Say What?! 5 Ways to promote language development.


I’m certainly no speech expert, but I’d like to think I am an expert when it comes to my babes. While I can recognize that every child develops differently, I knew that Giada was behind when it came to speech. She has some words and can get her point across, but I could tell she was getting frustrated. I expressed my concerns with my ped and she told me that typically there isn’t a worry until age 2. Since Giada’s birthday fell at the end of the school year, though, she said it wouldn’t hurt to take her in to be evaluated early since services aren’t offered during the summer..

We met with our local school district and the women there were beyond friendly, helpful, and extremely patient with Giada. They tested Giada’s hearing, her comprehension, and then her ability to communicate. Giada fell in the 24 month range for her understanding but only 15 months for her speech. Because of the discrepancy between her understanding and her ability they recommended speech therapy for her! I was SO happy I listened to my “mom-intuition” and didn’t go any longer leaving her frustrated. Sometimes… what works for one child doesn’t work for the next and us parents need to make some modifications to what we are doing. Language seemed to come very easy to Ari, but Giada needs some changes to her environment.

The entire evaluation experience was so educational for me. I was an early elementary teacher and knew so many of these strategies, but when you get caught up in the day to day you sometimes forget. Before we left the evaluation they gave me some super easy strategies to implement immediately. Honesty I can’t believe the difference it has made in only a couple short weeks.

If you have a toddler on the verge of talking or one that is struggling to talk I highly suggest using some of these strategies!

Ditch the Sippy Cups/Pacifiers – They couldn’t stress enough the negative impact these two items had on language acquisition. I read this post before and “knew” they weren’t the best thing, but I never really cared that much until I was sitting in a speech evaluation and being told my daughter needed ME to toss them.  I was nervous about giving her an open cup at meals, but overall the transition hasn’t been terrible! I got cups with handles from Target for $.79!


Strengthen the entire body – The body works together in complex ways. They suggested doing wheelbarrows with her and getting her to try to balance on one foot!

Stimulate the Mouth – Some children need extra stimulation in their mouths. It was suggested we get her an electric toothbrush instead of a regular one. Giada loves it!


Give her the words – This one made perfect sense now looking back. Instead of asking her a yes or no question you offer a choice, use adjectives, and give her the word you want her to say. The last word out of your mouth should be what you want them to say.

Example: instead of saying “Giada do you want this hairbow?” All she can respond with is yes and it’s not expanding her vocabulary. You say “Giada, do you want this clip or this PINK HAIRBOW?”. It allows her to repeat the last thing you just said because you are giving her the word. I’ve been using this technique a TON and I am so surprised at how many new words she is trying to say just by me changing my behavior!

Use songs/body movements – Using a song or a beat allows children to easily chime in at words they know. Now we’ve been singing songs every night that involve hand movements like “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “Baby Bumblebee”. Giada has been so engaged and tries to sing along with us!

I’m sure there’s going to come a day when I wish Giada wasn’t talking SO much. But, for now, I’m determined to do everything in my power to help her get where she needs to be! In just a few weeks of doing these things I have seen such an incredible difference in her communication. I can’t wait until our actual first lesson! I will be learning as much as Giada.

Show & Tell Tuesday: What’s In a Name

I just love the topic this week for Show & Tell Tuesday: What’s in a Name!

I love hearing how others decide on names and I am so excited to share how my hubs and I decided on the names Ari & Giada.

Let’s just say when it comes to naming children I had very specific rules we needed to follow. The names couldn’t be in the top 100 for the previous year, I couldn’t know someone with that name, and it needed to be a name without an obvious shortened version that could be used as a nickname. We both liked names that were different but not too trendy.

Ari Joseph


My hubs and I went round and round on boy names my entire pregnancy. It’s so hard to name a baby that you have never seen! Growing up my husband was VERY close with his Dziadzia (his maternal grandfather). He had 2 girls so he would always tell my husband his name wouldn’t be carried on after him. Whatever name we chose we knew we were going to use his grandfather’s name, Joseph, as the middle name. We wanted a unique name and really had a hard time deciding. As soon as my son was born, though, my husband looked at him and then looked at me and said “he’s an Ari”. We got the name idea from the TV show Entourage.


How ironic that the day Ari was born 7/24/11, it was the season premiere of the final season of Entourage.

Giada Estelle


Again we had a hard time choosing a name during my pregnancy. This time we had to not only choose a name we’d both like, but also that sounded ok with Ari. It needed to be equally unique and my husband wanted a “pretty name”. He was the one who really pushed for Giada and I always loved the name Estelle. We decided the night before she was born and I stayed up making a little sign to announce her name.


The name Giada means “gem” and that’s my girl’s intitials too! GEM!

