Thursday, December 17, 2009

Laptime Songs for Mommies

Laptime Songs for Mommies

It's here! It's finished! And I'm so excited to share my joy with you! My very first eBook is finished and ready for purchase. Laptime Songs for Mommies captures the essence of Musical Development, which is combining the melody of familiar songs with traditional and new variations of lyrics. Music is a great way to bond with your little one as well as a way to keep kids active and engaged. Having the right tools makes your part easier and maximizes the benefits for your little one.

Laptime Songs for Mommies includes
  • Full-Color, Interactive PDF
  • Intro to Laptime, including explanations of development and adaptations with little ones
  • 6 Traditional Songs
  • Over 50 Rhymes
  • 4 Original Rhymes Written Just For This Book
  • 4 Themes or Topics for a Complete Laptime Experience
  • 4 Craft Ideas with 3 Printables
As a bonus, I've also included a printable version of the book that has all the color removed and the graphics minimized to help save on ink. There's also the MP3 version of each song included in the book.

I'm really excited that this project came together so nicely and is finally all the way finished. I'd love to hear what you think of it. Go check it out!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Biggest Loser Week #2

At the second weigh in this week I lost another almost 2 pounds! That makes a total of 6 pounds so far. I love the accountability of the scale every week and looking my team members in the eye to tell them how I did. Definitely helps when I want to eat the entire batch of No Bake Cookies I made for Brent to celebrate surviving his first test in medical school! We got our T-shirts this week! I love the yellow because it's cheery and energizing.

The meeting this week was interesting, too. One speaker gave information about a study on sleep. They looked at how the body is affected by the amount of sleep we get each night. They found that 30 years ago people got an average of 8 hours a night (wouldn't THAT be heaven!) and 1 in 10 adults were in the obese category. Now the average is 6 hours of sleep a night (that would still be heaven!) and 1 in 3 adults is in the obese category. Wow!

Then a lady spoke who has lost 200 pounds over the last four years. She shared her story focusing on what got her to decide it was worth the work it takes to change. Four years ago she weighed 350 pounds and now she teaches Disco aerobics at a local gym. Amazing!

My goal this week is to step up the intensity of my workouts. I DVR'd an exercise program on FitTV that is 30 minutes long and does warm-up and cool-down with Tai Chi and the intense part is aerobic kickboxing. Super fun! There's also a 3 mile trail (6 miles roundtrip) that I want to walk and then eventually be able to run. Hopefully I'll keep myself so busy I won't have time to poke around the kitchen for snacks.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Snack Time

The standard education parents get about how much their children should eat goes something like this: "They will eat until they're full." So, based on that I kept giving my oldest food as long as she kept eating. After her third or fourth helping I started to wonder if she'd ever get full! She has also consistently been in the 99th percentile for weight (and, fortunately the 95-98th percentile for height) so I've had to re-evaluate the standard education because my daughter is not standard. She's a bottomless pit!

All day long she asks, "Can I have a snack?" I seriously regret ever using the word snack in the first place. Although I'm sure something else would have taken its place. So I am constantly trying to create ways to lengthen snack time and choose snacks that are filling but lower in calories. Here are some solutions that have worked for us and are quite fun, too!

To lengthen snack time I look for ways to prolong the eating. This gives her tummy a chance to tell her brain she's full. I keep anything that has small sections, like an egg carton. I cut it down so it only has 4 or 6 sections. Then I put a couple of each snack into a compartment. For example, I put 2-3 grapes in one, 2 pretzels in another, her chewable vitamins in a third, 3-4 dried blueberries in the fourth. She gets really excited watching me put the snack tray together. Then we sit down at the table and visit as she eats. I ask her questions and help her remember to swallow before talking. We talk about what she'll choose next, what she likes most, what color the snacks are, how many are in each, how many different snacks, etc.

Sammi's all-time favorite, though, is Easter egg hunting. The Easter eggs from last year have been a regular toy around our house. I fill each egg with just 2 of a snack. Then I hide the eggs around the room, give Sammi a basket and let her find them. If I really want to drag it out, I only let her eat one egg then we hide them all again. We continue hiding/finding until either she's bored or the eggs are all empty. While this is a ton more work and I don't always feel like it, it has been a great way to slow down her eating and get her moving in the meantime.

Here's to fun, healthy snack times everywhere!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star Crafts

I've noticed lots of people searching for crafts to do with Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and thought today would be a perfect day to share the ones that have been a huge success at our house.

Star on a Stick Craft
Cut out 2 star shapes from heavy paper.
Have little one decorate the stars: color, glitter, buttons.
Glue one star on each side of a craft stick.

Starry Night Craft
Cut out bits of yellow construction paper. These are the "stars."
Put drops of glue on a piece of dark blue construction paper.
Have little one place yellow "stars" on top of the drops of glue.

Star Mobile Craft
Cut out various sizes of stars from heavy paper.
Have little one decorate stars in different ways.
Punch a hole in the top of each star.
Use plastic department store-style hanger that spins and tie stars to the arms of the hanger.

What are your favorite crafts that accompany Twinkle Twinkle Little Star?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

My Chance to Be the Biggest Loser!

**There are only two reality TV shows I like to watch: The Biggest Loser and So You Think You Can Dance. Last week's season finale of So You Think You Can Dance coincided with the first night of a local church's Biggest Loser competition. I went back and forth about whether I should participate. Then I found out you had to be in teams of at least 4 and I hesitated even more. But, things worked out, I found my team, and I started this journey last week on Thursday.

The first week they took all of our measurements. From weight and inches to fat percentage and blood pressure. We picked a team name (Dedicated DCOM Dieters-since we were all associated somehow with the medical school) and our shirt color (yellow to keep us cheery and motivated!)

I spent the week being more aware of my diet and cutting out bedtime treats and finding ways to include exercise in my day. I ran with Brent, walked/ran with teammates, and found Belly Dancing of FitTV. Overall, I felt pretty good about the seek. Then the night before the weigh in we ate at a pizza joint in town and I felt yucky all night. The food was good, but my body told me it was not healthy. I was so worried I'd killed my goal. I had spent all week chanting "3 pounds, 3 pounds" whenever I wanted to eat a cookie or a bowl of ice cream and I was afraid I'd blown it.

