I cleaned my basement at midnight.

How I organized toddler supplies for less than $10

This was a few nights ago now. And I didn’t clean my whole unfinished basement. Just the part I felt I could control enough to do something about – our toddler supplies.

During the week, I have no spare time. When I say none, I mean I get a half hour prep period during school (today’s was spent on the phone with parents) and a half hour lunch. I leave right after school and relieve the nanny, taking over with the twins until my husband gets home at 5:30. It’s dinner, bath, pjs and bed. Then the chores at 8:00. Anyway. I’m usually done for the day and on my own around 9:00/9:30. That’s when my party gets started and a few nights ago, I celebrated with a Friday night trip to Walmart. I needed a bunch of things, but in addition I left with two storage bins for less than $10. And even at 11:00 pm, I felt motivated. See, my basement was looking like this:

How I organized toddler supplies for less than $10

Just crap everywhere. Holiday decoration bins overflowing and baby gear still hanging around. Here, specifically, was the targeted problem:

How I organized toddler supplies for less than $10

I’m constantly making things and re-purposing containers and purchasing cheap things for sensory bins, crafts and activities. And it all keeps making its way into my basement to be thrown into the pile. While I’m no Pinterest organizer (and I wish I was), this was too much for even my standards. With the two bins from Walmart I suddenly felt like I could manage this and might as well while the motivation was there. I gave myself the goal of being done by midnight and got started.

First, I dumped everything out and surveyed my storage container situation. I had a few bins already plus the two more, so I started to sort. Here’s how I organized 5 bins and a boppy bag.

Bin #1:

How I organized toddler supplies for less than $10

Sensory bin bases. As of now, we pretty much rotate between beans and rice, but I will soon be incorporating epsom salt, pasta, oats, etc. All of these dried bases can be saved and reused (and I wouldn’t have it any other way) but I wasn’t storing them well. They go in gallon bags now, and from there, into this bin. I also have the cheap $4 tablecloths to put underneath the sensory bins.

Bin #2:

How I organized toddler supplies for less than $10

Art supplies. My hot glue gun, pipe cleaners, sharpies, googly eyes, craft sticks, paint, pony beads…etc. You get the idea. There are certain crafts I’ve done where I need these things constantly, so it would be so much easier to just bring up the whole bin!

Bin #3:

How I organized toddler supplies for less than $10Paper, fabric, and felt. This bin’s contents were presenting me with difficulty before I organized it. I have felt coming out my ears right now and so much leftover fabric from my buckle pillows and fabric letters. We use contact paper regularly and the freezer paper is my trick for felt, which I’ll be blogging about soon. I’ve got one side fabric and one side felt, so it now feels much more manageable!

Bin #4:

How I organized toddler supplies for less than $10

The bottom of my storage bin pile – all the extra crap with no home. Specifically, these items tend to be great for sensory play (squeeze and spray bottles, tools) or crafts (egg carton, aprons). I also threw in a few other things I’ve picked up for $1 to save for the future, such as the watering cans and the bug catcher nets.

Bin #5:

How I organized toddler supplies for less than $10This bin sits off to the side, as I don’t use it much but the contents are there for me if necessary! I have a few extra sensory bins and base supplies, such as cotton balls, rice, etc. It’s just nice to have these things off the floor.

How I organized toddler supplies for less than $10

Boppy bag – it zips! We haven’t used a boppy in memory but the bag rocks. In it I have all the objects we’ve put into our sensory bins so far. They are in individual bags as well, so it doubles as a toy bag. I’ve got seasonal objects in there as well as animals, dinosaurs, cars, etc.

When we want to do a sensory bin I’ll know just where to grab the bin, the base ingredient I’m looking for and the objects to go with the base! For example, I might grab black beans and the bugs/snakes bag. Or a green water bin with the plastic dinos. Quick and painless, and everything now has a home.

How I organized toddler supplies for less than $10

Ta-da!! And of course I’ve labeled the bins, because no organization is complete without labels! This was very much on my to-do list and I’m so glad it’s done. And the best part is – I finished at midnight(ish) and only spent $10!

There are some amazing ideas out there for storage of toddler supplies and while this is not my dream way to store things, it works for now. I’ll be keeping an eye out for storage bin sales!

A post for my daughter.

After a long, draining week, I’m re-focusing my thoughts and ready to go. B starts services with EI this week. We’re going to do the Autism eval in a month, so that if he does qualify, he’ll get a lot more services than he will without the label. I’ll be home all summer, ready to be here for all the services, and then when I go back to work, I can choose to go back to just our Birth to 3 plan or keep going wit ASD services.


This adorable little boy has made some wonderful strides since only the initial EI evaluation. My husband and I keep commenting on the growth we’re seeing, just from simple changes we’ve made at home. To see these changes, we had to ignore him. He had to come to us, or at least name what he wanted and say “help”. He now knows, I won’t turn on the light or the fan until he says, “Fan on.” I won’t help him onto the couch until he says, “Couch – help”. It’s amazing. He is saying these words, he’s doing the signs. We’re practicing the signs for happy and angry. His speech pronunciation has improved greatly. He’s almost where he was before the little regression – he says, “Go” and it sounds like go. He says, “Two” and it sounds like two, and not toh, or teh. An added bonus – he plays by himself more than he ever did before, because after ignoring his “eh eh” for a few days, he figured out how to keep himself happy. These changes are just from one initial evaluation – so I’m feeling very optimistic. Optimistic that he can get back on track and be successful in his toddler world. Optimistic that this new development in our lives doesn’t have to continue to suck up all of my brain space.

