Introducing…

Allison Birth Announcement

It all started when I let Eric talk me into having a drink with him one random evening…the moral of the story is don’t let Eric pour drinks…or perhaps, it’s get snockered to get pregnant because Matthew happened after 2 bottles of wine…#myuterusneedsastiffdrink

So it was no secret that we said we were done having kids. I realized a little too late that I had some serious postpartum anxiety issues after Matthew; add to that some serious back issues, and throw in a case of PCOS (possible infertility issues) and it just didn’t seem another baby was in the cards for us. We tried on and off for about 2 years with no luck and continued going back and forth on whether I could handle pregnancy and sleepless nights again.

But OF COURSE all it took was us cleaning out the basement to get rid of all of the baby stuff, scheduling Eric a vasectomy consultation, and filling out paperwork to start the adoption process for me to start feeling all “off”…

We visited some friends on July 4th last year for a weekend of fun. Except after one sip of an adult beverage I felt like I was going to throw up. And by 10:00 I was curled up on the couch asleep. Fast forward a week or two and it was pretty clear what was going on. I opened the medicine cabinet one morning and there was a pregnancy test just sitting in the front staring me down. It came back positive within seconds and I may have had a full-blown anxiety attack. Thank you Fit Bit…

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I also may have called Eric at work and yelled “What did you do?!!!!”. Of course it’s amazing how quickly you can go from “I can’t do this again” to “ooh, look, a baby!”. Ha!

At this point things get fuzzy because I’m pretty sure I spent the next 6-8 weeks curled up on the floor dying. The nausea was unreal. If I did have to leave the house I loaded my pockets with Preggie Drops and Morning Sickness tea bags (I couldn’t drink it, only sniff it. So yes, I was the scowling woman sitting in the back of gymnastics lessons huffing herbs..).

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By this point, I KNEW it was a girl. I have great intuition and also knew Matthew was a boy. We actually paid to go to Becoming Mom for a gender reveal ultrasound as soon as we could because Eric was antsy. He was supposed to come with me, but got pulled into an emergency conference call. So we got to send him teasing pictures all afternoon instead of breaking the news…

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Matthew tagged along (man, was he a champ and my little doctor appointment buddy throughout–he LOVED going to the appointments).

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We had a little scare at the 20 week anatomy scan. After a hour and 15 minute scan (!) they finally let me in on their find of a coroid plexus cyst, with a quick “OMG DON’T WORRY”. My midwife was angry they even told me about it. It’s a cyst of fluid on the brain, but it’s apparently very, very common. They often go away before the baby is born, but even if it doesn’t it can be a common, non-problematic thing. Of course it could also be a sign of Trisomy 13, which is why the in-depth scan was needed. After some googling, I actually felt okay after my appointment, until I got a call 3 days later from the OB who reviewed my chart and wanted to talk about the baby’s heart problems…Thankfully I was proactive, asked a 100 questions, and realized THEY HAD THE CHARTS MIXED UP! Needless to say I demanded another ultrasound for reassurance, but gah! It was also at this point that I really tried to push Eric for a homebirth, but he said we’d have gut the bathroom afterwards and he didn’t want to take that on. I still kind of regret that and seriously considered just having the baby at home, like whoops? But more ultrasounds mean more pictures of the baby!

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We did decide to deliver at Family Beginnings, which is about 45 minutes away. It’s a birth center within a hospital, so we kind of got the best of both worlds (natural, family-centered care with only a hallway between in case of any emergencies). Since they don’t even offer epidurals and many other interventions, I didn’t have to stress and advocate so hard for myself this time around. Eric was STRESSED about the 45 minute drive, especially since Matthew was only a 4 hour labor, but I’m happy to say we made it.

I had prodromal labor for about a week before she was born. At my 39 week appointment, my midwife checked my cervix and I was neither dilated nor effaced. At all. Matthew was born at 39 weeks and I was 3 centimeters dilated a week before that. So needless to say I left that appointment a bit discouraged, especially since they wanted to go ahead and schedule a stress test for the next appointment.

Determined to get things moving we headed to a local outdoor mall and walked for a couple of hours that night. The next day, I took some “bonding” time and went shopping “with the baby”. I feel most of labor is mental, and clearly something was blocking me from feeling completely ready. I know I was still terrified of the sleepless nights to come and was still holding on to the possibility that something was wrong with the baby. So we went to buy cute hairbows and dresses, and I just spent a lot of time visualizing and thinking happy thoughts. It may sound insane, but after an evening walk through IKEA that night, I woke up at 11pm with contractions so strong I couldn’t sleep.

Previous nights the contractions started at exactly 7pm and ended by 9pm. They were 12-15 minutes apart and weren’t really painful, but uncomfortable. But these were definitely stronger. I went into the nursery to the rocking chair and slept on and off for a couple hours. The contractions were still 12 minutes apart exactly, so I decided to hop in the bath to see if I could get things going. Within minutes my contractions were 6 minutes apart. After an hour in the bath and contractions 5 minutes apart, I decided to wake Eric.

