Monday, May 31, 2010

We love shoes!

Is there anything more fun than shoe shopping? Shopping for tiny shoes for tiny feet! But it can also be stressful, especially since they can really eat a hole into your budget. Tiny feet grow so quickly, and little ones are really rough on their shoes. We look for shoes that fit the Nugget's wide feet comfortably, have a very flexible sole, and clean up well, whether they're machine-washable or just easy to wipe down. Here are some of our favorite brands. As always, I am not endorsed or paid in any way for our recommendations, just sharing what we love!

Robeez - The standard leather bootie for prewalkers. They really, truly stay on! We still use them as indoor slippers for the Nugget. We go on a lot of playdates and take our shoes off at the door - I keep a pair in my diaper bag so the Nugget can have his toes protected from stray Legos and his socks protected from wear and tear. You can find them on sale for as low as $17 and regular price is close to $30. I heard that they were just bought by Stride Rite. Cute knock-offs abound as well. We tried a Ministar (by Bobux) pair from Target, and while they were just as cute and stayed on just as well, the elastic wore out a lot faster. I like the idea of these eco-friendly Isabooties, but haven't tried them yet.

Vincent - I get a lot of compliments on these flashy shoes, sized perfectly for wider feet. They are a Swedish brand, and their styles are very unique. They are in EU sizes, which I prefer. I can often find them on sale (they have a huge clearance section year round and often post coupon codes on Cool Mom Picks) either on their actual website or on Amazon (I prefer Amazon because I can get them with Super Saver Shipping for $20-25. In the picture above, the Nugget is modeling Smith.

Pediped - These are my absolute favorites. They can be spendy, topping out around $27-50 per pair. But they are really worth the money. I wouldn't recommend them if your kids' feet grow really quickly, but if the growth has slowed, you'll really get your money's worth. They are EU-sized generously, with a special insole that you can use (included). You order a little big for your child, pop in the insert to snug up the shoes, then remove the insert when the shoes feel a little tight, and voila! - you've gone another half-size up. They last and last, and my favorites are the Jakes - there is a sneaky rubber toe cap (in the same color as the shoe) that keeps my toe-dragging son looking spiffy. Again, I try to get them on Amazon, sometimes discounted, and I save on the shipping. A couple times a year, Pediped has a sale on selected styles to benefit the Make a Wish Foundation - pretty cool. They also have sweet crib shoes that look like real shoes as opposed to booties, but are soft and comfy.

Grammy's favorite is the old stand-by, Stride Rite. I have zero complaints about any of the shoes she's bought for the Nugget there - they always fit well and look cute. He seems to grow out of them quicker than the other brands, but I think it's because they carry the half-sizes, so you really get the best fit. Their selection of wide shoes is somewhat lacking.

We only bought one pair of shoes from Livie and Luca, but oh my word, they were the softest, most buttery-delicious things ever. Their sizes are American, but run very small, so print out their sizing guide from the website before you order. Very sad that the Nugget's feet are too big for another pair from them. If I had a little girl, I'd snap up these Orange London Boots in a second!

My favorite shoe splurge was WoolyBaby. I got the Nugget a pair of slippers here made from upcycled sweaters. Cute, cute, cute!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Getting dressed

If you are parent to an older toddler, you know that getting the young'un dressed is one of the biggest time-sucks of the day. Now that the Nugget is physically capable of getting into his clothing, the biggest challenge is to keep him on task. He's liable to scamper off wearing a single sock. That would work if we were homebodies, but we like to get out and "do", so clothing is not optional. We have a variety of techniques and usually have to rotate them in and out of the routine to keep it fresh and interesting. It's exhausting, but I remind myself that someday he'll be a teenager and I won't get to do this anymore.

1. Bedtime Giraffe helps dress the Nugget. She especially likes to pull on one sock then watch him as he puts on the other.

2. The Nugget gets to choose one element of his outfit, usually a choice between 2 shirts. I pull the bottoms to match. He's much more apt to slip into clothing he's chosen himself. I also try to buy clothing with colors (purple, red, green) and patterns (animals, airplanes, trucks) that he likes. On Sunday, he gets to wear a "Daddy shirt" - golf shirt or button up - which gives him a big thrill.

