Smilo is a new local company founded by parents with backgrounds in medicine, science, and engineering. Smilo makes baby and toddler products such as bottles, pacifiers, and dishes. I received a newborn bundle and toddler accessories for review. My toddler son (born July 2015) and infant daughter (born April 2018) are enjoying the products so far!
The newborn bundle (in blue), came with a 3-pack of small bottles with Stage 0 and Stage 1 nipples, two bottle brushes, a 3-pack of newborn pacifiers, a 3-pack of pacifiers, a fabric clip and pacifier, and a baby blanket.
Bottles & Brushes:
Before we had our son, I registered for a set of Philips Avent bottles, a sterilizer, and bottle warmer on my Amazon registry. I wish I’d known back then to try a variety of bottles with him to see what fit him best (similar to how we held off on buying lots of one type of diapers until we found a brand that fit him well). The Philips bottles were okay, but we ended up trying a few other types until settling on Tommie Tippee (which were easy to clean, easy for baby to latch onto, and have an anti-colic valve).
My daughter isn’t yet taking a bottle because I haven’t returned to work, but I anticipate that Smilo bottles will work similarly well. According to the website, the Smilo “patented nipple design features a mom-like milk duct and leak-resistant vent, which work together to create a natural, uninterrupted flow that resembles breastfeeding. This minimizes air intake, taking pressure off of tiny tummies, mouths, and ears, which reduces colic, gas, and ear infections.” I appreciate that the bottles are BPA-free, light, and dishwasher-safe. Their distinctive color also stands out. I have used the bottle brushes for cleaning toddler water bottles, mini thermos, and cups, and they worked great. My son has also repurposed them as “microphones” during creative play.
Our son never took a pacifier (Soothie or Nuk) when he was an infant, and I was expecting that my daughter might not. The newborn pacifier has helped calm her down. The shape worked so much better than the Soothies did for our son. I appreciate that there are styles for different age ranges.
The day our daughter was born, our son learned how to climb out of the crib so we converted it to a toddler bed. He spotted the Smilo blanket from the bundle and declared that he wanted the “tars” (stars) for his “big boy bed.” He loves being tucked in at night and now wants our daughter to snuggle with him. It’s so soft, and the pattern is adorable. I wish it came in a bigger size!
Plates and Bowls:
I like the colors (orange, blue, purple, green). The lip on the edge of the plate helps food stay on (e.g., corn kernels, quinoa, berries).
I do have to remind myself to put them on the top rack of the dishwasher and to not microwave.
These have been a hit with my son! At first he had a hard time taking the lid off, but now he handles it well in the stroller and car seat. We have put in Cheerios, cheddar bunnies, and trail mix so far. The preschool set seems to find them fascinating, as one of our son’s classmates pointed out “you can only bring new toys on show and tell day!” when he arrived eating Cheerios out of the red car. I labeled the boxes using Sharpie so that they wouldn’t get lost at show-and-tell.
The boats are also a hit during bath time. We have used them to combat bath aversion and lure our son into the tub. I especially like that they are easy to clean and won’t gather mold. No picture in actual bath to avoid future embarrassment 🙂
Bonus: our son has enjoyed using the boxes and bundle bag in creative play. He has played “guitar” on the longer boxes, likes moving the boxes into bags and into “pilos” (how he says “pile”).
One of our favorite gifts is shipments of lemons and grapefruits from my aunt- and uncle-in-law (who live in Indio, California). These enormous citrus shipments bring a touch of brightness to our cold Boston winters. Even the lemons themselves are enormous. I brought a few to school once when I was on an infused-water kick. My students were so fascinated by them that they drew faces on them and gave them names (beginning with L, of course).
I saw this recipe for Morning Glory muffins on Sally’s Baking Addiction and decided to make them with the lemons from our latest shipment and use produce from our our Red Fire Farm Deep Winter CSA. Last week, we got apples, orange carrots, rainbow carrots, and eggs. I also omitted the nuts so that my son could take them to daycare. My changes are shown in bracketed comments below and are reflected in the directions.