But as it turns out, I was okay! I was by no means the biggest loser of the week (that was 8.34% body weight lost) or the highest number (20 pounds!) but I beat my goal! I lost 4.5 pounds and it felt great! I'm so glad I've committed myself to this competition because I have accountability, teammates and a clear goal. Now I've shared it with you so I'm even more committed to stick with it until I reach my goal! I'll report again next Saturday.

**Brent has such a knack for making me look so short! This is a picture taken over the summer and best represents how I look on a daily basis. Anyone want to nominate me for TLC's What Not To Wear? I'd totally love it!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Physical Friday: Standing Before Walking

The photo-elusive (took 23 pics to get this one!) Elli has picked up a new trick this week. She has started standing up from a squatted position. Last week she stood up holding on to me and then let go for a few milliseconds, but this week it's entirely about balance!

The first time she stood for a long time she happened to have a pair of child-safety scissors in her hand. I know, I know, I'll have to review my own guidelines for teaching children how to use scissors. I was so excited to see how long she could stand without losing her balance, but I was also worried about hose scissors. In the end I didn't disturb her and just waited for her to sit again before I promptly removed the scissors from her hand. I wasn't about to run for the camera at that point!

This morning we made a stop at the Harrogate City Hall (I'll explain that in a future post) and the two gals that were there thought Elli was just so cute. So to get their attention, Sammi started telling them how Elli is learning to stand. She did a perfect re-enactment that made us all smile. Then Elli caught wind of what was going on so she promptly joined the attention seeking and started to stand up. She did it great the first time. The gals oohed and ahed which encouraged Elli to do it again. She had such a grand time that she kept losing her balance as she giggled and hid her head in the floor. It was performance at its best!

While this is probably the norm (to stand before walking) it's a new development path in this house. When Sammi was about 14 months she started walking. I remember starting to wonder if Sammi would really ever walk. She seemed so old and so heavy! But she did it. The first time we left her with a sitter, no less. But she propelled herself by momentum. If she lost her balance or ran out of steam, she fell right over. She didn't learn how to just stand until she'd been walking for well over a week. However children do it and whenever they decide it's time, they'll get it eventually!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Thinking Thursday: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler

What distinguishes a baby from a toddler? A toddler from a preschooler? These are the hard-hitting questions on Sammi's mind these days. We have spent hours talking about every child she knows from newborn up to 5 year olds in depth so she can figure out which group they belong to. This has been a challenge for me, too. While it's easy to say that a baby becomes a toddler when they begin to walk, it's much harder to define the cutoff between toddler and preschooler.
It's been a fascinating process, though, watching Sammi come up with all kinds of rules about why some friends are toddlers and other friends are preschoolers and why her sister is a baby. One of my favorites was when she asked if Suede (her 2-year-old gal pal) was a toddler because she's shorter than Sammi. This strikes me as funny because most of the preschoolers she's played with are also shorter than her {she is in the 99th % for height} so it's not a valid guide.
She runs through the categories and her friends over and over again approaching each child and their category from every angle trying to make sure she really understands why this child is in this category. We talk about age, height, diapers vs. underwear, talking.

Category development begins in infants as they associate events and objects with repeated exposure. At first the categories are very simple: animals, cars, people I know, strangers.But as these categories become more established, toddlers are able to ad more detail to the categories and subdivide them into relate groups: animals becomes dogs, cats, cows, birds, fish. Sammi's at a fun stage where she is no longer passively learning the rules for different categories but is pushing the limits and asking questions to find out who fits in which category and why.

Categories help children learn information. As new information is presented, it's easier to process and remember if the child has old info to connect the new info to. The more we talk about these categories, the firmer they become established for our children, building for them a solid framework that will capture, connect and hold new information.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

School Prep Reading That's Fun!

Back to school is my favorite time of year. The weather starts to cool down; I get to buy new boxes of crayons, notebooks of paper and pretty pencils; and school begins. I'm sort of a nerd. I recognize that and have even learned to embrace it. I love school. I love new books; I love learning; and sometimes I even love homework!

Since the girls are still too young to really embrace the back to school frenzy, I do what I can to get them excited about buying crayons and learning about things related to school. That's why I was really excited for the chance to review I'm Your Bus by Marilyn Singer published by Scholastic. Sammi was so excited when it arrived in the mail.

Sammi loves buses. For over a year now she has talked endlessly about when she'll get to ride a bus to school. One day she even went to far as to tell me all the rules of riding on a bus and that she would help the bus driver tell the other kids to follow the rules! When she saw we had a book with a giant school bus on the front, she was ecstatic. She dropped everything she was doing and wanted to read it right away.

I'm happy to say that the book didn't disappoint. It's written in rhyme and introduces all the different times kids ride the bus as well as different aspects of the school day. Sammi loved that it gave names for the children riding the bus. She points to the different kids and asks who is who. She also likes to read the marquee on the buses on the different pages.

I liked the rhyme scheme because it's not your typical four line rhyme. It has three lines in a row that rhyme and then the next two lines are like the chorus ending with "I'm your bus." I've enjoyed reading it with her again and again. It's given us something concrete to hold and look at as we've talked about the unknown that is school.

It's fun to see Sammi get excited about school. She's just aching to go. I finally found a "preschool" program I'm comfortable with here. I can take her just two days a week for about 2 1/2 hours. She's so excited to start and I'm interested to see how she adjusts to spending that kind of time away from home on such a frequent basis.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tri-State Peak and Pinnacle Overlook

We've had so much fun exploring the mountain tops of Tennessee! We live right on the edge of Cumberland Gap National Park where there are oodles of trails, overlooks, historical sites and beautiful scenery.

One of our first weekends here we hiked from Cumberland Gap (the historic town) up to the Tri-State Peak where we were able to be in Tennessee, Virginia and Kentucky all at once. The trail was decent in difficulty, but Brent definitely won the gold star for pushing the jogging stroller up it with two kids in tow. There is no way I can hike that trail with the girls and not Brent! Along the way we saw The Iron Furnace which produce 3 1/4 ton iron in a day. We also saw a marker indicating we were on the Daniel Boone trail. Now there's an historical figure I'm excited to learn more about!
Then a few Sundays ago we decided to enjoy a beautiful drive up to Pinnacle Overlook where you can see the whole Cumberland Gap valley. While we knew we were going up to a pinnacle, we were surprised by how tight the road curved as it wound its way to the top. Boy was I glad I was driving! {Nothing to do with Brent's driving, I just get ridiculously motion sick unless I'm the one driving.} The view from the overllok was beautiful. We had fun spotting familiar landmarks like Brent's school and the road we drive home on. The whole affair would have been so much more enjoyable if we had remembered the diaper bag to save Elli from that stinky diaper! She was a trooper, though, poor thing.

