Category Archives: Mabel

What do you wonder? Nerdy Baby artwork for the young scientist in all of us.

I love Tiffany Ard’s Nerdy Baby artwork.  Her books and flashcards feature prominently on my Amazon wish list.

I follow her on Facebook and was in awe of the artwork she posted today.

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Source: Tiffany Ard (Click on the image to see it full-size and read the text on the Nerdy Baby FB page)

What struck me most about it was the idea that there is wonder to be found everywhere, even in the seemingly mundane. And really, that wonder is science.

I’ve written before about how it’s not just make-believe that can spark the imagination.  The world around us if full of amazing things.  I love how Ms. Ard captures that with “What do you wonder?”

Turns out, lucky for us, that Zulily* is featuring several of Tiffany Ard’s prints on their sale site right now!

I picked up two of these prints- one for my daughter, and the other for her fabulous preschool teacher.

I also picked up this one for Nemo, who at 1.5 years already said, “Three, two, one, blastoff!”

And this set of “Art Prints for Young Scientists.”

If the Zulily sale is over and you would like to order prints, or if you want a signed print, check out the Nerdy Baby Site.

Have fun inspiring your young scientist!

*Note- Zulily requires membership to shop.  Some of the links to Zulily in this post are referral links.  You can click here to join, referred by me.  However, you should know that if you join, and purchase something, I will get a $15 credit.  So, if you have a friend who is a member, have that person refer you and he/she will get the $15.  You can also join without a referral, but it usually isn’t instantly.

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How young is too young for Broadway? Tips for seeing a show with your kid.

Since it’s actually Kids’ Night Out on Broadway this week (until March 2nd!) where you can get a free kids ticket when you buy an adult ticket, here’s my advice for taking your kid to a Broadway (or, really, any) show! (PS-  Click here for Kids’ Night Out events across the US.)

When I was 4 years old, my mom took me to my first Broadway show.  It was Annie.  I still have some memories of it- I can see the character of Annie on the stage in my mind’s eye.

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I loved it.  I remember getting the sound track to the movie in record form and playing it on my Fisher Price record player while dancing around my bedroom.  Even at 4yo, I could relate to It’s a Hard Knock Life.

So, when Annie came back on Broadway, my mom and I were both eager to take Mabel to see it.  She wasn’t even 3 years old (about a month shy).  It seemed a little silly to take a child so small to such an expensive show, but we didn’t want miss the chance to have her first Broadway experience be so much like mine.  So, my mom considered it a Christmas/Birthday present and we took her.

In advance of that, I picked up the DVD of the 80s movie and let Mabel watch it so she’d be familiar with the music and the plot (even though the movie deviates a bit).  I also borrowed the soundtrack of the movie from the library and ripped it so she could listen to the music (FYI- we now measure road trip distances traveled by how many times we’ve repeated the soundtrack- although Newsies! and Frozen soundtracks have also entered rotation).

She LOVED the movie and the music- particularly all the little kids singing and dancing.  She was super excited for the show.

We took her, she loved it.  Twenty minutes in, she did claim to have to use the bathroom (even though she’d gone right before we sat down), but it was a false alarm.  She was really thrilled.  She was mesmerized the whole time, although there was little squirming, because her eyes were glued to the stage.

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Just last month we took her to see Newsies. (Another movie I have fond memories of from my childhood!) I did the same thing,  having her watch the movie and be familiar with the plot and songs (even though it also deviates a bit).  It didn’t work out as well. She wasn’t as into it and got quite antsy during the show.  (It was distracting for me, but I hope the people a few rows back didn’t notice. Thankfully the seats in the row ahead of us and the two rows behind us were empty!).

Why didn’t it work out as well?  I think she just didn’t like the story as much, and the Broadway version did NOT have little boys in it. I joked to my mom, “Those are the most muscular, orphaned street urchins I’ve ever seen!” The actors were clearly much older than the kids in the movie were supposed to be.

newsies

I do think Mabel was too young for Newsies, and it was a waste of money.  I think she enjoyed it well enough, but she’d probably like it a lot more next year.  Thankfully the tickets were buy one/get one, so it wasn’t as expensive as it could have been.

[Overall, I was disappointed in it as well.  There were lines so cheesy that I rolled my eyes.  The plot was much more contrived, complete with love story.  The accents were all over the place (and I don’t mean the 5 boroughs).  Not to mention the changes to the plot, and the conversion of “Have to fear, Brooklyn’s here!” into a song that eliminated the line! It did not hold up to my 7th grade recollection of watching the movie obsessively.  That said, the dancing was AMAZING! And they did justice to Carrying the Banner, King of New York, The World Will Know, and Seize the Day.  I’m glad I saw it.]

So what would be my tips for taking a kid to a show?

