Learn through Play with Alia 12-18 months old

As of last week, Alia is 26 months. So clearly this post is hhmmmm… a year late :p #sorry But here we go, a recap of what we did a year ago. 

As a start, I thought I’d share some pictures from her first birthday. My parents came to visit for 2 weeks to join the celebration. We then traveled to Illinois to visit my mom’s host family, and Alia had another birthday celebration there #luckygirl. 

Many things happened after she turned 1. She took her first steps at 13.5 months old, began self-feeding and drinking from a regular adult cup (instead of dumping the entire content on her head :p), learned names of animals and their sounds, and asked us to sing the same song (5 Little Ducks in repeat till bedtime – I’ve avoided that song ever since :p) and read the same three books despite having a million children’s books at home. 

So in between nap time and meals, the following things happened (the age refers to when Alia started doing the activities; yours may be different #followthechild): 

Practical life skills (starting at 12 months old) 

When I was done with grad school and teaching, I had more time to read up on parenting methods. That’s when I discovered Montessori and decided to incorporate the philosophy and method in our household. One of the elements in the Montessori curriculum is practical life (more of it, click here and here) such as setting the table for meals, pouring own’s drink, and putting on your own clothes. All is done to instill independence in a child.

Click on the images to see the details: Image 1: getting her own outfit (I added a curtain rod to an old bookcase to make her dresser), 2: washing hands and brushing her teeth using a stool, 3: transferring items using a spoon, 4: wiping any spills, 5: another transfer activity using water beads on a lightbox, 6-7: putting on a jacket using the famous flip coat method.

Arts and Crafts (starting at 10 months old)  Continue reading

Traveling halfway around the world with a toddler

It’s been a week since we landed in the States, and I can say that we’ve recovered from jet lag. No more mommy daycare at 3 am and no more serving meals at 5 am. :p In late June, my family went back to Indonesia. Many people asked how our flight was considering that it was Alia’s first long-haul flight – we’re talking about a 20-something hour flight! So I thought that I’d share some tips on how to survive (and enjoy) a plane ride with a toddler. img-20160912-wa0000

<– Alia and I before we left Jakarta 😀

The three of us flew together to Jakarta, but it was a mother-daughter trip back to the States because Alia’s dad came back early. Being the only adult taking care of a young child is very different than having a partner to help you. But whether you fly with your entire family or just with your baby/toddler, packing lightly and efficiently is key! Okay, I know… Most of us feel that we need to bring the entire house with us heheheh, but I learned that to survive a long-haul flight and all the walking at the airport, you have to pack efficiently. 

What to pack when you travel with a toddler? 

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Traveling solo with a toddler – challenge accepted!

I wrote awhile ago that when you travel with a baby/toddler, you can no longer travel with them with only a backpack. I mean think about the number of their “favorite” toys that you have to bring on the trip… But I did it last week – well, I brought a backpack, a small tote bag, and a stroller with me. Not bad, huh? :p

Day One 

So last week, Alia and I took our first overnight trip together to Bandung. We took the morning train from Jakarta. I brought along our usual survival kit – stickers, a set of coloring kit, a notebook, and a ton of snacks.

Once we got to the station, we got picked up by Pak Tono. He’s the driver that we hired through a car rental company. He was our driver during our previous trip to Bandung with Alia’s dad, and he was great! Very knowledgeable and helpful. So this time I specifically requested him again (ask for Pak Tono if you need to rent a car and a driver in Bandung). We’re off to Lembang then.

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Bye bye, diapers! – Potty training 101

If you’re wondering what we’ve been up to this past month, well now you know… The whole month of May was all about potty training… Since then, our life has revolved around whether Alia pees or not – “Has she peed yet?” “Make sure she gets a good pee before we go” “Oh no, not another accident!” :p 

I thought that I’d share our experience of toilet training… 

If you subscribe to one of those parenting emails or read parenting books, one of the discussed topics of toddlerhood is toilet training. They usually give you a list of signs of readiness for toilet training such as this or this – can walk steadily, remains dry for a few hours, knows words for urine and stool, etc. I started reading such a list when she turned 16 months old and trying to check things off. I also began to read the “how to do toilet training” online. Honestly, the whole thing seemed confusing and overwhelming. 

