Have you ever had to take care of your child or children with a cold? What about when you have the flu? Or a headache? Or maybe a migraine? They all suck. No one wants to do it, but you know there’s a light at the end, the cold will fade and it will be back to business as usual soon enough. When you live in chronic pain though, you have to push through even if there’s no light in sight.
It has been non-stop birthday party season the past six weeks with only one weekend off. We have had only one weekend without a birthday party, and some weekends with three birthdays. My go to gift is always books. So why not gift friendship books for our friends birthdays? Here’s a roundup of our family’s friendship books favs, newborn up to preschool age.
Sophie’s Busy Day
Great from newborn and up. We follow Sophie throughout her day and how her friends help her. Every page also has a sensory aspect, smooth, bumpy, etc. that children will enjoy exploring.
Bunny and Bee Favorite Colors
Bunny and Bee have adventures through the forest observing all the colors in the world. This color learning book isn’t the typical – Red, the circle is red, red flower, red hat, RED – book. There’s a small story where you follow Bunny and Bee through the forest and you can discuss the colors of the forrest on each page.
Otis Loves to Play
Follow a day with Otis the tractor as he plays with his friends on the farm. The illustrations are different from other children’s books being mostly black, white, and shades of grey with Otis being highlighted in red. Great for newborn and up. This was a favorite early on with Reece as he has been truck obsessed since what feels like birth.
Little Blue Truck
A story of friendship, kindness, and helping. Also good for learning animal sounds. Dump Truck doesn’t have time for the animals along the way then gets stuck. When he asks for help it’s Little Blue who helps out. Little Blue Truck is another book that has been well loved, to the point where we’ve on our second copy!
Oliver, Charlie and Lulu love to play. When Oliver isn’t the right size to play in a tree, Charlie and Lulu work together, finding a way for everyone to be included. This book, at one point, was in the must read every night cycle for 6 months at one point!
Peanut & Grape
Kat was gifted Peanut and Grape from one of our friends. It was her very first book that wasn’t a hand me down and 2.5 years later it is still a staple in her bedtime reading cycle. Peanut and Grape are best friends who do everything together. If you have siblings that are super tight then this book is a must have!
Stick and Stone
Stick and Stone were once alone. Brought together by a bully pinecone. Stick and Stone will always “stick” up for one another. The story, simple illustrations, and rhyming are all so sweet. A little wink and nod to the sticks and stones rhyme.
Kat has always been a baldy baby. I thought Reece was a bald baby, until Kat came into our lives. By the time she turned one she had slight peach fuzz. Her second birthday her hair started to fill out a little bit, but was only an inch at best.
When I noticed Kat’s hair was juuuuust long enough for a ponytail I had a mini celebration in my head. I started to try to brush her hair more often, which meant Rich holding her down while I sprayed a liberal amount of detangler and brushed. It wasn’t pleasant. I had moments where I considered letting my daughter’s mangy hair go unchecked into the wild, curly, messy mop it naturally wants to be. She can just wear a hat. Every day until college.
I should have made more of an effort with clips and headbands from the start, but being a second child these good intentions often fall to the wayside. Her animosity over hair brushing did not provide hope. I didn’t let that discourage me.
I, somehow, had to get her on board, maybe even excited. I got a sparkly cat headband with ears, a small array of hair elastics, and a cute wire headband since the wrap around headbands haven’t been well received in the past.
Kat’s hair turning point happened a little bit by accident. I put a headband on her, and she ripped it off so Reece tried to put it on. Of course then Kat really needed the headband and begged to put it on. A mini fight ensued. I found a compromise with Kat wearing the headband and Reece wearing a bow clip. She wore her hair “done up” for the rest of the night instead of the usual twenty seconds. A break through!
Since hair brushing was not a pleasant time, I tried to turn it into something fun and exciting. I sit Kat on the bathroom sink so she can see her self and we brush her hair together. Once that started going smoothly I added in putting her hair in a ponytail.
The first time I put her hair in a ponytail (and almost every time after) she is so proud. Ear to ear smiles. Then she leans over the sink and puts her nose right on the mirror, sometimes she kisses herself. For all the times she drives me crazy, she has some of the sweetest moments.
