Community Matters

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I’ve moved three times since having children, and each time, there are two places in a new town that I head to first: the town library and the town recreation center. Both are a goldmine of information and opportunities – usually free or low cost – for children of all ages. They are also focal points of the community, which can be a great way to connect with other parents, find a way to get involved in the community, or just have a place to go on a rainy day for play.

To wit, Veronika and I have already found a baby yoga class at our new town library, a fantastic chance to connect with babies about her age. Make sure to pick up a local flyer or calendar so you know what’s coming up next: story hour and toddler singalong are both on our list!

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Rec centers usually have many options, too, and we’ll be checking out the open gym play for her gross motor skills in the fall and winter.

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What’s your favorite baby program in your town? Please share in the comments!

Yoga Relaxation Walk

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It’s useful to have poses or tricks for those times your baby is hard to settle, and today I tested out this yoga-inspired method.

If you don’t own a yoga belt, no worries – simply lay a long strip of fabric down on the floor. My husband’s ribbon belts were perfect for this!

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I held Veronika over one shoulder, and walked along the belt with small steps. Keep your knees slightly bent and your spine straight, and concentrate on putting your feet one in front of the other. It was great to hum to Veronika as I walked, too.

I confess that I like the calming pose better, but this move had the advantage of taking up so much concentration that it gave me a mental break from a crying baby.

If baby’s cries are getting on a big sibling’s nerves, the game can also be fun for them. I told Travis I was challenging him to walk in a straight line along the belt, and he had a blast setting them up on the floor and testing it out, a nice distraction.

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In sum, this is a good trick to have up my sleeve!

Om in the Outdoors

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Our beautiful morning sunshine is inspiring us to get outdoors these days, for everything from exercise to painting. This morning, I asked Travis if he thought it would be fun to take mommy’s yoga mat out into the grass, which was met by a super-enthusiastic “Yes!”. We’ve done mommy & me yoga together since he was a toddler, but sometimes changing up the location is all it takes to re-ignite a child’s excitement.

First we did some old favorites. Tree pose!

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We also like doing the blossom move: Lie flat on your back with your arms stretched above your head. Sit up slowly and bend all the way forward to reach your toes. Lie back down again and repeat.

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Travis then announced he wanted to make up his own poses! Most of these were inspired by the items in his immediate vision, so soon we had pinwheel pose (spinning around):

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…and pipe pose (standing straight with arms up above head).

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What poses would you and your child come up with? Head outside and enjoy the sunshine and the mindfulness! We can’t wait to hear about it in the comments.

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Y Week!

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Week 2 of my modified Letter of the Week play with Travis was a huge success – I’m so glad I embarked on this project, as it gives me ideas for introducing new concepts and games each week, while promoting letter and sound recognition. Below is just some of the fun Travis and I had during Y week. If you missed it, don’t forget to checkout what we did in Z week!

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Yarn: A fantastic material for play, including making yarn sculptures and yarn squiggles on sandpaper. Another neat idea is to loop a long piece of yarn (in yellow of course!) over and around furniture while your toddler naps, and then surprise them with a little snack or toy tied to the end when they wake.  Be sure to supervise all yarn play closely, as the strings can be a choking hazard.

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Yo-Yo: You’re never too young to enjoy this oldie but goodie! Travis loved watching my husband perform yo-yo tricks, and gave it a try himself a few times over the course of the week.

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Yeast: One of my favorites from the week; I introduced the magic of “hungry” yeast, and it’s amazing ability to make things rise. I won’t go step-by-step through the baking project we did, as another blogger has already done so, but this easy bread recipe is a fantastic intro to yeast for toddlers, including “feeding” the yeast, letting it “sleep,” etc… and ending with yummy Y-shaped breadsticks! Travis was entranced.

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Another great yeast experiment is to inflate a balloon with nothing more than water, yeast, and sugar. You’ll notice though that Travis was equally interested in sweeping up some spilled yeast off the floor!

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I confess watching the balloon inflate was exciting, even as an adult!

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Yacht: We took advantage of late summer weather to stroll the docks in a nearby town! Okay, maybe none of the boats we saw technically classified as a “yacht,” but Travis didn’t know the difference and was very excited we were seeing big boats.

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You: This can be a tricky word for kids; I call you “you” but you are supposed to call yourself “me” – confusing, right? So it was nice to focus on the word here during Y week. One great “you” game is to take a large piece of butcher paper and trace your toddler – then say, “It’s you!”

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Label body parts, invite your child to color the outline in, then hang “you” on the wall. Travis was delighted with this game, and not only wanted me to trace him again the next day, but wanted a turn “tracing” me.

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Yoga: A huge hit! I had hoped to find a Mommy & Me yoga class in the area, but failing that, I turned to a YouTube video. Travis loved it, mimicked all the poses (with varying degrees of success), and couldn’t get enough of child’s pose at the end. “Yoga” was a new word for him, and he quickly identified that it started with “Y” while looking at our week’s poster.

Beyond those games, here were a few more highlights from our week:

Fine art: Yellow is the name of the game, of course! First, we had fun with Travis’ crayons, exploring all the various shades of yellow from light to dark. Then, I suggested he add a little yellow paint. He had so much fun that the yellow crayon was soon covered.

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We finished with gluing practice, putting down pieces of yellow yarn.

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Food: Yogurt is an obvious choice of course, and we kicked off the whole week with a vanilla soy yogurt at dessert, while I showed him our Y poster. Later in the week, Yogurt-Cup Cake gave us a great baking project. He loved being in charge of his measuring cup, and needed to sample a piece as soon as the cake was out of the oven. For dinner one evening, I made sure our veggie of the night was yams.

Books: I checked several Y-titled books out of the library, but these three were the favorites, read on repeat all week: Yaks Yak by Linda Sue Park; Yawn by Sally Symes, and Yoohoo, Ladybug by Mem Fox.

Song: Yellow Submarine was the sleeper hit of the week! I played a clip once and Travis paraded around singing it the entire rest of the week.

Math: Two calindrical concepts begin with Y:  Year and Yesterday. Magnet calendars are a great way to introduce both! I certainly didn’t expect Travis to perfect the concept of either at this age, but each morning we would set up the calendar, and emphasize what day was yesterday, and then talk about what we did yesterday. I was impressed with the way he latched on to the concept!

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Signing off until X week!