Balancing on a Ball

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The last time I put Veronika on a beach ball, she was only about three months old, and the goal was to strengthen her core muscles.

Today’s time on the ball was for a slightly different purpose, more about learning where her body is in space.

Say what? This is a funny concept for grown-ups; of course you know where your hands and feet and limbs are! But it’s all new to babies, and at six months old, they still have to look at their hands to know where those hands are and where to put them. Moving around on a ball will help strengthen spacial awareness. And of course the sooner baby knows where his or her hands are, the sooner he or she can reach out to grab things like toys or oh, all those yummy bites of food they’re old enough for now!

Today’s activity was simple then. I put Veronika on a ball, holding her firmly around the middle, and rocked her back and forth.

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And side to side.

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She seemed a little surprised at times, but soon warmed up with big smiles.

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If you don’t have a beach ball, try a yoga stability ball, or even a big sibling’s toy ball hopper.

Set the Alarm

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When your baby is a newborn (i.e. the fourth trimester), naps are all over the place. But now at six months old, those naps should hopefully be a bit more predictable. Even Veronika, who naps when and where she can on big brother’s schedule, has settled into a routine of 3 naps a day – a quick morning one, a longer one late morning, and a third one mid-afternoon to get her through to the evening.

One secret about naps is that they are reliably 45 minutes long, unless a baby is startled awake. Why? Because that’s the length of a sleep cycle. When a baby matures enough to fall back asleep, that 45 minutes turns into a full 90 minute nap. That gives you lots of time, if you use it wisely!

And I hear you busy parents; naps are crucial for getting things done! But they’re also crucial for self-care. I’m as guilty as the rest, so here’s a new trick I’m implementing: Set an alarm for 30 minutes, then take time to relax.

She’s out! Time to set the timer.

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For those 30 minutes, I power through whatever needs to get done: bills, writing, cleaning, organizing, you name it. But when the 30 minutes are up, it’s time to relax.

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That might mean having a cup of tea, or reading a book. For me, it’s usually a pot of coffee and a magazine. And then if I’m lucky and she stirs at the 45 minute mark, I can take her in my arms and she might – just might! – settle back in for a second 45 minutes on me. Which is the best.

Travis vs. Veronika

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If you have more than one child, six months old is a great age to take stock of a few things. I thought it would be fun to look through the monthly photos I’d taken of each kid and do a side-by-side comparison. Looking through the pix will be fun for the whole family, too.

I printed wallet-sized sets of the pictures so I could put them in a book for both kids to enjoy. Let’s take a peak!

Here they are at birth, each one only hours old.

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Little 1 month olds!

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2 months old – I feel like their little personalities are starting to show up in their expressions.

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It looks like I have a thing for pastel pants at 3 months old!

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But I definitely didn’t plan it that way!

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And for navy blue at 4 months old.

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By 5 months, I can really see the boy Travis will become.

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Will the same hold true for Veronika?

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And finally, my 6 month old kiddos:

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It was also interesting to go back and make a few notes on when they each reached milestones. For instance, I found in my baby journal that Travis first rolled at only 2 months – but he only rolled sporadically thereafter. Veronika, on the other hand, waited until she was 4 months old – but then she never stopped, and spent all her time on her tummy!

Veronika was the first one to sit, just before her 6 month birthday. It took Travis longer, until nearly 8 months before he was truly stable on his own. Some other differences? Travis’s first food was pea puree; Veronika’s was banana mash. Travis was 6 lb 3 ounces at birth; Veronika was 6 pounds 11 oz.

It was adorable to go through the pictures with the kids during snuggle time.

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We’ll see how they compare with crawling and walking and other milestones, as time goes on!


Bubbling Bath Fizzies

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If you’re still wondering what to make for grandmas, moms, aunts, or any other special mother-figure this mother’s day, Travis and I have got you covered with this treat for the toes from Highlights magazine. The gift is equal parts craft and science, which makes it a fantastic way to engage kids in the spirit of gift-giving.

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In a large craft bin, Travis mixed up the following ingredients:

1 cup baking soda

1/2 cup citric acid

1/2 cup Epsom salts

3/4 cup corn starch

Make sure to tell your child that the mixture isn’t edible, even though most of the ingredients are, especially if you’re used to cooking together!

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In a small bowl, we whisked together 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon water. Add the liquids to the mixture slowly, stirring until combined. Kids will want to wear goggles (or sunglasses, in a pinch!) to protect their eyes, since it will bubble as you stir.

We also added blue food coloring for a pretty tint and a few drops of vanilla extract for a nice smell. The downside was that this made our mixture a little too liquidy (you want it to be slightly dry and crumbly). It seemed all right at first, but as our bath bombs dried, they puffed out. Note Travis in his too-cool-for-school sunglasses, ha!

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Use an ice cream scoop to scoop out each portion, and pack down tightly. Gently release onto a paper towel and let dry for a full 24 hours.

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Package the bath bombs in any pretty tissue paper or parchment paper.

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We also added a little gift tag with instructions for treating those tootsies!

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And of course we saved one to test out at home! Travis loved watching it fizz, before putting his feet in to soak. Don’t forget to give a quick explanation of why it all fizzes up – the baking soda and citric acid reacting together once in water, of course, which releases CO2 gas (ergo, bubbles).

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