So I’ve discussed my struggles with my daughter Camille. One issue that has been confusing, is for a while is her inability to climb. It took her a while to climb anything (onto furniture, up the stairs, etc) even after she figured how to get up she could not get down. Even small things like a 12” tall toddler bed, or stepping off a 4” tall treadmill platform. Whenever she is at the top of something (bed, top of stairs, couch, etc) she would throw something off and watch it fall. Which to me, looked like she was dropping them off to see how long it took them to reach the floor. Until she got used to them, she was hesitant crossing different floor types. She wouldn’t walk from our kitchen to our living room because she wouldn’t step across the different floor types. She used to stand and cry in one room until someone picked her up and set her down in the next room. We were standing in our school gym once and she wouldn’t walk across the basketball lines. One day we were in a garage and she wanted to walk outside and there was maybe a two inch lip from the inside to the outside. She had to get on her hands and knees and crawl out; when she very easily could have walked out. Her team of therapists (and me) thought she had some sort of vision issues, specifically maybe depth perception. It made a lot of sense.
So i scheduled her an eye appt with a pediatric ophthalmologist. I was dreading the appt, but also excited at the same time. I was nervous because how in the hell were these people going to get her to sit for an eye appt?? she’s clearly not going to look into the lenses and say which number looks better. Is it better at 1…or better at 2? 2 or 3? Not to mention the whole eye blowing machine that makes even my buttcrack sweat waiting for it.
Nonetheless, the day came and we walked into the office of the unknown. The staff was incredible!!! We got our own waiting room with a movie and toys! I strategically got some breakfast on our way so she could occupy her mind and stomach while we waited. The first thing up was dilating her eyes. We went into a room with a tech and I had to lay her down on my lap, face up. I basically had to pin her down while the tech opened her eyes and put a drop in each. As you can imagine there was a lot of wriggling and screaming but this process lasted about a min and we were sent back to the waiting room while her eyes dilated all the way. A little fun fact, children’s eyes take longer to dilate than adults. Additionally, brown eyes also take longer to dilate than other eye colors. So since Camille has both of those characteristics it took about 20-25 minute for her eyes to dilate completely. When she was finished we went in the room with the doctor.
This was probably the easiest eye appt I’ve ever seen. I sat in the chair with her on my lap. The doctor held up a spinny/light-up toy in front of Camille to keep her eyes focused. He looked in each eye with a handheld lens. He then took a flashlight and shined it in her eyes while also distracted. And That was that!
Despite the surprisingly easy appointment, the results were lackluster. The good news is, there is nothing wrong with her eyes. The back news is, we still don’t know why she’s doing her goofy little things! The ophthalmologist said her optic nerve is intact and her far vision looked perfect. I mentioned she was being observed for autism and he said it definitely could just be a little quirk of hers that could be related to autism. He basically told me to ignore it and it will go away. It’s always reassuring to know that your kids are healthy. But why do I feel disappointed? I think my mind set was on there being something wrong with her eyes. We’ll get her glasses and she will start blossoming! Maybe she’ll start playing with baby toys, walking better, signing better, climbing better. Now that the glasses are out of the picture, I’m back to square one trying to get her to reach new milestones.
All I can do is help her the best I can and wait. Only time will tell. Next month Camille has her two year doctor appt and her official medical autism evaluation! So despite hitting a dead end on this, we have many more paths to take with my sweet sweet girl!!!
Let me begin with a disclaimer. I am NOT an expert, I did not go to school for speech and language pathology, I am not working in the field in any way. I am simply a mother of two children with speech and language delays who has been through this and has done her research. I hope after reading this, if you feel concerns with the children in your life, that you will do your own research and seek the services available to you. I will attach links at the bottom where I got my information!
What is the difference between speech and language?
Language is the entire system of words and symbols (including written, spoken, or expressed through gestures and body language). Speech is the actual sound of spoken language, including articulation of words/sounds.
Since there is a clear difference between speech and language it is important to know that there is a difference between a speech delay and a language delay.
[Examples] Language delay Child may not be communicating (whether its via talking, sign language, gestures, etc) the way they should be at their age. Speech delay Child may use words and phrases but is difficult to understand
All that being said, when should we start to notice if our child has a speech or language delay?
