Pouch Present

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We’ve loved the edible gift suggestions from High Five magazine in the past – perfect for teachers this time of year! The craft in Travis’s latest December issue was a bit different – the wrapping for the gift, instead of the gift itself. Put the pouch together now, and fill it with a little token of appreciation for teachers this holiday season.

There is a bit of adult prep-work for this one. Cut a circle from a 9×12-inch piece of felt. Green felt seasonably appropriate.

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Punch about 12 holes around the edges of the felt. This is definitly a grown-up step, since felt is much tougher to hole punch than paper.

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Finally, cut a piece of yarn that is 36 inches long, and tie to a paper clip; this will be your child’s “needle.”

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Now it’s the kid’s turn! Encourage him or her to decorate the bottom of the felt with markers. Travis made scribbles, but your kids might prefer to draw something seasonable, like Christmas trees or ornaments.

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Travis was so proud lacing all the way around the felt pieces with his needle and thread. He insisted he could do it all by himself, including knowing when to sew up and when to sew down.

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Once you’ve gone all the way around, leave the two ends of yarn dangling. Pull the felt slightly, and it will cinch closed.

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What will you gift your child’s teachers this year? Do share in the comments!

Record Your Baby

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Remember when you started your baby journal? Right, I barely do either – it’s so easy to full behind on chronicling things when you are sleep-deprived plus over the moon about a new baby.

Today, I made a point to pull out the camera and capture moments; not with the still camera, but the video recorder. It’s one of the best ways to ensure you remember this fleeting period, even those simple moments like lying down and kicking those little legs and making those little gurgles.

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Veronika was an easy subject of course, happily starring in the little video clips I took.

I recommend keeping these short (I have footage of Travis cooing at this age that goes on for five minutes, and even I get a bit bored!), but definitely hit “record” and you’ll play through the memories so happily years from now.

Other cute moments to consider – tho not posted here on the blog – are bath times, nursing, and those adorable little naps where Veronika grunts in her sleep.

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Yoga Relaxation Walk

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It’s useful to have poses or tricks for those times your baby is hard to settle, and today I tested out this yoga-inspired method.

If you don’t own a yoga belt, no worries – simply lay a long strip of fabric down on the floor. My husband’s ribbon belts were perfect for this!

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I held Veronika over one shoulder, and walked along the belt with small steps. Keep your knees slightly bent and your spine straight, and concentrate on putting your feet one in front of the other. It was great to hum to Veronika as I walked, too.

I confess that I like the calming pose better, but this move had the advantage of taking up so much concentration that it gave me a mental break from a crying baby.

If baby’s cries are getting on a big sibling’s nerves, the game can also be fun for them. I told Travis I was challenging him to walk in a straight line along the belt, and he had a blast setting them up on the floor and testing it out, a nice distraction.

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In sum, this is a good trick to have up my sleeve!

Read Aloud

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Chances are you spend a lot of time talking to your baby in parentese, but it’s equally important for infants to absorb the sounds of adult language. One great way to do so? Read aloud to your baby in quiet moments, whether nursing or just sitting together in a calm place.

If you feel like you never have time to read the news or a book anymore as a new parent, this is the perfect excuse. The next time you want to do some adult reading, snuggle up and read out loud!

I did this with Travis without any prompting when he was an infant, reading my way through the entire novel Crossing to Safety in out quiet moments (much easier with a first child!). Today, I remembered to do so with Veronika.

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We tested out a newspaper article first, but I find it more enjoyable to read from a magazine. Whatever you pick, I recommend something with lots of vocabulary. Simple and elegant prose seems perfect to me – slow, quiet articles and books, rather than those with lots of actions. Although that is only my preference!

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Of course, read whatever pleases you – even the latest celebrity gossip would do. Baby won’t care; he or she will just love the sound of your voice. I kept catching her mouth quirking into a little smile, in fact.

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Happy reading!

Visit a Bakery

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I’ve been posting suggested field trips for even the youngest babies, and here’s a reminder that some are not necessarily for the baby… they’re for you, stay-at-home parent!

Getting out can feel great, especially if this child is your first and the weeks of “nesting” are starting to seem confining. But you also want to go some place relatively calm. Bakeries are perfect.

Head off to your nearest local bakery, and make an afternoon of it. Baby can snuggle in your arms when awake, or nap peacefully if asleep (Veronika slept the entire outing!). Meanwhile, you get a nice pause and a tasty treat – vegan chocolate chip cookies and a cup of decaf? Don’t mind if I do!

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Big sibs can of course come along for the fun.

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If baby wakes up, there are lots of things to excite the senses in a bakery; the smell of fresh-basked goods (even though he or she can’t eat them yet!); the noise of coffee grinders or the bell on the door as customers pass in and out; lots of people to people-watch. And of course, yummy treats to ogle!

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Kisses to Learn

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Let’s face it – parents can’t stop kissing their babies! Those adorable faces, those irresistibly chubby cheeks, those tiny hands and feet… And today we added in a little learning to the kisses!

