Easy Peasy Painting

Would you like a simple activity that will entertain kids of multiple ages? I have an easy one for you today! It is called… wait for it… “Paint the Sidewalk.” ha, real original, but SO EASY!

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Now that the weather is nicer, we are taking every opportunity to get outside. On a really warm day last week, I remembered that my kindergarten students loved painting the sidewalk with water… what an easy and fun idea! So, I grabbed some paint brushes, tupperware, and for some more fun; food coloring.

Emmy and I headed outside with some excitement, some clothes we didn’t mind getting messy and started painting. At this time, Emmy is 14 months old and is really starting to mimic everything I do. I gave her the paintbrush and watched her twist it around her hand, feel the bristles, and then give it a good shake. I used another paint brush to dip in the water and showed her how to paint the sidewalk. She immediately started copying me. I could see the wheels turning in her head as she was figuring out this new activity. She was fully engaged for a good 10 minutes. When I noticed she was losing interest, I added the food coloring and once again she was fascinated! I added another tupperware container with water and a different color and again she was sucked into painting our sidewalk.

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This activity can’t get any easier, and it provides a lot of sensory input, language development, as well as some fine motor and gross motor activity. Encourage vocabulary by naming the colors, and the materials, and take this time to narrate what your child is doing or maybe even label a feeling. (Try; “Wow! Painting seems to help you relax!” Or “Wow! You are painting so much! You have so much energy!” Sounds cheesy, but the more you talk, the better!) My kindergarten students always loved this activity, so I don’t see a need to modify it for older children. For babies, you could forget the water (or keep it, if its warm enough) and just use a paint brush to tickle their toes, knees and hands!

I hope that you have so much fun getting outdoors with your little ones! I would love to hear how you make this activity your own. What are some other ways that you enjoy the outdoors?

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Babywearing Love

IMG_6213IMG_1354IMG_1146Have you tried babywearing? Baby carriers make a lot of things easier; travel, getting things done, or chasing after older children while keeping your littlest one close. It also gives parents time to bond with their newborn, while also helping their newborn to feel safe in their new environment. I absolutely love both of my baby carriers, but I didn’t always feel that way. 

We registered and received an Ergo 360. We love it, and it has been crucial when traveling with Emmy. When Emmy was just a few weeks old, I purchased a Solly baby wrap. I purchased the Solly because I actually felt intimidated by our Ergo 360, which is funny since now, I am quick to get it on, make sure Emmy is comfy and do my safety check within a couple of minutes. I couldn’t wear Emmy at first because she had a low birth rate. Once she was big enough to be held in the Solly baby wrap… well, let’s just say it was a game changer! This little girl, like most newborns, LOVED to be held! When my husband returned to work, I pretty much nursed Emmy, went to the bathroom if I could, and shoveled easy to grab snacks all day while I waited for him to come home. I got some adorable snuggles in between, but I felt as though it became quite rare for me to do something normal- put away dishes, make an actual meal, maybe even take a glorious shower! When I was finally able to wear Emmy, it was like a part of myself was returning, and I was getting more confident as a mom.

One part of motherhood that surprised me was anxiety. I will save more on that for a later post, but for now, I found that any anxieties I had often resulted in a rabbit hole of google searches. Babywearing was one of those rabbit holes for me. When I first started wearing Emmy, I pretty much checked her posture and breathing about every .024 seconds! After my new hobby of googling, I found a lot of resources that helped me to relax and enjoy the sweetness that is babywearing.

Here are some helpful websites I found useful and I am hoping can help you as well!

If you have an Ergo, their website includes videos with tutorials, along with FAQ and more.

Solly Baby Wrap also has great video tutorials.

Do you remember how I shared above that I do a safety check? Like I mentioned, I got incredibly anxious when I wore Emmy, so much so that I couldn’t relax. This website really helped me as I became more comfortable. Babywearing International has LOTS of amazing resources, but I am linking straight to their safety page.