3. We talk up all the fun things we are going to do as soon as he's dressed.

4. We corner him into a small space so he's less able to go streaking through the quad, into the gymnasium. The tiny bit of hallway between his bedroom and bathroom works well.

5. We make sound effects for each limb he puts through a piece of clothing, like an arm through a sleeve or a foot in a shoe.

6. The Nugget's current favorite game is the most complicated. He'll prompt us by saying, "Mommy sad. Mommy have a tear. There's no arm." I'll pretend to cry that there's no arm in this empty sleeve, then hoot and holler with joy when the arm finally pops through the sleeve! He'll clench his fists and laugh his maniacal laugh. The sequence is repeated for each arm, leg, and his head.

The melon whisperer

The Nugget is pretty interested in bodily functions. He especially wants us to be able to produce them on command. "Daddy wanna yawn/make a burp/sneeze/cough please!" He is overjoyed when we can perform on demand and grief-stricken when we cannot.

We took the Nugget to the Farmers' Market, and he ran to a crate of watermelons, yelling, "Hi wah-wer-melons!" He stroked them lovingly, whispering, "Gentle pats", then gave them each a hug. There's just something about produce that brings out his soft side!

Our little strawberry patch is providing a bounty of berries this year, plenty to share with the squirrels, rabbits, birds, and slugs. Still, even with these garden guests, each of us can still enjoy a handful of untouched berries each evening. The Nugget takes his harvesting duties very seriously and carefully crouches in the dirt to pluck each ripe berry from the patch. He makes overdramatic sound effects when he snaps each berry free, grunting like Monica Seles at Wimbledon.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The boys' section

The Nugget is currently wearing 5T clothing. As an obsessive planner, this means I now must stock his size 6 box, so that when he shoots up Alice-in-Wonderland-style, I can reach into a Rubbermaid bin instead of frantically taking him to Target in high water pants and a crop top shirt. He's also not the most pristine of children, so I try to get him enough clothes that I can change his entire outfit 3 times a day without sweating about our laundry situation.

Unfortunately, size 6 is officially the BOYS' section, which I have been avoiding like the dickens. I know I could have started looking there as early as size 4, but no thank you. I love boys and I love being Mommy to a boy, but the boys' section is freaking me out. Not only are the prices significantly higher, but the clothes just look so....old. I kid you not, crocodiles with blood dripping from their jaws, sk8ter shirts that say stuff in texting code that I can't buy because I have no clue what it means (any teenagers want to help me decode it?), SpongeBob picking his nose, and skulls everywhere. Not the cute smiley skulls, but the Ed Hardy monstrosities with snakes slithering out the eye socket and a dagger plunged through the top, the type you'd expect to see on a pimply teenager, not on a smiling chubby-cheeked 3 year old. Lord help me, I am not ready to see my innocent son in these clothes. I'm feeling depressed about the future of clothes shopping for the boy, and several times I have fled the boys' section in dismay and instead bought something cute and happy and 1/3 the price for Baby Manny.

Don't get me wrong, there are some cute exceptions to the rule, and I have so far acquired shirts featuring a lion, a tiger, a sunbathing lobster, 2 with helicopters (that the Nugget is already salivating over - "Dos hel'copter shirts too big?"), koi fish, and a crab. But instead of being able to pluck these from among many viable options in the toddler section, these were hard-sought after finds. It's like panning for gold.

Anyone have tips on where to find cute, reasonably-priced, age-appropriate boys' clothing?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Product Reviews: Potty Training Supplies

The Nugget's been in the potty learning process for a couple of months now. To me, it feels like the details are pretty mundane, messy, and private, so I won't bother sharing them on the blog (much to the teenage Nugget's relief, I'm sure). Despite most of my friends who talk about it like it's the Holy Grail, I'm trying not to stress out about it too much. I know it's going to happen when he's ready, and it's really his job to figure it out. I'm just here to show him how it's done, and to provide support and supplies. And on that note, I would like to share some unpaid product reviews for the supplies we've tried so far. (The Nugget collects a whole bladder full before he lets loose; if you have a kid who goes a little at a time, your results will vary. That's all I'm going to say about your potty habits, teen Nugget, I promise!)