Before 12 months– Babies should begin cooing and babbling. By 9 months babies should be putting sounds together, using different tones, and say simple words like “mama” and “dada”. Lastly, before their first birthday, babies should pay attention to sounds and recognize the name to common objects (bottle, pacifier, mom, dad, etc).
12-15 months– Babbling at this age should have a range of speech sounds in their babbling (examples being P, B, M, D, N, etc), they should start imitating sounds and words, say one or more words, and follow one step directions (example- pick up the toy).
18-24 months– Most toddlers in this age group can say around 20 words by 18 months and at least 50 by 24 months. They should begin combining 2 or more words to make short sentences (Mama come, dad help, etc). Should be able to identify common objects and body parts when asked. By age two, children should start to follow two-step commands (pick it up and give it to mom.)
2-3 years– Over this year, most children have at least 200 words in their vocabulary (and as high as 1000 words!), begin to use 2-3 word sentences, say their name, use their personal pronouns (I, me, my, mine), and can be clearly understood by close family and friends.
At this point it is important to know, (and I’ve said this before), EVERY CHILD IS DIFFERENT. The data above are of the average development for children in those age groups. Maybe your child hasn’t met one of the guidelines for his/her age group, that’s OK! It doesn’t necessarily mean that something is wrong. You may see that in a few more months they have caught themselves up and are blossoming! On the flipside, they are also made so you can know when your child is not blossoming.
If your child is not meeting these developmental guidelines it is important to take action into your own hands rather than waiting for someone else to do something about it. I self-referred both my children to state programs. You don’t have to wait for a doctor to bring it up to you. Don’t be afraid to speak up. I know personally that it can be very scary when your child isn’t developing the way they should be and that it can be easy to overlook that there is an issue at all. However, it is our duty as parents to do everything we can to make sure out children grow and learn the way they should be.
Each state has their own federally mandated, state funded early intervention program, including Puerto Rico, Guam, US Virgin Islands, Commonwealth of Northern Marianna Islands, and American Samoa. Follow this LINK to find the contact number for your state. These programs have been a lifesaver for my family. Now, I am not familiar with each specific state’s program, but they are all completely FREE and work with children from birth-3 years. After the age of 3, children receive free benefits from their local school systems. If your child is in school, they will receive services during the school day, if your child is between age 3-5 and not yet in school, they can still receive free services at the school or, in some places, they may receive school services at their daycare/head start (if enrolled).
I hope that some of this helped someone out there!
When we’re young we all think of the mom were going to be. When you picture yourself having kids, what do you see? For me I always imagined walking down the sidewalk with my daughter, picking flowers, matching outfits. We’d play toys together, make cute Pinterest crafts, read books, make health snacks. My kids would spend most of their time playing outside than on screens and I would still have time to be the same me. (spoiler- a lot of those didn’t happen.)
I’m sure at some point all of us have said or thought the phrase “I would never be like that when I’m a parent.” Let’s all laugh together. The thing is, you never know what kind of parent you will be until you are actually a parent. There are a lot of factors that contribute to who you are as a parent.
The era/generation you live in impacts what type of parent you will be for sure. I became a parent when technology really boomed, so it’s no surprise that I find a lot of parenting tools in iPad apps (ABC mouse) and Netflix shows (Word Party). There is also a lot of hype in anti-vac and gluten free lifestyles now-a-days that weren’t really thought about 20-30 years ago.
Who you had as parents shapes who you will be as well. A lot of times you tend to morph into your parents. Have you ever said that you would NEVER do something that your parents did when you have your own children, then 15 years down the road you catch yourself saying the EXACT same thing they once said to you. Circle of life my friends. This one can work the exact opposite as well. Having a very strict upbringing could cause someone to be very lax and open with their own children.
What type of children you have can also shape your parenting style. What do I mean by that? For ME PERSONALLY- having two children on the spectrum changed the way I raised my children dramatically. My children have trouble listening/comprehending and difficulty processing emotions. I’ve had a very difficult time sitting down and reading books with them, being able to enforce rules, even sitting down to play with my children-something so natural- is usually a no-go.
Who you are as a person is probably the biggest thing, and the most predictable. If you are a generally health person, hands down your kids will reflect that. Someone who eats extremely healthy will try and instill that on their own children. If you had anger issues before children, seeing a whole poop diaper smeared into the carpet probably won’t make your anger issues better. If you’re a type A person, odds are you will be a type A parent. Of course, this isn’t true for everyone either. As I said before, you never know the type of parent you will be UNTIL you are a parent.