We had a poll going with some friends and checked in via text to tell them whoever had today was more than likely going to win. After texting back and forth for awhile, I realized my contractions were back to 10 minutes apart, so I bailed out and commanded no one to talk to me.

We called Grandma to come get Matthew. He had the option to come to the delivery, but decided to go to Grandma’s instead. He now regrets that decision. He’s declared that the next person that has a baby has to take him along. 🙂

I was still feeling pretty good and wasn’t certain if we should head to the hospital yet, but with the history of quick labor and the drive, we headed out. Eric couldn’t have been too stressed though because he asked if we could go through Starbucks. And OF COURSE I had a bad contraction and started moaning right as he was ordering. Three ladies came to the window and asked if I needed anything while glaring at Eric. He was just like, “The tea and cookie is for her!”

The ride wasn’t bad at all, only having 4 contractions in the car–MIND OVER MATTER. Ha! But by the time I walked into the hospital, they were back to a few minutes apart and strong. Or so I thought…they checked my cervix and I was only 4 centimeters and my water hadn’t broken…oh wait! Water broke! Thanks, Nurse! OHHH, hello real contractions. Things progressed quickly at this point (2 hours from water breaking to delivery!).

They started the tub for me–I wasn’t planning a water birth, but I did want to labor in the tub. Let me just be clear that while some ladies can wear a bathing suit or gown while birthing, I cannot. I don’t want anything touching me. So I stripped down to all my pregnant glory and hopped in. But I. Could. Not. Get. Comfortable. I was feeling all the contractions in my back, which was horrible. So I finally found this weird crab-walk position in the tub that felt ok and then looked around. I had 2 midwives, 2 nurses, and Eric sitting against the wall staring at me. Um, hello? So I made a joke about feeling like a circus animal on display, and they asked if I wanted them to leave. Um, yes…

Interestingly the water was not helping this time, so I got out and tried to find a comfortable spot. The only thing that felt ok was bending over the sink in the bathroom while swaying and dipping my hips. I remember trying to hold on to Eric’s shoulders during one contraction, then freaking out halfway through the contraction because I was afraid I was going to get fluids on his shoes. HE WORE BRAND NEW SHOES TO HAVE A BABY. WHO WEARS BRAND NEW SHOES TO HAVE A BABY?!

I ended up squatting next to the bed to deliver. I still don’t think my thighs have forgiven me for that. They put the baby on the bed in front of me after the midwife caught her and my first thought was “Oh my God, she looks like Matthew!” and my second thought was “she’s so tiny!” They predicted she was going to be tiny–she wasn’t, but after having a 4 year old, she looked tiny! Eric was smart enough to stay on the other side of the bed this time (after passing out while watching Matthew’s birth).

After lumbering onto the bed (not the easiest thing to do after squatting for 3 hours, pushing a baby out in 3 pushes, and still having the baby attached to the umbilical cord), she latched on and nursed right away. Like STRONG latch. Wide awake. And she peed on me. Twice. Spoiler alert–she pees on me ALL THE TIME. I also remember the midwife telling me I had no tears and me telling her to check again. Ha! I had a labial tear with Matthew (who knew that could even happen?) and I was convinced I had to have torn this time because the midwife had her hand in the birth canal holding a cervical lip out of the way while I delivered. Bodies are amazing things…

I kept her with me for at least 30-45 minutes while they cleaned the room, then they asked if I wanted her weighed and measured–8lbs, 4oz, and 21.25″–not so tiny!  This was some amazing bonding time, but I was glad to hand her off. They were worried I was hemorrhaging because I wouldn’t stop bleeding. I also hadn’t eaten anything since 6:00 the previous night, and hadn’t had a good night’s sleep in a week. So yeah, *I* almost passed out this time. After they took the baby I couldn’t even sit up. The good thing about natural care is no one panicked, they were just like honey, order some food. And a lot of it! I ordered a meal for both Eric and I and ate both of them plus food I had packed. Ravenous, I tell ya.

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They did give me a shot of pitocin to try to stop the bleeding, and gaaaaah the pain was horrible. Every time she latched on, I’d have contractions so strong I’d get nauseous. And then I’d have to go to the bathroom. So I’d hobble to the bathroom with a baby latched on. #secondtimemom (For the record, no hemorrhaging. My body was just DONE with the whole pregnancy thing and was kicking the remaining fluids out like crazy).

After ordering food two more times, we turned in for the night. The nurses checked on us at 9pm and said they wouldn’t come back in until 6am. Heavenly! And then Eric and I woke up at 1am and thought the baby was dead because she was still asleep. So I woke up and nursed her and then the nurses woke us up at 6. So yeah, WE GOT A SLEEPER!

