Thursday, July 31, 2014

Toddler Alphabet Boxes (and Word Boxes)

Last fall, Brayden and I were working on the alphabet. He was really into it and I figured I'd make him some snazzy alphabet boxes (similar to the color boxes I made him eons ago). I started putting them together and then just... stopped. It's July now. He's known his ABCs since Christmas but I didn't want to just abandon all the work I did on them.

I went ahead and finished them this week, deciding I wouldn't just use the alphabet component of the boxes. There are a lot of items in each box so we've been working on words - especially the pronunciation. I also added some word cards to the boxes so we can do some early literacy activities (even if it just starts laying foundation for the idea of coding and decoding involved in reading). I'm expanding the boxes to a few days each - doing art activities with each letter on subsequent days. Brayden has really been enjoying them so far (not surprising, I know!).

The boxes seem to give Brayden good practice on a wide variety of skills, and his articulation has already improved. I'd definitely recommend something along these lines - even if it's a way scaled down version.

Each box has a bunch of items starting with that letter, an Eric Carlyle art card (each one has an animal on the other side), an alphabet block, two coloring pages (I just found free ones online), and word cards for each item in the box (missing the first letter).

I decided not to go in traditional A to Z order. Instead, I used a Montessori approach which essentially has kids learn letters that make the most (and most common) words first. I couldn't find the exact article I used, but this explains some different order options. I (unknowingly) am using one that comes from a popular Montessori book.

After we go through each item and name is (with deliberate pronunciation), we do some of the cards. I have Brayden put the block in the square and then we sound out the word together and he finds the item. He really enjoyed this part - but the attention span for it only lasted 3-4 words at a time.

For the second day, I cut out a letter, taped it to an art pad and let Brayden go to town painting over it. We also made an animal from the letter - today we made a caterpillar in the shape of a "C."  He was super proud of his masterpieces. :)

Monday, July 28, 2014

10 Toddler Hashtags

The toddler phase is really a lot of fun. Lauren and I have been just loving this age with Brayden. The kid is active, sweet, affectionate, communicative and simply hilarious. We're doing so many fun activities with him (from soccer to swimming to children's theater) and are taking advantage of the new things he is able to do. He can be so amazingly joyful (as he runs through the house giggling with glee, hugging everyone, or trying to kiss our dogs) that it's impossible not to be in love with this kid or sport a giant smile yourself.

However. (Insert deep breath here)

They don't call it the "terrible twos" for nothing. Even Brayden - who is genuinely a good kid and rarely gets himself into trouble - has his moments. Sometimes he has a dozen of them. Before breakfast. While I'm home by myself watching him and taking care of my infant. Other times, it seems like he has entire days that are moments.

I'm not a big hashtagger (is that a word?) but I just couldn't help it. A few hashtags to describe the terrible twos.


I swear my sweet little boy was here just a second ago...


Because even though I've said it twenty times already, there's a chance I wasn't really serious.


This should be an Olympic sport. I don't know many non-moms who can read Steam Train, Dream Train eighteen times in a row without screaming.




Some days it feels like everything fits into this category for him.


Put me down. NOOOO! Pick me up. NOOOOO!


How do they know the exact thing you don't want them to repeat?


The academy is so proud of all these little two-year-olds running around.


Wa mee mouw wi da-da = Watch Mickey Mouse with Daddy. (10 points)


Sometimes, that's all you can do until you wait for the wave to pass and your sweet little boy to come back to you. :)

I felt kind of bad posting this picture. But Brayden LOVES it. Over the last few days, he's asked me a dozen times to see the picture of "B crying." Every time I show him, he just giggles. SMH.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The last thing I...

Really laughed at...

Brayden trying on my ballet flats and throwing a tantrum when he couldn't kick a soccer ball in them. It's not easy being a girl!

Shook my head at...

Lauren saying something completely inappropriate and being mimicked (word for word) by our toddler.

