Hoping the next time I do a post on boredom busters for my busy toddler we can include some outdoor activities! We are all itching to get outside, but are doing our best to find creative ways to keep Cruz busy and limit our screen time at home. The activities I list today have all seemed to surface freely - simple, everyday things from around the house that take on new life and fuel Cruz's imagination. I tell ya, all these Christmas presents and we always seem to have more fun with the box they came in. :)
1. Cars, cars, and more cars
Next to dinosaurs, Cruz loves his race cars. One of his favorite and most used presents from this Christmas was this Hot Wheels carrying case. He loves to sort through his cars and take turns picking out our favorite ones. Thanks to all the wonderful people who have showered our little loves with presents after Mila's birth, we've had an abundant amount of cardboard boxes around here. One night, I decided to transform one of them into a makeshift parking lot for Cruz's cars. Now, as we pick out our favorite cars, Cruz has a place to line them up while practicing his numbers at the same time. When we play, I like to say things like, "put this car in spot 12," or ask him to count how many spots he has left to fill. It's educational and he doesn't even know it!
Somedays, I should let my husband come up with the activities! After our Suess Day Sunday, we had some leftover helium balloons. I was putting Mila down for a nap and came into the kitchen to see Beau creating a little science experiment of his own for Cruz to tackle. Using a little paper snack cup like these, he punched holes in three sides and tied the balloons to the cup as if assembling his own little hot air balloon. The two of them had a blast, making inferences about how many objects it would take to make the balloons sink. They used marshmallows, lima beans, fruit loops, etc., and we all took turns guessing. Once he gets a little older, it would be fun to make a picture chart and have him write his guesses in the chart. Cruz loved this and was truly disappointed the next day when he woke up to find his balloons too deflated to float! If only there wasn't a helium shortage!
Another balloons activity we created on Sunday involved nothing more than a couple of paper plates and some wide popsicle sticks. Using a non-helium balloon, we simply taped the popsicle sticks to the back of a paper plate to create a raquet (I used packaging tape to make it a little more secure). Using our balloon raquets, we took turns hitting the balloon in the air, attempting to keep it from hitting the ground. Great hand/eye coordination for Cruz and pretty safe playing!
3. Bathtub masterpiece
Cruz loves the bathtub, but it can sometimes be a struggle talking him into the tub. Once he's there, he's fine, however, it sometimes takes some coaxing. One of our surefire methods of getting him excited for his bath is luring him in with bath paints. I've been making him bathtub paints for a long time and he loves it. Just buy a container of the cheapest white shaving cream you can find, add some food coloring, and give the boy some brushes, and you have created lots of entertainment in a confined, easy to clean up space. He loves painting, but loves using the shower head to wash away his masterpiece even more!
4. When movies are in order...
The other night, Cruz and I made a snack necklace for him to eat while he watched a movie before bed. Using any snack with a hole in the middle (Cheerios, Fruit Loops, pretzles, Gummy Savers, fudge striped cookies), let your child practice stringing them on a piece of string before tying it in a knot around their neck. They remind me of those candy necklaces I used to love, only much better for those tiny teeth to chew on! I found a plastic yarn needle at Hobby Lobby to make the looping much easier.
For my December boredom busters post, visit here.
Sunday, March 9, 2014
"a portrait of each of my children, once each week, in 2014"
Cruz: He's been so sweet at bedtime lately. After reading books, he usually lays his head on our shoulder and asks if we will stay and "snuggle for a wittle bit."
Mila: We sang the chorus to "How Great Thou Art" about forty-two times last night. Our girl's been a little fussy at night the last couple of nights, and she likes when I sing to her. When we finally got her to sleep at 9:30, she had her best stretch yet, waking up at 3:30.
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Some people step into your life at just the right time. Like last week, after a bad day where my work life crept back into my mom life creating some stress I wasn't ready for, my friend Judy just so happened to send me a text asking what I had planned for dinner. After some errands, I swung by her house and was greeted with homemade vegetable beef soup, pepperoni bread, some homemade, late night snacks to enjoy while nursing, some big brother books for Cruz, and a few cute outfits for Mila that her daughter Julia wore when she was a baby. A mom to two little ones herself, Judy went out of her way to take care of us for a day and her act of generosity and selflessness spoke volumes to me. I drove home that day thankful for good friends, but more importantly, thankful for those much needed reminders to keep my own stress in check and look for ways to be there for others. Because when you turn your sights on the good things, the joy in that tends to outweigh the stressful things.
