my husband=awesome

since the whole visiting the farm thing didn't pan out on Saturday and it was too cold to work in the yard, Mike decided to take on the pantry makeover.  The pantry was a great space but the shelves were short and things would just get lost in the back.  So Mike built and installed rolling shelves, you know, like you do.  Seriously, this guys is so handy and I had no idea. We (and by we I mean Mike) still need to paint them and we'll probably get a new pantry door at some point.  And maybe some cute storage containers.  But it could stay just as is and I'd be happy too.

big helper

goodbye shelves

hello tracks

new shelves

they work

everything back in and organized

so pretty

Hudson's shelf.  Now I won't by graham crackers when I think we're out of them and we're not.

play for toddler {day 8}

We were supposed to go to a farm on Saturday and spend the day outside picking produce and wandering through a corn maze and thoroughly enjoying fall.  And then it snowed.  So we stayed inside and I randomly came up with an activity to do with Hudson to keep us from going crazy.

Mommy & Me: Board Book Dominoes
I stood his books up in a row and then we pushed them over.  He loved it.  He wasn't always patient enough to wait for me to get a bunch in a row.  I think he just loved pushing them over.  The best part of the whole thing was when, later on in the day, he brought me a book and then signed help.  I thought he wanted to read, but then he put it on the floor and tried to stand it up.  He wanted to play dominoes again!!! So we did.

Busy Box: Poker Chips and Wipes/Yogurt Container
For this activity you just need some poker chips and a container of some sort.  I have used a wipes container and I have also cut a slit in a clean yogurt container.  The object is to put them in and then take them out.  Over and over and over again.  It amazes me how something so simple can capture his attention.


play for toddler {day 7}

Mommy and Me: Modeling Clay
Today's activity has been the favorite so far.  I found some all natural modeling clay on clearance at Target (thanks for the tip, Melissa). 

this is the clay i used.  i like it a lot.  no color left on his hands.

I knew I could make my own, but figured it was worth the few extra dollars for the ease.  I put Hudson in his high chair and then got out one of the colors.  He was a bit confused at first and did try to eat it, but I just told him no.  As we were playing, he would sometimes bring it up to his mouth and then look at me and smile. 

I showed him how to squish it and push it against his tray.  He favorite part was that he could rip it.  We played with it for almost 30 minutes.  He would have kept playing, but he was starting to throw it on the floor and I was getting tired of picking it up.  Definitely a success and an activity we will be repeating.

Busy Box: Foam Number Puzzle
One of the easiest things I put in his busy box was a foam number puzzle from the dollar store.  There was a letter one, but the pieces were smaller, so I went with the numbers.  He likes to carry them around and tries to put them in.  Some of the numbers are easier than others for him.  This is also an easy toy to bring along to a friends house. 
similar to this one, but no operation signs, and not $10.


play for a toddler {day 6}

Today was all about following Hudson's lead.  After nap and late lunch, I got ready to sing some songs and dance with him.  Let's just say it didn't go according to plan.

Mommy and Me: Music! Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes; Ring Around the Rosy
I started singing Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes with him, which was more like wresting him than singing.  The kid did not want to join in.  Then we did a few rounds of Ring Around the Rosy, which he seemed to enjoy better.  And he totally got the "all fall down" part.  But then he was pretty adamant that he was going to ride his rocking horse.  Rather than struggle with him, we got out the horse and then I sang some songs about horses while he was riding it.  I figured the real over arching goal is intentional time with him, not necessarily the content. 

Most of the songs and rhymes that I do with him are from the library's Baby Time and Toddler Time.  I use their little rhymes all the time when we're waiting for something or at the grocery store.  I also use them at work with the other kids, even though they sometimes look at me like I'm crazy.

Busy Box: Pool Noodle and Rope
When I needed to start cooking dinner, I pulled out this activity.  Basically, I cut a pool noodle into 2 inch pieces.  Then I took a piece of rope and tied knots at each end.  The goal would be for him to thread the "beads" on.  I think he's still a little too young for this.  He gets the concept and gets the rope right there, but can't quite pull it through.  He still enjoys it though, especially taking them off the rope after I have thread them on.  We'll keep pulling it out so he can get better at it. 

What really kept him busy while I was cooking, though, was the dishwasher.  Seriously, he would play with it all day.  He loves to take the little wheels off the bottom rack and open and close it and pull the rack out.  Of course it's empty when he plays with it, although he's really good at bringing me plastic dishes when I'm putting things away.


play for toddler {day 4 & 5}

Yesterday wasn't the best day around here.  I didn't feel good for most of the day and Hudson missed his nap.  Neither of us were as our best.  We did managed to play for a few minutes together.

Mommy and Me: Climbing on cushions
I took the mattress from his crib and all of the couch cushions and some pillows and made a little "mountain" for him to climb.  He had so much fun.  He also liked that he could easily get on the couches and bounce.


Busy Box: cups and clothespins
We ended up taking a trip to Denver to visit some friends so there wasn't much need for a busy box activity.  Here's one that we played with a few weeks ago.  I got 3 different colored plastic cups and then those clothes pins that don't have the springs.  I colored the ends so that eventually it could be a color matching game, but for now it's a put it in the cup and take it back out again (and sometimes throw them across the room) activity.

