Thursday, August 28, 2014

Spotlight: JoJo Maman Bébé (giveaway closed)

I'm delighted to tell you about a company recently stumbled on in my blogging journey.

JoJo Maman Bébé (and Facebook page)

They are based out of London, which means they use fun words like "knickers" and "pram shoes" and "dungarees" and "buggy."  This company has a jackpot of super hip, high-quality maternity, nursing, baby, toddler, toys, furniture, decor, everything that you need as a mom.  The really great news is they are expanding into the USA, currently available online in the USA here & here and making their way into stores.   Good news for those of us (like me and my husband) who often suffer from UK-Style-Envy. 

Retailers: contact to stock JoJo products in your store!

A few products of note that I've had a chance to try:

Multi-Purpose Maternity Body Support Pillow.   The pillow I never knew I needed until I had it.  As you can see if you check out the product page, it also has uses for nursing, and an insert to turn it into a "nest" for baby to lay in.  Great design.  Every pregnant woman needs one of these, especially for third trimester!

Girls clothing.  You might recognize the hairband and shoes in the pic above from miss Penelope's two-year portraits I posted a few weeks ago.  We are obsessed with these shoes. And Penny can put them on all by herself.  But enough about the shoes.... the clothes.... as a photographer, I'm always on the lookout for unique and photo-ready ensembles and styles to tell my clients about.  JoJo has a jackpot (boys and girls).  Also, since here in AZ we'll still be swimming for another couple of months, check out their kids' swimwear, this one has a built-in "nappy" (diaper), pretty cool.

On the practical side, these clips. are. amazing.

Also of note: for us ladies, some of JoJo's most popular items are their wrap tops and dresses.  This is how you wear them.  Mine is fabulous.

I've got a handful of other items in the Nursing and Baby categories that I've washed and packed in our birth bag!  After new baby Griffin makes her appearance (any day now!) you'll be sure to see us sporting them!  I'm also pretty obsessed with their nursery decor and their gift sets, what a wonderful gift to give at a baby shower when you want to be a rebel and stray from the registry.

OK I could go on and on and on about my new gem, but why don't you check them out for yourselves!

Readers in California, you can find JoJo products in some boutique stores around town, and us Arizonans can expect to see the JoJo Maman Bébé logo in local stores very soon.  In the mean time, search and shop online on Amazon and at!

Retailers: contact to stock JoJo products in your store!


One lucky reader in the USA will win his/her choice of either a Hat / Scarf / Gloves set, or an Elephant Embroidered Hooded Towel, sent directly from JoJo Maman Bébé.

For Toddlers~ Hat / Scarf / Gloves Sets: 

"Heart" set for girls
"Badger" set for boys

For Babies~ Elephant Embroidered Hooded Towel:

available in pink, blue or grey

Three steps to win:
(must reside in the USA)

1. Share a link to this post on the social media platform of your choice (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.), so others can have a looksee at my review and enter if they'd like.

2.  In the comments below, share which item you'd to have sent to you if you won. A blog comment is you putting your name in the hat! (Do this from your computer, not your phone!  Comments on Facebook and Instagram do not count, must be here in this blog post.)

3. Make sure I know how to reach you if you win! Hi new friends, I'm Julie. If we've never met and I don't have your contact info, you can email me at juliejanuary [at] gmail [dot] com if you'd rather not post your contact info in the comments.

I will randomly select a winner at 10pm (Arizona time) next Sunday September 7th!   Good luck!

* Opinions herein are my own and I was not compensated for this review beyond items being provided to me at no cost.

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Potty Training

We're in the thick of it.  Prizes and panty obsession and "trying" every time we arrive or leave somewhere. It's my dream and my nightmare all in one.  Penny is out of diapers and there's no turning back.  It's a big deal, and it's a lot of work.  Here are some deets for anyone who cares to read a long post about a toddler and toilets.

