Best books for 2 year olds

Best books for two year olds

Some days my son just loves to read and is constantly bringing me books to read to him. We are still enjoying many books from my list of best books for 6-18 month olds.

When we moved into our new home, I set up a reading area for him with a little chair and a sling bookshelf. I recently put a crate in the living room as an overflow for his books that get left out. He has the option of reading alone or reading with me and he does both.

Best books for two year olds

Best books for two year olds

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (Classic Board Books) by Michael Rosen This classic board book is a story of a family adventure. I think toddlers love the fun, repetitive words in this book.

On the Night you Were Born by Nancy Tillman This book is about the uniqueness of each child. My son loves the paintings of the animals.

Hezekiah reading the Jesus Story book Bible
Hezekiah reading the Jesus Story book Bible

The Jesus Storybook Bible Many parents agree that this is the best children’s Bible out there. I teared up just reading the introduction. I appreciate the artwork in this Bible and I love that each story points to Jesus. This is a must buy for Christian parents.

Ready, Set, Go! by Nina Laden We found this book in a Little Free Library while waiting for pizza in Seattle. This is a very short board book that we love to read because I added hand motions for each of the pages.

Mirror Me! We’ve had this book for awhile but my son is just now getting interested in following the directions on each page. The mirrors in this book…

Are You My Mother? by PD Eastman Another classic that children still love today. A baby bird searches for his mother while meeting several different animals.

Go, Dog. Go! by PD Eastman My son loves dogs so it is not surprising that this book is on the list. The simple, silly words in this book are entertaining and memorable for little ones.

Duck for President by Doreen Cronin  This funny book is a New York Times Best Illustrated book and it follows Farmer’s Brown’s duck who is tired of doing chores and picking espresso beans out of his feathers.

Bulldozers There are many board books about bulldozers available. My son loves trucks of all kinds and it is fun that he recognizes bulldozers when we pass construction sites.

My First Trucks My son checked this book out from the library at least five times. This book taught him the name of the different types of trucks.

Christmas in the Manger by Laura Goodwin We read this book a lot last month (December) and I didn’t mind because it only has a few words per page.

Forever by Emma Dodd This is a cute book about parent and child polar bears and the love that parents have for their children.

Books from the dollar tree The Dollar Tree has a lot of board books that can be used for stocking stuffers. I used books such as “Miracles of the Bible” and “God Made Me” for this quiet time basket.

Bob Books by Bobby Lynn Maslen These small books were created to teach children reading skills. some of the books are focused on just two letters while others feature short stories with simple words and pictures.

Best books for two year olds

What are your favorite books for two year olds?


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The Motherhood Journey: 2016

The Motherhood Journey 2016

It’s a new year and I am looking forward to a new year of blogging consistently and growing as a mom. I can’t believe my son turns three this year.

This last year was not an easy year for me but there some good things that happened. this past year I started several new jobs including working at a home for teen moms. This last year I found community through church and through mom groups. This year I started a business with Trades of Hope. Through all the hard times I’ve held onto hope.

This is what the year looked like in my motherhood journey.

The Motherhood Journey 2016

The Motherhood Journey 2016

Babywearing: My son is getting older so I haven’t worn him much lately but babywearing (or toddler wearing) was necessary in so many situations. For example, stores that don’t have carts, long hikes, the zoo, and when he wanted to be held but I was cooking.Check out our photos from the photo shoot fundraiser for the local babywearing library. I encourage you to join your local babywearing group for help with carriers and to try the different types.

Bravery: As a mom going through big life changes and uncertain times, God helped me be brave. Read about how I went from fear to pursuing my dreams.

Flourish: I learned how to flourish and what things are important and necessary for feeding the soul. I love that this is an area where we can continually grow. As moms, it is so important that we take care of ourselves as we take care of our little ones.

Fun: As a mom including fun times for your children is so important, especially if you work from home. I have greatly improved with my time management but also need to make sure my son is having a good time. One of the ways I did this was by creating a quiet time basket to keep him occupied while I did work or had my own “quiet time”.

Top 4 posts on the blog this year

  1. Why I chose The Tiny Potty Training Book to Potty Train My 18 Month Old

It has been almost a year since I potty trained Hezekiah and to be honest he still has accidents occasionally. I don’t regret potty training him “early” though. We saved a lot of diapers and my son gained a lot of independence. Potty training is not easy and I don’t know how I would have done it without this book and the support I had.

