Farmers’ Market Corn and Peach Salad

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This salad is the direct result of a trip to the farmer’s market. I hesitate to give an exact recipe, since the hope is that you tailor your family’s meal after what you find at your market! So consider the recipe below as a guideline only.

We set out with the intention of making a Corn, Nectarine, and Blueberry Salad that I’d spotted in a magazine, and I printed Travis a picture of each ingredient we hoped to find. This turned it into a neat scavenger hunt.

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Any similar hunt will be a great way to engage kids with the market and the sellers! If you don’t have exact ingredients in mind, then challenge your kids to find things you spot along the way: “Find me a root vegetable” or “Find me something red!” you can say.

Don’t forget to check out the other fun that a farmers’ market has to offer while you’re there.

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Travis got to sample fresh lemonade, pick out a toy made from organic catnip for our cat, check out homemade crafts, and more. Nibbling a bite of fresh basil was a must!

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Babies love the scents and sounds of a farmers’ market, too, so consider adding this to your summer hit-list of baby field trips!

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As it turns out, we couldn’t locate everything on our scavenger hunt ingredient list, but we did find perfect corn, and the biggest scallions we’d ever seen!

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So when we got home, we improvised the salad. We had beautiful local peaches in place of the nectarines, and no blueberries (but the salad was just fine without them!), and added lots more basil and scallions than called for since we had a big bounty. I present to you, our Farmers Market Corn and Peach Salad.

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Ingredients:

  • 3 ears fresh corn
  • 2 peeled and chopped ripe peaches
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lime juice
  1. Cut the kernels from the corn cobs and place in a large bowl.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.

DIY Star Wars Sun Prints

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Travis has been obsessed with Star Wars lately, so we used a favorite summer art activity (sun prints) to make DIY room decor!

Print out templates of your child’s favorite characters heads. Favorites around here include Darth Vader and Kylo Ren, but many of the character’s heads or helmets will make iconic shadows.

Cut out the templates and place on colored construction paper. Set in the sun for at least a few hours – the longer the better!

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Travis loved the shadowy images we achieved and proudly hung them in his room.

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Don’t forget you can play this game with plenty of other objects, too. Cookie cutters make cute decor for Veronika’s side of the room.

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Crawl Space Race

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Big brother’s toys are so tempting to Veronika, but I usually keep her in a safe playroom filled only with baby toys. When she manages to break free into the hallway, she looks immensely satisfied with herself. Today, I indulged her desire for freedom and turned it into a little game. Here comes trouble…

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Definitely only play this game with toys that are safe for a baby even if they belong to a big sibling. We set up a few large superheroes as the grand prize. You can cover them with a blanket or basket for extra excitement.

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Travis knelt down next to Veronika until I gave the green light. And they’re off!

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She had no idea she was having a race, of course, she was just having a blast! Meanwhile, Travis had the thrill of a chase and the satisfaction of winning.

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Now it was Veronika versus mommy! I crawled along at her pace to her absolute delight, and we reached the toys together.

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You can also deliberately let your baby crawl ahead of you, which gives you the chance to tickle little toes.

There are lots of variations on this game. Introduce silly concepts like “The last one there is a rotten egg!” or have the race be to a person instead of a toy.

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What games do you play with your little crawler? Please share in the comments!

Refresh Your Wardrobe

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Today’s activity is one of those for mama, not baby. The goal: to refresh your wardrobe.

I knew I needed this challenge! My go-to dresses all summer have been the same ones I wore last summer (i.e. maternity clothes) because they are loose and are perfect for nursing. But it was also nice to think about shopping for clothes that were just for my body, not for a body that’s pregnant or lactating.

I headed off to the mall, but somehow this didn’t feel right, too indulgent. At least Veronika was napping so the mall was a nice cool place for it!

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I kept getting distracted by baby stores; I was out of the habit of indulging myself since I only buy kids’ clothes these days!

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I backtracked to a local store, because it always feels good to shop local. Veronika was awake now, and loved playing in the dressing room.

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And mama got a little wardrobe refresh after all. In sum, take the time to do these things for yourself. Baby gets a fun outing, and you get to practice some self-care.

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Meteor Meatballs

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These meatballs were the second recipe in Travis’s cosmic cuisine-themed Raddish Kids, meant to mimic meteors from space (and get it meat-ier meatballs?). We made ours with Raddish’s excellent vegan suggestion for chickpeas in place of chicken.

To start, Travis helped peel 3 cloves of garlic. I minced them and we put in a large bowl. Finely chop 1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves and add to the garlic.

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Next I showed him how to grate zucchini against a box grater; he loved it! Add 1 cup to the garlic mixture, along with 2/3 cup canned or frozen corn.

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Next we made a flax egg: whisk 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed into 3 tablespoons water and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir into the zucchini mixture, along with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.