Kick Off
We are beyond spoiled in that our potty training kick-off was three-days of us not having to do anything.  Penny packed her suitcase and went over to my in-laws house for Nana's Potty Camp. Yes, you read that right, my mother-in-law potty trains her grandchildren. 

The hard part -- going cold turkey with no diapers, and enduring the first couple of days of accidents, and literally devoting 24/7 to nothing but the potty -- was done somewhere else, by someone else.  ... I know.

What exactly went on at Nana's Potty Camp is a little bit mysterious to me because I wasn't there, but I know it involved:
  • This book and this book, 
  • A shopping trip where Penny got to pick out her panties and some prizes,
  • Lots of talk categorizing diapers as "gross" and "just for babies."  
  • Lots of princess talk.  
  • Getting to go see where all her big cousins keep their panties in their closets and dressers, and interviewing them about how they "go" in the potty. 
  • A ceremony for saying bye bye to diapers. 
  • A "potty dance" and M&M ritual for every success. 
  • An outing for practicing going potty in public restrooms.
  • A royal tea party for the first poop in the potty.  
  • Special prizes for any poop on the potty.
  • A play date for "going" in someone else's potty.  
  • A closing ceremony. 
Penny attending this three-day "camp" with Nana and Papa was seriously the greatest blessing in the world for our potty training journey. I could not have done it so well myself, and especially not at eight-months pregnant.  (For those of you wondering how much our Nana would charge to enroll your child in Potty Camp, the answer is that she only takes her own grandchildren as campers. But I am trying to get her to start a consulting business, as she has done this now for seven kids in the last decade!)

At Home

After closing ceremonies, Nana had to train us so that we could stay the course when Penny came home. Full potty training does not happen in just three days vacation, and a big-girl in panties is not the same kid as the girl who wore diapers just the week before.

Some themes we learned from Nana:

Consistency: the language you use, the routines you do, the time that you have them go or have them "try" to go... it has to be consistent.

Cold Turkey: once you ditch the diapers, you cannot ever go back

Enthusiasm/Positivity: it must be a positive experience for the kiddo to avoid power struggles or anxiety surrounding the going potty experience.  Make it fun.

Devotion: it really needs to take over your life for a couple weeks.  All grownups involved must have potty on the brain all the time to set up little one for success.  

Expect other changes:  Penny wearing panties has completely derailed our naptime/bedtime and getting dressed routines. It's a delicate dance to not have it become a power struggle or bring any negativity to the whole experience.   She is so obsessed with her panties that anything involving changing them, or putting pajamas or clothes on over them is a nightmare.  She takes f-o-r-e-v-e-r to pick out her panties for the day.   Potty training is going well, but it has affected other areas of our life very much.  This is normal, and it's temporary.  The transition from baby to big-girl includes growing pains that might present themselves in the form of tantrums and rebellion and other things that require extreme patience from mom and dad.

A few FAQ's....

How did we know she was ready?
We started talking about where mommy and daddy "go" and letting her get real curious about the bathroom a month or two before her second birthday.   She started saying she needed to "go" on the potty a few weeks before we decided she was ready for potty camp.  I did not have it on my personal agenda for her to be potty trained before the baby came, in fact I fought it at first.  But really, there was just no question that she was ready... she was interested, she understood it, and she even started complaining about wearing diapers. 

Did we use / are we using a mini potty or special seat?
No. Part out of laziness (just didn't go get one) and part because I don't want to have to re-train her to use a regular toilet or have the mini potty be a crutch. She has only sat her tiny bum on grownup toilets.  This means she does require a chaperone every time she goes so she doesn't fall in! After all, she just turned two.  Haven't quite decided how we are going to work our way up to her completely going potty by herself, we are just happy to be out of diapers! 

