January 18, 2015 · filed under kid stuff

our favorite books (age 1.5 to 2)

I thought I’d share a list of H & T’s favorite books from the past six months or so. I have to give credit to Janssen for at least half of these — her instagram feed is full of great toddler book suggestions. I think I found a few of these from Design Mom, too. I’d love it if you would share your favorite books for this age range. We sometimes get duds from the library so I always love a good recommendation.

In no particular order…

bearsnoreson

1. The Bear Snores On

This was the first “long” book the boys really loved. (By long I mean, not a Sandra Boynton board book, if that makes sense.) They love to point out the different animals — mouse, gopher, mole, wren, raven, and more.

mttigergoeswild

2. Mr. Tiger Goes Wild

I can’t get enough of the lovely illustrations in this book. The boys love to “ROAR” along with the tiger. And the message about feeling free to be yourself is pretty sweet.

thewoods

3. The Woods

I don’t love this book as much as some others, but the twins LOVE it. It’s a solid bedtime book.

clangclang

4. Clang Clang, Beep Beep

This book was a gift from a slightly older 2-year-old who obviously has good taste in books. It’s short on words, but filled with lots of sounds (car horns beeping, alarm clocks ringing, etc). It’s been great especially for our late talking boy.

Iwantmyhatback

5. I Want My Hat Back

This book makes *me* chuckle at the punchline. I’m not sure the boys actually get the joke, but they love the animals and the repetition.

curiousgeorge

6. Curious George

This book has got it all — kidnapping, a monkey smoking a pipe, escaping prison, etc. The story is on the longer side for this age, but it keeps their attention. I recommend the original — I haven’t found any of the other ones in the C.G. series to be as enthralling for them.

haveyouseenmydragon

7. Have You Seen My Dragon?

One of our current favorites. I think it’s a book that will grow with your kids. At this age, mine love to find the dragon on each page. When they’re a little older I think they will like to participate in the counting of items. Super awesome illustrations and a definite must for any kid who lives in or visits NYC.

missspiderteaparty

8. Miss Spider’s Tea Party

This book is out of print but I bet you could find it at your library. I like reading it because it’s a long poem. The boys are always happy to listen and they love the bright and bold pictures. Our copy is falling apart because it’s been read so many times.

thewaybackhome

9. The Way Back Home

I wasn’t sure which Oliver Jeffers book to include. We also really like Stuck, and I love his new Alphabet book. His books are super quirky but I find them quite lovable. Great for kids (or parents) who love silly things or have big imaginations.

jumpingjack

10. Jumping Jack

This book led to one of Teddy’s first (and ridiculously adorable) sentences: “Roger Trotter glasses fall off!” (I guess you had to be there…) This book is different from the rest, in a good way.

sevensillyeaters

11. The Seven Silly Eaters

This is also a new one, but the boys love to listen to us read it to them (it’s not short) and love to point out funny things in the detailed drawings.

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Okay, I’m stopping myself at 11. I hope you enjoy a few of these!


January 14, 2015 · filed under twins

a little update on preschool

Last week was a bit of a rough re-entry after a super long holiday break. By Tuesday evening I declared defeat. The children had gotten the best of me and I was going to go back to work full time and would send them to boarding school! (Possibly an over-reaction…) Then on Thursday my beloved babysitter told me the good/bad news that she got a full time job offer. It’s great for her and has been her goal for the last year, but super sad for me because she is great with the boys and has a completely flexible schedule.

I let that news sink in for about 2.2 seconds and then I kicked it into high gear to find some more childcare because the idea of being with the boys without a break, AND trying to get work done was just…nope. I asked my peeps on twitter their opinions about babysitter vs preschool and the unanimous answer was preschool, especially now that they are two.

There are a zillion preschools around here but also about two zillion toddlers so I thought the process would be a bit daunting, especially in the middle of the school year. I started by calling the preschool my nephew went to for two years. The director told me that she happened to have two openings (out of 15 spots total) for 2-year-olds on MWF mornings and would we like them?

Andrew and I considered the offer over the weekend and enrolled the boys on Monday. How’s that for solving a problem (and getting really lucky) in just 5 days?! They boys will start the first week of February and will go three mornings per week for three hours. Oh, and did I mention I can see this preschool from my front yard and that we can walk there? Yep.

This will probably be a big transition for Teddy and Holden. They’ve only ever had caregivers come to our house (and only two have been non-family members). Now we will have to get up, dressed, fed, and out the door on time, with snacks and water bottles and whatever else you’re supposed to bring with you. So really what I’m saying is it’s going to be a hard transition on me, too.

It’s time though. They are ready and I am ready, and I hope it won’t take long for them to adjust. If you all have any tips about things that help with preschool transition, I’d love to hear them! Also if you have any favorite lunch boxes or other supplies, or ideas for how to deal with the germs that are likely to overtake our whole family for the next several months, please do share.


December 31, 2014 · filed under life

2014: the year of traveling with toddlers and other fun stuff

Although I’ve been an absent blogger lately, I can’t let the year end without answering these questions.

Previously: 2013201220112010

1. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 33 this year and the theme was “pimp my patio.” My gift to myself was patio furniture and string lights, and I had a few friends over to enjoy the firepit, sangria, and games.