Our at-home training pants are by Imse Vimse. They are very thick, soft, and comfy. When given a choice, the Nugget always chooses the Imse Vimses. They are basically underpants with extra padding. Though they claim to have a waterproof layer, they do not hold a bladder-full, which is actually what we wanted. That wet feeling is key during potty learning. But they sop up enough that you're left with a small puddle on the floor instead of a lake. These take awhile to dry (I turn all our cloth trainers inside out to help with that), so often I finish drying them on the clothesline now that it's warm outside. We have 5 pairs.

Our on-the-go trainers are by Bummis. These are thinner and have a waterproof outer, much like the Bummis' diaper wraps. They have kind of a puffy look to them and are a little harder for him to pull on and off, but they smooth down just find under clothing. With a bladder-full, you will get a leak usually down one leg, but they contain it fairly well. The Nugget definitely feels the wetness in them as well. However, these are my second-favorites, because when you take them off, that pee that was contained really sloshes out all over the place! But if you are terrified of puddles in the middle of the grocery store, these are a pretty great cloth option. We have 3 pairs.

Next up, regular underpants with a little extra crotch-padding. Hanna Andersson makes a very soft and comfy, snug-fitting version. They are for the kids who can stop themselves at the first dribble, then run themselves to the potty. We have 2 pairs right now, and I plan to buy more.

Our naptime/vacation trainers are Seventh Generation disposables. They are basically just a slightly more eco-friendly pullup because they're chlorine-free. We were continuing to use regular diapers for naps, but the Nugget is notoriously hard to diaper these days, so we caved and bought these for naptime. When he is ready to naptime-potty-learn, we'll probably switch him to the Imse Vimses for nap. I buy these in bulk from to save money. He has no clue that he's gone in these, which aside from cost is a major reason why we don't use these often, but right now I really don't care if he wets while he's sleeping. My goal is to keep him asleep :) We continue to use the Huggies Overnights for bedtime, and good golly, it's a wrestling match to get them on! Is this really the same boy who used to lie quietly on his back on that tiny changing table?!

Because the Nugget is a tall boy, we chose a toilet ring adapter instead of a free-standing pot. (Plus emptying and washing the pot = worse than a diaper.) I was looking for something soft and comfortable, no stiff plastic splash guard that could injure tender little boy parts, without licensed characters (because we don't know if Lil Sib would like the same characters that Nugget likes and I am not buying more potty seats!), heavy-duty, and under $20. We got one for each bathroom.

On the tip of my friend L, we purchased a travel potty as well. The Nugget uses every fiber in his body to flee public restrooms (The strangers! The hand dryers! The auto flush! The tiny coffin-like stalls!), but this can be set up in the back of my car or behind a tree. Am also using it in the backyard until he learns how to hold it for longer periods of time. The waste is contained in a regular gallon-size Ziploc bag until you can find a toilet. No smell, no worry about it sloshing everywhere. There are long stretches between rest stops on the way to Grammy and Grandpa's, and there are several parks we frequent with no public bathrooms, so I have a feeling that this will come in handy post-potty learning as well. It even has compartments for extra bags and board books.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Signs of spring

Spring at our house means fresh-picked strawberries from the garden, peonies from the backyard, more bubble soap than you can shake a wand at, and Woolite for hand-washing the Nugget's swimwear in the kitchen sink (swim diaper, trunks, and rash guard).

Yeah, we can go swimming in May. We broke 90 yesterday.

Spring means up to 5 changes of clothes for the Nugget each day. It means fresh sidewalk chalk drawings, skinned knees, and bandaids.

Spring means laundry on the clothesline, flip-flops, and ordering sunscreen in bulk.

Spring means that Doggie is birthing plenty of hairbabies.

Spring means that I should be constantly sweeping the floors to combat all the sand, dirt, and grit (and hairbabies) that my boys and the dog track into the house but instead I am often shirking my housekeeping duties and out in my lawn chair sipping a diet Coke and watching the boy splash in the pool. Because this is the only spring when he'll be 2 years old.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

I want wear those shoulder straps, Mom

The Nugget has been mixing up his pronouns lately. He'll say "you" when referring to himself instead of I or me. It's kind of cute. For instance:
"Daddy gave you that can."
"Wanna ride your bike, please."

