Monday, December 23, 2013

Playing Pretend in the Kitchen!

Our toy kitchen has been getting a lot of love lately. I have recently added some accessories and revamped our storage, to make it a more inviting space for Munchkin to play.

We have the Kidkraft Suite Elite kitchen which I like a lot. Our toy kitchen is in our living room, and I love how this set looks. It's very kid friendly, but not too obtrusive. We got a deal on this kitchen last holiday season, and it came with a set of pots and pans from Step2 which are great! These pots and pans have been a favorite for a very long time even when the kitchen itself was ignored. 

I recently purchased a set of dishes and silverware from Green Toys after he started taking silverware from the kitchen for his pretend play. We have some wooden food from Melissa and Doug, but it is very heavy and also kind of dangerous with Baby E around. I am looking for some plastic food to add to our collection, and we also have a shopping basket with cardboard food by Melissa and Doug. (The food in the basket is great, but the basket itself is also very heavy). 

I bought a cheap set of drawers at Target to organize everything, and laminated some picture cards so the little ones who play can easily see where things go. The kitchen also has some good space for storage, but I find that the drawers keep things neater. 

I love how there are so many opportunities for imaginative play in the kitchen, the possibilities are endless! Right now, Munchkin enjoys making soup and setting the table with his play dishes. He also loves "feeding" Baby E his creations! Some easy and cheap additions to his kitchen include regular sponges, a set of measuring cups, and a tinfoil muffin pan that he loves to play with.

*This post contains affiliate links 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Review: Conair Sound Therapy Clock Radio

If I had to choose only one item to buy after having a child, I would be very tempted to choose this Conair sound machine.

Conair Infant Sound Machine

White noise has proven invaluable to the sleep of both my kids, and therefore to my sanity as well. Munchkin showed a love for white noise right away. As a newborn, he was soothed by the ocean sounds that came with his bassinet. Later, we accidentally discovered one night that he slept way better listening to the static from a broken baby monitor. We quickly looked for a noise machine to purchase, and this one from Conair was the one we could get the fastest.

I have been really happy with this sound machine, and it has served our needs well. The noise is a very artificial sound, it does not sound like a fan at all. It sounds like loud static that plays on a loop. It has great volume controls ranging anywhere from very quiet to extremely loud. Most importantly, it does a great job of masking sounds outside the room. With the door closed and the sounds machine playing at a medium volume, you really cannot hear much if anything going on outside the room. (aside from blaring music, construction, or other heinously loud things that should never be allowed to happen when babies are trying to sleep)

Some other features of the sound machine include 9 other sounds such as heartbeat and thunderstorm. It also has a great illuminated clock that works great as a small light in the room. As a bonus, now that Munchkin is learning his numbers, he knows that he needs to stay in bed until the first number on the clock says 7. This works most of the time...

That being said, I don't think the sound machine is made amazingly well. We have had to replace them once, and we learned that these sound machines can't survive an airplane ride for whatever reason. Sometimes after being unplugged, it takes a few tries to turn the sound machine on. But Munchkin has used his machine every single night for 2.5+ years, and we have never had any other issues. I like that the machines can plug in or take batteries, so we have different options if necessary. Baby E has one as well, and I love knowing that we can talk in normal voices without worrying too much.

Overall, I would definitely recommend the Conair Sound Machine as a great option if you have a baby who is a light sleeper, or need to block out noise for any other reason!

*This post contains affiliate links

Monday, December 2, 2013

Meal and Snack ideas for Babies 12-18 months

I am often astounded by how much Baby E can eat in one sitting. I fear for my shopping bill! I am always looking for more ideas, but here is some of what Baby E currently eats:

Waffles - I like the Earth's Best ones or some other whole wheat waffles
Fruit-he eats any and all fruit. Some favorites are bananas, clementines, cantaloupe, honeydew, and strawberries

Cream cheese on whole wheat bread
Toast with melted cheese
Pizza - he loves loves loves pizza!
Yogurt (only when he accepts being fed which is almost never) 
More fruit

Most types of Chicken
Fish sticks
Eggs with cheese
Dr Praeger's broccoli or spinach bites
Some vegetables - cauliflower, cooked carrots, sweet potatoes 
More fruit 

I struggle to find healthy filling snacks that he likes and are easy to take on the go. Right now my go to snacks are whole wheat crackers and string cheese. He also likes oatmeal muffins which I can sneak all kinds of fruits and vegetables into. And more fruit...

