** UPDATED: So, I’m about two weeks late posting the winner of this giveaway. Sorry, guys. The winner is commenter #1: Betty!! Congratulations, Betty! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to claim your prize. Thanks for playing everyone!**
I have been meaning to post about these flash cards since Bean got them for Christmas (or maybe his birthday?) last year. Chris’s mom gave them to him. She is always finding the most educational and creative gifts for Bean and Gracie. Jackie gives things that most people don’t find and so her gifts always have something unique and memorable about them. These Eric Carle Animal Flashcards are the perfect example.
First of all, I am a sucker for Eric Carle. I love his art work. I think it is beautiful and whimsical and bright and vibrant, which is everything I think art should be. His baby books are big hits around my house, but these flashcards might be an even bigger hit, actually.
You can’t really tell from these pictures, but they are a nice sized, sturdy flashcard on board-like material in a gift-quality display box. They hold up really well to a toddler’s rowdy learning style, or a baby’s gummy slobbers.
The letters are large, colorful, and easy to read for Bean. And I like that they show the upper and lower case letters for each.
And what would Eric Carle flashcards be without beautiful artwork?
Each card has a vibrant drawing of an animal or sea creature on the back that corresponds with the letter on the front. Unlike other flashcards, these are large pictures since the flashcards themselves are the size of a medium-sized board book. It makes them easy to see and easy for tiny toddler hands to manipulate.
Another thing I really like about these flashcards are that some of the animals and sea creatures are non-traditional. For example, everyone has bunnies on B flashcards, but this set has a buffalo instead. It gives Bean a chance to learn other animals that he might now normally see, such as a yak, a quetzal, or a narwhal.
I really can’t recommend these flashcards enough. They are so nice that they would make a lovely baby shower or first, second, or third birthday gift for a child. I was thinking about giving a set away to you all and was a little worried about how much they were going to cost. I easily thought these were $25 or more, given their high quality, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that they were only $10 on Amazon! So – I’m giving away TWO sets!
To enter to win, leave a comment below telling me what word you always have trouble pronouncing or spelling. What word would you need a flashcard for??? The giveaway will be open until 8:00pm EST on Friday, 2/3. I’ll announce two winners on Monday.
This giveaway is sponsored by Bean. Because he loves these flashcards. And he’s nice.
I have had the same signature since I was in college. I sign with my first initial and then my last name. I started with the first initial thing because my maiden name was long and my formal first name is long and, quite frankly, I just couldn’t make my signature look cute. Shallow, but true. That long signature was just so hard to write. Instead of it being bubbly and happy, like I wanted my signature to be, it was the definition of chicken scratch. It just didn’t look good. And I got tired writing it. It was too long.
(Yes, I know I sound like a middle schooler. Blame it on my day job.)
So, I cut it down to my first initial and my last name. When I got married, my last name became even shorter and so did my signature. Now, my signature really looks like a KB and then the rest is undetectable. Apparently, the shorter my name gets, the lazier I become.
(This picture doesn’t have anything to do with my signature, by the way. It’s just the most recent picture of me. On a side note, to my side note, doesn’t it look like my head isn’t connected to my body?!?!)
This week, though, I was at the local library and I had to sign something. When I signed my name, the two older women behind the desk started having a private conversation right there in front of me about signatures of young people today.
“What kind of signature is that?” one said to the other, holding up my paperwork so she could see it better.
“It’s her initial and last name,” the other replied. “It’s how all the young people are signing their name these days.”
“Well, that’s not a signature!” the first chirped. “That’s just her initials!”
“I know,” said the second. “But they count it as a signature, so I guess we have to take it.”
This wasn’t the first time I’d heard that about my signature. My mom used to get on to me when I was younger for not signing my whole name. She works for a bank, so she’s always insisting that what I sign isn’t “officially” a signature. But, you know moms… So, I usually just blew her off and rolled my eyes.
But, after all this time, was she actually right????
So, I came home and told Chris what the women had said about my signature. He laughed and then said that he’d always thought my signature looked like a little kid’s initials.
So, apparently, I’ve been walking around for ten years signing my name like a child and no one told me. Thank goodness those little old librarian ladies set me straight. This has left me walking around for the past week like a middle schooler (day job again…), trying out my signature in all different ways. Finally, I thought I found the right one, but when I used it today at school?
Chicken scratch. And then my hand got tired.
Just like in college.
