Monday, April 30, 2012

Z is for ZZZZZZZZZZ...gar when do I get to sleep again??? *wimper*

Sure, this little gem of a book is irreverent. My mother soooo doesn't think it's funny. I saw it in the bookstore and cried immediately (I needed this book, as I was so tired) and then I laughed...and, then I felt guilty for laughing and then I laughed at myself...and, then the people in the bookstore thought I was going insane (I could tell from their stares).

I didn't realize that this sleep thing would so become exactly as it is in the book...now, I have a toddler...she never sleeps and she walks and she talks and she demands things late at night when she should be sleeping and this book sings to my soul; even with all of the cussing...not that I would EVER cuss that much SERIOUSLY! Does anybody cuss that much? I think that's what makes the book so funny...it's sooo over the top.


From Goodreads:

Go the F*** to Sleep is a bedtime book for parents who live in the real world, where a few snoozing kitties and cutesy rhymes don't always send a toddler sailing blissfully off to dreamland. Profane, affectionate, and radically honest, California Book Award-winning author Adam Mansbach's verses perfectly capture the familiar—and unspoken—tribulations of putting your little angel down for the night. In the process, they open up a conversation about parenting, granting us permission to admit our frustrations, and laugh at their absurdity.
With illustrations by Ricardo Cortes, Go the F*** to Sleep is beautiful, subversive, and pants-wettingly funny—a book for parents new, old, and expectant. You probably should not read it to your children.

[Listen to Samuel L. Jackson read this book and say the F-word a whole lot]

Or, you can watch it...

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Y is for Yakkity Yak Yak Yak Yak Yak

From the second she wakes up ("Mommy, I need something to eat.") to the second she goes to bed ("I don't want to go to sleep. Don't say that!") my daughter's mouth does not close.

I suppose this isn't a bad thing, but she was so much easier to control before she became verbal. Please, don't laugh at this simple and logical response.

So, I've been reading this book...I say 'reading' because I haven't really read it all the way through. If you'll recall from "G", I actually hate books like this, but it is my go-to resource at the moment...I suppose it's because I feel like I've been especially snippy lately.

What I've learned
  1. I was right...talking to kids like they're people (and, not babies) really does go a long way.
  2. You can never encourage your kid enough.
  3. These tips and tricks (yes, some of them really are tricks...) are a lot like those concepts I learned about in my adolescent child methods courses...wow, becoming a teacher really does pay off.
  4. I do not like filling out workbooks, it makes me feel like I'm in school...I'd rather just talk about it.
  5. If you give your kid time (which usually means putting off your thing and paying attention to theirs) your kid will respect you.
  6. This perfect world, doesn't always happen...so, be willing to say you're sorry and mean it. It always goes a long way.
  7. I enjoy talking to my daughter.
Here's a lovely little chart detailing the whole thing
Article about the book, plus mind map

Some interesting articles
How to talk to Preschoolers about sex
How to talk to Preschoolers about death
25 Ways to Talk So Children Will Listen

Other books that are in the back of my mind at all times
Cinderella Ate My Daughter
Queen Bees and Wannabes

Friday, April 27, 2012

X is for Xanadu










xan·a·du
Noun:
Used to convey an impression of a place as almost unattainably luxurious or beautiful.









Thursday, April 26, 2012

W is for Works of Art

Below you will find the 10 works of art that I want my daughter to see in person.










"The Starry Night"
Vincent Van Gogh
MOMA, NYC





"Rain, Steam and Speed"
J. M. W. Turner
The National Gallery, London






"A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte" 
George Seurat
The Art Institute of Chicago








"Convergence"
Jackson Pollock
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY








Frank Lloyd Wright Estate
Frank Lloyd Wright
Oak Park, IL





"The Kiss"
Gustave Klimt 
Osterreichische Galerie Belvedere, Belvedere Palace, Vienna










"The Old Guitarist"
Pablo Picasso
The Art Institute of Chicago














Murals
Thomas Hart Benton
Missouri State Capitol, Jefferson City, MO

"The Problem We All Live With" (Ruby Bridges)
Norman Rockwell
The Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, MA

"Migrant Mother"
Dorothea Lange
Oakland Museum of California


What works of art do you suggest she see?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V is for Varmint

Feeding and taking care of pets when you have a toddler, is a pain in the tootie. Lila wants us to get a horse and a squirrel and a dog or two or five. She wants to own anything furry.