Since then we have done ponytails, pigtails, and headbands. Every time she is so proud.
I sometimes find it harder to connect with my second child. It takes a lot more work to bond because big brother can take up a lot of the spot light. We didn’t have the same focused solo time that Reece and I had his first two years.
When it’s time to do hair its a small way to have a mini bonding session every morning. I make a big deal about putting a towel in the sink so her feet don’t get wet, I get the brushes and hair bands out, then ask Kat what she wants to do today. She watches me as I brush her hair, sometimes moving her head a little too much in order to see. It’s a peaceful moment of just us girls in the morning. After a little bit of girl talk, and mother-daughter bonding over hair, and we rejoin the chaos of our morning.
What do you do to bond with your children? Big ways or small I’d love to hear them in the comments!
Did you know there’s a 100% guaranteed 3-day potty training method? Every blog I have ever read has sworn by the 3-day method it seems. Sadly, I must report both my children must to be defective because it hasn’t worked for either one. Or maybe the 100% is closer to 80%, or 70%, or, just like all things parenting, it’s a crap shoot.
Parenting isn’t a one size fits all solution, but our experience training our oldest has prepped us for the next time around.
- The first time around we picked the cheapest potty while we were at the store which was a Cars themed potty with multiple parts and made noises. Yeah, no. I recommend the Summer Infant Lil’ Loo Potty. Easy to clean with only two pieces, cheap, and simple. Less pieces the better. We have three of these seats, one for each floor and one for the car.
- We also like the Gerber potty training underwear. It’s a little thicker than normal underwear. They won’t absorb like a diaper, but, if there’s an accident it’s not a complete pee pool in your child’s shoes.
- A few books about using the potty and wearing underwear are also helpful. We like Potty and Big Girl Panties.
- Skip the Elmo, Disney, whatever, travel seat cover. They never fit right, slipping and sliding. If you’re going to get one, splurge. Otherwise, you’ll have a decoration toilet seat cover, just like us.
Lower your expectations, then lower them again. If all else fails, just lose all hope.
Unless there’s some underlining issue, your child will be potty trained at some point. Some are 18 months, others, closer to four years old. Continue to encourage, but keep reminding yourself that it might not happen any time soon. If you expect this to go smoothly or to be able to use some one specific method, it might be really disappointing and frustrating. Just as you wouldn’t be upset with your baby when they can’t sit up on their own or walk, this is something that takes time, practice and a lot of patience.
So What The Hell Do I Do?
We ask several times a day if our daughter needs to go. We walk her to the potty and if she wants to sit on it and not go, that’s fine too. We also celebrate and will give a hand stamp for any time Kat pees in the potty. We have to be very aware of cues since a 2 year old isn’t always the best at communicating. Any time there is pulling on the diaper or babbling that sounds like poop or pee we rush her to the potty.
On weekends when we don’t have plans we will have panty wearing days where we just watch movies all day and try to encourage using the potty. The 3 days method did not work for us, but there are less accidents on underwear days.
Every once in a while we do freak out and try to make Kat sit on the potty in a moment of frustration wanting to put our diaper days behind us. Those moments are much, much less than with our first.
Follow Their Lead
Kat was the one to decide she wanted to do potty training. At 18 months, one day while Reece was at school she walked over to the baby potty in our kitchen (yes, the kitchen, we like to keep it nearby for emergency pees), and started pulling at her clothes. She couldn’t talk much at this point so I stripped her down. Then she pulled at her diaper, so I took it off. She sat down and peed. A lot. I was shocked to say the least since Reece wasn’t trained until 3.5. After that she went several times a day. Then my husband came home from a work trip and didn’t go again for two months. This leads to….
The Only Expectation To Have Is Setbacks
Every time my husband goes on a work trip, potty training goes from rocky to 90% potty trained. Then Rich comes home and it’s huge regressions that last days or months. I cannot even begin to figure out this phenomena. Some kids only pee in the potty, refusing to poop. This can go on for a year. Totally normal. When poop accidents happen, keep your cool and be prepared. If you feel overwhelmed by the idea of cleaning poop out of underwear, never fear! My guide to cleaning pooperware is here to help you out.
