Couscous with Grated Zucchini & Carrots

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This hearty meal has nearly all the food groups in one for your baby or toddler! The flavors are mild, but big kids will enjoy it too.


  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon canola oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup grated zucchini
  • 1/2 cup carrot, cut into half moons
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1 cup cannellini beans
  1. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the couscous, water, and 2 tablespoons canola oil; cover and cook for 2 minutes. Fluff with a fork and sprinkle with the flaxseed.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the zucchini and carrot in a microwave-safe bowl; steam for 3 minutes, until the carrot is very tender.
  3. Heat the remaining teaspoon canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Stir in the zucchini, carrot, and cannellini beans.
  4. Add the carrot mixture to the couscous and stir to combine.

Calming Sensory Play

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Veronika was uncharacteristically fussy this afternoon, so I knew exactly which sensory game to pull out. All you need is a large bin, a bulk bag of rice, and lavender essential oil.

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Pour the rice into the bin. Add just two to three drops of lavender oil; you really don’t want more than that, as essential oils are quite potent. Be aware, too, that lavender oil can cause skin reactions and stop immediately if you notice your baby having one.

First, I simply let Veronika smell the oil. She seemed calmer already!

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I put a few cups into the bin and poured the rice back and forth.

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The scent drifted up to us instantly, and Veronika was hooked. I showed her how to let the rice run through her fingers and she followed suit.

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She was soon quite busy, digging in her fingers and trying out the cups.

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Then she discovered that when she picked up a handful of rice and tossed it on the floor, it made a satisfying scattering sound.

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She continued this with such pleasure that I didn’t mind the mess, and clean-up was an easy matter of using a dust pan once she was through.

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And at the end, she truly did seem calmer than when we had started.

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Clapping Games

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We took a little pause today for musical and rhythmic fun with the most basic instrument of all – our clapping hands! I sat down and did a simple clapping pattern for Veronika: lap once, clap twice.

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She froze, enthralled, and then almost instantly began trying to copy me. Her “lap” tended to tap on her chest, but I could tell she was trying intently to copy my rhythm.

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I recruited big brother Travis who made up the next pattern. He was proud of his rhythm, involving numerous taps on legs and then clapping.

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Veronika started bouncing with excitement. You could practically see the rhythm in her whole body as we “danced” to our clapping instrument hands.

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We added music to really make it a dance party and continued clapping and bopping in simple patterns. This was such a beautiful pause in an otherwise hectic day. So don’t forget how rhythmic babies are naturally, almost from birth, and get clapping!

Shofar for Yom Kippur

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We don’t celebrate Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar (which begins tonight and lasts until tomorrow), but there was a nice craft to commemorate the holiday in Travis’s Highlights magazine. It was a good chance to teach a little about another culture and have some crafting fun.

As some background, Travis and I learned how a shofar (traditionally made from a ram’s horn) is blown at services to signal the end of a 25-hour fasting period. The day is about repentance and atonement, and this cardstock version of the shofar can hold your child’s apologies and hopes for the year ahead.

First, I traced a horn shape on brown cardstock twice and cut out.

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Because our cardstock was quite dark, Travis chose to decorate it with glitter pens.

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Once decorated, punch two holes near the top.

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Glue one piece of cardstock to the other, making sure not to glue along the top edge so you are left with a pocket.

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Into this pocket, we slipped promises and apologies. Travis had some sincere thoughts, like promising not to be naughty at home and promising to be better at wake up time (instead of getting up on the proverbial “wrong side of the bed”). It was a good chance to practice handwriting, too!

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Slip a blue ribbon through the holes you punched in the top and hang the shofar to celebrate the holiday!

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Felt Tangrams

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Consider me a tangrams convert; these puzzles have turned out to be a fantastic way for Travis to entertain himself in those moments when I need him occupied. If you don’t want to purchase a set from the store, make a quick version from felt!

I cut out the various shapes that make up a tangram set using a different color for each shape. I free-handed the following: large triangles, small triangles, squares, trapezoids, and hexagons.

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Now simply print out pictures of tangrams and set your child to work. If the picture printed out big enough, Travis could work right on the paper.

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More of a challenge were small diagrams that he then had to design on a surface next to the paper.

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Look mom, a helicopter!

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This easy project is sure to keep hands and minds busy!