January 24, 2015

Entertaining a Toddler Indoors


 We've all been there during the cold winter months - days upon days stuck inside trying to keep our children happy, entertained and busy.  And it can be a hard task that requires energy and creativity when often both those things are severely lacking in our lives.  It can be tempting to turn on Frozen for the one billionth time - just me? - but I've come to realize that that is often just a temporary fix that ends up hurting me more in the long run.  I end up with a whiny, lethargic, mischievous little girl who desperately needs to channel her energy in fun and challenging ways.  Like I said, it's not always easy and takes some prep and planning but I find that these activities energize us all and help us end our days with laughter and smiles.  But I'm only human so we haven't cut out Frozen completely - sometimes that is exactly what is needed - cuddles on the couch.

Here are a few of our go to activities to help us through these winter days.  Most of these probably already exist on Pinterest because it is the best and worst tool a mother can possess containing everything we could ever need to be the most perfectly effortless mothers our children want - hah.  In any case do with these what you want.  (Sorry about the quality of the photos - they are mostly iPhone pics.)

BODY TRACING

This was a favorite in our house for several days.  We have quite the collection of little Ella's that I can not bring myself to throw away.  It was also a very easy activity that required little of my help.  Not that I am trying to get out of playing with my daughter but an activity like this allows me to tackle a household chore or two.

Supplies:  Roll of paper
                 Crayons, markers, etc.

Directions:  Simply roll out a length of paper, have your child lay down and trace him or her.  Then let them have fun coloring it in.  The first time Ella and I did this I spent some time with her going through body parts.  It was a great little anatomy lesson.



Do you like Ella's painted nails?  That was her idea.  She was pretty excited about them.





TREASURE HUNT (with a cooking adventure)

Another favorite of Ella's.  She talks about this one a lot but it isn't as easy or quick so I save it for my most desperate moments when I also have the time to plan ahead.  After the first time though, there are ways to do it quickly and easily.

Supplies:  Paper & Pens 
                 Tape
                 Blankets & Furniture
                 Treasure or Prize

Directions:  While Ella was napping one day I made a little map full of adventures for her to follow so she could find a fun treasure. I also then recreated the map in our home to give her a little help with the imaginative play and get her moving. 


Ella had to jump from stone to stone over the alligator lagoon, crawl through the tunnel in the mountain, ride down the waterfall and so on.





Using painters tape I made stepping stones and I pushed our dining room table over and covered it in blankets for a tunnel.



The stairs to our basement were transformed into a waterfall with a few blue blankets and the wild jungle was filled with Ella's stuffed animals.  She had to walk through them without letting any of them "bite" her.  If she bumped into one that was a bite.  And then X marks the spot.  She had to dig - err sweep - for her treasure.  Of course she thought the legos were the prize and kept holding them up and excitedly shouting, "LEGOS!  Thank you mommy."


The real prize though were gold nuggets in the form of yummy, homemade pretzels.  Pretzels she had helped me make that morning - which leads me to activity #3.


 BAKING OR COOKING TOGETHER

Somedays call for a sweet treat.  And while it is so much easier, faster and cleaner for me to just tackle this on my own during nap time it can be a fun activity to do with your children.  Especially this pretzel recipe: Soft Pretzel Twists


Instead of making twists we made our own shapes and a few nuggets.  I let Ella have her own piece of dough to shape and mold too.  I think she ate most of it though.




POST OFFICE

Ella may have been a little young to fully understand this activity.  I was trying to introduce Ella to the postal system while having her send letters to loved ones.  I tried having her dictate notes to people, which she did - kind of, but I don't think she really understood that they would be able to read them.  She did have fun decorating the letters though and she loved putting the envelopes in the mailbox.  I think I will try again in a few months and see if something clicks.  Next time I am also going to put pre-stamped envelopes in our cards and ask for people to write back to Ella.  She would get a kick out that.  This is also the perfect activity for Valentine's Day which is just around the corner  - the perfect excuse to send some love in the mail.

