As a mom (and teacher), I strive everyday to engage, nurture, and expand the mind of my little one.
Here you will find the books, music, and activities most useful to me in my endeavors.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Hasbro Rebate at Toys R Us

File this one under crazy. fabulous rebate!  I just heard about this on my mom's group message board - thanks, Shelly, and thought you'd appreciate the heads-up.

Hasbro and Toys R Us has teamed up to offer classic board games (like Memory, Candy Land, Cooties, Chutes and Ladders) at a HUGE (and dare I say, exciting) discount!

Most of the preschool games cost about $3.99 plus you get a $2.00 rebate on each game.  Are you doing the math?  That's about $1.99 per game, right?

It gets better ... no way, you say?!  Way ...

In addition, Toys R Us is offering a $10 gift card for purchases over $25.00.

Yep, you can buy 6 or 7 games (give them as gifts, donate to a toy drive, play them yourself), get the rebate and the gift card, and end up spending less than a dollar per game!
Here's the link to the official rebate information.

File this under side note :)  There's also been a mass "recall" of Baby Einstein DVDs and books.  This has been out there for a while, but I mentioned it to someone yesterday who didn't know about it ... so just in case, here's the story.

Oh, and Maclaren is doing a massive stroller recall, too - something about fingertip amputations - yikes!  Here's that story.

Today's Toddler Breakfast: Mini Frittata

I mentioned awhile back that we are in a breakfast rut, which led me to morning smoothies.  But I've also been making a very concerted effort to pack a good protein punch into our morning meal.  Which means we've been eating a lot of scrambled eggs.  That's the only way I know how to make eggs ... scrambled.  Don't know how to fry them or poach them or even turn them green.  But now I do know how to frittata them, and I will be frittata-ing again very soon. 

This recipe was so simple and quick and delicious - that's pretty much my checklist when cooking anything.  Throw in there, toddler-pleasing, and you've got yourself one happy mama!

What?  Your mouth is watering?  You want mini frittatas for breakfast tomorrow morning?  Oh, you want the recipe?  Sure, no problem ... just so you know, I halved the recipe and it was plenty for me and NHV; the leftovers are good, too!


  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped turkey pepperoni
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a mini muffin tin with cooking spray.
  2. Whisk together eggs, milk, salt, pepper and parsley. Stir in pepperoni.  This is a great chance for your toddler to help :)
  3. Divide cheddar cheese among 24 mini muffin cups. (Again, I only made 12 - with three eggs.)
  4. Pour egg mixture into a measuring cup with a spout. Pour egg mixture over cheese, filling cups to the top.
  5. Bake 10-14 minutes until mini frittatas are puffed and golden brown on top.  (We snuggled up and read a book while we waited for our "egg muffins" to bake.)

Original recipe (no, not the Colonel's) can be found here.

Idea to Try: Flashlight Pointing

This idea comes from what was an attempt at distraction/substitution and has become a  vast learning experience!  I love happy little surprises like this one.

My toddler recently became obsessed with turning light switches on ... and off ... on ... and off.  She'd scoot a stool or turn over a basket to be able to reach the switch.  Much "fun" was being had and maybe a little learning, too ... on and off are opposites, right?

Of course, there were multiple times when she fell off the stool or basket.  And daddy wasn't thrilled with the idea of "playing with electricity."  We needed a compromise.  We needed something that could be turned on and off.  We needed a flashlight!

Brilliant, I know ;)  It took some time for NHV to figure out how to use this switch but she was pleased that it had the same effect ... on ... off ... on ... off.  Of course, that only lasted for about a minute.  And then she started seeing the true potential of this light source.  It can be directed and shined (is that a word?) on all kinds of surfaces.  This light travels all around the room.  It can move fast or slow.  You can see it better when the other lights are off.  Every minute there was a new idea ... you could just about see a little light bulb over her head :) 

Not wanting to be left out of this fun learning experience, mommy got involved and brought in some vocabulary practice. 

