Carrot Festival

Yesterday was the 35th annual carrot festival in Schenectady and we decided to go check it out. We weren’t completely sure what to expect from it, but since the publicity listed a petting zoo (goats!), falafel sandwiches (yum!), and carrot cake (of course!), we decided it was worth checking out. There was also the added bonus of it being only about a 5 minute drive away.

We got to the festival which looked quite busy as we arrived but we managed to navigate through the parking and find a place for the car. We had brought the stroller for Lewis which definitely made things easier as we did have to park a little ways off. We wandered through some craft booths on our way over to the petting zoo, but didn’t really find anything worth stopping for. (I love craft fairs, but don’t often actually buy anything. There was also a high proportion of jewelry sellers, and the only jewelry I wear is my wedding ring.) We also briefly stopped to watch the band that was playing, but it was quite loud so we decided not to stay near there for the sake of Lewis’ little ears. 

The petting zoo was fairly small, we saw a couple alpacas and then visited the cute goats. Then we noticed a reptiles tent and went to check that out. At the entrance to the tent was an enclosure with turtles (tortoises?) which was pretty cool. 

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Lewis touched the turtle shell once but was more interested in trying to pick up the apples and carrots that were there for them to snack on. I’m not sure if he wanted to feed it to the turtle, or wanted to eat it himself, but I decided not to find out.

For some reason the only photos we took were of us looking at the turtles, so you get lots of turtle pictures.

IMG_0191Inside the tent were several lizards and snakes of various types. There were at least four different people there working, helping people look at and hold the animals and giving a little information about them if people were interested. Lewis was completely unsure what to think. He was very quiet and didn’t try to touch the animals at all. I’m not sure if he was nervous about the animals or just the closeness of strange people in the tent. 

We also saw some llamas and some little chicks, both of which Lewis was quite interested in. 

There were some other neat looking things for older kids, including a Home Depot tent with aprons for the kids and projects they could do. I think that this festival would be a lot more fun with Lewis in another year or three, when he is able to participate more in all the activities. 

After seeing the animals we headed over to get some food. Chris and I had both eaten an early lunch at home while Lewis napped, but I wanted some falafel anyway and to see what else there was, and also wanted to get some kind of lunch for Lewis. Unfortunately the food tent was rather unorganized and they had run out of hot dog buns, pitas to go with the falafel and other things, and some of their other food options (and this was only around 2 in the afternoon, so still with several hours of festival left.) Eventually they came up with some pitas for us so Lewis and I shared some falafel and salad together. Chris chose not to get anything. 

IMG_0192Once we ate we seemed pretty done with the festival, so we bought a small carrot cake to go and headed back home. 

We had a fun time and I like the chance for Lewis to see some live animals and try some new foods. It was a little disappointing how unorganized parts of it were, especially the food area, but we still enjoyed the food once we got it. We will definitely consider going back in future years when Lewis will be able to get even more enjoyment out of everything!

 

 

Photo Friday

Playing with pom-poms.

Playing with pom-poms.

Reading with Daddy and singing the fire truck song.

Reading with Daddy and singing the fire truck song.

Making soup?

Making soup?

I asked him to smile so he picked up a toy and stuck it on his face.

I asked him to smile so he picked up a toy and stuck it on his face.

You have to pick your feet up really high to get through to tall grass!

You have to pick your feet up really high to get through to tall grass!

"Ooh look this is pretty on my leg."

“Ooh look this is pretty on my leg.”

"Look at my dandelion!"

“Look at my dandelion!”

Playing With Paint

As you may have noticed by now, I enjoy art of all kinds and want to pass that enjoyment on to Lewis. I also like to get messy once in a while, especially because I know that messy play is such a valuable learning experience in so many ways.

I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather today (blocked milk duct, crossing my fingers it doesn’t turn into an infection) and decided I’d prefer to sit around inside in my yoga pants rather than going outside for our usual play time. I love playing outside, but it takes a lot of energy to keep up with Lewis, make sure he’s not running in front of cars or eating rocks or acorns or crab apples, or trying to go bang on other peoples’ apartment doors, etc. etc. However, I knew that if we were staying inside I’d need to find something fun and exciting to keep him busy with or he would just be feeling cranky and cooped up which wouldn’t be very relaxing for me. So as strange as it sounds, the most relaxing thing I could think of to do was to let him make a big mess with paint!