Project Pimp my Patio is happening! Thank you to @lyzzi22 @reneech23 @ryanheath71 @ahbaumann @kdaly1023

2. What are your strongest memories from this year, and why?

We took some great trips this year. We went to DC/Delaware three times, plus back to where we got married in Cabo, plus several trips to the mountains. I also went to San Francisco (twice!) and we hosted friends and family several times. We saw four dear friends get married.

The other thing that sticks out for me is watching the boys with their four grandparents and great grandma. It’s so fun to see how much they adore each other and have fun together.

Weekend in the mountains. How gorgeous is this?!

3. What did you do this year that you’d never done before?

Being the parent of two toddlers feels like a constant boot camp of doing things I’ve never done before.

I was the second shooter (photography) for two weddings this summer with my mom. That was fun and exhausting!

4. What did you want and get?

A pretty new dining room table, a pretty darn good work-life balance.

5. What did you want and not get?

Fit.

6. What would you like to have next year that you didn’t have this year?

More confidence that I can do anything I set my mind to, especially if it’s outside my comfort zone.

A way to comment on blogs from my phone that is as easy as texting or tweeting.

7. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

For 2014 my goals were to:

  • No seriously, lose some weight. Sigh. Fail.
  • Get a job. I ended up with two consulting clients for most of the year and I feel really good about how that went. I still mostly spend time with the boys, but worked enough to feel smart and engaged as well as make a non-zero amount of money.
  • Make another photo/video montage of the boys. Made a video for their 2nd birthday and I love it.
  • Go on two weekend getaways without the boys. I went to San Francisco twice! Andrew managed the boys just fine and I got some good BFF time. I want to do this again next year (though maybe somewhere new like Austin or Santa Fe?).
  • Be better about calling my friends on the phone and maintaining long-distance friendships. Hmmmm. I seem to talk on the phone less than ever before. Lots of texting though.
  • Invest in making new friends here in Denver. Always a work in progress but I feel good about this.
  • Make sangria and invite people over to drink it. Oh boy, I think I made more sangria this year than your local Spanish restaurant. It led to some pretty funny evenings ; ) (recipe here)

First time making sangria!

My 2014 goals/resolutions are:

  • No seriously, lose some weight. Ah, let’s just keep this on the list, shall we?
  • Take good care of myself. Eat more vegetables, exercise more regularly, get more sleep, and take some time each week for self care.
  • Get another consulting client / increase amount I’m working. I’d love to work more like 15-20 hrs/week and start sending the boys to some kind of preschool during those hours.
  • Educate/push myself so I can be a better parent. I feel like I’ve left behind the days of “just” keeping my kids alive and fed. I’ve entered the years where I have to teach them important things and help them be more independent. I want to find a good balance between enjoying them just as they are, and encouraging growth and learning.
  • Travel somewhere new // travel somewhere without the kids.
  • Learn how to make fancy ramen. Because why not?

8. What was your biggest achievement of this year?

I feel like my kids are happy and good and thriving, and that is our biggest accomplishment. Smaller things I feel good about: We moved all of our investments into index funds at Vanguard (per Warren Buffet’s advice); I constantly purged / sold / donated items to keep our house as clutter-free as possible.

IMG_4561.jpg

9. What was your biggest failure?

Letting stress or daily annoyances cloud my overall gratefulness for how lucky I am.

10. What did you rely on when you were overwhelmed?

Other adults to help me care for the boys. Also, twitter friends.

11. What are your strongest recommendations for entertainment from this year? (books, television, movies, music, etc)

Well, obviously the Serial podcast! I’ve also started listening to other podcasts because it works well with my daily life. I like to listen while I’m doing chores around the house. I like Planet Money, the Longest Shortest Time, Startup/Reply All, and A Slob Comes Clean.

12. What song will remind you of this year?

Riptide by Vance Joy. The boys call it “mama’s song.” T.Swift of course, since we have nightly Shake it Off dance parties.

13. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year (not necessarily from the song that reminds you of the year).

Once again I fail on this one. How about a picture instead?

Hiking in VA

14. What was your most enjoyable purchase?

Probably the aforementioned patio furniture or dining room table. I also bought a used double Bob stroller that I love and I actually did a bit of jogging with.

15. Did you travel? If so, where?

Oh my goodness, did we travel. We might be insane because of it. See #2 above.

Teddy & Santa

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Nice things for other people.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Reading things on my phone in bed in the wee hours.

18. Compared to this time last year, how are you different?

I think I’m happier now, more settled. Being back east makes me miss our friends and family there so much, but coming home really feels like coming home.

Most of the angst in my life lately comes from feelings about public events. The election was pretty horrendous if you care about things like climate change or gun violence or abortion rights. The protests that are a result of racism issues have been on my mind, especially as I try to raise two white children without entitlement and aware of their privilege.

At the goat farm

19. Compared to this time last year, how are you the same?

I’m still kind of lazy, definitely a homebody, and pretty much obsessed with my kids. I also still dress them the same most days.

20. What’s a life lesson you learned this year?

Setting firm boundaries for your kids is a gift you are giving them.

Put on your own oxygen mask before helping others with their oxygen mask.

Me & my boys

If you filled out one of these, please link to it in the comments so I can come read! Thank you for another year of friendship.

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