Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Good Clean Fun

This afternoon, we turned Noah's water table into a sensory table (& then back to a water table) with some good old fashioned shaving cream! I had him start with just shaving cream and then added water to one side. It worked out really nicely since the water table needed a good cleaning anyhow. :)

While we were out there, I cut some colorful sponges into strips with the intent of making splash "balls". Noah took interest in them so I added them to the water and shaving cream & he had a lot of fun exploring their fun textures and easy to grip size.

Before we called it quits, I decided to squirt a little shaving cream on the sliding glass windows. They needed washing anyhow....

- J

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

First Day of Preschool!

Today was our first day in the toddler class at RPEP! It's a once-a-week "parent & me" class that Noah & I will be going to this year. I am really excited about the playful learning environment & we are looking forward to making some new friends (big & small) at school!

School starts with some outdoor play time. Noah was all about the kitchen.

He did take a break to climb the stairs though. :)

Back to the kitchen...It's a little dark, but it was too cute to see a bunch of little boys in their red RPEP shirts, playing in the kitchen!

After herding the group inside for circle time, the kids were set free for a little over an hour of free-choice play time. This part of the day is totally child-led & as parents, we are just expected to follow and engage with our children. I wasn't sure if Noah would be one to stay in one place or want to explore and do EVERYTHING. He chose the latter. See if you can keep up....

First we started with the dotters. He really wanted to figure out how the paint came out, so he spent some time pushing on the tips & watching the ink dribble down his arm. Fun stuff you know!

After the dotters, he painted a masterpiece, tasted the paintbrush, and mixed up lots of colors (again). I'm sure you can understand why there is no picture of that period of time, as I too, was covered in paint. :)

Next up, the dramatic play room. A little time with a baby doll, cooking in the kitchen, and then we were off! To....

...the bridge! Up, down, up, down....

Then we had to check out the reading nook. Just right!

Next up, we took a quick feel with the playdough. But that didn't last long because...

...there was shaving cream! Whoa....what IS this stuff?

Next up, shaving cream + spray bottles + squeegee = fun! Oh & we are barefoot because we took a minute to test out Miss Myra's bucket of beans. He wasn't too sure about all of those beans between his toes, but mom thinks it would be really relaxing! Maybe next time...

Off to another sensory table - dry split peas I believe. Feels cool!

Then we discovered the snack room. After pouring some of our own water and ALMOST making it into our mouth, we chowed down on some "nonnies" & rice cakes. Yum!

After finding our shoes and helping with clean up (Noah helped with a little broom), we got to go back outside.

Aha! A shopping cart! (& a Target one at that...mommy approves!)

The bubble table was a hot spot!

Phew! Are you tired? So was Noah. Mommy had time to type this because he's still sleeping....2 hours and counting!

We REALLY love school! :-)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Noah the ArtBeast

It started like any good day...Starbucks for Mommy & Nana, and then next door to my bagel shop (Noah's Bagels).

Good stuff. After all, with my name on it, how could it not be fabulous?

When we arrived at ArtBeast Studio, I had a hard time deciding what to do first. One of my first masterpieces became the painting wall:

I was really good at mixing colors.

Nana played with the Moon Sand with me. I'm not sure who enjoyed it more. Tough call.

Then it was off to the indoor fort. This thing was really cool - it took up the whole room! I had a blast climbing up the ramp to the "kids only" loft. I spent quite a bit of time up there playing with the baby-dolls.

Here we are in the toddler room. Nana was playing with me - see those legs sticking out over there? She was trying to get me to climb through but I was having none of it. Sorry, Nana.

I loved the piano downstairs in the dramatic play room. Just call me Beethoven!

We needed a break after all of this playing (read: Noah needed a NAP) so we left ArtBeast for a little while. After a nap, we took a short trip to IKEA. I had a little too much fun with the Noah-size sink and automatic sensor faucet in the family bathroom at IKEA.

As you can see, I was quite pleased with myself.

After lunch, we went back to ArtBeast because your entrance fee is good for an all day pass. (Note: Don't tell my Nana that without expecting her to make good use of said day pass!)

Anyhow, we went out to the outdoor play area when we got back. I made some mud pie, gave some babies a bath....

...and made some music with all of the hanging pots & PVC pipes. It was super fun!

Art Beast was really cool! I can't wait to go again! Who wants to join me?

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Trip to the Library

This morning we had Music Together class, and the 25 minute drive to get there (or back) usually results in at least one "car nap". This time he held on until after class. Instead of going straight home, I decided to stop at the library once he was awake. We have an awesome local library with an incredible outdoor play area that is perfect for toddlers. A new "big kid" area is currently under construction, too. It is one of our current go-to places.

