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Toddler Gift Guide

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! And if you’re like me then you like to get your Christmas shopping done early! So I’ve decided to make life a little easier for those of you with nieces, nephews, cousins, etc who are toddlers (particularly ages 1-2) and you’re not quite sure what to get them. I have found these items to be quite educational, stimulating and enjoyable for my daughter so I figured I would share 🙂

1) Books- So if you’ve been following my blog or IG (@justmommyingja), it’s no secret that Issy and I are very serious about story time. My blog post “Todder Book Recommendations” is a great guide to find the perfect set of books which can be given as a gift.

2) Puzzles are an excellent way of bonding with kids and also help with their problem solving skills and building their confidence once they master it. Our favourite puzzles right now is her personalized name puzzle and her baby shark puzzle. The name puzzle has helped her with identifying letters; you can purchase one similar to this from @craftedbyy.

Like most toddlers, my daughter is obsessed with baby shark so as soon as I saw this one at @fontanapharmacy I grabbed it up right away! Once your child places the shark in its spot it starts to sing the baby shark song which is pretty cool!

I got this set of puzzles from Amazon and I typically would place some of the pieces in and leave some empty for her to put in since she hasn’t quite mastered it just yet.

https://www.amazon.com/MAGIFIRE-Learning-Educational-Friendly-Montessori/dp/B07V1RJSFQ/ref=mp_s_a_1_9?dchild=1&keywords=puzzles+for+toddlers+1-2+years&qid=1604454633&sprefix=puzzles+for+tod&sr=8-9


3) Shape sorter Toy – When Isabel got this as gift for her 1st birthday, she wasn’t able to place any of the shapes correctly but after doing it consistently every day, she got better and better at it. Until one day (I can’t even recall when exactly) she was able to do it so quickly all by herself and I was so impressed! This toy has helped her to learn both shapes and colours. At first, she would call all the shapes “circle” but just recently she has been able to correctly identify square and triangle as well. This toy has proven that as with everything in life, practice makes perfect!

4) Building blocks – This is a great way in getting parents and other adults (and also kids with other kids) involved in play time with kids as you both work together in building something. For now, Issy and I build towers but I’m sure her creations will become more and more complex as she gets older. It also gives her an opportunity to exercise her imagination and creativity.

5) Stacking Toys- There are so many different types but we have the one pictured below. She loves stacking the rings on the elephant’s trunk and hearing the music that goes along with it.

https://www.amazon.com/LeapFrog-80-600300-Stack-Tumble-Elephant/dp/B06XKD8M1R/ref=mp_s_a_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=elephant+ring+stacker+toy&qid=1604454715&sr=8-3

6) Tea Set- These make a great gift for little girls. I was kinda surprised at how into it she was and it was quite interesting to observe her as she would pour tea into the cup, stir with her spoon and then drink the imaginary tea LOL. And then of course she would offer her mommy and daddy some to drink as well 🙂

https://www.amazon.com/Fisher-Price-Laugh-Learn-Sweet-Manners/dp/B07PBF5BLR/ref=mp_s_a_1_6?dchild=1&keywords=tea+set+for+little+girls&qid=1604454794&sprefix=tea+set+for&sr=8-6

7) Sprinkler splash pad- It’s always good to get some outside play time and if the child loves water like mine then they will absolutely love this! Good luck trying to get them off of it!

So there you have it! My top gift ideas for toddlers (ages 1-2) right at your fingertips. I hope you find these helpful and as always moms of toddlers, please feel free to add your suggestions in the comments!


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Two Under Two: Surviving, not yet Thriving

Written by guest writer and my dear friend: Nadia White

First, I must say that I’m honored to be writing for Just Mommying JA! Ash and I have been good friends since meeting at Freshman Orientation at Rollins College (15 years ago, like wow). We’ve remained close despite living in different countries. Throughout our friendship we’ve gone through so many milestones together – love, marriage and then the baby carriage. We had the unique experience of being pregnant at the same exact time, our due dates were a week apart. We both welcomed beautiful baby girls – Isabel and Suri 12 days apart at the end of 2018. Everything was going exactly according to plan.


So I’m a planner I constantly have to-do lists and calendars revolving in my head. In October of last year, our baby girl Suri was 9 months, she was just so much fun crawling around saying a few words – mostly Dada and sometimes Mama. My Husband, Chris and I felt like we had this parenting thing in the bag. I was finally able to catch up on all my Property Management work, Suri had a great routine, we had no complaints. I don’t remember the exact date, but it was few days after I missed my period (very blessed to have a regular 28-day cycle). I hesitantly took a pregnancy test and there were two pink lines (POSITIVE). My first reaction, truthfully was just SHOCK. I walked into Chris’ bathroom to show him the test, he was like “Congrat-ula-tions”…He too was in shock. So many thoughts are going through my head, I’m still breastfeeding, like isn’t that a form of contraceptive? How did this happen? I know so many women struggle with infertility and of course I can empathize with them. Children are blessings from God, but we weren’t expecting this blessing so soon. After a few weeks of like really wrapping my head around this and how it would change the dynamic of our family, I then became very excited and could fully embrace this pregnancy!


