Weekend links and our spring time carrots

Weekend links and harvested carrots
If that carrot doesn’t look mighty huge and impressive… it’s because it’s not. The carrots measured a mere four or five inches before the roots eventually tailed off, probably looking for more ground that my itty bitty pot couldn’t offer.

I’m still not deterred from gardening! In fact, we already pulled a few from the soil and cooked a shrimp stir-fry as well as baked a dozen carrot cupcakes—my first time baking with LO, believe it or not. More importantly, LO was able to witness carrots being pulled from the ground, so hopefully he understands the process of seed-to-vegetable and that food doesn’t just appear magically at the table.

In fact, I’m so undeterred, I’m on to my next experiment: zucchini. Ambitious? Yes. But according to the lady at the garden center (who I hope wasn’t just trying to sell me a packet of seeds), zucchini should be able to grow in my pot.

This time I’ll make sure to add a ton of soil. Hopefully the zucchini will have better luck than the carrots. And hey, I can always hide my mistakes in zucchini bread.

In the meantime, check out some links I’ve found throughout the web:

  • Ted Talks features Jeffrey Kluger who discusses The sibling bond. According to the site, Kluger “…explores the profound life-long bond between brothers and sisters, and the influence of birth order, favoritism and sibling rivalry.”
  • Finally, The New York Times describes a scene with A child, a gadget, a guest and a question of etiquette. The author asks what you would do if a child’s friend was absorbed with a gadget—an iPad, for instance—the entire time the families were together. Are they interacting with one another? How do you encourage turn-taking? [Edit: I just fixed the link to this article.]

Any tips you can share with yours truly for growing zucchini? What’s growing in your garden right now?

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Weekend links and actually doing something I pinned on Pinterest

Weekend links and actually doing something I pinned on Pinterest
One of the boards on the Sleeping Should Be Easy Pinterest account is a “crafts with kids” section, where I pin awesome activities I swear I’ll do with my toddler. Of course I always find some excuse: “But I don’t have tongue depressors handy… I lost the white crayon so now I can’t make the magic letters… He’s too young for that activity…” And so on. But I couldn’t find an excuse for this activity, from the blog No One Has More Fun than the Adams’: fun with pipe cleaners and a colander. After all, I actually had pipe cleaners (who knew they’d come in handy after all?) as well as a colander in the kitchen. So off we go, for our first ever Pinterest activity.

Weekend links and actually doing something I pinned on Pinterest
And what do you know, the little guy loved it. I figured he would, considering he likes figuring out how things work and was just bowled over at the shapes the pipe cleaners were making. I had to help him make poke the first end of the pipe cleaner, but he determined where he wanted to stick the other end to. He kept asking, “What’s this?” with the pipe cleaners, although he must have selective memory because I swear I showed it to him several months ago but was met with a “I’m not interested” shrug.

I liked this activity, however short it was, because we already had these two items and he was able to flex his fine motor skills with all that poking and aiming at the holes. I’m pretty sure he would have kept going if I had given him more pipe cleaners (and another colander).

Perhaps I can go find more orange pipe cleaners while you read a few links below:

  • The The LA Times cites that the U.S. ranks 25th of best places for mothers. The U.S.’s relatively low ranking compared to other developed countries is due to issues like risks in pregnancy-related deaths, child mortality, low political status for women, preschool enrollment and guaranteed paid maternity leave.
  • If that isn’t enough to get you excited about books, SSBE reader Ana from Mommyhood: From the Heart featured a link to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. If your child is between the ages of 0 to 5, he or she can receive one free book a month until they turn five years old. I haven’t signed up for this but Ana has been receiving her free books from this literacy program.

What Pinterest activities have you done recently?

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Weekend links and Festival of Books

Weekend links and Festival of Books
Imagine joining thousands of other book-lovers convening at a local university, all lining up to meet their favorite authors, listening to readings or purchasing books from small and large sellers alike. That’s what one morning looked like a few weeks ago as we attended The LA Times Festival of Books at USC. We watched a band playing children’s songs (I can’t get away from them!) and also bought a new book called Blue Goose. And while my toddler preferred to play lets-find-every-fountain-there-is-on-this-campus, this sort of event suits him quite well considering that he is one voracious reader.

This is one hobby that I hope my toddler will continue throughout his life, considering all the benefits I’ve already seen that reading has had on him:

  • He learns about things he otherwise hasn’t seen in person yet, whether it’s the seasons of the year (we don’t exactly have a “winter” here in Southern California) or the transformation of a caterpillar to a butterfly.
  • Books provide entertainment. He can easily sit by the bookcase for over an hour flipping through books.
  • Books expose him to new words. How often have you told someone, “And then I exclaimed…“? We don’t exactly go around saying words like “exclaimed” or “shuddered,” but because we read them in books, he has a storage of words that he probably wouldn’t learn just by listening to conversations.
  • He is starting to learn how to read. This may be a bit premature to say, but I think my toddler is starting to get the idea of reading. He knows that “N-O” spells “no,” so imagine my surprise when he saw the letters “T-O” and he said, “That spells ‘toe’!” Okay, so it’s not exactly “toe,” it’s really “to,” but I like that he put two-and-two together and ventured that “to” sounds like “no,” just with a T. And out of the blue, he said “‘Teeth’ and ‘tail’ start with ‘T’.” So cool!