That morning we packed up to go home and got moved to a traditional hospital room (out of the birth center) while they did the routine bloodwork. And OMG this is where things went downhill. Her bloodwork came back showing mild jaundice, so they couldn’t discharge her. Matthew had a more severe case and they told us to take him home and put him by a window. We used the on-call pediatrician since we were so far away, and she was a moron. If I ever see this woman on the street I will have to resist beating her. So after a bunch of drama that I can’t even think about without getting angry, and an extra night in the hospital, we made it perfectly clear that if they didn’t discharge her we were leaving anyway. This came after they told me I had to start discharge because I had no medical reason to be there, but the baby would have to stay. Ha. Hahahahaha. Um, no. Try me, people. Try me.

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Oh, and this is all going down on Easter Sunday. So we missed Easter with Matthew. And my birthday. And a beautiful sunny 75 degree day, where said jaundiced baby could you know, be OUTSIDE IN THE SUN. And to prove I’m not just being dramatic, our pediatrician apologized that this happened to us and was outraged along with us…gaaaahhhh.

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Poor Matthew had a crazy weekend, but after Grandma brought him home and everyone stopped gushing over the baby, he looked at me and whispered, “Is it my turn to hold her yet?” And just like that, everyone was smitten.

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Tales From the Crib: Month 22

22 months

Gooooing to the chapel and I’m goooona get mar-ar-ar-ied…

That’s right! It was super wedding month!  This past weekend, I got married. I walked down the aisle and everything.

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Not sure why Uncle Moose is in the picture with Aunt Amy, but I think we can all agree that everyone came to see me.  Though, I’m still waiting on all those shiny presents to be delivered to my house. Weird.

Friday was the Rehearsal, or as I like to call it, Run-Around-the-Church-Eating-Snacks time.

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Then we went to fancy restaurant, and I got a fancy pizza and ate fancy bread, and dressed all fancy, too.  We didn’t get done until like 9:00. We stayed in a hotel, where I got my very own Big Bed! By the time we checked in, I was very tired, jumped in the bed, pulled up the blanket, and went right to sleep all by myself.  Yes, yes, I know–I’m amazing.

The next day was WEDDING DAY!  Finally, the day I’ve been waiting for my whole life all week (I asked Mommy every morning if was time to go to Grandma’s and go to church with Amy).  Mommy and Daddy and me were all in the wedding, so it was a bit chaotic getting everyone ready and to the church. But all went swimmingly.  Mommy and Daddy got to ride in the Limo (pretty much the coolest car I’ve ever seen), and I got to ride in Grandpa’s car (the second coolest car I’ve ever seen).  After pictures in the park (seriously, can weddings get any better?!), it was time to walk down the aisle…

“I pee pee potty!”  Mwahaha.  Leave it to me to have perfect timing.  Mommy told me to just go in my diaper (I thought she threw all of those away, but apparently I was mistaken), and I’m pretty sure she caused years of irreparable damage. Then I got to sit with Aunt Nancy.  She’s warm and snuggly and fun and has cookies shaped like little animals hidden in her purse–I mean, where has this woman been my whole life?!  Together, we made it through the entire wedding (a 7:00 pm Catholic wedding), and it was on to the reception!

I danced the night away. No seriously.  We stayed until midnight.  If anyone has pictures, please send them.  I was so cake-drunk I don’t remember what went down.  So ladies, if I offended you in any way or tried to hit you up for a quick drink of milk, I apologize.

Of course, I was up bright and early at 6:30 the next morning ready for the day.  Mommy and Daddy look like the cast of The Walking Dead. I know that wasn’t juice in your cup, Mom. You brought it on yourself.

Of course, not everything revolved around the wedding this month.  It also revolved around rain. And cupcakes (which are wedding related, so…). And words. Vocabulary explosion!

Favorite Words and Phrases

  • More cupcake? (Thank you bridal showers!)
  • NO! (Even when I mean “yes”)
  • Whatchoo gots?
  • Ooooh, what’s Mommy GOTS?!
  • Oh, no!
  • Hi, Mommy. Hi, Daddy or just your basic Hi…for no reason…
  • Come on, Dada! Racecars. Vroom!
  • Mommy, come on!
  • Let’s go, Mommy.
  • Kitty eat! Kitty eeeeeeeat!
  • No, drive car! (I like to yell this when we pull in the driveway to come home.)
  • Wake up, Mommy. Eat bredfast.
  • Uh, huh, I do.
  • Oh, no. Poop poop!
  • Pay Kinel? (Play Kindle.  I’m a touch-screen genius). And the follow up, more games!
  • Oh, no! Neighmor’s car?! (Our neighbor leaves a lot and I like to keep track of his whereabouts out the window.)
  • Counting to 10 in English and Spanish.  Yep, finally got it down. Well, sometimes “yellow” still makes it in there…

As you can see, I’m very excited and a bit dramatic.  I get the best of both parents–I’ll let you decide which is which. There’s actually not much I don’t say.  I’ve mastered plurals (two apples?), and possessives (Mommy’s car!).

