holiday gift guide: for the workplace


without further ado, the final gift guide for this holiday season. this is for all your favorite co-workers. even though I might be out of the professional workforce, we still have holiday gifts to shop for mike’s team. it seems a lot of the gifts we receive are focused around alcohol (not complaining), but for that reason we try to stray from that category to make sure people are not inundated with bottles of wine or liquor they might not drink.

  1. mark & graham: anything and everything from here is a great choice. you have tons of options in all different categories and can personalize the gifts which adds a special touch. does your team travel a lot from work? consider one of the leather roll-ups to keep chargers, air pods, etc. all sorted. the possibilities are endless here! if you do want to go the alcohol route, kick it up a notch with one of these adorable wine bags.
  2. entertaining plates: we know the holidays are all about entertaining! I like to give something bought with a little something homemade. we love these plates and dipping bowls from macy’s and bought them for mike’s team members that are married or have families. we’ll make christmas cookies and fill them up!
  3. alphabet cheese board: I love these from pottery barn and they are a steal right now! add a cheese knife and a pretty bow and call it a day! this will be something they use during the holidays and beyond.
  4. holiday plaid mug: similar to the entertaining plates, buy the mug and fill it with something yummy! coffee lover? maybe a gift card to starbucks or a local coffee shop. tea drinker? a favorite loose leaf tea and steeper. not sure? go for a hot cocoa bomb or hot cocoa mix and marshmallows.

some other ideas that I have loved doing in the past: buy a few winter scarves on black friday deal from old navy or gap and tie them around a cozy scented candle. one year i made homemade lasagna in keepsake baking dish (this is because i like to cook, am italian, and had the extra time. don’t think this will be happening this year ha!) also, don’t underestimate the enjoyment of an Amazon gift card, especially this year. that’s what all the under 30/single crowd will be getting on mike’s team! we’ll toss in some cookies too, but we know of all the things they want, they will use this the most.

holiday gift guide: for the grandparents

this one is for all the wonderful grandparents we have in our lives. our own grandparents, but more so for our parents turned grandparents. our favorite thing to do is gift experiences. given the current situation with COVID, we are very limited with the type of experiences we have to choose from. instead, here are a few personalized and heartfelt gifts to spoil the ones who love our littles the most.

  1. minted photo calendar: we did this last year for my in-laws and my parents and it was a huge hit! pack the calendar full of sweet photos of the grandkids from the year and they will be delighted! bonus is you include important dates so they always remember birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, etc.
  2. memory of the year ornament: I love our ornaments from Old World Christmas and Bronner’s too. they make gorgeous glass ornaments and some very unique pieces you can’t find other places. unfortunately, the masked santa is sold out which is perfect for 2020, but think of some other things that are unique to the year for whomever you are buying for. for example, brady is getting a school bus because he LOVES wheels on the bus. landon became obsessed with golf this year, so he’s getting a golf ball ornament. we have done ornaments based on travel or life milestones in the past!
  3. personalized ornament: this will be the 4th year doing this for our families (and ourselves too!). I love looking back at each year’s on our own tree, so I hope they do too. we usually include a family photo on one side and one of just the grandkids on the other.
  4. digital photo frame: this is self explanatory, but I particularly like this one because of it’s style. we share so many photos digitally now and it feels like we never get them printed. resolve the issue with this frame! or resolve it by printing a bunch of favorites and wrapping them under the tree. I can argue digital or old fashioned any day 🙂
  5. something homemade: anything homemade by the grandkids is always a crowd pleaser. look on pinterest for ideas! we have done little canvas “mistletoes” and handprint ornaments. I really need to step up my game again without school helping with ideas!

holiday gift guide: for the developing toddler


gift guide number 2: the developing toddler. I put brady in this category at 23 months, however, most of these gifts are great starting at just 6 months of age. they can easily grow with your child well into years 3 and 4. believe me, landon plays with more of “brady’s toys” than his own…

