Friday, January 28, 2011

Finger Painting

Today we decided that it was a good day to finger paint! Finger painting is often a very messy albeit fun sensory experience for toddlers. To alleviate some of the clean up I put JJ in the bathtub so that he could explore the goopey paint to his hearts content.
At only 13.5 months old he is still obsessed with putting everything into his mouth so I made his finger paint as digestable as possible. Here is the recipe.

  • Plain flour
  • Water
  • Food dye

Add a little flour and water to a bowl until you have the consistancy you want. To make it smooth use a whisk to eliminate lumps. Then seperate as many times as you want and stir in food coloring

We started with a bowl of purple and a bowl of blue paint. However JJ was mostly just insterested in putting all the blue paint into the purple paint.

I then put some of the paint on the wall of the tub and he really enjoyed flicking it up onto the wall and slapping at it. I think he liked the extra wet smacking sound that was created in addition to  the familiar hollow thumping sound that is made as he hits the side of the tub during bath time. 

I also lay down 2 pieces of paper in the tub and wrote the letter J on each. I let JJ paint these so we could preserve his masterpiece. 


First I would like to point out that JJ has never been an avid reader. In fact he is quite the opposite. When he sees me pulling out a book to read he will actually run in the other direction.
I refuse to force him to become interested, so I usually sit down by myself and read one of his books aloud and act like I am enjoying it a lot. I am hoping that he will eventually wander over and see what is so exciting. Thus far, this has failed. Often he will just stare at me from the corner of the room looking at me like I have just sprouted two heads.
So when recently, as part of his new bedtime procrastination, JJ started asking me to read him 'maw'. I jumped on the chance to engage him in several of my favourite books.

These are the books that JJ has really been enjoying this week. 

Going to Sleep on the Farm
Wendy Cheyette Lewison and Juan Wijangaard

This beautifully illustrated bedtime story is one that JJ loves. He is really into playing with his farm and his farm animals, so he can really relate to the pictures and the sounds as I read along. The text is simple and repetitive without being silly and nonsensical. It is a great lulling read aloud story. 

 Quangle Wangle's Hat
Edward Lear and Janet Stevens

I have no qualms in admitting that I am a huge Edward Lear fan. When JJ was a baby I would spend many hours just reading him Edward Lear poems. They are lilting to read and they are just so much fun! JJ used to be entranced. He would happily snuggle and just listen. That was until he figured out being mobile was much more fun. We haven't read any Edward Lear for a very long time. Then when we were at the library I picked up the Quangle Wangle's Hat. JJ was instantly enarmoured with it. He might possibly be his favourite book right now. He loves the vivid illustrations and will now happily sit and read this book to me and himself. He even asks for it. He calls the book Quee! 

First Rhymes and First Songs
Ill. Jane Swift

I have been in love with these books for years. I love how sweet and captivating the illustrations are. I love how the rhymes and songs are often shortened so that young children don't lose interest. I love that between both books you can teach your child pretty much all the essential nursery rhymes. James has only now just started to like these books. He is mostly interested in turning the pages now. I highly recommend these books to anyone looking for that perfect collection of Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes. They are perfect board books for babies. As your child gets older you could switch to a more comprehensive book that would have the rhymes in their entirety. 

Itsy Bitsy Spider
Iza Trapani

I have read several Iza Trapani books and not a single one has disappointed me yet. This book keeps James interested because I am able to sing the entire book to the tune of Itsy Bitsy Spider. We also like to play a game by searching for the spider on each page. 

My First Farm Board Book
DK Publishing

Have I mentioned how much JJ is into farm animals? Well I think that is why this board book by DK is much more popular than any of the other books in this series. He loves the noises I make for the tractors and he also once again loves to hear the noises that the animals make. Oh and lest I forget to mention, the book it mighty tasty too. 


