Wednesday, November 7, 2012

"Ice-cream" for breakfast

Once again, a really awesome pinterest find led me to a delicious and healthy breakfast. The pin led me here and the Eskimo got to enjoy "ice-cream" for breakfast this morning. Check it out:

Here we have half a banana, coated in Greek yogurt and rolled in organic puffs. Then stick it in the freezer overnight. I used some popsicle holders I had laying around, but you could use a wooden popsicle stick too.

The Eskimo went nuts for this and he thought he was getting to eat ice-cream for breakfast. I will deal with the consequences of my deception later...

I can see this becoming a staple in our house. We eat a LOT of bananas around here anyway and the summers in Texas are so unreasonably hot. I was thinking of trying peanut butter instead of yogurt. You could also roll in granola, as the original post suggests. I'm thinking banana, peanut butter, chocolate chip for afternoon snack. Oh yum, this pregnant lady is already getting excited about it. :)

Best part? These are SO easy. You just have to remember to make them the night before so they are nice and frozen. Ok, back to studying. Which is, by the way, why I've been so absent as of late. Trying to get as many classes completed as possible before baby girl is born!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Weaning the Eskimo

Another post I have been avoiding is this one: the post about weaning the Eskimo. As far as I can tell, there are two reasons to wean your child: 1. It's the right time for you. 2. It's the right time for your child. If you're really lucky, those two coincide. I was lucky. The Eskimo weaned about a month after his second birthday. The last day he nursed was June 18th. Weird that I remember that, huh? But I do, and I likely always will.

I had recently discovered I was pregnant back in June, which explained why it was hurting SO much to nurse the Eskimo. Honestly, it felt like he was chewing on me. I couldn't nurse without cringing and it was reminding me of those first few painful weeks after we brought him home as a newborn. Weaning ended up being pretty simple for us. The Eskimo hadn't been showing nearly as much interest as he used to, and we happened to be heading out of town at that time. I decided the change in routine was a good opportunity to gently wean him. I just stopped asking him if he wanted to nurse, and stopped automatically sitting down to nurse with him at nap and bedtime. If he asked, I nursed him without hesitation, but with the change in our normal routine/location, he kind of forgot about it. He only asked once or twice and then we were done. It made me a little sad that it was so easy, but at the same time I was very grateful.

I am thrilled and blessed to have been able to nurse my son for so long. When I started our nursing journey, I really didn't expect to make it to six months. I was uneducated and we had a very rough start. But, six months came and went, a year came and went, we survived a couple of lengthy nursing strikes, and suddenly two years had passed. I'm sad that we no longer share that bond; I miss the one-on-one time we had before bed every single night. But we've replaced it with reading a story before bed, cuddling, and he recently learned how to say "I love you", which melts my heart every time. So, with the end of one stage, we begin another.

The Eskimo, nursing while reading his favorite book, back in January.

The Eskimo knows I have a tiny baby in my tummy and the other day, he pointed at my breasts and said, "Milk for tiny baby". Well, yeah, pretty much! I hadn't explained any of that to him, but he figured it out all on his own. He asked if he could have some milk, but my supply has completely dried up with the pregnancy, so I told him there wouldn't be any milk until the tiny baby got here. He was completely fine with that. Every so often now, he'll pat my chest and say "milk for tiny baby". It's adorable, but a little embarrassing when we're out in public. ;)

I think this is a really good opportunity to thank my husband for his unwavering support. There were a couple times when I thought I should just give up and wean, and he just looked at me and said, "why?". All the flimsy reasons I had at those times went flying out the window when I realized he not only supported me, but he thought what I was doing was great. We are both looking forward to having a brand new nursling come February!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


This crunchy mama is expecting baby number 2 in mid-February! We're very excited about the new addition to our family and the Eskimo is excited about being a big brother. Well, as excited as a two-year-old can be about something like that. :) I had my 16 week check up yesterday and the Eskimo accompanied me. He saw me lay down on the table while the doctor looked at my tummy. Everything looked great, but when we got home, he spent the rest of the day trying to get me to look at his tummy while he laid down on the sofa. It was cute! He definitely understands that there's a tiny baby in Mommy's tummy, but when I asked him what we were looking for in his tummy, he said "two tiny babies". Umm.... I hope not! ;)

We had a wonderful summer and spent most of it up North with family and friends. The Eskimo and I head up to Wisconsin and Illinois every summer to visit and avoid heat. This year my husband joined us for the last two weeks of our trip and we all went over to Michigan to visit with friends, hit the beaches, and go canoeing. It was amazing.

We came back at the beginning of August and jumped right back into our daily routine, with one major change. We started potty training! The Eskimo has been ready for this for a while, but I didn't want to start potty training with him only to backslide when we had to sit in the car for two days in a row (yes, we drove all the way up to Chicago/Wisconsin/Michigan and back). It's been going really well, but some days I really think it would just be easier to leave him in diapers. He's great about using the potty, but only when I remind him. And I hate having to be in charge of reminding him all day, everyday to use the potty. I know, I know, I shouldn't complain as this whole process could have been a lot more difficult, but I really don't enjoy being in charge of when another person uses the potty. I'd rather just wash and fold the diapers and be done with it. But, as I said, it's going very well. We have the occasional accident, but only when I fail to remind him to use the potty.

