The bruises and I set out to do some fun salt painting this weekend. I was originally inspired by an amazing Instagram account I follow called @mothercould. The mama behind the handle, Myriam, has amazing, easy ideas for kids and also is just downright real and authentic. All we needed was permanent marker, watercolor paper, glue, salt, food coloring, and medicine droppers. We had everything except watercolor paper, so I opted for paper plates instead (I’m a big advocate for using what you have!) and I didn’t bother trying to dig through our junk drawers for a permanent marker, so I just went with a black Mr. Sketch. We were aiming for a product like the one below, except I was substituting name practice instead of flowers – starting to get the little bruise into name recognition and learning the letters that make up his name.
In hindsight, I went wrong in two places: definitely should have used watercolor paper…the watercolors didn’t really absorb into the salt or paper plate and I definitely should have used permanent marker…the black washable ink was overpowering because it bled. But do you think the bruises mentioned…even once…that their “salt paint” wasn’t working? NOPE. Because the product didn’t matter to them. They were in it for the process, contrary to what my little mama heart might have desired. This was a weight lifting off my shoulders, fellow mamas, because it was all I needed to make the excuse to let go of expectations, perfection, and the pressure to produce these amazing projects. I’ll say it again: IT’S NOT ABOUT THE PRODUCT, IT’S ABOUT THE PROCESS! Sure, sometimes I’ll end up with beautiful, silly, authentic, save-worthy products that I’ll pull out when they’re 21 and moving out, but most of the time I won’t and that’s ok.
I’m veering from the beaten path a little bit and contradicting what I’ve previously posted about using models (I still believe in models too though!). Because this time, I didn’t show the bruises a model of what their project “should” look like at the end. And let me tell you, letting go of my expectations for a product let me live in the moment of their process. I watched them carefully and delicately fill up their medicine droppers with vibrant colors, only to meticulously drop a single drop down on to their salt until their dropper was all out of colored water. Then they’d go back, choose another color, and repeat this process again another 100 times. They worked in silence, carefully attending to each move they were making, occasionally breaking their concentration to shout, “Look it’s tie dye!” or “It’s turning geen Mommy, it’s turning geen!”
And finally when their attention span drew them away from the medicine droppers and the salt paintings in front of them, they asked, “Mommy, can we just be scientists?” Puzzled, I said “Sure, how are you going to do that?” And they proceeded to move the salt paintings to a different table and just started filling up their medicine droppers with colors and mixing them in bowls, trying to ‘discover’ (their words, not mine) all the colors they could make. And then they dropped the medicine droppers in favor of just dumping the whole cups into the bowls, and slowly but surely ended up with one big bowl filled with brown water. They BEAMED.
Quickly they started to realize they couldn’t make the water ‘unbrown’, and their experiment was over. Cue the meltdowns. How dare their science experiment be over when they weren’t ready for it to be over? Despite the monumental tantrum the abrupt end to their science experiment caused, we’ve now ‘been scientists’ – doing the exact same thing – two more times. And I’m literally seeing their brains work together in front of me. “Why don’t we just mix three colors and maybe we’ll get purple?” (Nope, still brown.) “Hmm, maybe we should try three other colors?” (Nope, still brown.) “Maybe we should just try two colors?” (Well it’s not purple, but it’s orange! Red and yellow make orange Mommy!)
Here’s the evolution in photos:
So. Let’s recap. We went from @mothercould inspired salt paintings, to salt painting duds, to science experiments, and there was never a single mention of how their salt paintings came out (or didn’t come out for that matter). In fact, they ended up in the trash. But instead of some pretty paper plate crafts to hang on the art wall, we ended up with some new brain synapses, a heck of a lot of fun, and some memories we’ll look back on…remembering the day they first realized they were scientists. Worth it, my friends, worth it.
No seriously, I don’t know if it’s just a stereotype or some funny joke that people make but our middle child is the epitome of MIDDLE CHILD. And I’m tired. Like I can’t fight the exhaustion any longer. And when his daycare provider starts asking me questions about his ability to listen, attention span, you know, all the things I’m frustrated with at home, I get that pit in my stomach like oh gosh here we go he is that child.
A few nights ago we started weaning him off the pacifier. And he was addicted so we fully anticipated it’d be hard. We used the “snip the tip” trick. If you don’t know, now you know. Our pedi recommended it when the oldest bruise was having trouble weaning from his…after we had tried both cold turkey and the binky fairy. And it was a miracle. But we also weaned the oldest at just over 2 years old, and Dominic is closer to 3 years old right now (I know, I know, we’ve been lazy about it but ehh who cares!). He’s only been using it at night/naps since turning 1, but still he was addicted.
Honestly, it’s been easy…he whined a little bit night one, but we told him his binky was getting smaller because he was getting bigger and offered him his favorite stuffed dino instead and eventually he went to sleep. And then he was fine at daycare and each night as I’ve snipped a little bit more off the 5,000 binkies he has, he’s been totally fine.
BUT let’s talk about awake time, because since the first snip, during awake times he’s been a monster. He’s always been our more emotional, loud, intense, mischievous, physical (any other adjectives I’m missing?) child but these past 5 days have been a whole new monster, a bigger one. Of course I love this monster with all my heart so please don’t take this post that way. I’m really wondering if this new monster was birthed out of the pacifier transition. Could it be?!
It’s this new monster that inspired me to write this post because it also got me thinking about terrible twos and threenagers. And I realized we’re probably in the heat of it because we have the best of both worlds colliding since he is turning three in a few months. I feel like we were lucky with Luca because he didn’t really give us a terrible two phase or a threenager phase. Maybe that’s just because he was the first child. But it’s got me thinking and I want some advice. Here are the things we are struggling with right now:
Voice volume: On a scale of 1-10 with 1 being no voice and 10 being outdoor-voice-scream-as-if-you’re-in-trouble, he’s at a hard 10 most of the time.
Patience: If he asks for his water and I don’t give it to him before he’s done asking, it’s an immediate whine fest, which leads to the next one.
Whining: 24/7 whining to the point where he needs to be reminded to “speak like a big boy” or “ask nicely”…I’m at that point where I model for him what he should be saying/doing, and it often sounds like this: “Dominic, try saying ‘Mommy can I please have a snack?’ instead of ‘I WANNNNTTTTT SNACKKKKK NNNOOOWWWW!'”
