Gift Guide: Toddlers

I've been getting a lot of questions lately about which gifts we gave Noam for his second birthday. So I decided to put together a quick gift guide of some of my favorite gifts for toddlers.

I hope you enjoy and find some inspiration below. And, if I missed any of your favorite gifts for toddlers, let me know in the comments below!

Wonderbly. Formerly known as Lost My Name, Wonderbly makes adorable, personalized books for babies, toddlers and kids. I just love how playful the illustrations are and how sweet a gift a personalized book is. The Birthday Thief is a perfect birthday present, and we love Kingdom of You

Tegu blocks. These magnetic blocks are awesome. They're a little pricey, but they come in smaller sets that are perfect for travel and they provide endless free play opportunities. We love the Stunt collection, which includes sets to build this car or this helicopter.

Books. You can't go wrong with books - they're always the perfect gift. One of my favorite online shops, Bitte, has one of the best collections of books out there. 

Jigsaw puzzles. Noam has quickly outgrown all of the chunky puzzles I had for him, so I knew it was time to upgrade our puzzles to the next step. Petit Collage has some really great beginner jigsaw puzzles that I just love. I also love these stick puzzles and pouch puzzles from MudPuppy, and these fun self-correcting puzzles from Melissa and Doug.

Seedling toys. A few months ago, I discovered (and quickly fell in love with) Seedling on Bitte. That was the very moment I started shopping for Noam's birthday presents. I bought the Farmer's Market and Under the Sea puppet playtime kits, and then bought this amazing adventure cape costume kit. These were definitely the biggest hit with Noam, and I love how beautifully and thoughtfully made they are.

Little Sapling Toys growth chart. If you've followed me on Instagram or read here before, you know I absolutely love Little Sapling Toys. And I'm obsessed with this super sweet growth chart. Maybe this is a little more for parents than kids, but I'm sure they'll appreciate the sentiment of this heirloom-quality gift. Some other LST favorites are: the blocks, cars and trucks, and cobbler's hammer bench.

Holtztiger toys. I've loved these Holtztiger wooden animal toys for a long time and, every so often, I expand the collection to include more animals. They're some of Noam's absolute favorite toys, and I know we'll treasure them for generations to come.

Pretend play. Toddlers love to engage in imaginative play. Now, you don't need to buy anything for them to do so - boxes and paper towel rolls can be some of the best toys - but there are some really sweet toys out there, if you do decide to pick something up. I absolutely love this Doctor On-Call kit from Hape and this workbench from Land of Nod. I also love this Melissa and Doug wooden cookie set, this wooden tool box and this beautiful carry home doll house.

Wooden puzzles. This year's gifts basically centered around books and puzzles, two open-ended, educational and fun types of entertainment that keeps Noam engaged for tens of minutes (hah). I love wooden puzzles because they last a long time, are eco-friendly (no plastic filling up landfills) and are heirloom-quality that can be passed from generation to generation. We were gifted this gorgeous moon phase puzzle, and we absolutely love it. (Not a puzzle, but I absolutely love this wooden name tracing toy from the same shop.) Some of my other favorite shops that make gorgeous wooden puzzles include Smiling Tree Toys, Little Wooden Wonders, The Wood Pecker Factory, and The Wandering Workshop.

Outdoor Toys. If you're looking for a bigger present, I think 2 is the perfect age to (carefully) introduce a scooter or trike. We got Noam the Micro Mini Deluxe Scooter and he loves it so much. Noam also received this Radio Flyer classic red tricycle, which is super sweet. And, don't forget a helmet! I love this one from Joovy.

Noam's 2nd Birthday Party

On Saturday, we celebrated Noam's second birthday with a 'balloons and bubbles brunch' birthday party. We invited family and a few close friends and enjoyed a mid-morning brunch in our home surrounded by balloons, and it was just perfect. 

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I am lucky enough to have a friend, Evian Granitz, (and Noam is lucky enough to have her son as a friend) who is an incredible photographer who, to my surprise, took some photos during our get-together. I couldn't have asked for a better gift than to have these gorgeous photos celebrating our sweet babe while they were here celebrating with us. 

I tried to keep decorations simple (though I learned I have a difficult time keeping anything simple or casual), and just hung up lots of balloons in bunches to look like bubbles. I got a few awesome balloon words like CHEERS and 'party' from the dollar spot at Target and hung them up, too. And then I blew up lots of balloons to float and sit in the living room.

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I decided to do a brunch because 1. we love breakfast foods and 2. the timing made the most sense given Noam's typical nap time in the early afternoon. I scoured Pinterest and brainstormed during naps to come up with the menu. It consisted of some classic brunch foods and then some typical brunch foods reimagined for single-serve. 