We have three outside cats. These are cats that I had before we got married and they are now older and pretty low maintenance and boys, and, well, they live outside, so they're pretty rough and tumble and will let you pet them and such, but pretty much leave us alone. They are cats that act like cats.

Last summer my friend was giving away a litter of kitties. We took one. She lives in the house. She is sweet and kind and gentle, and under foot at all times. Not like a cat at all--at least any cat I've previously had, and Chris agrees. For every instance that we get annoyed with her, Lila finds something to love about her.

Hester hiding underneath a princess pillow
And, while, I find this new addition to our home a bit irritating (I change the litter box, I feed the cat...I'm sure I'll be the one to take her to the vet and pay to get her fixed this summer), I get what a friend of ours says, "That cat is the most gentle cat." He was looking at Lila caring the cat around by the neck and tail. The cat wasn't fussing or clawing or scratching at all. Frankly, that cat (you can read more about her here and here) is a very sweet kitty. Our friend gently pulled the cat from Lila's clutches. "Feel how fast her heart is beating and she didn't even try to get free. You have to keep her."

Yes, we have to keep this cat that doesn't act like a cat at all, our tiny tot just adores her.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U is for Uniqua and other cartoon characters

My kidlet watches a lot of television (Wow! as I type this I feel like such a bad parent), but she does. Actually, we watch a lot of television, and actually, we watch a lot of kid television. The thing is she has also learned a lot...the ABCs and colors and shapes before she was two and now counting and adding...

Here are some of her favorites:



And,

These last two are all her father...last Saturday in Target she was singing "Spiderman, Spiderman..."


I hear "Team Umizoomi" is pretty good...hmmm...do we have time?

Monday, April 23, 2012

T is for Trips

Lila Jane has been on many trips in her lifetime.


We've gone to...

  • The Rocky Mountain National Park...Estes Park and Denver.
  • We've gone swimming in...the ocean, various rivers, creeks and lakes.
  • Washington DC (The Smithonian, The Capitol) and to visit family in MD. The first time she was on a plane she was 5 mos. old and we were going to DC to visit family.
  • Dutch Wonderland in PA.
  • Kansas City...to visit family.
  • Chicago (The Art Institute, The Natural History Museum).
  • St. Louis...to visit friends.
  • Various places nearby...Ha-Ha Tonka, Mark Twain National Forest, The Cave Restaurant...I really need to take her to my hometown.
She's also a really great traveler. She sings nursery songs or songs she makes up or songs we find on the radio, she plays with the drawing pad, she sleeps. We take it slow and stop every so often or we bring lots of adventures to keep her busy on the plane/train/in the car.


I can't wait until she's older and the real adventures begin! I can't wait to take my kiddo overseas! I want my kid to see the world and I want to go on cheesy family adventures for the rest of our lives!

10 Places Every Kid Should See
If we start next summer that's one a year until she's 13, about the age we become 'uncool'.

[Source]
And, here are our Summer Travel Plans


End of May 
Go visit my family in DC. My sister calls it their Annual Family Party, and eventually all of her family (her in-laws and all of us) are there and there's a BBQ and the Blues Festival and all sorts of DC fun! Lila and I are flying out early to have a chill weekend with my mother, sister, brother-in-law and 3 year old niece.

Colorado
I like that this is becoming a summer tradition. I'm hoping we can stay longer than we did last year as my friends just bought a home.

Flitting about Missouri
We like to go visit my St. Louis friends, my aunt in Cabool, my in-laws in KC and at the Lake of the Ozarks.

Texas
I have family and friends in Texas who have never met my kidlet (I know I'm a horrible person)...we have been making plans to remedied this!

So, what are your summer plans? Have any plans with some kiddos?


Saturday, April 21, 2012

S is for Singing...as in we love ourselves some music!

My friend Becky, the same one who had the idea for the topic for my A to Z, had a wonderful topic for the letter 'M', however, I already had an 'M'...I've moved it to 'S'. Here's what she said would be a good topic:
"Music you really have liked throughout the last 15 years and ones you think you would want to share with Lila. Everytime I listen to my U2 I think of you. Maybe you could share a few songs that happened during certain times in your life and what challenges you overcame at that time, or what the song meant to you...Or your first song you and Chris both liked, as well as Lila's first song."
And, here are my thoughts...

