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In Action: Training In Non-Conflict plus Ask & Tell

We recently took another trip to the dentist. As a child, I never minded the dentist. I even liked the dentist. As a mother, I hate the dentist. Our pediatric dentist is a nice man and the kids love him--so no, it is not him. It is the juggling of crying children and trying to talk them into having their teeth cleaned or at least looked at.

One of the worst days of my life as a parent happened about six months ago. I took Brayden and Kaitlyn to the dentist with the help of my mom. Brayden had had surgery on his thumb about 9 months earlier, and ever since had been terrified of the dentist. I don't know why. He didn't show fear of the doctor, but something about the dentist reminded him of the surgery experience.

Both children just cried the entire time and we were unable to do anything other than brush with a toothbrush. Now, I don't really mind that aspect. We have insurance, so I wasn't out any more money than we already pay. I also am not terribly concerned about good cleanings at this age. What I didn't like was the crying and not listening to me.

But I understood. Brayden was terrified and Kaitlyn looks up to Brayden and follows his lead. He was scared so she was scared.

While we were there, I noticed I was literally the only mom having more than one child visit the dentist that day. Not the only one with more than one child there, but the only one with more than one child having a check up. I wondered if I was crazy to try to do them both at the same time. And what would I do when McKenna joined the ranks?!?!?

I decided then and there that we would take separate visits to the dentist.

But as the day approached for our next visit, two sides came out. Side one is logical me. Logical me thought about all of the wasted time I would spend driving there, being there, driving back, driving there, being there, driving back, driving there, being there, driving back. Whew! That was time wasted just typing it out ;)

Side two was stubborn me. Stubborn me said I could do this. Sure, Brayden was scared. But I have the tools to make this a pleasant experience for everyone. I didn't want to take the route of making it one long miserable day for our family [especially me] twice a year. If it was going to be miserable, it could be miserable for 1-2 hours total instead. My driving time alone back and forth for three kids would be about 1.5 hours....we could do this.

So, as usual, logical me and stubborn me won out over whoever that other me is. I set the appointment for all three children at the same time. Oh boy.

But stubborn me does not go beyond my own limits. Logical me informed my husband of the date and told him to take the day off. We were having a family dentist trip.

In the weeks before the appointment, I talked to Brayden about it. I told him he would be going to the dentist. I employed ideas of training in times of non-conflict and also ask & tell. I reminded him of what would happen there. I told him how I wanted him to behave and how I didn't want him to behave. I told him I knew he got nervous, and I understood, but that they wouldn't hurt him and he needed to let them clean and look at his teeth.

We marked the date on his calendar in his room. We practiced on him and let him practice on me.

About a week before, I started the same process with Kaitlyn.

Another good thing we did is my neighbor got in on it. She talked about how great it was to go to the dentist. Her children go to the same dentist, and her son a little more than a year older than Brayden talked about how he thought the dentist was cool because you get a prize when you are done "if you are good."

Brayden was ready.

He was awesome. He hopped up all brave. He opened as big as he could and he let them clean his teeth. He was perfect. I have zero complaints about the whole process. I think that from this point forward, he will be at a point where an adult presence will not be necessary for him, which is great since there are two adults and three children currently.

Kaitlyn acted brave until it was time. She started off amiable, but then she clamped shut and refused. It might have been the hygienist. She was fine until they switched on her. She also might have just reached her breaking point. She was also fine for the dentist. Kaitlyn still has room for improvement, but she was far better. I think next time, I need to do more prep work with her like I did for Brayden this time.

You can practice with a one year old, but you can't mentally prepare a one year old with talk. Just by doing. She did as well as I would hope. She cried, but I think that is actually best because then she opened her mouth :) She didn't cry for the dentist (do you see why I like him? He has a magic touch).

So you can see how well ask and tell as wel as training in times of non-conflict can work. It just takes a little bit of forethought.


Baby Whisperer: Four Hour Schedule

Looking at the bare bones structure of the systems, Babywise and The Baby Whisperer are really almost the same thing. There are, of course, some differences. One is when to move to a four hour schedule.

According to Babywise, the order of events are to first, drop the dreamfeed. After some time (2-4 weeks), you can see if baby is ready for a four hour schedule, going over readiness signs.

According to The Baby Whisperer, the events are to first move to a four hour schedule (at 4 months old) and then drop the dreamfeed (at 8 months old).

Over the last year, I have gotten a lot of questions regarding this scenario. Before McKenna reached four months old, I had questions on "what will you do? Which path will you take?" Once she had passed it, people wondered both what I did and why I did it.

So, here is a post dedicated to The Baby Whisperer and the Four Hour Schedule.

