Laundry in the Fast Lane

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It’s getting harder to keep Veronika entertained while I do laundry, so today I upped the ante; instead of seating her next to me with her own laundry center, I put her right in the laundry basket!

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She instantly was intrigued with her new surroundings. To keep her occupied, I dropped in easy, small items – baby socks, washcloths – and soon she was playing happily with them.

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Next I played a game of peekaboo, draping a small hand towel over her head and asking, “where’s Veronika?”

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I lifted the towel for a big reveal: there she is! She loved this one.

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Now it was time to turn the laundry basket into a car.

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I zoomed her around, including back and forth to the dryer to check on a load, and announced “Pit stop!” when we came to a stop. These words got a giggle every time.

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One note of caution: big siblings are going to think this looks so fun that they’ll want a turn! Needless to say, this is one way to take the drudgery out of laundry.

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Baby’s Beef and Barley

Beef and Barley

This quick recipe is a well-balanced combo of protein, grain, and veggie for your little eater.


  • 6 Gardein beefless tips
  • 1/2 cup cooked barley
  • 4 ounces carrot puree
  1. Saute the beefless tips for about 8 minutes, until lightly browned.
  2. Mince the beef, and combine in a bowl with the barley and carrot. If you prefer, you can run the whole mixture through a food processor for younger babies.

Solar System Models

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When you’re the only mom who gets her kid up and dressed and backpack packed and lunch made and head to the bus stop and then learn that the Friday before Labor Day is apparently also a day off from school… Well then whoops, you suddenly have a day to fill!

Luckily I had this little project from Raddish Kids up my sleeve, a chance to make two models of the universe: one tiny and one huge!

First I asked Travis what planet we live on. He correctly knew Earth, and was able to name a few facts about it, like how its watery.

Raddish provided a chart to name the other planets, all of which my budding astrologer could fill in. He proudly gave me a fact about each, which I wrote down (in glittery galactic pens, of course). Filling in the column with further questions about each planet was a bit harder for him to grasp, but big kids can write in any pending querries here, as well.

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After watching a suggested video that helped him fill in a few new facts about each planet, it was time to model!

First up was the Tiny Solar System. I drew a half circle on the edge of a piece of white paper and labeled it as the sun. I drew 8 orbits, with an asteroid belt making a wide patch between the fourth and fifth lines.

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For scale models of the planets, we glued on the following:

2 sesame seeds (Mercury and Venus)

2 peppercorns (Earth and Mars)

2 cotton balls (Jupiter and Saturn)

2 coffee beans (Uranus and Neptune)

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Note: the scale obviously isn’t exact, but the idea here is that the relative sizes of the planets (the enormity of Jupiter, the tininess of Mercury) become apparent. This model also didn’t show the distance between orbits to scale.

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Travis marveled at the tiny sesame seeds. In fact they were so small we could barely see them until the glue dried!

Now for the Large Solar System! We headed out to the playground with a bag full of balls in various sizes. Travis was very curious as I collected these from around the house, but was soon to see why.

I inflated a silly starfish to be the sun and put this right in the center of a baseball diamond. (Note: A beach ball would work, too, but I liked that the starfish was a sun/star shape).

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Next we walked out a full 78 steps from the sun holding a wiffle ball as “Neptune.” This took us right to the edge of the baseball field.

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Repeat with the following:

50 steps: wiffle ball (or tennis ball): Uranus

25 steps: soccer ball: Saturn

13 steps: basketball: Jupiter

4 steps: ping pong ball (or golf ball): Mars

3 steps: ping pong ball: Earth

2 steps: marble: Venus

1 step: marble: Mercury

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This exercise is eye-opening even for a grown-up, revealing how truly close our rocky neighbor planets are, and how truly vast the distances are between the outer planets.

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I shared these fun facts with Travis to highlight the great distance across the baseball field. Each step we’d taken was equal to 36 million miles. A rover took 6 months to reach Mars, that “one step” away, but 12 years to reach Neptune! He seemed impressed, but then wanted to play soccer… There goes Saturn!

On the way home, we made up some corny space jokes.

How did Mars know what Venus was thinking? It red its mind.

Why was Jupiter so stinky? Because it passed gas.

