Archives for April 2013

Gettin’ My Fix: Stitch Fix Review

stitch fix review

Have you heard of Stitch Fix?  It’s quite the talk of the blogosphere as of late, and this is one bandwagon I couldn’t wait to take a big hop, skip, and jump on.  Long story short, it’s kind of like hiring a personal shopper.  First, you fill out a detailed “Style Profile”, where you rate how much you like and how often you wear certain styles.  Fear not, there’s pictures to help you see what “Romantic” or “Bohemian Chic” really means.  It also asks for your measurements and what sizes you normally wear in a variety of clothing.  One really cool feature is that you can link it up to your social media, like a Pinterest style board.

For $20, they put together a box of 5 items based on your style and requests.  If you decide to keep anything in the box, the $20 is put towards your purchase.  If you don’t like anything in the box, you’re out $20.  If you like everything in the box, you get 25% of you entire purchase.  So yeah, it was a $20 gamble on giving this a try, but I figured I had to like something, right?  And if not, well, it was a fun experiment.

For this Fix, I asked them to focus on dresses and tops.  Specifically, I asked for casual items that could be worn to run errands with a toddler in tow.  I asked that the dresses hit above the knee, and that the tops hit around the hip or are tunic style.  Yep, you can be that detailed.  They sent 2 dresses and 3 tops, and they all fit the requirements nicely.  Interestingly enough, all the items were things I wouldn’t have picked up myself, but I ended up liking each one, at least a little.

Item #1 Payton Sheer Plaid Tab Sleeve Top

stitch fix review

I liked this a lot.  It was comfy and cool.  It looks good with jeans, but will also look good with shorts this Summer.

Each item has a tag that gives ideas on how to wear it.  Most ideas were great, but this one frightened me a bit…Please tell me Daisy Duke tie-front shirts aren’t in style?

stitch fix review

Item #2 Evelyn Stripe Knit Short Sleeve Top

stitch fix review

This was cute, but not $78 cute. Not even half-that cute.  Plus, it was sweater material, so it wouldn’t get much use now.

Item #3 Keely Mixed Material Tie Front Dress

stitch fix review

I didn’t think I would like this, especially with a name like “mixed material”.  But I like it a lot.  It’s perfect for errands or Date Night, whatever that is. 🙂

Item #4 Calafia Jersey Wrap Front Dress

stitch fix review

I hate wrap dresses. Hate them.  They always make me look like a stuffed sausage.  Wrap dresses are supposed to be flattering on everyone.  But. No. No, they’re not.

Item #5 Avree Button Up Chambray Top

stitch fix review

I kind of wanted to like this. It was a bit too small. And it had a weird button situation.  The buttons went all the way to the top, but there were so few buttons towards the bottom that my belly button showed. And it was…wait for it…$98.  Excuse me while I choke on my own spit.

Okay, so here’s the deal with the pricing.  You get to choose your own price range.  When I signed up, there was a wait list.  So, in my logical glory, I thought that if I chose a higher price range, they’d let me in sooner.  I think it worked, btw, but I totally forgot to change the price range back down before I hit “ship”.  But I’ll be changing that if I do this again. Ha!

I do, however, think they would be super successful if they offered a “Toddler Chic” option.  I suspect it would look much like this, and I would sign up for monthly shipments.

toddler chic

So what did I keep?

If you haven’t signed up yet, give it a try.  And use this link: I’ll get a $25 credit when you have your first Fix shipped.  That will buy me a new shirt.  Maybe I’ll rename this post, Contribute to My Post-Baby Body Wardrobe Because It’s Currently Pathetic.  But that might be too long…

  • Have you tried Stitch Fix?
  • Did you love or hate it?
  • What’s your favorite store for “mom clothes”?

Play Theme: Squirming Worms

exploring worms--activities for toddlers

What’s Spring without a little worm play?  While preparing the garden for Spring flowers, I came across a family of worms.  I called Matthew over to take a look, and let’s just say he was enamored! He kept asking to go outside to look for worms, so of course, I decided to take it a little further and put together some activities involving worms.