This may not be the method that parents want to hear when they are stressing out about potty training, but, what worked for us with Reece was giving up. After over a year of potty training, we decided one weekend we would give it a break and try again in a few months. After giving up hope, the NEXT DAY my son started going 100% in the potty, save occasional overnight accidents when he sleeps later than normal.
That isn’t to say trying all the different methods others before me have come up with won’t work. I just found it so stressful trying to make it happen the first time around. With Kat we read books, ask often, encourage, and have stopped freaking out at how it’s taking more than 3 days, weeks, months.
It may seem lazy, it is, but letting our kids take the lead and not fight with them over peeing helps us. There’s a lot less resistance with Kat verses when Reece was training. Now I don’t get upset over accidents which is easier on all of us. We have other mountains to climb, we don’t need to make this one of them!
I’m not always the best interactive mom. When I join in during play kitchen, my kids tell me I’m not playing the “right” way. Whatever that means. Art and reading, I totally shine. Sometimes, Reece and Kat even prefer MOM to read the book instead of Dad! It’s kind of a big deal in my house because if Dad is home, it’s alllll about Dada! In big ways and small, these are just a few of our favorite books that make Reece and Kat think. Wether it’s about the environment, equality, or kindness, these books help open up the conversation to discuss topics in an age appropriate way.
A Kitten Tale is a sweet tale about three kittens who have never seen snow and worry about the day the snow will come, with a forth kitten who excitedly waits to see snow someday. At the end of the book we discover all the worry is for nothing and snow is fun and exciting.
Kitten wants to be friends with Grumpy Cat but he’s having none of it. I love the idea that Grumpy Cat, while seemingly grumpy is really just a lonely cat who wants to be friends but doesn’t know how. Sometimes, when we are scared or lonely, we will behave in ways that reenforce being ostracized.
My husband thinks I’m overthinking these stories. I think it’s a jumping off point for young children. As these books are newborn and up, the stories are straight forward so toddlers and preschoolers can understand. I’ve been reading these cat books for over 4 years now. My son still likes to analyze why Grumpy Cat is so grumpy and how silly it was that the kittens worried so much about something so great.
My four year old has a lot of questions while reading The Bad Seed. “The seed is cracked, he’s broken, will he ever be fixed?” The Bad Seed is rude and unthoughtful. We learn, he wasn’t always a bad seed, back in his days on the sunflower. The book teaches kids if you want to change yourself, it is within your power to do so. Work hard enough, you can even change peoples perception of you. You don’t always have to be a Baaaaaad Seed.
In Not Quite Narwhal, Kelp, a unicorn, is born in the ocean believing he is a narwhal and always feeling a little off from all his friends. One day Kelp is swept away by an ocean current to the shore. He learns about unicorns and that he is in face a unicorn as well. He loves being with the unicorns but realizes he misses his home. Will his old friends accept him even though he is not a narwhal?
A fun story that incorporates a great lesson about self acceptance, differences in others, and friendship. Super sweet, Reece loves to cuddle with me on the couch just to read this book, then brings it upstairs so Dad can read it for bedtime.
She Persisted turned out to be a surprise hit in our house. She Persisted gives examples of women throughout history who have overcome obstacles, highlights their successes, and encourages young girls to pursue their goals. Even if others say No.
The Sneetches highlights that differences are nothing more than differences that shouldn’t define who a person (or Sneetch) is. Told in a fun way that is understandable for toddlers and up. As an adult, when you are reading the book, you think about how silly the Sneetches are being to let something so unimportant dictate their thoughts and feelings towards others. What I hope my children get out of this book is something that they can take out into the world around them. Stars or no stars, such a thing really doesn’t really matter at all.
A lot of conversations about recycling, reducing waste, and growing our garden, stem from (no pun intended) The Lorax. As most know, it’s a story of the progression of a beautiful Truffula forest that is overtaken by consumerism and excess, then pollution. The Lorax gives warnings which are dismissed until everything is consumed. Is this the end of the Truffula tress? Will the humming fish hum again?
What Do You Do With A Problem? and What Do You Do With An Idea? are beautifully illustrated. I’ll admit, I love these books more than my children, but I can see the wheels turning during bedtime while we read. The books are all about avoiding problems/exploring ideas out of fear of ridicule or failure. When we run away from the idea and problem, it grows and continues to follow us. Once we embrace them, we learn it wasn’t as bad as we had made it out to be. In fact, they are pretty great. Taking on problems and embracing our ideas improve and nourish us.
