10 Books for the Animal Loving Toddler

Reading (or at least the telling of stories and looking at pictures in a book) takes up a big portion of our day here in the Grizzly Bear household. I’m not surprised to walk into the children’s room first thing in the morning to be met by Patrick holding out a book out to me. It doesn’t always mean ‘read this right now’ since both my cubs usually have ferocious appetites in the morning that need to be fed right. this. instant. But I love that it shows his interest to learn. Olivia has even gotten in on the ‘bring-mom-a-book-and-plop-down-in-her-lap’ action. She may not sit still long enough to actually read the book, but she does enjoy flipping the pages and pointing arbitrarily at things.

Both cubs seem to share a very big love for books involving animals or with animals as the main character. I would say that eight times out of ten I’m handed a book full of animals, and not just one animal but several different kinds of animals! So I thought I might compile a list of our favorite animal books for younger and older toddlers:

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Banana Coffee Cake with Chia, Hemp and Flax

Why is coffee cake so delicious?

Is it because it comes alongside a mug of coffee or cup of tea? Is it the light, fluffy cake, or the crunchy sugary topping? Is it subtle spice, or sticky glaze?

Yes. Yes to all of those. Coffee cake is one of those treats that is always good, always appreciated, and always devoured. And because it tastes so good, you can sneak a bunch of healthy ingredients in there, too! You know… if you felt so inclined.

My naturopath encouraged me to use chia, flax and hemp seeds (PowerSeeds) in baking, salads, smoothies and oatmeal, and since they lend a nutty flavour, I thought they would be pretty tasty in this coffee cake. If you don’t have/want to use the seeds, that’s fine – just add an additional 1/4 cup of flour to the recipe.

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Adventures in Potty-Training: Part One

For at least a year I have been dreading the “big transitions” that come at 2 years old. I know every child hits these milestones at different points, but I figured we’d start to tackle them after Little Piñata turned two. Just two days after his birthday party we started weaning from the pacifier and it went really well! My plan was to wait until August to start potty-training because we were traveling some in July and didn’t want to take long road trips with a potty-training toddler.

But, a few weeks ago, Little P started unexpectedly showing some signs of readiness. When he was about 18 months old we would put him on the potty before bathtime (we have a soft seat that goes on a regular toilet seat that we got as a hand-me-down that is similar to this one), but he only went a couple of times and they were definitely both accidents since he seemed very confused as to why we were cheering for him and giving him a special cracker. But, after he turned two, we started just putting him on the toilet every night before bed in preparation of what I thought would be the “disaster” of potty-training in the weeks to come. And he actually started peeing every night, which we took as a great sign!

Then, one day when we came in from playing in the baby pool I put him on the potty thinking maybe he held his pee the whole time in the pool, and he went on the potty again! I did the same every time I brought him in from playing in the pool in the following week and each time he would go! Of course, each time he went we made a HUGE deal, called all of our extended family members and gave him a Bunny Cracker (which is a very special treat in our house). We also took this as a sign that he was more ready that we thought he was.

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The first year with two kids

I can relate to Mrs. Yoyo’s recent post on having two young children and still being in the weeds. A friend of mine said “being a mom of two kids is no joke” and that really hit me; it’s so true. Things are wonderful, but the first year of Summer’s life absolutely flew by faster than I thought it would. I’ve been so busy while time has been passing, and I feel like I haven’t had much time to reflect. These days my mantra is pretty much keep moving. I’ve sort of realized that when I get behind on chores, meal planning, errands etc., it amplifies and creates stress for all of us. As a mom of two, the biggest thing I’ve learned this year is prep work is key to keep on top of everything and avoid unnecessary stress for me, the kids and my husband. Here are a couple of other things that I’ve really learned to manage better this year.

