Sunday, February 24, 2013

Texture Runway

Kz is officially moving! He crawls in and out of every nook and cranny that he can squeeze himself into. I've tried to carve out some extra space for him to roam in our apartment but finding a good stretch of land for him to tear through has been a bit challenging. He inevitably ends up crawling towards the corners of the walls, the bathroom, the standing lamp, the electrical cords...just about anywhere that is bound to have him bumping his head and crying for help. (Yes, our apartment is "baby-proof" but there are just some things that can't be safety-fied).  Anyway, I decided that I would create a space that Kz would be free to explore without having to worry about me coming over and pointing him in another direction. While Kz took his first nap, I scurried around the house gathering different materials that had unique textures. My mind started racing as I imagined creating textured floor boards with glued objects, textiles and strings. Then, I got ahold of myself and settled on some crumpled packing paper, an oversized plastic bag, some reused bubble-wrap, a thick blanket and my underused yoga mat.

I set Kz at the start and watched, poised with the camera ready. He sat up, carefully eyed the runway and looked up at me, puzzled. Right. Some incentive. I ran to the other end and motioned for him to come. And he did!

He was a little uneasy at first as he tentatively covered the foreign terrain. He moved slowly, occasionally stopping to prop himself up on each of the different textures. He would touch them, crinkle them and shake them before venturing onto the next. 

 I learned a little something about Kz during this experience. While he participated in the activity and seemed interested enough to play, he was a bit cautious. I'm not much of a risk-taker but part of me expected this little boy to barrel right through the runway without reservation. It was interesting to see how instead, he carefully navigated his way through (and sometimes around) the different materials. I was most curious to see what his reaction to the bubble wrap would be.  I specifically placed it on the end because while I was making the runway, I accidentally stepped on it and the popping noise scared the living daylights out of me. I figured that Kz would either hate it or absolutely love it, but putting it at the end would at least ensure that he would try the rest of the runway before making the decision. 

Drum roll please...

Wait, oops. I should have taped that down. Let's try again. 

Do you know what this face means? Me neither. But it isn't accompanied by tears, so we have to assume that he doesn't totally hate it. 

He hung out on this section for a while trying to figure out what was making all that racket. I showed him by popping one or two of the bubbles with my fingers. Then I picked him up and set him down at the start again. He crawled with much more vigor the next few times and all in all I think the texture runway was a success.  Here is a closeup of the different textures I used but be creative! Anything goes (as long as it wouldn't be uncomfortable or unsafe for your child to crawl on, of course). 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Snow Day Fun

When Nemo hit, we were kinda bummed since we had planned to take a trip to our beloved NYC that weekend. That said, the amount of snow sure didn't disappoint. Nearly two feet piled at our front door! There was also a statewide ban on driving so there was no doubt that our day would be spent largely indoors. The thought of a baby cooped up for twenty four hours is enough to make any mom transform into a creative genius. Here are some of the fun things we did: 

I used contact paper (sticky paper) and placed some fun items of different textures on it for Kz to find and explore. The paper is transparent so I stuck the protective paper underneath to provide a solid white background. This helped to make the colorful objects pop.  Picking up some of the objects was a challenge but it made it all the more interesting to Kz.

 He can finally move around pretty efficiently so he scooted around the periphery of the paper, occasionally testing the stickiness with his feet.

 When he accidentally scooted his entire body onto the paper, he got a bit frustrated. Don't worry, I rescued him shortly after snapping this photo. Hehe.

After Kz's first nap, we suited up and attempted to brave the outdoors. We quickly used Kz as a measuring stick before stumbling onto the front path. Three waist-deep steps later and I was spent. Luckily, it wasn't so cold outside so we took in the view from our lawn, touched the snow, looked up at the snow-lined trees and marveled at the icicles surrounding the windows.

There were still some flurries coming down so Kz batted his eyelashes and giggled at the cold flakes on his cheeks. I held him up so he could touch the low branches of the trees. He shook them and watched the snow float down around us. Something about the snow is so magical. The stark white picturesque view, the intense hush of the busy street. I could stay outside for hours in this weather. Alas, I worried that Kz was becoming too cold and we trudged back to our door and spent the next half hour taking off the many layers of clothes we've piled on ourselves.

I couldn't miss an opportunity to let Kz explore the clean snow up close and personal so I grabbed a glass container and filled it with the fluffy stuff. I added a cupcake tray, some spoons, and some old container lids to use as tools.

