Hooked on Play

Let’s talk activities. As parents, we’re always on the lookout for something new to do with out kids, so they’re not spending the entire day indoors. Lately, I made a list of all the places I know of and should take Michael, and honesty, when I take out the list, I feel like it’s the same thing over and over again. And even though he’s a toddler, and just being outdoors is exciting for him, let’s face it, I am the one getting bored. So, I caved in, and downloaded the app “City Moms”, and have discovered many new places to take Michael; most within a 10 mile radius.

I love taking Michael to indoor playgrounds because it gives me peace of mind knowing there aren’t any creepers lurking around. Everyone indoors is either a parent or caregiver, and has paid to get in, so it makes me feel safer having him roam around. So, when I found an indoor playground I hadn’t been to yet, I jumped up for joy and decided to give it a shot.

Hello, the COOP.

This is the first, and only, playground we have been to that is an indoor/outdoor playground. Let me tell you, I was AMAZED! First and foremost, the most important thing that caught my eye was the fact that it was bright, open, and very welcoming. We were greeted by very nice employees who took the time to explain all the rules and conditions to us, since it was our first time. I could probably go on and on and on about this place, but let me limit it down to my 3 favorite aspects.

  1. THE BALL PIT!
    Of all the playgrounds, the COOP has the largest ball pit we’ve seen. The best part?! THE ENTIRE PLAYGROUND IS ADULT FRIENDLY!!! Yes, you heard me, BRING OUT YOUR INNER CHILD! Was I in the ball pit with Michael? Ohhh Yesss! You better believe it! Not only was it large, and clean, but the bright yellow, orange, and white balls were very inviting, and made for some great pictures. There is also a slide that slides down into the ball pit, BONUS!
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  2. OUTDOOR LOUNGE
    Now, with a toddler, 1/2 my diaper bag is always filled with different snacks and water, and maybe even a juice box. When we had been playing around for over an hour and a half, we got a little hungry and needed a break time for some munchies. Forgot your snacks, no worries! the COOP has healthy snacks, juices, water, and coffee available for purchase in the lobby. They simply ask that you enjoy your snacks while seated either in the lobby, or the outdoor lounge where they have picnic tables and small chairs for the little ones.
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  3. TOY SHELVES
    This may be a little of my OCD, but unlike other indoor playgrounds where there are toys everywhere, the COOP has shelves where they store the smaller toys. BRILLIANT!
    Michael saw some drums and a xylophone he wanted to play with, so I took them off the shelf (high enough where a toddler cannot knock it over) and gave it to him to play. When he was done, we put the toys back on the shelves for others to enjoy. The shelves made my top 3 favorite aspect of the COOP because it keeps the smaller toys away from the little kids and keeps the place more organized, which means less tripping hazard for the little ones.

Keep up the great work, the COOP! We will definitely be back to check out your other locations.

 

 

 

Hooked on Flashcards

While looking for some new and interactive activities to do with my toddler, I stumbled upon these flashcards on Amazon, and I knew I had to get a set and give them a try. After getting the first set, and seeing my son’s eyes light up as he got to touch and feel the flashcards (with added sound effects from my husband and myself), I went back and got the entire set for him; each sold separately.
My First Interactive Flashcards

Each set includes roughly 10 flashcards. Also included is an instructions/more ideas card for the parent/caregiver; however, I let my toddler explore the cards on his own and try to say the word in our native language: Armenian.

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Some cards from the “Animals” box

Every single card has at least one part that is touch and feel which is great because it really gets his senses working.

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Some cards from the “First Words” box

The cards are all very bright, colorful, and clearly labeled.
Perfect for Bilingual families since you can use these cards in many different ways.

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Some cards from the “Colors and Shapes” box

If you also use these cards, or something similar, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Am I the only mom who is against smartphones and tablets for their toddlers to play with, or are there other moms/parents out there who would rather spend the time actually interacting with their child.

By the way, did I mention that the back of these cards is even more exciting? It has pronunciations of the words in Spanish, German, French, and Chinese? It also has several questions you can use to make the cards come to life more for your child.

Hands down, one of the best finds on Amazon I’ve had.

