Travel at 2

It’s hot.  You’re confined to an uncomfortable seat.  You’re bored.  Maybe hungry.  You want to get up and do something, but you can’t.  For an undetermined amount of time.  You’re tired.  And you’re 2…

If we think travel is tough on us, what must it be like for a little person who doesn’t understand one bit of it and, by the way, didn’t really give her/his stamp of approval to this itinerary.

We know travel is worth it.  We get to see friends and family, and experience new places, smells, sites and tastes.  So, we continue to do it.  With every new stage of development we try our best to make the journey fun or at least manageable for everyone involved.  Traveling with a 2 year old (or nearly 2 as the case may be) is much different than traveling with a 1 year old  and we want to be armed with a “discovery bag” full of options to keep things running along smoothly.  So, here it is, my top 5 travel tips for Travel at 2…

1. Bring lots of SNACKS.  Obvious, I know.  This isn’t your first rodeo.  But, I like to introduce new snacks to keep things exciting.  I found these and they were a huge hit and best of all they’re organic: http://www.diapers.com/p/little-duck-organics-strawberry-mango-tiny-fruits-39705

2. Bring some portable activities.  These packable sticker books are fantastic, reusable and a steal: http://www.amazon.com/Little-Airport-Sticker-Activity-Dover/dp/0486412725/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1344974156&sr=1-3&keywords=dover+activity+book  Add a small sketch pad and a baggie filled with crayons for more fun.

3. Bring snuggly items for that nap you’re hoping for.  Favorite blankets and this type of compressible packing pillow helped seal the deal for us: http://www.rei.com/product/794982/rei-backpacker-pillow

4. Bring a brand new toy.  I Spy Bags are fun for travel and they are lightweight: http://www.etsy.com/listing/106042408/i-spy-bag-mini-with-sewn-word-list-and

5.  Lastly, when all else fails…Ipad.  We aren’t video/tv fans for our toddler but when it comes to travel, we bend the rules.  Here are great headphones for little ears: http://www.amazon.com/Kidz-Gear-Wired-Headphones-Kids/dp/B0007NWL70 (I recommend practicing with them to get your child used to wearing these prior to travel).  I searched high and low for a video I felt was sweet, slow-moving and accessible and the winner for us was “Kipper the Dog”!  It comes as a series of 8 minute stories, so there are multiple places to stop the show and transition into something else.  If you are looking for Ipad games, we have found the Apps by Duck Duck Moose to be pretty straight forward, educational and least annoying 🙂 : http://www.duckduckmoosedesign.com/educational-iphone-itouch-apps-for-kids/fish-school/  And, of course, there are so many books to download as well, your entire library is now portable!

HAPPY TRAVELS!

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simple is beautiful…a message for the moms and dads out there :)

Ok.  I figured parenthood would be challenging.  Everyone talks about the sleeplessness, the lack of personal time, and the farewell to freedom.  But I didn’t realize what some of the other obstacles would be and I guess I wasn’t prepared for how often I would feel like I really didn’t know what to do or how to handle a situation.  Even when it comes to the really, really great times, the times we watch what our little (or big) ones do, watch them accomplish something, go for something for the first time, make some sort of incredible association, and we want to say something, but don’t know exactly what to say.

Theories abound these days regarding child-rearing.  We hear from “Tiger Moms” who say expecting greatness and refraining from too much praise leads to independence.  While Dr. Sears (the “father” of Attachment Parenting) suggests that you can never love your child or support your child too much.  Then there’s RIE which favors large amounts of dialogue and narration of what it seems your child is feeling and doing over excessive praise so that s/he may remain fully authentic and capable.  All of these approaches seem to share the same ultimate goal: confident, happy, well-adjusted children who grow into happy and well-adjusted adults.

With all this information, I must admit that I sometimes feel stalled in my reactions when I witness certain moments of what I feel is “awesomeness” in my son.  Then I read this.  It made so much sense and hit me so profoundly as something that is so right, I wept: “I love to watch you play.”

Have a look and see what you think:

http://www.handsfreemama.com/2012/04/16/six-words-you-should-say-today/

Homemade Playdough :)

It’s great for little ones to experiment with textures and forming shapes.  They have fun while working on their motor skills.  Check out this playdough recipe!  It’s all natural, as organic as you want it to be, and it’s ready in a flash.  Store it in a zip-top bag or covered container and let the good times roll!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoon oil

Directions: Mix all the dry ingredients, then slowly add water and oil.  Heat the mixture on the stove in a pot over medium/low heat, stirring constantly, until much of the moisture has evaporated.  Dough will form a ball when finished.  Allow to cool.