Last night we decided to join a family back up to Pinnacle Overlook. This time we walked the loop around the parking lot and came across the Cannon at Fort Lyon. This park is full of history just begging to be discovered around every turn and inviting us to climb in and through and feel that history come alive.

We have loved the quick and convenient acces we have to such wonderful trails. I just learned that a trail begins close to our house and continues, paved and through a tunnel!, for 3 miles to the Iron Furnace (mentioned above). My new fitness goal is to be able to walk and then run the entire length of the trail and then back to the car. I walk/ran a mile section of the trail yesterday before we hiked around the Pinnacle Overlook, in 90 degree weather! Hopefully I'll reach this goal by Thanksgiving.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Musical Monday: Grown Ups' Musicians, Children's Music

Do you ever get tired of your children's music? Sammi has two CDs she absolutely loves. They are pretty much the only two she'll listen to. One is Mickey Mouse characters singing songs and the other is a CD of short songs like Three Blind Mice and London Bridges. They are both really fun and I admit that I enjoy them. Most of the time. But every once in a while I long for the days of listening (uninterrupted) to the radio and hearing grown up music.

One day Brent came home from the library with a CD that was the answer to this dilemma. For the Kids is a collection of our favorite musicians performing children's music. Some of it's familiar tunes like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (although this version takes the cake and makes me want to take singing lessons just so I can sing like them!) and others are not the traditional "kids" songs you're used to hearing. Brent and I love listening to this album even when the girls are sleeping in the car!

We've recently introduced Sammi to this CD and she also loves it. Her favorite song is The Hoppity Song by Five For Fighting. My favorite energetic song is Snow Day by Bleu and my favorite lullaby is Willie the King by Dan Wilson, although it is quite sad. Now when Sammi asks to listen to kids' music, I can turn this on and we're both happy.

For the Kids*
1. Mahna Mahna- Cake
2. La La La La Lemon - Barenaked Ladies
3. The Rainbow Connection - Sarah McLachlan
4. I've Got To Be Clean - Guster
5. Wonderwheel - Dan Zanes
6. Have a Little Fun - Glen Phillips
7. The Hoppity Song - Five For Fighting
8. My Flying Saucer - Billy Bragg & Wilco
9. It's All Right To Cry - Darius Rucker
10. Sing - Ivy
11. Bright Eyes - Remy Zero
12. Willie The King - Dan Wilson
13. Snow Day - Bleu
14. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star - Chantal/Raine Maida
15. Good Night Children Everywhere - Sixpence None The Richer
16. Bend Down The Branches - Tom Waits
*Clicking on links to individual songs will open iTunes.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Thinking Thursday: I See...

A favorite game we invented last year we named "I see..." It's a lot like I spy... but without the guessing. I love this game because we can play it anywhere, inside or out, and it has helped to avert many tantrums! It started when I was pushing Sammi in the swings at the park. We were swinging in silence. To break the silence I said to her, barely two at that time, "I see trees" and she responded "I see trees, too!" We proceeded to name all the things in the park.

The next day when we played it she didn't copy what I said, she found her own things to see! After about six months of playing this game, whenever we are driving in the car and it's silent she pipes up "I see ..." We were driving home one day and as we came around the corner onto our street Sammi said, "I see our mailbox!" I'm always impressed with the details she spots out the window that I miss because I'm looking at the road.

This game also helped us a lot as we drove from Utah to Tennessee. We went through lots of different landscapes and it was fun to find new things and familiar things. We also used it as a way to help her identify the country from the cities we passed through.

While this game is a lot of fun and helps time pass more pleasantly, it has some benefits to development as well. "I see..." is a great way to build a young child's vocabulary. You are naming familiar objects for your little one and, in many cases, the child is repeating and thus learning the names of these objects. This game also develops little ones' awareness of the world around them. Developmentally toddlers are fairly self-centered in their awareness. Through this game they start to broaden their view of their world by looking beyond what is within their reach or what is affecting their immediate situation.

What do you see?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Cherish Bound and The Timpanogos Storytelling Festival

I love to tell stories! Don't we all? I love the build up, the climax, the laughter at the end. It's the greatest. It's one of the reasons I love bogging so much. It's a place to record stories. Here I am with a few other local (in Utah) bloggers.

Last November I had the privileged of meeting Carol Rice, co-founder of Cherish Bound, at a retreat for women entrepreneurs sponsored by Startup Princess. She was lovely to chat with, very approachable and down-to-earth. I never even guessed the size of the company she and Bruce Jensen oversee. So when I was invited to learn more about the company and their commitment to storytelling, I was excited to help out this "small" startup.

Boy was I surprised to find this company is nationally well-known. Although not surprising once I saw the products they offer for capturing family stories. They have everything you need to tell a great story from chat cards and daily journals to story starters and celebrations. Then the icing on the cake! Once you have discovered a story you want to tell, they have the software to record your story with pictures and then publish it into a beautiful book.
As a treat, we were invited to choose a story from our own lives, record it and then publish it. We received story starter books to help us along the way. I received the story starter My Family intended to help children discover an record their stories. So, I decided to interview Sammi and have her write the story. I pulled out the voice recorder and opened the book and talked to her while she was eating. Probably not the easiest to understand her with a mouth full of food, but she was stationary and quite talkative. Since we just moved I thought it would be fun to record some of our memories from our home in Utah as well as her first impressions of Tennessee. These were combined with her own descriptions of our family. About Daddy she said, "Daddy's good at ducks. He just waddles and tries to catch one." We have no idea where this came from! But it'll be fun to laugh about with her when she's older. She also said he's "good at telling stories and singing songs." Which is very true. She and I had a lot of fun talking about different memories and all the members of our family.