I can chart my life by music. I didn't realize how nostalgic this made me until I got old enough to have life moments worth remembering. Benny Goodman, Cliff Richards and "The Grease" soundtrack remind of weekends at my grandparents house. "Dreams" by Fleetwood Mac reminds me of the moment I realized I loved this boy in high school; that song also reminds me of the huge fight we had that damaged our friendship. If I want to remember significant high school moments I just pop in the "Boomerang" soundtrack or listen to a little NKOTB or Ace of Base. Yesterday I was just talking about slow dancing to "November Rain". I can chart every moment of my college career by song; DC Talk and Jars of Clay, "The Reality Bites" soundtrack, Oasis, Tim McGraw, "Dare to Care" concerts and Mazzy Starr. I remember sitting in the living room of a house I shared with friends talking and listening to Sheryl Crow's, "If It Makes You Happy"...I remember this moment like it was yesterday...my cat Winnie is at my feet and the smell of a cake we just baked is wafting from the blue walled kitchen. I knew that Chris and I would get along just fine when we spent a night listening to music and talking about our memories we pretty much went through our own personal catalogs of music and events. I knew that our relationship was perfect, when we bought tickets for the opening U2 show in Chicago.

The thing is I think that every single moment of life is wonderful and marvelous. I think that they should not be forgotten.

It just makes sense that I would chart our lives with Lila in the same manner. For my personal baby-shower I made the following compilation for each guest. I wanted a list of songs that I enjoyed that were all about raising and loving little girls. We also had U2's "Vertigo Tour" DVD playing in the background.

Baby Girl CD

Sugar, Sugar The Archies                      
Gracie Ben Folds Five                 
She's Gotta Way Billy Joel                             
Where You Lead I Will Follow Carole King and Louise Gaffin                   
Never Grow Old The Cranberries                              
It Won't Be Like This for Long  Darius Rucker                  
Sweet Child O' Mine Guns and Roses                              
Amazing Janelle                
Intelligentactile 101 Jesca Hoop                       
Little Miss Magic Jimmy Buffet                   
There Goes My Life Kenny Chesney                              
Time of Your Life Little Steven                     
In My Daughter's Eyes Martina McBride                            
Seven Years Norah Jones                     
Songbird Oasis                   
Little Wonders Rob Thomas                     
Pretty Dress Rosie Thomas                  
My Little Girl Tim McGraw                    
Original of the Species U2                        
My Darling Wilco     

The other day I came home from being away for the whole weekend, Chris and Lila were just vegging on the couch watching the waving PS3 screensaver listening to Pink Floyd. One time in the not to distant past, Chris came home and we were watching the videos and dancing around to:

"Dog Days" by Florence + the Machine

"1, 2, 3, 4" by Fiest

For the most part, however, on her own Lila has pretty chees-tastic taste...I can only assume that all 2 year-olds are like this and would prefer:

Elmo and India Arie singing the ABCs

"10 Little Numbers"...and, if you sing it "10 Little Indians" she will freak!

Chris and I are both lovers of music and from an early age we have instilled that love into our daughter.
At 7-months she would hum along to:

"From Where I'm Standing" by Schulyer Fisk in the movie I Am Reed Fish

Music she likes and will seek out
Pop music, every kid goes through this phase and I can jam out to Justin Bieber, "High School Musical" and Selena Gomez right along with her..."I love you like a love song, baby"...try getting that out of your head.
The first song she every sang the words to was:

"Rhythm of Love" by The Plain White Ts...we just call this the Ba-Ba Song

The thing is our musical taste have seeped into her everyday thoughts. I know that my kiddo will have no choice but to like U2 and Coldplay and Michael Jackson, just as I know that I have no choice about liking Elvis and Abba and Michael Jackson. This is the kind of music that I grew up with and I have wonderful memories associated with every song. I hope that when Lila Jane turns 35 she can say the same.

For more about my life in music, check out my 30 Day Song Challenge.