I have a soft spot for Last Stop On Market Street because, like CJ, I also had a Nana whom I had a special bond with growing up. Nana’s thoughtful answers to CJ’s questions during their bus ride highlight the good and beauty around them. Nana helps CJ observe the people and world beyond the superficial surface. Reece asks a lot of questions about the soup kitchen which makes for great discussions about the world outside our house.
Jeremy badly wants a pair of Those Shoes that all the other kids in his class wears. I think even adults can relate to wanting something out of reach but having to instead, stay within their means to buy what they need. Themes of the book compassion, kindness, and sharing are all easy enough to understand for adults, but might go over a preschoolers head, maybe in the next year or two it won’t go over Reece’s head as much. This book is a great jumping off point to start a conversation and explore further in order to really get your child’s mind thinking.
Both books takes place in urban settings and highlight diversity. Is it just me, or are most children’s books in very rural or suburban settings? Both are great books for opening up a discussion about diversity with preschoolers.
Daughters or sons, it doesn’t matter, Goodnight Stories For Rebel Girls is great, highlighting the successes of 100 different women. Women of all different backgrounds, education, race, incomes. This is a pretty comprehensive book for younger kids, probably better suited for kindergarten or older, but Reece does like the pictures and can get through a page or two without losing interest. Since school has started because Reece started coming home saying, “Girls can do [x, y, z]. Catherine can’t do that, only boys can.” Which makes me glad we can read Goodnight Stories to reinforce that anything boys can do, girls can do also!
What books do you read with your children that have a focus on kindness?
Summer is officially over. I know, not because school is back, but because we have already been struck with the flu. Reece went back to school a few weeks ago, and Kat moved up to Toddler 2 in daycare. Then, the next week Kat had a 103 fever for four days. All her activities and daycare had to be suspended for most of the week.
I had been really excited for September so I could have two full days of both kids in daycare for work and errands. It was a little bit of a setback having Kat homebound, but I got a ton of cuddles and we watched movies all day. Watching movies and TV with the kids is usually my husbands domain. It was nice to have a (almost) guilt free excuse to hang on the couch and Netflix for days.
Everyone, for now, is healthy and back into the normal school year routines. We even got a few cute back to school pictures, including a couple with Mom, Dad and Kat thanks to miniphotographer, Reece.
Back in the Routine
It always take a week or two to get back in the swing of things. School starting up again is no exception. It’s been about a month now and we are back into a groove with our new routine. Reece and Kat are gone all day Mondays and Fridays giving me an opportunity to get productive with my clients, blog, and house projects. I even picked up a new client since school started!
The kid’s schedule during the week is pretty packed with only one “free” day. We hardly ever stay at home all day. During summer our schedule is more relaxed. We can avoid going stir crazy by turning on the sprinkler and frolicking in the backyard. Once winter hits it’s tough to be active without obligations. This means I’m, probably, one of those over-scheduling moms, but, for our family, this is what works best.
I’ve been working on making a better effort on classes just for Kat. Reece has other plans when we go to dance class. The result is either big brother crashing the class of tiny ballerinas like a giant beast or both of them sulking on my lap when I try to keep Reece from participating. Not the desired outcome.
When Kat has gymnastics, Reece is a preschool and is forced to be “on her own” even though it’s a mommy and me class. Most of the time she does not want to do what the class is doing. I never know what the “right” thing to do is. Let her wonder around to explore? Or, stay with the class, follow instructions and wait turns? Half the time I’m reigning her in, the other half I let her do as she pleases. This means she’s at the balance beam, unless that’s what the class is doing. She’s a woman who knows what she wants. Sort of.
After dance is art class. We have a time gap too small to stop at home but makes us crazy early for class. Try as I might to delay our arrival we always end up a half hour early. Sorry Miss Emily!
We have been going to this studio for two years, the teacher knows us well and doesn’t (seem) to mind our early arrival. She even made an exception for Kat to be in the drop-off class even though she isn’t 3. Since Reece and Kat are so happy to be together Miss Emily knew she could handle adding Kat in.
