Stop and Watch

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It’s hard to believe, but here we are with Veronika a full month old already.

“Look at how she’s looking at you!” marveled the woman at the toy store when I stopped in today, and I peeked down at my little girl in her stroller. Indeed, her wide-open eyes were laser-focused on me; I get to be a celebrity a little longer.

It was a good reminder to take the day and just pause: to take stock, to stop and look closely at her, and to see how much she’s changed in one month already.

If you do the same, simply stop and watch your baby for a little while. I placed Veronika down on her cricket blanket and just watched.

The eyes are more alert.

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The expressions are more varied.

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The hand gestures are more deliberate.

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And of course the snuggles and time together are still just as wonderful.

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What is your baby’s behavior like at the one-month milestone? I’d love to hear in the comments!

Juice Box Pirate Ship and Flags

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This is likely the last of the boats Travis and I will make for a while, but a few lemonade juice boxes in the fridge made us decide to construct one last version before we put our pirate games to rest!

First, enjoy a juice box of course.

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Once it’s empty, I recommend taping over the hole where the straw was, to avoid juice leaking out (or your boat filling with water in the tub).

Pierce two holes in the top of the juice box for the masts (grown-up step!).

You can use the juice box straw for the mast, but we found that thicker, regular plastic straws were sturdier. Snip these into thirds, and use two of the pieces for this project.

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Travis loved snipping the straws so much, I had to redirect him for the rest of the boat!

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Decorate a piece of paper with markers or stickers to make your sail, then cut into a triangle shape.

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Tape onto the two masts, and you’re ready to set sail on the seven seas.

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These are perfect little boats for bathtime, although they won’t hold up very long – the paper sails especially are only good for a short while.

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Travis decided the paper sail was too flimsy. We had leftover pirate stickers, so decorated a big piece of red foam instead.

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Although not attached to the ship, he loved doing this, and waving it around. You could even teach a bit of the history behind pirate flags, often flown to scare merchant ships so they could take them over without ever having to fight.

Pretty scary!

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Fruit Boats

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Origami boats might be fun to play with, but fruit boats are even bettert\ to eat! After a busy school day, Travis helped me create these adorable boats for snacktime.

First, cut a whole cantaloupe into wedges. Travis asked at first if it was mango – it’s amazing how we forget that kids can be disconnected from food, when it’s served to them already cut up. He loved discovering that the big fruit in front of us was his favorite melon.

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Put a toothpick in each wedge, and add watermelon pieces as the sails.

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For the pirate, cut a circular piece of banana as the head. Cut the banana lengthwise into pieces for the torso and arms. Use toothpicks to stick your pirate man together, and then another toothpick to affix him to the boat. We made a boat and pirate for Daddy, too!

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Travis loved it, and delighted in pulling apart the pirate ship piece by piece. There goes your hull, matey!

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A super cute and fun snack for pirate lovers.

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Apple Art for Tummy Time

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This is an adorable black-and-white art project you can use to enhance baby’s tummy time – and big sibs might want to get in on the craft, too!

First, I cut an apple in half, and painted the halves with a thick coat of black paint.

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Press the apples onto sturdy white paper. I made a row of three apples per page.

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To vary the image, you can also paint in full apples with little stems.

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I invited Travis to have a go at making a print, too, and we came up with this more abstract version:

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For Veronika’s tummy time, we folded the papers in half so they could stand upright, and surrounded her with a little apple forest. These are great for pointing too, and talking about the image.

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We also sang “One little, two little, three little apples…” etc. to the tune of Ten Little Indians. You could also make up stories about apples!

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What is your baby looking at for tummy time? Please share in the comments!

Safe & Sound Cricket Crate

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I’ve been documenting Travis’s subscription to Koala Crate for 2 and 1/2 years now, and it’s time for Veronika to have her very own subscription journey! I purchased the company’s three-month newborn pack Cricket Crate before she was even born, so excited was I to begin the journey.

That said, it looks like Cricket may have been discontinued, and replaced by Tadpole Crate for newborns to two-year-olds… so stay tuned! But in the meantime, I cracked open Veronika’s first of the three Crickets in honor of her one month birthday, and was delighted by the items inside.

First, I’ll cover what the kit contained. Item one was a stuffed cricket (of course!) with different materials in the limbs, body, and wings, for maximum tactile sensation.