  1. the nugget comfort: I recommended this for the active toddler, but also for your developing toddler. this transformer of couches can make a variety of obstacle courses specifically directed toward gross motor development. heck, add a mirror and you even have a great spot for tummy time in those early, early days.
  2. YBike: this is another great toy to encourage gross motor development. you can encourage standing, pushing/walking like other push toys, riding and striding, etc.
  3. melissa & doug poke-a-dot books: have a child who actually does not like reading? I do. one that loves to read and another that hates books… so here is your solution to getting some interest in books. these books (in a variety of themes) have little finger poppers (think: the packaging bubble wrap) that your child can point and push to create a POP sound. both of my boys love this book! it’s also great for fine motor development – specifically index finger isolation to encourage pointing!
  4. fat brain spinagain stack: another multipurpose toy, this spin again stacking toy. first off, it’s entertaining for your child. win. second, it’s a great fine motor tool, but also think about it for speech development with offering choices between two of the stackers or describing the colors. third, use it for gross motor development by putting it higher up and encourage reaching or standing!
  5. stringing beads: we like these with our OT specifically because of the size (don’t have to worry about choking hazards) of the beads and also the skill level. this is obviously more geared toward fine motor skills, but use the cars (aka beads) to encourage speech development with “beep beep” and “vroom” noises.
  6. fine motor hedgehog: it’s exactly as described – a fine motor toy. much like your typical shape sorter, this fun little guy lets your child place the spikes into the slots. brady loves this guy with his OT and I know the grandparents already bought this one for christmas! win!
  7. fat brain duo dimpl: I can recommend every fat brain toy for every child, they are so great! but this one was a surprise favorite from last year’s christmas (thanks babci and papa!). another great finger isolation tool, but also speech tool. not to mention, very entertaining for your child. brady can play with this independently for 20 minutes! I am adding the simple dimpl to my cart as we speak for a great stroller and car toy for him!
  8. lovevery playkits: this is a subscription service that provides playkits based on your child’s age. the toy I am most excited about for brady comes in the babbler kit for 13 month olds. it’s a ball popper that is taller, but also has a peek-a-boo box at the bottom to catch the balls and encourage other skills. I am currently trying to adjust the age range kit I can order for brady to match his developmental stage (I’ll keep y’all posted), but this is a great gift and ongoing gift for your child or a friend who is expecting!
  9. stacking wood blocks: good old fashioned stacking wood blocks. we have a slightly different set, but this would be fun for kids of all ages. think about the stacking skills, counting, color matching, and shape sorting you can encourage! not to mention cause and effect with stacking and knocking down! brady’s favorite thing to do with these is to knock down all the towers landon builds and help put the blocks away (he really loves putting things in bags or buckets)!

that’s it for toy recommendations this year! I shared a few bonus toys in my instagram stories, so make sure you are following me there too. next up, grandparent and co-worker gifts.

holiday gift guide: for the active toddler


here it is. the first of four gift guides for this holiday season. everything in this gift guide we either have and love or are planning to get for landon this christmas. landon is our ACTIVE toddler, and I mean active. he can play outside all day long and still have the energy to run laps around our kitchen after dinner. we are always looking for more ways to help him expend all of his energy.