What about bedtime and naptime?   
Because she has yet to wake up dry, we are using Pull-Ups (Huggies brand Night-Time style, to be exact) for naps and bedtimes.  These are her "sleep panties" -- we do NOT use the word "diaper".  She fights them like a maniac -- because she is THAT obsessed with her princess panties and because she knows that it means bedtime is coming.  I'm not sure if this is the best method for total cold turkey potty training, but right now I am not physically capable of changing crib sheets and I don't have it in me to be washing peepee linens on a regular basis, so it's what we're doing. 

Would I recommend doing this three weeks before you are due to have another baby?
Absolutely not.  No.  But timing of anything parenting-related isn't always convenient is it?  And ask me in two months how much I love not having two kids in diapers and not having to potty train my toddler with a newborn in the mix.

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Recipe: Third Trimester (Chocolate) Medjool Date Smoothie

(disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist or a medical professional, but you probably already knew that)

Have you read any studies about the affect of eating dates in late pregnancy? (here's one, here's another)   I'm all for a lower chance of induction and a potentially shorter labor, but I hate dates. So they've gotta be disguised.  Here's my solution.

Note: we have a Blendtec blender with the "Wildside" container (capacity = about 50 oz).   Smaller blenders might require you to half the ingredients.

My (almost) Daily Smoothie Recipe

Blend well:
-1-2 Bananas
-6-8 Medjool Dates (remove pits first!)
-BIG handful of Baby Spinach
-8-10 oz Milk

-Protein powder of your choice (I do 1.5 scoops of chocolate flavored Optimum Nutrition Performance Whey Isolate because that's what my husband has in the house, from Costco -- this is about 45g of protein)
-One conservative squeeze of Hershey's syrup
-Ice to fill up the blender to capacity

Blend on "ice crush" or "milkshake" setting. 

I sip on this all morning and Penny (my 2-year-old) also drinks a glass.
It's nice and thick if you use plenty of ice, so these reusable smoothie straws are helpful.

-I have a noticed a decrease in my night-time leg cramps from all the potassium in the dates and bananas. 
-I feel better about my protein and iron intake for the day from the whey protein and the spinach. 
-I am hydrated from all the ice (makes about 50 ounces total)
-If the dates thing is true, I'm getting mine in! And I can't even taste them!
-I don't have to overthink what I'm going to make for breakfast.

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Go Bag Packing Lists

I've had lots of people ask me what I recommend packing in the hospital "go bags".  Dan and I are packing ours this week so I thought I would share our lists!  May look like overkill, but better to have and not need than need and not have, I always say..... In case your stay at the birth place is longer or different than you originally imagined.

Go bag for the car:  
Why a car go bag? I personally know two people who have delivered their babies in the car on the way to their place of birth.  It's not likely and it's not ideal, but it's not a bad idea to be prepared just in case! 
    -Two (clean) towels
    -Two large-size empty ziplock bags
    -Two large trash bags
    -One clean blanket
    -One "potty pad" for you to sit on (in case your water breaks en route)
    -One small bowl
    -Pillow for mom's comfort, especially for longer drives

Dad's Go Bag:
-Reference Paperwork: 
     --Two photo copies of mom's insurance card & driver's license, and medical power of attorney
     --Two copies of your birth preferences document (birth plan)
     --A list of phone numbers (grandparents, house-sitter, best friend, anyone someone besides you two might ever need to call etc.) 
     --Your OBGYN/midwife and Pediatrician's name and contact info
-"Coaching" stuff: lotion and tennis balls for back rubs, empty clean water bottle, a watch for timing contractions, etc. (depending on your birth plan), lavender essential oil, diffuser
-Chargers for any electronics you might be bringing (phone, iPad, music player etc.)
-Deck of cards
-Music player if you'd like.
-Swim trunks
-Two "comfy" changes of clothes acceptable for sleeping/napping in or when visitors are present (my husband was FREEZING at the hospital last time, so he actually ended up having a friend bring him warmer clothes for the nights we slept there).
-3 pair clean underwear
-Comfortable shoes and slippers.
-One "non-pajama" change of clothes (like jeans and a polo or something, remember Dad will be in lots of pictures, so consider this when you select your graphic tee and sweatshirt)
-Tooth brush and deodorant
-Snacks such as dried fruit, granola/protein bars, nuts, honey sticks, candy bars, etc.
-His own medication if he's on any
-Cash for the vending machine or cafeteria
-The camera! don't forget memory card and extra battery/charger as applicable
-A few surprises and favorite treats for older sibling(s) for when she gets to come meet the new little one and finally see mom and dad.

