bee’s picks: books for the first 18ish months

(originally posted on November 20, 2014)
assuming her favorite book reading position.

assuming her favorite book reading position.

the first eighteen-ish months of bee’s life were cram-pack-filled with library visits. not necessarily because i am a tiger mom forcing full language literacy by the age of two, although, maybe there was a little of that. but mostly i was going stir crazy from the minute bee began to move. during the early days we’d attend story time. then while bee plopped herself down by the board books, i’d thumb through the stacks for an hour to pre-read books before filling my tote with as many books as my arms would bear. nowadays with the two, we’re lucky to make it on time for story time (in our neighborhood you have to be at least fifteen minutes early and wait outside in the rain) and i pull books as quickly as i can to half-fill my tote before bee unleashes a full-scale-toddler-rage on the stacks.

but because i was afforded those early days, i wanted to share a few of bee’s favorites that you won’t find on the top sellers list. not all books that i’d choose for her, but she has very definitive taste. i’m sure book choices have a lot to do with gender and temperament so file these under girl who loves animals and would not sit still except for a good story on mom’s lap and/or a truly spell-binding lift-the-flap engaging book.

0+ months

  • ‘Pet Tails’ Book by Anne Wilkinson > our favorite crinkly chew toy book.
  • Global Baby Girls (Global Fund for Children) by Global Fund For Children > babies love to look at babies. we got this regularly from the library and bee used the book like a baby doll.
  • Happy Baby Animals (Soft to Touch) by Jo Douglass > we scored a collection of these from a neighbor and another from our doctor. ohsu hands out a book for every visit for the first two years to encourage reading! they might not look like much, but they are ideal first books and bee still picks them out to ‘read’ to herself. she also refuses to hand them down to her brother, so i might have to pick up a new set.
  • and even if they can’t follow a plot, it’s a great time to endear characters. this was a favorite chew toy.
  • plus i have to recommend having one book they can go to town on eating. this was ours, but I don’t think the story line matters much.

6+ months

  • Llama Llama Zippity-Zoom by Anna Dewdney >> this series was a surprise (to me) hit. this was a favorite to get from the library, but i have to warn against the llama llama red pajama book at an early age…it’s all about fretting when mom leaves..not an idea i wanted to instill. quickly returned that one.
  • Dear Zoo: A Lift-The-Flap Book by Rod Campbell >> we found this only recently, but i imagine it would be a good one to have early on. animals + flaps = win.
  • Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks From A To Z (Shape Chunky Book) by Richard Scarry >> why aren’t more books this teeny? it’s by far a favorite and a great book for car rides around that tricky stage of 6-18 months.
  • Dr. Suess’s Sleep Softly Book >> this was our every day before bed book for a solid nine month stretch. still hasn’t lost it’s magic.
  • First 100 Words (modeled below by will) by Roger Priddy >> a necessity. get a big book with real photos that you can point and name. though i am sure bee has it memorized, it gives her so much confidence to be able to ‘read’ all by herself with this book she’s enjoyed for years now.

12+

  • Who is the Beast by Keith Baker >> one of daddy’s as a child, this was one of the first ‘story’ books that captivated bee’s attention.
  • Beep, Beep, Let’s Go by Eleanor Taylor >> kind of lame, kind of awesome.
  • Busy Gorillas by John Schindel >> at this age, this was a huge hit from the library. she could not get enough of the photos of gorillas; it was a bit of an obsession. there’s one about kitties, too. everyone wins.
  • The Belly Book (I Can Read It All by Myself Beginner Books) by Joe Harris >> i remember being super surprised with how well bee took to this advanced book right around fourteen months. there’s a page where the kids get sick from eating too many treats that she just couldn’t get enough of. i was so surprised that she understood and was so happy we’ve had this and other dr. suess early reading books on our shelf at such an early age. highly recommend this one. her other favorite around this age…
  • Would You Rather Be a Bullfrog? (Big Bright & Early Board Book) by Theo Lesieg
  • ABC Zooborns! by Paul Boyle >> would love to have owned this book. the only thing babies love to look at more than other babies, is baby animals. this has no less than 26 of them.
  • Sesame Street Elmo’s Favorite Places (Lift-the-Flap) >> grandma got us this one before a train ride. occupied us for at least an hour every time we busted it out at this age. it was also the first book that bee would ‘play-read’ independently for an extended amount of time and the first book that she memorized all the words. i think this might be the most read and loved book we own.
  • Airplane Flight!: A Lift-The-Flap Adventure by Susanna Hill >> good for getting a toddler pumped about an upcoming flight. we brought this on the plane with us and read it over and over.
  • Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann >> maybe this is a best seller. it’s a classic. also recently loved 10 Minutes till Bedtime.
  • Sandra Boynton board books are pretty much impossible to avoid at this age. bee’s favorites: Blue Hat, Green Hat, Doggies, and The Going to Bed Book
and i almost forgot. bee and i are in complete agreement that this is the very best book to ready yourself for a new baby. i bought it the day i found out and we read it nearly every day for nine months.