Other Ways We Kept Busy
When we aren’t rushing to our classes and school (or napping, whew!) we have still been able to keep busy. It’s been an unseasonably warm fall, hitting 80F some days in October! We’ve had stroller walks, scooter walks, fun in the backyard, and trips to the playground and apple picking.
We even managed to have fun indoor activities with art and sensory projects, baking, and laundry. Yes, my kids help with the laundry! It’s not always perfect, sometimes the kids rush to do it excitedly, “Yayyyy time to put the washer clothes in the dryer! Woohoo!!” Other times there’s fighting, yelling, tears and frustration – on both sides. After a little distraction they calm down, I ask again, and happily help out. Ohhhh, to be a tiny human. I’ll miss my little helpers! Please stop growing!!
Before we knew it, September ended. Not that we can tell, with the 80 degrees weather, which I’m not complaining about! I think I’m the only one who isn’t. I love the heat. I suspect New Englanders have reoccurring winter-amnesia.
September closed out with Dad going away for a week on a work trip and we finally found a lunch Reece would eat while at school (jelly and jelly sandwich). When Dad got back, leaves were starting to turn and it was time to start thinking about Halloween. Now, if we can just find our Halloween stuff that we moved during the renovation….
Far away, are the easy breezy days of meeting people and making friends in high school or college. Graduating can bring a sense of starting over, but you work at it and while finding your way in the world, you meet some cool people. Then you become a mom. The new life phase can wash away at the momentum you gained growing friendships. Your priorities, lifestyle, schedule, availability all shift.
I’ve been a mom for four years now, and it wasn’t until recently I started to remotely feel like I’ve gotten into a groove with other moms. Motherhood is awesome and fulfills me in a way I never realized was missing. What also comes with it are innumerable responsibilities and a rollercoaster of feelings that can be overwhelming. I swear, half of the burden of motherhood can be the mental load, thinking about everything you need to be doing, what everyone needs. Finding a peer you can trust, to talk freely with and unload with, is cathartic. But how do you find your people?
If you manage to find a prospective mom you think you might click with, you still have to contend with so many factors that go against making friends. To make new friends you need consistency, the confidence to make plans, availability, and commonality. Other things as well to be sure, but these are some main building blocks. Kids throw a major wrench into the mix.
Is it me?
It can feel like you’re the only one struggling to make friendships. Not so! There have been so many times I’ve cried or been in a funk over not having close friends nearby or false start friendships. When we are viewing our friends, acquaintances, bloggers, etc., through the lens of Instagram and Facebook, we have to remember, that is NOT real life. It’s a projected life that is cropped using only one perfect picture out of fifty crappy pictures or moments.
The Mommy Dating Game
Motherhood is a friendship HUSTLE! You’ve gotta work it! When you do meet someone you mesh with, you have to actually meet up a second time to get the ball rolling. Sounds easy, but damn!
Moms (I mean, kids) are signed up for some many activities and obligations. Trying to plan a playdate with another Mama is like playing the most complicated game of Tetris Scheduling there ever was. On the one hand, all those classes, activities, and other obligations are helping moms to get out there and meet new people. On the flip side, they can get in the way of making plans sometimes.
First Base, and Beyond
While you are meeting people at these cool kid things, you typically don’t have a lot of down time to talk and connect. This is where it gets awkward. You think someone seems could be cool and you want to “take it to the next level” by doing something outside of class. You’re basically back in the dating scene. Only instead of guys, you’re trying to catch a mom friend. Remember when you thought dating was soooo hard? Mom dating, is a whole other level.
Then, say you do find that miracle day where the stars align and you can meet up. Congratulations! You’ve made it to second base! There is a 1000% chance a kid will get sick, have a poopsplosion all over the car seat making it impossible to drive anywhere, some family emergency, or some other crazy issue will arise for one of you. Boo!
The Setbacks Can Be Killer
If it’s not you that had to cancel/reschedule, then you’re thinking, “Did I do something wrong? What if they just aren’t that into me? Maybe I came off too strong? Or not strong enough?!?!” Stop the downward spiral. Avert! Avert! Your logical self understands. After all, it could have just as easily been you that had to cancel for all the crazy reasons that happen when you have kids. Still, it’s hard to not feel insecure or slighted sometimes. And this can happen multiple times before actually succeeding in both of moms showing up for a date, I mean, play date.