Today he and Daddy got in their swimsuits and set up the kiddy pool in the backyard. The Nugget looked his Daddy up and down and said, "That swimsuit is tight, Dad." As in, tight meaning cool. I don't know where he picked that up (I suspect our sitter who is at least 5 years younger than us and a million times cooler tighter), which makes it all the funnier.

After bathtime, the Nugget looked in the mirror and squealed at about 200 decibels, "I have nipples!", like it was a grand surprise! My side still hurts from laughing.

The Nugget is very attached to his one pair of shortalls. I love overalls on small children, but unfortunately they do not lend themselves well to the Nugget's body type (long torso, shorter legs). We were finally given one pair that fits just right. One of the Nugget's favorite books is Corduroy, you know, about the bear in the green overalls. So he takes much pride and pleasure in wearing "shoulder straps like Core'roy".

The Nugget concerns himself with our hydration. He often suggests to us that, "Mommy/Daddy need a drink of water". It's probably not helping his emerging bossiness, but it's a great reminder, so we usually go with his suggestion.

Instead of saying, "That's yummy," the Nugget says "That's a yum."

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Things I never thought I'd say or do...

Things I did not expect about parenthood:
10. That the sound of toddler pee in the toilet bowl would be more beautiful than an orchestra and more satisfying than a pina colada on the beach.
9. That when my mom friends and I would get together, we'd be able to make it a maximum of 10 minutes before the topic of conversation veered into poop territory.
8. That I would feed my son his vegetables by letting him munch them off my nose.
7. That I would spend hours researching which foods soften or firm stools.
6. That I would Google, "How to change a wild toddler's diaper" after 2 years of successfully managing thousands of diaper changes.
5. That I would keep a lollipop in the glove compartment for emergencies.
4. That I would break into a cold sweat on the days that there is no junk mail for the Nugget to open "by self".
3. That I'd be frequently asked to "Hold it, please," while driving, and upon reaching back to receive the Nugget's gift, it inevitably turns out to be a booger (see #4 on the next list).
2. That I'd take my child out in public with a belt strapped across his chest instead of through his belt loops, just because I ran out of energy for that particular battle.
1. That our son would light up like zillion-watt bulb for the simple pleasure of watching a dog lap up water or observing a coin twirl down a funnel-shaped donation box.

Things I never thought I'd say:
6. Pee-pee is not for drinking.
5. Yes, that's a gentle touch but you can't even give gentle touches in the eyeball.
4. I don't need to hold your boogies, just wipe them on your pants.
3. Do you want to use up all of Mommy's energy just getting dressed or would you like to save some for a trip to the park?
2. Do you want to put on your pants like a flamingo or a brachiosaurus?
1. You need to have underpants on before you sit on the couch.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

No, I am not.

The Nugget likes to answer questions in the negative. "No, I am not." Do you want to play with puzzles? "No, I am not." Do you need to sit on the potty? "No, I am not."

The Nugget is very interested in plurals. Lately, he's taken to singing the alphabet song in plural: "As, Bs, Cs, Ds, Ee-ses, Fs, Gee-ses..." L and M have entirely fallen out of favor and he refuses to mention them.

We are entirely thankful for the use of pretend play. The Nugget is really using his imagination a little more every day. The sight of a motionless digger truck used to cause a full-blown tantrum, "Mommy, moving that digger truck please!", now we hear this monologue:
"That digger truck moving please?'s not moving. Digger truck is resting. Night night, digger truck." In the same line of thought, he used to chase airplanes, trying to board them and would fall down in tears when they went out of view. Now he still runs after spotting one, but with arms outstretched, "I a plane, Mom. I going to Chicago."

The Nugget continues to enjoy his puzzles and given enough time with a 12 piece set, will emerge victorious. I love hearing him mutter to himself, "This piece goes this piece, and this piece goes this, it doesn't fit. Eh, eh, eh (trying to force it in)...not quite."

