Taco Dinner

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This recipe is perfect for the whole family because it can be adapted to suit everyone’s tastes, from little toddlers to the grown-ups!


  • 1 pound meatless crumbles (such as Gardein)
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup shredded non-dairy cheddar
  • Hard taco shells
  1. To prepare the filling, heat the meatless crumbles and corn in a skillet coated with cooking spray for 8 to 10 minutes, until the crumbles are lightly browned.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the taco spice: in a small bowl, stir together the chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, cumin, paprika, and salt.
  3. Remove any portion of the filling for family members who don’t want spice (e.g. my kids!). Add the taco spice to the skillet with the rest of the filling.
  4. Warm taco shells according to package directions. Serve with the filling, tomatoes and cheddar shreds.

My 1st grader loves the filling stuffed into taco shells with lots of cheese, but omits the tomato.

Meanwhile I serve a sort of deconstructed version to my toddler with the taco shell broken into “chips”, cheese on the side, and a mixture of crumbles, corn, and tomato on her plate.

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And the grown-ups get spicy tacos with all the fixings!

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Water Play

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We suddenly had a day that was 60 degrees and rainy and felt more like fall than summer. And truth be told, I wasn’t ready for it! What do you do when you suddenly can’t head outside for water play, like you’ve grown accustomed to all summer? Bring the water play in.

I wanted Veronika to play for a while as I worked in the kitchen, so all I did was drag in the baby wading pool from our patio and place it on a towel on the kitchen floor. I added toys from our indoor bath, as opposed to beach toys, which instantly made the pool seem novel. Then it was simply a matter of putting her in a swim diaper and putting her in!

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She was initially hesitant to sit, until I added slightly warmer water.

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Once that was taken care of, she was happily scooping and pouring with cups, and enjoying other bathtub favorites like toy frogs and bath books.

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Next time I think I would add her plastic teapot and teacups, too! This is a great way to pass some time when those rainy days start to feel extra long.

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People Blocks

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Veronika hasn’t shown much interest in her building blocks lately. But you can add novelty to any set of blocks by adding family pictures. Suddenly each block has a name and a face!

I cut up old calendar pictures for this game, but you could also have a set printed cheaply at the drugstore. Cut out faces until they fit on your child’s blocks. I think classic rectangular wooden blocks would have worked best, but the game was fine on our foam blocks.

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I attached one relative’s face per block, using clear contact paper to stick them on, while Veronika was napping. She woke up to discover her family!

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This game was great for building of course, encouraging her to use the blocks for quite some time.

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It was also great for putting names to faces, especially for family members we haven’t seen recently due to coronavirus.

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All that aside, there was a definite silly factor. “It’s the daddy block!” she said, stacking the block with her dad’s face. “It’s the Travis block!”

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Her favorite was of a baby cousin, and she almost lovingly carried around the block for a while, cradling it and giving it the best spot in her creations.

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“Let’s but the baby right here,” she narrated as she played.

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This activity was a great way to make an old toy new again. We might have to try it on something other than blocks soon.

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Colorful Clothespins

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Toddlers often fixate on a category when they first learn it (animals, body parts, a new song, etc), practicing endlessly. And then just as suddenly, they drop it! I noticed that Veronika doesn’t name her colors often anymore, so thought that a quick review might be fun. A bunch of empty coffee canisters were the exact tool I needed!

I originally intended to make three sets of coffee can + matching clothespins in the primary colors of red, yellow, and blue. But I had no blue paint or paper! Instead, I painted two cans (red and yellow), and covered the third in purple construction paper. Either method works fine.

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Then use paint or marker to color craft clothespins (i.e. the kind with no spring) in corresponding colors.

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I gave Veronika a whole jumble of the clothespins the next morning, and first she just wanted to play with them for a while.

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Then I asked her, “Where does your purple clothespin go? Purple goes in the purple can!”

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“Purple in purple!” she said with delight. After that, I really didn’t have to guide her on this; she loved matching the clothespins into the can of the same hue.

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Although of course sometimes there was a rogue yellow in the red, for example.

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I left the cans open, with no lids, so she could easily drop in the clothespins. That kept the focus on the color aspect of the game.

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That said, don’t forget that clothespins and coffee cans are also great for practicing precision (dropping through a hole in the lid) or for honing the pincer grip (if you use spring-type clothespins).

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To remind her of this, we did momentarily place the clothespins around the rim of a paper plate, which then became another fun activity all on its own.

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