Monday, June 28, 2010

Monday, Monday

This morning, we sang one of our favourite songs - ABC! I'm so glad the kids seem innately excited by the ABC's. (Are all kids like this?) We laid the paper alphabet across the floor. I pointed to each letter while singing the song, and hoped they were watching some of it! They have so much fun just dancing around,  walking over the letters and picking up the letters.

Then we used the BINGO letters to sing that song. They took turns turning each letter over, and I clapped over the flipped letters.

Afterwards, they were interested in the alphabet puzzle, so we matched some of these pieces with the corresponding letters on the paper alphabet. I obviously had to help them with this, but I swear I saw flashes of understanding in them. They are such clever little kids!

In the afternoon, we went to the Annette Street Public Library Drop-in. (To see the location and hours, check out this link:
Annette Street Public Library Drop-in

Their favourite part is after music circle, when they get to go under the parachute. (I remember loving the parachute as a child too!) I tried to get some shots that don't have any other children in them. It was pretty difficult.

Of course, circle time wouldn't be complete without "Sleeping Bunnies".....under the parachute. Here are all 3 of them, assuming the position. M. always "wakes up" a little too early. She wants to make sure she's ready. So cute! Here are the words to the song:

See the sleeping bunnies sleeping till it's noon
Come let us wake them with this merry tune
Oh so still
Are they ill?
Wake up sleeping bunnies
Hop, hop, hop
Wake up sleeping bunnies
Hop, hop, hop
Wake up sleeping bunnies
Hop, and stop.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Nutrios vs. Cheerios

Are Nutrios really more nutritious than Cheerios? Compare the nutritional information of the two cereals for yourselves. This information is for the cereal only, not with milk included:

                          Cheerios                                  Nutrios
                                    (per 1 cup)                                                        (per 1 cup)
 Calories                       110                                                                    120
Fat                               2g                                                                      2g
Sodium                         250mg                                                               3mg
Carbohydrate               20g                                                                    22g
   Fibre                         2g                                                                      2g
   Sugars                       1g                                                                      1g
Protein                          3g                                                                      4g

                                 Daily Value%                                                      Daily Value%

Vitamin A                    0%                                                                     0%
Vitamin C                    0%                                                                     0%
Calcium                       4%                                                                     30%
Iron                             30%                                                                   100%
Thiamine                      4%                                                                     100%
Riboflavin                     2%                                                                     100%
Niacin                          6%                                                                     70%
Phosphorus                  10%                                                                   25%

Vitamin B6                  8%                                                                      not listed
Folate                          8%                                                                     not listed
Pantothenate                6%                                                                     not listed
Magnesium                  15%                                                                   not listed
Zinc                             6%                                                                     not listed

Nutrios looks more nutritious since it contains significantly less sodium, and significantly more calcium, iron, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and phosphorus. Especially when toddlers can be such picky eaters, it would seem that Nutrios is is one small way to cram a bit more nutrition into their diet. However, the Cheerios contains 5 other vitamins not listed on the Nutrios box. I'm not sure if the low percentage of these 5 vitamins makes much difference. Any nutritionists out there care to comment?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Homemade Finger Painting Recipe

Today I thought we would try finger painting. I got a homemade recipe off the internet at . Here is the recipe:

1/2 cup cornstarch
3 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups cold water
food coloring

You mix all the ingredients above and heat it in a pan on the stove until it thickens.

It was very gooey, not like the finger paint you might buy in the store. Still, it was so easy and inexpensive that I was pretty happy with the result. I gave them each a square of Bristle Board with some paint. Using my own piece of Bristle Board, I showed them how to spread the paint around with their fingers. Aidas was all over it, but the other two....well, the picture below speaks a thousand words.
M. (in the highchair) has perfected the 'teenager with an attitude' look. She is clearly not impressed. And Noah is bored out of his skull. Neither of them wanted to touch their paper. At least Aidas is enjoying himself! Maybe we'll try it again in a couple of weeks.

