Start training your toddler for Easter 2015

How to get ready for an Easter Egg hunt with toddlers
How to prep a toddler for EasterHis first Easter, four-month old Julian slept through the whole thing, but once he got his first taste of modern American celebrations of this holiday the following year as a determined toddler, he never looked back. Since he is not actually Christian, his experience of Easter was limited to the hunting of plastic and hard-boiled eggs. And hunt he did.

The egg hunting was so much fun, I realized we should be doing this in the backyard whenever boredom strikes. The more the merrier, so this might be something to suggest when your relatives are visiting. A little fresh air is good for everyone.

So the activity of the day is to conduct an age-appropriate treasure hunt for pre-verbal toddlers.

Materials needed:

  • three or four of the same object, such as golf balls, tennis balls, or plastic eggs. (We use lemons from our backyard tree).
  • small gift bag

How to do it:

  1. Place objects in a grassy area in plain view.
  2. Hold a small gift bag on behalf of your little scavenger.
  3. Announce the hunt: “Let’s go find some golf balls!”
  4. Model the desired behavior: “I found a ball – now I’ll put it in the bag!”
  5. Help child “find” another object and place it in the bag.
  6. When child is not watching, take “found” object and toss it from the bag back onto the grass for more finding fun.
  7. Practice this exercise periodically so that when Easter rolls around next year, your toddler will be kicking butt and taking names.

Related: Plastic Easter eggs can be played with before and after Easter

Activity #418: Document Examples of Bad Parenting

Document Examples of Bad Parenting #rookiemomsYears ago, a reader named Lynnette gave us the idea to start a collection of photos using baby as a prop to demonstrate all the What Not To Dos. I took mental photographs for this collection whenever I found my second child is asleep in her Pack and Play, swaddled tightly, but surrounded by loose extra blankets, burp cloths and a stuffed animal or two. We never would have allowed such lax safety measures with our first baby.

Lynette explains:

One of the keys of surviving as a rookie mom is to have a sense of humor about the whole motherhood experience. My husband and I often relax after dinner with a glass of wine, and find that our daughter is mesmerized by wine glasses. My husband, a wanna-be wino, likes to swirl the wine above her head, talking to her about the color, and then offer her the glass to smell the “nose” of the wine. She has recently started reaching for the wine glass with glee, and we just had to document it because it looks so darn funny. (Don’t worry, she hasn’t had a taste of wine yet!)

If you have any photos that fit this category, add #rookiemoms to the tags when you share so we can all enjoy your bad parenting.

Jillian of HelloSplendid shared this photo of her baby son browsing the Victoria’s Secret catalog.

Related: Dangerous photo inspiration from Chelsea and Nate

Clever ways to make roads for toy cars on your floor

When my son was little, we used painters tape to make roads on the floor of our playroom. You can draw lines down the center with Sharpie and use your imagination.

Apparently enough parents have done this, that some clever toy industry folks decided to turn the DIY approach into a product.

Playtape, which will run you about $12/roll on Amazon is a great little gift for a preschooler. It comes in a few varieties.

Playtape for toy cars

Roll of tape you can buy for car play
available on Amazon

There are train tracks, which seems handy for travel if you want to just bring 3-4 trains and this roll of tape for your train addict, but I’m not sure any hardcore track lover would be satisfied with this substitute. What do you think?

Railroad Tape
find railroad tape on Amazon

See also, Civil Engineer tape.

Best toy that’s already in your house: Washcloths

Things to do with toddlers indoors

My kids have logged many sessions arranging and rearranging washcloths and hand-towels. We have parked cars on washcloths, laid dolls down on them, lined them up, made them into a circle time and more.

We had a pack of white ones from Target that were the favorites for a long time, but the way they showed the dirt when we actually used them to wipe dirty faces started to gross me out.

Washcloths and other toys that are already in your house

Regular adult washcloths, like these 12 x 12 guys, are the most satisfying.

I bought these bright rainbow ones on Amazon, which are fun for a preschooler who has opinions about colors, but a little hard to make them lay flat. I suppose it’s because they are the type that are designed for infants, lightweight and smaller in size.

Playing with washcloths is a surefire way to reveal anyone’s inner OCD. But smoothing them out and making the corners perfect is half the fun, if you’re two. Or half the frustration if your motor skills are not finely honed.

A fresh pack of 24 white washcloths just might be your new best friend. Present them to your toddler as a neatly folded stack, because you know that is what makes it most appealing to unpack and spread out all over the living room.