Other than that, things have been going normally, if a bit more slowly than usual what with me gestating and all. Between chasing a two-year-old, working on my masters degree, and adding another shift at work, this mama has been tired lately! I hope that y'all had as much fun this summer as we did!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Prep Time

Wow, we have had a whirlwind couple of weeks around here. The Eskimo turned two at the end of May and there was much celebration to be had! It started off with a visit from Grandma and Grandpa (hooray!) and our first trip down to the Texas coastline. The Eskimo really enjoyed the "big wa-wa" and the sand. Then, when we got back from the beach, I had to dive right into preparations for his party. Everything went off without a hitch, and we had an amazing time. I'll have to write a separate post about the party sometime...

But this post is about prepping for this week. My husband is out of town for work, which is fine, but I realized that I've never actually been completely 100% alone with the Eskimo for that long. Sure, we've been away from Daddy for long stretches of time, but always to visit relatives who could take over when I needed a break. Now I know there are a ton of parents out there who do this whole child-rearing thing all on their own everyday and they're awesome at it. Huge props to all of you! But my slightly compulsive need to over prepare for everything has taken over.

If you don't know, my background is in education. That's what my undergraduate degree is in and I'm currently working on a masters as well. So, I like to plan and I like to be prepared. If there's one thing you learn about lesson planning, it is to prepare way more material than you could ever possibly use. Because there's nothing worse than standing in front of a classroom full of kids with nothing to do. I have taken that same approach to this week. I prepared an extensive list of activities that has a nice mix of outside time, art, learning, and quiet time.

My husband left on Sunday afternoon, and the Eskimo took this opportunity to skip his afternoon nap. Of course. So, I let him wallow in his crib for a little while, then brought him downstairs and made oatmeal play dough. Normally my little man doesn't enjoy getting messy, but this play dough was a huge hit.

Thumbs up!

And I can eat it!

The key here was giving him utensils. An ice-cream scoop, a pastry cutter and a couple cookie cutters had him enthralled. This activity lasted over an hour. When it was all said and done, I didn't have the heart to throw the dough away. I mixed in some more flour, half a cup of sugar, two eggs, a little vanilla extract, baking soda, some coconut oil, and blue food coloring and baked "cookies"in the oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. I am not skilled at improvisational baking, but I figured these would work as dog cookies if all else failed. They are definitely not the most delicious thing I've ever made, but the Eskimo thinks they are his special cookies and he really enjoyed watching me make them out of his play dough. Plus, they're a pretty healthy snack, so I guess this one's a win. :)

So, we survived Sunday without too much trouble, in spite of the missed nap. My consolation prize was the fact that the Eskimo crashed immediately at bedtime. Phew!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Stir It Up!

I accidentally discovered another fun way to teach the Eskimo his letters today. We have this hand powered egg beater that my grandma bought me a few years ago. Frankly, she was shocked to discover on her last visit that I didn't own one and insisted we go out and find one immediately. After much searching, we found ours at William's Sonoma and if I recall, it cost about $20. She was right, I use it all the time when cooking, but I discovered a new use for it today: learning! The egg beater is one of the Eskimo's favorite kitchen utensils to play with. I gave it to him this morning while I was trying to clean up the kitchen, and looked over to see him sitting on his foam alphabet mat, mixing away. I stopped what I was doing and started asking him to mix certain letters: Can you mix the D? Which letter are you mixing now? Look, you're mixing the P!

We went through about half the alphabet this way before he got bored and wandered off to play with something else. This reinforced the letters with which he is already familiar and gave him a chance to mix up some unfamiliar letters as well.

If you don't own one of these foam alphabet mats, you could always write the letters out on pieces of paper and tape them to the floor, but I highly recommend purchasing the foam letters. We use them every single day, whether he's using the mat as a runway to jump into my arms (my favorite way to wear him out before bed!), or he's stomping on letters as we call them out. These were given to us as a gift, but I think they are fairly cheap and they are definitely worth it.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cookie Sheet Painting

I've been a little bored with our regular painting routine lately and decided it was time to shake things up a bit. I started by putting four blobs of paint on an old cookie sheet:

Then, I gave the Eskimo a silicone basting brush that I have never once used for basting... might as well get some sort of use out of it! I let him spread the paint all over the cookie sheet with the brush, and inevitably, his hands. Then, I took some paper and pressed it onto the cookie sheet. Voila!

These are some of my favorite pieces of art that the Eskimo has created. I apologize for the complete lack of action photos. This very quickly turned into an activity that needed a high level of supervision as the Eskimo was pretty sure the paint needed to be spread to every surface within arms' reach. Great opportunity for him to practice impulse control and for Mommy to practice deep breathing. ;)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

No-Cook Overnight Oatmeal

I've been on the hunt for new breakfast ideas recently. I'm getting a little tired of our usual rotation. We tend to eat a lot of eggs, some waffles, french toast, and whatever else I can dig up. But I find it really difficult to be creative in the mornings before I've had my coffee. And I can never seem to get a cup of coffee until the Eskimo has eaten. So I'm caught in this horrible breakfast catch 22. Or I was, until I found a recipe for Overnight, No-Cook Refrigerator Oatmeal on Pinterest. Bless you Pinterest, bless you.