Mommy and Me: pouring pasta
Today, our activity together turned into a busy box activity.  I took some pasta that I had gotten for free with coupons and put it in a big bowl.  I gave him another big bowl and some measuring cups and spoons.  It was his first time getting to play with dried pasta so I had to show him how to pick it up in his hands and how to use the measuring cups and spoons to try to move it.  We had lots of fun together.  Of course it was messy, and he did try to eat some at some point, but it was still fun.  He helped me clean it up and the pasta is now in a bag in the pantry labeled "for play only" so we remember not to eat it.  He kept playing with it even after I started making dinner.


play for a toddler {day 3}


The teacher in me came out a bit last night as I was planning our activities for the month.  To help my very frazzled brain, I developed a little template to help me plan.  I assigned each day of the week a category of activity so that we're getting some variety.

Monday-arts & crafts
Tuesday-gross motor
Wednesday-fine motor

Obviously activities cross multiple categories, but it helps me know what I'm focusing on.  And I'm sure my wonderful friend Sarah, who is a speech language pathologist, would be better at categorizing gross and fine motor activities than I am.

Today, we tried coloring with markers.  He really isn't that into it.  He spent most of the time taking the caps on and off the markers and putting them in the box.  We did get one picture colored.

most of the marker ended up on his hand

While I was cutting up some red peppers, I gave him an activity from his busy box.  It was half a paper egg carton and some plastic Easter eggs.  Today, he wasn't that interested in it, but when he's played with it before, he's spent lots of time putting them in and out and opening and closing the eggs.  Thankfully he found some other toys to play with that kept him mostly occupied.


play for a toddler {day 2}


The bubbles have been sitting on the window sill in my kitchen the entire summer.  And I've pulled them out 3 times.  I see them multiple times a day, but I never think to open them up so we can play with them.  That's why I'm doing this month long challenge for myself.  It's my pattern.  I know all these great activities to do, but we never do them because I'm not prepared for it or because I get distracted or because I'm comfortable doing the same 3 things.

As a mom, I've figured out that I need a little more structure and a little more planning.  Nothing too elaborate, because I still believe strongly in the value of free play.  And making a toddler do something he's not interested in is just difficult.  So I've created a little plan for the month, which I'll share more of tomorrow.  For now, here's what we did today.

Mommy (& Daddy) and Me: Bubbles

To say they were a hit would be an understatement.  He loves bubbles.  He tried several times to blow them himself.  He put the wand in his mouth at some point, but quickly learned they weren't so tasty.  We had so much fun and we didn't even have that much time to play with them.  I just loved that it was some intentional time for Hudson and I (and Mike today).

Busy Box Activity:  Magnetic Pom Poms and Muffin Tin

For this activity I bought a muffin tin from the dollar store, although you could just use your own.  I then used tacky glue to glue on some magnets to the extra large pom poms.  This kept him occupied for quite a while when I was cooking dinner.  It took him a bit to figure out how hard to pull to get them out of the muffin cups.


play for a toddler {day 1}


Well here it is.  Day 1.  I already feel better about our time together.  Our first structured activity was to go to the park.  Uh duh!  Why don't we go to the park more often?  Since he will start going outside on the playground at day care this next week, I worked with him on walking on his own on the bark and going up and down from the sidewalk to mulch.  We spent most of the time just playing, but it was so nice to kind of have a goal for our play time.

the park is always more fun with friends

thanks melissa for taking such a cute pic of my kid
Our busy box activity was a button snake.  They're all over the web and super easy to make.  I took a piece of ribbon and sewed a big button on the end.  On the other end I sewed a square of felt as a stopper.  Then I cut a bunch of square pieces of different color felt and cut a slit in the middle as big as the button.

The goal is to thread the squares onto the ribbon.  Hudson loved it.  He can't quite put the squares over the button, but loved taking them off and moving them on the ribbon.

31 days of play for toddlers

{Day 1}
{Day 2}
{Day 3}

So somehow I have a 15 months old.  Ok, I know how it happened, but some days I watch him and wonder where this toddler came from.  He's cute and silly and lots of fun, but most days, exhausting.  I'm finding more and more a desire to be more intentional with him.  Our mornings are busy with swim lessons, library time and work, but that post nap afternoon time kills me.  I never know what to do with him so we usually just end up having some free play time.  It's fine for awhile, but he gets bored and I end up on pinterest and then he's crying.  And don't even get me started on when I try to cook dinner.  Cue little boy clinging to my legs.

So I decided for the month of October I am going to be more intentional with our afternoons.  I'm going to have a plan for the day.  Yes there will still be free play, but I want to have 1 semi-structured activity for us to do together.

I've also created this great tool for those times I need him to be occupied for a little while (cooking dinner).  A busy box.  A box full of activities that are things he can do mostly by himself with just a little supervision from me.

I'm going to try to blog each day about our structured activity and also the busy box activity we used.  The Nester's 31 Days October thing has inspired me and I'm hoping it will keep me accountable.  Although in reality, I'm totally prepared for me to stop blogging this after day three.