All of them were happy when we moved on to snack. Again, a picture speaks a thousand words!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Noah is weaned!

Well, it's been about 2 weeks since I wrote the blog entry about my indecision (and thus my decision) not to wean Noah - yet. Little did I know, Noah would start the ball rolling to help me out. Last Friday morning he had what he calls "aboob". Friday night, he forgot to ask for it, and I neglected to remind him. When Saturday and Sunday passed without him asking, I figured it would be silly not to go with it....that is, wean him. There is one consistent time in particular that he demands (and I mean DEMANDS!) to breastfeed, and that is when the parents come to drop their kids off at the daycare. It is as if he needs to claim me as his mommy. So, I figured Monday morning would be the time when he would remember "aboob". He actually didn't remember until this (Tuesday) morning, but it was during the transfer of kids. It took me a little while to take his mind off it, but it was pretty painless. (A month ago, if I denied him this, he would have gone ballistic.) This just validated that it was indeed the right time. I was happy that it was Noah who 'let go', since Mother's guilt is the worst feeling. So there you go. Noah Charles, weaned at 21 months!

In other news, we were stuck inside for the entire day today because of the thunderstorms. I was a little bummed that the Early Literacy Centre potluck picnic would be impossible with such weather, but perhaps they will reschedule. The highlight of our day was a bath. They had fun splashing and playing with Noah's bath toys. I blew some bubbles, but M. didn't seem too keen on it, so I put them away. Here are a few pics of the 3 babes in the bath!
The boys are splashing in these 2 photos. M. is just kindly putting up with them!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

J's 2nd Birthday Party!

Let the days of attending kids' birthday parties begin! This was the second birthday party Noah has been to; he'll be getting the hang of things in no time!
His favourite part was definitely the food. He ate pretty much non-stop from the moment we arrived. (I'm surprised I managed to snap this photo of he and J. without a big wad of food sticking out of his mouth or hand!)

J. had a great time opening her presents. She loved the dolly we got her. Here she is on her new bicycle. Noah was a little jealous and confused as to why none of these gifts were for him. He kept saying "Nona" (which is how he says his own name), but I reminded him that these gifts were for J., and he took it like a champ! When I held a loot bag for him and told him I would give it to him outside, he was quite ready to leave. He said an abrupt "BYE!" to everyone and waited for me by the door.

J., who used to come to our daycare, is as beautiful as ever, inside and out. HAPPY 2nd BIRTHDAY to an insanely sweet little girl!!!!

Feeling at Home, at the Home Daycare

Miss M. (in all her cuteness, pictured above) is becoming quite a happy, confident litter camper at the daycare! The kids are into holding hands lately (though not for long periods of time), and I'm trying to capture these adorable moments on camera. I just couldn't let these pics go unposted!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Our Day

Today, M. was sick and didn't come to daycare. We missed her! We went to High Park for a playdate with Noah's 2nd cousin Hudson. It will be the last time we will see Hudson for a while, since he and his family are moving to London, England! Hudson LOVES cars and trucks, just like Aidas.

Aidas can climb up the stairs on one of the structures, sit down, slide down, and get off the slide - ALL BY HIMSELF! He was quite proud of himself, and did it about 10 times in a row. 

Noah was demonstrating his skills at kicking the ball. He's getting pretty good! Go Beckham!!

Then we came home and had peanut butter and jam sandwiches!  It was their first time sitting at our dining room table. What big boys they are now!

Aren't they awesome, drinking out of cups? They can even do it in sync!

After their nap, we were going to go to the playground. The sunscreen was on and everything. I even had my shoes on. But they were very defiant about putting on their shoes. They were very clear that they wanted to stay and play. (It made sense, since they had had no time to play at home/daycare until then.) So I thought it would be ridiculous to force them to go to the playground again, when they were having so much fun with what they were doing.

