Friday, October 30, 2015

Happy 2nd Birthday, Forest!!!!

Forest is 2 years old today. 2 YEARS OLD!!! Can you tell he is over these photo ops? Last one buddy, I promise! Well at least until your 2.5 birthday...

I have so much to post on this gigantic milestone but October has been one crazy whirlwind of traveling and visitors and I just haven’t had as much time as I would like to ruminate over the fact that my baby is officially not a baby anymore. Waaaaaah!!!! For now, here is just a quick snapshot of Forest on his second birthday:  
Height: 36.75 inches (97+%) 
Weight: 29.5 lbs (80%) 
Shoe size: 8.5 
Speech: Vocabulary in the ballpark of 800 words. Stringing 5-6 words together at one time, but mostly speaking in 1-3 word phrases. Still speaks in conversational gibberish quite often. 
Favorite phrases: ‘I hold it!’, ‘Watch Einstein?’,  ‘I broke my knee!' (meaning 'bonked').
Cutest words: Hippopotamus, Flamingo, fridgerator.  
Favorite Book: If you Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff 
Favorite TV shows: Baby Einstein and Curious George  
Favorite Foods: Smoothies, Pancakes, Cheese, Black Beans, Spaghetti and Carrots. 

Favorite Toys: Trains, Cars, Stuffed animals, Blocks, Sticker Books and Markers. 
He can: Climb ladders, do a forward roll, go up and down stairs with no hands, sing his ABCs, count to 12, draw a few letters and shapes, jump, kick, throw, and occasionally catch a ball. 
Activities: Play group, swim lessons, and Kids Together at church. 
Qualities: Energetic, Fun-loving, Curious, Independent, Fearless, Chatty, Creative, Funny, Handsome, and Confident. 
Sleeps: 12 hours at night, 1 nap per day between 1-2 hours. 
Sleeps with: 2 lambies, 1 puppy snuggy, 1 rabbit stuffie, 1 pillow, 1 blanket, 1 lullabye seahorse and a handful of pacifiers.  
Favorite animal: Cow. 
Loves: Animals (real and stuffed), being outside, art, anything with wheels, running, books, music, swimming, and play dates with friends. 
Teeth: 18- waiting on those 2 year molars! 
Favorite Song: Wheels on the Bus. 
Nicknames: Master Forest, Forester, Forest Fire, Bubsy, Fearless Forest and Forest The Destroyer (said in our best wrestling announcer voices).   

Coming up next week I will have Forest’s final monthly guest post plus more on his birthday celebrations and my sentimental thoughts on the matter. Here is a little movie we made to mark this momentous birthday. 

Happy birthday, Forest. We love you oh so much.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Earthquake City

For those of you not in California, you may not know that recently San Ramon has been dubbed Earthquake City. Did you know there is such thing as an earthquake ‘swarm’ or ‘storm’? I sure didn’t. Over the past 2 weeks we have had over 400 earthquakes. 
The majority of them are small but even when a small one happens directly beneath you it can be disconcerting. The first few days it was happening, I didn’t feel a thing. I guess I didn’t know what to look for. But then one day Jonathan pointed it out to me as it was happening and since then I have recognized several more. You almost hear it before you feel it, and out windows will rattle before the house shakes. I haven't felt any below 2.0 magnitude.

It’s crazy because it hasn’t been a big deal, but it’s just scary because you don’t know when it’s going to happen or how long it will last or how strong it will be. You never know when or if it’ll be ‘a big one’. Several have happened over night and woken me up. I worry that if a big one happens at night I won’t be able to react fast enough to get to Forest. But locals familiar with EQ protocol have assured me that his crib is a fairly safe place to be and we’ve made sure there is nothing hanging on the walls that could potentially fall on him in the case of a substantial quake. 

Still , I’m used to hurricanes or even tornadoes which have at least some advanced warning. Sure, those natural disasters are nearly always more destructive but at least you can feel prepared. I’d still prefer a 3.6 earthquake to an F1 tornado or Category 1 Hurricane though. I’m just really praying that we don’t have any stronger than that coming our way!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Visiting the Pumpkin/Wagon Patch

Last year when we took Forest to the pumpkin patch he was barely walking. 