Bossiness has definitely taken hold, as an inevitable first-born trait. I'm quite sure that in his mind, he is master of the universe, and the rest of us are just living in it. Lately, he'll tell his playmates that they need to sit down and finish their lunches, or that they must climb into his wagon so he can pull them around the yard. We're also starting to teach him to respect his friends' space when they decline one of his hugs. A little sad, because he looks so crestfallen when rejected, but an important early lesson that, "No means no!"

The Nugget continues to be very interested in ASL, and so we keep a couple Signing Time dvds from the library at all times. He picks up new signs quickly, and he will even teach them to Daddy and his friends. "Sign color on chin, then sign write...crayon." He's not fluent by any means, but I love that he's getting this head start on a second language. Both his Tummy Mummy and myself fell in love with ASL when we were children, so it's a meaningful language that connects us.

Speaking of connections, the Nugget's Tummy Mummy just posted a picture of Baby Cupcake in a full giraffe costume, for no particular reason or holiday. Is there any question that we were meant to be family?! (see above)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Birthday Preparation

If you know me in person, you know I'm a planner to the nth degree. It's a sickness really. As the Nugget turns 3 in July (only 2 months - gah!), of course, I'm already planning his party.

My incredible moms' group (found them on Meetup, and seriously I'm not sure how I'd survive all the ups and downs of parenthood without them) does a birthday celebration each month, and we take turns hosting. We're going to host the July party in our backyard, and will just call it the Nugget's birthday party. I'll just set a limit to how many people we can entertain, and I won't have to worry about excluding anyone, because it will be up to the moms to rsvp and fill those slots.

Grammy and Grandpa are planning to drive in, and Hubby will be home too. In lieu of presents, folks will be bringing food to share for a potluck. Late morning through lunch, because that's when toddlers are at their best. I'm hoping for heat and sunshine so we can pull out the kiddy pool and the sprinkler. Bubbles, chalk, rides in the wagon, messy sand and water fun, and kicking balls are a given. I am so thankful that our boy has a summer birthday. It's such a treat for me to be able to turn the Nugget and his friends loose in our yard!

I'll be paying homage to the Nugget's airplane obsession:
1. He'll get to wear this shirt, yes the purple version, because he loves purple.
2. Handing out these sweet wooden airplanes for favors.
3. The craft will be stamping and sticker-ing little paper passports, made by me. Am making the Nugget's stationery for this year in the same theme.
4. The colors will be purple, orange, and red. Not much decorating to do, but I'm hoping for some bright balloons and I'll make mini cupcakes with purple sugar sprinkles.

We'll do gifts and dinner out later that evening, just a family affair.

His birthday loot from us:
1. 3 Matchbox airplanes, lovingly chosen by Daddy.
2. A doll Ergo carrier I scored for half-price on kidsteals. Hidden agenda gift - more prep for Lil Sib.
3. B Critter Clinic I found it on sale at Target, also using my Target Rewards 10% off, because I'm cheap like that! He already has a doctor's kit and more plushies than he needs, but look at the cool keyring and real working locks! He's going to be in heaven.
4. Plan Toys food set for his kitchen. The lids come off! This is a splurge, but the special type of toy that he'll be able to hand down to the next generation.
5. Alex bugs in the tub - time to replace some moldy bath toys, and I think he'll love catching the butterfly in the net. Wrote to Alex toys and confirmed that they are all phthalate-free - awesome!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Baby Fever...

I've got a bad case of baby fever. It's a good thing I have a little niece on the way. Now if only I could plot a way to get my brother and sis-in-law to move here and let me provide fulltime daycare for Baby Manny. In any event, I have some awfully cute pictures of Baby Nugget.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Becoming Mommy

3 years ago, I had an absolutely awful Mothers' Day. We had just had our first disruption in April '07. Instead of getting the call to come pick up our daughter, we received a call telling us that the couple we'd been planning with had changed their minds and decided to parent.

