Aug 29, 2008

Friday Find: Over in the Ocean, In a Coral Reef

Malena and Lautaro recently attended their friend Gloria’s fourth birthday party. Her birthday bash had a sea creature theme, so what better book to give as a gift than Over in the Ocean, In a Coral Reef?

Author Marianne Berkes cleverly wrote the book to the tune of the children’s favorite “Over in the Meadow.” Through the catchy song (sheet music is even provided in the back), children are introduced to animal families and counting concepts. Children learn about each sea creature’s traits and habitats. The mama pufferfish encourages her babies to puff and baby octopi squirt at the request of their mother. As you progress through the book, the number of babies increases – reinforcing counting through song and visuals. Your child will be singing the song in no time and demanding, “read it again! Read it again!”

I love using illustrated children’s book as an opportunity to expose your children to different art media and techniques. Artist Jeanette Canyon’s amazing illustrations using polymer clay are so beautiful to look at and really bring the book to life. Your child will be tempted to touch and grab the clownfish and seahorses. Jeanette’s work adds vibrant color and whimsical texture and dimension to Marianne’s wonderful lyrics. Jeanette gives readers an informative description of her work and artistic philosophy in the back of the book. After reading it, parents will reexamine the book and wonder – sliced clay rods? How did she do it??

Jeanette even suggests ways for parents and children to create their own works of art with clay. Here are a few other ways to extend the book through activities with your children. Find another illustrated book of sea creatures (if you don’t have another sea creature book, any will do fine) that uses a different art or media technique, such as pen and ink, watercolor or collage. Compare the books with your children and discuss the differences in technique and how the pictures look different or similar. Remember to keep it age appropriate, however, even the youngest reader can notice differences and describe it. Get out some of you own art supplies (paint, clay, playdough, tissue paper) and make sea creatures together. This story would also make for a wonderful flannel board adaptation. You can cut the sea creatures out of felt and ask your children to help you decorate the sea creatures and use Over in the Ocean, In a Coral Reef for inspiration. And you will definitely want to read this book before any trips to the aquarium or tidepools.


Over in the Ocean, In a Coral Reef has won numerous awards, including: Learning Magazine's Teachers' Choice Award in 2006, the National Association for Parenting Publications 2005 Gold Award and the 2005 Publisher's Marketing Association Benjamin Franklin Silver Award for Interior Design.

Children ages 2 to 8 will love hearing and reading Over in the Ocean, In a Coral Reef and parents will enjoy reading it over and over. Publisher Dawn Publications is currently offering 10% off all online orders. The book is also available in board book format for younger readers. You can also find Over in the Ocean, In a Coral Reef in the One Crafty Mama Recommends Amazon store.

Aug 8, 2008

Friday Find: The EC Store

Well, I think it is official – I no longer have children in diapers! Malena started using the potty consistently at 13 months. Lautaro has taken longer and has been using the potty consistently for the past few months (although he was first introduced to it around his first birthday). So, what a better time for me to tell you about some of the products that helped us get to this important (and happy) moment. As luck would have it, when I decided to write this Friday Find, The EC Store, decided to have a sale to celebrate their re-designed website. The EC Store is my favorite online store to buy all things related to helping your child learn to use the potty.

First Stage: We used cloth diapers from birth (but you can start anytime and achieve the same results) and practiced Elimination Communication. I didn’t learn about EC until Malena was one. We started practicing EC methods then, but it wasn’t full time. With Lautaro I started a little bit earlier, but was less consistent and even less full time. I think using cloth gave them a more acute awareness of when they were wet and thus uncomfortable. They quickly made the connection that if they are changed they are comfortable again. I think introducing EC methods showed them there was an elimination method that was not uncomfortable. I bought several Baby Bjorn little potties and placed them around the house. A quick run to a nearby potty reduces accidents. I even keep a potty in the back of my car – definitely a cleaner option than a public bathroom! I love the simplicity of the Baby Bjorn potty – no licensed media characters, no jarring music plays when you child pees into the potty. The design of the potty also seems comfy for children.

Second Stage: Once my children were using the potty more frequently, they used cloth training pants. We bought an assortment of Bright Bots, Gerber Training Pants, SIMPLYCloth, Under The Nile Training Pants and Imse Vimse Organic Training Pants – all from the EC Store. They did not use pull ups (except on rare occasions like a plane trip, long car rides, birthday parties when they used Seventh Generation). I still don’t understand the point of a pull up – aren’t they just like a diaper, unless they let your child know they are wet? Bright Bots are very trim and have an absorbent and waterproof liner – making these training pants our go to training pants for days out of the house. We used Gerber and Under The Nile training pants around the house because I could afford to buy more and they were comfy for my kids. We used the Imse Vimse Organic Training Pants at night – they were a bit bulky for my kids and they are more expensive than other training pants.

Final Stage: We started using panties/undies (or mackies as my children call them – who knows where this came from?) when Malena was fairly confident using the potty. We are still using training pants with Lautaro. Since Malena was wearing panties before she was two and she is super slim, it was difficult to find panties that fit. Fortunately, The EC Store sells a selection of tiny undies. We also introduced Baby Bjorn potty seats that adjust to fit snuggly on your toilet. Once again – no licensed media characters. The seat is contoured and was more comfortable than other potty seats that are flat-shaped. I also liked that the seat is removable, so adults don’t need to fumble with a potty seat when it is their turn to use the potty!

The EC Store Sale: Currently, almost everything in the store is marked down 10%. Use coupon code NEWSITE to get an additional 10% off any order of $50 or more. Check out the clearance section for items 40% off. The EC Store also sells Baby Legs, EC-friendly clothing, Sigg water bottles, baby carriers and nursing bras. One of the best nursing pads I ever used was from The EC Store. I am so glad to see they selling these thin, contoured and absorbent pads again.

For a little extra reading… some interesting facts about diaper and potty training historical usage in the US from Mother Jones and Diaper Jungle.

Aug 1, 2008

Friday Find: Firestorm Drill

So, it isn’t my usual type of Friday Find. But, I just had to tell you about this handy power tool that my Dad gave me for my birthday. It is a Black and Decker Firestorm cordless drill and I love it.

In 30 minutes, I was able to fix all the little projects that I have been nagging Diego to fix. Well, except for one, which involves changing a closet rod that is too cumbersome to hold and drill at the same time. I used my new lightweight power tool to drill holes in several walls to insert wall anchors before screwing hooks into place. Awhile back, in an effort at better organization, I screwed hooks into Malena’s closet to hang her collection of dress-up purses and into bathroom walls for hanging potty seats. I was lazy and didn’t insert wall anchors first because that would involve using Diego’s heavy-duty drill. Of course, a week later all the hooks had fallen out of the walls! Argh… drywall! The Firestorm cordless drill comes with rechargeable batteries. Changing the drill bits is really easy – no special tool needed like other drills!

And if like me, you’ve had a long week, be sure to check out my friend Ilina’s cocktail hour drink recipe at Dirt and Noise’s Friday 5 PM. Let’s be honest, it doesn’t need to be a long week to enjoy one of Ilina’s tasty concoctions. Just don't drink too many of these Mango Lassi's before doing your DIY projects!