decay. This is usually the last bottle to go. 

6) Model drinking milk out of cup, speak positively and without pressure. This process could take weeks or even months. 

Will’s 1st birthday was this Monday, so here goes nothing…Goodbye bottle AND formula, Hello sippy cup, and milk.

What techniques or strategies did you use when transitioning your little one from a bottle of formula to a sippy cup of milk?

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The Best 1st Birthday Toys

It’s that time of year! All of Will’s friends having been turning one, which means we have been attending a lot of awesome 1st birthday parties. I tend to rely on trusty board books as gifts, but I’ve asked around and observed what toys Will is drawn to at play spaces and there are some perfect gifts for 1 year olds that I didn’t even think about (take notes, dad 😉 ).

Crawl Tunnel by Melissa & Doug, $20.99. My friend, Meredith, sent this as an early birthday gift, and it has been a huge hit in our home. It folds up flat for easy storage.

crawl tunnel by melissa and dougPlanToys Plan Preschool Rock N Roll, Push and Pull, $27.64. This push and pull toy is perfect for newly walking 1 year olds. Thanks for the tip, Gina!

plantoys plan preschool walk n roll

Step2 Up and Down Elephant, $44.95. Will loves the big kid slide at Little Beans (this place is so much better now that Will can move) but this elephant slide is more his height.

step2 up and down elephant slide

Melissa and Doug Shopping Cart, $48.50. Billy calls this toy the “death trap” but it can really be a lot of fun under the right supervision. Make sure you purchase the plastic food ($14.72) to go along with the cart.

melissa and doug shopping cart

Lego Duplo My first Set, $30.99. Every kid needs a set of legos, and this is the perfect starter kit.

my first set of legos

Nesting Block: Read to Me Tot Tower, $19.99. Will loves this gift from his Grammie so much that he has eaten half of the smallest block. I would highly recommend this toy for babies and toddlers.

nesting blocks

Step 2 WaterWheel Activity Play Table, $39.98. We’ve had a couple of sunny days this week, and it’s starting to feel like Spring is around the corner. This water table looks so fun, although storing it doesn’t.

water table

Sensory Ball Mega Pack, $29.95. You can never have too many balls. Will has loved these sensory balls since he was 6 months old.

sensory balls

Prince Lionheart Wheely Bug, $45.17. This is another one of Will’s favorites at the play spaces we frequent. The size of this push and ride toy is ideal for a city resident, and it’s just plain cute!

prince lionhearty wheely bug

Fisher-Price Go Baby Go! Bat and Wobble Penguin, $19.99. Anything your child can smack over and over again is guaranteed to be fun!

fisher price go baby go bat and wobble penguin

What toy do you recommend for a 1st birthday? Does your child have a favorite toy that they received on their big day?

P.S. A toy kitchen would also be on my list, but it’s a larger, more expensive purchase that you can kindly request from a grandparent.

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Fun Firsts: 10 Months

After two botched haircuts left Will looking like Lloyd Christmas and Janet Reno, we decided it was time to call in the pros…

1st attempt:

2nd attempt:

Lesson learned: Don’t let me near a pair of scissors!

Anyway, Billy’s long-time hair stylist was kind enough to offer us a free haircut for Will anytime. We couldn’t pass that up, so last week Will finally got a much-needed haircut.

Will’s mop of hair before…

getting ready for hair cut

picture of us looking in the mirror

will and bill

She was super fast, and Will was awesome. It was seriously such a fun 1st time experience, I don’t know why we waited this long!

babies 1st hair cut

Babies first hair cut

When did your little one get his or her first professional haircut?

NPN New Moms Group

As I’ve mentioned before, putting yourself out there is a very important stay-at-home-mom skill. One way to do this is by joining the NPN New Moms Group.

By the time my group started, Will was a few months old and I was so eager to talk to other moms that I almost burst into tears when it was my turn to introduce myself. “Hi, I’m Julie, and this is Will. I’m hoping to make some new mommy friends, and get some great advice on how to be a better parent” (I’m such a dork).

A veteran NPN member led the first three meetings, which was great. She offered us support, and opened each meeting with a parenting question like, “were you surprised by how difficult breastfeeding is?”

After the first three meetings were over, we began rotating houses for play group or meeting at a play space. We’ve lost a couple of women, but the rest of us have been pretty consistent about getting together every Wednesday at 3:30.

I think the hardest thing to let go of when you join a mommy group is the nap schedule. There is never going to be a perfect meeting time, so you just have to make it work. Keep your baby up longer, put them down earlier, nap in the car ride there or coming home, or cut the nap a little short . You can always arrive late or leave early in order to work around nap time. However you can make it work, it’s worth it!

Here are some of Will’s new friends from our NPN mommy group:


Will and Ava

girls at play group

play group at Ali's

play group at ali's house

Are you part of a mommy play group? If so, did you join through a parenting network or just create it yourself?

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Toy Kitchens

I may have dropped a few hints to my mom that a toy kitchen is an awesome 1st birthday gift. A play kitchen encourages creative thinking, while also allowing a toddler to practice their fine motor skills as they manipulate the various pieces and appliances. There are so many great options to choose from. How adorable are these toy kitchens?!

Creative Cookery by Hape, $82.19

creative cookery by hape

Melissa and Doug Classic Deluxe Kitchen, $169.16

melissa and doug classic kitchen

Vintage Kitchen by KidKraft, $129.99

KidKraft Kitchen

Duktig Mini Kitchen by IKEA, $99.99

IKEA Kitchen

What’s Cooking Kitchen Appliances by Land of Nod, $229

land of nod kitchen

Picnik Duo Kitchen, $150

Picnik duo kitchen

Gourmet Chef Kitchen by Hape, $104.60

Hape play kitchen

What toy kitchen did you purchase for your child? Would you recommend it?

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