I had so many shredded carrots and apples that I ended up making two batches. For the second, I accidentally added 1 cup brown sugar so I omitted the honey. Upon hearing me mention the mistake, my husband claimed that the second batch was “his.” The jury is out on which batch turned out better. I am usually loyal to butter in baked goods, so I was happily surprised the coconut oil and crushed pineapple worked out so well in these.
2 cups all-purpose flour [instead of whole wheat flour]
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
[1/2 teaspoon ground cloves]
[1/2 teaspoon crystallized ginger]
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs [used Red Fire Farm CSA eggs]
1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar [used light]
1/4 cup (85g) honey
1/3 cup (80ml) vegetable, canola oil, or melted coconut oil [used coconut oil]
[omitted applesauce – used 1 cup crushed pineapple]
1 teaspoon orange zest [changed to lemon zest]
[1/4 cup lemon juice instead of pineapple or orange juice]
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (75g) raisins, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes [subbed in dried cranberries]
[added 1/4 cup shredded coconut]
2 cups shredded carrots (about 4 large) [used Red Fire Farm orange and rainbow carrots. I shredded them in the food processor.]
1 cup (140g) shredded/grated apple (about 1 apple) [used Red Fire Farm apple. I also shredded it in the food processor]
Preheat oven to 425. Spray a 12-count muffin pan with nonstick spray. [The original recipe makes 16 muffins, but I made 12 really large ones.] In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, crystallized ginger, dried ginger, and salt together until combined. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, brown sugar, honey, coconut oil, crushed pineapple, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla together until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, stir a few times, then add the dried cranberries, carrots, and apple. Fold everything together gently just until combined and no flour pockets remain.
Spoon the batter into the muffin tin, filling them all the way to the top. Bake for 5 minutes at 425 then, keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 350. Bake for an additional 17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The total time these muffins take in the oven is about 23-24 minutes, give or take. Allow the muffins to cool for 10 minutes in the muffin sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool until ready to eat.
My son loved them! I will be taking some to work for lunch (packed in a Snack Taxi).
Math SL is a Diploma Programme (DP) course for grades 11 and 12, yet I’m unit planning in the IB Middle Years Programme (MYP) style since it’s consistent with our grades 6-10. MYP math has four criteria: A – Knowing and Understanding, B – Investigating Patterns, C – Communicating, and D – Applying Math in a Real-Life Context.
I’ve been racking my brain to come up with an authentic assessment (not a test) for my Rational Functions Unit. In this unit, we are focusing on the following objectives from the IB Math SL syllabus:
2.5 The reciprocal function x → 1/x, x ≠ 0, its graph and self-inverse nature. The rational function x → ax+b/cx +d and its graph. Vertical and horizontal asymptotes. Applying rational functions to real-life situations.
My statement of inquiry for the unit is “Representing change and equivalence in a variety of forms has helped humans apply our understanding of scientific principles.” I’d been looking at population growth, water flow, and light (via Until Next Stop) after checking out the MTBoS, but couldn’t quite get the right assessment.
Then I found The Math Projects Journal Optimum Bait Company task and hint cards. This approach seemed great for scaffolding problems like this one, which students had had trouble with:
When printing out the Optimum Bait Company task, I ran into a coworker in the teachers’ lounge. We got to chatting about modeling production costs. She is an English teacher, but I feel like she’s my in-person MTBoS because she brings so many interesting approaches to teaching and problem-solving. We talked about the larger question “how do you know when to enter a market?” and concepts such as barrier to entry (overall cost of running a business, competition, willingness to buy), sunk cost, marginal cost, and bringing in investors.
This conversation led me to create my own task about my friend’s company (Winter Hill Jewelry), because the marginal cost of production of earrings seemed like it would be similar to the bait problems (and the problems from the textbook). I asked her what kind of printer she used and how much filament was needed for a pair of earrings. She replied “Flash Forge and on average, 3 grams of filament per pair of dangle earrings.”
I found pricing for fish hooks and PLA filament on Amazon, then found a few prices for FlashForge 3D printers. I recalled that Vanessa had space at Artisans Asylum, so I checked out their memberships and studio rental costs. I realized that Artisans provides 3D printer usage to members (at a cost of $0.10 per gram of PLA used), so I moved the “buy your own 3D printer” option to a homework problem.