Mothers' Day followed just a couple painful weeks later. I thought by Mothers' Day, I'd be the proud mommy of a cooing newborn, that I'd be busy with the work of folding onesies and changing diapers. Instead, it was a beautiful spring day filled with emptiness. Empty arms, empty crib. We went to church that day, but the building was filled with tiny children in their spring best, beaming mothers with corsages, and the homily was all about the joys and privileges of motherhood. I couldn't breathe nor stop the tears from rolling down my face nor the snot filling my nose, and I could feel everyone start to stare, so I escaped out to a miniature grotto near the parking lot.

A few weeks earlier, we had donated a pot of flowers to the church. I was working at a flower shop and carefully picked out beautiful, long-lived plants and moved them to a terra cotta pot. After we donated, we looked for it near the altar but it wasn't there. I joked, acidly, that my flowers must not have been good enough for the church.

When I got to the grotto, I saw those flowers there, right at the feet of Mary. It was the perfect place for them, where they'd get sunlight and natural rain. It was like a secret message. The flowers weren't put where I expected; they were put someplace better. I began to feel the first glimmerings of hope again, that maybe God had a different child planned for me, and that just maybe, I'd be able to stop crying someday. "The call" came just 3 weeks later, that we'd been chosen by the Nugget's Tummy Mummy.

3 years later, I am thoroughly soaking in the joy of Mothers' Day. I'm sipping my coffee while I hear our son's tiny feet thumping across the floor upstairs, while Hubby tries to wrangle him into the bathroom. Mass started 5 minutes ago, so we won't make it this year. I'm sitting in an office so cluttered, I'm embarrassed to let guests see it. My pile of laundry and dirty dishes beckons. I am sure that I need to change a bed sheet, because the Nugget slept for 14 hours instead of his usual 12. My life is so full. Every day is my Mothers' Day, because the journey to our son was so long, so unexpected, and so painful, that no matter how difficult he's being in the moment, there is also a thought ever-present in the back of my brain. "I am thankful."

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Top 10 - Almost 3

Dear Nugget,

How are you almost 3? I miss that baby you were, but I wouldn't turn back the clock, for although you were truly the sweetest, squishable baby, my heart would miss the little boy you have become. I can't trap you as you are, and I wouldn't want to, because as you grow, you only become more amazing. But thanks to this blog, I capture you as you are, in this fleeting moment. I record the challenges as well as the joy, just as I take pictures of you giving me the stink eye or having a tantrum, because nostalgia is easily and dangerously rose-tinted. Life is infinitely more complicated and beautiful when we can see both sides. We are so privileged to be your parents. 3 years later, we are still thanking God and your birthfamily every day, for the gift of parenthood and you, our lovable, one of a kind Nugget.

Love, Mommy

Top 10 Challenges of Almost-3:
10. I thought you mastered the limp noodle move at 18 months, but I was so wrong. Now you have added a special body slam, followed immediately by limp noodle. I try to catch you and lower you gently so you don't get hurt, but I have to admit that my reflexes are not nearly cat-like enough to save you from yourself.
9. You like to learn things the hard way.
8. You used to accept our 5/3/1 minute count-down as Gospel truth. You'd follow me obligingly to the car, the bathtub, wherever. Now you bargain like a shrewd garage-saler. "2 more minutes, Mom!"
7. You pretend not to hear me.
6. You always ask me not to sing in the car.
5. You eat every meal, except dinner, the meal that takes most of my heart and time.
4. Speaking of eating, you keep me rushing to the kitchen to get you more milk, more water, salt and pepper, more food, a napkin for your spill, a washcloth for your face, and suddenly, I'm escorting you to your after-dinner toilet and I haven't eaten a bite. I know now why my mom took all her meals standing at the kitchen counter instead of at the table with the family.
3. You have learned to lie. "Nugget, are you pooping?" "Nnnnooooo."
2. You are perfectly capable of playing on your own now, except when the phone rings. Then suddenly, it's like you're possessed by the Demon Whose Prime Directive is to Keep Mommy from Holding an Adult Conversation.
1. We were told pretty early on in your babyhood that it is possible to discern an extroverted child from an introverted child. Extroverts get louder and punchier as they get tired, and introverts get quieter and whinier. By this criteria, we realized you were an extrovert right away, and have stuck to a pretty regimented bedtime routine to help "curb your enthusiasm". Currently, this enthusiasm is very predictable, highly entertaining, and exhausting to your parents. Right around 6:50pm, you start running laps like a mad man. You laugh maniacally and fling your body on us, on the furniture, on the dog too until she wised up and started hiding around 6:45. You resist the march to the bathroom with the body slam-limp noodle (see #10) and can only be cajoled into toothbrushing by your love of washcloths. You use the potty as a stalling tactic, and have sat for over 45 minutes just before bedtime, insisting that, "Pee pee is coming!" We remain ever grateful that once your sweet curls hit the pillow, that you are usually out like a light. But of course, you have used every fiber of your being to avoid getting there, you have nothing left to resist the sandman!

