Garrett turns 2!

Garrett turned two on August 15th. This last year has gone by so fast.

Garrett is such an amazing little guy. I’m not sure how one child manages to be such a melded combination of characteristics but somehow he is able to do it. He is my snuggler and a complete mama’s boy. He still finds his way to my hip or in my lap for much of the day. At the same time he is very independent and the phrase we probably hear most often from him is, “Garrett do!” or “Garrett too!”. Mike has taken to calling Garrett, “Garrett too.” Over the last several months and especially the last few weeks Garrett is developing a deep love for his daddy. He wants to do everything daddy does and is starting to miss him when he is gone. For the last six months or so when Garrett wakes up in the morning he will say, “dada?” wanting to know where daddy is. When I respond, “at work” his usual response used to be a somewhat disappointed “ohhhh.” The last week or so he has started saying “missssss. dada missssss” with a very sad face. He is truly sad and distraught when daddy is gone now.

Garrett is also very stubborn, strong willed and frankly, rebellious. For someone who has just barely turned 2 he is amazing at toeing the line. If you draw a line he will run to the edge of it, look you square in the eye and then calmly put his foot over it taunting you to see what you’re going to do about it. He does this not only with Mike and I but with other adults and children. He likes to provoke reactions, usually just for fun. This has caused me, as his mom, a lot of stress. I have learned to loosen up, to enjoy his nature and to give him a bit more wiggle room.


Garrett is a rough and tumble all out boy. He likes guns, dirt, water and sticks. What he wants is “his”, what he looks at is “his” and what anyone else wants is “his”. He is not afraid of taking it by force even from a child (or adult) bigger than he is. He sometimes takes great joy in snatching things from others even if he has no desire for what he has snatched. He reminds me of a little lion cub looking to dominate anything and everything around him. He will push down little babies that are minding their own business, just to know that is able to do it. It is to the point where if we are with a group of children and one of them starts to cry, I usually have to jump up and remind Garrett that we do not hit, push, take…etc

Unfortunately, his sister receives the brunt of Garrett’s attempts at family domination. She will often comment about how she doesn’t like him much but then carefully add that she loves him but that it’s hard being his sister. Thankfully their relationship has taken a turn for the better in the last two weeks or so and they are beginning to have as many positive interactions throughout the day as negative and are starting to really play together. All of my parenting techniques, theories and patience have been worn thin by this little boy. But despite this, I love him with all my heart. His sweet nature is so apparent and he is a loving and giving boy who’s empathy is really starting to blossom. He is beginning to treasure and love his sister and despite his behavior towards her sometimes, he can not stand when she is not with us. He calls her “nana” (his attempt at saying Camden) and is sad whenever she is not with us. He is beginning to worry and cry when she is upset and tries to make her feel better. He also wants to do everything Camden does. He even decided he wanted to ride a horse despite his initial terror over them because Camden loved riding so much.



Garrett has so many quirks it is hard to know where to start. He has developed a hate of “tags” and will not allow one to be in his shirt or on most objects for that matter. Even during his Birthday party he made his dad cut of a “tag” on one of the gift bags. He is a funny blend of liking “boy” and “girl” things. He turns every available object into a gun (including alphabet letters and veggie booty) yet at the same time begs to wear Camden’s dresses, butterfly tattoo’s and prefers to sleep with pink blankets. He even asks for pink nail polish. Of course Camden and I find this hilarious and often oblige him with his requests. He will hate us for this someday, I’m sure.  His favorite color is orange and he takes great joy in any object he finds or owns that is “ownge”.


Garrett loves musical instruments and especially likes the drums and guitar. He likes to color and paint and his favorite food in the world is candy. Meal wise he loves things with a lot of flavor. He enjoys spaghetti (with rice noodles) and beef stew. Development wise he is really in a big growth phase right now. His expressive language has been exploding the last two weeks and he is repeating much of what we say and is learning new words every day. He is learnings his colors and wants to do everything the big kids do. He learned how to peddle a bike yesterday, on his Birthday. He is fully potty trained now, both during the day and night. We have weaned him from nursing at night but he still wakes up anyway. I am hoping he will start truly sleeping through the night within the next 2-3 months. He is still nursing and though I would prefer to be done with our nursing relationship I am waiting until we can get a vitamix to make sure he is getting enough nutrition.