Sensory Box

worm sensory box

Inclusions:

  • Coffee Grounds (dirt)
  • Rocks
  • Cooked Spaghetti (worms)
  • Fake Moss
  • Paper Grass (carstock folded into zigzags)
  • Artificial Tulips (trimmed)
  • Shovel
  • Bucket

Total Cost: FREE (I already had everything from other sensory boxes or from around the house!)

I put a piece of styrofoam under the flowers and grass; this way, the flowers can be stuck into the styrofoam to help them stand up.  Matty likes to pull them out then push them back in.  And shovel the “dirt”.  And put the worms in the bucket.

Books

books about worms

1. Are You Ready To Play Outside? I love all the Mo Willems books, but I was afraid Matty might be a bit young to understand a book based completely on dialogue.  I don’t know if he “got” the plot, but he loved it from the first page, which starts of with “Piggie!”.  He giggled every time I read a word.  This book is about Elephant and Piggie upset about the rain ruining their plans to play outside, until they notice worms having fun in the rain.  Worms! Yay! Cue requests to go outside to dig in the dirt…

2. Worms. This was a $.99 Kindle book.  I’m trying to introduce more non-fiction books, especially when dealing with science themes, but I forgot to get worm books at the library.  But this Kindle book did the trick.  Lots of neat pictures to look at. Plus, it was on the Kindle.

3. Baby Loves Spring.  Again, love these books. And there’s worms squiggling in the dirt. Which Matty reminded me of when he came running in the room yelling “borms!!!!” after discovering it on the shelf.

Activities

 

 1. Dig in the dirt for worms, of course! I considered doing a Worm Farm, but I figured we’d have to keep it forever or risk meltdown.

2. Worm in Apple Cupcakes.  I had everything laid out to make these, then bam! A month of sickness, including 2 stomach bugs.  We’re definitely on a bland diet around here that doesn’t involve cupcakes.

3. Playdough worms

4. Rhymes and Songs.  Here’s two of my favorites, mostly because they’re easy to incorporate movement.

worm songs

Anybody else got a little worm lover?  Ever tried a worm farm?

Psst…I’m linking up @ My Healthy Happy Home for Toddler Tuesday. Check it out!

Free Smiles

This may be my most favorite picture in the history of pictures.  If it didn’t make you seriously LOL, then take some Prozac.  But there’s more. Stick with me for a minute, and I’ll make sure you smile.

We’re having a week from Hell around here.

  • Eric worked last weekend. Like 5am-9pm.  This has been repeated pretty much every day this week.
  • Matty was super-cranky on Sunday and Monday…
  • Because it turns out he was coming down with something.
  • He had a really high fever Monday night and Tuesday(over 103!), and was very, very clingy and crying uncontrollably for prolonged periods of time..
  • On Tuesday afternoon, you know, riiiight when Matty started getting some energy, my back went kaplooey.  Like chiropractor-is-needed, can’t move, feel like I’m dying again kaplooey.
  • Our dryer broke.
  • All of Matty’s diapers are dirty (and unwashed…).
  • All of our clothes are dirty.
  • There are wet clothes in the washer.
  • We haven’t been to the store in 2 weeks.
  • We’re out of so many things, like, I don’t know, TRASHBAGS! And disposable diapers…Potty training is about to get realz up in herrr.
  • We accidentally locked the kitten in the car overnight, and it used my car as a litter box. Yes, we’re horrible pet parents, but seriously? How does that happen?
  • Our house is a disaster. If someone came to the door right now, I’d be all “sorry, you can’t come in. It’s for your own personal safety.”

Ironically, up until this weekend, I was going to post about what a GREAT month it’s been. We’ve gotten so much done. The weather is really getting nice. Yay! Then bam! Crapt, crapt, crapt. But, in the interest of choosing happiness and being positive and yada, yada, yada, I leave you with my adorable ghetto child:

And yes, he is this active All. Day. Long.

