Camping Theme Invitation Now in the Shop!


There’s still plenty of summer left to plan a camping theme party. Start the mood off right with this adorable bulletin board style invitation!

Purchase it now in thelittledabbler Etsy shop!

Listing Image


Through a child’s eyes…


Coloring with my 3-year-old son, he looked at Princess Jasmine’s castle and declared, “Hey, that castle is made of bread!”

Welcome 2016 Changes to the Blog!


2016 Welcome

Happy new year! 2016 will bring some exciting changes to thelittledabbler. This blog will undergo a complete content change. While I will continue to post about parenting and children, I’m going to add a new element in the form of child-friendly entertainment.

If you are a parent of young children who watch YouTube videos, you may have seen Ryan ToysReview and TheEngineeringFamily. These YouTube channels featured two children who open surprise eggs, go on fun adventure, and make-believe. My son (also named Ryan), has become slightly addicted to these two channels. In the spirit of fun, we’re going to start our own series called “Present in the Mail”. Each video will featured Ryan opening packages that “came in the mail” and the fun that ensues!

We hope you’ll join up for this exciting new year!

Best wishes to you and yours!

New Years Resolutions



Welcome 2015

It’s almost New Years!  I couldn’t be any more excited to leave this past year behind and enter into the new.  There were many high points — my business taking off and buying a new house — but there were so many low points that I’d rather leave 2014 behind.

Before we can usher in 2015, it’s traditional to decide on a New Year’s Resolution.  While talking with my friend, The Wise Wife, about keeping my resolution for the first time in 2014, I decided to create a list of doable resolutions and share my tips for those who have never kept a resolution.

ADD to Your Life

The first tip in keeping a resolution is to make it something that adds to your life rather than takes away.  For example, instead of making a resolution to lose weight, make a resolution to add one fresh vegetable or fruit serving to your diet each day.  This way, you won’t feel as though you are depriving yourself and are more likely to stick with the plan.

Don’t Focus On The Bad

By the same token, if you are going to keep a resolution, you need to focus on your good qualities instead of the bad.  If you make a resolution to lose weight, you are focusing on the bad (the weight).  Consider your good qualities or skills and find ways to accentuate them.  Are you an excellent cook?  Challenge your culinary skills by incorporating a vegan or vegetarian meal into your diet once a week. Are you good at working with a team?  Consider volunteering at a food bank or animal shelter twice a month.

Set Realistic Standards

You are NOT going to start jogging after dinner every night.  You are NOT going to deep clean one room a week.  You also are NOT going to rid yourself of all your skinny clothes because you will inevitably burn out, postpone, or find those 10 shirts you just can’t bear to part with.  Pick your resolution and then set realistic time frames, quantities and standards.


Easy Resolution Cheat Sheet


 Still not sure of a resolution?  Here are some DOABLE resolutions.

1.) Volunteer at __________ once a month.

2.) Add family time to your week by eating dinner at the table (NO phones or television) on weeknights.

3.) Add jogging after work for 30 minutes one day a week.

4.) Add organization to your life by buying organizers, then declutter and purge one room once a month.

5.) Add a sense of involvement and fulfillment to your life by donating to your choice charity for every holiday (including Memorial Day, Labor Day, etc.)


The Resolution I Kept


My resolution for 2014 was every time I am asked by an individual, organization, family, or friend to donate to a cause (so long as I don’t have a moral objection to the cause) I will secretly donate.  It was difficult keeping the resolution, especially when we hit financial straights, and I wouldn’t have been able to do it (or keep in secret) without the good fortune of my Etsy shop taking off this year.

Limiting Children’s Screen Time


The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children under two years of age not be exposed to any screen time (source).  While that’s obviously impractical for many reasons — how do you prevent inadvertent watching? — parents need to find the right balance so their children don’t become entirely dependent on technology for entertainment.

Encourage children to put down the technology with these four simple tips:

1.) Playing WITH them with their non-electronic toys.  You’re never too old to make-believe with your child.  Show your child how much fun (even if you have to fake it) it is to play with non-electronic toys that require imaginative play.  When your child comes up with his own story line for make-believe, make a big deal of it and praise him or her for being creative.  This will encourage your child to engage in more creative activities.

2.) Limit screen time.  Get a timer, set it, and stick to it.

3.) Make screen time count by ensuring the programs she is watching and the games she is playing are educational.  Sorry, Spongebob, but you just won’t make the cut.