Garrett continues to have serious allergies to many foods. Though his reactions have greatly reduced in frequency he is continuing to lose foods. He is currently allergic to: wheat, dairy, egg, soy, peanut, nuts, sunflower seed, sesame seed and dogs. Recently he has come up allergic to rice all though we have not removed it from his diet at this point because we are not seeing any reaction from the rice and his diet is all ready so limited. Feeding Garrett is definitely a huge challenge all though I am getting more used to it. What is frustrating is the things he can eat sometimes are quite ridiculous. It makes me mad that he can eat things like french fries, all manner of candy, soda, chips, sugar cereal like Lucky Charms and Cocoa Puffs but I can not give him an egg or a piece of bread. I have had to let go of my concern for many foods not because I have changed my mind on whether or not they are healthy or good for you but out of necessity and a concern for his quality of life. For example I did not have the money, time or energy to find and edible recipe for a wheat free, egg free, soy free, dairy free, seed free Birthday cake. So instead, I made him a rice crispy treat cake chock full of corn syrup, petroleum based dyes and all manner of artificial flavors. But it was delicious, he loved it and it was simple. I’ve just had to learn to let go, some. He eats way too much candy and french fries for a kid his age or for any kid for that matter but you try telling your child day in and day out, “No. Not for Garrett. That will make you sick.” It’s hard and frustrating. I do my best to get high quality whole foods in him but sometimes it just doesn’t work that way. I am so excited to be saving for a Vitamix blender that I plan on using to increase the amount of vegetables in his diet since he refuses pretty much any vegetable besides corn, carrots and potatoes.

For his Birthday this year we had an Elmo themed party. I’m not quite sure how he has become so fond of Elmo since he has never seen Sesame Street but he recognized Elmo in the dollar store the other day and we had leftover Elmo party supplies from Camden’s 1st Birthday. He was sooooo happy when he woke up from his nap to find an Elmo party. He also has Elmo sheets now that one of Mike’s friends from work gave us and he loves having them. We had a spaghetti dinner for him (one of his favorite meals) and I made him a Rice Crispy cake with Dots and sprinkles on top. We also had ice-cream sundae’s for everyone else. To make the cake I used Spectrum Vegetable shortening which is made of palm oil rather than soy based shortenings. You can not tell a difference in flavor or texture and it is delicious.

Despite how challenging these first two years have been for me I would not trade raising Garrett for anything. He has required me to rise above my fears, selfishness and insecurities in order to be a better mom and a better person. I am a less judgmental and more forgiving person because of him. His love, precious hugs and kisses, laughter and sense of humor bring so much joy and entertainment to our family. His presence in our family has given me greater spiritual strength and faith.

Garrett Michael Reid, we love you with all our hearts.

Michiko Baby – Chalkbook

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Portable Chalkbook

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Michiko Kids is a division of Michiko Baby that sells fun childrens products like crayon and marker rolls, childrens backsacks and child sized baby carriers. All of the items are made by Kim who owns and operates Michiko Baby. We tested out Michiko’s Chalkbook. A compact and portable and oh so adorable, perfect for the stocking (or anytime) gift!

The Scoop

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Chalkbook in the “folded up and ready to go” position

The Michiko Kids chalkbook is one of six different Michiko Kids products.It is an ingenious self storing and compact chalkboard that folds up and snaps together for easy portability. It includes 2 pieces of chalk and a matching “eraser” wipe. When folded it easily stores in a purse or diaper bag.

When open it has a chalkboard on the left and the chalk and “eraser” wipe on the right.

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The Crunchville Experience

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We were able to test out the chalkbook for the Michiko Kids line and were super excited to get it and use it for our move across the state so Camden would have something new and fun to do on the car trip. As luck would have it our postal service went crazy and our mail forwarding got messed up and after hours on the phone with various postal workers we FINALLY got our mail at the end of November.

Nevertheless, we were still very excited to see it arrive. Camden wanted to use it right away and so I brought it along on a lunch we had with my parents at a local Thai restaurant. Here is Camden passing time with her chalkbook before the meal.

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Camden also enjoyed using her book in the car. Since it wasn’t safe for me to actually get a picture of her using it while driving I snapped a pic of her with it before we took off.

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We both loved how cute and portable this item was. It fit easily into the diaper bag without taking up too much space or becoming a nuisance. It would also easily fit into a purse. I also love how it is simple to fold up and snap together and that my 3 year old is able to do it herself.

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Camden particularly enjoys the novelty of her chalkbook. It is much more exciting to her than the ziploc bag of crayons and a piece of scratch paper that I usually dig out of the diaper bag. She enjoyed it so much, in fact, that she shook it with glee and a piece of chalk popped out. Whoops. The design is helpful because the chalk is positioned in a way that when folded the chalk is not likely to fall out. However, with persistent shaking (thanks Camden) it is possible.

Washing & Care

Obviously you shouldn’t put the chalkbook in the washing machine. You’ll have to spot treat any tidbits of food or other globs of childhood goodyness that happens to find its way to the chalkbook. To clean the chalkboard part you can wipe with water. I used my Miraclean cleaner. Here are pictures from before and after cleaning.

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-Other Products Offered by Michiko Baby-

Michiko Baby and more specifically Michiko Kids has a lot of fun products to offer. Here are some pictures of a few of their other products. All of the products have customizable fabrics.

pintsizepagePint Size Duo Baby Carrier

img_6252-1Crayon Roll

markerrollMarker Roll

img_6568Color on the Go

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Kim also has gift sets with matching items available on hyenacart at “Tied Up With Strings”. Currently she has a custom Christmas slot, a children’s gift set and also a stocking stuffer set.