I would love to hear from you about your favorites when it comes to babywearing. What type did you enjoy the most? How has it made parenthood easier for you?

 

Three Easy Reading Tips

As a former teacher, books and reading are a huge passion of mine. Emmy’s Grammy is also a reading recovery teacher so this child is surrounded by literacy. I am hoping to share some easy ideas to help create a rich literacy environment that fosters a love for reading and books.

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Here are three easy ideas for you to try today!

  • Be Silly Take this time to be silly! Create voices for each character, go over the top for sounds and just have fun! I hate my singing voice, but when there is a song in a book I just go for it! Emmy loooves it and we end up having so much fun reading together. Your learner will pick up on how you read, and before you know it, you’ll see them making silly sounds and voices when they pick up a book.
  • Read the pictures In the beginning of kindergarten, I start the year by teaching my students to read independently and every year they tell me that they can’t because they don’t know how to read! I always respond with, “You can read! You are already a reader!” I reinforce this by showing them that they can read the pictures. This is such an easy and fun skill to start now. Go through a book with your little one and just point to the pictures. There are so many literacy skills you are covering with this simple task. This is especially great with babies, but since this is a skill I teach to kinders, you won’t need to modify it for your children of various ages. Have fun!!
  • Point to words When you read, point to the words. Your child already notices that when you pick up a book, you are talking and telling a story. Pointing to words is another way to instill meaning. They will begin to notice that those silly symbols on the page mean something.

These are simple and easy things to try, and it’s likely many of you already do this! Please share your experiences whether it be old or new! I love hearing from you!

 

The pictures from today’s post were taken by Sunshine Marigold Photography

In and Out

I feel like most activities I do with my toddler last maybe 10 minutes? And that would definitely be the maximum amount of time! Tonight, Emmy was engaged in an activity for a solid 30 minutes!!! My husband and I were in disbelief.

 

All you need is an empty tissue box, some bouncy balls and maybe another container. I used a tupperware container.

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It is super simple, and a great activity for building language, fine motor skills and even gross motor.

 

I modeled how to take the balls in an out of the tissue box. Each time, I said, “in, and out.” The bouncy balls were new to Emmy so, she was fascinated by these and had to turn them over in her hands a few times. I kept pointing and repeating “ball.” Then, she began to mimic what I had been doing. She kept taking the balls out of the tissue box and placing them in the tupperware container. I only had six balls because they are smaller than I would prefer, so these are an item I will put away because I don’t want her to play with them without me monitoring. Once she had placed all six in the tupperware, I clapped and cheered! She then started clapping for herself, which is so cute, and then started the process over again!

 

There were so many variations with this activity and they all kept her so engaged. I could see her wheels turning as she manipulated the bouncy balls. I thought for sure I would end up with bouncy balls all over my living room… but she was very intent on keeping these in their containers.

 

Emmy actually created her own variation to this activity. She pulled a ball out of the tissue box, walked around our ottoman, and then placed in the other container. She did this so many times we were worried she was going to get dizzy!

Toddlers love taking objects out of containers, bags, cabinets, and drawers! Although this can drive us crazy, it can also be a fun opportunity for building language skills and having some fun with your little one!

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Let me know if you tried this activity or created something of your own. I am off to clean up all of the tupperware that Emmy forgot to put back in a cabinet!

Flying with a Toddler

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I have to start this post by saying that my husband and I flew ALOT prior to having Emmy. Honestly, my experience and routine in flying helped me as I prepared for our first trip with a baby. My husband and I recently counted the number of flights that Emmy has been on since she was born… It was 23! We need to get her a frequent flyers mile number ASAP! 

I am hoping that our experiences, success and mistakes can help you as you prepare to fly with your little one.  I mostly fly with Emmy by myself, but these tips can definitely be used if you are flying as a family.