We are slowly transitioning over to whole milk. He is not a huge milk drinker, but also barely drinks any water, so I am still offering him 3-4 bottles a day. I am hoping to teach him to drink water from a straw in the next few weeks.

What is your 12-18 month old eating? 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Chanukah Placemats

Happy Chanukah!

Last night was the first night of Chanukah. I love this holiday and it's extra fun that this year it coincides with Thanksgiving.

I picked up a Chanukah Placemat coloring set for a small project my toddler could do. He enjoyed coloring the pictures, and really any holiday pictures can be printed and used for this project. 

I set out some crayons and stickers and let Munchkin decorate the placemats. He barely colored, because I told him we were going to laminate and he was way too excited!

We then laminated the placemats and they have so many different uses. They would make great mats to put under the menorah to catch any dripping wax. Munchkin also wants to use his placemats for meal times on Chanukah. These would also work as great placemats for a Thanksgivukkah meal! They could also work as mats to spin dreidel on.

Wishing everyone a Happy Chanukah!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Vanilla Cupcakes for Baby's First Birthday

Healthy, absolutely yummy tasting Vanilla Cupcakes Recipe by niner bakes
Photo courtesy of niner bakes

I adapted this recipe from the niner bakes blog. I was looking for a healthier cupcake recipe, and these came out delicious!


1 1/4 cups of whole wheat or white whole wheat flour

1 1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

3/4 cup sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 a cup of applesauce + 2 tsp of oil

1/2 cup milk + 1/2 teaspoon of vinegar

sprinkles (optional)

I'm pretty much the laziest baker ever, so I didn't follow her steps. I mixed the milk and vinegar separately, and then combined all the other ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Then I added the milk mixture to the batter. I mixed everything by hand, and it worked out well. Munchkin helped out as well, so it was a great bonding activity for us. I baked them at 350 for 10-15 minutes.

They taste really good! Baby E is not a huge fan, but everyone else in the family is definitely enjoying them. I put some whipped cream and a candle on top when we sang Happy Birthday. Happy Birthday Baby E!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Top Picks for 1st Birthday Gifts!

Baby E turns 1 this week! I can't believe how quickly this year has flown by. I have been trying to come up with some good gift ideas that will get a lot of use. We have plenty of toys already, so I have been trying to think of some other ideas. Here are a few of my top picks:

Ride-on toys: I think this is my favorite gift idea for this age set. Riding toys have so many different uses, and are often loved well into the toddler years. These are some of my favorites:

 Little Tykes Push and Ride Racer


Radio Flyer Scoot About

Push Toys: Kids just love pushing these toys around, and they are great for cruisers and early walkers. I have this walker from Playskool waiting for Baby E:

Playskool Walk n Ride

I also think this is an adorable Push toy!

Melissa And Doug Rattle Rumble Push Toy

Toddler Chair: Toddlers love having a special chair that is just for them. A toddler-sized chair is a great place for reading books and relaxing. The Pottery Barn Kids Anywhere Chair is very pretty but also pricey.

For a more affordable option, I found this P'kolino chair on Amazon that comes in a variety of pretty colors.

Toddler Size hooded towels: Most babies are outgrowing the smaller hooded towels by 12 months. I love hooded towels, and want to use them as long as possible. There are so many cute designs that would make a great gift.

Skip Hop Hooded Towel

Books: We have so many books, but if you are looking to build your collection, books make a great 1st birthday gift. Baby E loves touch and feel books like this one:

Zoo or Museum membership: This is a great opportunity to buy a membership to fun places like the Zoo or children's museum. Baby is still too young to be upset if there are no presents to open, and will have lots of fun exploring new places.

What are your great gift ideas?

*Disclosure of Material Connection: This post contains affiliate links

Monday, November 4, 2013

Review: Britax Marathon 70-G3

At 11 months, Baby E was getting very close to the top of his Snugride 35, so I had to find a convertible seat for him. I am now the proud owner of two Marathon 70's. The Marathon 70-G3 is very similar to the old Marathon 70, with just a few small differences.