We've had a lot of reminders of that lately, like the old couple who brought us a meal as part of our church's "Soul Food" mission. They were so sweet - dropping off a meat loaf, potatoes, homemade gravy, and cookies, helping me carry it from the door to the stove top, and handing me a matchbox car to give Cruz and a sweet little summer outfit for Mila. I had never met this couple before and yet, they showed nothing but genuine care for me as a new mom. They gave me a hug, reminded me that I should sleep while the baby sleeps, and left our house with big smiles on their faces. Their joy was contagious and I've smiled every time I've thought of them since.
More good things from our past couple of weeks...
125. Saturday night movie nights. Pjs and popcorn well before bedtime.
126. McDonalds' Happy Meals and Shamrock Shakes.
127. Family story time before bed. It can be a bit of train wreck, but always leads to lots of laughter. And there's something about the four of us curling up in Cruz's bed that makes me feel like I'm living in a dream.
128. Bath time. And a little brother who loves to help.
129. Our family trips to Kindergym. We walk into the gym and Cruz immediately starts running. While most little kids are taking turns on the many obstacle courses, our child runs laps around the perimeter of the gym.
Can you spot him?
130. Tiny baby smiles. And Tea Collection. Anything from Tea Collection.
131. Watching the three of them together. And babies with strong neck muscles. :)
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
...of ice cream running down chubby fingers, of barefoot walks in the damp grass at dusk, of fresh vegetables from the garden, and quiet walks in our neighborhood before bed. Dreaming of my tan little surfer boy taking a nap in our bed after an afternoon at the pool, and a sweet baby girl in a sundress laying on a patchwork quilt at the park. Dreaming of my first grilled burger on the deck, the sunshine on my face, and the smell of fresh bedding hung on the line.
Today, I am dreaming of sweet summertime.
Today, I am dreaming of sweet summertime.
We turned the calendar to March this weekend and it struck me that it seemed I was just there turning the same calendar over to February. It looks nothing like March outside right now and I'm starting to wonder if we will still have snow on the ground in April. There's a lot of it out there and with this polar vortex holding strong (record wind chills and temps. again this morning), it's not going anywhere anytime soon. Thankfully, Mila has been keeping us busy and distracted inside and the cabin fever hasn't stung too badly. Cruz has been mentioning the park more lately, and Beau was ready to shovel the snow off his Big Green Egg and light the grill yesterday. Me, I'm just excited for quilts spread out in the backyard, for baby toes to escape these footed sleepers, for easy picnics and walks to the park, and for fresh air and open windows. It will be here soon (hopefully)...
This was our first weekend with no place to be or no visitors since Mila's been born. We took Cruz to Kindergym on Saturday morning, took naps on Saturday afternoon, and went to see the Lego Movie Saturday night. Cruz and Beau loved it and Mila and I enjoyed the two hours of uninterrupted snuggle time in the dark cozy theater. Sunday was a day at home, a day spent making messes and celebrating Dr. Seuss.
Our 'Dr. Seuss Day' is a fun little tradition I started last year to celebrate the birthday of one of our favorite authors. It was my attempt to bring some color to the end of another long and cold winter and spend a day focusing on what Dr. Seuss was all about - reading, creating, and being silly. And though it may seem unnecessary and overboard to some, it was one of our favorite family days to date - for all three of us. Dr. Seuss gave us quite a world to explore and so many fun ways to bring it to life for our kids. I'm gaining quite the collection of craft and party supplies around here and with some help from Pinterest, three helium balloons, and four new pairs of silly socks, we continued a beloved tradition on Sunday and spent the day celebrating Seuss.
Instead of pancakes and a muffin tin lunch, we had a Seuss snack. I made these fun Cat in the Hat cupcakes, banana and strawberry kabobs that look like the Cat's hat, and some "one fish, two fish goldfish." We washed our snack down with some "pink ink" (pink lemonade). We sang the happy birthday song, Cruz blew out a candle, and I surprised each member of our family with a new pair of very silly socks to go along with a new book to add to our collection - Suess's, Fox in Socks.
Taco socks for the win! Or as Beau liked to call them...sock-os!
After we snacked and put Mila down for a nap, the three of us did some painting. Cruz and I love to craft together, but we always have more fun when Dad joins in, too. We made some Cat in the Hat masks out of paper plates and attempted to make a family of Thing 1 and Thing 2 with our handprints, but quickly realized Mila isn't quite ready for finger paints! We put some blue paint on her hand and she closed that little fist as tight as she could. Our "Thing" family may be a family of three; however, the leftover blue paint in the creases of Mila's tiny fingernails is evidence that we tried to include her!
We abandoned naps and watched The Lorax instead, and piled in our bed to read some of our favorite Seuss books. Okay, so not a lot of reading took place, although we did create our own version of "Hop on Pop" to which Cruz thought was pretty awesome. Mila, she's still not quite sure what to think of her new family.
More pictures from our Sunday...