"Music & Me"
Michael Jackson


We've been together for such a long time now
Music, music and me
Don't care whether all our songs rhyme
Now music, music and me

Only know wherever I go
We're as close as two friends can be
There have been others
But never two lovers
Like music, music and me

Grab a song and come along
You can sing your melody
In your mind you will find
A world of sweet harmony

Birds of a feather we'll fly together
Now music, music and me
Music and me

Friday, April 20, 2012

R is for Riding in the Car or Road Trip Prep

Feel free to hum "Born to Be Wild" as you read...imagine toddlers on Harleys, sippy cups secure in their fringed leather jackets.

How To Prepare For A Road Trip

What We Bring for Her
1] Snacks (it seems that no matter how many times we stop being in the car makes her hungry) such as fruit snacks, crackers, Cheerios and raisins. And, water to drink...
2] Books, I've noticed something about our kidlet. She does not get car-sick and can read or play games or draw in the back seat. I am jealous. I can't do that even in the front seat. Read all about some of our favorites here.
3] Layers in the form of jackets, sweaters, blankets. We've used layers to block the sun from a spot that just couldn't be covered any other way. Sometimes the air is too cold, but we like it that way in the front...so many ways to use layers.
4] The Nook, read all about what she does with it here.
5] Toys...of the squishy, noiseless variety. Pillow Pets, while expensive are AWESOME for this. She has two; a big purple unicorn and a tiny Dora (yes, Dora the Explorer) one, complete with a Backpack that works. This is the strangest looking chimera/Sphinx thingy, but it was the best Christmas gift from her Great-Uncle.

What We Bring for Us
1] Patience...lots of patients
2] Time...see #1 of this list if you have a hard time understanding how it might work on a road trip.
3] Strategies, for instance, we like to leave around nap-time if it's going to be a long trip...something about the car just makes her sleep and sleep...and, sleep. Or, I'll sit in the back if she needs someone to talk to...I mean it has to get lonely back there, right!?
What we do when she finds a pen
and writes on herself and then falls asleep
so we don't know about it
until we stop to get gas?
Take a picture of course!
4] "Fun Parent Mode" as in cheesey Mom and Pop time...yes, there's singing...yes, there are road games (which are so much cooler now that she knows her shapes and colors)
5] Music that is kid-friendly (just so you know some classic rock can be clean and sound cool and entertaining to a 2-year old), but doesn't drive us crazy. God Bless MP3 players!!! We also understand that there are songs (namely by Justin Bieber...how did she even find him?) that we'll have to listen to more than once...

What We Do When...
1] She has to go to the bathroom?...we stop, of course, each time...
2] She gets fussy in her car seat?...we stop at a rest-stop or a park and we don't get back into the car until she's ready (about 15 minutes).
3] There's bad weather? We wait...safety first!

And, oh my gosh, when Road Trippin' with your tiny one know that they rule the road, and if you are trying to make it somewhere in record time that's not going to happen! It's just easier that way.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q is for Quiet Time

After Lila Jane turned two, I'd swear it was seconds after, things began to change...

1] she threw tantrums in stores
2] she was no longer sweet in restaurants
3] she said, "No" and meant it

the most important change...

4] she stopped napping on the weekends or worse, she napped really late and then stayed up really late, and then got up early...argh!

I had to implement something...

We don't really have a formal time for 'quiet time', but it usually happens right when we get home before Chris gets home. I set her down at the table for a snack, pop in a movie or a show from Netflix, get out the drawing pad and crayons or play songs on Youtube and I do something that I need to do. Of course, 'need' is a loose term, as sometimes I just need to finish a book or I need to watch an episode of The X-Files. Most of the time I use that 30 minutes to do a load of dishes or laundry or to grade. It just depends on what tasks I finished on Daddy/Daughter Date Night.

I'd like to say that I've got a handle on this, but I really don't. On weeks that my work is stressful those are the times when I have neither the energy nor the patience for shenanigans and it seems that quiet time doesn't work. It's then that I put my stuff aside (grading and dishes can wait) and hang out with my kid...that always works.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P is for Princess

I have two confessions to make...

1] Even after reading Cinderella Ate My Daughter, I don't mind the whole Disney Princess phenomenon.

2] I love pink and dainty girl things. 

