Saturday, February 15, 2014

Hours of Quiet Engineering Play


We love this building kit. T received it Christmas 2012. Today he spends as much time with it as he did when first unwrapped it. When it comes to toys that says volumes!

When playing with it he is quietly content.  His focus is intense. He can spend hours fitting the pieces together, disassembling and reassembling. So a definite boon is this toy helps him work on concentration skills.

In this era of STEM education I love how it teaches engineering. His dad says it is great how realistic the elements of construction reflects real life. Even the screwdriver works like a DeWalt. The only con is it is made of plastic.  A metal set would be si much better. We're thinking about adding to the set (maybe a Caterpillar bulldozer) for his 5th birthday.

In case you're wondering the set is by EZ Build.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Reading List 12-24 months

There will be some overlap in this list, the preceding list for infants, and the following list for toddlers. This list includes our favorite and our dislikes. Hopefully it will give you a few ideas.

Check back at least monthly. F only turned 1 in February 2014 so this is ever growing.



Vincent's Colors
This is a book I checked out for my almost 5 year old. To my surprise is actually my 1 year old who most enjoys it. The book features beautiful color photographs of Vincent Van Gogh's paintings. They are accompanied by a lilting text of descriptions quoting Van Gogh himself. Quite creative.  The book is hardcover,  not a board or cloth book, so be aware.

Monet's Lilies
I have an entire blog post devoted to this one. A touch and feel book with rhyming text. In the back are two pages with more information for the parent.

Global Babies

This book is stunning! Perfect for any baby or toddler 3 months through three years. Features photos of baby faces from all around the world.

DK Touch and Feel series
With a wide variety of titles there's sure to be a favorite.  Each touch and feel book's pictures are actually photographs making the books more interesting.  Has titles like Farm, Kitten, Playtime, 123, etc.


-not every book is a hit-

Little Miss Austen Pride and Prejudice
I'm sorry. I just can't get into these. The artwork has nice contrast but both unrealistic and unremarkable. The literary value is gone. In fact it really has no story at all. Events are out of order. If you took a bunch of stills from the P&P film and highlighted a certain number of people or things in the still that'd be another matter entirely.  This is not a good way to introduce your young bibliophile to famous literature.  It's written more for the fan than baby. If you want baby to learn counting and be introduced to the cultural literacy road there are better ways.

Transferring, Opening, and Closing

What comes second nature to us took a lot of effort to learn. Watching a baby or child learn and grow is an excellent reminder.  To me the most amazing thing is the perseverance shown by these mites of humans. I mean seriously. Very few of us maintain the same level of drive throughout our lives. At what point does it get lost? Very gradually I'm sure.
F's project today is to transfer Duplos from their container to a box with lid and back again. She holds each block high proudly displaying it to me or brother T. Then F grabs the handle on the lid. Open and shut. Open and shut. Open and shut again. There's so much she's learning in this simple activity when you think about it.
What marvelous ways this world works.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Count Monet's Lilies (touch and feel art book)

While it can be a challenge to find beautiful children's illustrations you are generally safe with Caldecott books. What about baby though? There are some marvelous board books if you search. I will be featuring some favorites as F makes her way through toddlerdom.
For her birthday we added to our small collection of Touch The Art books by Julie Appel.
Yes, that's right. Touch and art in a single sentence.
If you are like me you want your child exposed to all that is beautiful.
Babies love to touch with their fingers and mouths.
Usually that rules out fine art.
Not with this series.
Each page has a piece of artwork from whatever era the particular volume is focused. Undrneath in small print is the title of the painting, the name of the artist, and museum location. On the opposing page is a charming little rhyme describing the painting and encouraging the toddler to touch. Count Monet's Lilies also teaches counting from 1-9.
Touch what exactly? Depends on the painting. In this volume you can smell fruit, scratch sandpaper sand on a seashore, pull on a ribbon, and more.
Little F has two pages in particular she loves. She flips back and forth between Snap The Whip (Winslow Homer) and Fishing Boats On The Beach (Vincent Van Gogh). We have developed a funny little game too. First she will feel it, then she grabs my fingers to make me feel it too. We go back and forth feeling these two paintings for several minutes at a time.
I hope you will check out this and the other Touch The Art books. The are a treasure that should be in more home libraries.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Baby Babbles: Hide and Seek Baby Edition

One year olds are such fun! F is playing with both her own and her brother's toys when she can. She loves taking things out and putting them away. So this simple educational game is quite a hit. 