Monthly Photo Round- Up

I caught my first fish…then screamed “no!!!! fish in drink” All water is called drink. Did you not know this?

There was lots of “pay dibble dibble dopp” (play in the rain). Have you not read Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?

The good news is that I’m no longer afraid of my rain boots.

Mommy has also decided it’s time for me and Daddy to spend more quality time together.  So we lift weights.  Well, Daddy lifts weights, I lift canned goods.

Please ignore my beer milk gut. I’m working on it.

Summer Beauty Essentials

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1. Acquarella Nail Polish. I wrote a review 3 years ago here.  Acquarella is the only brand I’ve used since.  I’ve tried Plasma, Livid and most recently Sleek, and I love them all.  A little pricey, but it lasts awhile–my first bottle lasted two years!

2. Babyganics Hand & Face Wipes. I keep a pack of these in my purse for wiping down after the park.  They’re cooling and they clean with one wipe, without being scented or leaving a greasy residue.

3. Babyganics Insect Repellent.  This is the only bug spray we’ve used for two years.  I find I have to reapply more frequently than other chemical-laden sprays, but I guess that’s to be expected. It leaves an oily residue, but the smell isn’t bad at all.  I think the spray comes out heavy and fast, though, so watch out!

4. Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion.  I use this after showers, but I also keep a small tube in my purse.  If I were ever exiled to a deserted island and could take one item, it would come down to lotion or toilet paper, and lotion just might win.  I apply multiple times during the day, so I like that this is a healthier choice, doesn’t have a fragrance, and doesn’t leave a residue.  Matty loves putting lotion on, too, and I don’t worry much when he pulls this out of my purse.

5. Babyganics Sunscreen. Do you get that we love Babyganics?  I bought this sunscreen for Matthew for our vacation last year in the Caribbean.  Eric and I ended up using it too, and no one got burnt.  We’ve continued to use it almost daily this summer, and I still love it.  It does go on really white, but Matty doesn’t mind. Heck, neither do I…I’m too busy chasing a toddler around the park to care if I have white streaks on my face. 🙂

6. California Baby Calendula Cream. I bought a big tub of this when Matthew was born in lieu of traditional diaper cream.  We just ran out.  I use it for everything from bites, scrapes, rashes, and even moisturizer in a pinch.  Matty loves to get kisses from Mommy and then his “creeeeeam” when he gets an ouchy.

7. Honest Company Conditioning Mist.  I love Moroccan Oil for my hair, but when I ran out recently, I decided to try Honest Company.  I don’t love this as much, but I still love it.  It keeps my hair soft and less frizzy, which is great because I rarely have time to blow-dry.

Lord knows I carry enough in my purse, so it’s nice when I can find a product that does double (Mommy and Matty) or even triple (Daddy, Mommy, and Matty) duty.  The best part?! All of these products are rated as a 1 or 2 (low risk) on Skin Deep, the EWG’s website ranking beauty and household products.  Check it out!

Acquarella Sleek

**I had a hard time finding a picture of the exact color of “Sleek”, so hopefully this helps!

Questions:

1. What healthy beauty products are you loving?
2. Did you make the “jump” to healthy products all at once, or as you run out?
3. Does anyone else feel like maybe if they trash all their sunscreen, magical voodoo will get rid of all this rain and bring the sun back? Seriously, what is up with this weather?!

Tales From the Crib: Month 19

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Puke & Poop. Poop & Puke. That about sums up my month.  See you next month! Laters, baby.

Just kidding! April Fools! Did I get you? Don’t worry, I have lots more to share.  It’s true most of my month was about puke and poop though.

I got sicky.  Like super puke sicky. At Grandma’s.  I was going to stay there all night while Mommy and Daddy shampooed the carpets and did “house stuff”.  And juuuuust when they got done, I threw up on Grandma.  So Mommy and Daddy came back to get me.

So obviously I threw up all over the carpets (you saw that coming, right?). And my carseat. And Mommy.  Daddy was worthless help.  Mommy asked for a towel, and Daddy stood up, stretched, took a drink of coffee, and meandered to get a towel, then came back with a shirt asking “will this work?”  I thought he might die in that moment. He did take care of the car puke, though, so I think he got some super-daddy points back.

Then of course Mommy got sicky.  She puked. Fever. Chills. There was no milk for like 24 hours.  I’m traumatized (and back to nursing 12 times/day, yay!).  Mommies aren’t supposed to be weak.  She couldn’t even cook me breakfast.  So Daddy, being the big help that he is, called in reinforcements.  Grandma & Grandpa!  That’s right, Daddy went to work and I sat on the floor eating stale goldfish crackers from under the couch for three hours while I waited for Grandma.  (I’m surprised Daddy is still alive).  So Grandma picked me up, and I got to spend the next day with Aunt Amy.  We took her doggy to the doctor. It was so fun.

