Sunday, May 29, 2011

Dora the Explorer

It is quite possible that my soon to be four year old granddaughter knows more Spanish than I do. She likes Dora, although now that she is nearing four I think her infatuation with Dora is quite possibly fading from what it was about a year or so ago. I recall reading her some Dora storybooks and her correcting my pronunciation of the Spanish words. Of course, it is through her that I learned who Diego and Boots are as well.

Dora, for anyone who does not know this, was actually first named Tess. She was the creative idea of two Nickelodeon creators who were given the opportunity to develop their own show. Tess as she was first named was a story of a preschool girl who would go exploring every day with her animal friends.

Network execs after just learning that Latinos were the most underrepresented minority on television decided to convert "Tess" into bilingual Latina girl named Dora. After hiring a Latino writer, and some Spanish language experts, Tess became Dora!

In an easy, fun way, Dora has been teaching children who are not bilingual to speak a few words that are not in their language by introducing a new Spanish word or phrase in each Dora episode. Dora the Explorer has become amazingly popular not only in the United States but all around the globe. The stories engage the preschoolers and are interactive in that Dora always pauses to ask her audience's help in the adventure. And preschoolers love to go on all the adventures with Dora!

Whether your child's favorite character is Dora, Boots the five year old furry monkey and Dora's best friend, Backpack, Map, Swiper the fox, Tico the squirrel, Benny the Bull, Isa the iguana, or the cymbal playing snail, accordion playing grasshopper, or drum playing frog, she probably knows who they all are by name. She can probably say "hola", "amigo", "casa", and "agua" and know what they mean. And most likely she's been asking for a Dora theme birthday party, a Dora backpack that looks like Backpack, and would find it a dream come true to see Dora at Nickelodeon Universe at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. I know it was a dream come true for my granddaughter to get to have her photo taken with her fav, Dora!

If your preschooler loves Dora, Boots, Backpack, Map, and the rest of the characters in Dora the Explorer, you can find some easy to follow links below to some awesome Dora the Explorer T-shirts, photo binders, bags, necklaces, stickers, and so much more in all the colorful and oh so cute Dora adventure designs your child loves.

Dora Binder binderDora The Explorer - Dora's Day at The Beach shirtDora The Explorer - A Sky Full Of Colors stickerDora The Explorer - Count the stars! Una, dos, tre necklaceDora The Explorer - Butterflies! buttonDora The Explorer - Splash Into Aventura! shirtDora The Explorer - Totally Dora buttonDora The Explorer - Paz And Love mousepadDora The Explorer - What Do You Want To Draw? printDora The Explorer - Dora Flowers bagDora The Explorer - Will You Explore Summer shirtDora The Explorer - Super Style postcardDora The Explorer - Exploring Good Times! shirtDora The Explorer - Dora with Flowers bagDora The Explorer - Dora Ready To Explore shirt

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Little Artist

I babysat for a couple hours today for the little artist. She's liked crayons and glue sticks and arts and crafts for some time, but I noticed recently she has really flourished. Not yet four, she can write her name and also "MOM", and she draws suns and family members which of course are basic stick figures with a head, arms, legs, eyes, and a mouth. It's rather interesting how she makes the mouth. I guess it's because she is trying to make them smile, so she draws a line but then a line up on each side of it to resemble a smile.

Today we found envelopes, card stock, some stickers, cards to cut with scissors, crayons, glue sticks, tape, and a good imagination. She created cards for her mom and dad, her brother, and one for her dog. LOL I am sure the dog will appreciate that he wasn't left out. She made a couple of decorations for uncle Matt as well.

I watch as she cuts with the "big people" scissors as the kids ones I have don't work very well. She actually does quite well with scissors. I marvel at how far she has come in the past few months, how quickly kids grow, at the creativity and imagination. She likes pink and purple a lot and I notice she chooses those color crayons a lot. The look on her face as she's cutting, putting glue on the back of something she has cut out, and writing her name with a crayon tells me that she is very serious about what she is creating. She is giving it her all!

Once she is finished she admires her work and puts them on a shelf near the door so she doesn't forget to take them home with her when Daddy arrives to pick her up. At home she has gift bags scattered around the house with her papers and letters and pictures she has made for various people. I never leave from their house empty handed. My refrigerator proudly displays her projects and art.

I think the next time I am out shopping I need to pick up a few more art supplies and surprise her when she comes to visit. It will be interesting to see once again what she creates. Having the various art supplies is a great way to help her become creative, to make decisions and see the outcome of her choices, to express herself, to learn motor skills such as gluing, cutting with scissors, cutting the tape off the roll, and also helps her to learn all the various colors and how blending different ones together will give you an entirely new color. It gives her the chance to think outside of the box and in her mind and on her paper, a bear can fly and a flower smile, a boy can have his arms where his ears should be and have no ears at all, but still function just fine...all while smiling hugely!