Recently JJ has been enthralled by his shape-o. He brings it to me at least once every waking hour so that I can shake it, twist it and remove the shapes. He then proceeds to chew on them, then with some assistance as to their placement he puts them all back in again. Then he wanders off for a while, only to come back and do it all over again. 
If you note in the bottom left picture, he looks very unhappy. JJ in fact is sick with a belly bug and tired. He should be going to bed, but rather than getting some much needed rest he is procrastinating and bringing me the shape-o for one last play of the day. 
He also did it while multi-tasking. He was constantly checking my laptop to see if Grandma was on skype. 


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Pea and Ham Soup
  • 3 cups of chopped and precooked ham
  • 3 sticks of celery sliced
  • 3 carrots peeled and sliced
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 16oz bag of dry split peas
  • 6 cups of water

Wash and sort through split peas. Add all ingredients to a crock pot with 6 cups of water. Cook on high for 1 hour then on low for 8-10 hours. Stir several times a day. Serve chunky or blend with a blender. 

Peaches and Cream
  • 1 peach
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla yogurt
Puree or dice peaches, add yogurt and whip.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

10 Toy Rotation

We have recently started a rotating toys system for JJ. I have found that when he has too many toys available to him he is overwealmed and it makes him fussy. He can never decide on what to play with so he just throws everything all around the room, wreaking havoc and playing with nothing. This just belittles my efforts to teach him respect and responsibility for things. With fewer toys it has been easier to keep them organised, and makes bed time clean up a more enjoyable chore. I am also able to model appropriate play, as opposed to throwing things everywhere.

I wanted to be able to provide JJ with a varierty of toys that offer something in all ranges of development. I also let JJ choose most of the toys from his toy bin. Needless to say.... JJ is a typical boy and he opted for the noisy toys. 

So here are this weeks toys.

Fisher and Price Farm

This toy was JJ's Christmas present from Santa. It was an amazing find, $3.99 from our local thrift store. It includes several animals, a tractor, farmer, fences and more.  We use the farm to learn about animals and their sounds.  It also encourages pretend play. Right now JJ is really into pretending the animals can fly because he loves to pick them up and throw them.

 Fisher and Price Drop and Roar Dinosaur

Technically it is a dinosaur but we always call it the dragon. It seems more magical that way doesn't it? This is another amazing find. $6 at a consignment sale. This toy has been a lot of fun for us. We have had it for a while. We used this toy to teach JJ to put balls into holes. Now he mostly likes to swing the pendulum in the dragon's belly. 

Leapfrog Lulu the spider

I don't think that I could explain how much JJ loves Lulu. She had been hidden away in his toy bin for a while to make way for other toys. As soon as he saw her he was so excited and he promptly pulled her out and started tapping on her belly to make her sing the alphabet song.  For the record Lulu is the only thing allowed to sing the alphabet song. When I try to sing it JJ covers his ears and goes and searches for Lulu. He also has another leapfrog toy that plays the song and he likes it well enough; but as soon as it sings 'Lulu's song' JJ gets mad and knocks it over.  JJ constantly spends the day going over to Lulu and hitting her belly to make her sing. He now also loves to lie down and cuddle Lulu. He has not taken to any special lovey yet, no stuffed animal, no blankey; but he loves his Lulu. It is just a bonus that she sings and displays the letters.

 Baby Einstein Blocks

A Christmas gift from a friend that I wish we had many months ago. These blocks are great. They have different textures on each side that we talk about. They are easy for a baby to grab and they are just the right size for JJ to stack. We just started playing with these blocks this week and JJ has already been able to select the red block. Upon request, he went and picked up the red block to hand to his Grandma who was skypeing to us on my laptop at the time. At first I thought it was a fluke, however he was able to repeat a similar request when Daddy wanted the red block the next day. So needless to say, these blocks have been a great tool in learning colors. 