1. Know your kid.  If your kid, at any age, cannot sit still and be well behaved for 2 hours, don’t waste your money and the money spent by the people around you.  I would have taken Mabel out of the theater if she distracted people around us.  People pay a lot of money for those tickets, they don’t need it ruined by an antsy kid.  Annie, for Mabel, was perfect at almost three years old.  Newsies for Mable at four years old was not great- during intermission I told her that if she didn’t sit still we’d have to leave, and I meant it. Thankfully she listened and was able to (mostly) sit still.

2.  Theaters have booster seats (basically cushions) for kids to sit on so they can actually see.  Mabel used a booster for Newsies.  For Annie she just sat on all our coats (which worked well because then we didn’t have to hold them).

3.  Minimize drinking (by your child, it might help you to imbibe) pre-show and visit the bathroom immediately before the show starts. However a meal or snack before the show is a good idea so you don’t have a cranky, hungry kid.

4. Show the child the movie version in advance, let them listen to the soundtrack.  There are lots of shows that are based on movies, and there are lots of shows that are revivals for which a movie version is available.  Check your local library or Amazon.  Seeing the movie helps kids understand what’s going on and be better able to follow along.  If deviations from the movie will irk your kid, make them aware of plot changes they should expect.

5.  Have water, tissues, etc with you so you don’t have to get up during the performance.  If your child needs them, bring ear plugs or ear muffs, sun glasses, etc.  (Newsies was loud to me.  Also it did have a scene where a newspaper photographer takes a photo- the old fashioned flash explosion startled Mabel, it was loud and bright.  There was another scene where the stage lights got really bright, so many in the audience had to cover their eyes with their hands. FYI!).  You can read reviews of the show in advance to see if it mentions stuff that might bother your kid.

6.  Pick a time that does not coincide with nap/bed time.  Matinees are great unless your kid normally naps at that hour.  If you can do a 7/7:30pm evening show, encourage your child to take a nap. (This didn’t work for Mabel and she was yawning during Newsies, but it did work for Annie).

7. If you are really worried about behavior, try a dry run of a local community theater show.  If your kid can’t sit still, at least you’ll only have spent $20 figuring it out.

8.  If your kid has sensory issues, hearing loss, special needs, a wheelchair, etc. check with the theater.  Look first to the website, don’t be bashful about calling the theater.  Lots of theaters have headphones for the hearing impaired, seating for wheelchairs, etc.  Some even offer special performances for kids with special needs so parents can relax too without worrying about the daggers being shot at them by cranky theater goers.  The Theatre Development Fund does a lot of great stuff to make theater accessible to everyone.  Check out this awesomeness!  For upcoming performances that are part of the TDF’s Autism Theatre Initiative click here.

9. Discuss expectations in advance.  Mabel recently danced in a feis.  While we were there watching other kids dance we spoke about being a good audience member- sitting still, paying attention, not talking, etc.  I reminded her of that when we saw Newsies.

10. Be prepared for (avoiding) additional expenses. Theaters make money however they can- that includes drinks in souvenir cups and snacks during intermission, all kinds of souvenirs, CDs, etc to purchase.  If you don’t intend to spend additional money, discuss it in advance. If the theater will be selling the CD/doll/T-shirt at an incredible mark-up and you’d like your kid to have it, purchase it elsewhere in advance.  Bring snacks and drinks in your purse (I’m not talking an Igloo cooler or a picnic basket, but a water bottle and granola bar).

So those are my suggestions.  Do you have anything to add?  How old were you when you saw your first musical or play?  Have you taken your kids yet?

If you’re a Broadway newbie, check out the Theatre Development Fund’s guide to Broadway! Also check out TDF’s Guide to Family Friendly Live Performances.

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Cursed pestilence

We have been ravaged by a stomach bug.  It was going around in the local public schools and quickly made it’s way, via siblings, to Mabel’s nursery school.

She was sick Wednesday and Thursday of last week.  Then Nemo was sick Sunday into Monday.  Note, by sick, I mean, threw up in their sleep and rolled around in it for some period of time before we noticed and had to spend an hour in the middle of the night cleaning the child, the bedding, and the beds themselves.  Perhaps it was punishment for poor parenting choices?  On Wednesday we’d let Mabel get mac n’ cheese on ‘kids eat free’ night at the local red sauce place.  On Sunday we’d let Nemo have Domino’s pizza since it was Superbowl Sunday.

This would have been craptastic on a normal week, however, this week was not supposed to be normal.  Mac had a freelance job to do on-site in NJ.  My company provides a lovely back-up care plan for employees through Br!ght Hor!zons.  The plan seems to consist of a website that lists local daycare centers you can request care from and a bank of operators who call you back and tell you that there is no space in the center you requested, but there is another center on the other side of the Hudson River or 45 miles north of your home (which is 45min in the wrong direction from work).  Alternatively, you could send your 1.5yo to the affiliated center nearby your work that has online reviews discussing how filthy the place is, how unhappy the staff is, and how they restrain children who won’t stay in time out.  None of those alternatives were tenable.

