Thursday Thoughts #18

Thursday Thoughts

This move to California was our second real military move. (Our first from Auburn to FL hardly counts as we had very little inventory to relocate and the distance was only 200 miles.) You can read about our move to Ohio here.

We left a small home in Ohio and were expecting something even smaller out in the Los Angeles area. In preparation for that we gave some of our furniture to my brother-in-law who just purchased a home with his fiancé, and my in-laws were more than generous in offering to store some other items until we return to the East coast. I begrudgingly left the majority of my fabric, quilting and scrapbooking supplies, and Monopoly collection behind with them. Stuart and I had many conversations about the “must-haves” in a new home and a third bedroom for an office/craft space was simply a “nice-to-have” as my free time with two little ones is quite limited and this blog is my hobby priority number one.

Unlike the previous move, this one was not a “door-to-door” move, meaning we did not have a destination address. With two boys under two and a husband in a grueling Masters program there simply wasn’t any time to take a trip to California to house hunt ahead of time. So, we booked a stay in Temporary Housing and used the 8 days provided upon reporting to find a place to live. As a result, we knew our items would end up being held in a storage facility until we could provide the moving company with our final address.

The moving company we were assigned to this move was incredible. A crew of three guys came the Monday after Easter to pack up everything. They were punctual, friendly, patient, and very courteous. They worked quickly and efficiently and while the team lead was inventorying every box, the other guys started to move everything into the garage to make loading day go smoothly. The same crew returned the following day to disassemble furniture, and along with the driver load the moving truck. We provided Subway for lunch on day one and tipped them on day two. Having the same crew for both days really helped things go smoothly.

We had a bedroom marked off as a “do not pack” room containing anything and everything that would be traveling across the country in the van. My parents came to attend Stuart’s graduation and while here, they helped us pack the other vehicle before the movers arrived. That car was loaded down with my grandmother’s antique secretary desk, quilts, and scrapbooks, along with all important documentation.

When there are young children involved, I highly recommend dropping them off with a friend while the movers are packing your home. Unfortunately that wasn’t an available option for us, but luckily my mom planned to stay and help us with the cross country drive. My mom and I were able to keep the boys occupied in the “do not pack” room and run errands. We handled the weighing of the van and returning of cable equipment to keep out of the way while my husband stayed at the house. We also handled the lunch pick-up and delivery.

That same piece of advice is even more important when the movers are unloading your belongings into your new home. This time we had my mother-in-law who flew out to California to help. She was able to keep Firecracker out of the house and at the park almost the entire day! I was able to wear Treat during his nap and keep him more easily contained as he was much less mobile. 

While our delivery crew didn’t start out as personable as our packing crew, they were quite competent and earned both the taco lunch and a tip for having to deal with our inconvenient location and countless stairs.

Because my mother-in-law stayed for the first week in our new place, I was able unpack our boxes myself instead of allowing the movers to do it. I had learned from our previous experience, when the movers unpack the boxes they essentially dump everything out on the floor, which I knew wouldn’t work well with two curious boys. There were a few exceptions to what we had them unpack – we wanted them to open up all of our wedding china and stemware and art boxes to ensure they weren’t damaged during delivery.

Unfortunately, a few boxes didn’t make it all the way to California including our bin of snowboarding gear and one box of our wedding stemware. At first inspection my husband’s weight plates didn’t make it either, but the team lead called the storage facility and they were found. He returned the next day with the weights and took away all of the boxes and packing paper that we had gotten through on that first night, which was over half of them!

One bookshelf, a desk, and our Keurig ended up in the “RIP” category.

Overall I am happy with our moving experience.

We moved many essential things ourselves because of the length of our trip and the unknown amount of time we’d be living in a hotel. Here are some of the things I wish we had added to our long list: vacuum cleaner, tape measure, scissors and/or exacto knife.