and i almost forgot. bee and i are in complete agreement that this is the very best book to ready yourself for a new baby. i bought it the day i found out and we read it nearly every day for nine months.

i hope this inspires you to become a true star parents and put these books on hold, show up to the library, and cram them in your tote bag before your budding-toddler can say ‘boo’…or ‘no’..as they are wont to do. we had our fair share of crummy books, so i don’t want that to happen to anyone. like one about anna eating all the cookies instead of sharing (and i won’t tell you how much bee actually loved this one) and one about a baby being a burden on everyone…seriously. i also highly recommend looking at the bestseller list and paging through the library online catalog to reserve them all. we’re on a wait list, but every time we show up one or two is waiting for us. and while we’re at it here’s another good list.

and speaking of libraries, here’s a few of bee’s favorite things:

the albina library has the best storytime teacher and the best regular showing (aka, the best friends of bee)

the albina library has the best storytime teacher and the best regular showing (aka, the best friends of bee)

the northwest library has an awesome teacher as well and a great, big room for the 'class'. also the best selection of books seems to wind up here. and the best selection of toys.

the northwest library has an awesome teacher as well and a great, big room for the ‘class’. also the best selection of books seems to wind up here. and the best selection of toys.

the hollywood library has the second best selection of toys and second best story time.

the hollywood library has the second best selection of toys and second best story time.

oh and the albina library has pajama story time, too!

oh and the albina library has pajama story time, too!

the award for best seating in a book store goes to green bean books, which also has a really awesome story time. so does a children's place. dang, i live in the best neighborhood ever.

the award for best seating in a book store goes to green bean books, which also has a really awesome story time. so does a children’s place. dang, i live in the best neighborhood ever.

and don't worry, will. we'll get to your favorites soon enough...

and don’t worry, will. we’ll get to your favorites soon enough…

once you start reading them. instead of eating them.

once you start reading them. instead of eating them.

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> 20 months + > 150 words = 1 proud mama

(originally published May 12, 2014)

this is a few days late, but my big little bee is 20 months. quite a milestone we’ve made it to.

i know of moms who could blissfully rock their newborn for the rest of their lives and others who are so glad when their kids have gained some independence. but for me, i just don’t think it gets any better than these early months of toddlerhood. my ‘job’ as a stay at home mom in the last few months is closer to play now than work. so what better time to throw in another baby to the mix, eh?

but back to bee…

i did the completely overly-analytical-mom-thing and counted up her words today and if you take into consideration all her mastered spoken words (money, boo-boo, cookie), sounds (meow, beep, wee-o-wee-o), names (mama, betsy, elmo), almost the right words (bobby = broccoli, popies = popsicle, and easta = Easter), and signed words (more, hurt, friend), she tops out at nearly 150 (this was the count at exactly 20 months..she repeats almost any word we say now just a week later)! which is positively crazy to me considering the list was closer to ten words just three months ago and maybe twenty just two months ago. she can count to five and regularly points out when she sees two of something. and if it’s more than that she usually opts to just say ‘all’. as in, I want all the things.