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Add 1/4 cup vegan Parmesan sprinkles and 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs. Finally, drain 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas and pulse in a food processor until crumbly. Add to the mixture. Time to get messy! I was so proud of Travis, getting his hands right in there to mush it up, and I showed him how to roll a meatball.

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Arrange the meatballs on a baking sheet covered with foil and greased with cooking spray. Bake at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes.

Travis ate – I kid you not! – half of the recipe in one sitting. This either means he’s having a growth spurt or speaks directly to how awesome the meatballs are. Or both! We served with onion ring “Saturn rings” for a fun veggie side dish.

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As he dined, we read the recipe card facts about various space rocks (meteoroids versus comets etc.), and learned a bit more about meals in space for astronauts.

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For a little dessert fun, we repeated an old favorite: marshmallow constellations!

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All you need are marshmallows (try Dandie’s for a vegan brand) and toothpicks. This time, I really challenged Travis to follow along with a provided diagram and piece together one of the simpler star formations.

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After some puzzling, he was able to put together Libra!

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Meanwhile, mommy worked on some intricate ones, like Ursa Major and Scorpius.

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Travis then decided he preferred to make his own, and soon had this stick person constellation.

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Don’t forget to clean up – by eating them, of course.

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Express Emotions

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Veronika had a tough day today. My hunch is because of teething, or perhaps a Wonder Week, but sometimes babies just have fussy days and we as parents just ride them out.

But it was a good reminder to focus on emotions, not just teaching her the positive ones, but also giving her words for the sad ones. So today, when I felt happy (or Veronika did), I made a big show of it on my own face.

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And when she was sad, I mirrored that. “You’re feeling sad,” I commiserated.

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You can do the same throughout the day (or any day!) with surprised, angry, scared, tired, or any other emotion that crosses your baby’s face. Here she is a bit worried by loud noises.

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If you’re looking for inspiration, flip through some children’s magazines or books together and point out the various emotions.

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Either way, it’s healthy for your little one to learn about all these emotions. And maybe a happy face in a book will cheer Veronika up!

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Summer Baby Field Trips

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If it’s your baby’s first summer, you may be hesitant to get out and about in the heat. But here are a few of my suggestions for places that – yes! – you can take baby. Veronika is 9 months old for all of the ideas below, but you can adapt them for your child from birth on up.

Head to the Pool:

Ideally, there will be a kiddie area with shallow water where you and your baby can sit together. Worst case scenario, camp out on the shallowest step.

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Veronika loved hanging out here, kicking her feet and dipping her hands in the water. Bigger kids brought her a few pool toys, which made fantastic teething rings.

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Tips: Make sure to stay in the shade as soon as you’re out of the water and dried off, and come prepared with plastic baggies (for wet bathing suits), swim diapers, regular diapers, a change of clothes, and snacks or milk (depending on age).

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If you’re inclined to go deeper, take baby in your arms to swish around; babies love this feeling of weightlessness.

Butterfly Garden:

We stopped by a small butterfly garden that’s been in our local area for almost 30 years. The wonder in Veronika’s eyes was immediate as she watched the butterflies swirl and dance above her.

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One landed on her shoulder and it was pure magic. She looked over at me after watching this one, as if to make sure I saw it too.

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She also loved just touching the plants and bright flowers.

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There are so many colors and scents for a baby in this experience! Just make sure you help keep little fingers away from the delicate insects themselves.

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Tips: Go early (right at opening is ideal!). Many places like this will host camp groups in the summer, and I wanted her to marvel at the butterflies without lots of kids in the way. We were lucky to share the room with only two other families.

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Also, consider leaving the stroller behind. She was much more into it when she was out where she could swivel her head and take in the butterflies from all directions.

Admire New Construction:

Big trucks are fascinating to babies and for good reason! There’s noise, there’s movement, there’s lifting, there’s digging. Veronika and I stopped by a local street that’s been under construction all season. There goes whirly swirly cement truck!

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She had no idea what was coming around the corner, but grinned once she saw this bulldozer go by.

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Tips: If the noise is too loud for your little one, consider standing far back, or investing in Baby Banz.

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There will still be plenty of movement and excitement to observe from far back, without overwhelming the senses. Also, try to go on a day that’s not too hot, or when you can be in the shade, since construction sites tend to be sun-drenched dusty places.

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Botanical Garden:

Don’t think your baby will be bored in a place with no toys; as with the butterfly garden, the draw here is for all the senses.

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There are bold colors to take in visually; the feel of wind on hair or sunshine on skin or grass on toes; and of course the smell of pretty flowers.

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Many botanical gardens can be overwhelmingly large, so either find a small one or stick to a small area.

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If allowed, lay down a picnic blanket and spread out a few toys or books to read together and make a little afternoon of it.

