5 Activities That Have Made a Huge Difference in My Toddler's Life

both kids are finally napping and i feel i actually have a second to write! lots on my mind right now and i just wish there were more hours in the day to share everything and do everything i want. i have about a hundred draft posts, but this is one that is weighing near and dear to my heart at the moment. this isn't my typical blog design or nail art post. instead, this one is all about Bronx. usually i keep my family matters to my other more personal, family blog. however, i wanted to share here, in hopes that some other mom out there, who is feeling like me, or has a child like Bronx, will be able to use these ideas and links and know she's not alone!

Bronx is a very active and energetic 2, almost 3-year-old (birthday in July). He's always been go go go, climbing everything, running everywhere, very independent, great motor-skills, and has a crazy-awesome sense of direction. on the other hand, he's never shown a huge interest in reading. i was sad at first, because i LOVE reading, and always loved having my mom read books to me when i was little. but from the time he was little - i'm talking like under a year old - and i would try to sit him on my lap and read to him, he'd just push the book away and want nothing to do with it. i tried not to over-analyze his disinterest in reading, but the older he got, and the more i saw his other little friends loving reading and talking, the more worried i became.

okay so let me clarify a little: Bronx can totally talk. he jabbers on in his own way a ton....it's just...no one but Kevin and I can understand him. haha. sooooo not helpful. he says some words okay, but not like i'm seeing other toddlers his age talk. not a lot of clarity or even interest in learning to talk more. over the past year i had kind of worked with him on learning his shapes and colors, but nothing seemed to be really sticking with him, and he sure as heck didn't want to sing the alphabet. he actually would say: "mom, no!" when i would start to sing it (cue mommy tears and frustration)! throughout all of this, i kept getting reassurances from my parents that "Bronx will learn when he's ready" and "Don't push him too hard or he'll just hate it". all words of advice i greatly appreciated, and of course i do trust my parents (they raised 6 of their own kids, who all turned out just fine!)!

i guess things came to a head one night about a month ago, when i was researching and reading about what a 2-3-year-old should be doing and learning, and Bronx didn't really know any of it. he doesn't know how to count, or say the alphabet, or sing any songs. i am serious when i say that he literally shuts me down when i try to sing to him! (and i try to sing a lot! nooooooo!) he is a mini Kevin. totally opposite of me, who loves singing and reading and yeah, everything artsy. i decided right then that i was going to actively do better to help Bronx learn and grow in ways that were fun for him. i had been really bad at that beforehand...not purposely, but i definitely wasn't trying as hard as i could.

so, thanks to the sharing power of Pinterest, here are 5 activities that have made a huge difference in my toddler's life lately:

1. COLOR MATCHING (ideas found from here and here)








i'm sure you have seen a billion pins and pics of this idea floating all over the internet. and that's because it's a fantastic idea! besides the fact that he's matching colors up, he's also getting dang good at pinching those clothes pins. and yeah, putting it on cardboard makes it a lot more durable and steady for him to hold. i hot-glued everything, and it's been a month and still holding strong.
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here's another color matching game that he can do. totally simple and easy (muffin tin from the dollar store). not to mention: he loves any excuse to play with mommy's "treasures" (aka old beads that had no use).

2. FOAM ALPHABET PUZZLE








when getting the ping-pong balls (for the following activity), i saw these foam letters and snatched them up. at first i started lining them beneath their match, but he now can do almost all of them himself ("w" and "m" are tricky sometimes)!

3. ALPHABET BASKETBALL







hands down his favorite activity. this kid is obsessed with balls and playing and just sports in general, so this little alphabet basketball game was a no-brainer when i stumbled upon it! 26 ping-pong balls, bought from the Dollar Store, and 2 containers (we use whatever we have close by...a laundry basket most times, or empty toy bin!). he picks a ball, i make him look at and say the letter, and then he gets to shoot!

4. ALPHABET MAGNETS



a cookie sheet and magnet letters (dollar store and walmart). seeing Bronx start identifying each letter makes me SO HAPPY. when he plays now, sometimes i even catch him singing random letters! ..."QRS..." is my favorite to hear right now!

5. NUMBERED TOY CAR PARKING LOT


i totally thought this cute little idea would be a hit, but he just isn't into numbers right now. he says them after me, but doesn't care to say them himself yet or want to really match them up. instead, he just tries to squeeze as many cars onto one "parking spot" as he can. haha. i may have to bust out some new activities for numbers for the Bronxinator. we'll see (:

again, these aren't any new ideas that i thought up all myself! there are about a zillion awesome resources for helping toddlers learn their numbers, shapes, colors, letters...you get it. everything on the internet or in books. these just happen to be the 5 activities i picked for Bronx, that have made a huge difference in the past month for him. i can't even tell you how proud i am that he can actually say the alphabet and sing it with me now!

