Lentil Stew

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Thicker than a traditional lentil soup, this recipe is great for babies practicing with a spoon, so they don’t spill too much broth!


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1 small diced onion
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 vegetable bouillon cube
  • 1 cup chopped carrot
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup lentils
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and onion; saute for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the water, bouillon, carrots, celery, lentils, and tomatoes. Cover and simmer for about 35 minutes. Uncover and simmer a final 10 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

Snowman Craft Challenge

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Travis had lots of laughter tackling this month’s craft challenge from Highlights magazine: to make a snowman using anything except cotton balls. This very open-ended project had Travis raiding the craft bin for anything that seemed snowman-like: think white and fluffy. We also thought about accessories: orange for carrot noses, pom poms for buttons, etc.

On his suggestion, I cut out two circles from white felt to be the snowman’s body. From there, Travis veered in a decidedly nontraditional direction!

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First we used old thread and wiggle eyes for the face. Travis glued on a piece of string upside down to make it a sad snowman – oh no!

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Then he decided it was sad Santa (because no one believed in him!), and added red pom poms buttons and a “belt,”

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The snowman got sillier and sillier from there, briefly adorned with holiday-patterned cupcake liners, and then soon denuded of its items.

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Travis thought ripping things off the felt was almost as fun as crafting them on. I guess snowmen do melt!

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Simple Games

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I was reminded today simply to look around the house and find items that can become a game for a one-year-old, no newfangled toys or complicated set-up required. And boy did Veronika and I come up with a lot to do!

First up, I pulled out an old art favorite: scribbling on cardboard with jumbo crayons. This is the easiest art project ever for budding artists.

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Then we found fun gadgets around the house; in particular, I’ve learned that toddlers like old-fashioned phones and anything that looks like a remote!

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Or pass a roll of duct tape back and forth. Veronika loved rolling it.

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Or thread pipe cleaners into the bottom of a colander. I thought this might be a bit ambitious at her age, but to my delight Veronika very intently worked at it and loved getting the pipe cleaner right in a hole. She had quite the knack for it!

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And when all else fails, empty water bottles are fantastic fun to crinkle.

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Next we tested if she was ready for stickers. This fine pincer motion was a bit advanced, but she loved watching me transfer stickers from sticker sheet to cardboard, and gave it a few tries.

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She seemed a bit flustered that she couldn’t pull them back up again, though!

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For still more simple fun around the house, don’t forget household chores. She helped me water plants…

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(and the Christmas tree)

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And then turned the watering can into a toy.

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Babies also love to wipe up surfaces.

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To cap it all off, we turned clean-up into a game. “My turn, your turn,” I said, as we tossed Duplo back into a box.

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She was so proud!

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What gadgets do you turn into toys at home? Please share in the comments!