Buckle It Up: Toddler Buckle Toy

Oh yes. We’re in the that phase.  The “me do” stage.  The “I can buckle my carseat by myself, MOM!” stage.  Since this is a skill he obviously wants to practice, I went on the hunt for some sort of buckle toy.  The best I could come up with was this:

Buster Buckle Toy

Don’t get me wrong, this is cute and pretty close to perfect, but at $25 + $5 shipping, it might be one of the most expensive toys we own (seriously).  I thought I could probably make my own for much, much cheaper. And I did!

diy toddler buckle toy

My sewing skills are very subpar.  But this was relatively easy and quick.  I used the basic “pillow sham” theory–sewing two pieces of fabric together inside out, then turning it right side out, stuffing it with some batting, and sewing the top.  However, before sewing the sides, you’ll want to pin your ribbons for the buckles.

The longest part of the ribbon (the part the buckle will be attached to) gets pinned to the inside, so when it gets turned right side out they’re on the right side.  Make sense? OMG, it took me a good 5 minutes staring at it to get this right.  It probably didn’t help that my ribbons were patterned, so I had to get the right side of the ribbon right side up. ::sigh::  I need a sewing class.

Attaching the buckles were easy, even if my sewing lines were not so hot…I used a combination of 1″ buckles and 1/2″ buckles.  I wanted to use colorful buckles, but I couldn’t find any bigger than this.  This actually was a happy surprise, because Wee One loves those the most–huzzah for super-fine motor skill development!

Drumroll, please…total price: $3.50

Granted, I already had the fabric, batting, thread, and ribbon. I estimate a yard of fabric, a couple spools of ribbon, and some batting (or use an old throw pillow?) shouldn’t run more than $7-$8 dollars if you use $.99 fabric quarters from Jo Anns (or Walmart).

I also had to buy the buckles in bulk, so the upfront cost was a bit more, but I actually made a few extras that I plan on trying to sell at our upcoming community garage sale.

And of course, it’s a hit.  My original plan was to keep it in the car to keep Wee One occupied during numerous drives back and forth to Lowes (hello, landscaping weather!), but as you can see, it has made its way into the house.

As he masters the buckles, I have plans to add a few more doo-dads–clips, carbiners, and rings–for even more fun!

Questions:

  • Ever see a toy and think, “I could make that!”.
  • Anybody have a love-hate relationship with the sewing machine like I do? Grrrr…

5 Rainy Day Nature Play Activities

rainy day nature play

April showers may bring May flowers, but they also bring a new round of cabin fever to little ones (and their parents) who have had a taste of outdoor play for the first time in weeks (if not months).  We’ve had typical Ohio weather lately–one day it’s sunny and 80 degrees and the next day it’s cold and windy.

Spring is the perfect time to take an interest in nature, but that can be a bit difficult when you can’t get outside in, you know, nature.  So I started thinking of ways to fill our rainy afternoons indoors while still exploring “The Great Outdoors”.

Before the rain really started coming down, we got our trusty bucket and took a walk around the yard.  Naturally, Matty picked up sticks and put them in the bucket (this is a favorite activity lately), and I started pointing out other things such as leaves, dandelions, and rocks.  We talked about the objects, and then I asked him if we should put them in our collection.  This was great way to incorporate some new vocabulary!

nature collection

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toddler nature sort

To begin our sort, I dumped out all the objects for some free play.  As he started losing interest, I asked him to point out certain things, like sticks, or rocks.  At this point, he started realizing their were more than one (“one, two, six..”–he’s a good counter).  So I suggested we put all the alike things in a pile.  We did leaves and sticks first, since that was easiest, then moved on to random objects, discussing their color, texture, size, and other characteristics.  Again, great vocab building!

toddler nature sort

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toddler nature collage

Over the next couple of days, we started using our collection for some crafts.  This works better with contact paper (check out a great example here), but I didn’t have any.  So I used a sheet of easel paper and spray adhesive.  That dried up towards the end, so we used a craft brush and Elmer’s glue, which was a big hit!  Matty loved this–it’s like real-life stickers. 🙂

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toddler nature creatures

Who doesn’t love googly eyes and pom poms?  I was going to do this alone then give them to Matty, but he was totally into it.  However, he does think they’re owls.  There’s a Mommy, Daddy, and Baby.  I’m not sure who is who, or who the other one is…

nature play

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pinecone bird feeder

We meant to do this back in the Fall, but didn’t get to it.  So when we were at Lowes earlier in the week, and Matty went crazy over the bird feeder section, and carried a two pound bag of “brird teets” (bird treats) to the cart, I knew we had to do it.  P.S. I have no idea how he knew the bird food was indeed bird food save the bird on the bag…