The outdoor play area is really fun for Noah these days, but today was the first time I've taken him inside since he reached "walker" status. They have a beautiful children's area with a blue sky & white cloud painted wall, a big shady tree, a train table, play kitchen, magnetic & felt easel, and a great bead-roller-coaster thingy (what are those things called anyhow??). Here are some pics of Noah exploring the library:

Noah goes "shopping". He's really into pushing things. Twice he followed one of the librarians around to "help" her push the book cart.

Checking out the tree area...still shopping:

Noah repeatedly came back to this toy horse. I'm certain he thought it was a dog. He approached it like he does with our dogs at home, gently trying to pet it, all while practically shrieking "Daaaa--EEEE!", as if telling it, "You're a dog! Act like one!" If there had been a ball, he probably would have thrown it for him. :)

Cooking & washing in the kitchen:

Playing with the train table:

Actually trying to put the train car on the bridge:

- J

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

$10k on World Water Day!?!?!?!

It's World Water Day! Have you helped The Adventure Project reach our $10,000 goal??? We only have about $1500 to go!!!!!!! When we make it, The Prem Rawat Foundation will match it, doubling the impact!

Please click here to make a donation on my donation page, or here to go to the general donation page. THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT and for making a difference in the lives of thousands! I feel so honored to have played a small role in this day.

Friday, March 18, 2011

WWJD on WWD '11?

That's right folks, I busted out the W.W.J.D. ("What Would Jesus Do?" in case you're new to the planet.) - but what is WWD you ask? It stands for World Water Day and it is coming up this Tuesday, March 22nd.

Globally, 1 out of 8 people lacks access to clean drinking water. This simple fact is the root cause for the deaths of upwards of 4,000 children a year due to diarrhea-related illnesses - that's more than AIDS, malaria, & measles combined. It was those startling facts that fueled my interest in the water crisis two years ago when my 5th grade class took on a service learning project that benefitted the Water for Schools campaign with charity:water, a non-profit that is fighting the global water crisis by building freshwater wells. I first became aware of the dire need for access to clean drinking water around the world thanks to Becky Straw, one of Joel's closest friends from high school, and now one of mine, too. At the time, Becky was working for charity:water, but she has since gone on to an even bigger and better endeavor. Along with friend Jody Landers, Becky co-founded The AdVENTURE Project, a non-profit aimed at ending global poverty in our lifetime.

Each quarter, The AdVENTURE Project focuses on one humanitarian issue affecting global poverty, & then they find low-cost, high-impact, innovative solutions. This quarter, TAP is partnering with WaterAid for the Keep It Clean Campaign to benefit WaterAid's well-mechanics program in India. It's an amazing program that trains men AND women how to fix the 1/3 of all freshwater wells that are broken. You can read more about it here or here. Below is a picture of Ram Rati, one of the first women employed through the well-mechanics program. When needed, she straps her tools on to her bike, and rides to do her job. Talk about a hero!

So, when I was approached to be a part of typeTAP for World Water Day, I jumped at the chance! typeTAP is a first of its kind fundraising and awareness campaign being promoted by bloggers. I was asked to be a part of the core team to get the ball rolling. I feel honored to have been asked despite the fact that I think I'm barely worthy of the "blogger" title. I may not be able to globe-trot to get involved in finding solutions for the world's inequities, but I can definitely do this!

The goal was originally to get 50 bloggers on board that would dedicate their blog post on Tuesday, March 22nd, to World Water Day . We have already exceeded that number! Last I checked, the count stood at 70. The new goal is 100 blogs by Tuesday. I know we can do it. If you have a blog and want to get involved, please click here. No blog? No problem! Make your own fundraising page here, and share it via email, Facebook, or Twitter!

Now, the key here is that each blogger has an audience. If each blogger could motivate 20 of their readers to donate $5, or 100 readers to donate $1, or 10 readers to donate $10....that would be $10,000. In. One. Day. Amazing!!!

But it gets even better....on Friday, Becky got a call that makes all of this even more incredible. If we can get 100 bloggers to raise $100 each within 24 hours on March 22nd, The Prem Rawat Foundation is going to MATCH it. We now have a chance to raise $20,000 in 24 hours to benefit the Keep It Clean campaign, making it possible to fix broken wells and turn water back on for approximately 600 people each month!

Now....who's with me? Will you help me make a difference for hundreds of people in India this World Water Day? Because you can. Click here to make a donation. Repost this on Facebook or Twitter. Email a link to family and friends. It's that easy.

And WWJD on WWD? I'm thinking He would be all over this. :) In a way, He totally is.

- J

His Very Own Corner of the Universe

Woohoo! Little N's room is finally "complete". After we moved, we never got around to hanging all of the decorative pieces as I had envisioned. It's a rainy day today, N is at Grandma Emilie & Grandpa Ken's, & Joel has the day off. Today had "project day" written ALL over it!

