We have long had a difficult time finding appropriate night lights. The kiddie ones don’t seem to last and the regular ones felt to grown up for our style. Now that the boys are older the night light isn’t super important but I like to have one so I don’t step on a sharp toy during the occasional middle of the night sleep interruption. SnapPower Guidelights replace your regular outlet cover and hide in plain sight. No wires or batteries these stealth covers light the path and don’t stick out like regular night lights. The LED light is not too bright but brighter than traditional night lights and makes for a clear night time excursions to the bathroom. The sensor shuts them off during the day as long as they are near a window or other light source. I also enjoy the movie theater vibe that the light gives my hallway.
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Now that LTD is burning through books, he doesn’t even get sick reading in the car, we are always striving to have interesting books on hand. Dustin Hansen’s new tome Microsaurs features as the title suggests little dinosaurs. Central characters Danny and Lin discover these tiny creatures during a go pro skateboard session. The story also features art by Hansen. The kids travel to a secret lab where they find a whole lot of little dinosaurs and more. As usual, I don’t want to spoil the ending but let me just write that it involves shrinking. and of course the story features a not so mad scientist because you can’t have tiny dinosaurs without a professor type. LTD has even taken to reading some of story out loud to BB but this type of activity is fraught with interruptions and distractions. Additionally, BB was more interested in the skateboarding than the fact that little dinosaurs were running around.
Thankfully, LTD has really gotten into playing board games, however the challenge is that BB also wants to play but their age difference makes this problematic (and sometimes destructive). This is a long way of saying that any game that is easy to place and easy to destroy is a welcome addition to our fun supply. Kaboom is a fast paced building game involving wooden blocks and shapes versus catapults. LTD likes that when it is your turn you get to be called Master Builder. BB likes to smash stuff. You have to build a tower as quickly as possible from the designs on the game board at the same time your opponent acts as saboteur firing a small catapult from a foot away. A word of caution as if you don’t keep a tight lid on things feels can get hurt as well as my body parts. Luckily, game play is quick enough that my boys thirst for revenge is easily granted. And if you play on the kitchen table the pieces will clatter to the ground so my suggestion would be the coffee table.
LTD goes back and forth from wanting to learn how to tell time and then forgetting about it. He occasionally will ask for a watch but again does’t press the issue. However, we felt it was time (no pun intended) to properly learn how to read a clock. Watchitude’s Slap Watch was the simplest solution. He can put it on himself as there is no little metal thing to feed through a hole. There are literally hundreds of designs to choose from but he has been digging the planets. The numbers are big and easy to read so he has slowly been learning to read a watch face. I was never the best at telling time and so The Mommy is mostly helping him while deal with BB wanting one but they don’t fit his wrist yet. Another cool feature is that you can submit any design you want, name it and people can vote on their favorite. The winners go into production. I felt old when I looked for directions on how to set the time and of course they directed me to their youtube video. Speaking of time, LTD has spent a lot of it voting for different watches.
We are slowly trying to help BB learn to read. He goes back and forth between saying he would like to read and not caring. Topsy Turvy: Animals by Wes Magee with art by Tracey Tucker is providing BB with a fun first assignment. The book features rhymes that are silly and fun. The pack pictures are bright, busy and fit the text perfectly. Each page depicts a specific animal adventures. BB has been digging this gem: “A family of lions have baked beans for lunch. Hugh hippos and rhinos play soccer. Crash! Crunch!” I occasionally like books with out a traditional narrative or story so that I can skip pages or use the we will read the rest tomorrow night. It is especially nice as some of the rhymes become tongue twisty after a while. Hopefully, the book will encourage him to read but not encourage him to only speak in rhyme.
Since the boys don’t really go camping or lets face it, go outside all that much I think it is important for them to learn about things like compasses and other life skills. Author Paul Boston’s new series, Find Your Way includes titles like Under the Sea, In the Jungle and Underground. The books teach young readers about navigation with a goal toward improving math and map skills. The books feature coordinates (and an explanation of what coordinates are) and different objects to find. One cool feature is the selection of mood of transportation with BB picking Sea Turtle (even though he is punching a little above his weight and gets lost frequently) and LTD always picks the Submarine. After completing each mission the reader gains entrance into the castle. Now that the boys are budding cartographers we are ready to explore the ocean if anyone ever provides us with the ability to breathe underwater.
LTD is big into science and BB is big into destroying things which kind of fits into the how stuff works category. Engineering: An Illustrated History from Ancient Crafts to Modern Technology, edited by Tom Jackson is a new book that satisfies both boys interests. Part of Shelter Harbor Press’ Ponderables series Engineering focuses on 100 cool inventions and concepts from the ancient world up to now. You have your greatest hits like TV, the Light Bulb and automobile but you also find the Great Wall of China and Bagger 288 (look it up). LTD has been digging the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building (this is also helpful since his book of records is really old). BB gravitates to all things with engines. The book comes with a fold out milestones timeline poster. Each item or concept basically gets a page and is written in a way that allows the casual reader to get the gist but also has more details for the truly curious. For me, the fun comes in showing the boys inventions like the telephone which they have been slowly understanding the importance of long distance. Who knows what inspiration they will draw from the book but I get %10 of the patent.
Where LTD goes BB follows and they are both always up for a good adventure. Author and artist Trevor Lai’s new book, Tomo Explores the World is set on a small island that is basically one big fishing village. The titular focus of the tale, Tomo has no great desire to follow the path set by everyone on the island and become a fisherman. After he finds his great-grandfather’s Adventure Journal fate chooses another path for him and his canine companion Captain. His friend Maya joins them as they explore the sea. The art is big and colorful but what I really like which sounds a little sterile is the typeface. The words are in white or black depending on the background and very easy to read. Why should that matter, you ask? Because at bedtime it is pretty dark in their room and I often can’t see the words in many a book (no I don’t need reading glasses). As usual, I won’t spoil the ending but I will say that BB has been digging the baby whale.
We don’t travel as much as we would like and we certainly don’t travel internationally. We frequently field questions about other countries even if the kids keep using state, country and continent interchangeably. In that regard we have been reading, The Barefoot Book of Children by Tessa Strickland and Kate DePalma with art by David Dean. The book focuses on how children around the world live and explores different cultures. In simple easy to understand language (without being patronizing) the book shows the differences in how people look, live and the make up of their families. The hand painted pictures are incredibly colorful and the splash pages really pop. LTD has been locked on the pages about how people communicate by learning the phrase, “Excuse me, do you know where the taxis are? In Grand Central Station. BB is fixated on how kids take baths around the globe. I guess a lot of kids take showers in New Zealand. The book does a nice job of showing the differences but instead of list form the authors have tied things together and show how we are all interconnected.