They're starting a band. They want to be like Olivia in "Olivia Forms a Band". They can also do saxophone, piano, and maracas. They rock! Remember where you first saw them!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Playdough Recipe

Here's a quick and easy Playdough recipe I picked up from the Ontario Early Years Centre. It's non-toxic, so it is perfect to use with the little ones who may try to put it in their mouths.

  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1/2 cup of salt
  • 2 tsps of cream of tartar
  • 1 cup of boiling water
  • 1 tsp of oil
  • dash of food colouring
*Mix all ingredients together and store in the refrigerator.

Friday, June 11, 2010

About the kids

Age: 19 months old
Been at the daycare since: 10 months old
Favourite Daycare Toys: dump truck, small trains, pull toys (frog, dog and penguins)
Favourite Drop-in Centre Activities: vehicle sound puzzle, water table, trucks
Favourite Songs: Wheels on the Bus, Hurry Hurry Drive the Fire Truck, Acka Backa Soda Cracka
Favourite Books: Sizes, Blue Hat-Green Hat, Fire Truck Book, Old MacDonald
Current Wow Factor: Can count to ten!
Something new I was able to do today: attach the wooden train tracks

Age: 16 months old
Been at the daycare since: 13 months old
Favourite Daycare Toys: little people or animals, car ramp, Fisher-Price village
 Favourite Drop-in Centre Activities: circle time (songs), water table, slide
Favourite Songs: Roly Poly, Three Little Bluebirds, Sleeping Bunnies
Favourite Books: We're Going on a Bear Hunt, giant pop-up Animals book, Elmo Says, Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?
Current Wow Factor: Can climb the rock climbing structure to get to slide (at EYC) all by herself!
Something new I was able to do today: say "Cookie"

Noah (my son)
Age: close to 21 months
Has had daycare friends since: 11 months
Favourite Toys at Home: little sorting vehicles, Mega Blocks Table, airplane with people
Favourite Drop-in Centre Activities: parachute, water table, puzzles
Favourite Songs: Wheels on the Bus, The Banana Song, Itsy Bitsy Spider
Favourite Books: Olivia, Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes, Turn and Learn, Gumpy Bird
Can Spend 15 minutes doing ABC puzzle with small pieces, with minimal help!
Something new I was able to do today: attach the wooden train tracks

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Breastfeeding a Toddler

"I'm going to wean him. Any day now." This is what I keep telling myself and others. Yet I just can't bring myself to do it yet. My son, Noah, is 20 and a half months, and yes, I am still on the fence about whether I want to quit. I can hear the disappointed groans of a few family members, and maybe even a few friends. And I am completely empathetic to your view. In fact, in the early days of breastfeeding Noah, I would have thought it sick to carry on this long. Yet, time keeps going by, and I feel unmotivated and frightened to break Noah of a habit that has been such a central, consistent part of his life, when he is still so attached to it, so to speak. I looked into the research about nursing a toddler, and decided to make a pros and cons list of continuing to breastfeed. Other mothers who are in the same boat may benefit from this information, and people who don't agree with it could in the very least see the positive aspects of it.

CONS to Breastfeeding a Toddler

  • It's a little weird when you are sitting in a chair, and your son or daughter can basically stand up next to you to nurse.
  • It's embarassing when you are in public and your kid is having a meltdown, screaming "BOOB!"
  • A toddler often comes off the breast to look around, talk, laugh, or sing a song, leaving your nipple exposed to the world, and leaving everyone feeling a little awkward.
  • "Breastfeeding takes a lot of energy for your body to make milk, so the mother can often feel quite fatigued."
  • Weaning is one issue that some extended breastfeeders find extremely challenging. While some people believe that weaning an older toddler is easier than weaning a year-old infant (because you can reason with an older toddler), others find that because of the tenacity of an older toddler, weaning leads to tears and frustration on both sides.

