Imagine

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The bittersweet moment has come, at 20 months old, that Veronika is ready to wean. Part of me is glad and so proud to see her reach this milestone, but part of me will miss it!

We’re in need, therefore, of a new calm-down bedtime ritual to replace lullabies and breastfeeding. Instead, I’ve started to hug her close as I tell her a story.

Oral stories, rather than simply reading from a page, are a great way to get even young toddlers to imagine and visualize. In fact, we’re enjoying the new ritual so much that my plan is to keep adding to the story nightly. Who knows how long it will go!

Almost anything can be a prompt for an imaginative story like this, but tailor it to your child’s favorite things or activities. Or even use it to address fears that have become apparent in your toddler!

To wit, Veronika’s pajamas made me think of rainbows and unicorns, two of her favorite things.

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I began to weave a tale about a girl and her best friend (“Sparkly Neigh”), who is so happy that everywhere she goes, rainbows appear. The tale involves swings, ride-on cars, butterflies, adventures, and more.

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What will your story be about? Please share in the comments!

Glow-Bee

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Next time your kids want to toss a disc back and forth, don’t just play Frisbee; play Glow-bee. All you need are a few glow-in-the-dark sticks to take a regular game up a notch.

First, Travis used paint markers to decorate a clear plastic lid. We used one from an empty yogurt container, although a larger lid might have been better.

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Let the paint dry completely.

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Wait for it to get dark, then add glow sticks! Snap them just before playing, and use hot glue to adhere to the decorated lid.

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This was so fun to toss, even though it wasn’t pitch black.

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The streaks of light still made it look like a little comet shooting through the halls.

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A fun way tire ’em out with a little exercise, right before bed.

Bookmark

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I love crafts that capture the size of my children’s hands or feet at regular intervals, a beautiful way to freeze time, given how fast they grow! I was due for a new craft like this with Veronika, and today I decided to make it a bookmark version!

It was admittedly hard to get Veronika to hold still while I traced her hand and forearm on a sheet of poster board. She giggled when the pencil tickled her, or just seemed surprised at the feeling, but I managed to get a fair approximation.

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Cut out the shape you’ve traced and let your toddler decorate. I thought Veronika might want to use markers, but she was far more into the glitter bottle I pulled out. Knowing she was likely to dump the whole bottle, I put down wiggly lines of glue on her hand shape and then placed it over a second sheet of poster board to catch the mess. Phew, this mostly contained the glitter dump!

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Once decorated, cover your child’s artwork with contact paper, and trim the contact paper to the same shape as the bookmark.

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Don’t forget to write the name and date on the back! This is going to make a beautiful memento when I read. I think we’ll even make one or two more to give to grandparents as gifts!

Quinoa Primavera

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This quinoa dish looks beautiful, thanks to two colors of bell pepper! It’s a great way to introduce quinoa to your kids if they haven’t already tried it.

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups quinoa
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 finely chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 finely chopped cucumber
  • 1 lemon
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  1. Combine the quinoa and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then continue to cook for about 15 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed. Transfer the quinoa to a large bowl.
  2. Add the bell peppers and cucumber. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice over the quinoa mixture. Add the olive oil and vinegar, stirring to combine.

Quinoa Primavera

Doll Washing

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Veronika loves to mother her baby dolls, and frets intensely whenever one gets dirty (a spot of glue, dirt from outside, etc.). So I’ve wanted to give her a chance to wash her dolls in a “bath” for a while now, but all of the ones we own have soft cloth bodies.

When I spotted a tiny all-plastic doll at the toy store, I knew it would be worth the purchase. Sure enough, Veronika wanted to carry”new baby” around all day, and that was before I even trotted out the big surprise. It was New Baby’s bath time!

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I set out a basin of shallow soapy water (use baby shampoo for a tear-free activity), along with a small cloth, a bath toy, a cup for pouring, and some pretend creams and lotion. (Note: Depending on your toddler’s age, feel free to provide real baby powder or lotions for the game).

New Baby was ready for her bath! Veronika so lovingly and carefully attended to this task. She scrubbed New Baby with the cloth, poured water over her head (“shampoo!”), made her jump and splash in the water, and more.

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Midway through the bath, New Baby needed a sip of milk, of course!

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I also used the opportunity to name all of the doll’s body parts, including less common ones like wrists, ankles, and elbows. Mostly, though, I sat back and let Veronika dictate the way that bath time would go.

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Your child can learn so much from this game, whether the above-mentioned body part vocab, the mechanics of washing, and social/emotional learning as well.

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Plus water is fun to splash with!

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When she seemed about to tire of the game, I declared it was time for the doll to get “warm and dry”, which is exactly what I say to her when she needs to towel off. She was so proud to handle this task.

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Take a look at the hug and snuggle that followed! This is exactly how I carry her to warm up after a bath, and it pretty much made my heart explode.

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