There were a few things I needed to implement in order to make this transition smooth. Weaning – Suri at the time was still breastfeeding and she never took a bottle like ever. It was going to be a hard task introducing her to a bottle, but I knew I needed to start weaning her. So after her first birthday, I started replacing the morning feedings and night feedings with a bottle of Soy Formula. It was certainly met with resistance for the first few weeks, but eventually she loved the bottle. It was hard during the first trimester nursing while having morning sickness. I was gradually replacing feedings with a bottle. Then in February when Suri was 14 months, I stopped breastfeeding cold turkey. I knew if I didn’t just stop, I would end up having two babies on the boob.

Sleep Training – So we co-slept, it was perfect for night nursing and we loved her being so close. But after being pregnant for 4 months and already struggling to sleep, it didn’t help having her cute little feet literally in my face and or side all night. Poor Chris slept on the like edge of the bed, because Suri slept horizontally. I eventually bit the bullet and sleep-trained her, with the help and encouragement of my mom friends. I also read several blogs and books on sleep training, the book “Moms on Call:0-6 Months” was a great resource. After lots of tears, we finally got sweet little Suri into her crib in her room. Potty Training – That was a bust and we’re still changing her diapers. You win some, you lose some.


The months after finally weaning Suri and getting her on a sleep schedule, we were finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. We just couldn’t wait to meet Baby X (as we affectionally called my growing tummy, we also were doing a gender surprise like we did with Suri). This pregnancy wasn’t as easy as it was the first time. Because my pregnancies were so close together, my body didn’t properly heal. I just finished pelvic floor rehab due to having a second-degree tear after delivering Suri. I didn’t have any core strength and felt it when carrying Baby X, especially in my lower back. Despite the physical toll on my body, I had to keep pushing because I still had a very demanding toddler. Then Corona hit, the world closed around us, Racial tensions at a high in the United States, I was emotionally and physically taxed by the end of the pregnancy. But on June 26th we welcomed the most perfect baby boy – Christopher Charles White II (we call him CJ), it was all worth it. The first two weeks were baby bliss, my Mommy was staying with us taking care of Suri, cooking meals and I just got to enjoy time with my yummy baby boy. Suri welcomed her baby brother with just open arms literally, she still tries to hold him. Then without notice, my mom was called back to work. So here Chris and I are with a very active toddler and a very dependent newborn and no help. After about a month and a half of barely making it, I started to get the hang of it.
I will say the most difficult part for me having two children under two, is how they require different types of attention. It’s important that I am very intentional with both children. Suri needs to be constantly entertained and she’s nonstop, so I really am just planning my days with that in mind. Ensuring we have enough activities to keep her engaged and honestly wear her out until naptime and then until bedtime. CJ is still just so helpless, so it’s just feed, change, sleep, cuddle, some tummy time and then repeat. Having a partner that’s hands-on as well, has been crucial to me surviving this stage. We certainly are a tag team, in what seems to be an all-day WWE match. Chris is so good about doing outdoor activities with Suri, whether it’s the pool and or walk/bike ride. During this time I’m able to shower, eat a hot meal and nap CJ’s sleep schedule permitting. While Suri has required more attention since the birth of CJ, I ensure we have one-on-one time. Before CJ wakes in the morning, Suri and I have a morning routine – she gets a bottle, she’s changed, we brush her teeth and comb her hair. Then I feed her breakfast and we listen to Worship music on TV. I really treasure this time with her. Mom guilt certainly creeps in because Suri had all of my attention when she was CJ’s age. But the fact of the matter is, I have two kids now and it’s a constant juggling act. The sooner I came to terms with that, the easier things became. When I put Suri down for her nap, it’s my time with CJ. We do tummy time, sensory activities and just cuddle with him.


There are some items that certainly make things easier for me. Diaper Caddy – our town house has three floors- so it’s way too much having to go up and down the stairs to change diapers. So I have a diaper caddy I keep in the living room with diapers for both children, changing pad, wipes and all of the ointments. Baby Carrier/Baby Wrap – I do a lot of Baby Wearing, it’s important for me to be able to keep up with Suri while having CJ close to me. Baby Swing/Bouncer – when I need to move freely, it’s more convenient for me to put CJ in his swing. Toys and Books – we like toys that require Suri to really use her critical thinking skills and imagination such as puzzles, blocks, her Doctor’s set. Suri is already a Book Worm, her collection is quite impressive. Our newest bedtime routine involves Chris reading 3-4 books to Suri while I nurse CJ in our bed. Tablet – while we like to limit screen time to just an hour/day, sometimes I just need to keep Suri sedentary watching Youtube Kids while I’m tied up.


