Tuesday, February 26, 2008

How to entertain a preschooler on the airplane?

Since both my husband and I are from the Midwest, we tend to travel quite a bit to see family. Luckily, I've been blessed with a child who is a very patient traveler (sometimes more so than her mommy!).

Here are some of my favorite things for keeping myself organized and my daughter content:

1. Game/Puzzle


This game kept us occupied for more than an hour (I'm not exaggerating) !! I can't wait to buy some of the other book games by Haba toys.

2. Ergo Carrier

This is the BEST invention! We use it for travel, hiking or just getting around town. I bought it when my daughter was 1 year old and we are still using it at almost 3 years of age.

3. Outside Baby Backpack

I'm using this backpack for the first time and it has not disappointed at all!

4. DVD Player
I hate to admit it but this provided entertainment for our daughter too!

5. Travel Potty Seat

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Potty Training tip for public restrooms

Well, I first have to say that part of being a great mommy is to surround yourself with a fabulous support group of mommy friends and I have been fortunate enough to meet a group of women who have been crucial to my survival as a mommy. One of my fabulous friends (who is an amazing mommy) has offered me advice/support on countless occasions and most recently she gave me a very effective Potty Training tip!
To provide some background, my daughter has been potty trained for several months and everything has gone pretty smoothly. But, recently she has been experiencing stage fright when in a public restroom and everything that I tried was not helping her. Well, thank goodness for my fabulous friend because she told me to have her listen (while putting her hand to her ear) for her pee-pee. And, WOW, did this work! Now, every time we are in a public restroom, I just tell her to listen for her pee-pee and voila she performs without anxiety! I just loved this tip and had to share....

Monday, February 18, 2008

Matching Games

Since we bought the game Lotto (previous post), my daughter has been enjoying playing games. Right now, we are playing matching games. We have a set of Dora the Explorer playing cards
and we have played with them a couple different ways:

1. We found all the matching pairs.
2. We took 6 pairs of cards and turned them face down. Then we took turns trying to find the matching pairs one card at a time (we found this easier than turning 2 cards over at a single turn). She caught on pretty quickly and was able to increase the amount of pairs each game.

She really enjoyed this game which is exciting because I love playing games with her!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Creating a book with your child

My mother-in-law is not only a fabulous and very involved grandmother but she is also a retired teacher who is always giving me wonderful ideas and advice on parenting. One of the ideas that she has given me is to create books about my daughter's activities. Not only is this a fun activity it is also helping to develop pre-reading skills. This past Christmas, I decided to create a book for my daughter as a present.
Since my daughter has always enjoyed the book Brown Bear, Brown Bear What do you See by Eric Carle, I decided to create a book called "Lor-Lor (nickname), Lor-Lor What do you see."
I talked about this book with my daughter and for a couple weeks we took the camera with us to take pictures that we wanted to include in the book. I then uploaded the pictures to www.snapfish.com to create one of their on-line photo books (which makes this activity very easy).
After I had all the pictures organized, I started to add text to each page. For example, the text I added to a picture of my daughter looking at goldfish was--"Lor-Lor, Lor-Lor what do you see? I see goldfish swimming around me." Some of the other pictures included her with a pony, at gym class, at music class, making gingerbread houses with a friend and we ended the book with pictures of my daughter with her daddy and one with me with the following text "Lor-Lor says I love my daddy and Daddy says I love my Lor-Lor" and "Lor-Lor says I love my mommy and Mommy says I love my Lor-Lor."
We read this book often and she especially loves the ending of the book!!

Learning about Food Groups Activity

I think it's really important to teach my daughter the importance of a healthy lifestyle. I have always stressed that exercise (indoor and outdoor), good sleep habits, and eating a well-balanced diet will provide her body with the nutrition and energy she needs to stay healthy.
Here is a great activity that helped her learn about the different food groups.

First, I put each food group on a different colored piece of paper with the intention to glue pictures of the different types of food associated with each food group.
To find these pictures, we decided to look through magazines (try to use a parenting or kid-focused magazine) and cut as many different types of food that we could find. Then we talked about which group the specific food was in and glued it on the appropriate food group paper. After we finished, we kept our food group collages on the kitchen table so that we could refer to them during mealtime. She had so much fun referring to her collage during mealtime, “look Mama, I’m having blueberries from the fruit group (while holding up the fruit collage).”

