Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you all are having a wonderful holiday! We are at my aunt’s house in Rochester enjoying some time with my siblings, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. We had planned to drive out here Wednesday but with the threat of the snow storm we ended up coming on Tuesday instead. The storm wasn’t as bad as expected, but we still were happy to be here early.

We had a nice relaxed day with a smaller group of family before the big crowds started showing up. Chris, Lewis, Auntie Anna and I also went out in the snow and made a snow family! Lewis tested out his new boots and snow pants and had fun eating snow and making his first snow angel (with help.)

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We sent Lewis inside with my aunt while we finished our sculpting, then brought him back out just for a minute for a few photos.

Lewis is doing great with all the people here, and having fun discovering new “toys.” 

Today we might go back outside for some ore fun in the snow, and then later of course is the big turkey dinner! Gobble gobble!

 

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Let It Snow

I have been dreading the arrival of snow and winter weather this year. As a kid of course I loved it and was always excited for snow forts/snow men/snowball fights/sledding/snowshoeing/etc. but it seems I am growing “old” and the past few years the idea of being cold and wet seems less and less appealing! I much prefer to snuggle up inside with a sweater, a big blanket, and a cup of tea or cocoa.

That being said, last night we got our first snow fall of the season and it really is quite lovely! We showed Lewis out the windows and he was quite interested, so I popped some shoes onto my feet and stepped outside to let him feel the snow coming down and get a closer look at it. He was so in awe of it and didn’t want to come back in!

Selfies in the snow. Too cold and dark to stay out, plus it was almost time to sit down for dinner.

Selfies in the snow. Too cold and dark to stay out, plus it was almost time to sit down for dinner.

Of course he saw snow last year and was out in it a handful of times, but he doesn’t remember that! He was not even 4 months old when we took him outside last year for some snowy pictures and fun.

In the snow with my tiny boy last year.

In the snow with my tiny boy last year. Look at that toothless little smile!

After our brief time checking out the snow last night we promised Lewis that in the morning we would go out to actually play in it. So after we were all up, showered, and dressed this morning we bundled up and headed outside for some fun! There is only a little layer over everything, so we wanted to make sure we got outside before the sun started melting it.

"This 'snow' stuff is amazing!"

“This ‘snow’ stuff is amazing!”

Unfortunately we don’t have any of Lewis’ winter clothes yet, so we had to make do with wearing sneakers, double pants, and a warm fleecey jacket. (His new coat is in the mail to us, boots need to be returned because we were somehow sent two boots of different sizes, and we are intending to pick up some snow pants at Target when we go tomorrow or Tuesday.)

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Luckily the snow is quite powdery, so it didn’t soak through his shoes or pants at all and he stayed warm and dry.

 

We have been reading about footprints in Lewis’ BabyBug magazine, so we were excited to find some bird and squirrel footprints in the snow and we also made some prints of our own.

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Lewis was so busy exploring the snow, making footprints, etc. that he didn’t try eating any of it for quite a while. Once he decided to taste it though he didn’t want to stop!

He didn't seem to mind getting a mouthful of fuzz from his mittens.

He didn’t seem to mind getting a mouthful of fuzz from his mittens.

By this time we were all getting rather chilly, especially when the wind would blow. Lewis also made his cheeks and chin all red and cold with his snow eating so we decided to head back inside. He resisted a bit but didn’t get too upset over coming inside. Once we got inside he picked up Daddy’s gloves to inspect, as it was apparently quite interesting to see both Mommy and Daddy wearing hats and gloves just like him!

 

Mess-Free Painting With Water

I love doing art projects with Lewis and usually don’t mind the mess, but there are some day when I’d rather have something quick and easy with minimal clean-up. I’ve seen the idea to paint with water outside before but it is much too cold for outdoor water play now. I’ve thought a bit about how to convert this to an indoor activity, but had yet to come up with any brilliant ideas. Well, I recently came across this idea for “Paper Towel Artwork” on the blog Fun & Engaging Activities for Toddlers. (Unfortunately it seems this blog is no longer being updated, but looking through the archives I did find several good ideas for activities to try with Lewis.)

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Getting started. Dipping his paintbrush in the water.

Basically the idea behind the paper towel artwork is to color on a paper towel with markers and then give your child water and a paintbrush. When they “paint” the water onto the paper towel the colors all bleed making a neat effect. Easy set up, minimal mess, easy clean up – sounds good to me!

I started by getting out the markers and a few sheets of paper towel. I sat on the floor with it with our big pad of drawing paper since I knew Lewis would be interested in the markers too. He is getting better about knowing to color only on the paper, not put crayons/markers in his mouth, etc. I did one sheet with shapes, one with some flowers, and one with his name and some little patterns. Nothing fancy, just things that would catch his attention and a variety of colors to look pretty with the water. A few times he joined in by grabbing the markers and adding his own marks to the paper towels. When he’s a bit older he’ll be able to do the whole activity himself, drawing his own pictures and then “painting” over them with the water.