I got the bathtub all set up ahead of time for a bath, brought all the paper/brushes/paints to the table, got a couple of wet washcloths and put them in easy reach, and then stripped him down to his diaper and strapped him into the high chair.

IMG_0087A few days after he turned one I had decided I wanted to make his footprints on paper and got out the paints to do that. I painted his feet and tried to stand him up on the paper but he was not interested so the paper ended up a mess and I cleaned him up almost right away after starting the activity. However, I kept the painting around and last night he noticed it and was “asking” to paint his feet again. So we started our painting activity with me painting each foot and making a print, and then I got a fresh paper for him to explore the paints on his own.

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“Hey painting my belly is kind of cool too.”

He had even more fun with this than I expected and did a great job actually “painting” and smearing the paint around with the tools I had given him.  We’ve tried painting a couple of times before with homemade paint and a paper taped to the kitchen floor. He had a lot of fun with that too, but that was more of a full-body experience and a lot more about dribbling paint and moving around over and through the paint, where as this time he focused more on actually using the “brushes” to interact with the paint and to make a picture (on the paper and on himself.)

I used the Crayola washable paints this time. I had been a little hesitant in the past to use these with him, even though they are nontoxic, but he has been doing really well recently with putting things in his mouth much less, and listening when I ask him not to, so I decided to give this a try. He did awesome and only touched the paint to his mouth one time, and I don’t think he even actually tasted it.

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He decided to paint his hair as well, I think because I kept referring to the “paintbrush” and his little mind was like “oh, brush! like a hair brush!”

I let him choose his paint colors, and his first painting (and his body) ended up with fall leaf colors.

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On his second painting he finally decided to dig his fingers in a bit and explore finger painting, but he went back to using the brushes after only a little bit exploring with his hands.

The finished product!

The finished product!

One of the great things with the Crayola paints is that they are super easy to clean up. (I learned this when working in preschool. A lot of other paints we had were harder to wipe up or would stain the kid’s skin, but these come right off.) We wiped off most of it with the washcloths I had on hand, then I carried him into the bathroom, filled the tub and popped him in. The rest of the paint came off super easily with the washcloth and then we had some bonus play time in the water.

While not everyone would choose messy play as a way to pass a day when they aren’t feeling well, this worked out exactly as I hoped it would and I definitely plan on introducing more painting activities soon.

 

 

Pumpkin Please!

Every year when August starts getting a bit cooler I find myself wishing summer wouldn’t end so quickly. Then September rolls in and with it the real fall weather, and I remember how much I love this season!

The cooler weather just means that we can play outside, even in the middle of the day, without feeling hot and sweaty, worrying about sunburn, etc. Nature starts to give us all kinds of new things to explore, such as pine cones and acorns falling from the trees, and of course soon there will be many colorful leaves joining them. Lewis is on a constant quest to crawl under the pine trees to find pine cones. This results in getting poked with branches, sticky pine sap on his hands, and eventually him trying to bite off bits of pine cone, but he is determined to continue.

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Lewis is also fascinated with the crab apples on the trees around our apartments. He tries to pick them up off the ground and pluck them from the trees every chance he gets. And of course what he wants to do with them is eat them. How is it that he wants to eat such a horrible sour thing as a crab apple, but he refuses to try broccoli or potatoes?

Trying to take a bite off a sour little crab apple.

Trying to take a bite off a sour little crab apple.

He has also been enjoying all the sticks that are knocked on the ground from the windy weather we have been having. He sometimes tries to chew on them, but mostly he just wants to pick them up and carry them around. Big sticks are best of course but small sticks are fun too.

I am enjoying the fall weather and bounty of the trees too. There are these little green nut shells everywhere, mostly in  piles under trees where the squirrels have dropped them. I don’t know what they are, but they seem to be calling to me to create art with them. (A la Andy Goldsworthy.) Most of my creations Lewis ends up swatting the shells all around before I can even finish, but I managed to decorate this tree root the other day.

