We have a pretty serious anti-TV stance in our house. We actually don't even have a TV and we rarely download movies. Until I went on bedrest, we even had a rule about turning off our computers at 6:30pm and leaving them off completely on Sundays. But the possibility of the baby coming early put me into a state of desperation to get extra work done each day, which has meant 12-14 hour work days 6 days a week for the past 15 weeks. All while taking care of Max.
The underemployed mister has been around a lot to help and sometimes even takes Max along to jobs, but there is still a lot of need for him to play independently especially when it's just he and I. He has millions of educational toys, 2 indoor tricycles, books, and about 12 montessori trays, but he prefers our participation with almost everything and living the city life with no yard in sight...well you can imagine. Enter "The Screen". At first it was just Little Pim and Sesame Street podcasts, but like every addiction it grew. Next was Caillou, then Olivia...and just yesterday I realized Yo Gabba Gabba has taken over our lives. I know all of the words to every song in the second season.
So the mister and I decided it was time for an intervention. We unplugged mid-episode and listened to the screams. Today I faced a full day of work with a 2 year old by my side and no digital distraction and I wanted to share one of my secret weapons:
Random Waterplay! [distraction time = 1-2 hours]:
Fill a huge container with luke warm water and random objects. Squishy things, shiny things, things that are good for pouring, etc. The more random the better. You can also add a second container for transferring water back and forth, and tongs to practice object transferring. Place it on a trash bag on top of an old sheet on the floor. Or if you have a girl (ah, those civilized creatures!) you can probably get away with placing it on a kid size table or high chair tray.
First let me say that making shapes with playdough is one of Max's top 3 favorite activities on earth. He never tries to eat it anymore (that's so 6 months ago!) unless he's trying to get our attention. He says "Playdough, mama!" and brings me the playdough basket (which includes this tool set and this dough). I roll the dough for him and he cuts as many shapes as he can from each color of dough, lining them up neatly before putting them back in their containers and moving onto the next color.
But after 3 months, like all well-loved dough it was ready to retire. That's when I decided we were ready to graduate to making our own. This of course was a marvelous failure. It all began with a recipe that promised to have the best consistency of all playdoughs. The mister, bless his heart, got all of the ingredients including the elusive cream of tartar, followed the recipe with an exactness only a German man could possess. But once it cooled we were shocked to find it felt something like bubble gum. After adding a bunch more flour and oil, it was finally usable. I added the food coloring while the mister ran to a nearby sushi place to get some nifty takeout containers to store it in.
Max's face lit up as he beheld a huge mound of homemade purple playdough. It was one of those moments when you say to yourself, we are such awesome parents. It was a proud day moment. He then proceeded to take a huge bite out of it, which he managed to spit out into multiple pieces onto our sheepskin rug. Before laughing maniacally and running away.
As if that wasn't bad enough, not four days later I found myself bending over the kitchen counter with squinty eyes in complete astonishment. Our precious dough had become a little mold farm. I honestly didn't know playdough could grow mold. Why didn't anyone tell us? What did we do wrong?
Anyway all of this is to say that, while I am a crafty DIY kind of mom, I will be sticking store to bought playdough for now. This also answered my question about whether to carry it in the store. Yes! It is well worth the $10 and it smells nice on top of it.
Max is still a little fuzzy on the whole Chrismas monring thing, so he took his time waking up. But once he saw Santa's deliveries he sprung to action opening every last package with pure gratitude and delight. He took time to explore and play with each new gift after opening it. Makes a mama proud!
He got several puzzles, some of which were pretty advanced and we've been shocked by how quickly he's been able to master them. A reminder that these little people are absolute sponges, always ready for new frontiers. And even though he's had plenty of iphone and digital camera exposure, he adores the wooden iphone and camera Santa brought from Little Sappling Toys more than the real thing.
Yesterday I was surprised to be fighting off some "post-chirstmas-excitement-so-now-what" blues. Luckily it seems to have lasted only a day. Now it's back to work...
Now that Max is old enough to appreciate numbers, and of course to loooove "petents" (presents) I figure this is the perfect year to start the advent calendar tradition. I chose the muslin bag type instead of the wrapped boxes because it's easier to fill 24 bags than wrap 24 boxes while lying down but also because it looks so pretty and decorative strung across a wall. It was actually pretty easy to make and I had fun creating and choosing 24 tiny goodies to stuff inside.
WHAT YOU'LL NEED
HOW TO MAKE IT
Step 1: Begin by collecting a selection of small gifts
I collected random goodies like stickers and a harmonica and made some of the gifts by painting wooden animal puzzles like these...
I chose and a few special gifts like a vintage music box and some old cast iron jailer keys since he is currently obsessed with keys. An ebay search for "jailer keys" will bring up some fun inexpensive ones.
Inspired by friends, Anna and Sandra of Goose Grease I painted peg dolls to look like Max's grandma's. I have a new respect for the beautiful work the Goose Grease ladies do. It took me over an hour to paint these 2 dolls and they have plenty of imperfections (and I forgot to give them arms). It's hard to imagine creating them by the dozen and sale-quality.
I saved a collection of Nativity finger puppets by WeeKnit for the the special gift on the 24th to help with our lessons about the story of christmas. I'm hoping that through books and movies like this one he will have some idea of what christmas is really about by the time the 24th rolls around.
Step 2: Paint a number on each bag
I used Americana craft paint in Country Red. You can make stencils by printing numbers in your favorite font onto cardstock and then using an exacto knife to cut the numbers out. I didn't have the patience so I just painted them on freehand.
Step 3 (optional): Paint your clothespins
Apply a coat of white paint to the fronts, backs and sides to even out the varying wood tones. Clipping the clothespins to a piece of cardboard will make painting easier.
Next, paint diagonal stripes onto the clothespins using a piece of cardboard or a folded piece of paper as a guide.
Alternating the direction of the stripes will create a chevron pattern later when they are lined up side by side.
Step 4: Hang it up + have some fun!
Cut a piece of twine about 8-12ft long and secure it to the wall out of the little ones reach. Then pin each bag to the twine, overlapping them (with smaller numbers over bigger numbers) if necessary. To use less wall space you can also cut the twine to create 2 or more rows, placing one above the other. Open one goodie bag a day starting on December 1st and watch mini's eye light up each day with anticipation.
[Pictures by Bonbonmini]