Our brunch menu included mini pancake stacks, french toast dippers, asparagus and spinach quiches, croissants, maple chicken sausage wrapped in croissants and fruit, yogurt and granola parfaits. For favors, I packed up fleur de sel caramels in my favorite glass jars. Between us: most of the food (except for the baked goods that I made) was from Trader Joe's that was super simple to prepare!

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For desserts, I made two small vanilla layer cakes with whipped vanilla frosting - one for party guests and one for Noam to eat (or play with). I also made french toast-inspired cupcakes for everyone to enjoy, which were maple cinnamon cupcakes with maple buttercream frosting and candied bacon on top. I think those were the biggest hit at the party!

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Noam wasn't too sure about the sparkler birthday candle I placed in his cake, but he thoroughly enjoyed eating the icing off of the top of it. 

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Throughout the party, we enjoyed all of the babies playing with the balloons and toys throughout the house and ventured into the backyard for some fun and photos. We were even able to get a photo of all of the kiddos together (and mostly still) on the couch by singing 'Happy Birthday!'

The day celebrating Noam - and us as parents - was absolutely perfect. I couldn't be more grateful to be this babe's mom and share in all of the joys of childhood with him.

Birthdays are a big deal to me - we are not guaranteed our next one, just as we are not guaranteed our next day - and each one that we reach is a milestone and a huge reason to celebrate. 

Happy birthday, my sweet little Noam! To many, many more birthdays to come!

Noam's 2-year Update

This past week has been incredible. It's really difficult to believe my little baby - the one I swore I just delivered like, last month, is already two years old. But, as tough as it has been to let that sink in, Noam's birthday has brought so much happiness and excitement and joy to our family. This past week was full of celebration and family and friends and love and exciting new adventures, and I couldn't be happier about that. 

This will be the final monthly/quarterly update I do for Noam, so here goes. 

Photo by Victoria Gloria.

Photo by Victoria Gloria.

Basic Stats

We just visited the pediatrician this morning for Noam's 2-year checkup, and found that he's 27 pounds (25-50%) and 36 (75-90%) inches tall. He's in 18-24m and 2T clothing, wears a size 5 diaper and a size 7 (nearing size 8) shoe. 

Eating

Thinking about this and writing it out now, it seems so silly to me that we as moms and parents become so preoccupied with food. I don't know what it is about eating (the preoccupation with having 'good' eaters) and why we worry so much (we are hard-wired to worry, I know). I've gone through stages - much like Noam has - where I am concerned about how he's eating and then I'm relaxed about how he's eating. But, at the end of the day, all of that worrying was for nothing. Sure, Noam can be - let's say discerning - with his food choices. Toddlers often fear new things, and food is no exception. It's a survival mechanism. 

So, here's my point: if you read back about Noam's eating habits, you'll see we've gone through the typical food challenges with him. I just wish I had known how typical they were. 

Now, Noam's a great eater. He's not a big eater and he can still be choosey (as we all can be), but he loves to enjoy his meals, has his favorite foods and eats a well-balanced, rounded diet. His favorite foods are mac and cheese (which he requests almost every day), green smoothies, grapes, watermelon, cheese, chicken, cottage cheese, guacamole, beans and hummus. 

Sleeping

Two months ago, I night-weaned Noam. The whys and hows I'll save for another, much longer post that I promise I'll get to soon. But the most important part of the night-weaning process is this: Noam, at 22 months, was ready. Since we night-weaned, not every night has been great. Some nights, he still wakes up a few times a night. Some nights, he still asks for milk at night. But, overall, we're both getting a lot more sleep now that he's night-weaned.

He typically goes to bed around 9 or 9:30 and wakes up around 8 for the day. As far as naps, it can range a little but most often, he naps from about 1-3pm, though he's had naps as late as 2:30-6pm and as early as 11am-1pm. 

Activity & Development

There is so much to talk about here. Since I haven't been doing regular monthly updates lately, I'll just focus on some of the new things he's been doing in the last few weeks. Noam is regularly speaking 4- and 5-word sentences, singing songs (he loves 'Row, Row, Row Your Boat,' 'Rain, Rain Go Away,' and the entire Moana soundtrack), he really engages in imaginative, creative play with his play food, animals and other objects and loves to pretend that he is on the phone.

He identifies colors and shapes, animal sounds and every object he sees, and he can count to somewhere between 22 and 24 with only a few numbers out of place. He loves to "paint" (which means any type of coloring) and play with stickers, and he absolutely loves to watch the boats, ducks and geese along the waterfront here in Hoboken. He has a few very close friends whom he loves so much, and it's been really special witnessing the bonds they've created and how they've deepened over the past few months and year.