Top 10 Things I Love about Almost-3:
10. You are so capable and proud of yourself. You can dribble and catch a ball, climb into your own car seat, dress and undress, brush your teeth, scoop your own yogurt.
9. You are very low maintenance if you can be outside. You like to wave to me through the window, while I fold laundry and you scoop sand and blow bubbles. You're always happy to have parental or doggie company, but when you're outside, the world is yours to explore and discover.
8. You are learning the art of trading for toys you want or taking turns instead of the push-grab-scream combo you had going at 2.5.
7. You are developing real friendships instead of just interacting with other children as competitors for toys. I see you attempting to play games and inviting other children to join you on the merry-go-round. You have a real affinity for several friends and ask me constantly when you get to see them next.
6. As much as I try to avoid pushing you into gender-specific roles, your obsession is clearly vehicles. Airplanes! Helicopters! Cement Mixers! Fire Engines! P'lice Cars! Buses! Trains! You are teaching me so much about vehicles, and I'm learning new vocabulary every day, like sky scratches and tenders. (I have read that the male brain is wired to notice big, fast things - which could have been prey or predators in our cave-people days.)
5. If 2.5 was "I DO IT!", almost-3 is "I want to help." You readily accept that some things are beyond your capability now, like using a sharp knife or fastening your own seat belt. But you proudly open doors and carry bags for me. No matter that you let the door shut while I'm in the doorway or that your "help" with the bag makes it feel 10 pounds heavier, for you have the heart of a chivalrous knight.
4. You burst into spontaneous song loudly and often. It makes me feel like the luckiest human alive to listen into your impromptu concerts.
3. You want to know what everything is. "What's that, Mom?" is your refrain, and God help me if I don't know, because you sure don't accept that as an answer. You have a memory like a steel trap, and if I say, "It's some kind of flower," you will proudly point that variety of flower out to everyone, every time you see it. "Look! It's somekindofflower!"
2. You have always been a ham, but you've taken it to the next level. If you see a camera, anyone with a camera, you'll run up and say, "Cheese!" If I take one shot, you'll say, "Take 'nother one, Mom." We recently taught you to say a line from Napoleon Dynamite and you love to deliver it and make everyone laugh. I used to think that parents who asked their children to perform in front of others were cruel and unusual, because I would have been far too horrified to deliver jokes or dance or sing in front of an audience. But you are happiest in the spotlight, so now I'm one of those parents, giving you an opportunity for what you love most - the sound of laughter and all eyes on you.
1. You are in a very gentle phase now. You seem to understand that other people have feelings, and are quick to offer hugs and point out when friends are sad. You sometimes yell at Doggie, but gone are the smacks and fur pulls - replaced with gentle strokes and tender hugs. Yeah, you still push, but you know not to do it with your hands anymore - you use your butt or you tell me, "I wanna push that friend, Mommy". (Baby steps, baby steps.)

Product Reviews: Kids' Sunscreen

We're big on sunscreen. Being the oldest child of a fair-skinned cancer doc will do that to you. While the Nugget and I have some extra melanin protection, we still apply it before we go outside, year-round. I only make an exception if it's raining. The Hubby is blond and blue-eyed, so he gets an extra-thick coat of it and reapplications too.

