Monday, February 27, 2012

Play Area

So, to make a long-ish story really really short, I got fired yesterday via TEXT MESSAGE! Anyways, I was expecting to work today, so I had nothing planned and didn't want to leave the house for fear of spending any money. Thanks to that, I finally got to check off one of my blog to-do's, and put together a little tour of River's play area!

For those of you (if anyone actually reads this) who follow my life, I'm currently living at my parents' house. I've been here since December 2010, when my life fell apart thanks to my soon-to-be ex-husband. I'm being blunt and honest when I say that my parents are not very child-friendly people. They are quiet, clean, scheduled people and children are often none of those things. This is why they only had one, and this is why it's been very hard living at home again. Their constraints always manage to make me feel like a teenager again. I just want to argue, yell, and do stupid things in the name of rebellion.

Anyways, all of that aside, here is the tour via collages made on, sorry for the repeated picture :/

After much arguing over there being ANY child toys in common space, they finally relinquished a small corner of the living room under the condition that the toys were to be kept out of sight unless they are currently in use. My grandmother had given me an awesome old shelving unit with these yellowed, cracked bins. Two of the bins were salvageable, but I'm glad to have the shelves free for other things. There is also a toybox and a dress-up chest.

On the top of the organizer there are three bins from Ikea with some of their circus toys in them. I love toys that foster creative imagining! The book I referenced in my last post (Your Brain on Childhood) talked about finding toys that are 80% child and 20% toy. This means no talking flashing plastic crap that tells a child what to do or what is happening. For example, a keyboard should play what keys are pressed, not a prerecorded tune. The circus set is a little further towards 60%/40% since it dictates that they are members of a circus, but it's still more about the child's imagination than the toy.

Also on top is an owl play clock (an awesome estate-sale find) and River's one-year book from

(The bins are labeled: Coloring Supplies, Cards, Felt Food, Musical Instruments, Small Stuffed Toys, Alphabet Blocks, Ring Stacker & Shape Sorter, and Blocks.)

Living with the parents is certainly not all bad. My mother salvaged the needlework on the dressup bin and gave the bin and some costumes to River as a Hanukkah/Christmas gift this year. She also had the toy box in the basement, full of fabric, and gave it to me to use for River (and also as part of her quest to clean out the basement and get rid of a lot of fabric). She painted lizards on the back and bottom.

I love that River is still too small to get into the toy box on her own. It lets me hide special toys for when she's getting tired of what she has access to, and also gives me a place to dump things that don't otherwise have a well-labeled bin to call its own.

Of course, while taking pictures, River decided that it was a good time to play with all the toys I had just cleaned up :) She also demanded to wear the wings that normally hang on the trellis with my leafy wings. I think Elmo pants, a strange Japanese padded shirt from the Salvation Army, and monarch wings are the coolest!

At the top right she's riding her awesome rolling bumble bee (another resale find), and on the bottom she's decided that playing with a plastic tube she found in the garbage and a magnet are way more fun than all the awesome toys she has. I agree.

After some spinning, getting frustrated with the wings, and then vacuuming with the popper vacuum, it was time for some art! Also, I know it's kind of cheap, but I love this effect :) Also, since the paper was so big and she didn't want the box of crayons on top of it, she had to keep getting up and walking back and forth to get crayons.

Next on my tour list is a tour of my bedroom... once it stops looking like a bomb went off in here. It's really horrible, but I have all of my necessary possessions (other than food) stuffed into one room, so it's a bit cramped.

Friday, February 24, 2012


After my camera dying slightly and my long-term dissatisfaction with its picture quality, I finally caved in and bought a new camera.

Know what this means?


River is 20 months old

She loves making some silly faces! This one is her "boob face"... according to her. yeah.

Not that you can see much of the background, but these pictures were taken at Family Grounds Cafe in Chicago, IL, and Nibbles Play Cafe in Wheeling, IL. They are some of our favorite places!

I'm a big fan of free play time and think that it's more important for child development than most people give it credit for.

(I really need to do a book review of Your Brain on Childhood, by Gabrielle Principe, it was great! And a review of the two places that the pics were taken.... I should start a todo list)

TV, Attempt to Slow Down, and the Increasing Need to Leave the House!

I've been keeping River and myself very busy lately! Every day has been filled with either working, errands, or adventures. We've done something involving considerable (2 or more hours in the car) driving every weekend for the past six or more weeks.

This weekend I wanted some time at home without any plans, so I purposefully left Friday and Saturday completely blank in my planner (other than a reminder that I need to do laundry, which is currently sitting downstairs being forgotten about >.< ). I'm regretting it!

