Archives for November 2012

Fall Fun Recap

We’re in full-on Christmas mode around here, so I suppose it’s time for a recap of our Fall fun.

Our Family Fall Fun List

1. Dance the Chicken Dance at Oktoberfest (Zinzinnati)

I suppose it was a bit too windy to stand in front of the fountain.

But it was fun to play in!

2. Rake Leaves

3. Bake a Pumpkin Pie from Scratch

I told him it was time to put the spices in…

Destruction: Baking with a Toddler

Ok, ok.  I didn’t make the crust from scratch.  Someone got a little sleepy…

But it was still delicious.  I followed this recipe (dairy & soy free).

4. Go Trick-or-Treating

More in this post.

5. Put up a Halloween Tree

More in this post.

6. Decorate a Pumpkin

7. Pick a Pumpkin from a Pumpkin Patch

More in this post.

8. Go to an Apple Festival

A llama! Yes, Matty called it “Mama, Llama.” 🙂

The rocks in the parking lot seemed to be the biggest hit! Of course, we shared an apple doughnut and a cup of cider, but we were too busy stuffing our faces to take a picture.

9. Make Pinecone Bird Feeders

WHOOPS. Mom FAIL.  I’ll go sprinkle some seed around…

10. Make Homemade Applesauce

Matty doesn’t like it.  Eric didn’t want it.  And since having a baby, I can’t stand apples.  Weird.  In other words, didn’t happen.

11. Go to a Football Game

Somebody decided to start going to bed most nights around 7:30…Kind of put a damper on those plans.  But, as a consolation, I’m doing pretty good in my Fantasy Football League!  Doesn’t count? Shucks.

Never rule out Peyton Manning!

12. Donate Goods to a “Drive” (ex. Hats or Canned Food)

The Boy Scouts went door-to-door requesting food for a Thanksgiving event in Lima.  You can read about it here.  It was nice to put together a bag–who knows, maybe next year we’ll volunteer.

We didn’t get everything done, but we had a pretty good time.  I mean, we did get to build a snowman in October. And we had a pretty packed Thanksgiving to end on a high note.

Matty got up at 6:00 to help with the turkey…

He was very happy to finally get to wear his turkey shirt.

But he was sad that he forgot to practice his “gobble, gobble, gobble.”  He has since perfected it and all we hear is “gobble, gobble, gobble, ho, ho, ho.”

His favorite part of potty learning…

It was too nice to stay indoors…

Matty has declared that Aunt Amy is NOT allowed to touch his toys anymore.

We finished up the afternoon with a craft.

I really, really, really can’t believe Fall is pretty much over and Christmas is already here.  It’s true what they say, “the days are long, but the years are short.”

 

On a side note…who’s the sick one?!  Matty came down with a high fever last night, so it’s been a lot of snuggles, nursing, and 20 minute catnaps (all night!!!).  I think we may have to boycott Christmas.

Advent Calendar Revamp

I’ve always liked the idea of an Advent Calendar–a little daily ritual to countdown to Christmas.  I did not, however, like the idea of chocolates or sweets.  Kids are jacked up enough this time of year, no?  Then I thought about little trinkets or knick-knacks, but um, no.  Pretty sure we just went around with a trash bag to clean up all those little trinkets that have TAKEN OVER OUR HOUSE.  So when I came across some ideas on Pinterest involving Christmas books, I knew I had to blend the ideas together.

Coming up with 24 books can be expensive.  Thankfully, I could pull from my teacher collection, but not everything I owned was appropriate for Matty, so I could only come up with about 10 books.  Add that to a few books that Matty got as gifts last year and this year, and I was still short.  So I hit Paperback Swap and Amazon’s 4 for 3 deals. I was still a couple short, so I decided that this year, they didn’t all need to be holiday-themed. I mean, he’s only 14 months old, he doesn’t know the difference.  I considered wrapping up the same 12 books twice…ha!  He was just gifted some hand-me-down books from his cousins, so I wrapped those up, too.

Then I whipped up a little label to help with the countdown.  I tried to order the books with the ones he could “read” independently (board books or interactive books) first so that he would have those all season, and of course ended with Twas the Night Before Christmas for Christmas Eve.  If you’d like the labels, there’s a link to download at the end of the post!

Our 2012 Countdown to Christmas Books

A HOME-MADE GIFT! POST TO COME…

 I wouldn’t classify all of these books as “quality”, aka Caldecott nominees.  But, for a young toddler who will probably teeth on the spines, they’re great.  And of course, the books I think are the worst are the ones he loves the most, so that’s what matters.

