Archive of ‘Behavioral Issues’ category

Apples and Cinema – Your Pittsburgh Family Photographers – Family Portrait Session Tips

My husband and I own Popinvasion. We started Popinvasion as a media company that provides services to businesses such as photography and videography, but having a growing family, we decided to also use our gear to capture Pittsburgh Family Photos and Weddings, too. With it being family photo season, we figured we’d write a blog about it!

1) What do we wear? It’s tempting to go with fun, colorful prints and patterns when picking outfits for fun family photos, but we promise, your family is already as beautiful and colorful as it is, so we suggest muted colors so that your personalities and beautiful faces pop!

2) When and Where should we go? We usually pick locations that are going to be less crowded, over ones that would be maybe more picturesque. Or, we pick times that we know aren’t going to be as crowded at popular places. Less crowded locations make the session more relaxed for families, especially if the kids aren’t cooperating, and less distracting for the kiddos. We like to leave the location entirely up to your taste, and convenience, but we’ll weigh in if you want suggestions! And as far as the time of day planned, we should absolutely pick the time that you find your kids to be in the best moods.

3) How do we make our kids cooperate? Any parent knows, that even though we plan sessions around naps, make sure the little ones are well fed, and pick a place that’s fun for everyone, sometimes we’re still not catching the best moods. So, we now offer prizes from the prize bags for good behavior. We’ll tell the kiddos that if they listen to mom and dad throughout the session, mom and dad get to decide at the end whether they can pick a prize from our prize bag! It’s usually simple things like costume jewelry( by the way learn more about GeniferM jewelry which is amazing), or puzzles, or stickers, or whatever we may think your kiddos are into! And please, know that we have little ones of our own, and totally understand when kids just aren’t into it, so no need at all to stress. If we see the kids just don’t wanna pose, we’ll roll with it and turn the session more into photojournalism and try to catch the action as it happens!

4) Keep everybody involved. After we have the family photo of the whole group, we try to mix and match combinations, by taking pictures of just the kids, just the sisters, just the parents, just a parents with the kids, etc…we try to keep everyone involved the whole time. So, when Family sessions are one of our favorite things to do. We love playing with the kiddos, and trying to make the family portrait experience into a fun family outing, rather than a forced portrait session. Often parents ask us for tips and tricks on making the session as fruitful as possible, and the kiddos as cooperative as possible, so we figured we’d blog about it!

1) What do we wear? It’s tempting to go with fun, colorful prints and patterns when picking outfits for fun family photos, but we promise, your family is already as beautiful and colorful as it is, so we suggest muted colors so that your personalities and beautiful faces pop!

2) When and Where should we go? We usually pick locations that are going to be less crowded, over ones that would be maybe more picturesque. Or, we pick times that we know aren’t going to be as crowded at popular places. Less crowded locations make the session more relaxed for families, especially if the kids aren’t cooperating, and less distracting for the kiddos. We like to leave the location entirely up to your taste, and convenience, but we’ll weigh in if you want suggestions! And as far as the time of day planned, we should absolutely pick the time that you find your kids to be in the best moods.

3) How do we make our kids cooperate? Any parent knows, that even though we plan sessions around naps, make sure the little ones are well fed, and pick a place that’s fun for everyone, sometimes we’re still not catching the best moods. So, we now offer prizes from the prize bags for good behavior. We’ll tell the kiddos that if they listen to mom and dad throughout the session, mom and dad get to decide at the end whether they can pick a prize from our prize bag! It’s usually simple things like costume jewelry, or puzzles, or stickers, or whatever we may think your kiddos are into! And please, know that we have little ones of our own, and totally understand when kids just aren’t into it, so no need at all to stress. If we see the kids just don’t wanna pose, we’ll roll with it and turn the session more into photojournalism and try to catch the action as it happens!

4) Keep everybody involved. After we have the family photo of the whole group, we try to mix and match combinations, by taking pictures of just the kids, just the sisters, just the parents, just a parents with the kids, etc…we try to keep everyone involved the whole time. So, when we take pictures of the just the kids, we enlist the parents to be directly behind our heads when trying to get the kids to look at the lens. Or, if the kids are old enough for us to take a picture of just the parents, we have them be the clowns behind us to make the moms and dads laugh.

