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Written by Mama Monday

Blog posts written by mamas on cloth diapering, green living, natural parenting.


I’ve mentioned before that I’m a fan of books (by day, I’m a school librarian), so with today being Presidents’ Day I thought I’d share some of my favorite presidential books for kids. And since there are many awesome books at varying levels and there are parents in this forum with kids in several age brackets, I’m organizing them by age.


Preschool

This Little President by Joan Holub
Highlighting a handful of significant presidents in a super simple, board book format, this is the quintessential starter “primer” for kids to learn about presidential history. With a more complete list in the index, you can choose how much (or how little) information you read with your child. Let’s just say we’ve started our 1-year-old out recently with this title; we grab one fact from each page (even though the pages are extremely concise and simple as they are), so this one’s for literally ANY age.


Presidents’ Day by Anne Rockwell
We fell for Rockwell’s books when we purchased their “Apples and Pumpkins” book a few years ago for autumn, but this title gives story-like information about some of America’s greatest presidents using a class play synopsis. Cute pictures and a great starter book to read to young ones.   

Celebrating Presidents’ Day by Kimberly Jordano and Trisha Callella-Jones
Simple explanation of what the holiday is, why we celebrate it, and what a president does. Perfect introduction and great for the younger ages.

 

Elementary

So You Want to Be President? by Judith St. George
This is one of my favorite books to teach kids in school about many of our presidents in a fun, humorous way.  Although it also brings up honest facts like that we’ve had some dishonest presidents, children usually pick up on the funny anecdotes that make the commander-in-chief more real and relatable, like which liked to skinny-dip and the foods that some loved (and hated).

Brad Meltzer’s “I Am” Series
Written in cartoon/comic format using first person POV, these books about many famous people (not just presidents) show children how anyone can make a difference. Presidential versions currently cover Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, but keep an eye out – Meltzer seems to be adding new titles regularly.

Duck for President by Doreen Cronin
This title could veer into the preschool age range, too, but I find some of the vocabulary a little over-their-heads. Follow Duck (of “Click, Clack, Moo” fame, among others) as he grows weary of his chores on the farm and decides to try to run things instead – first as farmer (which he finds too hard), next as governor (which he finds too hard), and finally as president (get where we’re going with this one?). A cute one the kids will love.  

 


Will you be talking to your kids about Presidents’ Day? Or doing anything fun (if you have the day off)?

Many of these books are available at your local library – and many public libraries are actually open today! (Some even have MORE activities because folks have time off.) Even if you don’t grab one of these books until later this week, I hope you and your family enjoy them!


One of the not-so-guilty pleasures that come with using cloth diapers is the fun expression that we can display with them. Y’know. On our kids’ bums. Ahem.

 

It’s true, though, isn’t it? When you see a new print and think, “OMG that goes perfectly with my LO’s nursery theme! Are they reading my MIND?!”

 

Or, “they finally came out with the perfect shade of blue that goes with 90% of my baby’s wardrobe.” Then you shout it from the rooftops – and by rooftops I mean social media.


So, why not use Valentine’s Day as the perfect excuse to show your love of your little one – and cloth?

Here’s a little Thirsties inspiration to help you do just that:

Thirsties Love Notes

Love Notes is Thirsties’ latest limited edition print that shows a sweet graphic version of a valentine. Its colors also lend well to either gender (not that we believe that colors align with any particular gender). It’s a win-win, really.

 

thirsties holiday collection


Scarlet is another great style that baby can sport all year, but that looks particularly great on Valentine’s Day. It also does double-duty at Christmastime.

Iris offers a more subdued way to match baby’s Valentine’s Day outfit – by offering a gorgeous purple. This diaper has tons of versatility, but I just can’t get over the perfect shade of purple it is. *swoon*

 

Thirsties Cloth Diapers

Straight to My Heart is another limited release that, if you’re lucky enough to have gotten your hands on it, is absolute Valentine’s Day perfection. Arrows? A rich red? Hearts? What more do you need?

 

Poppy is the perfect color pink for the sweetheart in your life. It’s not too bubble gum, not too salmon, not too deep – like the Goldilocks of pink diapers.

Last but not least is a personal (sadly retired) favorite, Scottish Rose. It’s Thirsties “old school” and is a mix of traditional with a fun, bright twist. Plus, I’m part Scottish, so of course I’m partial. 😉

Am I the only one who loves coordinating with traditional holiday colors?! And if you have any of these retired prints, I’m full-blown jealous. 😉 P.S. I’ve heard you can scour B/S/T pages and trusted Thirsties vendors for these old gems – but feel free to share where you find them!

