Easy Hot Glued Felt Book

This was a whole lot of fun! Caleb has been really into matching dice with numbers, spelling his name, and working on letters. The one problem is how much paper we were going through on activities like the ones below, so I wanted to create something more permanent that could be done over and over with him instead.

I had seen felt books many times, but here’s a little secret… I can NOT sew. At all. I have tried, but it’s just not one of my skills. Give me a hot glue gun though, and I’ll do my best! So I ordered a pack of small felt squares off of amazon (it was something like 40 squares for $10, but I would buy two packs in the future because I ran though most of it entirely too fast, especially big colors like red and yellow), bought some velcro and hot glue from my local hardware store, and went at it. 1

I really liked the idea of him starting at the beginning of the book by spelling his name and dressing himself up. I used a cookie cutter to get the pieces of the body and clothing. A little velcro on each piece, a sharpie face, and he was good to go.2

This was Caleb’s favorite page! He loved counting the dots to match with the numbers. Caleb is currently (haha, yeah it’s been at least a year) obsessed with dice, so this one was a big win. 3

Puzzles! Caleb’s been super into puzzles, and he loves trains, so I figured this would be a great activity for him. It’s also interesting with the circles to help him with spatial reasoning. Learning the difference between big, medium, and small works really well with shapes that are the same. 4

And finally, the alphabet. Caleb loves letters. He really wants to read, and he knows all of his letters, and we’re working on letter sounds. But, for some reason, he just has a real love for the individual letters. So I made him a matching game so he could match lower case to upper case letters. He loves it, and we can play with it by taking turns as well.

 

I hope you guys get ideas from this, and if you make anything like this or have ideas that I could make for Caleb (or Baby Jace!) please send them my way!

Thank you for reading… YOU ARE LOVED!

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Toddler Science: Baking Soda and Vinegar

Best. Thing. Ever.

A plate of baking soda (I used about a quarter box) and four little containers of vinegar mixed with food dye. I gave Caleb an eye dropper, and he went crazy. He mixed colors, watched the reactions, saw how the parts that had already reacted didn’t react again, and then at the end, I let him dump it on our (messy) table and play in it. Not only did he enjoy the science part of it, and seeing what would happen (as well as talking about the colors and testing his own questions/hypothesis), but the feeling was almost like a sandy mud so tactile wise it was a great sensory activity. I don’t have a lot more to say, but I hope you guys try this super easy activity and enjoy how clean this mixture will also make whichever surface you use this on!

YOU ARE LOVED

Allergy Free Gingerbread House

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Caleb is SO excited for Christmas. SO EXCITED. All he talks about is Santa, Christmas, Snow, and everything that goes along with it all. Today I thought I’d love to make a Gingerbread House with him. He’s been very into houses (He saw the American Girl’s new doll house and now wants every house he sees), and I figured it would be a good way to combine his interests.

However, I had a list of reasons we couldn’t actually make a gingerbread house today. We don’t have any gingerbread on hand/a kit (nor the money to buy one). Now, we could always make our own… but gosh I hate the feeling of ginger bread dough. I love baking, I love making things from scratch, but I hate the feeling of that dough so much. I just can’t bring myself to make it from scratch anymore. Plus, Caleb and I have both been dealing with a lot of allergies and I didn’t want to jinx our progress by putting some sugar (or corn syrup, aka the thing I think we’ve been reacting to) into our bodies.

So I had to get creative. I looked up and saw a bag hanging from our window. Yeah, I know that’s weird, but it’s up there to be out of reach. The bag contained pompoms, and this idea popped into my head. I grabbed some cardboard and cut out a house pattern. Hot glued it together, and called Caleb in. He was so excited to make a house. I had him pick each pompom and where it would go, then I hot glued it. He asked for a door, and boom we had a “gingerbread” house that he could actually play with.

Once he got it down and was playing with it, he kept saying, “I’m so excited!” It’s been an hour now and he is STILL playing with the house. Nothing better than DIYing a toy your kid really likes/wanted.