I’m going to reiterate: The biggest piece of advice I have for anyone moving with children – get help! My mom helped us get out of Ohio and traveled with us all the way to California. Having a third set of hands was invaluable. My mother-in-law was able to fly out to California the week of our delivery and she was able to take Firecracker to the park and on walks while the movers were unloading the truck. My sister-in-law came down the day after delivery and was a huge help with both boys keeping them entertained while we did a lot of unpacking and organizing of our home. She and my mother-in-law were able to share the brunt of the kids’ energy, too. If they weren’t able to provide so much help I know that I’d still be living in a house of brown cardboard boxes over one month later. I look forward to their next visits when things aren’t quite as hectic and more valuable time can be spent with them. I know their presence was much appreciated by the boys too, if their behavior after their departure is any indication!

Tuesday Tattles: Road Trip Edition

Tuesday Tattles

Now that we are almost settled in California I figure it’s as good a time as any to share my newly acquired wisdom on a long road trip with little ones!

Tip number 1: get a minivan.

Only joking, except that we absolutely love ours and it definitely makes road trip driving (and everyday) driving a little easier. The amount of floor space and storage space we had was impressive!

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Taking a road trip is definitely easier than flying when babies are involved. But it’s not exactly a walk in the park either. Not having a limit on items and liquids makes life so much better, not to mention you don’t have to have a squirming baby on your lap giving you busted lips and black eyes.

Here’s a list of some of the items that made our 5-day drive go relatively smoothly:

Car Seat Toys

I put two car seat toys on rings for Treat to stare at and occasionally grab. The links
prevented him from accidentally throwing them out of his car seat. Mr. Turtle and Freckles are now well loved car companions. (Those names were given by me during an attempt to cheer him up.)

Zeta the Zebra Teething Toy

Firecracker had the classic Sophie the Giraffe teething toy so to prevent any confusion Treat gets a different version. (Granted, Sophie has been lost for almost a year now.)

Disposable Bed Mats

Now here’s an item you probably didn’t expect to see on this list! Treat is the king of diaper blowouts and I wasn’t about to worry about needing to wash the car seat cover in the middle of nowhere. I simply folded up one of these (cutting one in half to fold would be even better!) under his bum for the trip. Really, I should maintain this practice until he starts solid foods…

Diapers and Wipes

I simply kept a jumbo diaper box and filled it with diapers for each the kids as well as a tub of wipes (with refills) on the floor in the backseat for easy access.

Hand Sanitizing Wipes

When gas stations and public rest area restrooms are the main stops it’s highly recommended to have an easy way to clean both adult hands and children hands.

Mirrors

If you don’t already use mirrors for the kiddos during day-to-day travel, you’ll definitely want them for a long road trip. It’s always good to know if they’re asleep and/or starting to stir when planning driving breaks.

Media Station

Unless your vehicle is equipped with rear entertainment, you can easily create your own set up. We got a $5 universal tablet holder and hooked it up to the middle seat headrest. The holder is intended for the back of headrests but as my kids are still rear facing our method worked just fine! We downloaded a season of  Wallykazam and turned it on in moments of great need. Surprisingly Firecracker didn’t acknowledge its addition to the backseat for a long time so we didn’t need to use it until halfway through our trip.

For the adults, books on CD to help with the 40-odd hours of driving. My choice: the whole Harry Potter series! We got through all of books 1 and 2 and more than half of book 3! I am now continuing listening to the series to make LA traffic much more bearable.

Box of Books and Toys

I knew we couldn’t let the movers pack up all of the toys so I kept a bin of the absolute favorites for Firecracker to grab and play with as desired. Of course all the trains made the cut as did Scout, phone, and laptop. I kept some books out for hotel nights, too, mostly those that are bedtime appropriate.

Food

A small cooler of food was definitely a blessing on a long trip. I was able to keep cheese and fruit as well as ingredients for countless PB&Js. Snacks for the adults was also necessary for long stretches of driving. And water! Just don’t forget some silverware, baggies, and cups.

Cereal Storage Box

I can’t take credit for this one. I saw this tip on Pinterest many years ago and have kept a bin (and plastic shopping bags) in my car ever since as a vehicular garbage can. It’s great for tissues, food wrappers, and receipts. I suggest keeping soiled diapers in a deodorized bag though if you can’t toss them elsewhere right away. (Yes, we made a highly necessary diaper and outfit change in the middle of nowhere. Only once though!)