We used a knife to spread peanut butter on the pinecones, then rolled it around in the seed.  However, I think he was very sad that bird treats are not like cat treats, i.e., he can’ t hand-feed the birds.

pinecone bird feeder process

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nature music intruments

I came across this pin awhile back, which links to this idea.  Being the little music lover he is, I gave it a try.  Forget the music because of course, it’s a cat toy.  What was I thinking?

sistrum music instrument

P.S. Am I the only one who thinks of Melman the Giraffe from Madagascar every time I hear the word “nature”? “Ahh, the nature, it’s all over me, get it off!”

P.S. Happy Earth Day!  What are you doing to celebrate?

Tales From the Crib: Month 19

month 19

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

easter morning 2

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.

DSCN0468

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: Purple

allaboutpurple

This is the last of our color themes.  I was going to do white, black, and brown, but he’s picked those up already.  Actually, I’m 95.7% sure he knows all of his colors, including pink and tan! Yay!

Color Learning Tip #6

Kids will be able to point out or pick up something purple before saying “purple”.  To check for understanding of color learning, give children opportunities to “show what they know” instead of asking them to tell what they know.

Sensory Box

purplebox

Again, with my experiment to try new types of containers, I decided to use an oversized  cooking pot.  This actually turned out awesome!  I kept it in a corner on the kitchen counter, and brought it out when preparing meals or when I still had a few bites left and Matty was all done.  He thought it was great, and meal prep went better.  I’ve actually been keeping a small bowl of toys on the counter for this exact purpose now.

Books

purple books

1. Purple Little Bird. Purple Bird lives in a purple house with purple decorations.  Something’s not quite right, so he explores, and discovers many other colors to add to his house.

2. Harold’s ABC. Yes, yes. Harold and his damn purple crayon.  I planned on using that book for this theme, but I think my little rascal would have thought he was totally hilarious and colored on the wall.  So we used this alphabet book instead.  The letters are incorporated into the illustrations, with some common words, c for cake, and odd words, a for attic.

3. Pete the Cat, I Love My White Shoes. We got a Pete the Cat book for Christmas, and Matty loved it.  So we got this one for colors.  It explores all colors, too, so it’s been out for a few weeks.  It’s got a cat, so of course it’s a hit!

Activities

1. Blueberry painting. Slightly thaw a small bowl of frozen blueberries. Poke with toothpick. Paint!  Matty loved repoking the toothpick (fine motor), and ate the entire bowl of blueberries (the first time he ever ate them!).  Great activity.

2. Purple snack. Try raisins and grapes. If you’re more adventurous try eggplant and plums. Even more adventurous? Track down purple carrots!

3. Purple People Eater.  This song was on our Halloween mix, which we still listen to…toddlers know no bounds when it comes to holidays.

4. The Regs. Purple playdough, markers, stickers, and crayons.

Questions:

Has your kid had a “Harold” moment? Aka, coloring on the wall?

Psst. Interested in more color themes?  Here’s a color recap:

Blue          Red         Yellow       Green        Orange 

             Getting Started with Sensory Boxes

 

 

Color Theme: Orange

allaboutorange

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

orangebooks

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!)

Color Theme: Red

all about red

This theme had beans and Llama Llama. Needless to say, it was a hit.

Color Learning Tip #4

Provide multiple examples and non-examples of the color.  Show an apple that is red and an apple that is green. That way, kids don’t focus on the shape or texture of an apple and think that means “red”.

Sensory Box

Inclusions:

  • dried red beans base
  • pom pom craft balls
  • wooden blocks
  • sensory ball
  • red crab tambourine
  • magnetic letters
  • counting bears
  • red flash card
  • cup
  • scoop

Total Spent: $3.79 for beans & scoop

The little scoop was new this time.  I found it at a local plastic manufacturing store for $.49. Score!  He loved it.

