Saturday, September 27, 2008

Simple, Quick Fun

Last week, in an effort to quiet the late afternoon grumpies, I grabbed a pen and drew smiley faces on several of my daughter's fingertips. Then I drew smiley faces on a few of mine to show her how they talk to each other and to her. It was such a huge hit that she has asked for more finger "puppets" several times. And I know now that it's almost guaranteed to calm her down or cheer her up when crankiness or boredom looms. My Mama used to do it with us all the time, and I'm so glad I remembered the trick!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Word Verification

Yesterday, I saw a post on Permission to Mother about word verification. I had not thought much about it other than how annoying it is to have to do it when I'm commenting on someone else's blog. I do it anyway because I like the interaction. It didn't occur to me that other people would rather just not comment! So to make it easier for everyone, I've changed my settings to NOT have word verification, and instead I will be moderating comments. I would still like the option to filter out spam and scary postings. I hope this makes things easier for everyone. I love receiving comments because it lets me know that I'm not just talking to myself!

Afternoon Dance Party

I am on a quest to lose my baby weight (and by that I'm including the weight gained by eating whatever was available and easy while caring for my baby). This is made more difficult by not having easy access to my favorite exercise programs - walking is difficult when it's hot and there's no shade available (fine for me, but not for the baby) and free weights are nearly impossible with a toddler wrapped around your legs.

I remember my Mama always being fit and strong when I was little. When I was five, I used to go to yoga class with her to babysit my 6 month old brother, who actually spent most of the class draped over her anyway. I think doing some yoga around the house probably would amuse my active girl and I really should try it again soon. I haven't done yoga since I was pregnant.

My current method of exercise though is dancing to whatever music happens through our house. Our resident toddler loves music, and we're often playing cds or singing as we play. I also have a small Ellen Degeneres obsession and have watched her talk show nearly daily since Abigail was about six months old and I sprained both ankles (not a fun thing to have happen with a small baby - although I'm glad she wasn't a toddler at the time). If you don't know, Ellen not only has a 2 minute dance time on her show (which we always dance to) but each time a guest comes on there is a musical introduction too. Everytime she hears the music, Abigail's eyes light up, she stops what she's doing and boogies.

So, that's my new cardio workout. Boogeying down with my baby girl. Wish me luck!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Why Fun Mama?

Last spring, my husband called me to let me know there was a yard sale around the corner from our house and they had toys and baby items. So I bundled up my baby girl and went to check it out. They were selling some of the Playskool endangered species toys that we didn't already have (the chunky ones that roar) and a few pushy-walky toys (like the one with balls in the bubble and they pop when you push it). I was able to get several cool toys for just a few dollars. As I was shopping, the resident preschooler informed me that he was selling lemonade and cookies and I would be expected to buy from him also (as only preschoolers can get away with). When we got home with our new toys, lemonade and cookies, we sat on our porch and watched as a dump truck delivered gravel to the house next door. It was a lot of excitement for a then 14 month old girl who had never had lemonade or seen gravel dumped.

That was the day that I realized that I wanted to provide fun experiences for my daughter whenever possible. I didn't have to buy the lemonade, but it made the child selling it happy. And we didn't have to watch the dump truck. I had plenty of other things to do. But she enjoyed sitting on the porch with me and watching and waving at the driver.

Not long after that, I saw Stacy Julian on Scrapbook Memories (PBS scrapbooking show) and she talked about making the little things special. Like putting sprinkles on your child's yogurt or oatmeal, and spending the extra dollar on character bandages.

I've been stocking up on sprinkles when I find them on clearance, and I picked up a few character bandages of characters that I don't mind (Curious George and Strawberry Shortcake specifically). I try to make sure that we have fun on a regular basis. I don't think that planning to have fun is going to be a bad thing. I believe that fun is an important part of life and I hope to teach my child to find the fun just like my Mama taught me.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Toddler Art group

I have been doing a lot of research on toddlers and encouraging art. I read Young At Art by Susan Striker (the author of the Anti-coloring books) and was surprised by what I learned, such as that scribbling is important to the development of written language and that introducing crayons is less about the color about more about the sensation of drawing. I learned not to expect a particular product when my daughter draws, paints or does any other art. Art at this age is about the experience and that crafts with an expected outcome can actually stunt a child's belief in her own abilities. It's a fascinating book, but pretty dense, so after the first two chapters, I kind of skimmed and hoped I got what I needed to know. (As a reviewer on says, it's also pretty preachy but if you can get past that it's a good book.)

Since I read Young At Art, I've been looking through various blogs about arts and crafting with toddlers and preschoolers. One that I've come to enjoy is The Artful Parent.

One of the most helpful posts I've found on the The Artful Parent is how to start a children's art group. I'm not sure if I could find enough people who would be interested in this kind of playgroup, but I love the idea of having a group of kids and parents working together on art with no expectation of a particular product.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

More Play Food

Just a few more things I'm thinking about in the realm of play food:

Chenille food at Etsy. I love the way these look!

Food made of fabric. I think this is cool, but I'm not sure how a toddler will feel about it. Maybe if the fabric looked closer to the actual food item?

Another felt food find at Cynet Small. I think the fried eggs look so cool.

