Our favorite books for babies and toddlers

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I have been reading to Clarissa since before she could talk. At first, she chomped on the books as I read them. But eventually she learned to sit and look at the books. We had several favorites when she was really small. These are our favorite books for babies and toddlers.

  • Time for Bed by Mem Fox
    I loved the repetition in this book. “It’s time for bed little sheep, little sheep. The whole wide world is going to sleep…” Clarissa loved the animals in the book. I would say goodnight and call her a different animal every night.
  • Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
    Clarissa really liked this one, I think because of the bunny. It rhymes and has decent pictures. As a bigger kid, she was confused about why they said goodnight to so many objects because “you don’t need to say goodnight to air.” But as a baby, she loved it.
  • God Made Me
    Clarissa loved this one because of all the animals. She liked to tell me the names of the animals in the pictures. I liked that she was learning that God made everything.
  • Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You by Nancy Tillman
    This is another rhyming book with wonderful pictures. I loved that this book taught Clarissa that no matter what, Mommy would always love her. And that even as a grown up she would know that she was loved.
  • On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman
    Clarissa preferred this one because of all the adventures the animals had on the “wonderful, marvelous night she was born.”
  • God Gave Us You by Lisa Tawn Bergren
    This is one in a series of books about Little Cub and her family. This one explains how Mommy and Daddy were excited that God was giving them a baby and some of the anticipation they had for baby’s birth and then what life was like when they brought baby home. She liked the bears.
  • Time for a Hug by Phillis Gershator and Mim Green
    This was Clarissa’s favorite book for about a year. She loved that the bunny and her mom had a hug like every hour of the day. I think she also liked that Daddy would hug her every time it happened in the book. This would also be a great book to teach little kids about a schedule.

Our Favorite Christmas Books for preschool and young elementary

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Clarissa has so many books that they don’t fit all fit on her bookshelf (side effect of your mother being a former reading teacher I suppose). There are certain books we like for each season so I rotate them out. I pull out the Christmas books about Thanksgiving time. But she knows where they are, so sometimes she will go and get them at random times during the year.

We have so many Christmas books that we really enjoy. This is our list of our favorite Christmas books for preschool and young elementary children.