Ha, what space joke will your kid create? Please share in the comments!

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Arrange a Musical Playdate

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Classic children’s songs are so much fun for babies. Parents will likely know the words and motions from their own childhood, making them favorites to pass down (think Itsy Bitsy Spider, Wheels on the Bus, or Open Shut Them). When you make it a group event, it’s just that much more fun!

Today, Veronika and I joined a group singing at our local library. She was thrilled to receive props like scarves and puppets as we sang to favorites like Old MacDonald Had a Farm.

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This is a great way to see other babies in action, too, playing with instruments and moving around. Our group singalong featured an assortment of rattles and shakers.

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Another fun song for movement is Row Row Row Your Boat. After we rowed our babies’ arms on the classic first verse, the library added some cute new lyrics.

Drive Drive Drive your car (move your baby’s hands like a wheel)…

Chug Chug Chug your train (elbows swinging)…


Fly Fly Fly your airplane (arms out)

At home, I made up a few more silly verses. We rowed up a river to see a polar bear shiver, up the stream to see a crocodile and scream, and to the shore to see a lion roar.

You can continue the musical fun long after group time has ended. I’m a Little Teapot is another one that’s great for gross motor movement (and props!).

I’m a little teapot

short and stout

Here is my handle (one hand on hip)

Here is my spout (other arm out straight)

When I get all steamed up

then I shout

Tip me over

and pour me out! (lean over to the side)

The tip gets a giggle very time – mommy is sideways!

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If your library doesn’t have a musical sing-along for you to attend, consider being the host for a musical playdate. Have a few friends over whose babies are about the same age, and scatter all the instruments in the middle. Parents sing while babies bop and shake along!

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3 Baby Obstacle Courses

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Veronika can’t wait to break free from “pillowville” (the name I have for the way I currently block her in the playroom with pillows; it’s time to buy baby gates!), and she’s trying to scale the pillows constantly. Today I set up a few obstacle courses to develop her gross motor skills, and boy did she have a blast.

First, I placed a very low obstacle in the center of the playroom with a few toys on top.

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This is lower than couch cushions, so it was great practice for getting her knees up and onto the top, the last piece of the puzzle for her to work out.

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She was so proud when she reached the toys!

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You can make a similar “obstacle course” for any early crawler with low pillows or bean bags to crawl across. Toys at the end as incentive always help!

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Next up was more of a cerebral obstacle course. I had her practice zigging and zagging across the room by placing a series of enticing toys.

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First she crawled to bean bags hidden under cups.

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Then she had to zig to a tower of blocks.

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A current favorite music box toy was up next. She made a beeline for it.

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She probably would happily have stopped there…

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…so I moved it to the final point of her “maze” too. As she moved towards each group of objects, we also worked on language development. “Come get the blue bean bag!” “Can you get the square block?” The activity also builds math skills, believe it or not (the geometry of zigging and zagging) and fine motor skills as baby plays with each toy along the way.

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Finally, it was time for the big girl obstacle course! For this one, I set up the couch cushions so they formed “steps” and “ramps.” I did all of this over a soft floor mat, and added blankets along the sides as added protection against any rolls.

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She needed no encouragement at all; she wanted up! She headed for the toys at the top of the first ramp, still needing a bit of a boost on her bottom.

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About half way to the toys, she got tired. This is hard work mommy!

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I encouraged her with another boost, and she made it!

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Heading down was interesting, and I spotted her along the side in case of a fall. She decided to take a side route instead.

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Once again with a little boost she reached the top.

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What great exercise!

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Moon Crater Experiment

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Travis loves learning about the moon, and specifically how its craters were made. Okay, so this “experiment” isn’t exactly accurate, but your kids will have a blast launching “asteroids” at the moon surface to make holes!

To make our moon, Travis first poured 4 cups flour into a cake pan.

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Add 1/2 cup baby oil and mix until the mixture holds together; we found that hands worked better than a spoon for this purpose. Now we had moon dust!

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Next we headed outside to the “asteroid belt!” My proud astronaut discovered a trove of pebbles and very carefully selected some to bring inside.

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Place your moon cake pan on a layer of newspaper to avoid any mess. Wouldn’t you know, there was an ad featuring a view of Earth from the moon!

