Technicolor Tartlets

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For Travis’s second Cook the Rainbow Raddish Kids recipe, we made desserts with all the colors of the rainbow! The tarts are prepared in this month’s keepsake: silicone tart pans in fun, bold colors.

First, we prepared the crust: in a stand mixer, we combined 1/2 cup Earth Balance butter, 1/3 cup powdered sugar, 1 and 1/4 cups flour, and 1/4 teaspoon salt Beat for about 2 minutes; the dough should be starting to clump.

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Divide the dough evenly among the 4 tartlet pans – about 1/2 cup per pan – and pat with your fingers to press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pans. Travis preferred watching me do this step. Our dough was quite crumbly, and I think we needed just a touch more butter.

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Use a fork to prick the bottom of each crust 8 times. Good counting practice! Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for 18 minutes. Let cool.

Meanwhile, we made the filling: in a stand mixer, combine 1/2 cup softened non-dariy cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until combined.

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Spoon the filling evenly into the cooled crusts, and spread to the edges with a spatula.

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To prepare our fruit topping, we sliced 4 strawberries, cut 1/2 cup green grapes in half, cut canned pineapple rings into pieces, drained a can of mandarin oranges, andd measured out a 1/4 cup of blueberries. Travis loved helping rinse all the fruits!

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We lined these up in a rainbow row – and needed to taste some fruit, of course.

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The recipe instructions suggested several ways to top our tartlets. First, we made a classic rainbow, of course.

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The second version featured a pattern shape, sort of like a star.

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For the third we made a glaze: microwave 2 tablespoons jelly with 1 tablespoon water for 30 seconds, and brush over the tart.

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For the final tart, we stacked the fruit up to add height to it.

 

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They looked so pretty all together!

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As we dined, we colored in the Rainbow Challenge card that came with this month’s kit – how many days will it take Travis to fill in his rainbow?

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Thanks to this dessert, he already had one mark for every color.

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Update: It took about 11 days for Travis to fill in his full rainbow – quite a proud accomplishment!

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Play the Pots and Pans

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A few days ago, the family formed an impromptu band and entertained Veronika. Today it was her turn to play! Make sure your child is sitting comfortably for this game; if he or she can’t sit unsupported yet, add a pillow so there’s no falling over near the “drums”!

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I set out a few small pots, and gave her a variety of tools with which she could make percussive sounds. We had fun testing the differences between each one.

The whisk was soft but very metallic.

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The wooden spoon made a fun boom boom.

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You can even hit the pans with a baby rattle or plastic spoon! And of course I demonstrated simply drumming with my hand.

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In all honesty, Veronika had way more fun putting each item in her mouth than drumming with them.

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But she looked so pleased every time she made a sound by accident.

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Drum drum drum!

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Invisible Graffiti

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Let’s face it: Kids are sometimes drawn to things that are taboo, and sometimes it’s good to have an outlet for that naughtiness…but without the consequences!

That’s where this adorable game fits in, allowing kids to have the thrill of painting “graffiti,” but without any visible evidence.

First, I cut an artist’s palette for Travis out of cardboard.

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Paint on circles of color (ideally in as many colors of the rainbow as you can) using nail polish. This will make the “paint” look shiny even once it dries.

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I let Travis have a second piece of cardboard and permission to paint with the nail polish, because this was an added element of fun.

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(Note: I love the shades from the No Miss brand, which are free of all the yucky stuff like formaldehyde and also cruelty-free.

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Now it was time to set my graffiti artist loose! We headed out in the morning sunshine to make trouble. Here he is heading over to paint the fence.

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Travis “painted” all over the bushes, and the patio.

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Can’t you just see the glee?

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He loved finding places to add his graffiti.

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Uh oh, littering!

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In sum, he had a blast getting his naughtiness out with this game. And the best part is that there is no mess left over.

 

Have a Play Date at Home

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One thing little babies often see very little of? Other little babies!

This can be true whether your child is your first born, and thus most often in the company of adults, or if he or she is a second child, who gets to see lots of big kids, but probably not so many small ones.

One great way to introduce your baby to another baby is to host a playdate at home – this will be much less overwhelming than a group class, even though there are plenty of organized activities at local libraries or gyms for babies about 6 months and older.

So today, Veronika and I played hostess!

The babies loved checking each other out, reaching out cautious hands and staring at each other with big smiles. Hey, somebody else my size! Veronika seemed to say.

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We set up a bigger-than-usual tummy time station with some favorite toys where the two babies could look at each other as they got in their exercise and play – built in visual stimulation!

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It turns out Veronika was fussier than normal during our playdate, perhaps sensing that something was different. But eventually both babies were contentedly playing on mommy’s laps, chewing on toys and vocalizing to each other. Perhaps they even understand each other’s gurgles and coos!

Meanwhile this is a great way for you as a parent to connect one-on-one with a family member or friend whose child is close in age to yours. I guarantee that you will have lots to bond about!

Easy Backyard Spy Fort

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Travis has been into being either a secret agent or a ninja lately – so we needed a proper screen from which he could spy on the goings-on about the neighborhood, of course!

