Thursday, June 28, 2012

Theodore's Reading List: Great Books for Two Year Olds

"Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel"  This was a favorite of Brian's, and now a favorite of Theo's.  He asks for "Mike" very often.  He was very excited recently when he found Mary Anne (the steam shovel)  in another Virgina Lee Burton book, "The Little House", which is quickly becoming another favorite as well.

"If you Give a Mouse a Cookie"  I ordered a mini version of this book, with a play-along CD from Theo's class's book order.  It was a major hit with him!  For a few weeks, he wouldn't go to bed without playing "mouse cookie" which had readings of the stories, author and illustrator info, and a few songs.  We also like "If you give a Dog a Donut"... we're not as big a fan of "If you Give a Cat a Cupcake."

Theodore's first Jerry Pallotta book, "The Jet Alphabet" has become a quick favorite as Theodore is enamored with planes and helicopters right now.  This is our first foray into non-fiction.  I'd rather stay in fantasy a while longer, but it is super cute when he says "Jumbo Jet" or "Bell XS-1".
"The Pigeon Wants a Puppy" and all of the other pigeon books have kept us entertained this last year as well.  We even get to act them out with a little chick and pigeon stuffed animal we have.  We're anxiously awaiting the pigeon activity book that is coming out this fall.

A few days before Theo's cousins visited, Theodore found this book in our "older" books bookcase.  "Go Dog Go" has taught Theodore a lot!  He got to read this with his cousin who just finished kindergarten.  "In/Out, Up/Down, On/Under"  and colors, blue, red, yellow, black, white all get called out by Theo as we are reading.  This was one of the first books he asked for an immediately repeated reading of. 

Liam's mama introduced us to Piggie and Harold, and they have become a fast favorite.  "I Broke My Trunk" was the first of this series that we enjoyed, and we've added "My Friend is Sad" as well.

"Theodore and the Whale"  is getting read at least once a day right now.  Theodore in his red hat, Emily and the other tug boats, and of course Walter the whale are big favorites in our house right now.  When we found we have a Theodore looking boat, and a blue whale bath toy I was hoping it would make bath time a little more enticing for Theo.  He still screams over getting his hair washed though.

Leo Lionni books are always a little weird, but "A Color of His Own" is fun and Theo likes to watch the chameleon change colors (even though some of the yellows look green...).

"Oh No"... "We're Going on a Bear Hunt" is a fun, repetitive book that Theo can help read.  It's starting to become popular with him.

Past Winners:  T. still likes a lot of the same books from his one-year reading list as well.  He still loves his Corduroy books.  He enjoys reading parts of "Click Clack Moo"  (Theodore is the "moo-er") and "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" (he reads some of the letters, and the "boom boom").

Honorary Mention:  After this picture, Theo added "Elmo's Ducky Day" and "What I See at Easter".  I think he wanted to complete the circle above, but they are books he loves as well.

Easy Activities to Keep a Two Year Old Busy

Pentominoes:  He likes to just play with the pieces right now.  I have pattern cards he can use with them when he gets older.

Painting:  They painted  A LOT at day care.  I finally let T. break out some paint at home.  I asked if he wanted to use his fingers (it was finger paint) or a brush, and thankfully he chose a brush.  I hate when his hands are dirty.  When dada came home, the painting was dry, so we showed it to him and T. promptly put it on the fridge.  He understands that's where all his artwork goes.

Blocks:  T.'s grandparents have gotten him a couple sets of duplos over the holidays.  One is a zoo set-he absolutely loves the giraffe, tiger, and elephant in the set and is constantly playing with them.  Today he made some different designs, that did not include any animals (though that is the zoo keeper on top).  His second set is one with the numbers 1-10.  He works on these on a daily basis.

Play-doh:  We finally picked some up recently, and Theo has been having a lot of fun with it.  I pulled down some small cookie cutters to use with them, and he is getting pretty good at them.

Connectors:  These were the best kids meal toy ever.  I think we got them from Wendy's a while back.  They simply connect to one another, and T. makes all sorts of shapes out of them. 

Counting Bears:  T. uses these in a lot of different ways.  Obviously, he can sort them by color, and practicing counting to ten with each color.  When he pulled them out today he lined the cups up, and then started lining up all the bears.

Puzzles:  These wooden puzzles are great.  There are five boards in the set, with double sides.  T. likes to go through and do the firetruck, train, and car ones first.  

Friday, June 22, 2012

Banana Nut Muffins

Great recipe I found somewhere online.  I love nuts in quick breads, though Brian can't stand them. 