Not only did this help her understand how to classify foods, she really learned that we need more of the fruit, vegetable, meat and bread groups than the sweets group. Now, when she asks for that extra treat, I just have to remind her that we had our daily amount of treats but she is welcome to have something from one of the other groups (most of the time this works ☺).

Strengthening the Mother-Daughter Bond

Even though my daughter is too young for this idea right now, I really hope to form a group like this one in the future. I believe that this will help mother-daughter relationships navigate through the the uncertainty of puberty and adolescence.

Here is a link to the mother-daughter project website too:

Thursday, February 14, 2008

How in the world do I deal with these tantrums?

I know that my last post was regarding "how in the world do I get my preschooler to follow the house rules" but another very daunting part of discipline is handling the temper tantrums that peak sometime between 2 and 3 years of age. As a first-time mommy, I was completely blindsided by the intensity of these tantrums and wasn't sure on how to handle the situation. So, of course, I read everything related to the topic and tried many, many different tactics with my daughter. Below is what ultimately worked for us.

After reading all the different strategies for discipline, we really identified and created our discipline foundation with the Love and Logic philosophy. We liked this philosophy because it's core is to empower the child to make choices.
Here is a link to their website for more information: http://www.loveandlogic.com/pages/factsheet.html

Now that our foundation was created, I really thought I could handle any situation with our daughter. But, I quickly discovered that offering choices to a child who can't control her feelings wasn't working for us at this stage. It was back to the books for me because I was and continue to be committed to helping my daughter through this and any future phase that will be difficult for everyone in the family. Here are a couple exercises that really worked for us.

1. We read the book When Sophie gets Angry..Really, Really Angry by Molly Bang.
After reading this book, I asked her if she could identify with how Sophie was feeling and she said that she did so we talked about a specific time when she felt this way. Once we talked through feeling frustrated and angry it was on to talking about how to handle these feelings. For example, she really liked to take a deep breath and try again. She would take a really deep breath (which was quite funny but I managed to keep a straight face) and then tried the activity again. At first, I always had to remind her to take the breath and try again but after a few days she was doing it on her own.

2. The second idea that really worked for us is to create a feelings board. I read about this idea in Parenting Magazine http://www.parenting.com/.
Basically, we sat down and drew out faces with the associated feelings and hung it in her room. This really helped when she was so out of control and couldn't verbalize how she was feeling because I'd simply ask her to go feelings board and point to how she was feeling. Amazingly, she would stop crying, walk to the board and point to the feeling. We would then talk about that particular feeling. Most of the time it was due to simple frustration and a reminder to take a deep breath and try again (not to mention lots of hugs/kisses) but other times she really felt sad or mad. This really helped the whole family express feelings to each other and I'm always so proud of her when she expresses her feelings to me without being prompted (which happens often now).

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

How in the world do I get my preschooler to follow our house rules?

I was just with some of my friends this morning and we were talking about different strategies for our preschoolers to follow "house rules." What worked for my daughter was to sit her down and make a chart of all the rules and the consequences that will follow if she breaks a rule. Then we took a bunch of magazines and found pictures that were associated with the rule. She had fun finding the pictures and then pasting them next to the rule.
But, my good friend had a great idea too (which I actually think I like better) and that is to take pictures of her daughter doing certain activities and following rules, create the chart and then put the picture next to the activity/rule.

This is all trial and error, right?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Great first board game

I bought this for my daughter at 33 months old and we are playing it every night! It is such a great way to introduce little one's to games. She is learning so much and mommy and daddy are really enjoying playing a board game with her.

Lotto from Ravensburger

Since my daughter has enjoyed this game immensely, I decided to go to the store and buy some poster-board to create some more Lotto-like games.
We will make a letter and number lotto games but I'm sure I'll think of some more ideas for this game because it is fun!

ABC Scavenger hunt activity

My daughter has been really interested in learning the letters of the alphabet, so in order to make it more fun we decided to have a scavenger hunt. We started with the letter A, obviously. Then we colored a big letter A and found all the toys/books in her room that started with the letter A. After finding all the items, we wrote them down and counted the items. Then, I took all the items into another room (while my daughter was in her room) and hid them. After finding each item, we would put a check-mark by that word. We repeated with each letter (but only making it to 'D' on th first day). This was a great way to practice her letters and she definitely enjoyed this activity.