Links rookie moms should know about (February 2015)

Our friend Lindsay at Suburban Turmoil is always hilarious. If you are overwhelmed by the world’s public obsessions with Paleo, Crossfit, Green Smoothies, HIIT, and other cult-like dedication to healthy habits, her parody is funny. is so much fun! Enter your birthday and get a playlist of the top songs from when you were in second grade, high school, and other milestones. Excellent nostalgia.

If you have kids old enough to read and use YouTube, you may know how offensive the comments can be. Here’s how to hide them. Thanks, Cool Mom Tech.

I wrote a little primer on baby classes for Lifetime Moms. (Hint: It’s about meeting the other moms.)

Design Mom has four girls sharing a room. I loved this tour of how the room is set up and styled.

My friend Lynn’s sister Jill Santopietro is a chef, food editor, and mother, so her post about making baby food is full of great tips.

More on that topic…You Have to F**king Eat is the follow up to cult smash “children’s” book Go the F**k To Sleep. This author gets me.

You have to f-ing eat, kid!

Peanut Butter and Jelly vs Jelly and Peanut Butter

I’m bursting with pride for my friend Deborah Kelson, who has just published an adorable children’s book that I cannot recommend more whole-heartedly for kids who are old enough to a) eat peanut butter and jelly and b) not put books in their mouths.

After working full-time and parenting two young children for a handful of years, Deb recently decided to give herself a break. She had a couple of creative projects brewing in her mind, and left her job working for a big corporation in search of a re-energizing experience.

She spent a few months working on the book and getting it ready for publication. When the book was done, she got a new full-time job. I am not sure I’ve ever witnessed such neat and clean story about work/life balance.

Allow me to introduce Peanut Butter or Jelly by Deborah Kelson

Peanut Butter OR Jelly?

The characters Deb created, Peanut Butter, a salty type, and Jelly, a sweet but sassy friend, come to life in the photographs she styled using real bread, the two spreads obviously, and a variety of clever props as backgrounds.


The story invites us to rethink the fairness of Peanut Butter always taking top billing in America’s favorite sandwich, and suggests that maybe Jelly should have a turn.

My grade-school aged children were completely engaged by this proposal. They debated it with intensity.

The website allows kids to vote — whose name should go first? — and mine were way into it.

Watch this adorable trailer and consider buying Peanut Butter or Jelly on for your favorite sandwich lover.


Give longer life to your cutest kids shirts

How to make an iron-on from fabric you already have.

When I saw Mike Adamick, local dad and writer, on an afternoon talk show talking about decorating cute shirts for his daughter, I thought it was unlikely I’d learn something new. I mean, I’ve already written about decorating onesies in just about every way I can think of. But behold, Mike taught me yet another technique.

He uses fusible webbing to adhere the fabric of his choice, say a giraffe-shaped piece of floral print, to the shirt he is embellishing.

mike adamick tshirt
Before you panic and think that as a not-so-crafty person you are totally unqualified to purchase something called “fusible webbing”, let me assure you that it’s not such a big deal. Purchase it by the yard at a fabric store, or in a package from Amazon, and it comes with instructions. (Ten bucks for five yards worth on Amazon.) The magic is that you iron it to one piece of fabric, peel off the paper, and then iron it to the other side. Now the two fabrics are adhered. (Keep scrolling for pictures.)

I had cut this guitar from a hipster kid t-shirt that Julian outgrew and tossed it into my “to do something with someday” pile, throwing the rest of the shirt into the rag bag.

Next, I took scissors to the aforementioned fusible webbing cut. To produce a piece exactly the size of the guitar-shaped piece of t-shirt I wanted to use, I placed the fabric on the webbing in order to cut.

Then, I ironed the guitar to the fusible webbing, and let it cool. I had decided that this red long-sleeved polo, bought by my MIL as a Christmas shirt, would be the recipient of our applique.

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Are these dad stereotypes true, fair, or productive?

My husband does most of the laundry in our house, makes breakfast and lunch for the children, and works at a full-time job without a flexible schedule. When he is done with lunch packing, he cleans up the supplies and places the breakfast dishes in the dishwasher.

That’s why I’m totally flummoxed when I read an article like the one recently on Scary Mommy titled 15 Things Only Mom Can Do, which sarcastically concludes that throwing away empty food wrappers and putting dishes in the dishwasher must be special mom skills because dads simply leave their dirty crap and garbage on the counter.

That is not my experience.

I have shared space in a house and household duties with five fathers over the years: my own father, two stepfathers (not at the same time), my father-in-law, and my husband. All of these men like a clean kitchen and understand how it gets that way.  None of them assume a magic fairy will clean up after them.

