- HB: When we get home, I'll throw the kids in the bath so you can start dinner.
- Colton: NO! DONT THROW US IN THE BATH!
- HB: Yes, you need it.
- Colton: but WE'LL GET HURT! (Sad/scared/fairly worried)
I guess that's logical.
- Colton: can I have some cold water please?
- Me: sure. (Pour him freezing cold tap water)
- Colton: thanks. (Takes a sip) You didn't put ice in it.
- Melissa: no I didn't.
- Colton: why didn't you put ice in it?
- Melissa: because it's already freezing cold.
- Colton: well could you put ice in it?
- Me: why do you need ice if it's freezing cold?
- Colton: because... I dunno, guess I want it for no reason.
Two weeks ago this weather was really getting me down. But then last week we got a teeny tiny little blurt of warm weather, and then a couple days after that we were hit with another FUHREEEEZING day and it’s remained in the cold temps ever since. It takes a lot to get through long weeks of indoor play on end. You have to have stamina and get creative. I take the kids to a lot of classes— Sensory Art, Music, Preschool Alternative, Toddler Yoga, and a Gym class, but even with all those things we are still left with tons of downtime at home. In addition to lots of arts & crafts and whatnot, some of our favorite indoor activities this weather has been “baby board games”. They are seriously ah-mazing. Not only are they fun, attention grabbing, and time consuming, but they are brain-stimulating. Here are some of our favorites.
Also filed under…
Best of: Board Games!!
(I haven’t done a Best Of in a while, so I thought this could dual purpose here as a few of our homerun gifts this year from Christmas.)
I always try to get toys that as much educational as they are fun, and so a big goal was to really load up on games this year. Colton has taken much interest in them as well, and they’re perfect because they serve as brain stimulation, group play, and quiet time, all which are huge bonuses in my book.
"…Oh there’s Mr Sun!" A game for Addison— This hide & seek game that teaches object placement (ie - on top of, under, inside of) and direction taking for babies— "Where’s the Sun? He’s behind the chair! Go find him!… There’s the Sun! You found him!" It’s so awesome, and Addi LOOOOVES it. SO so cute. The sun comes with these little cards with directions on where to hide the sun… on your head, under the chair, behind the pillow… and then they store away in a hidden velcro’d pouch on the sun’s underside. I absolutely find this game darling. It teaches good listing and direction following, and gives her the ability to do some independent search and discover work. Plus my three year old can participate, as he’s the one who runs around hiding it all over, pleased with his involvement, and proud when she finds it— so they are both very into it. Cute cute cute.
This was fun right off the bat and we couldn’t stop playing it. I also love it because it has beautiful big pieces of wooden fruit, so it’s lovely to look at. You take turns to roll the dice and pick the corresponding fruit to put in the basket until all the fruit has been harvested… unless you roll the crow enough times and it eventually reaches the gate off the path and eats the fruit from your basket! It’s a cooperative game, so there’s a collective win/loss situation, although since my son loves when the bird eats the fruit, it’s pretty much a win/win for him. We make caw-caw noises and the bird noms all the fruit and it’s really silly to him. Great for taking turns and learning the basic idea of game play, also helps teach colors for younger ones.
This is a group shared game with a spinner. You lay out a picnic cloth and everyone gets a plate and needs to spin until they are able to pick out pieces to have an entire meal, complete with drink, napkin, utensils, main course, fruit, veggie, and a dessert. If you land on ants, then they eat one of your pieces and you have to put it back. Although this is a “lose”, it is actually my son’s favorite part because we use one of his fake ant toys (fun) and it comes and nom nom noms up his food and he laughs and laughs.
Super awesome first card game. This one involves a bit more patience and active thinking for game play, but turned out to be super fun. He has to decide what “strategy” to choose— who he wants to ask for cards from, which color he wants to ask about, remembering which he’s already asked for, paying attention to which colors has been selected. It’s really very in depth when you think about it. And he loves when he can say GO FISH! Or goes “OH RATS!” when someone tells him to Go Fish, which is equally fun for him. Also color matching such fun vibrant colors is a bonus (identifying colors for younger ones).
