Illuminating Stella

April 2015 archive

Pretend City Children’s Museum

I took Stella to Pretend City in Irvine recently and she had the best time. We met up with some friends and just let the girls explore the whole place. The concept is basically a full city of kid size places to visit. There is a Marina, Beach, Post Office, Grocery Store, Diner, Dentist Office, Doctor’s Office, a Farm, Construction Zone, Two-Bedroom home, Art Studio, Gas Station, Theater and more and more. Each station offered suitable activities, costumes and props to play with. It’s just a perfect place for a toddler, they can touch everything. There is also room for growth for future visits as the concepts start to click for your child. It’s really well done, organized and clean. We only stopped for a few minutes to enjoy a packed lunch and Stella was right back at it. She did not want to leave. This place is definitely going to warrant a return visit soon, we may even have to consider a membership. They also offer free health and developmental screenings on certain days which is really cool. My only snicker was for the red BMW convertible for the kids to “drive”. I guess in Irvine they start marketing to the very, very young to desire that requisite Beemer! LOL.  Sorry for the blurry iPhone photos.


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Stella’s Library – Potty Training Books

We are in the midst of potty training around here. Mostly having success with the liquid portion of the equation and still struggling with the other type of deposit. Sorry, it’s hard to discuss potty training without things getting a bit gross!

We started potty training a long time ago with Stella by buying her a froggy potty at Target and a few books to broach the topic. She was excited at first and tried a bit, but just really didn’t commit to the concept. Since starting school she has really been potty trained there and has been wearing underwear to school with no accidents for 3-4 months at this point. They go as a group at scheduled intervals. I think she really loves the social aspect of pottying with her friends.

She has also been pretty successful outside the home and has told me she needs to potty at the park, while shopping and at friends houses. We bought a Potette that I take with us to the park, which has been really a big help. Especially since park bathrooms can be unclean and she doesn’t seem to feel too comfortable if I have to hold her over the toilet so she doesn’t fall in. Honestly she has had no accidents that I recall outside the home. At home seems to be the most challenging. Things did improve when we bought her a potty seat that fits into our toilet instead of the froggy potty. It’s way less gross too by the way. However, if I am not diligent about reminding and insisting she go try, like if I get busy and forget to take her, she will sometimes tell me, but sometimes she still goes in her undies. She wakes up dry almost every morning and for naps. We are still putting her in a diaper at night. For naps I lay a waterproof pad under her just to protect the bedding (though we also have a waterproof mattress protector under the sheets). As I mentioned number two is also still a big challenge. Not even going to get into it. So we press on. We are getting there, just not 100% yet.

I thought I would do a post on the potty training books we have been reading in tandem with all of this activity. Some we bought and a few were given to us. I think they have been really helpful and Stella seems to genuinely enjoy reading them over and over AND over.


Potty by Leslie Patricelli is one of my favorites. I love her whole series though. This book is cute, simple and straight-forward. It would be a really great book for families with pets, as it talks about where cats and dogs go potty too. Also, it’s a good starter book if you want to introduce the concept earlier than two.


Daniel Tiger is one of Stella’s favorite shows. There is an episode about potty training that is also super helpful that includes a great little jingle to sing that really addresses the heart of the matter with our trainee. “When you have to go potty, stop and go right away. Flush and wash and be on your way.” This book is a mini-version of that message and has a cute little button to press that makes the sound of a toilet flushing. Guess who loves that feature!


This book is really cute for little girls. It talks about all the other females your daughter might know and that they all wear panties like it’s a big girl badge of coolness. She also talks about all the different colors and pattern options of panties. This really appeals to my fashion conscious trainee. The illustrations are super darling.


This book feels a little more dated to me, it was written in the 70’s and it just feels like it too.  But we also like it. The little girl in the book, Prudence potties in what looks like a chamberpot and that seemed a bit confusing to me. There is also a boy version.