2. Tips for helping your child adjust to a sibling

I still only have one child but most of my friends have at least two kids so I had lots of sources. In the future, these tips will be very helpful.

3. How to have dates after baby

Going on a date when you have a new baby can seem impossible for some couples. In this post I give some ideas to make it happen.

4. The truth about postpartum depression, anxiety and baby blues

This was a guest post but I am glad that it was so popular since this is an important topic.

What four words described your year as a mom?

Mom and son photos in the snow

I finally got some professional photos of my son and I. The last time we had photos of the two of us was the babywearing fundraiser and Hezekiah has grown so much since then. My son was grumpy and it was freezing out but the photos turned out pretty good. Photographer Laurin Crosby set up this cute hot cocoa stand at a park near our home in Spokane Valley, Washington.

The Simple Gift Guide for Babies (0-2)

simple gift guide for babies

The Simple Gift Guide for Babies

When it comes to deciding which toys and gifts I want my son to have, I do a lot of research. We try to be minimalistic (partly due to not having much space). I encourage people to get my son non-toy gifts and practical items instead of every baby toy they see. I prefer toys that do not require batteries, are active, not passive and eco-friendly, if possible. I hope this list inspires you to give your child simple gifts that versatile and encourage creativity.

simple gift guide for babies

Gifts for baby's first Christmas

First Christmas

Clothes: practical and needed for a growing baby. We get most of our clothes at the thrift store.
Rubber duck: fun for bath time. At almost 18 months, my son still loves his “duck duck”.  You can get a dozen for $6.50 at Oriental Trading.
Socks and baby leg warmers: baby socks always go missing and with the weather getting colder these are especially necessary. We love baby leggings because they add another layer under his pants and baby socks aren’t usually very long.
Eating utensils and bowl: Hezekiah starting eating solids around this time so we needed these. We started out with Nuby spoons. Since we did baby led weaning, we needed spoons that were easy for him to hold and not flat like the rubber spoons. When he was older we started using these Re-Play kids utensils made from recycled plastic. I’ve seen these at Wal-Mart and they are also sold on Amazon.
Sea Snax: we figured since he loved eating paper, this was a healthy alternative and he liked them at first.
Zoo membership: a great gift that you can use all year. If you do not have a zoo near you, look for a children’s museum or somewhere that classes for babies.
The Runaway Bunny: I chose this book for Hezekiah because I love JJ Heller’s “The Boat Song” which is based on this book. Lori Sutherland who teaches my Mom’s class at church described Runaway Bunny as “a beautiful story of the balance of high love and high control in mothering… And a picture of God’s love for us as expressed in Psalm 139.” I love that perspective of this classic book.

Gifts for baby's first birthday

1st birthday

Utensils: my friend bought Hezekiah the Re-Play spoons and forks mentioned above and we love them.
Swim diaper: if your child has a summer birthday. These will make going to the pool easier.
Blocks: I recommend this mini block and roll from Hape toys.
Pottete potty: this travel potty can be used on its own using liners or can be placed on top of a toilet. Ours came with a package of ten liners and a storage bag.

I Would Tuck You In by Sarah Asper-Smith: I first read this book while interning for Alaska airlines magazine several years ago. I fell in love with this cute book. All of the animals featured in the book live in the Pacific Northwest (that includes Alaska). My favorite quote is “If you were a porcupine, I would still hold you close.”

Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt: a classic touch and feel book that is interactive. He loved it.

The Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle: We both love this book. It is full of animal sounds and rhyming words that flow so easily.

Cars: there are so many options and toddlers (especially boys) love cars. We have these Little People cars and these B. cars.
Puzzles: The Melissa and Doug ones are great. This wire puzzle rack is perfect if you have a lot of puzzles like we do.
Shovel and pail: another good one for summer birthdays. I was thinking we would spend a lot of time at the beach.

Gifts for baby's second christmas
2nd Christmas

Toothbrush: toothbrushes are a great minimalistic gift for children of any age. My son loves brushing his teeth so we can can never have too many toothbrushes.

Bubble bath: Toddlers love bubbles and there are several natural brands that make bubble bath that is safe for babies (Burt’s Bees, Honset Company, Poofy Organics shampoo and body wash, Every day Shea).
Toy vacuumI want to get my son a toy vacuum hoping it will help him not be afraid of the real one. I also want to give him an early start “helping” me vacuum.
Boots: With the weather getting colder and wetter, boots have become a necessity. We looked at our local Value Village with no luck but ended up having some gifted to us on Buy Nothing.