Banana Nut Muffins Recipe

·         3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed

·         1/3 cup melted butter

·         3/4 cup sugar

·         1 egg, beaten

·         1 teaspoon vanilla

·         1 Tbsp espresso or strong coffee (optional)

·         1 teaspoon baking soda

·         Pinch of salt

·         1 1/2 cup of flour

·         1 cup chopped walnuts (toasted or raw)


No need for a mixer with this recipe.

1 Preheat the oven to 350°F. With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl.

2 Mix in the sugar, egg, espresso and vanilla.

3 Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in.

4 Add the flour, mix until it is just incorporated. Fold in the chopped walnuts.

5 Pour mixture into a prepared muffin tin. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Check for doneness with a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin. If it comes out clean, it's done. Cool on a rack.

Yield: Makes 12 muffins.

Summer To-Do List

As we're expecting baby #2 in September, I'm hoping to take advantage of as much mama-toddler time with Theodore as possible.  Once the baby comes, everything is going to be a little more difficult with a double stroller, constant infant feedings, and a two-year old who doesn't always listen.  This is a wish list of things to do:
  • State Parks!!!  Complete the Delaware State Parks Summer Challenge!
  • Story Time @ the Newark Library
  • Pick something at Milburn Orchards (Cherries or Blueberries)
  • Ride a Train
  • Eat ice cream at Kilby Cream (Maybe do the Maryland Ice Cream Trail)
  • Eat ice cream at Woodside
  • Visit the Crayola Factory
  • Story Time @ the Brandywine Zoo
  • DE Children’s Museum
  • Use my free passes at Philadelphia Zoo
  • Just pay parking at the National Zoo
  • Ride the train at Fort Wayne Zoo
  • Have a Philly Cheese Steak at Pats/Ginos  (It’s been a while!)
  • Camp
  • Herr’s Factory Tour
  • Spend time relaxing at the beach
  • Winterthur Gardens
  • DE Museum of Natural History

Discounts for Local Attractions: Northern Delaware

Now that we're not paying for daycare, I feel the need to take the toddler out as much as possible for enrichment activities and to spend time with other kids.  I'm trying to find all the possible discounts and best days to go to the local attractions.  This is what I've found:

Discounts in Delaware
The Brandywine Zoo (Story Time Thursdays:  10:30 or 11:30) (Aug. 16th, Family Fun Night $1)
DE Children’s Museum (June 20th, July 11th, Aug. 15th are the $2 nights from 5-7)

Nearby in Philly
Please Touch Museum:  Has a “First Wednesday” program where those nights, from 5-7 you can pay just $2!  July 11th, Aug 1st, Sept 4th
Franklin Institute:  “Third Wednesday” program where there is FREE Admission from 5-8.

Philadelphia Zoo:  Teachers get free admission when registered by the end of June.  (Parking and rides will still be expensive.)

Brandywine Treasure Trail Passport-good through September 5th
$35 for individually, $75 for a family pass.  I’m considering just getting the individually pass for myself, since 2 year olds are free at most of these places. 

Works at:
Delaware Art Museum
(6 and under free)  Stroller Tours monthly, and story times.

Delaware Museum of Natural History (under 3 free)  Great Nature Nook for the little ones (see previous blog post).  Some classes for little ones.  May have $1 Tuesdays in August.
Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
(Under 2 free)  Terrific Tuesdays in July/Aug

These first three are part of BOA’s free first weekend for cardholders.

Brandywine River Museum (under 6 free)  Has some classes for older kids.
Delaware Center for Contemporary Arts  (Free Admission)
Hagley Museum and Library (under 6 free)
Longwood Gardens (4 and under free) Firework & Fountains displays, July 3, 21, Aug 11, Sept 1, 29; Light Nights July 13, Aug 10, Sept 14  They also have story times for older kids.
Mt. Cuba Center
(tours must be scheduled-has some classes for older kids)
Nemours Mansion & Gardens
(Children under 12 not permitted!)

Rockwood Museum
(6 and under free)  Ice Cream Social July 7th and 8th

Nation Wide
On the first full weekend of every month, Bank of America cardholders can get free admission at museums!  July 7-8; Aug 4-5; Sept 1-2

Local Attractions: Northern Delaware

Delaware Museum of Natural History:  Interesting exhibits for parents, and this place had a great room designed just for hands-on play for little ones.  We could probably spend at least an hour there alsone.  I wish I could make Theodore's room look just like this!

Camden Children's Garden:  We had a great time here with our cousins!  This place has limited hours, but kids two and under are free and the rest are $6 if you can go a time that they are opening.  Theo loved the carousel, as well as the ability to run around outside and see exhibits.

