Tuesday Tattles #17

It’s come to my realization that I haven’t actually shared our favorite kids books! I know I’ve sprinkled them into some of Firecracker’s monthly favorites – a series that’s gone the wayside as he approached and passed 2.

As I started to list all of the books that we love I gawked at how long it was and yet how much I was leaving out. So, I’m going to do a few book series during Tuesday Tattles over the next couple of months.

I’m going to start with the best bedtime books. These are books that have helped lull my kids into naps or have become cemented into the bedtime routine.

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Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

This title might seem like a strange one to include on a bedtime book list, but between 19-22 months I had this book engraved into my memory. Our bedtime routine always concluded with my son falling asleep in my lap while I rocked him and read Green Eggs and Ham. Not only is it a book to encourage trying new foods, its very rhythmic and repetitive script transforms into the perfect “lullaby.”

The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss

The Cat in the Hat isn’t quite as repetitive as Green Eggs and Ham but I did develop a rhythm in reading it that turned out to be just the ticket I needed for nap time. (Back when Firecracker took naps.) It’s a long book for an active boy to sit through and we’d often only make it halfway though, never venturing into the part of the story with Thing 1 and Thing 2, before he’d drift off to sleep in my lap in the rocking chair.

img_0497Danny and the Dinosaur by Syd Hoff

Danny and the Dinosaur was one of my husband’s favorite books as a kid and my in-laws gave us the Danny and the Dinosaur 50th Anniversary Box Set before our cross-country move. I remember it being the first book I read in our new home. Just like The Cat in the HatDanny and the Dinosaur quickly became associated with pre-nap reading.

Steam Train, Dream Train Colors by Sherri Duskey Rinker

My mom found this book and Steam Train, Dream Train 1-2-3 for my boys for Easter. I used to keep them both in the car (the books, not the boys) and Firecracker would happily “read” through them, often finally falling asleep. I’m not sure when it happened, but the colors book found its way inside and is now mandatory bedtime reading. He even has the first page memorized. He doesn’t fall asleep reading this book, though. We often read it 2-3 times. Graduating from color recognition, he states all of the letters in the words at each turn of the page. I can recite this book for memory and can “read” it in the pitch black of night.

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img_2950Where Do Steam Trains Sleep at Night? by Brianna Caplan Sayres

Here’s another gem given to Firecracker by my mom. It’s a book that he was immediately drawn to. It’s a great book for little train lovers. The book describes different bed time routines for each style of train in two line poems about parent and child engines. My son loves finding the mouse “hidden” on each page.

The Goodnight Train by June Sobel

There had to be a unique train book that didn’t come from my mom, right?! We found this one in a cute children’s boutique nearby. I love the illustrations and whimsical feel. The Goodnight Train gets rotated with Where Do Steam Train Sleep at Night? at night. As a result, neither of them are memorized making it difficult to read when bedtime procrastination has left me not even a glow of sunlight.

img_3005Goodnight, Dragons by Judith Roth

Not every book can be about trains! I do have a second child after all. While we’ve had this book long before Treat came along, it didn’t get quite the attention or love until fairly recently. Goodnight, Dragons is, hands down, Treat’s favorite book. It’s the only one he’ll actually sit still (ish) for! What I love most about this book is its message: “Everybody needs a cuddle; maybe dragons more than most.”

If Animals Kissed Good Night by Ann Whitford Paul

The last book on my list is my personal favorite. It has cute little rhymes for multiple parent-child animal pairings as the day turns into night. But I think this book holds a special place in my heart because of the memories I have reading it to Firecracker when he was 12-18 months old: he was just learning how to kiss (a skill he is now way too aggressive with) and with every couplet read he’d turn and give me a kiss.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. 

Tuesday Tattles with OXO Tot

Tuesday Tattles

When you become a parent the general topics of your conversation change drastically. Discussions about bodily functions, sleep, and eating vie for the number one slot. I could have predicted those, though. You can delve even deeper into that eating category – how to introduce foods to baby, what foods to expose your little one to first, and when to get started. Closely linked to that conversation is drinking (and I’m not talking cocktails for the parentals): When to introduce water or milk? How much does your kid actually drink? And my personal favorite – what kind of cup do you use?