Here is the view from the door. Still sorting out window covering options. The trio of skinny windows is killing me! :) I do love the book racks that I found at Home Goods. They look just like the Pottery Barn Kids one that I wanted. Noah LOVES books and I love that we can display them in the shelves!

I love the letters & the decals that match his bedding. They worked out perfectly!

Notice the coordinating changing pad on the beautiful changing table/dresser. Please note that that has not been used in MONTHS. We gave up once he started pulling himself up to sitting during diaper changes & trying to scale the blinds like a ladder. The floor/bed/ottoman are safer and easier for everyone. :)

In case you are wondering, yes, the mattress is totally slanted. After the month-of-congestion (aka January/February), we just left it like that for the time being. At least we aren't running the humidifier 24/7 like we did for a few weeks!

I'm so excited that it's "done". Huge relief! I hate having loose ends everywhere, but if I have learned anything in the past year, that's just life when you're a parent!

- J

Monday, February 21, 2011

Mama's Top Ten, er, Twelve

So I have been thinking about posting a top 10 favorite mother/baby items list for awhile now. I feel like I learned so much from other moms about what was useful for them (and what wasn't) that I figured I should share what has been most useful for me! They might not be 'must haves' for anyone else, but they have been for me!

1. BOB
As in, the BOB Revolution jogging stroller. Now you may be thinking, oh, I didn't know she jogged.... well I don't. Which is why I avoided the hype and didn't bother taking a close look at this stroller at first. We started with the Chicco Cortina travel system. I used the stroller while Noah was still in the infant seat, but since he hated his infant seat, I didn't use it much. And, he outgrew the infant seat by 4 months so that stroller is collecting dust in our garage. I replaced that stroller with a Zooper Twist - a glorified umbrella stroller that I bought from Costco.com. I do love that stroller, but it's not built for a lot of walking and both Joel and I constantly kicked the back of it while we pushed it. Annoying. Finally I started lusting after a BOB. When we broke down and bought one in December, I was so mad at myself for waiting so long! If I could do it all over again, I'd have bought an infant car seat ala carte and then bought the BOB and the car seat adapter and been done with it! It's THAT worth it. Maybe someday, I'll even jog with it. But for now, it turns on a dime, making shopping a breeze. Noah loves it, making me happy and stress free. Joel is a big fan, too, and neither of us kick the back of it anymore. Oh, and it passed the Disneyland test with flying colors! We didn't even need a locker for our all day stay in cold weather! So, my stroller advice is to cough it up and get the BOB right out of the gate. But that's just what I'd do.

2. The Ergo Baby Carrier
I could not live without my Ergo. I wish I had learned how to use it with N as an infant (there are different instructions)! It is so much more comfortable than the Bjorn. We loved the Bjorn, & N did enjoy facing out, but as N sped towards the 20 lb. mark, it was not comfortable to wear! The Ergo became a DAILY necessity once N graduated to the convertible car seat. Every quick trip out of the car with a wiggly 4 month old became a hands-free, near-heavenly experience. I have used the Ergo probably every day since. It is comfortable and N loves it. I use it almost every time I get out of the car, and even sometimes around the house when I need to get things done and N needs some cuddle time. Any product that gets used every day for 7 months is worth it's weight in gold! And, we are far from the 40 lb. weight limit - yippee! Oh and be aware that the Ergo has multiple position carries - front, back, and side.

3. Glider
I have spent hours - no, days - silently rocking in the Dutalier glider and ottoman that my mom gave me. It is where I have spent some of the happiest moments as a new mom, rocking and nursing my baby, getting to know him and enjoying his every breath! It's comfortable and we have both spent plenty of hours sleeping in that chair! If you've gotten an email, text, or Facebook message from me in the past 12 months, it was probably sent from my phone while sitting in that chair! :-) I could not live without it. I love that it has a high back so that my head doesn't flop when I want to study the backs of my eyelids, too.

4. Glamourmom Tanks & Undercover Mama tanks
It can safely be stated that I have utterly lived in Glamourmom tank tops over the past year. As a nursing mom, they were the first comfortable option I found. They are great layering pieces and I wear them most days under other shirts or with hooded sweatshirts. Maybe not the most glamorous (despite the name!), but they are far better than the Target brand I started with or most of the awkward and uncomfortable nursing bras I tried on. Recently, I also discovered Undercover Mama tanks. They hook on to your nursing bra and provide the same functionality as the Glamourmom Tanks, but for less money. :-) Either way, it's nice to be able to nurse your baby without worrying about showing off the post-baby belly - or in colder months, you won't have to endure such drafty conditions when nursing!