….and just for fun, a few other names I really liked:

Boys: Angelo, Sebastian, Dante

Girls: Ella, Reagan, Sophia

Friday Favorites: 60 degrees finally!

Happy, Happy Friday!!!


I’m linking up with Momfessionals again this week for Friday Favorites! Go head over to her blog and wish sweet Griffin a Happy Birthday!

My hubs has been out of town all week and he finally comes home tonight so that’s the reason for the extra happy in there! The babes and I were so lucky because… It FINALLY hit 60 degrees around here! You better believe we were outside as much as possible!

Ari just loves cruising up and down the streets in his Dune Racer that Santa brought him! After researching the crap out of these and polling real life mom friends we decided on this one. Among all the reviews it was the best for both on and off roading. The tires are large enough for this thing to rip roar over grass!


We spent an evening at the local park!  I honestly think this is my new favorite picture of these two. Last summer was still tough with Giada being a “new walker” and Ari being almost 3. I can already tell this summer will be a whole new story when it comes to their friendship. Running, laughing, and holding hands. Does this view get any better?


Our park trip resulted in Giada’s first time on a big kid slide! She loved it and held on for dear life the entire time!


Giada was quite the show stopper at her speech evaluation this week (more on that later). All the ladies at the school district just LOVED her ensemble and Giada was eating it up.  Little lady was twirling and smiling for all that would watch her.


I’ve been wishing, hoping, dreaming of the return of Aruba Freshly Picked moccasins for months now…. and they are backkkkk! They are the perfect compliment to the babes’ Luau outfits for their birthday party!! We took photos in these outfits this week and I cannot wait to see them!


I joined Rodan & Fields at the very end of the summer as a way to get a discount on their great products but also to pay for some of the pricey clothing I wanted for the babes. I got paid this weekend and was FLOORED. I just couldn’t believe how this little skincare business could turn into something so amazing for my family. Getting a paycheck in the middle of the month that more than covers our mortgage? Now that’s a favorite!


April 15 was the third annual Hug a Doodle Day on instagram. If you have a few minutes go ahead and browse #hugadoodleday.  You will not be disappointed I promise! This is my whole-lotta-love 85 pound baby boo named Breslin. He just turned 6 in March and was my very first baby! He is an F1B goldendoodle. His mom was a goldendoodle and his dad was a standard poodle.


Earlier this year I started buying Matilda Jane. I love how unique all the stuff was and how all the items of a line coordinated with each other. I have a whole post dedicated to my love addiction to Matilda Jane Clothing coming very soon!

….but for now…my favorite outfit from Hello Lovely? This Cross My Heart dress and the Party Pants leggings!

       IMG_5700Last but not least I whipped up a super easy breakfast for the babes this week! I preheated my oven to 375, scrambled 3 eggs, microwaved a few pieces of pre cooked bacon, added cheese, and quickly rolled it all in crescent rolls. It lieterally took me less than 5 minutes to assemble! I threw them in the over for 10 minutes while I got everyone dressed and they made the perfect handheld warm breakfast!


Have a great weekend!

First Birthday: Giada in Onderland

   I just LOVE entertaining.  Before my hubs and I were even married we were the first of our friends to own a home. Every weekend you could find a group of us partying in our kitchen until the sun came up. I just love seeing people come together and live for the little details of the parties I throw. I love making each event I host special.  Currently I’m in MAJOR party planning mode for a joint birthday bash I am throwing in June and realized I never blogged about the babes’ previous parties!

Wait no further! Giada’s first birthday party…Giada in One-Derland!

I wanted to make her party as girly as possible! Since my babes both have summer birthdays I knew down the road I would be combining their parties. This was my one shot for a girly party and making it through the first year of having 2 under 2 was something to celebrate! So we did it up big!

Let’s start with the most important part…WHAT SHE WORE! I got Giada’s dress from Lovers Dovers and it couldn’t have been more perfect.  It fit her perfectly and the tutu was so adorable! Her headband was custom made to match by the fabulous Darling Delilah!

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Photo credit: Adriane Baden Photography

Next party detail: INVITES!


Katie Doodle did an amazing job making invitations, a chalk board sign, and lots of other signs for me to use at the party.



For months I shopped our local thrift stores to find all white tea-pots to use as centerpieces! I bought a couple of mixed bouquets and arranged them myself! The giant cards were from Oriental Trading.



I made full use of my Cricut and made some signs as guests were coming down my stairs.


I also made a super easy banner with all of Giada’s monthly pictures!


About a week before the party I found a local mom that had recently had the same theme.  Her mother in law made these giant lawn decorations and lent them to me for the party. How lucky was that!? They really set the scene as all my guests arrived.


