Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Look Who's Talking: 23 months!

I can’t believe I will have a 2 year old in a month from now. Well I can kind of believe it just because he’s acting and looking like a proper big boy these days. I just cannot get over how tall he is and I’m so thankful he got his daddy’s genes in that area. 
I often get asked:’ Is your husband really tall??’ when people find out how young he is. I guess it’s pretty obvious that particular attribute did not come from me! One lady in line behind me at Home Goods even had the gall to say: ‘He must look like his daddy.’ inferring that she couldn’t see any resemblance between us. 
So maybe he’s tall with blonde hair, but I still maintain that he has the Doublin nose! I think it’s funny that almost everyone says Forest is the spitting image of Jonathan EXCEPT for his parents who agree with me that there is a bit of my daddy in that handsome face. 
Well I’ve gone off on a proper tangent, haven’t I? I’ll pass the mic to Forest for his monthly guest post! 
Hiya guys. Let's jump right in, shall we?

1) Having to stop playing in order to eat. Unless lunch is a smoothie, then I’ll drop everything and come running. Otherwise you can expect a full on poltergeist tantrum if you try to sit me in my highchair. 

2) Having to stop playing to get my diaper changed. But I also rather dislike stopping playing in order to pee on the potty so I guess diapers are the lesser of two evils for now. Sigh. 
Wait, there is more to this potty thing than just playing on the iPad? Nevermind!

That’s about it for my dislikes other than the fact that I’m almost 2 so every once in awhile I have to shriek and throw a tantrum over the most random events- just keepin’ my momma on her toes. 


1) Football. 
Who knew there was more to watching TV than Daniel Tiger and Baby Einstein? 
I love Game Day and cheering on LSU, but my favorite part is for sure the chick-fil-a commercials. Pigskins, Cows, and sneaking chips and queso dip off my dad’s plate- what could be better than that? 

2) Walking/Running home from the park.  Especially down the big hill.
Since I’m pretty much over playground equipment, my parents have taken to just walking me up to the park in my stroller and then letting me make the ¾ mile trek home on my own two feet. 

I’ve rewarded them by being so tired that I “sleep in” til 7 AM so it’s really a win-win for everyone. 

3) My rain boots. 

Just because California is in a record setting drought doesn’t mean I can’t make a fashion statement. I also rather enjoy trying on my mom and dad’s shoes for size. 

4) Stuffed animals. I know I said that last month too but it’s worth mentioning again, in case any of you readers were thinking of sending me a birthday gift...

5) Building towers. 

I like building towers with traditional materials but, like any true artist, I can work with whatever supplies I have at my disposal. 
My mom can't even really get mad at me for playing with my food, since it generally involves making towers out of butternut squash and she's all about "fostering creativity" and "majoring in engineering", even at the expense of my nutritional health, apparently.

Alright folks, that’s me. See you next month for the final installment of my guest blog series. Catch ya on the flip side. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Gift Ideas for One Year Olds

My precious niece turned one this past weekend, and y’all know I had a ball choosing what to buy her as a gift. Some women are normal and love to shop for clothes or shoes, but I seem to have developed a fetish for toys. There is nothing I would rather spend money on and get a little gleeful when I have an occasion to buy a gift for a tot. 

However, I remember when all of Forest’s play group friends were turning 1 and I was a little stumped at what to buy.  Forest being my first kiddo, I just couldn’t see into the future to anticipate how his interests and abilities might change during his second year of life. Looking back now, I can think of a trillion perfect gifts for a 1 year old, and I figured I would compile those into a blog post in case any of you know any babies you need to buy a gift for. 

It helps to know the major milestones of year 2. Generally in the first few months after turning one, kids are really working on mastering the art of walking and honing their fine motor skills. In the second half of year 2 they are really building vocabulary and starting to use their imaginations for pretend play. When buying a gift, you certainly want to focus on hitting as many of these developmental groups as possible. I also feel like most of the best toys at this age are still gender neutral.  These are my favorite ideas for this age group:  

1) Orange Tree Toys Push Along

This is our standard ‘Happy 1st Birthday!’ gift. It has been an absolute favorite of Forest’s for multiple months. 
In the 12-18 month timespan, most kids (boys especially) are endlessly entertained with simply walking. Forest was fascinated by any toys that could be pushed or pulled, but the cool sound effects of the balls on the wheels hitting the ground on this toy has just made it a perennial favorite among him and all his friends that come over to play. It was the first toy that Forest ever acted possessive of so for a spell I took to hiding it during playdates so that it wasn’t an issue of contention. It’s a beautiful well made toy and an added bonus is that it rattles, so it serves as a sort of cat bell so you always know where your toddler is in the house! 

Forest actually does not own this toy but gravitates to it when we visit friends who do. His buddy Ryan had loaned it to him as part of a toy exchange for a few weeks and Forest couldn’t get enough. 
Wheels, wheels, wheels. Anything with wheels.

Forest is absolutely *all boy* in every sense of the word, especially when it comes to being obsessed when any form of motor vehicle, tractors included. Add in a fascination with farm animals and this toy is just a winner all around. 

If you press the button at the front of the tractor, it even rolls on its own, and each of the animals fit into the bed in a designated spot (like a puzzle) and when you correctly put them in they make their animal sound. So it’s educational as well as entertaining which is really the mark of a great toy for this age group. Plus, when you fit the farmer into the tractor he sings ‘Old Macdonald’ which isn’t annoying at all…..