Then Mommy picked me up the next day.  We’re up to 800 miles in 4 days, people.  I think we need to move.  Do you hear me Daddy’s Work Boss? Moooooove.

Oh, and did I mention my sickness came down Easter weekend?

Fear not, the Easter Bunny fears no puke and came anyway.

Easter morning

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So we’ve covered the puke.  Where’s the poop come in, you may be asking.

That’s right. I’m potty trained. Well. I was. For like a whole week (that’s like years in toddler time, btw).  Until the whole sickness thing went down.  Now, I’m not going anywhere near that room.  There’s Mommy-puke in there.  Apparently, I’m not allowed to wear my “Daddy pants” if I don’t go in the potty, so we’re at quite the impasse.  I fear Mommy may win this battle.

Anywho. On to the fun stuff. Did you know my Aunt Amy is getting married? She is.  I get to be in the wedding.  I think it’s going to be much like this.

There was a bridal shower for her.  I wasn’t supposed to go, but surprise surprise, I wasn’t feeling well, so I got to stay with Mommy.  We were only going to stop by for an hour, but we stayed for 4 hours! I totally know how to party likes it’s 1999.

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You want to know what else is fun?  The big bed!

That’s right ladies and gents, I have found my way back to the big bed.  Marathon nursing and the big bed…ahhhh, it feels good to reclaim some of my youth.  And this folks, is a battle Mommy isn’t going to win.

The Score

Mommy: 1
Matty: 1
Daddy: just happy to have not been killed during The Great Sickness of 2013

Color Theme: Orange

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Orange juice and goldfish crackers.  It’s theme heaven!

Color Learning Tip #5

You can never provide enough examples of colors.  Kids need to learn that orange has no shape and no size, but may come in different hues.  The only way for them to build this knowledge is by exploring various examples–inside, outside, through taste, and seeing how colors are used everyday.

Sensory Box

I wanted to “practice what I preach” so I set up a couple of sensory boxes in containers other than the norm.  This was a bulk wipes box, and it was lots of fun and a nice change of pace.  This box was awesome because Matty could stick his entire arm in the beans (the fun part), and I was able to put this in a different room which was a like having a brand new toy!

Inclusions:

  • dried beans
  • sea horse rattle
  • octopus squirter
  • Mega Blok (for dropping beans into…plink plink!)
  • ball pit balls
  • letter links
  • paintbrush
  • measuring cup for scooping
  • flashcard (never too early for environmental print!)

Total Cost: $3.88 for beans

Books

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1. The Big Orange Splot. OMG. I remember this book from second grade.  I saw it at the library and had a moment.  I remember the teacher reading it, I remember the name of the character, and I remember the activities–design your dream house.  I remember what mine looked like. Crazy.  Anywho. Fun book!

2. Orange Pear Apple Bear. Such a cute book.  The whole book is made up of those four words (orange, pear, apple, bear, plus “and”).  Each page is different combination. First, orange, with a picture of an orange.  Later an orange bear.  Simple and effective. Loved it.

3. Colors.  Grandma bought this book for Matty waaay back, and it’s always been a hit.  Each color has a fold-out page with pictures of common objects.

Activities

1. Cones. We have these.  I called out a color and Matty ran to that color.  Or hopped like a bunny.  Or marched.  A great way to reinforce other colors, too. Beautiful 75 degree weather optional. 🙂

2. Homemade orange juice.

3. Or store-bought juice in a special cup.

4. Orange Snack. Goldfish crackers  or Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies and Cuties.

5. The Regulars. Orange markers, crayons, playdough, stickers and stampers.

Questions:

Anybody else remember a random book or activity from elementary school?  What was your favorite school activity? (recess and lunch don’t count!)

Getting Started With Sensory Boxes

sensory boxes

Sensory boxes. Sensory bins. Play tubs. Treasure boxes. Whatever you call it, there’s no denying it’s a key parenting tool. Yes, tool. It’s educational. It’s fun. And it keeps Littles occupied long enough to fold the laundry and pee by yourself.

While no well-kept secret of Supermoms, apparently sensory boxes are not as common as I once thought.  I got into a discussion with some other moms at Storytime last week about keeping our kids occupied during cold, snowy days indoors.  I was one of few who’d heard of them—let alone using them!  Of course, there were cries of “too messy” or “too expensive” or “takes up too much room”.  To which I reply “NO!” (imagine that in a very emphatic toddler voice).

So let’s talk about sensory boxes, shall we?

What are sensory boxes?