For fun, I thought of some “Mom types” and decided to turn myself into some and write their bios.
Sandra, 42 Been there, done that Mom. She is the veteran mom, the wise owl, the unshockable. She’s lived through everything. She’s cleaned poop out of places you would think is impossible, her children have had a total of 6 broken bones, she can handle the chickenpox with her eyes closed. Sandra is the friend you go to when you have the most random parenting question, which she will answer without hesitation and never judges. Her house is always filled with the best snacks….and wine
Kaylynn, 28 Crunchy mom. Organic, gluten free, dairy free type mom. Her favorite past time is going to Whole Foods. She’s an antivaxxer and loves to let you know by posting 4 antivaxx links a day on her facebook. Her three children all sleep with her in bed, forcing her husband to sleep in the guest room. Her bake sale specialty is flourless muffins. She always gives advice when not asked and openly judges all of your “toxic” lifestyle choices.
Cathy, 35 Sideline mom. She has four boys and can be found screaming on the sidelines of her children’s sporting events no matter the season. Cathy is not afraid to speak her mind. Her go-to saying is “Get your eyes checked ref!!!” Everything in her house is sticky. She’s lost the will to clean up after disgusting boys all day. Despite her usually serious attitude, she’s actually a pretty good time. Her usual drink of choice is a Miller Lite but loves her cosmos on girl’s night.
Type A mom. You can set your watch by her family’s routine. Bethanny runs the house and everyone knows it. There is never a shoe out of place, but lord help us if there is. The calendar on the fridge is color coded and filled to the max. Her husband, James, doesn’t really care for schedules but it’s not worth the fight. He does love the morning smoothies she makes him every day though. She’s a stay at home mom but is almost always dressed in business casual. Her children fear her, her neighbors respect her, and the school faculty hate her. She doesn’t have many friends and isn’t sure why. Also, don’t call her Beth. She f***ing hates it.
Katie, 27 The relaxed mom. Katie doesn’t mind messes, she’s not dirty, but her house generally looks like children DO live there. I mean, DUH. She makes plans and schedules, but doesn’t really blink when they get messed up. She’s usually pretty relaxed and easy going, but don’t test her because she WILL lose her shit on you. She disciplines her kids but also can get too persuaded by their emotions. Sometimes it’s just easier to give them the cookie, right? After homework is done she really doesn’t care what her kids do. There are no ipad or TV limits in her house. She makes the best friend because she is very laid back, doesn’t judge, and makes a killer taco dip.
Meadow, 25 Hippie mom. She shares a lot of characteristics with the crunchy mom. She is a vegan and there’s not a thing in her fridge that is not organic. Meadow is a child of the Earth. Her children spend most of their times outside and barefoot. She is a firm believer that you learn so much more from experiences than you do in school. She homeschools her children and the backyard is their classroom. She considers herself a “Free-range” parent. She lets her children make their own decisions so they can learn from the power of their free will. Whatever that means. She has a lot of friends, probably because she makes good weed brownies.
Brittany, 31 Pinterest Mom. The title says it all. Her Pinterest account has over 50,000 pins in all categories. Recipes, school lunch ideas, DIY projects, party themes, outfits, nursery decor. Think of a category, and she’s pinned something for it. Unlike the rest of the world, she pins things and ACTUALLY DOES THEM. The audacity. She wets herself when she gets invited to a potluck or when her children’s school is having a bake sale so she can use her newest pin. When most of us try projects we got off Pinterest they turn out disastrous, not Brittany. She was born crafty, and hits her DIY out of the park every time. She is one of the most popular friends and loves when they ask her to make something for them!
Katrina, 19 The Newbie. Matching mother-child outfits, hair and makeup done every morning, really shooting for the “perfect mom persona.” She’s a first time mom and it is completely obvious. The girl that’s always in the Facebook mom group asking “What do you think this rash is?” or “My son fell and hit his head, should I take him to the ER?” She is just so unsure of herself, and that’s NOT A BAD THING! She just wants to be a good mom, and doesn’t want to make any mistake. The thing she needs to learn is that making mistakes is what makes us a mom. She has a TON of friends, but she’s the only one with a kid so far. She tries to make friends with veteran moms at the playground, but doesn’t know how to connect with them yet.