Took a picture of...

My babies. ♥

My sweet girl first thing this morning

My big guy helping me bake

Watched on TV...

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. What else?


A Mickey Mouse Clubhouse book. What else?


Eight 6-inch cakes (I'm not pregnant or on a random baking binge; I'm doing some cake trials for the wedding cake I'm making for a friend.) :)


Eggs, butter (see above) and a Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cup for Lauren

Put on...

Yoga pants (but this time I was actually doing yoga! Really!)

Cried about...

Last week, I donated a bunch of baby items to a newly single father (whose wife passed away the day after their baby was born at 31 weeks). A friend of his was collecting donations and came over to pick some things up. After talking to her for a while, I found out the baby girl's name is Alyssa. Made it so much harder to stop thinking about the tragic situation.

Was amazed at...

My babies. Always my babies. They make my heart so full. ♥

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Two-Year Quirks

My not-so-little man turned two a few weeks ago. As a result, there's been a lot of reminiscing happening between these four walls. Around the 9-month mark, I posted a list of some of Brayden's silly quirks. Although many of the items have not stood the test of time, he's still (and always will be) a larger-than-life, silly and joyful guy. Some of his more recent quirks follow...

Man, I love this kid.

1. Imitating noises - especially inadvertent ones

You can't get away with anything around this kid. If you cough, burp, hiccup or sneeze, he's right there to echo the sound effect. My hiccups last week were an amazing symphony of random outbursts. Sneezes are now repeated with increasing intensity until we say "bless you." And coughs? Let's just say we've headed down a dangerous boy-who-cried-choke path here.

2. Sports announcing.

Whenever Brayden sees a sport (in a book or on television), he excitedly points and yells out what sport it is. When it's on TV, the second someone scores (or in the case of tennis, serves the ball), he throws his hands in the air and screams "gooooooaaaaaaallll!"

3. Parading around the house wearing one sock or shoe

Always one. It doesn't matter how many times I put the other back on. It seems like every time I look at the kid, he's wearing half a pair. :)

4. Cute-turned-creepy animals

Lauren plays a game with Brayden where he takes a sweet and cuddly stuffed animal and makes it attack him (often even allowing it to take of the poor boy's pants). 

5. Two of everything

The rule clearly does not apply to footwear, but Brayden always requests two of something. Two grapes. Two pretzels. Two raisins. Occasionally, if it's something he really likes, he'll count on his fingers and ask for "one, two, three, FIVE!" 

6. An herbivore at its best

Brayden absolutely loves SALAD. Even the lettuce. I'm not sure I've ever seen another two-year old devour greens the way he does. It started months ago when he began asking to try my dinner (I make a yummy chicken salad probably once a week). He kept asking... and asking... and asking (and relishing in the bites I gave him). Finally, last week, I decided to give him his own chicken salad for dinner. He was so excited that you would have thought I had actually given him chocolate cake for the meal.

7. Pig-latin re-invented

Toddlers definitely pave their own way along the verbal journey. For Brayden, his route is learning the beginning of words. Give him any sentence at all - and he'll repeat it back to you using only the first sounds of the words. It sounds a bit like a static-filled connection. (Disclaimer: he's actually really good at talking, but this little quirk just cracks us up)

8. Pouncing (and barrel rolls and spinning and sliding)

There's no such thing as boredom with this kid. When he's low on things to do, he simply starts using his body for amusement. He loves spinning in circles with his arms out making helicopter sounds, randomly running and jumping across the living room (future long jumper?), running and sliding into an imaginary second base, or pouncing on whatever (or whomever) is handy. Thank goodness Elissa has escaped this wrath so far.

9. Rocks & Watermelon

His two favorite things in the entire universe. Enough said.

10. Saying hi... to everyone.

One of his parents' favorite things. Every stranger he sees, he waves at and says hello. Even if they're too far away to hear him. Such a sweet boy... ♥