Happy teaching, parents,

Hermine-Jane

Hooked on Nesting

Being 30 weeks pregnant, our house is on full mode nesting. From cleaning to organizing, to rearranging the baby’s room, all we’re doing is nesting. It really makes me picture a mama bird flying out, finding the perfect pieces of wood, feathers, and leaves, to make the perfect nest for her egg.

I thought since this is baby #2, it would be easier. NOPE. Not one bit. I know what I want to be done, and I know how I want it to be done, but running around after a toddler all day takes its toll on me. I have learned that making my list, and breaking it down has helped me in the past. For all you moms-to-be, here is my Most Important Categories list of nesting must haves: Sleeping and Feeding.

But first, a picture of Michael helping daddy out during our nesting time.

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  • Sleeping Must Haves

    • Bassinet –since the baby will be in our room for the first couple months, he will be sleeping in his bassinet. We love our Orbit Baby G3 system. The bassinet simply rests on the stroller base, which is capable of turning 360 degrees (hence the name Orbit). Michael slept in the bassinet for a good 4 months, lets see how long our new baby will use it.

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    • Crib — We got the same crib for baby as we did for Michael. The fact that the crib turns into a toddler bed, a twin size bed, and later, a full size bed, is worth every penny. Instead of having to keep changing beds as the kids are getting older, I simply have to change the attachments (which already come with the packaging of the crib). Score!! Why did I get a Crib already? My ideology behind it is the fact that while the baby is taking constant naps, it will be easier for me to put him in the crib and close the bedroom door so Michael can still run around the house and be his 2 year old self.
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    • Graco Pack ‘n Play— This specific item is a toss up because some parents love it and can’t live without it, while other parents think it’s a waste of money and space. I, personally, love it! When Michael grew out of his bassinet, but was still not ready to sleep in his own room quite yet, I put the Pack ‘n Play in my bedroom right next to my bed and continued using it as a bassinet. It functioned as a bassinet, while having tons of space all around him. During the daytime, while the baby is awake, and laying on his back, I will just roll the Pack ;n Play into the family room and always have my eye on him. Yes, it has wheels on 1 end to make for easy transport. Oh, and when I’m done using it as a bed, I can lower the mesh and take it outside and have him play inside the unit. I love items that have more than 1 use.
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  • Feeding Must Haves

    • Pump — You can get a pump either through insurance, or invest in one. I personally love my Medela “Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump”. The pump is hidden in a very convenient tote bag that you can carry around anywhere and no-one will know you’re carrying a pump. It’s powerful, pretty quiet, and highly recommended by any of the nurses that I spoke with during my hospital stay. Pump In Style® Advanced
    • Bottles— Since every baby is different, the bottles that worked well with the first baby may not work with the second baby. I have several different types of bottles ready to see which one baby will like best. I suggest getting 2-3 different brands to see which one your baby thrives on most.
    • Formula — I don’t know why, but every time I mention “formula” in public, women look at me and shake their heads. Why do other women judge when a mom uses the word formula? I mean, I understand that ‘breast is best’, but what if I am unable to breastfeed, or my child can’t latch on properly, or my breastmilk isn’t enough for my child? After all, isn’t “Fed is best” better than a starving child? I can go on and on and on about this topic because Michael wasn’t able to latch on, but I was somehow able to pump for him for 7 months. Even with pumping, and solid food being introduced around his 5th month, I felt he was still hungry. When I went out to buy formula for the first time, a pregnant woman came up to me and said, “You should really consider breastfeeding. It’s best for your child.” Consider breastfeeding? Really? I simply looked at her and said,

      “I hope for your child’s sake you have a more open mind when he or she is born because formula can actually save your child’s life if you can’t give them the ‘best’. I’d rather my child have a full stomach on formula, than be starving because my breastmilk isn’t enough for him. Good luck with your baby.”

      and I walked away with the two biggest containers of formula in my arms.

There are many other things I am doing to nest and prepare for baby’s arrival, but these two categories are my top priorities. While I can be stocking up on blankets, diapers, wipes, etc, I feel these small tasks will all fall in place when the time is right. If it happens that I need to make a #TargetRun, it’s ok. It will be an excuse to get out of the house: even if it is for a brief 30 minutes.

Happy Nesting, mamas!
Hermine-Jane