I asked her to point the light at ... 
  • objects like the floor, the ceiling, the TV, the clock, the door knob, ...
  • body parts like mommy's belly and her own belly button (that was a huge hit) - but not people's eyes!

And then we practiced shapes by hunting around the house with our flashlight.

Find the ...
  • circle (clock, door knob, ball, Louie's cat toy, ... )
  • rectangle (TV, book, drawer, cabinet door, ... )
  • triangle - this one was just too hard
We went to her new big girl room and shined the like on all the owls we could find.  I used the light to point to each of the letters in her name as she said the letters aloud.

Finally, I kept the lights dimmed in her room, and we read a story by flashlight.  I could shine the light on certain parts of the illustrations and ask questions.  I moved the light across the text as I read.  My toddler loved it all!

Teacher Thoughts:  This was discovery learning at its finest.  I intended for the flashlight to be a substitute for the light switch, but in the hands of a toddler, it became so much more!  I was just watching a PBS program on "open-ended" learning, and this was a powerful testament to impact of giving ownership to the learner.  "Opening" the door to what a toddler can do with an everyday object.

When I think about learning, I always think about modality - how is the learning being "sensed" - seeing, hearing, touching.  The flashlight covers all three modalities ... NHV was taking in the world through her eyes (enhanced by the use of light), through her ears (following directions and making observations), and through her sense of touch (by holding the flashlight and using motor skills to direct the beam).

BGB Transition - Major Breakthrough

I almost hate to write this post ... don't want to jinx it ... but ...

Natalie has slept in her big girl bed - without any resistance or "game-playing" - for the past two nights!

Attempt 5: Bedtime, Monday
After not napping and playing hard with daddy all evening, NHV was Ready (with a capital R) for bed by 8:15.  We were hoping that would work to our advantage in this whole BGB transition.  And, guess what?  It did!  She snuggled right in and was snoring within about two minutes.

I breathed a huge sigh of relief and hoped it would last through the night ... I really didn't want another repeat of Saturday night's three-hour bed hopping, game playing.  And, guess what?  It did ... last through the night.  She slept for a solid 12 hours!  I actually went in at 8:00 when I still hadn't heard a peep.  She was just waking up, sucking that darn binky, and looking around her big girl room ... with that I am sure was admiration.  Yes, she slept through the night and stayed in her bed "until mommy or daddy came to get her."  Woo Hoo!

Attempt 5: Afternoon Nap, Tuesday
We played at Kid's Quest and enjoyed a lunch date at Five Guys ... Natalie was totally worn out.  During lunch my friend Terri and I chatted about loveys, and I expressed my sadness that NHV had given hers up about a month after her second birthday.  Well, she must've heard us talking about her Kitty (and G's Dudley) because she wanted her Kitty for naptime. I checked on her about 15 minutes after putting her down, and she was snoring away - in her big girl bed - with Kitty tucked under her arm ... brought happy tears to my eyes :)  Love that balance between her still being my baby girl but also tackling big-girl-hood!

Attempt 6: Bedtime, Tuesday
She did it - AGAIN!  NHV slept all night ... 11 hours ... in her big girl bed.  I checked on her like four times - as long as I am awake for a potty break, I might as well steal a glimpse of my big girl!  She was uncovered once, and another time her little booty was almost hanging off the bed between the headboard and the guard rail.  Regardless, she kept right on snoozing.  The best part ... when she woke up this morning, I gave a few minutes to chat and sing - like she did in her crib - rather than rushing in to get her.  And she stayed in her bed until I got there!   When she first saw me, her eyes lit up, she smiled around her (darn) binky, and then said, "I seep in big gurl bed las nite.  I tay in bed til mommy come."

By George, I think she's got it!

I'll be back to reflect on the things we did right and the mistakes we made ...

And if you want to see more photos of NHV's Big Girl Room, click here :)

Easy, Fun, Craft: Apple Turkeys

It's a bird.

It's a piece of ... fruit.