Happy Holidays!
You are Loved!

Quality Screen Time: Is Not Bad, Good Enough?

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Alrighty y’all… I’ve got a confession to make. When I get home from a long day of work, I love to enjoy some television. However, with an almost three year old our viewing pleasure is met with something made for, you guessed it, almost three year olds. Let’s be clear, I do not object to this one bit. As a teenager I would watch these shows while I did homework or crocheted, because it’s a relaxing thing to watch and great background noise for a cool down time. The problem, is I’ve become lax on putting quality of these shows over how much my child enjoys them.

Don’t get me wrong, Caleb hasn’t been watching anything “bad.” Jake and the Neverland Pirates, PJ Masks, and some other “kid” shows… nothing really bad right? Well, sadly he’s picked up some less than desirable behaviors from them. From Jake he’s learned about stabbing people and that it hurts, but still has been stabbing me with things, because that’s what a pirate does. From other shows he’s learning to tease other kids, aka he’s got a serious case of nana nana boo… Now are these things the end of the world? No, not really. But, with so many quality shows out there that teach him to treat his friends kindly and educate him when I’m taking a five second break from doing so, why not just lead him to those shows instead?

Which is what led me to putting a ban on all shows besides Signing Time/The Tree Schoolers, Daniel Tiger, Curious George, and the occasional (because he LOVES it) episode of Paw Patrol. Daniel Tiger shows both him and I how to deal with different emotions and his friends. It gives me songs and saying to help him through big emotions, and because he’s seen how they work in the show, they work in real life too. “Grown Ups Come Back” saved us when he started preschool last year. “When you’re feeling mad, like you want to roar…” saves us on a daily bases when he’s getting frustrated. It might take a few rounds but he settles right down. Signing time has helped him learn all of his letters, 140+ signs, colors, and so much more. Curious George helps children learn to be scientists and question everything around them in order to learn about life. Paw Patrol at the very least teaches new words, teamwork, and how people (or pups) are all different.

Caleb is a big fan of the shows I’m letting him watch, in fact when I put on Tigers last night for the first time in probably six months, he was so beyond excited. He kept cheering and thanking me for Tigers. It was as though he was getting to see a friend. This morning, while we were on the bus to my work/his daycare, I asked what he would like for dinner. He told me he wanted a, “Tiger Cake!” So, that’s what he got tonight (see picture above). I’m happy to see him remembering the things that he learned from this incredible show, and hope to see an improvement in his behavior with a lack of negative role models in his life.

What shows do you like for your littles to watch, and why?

Remember, YOU ARE LOVED!

Expectations Bring Disappointment

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Today Caleb and I had a play group to go to. It’s one we used to go to every other week, but it usually wasn’t at the park with an entire daycare full of kids running around playing. For a split second, my expectation for him was to sit with the group on that parachute you see in the background. What on Earth was I thinking!? My child LOVES other kids, he loves the park, and he’s never been a fan of circle time. That split second was over, and him and I went off to play on the play equipment.

Sitting in the circle he started to cry. I can only imagine what was going through his sweet little head. “Why is mama punishing me? I just want to play!?” “But mama, why can all those other kids play, and I can’t?” “Mom, I just want to go play with these new friends!”

Well of course! How on Earth could I expect my two year old to sit, listen to instructions, and ignore that all the other kids are playing at a place he usually loves. My expectation ruined the fun for him, even if only for a minute. My expectation made me, just for a split second, frustrated that he wouldn’t conform to my will. No way. That’s madness.

This kind of thing happens a lot though. We go to the grocery store, it takes me an hour to shop, and I expect him to sit in the stroller quietly… HAHA! That’s hilarious right? I have to change my expectations and prepare for the realities. I bring snacks and toys, we sing silly songs, I get him involved… BECAUSE HE IS TWO AND THIS IS NORMAL CHILDHOOD BEHAVIOR! We go for a walk longer than five minutes. Do I expect him to hold my hand and comply to where I want to go the whole time at my exact speed? No way! I slow it down, I let him point out all the things around him, and sometimes I even let him walk a few steps ahead of me, because I trust him to not run off, and know I’ll be able to run with him even if he does.

