Puzzles For Growing Hands

October 30, 2006

As I type these words, my husband and our three and a half year old daughter Maya are sitting on the living room floor working on a skeleton puzzle. Tomorrow is Halloween after all!

Since she was a baby, Maya has been fascinated with puzzles; starting with the fuzzy farm animal pieces that endured daily teethings! It is one of our favorite activities to do with her and I can definitely see us working our way all the way up to the 1,000-piece nightmares eventually.

For now, we’ll stick with the child-friendly puzzles from Galison/Mudpuppy. The company was originally launched to bring museum collections to the public in high quality paper products. With Mudpuppy, they not only offer educational toys and puzzles (the Map of the U.S.A is one of our favorites!) but also bring popular children’s books’ characters to life. The quality is exceptional and the easy-to-carry cases guarantee years of torture from our kids’ sticky hands.

Check out Eloise, Curious George, Olivia and more at Galison’s own web site, starting at $9.00. Although most of their products are marked for kids 3+, even a two year old can handle their mini cube puzzles.

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A Sensible Diaper Bag

October 25, 2006

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The truth is, you really don’t need a diaper bag. Throw a few diapers and a wipes case into a large Ziploc bag and you’re all set. Any bag will do, even the latest “it” bag.

However, your stroller really needs one!

In reality, an official diaper bag is roomier, spill-resistant and offers more pockets than you know what to do with. A must-have for any new mother. Although I didn’t get a chance to benefit from the variety of diaper bags available to new moms today, I have been giving Skip*Hop bags as gifts for the past two years. The canvas is extremely sturdy and the color options available will coordinate with any shower theme known to mankind. This one will last through many washings and children. My favorite is the Chocolate Dash, starting at $68.00 at http://www.skiphop.com .

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“Mommy, can you read a book from your mind?” begs Maya after we turn off the light during bedtime. This is her way of squeezing just one more book out of me as I battle with the guilt of leaving her with a babysitter all day. “Silly Sally went to town, walking backwards, upside down…” I give in and start reciting in the dark. Having memorized this short little tale in its entirety and delivered it in the dark many times before, I take the time to enjoy the satisfied grin on my daughter’s face as her eyes close.

Famed children’s author Audrey Wood’s Silly Sally now comes in a board book format, sturdy enough for the littlest hands. You won’t mind reading this fun story over and over again where Sally meets a pig, a dog, a loon and a sheep on her way to town. Only Neddy Buttercup has the cure for the silliness enjoyed by all. From $6.95 on Amazon . A must have in your toddler’s library!

Storefront Bingo

October 23, 2006

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I have not found any other game that holds five three-year-olds’ attention as long as this one. Storefront Bingo is easy to follow along even for a two year old. Each child picks one or two stores to mind. The first one to find all the items in her store wins the game. In fact, we keep playing until everyone fills up their store and finish it off with a winners’ dance. The game pieces help develop vocabulary while the kinds of stores featured help celebrate variety. In fact, trying to explain to Maya why I was the baker in our very first game and decided to sell hats in our second was a lesson in and of itsellf. She thought I should always be the baker!

As with all toys from eeBoo, Storefront Bingo is of excellent quality and a great value at $13.95. Makes a great gift for boy or girl and parents appreciate it too. My advice: buy several and keep in the linen closet. Comes in handy as a last-minute birthday party gift. Buy it now at Oliebollen.com.

With Maya’s birth three and a half years ago, I officially became a mom. Unofficially, I had felt like a mom for years by then, cooing at every baby, flipping through name books, shopping for miniature dresses even before she was even an egg in my ovary. By the time I got pregnant, and with my very own uber-trendy mother’s help, I had amassed all sorts of gadgets and gizmos for the new arrival. The shopping spree only continued after she was born. From clothes and shoes to books and toys, we weren’t satisfied unless Maya had enough to satisfy ten children if not a whole continent. I realized only too late that I had unleashed the beast in me only to help adjust to actually becoming a mother.

It also took me the very same three years to realize that while I showered Maya with gifts, I had neglected myself. Whether time or money, I had stopped spending any currencies on me and it showed. Not only that, but I finally felt the weight.

Needless to say I recovered. So will all first time mothers. At one point or another, we all come to believe in “happy mothers raise happy babies” and in an effort to raise healthy children, we start paying attention to ourselves. With this self analysis also comes a need to be more discerning in everything we do, from what we spend our time on to where we spend our money.

Discerning moms stay tuned. You won’t be disappointed with the kinds of products, toys, books and other gadgets I plan to feature in this blog. The goal is to help weed out the unnecessary, the useless. I will only bring you the best of the best, whether for you or your children. This is all money well spent!