I used the slides and task document linked at the bottom of this post to introduce the task and support students’ work. I started by asking “what questions could you ask about these earrings?” and “what do you notice?” Some students went right to “how much do they cost?” Some focused on geometric patterns in the designs. Others picked up on the fact that they were 3D printed (they’d done some 3D printing in summer enrichment).
I explained the origin story of Winter Hill Jewelry and then asked them to brainstorm what goes into the cost of making 3D printed earrings. Lots of great ideas came out in the groups: ads, URL, shipping, electricity, workspace/rent, labor, taxes, investors, and more. I showed them the monthly recurring costs (workspace, 3D printer PLA, and fish hooks), then explained that we were going to use hint cards to support their perseverance through longer independent work. The hint cards didn’t work as I had intended, so I changed strategy for the second class (offering more conversation when I noticed they were off versus holding to the “only thing I can offer is a hint card”). For example, when a student asked “am I right?” when proposing a per-unit cost of $652, I told him “I own three pairs of these earrings. Do you think it makes sense on a teacher’s salary to buy something that’s $652 before profit?”
We’ll finish out the task on Monday and revisit the traditional form of IB exam-style problems–I am curious to see if the students do better as a result of exploring problems like this one!
Winter Hill Jewelry Task and Slides.
My toddler (nicknamed snoop) loves to eat and now help me cook! He seems to prefer vegetarian meals (e.g., black bean soup, macaroni and cheese, chana masala) so I was happy that he enjoyed this Good Cheap Eats chili with ground beef. I figured that he enjoyed the flavors, so I used the recipe as a base to make a vegetarian version with hominy instead of beef. I also changed some of the spices and swapped black beans for kidney beans. Snoop liked helping me cook by dumping the canned ingredients and pre-measured spices into the slow cooker, then pushing the button to start the slow cooker.
½ onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
Veggies like carrot or green pepper, chopped (optional)
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped and seeded (optional)
two 29-ounce cans pinto beans, drained
one 30-ounce can kidney beans, drained
one 30-ounce can hominy, drained
1 cup tomato sauce
14.5 ounce can petite diced tomatoes (fire-roasted or with green chilies)
1 cup water
3 tablespoons Penzeys Chili 3000 seasoning
2 to 4 tablespoons masa harina (this thickens the chili and adds flavor, but it can be omitted if you prefer)
1. Cook the onion, jalapeno, and veggies (if using) in a skillet with the olive oil until the onions start to soften. Add the garlic and cook for a few more minutes.
2. Transfer the onion-garlic-jalapeno-veggie mixture to the slow cooker. Add the beans, tomatoes, hominy, water, and spices. Stir to combine.
3. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4 hours. (I often prepared this recipe on Saturday nights and just took it out on Sunday morning after the slow cooker switched to “warm” mode).
4. Remove the lid and stir in masa harina to thicken the liquid to your desired consistency.
Chili can be chilled and frozen in an airtight container for up to 2 months.
Snoop likes it plain, but we like a variety of toppings: sour cream, chopped scallions, grated cheddar cheese, or hot sauce. I have put it over macaroni noodles to make chili mac and would like to pair it with crock pot corn bread (with this as the creamed corn, since I recently bought regular corn instead) or the non-Jiffy mix version.
The last time I came to the Woodstock, Vermont area was to run the 2010 Covered Bridges Half Marathon. My husband Ethan has also run this race several times (before it started to sell out within minutes), making it a racecation with a big group from Cambridge Running Club (CRC). Seven years later, we both came back with a big CRC group. But instead of chasing half marathon PR’s, we all chased our kids around Fat Sheep Farm & Cabins in nearby Hartland, Vermont.
The CRC connection continues: Fat Sheep Farm was founded by Todd, one of our oldest CRC friends, and his fiancee Suzy. Both of them live there with their 3-month old daughter. Todd and Suzy both changed careers to follow their passions for food, farming, and travel. Over the past few years, they found the site, set up the pastures and fields, added infrastructure such as solar panels, began growing crops, added animals, and built five rental cabins. They currently have three Nigerian dwarf goats (Billy, Brady, and Gronk), three ewes (Brie, Blue, and Feta), two rams (Mr. Socks and Manchego), one rooster, and sixteen chickens. They sell fruits, vegetables, and eggs at local farmer’s markets. Suzy makes cheese at nearby Cobb Hill Farm.