Mathon 70-G3 in Onyx

Here are some features of the Marathon 70-G3:
  • Rear facing to 40 pounds, forward facing to 70: The seat will most likely be outgrown rear facing by height before your child reaches 40 pounds, but this seat still allows most kids to rear face past age 2. 
  • Safety: The Marathon 70-G3 has lots of great safety features including SafeCell technology, versa tether, side impact protection, and HUGS chest pads. You can read about all these features and more on the Britax website.
  • Easy adjust harness: I love how easy it is to tighten or loosen the harness, and the seat has Velcro sewn into the sides of the seat to help keep the straps untangled. The height of the harness can also be easily adjusted as your child grows- no re-threading necessary!
  • E-Z Buckle System: This is a new feature of the 70-G3 which prevents your child from sitting on the center buckle when placing them in the carseat. I love this feature, and wish I had it on my toddler's seat.
  • Super comfy seat: Both my kids are very comfortable in their Marathons. Baby E was much happier as soon as we switched him to the convertible seat. The seat pad is also easily removable and washable. 
  • EASY install: This is probably the most important feature to me, and why I keep coming back to Britax. It is so easy to get a good install on this seat using either latch or the seat belt. The seat has built in lock-offs for a quick and smooth seat belt install. 
The seat is pretty big, as most convertible carseats are. We have traveled by air with the Marathon 70, and while it is not pleasant, it is definitely do-able. 

In my opinion, the only major con of this carseat is the relatively short shell height of the seat. I wish it was taller! There are other carseats like the Radian that will give you a couple more inches of shell height.

Overall, I am really happy with our new seat. 

our setup
*Disclosure of Material Connection: This post contains affiliate links

Thursday, October 24, 2013

DIY Kids Bookshelves - IKEA Spice Rack Shelves

We have a whole shelf full of kids books in the living room, and I have been looking for a better way to store them. I was looking for an option that would allow the books to face front, because it's more engaging for kids.

I was very interested in a KidKraft sling bookshelf, but I realized that it just would not work in the space that I had. I had heard about the Ikea spice rack bookshelves, and after doing some research, it didn't look too hard. 

These DIY bookshelves are all over Pinterest, and the directions are really easy. I purchased four of the Bekvam Spice Racks available at IKEA or on Amazon. You pay more if you purchase from Amazon, but if you don't have an IKEA nearby or can't get to one soon, they are available. 

Assembling the racks took about 3 minutes per shelf, and my toddler had a great time helping to tighten the screws. Then came the hard part! I am really challenged when it comes to home improvement things, but we borrowed an electric drill, and I manged to hang the shelves with minimal issue. They are pretty crooked, but I am not starting over, and Munchkin seems pretty happy with the results. I like that he can see the books, and I feel like we are making good use of the space. 

*This post contains affiliate links

Friday, October 11, 2013

Extended Rear Facing

Munchkin (how I will be referring to 2.5 year old A from now on) is still rear facing. I get a lot of comments that make it sound like what I am doing is weird or extreme. He is a big guy - at 2.5, he is 31 pounds and 36 inches. He still fits very well rear facing in his Britax Marathon 70. He has never complained about being uncomfortable, and he loves car rides. After watching the crash test videos that show the differences between a rear and forward facing child, I am honestly afraid to turn him around.

I just came across a blog post about the myths of rear-facing kids, and I think it reflects a lot on how I feel about this subject. I believe that every parent has the right to turn their kids around when they wish, (obviously after the minimum guidelines are passed) but I don't think I should be looked at weirdly for doing whatever I can to protect my children.

After looking at these photos, I got nervous that maybe A had reached the height limits for rear facing. But after measuring, he still has a good 2 inches between his head and the top of the shell, so we should be good for a few more months!