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Tips: Just because you’re not at a pool or beach, don’t forget a big sunhat and sunscreen. Also make sure to bring along bug spray, especially if garden trails lead through wooded or shady areas.

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Animal Fun:

I don’t take my kids to zoos, but I love exposing Veronika to animals through local sanctuaries. Although we’ve visited such farms in the past, today she was very alert and focused on the animal’s behavior. She loved watching the chickens and roosters.

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Their crowing startled her a little, but she was fascinated watching them take dirt baths or roost up high.

She also loved the cows! For each animal we marveled at, I reminded her of their noises. “Moo moo!”

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The sheep were enjoying a morning munch on grass, which she seemed to love.

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There’s lots of great ways to expose your baby to new vocabulary on a trip like this, too. Barns and tractors come to life, instead of being abstracts in a board book!

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Tips: Go in the morning. Animals will be more active before the hottest part of the day, and your baby will notice movements more than sleeping animals.

Where have you taken your baby this summer? Please share in the comments!

Faces of the Moon

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If you’re looking for the most delicious way under the sun (er, moon!) to teach your kid the names for all the moon’s different phases, this quick lesson plan from Raddish Kids has you covered. Hint: It involves Oreo cookies.

But before I let Travis eat cookies, we focused on a little moon information. I asked Travis what he pictured when he thought about the sky; he came up with ‘blue’ and ‘clouds’. Two great daytime picks! But what about focusing on the nighttime sky, I asked him.

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We watched two quick background videos on moon phases and I also made him a chart (which earned a “thanks Mom!”). This was his first introduction to some great science words, like waxing, waning, and gibbous.

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Now it was time to show him the moon phases with three neat projects.

To make the first, a moon phase viewer, cut a black rectangle from construction paper. Fold the paper in half and open back up again. Cut a white square from white construction paper that fits in the folded black rectangle, leaving a long tab on either end so you can pull the white paper side to side.

Trace a coin on the black paper, pressing firmly so the imprint is visible on the white paper below as well. Cut out both circles.

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Now line up your viewer and slide the white paper to see it change from gibbous to half to crescent to new and back again!

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For the second moon viewer, you’ll need two plastic cups. Glue or tape a yellow circle onto black construction paper and insert into one plastic cup; tape into place.

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On the second cup, label a place for full, waning half, new, and waxing half moons. Now rotate your yellow circle and color over it with black sharpie as appropriate to form each moon phase, leaving the full moon with no sharpie. Travis loved spinning this one!

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The third version is where he had the real fun! I set out eight cookies (we like Newman O’s) on a diagram and it was Travis’s job to scrape the right amount of frosting off each to form the eight phases.

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Needless to say, there was much nibbling along with the scraping!

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I had to help him with some of the trickier ones (gibbous, crescents), but he was a pro at half and new moon.

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We finished off with a read of The Moon Book by Gail Gibbons.

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Consider making craters in a clay moon if your kids want to continue the fun!

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Eat the Alphabet

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What better way to conclude an almost-kindergartner’s summer alphabet lessons than to eat your way through it? Each day for 26 days at snack time, I gave Travis a food starting with a letter, in alphabetical order. He had to make that letter first, then – yum – gobble it up! Without further ado, Travis nibbled his way through:

A for apples

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B for banana slices

Eat Alph B

C for cereal

Eat Alph C

D for dates

Eat Alph D

E for eggplant

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F for Fritos

Eat Alph F

G for grapes

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H for Hippies (chickpea puffs)

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I for ice cream cone

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J for Jelly

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K for kiwi

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L for licorice

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M for marshmallows

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N for nuts

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O for Oreo cookies

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P for pretzels

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Q for quesadilla

R for raspberries

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S for Sour Patch kids

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T for Twizzlers

U for Utz chips

V for vanilla cookies

W for watermelon

X for two crossed carrot stix

Y for yams

and Z for zucchini

Suitcase Sandbox

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If you’re hesitant to bring your baby to the beach during his or her first summer, then bring the beach to your baby! This little activity is one step up from the sand sensory play I did when Veronika when she was only 6 months old.

This time, I found an old craft suitcase and completely filled the bottom with sand. Any old suitcase with hard sides would work fine for this purpose! I briefly considered that bigger might have been better, but the small one had an added bonus: I could do the entire activity in the tub, making for fantastically easy clean-up.

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I stripped Veronika down to a diaper and sat her in the sand. Beach day!

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The most fun was burying her hands and feet and then helping her uncover them. She loved just kicking her legs in the sand, although looked confused by the grittiness, too.

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I sprinkled some over her upturned palms, but found that in general it was best to keep the sensory play to her feet, so she didn’t eat any sand.

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After a time, she seemed frustrated by the small box so I moved her to the side.

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I loved watching her reach in and draw patterns in the sand.

To clean up, simply close the suitcase and save it for next time! Any extra sand that had spilled was simply rinsed down the tub drain.

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