Thursday, November 3, 2016


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DOG by Matthew Van Fleet is, hands down, my favorite tab/flap/texture book for babies.   Each of my three children has gotten a new copy, not because it isn't sturdy (it is), but because it has gotten WAY more than its fair share of loving! 

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The fuzzy tails and ears and sticky tongue are legitimately fun to touch, the pull-tabs are easy to manipulate for small hands, and the moving tails and legs are sturdy.   There are between 7-15 words per page spread- a good mix of early vocab (dog, big, little, shake, ears, etc) with more advanced words (quake, floppy, howl, etc)  to keep babies interested. The pictures are clear and varied, the rhyme flows well and has humor! It is everything a great baby book should be! My three kids have all adored this book.

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Matthew Van Fleet has a few other, similar books- CAT and MOO.  Which also seem excellent.  Our family has had dogs, so our babies have been more enamored of DOG than the others!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Mini Construction Bin

Because I was going to sweep today anyway-  right?

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My 18 month old found his excavator toy today after several LONG days of its being missing.

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(He may not know the difference between a squirrel and a dog but do NOT try to convince him that a dump truck or bulldozer is just as good as an excavator).   Anyway, to celebrate I pulled out a 9 x 13 pan and a cup of lentils and a cup of rice. Two spoons and a few construction toys (left over from this birthday cake) and a voilà! Entertainment for 25 minutes!

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My dear 5 yo added some small Tupperwares, and the fun continued!

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9x13 is a bit small for two kids- but it worked ok for our impromptu rainy morning. An under the bed storage container would be a better size, but I didn't have enough rice for that today.  And when things devolved into simply throwing rice, I dumped the rice/lentil mix into a ziplock for use later and swept up the floor.   On to snack time!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Journey, Quest, Return

It took me a while to warm up to the idea of wordless books.  Mostly because of laziness.  At the end of a day filled with endless questions and drama, I simply have no energy for inventing my own bedtime story.  I count on the words on those pages to guide me through that home-stretch until lights out time.  BUT I saw a preview of the book Journey by Aaron Becker when it won the Caldecott, and I was entranced.  The pictures are simply stunning.  I could live in this book.  I immediately bought a copy for our then 2 and 4 year olds.  They loved it too.  It is simply too beautiful not to love. 
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And I came to realize the genius of these books is not in the parent telling the story- it is the child discovering the story.  I really really try to only ask questions when we "read" this book.  (But I cannot help oohing and aahing here and there too)  The kids eyes light up when they discover the plot and I love watching them page back and say "Wait, was that on the last page?" They truly enter the book in a way they don't when I am reading to them. 

So when I stumbled across Quest and Return, the sequels to Journey at the library yesterday I actually squealed with delight! My 2nd grader was so excited when he saw them after school, he chose to read them before playing minecraft.  Quite an endorsement! 

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Titles: Journey

Author: Aaron Becker

Ages: While our 18 month old is taken with the pictures, and our 2 year old enjoyed them,  I think the target ages are 3-10.  By 3 they can really discover the story on their own, which is such a beautiful process!

Summary: The book opens with a girl trying to get her family to play with her- but they are busy.  She finds a red crayon and draws a door that opens like a portal to a beautiful, magical world.  The plot builds through each of the books as she uses her magic crayon to escape and rescue friends.  Along the way she meets a boy who also enters the world, a king, and ends up building a relationship with her father.  The story is empowering and full of imagination, magic, heroism, and beauty.  

Saturday, October 6, 2012

easy bubbles

Thursday was the latest in what has been a week of whiny screamy days (and nights).  Zoë is cutting teeth which she does with the grace and discretion of a rhinoceros and Jonathan's mouth erupted in canker sores which have been getting worse and making him cry when he eats anything.  We've going through Tylenol and teething tablets like water and still NO ONE around here is sleeping well.  On Thursday Jonathan got up from his nap and collapsed in tears when he bit into his after-nap treat (a soft chocolate candy).  Zoë was in the other room moaning and carrying on because I had set her down while I was getting Jonathan up.  I surveyed the situation- 2 whiny kids and my tired frustration rapidly turning into anger and rising and creeping up from my stomach into my face.  I love them and feel badly about their pain, but there is only so much of that noise- that horrible scratchy dissatisfied whine- I can take and I had reached my limit.  I knew if something didn't happen I would start screaming. And I really didn't want that.  We needed a plan.  Something out of the ordinary that would distract them.   And then I remembered that Jonathan had asked me to fill our star-shaped ice tray with green ice last week and then we had forgotten about it.  PERFECT.

I dug out a clear plastic bin that was just big enough that Zoë wouldn't be able to dump it over once it was full of water and filled it about 5 inches deep with warm water.  I plopped the ice onto a plate, and scrounged the cabinets for a few toys.   Zoë is in a dumping phase- as in dumping everything onto her head- and so I was looking for anything that wouldn't hold water well enough to be dumped.  I ended up with 2 whisks and 2 small sieves out of the cabinet.

Viola.  Entertainment until the ice was melted- 5 minutes.

With the ice melted and they started migrating away from the bin.  NOOO.  5 minutes was NOT enough distracted time to break our funk.  Desperately I tried and an idea I vaguely remembered from pinterest- dishsoap.  I squired in 3 squirts and used the whisk to churn the water and we were back in business.

Green water with oodles of bubbles.  It was a hit.  They played for a good 20 minutes together.  Enraptured and occasionally giggling and NOT whining or needing to be held.  Then Jonathan ran to the other room to get our entire collection of plastic animals and they spend at least 10 more minutes playing hide-and-seek with the animals under the bubbles.

So easy for so much fun and 30 minutes of mental break time for me.  Not a lot has gone right this week- but this got me through Thursday!  
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