I see parents at restaurants that spend the whole time yelling at their kids for one reason or another… “Well kids never learn if you don’t make them.” But what if what you’re expecting them to learn is just plain unrealistic? Sitting still is not something kids are meant to do till they are seven or older. Kids are meant to run around, stretch, and play! One moment parents are telling their kids to get out and move, the next they expect silence and still bodies. How did we get to these crazy expectations being normal to everyone around? Why is it that if kids don’t comply to these insane ideals they are labeled bad? Labeled as less than the kids who somehow do indeed comply? What a shame that all is…

Just take a deep breath parents. Your kids aren’t bad, they are just kids! Change your expectations and you’ll see that too soon enough.

YOU ARE LOVED

 

Still a Good Mom…

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When I started this blog, I was so sure I’d be a perfect mom. I mean really, the original name of the blog was something like, “Becoming a Young Mom, and How I Did it Right.” Barf! Am I right? It quickly became “How I Did it Peacefully,” because right is a very subjective word, and I mess up all the time. ALL THE TIME. I tried for a long time to still put on a facade. I wanted the world to think I was a super mom. Perfect house, perfect kid, perfect put together life… Well I’m here to tell you, it just isn’t so.

I get angry sometimes. Caleb will be extra clingy for one reason or another, and every hair on my body stands on end. I might even yell. I might even lock myself in the bathroom for five minutes while he cries, because I need five minutes where no one is touching me; poking, prodding, squeezing… But, most of the time I’m not. Most of the time I feel like having this small little boy around me 24/7 is the most awesome blessing that has ever been given to me. Sometimes I’m tired. Sometimes I put the TV on all day long and I just lay on the couch, because the idea of doing a craft or having a conversation exhausts me past my breaking point. TV all day or a mean mom? I’ll go for the TV every time. But, most of the time I’m so happy to take Caleb to the park, play dates, do the newest cool kid craft, or play make believe. Most of the time I don’t ever want him to leave my side.

This is one of the hardest things in the world for me to admit. 99% of the time I honestly don’t feel like I need a break. 99% of the time I really think I’m doing okay. Then that 1% where my nerves are just fried, I wish someone, well someone like his Mimi because I’m neurotic and really don’t trust many people with him, would come get him just for a night. He’s spent maybe five nights away from me since he was born. Maybe ten times he’s gone with her for a day. That 1% of me isn’t a regular thing, and yet I still feel so much guilt about it… but why?

Don’t even get me started on the house. This week we had kind of an inspection. Not on our house from our landlord, but he’s trying to sell the house so the state inspection people had to come and measure stuff. I took three days cleaning the house. Twenty loads of laundry, seven loads of dishes, a full bottle of Windex, and an emptying of the vacuum five times later, our home was presentable. While I was putting away the clothes I ask Corey in exasperation, “How is it that I did all of these things AND went to school when I was younger?” He looked at me and laughed then responded, “You didn’t have Caleb.” I mean, I get the kitchen clean, and every toy is pulled out in the living room. I fold the clothes, turn my back, and the pile has become something to play in. I’m honestly not even mad, in fact I’ve accepted it, but when my house is a disaster (think dishes from a week ago and mysterious sticky spot on the kitchen floor), I’ve been home all day, and I’m still exhausted at the end of the night I do feel really guilty… but why?

