October 18, 2016

Toddler Busy Box

Over the summer while I was helping with Vacation Bible School, a former coworker of mine gave Cai a little box filled with crayons, a little car, a pencil sharpener, and a pencil. She had noticed that he liked to draw and color (she was an art teacher, so of'course she noticed) and that I was working hard to keep him busy, and she thought this would help.

Her idea was brilliant! We have tweaked what we keep in the box a few times, and I try to rotate things to keep it fresh, but we keep the box in the diaper bag and use it at restaurants and church. I love it so much, I thought I'd share it, and the contents, with you all.

1. The actual box. I think she bought it at Target. It came with a key which I have actually used to keep Cai from dragging everything out of it at home.

2. Three books from the toddler kids meal at Chick-Fil-A. We love these, and they are the perfect size for the box. Cai likes to look at them, particularly in the car.

3. Crayons. The original gift included nice triangular ones, but Cai has a penchant for peeling an breaking crayons. :/

4. Tiny plush animals. These were a gift from my sister. She got them in the dollhouse section at Hobby Lobby. Cai loves them,and they fit perfectly.

5. A box of raisins.

6. Ninja turtles coloring sheets. These are from a kit that was on clearance at Target. It came with tiny markers, but after'a terrifying church service where I was afraid my clothes and the pew would be covered in blue marker, I switched back to crayons. Regular paper cut into quarters works perfectly too.

7. Plastic animals. Cai loves animals. The pig is from'a dollar store set and the horse is from his Mellissa and Doug horse farm.

8. Little people car.

9. Other little cars. I think these were from a dollar section somewhere. Target maybe? They were potty training prizes.

Everything you see there doea actually fit, but you have to arrange it perfectly in order to close it. I usually don't keep quite this much in it, I wanted to show how much would fit.

Do you have a busy box or bag? What do you keep in it?

August 07, 2016

World Breastfeeding Week

Nothing like waiting until the last minute. I've been meaning to post about breastfeeding all week, and I'm just now getting the chance to sit and type (and it's on my tablet which means the typing is more likely to have errors). Life is a bit crazy here right now, and I hope to post about that soon, but it will have to wait until I can find the time.

I haven't even really planned out what I want to write just that I want to do it. Before I start, let me make it clear that this post is in no way a judgement on mama's who choose not to or who cannot breastfeed. Your choices and your reasons for your choices are yours, not mine or anyone else's. For those who chose not to, own your choice. Those who wanted to and weren't able to, for whatever reason, don't beat yourself up over something that is beyond your control. Own your choices and don't allow others to make you feel guilty about them

So here's my opinion on breastfeeding in a nutshell.

-Breastfeeding is cool. God designed our bodies to create the PERFECT food for our babies.

-Breastfeeding is normal. I think "Breast is best" is a crap line created by formula companies that only creates tension among mothers. Breastfeeding is the biological norm. Formula is awesome for what it is--a substitute for breastmilk. It is not the same, but when a mom chooses or is forced to use it, it provides baby with the nutrition needed and often provides moms with the freedom needed--freedom to work, freedom to sleep, freedom from constant worry over whether you are producing enough, freedom from having to cut everything out of your diet that baby is sensitive to. . . .

-Breastfeeding is free. A huge reason that I'm thankful that I was able to breastfeed is that I didn't have to pay for formula which is expensive. We did have to supplement for our first week, but we were able to use samples.

-Breastfeeding is a cure all. Seriously. Baby is crying? Boob. Baby is hurt? Boob. Baby can't sleep? Boob. Baby is sick? Boob. I don't know how I would have mothered in those early months without my boobs. I lived by the motto, "When in doubt, whip it out."
This is a picture of a morning nursing session with Cai when he was about 10 months old. Gymnurstics.

-Breastfeeding is not talked about enough. I know some of you just read that and snorted in disagreement, but hear me out. We talk about breastfeeding in public and whether or not you should breastfeed, but it ends there. I found I kept my mouth shut sometimes because I didn't want to offend anyone. But if we talked about it and educated each other through experience, I think it would be easier. Easier to get through it. Easier to choose it. Easier to see that you're not the only one who couldn't. Waiting five and a half year to get pregnant allowed me a ton of time to research it, but not everyone thinks to do that. Why should we have to research something that's normal? I was also in a breastfeeding support group on Facebook which helped me tremendously when things were hard. Talking about it more is huge!

