Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Review: LA Baby Full Size Folding Wood Crib

 When pregnant with Baby E, I thought about transitioning Big Brother (20 months at the time) to a bed, but I was just too tired. I realized that if he was happy in his crib, I should just let him be. Though I love his Young America crib (which was a gift), I was not ready to shell out that kind of money for a piece of baby furniture. I was also looking for something a little more portable and easy to store when the time comes to put it away. We had used this LA Baby Crib a few times at my parents, and I felt it would be a great option for us. The crib offers many features of a standard crib, but it can be folded up and moved in just a few minutes. 
The crib arrived in a huge flat rectangular box. My husband and I are the absolute most construction challenged people that I know of. We had some minor frustrations with assembly, but the instructions were clear and easy to follow.  It took about 30 minutes to put together, and then it was ready to go!

Ignore the mess...

It feels very solid once everything is tightened, and I definitely do not feel like I am using a porta-crib. The folding mechanism works like this: There is a wood panel under the mattress which can be lifted up when you want to close the crib. When the piece is lifted up, it allows the crib to fold flat, similar to cardboard box which folds flat once the flaps are lifted. The wood panel Velcros to the crib itself to keep it from moving when the crib is open. I love the fact that if for some reason I need to move this crib, I can literally fold-move-unfold in less than 5 minutes. There are also wheels attached for easy moving. Any full size mattress can be used with this crib, so comfort is not a concern. 

You can see the hinges at the top of this photo

This is the velcro that keeps the wooden piece in place

The only major con about the crib is that the mattress height is not adjustable. For the first few months, you don't have the option of a raised mattress with this crib. If you will be bothered by having to bend down every time you need to put down or pick up your child in the early months, this crib may not be for you. The wood is average quality to my untrained eye, but given the $200 price tag, it does the job. 

The crib has proven to be extremely versatile, and I think it will work very well for long term use. Big Brother A (30 pounds) has been sleeping comfortably in this crib while on vacation, so it can work for a toddler as well. It works great in a child's room, and is also perfect for relatives who want a full size crib but don’t have room for a dedicated bedroom. 

To re-cap:

  • Easy assembly
  •  Excellent portability without sacrificing comfort
  • Affordable
  • No adjustable mattress

Monday, August 26, 2013

Baby On the Move!

Both my boys have shown a tendency to hit their growth motor milestones a bit later than average. At 9.5 months, Baby E is officially on the move! He is working on his army crawl, although it looks more like he is trying to do the worm...

Sorry for the poor video quality, but you can see him getting around in this clip:

I am curious to see how this develops, and whether it will turn into traditional crawling. Big Brother A never crawled - his preferred way of getting around was to scoot on his tush. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Review: Baby Banz Hearing Protection Earmuffs

We recently had a good friends wedding, and we had to bring Baby E along because he still does not take a bottle. I was hoping he would be sleeping through a larger chunk of the night by the time the wedding rolled around, but that didn't happen. 

I ordered these Baby Banz headphones at the last minute, in order to protect his little ears from the very loud music at the wedding. I tried them on myself to see what it would be like for Baby E (The headphones barely fit me, but I was able to get them on.) The headphones blocked out most background noises, but I could still have a conversation with my sister who was standing next to me. I did a quick test run with the baby, and he did not seem bothered by the headphones at all. He definitely noticed them, but didn't complain. 

The headphones worked out great at the wedding! He fell asleep at the reception, and basically slept all the way until we got home. I was able to relax, knowing that his ears were safe. They are really adorable, and I am very happy with how they worked out. My Dad asked if they were white noise headphones, since both my kids are addicted to white noise. That may be the next great baby invention! 

I definitely recommend these for anyone who needs to take a baby to a loud event. I'm pretty sure these would fit my 2-year old as well, but I need to double-check. 

And, of course E decided to go on a mini 12 hour nursing strike, and refused to nurse the entire time we were gone!

*Disclosure of Material Connection: This post contains affiliate links

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Vacation Time! Beach Essentials

We are spending the week with my parents at the beach. I am definitely of the belief that vacation and young children do not belong in the same sentence. The kids love spending time with their aunts and grandparents, but it is definitely exhausting!  Here are our must-have beach items and a few tips for a good time:

swim suit/rash guard: We all have fair skin, so maximum sun coverage is important. I'm not picky about rash guards, but I prefer the ones with tighter necks for better protection for the kids.

Baseball Cap: A always refused to wear sun hats, but I have had good luck getting him to wear a baseball cap. It's pretty simple: no hat, no pool. He doesn't mind the rule, and asks for his hat all the time.

Water Shoes: A hates being barefoot. I also prefer he have water shoes on to protect his feet from hot sand/cement and anything sharp. I have been very happy with these Speedo water shoes

Shade: Thankfully, there are plenty of beach umbrellas here, but I have been considering purchasing a beach tent like this for additional shade. Everyone (myself included!) does better if we have a shady place to cool off. 