He's been attending a 2-hour drop-off program for the last couple of months and he absolutely loves it. I rarely get a 'goodbye' because, as soon as I drop him off, he's immediately engaged in the space around him. 

Photo by Victoria Gloria.

Photo by Victoria Gloria.

Personality

Noam is legitimately one of the sweetest people I've ever met. He is empathetic, giving, kind and nurturing. He is independent and creative and funny. Sometimes I feel like he's in on a joke that we just don't get yet. He's a mama's boy through and through, and loves playing with his daddy. He supplies endless hugs and kisses and hand-holds that just fill me to the brim with joy and pride.

Minted Art Picks: Round 1

As you may know, we recently gut renovated our 1850 brownstone. We moved in at the end of December, and I've been decorating (and redecorating) ever since. I occasionally share snapshots of my progress on Instagram (like here, here, here, here, here and here). And I plan to do a big reveal of the entire house here once I can get around to photographing everything (get my act together). 

I regularly receive messages asking about our home - which fixtures and materials and paint colors I used - and I'm always happy to answer them! (And the posts I share here once I have everything photographed will have sources for everything,) But one question I am asked constantly is about the art I've chosen. 

So, I figured, maybe I should put together a post about my favorite art picks. And I did just that. Here's round 1: pieces that I'd put in living spaces, kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms. I'll follow up this post with a second round with some more pieces I like for kids' rooms and playrooms, and probably do another roundup as I discover more pieces I like.

My absolute favorite site for art is Minted. I just don't think it can be beat. It has an incredible selection, is affordable, has great return policies and customer service and - my favorite part - it offers framing, so you can get all your art needs met in one fell swoop. 

I've used Minted a ton in the last few months to select art pieces and frame them, so I've spent more time than I care to admit on the site. I've poured over thousands of pieces of art and have rounded up my favorites here (along with my choice of frame) in three sections - soft, nature-inspired paintings, crisp & calm photographs and dark & organic pieces. I hope you enjoy!

 

 

Gift Guide: Father's Day

I can't believe how long it's been since I've blogged regularly. I started taking a course to become a Certified Lactation Educator (which finishes up next week and which I'm excited to share more about soon!) and I relaunched Riles and Co., and both of those things have been taking up all of the free time I've had lately. 

I totally dropped the ball on my Mother's Day gift guide, but here I am with a Father's Day guide that I hope will make up for it! With less than a week away, a lot of these can still be purchased to arrive in time. Happy Father's Day!

Mark and Graham Prospect tech pouch. If he's anything like my husband, he kind of just throws everything into one large bag. Help him organize in style with this pouch (I kind of want one, too). And use code LOVEDAD for 20% off!

Tosan Knows Best tees. How sweet are these coordinating daddy/kid tees? I love them so much. But you really can't go wrong with anything on this site - browse the Father's Day section for especially perfect picks.

Warby Parker sunglasses. Practical, stylish and necessary for those super sunny park days.

Everlane backpack. This bag is perfect for all the things that dad needs to carry - on- and off-duty.

Quip toothbrush. Okay, a toothbrush might seem weird (though there's nothing weird about keeping your mouth healthy), but this is a super cool service. Think Harry's for toothbrushes.

Nespresso Breville Creatista Plus. I can personally vouch for the awesomeness of this coffee machine. It makes a perfect latte, and you might just benefit from this gift, too!

Canon G9X. Capturing photos is always a good idea. This point-and-shoot is high-quality, sexy (can I call a camera sexy?) and affordable.

Bose noise-cancelling headphones. Okay, I'll be honest. This gift guide is heavily-inspired by my husband. He absolutely loves these and uses them when he works to get in the zone. 

Bevel shave kit. A kind of modern take on The Art of Shaving and available at Target, no less!

This is for them.

Yesterday, the US president announced that he would withdraw from the Paris Agreement, an agreement made to limit and reduce carbon emissions among every single country in the world with the exception of Nicaragua (who didn't agree because it thought the agreement didn't do enough) and Syria (who is in the middle of a deadly civil war). 

My personal views aside (though I could go on and on about them) - not limiting or reducing our carbon emissions is objectively detrimental to our planet, to our population and to our children and their future. 

While this decision is a huge disappointment, it does not mean that we as citizens cannot reduce our carbon emissions and the impact we have on this planet. In fact, it means that we must now be more vigilant than ever to do so.

But it's not just about what we do. It's about what we teach them. 

I've rounded up some of my favorite books to teach our children - even from a young age - about our planet, nature and the animals and plants that make this world an incredible, beautiful, magical one to inhabit. This world is for them - let's make sure they know.