Some of the books are definitely above his level, but as long as it has to do with cats, dogs, snowmen or has the word “No” in it, he’s set.  Having a stash of lift-the-flap, slide-and-find, and small board books are a must this time of year–easy and engaging to take along to holiday activities or long rides in the car.  For older kids, sticker books or coloring books could easily be thrown in for a special surprise.

And the list does contain 6 books we don’t own…yet…I may still try to  come across them for this year or check them out of the library and switch them out with the non-holiday books I added.  If nothing else, I have a start on my list for next year!

I think this is a great tradition that will definitely be a yearly thing around here.

Click here to download a pdf of labels.  Print on sticker paper for ease…

Countdown to Christmas Book Labels

Tales From the Crib: Month 14

Ok. I’ve got 5 minutes to write this before we get in the car to go to Thanksgiving (I don’t know where exactly Thanksgiving is on the map, but I think it’s close to Grandma’s house).  Grandma! Grandma! Do you see me yet?  Call Daddy and tell him to drive faster.

All About Me Update

  • 4 molars. In 4 weeks.  It’s like the zombie apocalypse over here.
  • Signing “more”, “eat”, “drink”, “all done”, “milk”, and “dance”.  Now we’re working on more specific things like “diaper”, “potty”, and various foods.
  • Haven’t been measured in awhile, but pretty sure I’ve grown.  All of the sudden, I’m hitting my head on things that I could previously fit under.
  • Love to chit-chat non-stop.  Not sure if anybody understands everything that comes out of my mouth, but they pretend they do.
  • Can do all the motions to Itsy-Bitsy Spider, 5 Little Monkeys, and If You’re Happy and You Know It

  • CLIMBING! On everything.  Smart enough to move boxes and furniture to use as a climber to get to something higher
  • Like light switches. LOVE turning on and off the lights.
  • Read books by myself.  Love to turn the pages.  Apparently Mommy has been holding out on me–she’s got tubs and tubs of books in the attic.  She got some new ones down and I love Where’s My Cat and the Biscuit books.
  • OMG! Did you know you can have pizza delivered to your house?!  Pizza! Mommy told me to go to the door to see the pizza man…it wasn’t nearly as exciting as I imagined, but he brought a HUGE pizza. So cool. Favoritist food ever!

Ok, running out of time.  How about a plethora of pictures?

I got to go Trick-or-Treating AGAIN.  At Aunt Amy’s new house.  It was too cold, but I got to see Grandma.

Then Uncle David attacked me with a flame thrower.  (Ok, ok. I may have tripped over my own two feet.)

I also got to go to a baby shower!  Aunt Kristin used her Mommy Powers to peer pressure Mommy into giving me some chocolate cupcake.

We took 2 kitties to the shower to give to Miss Ami.  They’re going to live at her house now.  They were best friends, so we couldn’t separate them.

We kept one.  It’s VERY happy now.

And of course, we kept Mommy Kitty.  We’re partners in crime.

I learned that phones are for more than chewing on.  I like to talk to Grandma for hours!

Don’t mind the boxes.  We were putting up Christmas decorations and doing a project.

Daddy’s projects always take a turn for the worse before they get done…

We did finally get both cars in the garage.  Only took 9 months…

Speaking of projects, we really need to finish the bathroom.  I’m sick of bathing in the pink tub.  The balls and bubbles are fun, though.

Okay, off to Thanksgiving! Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go…Grandma! Grandma, I’m coming!  Get the toys ready! Grandmaaaaaaaa!

Christmas Wish List: Nummer Zwei

So, we got a call from Grandma Santa.  Apparently, Eric and I ended up on the “nice” list this year, too.  Amazing, considering we have a high needs, rambunctious toddler in tow.  So we were instructed to put a list together. . . Um, we actually struggled.  Like, hard.  Apparently we’re both very satisfied with life and want for nothing (except sleep, SLEEEEEEEEP).  Awww, cue the collective groans.

Gift Ideas for Him

Christmas Gift Ideas for Him

1. Kangaroo Front-Mount Bike Seat Eric’s been dying to take Matty for bike rides.

2. Weights  Ummm, apparently carrying a 26 lb. kid isn’t enough (or maybe he doesn’t do enough of it, hmmm).  Eric has requested 30 lb. weights.  I worry about him…

3. Bike Yes, I see the funny in a 27 year old man asking Santa for a bike for Christmas. However, I couldn’t get him to pinpoint the exact bike he wants (and knowing Eric, it’s expensive), so maybe a giftcard towards his bike purchase.