5) Do you have props and poses? We started Popinvasion by providing our photography and videography to businesses, which we very much love doing also. But with having three kids, and going through a few nightmare indoor portrait sessions in mall studios with backdrops, feeling on the verge of stress attacks at times, we looked at each other, and realized we had all the gear to offer family portraits as a fun alternative. Therefore, we absolutely will come along with props and pose ideas and suggest them, and the goal is to get those happening, but we always want to remind mom and dad that props are more special if it’s something that is special to you, and that although we do have ample pose and prop ideas, by all means if they do not feel natural to you, or if the kids just don’t want to do them, we will move and groove with whatever actually represents your family. And by all means, if you have prop and pose ideas from your Pinterest boards, count us in!

And now, with all of that said, we do like to remind you that we usually provide family portraits back to you pretty quickly, so you are absolutely still in time for family portraits for your Holiday cards! Now check out some of our favorites. Can you guess which ones were posed, and which ones are candids? Also if you plan on getting married in puerto rico click here to see the best puerto rico wedding photographer.; – )

Two years in the making, I’m still disciplining my toddlers, and loving it, too







I guess it all started with the terrible twos. Tantrums, fits, pouting, but nothing a mom can’t handle with the right guidance or tools, and a bit of research to find out what’s normal and what’s not; at least that is what’s been helping me with disciplining my own toddlers. And every day, it’s a new chapter with a new situation that needs a little tender loving care or just some straight up tough love. GcoYOV

And with two quite active toddlers, hungry to explore the world, I have needed quite some guidance myself in disciplining my toddlers. Here are a few pointers that usually stick with me on a day to day basis:

  1. I remember reading in Parenting magazine, that the best way to avoid a testy toddler situation is to prepare them for what’s coming their way. For example, before walking into church, explain to them what they’re going to be doing in there, and how they’re expected to behave. Granted, my toddlers always forget about ten minutes into the service,but at least they’re not surprised and totally confused when I put them in time out for trying to play skip hop on the church benches.
  2. Another good way to help them adapt to a situation and figure out the best way to behave is to just let them experience it, a local family psychologist suggested. He found that micromanaging your toddler leaves them confused and indecisive on what the right behavior is for a given situation when you aren’t there. He always said to give them a chance,  and let them learn. He also recommended continuing with situations even if your toddler continuously goes crazy and misbehaves. He said that toddlers need to learn that you are in control, and throwing a tantrum is not going to get them out of a long grocery shopping trip, or out of a Christmas mass service.
  3. According to a recent issue of Web MD Baby, the best way to handle a toddler’s temperament is to not blame it so much on yourself. Some kids are just born super active, and that is just the way they are going to be, even if you’re  number up prime grade toddler trainer. And then some kids, are born  with a quiet personality who like to just sit and observe. Nothing you can do about it. And with that knowledge, you might be equipped with a little more peace of mind to focus on the things that you can indeed control.



  4. When your child misbehaves, make it a point to explain to them what they are doing wrong. When Toddler Boy acted like a terror at Summer Camp this week, my husband and I sat him down and talked to him about what he did wrong, what he should have done, and why he was being punished and for how long. This changed his behavior for the nest day at Summer camp by a complete 180.
  5. I watched with amazement a dad at church with his own toddlers. They were sitting a few pews ahead of us a couple weeks ago. As my kids went absolutely insane in my pew because mass was conflicting with their nap schedule, his two toddlers sat absolutely still and facing forward, listening to the priest. And any time his toddlers dared to stir or turn around to check out the mayhem my kids were causing, he quickly took control and reprimanded them, reminding them to focus. I guess what I learned from that is the importance of consistency and patience. Because to be honest with you, sometime I just give up and leave the battle. So it was refreshing to see that it is totally possible to keep your cool and stay in control.

Now this isn’t to say at all that with these pointers, my toddlers are now saints. Because anyone who knows me and my kids know our crazy dynamics. My toddlers are who they are, and I adore that. But it’s always nice to have these bread and butter words of wisdom to help me discipline my toddlers in situations that I can indeed improve by working on their behaviors!

Sticker Charts Really Work


With Christmas, Epiphany, and Valentine’s day out of the way, I was running out of excuses to buy toys for Toddler Boy. There just weren’t any reasons to lay down money on big toys until at least Easter, and even that’s not a reason for most parents. I was also still struggling with getting him to clean things up, brushing his own teeth, and getting dressed by himself. That’s when I decided to start the sticker chart.