Anger and Biting: The oldest bruise was long over the biting phase by now. But when Dominic is really, really, really angry – at his brother – he still bites, and he bites hard. We have had a handful of occasions where he has bitten Luca so hard that there is blood, and a full teeth circle bruise left over on Luca for weeks. The good news is he hasn’t done it to anyone other than Luca in a year, but I still worry so much about his anger management if, at his worst, it comes to this.
Listening: This one doesn’t make me lose my temper, instead it just makes me worry. Any time we give him a direction or ask a question, he definitely hears us, but doesn’t actually listen to us. We have to tell him to get his shoes from the bin 20 times, each time more aggressively and loudly before he actually gets his shoes. His daycare provider says he’s always the last one that everyone has to wait for during transitions (because, and I quote my daycare provide, “He’s usually still in the middle of the room dancing or jumping around.” Yup sounds about right). Or sometimes we will even tell him something, he’ll look at us and smile, and completely ignore (or do the opposite!) of what we just asked. It’s maniacal actually.
Before I go running to the pedi at our three year appointment with all of these concerns (that are probably just normal but when it’s your kid you worry way more right?), what’s your take? I want all the tips and tricks for everything above, because I can’t keep losing my patience any longer. Is this all related to the binky? Or some type of bigger developmental phase? (Usually I’m pretty good at understanding these phases, but this just seems kind of out of the blue.) And if it’s some bigger developmental change, what can I do that’s different from my usual lose-my-patience-then-lose-my-sh*t approach? Help a sister out because I need it!
Name something better for a mom reset than time away without kids. Time AT HOME without kids. Seriously, time at my own house with zero kids around comes rarely, if at all. So when hubs offered to take the kids to Nana and Papa’s just to give me some time alone…at home… I just about burst. He rightfully instructed me to rest and relax and do all of the things I never get to do. But here’s the thing, I think the reason why time at home without kids is so appealing to me is because I can do all of the normal things that need to get done in a normal amount of time with a normal amount of sanity. Maybe a little rest and relaxation if I have time, but really that’s a bonus. To illustrate my point, here’s two normal days at home…one with kids around, one without kids around…which one would you pick?!
A Day With Kids
6:00am Wake up. Most likely to the bruises chanting, “Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!” or “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” Get kids up, bruises get their iPads in Mommy and Daddy’s bed while we hang there for as long as we can manage before the bow is too restless to sit still anymore…which is like five minutes. We’re lucky if one of us gets back to sleep. (And actually I feel like a 6am wake up call isn’t half bad…)
7:15am Breakfast. Brew the coffee, forget to add cream and sugar till an hour later while you fix kids’ breakfast (one wants waffles, one wants a bagel, so you make them fight it out because you aren’t making more than one thing…). Finally remember your coffee, take a sip and put it down somewhere you’ll never remember. You may or may not remember to have breakfast yourself.
7:45am Playtime. The bruises play independently in the playroom happily for a little bit while you frantically try and wash the dishes from breakfast, put away the dishes from the night before, clean up the counter, and maybe squeeze a load of laundry in the wash if you’re lucky. The bow sits at the kitchen counter watching you work, because, well, she can’t be trusted to play on her own without eating everything in sight. An hour into playtime you hear the bruises start arguing and scuffling ensues, so Mickey goes on the TV and you promptly leave whatever chores you are doing half done because they can’t go any longer unsupervised. So you grab your ice cold (not on purpose) coffee and plop yourself on the couch to actively supervise because Mickey isn’t doing the distraction trick. So much for chores.
9:30am Snack time. Even though you just finished breakfast, somehow someway the bruises are hungry and the bow is whining for her morning nap. So you give them the choice of goldfish or cheez its because, no, chips and gummies are not a good morning snack, and while they munch for two seconds you run the bow upstairs and throw her in her crib so you can take advantage of any free time to get back to chores while the bruises are occupied with snacks. Only thing is you don’t remember what chore you were doing so the wet laundry sits in the washer for another 3 hours before being turned over to the dryer, and the loads just keep stacking up. Meanwhile you frantically try and clean up the playroom that’s been destroyed – because when they play they don’t actually play they just take everything out and throw it around the room, creating a real-life landmine perfect for shoeless feet.
11:00am Outside time. At this point you probably kicked the kids outside because now instead of playing in the playroom they are running around the whole first floor throwing pillows at each other and wrestling, which is the key sign they need to get some energy out. So you pause the playroom cleanup, take 20 minutes to get everyone dressed to play outside in the freezing cold, and they run around happily playing while you freeze your a** off repeatedly asking “Hey does anyone want hot chocolate?!” in an effort to get them to come inside but no one seems to hear you. The baby monitor stops working because it’s too cold out or it lost signal, so you hear muffled crying while you’re outside letting you know the bow has woken up from her nap. Dang that was a short one. You were hoping her nap would take her to lunch time. Here’s your first bad mom moment of the day: You can’t get the boys in so you run inside as fast as you can leaving the boys unsupervised outside, grab the bow from her crib, throw her snowsuit on and grab a half defrosted bottle and get back outside as fast as you can hoping no one died or got kidnapped while you were inside. As soon as you get back outside the bruises tell you they’re cold and ask to go inside.
11:30am Lunch. You whip up whatever leftovers you have, and if you have none then its mac and cheese or PB & J or butter noodles, and you wait to make your own lunch because you KNOW they won’t eat much of theirs so you just resign yourself to the leftovers so that you don’t waste any food. You have about 2.7 bites of mac and cheese, 1 bite of PB & J, and maybe some leftover cut up apples, and hey, not so bad of a lunch after all.
12:00pm Play time. You kick the bruises out of the kitchen so you can clean up, sending them to mess up the playroom that you already cleaned up once all over again. And it’s only a matter of minutes till the two year old is whining and crying which is your signal for his nap time. You were hoping to make it to 1 but you don’t want to deal with 55 minutes of whining so you bring him up early.
12:05pm Nap time. The two year old takes his nap early, so the four year old asks for his “games” – code for his iPad. And while you know you shouldn’t give him technology again because he already watched his iPad and watched three episodes of Mickey this morning, you oblige in another bad mom moment because if you hand the baby off to husband you know it means you get to grab a shower. While you’re in the shower you promptly sit down on the floor of the shower and let the water run down your back for as long as you can manage because it’s your one minute of peace and quiet, and by gosh you’ll take that minute and turn it into 30 because 30 minute showers are where the rest and relaxation’s at. You get out of the shower and the middle bruise is still sleeping (Yay!), but it’s time to put the bow down for her second nap and the oldest bruise is saying he’s hungry again. Didn’t you just eat lunch ten minutes ago? You deliver and serve his snack bowl and water bottle while he continues to watch games because you know you can grab 15 more minutes to get dressed and brush your hair. No time for a blow dry or make up. You lay down because everyone is content and think you might steal a few minutes shutting your eyes or scrolling your phone but within 2 minutes the monitor is going off and the middle bruise is up, cranky in his true fashion, and whining for gummies and milk.