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Coming soon will be more details as well as tips and lessons learned for getting through another military move.

Dislclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Tuesday Tattles #12

Tuesday Tattles

Five months seems to be my new average for posting Firecracker’s favorite toy themed Tuesday Tattles, as he is now 21 months old. That’s only 3 months away from being two years old. TWO! I’m sorry, WHAT?! Who, what, where, when, why, and most importantly, HOW!?

Like any proud parents, we think we have one smart boy on our hands. He can count (with prompting) to three, and will repeat us up to ten. He knows his shapes and is working on his colors – he knows “boo” and “purp” consistently and his go-to guess is “yell.” One of his bed time procrastination techniques is to point to all the facial body parts and rattle them off – “hair, eye, nose, mouth, ear, cheek.”

Now on to the favorite toys of my almost two year old.

Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn ABC Train

Firecracker got this toy at his birthday and it’s been well loved for the past 9 months. He had to get it out of its packaging immediately upon unwrapping it, even! This train sings the alphabet, says the letters individually, and has a song mode with more alphabet fun. I have determined that it’s this toy that taught him how to say “All aboard!”

Winnie the Pooh Wooden Train

Train Toys for Toddlers 1  Sew You Think You Can CookI can’t tell you how thankful I am that Firecracker’s godmother (shout out to Tara!) got him this train for Christmas. He doesn’t play too much with the characters but he races the cars and carries all sorts of other toys, usually shapes, in them. But the real reason I’m thankful for this toy is that it is one of the reasons bed time has been greatly improved. After his 18 month doctor appointment, we started putting him to bed with one of the train cars at the suggestion of our pediatrician. (He doesn’t have a “lovie” blanket or stuffed animal.)

Wooden Railway Thomas and Friends Toys

We succumbed to the power of Thomas and Friends and bought Firecracker a Thomas
toy. His grandparents got him Percy to go with it. The joy that he gets in playing with these small trains was worth the crazy prices we paid for them. The constant happy yelling of “Thom-as” and “Per” is hilarious, too. He doesn’t have a train table to drive them on, but I do want to get him a road/track carpet once we’re settled in our new home later this month.

He usually gets his train table fix by going to Barnes & Noble. There’s always one young child being dragged away kicking and screaming by his parents, and I’m always prepared to be that parent dealing with the mega-tantrum, but telling him “It’s almost time to stop, so choose one more thing to do” (thank you, Daniel Tiger) and having him say “bye bye” helps immensely. We can also ask him to stay calm, and he’ll repeat “calm.” (Granted he’s often half-crying, but it’s pretty amazing to see him try to stay calm and use his words.)

Train Set with Colorful Track

Train Toys for Toddlers 2  Sew You Think You Can CookMy in-laws gave Firecracker this train set for Christmas and it’s definitely one of his all-time favorites. My husband definitely doesn’t feel the same way about this particular toy. I’m indifferent to it, the soundtrack of my life is the sound of this train. It’s the best when it goes under the couch to where I can’t reach it. (Sarcasm!) In all honestly though, this train has gotten so much love that it sounds like it’s on its last leg, and some of the track has been trampled by Firecracker-zilla one too many times.

He is seriously one train obsessed toddler! He likes watching Thomas and Chuggington (though Wallykazam is making a comeback) and the newest obsession are these YouTube videos of Max the Glow Train by Coilbook. For other television favorites you can check our my Tuesday Tattles #9.

Believe it or not, there are some non-train toys that make the cut, too!

Mega Bloks First Builders Firetruck

This “tire tuck” tags along with us just about everywhere – to play dates, dinners at friends’ homes, and the gym. Whenever we’re going somewhere where Firecracker might need toys, I like to bring items that can be easily wiped down, that means no wood, cloth, or electronics. The firetruck has a small compartment for holding a few Mega Bloks, and it turns out to be the perfect size for Thomas and Percy to ride in. Firecracker likes to race his vehicular toys in the kitchen so I must always be wary of tripping over the firetruck.