Balls: My son already has a kiddie pool filled with ball pit balls (we got these balls on Buy Nothing) and a little basketball. I would also like him to have a soccer ball and a football.

Shape sorter: shape sorters are great toys for teaching toddlers shapes, colors and fine motor control.
Baby Doll: both boys and girls can enjoy playing with dolls. Baby dolls help with speech skills because it gives you an opportunity to talk about the parts of the body and different actions.
Underwear: depending on when you are planning to potty train, these are a must have.
Pajamas (2 piece sets): another necessity as the weather gets colder. Two piece sets are easier for potty training.
Really Woolly Bedtime Prayers: a cute book with simple prayers for toddlers.
The Way Mothers Are by Miriam Schlein: This book shows a mother’s unconditional love for her child. “So you don’t think I love you just when you are good, and stop loving you when you are naughty, do you? That’s not the way mothers are. I love you all the time because you are mine.”

Gifts for baby's second birthday

2nd Birthday

toddler with Trades of Hope turtle backpack
Backpack: Some toddlers love to carry their own stuff and we hope to lighten our load whenever possible. My son recently got this Trades of Hope turtle backpack made from fabric scraps by women in Guatemala. It is perfect because one of his new words is “turtle”.
Lawnmower: My husband and I both had a lawnmower like this that we loved as toddlers. This is a great outdoor toy that gives little ones the opportunity to be like daddy or mommy.
Magnetic letters
Beach ball: Hezekiah had a beach ball that he loved when he was younger but it didn’t survive our move.

Tool set: most toddlers love to imitate their parents. If you or your husband works with tools often, your child will love to “help”. I like this simple tool set from Learning Resources.6
Melissa and Doug magnets: Keep your toddler occupied while you cook or clean in the kitchen. My son has the dinosaur ones and loves them.
Reusable sticker set: Another fun gift from Melissa and Doug. These stickers come with five scenes and matching reusable stickers. My son has the animals and the vehicles.

What gifts would you add to the list?



How to create a quiet time basket for a toddler

how to create a quiet time easter basket for a toddler

Toddlers love to mimic their parents and if your toddler is like mine, he is constantly getting into your stuff. He loves to “color” with my highlighters. Keeping him occupied while I get work done or read my Bible is important so that we can have some quiet time together. It’s not always easy but I want to have an environment that encourages him to be independent. Creating this quiet time basket for my 21 month old will help me do that.

How to create a quiet time basket for a toddler

how to create a quiet time easter basket for a toddler

I am planning on giving this basket to Hezekiah on Easter. It will be so nice to have a basket that we can keep Hezekiah’s coloring supplies and Bible books in. He loves joining me when I do my devotions and I think including him in this time is a good habit to start now. He mostly colors but sometimes he looks at his Bible (he got several for Christmas last year). This will be a basket of age appropriate items for quiet time. Each year I can update it according to age or to replace the used items.

Here are some of the things I am putting in the basket (everything came from the thrift store or Dollar Tree):

  • A clipboard from the thrift store. This is a great surface for kids to use for coloring, drawing etc.
  • Writing and drawing utensils such as crayons. We need some that are big enough for my 21 month old to use easily and won’t break right away. Mama Natural recommends some natural beeswax crayons (see link below).
  • Coloring book. I am hoping to find a Bible theme or at least something that he will like more than my Care Bear coloring book.
  • Blank notepad or sketchpad.
  • Stickers. Toddlers love stickers. He can use this to decorate his clipboard, coloring book or a random cardboard box. Stickers are great fine motor practice.
  • Bible books. The dollar store usually has some small Bible themed books.
  • other quiet activities can be added as well

Check out Mama Natural’s Easter basket ideas.

how to create a quiet time basket for a toddler




What do you use to keep your toddler occupied while you get work done?


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Tips for helping your child adjust to a new sibling

tips for helping child adjust to new sibling

There are many things that parents can do to help their child adjust to the new baby making the transition easier for the whole family. I am looking forward to trying out most of these ideas when the time comes for my family to have another baby. Getting the older child involved helps make this a positive transition for the family.

Tips for helping your child adjust to a new sibling

tips for helping child adjust to new sibling

I don’t yet have experience with having a second child of my own but exactly 25 years ago yesterday my younger sister was born when I was 21 months old. I know it wasn’t easy having to share my mom’s attention with a newborn. I was extremely jealous of my sister and threw a lot of tantrums, just like the tantrums that my son Hezekiah has when I hold other babies.