The dessert table was by far one of my favorite parts! I tried to combine vintage tea items with fun girly colors! I already had candy dishes for Ari’s previous parties so I only needed to buy a G, D, and another A!10374029_10105085143777924_8040055114269293520_n

I made Cheshire Cat Tails out of marshmallows, colored chocolate, and sprinkles!


Of course no party is complete without Best Cookies by Farr.  They taste incredible and look cute too!


Giada loved her cake! Babes just make a mess out of their cake so this mama made it herself!

Headband, Bandana Bib, DIY Fabric Garland


The Monday before the party I decided my son & hubs needed these shirts. NO ONE on etsy was making this combo in child/adult. You had to either purchase two child tees or two adult tees. Awesome Custom made them for me and they were just what these two needed! I couldn’t believe they were able to turn them around and ship them to me so quickly!


…and there you have it! LOTS and LOTS of planning for a perfect afternoon! I’m sure Giada won’t remember this day at all, but I can’t wait to show her pictures when she is older!


Friday Favorites: Summer is Coming!

           Happy Friday! I am linking up with Momfessionals today to share my Friday Favorites.  I’m crossing my fingers that Summer is truly coming because most of my favorite things this week have to do with Summer!!


Monday was opening day of baseball!! Go Tigers! My mom got the kids Best Cookies By Farr and they were pretty amazing as usual! No one makes cookies like she does! If you are in the Metro Detroit area do yourself a favor and get these for your next party…she will not disappoint!


My sister in law is getting married in September and we are planning her shower for June. Ari & Giada are the ring bearer and flower girl! I think I finally decided on shower outfits for them! This dress from Anchors and Eyelets is named Estelle (after Giada Estelle)! The mint and pink are perfect for a summer shower!

Dress, Shirt, Shorts


I’ve been planning a joint birthday Luau for the summer for several months now. Ari will be 4 and Giada 2. PS. How did that happen?! This week Dollar Tree put out all their Luau supplies, so guess who had a field day on her lunch hour this week? I have so many fun things planned for this bash!


Speaking of their birthday I have been researching play sets for what seems like MONTHS. Instead of gifts for their birthday we are getting them a play set that they will use for several years! They have so many clothes and toys and I know they will truly enjoy this the most! I think I FINALLY decided on the Clarington Resort from Cedar Summit. What I love most about it is the flower planters and the twirly slide!


I was lucky enough to have some “Mom-Time” this week and I went to a concert in downtown Detroit. I thought it was quite fitting waking up the next morning to this ecard. Definitely my favorite one I’ve seen in a long time!


I also wanted to share my FAVORITE once a week beauty treat. A glass of wine + my Rodan & Fields microdermabrasion paste. I use this in addition to my skincare regimen at least once a week! It’s a salt/sugar scrub with vitamins C & E, has a high-glide, oil-free formula and is designed to promote maximum gentle exfoliation. My skin feels so smooth and soft after I use it!


It’s been SO liberating to go places without a stroller lately! Giada thinks she’s SO big getting to walk and Ari helps me by holding her hand! This week we went shopping and Ari and I (aka me)kept lifting Giada on 3. Pretty sure they both thought it was the coolest thing ever.


Speaking of letting Giada walk in stores she was doing her own thang in Meijer and HAD to choose her own bananas! I just love seeing my baby girl grow into her own independent self!


It was nice enough to play outside one day this week and the babes loved it! I’m hoping more nice weather is here stay!


Don’t forget to enter my giveaway on Facebook for a chunky necklace/bracelet set from AK’s Hidden Gems! Have a great weekend!

Making Memories; Easter Edition

I had 3 glorious days off work this weekend and we took advantage of every second!  I’m linking up with Momfessionals, Grace and Love, and A Little Bit of Everything to share my Friday favorites.  Any time I’m off work on Friday is a favorite for me so I’m sharing everything we did over the weekend!


On Friday the babes and I were out the door by 9 am and off to 2 different playdates.


The kids striped down to color some eggs and we thought it would be so cute for the shirtless little men to pick Giada up. She was fussing, but they obliged.  The second they got her in the air, though, they realized she had poop in her pants! The look on the boy’s face in the middle is priceless. I still cannot stop laughing over this! This will certainly be a picture to show her when she’s older!

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After laughing over that photo of course wine we had to pour up some wine for the mamas.


Later that night we visited the Cranbrook Institute of Science with some friends.  The first Friday of every month is free admission from 5-close! The babes loved the museum–almost everything was hands-on! They even had a bat cave with live bats! One was the size of a cat! OMG!

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Saturday morning we attended another chilly Easter Egg hunt.  It was barely 32 degrees out and the wind made it feel even cooler. Needless to say we didn’t last long!