Nobody’s perfect, and we’ve all made mistakes, leaving milk out on the counter, or putting away a cereal box that has seven crushed Cheerios lingering at the bottom of it, but I find it hard to believe that the vast majority of fathers these days are as unhelpful as they are made out to be in articles like that one.

Modern parents can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, wash that dish, throw away the package #dadsrule #momsrule [Read more…]

Theo and Beau: The world’s sweetest nappers

We’d guess that many of you are aware of our friend Jessica Shyba’s photographs, as they typically garner tens of thousands of little hearts on Instagram whenever she posts one.

Yin & Yang #theoandbeau

A photo posted by Jessica Shyba (@mommasgonecity) on

About two years ago, the Shyba family adopted a puppy and named him Theo. Little Theo made himself right at home with the family of five, and began napping with their youngest child, Beau. When Jessica started capturing these daily sleep scenes with her camera, dog and baby lovers around the world went nuts for them.

Photos of Theo and Beau by Jessica Shyba


During the months that followed, we could see Theo (and Beau) grow right before our eyes.

Photos of Theo and Beau by Jessica Shyba

For anyone who lives with the chaos of toddlers and dogs, the stillness and peace that Jessica photographed feels like witnessing a small miracle.

Photos of Theo and Beau by Jessica Shyba


Her touching photos have been compiled in a book, Naptime with Theo and Beau, available for order now.

Naptime with Theo & Beau by Jessica Shyba

Watch the video trailer:

To see what happened when Theo and Beau got a new baby sister (spoiler: more naps!), visit Jessica’s home on the web: Momma’s Gone City

Congrats to Jessica for documenting this sweet phase of life and for generating so much awareness for the SPCA in Santa Cruz that has benefited from her project. We know that with four children and a dog, her house cannot be silence and snuggles around the clock, so we appreciate her inviting us in for a peek at the Theo and Beau every day.

all photos in this post belong to Jessica Shyba

Activity #52: Celebrate your way

For your 52nd weekly Rookie Moms challenge, we invite you to pat yourself on the back — You have a ONE YEAR OLD! The celebration is for you.

If you are inviting others to celebrate the big ONE with you, make some plans for it. Make it easy on yourself by delegating food and decorations to anyone who volunteers to help.

Since your baby won’t understand the event, traditional birthday party activities are completely optional. We let our guests know that the birthday boy would not be opening gifts in front of them and that his second nap began promptly at 3:30 (whether or not guests were present).

My friend Christine honored this milestone by having dinner with her husband and hiring a babysitter. Heather threw a blowout camping trip for herself, I mean for Holden, and attended an adults-only swanky Oscars party in honor of Milo’s first year.

This collection of super cute first birthday party ideas gives more inspiration on planning a party to suit your style.
How to have a sane first birthday celebration

Baby too young to be planning a birthday party? Go choose another challenge!

Skip*hop launches apparel! (giveaway)

Skip Hop Layette Collection.Baby: L'nie

Ooh, I’m feeling so lucky that skip*hop said we could do a giveaway of their new layette items. Someone is going to score big time!

This stuff is so cute, it makes me want to have another… um, giveaway?

Skip*Hop Layette Giveaway

All the items coordinate, are super cute, and made of the softest cotton.

Here’s what we’ve got in this generous prize package:


  • side-snap short sleeve bodysuit ($18) – set of 3
  • side-snap long sleeve bodysuit ($18) – set of 2
  • baby pants ($16) – set of 2
  • side-snap 1 piece footie ($16)
  • gown ($16)
  • reversible bib ($10)
  • baby hat ($10) – set of 2
  • reversible welcome blanket ($24)
  • 4 piece welcome home set ($35) – Set includes Short-Sleeve Bodysuit, Footed Pants, Cardigan, and Baby Hat
  • PLUS a Duo Signature Diaper Bag ($60)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rainbow birthday party ideas

Birthday Express invited me to pick out some items as a way to introduce them to you. They sell tons of party items for $10 or less. This post contains affiliate links.


A few times per year, Heather and I have a table at a preschool fair or some other community event. Next up, Boobie-Palooza, a birth and baby festival in Berkeley, CA. We are not tradeshow experts, and these colorful balls of tissue paper made our {510} Families booth look eight zillion times better. When I discovered these technicolor poofs, I became an instant fan. (No pun intended.)

They are flat before you puff them out, and they brighten any space instantly. A three-pack is $9.99.


We decided they would be perfect for a rainbow-themed birthday party.

Rainbow-themed birthday party

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