If you build it…they will come

Being a mom is great.  Really, it is.  But some days, time seems to stand still and I am left wondering what I am going to do with my child until dinner rolls around.  One day I found the most perfect pinecone, no easy feat in Los Angeles, and I knew it would be my ticket out of the doldrums for us when boredom struck.  You likely made one in childhood at sometime: The Pinecone Bird Feeder.  Super simple and not as much mess as I feared, we coated the pinecone in peanut butter, smooshing it into all the crevices, and then rolled it in birdseed.  I then tied a long hemp string to the top and hung it from a tree near our kitchen window.  We waited in anticipation, but it took a little while for our first customers to arrive.  I sped the process along by sprinkling some birdseed on the ground nearby.  But, 24 hours later, the tree was atwitter with birds of many colors all clamoring to get a piece of our hot, pinecone action!

My Top 10 Toddler Toys!

I am a big fan of toys that don’t have a ton of bells and whistles.  I like to encourage exploration with toys that have basic movements and that are age appropriate.  My little guy is currently 20 mos old and the toys I’ve listed here are both his favorites and mine!   So, here they are…my Top 10 Toddler Toys!

  1. Melissa & Doug Pound and Roll Tower: this toy has longevity!  It was a gift from friends for Julian’s 1st birthday and has stood the test of time.  It’s still one of his favorites.  (note: we have never used the “hammer” for pounding…I found it’s just as fun for him to press the balls down with his hands, and safer too)
  2. IKEA Train Set: this basic model from IKEA has 4 train “cars” that can attach magnetically or be used independently.  The track can be figured in a variety of ways and includes one “hill.”  We love this affordable and simple set!
  3. Munchkin Magic Mozart Cube: this one has also been a favorite since the early days.  We bought this when Julian was just 6 months old and it remains one of his top picks.  the big buttons are a large target for little hands and the music is easy on my ears.
  4. Harmonica: this is new addition and a crowd favorite.  It’s simple for him to make music because sounds come out on the inhale and exhale and we love to hear him rock out 🙂
  5. Ping Pong Balls: my dad bought a set of these over the holidays as a safe and damage free alternative to other balls.  Julian can throw them anywhere in the house and no one bats an eye.
  6. Green Toys My First Stacker: another one you’ll get some mileage out of…we got these in the first half of the year as well and they’re still going strong.  They stack in a variety of ways, are BPA and phthalate free, and are even great in the bath as they have tiny holes that allow the water to drain through.
  7. Stacking Cups: these were  a gift and I cannot remember what brand they are, but there are a ton of options with these.  They are nesting cups that have endless options and holes so they are also fantastic bath toys for month and months to come.
  8. Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes: ok, so this one does have bells and whistles (well, music and lights), but it has been a great go-to toy in the early months when nothing else seemed to satisfy and continues to be a fantastic car toy.  Everybody seems to have this one, I guess I now know why!
  9. MEGA Bloks: these are the larger, more toddler-friendly version of Legos.  They are chunkier and fit together and pull apart easily.  Our set was a 1-year-old birthday gift that came with a wagon (also a great toy for tots).  Fill and dump, fill and dump, build, and repeat!
  10. Kitchen Spice Bottles: I couldn’t end the list without including a FREE toy that everyone has around the house 🙂  Like most moms, I spend a great deal of time in the kitchen, therefore I have kept my low cabinets baby-friendly.  It has been a favorite pastime of my son to open the spice cabinet and pull out the bottles (caps screwed tightly on, moms!).  He stacks them high (with supervision), moves them to the floor, back to the cabinet, and into various other places with a great deal of attention and concentration.  They are a true lifesaver and, I’ll mention it again, FREE!

My New Favorite Wine

I recently traveled to Buenos Aires with my husband – our first getaway without our son since we welcomed him into the world.  It was a trip full of discoveries, a lot of walking, and some necessary gluttony.  While indulging in a decadent lunch at the stunning FAENA hotel I glanced at the white wines by glass and took a chance on a variety I had never heard of.  Enter Torrontés.          I quickly became obsessed with this wine I knew nothing about and spent the better part of our layover in Sao Paulo’s airport researching it.  After extensive research, I believe the one I sampled at FAENA’S El Mercado is made by Cinco Tierras.  Whatever it is, I tasted a lot of fruits upfront, peaches and pears balanced by some earthy florals and finally a nice mineral quality  that kept this wine from drinking too juicy-fruity.  I am now on a hunt to find Torrontés in my ‘hood.  I hope to put together my favorite picks in the coming weeks.  My prediction?  It’s the next big thing!