Monday, February 27, 2017

Little passports world edition subscription.

We recently ordered a 3-month subscription to Little Passports World Edition for our 5 1/2-year-old, as she's currently learning all about the countries around the world in kindergarten this year. Linna loved the Early Explorers kit we got her a few years ago when we lived in Singapore. If you've ever wondered what's inside the Little Passports World Edition monthly packages, here's our 5 1/2-year-old showing you what they're all about...

(Linna opening the first month's package, which is the Explorer Kit)

(Mama Saigh showing a little bit more of the Explorer Kit)

(Linna opening the second month's package, which was all about Brazil)

The third month's package was all about Japan! Linna loved the origami kit,
as well as the little sushi eraser.

Filling her passport with each country's stamp is one thing our 5 1/2-year-old loves
doing each month. I personally like the tiny push-pin stickers that we can put on her
big world map, so she can see the location of each county that we learn about every month.
If you're looking to try Little Passports for yourself, I'd recommend starting with a 3-month subscription for your child's age group. I think we're going to give the Science Expedition subscription next, as Linna is really into anything experimental (mixing, testing, measuring, etc.). We'll let you know what we think! Through March 31st, 2017, you can get $15 OFF any 12-month subscription, using the code LEARN15.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Baby jimmy: 15 months.

Our little man is 15 months old already.

Jimmy is walking everywhere (almost running), and is always trying to keep up with his big sister.

His language and speaking are also developing pretty quickly.

Currently, he's saying "boos" (shoes), Bompa, Papa, Mama, Nana, "Nin-Nah" (Linna), "mah" (more), "nah" (no), "Nugs" (Snugs - his blanket), "dah" (that), "drah" (drop), ball, wow, and woah.

Just a couple days ago, he said his first descriptive word-combo: "blue ball". Jimmy was actually falling asleep in his highchair while eating dinner, when he suddenly woke up and blurted the words out, like they had been on the tip of his tongue for days.

It was adorable. And I love his little voice.

(Jimmy saying "blue ball")

(Jimmy saying "Bompa" - My dad's name)

Jimmy is obsessed with his big sister, and follows Linna everywhere. We are regularly going to the gym during the week while Linna is at school, so he has other little friends to play with in the gym's daycare (and Mama gets a break!). His face lights up when we pick Linna up from school every afternoon.

Jimmy loves his big sister's hand-me-downs!

Jimmy looks like he's 3 years old in this picture.

Recently, Jimmy has started to cry when he sees men that he doesn't know. If we're out and about, and a dude says "hi" to Jimmy, he gets super upset. The only men he "likes" are my dad ("Bompa"), Papa Saigh's dad ("PeePaw"), Papa Saigh, my brother (and that's hit-or-miss), and the guy that works in our gym's daycare center. We're working on this, as well as getting Jimmy to use his words, instead of whining. Always a fun struggle. Jimmy is starting to understand the word "no", and is very good about listening when I tell him "no". Sometimes he tests the waters, but he's starting to point to things that he knows he's not supposed to touch, and says "nah" while shaking his head. He's also very good about saying "nah" and shaking his head when he doesn't want something.

Linna (age 5), and Jimmy (14 months old) in the tub.

Happy hour at the Saigh household.

When Jimmy gets mad... he's MAD. And his cry is piercing. I don't know what it is about his scream, but it really affects his big sister (she gets upset when Jimmy gets upset), and it seriously like shakes my nervous system. I don't know if his cry is just super loud, but it's honestly jolting. His infectious smile and laugh make up for it though. He still has a gap-tooth grin... And I love it. My favorite is when I ask him to "give mama kisses", and he smiles from ear-to-ear, leans in and lets me kiss his face.

Jimmy loves climbing up stairs, and recently learned how to get off of a step carefully, by going down on his butt. A few weeks ago at the gym, I walked into the daycare center to pick Jimmy up, and found him climbing up a slide ladder all by himself. He has NO fear. He also loves balls, and gets so excited when he sees anything round. He also has quite the arm, and can throw, bounce, and kick a ball like a grown man. If you see Baby Jimmy out and about, chances are he'll be carrying around some type of ball.