Get Out There, Then Be Ready to Repeat
You must put yourself out there. Way out there. I think I’ve had more play dates or mom nights out that have been rejected or cancelled, than have happened. It can get a person down. I know how easy it is to get discouraged, just keep at it. I swear, took FOUR YEARS for me to find and connecting with new people. While I’ve gotten to 4th base with some moms, I would still say we are in the honeymoon phase of our dating. I do think the outlook is promising!
Haste is Waste
It’s not to say it won’t happen next week, or tomorrow even. Remember though, any friendship needs time. Sometimes in our haste to connect with other people we overlook the fact that maybe there isn’t much substance. Sure, you both have kids the same age, and that can go a long way, but similar parenting philosophies, love of gardening, or whatever, other real interests are needed in any friendship.
Tall, Dark, and Handsome!
Remember when you were out there in the dating field? Didn’t you think you had a ‘type?’ You still must look around and be selective. As a Mom, you don’t have time (I mean literally, the schedule is packed) to date moms that you don’t even care to hang out with. I know it seems like you can’t be, but you need to! This isn’t high school. A core group to keep you grounded, save you from your kids, show up for plans. This will only happen if it’s the real thing.
Keep perspective by knowing motherhood is perfect for no one. Again, don’t get sucked into the social media projection. Successes and setbacks are all part of finding cool moms.
If you can relate to this, please, please share! Better yet, let me know how you work through the mom dating scene or how you persevered and found a mom bestie!
Parent or not, there are always items you misplace, daily even. Things you might routinely lose: your keys, phone, TV remote, or wallet. These are items pretty much everyone can relate to misplacing regularly. After kids, the list seems to increase exponentially. Pillows from your couch can go missing for days. I don’t even know how that can even happen, but it can. We have packed everything up, moved, gone through everything while unpacking and still been unable to find outfits, books, or tools.
I’m not sure if it’s mom brain, or sneaky kids, or just complete loss of your bearings, but items just seem to disappear into a black hole, never to return when you become a parent.
The list is endless, but these are my top missing items offenders:
- Nail clippers
- Butt cream
- Half eaten food
- Fridge magnets (Especially the ABC’s magnets)
There are even multiples of most of these items (I’m talking about you most of all nail clippers!) and still we are unable to unearth it when we need it. Below are just a few found (or half found) items over my past four years of motherhood.
If you are in the same boat as me, always check the play kitchen first! Did I hit the mark, or miss something in your top 10? I would love to know. Please tell me I’m not alone!
The entire summer there has been no overlap in daycare for Kat and Reece. As a result, Mondays and Fridays, Reece has been getting 100% mom time while Kat’s in daycare, and Tuesday through Thursday the mornings are all about Kat, while Reece is at camp. Once school starts in September, Reece’s mom only days will be few and far between. This will be great for my productivity, but will be a little sad. We will still have plenty of time together, but the dynamic is just a little different with little sister or dad around. Since our Reece and Mom only days are numbered once school starts, I took advantage and planned a special day for both of us. A Mommy/Reece date!!
I got an invitation to go to the Trunk Club Boston’s Clubhouse and decided it was the perfect excuse to make the drive into Boston. I don’t venture into Boston often because I don’t like risking a car nap happening at the wrong time. But, caution to the wind, it’s our special day! My Trunk Club appointment motivated me to follow through. I kept the plan flexible, with just an itinerary of my Trunk Club appointment, swan boats, ice cream, and explore the Back Bay and Beacon Hill neighborhoods.
We arrived a little early and sat by the fountain outside Trinity Church. I pointed out the John Hancock Building, Boston Public Library, and Copley Place Mall to him. I also pointed out a Wendy’s that used to be Poppy’s pizza shop. Reece was only interested in the Hancock Building. Now I have some homework to do finding toddler facts about Boston’s tallest building. Our Trunk club appointment took about an hour, I got two cute shirts. The focus for the rest of the day was whatever Reece wanted to do! We drove down to the Boston Public Garden and only had to circle once for a spot. I was so relieved, there are parking lots nearby but street parking is so much cheaper! We would have walked, but I forgot the stroller and the parking meter time was a factor.