And because I’m feeling positive and happy, I’m spending the rest of this post dedicated to my daughter, Lil’ C. Funny how things change – when they were infants, C was so fussy all. the. time. B was all smiles and laid-back. I remember my husband saying how guilty he felt that B was getting no attention. Well, the tables turned. I don’t feel too guilty, because C is independent. She’s well-balanced. She’s my damn-near perfect daughter. But I’ve not focused much attention on her recently, because B has been needy.

The day I found out if Baby A and Baby B were boys or girls, I secretly hoped for at least one girl. I come from a long line of very strong mother-daughter relationships, and I knew I needed a daughter in my life. In a perfect world, I’d have one of each, because I wanted a son as well. Baby A was a boy. I felt a rush of excitement and then an immediate plea into the air: Please let Baby B be a girl. Pleaseeee. I held my breath and then couldn’t contain myself when I was told Baby B was in fact a girl. Yes!!

And ever since then, this little one has been a source of such happiness for me. As she grows, I see a bit of myself in her – in her smile, but also in her brain.


She’s a thinker. She’s unbelievably conscientious, always thinking of her brother, or the dogs, or whoever – before herself. She’s positive and happy. She loves everyone and everything – wanting to people watch, kiss babies, hug dogs – etc. I can’t think of a single thing she doesn’t like and will say “no” to, unless she’s just following B’s lead.


She’s thoughtful. When I ask her to go get a washcloth or a bib for herself, she always comes back with two. “B” she’ll say, and hand him the bib she chose for him. She gives him whatever he wants, when she’s done with it. At the “My Gym” class they went to today, while kids were jumping off the walls and getting hung up on every game (or in B’s case, chasing down every orange ball in the place…), C played with one eye on the adult leaders. Was it time to clean up? She’s the first one there, ready to help. Was another child sad? She’s next to them, making sure they’re okay. She follows directions, she likes to please. It’s how I’ve been my whole life and I see that in her.


She’s a daredevil. While B wants his feet firmly planted thank you very much – she wants to do flips, be thrown into the air, go higher and higher in the swing. She seems to like watching big kids do gymnastics and wants to participate. She’s sweet and she laughs constantly. I’d say she’s giggling just as much as she’s talking. She’s just so good-natured.


Never did I think, with my dark brown hair and brown eyes, that I’d have blue-eyed, blond children. The gene is in my husband’s family, so I’m not too surprised, but my husband has brown hair too. And even though she sometimes resembles me, her eyes take me aback every time I capture them in pictures like this:


or like this one, when she was 9 months old, and is one of my favorite pictures of her I’ve ever taken:


I’m just constantly proud of her, in a deep way I can’t even find the words for but I have a feeling moms can relate to. Because if how she is now is any indication of the type of child, teenager, or adult she’ll be, I know I won’t have to worry about her. She’ll make smart choices, she’ll be kind and considerate. She’ll be successful and happy. She’ll have the mother-daughter relationship with me that I’ve dreamed of my entire life, after the one I have had with my mom, and her with her mom. One more generation of sugar-addicted, thoughtful silly girls.


And even though twins have been so exhausting since Day 1, with twists and turns I never saw coming, with a messy house and fur-covered rugs I can’t keep clean – I have been nothing but lucky. For my wonderful husband and the perfect dream I was able to obtain: Children. Healthy children. A boy and girl, both so perfect that my life didn’t really start until they were here.

Getting past the labels.

I can’t thank you enough for the amazingly supportive, thoughtful comments on my last post, regarding our EI evaluation. You all made really valid points, points that kind of brought me back to Earth when my head was starting to drift. Again, my feelings and thoughts are kind of all over the place tonight.

Today, my husband and I met with the evaluators from my state’s Birth to 3 program and set up an IFSP for B. Some of you mentioned that this document, different from an IEP, would really reflect the desires of the parents and that we had complete control over it. You were right. We were asked what WE wanted to see change, and rate those areas in terms of importance. Doing that allowed them to choose which services would be provided and how frequently. I found the whole two hour meeting extremely helpful, precise, and what I needed to proceed with this whole process. I think I’m starting to understand exactly how this is going to work, and that makes me feel better.

But. I’m still not past the labels. There’s no label for B – yet. The evaluators do believe that if he was to take the Autism evaluation right now, he would qualify. AKA – he is demonstrating behaviors and abilities that could be on the spectrum. Specifically, his lack of communication with us, sensory sensitivities, and a few other small things (lack of creative play, lack of interest in other children), sounds like Autism to them. I’m having a hard time wording my thoughts on this. There’s nothing – wrong with Autism. I’m just having a hard time right now taking what was so great about my son and putting it above this looming possibility. Which is crazy – I know. He’s a wonderful child. He’s silly, he’s affectionate and loves to snuggle, he’s enthusiastic to learn.




He’s SMART. I’ve spent so many months in awe of what both of my twins know and how quickly they soak up information. My nanny and I are constantly in talks of how to challenge them next, because they know and can identify, say, and apply all those things that kids this age might know. And then some. And I’ve spent the last few months pursuing my new hobby of finding educational activities that will teach them new things. But now I’m feeling like I need/want to spend time finding activities that will help B “get through” whatever it is he’s struggling with. When I know that’s not how this works.