2:00pm (More) Technology time. Because the middle bruise saw the older bruise watching his games, he of course wants to watch games too. So rather than putting the iPads away and enjoying some tech-free family time, you don’t want to hear his tantrum anymore so you give them each another hour on technology. Tantrum averted, and you pry the iPads out of their hands an hour later, when the baby wakes up from her second nap.
3:00pm Family playtime. You muster up the energy to actually play with the kids because you know all they want is for you to play with them. You prepare yourself for a few hours of outside or indoor play depending on the weather…which means hide and seek when everyone hides in the same spot or peaks through their hands when counting, or pretend play with toys and you have to show your best pink power ranger moves. Good thing the bow is such a gem because she just sits and scoots along following every move the family makes. Sometimes she’s forgotten about and you have to run to the front yard to grab her because she’s sitting there all by herself eating dirt happy as a clam.
5:00pm You’re having fun with your kids for once but dinner calls so you wrangle everyone inside with a snack and more Mickey so you can buy some time to prep and cook dinner. The bow sits with you at the counter while you cook, and if you’re lucky the boys are spent so they aren’t at each other’s throats while watching Mickey. You remember you never turned that load of laundry over so you go downstairs to flip it real quick and spy the other ten hampers lined up and you realize you’ll be lucky if you get this all done before the hampers are full again.
6:00pm Dinner. And dinner means you made it because you drag dinner out to get you to 6:30 so that right after you can get everyone in the bath and in their pjs ready for bed.
7:00pm Bed time. If you time it all right (which happens once in a blue moon), you go dinner-bath-story-bed, and you get all the kids to bed on time. But you come downstairs and realize the playroom is a mess again and there are a few lone dishes still to be done. So you clean and wash dishes and flip the laundry one more time. Only nine more loads to go.
8:00pm Adult time. Lay down on one couch while hubs lays on the other, he watches football on the big screen while you watch Tik Tok on your phone. You have every intention of just checking social media for a few minutes before watching a show with hubs, but before you know it, it’s 10:00 and you’re still on Tik Tok. So you go up to bed, but you have trouble falling asleep because your eyes have been glued to a screen for the past 2 hours. And you remember there’s still nine loads of laundry waiting to be done downstairs, and you know you’ll get them all done tomorrow but they’ll sit in hampers unfolded until next weekend when it’s time for the new loads.
You go to sleep, get up, repeat, never really getting anything done effectively or efficiently, and the cycle just keeps going.
A Day Without Kids
7:30am Wake up. Holy hell you slept till 7:30! You don’t remember what it’s like to sleep in but you’re also anxious that you’ve already wasted so much of the day. You check the monitor out of habit and are reminded that the kids aren’t here, which makes you kind of sad, but remember you asked for this…or at least welcomed it. You lay in bed on your phone for a few minutes and then facetime the kids because even though they’ve only been gone a day you miss them like heck already.
8:30am Shower. To actually have time to take a shower and not worry about anything else while you are taking a shower is heavenly. You shave your legs and pluck your eyebrows for the first time in a month, and when you get out of the shower you wrap yourself in a robe and hop right back in bed, laying there for an hour because you don’t know what to do with all this time so it feels perfectly normal to do nothing at all but stare at the popcorn ceilings.
9:30am Breakfast. Because at this point you’re starving because usually everyone is eating at 7:15, but you’re pumped because you get to enjoy a hot cup of coffee IN ITS ENTIRETY while watching the Today Show. Savannah I see you!
10:30am Cleaning and laundry. You drag your butt off the couch and away from the Today Show to clean as much of the house as you possibly can, remember to flip the laundry every single time it’s needed – it’s like you and the washer and dryer have ESP because you’re gona kill it today and get everything done that normally doesn’t get done.
12:45pm Lunch time. Before you know it, it’s 3 hours later and you realize you haven’t eaten lunch. For once you make yourself a salad and aren’t resigned to the kids’ leftovers, but you eat quick because you still have the other half of the house to clean.
1:00pm Cleaning and laundry. You clean the other half of the house, and by some miracle all the loads of laundry are done so you have all ten hampers upstairs in the living room. You go on a folding spree while watching Dateline because who doesn’t watch Dateline when you have the TV to yourself? And two hours later you’ve watched an episode, folded all the laundry, and if you’re lucky, you’ve even managed to put it all away.
3:00pm Be sad and miss the kids. So far you’ve been busy all day trying to get things done so you haven’t had time to stop and think. But now that you have time to stop and think, you realize you miss the kids, start texting the husband, who’s clearly annoyed that you’re texting so much (you can tell by his one word responses) so you lay off and wait for the night time facetime. While you wait, the TV is mindlessly on in the background while you scroll through the picture reel on your phone looking at photos of your kids because you miss them so much.
5:00pm Dinner? Do you think about dinner yet? Who eats at 5 anyway? But you’re bored and you don’t really know what to do, but you also don’t feel like cooking so you make yourself some butter noodles (lol) and are done with dinner by 5:30pm.
5:45pm. Shut down the house downstairs (most likely forget to turn off a few lights but shh hubs isn’t home so he’ll never know) and head upstairs for the night. If you’re lucky, you’ll get the facetime call from the kids saying goodnight. And you’ll talk to them for an hour before the hubs softly says, “Ok I should probably get them to bed.” So you say goodbye, turn on 90 Day Fiance, and binge watch seven episodes in bed. You did remember to get yourself a glass of wine after the third episode, but you’re too lazy to bring it back downstairs so the empty glass sits on your nightstand all night long.
9:00pm You go to sleep, with the TV on, of course, because if you turn the TV off you’ll hear every noise in the house and be convinced a serial killer is downstairs and is moments away from coming for you. You wake up on and off all night because it’s freaking creepy sleeping alone in your house, but you make it through the night and when you wake up you can’t contain your excitement because the kids come home today and OMG you missed them so much you’ll tell hubs to never take them away again!
But seriously if you compare this to the day with kids, look how much more you still have to read!
