Baking Soda Ocean Art

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Travis and I made a batch of a neat baking soda dough today! Originally we hoped to craft a few ocean creatures and corals. It turns out Travis also just had a blast playing with the dough in his own way while I did more of the actual sculpting, but that means it was a win-win all around.

To make the dough, combine 1 cup baking soda, 1/2 cup cornstarch, and 3/4 cup water in a bowl. Travis loves whenever we make “potions” like this.

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Microwave for 1 minute, then stir. Microwave for a second minute and then stir; you’ll notice it is starting to thicken around the edges.

Continue to microwave at 20 second intervals thereafter, until the mixture is thick and creamy like mashed potatoes. Travis was the button presser for this part, as you can see! We needed about 3 or 4 intervals.

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Cover the bowl with a damp paper towel, and let cool.

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(Note: if your child is antsy during this waiting period, put leftover baking soda to good use with a classic volcano).

I tested the dough to make sure it had cooled completely, and found it to be quite sticky. I sprinkled in additional baking soda, and needed quite a lot; I wasn’t measuring, but probably close to 1/4 cup. If your dough is also sticky, add a little baking soda at a time and knead in after each addition. If you find you have the opposite problem (a dough that is too stiff), add a little extra water.

Travis loved the way it felt!

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At first he wanted to know how to make sea creatures, especially the starfish: Form 5 teardrop shapes, and attach them together.

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Some extra dots of dough give the starfish bumpy texture.

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Coral was also fun; form a round ball, then add marks with a pencil for texture.

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From there, Travis had his own game going, happily getting his hands into the dough over and over again.

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I rounded out our ocean collection with a few more sea creatures. For a sand dollar, roll a ball and then flatten. Draw a flower shape in the center with the tip of a pencil, and add a few holes around the edges.

Tube sponges were the neatest to make: Roll a few log shapes, then attach together, and punch a hole in the center of each with a pencil.

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Finally, we rolled up a few cute sea snails.

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Travis really wanted to play with these right away, which you can do if you bake at 175 degrees F for about 45 minutes. But when he learned that this would mean the dough turning brown, he – maturely! – decided he could wait the day or so you’ll need for the dough to dry completely.

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Definitely worth the wait.

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Toys That Light Up

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My poor little girl has her first fever today, which was bound to happen after her older brother brought it home from school. It breaks my heart when babies are sick – more so than with big kids – because you can’t explain to them why they feel so crummy! She just wasn’t her usual self, with no smile on her face, and no interest in her favorite textured and crinkly toys.

Times like these, I reach for toys that light up, ideally ones that are easy for a baby to grab and hold onto at this age. The added visual element seems to perk up even the fussiest baby, which is also what makes light up toys great for when you’re on the go and a child is stuck in a car seat or stroller. That’s why our light-up puppy is Veronika’s go-to when we’re out and about.

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Indeed, the colorful elements on this little doggie rattle caught Veronika’s eye today, and she was enticed to reach for it despite feeling ill.

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The look on her face in these pictures just breaks my heart, but she’s trying!

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As a happy ending, here she is playing with the rattle once she was feeling much better in the afternoon.

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And the changing red and green lights still caught her eye.

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Get Out and About

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Veronika is four months old, and that’s a great age for field trips! Although I posted a few suggestions for getting your infant out and about early on (to museums or plays, for example), let’s be honest; Veronika slept most of the time.

But now she’s wide-eyed and alert for roughly 2 hour stretches, and it’s a great time to revisit some of these old suggestions, plus add in a few new ones.

To wit, when I took her to an art museum this time, she didn’t doze off in front of the canvases. Instead, there was lots of wide-eyed gazing at the bright colors on the wall, even if she didn’t know what she was looking at.

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Or she occasionally preferred devouring a toy over admiring the art.

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Our particular local museum is perfect for families with children, with just two rooms, and activities for the big kids. Veronika loved watching Travis craft…

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… and paint on a digital computer.

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Whoops, she was sleeping by the time we were at an art gallery down the street! But that’s the other great thing about field trips with your 4-month-old. They still nap easily on the go, and hopefully she soaked up some of the ambiance.

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Another place to take baby at this age? A sporting event! This can mean a local high school game, or a minor league stadium, both of which are family-friendly. In our case, we hit up a local tennis expo.

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Another great option is a local market. We love our town’s farmers’ market, so I was thrilled to learn an indoor version is held in winter.

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Both kids loved this; Veronika got to take in the sights and smells – vibrant red apples, the yeasty aroma of fresh-baked bread – and Travis got a morning of culinary exploration and taste testing. Many markets – including ours – also feature musical entertainment, so check your local listings.

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Finally, we headed to a garden center. As with the farmers’ market, there were so many sights and smells here for a baby to soak in.

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We got lucky that the annual flower show had just opened, and was divided into areas featuring each of the five senses. Veronika got to smell flowers up close…

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…pause to hear waterfalls splashing in the “sound” area…

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…and marvel at butterflies and colors in the “sight” portion.

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Where else have you taken your little one? Please share in the comments!

Comb Waterbending

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Hive mind! Travis and I need your help with this one. We set out to do some science, which unfortunately didn’t work. The idea is to use polarity to make water bend, using nothing more than a comb, a ruler, and some freshly-shampooed hair. But our water stayed straight – rats! So will this work for you?

First, we turned the faucet on to just a thin stream, and placed a ruler across the sink for an accurate test – the water hit right about the 6 inch mark.

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We held the comb up to the water, to ensure we were starting with no bend to the water stream.

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Travis was fresh from the bath, so we ran the comb through his just-washed hair to generate static. These negative particles should then attract the positive particles in the water, which kids will be familiar with if they understand magnets and “opposites attract.”

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Online testers of this experiment seemed to have no trouble, saying the comb bent the water stream as much as 3 inches! But we saw no movement.

Did his hair need to be dry? We waited for it to air-dry, then tested again. Still no movement.

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Knowing that it was static we were after, we then tried running the comb through a blanket right out of the dryer – one that was full of static! And still our water didn’t bend.

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So, posting this game here for my readers in the hopes that someone else has better luck. If so, what worked? Can you figure out why? We’re eager to make the water bend next time!