Delicious and Healthy dinner for the family

I've made this recipe several times (thanks to one of my friends for passing it along to me) and it is such a hit that my sweet husband wanted me to include it on my blog. Here it is, enjoy!

Black Bean-Yam Quesadilla
These quick Quesadillas are excellent served with Salsa and Guacamole (great recipe included below for the guacamole)!
Servings: 6
Time: 30 minutes

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 medium yam, grated (about 3 cups)
15 oz. can black beans, drained, or 1-1/2 cups cooked black beans
2 cups packed spinach leaves, chopped
1/4 cup water
6-8 large whole wheat tortillas
Salt to taste
Jack cheese, grated to preference
Salsa, for garnish

1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and sauté for 5 minutes until onion begin to soften and brown. Stir in cumin and sauté an additional minute. Add yam, black beans, spinach leaves and water; stir to combine. Cover and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring once, until yam is tender but not mushy. Season with salt to taste.
2. Heat another skillet over medium high heat. Spray skillet with olive oil. Place one tortilla in skillet and spoon 1/2 cup of the yam-black bean mixture onto half the tortilla. Top with some jack cheese and fold the tortilla over. Cook for 3 minutes, until the bottom is golden, flip the quesadilla and cook for 3 additional minutes, until cheese is melted. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Serve quesadillas with salsa.

Guacamole Recipe:
I found this on www.justadequate.com/guac.htm and it is delicious. (I omit the onions and tomatoes).

Take two avocados (they should be dark green, and just slightly mushy), cut them in half, pop out the pit and scoop out the flesh with a spoon (easier than trying to peel the slippery things, and you lose less flesh - both from you and the avocado).

Crush two or three (or eight or sixteen) cloves of garlic (I use about four), and throw that on the avocado.

Squeeze the heck out of about half a lemon (or about all of a lime), and then go by taste (it's easy to overdo the lemon part). Then mash all this together until it's smooth.

Chop up a small onion and throw it in (it's easy to over-onion this recipe), along with about half a normal size tomato, (I like to have decent size chunks of onion and tomato, just for texture. But I know there are people out there who are going to puree it like baby food anyway. Don't. For me, okay?).

Give it a little more mashing and stirring, then cover the bowl (did I mention to do this in a bowl? If not, scrape everything off the counter into a bowl) and put it in the fridge. If you give it about an hour, the garlic will seep through and blend the flavors together. If you have a problem with the top layer discoloring, apparently putting one of the pits on top is supposed to help. It never works for me, though.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Past Activites/book recommendations - Fall

Here are some of the projects and books that my daughter and I loved during the season of Fall 2007 (age 2 1/2).


1. Learning about the Fall
a. We drew a tree on a very big piece of paper and hung it up in her room. Every day, we would collect the leaves that were falling outside and tape/paste them to our tree. We had so much fun talking about the different types of leaves, sizes, shapes and colors. Once we arrived home, she couldn't wait to paste the real leaves falling from our pretend tree.

b. Also at the beginning of Fall, we found a special tree and took a picture of my daughter standing below it to watch how the leaves change color and eventually fall from the tree.

c. We also loved watching the squrriels find their nuts and bury them for Winter.

d. We also collected and talked about the different types of nuts.

2. Pumpkins and Halloween

a. I found Size Order Mats idea from http://www.prekinders.com/halloween.htm (which is one of my favorite websites for ideas). Instead of cookie cutters we used paper pumpkin cut-outs.
My daughter and cut out several different sizes of pumpkins and then she put them in order (smallest-largest and largest-smallest).

b. Trip to the Pumpkin Patch
This is always a highlight as there is so much to learn about how pumpkins grow, sizes, etc. If you live near Portland Oregon, this is our favorite patch: http://thelakeviewfarms.com/pumpkinpatch.html

3. Some other great ideas found on these websites:

Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Elhert
How Many Pumpkin Seeds in a Pumpkin by Margaret McNamara
Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Edward R Emberle

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Past Activites/book recommendations- Winter

I realize that I started my blog with a post regarding my almost three year old, but the past two and a half years have been filled with many books and activities that I've learned through family, friends and the internet. We tried many different books/activities with successes and disappointments but I thought that I would highlight, by season, the most enjoyable for both child and mommy/daddy.