We worked on a waterproof mat which managed the water from the spillover pretty well. I laugh when I look at this photo because it's funny that I expected Kz to use the tools I provided.
Silly, mommy. He only needed one tool...

And he used this little hand to shovel fistfuls of snow directly into his mouth. 
For fifteen minutes. 
Without a break.

When he started making this face...

... I knew his lips were numb and it was time to clean up. 

Now it started to get a bit tricky. Kz wasn't quite ready for his nap but he was a bit testy and looking for some attention while he played. I got a little desperate and remembered this simple play idea from I only had clear tape which probably made this much harder for Kz. I can imagine him saying, "WTF?" as he tried to figure out what was going on with his fingers. 

Maybe if I shake my arm really hard...

After this futile attempt, he moved on and started crawling around with the tape on his hand. I admired his nonchalance and removed the tape for him. 

Still cranky, I tried one more simple idea. I took the protective paper from the contact paper I used earlier and gave it a quick crumple. What a great crunching sound! I did it again to get Kz's attention and he reached for the paper.

He scrunched it, shook it, crawled on it...

...and then promptly moved on. Yup. It was finally nap time.

 Kz just started sleeping on his belly and like any anxious and  irrational new mom, I stare at the video monitor to make sure I can see him breathing. On this snowy day, I could not see the reassuring rise of his little chest, so I did what any other anxious and irrational mother would do; I jiggled the doorknob to make him stir. Convinced the tiny noise wouldn't completely wake him up, I watched the monitor as he stirred and blew out a sigh of relief. A moment later, that sigh became a gasp of horror as I watched Kz sit up in his crib and start crying, angry and red-faced like a dragon disturbed from his lair.

Now it was my turn. "WTF." That was not supposed to happen.

So after several failed attempts to put Kz back to bed, I carried him into the living room and met my fate. A cranky baby on a snowy day. I reached for my secret weapon. Crankiness is no match for, duh duh duhhhh...


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Roly Poly Ball in a Bowly

A dear friend gifted us an adorable wooden toy that houses three colored balls and a beautiful rainbow xylophone. Kz occasionally likes to make music with it but he is more inclined to tote the balls around the house, tapping them on different surfaces occasionally to hear the noise they make. When Kz began leaving them in his toy box, I knew it was time to find a way to bring them back to life.

I had seen this simple play idea on Pinterest from this site. The original idea called for a metal bowl, but this large wok was the closest  thing I could find. I put the 3 balls inside and moved them around a bit. They made an awesome noise and Kz immediately reached for the familiar toys. I could tell he was intrigued by the way he continued to replace the balls into the bowl after pulling them out. He really loved banging them against the side of the bowl. He squinted, startled by the loud sound but then smiled and did it again.

After a while, he noticed that he could manuever the balls by tilting the pan! They rolled around and when tilted high enough, popped out. I got a good workout running to the opposite side of the room and replacing them each time. Your welcome, Kz.

Of course, I only had a pan with a handle...

After some of the latest failed activities with Kz, I was relieved to find something he actually liked. This activity really kept him busy and held his attention long enough for me to drink an entire cup of coffee. I mean, the coffee was still hot when I finished it. I know, I know. You don't believe me. Try it and promptly leave your thank you notes in the comment box. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Shaving Cream Sensory Play

I combed some of my favorite blogs and found an activity that a) looked fun, b) seemed appropriate for Kz's age and c) didn't cost me and arm and a leg. It just so happened that my husband called while I was on my way home from the gym and asked me to pick up some shaving cream for him. Shaving cream sensory play it is!

Growing a Jeweled Rose is the guru of all things messy and fun so I chose to model the sensory bag after her own. I placed shaving cream, blue food coloring and yellow food coloring in a Ziploc bag. I made sure to double tape the seal shut using packing tape. I think duck tape would have worked even better but I didn't have any on hand. I mainly taped it because I had horrible visions of Kz smacking the bag and having it explode all over the floor. It turned out to be a doubly good idea since the first place this bag ended up was, of course, Kz's mouth.

When he discovered the bag, he eyed it curiously, reached over and squeezed it once. That was it. One squeeze. 

The following is a list of activities that were more interesting than the shaving cream bag...

