Category: Entertainment

Top 5 Books to Read to Toddler

When Max was a baby, I wrote about my top 5 favorite books to read to him. Now that he is a 2-year old toddler, the books I enjoy reading to him have evolved a lot.

Several reasons: 1) Max’s attention span has grown to be greater than that of a goldfish; 2) He is *gasp* actually willing to cuddle up with me while I read to him these days; and 3) He now has, arguably, enough self-control (on the good days) to not rip all the damn pages. (Although we still patch up our fair share.)

All of that means we are no longer confined to board books and can read books with proper stories from start to finish. Yay!

My main criteria for books that I enjoy reading to Max is that have to enjoy reading it. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve re-re-re-read a story because my toddler kept screaming “MORE!” Let’s just say you better be damn sure you like that book.

Without further ado, my top five favorite books these days are (spoilers ahead):

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Best Jigsaw Puzzles for Toddler: Mudpuppy vs. Djeco

In my life before kids, I was an avid gamer. I love(d) computer games, card games, board games, all games.

As a Freshman in college, I broke up with my boyfriend when he gave me an ultimatum – him or Counterstrike (a popular PC game back in the day) – I chose Counterstrike. (In fairness, it was the ultimatum itself that I found to be unacceptable more than anything else but it makes for a good story.) However, just a few years later, I (in)famously told my parents while we were out dining at a nice steakhouse that I wanted to drop out of college and become a professional poker player. Yes, yes I did. And, no, thankfully, I did not pursue those foolish dreams. I also know, with certainty, that the only reason I made it through law school is because Mr. C banned me from playing World of Warcraft (another popular PC game).

Suffice it to say, I really was a gamer and will always be one at heart.

As such, I would love nothing more than to instill and share my passion for games with my children. I already envision daily – potentially forced – game nights playing card and board games. After all, I have a captive audience now – HA!

Max just turned two and I recently introduced him to jigsaw puzzles because I’m sure that a love of doing jigsaw puzzles is the gateway to… more games! The good news for other parents is that jigsaw puzzles also enhance a whole host of skills for toddlers which include: spatial, cognitive, fine motor, gross motor, attention, concentration, matching, sorting, logic, etc., etc., etc. It’s really great for their overall development. But I just like it because, you know, puzzles!

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KidKraft Uptown Espresso Kitchen Review: First Impressions

KidKraft Uptown Espresso Kitchen review

The long-awaited review of Max’s Christmas present is here! Ok, who am I kidding, I’m sure no one is waiting for this review… but, nonetheless, here it is.

This is a first impressions review of the KidKraft Uptown Espresso Kitchen since we have only had the play kitchen for a few days so far.

The box was shipped directly to my parents’ house and when it came time to transport it back to our place, I must say, that thing is HEAVY. Like, pop-a-hernia-if-you’re-not-careful heavy. On the box, there is literally a pictogram indicating that it should be lifted by two people. However, with the help of a handcart (certainly not me), Mr. C was able lug the package into our apartment.

We laid out all of the pieces on a blanket and started at 9:00PM. First of all, the only tool that isn’t provided is a screwdriver. Which is great! KidKraft includes both the wrench and allen wrench. The pieces are numbered and the nails and bolts are lettered. The instructions consist of a series of diagrams with the corresponding numbered piece(s) and lettered nail(s). It is important to note that there is zero text in the instructions.

KidKraft Uptown Espresso Kitchen pieces

All in all, it took Mr. C and I three exhausting non-stop hours to assemble the beastly kitchen. (Which, when assembled, actually looked less beastly than I anticipated.) We were also working like a well-oiled machine. I could easily see this taking one person up to four or more hours to complete.

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Play Kitchen Food and Accessories Basics Wishlist

Play Kitchen Food and Accessories Wishlist

I previously mentioned that my parents are buying Max a play kitchen for Christmas. Since then, I have been checking out play food sets and kitchen accessories to fill Max’s play kitchen with. My main requirements are high-quality, durable (no cardboard – Max is still too young to not suck on his toys) and non-toxic toys. I had already started collecting a few items in anticipation of Max’s future kitchen. I plan, hopefully, to buy the remaining kitchen accessories over time (and then some as this list is only what I consider to be a good starter set).

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Holiday Gift Idea: KidKraft Uptown Espresso Kitchen

KidKraft Uptown Expresso Kitchen

I am a strong believer in the benefits of imaginative play. I can think of only three toys that Max has that make electronic noises – all of which were gifts. (Don’t get me wrong, Max enjoys playing with those toys but, as with all things flashy but lacking in substance, interest quickly wanes.) Of course, he is not yet at the age where he can truly grasp pretend play. Nevertheless, I want to foster an early love for playing with things that don’t have a lot of flashing lights and accompanying music.

Play kitchens seem to be all the rage right now and I already know of several mommy friends who have purchased a KidKraft play kitchen for their children. Although I have been eyeing the KidKraft Uptown Espresso Kitchen for quite some time, I was hesitant to make the plunge because: 1) I had no specific reason to buy this for Max and 2) I was worried that he would be a little too young/small for this kitchen.

Cue: Grandparents. My mom asked me what she could get Max for Christmas and I immediately thought of the KidKraft Uptown Espresso Kitchen. This play kitchen makes a really great Christmas gift so I couldn’t pass on the opportunity. (For the record, I never received anything quite this grand for Christmas as a child. My parents once brought home toothbrushes and toothpaste for my brothers for Christmas. P.S. My dad is a dentist.)

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