Shape Matching Toys

Firecracker loves to match his shapes and he can even recognize and “say” circle, oval, square, triangle, and octagon! Some of our favorite shape toys are: Winnie the Pooh Wooden Shape Sorting Cube and First Shapes Jumbo Knob Puzzle.

Books

I’m happy to report that even with his obsession with watching shows, he still loves books! The current favorites include: Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat in the Hat, and If Animals Kissed Good Night.

*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Tuesday Tattles #11

Tuesday Tattles

Many parents have discovered that “silence means trouble,” but for the most part I wouldn’t agree. There are however always those exceptions that make that statement the truest summary of parenting out there.

Most of the time my son’s silence means he’s flipping through a book or playing with his trains. It’s moments like that that make my heart skip a beat. I am so thankful to have a child who is comfortable and able to play on his own and it’s a joy to watch his imagination blossom.

How to Remove Colored Pencil from the Wall (1)  Sew You Think You Can CookHowever, sometimes that silence means he’s figured out a way to climb on the table or get into one of the air vents in the floor. In the most recent moment of silence, that naughty action was coloring on the walls. I guess it’s a rite of passage for every child and parent!

I am happy to report that I found an easy cleaning solution! My son used colored pencils so I’m not sure this would work for crayons, it most definitely wouldn’t work for markers – at least I wouldn’t think so. And to add another caveat, I’m not sure if it’d work well on non-white walls.

There I sat with a soap soaked wash cloth scrubbing vigorously to no avail. Sure, I saw a tinge of pink appear on my white cloth but I shudder to think how long I’d have had to sit there rubbing back and forth. And then I had my aha moment. I was wiping at colored pencil, surely an eraser would do the trick! And, it did! Quick and painless.

How to Remove Colored Pencil from the Wall (2)  Sew You Think You Can Cook

I did try the eraser trick on some crayon on his play kitchen. It didn’t work as well. I don’t know if it’s because of the texture of the play kitchen or because of the crayon.

Thursday Thoughts #14

Thursday Thoughts

Today I want to talk about the one little part of motherhood no one tells you about: parent guilt.

Before becoming a parent people tell you all about the lack of sleep, the constant fear of “living with your heart out of your chest,” and about the love you didn’t know you could give. You know that “a baby changes everything” and you’re {somewhat} prepared for countless dirty diapers and seemingly infinite feeding sessions; and you can never be prepared for the jump of your insides the first time your baby smiles at you or the first time you hear that giggle. Becoming a parent is a roller coaster of emotions!

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When you have two kids none of those feelings change, but they do multiply. Days definitely get harder and nights have the potential to disappear into a state of being constantly awake (depending on the sleeping habits of baby number one). But again, you’re not prepared for the immense releif when your oldest not only accepts the new addition to the family, but shows him love. You’re more aware of the feelings that come with new motherhood and they’re still magical with baby number two. There’s amazement that you truly can love two children equally and it didn’t come at a cost of division, but addition.

You know all of that. While you may not appreciate it or understand it until you experience it, you know it.

What you don’t know is the constant pang of guilt. And it’s a guilt that absolutely grows with the number of children. It’s those constant questions: Did I do enough today? Do my kids know I love them? Did I play enough? Was I on my phone too much? Did he watch too much tv? Are they happy?

And the answers aren’t always a simple yes or no answer.

Yes, you did enough. There are days after rough nights or sick days when you think you didn’t, but know you did. If you fed yourself and fed your kids, if you changed that diaper, if you said, “I love you,” you did enough.

Yes, your kids know you love them. You can see it in their smile, when they grab your hand, when they want to play with you, when they want you to sit next to them. Just take a look.

The third question is the one I have the hardest time answering. My son is 18 months old and is an incredible big brother, but I can tell he’s starting to exhibit jealousy. On days when my youngest is extra fussy or extra hungry my toddler starts acting out for attention. It’s the most difficult feeling to process. Both babies need me and there’s a balance that shifts daily. I’m learning to use Treat’s naptime not as a moment to check on the blog or edit a photo but to instead play with Firecracker. He doesn’t ask for much, he just wants to know that I’m not just there, that I’m present.