Books

red books all

1. Llama Llama Red Pajama. In a knock down drag out fight between this book and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, I’m not sure who would emerge victorious as Matty’s favorite book.  Even Eric can recite this from heart, and he is not the reader of bedtime stories.

2. Lemons Are Not Red.  Matty loves anything that has a negative–“no” or “not”, so this was a hit.  The awesome illustrations/die cut pages didn’t hurt either.  I liked that it promotes critical thinking and isn’t just another silly story.

3. Red Truck.  Again, the illustrations are great, especially for teaching colors.  Most pages are set with a gray background, with a bright red truck.  There’s also a bright yellow bus, which is nice since we finished our yellow theme right before this.

Activities

playdough texture

1. Playdough textures.  We’re very into playdough around here, so I decided to jazz it up.  We took beaded bracelets, play animals, buttons, golf balls, a comb, etc. and explored pushing them into the dough.

2. “The Regulars”. Stamping, markers, crayons, and stickers on large easel paper.

3. Red Snack. Strawberries, red bell peppers, and apples with Raspber-wee Sauce for dipping.

4. Hearts.  We cheated a bit, and covered red a little during Valentine’s Day.

There’s tons more books we could have used for red (Clifford anyone?), and also many more activities.  But I think we’ve found a good process in terms of switching out basic items like crayons and stickers and playdough each week.  I’m about 99.9% sure he knows all of his colors at this point!

Say What?

Matty Moments

I love this age.  Well, I don’t love the tantrums, the reemergence of separation anxiety, and the lack of sleep, but oh man is this kid funny!  So in an effort to remember it all, I introduce “Matty Moments.”

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Trying to talk Matty into getting into the stroller for a walk:

Me: Come on, buddy, let’s go for a walk!
Matty: No!
Me: Yeah, come on. Mommy needs to take a walk. I’ve  got a fat butt.
Matty: (giggles and slaps my butt) Fat butt. Fat butt. Fat butt.

I wish life had a rewind button.

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At Hobby Lobby, when Matty spots the craft pom poms:

Matty: Ahhhhhhh (imagine a war cry) picks up a pack of 500
Matty: For keet, for keet!
Me: Oh, does Kitty need new balls? (I only hope no one overheard this conversation…)
Matty: Yeah! (puts it in cart) proceeds to put 3 more packs in the cart before I can stop him
Me: No, we don’t need that many balls.
Matty: (Slowly puts another pack in the cart while eyeing me.) In a completely dead-pan serious voice: For keet.

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Eric walks in the door from work…door isn’t even closed yet.

Matty: Pop Pop! Pop Pop! Calk to Pop Pop! (Grandpa! Grandpa! Talk to Grandpa!)
Short pause…
Matty: Choc choc. (Chocolate) Choc choc. Daddy Pop Pop. Calk. Choc.
Eric: (Closes door) It’s good to see you too, Buddy.

Matty cries for Eric all day.  So really, he’s crying for Grandpa and chocolate.  Not sure of the connection there yet…hmmm…:)

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It’s never a good sign when your toddler comes in the room with that look.  If you’re a parent, you know what I’m talking about.  If you’re not a parent, fear not, you’ll learn it  quickly.  All I got was that look and a “belp” (help).

Apparently someone wanted a snack.

I acted falsely outraged at the mess.  He was genuinely upset about the mess.  I asked, “what are we going to do about this big mess?”

He:

1. Closed the door to hide the mess, clapping for himself.

2. When he realized the mess was still showing, he looked so sad. Ha. He stopped clapping, thought for a moment, then bent down and began stuffing the cereal back under the door, chanting, “good job”.

3. When that didn’t work, he proudly announced his next plan, “Mommy mop.”

Yep, that about sums it up.

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Speaking of mopping…

Matty walks over to the cat food tray and water dish.  Picks it up, and throws it across the room.

Me: What the $%#& are you doing?!
Matty: MOP!!!

To his credit, he did clean most of it up.  There may have a been a strong-worded discussion, and thankfully, no repeated performance.

NOTE: I know it appears that my child never wears pants, and…well, that’s pretty much true.  Pants are worthless.