Happy Crayons Tshirts and Gifts shirtI Draw Tshirts and Gifts shirtArtist Tshirts and Gifts shirtLittle Artist T-shirts and Gifts shirtCreator of Masterpieces Tshirts and Gifts shirtI Draw Tshirts and Gifts buttonCustom Artist Bear T-shirt shirtMonkey Crayon King Tshirts and Gifts bagMonkey Little Artist Tshirts and Gifts shirtBoy Painting School Sticker stickerStick Figure  Artist bag

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Read to Me

The American Academy of Pediatrics ""strongly recommends reading to children every day, starting after they are first born," because "reading stimulates the development of the brain, language and a closer emotional relationship with a child."

As a mom and grandma, I wholeheartedly believe that reading to a child from the time they are infants helps them to grow creatively and get a head start on language skills, listening skills, and is a great way to grow a close emotional relationship with your child. You can start when they are infants by reading aloud to them, and it's said that it doesn't matter what you read, just so you read. You can read your favorite novel, the Sunday Funnies, a cookbook, just so long as you read.

And as your baby becomes a toddler and starts to understand more, reading opens up a whole new world of places they haven't been, things they have not seen, of princesses and knights, talking bugs and bears, of magical places that only a story can take you. You can read anywhere, so don't feel you must limit it to bedtime stories. Take books with you to read while waiting for your meal at the restaurant, while waiting in the doctors office, or even in the checkout line at the store.

Do you think that reading to your child will give him the skills to be a good listener? To master language development? Do you think it will help to increase his attention span? Do you think it helps a child to express himself better in both oral and written terms? Do you think that reading to your child from infancy helps him to open his imagination and be more creative? All of these things are believed to be true, molding a child into becoming a "reader" and increasing his potential for academic success.

I loved to read to my children when they were toddlers, and they loved the time spent one on one reading to them. Both of my children did very well once they entered school with spelling, reading, and writing. I strongly believe that reading to them from infancy played an integral part in their ability to learn to read so quickly. I always read to them at bedtime but also during the day. We would sit on the sofa with a pile of books and read, sometimes for an hour at a time. Looking back, those are some of the most special moments with my children. It was quality time spent together and something I will cherish forever.

What can you do to help your child or another child become a good reader? You can read to them for starters. Giving a child a book as a gift for their birthday or even as a gift for the new baby is a great idea, or for older children a gift certificate to a book store so they can choose the book themself. Be a good example by reading yourself! If you see a child reading a book, ask them questions about it as they will love to tell you what they are reading about. If you have childrens books and your child has outgrown them, donate them to school libraries, to teachers, to day cares. Let children know that reading rocks!

Take a look at some of our T-shirts, tote bags, buttons, and other items that help promote reading and the love of books. Great for parents, for teachers, for kids!

Little Bookworm Tshirts and Gifts bagZebra I Read Tshirts and Gifts shirtAged ABC Tshirts and Gifts shirtI Read Tshirts and Gifts shirtLittle Storyteller Tshirts and Gifts shirtGirl Smart Because I Read shirtBoy Smart Because I Read buttonGirl Book Worm T-shirts and Gifts shirtFrog Croak If I Couldn't Read Tshirts and Gifts shirtRead Together - Grandma and Girl Tshirts and Gifts shirtNever Enough Books Tshirts and Gifts hatBook Worm Tshirts and Gifts bagFroggy Loves to Read T-shirts and Gifts shirtFrog - Reading is Fun Tshirts and Gifts shirtCatch the Reading Bug Tshirts and Gifts button

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Disney Vacation

I went on a wonderful vacation a couple of months ago with my daughter and her family. We did the Disney World vacation. Luckily, it was right before most schools have their spring break and the lines were really not that long at all at the theme parks. Of course, we also used Fast Pass, which I strongly recommend to help save time spent standing in lines! I look back on the vacation now with lots of smiles and hopes that I can return there again someday in the not too far future. I love Disney World! It has so much to offer anyone of any age. We enjoyed all of the theme parks as well as downtown Disney.

My grandson has a severe peanut allergy, and I have to say big kudos and thank you to Disney for their wonderful treatment and expertise in understanding and knowing how to deal with peanut allergies. Whether we were at one of the Disney theme parks or downtown Disney, our question about whether or not they use peanut oil in cooking immediately brought an understanding face, a smile, and the promise to have the chef come out to personally talk with us so we would know what is safe for my grandson to eat in their establishment. The chefs did not act annoyed by having to come out and talk to us, in fact, they were so friendly and knowledgeable we felt assured and relieved. So thank you Disney for the wonderful job you do regarding food allergies!!