New Baby's Go Bag:
-Outfit to wear home. I would bring something in the Newborn size and something in the 0-3 month size.  He/She won't really need clothes until you go home, you'll keep baby swaddled or skin-to-skin the whole time you're there. 
-You can bring other outfits/accessories if you want them for pictures but baby won't "need" them.
-Fractionated coconut oil, to put on baby's bum.  It helps the newborn poop come off without a thousand wipes.
-Car seat -- can't leave without it!
-An EMPTY small tote bag (or your diaper bag), to fill with all the good stuff they will give you to bring home (diapers, wipes, pads, sanitation bottle, baby bath accessories, breast-pump tubing, and a few other things)

Most birth places provide all of this (ask on your tour), but if yours doesn't, you might also need:
-Shower towels and wash cloths for you and dad. 
-Shampoo and soap, but bring your own if you are picky.
-Pillows and blankets for dad on the fold out, bring your own if your husband is picky.
-Diapers and wipes
-Pads for you

Mom's Go Bag:
-A few pair of cozy socks
-Flip flops for the shower/bathroom if you want
-Toiletries, as though you were going on vacation (hair brush, hair dryer, make up if you'll want it, etc.)
-A couple nursing gowns, if you don't want to just wear the hospital gowns. Regular nightgowns will do as long as you can access your boobs, think button-down, elastic neckline, or spaghetti strap. (But nursing gowns are best). You could also simplify your life and just wear the hospital gowns the whole time you are there, that will be your choice.
-(you don't need to bring underwear, they have special underwear for you to wear and I actually found it really comfortable)
-Robe (maternity fit is best, or really big)
-A notebook or notepad to take notes on. I just kept this by my bed and used it quite a bit during my stay.
-Thank You Notes, just in case you want to write some to the nurses, or want to get started on gift TY notes while you have some down time in the hospital.
-Something to wear home. Last time I wore a nursing gown and robe :) -- this was the only thing that was comfortable for me after my emergency C-section (Didn't wear anything with a waistband for a couple weeks). If you have a vaginal birth, you should be able to wear comfy pants and a shirt, think 5 months pregnant for size.

Older Sibling(s):
This is going to be totally different for everyone depending on age of the child(ren) and what arrangements you are making for them.  But don't forget to plan ahead for them too!

I hope this was super helpful!  
Please feel free to print this post, or copy and paste it as a starting point as you are making your own packing lists!

I'd love some suggestions in the comments if there is anything you packed (or forgot!) that you think I should add to my own lists!

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Penny Jane: Two Years Old

Pinafore, Headband, and High Tops outfitted by JoJo Maman Bébé
available online in the USA here & here.

Pardon me while these age milestone posts get longer and longer as I do them less frequently!

Miss Penelope is now 25 lbs 12 oz and exactly three feet tall.  She's been wearing size 4 diapers, size 2T pajamas (for length), but mostly 18-24mo for shorts and tops.  She wears between sizes 6&7 shoes, depending on the brand.

Starting on her second birthday, we've been capitalizing on the "big girl" concept.  Big girls don't need pacifiers.  Big girls wear ponytails (some days...).  Big girls ask to be excused from the table.  Big girls help and obey Mommy and Daddy.  We're also gearing up for potty training very very very soon here, because big girls use the potty, too (and she's totally ready.)

