Posts tagged: toddlers

The Magic Heart

By , August 19, 2009 11:32 am

Several months ago I saw these cute little polished heart-shaped stones in a local store when I was getting a watch battery replaced, and had an inspiration.

They felt smooth and silky, and soothingly weighty in the palm of the hand.  I chose a particularly luminescent one whose soft blue color reminded me of the Arizona sky.

When I pulled out my wallet to pay, the store owner surprisingly gave it to me for free! A very auspicious start for a symbol that I hoped would cure all manner of ills.

Soon after acquiring The Magic Heart, my three year-old had a meltdown and was quite sad about something that I (and she) no longer recall. I gave her the heart and explained to her, and the other children, that The Magic Heart goes to whoever needs it most to remind them that they are loved.

That person must keep the heart in a safe place (I decided that nightstand drawers were where it should go since my children could lose an elephant within minutes). The recipient keeps the heart until another family member is overcome with sadness or anger, then that person passes it along to the new person in need.

As any parent of a toddler would imagine, The Magic Heart ends up most often with my three and a half year-old. I wasn’t sure she really grasped the concept of what it meant until the other night.

I was moderately grumpy after a bad day when I discovered that my children were bathing without soap or shampoo, and most likely had been for some time! I got very annoyed and washed their hair and bodies myself, all the while grumbling about how at their age they should know how to do these things themselves, blah, blah, blah.

My three year-old came to me after her bath and said: “I have something for you” … she handed me The Magic Heart from her nightstand drawer … “because you were grumpy in the bathroom.”

How to melt a Mama’s heart!!!

After overcoming the guilty feeling that even my three year-old had noticed my Mommy Tantrum, I realized that maybe The Magic Heart really was magic.

Toddler Trick (so I can make dinner) – Find the Frog!

By , July 3, 2009 1:40 pm

Most parents would agree that dinner preparation is the toughest time of the day. We are worn out and the kids are tired and crabby.  The easiest solution for a hard earned bit of peace is to plunk them down in front of the TV or a video in order to cook without “help” or having to play umpire.

On really bad days, I sometimes find myself too easily wanting to resort to the distraction of a video, especially with my 3 year-old who of course wants to “help” with everything, including dinner. So whenever I come across a new trick to happily and easily occupy her, I am eager to share it with others!

Several years ago I picked up some colored plastic threading and counting frogs at a yard sale. I have used them for everything from math homework to French lessons, but I just discovered a new game that my 3 year old loves: “Find the Frog!”  This is proof that we don’t need something complicated or expensive (or electronic) to entertain and teach a child.

Our frog friends come in three sizes and six colors. I simply tell my 3 year-old what to thread, for example, “medium blue,” and she does it with joy! Sometimes I get fancy and say “three large orange,” or “one small red and two medium green.”

This is so simple that most of you are probably saying “Umm … what’s so special about this?” But since it never occurred to me that this game could entrance my daughter for an hour at a time, it might not have occurred to a few of you either.

Plus, consider these benefits:

  • I can work in the kitchen while playing this game with her (or be lazy and sit on the sofa and read a magazine).
  • The game teaches colors, numbers, and sizes.
  • Children practice remembering and following increasingly complicated instructions.
  • The threading is an excellent exercise of fine motor skills.
  • You could play this with almost anything that threads:  beads, thread spools, colored pasta, or buttons for example.  (Great for creatively repurposing household items!)
  • Variation for non-threadable items:  have your child place certain items in an egg carton, container, or selection of dishware.  For example:  “Two blue buttons in the glass” or “One large seashell in the red bowl.”
  • Make this an activity for your “Mommy I’m Bored Box!”

For more easy ideas, please read these posts about other very simple toddler pastimes that have worked for me:


Potty Update: Success!!

By , August 26, 2008 9:56 pm

OK, I know that my two year-old’s potty progress is not the world’s most earth-shattering, fascinating topic. Even I, her mother, am not THAT riveted by it all. The only one who finds it endlessly entertaining is my two year-old herself.

