30 Days of Good Deeds Ramadan Calendar for young Muslims

Muslims everywhere are counting down the days to the first day of Ramadan which this year falls on May 27. Unlike healthy adults, Alia and other young children are not expected to fast during Ramadan yet. But they certainly can still get into the spirit of the holy month. So besides having children’s books about Ramadan and Islamย in our home library (see a list of our favorite books here), I decided to begin a Ramadan tradition: 30 Days of Good Deeds Ramadan Calendar. This was inspired by a IG post by @imanblog – thank you!

Our DIY Ramadan Calendarย 

ramadan calendar -1

 

The Ramadan Calendar consists of 30 envelopes filled with a good deed card in each one. We plan on taking a card each day after breakfast and do the activity during the day. Continue reading

Surviving snow days with a toddler

Thursday, February 9, 2017 – Snowmageddon in the New England area!ย 

Update: Things got in the way (namely my toddler and a terrible cold) so it’s now Sunday, February 12. Believe me or not, it’s still snowing outside and more to come tomorrow! Welcome to New England!ย 

Living in the New England area means having an unpredictable winter season. It’s only the beginning of February and we have had 8 snow days with today bringing the heaviest snow so far. Before having kids, snow days means a day of sleeping in and Netflix marathon. But since we are a minimum-screen-time family, I have to be extra creative to get through a (super windy and cold) snow day. Below are some of our favorite activities on a snowy day:ย 

Painting the snow:ย 

 

The set up is super easy: grab a bin, covered it with some snow, prepare a few cups of water + food coloring (or liquid watercolor for a more vibrant result) and brushes, and let your child make her/his design on the snow. I started doing this when Alia was 18 months old and it never gets old.ย 

Sensory bin:ย 

 

I wish I had taken more pictures of our snow sensory bins. But I basically fill up a bin with snow, add animal figurines that live in a cold environment and blocks for her to play with (left picture). You could also simple add some tools such as a spoon, measuring cups, molding tools for your child to create things using snow.ย 

Make a snowman inside:

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Gifts for your toddler 18 mo and 2.5 year old

Thanksgiving Day is next week and this means Black Friday ads are out! Many of you have probably started making a list of โ€œwhat should we get for the kids?” so I thought Iโ€™d share a list of things that may be good for your toddler, who is becoming more adventurous, independent, talkative, and imaginative โ€“ itโ€™s fun to watch their world expand ๐Ÿ˜€

If youโ€™re looking for gifts for children age 12-18 months old, click here

Art supplies: 

There are so many independent activities and guided projects that you can with your toddler. Stock up on art supplies. Crayola often has some great deals on Zulily and Amazon (up to 60% off). Michaels has buy one get one off sales or use their store coupons to score some great art supplies. Here are what get used the most in our house:

  • washable kids paint, washable markers (pip squeaks markers from Crayola are small enough for toddlers to open and close the lids by themselves), colored pencils, crayons (the triangular crayons are good for toddlers to practice pencil grip), water color paint
  • smock
  • no-spill cups and brushes  as seen on the pics above (they contain the mess when you do painting)
  • construction papers
  • glue (we mainly use Elmerโ€™s glue)
  • art easel and the rolled paper (preferably an easel that is height adjustable and foldable).

Fine motor skills, sensorial work, language development:

Many of the toys used to enhance her fine motor skills, senses, and language skills were bought when she turned 1 (see this post for more details). As she gets older, we have elaborated on how we use the materials. We began focusing on names and attributes of colors, shapes, sizes, emotions, animals and their features, etc. For instance, now when Alia plays with this peg board from Haba, she makes patterns or we take turns calling out on different colored pegs to put on the board. She now uses a pair of tongs to sort the pretend fruits (sorting material from Learning Resources). And we have used stickers in a more deliberate way like matching numbers.

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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 wentย 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.ย img-20160912-wa0000

<– Alia and I before we left Jakarta ๐Ÿ˜€

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 usย 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.ย 

What to pack when you travel with a toddler?ย 

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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 Oneย 

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!” :pย 

I thought that I’d share our experience of toiletย training…ย 

If you subscribe to one of those parenting emails or read parenting books, one of the discussed topics of toddlerhood is toiletย training. They usually give you a list of signs of readiness for toilet training such as thisย or thisย – 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.ย 

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 blocksย (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…ย 

So back to our experience… These are our toilet trainingย 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, suchย 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.ย 

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 toysย (if possible): they’re more durable, have textures that feel good on a child’s hands, andย since they’re naturally made things, they can be recycled.ย 

Here are the toys that we love and recommend because the fit some or all of the criteria above.ย Alia still plays with many of them, so they’re still in our toy rotation! YEAH! ๐Ÿ˜€

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