On a related note, we just moved Baby E into the Marathon 70-G3 and I am planning to review it soon, so stay tuned!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Review: Step2 Push Around Buggy

I purchased the Step2 Push Around Buggy around my toddler's first birthday. I was looking for an alternative to the stroller for short walks to the park, or just around the neighborhood. I really like the car, but we didn't use it as much as I thought we would. Now that Baby E is starting to enjoy the car as well, I am really happy we have it! Here are a few points to think about if you are considering buying this push toy:

Baby E getting  ride from Grandma

  • It pushes really well! It is really easy to push outside, even with a pretty heavy toddler inside. Turning the buggy takes some getting used to, because the handle doesn't turn, but once you get the hang of it, it's not difficult. The handle is also at a great height for adults to comfortably push the car. 
  • It is a great stroller alternative for short outings. Kids have more freedom in the buggy, and they can "drive" the car and beep the horn. 
  • The buggy has some great features including a buckle, and a small trunk area for storing water bottles, snacks, or small toys. 
  • The wheels are very loud. If you are looking for a quiet ride, this is not the push car for you. The wheels are loud, but it hasn't bothered either of my kids, both of whom are extremely sensitive to noises. 
  • The seat area is not very roomy. By 18 months, I had a hard time fitting A into this car, although he is above average height. At 11 months, Baby E fits perfectly in the buggy, but I don't see him fitting much past 18 months either. 
  • I believe some models of this buggy have a removable handle, but mine does not. Assembly of this car was fairly straightforward, but I would have preferred a car that was already assembled. It is extremely sturdy however, and can withstand a lot. 

An old picture of Big Brother A in the buggy around 14-15 months

  • Keep in mind, that the way this toy is constructed means that there is no way for toddlers to propel themselves. The car really needs to be pushed in order to move. 
Overall, I think this is a great addition to our riding toy collection. 

What are your favorite riding toys?

*Disclosure of Material Connection: This post contains affiliate links

Monday, September 30, 2013

9 Tips for Air Travel With Young Kids

I've been away for a while busy with the Jewish Holiday Season. But now I am back to real life, and I have some fun posts planned. Now back to my tips for air travel with young kids...

1. Don't do it! Just kidding, kind of. Flying with young kids is not high on my list of fun things to do. However, with a bit of planning and preparation, it can be made more manageable.

2. Pack light and consolidate. Getting through the airport is a major operation, and the less stuff you have, the easier it will be. For the past couple trips, I have been using one large suitcase for myself and the kids, while my husband has one smaller sized suitcase.

3. Backpacks are your friend. They leave your hands free for important jobs such as pushing the stroller while pulling a giant suitcase.

4. Plan, plan, plan. Literally plan out how you will get from the car to the terminal, through the security checkpoint, and then on to the plane. Make sure there are enough hands to push, pull, and carry everything that needs to be moved. We travel with 2 carseats and a double stroller, so getting through the airport can be tiring. We get a lot of comments about our "wide load" and jokes about "traveling light".

5. Don't lose the lovies! We almost had a crisis when my toddlers lovey disappeared somewhere between the terminal and the door to the airplane, but thankfully it was found. I would rather him not carry his lovey through the airport, but he was not fond of that idea.  

6. Fill up those carry on bags! My husband gets the backpack full of diapers, wipes, and changes of clothes. Bring extra diapers because you never know how many you will need. In my carry on, I pack the kid entertainment and snacks. Lots of small bags of snacks work best, and easy entertainment that has no small pieces which can be dropped. (The iPad is your friend)

7. Make sure you know how to install your carseat(s) on the plane, and remember that most airlines require carseats to be installed by the window.

8. Be prepared to answer questions such as: What is a water evacuation? Is the airplane falling? Why is it so bumpy?

9. Breathe a huge sigh of relief when everyone is happily off the plane...Until next time!

What are your tips for air travel?

Sorry for the lack of pictures in this post - I guess I was too distracted and stressed to take any during our travels!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Review: Baby Jogger Glider Board

I have been wanting to try the Baby Jogger Glider Board for a while now, but I was waiting for my toddler to get a little bit older. He is 2.5 now, and we just got it a couple days ago. He is very excited about his new "skateboard" and so am I!

I was able to open it and install it on the Versa in about five minutes, with A hurrying me along because he wanted to try it out NOW. It is very easy to attach, and feels very secure.