This basket,


My camera strap, 

The floor mat, 

Silly faces,

 More floor mat,

And this book.

After a lot of coaxing (and hiding every other toy in the room from sight) Kz touched the bag again. He squeezed it, threw it, trapped it with his feet and ate it. All in all, it kept him busy for about 4.5 minutes. So, this didn't go as planned. I think he's still a bit young for it. If he could talk he would probably say, "Mom, really? What am I supposed to do with this? I can't touch it, I can't eat it. You're killin' me." I'll try this again in a few months. Or, maybe I'll just wait until he can get down and dirty with shaving cream sans plastic bag. Either way, the search for exciting sensory play for babies continues.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Birthday Mush

It's funny how one day you just become a mom. In an instant, you literally stop doing for you and start doing for your baby. There's no easing into it. No cushy transition. At the flip of a switch, you become this new person who cares more about this one little life than you ever could your own. So, "Goodbye," straight hair, skinny jeans and the gym. "Hello," ponytails, leggings and love handles. Day in and day out you do the things necessary to help your child grow, learn, laugh, play, eat and sleep well. And the only thank you is the reward of watching your baby thrive happily in your care. And it's enough, usually.

Yesterday was my birthday. We just moved so I don't have many friends where we live now. My husband made sure to make me feel special and took me to a delicious dinner. He also wrote me two beautiful cards. One was from him, and the other was from Kz. It said:

Dear Mommy,
Happy Birthday! I love you so much. Thank you for being such an amazing mommy and taking such good care of me. I know I can't say thank you yet for everything that you do for me like thinking of so many fun ways to play with me, making me laugh when we roll around together and scream, singing to me, taking me to so many fun classes, waking up in the middle of the night to make me feel better, giving me yummy milky treats and other new and delicious mushy foods... but you should know how much I appreciate and love you and want you to have such a fun birthday. I love you.

When I read it, I cried. Actually, I sobbed. I know that this card was from my husband and not from my son, but it felt like Kz really wrote it. It was as if he was really thanking me. And I didn't think I needed a thank you, but it felt so good. It was encouraging. It made me think, "Ok, I'm doing a good job. I can keep doing this."

I'm not sure if there's anything worth taking from this post. I just wanted to share this moment of gratitude, appreciation, and unconditional love with all of the moms (and dads) out there who do what they do all day, everyday without any special thank you's or cards. Happy Birthday. You are amazing.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Sensory Bottles

Sensory Bottles are all over mommy blogs and baby play websites. It is a way for young children to explore materials that would be otherwise be forbidden for being too small, too sharp, etc. Of course, I had to try making some of my own. I really liked the Iowa Farmer's Wife's bottles. They looked small enough to fit in Kz's hands, and had some really appealing materials inside. See?

I made some that were filled with colored water at first. They were simple and straight forward but Kz lost interest fairly quickly so I scrounged around in my craft draws and here's what I found...

Bells! The noisiest of the bottles makes an awesome jingle sound when Kz shakes it. They have a medium weight (which you can alter depending on how many bells you decide to use in the bottle) and a great gold color.

 I got the idea to rip up some aluminum foil from The Imagination Tree. Her bottles are also great and she gives a list of different materials to try. Check them out here. When turned upside down, the aluminum makes a gentle shaking sound. It's also really light weight making it a great contrast to the jingle bell bottle.

 Obviously there had to be a bottle containing sparkles, sequins and pom poms. Duh.

 Feathers! The lightest of the bottles filled with bright colors that float when shaken.

The possibilities with sensory bottles are endless. I will continue to make more and if any are a real hit, I will post them. So far, these four have become fixtures in Kz's toy bin. He shakes them, watches them roll and of course, eats them. They are definitely worth buying a pack of miniscule Poland Spring bottles that you can drink in practically one sip. Oh! I almost forgot. It was such a pain to get rid of the sticky glue that holds the label. I didn't want to buy Goo Gone ( 'cause that would just be too easy) so I tried a home remedy. I used peanut butter. I piled a little on the glue of about 10 bottles and let it sit for a few hours. Then I used the scrubby side of the sponge and hot water to make sure it was all off. To my surprise, this totally worked! But then I got paranoid about using peanut butter on something Kz was going to put in his mouth and I washed the bottles 10 more times for fear of my son going into anaphylaxis while playing with a toy I made for him. 
Maybe you should just go buy the Goo Gone.

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