Hoggs 4/4 Plan

Information on this starts on page 33 in The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems. Hogg says essentially that your child changes cognitively at four months old and therefore needs a four hour schedule. Now, take note that she does use words like "Most babies are ready at this point to switch..." (page 33), not all. Even so, the way she writes, I think most parents would read that section and say, "oh, time for the four hour schedule, she hit four months!"

Let me just say that I highly disagree with any statement saying that at X age, your baby is ready for 123. That just doesn't work. Babies are each individuals. I also disagree with pushing to a four hour schedule, which Hogg advocates doing.

I do, however, agree with saying things like 'most babies' are ready for something by a certain age, but I think we need to be careful to be sure to evaluate things as individuals. Hogg doesn't give any other criteria for being ready for the four hour schedule other than age.

I found it preferable to drop the dreamfeed before moving to a four hour schedule with my oldest two. I preferred the Babywise way. That way, you have 10-12 hours of consolidated sleep at a younger age. I also think that staying up for two hours is a stretch for most four month olds, and if you push it, you are likely going to fight against naps for a couple of months until your baby's ability to stay up catches up with your plans. With my last two, however, I did it the Baby Whisperer way. I found it easier to have longer stretches between feedings in the day and take care of other kids.

What We Did
With McKenna, we did move to a four hour schedulebefore we dropped the dreamfeed. This was due to special circumstances. She was ready to drop the dreamfeed at four months old, but we were going to be moving right around the time she turned 5 months old and I didn't want to be in the middle of dropping the dreamfeed when I moved McKenna to a new room in a new house. I wanted to be able to
check on her and check on the room conditions in the night. I just felt better about it.

But it was really hard to not do something at this point. She was ready for a change. At five months old, we found we were a bit delayed in moving, which we really should have planned on. We were working on our new house. My mom would watch McKenna and I would drive to her house to nurse her every few hours. Well, one day, time got away from me and it ended up being a four hour schedule for one interval.

McKenna was reaching all four hour scehdule readiness signs listed in Babywise. I decided that since she was making it, I should just let it go. It wasn't the order I wanted it to happen in, but she needed something to happen. I also figured if the Baby Whisperer suggests it, and she is showing readiness cues, she would be fine.

She didn't, however, stay up for two hours at a time. She just took longer naps. You can see the baby summaries around that age for more info.

Deciding For Yourself
So what should you do? Should you drop the dreamfeed or go to four hours first? Here are my things for you to consider:
  • Cues: Look for signs of readiness for either step. See Dropping the Dreamfeed and When To Move To A Four Hour Schedule for help. Don't go solely by age here. You will create problems if you force something your baby isn't ready for. Combine age with readiness cues.
  • Lifestyle: Which would be best for your family? Would you like to be able to go to bed before the dreamfeed? If so, drop it. Would you like to go on a date with your husband and not have to hurry back for the dreamfeed? If so, drop the dreamfeed. Do you need more time in the day? If so, the four hour schedule would be a good step for you.
In my experience, these two events often happen close to each other unless you do one really early in life (prior to four months old). So if your baby is 4 months or older, chances are the two will happen within a month or so of each other. The older your child, the shorter the distance. Kaitlyn was just before seven months old when we did each, and we did them a couple of days apart.

In the end, go with what you feel is best for your baby and your family. I don't think it really matters what you do first, so long as you are doing it following readiness cues.


Kindergarten Readiness

I had some readers ask for what requirements were for entering kindergarten here. I don't know the exact requirements--I don't think they want to tell you because they don't want you drilling specific areas while ignoring others. I do remember them mentioning that the child should be able to name and give the sound for about 10 letters if I remember right. That seems like very little to me; Kaitlyn could do that by 18 months...well, all 26 letters. I also remember them saying something about being able to hold and count objects. If you are looking for a good guideline for preparing for schooling, be sure to read On Becoming Preschoolwise. It is full of ideas.

Be sure to also check out the Children's Learning Activities blog for ideas from baby on up (I am cross-posting this post today on that blog). We write articles to help your child learn different skills. I am also currently focusing on the nitty gritty of info rather than "just" activities.

Brayden had his first entrance exam about two months ago. I wasn't in the room. Naturally I tried my best to overhear what I could, but I really couldn't hear much. I do know she went through shapes, colors, counting (counting objects), and letters. There might have been more. Brayden got 100% on it, and the teacher seemed surprised to see that.