Well, just that. A  box, bin, bag, or container that is filled with manipulatives to stimulate the senses of budding young minds.  They can be simple to complex.  While most focus on touch and sight, there are definitely ways to incorporate smell, sound, and even taste.  Toddlers get a lot of chances to practice gross motor skills, but dumping, scooping and trying to pick up a grain of rice really develops those fine motor skills!  Stimulating the senses and getting kids moving are key to cognitive development (aka, learning).

Step 1: Containers

Any container can become the home of sensory play.  I usually use an underbed plastic storage bin.  It seems to be a good size, has a lid, and can slide under the guest bed or even the couch when we’re not using it.  For messy days (like water), we put it in the bathroom.

I know some folks have 10 plastic tubs and prep 9 boxes in advance.  I don’t know where in the world they store these!  I do have a box in Matty’s closet that has ziplock bags and small boxes of manipulatives.  I also have a few containers of base (keep reading for more on that) in the pantry.  They key to any idea working is to make it hassle-free, and 10 giant bins in my house doesn’t seem hassle-free to me.  So yes, you can do sensory boxes with a cardboard box, a bag of rice, and some toys from the toy box!

Step 2: Bases

There are many, many options for bases.  This is what takes a box of “stuff” to the next level. Read: hours of fun!

  • Uncooked rice
  • Pasta (pretty much any shape)
  • Water
  • Shredded newspaper
  • Mud
  • Sand
  • Pebbles
  • Cotton Balls
  • Dried beans
  • Dried corn (would be great for a Farm box)
  • Oatmeal
  • Coffee beans (or grounds!)
  • Unpopped popcorn

Of course, don’t forget to incorporate some sort of scoop, cup, or spoon, some tongs or tweezers, or other hand tool.

Will this increase the mess? Yes.  But we don’t give kids enough credit.  If you expect them to make a mess, they will.  If you expect them to keep it in the box, and explain this, they will.  If Matty gets even a little water or a few grains of rice on the floor, he asks for help cleaning it up. And yes, the bases can be reused!  Just store in airtight containers.  Perhaps if you have multiple kiddos or recently had a sickness swing through the house you’ll want to toss it, but generally reuse!

Easy Beginning Concepts

Sensory bins are so easy to use with babies who are just sitting up and crawling, or older kids (I’m talking 8 years old here).  Just vary the concept and sensory manipulatives to make it more complex (and probably avoid adding a base for bambinos).

  • Rough/Soft (cotton balls, silk pieces, minky fabric)
  • Colors (do a different color each time, and voila—8 different boxes)
  • Shapes (again, a different shape each time)
  • Holidays (just toss all the little décor knick-knacks in a box)
  • Nature
  • Cold (ice—or freeze small toys in ice cubes)
  • Animals (house pets, farm animals, bugs…)

Can the manipulatives get expensive? It could, but it doesn’t have to.  For the Color boxes that we’ve been doing recently, I didn’t buy a single thing.  We already had colored blocks, colored plastic cookie cutters, and other random toys of various colors.  Dig through the toy box (Fisher Price Little People, balls, or sets of things that may be missing a piece or two can be repurposed), look through the kitchen cabinets, or repurpose trash (tp tubes, Sunday’s newspaper).  A quick trip to a Dollar Store can add tons of play manipulatives for just a few bucks.  Try to include things that can be used in different ways, as well as a variety of textures and sizes.  When possible, include other senses–how does a tambourine sound when rice is poured through it?

Taking it to the Next Level

Getting your kid engaged may be as simple as putting it out.  Or they may need a little direction, such as pointing out a few manipulatives or showing how the rice can be poured.  But once they catch on, they’re hooked.  So then maybe you want to take it to the next level?

  • Try colored rice or pasta
  • Read a book about the concept, or visit the library to let them find books that relate
  • Take a “field trip” (for example we have a trip to the aquarium planned, with an Under the Sea box planned for after)
  • Add a few drops of essential oil to the base (for example, lemon oil for a Yellow box)
  • Design a box around a complex concept your Littles are interested in, such as Construction (complete with mud and play bulldozers) or Dinosaurs (complete with fossils and chisels)
  • Take it outside–the same sensory play from last week is all new in the yard, in the garage, or in the driveway

There’s no set timeframe for how long to leave out a particular setup.  Some of our activities have lasted just one afternoon (like water-based play), and some have gone on for two weeks (like rice play).

So, in the upcoming week or so, I’ll be sharing some of the Sensory boxes we’ve done around here, as well as additional theme activities, like books and crafts that relate to the  concept.

Questions:

  • Do you do Sensory boxes?
  • What’s been your Little’s favorite so far?
  • If you don’t do them, what’s your biggest hang-up?

Tales From the Crib: Month 18

month18

Wow. It’s my half birthday. Apparently, some kids get cake or even a whole party to celebrate such a momentous occasion.  Me? Nope. I got stale spinach cupcakes.

