The weather is warmer. We are getting outside in the fresh air and sunshine more, which in many ways feels like healing medicine. Maybe it's my consumer tendencies (which I've worked to root out, or at least reduce, because, you know, consumerism is not great on so many levels, but man, the roots are deep) or maybe its the Spring air that is pushing me to share love anyway I can. So here's my favorite-things-as-of-right-now Roundup, including some old favorites, books for kids with beautiful brown skin and a new Japanese iced coffee system I cannot live without.
1. Freezer pop molds
These silicone pop molds are amazingly easy to keep clean and work for just about everything. We make healthy chocolate shakes and freeze them for "healthy ice cream" for the kiddos. I've used them for travel formula containers before. Or freezing popscicles of lemonade with orangeflower water (which is an amazing summer drink, Like 1tsp to 1tbs depending on taste to your glass of lemonade- you can find orangeflower water in most grocery stores in the Middle Eastern section). Easy clean up and bright colors? Sold.
2. Hario Iced Coffee Maker
I'm a cold brew convert. I know, I know, either you are too or you don't care to get on this bandwagon. But I'm telling you this is a game changer. This system produces amazing, smooth coffee without the grittiness of an overnight french press and it doesn't take hours to manage. You fill the inner tube with ice and do a slow poor of boiling water over grounds. And it's not cheap but it does come in under $30. I'm in love. Also- this creamer is awesome if you're either lactose intolerant or just love almond milk. It's subtly sweet and rich and perfect for coffee or tea.
3. Solly Baby Wrap
When Tiny was tiny he was snuggled against my chest all day long as we walked, worked and breathed together. It's lightweight, incredibly soft and lovely to wear. Having an infant sibling is a real bummer for older kiddos, and when Tiny was tucked away in this it was *almost* like he wasn't even there, which was a real bonus for Mr. Toddler. We are babywearers, so we're always on the lookout for carriers that work best for us, and this was amazingly customizable. We could hike for hours, or run errands all day in this and be completely comfortable. I would put it on in the morning and just leave it on all day. When I look back at pictures of tiny Tiny all tucked away in our Solly it makes me teary eyed. It's such a short time they're this little. It is such a wonderful, sleepy, bleary eyed, magical time. This wrap has a special place in my heart.
4. Mamma and Little teething necklaces
TIny is incredibly strong. Like scarily so. He stays wonderfully focused on the silicone beads in this necklace when I'm wearing him, so that spares me from having fistfuls of hair yanked around or teensy scratches all down my neck. Baby's physical love, Mamas and Papas, it's no joke.
5. Trader Joes Watermelon and Cucumber Cooler
This stuff is great. Like watermelon? Like subtle cucumber as a refresher in drinks? You'll love it. Even better, grab your silicone pop molds and make popsicles. I'm currently trying to stock back up on containers of this deliciousness in my house, as they disappear within days here.
6. Oral Motor Chew
It goes by the name of "Chewie" around here, but this oral motor chew is durable, flexible and perfect for Mr. Toddler. He would put his hands, toys, shoes, you name it into his mouth when anxious or stressed, so we began using this every night at bedtime while reading to him and now have a few spares to keep around to help him manage when he's anxious, overstimulated or overwhelmed. It's probably the best $6 I've ever spent.
7. "Please, baby, please." -Spike Lee
As Mamas we are book lovers and we are just totally heart eyed at the way Mr. Toddler has fallen in love with reading and books in general. When he first moved in we could barely get through infant board books, and now he will be engrossed for upwards of 30-45 minutes at a time, reading at bedtime, morning time or anytime he can coral us into sitting still with him.
When our boys first moved in we looked hard to find books that showed kids who looked like them. If you had asked me eight months ago how much of kids paraphernalia (bed sheets, books, cartoons, movies, clothing, dolls, advertisements, coloring books, bathing products, etc) was marketed to, or really only represented light skinned or white kids I would have said "almost everything." Now eight months later I can tell you that "almost" is an understatement. Growing up I saw people who looked like me everywhere I went and most places I looked, and this is one of those benefits you get when belonging to the dominant cultural norm. Another word for that is privilege. You get to see yourself without trying. My kids won't have that experience. In our home we are all different colors and that has got me digging deep around issues of racism, invisibility and oppression-- topics that largely I haven't had to confront this intimately before. I have a lot of thoughts about raising black boys as a white, gay Mama and I'm sure someday I'll have enough clarity to put all my thoughts together. But for now- the books we love and read and re-read which have lovely, ordinary everyday topics and topics that really relate to the specific way the world will interact with the boys I love and the painful history that came before them.
"Please, baby, please." Beautiful graphics, wonderful cadence in the writing and best of all a family doing what families do best- loving toddlers in all their passionate glory. Mr. Toddler would light up on pages where the baby looked like Tiny. And here's the thing, there is not one other baby in all the other books we were handed down or took out from the library that look like Tiny.
Any books written by Jabari Asim are also favorite. Baby books with chubby babies discovering toes, knees and beautiful hands. The soothing color palates and simple words were perfect for Mr. Toddler in the early days.
8. Dr. Bronner's Coconut oil.
Another staple here. What can't this stuff do? I use it before Mr. Toddler gets into his evening bubble bath to protect his ezcema prone skin. I grease him up and then let him soak away and don't worry about how drying sitting in soapy water is. He comes out of his tubby conditioned and glowing. We use it on Tiny's hair to pull through his ringlets, I use coconut oil for cooking regularly. When traveling this is one thing I bring everywhere as it essentially acts like McGuyver in a jar.
9. Marpac DOHM Sound Machine
We have a few things that travel with us wherever we go. This Marpac DOHM sound machine would be my second thing after coconut oil, to take to a desert island as it helps our kiddos sleep in a huge way. It blocks out the tapping of the dogs walking around at night, random cars driving by or pulling up the street at night. It helps Mr. Toddler tune out the nervousness his body feels when winding down. It has two noise levels and an adjustable top disc so you can further adjust how loud or quiet you would like it to be. We love it.
10. Cuppow lids
When I'm at work I usually have on average 3-5 drinks with me. It's a problem, but a pretty neutral one so I'm not adding it to my list of things to get working on. I might forget to grab food or work through lunch, but drinks? Well, I'm surrounded. Water, jasmine tea (with lime- it's so good!), coffee, and some other treat, which is usually hippie kombucha. I like variety, which means I needs lots of containers to hold my drink stash. These cuppow lids have turned my beloved mason jars to travel mugs in a flash and I love it. Etsy sells some amazing mason jar cozies so hot liquids don't burn your hands and it feels like you're holding a cozy warmer in cold months (like this! Or perhaps for the classier artist, this). We have a stash of these lids in the house and use them daily, they're really durable, wash easily and never leak. Mr. toddler has started using pint mason jars with a lid as makeshift transition cups. Glass always feels better to me than plastic, so I don't have to get wacky about leeching chemicals or BPA amounts.
Happy Spring, all! Man, we earned this one after this endless winter. Let's share the love, I'd love to hear your favorites too!
-Foster Mom (the therapist)