Once I had her story, it was easy to pick pictures to illustrate what she said, except for the ducks. Then I went onto Cherish bound's website and logged in to the publishing center to put the book together. The editing software was very easy to use. I figured it all out without ever using the help function. I like that in software! I chose page layouts then added photos and text. When you go through a Cherish Bound consultant you get a personal coach to walk you through all the steps of organizing and compiling. They're wonderful.
Once I finished my book and read through it, I had Brent read it and then I submitted it for publishing. It went so smoothly. My book arrived yesterday and Sammi was so excited to sit down and read her book. She loved the pictures. As I read the questions again, she answered them again. Some answers were different, but most were the same as we had recorded in the book. When Brent came home, she told him about the book first thing then drug him off to her room so he could read it to her. What a great experience for her to have a book she helped write that is about the people and memories she loves best!
Cherish Bound didn't stop here! Their commitment to storytelling led to becoming a sponsor this year of the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival in Utah. This is a great event where storytellers from around the nation come together to entertain, educate and enlighten their audiences. I am so sad we'll miss it. But my friend Rebecka is going and will give us a full report of how she and her family enjoyed it. This year the festival runs September 3-5, 2009.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Knoxville Zoo

Wow! That is all I can say, "Wow!" The Knoxville Zoo is so huge, we've been there twice and haven't seen the whole thing. The first time we went, we saw the black bears and then headed to the left.

We saw rhinos, a red panda, and the reptile collection. We ran into a zookeeper feeding the rhinos. She was very informative, telling us about their eating and living habits. For instance, rhinos hate the water but they love the mud. The cover themselves with mud to keep away mosquitoes and UV rays. In the reptile collection we talked with a zookeeper about the Tennessee bog turtles. The breed them in captivity and then release them into the wild after a year of care. He picked up a baby turtle for us to see. It was so tiny, easily fitting in the palm of his hand. And he said they don't get much bigger.

While we saw a lot of animals and learned quite a bit from the zookeepers, we weren't really all that impressed. We knew we hadn't seen everything, but we thought we'd seen at least half of the zoo. Our favorite part, the redeeming moment, you could say, was the Wee Play Zoo. Here the girls found costumes, imaginative play areas, live bunnies and carpet to crawl on (prefect for Elli who was SO sick of the stroller). We left feeling very good about the zoo and quite happy that we had a membership since we didn't see the whole zoo.

I took the girls again this last Friday and this time we headed to the right. We walked and walked. We wandered past the elephants, giraffes, and zebras. I figured we were about done and I was ready to head back to the Wee Play Zoo for the girls to stretch their legs before driving the hour or more back to our house. We walked on to what I thought was the end only to find another huge expanse of zoo. We saw gorillas and chimpanzees, ostriches and tigers, a lion and three lionesses. I was getting tired pushing these girls around and ready for a pit stop. I finally gave up seeing everything and headed back to the play area.

Now I am very happy that we have a membership so I don't feel like we have to see the entire zoo in one trip, because we now know that's not feasible for our family. I'm also happy that we have a membership because after just two visits to the zoo, we've saved money over paying for each visit individually. Every trip from here on out is like a Christmas bonus!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Physical Friday:

The GNO Party this week on Twitter was fantastic. I love living in Eastern time because the girls are sound asleep by the time the party starts. Mom It Forward knows how to throw a party! The topic was Affordable Fun 101: Kids Crafts and Ideas. This was right up my alley so I was honored to be a part of the panel.

A few ideas that received a lot of attention are things we do around here so I thought I'd share. Today's idea involves butcher paper, your child's body and crayons/markers/colored pencils. Easy peasy, right?

Now to get down to business. Have your child lie down on the butcher paper. Then trace around your child with a crayon/marker/colored pencil. After you've traced the whole body, have the child color in clothes, hair, facial features, or Sammi's favorite, finger and toe nails.

Several party-goers offered great ideas on how they adapted this concept with their little ones.
  • The original idea was brought up by Workingmomma247: "I have had my 5yr old lay down on butcher paper to outline his body and he colored the rest."
  • From Momof3boys3702 comes this extension: "We are doing Biology this year and I was thinking of doing that and having him draw his organs in correctly."
  • And Brunette01 came up with this variation with her daughter: "I helped my DD do cut-outs of everyone in the family to add to her bedroom wall. All her idea. It's awesome :)"
  • We had Sammi trace around Elli and around Daddy. Daddy was a lot more cooperative :)
As you can see, Sammi is turning into a lefty! This fun idea also gives little ones time to practice fine motor skills. Sammi is learning to control her hand better and the pencil as she traces around body parts. Going in between fingers is still hard for her, but when she's done, you can tell which body part she traced! She now loves to trace her own hand. And then "paint" the fingernails.
And to continue, from yesterday, with things to remember about three year olds (and probably all children): Never attempt to do a project, even if it's fun, between bath time and bedtime. Especially if you want pictures that are halfway cute. It's not a pretty picture. I don't recommend doing it!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Thinking Thursday: Repetition

"How many times do I have to tell you? Don't pour sand on your sister's head!" I feel like I'm repeating myself ALL the time. I know she's smart. I know she hears me. I even know she's listening because she can tell me all the rules. But, the bottom line is she's three. Three! Now that we've entered a new stage of development, it's back to the books for me. (In case you're wondering, this is a picture of Elli with baby powder on her head from cleaing up all the sand Sammi dumped on her. Yes, baby powder works to make the sand fall right off!)

Last night I picked up Sixty Second Parent's book The Triumphant Child and turned to the section on three year olds. I found this wise counsel on implementing rules: "Remain calm and Repeat: Expect the worst rebellion from the beginning and learn to perfect the robot response. Consistently replying with the same simple explanation over and over equips parents to control any situation by deflecting their own anger or exasperation when faced with a screaming three year old." I definitely need to perfect the robot response because my anger and exasperation usually get in the way of responding lovingly to Sammi.

It was good to be reminded that repetition is a natural part of the learning process. Children learn everything through repetition: language, routines, rules, even riding a bike. While its frustration to repeat things I know she already knows, it helps when I remember that it's a necessary part of her development.

I'll leave you with this last reminder from The Triumphant Child: "Don't have the expectation that your child should always behave nicely. We all have our bad days!"

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Miss Kathy and Pine Lake Pool

Welcome to a new segment on Because Babies Grow Up that I'm calling Tuesdays in Tennessee. We are having so much fun discovering this beautiful part of the country and I want to share some of the charming experiences we're having. First up is a look at Sammi's swimming lessons.