PROS to Breastfeeding a Toddler
  • even if your toddler is not eating as balanced and healthy a diet as you would like, your milk can fill those nutritional gaps.
  • Per the World Health Organization, "a modest increase in breastfeeding rates could prevent up to 10% of all deaths of children under five: Breastfeeding plays an essential and sometimes underestimated role in the treatment and prevention of childhood illness."
  • "...breastfeeding makes the toddler dependent? Don’t believe it. The child who breastfeeds until he weans himself (usually from 2 to 4 years), is generally more independent, and, perhaps more importantly, more secure in his independence."
  • "Extensive research on the relationship between cognitive achievement (IQ scores, grades in school) and breastfeeding has shown the greatest gains for those children breastfed the longest."
  • "The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that "Breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child... Increased duration of breastfeeding confers significant health and developmental benefits for the child and the mother... There is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychologic or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer." (AAP 2005)
  • "Mothers also benefit from extended nursing. You continue to benefit from the hormones of breastfeeding. The "mothering hormone," prolactin, relaxes you, while oxytocin stimulates loving , nurturing behavior. As mothers of nursing toddlers know, this can be very important to your mental health and well-being. Life with a toddler is not always easy! You also benefit from the intimacy that nursing provides. Taking time out of a busy day to cuddle is as important to moms as it is to their babies...Breastfeeding also provides protection against these diseases:
    ovarian cancer (Schneider AP, NE J Med, 1987)
    uterine cancer (Brock KE, Med J Australia, 1989)
    endometrial cancer (Petterson B et al, Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand, 1986)
    osteoporosis (Blaauw R et al, SAMJ 1994). Breastfeeding also has been shown to decrease insulin requirements in diabetic women (Davies HA, British Med J, 1989)."

      Please do not read the above information as a condemnation of mothers who do NOT breastfeed. Every mother has the right to choose if and for how long she nurses. Furthermore, we all know that the fundamental factor in child-rearing success is love, above all else. But why does it feel so unnacceptable to breastfeed a toddler when the above information clearly shows how acceptable it is? Blame it on our North American culture. (Though my second post about Paris would have one believe that this is a European view as well!) "Duration of breastfeeding is affected by all aspects of our culture. Biologically and historically and in most cultures, sustained breastfeeding is normal."  
          Well, there you go. That is enough for me. I'm going to put it off for another day...but when I think about weaning Noah now, instead of "Any day now", I say "Not Today".

        Sunday, June 6, 2010

        Educating the Very Young: A Teacher's Perspective on Providing Educational Home Care for Children 12-18 Months

        As I was perusing other child care service blogs today, I was excited to see the wealth of craft activity ideas available. Now that my son is 20 months old, I feel that he is nearing an exciting period of development. His world is opening up to a much larger variety of activity options. I'm talking about things such as colouring, painting, crafts, cooking/baking, playdough, and other activities that require a higher level of motor, language and intellectual ability. Don't get me wrong, since he was approximately a year old, we have been attempting such activities on a regular basis. It is just that the potential to fully appreciate and enjoy these activities is limited at such a young age. Even now, colouring lasts 5 minutes tops before his attention span wanders.

        In my family daycare, I do believe it is important to give the children a taste of these activities, even as early as 12 months old. But to what extent can they take part in these activities? What, as parents or caregivers, can we do to encourage them and help them learn? What activities can the 12-18-month-old really enjoy and grow from? Here are some tips from what I have learned working with this age group over the past year.

        Singing to children throughout the day can provide a joyful milieu; and a happy environment, in my opinion, is optimal for learning. Music is a fun, less complicated way to learn language. Most importantly, language is more memorable when presented in song form.(

        Pairing words in music with actions or pictures can help to enhance the understanding of language. There are many action songs that the children love and request. In fact, even with minimal language abilities at 12 months, it was often clear that a child was singing a particular song by his gestures. With the sounds he was uttering alone, I would not know this. I would join him in singing the song and his face would light up.We were communicating! Performing actions for songs gives pictures for words, which not only provides meaning but also makes words even that much more memorable.