looking at her first chosen words gives a nice glimpse into what’s most important to her: tatoo, peace, nike, candy, mine, beer. whenever she says ‘hey’, she also says ‘daddy’ for reasons unbeknownst to us and she also has one word that she says constantly that we have yet to translate: ‘cobby’. she spits that one off on repeat whenever she’s talking to george, or dolly, or her rubber duckies that have become constant companions outside of the bath, so i can only presume that it’s a filler word. and she has also adopted my filler sounds: ‘hmmm’ and ‘k’, and says them constantly to herself as she’s playing independently. it’s funny what you don’t realize about yourself until you have a little mockingbird following you around.

speaking of independent, i recall reading some different approaches to parenting. one of which calls for encouraging independence by placing your baby on a mat and timing their ability to remain engaged with their toys, then gradually increasing the amount of time each day. luckily i never did this, because encouraging independence is the last thing i want to do right now. it comes so naturally to her; not surprising given both of her parents’ personalities. cuddles are few and far between and i have to keep her very engaged in an activity for her to not become bored with me. her favorite word is still ‘go’, but she also says ‘home’ so much that i think it’s sinking in that home is also a happy place.

her favorite activities of the moment are pay-do (play dough in which she directs me what to make for hours on end), pool (tupperware tub filled with water in the backyard), see-ides (slides), ings (swings), and tea parties.

oh man, the tea party. i have been working so hard to get to this stage of development where we can play pretend (otherwise knows as mommy doesn’t have to buy any toys or art supplies and we can be entertained in doctor waiting rooms). she has no conceptual idea what tea is. has never seen a tea cup in my memory. and yet, she got it instantly and offers me tea and cookies with a striking regularity. bee hosts tea parties made out of play dough, in the bath, dressed in tutus with stuffed kitties, with kitties on a page of a book, with kitties on a magnadoodle, and even over skype with her grandparents. but mostly just a simple party with mom and bee’s little hands. just as the japanese tea ceremony focuses not on the drinking itself, but about aesthetics of the ritual and preparing a cup from your heart, bee just gravitates towards the process of pouring and serving and captivating the attention of her guests. just as her dancing and chalk drawing are forms of self-expression, this make-believe tea thing really does seem to be a performance art. and i could sit back and watch this all day. and i’m lucky. because it’s exactly what i do.

now for my proud mama moment…

kona, hi with a big baby bump and a bee

(originally posted March 10, 2014)

the last time my belly reached these proportions, we found ourselves enjoying the most luxurious of all vacations on the amalfi coast. we were certain that this was the last vacation of our lives. and in a way, it was. we now have a little bit more responsibility, a bit more weighing on our minds, and a little nugget of energy to entertain.

so lucky are we portlanders to be a direct flight away from the paradise of hawaii. it was the perfect prescription to a portland february.

there were flamingos, dolphins, and waterslides at the hilton waikoloa. it was a kiddie-paradise and the closest bee has come to disneyland. it was too much. so we headed north to...

there were flamingos, dolphins, and waterslides at the hilton waikoloa. it was a kiddie-paradise and the closest bee has come to disneyland. it was too much. so we headed north to…

mauna lani, where we found a retreat the whole family could enjoy. still had a pool and beach for bee without the chaos that you'd expect to find in the mega-resorts catering to kids.

mauna lani, where we found a retreat the whole family could enjoy. still had a pool and beach for bee without the chaos that you’d expect to find in the mega-resorts catering to kids.

bee and i had a wonderful rhythm to each day starting with a nature hike in the adjacent waipuhi and hopeaia fishponds while daddy braved the hot highway pavement clocking mileage like a true athlete.

bee and i had a wonderful rhythm to each day starting with a nature hike in the adjacent waipuhi and hopeaia fishponds while daddy braved the hot highway pavement clocking mileage like a true athlete.

we're athletes, too. we walked and we stretched.

we’re athletes, too. we walked and we stretched.

and we'd snack break to watch the fishies jump.

and we’d snack break to watch the fishies jump.

then it was serious sand time. i never got a picture of her smiling on the beach, because she was far too busy with very important tasks to be bothered with smiles.

then it was serious sand time. i never got a picture of her smiling on the beach, because she was far too busy with very important tasks to be bothered with smiles.

post-afternoon nap, we'd slather bee in sunscreen (a new favorite activity of hers) and head to the pool with hopes that bee hadn't slept through the afternoon popsicle hand-out. she made a new best-friend, stella, who taught her how to play make-believe and lose at a bunch of games.