Does you have any other ideas for homemade play food?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Experiencing the Present Moment

I am taking the Have More Fun class by Stacy Julian at Big Picture Scrapbooking. The theme of the September portion is Being Present. We are doing a daily scrapbook, meaning one page each day with some journaling, a photo and some memorabilia about each day about that day. Stacy suggested that we put aside all other projects during September in order to focus more fully on each moment and to really be present in our lives. I've been learning so many things and I want to try so many new things (doll making and blogging among them), and I really thought that I could do both this month. Here I am at Day 5 though, and I'm realizing that I do need to step back and take some time to have this experience and see what can happen.

So I won't be blogging regularly for the next few weeks. I do have some posts that are scheduled and I may even post my pages or some photos of projects we're doing. I just want to slow down and experience this moment. She won't be this little forever.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Stacy Julian interview at Little Mismatched

I just wanted to let everyone know that Stacy Julian was interviewed by Little Mismatched. Stacy is the founder of Simple Scrapbooks magazine and co-founder of Big Picture Scrapbooking. I love scrapbooking, and I love it far more because of the things I've learned from Stacy. Like it's about the memories not the photos. And that you don't have to have a scrapbook for every year from your life. Chronological scrapbooking is not the only way to do it. And you can scrapbook all your photos and still not scrapbook your life.

Even if you are not a scrapbooker, Stacy has an inspiring philosophy of life. I hope you enjoy the interview.

Safer Play Food

I introduced my baby girl to play food last week. We had a big bag of hand-me-downs from her older cousins, both things they had received new and picked up at yard sales. There's a mix of pretend utensils, cups, plates, pots and pans, and a large quantity of food. Some of the food is regular food, like bananas, waffles, hot dogs, peppers, chocolate milk. And then there's labeled food - as in McDonald's. We have chicken nuggets, pancakes, fries and (my favorite) a hot fudge sundae. We don't go to McDonald's often and I'd rather that she didn't learn to recognize the logo and associate it with her toys. I do go there on occasion (I really do love the hot fudge sundae), but she eats such a wide variety of foods and I see McDonald's as the killer of kids' taste buds. My girl will ONLY eat french fries and ice cream there (she eats a wide variety normally, but that's ALL she will eat there! weird).

My bigger concern with the play food is that she actually "eats" it. This shouldn't surprise me, since she's 19 months old and has always been into chewing her toys. She does realize that she is playing with the food, but she seems to believe that mouthing is part of the play (it is food after all). We're starting to notice paint missing, and since we're not sure of the safety of the items, we've taken some of them away from her.

I know Abigail loves playing kitchen and pretending to eat, so I've been searching out safer alternatives to plastic play food. At first, I thought that wooden food, like the stuff at Magic Cabin, was a perfect replacement, until I realized that it's still painted. Beyond the possibility of lead in the paint, there are other chemicals to consider. I'm now looking into knitted, crocheted, and felt food. The problem with these play foods is that they're fuzzy and she will still put them in her mouth. Perhaps only once though.

My first introduction to felt play food was at Pottery Barn Kids. Abigail played tea party at the kids table that was set up and she put one of the chocolate chip cookies in her mouth. A few weeks later, I saw a segment on Creative Juice (on DIY network) where they were making doll accessories, and some of those accessories were play food. These food items looked doable and fun, but they seem a little old for a young toddler.

Since I’ve been on a quest to find alternative sources of play food over the last week I’ve discovered a whole new world. There are free patterns, patterns for sale, tutorials, play food for sale at Etsy, and even a Flickr site devoted to sharing homemade play food. I’m really excited about trying some of these ideas, and thought I’d share a few of my sources. I’m not sure when I’ll get around to making any of this, but I hope it’s soon.

I just found these at Chasing Cheerios today, and I think they're so cute.

A whole bag of "groceries" by Homemade by Jill

A sugar cookie tutorial on Make and Takes

And two posts from Crunchy Parent: links to other blogs and directions and a discussion of materials to use

I hope these ideas help someone else. Hopefully I'll be able to get busy on some play food soon or find another suitable alternative for my munchy girl.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Jack Johnson

I have had the Curious George soundtrack by Jack Johnson in my car's cd player since early July. We admittedly only go out a few times a week, and I often am listening to an audio book, but that's still a long time to have a single cd playing. When I was in college and sometimes even now I could listen to REM's Automatic For the People for hours and even days on end, so I'm no stranger to musical jags. I was just thinking today though how glad I am that my daughter not only loves music but that the music she finds soothing is also so soothing to me. I've been a Jack Johnson fan for about eight years, and I'm so glad that he not only has a kids' cd but that we both like it so much. I even caught my hubby singing one of the songs this afternoon. So that's what I'm grateful for today. Intergenerational music.

New Look

When I started this blog, I knew nothing about designing a blog, I just knew that I wanted to write. So I checked a few boxes and started writing. Blogger has made some changes in the last few weeks, so I decided I would too. I was starting to feel like the purple made things hard to see, and I love lime green right now. I couldn't find what I was looking for when I started this blog, but right now I think this new color is totally me. So, yes it's still me, just a little fresher. I hope.