The cabins that are perfect for a weekend getaway (whether you are going as a couple, friend group, or family). All of the spacious, fully-stocked cabins overlook fields and mountains. The smallest cabin size (Sunrise or Sunset) worked well for one CRC couple and their 3-month-old. When our son Parker is older, we’d appreciate the biggest cabins (Lull Brook or Four Corners), which have one bedroom and a loft. Our other friends’ 8-year-old twins loved going up the spiral staircase and sleeping in the loft.
We stayed in Ascutney, which was perfect for two parents + one 2-year-old. Parker had ample space to play with toys in the living room, and there was just enough space for us to place his pack and play at the foot of our bed in the bedroom. Since our home baby monitor is not wifi-enabled, we bought an Amcrest wifi camera to use as a travel baby monitor. We connected it to the cabin wifi and placed it on one of the small kitchen stools so that we could view him on our phones.
We enjoyed cooking in the kitchen, and especially appreciated the eggs and homemade bread that Suzy and Todd left for us (to make a triple-local breakfast sandwich, add Cobb Hill cheese).
We had planned to stop at Hannaford on the way up to stock up on groceries, but ended up skipping that because a traffic jam added about an hour to our trip. This actually turned out fine because we went out for two meals. We made coffee, eggs, toast with peanut butter or butter, and a green chili stew with beans and rice for the other meals. We packed a bunch of HappyTot pouches, Kirkland applesauce pouches, Harvest Crisp snap peas, Ella’s Kitchen nibblers, and Kirkland cheddar ducks as backup toddler food. Parker sat at the small kitchen table to eat his meals and we ate at the kitchen island (which was also perfect for doing a jigsaw puzzle–tall enough to keep little prying hands away).
Each morning, Suzy and Todd invite guests to take part in feeding and herding the animals. The older kids loved walking the sheep down to the pasture, putting hay in the goats’ cage, giving the goats and chickens grain, and collecting eggs from the chicken coops. Parker liked saying hello to the sheep in the barn and saying “bye bye goats!” as they ran to their pen, but he was bit skittish about feeding them or walking into the pasture. Later in the day, he warmed up to feeding the chickens some overgrown lettuce from the fields after watching the other kids do it.
Suzy and Todd also give tours of the fields and explain what crops they are planting. This week, we saw zinnias, potatoes, decorative corn, lettuce, and much more on Parker’s second “CRC visit to Farmer Todd’s fields.” Back in April 2015, Ethan and I (and Parker, in utero) went with two other CRC friends to Todd’s urban farm in Lowell to help him sift compost and take it out to the fields with wheelbarrows. It was a fun contrast to see fully grown crops (with a fully grown baby running around them). One of our friends got truly into the farm-to-table experience by helping Todd weed the potato fields and making dinner using farm vegetables.
During the day, cornhole, ladder toss, and horseshoes are all available for lawn festivities. Parker learned how to play cornhole from Todd and liked “helping” us play against each other. He loved kicking his soccer ball around the lawn, examining every single rock he could find, and inspecting Todd’s truck.
Lots of activities are just a short drive away, such as picking blueberries at Clay Hill Corners. We had a great time going as a group, and came back with 5.8 pounds of blueberries!
Cobb Hill Farm is also close by. We did a short hike and bought some delicious cheese.At night, we loved sitting around the fire pit in Adirondack chairs. We recommend bringing s’mores fixings and bug spray. We can’t wait to go back for another Vermont farm getaway!
Connect with Fat Sheep Farm:
Website | Instagram | Facebook | TripAdvisor
Book on AirBnB:
The 2016-2017 school year is finally over (as of June 28), and I’m now in the Brandeis teacher leadership program summer component for most of July. This year has been incredibly rewarding in terms of growth as a teacher and as a leader, but I haven’t quite figured out how to reflect on that growth or figure out how to just sit down and write!