I can’t tell you how difficult it is to answer that final question. I think we’ve tried them all! And to be honest, after over a year we still didn’t have a clear winner. When I was selected to review OXO Tot’s newest line of cups I couldn’t have been more ecstatic. In my box was the Transitions Soft Spout Sippy Cup Set – Aqua and Transitions Sippy Cup (9 Oz.) Aqua. I was pleasantly surprised to also receive their ingenious Roll-Up Bib – Gray and Cleaning Set for Straw & Sippy Cups. (I used the cleaning tools on more than just sippy cups or bottles, I was able to get into the nooks and crannies of my Ninja single serve blender blade!)

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Firecracker has developed the most unfortunate taste for plastic – teething toys, sippy cups, and straws have all had their fair share of pieces bitten out of them. That meant the Transitions Sippy Cup is perfect for him – he can chew on the nozzle all he wants without tearing it apart. Its spill proof design is perfect for my little man on the go, too. I can confidently give it to him in the car, stroller, or just to have while he’s playing.

I have always found the spill-proof cups to be near impossible to drink out of – yes, I try! – but not this OXO Tot product! The spill-proof valve has a unique design that can be removed making it easy for cleaning, too. With two under two (at least for a few more days) the cup has already found its way under the couch more than once without a drop of water spilled.

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Because of the previously mentioned chewing habits of my almost-two year old, the Transitions Soft Spout Sippy Cup was handed to Treat. Up until this point we’d offered him water by simply holding up a small cup and kind of splashing the liquid into his mouth. The first time he drank from the cup most of it ended up down his front and we had to hold it for him. Just one short week later, the cup came with us to the beach and he was able to hold it by the handles and drink from it himself! (That didn’t stop big brother from wanting to help out, though.)

The Transitions Soft Spout Sippy Cup has another drinking configuration, too; a training lid that acts just like a regular cup. It has a clear cover to it that helps minimize a complete douse in liquid but allows the child to visually see what happens when they tip the cup. I think it’s really a smart concept and a perfect teaching tool. This cup, however, is not spill proof, so its use is reserved for meal times at the table under adult supervision.

The roll-up bib is another genius creation from OXO Tot. It has a large pocket for catching food, is machine washable, and rolls up! (As the name suggests.) The simple design makes this bib my go-to for bringing to restaurants or on picnics. I can even toss the dirty spoon into the pocket and keep all the sticky surfaces hidden from “contaminating” everything else in the lunchbox or diaper bag.

Bottom line. Would I recommend these OXO Tot products to my friends? Absolutely! We were already satisfied OXO Tot customers and I’m happy to report that the love with their products has only increased after reviewing these items.

Disclaimer: I received these items from OXO in exchange for my honest review. All opinions and comments are my own. 

Tuesday Tattles #14

Tuesday Tattles

Today’s Tuesday Tattles is all about removing superglue from a toddler’s fingers.

Fun right?!

A couple of months ago Firecracker’s wooden helicopter broke. The metal spoke holding the propeller snapped. Because it’s one of his favorite toys, I decided we should try and fix it. Super glue can fix anything, right?

Well, probably, if you know how to use it properly.

My husband and I very carefully applied some glue to the top of the spoke and held the top in place. After a few seconds I put the toy on the table to dry. Almost immediately Firecracker grabbed it. The top fell off and his fingers were covered in super glue. He ran up to Daddy and asked for “help.” We are quite thankful he was not strong enough to pull his fingers apart.

Immediately I reached out to the internet. I needed a method that was safe for my toddler. Using laundry detergent, nail polish remover, or WD-40 was not going to cut it. Not surprisingly, warm soap and water is perfectly capable to remove super glue from skin, especially if you’re acting quickly enough. I immediately took Firecracker to the sink and used as warm of water as he could tolerate. I then used hand soap until his fingers pried apart.

The dried super glue will eventually flake off on it’s own, but because I have a boy who can’t keep his fingers out of his mouth for more than three minutes, I knew I had to get the glue off completely. I set him in my lap, turned on Chuggington and took to his fingers with an emery board.

How to Remove Super Glue from Skin

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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.