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Besides the weather and outdoor play, we have also been greatly enjoying the fall foods. Apple picking was fun (and we will probably go again) and we have been having all kinds of yummy apple things. My biggest project has been making jars of applesauce to freeze. I’ve finished two small batches and plan on doing at least one more batch.

IMG_9530I use my mother’s method/”recipe,” cooking the apples with skins on and then smooshing them through a food mill, which can give the applesauce the most beautiful pink color. This was batch number one, the jars went in the freezer and the little tub into the fridge and then our bellies. Batch number two was with half yellow apples so the color wasn’t so pink, but I mixed blackberries into some and peaches into the rest so it is still fun. I have four more empty jars to fill and I haven’t decided yet whether they will be straight applesauce or have any additions. Either way, these will be wonderful to be able to pull out of the freezer in the middle of the winter. So much more delicious than bland grocery store applesauce.

I’ve been feeling a bit like a squirrel with my desire to cook and cook and cook and store things away. Unfortunately we have limited freezer space and I don’t have the skills/time/equipment for canning. So far I’ve just frozen my applesauce and some bags of tomatoes from our farm share. For the most part I’ve just been baking things to eat and enjoy now.

And as the title references, we’ve also been enjoying all things pumpkin! Silly Chris doesn’t like pumpkin, but that just means even more deliciousness for me. I started with a can of pumpkin puree that had been lurking in the bag of the cupboard. I made some pumpkin zucchini muffins, pumpkin oat bars, and a pumpkin cream cheese spread to share with Lewis, all of which he seemed to enjoy. And now the restaurants are all filling with pumpkin-everything and I find myself buying pumpkin spice lattes from starbucks and my most favorite ever pumpkin muffins from our local co-op. Lewis has been mooching bites from my muffins, and trying to talk me into sharing the lattes as well.

I plan on buying and making much more apple and pumpkin bounty in the weeks to come! Yum!

 

Friday Bonus: Video Of Cuteness

Well this started off as a video of Lewis pointing to his different body parts, but of course he got bored of that game and decided to run around and be silly instead! Playing chase with Mommy and Daddy is one of his favorite games recently, as well as hiding behind furniture to pop out, or having us pop out at him. Sorry about the shakiness and such – it’s hard to take a video while chasing a crazy baby around!

Photo Friday

We made apple cinnamon cookies last weekend and Lewis swiped a whole one for himself. He was quite happy with the cookie, but not in the mood to have his photo taken.

We made apple cinnamon cookies last weekend and Lewis swiped a whole one for himself. He was quite happy with the cookie, but not in the mood to have his photo taken.

Big towers are so much fun to knock over!

Big towers are so much fun to knock over!

"Whoa this new oven mitt is bigger than my whole arm!"

“Whoa this new oven mitt is bigger than my whole arm!”

His love of feet and shoes has now extended to wanting to wear Mommy and Daddy's shoes, although he can't quite manage to put them on himself yet.

His love of feet and shoes has now extended to wanting to wear Mommy and Daddy’s shoes, although he can’t quite manage to put them on himself yet.

Bought him a new stacking toy after seeing how much he enjoyed the one at the Dr.'s office.

Bought him a new stacking toy after seeing how much he enjoyed the one at the Dr.’s office.

He always wants to touch all the cars parked outside.

He always wants to touch all the cars parked outside.

Studying an acorn.

Studying an acorn.

We have no stairs in our apartment. He had fun practicing going up  and down these steps outside.

We have no stairs in our apartment. He had fun practicing going up and down these steps outside.

Another Week

Another week is almost over, again with me not blogging nearly as often as I’d like. It didn’t fly by quite like last week did. This week has felt a little off-kilter. Not bad, just off. We slept in (by about an hour or so) a couple of mornings, which threw off our routines for those days by a bit. Despite the sleeping in, I’ve been feeling tired this week which results in also being a bit unfocused feeling. I had a lovely nap this afternoon though, so maybe tomorrow I will have a bit more energy and feel a bit more “normal.”

Most of our week has been filled with normal routine-y things. Playing, reading books, cooking, cleaning.

