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Learning to Appreciate the Unexpected

When you are a parent, you learn to expect the unexpected.  As much as you try, you cannot plan for every eventuality or situation.  Our expectations are inextricably tied to our hopes and dreams.  Sometimes when the unexpected happens, our hopes and dreams have to change.  We may end up in a completely different place than our expected destination.  When you find out that your baby or toddler may have delays or a disability, your parenting journey will undoubtedly change.  I wanted to share with you an essay from a parent that describes the experience of learning to appreciate an unexpected change in direction.


Emily Perl Kingsley

c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

Final Thoughts:

Remember, it may not be easy to think about, discuss, or consider that your child may have a developmental delay.  Talk with a family member or friend about your feelings and don’t feel bad if you need a little extra support through the process!  We would also love to be part of your journey.  Contact the Parent Education –Infant Development Program of the RACSB:

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Do you want to build a snowman? Fun activities to do with toddlers in the snow

So you have stocked up on bread and milk, prepared for the possibility of a power outage, and have located your snow shovel.  You are ready for this year's “Snowmageddon”!  But once those flakes start to fall, the excitement builds and your child anxiously awaits a chance to play in the snow.  Here are some fun activities to encourage learning and family fun out there.


1.        Build a snow man.  Big or small, they are all fun!  But, don’t be afraid to let your creative side out!  Snow castles are fun, too!  Break out your sand buckets, cups, pots, pans, or any containers.  Your toddler will have fun filling and packing the snow into the container.  Flip it over and talk about the shapes. 

2.       Use nature!  Find small pieces of nature to embellish your creations and to make marks in the snow. 

3.       Snow dance!  Look at the patterns your dance makes in the snow.

4.       Mix some food coloring with water and let the artist emerge.  I like putting it into spray bottles and letting the kids spray away.  Water guns are also fun.  The “paint” can be used to accent snow creatures or paint the snow like a canvas. 

5.       Go sledding! 


6.       Play hide and seek with toys in the snow.

7.       If your toddler is too young to go outside, put some snow in pots or buckets and put in the bathtub with them.  The same fun with less mess!

8.       Dump, load, and drive toy vehicles in the snow.  Make a snow maze or snow city.

9.       Whip up some snow cones or snow cream.  Add your favorite juice.


10.   The fun doesn't have stop when you are back inside.  There is no better time to curl up with your favorite book and cuddle with your little one. 

The most important thing to remember is to have fun!  No matter what you do, you are building memories with your child!


Mark your calendars to come play with us!

The Parent Education – Infant Development program and the Children’s Museum of Richmond’s Fredericksburg location invite you to come and play with us at the “Special Night for Special Needs”.  This event will be held this February 5, 2016 from 5:30-7:30 p.m.  This event is FREE for children with special needs, ages birth to 10 years of age, and their families!  You will have full access to all of the museum’s activities, a performance by the Rappahannock Kids on the Block, and a special story time.  The staff of the PEID program will be there to help children and families access the activities.  No need to RSVP, just show up!  If you have any questions, please feel free to call (540) 372-3561.  Funding for this activity is provided by the Anne Felder Fund of the Community Foundation of the Rappahannock River Region.  We look forward to seeing you!

Final thoughts:  If you have concerns or questions about your child’s development, we can help!  Remember, Babies Can’t Wait!  Contact the Parent Education –Infant Development Program of the RACSB:  Check us out on Facebook or online at

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Just Two...

I love New Year’s resolutions!  I love the thought of new beginnings and working towards improvement.  What usually happens, though, is I make my list of all the things that I want to accomplish in the New Year and then life happens.  I never have finished my list for any year.  Most of the time, I do not even cross a handful off of the list.  So, this year, I decided to do things a little differently. 

happy new year

First, I did not wait until January 1st to start my list or my resolutions.  I actually started about a month before the “magical” new beginning.  I had noticed two things that I wanted to focus on and I started that day to make the change.  Yes, I missed the tradition of cozying up on the couch with my pen and paper and making the long list of “plans” on New Year’s Day, but I also have already benefited greatly from my changes.  The point is, there is really no special “magic” about New Year’s.  You do not have to wait until January 1 of any year to make changes.  It could happen on a random Tuesday in November and that is OK.

clipboard with blank check list checked or ticked G1mkC4D

Second, my list is a great deal shorter than years gone by.  Instead of long flowing lists filled with the best of intentions, my “list” this year has just two items.  In the past, my lists included many things that I wanted to change about myself which would benefit or improve the person I am.  Lose 10 pounds, exercise more, save more money, etc.  Do not get me wrong, these are fantastic goals to have, but for me the focus is a little different this year.  Both of the items on my list require changes in me, but the benefits are for my children.  Yes, my two resolutions are parenting resolutions.  So, here it goes.

Resolution #1:  “I love you, no buts about it”.


I love my children hands down without qualification.  I may not and often don’t, quite like everything they do or every choice they make.  However, this does not change the fact that I love them always.  However, I had caught myself in a very nasty habit.  My boys are quite mischievous and rambunctious.  I would say “I love you, Jackson, but you need to calm down” or “I love you, Nate, but you really need to eat more of your dinner”.  I realized that while I was trying to reassure them that I loved them even while setting limits, my words were saying that my love was a bit conditional.  So, I decided this would be my first change.  No more “buts” about it!  So, now it is “I love you, Daniel, and you need to stop running”.  By starting off just changing one word, I allowed time to “catch myself” and change the wording.  Ok, so maybe this is not a large, extravagant, mind-blowing change.  However, I have stuck to it and definitely feel better that my words now match my feelings of love without qualification. 