It’s amazing how far we come and, yet, how much we are still the same. (sigh)
One of the hardest parts of being a parent is figuring out the logistics. I remember being pregnant with Bean and sitting up all night long worrying about things like how I was going to get him from the car into the doctors appointment, or what I was going to do with him in the grocery store? What I hated most about being a new mom was feeling like everyone else knew how to do things and I didn’t, and so I wanted to figure it out before anyone knew that I didn’t have a clue what I was doing!
If I could tell new moms anything, I would tell them this giant secret of parenthood: We’re all new moms.
Every time Bean hits a new milestone or a new phase or a new age, I’m back to the beginning. Sitting up at night, trying to figure out how to do this parenting thing. It’s a continuous cycle of figuring things out. Your only real objective is to learn only slightly faster than your children grow. And you quickly realize, that’s just darn impossible.
But, it’s the figuring things out that makes parenting so rewarding. The first time Michael ran a fever and I didn’t freak out and have to call the pediatrician in the middle of the night, I felt like Super Woman. The first time Bean had a successful time out, I felt like Wonder Woman. The first time I took both kids grocery shopping by myself, I felt like She-Ra. Watching yourself learn and grown as a parent is sometimes just as exciting as watching your children learn and grow. So, if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by being a new mom (of children ANY age), take heart. We all feel like that sometimes. You’re in good company.
I thought today, I would share some random, simple, logistical tips that I’ve learned over the past two and a half years. There are a thousand different ways to parent, so some of these may not be the way for you. But maybe they’ll at least give you one option in a sea of many.
- When we’re in a parking lot and I’m trying to get the kids into the car, I always put Bean in first. He is the one who moves around the most and the one who would be most likely to bolt out in traffic, so I feel better when he is contained somewhere. Usually, I put him in his seat (now he likes to crawl up himself) quickly, without buckling him, and he plays around in the backseat while I walk around and buckle Gracie in. Then, I go back to Bean and buckle him in. This gets Gracie in her seat quickly, but it also keeps Bean contained.
- If you have two little ones and you can wing it, it makes things much easier to do dinner, bath, and bedtime all together. We have to do modified versions of this routine with Gracie so that she can hang in there with Bean (ex. she sits in her high chair and feeds herself bits of food while I get his dinner ready and then I feed her the actual baby food when Bean sits down to eat), but for the most part, we give them dinner at the same time and then we give them a bath together. Then, Chris gets Bean ready for bed and I get Gracie ready for bed and they both go down at the same time. That way, our attention isn’t focused on one child while the other has to wait. It also helps keep our evening routine from dragging out for hours. Both kids are in bed by 7:00.
- If you’re able, having two people at bath time when you have two babies in the tub makes it easier and safer. One of us takes one and the other takes the second and we get them all soaped up and clean at the same time.
- If you move a newborn into their own room for the first time and you find yourself unable to sleep because you’re listening to every twitch on the baby monitor, try turning the monitor off. Trust me, when babies need something, they make those needs KNOWN. If they truly wake up because they need something, you’ll be able to hear them cry without the monitor (provided your room is within ear shot of the nursery). I finally took the monitor out of our room with Bean because I was jumping wide awake at every noise he made. And then I realized that if he actually needed me, he would make enough noise on his own.
- When you’re putting on baby shoes on little, bitty, pudgy baby feet, try putting them on at an angle and then twisting them onto the baby’s feet, like you’re twisting the lid on a jar. The shoe will just “snap” into place.
- When at all possible, carry your infant in the car seat/carrier. I know it’s super heavy to lug around, but when you’re on the go, babies sleep better in their own space. Plus, if it’s cold outside, keeping them wrapped up in their seat with a good blanket keeps them much warmer than if you lift them out.
- Never go ANYWHERE without a burp cloth! No matter how long you’re going to be gone. Even if you’re just running out to the mailbox with your baby – TAKE A BURP CLOTH. Trust me.
- I don’t usually carry diapers in my diaper bag. I have a pack of them that I leave in the car, along with a changing mat and a pack of wipes. I found that whenever we were out and about and I needed a diaper change, I’d rather take the baby out to the car to change them anyway than change them in a public restroom. A word of caution, though, keep diaper wipes in your bag! You’ll use them for so many things!
- If you have babies in daycare, be sure you not only label their bottle, but you label the lids, too. We had so many lids lost or sent home with the wrong families before I finally got smart and started labeling the lid, too.