A schedule has also helped, but of course parenting requires you to be fluid. So I won’t get into the nuances of that, but the better I’m able to stick to a routine, the smoother my day goes. There are some days that are perfectly imperfect, like this week in particular CJ had a major blowout, not even the onesie made it, he then peed all over the wall as I was putting him in the baby bath, after he was nice and clean he spit up all over himself. This was all happening as Suri was sleeping, by the time I finally got CJ down for his nap, Suri woke up.


The good days certainly outweigh the hectic and emotionally draining days. I am overcome with joy every time I look at Suri and CJ together, how am I so blessed to be their mother. While I certainly did not plan for two children under age two, I am certain God knew I could handle it.

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The Power of Play

Firstly, I know I’ve been super MIA from this space, my beloved blog but I promise it’s been for a good reason! In addition to this blog, I’ve started a vlog where I have chats with moms on different topics from work life balance to pregnancy loss to birth stories and everything in between. So please take a minute and check out the episodes I’ve posted so far and don’t forget to subscribe and share with a friend who you think would love this kind of content. Just click the link below! Thanks in advance for your support on this new project 🙂

Just Mommying YouTube Channel 👇🏽

https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCcgPzLSdjnCXInYsyZSVSlg

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” – Fred Rogers

The two little munchkins in the photo above (Caleb & Isabel) inspired me to think about this topic of “the power of play” especially in toddlers. In the next Just Mommying episode which will be up this Saturday, my guest who is a learning and teaching consultant also speaks about this and the whole idea of nurturing our childrens’ development (stay tuned for it!). Just recently, Issy and Caleb got the chance to spend five days together and it was so interesting to observe their interactions through play. Isabel is about 5 months older than Caleb and has a very strong personality so I was a bit worried that she might overpower him and not give him a chance to play with some of the toys etc but to my surprise they both worked together at putting on the rings as seen in the photo below. I could clearly see “associative play” on full display where they both worked together towards “similar goals but there were no set rules” (encourageplay.com). By doing this activity together, both toddlers benefitted but in different ways. In Isabel’s case, she learnt the concept of sharing and giving others a chance. In Caleb’s case, he got much better at putting on the rings.

Both Simeca (Caleb’s mom) and I had all intentions to start them in school this year but of course Covid came and threw those plans out of the window. For me, I was really excited for Isabel to start more so for the social aspect of school. Of course, I am no expert in this field, but I believe (and I’ve also heard and read) the purpose of school for toddlers is geared towards their social development. It gives them the opportunity to play and interact with kids their age and through playing they ultimately end up learning. I was so pleased to see that is exactly what happened with Isabel and Caleb during their time together.

Because I feel so strongly about the benefits and importance of playing with other kids, I’m always searching for ways to accomplish this in a meaningful way. So I was elated when I came across BabyClub (@fabhabjamaica on Instagram) which provided a space for babies and toddlers to play in engaging and creative ways. In the photo below, Isabel (11 months at the time) and Mila (9 months at the time) were at Baby Club; here we clearly see “parallel play” at work as they “play side by side without any interaction.” This is completely normal and has benefits as well such as language development, freedom to express their desires and feelings and gross and fine motor skill development. You can read more about the benefits at the link below:
https://www.healthline.com/health/parenting/parallel-play#parallel-play-benefits


I also discovered @kozykornerbooksja (see photo below) where they had story time, music and instruments for the kids to play followed by a craft activity session. Unfortunately, since Covid these activities have been put on hold which breaks my heart because they really provided an excellent outlet for Issy to play and learn. It is unlikely that these activities will resume any time soon and who knows when our toddlers will be able to start school so I am always happy when play dates can be arranged in a safe way so that our kiddos can get to play, learn and explore with other kids.

How are you encouraging play with your toddler in these Covid times when things are restricted?

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My Baby’s Birth – Our Journey Together to be Together

Written by guest writer and my dear friend: Danielle Watson

I remember driving to the drug store to get the pregnancy test. I remember seeing the two lines and opening the instructions to double check what the two lines meant – two lines mean positive. I remember pacing up and down at the front door waiting for my husband to get home to tell him the news and being annoyed at myself for not waiting until he got home to do the test in the first place so we could find out together. I remember my due date coming. I remember my due date passing. I remember being in the hospital connected to the CTG machine. I remember the doctors and the midwife looking worried. I remember the doctors explaining what an emergency c-section means. I remember crying while being wheeled into the operating theatre. I remember the doctor saying he was going to put me to sleep. I remember feeling shocked and panicked. I remember the last thing I saw was the doctor’s face upside down. I remember waking up, being wheeled through a room. I remember seeing my husband holding what looked like a bundled up towel with the tiniest feet poking through to his bare chest. I remember asking him if it was a boy or a girl as they were wheeling me away. I don’t remember what he replied.

