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McKenna Child Summary: 5.5 Years Old

This is a summary for McKenna for ages 5.25-5.5 years old. She spent two months of summer and one month of school during this range.

Eating was normal here. McKenna eats a lot of food. Her preference on food groups is fruits and vegetables.

Sleeping was good for the summer months. During school, she is still sleeping well, but she is also quite tired during the day. Most (if not all) kids get very tired when they start school. Many will need naps in the afternoons. As the school days went on, McKenna got more and more weepy and emotional as she got more and more tired.

Her ear tubes being out is going well other than the fact that she got an ear infection during the summer. Hopefully she won't get them constantly now that she doesn't have tubes. She has only had it once since getting tubes out. 

McKenna has always been my easy-going child. Pretty much everything rolls off her back. She had no troubles with preschool and loved every minute.

The night before Kindergarten started, however, she broke down into tears because she didn't want to leave me (because she loves me "more than anything but God and Jesus." Melt my heart!). I hadn't ever had a child scared to start Kindergarten. McKenna had been counting down the minutes for the last two years until she could start Kindergarten. She knew her teacher and adored her. She had several friends in her class. It made no sense. 

We read The Kissing Hand and talked about all of the great things about school. It still didn't help. She asked why the mama raccoon didn't just let the baby raccoon stay home. She loved me more than those things at school. Finally I had inspiration to talk to her about how other children would be feeling nervous, also, and to watch for them and help them feel happy. The next day she woke up excited and ready to go. When we got to school, she said, "Bye Mom!" and was ready for me to leave before the bell rang. She has loved it ever since and hasn't had any anxiety. 

I think there were two big things that made her nervous about starting school. One is that she has always said she never wants to grow up and she wants to be a kid forever. Starting Kindergarten is a big step in life toward growing up. The second thing is that on Back-to-School night, they had the assignment of making a new friend. When McKenna approached a girl, she said she already had found a new friend. McKenna felt very sad about that and worried there would be mean kids at school. I am guessing the girl was just a rule follower following instructions to make one new friend. There haven't been problems during school.

McKenna is doing very well in all aspects of school right now. 

So far, she doesn't have a Kindertude. We will see if that lasts.

Swimming update. She is doing so great at lessons! Ever since she got those tubes out, she has been awesome and so good and obedient for her teacher. She has been progressing and passing things off. I really think the tubes were her issue with swimming! She now asks me almost daily if she can go to swimming lessons. 

McKenna's dreams came true and she started piano lessons just before school started. She has been so excited for piano lessons for years. She wants to play like Brayden and Kaitlyn. For the last year, she has been studying her piano books and has been trying to teach herself. She is flying through her piano books. She loves it. It is everything she wished for. 

After starting three kids at age 5, I really, really like it. A lot of people say 7-8 or about second grade. I have loved starting at age 5. They don't have much else going on at that age and can really focus on it. For us, we have half-day school, so that makes it even more desirable. Starting piano has been a really easy transition. 

Here is our typical schedule. Most of this time period was during summer, so here is the school schedule:

7:00 AM--wake up. Eat breakfast. Get ready. Do morning chores. Read scriptures. 
Then free play.
12:00 noon--lunch
Then free play.
1:30 PM--SSR
2:00 PM--IPT 
3:00 PM--free play or rest time depending on the need
5:30 PM--Dinner. Then time with family.
7:00 PM Start getting ready for bed.
8:00 PM--in bed 

More Than Making It Through the Day: 18-24 Months

When I had my first baby, I spent a good portion of the first six months of his life just hanging on there. I was pretty much just trying to make it through each day. If you have read my blog much, you probably know I didn't start Babywise with him from birth and I spent a lot of time feeling like we were playing catch up. I think, also, with that first baby it is just hard. Most of us have never in our lives had something so depend upon us for life. Most of us have never before been so isolated at home all day every day. There is a big learning curve with becoming a mom.

As I got a grip on things, I was able start adding stuff so we were doing more than just making it through each day. As I started writing this blog, I wanted to help other moms do more than just make it through the day, also. I wanted to help moms thrive through their days. And so in 2009 I wrote a series on "More Than Making it Through the Day." I left off at 18 months, and so today I write on more than making it through your day with an 18-24 month old.