Here are some ideas of skills to help your child be ready for kindergarten, whether you plan to send your child to school or homeschool. There will be things on this list your child is able to do well. There will be others she can't do at all. Just be sure to give plenty of opportunity to practice. Also remember it doesn't all come at once. You can't expect perfection in your first practice session. Keep things natural and enjoyable. Activities found on learning blogs and in busy books are great for creating this environment for learning. I will comment on what Brayden is and isn't able to do so far. He is one month away from turning five.

  • Eats Independently: Check
  • Uses Restroom Independently: Almost check. He does fine for peeing. I had him wiping his own bottom for pooping, then we moved and he decided he didn't like to do that and started holding it for days. A week ago, I told him he needed to start thinking about doing that himself again. He worries he won't be able to do it right. But he decided he was ready to learn and practice and has done it for a few days in a row. I am not sure we are out of the woods fully, but we are almost there.
  • Washes Hands After Using Restroom: Almost check. Almost in that he almost remembers all of the time, but still needs reminders sometimes. But hey, lots of men get married and still need reminders right ;) (oh, and let me be clear, my husband doesn't, but my mom claims my dad did).
  • Removes Outerwear Independently: Check
  • Cleans Up After Self: Check
  • Knows How To Care For And Use Books: Check
  • Ask Questions When Necessary: Um, triple check
  • Seeks Adult Help When Necessary: Check
  • Curious and Tries New Things: Check. There are times he is nervous to try new things, but he eventually will.
  • Takes Turns: Check. I wouldn't call him perfect at this at home. He is quite good at home, but not perfect. But with his peers, he is good at taking turns.
  • Shares Materials: Check. Again, not perfect at home, but really close. He even shares everything with McKenna. When I think of where he was three years is quite amazing.
  • Persists In Completing Tasks: Triple Check again. He has an amazing work ethic.
  • Confident In Own Abilities: I would say so so. He has situations where he is fully confident in himself and thinks he is fabulous. He has been known to look in the mirror and tell himself, "I love you." He also has areas he is nervous and worries he will fail. I work with him to help him realize things take time and practice and that it is okay to mess up. A good illustration for this is soccer. For the first few games, he didn't want to kick the ball because he was afraid he would fall while kicking. He saw kids do just that and was nervous. We encouraged him a lot and by game four, he was kicking quite often.
  • Listens While Others Talk: Depends on who "others" is. I know he is great for his teacher and authority figures. I think he has much room for improvement when it comes to his little sister. When they play together, he does pretty well, but if we are eating dinner and she is telling a story, he jumps in and corrects her or interrupts her, etc. This is an area I will focus on for improvement.
  • Shows Concern For Others: Check
  • Plays and Works Cooperatively With Others: Check
  • Separates From Parent Without Undue Anxiety: Check. A year and four months ago, this would have been no unless he was with Grandparents. By the beginning of preschool (last fall), he was okay. He didn't freak out going to preschool or anything. Sometimes he would be nervous even to go to friends houses. He went and didn't cry, but I could tell he was reserved about it. So was I! lol. But today, he doesn't mind at all. And as a younger preschool-age, he didn't mind either.
  • Knows Parent/Guardian's First And Last Name: Check
  • Knows Own First And Last Name: Check
  • Hops, Jumps, Runs: Check
  • Bounces, Catches, Kicks, and Throws Balls: Check, though he isn't always graceful about it and I wouldn't call him perfect. But I think he is on track for his age.
  • Can Run and Stop/Change Direction While In Motion: Check
  • Participates In Simple Games: Check
  • Can Control Pencils, Crayons, Scissors, Buttons, Books etc.: Check
  • Hand-Eye Coordination like Building Blocks and Construction Playdoh: Check
  • Simple Puzzles: Check
  • Counts To Ten: Check
  • Creates Groups of Up To Five Objects: Check
  • Places Like Items Together (red cars/blue cars): Check
  • Plays With/Creates/Indentifies Shapes: Check
  • Awareness Of Time (morning/night, before/after): Check
  • Compares Objects Informally: Check
  • Speaks In Complete Sentences: Check
  • Speaks Clearly Enough To Be Understood By Unfamiliar Adults: Check
  • Expresses Feelings and Ideas: Check
  • Knows Poems and Songs: Check
  • Listens Attentively & Responds To Stories and Books: Check
  • Identifies Signs/Symbols/Logos In Environment: Check
  • Identifies 10 Or More Letters: Check
  • Writes Using Scribbles, Letter like Shapes, or Real Letters: Check
You can see that our biggest area with need for improvement is Socially. This is an interesting category because it is objective. You can subjectively tell if your child has songs or poems memorized, can count, can write, etc. But social skills are measured based on your own ideals/values.