“What’s your birth plan?” I got so annoyed when people asked me that question. “My plan is to give birth, what more of a plan than that do I need?” then came the list of considerations; natural birth in a hospital? which hospital? home birth? water birth? epidural? with a doula? etc. etc. At some point I decided to make a plan so that I didn’t seem clueless and unprepared when people asked. I wanted a drug-free natural birth in a small hospital with a midwife. I did a two month pregnancy yoga course, a birth preparation course and followed some pages online to master the art and wonder of giving birth. My husband and I practiced my breathing exercises, hand squeezes and yoga poses. I took care to massage my perineum every evening to get the vag as elastic as possible. I was doing everything right. I had to do everything right, this little human was depending on me. We toured two hospitals and each time we had to meet with the anesthesiologist to sign paperwork consenting to have anesthesia – both an epidural and general. “It’s just in case of an emergency, during labour there’s no time to discuss all the implications.” I zoned out when the doctor starting explaining the procedure and the risks, but I remember saying to my husband how horrible would it be to have a baby under general anesthesia. I signed the consent forms after skimming through the pages, I didn’t need to read the details because I had done my birth plan, so of course things would go to according to my birth plan – natural and drug-free, because that’s how I planned it. Little did I know…
The birth was unnatural and full of drugs. I had my baby under general anesthesia. I was disappointed when the doctor told me we would need to have c-section but I felt reassured that my husband would be there with me and that I would be conscious and still have the chance to welcome my baby into the world. I was told about the decision to use general anesthesia in what felt like seconds before I was put to sleep. I was put to sleep pregnant and I woke up… not pregnant. As soon as my baby was born he was taken to a children’s hospital 25km away. Was I even really pregnant in the first place? Is my baby alive? What if he gets mixed up with someone else’s baby? Will he know who I am? I still struggle to describe the feeling of finally waking up to my full senses on the maternity ward of the hospital hearing mommies walk around with their crying babies in the hallway, being in absolute pain from the surgery of the night before and not having my baby. It felt surreal. I always thought having contractions and pushing the baby out forms the foundation of the bond between mother and child. The moms put in the work, endure the pain and cope with the emotions of delivering a baby, it’s the rite of passage for all mothers – right? After nine months of taking care of the life growing inside, now it’s time to witness the magic. It’s the ultimate cooperation of momma and baby. I thought of it as a journey together to be together. I’m a mom who was pregnant for nine months and I don’t know what it’s like to give birth to a baby. I never even had a contraction. I felt ashamed. I felt like a failure. I felt angry. I felt cheated. Everything I had been preparing for; holding him for the first time, his naked body on my bare chest, the euphoria which comes with the new baby smell and hearing his first cries, all of that was taken from me.
The day after the surgery, I was bleeding heavily, my throat was dry, I was exhausted. I could hardly walk much less bend my body to sit in a chair. I decided that I was going to the children’s hospital to meet my baby. I carefully put on my coat, very slowly so that I didn’t snag the catheter. I hobbled to the nurse’s station, walking like I had just had my body cut open, a baby taken out and then stitched back together and I said “I’ll be back later.” They tried to stop me, but I think they felt sorry for me, so they just said “please take care.” My husband picked me up at the front of the hospital and it took us about 3 minutes to get me seated in the car. I think I can tell the exact number of stones the car ran over from my hospital to the children’s hospital because I felt every single bump. The pain was excruciating, but I didn’t care. It was my punishment and my penance for failing. The first time I saw my baby, I didn’t feel anything. I was staring at a baby they SAID was mine, but I didn’t FEEL like he was mine. I didn’t feel like I had any connection with this person. He was in the hospital for 4 days. The first day in an incubator and I couldn’t touch him. He was so weak and his eyes were closed. I travelled from my hospital to his every day. On the second day, the nurse took him out of the incubator and said I could hold him. I took off my shirt and I held him to my chest. When I held him to my chest, he opened his eyes and he started moving his head towards my breast. I felt like he knew I was his momma. In this small moment, which I remember as vividly as ever, I connected with him as my own.

Eight months later when I think about Joss’ birth story, I feel an overwhelming connection to him. He and I did have our journey together to be together but in our own special way. We had a unique meeting, which has bonded us as momma and baby. I realise now that mommas don’t need to have a “natural” birth to bond with their babies. Just as mommas who use surrogates and mommas who adopt can love their babies just as much as mommas who birth their own. We can bond with our babies in different ways and at different times. My love for my son wasn’t love at first sight as I had always imagined it would be. We had our moment later but it doesn’t mean it’s any less of a love or bond than other mommas have with their babies. Now I think of it all as a picture in a frame with my plan as the frame. The frame isn’t necessary for some but may be important to others. While the frame may change it can enhance/ distract / detract from the beauty of the picture, but in the end the picture remains beautiful so I always remind myself to focus on the picture and not the frame.