  1. the nugget: I recommended this last year and will continue to do so. we make climbing courses, obstacle courses, crash pads, tunnels, dance stages, etc. it’s such an open ended “toy.” buy some felt and cut out shapes to stick to the fabric to use as an art board. really, you can do anything with this!
  2. over the door basketball hoop: you know this is a favorite in our house. we have two! one stays in landon’s room and is the perfect thing to keep him occupied while I am getting dressed or when he wakes up too early in the morning. we also use this for Brady on the back of a kitchen chair to encourage standing!
  3. little tikes indoor trampoline: this is on our list this year. with the weather turning cold, we need more and more ways to make indoor play both fun and exhausting!
  4. micro kickboard scooter: we got landon a different (cheaper) brand scooter and it was the pits. it wouldn’t glide over the smallest bumps or cracks outside and we were constantly worried that landon would bite it. learn from my mistake and splurge on this one. it will last and actually be something they can safely ride! don’t forget to throw in the helmet 🙂
  5. balance bike: this is the ONE thing landon has been asking for from Santa, a new bike. we have decided to go with this particular balance bike that can also transform into a two wheel bike with pedals. we anticipate it will take some time for him to understand the balance bike aspect, but hoping that shortly after that he will be ready for pedals!
  6. leaf blower bubble machine: two reasons we love this – first, because it mimics what daddy does daily in the fall. second, it’s the best bubble machine. my brother gifted once similar to this from target for his birthday and both boys (plus all the neighbor kids) are obsessed.
  7. ride on motorized car: if you watch my instagram stories, then you know landon loves to drive brady around in this. when we were looking for a big birthday gift from the grandparents, this immediately came to mind. it comes with a remote for parents to use (read: intervene) with when necessary. now that landon has the hang of things, we really don’t have a need for the remote. what makes this one great is the power and two seats!

surviving COVID-19 social distancing with toddlers

a couple days ago, i posted to instagram sharing our daily “schedule” during this interesting time we are living in. surprisingly, i got a lot of responses and “thanks” for sharing what is working in our home. i thought it might be best to let this live on the internet forever on the blog. nothing directly brady related or down syndrome related, but related to CAMPIRR life these days…

full disclosure, we do not follow this strictly. sometimes the tv time category is doubled or tripled in any given day (keeping real people), but this gives us/me a good framework to keep things interesting and different when we are stuck within the four walls of our homes and yards. also, if you have toddlers, you know how laughable a “schedule of activities” really is… unless you see them at school, and then you wonder, “how do they get him to sit still and listen like that?” i swear they must put something in the water 😉

please leave a comment with other fun activities that are a hit with your kids! we are always looking for something new to incorporate into the day to break up the monotony!

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brady’s nursery reveal

another LONG overdue post. brady is officially 13 months old, so what better time than now to share his nursery ha!

brady’s room was one of the very first rooms completed in our new home when we moved to georgia. it was a fun project and labor of love (just ask my mom how the wallpaper hanging went)! i am incredibly proud of it and really feel like this room can grow with him for years to come.

my inspiration was this dresser from crate and kids, but in an effort to not break the bank, i refinished an ikea dresser and the room just blossomed from there. listen, don’t get me wrong, i like expensive things. i do. i have a knack of picking the more expensive option if given the choice between two similar items. however, i LOVE a good deal and getting the same look for less and spend where it makes the most sense.

note: the curtains are a dark, deep green not black (it’s hard to get the true color in the pictures).

if you care to know where things are from, i added sources at the end of the post.

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here are some cute little details around his room. ps i couldn’t let his adorable helmet go to waste! good thing it matched the color scheme perfectly!

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sources:

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one YEAR update

in typical fashion, i have neglected the blog posts. between mike’s travel schedule, brady’s appointments, landon’s most epic 4 month long sleep regression, and the holidays, i just couldn’t get myself to stay up to write posts. not kidding, we were going to sleep at 9 every night….

here i am at 7:30 pm writing brady’s one year update almost a month late. whoop whoop!

first, let’s just get this out of the way – BRADY IS ONE YEAR OLD. how????? i don’t know, but mike would say it’s felt every bit of one year, ha!

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in the last few months, brady has changed a lot. physically, he has gone from just starting to push up to sitting, to CONSTANTLY pushing up to sitting. it’s both adorable and frustrating when you are trying to change diapers, get him dressed or work on trying to crawl. the kid wants nothing to do with being on his tummy anymore! he’s started to army crawl and can pretty much get anywhere he wants to go with a lot of rolling involved!

if you follow us on instagram, then you know the rollercoaster that is brady’s feeding journey. brady has feeding therapy once a week and it’s by far our biggest challenge. we take a few steps forward and a few back. feeding is more challenging to see progress and sometimes this momma needs that progress to keep it up. however, he has definitely made progress in the last few months. brady is moving on from purees to soft solids. he’s showing interest and is not gagging or choking as often as he was before. this is huge! i pray he can continue to make strides in the right direction with this all.