At the meeting today I came to the realization that B doesn’t know how to play. I know he loves to play, but to him, playing is work. Work is playing. Sorting, stacking, puzzles, sweeping the floor, scooping and pouring, pushing cars, flash cards – those are what he loves. The other day he found a flash card with a picture of a brown square on it and he dug around in the play food for a brown square waffle. He brought them to me, beaming. I loved how he made that connection. And now every time we get those cards out, you can guess which card he searches for. And to him – this is play. But there’s NO creative play whatsoever – no imaginative play. And that’s a goal he’s now going to work on. I’m good with that.

I should be clear – I’m glad we have this program in our lives. I’m glad we could just say, these are our concerns, now please make them your goals. And they listened. But this is only the beginning.

Right now, our plan is to start with the EI services next week. A developmental…something or other will come weekly. Speech once a month. OT once a month. In addition, I’m going to pursue outside OT services, where he will travel to them, not just them to us. This boy loves to be put to work, loves a task, and I think the outpatient OT services would be very beneficial to him. In addition to all that….we are going to have him evaluated for Autism at the end of May. Originally, I wanted to wait a while, to see if the Birth to 3 people and the outside OT would do enough for him to show some significant progress. However, speech and OT at our house once a month is not much at all. If he were to qualify and be diagnosed on the spectrum, the Autism people would take over and his hours of service would dramatically increase. Considering it’s almost summer and I’ll be home every day, it makes sense to have these services crank up while I’m home. And if the evaluators think he might be diagnosed with Autism, then why would I wait for that kind of evaluation?

Well, because then he’d be diagnosed. It’s just a mental leap I need to get over. And I will.

I know he’s young, I know he could be Autistic. Or maybe not. It’s too soon to tell. But to end on a positive note, we have already made changes in the last week and we see a difference. We ignore his “eh, eh” and if he wants us badly enough, he’ll come to us or name what he wants. Sometimes what we assumed was him wanting something (“Couch!”), was actually just him naming what he saw, and we jumped in too soon. Yesterday, he wanted me to turn the fan on. He used to point to it, “eh, eh!”, and I’d say, “Do you want me to turn the fan on?” And he’d say “YEAH!”. Now, after a few days of me ignoring him, he pointed at it and said, “On!”. I waited and then said, “On?” “Yeah!” I then asked, “What is it?” And he said, “FAN!” I repeated, “Fan, ON!” And I turned it on. We might be on to something here.

That Time Birth-3 Came to My House.

I’m back for my second post of the night, Part 2 of my 21 month old B’s story. In Part 1, my husband and I found out that teething can impact a toddler’s speech development, which I was totally clueless about. Unfortunately, even after solving that problem and noticing a slight improvement in B’s speech, his story doesn’t end there and we may be on the cusp of something new. As I did through infertility, a high-risk twin pregnancy, and the newborn and toddler stages, I have turned to the internet for support in areas of concern. These have been topics I don’t know enough about and in the stress of a moment, I want to soak up as much information as I can, so I can do whatever is necessary at home to try and “fix” the problem. So my purpose in sharing these stories here on this blog is in case anyone out there is scouring the corners of the internet for the same reason – to ask questions and find support.

At the recommendation of my pedi (“If you’re really concerned…” he said), I called my state’s Birth-3 program. I was a little nervous in doing so, because calling them meant I had a concern about my child, and I don’t like being concerned about my child. Nevertheless, I called them and the woman I spoke with was very kind and warm – my type of person. I explained to her that I had sought her program out because of a speech regression in my son at 19 months, which Dr. Google said was not good at all. In fact, Dr. Google told me that a speech regression that occurs between 18-20 months might be one sign of autism. The internet also told me that mothers who have autoimmune diseases while pregnant are more likely to give birth to an autistic child. We were 2 for 2. I told the woman that B did have a double ear infection and fluid in his ears, which we believed likely caused the regression, but I still had concerns about a few quirks of B’s. The woman suggested they still come out to my house and do an evaluation, to take a look at those quirks and get a full and complete picture of who B is. The evaluation was free, so I agreed.

What are B’s quirks? I’m a first time mother. I don’t know what’s normal and what’s not. I have a son and a daughter. They are completely opposite. While C nurtures baby dolls, B pushes cars. Some children are calm and easy-going and some are high-maintenance. Some don’t mind getting dirty and some want to stay clean. I just assume(d) that these were normal characteristics of toddlers. And maybe they are, I still don’t know. But B has become very sensory sensitive. He recently was reluctant to touch our shaving cream sensory bin, and doesn’t care for any stringy, crumby, or slimy textures whatsoever. In the last month or two (or is it just noticeable now that the snow is gone?), B has an aversion to touching grass. At first, he stood up using his elbows. Then his palms only, fingers up. B has an aversion to specs of dust, dirt, hair, or crumbs that don’t belong. While eating an egg sandwich, if a piece sticks out, or a crumb is in a weird place, he points to it, fussing, “eh, eh, eh” and I have to take it off for him, or at the least, say, “Wipe your hands on your bib, then.” When his new socks caused a fuzz to stick to his toes, coming off and floating in the bath water, he noticed it right away, again fussing for my husband to take it out. He is not able to problem solve on his own by removing whatever it is he doesn’t like. Where once he didn’t mind spiders and ants, he now makes a sour puss face when he’s close to one, as if they gross him out and give him the shivers. Yes, this was a concern of mine.