Premade Responsive Blogger Template: Just Sayin





it's Monday and a new template is in the shop! i seriously want to shout how excited i am from the rooftops...or just my little corner of the blogging world, right here. (:

you guys, i'm sure if you've been around for a while you know how i geek-out when i figure out new coding, and in this template i definitely did. the biggest feature is that it is fully RESPONSIVE!!! yeeeessssssss!! i love the clean look that most Wordpress blogs have, and so i researched a lot about responsive HTML and CSS. my brain might very well be fried right now, but it was so worth it. hah! can't wait to start creating more responsive Blogger blogs (and maybe update my older templates??)!

some more sweet features of this new premade template: "Just Sayin", include:

• two column layout
• sticky navbar (navbar stays at the top of the screen as you scroll)
• custom drop menu ( with instructions on how to add in your own links)
• custom hello blurb and image (found at the top of the right sidebar)
• custom search box
• 6 social media icons (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Bloglovin', Instagram, Google+)
• share links (facebook, twitter, pinterest) at the bottom of each post
• customized popular posts, and label gadgets
• instagram gadget (installation instructions included!)
• to-top scrolling icon


if you love it, share it! you can view the live demo hereand purchase here!

*all photography images: Simply Suzy Photography (<<her photography skills blow my mind, and it doesn't hurt that she always has stunning models to work with!) 

*view all my premade templates here or here! 

so over this fog, and my valentine mantle

i was done with the cold the day after Christmas. we don't have snow here, but it is still cold, and it is crazy foggy every morning and evening. and that brings us some overcast skies, aaaaannd i'm over it. i need the sun! the sunshine! the warmth! bring on the bike rides and walks and sprinklers...

okay am i jumping the gun? hah. maybe. part of the reason i'm getting more giddy by the day is that i know spring is around the corner, and putting up my Valentine's decor made me one happy camper. i did it all at the beginning of January. bahaha.


i used and re-strung part of the tassel banner from last year.


^^there's those fun Target mailboxes again! best $1 i've spent maybe ever?


this "love" sign was a fun little project, and those letters totally used to be bright red as of last year. i think i bought them at Michaels? i repainted them a dull yellow, then slapped some modge podge on them, and dumped some glitter all over. they are connected to the board by that sticky-double-sided-foam tape (hows that for a legit description?). this board was actually leftover from this project and i painted it white.


^^oh look! the DIY shelf i told you about! and lots of the same decor re-used from last year :)



so if you've been around for a long time, you might recognize that this used to be a mirror. i bought some chalkboard spray paint at Walmart, and went to town. oh, then i also bought a chalk pen (because WHY have i not been playing with one forever now??!!). over Christmas my sis-in-law had me decorate a chalkboard gift for one of my other sis-in-laws, and yeah, i was freaking out because of how smooth and legit the pen looked on the board. i've known they've been big for a while now, but i guess it just took me actually using one to see what i was missing!

4 Valentine nail ideas + a silhouette file


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the colors:
• new york color: big apple red (#131)
• new york color: french white (#134)
• new york color: mattifying top coat (#274)
• black vinyl heart + black nail tape


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the colors:
• salon perfect: tickled pink (#511)
• new york color: sidewalkers (#270)
• new york color: extra shiny top coat (#271)
• sally hansen nail wraps + white vinyl "love" and chevron pattern + silver nail tape



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 the colors:
• sally girl: crush
• new york color: french white (#134)
• new york color: extra shiny top coat (#271)
• black "xoxo" and "love" vinyl decals + hot pink mini heart vinyl decals

^^my favorite, and what i'm currently wearing!...although i really did love having the 1st option on my nails too...



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the colors:
• orly: goth
• orly: (i pulled off the sticker dangit! but i did two thin base coats of this, then the chunky glitter one...)
• wet n' wild: fergie/glamorous
• hot pink and white mini heart vinyl decals + white "xo" vinyl decals + hot pink strips 


i am SO EXCITED that it's February! my decor has been up all of January, and i've been playing around with some nail ideas for this month of loooooove. i hope you can use one of these, or that it helps you come up with something cuter....and even better? here is the Silhouette file i created so you can recreate the looks and DIY!