(Jimmy dribbling a basketball at the gym)

His favorite foods are avocado, veggie straws, any fruit, spinach tortellini, beans, hot dogs, carrot straws, edamame, frozen peas, Z Bars, mac n' cheese, oranges, cheese sticks, and yogurt. He hates being spoon-fed (wants to do it himself). Jimmy drinks water, juice and milk from a sippy-cup, and gets an 8 oz. bottle of milk at night before bed. He's sleeping from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. (with a 3 a.m. laughing/talking "party" in his crib every now and then - so annoying), and is pretty much taking one nap a day around 10:30 a.m., lasting anywhere from 1.5 to 3 hours. He's at that point where he still could be taking 2 naps a day, but then it's hard getting him to sleep 12 hours at night. He is exhausted by 5 p.m. when he takes one nap a day, and passes out with no struggle by 6 p.m. He also pees a LOT at night, so we sneak a nighttime diaper on him at 10 p.m. each night.

Linna is so protective over her little brother. Jimmy LOVES being outside!

Time is flying by way too fast, and I have a hard time watching Jimmy grow into a "big boy". I feel like he was just a baby, and now my baby is turning into this independent little dude. "Baby Fever" is in full swing for Mama Saigh, but Papa Saigh says we're "done". I think Baby Jimmy needs the chance to be a big brother... Am I right?! :)

We love you, baby boy!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Children's theatre company: Dr. seuss' the sneetches the musical.

If you get the chance, take your kiddos to The Children's Theatre Company's Dr. Seuss' The Sneetches the Musical, before it sells out! We went to the 2 p.m. show this past Sunday, and couldn't help but give the cast and crew a standing ovation. Tickets start at $15, and the show runs through March 26th, 2017. Here our 5 1/2-year-old's (and Mama Saigh's) review of the show...

Friday, February 10, 2017

DIY with mama saigh: Candy-free valentines.

Today, I was on The Jason Show with some candy-free Valentines that you can make for, and/or with your kids! Don't get me wrong, I love a little candy on basically any holiday, and Valentine's Day is no exception. But let's be honest, when your child has over a dozen kids in his or her class, all that candy can lead to sugar highs, crazy meltdowns, and tummy aches. Here are four fun ways to celebrate Valentine's Day with your child, while avoiding the candy "hangover".

1. "You're Stinkin' Cute" Poo-PlayDough Valentines

If you have a "poop obsessed" kid like our 5-year-old, they'll love these Poo PlayDough Valentines that you can make at home! Here's what you'll need...

Poo PlayDough Recipe: 2 cups flour, 1 cup water, 1 cup salt, and brown food coloring. Mix, then knead all ingredients together. Store in an air-tight container to prevent the PlayDough from drying out.

I found some bead containers at my local Jo-Ann Fabric & Craft Store, and used them to store individual-sized balls of the Poo PlayDough. I used a Sharpie to write "You're Stinkin' Cute" on Valentine labels, and stuck a felt heart on top of the individual containers. Our kindergartner will pass these out to her classmates on Valentine's Day at school. This is a super easy and fun (and a little silly!) DIY project that the whole family can help with!

2. Love Robots

I picked up everything I needed for this project at Target. I used small boxes of raisins for the feet, a juice box for the body, and a fruit cup for the robot's head. I secured the pieces together with clear masking tape. I simply ran a black pipe-cleaner behind the juice box, between the box and the plastic-covered straw, to create the robot's arms. I secured the arms to the front of the robot's body with a felt heart-sticker, and then glued googly eyes on the fruit cup. This would be a sweet surprise for your kiddo's school lunch box on Valentine's Day!

3. "You're My Main Squeeze" Valentines

Not only are these Valentines creative, but they are nutritious and beyond easy to put together. Having a 5-year-old and a 1-year-old, disposable fruit and veggie pouches have become a staple in our home. Our kids have at least a couple packs a day. For this Valentine idea, you can either have your kids make their own "You're My Main Squeeze" tag to place over a disposable fruit/veggie pouch, or let GoGo Squeez do the work for you. I picked up a few cases of GoGo Squeeze fruit/veggie, applesauce, and yogurt pouches at Target, because they already had the word "Squeez" on it. Then, I printed off the Valentine covers that our kids could color themselves, from the GoGo Squeez website. This is a great way for your kids to include a nutritious snack with a fun Valentine for their friends!

