Tuesday, July 15, 2014

My Favorite Toddler Books

Including A Sick Day for Amos McGee in a recent(ish) post got me thinking about all the wonderful toddler books that my daughter has introduced to me. Technically, I've introduced her to them...but without her there would have been no introductions whatsoever, so she gets the credit. Reading is our favorite activity. She is absolutely insatiable when it comes to books. Some days she wants to read the same book over and over...and over...and over. Other days, we would get through her entire mini bookshelf, if I had the stamina.

With this in mind, here are four of my favorite toddler books that didn't exist (or I didn't know of) when I was a wee one.

Walter the Farting Dog by William Kotzwinkle and Glenn Murray - My daughter doesn't get the potty humor yet...probably because she doesn't use a potty yet...but I do. And it's fabulous.

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt - Another excellent comedy. And full of teaching moments as in "what color is this?".

A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead - This is total sweetness. It's about Amos and his best buds from the zoo.

Ladybug Girl by David Soman and Jacky Davis - This is a girl-power book. There's a nice message and it manages to avoid the hokiness that one would expect based on the title.

UPDATE (7/18/14): How could I have forgotten Otis? 

Otis by Loren Long - My daughter loves, loves, loves Otis and his friend the calf. This is another sweet one about friendship.

Most of these books were gifts. I guess other moms know what's up. Where do they find these gems? How do they get the inside scoop? How about you and your toddler - what do you love reading? What new books have you discovered together? I would love some suggestions, there's always a room for one more on the bookshelf...

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Car Seat 411

When it came to buying a car seat, I did some research. And then I did a bit more research. And then I surveyed friends. And then I did more research. (Side Note: this was my approach to most big ticket items...crib, stroller, etc.)

Where did I research? Blogs. Informational websites, including BabyCenter.com and TheBump.com. Amazon.com reviews. BuyBuyBaby.com reviews. I also read reviews in Baby Bargains. I've mentioned this book before - it's fantastic. If I were researching today, I would add WeeSpring.com to the list. It's a (free) member's website and the gist is personal reviews for any and all baby products. I highly recommend it.

What did I research? 
  • Safety. Obviously.
  • Stroller compatibility. Some strollers and some car seats don't have great chemistry don't connect with adaptors.
  • Infant vs. Convertible. Infant car seats are made strictly for infants and expire around the 10-14 month mark. Convertible car seats last from infancy through toddlerhood. I didn't look at 3-in-1 car seats (which supposedly last from infancy through small childhood) because that just seemed like too much and, therefore, not safe.
  • Cost. I didn't harp on this one. Thanks to some good, old advice from my mom, I live by the rule that you get what you pay for. And for this particular purchase, I wanted to get HIGH quality.
  • Weight. Lugging that thing around with the added weight of your little bundle is no joke. Every pound counts.
  • Ease of Use. This included installation, buckling, stroller adaptor use, cleaning, etc.
A couple weeks ago, I was asked to participate in a survey about my car seat purchase. The website hosting the survey asked 50 mom/baby bloggers to answer questions about their car seats and recently posted the results (here). Participating in the survey and reading through the results made me think back through my intense process. Each and every baby product purchase I made in the beginning was thoroughly considered. Nowadays, I've loosened the reigns a touch. I bought my daughter a toy Volkswagen hippie van at CVS the other day, the epitome of an impulse buy...which was fine for $5.99. But, for the most part, I remain an educated buyer when it comes to anything that's for my daughter. 

We have so many choices when it comes to car seats and toy hippie vans and everything else. Too many choices. Taking the time to know what we're giving to and getting for our little ones is always a good idea. 

This (above) is on my living room floor. Pretty groovy, huh?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

My Hours Have Been Eaten Up!

Before another Monday, Wednesday or Friday goes by without a new post, I should update you that things around here got real busy the past couple weeks. The short story is that my husband and I bought a house. This amazing event has eaten up my time in a major way. Side note: Every time I say the phrase "eat up" (or some version of it), I think of Where The Wild Things Are. I love that book. Just read it earlier today. Back to my house! It's significantly bigger than the teeny tiny apartments I've lived in for the past ten or so years and, as a result, it's requiring a teeny tiny bit more of everything. Everything being furniture, paint, cleaning products, toilet paper...ya know.