So far I've made the blueberry maple one and the apple cinnamon recipe. Both were delicious. Though I felt like there was way too much cinnamon in the second. Gave the Eskimo a little rash on his face where he smeared it and the taste was overpowering. I also used frozen blueberries as that was all we had and it turned out just fine.

Anyway, just a quick post to share a delicious breakfast idea that you can make the night before! Brilliant!

Monday, April 16, 2012

More Discovery Bottles

I've been experimenting with some more discovery bottle options. Some of my inspiration was obtained here and some of it came from the materials I have around the house. While digging through my craft supply cabinet I discovered I had a lot of baby oil. I think some of us was given to us at the Eskimo's baby shower over two years ago and some of it I purchased for activities. Regardless, none of it had ever been opened and I decided to do something with it. One of the bottles I made is filled with baby oil, glitter, a couple drops of food coloring, and some plastic beads. I wasn't really thinking when I put the food coloring in there. It was really late last night, and I had intended on dying the oil. However, food coloring and oil don't mix. But what ended up happening was way cooler. When you shake the bottle, not only does the glitter go all over the place, but the food coloring separates into tiny little droplets in the bottle. And because the oil is thick, the glitter takes a nice long time to settle. I love it. :) FYI, the glitter is silver, so all the green you see in there is the food coloring. I also have lucked out because my sister in law uses these tiny water bottles and has agreed to give them to me when they're empty. We use reusable water bottles in our house, so I would have had to go out and spend extra money otherwise. Score!

The second one I made was inspired by the link above. I actually got the Eskimo to help me with this one. We got out the pipe cleaners, I cut them up, and he put them in the bottle. He loves being a helper, so this was right up his alley. Also good for his fine motor skills, even if he did manage to get some of the dog and cat hair in the bottle with the pipe cleaners. :) Then, we went over to Teacher Heaven and bought a magnet wand for $2.09. Check it out:

Neat, right? This was, of course, completely fascinating. He experimented with sliding the magnet up and down, and pulling it away suddenly to watch the pieces fall. He also experimented with using the front of the magnet, the side of the magnet, and the end of the magnet. I think he got the most out of this one because he was involved from the beginning. He even helped me drink the water yesterday. :)

Before you ask, yes, I hot glued the lids on. I'm hoping to keep these discovery bottles (and these and these) around for a while. I'm slowly adding to our collection with an end goal of having enough to rotate them daily over a 2 or 3 week period. Hopefully that will keep the Eskimo from getting too bored with them. Now that we have a magnet wand, I hope to do many more magnetic discovery bottles. Fun!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Ideal vs Reality Mommy

I have this picture in my head of the ideal mom that I want to be. Some days I get close to that ideal. Many days I do not. Ideal Mommy cooks a unique breakfast, lunch, and dinner every single day with organic fruits, veggies, and whole grains. Reality Mommy sometimes makes mac'n'cheese out of a box (at least it's organic!) and is not above throwing a handful of Cheerios on my son's highchair tray for breakfast. Ideal Mommy does all the dishes, the laundry, cleans the house, and is generally perfect. Reality Mommy does some of the dishes, a little laundry, checks Facebook and then goes outside to play with the Eskimo. Ideal Mommy is happy! And cheerful! And enthusiastic! Reality Mommy needs another cup of coffee. Ideal Mommy showers everyday, applies makeup, and looks fantastic. Reality Mommy is still in her pajamas.

Sometimes I torture myself with Ideal Mommy. But mostly, I keep this image around as a goal. I never expect myself to achieve perfection in all arenas at the same time. We all know those moms who seem like Ideal Mommy. They have a spotless house, are masterful chefs, throw beautiful parties, and always look gorgeous. Maybe they know something I don't. Perhaps they've latched onto the secret of Motherhood and someone forgot to send me the memo. We all do it to some degree, but I try not to measure myself against other mothers too much. I look to my child to see how I'm doing. He's happy. He's thriving. He's having fun. I must be doing something right.

What. Haven't you ever seen mac'n'cheese out of a box with frozen veggies?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Bathtub Painting

As the Eskimo gets older and more independent, I'm having to work harder to find things to entertain and challenge him everyday. Because when he's bored, all of us have a miserable day. For some reason, he seemed to really be missing Grandma and Grandpa today. Unfortunately, they live halfway across the country, so a quick visit is not really an option. We called them and chatted for a few minutes, but this didn't quite satisfy the Eskimo. So I needed a distraction. And a good one at that.

I decided to try something I've been meaning to do with him for a while now: painting in the bathtub. First, I got him really excited about it while I gathered the materials. I asked him if he wanted to paint (yes!). Then I asked him if he wanted to paint in the bathtub (YES!!). I told him that he was going to get to paint all over the bathtub and the walls and he started getting really excited. I had him help me pick out the paints and the paintbrushes and by this time, he was practically tearing down the baby gate at the bottom of the stairs. We went up to his bathroom, stripped him down, put him in the tub, and gave him his paints. I gave him no instructions or guidance. I let him do whatever he wanted to do with this one.