It's super adorable; there's no doubt!

at one of my new favorite blogs, Little Page Turners

This delightful blog couples great books with cute crafts and adventures.  
It's a wealth of ideas for parents and teachers; each week is a new theme!

Monday, November 9, 2009

BGB Transition - The Saga Continues

So clearly this Big Girl Bed Transition isn't going to be a weekend deal ... ha, ha ... I am so naive and hopeful and anxious to unpack BGV 2.0's stuff!  After that first night of mixed results - she put herself to sleep,  but then woke up.  We negotiated for almost 3 hours, and she finished out the night in her crib - we are continuing on that same trajectory.

Attempt 2: Afternoon Nap
NHV and I spent the morning at a baby shower for a good friend of ours who also happens to have a daughter the same age.  Needless to say, Natalie was fairly tuckered out from all that excitement.  We did our usual naptime routine - except she declined my offer to read stories.  She didn't hesitate to climb into her new BGB, but she also didn't hesitate to climb out and be put back numerous times.  After about 40 minutes, she did fall asleep and took her typical three-hour snooze.  I was beaming with pride and possibility!  Perhaps this was the breakthrough we needed ...

Attempt 3:  Bedtime
... or not.  After the usual routine, we played the game for a good hour.  At first she kept climbing out of her bed, but after three reminders and put-backs, she finally resorted to staying put and calling, "Mommy.  Daddy.  Need You."  I promised to check on her when she called, so that's what I did ... over and over and over again.  Sometimes we cuddled.  Sometimes we chatted.  Sometimes I just reminded her that I love her very much and got the heck out of there.  (I am learning that the later strategy is probably the best one!)

All of which was to no avail.  At about 10:00 - hoping to catch up on an episode of Flash Forward (hard to do when interrupted every three minutes or so) - daddy (with my blessing) put Natalie back in her crib for the night.  On the way, she asked, "Seep big girl bed morrow?"

Clearly it isn't a matter of hating her new BGB or room.  During all three of these attempts, she hasn't cried or really even complained.  She just can't put herself to sleep ... and/or stay asleep.

Attempt 4: Afternoon Nap
While I attended my weekly appointment at my specialist's office, daddy gave it a go ... gave it the ol' college try, if you will.  She went in her big girl bed at 1:30, played the up-and-down game twice, but then stayed in her bed chatting, singing, and definitely NOT sleeping for two long periods.  Until I got home at 3:30, gave her another 20 minutes, and then went to "rescue" her.  Which means my daughter, who normally take a three hour afternoon nap, did not take a nap at all today!  This better not be a trend, people, 'cause momma likey those nappies .... you know?!

The Big Girl Bed Transition

Woo Hoo!  The Big Girl Room is complete ... and looking absolutely owl-dorable!  But I am saving all those details for Wednesday's post - over at MommyBrain ... with lots of photos to share!

I did very minimal research concerning the "big girl bed transition" - hey, being super-fabulous crafty takes time and effort!   

What I remember reading mentioned something about allowing 6 to 8 weeks before the expectant arrival of a second child ... I am sitting pretty at 33 weeks right now ... so fingers crossed, I am going to make this deadline ... after going off my contraction-limiting drugs next week ... yikes!

Anyhoo, we got the "big girl bed" ball rolling last night.  We've been talking about it since Labor Day, and she was beyond excited when we presented her with her new bed and room yesterday afternoon.

As I tucked her in - for the first time in her big girl bed - I can only imagine what it must've been like for her sweet little brain to take in all of that excitement and newness and change.  You know that feeling of lying in a bed that isn't yours?  Staring at a ceiling with different shadows.  Longing for the familiarity of your own surroundings.  That's how I imagined my two year olds first attempt at sleeping in her new big girl room.  My senses were so heightened for her.  It felt like having a newborn sleeping in a bassinet all over again.