River's obsession with Sesame Street has led to every moment at home being a battle to get her away from the TV. I can either give in and get things done with the time that she spends zombified, or I can fight her.

To give her credit, she's not a total zombie. Yes, sometimes she gets that glazed look in her eyes where I can tell that her brain has stopped working, but very often she's up in front of the TV dancing or pointing to body parts or otherwise "interacting" with Elmo and the other characters.

I've been finding myself, very often today, thinking of errands that I could devise even though they aren't completely necessary or of places we could go just for a change of scenery and a bit more separation from the TV. I think we might be going out today...

Sunday, February 12, 2012

My Little Performer

River seems to have gotten a lot of her father's personality traits. Normally, I would attribute that to nurture, but her father took a nice 7 month break from being a parent (though, to give him credit, he is now reemerging as, if not a parent, a sort of uncle-figure).

It's so strange to see her start being loud and silly to get a person's attention. She loves having every person in a room watch her. She's purposefully silly and loud and fantastic.

I'm just glad that I can see these traits as something I loved in her father instead of just reminding me of the pain he caused.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Why we DO NOT buy Elmo books.

I posted earlier about TV rules, which included a lot about how obsessed River is with Sesame Street, Elmo in particular. Not only does she ask for Elmo whenever she wants to watch TV, we also have a little plush Elmo (surprisingly hard to find when shopping amongst all of the plastic moving talking singing Elmos). This Elmo comes everywhere with us, and I've even been forced to nurse it more times than I'd like to admit.

Today we went to a big-name book store to exchange one of our late Hanukkah presents and was completely unsuccessful. The trip turned into a huge battle between River pointing out every single Elmo or Sesame Street related product, some from across the store (at least I know her eyesight is good), and me trying my hardest not to buy any of these products.

As far as branding goes, I don't mind Sesame Street so much. The show tends to be educational, doesn't include a ton of fast flashing scene changes (which can be hard for young minds to keep up with but doesn't let their attention leave it), and according to their commercial they put all the money generated from their products back into producing Sesame Street in a ton of other countries.

But what I don't want is an Elmo book. Let me explain:
  • There are plenty of shows on TV, but River only wants Elmo.
  • There are plenty of stuffed toys in our house, but River only wants to play with Elmo.
  • At the library and stores River can spot Elmo from across a crowded room.
  • On the back of her Tag Junior books (a purchase that I am not so proud of) there's a picture of one of their other books, it has Elmo on it, so she points and yells "ELMO!" repeatedly but doesn't bother to open the book.
  • She has multiple pairs of pj's, but she only wants to wear the pair that my mother made her that has Elmo on them. (Great way to ensure that your PJ's are her favorite, mom)

This all leads me to believe that, if I were to let an Elmo book enter our house, that it would be the ONLY book she would read. She would bring it to me night and day, and force me to repeat the book over and over until she had it memorized.

While an attachment to a certain book would not be the worst thing, I would much rather the attachment come from the story rather than recognition of a certain fuzzy red character.

TV Rules?

I'll admit it; our TV rules have a lot of "if"s in them.

The rule is: River gets to watch one episode of Sesame Street or two episodes of Play With Me Sesame per day. Usually she chooses to watch her time first thing in the morning, but when we have a busy day she's watch them on my computer before we go to sleep.

However, this isn't always how it works. Some examples of my exceptions to the rule include:
  • When I need to get shit done and I just need River distracted
  • When either of us are sick
  • When something horrible has happened, and it's my fault, and I feel bad enough that I need to make it up to her
  • When I really need to read something and there's no way that I can do it an entertain my daughter at the same time
  • When I'm just feeling like a horrible, lazy parent

River is going to have a hard time learning rules......

Also: One of River's favorite words is Elmo. She's also been saying Zoe, Cookie Monster, Grover, and (Big) Bird. Now whenever she eats something, she's usually calling herself the (pasta/cookie/yogurt/whatever) monster. It usually comes out sounding like "Pata Monta." Yes, it's adorable, but it also shows how she's been branded!

Friday, February 03, 2012

I dread the day that I turn River's car seat to face forward...

I'll have to stop all of my sneaky chocolate eating...

Or share...


Seriously though, I eat a lot of chocolate while driving. Especially when River is extra cranky.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Divorce, it never seems to end.

I finally saved up enough money to go to a lawyer and have divorce and custody papers drawn up. It seems like things are going to go my way, but it has taken so long to get to this point and it is taking so long to get everything finished that it's driving me nuts-o.

Seriously, someone needs to throw me a party once this is all over. I'll even hire a babysitter. >.<