Personal Picture Book

Personal Book (4)

Sure, there are lots of books you can read to your baby from the library or the bookstore. But don’t forget you can also make your own!

Personal Book (3)

Since babies at Veronika’s age (7 months old) are primarily interested in the visuals, it’s fun to make a book with no words. I used images cut from magazines and catalogs, but your own photos can work well, too! Since the story has no words, you can change it up every time.

Personal Book (1)

I chose simple images, limited somewhat by which magazines I had around to cut up. Soon we had stories about a butterfly who moved into a house and then…

Personal Book (2)

Just use your imagination from there!

Personal Picture Book var

Try to find photos that depict familiar objects. As we “read” about the desk and chair in the story, for example, I took her over to the desk and chair in our apartment and pointed out that they were the same.

Personal Book (5)

Same goes for the picture of a little girl in our story. “Girl,” I told her, and pointed to the picture and then to Veronika. “Same!”

Personal Picture Book alt.JPG

This book is also great because a big sibling can “read” it to the baby, even if not yet a reader! I loved looking over to see Travis was making up stories for her.

Personal Book alt

In sum, a great idea, and we’ll be adding to our “story” as I cut up more catalogs.

Personal Book (6)

Building Familiarity

Build Familiarity (1)

Seven months old is right about when “stranger danger” kicks in, and this cute activity might help your little one conquer it. Since I had to leave Veronika with her grandmother for a short while today, it was the perfect chance to prep her for a few hours without me!

To build familiarity, we returned to a photo album we made when Veronika was younger. Point out faces of friends and family members before you see them, and then return to the pictures after to reinforce who was who.

Today, Grammy is coming over to visit!

Build Familiarity (2)

She loved going through the pictures with me.

Build Familiarity (3)

Ok, so there were still tears while I was away, but hopefully each time we do this activity, her comfort level will increase. Familiar surroundings can help, or – if you are meeting up with family outside of the home – bring along a favorite toy!

Build Familiarity (4)

Be a Food Historian

Food Historian (8)

Of all the lessons that have accompanied Travis’s Raddish Kids recipes so far, this one was the least accessible to a preschooler. I did my best to adapt it for Travis and it turned out to be sort of his first social studies project!

First, I set out some of the Thai ingredients we had used in our recipes and grocery store hunt, and invited Travis to test them out with all his senses. He was almost scared by the smell of little bird chiles!

Food Historian (2)

And incidentally loves soy sauce plain. Invite your child to taste, smell, and touch if appropriate, and add items like lemongrass, sugar, lime juice, or ginger.

Food Historian (3)

Big kids can go in depth here into the history of Thai food and learn that being a food historian is a real job; however, the suggested links from Raddish were heavy on text rather than video.

Instead, I showed Travis images of a few other iconic food/country pairs, including:

  • Tacos & Mexico
  • Baguettes & France
  • Sushi & Japan
  • Pizza & Italy

Food Historian (4)

I then asked him which he wanted to explore more in-depth. He’s been very into Japan lately (ninjas, in particular), so chose that pairing. Again, there were many suggested links to web resources for big kids, but these were text-heavy and not of interest to my preschooler.
Instead, we located Japan on a world map. We then thought of a few things he knew about the country and printed out pictures of each.

Food Historian (6)

He helped write the word ‘Japan’ across the top, and we glued down the pictures.

Food Historian (7)

Voila! His first social studies project. I was proud he stuck with me for this lesson, which ultimately ended up being quite cute.

Food Historian (9)


Make a Weekly Survival Hit List

Weekly Hit List (9)

Today’s activity with baby was another one of those more for the parent; I’m constantly on the hunt for the best and most efficient way to organize my mind, our days, our weeks. I have several methods for planning the family’s week, but it always feels a bit scattered.

For events, there’s my day planner, with a column for each person. I highly recommend this – or at least a color-coded system – so you can quickly see not just what the event is but who needs to be where and when.

Weekly Hit List (2)

Next there’s my method to plan weekly meals. My best advice for menu planning is: don’t wing it! Especially with Veronika now eating a varied menu each week, I plan meals ahead of time in a spreadsheet. When it comes time to make a grocery list, the info is already there!