I probably lost focus on the series at this stage because it is really one of my favorite stages. Newborn time is hard for me, but toddler time is delightful. Yes, they throw a lot of tantrums, but those tantrums don't bother me. 

These toddlers can be a real challenge. Most are challenging. You want to make sure you don't let any hard work you have put in to this point get lost by giving up a little. A way to make sure you don't lose ground is to set some goals for you and your child during this time period. This is how you do more than just make it through the day. Do not overwhelm yourself with too many goals at once--work on what seems appropriate at the time. Remember, this post is covering six months of your child's life. It doesn't all need to be focused on in one day. Let's talk about major points in the day.

  • Spoons and Forks: If your child is not feeding herself yet with a spoon and/or fork, choose a time to allow your child to practice. Know that it is a messy learning process. Expect and accept it. By 24 months, your child should be able to eat with at least a spoon if you allow it to happen.
  • Food Amounts: Know that your child will likely not eat much, at least at some meals. Toddlers can seem scary in how little they eat at times! Your child will not starve herself. Offer the food, limit snacks between meals, and let her listen to herself when she is full. If you don't allow snacking between meals, she will eat well at meals if she is hungry. I have had some toddlers eat basically a tablespoon of food at meals and some pound in more food than I can. These kids know if they are hungry.
  • Booster Seat: Your toddler will likely want to ditch the high chair and move to a booster seat at the dinner table (at the dinner table; I am not talking the car). This is a fun time because you can free up space in your kitchen!
  • Picky Eaters: Watch for the picky eater being developed during this time. Your toddler is going to get an opinion. Do not start anything you don't want to keep up long-term. Do not make more than one meal. Do not allow your child to refuse all fruits and veggies. I think we are all entitled to like or not like some fruits and veggies, but we should have have some we like, too.
See these posts:
Your child should be down to one nap by now. A couple of mine went to one nap during this time period. 

Many toddlers start to try to add in various delay tactics before naps or bedtime at this age. Don't go into survival mode and try to give your toddler whatever she asks for just so she will go to sleep peacefully. The child will add more and more things over time if you start allowing her to set the routine.

There are things you can add or change. Brinley wanted to change her bedtime song during this time. No biggie. Brinley also wanted to add kisses and hugs to every member of the family. That is a sweet thing to add. But she likes to take it to "I will go give kisses, then once I am in my room, I will insist on hugs, also." We make sure kisses and hugs happen at the same time. She gets one round with the family :). Every one of my children has had a period of delay tactic efforts. This is a normal development in childhood. Brayden and Brinley were much more valiant in their efforts while Kaitlyn and McKenna were more half-hearted. 

Your toddler will likely be in roomtime instead of just a pack and play. Some do this at age 2 or a bit older, but many do it during this range (if not earlier). 

Your child might learn to open doors. Your child might start to "ransack" the room during independent play. You still want to have boundaries and rules on this activity. Do not lose your ground by allowing "anything goes" for independent playtime. 

If you haven't added this to your day yet, do it! It can be done at any age. See these posts for more:

Allow your child some time each day to have some free play where she gets to decide, within reason, what to do. See Free Playtime for more.

If your toddler has siblings, have time each day for her to play with the sibling. You can have this be part of your free time or as a structured activity. When my children were younger, I had sibling play be structured, but with my younger two, their time with siblings has been more free. This is because I can trust the older children to be responsible during playtime. See Structured Playtime With Siblings for more. 

Do some of your chores each day with your child. She will want to do everything you do. This is a powerful age range to lead by example. It is a million times harder to do any task with a toddler in tow, but there are great benefits from letting your toddler tag along. See 

We love to do dates with our kids. This is an age you can start doing "dates" with your child to make sure you get some one-on-one time. If it is just you and your child together most of the time, you don't necessarily need an official date, but do try to have time when you are consciously spending it with your child. This is time when you aren't reading a book, pursuing Pinterest, or checking in on Facebook. This is just you and your child.

Dates with this age group are easy. Going for a walk is a good one. You could plan a date to read book after book together. You can go to the park. These children are very easily pleased :) See 

One-On-One Outings for more.

Your toddler will still be a tandem player at this age. This means that playing is done more in the same room than interactively. This will be especially true if the child being played with is the same age. Children this age are not cooperative beings. 