4.) DO NOT GIVE YOUR CHILDREN SMARTPHONES.  This one irritates me for several reasons, the biggest being the security risk for the child.  No child needs a smartphone.  The excuse that “if my child needs to call me in an emergency” doesn’t excuse all the bells and whistles of a smartphone.  How many times have I taken my toddler to the park and not a single swing was available because a bunch of five-year-olds had their butts planted on the seats, texting away on their smartphones.  How many times have I had to pause pushing my cart at the grocery store to allow a child to pass because he was so engrossed in his smartphone that he wasn’t paying attention to where he was going.  Bottom line, kids don’t need smartphones.

Moving With a Toddler


We were concerned about moving our two-year-old son to a new house.  How would he react?  Would he miss the old house?  Luckily, that wasn’t a problem for us!

Our son loved running around the new house as we installed the new flooring.

My husband and I recently bought our first (and hopefully forever) house.  Moving entailed renting a uHaul and having our parents help us move the 6 years worth of stuff we accumulated, our two-year-old son and all of his stuff, and our three cats.  It was crazy to say the least, and I learned I am an expert at maneuvering a 10 foot box truck.

We had moved two of our three cats before, so we knew how they would react. Those two were understandably apprehensive and hid most of the time.  The other cat, the most easy-going creature you’ll ever meet, took to the new house like he owned it.

What we were most concerned about was moving our two-year-old and how he would react.  Our worries were unfounded, we soon discovered.  He loved the new house!  We had managed to avoid the horror stories of children crying for their old home and not sleeping for the first several weeks by acclimating our son to the new house.

Before we actually closed on the house, we took our son with us to cut the grass (the listing agents hadn’t kept up with it and it was 18 inches high in some parts).  At the end of that long, sweaty day, he threw an absolute tantrum when it was time to leave.  For once, this tantrum was a good sign.  He already wanted to stay at the new house.

Each time we went out to work on the house, we took him with us.  We established which room upstairs would be his playroom and put some of his favorite toys in it, along with some blankets and a pack of diapers.  The key here was familiarity, bringing objects he loved and knew and placing them in the foreign space.  We then allowed him free rein of the house.  Like our cats, he needed to “sniff out” every corner of the house on his own and gather his bearings.  By the time the official move date arrived, he already was begging each day to “go new house”.


Moving A Toddler to a New House Summary

— Introduce the child to the new house several times before the move-in date

— Establish his/her own space in the house (the bedroom, a play room)

— Place toys and familiar objects in the new house for your child to interact with

— Making sure the house is child-proofed, allow your child free rein to “sniff out” every corner

— Talk about the new house with your child every day before the big move


If your child is at the age to move to a toddle bed or start potty training, consider putting these off until after the move.  Your child will already be stressed as it is from the move that he won’t be able to focus fully on learning the new skills.


Love With Food September 2014 Box Review


Last year, I received and reviewed the August and October 2013 Love With Food boxes.  I was underwhelmed with them and canceled my subscription.  Out of the blue, I received an e-mail from Love With Food offering me a free box.  I guess they are trying to win customers back? Anyway, it worked because who’s going to pass up free snacks?

So, here is my non-sponsored and honest review of their September 2014 box.


First Look

The first look was actually very promising.  The box was quite heavy and packed as tight as could be.  I knew from the title of this month’s box, “Spice Up Your Life,” that this box would featured spicy items.  As soon as I opened it, the aroma of all the spice rose up and filled my nose with a wonderful, delightful scent.  I was excited to get eating!


Simply So Sweet Chili Tortilla Chips by Way Better Snacks

Maruso Ghost Soy Sauce by Maruso

These chips were simply amazing. I’m not a fan of salsa or hot things, but these came in just under the spicy radar enough that I gobbled them up without much heat damage to my mouth.  My husband and I want more, but they are quite $$$ pricey at more that $20 for an average sized bag of chips.

I didn’t try the soy sauce because I hate soy sauce.  My husband ate it with some sweet potato tater tots and reports that it is “very good,” “not your average soy sauce,” and is really hot.


Lemon Rosemary Seasoning by Fogg City Spice Co.

Green Superfood by Amazing Grass

We used the spice on a chicken/potato/broccoli dish we found on Pinterest.  Basically, you put some chicken breasts in a glass cake baking dish with some chopped up potatoes, a bunch of frozen broccoli.  Melt a half stick of butter over it, add some spice (usually Montreal Chicken), and cook for 80 minutes at 400 degrees.  This spice was just, okay.  It actually made me a little sick the first time I tried it despite house delicious it smells.

I really wish I would have taken a picture of the Amazing Grass drink mix.  Let me describe how it looked. Warning, put down whatever food you are eating and swallow, because you won’t want anything after this.  Imagine you fed a baby green beans for a week straight, but the baby didn’t poo in that entire time.  At the end of the week, the baby gets diarrhea and it spurts and foams out in a liquid mess with glumps of green goo.  According to my husband, who was the only person brave enough to try it, it tasted just about like that as well.