  • Peek A Bible The Christmas Story by Tracy Harrast
    This is a lift the flap book that tells the Christmas story from Gabriel coming to see Mary until the wise men arrive to worship Jesus. Clarissa has always enjoyed lifting the flaps and I like that it is the true Biblical story.
  • Crystal Bowman’s Christmas board books are some of my favorites. I love the rhyme to the stories and the pictures are great. Clarissa really enjoys these as well.
    Jesus, Me, and My Christmas Tree talks about how every part of your Christmas tree (lights, the star, angels, presents, etc) points you back to Jesus, the real reason for Christmas.
    J is for Jesus talks about how a candy cane tells you Jesus’s story and gives details about the shepherds and angels at Christmas. It also talks about Jesus on the cross. Think Legend of the Candy Cane but for little ones.
    A Star for Jesus talks about how the star appeared in the sky and led the wise men to Jesus.
    My Christmas Stocking talks about St Nicholas and why we put presents in stockings today.
  • A Christmas Prayer by Amy Parker
    This rhyming book talks about being thankful for each part of the nativity set from the angel, to Mary and Joseph, the donkey, shepherds, star, and of course baby Jesus who was the best present of all.
  • God Gave Us Christmas by Lisa Tawn Bergren
    We like Little Cub in this house. In this installment, Mama takes Little Cub to go find God and see how He gave us Christmas. Little Cub is very excited that she can go and see God in things like the light, a glacier, and a star. They talk about how Jesus is the real reason for Christmas and the best gift ever.
  • The Pine Tree Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs
    I think I need to write a blog post specifically for her books. The Pine Tree Parable is about a family who comes to a poor family who comes to a pine tree farm and the little girl wants the biggest tree there. The family who owns the pine tree farm ends up gifting the family the tree, even though she was planning to keep it for their family. A wonderful story about giving.
  • Of course the Berenstain Bears have some fun Christmas books as well
    Trim the Tree is a flap book that watches the Bear family put up their Christmas Tree.
    In The Berenstain Bears and the Joy of Giving, the cubs learn that it is better to give than to receive. They also are the camel in the Christmas Play where you can see the Nativity story.
    In The Very First Christmas, Papa Bear reads the cubs the Christmas story from the Bible. It has fun illustrations. Clarissa always thinks its funny that they are bears instead of people though.
  • The Twelve Days of Christmas in Virginia by Sue Corbett
    In this story, a brother and sister are supposed to visit their aunt in Virginia but the sister gets hurt so she can’t go. The brother writes his sister every day to tell about his adventures. We’re originally from Virginia so I like that Clarissa can learn a little bit about the state she’s from.
  • Gingerbread Friends by Jan Brett
    I like this story better than the original Gingerbread Boy because this one isn’t obnoxious. He just wants some friends and goes on an adventure to find them.
  • The Three Gifts of Christmas by Jennie Bishop
    This is a new favorite for me this year. In the beginning of the story, the princess is quite spoiled. So the king and queen come up with a plan. By the end of the story, the princess has given away all of her gifts and become truly gracious and kind. Clarissa is a little unsure because she thinks I am going to make her give away all of her presents though.
  • The King’s Christmas List by Eldon Johnson
    Clarissa was more excited about this new book about giving. Emma and her dog are invited to the king’s palace for his birthday party. Along the way Emma gives away all of her presents for the king. The king explains to her the verse that talks about “whatever you do for the least of these you do for me.” The end of the book gives some suggestions on how your family can give a birthday present to Jesus. Clarissa immediately was like, “Let’s do that!”
  • Merry Christmas Mom and Dad by Mercer Mayer
    This book isn’t about Jesus at all. But. It has all of the usual Little Critter antics that we enjoy. He tries to get the ornaments out for mom, but the box was upside down. He wants to give her Christmas cookies but he got hungry. You get the idea…

 

As a side note, I noticed as I was linking these to Amazon, most of these books are on sale right now. They are also not new books, so some are available at your local library.

Potty Training part 1

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When we first moved to Korea,  Clarissa was 18 months old and seemed obsessed with watching Tim and I use the bathroom.  I thought she was young but decided to buy a princess potty anyway to see what would happen.

Within a few days she peed and pooped in the potty.  Quite pleased with herself,  she was done and lost interest in the potty for about 9 months.

Then her best friend turned three and started potty training.  Clarissa asked to start potty training but I told her we would wait a few weeks because we were going to Japan for Christmas.  That was a mistake because by the time we returned,  she had completely lost interest.

One of the few times per year I take time to read entire books is when we travel.  I read a few books about potty training on our Japan trip and also on our trip to Seoul.  Most claimed that you can completely potty train your child in 3-5 days.  They lied…

I thought we would try potty training over spring break because we would be home the whole week,  but she really wasn’t interested,  so we stopped.

I was in charge of vacation bible school this summer and the rule has always been that you need to be three years old and potty trained to attend vbs.  She was two weeks shy of 3 for vbs,  but I thought that if we started in June,  that would give us enough time to potty train.  She was pretty good about not having an accident if I made sure she sat on the potty at least once per hour.  It wasn’t until we were both sick and stayed home for an entire week in mid July that she started realizing when she needed to use the potty on her own.

But then we spent two weeks out of the house every day for vbs.  If she is in a diaper,  she will use it.  Smart girl.

August was fairly consistent.  If we were at home,  she would use the potty when she needed to.  But once you put panties or a diaper on her,  she refused the potty.  So that meant that we were potty trained in the apartment only.

We went on vacation to Japan in September.  I figured she would just stick to her diapers.  For the most part she did.  But once per day she would use the potty.  It was always at an interesting time.  I don’t think she used a hotel potty the entire trip (though now that I think about it,  the bidets probably scared her).  She often used the toilet on a moving train.  If it happened to be a squatty,  I just said no.