My guess is his social skills would be to par with the majority of people out there for an almost five year old. But we Babywise moms want children who are very polite and motivated by the right reasons. I see room for improvement before I say he is "checked" for "listening to others while they speak." He might not reach that check until he is much, much older.

He also needs help in accepting that he can't be perfect at something from his first try. I still work on this with his father on a daily basis (*wink*), so it isn't a battle I expect to win any time soon. But I do think it is an important lesson and I hope for him to accept it before too many more years pass by.

I think this is a great list to go over because it helps you see what needs to be worked on. These would be great additions to the "family plan" you make. Just typing it out helped me see better areas we need to make as target training areas.

These ideas came from a pamphlet written by my state office of education.

McKenna Pre-Toddler Summary: 13 Months Old

Just to keep those following up to speed, I am writing this summary on the day McKenna turns 13 months old, so it is similar to what I would have previously posted as a 12 months 4 week type of post.

Things are great here. McKenna still eats a whole lot. Around one year old, pre-toddlers have a significant drop in their food intake. She hasn't quite hit that. She does stop eating now as opposed to the past when I just had to decide she was done because that seemed like a sufficient amount of food, but she still doesn't eat so little that I start to worry.

I am really glad she likes to eat so much because she will sit and eat dinner or lunch during Brayden's soccer games, which recently started up. It makes it much easier to watch the game since she just sits in her stroller eating food and watching along. She cheers every time I cheer. She is so funny.

So far as the drinking milk goes, she is doing great! I don't even worry in the least about it now. She doesn't drink as much as Brayden and Kaitlyn did, but I have come to terms with the fact that she will get what she needs if I offer it to her.

She is still enjoying trying new foods, especially at this time of year with so many new fruits and veggies coming in season. Canteloup, pineapple, is all very exciting for her.

She still eats some purees each day. I definitely add it to her yogurt and cereal each morning for flavor sake. Then some days that is the only pureed food she has, others she has additional.

Remember when I said her yogurt was quite sour? Well, a reader commented that it shouldn't be sour. It was really as sour as sour cream, even though it was a couple of weeks from its expiration date. So, I decided to switch brands, and this one is good enough I would eat it if I had to. It is still made from cream and organic, although it isn't quite as simple in the ingrediants, which is why I went with brand A in the first place. But brand A just wasn't working. I would rather fewer fat calories than sour yogurt.

Everything is still going well in this area so far as her regularly scheduled playtimes go.

She is turning into a tornado, as my husband called it last night. She whips through and makes as large of a mess as she can. This is all normal. She is very curious, so we have new things that we have to tell her she can't touch. She is starting to learn to clean stuff up, in a simple, 13 month old way :)

McKenna just loves to be outside. She would spend the entire day out there if she could. Brayden was also that way, but Kaitlyn was not.

McKenna started a unique way of playing with Brayden a couple of days ago. She will scream if he has something she wants. He immediately gives up what he has. The interesting thing is that she doesn't try this with anyone else in the family. It isn't like Brayden takes stuff from her...she just knows. Girls are born knowing that if they want to make a male move, they just need to scream :) Kaitlyn did the same thing to Brayden. Our neighbor's daughter does the same thing to all five of her brothers...they just know.

We have no sleep issues going on. Everything is going well.

McKenna is very much warming up to "strangers." You might remember her idea of a stranger is any adult who is not my husband or me. She has initiated and allowed a few different adults hold her over the last few days, one of them even being someone at church she rarely sees.

McKenna had her first visit to the dentist last week. She was happy and joyful until the hygienist put her in her lap to clean her teeth. That whole stranger thing and all. Then she cried, which is actually a helpful thing for the one year old because you can't tell a one year old to open her mouth.

Once she was done getting her teeth cleaned, she was very charming for the dentist. She also hugged me and snuggled me. She had the office all laughing and oohing and aweing over how cute she is. Now, I agree, she is cute, but she definitely has this magic way of eliciting compliments and admiration from people around her. She can work a crowd.

She continues to add to her list of words she can say. She also speaks sentences...just not any that are understandable to anyone but her. It is cute, yet strange, to hear from a child her age. She looks at you and babbles a sentence then pauses and waits for a reply. She really thinks she is speaking clearly. It is so funny. Neither Brayden nor Kaitlyn were that way, so don't worry if your 13 month old isn't either. They were the type who only said words they could say. She just seems to believe she can say whatever she wants to.

It hasn't really changed.