I remember spending many hours playing with a shape-o just like this when I was a child. When I saw one online I decided that I HAD to get one for JJ.  However they cost in excess of $20. I started looking on ebay and I found a single auction that had it listed at a very low start price, so I bid $3 thinking that I would never get it. A week later I got a message that I had won a shape-o! For $3! JJ also selected the shape-o from the toy bin; I suspect because it is an incredibly noisy toy and he loves to roll it around and shake it. Today however he was really into wanting to do shapes. In fact he didn't want to go to bed and he wanted to stay up, and play shapes. (I am suspecting that I have a bed procrastinator on my hands here). He did really well. At some point he was able to get all the shapes into the holes without me guiding him, on the condition that I told him which hole to use. He also did it while multi-tasking. He was constantly checking my laptop to see if Grandma was on skype.   


Also a Christmas gift from a friend. Another noisy toy and another selection of JJ's. I never could really tell what he thought about this toy. He liked it when we pushed it down to make it pop; and though he tried a few times half heartedly he could never do it himself. Then yesterday the clumsy boy fell and landed on the toy, and in anger he started smacking at the top of it with just enough force to make it pop. Now he can pop it at will. 

Fisher and Price Train and Dump Truck

The train was a Christmas gift from us and the truck was a gift from a friend. James chose the truck and I chose the train from the bin. JJ has become a typical little boy. He loves to play with cars, trucks and trains. He loves to make nosies and make them crash. What more need be said? 

Basic Red Bouncy Ball

A friend had this ball at her house and it is small and light and bouncy. Of course JJ fell in love with it. He loved to carry it around everywhere, throw it, kick it, bounce it. A great gross motor skill toy. My mum and I searched for a replica ball that would be a much loved first birthday present. After going to several stores and only finding denser or larger balls we were at an empass. Instead we made a deal; I bought 2 bigger Spiderman balls for my friend's sons and traded for the perfect little red ball. Totally worth it! JJ was happy and the boys were happy.

The 'Mad Mat'

Lastly a toy for social development. This is a re-purposed toy. It is part of the door jumper that we bought when JJ was younger. He hated that jumper.  However he has always been fascinated by the crunchy mat under it that plays music. I used to lay him on it when he started to crawl, then let him walk across it when he started walking. It always amused and distracted him. Now I am reusing it as his 'mad mat'. JJ is in full fledged toddlerhood now; which means he is having meltdowns for various reasons. Mostly it is when he is denied something that he can't have; such as the cord to my laptop; and it makes him so mad. I believe in legitimizing toddlers emotions rather than downplaying them. So I tell him it is okay to be mad. I tell him "JJ is mad" then I proceed to stomp my feet to indicate anger. Then I have him emulate me. We have recently been sending JJ to his room when these meltdowns happen. That is where the 'mad mat' comes into play. I tell him that when he is mad he can go and stomp on his 'mad mat'.  This has a dual purpose. First it gives him an outlet for his anger; letting him know an appropriate way and place to vent his frustrations. Also the mat still works like a charm in amusing and distracting him as it did when he was younger. Once he starts stomping on the crinkly mat and music starts to play he quickly comes out of his foul mood and enjoys dancing instead. 

Whipped Yams and Steak
  • 1 yam/sweet potato
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • Pat of butter
  • Steak
Cook the yam/sweet potato until soft, add milk and butter. Whip with a whisk or beaters. Mince steak with a blender and add to the whipped yams.

Dusted Kiwi Fruit
  • 1 Kiwi Fruit
  • 1 teaspoon of wheat germ
  • 1 teaspoon of flax seed

Dice kiwi fruit and place in container with lid. Add wheat germ and flax seed. Put the lid on the container and shake until the kiwi fruit is evenly coated.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie
  • 1 can of cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can of cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 cups of cooked shredded chicken (I broil chicken breasts in the oven 15 minutes each side before shredding.)
  • 2 cups of frozen classic veggies defrosted
  • 1 tablespoon of corn starch
  • 2 pie shells
  • Pepper
  • Paprika

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
    Mix all ingredients into a bowl then add to first pie crust
    Place the second pie crust on top and pierce it with a knife several times
    Cook in oven for 45 minutes

Tropical Yogurt
  • 1/4 cup of pureed pineapple
  • 1 mashed banana
  • 1/2 cup of vanilla yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon of wheat germ
  • 1 tablespoon of flax seed
Mix and serve chilled