Photo Friday And Happy 1 Year!

Happy Friday everyone! I hope you have had a better week than we have. Lewis is absolutely hating being sick and has been miserable most of yesterday and today. As I mentioned in my previous post he has figured out how to blow his nose. Unfortunately, he has also decided not to do so and thinks that even getting the drippy snot wiped is torture, although he also thinks that having that drippy snot there is terrible as well. We are coping as best we can, reading lots of books, watching some Paddington Bear dvds that Grandma P. got for him, and offering lots of snuggles which he rejects most of the time. His foods of choice this week are applesauce, frozen peas and corn straight from the freezer (they’re no good if you cook them), and jelly licked off toast. Besides that he is not eating much and sadly not nursing much either because he gets too frustrated at not being able to breathe and nurse at the same time. We have taken much fewer photos this week than usual, since we have been too busy wiping noses.

On a happier note: As the title mentions, WordPress has informed me that my blog is 1 year old as of today! To celebrate I am including the first photo I ever posted, way back when:

Om nom nom! I have come to eat your laptop!

Om nom nom! I have come to eat your laptop!

Pre-cold fun with bubbles and straws.

Pre-cold fun with bubbles and straws.

We found Daddy's ear buds on a shelf, so I plugged them into my laptop and showed Lewis what they are for.

We found Daddy’s ear buds on a shelf, so I plugged them into my laptop and showed Lewis what they are for.

Baby's new look: Snowman pajamas and pretty beads.

Baby’s new look: Snowman pajamas and pretty beads.

This pretty accurately shows how he has been feeling the past couple days.

This pretty accurately shows how he has been feeling the past couple days.

Colds are not fun.

Colds are not fun.

Painting In The Bath

Lewis has a cold this week, which consists mostly of coughing and a bit of sniffling and of course being more cranky and clingy than usual. He’s gotten quite good recently at playing on his own, keeping himself entertained, etc. but when he’s not feeling well he wants all Mama all the time during the day.

We skipped going to the library this week because I’m sure walking there through the cold would not be good for his cough, plus I wouldn’t want to spread the germs around to the other little ones. This was definitely a good decision since it let us shift lunch and naptime earlier in the day yesterday and he ended up sleeping nearly 4 hours! But, being cooped up inside with a sick toddler is not the most fun, so I have been employing my creativity to keep us busy and entertained. I’m not getting much cleaning and cooking done this week, but that is on the back burner for now while I focus on what my baby needs.

One thing we are keeping busy with is exploring some of Chris and my board games. Obviously Lewis can’t play any of them in the traditional sense yet, but a lot of them have interesting parts and pieces to play with. His favorite so far is “Ninja vs. Ninja” which has several little plastic ninja figures in it and a couple of interesting dice to play with as well. He likes it enough that he has added the word ninja to his vocabulary and now points to the closet and asks for “Dinna. Dinna.” (Or is it “Dinya”? His words are always so hard to put into written form.)

IMG_3220Another activity that has kept us well entertained has been to dump out my jar of buttons, marbles, and other odds and ends for us to explore. Lewis likes finding tiny ones and big ones, looking for blue things, sorting them into a tray and dumping them out, and loading them into Mama’s sweater pockets.

It’s also apparently fun to sit in the bin and stick them up your pant leg:

"I don't have pockets like Mama, I guess I'll stick them in my pants instead."

“I don’t have pockets like Mama, I guess I’ll stick them in my pants instead.”

The buttons and ninjas kept us busy for a good portion of yesterday, but by mid-morning today I could tell we needed something fresh to keep us occupied. Today is a bath day, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to get in some messy play before we got all fresh and clean.

"This is weird, why is there no water in my bath?"

“This is weird, why is there no water in my bath?”

I didn’t feel like doing our usual sit-at-the-table-and-eat-paint, so I decided to bring the whole activity into the tub. I’ve seen a few different blogs suggest the bath as the perfect place for messy play, but we had yet to try it.

