Saturday, October 1, 2022

Jack's Day Out at Sesame Street Live

As a parent, I try my best to plan activities for both kids that they'll like.  Scarlett and Jack both love the playground, the local children's museum, the nature center, etc.  I do like to make sure they have separate one-on-one outings with me though to ensure we remain close and have a strong bond.  Scarlett chooses things that may be older for Jack like pottery painting.  I want to make sure my children always have fond memories and fun outings with their mom as they grow older.  When I discovered that Sesame Street Live had a tour stop near us I knew Jack would love it.

Sesame Street is one of those classic shows that everyone grows up on.  The show has changed slightly over time to keep up with the current times and bring on new characters, but the education aspect remains prominent.  I grew up enjoying the show and so did Scarlett. Both of my children really loved Elmo and I love that they are able to learn through an enjoyable show.  Scarlett actually went to Sesame Street Live when she was 18 months old and had the time of her life.  She wore an Elmo shirt and danced and smiled so much.  I knew that I wanted Jack to have the same experience too.

The show was at Total Mortgage Arena in Bridgeport, CT.  I had been to the arena previously, but any time I have the opportunity to attend a live show it's always fun.  Plus, I am making special memories with Jack, so what can be better? The arena is conveniently located right off of i95 making it easy for anyone coming from any direction.  The parking fee is cash only so make sure you're prepared ahead of time!  We parked in the parking garage directly across the street and walked over to the arena.  Jack was so ready to see Elmo and all the Sesame Street friends! He was even wearing an Elmo shirt to commemorate the day. 

Once we walked in, there were vendors selling all sorts of Sesame related goodies.  You could have popcorn or a snowcone out of a commemorative Sesame themed cup, or even take a picture with an Elmo and Abby background for a fee. If you came hungry, there are definitely some arena favorites ready to fill your belly.  I saw pretzels, burgers, hot dogs, fries, and many other typical event snacks and drinks.  Jack and I didn't partake in anything to eat, but he was very interested in the ice cream for sale!  The arena is very clean and everything there is organized and run efficiently.

We did have passes for the meet and greet before the show but unfortunately couldn't go because of Jack's nap.  I was sad for Jack but it's so hard with toddler naps!

The staff at Total Mortgage Arena were friendly and helpful when I needed help finding my seats.  Jack and I were lucky (and very grateful) to have third row floor seats which was fantastic.  Everything is better when it's close to the stage.  Since I came with a stroller, one of the workers showed me where I could park it and pick it up at the end of the show.  I was grateful for this since I didn't have to worry about it being in the way of anyone coming through.  If you have a higher up seat, I am not sure what the people up there do with their strollers.  Maybe there's a separate area in that section for stroller parking.

Since Jack had never been to a live show before he didn't really understand what to do at first and I had to talk him through it.  He wanted to sit in a different section and also just walk around a bit before the show started.  I told him we had to sit where we were assigned! He was okay quickly after and I distracted him with my phone until the show started. Once the show started he was in total awe.  His favorites were alive right in front of his face! It was a magical time for sure.  The show premise was very cute and was centered around finding magic that is possible anytime you believe in yourself.  The message is uplifting and inspirational for young children.

There was so much dancing and singing from the characters on stage! It was adorable to see all of the children around Jack dancing, clapping, and just absolutely loving the show.  Jack also was having a blast and was able to dance in the aisles along with the other children.  I've never seen him so happy! He really was loving life. 

I have to give a shout out to the security employee who was sitting in front of the stage at this show.  He let Jack and a few other children get a few feet away from the stage and didn't stop them.  Can you imagine being a young child and having the opportunity to have Elmo and Big Bird that close to you? It's certainly an experience not every child gets! He was so nice and accommodating when not everyone else would have been and could have instructed the children to sit back down.

The interactive elements in the aisles really helped Jack.  I think if he was required to sit the entire time that he wouldn't have done that well.  Jack needs to move and walk so this was perfect for him.

All of the costumes were eye-catching and the props were fun and brought an element of surprise to the show too.  There were some Sesame classic songs from the show and also some new ones performed just for this show.  I felt the sound from microphones was perfect and we were able to hear everything very clearly.  

There's a 15 minute intermission which allows you to get up and stretch your legs and take a break.  Jack walked around the arena which helped him to burn a little energy and get ready for the final part of the show.

The final part of the show was fantastic.  It ended with some surprise confetti and bubbles and all of the kids went wild.  I felt the whole show ran smoothly and flawlessly.  From start to finish Jack was entertained every step of the way.  It definitely was an exciting day and I was so happy to have shared such a special experience with my favorite boy.

Taking Jack to his first live show will always be a happy memory I treasure.  Children are only small for so young and it's important to me to pack as much in with my children as I can. 

If you're looking for something fun to do with your young child, why not buy some Sesame Street Live tickets for you both today?

*DISCLOSURE* Thank you to Total Mortgage Arena and Sesame Street Live for providing tickets in order to facilitate this post.  All thoughts are strictly my own. 

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Find Some Joy Online with

As a stay-at-home-mom of young kids, I generally don't have much time for myself.  Once my kids are in bed for the night, I take some time to myself.  I may scroll through social media on my phone or find a movie to watch depending on if I'm not too tired.  One thing I really enjoy though is playing online games.  I feel that having something like online slots or Tetris really brings me joy and helps me decompress after a long day. is the jackpot for all solitaire lovers.  With over 100 different free online versions of solitaire, any player would be in heaven.  Choose from huge spider solitaire, wasp solitaire, Scottish solitaire, solitaire garden 2, and so many others.  There's truly a version of solitaire for whichever type you're looking for.  