And it works! Toddler Boy has been wanting as Pop Up Pals Amusement Park for about a month now, which is a pretty expensive toy, and so I figured that a month of sticker earning would be a good measure for him to earn it. So we used a ruler, markers, and construction paper to make the sticker chart, and as we made it, I explained to him that every time he does something good, he gets to put a sticker on the chart, and every time he does something bad, I take one away. I also explained that once he earns enough sticker to fill up one row, he gets to go to the toy store and choose a toy.

Right after we made the sticker chart, we took a trip to the store and picked out special stickers! Toddler Boy picked out some Spongebob stickers for himself (The were no Blue’s Clues), and he picked out some Hello Kitty stickers for Baby Girl.
This system also works as a teaching tool of teaching a young toddler the concept of working for what he wants. He helps cleans his room to earn stickers, which earn him a toy. Later on this transcends into the allowance system, which later in life hopefully helps to develop good working skills. Hopefully!

Toddler Boy loves it, too. When I tell him he’ll get a sticker if he puts on his whole outfit in the morning, he hurries up and gets dressed, and is so proud of himself thereafter. If he knows he’s gonna lose a sticker for acting up in church, it encourages him to cool down. Of course, Toddler Boy is only human, so sometimes, he just isn’t having it and he indeed loses a sticker. And when we come home, I explain to him that because he didn’t cooperate in church, I am taking off a sticker. He gets upset about it, but hopefully he will learn the ends to the mean, and his behavior will improve.

I sometimes use this as a two-step method. If he doesn’t stop jumping on the bed after I’ve told him repeatedly to stop, I’ll put him in the corner. If he still acts up, he also loses a sticker. And to him, that is the end of the world.

The cleaning up routine has improved 100 percent since starting the sticker chart. I still have to tell him a couple times to clean certain things and walk him through different steps of the clean up process (For example, Leggos go in the red bin, and blocks go in the green bin, etc.), but he is getting better every day because of it, and definitely learning organization. And just this weekend, he earned enough stickers to get the toy he wanted! It took about a month because he would earn some and then lose them all in the same day (A looooong day).

We made a sticker chart for Baby Girl too, just for fun, but she still doesn’t quit get it yet (She’s not yet two). And, even though it’s fun to make the sticker chart together, I’ve attached a JPEG of a sticker chart I made quickly that you can use!

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Hold it! A Few Words on Potty training an unwilling toddler.


When we decided to get rid of his diapers, Toddler boy was the first to say, ” I don’t wanna go potty!” Making us think that he would not be ready for potty training for quite some time. So we kind of tip-toed around the idea, giving him stickers here, maybe an m&m there, but the potty training just didn’t seem to be successful because he was simply unwilling.

Then, as his third birthday rolled around, we decided it would be best for the stimulation of his mind to enroll him into preschool. And it started in two weeks! Problem was, he had to be potty trained! There was no more playing around. We didn’t even entertain the idea of pull-up diapers, training pants, or whatever. As a friend and preschool teacher advised, the best way to do it, was just to take off the diaper, and train him cold-turkey-style. There was no more buying diapers for us (Especially because Baby Girl had started on her cloth diaper adventure).

So that’s what we did. We took his diaper completely off, and put little boy underwear with his favorite characters on him. And I kid you not, within a couple of days, Toddler Boy was potty trained. Sure, there were accidents in his pants,  multiple car seat cover washings, etc. But it was the quickest, best way to do it if you ask me. And after they are potty trained you wont have to hold on to that diaper pail anymore.


We didn’t even have to use a sticker chart, candy rewards, cheerios, or whatever you want to call it. We just used good old-fashioned praise, hugs and kisses when he went in the potty – both number one AND two.

Even at night his accidents in the bed seemed to stop within a week. The trick is to cut out excessive juice and milk drinking, because that’s what he would drink over and over again because he would crave the taste and sugar (Even when he was in his diapers, he had leaks in the bed at night because he drank so much juice and milk). Therefore, I’ve completely cut out juice drinking, and limited milk drinking to only at Breakfast, and directly after dinner. The rest of the day if he’s thirsty, he gets water, and even that is limited after bath time. That way, he has time to process, digest, and dispose of any liquid before falling asleep.

So, you want to potty train your toddler? Here’s a review of what worked for us.