8:30 AM--wake, eat (prunes or peaches/apricots mixed with yogurt, oatmeal, milk). This is when we do a bath (four days a week) and independent playtime.
10:30 AM--nap.
12:30 PM--wake, lunch. She then "helps" me put Brayden in rest time (which just means telling him to go) and Kaitlyn down for her nap. We then do blanket time followed by free play with me in the same room and/or outside play.
2:30 PM--nap
4:30-5:00 PM--wake, milk, solids (yellow veggie and bananas or pears). Then time with Daddy.
5:30ish PM--dinner with family. Finger foods and what we are having. Then time with family, which is typically outside these days.
7:30 PM--PJs, story, prayers, bed.



Parenting Goal: More Than Survival

When you first became a parent, you likely went into survival mode. You just tried to make it from sun up to sun down with your sanity in tact. It took all of your brain power to figure that little baby out and come to know what was best for him.

As he got older, you were able to do more than merely survive. You could work on little things like independent playtime. But then he became a toddler, and you could barely keep up! He never stopped moving and you slipped back into survival mode.

"Your goal needs to be more than just getting through another day" (Childwise page 10).

Those first two paragraphs really are what my mindset was like when Brayden was born. He was the busiest baby/toddler ever. He wore me right out. It took time for me to learn to juggle parenthood with the rest of life.

The good news for any of you experiencing something similar is that over time, you get better at it. You learn to balance things, which is good if you want more than one child.

In our modern world, we really can't just make it through the day with our children. We just can't. In The Parenting Breakthrough, Boyack comments on this. She says that an older woman once commented to her that she (the older woman) was always able to just let her young children go outside and play all day long and that was okay. But women today can't do that. The world is different now, and our children are faced with some scary stuff at very young ages. We need to take a proactive approach to teaching them all they need to know, and we need to start young.

We Babywise moms start this path young. We start by establishing good sleeping and eating patterns. This enables us to focus on more than eating and sleeping with our young toddlers--and even our babies. It also enables our children to have the mental capacity and energy for focusing on more because they are well-rested and nutritionally fed.

As the baby grows, we start to teach her to play independently for short periods of time. We do this in a playpen so she is safe and also is required to sit (or lay) and focus on what she has. Then she gets a bit older and we start to introduce time on a blanket. This item has no sides to it. She learns to maintain self control and obey mom's voice and stay on this little blanket.

We require some manners at the dinner table, even from our babies. Blowing raspberries is cute and fun, but it isn't cute or fun for mom to wear baby's food. We allow our babies to blow raspberries to her hearts content while she plays, but she isn't allowed to do so at the dinner table. She is far to young to have a moral understanding of respect for others, but we are teaching her habits now so that when she is old enough to understand why, she already has the physical restraint of how.

As our child grows, we continue to work on teaching him respect, love, kindness, self-control, etc. We start to introduce some learning activities as he shows interest. We train our children in proper public behavior. People marvel at our children when we go out, especially those of older generations. Sure, our kids act out sometimes in public. They are people, not robots. But for the most part, they are well behaved and polite.

Somewhere around age 3-4, our child is ready for the principles of Childwise. "Childwise is a values-based parenting strategy" (page 10). Our child is old enough to start to learn and understand moral reasoning. She will face harder decisions than you ever did as a child. Not only will she face those tough questions and vices, like drugs, younger than you did, but she will face some you can't even imagine yet. The world is ever changing.

Look at what teenagers are doing with cell phones in our modern world. Did you ever imagine that happening? You need to teach her a strong moral foundation so she can make wise decisions on her own. You will not be able to provide her with every right answer. She needs to learn to judge for herself what is right and what isn't.

You need to do more than make it through each day.

Don't despair. Your child can do it. She can learn, but she needs your guidance. Our children are strong people. And you can do it! You can teach them. You just need to put the effort in.

With this idea in mind, I started a series of posts a little over a year ago titled "More Than Making It Through The Day." Here is a link to the index for it. I have different age ranges broken down with great goals to strive for within each age range. These posts will help prepare you to prepare your child. They build on each other. We start with the simple things early in life so we can move on to heavier items later in life. I try to make them as manageable as possible.

I don't want to overwhelm you, but I do want to make sure everyone realizes the imprtance of their roles as parents. It is all very possible to fulfill. We just have to do it. We can't float along allowing television and swingsets to raise our children. We must do it. And we can.


Heavenly Bean Bag--New Winner

Our old winner never contacted me, so we have a new winner for the Heavenly Bean Bag! The new winner is...

Sarah Lynn!

Please email me at to claim your prize. You have until April 28 or a new winner will be chosen. Congrats!

Product Review: Bedtime For Mommy {Giveaway}

Item: Children's Book: Bedtime For Mommy
Author: Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Illustrator: LeUyen Pham

I was given a free copy of this book so I could review it for you before talking about it. All opinions are my own. 