At least if it’s the day without kids you were able to stop reading ten paragraphs ago. 🙂
So for real, which one would you pick? Kind of a trick question, maybe. Yeah it’s nice to have the occasional time without kids, and don’t get me wrong I’m super grateful I have a hubs who can recognize when he needs to give me my space and let me do me. But, I don’t think I would ever trade a day with kids for a day without kids on the reg? It’s this crazy beautiful life with kids I realize I love so much!
And why I’m annoyed AF after the last fall soccer session.
Hubs and I have been talking a lot recently about how we would really love to meet more families and kids in town. Mostly because Luca is turning 5 in April, which means he’ll start kindergarten next year. We did Little Spartans soccer this fall as our first exposure. And the program was really good! For 3 and 4 year olds, but the coach still let Dominic play from day 1, even giving him a team shirt and everything. Each session was an hour – 30 minutes of structured play around the big skills of soccer…dribbling, kicking, etc., followed by 30 minutes of free play on all the little goals that were set up. Parent on the field with the kid was mandatory. No qualms about the program, Luca really enjoyed it and was super outgoing, always responding to coach and participating happily in the activities.
Yesterday was the last session of the season, so after the normal first 30 minutes, coach actually split all the kids up into teams, and they got to play their first “game”. Here’s where I’m hot and bothered. Not a lot of kids came to the last session because it was rescheduled from a cancellation, and rescheduled to 1:30 – nap time for lots of kids. So Luca’s team was him and two other kids, a boy and a girl. The team he was “playing” against was three girls. Now remember, I’ve never actually seen my kid play in a game situation because it’s always just been these structured activities. So I really didn’t know how this was going to go.
Well, turns out two things: (1) Luca was fast as hell, like a lot faster than all the other kids, and (2) I think because he was on the older side of the age range he was a lot better than the other kids just due to coordination and development, etc. I’m not convinced he was actually that good at soccer. But he spent most of the “game” beating all the other kids to the ball, winning every challenge for the ball he took, sprinting down field on breakaways, and scoring goals. Case in point in the video above. You’d think that as Mom, I’d be super pumped for the kid – and I totally was! But I became self conscious when I started overhearing other parents and grandparents talk badly about the kid who kept taking the ball, scoring the goals, beating all the other kids. I found myself actively coaching my kid to let the other kids have a turn, and when he scored, he would look towards me to see if I was cheering. And he’d be utterly confused when I was just quietly standing there cheering inside my head but too self conscious to cheer out loud. “But Mommy if I score a goal in soccer you and Gammy are gona cheer really loud for me right?!?!” he had asked me a few weeks ago. At one point, he had the ball again (because none of the other kids were even trying to get the ball) and a little girl from the other “team” ran and just stood in the middle of the goal. The girl’s mom was behind the goal and yelled at Luca, “Don’t kick the ball at her!!” At least I’m pretty sure that’s what she yelled, but I could have been in such culture shock over what was going on that I misheard her (and if so, then I’m sorry for representing her this way). Luckily, Luca listened and just softly touched the ball to the corner of the goal. At the end, Luca even accidentally knocked a girl over trying to get the ball and we yelled at him, causing him to stop dead and cry in the middle of the field.
I didn’t actually say anything to any of the other parents. And no one tried to talk to me. It was like a mob, or maybe it wasn’t and I just felt this way because I was so self conscious and protective of my kid. I was so confused. Why was I embarrassed? Why did I feel like everyone on the field hated my kid? I wasn’t even able to sort out all my emotions till afterwards on my way to Target (because who doesn’t jump in the car and go to Target when you’re in need of therapy?). And that’s when it hit me. I was legit pissed. Screw the mom who yelled at my kid not to kick the ball AT THE GOAL. It’s SOCCER. How about you tell your kid to get out of the way if she’s not going to do anything? I know I’m angry and this is probably extreme, but what the heck. These were the people I wanted to try and be friends with?! Or the parents of the kids I wanted my kid to try and make friends with?! Better yet, the parents of the kids my kid will be going to school with?! The ones that actively were cheering against my kid and making comments to each other when they clearly saw I was within ear shot. Is this really what my town is like? I think I honestly would have felt a lot better about the whole situation if my kid was the one who sucked.
So now I feel badly that I didn’t hoot and holler and scream and jump up and down every time he scored a goal. Now I feel badly that I didn’t stand up for him when I started to hear other parents mumble. Now I feel badly that he would stop and look at me sheepishly and shyly every time he got the ball or scored a goal because he was confused he might be doing something wrong. And now I feel badly that I yelled at him for accidentally bumping a girl to the ground trying to get the ball and thus making him cry.
Man, if this is what town sports is really going to be like, I’ve gotta figure out a way to grow some thicker skin, stand up for my kid, and be loud and proud when he totally kicks ass. Yesterday I just felt like a panicked hermit crab retreating into her shell, and my kid deserves more than that.
Developmental Holiday Gift Guide: Everything you need to succinctly know when buying TOYS and BOOKS for infants through five years old
It’s here! Because a lot of you asked for it, I put together a holiday gift guide by age with a combination of (mostly) developmentally appropriate toys and books from the teacher side of me (professional opinion) and the tried-and-true, our-family-favorites mom side of me (non professional opinion). These are by no means complete lists. I’m sure there are things I forgot or things I might add along the way, but with each age range I’ve attached a general description of things to look out for/things to consider depending on the child’s age. I’m always hoping to hear your ideas too…send them along and I’ll add them into the lists! If you actually click on each age range heading, you’ll be taken right to my Amazon lists. Amazon is great, but I’m also going to try to buy local this year, so we can try and help save some small businesses along the way!
Full disclosure: I’m a huge fan of limiting technology – usually one technology gift per child per year. (Also full disclosure, somehow they end up watching way more TV and movies than they should on a weekly basis so don’t let that statement make you think differently of me.) This year we’re replacing the boys’ old iPads and that’s considered a huge gift for us. But most of the time I gravitate towards simpler or more traditional toys. For infants and young toddlers, I like a lot of the wooden toys, handmade toys, or montessori themed toys. For older toddlers I start to merge what is tried and true and high quality with what is high interest – and yes, that sometimes means forgoing classic and stylish toys for tacky trends and well known brands.