Weekly Hit List (5)

Then I write up daily meals on a wipe-clean board. No out of sight out of mind here!

Weekly Hit List (1)

But I still don’t have a way to string it all together in one place, and I’ve been searching online for inspiration from the bullet journal (bujo) crowd, which I tested briefly with Veronika’s schedule.

Here is one method I liked, laying everything out on a page:

Weekly Hit List (8)

There’s a column for appointments, housework, blogs or work-related items, a meal section, and then of course the Hit List for the week’s important to-dos.

Weekly Hit List (6)

Each item gets a dash when incomplete, which turns into a plus sign once done.

Weekly Hit List (7)

I’ll test this for a week or so, and see if it manages to combine my disparate organization methods thus far. What does your weekly hit list look like? Please share in the comments!

Peach Popsicles

Peach Popsicle a

Happy Memorial Day and unofficial start to summer! We’re kicking things off with this pretty peach popsicle recipe, perfect for cooling down poolside or wherever you may be on this holiday!


  • 2 cups frozen peaches
  • 10 ounces unsweetened hemp milk
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.
  2. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze until set. Unmold and enjoy!

Peach Popsicle b

Mini Gym

Mini Gym (8)

Whatever your baby’s latest gross motor skill milestone is, this cute gym session will have him or her giggling! It can be a Mini Rolling Gym, a Mini Sitting Gym, or a Mini Crawling Gym. The key is to get down on your baby’s level and show them the actions, which will serve both as a model and as a game!

Mini Gym (1)

Veronika is already a roller, but first for some review I lay down next to her. Well she thought this was just the greatest.

Mini Gym (2)

I rolled away from her…

Mini Gym (3)

…which soon had her rolling to me. This was a nice refresher because she’s so busy sitting up these days, she sort of forgets to roll when I put her on her back.

Our next gym session was planks (okay, tummy time). She loved having me down at elbow level with her.

Mini Gym (4)

Next I started to crawl in circles around her. This is probably the next gross motor skill that Veronika will master, since she’s currently kicking with legs and pushing up on her arms, but not quite able to put it all together yet.

Mini Gym (6)

She looked like she wanted to chase after me!

Mini Gym (10)

I then sat her up, placed a few favorite toys just out of reach, and mimed reaching for them. Soon she was copying me.

Mini Gym (9)

In short, we both got in a little workout, and lots of giggles!

Mini Gym (7)

Purr-fect Pancakes

Purr Pancakes (3)

These kitty-faced pancakes are the purr-fect way to kick off Memorial Day weekend (or any leisurely morning) to set the tone for a lazy summer ahead. After all, no one nails the art of napping quite like a cat. In sum, this fun twist on pancakes had Travis grinning.

Prepare a batch of your favorite pancakes – orĀ  heck, just use a mix!

Purr Pancakes (1)

We spread our pancakes with about 1 tablespoon maple syrup to help our fruit faces “glue” on.

Purr Pancakes (2)

Add ears, noses, mouths, eyes, and don’t forget the whiskers! Ideally we would have used blueberries for the eyes, but a certain sous-chef ate them all up.

Purr Pancakes (4)

Please share your animal face pancakes in the comments!


Have Breakfast Together

Breakfast Together (5).JPG

All too often on weekdays, we eat breakfast in a rush and then it’s time to get everybody ready ready ready and out the door. On weekends, consider making breakfast feel extra special for your baby, even from a young age. This will help set the tone for the day and create bonding moments for your family. At almost seven months old, I can finally make Veronika and big brother Travis the same recipe – and mom and dad can enjoy this one, too!

The night before, prepare the apricot puree:

Combine 3 and 1/2 ounces dried apricots and 8 ounces water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 8 minutes, until soft. Transfer to a food processor and process until smooth. Let cool, then refrigerate overnight.

Breakfast Together (1)

In the morning, prepare the oats:

In a saucepan, combine 3/4 cup rolled oats and 10 ounces hemp milk (we like unsweetened vanilla). Bring to a boil and continue to cook just until thickened, stirring frequently.

Ladle into bowls, varying the serving size depending on family member; that means about 2 tablespoons for Veronika and about 1/2 cup for big brother! Stir 1 tablespoon apricot puree into each bowlful.