        I feel it absolutely crucial to get children comfortable with books at an early age. Having taught grades 3-6, I have encountered children who seemed threatened by books. By this age, there is a fair amount of print per page in what they are expected to read, and if their reading ability isn't up to par, it can feel overwhelming to them; even hopeless. Although their poor reading skills could in part have been exacerbated by learning disabilities (in some cases), the lack of literature in their everyday lives, in my view, was the real culprit. Reading is something that MUST be valued at home.  This is one area that cannot be left merely to a child's teacher to teach. It is too dense and too complicated, and cannot be viewed as something to be learned in isolation. It has to be integral to their everyday lives.

        Long before children understand print, it is important for them to be able to relate to the pictures they see in books. If you are enthusiastic and excited about what you are reading to them, they will be too, in time. I have one child in my care who is always on the go. At about 1 year of age, he would not sit down to listen to me read  a book. Instead, he chose to move around the room, busy in his 'baby work'. Yet, he would still 'drop by' from time to time, to catch a glimpse of what I was reading.

        My son, on the other hand, may have sat still, but his mind also wandered. His eyes were often roaming the room, rather than directed to the book I was reading. Similar to the other child though, his eyes would return to the book from time to time.

        At 12 months, I consider each of these responses to be a success! My job is to entice them to listen to books, not force them. As we would read an reread books in the following days and weeks, they began to listen more. The one child would 'drop by' for longer periods of time. My son's eyes would wander less. They were becoming familiar with many of the books, and realizing that this was a worthwhile and fun activity. 

        The time they enjoyed (and I believe still enjoy) being read to most was during snacks or meals in their highchairs. I laugh as I write this, since it would appear that I am forcing them to listen to me read! But think about it. They are there enjoying their snack anyway. They've got no other plans, so to speak. The worst they could do, if they are not interested, is to tune me out. What I most often hear, though, after I've finished a book, is "Mo bu" (more books), as they point to the book shelf.

        I have to note that their favourite books around this 1-year-old mark were Helen Oxenbury's "Clap Hands", "Tickle, Tickle" and "All Fall Down". They are so simple and short, that young toddlers can actually sit and listen to a whole book without wandering off.

        I would recommend not even attempting this until 15 months. Even at this age, they seem to prefer to use the playdough in two ways; eating it or breaking it into a million little pieces. Still, it's nice to introduce it to them, even if the activity only lasts a few minutes.

        At 17 months they seem to get some enjoyment by just holding and squishing it. At this stage I like to model things they can do with the playdough. Make a ball or a snake for them, and they start to understand how it can be used to create things.

        This too, is something they often tire from within a few minutes. Actually, because they are limited in their ability to write, they often prefer the activity of taking the crayons out, and putting them back into a container. Markers are easiest for them to colour with, since it takes little pressure on paper to produce a result.

        These are important activities to develop fine motor skills (manipulation of things with hands), but sometimes the kids would become easily frustrated when they could not get a puzzle piece in immediately. I find that it encourages them if you place the puzzle piece so that it is almost in. All they have to do is touch it and it falls into place. Then you can gradually help them less until their frustration tolerance increases. (Many of you in the teaching world already know this as 'scaffolding'.)

        They often engaged in the activitiy of taking objects out of a container, and/or putting them back in. Or, they would take all the books off the shelf (and might or might not put them back!) Another favourite activity was taking lids off, and putting them back on (the pots and pans, for example).

        There are many other activities besides this that interest them, and there are many other activities which may be encouraged to help them grow. These are just a few of the main categories that I have touched on. I welcome any advice or suggestions about appropriate or helpful activities for this general age group.

        This was mainly a way for me to reflect on the past while. As my son and one of the other children in my care are older than this now, I am looking ahead to new activities I can introduce to them. I am really astounded at how children open up developmentally, like little flowers. They can change so much within a month, week, and even sometimes in a matter of days! It's pretty amazing to see, and I get to see it happening up close!