I set things up with some squirts of different colored finger paints in a small bin along with a big squirt of “Baby Nighttime Bath.” We got four bottles of baby bath/baby shampoo as various baby shower gifts and are still working through the first bottle, so this seemed like a good use for it! It is lavender scented, so added another sensory element to our play. I put a small splash of water in the bin and then let Lewis get to work exploring.

IMG_3250

He painted his knee a little and the side and bottom of the tub a bit, but then seemed at a loss. I had expected him to go to town with painting his body, but oddly he didn’t seem to want the paint on him besides his first little bit. I then showed him how we could stir the water and other things with a whisk to make some bubbles, which was a little more interesting.

We painted bubbly green painty stuff onto the tub and tiles for a little while longer, and Lewis had fun trying to stir to make more bubbles. After a while he started to show that he was done with this, so I moved the bin under the faucet and filled up the tub, letting the water bubble up the soap in the bin before overflowing into the tub.

IMG_3254We then had a lovely green tinted and bubbly bath to explore! Lewis seemed to like that he had the paintbrushes in the bathtub, just for the novelty of not usually having them there. He had fun splashing and kicking the bubbles and also enjoyed finding his toys hiding under the bubbles. We have only had a “bubble bath” a couple of times, so this was a fun new way to enjoy bath time!

He slept well last night with only one wake up, and is having a nice long nap again today, so I’m hoping recovery will be quick and we will be back to our happy energetic selves soon! I am also quite impressed that he has figured out how to blow his nose (with help holding the tissue, although he attempts it with holding it himself.) His favorite part is to say “blah!” afterwards and throw the barely-used tissue into the garbage. This nose blowing ability is a life saver for us since he has never put up with having the snot sucker thingy used on him, and that always ended with more tears and frustration than it was worth. Hopefully the cold clears up though and he won’t need to use too much of this nose blowing skill!

 

 

Photo Friday

Happy Friday everyone! Here are some more cute Lewie photos to end your week with a smile. Seems we had a busy week together this week. I always think I haven’t taken many photos throughout the week, then I load them onto my laptop, find that there are nearly 150 pictures, and realize that I am more addicted to the camera than I thought! Somehow this happens every week though – I worry that I won’t have “enough” photos right up to the point where I realize there are too many cute ones to choose from! Enjoy!

Trying to organize the closet one day, Lewis and I realized that his giraffe costume from Halloween still fits! What fun to wear it around for a while one day, while collecting a pile of his favorite things - blankets!

Trying to organize the closet one day, Lewis and I realized that his giraffe costume from Halloween still fits! What fun to wear it around for a while one day, while collecting a pile of his favorite things – blankets!

He likes to put letters/mail into the door slot for himself. Then he walks a loop through the apartment/kitchen and comes back to the door to collect his mail. Which he then sticks back in the mail slot.

He likes to put letters/mail into the door slot for himself. Then he walks a loop through the apartment/kitchen and comes back to the door to collect his mail. Which he then sticks back in the mail slot.

We are having lots of fun with flashlights recently. Never a dull moment when you can look at cobwebs under the bed and dressers!

We are having lots of fun with flashlights recently. Never a dull moment when you can look at cobwebs under the bed and dressers!

"Wow, look at all those huge icicles hanging off the roof! I want to eat all of them!"

“Wow, look at all those huge icicles hanging off the roof! I want to eat all of them!”

Hmm looks like we got a bit snowy even though we stayed on the paths. Silly mommy needs to learn that yes, we do always need snow pants!

Hmm looks like we got a bit snowy even though we stayed on the paths. Silly mommy needs to learn that yes, we do always need snow pants!

"Here mom, let me help you get out a band-aid for your finger."

“Here mom, let me help you get out a band-aid for your finger.”

He spotted this in the closet so we took it out and I showed him how he used to lie under it and kick the keys.

He spotted this in the closet so we took it out and I showed him how he used to lie under it and kick the keys.