Thusly, we cobbled together childcare from a variety of friends and family so Mac could take the freelance job (households with two working parents who encounter this stuff routinely have my respect and sympathy).  Monday Nemo was to stay with a friend (and her kids) during the day, and Mabel was going to go home from school with another friend.  This solution for Monday flew out the window like Domino’s out of a toddler sometime around 1am.

To complicate things further, on top of the pestilence, there was snow.  We’d been up so much in the night Sunday into Monday, that when we did wake to lots of snow we pretty much gave up.  As it was I had a miserable cold, no sleep, 800 loads of pukey laundry, and a sick toddler.  Mac’s office was closed that day, so I took the day off to recuperate.

Tuesday I was scheduled to work from home (we couldn’t cobble together care for Tuesday and Friday).  I took Mabel to school, spent the morning finger painting with Nemo, and waiting for my dad to arrive in the afternoon so I could take Mabel to the Museum of Natural History for a class we’d signed up for.

Nemo enjoying being an only child for the morning.

Nemo enjoying being an only child for the morning.

Around noontime, it was clear to me that something was wrong with my own GI tract.  I didn’t want to miss out on the already-paid-for/no-refunds class, so I took some Pepto, grabbed some plastic bags (just in case), and headed out.  I made it through and back home, but just barely.

By the time we got home, I knew I too had the stomach bug.  I spent Tuesday night doing what one does when one has the stomach bug.  Thankfully, I’d only had a cup of chicken soup (and not free mac n’ cheese or Domino’s).  However, whilst I was out of commission Nemo spent the hours from 1am to 5am wide awake and refusing to sleep.  Additionally, Mabel woke up (she’d fallen asleep in the car on the way home and I’d just put her into bed in her clothes) screaming that she had to get washed up and put on her PJs.  I tried to help, but figured not puking on the carpet was help enough and retreated, leaving the hysteria to Mac.

Nemo finally settled down and Mac came to bed around 5am.  By 7:30 Mabel was up and raring to go (having forgotten about her 1am sh!t losing).  I crawled out of bed, turned on Doc McStuffins, and laid down on the couch.

A while later, Nemo was awake.  When I went to get him, I found he had again puked all over his bed and self. *Thankfully* it was only a frozen waffle.  However, I was so sick, all I did was take off his PJs, wipe him down with a baby wipe, change his diaper, put him in new clothes, carry him downstairs, and let him lay with me on the couch.

We remained in this state for an indeterminate period of time and Mac awoke to this site, at which point I notified him of the mess in the bedroom. Once that was cleaned up, we sat Nemo down for a light breakfast, at which point he projectile puked up all the water he’d drank that morning. More cleaning and laundry.

In addition to the pestilence, there was more snow- a lot of snow, highways closed, state of emergency declared snow.  So, at least my work was closed and I didn’t have to use more PTO to stay home sick.  However, Mac couldn’t get to NJ for work.

By the end of Wednesday, it had been several hours since anyone had puked, we counted our blessings, and went to bed.

Thursday Mac went to work, my mom came to watch Nemo, and I dropped Mabel at school.  I cautiously made my way to work, and actually made it through the day without embarrassing myself.

I arrived home thinking we’d finally made it through, that we were recovered!  Then Mac came home.

I’m home with the kids again today- none of us have puked since Wednesday- and Mac is at work, but feeling like crud.  I hope he’s just having sympathy symptoms.

It has been a hellacious week (this morning’s breakfast of champions was a Dunkin Donut in the car on the ride to preschool- mom of the year!).  I went into lab one day this whole week. I only managed a few hours of working from home.  It sucks using so much PTO for nothing.

I really hope this is the end of it. I haven’t been that sick in a long time.

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Indoctrination

Mac posted the following on FB the other day with the caption, “A very special time in a young girl’s life – her first gaming dice. (First d20 roll was a 17)”

A very special time in a young girl's life - her first gaming dice. (First d20 roll was a 17)
A very special time in a young girl’s life – her first gaming dice. (First d20 roll was a 17)

I responded with, “And thus another generation is indoctrinated.”

Mac’s retort made me laugh out loud, “You get country music and Catholicism. Let me have this.”

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Science: Ruining childhood since 1543

In a FB discussion a while ago it was implied by some (who don’t know me) that I’m a stick in the mud, dream crusher of a mother who didn’t “let” her kid believe in Disney princesses, unicorns, dragons, and Bubble Guppies- as in, my 3yo knows those things are pretend/make believe and it was horrible of me to disabuse her of the notion that cartoons actually exist.