Hard at work on the beach

Pool/sand toys: A has been loving the typical buckets and shovels that are great for sand and water play. But his favorite "toys" have been empty water bottles, drinking cups, and other household items that he has been experimenting with.

Food and Drinks: Water play and lots of sun are a recipe for a very hungry toddler! I like to bring ziploc bags with snacks already portioned out for easy access. Easy snacks likes pretzels, crackers, and fruit seem to go over well. I recommend packing at least 2 times as many snacks as you think you'll need. Things fall in the sand, spill, etc. and kids are just extra hungry.

Bags: I can never have too many bags at the beach. Ziploc baggies are good to keep electronics safe. Lots of extra bags for trash and wet clothes. I also like to keep a small bag separate with things I will constantly need access to - sippy cup, toys for baby E, and whatever else I need at the moment.

Don't forget the towels and sunscreen also!


In other news, the kids had their very first fight yesterday. Baby E has a weird obsession with bags, especially ziploc bags. The boys got into a tugging match over a bag of food. E was holding on to his bag for dear life, but A managed to grab it away, resulting in major hysterics from Baby E. I was very proud of A, who then decided he would let E hold one of his snack bags. This was definitely an interesting preview of things to come!!

Baby E testing out the pool with his Aunts. He decided to go swimming in his clothes :)

This will probably be my only post while away, so the blog may not be updated for a little while. Hope everyone is enjoying the end of summer!

*Disclosure of Material Connection: This post contains affiliate links

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Favorite Books: Age 2.5

As much as I try to encourage it, Big Brother A usually has better things to do than sit and read books. We always read a book or two before nap and bedtime, and he will sometimes ask for a couple other books throughout the day. He is currently in a stage where he must ask about every single thing in every picture, so it can take a while to get through the books...

Here are some of the current favorites in our house:

The Little Blue Truck Leads The Way
Alice Schertie, Jill McElmurry
I bought this book around the time he turned 2, but he has only recently started showing interest in it. It has great illustrations and some great rhyming in addition to a great message about working together.
Product Details

Z is for Zoo
Roger Priddy
This was an early favorite, and A keeps coming back to this book. A loves to see and touch the different materials on each page, and he especially loves to find the animals hiding under the large flaps.

The Very Lonely Firefly/The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Eric Carle
Again, I think the illustrations are a big reason why these two books are favorites. These books also have a lot of repetition which makes it easy for young kids to catch on.
Product Details
An Awesome Book
Dallas Clayton
This is a really wild and wacky book that encourages kids to really use their imagination. I would not have picked this on my own, but we received it as a gift and A really gets a kick out of it. It has a great message of not being afraid to dream big.
Product Details
Ten In the Bed
Penny Dale
This has been a staple of our bedtime routine for over a year. This version is a nice twist on the classic song.

I Spy Board Books 
Jean Marzolo
These are really great, and allow very young kids to have fun with the I Spy books. A likes to "read" these by himself and find all the pictures.
Product Details

He also loves any and all lift the flap books and some Dr. Seuss.

What is your toddler reading?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Review: Fisher Price Rock n Play Sleeper

If I had to pick one item to purchase for my baby's first few months. I think this would have to be it. (Swing is a close second, if not a tie) The Fisher Price Rock n Play Sleeper completely saved my sanity with Baby E, and I really don't know what I would have done without it.

I remember being home in the first week of Baby E's life, and he would not sleep anywhere. He did fall asleep in my arms, but as someone who really does not sleep well with a baby in my bed, I needed to find another solution. I hadn't heard about the Rock n Play, as I think it only became popular after A was born.  My mom was in town, and purchased it on a whim after someone mentioned it to her. We quickly assembled it, and never looked back.

E napping around 6 weeks

I'm not sure if it is the angle of the seat, the way the seat hugs the baby, or some other factor, but it works. The way the fabric is attached, the Rock n Play creates a hammock-like seat for the baby. I would have preferred E be sleeping flat at night, but he had other ideas. He did have quite a big flat spot, and I do think the Rock n Play may have been a factor (that and the swing were the only places he slept for the first 4-5 months), but I would have done anything to get him to sleep at the time. Thankfully, his head continues to round out as he spends most of his waking hours on his stomach or being held.

I love the small size of the Rock n Play, it was very unobtrusive and easy to travel with. The fact that it rocks is a big plus, and definitely helped us out at the beginning. Baby E would only sleep swaddled as well, which can be tricky with the buckle. We did not buckle him as a newborn, and we transitioned him to his crib when he started moving around more.