Close to our house are signs for Pine Lake Pool with a phone number for more info on swimming lessons. Brent and I were intrigued and thought that would be fun for Sammi next year. We happened to be talking with a neighbor who said Miss Kathy teaches all ages, especially little ones. Brent wandered up to her house to get more info but she was busy with a class and had more students congregating for the next class. Brent asked a parent a few questions and came back home. Just a couple days later Miss Kathy stopped by our house and dropped off some info about swim lessons. I love living in a small, close-knit community! That parent mentioned to Miss Kathy that someone had come to find out about swim lessons and said he rented a house just down the road and of course, Miss Kathy knew exactly which house that was!

As it turned out, she had a class started that Monday that was a perfect fit for Sammi. The classes were Mon-Thur for an hour each day. We prepped Sammi for the adventure and she could hardly wait for Monday to come! She was so excited all Monday morning and tried to get me to take her three hours early! Her enthusiasm didn't stop once we got there, either.

Sammi listened so attentively to Miss Kathy and did everything she asked Sammi to do. She wore a bubble on her back (see pics) and poured water on her toes, knees, shoulders and head as Miss Kathy sang the "Sprinkle Song."

I thought that in 4 days Sammi would probably get used to being in the water and maybe figure out how to kick her feet. Boy was I wrong! Miss Kathy taught them how to kick, alright, but she also taught them how to move through the water indepdently with all kinds of floatation devices. By the last day she could swim the length of the pool and back with just her bubble on her back. Wow! And Sammi's kicking evolved from crazed, energetic flailings to measured, purposeful thrusts that propelled her where she wanted to go. What an amazing transformation. I'm hoping we can go swimming this week so she doesn't forget it all.

Sammi's class was small and so she had lots of attention from her teacher. But, Miss Kathy was also very good at setting Sammi to a task so she could work with another student who needed a little extra help. She was the most patient teacher I have ever seen in any teaching situation, ever.

I asked Sammi what Miss Kathy did and she said, "She taught me shopping carts and how to swim." When I asked Sammi her favorite part of swim lessons she said, "The favorite part of my swim lessons, I like to do shopping. I like the shopping part." They pretended a kick board was a shopping cart, extended their arms out straight and kicked their way to the end of the pool where they took pretned items from the side of the pool, put them on their shoping cart and swam back. Sammi LOVED it!

I'm already excited for next summer so that Sammi can have a few weeks' worth of lessons.

Are you on Twitter? I'll be at the #GNO party tonight (@ajpassey). We're talking about affordable kids crafts and ideas. We'll be joined by Crayola and there's a nifty giveaway, too! Come see what the fun's all about.

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Friendly Friday

We had the sweetest experience on Friday. We went into Knoxville to run some errands. One of the errands was to get our military IDs. Brent was in his ABUs (Air Battle Uniform-camo) and looking rather adorable. Don't you think?

After a long day of driving, shopping and waiting in lines, we went to our favorite restaurant for dinner: Texas Roadhouse. As we were sitting there looking at the menu, our server came to us and told us there was a family that wanted to buy our dinner because Brent was in the service. Gratitude surged through my body, then a little bit of guilt since Brent hasn't actually "served" yet, other than Officer Training. They gave us this sweet note:

A friend of mine, whose husband enlisted in the Air Force earlier this year, had a similar experience buying her groceries at a Costco in Utah. I am pleasantly surprised that there are people who care enough about their country and those who serve it to go out of their way to show appreciation. I'm also grateful for the opportunity to show my love of and appreciation for the United States by supporting Brent as he serves. I look forward to what the years will bring.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Encouraging Baby's Growing Vocabulary

I just had to share this picture because 1) it's adorable! and 2) it demonstrates the reason babies learn words. Let me explain.

We found Elli and Sammi playing with a marker they had successfully dismantled on the hardwood floor. Elli had the ink stick in her mouth. The first thing out of a parent's mouth? "No, no, no!" Because of a series of such experiences, Elli now knows the word "no!" It was also the first word she produced after mama and dada. The cutest part, she always says it in threes, just like me. So if I try to take away something she shouldn't have, I am also chastised by Elli with her "no, no, no!"

Since, unknowingly, we got her to say "no" by constantly saying it to her, I thought I'd try a little experiment. We've been working on the word "up." Anytime I pick her up, I say the word, "up." I say it several times as I bend down, put my hands under arms and then stand back up. This has been going on for about a week. Yesterday after our usual "up" routine, I handed her to Brent and walked off to do something. As I turned away, I heard her little voice, "up, up, up." Success!

For children to learn new words, they must be exposed to those words over and over and over again. Then, they have to develop two different types of knowledge of the words they're learning: receptive and productive. First children develop an understanding of the word. They learn to recognize it every time it's said as the same word that was said before. Then they attach meaning to the word. Once they understand the word they have receptive knowledge of it. This means they understand it when it's said to them. The next step is to develop productive knowledge. Now the child must learn to produce the word. When they can say the word and use it correctly in context, they have productive knowledge. When both types of knowledge are acquired, the child has fully incorporated that word into their vocabulary. They "own it" so to speak and can start to experiment with it in various situations.

This leads to the second reason the picture of Elli's blue tongue shows how babies learn new words. In order to get Elli to show her tongue, I asked her to "give me kisses." This is a phrase she has recently shown that she understands. She's also at that fantastic stage where kisses are open-mouthed and slobbery. The first time I saw that she understood this phrase was when she picked up a doll. As she was holding the doll I said, "Give the baby a kiss." And she did! Right on top of the baby's plastic head.

In order for babies to learn language, they need lots and lots of exposure. The more we talk to our babies, the more they are able to recognize specific words and attach meaning to them. To go the extra mile with language development, it's important to be extra observant of what words your baby responds to. Figure out what words your children know receptively and then build on that vocabulary to introduce new words or experiences. I have been able to explain complex ideas to Sammi because I can break them down into words she knows. But that's only because I'm paying attention to what she has proven she undertands!

What are some phrases or words you were surprised to discover your baby knew?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Physical Friday: Cake Decorating with USO Conversation Hearts from Sweethearts

I think I mentioned that Brent joined the Air Force and was at Officer Training for a month before we moved to TN. Yeah, I'm pretty sure I did: here, here and here. With that at the front of my thoughts and experiences, I jumped at the news that Sweethearts (my absolute FAVORITE conversation hearts) was releasing a new line called Red, White and You to honor the military and celebrate America's patriotism.