Each year the three of us received Barbies for Christmas. However, we didn't grow-up with bad body images. I think this was because our mother always told us we were beautiful. Heck, she still does. I was raised on "Cinderella" and "Sleeping Beauty". I remember when "The Little Mermaid" came out and watched "Beauty and the Beast" in the theatre. These facts did not distort my sense of reality or help me make poor choices later in life. I do believe that being enveloped in all things 'girl' and still watching shows like "The Six Million Dollar Man" and owning a large set (that I wish I still had, boy, would I be in the money!) of Matchbox cars made me the well-rounded woman I am today. I was always being told to do my best and I was never told that my dreams were impossible.

Now, let's look at those Princessess...I mean really and let's not look at them with the jaded eyes of adulthood, but in the way little girls do...


Each and every little girl that wants to be a princess can find within our Disney heroines such traits as thoughtfulness, caring, friendship, bravery, sweetness. I think it's OK that they learn these aspects of character from girls who sing to mice and worry about what they will wear to the ball. Do I like that every princess has a waist the size of a thimble? Do I like that each princess finds her prince in the end to create that 'happily ever after'? Do I like that the princesses that get the most face time are blonde? Sometimes I find these very traits quite irksome, but then I remember what I thought of the princesses when I was a kid.

I can tell you that I never noticed that:

1] in 1984 (when I was 8) that the majority of the princesses were white, or blonde.
2] those princesses weighed less than I did.
3] Disney princesses live, impossible 'fairytale' (duh!) lives.
4] the villians were always dark or alone or obese.
5] they only found worth by being noticed by their 'prince'.

I just sang the songs while playing outside in the yard.

Growing up with Barbies, Disney Princesses and other girlie stuff doesn't make little girls turn into selfish prosti-tots...it's how we, the grown-ups, present those things that determines that.

I know this to be true.

I know that I can use the Disney princesses to teach my daughter about:

1] being herself
2] standing her ground
3] altruism
4] the power of family
5] the power of friendship
6] sacrifice
7] determination
8] facing adversity
9] understanding her strengths and weaknesses
10] respecting her differences and the differences of others

Now, I can spend a large part of my time getting all worked up over the sexualization of toddlers brought about by these gals and I can go on and on about the fact that Disney is being used to sell everything including veggies or I can combat all of that by using my time to teach my daughter to have her own self-worth and how to be self-reliant and then I can let her go play in the yard in her Princess tiara and dress up gown.

I'm learning that the latter bit is a lot more fun to a two-year old.

Check out this blog post. It list six (we own three) amazing princess books...and, they aren't Disney at all!
Or, read this article titled The Lessons of the Disney Princesses...hmmm, she list wayyy more than I do!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O is for O.S.C.A.R. and other processed foods we eat at our house

A Masterpiece
Ok, so, um...Lila will eat anything...all sorts of fruits and vegetables (even Brussel Sprouts), so we can eat healthy easy at our house, and we do often, really. We have our fair share of strawberries and bananas and celery and delicious grains.

However, *enter dark cloud* we don't always want to eat healthy...sometimes *thunder and lightening* we like to eat like, well, like I did growing up. We love the processed food...McNuggets and Mickie D's pies and Spam and Chef Boyardi's Ravioli and Spagettios and fruit snacks and potted meat and Little Debbie's and Cheetos and cheese puffs and Pop Tarts and French toast sticks and sausage and pancake dogs and hot dogs and corn dogs and Deviled Ham and Vienna sausages and Cap'n Crunch and Fruit Loops and Velveeta and bologna. We deep fry those burritos you can get in packages of 10. Yes, we deep fry them. We love prepackaged foods...pickles and sandwiches from gas stations or vending machines. We love ketchup and mayo and brown gravy from a package and Cool whip and cheese sauce. We love food products. We especially like our food products to come in a can. We think it's cool when they can be squeezed out of a tube. We love those little pot pies that you can get in your grocers freezer for $.49. We like to eat most of this with white bread and we like to chase all of this down with a large glass of kool-aide or chocolate milk, the fat kind.

Hey, it's OK, don't worry about us, we always have our processed food with a side of broccoli... sometimes we hold the cheese.

Chef and restaurateur, Alain Ducasse, said in Time magazine, "...I think we can understand a society better once we have tasted its popular food. I enjoy hot dogs. They're an exceptional kind of street food." I feel somehow vindicated. Just so you know, all of this talk is making me hungry and nostalgic for a time when eating all of these kinds of food didn't matter. I think that the world was happier then.