- This might not work for everyone, but for my babies, we tried to take them out for errands during nap time. When they are newborns and very young infants, usually they can sleep just about anywhere. So, I’d give them a big bottle, load ‘em up in their car seat, and on the drive to the grocery story, they’d fall asleep. Then, I’d just put the carrier in the seat part of the grocery cart and they’d sleep while I shopped. The only setback to this method is that when you get home, the baby will be wide-eyed and you’ll be wanting a nap! But, if you really need to get some things done, try doing it during nap time.
On Sunday mornings, Bean and Gracie go to their own nurseries while Chris and I go to “big church.” Up until Gracie was five or six months old, we brought her to church with us because I was nervous about leaving her with the nursery girls. She was just so tiny! But since then, she’s been in the nursery on Sundays. We’ve brought Bean to “big church” on special occasions before, like holidays or when we have family visiting with us at church or if the choir was doing a major performance. Anything that we thought would keep his attention. But, for the most part, the kids are in the nursery.
Today, though, our church served Communion and so right before they started that part of the service, I slipped out and went to get Bean from the nursery. Chris and I have talked before about how we thought he was old enough to start receiving Communion with us and today just seemed like the right time to start.
At our church, Communion is given once a month and everyone is invited to attend. Growing up, I remember my parents letting me have Communion from as early as I can remember. As a Christian, it is a very important symbolic act to me. It makes me feel connected to God through his son’s sacrifice and, while I want Bean to come into a relationship with God on his own terms and in his own heart, I want to give him the opportunity to feel at home and comfortable in the church by showing him the customs and traditions we practice. That was how it was in my family. Religion was never forced on me. It wasn’t a requirement. It was just an environment that my parents continually exposed me to so that I came to feel comfortable and at home in the church. Years later, in college, when I began to simultaneously grow in my faith and question my faith, I could go through those thoughts and struggles within the context of a place that I felt comfortable and safe in. As a parent, I think that’s the best we can do for our children. I want Bean to know that Christ and the church are where I find my strength, and I want him to see the importance of that in my life. But then I want him to make that commitment to faith for himself.
I pray every single day that both my children make that commitment for themselves.
We haven’t really done too much up to this point to introduce God and Christ to Bean. We sing the blessing before we eat, we say prayers together at night, we watch Veggie Tales, and occasionally we talk about Bible stories.
Actually, when I write it out, I guess that’s not too bad. But what we haven’t really gotten into with him is the Christian doctrine (to the extent that you could do that with a two-and-a-half year old). We haven’t really talked about what we believe. I just don’t feel like Bean can understand the abstract ideas of religion yet. So, instead, we focus on things that he CAN understand.
Communion this morning was a perfect example. When I brought Bean into the “big church,” we stood in the narthex while the minister prayed over the bread and grape juice. While he prayed, I held Bean and whispered in his ear what was happening. I said things like, “Do you see that man in the robe? That is one of God’s best friends and he is going to give us a snack today.” I told him that the snack was a gift from God because “God loves Michael.”
I told Bean what it was he would be eating – bread and juice – because I wanted him to know what would happen when we went up front. Then I pointed to the Communion rail (where we kneel in our church to receive the Sacrament) and told him that we were going to go up front there to the rail and then we would sing our blessing before we had our snack. When Bean understood what we were going to do, we went to the pew and sat down until our row was able to go up front. He does better in situations when he knows what’s going on and what he is supposed to do next.
When we got up to the Communion rail, I knelt and Bean stood in front of me with my arms around him. I held my hands out for the bread in front of Bean and he copied me. When our minister came along (who, by the way, is one of the sweetest men I have ever met), he put bread in my hands and then a little piece in Bean’s. I whispered into Bean’s ear while we waited for the juice to come down the rail, “This is our snack that God is giving us because God loves Michael and God loves mommy.”
“And God loves Daddy and God loves Gracie,” Bean whispered back.
“Exactly!” I whispered.
When the juice came, Bean was super excited when I gave him his own little cup, but I told him we had to sing our blessing first. Normally, before I take Communion, I pray a prayer of thanksgiving for the gift of his son and for his presence in my life. For Bean, that equates to a blessing. So, that’s what we did. Very quietly, Bean and I sang our family blessing right there at the Communion rail. Then, we both took Communion together.
When we stood up from the rail to go back to our pew, Bean happily wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and then announced very loudly to me, “Mommy, I want more snack!”
I’m sure I turned three shades of red in front of the laughing congregation, but inside I was praying, “Dear Lord, please keep his heart hungry for you.”