The hearts are red, white and blue with patriotic sayings such as "Miss You," "Proud of You," and "Home Safe." The blue ones are blueberry flavored, which I really enjoyed. We had lots of fun trying to decide what to do with our candy hearts. We shared some of them with friends at the 4th of July cookout. A few of the other medical school students here at LMU-DCOM are also in the Air Force and enjoyed the hearts.

In the end, Sammi and I decided to make and decorate a cake. We made two cakes, an "X" and an "O" to show hugs and kisses for Daddy. Placing the small candy hearts on the cake was good practice for her growing fine motor skills. She was able to place all of the hearts "correctly" the first time, meaning she was pleased with where they went and how it looked. It's fun to see her developing into such a capable child. I hardly had to oversee her in this project. When I get too involved, she's quick to remind me, "I can do it myself, Mommy!" Or if I'm really intruding, "I can do it myself, Amber!"

She was also very careful to place the hearts so the words were showing every single time. I didn't even ask her to make that distinction. She's definitely showing literacy awareness.

The United Service Organizations (USO) offers a great little packet of craft ideas using the Red, White and You candies. You can download the packet here. Also, through the rest of this month you can donate to the USO to sponsor a care package sent to a deployed service man or woman which will include the Red, White and You candies.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

And We're Back!

We've been here in Tennessee for 2 weeks now and FINALLY have the Internet again. I have so missed blogging and socializing. It's good to be back! But, we have found a few ways to keep ourselves entertained during the interim!

First, we unpacked. Or rather, Brent's parent's unpacked for us while we tried to decide where things should be, entertained the girls, and figured out where things are. Brent and his dad put up a fence in the backyard so the girls have a safe place to play away from the train tracks. Brent's mom and I took care of the inside. She managed to do in three days what it would have taken me three years to do! We actually have pictures on the walls.

We checked out the local cuisine by dining at Heavy's BBQ on the river. It was a perfectly southern experience. It was delicious BBQ complete with baked beans and fried okra. While we waited for our food, Sammi and I went down to the river and she swung on the tire swing. We also met the dogs who hang around the place. They were very mild mannered and sweet, but Sammi still didn't want them too close.

We celebrated the Fourth of July and Sammi's birthday. We visited the Knoxville Zoo and hiked to the Tri-State Peak off the Daniel Boone trail. To entertain Sammi I sang Davy Crockett up and down the, uhm, mountain. (I think it'll take several years for me to view the rolling hills in these parts as mountains. Mountains don't grow trees at the peaks! At least not the Rocky Mountains I grew up with!!)

Sammi enjoyed her birthday. She wore her tiara and balloon everywhere we went. I think she was pleased with being three until I told her she couldn't get her ears pierced until she's 12. Now she's obsessed with turning 12. Why do we spend our childhood wishing we were grown up and adulthood longing for our childhood? We never seem to be satisfied, do we?

Hopefully posts will start to be more regular as we get settled and fall back into a routine. Brent starts school July 28 and we'll go through that "settling in" all over again! We hear he'll surface about Thanksgiving so we're enjoying every moment we have with him now!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Posh in Clover Review

At the beginning of May I had the chance to attend the Utah Valley Women's Expo. This is a great annual event where companies come to showcase their products and services. My birthday also happens to be at the beginning of May. I finagled a day to myself to explore the Expo. Even with a day all to myself, it's hard to take off the Mom hat!

I found myself drawn to children's products at every turn. My first purchase was an adorable tea set for the girls made from recycled milk jugs. It was a big hit. But my next find won my heart as a solution to an endless problem: eczema.

The company is Posh in Clover, which I love because it sounds luxurious but I don't actually know what it means. According to their About page, "All of our products are artistically crafted by hand using the finest natural ingredients. Our art studio, where our products are crafted, is filled with the raw ingredients we use to craft our products. We do not simply buy a base from wholesale companies and add scent to it. We are passionate about creating natural, cruelty-free spa products that are far beyond the ordinary. Every ingredient we use to create our products has been carefully chosen based upon how it will benefit you. We pride ourselves on using luxurious ingredients that make our products stand out from the crowd and leave the least environmental impact."

Posh in Clover carries two lines I was particularly interested in: Mother & Baby and Kids. I decided to get the spa soap, whipped butter cream, and bubbling bath bomb to try on the girls hoping that it would help Sammi's eczema. Let me back up just a bit. When deciding between the spa soap and the wash, I was leery of the soap because it was so big-twice the size of a regular bar of soap. I wasn't sure how to handle such a large bar of soap and not have it get ruined in the shower. I was hesitating and the gal in the booth said she uses a butter knife to cut off a slice of the soap. That way it fits perfectly in a child's hand and helps the soap last longer. Immediately I could sense Sammi's independence rejoicing at having control of the soap as she washed herself. I was sold.

I brought home the new products and endured Brent chuckling at me since I spent my birthday money on things for the girls. I was excited for bath time and that was enough for me! Sammi was intrigued by my cutting the soap with a knife. And, as I had suspected, relished in holding the soap herself. I love the scent of the soap and the way the girls smell after the bath. Then we tried out the whipped butter cream. Sammi has been rather resistant to lotions after the Eucerin stung her skin so badly. But I let her scoop some out of the tub and apply it herself and she was game. The cream smells like an orangesicle in a light, summery kind of way.

What I noticed first thing the next day was that Sammi's skin was so soft. It felt like silky baby skin again. She hasn't had soft baby skin since she was 5 or 6 months old when the eczema started to flare constantly. She still had some rough patches but the overall feel of her skin was soft and smooth. I am happy to see such quick results. I have tried a lot, a lot of products and this is the first that I have seen such a dramatic improvement in such a short time.

The bath bomb was a big hit too with both the girls. It's made of Dead Sea and Peruvian salts along with a host of other natural ingredients that work wonders on the skin. It dissolves into bubbles under running water. Sammi had fun holding it under the tap and feeling the bath bomb dissolve in her hand.

I now use the baby spa soap for myself and always rub a little extra cream into the back of my hands after their baths. My hands feel soft and even look younger. I'm so happy! No more cracked and bleeding knuckles. I love this company and its products.

If you're interested in trying Posh in Clover out for yourself, you can save 15% by entering the code "posh15" at checkout. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Thoughts on Love

So I've been missing Brent. Brent loves music. On our first date he took me to a concert of one of his favorite local bands, Ryan Shupe and the Rubberband. It was great bluegrass music followed by a wonderful fireworks show. At the end of the night, I was a fan of Ryan Shupe and the Rubberband and I was a little more in love with Brent.

