Currently Obsessed: White Kitchens

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At the end of the month our little family is making the move to a 2 bedroom colonial townhouse in Alexandria, VA and we are THRILLED! It is exactly what we wanted, with one exception: it has the worlds smallest kitchen. I honestly do not think I am exaggerating making that statement. In our experience, when it comes to renting a home, kitchens tend to be the biggest drawback… and with each move ours seems to get smaller. So lately, just for fun, I’ve been fantasizing about my far off future kitchen. I’m pretty much just obsessed with kitchen design, specifically white kitchens with wood countertops… or wood accents of some sort. The one benefit to renting and experiencing so many different horrible kitchens: you really perfect your idea of your dream home. When it comes time to buy and renovate, we will know EXACTLY what we want.

Sharing is Caring…

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Remember college? image via Pinterest

A good read: White Parents Should Talk To Their Kids About Discrimination.  Yes.

Great Idea For Walking Around a Museum: I am the worst at this. The absolute worst. I speed through museums. This became all the more clear while studying abroad, visiting museums in London and Florence with a dear friend who I typically ended up falling asleep on a chair somewhere waiting for while she was surely becoming a better person, taking the time to absorb and appreciate the brilliance around us.

I would like this knitted dress, this corduroy dress, and this floral dress from mini Boden for baby girl. Also, this vest for Roman.

As a follow up to my recent post on Toddler Discipline, I thought I’d share some posts I’ve found interesting in my internet research since then!

 The Real Reasons Toddlers Push Limits

Don’t Leave a Testing Toddler Hanging 

Tantrums and Meltdowns: My Secret For Staying Calm When My Kids Aren’t

Temper Tantrums

How To Be The Gentle Leader Your Child Needs

How To Help Our Indecisive Toddlers 

5 Easy Steps To Effective Limit Setting With Toddlers

We’re heading home to NJ this weekend to visit with some friends we haven’t seen in a while! Hope you all have a fun filled, tantrum free weekend folks!

Roman: A 15 Month Update

Roman is 15 months old!

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I didn’t think I would continue monthly updates after Roman turned one. (I know how silly people think it sounds when you continue to refer to your child’s age in months after a certain point.) The thing is, he is still changing so quickly, there is still so much to say and remember about this past month!

Between 14 and 15 months specifically I’ve seen his ability to understand us really click. If I say “are you hungry?” he runs to the kitchen and signs “more”. If I say “would you like to take a bath?” or “Mama has to use the bathroom,” he runs to the bathroom. If I ask if he would like to go for a walk, he runs to the front door. We’ve reached the point where I no longer feel like I’m just talking at him, I’m talking to him, and he understands what I am saying!

He is picking up new words all of the time! His latest, clearest new word is “no”. Whenever he sees a wall socket he wags his finger at it and says “no,no,no”, whenever he pulls the charger out of our laptops, smashes on the keyboard, or does anything we typically tell him not to do… he says “no, no, no” and shakes his head while he does it.

He uses “up” constantly. Sometimes it seems he is just using it because he enjoys using his words to accomplish things. He has a little blue high chair seat that he wants to sit in now all the time. He says, “up” to request to get in it… and then “up” to request to get down, and then back in… etc.

When he learns a new word he has the cutest, most exaggerated way of saying it for awhile at first. His whole faces stretches to annunciate, it is adorable.

He is obsessed with the fruit smoothies I make him for breakfast in the morning!

He has added “woof woof” to the words he uses excitedly when he see’s a dog.

His love of music and dancing just keeps on growing. He comes up with new moves constantly and has certain different moves for different kinds of music, like he’s really feeling it…

He is OBSESSED with my outie belly button. He loves to poke it and giggle and yell. He still has no idea what I’m talking about when I say there’s a baby in there.

He plays a new game where we hide something in our shirts and he looks around like he doesn’t know where it is and then pulls it out and cracks up. He now does the “look around and search adorably” move in all sorts of situations. I love the way he learns new games and initiates them on his own.

He also picked up on a new game where he drops something, or throws something or something along those lines… and then yells “aaaah” and covers his mouth with both hands in an animated and dramatic fashion. Adorable.