I had to turn my Versa seat forward facing in order to use the board, but Baby E doesn't seem to mind. It is very easy to adjust the angle and length of the glider board, and A was ready to hop right on. I definitely need to change my stride when pushing the stroller with the board attached, but it is still comfortable. I love how the board folds up for easy storage when it is not in use, while still staying attached to the stroller frame.

I think A is still a little bit young for the board, and I wouldn't feel comfortable going very far without an actual seat for him. But for short walks, or the mall where he mostly wants to be out of the stroller, it is a great option. I can't wait to try it out some more!

*Disclosure of Material Connection: This post contains affiliate links

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Picture Thursdays: Rainy Day Fun

This is what happens on rainy days at our house...

Water, dirt, cups, and buckets - what more could a kid ask for?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Baby's First Toys

Finding toys for your little one is very different the second time around. I remember reading lots of Amazon reviews and carefully picking out Big Brother A's first toys. With baby E, it's more like he plays with whatever he can find on the floor or grab from his brother. There are a few toys however, which I think are great for this age that Baby E has been enjoying. He is not quite sitting yet, and I think a whole new world of toys opens up once a baby can sit and play on his own. I am including some toys for independent sitters on this list.

Bright Starts Start Your Senses Sensory Toy - Giraffe

Bright Starts Sensory Giraffe - This has been attached to Baby E's carseat for the last few months, and he has played with it a lot. I think he is mostly bored of it by now, but we got a lot of great use out of it. I love that it has so many different textures and chewable pieces for such a small toy.

Bright Starts Rattle and Shake barbell Rattle - This toy is very easy to hold and shake. An early favorite!

Baby Einstein Shapes and Numbers Discovery Cards - Both Baby E and his older brother loved this toy from the beginning. I think it's a combination of the crinkly sound the pages make, and the great teething options.

I love Playskool toys for older infants and younger toddlers. They have a lot of great choices, and I have found their toys to have a lot of longevity. Some of our favorites are:

Playskool Play Favorites Busy Poppin Pals

Playskool Busy Poppin Pals - This is a classic toy that you will find in every waiting room, and kids love it. E will speed-scoot on his stomach to get this toy, and is working hard to figure out how it works.

Playskool Press n Pop Shapes - Another variation on the pop up toy, baby E can already push the buttons on this one and observe the cool effects. (I think he is mostly pressing them by accident at this point, but he still enjoys it) As a bonus, the shape pieces come out and act as great shakers. I like that this toy also works on matching of colors and shapes for older kids.

Playskool Explore and Grow Tumble n Twirl - I LOVE this toy. It is one of my favorite toys ever. Young babies love to watch the balls spin around, and older babies love to take the balls in and out. Big Brother A will still pull this out from time to time. 

Infantino Activity Triangle

Infantino Activity Triangle - This toy has not quite lived up to my expectations, but Baby E is interested in this toy and all of its moving parts.

Any type of ball - Baby E loves all types of balls, but he gets very frustrated when they keep rolling away from him. He specifically loves the small plastic balls that you find in any ball pit.

Really though, Baby E would trade in all his toys to play with whatever crumbs or piece of trash he finds on the floor...

Family Fun Time!
Reading his book on the beach

What is your baby playing with?

*Disclosure of Material Connection: This post contains affiliate links

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Laundry Time!

I think doing laundry is an amazing learning opportunity for toddlers. Big Brother A is firmly entrenched in his independent phase. In between all the tantrums about things he wants to do by himself, or things that I've done the wrong way, there are a few perks to his new found independence. He loves to do laundry, and wants to participate in every stage from beginning to end.

Doing laundry is the perfect for us to talk about colors and textures, work on skills like sorting and grouping, and have a great time. I think most kids at this age are capable of putting their dirty clothes in the hamper, and helping to sort clean clothes. Beyond that, I am letting my child lead the way about how much he wants to participate. Right now, he loves loading the clothes in the washing machine, pouring in the detergent, moving everything to the dryer, and putting the clean clothes away. Basically he wants to be part of the entire process.

Unloading the dirty clothes

 Into the wash they go...
Back for more

Doing laundry does take about double the time when we are doing it together, but it is a great afternoon activity to fill the lull before dinner time. 

What does your toddler like to help with?