(If I've missed some of your favorites, please let me know in the comments!)

Noam's 21 Month Update

Well, here we are again. I know it's been a while since I last posted. I started taking an online course to become a Certified Lactation Educator and I relaunched my business, Riles and Co., so between learning about how our bodies make milk and pouring candles, this blog got pushed to the back back burner. (I'm hoping to be able to focus on it again soon, so please stay with me!)

Anyway, here's how Noam's doing this month!

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Basic Stats

Noam's probably around 27 or 28 pounds and seems to be getting taller by the day, but I don't have an exact measurement. (I'll update when I do.) He's wearing a mix of 18-24m and 2T clothing and is just about to outgrow his size 6 shoes. His hair is growing more and more everyday and is almost my exact hair color and type, with the exception of a few perfect curls at the nape of his neck that I've resolved to never, ever cut (for now). 

Eating

If you've been reading and following me for a while, you know eating is something we've sort of struggled to handle. For a long time, Noam ate very little solid food. Some days, he'd eat a few blueberries and maybe some yogurt. Some days, he'd only play with his food and throw it on the floor for the dogs to consume. (Other days, he'd eat very well, which made it confusing for me to figure out what exactly was going on.) It was frustrating and stressful and caused me a lot of anxiety for every mealtime. I worried that, as he became more active, he'd lose weight. (He did not.) But that's why, it's extremely relieving to know (or at least, think?) we've rounded a corner in the past few months. Noam now eats pretty well (for a toddler) - good quantities, a variety of things and is occasionally willing to try something new (gasp!). His favorite foods are mandarins, grapes, raisins, pasta, cheese, eggs, smoothies (where I load up on veggies), and applesauce. His definitely a fan of fruits, and I'm working on getting more veggies into him (right now, they make their way into smoothies, applesauce and mixed in with pasta - taking any and all suggestions for more creative veggie consumption!). 

Noam also continues to nurse on demand, which some days will be 4 or 5 times and some days will be approximately 7,000 times. He nurses through the night, as well. The way he says 'milky' (and sometimes tacks on 'pees') when he asks to nurse is the sweetest thing, and will never get old to me.  

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Sleeping

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that for the first year or so of Noam's life, he would nap only in my arms. It was exhausting at times, but those snuggles meant more to me than any pile of laundry or dishes I would've done in that time. He very rarely falls asleep in my arms anymore, and I wouldn't trade those hundreds - maybe thousands - of hours for anything at this point. Noam now wakes up around 8am, naps by himself in bed for 2-3 hours (typically 1ish to 3ish) and goes to sleep at night around 9:30pm. He's always put himself on a later schedule, and we just follow his lead. 

He nurses a few times throughout the night, but he's in bed with us and doesn't stir to do so, so no one wakes up from it (including him). While bed-sharing definitely isn't for everyone, it's been such an incredible thing for us. 

Activity & Development

There is so much to say here. But in the interest of brevity, I'll just share what comes to mind immediately. 

Noam is becoming such an incredibly curious, smart, funny, happy little boy, and it makes toddlerhood, I think, the best stage yet with him. He loves to sing (his favorites are the ABCs, Twinkle, Twinkle, Row, Row, Row Your Boat, The Wheels on the Bus, and the Itsy Bitsy Spider) and dance, jump and climb, blow bubbles, play with his cars and kitchen, stack blocks, watch the birdies and duckies and goosies and boats on the river, help feed the dogs, brush his teeth and hair, take walks, paint, and, last but definitely most important, read books. Books are just about his favorite thing, and we'll go through a stack of 20 or 30 a day. (I'm always looking for more book recommendations, too!) He's such an active toddler, that keeping up with him is exhilarating and exhausting. 

In addition to being active, Noam loves to talk, and his vocabulary continues to shock me every day. It is incredible the words he knows and things he identifies. I kind of stopped counting, but he's got between 100-150 words and is picking up new words every day. He's even begun stringing 2, 3 and 4 word sentences together, which are actually shocking to hear (I still see my tiny baby, and tiny talking babies don't exist). 

Personality

Noam's just about the most fun I could've - no, he's definitely more fun than I ever - imagined, and I think the 'heart of gold' expression has never made more sense to me. He's independent and strong-willed, sensitive and empathetic, curious and creative. He loves to learn and explore new things, and he's constantly observing and taking in the world around him in the most genuinely beautiful way. 

One of the greatest joys of motherhood has been watching Noam develop into the person he is becoming, and I couldn't be prouder of or more excited for who that is. While every stage so far has had its challenges, they've each had incredible gifts, and I feel like this stage might be the best one yet.