Winter Activities and Books (I will start with this since it is fresh in my mind):

1. Discovering Ice - (This was a HIT and we continued to play with ice for several weeks)

a. Talk to your child about what happens when water becomes cold. Then, simply, have your child fill up a container and place in the freezer. The next day, show your child the ice and explain why it happens and what you can do with ice. For example, my daughter loves playing with the Little People by Fischer Price, so I had her gather all the little people for a day of ice-skating on the ice we made for them. Again, an absolute hit!!
b. Also, explain why ice melts. We let our container of ice sit on the counter all day, periodically checking on how fast the ice was melting. We also added some salt to the ice to make it melt faster.

2. Learning about Winter
We drew a life-size snowman on a long piece of paper, tracing my daughter's hands and feet for the snowman's hands and feet. Then we added everything related to Winter around the snowman. Some of the ideas that we had were to either draw a picture, use stickers or cut-outs from magazines related to the cold weather, darker days, Christmas, Santa, snow, ice (of course), hockey, sledding, skiing, etc. We then hung it up in her room to remind her that we are in the season of Winter (we also did this for the other seasons, as you will see in other posts).

3. Making Gingerbread houses- An all-time favorite!

4. Christmas Tree - Learning our shapes
We cut out a triangle for the tree, a square for the trunk, and a star for the top of the tree. Next we used every shape for different ornaments. This is a great way to practice learning shapes!

5. Nature Walks
Through the seasons, we have taken walks and looked at what happens to the plants, trees and animals. Since it is Winter, we noticed that the trees didn't have any leaves, flowers were not in bloom and squirrels were looking for the nuts they buried during the Fall. We also played in snow and marveled at the wonder of a pond turning to ice.

We, of course, decorated many snowmen, ornaments, and mittens that were displayed proudly around our home.

Winter Books that we have enjoyed:
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
The Story of Christmas by Patricia A. Pingry
The Christmas Tree by Dawn Sirett (this has a real ornament at the end the kids can put on the tree)
The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore
The Little Christmas Tree by Samantha Chaffey

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

My almost three year old wants to be a baby again?

During the past couple months, I noticed my sweet little daughter (33 months old) talking about her baby days (as if she is all grown up). She keeps saying things like "remember when I was a baby and didn't have any hair" and "when I was a baby I used to eat books?" She has also become much more attached to her lovies, which consists of a teddy bear, blankies and cute little pink poodle stuffed animal. Her favorite lovie, Teddy bear, has now joined us on all adventures when previously he was left at home.

Well, after talking to some of my friends who have almost three year old's and consulting my favorite parenting books (recommended by my wonderful mother-in-law), Your 3 Year Old; Friend or Enemy by Louise Bates Ames, I realized that this very normal.
To quote the book:
Around 33 months of age, many children go through a stage of reliving their babyhood, of thinking about themselves in terms of their own past. The child may pretend that he is a baby, even going back to the use of baby talk, though some loathe to give up their glorious acquisition of speech. So, a child might say, "I'm a little baby. I can't walk, I have no teeth, I drink from a bottle. But I can talk."
However, by Three, most have caught up with themselves chronologically and are now in the state of equilibrium and of no longer looking back.

With my daughter's obvious interest in "growing up", I started researching books and activities related to the subject. Here are the books that she really, really enjoys about the topic of growing:
1. I'm Growing by Aliki
2. All by Myself by Aliki

As for activities, here are some of the ones she really enjoyed (believe me I tried several activities that she did NOT enjoy):
1. Create a book.
Find pictures of your little one at every stage starting at birth and have your child write down all the differences in her body, look, etc. Find pictures of your child during different activities that h/she can do now vs. baby (climb up stairs, slide down slides, run, dance, etc.) Essentially, creating a "I'm growing" story of your child.
2. Growth Chart
Chart her growth (height and weight) from birth to current age.
3. Seasonal activity
Create a collage using past and present pictures of your child during the Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer. This will show what a difference a year makes while growing.
4. Flower/Plant growing
We received something similar to a Nyokki monkey for Christmas and this was a great way of showing how something keeps growing. One concept in the I'm Growing book by Aliki is that eventually we stop growing but hair and nails always grow. So, if you choose to do this activity, have your child cut the "monkey's hair" and then watch it grow back...just like our hair!