Changing habits is an interesting beast. The “run at 5:30 a.m. on weekdays” habit finally gelled for me this year, when I tricked myself into running before work so that I could hang out with my husband and son after work. That habit wasn’t as difficult to start as some others because I’ve been running since 1995, so I had some subconscious muscle memory going there. This year I finally wrote my first DonorsChoose project proposals after years of thinking “no one will fund that” or “I don’t have time to write that.” Turns out that encouraging words from a few colleagues and promising one that I’d pay him $5 if I didn’t post by the end of the day finally got me to do it. So, it’s time to trick myself into blogging and tweeting regularly (likely by telling friends “I’ll give you $5 if I don’t write this blog post”). I often store ideas in Evernote and say “I’ll blog about that” but then abandon it in favor of lesson planning or teacher leadership work, so here goes!
On September 7, 2016 (the first day of school), my dad wrote to me:
“We are confident that you are a good teacher like your late grandfather Romulo. I remember him walking miles to reach his assigned elementary schools and people always addressed him “Maestro”. Teaching is a noble profession and it is rewarding to see the learning eyes of the young. There used to be a poem titled the “ Clay of Youth” which enunciates how the youth is molded. It is a beautiful poem, see attached.”
I took a piece of plastic clay, And idly fashioned it one day, And as my
fingers pressed it, still it bent and yielded to my will.
I came again when days were past, The bit of clay was hard at last, Its
early impress still it bore, But I could change the form no more.
I took a piece of Living clay, And gently formed it day by day, And molded
with my power and art, A boy’s soft and yielding heart.
I came again when years were gone, It was a man I looked upon, My early
impress still he bore, And I could change him nevermore.
Two days later, this daycare newsletter picture of my son “teaching” his younger infant friends about the sun, clouds, and a heart made me smile. My dad commented “It is so nice to see Parker acting as a teacher! It is in his blood.”
That made me wonder more about our family history of teaching. Per my dad, both my grandparents were “educated by American teachers known as “Thomasites” sent by the United States in 1901. The Thomasites taught, English, agriculture, reading, grammar, geography, mathematics, general courses, trade courses, housekeeping and household arts (sewing, crocheting and cooking), manual trading, mechanical drawing, freehand drawing and athletics (baseball, track and field, tennis and others). This was the curriculum in 1902 – 1935.” My grandfather completed secondary education and became a teacher. My grandmother completed elementary school and then went on to raise seven children. I’d assumed she had been a teacher too because of her reputation as the town matriarch, but it turns out that she was the OG “mom-preneur” back in the day. She sent my dad’s two oldest sisters to Catholic school in a neighboring gown by managing my grandfather’s salary and earning extra income. According to my dad, “on occasion, she had to mortgage our rice lands if she was short of cash for school fees. She was very good in raising supplemental income by raising live stocks, like pigs, chickens, turkey, ducks, goats, cows and grow exotic orchids and beautiful potted roses for a good price to the wealthy folks in our town. She was able to own and operate a small convenient store which provided additional income to her family. Because we were barely making a good threshold of standard of living, our birthday celebration was to plant a fruit tree to commemorate the occasion. If we are not around, she will plant the fruit tree for us. The land is filled with fruit bearing trees which provide income from the sale of fruits.”
We don’t have any pictures of my grandfather Romulo teaching, but my dad sent this 1982 picture of my aunt Betty (one of his six siblings) who became a teacher.
Parker’s been to my 106-year-old school (as an infant during my 2015 maternity leave), so he’s used to visiting historical school buildings. I hope that one day he could also see the schools in which his great-aunt and great-grandfather taught (if they still exist), and to see the fruit trees from long ago.
One of my Brandeis classmates told me “we can’t turn our kids into what we want. They already have personalities and temperaments. We can get to know *who* they are.” Parker is still in the “moldable” clay stage and I look forward to learning what kind of learner he will be. As I head into the second week of my teacher leadership program, I hope to retain some of that moldable quality and keep an open mind for my tenth year of teaching.
Got inspired by the MTBoS when I saw a tweet from Tina:
It made me think of an activity that I did for data analysis this year, focusing on the statement of inquiry: “How quantities are represented can establish underlying trends or relationships in a population.” We had learned measures of central tendency, stem-and-leaf plots, box plots, bar graphs, and histograms, so I was curious how they would apply these types of data analysis when given this statement of inquiry.