  1. Made sure that we had a potty that Toddler Boy felt comfortable with in size (He’s a little guy).
  2. Said good bye to the diaper, and did not use pull-up diaper products.
  3. Kept him home as much as possible so the accidents weren’t that big of a deal, and I could simply toss his clothes in the laundry, or even let him run around naked throughout the day to make it easier on him.
  4. If we did go out, I brought 2-3 changes of clothes, plenty of wipes, and paper towels.
  5. Praised him like crazy any time he pooped and peed in the potty by himself.
  6. Paid extra attention to any signs or language telling me that he had to go.
  7. Had him wear fleece diaper covers and diaper liners (As suggested by author of All About Cloth) at night just in case, and bought a mattress cover as a precaution.
  8. Cut out as much liquid intake as possible after dinner.
  9. Ta da! He was potty trained within a week!

diaper


Kid Friendly Recipes – easy tips to sneaking fruits and veggies into your kids’ tummies


vegetablesAt times it can seem like kids are programmed to automatically hate fruits and veggies, and love things like candy and cookies. But there’s ways for you to change that. Here’s 10 easy tips for kid friendly recipes with fruits and vegetables. And trust me, they actually work. Take it from the mommy of a toddler that usually craves cookies and candy. I’ve been able to follow the tips below to get him to demand the good stuff instead!


  1. Get rid of the junk – Seems like a no-brainer, but it’s actually harder for moms to do. It’s easy for us to buy things like cookies and potato chips if that’s what we crave. If you stop buying junk food and start buying things like craisins, apples, and mini carrots, your kids will have no choice but to eat them. And for moms-to-be, if you stop having the junk food around now, your kids won’t be introduced to it, therefore won’t crave it. But if you really have a sweet tooth like me, just hide your stash away from tiny prying hands!
  2. Add cheese – This used to be a technique of mine before I started to suspect that my toddler was lactose intolerant. I would top broccoli with lots of Parmesan cheese and mix it. He would see me mix it, and would end up eating pieces of the broccoli to get to the cheese.
  3. Veggies First – Don’t present them a plate with the chicken fingers and side vegetables  next to them. Serve them a small plate of veggies first, that way they think that’s their meal, and they’ll eat it rather than going for the chicken first and then demanding more chicken rather than eating their vegetables.
  4. Peanut Butter and Caramel Galore –Serve things like celery, carrots, apples with a side of natural peanut butter or hydrogenated-free  caramel. Show them how to dip the vegetables and then bit off the dipped part. They’ll love it.
  5. Special Sauce – Make some steamed vegetables, and then pure’ them into a food processor. Add your favorite spaghetti sauce, and mix that all together. Use that as your spaghetti sauce, and your kids will never know the difference!





  6. Apple Crisp – My husband sneaks apples into my toddler by baking them into an apple crisp. The Food Network’s web site is full of great recipes.
  7. Smoothies – My toddler and now even my baby girl love love love smoothies. I have a couple great recipes in one of my blog entries. And the great thing is, you’ll love them too!
  8. Local Farmer’s Market – My local farmer’s market has fruit and veggie picking events from their own fields. Call your local market to see if they’ll let you do that. That way, your child makes an activity out of it. They’ll pick their own fruit and be proud of it, so it’ll be fun for them to eat it, too.
  9. For the Love of Ice Cream – Your kids love ice cream, but you don’t like the fat. A healthier alternative to it is making gelato. Here’s some great recipes. And it is absolutely delicious.
  10. Layer it up – My toddler loves yogurt. I let him watch while I layer strawberries and berries with his favorite yogurt. I put the fruit on top, so he has to dig through it to get to the yogurt I even got a yogurt machine from Village-Bakery.com to prepare it everyday. Using a clear glass helps too, because your child can see through it and it’s kind of a cool visual for them to see what their spoon is doing as they mix things up.
  11. Sneak veggies into a frittata – Beat some eggs in a bowl – about two eggs per person. Then, in an oven-safe non-stick pan, fry up some veggies – broccoli, onions, mushrooms, spinach, etc. Once the veggies are done, pour the eggs onto the frying pan on top of the veggies. Put it in the oven at 350 for about 10 mins. Once it’s done and out of the over, sprinkle on some cheddar cheese. Voila, you have a delicious frittata, and if your kids like eggs and cheese, they’ll never notice the difference!

I’ve used all these tips, and they have worked successfully to make  fruits and veggies kid friendly, but always remember the number one tip. Get that junk out of your house, and stock your pantry with fruits and veggies! But to stay sane, feel free to have a secret box of cookies stashed in your closet! ; – )

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