Supplies:  Envelopes
                 Stamps
                 Paper
                 Things to decorate the letters

Directions:  It's pretty simple, write a letter or draw a picture for a loved one and then help your child address and stamp envelope and put it in the mail.




Ella preferred the stickers and Griffin preferred the crayons.


Then Griffin moved on to email because he is all about efficiency and 
Ella and I carried on with stuffing and decorating our envelopes because we like pretty things.


And then I let Ella drop them into the mailbox for the mailman to give to our loved ones.
Can't wait to do this again with our Valentines!


 INDOOR BOWLING

Kids like a little destruction and a little destruction is good for them.  Just not the kind that destroys your home.  So when you can't send the kids outside to let out those destructive tendencies it is best to create a controlled activity with just enough destruction.  Bowling seems to be the perfect solution for a two year old.

Supplies:  Balls
                 Items to knock down (soda bottles, cups, paper towels, etc.)

Directions:  It's pretty easy.  I collect our various balls from around the house and objects that are tall and skinny and good for knocking over.  Some of our easy favorites are paper towel rolls, plastic or paper cups, 2 liter soda bottles, and cereal boxes.  The larger the pins the larger the ball we use to knock them down.  The smaller the pins the more challenge you give your child.





We are still working on our aim and in the mean time we may resort to using our foot - directly.


Hope this gives you some inspiration and a few ideas to try with your little ones.

January 20, 2015

Chevron: still going strong




I love a good chevron but I have to admit that initially I really didn't think the trend was going to last this long.  I'm really glad it has though.  Above are a few of my favorite chevron things, including my very own chevron baby hat pattern.


It looks even cuter on a sweet baby.



December 29, 2014

Christmas 2014

I can't believe that Christmas has already come and gone.  We even have already taken down all of our decorations.  Sniff. Sniff.  At least we are left with a lot of great memories celebrating with family and friends.  And this was our favorite Christmas to date.  I anticipate we will say that every year as the kids grow.

This year we spent Christmas Eve with my in-laws.  Christmas Eve morning we headed over there in our PJ's for breakfast and gifts.  We had been prepping Ella for days on what to expect this Christmas so she woke up shouting "Christmas Time!"  Which she still shouts every morning. Wishful thinking Ella.


We came home for a bit to attempt our naps and then went back to Grandma and Grandpa Keith's for a big Christmas Eve celebration with great grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins etc. Below is a pic of the original Fyvie, Great Grandpa and the newest Fyvie, Griffin.  Also known as Fyvie 1 and Fyvie 4.


Even though it was super late when we got home we took a few minutes to set out cookies and milk for Santa and some carrots for the reindeer.  Unfortunately all I had was a bag of little carrot slices - sorry reindeer.  Ella thought they would still love them.


Brandon and I were so excited for Christmas morning, we hardly slept.  Ella was so exhausted from Christmas Eve she slept until 9:30 and Griffin was up from 4-6 screaming so he eventually fell back asleep and I woke him up when Ella got up.  I had to, I was so excited for Christmas morning.  It was just the four of us and so perfect.  I loved watching Ella's reaction when she saw the tree with all her presents.  She understood that Santa had visited and kept telling us that he brought her presents.  Eventually she learned that he also brought presents for everyone else but that took a minute since she also thought it was her birthday.  That took some explaining.  It didn't help that we kept telling her it was Jesus's birthday.  Life can be so confusing when you're two.  And Griffin, well he just wanted the wrapping paper.



Midday we headed to my parents to celebrate with them.  I love that both our families are in town.  Less travel and more family time.  Ella picked up right where she left off - unwrapping gifts.


Ella thought the gifts made a great seat when she had to quickly jump on her computer to "work". 



We spent the rest of the day at my parents eating, relaxing, playing games and enjoying our new gifts - in our PJ's of course.  

It is always so sad when Christmas comes to an end but I am always left reminded of how blessed we are to have ALL our family nearby, healthy and together to celebrate the birth of our Lord.
Hope you all had a joyous Christmas too!
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