Feel free to share your birth story with us in the comments!

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Instagram vs. Reality

What a lovely Saturday! (This was written yesterday LOL).

My husband went for a run early this morning while Isabel and I were still sleeping. When he came home, I was able to get in a 30min workout for the first in a long time (Thank God Issy slept well last night so that I got a good nights rest and didn’t wake up feeling exhausted like I sometimes do). We both did a quick stretching video together while Issy played with her toys and joined when she felt like by attempting the stretches (which is always so cute and funny). After that we got ready and headed to the beach for a little morning swim and some Pumpkin Spice Frap at Starbucks. Theee perfect Saturday (for me) but…..

Don’t be fooled! This is certainly not what our Saturdays look like most of the time. Remember that we all (including myself) only show the nice, lovely parts of our lives here on social media. In reality, most Saturdays are spent chilling at home with maybe a few errands here and there like going to the supermarket…nothing too exciting or post worthy like a beautiful day at the beach LOL. You see there are many behind the scenes moments that don’t make it to our instagram feeds because again they just aren’t post worthy. There are times I scream at my daughter (definitely not proud of it but I’m human) out of frustration when she is throwing a tantrum or not cooperating during bath time or meal time. There are times when I count down till her bed time so I can get some time to myself to get things done and end up falling asleep too (hence not getting anything done). I don’t post about these things; instead what you’ll see is a cute picture of her at the beach in her hat and sunglasses (as seen above) where she had the best time ever. I saw a meme that said something like “behind every cute baby picture is a mom who just cleared a mess around them” and I had to laugh because that is so me LOL. There have been many times I snap a picture of Isabel and then realize how untidy the background looks so I clear the mess and take it over because no way am I gonna post a picture that makes my house look like a huge mess (sometimes I do though).

I think we are all guilty of comparing our lives and also our kids which is never a good thing (but again we are all human). From who’s kid walked first to who’s kid talked first to who’s kid won the most awards and the list goes on and on. Something that has always stuck with me was when my husband said to me “does it really matter whether your child walks at 10months and mine walks at 15months? Will that have any impact on the child’s life years from now?” And I thought to myself “hmmm it really doesn’t.” Now don’t get me wrong, I know how exciting these milestones are and I agree they are to be celebrated but I think it is also important to remember that every child is different and moves at their own pace. Let’s always ask ourselves the question “In the long run, does it really matter?” Let’s make sure that we never get too caught up in comparing that it steals our joy! Let’s always remember that peoples lives may not be as perfect as they make it out to be. And that despite our lives not being perfect, we can appreciate the days that do turn out to be perfect and lovely (like today for me 🙂 )

Do you sometimes find yourself comparing your life and your kids to others? What can we do to break this unhealthy habit?

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The Dilemma



“Pee-pee-cluck-cluck” (Jamaican term) meaning: to follow closely behind or everywhere. If “pee-pee-cluck-cluck” were a person it would certainly be Isabel Grace LOL. Now don’t get me wrong being my daughter’s safe haven and number 1 go to person makes me feel so special but it can definitely be frustrating sometimes too. Anyone else can’t eat a meal, go to the bathroom, or do anything in peace and by yourself?? She is at that stage where every single time I have a meal, she climbs up on a chair and onto the table and starts picking food from my plate. Most of the time she doesn’t eat it herself but rather insists to feed me or simply just play in it. Going to the bathroom by myself is certainly a luxury I no longer get to experience…what is personal space?? Again, she insists to come inside with me where its 99% guaranteed that she will start tearing off the tissue paper and if I were to allow it I’m sure the entire roll would be reeled off (can someone tell me why toddlers love to do this??) Getting chores done around the house means I have a little assistant who tends to make more of a mess than the one I’m trying to clean up (she’s pretty good at using wipes to clean up her crayon marks from the tiles though I’ll give her that one). It also means there are times where I’m literally tripping all over her because she is so close to me giving me no where to go or I don’t realize she made her way to the kitchen from the living room. With all this said, of course if we go somewhere that is unfamiliar to her, her stage 5 clingyness jumps right into action where she will hold on tight to my leg (see pic above) for dear life. Once she gets acquainted with the surroundings and the people (which typically doesn’t take too long), she will explore and become more sociable.

Despite me wanting to go to the bathroom alone, eat a meal in peace, watch TV in silence and sleep for 8 hours straight…I know the day will come when all these things will actually come to fruition. And here lies the dilemma because I know I will miss them. I know the day will come where she no longer follows me around but instead prefers to be left alone and wants her privacy (oh the irony!). I know the day will come where she no longer sleeps in my bed and on my chest and I will miss it despite my back hurting from her weight on top of me. I know the day will come where I probably won’t get kisses so easily. And for this reason, I try to remind myself that I will never get back this stage of her life so I need to soak it all up and appreciate it for what it is.