We’ve also ended up with a lot of crap over the years, and our playroom is in desperate need of a clean out, purge, and re-org. I usually do this right before Christmas anyway, in order to make room for the new crap that’s about to roll in. This year I’m really thinking of moving to a rotational toy room just to make space and get rid of the clutter. You know, the kind where we store bins in the basement of different types of toys and each bin gets its monthly turn of playroom feature and you keep rotating so things don’t get old and stale (and so you have more space). But this is a topic and a post for another day so let’s get right to it…
Think vision, think tummy time, think dangly, think texture. For this age I really don’t/haven’t bought much. But what I DO buy are things that are high contrast: black and white, or bright, bold colors in symmetrical/geometrical patterns because for babies the vision stimulation is everything! Go with soft crib books and loveys/security blankets with lots of texture. The more texture the more comfort. Anything to promote tummy time. Activity gyms are an absolute MUST HAVE because not only are they a valuable tool for tummy time, but the soft toys that usually dangle from above are perfect for the many milestones babies will hit in the first several months of life: visual stimulation, baby push-ups, kicking and batting, and grabbing and tugging.
Think teething, think fine and gross motor, think mobility, think strength. You need things that are both small enough for a baby at this age to manipulate, but big enough so that they aren’t a choking hazard. We love rubbery teething toys, and any type of “in and out” toy. By “in and out”, I mean toys that can be transferred in and out of buckets (i.e. shape sorters, stacking rings, blocks) because this provides not just entertainment for long periods of time, but fantastic fine and gross motor practice and coordination. If you go the mobility route, do your research. We’ve had plenty of walkers or push toys that are not built for balancing, and the minute a baby puts weight on it the whole thing topples over (including baby!). We’ve had luck with the two I specifically put on the list – baby can learn to take assisted steps without the parental fear of everything and everyone toppling over. If you go the book and puzzle route, think wood puzzles with chunky pieces, or books with bright colors and simple organization (like first word books or board books with short sentences – 3 or 4 words). At this age, they start taking in words and receptive language like crazy even though their expressive language won’t pop out for a while still. Activity centers are also a worthwhile investment because everything is usually attached (no missing pieces, no choking), with lots of fine motor practice and different activities to explore.
Think fine and gross motor ON STEROIDS, think active and physical strengthening, think practice and patience, think the building blocks of imagination and creativity. If your one or two year olds are anything like mine, by this age they are testing out every physical skill they have and getting into everything. If there’s one word I’d use to describe them, it’s BUSY. That’s why this age is filled with toys and activities that promote open-ended exploration and lots of movement, with some more detailed, refined, and delicate fine motor skills. Old favorites like Mr. Potato Head are perfect for this age, as there are endless combinations paired with trickier fine motor. For larger movement toys, sit and push or ride-on/ride-along toys are great for promoting movement in a more controlled way. At this age kids also start to have an imagination, and begin to dapple in pretend play. This is the best age for an introduction to things like baby dolls or stuffed animals or larger pretend play toys like figurines or animals, or my most favorite gift of all time – the play kitchen and play food. Megablocks (oversized legos) come in here too, but I caution you to avoid sets that build a certain thing (your kid will never follow the directions to build a certain structure at this age) – instead opt for the general starter kits that give you all the various blocks but with no specific design. Towards the end of this age, I also start to think about sensory (more on that in the next age range) so play doh makes its first appearance here. Nothing fancy though – no need to get the big elaborate kits – just the dough with cookie cutters are plenty for this age. If you’re considering books at this age, think language development. Board books (still!) with simple story lines, seek-and-find, or rhyming patterns help kids at this age develop their language as well as a sense of story.
I really couldn’t decide if I wanted to do 3-4 years or 3-5 years for this category, as I feel the jump in development that happens in year 4-5 is massive, so what would be a good gift for a 3 year old may not be a good gift for a 5 year old. But I just wasn’t able to splice it out enough to have two separate categories.
Think pretend play and dramatic play, think energy, think creative and imagination, think longer, more extended projects and play time, think sensory, sensory, sensory, and think about massive amounts of skill and knowledge development in huge bursts and leaps and bounds. Lots of sensory options, and it really depends on how much mess you want to deal with. (Full disclosure: I recommend letting them get messy sometimes because if you avoid all things messy they are missing out on important sensory stimulation and opportunities.) I love the variety packs play doh has come out with that include their cloud, krackle, and slime. Train sets or toy car collections or animal collections or doll houses (Calico Critters is a good gender neutral option!) come in at this age, as kids are able to more successfully organize their play to be able to play with lots of things at once. This is when you start to see kids set up zoos and towns and cities and race tracks. You also start to see them assume the role/perspective of someone else – maybe they’re running around the house as Woody from toy story all the time, or they spend an hour playing Paw Patrol with their Paw Patrol figures. High energy activities like bikes (balance bikes are amazing for development of balance!), scooters, and (gasp!) bounce houses that are small enough to fit inside your basement but large enough to allow for lots of jumping and wrestling and bouncing. I also love incorporating crafts and art supplies at this age – things like crayons and markers and coloring books and sticker books and even blank artists’ pads are engaging but also help to develop more specific fine motor skills. We introduced the grand easel at 3ish (maybe it was even 2.5ish), and it was a little too soon. We spent a lot of the first few months having to hover and teach to make sure markers or chalk weren’t drawn on anything other than the easel. But once that lesson was learned it is the perfect activity center. For puzzles and books, you’re now moving into the more complex, traditional puzzles (still with larger pieces but a smaller number!) and books in a variety of genres like non fiction, traditional picture books (I still keep it hardcover at this age if I can!), and old favorites like fairy tales and books in a series (Berenstein Bears anyone?!).
Remember to check out the post about Snow Day Boxes, too!
A little while back I did a post on Snow Day Boxes – boxes that Santa brings my kids every year filled with no-tech/low tech special activities that the kids can do on snow days (or rainy days or quiet time or rest time, etc.). It’s worth a read, as it could become your newest yearly tradition! If you’re interested, click here to read that post too. Happy shopping!
I’m calling it a vacation but full disclosure, it was just a weekend away.
If you have littles, or maybe you have bigs now but you definitely had littles at some point, I’m sure you’ve been through exactly what I’m about to write. Save yourself some time and keep scrolling?
I’m sheepishly embarrassed to admit that this past weekend was THE FIRST TIME my little nuclear family unit went away – just us. No grandparents or friends or extended family. Luca is 4…is that pathetic? Maybe don’t answer that?
I think part of the reason we haven’t yet is because it’s a lot of work. At least when you have family or friends to travel with or to travel and go see, you’re all in it together and there’s more hands on deck. Since Luca was born we’ve done plenty of trips, don’t get me wrong, just not “just us”. I’ve simply been the type to prefer to save money, avoid the hassle, and just be a homebody.