He climbs on EVERYTHING. He stands and rocks on his rocking horse, he climbs up and stands and rocks on our rocking chair, and he can now pretty much climb up onto the couches himself.

He had a brief phase where he could try to take toys from children at the playground, and smack at them to get what he wanted, which I think he learned from enduring such behavior from other children… but it seems to have past, whew!

He is one happy, rambunctious, sweet cuddly child and I just can’t get enough of him. (I even miss him while he’s sleeping… as precious as those breaks are, I am just addicted to his smile, I can’t help it.)

Transitioning To a Montessori Bed and Nursery

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Roman’s sleep journey has followed its own long and winding path.

At 15 months he now naps once a day for 2-3 hours and sleeps through the night for almost 12, most of the time. After months of relying on motion to fall asleep he can now squirm himself to sleep in bed with us at night and at nap time. In our bed, with us.

With the new baby due to arrive in 3 months, our move to a 2 bedroom home is happening just in time to make one last sleep transition for Roman before her arrival. We figure the simplest way to transition Roman into sleeping alone in his own room is to buy him a twin mattress to place on the floor, Montessori style, and continue our current routine… except that we end up in our own bed in our room, and he stays in his. Sometimes just one of us puts him to sleep, but if we are both home it is usually both of us. We plan to adjust to one parent at bedtime now, since that is how it will have to be when the new baby arrives. I don’t worry about him waking up alone because this is something he’s accustom to and comfortable with at nap time.

Besides the benefit of Roman having his own room, the new house is set up with the master bathroom and bedrooms upstairs, streamlining our bedtime routine. Now after bath time we can take Roman directly to his room for stories and cuddling, avoiding the distracting atmosphere of the living room full of toys. So we want to make sure his bedroom is a simple, calming environment, since its main purpose is as a sleep space. It will house all his stuffed animals and bed time books… nothing plastic that lights up or plays music, no clutter.

With the Montessori style room there is a lot to take into consideration to ensure a safe set up. Roman LOVES to climb. He climbs on EVERYTHING. So obviously, I’m a little concerned about leaving him alone in his room to wake up and play independently. We will use a video monitor, and the room is directly adjacent to ours, but still.

Safety precautions we’ve determined so far:

1. All wall outlets will have to be hidden

2. All climbable toys and furniture will have to be kept in the living room and downstairs office/play space, including: his rocking horse, activity cube, rocking chair, and shelving unit

3. We will need padded walls surrounding the bed, and a bumper to ensure he does not roll out, even though the mattress is on the floor (he does a lot of wrestling to get to sleep, and a lot of tossing and turning and crawling at night)

4. No hanging strings or curtains

5. Always leave the door shut, and the stairs gated, consider adding an additional barrier between his room and the steps (the bedrooms in the new home are upstairs)

Do I sound crazy? I might, but I’m telling you: this kid is a dare devil!

*Inspirational images via: gallery of floor beds on apartment therapyPaul and PaulaOffbeat Familiesapartment therapy

Do you have any experience with floor beds and Montessori nurseries? Any advice? Is it something you would consider?

Roman’s Favorite Toys (1 Year Old)

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When it comes to toys, Roman and I don’t always have the same taste. Some of the beautiful wooden toys I pick out for him go unloved. Some of the light up, music playing plastic toys he’s gifted get loved intensely, but usually for short periods of time. At this point, there are a few stand outs that have held his interest over time, so I thought I’d share with you a list of his dearest play things, the toys I can whole heartedly recommend, here goes:

1. Melissa & Doug Fishing Magnetic Puzzle Game: It was love at first sight with this toy and his passion for fishing has not wavered. Also, its a real crowd pleaser. People (yourself included) will be amazed that your 1 year old can focus hard enough and manage the coordination to magnetically catch and lift the wooden puzzle pieces!

2. Crocodile Creek 5″ Playground Ball: Crocodile creek makes the cutest balls, they come in two sizes, we got both and Roman always favors the smaller 5″ option. “Ball” was one of his first words!

3. Wooden Activity Cube: My mom picked out this activity cube and we love it! Roman loves spinning the alphabet pieces, opening and closing the doors, sliding the wooden beads around, shoving things into the wires of the “busy zoo” etc etc… it gets a lot of use!