“Let them be little. Let them cry, giggle and sleep in the middle because they are only this way for so long.”

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Toddler Book Recommendations

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss

You know you’re a mom when you get more excited about ordering books and cute clothes for your kids than ordering stuff for yourself. Now that Isabel is at an age where she has gotten more involved in our story time, reading together has been such a joy and also a great way for us to spend quality time together. It can definitely be frustrating sometimes too especially because she is so independent and insists to turn the pages which isn’t a problem until she ends up tearing the pages at times. For this reason, I highly recommend board books for toddlers as they are more sturdy and not as easy for them to destroy (it’s not totally indestructible though- Issy used to have a field day biting them up when she was younger. Thankfully she has stopped doing that now). Additonally, I love buying board books that come as a set (typically 4 books or more) because it tends to work out cheaper than buying them individually so you get value for your money. Of course, there are definitely some really good books that only come in the paperback form but I would try sticking to board books as much as possible until they get older. I have also realized that she does much better with books that have one or two sentences on each page (mainly because she is eager to turn the page quickly) as opposed to the ones that have several sentences. So I have also stuck to primarily reading those books and have put away the others for when she gets older.


Reading books together has become a part of our everyday routine and something that we both look forward to. So I thought it might be helpful for other moms of toddlers to highlight the ones that we really love and enjoy. In the photo above, we are reading the books from a “Nature Friends lift-a-flap” box set which comes with 4 books: little yellow bee, little red barn, little blue boat and little green frog. This little book set has definitely become a favourite for us; the thick sturdy pages, the beautiful illustrations, the rhyming and the lift-a-flap feature is perfect for our curious little toddlers. As with all of her books, because we read them over and over again, Isabel has started to actually memorize and sometimes she knows exactly what’s coming next; despite this it never gets boring for her (I believe the repetition also really helps to build their vocabulary.) She loves pointing at the animals and saying their names as well as mimicking the different sounds they make.

Another great board book set that we love is the Fisher Price “My First Books Set” which includes ABC book, Colours book, Numbers book and Opposites book. This one is pretty much self explanatory as they help to introduce our little ones to these basic concepts which are fundamental for their learning. My daughter has caught on with the alphabet and loves to sing it (though not always correctly LOL) but we’re still working on numbers and colours. The numbers book uses animals for counting and again she loves identifying them. Another must have book set in my opinion!

Now I know Dr. Seuss is considered a classic or staple in the world of kids books but if I’m being totally honest I wasn’t a fan at first at all. I think mainly because of the style of writing which most of you may know consist of a lot of phrases instead of complete sentences and also a lot of made up words (which I guess older kids may find amusing). Somehow over time these books started growing on me and Issy loves them too, her favourite one from this particular collection is “Hop on Pop.” Most of her books I’ve purchased on Amazon but I got this set from @kozykornerbooksja.

Speaking of classic kids books, I definitely have to make mention of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.” This book has helped me to teach my daughter different fruits and foods; she loves to poke her finger in the holes as we count them. And of course the story line of the caterpillar becoming a beautiful butterfly never grows old! While she may not understand that whole transformation process right now, she will eventually.

In Jamaica, our motto is “out of many, one people” which simply reflects the diversity of the Jamaican people, being a mix of different races, cultures and religions. I think it is very important for children to be exposed and accepting of differences that exist among people from a very early age. I also think representation matters and children should be able to relate to characters they see in books, on TV and through dolls and toys. I recently started following @blackbabybooks on Instagram where I found so many great book suggestions where the characters were people of colour. See below image of the ones I had purchased. The content and messages being relayed in all these books are excellent and will serve as good life lessons. As I mentioned earlier, I am sticking to books with one to two sentences per page (for now); both of Grace Byers’ books “I am Enough” and “I believe I can” fit this criteria (unfortunately they aren’t board books and she has torn some of the pages already) so we have focused on reading these out of this lot. My latest Amazon order which I’m currently waiting on includes One Love, Every Little Thing and Get Up Stand Up all written by Cedella Marley who is the daughter of Bob Marley. I was so excited when I came across these on @blackbabybooks and wondered how is it that I didn’t know about them before! Even more exciting news, a friend of mine just launched her very own children’s book “Leaderboard: A kid-friendly guide for developing leadership skills” by Brittany Singh Williams. While it may be a while before Issy can truly appreciate this one, I am just so thrilled for Brittany and this huge accomplishment. I absolutely cannot wait to get these books and will definitely update this post and let you guys know what I think.

Disclaimer: I am not in the education field and have zero expertise on what books are best for toddlers. I’m simply just a momma sharing what books my daughter and I have enjoyed together especially because when I go on Amazon it can be overwhelming to decide which books to choose because the options are endless! I think these books would also make great gifts if you’re not sure what to get for a toddler’s birthday or christmas. I hope you find this useful and as usual please share in the comments which books you’ve enjoyed with your little one. What are some must haves that I need to order next?