Right around 18 months, most toddlers grow into a stage of not wanting to share. This is totally normal. A man I know pointed out that a child has to learn to be selfish before he can learn to share. A child isn't sharing if he doesn't feel possession over something. You will need to work with your child on sharing during this age range. Be respectful of your child; sharing doesn't have to mean one child gives up a toy as soon as another child wants it. Your child will like sharing better if realistic, real-life rules are set for sharing.

As you go through each day, spend time together as a whole family. Eat at least one meal together. Do fun things together. Go for walks together. Have fun together as a family.

Bath time can be a fun part of your day. You can add in fun things like bubbles or bath paints. My first three children loved to take baths and would take long ones. Brinley is more of a 10-15 minute bather. I don't stress out about her not wanting to take a long bath. There are plenty of other things we can do in the day.

Spend some time outside each day. Think of things you can do in any weather. Your child might like a balance bike, tricycle, or plasma car at this age range. 

You can have art time in your day. You can think of the broad spectrum of arts. Sing, listen to music, dance, or draw. There are a lot of learning ideas on the internet these days. 

With that in mind, try to work in some learning time each day. For this age range, I find it helpful if you go with what your child is focusing on learning. For example, Brinley has been obsessed with colors for a while now. She was determined to learn her colors. Developmentally, most children learn colors around age 3. I let her have her obsession, however, and we did activities revolving around colors. At first, she bombed the activities. Over time, she got to be very good at her colors and learned them all. 

If your child doesn't have an area of focus, just rotate through different activities you find that are age appropriate. Never forget about good old coloring. It is a great classic and builds fine motor control in the hands.

Don't discount singing fun songs, the ABCs, reading nursery rhymes, and other similar activities as learning moments. Also, look for learning moments in play. Maybe you can count how many socks you put on each day. Maybe you can say the color of the shirt you put on each day. These are simple little things you can do to make your day more than just survival. See these posts for more:

Your toddlers language will explode during this time. Talk to your child often. Talk, talk, talk. Also, be sure to read each day. Reading is huge in helping to build vocabulary. 

Remember your moral training during this time. We are talking self-control, obedience, manners (please, thank you), patience, etc. Teach your child to say "Yes Mom" as much as possible (many do not say sentences yet, so a "yes" or a "mommy" is fine). These are all works in progress; don't expect perfection. I promise the effort to do this young will pay off! See these posts for more:
Remember to have prayers each day. Pray over food. Pray before bed. Your child will just sit with eyes open for a while, but during this age range, your child will start to fold arms or clasp hands. Your child will start to bow her head. Your child might even start to add her own "amen" to the prayer. Lead by example here.

You might enter the world of potty training during this time. Many people claim an 18 month old is easier to potty train than a 24 month old. I like to have the child be eager to potty train before I start it, but many love doing it at 18 months. See these posts for more:

Baby Sign Language Kit {Giveaway}

I was given a sample of this kit in order to review it and tell you about it. All opinions are my own. 

I am a HUGE fan of doing sign language with babies. Oh the tantrums you can divert! I have talked about it in The Screaming Non-Verbal Baby/ToddlerPreventing WhiningControlling the Young TemperLanguage Development, and Sign Language. Sign language is powerful. So I am so excited to bring this giveaway to you today!

The people at have a variety of sign language kits to help you teach your babies sign language. The standard kit they are giving away today includes flash cards, a BSL guide book , a signing dictionary, and a wall chart.

These items are very high quality. I love the guide book because it is over 100 pages long full of instruction on how to teach your baby sign language. It is very comprehensive and helpful! You will love this. It is great for you to have to yourself or to give as a gift. Also, I noticed that right now all of their kits are on sale:

Check their website and blog out. They are both full of information on teaching sign language. It is all very helpful! 