Tammy, 36 The Everywhere Mom. Classroom mom? That’s her. PTA? She’s on it. Soccer team needs snacks? She’s got it. She’s a stay at home mom and her kids are everything to her. If there is anything to do, she’s got it. Same can be said for her friendships. People don’t understand how she has the time or the energy to do the things she does. She makes it seems so effortless. Though she’d never show it, Her energy tank is on zero. She averages about 4-5 hours a sleep a night, usually because she’s up baking cookies for something. If you’re looking for a dependable friend, Tammy’s got your back!
Melissa, 31 The princess mom. Her husband is a CEO and makes more than enough money, so Melissa can stay home to focus on the children. The problem is, she’s not exactly the maternal type. Needless to say, the kids are wild and spoiled. Melissa spends most of her days getting her nails done and shopping with friends. She is never seen less than perfect. She knows all the town gossip. She has very high standards for all things in life, including friendships. Probably why she doesn’t have many girl friends. Her children have straight A’s in school and are fluent in Spanish; thanks to the nanny, Maria.
My life, as you may know by now, is very isolated. I spend most of my day inside the house with children. Things are bound to get a little loopy, right? One thing I like to do is sing. Before I go any further, let’s be clear- I like to sing, but I CAN’T sing. I am horrible. However, singing helps with my anxiety, it lightens the mood, it fills empty silence, and sometimes it makes my kids laugh! One thing I like to do is change lyrics to songs and make it my own. If I sing a remix to a song from one of Camille’s favorite movies she recognizes it immediately. I’m sure you won’t be impressed, but here they are…
Semisonic- Closing time
Closing time. One last call for sippy cups, so finish your water or milk Closing time. You don’t have to go to sleep just get the hell away frooooom me.
Maaaamaaaaaa Just lost her shit Threw out all her kids junk, Drank some wine and now she’s drunk. Maaaaamaaaaa Your kids day had just begun But now you’ve gone sent them to their rooms. Maaamaaaa ooh ooh Didn’t mean to make you mad If this shit isn’t picked up by tomorrow, You’re kicked ouuuut. You’re kicked out.
1,2,3,4,5 Everybody in the carseats So come on lets ride To the ice cream shop around the corner My kids really want a couple cones But I really don’t wanna Hungover from my wine last night Sunglasses on my face cuz the sun is bright I got Eli, Camille, Avery, and Kenzie And as I continue you know they’re getting crazy.
I told you don’t you ever come around me Don’t wanna see your drawing, you really need to flee There’s crazy in their eyes, I gotta get free So ditch em, just ditch em. You better run, you better leave while you can, Dad just got in the door, kids think he’s superman. Don’t try to pretend, better leave while you can. So ditch em, but you wanna be nice. Just ditch em.
You are the pooping queen Young and gross It’s only 9:15 Pooping queen Feel the heat from the bath, get clean ooooh yeah. You can poop You can fart Having the time of your life Ooooh, see that girl Smell that smell Dig in the pooping queen.
Because I’m tiiiiiiired Clap along if you feel like you need some more coffee Because I’m tiiiiiiiiired. Clap along if you feel like you wanna go back to bed Because I’m tiiiiiiiired. Clap along if you feel like thats what you wanna do.
When Eli was Diagnosed with autism around 4 years ago the doctor told me there would be about a 20% chance of my next child also having autism. (Yes people, genetics, not the measles vaccine. So vaccinate your kids!) So, when Camille came around, I watched, listened, and observed everything she did. A rule of thumb of parenting is never compare your children to other kids (yeah, right.) It is a very important rule to follow though. Every child develops at their own pace. Just because little Timmy is walking at 9 months does NOT mean your child is behind because she is not doing it yet. If your nephew is speaking three word sentences at 12 months it does NOT mean your own son is behind because he can only say 5 words total. Our children hit their milestones at their own pace. They will deal with peer pressure in grade school so let’s not instill self-esteem issues yet!
All that being said, when DO you start to worry about where your child is developmentally? I don’t believe there is a real answer for that. I think, as a mother, you just know.
Today’s world makes it so easy for parents to get their children evaluated for FREE through the state. Each state has their own fully funded programs. In Michigan, we have the EarlyOn program. When we arrived to Michigan I didn’t waste any time getting Camille evaluated.
So what was it about Camille that made me get her evaluated?