Lewis is a good helper with the cleaning. If by “helper” you understand that I mean he likes to steal the broom from me.

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I’ve still been feeling a lot of creative energy and a drive to work on my art journal and other projects. In a way, I think this is part of why I’ve been feeling “off.” Some kind of disconnect between wanting to put my energy into art and knowing I need to keep up with the housework and cooking and stuff, and not having enough time to do as much of both as I would like. I’ve been striving to find a balance, and giving myself a little bit of time to work on art each day while Lewis naps.

These pages are the work of several naptimes. Multi-layer mixed media backgrounds with marker drawing flowers which Lewie's aunties mailed to him.

These pages are the work of several naptimes. Multi-layer mixed media backgrounds with marker drawing flowers which Lewie’s aunties mailed to him.

Housework and artwork can both be difficult to do while he is awake. He just has so much energy and is always on the go, moving from one activity to another. He likes to have me involved in what he is doing, or at least nearby. He also wants to be involved in what I am doing. Cooking or washing dishes he doesn’t like because he can’t see what is going on up on the counters. With art it is just a matter of him wanting to use my materials, and I can’t exactly let him chew on dirty paintbrushes, squirt paint and glue around, play with scissors, or pull the caps off Sharpies. Pretty much the only safe thing I can do is to doodle with colored pencils or a clicky pen which he hasn’t figured out yet.

We’ve been reading and reading and reading. He loves to pull the books off his shelf to find just the right one. We have some out in a basket and a few on the floor where it is easier for him to see what they are, but he just enjoys pulling books off the shelf in general. We made a trip to the library a few days ago. We played for almost an hour and he didn’t want to leave. We read some books, played with a puzzle, and even had a little tea party with some play dishes and a dolly that were there. He’s also been having a lot of fun with his plastic activity cones “traffic cones” that Uncle Kenny gave him for his birthday. He loves when we stack them up for him to knock over. Better than blocks!

The weather has been getting cooler. We haven’t been doing our usual morning walks because it is so chilly. Instead we are back to walking after lunch like we had been doing in the spring. We have also been getting out to play and really enjoying the cool weather and changing season. We have been finding acorns, pine cones, unidentified green nut shells, crab apples, and some dry leaves to play with when we are outside. He is of course curious to explore things with his mouth but he is good about listening when I remind him not to. I have been trying to direct his energy to practicing throwing with the acorns and such which has the added benefit of getting them out of his hand so he isn’t just holding onto it and absentmindedly putting it to his mouth.

Yesterday playing outside one of our neighbors came out to say hi and offered to take a photo of the two of us since she saw me with my camera.

Yesterday playing outside one of our neighbors came out to say hi and offered to take a photo of the two of us since she saw me with my camera.

Tomorrow is friday and will probably include more cleaning, playing, art, reading, and outside time. Then comes the weekend which means more cooking/baking with apples, and fun play time with Daddy. Stay tuned for Photo Friday tomorrow!

Sensory Play And A Busy Baby

They (whoever “they” are) say that time flies when you are having a good time. This must have been a great week because it went by in a flash. We seem to have had our usual mix of being busy without actually doing much of anything.

Monday was Lewis’ birthday.  It was pretty low-key as far as birthday related things, but we kept plenty busy. We took his 1-year birthday photos, had a wonderful time playing outside in some perfect weather, and baked a yummy peach cake which I very sadly dropped on it’s way out of the oven. I was able to save about half of it. It tasted good but wasn’t very pretty.

Tuesday Lewis had his 1 year check up which went very well. There were 4 different immunization shots he had to have, which wasn’t fun but he did great with it. We also did some sensory play with tiny dry pasta. I use an old sheet under most of our messy play to aid clean-up, and since the sheet itself doesn’t get messy from dry pasta we used it to build an awesome fort afterwards. Lewis decided this was a great place to play peek-a-boo in and out of, read books inside of, and also to cuddle up and nurse!

IMG_9742The rest of the week was pretty rainy, and we were mostly trapped inside. We snuck in a couple small walks when we got the chance, but most of our time was spent reading books and doing who-knows-what. We did do a lot of sensory play this week, since it is a great way to focus our energy and also mix things up so we don’t feel too “trapped” by the rainy weather. We played with the dry pasta on three different days.