Be aware of the possibility of regression. A lot of toddlers regress with potty training after the new baby is born.

Involve your older child

One way to prevent some of these unwanted behaviors is to keep the older child involved in preparations, pregnancy, and caring for the baby after he is born. Find simple tasks that the older sibling can easily help with. Some examples include fetching supplies, picking out the baby’s clothes and singing to the baby. Having a way for the older child to help makes them feel important and that they are a vital part of the family.

One on one time is so important now that they are having to share you. It won’t be easy but you can do something special with your older child while the baby is taking a nap.

Communicate about expectations, changes, and babies needs

Talk to your child ahead of time about what to expect and what things are going to be different. Explain what will happen when you go into labor. Will somebody babysit your child while you are at the hospital?

Will your child be present during the birth? One of my friends had her son present during her home birth. To prepare him, she showed him home birth videos and talked about the sounds she might be making. I think having your child present during the birth (especially at home) is a good way to start the sibling relationship.

Explain what babies can and cannot do. Talk about what babies need (the book suggested below is perfect for this). If they have not been around a lot of babies, try exposing them to more babies or practice being gentle with a doll. If your child’s friends have siblings, you can use that as a conversation starter.

When talking about the baby (before and after birth) make sure to be positive and never blame the baby for not being able to do things.

Big brother/ big sister gifts

New siblings want to feel special and these gifts will help occupy your toddler/ preschooler while the parents are occupied with the newborn. Some suggest having this be a gift from the baby.

  • sticker books
  • audio books
  • childrens camera— I have heard many parents say that this is a great way for the new older sibling to bond with the baby and it gives the older child a job in welcoming the new baby.
  • activity/ busy bags for toddler
  • coloring books
  • baby doll
  • big sibling baby book
  • Big Sister bag this can be adapted for a big brother
  • A favorite toy that they have been wanting

Here’s some free printable “big sis” and “big bro”  tags for the gifts.

Gift from older sibling to new baby

  • Let the older child help pick out a special gift (have them wrap it) or have the child help make something like a blanket.
  • stuffed animals– my son and I both have sheep stuffed animals and already have one for the future baby (that does not exist yet).
  • A book or toy that the older child no longer plays with.

Books that help prepare children for a sibling

When I was a nanny there were two books about welcoming a new baby that I loved. These books can be adapted to different ages and have suggested activities to help prepare a child for a new sibling. Both books are from the Sears Children’s Library

Other books that are highly suggested by parents:

Basket of special things for nursing sessions 

Some of the gifts listed above can be put in a basket for the older child to use while mom is nursing the baby. Quiet toys like crayons or play dough are perfect for this. Check out When at Home’s post for more ideas.

Rainy Day Mum’s post describes the kind of items that you want to include in your nusring basket/ box.

What are your biggest concerns for adding another child to your family?

What tips would you add to this list?


Follow my Pinterest board for more resources.
Follow The Motherhood Journey’s board Transitioning to two (or more) kids on Pinterest.

What I am looking forward to as my son gets older

My son is almost two years old! I can’t believe how big he is getting. He is becoming so independent yet he still relies on me for pretty much everything. It is tiring some days but definitely worth it. Before Hezekiah was born, I never knew I could love somebody so much.

I recently wrote a guest post for Collectively Caitlin about what I am looking forward to as Hezekiah gets older. This was my first guest post and I am so excited and grateful to be able to share this on Caitlin’s blog.


What do you most look forward to with your child (or children) getting older?

Why I Chose The Tiny Potty Training Book to Potty Train My 18 month old

Why I chose The Tiny Potty Training Book to potty train my 18 month old

This is part 3 of my series on elimination communication and potty training. I recently read The Tiny Potty Training Book by Andrea Olson because I wanted a guide that would teach me step by step how to potty train my toddler. I chose this book/ method because it is simple, non-coercive (no punishment or rewards) and goes well with elimination communication (read more about EC here). This book is for toddlers 18 months and older!

Why I Chose The Tiny Potty Training Book to Potty Train my 18 Month Old

Why I chose The Tiny Potty Training Book to potty train my 18 month old

Potty Training is a controversial and fearful topic. In fact, I am afraid to bring this topic up when I am with other moms and I know some parents have such a horrible experience potty training that they refuse to train their younger children.

Because of this fear, the current trend in the US is to wait longer and longer to potty train (or not potty train) children. I was recently reading a thread in a Facebook group where a mom was quite proud that her almost five year old is still in diapers.