We put the paint in separate bowls, although next time I will likely just pour it on the floor of the tub for him. :) I also provided him with brushes, but the only thing he really used them for was painting himself.

Lots of finger painting. He LOVED spreading the paint on the walls and layering the colors. 

Don't you love how he managed to paint a heart shape on his tummy?

Sorry, all my good, smiley photos of him involved a lot of full frontal nudity and I'm not that liberal. ;)

As you can imagine, this was a MESS. But here's where I get bonus points for efficiency. It was time for me to clean that bathtub anyway, so I figured we might as well make an even bigger mess before I bothered. Also, we have one of those lovely shower head hose attachments that make cleanup a breeze. We actually got it long before the Eskimo came along so I could give the dogs baths in the tub in the winter. :) The other thing you can use for cleanup is your diaper sprayer if your bathroom is set up properly. The toilet with our diaper sprayer attachment is right next to this tub, so it would be super easy to spray it down. 

Anyway, this was a TON of fun and the Eskimo loved it. If you do this with your little ones, be sure to post pics on my Facebook page! I'd love to see them!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Goodbye Wisdom

As stated in a previous entry, I had my wisdom teeth removed this week. Let me start by saying this is an event I have dreaded since high school, when it seemed all my peers were having their wisdom teeth removed. Mine have always seemed to be fine, and I am of the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality. But sure enough, here I am, a couple months shy of 30 (!!!), and I get a big old cavity in one of my wisdom teeth. I opted to have all four removed at once so I'd only have to go through this whole ordeal one time.

My appointment was for 8:30 in the morning. I was instructed to stop eating and drinking 8 hours before my surgery. I chose midnight as my cutoff and as a result found myself chugging massive quantities of water at 11:45 at night. I have this really weird thing about being dehydrated and the thought that I wasn't allowed to drink water or I might DIE during surgery was freaking me out.

My alarm went off bright and early the next morning and I dragged myself out of bed to turn on the shower. Showering in the morning is this super-rare luxury for me these days and I was kind of excited at the prospect. But apparently I was being punished for something because our hot water heater decided to take a crap. Which meant, on the morning of my surgery, I was forced to take a COLD shower. Not happy.

We arrived nice and early for my appointment, just the way I like it. I was pretty sure I was about to die from dehydration at this point, but no one else seemed concerned. I was ushered into a room and set up in a chair where they took my blood pressure and gave me some laughing gas. The nurse asked me if I'd ever had laughing gas before and I said no. Now I know why I've always turned it down. It just feels wrong. Like you're floating a couple inches above your body, but in a bad way. Also, it smells funny. But they didn't actually give me an option here, and since I was on the brink of death from dehydration, I didn't argue.

Things started to get fuzzy after this. I remember a rather large nurse telling me how great I was doing. All I could think was, yeah, I'm doing a great job of laying here. I should get a gold medal for this. The other half of my brain was furiously plotting my escape route. Another nurse came in and told me again how well I was doing, and that they were right there with me. Um, where else would they be? I know this was supposed to be comforting, but when you're floating two inches above your body and are severely dehydrated, you kind of just want everyone to shut up so you can concentrate on how to escape. Am I right?

At some point the oral surgeon came in to put an IV in my arm. This was the reason they had given me the laughing gas: because they didn't think I could handle getting an IV without it. Really? I don't know what kind of people they see on a daily basis, but I'm not that scared of needles! He too told me how well I was doing and I finally resigned myself to the fact that there was no escaping this situation. The nurses and the doctor were too efficient. Too quick with their needles and blood pressure cuffs. The last thing I remember is a nurse putting a heart monitor on my finger.

Next thing I knew, I was sitting in a chair in some sort of recovery area with my husband and the Eskimo sitting next to me. My cheeks were stuffed with gauze and I really WAS about to die of dehydration. I somehow managed to communicate this fact through the gauze and the haze of the anesthesia and a kindly nurse brought me a bottle of water. I immediately spilled about 70% of if down my front, but I did manage to get some in my mouth. The Eskimo must have been totally freaked about by the way I looked because he didn't even try to steal my bottle of water. 

It's been a couple days, and I guess I'm recovering well. My husband took two days off work, partly for me, and partly because he had to replace our hot water heater. Thank goodness he's so handy since we just spent our life savings to have four teeth removed from my head. I think the best part is that I got to laze around in bed for TWO DAYS with no feelings of guilt. I didn't spend the entire two days in bed, but I could have! And I managed to finish up my schoolwork for the semester before my surgery, so there's been nothing hanging over my head. I guess it hasn't been quite as awful as I was anticipating, but I do kind of miss my teeth.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Medications and Breastfeeding

I want to share with you an invaluable resource for moms, especially breastfeeding moms. Kelly Mom has time and again answered questions for me that my doctors couldn't. Believe it or not, ladies, a lot of doctors don't know a whole heck of a lot about breastfeeding. In fairness, for most doctors, it's not their specialty. But every time I've had to go into a doctor's office and have required a prescription over the last two years, I've needed to ask if the medication is safe to take while breastfeeding. Cue the blank stare and the overly-cautious "no".