B has a few other quirks. He’s madly in love with the color orange. He will play, eat food, and wear other colors, but if given the choice he will seek out orange. Orange socks, orange blocks, orange animals. If we take a walk in the stroller and I say, “Can you hear that airplane, B?” (B LOVES airplanes), he says, “Orange?” I’ll confirm – “You see an orange airplane?”. “YEAH!!!”. Or our newest game, “How many kisses do you want?” “One”, B will say. “Orange”. “One orange kiss?” I’ll ask. “YEAH!!! Neen!” “One green kiss?” “YEAH!!!”. You get the idea. It’s not like he doesn’t know all the other colors or even like them – he does. But he prefers orange and he uses his knowledge of the color in weird situations. Even when he doesn’t actually see the color, he’s thinking of it.

B loves repetitive motion. Many months ago I became a little worried when he started throwing his head back on the couch for fun. He continued to do it every day, only when he was happy and content. Many times, he’d grab two orange blocks and then sit against the couch and slam his head against it. If it ever caused pain, he wouldn’t do it (as he did to the floor during a tantrum once). No, this is happy motion. He loves swings. He loves car rides. He loves jumping in his crib. He loves pushing toy cars and trucks – using his whole body back and forth to do so. Again, I see this as sensory-related.

Finally, he throws fits. Big ones, especially a few months ago but still a few times a week now. He hits, he gets mad and throws things, he whines all the time, constantly, without the words telling us what’s wrong.

So these are a few of his quirks. Birth-3 came to my house today. They did their evaluation. I was hoping they’d say, “No, B’s a normal high-maintenance toddler and there’s nothing to worry about”. That did not happen.

B qualified for Birth-3 services. I’m still wrapping my head around all of it, but from what I understand, here’s what they saw: They saw a child who did not meet the standards in a few areas, one of which was sensory-related (they definitely see the same sensory issues I do). They are concerned about the fact that he doesn’t climb for fun. That he never learned to crawl (though he can now). That he only does these things for practical reasons, like to get up the stairs. That when he meets another child other than C, he takes a look at them and then goes off on his own. He’s not overly interested in other people – he’s interested in things and how they work. Above all else, though, they’re concerned about his communication skills.

Now, I called Birth-3 because of a speech regression, but I was talking about his pronunciation. They saw an issue I wasn’t seeing. I assumed B has plenty of words. The pedi asked me at the 18 month appointment and I couldn’t count his words – it’s probably close to 50. But likely 40 of them are identification words – every letter, color, number and shape. He knows his fruits, his animals, and he can say them out loud. But none of those things are communication. How does B communicate? He whines, cries, “eh, eh”…plus a few words, such as the names of everyone in the house. Birth-3 said he could possibly be on the autism spectrum, something I absolutely dreaded to hear out of plain old fear. We can (and will) request a specific autism evaluation and if he qualifies for that, those people will come to our house every week and take over for Birth-3, as it’s a different program. Next week, we are sitting down with Birth-3 and creating an IFSP, which is the young children’s version of an IEP used in school for special education students. Yes, in a few days I’m creating an “IEP” for my baby, my under-2 little boy. We don’t know yet what exactly he is, or has, or whatever. He’s too young to tell. Even the Birth-3 people said, yes, you can have a sensory issue and not be autistic. Yes, it may just be that he hasn’t been exposed to other kids enough on a regular basis for him to care about interacting with them (true, they’re in my house alone every day during the week). And yes, there are a few things my husband and I were doing that was hindering his development, which when we stop doing those things, he might show improvement.

What are those things we’ve been doing wrong? Well, we were parenting the way we thought was best, and so that wasn’t wrong at all and actually was perfect for C. However, for B’s needs, it wasn’t the right fit. First of all, we both were talking to the twins WAY too much. We’ve always believed it’s important not to use baby talk on toddlers – to talk to them in normal tones using normal words. We speak in complete sentences to them. But for B, there are too many words being spoken to him. The Birth-3 women said it’s too much for him to process. Keep it simple – “fast ball” instead of, “B, look how fast the ball is rolling down the hill!”. Oops. Forget the “please” and “thank you” right now, they said. Just get him to say the content word of whatever he wants. Start there. And above all else – stop talking for him, they said. Oops. B says, “eh, eh, EH” – and to make him happy, to get him to stop crying/whining/screaming we say, “B, what do you want? Do you want this? Do you want that? Would you like to do this and this and this?” UGH (Yes friends – I parent the same way I teach, by talking way too much!). Up until now, all B had to say was yes or no. Pay him less attention, they said. Let him come to us, tap on our shoulder, point, whatever it is – we’re doing all the work for him. Yes, we are. To address his challenges gagging on certain foods and misjudging the size of the pieces in his mouth (an ongoing problem), we were told to start brushing his tongue, insides of cheeks and roof of his mouth so he gets used to feeling objects in those spaces. So we’ve got our homework for the next few weeks until Birth-3 starts their services doing whatever it is they’re going to do. Working on sensory, gross motor, communication, etc.