Flash forward exactly 12 months and he was a wagon-pulling machine. 
Something about this experience really put into perspective how much he was grown and changed in a year's time. Of course I’m sure I’ll always get sentimental when his birthday approaches and it feels like we are just scratching months off of the calendar in the blink of an eye.   

Anyhoos, he loved the pumpkin patch this year. Basically I wasted $10 on tokens for the rides because all he wanted to do was load and unload pumpkins into his wagon which was absolutely free entertainment. I did convince him to leave his wagon post for a quick pony ride. He was so big that he didn’t even need me to walk with him and went right with the worker to ride ‘Candy’. He was so sweet and gentle with her.

(For comparison):
He really enjoyed riding the pony and waved to his daddy and I everytime he made a round. Then it was back to work with the wagon! We enticed him to go into the mini-hay maze since it began with a tunnel (and the boy LOVES tunnels) but once he made it through the entrance he freaked out that piles of hay were separating him from his beloved wagon so I had to go rescue him. 
I tried fruitlessly to get him to wait in line for the Cow Train but he was not having it. He threw a full on ‘terrible-2’ tantrum trying to claw his way over the partition ropes back to his pumpkin wagon. So for the rest of our time there we ditched the rides and activities and just let him contentedly lug his pumpkins around and he was as happy as a clam. 

Unfortunately it was nearly impossible to get a posed shot of this kid. He deliberately turns his back anytime he sees the camera and he absolutely never stops moving, so attempting to get  that perfect fall photo op was an act in futility. This is the best I could get. 

Happy Fall Y’all!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Great gifts for 2 year olds! (This is not a hint, I promise.)

Since I just published a post on gift ideas for a 1 year old, I figured I’d go ahead and post a similar list for 2 year olds since this has been on my mind a lot with Forest’s upcoming birthday. DISCLAIMER: This is in no way a hint that you should get my kid a birthday gift (he has plenty of toys!). But if you have a 2 year old you are shopping for, hopefully this list will give you a few ideas. 

It’s mainly for myself actually, so that in a year from now, when I’ve completely forgotten what 24 month olds are like but need to buy one a birthday present, I will have this as a reference. It is really astounding how quickly I forget the little nuances of certain stages as soon as Forest grows out of them. If it weren’t for this blog I would have little accurate memory of his babyhood. 

I will say that by 2 years old, there are some developing differences between boys and girls and the toys they gravitate too, but I think for the most part, most of the toys on this list could go for either gender.  Developmentally, 24 month olds are exploding their language skills, starting to get a grasp of ABCs and 123s and other pre-reading/math skills, learning to play pretend in more complex ways and love to imitate the adults and children around them. I think the following list is an example of gifts which provide an entertainment factor as well as tick some of the developmental boxes you’ll be looking for. 

There are several starter train sets, but my sister and her family gifted Forest with a classic figure 8 Brio set which is a perfect starting point. 

If the tot you’re buying for already has a basic train set, you could always buy additional trains or accessories to add on to it. Supposedly Thomas & Friends (Fisher Price), Melissa & Doug, Brio and other major manufacturers are compatible so any items from those brands should be able to add on to a basic starter set. Things like bridges and extra trains are excellent additions!
Brio Lifting Bridge
Fisher-Price Thomas the Train Wooden Railway Henry The Green Engine
Henry the Green Engine- $15

2) Art Supplies. Most of the 2 year old’s I know are budding artists and love to create. Our gift to Forest this birthday will be this Melissa and Doug Easel. 
Melissa & Doug Deluxe Standing Easel

They have a table top one which is a more portable/storage-able item that makes a great gift. 
Melissa & Doug Wooden Tabletop Easel
Another idea is anything from Crayola’s Color Wonder series ($5-25). 

These are markers/paints/stamps etc that will only work on coordinating paper so that there is no worry about a mess. Forest loves these and we do too! 

But really, any non-toxic/washable art supplies or drawing pads would be a simple present and surefire hit with this age group. We also love the Melissa and Doug Water Wow series ($5-15) and the ABC flashcards would make an especially good gift for a 2 year old. 