post-afternoon nap, we’d slather bee in sunscreen (a new favorite activity of hers) and head to the pool with hopes that bee hadn’t slept through the afternoon popsicle hand-out. she made a new best-friend, stella, who taught her how to play make-believe and lose at a bunch of games.

the valets let bee feed the koi a couple times.

the valets let bee feed the koi a couple times.

dining with a toddler is so easy when this is your view. we absolutely loved the canoehouse on the mauna lani property. not cheap, but nothing seems to be when you're surrounded by resorts. storing yogurts and pb+j supplies in our room made us feel a bit less bad about the cost of dinners.

dining with a toddler is so easy when this is your view. we absolutely loved the canoehouse on the mauna lani property. not cheap, but nothing seems to be when you’re surrounded by resorts. storing yogurts and pb+j supplies in our room made us feel a bit less bad about the cost of dinners.

i was thrilled to see some healthy kids options on the canoehouse menu. not-so-much can be said for the rest of our outings. maybe she was having a growth spurt or all the play burned excessive calories, but i've never seen this girl chow down so much food in her life. we also discovered that bee loves poke from da poke shack (rated the top restaurant in america by yelp reviewers).

i was thrilled to see some healthy kids options on the canoehouse menu. not-so-much can be said for the rest of our outings. maybe she was having a growth spurt or all the play burned excessive calories, but i’ve never seen this girl chow down so much food in her life. we also discovered that bee loves poke from da poke shack (rated the top restaurant in america by yelp reviewers).

our second favorite dining spot was the lava lava beach club. probably bee's number one choice, for obvious reasons.

our second favorite dining spot was the lava lava beach club. probably bee’s number one choice, for obvious reasons.

her first hula lesson. mesmerized, but not sure how to contribute.

her first hula lesson. mesmerized, but not sure how to contribute.

the days filled with sun, sand, nature hikes, shelling, swimming, and chicken nuggets exhausted her. a nice postprandial brother cuddle.

the days filled with sun, sand, nature hikes, shelling, swimming, and chicken nuggets exhausted her. a nice postprandial brother cuddle.

new words mastered during this trip include pool, hi, and tiki(!!!)

new words mastered during this trip include pool, hi, and tiki(!!!)

lighting of the tikis was our nightly cue that bee's day was over and it was time to put her to bed in her crib in the bathroom. she loved her room and the little crib they had there. possibly even more than her own at home.

lighting of the tikis was our nightly cue that bee’s day was over and it was time to put her to bed in her crib in the bathroom. she loved her room and the little crib they had there. possibly even more than her own at home.

nightly music and hula dancing on our way to bed.

nightly music and hula dancing on our way to bed.

she's truly never been happier in her little life. and dad and i were pretty darn happy, too. looks like we're not done vacationing after all.

she’s truly never been happier in her little life. and dad and i were pretty darn happy, too. looks like we’re not done vacationing after all.

a baby girl’s first snow day (or…minutes)

December 19, 2013

the other day, portland had it’s first blast of snow. of course, the entire city shut down – schools closed, everyone huddled indoors for warmth. but not little bee. she wanted to go outside immediately to discover what this snow was that we kept reading about. here’s how it went down.

 

to my ever-loving-outdoors-girl, this powdery dusting of snow looks ever-so-inviting  

to my ever-loving-outdoors-girl, this powdery dusting of snow looks ever-so-inviting

yes, we wear boy pajamas sometimes. no shame

yes, we wear boy pajamas sometimes. no shame

DSCF0779.JPG
it was a magical first encounter

it was a magical first encounter

followed immediately by frozen fingers and tears

followed immediately by frozen fingers and tears

never has she ever been excited to come back indoors until now

never has she ever been excited to come back indoors until now

lucky for mom, bee finally appreciates an indoor day

lucky for mom, bee finally appreciates an indoor day

so i guess the moral of the story is, buy some mittens if you want to play in freezing degrees. or do as i did to tame the beast of an always-begging-to-play-outside-toddler. she hasn’t been the same since. we’ve finally been able to have days without leaving the house a single time with no breakdowns, which before the snow-incident was inconceivable.