It was great. We picked a place to explore that we haven’t been before – Ogunquit, Maine. Fall weekend, gorgeous weather. Even got one day of an “Indian Summer”. Great food (mostly), amazing hotel vibe in a pristine location. Couldn’t have asked for anything more, seriously. I’ve got instagram-worthy pics to show for it:
But like, there’s sooo much more that goes on behind the scenes.
First, let’s talk about the drive up on day one. “I want to leave as soon as we all wake up. It’s supposed to be gorgeous weather tomorrow, I don’t want to waste the day driving” I said. Ok, well that would have meant that I actually packed and prepared our family the night before. Instead I woke up at the crack of dawn and ran around scrambling to get us out the door and in the car by 9:30am. Not bad, we’ll be there by 12:30pm. We casually hit our first traffic blip – stop and go on 495. “Oh, my coworker said this highway’s the worst” he said. Great, thanks for the advance notice. Not only did we hit stop and go traffic the rest of the way, but we had to stop for lunch, stop for potty, and then stop for potty again (because a bruise didn’t have to poop when we stopped 20 minutes before). Soo we got there at 2:30pm. At least it wasn’t a waste of an entire day? Salvaged it all by spending the afternoon at the beach and coming back to the hotel for the kids to swim in the pool while the adults got drinks from the pool bar. Perfect.
Next let’s talk about night one. Ordered to-go food from a well-recommended local Mexican place and had fish tacos on the lawn at the hotel (which happens to be a cliff overlooking the entire beach) listening to live music while the kids ran around. Perfect. We get the kids back to the room, and bedtime goes surprisingly very well – everyone goes to sleep like normal and hubs and I head out to the patio attached to our room to have a nightcap and listen to the live music that’s still playing. Perfect. So something’s gotta be not perfect, right? Right. I go to bed around 10pm but get promptly woken up around 11:30pm with raging stomach pains. And by raging I mean unbearable-oh-my-goodness-this-is-more-than-a-hangover. Spent the better part of the next 5 hours in the bathroom, and if I wasn’t actually puking or the other way, you know, then I was sitting there in fetal position unable to move. Fish tacos. Luckily, I lulled myself back to bed and finally fell asleep around 4:30am and was able to snooze until the kids wake up around 6:30am. Still wasn’t feeling great, but light years better than how I was feeling 2 hours earlier.
Now we’ll talk about day two. Thankfully, I was feeling well enough that I wasn’t stuck in bed or miserable trying to explore this fantastic new place. I mustered the energy, courage, and positive mindset to not let the exhaustion from sickness and no sleep ruin my day, and I am grateful. Because we had a day. Walked a mile down the cliff path to another quaint little downtown to get breakfast, hubs took the boys to the toy store while Tessa took a cat nap back at the room, then ventured out in search of sweatshirts for the fam. Then back to the quaint little downtown from breakfast in search of a lobster roll. Found it at a place called Oarweed. I knew it was a calculated risk gambling on seafood again, but it was one I was willing to take. One of the main reasons we wanted to come to Maine. The lobster roll was delish but I definitely paid for it. Judging by fish tacos the night before, and the lobster roll after, I’m guessing it wasn’t just bad luck but I may be onto a new seafood sensitivity? Favorite food. Great. Still rebounded like a champ. Came back to the hotel room and the WHOLE FAMILY took a nap. Luca hasn’t napped in two years. It was glorious! The rest of the day was mostly just bruises being bruises and the bow being a bow. The boys stripped out of their clothes (because, you know, who wears clothes these days anyways?) and paraded around the room naked eating snacks playing hide and seek for a while before we ordered pizza and ice cream for dinner. (All thoughts of dinner out were out the window since I didn’t trust my digestive system.) Remember the instagram-worthy pics from before? Well, these are the reality-worthy pics (and I wish I got more of these because these don’t do it justice):
Night two went off without any climactic hitches (sorry if you were waiting for one). It was too cold to sit out on the porch after the kids went to bed, so it came back to bite us that we were all sharing just one hotel room. Hubs and I basically laid in the dark on our phones so we wouldn’t wake the kids. I was exhausted, so it was fine. We won’t talk about my 9pm snack of cheddar chips and Spindrift seltzer sitting on the bathroom floor (after I cleaned and sanitized it) because it was the only “safe zone” where I could snack in peace without the fear of waking any sleeping child. Other than that, only real thing that happened is, for whatever reason, Tessa sneezed at 4:30am and woke herself up, didn’t go back to sleep, and thus woke everybody else up. I guess there are worse things in the world than an early wake up call. So we made the best of it, caught the sunrise real quick, and hopped in the car to beat the rain home. Home by 10am meant I still had the day to unpack, debrief, and get the house back in order before returning to work tomorrow.
Haha. I guess there really weren’t too many cliche taking-kids-on-a-vacation stories. Maybe those of you who kept scrolling missed out. It was mostly just some mom-moments because I couldn’t steer clear of the seafood and am a functional zombie when operating on no sleep. (But hey, at least I was a happy functional zombie this time around?) And some family-of-five-sharing-a-single-hotel-room stories in which the bruises prefered to be naked most of the time. (But hey, what 4 and 2 year old boys don’t get a kick out of being naked all the time?)
Would I do it again? For sure, 100 percent, without a doubt. The boys. The boys especially. They will be talking about going on vacation to a hotel for years. They will be talking about swimming at the hotel pool for years. They’ll be talking about sleeping in a hotel bed for years. They’ll be talking about picking out toys from the toy store…till we go to the next toy store. Worth it? Worth it!
Moms or Dads whose partners travel for work all the time
Military moms/military dads
Anyone else who spends days and nights on their own caring for kids
Parents and families who live long distances from other immediate family members and support systems
I put this picture up on my Instagram stories last night as a half-joke because my husband’s been on a (one night, one point five day) golf trip this weekend. And I captioned it “Dad’s away for a golf weekend we’re fine I swear.”
In reality, he will have been gone for a total of about 28 hours. Kind of pathetic for me to complain. But whenever he goes away it feels like an eternity. So behind this half-joke picture is a mom whose anxiety is through-the-roof high.
…whose spending the entire time watching the clock and coaching the seconds to tick by just a little faster…
…whose setting the tiniest goals for her own sanity (just make it to nap time, just make it to bedtime)…
…whose engaging in the great mental debate of whether or not to spend the 45 minutes getting the kids ready to leave the house and get out for a bit vs. staying home to avoid all aspects of the real world so no one has to see my single-parenting…
…whose sleeping with all lights inside and outside the house on and the TV on, and actually not really sleeping at all because of the fear of being alone in the house overnight with the kids…
…whose chewing off all of her cuticles and putting bandaids on bloody fingers because it’s the epitome of the manifestation of her anxiety…
Literally my world stops and time stands still because of how much anxiety I have doing this on my own. I am SO grateful that most of the time I get to do this life with my best friend, the greatest dad, and the handiest helper. So I suppose it’s SUPER selfish of me to throw a tantrum when he asks to get away for a little bit, or when he works late nights and has meetings leaving me to handle dinner and bedtime on my own.