Which rolls us into “Am I on the phone too much?” I know that answer is “yes.” It’s something I’m trying to work on. I can make excuses for why I keep it near me at all times, but they’re not exactly valid. I don’t need to photograph every move my children make, I don’t need to answer that text message immediately, or read that email. It’s a hard habit to break. Some days I do much better at leaving my phone on the counter than others. Habits are easy to make and hard to break. All I can do is say, “I’m trying.”

“Did he watch too much TV?” Well, yes. According to the medical community at least. It’s something that I am again working on. We spend a lot of time playing in a room without a television, but when I need to nurse Treat we return to the couch and I throw on Thomas and Friends or Chuggington. And my son is slightly addicted to the TV, too. Each morning the first thing he asks for is “train! … peeease.” It’s that very first stretch of TV watching I’m trying to postpone by reading a couple of books instead. I don’t win everyday, but again, I’m trying. I take comfort knowing that my son is a ball full of energy who would still rather climb and run than sit still. A child who would much rather be playing outside and one who likes to escape the confines of the house. (Spring, are you here yet?)

But the number one concern of all parents: are my kids happy? I’d like to think mine are quite happy. And I know they are loved beyond any measurable quantity. If they feel just an ounce of the love I have for them, then I can be assured they are happy.

Parent guilt. It sucks. I don’t have any solutions to getting rid of this guilt, and I’m not sure I’d want to. Having it lets me know that I’m doing my best. And that’s good enough.

Tuesday Tattles #10

Tuesday Tattles

It’s been another almost five months since I’ve done a “favorite products” version of Tuesday Tattles. My little man is now 16 1/2 months old.

12107130_10103304221470551_5559103387627477238_nA lot has happened since he’s turned one! He is more sure footed than ever, except for when he’s tired, and is a happy explorer. He can run, although not exactly gracefully, and enjoys running away from us to see if we’ll get him! But his number one activity is climbing. He’ll try and climb up on anything! I’ve caught him on top of my crafting table, laying next to my sewing machine. Chairs now have to be kept at a distance or tucked too far under the table to be of use.

His vocabulary has expanded from “duck” to include “all done”, “uh oh”, “up”, and “okay.” He is getting great at communicating when he is hungry too by running to the fridge and yelling “MAOW”. His favorite foods include sandwiches, berries, bananas, and the food that gets a happy dance, cheese.

Now on to the favorite toys of my one year old. A lot of today’s items are those he got at his first birthday. My family had some great ideas so if you have little ones on your holiday shopping list pay attention!

Duck Pond Water Table

toys for toddlers | sew you think you can cookA splash table is a fun warm weather activity and when I saw one that was duck themed I knew I had to get it! (Duck was my little man’s first word and he still loves rubber ducks and the duck stuffed animal I had as a child.) My son loves water – baths, showers, washing his hands. It’s getting too cold now but I know when it comes back out of the box come late spring he’ll find new enjoyment with it.

Little People Music Parade Ride-On

11755883_10103137355366561_2074814749816057856_nThis marching band car is a huge hit! He loves to press the music making buttons, push it around the house, sit on it and be pushed, sit on it and scoot around himself, and of course, try to fit himself in it. Surprisingly he still hasn’t put anything into the seat cavity, other than to immediately pull it out. Maybe with a little brother around he’ll re-discover the compartment as a place for safe keeping.

Play Kitchen

toys for toddlers 2 | sew you think you can cookA play kitchen is a perfect toy for a food blogger’s kid! And I’m happy to report that a lot of independent play has been developed through his play kitchen. (Allowing me to wash dishes peacefully.) He will bang the dishes, open up all the doors, and naturally try and climb it. This particular model comes with a shape sorting pot and it’s one of his favorite activities. All of the accessories do create a bit of a mess, but what’s a home with a toddler without a little clutter?

Classic Table and Chairs Set

toys for toddlers 3 | sew you think you can cookWe found this classic table and chairs set at a consignment shop in fantastic shape, so I jumped on the chance to bring it home. I thought he was still too little to really use it but I was proven wrong within ten minutes of having it home. He had immediately climbed up on top of the table and stood up. It was kept upside down for a while after that. And when he got tired of being in his booster seat I found he’d eat a sandwich like a big boy at his table. Turns out the table is also the perfect platform for superhero practice with Daddy.