This post was lengthy and picture-less. It’s more of a vent for me, but perhaps it may help someone else out there. I’m feeling glad that we did this, that we’re getting help for B while he’s young. That I don’t have to stress about how I can “fix” his issues, that someone else is going to come and take that weight off my shoulders and tell me what to do. But I’m also still a little shell-shocked that something isn’t right with one of my children. They’re both so perfect to me that I can’t wrap my brain around something being wrong. So I’m still in denial, hoping that after services and strategies are given to us, B will meet all the standards and go back to just being high-maintenance and that’s it. We will put this behind us and tell him when he’s an adult of the time he needed a little professional help to make him even more perfect.

Speech Regressions & The Ear Connection

DSC_0203I’m straying far from my usual toddler crafts and activities posts, back to my twins and their development. It’s been a while, but for many months I had touched upon B’s increasingly high-maintenance personality and his desire/hatred for certain textures and materials. It was from this need that I started doing sensory bins with the kids, and that’s where my current passion for cheap toddler activities took off. 

The story that’s currently unfolding in my house is quite long, so I’m splitting it into two posts. If I’m in full vent mode, I may just write them both tonight!

When the twins were babies, I had read many times that children will go through regressions as their brains develop and as they learn new skills. For instance, I thought that when a child masters a brand new skill (like sitting up), they might temporarily forget the old skills they have, as this new one takes up all their brain power. It made sense to me, and my twins went through a handful of sleep regressions in their first 1.5 years. I thought nothing of regressions and didn’t give them a second thought. This is why, at 19 months of age, I didn’t worry about B’s slight speech regression.

B & C have a great vocabulary, especially with their knowledge of letters, numbers, shapes, etc. The pronunciation wasn’t always spot on, as is typical, but they would attempt new words and copy me. Around 18-19 months, B’s pronunciation of certain words changed. It was slight, really, but over time more noticeable to myself and those who spent lots of time with him. For example, he used to say the color “blue” as “boo”. But around this time, it started to sound more like “boh”, and then after that, “beh”. He stopped trying to copy new words he hadn’t learned before. There was more pointing at what he wanted, more “eh, eh, EH” to get my attention. I would say, “Oh, would you like ____?” And he’d go “YEAH!” But he wouldn’t try the word himself. (Fast forward to now – he still does this, and when I say, “Say ____”, he says, “No”. Ugh.) But again, I didn’t think anything of it. After talking with a few people who saw him on a regular basis though (family, our nanny), they confirmed that they noticed it too. I decided to call my pediatrician when B was 20 months.

After explaining my observations, the nurse on the phone told me it sounded like B was being “lazy” and was allowing his sister to do the talking for him, since they’re together constantly and her verbal skills are pretty good. I didn’t think the term “lazy” fit young toddlers and I didn’t buy that. Regardless, the nurse gave me the number for our state’s Birth-3 program, which if you don’t know, helps get babies, toddlers, and preschoolers the assistance they need in a variety of areas for whatever concerns are noted. I also was asked by the nurse if we had ever taken B for a hearing check, just in case he may have something wrong with his hearing. I had not ever done it, though it was recommended at 12 months simply because our twins were preemies. I didn’t do it at 12 months because 1) nothing seemed wrong at all and I didn’t want to pay for it (terrible, but true), and 2) the appointment we did make was right when we all had the stomach bug and I cancelled and never rescheduled. Mom of the year over here. The pedi said that since I had not done a hearing check yet, they wanted to send me to a specialist. Before I could do THAT, however, I needed to bring B in to make sure he didn’t have any ear infections.

Before I called Birth-3 and before I went to a hearing specialist, I brought B into the pedi’s office. He was perfectly healthy – no colds, no fevers, no nothing. Imagine my total shock when the pedi said B had a double ear infection and a crap ton of fluid in his ears. I couldn’t believe it. I was asked, “Are B’s molars coming in?” Well yes, yes they were. My easy teethers never had a problem with those front baby teeth, but these two year molars are a different story. Neither of my twins are droolers, but man, they shove their whole fists in their mouths 24/7. Yes, B was teething. Sure enough, I was told that because B’s molars are coming in, he is producing a quart of saliva a night. Laying down flat in a crib, that saliva traveled up to his ears. (The non-scientific explanation.) When it traveled to his ears night after night, it pooled there and built up. And over time, it got infected. Hence, the double ear infection on top of the fluid. I had no idea – he never showed any sign of ear infection and wasn’t sick at all. I actually commented to the pedi, “Perhaps I should’ve brought C in to be checked, as she’s getting molars too!”. The pedi responded, “But she’s not showing a speech regression”. Fair enough – kids are different. We were sent home with antibiotics for the infection and children’s liquid Zyrtec for the fluid.

After he polished off the antibiotics and took the Zyrtec for three weeks, I am more than happy to report that B’s speech has started to progress again. It’s still not back to where it was, but it’s not getting any worse and he is starting to attempt new words again. While we don’t think volume was ever the issue (he could hear us whisper his name across a room), we think he was hearing sounds as one would underwater, all muffled. I have no idea when the fluid started building, but it could’ve been right around 18-19 months, when his speech changed.


We kept the hearing specialist appointment as my pediatrician still wanted us to go. A few days ago, I brought big boy B and a container of puffs, bribing him to be still to get his hearing checked. He was SO good. They put plugs in his ears, sat him (with me) in a dark room and spoke to him through speakers and put headphones on him as well. Those puffs were key and he did a great job.