This morning I woke up and my house was essentially still clean. The living room has some toys on it. I asked myself if I wanted to pick them up and decided to sit down and watch a movie while Caleb was still sleeping instead. I started to think about all of the things I’m doing wrong. I though about how I lose my patience, or I don’t always make the healthiest foods, or how when his doctor asked us how much milk he drinks, I had no freaking clue. But, I looked around at the fun art on the walls. I looked at the pictures of us together. I looked at his toys and thought about how much I love watching his imagination at work. I walked in and watched him sleeping next to his daddy. He is strong, healthy, and loved. He doesn’t go without. He has at least one close friend, and he has all the family he’ll ever need. He isn’t afraid when I life my hand that he’ll be hit, because we never hit him. He doesn’t have to worry about eating quickly or hoarding food, because we never let him go without. His body is respected. I do everything in my power to raise him peacefully. 99% of the time I succeed, so why do I fixate on that 1%?

… I’m still a good mom.

YOU ARE LOVED

Love: It’s Really That Simple

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With the first anniversary of #LoveWins upon us, I’ve been having a lot of emotions pop up. Apparently I still have a lot of anger towards the people in this world who oppose same sex marriage. I mean, I really can’t wrap my head around it. Can you believe there are people out there that would rather a child be left in foster care than have two moms? Or that they actually believe that some random relative the person has never met should have say over their medical care and that their long time partner shouldn’t?

I’m so proud to call these two women above my mothers. They showed me love, compassion, how to treat my child, trust, and most of all acceptance. They showed me that being honest is a gift. They showed me that love is the most important thing in this world. They showed those around them what hard work looked like. I posted this picture on my facebook today, and the comments make me cry. The love that others felt for them, how grateful they were to know my moms, all the gifts my parents gave them… wow!

Here’s the kicker for me today though. Caleb and I were looking through some pictures of my moms, and we come to the one posted above. Caleb points to the heart and says, and this is a direct quote, “They’re in love. That’s my grandmas.” Queue my heart shattering into a thousand pieces. He’ll never get to meet them. He’ll never get to hold their hands, snuggle them to sleep, or learn from them like I was able to, and that breaks my heart. It destroys me at my core. Yet, despite that, his statement is profound and powerful. This little almost three year old child gets what far too many adults don’t. Love is love. Love is everything. Love is the ONLY thing that matters.

Today, I challenge each and every one of you to show a little love for those around you. Bonus points if you show love for the LGBTQA+ community. There is enough hurt in the world. Today, let’s aim for love.

 

You ARE Loved!

I Help?

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I stand at the sink washing the hundredth dish of the night, when this sweet boy comes in. “What you do mama?” he asks me. “I’m cleaning up baby,” I tell him. He walks around for a few minutes, comes and watches me wash a few dishes, and then he takes a few steps back. He asks me, “I help?”

Way to melt a mama’s heart. I told him that he could pick things up from the floor and put them in the trash if he wanted. He did just that, and he did it happily. I thanked him for helping me clean our home. We finished up our work together, and went into the living room to snuggle a while.

I’ve never made him clean up. I will almost always ask him to pick up his toys, and often he will, but if he doesn’t I do it for him. Usually if he sees me cleaning up his toys, he comes to help me. When I do my own household duties, I try my best to do them cheerfully, because I have little eyes watching. He sees me happy to do these things, willing to do all of these jobs to help our home, and he picks up on it. He will now happily help without asking, because we always made it just another part of the day for our family instead of a chore, a pain in the butt, that just had to get done, because I said so.

Our family works together to make a home, and he is part of this wonderful home. And… I am so grateful.

You Are Loved!

Toddlers: The Personal Space Invaders

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Last night my sweet, adorable, loving child decided that the only acceptable place for him to be… was glued to me. Now I love snuggling, really, but snuggling (that really means being climbed all over, pushed, prodded, and jumped on) for ten straight hours is just really not my cup of tea. I would stand up and the banshee scream would come out of his small body. I had to go potty at one point and actually shut the door. The poor thing stood outside the door and cried, but my skin needed just a moment to relax and not be touched before going back into the prison like state this little being had put it in. I had been feeling a little ragey and really needed that few minute breather before I made bad choices.

