Monday, October 22, 2012

A few things ...

Random thoughts, as that is my life at the moment ...

1. Do you use the child safety lock on your back car doors? Never occurred to me to set it, until this week when Ellen reached out and opened the door while we were driving. First of all, I didn't think her arms were long enough to open it. Second of all, my car requires you to pull the handle twice in the back seat to get the door to open after it auto locks while moving. Third of all - YIKES. Fortunately we were only driving slowly in our neighborhood, but if we had been on the highway or something ... don't want to think about it. I yelled at her and I think she was scared. I'm sure she was just curious about what the handle was for and I hope I have nipped that curiosity.

2. For those of you with tons of time for reading today (ha - NO ONE raises their hand), here is a long article (several parts, actually) from Slate on the 40th Anniversary of Free To Be You and Me.  My memory is quite terrible, but I'm pretty certain we had this album and I listened to it all the time when I was little. I even think it was played at a birthday party of mine or some sort of play date? This would have been before age 7, so is impressive coming out of my cobweb-y brain. See? My parents were subversive even then. :)

3. I've been doing laundry like a fool and have no idea how we accumulated so many burp cloths and blankets. Just wanted to share.

4. Speaking of subversive, I voted by early ballot last week since I'll be a little tied up come election day. You all have it on your calendar to vote, RIGHT? It's so, so important. Read up and educate yourselves on the candidates. Pay even closer attention to you local candidates and the "smaller" offices, like school board officials. These are the choices that can impact your life and that of your children the most. And, take your kids with you to vote - teach them that it's important.

5. If you put enough food in your freezer and wash enough tiny socks that pretty much means you're  ready to have a newborn in your house, right? Every part of me is swollen and my hands are tingling from carpal tunnel. I hope Baby Sister holds out for her c-section date, and I'm also hoping that all of this swelling / painful joints magically disappears the moment she arrives. I'm pretty sure that's how it works, anyway.

We'll see what the next two weeks hold ... I could be a mother of TWO next time you hear from me. Send help.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Toy shopping!

Otherwise known as something I don't enjoy very much.

At our house, birthday and Christmas come within 22 days of each other, so there is quite an inundation of "stuff". On top of that, add shopping for family, friends and the myriad of birthday parties that seem to be popping up and there is quite a lot of purchasing going on.

This year I started my birthday / Christmas shopping for Ellen in the summer. I am never, NEVER, that organized, but I really needed to be this year. I'm done purchasing for my nieces and nephew and our friends, with a few birthday party gifts stashed away. I thought it might be helpful to list a few of my favorite resources, as well as some of our most-played-with toys, for you sane people that haven't been obsessing about this for months.

Have you come across The Diminutive Review? It's a frequently-updated blog with great deals on children's clothing. So, not toys really, but still something you may purchase for your own child. Especially good for little bitty kids and/or atypical sizes, since it is all deep sale stuff.

I recently found Tinybop, Inc. - a blog / list of children's media (books, movies, apps, etc.). I haven't explored it much, but it seems there are some nice finds.

Also, to be redundant, Dinner: A Love Story has great lists of children's books if you are looking for inspiration (especially for girls).

I have one niece, in particular, who is an avid reader. I love buying her books and starting her on new authors or series. Around the holidays Costco often has inexpensive boxed sets of classic books for children / tweens. I have also found that Amazon can be helpful - search for a book you know they liked, then look at "what other's purchased" and chase it a bit. I think I found some good ones this year!

Also, Baby Cheapskate has nice lists of "Toys That Get Played With" by age. They are sort of generic, but I think that is kind of the point - the basic toys last the longest.

At our house, these things are in frequent rotation:
- Ikea child's table and chairs. This was for Ellen's 1st Christmas and has been used all day, everyday since. I should go back and pay more money for it, but I won't.
- Play kitchen / food / accessories. This was for Ellen's 2nd Christmas and gets played with all the time. She mostly likes to pack the food into bags and such and carry it around. The Haba Play Food is amazing (and a total choking hazard).
- Baby dolls. I think she got her first soft dolls at age 1, then bigger dolls and a stroller at age 2. The stroller is used all the time and Ells likes to diaper her babies. We (fortunately) haven't really gotten into all the baby accessories / changing of outfits, but I think that's coming.
- "Make believe" items - purse and accessories, doctor kit, vet kit. These were gifted at age 2 and 3 and she is really hitting her stride with the make believe play closer to age 4.
- Playdoh is popular, but it's kind of hidden away because it's such a damn mess.
- Art / coloring is probably the most popular activity at our house, and it's pretty basic - she is happiest with plain paper and markers. Coloring books are rotated in and out, but she is always happy with plain paper.
- Books, of course, and we have a million. These are mostly used at "quiet time" and bedtime. She can have a pile of books in her bed and read quietly until she falls asleep.
- Dress-up clothes. These are sporadically played with, but especially when friends are over or when she is avoiding quiet time (because it's all in her room). It's great to look for this stuff on clearance after Halloween!
- Games. These were gifted at her 3rd birthday / Christmas and do get played with quite a bit. Candyland is quite popular and tolerable to her parents. Spot It is a great card game that is fun for all ages (truly). Zimbbos is a fun building / balance game. Nice wooden pieces, will last forever. Ellen got Uno Moo and it has been pretty popular. I think we might be ready for the real Uno card game based on it's popularity with some of our friends.
- I also like the B. Toys line a lot with toys for all ages. The Pop Arty beads, in particular, are a favorite.

Anything we're missing? Any suggestions for 4-year-olds? I am mostly done with her holiday purchasing, but am always open to suggestions. :)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


I should really just change the name of this blog to "Go Read Dinner: A Love Story". They had a great post today on the importance of being empathetic and how it relates to bullying during Bullying Prevention Month. I love many of their recipes, but their book recommendations are just as spot-on.

Here is the post: The Importance of Being Empathetic
(be sure to read the comments, too, for some more recommendations, especially for younger kids)

One of our great friends recently recommended Wonder and I've been meaning to read it. Well, when I start reading again. Which is certainly not a reflection on the subject matter, but, well, you know ...

Also, it seems pretty timely at our house as I've noticed that Ellen seems to really be noticing differences in people around us when we're shopping or running errands or whatever ... the older girl with Down syndrome at the park or the adult with dwarfism at Costco. As a genetic counselor I feel that I should really have a better response to these sorts of things, and I DO feel confidant in having discussions with her about differences in people, but it's the caught-in-the-moment that I'm struggling with a bit.

Also, if you're interested in this sort of thing, you might find another blog interesting - This Little Miggy Stayed Home. I found her blog a couple of years ago from some other blog (isn't that always the way) when she was pregnant with her second daughter who was found to have limb differences prenatally. Admittedly, I find this kind of thing more interesting than most people, but she is a good writer (and crafty!) and it's nice to follow their daughter's achievements. Further, she started a semi-regular feature - the Special Needs Spotlight. Again, I find this interesting / important from a work perspective, but it occurs to me that it also works from the "teaching empathy" perspective. Many of the mothers comment on reactions to their child and how they wish people would react. Worth noting ...