4. Tools A “Super Duper Drill” and a Compound Miter Saw to be specific.  Thankfully we have well stocked family and friends who let us borrow tools, but I think Eric is developing tool-envy.  I don’t know the specifics on the “Super Duper Drill” (his words, not mine), so a Lowes giftcard might be the answer.

Obviously, his list has been outsourced (that’s what wives are for, right?…).  So, if you have any questions, call him.  He probably won’t answer any of his three phones. Or respond to voicemail.  So try any two of his email addresses.  He probably won’t reply.  Um, so just call me.  I’ll beat it out of him.

Gift Ideas for Her

1. Kindle Books (giftcard)  I LOVE my Kindle.  I’ve been able to read close to 40 books this year thanks to that thing.  I’ve been choosing from the free and $1.99 books, but there’s a lot of new releases that I’d like to read this upcoming year.

2. Fabric A yard of this specific fabric will work for some DIY kitchen curtains.

3.  Lowes Giftcard Our My next project is the entryway/hallway, and I’d like to replace the light.  Lowes has a few options that I like.

4. Stand Mixer Apparently EVERYONE has one.  I’m coming across recipes that specifically state, “put the flour in your Kitchenaid Stand Mixer”.  What if I don’t have one?  Can I still bake these pumpkin muffins?!

5. Socks/Giftcard I don’t know what happens over the Summer, but every Fall I open up my sock drawer, and bam!, they’re all gone.  Every Winter I buy all new socks…I give up.  I also need to supplement my wardrobe–I spent all Summer shopping sales making sure Matty had Winter play clothes, and completely forgot about myself.  Now I’m outside freezing my bum-bum off while he’s nice and toasty (and therefore not coming in to give me a reprieve anytime soon). I can always find something at Old Navy, Gap, or BR.

6.  Young House Love Book I’m not reading many printed books anymore, but I think a decorating book is something that has to be read in print.

So, thanks in advance, Santa!  I didn’t think you’d be able to gift sleep, but Matty has been napping for 2.5 hours (instead of his usual 40 minutes) as I type this, so maybe you DO exist!  I believe, I believe…

P.S. Is it too much to ask that you move longer stretches of sleep to say, midnight-6am?  K.Thanks.

Somebody Has a Case of the Mondays…

Christmas Wish List

Dear Santa,

I hear you’re the man to speak to this time of year.  I hear you run this toy operation where you pay workers in cookies. (If you have any job openings, I’d love to apply.  You can find my resume on Monster.com.  I’m sure you’ll see I’m highly qualified.)  I also hear you have this “Naughty and Nice” list.  There’s no doubt in my mind under which column you’ll find my name.  I’m the nicest boy you’ll ever meet. I mean, c’mon.  I’ve taken in no fewer than six stray animals this year.  I know you’re a busy guy.  I’ve been to Toys R’ Us on a Friday night–I know how many kids are in this world.  So, to save you some time, I put together a list (picturized and categorized for your viewing pleasure!) of some things you can toss in your sack for me this year.

Christmas Gifts for Young Toddlers

Pretend Play

1. Play Silks

2. Wooden Play Vegetable Set

3. Realistic Shopping Cart

4. Schleich Animal Figures

5. Wooden Play Salad Set

I already have a play kitchen and some play food, but it’s lacking in the vegetable department.  And Mommy says that I’d be allowed to take my grocery cart to to the store with us, and I like the no-tip feature on this one.  The play silks are so versatile, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll stop pulling all of Mommy’s clothes out of the closet to wear on my head.  Wait, that doesn’t put me on the naughty list does it? Does it?

Build and Think

1. Geometric Shape Sorter Puzzle

2. Magna Tiles

3. Nesting Blocks

4. Lacing Beads

I’m getting really good at stacking, so I need something a bit more challenging, like puzzles and stacking together, or high stacking, or lacing.

Energy Busters

1. Balance Board

2. Bilibo

3. Hop Around Steps

Oh, man.  Winter is so hard.  I’ll try to be good, Santa. Really I will.  But I have LOTS of energy to burn, so maybe something from this category will help me not to do anything naughty.

Read and Create

1. Musical Piano Puzzle

2. Teepee

3. Baby Lit Books

4. Little Bee

5. Baby Bug Magazine

6. Magna Doodle

7. Travel Aqua Doodle

Ok, I don’t actually want this EXACT teepee, but something like it.  Do you DIY, Santa?  If so, you can check out this tutorial and build me one.  It’s going to go in my reading nook.