I’m not quite sure my whole point in all of this but I think there are a few. First, behind every happy photo or what looks like a put-together mom could be something entirely different. I try not to judge or compare; I know we are all doing our best. And second, I think it’s important to normalize NOT being ok all the time, admitting when you need help (usually I’m the first to call in grandparent reinforcements, it just so happened that this weekend all grandparents were busy!), or letting go of things that aren’t going your way.
And, lastly, I try my best to put mind over matter and keep the most positive outlook, to enjoy the QT with my QTs, to not be afraid of leaving the house because I know it’s better to be out and about playing and interacting with others rather than hiding in my own safe-haven of a home going stir crazy and allowing myself to dwell in my anxiety. Sometimes it goes well and sometimes it goes poorly. But the thing is, it ALWAYS goes. I try and find peace in that.
Bottom line, SO. MUCH. RESPECT. for the people who do this all the dang time. And if that’s you, I hear you and I see you and I feel you. You are a freaking superhero!
What it takes to (semi?) coordinate a 4 year old, 2 year old, 8 month old, and a skeptical husband…
I’ve been itching to do family photos for a while now. The last time we did them (which honestly wasn’t that long ago) was Tessa’s newborn photos. But I feel like those are a little different than normal family photos because Tessa was still a blob, and we were a barely-functional new family of 5. We didn’t have the time or energy to put much into them, so we snapped a few and called it a day. I tried a little harder this time around, but let me tell you, it is still no easy feat to get this family through a 1 hour session of family photos.
I have to start planting the seed with my husband MONTHS in advance. He can be SUCH a grump, so I have to grease the wheels wayyy ahead of time. And originally, I planned a sunset shoot for today (Sunday). Once I had organized it with my photographer (who doubles as my real life friend – what a treat!), I had to text her and say, “OMG Mike will murder me if I make him do family photos in the middle of football Sunday”. So we switched it to a sunrise shoot. He wasn’t too happy about that either but, hey, at least it wasn’t during football.
As it crept closer, I had to start priming him (yes, still referring to the husband). Priming him usually includes trading him a round of golf for a pleasant demeanor DURING the shoot. We’ve spent plenty of family photo shoots bickering aimlessly as we try to get non-smiley kids to smile. It just so happens that yesterday my brother in law asked him to join him in Asbury Park for a golf weekend next weekend. THAT was my ticket in! “Sure babe you can go golfing next weekend IF you promise to be a good sport for pictures tomorrow!”
Now that I had the husband hooked, it was time to focus on the kids. Remember the photographer, my friend, Jen? Listen to this brilliance she sent me last night (and I quote): “Tell the boys and Tessa about Wendy. She’s my friend who lives in my camera, and she whispers to me when she’s so happy with what she sees. And she tells me to tell you when they’ve done an amazing job and should get treats. And if they look hard enough with big enough smiles into the camera they may see her bouncing around. But most of the time she’s shy so she just gives out treats.” Seriously?! GENIUS!!
I exacerbated the Wendy story and decided to tell the kids that Wendy was, in fact, Santa’s special camera helper AND that she’s friends with Elfie (our Elf on the Shelf). So not only would Wendy be magically bringing treats if the bruises smiled hard enough, but she would report back to both Santa and Elfie and their Christmas would depend on it. Too mean of me? NAHHH.
The other thing I told them to hopefully gain their cooperation was that we were going to a farm to take photos. This hooked Dominic, but what I didn’t tell him was that it was NOT an animal farm. Because every farm in his eyes has animals. I knew I only had a certain amount of time once we got there before he realized there were no animals so I was banking on the Wendy thing to come through.
So now we’re at the shoot, and the first thing we realize is Tessa pooped on the drive there. But her outfit is too complicated to try and change her in the middle of a field, so ehh we’ll just manage the shoot with a stinky poop in her diaper no biggie. (And I forgot to mention that, of course, on the day of family photos she wakes up with a booger eye all red and swollen and crusty…great!)
And we’re pulling out alllll the Wendy stops. Luca is so curious about Wendy, he keeps walking as close to the camera as possible to see if he can get a glimpse of Wendy, and is posing like a cute little boy left and right. I quickly realize 4 years old is the PERFECT age for photos.
Tessa is pretty cooperative too. All she needs is Mommy in her foresight and she’s all smiles…booger eye and all.
Meanwhile Dominic is over it after the first 3 snaps. Here comes whiney, vocal-fry Dom just asking when Wendy was going to bring treats. He’s not only over it, he’s legit ignoring it. We get the whole family into position and he’s purposely turning the other way, picking his nose, or putting his hands over his eyes.
So in comes the 3/5ths rule. 3/5ths rule means we can NEVER wait till all 5 of us are photo ready, because it will NEVER happen. Instead, wait until 3/5ths of us are ready and do the best we can. And actually, today, I’d say we hit 4/5ths the majority of the time so I’d call that a win. This is also the reason we can’t just rely on posed photos all of the time. By the end, we just told the boys to run around in the field while Jen snapped photos because the more movement for them, the happier they’d be, and the less annoyed with the camera they’d be.
And it wasn’t until the end that Dominic finally said, “But Mommy this is NOT a farm!” To which I responded. “Aw man, I’m sorry you didn’t like the farm I picked out this time. I’ll pick a better one next time.” And you know what? That response miraculously did not cause a meltdown, he simply shrugged it off and said, “Ok Mommy!”
Mid-shoot, Wendy magically dropped off airheads and rock candy, and one little taste and the boys knew exactly what to do. Luca’s so smart, he would take one picture, ask for a piece of a treat, then take another, ask for another treat (to which we obliged) and so on. He definitely got the most out of Wendy’s treats, and by 9am the bruises were so hopped up on sugar they were running in circles.
Yup, all of this before 9am. And then off to bagels, comfy clothes, and a relaxing football Sunday at home.
Plus, she sent some unedited sneak peaks (in this post!) a few hours later…and they made it all very worth it. I can not wait to see the rest!! ❤
I had a moment last night. A moment of “pinch me am I delirious or is this really happening?”. Felt like it could have been out of an SNL sketch. It was happening. Here’s what happened.