One-year-olds are just developing the fine motor skills necessary to scribble with a pen or marker. The problem is that they lack judgment or precision and can make a proper mess anytime they are trusted with a writing utensil. 
 This tablet is great because it only writes with water, letting them experiment with drawing without ruining anything. Forest still loves this toy and is getting better and better with his hand control. 

4)Quercetti Geokid Maxi Daisy ($25). 
Shortly after his first birthday, Forest really started showing an interest in building and stacking. I wanted to get him a starter set of Mega-Blox but felt like they were a bit advanced for a 12 month old. A friend had these stacking pegs for her daughter and Forest really took to them at a play date. 

They slide into each other very easily which makes it super easy for a baby to build with them. Once he reached about 17 months, he was much more ready for Mega blox, so I think those would be a great gift as well (or instead)! 
Mega Bloks First Builders Big Building Bag, 80-Piece (Classic)
Duplo is the starter brand for Legos which is another good idea. Anything with stacking or building is really great at this age! I get excited just thinking about it!

5) Wooden Story Large Wooden Blocks ($40)
Wooden Story makes beautiful classic wooden toys. I’ve gifted a few of their shape sorters and stacking rings for babies in our play group. A few months ago I spotted a set of their building blocks at Homegoods and had to have them for Forest. 
It has been such a hit and this is usually an activity he can do for 30 minutes or so while I cook dinner. Plus they are absolutely gorgeous and heirloom quality. 

6) A subscription to Hello Highlights Magazine ($40 for 12 issues). 

My Aunt and Uncle gifted this subscription to Forest and we are so thankful. He just loves getting his new magazine in the mail and they are super sturdy and easy to bring along on strolls, dr. visits, car rides, plane trips, etc. I really feel like this is one of the best gifts he’s ever gotten and what a great idea! 

7) Books! ($5-15)
Of course books are always a fantastic gift, especially at this age. Babies are just soaking in vocabulary and language and absorb so much from books. Board Books are still the way to go for 1 year olds but some of Forest favorite titles over the past year have been: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, Little Blue Truck, Where is Baby’s Belly Button, Rumble in The Jungle, I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More and anything to do with Thomas the Tank Engine! 

Another good idea at this age are the books with buttons to match the pictures that babes can press to reveal the word. Forest has the Priddy Let’s Talk First Words one and Eric Carle’s Animal Babies. Both were big hits and I feel like they did a great job of aiding his vocabulary acquisition. 

8) Melissa and Doug Chunky or Peg Puzzles ($10). 
 Melissa & Doug Shapes - Chunky Puzzle
Forest loves a good puzzle and these are always good quality. 

9) Melissa and Doug Geometric Stacker ($15).  

Stacking is a big skill for this age group so anything that allows them to practice that is generally a good toy. I love this one specifically because it features 3 different shapes and all different colors. 
 Melissa & Doug Geometric Stacker
The poles are the same width so they don’t necessarily have to stack them according to size or shape when they are just learning, but it grows with them once they start sorting by groups. 

10) Play Kitchen ($130).  
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These can be a bit pricey and you surely want to ok it with the baby's parents before purchasing something so bulky, but this is really a great toy for this age group and beyond. Forest and his buddies love to put things into the cabinets, pretend to use the microwave or wash their hands in the sink. 
I love the imagination aspect of this item plus the vocabulary it introduces is abundant. I have a feeling Forest’s KidKraft Kitchen will continue to get love for at least another year or two. 
How he knew immediately how to use a real phone, I have no idea. He picked it up and said 'Hello. Nana.'

Also good climbing practice.

11) Little People AnimalFriends Farm ($35). 

This is less bulky and expensive than a play kitchen but fits the same niche in my opinion. It captures their imagination and helps to build their budding vocabulary. Forest doesn't actually own this but it's at the top of his 2nd birthday wish list!

12) Fisher Price Bubble Lawn Mower ($20). 

It’s the simple things that keep kids entertained sometimes. This was such an instant hit with Forest and continues to delight him every single day. 
13) Hape Pound and Tap Bench with Slide out Xylophone ($25).
 Hape - Pound & Tap Bench with Slide out Xylophone
This toy packs a big punch. It helps with color recognition/matching, fine and gross motor skills and has a musical component as well. It’s just one of those classic type of toys whose appeal will last through the ages. 

14) Little Tikes sports equipment ($15-30) . 

Pick your posion. Baseball? Basketball? Golf? Bowling? There’s an adorable toddler representation of most sports you can think of. The classic Little Tikes Basketball goal has been the favorite of Forest’s but his best buddy is a baseball prodigy and has been hitting the ball of the tee like a pro since he was about 15 months old. 
Some kids are athletically inclined and 12-24months is certainly not too early to introduce them to some sports equipment. Sadly, Forest shows little interest in the soccer goal my parents bought him, but I myself couldn’t be bothered til I was at least 5 years old so there is still hope! 

15) Gift cards to local attractions (price varies). I love the idea of gifting experiences vs toys. If you know that parents frequent a certain indoor playground or music class, etc, you can always get them a gift card towards these activities. Same thing with giving them tickets to a local zoo, aquarium, or children’s museum. 

I could seriously go on and on and on, but I hope this list gave you a few ideas for good gifts for the babies in your life. In general, anything that can be pushed/pulled/rolled/stacked/read is a huge hit with this demographic.I'm working on a post for what to get a 2 year old, as we're just polishing up Forest's 'wishlist' for interested parties;)