5. Hooter Hider
The name speaks for itself! I enjoyed the Hooter Hider days....N doesn't like having anything over his head now because he is FAR too interested in what is going on outside of the 'feeding tent', but it was nice while it lasted! Hungry baby? Hooter Hider to the rescue! I never left home without it.

6. Medela Sleep Bra & GAP Nursing Sleep Shirt
Babies nurse at all hours (well mine does at least). That means nursing friendly pajamas are a necessity! I've literally worn the Medela Sleep Bra every night over the last year (don't worry, I have a few). Once it got cold, I needed something to keep me from freezing at night. Enter GAP's Nursing Sleep Shirt. Super comfy!

7. Johnson's Nursing Pads
I tried all of the other major brands. They felt like plastic and were totally visible under my shirt. The Johnson & Johnson's Nursing Pads are inexpensive, absorbent, discreet, and comfortable. Target carries them, but I don't usually see them at Babies R Us.

8. Pacifier Wipes
The First Years Pacifier Wipes are great for dropped pacifiers, teethers, toys, bottles, sippy cups.... you get the idea! Oh, and the package makes a GREAT distraction 'toy' during diaper changes.

9. California Baby
We love the California Baby line of products! It doesn't contain toxins and after a Health class I had to take last year while 7 months pregnant, I really value that! I was especially happy to find out that their SPF 30 Sunscreen Lotion is safe to use early on and does not contain chemicals. The Super Sensitive shampoo & body wash smells delicious and we love their Calendula Cream, Diaper Area Wash, and Bug Repellent, too!

10. Pack'n'Play and/or Co-Sleeper
How does one live without a Pack'n'Play? We take it with us to act as N's bed-away-from-home anytime we travel. It is also a safe place to plop a newly mobile child when you have to use the bathroom! :-) We also have an Arm's Reach Co-sleeper which we love. It has the same features as a Pack'n'Play (converts to a play yard or bassinet), but it also attaches to the adult bed for safe co-sleeping until baby reaches 30 lbs. or rolls over. We loved having the co-sleeper and we really miss how well N slept in his own sleeping space, next to Mama & Daddy! The only downside to the Arm's Reach is that it is much heavier and a little harder to take down and put up. Apparently, Carter's makes a 'pack-n-play' with a 30 lb. bassinet weight limit (like the Arm's Reach), which I would have liked a lot since the Graco ones have a 15 lb. bassinet weight limit. However, the Graco Pack'n'Play with Newborn Napper was awesome. N slept in the Newborn Napper right next to our bed for the first 6 weeks of his life! It was perfect for us.

11. Miracle Blanket
We miss the Miracle Blanket. It was so good while it lasted! :-) N slept like a CHAMP in the Miracle Blanket. We wish they made them in toddler size....there is no better swaddle than the Miracle Blanket! It's too bad that the swaddle days don't last longer! The Miracle Blanket was definitely one of the best gifts we received so I try to make sure to share the tip with others and give them as gifts myself!

12. Boppy and/or Brest Friend Nursing Pillow
While I'm sure regular pillows would do the trick, I loved having one of the nursing pillows with me whenever I nursed until N got bigger. In the early weeks, I kept the Boppy by the bed. In the middle of the night, I'd sit up against the headboard, place the Boppy pillow around my waist, and reach over to the co-sleeper to pick up the hungry baby. I can't imagine having to hold him up and nurse in such a sleepy state! I also spent a lot of time in the recliner in our living room with the Boppy on my lap. The Brest Friend Pillow is helpful, too. It actually straps around your waist and adds to the support so you aren't throwing your shoulder out trying to position baby!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Apple Hill & Fog Willow

I have always loved the fall season, especially here in Northern California. The autumn colors are beautiful and there are so many great activities to do! This year, we made a trip to Apple Hill in September. It was a little early and pretty warm, but still fun and an overall great experience with Noah. In October, we went to Fog Willow Pumpkin Patch to pick out pumpkins for Halloween. The weather was cool and there were plenty of pumpkins to look at. Noah had fun riding in the pumpkin wagon and we got some great pictures!

Apple Hill

Noah loved the train at El Dorado Farms. He even pulled himself to a standing position for the first time when we got on!

Apple Hill 3

Apple Hill 5

Apple Hill 1

Apple Hill 6

Apple Hill 8

Apple Hill 9

Apple Hill 16

Apple Hill 18

Apple Hill 20

Apple Hill 23

Apple Hill 24

Apple Hill 12

Fog Willow

Noah in the pumpkins 8

Noah in the pumpkins 12

Noah in the pumpkins 4

Noah in the pumpkins 11

Noah in the pumpkins 10

Noah in the pumpkins 15

Noah in the pumpkins 6