-Breastfeeding is not easy. Overall, my experience was not super difficult, but that doesn't mean it's easy. We had to supplement with formula  in the beginning because Cai had jaundice and my milk hadn't come in. We used an SNS which is basically a tube attached to a bottle of formula that you tape to your boob so baby can suckle and receive formula (How many of you knew something like that existed? See, we need to talk about it more!) That was super stressful. Due to my c section, my milk took almost a week to come in, also stressful. When it did come in I dealt with oversupply which was frustrating and often painful. For the first few months, whenever Cai slept really well (which was often back then) I would wake up soaked with milk despite thick breast pads (Bamboobies brand- you need them!) I dealt with a few clogged duct a and mastitis once or twice. I also struggled with anxiety sometimes during nighttime nursing; that really sucked. The worst was nursing aversion. Part of the reason I weaned Cai when I did was because whenever he nursed my skin would crawl and I wanted to throw him. And weaning itself was hard too. And those are just the issues I personally dealt with, not to mention under supply, thrush, tongue and lip ties, nipple pain, teething...)

-Breastfeeding is a relationship. Breastfeeding is more than just food for your child. It's a relationship with your child. This is why I chose to wean; my relationship with my son was more important than feeding him, and I was beginning to resent hI'm every time he wanted to nurse because I hated it (not always, just for that last month or so). Feeding your child the best way you can is important, but so are peace and joy and comfort and rest, and sometimes those things need to trump food to save your relationship with your child. I wanted to let Cai wean on his own, but between nursing aversion and wanting to start fertility treatments again, that didn't happen, and that's okay.

-Breastfeeding is easier with knowledge and support. Research. Join groups. Seek out resources. I recommend the app Timeline of a Breastfed Baby. It helped me tremendously. Www.kellymom.com is another great resource. And the Facebook group I'm in is called Breastfeeding Your Way. Feel free to look it up. If you're thinking about breastfeeding, but aren't sure, ask questions. Look things up. Also, getting in touch with a lactation consultant can majorly help with issues. Unfortunately, many OBGYNs and pediatricians aren't well educated on breastfeeding, but a lactation consultant can answer all sorts of questions and help with almost any issue.

-Breastfeeding is harder for working moms in the US. Because of our lack of maternity leave, most moms who work have to go back to work earlier tan they would like, and although pumps are awesome and a blessing, they don't drain the breast as well as a baby does, causing many women to struggle with supply. If you're struggling,  find help!

So I guess that wasn't much of a nutshell, but like I said, I didn't have time to plan this post ahead of time, I just knew I wanted to write it. Feel free to contact me to ask me questions, or just to talk about breastfeeding or not breastfeeding. : )  

July 11, 2016

Keeping My Toddler Busy: Play Doh

We've entered the world of Play Doh, and Cai loves it. So far we only have one container of blue (thanks to Cai's Aunt Lauren), but I want to try making some soon.
I plunked Cai in his high chair and started by only giving him a bit of the dough. He was a bit tentative at first, but his elephant really enjoyed it.

I let him use a some wooden utensils from his kitchen set with it, and he thought that was great.

 We've played several times since then, and it keeps him busy anywhere from ten to twenty minutes.
If I play with it with him, I have to make lots of snakes.

 And sometimes the snakes kiss.
And hiss...

 And eat Play-Doh apples.
And he only tasted it once or twice :)

July 04, 2016

Keeping My Toddler Busy: Color Sorting

There are a bajillion different ways to do this activity, this is just what we did using what we had on hand. It's one I want to try again when he gets a little bigger too.

Colorful things from around the house- I was sure to grab things that had only one color, so as not to be confusing.
Specific areas for child to sort the different colors- you could use containers or construction paper, but I used pieces of felt because that's what I had one hand.

This activity required a lot of modeling. Cai is already pretty good at identifying, and saying, the color blue, but not so much the others.
I put everything in an empty laundry basket and limited my items to red, orange, yellow, green, and blue.

 Steve and Cai have been working on a similar activity with M&M's, so I thought it might be a fun time to try this one.

More often than not though, Cai got it wrong, haha.

He also preferred to pretend to eat the toy food. (Disclaimer: These pictures are terrible examples of how a cloth diaper should be properly worn. It shouldn't be curling down like that because it causes leaks. I didn't want to stop the activity to fix his diaper though, so we just changed it afterward. Also, our central air is broken which is why he is wearing only a diaper in most of these posts.)

He got really excited when he found blue items!

This didn't keep him busy for very long and it provided me with more toys to put back in their respective places, but it was fun for a little while.