This will be the first year ever that we’ll be sending valentines to school with our preschooler to hand out. For snack time, we’re usually “those parents” that send in organic raisins or applesauce cups (our son recently begged us to send in pretzels…my goodness, what have we DONE to the poor kid, LOL). So, I’m doing my best to get his input to see what he’d actually LIKE to give. If he settles on some store-bought Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle version, that’s fine.

However, I’ll be showing him these ideas to see if he’s interested in getting hands-on in making some for his friends, instead. Maybe your little one will want to do the same!

DIY “You’re a Star” Stamp Valentines by It’s Always Autumn

These are great ones for your kids to help with because they’re simple, it utilizes fun stamping (which, shhhhh, helps with fine motor skills!), and they’re downright adorable. Starburst candy optional!

DIY “Have a Ball” Valentines by Dandee

 An adorable, sweet way to wish a friend “Happy Valentine’s Day!” without candy? Supplement a toy! And a classic rubber ball at that? What’s not to love?

You’re Grrrrreat Pirate Valentines by Mer Mag

O. M. G. SO CUTE! Kids can help place the heart eye patch or glue/tape the candy to the back (you’ll want to do the stitching part yourself).

Have a Colorful Valentine by Relocated Living

Here’s one that ALL the kids can “make” on their own! Another great non-candy alternative, it gives kids their own crayons and asks them to color their OWN valentine. Love it!

Superhero Lollipop Valentines by Naturally Educated

I would probably cut out a variety of colors of cardstock to use as capes and masks and not worry about the particular superheroes, but this site has a good idea for the little superhero in your life.

Love Bug Valentines by Dandee

What kid doesn’t think bugs are cool? I LOVE that the valentine is in the shape of a jar and that kids are left with their own cool bug toy that will last long after Valentine’s Day.

Three Cute DIY Valentines by Rae Ann Kelly

This link actually provides PDFs for THREE adorable valentine ideas. I love the googly-eyed glasses, but the heart fingerprints and “smartie” cards are great ideas, too.

 I can already guess which one my son will pick. (Hint: He’s a superhero guy, although the star prints may be a close second.) These are all simple enough for little hands to help with and will allow kids to feel invested in the valentine-giving activity.

Hope these help to make your Valentine’s Day a happy one this year!

What will you hand out this year? Store-bought or homemade? Candy, quirky, or favorite character-based? 

By far, one of our family’s favorite times is bath time. Our kids are just over 1 year and 4 years old, respectively, and are still at that “90% of the time we’re best friends” phase, so even if we wanted to keep them apart during bath time, it’d be impossible. Our daughter will literally try to climb into the tub with her clothes on; that girl is tenacious. So, splash time it is!

But, I recently realized that we’ve turned one of the funnest activities for our kids into a learning time, as well. Aside from just getting the kiddos clean, their toys and games have become learning tools. Here are our favorites…

Foam Letters and Numbers – The easiest (and least messy) way to get your kiddos learning during bath time is to get a set (or two) of foam letters and numbers. They help kids unknowingly work on letter and number recognition, spelling, early phonemic awareness, and even simple mathematics. I can’t count how many times our son will put something on the wall and start sounding out a nonsensical word or ask how to spell something. I’ll often put up a simple blending word like “at” and ask him to create other words by adding a letter.

Oh, and while our daughter enjoys chewing on these, she also gets a thrill out of watching her brother manipulate

Bath Crayons – Okay, these are admittedly far messier than the foam alternative (tip: Wash them off the wall immediately or else you’ll have TONS of scrubbing to do later) but they are by far the most creative option for your budding Picasso or Hemingway. Our son was still pretty apprehensive about drawing (which is weird since he’s a creative, verbal little guy) but when we let him use the bath crayons, we end up with huge murals all over the wall. He gets to write his name as BIG as he wants it. He practices other letters. It’s the most passionate we see him about his alphabet and words, so while it’s too messy to do EVERY bath time, it’s a fun treat for those nights that we’re swimming in extra time…pun totally intended.

Color-Change Toys – We have one toy that changes color when it’s in a different water temperature. So, it goes from a “dirty” brown truck when it’s dry (or doused with cold water in the sink) to a “clean” pretty blue when it’s warm. Even when I’m looking for some spare time to cook dinner or do laundry, I’ll often have our son head to a sink with his stool to play with it. It’ll keep him busy for a surprising amount of time.