Monday, April 16, 2012

N is for Nook

Nook as in Nook Tablet. Nook Tablet as in the most awesome invention ever...how did we entertain children before the advent of this device? Beats me!

Here's what we use it for:

Alphabet
ABC Owl: Preschool...goes through the whole alphabet, matching the letter to the objects, it has lots of sounds (repeats every letter and will say the name of any object) and I thought Lila would get bored, as it is the same every time, but she hasn't...yet


Fine Arts
Drawing Pad...she likes this app soooo much that she actually calls the Nook the Drawing Pad
Piano for Kids...like those little keyboards in the 80s, you can change it to animals, piano, guitar and each key is labeled (Do, Re, Mi and so on) and in the colors of the rainbow, it also plays background music
Sounds for Kids...in the beginning this was cool as it was instrument, zoo, wild and farm animal sounds, nature sounds and transportation sounds...then Lila learned them all, so...


Games
Bubble Birds...kind of hard for her to do, but she does like matching the birds and she likes the sounds
Music
Cupcake Yum...make cupcakes and decorate and eat them
Dress the Cat...there are several "Dress the..." games, but she chose this one. Dress the cat, choose a background, animate it, repeat until your mother takes the Nook away
Matching Zoo...matching with zoo animals, kind of hard for Lila at first, but she's getting better
Shape Builder...which is just about 50 interactive puzzles, there's a free version of this, but it's only about 7 puzzles

Numbers
Five Little Monkeys...singing (three different versions: country, rock, pop) and then interactive, you can make the monkeys reappear, open doors, windows, play with toys...and, you can make the monkeys 'go' and 'stop'

Reading...lots of reading...
The Animal ABCs...a book with letters and pictures to go with the letters, lots more fun now that she knows some of her letters and lots of the objects in the book...this book does not read to you
Biscuit...cute little story about a little dog that gets into puppy trouble
The Monster at the end of this Book...Grover actually reads this book, VERY AWESOME if you are like me and remember this book from wayyyyy back
Digger the Dinosaur...cute story about a little dinosaur
Cowboy Camp...adorable with fun pictures and I think Avery is an excellent name for a cowboy!
The Little Mermaid...um, it's Disney's The Little Mermaid...I love it!
Maggie and the Trouble Monkeys...not a story that reads to you, cute
The Smurfs...awesome just like the movie, GREAT narration!
The Island of Bum Bum Baloo...fun to read or listen to, who doesn't like alliteration
Tangled...sigh, we love this...it's just like the movie
Fun Facts About Pets...cool facts about all sorts of animals, that's how we learned all about bunny binkies, who knew?
The Elephant's Child: How the Elephant Got His Trunk...cute story by Rudyard Kipling, magical narration and we quote this book often, "And, the elephant did exactly that!"
Axel the Truck...great truck and engine sounds, nice message
Bible Stories...short, great for night reading, lovely pictures, all the major Bible stories
Greatest Fairy Tales of All Time...25 classic fairy tales, no pictures, but classic fairy tales don't need pictures, they need interaction and imagination

All of the apps were either free or $.99 to a $1.99 when I purchased them. The stories like The Smurfs, Monster, and Disney books, which were like $2.99-$4.99, but so worth it, they have background sounds from the movie or show, we read them a lot or she just sits and listens to them or talks along with them! The other books were free or $.99.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

M is for Movies

Facts about toddlers, preschoolers and the cinema.
Perfect Age: a little over 2 seems to work very well for us, although some parent websites says as late as 5, I have some friends who took their kid to the theatre when he was a little over 1...I'm not sure if I consider that brave, desperate or crazy.
When to watch: because we don't want to be rude parents, we always choose the first showing of the day...the earliest one...the one no teenager would ever go to...the one in which no dates will occur. I remember being 22 on a Friday night and parents would bring their kids to the movie. Heck, we were watching The Dark Knight at midnight and there was a baby...gar...I won't talk about the parenting skills, or lack thereof on that one, but honestly rudeness people, rudeness!
Preparation: Three adults per kid seems to work pretty well. Your kid can then go from lap to lap, snack to snack and you can situate it in such a way that 2 people are blocking the escape. Lila doesn't weigh enough to keep a seat down so I spent a lot of time pushing her back to the very back of the seat for balance and/or holding the seat down on the edge. We also watch some movies in the dark at home with surround sound.