See and Do

1. Entertrainment Junction

2. Travel Tray

3. Cincinnati Museum Center

4. Kindermusik Class

5. The Beach Waterpark

6. Cincinnati Zoo

7. Kings Island

I like to spend time with my Mommy and Daddy and go places, but Santa, maybe you can arrange for me to meet up with other family members and they can take me places?  That’s sounds so fun.  I really like water, so I’d like to check out The Beach (it’s reopening 2013) or Kings Island this Summer.  Maybe I can get tickets to go run and play around town?  And a travel tray for my carseat would be nice–spending time in the car going places isn’t the funnest thing ever.

Also, Daddy told me to tell you he’s been really good this year, too, so we all need a vacation.  Can you put a cruise ship in that magical bag of yours?

Welp, Santa.  I hope this takes a slight burden of your already aching back (perhaps shedding a few pounds would help with your obviously-present sciatica).  I’ll also leave you some healthy black bean brownies and strawberries this year instead of cookies, you know, because I’m so nice like that.

Shake YaTail Feather

A few days ago I came across an adorable craft project…

Something for Matty? Check!
Something with turkeys? Check!
Something No Sew? Check!

So without further ado, I introduce you to

I found the brown t-shirt at Hobby Lobby and picked up a few fat quarters from Jo-Ann.  So all in all, waaaay cheaper than any novelty tee or cute dressy outfit I could buy.  I even picked up a onesie from Hobby Lobby too, since I knew I had lots of fabric, and it’s just as cute (if not cuter).  Now I have an awesome baby gift laying in the wings.

I used THIS PATTERN to cut out the fabric pieces, then used hem tape to adhere it.  I figured since it would only be worn a couple of times, hem tape would hold up just fine.  It only took “1 Matty nap” to finish (that’s how I tell time around here nowadays), and I made 4 of them…Ha.  I bought one extra shirt and onesie in case I messed up.

So, if you’re still looking for an outfit for your little one for Thanksgiving festivities, I highly recommend this.  Especially if you can teach them to shake their butt every time you say “shake ya tail feather”.  Or is that too thug?  That’s how we roll around here.

Books and Songs and Snacks, Oh My

Come on, Mom! It’s library time!

A few months ago, I finally was able to register Matty for storytime at the library.  The library in Lima only offers storytime 2 or 3 times per year, for 6 weeks.  A few parents in swim class mentioned how difficult it is to get your kid registered because it fills up quickly.  So when registration opened, we went in early in the morning and there were already about 15 people signed up. Definitely surprising–I’m used to libraries that have a set time each week year round.  But I have to give them 5 stars on their program–it was excellent!

Each week’s focus was on a different letter.  All activities and books coordinated.  They got stickers (big hit), listened to 3 or 4 stories, sang some songs, did a craft (one week the kids got to personalize their own cup), and there was even a coordinating snack.

A for Apple Slices!

I think Matty’s favorite was Munchie Mix for “M”.  He doesn’t eat Cheerios at home, but toss it in a paper bag and he’s all for it.

I could have done without the giant cookie for “C” and all the free McDonald’s coupons.  But they also had a partnership with Applebee’s so we got a lot of free kids meals and we eat there so that was a nice perk.

He liked the stories.  Notice the other children sitting…not my child.  He had to stand the whole time. Whatever, kid.

He loved the songs.  I think we’re going to have to sign him up for Kindermusik this Winter.

Each week was finished off with activities–crafts, or music instruments, or parachute!

OH MY GOD, doesn’t he look so big here? 🙁

I’m guessing his absolute favorite, though, were the cushions.

He would go around picking them all up (even if some poor unsuspecting kids were already sitting on them), then redistribute them. Every so often he would stop to play peek-a-boo with other Moms or blow kisses. I was that Mom in the corner shaking my head wondering if I should let him be or if the other parents were actually enjoying his hijinks as much as they seemed to be.  He was the youngest in the group by about 7 months, so I was just happy we didn’t have any meltdowns.

Of course, no visit to the library is complete without a stop at the puzzle table.

Thanksgiving Books

It’s very difficult to find Thanksgiving books. Or should I say it’s very difficult to find quality Thanksgiving books.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to raise a book snob over here, but most Thanksgiving books are just grossly inaccurate or written to inform, making them better for older children.  But after going through my stash, I was able to pull out a few books that will help us get into the modern spirit of Thanksgiving (food, thanks, family, turkeys, did I mention food?).  And I’m calling it now…in 5 years there will be books about Black Friday and all kids of this generation will grow up believing midnight shopping is a mandatory part of Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Books for Young Toddlers

5 Silly Turkeys

Thanksgiving 5 Silly Turkeys

I have this as a board book that has crinkly feathers on each page–might be something to look for.