Hemp Rules Roasted Hempseeds by Ziggy Marley Organics

Rich Chocolate Cookie Thins by Mandy’s

These hempseeds weren’t bad, but the certainly were odd.  They reminded me of eating the partially popped kernels of popcorn, but without the buttery flavor.  They were small little seeds that were super crunchy.  My husband finished them and wasn’t thrilled either.

The cookies, though, were super good!  We had tried chocolate cookie thins in the past from other companies, but those were downright awful, like eating only the black part of an Oreo.  These were surprisingly sweet (there’s glazed sugar on top) and tasty.  I would definitely eat more of these if I had some!


Churro Kettle Corn by Love With Food

It appears Love With Food is trying out a new thing by including products created by them.  If this is their first try at it, they succeeded.  This cinnamon sugar popcorn smelled and tasted soooo good.  I couldn’t wait for my husband to come home from work (I usually wait so he can see everything, too) before jumping in.


5 Spice Dark Chocolate Caramels by Shotwell Candy Co.

We end now with the coupons, pamphlets, and business cards that were in the box and the most disgusting thing I’ve tasted in a long time.  Sorry, Shotwell Candy Co., but these brown wax paper wrapped caramels were so gross, I spit it out and ran to the sink to rinse my mouth.  I’ve never had such a strong reaction to a taste since I was a teenager.  Let me list the ingredients and you’ll see just why these were awful:

Ingredients: pure cane sugar, cream, light corn syrup, butter, dark chocolate, vanilla extract, almond extract, salt, five-spice powder (cinnamon, star anise, anise seed, ginger, clove)

Mind you, these were chocolate caramels with almond extract and a 5-blend of spices.  If you are adventurous, try them, but I highly recommend against it.


 Get Yours Now! 

If you are interested in giving Love With Food a try, click here to sign up and get your first box FREE.

When Teachers Hold Us Back


On 9Gag today, I read a post that was supposedly a father’s response to this note a teacher wrote on his 7-year-old’s assignment.

From 9Gag

From 9Gag

In the response, the father explains how throughout his education experience, he was shot down by teachers who thought he was cheating or trying to suck up simply because he exhibited more intelligence and reasoning ability than the rest of his peers.  You can read the full response here.

Whether this 9Gag post is real or not, it doesn’t matter, because every day higher functioning students DO receive embarrassing reprimands from teachers who don’t know how to address a brilliant student.  As a higher functioning student in my class, I dealt with these very same commands to “hold back” and slow my pace to meet the rest of my peers.  My first memory of this happening was in kindergarten.

When I entered kindergarten, I already knew how all of my ABCs (upper and lower case), how to write them, what sounds they made, and could even spell and read some second-grade level words.  I had even learned to write my name in cursive.  Each week of kindergarten, we learned a new letter: the letter of the week.  I distinctly remember one day deciding to write out my full name on an in-class assignment.  I began:


and then started on my last name:


At this point.  The teacher had come around to my table to monitor our progress.  She took one look at that O and said to me, “Don’t write O’s.  We haven’t learned them yet,” before promptly taking an eraser and obliterating the offending O from my paper.

THAT is the kind of treatment I fear will happen with my son.  He turns two-years-old in a few weeks.  When he was 16-months-old, he knew all of his ABCs, upper and lower case.  You can read about that here.  In fact, he’s sitting here with me as I type this spelling out the words.  He can count to 22 and understands the concepts of counting and numbers.  He knows basic shapes, colors, and can read simple words.  That’s nothing compared to the 10+ word sentences he strings together and babbles throughout the day.

I don’t write this to boast.  Okay…..maybe a little.  I write this to show how truly fearful I am of sending him to public school kindergarten.  Will they recognize his brilliance, or will they herd him with the rest of the sheep?  Will they hold him back or find ways to build upon what he already knows?  Hell, at this point, does he even need kindergarten?

I am certified by my state to teach secondary English, yet here I am writing a blog post about my worries that my potential colleagues and past peers aren’t going to recognize his strengths and implement learning activities to make sure he’s not held back.  If I don’t have faith in the education system, and I’m part of it, I completely understand why the general public has little to no faith.  They have no faith because things that the 9Gag article highlights DO happen EVERY DAY.


Book Recommendations


0-9 Months Old

10-18 Months Old

Choosing the Right Books For Infants (0-18 Months Old)

Language Development: Major Dos and Don’ts of Reading With Baby

Here I answer your language development questions such as: How do babies acquire language? Can I read anything I want to baby?  Why can’t I just talk to baby?  When should I read to baby?  … and much, much more.

Teaching the Alphabet to Toddlers (in 7 Simple Steps)

Top 10 Tips to Help Children Love Reading by Free Little Words