When I fly with Emmy, I take one carry-on rolling suitcase ( I always check it unless my husband is traveling with me), one backpack, my Ergo Baby 360, her stroller and her carseat.  (Emmy is still in an infant car seat- we plan to switch her soon!) Most of our trips are to Georgia where our parents have an extra car seat base, and pack and play. We will be taking a trip to the Northwest and Hawaii in June, so stay posted for how we pack for that vacation.

In my carry-on size suitcase:

  • My clothes, shoes, hair accessories (usually a straight iron or curling iron, never both) I wear my bulkiest items, my ankle boots have been great for transitioning from Wisconsin to Georgia, but I have worn light cold weather boots as well. I generally then pack my small ballet flats along with a pair of tennis shoes or Toms.
  • Liquids (bath soap and lotion for Emmy, some hair products for me)
  • I LOVE packing cubes. I don’t always use them for my stuff, but they have been amazing for Emmy’s stuff! I pick two smaller cubes and roll her tops in one, and pants in the other. I usually squeeze some socks and shoes in with the bottoms.
  • I like to put her brush, tooth brush, bows, and anything else random in a small bag and I include this in my checked bag
  • I like to tuck some diapers in the suitcase if I have room, but I don’t worry about it too much.

My Back-Pack (In the south I said “book-bag” but had to change when I moved to Wisconsin! I was confusing my kinders.)

  • I have two gallon-size zip-loc bags.
    • One with diaper changing materials: diapers, changing pad, and a small container of aquaphor) *I keep the wipes out of a bag because I use them so much!
    • The second one I pack last because I want to grab it easily. This holds, snacks for baby and me, wipes, a couple toys, boogie wipes, tissues and extra paci’s
  • I pack 5-10 diapers on the bottom of the bag. Just for worst case scenarios. I also roll up an extra shirt for me, and two extra outfits for Emmy. If I have room I add some leggings in case Emmy has an accident on me. (This has never happened… knock on wood!)
  • If I have room, I include a book because this can entertain her for a bit on the flight.
  • I like to bring a water bottle if possible, if not, I always buy one at the airport once we get through security, and this is another fun toy for Emmy to play with!
  • My back-pack also includes essentials in case of a major delay that I wouldn’t want to buy (kids tylenol, along with the dispenser, nose frida and saline solution.) The liquids go in my quart size zip-loc along with my must-have liquids.
  • I also like to pack my make-up in my back pack because I would be a mess if that was lost too!
  • One sippy cup of almond milk for Emmy. I let her drink from my water bottle if needed. *I always let the TSA agents know I have a sippy cup of liquid. 
  • One Muslin blanket- nursing cover, cover when sleeping, or ball it up and use it support your arm when they sleep. 
  • If you have a younger baby, the monkey mat is amazing! It can hook onto your backpack as well. I used this when Emmy was sitting up or for tummy time prior to boarding!
  • i-Pad: If you plan ahead, you can download some shows from amazon prime or netflix!

During the flight

I like to board first, I know some moms prefer to wait, and now that Emmy is walking we may end up doing this too! I like the extra time to get situated, especially when traveling alone. Ever since Emmy could sit up, I plopped her in my seat, then buckled her up so that I could unpack and wipe down the surrounding surfaces! I am not a big germaphobe, but airplanes/airports gross me out!

I hold off on bringing out the toys for as long as possible. We have been lucky that people sitting with us or nearby like to entertain Emmy and I fully support that! When I was nursing, I would nurse during take-off. If you are not nursing, try a paci, and if your child doesn’t take a paci, offer a bottle or sippy cup! The sucking can prevent their ears from popping.

The rest of the flight is pretty much me trying to entertain her. I offer snacks, I let her play with my water bottle, my phone, or watch shows on the iPad. When the flight attendants come around, I ask for a bag of pretzels and empty cup.. Both purely for Emmy’s entertainment- New, cheap toys!