Reece really wanted to explore and inspect every acorn. He’s a dawdler, I rushed a little bit to make our way to the swan boats. I didn’t want to risk lots of aimless wandering, then scratching the main event to haul it home ASAP for a nap. Don’t worry, I didn’t rush too much. It still took us about 20 minutes from the car to the docks – it’s about a 3 minute walk for a normal person.
We spent about 10 minutes on the footbridge talking about how we were going to go on the swan boats. I have to mention, Reece dressed himself, which explains the backwards shirt. I asked him several times if he wanted to fix his shirt to no avail. Nope, very proud, he did it himself, doesn’t need help. At least his shorts were on right. I think it’s 50/50 that any article of clothing is on the right way.
Once we had soaked up the idea of what the swan boats were, we made our way into the line, applied more sunscreen, and hopped onboard. If you don’t know the history of the swan boats, you should read about it here. It’s not a long read, and the sweetest story.
Back at the dock we decided it was ice cream time, so off Reece and I ventured to some of the pushcarts nearby. I did not have any cash so that was a fail. We explored the Commons and Gardens a little more and headed down to Charles Street to find lunch. A few of the places I wanted to check out had crazy, long lines and weren’t the most toddler friendly, and most importantly, NO ice cream. After three or four restaurant fails we decided on Caffe Bella Vita. I told my father later, and his response was, “That place is still open?” Apparently, he used to go as a kid for gelato. We ordered gelati for lunch with a PBJ dessert.
We still had time left in the meter for one more thing. It would be tight, but just enough time to go to the Boston Common Carousel. I found $3 after rummaging through my diaper bag, hurrah! Reece picked a bench instead of a horse and was in toddler heaven. I even let him have a slush on the walk back to the car. Which was sort of a bad idea because at this point we were pushing the limit of our parking meter time. I tried to carry the slush to pick up the pace but no dice. We got to the car and while I was buckling him in our time expired. Whew!
When we saw Dada that night, he asked Reece, “What did you do today?” Reece told him, “I went shopping with Mama.” Glad the swan boats, ice cream, carousel, and exploring the city and BPG made an impression! When pressed he did also mention he had ice cream for lunch, haha.
First I had to say goodbye officially to the infant phase of my life when Kat turned two, and now Reece is four? His last birthday before he is ‘school aged.’ Stop growing babies!! Pity party aside… This year Reece could, somewhat, help pick out what he wanted to do for his birthday party. I gave him a couple options he picked a backyard Dr. Seuss party. The past few months he’s fallen back in love with his Dr. Seuss books and his birthday party countdown commenced.
We invited our family and Reece’s preschool class, which is pretty wild for us. I took the gamble that most people wouldn’t be able to make it since it would be summer vacation. As I had thought, only a handful of classmates RSVPed yes, a couple no, but the majority we didn’t hear from. We planned food for more than we expected, since we weren’t 100% sure how many to expect. Best to have too much food than not enough.
I later found out during our play group, pretty close to the party, several people didn’t even get the invitation and just assumed we only invited close friends when other play group moms mentioned it. The problem with distributing cards to the class AT school I suppose. Oops. Hopefully we didn’t offend our classmates. I learned, three and four year olds aren’t the best messengers. Who knew?
As with Kat’s party I whipped up a Pinterest board for ideas on what little touches of Dr. Seuss I could bring to the party.
We only bought a couple things, a Dr. Seuss party banner from my favorite store, Target, of course, and a few red and blue plates and cups. The only other decor were signs I drew myself. Since it was a backyard party, we didn’t need to go crazy on decorations.
To go with the Dr. Seuss theme that was preschool friendly we did pasta salad (noodle eating poodle), gold fish (the fish from The Cat In The Hat) and of course (Truffula) fruit salad. Not theme related, but other food included: hotdogs, popcorn, chocolate chip cookies, and mini Oreo. The kids spent about half the party crowded around the food table helping themselves to Oreo and popcorn so good thing we didn’t stick to only theme food.