4. Read a Book About Love to Your Child's Class

Whenever I show up in our kindergartner's classroom, her face lights up, and she LOVES the special attention. Reading a book to your child's class doesn't cost a dime, and will have your kiddo feeling super special... Especially on Valentine's Day. Here are a few of our favorite children's books about "love"...

Love Monster
What I Love About You
I Love You Already
Pete the Cat's Groovy Guide to Love
Foxy in Love
Little Critter: Just a Little Love

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

3 things to consider before committing to chinese immersion.

First of all, I have no regrets about putting our 5-year-old in the Minnetonka public schools' Chinese Immersion program. We chose to enroll our daughter in Chinese Immersion when she started kindergarten last fall, after living abroad in Asia for 3 years. We open-enrolled Linna in Minnetonka's fantastic public school system (we live in Victoria), and she loves going to school each day. There are, however, a few things I wish I would have known, or done more research on, in order to better prepare our family for the commitment associated with a language-immersion program. If you're considering language immersion for you child, I'm hoping our experiences will help you in your decision making.

(5-year-old Linna saying the Pledge of Allegiance in Mandarin Chinese)

1. ENGLISH READING ISN'T TAUGHT UNTIL 3RD GRADE: I will admit that while I knew English reading wasn't a heavy focus in the Chinese Immersion program, I just recently found out that it isn't even taught until 3rd grade. This honestly came as a HUGE shocker (it is, however, highlighted on the Minnetonka Public Schools' website). I only discovered this information after I noticed Linna struggling to read simple words in our bedtime storybooks each night. So, I contacted her teacher to see if Linna was also struggling to read at school, and was told that they don't teach English reading in Chinese Immersion until the 3rd grade. At every information session, as well as kindergarten orientation, the "parents' commitment to English reading at home, every day for at least 20 minutes", was strongly reinforced. Now, I know why.

2-year-old Linna on her first day at Pasir PanjangChurch Hill Nursery School in Singapore

2. CHINESE IMMERSION IS A MAJOR COMMITMENT: This commitment begins in kindergarten. A student can't enroll in the Chinese Immersion program after kindergarten. While any parent can make the decision to remove their child from Chinese Immersion, it's a decision that is discouraged, and a decision that comes with consequences (specifically, the strong possibility of the student having to play "catch up" in school).

3-year-old Linna on her first day at Dulwich College
(British Chinese-Immersion school) in Singapore
3. DO WHAT IS BEST FOR YOUR CHILD: Some parents can be very competitive when it comes to their child/children. And, while we try our best not to, I'm guilty of "comparing" my children to other children their age. In my opinion, enrolling your child in a Chinese Immersion program simply because "'Sam Jones' child does it", might not be in the best interest of YOUR child. While it may seem like there's a growing number of parents enrolling their children in a language immersion program, Chinese Immersion isn't for everyone. Does your child have the discipline and focus to learn almost exclusively in a second language? For us, we only considered Chinese Immersion because Linna had been exposed to the Chinese language and culture in Singapore from age 1 to 4 (she attended Pasir Panjang Church Hill Nursery and Dulwich College in Singapore). Also, Linna is considered a "young" kindergartner (late summer birthday). However, she was also very ready for kindergarten the year she turned 5, because we had her in half-day school from age 3 to 4 in Singapore, and preschool for 3 hours a day in Minnesota at age 4. While parents can't know for sure how their kindergartners will actually settle into full-day kindergarten, parents need to make the program choice that is in the best interest of each individual child.