Saturday night hubs and I got away for a few hours to watch the Michigan State Spartans play in the final four. Even though they lost it was nice to get out for a little!

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Easter morning was great to watch Ari & Giada hunt for their baskets! They loved searching the house and were so excited for all their goodies.  Giada is all set for summer weather and just had to try everything on. I think her favorite item was her new necklace from AK’s Hidden Gems!


Speaking of AK’s Hidden Gems I have a Giveaway going over on Facebook!  One lucky follower will win this Springtime necklace/bracelet set! Go follow me if you don’t already!


I made these mini cheesecakes for Easter Sunday. They were SO yummy and super easy to make! I love making single portion desserts and snacks! So easy to serve to little ones!

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We visited family on Sunday and these two babes were spoiled.

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I always carry a spare cardigan of Giada’s. She wears it backwards to protect her clothes!

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What a difference a year makes.  Our little family one year apart.

Left is Easter 2014. Right is Easter 2015.

Whew. I think that’s it! What great memories we made!



Be Who You Are…and let your kids too!

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I am lucky enough to be raising two very independent children.  At the young ages they are both of them know what they want and won’t back down until they get it. Sometimes it’s frustrating for me, but just recently it taught me a very important lesson.

Yesterday morning my son, Ari, woke up a little cranky before it was time to go to preschool. He had an empty paper towel roll but somehow it had been “smushed” during the night by our giant dog. He was crabbing and I was trying to get everyone out the door on time. Before we left Ari insisted I give him some string so that he could make a necklace out of his paper towel roll. Since the morning was already a little rocky I went with it. I knew if I didn’t it would take us even longer to get out the door. So I helped him quickly make a necklace that was about the width of his entire body. It literally took me 30 seconds and in an instant his entire mood changed. Ari was so proud of what he had made.


We brought the necklace in the car, but I was secretly hoping he would forget about it by the time we got to preschool. Silly me to think he would forget about such a creation. As we were getting out of the car I kept asking him “Are you sure you want to bring that in?”. Confidently he said “Yes”. Ari is one of the youngest children in his entire preschool program so I was a little nervous for the outcome. In the back of my mind I kept worrying what others would think… Are the kids going to make fun of him? He was wearing a paper towel roll around his neck! What will his teachers think of this necklace? Will he get his feelings hurt?

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Little man was not taking no for an answer, though. He strolled into preschool confident as ever wearing his paper towel necklace.  A few other boys greeted him and started talking about their plans for a playdate that night while I put his things away.  As Ari was sitting down to eat breakfast a few little boys started asking him about his “tube” and where he got it. They wanted one like him. As I was watching them talk I couldn’t help but notice the pride and confidence my son was exuding. Ari was smiling from ear to ear telling his friends about his necklace that he made.

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We live in a time where image is everything. Every single life event is photographed and uploaded. Social media feeds are plastered with images of how people should look. As parents, its all to easy to get wrapped up in that when it comes to raising our little ones. I find myself all too guilty of trying to create the perfect image. My children are always dressed to perfection and forget about letting them leave the house in something that isn’t photo worthy. Today, though, made me realize that isn’t what’s important.  All this pressure we put on ourselves is silly. Sometimes I need to stop and remember that these little babes I am raising are both unique humans with their own BIG ideas. Who am I to prevent them from just being themselves?

Instead of helping them look the best they can… I need to help them BE the best they can.

Even if it means allowing them to dress silly and wear paper towel necklaces to preschool.


Everytime I come around your city, Bling Bling

 So…. it all started when Giada was around 6 months old….


 I would dress her up and put her in one of my necklaces…It made picture taking easy because instead of trying to escape, she was infatuated with the necklace around her neck.IMG_20140324_111712

Fast forward to now. Giada is almost 2, although sometimes it seems like she’s almost 22, and I still give her necklaces to wear when I want her to smile for a picture.  The only difference now? She won’t take them off.

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I came to the realization that Giada needed her own collection of jewelry.  If you know me by now you will know I don’t do anything in moderation. She couldn’t have just one necklace to wear with her entire wardrobe?!?!?

….and so I was on the hunt for someone to make us a collection FAST!


Insert AK’s Hidden Gems, a local Shelby Township mom that makes the cutest jewelry for moms and babes! I messaged her pics of Giada’s clothes and she quickly made us a plethora of necklaces and bracelets to coordinate.


The sets are made for children and are sized appropriately.  Like any potentially hazardous item, though, I never leave Giada wearing her jewelry unattended.

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Does your little diva need some accessories? You are in LUCK! She is offering 10% off to all my followers. Just enter BESTDRESSEDBABES2015 at checkout on Etsy.

Go like AK’s Hidden Gems on Facebook for discounts and a giveaway coming so SOON!