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There was also an adorable board book, Night Night Cricket, with simple good night text and find-it items for your child as he or she gets bigger (right now I just pointed these out to Veronika).

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Next up was the swaddle – which turned out to be way more than a swaddle. I’ve only had this blanket in my hands for a few days, and already my thought is: how did I make it through the first month of her life without it?

The Wonder magazine includes a helpful page with a step-by-step to swaddling correctly (hint: start by folding the cloth into a triangle, not a rectangle shape). The cloth can be used this way until the baby is old enough to have objects in the crib or stroller more as a lovey.

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Next, use it as a storytime blanket. Because it depicts images of our little Cricket friend, it’s perfect for tummy time.

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Veronika lay down as I talked about the images, and all the activities Cricket was getting up to. We did this with her propped against my lap, too.

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Travis helped narrate the story… Perfect for big sibs who can’t read yet!

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On a practical level, we also tested the blanket as a stroller cover…

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…and a carrier cover on a windy day, keeping the wind and sun out of her face.

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Finally, it’s perfect for those times when you want to place baby on the ground, but the surface needs covering. It’s now my go-to for the baby massage I try to give her a few times a week.

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A day at the spa!

Wonder magazine included other ways to make your baby feel safe and taken care of. Most interesting was “flying.” This was a new one for me, not a move I ever tried with Travis. Supporting Veronika under the tummy, I lifted her over the blanket for a little airplane ride, alternating gentle up and down movements with side to side. She stayed remarkably calm and seemed to like it! Photo credit to big brother since I needed two hands for this one.

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We also danced, a great way to get baby used to rhythm. You can change baby’s position (up on the shoulder versus in the crook of your arms), and freeze for a few beats now and then.

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I also used the blanket as a prompt for singing. The image of Cricket on the bus had us singing along to Wheels on the Bus, and acting out the versus with her arms and legs.

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The obvious difference between this and a Koala Crate is that Wonder magazine is very much aimed at the parent, not the child. It’s quite text-heavy, and included tips on building a relationship with your newborn, advice on sleep, and tips from a pediatrician for when your baby cries.

An online link from the crate led to additional parental resources, including adorable printables for “milestone stickers”. Just in time for Veronika’s one month!

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Finally, the website included suggestions for further reading. We added to our library:

Goodnight Gorilla

Good Dog, Carl

Pat the Bunny

and The Going to Bed Book

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Excited to unpack the second box of the newborn set soon!

Origami Boat

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Travis and I have been finding neat materials from which to make boats, now that we’re on a bit of a pirate kick. I found the instructions for this origami boat online, and thought it looked fun. It turned out to be quite tricky, but Travis and I had a ball, laughing at our gaffes, and cheering when we got it right!

Ideally use origami paper, but construction paper works in a pinch. Either way, begin by trimming into a rectangle. Fold the paper in half horizontally, and open back up. Fold in half down vertically and leave folded.

I was so proud Travis wanted to do his own folding!

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Next fold the upper two corners into the center crease, forming two triangles.

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Fold up the bottom of the paper on both the back and front – now it looks like a pirate hat!

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But don’t stop there. Now you’re going to push the bottom two corners toward each other, a process that really only makes sense once you feel it intuitively. It will make the paper into a square that folds flat (hint: tuck in the excess flap on the front and back).

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Now fold up the bottom of this diamond on both front and back, pressing flat.

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Take the edges of this triangle toward the center – another tricky step! You’ll form another square. We had a good giggle over this one as we figured it out!

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Finally, pull the top corners out, and press flat – now you have a boat!

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It should hold pretty well, but for a little added security, I stuck masking tape on the edges.

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Travis was SO proud, an loved his boats so much that he requested a fleet. I soon became pretty adept at making them, so he had lots of boats to fly around the apartment.

Happy folding!

Develop the Gaze

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Here’s our final activity for the first month of Veronika’s life! As with many of the activities this early on, today’s was about taking a quiet moment – a must, for an infant in a busy home! We paused just to look at each other, and truly give her time to develop her eyesight.

Great moments for this include nursing – when an infant is an ideal 8 to 10 inches from your face – or when you hold your baby in your arms. Veronika loves being cradled in one elbow and just staring up at me – I swear she makes me feel like a pop star. This might be the closest I’ll ever come to the celebrity status of a Bruno Mars. In particular, she seems fascinated when I eat, eyes big and wide.

