Bowl with Bottles

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“Bowling” is a fantastic first sport for babies. Even before coordination develops for kicking, babies love to roll balls… and knock things over! So bowling is a natural choice.

Save your empty plastic bottles for a few days (our pins were recycled sparkling water bottles), and set them up. You can go as high as ten bottles in a classic bowling formation, but Veronika and I started with 3.

I set out a few toy balls and showed her how to aim for the bottles. She loved the crash they made when they knocked over!

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Her favorite way to play was to take one bottle and use that to knock down another one.

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But this still required coordination and forethought, so I loved her variation!

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Hopefully she’ll work up to rolling the ball at the “pins” soon. We can even make it harder with a smaller ball as she gets older!

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Lentils with Spinach and Quinoa

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Lentils are one of Veronika’s favorite foods, and this is an easy way to jazz them up. Cooking the quinoa in the microwave means you only need one saucepan, a bonus come clean-up time!


  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 cup green lentils
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups chopped fresh baby spinach
  1. To prepare the quinoa, combine the quinoa and water in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover and microwave for 4 minutes. Stir, recover, and return to the microwave for a final 2 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the lentils and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the liquid is nearly all absorbed.
  4. Stir in the spinach and cook for a final 2 to 3 minutes, until the spinach wilts.
  5. Add the lentil mixture to the quinoa mixture, then let cool before serving.

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Ways to Give Thanks

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Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and I’m encouraging Travis to think about what that means, and ways he can say and give thanks. Here are a few ideas we came up with, along with some suggestions from Highlights magazine!

First, we wanted to thank a neighbor who’s done a lot for us this year, whether feeding the cat or just popping in to say hi. Travis drew a classic Thanksgiving meal on a plate for her. He loved picking different colors for sweet potato, green beans, and more.


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He even had little round cranberry sauce.

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On the back, I helped him spell out thanks.

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He was so proud of his writing that he decorated a second plate for me with “thank you mama.” If you’re the grown up, turn this special plate into your breakfast plate over the holiday! Highlights suggests that big kids could even make breakfast for a parent as a way to show thanks.

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I also challenged him to think about why he’s thankful for harder tasks in life, like chores and school work. I drew a little picture and listened to his answers, which included getting rewards as a result (his allowance) or feeling proud after.

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Another idea from Highlights is to ask your child to donate a toy to younger cousin or neighbor. Because I know we’ll be doing this over the Christmas season, we skipped the activity today.

Finally, instead of eating a turkey on Thanksgiving, every year we adopt one from Farm Sanctuary. This year’s turkey is named Hank Williams, and Travis is so proud to display the adoption certificate!

How will your children give thanks this year? Please share in the comments!

T.H.A.N.K.S. Scavenger Hunt

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Here’s a cute activity Travis and I did in anticipation of Thanksgiving next week; it turned our regular stroll to the bus stop into a fun hunt! We wanted to find items matching a word that corresponded to each letter of THANKS, so sought out the following:

  • T: Trees
  • H: Holes
  • A: Animals
  • N: Nibbling
  • K: Knobbiness
  • S: Seeds

Trees: This was an easy one, but it had Travis appreciating the trees on our little walk to the bus, whether tall ones or small berry trees.

Holes: Travis is convinced that the hole outside our door is a snake hole. I hope not! Either way, he loves checking it out. Also look for holes up in trees; these might have nests come springtime.

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Animals: We wondered who we would still see this close to winter. Squirrels and chipmunks play and eat in a brier patch on our walk. Here’s one eating an acorn; we even heard him chewing!


And we heard lots of crows calling out this morning, though I couldn’t capture a picture.

Nibbling: Check for signs of animals fattening up for winter! Travis also checked the leaves for caterpillar nibbling, though I told him it was probably past their season.

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Knobbiness: Look for neat burls in trees. Travis had fun spotting a few of these on the walk.

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Seeds: Acorns are an easy find, but we also found larger seeds. And these showed signs of nibbling! Also keep an eye out for maple keys or other familiar seed pods. 

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I’ll leave you with this stunning frosted leaf Travis found. We are thankful for the beauty of nature!

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