Enter below to win your own kit:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

  • You must enter the giveaway to have an entry.
  • You must fulfill the rules of each entry for each entry to count. If I see the entry is not valid (did not meet entry requirements), I will disqualify your entry. Trust me, I check each winning entry to make sure it was valid.
  • Entries will be accepted until 12:00 midnight October 3, 2014.
  • The winner will be randomly selected through Rafflecopter.
  • The winner will be announced sometime after the winner is chosen. I will email the winner.
  • Once the winner is announced, you will have one week to contact me or another winner will be chosen. Be sure to check back and/or check your email. The only thing worse than not winning is to win but not realize it in time.
  • I will not use your email address for any purpose other than contacting you if you are the winner (and FYI, I don't have access to the email addresses except for the winner)

Living Within Your Means

Today the ladies of the Babywise Friendly Blog Network are all talking about emergency preparedness topics. In the past, I have covered a lot of basics on emergency preparedness. I have talked about Food StorageEmergency Kits for the VehicleLifefolioFood Preserving, and 72 Hour Kit Tips. I have also shared ways to organize with my 72 Hour Kit Free Printables and Emergency Preparedness Binder

Today I want to go into a topic I haven't covered in the past, and that is living within your means. Living within your means is simply spending less money than you make. This is such an interesting topic to me because I think if you sit and discuss it on a logical level, everyone can easily agree that yes, it makes sense to not spend more money than you make. If you spend more than you make, then you will be in a tough spot. You will also end up paying more for things because you will be paying interest on whatever you are buying. 

Then you step away from that conversation and you find yourself living real life. You find that you see something you really want, and you want it now. You think about all the reasons you need it now. You think about how much easier your life will be, how much more enjoyable life will be, or how it will basically not be worth buying it in the future. 

The next thing you know, you have purchased something on credit and you have extended yourself beyond your means. You now have interest to pay. 

We have to learn to control ourselves. We have to be responsible. We have to say, "I will save up my money for that and then buy it."

I like to heed advice to limit what you are willing to go into debt for. These are:
  1. House
  2. Education
  3. Vehicle
Now, with all of those things, you need to apply the term "modest" to each one. A modest home. Do not go into as much debt as the bank is willing to give you. Also, if you need to go into debt for a vehicle, keep it modest. 

So what is the big deal about living within means? Why should we care? Why not live it up?

1-Debt hurts marriages
One of the leading causes of divorce is financial problems. Many studies say it is the number one cause of divorce"According to Jeffrey Dew’s paper titled Bank on it: Thrifty Couples are the Happiest,when a spouse feels the other spends their money foolishly, it increases the likelihood of divorce by 45%" (source here). Anderson points out here that a key word here is "feels." Both members of the partnership need to be on the same page of how money will be spent.

If you have ever been in a lot of debt, you know how taxing that stress of the debt can be on your marriage relationship. Maybe you both are placing too much value on material things and letting it get in between your relationship. Maybe you fight constantly because you are both so stressed out about how to get out of this debt-binding situation. 

It is important for couples to get on the same page financially and to make a plan on how to spend and save money. 

2-You will never make enough money
I just don't think people ever make so much money that they can't spend it all. The more money you get, the more you think about spending it on. Higher incomes will equal larger homes and fancier cars. People in general can't seem to ever be satisfied with what they have.

When we were first married, we made so very little money. We were both students full time who were working part time. We lived in a tiny little thing someone called an apartment (and we believed it). We spent maybe $25 a week on groceries. We rarely ate out. We pinched our pennies in order to get by.

Today, we make a significantly higher amount of money. Neither of us feel, however, happier than we did when we were first married. Yes, we can afford more, but in many ways, we don't have a lot more free income. Our fixed expenses have grown. We live in a house on a good piece of land. We own two vehicles instead of one. We have children to feed and clothe. We have internet service and dish TV. 

Despite making more money, we are not happier nor are we able to buy whatever we want whenever we want to.

I say all of this to convince you that it is worth the discipline it takes to be willing to live within your means. Living out of it will not make you happier. Debt is binding. 

3-Money can work for you
When I was in college, I took a fabulous class called "Personal Finance." My professor stressed the importance of living within your means and saving for your future. She pointed out that money can work for you. Like I said before, debt is binding. It is a "harsh taskmaster." You can, instead, make your money work for you. You can save and invest and let the interest be on your side--coming to you instead of paying for it. If you can discipline yourself to wait to save for something before you buy it, you will find yourself paying less money for it and earning some interest along the way.

4-Letting debt take over is allowing yourself to become indulgent
If you can't be patient for something and save up for it, you feed indulgence within yourself. Learn to distinguish between needs and wants. Do not let yourself go into debt over a want. Don't do it. Spend less than you bring in and put money in savings. 