Some parents in a parenting forum that I follow suggested the book “Oh Crap! Potty Training: Everything Modern Parents Need to Know to Do It Once and Do It Right” by Jamie Glowacki. Oh crapThis book has officially become our guide and kept us sane all throughout the process. Jamie (she has become my friend, so we’re on a first name basis now hahah) believes that the ideal age to start is between 20 – 30 months old (although she talks about the how to if you decide to do it earlier or later). She breaks down the process into 6 blocks (I’ll share our experience with some of the blocks later) and the possible drama in each block. She doesn’t believe in using rewards like stickers, toys, or candy during potty training – just a simple “yeah, you peed in the potty” dance or cheer. She also has a whole chapter on POOP. Yes, that smelly poop! Apparently, this is a big thing for kids when they’re in the process of toilet training. She also has a chapter on what to do if your child is in daycare. And another thing I like is that Jamie also teaches parents the kind of language to use with your child during the process (how to prompt, how to reprimand, how to motivate, etc.). I can’t say enough about how helpful this book has been to us! I’m going to start giving this book at a baby shower heheheh… 

So back to our experience… These are our toilet training tools:

Potty 101

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Your child turns 1! What to get? Toys for 12-18 months old

One of the things that I do when Alia takes a nap is online shopping. Hehehhe, I know, such a productive way of spending my precious me time, right? :p Anyway, yesterday I came across this under the kids category on Zulily.com – Fun for Year Two: 12 to 18 Months

Screenshot (14)Alia is closer to becoming 2 years old, but I was curious what they’re selling. Honestly, despite the discounted price, I wouldn’t buy most of the toys there because I think many of them are overstimulating, short-lived, and serve little benefit for a child. 

So I thought that I’d give my share of opinions of things to get for children at the age of 12-18 months old. I get most of Alia’s toys either at thrift stores, consignment sales, or online (Amazon and Zuliy) when they’re on sale. And I look for these things when getting toys for young toddlers:
– purposeful: the toys that could be to enhance gross or fine motor skills, color and shape recognition, etc.
– open-ended: there are many ways of playing with the toys, using their imagination and creativity — I call these toys “passive toys” since it requires and makes an active child for the toys to come alive
– have good shelf life: the child can grow with the toys
– wooden toys (if possible): they’re more durable, have textures that feel good on a child’s hands, and since they’re naturally made things, they can be recycled. 

Here are the toys that we love and recommend because the fit some or all of the criteria above. Alia still plays with many of them, so they’re still in our toy rotation! YEAH! 😀

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No more Cling On: Independent Play in a YES space

Note from yours truly: It’s a special post coz you get to watch clips of Alia play! 🙂 

Do you also have (or had) a Cling On at home? Wait, what’s a Cling On? It’s a term my husband and I came up with to describe Alia when she’s super duper clingy! We went through a phase where she wanted to do nothing but attached herself onto me, literally! I couldn’t leave her side without her crying. Forget about leaving the room to cook or go to the bathroom, she’d cry if we’re a few feet apart. And there were days when she’d play with her toys WHILE holding onto my shirt. I’m not kidding… On Cling On days, I was very exhausted by 11 a.m.! Forget about naptime, I was definitely ready for bedtime hehehe! 

This happened quite often when Alia was around 11-13 months old. I asked around (aka Google “Why is my child very clingy?”), and people said that it’s a phase. Honestly, for awhile I thought that this Cling On thing would never ended… 

Not only it was physically and emotionally draining, but this Cling On phase got me worried that she wouldn’t develop the ability to play independently. Independent play means that a child is able to  explore the objects and space in his environment without an adult assistance. In other words, the ability to entertain him/herself. Let’s be honest, we all need some downtime during the day, and it’s almost impossible to have one when you have a clingy child who decides to strap him/herself onto you all day. Sigh… 

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Learn through Play with Baby Alia 9-12 months old

Another super late post by yours truly :p I just finished going through our online photo albums to look for pictures to use in this post, and wow… We sure were busy during this time of the year (thus a very long post)! A lot of outdoor activities and “jalan-jalan” aka sightseeing to new places, plenty of (very messy) sensory play, the beginning of self feeding, more #diytoys! 

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Baby-led weaning (by accident): Why by accident? Well, we didn’t start off with baby-led weaning (BLW) when Alia started solids at 6 months old. But for whatever reason, around 10 months old, she refused to eat puree and took more interest in self-feeding. I did my reading homework, online and using this book, and we said goodbye to all the purees. For those of you doing BLW, you’re familiar with the process – super messy hahah! At the beginning, she mainly used her hands (she still does now) and slowly we introduced utensils. When we went out, we brought disposable placemat like these ones, a bib, and her utensils (we use the ones from OXO till now).  

She only became an enthusiastic eater recently (since we stopped nursing) – YEAH!!! Before that? Continue reading