Fears associated to potty training include:

  • the child not being ready
  • the parent not knowing where to start
  • worrying that potty training will take a long time
  • the parent not having time, the parent will miss diapering
  • pee ruining their carpet
  • the child’s daycare not cooperating
  • having a potty trained child is not as convenient as having a child in diapers
  • not having enough support
  • and the belief that boys are more difficult to train.

According to Andrea Olson, author of The Tiny Potty Training Book, part of the fear comes from a lack of  an “intact culture to pass on potty wisdom organically from generation to generation”.

I’m not willing to have a toddler who is capable but prefers to be in diapers. I am not going to let my child decide when he wants to be potty trained; I am the parent. I am ready to be done washing diapers two times a week and constantly fighting with a child who does not want his diaper changed. I am also ready to be done trying to keep my son’s diaper area rash and irritation free.

If you are looking for another way, a simple guide for non-coercive potty training, I suggest reading Olson’s book. Olson did research on all of the potty training philosophies and methods out there and compiled the practices that work. The method laid out in this book does not use rewards (m&ms, sticker charts, etc.). In my parenting style, I try not using rewards so it is important to me that my potty training was the same.

This book is simple in that it is concise, easy to read, and has short sections. I read the bulk of this book while riding in the car on a five hour road trip. The Tiny Potty Training Book lays out a plan and includes a supply list and troubleshooting section.

This book is a guide for potty training that gives you a plan that does not drag on. According to the author, the average length of potty training with this method is one week.

There are lots of books out there on potty training. How do you know which book or method is right for you? I think it is important to choose a method that aligns with your parenting style/ philosophy. I would also avoid methods that “guarantee” to be completed in a certain amount of time. Those methods could lead to disappointment and being unprepared for long term training.

I understand the frustration of potty training taking longer than it is “supposed to” and Olson does not guarantee that her method will take a certain amount of time.

Purchase of The Tiny Potty Training Book (paperback or digital) includes access to an online member’s area which includes a private support group, downloads, and a digital copy of the book.

For more potty training resources: part 1 of this series.

What potty training method or book worked for you?

Elimination Communication and Potty Training Resources

Elimination Communication and Potty Training Resources

I am in the prep stage of potty training my 19 month old son so I figured this would be the perfect time to start a series on elimination communication (EC) and potty training.

Elimination Communication and Potty Training resourcesElimination Communication

Potty Training

What resources would you add to the list?

5 Goals for Mothers of Toddlers

5 Goals for Mothers of Toddlers

At the beginning  of each year, I make a list of all of my goals, wishes and prayers for the year. This year, my list includes continuing to take steps to strengthen my marriage, getting certified as a postpartum doula, potty training Hezekiah, and getting him to sleep in his own bed.

5 goals for parenting a toddler

As a parent of a toddler, it can be difficult to have many goals other than– get more sleep (that’s my goal for life). Last month I posted 7 goals for parenting an 18 month old. This month’s goals are ones that will benefit moms of toddlers of all ages.


  • Do something to make yourself feel good.

Many cities have beauty schools where you can get manicures, pedicures, and haircuts for a low cost. I am planning on getting my haircut this month. When I lived in Seattle, I would get free haircuts by volunteering to be a “hair model” for students who were getting tested.


  • Take child to the dentist.

My son had his first dentist appointment when he was around 12 months so he is due for his next appointment this month. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends a dental check up every six months for children.


  • Get outside (and be active)!

Hike it Baby is having their Hike it Baby 30 challenge this month (January). The challenge is to hike (walk, run, snowshoe…) 30 miles outside with your child or spend 30 minutes outside, 3 days a week all month. So far, my family has done 6.5 miles. I’m hoping that this challenge will motivate me to be active outdoors even though it is tempting to hibernate indoors and avoid the cold snow. If you haven’t joined your local Hike it Baby group, I encourage you to do it.

get outside and be active



  • Potty train

I was originally planning on potty training Hezekiah last month but the holidays have kept us busy so I will do it this month. I am going to buy The Tiny Potty Training Book from my friend, Helen this week so I will be ready to start ASAP!


  • Host play date (Socialize with other moms)

Due to the holidays, this did not happen last month as planned. I am an administrator for the under 2 playgroup for MOPS so I need to set a date then invite the group over to let the babies play and give us some time to be with other adults. I still want to try the Nutella hot chocolate recipe in my crock pot (yum!)

What are your goals, wishes and prayers for this year?

goals for mothers of toddlers