We were going to do water activities, but nixed it since not all the kiddos had suits. Didn’t matter, the kids played on the swing set, a crawling tunnel, balls, and all the other outdoor toys we have and had a blast. By candle time pretty much all the kids were ready for naps. Not very Pinteresty, but at this age running around outside is much more fun than adults trying to tell them what to do and when to do it.
Reece requested cupcakes. The most important part of these cupcakes (for me) were the Dr. Seuss colors. So I picked up a food coloring kit.
I picked a couple different story books: The Lorax, One Fish Two fish Red Fish Blue Fish, and Oh, The Places You’ll Go! For the truffula trees I used this super easy tutorial to make yarn flowers which actually make a cool truffula trees, then stuck the pipe cleaner into straws that I cut down a little to fit the cupcakes.
For the One Fish Two Fish cupcakes I piped yellow frosting, then put gummy sharks or Swedish fish on top. Oh, The Places You’ll Go cupcakes, simply piped a layer in few different colors with the round frosting tip.
Since I made more than enough, my husband brought the leftovers to his office and he reported back that his coworkers knew it was Dr. Seuss cupcakes! I was pretty jazzed. For any allergy kiddos we made some Cat In The Hat parfait.
If you are thinking of a birthday party that isn’t a typical character theme that you can find at Party City, don’t feel overwhelmed! There are ways to get creative and not spend all your budget on Etsy. And, don’t forget the most important goal, a fun party for the birthday boy/girl. All that’s needed for a successful birthday party, really, is playing and toddler friendly food.
Another year, another year older for Kat. Wahhh!! I officially no longer have a 1 and 3 year old. After lots of self pity wondering where the time went, I got to planning on how to celebrate my despair… Umm.. Happiness… Time to get cracking on the birthday party planning.
I’m not one to go all out with huge, fancy blowout birthday parties, but I do like to do a couple special touches. We typically have smallish backyard parties since we have April and June babies. We invited our family and a couple friends who have toddlers the same age as Reece and Kat, keeps it somewhat manageable for us.
Since Reece and Kat are still pretty little, I have a good amount of control on all birthday party aspects. At this age, let’s be real, it’s basically the parents party. Regardless, I wanted to make it Kat’s party as much as I could. She’s a pretty sunny baby and loves her unicorn costume, trains, gymnastics, baby dolls, legos… So many interests and cool things, what to pick?! After some brainstorming, and a lot of flip flopping, I settled on an art theme. We do art class every week along with big brother and this was a chance to show off her artistic chops!
I created a pinterest board to help inspire me. Then I tried to figure out what could be done with minimal work and on the cheap.
I hung up Kat and Reece’s art work around the house to showcase their beautiful work (read: scribbles). Then I bought a unicorn table cloth and a couple little strings that had colorful mini poms on them and strung them up on a window and the front door.
I tried to keep things colorful since it was an art theme. I did a veggie rainbow platter and a bowl with all different colored fruit. I stumbled upon some Chewies that had rainbow sprinkles on them. Then we got lazy and bought some chicken bites, plus mac and cheese bites and baked them up. Hey, it’s a toddler party, right?
Of course we have to have some painting at our Art Birthday party! So I bought a pack of board canvas, one for each toddler friend and restocked our paint. Then I moved the craft table into the main room so the kids weren’t squished in the playroom. They spent about 5 minutes painting and crafting, the rest of the time they were either eating (80% of Kat’s time at least) or going to town with whatever toys they could find in the playroom. Somehow, the house wasn’t a huge mess after the party, woohoo!
This is typically the ‘big’ thing I do for my children’s birthdays. To create this cool looking cake, I baked SIX layers of cake then frosted it with vanilla frosting. I melted white chocolate in several bowls and mixed each one with a different food coloring color. Using a spoon, I dribbled the chocolate over the cake edge. I let Reece help by letting him go to town with some dot rainbow sprinkles, covering the entire top. To top it all off, I got a pack of paper poms. A pretty big show stopper. I thought with all the white chocolate it would be disgusting since I’m not really a fan, but paired with the cake it was yummy.
If you are planning an Art themed birthday party, I hope this gave you some ideas of what you could do. Stay tuned in the upcoming weeks if you are interested in a Dr. Seuss theme, I’ll be posting Reece’s Dr. Seuss party!