Photo Friday

Hello again everyone! Are we ready for a three day weekend? Chris’ work has calmed down a bit and he is back to his regular working hours, but it will still be nice to have him home for an extra day.

Last weekend was a busy one for us with Niskaday (photos presumably to be posted in a separate post if I ever get around to it) and then a visit from friends Sat-Sun. We went mini golfing together Sunday then out for a tasty lunch. Lewis was excited to go golfing but once we got there he discovered that the actual golfing part was rather boring and there were much more interesting things like a water fountain to watch, bugs to hunt for under rocks, a play area, and ice cream!

I am nearly 38 weeks pregnant and definitely feeling the effects. I get quite worn out if I am on my feet for any length of time, so we have been doing lots of at-home activities all week and not straying too far away. There is still plenty of fun to keep us busy though!

This mini golf course is great - so many rocks to hunt for bugs underneath!

This mini golf course is great – so many rocks to hunt for bugs underneath!

He was mesmerized by the fountain.

He was mesmerized by the fountain.

Family photo/belly documentation.

Family photo/belly documentation.

Mmmm. This is where it's at. We'll leave those other people to play boring golf in the sun while we hang out here enjoying this delicious ice cream.

Mmmm. This is where it’s at. We’ll leave those other people to play boring golf in the sun while we hang out here enjoying this delicious ice cream.

Shaving cream, apparently, is the most fun if you spread it all over your entire body. (I offered to him to take his shirt off but he didn't want it on his belly or skin, just his clothes.)

Shaving cream, apparently, is the most fun if you spread it all over your entire body. (I offered to him to take his shirt off but he didn’t want it on his belly or skin, just his clothes.)

Fun with foam stickers he discovered in our art supplies.

Fun with foam stickers he discovered in our art supplies.

He took two of the biggest "foot" stickers and stuck them on the bottoms of his own feet. This was clearly extremely hilarious.

He took two of the biggest “foot” stickers and stuck them on the bottoms of his own feet. This was clearly extremely hilarious.

I don't remember what he said it was, but he was very proud to have built this so tall! I love his technique or upside-down block building. (And what's with so many of my photos being weirdly off center?)

I don’t remember what he said it was, but he was very proud to have built this so tall! I love his technique or upside-down block building. (And what’s with so many of my photos being weirdly off center?)

He loooves playing video games of any sort. He couldn't wait for the tablet to charge to play, he needed to use it right away once he decided it was game time! Here he is totally engrossed with either Endless Alphabet or Endless Reader. He loves both and has learned a ton about letters and letter sounds from them.

He loooves playing video games of any sort. He couldn’t wait for the tablet to charge to play, he needed to use it right away once he decided it was game time! Here he is totally engrossed with either Endless Alphabet or Endless Reader. He loves both and has learned a ton about letters and letter sounds from them.

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Photo Friday

Happy Friday again everyone! Our lovely spring weather has taken a bit of a turn this week with rain off and on for a few days and chilly temperatures yesterday and today. We’ve even had a few snow flurries! We’ve still managed to get outside a bit each day but it is less enticing with this weather. Lewis’ focus when playing outside has shifted from digging in the mud to looking under rocks and clumps of dirt/grass that the plows dug up in a hunt for worms. We also conducted a worm rescue mission one day when we went out to puddle splash and Lewis noticed all the worms in puddles and on the pavement. He was very focused on collecting any worm that was still wiggling and bringing it safely back to the grass/dirt. Today while we were out he was telling the robins not to eat any worms because the worms are his friends.

Since we’ve been a bit more cooped up inside this week we’ve been keeping busy with some art and sensory play. We’ve played with rice in the sensory bin, blew bubbles, painted, colored, and tried out a new playdoh recipe. It looks like the weather will be warming up a bit again this weekend, so we are looking forward to the chance to get back outside and burn off a little more of the endless toddler energy! (Bonus: I can send Lewis outside with daddy while I find somewhere comfortable to sit and put my feet up. I’m in week 33 of this pregnancy and starting to feel rather whale-like.)

We played at the elementary school playground last weekend and Lewis discovered a new love of the giant twisty slide!