Having studied up a little on ingredients, we are a little picky about what is in the Nugget's sunscreen and other toiletries that go on his skin. Ours too, but we figure our bodies already have been exposed to so much junk that his chemical exposure is higher-priority than our own. Still, we're not super wealthy either, so it's a balancing act. I love that there are so many sneaky options for sunscreening obstinate children now, from sticks to sprays and gels, I've even seen a color-changing kind to help you get every square inch of exposed skin!

The brands we've tried:

1. Alba Kids SPF 30 - I love this one because it is easy to spread, smells fresh and clean, and is a good value (about $5-7 for 4 oz.). We find it at Target in the natural cosmetics aisle.

2. Jason Sunbrellas Kids SPF 46 - A close second-favorite, only because it's more expensive and has a slightly greasier feel ($8-9 for 4 oz.). It has the traditional coconut scent, and blocks UVA and UVB. We find it at Babies R Us, and Fred Meyer (on the West Coast).

3. California Baby Sunblock Stick SPF 30 - I love to use this one on the Nugget's face. It's mineral based, so it does leave a "mask" of titanium dioxide, but that's visible protection! (I take care to use the Alba on his face if we're going to do lots of photos that day.) He loves to help me put it on - we call it his "makeup". Although it's very spendy ($20-30 at Target and BRU), a single stick has lasted over a year, and it doesn't lose its efficacy. It doesn't spill or melt in the diaper bag, and I consider it a great investment. Available at Target or BRU.

4. California Baby Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 - I'm less of a fan of the lotion. It has the same minerals, but it's very hard to rub into the skin. At nearly $20 for 2.9 oz, I can't justify purchasing it on our current budget. I find it at Target or BRU.

5. Mustela High Protection Sunscreen SPF 50 - Very similar to the Cali Baby, but a little easier to spread, and the tiny bottle did last us through the Nugget's 2nd summer (you're not supposed to use sunscreen on babies under 6 months). ($15-17 for 1.6 oz.). The plus to both Mustela and Cali Baby is that they're fragrance-free, which is better for skin allergies. I find it at BRU.

6. Burt's Bees Chemical-Free Sunscreen SPF 30 - I usually love Burt's Bees, but I don't recommend this sunscreen. I got significantly tanner the few times I wore it, which tells me that it's not doing its job. It was thick and chalky, and it smelled strongly like patchouli (that's a negative for me, but could be a plus!). If you want to give me a second opinion on it, I find it at Target.

I'd really like to try or hear reviews on:
Blue Lizard

What's in your trunk?

As the Nugget's grown, I find that I'm able to leave more "stuff" in the car and lug less of it in the diaper bag. Here's what I keep in the car:

Year round:
Box of cereal bars or granola bars
Bottled water in case of emergency (we got a flat tire one August, and I was very happy that I had clean fresh albeit warm water for the Nugget to drink while we waited for AAA).
Paper towels
Trash bag
2 disposable diapers or pull-ups
Travel wipes
Excedrin migraine (for me)
Hoodie for the Nugget - You never know when it's going to get chilly
Direction Notebook - instead of printing directions to our playdates each morning, I write down directions to each of our friends' houses and local parks/libraries and keep them in the driver side pocket. It saves paper and I can also jot down adjustments when Google directions don't cut it.
Bag of toys - right next to the Nugget's car seat. He's finally big enough to help himself to his own distractions - whoopeee!
Reusable grocery bags - I use my biggest one to hold all of them.

Cheap small playground ball
Towel - in case Nugget takes an unexpected dip or run in a sprinkler, also use it to wipe down slides at the playground after the rain.
Fold up picnic blanket - I got mine on special at Costco, but here's another version that zips up, is machine washable, is water-resistant side for damp grass, and has handles like ours.

Ice scraper
Warm blankets - one crib size, one adult size, for emergencies

What's in your car?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Deep Thoughts from the Nugget

"I like riding that green bike, Mom. I pretending. I pretending to be train. You be caboose. Here we go fast on train track! We going through tunnel. It dark now."

"Ooo, look at dat water! (dat water is a shallow reflecting pool by the library) Bugs dancing in water! Oh, dos bugs are beetles, Mom. Water has ducks, fish, whales, sharks, turtles, and velociraptors in it."

"I sit that stool, you take my picture please. Cheese! Grandpa, you get camera."