10 Fat Turkeys

Thanksgiving 10 Fat Turkeys

The Thankful Book

Cranberry Thanksgiving

The First Thanksgiving

I was going to post reading tips and put together a little Thanksgiving reading nook.  But I’m totally over Thanksgiving this year. And by over Thanksgiving I mean 99% done with Christmas shopping, putting up outside lights this weekend, and the Hubs has been rocking out to Christmas music this week.  Even Matty is getting into the spirit of things…

Why, yes, that is an elf sippy cup.  He picked it out while shopping for Christmas lights.  It’s pretty much his favorite thing right now–it even takes a bath with him…

Munchkin Meals Link-Up: Challenges

Munchkin Meals

So the idea for this session of Munchkin Meals is challenges that you face with your little one, and how you’ve overcome them (or haven’t).  When Brittany first posted this idea, I thought, Hmmm, I don’t really have any challenges.  Sure, I wish we had a bit more variety in our meals, but eh, he’s not eating chicken nuggets every day (or ever), so it could be worse.  Then, Matty decided to cut 2 molars at once. So, yeah. Teething. Teething is our challenge. More specifically, getting Matty to eat anything while teething.

We have had  a few days over the past couple of weeks where he hasn’t eaten anything.  Maybe a Puff here, or a pretzel stick there, but no real sustenance.  This would freak me out, but he’s still nursing like a mad-man, so I don’t feel that stressed.  I almost wrote this entire post about how this kid Will. Not. Wean. Not even a little.  Ahhh! But now, I’m thanking God that he is still nursing because I don’t have to stress about his nutrition (too much) and it really does help him ride the wave of teething pain.

I found one way to overcome his lack of appetite is to allow him access to snacks all day.  I found, like most toddlers I’m sure, that he’ll eat a few bites at breakfast, then whine 30 minutes later because he’s hungry.   I have mixed feelings about this.  On the one hand, I think having multiple small snacks throughout the day keeps blood-sugar levels stable, reducing tantrums.  On the other hand, I fear that too many snacks leads to not eating enough wholesome food at mealtimes.  But, I’m a strong proponent of fostering independence by allowing kids to make their own choices, so I ultimately decided to implement a snack station.

A snack station is mostly attributed to the Montessori school of thought, mostly because it teaches essential life skills, fosters independence, and allows kids to manipulate real-life materials.  But many-a-mom has used this idea in some ways for years and years.

For some really good examples of modern snack stations, check out these links:

Barefoot in Suburbia

A Living Family

Critters and Crayons

Little Red Farm

Most days, I leave any non-perishable foods from breakfast that were leftover, and add a few other items that I’m sure he can handle independently.  So far, this has worked wonderfully.  The biggest challenge so far has been Matty trying to feed his snacks to the cats…

Of course, our little space will change and grow as Matty does.  I have plans to add a drinking station and a place for his plates and silverware (he’s already started to help unload the dishwasher, so I think we’ll be at this stage sooner than I thought, too!).

In addition to snacks, I also leave a sippy cup of water.  This was part of the reason I decided to go ahead with the snack station–I was sick of wondering around the house looking for his cup.  Now, I’m working on teaching him to place his drink back on the table when he’s finished.  It’s going pretty good.

More please, Mom!

Here’s a list of some of the foods I put on his snack tray:

Snack Tray Options for Young Toddlers

  • Puffs
  • Cremes–(Dairy free “yogurt drops” made with rice milk–these will go stale after a few hours)
  • Thin apple slices (peeled)
  • Cheerios
  • Chex Cereal (Gluten Free)
  • Cut Strawberries
  • Shredded Carrots or Baby Carrots (He eats these all the time, so I’m comfortable with this)
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Pretzel Sticks
  • Diced Tomatoes
  • Cooked and Rinsed Beans
  • Crackers
  • Goldfish (or Annies Cheddar Bunnies for a more organic option)
  • Frozen Mini-Blueberries
  • Graham Crackers (I made this recipe two weeks ago and he LOVED them.)

It’s usually just a mishmash of what I have leftover in the fridge.  Of course, I know that Matty can handle these foods somewhat independently (I’m never more than a room away from him at any given time), so it’s important to choose foods with low choking hazards.  For instance, Matty likes raisins, but I’m not comfortable with him eating them unsupervised yet.  It really just depends on the kid!

I still offer him a more nutritious snack in the morning and afternoon (when he’s feeling well and actually eating).  His favorite lately is a spoonful handful of peanut butter.

Or dipping anything into peanut butter.  Bear with me for a Mom-Gush–whenever he dips anything he says “dip, dip, dip” and it cracks me up.  Ok, thanks, Anyway, this past week he tried some celery and peanut butter with Grandma.  I think he was a fan.