Staggering naps. Alright, admit it — we all look forward to one of the most glorious times of day — nap time! I am aware of the brutal fact that some babies follow their own agenda and absolutely laugh at your “schedule,” and every baby probably has times of nap protest due to teething/overtiredness/other random problem, so this absolutely will not work sometimes. However, the best thing I figured out this year was to stagger naps so that they overlap. In the beginning, when Summer was really little she needed two naps so it was pretty easy to get both kids down around the same time in the afternoon. Ahh, some much needed downtime for me… until she dropped to one nap at 10 months. So after a bit of trial and error, I realized the best time to put her down was around 11:30am. Gemma could be persuaded to nap for a shorter amount of time if I put her down earlier than usual- around 12:30pm. This has been giving me 45min-an hour to eat lunch and rest, and has even moved bedtime up for both girls.

Combining errands. When you go from one kid to two, taking two kids in and out of car seats/shopping carts/carriers is pretty physically draining. I order a lot more online, do bigger grocery runs, and try to combine a few errands into one trip so that I don’t have to run out every day.

Prepping meals while feeding. My ideal is to have meals where I sit down, but right now that’s just not always the case. In general I get to have dinner as a sit down meal with the family which is really nice–when it works out. :) I use most of the time that the girls are eating during the day to cook. I make them meals and then when I get them seated, I turn on some music and they eat and laugh and I start cooking. At breakfast time I pack lunches while feeding the girls, and at afternoon snack time I prep dinner and they have snacks. Then Gemma starts helping me cook while Summer practices feeding herself. These are actually some of my best moments of the day; we all have a lot of fun and the kids enjoy trying new food and playing games in the kitchen.

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Early Intervention Evaluation 12 Month Review

In September Juliet will have been enrolled in early intervention for 6 months (so fast!).  She has been progressing nicely in the program so far seeing both a developmental therapist once a week and a physical therapist once a month. In September her review will be up to see if she can remain in the program or what services need to be added or dropped depending on her progress. Both her therapists recently did an evaluation to submit paperwork ahead of the evaluation. Currently Juliet is still delayed in every area practically (in varying degrees), and most likely will be staying in the program, though we don’t know if any services will be added or taken until September.

The therapists evaluated Juliet on 6 different categories. Juliet will be 15 months of age in September, but for the paperwork she was assessed for her abilities at a 12/13 month range as that is how old she is currently.

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…And It All Comes Flooding Back

Back when we were in the thick of our infertility and even after we started our adoption process, the question I dreaded most was, “When are you having kids?” It was like a stab in the heart. Every. Time. I know the question is well-meaning and innocent on the part of the asker, but when what you’d want more than anything else in the world is to be able to have a child, that innocent question becomes a painful reminder that you can’t. At least not yet.

We have been in the process for our second adoption for over two years now. Yes, we know who our sweet daughter is now, but we will still need to wait up to another year until she is able to come home. So, while we might technically have a daughter, it’s hard to explain our situation to others who don’t really know us or how the process works.

And now, with Lil’ CB at 4, almost 5, and heading into Kindergarten, the questions that are currently driving me crazy are, “So, is he your only one?” followed by “When are you going to give him a sibling?” or “Aren’t you going to have more?” or some variation of the like. The worst is when they ask Lil’ CB, “Don’t you want a little brother or sister? Ask your mom and dad for one!” That one makes me want to punch that person in the face. (I swear, I’m normally a very non-violent person!)

Sure, I could say that we are in process with our second adoption and that our little girl is waiting in Korea, but most of the time, these questions are from strangers and almost all of the time, I don’t want to launch into our family history or worse, my reproductive status, with a complete stranger.

Don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely proud and grateful that our family was formed through adoption and am happy to talk about it with anyone who is genuinely interested, but again, with a stranger, I just don’t want to (or need to) go there. Plus, as Lil’ CB gets older, I want him to know that his story is his story as his sister’s is hers. And I want to help be protective of those stories until my children are old enough to share on their own with others the parts they are comfortable sharing.

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Gearing Up for Baby No. 2

After reading Mrs. Jump Rope’s post on gear items for Baby 2, it made me think and question if I have everything we need for our little guy! I am pretty close to the finish line and expect to deliver in the next couple of weeks!

Fortunately, before we had Toddler Checkers, I made sure to buy a lot of our bigger gear items as gender neutral so that we could reuse them for the next baby.  Truth be told, I was a little sad to pack/give away a lot of her girl items (since I am mostly sure this baby may be our last), knowing we might never use them again!

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