You can also see the available fabrics for Michiko Kids at this link:

http://s249.photobucket.com/albums/gg212/michikoshop/Kids%20Instock%20Fabrics/

Wrapping It Up

-Suggestions, Observations & Wishes-

I would love to see a flap of some sort, maybe secured with velcro or a snap, that goes over the chalk so little monkeys like my daughter can not shake the chalk out of their chalkbooks.

-Overall-

I think simple innovations like the chalkbook are fabulous. For me it is a “why didn’t I think of that” type of product. I love how compact it is and what a simple joy it provides for keeping little hands busy during tedious waiting periods. We were able to utilize ours in a long line at the post office as well (sorry no pic). It is moments like these that having something like the chalkbook becomes priceless.

The Basics-

Company Name: Michiko Kids

Product Name: Chalkbook

Price: $18.00

Where to Buy: www.michikobaby.com

Where to find gift sets: http://hyenacart.com/TiedUpWithStrings/

The Natural Dye Alternative

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I have to admit that being a mother to a child who is sensitive to food dye had its moments of disappointment. I grew up in a home where we were blessed to eat homemade dinners almost every night. That didn’t mean, however, that our home didn’t contain the staples of Top Ramen, Kraft Mac&Cheese, processed cheese slices and Cambell’s soup concentrate. My mom did a good job feeding us considering that I don’t think we ever questioned the quality of the ingredients in mainstream marketed food products. We used to take dye and add it to food for fun. Like blue pancakes or green mac&cheese. In fact, I used to do the same fun things for little kids I used to babysit not having any idea that dye mattered. It just never occured to me.

That changed with my daughter. We discovered artificial food dye just wasn’t going to be allowed in our home for the mental health and sanity of us all. It turns out we are not the only ones affected by this chemical sensitivity and even the Lancet came out with a November 2007 study (random, double-blind and placebo controlled) that links hyperactivity to artificial chemicals and preservatives. We have had to be more creative in the types of sweets and treats we allow our daughter to have. This past Halloween was interesting in that I found all dye-free candy to give to her to replace the Halloween candy she got from Church during our Trunk-or-Treat.

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I can’t tell you how pleased I was when I discovered natural food coloring prior to Camden’s third birthday. She wanted pink and purple cupcakes and I was pondering on how to make them. Lo and behold, I came across India Tree’s natural food dye. I purchased my set on Amazon.com.

India Tree’s food dye is vegetable based and contains no corn syrup or synthetic dyes. The pitfalls are that you will be hard pressed to get any primary looking colors out of this dye. At the most magenta is about as close as you will get to “red”. It is also pretty pricey.

However, for people like me this is just a wonderful alternative. It was wonderful to make my little girl fun homemade cupcakes for her Birthday and to make traditional frosted sugar cookies for Christmas or to dye easter eggs for Easter. We are pretty devastated right now because we can’t find our India Tree dye, we lost it sometime over Christmas so we’ll keep looking for it. Wish us luck! Here are Camden’s Birthday Cupcakes.

India Tree also carries a variety of natural dyed decorating sugars. However, they are not the only company offering synthetic free alternatives. The following companies also offer natural dyes.

Nature’s Flavors – They also give directions on how to use their dyes for Easter Egg coloring.

Seelect – Colors are sold separately.

If you don’t have the money to purchase any of these products there are also helpful sites that offer foodsource alternatives for getting the color you need. Here is one site.

Also, we found sprinkles that are colored with natural dye as well and we love them! We’ve also used chocolate candy coated sunflower seeds (purchased at Trader Joe’s)t o use as sprinkles on ice-cream.

Let’s Do Sprinklez

Please let me know if you know of any other natural food dye brands and I will post them.

The Much Anticipated Waldorf Doll

For quite some time I have been looking for a Waldorfish doll for Camden to play with instead of her gazillion plastic babies that have infiltrated our house in their impressive tactical maneuvers. Like Gremlins, I swear those things multiply at midnight when no one is looking. Everywhere I turn there is another plastic baby hiding – in the car, in the closet, in the bathtub, under my bed – but never ever in their little baby beds. That would be too practical now wouldn’t it? They are loved and discarded in quick little bouts.

So I’ve been wanting to get Cami a Waldorf style doll to replace the hard plastic babies that sprinkle our home. This whole China recall mess only further encouraged their replacement with a sooner rather than later timeframe. I’ve been spending the last few months googling Waldorf dolls and particularly weighted babies which give children the added sense of a real baby and also has therapeutic play value. I wanted something of quality and something made with love. Something made from a work-at-home mom with time and care. Something special. I finally found it through Etsy and am so pleased with the doll.

The doll is weighted to about 3lbs and is so much cuter in person than in the pictures. She has been reserved for Camden’s Birthday which is on Christmas Eve. It has taken a lot of self-control not to give the doll to Cami early. Here is the precious doll. Barbara, the doll’s maker, was even so sweet as to make a mini-version of the doll (seen on the doll’s lap). The doll is about 20 inches long: