Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween 2014

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

7 non-plastic gift ideas for small children

It's almost Halloween. Which means it will be November in like a second. Which means that everyone will be holiday shopping. And I will be thinking of all of things I want to get people. Endlessly brainstorming for gifts that are the perfect blend of thoughtful, unique and fun - yet affordable. But then I won't pull the trigger and before I know it,  it will be a week before Christmas and I will be Amazon Priming (yes, that is a verb) crap that sucks, just because it's available. Don't be like me. Here's a list of fun gifts for little kids that aren't made primarily of plastic so you can start buying now and get it over with before you have to start Priming it. Because plastic (and all of its toxins) are way scarier to me than Ebola.

1. For the builder. I loved my wooden blocks as a child. I found these Haba wooden blocks for Nate last Christmas. They have all kinds of cool shapes, which are perfect for building castles.

2. For the creative. These Seedling kits are very cool. They combine crafting with pretend play, so it's like 2 gifts in one. I got the Superhero cape kit for my girlfriend's son. I haven't heard back on the quality yet, but it looked adorable up close, in the packaging.

3. For the silly. I found these magnet animals by Djeco for Nate a couple of years ago and we STILL play with them. You can mix up the animals or do it the boring way and complete the 3 piece puzzles.
4. For the dramatic. This  Tabletop Puppet Theater is on my list for Nate this holiday season. He always gets very excited when he has the opportunity to play with a puppet theater, but I don't want it to take up too much space, so this is perfect.

5. For the aspiring chef. When we moved this summer I gave our kitchen toys a prominent placement in the new play room and Nate started playing kitchen and restaurant every day. It kept him entertained and didn't require a lot of energy from me, which was perfect, since I had a newborn. We gave him this little pasta set from Hape for his birthday and it was his favorite gift!

6. For the baby. I found a single soft block (that crinkles) from an old set of Nate's and Caroline LOVES it. So these Taggies Big Soft Blocks are on my list for her this Christmas. Of course this organic set is pretty cute too. 

7. For the young toddler. Toddlers love stacking things up, knocking them down and stacking them up again. This set of wooden stacking bowls is beautiful and looks like something that will really last. I have my eye on them for one of my nieces or nephews.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Hand model

They say you can tell a woman's age by her hands, right? Or is it her neck? I don't know, but I'm going to go put some rubber bands on my wrists so I can look like Caroline. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Must be in the genes

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Three things in our sleep routine

I've been a baby/toddler sleep consultant for three years. This means that I work with families all over the world to improve the sleeping of their children. There are a wide range of issues that families face. Common problems include severe sleep deprivation (from waking hourly every night) to early rising and short naps. Anyone who knows our family also knows that we had A LOT of challenges with Nate's sleep when he was younger. It is one of the defining characteristics of his infancy and toddler years. His temperament and my inability to let him scream for hours made it hard for me to stay consistent and make the changes we needed in order to get sufficient sleep for the whole family. Sometimes it was hard to interact with the outside world without fear of completely sabotaging our progress. As a result, my husband and I pretty much suffer from PTSD when it comes to naps and sleeping. Of course, I've learned a lot since then and have gained a lot of perspective regarding Nate's sleep issues. When I had Caroline I was confident that I would start off on the right foot and get this child sleeping on her own as soon as she could, for the health and happiness of the entire family.

Read any book out there on baby sleep and you'll likely learn about the importance of establishing a routine. So when Caroline was two months old, the first step was to establish a routine with her before bedtime and naps to signal that it was time for her to fall asleep. Here are three things that I have included in her routine that I would highly recommend:

1. Stories. We have always included books in Nate's routine and I wanted that for CJ as well. At nap time we read something short and sweet like Peek-a Who, an old favorite of Nate's as well. For bedtime we always read the classic Goodnight Moon.  I am sure we'll mix it up as she gets older, and start reading classic literature from Stephanie Meyer, but right now she seems to enjoy these and I like them too.

2. Loveys. It's funny how some kids are really drawn to comfort objects and others are not. Nate didn't really connect with anything (other than his hair and mine) until he was older - maybe around 3 years old. CJ, on the other hand, LOVES grasping and sucking on fabric. So I embraced that natural inclination and got her these blankets from Aden and Anais. Since she is only 5 1/2 months, I haven't put them in with her at bedtime. But she regularly uses them to fall asleep and while she's in the car.

3. Music.  Nate still starts the night with a round of music, often U2 (obviously). For Caroline, I've been using her mobile as a way to signal the shift to sleep. We started off with this mobile, which is portable and really easy to use. But the song was 30 minutes, which I felt was too long. We now use this mobile, which was Nate's, because the songs play for 15 minutes instead.

We are working on Caroline falling to sleep independently at nap time right now. It's so interesting to see the ways in which she is similar to Nate and the ways in which she is different - so far anyway.  One thing is for certain...

Few things are more precious than a sleeping baby.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Ghostbusting (a sight word game)

I think we can all agree that those Pinterest-y moms are a super annoying breed of mom. AmIright? You know - the ones that regularly come up with creative ways to engage their children in movement and learning and then brag share via social media - giving the rest of us a bad name. Ugh. I can't even keep on top of regularly cutting my toenails lately.

Okay, fine. I'm not fooling anyone. I am completely envious of those moms. There are some really great ideas out there on those crafty blogs. And I would love to get it together and do fun things with Nate. So forgive me if I want to copy their ideas and then document the one day out of 30 that we did something beyond watch television and collect items for our Doomsday closet.

So here is our Halloween themed, get your kid moving (and learning!) activity from the other day - "ghostbusting."  Not sure where I saw it originally, but no doubt it was through the Toddler Approved Facebook page, which is awesome. I tossed Caroline in the stroller 10 minutes before Nate got home from school, found a soggy piece of chalk in the garden (I'm not even exaggerating) and drew some simple ghosts with some sight words on them. The idea is that the parent calls out the word and then the kid finds the appropriate word and blasts the word away with a water gun. When Nate got home he was very excited to discover that I was not just sanctioning, but encouraging, the use of his water blaster.

Once he blasted away all of the words he drew pumpkins and wrote his own words. Then he turned the tables on me and called out the words for me to step on (since I was holding his sister).  It was a fun change of pace. Now excuse me while I think about cutting my toenails...

Friday, October 17, 2014

"The Book With No Pictures" totally lives up to the hype

I've been hearing a lot of great things about B.J. Novak's jump into kiddie lit with his newest, The Book with No Pictures. I ordered it for Nate and it is indeed adorable. Reading it is almost like spending time with that crazy uncle that's silly, yet smart, and completely gets your kid. I'm going to try my best to save it for Christmas. Eh, who I am kidding. I'll be luck to make it through the weekend without bringing it out of it's secret hiding place and reading it to Nate.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Nate's 5th birthday party

Natey turned 5 this summer and we celebrated with a party at a bounce house. He had the time of his life!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Little loves

Saturday, October 4, 2014

My hairy children

A lot of people seem to think that they don't really look alike, but I definitely notice a resemblance.
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