He likes to join Daddy in the mornings and steal some of his Cheerios while watching the news. Today Dad was already in the shower when we got up, so Lewis requested to sit on the couch in Daddy's spot with his own bowl of Cheerios.

He likes to join Daddy in the mornings and steal some of his Cheerios while watching the news. Today Dad was already in the shower when we got up, so Lewis requested to sit on the couch in Daddy’s spot with his own bowl of Cheerios.

Shape Games For Toddlers

Lewis has been pretty interested in both colors and shapes for a while now, which brings out the preschool teacher in me and the desire to create “games” to help him work on these interests and reinforce his learning of these concepts.

He is able to point to many shapes when asked to find them although doesn’t really have any shape words yet in his vocabulary. If asked what a star is though he makes twinkly hand motions like you would for the song “twinkle twinkle little star.” He can point to many colors as well and has also begun saying a few color words, although rather unclearly and it is hard to type an approximation of his words. Blue is “broo” or “boo” or something similar, green is something close to “dzzz” but not quite that, and orange is some kind of sound in his throat. I guess what is important is that he uses these “words” consistently, so it is all part of his building language.

I’ve made a few games for him to work on these concepts, some quick and impromptu like sorting colored pom-poms onto colored pieces of paper (which he was completely uninterested in) and some with a little more preparation and planning.

The first one I want to share was something I actually made way back in November. We traveled out to spend most of a week at my Aunt and Uncle’s house for Thanksgiving, and before going I decided I wanted some “new” toys/games to help keep Lewis occupied in a new place, but they needed to be things that were easy to pack. I’ve seen a lot of awesome examples of “busy books” for young kids, and also file folder games for older kids, so I decided to basically combine these concepts and make some file folder games for Lewis. I made one with a farm scene and some farm animal cut-outs, one with roads drawn on it and some pictures of cars to drive around, and one with shape matching.

Chris had fun playing with the animals on the farm scene.

Chris had fun playing with the animals on the farm scene.

Alright, that photo has nothing to do with the shape games, but it amuses me since it looks like Chris is sitting there playing by himself. You can see little tip of Lewis’ yellow sock toes at the edge of the photo, standing there thinking about whether he wants to join in with Daddy or just go climb up the staircase again.

Shape matching.

Shape matching.

For the shape game I cut some shapes out of sheets of craft foam, then traced them onto the file folder and colored them in to match. (The rectangle I had to paint with white paint since coloring with white on a manila folder is pretty much useless.) This can be used for independent play, or in a more guided way with me asking Lewis to find/match specific shapes. I made the shapes each a different color as well both to help differentiate them more and make matching a bit easier and also to help reinforce color names at the same time as working on shapes. “Can you find where this blue triangle matches?”, “Which one is the green circle?”, etc. I wrote the shape names by each even though he is nowhere near being able to read (he is just now beginning to show a tiny bit of interest in letters) because it is important for young kids to see print in the environment and be familiar with seeing words and letters, even if they have no idea what they are at first. Even a few months after I made it, this game can still keep Lewis busy for 5 or 10 minutes sometimes when I pull it out, which is a long time in our world!

The second shape game that I came up with is more recent and it is a much more physical game. Gross-motor shape practice.

For Christmas one of Lewis’ aunts gave him a small package of washi tapes (because all toddlers love tape and sticky things!) and I realized one day that these tapes would be great for making patterns or shapes on the floor. I tried it first on the carpets but it didn’t stick very well, so we moved our game in to the kitchen floor. If you don’t have colorful washi tape masking tape works just as well, with the added bonus of actually sticking on carpeted areas.

Lewis finding the triangle.

Lewis finding the triangle.

I stuck mostly with straight-sided shapes since they are easier to create with tape, although I did get brave and make a heart. I tried to make the shapes pretty big and well spaced out because I wanted to the game to involve some gross-muscle movement.

"Can you stomp on the rectangle?"

“Can you stomp on the rectangle?”

I started off by just showing him each shape I had made and naming it, and having him help me identify them. Most of these shapes he knows pretty well, but “diamond” is one we haven’t practiced much and he tends to mix up “triangle” and “rectangle.”