Resolution #2:  “Take Time to Marvel” 


I don’t mean Marvel Avengers or the new Captain America (although they will, without a doubt, take some of my time this year).  What I do mean, is to take time to marvel at my children or see the magic of everyday moments through their eyes.  I pride myself on being an efficient person.  Let’s get done what has to be done in a timely and effective manner.  My children fall very far from this branch of the tree.  My Daniel does not get in a hurry.  He is laid back and takes note of many things that I miss by rushing through the day.  So, my resolution is to take the time to marvel at each of my children every day.  Now, this does not mean that I will say “look at my little Einstein, he is so smart”, but more like “wow, how does he even make those environmental sounds when playing with his Halo men”.  What I have found so far is that the smallest, most easily missed “marvels” make great conversation starters with my children and have resulted in a great deal of smiles. 

So, there you go!  This is my quest for the upcoming year.  They are definitely mole hills compared to previous years, but they have resulted in mountainous returns.  What are your New Year’s resolutions?  I would love to hear about them!

Final thoughts:

If your New Year includes concerns about your baby’s or toddler’s development, remember, Babies Can’t Wait!  Contact the Parent Education –Infant Development Program of the RACSB:

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It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year: Preparing Babies and Toddlers for the Holidays!

Sleigh bells ring, lights sparkle, and Santa may be right around the corner.  The holiday season is here!  Everyone has a vision of how they would like holiday festivities to proceed for their family.  However, many babies and toddlers may not cooperate.    From screaming and crying with Santa or refusing to eat any of the holiday foods, toddlers may not react to holiday experiences like we would expect.  Here is a throw-back post with three quick tips to help you and your toddler navigate potential holiday landmines.


Remember routines.  Holiday traditions can be comforting to adults, but remember that we have had plenty of practice establishing routines and developing coping strategies for when these change.  However, your child is probably most comfortable in his or her daily routine which can differ significantly during the holidays.  Even small changes in routines can lead to big changes in toddler reactions.

-Try to keep schedule and routine as consistent as possible.

-If routine has to be altered or your family visits places out of the ordinary, try to have some familiar items, activities, or comfort items for your child.  Strange routines are unpredictable and sometimes scary for young children. 



Prepare for new experiences.  Babies and toddlers may not know what to expect of new holiday experiences.  Santa could be a scary, scary man.  Out-of-town family members may seem like strangers.  Think about what experiences may be new for your toddler and help him prepare for them.

                -Talk or read books about holiday experiences.

-Prepare and let your child explore holiday foods before the party.  Keep some “old-faithful” options on standby.

-Show your child pictures of family members or make a “Who will we see?” mini-picture album for your child to explore.  This way your toddler has multiple opportunities to see these faces and hear the names. 

-Talk about what is going to happen next.  Give your toddler some time to prepare for transitions between activities.



Watch your child’s signals.  You know your child better than anyone.  Keep an eye out for signals that your child is overwhelmed, scared, shy, or tired.  Plan a quiet spot that you can go with your child, if he or she starts to get upset or overwhelmed.  You may have to be a little flexible with your expectations as your child may need some time to adjust and take in all the excitement. 

Final thoughts:

Remember to consider what works best for you and your child!  No one type of tradition or strategy will be a good fit for every family.  If your child is having difficulty coping with new experiences or you have concerns about his or her development, we can help!  Remember, Babies Can’t Wait!  Contact the Parent Education –Infant Development Program of the RACSB:

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Read to Me!!

My favorite gifts for little children are books!  It is never too early (or too late) to start reading to your child.  Storytime with books promote social, cognitive, language development and promotes early literacy skills.  It is also tons of fun!  You don't have to take my word for it...I asked my friends at the Parent Education – Infant Development program to tell us about their favorite childhood books.

barnyard_dance.jpg brownbear.jpg chicka.jpg

goodnightmoon.jpg greeneggsandham.jpg littlebluetruck.jpg

moo_ba_hahaha.jpg puffthemagic.jpg nappinghouse.jpg

stop_that_ball.jpg whereveryouare.jpg youarehereforareason.jpg

Final thoughts:

Remember to consider what works best for you and your child’s interests!  If you have concerns about his or her development, we can help!  Remember, Babies Can’t Wait!  Find us on Facebook or contact the Parent Education –Infant Development Program of the RACSB:

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About Brandie

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Join my blog to find early childhood developmental tips, tidbits, strategies, and activities to support children and families.   As a mother of multiple sons (18, 14, 8, 6, and 3), I know that life can be hectic, so all strategies and activities can fit in the context of daily routines and places families typically go.

I am enthusiastic about supporting families who have concerns about their child’s development and helping connect them to desired resources.

Pouches' Community Corner

Trains, Planes and Automobiles Kids' Race Series


From a small beginning, Cathy Weise of the Ron Rosner YMCA has developed an ambitious three-race series for kids for this summer, with the help of The Great Train Race, Shannon Airport, Dominion Raceway & Entertainment, the Fredericksburg Area Service League and Race Timing Unlimited.

Great Train Race Director Jennifer Taylor was one of the first on board.