Introduce Family Traditions

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It’s never too early to start a family tradition, whether your baby is your first child or a new sibling. Certainly, Veronika’s birth has us thinking about new traditions we can incorporate into our home. Here’s a quick rundown of a few we’ve begun and hope to continue!

Afternoon Walks:

Obviously you won’t be able to do this every afternoon, but I highly recommend finding a pretty spot or route that your family loves, and make it a tradition to head out walking at least once a month (yes, even in the winter)! To wit, we have three walks that now belong to our family: one in a local state park along paved trails; one around the pond at our local park; and one secret trail through the woods. This last we call the “Kerber Walk”, because there is a restaurant of the same name nearby, but it isn’t the actual name of the trail. We love that the moniker is a family secret.

Wherever you go, visit in multiple seasons and your family tradition will be firmly in place.

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Festive Customs:

I held off on buying much for the holidays when Travis was my only child, knowing I always wanted a second. Since Veronika’s birth, I can coordinate each holiday as it comes around! Most recently, this has meant brother-and-sister Easter baskets with monogrammed bunny ear liners. I’ll be coordinating the gifts they receive, too: a spring-themed book for each child, as well as a treat (candy for Travis, pureed carrots for little Veronika!).

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Whatever traditions feel unique to your family, introduce them to your baby early; he or she will never remember a time without the custom.

Connecting with Cousins:

If your lucky enough to have cousins in the area, make it a point of playing together. It has been so fun to watch Travis bloom into buddies with the two boy cousins who live close by. Meanwhile the baby girls are only two months apart in age! Our goal is to pencil in a date monthly. These kids can grow up together and forge their own traditions.

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And big teenage cousins have the perfect laps for sitting.

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Saturday Play in the Park:

Weekends get busy with kids – sport practice, birthday parties, art classes. But usually are mornings are free, so we try and make it a custom to head to a playground for quality family time. Family obligations might mean you can’t do so every Saturday, but it’s a great goal to aim for. Little Veronika can’t play yet, but she can watch big brother play!

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I like to think she’s soaking up the adventure that awaits, and big siblings will love that they can run and play and not worry about indoor admonitions to avoid waking the baby.

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Sunday Snuggles:

Travis has always been a big one for snuggles (boy do I feel lucky!) and now Veronika is in on the snuggly action. We decided that now when we cuddle up for special Sunday snuggles on the couch, we’ll snap a Sunday Snuggle Selfie. Moving forward, we’ll have a week-by-week record of these cuddly moments!

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Family Games:

Even though Veronika is too young to play still, it’s great to pull out games and make it a family board game night (or day, if that works better!) and make interactive time a priority. Right now, Travis gets the thrill of playing, while she gets to sit on a grown-up’s lap or lie close by and take in the action.

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What other traditions are you building for your baby? Please share in the comments!


Liquid Hourglass

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Are you passing the hours during a snow day, or the latest winter storm, or just having a day that’s too cold to venture outside? Then this hourglass project is for you! It will make watching the passing hours into a fantastically cool experiment.

To start, you need two identical bottles (we used empty water bottles that were 1 liter).

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Hot glue the caps together, pressing for a tight seal.

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Next add a piece of duct tape, to make a water-tight seal.

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Mark two dots where you will insert straws, then (grown-up step!) drill through the holes.

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Cut straws into pieces that are 2-inches long. Insert one straw 1/3 of the way into one of the holes. Insert the other straw 1/3 of the way in the other direction.

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Fill your first bottle with vegetable oil. Definitely use the cheap stuff here, folks, since the bottle needs to be filled completely. We used a funnel to avoid any mess.

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Fill the second bottle with water. We added blue food coloring for visual effect.

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Now screw one half of the bottle cap onto the bottle with oil. Quickly and carefully, flip over and screw onto the bottle with water. Immediately you’ll get a big bubbling result as the two liquids start to mix.

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After a few minutes, the bubbles will settle down and you can really see what’s happening. Because the oil is less dense than water, it will bubble up, bit by bit through the straw, at the same time that the water bubbles down.

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First, we were simply in awe of how cool this looked.

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Then we decided to get more scientific: Had we really created an hourglass? We timed it and discovered it took 45 minutes on the dot before we had one completely blue bottle, and one completely oil bottle.

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And then there’s the fact that this is simply mesmerizing to watch. Seriously, I could have meditated in front of these bubbles.

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And Travis’s glee made it apparent he felt the same.

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Although not necessary, you can decorate your bottles, too. Since the blue and yellow effect reminded us of sand and water, we added a little octopus and his cave…

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…and these fishy friends.

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What a way to watch the hours pass!


Many Mobiles

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Veronika needed some new mobiles to look at, so I had fun making her a few, very easy and (and very inexpert!) versions this morning. The best thing about these mobiles is that I could craft them at her side while she kicked and played on her playmat.

I like using mobiles during diaper time instead of in the crib; Veronika isn’t lying on her back in her crib other than at night, but she sure loves checking out what’s hanging above the diaper table during changes!

For the following four mobiles, I simply suspended the objects from a baby hanger using colorful string. No points for elegance here – but lots of points for delight!

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Here are the four variations I made:

The first was easy as pie; simply tie small stuffed animals onto string and loop onto the hanger.

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This one had the added bonus of sound, since a few of our animals squeaked or mooed.

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The second was equally easy; I threaded large gold jingle bells onto string, and looped onto the hanger. She absolutely loved running her hands across this one, so I placed it over her playmat later, too.

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Just be sure to supervise any play baby does with dangling strings.

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For the third, I cut cardboard into various small shapes – circles, triangles etc.

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Cover the shapes with aluminum foil. Punch a hole into the cardboard, add string, and loop onto the hanger.

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These were so sparkly when sunlight hit them!

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The final mobile was the least elegant of all, but also got big smiles. I stapled string to a few empty food boxes with bright colors, and then looped the string onto the hanger.

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These were fun for her to bat at and hear them knock against each other.

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In sum, there’s lots of visual delights here! We’re going to keep all these versions on rotation and change up what’s hanging from her mobile hook so she never gets bored.

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Grab and Scrunch

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Babies at four months old are all about texture, and this game couldn’t be cuter or easier! All you need are some common household items to introduce new sounds and textures in today’s play session.

I pulled out a brown paper lunch bag and a box of wax paper. For each one, I first showed it to Veronika completely smooth and uncrumpled. Let your baby feel the material at this stage, too.

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Next, I crumpled each up. Hold the paper or wax paper close to baby’s ear for this; the sound is nearly as neat as the texture!

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Finally, I handed her the wadded up ball. She loved passing the papers from hand to hand.

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And of course giving it a test with her mouth, which is okay, but supervise since you don’t want a baby mouthing on wax paper for long.

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Alternatively, don’t scrunch up the materials; instead, let your baby take them while smooth, and scrunch them up solo.

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What other items does your baby love to hold at this stage? Please share in the comments!

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