We sat down with the doctor. B’s hearing is completely normal and perfect. He is also fluid-free at the moment. Interestingly enough, the hearing specialist did not agree with the Zyrtec my pedi told me to give B, as he said no medication really works to clear fluid out of the ears. Fluid should clear on its own in one month’s time. If it does NOT clear in a month, and sticks around for three months or more, that child should get tubes put in his ears. This from the mouth of the doctor. Now – I’m no medical expert, but after three weeks of Zyrtec, B’s fluid is gone. Was that the reason for the drain? Not sure, but if this happens again I’ll probably try it. B has had a handful of ear infections but not quite enough yet for the specialist to recommend tubes. It needs to be monitored, and you can be sure I’ll be asking the pedi to check for fluid on a regular basis. But we were sent home with no new appointment needed.

Now I know – the fact is, speech regressions in toddlers are not normal. Ever. Once a toddler has gained speech, it should not be lost. And if anyone reads this who is noticing a similar regression, it should be mentioned to a doctor right away. That said, before jumping to conclusions as to the cause of a speech regression, check your child’s ears first!! The molars caused the saliva, which caused the fluid build-up, which caused the ear infections, which caused the speech regression. And I had no idea.

This story does not end here, and in fact may just be beginning. Part 2 (about Birth-3) in my next post.

Sensory Bath Sunday: Learning About Weather!

Sensory Bath Sunday: Learning About Weather!

Another Sunday morning, another extra-long bath time! It’s the only time all week I am in charge of bathing the two wiggle worms, so I’ve been enjoying finding fun ways to incorporate some sensory play into it. The mess is contained and will wash right down the drain anyway!

Recently, the twins spent their Sunday baths exploring colors; both with squeeze bottles filled with food coloring and then shaving cream paint. Both of these baths were successful! This time, I incorporated an actual topic into the bath conversation – weather!

At 21 months, the twins don’t know much about weather. Thanks to our wonderful nanny who made awesome weather sensory bottles, they do understand “sun”, “rain”, “clouds”, “snow”, and “wind”. They are just beginning to apply this knowledge to the outside, like when there is snow on the ground or the wind blows their hair. That’s about it, though. So I found this amazing website, Bath Activities for Kids, which has some wonderful and creative activities for a bath tub. There I found the weather bath, which I thought would be perfect for the twins! We did make a few adjustments to her original, as we didn’t jump into the world of tornadoes and other experiments. 🙂 Maybe in a few years…

All I did to create our toddler weather bath was cut the sun, a cloud, raindrops, a lightning bolt, and a rainbow out of foam sheets I already had from the dollar store. Foam rocks because it sticks when wet, and then peels right off to be reused again and again. In addition to cutting out these weather patterns, I used food coloring to turn the bath water a bright blue and then used shaving cream to make some 3-D puffy clouds to float on the surface. The twins were very intrigued when they walked in and got right to exploring.

Sensory Bath Sunday: Learning About Weather!

We discussed what they saw on the wall, and I explained that the raindrops came from the clouds, but I suppose that’s a bit abstract at this point. 🙂 They loved identifying the colors, peeling off the foam and re-sticking it.

Sensory Bath Sunday: Learning About Weather!

B just loved taking down the sun! Then I got out the twins’ play strainer and demonstrated a nice, heavy rainfall. C was really into it and played with the strainer for a long time!

Sensory Bath Sunday: Learning About Weather!After we talked all about the weather, the twins enjoyed swirling the shaving cream clouds into the water and then watching it all go down the drain. Stain-free!

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DIY: Simple Sew Fabric Letters

I have mentioned before that I’ve always wanted to make the twins an alphabet they could hold onto and rearrange by themselves. My original idea, which I started when the babies were infants and I didn’t yet have a sewing machine, was to hand-sew felt letters filled with stuffing. I believe I made two letters before I quit – hand-sewing is just not worth it, and stuffing the letters was a giant pain. I shelved the project for quite a long time, not thinking much of it.

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DIY: Simple Sew Fabric Letters

Recently, after finishing my last big project (the baby blanket bunnies), I scoured the internet looking for my next craft. I stumbled upon an amazing tutorial for making fabric letters. The blogger provided clear pictures and easy-to-follow directions, which seriously helped me in making these letters. I followed her craft to a “T”. After completion, I consider this project a great one for beginning sewers, as the stitches are straight and simple. While it took me a little time (a few nights worth), it wasn’t a massive undertaking by any means and I really enjoyed making them!

So here’s what I did. First, I gathered my materials.

DIY: Simple Sew Fabric Letters

Buying fabric is kind of addicting. (This fabric is super cute, and cheap!)  I only buy what’s on sale, and I purchased the three pieces on the left for under $4 total, for a half a yard each (which was way too much!). I purchased the two solid colors for like $1.50, as they were in the scraps pile. The fabrics on the right were leftovers from my buckle pillows. I had additional fabric donated from a few relatives. The only purchases I really made were the cotton batting and the fabric marker. The batting was $9 (find it HERE!), but I only used about 1/4 of it, and it’s some good quality stuff. I’ll be looking in the future for little projects I can use this with! In addition, the letters look the best when you use pinking shears, which if you don’t know (I didn’t!), they are special scissors that are fabulous for cutting fabric.  This pair is a great deal!

DIY: Simple Sew Fabric Letters

It’s really a straightforward project. I took a night just to cut – you need a top piece of patterned fabric, a bottom piece of solid color fabric, and two squares of cotton batting in the middle. I cut out the letters provided in the tutorial (so helpful!), traced them onto the fabric with a fabric marker, pinned my pieces together and started sewing!