This one is not *quite* as educational as the others probably, but still promotes learning, as they need to listen and follow instructions, use their imagination, and share if they’re playing with others (although they can play this alone as well). And let me tell you, this thing is a MASSIVE hit, with both my 3yr old and 1yr old. It’s a talking wand that tells the kids something silly to do and then plays corresponding music while they do it. For instance: Waddle like a duck; Bounce like a ball, Roar like a lion, Slither like a snake, Run like a cheetah; Glide like an ice skater; Strum like a rock star; Spin like a merry go round. There’s like 60 different things. Randomly it’ll say FREEZE! Or Let’s Dance while it plays silly music. The ends light up and flash, but not obnoxiously, in a perfectly fun magical way (and I’m anti “battery operated toy”, as most of you know). It’s really active and helps them get out a lot of energy, which is awesome. And it’s perfect for cooperative play and independent play. They’ve played with it several times a day since they got it on Christmas.
Lastly, puzzles are also an amazing quite time brain stimulator. Addi does Melissa & Doug type puzzles where you fit the object into something, and Colton has graduated to real puzzles and has gotten VERY into them! So far he has only tried 24 piece ones, but he can now do them with little to no assistance. Sometimes he needs a hint, or gets stuck and gets frustrated, but he really enjoys figuring them out.
—Addison cuddling on the couch in the morning, holding my face, inches from my nose just looking at me, and says “pretty”.
This little one did her first pee in the potty this morning!
She has been interested in the potty the last couple weeks, and keeps asking if she could sit on the potty. The variations are usually something like: “pee. pee! potty.” Or “Potty, sit.” Or, “My turn!” After Colton goes. I love it. So I’ve been obliging. It’s usually just a whole lot of sitting and standing, the general fascination with it, and satisfaction of doing what Colton’s doing. But this morning after she awoke with a partially dry diaper, she asked to sit on it, and then peed!! Her initial reaction was surprise and she went, “Uh-oh!” And tried to stand up, but after me and Colton cheered, she was pleased and gave us a high five. The rest of the morning she refused her diaper and insisted on being nakey and kept requesting to sit on it.
Looks like potty training is in our near future.
This insanely sweet chunky nugget is my heart and soul. Well, half of it. Or a third. My wild boy and solid as a rock man are my other thirds. Anyhow. She is a SPUNKY little spark (and check out those rolls still! 4 months walking and she’s still a chub o’ delight!). She keeps up with her crazy brother very, very well. Running up and down our apartment squealing, shoving him aside if he gets in her way. She’s amazing though, truly. I figured since I failed her final monthly updates during her first year, I should do a short recap on what she’s up to right now.
Since she’s hit all her physical development milestones for now*— walking, squatting, kicking, throwing, pushing, pulling, climbing, running— the one thing left for her to continue working on right now is speaking. And man, her vocab has picked up incredible speed these last months. She was at 80 words back in January, but has easily flown past 125 or so— I literally cannot keep count.
Last month she started pairing two words together and now she’s onto sets of three!
First it started with the simple “HI - someone”, “Bye - someone” (hi bella, bye daddy, etc), but then quickly moved on to a wider variety of stuff like, “go outside!”. Sometimes she simply strings words into the same breathe that don’t necessarily form a complete ‘sentence’, but do make a complete thought/action. Like, “Baby! Pet?!” (Our awesome friend and neighbor Audra over at The Baker Chick just had her first baby, Hugo, and she loves my kids and is so sweet to them, kindly offering them to kiss and stroke her baby all the time, and boy do they LOVE it. Addi’s favorite thing now is to pet babies she sees).
She also is starting to draw her own connections between vocabulary words, which is fascinating to me, such as, “Water. Wet.” or “Dirt. Yuck.” I love it. And just last week she began with three word sets, starting very appropriately with, “I DID IT!” with her arms raised high above her head after she got a shaped block into the right hole. It’s my favorite. She must have picked up that phrase on her own, between me praising her and Colton during proud moments, because we have never prompted her with saying sometime like that. It was amazingly cute.