Before the vacation, long before, I had purchased Disney T-shirts for my grandkids to wear from the Zazzle Disney Store. They wore them when we left home, at the airport, and their first day in Florida. I've posted a few photos of them wearing them for you to see how cute they look. I was able to personalize them easily before ordering to make them unique to our vacation. The Zazzle Disney Store has a lot of great designs and I've also posted links to many of the T-shirts in case you want to personalize your own for your family vacation!

During our vacation we stayed at the Lake Buena Vista Resort Village and Spa. What a wonderful place! It's clean, in a great location not far from Disney World, spacious, friendly, and plain old fun! I have absolutely nothing bad and all good to say about this resort. You never know when you go on a vacation what you will get, and I was so happy to see that all the people who had posted on facebook about how wonderful it is were correct. We had a three bedroom suite and it was gorgeous! Our own private balcony, a huge jacuzzi hot tub in the master bedroom as well as walk in shower, closets in every bedroom as well as in the bathroom, all the pots and pans, dishes, utensils, etc. you need, it even had a washing machine and drier so we were able to not only pack less, but also take home clean laundry! And because I own a business it was important to me to have email so I was relieved I was able to bring my laptop along and have internet capability as well.

When we first walked into our room, I walked into one of the bedrooms and peeked through the blind and saw the pirate ship pool out the window. Wow! No...let me rephrase that to WOW!!! I called the grandkids in (ages 3 and 7), pulled up the blind and said "Look". I still chuckle to think back on their screams and squeals of delight over seeing that pirate ship swimming pool for the first time. Ah such fun! They absolutely loved, loved, loved swimming in that pool and I have to say after coming from a winter in the land of ice and snow (michigan) I enjoyed sitting on a chair soaking up the sun and sipping on one of the wonderful slushies (smoothies?) from the outdoor bar, Lani's Luau.

We had such a blast at Disney and I couldn't have asked for a better place to stay. I would strongly recommend the Lake Buena Vista Resort to anyone vacationing in that area. And when I ever get back to Florida again, I will definitely stay there. The price was also amazingly good! And...they had a deal at the time that if you "liked" them on facebook, you got 15% off your bill. Amazing!

I'm not sure if it's because the beds were so comfortable or we were so tired from walking so much around the theme parks all day, but all of us, kids included, slept so well! I love to vacation but it often times is a bad experience for me trying to sleep because I find the beds uncomfortable, the room too stuffy, too noisy, etc, but wow, it was all just perfect. I had my own room, my daughter and her husband had the master suite, and the kids shared a room with twin beds. Every bedroom had a television and that was very nice too, although we didn't have much time for TV it was still nice to have it while we were there. We found all the bedding to be clean and nice.

The three bedroom suite had two full bathrooms, although the master suite bathroom could hardly be called a bathroom. It had a jacuzzi hot tub in the bedroom itself, a walk in shower, a double sink, and a private toilet room. The second bathroom had a tub/shower, single sink with cabinet, toilet, and good size wall cabinet/closet.

There is a Walmart not too far from the resort which was nice for picking up some of the items we decided to purchase there and not take from home like shampoo, soaps, laundry detergent, etc. Of course, there is also a mall right next door and a convenience store right on the premises which is actually pretty well stocked. We got take out food twice and ate once at the Frankie Farrell's Irish Pub & Grille. I found their food to be quite good.

There is a full size refrigerator in the suite, a full size sink, dishwasher, microwave, full size cooking range, and cabinets that hold all the cookware and dishes you'll need. The counter tops are granite. I almost hated to come home to my kitchen. lol The main area is spacious and open, the kitchen, dining room, and living room area all open to one another. There is a good size table to dine at with I believe six chairs around it and a light above it, the living area had a huge television, coffee table, sofa that also opened up into a bed I believe, and some chairs and end tables. The balcony is right off the living area and has high enough sides that you don't have to worry about the kids falling over a rail or any such thing. There is a little patio table and some chairs out there as well.

As for parking, we didn't have any problems. We parked on their parking deck and took an elevator up to our floor or walked up the one floor. It was an easy and not long walk to the swimming pool with the pirate ship from our room as well. We did rent a car while there right from the airport so I cannot comment on taking a bus from the resort to Disney as we did not do that at all.

All in all, a wonderful Disney family vacation. Oh, and I was also able to go to the ocean for the first time in my life. It's beautiful!

Thank you Disney and thank you Lake Bunea Vista Resort for your part in our having a most wonderful, fun, stress free, and much needed family vacation. Hope to see you again soon, I miss you!

Now check out some of the other Disney T-shirts you can customize or purchase as is for your Disney family vacation!

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