We have lots of Karen Katz Books and this one is really cute. Getting to wear undies is definitely a goal for Stella because of books like this.


Another Karen Katz book. This one focuses more on the act itself and the patience it takes to have success on the potty. So it’s nice to have two different angles covered with potty training. Both Karen Katz books address accidents and that they are ok and to move on from there.

Stella – Age 2 and 3/4


Dear Stella,

You are now 2 and 3/4 of a year old. I haven’t done a letter to you post in a while. You have grown so much in the last year, sometimes it’s plain shocking. I cannot believe we are coming up on a 3rd birthday celebration. That just floors me.

You are a lively, spunky kid who has a huge burning curiosity and desire to soak up as much about the world as you can. You have questions about everything. If you are awake you are moving and talking, often dancing, running or singing. I sometimes feel like you operate on a higher activity frequency than I could ever hope to match. You love school and eagerly dash into the classroom twice a week and would be happy to stay well past when I come to pick you up. You recently sang in church with your preschool class for Palm Sunday and you were front and center, loudly singing your heart out. You have no stage fright at all and love to perform.

You have been taking a ballet class for a month or so and also love to dance. You are totally enamored with your ballet teachers and friends in class. I am looking forward to your June recital and your first official performance. I am kind of amazed with how coordinated you already seem to be, you can remember a few positions and most of the choreography for your upcoming recital.  We still hang out a lot with my Mom group and you adore all of your toddler cohorts. You are very fascinated with figuring out who belongs with which families and like to talk about your friends from the group and school all the time, you have lots of funny stories. You are still a bit hyper and aggressive at times, but we have seen tremendous improvement in this area. You love to tell me “Mama I’ll be a good listener” when you are caught being naughty.

You are super tall, one of the tallest your age and are often mistaken for a 3 and sometimes 4-year-old when we are out. I think you are taking after my Mom with your height. According to stats you are in the 90th percentile for height. I am buying 4T tops for you as you are long in the torso. Otherwise you are a 3T for dresses and pants. We just bumped you up to size Toddler 9 shoes.

Your vocabulary is large and ever-increasing. You can also remember lyrics to songs and have a musical mind that amazes me. You also recount characters and plots from books and shows with great affection. We have had Disney passes this year and your favorite thing is to meet the characters, especially the Princesses. Once you meet a Princess you are transfixed. Currently you are obsessed with Mulan and Merida. You keep telling me you want a Mulan birthday party. Stuff like this amazes me, that you are paying attention to notice other kids parties seem to have a character theme  and you make the connection to announce what theme you want for your birthday party. It just seems like you are too little to get this. We are having to really watch what we say around you anymore too. You are listening to it all. Your favorite books right now are “Ella Kazoo Will Not Brush Her Hair”  and “The World Champion of Staying Awake”.

Your favorite color has changed from yellow to pink. You want pink everything, especially when getting dressed. You also specifically want to be in dresses and talk back quite a bit when I try to put you in pants. This extends to nighttime where you now insist on nightgowns and refuse pajamas. If it were up to you, you would be in a pink dress all the time. Often its a princess dress over a pink dress. You are drawn like a moth to flame to any super girly stuff like jewelry, make-up and frills. I believe it is innate within you. I expect that you will one day be a big shopper with a great passion for fashion.

You are adamant about being a big girl. If I call you baby, you always correct me.  You hate to ride in your stroller and the shopping cart at the grocery story, like it literally pains you to be confined. You want freedom.  I am trying to work with you on this, but you also have a little impulse control problem and want to touch everything in the store. Potty training is going fairly well, we are still working on #2, but you are in undies most of the time during the day now, accidents are less and less. You wake up with a dry diaper almost every morning, so we will probably brave overnights soon. We still occasionally chicken out for out of the ordinary things like a long car ride or singing in church. But we are getting there.

You brighten our days and nights beyond measure! Lots of love,

Mom and Dad