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So today, give your baby these moments, and take time to gaze back. Here’s another wide-eyed stare I caught on camera, although the flash made her blink.

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You can also let infants stare at their big siblings, from a slightly further distance away. This will be a great way to develop their eyesight. Travis loved helping out for today’s demonstration!

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What does your infant love to watch you do? Do they seem fascinated by a particular feature? Please share in the comments!

Pirate Telescope Spotting Game

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Travis and I can’t get enough of pirate games these days, and this fun activity engaged us on multiple levels – as an artistic craft to start, and then as a competitive game. If you have enough kids, it would be perfect to play at a pirate-themed birthday party!

First, we needed to set the scene. We originally intended to paint on a big piece of craft paper (a large piece of cardboard would work, too), but we were out of blue paint – you can’t have an ocean scene without blue!

Thinking quickly, we switched to markers and crayons. I drew Travis a basic scene: ocean, pirate ship, desert island. Big kids may want to take charge of this part themselves!

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Next we needed a couple of telescopes. Some decorative washi tape and an empty paper towel tube made one quite quickly.

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We tried to make a stacked telescope by layering cups together. This might have worked more easily with paper cups, since we had to tape two plastic ones together (and work carefully to snip out an eye hole), but the tape sort of ruined the look.

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This image is way more what we were going for.

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But there wasn’t time to be fussy! (We fit this game into baby sister’s nap), so now it was time to test our pirate spotting skills.

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Taking turns, one person added something to the ocean landscape, and the other pirate looked through the telescope to discover what was new.

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This was a great challenge for Travis’s budding art skills. He had fun drawing me a treasure chest, a starfish, and more.

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And he loved spotting the items that mommy pirate drew, like a whale and a parrot.

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As mentioned, you could have a whole group of kids play this at a party, and turn it into a competition for who spots the new item first!

Enjoy, landlubbers!

 

Check the Diaper Bag

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If you’re following along with my daily infant activities, then your newborn is nearly a one-month-old! That likely means that even new moms and dads are beginning to venture out with baby, if they haven’t already. And for veteran parents, you’ve probably had to take baby everywhere since day 1! But chances are the fatigue is catching up to you after 4 weeks with little sleep, and it’s a good time to do inventory before you step out of the house… of the diaper bag that is.

Typically, I like to keep the diaper bag mostly ready to go, so it’s a no-brainer to leave the house fast. A few items need to go in and out, but others can always stay.

First, you’ll want a good bag, one with lots of interior pockets to easily fit diapers, wipes, diaper cream, and more. A lot of great bags come with a foldable diaper mat, which is a must for yucky Koala Care stations! I love my version from Land’s End.

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Once you have the bag, sort out the baby essentials, which can mostly live in the diaper bag and be restocked as needed. I keep a spare outfit (usually my least favorite outfit in Veronika’s current size) and only change it if it gets worn. Also of course are diapers, wipes, diaper cream, and plastic bags for disposal.

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Don’t forget older siblings, who may need a change of clothes, too, if still young. Bigger kids can get away with a water bottle and snack, which you can keep on hand. And throw in a snack for yourself, mama! All this takes energy.

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Extra credit goes for entertainment. Leave in an easy baby book or a favorite toy. Magazines are great for big kids, since they weigh almost nothing but include great entertainment.

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Happy travels!

Sunken Treasure

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After lots of fun dressing up as pirates, Travis and I needed to head off on a treasure hunt for “booty.” I involved a little STEM learning in the game by turning it into a test – which treasure will float, and which will sink to the bottom of the ocean?

First, I made a list of items to find around the house, and Travis helped check them off as we went.

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He found a little box to gather his treasures into, and already loved the game!

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Items included: things from the kitchen like cucumber slices, toothpicks, and cookie cutters; things from his room like toy dinosaurs, marbles, and bouncy balls; and things from outside like leaves, rocks, and sticks.

Next we filled a glass of water and set about testing all of our items.

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Travis loved dropping things in the glass!

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We soon detected a pattern – metal objects tended to sink and wooden ones tended to float. The rubber bouncy ball surprised us by sinking! When we were done, I fished the objects out of the glass, and “Pirate Travis” had to dry and polish all his treasures.

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