Some favorite activities are swimming, drawing (not coloring, she'll clarify) especially with grownup pens and pencils, counting things, dancing, puzzles, reading, "cooking" in her kitchen, climbing anything that can be climbed.

She's learned the concept of "different," and uses this word to specify what she wants, and often to change her mind.  Different cheese, different shirt, different book.  It's neat to see the wheels turn in her head as she processes options and decisions.  Also, this requires much patience from Mommy and Daddy.

She is talking SO much.  She can also count to ten, sometimes higher, and can identify all 26 letters of the alphabet with about 85% accuracy.  Some favorite sayings are "That's Silly!", "Exactly, Mommy."  "Yeah sure." and "Very very good."  "Excuse me." (even to inanimate objects that are in her way)" and "Fox says oodalolly."  She is also very forthcoming with saying "Thank You."  She can sing, with pretty good accuracy, baa baa black sheep, five little monkeys jumping on the bed, the itsy bitsy spider, ABC's, twinkle twinkle little star, and a couple other tunes from start to finish.

Right now, everything is MINE.  She even claims that liking something is only hers, for example:
her: "I like pink."
me: "I like pink, too."
her: "No, my like pink."

A favorite pastime is hiding in our closet.  I have no idea what she does in there, but she doesn't seem to touch anything, and she likes to have the door shut, with the light off.  She says she's "hanging out" when I ask her through the door what she's doing.

She now gets in and out of the shower by herself, and I wrap her in a towel while she stands on the bathroom floor instead of picking her up and holding her while I dry her.  She can wet her own hair, wash her own body, and rinse off mostly by herself in the shower.  She hates to have her hair washed.  We've had success brushing her hair after bathing because of the "brushing the hair song" that I sing, wherein I list that every female she knows "brushes her hair" to the tune of Farmer and the Dell.

A few favorite foods: Soup. Oranges. Ice cream cones. Lollipops. Babybel cheese, yogurt with sprinkles, scrambled eggs, bacon, frosting, peanut butter, butter, cream cheese, jelly... anything you can put on bread...  Just this week she started eating fruit the grownup way, without me cutting it up for her.  She feels like a real big girl walking around holding her whole apple and munching tiny bites from it.  

She still naps about three hours each afternoon (PTL!) and she sleeps about 11 hours at night.  She likes her alone-time in her crib before falling asleep, often opting to skip singing songs with me or Dan so she can just cuddle her teddy bear in solace.  We get to hear her sing to herself in the monitor, which I love.  Sometimes she stays awake in there for a good half hour before going to sleep.

For a little while recently she turned to our bamboo Aden + Anais blankets as cuddle / security items, but upon getting rid of the pacifier, she quickly gotten rid of those too.  On her second birthday, when the pacifiers officially disappeared for good, she also decided that all of her crib companions with the exception of her Jelly Cat brown bear had to go too.  I watched on the video monitor as she exiled each animal and blanket over the edge one by one at the start of nap time.  Then, upon realizing that no one was coming in to her room to give them back to her, she looked at them on the floor in despair and said "bye bye toys. bye bye."  Knock on wood, she's still never climbed out of the crib herself.

We use a time-out chair for punishment or "a moment to be by yourself."  Some days we don't need it at all, some days she's in there seven or eight times.  Regular offenses include kicking Mommy during diaper changes, saying "No!" when asked/told to do something, refusing to pick up her toys, and being unkind to others (in ways she knows are not ok).  Right now time-out is two minutes long.

She's pretty obsessed with books.  We still read to her before every sleep, but it's getting difficult as she often wants to pick a book and read it all by herself.  She gets to take one book into her crib every nap and bedtime, which she often looks at or "reads" to her teddy bear when she wakes up.

A quirk:  this is the phase of Suspension Bridge Penny -- a girl who likes to balance herself between two objects of furniture, especially the couch and the coffee table for long periods of time, carrying out regular activities such as eating, drinking, watching tv, reading, while balancing.