The rest of September,  she mostly asked for a diaper.  Some mornings,  she wakes up with a dry diaper.  But now we are back to being potty trained in the apartment without panties. She sometimes asks for a diaper when she needs to poop.

I still use cloth diapers when we leave the apartment.  I figure that she will be potty trained when she wants to as she sometimes asks to use the potty when we are out.  It is not worth stressing her out over using the potty. Especially when it doesn’t really add to our budget anyway.

Clarissa’s first movie theater experience 

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Last summer and fall,  Clarissa was obsessed with the movie Finding Nemo.  There were two copies at the library.  So most weeks at storytime we would return our copy and borrow the other one. She received the DVD as a gift for Christmas so that we didn’t need to borrow it anymore. 

When we heard that Finding Dory was coming out,  we knew she had to see it.  We thought that at almost three years old,  she would be able to sit through the movie in the theater and actually enjoy it. 

The movie was supposed to come out in June.  Tim had a four day weekend for the Fourth of July so we thought that Friday would be perfect because it wouldn’t be as crowded. All week I talked up the movie.  Tim brought home the book from TDY (business trip).  We talked about how the movie would be on the big screen and we would have to sit and be quiet but we would get to eat popcorn. 

Thursday night after I put her to bed,  I went online to look at movie times and was surprised to discover that the movie would not be out in Korea for another week. We were so upset. 

The next morning,  Clarissa woke up ready for her movie and I had to tell her that I made a mistake and we actually couldn’t go to the movie until next week. She was surprisingly satisfied with my explanation. 

All of the English movie times were during the week. Tim took the next Friday afternoon  off and we met him at the subway to go downtown. 

We headed to the food court at Hyundai Department store for lunch.  Tim ordered grilled eel at the bento place.  I ordered bibimbap.  Clarissa ate my rice. 

After lunch we had an hour to kill so we decided to go for a walk.  As we walked past Miso City,  we noticed that there were some traditional houses so we decided to check them out.  There was a bit of a walking tour,  complete with stamps.  Clarissa wanted me to stamp both of her hands. 

After we completed the loop we went back to Hyundai Department Store to buy our movie tickets.  We ordered some popcorn and had to wait a few minutes before we could go to the theater. 

When we bought our tickets,  we received two small posters.  Clarissa would not let me put the Dory poster in my bookbag for safe keeping. 

She did very well in the theater.  She sat in her seat for most of the movie.  She only had to sit in my lap for the last 15 minutes or so. 

Once the movie started Clarissa was too interested in the big screen to eat her popcorn. But she was pretty quiet.  She asked a few questions but was a reasonable noise level throughout the movie. 

It was a great family outing.  I wonder what our next movie will be… 

Making healthy animal crackers

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A few weeks ago, Clarissa asked to “mix” everyday. But it was always right before we needed to leave to go somewhere. So that Friday, when we didn’t have any plans, I decided it would be a great day to bake something.

Clarissa really likes goldfish crackers but we’ve pretty much decided that her mood is way more even keel when she eats gluten free. I was looking at some gluten free alternatives to goldfish. But she didn’t really like them. And they were very processed (and expensive since I had to buy in bulk from Amazon to ship them here).

So I decided to try something from the Super Healthy Kids blog. They call them gluten free pizza crackers. This is mostly the same recipe, I just switched a few things based on what ingredients I already had in my house.

Clarissa had a great time dumping the different ingredients into the bowl. She also kept trying to eat everything when I went for the next ingredient. She enjoyed using the rolling pin to flatten the dough. She also kept eating the dough while we were using the cookie cutters.

My sister sent me some fruit and vegetable cutters for Christmas. We have used them for fruit a few times, but mostly we have used them for cookies and crackers. Clarissa loves the animal shapes. And they make them a good size to be finger foods for her.

The hardest part was probably keeping Mittens off the table while we were busy making these! But they were delicious. Clarissa actually ate them and asked for them a few times before they were finished a few days later.  I kept them in a resealable glass container and they were fine for the five days we had them. I thought they were delicious!