Mega Bloks

Until quite recently my little man much preferred destroying towers as to building them but now he’ll stack a few before taking them apart. He likes to bring us the bag to open up and build with him, although the creativity and endless hours of fun are still a ways away.

The Little Engine That Could

This abridged version of the classic is definitely my 16 month old’s favorite book. We read it at least four times a day.

The Babies on the Bus

I must admit, I wasn’t thrilled pulling this one out of the birthday bag, but the gift giver definitely knew what they were doing. This book comes at a very close second for most read book in our house. I have managed to turn it into a fun read by not singing the song (no one needs that stuck in their head all childhood) and using hand motions. My son will now “sing” “LA LA LA” with the babies on the bus and say “shush shush shush” with the driver on the bus. He will also swing his arms “open and close” along with the “doors on the bus.”
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Tuesday Tattles: TV Edition

I hate to say it, but the TV is on almost all day in my house. I am one of those people that needs to have the noise of the TV to stay sane, so I’ve adjusted the viewing to fit with those kid’s shows that I “approve” of and that my son likes.

My son will never sit still to actually watch a full episode of anything (unless he’s sick) but for those instances when he looks at the TV I want to make sure it’s toddler appropriate and there won’t be a commercial for the R-rated next horror movie.

Here’s a list of the shows we like:

Daniel TigerDaniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: While I know most of the situations in this show are geared towards older kids, 3-4, it does a great job in explaining different social situations and how to deal with different emotions. There’s even an episode when Daniel becomes a big brother that I have recorded and saved to be re-watched 8 weeks from now. My 14 month old will occasionally sit still to watch 5-10 minutes at a time – he likes the music and colors. And of course, the fact that Daniel is a tiger is a big hit in this Auburn household.

Peg + Cat: Okay, I must admit that I like Peg + Cat more than my son does. A glance at the TV will not captivate him with this show (and that’s okay!), but it’s often on during lunch and he’ll pay attention while he eats. Peg + Cat does a great job in teaching math skills, and the engineer in me loves that the cartoon is drawn on engineering paper with equations all along the background. There is always counting, sometimes by twos, shapes, and basic algebra. There are even references to history, science, and literature.

Thomas and FriendsAnd now for a show that my son likes better than I do. I know my brother and I grew up with Thomas the Tank Engine but I’m not fully convinced I like it. My son became captivated with the trains and the theme song, so I left it on. Each episode focuses on a different character who makes poor decisions. I’m not thrilled with the attitudes of these trains, but the episodes do explain what the character did wrong and the character always apologizes and fixes their mistakes. Thomas and Friends might become more applicable in Elementary School.

The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That: I was introduced to this show a few years ago babysitting. Originally, The Cat in the Hat started off as being one that my son would shrug off, but now that he recognizes the “thing-a-ma-jigger” song he smiles and dances along. The main subject of this show is science; teaching viewers mainly about animals and weather.

IMG_6309Team Umizoomi: Here is another math centered show, and this one is more captivating for my little man. (It’s much more colorful than Peg + Cat is.) There are usually a couple of episodes that come on right before Dad returns home from work and turning Team Umizoomi on can help keep the early evening fussiness at bay. Every episode of Team Umizoomi involves counting, patterns, and shapes. The end of every episode encourages the kids to get up and move (not something my son needs help with!) by doing a celebratory “dance” called “The Crazy Shake.”

Wallykazam: I have saved the best for last. Wallykazam is not only my son’s favorite show, but my husband and I absolutely love it, too. Honestly, we’ll finish an episode long after our 14 month old has lost interest. Wallykazam teaches spelling and vocabulary by way of magic in a fantasy land. The characters (troll, goblin, dragon, giant, ogre, etc) are absolutely adorable (although my brother’s fiance will object because they all have bad teeth)! We record Wallykazam because it’s not on every day and will often watch an episode an hour before bed time to start calming down our ball-full-of-energy. At seeing Wally and Norville on the DVR list my son will point at the TV very excitedly and make his “I want” whimper.