My other favorite thing is that for the past two months she has been saying please and thank you very consistently. “Ice please,” “Milk please,” etc. I hand her a cup a teeny ice cubes and she exclaims, “Thanks!” Colton hands her a toy, “Thanks!” It’s really just the best. She is now starting to translate words into new contexts as well. For example (this may be a bit strange, for those much less crunchy than me), about a month ago after she would nurse on one side, she would tap my other side and say “please! please!” (after having taught her to say please instead of just yelling “MILK!” at me), so I finally taught her to say, “other side” now instead (so she’ll say, “Milk please! Other side!” So the other day my sister was in town visiting, carrying her, and bouncing and dancing with her and she was cracking up and she said, “other side!” so she would switch her to the other hip. Then just today when I was putting on her socks, after the first was on, she held up her other foot and exclaimed, “Other side!” I thought it was so great.
In any event, her communication skills are getting really awesome. I was impressed the other day when she wanted a bite of something we had, but was particular about how she wanted it done— she started by saying, “Bite,” and then when I brought it to her face she said, “No. Piece.” —it was sandwich. So I broke off a smaller portion and offered it and then she said, “Take. Down.” and took it from my hands and got off my lap and walked off eating it. So it seems she’s pretty much be able to tell me whatever she wants and needs. Sometimes when she can’t verbalize it she’ll simply take my hand, say, “Walk,” and usher me over to whatever it is. Or she’ll ask, “This?” so she can learn the word for it, which I so love.
It’s astounding to watch her and Colton interact now. They can legitimately go back and forth, him asking her a question, her answering (do you want to play X? yes/no. etc), or her prompting him with something (asking for “help,” offering him a toy- “here y’go,” asking for a toy- “please!”, or pleading to “share”). It’s the sweetest. Oh, and another thing that’s the sweetest… her telling me her baby has a “poo! poo!” and asking me to take her baby’s clothes “off”. So ya. I’m changing baby doll diapers now. …which brings me to my asterisk point…
*Up to bat soon is potty training! She’s already been telling me, “Pee!” and will run to the bathroom and have me take her diaper off and will sit down for a while and look down waiting for it. So far nothing has come out, but I do so enjoy watching her point down at herself every time and say “wee wee”, and then after I tell her she doesn’t have a wee wee, she says “bum bum”. Yes, bum bum. (I have yet to bring myself to come up with a word besides this for describing her girl parts, so I’ve defaulted to just that she simply doesn’t have boy parts). Today I was astounded… after Colton announced he needed to poo at one point, she immediately exclaimed, “Poo!”, dropped whatever toy she had in her hand, and squatted. I just laughed and asked if she wanted to go to the bathroom to sit on the potty as well, and she said, ‘yes’, and ran behind us, but I thought she was just messing around, following big brother’s actions, and left her outside the bathroom while I assisted Colton onto the big potty. I figured he may freak if she sat on the little potty while he was doing his business anyway (the door must be closed shut when he’s in there and then he calls for us after for assistance). As soon as I emerged from placing him on the toilet, Addi looked at me, still squatting, and now grunting, saying “poo.” All this was about a 20 second time. She really was pooing! I was shocked. So I asked if she still wanted to sit on the potty. She said yes and turned back toward the bathroom immediately. So I helped her diaper off and sat her down on it, but I think the deed was already done and she had filled her diaper. She sat there for a good while longer though trying. All day her diaper stayed dry and she kept asking to use the potty. “Pee. Potty!”… but nothing would come out. She loved it though. Eventually she had an accident after she took a spill and was crying— maybe she lost her conscience about it for a moment, but it seemed to startle her when it went running down her leg; stopped her crying dead in its tracks. I’m excited to see her learn to use the potty soon. She really is growing so fast now.
Currently obsessed with steal cut oats right now. It’s the most creamy nutty delicious thing. (Wow that does not sound right at all). So many things can be added to it, it makes it so interesting and fresh every time you have it. Raisins and molasses; peanut butter and chocolate bits; bananas and brown sugar; this morning was strawberries and honey with almond slices. I also love how healthy it is for you (I even give it an extra kick with ground flax seed and uncooked chia seeds, which gives it some nice crunch to tiny bits of it).