DIY: Simple Sew Fabric Letters

Sewing along the lines was quite easy, as it’s straightforward. Cutting out the inside of a few shapes (A, B, P, D, etc) was slightly trickier and you need a pair of sharp, small scissors.

DIY: Simple Sew Fabric Letters

After the letters were sewn, I took my pinking shears and cut closely around the letters. The scissors added a nice touch! Here’s a finished letter:

DIY: Simple Sew Fabric Letters

I really like the way they came out! This craft could be tailored to boys or girls with various interests, as the fabrics you choose define the way the letters look in the end. I was going for a “nursery” type vibe with most of my colors, but the original tutorial provides a more classic look. The next morning after finishing the letters, I surprised the twins with a new present, and they took to the letters right away; picking them up, excitedly identifying them, and sorting them on a chair.

DIY: Simple Sew Fabric Letters DIY: Simple Sew Fabric LettersThe basket of letters has now made its way into the playroom as a permanent fixture!

DIY: Simple Sew Fabric Letters DIY: Simple Sew Fabric Letters

I got this craft idea out of my system now, but every few weeks I get the itch to start up a new project! I’ve already got my next one, and it’s long-term: FELT! More on that soon…

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Sensory Bath Sunday: DIY Bath Paint

We had ourselves a shaving cream weekend. On Day 1, we played with shaving cream on a cookie sheet as a sort of sensory bin. B wouldn’t touch it, C slathered it all over herself. I considered it a messy success.

On Day 2, I tried shaving cream again, but this time in the bath tub. Best. Decision. Ever. I did it as part of our weekly “Sensory Bath Sundays”. Basically, I’m in charge of Sunday morning baths and because we aren’t typically rushing, I like to do something fun in the tub. Last week, the twins thoroughly enjoyed using squeeze bottles to squirt different colors into their bubble bath. This week, I needed to use up that shaving cream can.

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase using these links, I will receive a percentage of the profits. 

Sensory Bath Sunday: DIY Bath Paint

The ingredients to this DIY Bath Paint are unbelievably simple and cheap, which is how I like it: shaving cream and food coloring – the same as for our sensory bin. I’m loving the neon food coloring I found, and mixed up 3-5 drops of each color into about a cup of shaving cream. I spooned the mixtures into an old muffin tin. This prep took me about five minutes, because I made four colors.

Sensory Bath Sunday: DIY Bath Paint

Sensory Bath Sunday: DIY Bath Paint

Sensory Bath Sunday: DIY Bath Paint

You know you’ve got a successful activity when both toddlers are happily occupied for a good half hour, and it would’ve been longer if I had made more colors. With their wide paintbrushes (similar to THESE), they scooped up the shaving cream and painted the shower walls with it. Again and again and again.

Eventually, C started putting her hands in it and (just like the previous day) started lathering it all over her arms.

Sensory Bath Sunday: DIY Bath Paint

B still wouldn’t put his hands in the shaving cream but he was so content with this activity that he wasn’t paying enough attention to notice if he got it on him accidentally. He was on a mission to paint every inch of the shower wall.

Sensory Bath Sunday: DIY Bath Paint

This simple recipe for bath paint may have just become my new favorite thing. Next time, I could mix up different colors and maybe even different sized brushes. Sure, the water turned a pretty dark and yucky color after a while, but I had to remind myself that it was soap. FYI – I know many children would happily paint the shower walls in an empty tub which might make for an even easier cleanup, but I knew my toddlers wouldn’t climb in unless there was water in there!

Sensory Bath Sunday: DIY Bath Paint

When they had scooped out every inch of paint from the muffin tin, I drained the tub and threw a few cups of water on the wall and we finished our bath. Not a single stain on skin or walls and C was upset it was over! We will absolutely be doing this one again – a huge success!


Easy Shaving Cream Sensory Bin

Easy Shaving Cream Sensory Bin

Even though we enjoy sensory play all the time, I rarely give the twins squishy, slimy, or gooey materials. Mostly because I know they don’t care for them – which is exactly why I need to use them more. In fact, just introducing a bubble bath a few weeks ago was an adventure, even for C who typically doesn’t mind textures. At first, she wouldn’t even put her hands in the water. Now that I add bubbles all the time, they both love them. I know that sensory play is good for my kids, especially as B is turning out to be very cautious and skeptical of certain types of materials. Prior to this weekend, I had gotten away from sensory bins and so I decided to bring them back.

As usual, I wanted this sensory bin to be as cheap as possible and easy to set up and take down. And this time, I wanted it to be messy. Messy play is good play – and if I’m constantly wiping my hands or refusing to touch things or get dirty, I can expect my children to do the same.

One can of shaving cream is enough for multiple activities, and this weekend, we did two (second post coming soon!). This was the first one, and the first time the twins had been exposed to this sort of a texture.

Easy Shaving Cream Sensory Bin

I suppose it wasn’t really a sensory bin; more of a sensory pan (I used a cookie sheet). After spraying the shaving cream all over, I added drops of pink and purple food coloring. I set up some towels on the kitchen floor and added tools, and encouraged the twins to play. I knew they wouldn’t stick their hands in it right away (which was my ultimate goal, for them to touch it), so I invited them to stir it up with spoons first. Both toddlers happily jumped at the chance to stir.

Easy Shaving Cream Sensory Bin

As an added visual, the colors I chose were very soothing as they were swirled around the cookie sheet. It looked very cool!