Breakfast Together (2)

Now that you have your meal, enjoy each other’s company! It was a delight watching these two dine together.

Breakfast Together (7)

Veronika decided she liked eating clumps by hand rather than spoonfuls.

Breakfast Together (6)

Other meals that will fit into a Baby Led Weaning menu plus appeal to big kids include: English muffins with non-dairy cream cheese;

Biscuit Cream Cheese

Melon – cut it into strips for baby, and cubes for big kids;

Biscuits Cream Cheese alt

Muesli made with oats, non-dairy yogurt, and chia seeds;

Muesli (1).JPG

and French toast fingers!

french toast (b).JPG

For a super-easy French toast, dip slices of bread in a mixture of: 1 cup hemp milk, 1 tablespoon chia seeds, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Cook for 4 minutes on each side and serve with raspberries.

french toast (c).JPG

I also like to involve Veronika when I pause for my mid-morning snack. She loves to “share” my apple, and I always hand her my smoothie carton when I’m finished.

Breakfast Together (9)

Involving your baby in family meals right from the start will help set a great foundation for the years ahead.

Breakfast Together (3)

New Switch-It Game

New Switch It (7).JPG

In the past when I played “switch-it” games with Veronika, the idea was for her to practice letting go of a toy, dropping one in exchange for another. At just shy of 7 months, the goal this time was more sophisticated: to switch a toy from hand to hand, in order to make room for another. She aced the test!

Plastic farm animals were the perfect toy for this purpose. First I handed her a duck, which she passed hand-to-hand as she played.

New Switch It (1)

While it was in her left hand, I offered up llama, holding it up to the same hand.

New Switch It (2)

In a flash, duckie was in her right and llama was in her left!

New Switch It (3)

I praised the change she’d made, even though she didn’t entirely understand why.

New Switch It (4)

But she quickly soaked up the happy vibe and beamed proudly!

New Switch It (5)

Soon she was drumming the two animals together.

New Switch It (6)

Don’t worry if your baby doesn’t get this right away; keep practicing and soon he or she will be a hand-to-hand passing champ.

Popsicle Sticks Bow and Arrow

Bow and Arrow (9)

When your son requests a bow and arrow at 6 am on a Saturday, you pray to the craft gods that you have all the materials in your craft bin. And when in fact you do, it feels like a little miracle, especially when that includes wooden bobbins that I’d purchased only the day before for a different craft, but had never owned before. Clearly it was meant to be!

So here is the quite-complicated bow and arrow we put together. For my preschooler, it mostly meant watching mommy since it involves lots of hot glue. If your child is 8 year old and up, they can get more hands on!

First, glue together 6 jumbo craft sticks in an arc, securing at each meeting point with hot glue.

Bow and Arrow (1)

Repeat with 6 additional craft sticks for the other side of the bow. It’s very important that you line these up exactly right, or your two sides won’t glue together properly.

Bow and Arrow (2)

Although not necessary, we added reenforcements and embellishments with decorative craft sticks, making V and T shapes. Hot glue these down.

Bow and Arrow (3)

Add wooden bobbins at each of the craft stick intersections, gluing the right side of the bow to the tops of the bobbins and the left side of the bow to the bottom of the bobbins.

Bow and Arrow (4)

Ideally, we would have used a very stretchy elastic for the bow string. Since I didn’t have one that was large enough (the craft bin gods weren’t perfect!) we tied on two taut pieces of twine instead. This wasn’t ideal, but it worked in a pinch. Add duct tape around the center for a smoother arrow launch.

Bow and Arrow (5)

To prepare the arrows, insert two straws together and tape where they meet.

Bow and Arrow (8)

Hot glue a pom pom to one end and cut the other end into a V so it can notch onto your bow string. Again, what I had on hand (bendy straws) wasn’t ideal. Next time we’ll use thicker straight straws, which will make much sturdier arrows.

Bow and Arrow (6)

But my little knight/samurai/warrior now had a bow, and that was all that mattered!

Bow and Arrow (10)

We might not have had perfect launches, but we did have imaginative fun!

Bow and Arrow (11)