What movies have we watched in the theatre?


We watched this in 3D.
She really liked the opening sequence with the castle.
"Mommy, did you see that? Wow!" I'll never forget it.
There's a whole cast song at the beginning and end that are just fabulous.
She now calls her tricycle her Lorax bike.

What kind of movies should you watch with your toddler?
Um, I'm only going by what I read on the interwebs and what I know to be true for my 2-year old girl. Take it for what you will. If there isn't action or music or dancing Lila gets bored and I mean crying, fussy "I want to go home now"...The Lorax is not as fast-paced as Beauty and the Beast...just so you know...

1] any movie you hype up (I can't tell you how many times we watched The Lorax trailer)
2] light-hearted movies
3] cartoons and singing over live-action
4] it seems that after 60 minutes...we're minutes away from total baby meltdown...thank goodness there was a song towards the end of The Lorax because Lila was getting bored.
5] know what scares your kiddo...I didn't think Lila Jane would like The Nightmare Before Christmas, but she really likes Sally and Jack and the music...it's kind of weird. This doesn't mean, I'm going to take her to Frankenweenie...dead pet that comes back to life like Frankenstein??? I don't think she'll like that at all!

What movies are Lila Jane's favorites?
Any with singing or animals of course! The Nightmare Before Christmas, Tangled, Aladdin, Puss in Boots (she doesn't really watch all of the last one, but she loves the kittens and the cat dancing at the G-litter Box and she loves Kitty Soft Paws, the other three she will sing to and we'll even do the actions sometimes!)

Article: Movies with Toddlers from What to Expect

Friday, April 13, 2012

L is for Love

All of this talk of my preschooler and my love for her has brought me to a very important topic my love for Christopher and how hard it is to nurture that love when you've got a 2 year old around. For the last month-ish we've been working on that as a couple...

First, we've been reading the books For Men Only and For Women Only...I talk a little bit about that here.

And, I've been working on devising a year's worth of dates...

Chris likes playing games so there will be a lot of fun in pulling a date idea out of a basket or jar. I have many, many, many baskets just lying around and Date Night in a Jar by Life in the Green House gives such broad but entertaining topics, all of which are color coordinated in groups.

Examples include expensive, as in let's go out and spend some time and money dates:

  • Dinner at a fancy restaurant
  • Hotel stay for the night
  • Concert and dinner (his choice)
  • Concert and dinner (my choice)
  • Weekend away
Inexpensive dates:
  • Dinner and a movie (my choice and his choice)
  • Laser tag and go carts
  • Mexican night 
  • Dessert only date
  • Coffee Date

And,  let's stay at home dates (for us that would require a babysitter, who will take the kiddo with them to their home):

  • Takeout and board games
  • 1,000 piece puzzle and pizza (he would like this one, I would just die...painfully)
  • Football game and nachos
  • Popcorn and a chick-flick
  • Make a dessert together
  • THE MENTALIST marathon
  • Homemade pizzas and an Italian movie

Chris and Stephanie sitting in a tree...
Finding Joy in the Journey's Let's Go on a Date are 12 dates neatly packaged and prepared. Love Actually: Creative Ideas for Romance On A Budget has so many wonderful ideas that I haven't even gotten to them all yet, however, they are wonderfully categorized under "Ideas". The topics are: Date Night, Day to Day Romance, Lovey Dovey Gifts, "Heart"y Foods, Romantic Home Decor, Holidays, Loving From A Distance, Students in Relationships, Couples Group Dates, Married with Kids.

I may document these I may not...some things are just better without pictures.

Final analysis: Lots of date ideas with the time and the means to have at least one a month as a gift when Chris will least expect them...the month of June.