Tuesday Tattles #8

Tuesday Tattles

It’s been five months since I’ve done a “favorite products” version of Tuesday Tattles. My little man is now ONE!

Five months is a long time in the world of an infant. He has gone from army crawling to hands-and-knees crawling. From pulling up on furniture to full standing. From toddling with support to complete walking. He can squat to pick things up and carries items between rooms.

Saying “dada” has taken a backseat to finally saying “mama” and his first word is “duck” and he says it with enthusiasm when he sees a rubber ducky, a duck on a screen, or the stuffed animal that used to be mine as a child. He will even wave good-bye to the cashiers at the grocery store and says “ba ba” along with it.

With his 6 teeth (4 on top, 2 on bottom) he enjoys eating anything off of my plate. His favorite foods though are mushrooms, breakfast foods, black beans, and sweet potatoes. He will hum if something is good enough, too!

Tuesday Tattles 8

Fisher Price Apps

I hate to say it but the phone is one of my sons favorite things – ever. (He has actually chewed my Lifeproof case to the point where I’m not sure it’s “lifeproof” anymore. He’s not allowed to put it in his mouth any longer.) It’s okay though, he will flip through books on his own for ten minutes at a time. IMG_5266My husband found a couple Fisher Price Apps one morning and they’ve been great learning tools – as well as a wonderful distraction when needed. I’m pretty sure it’s through these learning apps that my son learned the word “duck”. On the Animals app he will touch through each animal until the duck appears – he even knows it comes after the pig.

I Love You Through And Through

This book by Bernadette Rossetti Shustak is definitely a favorite. The pages fall somewhere between paper and board book making them the perfect texture and thickness for little fingers to turn on their own. The illustrations are also adorable.

Activity Walker

11393224_10103032385357301_8014185378665337010_nWhen we went to visit friends in D.C. they had this walker for their son when he was learning how to walk. I’d been debating on buying one for my little man and his attachment to this toy had me on Amazon the minute we got home. I feel I was a little late in the game in buying it because he doesn’t get very much use from it now that he can walk independently. He will occasionally still play with the activity toys on the front though.

Play Triangle

Another toy I waited to purchase until I saw him playing with another kid’s is this play triangle. This toy has been well loved and still is. It’s the one I throw in the car if we’re going to someone’s house and I even stuffed it on our suitcase to have on our ten day vacation to the grandparents’. My little man decided this toy would make a good walking assistant and it is now scratched up from him bending over it and pushing it along the concrete on the back patio.

Alphabet Mat

10986993_10102992329559441_2932654624227789841_nWe’ve had the Alphabet Mat for a long time, and it was definitely more for me than him at the time. I went with the one made by B Toys because the color scheme was unique and had all my favorite colors. The abundance of orange and navy made this Auburn girl quite happy, too. Once my son discovered that the letters (and tiles) are removable they quickly became his favorite chew toy.

Blocks

This basic block set is a classic toy that has stood the test of time. My mom had a set in her toy closet from when she used to frequently babysit a friend’s kids over 8 years ago. These colorful shapes have been well loved (aka chewed on). While my son hasn’t yet had the patience or interest in learning how to put the shapes through their corresponding holes on the top he loves clapping them together and throwing them. And it may be coincidental, but he has accurately identified a couple of the shapes/colors when I’ve asked. The blue circle is definitely his favorite. My favorite thing to do with them is to start stacking the blocks. Without fail a little hand comes through to swipe my tower – followed by a giggle. This game was actually the first time my son actually played with me and when he was done demolishing my towers we played “tag” down the hallway.

Empty Water Bottles

I don’t care how many toys you have, the best play thing you can hand my son is a water bottle – full or empty doesn’t matter. Same goes for solo cups. 

Balls

I can’t begin to tell you how happy it makes my husband that our son loves to play with balls. He will throw a ball if you ask him to and can occasionally catch one tossed to him. Granted, it takes a lot of focus and multiple attempts – but it’s exciting every time! Any ball will do – tennis ball, Oball, plastic balls, volleyball, or beach ball; doesn’t matter the size, he’ll try and pick it up.

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