She usually falls asleep about halfway through the flight and I always let her! If she is awake and antsy, I take advantage of the seat belt sign being off and I get up and walk her to the back of the plane and try to stand out of people’s way.

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I hope that your flight is as stress-free! Everyone knows babies cry, if your child gets upset, try your best to stay calm. Get up and walk around, take a breath and just know this will be a small memory some day.

What are some travel tips that have helped you?

Emmy’s First Birthday

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I had WAY too much fun making decorations for Emmy’s first birthday. I swear I started pinning ideas when she was 6 months old! I found that I was drawn to floral decorations with gold accents. Here are some pictures from her big day!

I ended up planning her decor around  a piece of scrapbook paper. Hobby Lobby was having a sale so I picked up a pack of scrapbook paper for around $10. I pulled the colors from there to pick out the ribbon for her high-chair decoration, along with the pom-pom yarn banner.

I make banners fairly often, so I bought a pin-board banner from Hobby Lobby, and I use the pin board to trace a pattern. I can trace three triangles from one piece of paper. I then cut, mark a spot for the holes to string the ribbon for hanging, and then whole punch! I like to lay out the pieces on the ground trying different combinations. Since I had an entire pack of paper to play with, my banners have several prints. I also picked up a pack of gold letters which I am trying to figure out how to use the rest of the pack… its so cute! Version 3Version 2

For my high chair decoration, I waited for ribbon to go on sale at Hobby Lobby and then went a little crazy! I cut them all the same length, and then looped them around a piece of twine. I made a separate banner and simply taped it over the ribbon decor.

You can see the colors in the floral print (bottom banner, middle piece.) I pulled the colors which included pinks, blues, yellow and grey. I loved finding ribbons that were different in widths and textures.

I loved the idea of using Emmy’s milestone pictures as decor. I kept seeing the yarn pom-poms and decided I had to make them! They were super easy, and something I could do while watching tv.

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I bought cute little clothes pins to hold the pictures. I was surprised at how well this held up. Emmy had 3 celebrations and I transferred her decorations each time.

We had so much fun celebrating our sweet little girl. Let me know what you did to celebrate your little one!

Easter Sensory Bin

Emmy and I visit Target at least once a week. Our favorite spot is the dollar aisle. This week I started an Easter sensory bin with some dollar aisle finds along with some things I already had at the house. When I create a sensory bin I keep it in rotation for a few weeks. I add things, take things out, etc. With this being my first sensory bin post, I want to clarify my goal: I hope that you can find something that works for you and your little one. I will always post examples of what I do with my daughter, but I hope to modify for your older or younger children.

I found these adorable bunnies for $1 along with these cute Easter Eggs. I have an obsession with ribbon so I grabbed some Easter colors. I also happened to have some green tissue paper.

I usually make the sensory bin with Emmy because it provides some opportunities to narrate what I’m doing. My teaching background often comes into play here, it can seem awkward but I simply describe what I am doing. For example, I start by cutting the tissue paper (safely so these curious toddler hands can’t grab the scissors) and say, “Mommy is cutting the green paper to make green grass.” I place it in the container as I cut and she immediately starts exploring. Then I cut the ribbon, add the eggs and bunnies.

This first experience in the sensory basket is always the easiest part. She stays engaged with new items to explore. My main goal is to keep the tissue paper out of her mouth! Emmy takes a pacifier, so I can easily pop that in and she no longer attempts to make these items a meal.

For a younger baby, this can be a great tummy time activity. Lay baby on their belly on a nursing pillow so their little hands can reach the basket. I wouldn’t even cut the tissue paper. They will be amused crinkling the paper, or touching the eggs and ribbon.

For an older child, they can make the grass by ripping the paper, and they would also enjoy opening and closing the eggs. This would be a good opportunity to put something inside the eggs. Cheerios? Then it can turn to a counting activity/snack!

Have fun, and please share any changes you made, or what worked for you! I will post again when I change the basket a little to keep Emmy’s interest.