She is so very busy.  This is the most fun and most challenging age yet.  I feel like we are really parenting now.  It's pretty cool!

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Love is...

...a man reading Winnie the Pooh to his daughter, on the same night he installed the board-book ledges he built that very day (in the hot garage), which his wife had been dreaming about for a year but just mentioned to him two days prior because she is pregnant with their second child and that's when she started nesting.

...and not even complaining when said wife snuck in to take a picture of their bedtime routine and show off his handy work.

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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Maternity, The Last Little Bit

Thank you to Brett and Liz from Siegel Thurston Photography  (blog) for capturing these amazing photos of our family despite our toddler's fidgets and my high-maintenance pregnancy-ness.  Getting in front of the lens was super difficult for me and you made it so easy! We will cherish these photos forever!

A Pregnancy Update: 36 Weeks

Blessings:  Last week I thought my water broke, but it didn't.  Penny is done with swimming lessons which means I am no longer required to sit outside, for the rest of the summer.  My uterus totally dropped and I am actually feeling.... um... pretty good.  Knock on wood. It's a little easier to breathe and eat, and baby girl seems to be more comfortable in there too because she's not as cage-fighter-like as she was a few weeks ago.  I actually feel like my belly got smaller, although clearly it's getting bigger by the day. Who knew there could be relief in the last month of pregnancy? My husband just got home from being out of town for eight days and is being a rockstar at accommodating my nesting.     And a bunch of other things I'm forgetting to mention but that I'm truly thankful for in my heart.

Complaints: I have to pee all the time, especially throughout the middle of the night.  I still have food aversions, nothing really sounds good most of the time.  My back still bothers me a lot on my more physical days.  I am extremely clumsy, dropping things and breaking things and stubbing my toe all the time.  It's so. friggin. hot.   There aren't enough hours (or energy) in the day to do everything that I want to do.  We still don't have a name picked out (for reals) -- we have handfuls candidates but not one that we are totally sold on (honest).   I've got me some mega stretch marks on my stomach, all in the last week.  That's about it for complaints.  Not tooooooo bad, right?

Birth Plans:  We've got a final "To Do Before Baby" list that's kind of guiding our free time and our decisions.  We've met with our doula and are starting to talk about birth again.  Although I've delivered there once before, we've decided to tour the hospital another time. I am hoping that this will mentally gear me up for the labor and birth I hope to have this time around, since last time I ended up having the surgery and it was all such a blur.  My biggest fear right now is that I will have to have another cesarean section.  Please, God, not another C section.  I try not to think about it too much. We're packing our "go bags" this week.

Anticipation:  My arms are getting antsy to hold the soft squishy grunting nursling that's been occupying my uterus since last winter.  I'm getting really really excited to meet her.  What is she going to look like? Is she going to be as feisty as she's been in my tummy? Are we going to rock at breast feeding?  How big is she?  What's her name?  How is Penny going to respond to having her around?  So much to look forward to!

No, I'm not ready.  I get asked if I am [ready] at least once a day.  But it's coming!!

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Saturday, August 2, 2014

Back in the Finances Saddle

This month marks some small victorious hope in our house, as Dan and I have prepared a zero-based budget for ourselves [again].

You might remember we took Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University at our church about a year and a half ago, and afterward, using the "baby steps" and the "debt snowball," we paid off two student loans and one car, making us debt-free-except-the house right before I quit my job last October.



After that, we struggled to get our groove on with cash versus debit cards, juggling wants versus needs, and taking the time to sit down and actually DO the budget every month... So we completely fell off the wagon.

Now Murphy's Law has proven true in our home (read: dishwasher, garbage disposal, television, and washing machine all went out within one month of one another... right after we'd just invested in new carpet for the whole house and a new lens for my photography business.... and I'm due with another baby).

So the "hey we really should to start budgeting again" notion turned to "ummmm yeah our savings is like, way down, we can't spend like this any more."