I’d put him down, and he’d cry to me, “I want huggies, I want huggies!” I’d comply every time, because I will NEVER say no to a hug from my child. He’d lay right over my whole chest, and despite how much discomfort I was in, I took a deep breath focused on how much I loved him. Because… my mommy intuition knew there was a reason for his extra lovey and needy state. Sometimes you really do have to drop everything and just BE there for your child, because a need might seem silly to you, but make all the difference for them.

Him and I had just been away from Corey for most of a week, then with him constantly for two days because his days off came up right when we got home. Yesterday his daddy went back to work, and his sweet heart just couldn’t deal with it. He really missed his daddy, and was using my touch to console himself. I just couldn’t bring myself to be the strict, mean mommy that put him down and left him to cry out his pain. I know when I used to miss Corey so severely, before we lived together, I would have done anything to have someone hold me and tell me it would all be okay. Of course I want to be that for Caleb.

I can’t always/don’t always do the right thing. Sometimes I just NEED my space, but last night I knew that he had to come first. Today, he’s been eating like crazy, so I suspect he was also having a growth spurt yesterday and probably feeling some pain in his joints not helping with his already broken heart. Soon as daddy got home last night he was, of course, fine again… but all in all I don’t regret giving him that extra love yesterday.

I’m really not sure of the point for this post, but I felt compelled to share about this scene with my sweet boy. Today, I look at him and I am just filled with love and I’m so grateful that he will always know love, because not everyone has that privilege.

 

Remember, YOU ARE LOVED.

Upcycling for My Cloud Lover

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See that plain white dresser up there? Yeah, it fell apart. A few drawers fell out, broke into pieces, and then it just felt a little useless. We got rid of the drawers, and pulled it into our room for safety, but there it sat for a few months. I thought of all these different things I could do with it, and thought maybe a book shelf would be nice, but didn’t know exactly how to make that happen. I’m not very good at building things, but like most, I had big ideas.

I started taking an awesome class at the Adult Ed. called Creating Success. Part of the class was fixing up a piece of furniture, and it dawned on me that it was the perfect time to work on this bookshelf/whatever it was going to become. I spent the first half of the semester trying to decide what I would do, and wanted to do the best I could to make something Caleb would actually want and love. The night before I was supposed to start working on it, we went for a nice evening walk. Caleb looked up at these incredible dark clouds, and got so excited. He told me he loved clouds, and for half an hour we sat and watched them. We talked about them, and why he loved them. “Mama they in sky and cool. Clouds rain and are ice.” (Thank you Tree Schoolers for getting him interested in learning that awesome tidbit!)

When we got home I took pen to paper… and this is what I came up with!

This my friends is Caleb’s own personal book nook! As you can see, the outside is the sky covered in hand painted clouds. The inside is painted as a rainbow (something else he really loves!) with a sparkly blue “C” just for Caleb. Originally I was going to just build a shelf inside for him to sit on/the books to be held under. My awesome teacher came up with a much better plan though! Instead we built him a bench that could fit inside, but would also be removable so that he could take it out of the nook if he wanted to. I painted a big piece of canvas, with the help of my friend, and stapled it to the bench. The legs were off another chair and were perfect “trunks” for this tree he’d be sitting on. The books fit neatly beneath it, and the legs keep them in place. I’m planning to get book ends for when he wants to remove the bench, but I’m not too worried about it for now.

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I was so excited to bring this home for him to start using. I snuck it in before he could see, got it all set up and ready, and brought him in… He was ecstatic! He turned to me and said, “Mama this Caleb’s?”

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“Yes sweet boy!” Gleefully this little love of my life said, “Thank you mama!” He ran right over, sat down, got off, grabbed a book, and sat back down to read. He loves his books, and now I find him sitting there looking through his stories for a while every day. This book nook is just full of love. My grandmother had just given us the curtain I painted, so her touch is in here. My friends helped make the paint color to match, and another friend helped prime the inside and paint the seat cover. These are friends who love Caleb, and I’m sure he can feel that love. It took about nine hours to complete (between taking the old pieces apart, priming, painting, assembly, and finishing touches. It was all worth it though…

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Remember, You Are Loved!