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speech is also a major challenge for brady. speech therapy is something that will be in his life forever. brady is not babbling much and does not have any words just yet, but he’s vocal, loves to “talk” and makes his voice heard when he wants to.

in other news, i officially sent in brady’s katie beckett (medicaid) application and we are praying and praying for an approval soon. we hit a small bump in the road and the medical review team requested more paperwork. our hope is the updated paperwork is the final piece to the puzzle and we can get an approval! this is incredible important for this calendar year because the number of therapy visits brady gets per year, will not be enough. after those visits are used, it will be up to us to pay for everything totally out-of-pocket. with katie beckett, medicaid will take over those overages when we reach our private insurance limit.

holiday gift guide: 5 gifts for the developing baby

i’m back with another gift guide, this time with ideas of what to buy for the young babies and toddlers that are both fun, but also strategic. i say strategic because they are fun enough that they won’t know they are actually working on their fine motor or gross motor development. most of these are based off of recommendations from our PT and OT…

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  1. fisher price laugh & learn piggy bank: i will start by saying, we do not have this (yet), but brady AND landon love to play with it when our OT comes to the house. there are two versions and this is the one she recommends most. the reason being is that this one is less complicated for the littlest of hands and minds, yet open ended enough that it will grow with your baby into toddlerhood. initially you are developing fine motor skills and an understanding of cause and effect. then as they master entering the coins into the piggy bank, you can work on counting, color matching, sorting, etc. see how it can work for years with your kids?
  2. fisher price sit-me-up: we have this one in the owl theme for brady and it has been my new favorite seat. this seat isn’t as long lasting BUT it works early when you are working on head and neck control. ever have the baby that is sick of tummy time or lying on their back, yet can sit totally unsupported? we did! and i wish we had it with landon too. it’s more supportive, comfortable and entertaining for the babes!
  3. kinetic sand: i love the idea of a sensory bin, yet hate the idea of the clean up and managing that comes with it until they learn the “rules.” if you want to start easy, this one is a good option. kinetic sand is a breeze to clean up, fun to play with, and provides tons of sensory input. landon can sit and roll balls or make shapes without much need for intervention. most of the time i plop a gathre mat under the bin just in case, but 99% of the time i can easily clean up the spilt chunks off the carpet.
  4. peg board: this one is another OT favorite for fine motor development and open ended toy. this is a great tool for brady at the current moment in his development, but it’s a fun toy for landon too. he loves building the towers with the pegs and doesn’t know he is actually mastering some fine motor skills without knowing it.
  5. the nugget: before i get started on this one, let me preface this with saying you will NOT have it in time for christmas. the demand is so high right now and they are completely out-of-stock. we are still waiting to snag one (i should have ordered it a month ago, but hesitated because i didn’t want to store it for that long and now i am kicking myself. as soon as it is back in stock, you better believe this is coming to our house. this is the big gift for both boys. why? for brady, he needs different surfaces to encourage crawling and to help with that gross motor development. for landon, he LOVES to crash and burn. now he can have a safe place to do it. this will grow with them for YEARS. forts, imaginative play, jungle gym, flips, etc. and when not in play time use, it’s a couch for reading, movies, homework and more. catch my drift here? we cannot wait to have this!

 

holiday gift guide: 5 gifts for the expectant mom

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i get messages all the time asking where i found this or that. or saying, “wow, that’s something i could really use!” so i thought, why not share with you my most used and loved items as gift guides. with black friday around the corner, it’s the perfect time to pick up a few gifts for the ones you love. full disclosure, i do not get paid for any of this, just sharing things i love, use daily and truly believe in.

let’s start with 5 gifts for the expectant mom. my hope is that you might find something for an expectant mom or new mom that she might not have thought of before!