Here's where I've been inspired and where I've gotten my ideas
  1. Date Night in a Jar
  2. Let's Go On a Date
  3. Love Actually...so many good ideas so little time

Thursday, April 12, 2012

K is for Kindie


Kindie: Kid-friendly Indie Rock

From Wikipedia:
Kindie rock is a style of children's music that "melds the sensibility of the singer-songwriter with themes aimed at kids under 10." Many popular kindie rock artists first gained fame as adult performers: these include Dan Zanes and They Might Be Giants. Other well-known kindie rock artists started directly in the genre, or did not achieve commercial success until moving in that direction: such artists include Laurie Berkner, Recess Monkey, and Tim and the Space Cadets. Children's music veterans, Greg & Steve and Bobby Susser introduced various forms of kindie rock to the school supply industry in the mid 70s, and continue to do so, within their repertoire. Cornering the market on kid-hop by blending hip-hop rhymes with imaginative storytelling is Secret Agent 23 Skidoo.
One time while I was pregnant I was rummaging through Barnes and Nobles kid music section. I understand and appreciate all that rock music set to lullabies and I get Kidz Bop and enjoy Raffi and Steve Songs.  I was looking for music that I would enjoy and that wasn't sooooooooo you know kid (annoying)-centric. Thumbing through the music, I found our favorite family band The Jimmies and I learned all about Kindie by going to their website and then Googling the term. Of course, being the music lover I am I became addicted, ergo Lila became addicted. We enjoy Mother Goose songs and all of that, but Kindie rock ensures that both parents and children are having a good time.

We enjoy:
They Might Be Giants
Greg and Steve
Medeski, Martin and Wood
The Not-Its

But...
The Jimmies are our favoritest in the whole wide world!



Parents! Are You Ready for Kindie Rock? Time Magazine article

What can I say we're trend-setting Midwestern parents!?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J is for Journaling

I am and have always been a personal historian. I have especially enjoyed collecting and chronicling Lila's life and my short (read more details under G) pregnancy.

Here are three top-notch books:

1] The New Parents' Fun Book: Laugh Yourself Silly Through Baby's First Year
Plusses: Fun games like Just Super (what super power do you wish your baby possessed?), a curse word cross-word puzzle (ie. words you'll never get to say again) and lists like Mommy's favorite, Menu Madness, and stickers to make a puppet show, put on the butt of diapers and label all the things that are yours.
Minuses: some of the things in the book are just impossible to do like adding a picture of your first date, your reaction to the hospital bill or the birthing process and, I didn't really want to use the stickers as I would have to tear pages out of the book (I know I'm a sicko).

2] Butterflies and Hiccups: A Guided Pregnancy Journal
Plusses: They were talking about this book on the Today Show or something like that and I liked the questions in it. There are sections in this book that have to be answered after the baby is born and you bring him/her home and questions that address what happened when you bring the baby home. There are sections for pictures and thoughts from your partner are also encouraged.
Minuses: While I enjoyed this book immensely and understand that most people like to journal the month by month pregnancy experience the same questions over and over could get tiring. And, I also thought this book was going to be less of that and more of the broad journaling questions, at least that's what was highlighted during the interview about it. I do wish there was a pregnancy journal out there that was just questions about it that could be answered instead of a day by or month by date Q and A...hmmm, maybe when I get the time I'll write one.  Time to write a book? *chuckle, chuckle*

3] Baby's First Book
Plusses: First, that isn't a big title on the front, it's actually a big sticker that comes off quite easily. I love this book. It was great and rewarding (especially for those of us--me--who like to have goals) at the end of every month, as I added pictures and answered questions that pertained to that particular month of Lila's life. We still look at this book, as Lila likes to hear stories about herself and there are pictures, lots of pictures, of her and things she likes and I can read to her all about things that I remember and those memories become her memories. Sigh. There are also recipes for tiny person friendly foods.
Minuses: I don't really have any minuses. I suppose if you didn't like scrapbooking and journaling this type of book could be daunting.


And, my favorite websites for chronology

Facebook

What I like: I like, no I love the Timeline...it remembers events and such better than I do and, it's so fun to look back on things (frankly, I need to add more stuff to the timeline--summer project)! And, it dates pictures and allows you to share with as many or as few as you'd like. I love the cover picture. I love that you can see, on first glance what I like, what I value, who I am...I even like the ads on the right. I know, I know FB doesn't need somebody advertising for it, but it's like scrapbooking or journaling only it holds more than any book could.

Shutterfly


What I like: While it isn't as user friendly as I would like. It does allow you to pick backgrounds and change the template. Even cooler, it allows you add milestones with comments and pictures. This is cool as these milestones are things I'd like to remember and have pictures for, but wouldn't know where to put them. I also make Shutterfly books. I've made Lila's year one and am working on year two and then I wait for coupons that make the books cheap and have them made.


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