One of my closest and dearest friends just had her first baby last week. Meet sweet little Baby Esmé. She’s just perfect! I cannot wait to watch her grow up and am so, SO happy for them. She also had the fastest first birth ever, and I’m insanely jealous and pleased for her.
As I was preparing an email to send to a select list for helping out with bringing them meals, I was reminded of this article I read once long ago on rules for visiting new moms and thought I’d share. It’s pretty funny, but also pretty accurate— for the most part, it’s just nice to see friends and show off your new little creation, but it’s extra nice if those friends go a step further with their kindness during their visit.
The Rules for Visiting a New Mom
You know the scene: A close girlfriend has her long-awaited new baby and you feel the need to hightail it to her house to hold that little bundle of joy. In fact, it takes all of your self-control to not show up at the hospital and interrupt the precious few hours that she’ll have a staff doting on her around the clock. Either it’s because you love that new baby smell or you think Mama is going to have hurt feelings if you don’t show interest in her newest family member, but regardless, you are going to hold that baby. This is what we do as women, yes?
Au contraire, mon amie. I distinctly remember being two months into motherhood and realizing that I didn’t need or want any more girlfriends stopping by and over-stimulating my colicky, sensitive child with their scary foreign faces, inappropriately loud voices, or refusal to stop bouncing him for even a few minutes. Give the baby a break from the bouncing, ladies. Do you think I want him to get used to that? No, I don’t, because I’m tired and I don’t want to have to bounce him myself.
I assure you that I would not have been hurt had no one come to visit me at all. Do you think I made this baby by myself? In fact, I did not. There is a man who lives here to keep me company in the evenings. During the day I was too tired, overwhelmed, and covered in spit-up to care about loneliness, and having company just meant that I’d have to squeeze my fat ass into something that didn’t fit and vacuum the dog hair off the floor.
Before I became a mother I was one of those girlfriends who showed up just to hold your baby. I hereby publicly apologize to all of the new mommies that I did this to. No mother I know was sitting around, desperately waiting for me to appear at her house empty-handed and hold her baby. I am no Baby Whisperer, believe me.
There was one instance that I arrived at a girlfriend’s house for no other reason than to hold her new baby and then I sat down and ate the dinner that her husband had been preparing for them. Me! I did not just have a baby! Why was I eating her food? Shameful.
Now I’m a mother and realize that if you want to hold that babe in the first four months before the yummy new baby smell wears off, then there are some rules governing that situation…
• Bring food that you know they’ll like. This means a take-out lunch from a higher-end restaurant and bring enough food so that Daddy has something to eat when he gets home. Chicken, fish, steak, or something that fits their special diet. Don’t be stingy; buy enough for leftovers. Don’t make something on your own unless it actually tastes good. It’s best to spend a little money and treat them to something nice since it’s going to be a long, long time before they go to a restaurant again. I hate to say it, but if you can’t afford to buy her a decent lunch, then you need to consider whether you can really afford to hold this baby.
• Don’t eat her food. Does Mama have some pulled pork or a rack of short ribs simmering in the crock-pot when you arrive? Don’t you dare accept any of it if she offers. She is being polite and you are not actually a guest. You are an intruder. Remember: Everything that you don’t eat is leftovers for them tomorrow, so don’t eat anything at all. You can have some water if you get it yourself. You need to be on high alert to recognize fake offers of food/gifts/favors and so on from this woman; she is likely out of her mind from sleep deprivation and doesn’t know what she’s saying, but she will still remember your greediness years later.
One of my friends left a homemade chicken casserole and fresh chocolate chip cookies at our front door and didn’t even need to come inside. The hallmark of a truly excellent friend is one who will knock quietly, put the food on the front porch, then get in the car and drive away.