  1. gathre mat: if you follow my instagram then you know i am pretty obsessed with these. we have one in the car for on the go, two for under the high chair or playing with messy things in the playroom, and one that can double as both a placemat or changing mat. the mats are made of bonded leather, fold pretty small, wipe clean with soap and water, and are BEAUTIFUL. wins all around. use at the park, under painting, playdough, kids eating, etc. the uses are endless! their black friday sale is live now until 11/25 so GO NOW!
  2. summer infant my bath seat: okay, this is a recent purchase of mine. when mike is traveling and i am solo with both kids for nighttime routine, this is my lifesaver. i can bathe both boys at the same time (which they love) and not be a nervous wreck about someone getting hurt while in the tub. it’s also perfect for the kiddos that are not quite stable enough to sit in the tub solo but has outgrown the baby bath tub. scoop one up at buybuybaby with a 20% off coupon!
  3. lou lou and company: anything from here is amazing! our BIL and SIL gifted brady with the sweetest blanket, newborn gown, hat and mittens. the fabric is like BUTTER. it was by far one of my favorite things to put him in during those early weeks. and the hat actually fit his tiny head! mittens that actually stay on are hard to find and these were so cozy and did the job. they have new deals daily for black friday, so sign up for their emails!
  4. hatch baby rest +: this is a game changer. sound machine, okay to wake light, night light, clock AND audio monitor in one. that’s crazy! we have original model and i wish we had the plus so we could get rid of one more gadget in landon’s room. the custom colors and sounds are awesome. landon is also waiting until his light turns green to get out of his bed which is a major win these days.
  5. hatch baby grow: i know i said the hatch baby rest is a game changer, but so is the hatch baby grow. with a new baby comes the pressure to gain weight. it doesn’t matter how you choose to feed your baby, pediatricians want to see that number on the scale go up. enter the need for the hatch baby grow. skip the co-pay and germy doctor office for a weight check and do it at home with this changing pad/scale all in one. for the nursing moms, you can do “weighted feeds” to track how many ounces they are taking at the breast. that is HUGE. no more renting a scale from the hospital or seeing LC for weighted feeds, you can now do it all in the comfort of your home. bonus, the changing pad is wipe clean (hello less laundry). the app that accompanies the scale is great for tracking feeds, diapers, weight, naps, etc. and easily shared between you and your partner. i wish i had this with landon.

my other online/holiday shopping tip – use Rakuten (formerly ebates). i do all of my online shopping through Rakuten and earn cash back on things i am already buying. they send your cash back through paypal quarterly. it’s legit and money back on stuff i was already buying.

questions about any of these products? leave a comment or come visit my instagram to see them in use.

up next – holiday gift guide for the developing baby

monthly update: eight months

brady is officially eight months old (plus eleven days, because life) and i am starting to freak out. we are closer to him turning one than him being born and it’s really starting to hit me. this month was a big one in some ways (heart surgery), but also a slow one because we were waiting for surgery, had surgery and were recovering from surgery.

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brady started sitting up unsupported (he still splats occasionally) and more importantly, he had his heart repaired!!!! he has a WHOLE heart and my heart couldn’t be happier for him.

heart surgery was a big hurdle and one we are happy to have behind us. i can’t wait to share that story with you soon. brady rocked it and rebounded even stronger than he was before.

during this month, brady found his feet and cannot stop playing with them all the time. it might be the cutest thing ever. he also expanded his solids palate and likes mostly everything. we should have feeding therapy set up within the next month and see how he continues to progress in the solids world.

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landon and brady continue to be best buds. seeing landon love on brady and miss him when he’s napping is the sweetest. to think i was so worried about their bond before brady was born…. silly me.

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the biggest milestone for me during brady’s eighth month…i stopped pumping so much. heck yes!! stay tuned for more of this in his nine month update.