Once we had identified all the shapes, I moved on to the more fun part of the game. I started asking him to do things like “jump on the heart”, “bang on the square”, “sing on the star”, etc. I basically just went with whatever random action came to mind and picked a shape for him to do that on. He loved it! After we played for a bit and had done actions on each shape a few times, I joined in with him. “Look, I am tiptoeing on the triangle!”, “Let’s both dance on the rectangle!” He loved seeing Mommy join in and get playing too.

"Where is that square?"

“Where is that square?”

After a while we added another element by bringing in our shape cut-outs (plus a couple extra that I quickly cut from some construction paper) and doing some shape matching. He is very good at matching and often seems to notice the similarities between things, but he still had fun with this.

We did this activity about a month ago and it is obvious that he enjoyed it and it made an impression on him because he has requested it again since then, bringing both his tapes and his shape cut-outs in to the kitchen floor to show me that we should play with them there.

The tapes held up quite well on the floor and we were able to leave them there 2 or 3 days before the edges started peeling. Then we had fun together pulling them up from the floor – another great way to help develop those little toddler muscles!

Photo Friday

[Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Running a bit late with this Photo Friday post since I was busy baking a cake during nap time, but here it is! Enjoy!] 

Learning to play Skylanders with Daddy.

Learning to play Skylanders with Daddy.

Why cry over spilt milk when you can play with it instead?

Why cry over spilt milk when you can play with it instead?

Wearing his towel just like Daddy after getting out of his bath. He thinks this is the greatest thing ever!

Wearing his towel just like Daddy after getting out of his bath. He thinks this is the greatest thing ever!

Comparing our purple tongues after snacking on some freeze dried blueberries.

Comparing our purple tongues after snacking on some freeze dried blueberries.

Umbrellas are fun!

Umbrellas are fun!

He's been loving wearing some vests recently. He had to have this one on because it had buttons like Mommy's sweater.

He’s been loving wearing some vests recently. He had to have this one on because it had buttons like Mommy’s sweater.

Measuring the snow. (Or just using the ruler as a convenient way to scoop snow up to eat.)

Measuring the snow. (Or just using the ruler as a convenient way to scoop snow up to eat.)

Allergy Friendly Banana Oatmeal Bites

Pretty much from the beginning of when Lewis started eating foods, I have been on a quest. A quest for just the right food/recipe. Something healthy and filling, but easy to grab, easy for a little one to eat, non-messy, portable. Something that could be used for a quick breakfast or a snack, eaten on-the-go either just while playing at home or while out and about. 

There are plenty of pre-packaged baby snacks that fit the bill for this, although the level of healthfulness is debatable with many of them. Since we did Baby Led Weaning with Lewis he never had any purees or anything, and we never got in the habit of buying him those “pouches” that a lot of people use when out and about. For a while our go-to snacks where Cheerios and those Gerber Cereal Puffs, although we quit that habit sometime over the summer. We also found apples/apple slices and freeze dried fruit work pretty well for on-the-go munching. 

This carrot cake bar is pretty good, but make sure you pick it all apart and make a crumbly mess when you eat one!

This carrot cake bar is pretty good, but make sure you pick it all apart and make a crumbly mess when you eat one!

Sprinkled in between giving these fall-backs, I have been trying recipes to find just the right thing for him. I wanted something homemade both for cost reasons (baby food/snacks are expensive!) and it seems so much more healthy and wholesome to know exactly what I am feeding my little one. There are a lot of recipes out there for baby snacks, granola bars, muffins, etc. but most of the ones I tried seemed to miss the mark. 

When he was younger Lewis had a delightful habit of spitting out a lot of his food rather than swallowing it. Cheerios and Puffs both got reliably swallowed, which was part of why we stuck with them, but many of the other things we offered he would decide were too much work and so would partially chew/gum and then spit back out. My family was all greatly entertained by watching him “eat” watermelon in this way over the summer. Thankfully we are past that stage and he now swallows pretty much everything he eats. 