In the past, I had tossed a few books because they were ratty, torn, and so out of shape. Now I mend them instead because I realize that they’re simply often-used, well-loved books by a little guy who can’t get enough of them.

For more information on how to encourage reading in kids, below are a few links and resources:

What benefits of reading have you seen in your kids? How do you encourage your kids to read?

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Weekend links and dancing to James Brown

Weekend links and dancing to James Brown
My toddler isn’t really one to dance. He has friends who, just by hearing some music, will move their hips and shoulders while clapping their hands. My toddler—not so much. He’ll sometimes do his Flashdance “What a Feeling” foot shuffle and wave his arms when he sees people dancing to the Wii, but in general, he doesn’t really move to the beat.

All that changed a few weekends ago when my husband, toddler and I attended an art show… with a DJ. We were sitting on one of the couches when the DJ played a James Brown song. Well, apparently my toddler digs himself some funk because he sprung from that couch and started grooving on the floor, completely on his own. And it wasn’t just his Flashdance foot shuffle; he was moving arms, legs and hips!

A few days later, we were at home when I turned on some of his children’s songs and tried to initiate some dancing. And while he loves singing to them, he wasn’t in the least bit interested in dancing to Hokey Pokey. So I said, “Do you want me to play some James Brown?” And he replied, “James Brown!” And sure enough, once the music got down and funky, my toddler joined me on our dance floor. Suffice it to say I had James Brown on loop the rest of the day.

And while my toddler and I dance to some James Brown, below are a few reads I found this week:

  • First, The Wall Street Journal features a blog post discussing Women’s Success: At Work And At Home. The author takes a look at working women who choose to work and notice that most of them shoot for the top. Apparently they feel that if they don’t advance in their careers and that there’s no payoff to the hours they put in, that  they don’t see a point and will choose to be a stay-at-home mom instead.
  • Next up is a TED Talk video with babble.com publishers called Let’s talk parenting taboos which deliberates “…4 facts that parents never, ever admit — and why they should. Funny and honest, for parents and nonparents alike.” The highlight four taboos—not falling in love with your newborn at birth, feeling lonely after having a baby, talking about your miscarriage, and that your average happiness has declined since having a child. I actually have read somewhere that child-less couples tend to be happier than those with kids, but that the happiness of parents skyrockets as the children get older, particularly once they leave the house. Of course now I can’t remember where I heard that. Has anyone else heard of this?
  • And finally, The New York Times reveals A surprising risk for toddlers on playground slides. Apparently, kids sliding down sitting on a parent’s lap (instead of alone) increase their chances of injuring their legs. My kid doesn’t even like slides but I do remember taking him down on my lap once in a while. Who knew?

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Weekend links and celebrating Earth Day

Weekend links and celebrating earth day-carrot seedlings
For someone who lives in a city (in an apartment, at that) and who has yet to go camping for fear of the bathroom “amenities,” I still consider myself a nature enthusiast. I love being outdoors, whether to go on a beautiful hike, lie on the beach or even visit our local park.

So it’s only fitting that I want my toddler to hold the same fondness for nature. The heart of everything environmental lies in the appreciation for our natural surroundings. Being outdoors and immersed in nature has been on our agenda since our little guy was born. But since we don’t live on acres of outdoors, we find other ways to introduce nature to our toddler. For instance:

  • We make sure he spends time outdoors, preferably at least an hour a day. Living in Southern California gives us plenty of reasons to be outdoors. And by outdoors, I’m talking simple things like walking around the block or hanging out on our patio.
  • We frequent our local park. I’m secretly glad that our park doesn’t have the fanciest playground, and instead has a wide expanse of greenery and even a little trail. We end up spending a ton of time picking flowers, finding acorns and pine cones and running on the grass.
  • We go hiking or to the beach. We recently discovered some hills nearby that lets us walk and hike outdoors. And we’re lucky enough to live ten minutes away from the beach; can’t hate that!
  • We planted carrots. And yes, they’re actually growing; I’m so excited! I can’t wait until we get to pull them out of the ground so our toddler can see where carrots come from, as well as witness how the tiny little seedlings grow into actual vegetables.
  • We let him get up close and personal with bugs. Well, my husband does. Somewhere between eight years old and thirty-something, I lost my ability to touch bugs. As a kid, I used to collect ants, handle snails and pick up ladybugs and spiders like it was nothing. Now, I either look away when my toddler picks up a bug (all the while hoping he doesn’t squish them, because gross—I really don’t want to clean up bug guts) or hand bug duty over to my husband.

I hope my toddler will grow up to be a steward of his natural environment and enjoy the outdoors as much as we do. Instilling an appreciation for nature will be foremost in ensuring that he takes care of this place. And who knows, maybe he’ll convince me to camping, bathroom amenities or not.

In the meantime, below are a few links to read:

  • First, The Minimalist Mom asks Are you raising your kids to be hoarders? Our home is pretty clutter-free, including children’s toys and books. Then again, he’s only two so who knows how much stockpile he’ll end up with in a few years.
  • Over at The New York Times, Jenny Anderson writes about Making education brain science. The author highlights a certain school where the kindergarten curriculum includes neurology and where academic and emotional education are integrated.
  • And finally, The Wall Street Journal features an article discussing How schools can teach innovation. The author suggests offering hands-on classes and—my favorite—not penalizing failure. Our failures are simply ways we can learn. If we offer kids an opportunity to evaluate their mistakes instead of treating failure as shameful or taboo, we can provide them an opportunity to grow and innovate.

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