4. Plan Toys Clatter Classic: Roman loves anything that makes noise/music. The rainbow colors of this toy provide a little visual interest as well.

5. Plan Toys Stacking Ring: I love all the different patterns he can create with the dome shaped rings… not that he’s into pattern creation just yet, this is certainly a toy that grows with toddlers. His interest and focus on stacking the rings always amazes me. We keep this out on a shelf in the living room and he picks it up to play with on his own regularly. The smaller stick and holes make it a little more challenging than some other options I’ve seen, which seems to make it more interesting for him.

6. Giant stuffed bear: My aunt had this bear handmade for Roman. We live in a small apartment and my husband was not too thrilled about the gift. Roman on the other hand LOVES it. He runs up to it and hugs it constantly. He wrestles with it, hides things under it. I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that every kid needs a giant stuffed animal. At the library recently he spotted a giant stuffed zebra and giraffe and got equally excited to pet and tackle them… which made me want to get him more, but that would be crazy. 

7. Jellycat Stuffed Kitten: Roman does not have a “lovey”. He has yet to grow seriously attached to any blankets or stuffed animals. Lately though, he’s been giving his stuffed animals a lot of loving. This cat in particular. Jellycat makes the softest stuffed animals, and I think this one is just the perfect size and shape for him to hug, snuggle and carry around, so its been a favorite.

8. Tin Spinning Top: My grandparents gave Roman a tin spinning top (not those exact ones, but it looks about the same) and he became fascinated with it at a surprisingly young age. Since well before he was one he has loved to sit and push down and pump the top, trying to balance it and make it spin… another great toy for focus and coordination!

9. Play Tunnel: My parents and in-laws both have similar play tunnels at their homes for Roman, and we plan to pick one up at Ikea for our new home… he loves to crawl through them, play hide and seek and peek-a-boo… a great active toy for inside the house. 

10. Music Sets and music in general: Roman has the set pictured and was gifted another “music set” as well with a little drum… his grandparents have also given him some pretty legit musical instruments from the music store… and he loves them all. Anything he can drum on, shake, make noise with… these toys will never get old. We play music for him on our computers and iPhones and so those are some of his favorite things too. Whenever he sees them he starts dancing to signal he’d like us to play him some songs… we should probably get him an actual music player of some sort.

11. funnels and mini buckets for the bath: When it comes to bath toys, Roman’s play things of choice are some little beach buckets and kitchen funnels.  Playing with water is his other favorite thing besides music and dancing, so bath time is play time, and he prefers toys that let him experiment with water rather than little animals or boats for imaginary play. I imagine he’d like something like this as well.

What are your toddlers favorite toys?! 

A Parenting Revelation In Discipline: Theory vs Practice

*This post was originally written for and shared on Hellobee

At 14 months old, Roman has begun to experience his very first little temper tantrums. The first caught me by surprise at our local bakery: we were sharing a smoothie, Roman kept insisting on pulling out the straw and waving it around splattering smoothie juice everywhere. When I tried to put the straw back and redirect him, his whole body tensed up and he squealed and waved his fists in the air. After the second little “fit” I put him in his stroller and made a swift exit. Later that evening a similar temper tantrum was thrown at home, only this time he added a little “turn around and knock all the toys over” maneuver. My husband sat across the room with his hands over his face, trying to muffle his hysterical laughter.

The “fits” have continued on occasion in a similar fashion ever since. Tried and true “redirection” is no longer cutting it. At his current age, we are finding the task of guiding appropriate behavior quite challenging. When he’s throwing handfuls of cheerios out of his snack cup onto the floor at the grocery store giggling with a huge smile on his face, it is just so hard to look at him seriously and correct him in a convincing tone. My theoretical goal of being “consistent” is not as simple as it sounded to my pre-toddler possessing self.