Also, since he does only eat a small amount he isn’t going to eat up a full batch of anything I make, so I need to find recipes that are yummy for me as well since I will be the one eating any “extra.”

There have been a few recipes that we had good success with. Over the summer when zucchini was plentiful I made several batches of these Zucchini, Banana, and Flaxseed Muffins, using only about half as much sugar, which both Lewis and I enjoyed. I have also made some homemade granola bars from my own recipe which were pretty good, although the recipe may need a bit of tweaking before I post it. We tried these Carrot Cake Bars a few weeks ago which were alright but nothing amazing – they were a bit on the bland side and I didn’t really like how the texture of the oats turned out although Lewis seemed fine with them. They definitely could have used more spices, maybe a little sugar/honey and more moisture (maybe some added applesauce?)

No Sugar Banana Oat "Cookies"

No Sugar Banana Oat “Cookies”

Anyway, there is another recent recipe that I tried that actually turned out really good and both Lewis and I enjoyed them for breakfasts and snacks. The original recipe calls them “No Sugar Oatmeal Cookies” and while they are cookie shaped they really don’t have what you would expect for a cookie texture. The flavor was quite good though (maybe could use just a tiny touch more spices) and they made me think of chewy oaty little bites of banana bread. I will definitely be making these again, and plan on playing around with the recipe, maybe trying some with pumpkin in place of the banana. 

They are “no sugar” since all the sweetness comes from the fruit. When I was making them I realized they are also gluten free (if you use gf oats), egg free, and depending on the type of milk you use can also be made dairy free and/or nut free. 

Breakfast of oatmeal "cookies" and plum slices. Lewis recommends picking the raisins out to eat those first, and possibly requesting some extra raisins on the side.

Breakfast of oatmeal “cookies” and plum slices. Lewis recommends picking the raisins out to eat those first, and possibly requesting some extra raisins on the side.

No Sugar Banana Oatmeal Bites:

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 1/3 cup applesauce (I used part applesauce and part oil since I somehow only had a few Tablespoons of applesauce.)
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional, but recommended. Could substitute other types of dried fruit or some chocolate chips.)
  • 1/4 cup milk (Original recipe calls for almond milk, I used whole milk. Use whatever fits your diet/needs.)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (might be good with an additional sprinkle of ginger and nutmeg.)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (175 C) and grease your cookie tray or line with parchment paper. (I didn’t do this and the cookies stuck a bit since they aren’t high in fat like traditional cookies.) Mix all the ingredients and drop by spoonfuls onto cookie tray. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the edges start turning golden brown. Enjoy warm, or store in an air tight container. 

Photo Friday

"I have my own vacuum, but I think it is time to upgrade and use Mommy's big one instead."

“I have my own vacuum, but I think it is time to upgrade and use Mommy’s big one instead.”

He asked me to pull this old easel out of the closet, and has had fun using it for his drawing.  (And also carrying it around the apartment and inspecting how it is put together.)

He asked me to pull this old easel out of the closet, and has had fun using it for his drawing. (And also carrying it around the apartment and inspecting how it is put together.)

Choosing the perfect marker.

Choosing the perfect marker.

My charming little monster.

My charming little monster.

The fine art of letting milk slowly dribble out the corner of your mouth. If you make it look like it's an accident Mommy might not take your cup away right away!

The fine art of letting milk slowly dribble out the corner of your mouth. If you make it look like it’s an accident Mommy might not take your cup away right away!

Laundry basket tunnel.

Laundry basket tunnel.

Going to work with his "lunch box" just like Daddy. He had to put in his keys and ds like Daddy, and other important things like a ball.

Going to work with his “lunch box” just like Daddy. He had to put in his keys and ds like Daddy, and other important things like a ball.

He found a little basket in the closet just the right size to be a chair, and decided to sit there for most of his bedtime stories last night.

He found a little basket in the closet just the right size to be a chair, and decided to sit there for most of his bedtime stories last night.