Ingredients:
1 cup gluten-free all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon basil
1 1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 /4 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup canned pumpkin
1 tablespoon tomato sauce (we use Hunts garlic and herb)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 F / 180 C.
2. Add all ingredients together in a large bowl and stir.
3. Eventually you will need to use your hands to make the dough into a ball.
4. Place half of your dough between two pieces of parchment paper.
5. Use a rolling pin to flatten dough to about 1/4 inch thick.
6. Remove parchment paper and use cookie cutters (or fruit cutters) to create desired shapes.
7. Bake in oven for 25 minutes.

Clarissa 2.75

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I meant to write about Clarissa’s favorite things at two and a half but never got around to it.  She has changed so much since February that I didn’t want to wait until she turns three in August to write about her favorite things. 

This week Clarissa turned two years and nine months old. She is still not potty trained.  She loves her princess panties and can go an entire day (minus nap and bedtime)  without an accident.  But she will rarely stop what she is doing to go potty. She will often tell me, “I went yest day (yesterday).” The only time she tells me she needs to go is during naptime or bedtime.  I know it is a stalling tactic,  but she does generally pee during this time.

Clarissa has really become more girly since we returned from Japan at Christmas.  Ponytails and hair clips are still rare.  But she definitely requested that I buy her a new hair bow at the px on Friday.

Clarissa is not as interested in cars,  busses,  and trains anymore.  The only time she plays with her cars and ramp is when little boys come over to play.  Yet when we went to the folk village,  the souvioneer she chose was a huge Lani bus.

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Her favorite thing to do is play with Legos.  We spend hours building things.  She will come up to me and say,  “Mommy build.” We mostly build animals from her favorite TV shows and movies.

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We sometimes paint.  She gets excited about painting her hands and feet to make crafts for the grandparents. She isn’t really interested in playing with play doh these days.

Clarissa still plays with Haven but has several other friends.  She has library friends,  neighbor friends,  church friends,  and park friends.  Her favorite friend is probably Mittens,  our kitten.

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Clarissa still likes to read.  Her favorite TV show right now is My Little Pony.  Her favorite movie last week was Toy Story.  But the week before was Frozen and the whole month before was Good Dinosaur.

We ordered a big girl bed for her this weekend at Osan so she should get to sleep on it in the next couple of weeks.  Of course Clarissa picked out some My Little Pony bedding.

I have pretty much given up on naptime. Though I still think she would benefit from sleeping, she refuses and often says, “No thanks. Maybe morrow (tomorrow).” So we have transitioned to a rest time in the afternoon and an earlier bedtime.

Food is still complicated. She will eat most fruits and vegetables in a pouch but rarely in their raw form. She will eat pepperoni,  peanuts,  and string cheese for protein.  Breakfast sausage, scrambled eggs,  apples,  and banana are hit or miss.  She loves gluten-free pretzels,  popcorn,  pasta,  and pizza.  Clarissa also drinks soy milk everyday. 

Packing the Diaper Bag

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The contents of my diaper bag has changed as Clarissa grows.

We moved to South Korea the week that Clarissa turned 18 months old. Not only did we move to a different country, but we didn’t bring a car. Needless to say, our entire lifestyle changed. At that point, I switched from a normal diaper bag to a bookbag. This way, I could bring a bus pass, my wallet, cell phone, and waterbottle along with whatever Clarissa would need.

I would make sure the following items were packed:

  • 1 extra outfit
  • a diaper for every 4 hours I planned to be away from the house (plus one extra)
  • a washcloth (wipe) for every diaper plus one extra
  • my wetbag for dirty diapers
  • my mini spray bottle for diaper changes
  • sippy cup of water
  • some finger foods like crackers or puffs
  • a pouch of fruits or vegetables
  • I let her choose a small toy or book for the bus ride

After being in Korea a few weeks, we also bought a small backpack harness for her. She wanted to walk on her own and I didn’t have to worry about cars. I usually put the snacks in her little backpack for easy access on the bus.