If you read this blog, you know that I am a huge advocate of reading to children. I grew up loving to read, and even as a child I knew that was thanks to 1)my parents reading to me and 2)seeing my parents read their own books all the time.

So I am so happy to review this newly released children's book! This book is very fun. The first night I read it to Brayden, he laughed and laughed the whole way through. This book is a role reversal book where the daughter puts the mommy to bed. Brayden loves that "The girl is in charge of the Mommy!" I like this book and definitely recommend it to you. Now, on to some additional info on the book, the author, and the illustrator:

It’s time to stop working for the night. Put on your pajamas and go to bed. Did you brush your teeth? Okay, you can have five more minutes to read Bedtime for Mommy by Amy Krouse Rosenthal illustrated by LeUyen Pham, but then lights out.

In this reversal of the classic bedtime routine, a little girl puts Mommy (and then Daddy) to bed. New York Times bestselling author Krouse Rosenthal and illustrator Pham coax laughs and love out of life’s common moments—even the exasperating ones. Bedtime for Mommy brings the struggles of bedtime to light with humor both kids and adults will understand and appreciate. For more information on the book, its creators, and the Bedtime for Mommy consumer contest, visit

Amy Krouse Rosenthal is the bestselling author of the Little Pea, Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons, Spoon and Duck! Rabbit! Her books for adults include Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life and The Belly Book. She is the creator of the interactive film project The Beckoning of Lovely. Her blog, Miss(ion) Amy K.R., launched in January 2010 by WBEZ, Chicago's NPR affiliate, where she has been a longtime contributor. She lives in Chicago with her family. Visit her online at

LeUyen Pham is the award-winning illustrator of Julianne Moore’s Freckleface Strawberry books and Alexander McCall Smith’s Akimbo series, as well as author and illustrator of Big Sister, Little Sister. She lives with her family in San Francisco. Visit her online at
Here is a short review from Patricia Austin of Booklist, the review journal of the American Library Association.
Eschewing the typical scenario of readying children for bed, Rosenthal tickles toddlers’ funny bones with a role-reversal tale in which the child gets Mommy ready for bed. Working at her computer, papers askew, a harried and bespectacled mom pleads for five more minutes. Wearing a self-satisfied smile, the freckled child times her and then pushes her up the stairs to her bath. Pham cleverly submerges Mom in a bubble bath while the determined child scrubs her toes. Mom then gives thumbs-down to several attempts at picking tomorrow’s outfit, exuberantly bounces into bed, bargains unsuccessfully for two books tonight (they curl up with Anna Karenina), and begs for a glass of water. Watching the clocks will provide added amusement (it takes one hour to get Mom tucked in, and then it’s Dad’s turn). With the entire text in speech bubbles and humorous, uncluttered watercolor paintings surrounded by lots of white space, this switcheroo book is a perfect bedtime choice. Preschool-Kindergarten. --Patricia Austin
Here is the book trailer:

Isn't that cute? Well, you can own it! They have been very generous and are giving away four copies of the book! Want to enter? We will do five entries, one per book, plus a bonus. Here is how:

For Your First Entry:
Become a follower of this blog. Then leave a comment. If you are already a follower (the thing where your cute face pops up with all the other cute faces of people following), comment telling me so.

Sample Entry
I am a follower!

For Your Second Entry:
Like this blog on Facebook. Already "like" it? Tell me so. Comment saying you are a fan.
 (FB changed "fan" to "like")

Sample Entry
Hi! I like this blog on Facebook!

For Your Third Entry:
Blog about the giveaway with a link to this post! You need to have a blog in order to blog about it. Once you have posted your blog (any blog will do), leave a comment with a link to the blog.

Sample Entry
I blogged it!

For Your Fourth Entry:
Change your status on Facebook to talk about this blog giveaway with a link to this review. Leave a comment saying you did so.

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For Your Fifth Entry:
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Help Me Out: Gift Ideas For Brayden

Brayden will be five next month! For the first time in his life, he is full of ideas of things he wants, but I wanted to ask you readers if you had good ideas for five year old boys. I have gotten good ideas from y'all for my girls in recent months, so I wanted to check in for this. Thanks!

Toy Storage

I had a question about toy storage and how I do that, so, here is a post on it!


"Are most toys stored in your children's bedrooms or in a more common space like the family room or a playroom?"

In my ideal world, there would be a toy room where most toys were located.  Now, for me this 'ideal' isn't high enough to trump other ideals. We have a 6 bedroom house. Each child has their own room. My husband and I have a room. I have a craft room. And we have an office/guest room. So, if we had a 7th bedroom, it would be a toy room. But we don't...