        Wednesday, June 2, 2010

        Taking a Toddler to Paris

        Left: Entering the Hall of Mirrors, at Versailles

        Watching the boats on the Seine.

        Noah, running towards Rodin's house.

        Outside Versailles.

        Outside the Louvre.

        In the Louvre.

        My husband, son Noah (20 months old) and I just returned last week from a 2-week trip to Paris. I have been getting a lot of questions (including a few along the lines of "Why the heck would you want to take a toddler to Paris?!?") and requests for tips. I realize my experience is only one of many, and every child is different. Nonetheless, I will give what information I can that may be useful to some of you considering such an endeavor.

        First of all, let me say that it was well worth it for us to enjoy this adventure with him. And, I dare to say that although this is probably not a city that would come to mind as a fun place for young children to visit, he did take delight in a lot of it. In my opinion, it is what you make it for them.

        So, here are some suggestions.
        1. Rent an apartment - These are mainly in the same price range as hotels, but you save more money if you can make at least one meal (breakfast, for us) in the apartment. Our apartment was small, but included a kitchen area, a bedroom, a playpen for our son to sleep in, internet, a cd player, and a washer/dryer (you can pack a little lighter and just do the minimal amount of laundry you need to, while you're there).
        2. Bring your baby carrier! If you have an Ergo, or a similar carrier for older babies, it would help to use it in conjunction with your stroller. (We had meant to bring ours, but it was the one thing we forgot!) Many museums require you to check your stroller, (Versailles for one). I may have had Madonna arms before we left, but they were sure Arnold Schwarzenegger arms upon our return, especially since he is in an "only mommy can carry me" phase.
        3. Prepare to do a lot of lifting Even if you follow tip #2, you STILL will have a lot of lifting to do. The subway system is very extensive, which is great, but it meant a lot of walking up and down stairs underground to change lines. Even outside of the metro, it seemed that we were constantly lifting his royal highness (in his royal stroller) up and down stairs.
        4. Few restaurants have high chairs And the mess this can create on your child's lap, can make the washer/dryer, mentioned in point #1, that much more valuable!
        5. Be flexible about where you are willing change your child's diaper, because you won't find many change tables around! Vacationing in a warmer month meant that I could change his diaper in parks (behind a bush, of course! I wouldn't want to commit a faux pas!). If it's just pee, you can always change them in the bathroom of a restaurant. I just had Noah stand up, and I'd whip a new diaper on him. (Actually, funny sidepoint. He started to play a game called "Pee before mommy can get the new diaper on". He found that quite hilarious. One of the 'delights' of his trip, no doubt!)
        6. The Parisians are not as tolerant about breastfeeding as Torontonians are. Just choose to find humour in the disdainful looks you receive. We were prepared for this, so we found it funny when a few elderly women were particularly aghast at the sight of me breastfeeding Noah. (Of course, it could be that Noah is such a big boy that they wondered why I was still breastfeeding a 4-year-old.)
        7. Get as many tickets (for museums, etc.) as you can online. Waiting in line is not fun. Waiting in line with a toddler - less fun.
        8. Most playgrounds aren't really toddler-friendly Noah wasn't able to climb onto most of the structures. They were for children at least over 2, I would say. Also, I never saw a normal swing the whole time I was there. There are these crazy, two-seater swings you must pay for (and operated by an attendant) that look as if the children will fall right out of them.
        9. Things your toddler probably CAN do There is a playground at Luxemburg Gardens that is extensive and has something for ALL ages. Also, Paris is full of carousels, found randomly on the streets or in parks. Parc D'Acclimation is a great place for kids. Here you can find a small zoo, a waterpark, a playground and a small amusement park with rides for young children.
        10. Don't assume your child is too young to enjoy the things you do Noah did enjoy walking around the Louvre, Versailles, and various other museums, though his favourite seemed to be Rodin's Museum.