This is actually reaching several parts of his brain (and his sister’s when it’s used in the bath – they’re both enthralled). It’s teaching cause and effect as well as scientific processes. Plus, it’s admittedly pretty cool.

Cups for Days – Cups are the best. We’ve got some stacking ones that helped our son learn patterns as well as cause and effect (they have small holes in the bottom so the water drains out slowly). We also have some old measuring cups, a cup with a spout, and several sizes of cups/bowls that they can use to fill and dump to their heart’s desire. Oh, and they’re also the easiest way we’ve found to rinse off the kids’ hair. #themoreyouknow

Bath Books – Our daughter will use these as much as a chew toy as anything else, but she’ll occasionally point aggressively at a squishy page and utter a noise of recognition – “oooOOOOooo!!!” or a growl (which is sometimes pretty accurate if it’s an animal) – to which we’ll tell her what she’s pointing at. As with most books at her age, we’ll read a word or two off the page or use it to ask her a question. All very unstructured, but the learning is still happening.

A Variety of Toys – As I mentioned, I kind of accidentally realized that we had provided our kids with educational toys; it wasn’t really intentional. While we want our kids to learn and develop with a growing knowledge base in mind, our ultimate goal is a “learn through play” philosophy. (I’m an educator, so I know there’s more than enough time for tests and pressure later on.) If our kids aren’t having fun working on their letters, they’re more than welcome to switch to spraying each other with squeeze toys. However, by providing a variety of types of toys (ones that sift, ones that pour and contain, ones that squirt, ones that stick on the wall, ones they can manipulate), they’re able to choose what concept they’re learning about, and you don’t have to actually “teach” them about it – it’s all hands-on, self-directed, and constructive.

So, you don’t have to actually spend a ton or get a million toys. An old kitchen measuring cup, washcloth, and squirt toy are fine. If you want more, that’s fine, too. (We love the Green Toys submarine, in particular; not an ad, we just love it that much.) You don’t have to buy a kazillion toys (and pick up the same amount later, ugh) for your kids to have a fun – and, as it happens, educational – bath time experience.

And, as always, never underestimate the coolness factor of water slowly spiraling down the drain. So cool!

How do your kids spend bath time? What’s their favorite bath toy?

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The world of cloth diapering can be a lonely one. Even if your parents used cloth (as did mine), the game has changed SO much that much of what was done has completely changed. Sure, a few people still use pins with prefolds, but rubber pants are almost non-existent these days in favor of comfy, adorable covers, wraps, and pockets. When I asked my mother about her cloth experience, we realized how utterly different things had become – which means more choices, better technology, and greater options for your own baby’s needs today.

Luckily, there are communities like our Thirsties Official Facebook Page and Thirsties Groupies Official Fan Chat that allow us to share our love of cloth diapers, as well as our questions and concerns.

But, sometimes posting so publicly can be intimidating, especially for folks who are new to cloth. Sometimes you just need a concise but thorough spot that provides the answers you’re looking for, right?

That’s why I thought I’d bring your attention to one of my favorite areas of the Thirsties site. I find myself heading back to Thirsties’ Cloth Diapering 101 all the time when I’m wondering about trying a different style (we mostly use AIOs but when our daughter started going through changes in her diet and sleep habits, I thought about switching things up) or am simply wondering about the best way to wash the dipes. Oh, and I always share the link with any friends who may be expecting or who have shown interest but have no idea where to start in their cloth diapering journey.

Thirsties Natural NB AIO Newsletter

Whether you’d like to educate an expecting mother who’s asked your advice or to let a critic know your reasons for cloth diapering, the first “Why Choose Cloth” section is a link that I always keep nearby. This does a great job of providing amazing information without over-explaining (which we tend to do when we get excited when we find another cloth diapering parent, right?).

The sections about Cloth Diaper Terms, Types of Cloth Diapers, and Cloth Diaper Accessories give a more thorough definitions and synopses of all things cloth, as well. I particularly love the pros and cons list for the diaper types to help new cloth diapering parents decide what their needs really are. And the FAQ page is chock full of tips, from how many diapers you’ll need to how to keep baby dry through the night to, yes, even how to change a diaper.

Laundering Tips is probably one of the most popular links on the site. By far, the most questions I’ve seen on the internet with regards to cloth diapering have been about cleaning them, and this page gives a no-nonsense rundown of a good wash routine. I still refer back to it from time to time (like when I recently moved and had to figure out how to wash them in a different type of water).
So, what was your biggest cloth diapering question ever? Where did you get your answer?

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