A couple weeks ago, we finally sat down together [for four hours], revisited our finances and built a budget looking ahead for August.  Today I filled our cash envelopes for the month.  Tomorrow I go back out into the world after my affliction with and recovery from the most-violent stomach flu ever (why I'm already two days behind plan!) and might actually have to spend some money using our new budget system.

Please send positive thoughts our way this month.  This is not an easy thing for either one of us, with our different money personalities and all the stress and anticipation in our lives right now.

Along these lines, I'm sending you over to Dave Ramsey's blog and a list of get-out-of-debt success stories in case you too have been on the fence or needing some personal finance encouragement (or a kick in the pants) like us.

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Friday, August 1, 2014

Five Things I Couldn't Live Without: 18-24 months old

1. Washable Crayons / Off-brand Coloring Books
Penny took to "drawing" or "coloring" somewhere between her first and second birthday (is it bad I can't remember?).  At this age they go through pages in a coloring book like I go through M&M's, so fancy activity books or name-brand coloring books are a waste of money IMO.  I say get a variety of cheap ones and let them scribble.  Did someone say dollar-store three-packs?  This is one of my favorite things to sit down and do with Penny.  We use our imagination, talk about our colors and animals, all the while secretly working on sitting still and having quiet time.   Make sure you supervise because crayons are sooooo tempting to chew.

2. CamelBak (non)Sippy Cup
The eddy™ Kids .4L Bottle to be specific.  We have three.  After endless battles with different cheap sippy cups, straws, suckies, intro-drinking-cups, this is the ONLY cup that I like for this age.  It's the quality you would expect from the Camelbak brand, and also not a hassle to clean, and very durable.  You can order them on Amazon, and extra bite valves too.  It says age 3+ but we started using them at the recommendation of a friend when PJ was about 19 months, and I've never turned back.

3. innovativeKids Green Start Book Towers: 10 Chunky Books
Penny got the Nursery Rhyme box as a gift for her first birthday, and we have probably gotten more mileage out of these little chunky books than anything else in her library.  She can read recite all ten of them by herself.  They are indestructible and nice and simple.   And I love how she also puts them away back in their (recycled material) tower box to keep them all together.  GREAT gift.  Do a web search for "Green Start Book Towers" to find all the online vendors that carry them.  I think you can also buy them in-store at Barnes & Noble.

4. Super Why
Move over George, this is my new favorite show for Penny.  As much as I don't like most things about our government, The US Department of Education kind of nailed it with this one.  On the show, the "Super Readers" jump into books and use their super powers of reading, spelling, rhyming and the alphabet to solve kid-relevant problems.  Penny LOVES it, and before age two, could say the whole alphabet and identify almost every letter in writing, even knowing some of the sounds that letters make.  Early reading prowess is not necessarily a parenting goal of mine (I'd much rather work on character and manners than academics) but I do think it's pretty awesome that my little one is so into letters and words and books already, and I definitely give some of the credit to this show (plus the fact that someone reads to her every night).  You can watch full episodes of this show on Netflix or Youtube, or it airs on PBS Kids.

5. Joy brand 42-count Mini Cup ice cream cones
We love ice cream in our house.  Especially me, pregnant, in the Arizona summer.  We eat ice cream a lot.  These tiny ice cream cones make an early-toddler feel like they scored big time and got their very own ice cream cone... when really you are only giving them, like, 2 Tbsp of the frozen stuff on top of a 15-calorie cone just the right size for her little hands.  I eat them too for a craving; little cones enable Penny and me to indulge on a regular basis without over-stuffing our faces or getting tummy aches.  They also taste delicious, and I kind of love that this company has been in business since 1918!  Locally here in Gilbert, I get them at Fry's Marketplace.

There's more where this came from... Five Things I Can't Live Without:

Nobody paid me or gave me anything for free... I wrote about this stuff on my own volition because I couldn't live without it!

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