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My Breastfeeding Journey

According to the World Health Organization (WHO): “Breastmilk provides all the energy and nutrients that the infant needs for the first months of life, and it continues to provide up to half or more of a child’s nutritional needs during the second half of the first year, and up to one third during the second year of life.” The fact that breastmilk still provides up to one third your child’s nutritional needs during the second year of life was a very interesting point to note for me especially since my toddler is still very much at it and now I feel some what validated (ha!) for the people who have made comments about whether I plan to stop any time soon.

August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month so it was certainly fitting for me to share my breastfeeding journey thus far. As many of you may know, my daughter is now 20 months old and still nursing. I have said that I want to wean before she is 2 years old but now that it’s coming so close to that time I feel so torn. I have said to her “you’re a big girl now Issy, time to get off the boob” but deep down inside I’m not sure if I’m ready myself. The bond we have formed through this beautiful exchange is indescribable, the comfort it brings her in every and any situation is something that is irreplaceable. Honestly, the boob solves every single problem and is so very convenient; when she’s cranky, when she gets hurt, when she’s sleepy; once I pop it in her mouth all is right in the world again in an instant. In addition to the magical emotional connection, the benefits of breastfeeding include “breastfed children perform better on intelligence tests, are less likely to be overweight or obese and less prone to diabetes later in life. Women who breastfeed also have a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancers” (WHO). While all these points are significant, the last point stands out for me the most because my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago which of course means that I am at an increased risk (thankfully she has been in remission).

So what does breastfeeding a toddler look like? It means that I still wear maternity bras (not the sexiest but oh so comfy!) and still for the most part wear clothes that has easy access to my boobs (which means wearing the same clothes over and over again LOL) just in case I have to pop them out. It also means that as soon as I reach home from work its almost guaranteed that she will start to rub her head on my chest and pull down my clothes. She whines and whines till I give in and let her have her way. She stares directly into my eyes, holds onto my hand and does her thing until her heart is content. And these are the moments that I wish I could hold on to forever.

I must confess that I did not exclusively breastfeed for the first 6 months which is what is recommended (my mantra has always been fed is best!). When I had to return to work after 3 months of maternity leave, I started to introduce formula because I absolutely dreaded pumping (hats off to all the dedicated mommas who pump!). It was just too much of a tedious task that I was not prepared to take on (working on the road and not in an office would mean pumping in my car). I know for some babies once the bottle is given they no longer want to nurse anymore as they develop a preference for the bottle. I am so grateful that despite introducing the formula and bottle my daughter still wanted to nurse and our journey still continues till this day. As to when it will end, I honestly can’t say but I think I’ll know when the time is right for the both of us.

What is/was your breastfeeding journey like? How did you go about weaning? I would love to hear from you! Let me know in the comments.

As I mentioned in my my blog “Momma, it’s OK” whatever you decide regarding feeding your baby it’s OK. It’s ok if you don’t produce enough milk. It’s ok if you hate breastfeeding. It’s ok if you hate pumping. It’s ok if your baby prefers the bottle. Please don’t stress yourself over these things mommas. At the end of the day, once your baby is happy, healthy and fed that really is all that matters!

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Ideal Inspiration Blogger Award

“Ideal Inspiration Blogger Award is an unofficial award to the bloggers as a reward of wonderful work on their blogs. It’s just as important because it really reflects the good impact we can have on other people’s lives. It is important for the inspiration towards the success journey of our fellow bloggers and especially newbie’s to become (Rising Star’s).” I think this is such a great initiative as a way for us bloggers to share, connect and encourage each other to keep writing.

Special thanks to Krisna of Happy Mama, Happy Baby for nominating me for this award. As the title of her blog suggests she is a firm believer in moms making self care a priority and I couldn’t agree more! Because at the end of the day, once mom is happy, her baby will be happy too! I absolutely love hearing about other moms’ journeys and have found her blog to be so open, honest and relatable.

RULES:

• Thank the person who have nominated you and provide a link back to his/her blog.

•Answer their questions.

• Nominate up to 9 other bloggers and ask them 5 new questions.

• Notify the nominees through their blog by visiting and commenting on their blog.

• List the rules and display the “Ideal Inspiration Blogger Award” logo.

Q&A

What is your favourite dish?
This is a hard one because I have so many LOL. I’m compelled to say shrimp pasta since this is what I usually order when I go to a restaurant. But I’d also like to highlight my love for escovetich fish, garlic butter lobster and festival which you can only get at Hellshire Beach on my island home of Jamaica! Just kidding, I’m sure you can get this elsewhere but trust me when I say it definitely won’t compare!