For example, I am getting my wisdom teeth removed on Tuesday. I had a consult with the oral surgeon last week and he gave me a list of prescriptions. I immediately asked if they were safe to take while breastfeeding. He said no, and that I should plan on pumping and dumping for an additional 3-4 days after I stopped taking the medication. He said the narcotics transfer into breast milk and that's bad for the itty-bitty guys. I told him my nursling wasn't itty-bitty, and that he was going to be two. He had a look of undisguised shock, and stuck to his original answer. I tried to get additional details out of him, but he was in a rush and headed out.

Okay then, time to turn to the wisdom of the internet. I took the list of medications prescribed to me and looked them up on Kelly Mom. All of them were rated as relatively safe. In fact, all but one were rated as completely safe to take while breastfeeding. The narcotic prescribed was rated as "moderately safe". This is where you need to make a judgement call and decide how much you trust your doctor. Honestly, I don't know my oral surgeon. I've spent a grand total of about five minutes with him. I'm far more willing to put my trust in the collective wisdom of Kelly Mom than I am in him. Maybe I'm being stupid, but I've not been steered wrong by Kelly Mom yet. And due to bad experiences and advice I've received in the past from various doctors in regards to breastfeeding, I hesitate to take them at their word. I will likely take a day or two off from breastfeeding and hope that I don't need the narcotics any longer than that. But I doubt I will wait the full 3-4 days after I stop taking them to start breastfeeding again. I haven't had to pump in a really long time and I'm not keen on dusting the old breast pump off now.

Before you start to feel hopeless about finding a good doctor, I would like to say that my GP has been awesome. I found him about a year ago, after having gone through multiple doctors, and he has been unbelievably supportive. He has told me multiple times how wonderful he thinks it is that I'm still breastfeeding my son and always relays stories of how his wife is still breastfeeding their child, who is of a similar age to the Eskimo. He has always been knowledgable and has gone the extra mile to find medications that are safe for lactating mothers.

The point of this post is not to convince you that you shouldn't listen to your doctors. You should. But you should also be an advocate for yourself and your child. Ask LOTS of questions. And if they can't answer them, do some research and come back and ask again. I plan on talking with the oral surgeon again when I go in on Tuesday. If nothing else, maybe I can convince him that he should offer alternative pain relief for lactating moms. Maybe the next one who comes through won't have to go through all of this. :)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Keep them busy

If you have a toddler, or have ever had a toddler, you probably know the key to keeping them happy is keeping them busy. Like I said in a  previous post, sometimes household chores are the perfect way to occupy a toddler. We had a repairman out to our house today to fix some trim that had some pretty severe water damage. The Eskimo was fascinated by this stranger with a tool belt and a saw. Of course, he wanted to help, but that wasn't really conducive to the repairman safely completing his work in a timely manner. Plus, I recognize that while I think my child is adorable and I love having him "help" me with tasks, strangers probably don't want a toddler underfoot while they're trying to get their work done. As a compromise, I got out the Eskimo's tools, and let him "repair" a 2 by 4 at a safe distance. This allowed him to watch the repairman without having to be underfoot. 


Letting your toddler help you with daily tasks is another way to keep them busy. I know this can be really annoying. Believe me, I know. But the Eskimo wants so badly to do whatever I'm doing and I have a feeling this eagerness to help will not last long, so I'm taking advantage while I can. This morning I was stuffing the dogs' Kongs for the week. To do this, I fill them up with dog food and put a little plug of canned food on them and stick them in the freezer. I don't really enjoy this task, but it's something I have to do at least once a week. Normally I try to occupy the Eskimo with something else, but he wouldn't leave me alone today. I looked down at him today and realized there is absolutely no reason why he can't "help" me with this task. All he had to do was put kibble inside the Kongs. This was great fine-motor practice for him and the only real "danger" involved was the possibility of him eating some dog food. And if dog food is the most disgusting thing that goes in his mouth today, I'm going to call it a win.

Yes, it's easier to do it yourself. It always takes longer to do something when there's a toddler involved. I think that's written in stone somewhere. This is where it's important to remember that you're the grownup, and it's your job to teach the child (I have to chant this to myself sometimes). But if you don't give your toddler opportunities to practice, he'll never learn. One day, the Eskimo will be able to take over the task of stuffing the Kongs every week. Now if I could just get him to clean the bathrooms..... 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Wall art

We have this gigantic calendar in our house that we use in a desperate attempt to keep our lives organized. Once a month, I get to rip of an enormous calendar page, and the Eskimo gets a great big blank canvas. This month, I taped February to the wall and gave him some crayons. He was coloring "on the wall", and he thought it was amazing.

A couple of qualifiers: I don't leave crayons/markers/paints/etc laying around the house. Some folks do, and that's their call, but the Eskimo gets plenty of opportunities to be spontaneously creative; he doesn't need free access to art materials. He also knows where I keep them, so he can come and ask me for access at any point during the day if he'd like to color. So, teaching him to "draw on the wall" is not super dangerous in our house. This was also a highly supervised activity, as are all artistic endeavors in our home. I don't just sit there and watch, I will usually get in there and color with him, whether it's on my own sheet of paper, or sharing with him.