I asked the students what they thought the three most popular apps were for teens and the amount of time they estimated teens spent on those apps. They gave estimates like “Snapchat – 60 hours, Instagram – 70 hours, Facebook – 80 hours.” I then taught them how to find the time spent on iPhone apps, like this:
We collected data for all the iPhone users in 9th grade and then from staff members who were willing to share their usage data. I turned them loose with just these directions: “1) Analyze the data set for trends, using the math we have learned so far for data analysis. 2) Analyze the predictions people made. How close were the predictions?” For them, the hardest part was learning how to focus their analysis around subgroups of people (e.g., teens vs adults, females vs males) or around apps of their choices (e.g., one girl grouped all music apps as one category).
Today a friend emailed this math problem to me.
What *is* the “right” way for math anyway? Is technology inherently less “right” than algebra? Solving it graphically by Desmos (or by TI-84) still solves the problem, but maybe that doesn’t feel as elegant or satisfying. I did want to share the joy of Desmos (since my non-math teacher peers aged mid- to late-thirties did not grow up with it), so I sent the following screenshot (before I eventually solved it algebraically).
“Ha ha, neat toy.
Since I forgot all the tricks to resolve mixes of square roots and variables, I looked at it as, it must be an integer since what awful brain teaser would have 4.87645372 as an answer, and it had to be a number with an integer square root, and that square root had to be less than half of 15, and the square of that number is 15 less than the square of (15 – that number). So I tried 7 first, 7 + 8 = 15, square of 7 is 49 which is 15 less than square of 8 (64) so that was it. 7 squared, 49. Had that not worked I would have tried 6, 5, 4 etc.
In the meantime, I’ve filled the backs of two envelopes with desperate attempts to solve it algebraically, going nowhere.”
Poor friend! Sent this to him:
I then sent it to my math colleagues (and my boss, who is a former math teacher).
Boss’ response, which I will ask to see in its original form, since email apparently translated it into gibberish.
Alternate Hint: Try putting the square roots on different sides of the equation and canceling 🙂
I took a pic of my work but don’t want to spoil it… email me if you want a look-y-loo. Thanks for the Thursday PM pick-me-up!
I emailed her to trade answers and she solved it this way. It made us both happy to solve it algebraically, but differently!
So there you have it:
1) logical way
2) graphical way
3) algebraic way #1
4) algebraic way #2
…how many more ways?
As much as I dislike Facebook, I do find value in the “On this Day” feature. From April 21, 2011, I wrote this note. Six years later, 3) through 6) are still so important for teaching (and now parenting). Six years later, we have Google Classroom, SeeSaw, Workplace, ClassDojo, Khan Academy and countless other technologies that increase our ability to access content or transmit content to our colleagues or students. Six years later, we have Amazon PrimeNow to get whatever baby product we need within two hours. We have similar access to “wisdom” via countless online mommy/baby forums, sleep consultants, and ScaryMommy/Pregnant Chicken-esque blogs. We can also transmit our content in those forums, in mommy Facebook groups, or on group iMessage threads during late-night feeding sessions.
Increasing access to or ability to transmit content doesn’t make teaching or parenting any easier if the emotional aspects aren’t addressed.
“From my roommate, who attended a talk about happiness by an HBS negotiation professor tonight. The HBS students voted for the three professors who they wanted to hear from, and these are the main points of the first talk.”
1) Quit early and often. Save up enough to make it monetarily possible for you to do so, and make your own choices.
2) Create value and worry about monetizing it later. The opposite is thievery (going where the money is and trying to create value).
3) Cultivate empathy. See the world through gentler eyes, because you will be better for it.
4) Learn humility. Either humility or arrogance is not enough; you must have a combination to succeed.
5) Learn from unlikely sources and don’t judge your teachers. Everyone around you can teach you something. Even if it’s harsh, if you are willing to take it, you can’t go wrong.
6) Make time for reflection. Ask questions about who you’ve become and who you were. Build in this time to keep reevaluating. You don’t need to aim for being stagnant and stable. Inevitably, things will change about you.
Via a fellow Mom of Camberville 2.0. #solidarity