Easy Shaving Cream Sensory Bin

After a while, I wanted to see if I could get the twins to touch the shaving cream. I drew letters on the cookie sheet with my finger, not jumping up to wash and wipe my hands (thought I wanted to!), letting them see me with the shaving cream just sitting on my fingers. C copied me.

Easy Shaving Cream Sensory Bin

At that point, even she wanted to wipe her hands clean (B wouldn’t even touch it). I told her she could wipe her hands on the towel, and that’s how she started her game of “paint the towel”.

Easy Shaving Cream Sensory Bin

It was around this time that I realized my desire to have them touch shaving cream was going to equal a big mess, but wasn’t that the point? They NEVER touch this sort of thing and I want them to be able to do that without worry or anxiety. So I just let her keep going. B stuck to the spoon and stir method and kept himself mess-free (darn).

Easy Shaving Cream Sensory BinI have always had more success with B using sensory bins than C, but that’s because I typically use dry ingredients or water. This being the first messy, slimy activity, I was surprised to find that C actually LOVES this sort of thing. She just didn’t even know it. The more she got on her hands and clothes, the more she wanted to cover herself in shaving cream.

Easy Shaving Cream Sensory Bin

I really just had to laugh. This was my purpose for doing this activity, so I sometimes had to bite my lip to keep from jumping up and washing her face, her hands, her legs, etc. It all stayed on the towel, for the most part. I do wish B had been able to touch the shaving cream, but unfortunately on this first day, he did not. He did enjoy playing with it, as long as it wasn’t on him. C on the other hand, was covered. Thankfully I had thought to take off her white pants before this started.

Easy Shaving Cream Sensory Bin

When she was all done playing she stood up and then I realized I was going to have a huge mess on my hands if I didn’t act quickly. This clearly couldn’t be cleaned up with a paper towel, so off to the bath she went.

Easy Shaving Cream Sensory Bin

After a quick rinse, she was all clean! I rinsed off the sensory bin tools and threw the towels in the washing machine. That was it! It looked super messy but the clean up was nothing! From this, I learned that we need to get messy more often with these types of textures, and that C actually loves it. Who knew? I’m hoping in time I can get B to at least tolerate it as well.

Here are a few other sensory bins we have tried (and loved) over the past few months:

Sensory Bath Sunday: Squeeze Colors

The Cheapest, Simplest Sensory Bin Ever

Coloring Rice (Sensory Bin)

Dried Beans Sensory Bin

Faux Snow Potato Flakes Sensory Bin

Valentine’s Day Soup Water Sensory Bin

Look for my post on the how-to’s of sensory bins for beginners coming soon!

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Sensory Bath Sunday: Squeeze Colors

Sensory Bath: Squeeze Colors

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Every Sunday morning, I bathe the twins. Typically that’s my husband’s job, as I run around on weeknights and get jammies out and diapers ready. But on Sundays, we take our time for baths and make it fun. Being who I am, I decided it would be even more fun to introduce different sensory activities that the toddlers could do in the tub. It would change every week, but still be simple and cheap, as is my preference. 🙂 So, a few weeks ago we started “Sensory Bath Sundays”. Not every one requires a blog post, as our first bubble bath experience last week was a sensory activity in itself. This week’s, however, was super fun and easy. The twins really enjoyed it so we’ll be sure to do it again soon. We created water colors by squeezing!

Sensory Bath: Squeeze Colors

Long ago, I bought two restaurant-style squeeze bottles at Walmart for a dollar or two. I was glad they were clear (as some aren’t), so the twins could see what colors were inside. For this bath, I used blue and yellow food coloring mixed with water. As I’ve learned, don’t be afraid to use food coloring in the tub. It doesn’t stain in the slightest, even with the blue looking that vibrant. The twins got it all over themselves and again, no stains whatsoever.

Sensory Bath: Squeeze Colors

It took a while for the twins to understand what to do, even after I modeled it many times. The strength they needed in their hands to turn the bottle upside down and then squeeze it took some practice. Both toddlers were extremely engrossed in this activity, though only C really tried to copy me exactly, lifting the bottle up in the air, turning it over, and squeezing. She was more into this sensory activity than probably any other activity we’ve done.

Sensory Bath: Squeeze Colors

She did finally get the hang of it! B also loved this activity, though he mostly let the bottle fall to the side and watched as the drips crept out. They switched between yellow and blue multiple times, and soon enough, we had green water!

Sensory Bath: Squeeze Colors

It was neat to see how one side of the tub’s water with more blue would be a deeper shade of green, while the other side was a lighter hue with all the yellow pouring in. Next time, I’ll switch up the colors!

Sensory Bath: Squeeze Colors

Even as the water drained, the twins loved watching the colors run! I’m very glad we did this one – it couldn’t have been easier and touched upon a multitude of skills!

In this house, we are huge fans of cheap sensory activities. Here are just a few of the others we have done: The cheapest, simplest sensory bin ever, our first colored, scented rice bin, and simple snow ice cream!

As an FYI – I got this idea originally from an amazing sensory website, Growing a Jeweled Rose. She actually had her daughter spray the colored water with a spray bottle, which really soaked into the bubbles right away. Unfortunately, we didn’t have spray bottles, and with the squeeze bottles we used, the bubbles didn’t soak up much color. The water did though, so perhaps next time I’ll just skip the bubbles!