(2-year-old Linna singing "Twinkle Twinkle" in Mandarin Chinese in Singapore)

So, you may be wondering if we will enroll Jimmy in Chinese Immersion when he starts kindergarten. Well, right now our answer is "yes". Jimmy's older sister is exposing him to the Chinese language at home, he's in Linna's classroom with me quite often, and we'll continue to expose him to the Chinese language and culture as we participate in Chinese school events, as well as other cultural experiences in the community. However, if Jimmy isn't ready, or doesn't seem interested in learning a second language, we'll reconsider our current plan for him.

Summer Day-Camp in Minnetonka)

* I'm NOT a language-immersion expert, but I am the parent of a 5 and 1-year-old. The thoughts expressed in this blog post are my own.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

GIVEAWAY: Pinwheel play in chanhassen.


To enter for your chance to win a one-month, unlimited, play-pass to Pinwheel Play in Chanhassen, simply "like" Pinwheel Play, and Minnesota Baby on Facebook, and "share" our Pinwheel Giveaway post with your Facebook friends. One person will be randomly selected to win a one-month unlimited play-pass to Pinwheel Play. All entries must be received by 8 p.m. on Sunday, February 12th, 2017 (CST). Good luck!

Last month, the kids and I were invited to check out a new indoor play-area in Chanhassen, and we decided to bring a few friends from the kindergartner's class along with us. Pinwheel Play is an unstaffed, modern, indoor play-area, for children under the age of 6. It is specifically designed for young children, with a separate area for the tiniest littles, and it's similar to an "Anytime Fitness" type concept.

(14-month-old Jimmy walking up and down stairs at Pinwheel Play)

The first thing I noticed when we walked in the door, was that this place looked and smelled CLEAN! I wasn't hit with an overwhelming scent of bleach, or harsh cleaning chemicals... It just smelled fresh (not even the slightest hint of a "dirty diaper" smell you often find at other indoor play-areas). We entered our access code that we received before our visit, and we were ready to play!

When you walk in, you'll notice a clean and open eating-area, with snacks available for purchase, off to the left (you can bring your own nut-free food as well), and cubbies for shoes and belongings off to the right. There's a sports field enclosed by a large net, with balls, hoops, soccer nets, balance beams, and other sports equipment that are the PERFECT size for little ones. Next to the sport court are a couple small climbing areas that our one-year-old was obsessed with, and they were JUST his size. Jimmy is 14 months old, and he actually learned how to walk up and down stairs while using the equipment during our visit. The older kids (5 and 6-year-olds) played on the larger Cedarworks play-equipment, and spent some time playing in the child-size kitchen area and grocery store.

Infant area

Interactive-play room

The arts & crafts room at Pinwheel is simply amazing, and a big reason why our 5-year-old wants to make another visit. It has an entire wall of bins filled with arts & craft supplies, and there's a new craft project (with instructions) for kids to complete each week. This room makes Pinwheel special, and different than other indoor play-areas that you'll find in the Twin Cities.

Pinwheel also has a dress-up area and a little performance stage, a digital interactive-playground room (our kids played an interactive game of soccer during our visit), big-kid room (when parties aren't in session), magnetic wall, fairy doors, nursing area, and so much more. While we didn't discover it until we were getting ready to leave, there's also an alphabet scavenger hunt spread throughout the facility. The school friends who joined us during our visit, actually ended up staying for an hour after we left because the kindergartners were so excited about the scavenger hunt!

Alphabet scavenger hunt

Baby Jimmy pushing the shopping cart around Pinwheel Play

Dress-up area

While Pinwheel is definitely perfect for infants up to age 4, our 5 and 6 years olds enjoyed their visit as well. It's a great place to go when your kids just aren't quite ready for the crazy/loud indoor play-areas meant for older kids. If you have older kids visiting Pinwheel Play, I think it's important and respectful to remind them to be aware of the little kids in the play areas. Jimmy (14 months) had a blast exploring and testing his climbing skills, and I will absolutely bring him back while our 5-year-old is at school. The owner of Pinwheel (Lisa) couldn't have been sweeter, and she has created a wonderful, safe, and clean play-space for the littles of the Twin Cities!

Pinwheel Play

1256 Park Road in Chanhassen, MN
Open Mon - Sun (including holidays), 7 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Admission: $8.50 (children over age 1 - adults w/child are free)