We also played with jello on Thursday which was a lot of fun. Of course Lewis enjoyed tasting it but he also liked digging his fingers around in it, picking it up and squishing it, etc.

IMG_9827Our jello play was made even more exciting by a huge thunderstorm that came through while we were playing. There was hail hitting the windows and a lot of loud thunder (which luckily doesn’t scare Lewis yet) and then we lost power.

My jello clean-up plan had been to pop him in the bath when he was done playing but since the bathroom has no windows it’s pretty much pitch black with the power off, so I had to come up with a Plan B. I ended up just picking him up and sitting him in the nearby kitchen sink which worked perfectly. Luckily water still runs when the power is off. We cleaned up with cold water and Lewis stayed happy and entertained playing with the sink sprayer thingy.

He got a little brave and tried putting his feet in it a bit, but not too much. He's sometimes a bit reluctant to feel new things with his feet, even things like walking over my yoga mat.

He got a little brave and tried putting his feet in it a bit, but not too much. He’s sometimes a bit reluctant to feel new things with his feet, even things like walking over my yoga mat.

We haven’t been doing a lot of sensory play over the summer (maybe once a week or so we will do something) but I think we will be getting back into it a lot more now as the weather starts to cool and gets rainy, and especially once winter is here. I have a few play experiences in mind for the new future including making playdough for him, putting flour or cornmeal on a tray and letting him explore it, and cooking up some large tapioca pearls that I bought a while ago (just cooking them in water, not making pudding.) Once the leaves start turning color a bit more I will probably also make him a bin full of fall leaves, although he is already enjoying playing with the ones he finds on the ground outside.

This week seemed to have a pretty good mix of busy and relaxing, although maybe I need a bit more “down time” so I can get a chance to write blog posts a bit more often!

 

 

Photo Friday

Color-themed bath time fun.

Color-themed bath time fun.

It's fun to peek through things!

It’s fun to peek through things!

Playing in the awesome fort we made with a big sheet draped over chairs.

Playing in the awesome fort we made with a big sheet draped over chairs.

Vacuuming the floor after Mommy finished using the real vacuum. He is so interested and even follows me around and gets in front of the vacuum when I am using it because he just wants to touch it/play with it/figure it out.

Vacuuming the floor after Mommy finished using the real vacuum. He is so interested and even follows me around and gets in front of the vacuum when I am using it because he just wants to touch it/play with it/figure it out.

Checking out his awesome new snake quilt that Grandma P. sent for his birthday. This boy is so lucky with all the amazing knit/crocheted/quilted blankets he has received from both sides of the family.

Checking out his awesome new snake quilt that Grandma P. sent for his birthday. This boy is so lucky with all the amazing knit/crocheted/quilted blankets he has received from both sides of the family.

This is his face after stealing a clove of raw garlic and taking a huge bite of it. He spit it out but kept going back for more bites.

This is his face after stealing a clove of raw garlic and taking a huge bite of it. He spit it out but kept going back for more bites.

"This soup tastes so much better because Mommy let me use her giant spoon!"

“This soup tastes so much better because Mommy let me use her giant spoon!”

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday Lewis!

Today you turn 1 year old, although I don’t think you have any concept of it being your birthday or what a birthday is.

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We got you a balloon yesterday, as we’ve been promising you all summer that you would have a balloon for your birthday. You love balloons and get super excited every time you see them in the grocery store. We’ve already had your party. Twice, actually. You got some presents from your Aunties and Uncle and Grandma and Grandpa when we were at camp in August, and last weekend we went to Vermont and had some yummy carrot cake and you got your presents from Mommy and Daddy.

You’ve been loving the three new books you got, and like to go get them and bring them to us to read. You love pretty much all books right now which I think is really wonderful. From the time you wake up in the morning to the time we go to bed your day is sprinkled with little quiet times reading to yourself or requesting story time from me and Daddy. Sometimes you ask for a story when it is a little inconvenient, like when I am getting my breakfast or Daddy is getting ready for work or when I am trying to cook dinner, but we try to make time to sit down and spend a few minutes reading a book or two with you. Sometimes you could sit and read ten books and still want more. Sometimes you lose interest half way through a book, even when it is one you picked. That’s ok too. We live in a big amazing world full of interesting things to do and see and play with. Sometimes you just need to go explore something else, or be on the move practicing using all your muscles.