 LeapFrog Fridge Phonics Magnetic Letter Set
This is a cool tactile alphabet toy that reviews the names of letters, the sounds they make, and words they spell. It also sings the ABCs and The Wheels on the Bus which is favorite feature in our household. For those without a magnetic fridge, LeapFrog Letter Factory also has a bucket version of the same toy. 

While I’m not always an advocate of electronic toys, I have to say that LeapFrog toys are the best for holding Forest’s attention. They also have a LetterFactory DVD which I’ve heard wonderful things about regarding teaching littles their letters/phonics. 
LeapFrog: Letter Factory
It’s on Forest’s personal wishlist for sure!  If you're not into battery-operated or technology related toys, then a good classic Wooden ABC or 123 puzzle would also make a great gift for this age.  
Melissa and Doug Colors, Numbers, Alphabet Puzzle Bundle- $20

4) Lego Duplo Building Set ($15-60). 
LEGO DUPLO My First Deluxe Box of Fun 10580 Building Toy
First Deluxe Building Set- $45

They have starter sets as well as sets in several different themes (Car, trains, school, princesses, farms, zoo,  ice cream, etc). 
Big Farm Set- $48
LEGO DUPLO My First Number Train Building Set 10558
Number Train- $20
Let the Lego obsession begin! 

5) Play-doh sets ($7-$20). 
Play-Doh Fun Factory Deluxe Set
Play-doh fun factory- $18
Sensory play is still huge for this age group and manipulating clay or play-doh is a great way to experiment.   

7) Tool set ($20-40). 
Green Toys Tool Set, Pink
Green Toys Pink Set- $25
This would make a great gift for a little boy or girl. Playing pretend and imitating what they see grown ups doing is huge with this age group. Forest loves watching his dad fix things around the house and I know he’d really enjoy having his own play tool set to piddle around with. 

In the same vein, things like doctor sets, cleaning sets, tea sets, etc act in the same capacity. Toddlers love pretend play and these sots of sets are an excellent way to foster their imaginations. 
B. Dr. Doctor Set- $23

Melissa & Doug Let's Play House! Cleaning Play Set
M&D Let's Play House Cleaning Set- $18

 Little Tikes Count 'n Play Cash Register
In a similar way, this cash register allows little ones to experiment with a transaction they see all the time while also reinforcing concepts of colors, counting, and shapes. 

Forest received a Highlights Hello (0-2) subscription for his birthday last year. He still loves these magazines to no end, but Highlights also offers a subscription geared to 2-6 year olds which would be a great gift option as well now that their attention spans are getting longer. 

10) Books ($4-15). Y’all know I’m always a proponent of giving books as gifts. I’ve got a book lover on my hands which delights me to no end. We’ve had to invest in some new books recently because he’s losing interest in simple board books and instead is wanting books with a bit of plot. His favorite titles are ‘If you Give a Mouse a Cookie’ by Laura Numeroff and ‘Go Dog Go’ by P.D. Eastman. 
Product Details

Really, Forest loves any of the classic ‘Little Golden Book’ variety.   
Product Details
Classic Characters Set $14

I’ll also add that if you’re buying a book for a boy, anything Thomas & Friends related is probably going to be a hit. 
Also, I highly recommend Alphablock and Countablock by Christopher Franceschelli . 
 Product DetailsProduct Details
These are simpler in nature but beautiful, high quality books that grab toddlers' attention and provide them with tactile ABCs and 123s.  

Ok, so these aren't really educational, but they are so stinkin cute! These are just really a must-have toddler item and you can’t ever have enough cups. They come in so many cute designs too. We take Forest’s "fox cup" everywhere we go and it’s great for traveling.
 Melissa & Doug Habitats Reusable Sticker Pad 
These are a great inexpensive gift for a toddler. There are several different motifs that boys and girls alike would love. They don’t take up a lot of room, the stickers will only stick to the pages of the books and they keep my little one busy and occupied for huge chunks of time.  

Ok guys, I could literally go on and on about all the great gift options for this age group, but I think this is enough for now! I hope this gave you some good ideas!