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If you know the origin of this image, and the person I should credit, please let me know.

Just because those things are pretend/make believe doesn’t mean she can’t enjoy playing make believe. She knows she can use her imagination to think up anything at all, not just what marketing execs at Disney want her to think about when she’s parked in front of the Disney Channel. I’m glad that when she plays princess, she just thinks up what kind of princess she wants to be- and isn’t just choosing which Disney princess to be.

However, what really gets me, what I fail to fathom, is the notion that only pretend things hold wonder.  Have you seen a Cheerio under a microscope?  What about a flower petal?  Salt? Hair? It’s pretty neat.

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Examining whatever she could find under a microscope. Even boring stuff can be exciting when you magnify it 200 times.

The actual world, and all the things that actually exist within it are wondrous. Stars and comets, Princess Di and Queen Noor, dinosaurs and narwhals, Sally Ride and Jaques Cousteau- all real and all wonderful and all amazing and all more enthralling than anything Disney might insidiously market to my kid.

Disney has it’s whole “When you wish upon a star” mumbo jumbo, but it was pretty freakin’ awesome to stand in our driveway and watch the Minotaur rocket shoot across the New York sky as it launched from Wallops Air Force Base (click on the link to see the schedule of launches and the map of where the launches are visible).  To then run inside and watch videos of the launch from the ground, learn about rockets, figure out why it looked the way it looked in the sky, etc. was also awesome.  To have Mabel ask for pictures of the rocket launching to take for show and tell was awesome.  To spark her interest in space an space exploration was awesome.  Disney can’t top that.

Distinguishing the real from the make believe doesn’t steal her child-like wonder, it opens her child’s eyes to the wonder that is around her every day, even if most grownups are oblivious.

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Mabel turns 4!

Amazingly, I am the mom of a 4 year old!010514mcphd

Mabel turned four last week.  She wanted a birthday tea party, and has been saying so for months. This was the first year she had actual opinions on what she wanted her party to be like. She chose the theme, the menu, her outfit, and the guest list.  Thankfully, she didn’t have any extravagant demands.

I did limit her to three friends to keep things small and simple for me.  Each gal was encouraged to wear her interpretation of “tea party attire.”  She chose her best pal from school, her best pal from the neighborhood, and her best pal from the library.

My mother-in-law got Mabel this tea party game as a birthday gift.  She was inspired by the game in her choices for the menu, namely heart-shaped peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, grapes, and tea.  She also requested a birthday cake from Baskin Robbins, so I was off the hook for baking too!

As I have for the past several years, I recycled birthday decorations (see Mabel’s second birthday and third birthday here).

The things I picked up are pictured below.

I’ve written before about my #scimom guilt around using helium for something as trivial as a birthday balloon.  To avoid that situation, I picked up these balloon sticks.  It meant I didn’t have to pay for the balloons to be filled with helium, and they last much longer since floating isn’t necessary (as of this publishing, they are still inflated 10 days after they were inflated).  They can be reused, and since I ordered 12 dozen of them, this will now be our go-to party balloon solution and should last us until both kids turn 30.  It also made for really cute decorations when we affixed them to the chairs with zip ties.  These are the polka dot balloons I purchased. Each girl took a few home with her.

As an activity, I purchased this tea pot picture frame craft set. Once the girls were finished making their frames, they went into the living room where Mac took photos of them with the birthday girl.  He then printed out the pictures and we put them in the frames for the girls to take home as a party favor.

The other party favor were these party hats from Party City.  They were less than $2 a piece, and because Mac was able to order them from inside the store, the shipping was free!

Of course, no tea party would be complete without a tea set.  I did a fair amount of research on Amazon and ultimately opted for this kid’s ceramic tea set.  It was Mabel’s birthday present from us.  It is child-sized, but it isn’t miniature like a doll’s set (You can see the size relative to a dessert plate in the photos above).  It even came with little spoons and napkins, and was inexpensive enough that if pieces break, it won’t be a big waste of money.  While she and her friends were having their photos taken in the living room, I laid out the tea service for four.

The girls enjoyed serving themselves tea- which spilled all over the place- and even tolerated Nemo crashing the tea party.

The party was only two hours, and that was enough time for the craft, the photos, tea/lunch, and some playing.

Mabel enjoyed herself, and that’s what matters most.  She also did a pretty good job of being a hostess- although there was some conflict over who got what colored seat at the table.  At the end of the party, she didn’t want her guests to leave, but there were no tears or tantrums.

I enjoy making a fuss over birthdays!

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Happy Halloween!

We took it down to the wire and carved out pumpkin last night.  What do you think?

pumpkin mcphdIt was a collaborative effort (meaning my husband did all the work and the kids did their best to thwart him, while I took pictures).

halloween

 

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