Milburn Orchards:  In addition to picking fruit, they have a petting zoo year round and a newly remodeled farmer's market.  They also have a playground, wooden train, sandbox, and other outside attractions for the little ones to play on.

 Adventure Aquarium:  Similar to the National Aquarium in Baltimore, a great place to spend the day.  Is better in the afternoon, as school groups tend to dominate the exhibits in the morning.  They have many touch tanks for the kids to feel the creatures.

Delaware Children's Museum:  This is a fairly new museum, where we can spend an hour or two with our active toddler.  There are quite a few different exhibits, but T. spent a large amount of time at this one last time:

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Getting Ready

                This pregnancy has been so low-key compared to my first one.  With it being the second, and being another boy, there just isn’t much to do to get ready for this one.  Thankfully, my doctor’s visits are very simple:  my blood pressure is fine, I’m measuring right, and don’t really have any questions.  Hopefully my glucose comes back fine again.  I had to take an early one months ago since Theo was so big, and it was fine, so as long as this one is too it seems like smooth sailing this last trimester.
                Because of this, it doesn’t quite feel as real.  I have the next two months off of work, so I am basically just sitting around waiting for baby, even though I don’t have much to do to get ready.  Today I started a few things that made me feel like I was doing something to get ready.   First, I pre-registered to donate the cord blood again, same was as last time.  Then we looked into the VBAC class at the hospital, which we’re planning to attend.  And I started really researching double strollers.  And that about completes my list of things to do.  It seems so much easier the second time around.

28 Weeks Along

"What do fish eat?"

We finally signed up Theo for a nature class at a local state park.  His age group is called Nature Nuggets.  It was a very small class this time, but that didn't bother us.  They had circle time on the floor with stuffed animals learning about fish, then created an art, and then went down to the creek and caught some little fish with nets (and saw fish eggs).  It was a really good time, and Theo loved it. 

My favorite part was when she asked what fish eat, and Theo took one of the fish animals and had it start attacking the other fish.  Apparently, that was the right answer.  Some fish eat other fish.

Copy Cat

                Theo has been very slow to talk.  He picked up a few words and signs, but just wasn’t developing much of a vocabulary.  He’s getting past that now-

                He pretty much tries to repeat most things we say now.  Sometimes it feels like he’s playing the bother-your-sibling copy cat game.  When shopping the other day I told him his stroller was rolling away, and he copied, “Roll Away”.   He yells “Green-Daddy Go” at stop lights (regardless of the color), points out everything for us (“Fork and Spoon” that we just sat out for him, “A Bean” on his plate), and has learned to say “Please” when he needs things, and “Help” when he wants me to come assist him (rather than just screaming and pulling on me).  When we are driving down hilly roads, he also says “up” and “down” the whole time.

                He’s also started being more vocally active in reading books.  He loves “Go Dog Go” and will say a lot of the words when we pause and let him say the words before we read them.  He points out some of the letters in “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” (and the “Boom Boom” itself) and all of the colors in “A Color of His Own”.  He keeps picking longer books as well, from the big boy bookshelf.  Twice this week, he also fell asleep while listening to a longer book-  Rapunzel and Beauty and the Beast (“Beast”).  I now also know more about airplanes than I ever wanted to know because he found a Jerry Pallotta book we have, “The Jet Alphabet book” that I bought years ago at the Midway Carrier we visited in San Diego.  He loves planes.  And trains.  And cars.  And guns (water/bubble ones).  He is such a boy.

                Finally, he has also picked up the pronouns “My” and “Mine”.  He’s learning how to use them appropriately.

(My) Child's Play: Board to Ramp to Bridge

                I have loved watching the moments when I really see Theo play.  He is an expert at playing by himself.  He’ll chatter along, ad keep himself occupied for long periods of time.  Lately, I have been watching how his play with a wooden board has developed. 

                Recently, Theo was playing on the patio with some cars and fire trucks.  Brian brought out a board and encouraged Theodore use it as a ramp.  This simple act provided hours of play for Theo.  Over the next few sessions of play, I watched him advance in his understanding of the activity.  At first, he started putting everything down it-balls, large fire trucks, anything that would slide really.  Gradually, he realized that the small cars and trains actually would roll down the ramp the best.  He then started experimenting with the steepness of the ramp.  He put it against the door frame, and then the stairs, and then a patio chair.  After a few more sessions of sending cars down the ramp, he was playing inside and started using the board as a bridge for the cars between the two footrests in our living room.  Eventually, it became a bridge for himself, as he practices his balance (and surf skills on the rocking foot rest).  

                I think a lot of people worry that they need to teach their child everything, but I think if we just let them play, they’ll figure it out.