This week I put in their CD Hey! Hey! Hey! (recently rereleased under the title Dream Big) and have been reliving that magical evening. The chorus of one song really got me thinking the other day. It goes, "Would you love me if it won't hurt you at all?"

I have been contemplating the implications of loving without the risk of getting hurt. I don't think true love exists without the risk of getting hurt.

Inevitably Brent has said or done something that hurt my feelings. We're human and we're different; it's bound to happen. I'm sure I've unintentionally hurt his feelings. Now, to be honest, I could enjoy loving Brent without this kind of hurt. It's usually over superficial things and the hurt passes quickly.

But, as I scrutinized our relationship, I realize there are a whole host of experiences we've shared that have brought us closer together, but have also involved a bit of hurt. I remember the semester we were engaged, Brent failed one of his classes. He agonized over that grade and the effort he had put into the class. I hurt right along side him. I didn't just feel his pain, though, I also felt my own pain at the part I had played in that grade. I could have given him more time to study. I could have helped him study. The list goes on. But, in the end, we learned, together, what he needed in order to do well in a class. I'm happy to say that not only did he never fail another class, his GPA steadily improved and he was accepted to medical school despite that failing grade. We have had so much joy over that accomplishment and we would not have known that together had we not also hurt together.

There have been other disappointments that have come to us individually but that we have endured together. My love for Brent is stronger and deeper because I have been a part of the most vulnerable and painful experiences he has had over the past 5 years. This ability to share and to feel together is what bonds our hearts as one. That to me is true love.

On the other hand, how hard would it be to be the one who promises it won't hurt if you love me? Think of all the things we could never share, all the tears we could never shed, and consequently all the joy in overcoming that we would never experience. My intent is never to cause pain, but I'm so glad I can tell Brent that I'm absolutely miserable without him here at home and know that it may hurt him to know I'm miserable, but it also reaffirms my love for him and the permanent place he has in my heart and life.

I'm not a masochist, but I wouldn't accept the offer to love without getting hurt. The two emotions weave in and around each other creating a rope that binds us together and makes us stronger as a couple.

I love you, Brent. We're halfway done!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Physical Friday: Crawling

First an explanation and apology: So Brent's been gone about 2 weeks now at training for the Air Force. Before he left I thought it would be great to use the time in the evening after the girls were in bed to blog, catch up on reading and get the house work done. Maybe even some of my sewing projects, too! That was so naive! The truth, I've been completely exhausted and when I sit down, I have the hardest time getting back up again. I've completely lost my stamina and I feel like my brain shuts off at 8:10 when the girls are finally asleep. Ugh. It's been a lot harder than I thought it would be. I apologize for not posting more regularly the last couple of weeks. My goal is to be better! But, we're also moving in three weeks so I'm working on packing up the house.

Just as not all children crawl at the same age, not all children crawl the same way! The standard image of crawling is the baby on hands and knees with belly lifted off the ground. Other forms of crawling include the army crawl where the baby sprawls on the floor and uses arm strength to pull his body along; the scoot where the baby is in a sitting position and scoots her body to her feet then extends the feet out and scoots the body again; the hand-foot crawl where the baby moves along on hands and feet instead of knees. Most babies perfect one or more of these forms of movement before learning to walk.

It's vitally important to note, though, that crawling is NOT a standard developmental milestone. It's perfectly acceptable for babies to bypass the standard image of crawling all together and get right to walking. I have heard tell that babies who don't crawl but go straight to walking are poor readers. From the academic research I found, that information is not supported. I did find some rather interesting stuff, though!

Crawling is a complex system of movement. Babies must learn and master a long list of skills before finally figuring out how to put them all together to crawl. Obviously babies must learn how to hold their head up and how to get up on their hands and knees. But they also must learn how to rock back and forth while on their hands and knees. Finally, they need to learn how to move opposite arms and legs simultaneously, i.e., right arm out with left leg back. This skill is learned and improved as babies learn to reach for objects and begin to realize they can move their whole body in order to reach a desired object.

Once babies learn to sit, they pick up on clues about depth perception in their surrounding environment. When children have been sitting alone for a while, they are able to make good decisions about how far to reach for objects and whether they should reach for objects across an open space. When babies become crawlers, they have to relearn the appropriate clues to depth at this new level. That's why new or inexperienced crawlers will crawl right off the edge of the bed or stairs after an object (or an older sister like Elli did earlier this week!) With practice, though, babies learn what's safe and what's not. The next time Elli approached the stairs she backed up, sat up and looked at me for help! They learn so fast.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Thinking Thursday: Bean Bag Number Game

This idea comes from Brandy of Some of This and Some of That. She used this bean bag toss game with her school-age daughter, but it could easily be adapted for preschool-age little ones.

In her post, she says, "I am so excited for the Valentine party in my daughters classroom. I am going to have two kids toss a bean bag on two different numbers, and the two of them will have to add the numbers together to get the sum. I just took four big posters and taped them together, cut out a heart and put numbers on the heart.

"I had my daughter test it out just to make sure they would think it was fun (never know!) and she loved it. Her and I played it for a long time and had fun and learned all at the same time."

This would be a great game to introduce numbers to little ones. Simply have them throw the bean bag on the heart (or whatever shape you make!) and then say the number that it lands on. This could be done in a very informal, undemanding way. As your little one becomes more familiar with numbers, you can ask them to identify the number the bean bag lands on. Once they are fairly comfortable with numbers, you could switch the game by having your little one tell YOU a number and you have to land the bean bag on the number.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Physical Friday: Benefits of Rocking

The opening topic of a junior-level university lecture I attended was "How to Calm a Crying Baby." I chuckled as I recalled all the times my babies have fussed and I'd tried everything I could think of to calm them down. My babies love to be swaddled and to be rocked. Of course both of those were on the list along with diaper changes, feedings, singing, pacifiers, and changing positions of the baby.

I was beginning to wonder if this lecture would be worth my time when the instructor went off on a tangent about rocking. He shared some pretty interesting information that I thought I'd pass along. First, mothers rock their infants at the same rate of speed at which they walk. Since rocking is a familiar motion to babies from their in utero experience, it only makes sense that they would be most calmed by being rocked at the same speed at which their mothers walk. What I find more fascinating is that mothers unknowingly rock their babies as fast (or as slowly) as they walk. And yet, that is precisely the most calming speed for their babies. Which also explains why mothers seem to have "a knack" for calming their babies faster than anyone else. I can't tell you how many times I've refrained from offering to take a crying baby. I'm pretty good with my own kids, usually, but that doesn't mean I'm a super-comforter!