• Bring a gift, even if you already gave a baby shower gift. Ask Mama what she needs or check her registry for lingering purchases. Don’t get your panties in a bunch about this one; it can be something as simple as a case of pacifiers or replacement pump pieces– things that only cost a few bucks. Nobody ever said that a gift had to be a surprise in order to be good. When in doubt, ask what diapers they use and bring those. If you buy the cheapest diapers you can find that are imported from Mexico, she’ll be dealing with scratchy leaky diapers and cursing your name at 4am.
• Snap Away. If you’re a semi-pro photographer, bring your camera and your most flattering lens. Don’t try to sell her the portraits later. Send them for free.
• No summer dresses in winter. Don’t bring size-inappropriate-for-the-season clothing that suits your taste and not theirs. Babies grow fast. Use your brain.
• Don’t bring decorative kick-knacks. As much fun as you might think it is, no mother wants you to decorate her new baby nursery. Decorating the nursery is strictly relegated to mom and dad and you can keep your over-sized stuffed animals, picture frames, and inspirational quotes out of it. Nobody wants something extra to dust around when they have a new baby. Don’t make Mama waste a stamp graciously thanking you for some random thing you dug up at Tuesday Morning that she never wanted in the first place.
• Make yourself useful. Is your new-mother friend one of those controlling types who doesn’t want anyone helping with her housework? Your friend needs to get over it because in about 8 months that baby is going to be mobile and her days of being in control of her surroundings are officially a thing of the past.
• Do the dishes. If the kitchen sink is full of dishes, turn on the water, rinse them off, and start loading them up in the dishwasher. Load them smart because you know how much we hate it when the dishwasher is loaded wrong. Don’t halfheartedly ask Mama if maybe you can help out in some way because she’s going to say no even though she means “God, yes, please someone help me for once.” Just do it.
• Or the laundry. Look around and spy a pile of clean clothes that needs to be folded? Do you have two working hands? Fold the laundry, even the underwear.
• Be that friend. One of my friends not only brought food and a gift, but she called from the drugstore to see if I needed anything (indeed, I did need nursing pads for those leaky boobs no one warned me about) and started putting away all of the odds and ends that belonged in the baby’s closet that I couldn’t reach because of my c-section. When she asked what she could do it wasn’t really a question as much as it was a statement and request for orders.
Another girlfriend came over with her husband for an afternoon. He sat in a chair and rocked the baby while she cleaned my kitchen spotless, including shining up the stainless steel of the refrigerator. What did I do? I took a bath and washed and dried my hair for the first time in a week. You know when your hair gets so dirty that the roots hurt? That was my hair. I had an entire hour to myself where I wasn’t listening for the baby to cry for the first time since becoming a mother two months prior. When I tried to check on the baby in the living room she whispered, “Get out of here. He can smell your milk.”
• But not THAT friend. I can honestly say that there were a few visitors during that time of my life who had me thinking, “I’m being held hostage by this tiny person who just threw up in my eyes and you didn’t even bring me anything?” Don’t be that friend. Learn from me, the reformed do-nothing baby holder. Last summer when a friend had a new baby, I brought a small gift and lunch whenever I went to see her because I knew she felt so overwhelmed. These days I don’t even give birthday presents without asking Mama what the little one needs, or if my gift idea is alright with her.
If you’ve been a blatant do-nothing baby holder in the past, fear not. Make a mental note to buy the child a special gift for their next birthday party and rest easy knowing that at some point, your day of having vomit in your eyes will come and you will find yourself wondering what the hell these baby-holding friends are doing in your house.
Party > Dressing. Fact.
- Colton: I don't know what to do mommy.
- Me: Hm. how about we go pick out our clothes for the day and get dressed?
- Colton: that's not a fun thing.
- Me: ha. That's not fun? well what do you want to do? Do you want to go out?
- Colton: um... Ya I want to go to a party.
- Me: a party?!
- Colton: ya, one with cake.
- Me: makes sense.
Need. To. Blog.
- Colton, mumbling: ...I'm a big brother.
- Me: what?
- Colton: nothing. I was talking to myself.
- Me: oh. Ha. Did you say something about being a big brother?
- Colton: ya.
- Me: why?
- Colton: because I love Addi.