If solitaire isn't the game that interests you, why not try something else on the website? At the top of the website there are game categories to choose from like word games, Mahjong, logic puzzles, hidden objects, and even matching games.  If you like card games, you'll love the classics like blackjack, crazy eights, and gin rummy.  All the games are completely free, there's no membership or any kind of registration system.  You can play whenever you want in the comfort of your own home. 

I am more interested in the game categories of hidden objects, or candy house matching in the matching section.  I find that they are more interactive and keep me interested and entertained.  If you're unsure of how to play a game, there are helpful rules displayed underneath the game.

One of the first games I played was the hidden garden game.  The background of the game is a garden and on the bottom of the picture bank is objects you're supposed to find within the garden.  It's like an online version of iSpy, which is so fun.  You do have to act quickly though because you're being timed! If you click on the wrong object time is deducted from the ticking clock, leaving you even less time to find what you need to find! There are different versions of the hidden games including a kitchen and a hotel. 

For the matching games, I was most interested in trying the tetra block game.  This is a neon lights colored tetris game.  Make sure you move quick enough to make all of your falling blocks match up! This is definitely a great way to keep your mind sharp and thinking.  It isn't easy to think of block placement as each set of blocks rapidly falls with a timer going! 

There are still so many games for me to explore on with my free time.  If you're looking for a fun way to pass the time, why not make it a game day?

*DISCLOSURE* This is a collaborative post.  All thoughts are strictly my own. 
Thursday, September 15, 2022

Jack's Speech Therapy Journey

One thing I never thought about before having kids is that my children could potentially have speech issues.  It honestly never crossed my mind.  I babysat for children for years and none of them ever had any speech problems.  I was never around a child who did.

When Scarlett was born, I just assumed she'd talk within a given amount of time.  When the time came for her to be on track to speaking, it didn't happen.  We started speech therapy for her and in time words came out.  Her speech issues were very mild and easily corrected.  

Fast forward to when Jack was born, I didn't really think about him having issues with speaking because I thought maybe it was a one off thing with Scarlett.  They say that second-born children often speak quicker than first-born children because they want to keep up with their siblings.  Around 18 months or so, we brought up our speech concerns to Jack's pediatrician.  They weren't too concerned but referred us to our local evaluation program called Birth to 3.  Birth to 3 is the same program Scarlett was in for speech.  They work with children who have a variety of needs that need to be addressed, essentially from birth to age 3 free of charge. 

Jack was evaluated for services and qualified for play-based speech help.  He started in August 2021 at age 2 and would end in August 2022 when he turned 3.  We were offered one day a week for an hour.  Before we began, the therapist and I made goals for Jack to hit at various points.  If they were made, we made more goals we wanted to reach.  I followed the advice, tips, and treatment plan given by the speech therapist.  

His speech therapist left for maternity leave in March 2022 and was replaced by someone virtually.  This was difficult.  It's not easy to have speech therapy on a computer screen.  Jack would sometimes run off because he wasn't interested.  I finally realized I could just bring the computer in his room and lock he door so he couldn't walk off.  Some sessions were harder than others.  He would cooperate to an extent and then just want to do his own thing.  Sometimes he would be able to focus more than the previous session.  Each week really was a gamble and it was difficult.

I knew that Jack was going to be okay because cognitively he is perfect.  He understands everything he just can't get his words out for whatever reason.  Jack can point to a picture of a bird in a book if you ask, and if you tell him to go get his shoes from the front door he will.  I can't get a straight answer out of anyone when I ask why he isn't speaking more at his age.  He also tested negative for autism back in February.

As the months rolled on by, we didn't see much progress.  Jack remained the happy little boy he was, just without many words.  It was depressing.  When Birth to 3 was nearing the end of his year of speech help, he was evaluated yet again by a local center to see if he qualified to receive a slot at a special needs preschool.  He did not qualify for a spot, but qualified for free state speech help which he would receive in September.  Jack was offered two 30 minute sessions a week at his preschool, which he started about 2 weeks ago.  This was less than I wanted, but I needed anything at that point.  He is also working with a private speech therapist, so he has 3 total days of speech therapy a week now. 

Birth to 3 ended on August 31st, right after his third birthday.  They were nice enough to let us continue through the month of August, even after his third birthday on August 8th.  

In the last few weeks of Birth to 3, Jack started making slow but steady progress and continues to do so.  He is able to say Lynnie, car, go, and a few other words.  On a good day he may have about 10-15 total words. He finally started being able to label Scarlett too.  He doesn't say Scarlett, but says goo goo.  It's something at least because he never had a name for her before.  She is not a fan of it, but it's progress in my eyes.  We are pushing Jack to work harder and be able to speak more confidently and more clearly. 

It's very difficult to be a mother of a child who has an extreme speech delay.  I have a lot of worries for Jack as I don't know when this journey will end, or where it will take us.  He is going to have difficulties making friends because he lacks communication.  You can only play silently next to a child for so long.  Are kids going to make fun of him? Will he miraculously start speaking on his own? Will it take another year to speak in sentences? We have no idea what the future holds for him and it is scary.  It's hard to have children want to play with him at the playground and they say hello and he cannot answer.  I tell the parents he's speech delayed so they don't think Jack is just a rude or unfriendly child.  It can be sad and depressing.  I just try to push on and do everything we can for him.

Jack is happy and full of life and energy.  He loves cars, snacks, being outside, Elmo, and so many other things.  I just hope he can catch up to where he needs to be at some point.  

In the mean time, we are there to help Jack every step of the way to be the best he can be.