June 27, 2016

Keeping My Toddler Busy: Baking with Mama

I love baking. Lately I've been making cupcakes or muffins for Steve to bring to work with him on Fridays. The general consensus from everyone at his work is that I need to forget the muffins and make only cupcakes, so this time Cai and I made chocolate muffins with chocolate frosting (Which reminds me, what are your favorite combos for cupcakes and frosting? I need some ideas!).
This was really difficult to photograph, safely, so I don't have very many pictures. 

I also don't have one of those cool activity stands because they cost a butt load, so I just watched him very carefully as he sat on the counter.

I made sure to explain to him to keep his fingers out of the mixer, and I also unplugged the toaster because he wanted to turn around and stick his fingers in there.

(Can I just point out my new under-cabinet lighting? Steve and I went to Ikea for Valentine's Day and spent like $50 on it and Steve installed it himself. I love it!)

Basically, I just filled the measuring cups or spoons and helped him pour them in. This is a great opportunity to practice counting, and, with older children, give them the ground work for fractions.
And I completely forgot to take a picture of the results, but they were yummy.

I have many, many memories of baking with my mom, so this is something I was really excited about doing with Cai. In fact, he got to do some baking with Marmie on vacation.
(She's going to kill me for sharing a picture of her in her pjs. They were making biscuits for breakfast)

What are your favorite things to bake or cook with your kids?

June 23, 2016

Keeping My Toddler Busy: Father's Day Key Chain

I spent a total of a dollar on Steve's Father's Day gift. Cai and I were shopping at the Dollar Tree and came across this shrinky dink kit.
It was a sports kit, but it was easy to  just ignore the sports part and do what we wanted with it. I had seen an idea on Pinterest that looked neat, so we went with it. If you've never heard of shrinky dinks, it's basically just plastic paper that you draw on, cut out, and then back for a minute or so in the oven. It shrinks up into a thick hard piece of plastic.
We traced Cai's little hand. Isn't it funny how he always keeps his little pinky bent?

I gave Cai some markers, and he went to town.

I made it a point to give him a variety of colors, but he still gravitated toward the blues.

I then cut it out and poked a hole through it. The whole poking was a little tricky. We then put it on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and baked it in the oven.

It didn't take long for it to shrink up, and Cai enjoyed watching it. He put on his little play pot holder while we did it.

I punched a little star out with a star punch just for fun too. This was the finished result. The kit came with key chains to attach to it. 

Cai was super excited to give it to Steve in bed on Father's Day morning. I didn't take a picture of the gift giving because I chose to just enjoy the moment instead. As a replacement, I thought I'd share my two favorite Father's Day photos.

Steve taught Cai how to use the drill (he was taking our pool down. We're going to try to put a fire pit and seating area there instead, IF we can do VERY inexpensively. I'll keep you updated on that).

And while he worked, Cai ran in the sprinkler for the first time. He actually loved it, contrary to how it looks in this picture! It was a very enjoyable day all around.

June 20, 2016

Keeping My Toddler Busy: Painting

This activity was painting with a purpose. I want to redecorate our main bathroom to be a little more fun and kid friendly, and I wanted some artwork on the wall to go with my ideas. So Cai's job was to create it. 

Paint- I used acrylic craft paint which meant I had to be more careful about him putting his fingers in his mouth, but you could use non toxic paints and finger paints.
Brush- optional. We started out with a foam brush, then switched to fingers
Pallete- I used the back of the lid for the container I keep my paints in. The nice thing about acrylic paint is that it peels off when it's dry.
Canvas- or paper. Hobby Lobby often had sales on canvas. I happened to already have one that I bought a while ago for another project.
Drop cloth: I cut a garbage bag open and laid it on the floor.

We used a little bit of every color.

 Cai started out with a foam brush.

 He very quickly ended up with some on his face.

 I got frustrated with the brush because he basically smeared it all and made brownish green paint, so we switched to using his finger.

I found it worked best to hold the canvas for him and help direct him to the unpainted areas. Of course, I'm planning on using the painting for something specific. If you were just doing this for fun, there would be no need to direct like I did.

I was really glad we did this on a wipeable floor, because at one point he stepped on the canvas and made a footprint on the floor.

 Our finished work.

 Our finished pallet, a work of art itself.
 Our workspace when we were done.
The babe. He had to stop and examine the first two spots of paint he got on himself. He quickly got over that. A bath followed. :)


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