(half-birthday party ideas)

Well, that’s not totally fair. I did get to go to a birthday party this weekend for my friend, Kat.  Not to be confused with my friend, cat.  There was decorations, and chips, and cake (three different kinds!), and kids, and karaoke.  Did I mention cake?

Besides the cake, this has been a ridiculous month.  Everybody got sick. ( but yay for sicky chairs and juice!)

sicychair

The weather has been completely yucky (but yay for snow bunnies!)

I was trapped indoors playing with a balloon Monkey while Mommy zoned out watching Downton Abbey. #screwyoudanstevens

monkey1

And I learned the job of Naked Cowboy has already been taken.

We did take a break from our sickness and grouchiness to attend a special event in town.  The Lima Symphony Orchestra does an event once a month called Kids Fest.  String quartet…at the library…with kiddie instruments…and stickers.  Good times.

So besides my obvious dancing skillz, what else am I up to? Well, I’m so glad you asked.

  • “Pop Pop” (Grandpa). Sorry, Grandma, but you’re no longer my favorite grandparent.  No offense, and I’ll still eat your cookies, but Grandpa is one super guy.
  • Daddy. Daddy ranks right below Mommy, but above Grandpa.  Daddy lets me Skype and play iPad piano whenever I want.
  • Peeing. More specifically, peeing on the potty.  I’m getting really good about telling Mommy when I need to go. Like today, I went FIVE times after telling Mommy I needed to go.  It’s our compromise.  If I want to throw stuff in the toilet (tp), flush, and play in the water (wash my hands), I have to pee in the potty first.  Fair enough, Mother. Fair enough.
  • Kitties. I get really, really mad when they won’t play with me, sit in my lap, or take a nap in my bed.  I love to give them “teets” (treats), and I remind Mommy first thing every morning that we need to “eat Keeties” (feed Kitties).
  • Talking. I talk a lot. Sometimes it’s real words. Sometimes not so much.  But I do know lots and lots of words. Very important words like, “cupcek” (cupcake), “don” (donut), and “cokcok” (chocolate). Does a toddler need any other words? And sentences.  Most start with “I want”…
  • Milk. The Mommy kind, of course.  I’m a growing kid, what can I say?  Mommy thought we’d be done by now, but NEVER. Never, ever, ever. Like ever. #TaylorSwiftshoutout
  • Books. We get lots of books from the library, and Mommy even made me another book.  It’s titled M is Not for Daddy.  It’s an alphabet book, with a twist.  Be on the lookout for this obvious New York Time’s Best Seller.
  • Letters. I know “D”, “M”, “G”, and “S”. S for snake, or course.
  • Counting. 1, 2, 2, 6. Don’t judge. At least I understand the concept of “two”.
  • Storytime and Gymnastics.
  • Playdough.
  • Crayons. But only the “bwue” (blue) and white ones.
  • Bread. “Toost” (toast). Ooh, and sandwiches. Sandwiches are tasty.
  • Macaroni and Cheese. Only if it comes from Panera.
  • Spaghetti. Only if it has chili and cheese (Skyline, holla!).
  • Cashews and Sunflower Seeds.
  • Bumblebees. “Boombees”. If I say “boombee”, Mommy chases me around the house yelling Buzz. Fun times, I tell ya.

So, yeah. Between the sickness and my obvious over-the-top energy level, Mommy and Daddy have instituted a once/month break.  From me.  I don’t even have words to express my dissatisfaction with this arrangement.  This month, Mommy and Daddy slowly drove by Grandma’s house, tossed me out the driveway with a knapsack over my shoulder, and sped away to a hotel for the night. Okay, okay, they may have properly dropped me off, but they were out of there speedy-quick.  At least I got the last laugh…Mommy forgot the breast pump and spent the next two days engorged. Mwahaha.

Tales From the Crib: Month 17

17 months

We’ve been working on sorting this month. Why? I don’t know. But here, I’ll show you.

list

So long story list short, I’m quite the Daddy’s boy lately.  If he’s not home, which is frequently due to this thing called work, I ask for him.  And then I ask to talk to him on the phone.  Then I ask to Skype Grandma. Then I repeat this 4,092 times until Mommy’s completely frazzled.

Then, for kicks, I have a meltdown because the paper came off my crayon, we’re out of cat treats, or because I took my sock off but I only wanted it 3/4 of the way off.  Speaking of taking clothes off, I can take all of my off! Yay! Naked Toddlers unite! So, anywho, apparently, I’m “spirited”.  Mommy’s got books and everything about it.  But all you need to know is that I have enough energy for 3 kids, am very easily frustrated, am determined to get my way, and I’m very irregular (hehe)–no, no, it just means I don’t have regular times I like to do stuff like eat and sleep like most kids. But whatever, Mom.  I’m totally still sleeping through the night and napping for an hour (most days).

Mommy’s trying hard though to have fun, fun times.  Just check out our Valentine’s Day festivities.