We played at the elementary school playground last weekend and Lewis discovered a new love of the giant twisty slide!

He's also getting really good at climbing, but starts to get a bit nervous once he feels like he's high up and hasn't fully mastered the confidence of climbing back down again.

He’s also getting really good at climbing, but starts to get a bit nervous once he feels like he’s high up and hasn’t fully mastered the confidence of climbing back down again.

We blew up a few balloons and Lewis had a blast running and chasing with them and seeing Daddy try to juggle them.

We blew up a few balloons and Lewis had a blast running and chasing with them and seeing Daddy try to juggle them.

Tired out after so much playing! Time for a brief quiet break on the couch.

Tired out after so much playing! Time for a brief quiet break on the couch.

Did I mention we have a "big boy" now?! Last weekend we moved his bed out of our bedroom and into a room of his own. He has been doing absolutely fantastic sleeping in his own room all week!

Did I mention we have a “big boy” now?! Last weekend we moved his bed out of our bedroom and into a room of his own. He has been doing absolutely fantastic sleeping in his own room all week!

"There's blood all over my hand. I'm a zombie!"

“There’s blood all over my hand. I’m a zombie!”

Dry cornstarch has a really interesting texture. He liked that it made a squeaking sort of sound when he squeezed it in his hand.

Dry cornstarch has a really interesting texture. He liked that it made a squeaking sort of sound when he squeezed it in his hand.

Dinos and playdoh: entertainment for hours!

Dinos and playdoh: entertainment for hours!

Blowing a big mound of frothy bubbles in a little dish of bubble solution.

Blowing a big mound of frothy bubbles in a little dish of bubble solution.

 

Photo Friday

Happy Friday everyone! I just glanced out the window and noticed some snow coming down, but it’s ok because tomorrow will be warm and melt it all! The weather this week has been alright but not awesome. Fairly cloudy and windy and chilly, but not full on winter frigidity. We’ve still managed to get out most every day, but usually haven’t wanted to stay out in the wind for super long and have needed some nice warming drinks when we come back in. Lewis’ favorites are hot cocoa or warm milk with a little honey, vanilla, and cinnamon added. Mommy prefers chai or other tea, and when I offered some to Lewis he had to explain to me that “tea not a treat, Mommy!”

We had a bit of a rough start to the week since Lewis was hit with a tummy bug over the weekend. Nothing too severe, but he was fairly uncomfortable and unhappy and wanted lots of snuggles and down time. Once we got past that we’ve been enjoying a pretty busy week full of lots of Lewis-led learning and activities.

Shaving cream play day 1. A popsicle stick became some sort of puppet/ghost/monster.

Shaving cream play day 1. A popsicle stick became some sort of puppet/ghost/monster.

He had so much fun with the shaving cream he requested it again the next day. This time he didn't really want any toys for it, he just dug his hands right in and his messy hands became monsters/airplanes/people/creatures and most anything else you can imagine!

He had so much fun with the shaving cream he requested it again the next day. This time he didn’t really want any toys for it, he just dug his hands right in and his messy hands became monsters/airplanes/people/creatures and most anything else you can imagine!

After a snack of peanuts one day he suggested we make our own peanut butter. Headphones were required to block out the noise after we decided that he couldn't push the button with his feet while covering his ears with his hands.

After a snack of peanuts one day he suggested we make our own peanut butter. Headphones were required to block out the noise after we decided that he couldn’t push the button with his feet while covering his ears with his hands.

Our beautiful and yummy jar of mixed nut butter. We were short on peanuts so I just got out all our nuts and Lewis put together a specialty mix including peanuts, walnuts, pecans, almonds, and sunflower seeds! We also added a pinch of salt, 1 T honey, and 2 T olive oil.

Our beautiful and yummy jar of mixed nut butter. We were short on peanuts so I just got out all our nuts and Lewis put together a specialty mix including peanuts, walnuts, pecans, almonds, and sunflower seeds! We also added a pinch of salt, 1 T honey, and 2 T olive oil.

Making playdoh monsters. Lewis' favorite was this puppet creation he made with a popsicle stick. (Thanks for the idea goes to http://craftsonsea.co.uk/monster-play-dough-invitation-play/ , discovered through Pinterest).