Since becoming pregnant with Roman, I’ve been reading articles about parenting, filling my head with theories about how I will raise him. I read a lot about discipline in particular because it’s an area I feared would not come naturally. From what I’ve read I decided I’d have to set clear boundaries, establish consistency in their rules and routines, and always follow through. My parenting fantasies focused on somewhat rational beings around the age of three. I imagined myself reasoning with my sweet sophisticated child, molding him into a respectful, well mannered little man. I recently came across this article, “Why We Aren’t The Parents We Know We Could Be” in which the author explains, “Of course, there are all sorts of reasons why knowing better doesn’t always translate into doing better: we’re busy and exhausted, we’re lazy and set in our ways. Plus it isn’t always obvious when and how the abstract applies to the concrete.”

This issue of recognizing how to apply the abstract to the concrete is where I find myself suddenly facing realizations about the challenges of putting these parenting philosophies into practice. Life is so nuanced and so far what I’ve learned as a parent is that as much as I’ve read and informed myself on all possible parenting choices and methods, whether the issue of the moment was sleep or feeding or behavior, I went with my instincts — with what came naturally to me and felt right for my baby. My parenting style fell right into my own rhythm as a person, (I was just never going to be the regimented, on schedule, sleep training, do it all perfectly type of mom) which seems quite obvious now, but at the time I thought there was some “best” way to be decided on. So as I venture into this new phase of toddlerhood with all of its exciting milestones and challenges, I wonder if my “motherly instincts” are going to align with my “motherly intellect.” Suddenly I worry that I’ll start making mistakes that will set a completely misguided foundation for future behavior. Does knowing that “knowing better” doesn’t translate naturally into “doing better” help, I wonder?

I try to be as “free range” as you can with a 14 month old, letting him explore, drawing the line only when a situation is unsafe or unhealthy. Now I wonder if this is making the “rules” less clear for Roman. He can pull one thing out of the cabinet and not the other, sometimes he can stir the pot and sometimes he cannot. It is all so confusing and frustrating at his age. He has recently learned the words and concepts “hot” and “uh oh” which makes me hopeful that other similar developments and more understanding are just around the corner. However, I feel certain that he understands, “no” and just chooses to ignore me. He occasionally waves his finger and shakes his head at something to indicate he’s grasped the explanation, but most of the time he proceeds with whatever it is he was trying to do as if he cannot hear me. If he’s a naturally defiant resistor of authority than I have no one but myself to thank, whether its genes or karma, it’s coming from me… maybe that’s why I worry. (Cue my mother’s knowing grin here.)

Right now I’m working on removing him from the frustrating situation (or removing the object of frustration) as quickly as possible, keeping a calm and reassuring tone and always explaining the reason behind the rule (even if he cannot understand yet). I try not to makes statements I will not follow through on (that one is hard) and I always keep in mind that he lives in a confusing world in which he is on a constant exploratory mission.

How do you handle your young toddler’s temper tantrums? Have your ideas on discipline and guiding behavior changed from experience (shattering all of your pre-parenthood delusions)?

*In the comment section of the original post on Hellobee one wise mom recommended janetlansbury.com for excellent advise! Also her two books, No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame and No Drama Discipline … which I plan to check out soon!

Sending Off Auntie April!

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This week my sister left for a year on the road, working for the Broadway production Cinderella’s national tour. She’ll be hotel hopping through most US major cities (so exciting!) with very little time off… i.e. we might not see her until Memorial Day Weekend (since I’m too far along in my pregnancy to visit her, sigh.)

Last week she spent some time here, packing in quality moments with Roman… the highlight being a spontaneous play session in the Georgetown Waterfront Fountain (no one had extra clothes packed, Roman included.) In previous visits he was always very timid in that fountain… I walked up to meet them (after an hour long massage at Magnolia Massage and Body, Groupon gift from my mama) and could not believe that it was my son I saw running wild under the water arch, laughing and splashing with my mom and sister. Apparently he discovered he could soak them by running his hands through the streams of water… thought it was hysterical… and just went to town.

We feel pretty certain that Roman thinks Auntie April is a walking jukebox. He seems to associate her directly with her phone, and her phone with music, to the point where as soon as he sees her he starts waving his arms to request a dance party.

We plan to have lots of Facetime sessions in the year to come.

We miss you already Auntie April! Enjoy your adventure!

(Also, doesn’t he look just like her?! Whenever we’re all out together, people always mistake her as his mother!)