Teaching the Eskimo that it was okay to draw on the wall as long as he kept the crayons on the paper was fun, too. He started walking around the house, pointing at different surfaces, waiting for my reaction. Cabinet? No! Floor? No! Paper? Yes!!! Big smile. He's still working on boundaries and self control, so this was great practice for him.

We left the calendar sheet up for a couple of days and he went back to it many times, adding to his beautiful scribbles. Maybe next month we'll paint!

Get to work!

The Eskimo had a rough day yesterday. Not for any particular reason as far as I can tell, but he was just cranky all day. We all have days like that. What really stuck out to me was the trouble he was having transitioning between activities. He was fine when we visited Daddy at work in the morning, but had a fit when it was time to leave. He had a great time Skype-ing with Grandma and Grandpa, but melted into a puddle of tears when they had to go. Outside time was a blast until we had to come in for lunch and because it had started raining. All day was like this. Luckily, he took a two hour nap, so I got a break for a couple hours. But he woke up from his nap in a similar mood, and the "fun" continued.

We reached a breaking point when my husband was trying to prepare some food in the kitchen and the Eskimo was underfoot around the very hot stove. That's when I decided that this was the perfect opportunity for the Eskimo to learn how to do the dishes. That's right. I filled the kitchen sink up with warm, soapy water, dumped a bunch of his plastic cups and utensils in there, and let him make a huge, soapy mess. It worked.

You see that? Yeah, that's an enormous smile on this boy's face. 

Here he was experimenting with squeezing the sponge. 

And filling the cups and dumping them was also enormous fun.

This kept him going until Daddy was done in the kitchen and it was safe for him to wander around being cranky again. He did start to pitch a fit when we emptied the water from the sink, but then I gave him a towel and asked him to help me clean up the (enormous) mess he had made. He really enjoyed wiping up the floor and it distracted him from the fact that his fun was over. I'm always amazed at how entertained the Eskimo is by doing regular household chores. I need to keep this in mind for the future! Play doesn't have to involve toys. When you're a toddler, everything you do is a form of playing and learning. Might as well teach him how to keep house!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Lacing Cards

The Eskimo and I made a trip over to Teacher Heaven today. More like stay-at-home-mama heaven! Wow, I could have spent a small fortune in there! Luckily, I refrained, and stuck (mostly) to my list. I wanted letter flashcards in English and Spanish as we're going to be starting a letter of the week theme around here. The Eskimo has already shown a lot of aptitude for and interest in letters, so I thought we'd make it official. However, it was one of the things NOT on my shopping list with which we had the most fun this evening: lacing cards!

If you've not seen these before, they're basically a picture printed on heavy card stock with holes punched in it. The idea is for the little one to lace a shoelace or similar string through the holes, practicing fine motor skills. You could definitely make these yourself very cheaply, but the set was only $3.99 and I kind of knew I was never going to get around to making my own. This has been on my to-do list for a while, so I was pretty excited to see them at the store.

I showed the Eskimo what they were for and let him at it, trying to give as little guidance as possible. By the way, the whole process made me twitch. I wanted so badly to reach in there and "help" him by doing it for him. Incidentally, this would not actually be helping him. Doing it for him robs him of the experience of figuring it out. So, I modeled the behavior and then gave minimal verbal instructions for his first couple attempts. Then, I sat back and watched. Yes, he laced! No, he did not do it perfectly or sequentially. But that wasn't really the point of his first attempt. The point was for him to learn a new skill and work on his fine motor skills. And one day, when he can sew his own button on his shirt, he'll thank me (okay, he probably won't actually thank me, but he should!).

Look at that concentration:

I'm not going to lie, the Eskimo also tried to turn this into a fatal weapon. He was swinging that zebra card all over the place. He was also whipping the extra shoelace around until one end hit him in the face. Natural consequences, eh? I did warn him it was going to happen, but some things you really have to learn on your own. So, the Eskimo's lessons for the night: basic lacing skills, and plastic-tipped shoelaces sting when they whack you in the face. My work here is done.

Monday, February 27, 2012


So I read this article on seven foods to avoid. On the list was microwave popcorn. It's not something we eat often, but I do enjoy the simplicity and deliciousness of a bag of popcorn. However, I'm not keen on ingesting chemicals that can cause cancer and infertility. We found a simple solution. Here's what you need:

Popcorn Kernels
Paper lunch bag

Put about 1/4 cup of popcorn kernels into your paper bag. Fold the top over once or twice and put a piece of tape on it to hold it closed. A word to the wise: do NOT fold it down too much. Your popcorn will need room to expand and it will make the bag explode if you aren't careful. Don't ask me how I know this; I just do. :) Microwave for 2-3 minutes, or until there are a few seconds in between pops. It took about 2 minutes in our super-powered microwave.

We ate ours plain, but you can add whatever seasonings make you happy. I think I will put a little Lawry's Seasoning Salt on it next time. This is a great snack for the little ones. The Eskimo got a huge kick out of listening to the popcorn POP. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Water beads

Sorry for the absence. Parental units were in town, and that left very little time for blogging. So, to make up for it, today's post is about something really fun: water beads! The original inspiration for this activity was found here via Pinterest, once again. You can purchase water beads (or gems) already hydrated, but they're way more expensive that way, and you'd miss out on all the fun of watching them grow. When you buy them, they look like this. I bought mine at Michael's, but I think they're available at places like Walmart and Hobby Lobby, too. I can't remember how much I paid for them, and Michael's doesn't list the price online, but I want to say it was less than $5.00. I'll have to confirm and get back to you.