As a result of this incredible adventure, blogging has fallen to the wayside. But (as before), I believe this is temporary. I will continue to post whenever I'm able and I hope to be back in the swing of things in a month's time.

Until then, here's another sweet book that has stolen my heart. Check it out.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Sharing Is Caring and Much More

This weekend a good friend forwarded me the link to an article about teaching your toddler to share...or not. The thesis of the article was something like: There's an overemphasis on teaching kids to share because, in the real world, sharing ain't all that relevant. If you don't want to click over to the article and read it in full (here), I'll give you the highlights. The author's child goes to a school where the policy is that a child uses a toy until she is finished and does not have to prematurely give up said toy just for the sake of sharing. The author likes this policy and believes it accurately reflects life. An example that she gives: you can't just walk up to a stranger and take their sunglasses or phone because it's your turn.

Well, I firmly disagree with the thesis (though I agree that you can't nab a strangers sunglasses, no matter how much you want them and feel truly deserving of them). The premise that sharing isn't a practical skill is hogwash. I share all day, every day, every minute, constantly. We all do. We share offices and time with the barrista at Starbucks and space in the elevator and books at the library. People job share and carpool. When it comes to friends and family, I share dresses and punch bowls and bicycles and wallpaper steamers. Sharing is fantastic (and environmentally friendly).

But the real point, which is why I think the article kinda sucks (there I said it), is that sharing teaches patience. Sharing is a vehicle for the lesson rather than the lesson itself. By asking your child to use a toy and then share it, you're asking her to be patient, fight the instinct of "ME, NOW" and wait her turn. While you may not agree with my characterization of waiting to order your Starbucks latte as "sharing", you can certainly agree with my assertion that patience is possibly the most important lesson of all. It's not just a virtue, it's life. And whether your little one is patient, or not, she will be required to wait on a daily basis from now until infinite. 

So, back to the toy policy at the author's school (which I kind of like by the way), whether the author believes it or not, this policy requires sharing. At some point, all toys are put down, if only because school is over. And you can damn well bet that if Timmy made Tommy wait all afternoon to use the ball on Monday that Tommy is beating Timmy to the ball on Tuesday and making him wait all afternoon. So whether it's in five minute intervals or alternating afternoons, sharing is happening at her child's school and it's a good thing because it teaches patience.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Surfs Up, (with your) Baby!

I hope your Memorial Day weekend was long and wonderful. Mine was spent in a beach town, but not at the beach...not much. The weather wasn't all that conducive to bathing suits and barefoot walks through lapping ocean water. But, we did take advantage of a few hours of sunshine on Sunday.

Last summer, my daughter wasn't mobile. Beach trips consisted of playing with stacking cups under the umbrella and pointing at seagulls. This past weekend was our first time at the beach with a walking toddler. And wow was she walking...and running. She stumbled across the dunes, shouted at the ocean, genuinely blown away by the foaming waves, she picked up shells, put down shells and barrel rolled on the sand. She was so happy and it was wonderful to watch.

At some point during her backward crab crawl across the beach, as sand caked into her pupils, I was brought back to a Caribbean vacation I took pre-baby. I remembered my childless self, sipping a tropical cocktail and reading a book under a tiki umbrella with my husband basking in the sun next to me, an hour into the worst sunburn of his life. Next to us were a couple with an adorable 6 month old. I was thoroughly impressed, and slightly confused, as to why this adventurous couple decided to bring their infant to the far off island of our destination. It seemed an impossible feat. Were they actually having a nice, relaxing vacation? I didn't ask, but I desperately wanted to.

Flash forward to my sand covered babe who is gleefully rolling across the wet beach like a frolicking seal lion. The beach is so different now. Life is so different now. And, I can't compare my two hour beach trip to a week long tropical vacation, but I can make an educated guess at what those parents were thinking - they couldn't bare to do anything without their tiny man. They derived such joy from watching him experience life that it almost didn't matter where they were. They weren't there for the drinks or the sunburns, they were there to have an adventure as a family. Of course (of course), there will be future vacations when my little one stays at grandma's house while my husband and I sip cocktails under a tiki umbrella. And I'll sleep late and read a book more than one chapter at a time and sun bathe in silence, which will be amazing, but I'll miss my daughter more than a little. I'll miss her sea lion impression.

How adorable is this little seal lion pup? My daughter has the same form.
(image source)