So, toys are stored bedrooms.

We also have some toys in various other locations. We have some toys in my craft room for McKenna's blanket time. We have a small tote of toys in our family room closet that we can pull out for the family room. We have some fridge toys in the kitchen.

We also have a family room closet with puzzles, games, coloring stuff, etc.


"What about toys that are shared (like a play kitchen or basic blocks)?"

If we had designed the space in this house, there would be a 7th bedroom and it would be a toy room. Brayden's room is ridiculously large. I mean, really big. His room has most of the toys we own in it.

Each girl has some toys in her room. The "baby" toys are in McKenna's room. Kaitlyn has some of her favorite toys and the most "girly" toys in her room. But everything else is in Brayden's room. He has toys in there that are "his," "Kaitlyn's," and "McKenna's"--but I prefer that everyone pretty much think of all toys as everyone's. Anyway, not the point. 85-90% of the toys we own are in Brayden's room.

This actually works out nicely. Brayden and Kaitlyn both typically have independent playtime in Brayden's room (not at the same time). It is nice to have most of the toys in one location for that purpose. It is also nice because the girls' rooms are in a separate part of the house. It is hard to explain exactly, but I can keep that part quiet and people out of it for nap times.

Brayden's room is closer to the main living space. The kids can play and play even with someone napping in the sleeping part of the house.

It is also nice because it keeps most toys in one location. That makes clean-up easier.


Speaking of do you handle toy storage in your home?

The "where" you store your toys is going to be quite unique to your house layout, number of rooms, and number of children. But storage ideas can be applied no matter where the exact location of your toys. Here are some storage solutions I love, complete with pictures of my stuff:


I think this is fairly well-known and often used. A bookcase is a great place to store books :). There are lots of styles available. This bookcase above is a traditional type. We got it at an antique shop.

This one (above) is a more contemporary look. Don't mind it--it is new and not decorated officially yet. This is from IKEA.
In most cases, we aren't big child-proofers here, but we do bolt our bookcases to the wall.

You could also use bookcases to store toys on. Kaitlyn has a bookcase in her room with dolls, her diaper bag, and her Fisher Price House.
You can also put baskets on shelves to hold things. On my IKEA bookshelf, I plan to get a couple of the boxes that fit in the cubes to put hats, gloves, and sunglasses in.
We use various baskets to hold various items.
Here are two miniature crates. The hold some of McKenna's toys. I keep this in the family room storage closet. When she is in the family room and needs toys to play with, we just pull this out.

These aren't toys, but children items. On my IKEA bookshelf, I currently have a few baskets holding sunglasses and hats and gloves, etc. The baskets are getting too small, hence the move to the boxes made specifically for the bookcase. You can see lots of Baskets For Storage on Amazon, as well as many other baskets.
We use lots and lots of totes around here. The other day, my neighbor was going on and on to her sister about how organized I am and how she needs to come see my house so she can see how organized I am. Her sister asked if being organized required lots of totes. I had to laugh.
The tote thing is all my husband. He LOVES totes. He wants a tote for everything. When we first got married, I consented to some totes, but dragged my feet because it can be expensive to own so many totes! But over the years, I have seen the value. You can use totes in many ways.
With totes, you can divide things up into specific categories. Here we have our crayons, colored pencils, markers, etc. in one tote, and our Play Doh in another. When the kids want to play Play Doh, we get the tote out. It is one simple thing to carry and it keeps things organized on the shelf.
Here we have our Wii stuff in a tote. We keep the lid off for easy access, but it is much easier to keep these items together and clean while they are in the tote than if they were just on the shelf. You could accomplish the same thing with a basket.

Here, we have a larger tote holding all of our dress clothes. We might do a cute trunk someday, but we already had this tote.

We have a small tote with a handle on the lid that holds small baby toys. It is handy for taking to relative's homes, camping, traveling, or even just around the house.

We have totes dedicated to categories of toys. Kaitlyn has a tote for her ponies. Brayden has a tote for his cars and trucks. We also store clothes that are too small in totes. They stay clean, dry, and bug free.
Drawers are another great solution to toy storage needs. In general, I don't like drawers for toys as much as totes because they are not as easy to move around as the tote. However, there are situations where they are helpful.
This shows our drawers for our kitchen. It holds dishes and food.
Sterilite 20738006 Clear View Mini 3-Drawer Organizer with White Frame and See-Through Drawers, 6-Pack

You can also do mini drawers that would sit on a shelf, counter, dresser, etc.

