Turn Soy Milk into Tofu!

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Travis and I spotted a neat way to turn cow’s milk into cheese on Kiwi Co’s website, by adding an acid (lemon juice) which makes the proteins clump up (the curds) out of the leftover liquid (the whey). All thoughts of Little Miss Muffet aside, we wondered if we could make this work with soy milk!

To start, place 1 and 1/2 cups soy milk in a pot over medium heat. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the soy milk is frothy and hot, but do not let it boil. Immediately remove from heat and add 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Travis and I were thrilled to see it seize up immediately, like tiny flecks of crumbled tofu.

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We strained the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl, resulting in a small bowl of fresh soy “cheese” left behind in the sieve. We added a sprinkle of salt and a drizzle of agave nectar, and did a curious taste test.

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Travis’s expression pretty much says it all; he declared this simultaneously “good but weird”. I don’t recommend this over purchasing tofu at the store, but it was a neat chemistry experiment!

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Monday Through Friday Letter Learning

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When Travis was two years old, I embarked on an ambitious Letter of the Week curriculum that took us on a journey from Z to A (yes, we went in reverse) full of activities, games, and field trips each week. I have beautiful memories of it, but it’s far too ambitious a project for child #2! That said, Veronika is very into letters right now and I want her to be able to devote a week to each letter, even if not in so immersive a fashion.

I was thrilled, therefore, to find this activity-a-day program at Hands on As We Grow, and this week Veronika tested it out on letter A with a few adaptations for her young age.

Monday: Letter Poster

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I started the week printing a picture of an item corresponding to the letter (in this case an apple picture for A), then gluing it to a piece of construction paper and writing out “A is for Apple, a is for apple”. I then wrote a few capital and lower case A/a along the bottom edge of the paper and encouraged Veronika to add a paper clip to each for some fine motor skills.

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If your child is older, you can hide those As among other letters to make it more of a search. Veronika finished by coloring in the apple, then we hung the poster on the wall to serve as a reference point all week. I was so happy that she already recognized A, tentatively naming it for me when I asked.

Now that we had established A as the Letter of the Week, it was on to…

Tuesday: Stomp Obstacle Course

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Monday was fine motor skills and Tuesday was for gross motor skills, specifically: stomping! I wrote A and a on post-it notes (I used seven, but you can go wild and do lots) and placed them around the house. Veronika’s job was to tap them if they were against the wall or stomp them with her feet if down low. She loved dancing on the floor ones, and racing to the door to tap these two:

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As she found each A, I asked her if it was upper case or lower case, a great way to help learn both versions of a letter. Once she had collected them all, we put them on the coffee table for a table stomp, normally a no-no (you can see that big grin!)

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Wednesday: Write in Shaving Cream

This was Veronika’s least favorite of the week, though I thought she would love it! I squirted a thin layer of shaving cream onto a craft tray and then wrote out A and a. My intention was for her to trace over these since she’s too young to form the letters herself. But she was surprisingly squeamish about it and only briefly traced them with a paintbrush instead.

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Thursday: Follow the Letter Grid

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I wrote out a series of As (using only capital letters this time) on a long sheet of butcher paper, then added a few “false” trails of other letters off to the side. You can make this increasingly harder depending on your child’s age. Kids can either walk along the maze, tape along it with painter’s tape, or (in Veronika’s case), drive cars along it. She immediately recognized the A and loved scooting her cars on the “road”.

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Friday: Chalk Letter Search

This last activity was perfect when we got a burst of early spring weather! We headed out to the back patio and I wrote several As hidden among other capital letters. “Can you find an A?” I asked Veronika. “A!” she said proudly, pointing.

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I wondered if she could circle it with a second color of chalk, and then had to laugh when she took my suggestion to “put green on it” literally.

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Note: If it’s not warm enough for chalk outside, you can do this activity on an indoor chalkboard, or even black poster board with white crayon in a pinch!

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We played that version recently to help her find V for Veronika among a sea of other letters.

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Hands On suggested a few other letter activities like Bubble Wrap Pop or Follow the Tape Maze, making the full suite of activities take 7 days instead of 5. But Veronika is on the young side for those options, and I like that this set gives her the weekend off.

Will we keep this up for all 26 letters moving forward? I may simplify things, but overall this is a great and doable plan with a young toddler!

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Toddler Trampoline

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It can feel like a chore to lift down Veronika’s heavy crib mattress on sheet day, but here’s a way to make lemonade out of lemons if you find yourself feeling the same. While that mattress is on the floor, it becomes the perfect toddler trampoline!

Veronika is learning how to jump (right now she goes up to her toes but hasn’t gotten any lift yet), and is so proud of her efforts. So I when I set down the mattress today, I encouraged her to step up on it and jump! Of course there’s the thrill of jumping on the bed, since normally that’s taboo. She was quite impish as she started prancing around.

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Pretty soon, stuffed animals wanted to jump, too!

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Of course she needed a pause for a puppy hug.

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She loved “jumping” and then flopping down with a flourish.

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If you’re at all worried about your toddler falling off the sides of the mattress, just surround it with a few pillows. When the sheets are clean, the mattress goes back in the crib and the fun ends until next time!

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Mommy White Board Project

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This blog is almost entirely about the games and activities I organize for my children, but very rarely do we as caregivers remember to do something for ourselves. I’ve been wanting a better organizational system for a while (right now I scribble everything on post-its!), but it always felt too indulgent to purchase a big wall planner. Well, it was time to change that! I draw so much inspiration from the fabulous mom behind Hands on as We Grow, so when I saw she had put together this white board system for herself, I knew it was worth the splurge.

I purchased a wall organizer that is half white board and half cork board. You can get super-crafty and hot glue on fabric, or further subdivide the planner with ribbon or buttons. Not being nearly that artistic, I simply dressed mine up a bit with strips of washi tape and then used hot glue to add decorative buttons in a few corners.

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I love that I can wipe off every item of my To Do list now, and I blocked out sections of the white board for our daily schedule, chores, and work-related items.

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The cork side is for pinning up current project or recipe ideas, or school-related notices for the kids.

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Perhaps the best part is that this board is going to save me so much paper in the long run, making it environmentally-friendly, too! No more loose pieces of paper stuck under too many magnets on the fridge.

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