I know it can be super, super hard to save for what you want. Despite my extremely frugal nature and my husband and I agreeing from the beginning we wouldn't ever go into debt for a want, we have done it from time to time in our marriage. It wasn't fun. We are in a place now where our debt is our home and that is all. It is a very nice place to be. 

Even with having the experience we have, the conversations arise of, "should we just go into debt?" Should we go into debt to get a nicer camp trailer? Should we go into debt to do an addition on our home? Should we go into debt to buy a truck? Should we go into debt to go on vacation?

Happily, these conversations always end in "no" now. It is very satisfying to have a financial goal and reach it. It is much more fun to go on vacation with money you have saved. It is fun as a family to forgo certain treats at the grocery store to help us reach our next financial goal sooner (I seriously love this for shopping with my kids. "If we buy that treat, it will make it that much longer before we can go to Disneyland"--I don't get begged at anymore!). 

If you are not living within your means, I highly encourage you to start. Start paying down that debt. Cut the things you can cut. Save what you can save. You will enjoy more peace. You will be prepared for the difficulties that surely will come. You will have less, but your heart will be more content. It is so worth it.

Be sure to go check out the other BFBN ladies today for more emergency preparedness info!

Here are some resources I have found on Pinterest that are helpful:

Raising Difficult Children

I have noticed in my talking with parents all around, that it seems that every family gets at least one difficult child. Some children put us through "Parenting 101" while some earn us our doctorate in parenting. Sometimes the children are just difficult children. Sometimes the way that we mesh with a certain child makes the raising of that child more difficult. We can wonder why. Why did I get this hard child? What am I doing wrong? Why, despite my best and valiant efforts, is this child difficult?

I love this thought from a grandmother who was pleading with the Lord as to why she was given a grandson who had made some bad choices and was in prison. She had always been faithful and wondered why she had been given this difficult child.

"The answer came to her mind in these words: 'I gave him to you because I knew you could and would love him no matter what he did.'  " (source)

I love this thought. Sometimes we are given difficult children because we are the ones who can love them best. I think we all know amazing people who have had a child stray even though they did everything seemingly right. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, our children will make wrong choices.

Always keep in mind that the Lord knows your abilities and has sent you the children that you can do the most for. He loves them more than you do and wants what is best for them even more than you do. Lean on Him through those difficult moments. Love them and continue forward faithful. 

"I knew you could and would love him no matter what he did."

Related Posts/Blog Labels:

Brinley Toddler Summary {25.5 Months Old}

Many of you saw this on Instagram. Brinley needs to dress just like her sisters do for swimming! So funny to
see this little toddler with a swim cap and goggles. 
This is a summary for Brinley from 25-25.5 Months old.

Sleeping went well here! Everything was great with sleeping.

There was one event one day. Remember a couple of weeks ago how I talked about her ability to undress herself? Well, she decided to undress one day in her crib. This was fortunately at the end of her nap--after she had slept. She took her clothes off. Then she took her diaper off. Then she peed. Nice. She was quite upset by it. She was upset enough that she hasn't repeated the process. Hopefully she won't! She is my first child to ever undress in the crib. I know some of you have horror stories that are much worse. Knock on wood, I hope to never see such a day!

Eating was pretty good. I mentioned last week that she has been eating smaller amounts. Well, she is getting like Kaitlyn was at this age where if she got hungry, she needed food immediately. Blood sugar issues. I don't know if it is related to her eating less or if there is something about them genetically that makes them do that. Brayden had times of eating very little and never had issues with it. If she is having a blood sugar meltdown, I will give her a cracker to get her calm. 

Playing was good. Nothing of interest. 

She became adept at opening doors to the outside. This isn't a thrilling milestone, but fortunately she is well behaved enough she will leave it shut for the most part. I discovered this talent of hers when one day she opened the door to the garage and threw all of her letter magnets out into it while I was working in the kitchen. 

Oh my goodness. She was super, super grumpy during the first week of this period. Super. Whiny. Clingy. Grumpy. I thought I might lose my mind! I wondered if teeth were bothering her. I think it was a cold coming on. I got the cold a short time later and I was in some serious sinus pain the first couple of days! So I think that was it. 