Plant two lengths of PVC pipe into the ground, spaced wide enough apart for an old pillowcase to drape over both. I bought pre-cut lengths of pipe at Home Depot that were two feet long, but wish I had opted for longer – we really had to crouch behind our fort!

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Cut an eye hole in the pillow case, then slip over the PVC frame.

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You can now camouflage your fort with paint. If you want to be sneaky, make sure to paint in shades of brown and green. Mostly though, we just had fun painting on this novel canvas, so our colors were perhaps a bit too bright for any actual hiding.

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Now see what you can see!

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As mentioned, our fort was quite low to the ground, which made spying tough. But Travis liked peeking through at all the activity going on down below. This fort would also work great for games of hide and seek, at least with younger kids!

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Teach Your Cat to High-Five

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Here is an adorable challenge from Travis’s Highlights magazine: Can you teach your cat a trick? Travis was gamely up for trying, and although we didn’t exactly succeed, our cat was an eager participant! It was a great way to engage my son with our companion animal in a new way – cat and boy both enjoyed it!

The goal was to teach our cat, Krishna, to high-five with his paw touching our hand.

Hold a cat treat in your right hand.

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Hold your left hand up just slightly above the cat’s head, as if you’re waiting for a high-five. Now hover the hand with the treat in front of that. The cat will (hopefully) paw for the treat.

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We gave praise, and then tried again, over the course of a few days!

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Okay, so we never got a paw to palm, since Krishna wanted to go in each time with his nose. But it was fun to have his nose nuzzle up to the palm.

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In sum, what great inter-species play! Has your child ever taught the family dog or cat a trick? Please share in the comments.

Dropping Game

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Here’s a game that’s sure to make your baby giggle, but little will he or she realize there are valuable skills being taught, too! The game covers everything from the concepts of in and out to the fine motor skills needed for retrieving an object.

I placed a plastic beach bucket in front of Veronika, and gathered up a few soft toys.

For each one, I dangled it over the bucket, making sure she saw it first.

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Then I dropped it into the bucket with a big grin and an “oopsy!” This got giggles of course!

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Once the bucket was filled, I encouraged her to pull the items out again.

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This proved to be tricky because she was way more interested in the bucket (a novelty!) than the toys she already knows.

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But we did have a few successful pickups. The apple goes in…

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…and comes out!

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This is definitely a game I’d play again; I love simple activities like this that make me pay careful attention to her skills and really zero in on her development, even for a short period, during an otherwise hectic day.

 

Carbon Footprint Calculator

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We have a family tradition of heading out on Earth Day to pick up trash, whether just as a family or by joining a group, as we did today at a local preserve. I’ve posted the details in the past, so here’s just a quick blog today on a quiz we received from Raddish Kids.We loved the way this made us think about how we can do even better for the Earth in the future.

First, Travis learned what a carbon footprint is, and how carbon dioxide contributes to the warming of the planet. We went through the quiz and answered questions like how we get to school (a car – our worst answer, at 4 points!) and what we mostly eat at home (vegetables – yay, we scored a 1).

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After tallying your score, you can zero in on areas for improvement as a family. For example, our new goal is to reduce the number of trash bags we take out each week.

What will your family do for the Earth this year? Please share in the comments!

Form an Impromptu Band

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I love musical play with babies – they take to it so readily! Today, we struck up a band for Veronika as a family, using two types of instruments: real ones that we’ve accumulated over the years, and some improvised ones, too.

Because what is a pot and spoon if not a drum?

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Or a rolled piece of paper if not a horn? Big brother Travis loved the way this one sounded.

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We got jamming and handed Veronika instruments to play, too.

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Travis found a new way to play on this pot – with a kazoo as the mallet!

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Then we shifted our focus from playing the instruments to dancing to some tunes.

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Wiggling is such a funny thing for babies both to see and feel. Set your music player to Music Together’s “Wiggle” and, well, wiggle! I wiggled my fingers, my arms, my legs.

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Travis got into the moves wiggling his whole body.

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By the time we wiggled Veronika’s own toes and fingers, she was giggling with delight. Wiggle your hands all over baby’s body, too, for more giggles.

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Don’t forget to just pick up your baby and get your whole bodies into the rhythm. We danced from room to room.

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Now that she’s older, the dance moves can be more active than those with a newborn; we went up and down, spun around, stepped back and forth, you name it. Dance it up!

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Eggheads

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Got leftover plastic Easter eggs? We’ve got you covered! This cute little gardening project will use up any spares you have lying around.

We borrowed a real egg carton from the festivities at a relative’s house, and took it home to set up the project.

Twist plastic eggs until the top breaks off. Discard the tops and draw faces on the bottom. I gave Travis free reign for this part, and loved seeing the “expressions” he came up with.

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Next, we scooped potting soil into each egg. Cover your work surface because this part might get messy!

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Sprinkle a little grass seed into each egg.

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Now place them somewhere sunny and wait! Be sure to water daily. I’ll update this post when our “eggheads” sprout “hair”!

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Update: Our heads have hair! How adorable are these little eggheads?

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