Diaper time is a great moment for this activity, but any time will do, really. As you kiss each part of baby, say, “I love your feet/tummy/cheeks” etc.

Perfect places for kisses: hands, feet, foreheads, eyebrows, ears, noses. And really anywhere! This foot is about to get a kiss of course.

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You can also bring stuffed animals into the game. “Giraffe loves your cheeks, Veronika.”

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Babies really absorb language when it’s combined with actions in this way – plus they get to feel you’re affection! So get smooching.

Bright Bean Salad

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This main dish salad from the December issue of High Five magazine is just gorgeous – bright indeed! The dominant colors of red and green would make it right at home in a Christmas holiday spread… or just make it any night with your kids!

Travis loved that the recipe involved kids every step of the way, including actions he’d never done before like washing the vegetables, chopping (!), and draining cans of beans. This was definitely a “next level” recipe in his cooking skills. I did a bit of the tough chopping (the green onions, cilantro, and spinach) ahead of time; judge accordingly for your kids.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans
  • 1 (15-ounce) can corn
  • 2 large red potatoes
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 bunch chopped cilantro
  • 2 and 1/2 cups chopped baby spinach
  • 1 (16-ounce) jar mild salsa
  1. Adults: Ahead of time, cook the potatoes in boiling water until tender; let cool.
  2. Drain and rinse the cans of beans. This was Travis’s first time using a can opener – he loved learning how the mechanism works! Use half of the beans for this recipe (about 1 and 1/2 cups) and reserve the remaining beans for another use.Bright Bean Salad (1)
  3. Drain the corn.
  4. Wash the bell pepper, then cut the bell pepper and the cooked potato into pieces. I let him help me with the knife the whole time, so couldn’t snap a picture, but he was so proud.Bright Bean Salad (3)
  5. In a large bowl, combine the beans, corn, potatoes, bell pepper, green onions, cilantro, and spinach.Bright Bean Salad (4)
  6. Stir in the salsa until well combined.Bright Bean Salad (5)

We served this over tortilla chips the first night for easy “nachos.”

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It would also be great wrapped up in soft tacos or served over scrambled tofu!

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Bond More Deeply

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Today, it was time for a trip down memory lane – all the way back to one month ago!

Okay, one month wasn’t so long ago, but they don’t call this infant period the “longest shortest time” for nothing. So much happens so quickly for newborns, changing almost daily. And yet the long hours, middle of the night feedings, and sleepless nights can feel endless.

So today, we took a pause to look back on photos. First, I took in Veronika’s old ultrasounds. Hard to imagine that only 10 months ago, she was the size of an apple seed!

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Then we took in more recent ultrasounds, when she more closely resembled a human than a part of a fruit. You can also go back and look at photos from soon after birth, remembering that beautiful moment. She’s so new she’s still covered in vernix here!

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Travis loved seeing these pictures, and we took time to show them to Veronika too

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In addition to reminding us how far we’ve come as a family already, looking at pictures this way will release the feel-good hormone oxytocin – as if you need another excuse to gaze at cute baby pics!.

So take a moment today as a family to look back, and enjoy, and feel your bond deepen.

 

Baby Sensory Sound Activity

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This easy little activity is great for sensory play – auditory sensory play that is! You can either play during baby’s tummy time or just when he or she is lying down comfortably on a soft blanket.

Big brother Travis helped me set up the game. We needed two tupperware containers, dried rice, dried beans, a wooden block, and a spoon.

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We filled one tupperware with rice, and the other with beans. It was fun to shake them and see the different sounds they made. Her eyes lit up at the rice, a fast, curious favorite. Beans were louder, and didn’t interest her as much.

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For a different tone completely, Travis and I took turns tapping on the block with a metal spoon. This makes a nice drumming sound that isn’t too loud for a newborn’s hearing.

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I also encouraged her to wrap her fingers around the spoon and helped her tap the block, which involved her in the process of making noise.

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We’ll definitely return to this game; as she gets older, Veronika can shake the containers all by herself!

Paper Bag Village

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There was a bonus activity in Travis’s latest issue of High Five magazine:¬†doors, windows, and awnings to cut out and affix to paper bags to make a whole paper bag town. All you need to supply are the paper lunch bags.

This was quite similar to a little village Travis and I put together recently, but oddly this time he was way more into it – I think because the doors and other building details came ready-made and he loved the way they looked!

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Cutting along the dotted lines is great practice for little hands, though I had to help with some of the trickier shapes like awnings.

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Travis preferred taping on the features rather than gluing, so that we could play right away.

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Pretty soon we had: a library; a shoe store; a school; a toy store; and a bakery.

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The instructions recommend stuffing with newspaper so the buildings hold their shape, before taping closed, but Travis insisted that he be able to open and close the doors. I made a cut out in the bag around each taped door so that he could swing them open and closed, and let Duplo people go inside.

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This meant we left the bags un-stuffed, so they were a bit flimsier, but he had such a blast it hardly mattered!

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Cute idea, thanks High Five!

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