Making playdoh monsters. Lewis’ favorite was this puppet creation he made with a popsicle stick. (Thanks for the idea goes to http://craftsonsea.co.uk/monster-play-dough-invitation-play/ , discovered through Pinterest).

Lewis "feeding" one of Mommy's monster creations.

Lewis “feeding” one of Mommy’s monster creations.

Black and white art exploration with charcoal.

Black and white art exploration with charcoal.

He had fun using different pressure to make lighter and darker marks, and of course smudging the charcoal around the paper!

He had fun using different pressure to make lighter and darker marks, and of course smudging the charcoal around the paper!

He's reached the stage of finding "treasures" while we are out playing and walking. Today's find: a long pink ribbon that fluttered in the wind!

He’s reached the stage of finding “treasures” while we are out playing and walking. Today’s find: a long pink ribbon that fluttered in the wind!

Photo Friday

Hello blog land and happy Friday! Actually, I’m a little amazed that it’s Friday already. This week has flown by due to Chris being off work on Monday and only working a half day Wednesday. (Although Wednesday probably felt like the longest day of the week since Lewis was sick and miserable all day and hardly napped…)

Last week Lewis and I were lucky enough to get to go visit my family in VT for the week, while Daddy unfortunately had to stay here and work as normal. He drove out to meet us on Saturday and spent one night there before we all headed back home on Sunday. Besides seeing his Grandma and Grandpa, Lewis also got to spend time with three of his aunties while we were in VT. And two cats! He had a fun trip and didn’t seem bothered at all to be traveling again or to be away from Daddy, but he was very excited when we got home on Sunday and he realized we were back in our own space! That is probably all the traveling we will be doing for a while now, and our next few visits to anywhere will just be for long weekends, not a week or longer like these past couple trips have been.

Christmas stocking #2! When Grandpa and Auntie Anna came to pick us up the brought along our stockings and a few extra presents from everyone in VT. Lewis zeroed right in on the bags of gifts almost as soon as they got here!

Christmas stocking #2! When Grandpa and Auntie Anna came to pick us up the brought along our stockings and a few extra presents from everyone in VT. Lewis zeroed right in on the bags of gifts almost as soon as they got here!

Making some tasty Buckeye cookies. This is typical of how Lewis and I cook together: I do the work and he helpfully samples all the yummiest ingredients.

Making some tasty Buckeye cookies. This is typical of how Lewis and I cook together: I do the work and he helpfully samples all the yummiest ingredients.

That face? That's him yelling at me not to take his picture. He's becoming less and less tolerant of photo taking recently.

That face? That’s him yelling at me not to take his picture. He’s becoming less and less tolerant of photo taking recently.

My mom and one of my beautiful sisters. <3

My mom and one of my beautiful sisters. ❤

Best present of the year: Play doh! And he was lucky enough to get some from both sides of the family!

Best present of the year: Play doh! And he was lucky enough to get some from both sides of the family!

My poor sick little babe, fast asleep in my arms on Wednesday after struggling to stay asleep for his nap in his bed.

My poor sick little babe, fast asleep in my arms on Wednesday after struggling to stay asleep for his nap in his bed.

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!

 

 

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

More fun with playdough.

More fun with playdough.

Hard at work painting.

Hard at work painting.

My little artist.

My little artist.

Playing with the tapes Auntie Chrissy gave him.

Playing with the tapes Auntie Chrissy gave him.

Dress-up fun with hats and scarves!

Dress-up fun with hats and scarves!

"Welcome to my fort."

“Welcome to my fort.”

This is a semi-permanent fixture in our living room. We have to move it so Daddy can sit at the table for dinner. The baby gate isn't always there, but Lewis has been requesting it as a "door" for his fort.

This is a semi-permanent fixture in our living room. We have to move it so Daddy can sit at the table for dinner. The baby gate isn’t always there, but Lewis has been requesting it as a “door” for his fort.

"Fixing" his toy. We love tools! The real one works better than the toy one, but both are pretty cool.

“Fixing” his toy. We love tools! The real one works better than the toy one, but both are pretty cool.