-Her gross motor milestones were always met, but a little behind -Babbling was very delayed. She didn’t start actively babbling until around 18mo. -She doesn’t play with toys as expected- she prefers to just hold items and walk around with them. She chooses to play with household items (shoes, dusters, etc.) vs baby toys. For a while between 12-18mo, she would only open and close doors and cabinets for entertainment. -She walks very cautiously. She does not walk on uneven ground (grass, sand), she is uncertain when stepping across different floor types or over lips/lines. -Does not climb on/off furniture. She does not attempt to climb stairs. She cannot get down from very low furniture (example- her 12′ toddler bed.) She will drop an object to the floor to judge how high up she is. since becoming diagnosed she has attempted the stairs and crawling on . some furniture. -She does not like a lot of touches- face wipes, washing hair, diaper changes, etc. -She does not respond to her name or react when spoken to. -She does not recognize or interact with other children/adults. She will allow other to be in her general proximity but other than that she does not pay them any attention. -Little eye contact -No mimicking. She does not copy other’s actions, repeat sounds. She will not point to objects. -She likes thin items on her lips and around her mouth. Hair, hair ties, shoe laces, strings, etc. I would like to clarify that she doesn’t eat or even chew these things. She just likes the feeling of them on her lips.
To someone who has no experience with any of this, the evaluation process can be very, very overwhelming. There are so many people involved, multiple evaluations, and lots of paperwork. With my first born, Eli, I remember feeling overwhelmed, scared, sad, so many emotions. I felt unorganized. With Camille when the people involved started over-explaining the process to help me understand I politely said “Listen, this isn’t my first rodeo. I’m good. Do ya thang girl.” Honestly the best advice I can give to someone going through this the first time- relax and take the backseat. The professionals with these programs know what they’re doing. They help you every step of the way. The best thing a parent can do is get out of your own way. Let them help you with everything.
After Camille’s evaluation process, she was placed in the moderate-severe autism range. Because she was evaluated through the School system/ EarlyOn program, this is what’s called an educational diagnosis. In another blog I will get into the difference between an educational diasgnosis of autism vs a medical diagnosis. The important thing to know for now is an educational diagnosis determines if a child meets the qualifications needed to receive special education services through the school system and is not a “firm diagnosis”. A medical diagnosis is a true diagnosis and opens the door for insurance supported therapy services.
So now what? We start by making a list of goals to work towards. For example, one goal is to get her to make independent choices for meals by using picture cards (PECS). Another is to get Camille to play more with age appropriate toys vs household items. We focus on the areas that are most important to improve. Keep your expectations low! Sometimes they take a while, AND THAT’S FINE!
Additionally, Camille is receiving in-home speech therapy. We will also soon begin occupational therapy, and perhaps Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy.
Getting an autism diagnosis for your child is a very overwhelming, scary thing. This, however, is one that I was waiting for. I knew the odds and I was prepared. If anyone can embrace this challenge for a second time, it’s me. I am ready for this next chapter in my parenting world. I look forward to sharing this journey with others and hope that by telling our story, we can help other parents out there who may be going through something similar!
Being a stay at home mom is not a glamorous lifestyle, despite what you may see on Instagram. It’s not all mommy playgroups, matching mommy/child outfits, or blissful round the clock playtime.
I start my day with two cups of coffee. My hair is in a messy bun, and my robe is tied tight. By the time I drop my son off at school I have clothes on (granted, its usually stretch pants and a sweatshirt), my hair is usually not brushed, contacts not in yet, and no makeup. If you think it gets better by school pick-up, you’d probably be wrong. It’s not that I DONT have time to get ready for the day, but whats the point? The majority of my day is wiping butts, making food, cleaning, working on my computer, playing with baby toys, etc. My life is 99% inside the house. The lazy girl inside me is like “yes! I love being home and in pajamas”; but the overall human being in me gets stir crazy. My life is 24/7 kids. I yearn for adult interaction. This lifestyle is very isolating.
Kids are loud, dirty, talkative, annoying, messy, emotional, rude. This job gets few thank-yous, little to no recognition, there is no pay, no sick days, and ridiculous hours. All that being said, it is the best job I’ve ever had. Wait, what? Honestly, yes. Despite how difficult and draining this life is, being able to watch your kids discover new things, hit new milestones, grow, and find new interests, is something not everyone gets to witness everyday. It is not taken for granted by me. I get moments that working parents don’t always get. Stay at home mothers don’t have an easy life, but neither do working parents. The grass is always greener, isn’t it?