8:45 AM--Wake up/Breakfast
9:15 AM--Get ready
9:30 AM--Walk
10:30 AM--Outside Time
11:00 AM--Independent Playtime
12:15 PM--Lunch
12:45 PM--Learning Activity
1:00 PM--Sibling play with McKenna
1:30 PM--Nap
5:00 PM--Free Playtime
5:30 PM--Dinner
6:00 PM--Family Time
7:30 PM--Get Ready for Bed
8:00 PM--Bedtime

Making Wise Parenting Choices in the Heat of the Moment

You did it. You just said something you regret. You just doled out some punishment you really don't want to see through (or something you literally cannot see through). Ugh.

It happens to us sometimes as parents! We are surprised by some behavior and we respond basically without thinking and we are soon regretting our response (whether we picked a bad punishment, we yelled, we were grumpy, or something else). 

How do we make wise parenting choices in the heat of the moment? 

Take 10 Seconds
You know that advice to count to ten before you respond when you are mad? It is perfectly acceptable to close your eyes, take a deep breath, and count to ten before you respond in any way (of course assuming the situation is safe enough for you to do so). Let yourself cool off. Give yourself a time out if needed! Give yourself some time to get your composure together so you can think. 

You don't need to appear to be some all-knowing being that can respond perfectly in any given moment. Often times, children are hoping for some emotional response from you, so if you can maintain your composure, you will greatly thwart a major goal your child has in the behavior.

During this time, think through the situation. What was misused? Think of a consequence that goes along with the situation.

Think Ahead
Think about what types of consequences you will use in situations. If your child has a consistent behavior problem, think through how you will respond in those situations. Think it through when you are not in the heat of the moment. Think about it in times of non-conflict. Have some standard consequences if your child has you stumped. "You need to go sit on your bed while I think about this situation" is an okay thing to say to your child.

You will have an easier time responding in the moment if you have an idea of your policies before the moment arises. 

Vow Not to Say...
As you are thinking ahead of what you will do, also think about what you will not do. You want to be sure you have banned yourself from certain things. Don't give idle threats you could not and would not ever fulfill (for example, if you hit your sister again, I will bite your fingers off. That isn't getting you anywhere when that hit inevitably comes again--and this is a real-life example I have heard used). 

Also, don't promise things in exchange for better behavior. This starts a pattern and a habit of your child knowing if he or she holds out and is disrespectful and naughty that he can soon be promised a treat of some sort in exchange for his good behavior. 

I find it helpful to read through books on discipline to keep my head in the correct frame of mind for what to say and what not to say. I really like Parenting with Love and Logic for this purpose. I don't necessarily agree with everything I read in that book, but I like a lot of it and he helps me be more ready for those crazy parenting moments. 

Take Time to Think
It is okay to say, "I need a minute to myself. I am going to go sit in the family room and think of a consequence for you. I will let you know when I know." Often times, this is a dreadful situation to the child. You are off dreaming up a consequence while your child frets about what it will be. Sometimes the waiting is more of a punishment to your child that the actual punishment will be. 

Taking time to think gives you time to cool off. It also gives you the opportunity to ask like-minded parents for advice or guidance. You can talk to your spouse about it. If you don't know the right action to take, take time to think it through. You are not required to react at that very moment. Your child will remember the negative behavior in two hours. She remembers a promise for a treat, correct? Children are not dogs. They are far more intelligent. 

You can also ask your child for ideas on what he thinks the punishment should be. Any time I have done this with Brayden or Kaitlyn, they have always come up with a punishment bigger than I would have done. 

Remain Calm
Always remember in your disciplining to remain calm. Keep your personal emotions out of it. Don't take behaviors personally. In your response, remain calm. 

Retract if Needed
Sometimes you will say or do the wrong thing. You are a human and you will make mistakes. When this happens, retract if needed. Go to your child and say, "I was thinking about the consequence I gave you for xyz and I realized it was not appropriate for what you did. I apologize. An appropriate punishment is abc." It is not only okay but it is good for our children to see that we make mistakes sometimes, too. 

Related Posts/Labels

18-24 Month Index

These are posts that I feel are highly pertinent to children in the range of 18-24 months old.


Discipline (see also Discipline Index)
Gear and Toys
Independent Playtime
Learning Time
More Than Making it Through the Day

Playtime (see also "Independent Play" above)
Potty Training

Thumb/Finger Sucking