The second tangent about rocking showed how rocking is important and necessary for baby's development. The rocking motion helps a baby organize the vestibular system which controls equilibrium, or balance. As a baby is rocked, the fluids in the inner ear move around which triggers the vestibular system to action. While the baby is calmed and rocked to sleep, this system is hard at work practicing communicating to the brain all the information gathered about the baby's balance. I love this because all the times I've just sat and rocked my babies, ignoring chores, ringing phones, and errands, are completely justified because I was promoting my babies' development. The next time the current baby insists I drop everything and rock her, I will remind myself it's as important as tummy time to help her development.

I recently learned that children between 3 1/2 and 4 years of age go through a major physical development stage which leaves them awkward and clumsy until they get a handle on their new skills by about age 4. I was thinking about that in relation to rocking. It leads me to believe that rocking continues to be a necessary part of how we interact with our little ones. And it's not always the calm, rocking-to-sleep motion; it doesn't always happen in a rocking chair. Often Sammi and I "rock" when we dance together or she bounces on my leg or a variety of other times when we are physically close and moving together.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Emergent Literacy and Beyond

Today's post on literacy comes from Colleen Felz, the Homeschooling Coach. Find her homeschooling tips & curriculum ideas as well as stories about the joys & trials of home education at her blog, Homeschooling Coach. In her sister blog, Living as a mom, read stories about her life as a Christian wife and mother. Here are her thoughts on literacy...and beyond.

Becoming a literate person is a big undertaking, and the early years are the time to lay a firm foundation. Throughout this series on emergent literacy you have read about some specific skills needed to read and write well and learned that it takes lots of practice to master those skills. In this post I'd like to sum it all up.

The most important thing that you can do to help your child learn to read and write is to simply reading good literature to your child from birth through the teen years. There is so much that you share with your child during those special times spent reading together. Your oral reading helps your child hear the rhythm of the language and the intonation used in reading. You also serve as a model for what expert readers do and how they solve problems when they read. Since your child naturally wants to mimic you in the early years, reading aloud is a great time to inadvertently (or even intentionally) teach your child about reading.

What behaviors are you modeling for your child as an expert reader? Just think of all that you do when you are reading aloud. If you misread a word in a sentence, you correct yourself when you realize that the word did not make sense, and you use the context to figure out the meaning of certain words. You make predictions as you read, too. You even reread excellent books because you get something new from those books each time you read them. The next time you read aloud, think about all that you actually do when you read.

As you model these skills, you can also explicitly share them with your child when you read aloud to him/her. When you and your little one snuggle together and read, talk about the book and ask questions.

"Those words rhyme."

"I love this author (book)."

"I wonder what will happen next."

"Have you ever felt like that?"

I cannot stress enough how important it is to read to your child . The time you invest in reading aloud to your child is time well spent. Enjoy it!

What are some of your favorite books to read with your little ones?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Discovery Gateway Giveaway Winner!

Thanks to everyone who entered! I had no idea my favorite part of this giveaway would be all the wonderful ideas about sparking the imagination of our little ones. Seriously great ideas! If you didn't have a chance to read all the comments, I strongly encourage you to take the time to do it.

And the winner is...

Alicia who said, "I would love to take my kids to Discovery Gateway. I have heard a lot of wonderful things about it.

"I try to do a lot of different things with my children- go explore nature, different museums, read books on different topics that have to do with the world or people, do different crafts, etc. My son's imagination can turn a piece of string into a fun toy. It is so fun to watch!"

Congratulations, Alicia! Please email me TODAY with your mailing address! If I don't hear from Alicia today then a new winner will be chosen at random and announced tomorrow.

Hopefully all of you get the chance to visit the Discovery Gateway Children's Museum. Such a fun place! In fact, we are planning on going up there Monday, June 1. If you're interested in meeting us up there, just leave a comment so we can pick a time! I'd love to meet you and enjoy the museum together!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Musical Monday: Surviving the Road Trip

Last week we drove from Utah to Colorado (and back) to see my brother graduate from college and to visit with friends. On the way over we drove on I-80 through Wyoming and it took about 9 hours including two long stops, one at a park in Rawlins. On the way home, however, we took 1-70 through the mountains and it took us 13 1/2 hours! We only stopped one more time than on the way over. Those winding mountains really slowed us down.

Toward the end of our visiting in Colorado and especially during that long drive home there were two things that really helped us survive. Both are music oriented so I thought I'd share them here today.

First, musical instruments! I don't even know what inspired me to pack them at the very last moment, but they were a huge hit with both girls! From Melissa & Doug's Band in a Box I brought the maracas, the cymbals, and the clacker. (Read my full review here) It was cute to hear them shake the maracas together. At one point Sammi was so bored and getting really cranky so I pulled out the cymbals. As I gave them to her I promised myself that I wouldn't be annoyed. She banged them together for 20 minutes straight! And I kept my promise. It really helped her get through a difficult moment.

Another time the instruments were really helpful was when we were driving to a friend's house. We were almost there, we thought, and Sammi was starting to doze off. We knew if she fell asleep we wouln't be able to wake her up and then she'd miss playing with the kids. Plus, after that visit we had an hour drive ahead of us to Colorado Springs and we really wanted her to sleep then. So, Brent handed her the maracas and asked her to shake it so we would know she wasn't asleep. Everytime she started to slow down we reminded her to shake them again. It kept her awake the whole time!

The second thing that really helped the trip go more smoothly was her favorite CD. We'd been listening to our favorite songs and occasionally we'd turn on a movie for Sammi, which she had very little attention for so it usually went back off fairly quickly. On the drive home, which was 4 1/2 hours longer than the drive there, she asked for her songs. As soon as we put in her CD (Fun Time Classroom Songs) she started singing along and was completely happy again.

Often experts recommend getting a new toy for a long road trip to surprise you little ones. This can be a good choice for some kids. Sammi didn't play for very long with the new toys we bought her. For her, the best choice was her favorites. They brought her the most comfort and the most joy! This was a good test run for us as we prepare to move across the country at the end of June. I think we're going to broaden her CD selection so we don't listen to the same one for three days straight!

What's your little one's favorite CD?
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