Working parents get to have a life outside of their children and their house, they make their own hard-earned money, they get independence, they live a life for themselves. I am missing out on all of those things. I have no life; and not in the sense like I’m a loser with no friends who wants to go out and party. I mean- I have no life. My children are my life. Every choice I make, every move made, every purchase, every agenda on our daily schedule, EVERYTHING is about them. What about me? My dreams, my needs, my time? Being a stay at home parent day in-day out is making me lose myself. The flip side to this is working parents wanting more time with their families, playing with their children, enjoying their house, having time to relax. I think there are times we can be jealous of each other and our parental situations- and we shouldn’t. Again, the grass is always greener. No parenting style is above the other. No mother is above another. There are going to be pros and cons with any type of parenting.
We need to be grateful for the lives that we have. I would love having my own career, having some independence, but I am so grateful for being able to be there 100% for my kids. I love being around them all the time (despite how much they annoy me most of the time).
This upcoming Mother’s Day, take the time to appreciate BEING a mother, no matter what kind of mother you are. Whether you’re working to live out your dream, to provide financially for your children, to make the world a better place, or whether you’re staying home to raise your beautiful children— Be happy just being a mother. Being a mother, of ANY kind, is a hard f***ing job. Now go brush your teeth and get yourself and iced coffee, because damn it, we deserve it.
Most of our children’s interests change at the drop of a hat. They watch the same show on a loop, until one day, they accidentally watch something else and leech on to that show. They only want to eat Mac n Cheese shapes for weeks on end, until suddenly- “I don’t like those anymore”. They might beg us for matchbox cars then after a few plays, they’re never touched again.
Eli is a creature of habit. He likes the same foods, the same shows, the same handful of toys. Sometimes he ventures out be he almost always sticks to his few things. So when he asked me to buy Minecraft on his Ipad for $8 I thought “MMMMMMM NAH.” I just knew that if I spent that much money on a game he had never played before (but watched other kids play on youtube) that he would get bored and I’d be out $8. Boy was I wrong.
I finally caved and bought it. There was definitely some stumbling blocks while we both tried to figure out how to play the game. Since we figured it (mostly) out he is obsessed. He watched youtube tutorials on the tv while he plays the game so he can learn new tricks. The creativity he shows in this game is amazing. He is so smart and creative and makes awesome things. He even started recording himself while he plays for his own youtube channel just like the guys he loves to watch. It is amazing watching your child discover their passions, and I truly do think that’s what Minecraft is for him. It’s not just playing video games for him- he’s creating.
When his birthday started to come around it was a no brainer what we were going to do. I immediately headed to Pinterest to get some DIY ideas. Staying home with my kids gives me plenty of time to get some crap put together. I always underestimate how much harder, and usually more expensive, DIY projects can be. Nonetheless, I am very impressed with myself. Who actually pins stuff from Pinterest AND follows through with them!?!?
I documented some of my creations below and in case anyone is interested, wrote quick notes on how to make them! Enjoy!
What you need: Large rectangular cardboard box Box cutter tissue paper plastic cups Hot Glue Gun Spray Paint
In lieu of a piñata, I did a poke-a-prize game. Each square was filled with candies or toys. Each kid got to take turns poking a square! Cut out evenly placed squares down the length of the box, leaving room at the top for a Title. Once all the squares are cut, cover the bottom of a Solo Cup with hot glue, place it through a cut square and press firmly to the back of the box. Hold for a few seconds. Repeat for each square until all of them have a solo cup glued directly behind each square. This next part depends on the type of box you have. I had a box with a top and bottom piece, like a shoe box. For my box, I took off the top, flipped it over, and hot glued single sheets of tissue papers behind all of the squares.
What you need: One large square cardboard box box cutter Spray paint
Cut squares for the eyes, odd shaped mouth, then spray paint. To use for the game, we used very small plastic balls from my daughters play room. Just make sure to practice with kids to make sure the game is doable for them!
Medium-large bucket. makeshift fishing pole- (yardstick, wrapped in tape to protect from slivers with a large magnet tied to the end with small rope), prizes in plastic baggies clipped together with magnetic chip clips.
Backdrop ordered from party city. Photo Booth props ordered from Amazon. We set up an iPad on a table with photo timer on. Children were able to take their own photos!
I went through the Minecraft items and found all the food items and anything that could look like food. I made up food card labels and set them out infant of the bowls!