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We actually did the coloring a few days before the painting part, so I’m not sure if he remembered coloring on the paper towels with me by the time I got them out again to paint on. The cup holder on his highchair tray worked perfectly for pouring a little water into, since he wasn’t able to tip or spill it. You could also just put some water in a little dish.

He doesn’t recognize his name or letters yet, but I like to give him some exposure to them to start getting his name looking familiar to him. As he painted I talked to him about what he was painting on. “You’re painting on the letter “I”. It is purple. Now you put some water on the squares at the bottom. Look how the color bleeds on the paper towel.”

After painting on his name he chose the sheet with the shapes. He has been very interested in shapes recently, and is starting to recognize some of the “basic” shapes by name.

Pointing to the star, his favorite shape.

Pointing to the star, his favorite shape.

The shape sheet actually turned into a bit of a learning activity. I would ask him if he could find a shape, and then he would paint on that shape with the water. He correctly found star, square, circle, and heart but wasn’t sure about the diamond. This could be a fun way to practice numbers, letters or even sight-words with an older child. Similar to activities I’ve seen where you write letters or words with chalk outside and then have them spray them with a spray bottle as you name each one.

"Can you find the red circle?"

“Can you find the red circle?”

He was starting to lose interest by the time we got to the flower sheet, but I decided to give it a go anyway since he wasn’t asking to get down yet.

You can see some of his drawing contribution across the top of the flowers.

You can see some of his drawing contribution across the top of the flowers.

He decided to try something new with this sheet and dipped his fingers in the water instead of the brush. He tried painting some of the water on with his fingers but also thought it was good to just lick the water off his fingers. I gave him his sippy with some water but he continued to want to dip his fingers into the water. Then he noticed the cup I had for putting more water onto his tray and asked for that. He helped pour the rest of the water onto his paper, then was mad that it was all gone.

"I'm upset because Mommy won't get me more water to make a big mess with."

“I’m upset because Mommy won’t get me more water to make a big mess with.”

He seemed to have fun painting with the water, although it was hard to tell how much he was really noticing/understanding that the water was making the colors spread. We saved the first two pictures and let them dry, then I hung them on the fridge. The flower picture got ripped and went into the trash.

The next day he found a paintbrush and was walking around with it. He brought it in the kitchen, took the pictures off the fridge, and pretended to “paint” on them for a little while with the dry brush. We will definitely be re-visiting this activity!

Outdoor Adventure

We’ve been lucky to have some warm-ish weather this past week. It’s starting to cool off a bit although it is still nice and sunny today, but Monday was a really beautiful day.

We went out for a walk and a trip to the grocery store before Lewis’ morning nap. He does really great going to the store in his stroller and rarely gets fussy, but I do try to make it as quick as possible. After getting our groceries we stopped and watched the construction going on outside, where they tore down an empty Friendly’s restaurant and are now creating more parking lot space. Lewis loves to watch the trucks every time we go by, especially the excavators! We got lucky and they were using the big excavator to scoop up dirt into a dump truck, so we watched that for a bit before heading home for nap time.

Later in the afternoon I decided it was time to get out for some play time. We’ve got to take advantage of this nice weather while we have it! Who knows when more cold or even snowy weather will show up. (Although of course we will play in the snow as well this year.)

We got bundled up and headed outside. I find Lewis cooperates better if I let him pick which jacket/hat/etc. to wear. He chose a bright orange sweater and his blue hat. (He loves the fluffy pom-pom.) When we got outside he checked in with the dirt in my empty flower pots and then almost immediately headed over to the storm drain. He loves finding tiny things to drop in. I figure little leaves and berries and such won’t hurt anything but I don’t let him drop in big rocks or sticks or anything that might clog up the drain.

IMG_1583After we played by the drain for a while I suggested we continue walking and Lewis took off running along the side of the parkinglot/driveway/whatever. We ran into one of our neighbors and stopped to chat for a bit but after about 5 minutes Lewis got antsy so we continued on our adventure.

Once I put him down he took off at a run again, clearly with somewhere in mind to go. We made brief stops at two more storm drains, then he climbed up the big hill to the gate without asking for any help. Once we got through the gate into the outside world he started heading towards the road so I scooped him up, helped him look for cars, and then crossed when it was safe.

On the other side of the road is the grocery store we had walked to earlier and the construction, so I figured he was on a mission to go look at the trucks again.

IMG_1588The excavator was at work again, but after looking for about 5 seconds he decided it was too exciting to be over in this area without his stroller, and explored all the bushes/landscaping in the strip of grass between the sidewalk and parkinglot.

We found a lot of fun things to explore including bushes with berries, old dried up flowers still on the plants, pine trees to crawl under, woodchips, and lots of acorns!

"I know I can't eat these berries and Mommy doesn't really want me picking them, but they are super interested so I'm going to touch them with my open 'gentle' hands."