Hide and seek baby edition. 

 Hide a toy (or sibling) under a blanket. Ask "Where is ---?" At one point her toy dragon's tail was sticking out. Great moment to build vocabulary too!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Night Wakings

Sometimes it's impossible for a mom to sleep through the night.

But that's ok.

Sometimes after a really long day and you're ready to put the kids to sleep they're so wound and tired themselves they take even longer than usual to fall asleep.

But that's ok.

Sometimes just as you close your eyes and start to drift you hear a wail.

But that's ok.

Sometimes you wish you really could nap in the middle of the afternoon.

But that's ok.

Sometimes in the wee predawn hours, after you've already been up once with the toddler, big brother bursts through the door to tell you about his bad dream.

But it's ok.

Sometimes you're awoken by a cry of "Mom, I woke up and can't get back to sleep!" Later after putting your own small child back in dreamland you lie awake yourself wishing for your own mommy to help you fall back asleep. You wonder if she wished the same thing as you lie there, awake in the dark as you should be sleeping.

But that's ok.

Those middle of the night song, snuggles, and stories are precious. 

To a mom that makes these sleepless nights more than ok.

We love.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Reflections on 2nd Baby's 1st Year: What Was Really Used

My little F has celebrated her first birthday. She's already walking. Started at 10 months old. Younger than her big brother T.

Meanwhile my very close friend, their Aunt M, is expecting her first at the end of spring. We're all so excited. Just wish they lived closer than a 17/18 hr drive. Seeing them busily prepare for their first bundle of joy (and that spell check keeps wanting to capitalize joy!) started me thinking about what was useful and what wasn't with our second baby. So here goes!

Arms Reach Bedside Sleeper- I am such a fan! As we didn't want to bedshare this was the best compromise. The sleeper attaches to the side of the bed. We could reach over and touch F while sleeping or roll over to nurse/change diapers. We've used this with two babies so far and I'm use if we're blessed with a third will use it again. Age used: newborn-5 months

Crib: ok, this is a tricky one. I am a huge fan of Montessori style floor beds. With T when we switched him to a Montessori floor bed it made a huge difference. You totally childproof a room and put a mattress on the floor. No fall hazards and baby can entertain himself instead of crying first thing upon waking. We'd planned on a floor bed with F too. But we ended up getting a long-term houseguest in her future room and I didn't want to also lose the guest room. So while she's sleeping in our room she's in a crib. We bought a convertible. Eventually it will become the bedstead for the guest bedroom. Age: 5months +

Playpen: first child unnecessary. One story house unnecessary. Older child or two story house useful.
We really didn't use a play yard with T. The house was child proofed.

Swing/bouncer: can be useful is the right circumstances. Generally however a carrier can do the same thing. We did occasionally use the bouncer. It was nice occasionally to put baby down in something that still had motion. But it's so easy to rely on it! Overall though it's not a priority and was used for weeks in all. A swing might be more fun in all. Now an outdoor swing on the other hand that's useful!

Jumperoo/ Exosaucer- fun for a couple months. Entertainment for while working with your older kid on math or phonics. But really?  I want it out of my house. For the cost and space why bother?

Tummy Time Mat- Babies seem to hate tummy time. These mats may seem silly but in my experience they are worthwhile.  The key is the bright mini boppy. Much smaller than a standard nursing pillow it is the perfect height to prop baby on stomach for tummy time. Both babies found tummy time more tolerable using it.