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You’ve recently started trying to “jump” which is adorable. You bend your knees and stick your butt out behind you like you are doing squats and bounce up and down. Now that you’ve discovered this you also try to bounce up and down when in your highchair or sitting other places and even when you are nursing which is very silly. You also are a pro at shaking your head “no” but you haven’t quite figured out how to nod “yes” yet. You can’t isolate your head to go up and down so instead you bounce your whole body up and down or sometimes just shake your head “no” when you mean “yes”.

You love to answer questions now and seem to understand what we are asking you about. Daddy has been impressed about how you listen carefully when he asks you something and then stop to think about it before shaking your head “no.” You were playing the animal game on the ipad with him and he was asking you questions about the animals and if you knew how to navigate between pages and such. You also like to shake your head “no” when a question hasn’t been asked but you need to tell us you don’t want something, like when I say it is time for a diaper change or lunch or a nap. You are so busy all the time, you don’t like to quite the fun things you are doing to follow Mommy’s schedule. You’re (almost) always sweet about it though, and your little head shakes just make me smile. I love that you are expressing yourself and communicating so well and that you know what is going on and what you want. Usually if I let you play for a couple more minutes you are then ready to transition over to whatever I think you need to be doing.

Proud new Dada, 1 year ago.  <3

Proud new Dada, 1 year ago. ❤

Some people get sad when their baby turns a year old, feeling nostalgic for the too-quickly passing days and the tiny dependent little one who is now becoming an independent toddler. I don’t feel that. I love this stage and am only looking forward to the coming weeks and months and years, seeing you grow and learn more and more and become even more independent. In all my working with kids I have always enjoyed toddlers the most and never was that big on taking care of tiny infants. Your first six months or so were the hardest for me because you were so needy of always having Mommy with you, holding you. I have loved you immensely since before you were born, and that love just keeps growing as I see you becoming more and more your own little person. I love that you are happy to wander off into the other room to look at your books or play with toys when I am busy with something. I also love that you can participate more with what I am doing. You love to take a turn scribbling on paper when I am writing or coloring. You also helped me make some pumpkin oat bars last week and even took a turn stirring everything in the bowl.

Your language skills are exploding. You have words for a lot of things, which I blogged about earlier this week. You are also imitating sounds and words more when we say something that you like the sound of. I was cutting tags off your new clothes this weekend and you were interested in what I was doing. I told you I was using the sharp scissors to cut the tags off. You liked the sound of the word “scissors” and started repeating “sizzizzzizzz, szzizzzizz.”

Tomorrow we will go to the doctor for your checkup and immunizations. The shots will hurt but they will be over quickly and then you won’t need any more for at least a few months. I am looking forward to seeing you measured and learning how tall you have grown. I don’t think you’ve gained much weight, since you are so busy all the time running running running, but you have definitely gotten taller!

Three days old. You seemed big then, but looking back at these photos you were just so tiny!

Three days old. You seemed big then, but looking back at these photos you were just so tiny!

You nurse all the time, again probably because of what a busy little man you are. You never stop moving, thinking, exploring, doing. I think you nurse nearly as much now as you did when you were a newborn. You still wake me a few times in the night for a quick snack and a snuggle to help settle back to sleep. It is tiring but it’s ok. I love all the chances to sit and unwind and relax with you and take a break from how busy we are the rest of the time. I love being close and snuggly and quiet with you. I think breastfeeding you is one of the things that I will miss as you get older and grow out of it, but that is a long way off. You love it so much, there is no way I think you will be quitting any time soon, so for now I just get to enjoy all that snuggly time. You may be turning one, but you are still my sweet little baby in all the best ways.

This is a long letter because there is so much going on in your little life and I have so much to tell you and so much I want to remember. I love you so much and I am looking forward to everything we will do and learn together in this next year and all the years to come!

❤ Your Mommy