What do you do for “me time” prior to having kids?
Before having my daughter, I spent a lot of time relaxing on the couch watching TV especially reality shows and investigation discovery.

How did #2 change after having kids?
These days whenever the TV is on, it’s highly likely that we’re watching Baby TV.

What’s the most challenging part of motherhood/parenthood for you?
Hmm probably the lack of sleep. If you know me, you know that getting 8 hours of sleep was very important to me. Well my daughter is 20months old and I haven’t had a full nights rest since the day she was born.

What’s the most adorable/precious thing your kid(s) do for you that melts your motherly heart?
Just simply hearing her say “mama” and although she says it all the time now it still melts my heart every single time. Her sweet, tiny little voice is just so precious especially when she says it in a kind of “sing song” tone. I actually wrote a blog “It’s the little things” where I talk about all the little things she does that melt my heart 🙂

My Nominees:
I am all about brand Jamaica and so I wanted to nominate other Jamaican bloggers who have excellent content that you will find inspiring, uplifting and entertaining!

https://jarxcistkris84cali.wordpress.com/

https://keosullivanblog.wordpress.com/

https://timeformartinis.home.blog

Here are the questions for my nominees:
1. What is the one thing you love most about Jamaica?
2. If you had to recommend a “must do” when visiting Jamaica, what would it be?
3. What is your favourite parish and why?
4. What is your favourite Jamaican brand?
5. Who is your favourite Jamaican celebrity and why?

Thanks again for the nomination Krisna! And thanks to everyone who has been supporting my blog and giving feedback! I appreciate you all!

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Momma, it’s OK.

Isabel was about 2 months old here. For majority of her newborn life I was glued to that couch and she was glued to either my chest or arms LOL.

“Imagine how much easier mom life would be if we were all told. It’s ok to hold your baby as much as you want. It’s ok for them to sleep on you. It’s ok to feed them to sleep. It’s ok for them to sleep in the same room as you. It’s ok to give in. It’s ok to kiss them every minute of the day. It’s ok for them to be clingy. It’s ok for them to need you. It’s ok for you to need them. Imagine.” – Unknown

Adding my own thoughts to that list: It’s ok to feel like you’re struggling. It’s ok to feel overwhelmed. It’s ok to want a break. It’s ok to ask for help (Quick story- when Issy was a newborn she was extremely fussy due to colic. One morning my boobs were super engorged and painful and Isabel was crying uncontrollably. At the time I was living at the side of my mom’s house and instead of calling her for some help I just bawled my eyes out and felt so helpless. My mommy and aunt came knocking on the door to visit not knowing the torture I was going through. When I opened the door they saw my blood shot eyes and the distress on my face and jumped into action right away. They set up the breast pump (which I should have set up from long time instead of waiting till I desperately needed it), took Isabel from me so I could pump and in no time I started feeling so much better. They came right on time when I needed them the most. Only God knows why I didn’t call them to get some help sooner). It’s ok to give your baby formula before 6 months. It’s ok to still breastfeed after 2 years. It’s ok if your baby still isn’t sleeping through the night yet. It’s ok to get annoyed when people try to give their opinions about your parenting or give you unsolicited advice. (Feel free to add your list of things that are totally ok in the comments).

All of these things mentioned above I myself have experienced and if you have or currently are too; YOU ARE NOT ALONE AND IT’S OKAY. At the end of the day, you know what’s best and what’s right for you, your baby, your family and your circumstances. Now would I do some of these things differently if I have another child. Yes I probably would. It would be nice for me and my husband to have our bed back to ourselves. It would be great if I could get 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep at nights. So maybe next time around I’ll definitely try sleep training much earlier; but then again who knows. I may very well be too much of a softie once again. Before I became a mom, I thought my baby would certainly be sleeping in her crib in her own room by now but again you just never know how things will play out until you’re actually in the situation.

“To each his own” is something that I’ve always preached (and hopefully also practiced) in all aspects of life but even more so when it comes to one’s parenting decisions. Becoming a first time parent is already hard on it’s own; and on top of all the fears and anxiety that comes with this new responsibility we also have to deal with all the judgy mommy shamers who think they know it all. Now don’t get me wrong I know there are times when people are truly coming from a place of genuine concern and love when they are offering suggestions but sometimes it can still feel like you’re being criticized which can be really hard. I was just talking to one of my close friends about this recently and I said to her that I have to make a conscious effort to not get too offended in those instances where I know the person really has me and my daughter’s best interest at heart. My advice to people who love to give their input to moms; before saying anything ask yourself: is it really necessary? is it helpful or useful? is it coming from a place of love or genuine concern? And my advice for my fellow mommies (myself included): try not to take everything so personal and also try to pick out the good advice that may actually help you to learn and grow on your motherhood journey. Remember to always be kind to yourself and give yourself grace; you’re doing the best you can.