First we baked cupcakes. Yes, there were veggies in my cupcakes and beets in my frosting ::sigh::

Then we did water play!

Then we made more snacks.  I think Mommy needed these.

Then we did presents that Cupid left.  See?! Naked toddlers can be successful in life!

vday

I even got a monkey balloon!

Daddy had a meeting in Cincinnati, so we got to sneak in a trip to Grandma’s.

Cookies at Grandma’s!

A quick stop at Krohn Conservatory to smell the flowers.

DSCN0336

We strolled around Eden Park for awhile first.

I may or may not have fallen in the mud…completely covering me, Mommy, and therefore Mommy’s car.  Daddy just watched.  He’s got this whole fatherhood thing down.

And I got a new slide at IKEA!

It’s supposed to “help me burn energy”. Bwahahaha. I don’t know if it does that, but I have fun with it.  Along with my Bilibo.

So, if anyone wants to talk on the phone, Skype, or run around the block 17 times while screaming at the top of your lungs, let me know, yo!

 

P.S. It’s Toddler Tuesday over at My Healthy Happy Home! Go check out what other toddlers are up to.

Munchkin Meals: Gear

Okay, yes.  I’m veering of course a bit.  Now that Matty has all of his teeth in (except 2 year molars), he’s turned into a good little eater.  In the past few weeks he’s tried at least 7 new foods, and is regularly eating things like sandwiches, sunflowers seeds, and cashews.  But I digress.

I thought I would focus on toddler eating gear. Why? Because…

  • He’s taken a great interest in cooking and spending  time in the kitchen.
  • He no longer wants to stand in his tower to eat (and the high chair has been long packed away).  He wants to sit at the counter like Dad does, of course.
  • I have to pack lunches and/or dinner for him a few days/week for babysitters, some of which needs to be transported, and microwaved.
  • He’s completely outgrown the sippy and will only drink from an open cup.
  • I’m thinking about doing a formal snack/drink station for him.
  • He’s really noticing what others are doing, so he wants a “real fork” and “real plate”, too.
  • I’ve got cabin-fever and a little online window shopping might just be the cure!

Obviously, every mini-chef needs a mini-apron!

Or perhaps I’ll make one?!

And of course the greatest piece of toddler gear we’ve already purchased was his Learning Tower ($40 at Once Upon a Child!). It’s a ridiculous space-hog, but totally worth it.

He’d probably love carrying his own lunchbox into the sitter’s. And he’d look adorable, no?

We have these snack bags. They work great for dry snacks.

But we need something for “wet” lunches that can also be microwaved.  Right now I’m using small glass lidded containers…any suggestions for something more kid-friendly?

He loves our Klean Kanteens, and tries to drink out of them.  Way too big for him.  I bet he’d love one of his own.

And check out this snack station! I’d love to create something like this for Matty.

We have a Pur filter that he knows how to use, so I’m thinking maybe another one of those.  We just need a small shelf and some storage.

Ooh! Klean Kanteen has storage canisters now.  These would be perfect for on-the-go snacking (for Matty and Mommy!).

Since Matty refuses sippy cups and only wants a “big” cup (aka glass), I had to get creative.  I saved a few small, glass food containers–peeled off the labels, ran them through the dishwasher, and voila.  He loves it.  They’re sturdy enough that if dropped they don’t shatter.

This contraption seems kinda cool! Kaboost. It goes on the bottom of a regular chair to boost it up.

Anybody got good recommendations for a long-term booster. MUST BE EASY TO CLEAN. 🙂

Well that was the end of my “Mommy time”.  Such a fun window-shopping excursion. Ha!  Any other feeding gear recommendations for strong-willed, independent little boys who can’t wait to be just like Daddy?

“M” for Daddy!

So, I thought it was time that Matty begins recognizing letters and environmental print.  Naturally, we started with “M”.  I put M magnets on his magnetic board, put an M on his frame wall, and began writing his name on his coloring pages.  A few days later I began pointing them out and explained:

Me:

M for Matty! Yay!

M for Mommy!

M for milk!

M for monster!

M for meow!

M for moo!

M for map!

Matty: Daaaaaad!

Me: No, not for Daddy. M for Matty. M for Mommy!

Matty: No! Dada?

Me: D for Dad. Proceeds to draw a D. D for Dad! M for Matty. M for Mommy!

Matty: Points to M. M! Mmmm. Dad!

Well, 2 out of 3.  I figured he could name the letter and give the sound. Heck, that’s fantastic!

A few days later we were at TJ Maxx where Matty saw a large wooden M decor item.  He started jumping up and down squealing, ran over, and yelled, “M! MMMmmm!”

People stopped and stared.  I beamed with pride. That’s right, folks. Gather ’round.  Clap for my genius child.  Then he yelled:

M for Dada!

Shakes head in shame.  

At least he’s inclusive.  No Family Member Left Behind!