Anyway, let's get down to the fun. I dumped about 1/3 of the packet into a clear bin and added some water.  At this point, it wasn't that exciting for the Eskimo, but he had fun splashing:

Then, the beads slowly started swelling, I added a couple drops of food coloring, and we got a spoon and a cup. Let the games begin!!

Some words to the wise: I spent the first 15 minutes or so of this activity trying to keep all the slippery little beads in the bin because it was driving me nuts to have them rolling all over the patio. Let me save you the trouble. Don't bother. These suckers are going to go all over the place and there's nothing you can do about it. Even when your little one is trying to keep them in the bin, they're slippery and bouncy and they go everywhere. This is part of the fun. I had to set my compulsions aside and let the Eskimo play (good advice on any day, really). I tried to keep his play focused over the bin for the most part, but didn't worry about the stray beads.

Have a few different utensils available to your little one. We had a couple different spoons and a measuring cup. He loved filling the measuring cup up with the spoon, or having one of us pour the beads into his hands. He also loved pouring them into our hands. In the last picture, you can see the Eskimo trying to balance the beads on the back of his hands. Cute!

Most of all, let your child direct this activity. You will be amazed at what he (or she) comes up with. Let him dig his whole arms in, let him put his feet in, let him fling beads across the yard. He is learning with each and every one of these things. That being said, we did have one rule: not in your mouth. While these beads are safe for play, ingesting them is not recommended. So keep an eye on your little one.

And by the way, it was in the 80's down here in Texas today, so outside diaper time was totally appropriate. If it's still cold where you are, consider a midday bath activity. You'll have to be prepared to clean up slimy little beads from all over the floor, but it will be really fun. And I kid you not, the Eskimo played exclusively with these for over 2 and a half hours today. Incredible!!

Final note: at the end of this activity, you're left with a whole bunch of water beads. I've decided to make use of a some of them. I found a clear glass jar in our recycling bin and filled it with water beads. I've stuck a garlic clove in there, and I'm eager to see if it will sprout. I also took a few of the leftover beads and put them in an empty water bottle to make another sensory bottle for the Eskimo. I will post pictures of both tomorrow, but my camera is retired for the night. :)  Enjoy!

ETA: Here are the pics

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Tired Mama

Okay, so we all have those days when we're not at our best. Either you're tired, sick, or just plain cranky. When you have an office job, you can usually just hunker down behind your desk and wait for the day to be over. But when you're a stay at home mom, not only is that impossible, but your day isn't over until bedtime. I can't hide for 12 hours from my "co-worker". As if it's not bad enough to be feeling crummy, I usually end up feeling guilty for not interacting with the Eskimo as much as I should. But really, there are days when I just can't. So, I have a few tricks up my sleeve to get him playing by himself, happily.

Busy boxes/bags: Activities that entertain with minimal interaction with Mom. Stuff like this and this work pretty well. While things like the pom-pom bucket are definitely better when I'm sitting there, talking to him about the colors, etc, he's also completely capable of doing that all on his own. Of course, he's also capable of stuffing pom-poms up his nose, so I keep an eye on him. :)

Backup toys: These are toys that I have hidden from everyday use. Usually because they're not the type of thing I like him playing with all the time. They're toys that tend to do the playing for him and don't allow him to use his imagination. Also, they usually run on batteries and are loud and annoying. But hey, if it means I get to hide for an extra 15 minutes, so be it.

Make a fort: I did this this morning, and it entertained him for an hour. I'm not kidding. The Eskimo has access to our tupperware cabinet, and he loves to sit in there. This morning I pulled out the drawer above the cabinet and hung a towel from it. Instant fort; instant happy boy. I even let him eat his breakfast in there this morning.

Let your kids take care of you: No, it's not going to be the chicken noodle soup and foot rub you were hoping for, but the Eskimo LOVES to tuck me in. When I lay down on the floor, he runs to grab me a pillow and a blanket. He will then tuck me in, and often will come lay down next to me. It may not be the 2 hour nap you're craving, but it sure beats nothing!

Call in backup: If you have backup, use it. Whether it's your significant other, family or friends. Not always an option for all of us, but hey, if you can do it, go for it!

I think what we all need to remember is that children really can entertain themselves very well. Many parents feel the need to interact every step of the way. Let your kids show you how good they are at entertaining themselves! Supervise from a distance. Tell them what a great job they're doing playing by themselves. "I really like the way you're playing" can go a long way. And honestly, I think this is pretty good advice to use everyday, not just when you're feeling off. Kids need to be able to entertain themselves, so give them a chance to practice this skill. And it IS a skill. Allowing them to practice playing alone when you're feeling fine will make it that much easier to supervise from the couch when you're feeling off.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tie-dyed Milk

This was a really cool experiment I did this afternoon with the Eskimo. We had some leftover milk that I had forgotten to put away. It had been sitting out long enough that I didn't think we should drink it, but definitely hadn't gone bad yet. Perfect for an experiment! I poured the milk in a bowl and added a few drops of food coloring. Then I dipped a toothpick in dish soap. Dip the toothpick in the bowl of milk and boom! Exploding colors!