Attempt 1: Bedtime 
It took Natalie about an hour to fall asleep.  But she stayed in her bed and managed to put herself to sleep with very minimal intervention.  I was completely torn between feeling tremendous pride for her accomplishment and lots of sadness over how much she has grown up ... in such a short amount of time.  

Through the monitor I could hear her breathing settle into it's rhythmic pattern, and I tiptoed in to see her with my own eyes ... stretched out in her twin-sized bed.  It seemed so strange, and my heart ached a little.  I spent the next 20 minutes across the hall - in what was once NHV's nursery and soon-to-be BGV's room - and rocked and cried and sobbed and let the memories of the past two years wash over me.  Change, especially growing up, is hard on me - always has been - and I knowing that those moments are gone just makes me sad ... almost like homesickness, if that makes any sense.

I splashed the tears from my face and went to bed.  Only to be woken up at 1:00 by a cry for "mommy."  I bolted upright and sprinted into her room ... not wanting her to be afraid in her new surroundings.  Wanting to make sure she knows that I am still right here when she needs me.

The next THREE hours was a series of cuddles in our bed, cuddles in her bed, requests for milk, chats about our day, and many return trips to her big girl bed ... despite our clear instructions that she must stay in her bed until mommy or daddy comes to get her.  We'll come when she calls us, but she needs to stay in bed.  Yeah, right!  I can't tell you how many times I would hear the quiet thud followed by the pitter-patter of her feet.  Throughout the entire three hour (admittedly too long) event, she never cried or seemed visibly upset.  I think she was just overwhelmed and excited and oversimulated.  She just could not put herself back to sleep.  And so at around 4:00, she went back in her crib ... so we could all get some much needed rest.  But even as CPV carried her back to her "old" room, she was asking to sleep in her big girl bed.  Being the awesome daddy that he is, Chad explained that all the excitement was making it hard for her to fall asleep and that she could sleep in her big girl bed again tomorrow. It was just what she needed to hear, and she slept until about 8:30 this morning.

I am curious to see how this transition progresses ... and hopeful that continued patience will win the race!

If you have any tips, advice, insight to offer ... please share :)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Foliage Friends

After lots of ... you guessed it ... RAIN and wind, the trees are almost bare here in the NW.

My backyard full of leaves keeps calling ... "craft with me.  Make me into something adorable."

Okay, if I must ...

Today we'll make Foliage Friends because I adore alliteration and just look how cute ...

For all the details, click here.

Check back for photos of our creations :)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Idea to Try: Toddler Tasks

My good - and super smart - friend Carrie - aka Oliver's momma - recently sent me a great idea she stumbled upon here, we'll call this the original idea post.

The basic idea is to use visual chore cards to remind your kiddos of tasks that need to be done.  Cards are laid out or displayed, and as they do their chores, you put the cards in the "done" spot (or flip over the card).

I love the idea of giving toddlers - even as young as my 27 month old - some responsibilities.  And I love the idea of having a VISUAL cue rather than hearing my own voice remind/ask/nag constantly; guessing my toddler could use a break from that as well.  The cards will also serve as a reminder to me that these are tasks Natalie can do for herself, things I don't need to control. I am certain this will take some time (and training) to implement, but it seems like an idea worth trying!

My plan is to take photos this week (see the original idea post) and start one upstairs and one downstairs task ... just to see how it goes.

My List of Possible Toddler Tasks:
Upstairs (displayed in her room):
  • put dirty clothes in the basket
  • choose socks from the drawer
  • put away bath toys
  • brush teeth (with help)

Downstairs (displayed on side of fridge):
  • take off shoes and put away
  • wash hands when returning home / before meals (with help)
  • park play stroller and cart
  • put away Little People
  • put away crayons / craft supplies 

Carrie's List of Toddler Tasks:
  • brush teeth
  • put cars in the car bucket
  • clear dishes
  • put shoes and coat away after school
  • clothes in the laundry
What task is your toddler ready for?  Is this an idea you can see yourself trying?  Do you already do something like this that works great?  Please share!