Sterilite 17048006 Clear View Storage Drawer with Titanium Insert, 6-Pack, 16-Quart

Or there is the single drawer.
And don't forget about possible extra drawers in a dresser.

In our previous home, the owners before us had remodeled this room pictured below. It had dormers, but they took the dormers out. They then put cupboards along the bottom edge. I loved this for toy storage. It was a great use of that space.

I am a macro cleaner, which means I need the visible area to be clean. I also like my drawers and cupboards organized, but if I can see stuff, it isn't clean to me. For that reason, a toy organizer with bins wouldn't work super-well for me,  but some people love them. I can see that they could make for easy clean up with little ones. 

Kids' Toy Organizer and Storage Bin, Natural

When we moved into our current home, I wanted a cabinet in Brayden's room for toy storage. A toy box could work, but then you just have a ton of toys piled on top of each other. To get a toy out on the bottom, all of the toys must come out.

Little Tikes Giant Toy Chest Blue

Kidcraft makes a darling storage bench that could work well, and would be a good solution to the toy box toys all on top of each other (actually, I want one similar to this in black in my entry way. Then we could put our shoes in there. Or, Kaitlyn has her stuffed animals in a tote at the foot of her bed. It isn't very cute out in the open like that...hmm...):

KidKraft Nantucket Storage Bench
Anyway, I needed cabinet solutions. Luckily, we had this already. This cabinet has served many purposes for us. We used it in a bathroom in a rental that had little bathroom storage. We used it in our kitchen in our previous home as a pantry. Now it is in Brayden's room as major toy storage. I have one similar in my craft room. These things hold a lot of stuff.

Another great thing about cabinets is it is an easy way to rotate toys. If you leave them closed, you child is likely to not think about the toys in there. I always just opened cabinets I wanted the kids to play with, and they did.

Under The Bed

Don't forget to utilize available space under beds. Under Brayden's bed, we have totes with toys in them. Kaitlyn's bed is a toddler bed, so it doesn't really fit anything under there. Back when she wore diapers, we put extra diapers and wipes under it. You can fit all sorts of things under cribs, too. And don't forget your own bed. Under our bed, I fold up and store my blanket. I sleep with an extra quilt because I get cold and my husband gets hot. Back to the macro cleaner, I don't like a blanket on my bed, so I put it under.


We have never had satellite until recently. Our current home can't get local channels reliably, so we ended up getting a satellite, so I now have HGTV. I love to watch House Hunters. As I do, I am often shocked by the reactions to closets--especially in homes on the East coast. There will be one rod in a huge closet and people comment on what good space it is.

My husband and I are space utilizers. Every house we have ever lived in, we have optimized the space in each closet in the house. We get every inch of storage out of it we can. He is an actual rocket scientist, so he engineers everything perfectly. If neither you nor your husband have that capability, I would find someone who you can pay to do it for you! Find someone good. Closets are space meant to store things, why not get every inch out of it you can?

This is Brayden's closet. It just had a rod in it with a shelf above. We added the second shelf in this picture to more easily store blankets, sheets, and quilts without them all falling over whenever you got one down.

This is also in Brayden's closet. Can you believe none of these shelves where here? We added those for great toy storage. We also added more shelves on the other side of the closet for shoes and clothes.

This is our family room closet. This was literally a little tiny room with zero shelves. Zero! There are shelves behind the door, also. We can fit so much in this closet now.

Toy Table

We have a train table we found at a garage sale. It has drawers under it--and they are so worth it. You can store all of your train stuff in them. There are also "activity tables" sold by companies like Melissa & Doug for things other than trains.

Train Table - Honey

I have small children. These children are not really capable of using hangers yet. Nor can they even reach the hangers in the coat closet. Therefore, I am either destined to pick up coats repeatedly for several more years of my life, or I needed to find a solution. Coat hooks. Yes! Coat hooks.

Above: We mounted a wall-mount coat hook rack. This holds coats and snow pants. It can also hold jackets and sun hats in the summer months.

Above: This is the inside of the door to my coat closet.  We bought five three-pronged coat and hat hooks (see photo below) and mounted them to the inside of the door. Each person in our family has a hook for coats, hats, purses, backpacks, etc. I love this. Now my children can put their own coats up.

Liberty Hardware B42305Z-FB-C Hook with Three Flared Prongs, Flat Black


It can be tricky to store your toys outside. You want them safe and dry. We found this Rubbermaid Deck box at Home Depot and thought it would be perfect. We liked it so much, we bought a second, and our neighbors bought one of their own.
Rubbermaid 5E39 Extra Large Deck Box with Seat
So there you have it. There are my toy storage ideas. Please share any toy storage solutions you love!