Threw these three into the bath together because Daddy was still in work meetings and Mommy was already running wayyyy past bedtime. Usually the bow gets a bath first by herself and then while mommy puts the bow to bed, the bruises get a bath together. I wasn’t prepared for this, and honestly, I see-sawed between just straight up laughter or parenting meta-moments wondering if I should really be jumping in and being the voice of reason? Or explanation?
Luca started it with “Mommy, me and Dommy have a winky and Tessa has a whoo-whoo!” Just randomly. Like no big lead up and no precursor studying of naked baby bodies before the onslaught of questions and comments. I immediately buckled up.
Dommy: Why does Tessa have a whoo-whoo? Where’s my whoo-whoo?
Me: *Crickets* (I’m too tired for this so I’m sitting there quietly weighing my options for how I want to proceed.)
Luca: Because girls have whoo-whoos and boys have winkies.
(Luca for the win!)
For the record, I tried to explain the appropriate anatomical word for female part and male part a while back, but it never stuck and just made my husband feel awkward (He says it’s weird if they say “vagina”). Who knows, if, to this day, they even know the real scientific words for private parts. But regardless here we are in the middle of bath time tossing around “winkies” and “whoo-whoos” like it’s our job.
Dommy: My winky’s right here! *Furiously pulls on his winky in his best effort to show me…as if I haven’t seen it before…and as if it can detach from his body.*
Luca: Dommy, my winky’s bigger than yours!
Dommy: NO! My winky’s bigger! (Is this a boy thing? Why do they compare winkies so freaking much?)
Luca: *Giggling and pointing* And see that’s Tessa’s whoo-whoo! That’s where her poop comes out!
*Dommy leans down and stares intently at Tessa’s whoo-whoo trying to process that’s where poop comes out, which it is in fact NOT where poop comes out.*
For this fleeting moment in my head I had to think about whether or not I actually wanted to explain the difference between the poop hole and the pee hole but honestly I was so exhausted I just let it go.
And then Luca did it for me.
Luca: My pee comes out of my winky! See! *Begins peeing in bath straight across Tessa (she’s in the middle) towards Dominic and thinks it’s hilarious.*
Dommy: *Looks down at his own winky, which is still submerged in the bathwater (thank goodness – otherwise we would have had criss-crossing fire hoses straight across Tessa).* And I start seeing a stream flowing and now know he is peeing in the bath too, right in Tessa’s direction.
Poor girl is sitting right smack in between her two nutball brothers getting her whoo-whoo scrutinized while being peed on.
So I guess my question is this: That was normal right?! That’s totally what happens when kids start to notice private parts and think potty talk is hilarious. I handled it fine right? Maybe I shouldn’t have put Tessa in the bath with them? But goodness they’re only 4 and 2, that’s fine right? Or is Luca or Dommy going to tell everyone at school that they showed Tessa their winky and they saw her whoo-whoo?! Oh god oh god oh god.
Also, how do I get boys to stop peeing in the bath? And to think it’s gross instead of funny?
And, like, how on earth am I ever going to handle the birds and the bees conversation? Actually, I won’t have to, at least for the boys. Gona make dad handle that one.
I think I’ll just keep bath time separate from now on, that was too much for my exhausted brain at 7:30 at night on a work day. Time for wine. And bed.
It’s September 17, 2020. September 17. Just acknowledging the fact that I’m about to start talking about Christmas and it’s September 17. Too soon? Nah, no such thing.
I wasn’t actually starting to think about Christmas (except if you know me, you DO know I start early…), but I’m participating in an Usborne Books Party on Facebook tonight that got me thinking about this. And aside from the To-Go Packs, The Snow Day Box is my other “best idea I’ve ever had”.
What is it, you ask? Simply put, it is exactly what it is. Santa delivers a box (old Amazon box wrapped in wrapping paper) for each kid filled with snow day activities. I started it last year and will continue it every year for the foreseeable future. It checks all the boxes: Bruises. Bows. Books.
Here’s why: I fill it ONLY with no-tech, developmentally appropriate, play-based literacy, STEM, art, and music supplies. Last year’s boxes for the boys were filled with books, drawing pads, coloring books, learning activities/supplies, new (and fancy!) markers and crayons, craft kits, slime kits, puzzles, stickers. Googly eyes and colored craft sticks and tissue paper and buttons and pom poms and glue. And they ATE. IT. UP. I can’t wait to build Tessa’s box this year.
Some of the stuff we took out and added to our art table right away, like the crayons and markers (needed to replace old ones anyway). But the majority of it stayed in the snow day box, and we only took it out on snow days. It was hard for the bruises – they wanted to take stuff out all the time – but if we did that I knew they’d blow through everything within a day and then have nothing for snow days (which defeats the purpose). And what it did was make room for lots of eager anticipation and excitement for snow days, a lesson in patience (good things come to those who wait), and not because it was a day off from school, but because they not only got to go play in the snow but also spend all day creating and building and crafting and reading…with ZERO (ok maybe there was a teeny bit here or there, but exponentially less than before!) screen time. I went from surviving snow days with movie marathons to enjoying family time doing things that grew our brains!
Want another tip? Doesn’t just have to be snow day boxes. But rainy day boxes or boredom boxes or cool down/calming boxes or quiet time boxes or….when we went into quarantine…I reintroduced an iteration of the snow day box as the learning box or the school-at-home box.
All year long, I’m constantly on the hunt for affordable, smaller items to fill these boxes. I like getting things that double as on-the-go items they can put in their to-go packs. Kill two birds with one stone, you know? I’ve had the most success with a few brands/stores. To bring it full circle, why I started this post, Usborne kills it in this area…regular books, activity books, sticker books, learning books, drawing books. Sooo many different options and the literacy specialist in me just screams! I’ve always preached Melissa & Doug and it rings true in this area too. My kids are big fans of their oversized coloring pads, re-useable sticker books, paint-with-water, and on-the-go sets. And to be honest, I get most of my stuff from the clearance end caps at Home Goods, Marshalls, or TJ Maxx. Found some great mini nat-geo slime kits and gems and rocks kits last year on clearance for three bucks. THREE bucks! For all miscellaneous craft supplies and glue and crayons and markers, Amazon definitely takes the cake.
And just to bring it back full circle one more time…it’s September 17. Hallmark movies are probably starting to play as we speak (EEK!). It’s not too early. Start now, a few bucks a paycheck, and you’ll have plenty to fill a snow day box by Christmas. Happy Christmas shopping!!