So, WARNING – If you are not interested in the finer points of potty training a 2 year-old, please stop reading here and maybe go read about some crafts instead. For those who are still with me, please read on:

Before I left on our big summer adventure, I wrote about our successful Potty Fiesta, but asked for advice on getting my little one to give up her little potty and begin using the “big girl potty.”

Since so many of you commented and offered your tips, this must be a subject that really is of more interest than it might seem! Thank you all for your helpful input! I really appreciated it and thought I should let you know how we finally solved the issue.

We spent the month of July in Upstate New York at my Dad’s house and I was worried that a vacation was not really the best time to finish tackling the potty issue, but my stepmother had no little potty, only the seat that fits on the “big potty.”

Despite my misgivings about potty learning while on vacation, I boldly decided not to go out and buy a little potty. Instead, I told my daughter that there was no little potty at Pop Pop’s house and she would simply have to use the big one (several of you reported success with some variation of this method).

Well, my little one is PRETTY STUBBORN (where does she get that I wonder?), and absolutely refused to go near the potty for several days. We were back to diapers. It was quite discouraging.

Then my stepmother had the idea of making a doll “go to the big potty.” My stepmom gave a brilliant performance and made quite a show of it. Of course we all acted really excited for Dolly and gave her lots of praise and some Skittles (bribery has its uses).

I was skeptical that my little one would buy into this trickery, but wouldn’t you know, within 5 minutes she was on the potty!! She was nervous and was clearly afraid of falling in, even on the little seat, so I had to hug her tightly while she went. She did it and got lots of praise and Skittles too, just like Dolly.

After one or two more potty trips she lost her fear of falling in and no longer wanted to be held (“ME do it!”). What a breakthrough!! She was fine from then on, and even manages public toilets without using a little seat (but while being held).

When we returned home after our month away I ran inside and whisked away the little potty before she had a chance to see it. I thought she might want to use it if she saw it, but so far she has never asked where her beloved little “poTEEE” went.

My fears of having to pack the little potty everyday in her high school backpack are gone now, thanks to my brilliant stepmom as well as your advice and encouragement. Thank you!!

(Cute photo thanks to photographer ZeroSilence3 (Jason Lemay) and

Potty Fiesta!

By , July 1, 2008 1:28 pm

The big excitement around here at the moment is the “poTEEE” as my 2 year-old calls it. She has been interested in potties of all sorts from about 18 months on. I have been the one who has been stalling the whole potty training process (or potty “learning,” as they say now).

I am so over the eagerness to be out of diapers that I felt with my first child. Experience has taught me a lot.

Quite frankly, I have learned that diapers are easier. We never have to worry about where the nearest toilet is. We never have to worry about how clean the nearest toilet is. We never have to worry about messy accidents in awkward public places.

But now that she is 2 and a half, I have decided that I really must put my completely selfish attitude aside and take the big potty plunge.  After all, I don’t want her to be stashing away some Depends along with her Chemistry textbook in her high school backpack.

The older two learned between 2 and a half and 3. They both wanted to go to “school” (Montessori preschool) and had to be 3 and free of diapers. The incentive of “school” was enough to motivate them and get them with the program in a matter of a day or two.

This time “school” is a bit farther off, so although I am talking up that aspect of things, I have had to be a bit more creative.

The other day we had a “Potty Fiesta” where I moved her little potty to the living room and let her run around bare-bottomed all morning, and with big girl undies on in the afternoon. This is a modified “run around the backyard naked” approach. Since we live on a golf course, I didn’t think it would be seemly to have her running around the backyard naked, even if she is only 2.

I also resorted to bribery: one Skittle for “wee-wee” and two Skittles for “poop.” The older two also get a Skittle treat when she goes, and that has caused them to become a most enthusiastic cheering section!

So far, so good. Accidents have been few and far between. She is very proud, and even came over to tell me out of the blue: “Mama, I’m a poTEEE trained.”

The only challenge I face now is that she has fallen so in love with her little “poTEEE,” that she refuses to go near a big toilet (even with a little seat on it). Any ideas on how to overcome PoTEEE Attachment and broaden the toilet horizons? I really don’t want to be toting the beloved “poTEEE” around with us every time we run an errand!

What tricks have you used to speed the potty process?

Panorama Theme by Themocracy