Chilling - around 3 months old here

I attempted the crib transition a few times, but I kept pushing it off because I was just so tired. It's all a little hazy now, but I think he was sleeping nights in his crib by 5 months. The transition was not very difficult, and my fear of moving him was definitely the worst part of it! Daytime sleep has always been more difficult for him, and he napped in his swing until closer to 6 months.

The Rock n Play was also great as a place to put the baby down during the day, and we could easily bring it from room to room ad even to the backyard. E is now 9 months, and the Rock n Play has been folded up and put away for about a month. I am thrilled with the amount of use we got out of it, and it was a very worthwhile purchase.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: This post contains affiliate links

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Daily Picture Calendar for Toddlers

Big brother A is very into his routines like all toddlers. He constantly asks what day it is, what we are doing each day, and what is happening next. I had an idea to make a magnetic picture calendar that we could use to plan and discuss our daily activities.

I spent some time on Pinterest, but I didn't find anything that really inspired me. I decided to make it up as I went along. I knew I wanted to do something with pictures that could be re-arranged on a magnetic surface. I have a large open wall in my kitchen, so I tried to find a good sized magnetic white board. The one I ordered (this one by Board Dudes) turned out to be not quite as big as I wanted, but it is working for now.

Next I set to work on my picture cards. I looked for some templates, but ultimately ended up making my own with clip art images. I have about 20 images, but I already realized that I am missing a few key things, so will be adding soon. I cut out my picture cards, glued them onto card stock.

Next I laminated them. I have been itching to buy a home laminator so this was the perfect excuse. I chose this one from Scotch based on a lot of great reviews on Amazon. It took 3 seconds to set up, and it works really well. I can't wait for all the fun things I'll be able to do with it.

After I cut out my laminated cards, I attached some magnetic tape to the back (I forgot how awesome magnetic tape is!). I think I will store the cards in an envelope next to the white board for easy access. I am using an old Crystal Light container to store my white board markers.

Here is the finished product:

I forgot to make a picture for the library (one of out favorite places!) So I am currently using the picture I made for Pre-school (he'll be going a few mornings this coming year)

I will post an update in a few weeks about how the calendar is working for us.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: This post contains affiliate links

Friday, August 2, 2013

Arts & Crafts: Toddler Style

These days, Big Brother A will choose arts and crafts over most of his other toys. Painting, gluing, coloring, stamps, etc. he wants to try them all. He can actually spend a lot of time working on his crafts, which is nice. He still wants me to be near him and chit chat with him about what he is working on, but it gives us some nice quiet time together. His interest in crafts has really picked up in the last 4-5 months, before that the only craft related things he was interested in were stickers. Here are my top ten suggestions for everything you need to get started:

10. Crayons: I like crayons because they are not messy. Obviously this makes them a low priority for A who prefers anything that makes a mess. 

9. Pipe cleaners: This is more of a joint activity, but we have a lot of fun making different things with the pipe cleaners. I am thinking of cutting them up as another texture he can glue onto his pictures. 

8. Paints: I have introduced him to water colors a couple times, but he is not really into them yet. However I just purchased these dot paints, and if today is any indication, they will be getting a lot of use. 

7. Lots and lots of paper: We go through a lot of paper in this house. He loves construction paper, printer paper, notebook paper, any paper. I need to find a way to manage the paper consumption. I like when he is in his notebook phase, because at least then all the artwork is contained. 

6. Glue Stick: This is A's new obsession. He constantly asks me to cut him shapes that he can glue onto random papers. He still needs some help using the glue, but he loves it. 

5. Stamps: I originally tried to make my own stamps by cutting up sponges. He liked them, but he is way more interested in some other Melissa and Doug sets I have since purchased. Washable ink pads are expensive, but he is satisfied with this small starter set, and a larger animal set

4. Stickers: A can sit and do stickers for a long time. Foam stickers like this are his favorites, and he will usually neglect all his other stickers if there are foam ones around. The foam stickers can be pricey, but I try to get them on sale at Michael's with coupons. There is a bit of a learning curve for peeling the foam stickers, but A is pretty good at it now. 

3. Washable Markers: We get a lot of use out of these markers on a daily basis. I store his markers and colored pencils in a regular pencil box. 

2. Crafts display: A is ok with some of his things being thrown out if I do it when he isn't looking, but he does want to keep certain things. I came across this easy way to display kid crafts here using rope and clothes pins, and I thought it would be perfect for our long hallway. We only moved into our house last year, and most of our walls are still bare. I went to my good friend Mr. Google, who directed me to another blog with easy instructions about how to make my very own wire display. 

It's hard to get a good picture because the hallway is so narrow, but I just connected string between 2 nails, and I use clothespins to hang up the artwork

1. Toddler friendly work surface: This may be the most important aspect of kid crafting. I found this kids table on Craigslist, and I think having a kid-sized place to sit and work really helped foster his interest in crafts. 

*Disclosure of Material Connection: This post contains affiliate links