Seriously, this is so cool, you should try it right now. I don't care whether or not you have kids, this is worth doing. I'm sure there's a whole bunch of science-y stuff to explain it, but I am not a scientifically minded person. I hope y'all have fun with your very own bowl of fireworks!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Something you may not know about me: I'm currently working on my Masters of Arts in English Language Learning. I'm doing it all online, so it requires a TON of self-motivation. And what I'm discovering is that I can accomplish a lot when I'm procrastinating. We're not talking school work here. Oh no, that paper is still looming over my head, threatening to crush me. But look what I made tonight!

I've been wanting to make the Eskimo something with a Q for a while now. Not only is it the first letter of his name, but it's one of the 5 or so letters that he recognizes with reliability. I had originally planned on doing some kind of collage with buttons, but the more I tried to put it together, the more I hated it. So, I decided to paint.

I got the canvas at Michael's today. It came in a 2-pack and was relatively inexpensive. I already had the paints and the painter's tape, so this was a pretty cheap project for me. I printed out a great big Q and taped it down in the center. Then, I made stripes with the painter's tape and got to work. It's not perfect, but considering it was thrown together last second while avoiding a paper, I'm pretty pleased. I'm still debating whether or not I want to paint the Q yellow, red, or just leave it blank.... Husband likes it blank. I'm leaning toward yellow. We'll see! Opinions welcome!

ETA: I decided to paint it yellow. The white was bugging me:

Dyed Pasta

So last night while I was watching the Australian Open, I decided to dye some pasta for my son. I pulled out a box of penne pasta and got to work. Here's what you'll need:

-dry pasta
-food coloring

I put between 10-15 drops of food coloring in each baggie, depending on how vibrant I wanted the colors to be. Then I added a TBS of vinegar and one cup of pasta. Seal the Ziploc and mix. I spread them out to dry on cookie sheets covered with both parchment paper and wax paper. Vinegar is acidic, so if it comes in contact with the metal cookie sheet, it tends to corrode it. Or maybe that's just because I'm using our super cheap cookie sheets for this. Maybe next time I will dry on a cutting board. Here's what it looked like drying:

The colors are actually a bit more vibrant after drying. In retrospect, the yellow food coloring was a bit pointless. :) I'm not 100% thrilled with this dying method as the noodles took a long time to dry and some of them got a bit soggy. Maybe that's just the nature of the beast when dying noodles, but I'd love to hear suggestions for improvement!

The reason I dyed these was so the Eskimo could practice stringing them onto a shoelace. And we did try this...

...and it lasted about 2 minutes. Then he got frustrated and decided to "cook" the noodles instead. He spent the next hour preparing the noodles in his kitchen and serving them to me. He put them in and out of different pots and bowls, "cut" them with his knife, and thoroughly enjoyed himself. Not the purpose for which the noodles were originally intended, but hey, he's having fun and that's all that matters!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Dolls and Cups

So we made a trip over to JoAnn Fabrics today to pick up the supplies for today's crafty adventure. We got little wooden peg-dolls and cups for them to sit in. They look like this to start:

I actually had eight, but the Eskimo was already playing with two of them. Cute, right? Well, I also bought some craft paint, and then I got to work. The end result was this:

How cool are those!? These required multiple layers of paint, but I think they turned out beautifully. If I was feeling really ambitious I could paint faces on these suckers, but I kind of like them without. The idea is for the Eskimo to match the doll with the correctly colored cup. This will be great for working on colors as right now he only knows "boooooo" (blue). Also really good for fine motor skills. After he went through and matched all the little dolls with the correct cup the first time, he started putting them in the wrong cups, looking at me, and giggling. He knew it was "wrong", and he thought it was hilarious. :)

My inspiration for these came from here. Another fantastic Pinterest find. Because these are cheap and easy to make, I can see these becoming a go-to birthday gift for any young child.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

More discovery bottle action and colored rice

Today's discovery bottle was created with colored rice, an empty water bottle, and some beads with letters. We've been working with the Eskimo a lot lately on learning his letters, and he's doing pretty well!

If you haven't colored rice before, here's what you need:

1 TBS vinegar
Food coloring
1 cup rice
Ziploc bag
Wax paper
Cookie sheet

Put the vinegar and food coloring in the Ziploc. Add as much food coloring as you like. I usually put about 5 drops. Add the rice to the bag and squish around until it is evenly coated. This is a great chance to get little ones involved as long as they don't try to run off with the bag and rip it open. ;) This technique is supposed to work on dry pasta as well. That's next on the to-do list for me.

Lay the wax paper on a cookie sheet and spread the rice out on it. I dry mine outside because the smell can be a bit overwhelming and it's warm and sunny in Texas this time of year. The vinegar smell does go away, I promise. It dries amazingly quickly, and then you're ready to go!

The bottle pictured above has blue and green rice in it. I was using "neon" food coloring, so the green looks a bit more yellow than I had anticipated. Experiment. Rice is cheap, so have fun! Oh, and don't forget to glue the lid on the bottle. You do NOT want colored rice spilled all over your house. :)