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Travis began launching our “asteroids” one at a time.

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He discovered that pressing the pebbles in a bit made a better crater than simply dropping them, and experimented with the difference between dropping them from up close versus up high.

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That’s one small drop for a boy, one giant leap for imagination.

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Baby’s Beef Stew

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This three-ingredient recipe was a great way to introduce Veronika to the warm flavors of a grown-up beef stew! It was also her first taste of Gardein beefless tips. The results? A big hit!


  • 1 russet potato
  • 2 carrots
  • 9 Gardein beefless tips
  1. Peel and chop the potato and carrots; cover with water and bring to a boil. Continue to cook for 15 minutes, until very tender.
  2. Meanwhile, saute the beefless tips for about 8 minutes, until browned. Add to the pot with the potatoes and carrots for the last 10 minutes or so. Remove with a slotted spoon.
  3. Finely mince the beef. Mash the potatoes and carrots with a potato masher.

I served these in two little piles on Veronika’s tray, an adorable deconstructed “stew”.

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Create a Sensory Tunnel

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Today, with big brother off to kindergarten (!), I had time for a bigger project than usual with Veronika. Using two old moving boxes from the garage, I opened up all the flaps and then nested them slightly one inside the other to form one long tunnel.

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Hmm, the box was intriguing, but Veronika didn’t head inside just yet.

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Next I poked three holes along the top. I stuffed in three socks, all with different patterns. One sock I left empty, one I stuffed with newspaper for a crinkly effect, and one had a musical rattle inside.

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Interestingly, the empty sock was her favorite. She loved trying to catch it and tug on it.

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She seemed quite determined to pull it all the way from the box, and was amazed every time it sprang back into place (Note: you can knot the socks at the top if needed, to keep them secure).

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I placed a few tantalizing toys inside (balls, cars), and finally that did the trick. In she goes!

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She looked absolute thrilled with her surroundings once inside, her own little fort! If you want, you could even make windows, but my boxes were a bit floppy and I skipped that step so that the tunnel didn’t cave in.

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She did also try lying on her back to kick at the socks, but preferred sitting up to play.

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What a fantastic morning of fun!

Pudding Painting

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Veronika is almost old enough to start making her first works of art, but there’s one problem with this girl: everything goes in her mouth! The solution, if your baby is the same, is edible paint.

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Today, I whipped up a batch of vanilla pudding (Whole Foods 365 is vegan). Let the pudding chill in the fridge, then add food coloring for “paint” colors.

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I gave Veronika a paint brush, which instantly made her look so proud; she’s seen big brother paint, and now it was her turn.

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Turn a little of the pudding paint out onto a highchair tray (or tape down paper, if you prefer) and let your little artist go to town.

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First she just made a few smears. Then she wanted to focus more on the paintbrush. Once the tip of it got in her mouth and she discovered the pudding was yummy…

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…her smile was priceless. Then she really got her hands into the mix.

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I showed her how to make circles and squares, plus a few letters.

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Soon we had green, where or blue and yellow “paints” had mixed.

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This was a fantastic foray into the world of art, as she nears 10 months old!


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Solar Energy and Water

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This quick experiment seemed like a good way to illustrate the power of the sun for Travis, especially as he learns about how solar energy can power homes and more. Unfortunately our results weren’t spectacular, but perhaps you’ll have a more clear-cut outcome!

Set two cups of water on 2 pieces of paper, one white, and one black, somewhere that receives direct sunlight. Theoretically, the water on the black paper should warm up more quickly, as the black absorbs the sun’s heat, while the white reflects it.

Travis helped test this in two ways.

First, we tried ice cubes, expecting the one on the black paper’s water to melt faster.

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But oh no, our ice cubes might not have been the same size, because the white side melted more quickly!

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Next we tried a thermometer. We left the two cups of water to heat up in the sun for a few hours, then headed out with a thermometer to check.

Again, sadly, the results weren’t very pronounced. The black water might have been a degree or two warmer, but on our small dial, that was hard for Travis to appreciate.

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Either way, at least the experiment got him thinking, and he got a dose of science and a little sunshine in the morning!