“I know I can’t eat these berries and Mommy doesn’t really want me picking them, but they are super interesting so I’m going to touch them with my open ‘gentle’ hands.”

Prickly dry flowers.

Prickly dry flowers.

After we explored for a while we started feeling pretty chilly from the wind, so we started heading back towards home. I carried him back up the sidewalk, across the street and to the gate, but then he wanted to get down and be on the move again.

Blurry photo of the big hill he walked up before, and also walked back down all on his own without a problem.

Blurry photo of the big hill he walked up before, and also walked back down all on his own without a problem.

He did a great job staying on track to head back to the apartment, with just one slight distraction looking at a bench.

He is fascinated with screws holding things together, and points them out where ever he spots them. "Bew, bew."

He is fascinated with screws holding things together, and points them out where ever he spots them. “Bew, bew.”

I had such a fun time going on this little adventure with him. I loved that I could just let him explore where he wanted to go and completely just follow his lead. I tried to take him out again yesterday, but he was too wrapped up in playing with sponges and duckies, and had no interest in going outside so we ended up staying in. I will definitely get us back outdoors for some more fun today though!

 

 

 

 

Weekend Visit

We spent this past weekend visiting Chris’ college roommate and his wife in their new house. They live about an hour and half away and we manage to visit them a few times a year, and they visit here about as often.

We headed out Saturday morning in time for Lewis’ first nap, and I was quite impressed with how calmly he went to sleep in the car. The past few months most of our longer car rides have involved him crying for a while and eventually falling asleep with me singing to him. This time I told him it was time for a nap, put a blanket over him, and then sat crocheting dishcloths and not engaging him in any way. He talked to himself a bit, stared out the window for a long while, and eventually drifted off to sleep with absolutely no fuss. Perfect!

We had a lot of fun seeing their new house and especially exploring the yard and neighboring park. We were lucky to have beautiful sunny weather on Saturday. Sunday was cloudier and chillier, but we still got some playtime in in the morning before it got really windy out.

Empty garden = fun dirt to dig in!

Empty garden = fun dirt to dig in!

Lewis wasn’t at all phased by being the only kid playing with 4 grown ups. I guess he is used to it, since most of his time is spent with grown ups. I’d like to try to find more chances for him to play with other kids – we haven’t been making it to the library story time the past few months because his naptime has been right at that same time. I guess when we go down to one nap a day (probably after Christmas) we will be able to start going again.

Lewis loves climbing things, although he needed a bit of extra help from Daddy.

Lewis loves climbing things, although he needed a bit of extra help from Daddy.

There were lots of slides and tunnels to explore, although eventually Lewis settled on the wood chips on the ground as his favorite thing about the park.

IMG_1512The park is technically “closed” for the season and we had it mostly to ourselves, but eventually a couple girls came through with a little dog. Lewis was super interested and really wanted to pet the doggy, but she was very hyper and much too busy running all around. No time to stop and say hello to a small human. Our friends have two cats which Lewis was also really wanted to pet, but they preferred activities like hiding under the bed or spying on us from high-up places and hissing if anyone came too close.

IMG_1521There was also a little stream by the park which Lewis wanted to go splash in. Daddy let him feel the cold water with his hands, but sadly none of us allowed him to wade in and soak his clothing. He was eventually lured away with a promise that we would go play with the pine cones by the house again.

We had a lot of fun playing indoors as well. The wooden floors were perfect for driving cars around. We had brought the game Tetris Link, which we didn’t end up playing but Lewis loved it. He was surprisingly good at dropping the little pieces into the playing board. I guess we need to get out more of our random board games for him to explore the pieces!

IMG_1544We had a great weekend with lots of yummy food and fun time with friends. The ride home went just as smoothly as the drive out there, with an equally easy car-nap for Lewis.

This is just the start of some busy time for us. We will be traveling out to Rochester, NY to spend Thanksgiving with family, then less than a month later driving to VT for Christmas. It will be lovely to see all my family again for the holidays, and hopefully those car rides go just as easily as these did!

 

 

 

Photo Friday

Pots, pans, and pom-poms. Some of our favorite toys!

Pots, pans, and pom-poms. Some of our favorite toys!

"I'm so silly sitting in this tray of pom-poms!"

“I’m so silly sitting in this tray of pom-poms!”

He wore his monster coat for a walk one day and insisted on keeping it on for a while after we got home.

He wore his monster coat for a walk one day and insisted on keeping it on for a while after we got home.

Tape paths on the floor. Keeping busy one evening waiting for Daddy to come home. He didn't quite "get" following the paths, but had a ton of fun running back and forth through the room!

Tape paths on the floor. Keeping busy one evening waiting for Daddy to come home. He didn’t quite “get” following the paths, but had a ton of fun running back and forth through the room!

Ready to throw the ball to Mama.

Ready to throw the ball to Mama.

"Hello, are there any chipmunks down in this hole?"

“Hello, are there any chipmunks down in this hole?”

Cutie under the picnic table.

Cutie under the picnic table.